Finally liberated at midnight on iTunes last night, I didn’t even bother to give the album that’s projected to sell 400-500K copies a listen. Like any “grower” project, Watch The Throne deserves more attention than a few hours on a Sunday night before bed, and is one whose layers need to be peeled away over time. Unfortunately, the worldwide web and the social media news cycle don’t really allow for that kind of preciousness, so whether anyone is taking an interest in the sea of quick-trigger opinions or not, we’re all lured into engaging in text message/blog post/140-character word-vomit assessments.
All for starting a dialogue on the topic of music, sitting here trying to write a comprehensive critique for this still-warm and super-dense album is challenging, especially since there has been so much hype swirling around it for months. “H.A.M.” dropped too early, release dates got pushed back, exclusive listening sessions were embargoed (but still tweeted about and sprung audio leaks), and Hovlearned from his wife’s troubles, never allowing his baby with Kanye to be born premature. Digital files now in hand before friday’s physical release date, is the album all that we wanted it to be?
Any way you slice it, Beyoncé‘s camp has been plagued with turmoil in the months leading up to and following the release of her fourth LP, 4. Before the record even dropped, rumors about the label’s unhappiness with the finished product swirled, Queen B was accused of plagiarising her widely-lauded Billboard Music Awards performance, and she endured a messy split with her manager (and father), Matthew Knowles. Then 4 came out and sold only moderately well when compared to the past performance of her other blockbuster albums, something that it has never really recovered from. Neither of the album’s first two singles, “Run The World (Girls)” or “Best Thing I Never Had,” have been able to grab the cultural zeitgeist, and while the album has been certified platinum by the RIAA for shipping over one million units to retail stores, the album’s actual Stateside sales have yet to approach that magical million mark. So, the question remains: What other levels do Beyoncé and her team have left to pull to make this album a quote-unquote “success”?
Well, it seems that their answer is to build the buzz around the strength of the entire album, not just the singles. Beyoncé just announced that she’ll be doing a four-night residency at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom next week, a run in which she’ll be performing her latest album in its entirety. 4 Intimate Nights With Beyoncé will be just that; while Bey usually performs in arenas that hold 20,000 or more people, Roseland’s maximum capacity is just 3,200 peeps, which will make the show the hottest ticket in this town since Kanye West performed My Dark Twisted Fantasy to an audience of just 1,100 at the Bowery Ballroom back in November.
So, will it work? Tough to say! To her credit, Beyoncé is widely regarded for her electrifying live performances; just two months ago, we named her Glastonbury set as that festival’s best. And by gathering the East Coast media world’s biggest tastemakers all in one room over a series of four nights, you can be assured that her album will get a fresh look from critics and a lot of ink devoted to it. As for whether or not that will translate into sales, though, only time will tell!
Jaleel White appears as his late-era Family Matters suave alter ego Stefan Urquelle lady killer Cee Lo Green in the video for “Cry Baby,” the latest single off, erm, The Lady Killer. To its credit, the clip, with which Cee Lo himself has had no discernible involvement, doesn’t sugarcoat the caddishness of Cee Lo’s persona. White’s fancy footwork doesn’t hurt either, especially when the video becomes a middle-of-the-street spectacle.
The video looks to have been helmed by “F?k You” director Matt Stawski, but we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that director and choreographer Adam Shankman was responsible; while the clip’s retro stylings have elements of the sixties-soul revamp of “F?k You,” the poodle skirts and dance sequences hearken further back to teen-rebel films, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the clip was inspired by John Waters’s film of the same name, though filtered through a post-millennial pop lens, like Shankman’s re-envisioning of Hairspray. This is retromania we can get behind. Read more…
Never let it be said that Simon Cowell doesn’t have canny timing. It’s been nearly a month since the first television promo for Fox’s The X Factor premiered during the MLB All-Star Game, but over a month until the show itself premieres on September 21. With auditions taped but under wraps, the show is out of the news. So what better timing for Cowell to come forward with his version of the judges’ table drama that led to the replacement of Cheryl Cole with Nicole Scherzinger? His is certainly a story we want to hear.
The one thing about which Cowell isn’t entirely forthcoming is the exact reason why Cole was let go from the American version of the UK singing competition. (To be fair, this may be for legal reasons.) He merely explains, “After two cities [of US X Factor auditions], I offered her the job back in the UK, [as a replacement for the Fox gig,] which initially she accepted. And then unfortunately when it went public the negotiations fell apart.” Cowell’s stated rationale?that she’d be “more comfortable doing the UK show than the American show,” does little to contradict rumors that Cole’s Geordie accent had tested poorly with American audiences. (So much for airing Geordie Shore in the United States, MTV UK.)
As for the delay in announcing Scherzinger (who Cowell says has been a “revelation”) as a replacement? Cowell claims that when an agreement about the UK X Factor could not be reached, he generously gave Cole the “chance to come back to America,” which she declined (possibly because she’d be getting paid anyway). “I am sorry for the way it worked out as we were incredibly close,” Cowell said. “She is still grumpy with me.” We’re not too worried on Cowell’s behalf; we suspect he’s had lots of experience dealing with people who are “grumpy” with him.
