Tuned In

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Tuned In: Blake Shelton Sasses Regis, Brings “Honey Bee” To Letterman

The Late Show with David Letterman was firing on all cylinders last night, what with the always entertaining Roseanne Barr promoting her macadamia nuts (and her reality show about her macadamia nuts), actor Tom Felton promoting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and surprise guest co-host Regis Philbin doing his best Ed McMahon all night. But Blake Shelton was not to be upstaged: “Will y’all stop talking long enough to let me [play]?” he quipped to Philbin. As country fans have known and The Voice fans have discovered, Shelton is, to put it plainly, a charismatic goofball.

He’s also a heck of a country singer, and this, his first post-Voice late-night television appearance, was no exception. “Honey Bee,” (which he’d sung with Dia and Xenia during The Voice semifinals,) has somewhat less overt country sonics than previous singles, but lyrics like “You be my little Loretta; I’ll be your Conway Twitty” keep Shelton firmly within Nashville’s borders. The song, which has spent a month atop the country charts, is the lead single from Red River Blue, which was released yesterday and is available to stream at Rolling Stone. Shelton will appear on two more networks tonight; he’s Jimmy Fallon‘s musical guest, and he’s also among the interviewees for his wife Miranda Lambert‘s episode of Behind the Music, which premieres at 10 p.m. ET/PT on VH1.

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Tuned In: Joss Stone And Dave Stewart Bring “Karma” Blues To Leno

Joss Stone‘s website proclaims that her forthcoming LP1 is “the first album Joss has recorded with total creative freedom.” Her fans needn’t worry, though; Stone’s newfound freedom is directed into another album of blues-rock soul, if last night’s performance of “Karma” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is any indication. She was joined by Eurythmics cofounder Dave Stewart, who co-produced LP1 and who, with Stone, comprises 40% of Mick Jagger‘s supergroup SuperHeavy.

“Karma” is the latest entry in the long and proud tradition of female vocalists’ wronged-lover songs, though despite Stone’s soul chops, it’s guitar-heavy and horn-free. Perhaps it’s more inspired by country’s takes on the theme, albeit with much less anger than, say, Carrie Underwood‘s “Before He Cheats” or Miranda Lambert‘s “Gunpowder and Lead.” LP1 was, after all, recorded in Nashville. Stone’s narrator does wield a loaded gun, though, so who knows?

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Tuned In: The Voice Winner Javier Colon Gives His All On “Stitch by Stitch” On Leno

Javier Colon was probably happy that the other late-night shows were in reruns last night when he appeared on the Tonight Show, but considering the ratings that The Voice pulled in for NBC, other musicians would probably have been just as happy not to have to face off with the show’s champion. He played the original composition that helped him win the reality competition, “Stitch by Stitch,” and it sounded great?an amalgam of the best bits of his performance on The Voice (e.g. live drums) and the studio version (a more fleshed-out, but not obtrusive, arrangement). As a conclusion to the televised promotion of both himself and The Voice before the show’s summer tour kicks off, it couldn’t have gone better.

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Tuned In: Parachute Shine On A Quiet Night (And So Does Marty Stuart)

The season finale of The Voice and the season premiere of Behind the Music (now streaming in full on our site!) stole the thunder of the two bands that performed last night on television, but you wouldn’t know it by watching them. Parachute, a band of University of Virginia graduates whose blend of Something Corporate emo-pop piano balladry and soul-band backup vocals and bass guitar works way better than it has any right to, kept the crowd excited on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with their single?”Something to Believe In.” The track has gained some traction on adult pop radio, even as the band is wearing t-shirts for bands like Snapcase while playing for rooms full of kids on their first headlining club tour. Before the show, lead singer Will Anderson tweeted, “My goal on?@jimmykimmel tonight is to always be staring into whatever camera is on. Seriously. Watch for it.” We’d say he was fairly successful.

