Adam Lambert fans — this is what you’ve been waiting for. Performing his first single, “Better Than I Know Myself,” from his forthcoming album Trespassing, last night on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Lambert owned the stage with his compelling presence. Looking sharp as always in his signature glam-goth style and vertiginous hair, Lambert gave an emotional performance. With an 80s, synth-led sound shaping the song, Lambert’s voice soared through “Better Than I Know Myself” with confidence and ease, both chilling and uplifting, especially when he hit the high notes with his flawless rock-style vocal.
Katy Perry Gets Her Own Video Game, Katy Perry Sims 3: Showtime
We’re not entirely sure what the story line is, but this sweet animated trailer for Katy Perry‘s forthcoming video game, Katy Perry Sims 3: Showtime, makes a cute, and sort of trippy, mini-video for “The One That Got Away.” [Prefix]
Kanye West Is In The New Kobe System Ad
Along with a slew of famous faces, Kanye West is in the new Kobe System commercial, and gets his 5 seconds of fame asking the pertinent and deeply philosophical question, “what if you’re really successful?” [Rap Radar]
If you like your bands buzzy and your keynote addresses delivered by Bruce Springsteen, then you’re going to be just as excited about the announcement of the line up for this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, as we are. As always, there will be sun and parties, and a showcase of the buzziest bands of the past year and the proverbial “ones to watch” for the year to come. Notably, the hyper-cool line up includes Lana Del Rey, who was not only controversially snubbed by the Coachella festival, but whose SNL performance on the weekend has drawn a lot of heat over the past few days. It seems like the Internet sensation can’t be deterred by a little bit of bad press, and that no matter what her criticisms, she is still one of the most relevant and “of the moment” artists as we dive into the new year.
Other big buzz names on the line up include Talib Kweli, who last year released his first solo album in 4 years, and who is set to join Mos Def as Black Star for their first album since they first appeared under the joint moniker 14 years ago; A$AP Rocky, a new comer who was at the forefront of left-of-the-mainstream hip hop last year; SBTRKT, the James Blake-but-better dub act that wrapped 2011 with critical accolades across industry publications; Best Coast, the buzz band tagged as one of the pioneers the new chillwave genre that is becoming increasingly popular, and Zola Jesus, the girl whose trippy, post-grunge vocalism has captured music aficionados with deeply referential yet highly experimental sounds. You can check out the full line up at the SXSW website, here.
Also featuring at the festival, and possibly what we’re most excited about — sorry up-and-coming young music things — is Bruce Springsteen’s keynote speech. As part of the music conference, The Boss will no doubt address a room full of attentive, reverential ears. We’ll be down in Austin for the festival (March 13-18) covering all the action and bringing you daily updates — so watch this space, there’s more to come!
SXSW Reveals Full Music Lineup & Schedule [Crave Online]
Actor and musician Scarlett Johansson got behind the camera for Jessie Baylin‘s video for the first single, “Hurry Hurry,” of her album Little Spark. Old school buddies, Johansson and Baylin attended New York’s Professional Children’s School together, and Johansson told MTV Hive that, “One of the greatest gifts of growing up with Jessie has been watching her develop as a musician.” This affection is not lost on the video, which is a simple, tender portrayal of Baylin singing on the rain soaked Manhattan Bridge in New York City. The video itself is romantic and lends an extra air of whimsy to Baylin’s already ethereal sound. As Baylin strolls back and forth on one section of the bridge, she is sporadically illuminated as light glows from her back and hair, as if by magic. The song itself is sweet and sentimental, matching the visual to perfection, and her lofty vocal is both melodic and captivating.
You might think that after selling 5.8 million copies of 21 in 2011, everyone who had any sort of interest in buying Adele’s sophomore LP would have already done so. Well, you’d be wrong: Adele is still #1 on the Billboard 200 and iTunes charts, and now rumor has it that she’ll be performing at the 2012 Grammy Awards in February, an event which she is virtually guaranteed to win ALL of the awards. Adele has already warned that it will be a few years before she releases her next album, but word out of the UK leads us to believe that her next LP might be significantly happier.
