The dog days of summer are upon us, people. It’s August, it’s hot outside, and the news cycle is starting to slow to a crawl. The general sluggishness of the season is even affecting the music industry, as music fans don’t seem to be gravitating towards any new material. Instead, they seem to be content to play the same songs that they’ve had on repeat all summer long.
Case in point: Katy Perry‘s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” which has exhibited a stranglehold on the top of our Song of the Summer Countdown for six consecutive weeks. Her song looks to have a lock on the prize at this point, but then again, maybe The Throne (aka Jay-Z and Kanye West) can mount a last-minute challenge when their highly anticipated collaboration Watch The Throne drops next week? Stay tuned!
When Michael Jackson tragically and unexpectedly passed away two summers ago after an overdose of Propofol (which may or may not have been administered by Dr. Conrad Murray), the primary coping mechanism that people utilized while dealing with their grief was rekindling their love of his extensive musical legacy. People who hadn’t visited record stores in years flocked to purchase his back catalog, radio stations worldwide spun his songs for months on end and, as a result, Michael Jackson became a bigger star in death than he had been during the last 15 years of his life.
Well, in terms of her cultural relevance, it’s safe to say that Amy Winehouse was no Michael Jackson. However, her untimely (if somewhat expected) death this weekend at the age of 27 has done a lot to rekindle people’s interest in her musical output, which consists of two studio albums (2003′s Frank and 2006′s Back To Black) and a handful of B-sides. Not surprisingly, she currently occupies three of the top six spots on the iTunes album charts (see below), and “Rehab” —sadly, the song that will now forever define her career— has sold enough and been spun enough in the past three days to land it at #15 on this week’s Song Of The Summer Countdown.
As for the rest of the chart, there’s not much to say this week. The top seven spots in this week’s countdown are identical to the top seven songs from last week’s countdown; Katy Perry is still holding court at the top of the charts, and Adele is still nipping at her heels, closely trailed by Pitbull, LMFAO and Lady Gaga.
Ever since news broke that Amy Winehouse had been found dead at 27, the outpouring of grief (including dozens of comments on our announcement) has been a stark reminder of how much, and to how many people, Winehouse continued to matter as an artist. Fans have left tribute comments not only on Winehouse’s own videos on YouTube, but also barely-related ones like Britney Spears’s “If You Seek Amy,” just because they’re looking for any outlet to grieve. As we noted earlier, a range of performers voiced tribute on Twitter, but for some, 140 characters wasn’t enough.
Big Boishared a previously unreleased Dungeon Family remix of her song “Tears Dry On Their Own”:
Several performers blogged touching tributes. Adele‘s “Amy Flies in Paradise xx”, praised the way in which both her sheer talent and her unwillingness to compromise led to a minor sea change in British pop: “Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again whilst being fearlessly hilarious and blas? about the whole thing. I don?t think she ever realised just how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her even more charming.”
And although the autopsy has just begun today, and toxicology reports will take weeks, the popular consensus is that Winehouse’s death was caused, directly or indirectly, by her struggles with addiction. Dr. Drewtweeted, “SO sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible, but sadly not for Amy Winehouse.” But perhaps the most touching tribute on this subject comes from Russell Brand, a fellow performer who famously struggled with issues of addiction. His post For Amy, about the inevitability of one of two types of “the phone call,” is a must-read. We recommend you click through to it, but the multitude of hits has swamped his site, so just in case you can’t get through, we’ve reposted his tribute in its entirety below.
“Rehab” singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment today. The cause has not yet been determined. For those who have followed her longstanding battle with depression, eating disorders and substance abuse (a constant source of fodder for tabloids), this sad news may not come as a huge surprise. In August of 2007, Amy came close to death after overdosing on a cocktail of heroin, ecstasy and cocaine – and later that year was found wondering barefoot outside in nothing but a bra and jeans. These incidents were preceded by Amy’s marriage in May of 2007 to Blake Fielder-Civil, who was quoted by a British tabloid as saying he introduced Amy to heroin and crack cocaine. Earlier that same year, Amy performed for VH1 Unplugged. Blake and Amy divorced in 2009.
The singer dominated the 2008 Grammys with five awards for Back to Black, her sophomore album, winning in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Known for her singular voice and unorthodox retro look (tattoos, extreme cat-eye makeup and beehive hairdo), Amy is said to have paved the way for artists who wouldn’t previously have fit into the mainstream. Lady Gaga, for one, famously told AOL: “Because of Amy, very strange girls like me go to prom with very good-looking guys. She’s a different kind of woman. I don’t believe that what I do is very digestible, and somehow Amy was the flu for pop music.” Regardless of whether this is true, Winehouse certainly seemed to pave the way for fellow British songbirds Adele and Duffy, both of whom share Amy’s ’60s soul vibe.
In June, YouTube videos surfaced of an intoxicated and discombobulated-looking Winehouse forgetting her own lyrics and getting booed off stage in the first stop of a European tour, which subsequently had to be canceled. Amy was reportedly working on a third album. She joins a long list of musicians who have died at 27. A phenomenon known as The 27 Club, Brian Jones, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain are among those who died at the same age. Let her legend begin.