Meanwhile, on Late Night with David Letterman, Marty Stuart cranked out “Country Boy Rock & Roll,” a barnburner of a single from Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions. Stuart is a country traditionalist, which describes not only his sound but also his look. Did you ever think you’d see hair like this on television in 2011?
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Tuned In: Gillian Welch Pulls No Punches On Conan With “That’s The Way It Goes”

Tuesday was apparently bluegrass night on the late-show circuit; two of the three new musical performances were Americana-inspired. While we were wowed by the finger-picking of Jonny Mizzone?at eight, the youngest of the three New Jersey brothers that comprise the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys?on the Late Show rendition of Earl Scruggs‘s “Flint Hill Special,” it’s no more or less charming than the YouTube performance of the same song that went viral a couple months ago.

Gillian Welch, then, was the highlight of the night, debuting “That’s the Way It Goes,” from her new album The Harrow and the Harvest, on Conan. Welch, who won two Contemporary Folk Grammys before contributing to 2002′s wildly successful O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, has gained a much wider audience in the intervening years despite no new studio recordings since 2003′s Soul Journey. (Among her fans: The Civil Wars. In a recent Posted update, Jon Paul White showed off two Gillian Welch CDs he’d purchased at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, and Joy Williams clapped approvingly.) If the rest of The Harrow and the Harvest is as strong as last night’s performance of “That’s the Way It Goes,” it will have been worth the weight.

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Tuned In: An Earnest Ke$ha Thrills Conan‘s Concert Crowd

Ke$ha and Conan are a perfect fit. For evidence, witness her off-the-wall interview last month. So it was only natural that the young pop star inaugurated Conan‘s Summer Concert Series with a three-song set (two of which made the air). After a march-to-war rendition of “Blow”, she performed the non-single title track of her debut album Animal. Ke$ha is always an extremely earnest performer, even when she’s doing cartwheels onstage (which, sadly, she didn’t on Conan). This particularly suited “Animal,” which probably would have been a single, except it couldn’t quite follow up the irreverent tone of “Tik Tok.”

The other problem with “Animal,” and the other songs Ke$ha really sings, as opposed to rapping, is that she can sometimes sound like an annoying Alanis Morissette impersonator. Last night, either she intentionally tried to avoid that, or else “Blow” left her voice just rough enough to prevent it anyway. Regardless, she sounded really great.

Also worth checking out from last night: Lloyd‘s performance of “Cupid” on Lopez Tonight. Maybe he was intentionally booked to match up to the music of Lopez’s lead-in; maybe it just happened to be a good night for music on TBS. Either way, he sounded fantastic, and his early-nineties-inflected R&B may, given 2011′s pop trends, finally get the moment it deserves.

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Tuned In: Alicia Keys Revisits Songs In A Minor With Help From Bruno Mars (And A Rick Ross Sidestep)

The 2011 BET Awards remembered the past while honoring the present last night in Los Angeles, with a full fifteen musical performances?mostly multiple-song medleys?that spanned decades and genres. We highly recommend you check out all of the performances, especially Mary J. Blige‘s mega-medley of “Mary Jane,” “Real Love,” “You Bring Me Joy,” “Rapture” (with Anita Baker) and “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over (with DJ Khaled and Jadakiss), and the Patti LaBelle tribute featuring Cee Lo (dressed as LaBelle!), Marsha Ambrosius, and Shirley Caesar.

The highlight of the night, though, was Alicia Keys‘s own four-song medley. She stood on her piano as she opened with new-old song “Typewriter,” a Songs in A Minor outtake that will be included on tomorrow’s 10th Anniversary reissue of the album. She took to the keys for single “A Woman’s Worth,” from the same album, for which she was joined by Bruno Mars on guitar and vocals. This wasn’t merely a throwback performance, though. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that?see Alexander O?Neal & Cherrelle‘s “Saturday Love”, which sounded as good as ever.) Rick Ross took the stage for a triumphant rendition of “Maybach Music 2,” with Keys providing T-Pain’s hook and Bruno Mars providing the guitar riff.

