Why has rapper M.I.A. been slapped with a restraining order? Who is Ke$ha standing up for and what she is standing up against? The answers to these questions plus the return of Paramore in today’s “While You Were Sleeping”.
The year is running down, and like everyone else, we are bundling up our most memorable musical moments from the year into a slew of Best Of’s. Before we get to the more obvious lists — the best albums, the best songs — we thought we would have a little fun. First up: 9 delightful collaborations, made all the more so for their unexpectedness. We aren’t talking Watch The Throne-style of-course-they-would team-ups, we’re talking collaborations that we couldn’t in our wildest dreams have imagined or that we thought we would never see, like — well, these nine:
Barton Hollow is totally “an indie record much cooler than mine,” but more careful observer might have predicted this unlikely but delightful collaboration, as Swift began yammering about her fellow Nashville transplants The Civil Wars on twitter long before this was even a possibility. We, however, were left breathless upon learning that one of the day’s biggest pop stars had teamed-up with one of our favorite You Oughta Know acts — and for a song for such a pivotal moment in the Hunger Games movie, no less! Joy Williams harmonizing turns Taylor’s girlish coo haunting, and John Paul White‘s patient guitar plucking gets the whole thing swirling. See also: “The Last Time,” Taylor’s distressed duet with Gary Lightbody of Northern Ireland’s mostly absent as of late folk rock set Snow Patrol. Taylor is a slick machine when it comes to her music, and it was a surprise to see her reaching out of bounds for this one.
Hard to believe as it may be given the boom box beats and all the sing-rapping that resulted, Warrior is allegedly a tribute to the genre Ke$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.
We’re usually all about anti-harassment on social media–even when you loathe the celebrity. But this may be the one time haranguing an artist turned out good, without incident. M.I.A.‘s “Bad Girls” feels like it happened eons ago and her fans felt some type of way about the lack of new music. It probably went down something like this: ‘No new music from M.I.A.? Fine. We’ll just bug her via Twitter until she’s forced to respond.’ Not a bad tactic after all, considering it worked. Read more…
When other high schoolers were sneaking on the phone at the wee hours of the morning to talk to their crush, Rye Rye was touring with M.I.A. After DJ Blaqstarr discovered the young rapper at the age of 15, they collaborated on “Shake It To The Ground,” a youthful dance track that caught the attention of M.I.A. only months later. Now, 21, the Baltimore, MD rapper has released her debut album Go! Pop! Bang! that was four years in the making. To appreciate Rye Rye’s music one must understand the oftentimes disparate state of her hometown. Then one must consider the city’s definitive musical sound unique to that place and its natives. The arts was a way for the young funky teen to express herself outside of the confines of the housing projects she grew up in. As much as Rye Rye is a rapper, she’s a dancer. And the latter inspires the sound of Go! Pop! Bang! more than the expected hardened environment she grew up in.
Her first single, “Boom Boom” (video below), is a perfect indication of what to expect from the album. It’s about partying, boys and having a bloody good time. The whole point is not to take herself too seriously. Over the video game beat, Rye Rye raps in her semi-fast, edgy tone about wanting a guy in her room. Tracks like “DNA” featuring Porcelain Black, “New Thing,” “Dance” and “Hardcore Girls” are where her Baltimore club influence is most dominant — a mix of house, D.C. go-go and techno-electro. On “Crazy Bitch,” she teamed up with Akon in a more concept driven track where the beat is slightly slower than the usual uptempo beat. With the help of Akon she pokes fun at being considered the “crazy bitch” in the relationship. “Sunshine” and “Bang” both feature M.I.A. and have the bombastic drum beat M.I.A. tends to love on her own tracks. Both records offer that distinctive voice that only an M.I.A. feature can add. Her rhymes in “Bang” slow the listener down from the natural inclination to dance to actually listen to her rhymes. “Never Will Be Mine” featuring Robyn is one of the slower tracks on the record but still manages to keep the light fun mood of the rest of the album. Read more…
When she’s not riding on the side of flipped cars, M.I.A. is focused on creating artwork– the same artwork she designed for Beck’s beer bottles. Spin.com caught up with M.I.A. to chat about her new art endeavors and where she’s at with her highly anticipated fourth album. Since she flipped the bird in this year’s Super Bowl (where she performed with Madonna and Nicki Minaj), M.I.A. has been fairly lowkey. Before that she dropped an impromptu video for “Bad Girls,” but hasn’t followed up with another single from her forthcoming album Matangi. Until she satisfies our curiosity we’re happy to watch “Bad Girls” on repeat. Read more…
After we whet your appetite yesterday with special sneak clips of “Kingdom Come” and “Sour Times,” the full episode of VH1 Unplugged: The Civil Wars is now available for you to watch online! (You can do so by clicking play above.)
