Last week, we successfully bought you the VH1 staff’s favorite songs of 2011 without any bloodshed, and we’re happy to report that no one’s brain exploded while trying to narrow down the amazing albums of 2012 into a concise list. Again, what VH1 staffers enjoyed in 2012 was a rich and vibrant tapestry of genres, created both by newcomers and veterans.
As far as consensus is concerned, there were 23 LPs that appeared on multiple ballots, but only 6 that appeared on four or more lists: Miguel‘s Kaleidoscope Dream (7 ballots), Emeli Sandé‘s Our Version Of Events and Frank Ocean‘s channel ORANGE (6 ballots apiece), Kendrick Lamar‘s good kid, m.A.A.d. city (5 ballots), Taylor Swift‘s RED and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ The Heist (each with 4 ballots).
Lady Gaga made a grand and unforgettable appearance halfway through “Gimme Shelter.” Unlike the onstage-chemistry he shared with Florence Welcha few weeks back, Jagger seemed a little unsure what to do with the unusual pop star, who spent most of her turn skittering about in her trademark towering heels and wailing with great bursts of energy about how “it’s just a shout away!” It’s really hard to look away, and that she could throw a rock star so seasoned as Jagger off his game is probably a testament to just how good her weirdo pop-star game is. This is really fun to watch.
We’re ushering in the winter with some blues from our November You Oughta Know artist, Gary Clark Jr. The sweet sounds of his mellow voice from his You Oughta Know live session and Big Morning Buzz Live performance have seriously assisted in fighting the blues the cold weather brings about. But “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” won’t leave you with feelings of melancholy. In fact, the speedy guitar riffs are likely to inspire you to grab a dance partner and allow the two-stepping and swing to ensue. And you’ll certainly feel uber confident with lyrics like, “I don’t believe in competition/Ain’t nobody else like me around.” So, “play cool” as you lose yourself in the intoxicating guitar strings.
You can download an MP3 of this incredible Gary Clark Jr. performance of “Ain’t Messin’ Round” here on VH1 Tuner for free! But be quick — the link expires at midnight on Monday, December 3 and you don’t want to miss out.
Gary Clark Jr – “Ain’t Messin’ Round” (MP3) (UPDATE: Sorry, this link expired!) Read more…
It’s definitely Gary Clark Jr.’s time to shine. Our November You Oughta Know artist is the 28-year-old guitarist you’d find on stage singing the blues peppered with a bit of rock, a bit of R&B and a touch of country. His major label release Blak and Blu has been praised for its showcase of his “well-rounded tool kit.” Now we get to show you a behind-the-scenes look of Gary’s musical style.
Our fantastic photographer Jennifer Marigliano spent the day with Gary Clark Jr. trekking around New York City before the blues singer prepped for and rocked his You Oughta Know live session. Gary’s a no fuss kind of guy. It’s through his guitar all of his energy flows like a river. Read more…
Gary Clark Jr. may be the future of blues. His sound stretches widely covering various genres so squeezing him into the compacted box of one genre isn’t fair, but it’s clear blues is in his soul. This month’s YOK artist has been making music for years although he’s fairly new to the mainstream eye. His talent supersedes his young 28 years enough for an invitation to play at the White House. On February 21, GCJ played at the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” alongside legends like B.B.King, Buddy Guy and Mick Jagger. And sharing a joke with the president turned this into a dream gig of a lifetime for the guitar player and singer. Read more…
A one man show. All our newest You Oughta Know artist, Gary Clark Jr., needs is his guitar. During his live set for VH1, GCJ performs “Things Are Changin’” on a stool with one mic, one guitar. There’s no band or gimmicks, just Gary. Add this to the five reasons You Oughta Know Gary. Read more…
Allow us to introduce you to the guy Entertainment Weekly was referring to when the magazine wrote, “Every generation has its chosen one and right now, this is Clark’s time.” His name is Gary Clark Jr. You’ll soon understand why he’s November’s You Oughta Know artist. Labeling him as a soul mixed with jazz mixed with blues artist is the obvious choice. Truth is, the 28-year-old guitarist and singer reaches across the aisle touching the crevices of rock, country, R&B and hip-hop. The chill soul crooner grew up in Austin, TX where he first fondled with a guitar at the age of 12. He honed his craft, gaining local attention by playing in small pubs in his hometown. His journey has brought him far from the handful of fans he once played for. Blak and Blu, his first major label project with Warner Bros. debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 charts. And its all an upward climb from there. You oughta know Gary Clark Jr. for several reasons, but let’s start with five.
1. Already compared to the greatest Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist of all time. Not just any artist can be mentioned in the same breath as him. Yet, Gary Clark Jr. has already been compared to the legend. His performance at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival blew us away with his ease, the comfort, the mastery over his cherry red Epiphone Casino guitar (which he named Cassie, by the way). He makes playing the guitar look as natural as breathing. Living up to the G.O.A.T. guitarist’s comparisons is certainly a daunting task. Something tells us GCJ has it in the bag.
