Wop bopa-a-lu a whop bam boom. Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy. Sha na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na naaaaaaa. Yes, rock ‘n’ roll has had more than its fair share of nonsense lyrics. And we’re totally fine with that. Usually the groove is strong enough to keep you from thinking about the not-so-deep thoughts you’re shouting over top. But songwriters occasionally stretch the English language to its breaking-point, while using some truly horrendous metaphors and insane philosophical insights. And sometimes it’s just poor grammar that makes us pause the song and scream “What did they just say!?”
Election Day is finally here! There were seemingly endless months of commentary, satire, parodies and intense arguments with loved ones that made it seem like you were choosing sides for the American Civil War instead of a president. But that’s over, because today We The People cast our ballots for red, blue, green or Honey Boo Boo! Stave off that voting postpartum with five politically charged music videos that celebrate your new-found surge of political empowerment – which, let’s be honest, will go hibernate the next two to four years in some of us.
The 2003 chart-topper crossed B.E.P. over into the pop world and introduced us to Fergie. But The Black Eyed Peas didn’t just milk their new level of fame. They used the popularity of the hit to address global social injustices like war, pollution and intolerance in the music video.
Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am released the track list for his forthcoming and very au courant album, #willpower. Over the years, will.i.am has worked in some capacity with seemingly everyone, and it looks like he’s cashing in all his favors for this fourth solo album. A newly released track list for this next effort is loaded heavy musical collaborations, all of the following making some sort of appearance: Britney Spears, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Chris Brown, David Guetta, Eva Simons, Redfoo and Nicole Scherzinger. And were that not enough, Jennifer Lopez, Mick Jagger and Cheryl Cole, too, will be included on the album’s deluxe edition.
The collaboration doesn’t end there, though, and this next one is truly for the history books: NASA announced today that they have teamed up with will.i.am to debut the album’s next single from the surface of Mars. “Reach for the Stars” will be transmitted to Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, tomorrow at 1 PM PT as part of a special educational event that will promote science education by showing-off NASA’s Curiosity rover and its intergalactic findings — this new song apparently. “My song is finally going to be beamed back to earth from MARS,” tweeted will.i.am yesterday, excitedly because finally. Mars! Read more…
The MGM Grand played host to a plethora of pop stars this weekend for the Clear Channel-sponsored iHeartRadio Festival, two nights of genre-spanning, crowd-pleasing pop music. A mix of veterans and newcomers thrilled the (reportedly very drunk) crowd on both nights. The most successful performers were those who stuck to a setlist of hits, like Jay-Z, who may have performed “On To The Next One” but didn’t take its advice about his old songs, including favorites from The Blueprint and The Black Album alongside newer singles like “Empire State of Mind” (with a guest appearance by earlier performer Alicia Keys). Those whose songs were less well-known by the crowd, like Sublime with Rome, were less well-received.
Perhaps the big surprise of the weekend, according to reports, was Jennifer Lopez, who, in a set that spanned her musical career, proved supremely capable of standing among the pop titans of today (with a Pitbull feature on “On the Floor”). Saturday’s “special guest” Sting also more than pulled his weight, backing Steven Tyler on bass early in the evening, then joining Lady Gaga for performances of “Stand By Me” and his own “King of Pain.”
Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of the critically acclaimed band Wilco, is not really known for his sense of humor. That’s not to say he’s a humorless fellow; rather, it’s just that when he chooses songs to cover, it’s generally because he’s paying homage to artists who have meaning (see: the two records he made with Billy Bragg comprised solely of Woody Guthrie covers).
That was not exactly the case in Chicago last night, where Jeff Tweedy performed at a book party for the release of Dan Sinker‘s The F***ing Epic Quest of @MayorEmanuel. Instead of going the somber route, Tweedy kept with the evening’s light-hearted nature and proved his comedic chops by busting out a solo acoustic cover of the Black Eyed Peas smash, “I Gotta Feeling.” We presume this decision had something to do with the fact that this song was played during the real Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s election party back in February, and the cover was delivered with exactly the right amount of irony that you’d expect from a Generation X icon like Tweedy. He warns listeners early on that his BEP cover “is gonna be bad, gonna be really bad,” but after the seeing the final results, we beg to differ with his assessment.