Despite selling more than a million copies during its first week of release, Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way is being whispered about in many industry circles as both a creative and commercial disappointment. Some have even bandied around the theory that the record is suffering because the videos for the Born This Way singles thus far (“Born This Way,” “Judas” and “The Edge Of Glory”) haven’t scaled the same heights as her previous videos, like 2010′s Video Music Award winner for Video Of The year “Bad Romance.” And if the nominations for the 2011 VMAs are any indication, this theory may not be far off.
Four other artists (Katy Perry, Adele, Kanye West, and Bruno Mars) racked up more VMA nominations this year than the Mother Monster. Katy led the way with nine total nominations (including Video Of The Year and Best Female Video), followed by Adele with seven, Kanye with six and Bruno with four.
Gaga, too, must be feeling the pressure; how else to explain the recent media blitz of the last few days? As the summer progresses, no doubt more theories will emerge as to why Gaga didn’t (an idea that our own Nick Minichino touched on recently in his essay, “Ten Years Of The Strokes And The White Stripes, And The Question Of What’s Next”). But for now, we’ll leave the Gaga analysis alone, and instead share with you the complete list of nominations for the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, which will air live on Sunday, August 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
Tyler the Creator – “Yonkers”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
The Mercury Prize announced its twelve-album shortlist of the best British and Irish albums released between July 2010 and July 2011 earlier today, and Adele and PJ Harvey are the leading nominees?at least according to British bookies, who gave 4-to-1 odds for each of the two artists. Both have been nominated for a Mercury Prize before: Adele in 2008 for 19 and PJ Harvey three times, of which she won once, in 2001, for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Other nominees that have gotten some traction with United States artists include British rapper Tinie Tempah and Jamie Lidell-via-dubstep soulster James Blake, who played at this weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
The closed-door judging process for the Mercury Prize, founded to be a “Booker Prize for music,” is best explained in a 2003 Guardian piece. The shortlist ranges from the obscure and localized (localised?), like King Creosote & Jon Hopkins‘s Diamond Mine, to, well, Adele. The nominees also span ages, from neophyte rock bands like Everything Everything to UK mainstays like Elbow. And despite some of the left-field nominees, the prize’s short history has British favorites of ours like Suede and Pulp, so we’re curious who will walk away with the prize in September.
At the moment, everyone who isn’t named either Adele or Katy Perry is currently playing for third place, but that’s a tight race, too. Pitbull and LMFAO each continue to hold strong with their club-friendly megahits, while Lady Gaga‘s “The Edge Of Glory” makes its highest appearance on the charts so far this summer, despite its video being widely panned as being too underwhelming and not up to snuff with the rest of Gaga’s video canon. It’s also worth noting that OneRepublic‘s “Good Life” would also find itself in the running for the top prize, if not for a total lack of traction on YouTube and LastFM.
One last note: Rebecca Black‘s follow-up to “Friday”—a song which might just be the most popular (and hated) song of 2011 so far—is scheduled to be released at 8 p.m. this evening. We should know in less than 24 hours time whether this song has got what it takes to make a late summer run at #1.
As we parallel park into July and officially hit the curb of this year’s halfway point, it’s time to take a quick look back at what the past six months have taught us. Not conventional life lessons, however; we’re talking about stuff that’s a little bit less intense and also involves YOU! That’s right, in the first installment of our Top 100 Videos of 2011… So Far, we’re spilling the beans on the #100-51 most clicked-and-viewed videos on VH1.com. You’ll see that this pi?ata-like list of content contains tasty treats and slippery surprises alike! We’ve got brand-new videos that just recently launched, some VH1 Classic leaning clips (hey there, Megadeth), repeat offenders, and of course, effervescent, essential vids from the music video cannon. So take a look at the first fifty videos below and don’t forget to come back later this week as we continue on our quest to discover what artist snags the #1 spot!
You know the moment when, near the end of horror movies, the seemingly-dead killer pops back to life, only to be shot/stabbed/poked-in-the-eye-with-a-wire-clothes-hanger by the protagonist? Well, if the Song of the Summer Countdown were a horror movie –this analogy is admittedly a stretch, but just follow us here for a sec– and Katy Perry were the doe-eyed Final Girl, then Adele would have to be the villain of our race.
Last week, after being unseated the week prior by “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),”“Rolling In The Deep” came back from the grave to make one final (?) run at the #1 position. However, on this week’s just-updated Song of the Summer countdown, Katy Perry once again asserted her dominance as the Queen of the Summer Songs to claim the top spot back from the British songbird. However, the race is nowhere near over yet.
Pitbull and Ne-Yo’s ode to joys of pre-apocalyptic nookie, “Give Me Everything,” continues to climb its way up the charts; its third-place position this week marks the song’s best performance on the charts to date. LMFAO‘s “Party Rock Anthem” is currently sitting atop the Billboard and iTunes charts, and OneRepublic‘s “Good Life” burst into the Top 10 in its first week on this chart, no doubt propelled by Ryan Tedder’s recent appearances on NBC/Universal linear properties, The Voice, Platinum Hit and the Today Show (corporate synergy at its finest!). It’s entirely possible that the zeitgeist could blow in the direction of any of these songs and put some serious wind behind their sails (and sales), but at this point, it sure seems like Katy is once again the girl to beat!