The 21-year-old British troubadour Ed Sheeran first caught our eye back in February, when his moving rendition of his original song “Lego House” went viral after his performance at this year’s BRIT Awards. However, as soon as we saw him perform a handful of times at this year’s SXSW Music Festival, our admiration for his talent (and his cool demeanor) skyrocketed. With all this in mind, we are excited to announce that Ed has been named as our You Oughta Know artist for the month of May, an honor that he is incredibly well-deserving of.
Ed’s debut album, +, was released in the U.K. in September of last year, where it entered the charts at #1 and has sold over 1 million copies to date. It is being released here in the United States on June 12, but Ed is currently in the midst of a barnstorming tour of the United States to get the word out in advance of its street date. When we spoke to Ed down in Austin last month, he compared his singer-songwriter sound to other British artists like James Morrison, Damien Rice and David Gray, but we think that he belongs just as much to the burgeoning “realwave” movement, alongside acts like The Civil Wars, Dawes and Mumford & Sons. Decide for yourself by checking out Ed Sheeran’s entire You Oughta Know Live set, including his single “The A-Team”—which, we should note, has nothing to do with Mr. T—a song that went all the way to #3 on the British charts last year.
Hell hath no fury like a Gleek scorned! After Australian artist Gotye, whose song “Somebody That I Used To Know” is currently sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100, told the Australian Sunday Mail newspaper that the Glee cover of his song was “dinky” and “ultra-dry”, he encountered a swift backlash from enraged musical theater enthusiasts. For a show that talks so much about the evils of bullying, Glee fans can turn quite nasty themselves. Here are just two of the hundreds examples we saw on Twitter:
After realizing that he had put his foot in his mouth and angered one of the few groups of people who still buy music, Gotye retracted his diss at an concert in Los Angeles last night. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Gotye told the audience during the show that “the nature of using reverb and space in a recording can change your perception of how a sound appeals to you … I thought it was really clever to transpose the song to two guys … It was a great idea.” While it’s always essential to maintain one’s integrity, in a case like this, there’s more to be won from a strategic backpedal than there is to be lost. Gotye may have lost the fight, but his decision to play nice in the sandbox with Gleeks shows that he’s got every intention of winning the war.
Gotye Clarifies ‘Glee’ Comment; Calls Darren Criss-Matt Bomer Cover ‘Clever’ [THR]
[Photo: Colin Gray/VH1, Fox]
If you didn’t already know, this is K’naan! We caught up with our You Oughta Know artist of the month at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC’s Greenwich Village earlier this month, where he performed a sultry set featuring his songs “Take a Minute” (which you can watch below), “Bulletproof Pride” and “Is Anybody Out There?” (which you can watch here). Hearing his passionate vocals over live acoustics was musical heaven, and seeing him perform in such an intimate setting really accentuated both the power and poetical flow of his lyrics.
Before, during and after his performance, K’naan proved to be a super friendly and very chill guy. Our ace photographer Colin Gray got to spend some extra time with him for the latest installment of our on-going Music Seen series. Enjoy!
As we bid adieu to our talented March You Oughta Know artist Graffiti6, it’s time to give a great big welcome to K’Naan, the latest member of the YOK Family!
K’Naan is a 34 year-old, Somalian-born hip hop artist, one that currently calls Canada home. He was raised in the war-torn town of Mogadishu, but at the age of 13, he and his family were able to make their way to North America, first arriving in New York City before settling down in Toronto. K’Naan released a few albums in the latter half of the Aughts to critical acclaim, but it wasn’t until his anthemic 2009 song “Wavin’ Flag” (which was produced by a then-unknown Bruno Mars) was selected to appear in a Coca-Cola advertisement in 2010 that he really began getting noticed. This just wasn’t any ordinary commercial, either; Coca-Cola selected his song to be the company’s promotional anthem for the 2010 World Cup, which exposed K’Naan’s particularly soulful blend of hip hop to an international audience that numbered in the hundreds of millions.
Understanding that he had a golden opportunity to take his career to the next level, K’Naan took the next few years to work on his follow-up to Troubador, the 2009 album that “Wavin’ Flag” first appeared on. In January, he released his 5-song More Beautiful Than Silence EP, which is a pre-cursor to May 1 release of his full-length God, Country Or The Girl. His EP contains the single “Is Anybody Out There?”, which is steadily climbing the Billboard charts, thanks in no small part to its hook being sung by his fellow Canadian, Nelly Furtado. He performed the single sans Furtado a few weeks ago at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge as part of his You Oughta Know Live set, a video that we have for you above. (In the video above, aMina accompanies K’Naan in place of Furtado.)
VH1′s current You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, is pretty new to American audiences. Their debut full length album, Colours, came out in January and the band has been touring the States with bands like Augustana in order to get the word out. “It’s been an experience, man, it’s been amazing,” Graffiti6 frontman Jamie Scott told us about the touring experience when we caught up with him at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas over the weekend. “I was never really ready for the reaction we’ve gotten in America with this record, purely because I’ve never [toured] here before. It’s a daunting place, when you think about it, but we’ve had the most amazing reaction. So far, man, it’s felt pretty incredible.”
Jamie and his bandmates in Graffiti6 played a grand total of 10 shows (!!!) during their trip to Austin this year, which marks their third trip down to Texas for the annual confab. With each passing year, their stature here in the US of A has grown, and based on the reaction they got from crowds this year, it sure seems as if they’ll continue on this upward trajectory over the course of this month and beyond.