Jeff Tweedy performs the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” [Time Out Chicago via Growing Pangs]
Pop’s Punching Bag: Hating the Black Eyed Peas
In the wake of the Black Eyed Peas’ hiatus announcement, a number of critical outlets responded to the effect of “Good riddance!” Ann Powers at NPR’s Record explores why. (Short version: “They imagine what life would be like with no consequences.” The piece may as well be about LMFAO, whose “Party Rock Anthem” is again #1 in the country.) But stay out of the comments; though the ignorance of many of them serves to reinforce Powers’ arguments, they also include descriptions of the Black Eyed Peas that we would rather not republish. [The Record]
If He Hadn’t Quit Twitter, John Mayer Might Not Have Ever Recorded Another Album
Depending on your opinion on the controversial crooner, that’s either really good or really bad news. Either way, during a chat at the Berklee College of Music, he confessed that frequent Twitter use was beginning to cost him his ability to write songs. “I had four million Twitter followers, and I was always writing on it,” he told a group of students. “And I stopped using Twitter as an outlet and I started using Twitter as the instrument to riff on, and it started to make my mind smaller and smaller and smaller. And I couldn?t write a song.” Consequently, look for most of the songs on his new record to include significantly more than 140 characters. [Rolling Stone]
Black Eyed Peas Turn Themselves Into Split Peas
During a concert performance in England, will.i.am, Fergie and the other two guys told the crowd that the show was going to be the “last time we’re going to be in England for a long time”; they later expanded on that statement by announcing that they are taking an “indefinite break” from making music together. Sadly, this probably means that you are likely to see will.i.am once again appearing as a hologram on a television near you imminently. [HuffPo]
“Big Baseball Player Back In High School” From Springsteen’s “Glory Days” Identified
His name’s Joe DePugh, and he tried out for the Dodgers. He would probably amend his assessment about his glory days passing him by if asked today. [New York Times]
HIGHLIGHT: The use of remixes in performance segments. Even excluding the two Britney Spears features (records that we like, but which could be industry warning signs), Ke$ha‘s performance featured a segment of the Cirkut remix of “Blow,” and Cee Lo Green‘s medley included an extended version of the spaghetti-Western break that Danger Mouse sampled for the “Crazy” beat, plus an electro remix of “Forget You.”
LOWLIGHT: Britney’s feature spots themselves. It’s hard to know what to make of her enervated performances, especially when her companion was practically using his arm as a seatbelt on her when they were in the audience, and while her father is insisting she’s mentally unfit to give legal testimony, but she was handily shown up by both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj (who first came out dressed as a member of G.I. Joe nemeses C.O.B.R.A. only to have that armor stripped off her by someone in a chicken suit, and then replicated the lapdance choreography she performs on tour). This does not bode well for her upcoming tour, but more than that, we’re just worried about her!
HIGHLIGHT: Cee Lo, on the other hand, was in fine form, and we salute his continuing stylistic tributes to Elton John. ?Apparently the Muppet-”Crocodile Rock” Grammys homage wasn’t a one-off, judging by Green’s bedazzled outfit and glasses (not to mention the piano, which he didn’t appear to play at all).
The Lonely Island‘s Turtleneck and Chain came closest, at #3, but none of this past week’s album releases posed a real challenge to the continued chart dominance of Adele. Her 21 is #1 for the eighth of its twelve weeks on the chart, thanks in part to the continued success of “Rolling in the Deep,” which itself finally hit #1 on the Hot 100 last week after 17 weeks climbing the chart. Not even Lady Gaga‘s “Edge of Glory” (in at #2) could topple it this week. In its second chart week, Now 38 also outsold Turtleneck and Chain. Christina Perri‘s and Tyler, the Creator‘s debut LPs round out the top five.
Aside from the one-two punch of Adele and Lady Gaga, the top of the singles chart is mostly full of songs that have peaked but remain popular (excepting Pitbull‘s “Give Me Everything” and the Black Eyed Peas‘ “Just Can’t Get Enough”). And the two women are likely to continue to battle for the top of the chart, especially once Born This Way is released. So the bump in digital sales that has temporarily boosted the industry is largely due to the success of female artists, as Chris Molanphy explained last week for the Village Voice‘s Sound of the City blog.