It’s easy to think about the months following September 11, 2001 as a rude awakening from an imagined bliss (doubly fictitious, in that the peace only ever appeared to exist, and that it wasn’t that blissful to begin with). Nevertheless, the events of that day had a dramatic?and traumatic?effect on Americans, not least through our consumption of popular culture. But before the slew of original compositions responding directly to the event (of which Sound of the City has compiled what, in their estimation, were the nine worst), many listeners were already looking to music for comfort, guidance, or other emotional needs, while rejecting other music that flew in the face of those needs. Here’s what people especially did?and did not?want to hear.
In the second full chart week after 9/11, Houston’s 1991 rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” re-entered the Hot 100 at #50, and Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” debuted at #16 (in 1984, the song had hit the country charts but never crossed over). In a pattern that would be reversed once digital sales became common, the songs had two chart peaks?the first when radio’s support was strongest, and the second when physical singles were re-released. Sales of “God Bless the USA” were strong enough to keep it on the chart, but not to match its debut. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” on the other hand, hit #6 on the strength of sales (and continuing radio support). Read more…
The Horrible Crowes are the new side project of Brian Fallon, the man best known as being the singer and songwriter of the Springsteen-revering New Jersey punk band The Gaslight Anthem. His new outfit played a sold-out show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom last night, focusing mainly on the group’s new record, Elsie. However, The Horrible Crowes found the time to work an unexpected cover into their set: Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream.”
Indie acts have been cheekily covering Top 40 songs for as long as there have been Top 40 songs to mock—Travis‘ cover of “Baby One More Time” remains a high-water mark in this genre—but instead of following that pattern, The Horrible Crowes decided to flip the script. Rather than mocking the song’s inherently anthemic qualities with, say, insincere fist-pumping during the chorus, Fallon instead infused the song with a sense of lovelorn regret, totally transforming its entire nature. In Perry’s version, the song is a come-on; in Fallon’s haunting take, it seems as if the narrator is reminiscing about his better days and a love that’s long since faded away. Suffice to say, if the Horrible Crowes ever decided to put this song on wax, it could do for “Teenage Dream” what the Cowboy Junkies once did for the Velvet Underground‘s “Sweet Jane.”
Imagine: you’re a talented but struggling singer-songwriter with an ear for lush arrangements (not to mention a director’s eye for collage) who moves to Brooklyn from upstate New York but can’t get any traction at open mic nights, where you’re limited to your voice and a guitar, and even your name (Lizzy Grant) only brings to mind a character on Entourage. Do you throw in the towel?
If you’re lucky, you’ve got some resources you can draw on (in Grant’s case, her father’s shrewd investments in real estate domain names) and you can hire a top-line producer like David Kahne and PR team like Shore Fire Media. Then, if you’re smart, you work, and you wait. Grant, now Lana del Rey, (presumably after Lana Turner and, perhaps, Dolores del Rio?) is both lucky and smart, and now she’s poised to make a huge splash. On the strength of her first single “Video Games,” and its accompanying video, above, she’s sold out her first two shows as del Rey?one each in New York City and Los Angeles?and has just premiered another killer video for the B-side “Blue Jeans”: Read more…
Next Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Big 4 Festival will descend upon Yankee Stadium in New York City. The participants will include the ?big four? bands (i.e., pillars, staples, torch bearers, etc.) of thrash metal music: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Here are some other acts that could pull off a Big 4 Festival of their own:
1) Big 4 of Millennial Pop: Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys
This past summer, the Backstreet Boys created some buzz when they toured with their boy-band predecessors, New Kids On The Block, as NKOTBSB; but could you imagine the pandemonium they could create by teaming up with late ?90s peer/rival, *NSYNC? The reunions alone would sell tickets on this tour: Justin and *NSYNC, Justin and Britney, Britney and Christina, and three old Mouseketeers back together again.
So when the band took the stage, the crowd was ready?or so they thought, until the band launched into not one of their many hits, or even their numerous B-sides, but a brand new song that they hadn’t even played at their festival this past weekend. “Olé” is a fun, hard-charging rocker, and the band turned out a great performance. Can’t wait to hear a studio version? It’s already available for free download from the band’s website. Wish the band would play more? They’ll be on Fallon again tomorrow night. Any more questions?
