Last month we talked about super song writer Ester Dean, and pontificated that she just might be the next big thing to cross over from behind the scenes to center stage after her amazing new track “Gimme Money” featuring Nicki Minaj was released. The New Yorker has profiled Dean (along with producer team Stargate), and the article only serves to future enforce her prowess as a hit machine. The New Yorker says, “Dean has a genius for infectious hooks. Somehow she is able to absorb the beat and the sound of a track, and to come out with its melodic essence. The words are more like vocalized beats than like lyrics, and they don’t communicate meaning so much as feeling and attitude—they nudge you closer to the ecstasy promised by the beat and the “rise,” or the “lift,” when the track builds to a climax.”
The article describes Dean’s process for hit making, and the whole thing seems so intrinsically organic that we can’t help but feel that Ester is destined for pop greatness. “Dean’s preferred method of working is to delay listening to a producer’s track until she is in the studio, in front of the mike. “I go into the booth and I scream and I sing and I yell, and sometimes it’s words but most time it’s not,” she told me. “And I just see when I get this little chill, here”—she touched her upper arm, just below the shoulder—“and then I’m, like, ‘Yeah, that’s the hook.’ ” If she doesn’t feel that chill after five minutes, she moves on to the next track, and tries again.”
The article goes on to say, “After several minutes of nonsense singing, the song began to coalesce. Almost imperceptibly, the right words rooted themselves in the rhythm while melodies and harmonies emerged in Dean’s voice. Her voice isn’t hip-hop or rock or country or gospel or soul, exactly, but it could be any one of those. “I’ll come alive tonight,” she sang. Dancing now, Dean raised one arm in the air. After a few more minutes, the producers told her she could come back into the control room. “See, I just go in there and scream and they fix it,” she said, emerging from the booth, looking elated, almost glowing.”
Do you like winning stuff? Do you like artists like Richard Marx, Jason Mraz and Graffiti6? Well get into this — VH1 is giving you the chance to win a trip for two to Live In The Vineyard so you can enjoy intimate musical performances, wine and food in Napa Valley. The exclusive prize package includes a meet and greet with a VH1 artist, and you’ll get to hang with the VH1 Top 20 Countdown crew and meet the host, Jim Shearer. And to enter, all you have to do is click here and fill out your details. Simple really!
Enter now for a chance to win two tickets to VH1′s Live In The Vineyard!
Michael K. Williams Will Play Ol’ Dirty Bastard In An Upcoming Biopic
Better known as Omar From The Wire, Michael K. Williams is now set to play the role of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in an upcoming biopic. It’s called Dirty White Boy and will explore the relationship between ODB and his former manager, 22-year-old Jarred Weisfeld. [A.V. Club]
Florence Welch And Dev Hynes Are Going To Make An Album Together, Maybe
Florence Welch has hinted that she might be making an album with Devonte Hynes. She said, “Dev Hynes is going to come on tour with us, all around America and Australia and that’ll be fun because we’ve been friends for years, so maybe something will come of that. We usually end up making some kind of strange album that will only exist on the internet.” We hope this happens in a Blood-Orange-Meets-Early-Florence-Circa-Lungs kind of way. [NME]
Now, this is one for the books! Pink Floyd has hit yet another milestone with Dark Side of The Moon, which has just completed its 800th week on the Billboard 200!! Translation: That is 15 years and 5 months on the chart, which is more than any other band/artist in U.S. history by a LONG shot.
The iconic album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, in two sessions, between May 1972 and January 1973 and spent 741 consecutive weeks on the chart, from its release in 1973 up until 1988. It charted again in 2009 and has appeared periodically since. This brand new (and likely untouchable) milestone sounds to us like the perfect excuse to break out your old copy of the Wizard Of Oz, crank up the hi-fi with DSOTM, eat some brownies (Ed. Note – Whatever ingredients you choose to include in your brownie recipe is totally cool by us!), and enjoy one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
Just in case you’re curious, here is a list of the Top 10 longest-charting albums in Billboard 200 history:
Move over Florence — Grace Potter has one upped you, and it looks like there’s a new husky voiced diva with soul penetrating vocals in town. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have premiered their new track “Never Go Back” exclusively with Rolling Stone, and it’s quite inspiring — more than a hit, it’s a great, honest pop song with undertones of retro soul and rock riffs. The track was co-written by The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach, who also co-wrote two other songs and produced one song on Potter’s forthcoming album The Lion the Beast the Beat, due to be released on June 12th.
The track is bluesy but at the same time has a spectacularly stadium ready sound, which could possibly be attributed to the Auerbach influence, given The Keys’ recent progression into the sound of epic. Of working with Auerbach, Potter says, “Dan’s studio is a sex shop for gear pervs… I found a tiny old Casio that reminded me of my first-ever keyboard and started playing. He jumped on and started f**king around with the rhythm track, and we wrote ‘Never Go Back’ within the first hour of being in his place… We weren’t thinking, ‘Let’s write a big hit single.’ It was more like, ‘Let’s geek out with some weird gear and see what happens.’ I’m very glad we did.” And so are we! The track is catchy while at the same time retaining a musical honesty that is rare in grand pop anthems.
Listen to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Never Go Back” here.