Another summer weekend, another festival we couldn’t attend. Here’s why we’re jealous of this year’s Lollapalooza attendees:
Foster The People Open Friday Strong
Need proof that You Oughta Know favorite Foster The People is more than just one hot single? Check out how many people made the effort to turn out for their Lollapalooza set on 3:00PM Friday (a tough festival slot considering many attendees were still en route or, locally, at work). Or look how pumped up (pardon the pun) the huge crowd is for “Life On the Nickel,” above, which wasn’t even on their EP. Read more…
While many of the biggest names in music were playing for 270,000 (!) fans in Chicago this weekend at the 2011 Lollapalooza festival, two members of the hip hop community—one an established vet, one an up-and-comer— found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that New York state police arrested Big Sean, Kanye West’s newest protoge, after performing a concert at Artpark State Park in Lewiston, NY. The 23 year-old was charged with misdemeanor counts of forcible touching, unlawful imprisonment and sex abuse after an unnamed woman phoned police complaining of sexual assault. Big Sean and a member of his entourage, Willie ?Sayitainttone? Hansbro, were jailed and released on a $500 bond. Big Sean isn’t speaking, but his lawyer released a statement saying “both men vehemently deny the charges” and that “I am confident, that after further investigation, both men will be vindicated.” This case will go to court on September 6.
Then, on Sunday, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton (of Outkast fame) was pinched by the Miami po-po’s on felony drug possession charges. Apparently, drug-sniffing dogs got the best of Big Boi after he exited an unnamed cruise ship, and police found ecstasy pills, molly (which is ecstasy in powder form) and a whole bunch of Viagra in his luggage. He spent some time in the Miami-Dade Correctional Facility, but was released after posting $16,000 bond. His lawyer later explained to CNN that “a small amount of contraband was found in the collective luggage,” before adding that “I am confident when the entire facts are aired Big Boi will be completely exonerated.”
As a precautionary measure, we are advising that anyone who happens to perform either solo or in a band that has the name “Big” in the title— we’re looking at you, Big Daddy Kane, as well as members of Mr. Big and Reel Big Fish—avoid leaving their homes until this big bad mojo blows over.
Drake does it. Trey does it. Why can’t Breezy do it too? After releasing his “Real Hip Hop Sh*t” viral video series, it seems Chris Brown is continuing his crusade to head in a more-rapping, less-singing direction on his new mixtape, Boy in Detention. When the R&B singer first tried his hand at the skill that is a very distant cousin of his native genre, the track was met with mixed reviews. Then, in June, he came with a second installment of the series, spitting verses about his appreciation of female affection.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and Brown released “#3″ and “#4″ of the series’ clips, respectively and consecutively, this time backed by beats from well-respected hip hop producer 9th Wonder. After his hugely successful Today Show performance, you’d think Brown would be in good spirits, but content-wise, those two tracks were a bit more aggro than the first two. Addressing his many critics, both old and new, “Real Hip Hop Sh*t #3″ specifically called out TMZ, and many people speculated that both songs were also cross-examining negative comments from Fox News’ O’Reilly Factorcoverage from NBC’s concert.
Like millions of Americans, we tuned into our local ABC affiliate to watch Nicki Minaj perform this morning live from Central Park on Good Morning America. However, unlike a lot of other eagle-eyed viewers (like our pals over at Mediaite), we initially didn’t notice that the Queen Barbie slipped a nip on national television. However, when we saw the term “GMA Nip Slip” begin trending on Twitter, we did some investigation and yep, there it is! To put it in perspective, it’s nowhere near as controversial as the infamous Janet/Justin wardrobe malfunction, but still, talk about a Moment that will last 4 Life!
Turn your eyes away if you don’t want to see it. Warning, what you’re about to see is strictly NSFW (Not Safe For Work):
Now, thanks to our friends at Vulture, we find out that Taylor Swift’s knowledge of hip hop history extends beyond today’s Top 40. At a recent performance in Grand Rapids, Michigan, T-Swizzle broke out her acoustic guitar and, much to the delight of the crowd, tore into the first verse of Eminem‘s Mitten State anthem, “Lose Yourself.” And you know what? Even the most vehement Swift haters would agree that she didn’t totally embarrass herself; her performance, while understandably less intense than Em’s in 8 Mile, is delivered in a manner that’s both playful and convincing. Color us impressed. Next stop: “Yonkers”!
Tens of thousands of music fans are, as we type, passing through Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports on a pilgramage to Grant Park for Lollapalooza 2011. After a torrid month of July in the Windy City, the weather forecast is calling for sunny temperatures in the low eighties for most of the weekend, which is perfect festival-going weather; there is a chance of isolated thunderstorms on Sunday, though. Still, what’s a little rain when you have over 150 of the world’s best bands and DJs all gathered within 1.2 square kilometers of each other?
As we have explained for you in the past at Coachella and Bonnaroo, festival-going is all about making tough decisions. At any given time this weekend, upwards of six acts will be performing simultaneously, and some of these overlaps are bound to involve bands that you care about equally. Sadly, because of the sheer size of the park (319 acres, yo) and the amount of people on the grounds, waffling on your decisions could lead you to missing both acts. So, in the interest of being as service-y as possible, we’re putting the spotlight on five of these potential conflicts and arming you with as much information as possible to help you make an educated decision.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5
Foster The People (3-4 p.m.) OR Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (2:30-3:30 p.m.)?
Right at the time when most people will first be entering the festival grounds for the weekend comes our first tough decision as two of our You Oughta Know alums are going head-to-head. Foster The People have the #1 alternative song on the Billboard charts at the moment (“Pumped Up Kicks”), while Grace Potter and her Nocturnals are seasoned festival performers who lean on heavy riffs (and Potter’s famously long legs). This is a toughie, but based on their highly buzzed about “breakthrough performance” at Coachella this past April, we’re going to suggest you check out Mark Foster and his People as they perform to what will surely be their largest audience to date.