A cavalcade of stars, including Sting, Aerosmith, and Jersey’s prodigal sons Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, appeared on a live television special on NBC last night to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. The show was, as you might guess, a mostly somber affair, but Long Island native Billy Joel delivered the evening’s most memorable and emotionally resonant performance by going against the grain and rocking out.
Joel belted out “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway),” which originally appeared on his 1976 album Turnstiles, an allegorical song in which an imagined natural disaster stood in for the very real (at the time) financial crisis that was affecting the city. In a strange twist of fate, the song now carries more emotional heft than ever, as New York City indeed saw the lights go down on Broadway over the course of the last week. Joel even amended the lyrics to the introductory verses of the song to fit the events of the last few days. “The storm went on beyond the Palisades, out in the Rockaways, the oceans overflowed,” Joel sang. “They shut our power down, Staten Island drowned, but we went right on with the show.”
The song, which Billy Joel described during a 9/11 benefit concert just over 10 years ago as a “science fiction song,” has always been about the unwavering resiliency of New Yorkers during crises, but most would agree that its words ring truer than ever today. Our hearty congratulations go out to Joel, a man who is not often seen performing in public these days, for giving the citizens of NYC an anthem around which everyone in the city can rally behind during a time of true need.
The weather in California’s Napa Valley has been spectacular during the first two days of Live In The Vineyard, but the terrifying conditions that Hurricane Sandy ravaged upon New York City have been at the forefront of every performer’s mind, perhaps none more so than Gavin DeGraw‘s. “Don’t know if you’ve heard, but this bitch Sandy came through and f***ed up my city,” the New York City native announced to the lively crowd in attendance at the Uptown Theater last night, where he was headlining the evening’s stellar lineup that also included Martin Harley, Casey Abrams, A Rocket To The Moon, and Hedley. NYC was never far from DeGraw’s mind during his eight-song, 50 minute performance, during which he also dropped General George Patton’s famous quote “If you’re going through hell, keep going” before performing his new single “Soldier,” in an attempt to deliver some psychic inspiration to the city’s incredibly determined and resilient populus.
DeGraw is one of the more affable and charming performers on the circuit these days, so despite the heavy thoughts on his mind, his concert was far from a funereal affair. Leading the set off with “Sweeter,” his ditty about a Lothario who can’t help but cave-in to his darkest romantic desires, the crowd —all of whom were a few glasses deep in vino— immediately rose to their feet. Staying consistent with all of the performances at Live In The Vineyard, DeGraw stayed perched behind his piano for the entire set, accompanied only by a gentleman wielding an acoustic guitar. This arrangement meant we didn’t get to see any of the fancy footwork he perfected during his “fake dance career” on Dancing With The Stars earlier this year, but this stripped down set gave DeGraw an opportunity to flex his considerable storytelling muscle. He delighted the audience by giving some clues as to the origins of songs like “Chariot” and “I Don’t Wanna Be” (the song that “payed [his] college debts”), before closing his outstanding set with his smash hit, “Not Over You.”
We dug this new Unorthodox Jukebox cut as Bruno Marsperformed it onSaturday Night Live. He stripped the band down to not much more than keys and a few back-up singers, and then he sang so hard that sweat began to bead on his forehead. It was languid and emotional and convincing — Bruno Mars, so teased and tormented by those titular “Young Girls” that his neck muscles flex just singing about them. It was a great performance, but because he can’t press that sweat and blood into the actual album, he had to mix things up a bit for this newly released studio version. And to no one’s surprise, we like this version just as much.
It’s much more lively, backed by a thumping 808 drum and a twinkle of snyth, probably because it’s meant to open the album. And in that same vein, it makes for an interesting declaration of intent for Mars. A few beats before the chorus hits, he’s joined by a Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers-style doo-wop harmony, but only for those few beats before they get zapped away by a coil of synth so that the chorus can really soar. It’s where his obsession with all things retro meets his perfectly contemporary sound, and it’s probably the part that will make those bright-eyed honeys go wild, too. Read more…
Can’t knock the hustle. Yes, this girl’s hustle speaks for itself. When Nicki Minaj announced on MTV News the release of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up there were a few major side-eyes. PFRR wasn’t exactly well received by critics. But the Barbz were excited for the re-release with eight new songs including her two recent singles “The Boys” featuring Cassie and “Va Va Voom.” With a little over two weeks until the November 19th release Nicki gave the Barbz a special treat by releasing the tracklist for the forthcoming project. And there’s no verse from Drake. Bummer. Read more…
Oh, poor Britney Spears still seems to be working out some of the rust after a few years out of the public eye. She’s done The X Factor pretty solid as a judge so far, but last night while attempting to lay praise on contestant CeCe Frey by comparing her to certain glittery pop star, she slipped: “Last night, I thought you had, like, an identity crisis, I felt like you were trying to be” — and then, at the third “like” it happened — “like Key-sha or something.” Ke$ha you mean? Oops!