2. Come on homie we major…as in ESPN major
It’s not every day ESPN calls to ask if they can feature an artist’s music for its three-day NFL draft telecast. GCJ along with one of hip-hop’s greatest emcees, Nas, received those calls. In April GCJ’s “Bright Lights,” with an added verse from Nas, was one of the upbeat bluesy tracks played during the channel’s commercial break package. “Bright lights, big city going to my head” was the perfect backdrop for a football themed commercial.
3. Paint the White House Blak and Blu
The ultimate swerve of the year is when you can (truthfully) say, “I’ve played for the President and First Lady, yo!” GCJ probably didn’t use those exact words, but he definitely performed at the White House for the Red, White and Blues event for Mr. and Mrs. Obama. Alongside legends like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck he fit right in. His email signature should include: “I played at the White House. ‘Nough said.”
4. He “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” with showing you how to do this, son
GCJ told us he did “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” because no one would expect a fast, uptempo song from a blues artist. The country-rock mix is a testament to his versatility as an artist. It’s light, it’s fun. Directed by Noble Jones, the video has the same party-like-a-rockstar/soul-singer vibe. Not to mention his sexy cherry red guitar makes a cameo. The lead single sounds like something the popular doo-wop groups of the ’50s and ’60s would make, only with a modern twist. It glides through your eardrums as your body dances on cue. Just stop messin’ ’round and let loose to this song. You know you want to.
5. Never too big to be checked by mama
How does GCJ stay grounded with all the buzz surrounding him as this burgeoning artist? “My mom still calls me and keeps me in check,” he tells us in an interview (more from that soon). He’ll never be so huge of a star that his mom won’t give him a reality check that brings him back down to earth. “And then if she feels I’m tripping she’ll tell me that she’ll call my grandma.” The power of a “tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear” mom and grandma will keep this talented musician humble.
Stay tuned for more exclusive interviews and live performances from our newest YOK artist. Welcome to the family, Gary!
Hype surrounding an artist is one thing. That artist living up to the hype is quite another. Singer and guitarist Gary Clark Jr. certainly rises to the occasion. The 28-year-old jazz and blues singer whose music mixes country and Rock ‘N Roll plays the guitar with such precision and skill he was an easy choice for VH1′s November You Oughta Know artist. His new album, Blak and Blu, is like honey drizzled into a warm cup of tea. It soothes. Through and through it’s real feel good music. Read more…
Ultimately how a music festival closes on the last day for its 70,000 connoisseurs of music is how its success will be judged. Friday is perhaps a bit blurry, the rain possibly overshadowed Saturday’s performances, and then there’s Sunday—the final day of Austin City Limits, potentially the most memorable for fans. Ending the three day music extravaganza with the Red Hot Chili Peppers is how one properly concludes a festival.
Trekking across the park to Gary Clark Jr.’s show was much easier without the muddy grass Saturday’s rain created. After he blew us away with an incredible performance it’s easy to understand why he’s a rising star in the making. For “When My Train Pulls In” he worked the guitar like he was playing for his life. It didn’t matter that he didn’t start singing until nearly four minutes as long as he didn’t stop stringing that guitar. He’s so skilled he barely looked at the instrument during “Ain’t Messin ‘Round,” which impressed pretty much everyone. His sound was a mix between rock, country and blues with a dose of GCJ flavor. With the help of his awesome band, “Don’t Owe You A Thang” inspired the crowd to clap along to the rhythm, shouting whenever they saw fit. Read more…
On Tuesday night, the wildly talented musician and singer Gary Clark Jr.stood in with The Roots on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, jamming on his guitar and singing “Bright Lights” from his newly released four-song EP of the same name. Earlier that night, a showcase for the Austin, Texas native was held in swanky Soho House in New York City, and a who’s who of music execs, critics and press were in attendance. Naturally, when we heard that Clark was performing at Rockwood Music Hall last night, we had to go check out his show; while he came to play a short acoustic set for VH1 staffers last month, you could tell he was holding back the some of the nastier funk that comes along with being backed by a rhythm section.
Sure enough (and much to our delight), last night’s 75-minute set was impressive to a staggering degree. At age 27, Gary has already been compared to some of classic rock’s greats, invoking the guitar chops of Clapton and Hendrix and, with a broad vocal range, he’ll purr an Eddie Kendricks falsetto one minute and growl a B. B. King guttural tone the next. The music he unveiled crossed blues and soul with elements of jazz, funk and hip hop, but was also laced with smacking drums and rousing guitar solos that had Clark in a very clear, introverted, eyes-closed zone.
With lyrics like “I don’t owe you a thing, I ain’t buying you no diamond ring” and “If you love me like you say, why you trippin’ like you do?,” it’s clear that Clark holds the blues near and dear to his being. However, his multi-dimensional sonic flavor was embraced by the models, frat boys, music snobs, and hipsters present, which allowed him to flaunt an effortless malleabilty that could be paired well with any of your favorite artists, regardless of genre or time period. ?uestlove was in the house as well, hanging with Zoe Kravitz (who is apparently a longtime friend of Clark’s). And now, on the heels of a glowing Rolling Stone review of his Bright Lights EP, we’re certain that Clark’s star is on the rise, and the young talent has many years and many full-length albums ahead of him.
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