The 2013 CMT Music Awards took place last night, and country songbirds, southern belles and guitar slingers all showed up to strut along the red (well, purple) carpet. While some in attendance went gloriously glam, a few stars donned some duds that definitely rubbed us the wrong way.
Sheryl Crow has always had an easygoing, Southern way about her, so her recent foray into country music definitely feels like a natural progression for her as an artist (as opposed to a calculated, careerist maneuver). In fact, her 2002 duet with Kid Rock, “Picture,” was nominated for Vocal Event of the Year at the 2003 Country Music Awards, so she’s by no means a stranger in Nashville circles. Her debut country single, “Easy” —the video of which we’re excited to premiere tonight!— has a laidback feel to it, with its references to skipping a planned vacation in Mexico in favor of an adventure in her own backyard.
If you guessed any of the above, sadly, you would be wrong. Despite his image as a hard drinking, hard partying rap star turned rock ‘n’ roller, Kid Rock’s most successful single to date is his lovelorn duet with Sheryl Crow, “Picture.” The song, which was initially released to radio stations in late 2002 with vocals from Alison Moorer — legend has it that Sheryl Crow’s management was not thrilled that she decided to record a track with the man born Robert James Ritchie until the Moorer version started climbing the charts — was a huge crossover smash, charting at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and logging 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, before becoming a staple of karaoke bars across the country.
Immediately following a weekend in which most of you (we hope!) spent time outside celebrating America’s birthday with family and friends, we’re excited to bring you a :30 sneak peek at Sheryl Crow‘s latest video, a video which sees her, her bandmates and even her son, Wyatt, enjoying the simple pleasures of the great outdoors. The song, “Summer Day,” is the catchy and altogether summery-feeling first single from her seventh studio album, 100 Miles From Memphis. As Crow herself explains over at her official website, “I wanted to experiment with writing something simple and positive, the feeling of a great, solid love?not just a new love, but something everlasting.” We’ll have the full video for you to check out online on Thursday and, no doubt, you’re sure to see this song rising in our Top 20 Video Countdown just as fast as the mercury is rising in thermometers across the country this week.
Stevie Wonder sure can class up a joint. As the only man allowed on the VH1 Divas stage last night, Wonder complemented the gorgeous Jennifer Hudson during their duet of “All In Love Is Fair.” This is one of our favorite duets of the night and cemented Hudson’s status as a diva and a legend in the making — not everyone can hold their own with Stevie and she proved herself more than capable. The soulful song played out in stark contrast to some of the other duets, like the Sheryl Crow-Miley Cyrus performance. We think it was the benchmark for elegance last night.
Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year’s releases, and each Thursday for the three weeks we’ll deliver to you five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.
There?s only so many times you can listen to the umpteenth Eddie Vedder- or Chris Cornell-style crooner before vowing to shred your flannel. That, as it turns out, might be hasty: For every 3,000th 3 Doors Down, there?s at least one Dax Riggs, a manly man?s musician who?s got a throat as crusty and damaged as the BQE and miles of bad road behind him. (At one performance earlier this year in New York, Riggs, shirtless and sweating and wearing guy-liner, but not in the Ashlee-Simpson-is-my-lady way, limited his banter to the following: ?Magic is real.? That night, it was true.) Composed of short, filthy little songs, his low-octave growl and piercing shrieks make for cathartic relief from the radio. Songs like ?Demon Tied to a Chair in my Brain,? ?Dog-Headed Whore? and the utterly brilliant ?Didn?t Know Yet What I Would Know When I Was Bleedin?? — as fine a use for the future-perfect as any — evoke the presence of a real artist, someone who absolutely will not stop until he?s been exorcised completely. Fans of southern rock, take note. Please.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike Ryan Adams. He?s the voice-mail-leaving, journalist-harassing, actress-dating enfant terrible of the alt-country world, a musician whose profound self-seriousness is rivaled only by his market-flooding output (three albums in 2006). But a funny thing happened with Easy Tiger: Adams got on the quality-control (and off the heroin and cocaine speedballs), took his own advice (referenced in his album title) and returned to his Heartbreaker roots, arguably what he does best. In abandoning his forays into AM radio with Gold and rock with Rock N Roll — hollow exercises — Adams has returned to emotionally wrought alt-rock, evidenced by the cracks in his voice and his display of his vulnerable upper registers. On ?The Sun Also Sets? Adams wavers between moan and growl, a sob caught in his throat as he outlines how easily relationships fall into disrepair. The sunny ?Two Hearts? belies the impending disappointment of a budding relationship, and Adams can?t resist a nod at irony when he summons a guitar solo by speaking its name on the inscrutable arena-rocker ?Halloween Head.? Hell, we even forgive him the Sheryl Crow duet on ?Two.? We?re just glad to have him back.