VH1.com will be streaming a special, one-time only re-broadcast of the Concert For New York City this Sunday afternoon, September 11th, starting at 4 p.m. ET; the entire broadcast will also be shown commercial-free on VH1 that afternoon, too. As a nation reflects back on the tenth anniversary of the most horrific attack to ever occur on American soil, we here at VH1 will be focused on remembering the way that the artistic community came together during the difficult days and weeks after 9/11 to not only to pay respect to those who lost their lives that day, but also to honor the heroes that emerged in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
The Concert For New York City: 10 Years Later is being hosted by native New Yorker Ed Burns, and will feature memorable, once-in-a-lifetime performances from the likes of Paul McCartney, The Who, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child and many, many more. In order to make sure that you don’t miss the performances of your favorite artists, we’ve put together this handy schedule for you of who will be streaming/appearing on-air when. We hope you find it helpful!
And remember, even though it’s 10 years later, the Robin Hood Relief Fund could still use your assistance. Follow along for a schedule of when to tune-in to see the show’s most captivating moments…
Lil Wayne had 964,000 reasons to celebrate yesterday, and on BET’s 106 & Park he got eighteen more?one for each of his nominations for the 6th annual BET Hip-Hop Awards, which air Tuesday, October 11 at 8PM ET. Lil Wayne is so heavily nominated, in fact, that his toughest competition may be himself: he’s twice-nominated in the categories of Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Club Banger, and Verizon People’s Champ, and three-times-nominated for Reese’s Perfect Combo (Best Collab) and Track of the Year. In fact, only three songs account for eleven of those nominations: his own “6 Foot 7 Foot” featuring Cory Gunz, DJ Khaled‘s four-times-nominated “I’m On One” (also featuring Drake and Rick Ross) and Chris Brown‘s “Look At Me Now,” which is nominated in all six song categories (though the Best Featured Verse nomination goes not to Lil Wayne but to Busta Rhymes). “Look At Me Now” is an unsurprising frontrunner: back in June, the song won Best Collaboration, Viewer’s Choice, and Video of the Year at the BET Awards, and when it lost the Best Collaboration VMA to “E.T.,” Kanye West (himself nominated for ten BET Hip-Hop Awards) took to the mic to say that the Chris Brown video deserved to win. Voting for the Verizon People’s Champ Award will open soon; until then, watch “Look At Me Now” and, below the cut, check out the full list of nominees.
The-Dream has been fighting a very public battle of late, though his opponent may just be himself. His very public divorce from Christina Milian last year after allegations of infidelity remain very much on his mind?not so much the events themselves, but the reactions of listeners and of the gossip press, which he lumps together as “The Internet.” (In an interview with Ryan Dombal at Pitchfork, he indirectly cited the Gospel passage “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”) Meanwhile, he released the lyrically vulnerable free album 1977 (under his given name, Terius Nash), after what appeared from his Twitter feed to be a behind-the-scenes battle with his label Def Jam, though no one at the label ever made any public comment for or against the album’s release.
Now, in an interview with Hillary Crosley at Rolling Stone, he’s come clean with his grievances. He continues the streak of romantic fatalism that he began when he offered unsolicited advice in his Pitchfork interview: “Don?t get in a relationship if you?re going to leave a man if he cheats on you. Because 99% of the time he?s going to cheat.” In Rolling Stone he notes that “Most marriages end in divorce anyway,” though he claims, “I?m not bitter?I?m a crazy, hopeless romantic.” The vitriolic reaction to his alleged misdeeds (to which he all but confesses) seems only to have made him that much more set in his ways. He sounds a bit like Kanye West in this?an insecure but wildly talented songwriter who, in his desire to please all audiences without catering to what he perceives as a lowest common denominator, sees himself as beset on all sides by critics (not helped by the fact that both are adept at making very public personal misjudgments). Read more…
The Spring of Adelealmost became the Summer of Adele, and get ready, ’cause we may well be heading into the Autumn of Adele. Thanks to burgeoning radio support, and a boost in already unceasing sales (thanks in particular to her performance of the song at the 2011 Video Music Awards), “Someone Like You” became her second #1 single from 21 this week.
Adele’s first single from the album, the now nine-month-old “Rolling In The Deep,” is still in the top 20, but after spending April in the top ten and May and June at #1, it spent the rest of the summer ever-so-slowly receding from the chart peak, and continuing to sell even as radio has backed off its support in favor of the new single. Lil Wayne may have shifted nearly a million units this past week, but on the singles chart, Adele is still wearing the crown. It remains to be seen whether “Someone Like You” will continue her reign. The fan favorite from 21 was an obvious choice for follow-up single, but does it have the staying power of “Rolling In The Deep”? Will other pop songs have to settle for second place this fall? Revisit her VMA performance below, and let us know what you think in the comments! Read more…