It’s Tough To Find A Show On Broadway, Let Alone In Your Friendly Neighborhood, That’s As Fun As Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

by (@unclegrambo)

Before Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark even held its first preview performance last November, it had the notorious distinction of being one of the most troubled productions ever to hit the Great White Way. The $65 million-plus show had been languishing in development since 2002 and, after a number of delays, had lost two of its biggest stars, Evan Rachel Wood and the Tony Award winning Alan Cumming (who were set to play Mary Jane Watson and the Green Goblin, respectively). Things got worse, though, as soon as the play opened to the public; critics savaged the material, jokes about the production became an unending supply of grist for the late night comedy mill, and, worst of all, multiple performers ended up in the hospital following horrible on-stage injuries.

Yet, as cliché tells us, the show must go on! Except this time, it didn’t. Production of the show –which, it should be noted, was breaking Broadway box office gross records at the time– halted in March when the visionary creator and director of the play, Julie Taymor, was unceremoniously booted from the project after she resisted making wholesale changes to the show that the producers were internally describing “Plan X.” As The Edge, who co-wrote the music and songs with his U2 bandmate Bono, told the New York Times today, “When Plan X was presented, [Taymor] said: ?That could never be achieved in a three-week period. You?d need months to do that, and it probably won?t work anyway for X, Y, and Z reasons.? At that moment, when that was her response, the producers felt that whatever Julie would do with a hiatus was more of a polishing job than a top-to-bottom rethink of the show.? Even Bono admitted that “the first time I loved the play was two-and-a-half weeks ago.”

Why do we bring all this up? Well, after Spidey was benched back in April while the show underwent heavy top-to-bottom reconstruction, the revamped Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark finally opened at the Foxwoods Theater tonight (and the official soundtrack, featuring new songs from Bono and The Edge, also hit shelves today; it’s currently sitting at #12 on iTunes Top Albums chart). Luckily for us, we were invited to a sneak preview of the retooled extravaganza last week, and you know what?

IT WAS VERY EXCITING!

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Last Lap: Tuesday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

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We try to cover all the music stories that matter here on the VH1 Blog. Sometimes, though, we find too many stories to cover, stories that don’t exactly “matter” but are worth sharing, or even just good stuff from our peers. Here’s your Tuesday roundup:

Amazon’s 99-Cent Lady Gaga Deal Hurt Interscope
On Saturday, Ed Christman at Billboard noted on Saturday that while Amazon’s Born This Way price drop certainly helped increase overall sales figures for the album, it also shifted the balance from physical to digital sales to an extent for which Interscope was unprepared. Now, he calculates, 72% of Interscope’s initial shipment of physical copies of Born This Way?over 1.5 million CDs!?are taking up space on the shelves of retailers eager to return excess stock.

Is Britney Spears‘s Tour Underselling?
One of today’s Detroit Groupon Deals is a half-priced ticket to Britney’s July 28th show at The Palace of Auburn Hills. We can’t determine anything definitively from this, but we can presuppose that presales?at least, in Detroit?failed to meet expectations.

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Can The Preteen Adam Levine Lip-Sync Bobby Brown As Well As Blossom Can?

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The only part of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that we caught last night was Ziggy Marley‘s “Forward to Love” performance, so thanks to Popdust for alerting us to an unmissable bit of Leno’s interview with Adam Levine of Maroon 5 (promoting The Voice, naturally). Apparently Los Angeles, where Levine grew up, was home to a Chuck E. Cheese-plus-lip syncing birthday party venue called Closet Stars, at which kids would get somewhat in costume and sing their favorite songs. Naturally, somebody dug up footage of a preteen Levine mouthing the words to “Don’t Be Cruel” while copping some of Bobby Brown‘s signature dance moves. (Levine starts talking about Closet Stars at 2:12; the performance kicks in at 3:24.)

