If you were a Mad Scientist and were looking to create the Perfect Pre-Teen Pop Star in a laboratory, your end result would probably look something like Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ronan Parke (that is, if you were any good at being a Mad Scientist). He’s got Justin Bieber‘s adorably dreamy hair helmet, Greyson Chance‘s vocal range, and the irresistible British accent of a young Davy Jones. However, unlike those other teenage dreamboats, there’s an undeniable air of melancholy that permeates all of his performances, which has us wondering whether he’s cut out for international superstardom.
Take his cover of Lady Gaga‘s “Edge Of Glory,” for example. Whereas Gaga’s song wears its anthemic qualities proudly on its sleeve (regardless of whether you’re listening to the album version or her acoustic take on Howard Stern), Parke’s take is stark, haunting and dripping with sadness. Gone are the joyous, celebratory punctuations of Gaga’s original (“Alright, ALRIGHT!”), which makes us wonder why this 12 year-old boy is so darn depressed!
Now, don’t get it twisted, we’re not haters. Parke’s vocal chops are undeniable (at least until he hits puberty and his voice breaks), but right now, he’s little more than a chameleon. He doesn’t yet have the life experience to understand the underlying themes of the music that he has been covering—don’t EVEN get us started on his take on Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love”—which is why his cuts feel just a bit off, emotionally speaking. Time will tell as to whether he’ll be able to capitalize on the fame that his Britain’s Got Talent appearance netted him, but if he is to succeed, his minders would be wise to have him concentrate on laying down some more age-appropriate tracks that will hit his target audience of teens and tweens right where it counts — their wallets.
Last night, we were all about the Explosions in the Sky performance on the Late Show with David Letterman?not necessarily because we’re the biggest fans of their sweeping-guitar post-rock (which is not bad) but because for four precious minutes we could close our eyes and pretend that Friday Night Lights was still on the air. (We miss you, Coach Taylor!) As a result, we underrated the unassuming performance taking place simultaneously on the Tonight Show: Mat Kearney‘s “Hey Mama.” Back in 2006 Kearney was a You Oughta Know artist whose songwriting (and vocals) reminded us of parts of what we like about Coldplay.
In the intervening years, he’s added not-inconsiderable pep, and a full horn section, to his band, which pushes yet another set of our pop-music buttons. Think Chris Martin fronting Hanson on a “Give a Little” b-side. In fact, it was so catchy that we’re willing to forgive the lyric “Met her at Anthropologie.” Check it out!
Jennifer Lopez Will Return To American Idol Next Season
Jennifer Lopez is having a great day. Her September 2011 Vanity Fair cover story was announced (and teased), and on top of that, a deal has allegedly been struck?though not yet signed?that will bring her back to an American Idol judge’s chair…to the tune of just over $20 million, which is a touch more than the $12 million she made for last season’s stint. [Popdust]
Two New Albums Forthcoming From The-Dream, One Of Which Won’t Be By The-Dream
According to his Twitter, The-Dream plans to work on a new album (his fourth) for Def Jam, slated for a fourth-quarter release. He will also be releasing a 10-song album called 1977 under his given name Terius Nash on August 31. He claims, “BTW NO ONE AT DEFJAM IS HAPPY ABOUT A FREE ALBUM LOL…. they are trying to stop it!” So this may not play out as The-Dream has planned. [@mrteriusnash] Read more…
The dog days of summer are upon us, people. It’s August, it’s hot outside, and the news cycle is starting to slow to a crawl. The general sluggishness of the season is even affecting the music industry, as music fans don’t seem to be gravitating towards any new material. Instead, they seem to be content to play the same songs that they’ve had on repeat all summer long.
Case in point: Katy Perry‘s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” which has exhibited a stranglehold on the top of our Song of the Summer Countdown for six consecutive weeks. Her song looks to have a lock on the prize at this point, but then again, maybe The Throne (aka Jay-Z and Kanye West) can mount a last-minute challenge when their highly anticipated collaboration Watch The Throne drops next week? Stay tuned!
It’s hard being a rap superstar. (Well, as hard as it could possibly be for the type of guy who has an “other other Benz.”) Kanye West and Jay-Z are being reminded of this fact as the release date for Watch the Throne, the debut LP of their collaboration The Throne, approaches. Yesterday’s rumors of disagreements behind the scenes as to tour details got a boost of credibility this morning when the Throne postponed 14 of the 25 announced tour dates and outright canceled (or at least, have yet to reschedule) eight others. The tour, originally slated to kick off in Detroit on September 22, will now begin five weeks later in Atlanta.
