“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!
In other chart insights, the summer of Pitbull continues to roll along nicely. “Give Me Everything,” which features Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer, just hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which factors both sales and radio airplay in its formula. The song seems unescapable at the moment; Pitbull and Ne-Yo performed it both on the Today Show and The Voice last week alone, continuing to give it some much needed momentum as we begin to approach the dog days. But as huge as this song is in its current incarnation, we can’t help but wonder how big it would’ve gotten if Shakira had sang the hook (as she was originally supposed to)?
One other interesting factoid for you S.O.T.S. watchers out there. If you check out the Top 100 songs on Metrolyrics, a site that is solely dedicated to helping readers find out what some of their favorite vocalists are actually singing, their current number one is “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj (which seems to be making a nice run of its own right now). If we were to take a guess as to why this song is popping over the rest, we would have to say that the speed at which Nicki raps probably confuses a lot of her listeners, so getting a helping hand with the lyrics really comes in handy when, like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, someone asks you to start spontaneously rapping!
For the first time since we started counting down this year’s Song Of The Summer, someone other than Adele is sitting in the proverbial cat bird’s seat. Weirdly enough, though, “Rolling In The Deep” has been usurped by another song that audiences first heard back in 2010.
While we’re plenty excited that Katy Perry‘s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” knocked Adele out of the top spot, we can’t help but lament the fact that Katy Perry is still ruling the airwaves with songs from her Teenage Dream album. If you’ll recall, that record came out way back on August 24, 2010, but last year’s Song Of The Summer, “California Gurls,” was released even further back (May 11, 2010, to be exact). And if you flip the calendar back to the summer of 2008, Perry’s first smash single, “I Kissed A Girl,” was that summer’s biggest party jam.
So, folks, you tell us: What exactly is it about the summertime that makes you want to listen to Katy Perry? Why does her particular blend of breezy pop music make you want to roll your windows down and turn the singles from Teenage Dream up? Let us know in the comments, and check back here next week to see if Katy can fend off the likes of Britney Spears, Pitbull and Lady Gaga to keep the top spot in VH1′s Song Of The Summer countdown!
Adele has quickly rescheduled the tour dates she was forced to cancel earlier this month due to laryngitis, and even given the tour an upgrade: her engagements are now split between August and October, and include a number of new dates and bigger venues (in which cases more tickets will be going on sale shortly). All tickets for most of the dates will be honored; the exceptions are listed below.
The British soulstress got some ink in this week’s New Yorker, too?but just barely; the magazine’s pop critic Sasha Frere-Jones opens a piece titled “The Women of Pop” with the following:
Three women run the pop world right now. Lady Gaga?s Born This Way, Beyonc??s 4, and Adele?s 21 split the market into neat thirds without too much conceptual jostling. Adele?s impeccably sung collection of unperturbing soul, 21, released in February, will almost certainly be the year?s biggest-selling album. Her career is likely to be long, because she is selling to the demographic that decides American elections: middle-aged moms who don?t know how to pirate music and will drive to Starbucks when they need to buy it. The rest of the population has Gaga and Beyonc?.
The rest of the piece mentions Adele only once, as a comparison point against which Frere-Jones measures Lady Gaga’s album sales. (Nevermind that 4 hasn’t even been released, so it has no sales figures to speak of.) How insultingly dismissive to Adele fans! We’ve made no bones about our Adele appreciation here, ever since we dubbed her a You Oughta Know artist back in April 2008. And don’t tell our bosses, but we know full well how to pirate music. That’s not what gets under our skin, though. What, exactly, does being a mom have to do with it?