The year is running down, and like everyone else, we are bundling up our most memorable musical moments from the year into a slew of Best Of’s. Before we get to the more obvious lists — the best albums, the best songs — we thought we would have a little fun. First up: 9 delightful collaborations, made all the more so for their unexpectedness. We aren’t talking Watch The Throne-style of-course-they-would team-ups, we’re talking collaborations that we couldn’t in our wildest dreams have imagined or that we thought we would never see, like — well, these nine:
Barton Hollow is totally “an indie record much cooler than mine,” but more careful observer might have predicted this unlikely but delightful collaboration, as Swift began yammering about her fellow Nashville transplants The Civil Wars on twitter long before this was even a possibility. We, however, were left breathless upon learning that one of the day’s biggest pop stars had teamed-up with one of our favorite You Oughta Know acts — and for a song for such a pivotal moment in the Hunger Games movie, no less! Joy Williams harmonizing turns Taylor’s girlish coo haunting, and John Paul White‘s patient guitar plucking gets the whole thing swirling. See also:“The Last Time,” Taylor’s distressed duet with Gary Lightbody of Northern Ireland’s mostly absent as of late folk rock set Snow Patrol. Taylor is a slick machine when it comes to her music, and it was a surprise to see her reaching out of bounds for this one.
Hard to believe as it may be given the boom box beats and all the sing-rapping that resulted, Warrior is allegedly a tribute to the genre Ke$ha loves the most: rock and roll. If you really strain your ears, you may hear some of that “old hippie rock” in the breakdown of “Die Young.” You won’t have to try so hard with “Dirty Pop,” which features Iggy Pop, a true and blue rock star and someone Ke$ha has spent a lot of time talking about through the years. The joy she must have felt the first time she heard him call her “Wild Child” on her own song is evident. See also:“2012,” K$’s duet with fellow weirdos The Flaming Lips.
Taylor Swift is up against herself for Friday Music Video Face-Off this week. I mean, she broke a 10-year-old sales record for fastest selling album with Red (1.21 milli, y’all!). It just wouldn’t be fair otherwise. Besides, we’ve watched T-Swift’s songs mature from a 16-year-old pining over Romeo to penning platinum-selling hits about her real-life breakups (as if dating John Mayer and Jake Gyllenhaal in the same calendar year is reality). The woman clearly has a lot of material to contrast. So, which Taylor do you favor: country siren Swift of “Picture To Burn“ or pop tart Taylor from “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?” Vote in our poll today then catch VH1 Storytellers: Taylor Swift premiering Sunday, Nov. 11 at 11 p.m.
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” - When Taylor Swift is over you, she really, really means it. Screw burning pictures. The woman puts some poor sap on blast by re-enacting his late night booty calls for the world to watch and replay in this video! Read More & Vote: Classic Taylor or Dubstepping T-Swift?
One of examples of Frank Ocean‘s superb songwriting/storytelling skills is his imagination. Pyramids are usually automatically associated with Egypt by default, but Frank being anything but ordinary turned “Pyramids” into the place where strippers dwell. A day after kicking off Saturday Night Live‘s 15th season with a live performance accompanied by John Mayer, the visual to his wildly popular “Pyramids” hit the ‘net. And as expected, alas, there are strippers. Directed by Nabil, the eight minute video owes its aesthetic appeal to the numerous special effects. The bending lamp posts, the multiple Frank Oceans, the blinking fluorescent lights, they are all somewhat mesmerizing. John Mayer’s guitar performance in the middle of the desert is easily one of the highlights. Although the strippers are the focal point of the song, they serve as merely a backdrop in the video, despite their obvious presence. Now that we’ve seen the women “working at the pyramids tonight” the mystique is gone, for now. Until the next time you watch the video. Have a look at some of the awesome gifs from the video. Read more…
Frank Ocean kicked off Saturday Night Live‘s 15th season with two stellar showings. As predicted, he performed a stripped down and extra-soulful “Thinkin Bout You” and then the second half of his stripper anthem “Pyramids,” his “bro” John Mayer accompanying on the guitar for both and a full vintage arcade set up behind him. Ocean still seems a little timid when he performs, and sort of like he did in that oddly straight-faced promo, he fidgeted nervously through the first verse of “Thinkin Bout You.” He’s good, though, and so as soon as he loosened up he was able to turn song’s difficult high notes sweet.