Abbey Lincoln, Abbey Sings Abbey (VERVE)
The earthy jazz singer turned plenty of heads when she ditched her usual piano-bass-drums outfit and took up with Bob Dylan?s guitarist, Larry Campbell. But one person?s heresy is another?s revitalization, and the philosophical tunes that Lincoln?s known for not only fit right into the bluesy riffs and twangy peals, they resounded anew. Whether she?s singing about the way the world is falling down or questioning the wisdom of God?s judiciousness, she lets her 77-year-old rasp expose a song?s sentiment and sensuality. The way it slides between this melancholy program?s accordions and dobros is a joy.
When biography threatens to eclipse an artist?s work, the results are invariably poor. Between Jack White?s super-model marriage, Meg White?s incipient breakdown, major major-label expectations and the collective begging of indie U.S.A. desperate for something important, it?s little wonder that 2007 was the year that the White Stripes began to implode. That said, the candy-colored Detroit duo?s sixth studio album was a thoroughly engrossing affair, an ADD-suffering collection of songs that ran the gamut from the ridiculous (?Conquest?) to the sublime (?300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues?) to the classic (?You Don?t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You?re Told)).? There?s no denying that the album?s overall vision feels muddy, but then, that doesn?t seem to be the point: Rather, Jack and Meg are trying their best to put a smile on your face, and at that, this entry into their catalog is entirely successful. Yes, the spoken-word bit in ?Rag and Bone? becomes tiresome, and the bagpipes elsewhere are grating, but the exuberance with which the two approach their work is infectious, and the courageous way they build their material (and, in the case of Jack, their facial hair) is an inspiration. Anyone who claimed that Get Behind Me Satan would be remembered as their ?weird? record ought to polish their crystal ball.
Volta isn’t Bj?rk‘s most-forward thinking achievement, and that’s exactly why it’s such a breath of fresh air. The future, it would seem, has caught up with the reliably sci-fi Icelandic songstress, and so on Volta, she splashes in the streams of her memory. References dating back to her Sugarcubes day litter Volta‘s brass-and-beats framework, and, somewhat paradoxically, the result is Bj?rk’s most cohesive album since her 1997 masterpiece, Homogenic. Volta reaches a gorgeous peak with “The Dull Flame of Desire,” a duet with Antony and the Johnsons‘ Antony Hegarty that smolders and finally ignites thanks to Brian Chippendale’s pummeling drums. Future, past, present? Who cares when you have music that’s this transcendent?
Nicole: Tests Confirm Baby Bump?
There’s no slowing the pregnancy rumors surrounding The Simple Life star, as a source reveals that blood tests show that there’s a blooming bun in her teeny tiny oven.
New Mom Alert: Aniston?s Adopting!
Jen’s started the adoption ball rolling and is hoping for a baby boy, just like new mom pal Sheryl Crow. Watch out, Shiloh! There could be a new kid in town.
Agents Kick Paris to the Curb
After her most recent legal fiasco, the Endeavor Agency has dumped the high maintenance star. According to an insider, Hilton’s endless drama "just wasn’t worth it."
?All I Wanna Do? songstress Sheryl Crow has recommended saving the environment by conserving toilet paper. Writing on her blog, the sunny SoCal girl says, ?I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit,? except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required.? She also says ?paper napkins . . . represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what’s called a ?dining sleeve.? The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another ?dining sleeve,? after usage.? Her third idea? A reality show where contestants compete to see who can lead the greenest life. She?s willing to put her body where her mouth is, too. At last night?s White House Correspondent?s dinner, Crow had words with rapping administration star Karl Rove about global warming. By most accounts, Rove was dismissive. The evening finished very uncomfortably when Crow reached out to touch Rove?s arm as he was making his way back to his table. He said, “Don’t touch me.” To which Crow responded, “You can’t speak to us like that, you work for us.” Rove offered this as a rejoinder: “I don’t work for you. I work for the American people.” All that makes us wonder . . . what are you doing to stop global warming?
Sheryl Crow lashed out at Fox’s American Idol, telling the April issue of Ladies Home Journal that she’s “sad [the American public] love it so much.” Crow, who was the first celebrity spokeswoman for Dell Computers and whose songs have been widely used in car and beauty product commercials, goes on to say “it undermines art in every way and promotes commercialism.” It seems a safe bet that Sheryl won’t be a guest judge anytime soon. And neither will Amy Lee. She thinks it’s “surreal” to see someone else sing one one her tunes, though she did say that Gina Glocksen’s recent romp through Evanescence’s “Sober” wasn’t too bad.
What songs do you think the final ten should perform?