RELATED: Music Seen: Graffiti6 Visit VH1 And Make Everyone Swoon [VH1 Tuner]
It’s always a treat when we get to see one of our favorite new tracks played live. Our March You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, was in the studio this week to play us a stripped back rendition of their amazing lead single, “Free”, from their album Colours. We loved the romantic video for “Free” and we just love the song even more every time we hear it. Singing live, Graffiti6 gave some raw emotion as front man Jamie Scott tugged on our heartstrings with his gentle, honey-like vocal and lovely blue eyes. We’re very much looking forward to a whole month of Graffiti6 and you should be too — keep checking back because we’ve got some great exclusives to share from the boys’ visit to VH1 headquarters!
We’d like to introduce you to our March You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6. Hailing from London, the duo (made up of Jamie Scott, pictured above, and Tommy “D” Danvers), are a breath of fresh air with their soft, guitar-led pop. With a sentimental edge to their persona, the band released their debut album, Colours, in January, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Even though the band only started making music in 2009, there’s a wealth of maturity in their dulcet, tonal sound. With a hint of nostalgia in Scott’s folksy vocal, we’re falling in love with Graffiti6, and here are five reasons you should too…
1. The video for “Free”
We just loved the video for “Free”, the first single from their debut album, Colours. You can watch the video below, and read what we thought about it here.
2.Their famous friends
Before Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers were Graffiti6, they worked with some pretty high profile collaborators. Danvers remixed tracks by Michael Jackson and Bjork, and had worked alongside his wife arranging and orchestrating concerts and recordings for super stars like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Adele, Beyonce and Noel Gallagher. He went on to produce the number one chart single, “I’m Too Sexy,” for Right Said Fred, before writing several songs for KT Tunstall, Corinne Bailey Rae, Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue before joining forces with Scott to make music for Graffiti6. Scott, no less accomplished, has toured with Alica Keys and Kelly Clarkson with his previous band, Jamie Scott & The Town. With such full resumes and a cast of friends worthy of pop royalty status, we’re excited to see what future collaborations Graffiti6 might have up their sleeves!
We’re going to sound like a broken record saying this, but the truth is the truth and there’s no way around it — Gotye and Kimbra sound just as impeccable live as they do on record. And we should know — we got to witness the pair playing live for us in an intimate setting at our Times Square offices when they came to visit last week. While You Oughta Know artist Gotye played solo songs from his new album, Making Mirrors, and even an old favorite, “Heart’s A Mess,” we were blown away by “Somebody That I Used To Know,” featuring the dexterous vocals of Kimbra.
The pair gave us a compelling, moving experience in the intimate setting. While playing live with his band, tinkering with the menagerie of instruments surrounding him, the impresario Gotye crooned the lyrics, vocally gymnastic in the ease with which he switched from a whisper to a shout. When Kimbra joined him for her verse, emotions were high, as the two breathed life into the heartbreaking lyrics, giving real import to the occasion.
This week, we’re not only welcoming February (and maybe an early spring if you live in New York), but also our newest You Oughta Know recruit, the Australian sensation Gotye. Gotye is the stage name of the Belgian born, Australian raised Wally De Backer, who has been a household name in Australia since his 2006 album Like Drawing Blood made a hit singles out of “Heart’s A Mess” and “Learnalilgivinanlovin.” His 2011 release, Making Mirrors, however, sent Gotye into the stratosphere of superstar status in the home land, with the lead single, “Somebody That I Used To Know” making the most sales of any track Australia wide for 2011 and earning him various accolades and awards.
And now the rest of the world is standing to attention, too. Making Mirrors is taking the US by storm, currently sitting pretty at #12 on the iTunes charts, with “Somebody That I Used To Know” in the iTunes Top 10 singles chart. Gotye’s unique brand of emotional pastiche electo-pop paired with his power vocal have the world talking, and that’s why we’re telling you this is one artist you definitely oughta know! With many high profile covers and celebrities Tweeting their praise for Gotye, we’re thinking that the hype train has only just departed the station, and will pick up speed as Gotye launches his 2012 US tour (including a performance at Coachella and a stop at our NYC headquarters next week) with his “Somebody That I Used To Know” collaborator, Kimbra.
Finding fame when their song “Beauty’s Running Wild” was featured in an episode of CSI: New York, closely followed by another of their tracks, “Heart On Fire,” being chosen as the lead song on the current season of Grey’s Anatomy, Scars On 45 are now VH1′s featured You Oughta Know artist. So if you’ve been wondering who was responsible for the great songs on your favorite TV shows, well, now you know!
Last month, Scars On 45 released their video for “Heart On Fire,” which you can watch above. The song itself is romantic and moody, and will resonate with anyone who’s ever been in love. The video is a dramatic combination of smoke and blue-lit black ground, interspersed with gripping imagery of firemen rescuing victims from a burning building. With their first full length album set to drop this year, we’re excited to see more epic videos to accompany the band’s pervasive sounds. And we were lucky enough to have Scars On 45 pop into the VH1 studios to play live last year, as they moved us with their stripped down performance of Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” Scars On 45 imbibed the club banger with an altogetherly different vibe, truly making it their own with nothing but the lyrics tying their rendition to the original.