Even at that age, Levine showcases a bit of the swagger that he would bring to Maroon 5 later in life. But for our money, the honor of Best Bobby Brown Lip-Sync Performance of All Time goes to Mayim Bialik as the title character on Blossom. The show-runners wanted “My Prerogative” to be the theme song to the show, which aired after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Monday nights. The rights, however, proved to be too expensive, so “My Opinionation” was hastily written, and Dr. John was hired to record it. Nevertheless, the title sequence remained as shot for the entire first season, so you can see what the show’s opening might have looked like if the rights had been secured:

Whose rendition do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Ask Jordan Knight Anything: Answered! (Part 2)

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Yesterday we posted the first installment of Jordan Knight‘s Ask Me Anything answers. Today, we’ve got even more answers to your questions for the NKOTBSB singer (whose third solo album just came out on May 31) Above, Knight tells us what superpower he’d want, which Backstreet Boy he’d switch places with, and more. (For the record, we at the VH1 Blog endorse his answer to what three things he can’t live without.)

Thanks for the overwhelming response! We asked as many of your questions as we could. Stay tuned for our next installment of Ask Me Anything!

Promoters, Break Out Your Colored Pencils For The Foo Fighters Tour Rider Activity Book

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Foo Fighters are noted fans of The Smoking Gun‘s collection of tour riders, nodding in their humorous 2008 rider to Iggy Pop‘s extraordinarily entertaining 2006 rider. For their 2011 tour (taking them across Europe this summer and across the United States and Canada this fall), new requirements necessitated a new rider (not to mention that the 2008 document contained several outdated references to the late Ronnie James Dio). The Foos’ longtime tour manager Gus Brandt decided to make this rider extra-special by including an activity book at the end, featuring a maze, a word search, and other puzzles. “OK. Fire up the forward button sports fans and race to the Smoking Gun,” this section even proclaims, and sure enough, there it appeared earlier today.

The activities serve to hammer home the catering requests found earlier in the rider, including several warnings against “promoter pasta.” Brandt has been ensuring that the band eats well since at least the 1997 tour in support of The Colour and the Shape. Brandt knows the score well, having been involved with touring bands since before any of the Foos (except maybe Pat Smear) had ever been on the road.

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Tuned In: Givers Soar Through “Up Up Up” On Fallon

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Recent Glassnote signees and Dirty Projectors tourmates Givers made their television debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon yesterday, and they picked the perfect song to play. Granted, “Up Up Up” is their single, but it’s such a bright combination of multilayered rhythm and Afro-pop-tinged indie-rock guitar that it suited the band’s own excited energy at appearing on Fallon. Guitarist and co-lead singer Taylor Guarisco couldn’t stand still for a second, bouncing and chicken-walking all over the small amount of stage space he had available to him. The smiles on the rest of the band’s faces spoke almost as loudly as his dancing.

The band’s Southern jam-pop is in the vein of Annuals‘s “Brother,” the over-hype of which may have caused more harm than help to that North Carolina sextet. But the Louisiana-based Givers have Daniel Glass on their side, so we’re not too worried about their future?and we expect to hear another single from their debut In Light (released last week) soon. Our only complaint about the performance is that we would’ve liked to have seen more of what equipment the keyboardist was working with.

Elsewhere on late night?
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Kanye Showcases His G.O.O.D Music Team and New Tunes in NYC

by (@Lacezilla)

Before officially catching the wild wave of success that he continues to ride to this day, Kanye West was on a mission to prove his own talent and worth to the world. During that time, hip hop vet Jay-Z was the big brother, the mentor, and the boss man, letting Kanye audition tracks for placement on Roc-A-Fella Records artists’ albums. Fast-forward twelve years, and it’s Kanye who is now on the verge of building an empire, and his one-stop-shopping label, management, and production hybrid G.O.O.D Music could be his ticket out from under the giant-sized shadow of Jigga Man. Things move pretty fast in hip hop, but whether you know it or not, you may already be familiar with some artists Kanye’s signed to his squad, including Common, John Legend, “Day N Night” breakout artist Kid Cudi, and Pusha T: one half of brotherly rap duo Clipse, and the artist who performed with ‘Ye on last year’s VMAs. Other members of the G.O.O.D Music team (acronym for Getting Out Our Dreams), however, are either newer to the music world, or still taking time to build a tangible buzz. Either way,?they might be worth getting familiar with before it’s too late!