After she shouted out Rozay and Bruno Mars, Keys closed out her medley alone, with “Fallin’,” which retains its power and charm millions of radio plays and a decade later. We’re still processing the fact that these songs (except 2009′s “Maybach Music 2″) are all ten years old, and they sounded so good and fresh last night that we’re even more confused.

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Tuned In: Beady Eye Bring “The Roller” To Letterman

A good rule of thumb: anytime Liam Gallagher shows up on television, it’s worth watching, for better or for worse. (Remember when he told Carson Daly he was feeling “godlike” on TRL?) Last night’s Beady Eye performance on The Late Show with David Letterman was no exception. The band made their American television debut last night, but they’re no new-jacks?Beady Eye is Oasis minus that band’s primary songwriter (and Liam’s brother) Noel Gallagher?hence their debut album’s title, Different Gear, Still Speeding.

Anyone hoping for an Oasis cover was bound to be disappointed;?Gallagher told Matthew Perpetua at Rolling Stone that the band would not play any of his brother’s songs. The band nonetheless turned out a solid performance of their single “The Roller.”?

The band was immediately a big draw in the UK (co-headlining the Isle of Wight festival), but had to adjust to their American fanbase when they played The Metro in Chicago on Tuesday prior to their Letterman engagement. Blair R. Fischer reported for Spin that they did so just fine. Anyway, in the same February Rolling Stone interview, Gallagher remarked that New York is his favorite city, and the Late Show afforded the band the opportunity not just to appear last night, but to record an entire 45-minute Live from Letterman set. So all the pieces were in place for the band to sound as good as they could, which, ultimately, wasn’t that far off from Oasis, despite the Gallaghers’ continuing fraternal rancor. (Noel even scheduled his wedding during the same period Beady Eye would be across the Atlantic.)

Post-Britpop not for you? Letterman sweetened the pot on the Late Show by recruiting Justin Bieber to deliver the night’s Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Justin Bieber. (#4: “I begged my publicist to get me out of this.”)

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Tuned In: Pitbull and Ne-Yo Give “Everything” On Kimmel


 
When Pitbull and Ne-Yo teamed to perform their single “Give Me Everything” at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards last month, we didn’t even think it worth a mention in our roundup of the show’s highlights; the slightly out-of-breath Pitbull and a seemingly off-his-game Ne-Yo turned out a solidly mediocre performance. Their appearance last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, though, was an entirely different story.
 
Sure, the backing tracks didn’t exactly sound stellar through the booming outdoor soundsystem, but it didn’t matter, because both performers brought their best to a performance of what in the last month has climbed the charts to top out at #2 (just beneath the ever-present “Rolling In the Deep”). Sometimes, victory-lap performances like this one can be marked by indolence, but being as near the top of the charts as Adele will allow is apparently no reason for either performer to slack off. Pitbull, in particular, is all over our Song of the Summer charts, and he was similarly dominating onstage last night (so much so that Ne-Yo was not even announced beforehand as a musical guest). The Miami rapper has quietly become a chart monster over the last few years, and it’s great to see him enjoy the heck out of it.

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Tuned In: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Wow Lopez Tonight Crowd

Yesterday was surprisingly strong for late night music on a Monday. Bon Iver kicked off “StePhest Colbchella ’011: Rock You Like a Thirst-icane” on The Colbert Report and Mint Condition slayed the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon crowd as Weird Al Yankovic, sitting in with the Roots, looked on. (Panic! at the Disco weren’t bad on Kimmel either.)

The best performance of the night, though, belonged to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who burned up the Lopez Tonight stage. The whole crowd clapped along with the punchy throwback-soul number “Without a Heart,” thanks in no small part to the Dap-Kings’ sharp playing. Were Sharon Jones a James Brown-style bandleader, she wouldn’t have needed to fine any of the Dap-Kings a cent. As it is, Jones is a much less harsh figurehead than Brown ever was, though her gruff vocals hardly have less power for it (though she definitely leads the way?the band stops on a dime on the line “I could be cold as ice”). Of course, the band nods to their roots by ending the song with a mini-riff of Brown’s soul classic “I Don’t Mind.”

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