The Daily Mail is reporting today that the 23-year-old Adele has found love in a swampy place; specifically, in the arms of Simon “Swampy” Konecki. However, much like the troubled relationship that fueled the narrative of 21, this burgeoning relationship is not without its own bit of controversy. You see, “Swampy” is not only a wealthy investment manager 14 years her senior, but —gulp— is also a married (ED.NOTE—Or is he? See our update below!) man with a 5-year-old daughter of his own. Lest you place the “homewrecker” tag on Adele, though, reports seem to suggest his marriage is all but kaput; he’s “in the process of divorcing” his current wife (the pair has been separated since 2010). Either way, we’re happy for Adele and excited for the possibility of her penning a bunch of lovestruck anthems.
UPDATE: According to a post on Adele’s personal site, Swampy is actually divorced. Here’s what Adele herself wrote about the situation: “This is the first and last time I will comment on the details of my relationship with Simon. Contrary to reports and headlines in the press today, Simon is divorced and has been for 4 years. Everyone in our lives separately and together wish us nothing but the best, and vice versa. These are the facts. Take care and see you all in February xx”
[Photo: Getty Images]
Is Jay-Z the most gushing new dad of all time? By all reports, it seems like, yes, yes he really is. Following the birth of his and Beyoncé‘s daughter, Blue Ivy, last week, Hov wasted no time in releasing a song, “Glory,” in tribute to the blushing babe. And now, in the most recent chapter of Jay-Z Is An Amazing Dad, the rapper has vowed to stop using the word “b***h.” In a poem he wrote for baby Blue Ivy, Jay says, “Before I got in the game, made a change, and got rich, I didn’t think hard about using the word b***h. I rapped, I flipped it, I sold it, I lived it. Now with my daughter in this world I curse those that give it. No man will degrade her, or call her names, I’m so focused on your future, the degradation has passed. I wish you wealth, health and insight. Forever young you may pass. Blue Ivy Carter, my angel.”
It’s not such a bold pronouncement for a dad, but a pretty revolutionary thing from a hip hop star, given the proliferation of misogynistic lyricism that characterizes a lot of rap music. We wonder if Jay will now proceed to censor his back catalog, given that the degrading term appears in many of his songs. For instance, will he now sing, “I got 99 Problems but the strong, empowered woman in my life ain’t one”? Will he force Kanye West to change the lyrics of their Watch The Throne hit, “That’s My B***h” to, “That’s my wonderful, intelligent young woman whom I respect unconditionally”?
Moreover, we want to know what Hov plans to do about everyone else — it’s all well and good for him to fly the feminist flag, but he can’t control the rest of the world now, can he? In that vein, some marijuana dealers in LA have developed a strain of weed dubbed “OG Blue Ivy.” We’re wondering how Jay, who often raps about his penchant for the green stuff, feels about the moniker? Obviously Jay can’t keep baby Blue completely away from the big bad world — she is as close as you can come to being infant pop royalty, after all, so she’ll always be in the spotlight. But if daddy really is on the war path, will Blue Ivy be the most sheltered/over protected baby on earth? Is Blue Ivy Carter the new Blanket Jackson?
‘No man will degrade her’: Rapper Jay-Z vows to stop using the word ‘b***h’ following birth of daughter Blue Ivy [The Daily Mail]
‘Blue Ivy’ Strain Marijuana Sprouting Up In LA Weed Shops [Huffington Post]
After the Lana Del Rey carnage that was Saturday Night Live this weekend, the Internet is still buzzing with conversation, from the Lana haters to the staunch defenders, it seems that everyone has something to say about her controversial performances. With high profile personalities tearing at Lana Del Rey like rabid hyenas, it would be easy to concede that the young pop star has stalled her career before it even reached full throttle. NBC Nightly News anchor and all-around good guy Brian Williams roasted Lana, writing in an email published by Gawker, “Brooklyn hippster [sic] Lana Del Rey had one of the worst outings in SNL history last night — booked on the strength of her TWO SONG web EP, the least-experienced musical guest in the show’s history, for starters.” On the other hand however, Daniel Radcliffe, host of the same episode of SNL was quick to jump to Lana’s defense, saying, “It was unfortunate that people seemed to turn on her so quickly. I also think people are making it about things other than the performance. If you read what people are saying about her online, it’s all about her past and her family and stuff that’s nobody else’s business. I don’t think it warranted anywhere near that reaction.”