Last Thursday night, in front of a ravenous Brooklyn crowd and with the help of Heineken’s summer concert series Red Star Access, Kanye unleashed a G.O.O.D Music showcase on the masses. Performing solo hits and giving his crop of artists their own short sets to shine, Yeezy would go back and forth appearing on stage, and at times, joined his proteges for songs they’ve collaborated on together. A good example and important collabo to note, freshly leaked “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay” is a song that will be included on G.O.O.D/Def Jam rapper Big Sean’s debut album Finally Famous, out June 28th. At the album’s exclusive listening party held (also in NYC) on Tuesday of last week, Kanye compared the young, up-and-coming rapper to Beyonce, saying he had the potential to be what she is to R&B, but in hip hop. Hell of an introduction, wouldn’t you say? Certainly no pressure to Sean, who luckily? already has a? healthy following off of mixtapes released over the past four years. And speaking of Beyonce, there’s a rumor brewing? that Kanye and his team of G.O.O.D. Music hooligans (including Pusha, CyHi Da Prynce, Kid Cudi and Big Sean) will guest-star on a yet-to-be-released remix for “Party,” the song that we’re keeping on eye on for Song of the Summer.?

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Last Lap: Monday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

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We try to cover all the music stories that matter here on the VH1 Blog. Sometimes, though, we find too many stories to cover, stories that don’t exactly “matter” but are worth sharing, or even just good stuff from our peers. Here’s your Monday roundup:

Clarence Clemons Is Reportedly “Responsive” After Stroke
No official word has yet come about Clarence Clemons‘s condition following his stroke, but Bruce Springsteen fansite Backstreets quotes “a close friend” as saying, “His vital signs are improving. He’s responsive. His eyes are welling up when we’re talking to him. He was paralyzed on his left side, but now he’s squeezing with his left hand.” [Billboard]
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Song Of The Summer Countdown: Adele Is Still Dominating, But Here Comes Bruno Mars

by (@unclegrambo)


[Click here for a larger image]

If it doesn’t feel quite like summer yet, that’s because it’s still technically spring until the summer solstice arrives on June 21. After looking at the release dates of the songs atop this week’s Song Of The Summer chart, it certainly appears as if we’re still mired in springtime.

As you’ll see in our handy Microsoft Excel chart, Adele‘s dark and wintry chart topper “Rolling In The Deep” —which, we’ll continue to note until (if?) it leaves this countdown, was released in December (!)— has a strangehold on the Song Of The Summer crown for the third consecutive week. However, the smoky-voiced Brit seems to have some competition by the name of Bruno Mars, who lept over Katy Perry and J. Lo this week to snag the #2 spot with his breezy ditty, “The Lazy Song.”

However, even though “The Lazy Song” has yet to crest, we sorta feel like Pitbull‘s club-friendly plea as to why it’s best to just give in to your carnal desires, “Give Me Everything,” has the most momentum this week. Not only did it make its debut in the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown, but it’s also holding down the number two spots on both the Billboard 100 and iTunes sales charts, which certainly signals that people are going to be listening Ne-Yo crooning this song’s catchy, Eurotrance-y hook all summer long.

What song do YOU think is poised to make a big leap this summer? Continue along with our analysis and then let us know in the comments!

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Ask Jordan Knight Anything: Answered! (Part 1)

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Two weeks ago, we put out a call for questions for Jordan Knight for our Ask Me Anything feature, and we asked as many of your questions as we could?so many that we had to split the responses into two videos! Above, Knight responds to questions about smooshing, underwear, those amazing 1990 American Music Awards jackets, and more. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!