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Bon Iver Channels Donny Hathaway, Bonnie Raitt on Fallon

Justin Vernon‘s star has steadily risen since the release of his band Bon Iver‘s critically acclaimed 2008′s For Emma, Forever Ago. The follow-up, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, won’t be released until June 21, but the lead single “Calgary” is available for free download from the band’s website, and Vernon appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon?but to perform not the single, but its B-side, his emotive take of Bonnie Raitt‘s 1991 mega-hit “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” with a snippet of Leon Russell‘s “A Song for You” (made famous by Donny Hathaway) as a lead-in and a bit of Raitt’s “Nick of Time” as a coda.

Vernon’s sorrowful falsetto impressed not only Fallon (who described For Emma, Forever Ago it in his interview with Vernon as a “fantastic record” to “have a couple glasses of wine, get drunk…and start crying your eyes out”) but also Kanye West, who recruited Vernon to sing the hook of “Lost in the World” on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and invited him to appear onstage with West at Coachella.

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Inside Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside

MTV’s documentary Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside, which premieres Thursday, May 26th at 9pm ET, promises an exploration of how Stefani Germanotta found her way to becoming the Lady Gaga we all know so well. That’s a bit of an overstatement?the documentary is primarily based on a conversation conducted with a horned and felt-birthmarked Gaga in a single spotlight on a stage?but even in this mediated form it’s fairly revealing. A portion of the interview retreads ground covered before, as in Vanessa Grigoriadis‘s March 2010 profile of Gaga for New York, but Gaga does meet the filmmakers somewhere near halfway, plus filling in the blanks of the Gaga narrative, for example explaining that her fascination with wigs and with the permeability of her hair stemmed from her inability to get lead roles in musical theater (specifically, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls) as a brunette.

What comes across most strongly in the documentary is Gaga’s relationship with her father, a strict but supportive man who bequeathed his love of music (in particular, Bruce Springsteen) to his daughter. Gaga frames much of her early years in context of finding her own way outside of her father’s influence (but not too far): she remarks, “I needed to f**k myself up and go to ground for a couple of years” but admits that her father paid half of her rent for three of the twelve months she spent finding herself in a studio on the Lower East Side (a largely solitary experience that may have unconsciously inspired her fascination with incubation).

Another revealing aspect is the way Gaga describes herself and her fans, and their relationship. “I’m a perpetual underdog,” she says, which seems an odd thing to say when one is the most media-saturated pop star on the planet right now. Yet when she speaks of insecurity and being bullied in high school, she almost subconsciously connects this with the struggles she believes her fans might now experience, which draw them to her music. Her 2007 obsession with Rhonda Byrne‘s The Secret (per the New York piece) has evolved into a nonreligious evangelism, in which Gaga has achieved her dreams and she believes her monsters can and will do the same. Certainly this explains why Gaga can be so simultaneously annoying and compelling.

The filmmakers are currently finishing post-production?the rough cut shown today is missing an entire exploration of Gaga’s interaction with, and experience of, New York City?but even in this state it was indeed compelling. Tune into MTV on Thursday night at 9 p.m. to see the complete documentary.

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Was Beyonc?’s Billboard Music Awards Performance Plagiarized?

As Beyonc?‘s show-stopping 2011 Billboard Music Awards performance spread across the internet yesterday, Vulture noticed that an eagle-eyed fan recognized the screen-projection portion of the choreography as strikingly similar to a performance by Italian television personality Lorella Cuccarini at the 2010 Sanremo Festival. This enterprising viewer placed the performances side by side in one video, for comparison’s sake (viewable above). But upon watching the Cuccarini performance alone, the suggestion of plagiarism gets a lot more complicated:

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Storytellers Sneak Peek: Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie‘s new album Codes and Keys will be released a week from tomorrow, but you can hear the band perform three tracks from the album on VH1′s Storytellers: Death Cab for Cutie, this Friday night at 11 p.m. ET/PT. We’ve shared this performance of the album’s lead single with our friends at Rolling Stone (and, of course, with you). Tune into VH1 on Friday night to hear the band open up about Codes and Keys‘s title track and album closer “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” as well as tracks from four previous albums, reaching back to their 1998 debut Something About Airplanes. Read more…

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Top 20 Sneak Peek: Jason Derulo, “Don’t Wanna Go Home”

Jason Derulo‘s “Don’t Wanna Go Home” premieres online on Wednesday in advance of its appearance on VH1′s Top 20 Countdown Saturday at 9 a.m. ET/PT, but we (and our MTV siblings) have an exclusive thirty-second sneak peek, which you can see above!

“Don’t Wanna Go Home,” the lead single off Derulo’s forthcoming Future History, samples the 2009 remix of Robin S.‘s early-nineties house classic “Show Me Love,” while lyrically riffing on Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”?namely “daylight comes, and we don’t wanna go home.” Written out, it sounds like an unworkable combination, but Derulo pulls it off! I mean, he is the the guy who wrote a hit single around the “Dear Sister” break, so it shouldn’t really be surprising.

