Since it first came screaming out of the electric womb, hard rock has been a place where musicians let their freak flag fly, from their amped up anthems of abandon to their risque clothing and wild hairstyles. Long flowing hair became de rigueur for members of the ’60s counterculture and there’s no hairstyle as wild and evocative of the era than the Afro. Read more…
Top 20 Live
As part of VH1’s Top 20 Live series, Daughtry recently performed an intimate acoustic set at our New York City offices. Covering the Black Crowes classic “She Talks To Angels,” Daughtry stayed true to the original, in what was an emotive, moving performance. Powerful and heartfelt, the gravelly vocal translated the Black Crowes’ sentiment perfectly, while the acoustic instrumental offered a pared back version of the song, allowing the earnest lyricism to shine. Daughtry also performed some other songs for us, including their new single “Crawling Back To You,” and all we can say is that they were just as magical as their wonderful cover, but you’ll just have to watch this space… We’ll be posting more Daughtry live performance videos for your listening and viewing pleasure this week!
When we shared the Bruno Mars cover that Gavin DeGraw performed, we promised that “Grenade” was just one selection from his Top 20 Live performance, and at long last, we’re happy to present his set in full.
DeGraw kicked off the performance with a deadpan introduction: “My ex-girlfriend has nothing to do with this song. I don’t think about her at all. I’m totally unaffected.” Then he and his guitarist (his only accompanist) launched into a killer rendition of what else but his single “Not Over You.” By the time of the taping, DeGraw probably was over the object of the song, but he can sure sing like he’s not. That, plus his charm, his chops, and his musical sensibilities, are why we’re fans here.
September is nearly over, so we’re preparing to say goodbye to this month’s VH1 Posted artist Demi Lovato?but before we do, we’ve got a few unmissable updates. First up: her installment of Ask Me Anything. “I’m gonna answer as many questions as I can,” she says, and she isn’t kidding?we had to split her answers up into five parts. Eight minutes may not sound like a long time but trust us: for rapid-fire questions on a range of topics, it totally is. Check it out!
We’ve also got the rest of her killer Top 20 Live set for you! We’ve already shared her cover of “How To Love” and her mini-medley of earlier songs (the latter alongside an exclusive set of Music Seen photos), but we haven’t shared any performances of songs from Unbroken?which just debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 (#1 in digital sales). How remiss of us! Above, hear her soulful slow-jam “My Love Is Like A Star,” and be sure to watch the set in full?including, of course, a killer rendition of “Skyscraper” to close out the performance.
When Demi Lovato came to our offices last week to record a Top 20 Live set, she not only surprised us with a Lil Wayne cover, but also proved extremely genial. “Hey guys, thanks for having me! I’m Demi. What’s your name?” she introduced herself, before kicking her set off with the medley, above, of “Catch Me,” a deep cut from 2009’s Here We Go Again, and “Don’t Forget,” the title track from her 2008 debut. That same temperament shines through in the series of photographs our own Jen Marigliano snapped for our Music Seen feature, as she followed Lovato during her day in New York City. After the jump, look behind the scenes at VH1’s Top 20 and check out the elements of Lovato’s bohemian-chic style, and be sure to check back for the rest of her Top 20 Live set.
Last week, when we first saw YouTube footage of Demi Lovato singing Lil Wayne‘s “How To Love” at her Hammerstein Ballroom show, we thought it was merely the latest in what’s increasingly become a trend among pop artists: the “curveball” live cover (more about that later). What we didn’t realize was that the rendition was actually a warm-up for the Top 20 Live set she recorded here at VH1 last Tuesday.
We’ll have the full set for you shortly (and it’s a doozy?including a two-song medley of one track from each of her previous albums and a killer rendition of “My Love Is Like A Star,” an Unbroken song James Morrison co-wrote for her) but we wanted to get this in your hands as quickly as possible. As with her dry run at the Hammerstein, this rendition transforms the song by largely switching the lyrics into a first-person perspective, which is a really great choice; by having the subject speak for herself rather than having Lil Wayne presume to speak for her, Lovato’s rendition sidesteps the original’s virgin/whore dichotomy. Naturally, we loved it.
