On the penultimate episode of NBC’s The Voice last night, two music business also-rans and two “singing lesbians that America loves” (to paraphrase a recent Los Angeles Times piece) wowed viewing audiences with their passionate final performances. However, as we have come to expect from The Voice, there was one very big twist: Over the course of the last ten weeks and change, Javier Colon, Dia Frampton, Vicci Martinez and Beverly McClellan have built themselves a passionate fan base with their personal renditions of already familiar songs originally performed by other artists. Last night, though, the contestants showed off something new. Namely, their own original songs!
Obviously, this last-minute twist gives a HUGE advantage to the two performers who already have experience writing and recording their own material, Javier Colon and Dia Frampton. They both took advantage of the opportunity given to them to not only showcase their voice, but also their artistry, and America seemingly approves. As of this morning, Dia’s slow-burning, piano-driven ballad “Inventing Shadows” and Javier’s slow-burning, guitar-driven ballad “Stitch By Stitch” are sitting atop the iTunes singles chart.
They look just a little too put-together in their press shots. We point this out not to give the band a hard time, but because we thought you might have noticed, too, and that’s the sort of thing that would make us a little wary of the band, if we didn’t know better. We don’t blame their label for making them look good?after all, that’s part of what labels are for?but the band, especially frontman Mark Foster, looks a little uncomfortable in the photographs.
That’s why we try to record these You Oughta Know Live performances. We think the best way to experience a band is to see them live, and the next best is to see a live performance. Here’s where you get to see why we are such fans of the band (the VH1 Blog’s own Mark Graham picked “Helena Beat,” which the band performed as part of this set, as a Song of the Summercontender).
We embedded the last song of the set, “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls),” above because it was, not coincidentally, the strongest of the four performances. Foster in particular undergoes a visible transition as the set goes on, loosening up, losing his jacket, smiling more, until the near-maniacal laugh-vocals in this song’s bridge, which he nails. His all-out rendition belies the uncomfortable nature of the press photos?as does (sorry if this embarrasses you, Mark Foster) the fact that he’s wearing the same t-shirt he did when the band played the Sasquatch Festival in Seattle on Memorial Day. Now that’s the undeniable sign of a songwriter trying to get a break in L.A.: a favorite t-shirt.
Tuesday was apparently bluegrass night on the late-show circuit; two of the three new musical performances were Americana-inspired. While we were wowed by the finger-picking of Jonny Mizzone?at eight, the youngest of the three New Jersey brothers that comprise the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys?on the Late Show rendition of Earl Scruggs‘s “Flint Hill Special,” it’s no more or less charming than the YouTube performance of the same song that went viral a couple months ago.
Gillian Welch, then, was the highlight of the night, debuting “That’s the Way It Goes,” from her new album The Harrow and the Harvest, on Conan. Welch, who won two Contemporary Folk Grammys before contributing to 2002′s wildly successful O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, has gained a much wider audience in the intervening years despite no new studio recordings since 2003′s Soul Journey. (Among her fans: The Civil Wars. In a recent Posted update, Jon Paul White showed off two Gillian Welch CDs he’d purchased at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, and Joy Williams clapped approvingly.) If the rest of The Harrow and the Harvest is as strong as last night’s performance of “That’s the Way It Goes,” it will have been worth the weight.
LADY GAGA DRESSES UP LIKE A PANDA ON JAPANESE TELEVISION
Of course she did! The only controversy here seems to be whether or not she should be called Gagapanda or PandaGaga. [Buzzfeed via Natasha VC]
EVERY BEYONCÉ SINGLE EVER, COUNTED DOWN
In honor of today’s release of Beyoncé’s 4, our good friends over at Popdust put together this comprehensive countdown of every single that Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child. We won’t spoil their #1 pick for you, but we will tell you that neither of the singles that have been released from this album thus far (“Best Thing I Never Had,” “Run The World (Girls)”) cracked their Top Ten. [Popdust]
Looking for a Pandora-style music streaming service that’s curated by your friends instead of an algorithm? Or want to help DJ your own station? That’s the idea behind turntable.fm, a startup that went viral two weeks ago. The site is open to any user who has a Facebook friend who’s a member. Join a “room” (popular ones include Coding Soundtrack and Indie While You Work), and listen to songs uploaded to the site, or selected from its database, by one of up to five “DJs,” whose songs play one at a time, consecutively by DJ.
