The Grammys are almost upon us and it’s time to start wagering on winners. We’ve been speculating over one of the most talked about — and important in terms of a young star’s career — categories, and that’s the Best New Artist. Obviously, whoever wins is going to steal the spotlight, and with the fickle nature of music consumption it’s an all too important spotlight that’s up for the taking. With a smorgasbord of acts up for the award, covering genres from country to rap to dub to indie-pop, it’s tough to put the finger on a winner. We’ve weighed up the odds below, and given our opinion on the likelihood of each nominee taking home the illustrious award.
The Band Perry
There’s no doubt that The Band Perry are the best new country act of the year, winning Best New Act at the Country Music Awards as well as Single and Song Of The Year with “If I Die Young.” We think The Band Perry are hot favorites for the win after their winning year in 2011, and because they’ve bought some youthful fun to country music.
Bon Iver Bon Iver has been a controversial nominee at best, first with front man Justin Vernon lambasting the Grammys and then refusing to perform on the night. It seems like with the popularity and critical acclaim that “Holocene” found in 2011, they may have been strong contenders, but unfortunately took themselves out of the race with their petulant behavior. They’re not really a “new artist” anyway, so it might be nice to see someone fresh off the block win the award, even though we do love the music of Bon Iver.
Kelly Clarkson is taking a leaf out of Taylor Swift’s book and including cover songs in her set while she’s on tour promoting Stronger. But unlike Swift, she’s not following a city-by-city guide to pop-stars — instead she’s letting the fans choose! She said on stage at the Riverdome in Bossier City, “‘Cause I got here by fans voting for me 10 years ago, so it’s still cool that y’all are still involved in the show,” before proceeding to play Madonna‘s “Crazy For You.” Kelly’s version of the song was heartfelt and reverent, and if we didn’t know better we would have assumed it was one of her own songs!
In Texas, Kelly covered Pistol Annies‘ “Hell On Heels,” (watch it after the jump) to a clearly ecstatic audience. Like Madonna’s pop classic, Kelly covered the country track to perfection, and we’re quietly impressed by her ability to slip between genres with such ease. Her sultry performance was just perfect for the sexy track, and we’re even thinking she could join the Annie’s for a duet. Earlier in the tour, Kelly also gave great performances of Coldplay’s “Fix You”, Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t” and Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”, proving definitively that the girl can sing just about anything. We’re looking forward to seeing what else she throws out on tour, and wouldn’t mind making a few requests of our own!
Our friends over at Popdust came up with a fairly ingenious (if also a wee bit insane) way to educate themselves with the contenders for this year’s Grammy Awards. Since 10 a.m. this morning, they have been hosting a Grammy Listening Marathon, during which they have been playing all 108 of the songs that have been nominated for Grammys this year in alphabetical order. VH1′s own Carrie Keagan, host of Big Morning Buzz Live, is joining their conversation from 4-5 p.m. today, as should you! (As of 4 p.m., they’re at the “R” section of the alphabet.)
Below, you can find a USTREAM player so you can listen to the songs, as well as a way to join in on the chatting festivities. Enjoy! Read more…
Hot on the campaign trail pending this year’s election, President Obama is yet again proving why he’s a cut above the rest by releasing a Spotify playlist to soundtrack his campaign. No matter what you think of the Obama presidency, you can’t accuse the man and his minions of being inept when it comes to new technologies and social media. Indeed, the Spotify playlist, which itself is the primary “of the moment” device for music sharing, was promoted using Obama’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, giving the incumbent somewhat of a modern edge against would-be Presidential candidates. Not to mention making him unspeakably cool, which counts for almost everything to the social media generation.
However, it isn’t all peaches and cream in Lana Del Rey’s world this week. Despite the fact that she played a well-received set on Letterman last week and performed an intimate gig for her passionate fanbase at the Los Angeles outpost of Amoeba Records yesterday, it seems that Interscope is determined to limit her exposure at this point in time. Earlier this week, the New York Post erroneously reported that she had cancelled a planned Spring tour of the United States; her reps firmly denied this to be the case, but then confirmed to Pitchfork that LDR had indeed cancelled a planned outing to Australia, as well as her highly-anticipated SXSW dates in March. So, for now, LDR fans will have to make do with repeated listens to Born To Die, as well as a still unscheduled appearance on Ellen, to get their Lana fix.
