Madonna‘s 12th studio album, MDNA, just came out today and it’s already the #1 selling album in the iTunes Store. The critical consensus on the record, however, is decidedly mixed. We’re excited to give it a few spins after work tonight and decide for ourselves, but in the interim, here’s a taste of what some of our favorite music publications and critics have to say about Madge’s new jawn. (We already know what Deadmau5 thinks!)
“MDNA is a collection of thoroughly pumping pop tunes, some of which are slices of sheer brilliance. Not only does Madonna take us to the club with MDNA, she exhausts us, drains us, and confides in us.”—Keith Caulfield’s review for Billboard
“Madonna’s in a rapturous state of mind in 2012, and in more ways than one: A bulk of her latest album, an incredible, varied collection of pounding club cuts, bloody revenge odes and swinging, psychedelic ’60?s-tinged anthems, seems to be tripping out on acid–or, more accurately, ecstasy … MDNA is an incredible, explosively defiant record, but also [one that contains] unexpectedly raw, introspective balladry, all of which showcasing far more vulnerability than one might have concluded from the album’s two lead singles.”—Bradley Stern’s review for MuuMuse
“In fact, much of MDNA has more the flip zip of a disc by Katy Perry or Ke$ha than something by a woman who may be older than both their mothers … So many good tracks crowd the disc, in fact, that even the four extras on the deluxe version rate as must-owns.”—Jim Farber’s 5-star review for the New York Daily News
“Madge spends nearly half the album insisting that this is the Best Party Ever … So it’s surprising that Madonna is at her best on the love songs. The W.E. ballad ”Masterpiece” (which won her a Golden Globe in January) begins with Spanish guitar and a finger-snap rhythm — a refreshing break from the relentless bass throbbing.”—Melissa Maerz’s B- review for Entertainment Weekly
This hot button issue was on the top of everyone’s mind at this year’s SXSW Festival, where the worlds of technology and music collided for a few days earlier this month. Spotify executive Sean Parkerexplained during a VH1 Rock Docs panel audience that “There’s definitely some sort of dissent brewing between record labels, publishing companies and artists [about the compensation they get from streaming services] … Spotify is returning a HUGE amount of money [to the record labels]. If we continue growing at our current rate in terms of subscriptions and downloads, we’ll overtake iTunes in terms of contributions to the recorded music business in under two years.”
But what do the musicians themselves think? We sat down with a number of artists at varying stages of their careers —veteran acts like Train, The Shins, and Keane, as well as relative newcomers like Alabama Shakes, Best Coast, Fun. and Gary Clark Jr.— to get their perspectives on this controversial subject. Find out what they have to say in this exclusive VH1 Tuner video!
One would think that a world-famous DJ who wears a Mickey Mouse hat and spins electronic music against a backdrop of psychedelic lights would not object to a pop star like Madonna making a drug reference. With Deadmau5, not the case. Making a surprise appearance at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival on Saturday to introduce the ultra-hot Swedish DJ Avicii, Madge asked the audience: “How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?” Molly is a slang term for MDMA (found in ecstasy). The crowd cheered while Deadmau5 took to his Facebook page:
HUR DUR HAS ANYONE SEEN MOLLY???” such a great message for the young music lovers at ultra. quite the f’n philanthropist. but hey, at least yer HIP AND TRENDY! f*cking cant smack my head hard enough right now.
It seems to us that Deadmau5 has as much of a problem with Madonna trying to be hip by referencing ecstasy as he does with the reference itself. Madge, of course, has a long history of stoking controversy at just the right moment, and she does have an album to promote, MDNA — short for Madonna or a drug reference or both?
Fireside fondue, Buzz Lightyear cosplay, and mad disposable income: These are three things that you would be privy to if you agreed to let the barely legal Justin Bieber be your boyfriend. How do we know this? He tells us all of these things in song in his brand new single “Boyfriend”, which dropped at midnight last night. It’s a decidedly more adult Bieber that we’re hearing this time around; gone is the pip-squeaky, soaring upper register voice that bazillions of tweens went B-A-N-A-N-A-S for when My World hit the scene a few years back — he now raps (yes, raps!) in a voice that is leagues huskier than his fans are used to, but don’t get it twisted, it’s not like he’s morphed into Joe Cocker territory. (It should be noted that Biebs does go full falsetto in portions of the song’s chorus.)