Exclusive Premiere: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, ‘Never Go Back’ [Rolling Stone]
[Photo: Getty Images]
(Clockwise, starting Upper Left: Fallulah, St. Lucia, Of Monsters & Men, The Lumineers)
We’re still recovering from the week we just spent down in Austin, Texas, for the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival. It’s been four days since we got home, but our ears are still ringing and the taste of barbeque is still fresh in our mouths. During SXSW, most of the headlines were dominated by Fiona Apple’s stunning return to the scene and Eminem’s surprise appearance during 50 Cent’s front-to-back performance of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, but now that we’ve had a few days to put the fest in perspective, some of our favorite performances came from bands that have not yet reached household name status.
We asked a few members of VH1′s CMI (Creative Music Integration) group —they’re the people who determine which songs appear in our on-air programming— to give us a quick summary of acts that they really enjoyed during their time down in Austin, artists whose music seems likely for future sync opportunities in commercials, TV programs or films. So, fire up your Spotify and start sampling bands that you’re likely to hear a lot more from as 2012 progresses.
Swan Dive, an official SXSW venue, was packed to the brim, sweltering hot, and buzzing with energy in anticipation for Doomtree, a hip hop collective out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Armed with an eclectic sound that blends hip hop, R&B, and bluesy rock, this group of seven distinct MCs preformed with the aggressive energy of a punk act and just the right amount of hip hop swagger. Songs like “Little Mercy” with its blues-inspired vocals and dramatic, motivational lyrics (“We’re so hungry / We’re so thirsty / But I’m gonna hunt until it hurts me”), Doomtree’s music might fit perfectly in a commercial for an upcoming sporting event or a Nike commercial if they went down an edgier route.—Monsé, Creative Music Integration Assistant
For Fans Of: Grieves
This Copenhagen-based songstress impressed a sizable crowd during her short Saturday night set at SXSW. She performed a few songs off her debut album Black Cat Neighbourhood (2010) and one new song although she added, “I suppose it doesn’t really matter because I’m new to all of you.” Songs like “Only Human” and “I Lay My Head” showcased her strong lyrical skills, expressive vocals, and vibrant instrumentation peppered with catchy handclaps and whistling. Fallulah has managed to create a richly layered musical landscape that has the potential to fit nicely within shows where it could add that extra oomph to a light hearted, upbeat scene in a female driven dramaedy (think Grey’s Anatomy) or teen drama (Pretty Little Liars).—Monsé, Creative Music Integration Assistant
For Fans Of: Florence + The Machine, Lykke Li, Marina and the Diamonds
With the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony looming (April 12th), everyone still only has one question — will inductees Guns N’ Roses perform on the night? So far it looks like they won’t, but it seems there’s a “you never know” addendum to their appearance on the night. Drummer Matt Sorum told Billboard, “We’re all sitting at the same table, so it should be cool. After we get a little bit of food in us, hopefully someone will get up and want to play, but I don’t know. I’m not the guy to ask. I just hope it works out.” So according to Sorum, food makes GNR play? We certainly hope so!
He went on to add that, “There’s no real plans,” but the you-never-know uncertainty is, “in tradition, Guns N’ Roses style.” With all original members of GNR attending the induction ceremony, Sorum said, “I feel great about it… I`m glad I made the cut. I don’t know who that secret society is that votes you into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I’m glad I have some friends in there, somehow. The original band got in and I got in and (keyboardist) Dizzy Reed and that’s it, seven of us. It’ll be a great night.” Finger crossed the boys get up on stage for what we can only image would make for a historical performance.
Guns N’ Roses Have ‘No Real Plans’ For Rock Hall Performance [Billboard]
[Photo: Getty Images]
It’s a week of diss-repealing; after Katy Perry vehemently denied dissing Beyonce and Shakira, The Black Keys have jumped on the bandwagon to sort-of-but-not-really apologize to Nickelback for dissing them earlier this year. Keys drummer Patrick Carney controversially, and now famously, said of Nickelback, “Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world,” but now he’s a little bit sorry about his harsh words, but not really. Carney has now said he, “Didn’t mean to single [Nickelback] out. It just came out,” but added a disclaimer, “There’s much worse bands than Nickelback, maybe.” Worst. Apology. Ever. Come on Keys — time to cure that foot-in-mouth disease, we think!
The Black Keys Are Sorry But Not Really Sorry for That Nickelback Dis [Vulture]
[Photos: Getty Images]
Nickelback‘s video for “Lullaby” off their new album, Here And Now, is a dramatic look at life and death, despair and hope. From the outset, Nickelback’s contribution to the story is minimal, the band positioned in a separate scene, a warehouse lit under glittering flood lights. On a side note, we have to mention the 90s throwback chair sitting by Chad Kroeger — we haven’t seen a guy sitting backwards on a chair since The Backstreet Boys made it all the rage! Jokes aside, the video is a very moving narrative of a birth and death; a baby lives, a mother dies, leaving the child’s father as the sole guardian. We warn you: something might catch in your throat as you watch the young father dealing with both the loss of his partner and this new life. Considering adopting, screaming in frustration as the baby cries, there’s a desperation in the tribulations of this story, but also, and most importantly, there is finally and definitively hope at the end.