Have you ever wondered exactly what’s going on inside Kayne West‘s brain? There’s been at least one occasion where we’ve lost sleep over it, but now we can put our questions to rest once and for all, as the Kanye directed video for his Watch The Throne hit “Paris” with Jay-Z gives us a glimpse into the cray goings on inside the West cranial cavity. And it’s exactly what we’d pictured — a kaleidoscopic, ordered chaos in which buxom women are commodified and appear in double while regal black panthers lurk in the shadows.
Comprised mostly of footage of Hov and Ye playing to an audience, there’s a cameo from Will Ferrell and plenty avant-bricolage consisting of found images of Paris, digital geometry and the same kaleidoscopic effects that are used throughout. There are the requisite thrown up diamonds by the audience’s hands; but our favorite part is an almost poignant moment where Kanye looks out over the crowd. We can only see the back of his head — his vantage point becomes ours as the crowd, for blink-and-you’ll-miss-it split seconds turns to a thrilling kaleidoscope and back. A visual narrative that accompanies the banging “ball so hard” themed track, the video brings elements of the surreal and the absurd to Kanye and Jay’s world of money, fame, and Paris.
VH1′s February Posted artist The Fray stopped by Big Morning Buzz Live today to play their new single “Heartbeat.” After their high energy performance of the song on Letterman, The Fray gave us a stripped back performance of the song, which was just as moving as the inspiring show they put on for Letterman. The guys also took the chance to give us the second installment of their Posted blog, and after the first poetic and intimate entry, this second post by lead guitarist Dave Welsh tells the story of the band’s Super Bowl experience. Read the post from February 6th after the jump.
Ahead of the Grammys this weekend, for which they’re nominated for Best New Artist, The Band Perry stopped by The Ellen Degeneres Show to play their song “All Your Life.” Melodic and sweet, The Band Perry played their soft, rolling country track to perfection, not putting a single note wrong. Their stirring harmonies and gently strumming guitar added dynamism to the romantic love song. The Band Perry will also be performing at the Grammys, with a whole host of new stars and old legends.
“We gon’ step on all those lines that separate us tonight; you’re about to witness music at a very high level.”
Jay-Z made this characteristically bravado-laden declaration three songs into his set at New York City’s Carnegie Hall last night, the second of two charity shows benefiting the United Way and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation that he performed this week. Much has been said about cultural ramifications of a night like this, a triumphant chapter in a rags to riches story so improbable that Horatio Alger himself would never have envisioned penning it. It was clear from the outset of the show that Jay-Z had every intention of delivering on that ambitious bill of goods —when was the last time anyone attempted to put on a hip hop show featuring a 20-plus piece symphony orchestra for an audience filled with (primarily rich white) people in suits?—but by the end of the show, I couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t quite able to achieve both of those audacious goals equally.
First, the scene. Carnegie Hall is one of our country’s most legendary musical venues, and also one of our most exclusive. Not just anyone is allowed to perform here, nor is just anyone necessarily allowed to attend a gig there. As a means of showing respect to the 121-year-old venue and all that it symbolizes, attendees of this two-night stand were encouraged to dress formally for the occasion; like a good general, Hov made sure to follow his own directive. Taking the stage a few minutes after 10 p.m. in white tuxedo jacket, black tux pants, a dapper black bow-tie and stylish shades, J-Hova looked like the long lost sixth member of the Rat Pack as he performed “Public Service Announcement” off his 2003 LP, The Black Album. The audience ate it up, leaping to their feet and waving their well-manicured hands in the air like they just didn’t care, perhaps no one more so than his wife Beyoncé. The new mom snuck into her box seat (stage right, closest to the stage) just as the house lights dimmed and proceeded to emphatically dance in a standing position for most of the show’s nearly two-hour runtime.
Beyoncé Will Release “End Of Time” As Her Next Single
New mom Beyoncé is set to release “End Of Time” from her 2011 album 4 as her next single. Makes sense — we can’t imagine that Bey is ready to get back to work on new material so soon after the bub, and of course the world is keen for more from Mamma Knowles. So she’s doing the best she can to appease our hungry eyes and ears, not that we ever had any doubt she would. [Pop Dust]
Lana Del Rey Is Swarmed By Hysterical Fans
You know you’ve made it when you have fans that cry hysterically in your presence. Lana Del Rey‘s fans shed more than a few tears, overwhelmed in her presence at a signing at Amoeba Records. [Hipster Runoff]