Planning to cover “Rolling in the Deep”? Get in line. Planning to cover “The Edge of Glory”? Get ready to be promoted by Lady Gaga herself. Nick Jonas learned as much when he played the Gaga single, among other covers, on July 1 at a Microsoft Store in Los Angeles. Two days later, Gaga rehosted fan footage of the performance, adding the slate “THE EDGE OF JONAS” (in her favorite font, Impact), and tweeted her praise:
The Beastie Boys announced on Friday that a Spike Jonze-helmed music video for new single “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win,” featuring Santigold, is on its way later this month. The preview image above speaks volumes; the action-figure Beastie Boys, crouched for cover behind an overturned flatbed bearing their old-school logo, are prepared for some sort of Bond/Inception battle. We’re already excited.
That said, it seems slightly inaccurate to say that Jonze and the Beastie Boys have re-teamed, per se. The new clip likely didn’t require the Beastie Boys to even set foot in front of a camera or microphone, which probably suits them fine; they had a mere cameo, after all, in their “Make Some Noise” video. We are nonetheless thrilled to hear that Jonze is making another music video.
Over the past few years, music videos have had a miniature revival, but many of the innovative music video directors are no longer working in the medium. Jonas ?kerlund never stopped, but he’s enjoyed a return to popularity thanks to his videos for Lady Gaga (“Paparazzi” and “Telephone”). Nigel Dick also continues to make music videos, though his fort? was teenpop; none of his videos for Nickelback and others have been anywhere near as iconic as clips he shot for Britney Spears (“…Baby One More Time,” “Sometimes,” “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” and “Oops…I Did It Again”) and the Backstreet Boys (“As Long As You Love Me,” “All I Have To Give,” “Drowning”), not to mention the MTV original movie 2Gether.
When rumors swirled last week that Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration Watch the Throne would be released on July 4, we speculated on the likelihood of such a release, concluding that the release date decision was really up to Kanye, then went to the source and got an official denial, which in hindsight makes perfect sense, since Kanye spent the weekend performing, at Summerfest in Milwaukee on Thursday and at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, which would, we presume, preclude finishing the album.
July 4 did turn out to be a benchmark for the album, despite it not actually being released: shortly after midnight, the album became available for pre-order (CD and digital, deluxe and standard), with an announced “ship date” of Tuesday, August 2, 2011, apparently confirming weekend rumors, attributed to Ryan Seacrest, that the album would be coming in August. The album art, also revealed on July 4, can be seen below:
Everyone else in the United States may have taken the day off yesterday, but Billboard‘s “Mashup Mondays” was in session?possibly because yesterday’s contributor, James Blunt, isn’t an American. Blunt and band leapt at the opportunity for contrast, covering Katy Perry‘s “California Gurls.” We’re not sure to what extent the scaled-back, near-acoustic rendition of last year’s Song Of The Summer is a gag; there’s a wink in every grin he gives the camera, though half the time it’s on lines like “they’ll melt your popsicle,” but the rendition isn’t sloppy.
Blunt jokes characteristically in the interview segment after the song. He explains his song selection by noting, “I sing like a girl myself, so why not?” and comments, on Perry, “I suppose I’ve always admired her, ’cause she’s just got great hands”:
We see what you did there.
We only wish Billboard had gotten footage of Blunt “trying the Snoop Dogg rap,” about which Blunt only says “It’s not on the track — particularly with an English accent it doesn’t really work.”
When the producers of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks special contacted Beyonc? about introducing their display of forty thousand fireworks over the Hudson River with a musical performance, it must have seemed like the most obvious phone call. Thanks to a combination of factors, not least her relative resistance to the return of European dance sounds in pop, her promise to campaign for Barack Obama in 2012 (as she did in 2008), and her “Move Your Body” video for Michelle Obama‘s “Let’s Move” campaign, unpacked by Mike Barthel at Sound of the City, B has come to represent a certain facet of “America.” No other artist could as effectively have honored the 125th anniversary of the gift of the Statue of Liberty by performing at its base.
Plus she’s promoting her new album 4! So everybody wins. Above, watch her performance, to a crowd of adoring fans, of her single “Best Thing I Never Had,” for which a video will be premiering imminently.