Last month, we brought Jordan Knight into our offices and invited you to Ask Him Anything. By all accounts, that experiment went extremely well, and most of you did not abuse the privilege. (Those of you that did, though –and you know who you are!– have been forgiven.)
Well, great news! We’re doing Ask Me Anything again now, but this time the subject will be the multi-talented musician/model/actor/raconteur Lenny Kravitz, whose new album, Black And White America, comes out on August 30. And, in case you didn’t play this game the first time around, we really mean it when we say you can Ask Lenny Kravitz Anything! Wondering if he kept the dreadlocks he shaved off (and if he can send them to you)? You should ask! Curious as to whether he’s a boxers, briefs or commando kind of guy? You should ask! Have you always been interested in learning how he divvys up his 401(k)? Now’s the time to ask, partner.
So, how do you ask? Well, there?s a few ways. You can leave a comment below, or you can tweet @vh1 with the hashtag #askmeanything. We?ll compile as many questions as we receive BY THIS THURSDAY MORNING (6/30/11) and do our best to get Lenny to answer them all. Remember, you can Ask Lenny Kravitz Anything, so make your questions as crazy or funny as you possible. The only limit is your imagination!
However, it turns out that this morning’s Times Square stunt is not C.I.* Joe’s first run-in with authorities. According to some (*cough* extremely crappy *cough*) video posted to C.I.* Joe’s MySpace page, he interrupted BET’s 106 & Park in April of 2010, and also the CBS Early Show in December of 2010, both times as a way of trying to promote his rap career. Speaking of which, we’ve got his video, “Warriors,” for you above. We’ll let you judge for yourself as to whether his future as a rapper is strong enough that it will make his trip to Bellevue worthwhile.
Last week on NBC’s The Voice, Maroon 5 premiered “Moves Like Jagger,” a new single featuring Christina Aguilera that creeped its way onto our Song Of The Summer chart this week. The collaboration may have seemed inorganic or (dare we say it) promotional on paper, but on record, the song is certainly on par with the rest of Maroon 5′s catalog. Aguilera now says, in the above interview with Rolling Stone, that she will take her experiences on The Voice into the studio with her when she records her latest album.
Well, that man is currently in police custody, but that doesn’t mean that his fifteen minutes of fame are quite over yet. Sure, there will be the obligatory press conference when he’s released later today, and of course there will be some punny New York Post headline to come tomorrow (Pole Dancer, perhaps?), but if the Man On The Pole has any ambitions at pursuing a music career, he need only get in touch with Grammy winning producer Jim Jonsin.
Jonsin, who took home a Grammy for his work on Lil Wayne‘s “Lollipop” in 2009, happened to be in Times Square this morning and offered to “make [the Man On The Pole] a beat if he gets down [from the pole].” Apparently, the Man On The Pole had been freestyling while 20 feet above the ground in Times Square (paging Chiddy Bang!) and, at one point, handed the cops one of his CDs. So, assuming that the Man On The Pole can put up some bail money to spring himself from the pokey, his first order of business really should be to give Jonsin a call to see if he’ll make good on his word.
Raphael Saadiq is one well-dressed gentleman?and a crucial part of the effortless cool he radiated when he appeared on Big Morning Buzz Live last month to promote his new album Stone Rollin’. VH1 Photographer Zev Schmitz followed Saadiq all day, and got some great pictures of the Bay Area multi-instrumentalist on BMBL, recording an VH1 Top 20 Live set, sound-checking (and later performing) at Webster Hall, showing off his look (and tattoos) a bit, and generally staring down release-date jitters. He needn’t have worried?the album would go on to chart better than any of his previous solo records.