Despite the onslaught of criticism, Lana Del Rey has made it to number two on the iTunes charts — so it can’t be all bad news. Despite her impressive chart rankings, however, conversation has now turned to her future, and what path her career will take from here. Grantland presented an essay with several options, including focusing on her international audience, redeeming herself in upcoming television appearances for The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Late Show With David Letterman, and sabotaging next week’s SNL musical guest, Bon Iver. One observant commentator on Stereogum’s website suggested the following, which seems most pertinent after the seemingly disastrous SNL appearance:
We recently spoke to Lana and she said of her performance capabilities, “I am not a natural performer but my fans that go to see the show are there because they want to be there not because you’re going to watch and see me fall and mess up and die. The reason that they are there is because they want to listen to songs off of the record. I am getting better on stage. Like when I was in Europe before I even got on stage people were smiling and waving at me and that was unexpected and that was very helpful because I could tell they didn’t really care if I wasn’t amazing. They were just there because they wanted to be there. So that’s all I can really ask for at this point.” What do you think about the performance? Did it affect Lana Del Rey’s career or your interest in her music? Is her music good enough to stand independent of her shaky performances? Let us know in the poll below!
Watch Lana Del Rey On SNL [Stereogum]
Career Advice for Post-SNL-Fiasco Lana Del Rey [Grantland]
Brian Williams Says Gawker Should Have Torched Lana Del Rey: “One Of The Worst Outings In SNL History” [Gawker]
Daniel Radcliffe defends Lana Del Rey US TV performance [BBC Newsbeat]
Lana Del Rey is no stranger to controversy. The stunning 25-year-old chanteuse with the haunting voice has been in the crosshairs of the indie blogosphere for months, but after she made her American television debut last night as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, she’s become a conversational lightning rod in the mainstream. Del Rey’s performances of “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were not the strongest renditions of those songs in her young career and, as a result, many critics delighted in breaking out their book of nasty superlatives to describe her work using social media services.
Perez Hilton broke his phony, self-imposed streak of faux-niceness and tore into Lana Del Rey on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning: “Just watched SNL. Not only was @LanaDelRey vocally WAY off, but watching her utter lack of stage presence was cringe-worthy. #DontBuyTheHype” Actress and part-time singer Juliette Lewis piled on, tweeting “Wow watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform. #signofourtimes” before remembering what her own voice actually sounds like and wisely deleting her tweet. Even Eliza Dushku, last seen guest-starring on The League, weighed in on Twitter, describing Del Rey as “wack-a-doodle” before also deleting her tweet. Lest you think it was only famous people eagerly sinking their claws into her, a wholly unscientific, purely anecdotal search on Twitter we just performed shows that negative comments about LDR are outweighing positive ones by at least a 2:1 margin.
However, despite this tidal wave of haterade, it looks like Lana Del Rey and Interscope Records might end up having the last laugh. Her four song Lana Del Rey – EP is currently the #2 album on the iTunes charts (where, it should be noted, it is averaging a 4-star rating after garnering nearly 2,900 reviews) and her LP, Born To Die, is the #16 album on the Amazon.com charts, despite the fact that it doesn’t even come out until January 31. So while everyone probably wished that her performance on SNL had gone over as well as her excellent rendition of “Video Games” on Later Live … With Jools Holland back in October, it’s evident that the American public is now not only aware of this controversial new singer, but that they’re interested in learning more about who she is and what she sounds like. In other words, mission accomplished for Team LDR.
After racking up tens of millions of views on YouTube and generating more conversation than virtually any other “indie” artist in 2011, Lana Del Rey made her American television debut tonight on Saturday Night Live. She performed “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”, the two songs that first propelled her from virtual obscurity and put her on the map less than six months ago. America clearly took notice, too: She was a trending topic on Twitter not once but twice tonight (although, it must be noted, one of those times the TT was “Lana Del Ray”, a misspelling of her name).
Spelling issues aside, SNL provided a compelling introduction to Lana Del Rey’s unique sound. She appeared a bit nervous at the outset of each of her two performances tonight, her voice dropping into an even lower register than she generally sings, but she settled into a groove each time and finished both songs with gusto. Curiously, she chose not to perform “Born To Die,” the song which she shot a big budget video for back in December (and is currently the Single of the Week in the iTunes Store), but we suppose she’ll probably perform that when she visits the Late Show With David Letterman and Ellen in a few weeks.
We actually had the opportunity to sit down for a candid conversation with Lana Del Rey earlier this week, during which she opened up about her controversial omission from this year’s Coachella lineup and told us a totally awesome story about an encounter with a topless Paz De La Huerta in Paris late last year. We also asked her about Daniel Radcliffe, who was the host of tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, the results of which you can see below: