She & Him performed “The Christmas Waltz” on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno last night, and it was a very warm, cozy, understated affair. On a set designed to look like all your cuddliest Christmas dreams come true—trees draped in fairy lights, comfy couches and stockings by a mock fireplace—it was just a little bit magical. With Zooey Deschanel crooning in the dreamy way she does, it was a case of being transported back in time, or even to Santa’s Christmas village in the North Pole. It’s not even December yet, but She & Him have us swooning for a white, romantic Christmas.
Florence + The Machine Cover Drake’s “Take Care”
Florence + The Machine covered Drake‘s “Take Care” on BBC Radio 1′s Live Lounge, and while the cover featured all the soaring, atmospheric vocals we love Florence Welch for, it missed the brooding darkness of Drake and Rihanna‘s original. [Spin]
Wyclef Jean’s Haiti Charity May Have Been Involved In Some Shady Spending
The books are allegedly failing to add up for Wyclef‘s Yele Haiti relief fund. The charity reportedly made $16 million in 2010, but only an alleged $5.1 million was spent on the relief effort. Wyclef is being defensive, and for Haiti’s sake, we hope he doesn’t turn out to be a swindler. [Billboard]
Frank Ocean‘s rise has been meteoric, faster than the speed of light, blink-and-you’ll miss it — but the young R&B singer/songwriter, despite his swift rise to fame, has managed, amongst all the hype, to dig his heels in. Get used to the name, because Frank Ocean isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and we’re glad. Awarded the title of “Rookie” in GQ Magazine’s Men Of The Year 2011 lineup, Frank Ocean’s unassuming warmth, shyness and wicked sense of humor give the phenomenon a personality that is hard to resist. In short, between his genius R&B revival, industry credentials and humility, there’s nothing not to like about Frank Ocean. We’re particularly loving how adorable he is in this GQ video, revealing tidbits including his admiration for Adele‘s 21, the non-musical things he learned from Kanye West (“Always chose your sneakers wisely”) and the musical thing he learned from working with Jay-Z (“Less takes is sometimes more”).
In his video for his summer smash “Give Me Everything,” Pitbull isn’t shy with his endorsements. In particular, Voli Vodka makes a number of appearances: at the beginning of the video, with Pitbull pouring himself a glass, unashamedly brandishing the label towards the camera, while a very sexy lady, equipped with a red dress and sly grin, reclines next to him, and later, when the drink appears in a party scene at a bar laden with the bottles (it appears to be the only drink available at this particular club) and more good looking ladies. Even the least marketing savvy viewers likely recognize that Pitbull was paid to endorse Voli Vodka, but what’s actually surprising is that Pitbull is not just a celebrity cashing a one-time check; he actually owns a stake of the company.
This weekend’s Los Angeles Times, the paper took a look at this growing trend. It’s not just Pitbull following in the footsteps of Entourage‘s Vinnie Chase, it’s also big names like Diddy (Ciroc vodka), Ludacris (Conjure cognac), Justin Timberlake (901 Tequila) becoming multi-hyphenate marketing magnets. Now, obviously, it’s beneficial to pair an influential celebrity and a brand together in order to promote a product and make sales. And with an increasing number of performers partnering with brands and even developing their own products, now the artist has even more to gain than a one-time payment for product placement. Music and product sales, it seems, are being increasingly intertwined, and the repercussions of this are not only becoming glaringly apparent, they’re painfully obvious in a “water is wet” sort of way. But haven’t we always seen the conflation of art and commerce? From the clothes artists wear to the very precise ways in which they are positioned to align with certain values is often engineered towards brand promotion — albeit more subtly than in Pitbull’s latest foray.
In the first line of Birdman‘s new track “Y. U. Mad,” Nicki Minaj declares “I am the female Weezy,” and in the video she’s wearing waist length dreadlocks, a wife beater and army fatigues, doing a pretty accurate Lil Wayne impersonation. For the rest of her scenes though, Nicki does what Nicki does best in a bondage style onesie that leaves little to the imagination. Meanwhile, Weezy is dressed in a crazy fur hat as some futuristic love child of a rap influenced skater boy and a pill popping rave attendee, while Birdman drives around in a nifty car, is surrounded by piles of money and some bikini clad women giving the camera suspiciously sexy glances.
The track itself is a roof shaker, with a dirty, heavy bass and Nicki’s chorus “that’s why you’re mad, that’s why you’re why you’re mad mad,” is hopelessly catchy. We’re thinking Nicki makes the song, her abrasive, throaty raps just perfect for the apocalyptic, oppressive bass line. The decadent visuals and flashing lights just add to the drama of the beat, making the topic of the song, the reign of Birdman, Nicki and Wayne, although unexpected, completely convincing. Although we’re still not entirely sure why super famous/rich celebrities have to sing about being super famous/rich all the time, calling out their haters based on jealousy — surely being super famous/rich is enough to allay their insecurities? The “pop ya collar” concept, in short, is getting a little tired.
