Unless you have a couple of children running around your household, we’re betting there’s a very good chance that you missed the Kids Choice Awards that aired on Nickelodeon on Saturday night. We’ve got all of the coverage of who got slimed (hint: The Biebs!) over at our sister site TheFABLife, but we’re here to focus on the musicians that strutted their stuff for the kid set.
The 2012 SXSW Music Festival is in the books, y’all. Your friendly neighborhood VH1 Tuner team was down in Austin for five days, but it felt more like a month (in a good way!). By that, we mean that Austin is a very inviting place, the kind of city that is big enough that you don’t get bored by it, but small enough that you get familiar with the layout quickly. In short, by the time we left the city on Sunday afternoon, it sort of felt like home.
If you’ve never been down to Austin —this was actually the first time down there for both myself and our ace photographer, Jen Marigliano— we wanted to give you a vibe of what the city is like during the festival. So, in this special SXSW edition of our long-running Music Seen feature, you’ll get a sense of what we experienced during our short trip to the Lone Star state. You’ll see some of the artists that we spent time with (like B.o.B, T.I., Neon Hitch, Train, Kimbra and more!), the crowds of people who fly in from all over the world to see live music at intimate venues, and how music truly takes over this awesome college town for six days each and every March. Enjoy!
During that time, she told us a little bit about her new record (“Benny Blanco produced pretty much the whole album, I did some with Darkchild and Greg Kurstin, and I have a great song (‘Gold’) that’s one of the singles that I wrote with Bruno Mars“) and what factors play in her decision to perform her new single, “Love U Betta,” in its radio-friendly form or it’s raunchier, unedited style. “Usually it’s not my decision,” Neon explained. “Usually someone is going, ‘You have to keep this clean, Neon, or there’s gonna be trouble.’ And I’m like, ‘Okayyyyyy!’” She also spent some time wandering the streets of Austin with our ace photographer, Jen Marigliano, for this very special SXSW edition of Music Seen.
Our March You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, headed down to VH1 headquarters last week to hang out with us. We had a great day with Jamie and Tommy, the duo that make up our new favorite band. With our photographer Colin Gray following them around the studios, we got to be privy to some fun, some candid, and some exciting moments all captured on film. And let’s not mention the swoon factor in our offices that day — as the dreamy duo played live for us, there was a collective knee buckling in the room, and we’re only just starting to get our balance back!
Maya Rudolph and Sleigh Bells were the host and musical guest, respectively, on last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live. The standout sketch of the evening involved the world’s most famous new parents, Jay-Z (played by Jay Pharoah) and Beyoncé (Rudolph) welcoming a slew of famous musicians to their crib to welcome the newest member of the Carter family, Blue Ivy Carter (see: Photos of Blue Ivy Carter). Their guests at their Scarsdale, NY home included the mystery wrapped inside of a riddle wrapped inside of an enigma that is Prince (played to perfection by Fred Armisen), 2012 Grammys host LL Cool J (played by Kenan Thompson, a comedian whose many strengths do not include the ability to do a spot-on impression), a rambunctious Nicki Minaj (played more than adequately by Nasim Pedrad), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Taran Killam and Abby Elliott, respectively), and a VERY surprised Taylor Swift (Kristen Wiig).
There was one other surprise visitor to see the Notorious B.I.C. — the 2012 winner of the Best New Artist Grammy, Bon Iver! Frequent SNL cameo actor and former musician Justin Timberlake turned in a hilarious impression of the notoriously shy indie frontman, which included singing a parody version of “Holocene” that served as a lullaby that put both Blue Ivy AND Bon Iver himself to sleep. Justin (unnecessarily) went out of his way at the end of the show to make peace with the bearded Wisconsin native, holding up a sign that read “I (Heart) Bon Iver” as the show credits rolled, but we’re pretty sure that the recent SNL musical guest didn’t care. After all, unlike Snooki and Skrillex, everyone managed to pronounce his name correctly.
Last week, Antipodean superstars Gotye (an Australian artist) and Kimbra (who hails from New Zealand) stopped by our offices in the heart of Times Square. Taking some time out from their US tour to chat with us, the pair were endearing and sweet, and this month’s You Oughta Know artist Gotye gave us a glimpse into the genius mind behind their hit track, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Our photographer, Michele Crowe, followed the pair around the building to capture some intimate, candid moments for us, including the amazing performance they put on in our lobby! You can see all the fun we had when Gotye and Kimbra came to visit below (and after the jump!).
Sad news to pass along. After a long battle with leukemia, it has been announced that the legendary singer Etta James has died at the age of 73. The storied American blues, soul, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, gospel, and jazz singer’s terminal illness was originally diagnosed with leukemia back in 2010, and finally succumbed to the illness with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons by her side.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, James began formal vocal training at age five, participating in her local Baptist Church’s choir, and by age 14 she had a number one hit in 1955 with her doo-wop band, Peaches, entitled “The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry).” James signed to Argo Records in 1960 under which she released her two most lauded albums, At Last! and The Second Time Around. Her two most highly-regarded songs are “At Last,” released in 1961, and “I’d Rather Go Blind,” released in 1968.
Over her illustrious career, James released 30 albums and 58 singles, despite battling a heroin addiction in the 1960s and ’70s. James won six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards, and was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as #22 on the 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time list and #62 on their 100 Greatest Artists list. James was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008.
Her timeless work has been noted as a primary influence by artists like Adele, Kanye West (who sampled her take on “My Funny Valentine” for his song “Addiction”) and Beyoncé, who portrayed James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records. Beyoncé even performed “At Last” during the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama in 2009. Even today, her voice is all over pop radio: Her vocals from the song “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” have been sampled by both Avicii (“Levels”) and Flo Rida (“Good Feeling”) for the choruses of their wildly popular songs.
Etta James was truly a music legend, and will be remembered and revered always for her soul shaking vocals and talent as singer, performer and songwriter.
Want to relive all of the highlights of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul? There sure were plenty of ‘em!
It was incredibly difficult choosing between the hundreds of pictures that we took of this year’s extravaganza, but we managed to narrow down the list to our 30 favorite pictures and conveniently grouped them together for you in this special VH1 DIVAS Photo Gallery. In it, you’ll find incredible photos of DIVAS like Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and many more. There’s also a few great shots of the legendary Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, both of whom are starring in the upcoming film Joyful Noise, which will be coming to a multiplex near you on January 13.
Hey, have you heard the news? VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul is premiering tonight on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET, and take it from us (because we were there): It is a DOOZY of a show. However, what we’re going to share with you right now isn’t something that you’re going to see tonight. Our VH1 Tuner photographer extraordinaire, Miss Lauren Deiman, was the ONLY photographer on hand during yesterday afternoon’s dress rehearsals at midtown Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom, and she was able to capture these stunning images of world class talents like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson, and Jessie J practicing their performances one final time before the big show kicked off. Enjoy this exclusive and truly intimated look behind the scenes of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul.
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul is set to air this Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/8 CT, only on VH1. Yesterday was the first day of rehearsals at midtown Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom, and we here at VH1 Tuner were the only people on hand to not only catch some of the biggest names in music practicing their big numbers, but also spending some quality time bonding. Our ace photographer, Lauren Deiman, grabbed the following shots of stars like Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine fame), Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, current You Oughta Know artist Sharon Jones, Marsha Ambrosius, Estelle, Ledisi, and last but by no means least, Motown legend Martha Reeves.
We can’t wait for you to see the whole show, it’s gonna be AMAZING. But for now, here’s a sneak peek at the this year’s outstanding DIVAS show.