Lady Gaga Explores The Unnatural With Her “Natural” Bazaar Cover

After Lady Gaga spent the 2011 Video Music Awards in Jo Calderone‘s plain attire, you’d be forgiven for thinking that she went a step further for the October 2011 cover of Harper’s Bazaar, appearing as Stefani Germanotta. Of course, it’s never so simple for Gaga, who would insist that appearing as “herself” would be a betrayal of appearing as her self. Though, as Laura Brown‘s interview explains, the “basically barefaced Gaga is very deliberately dressed down,” this, to Gaga, is just as artificial as any other way she has appeared:

Don’t you think that what’s on the cover of a magazine is quite artificial? There’s this idea that it’s all natural, but everything’s been staged to look natural. It is also an invention. It’s just that my inventions are different. I often get asked about my artifice, but isn’t fashion based on the idea that we can create a fantasy?

Gaga’s point here gets some support from the magazine itself, when a caption in its online Gaga gallery offers the advice, “To get Lady Gaga’s no-makeup look, try Studio Sculpt SPF 15 Foundation ($29.15), Prep + Prime Highlighter ($23), Brow Gel ($15) and Prep + Prime Lash ($15). All M.A.C.”
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Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV Sells Nearly A Million Copies

The 2011 Video Music Awards had quite the effect on this week’s charts. Adele, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga were among the artists posted who posted sales bumps after performances a week ago Sunday. Possibly none of them benefited as much as Lil Wayne, whose album Tha Carter IV went on sale less than an hour after the show wrapped on the East Coast. His performance of “How To Love” and “John” was one of innumerable factors that led to a monster first week sales tally of 964,000.

These numbers are no joke. The album not only hit #1 with a bullet on the Billboard 200 (followed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers with 229,000 copies of I’m With You) but it also could become the second-best-selling album of the year. Granted, the fourth-quarter schedule is packed with heavy hitters like Coldplay, whose Mylo Xyloto drops October 25, but Lil Wayne’s album has already sold more than half in its first week of what Gaga’s Born This Way has sold since its release, without the help of the type of loss-leading that scored Gaga the year’s biggest first week. We doubt any album (from anybody) will come near the three-million-and-counting sales of Adele’s 21, but the race to second place just got significantly more crowded (and more interesting), as we suspect Tha Carter IV will have not-insignificant legs.

MTV VMAs Boost Adele, Beyonce on Billboard 200; RHCP Scores Big Debut [Billboard]

[Image: Getty Images]

by (@unclegrambo)

Irony Alert: Jeff Tweedy Covers The Black Eyed Peas

Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of the critically acclaimed band Wilco, is not really known for his sense of humor. That’s not to say he’s a humorless fellow; rather, it’s just that when he chooses songs to cover, it’s generally because he’s paying homage to artists who have meaning (see: the two records he made with Billy Bragg comprised solely of Woody Guthrie covers).

That was not exactly the case in Chicago last night, where Jeff Tweedy performed at a book party for the release of Dan Sinker‘s The F***ing Epic Quest of @MayorEmanuel. Instead of going the somber route, Tweedy kept with the evening’s light-hearted nature and proved his comedic chops by busting out a solo acoustic cover of the Black Eyed Peas smash, “I Gotta Feeling.” We presume this decision had something to do with the fact that this song was played during the real Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s election party back in February, and the cover was delivered with exactly the right amount of irony that you’d expect from a Generation X icon like Tweedy. He warns listeners early on that his BEP cover “is gonna be bad, gonna be really bad,” but after the seeing the final results, we beg to differ with his assessment.

Jeff Tweedy performs the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” [Time Out Chicago via Growing Pangs]

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Tuned In: The Jim Jones Revue Cut Loose On Letterman

Why are British musicians so good at revivalist music? It’s a question we pondered as we watched London’s Jim Jones Revue tear up the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theatre yesterday on The Late Show With David Letterman. The band considers itself a proud member of a garage rock tradition?Jones himself was a member of Thee Hypnotics?but last night’s “High Horse” was very much rockabilly in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis, albeit with a ragged garage sensibility (think punk with precision). And yet the song is very much pop of today, not some exhumed museum piece. The way in which the band combines current and past elements kind of reminds us of Mumford & Sons, actually.

It helps that the band practically left scorch marks on the stage. Frontman Jones stomped all over, even leaning out over the audience and all but erasing the barrier between crowd and talent. After the song, Letterman, obviously impressed, but never without a punchline, riffed, “This is the part where the mayor bans dancing.”?Back in March Taylor Hanson told us that based on the band’s studio recordings, the Jim Jones Revue was one of his most anticipated acts at this year’s South by Southwest. We can’t imagine that he was disappointed.

Elsewhere on late night…
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by (@unclegrambo)

Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” Is The 2011 VH1 Song Of The Summer

For the last 14 weeks, we’ve been tracking the race to see which track would become this year’s Song Of The Summer. Since people consume music in so many different ways these days, our goal was to put together a democratic formula that compared how a group of over 70 songs performed across five of the primary channels that people frequently use to listen to their favorite jams: the Billboard Hot 100 (radio play & sales), the iTunes charts (pure sales), scrobbles (listening on computer and mobile devices), the YouTube music charts (streams) and, of course, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. Each week, we tracked how our group of competitors fared in each of these different platforms, and then added up the results.