So, will this song be a hit? Um, DUH. The song was produced by Mike Posner —which accounts for the song’s Timberlakeian charms— and sounds a bit like The Ying Yang Twins “Wait (The Whisper Song)” if it were imbued with the acoustic guitar flourishes of JT’s “Like I Love You.” Even more promising is the fact that the lyrical subject matter is something that will, as they say in politics, play to his base. We asked eons ago if Mike Posner was going to be the new Justin Timberlake, but it now appears that Biebs is gunning for that crown. We’re pretty sure that Posner isn’t sweating it, though, as he’ll be cashing some The-Dream sized paychecks for co-writing this one with The Biebs, which makes it a win/win for everyone.
Last night’s fifth season premiere of Mad Men laid a lot of groundwork of what’s to come this year: Among other things, it appears this season will focus on the escalating power struggle between Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling, the desire of Lane Pryce to break free of his uptight British upbringing, Peggy Olsen‘s diminishing faith in her boss/mentor Don Draper, Sally Draper‘s continued ascent into womanhood (her new voice FTW!), and the effect that motherhood will have on Joan Holloway. Oh yeah, and there’s also the matter of Don Draper’s seemingly spontaneous marriage to his sultry, sex kitten secretary-cum-wife, Megan Draper (née Calvert, played by the actress Jessice Paré).
The most memorable scene of last night’s highly anticipated episode occurred during Don Draper’s surprise 40th birthday party, which was organized by his coquettish new wife (who, we must add, enjoys doing housekeeping in her unmentionables!). The swinging Sixties are starting to blossom in full, and as a means of demonstrating the sexual hold she has over her new spouse in a room full of his business associates, Megan performed a startling, part-karoake, part-striptease version of Gillian Hills‘ 1961 French pop song, “Zou Bisou Bisou.” There seems to be some debate as to the song’s origins, but we’re going to include Sophia Loren‘s English-language version of “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” below (which appears on a duets album she recorded with Peter Sellers!), mainly because our French is a little rusty.
Fiona Apple got a warm welcome back to her native city last night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Born in New York City in the fall of 1977, her last live show here dated back to December 2005, so fans —most of whom, we’re assuming, probably didn’t see her performances at SXSW last week— were exploding with emotion as the lights dimmed. She came onstage to deafening cheers, her hair in a simple ponytail, wearing a bright green camisole cinched with a silver-y belt that hung stylishly in a bow at her side. She declared that she had two things to say:
1) She missed her dog Janet, so her friend had made her a cardboard cutout of her canine pal that she could bring with her on stage.
2) Even though she wouldn’t hear anyone chatting away during the show, she suspected other folks in the crowd wouldn’t appreciate any loud talkers.
(On the second point, there would be little to worry about. The crowd hung on her every lyric last night. Talkers? No. But there were plenty of participants, as the set would veer into a full-fledged sing-along at several moments during the hour-long show.)
With that business taken care of, she smiled and said, “Just be nice, be good, and I will give you everything I can possibly give you.” The band then launched into “Fast As You Can” as Fiona started twitching away behind the microphone.
The set featured a total of 12 songs, eight of which were from her past albums — though she performed only the title track from Extraordinary Machine, which elicited some of the loudest hoots and hollers when she arrived at the chorus and sang, “I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.”
Pitbull Will Sing The Men In Black 3 Theme Song
Yes but no! What about Will Smith? With Pitbull touted to sing the Men In Black 3 theme song, we’re going to miss Smith’s cheeky sound. Guest verse maybe? [Popdust]
One Direction Offers Free Download
If you haven’t heard of One Direction then we suggest you get out from under that rock you’ve been living beneath (seriously, it’s not good for your back). To make your emergence from the substrata even easier, the guys are offering a free download of an acoustic version of their song “One Thing.” Get it. [Idolator]
We feel like just mashing on the keyboard with open palms because there really are no words to describe the excitement we get from Adam Lambert‘s announcement of the release date for his new album, Tespassing. After being delayed from an original March release date, it’s reassuring to know we don’t have to wait too much longer, with the highly anticipated release now due on May 15th. We know all you Glambert fans are busy trying to build time machines to travel forward and get your hands on a copy, but as Katy Perry says “All this money can’t buy me a time machine.” So use your time between now and May 15 productively — watch the “Better Than I Know Myself” video on repeat!
Rihanna has Tweeted images of herself from the set of the video for “Princess Of China,” her collaborative effort with Coldplay. Calling herself a “Gangsta goth geisha,” Rihanna looks every bit the part as she flips the bird — and a exposes a healthy amount of flesh — at the camera. Her elaborate costumes fit the persona personally, and somehow even as a princess Rihanna has managed to embody raw sex appeal. At which point we cold shower, and eagerly await the arrival of this video!
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.”