This was only a minor setback in the face of the announcement yesterday that Spike Jonze had directed a video for “Otis,” to premiere soon. That night, the Throne hosted a wildly successful multi-session listening party last night at the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s Museum of Natural History (not to be confused with the planetarium of the same name in Westport, CT, referenced in Fountains of Wayne‘s “Laser Show”). Then audio of the listening party surfaced online. Apparently the searches for recording devices and confiscation of cellphones (to prevent a repeat of the incident with the hyperenthusiastic Fader Tweeter) was not thorough enough to stop bootlegging.
On the bright(?) side, the bootleg consists merely of distorted snippets of songs, according to our friends at Popdust?so incomplete and of such low quality that they’re hardly a replacement for the album even through the tinniest laptop speakers. Def Jam probably won’t have to push the digital release date any closer as a result. Whoever chases leaks on their behalf, though, is going to have a very busy next couple of days regardless.
If you don’t have a teen or tween living in your household, chances are you’re not familiar with Victoria Justice … yet. The 18 year-old is the latest in a long line of multi-hyphenates to emerge from Nickelodeon universe, thanks to her acting work on the sitcom that bears her name, Victorious, as well as her burgeoning music career. Her perky pop song, “Best Friend’s Brother,” has been bubbling up in the Billboard Hot 100 and iTunes charts for most of the summer, and now her cover of The Jackson 5 classic “I Want You Back” seems poised to make an appearance on more than a few playlists on the iPods of the millenial set. The cover was the focal point of this past weekend’s one-hour movie special, Victorious: Locked Up (hence the orange jumpsuits in the video), and the Victorious soundtrack hits stores today.
To hear Caleb Followill tell it, Kings of Leon‘s American tour has been cancelled so that he can rest his voice. To hear the rest of the band tell it?well, they’re not being specific, but they seemed angry with the outcome, judging from their reactions yesterday. The band’s management is being a bit more active in its pursuit of silence, making copyright claims on clips of Caleb’s meltdown [via @carr2n]. Their basis for the claims is the inclusion of the band’s music, which is why edits that include merely Caleb’s ad-libs have remained on YouTube, but the claims are suspiciously coincidental given the sheer volume of fan-shot Kings of Leon clips from other shows still available on the site.
As a na?ve attempt to protect Caleb Followill’s privacy (and reputation), this is all sensible?perhaps standard operating procedure prior to the Internet. As a social media strategy, however, this is the worst possible course of action for the band and for Caleb. Fans are curious folks, and as long as an audience wants the story, people will try to get it (and in so doing, will have control over it). In the absence of hard evidence (or sometimes even in spite of it), speculation and circumstantial evidence will exist as fact in practice.
The new video for Best Coast‘s “Our Deal” is the latest in MTV and Mean‘s “Supervideo” series. Directed by Drew Barrymore, the video stars hot young talent like Chloe Moretz, Miranda Cosgrove, Donald Glover, Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey, Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat and, um, Har Mar Superstar. Because of the talent involved and the strong production values, it feels less like a music video and more like a short film, which also allows us to sink our teeth into it in a manner unlike most of the videos we see each day.
The chorus of “Our Deal” says a lot with a little about miscommunication in romance: “I wish you would tell me how you really feel/ But you’ll never tell me, ’cause that’s not our deal.” Springboarding from this, Drew Barrymore has made an entertaining and visually rich mini-film, with an ending that seems merely ironic at first, but gains resonance upon reflection.
It’s doubtful that you’d realize how many times “stars” are referenced on Watch The Throne if you didn’t hear it for the first time whilst gazing at digital galaxies and constellations above your head in a super dark room. Words like “moon” and “sky,” too, actually. Last night, at New York City’s Museum of Natural History, Jay-Z, Kanye and the generous folks at Def Jam hosted three separate listening sessions inside Hayden Planetarium, allowing inquisitive listeners to hear the album almost in its entirety (skipping just one track) while they sat reclined, looking up at the impressive show above.
While it was definitely a unique experience for all in attendence, the pizazz of the intergalactic spectacle on the theater’s ceiling screen was a distraction from the music that drew VIPs like Beyonc?, Pusha T, DJ Khaled, Ryan Leslie and Busta Rhymes to show up in the first place. And sonically speaking, unbalanced levels also made focusing on both emcees’ verses a challenge. In the first session, for example, the bass would be so loud that our seats were vibrating and Hov’s lines were rendered virtually inaudible. But let’s dial it back. From what we heard of it, overall, the album sounded solid. The production is definitely on-point, and Jay isn’t paired with Linkin Park or R. Kelly this time around; although it’s too early to tell off these first listens, it seems Kanye’s verbals may, in fact, actually best Jay’s. And ‘Ye will be the first to admit that he’s selfishly “getting high on [his] own supply.” Of beats, that is.