So, without any further ado, we are psyched to announce that Katy Perry has taken home the first place prize in VH1’s first annual Song Of The Summer competition! When the summer began, it looked like Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep” was going to be an unstoppable force, but as soon as Katy dropped her 80s-tastic “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” video during the week of June 27th, she dominated the countdown from there on out. Katy was gracious enough to film an quick speech for us while she accepted our totally awesome Song Of The Summer trophy, which we’ve got for you above.

For you completists, here is our final Song Of The Summer countdown chart (that is, until Memorial Day 2012 rolls around!). And you’re on Spotify, you can subscribe to our VH1 Song Of The Summer 2011 playlist and re-live the summer whenever you want.

[Click here for a larger image]

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Last Lap: Tuesday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

My Chemical Romance Drummer Fired For Stealing
Drummer Michael Pedicone, who joined My Chemical Romance last year, following the departure of Bob Bryar, was abruptly fired on Thursday night. According to a blog post by guitarist Frank Iero, Pedicone “was caught red handed stealing from the band and confessed to police after our show.” Iero also stated that the band does not intend to press charges. This afternoon, Pedicone released a statement via Kerrang! that stated, in essence, that he’d actually been caught attempting to frame a member of the band’s crew for the supposed theft. “I made what was certainly the poorest decision of my life,” he wrote. “Rather than address the issues that I had with the crew member in an open and honest manner, I tried to make them look irresponsible.” And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those pesky Fabulous Killjoys. [AV Club]

Madonna Is Working On A New Album
Madonna just premiered W.E., the historical drama she directed, on Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, but she’s already talking about new music. She’s re-teaming with her Ray of Light collaborator William Orbit and other producers including Martin Solveig (if his name doesn’t ring a bell, “Hello” might). She hopes to have a single ready for January or February and an album in the spring, and whether she hits those marks or not, she’ll certainly be disappearing into the studio for a while after the promotional push for W.E. wraps. [Popdust]
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by (@unclegrambo) To Stream The Concert For New York City: 10 Years Later On Sunday, September 11

Last week, we filled you in on our plans to re-air The Concert For New York City in its entirety, commercial-free, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this Sunday. We are also excited to announce that we’ll also be simultaneously be streaming this event on beginning at 4 p.m. ET. Featuring emotionally charged performances by the likes of Paul McCartney, The Who, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child and more, this one-time only replay will also benefit our friends at the Robin Hood Relief foundation. More details, including a complete list of exactly what time the performances from your favorite artists and actors will be airing, to follow as the week progresses.

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Pearl Jam Celebrate Twentieth Anniversary Live With Friends And Fans

Twenty years ago last month, Pearl Jam‘s Ten was released, and its slow-burn first single “Alive” (not to mention members’ pedigrees from Mother Love Bone and Temple Of The Dog) built the band’s buzz until they exploded with “Even Flow” and “Jeremy.” The rest is history?but certainly worth celebrating, no? Cameron Crowe thinks so: he’s made PJ20, a documentary about the band from inception to present; it hits theaters in two weeks.

Pearl Jam thinks so too. To celebrate the anniversary, Pearl Jam hosted a two-day concert this weekend outside Milwaukee, WI. (It’s not Seattle, but as tickets and lodging go, it beats a cruise!) Each of the bands who participated (including The Strokes, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Mudhoney) played two sets?one each day?and many musicians guested during other bands’ sets. For example, Eddie Vedder turned up during Glen Hansard‘s set to sing the female vocals on the Once duet “Falling Slowly”:
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Newly Lefsetz-Approved Dawes Cover Vic Chesnutt

Since we named Dawes our latest You Oughta Know artist last week, they’ve continued to gain buzz. Example: After seeing the band for the second time in two days, self-styled music industry prognosticator Bob Lefsetz raved about Dawes in his much-read blog The Lefsetz Letter. (It helps that Jackson Browne was an unannounced special guest the second night.)

Meanwhile, we’ve got a bonus clip from the band’s You Oughta Know Live set: a cover of “Where Were You,” by Vic Chesnutt (from the late songwriter’s Michael Stipe-produced 1991 album West of Rome). The band’s rendition gives the alt-country lament a California sheen without losing its plaintiveness. Watch it above!
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Adele’s Pre-Performance Ritual: Puking?

Adele‘s banner year continues with a banner week in British press. She’s on the cover of the September 2011 British Vogue, which hits UK newsstands on Thursday, and though she skipped the red carpet and won’t be performing, she’s at the ceremony for tonight’s 2011 Mercury Prize, which she could very well win. All this acclaim apparently hasn’t done anything for her stage fright, though. In the Vogue interview, she reveals the extent of her pre-show anxiety: “I puke quite a lot before going on stage.”

She is quick to clarify that it isn’t merely performing that has her jittery (“I s?t myself before everything”) but nevertheless insists that throwing up eases her mind: “The bigger the freak-out, the more I enjoy the show!” With this level of performance anxiety, it’s a relief, at least, that she continues not to worry about her body image (no matter how often interviewers raise the specter of it). “I’ve seen people where it rules their lives, …and I don’t want that in my life,” she tells the magazine. Despite a brief romance in May, she insists to the magazine that she hasn’t time for a relationship. “I do get massively distracted when I’ve got someone in my life, which I can’t afford to do right now.”

One thing that may be keeping her busy: recording the latest James Bond theme song. On Saturday she appeared on the debut episode of The Jonathan Ross Show, and Vulture reports that the host got the singer to all but confirm that she would be recording a Bond theme in November for next year’s installment in the film franchise.

[Cover Image: British Vogue; Performance Image: Getty Images]