Already warmed up, he showed off a little more swag during “Pyramids,” showing some teeth and pulling a few dance moves. And when Mayer went in on his loopy solo (extra guitar face so you know it’s real), Ocean made use of the time to fiddle with some of those vintage arcade games before giving the crowd one last smile and calling it a night.
Watch “Thinkin Bout You” above, and “Pyramids” and the video game playing below.
Ocean tweeted the good news this morning, writing “SNL this weekend. Me and the bro John Mayer.” And though nothing has been officially confirmed, he’s got the internet alight with possibilities. Maybe Ocean and his “bro” will do something with “White,” that smooth grooving Channel Orange interlude. Perhaps more likely, the two will perform Ocean’s 10-minute ode to strippers, “Pyramids,” which ends with an uncredited Mayer guitar solo. Otherwise, Mayer could probably do some good to “Thinking About You,” which Ocean played acoustic at VMAs; or maybe he could bring his maybe-girlfriend Katy Perry along for the “Sweet Life”/”California Gurls” medley that we just realized we need. Because — not sugar-free — mango, peaches and whipped cream bras, wouldn’t that be something?
The ink on her divorce papers has only just dried, and rumors of a relationship with Florence + The Machine guitarist Robert Ackroyd have already come and gone. And now, word is it that Katy Perry has taken-up with John Mayer. According to reports, the two were all handhold-y at the Soho House on July 19th, just three days after Perry’s split from Russell Brand was made official. It could all be nothing, or just an experiment in what could have been, but — with apologies to Mayer, and if we’re not too terrible to say — we sort of hope that there is something to these rumors. Read more…
Florence Welch is going to need a generous dosage of green tea to go with her two festival date cancellations. Florence and the Machine will no longer be performing in Benicassim in Spain on July 12th and Optimus Alive in Portugal on July 14th because Flo has “sustained a vocal injury” according to her personal twitter. She said of her famously eerie voice that she ”felt something snap, it was very frightening..” She later tweeted thanking her fans for their love and support.
We’ve seen what can happen when artists don’t take care of their most prized possession — their vocal cords. We’ve watch Adele fall victim to this again and again, having to cancel tours left and right, although it hasn’t exactly stunted her climb to the top of the charts. John Mayerhad to cancel appearances as well and wasn’t able to promote his May 22 release, Born and Raised.
All we’re saying is take all the time you need, Flo, and rest up your perfect pipes! Everyone here at VH1 is wishing you a speedy recovery.
Michael Kiwanuka swung by the Late Show with David Letterman last night to share with the late night audience the indelible talent that we were so lucky to have experienced live last week. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a soft-playing backing band, the British singer performed the doleful “I’m Getting Ready.” With a voice soft and soulful beyond its 24-years, watching this made us wish that Kiwanuka would sing us to sleep everynight.
And we suspect we are not alone in that longing. For one, John Mayer – surely a man in the singing song/writing business worth wooing – was impressed. Or, rather, he was “dumbfounded.” “What a voice. What a song. What a vibe. What a soul. What a message,” he wrote breathlessly (or as breathlessly as one can write) on his Tumblr, thusly deeming Kiwanuka “a revelation.” Who are we to disagree?
We’re still bummed that John Mayer was forced to put his plans to tour in support of his upcoming album Born And Raised on hold while he recovers from a pesky throat condition, but we’re glad to see that he hasn’t gone fully dormant. On his Tumblr site last night, he debuted an instrumental cover of Lana Del Rey‘s “Video Games.” As if that song weren’t already haunting enough as is, there’s an otherworldly echo that runs throughout Mayer’s dubbed, guitar-only version of the song. It’s got almost an old-timey western feel to it, like something you’d hear in a saloon while drinking a beer and listening for someone to whistle your name. It’s sort of the perfect way to start de-stressing in the last few minutes before the siren blows on this Friday afternoon, signaling the close of another work week. In other words, this is our idea of fun.