If Ark Music Factory CEO Patrice Wilson has anything to say about, she will be! The man who turned Rebecca Black into an overnight sensation back in March has a new prot?g? named Lexi St. George, who was introduced to American audiences yesterday during a Good Morning America segment called “Instant Pop Star” (a name that, at least to us, doesn’t seem to place any sort of value in oldster values like “artistic integrity” or “career longevity”). The 14-year-old debuted her (unnecessarily parenthetical-laden) first single, “Dancing To The Rhythm (With Me),” on the show and, if you’ll allow us to damn it with faint praise, it sounds like just about everything else on Top 40 radio these days. Which is to say, it’s sung by someone with an appealing yet thin affect –think Katy Perry, think J. Lo– and, of course, its bridges and choruses are punctuated by sweeping, lite trance rhythms. It’s catchy, yet disposable, which sort of makes it a perfect pop song to play for your cadre of bleeding edge, irony-appreciating friends at a barbeque this weekend.
Lexi St. George reminds us a lot of Hermione Granger, if Ron Weasley‘s best babe decided to forego a career pursuing Defence Against Dark Arts and instead went the pop star route. She’s got clean-cut Everygirl good looks, and her dance floor skills would blend in perfectly at a junior high mixer. Most importantly, though, she looks like she’s having “fun fun fun fun” with her group of (hilariously) multicultural friends¹ in her video. Speaking of Rebecca Black, it’s too early to say whether or not Lexi St. George will experience the same rocket ride into the spotlight that Black enjoyed, but no matter what happens to her, you can bet that she’ll be the star of her school’s Homecoming dance come this Fall.
We were pretty disappointed to report that Watch the Throne won’t be released on Monday, so we thought, since you might feel the same way, we’d offer a few listening alternatives:
The false rumors had it that Watch the Throne would have a surprise digital release, which actually isn’t a bad strategy, as far as avoiding leaks is concerned. In fact, Lil B did exactly that two days ago; his new album I’m Gay showed up for sale on iTunes late Wednesday night. “I Hate Myself,” the album’s eighth track, samples a monster hit from a 1998 soundtrack. See if you can guess it without clicking. (Hint: the song holds the record for most weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart.)
For more thoughts on Lil B, click over to The Awl, where Dave Bry used “three makes a trendpiece” logic to talk about how young rappers like Lil B, Tyler the Creator, and Drake are referencing Marvin Gaye in order to permit themselves to talk about their feelings (while punning on the Motown legend’s last name). Or check the rave review penned by Lupe Fiasco, whose video for “Out of My Head,” featuring Trey Songz, premiered yesterday on MTV.
Each Friday here on the VH1 Blog, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer?s Spotlight with us. This feature will include three things —sometimes related, sometimes not!— that Jim is obsessing over this week. Be sure to tune into the Top 20 countdown when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT tomorrow morning, coming at you from the lovely environs of Long Branch, New Jersey.
For years I?ve been compiling Fourth of July mixtapes and playlists. Sometimes I keep them thematic, and sometimes it?s just about choosing tracks that will keep the backyard barbeque rockin?.
Anthems like Katy Perry?s “Firework,” Bruce Springsteen?s “Born In The U.S.A.,” or George Michael?s “Freedom! ’90″ are obvious boom-box picks, but if you want to get downright specific, here are my three favorite Fourth of July songs that actually mention the holiday by name:
?Good? by Better Than Ezra
Depending on how you listen to this classic ?90s modern rock ditty, you could either take it as joyous song of freedom, or a sad breakup tune. Either way, Better Than Ezra?s Kevin Griffin points out that the only time he?ll possibly call or write his ex is on?you got it?the Fourth of July.
RIHANNA’S “MAN DOWN” VIDEO COST AN ESTIMATED $78,000 TO PRODUCE AND $1 MILLION TO PROMOTE
And that’s pretty much par for the course for a major-label pop single. NPR‘s Planet Money team investigated the economics of today’s pop market in a story for All Things Considered today, using “Man Down” as their example. The $78,000 breaks down in a pretty straightforward manner. The $1 million is a little fuzzier, possibly due to anecdotes like this one: “Paul Porter, who co-founded the media watchdog group Industry Ears, says…shortly after he started working as a programmer for BET about 10 years ago, he received $40,000.00 in hundred-dollar bills in a Fed-Ex envelope.” [Planet Money/NPR]
Contrary to reports earlier today that speculated that Watch The Throne, Kanye West and Jay-Z‘s highly anticipated new collaborative album, would be released on July 4, VH1 can exclusively confirm that the record will NOT be dropping on our nation’s birthday. We spoke to sources close to Jay-Z‘s management team earlier today who have direct knowledge of the album’s release plans, and they confirmed that the rumored July 4th release date is “not happening.” Sorry to ruin your holiday, folks!
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]