Of course, it was an honest mistake. Dollar sign laden or otherwise, Kesha is not exactly a common name, and that Britney is probably not trying to live like she’s going to die young now that she has kids and all. But don’t these two know each other? Ke$ha proudly teamed up with pop savants Dr. Luke and Max Martin to write “Till the World Ends,” a song that really helped shake new life into Brit’s career, before taking her own turn on the remix. Should her fellow judges Simon (Simone?) and Demi (Deh-me) be concerned that — oops! — she might do it again? Or should we all just sit back and chuckle because, really, Ke$ha’s a famously good sport and Brit’s mispronunciation is kind of cute?
Taylor Swift might like you to think she’s spent the past few weeks casually playing with her cat and baking pumpkin bread, but a quick look around otherwise suggests that she’s had a very busy few weeks. Go ahead, actually look around — you’ll probably see her somewhere, at the newsstand, on television or everywhere on internet, there is something Taylor or Red related around every corner. Of course she’s in all the places a shining young popstar like she should be — on the shelves at Target and Best Buy; on the covers of Cosmo,Glamour, Country Weekly, Rolling Stone; atop the Billboard charts, and so on — but she’s also done well by finding more unconventional places to plaster her face. For example, here are a few places we weren’t expecting to find Taylor, but did anyways:
There’s four days left to Election Day 2012, folks. Don’t forget to vote! It’s been a long election road for presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama, now its ending with a bang for at least Obama. The president will wrap his campaign with performances by Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday. Hov plus Bruce plus Obama sounds pretty epic. President Obama chose to end his campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, which is symbolic because of his win there in the 2008 caucus. Read more…
The weekend’s festivities kicked off in earnest last night at Bottega, the restaurant founded by celebrity chef Michael Chiarello (Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, the Food Network’s Easy Entertaining). Chiarello was celebrating the upcoming release of his new cookbook, Live Fire, and put on a cooking demonstration —pasta and clams on the grill!— with the spritely musician LP. The Brooklyn-born, ukelele-wielding LP (Laura Pergolizzi) looks a little bit like Don’t Look Back-era Bob Dylan, but sings like Tegan Quin if Tegan had a more expansive vocal range.
Last night, country music elite gathered in Nashville to celebrate their craft and their genre at the 46th edition of the Country Music Association Awards. Blake Shelton was the night’s biggest winner, taking the Male Vocalist of the Year award and the top Entertainer of the Year honor, as well watching a trophy to be shared with his wife Miranda Lambert for Song of the Year. Check out a full list of winners below.
Arguably country’s biggest star, Taylor Swift has taken the top prize twice before, but walked empty handed this year. The night was far from a bust for her, though, as she was given the stage for a dreamy performance of “Begin Again.” “Begin Again” is is about as country as Red gets, but still, it tests her bounty bonafides when it finds her counting her “James Taylor” records. The performance was even less country yet, as the stage set swept her from Nashville to a petite Parisian cafe. She wore a pretty red dress, and she sounded strong and confident coo-ing those “I do’s.” The crowd seemed to agree: they stood in ovation at the end of it, and of course Tay was struck once again by a case of the surprise face. Aww! Read more…
F*** yeah, America! It’s Friday and you know what that means. Time to exercise your freedom and vote for today’s Face-Off Music Video poll. The United States presidential election is nearly upon us. Practice making those tough decisions on November 6 (if you haven’t already voted early like the eager little patriots you are) by choosing between these politically charged clips: Michael Jackson‘s “They Don’t Really Care About Us” or Eminem‘s “Mosh.” Who gets your flag waving faster? Mull it over while we make a case for each.
“They Don’t Care About Us” – If there was ever a song to get you racing to the nearest polling place, this is it. With a driving beat that keeps time like a military march and a resounding chorus chant of “They don’t really care about us,” this HIStory tune sounds more like a battle cry for democracy than a SoundScan single. Paired with visuals of Michael Jackson in prison blues and handcuffs, dancing around pissed off inmates, The King of Pop easily takes this week’s face-off. Is Eminem Better Than MJ? Take Our Poll