The Civil Wars made history with their Unplugged show, as singer Joy Williams became the first artist in the 22-year history of the program to perform while pregnant. Of course, this reminded us of when M.I.A. sang on The Grammys back in 2009 while she was 9 months pregnant. So, naturally, we asked Joy (who is due in June) about it.
“Dude! M.I.A. on the Grammys was so amazing with that bullseye awesomeness and spandex!,” she explained (video below). “Well, I was going to wear that, but she totally bogarted the awesome spandex idea.”
“So I’m going to,” John Paul White jumped in. “A strategic bullseye.”
Well, dear readers, we can all be thankful that didn’t happen.
Madonna redefined the word ‘spectacular’ with her Super Bowl half time show over the weekend. In what we’re sure cost the debt of several small third world countries, Madonna’s show was a no-holds-barred exercise in precision choreography and aesthetic decadence. Ushered in on the shoulders of an army of Roman Empire soldiers on a giant, regal float complete with gold throne, Madonna vogued to open the set, and what better song to vogue to than “Vogue”? After the perfectly synchronized, slow pace of Madonna’s voguing, the veteran broke seamlessly into “Music,” showing off some serious athletic agility and surely making America forget that she’s a woman in her 50s.
“Music” got a cool mash-up from guests LMFAO, who mixed the classic Madonna track with their hit “Party Rock Anthem.” The LMFAO boys shared a fun synchronized shuffle and some awkward slap-stick visual narrative with Madonna for the remix, ripping off her gladiator style skirt to reveal a simple black dress just in time for her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin.’” Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. joined Madge on stage for a gold pom pom filled dance extravaganza which wasn’t entirely without controversy (and what would a Madonna show be without controversy?), courtesy of M.I.A. and an inconspicuous enough little bird (more on that later).
Kelly Clarkson is all set to get patriotic for the Super Bowl on February 5th. While it hasn’t been officially announced, a source has confirmed that the “Mr. Know It All” singer will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and we can’t think of anyone better than the vibrant Kelly to sing the National Anthem. Joining Kelly in the festivities is Madonna, whose much anticipated half time show will include guest appearances from M.I.A and Nicki Minaj. Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton will also perform a duet version of “America The Beautiful,” so really, what is there not to be excited about? Sports and stars — bring it on!
Kelly Clarkson to Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVI [Rolling Stone]
[Photo: Getty Images]
Moby‘s comments last week about what types of pop are and aren’t music isn’t the first time he’s taken shots at other artists. At the 2001 Grammy Awards he called Eminem ”a racist, a homophobe, and a misogynist.” But he’s not the only artist who’s feuded over art (and, implicitly, integrity). Here are the five most notable feuds of the last 20 years.
FEUD: Nirvana vs. Guns N’ Roses
HOW IT STARTED: Nirvana never liked the lyrical misogyny and homophobia of Guns N’ Roses, but the feud officially got underway when Nirvana turned down an offer to open for the band on tour.
KEY NIRVANA PULLQUOTE: Kurt Cobain, interviewed by Kevin Allman in the February 1992 issue of The Advocate:
I can’t even waste my time on that band, because they’re so obviously pathetic and untalented. I used to think that everything in the mainstream pop world was crap, but now that some underground bands have been signed with majors, I take Guns N’ Roses as more of an offense. I have to look into it more: They’re really talentless people, and they write crap music, and they’re the most popular rock band on the earth right now. I can’t believe it.
KEY GUNS ‘N’ ROSES PULLQUOTE: Axl Rose, on stage in Seattle: “Nirvana would rather stay home and shoot drugs with their bitch wives than tour with us.”
WINNER: At the time, Nirvana by a mile, but as time has gone on and Cobain-as-icon has lost some of its political edge, it’s now closer to a draw.
The kindly folk at the Fader point to an online leak from hipster icon M.I.A.‘s new record. The track, called "Hit That," is probably the rudest, sexiest, dirtiest thing recorded in a long while — it’s too bad the slang sort of prevents those not used to a thick British accent from understanding what it is she’s saying. (You’ll get a chance to mull it over better when her record’s released on June 25th.) Note the clever thievery of "all I wanna do is zoom-a zoom zoom." If ever there were a lyric to steal, that, ladies and gentlemen, is the one.