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Gaga Assists the SNL Motherlovers on “3-Way (The Golden Rule)”

With Lonely Island featured player Justin Timberlake hosting the season finale of Saturday Night Live, it’s no surprise that he and Andy Samberg reprised their roles as the “D**k in a Box” duo (the pair who may as well be called “Color Me Really Really Bad, Like, Awful”). But their riff on the “Same Girl” gets a Shyamalanian twist: the “girl” is played by none other than musical guest Lady Gaga, and she suggests the titular “3-way”: Read more…

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2011 Billboard Music Awards: Highlights and Lowlights

HIGHLIGHT: The use of remixes in performance segments. Even excluding the two Britney Spears features (records that we like, but which could be industry warning signs), Ke$ha‘s performance featured a segment of the Cirkut remix of “Blow,” and Cee Lo Green‘s medley included an extended version of the spaghetti-Western break that Danger Mouse sampled for the “Crazy” beat, plus an electro remix of “Forget You.

LOWLIGHT: Britney’s feature spots themselves. It’s hard to know what to make of her enervated performances, especially when her companion was practically using his arm as a seatbelt on her when they were in the audience, and while her father is insisting she’s mentally unfit to give legal testimony, but she was handily shown up by both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj (who first came out dressed as a member of G.I. Joe nemeses C.O.B.R.A. only to have that armor stripped off her by someone in a chicken suit, and then replicated the lapdance choreography she performs on tour). This does not bode well for her upcoming tour, but more than that, we’re just worried about her!

HIGHLIGHT: Cee Lo, on the other hand, was in fine form, and we salute his continuing stylistic tributes to Elton John. ?Apparently the Muppet-”Crocodile Rock” Grammys homage wasn’t a one-off, judging by Green’s bedazzled outfit and glasses (not to mention the piano, which he didn’t appear to play at all).

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Beyonc? Dominates the 2011 Billboard Music Awards

After a five year absence, the Billboard Music Awards returned in full force to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last night. The awards are largely determined by airplay, sales, and fan engagement, so there’s not a ton of suspense about who the winners will likely be?so the ABC telecast wisely focused on the performances, not the awards, making for a much more engaging show (more like a VMAs than a Grammys).

The best performance, by a long shot, was Beyonc?‘s Millennium Award package. After a black-and-white interview segment in which everyone from Beyonc?’s parents to Barbara Streisand to First Lady Michelle Obama sang her praises, a countdown began (starting from 4, the title of Beyonc?’s new album) and then her meticulously choreographed “Run the World (Girls)” performance began. Read more…

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New Season of Behind The Music To Feature Adam Lambert, Ricky Martin, Missy Elliott And More

Behind The Music, one of the most beloved series in the history of our network, is celebrating its 14th anniversary this August. Next month, a brand new cycle of shows debuts, featuring intimate looks at the lives and careers of some of the biggest stars in the music industry: Adam Lambert, Ice Cube, Missy Elliott, Ricky Martin, Mary J. Blige, Enrique Iglesias, and Miranda Lambert. What you’re about to read is a press release that’s just hitting the wires … NOW!

VH1?S ICONIC MUSIC SERIES BEHIND THE MUSIC RETURNS WITH SEVEN ALL NEW EPISODES BEGINNING IN JUNE

FEATURED ARTISTS INCLUDE RICKY MARTIN, ADAM LAMBERT, MARY J. BLIGE, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS MIRANDA LAMBERT, MISSY ELLIOTT AND ICE CUBE

Behind The Music: Missy Elliott Kicks Off The Season on Wednesday, June 29 at 10 PM ET/PT

SANTA MONICA, CA ? May 23, 2011 – VH1?s most celebrated music documentary series Behind The Music returns with seven of today?s most successful and celebrated artists. The five-time Emmy? Award-nominated series gives viewers a front row seat to the most exclusive and intimate interviews with the artists as well as their families, friends and colleagues. Featured this season are Missy Elliott, Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Mary J. Blige, Enrique Iglesias, Adam Lambert and Ricky Martin. Beginning on Wednesday, June 29 at 9 PM ET/PT with Behind The Music: Missy Elliott, the series will bring viewers never-before-seen footage of these talented musicians and the people who know them best.

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Song Countdowns for the End-of-the-World Countdown

As we all know, the Second Coming foretold in the Book of Revelations is due to arrive September 15, 1829 October 22, 1844 September 11?13, 1988 this Saturday, May 21, 2011, so it’s time to prepare for the Rapture. (No, not that one.) So, unless you get Left Behind, Kirk Cameron style, you have a limited time to listen to music! Which is why we have saved you some time by preparing playlists:

THE LAST FIVE SONGS FOR TRUE BELIEVERS by Nick Minichino
5) “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash: In case you forgot what’s about to happen, this song is a handy primer.
4) “The Four Horsemen” by Metallica: The Rapture is going to be rough, so this track from Metallica’s 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All will get you in the right mental state for what’s ahead.
3) “B.I.B.L.E.” by GZA featuring Killah Priest: It’s an acronym for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. Plus, it samples the Ohio Players! Nuff said.
2) “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone: It’s important to feel true remorse for those who will not be saved, and this powerful song will do the trick. Warning: if you feel any schadenfreude, that’s pride?a mortal sin?so be careful before you condemn anybody who won’t be coming with you.
1) “Jesus Is Waiting” by Al Green: Call Me, Green’s sexiest album, ends with this gospel precursor to R. Kelly‘s “Trapped in the Closet,” with the soul star and future reverend performing religious call-and-response with himself, and quipping “Save my soul, and I’ll save some for you.”

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