Last week, we gave you a sneak peek at Gavin Degraw‘s Top 20 Live set, which features his cover of “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. The clip has, as they say, “gone viral,” so we thought this was a perfect time to share with you the reasons why Gavin chose to cover this particular song over all the others. “Stylistically, it was close enough to what I do to have a shot at doing it effectively,” Gavin told us just moments after wrapping his set (which we’ll have for you soon, promise!). “It’s a real stand-out, as far as quality goes. It’s an exciting song to sing. [Bruno Mars] a very talented writer and producer.”
We couldn’t agree more! If you missed the cover the first time around, we’ve got it for you below…
Gavin DeGraw came by our offices this past Friday to record an exclusive Top 20 Live set for us, and we’ll have the whole set for you as soon as we can, but we were very excited about one particular song he performed, so we marked it “HIGH PRIORITY” before we put the master footage in the pneumatic tube (or, you know, however we sent it to the hardworking folks who digitize things around here).
“I’m a little nervous to perform this one,” DeGraw quipped, “as it’s very brand new. I wrote it this morning.” Then he pulled the pin on a killer cover of Bruno Mars‘s “Grenade.” He started with a lyric sheet just in case but quickly set it aside as, backed only by a guitarist, he put his own spin on You Oughta Know alum Mars’s single. We’ll have the rest of DeGraw’s Top 20 Live set as soon as we can, but we wanted to get this one out to you right away. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The road that American Idol winners have to travel is not always paved with gold. Sure, there are but a handful of artists who would turn down the opportunity to have national television exposure every week for five months straight, but as we have seen since the show first debuted in 2002, the same fans who call in to vote for artists week after week don’t always follow their faves to the record store by the time their albums actually come out. And, unless you’re Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, chances are that even fewer fans are still riding your bandwagon by the time your second post-Idol album comes out.
David Cook is looking to be an exception to that rule. After his eponymous post-Idol album went platinum back after its release in 2008, he’s releasing his brand new LP, This Loud Morning, tomorrow. Judging on what we heard when he came through our offices a few weeks back, he’s got a really good chance to become the most successful male Idol winner of all-time. Rather than simply coasting on his fame, he worked extra hard in the studio and stretched himself musically, collaborating with esteemed songwriters like Marti Frederiksen, John Rzenik of the Goo Goo Dolls, hitmaker du jour Ryan Tedder, and many more.
Above, we’ve got David Cook’s outstanding cover of Radiohead‘s “High And Dry” for you, but during his four song, Top 20 Live set performed live here at the VH1 offices, he also laid down “Come Back To Me,”, “The Last Goodbye,” and his mammoth hit off of David Cook, “Light On.” Enjoy!
We’ve had such success with You Oughta Know artists coming to VH1 to play great You Oughta Know Live sets?like Two Door Cinema Club‘s semi-acoustic take on four songs, including “What You Know”?that we knew we had to get more established Top 20 Countdown favorites into our offices, too. And who better to inaugurate our new series than the multitalented Raphael Saadiq?
Even short a keyboardist, a guitarist, and one of his vocalists, Saadiq proved a crack bandleader?and not just thanks to his history with Tony! Toni! Ton?! and as a member of Prince‘s touring band. Vocal sideman B.J. Kemp and the other players onstage weren’t merely hired hands but sharp musicians with whom Saadiq has a history, and whose input he sought during recording. It’s easy to forget, especially when the new jack swing epicenter was in the northeast, that Saadiq is Oakland born-and-raised, but the guitarist came up under the bay city’s twin suns: Sly and the Family Stone and Tower of Power.
That’s why his unique brand of blues doesn’t feel like a history lesson. On “Day Dreams,” guitarist Rob Bacon (whom Saadiq recruited after hearing his effortless replications of sampled riffs for DJ Quik‘s Bay Area hip hop) and bassist Calvin Turner (who’s also got plenty of production and arrangement in his long list of credits, and who also came up on Tower of Power) make the blues form pop with the lightest of touches. (Lemar Carter, drumming on a wooden box, didn’t really have the opportunity to show off his chops, but you can see him get funky on YouTube.)