Two years ago Mumford & Sons made their network television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman, giving a rousing performance of Sigh No More‘s “Little Lion Man,” and notably swapping the “f***ed it up” line for a more FCC friendly “messed it up.” Last night the fire and brimstone boys returned to New York, this time to perform “I Will Wait,” from their new album Babel, with all the same banjos and vests and close knit vocal harmonizing, but also with a horn section and — Marcus Mumford‘s toe tapping dialed up to Earth Rattling Stomp — even more bombast than their sprightly first go.
For nostalgia sake, check out Mumford & Sons’ network television debut below.
P!nk is one of those seriously underrated artists who consistently produces pop hits ranging from heart-wrenching to hilarious and rarely gets recognized as being fully in the realm of powerful pop star. Perhaps it’s because she rejects the idea that she is one herself, but perhaps it’s also because she so blatantly doesn’t fit within the box. Her songs are rich with context, be it blatant middle fingers to record label rules (“Don’t Let Me Get Me”) or a weaving tale of addiction and heartbreak (“Just Like A Pill”). All of that makes her the perfect VH1Storytellers artist. The stories happen to flow endlessly, and they unsurprisingly turns out to be completely unlike the cookie-cutter explanations you’ve heard before.
J. Cole took the two-year anniversary of his Friday Night Lights mixtape as an opportunity to share the first single from his sophomore set, Born Sinner, a pageant-free banger called “Miss America.” The self-produced, PSA styled single begins with a sample of John F. Kennedy’s famous “Ask Not ” speech (a Kanye West sample, this is not) but quickly gives way to a hard grinding, drum-driven beat over which Cole charges aggressively. Throughout, he thoughtfully weighing his wide-ranging frustrations regarding the rap game, the New York Jets’ defense and America at large: “F*** the man, Uncle Sam / I won’t sell your crack / I won’t fight your wars / I won’t wear your hat.”
Near the end, as the beat begins to burn off, he slows to wonder, “Am I about dollars or am I about change?” A prescient thought coming from a rapper who’s made an interesting story of his struggle to balance commercial success and his more reflective lyricism. Sure he can’t have both, he chooses the later this round, beginning the song by boasting that “Cole World is just the tip of the iceberg” and mumbling as the song trails off that, “They’ll never play this s*** on the radio.”
Born Sinner is out January 28th, guess we’ll just have to wait and see then.
Justin Bieber‘s Believe tour made a brief stop in Brooklyn last night, filling the seats of the newly-opened Barclays with teens and their chaperons–along with a slew of slightly older fans, the ones who noticeably sit down during the slow songs. You could say I was amongst that second crew, although I did plaster temporary tattoos that read “I <3 Justin Bieber” all over my face as to better camouflage myself in with the crowd. But there are things that divided us (beer, mostly) and as it turns out temporary tattoos are extremely difficult to get off of your face.
Believe is a masterpiece of lights and sound and spectacle, all focused on spreading the gospel of self-confidence and the rags-to-riches tale that is The Justin Bieber Story. Not to mention, the fact that Bieb is now a person in his late teens who has developed quite the impressive physique. On two occasions, while strapping himself into a harness, Bieb lifted up his shirt to reveal a bare stomach causing a flurry of deafening screams. Toward the end of the set, he donned a zipped open jacket that revealed what seemed to be a six to eight pack of abs.
When during Bieber’s rendition of “One Less Lonely Girl” he brought up an actual “lonely girl” to sit terrified in a chair made of stereo speakers while he danced around her, there was a spark missing. She sobbed while he expertly glossed through the song, occasionally mock stroking her tear-stained face. And while Bieb attracted quite crew of famous people (even Jay-Z was in the house!), I could sense the sadness. Sadness related to his recent break up with fellow teen sensation Selena Gomez? Maybe! There was something a little off about his 1, 2 step, a little too real in his audience call-outs asking, “Where are my single ladies tonight?” to an answer of thunderous (and by that I mean thunder LIKE YOU’VE NEVER HEARD) screams.
Well here’s an idea. Schoolboy Records brethren Psy and Justin Bieber have plans to collaborate sometime in the near future. The K-Pop phenomenon teased the “explosive” project in an interview with Capital FM, during which he explained that: “We have a plan to do something together. Later but we don’t have any details yet. But sure, we gonna do some work later on.” Can we assume that’s a promise?
With Bieber busy out on tour and with Psy laboring over that English language single he’s promised, it may be a minute before this team-up sees the light of day. But together these two account for the number one and two most viewed videos on YouTube (“Baby” has 799 million page views while “Gangnam Style” has 714 million page views), and Psy knows that means that together they can’t lose: “I mean of course you know, hundreds of millions combined [YouTube views] on YouTube — it’s gonna explode right?” Yes, “gonna explode” sounds about right. Read more…
You may have caught glimpse of — or lingered over, because who could blame you? — Rihanna‘s sexy GQ “Men of the Year (And One Hot Woman)” cover that hit the web over the weekend and figured she had already bared all. But the accompanying story is now up, and the boundary-less star has more yet to show and tell, about the bottle brawl and her songwriting, her Caribbean culture and of course her love life. Rihanna and the writer enjoy a night out on the town that includes a papparazzi-flash lit dinner, an impromptu song-writing sesh in her hotel room and a dance-floor reunion with none other than Chris Brown.
The curse of dating a musician is he or she might write a less-than-flattering song about you, but in the universe of Theo Katzman‘s latest video for “Hard For You” the Brooklyn-based performer whose sound is best described as a blend of indie and soul takes the threat just a step further, imaging a world where the uber-sucessful musician stalks his ex through the inescapable landscape of ever-present advertisements.
“The song was inspired by the idea of my girlfriend leaving me for a guy who makes more money, who seems more professional, who has his life together more than I do,” explained Katzman, who was formerly part of the dance-oriented band My Dear Disco. “In the song, I explain how, while this other guy may have his job and his money, I’m the guy with the soul. I’m the guy with the music.”
“Every time you’d see a show when I’m crying, it’s basically put on a new person,” says P!nk, referring to tearjerker ballad “Who Knew” — a song that was originally written for a friend killed by heroin and then went on to apply to each loss in the singer’s life. “Who Knew’s” story of frustration and regret soon became about her late Dog, Elvis, and even rang true with her late grandmother. In this sneak peek, P!nk details the emotional background of the song, and the proceeds to sing it out: as powerful as ever.
Party president of the 305 Pitbull has a new album called Global Warming out next week, and on it he’ll be joined by some of pop music’s biggest names, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Usher and Chris Brown included. There’s got to be something on here for everyone. Two tracks made there way onto the internet last night, the Christina Aguilera collaboration, “Feel This Moment,” and “Have Some Fun,” featuring the The Wanted and superstar DJ Afrojack. And worry not that Mr. Worldwide may switch things up for lucky album number seven — Global Warming will be perfect kindling for all the season’s parties. It’s going to be a hot fall after all.
Alicia Keys is a talker, admittedly. For her VH1 Storytellers special tonight, telling the back story behind her songs was a piece of cake. Alicia knows how to interact with a crowd. “It’s actually one of my favorite ways to perform, though,” the “Superwoman” singer told the audience. “Really small and intimate. Close.” Alicia has so many hits narrowing them down to a six song set had to be challenging. Luckily, Alicia mixed it up with songs we know every word and ad lib to with new songs from her forthcoming album.