Michael Stipe Channels Obi-Wan Kenobi At Local Multiplex
Retirement seems to be treating the former R.E.M. frontman well, wouldn’t you say? [Confessions Of A Michael Stipe]
Scarlett Johansson Duets With Dean Martin (!!!) ScarJo sings with the dead on the new edition of the late Dean Martin‘s album, My Kind Of Christmas. The actor-come singer’s vocals appear alongside Dean Martin’s on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and it’s quite lovely, really. [Stereogum]
Ever since Beyoncé announced that she was pregnant during this year’s Video Music Awards, fans, the press and naysayers alike all want to know the same thing: Is Beyoncé’s baby bump for realsies? In one corner, fans are rooting for Beyoncé, standing by their girl and her proclamations that she is indeed carrying Jay-Z‘s baby. But in the other corner, naysayers are calling shenanigans to Bey and her bump, convinced that there’s no bun baking in her oven. We have no idea what is true and what isn’t, but we have been curiously inspecting the evidence and have decided to round up all the conspiracy theories to see if we really do have another Roswell on our hands…
CONSPIRACY THEORY #1: THE DUE DATE
In October on the Australian TV show Sunday Night, Beyoncé announced that her child was due in Feburary 2012. According to the naysayers… Sorry Bey, but the math just doesn’t add up! A video released today (above) shows Bey gushing about her pregnancy and showing off a rather large baby bump on the set of “Countdown,” which was filmed on September 23, 2011. In the video, Beyoncé states that she is 6 months pregnant… which would make her 9 months pregnant in December… and 9 months is traditionally the point at which the baby decides to emerge from the womb… so it looks like Mamma Bey needs to get her story straight! “Don’t be ridiculous,” say the fans… Beyoncé is known for being extremely private, and any discrepancies here can be explained away by the simple fact that Bey wants her real due date to remain a secret. There’s a reason this video came out, and moreover a reason why Bey is so careful to state the date at the start — Beyoncé doesn’t do anything by accident, and fans believe this is perfectly engineered to keep the birth as private as possible, much like her wedding to Jay-Z, the actual event of which was kept closely under wraps.
VH1’s You Oughta Know Artist, Scars On 45, stopped by the VH1 headquarters recently to play a short set of songs for us. We’re brimming with excitement to have the British quintet join our You Oughta Know stable, as we’ve been loving their new EP, Heart On Fire. The band was formed by former professional soccer player Danny Bemrose after an injury sidelined him from the game, and his new career direction is off to an incredible start. Scars On 45 have already had their songs featured on hit TV shows like CSI: New York, Grey’s Anatomy, and One Tree Hill, and their debut LP is set to be released sometime in early 2012. With a certain sincerity, Scars On 45’s sentimental brand of music embraces both the bleeding heart and classic rock, with an earthiness that speaks to the elemental qualities of the natural environment of their homeland in England.
During their stripped down set here in the heart of Times Square, between their endearing banter and heartfelt performances of their own songs, the band took a moment to cover Rihanna and Calvin Harris‘ number one smash, “We Found Love”. Admitting to the audience that they’d forgotten the words to the song when performing it live in concert the night before, Scars On 45 seemed confident regardless, and although they expressed a giggly trepidation, they took on Rihanna’s dance anthem head-on and didn’t miss a beat. However, Scars On 45’s rendition was no dance anthem — quite the opposite really, pairing a guitar-led, folksy sound with Rihanna’s lyrics, giving the song a completely new dimension. Pared back, slow and melodic, the song, but for the words, was barely discernible from the original, taking on a new, powerfully romantic poignancy. The rest of Scars On 45’s live performance will be coming soon, and we’ve got plenty of more whimsy where this came from! Read more…
Another year, another 50 albums you need to know, according to Paste Magazine. Yep, 2011 is coming to a close, and we’re about to be slammed with the “tops” and the “bests” of the year, not to mention the “musts” and the “watch this spaces” for 2012. Paste Magazine has kicked off the festivities with their top 50 favorite albums of 2011, and while 50 seems like a big number, it’s certainly not enough.
Of the lesser knowns, how could Youth Lagoon, The Weeknd and Atlas Sound fail to make the cut? It’s been a big year indeed, and it looks like culling a list down to even a generous 50 is a ruthless task. Hats off to Paste Magazine for taking a decisive plunge into rating 2011’s vast and amazing releases.
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”). Read 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.
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.