And it’s got us wondering, given that over the weekend Nicki and her boyfriend Safaree Samuels got into a much talked about Twitter argument with Cher, if Nicki isn’t really just giving the middle finger here. Although maybe Cher isn’t Nicki’s intended target, the tweet-fight certainly resonates with “Y. U. Mad,” so we’re increasingly inclined to ask Nicki that exact question. Why you mad, Nicki dear?
Miley Cyrus has released a video to a remix of her track “Liberty Walk” that consists entirely of mashed up footage of Occupy Wall Street and counterpart protests elsewhere. The video comes with a personal disclaimer from Miley, proclaiming, “This is dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in.” While we’re not entirely sure what we think of wealthy celebrities expressing support for a movement that is essentially owned by the everyman (the cynic in us suspects that such support has a lot more to do with publicity than sincerity), there is something fairly earnest in the young Miley’s allegiance to Occupy Wall Street, even through her tweets. Even if the girl is largely disenfranchised from the 99%, she seems to have a genuine admiration for the hoards of protesters rebelling against the man to fight for their beliefs. And that’s something in and of itself.
But then we see footage from Miley’s 19th birthday party (below) and we can’t help but wonder if she’s not wearing her support for OWS as some kind of badge. As friend and fellow child-of-a-celebrity-come-pop-star Kelly Osbourne presents Miley with a Bob Marley cake, Miley smiles into the microphone and announces, “You know you’re a stoner when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake!” All the while, there appears to be a guest dressed as a giant panda in the background, and given that we already got to see footage of Miley smoking a bong at her last birthday party, the panda is a lot more intriguing than Miley’s confession, which is tame in comparison to her 18th blow out.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! It’s time to tackle that tender turkey for your super thankful Thanksgiving meal, and we’re here to provide you with some extra sexy beats to get you through the entire process, all the way from the moment you take your first (but not last!) sip of your mimosa to the time when it’s time to say “grace” around the dinner table. So we made the following playlist, “VH1′s Songs To Baste Your Turkey To”, which can be found on Spotify. On your mark, get set … BASTE!
You’re in the kitchen, everything you need to make the perfect turkey laid out on the bench in front of you. You’re probably feeling some anxiety, or if you’re anything like us you’re having an existential crisis and are considering fleeing the scene. IT’S GOING TO BE OK. Before you start, make yourself a mimosa and relax.
Play: Adam Sandler’s “Turkey Song” — it’s pretty funny, and along with the mimosa should help take the edge off.
Now that you’ve calmed down, it’s time to preheat the oven and grab your Turkey. This part is a purgatory of doing tiny, banal preparatory tasks.
Play: The Offspring’s “Intermission” while you prepare to prepare, and relish the final moments of your sanity.
Here comes the gross part — stick your hand up your turkey’s butt and remove the neck and giblets. Yes, ew. You might want to finish that mimosa and make yourself a new one before you start.
Play: This is a call to arms (Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger”) so steel your resolve (Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”) and de-giblet that turkey (Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”). The delicate and squeamish need not apply, this is ultimate battle — The Battle Of The Turkey Innards.
With the ghost of Biggie nowhere to be seen, Taylor Swift still managed to invite some incredibly impressive guests to join her on stage last night at her Madison Square Garden show. When Taylor welcomed BFF Selena Gomez to the stage to sing with her, we were half hoping the two would cover Nicki Minaj‘s “Super Bass” after their fan-girl display at the AMAs. Unfortunately, we had no such luck, but we were just as delighted with their adorable performance of “Who Says.” Taylor also performed with legendary singer/songwriter James Taylor (who she was named after). Describing the circumstances as “magical,” Taylor played “Fire And Rain” and “Fifteen” (video below) with her namesake, and proved that “magical” was somewhat of an understatement.
VH1′s Top 20 Video Countdown is premiering Kid Rock‘s video for his new song, “Care,” featuring Angaleena Presley & T.I this weekend, and it’s just in time to get you into the spirit of giving this holiday season. The video is cast in black and white and features a moody looking Kid Rock perched in front of a brick wall, crooning and playing guitar. Footage of Kid Rock jamming is interspersed with images of the everyman, and the message is clear — there are people suffering. Kid Rock’s lyrics urge us to “care” about the less fortunate, with lines like, “I can’t change the world and make things fair, the least that I can do is care.” It’s an anthem for the holiday season to give the more fortunate some serious perspective, championing hope for empathy and humanity.
We’ve had Nickelback fever since we previewed the band’s video for “When We Stand Together” last month. Nickelback’s performance last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live did nothing to abate our fever, either — with Chad Kroeger‘s raw vocal and a stage literally set alight by theatrical flame throwers, Nickelback burned the house to the ground. With their awesome performance of “Burn It To The Ground,” not because they actually set fire to anything (other than our hearts, figuratively speaking). Nickelback’s roaring, metal sound was decidedly harder than their post-grunge beginnings, and even from behind a screen we couldn’t help but do a sneaky head bang.