Now that 2012 is firmly in the rearviewmirror, it’s time to look forward with hope and optimism as to what the year 2013 holds in store for music fans like us. Considering that we’re not even three weeks into January and we’ve already been blessed with two delightful surprises —A new Destiny’s Child song! A new Timberlake jam!— we feel confident that this is going to be another banner year filled with an abundance of both monster pop smashes and crossover gems.
With that in mind, the VH1 Tuner team has put together this list of 13 of our most anticipated albums for 2013, which includes a healthy mix of familiar faces (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga) and artists on the come-up (Big Sean, Diane Birch), brought to you in the order of when we expect them to release their new material.
Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (Expected Release Date: January 29): Sisters Tegan and Sara Quin have long been staples at alternative radio, but the synth-driven Heartthrob appears like it might be the LP that finally breaks them into the mainstream consciousness. “We really look at this as an opportunity to stretch into a world that we’ve been just outside of for a long time,” Sara recently told our VH1 News crew, and one listen to the album’s lead single, “Closer,” seems to be indicative of the fact that they’ve reached their goal.—Mark Graham
Her name created enough buzz in 2012 for Rita Ora to make our Music’s Biggest Breakout Stars of 2012 list. But according to Jay-Z‘s British protege, 2013 is going to be her year. In an interview with MTV she is seemingly excited about the U.S. release of her debut Ora. “2013 is really important for me because it’s gonna to be the first time the U.S. hears my official album and I wanted to put a few extra tracks on there and make it really special,” she told MTV. “So I’m basically giving you guys a whole new album of new material.” Read more…
The Game‘s Jesus piece has a Jesus piece. Seriously, folks. Not everyone is happy with the cover art for his upcoming fifth studio album Jesus Piece, but his peers seem incredibly comfortable with the project judging by the gaggle of rappers, singers and comedians he has courted for guest appearances. Well, no one can accuse Game of fear of being out shined on his own album. When Game (entourage in tow) stopped by the VH1 offices, we thought it’d be fun to find out if he could rattle off all the features off the top of his head. Get comfortable because this may take a minute. Read more…
J. Cole took the two-year anniversary of his Friday Night Lights mixtape as an opportunity to share the first single from his sophomore set, Born Sinner, a pageant-free banger called “Miss America.” The self-produced, PSA styled single begins with a sample of John F. Kennedy’s famous “Ask Not ” speech (a Kanye West sample, this is not) but quickly gives way to a hard grinding, drum-driven beat over which Cole charges aggressively. Throughout, he thoughtfully weighing his wide-ranging frustrations regarding the rap game, the New York Jets’ defense and America at large: “F*** the man, Uncle Sam / I won’t sell your crack / I won’t fight your wars / I won’t wear your hat.”
Near the end, as the beat begins to burn off, he slows to wonder, “Am I about dollars or am I about change?” A prescient thought coming from a rapper who’s made an interesting story of his struggle to balance commercial success and his more reflective lyricism. Sure he can’t have both, he chooses the later this round, beginning the song by boasting that “Cole World is just the tip of the iceberg” and mumbling as the song trails off that, “They’ll never play this s*** on the radio.”
Born Sinner is out January 28th, guess we’ll just have to wait and see then.
J. Cole doesn’t care about Twitter. We’re guessing having graduated from the School of Jay-Z (yes, we made that up), he understands the art of mystery. After a three month Twitter hiatus Cole reappeared Thursday night with new music. Behind the scenes he’s been touring with Big K.R.I.T and making new music. The North Carolina native dropped his latest track “The Cure,” which samples Jay-Z and Kanye‘s “Lift Off” from the Watch the Throne album. Over Beyonce‘s vocals from “Lift Off,” Cole addresses haters, Twitter, beef and what he considers weak songs rappers drop every week. If you’re expecting him to name anyone specific–don’t. That’s not his style. He raps, “Cole World/the new Nat King/If I ain’t the illest n—- I’m his new vaccine/Really more like poison when it’s New Jack Swing/And my bed is like a deck of cards/Two black queens.” And that’s just the opening bar. There’s no other way to say it: J. Cole kills it! Whatever the ailment, J.Cole has “The Cure.”
It’s like the 90s R&B era all over again in Melanie Fiona’s “This Time,” and we’re loving it. For the traditional rhythm and bluesy record expressing how much better she’d be in the relationship if she had a do-over, she teamed up with Roc Nation rapper J. Cole for what feels like the nostalgic time when R&B and hip-hop collaborations saturated the airwaves. Not to compare Fiona to another artist as she’s rightfully owning her lane, but we couldn’t help but notice the Mary J. Blige “What’s the 411?” similarities. The baseball hat and oversized jacket? Totally a great nod to MJB. Read more…
In a chain of events few would have expected, Hot 97 Summer Jam was as much about who was performing as it was about who wasn’t performing. By the time Tyga performed “Faded” and “Rack City” there was a dark cloud looming over the nearly 80,000 attendees, and that cloud had nothing to do with the weather. Tyga’s boss, Lil Wayne, had just abruptly pulled the plug on any of his artists performing, including the show’s headliner–Nicki Minaj.
Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg, known for his loose (opinionated) lips introduced Kendrick Lamar during the pre-show and dropped a bombshell that set the tone for the rest of the night. “I know there are some chicks here waiting to sing “Starships” later. I’m not talking to y’all right now. F*ck that bulls*it,” he said to the crowd. “I’m here to talk about real hip-hop s*it.” The YMCMB president got whiff of the perceived diss and tweeted, “Young Money ain’t doing summer jam.” With that one tweet the boss had spoken. But the show did in fact go on. And in a major way.
Opening acts like Maino, Joe Budden and Joel Ortiz rattled through their old hits to a barely there crowd. That didn’t keep Budden from declaring he and his crew were the “best rappers in the universe.” People started filling in once Waka Flocka hit the stage with the wild, crazy, party energy he seems to carry with him anywhere he goes. The signature Waka Flocka move–shaking his dreads from side to side–was in full effect during “Bustin At Em,” “It’s A Party,” “Hard In the Paint and “I Don’t Really Care.” “No Hands” served as a segue into Wale’s set as the two shared the stage. J. Cole proved he’s studied in the School of Jay-Z as he was the first to perform with a live band. No entourage needed, he commanded the stage with his mere talent.
Summer is fast approaching and we’re ready to bring on the BBQs, rooftop parties and most of all the concerts. What’s summer without indulging in live performances of the artists you love? Two of the biggest hip-hop concerts this summer, Summer Jam and Rock the Bells, have some acts lined up that are going to be bananas! Not that you’d go wrong attending either, but because they’re as different as night and day, we’ve broken down why one of these concerts rules as the must-see concert of the summer.
1. The headliners tell you everything you need to know about a show.
One of the biggest names in hip-hop, Nicki Minaj, is headlining Summer Jam along with Rick Ross, Waka Flocka and Young Jeezy. As far as mainstream rap, Summer Jam has it covered. With Nicki you’ll get a bit of hip-pop, Waka will make everyone dance and Rick Ross and Jeezy offer the trap anthems to make even the most suburban girl get hype.
Where do we even begin with the headliners for Rock the Bells? Its very big name acts run the gamut of the likes of Nas, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Missy Elliott & Timbaland and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It doesn’t get more versatile than Nas, one of hip-hop’s legends, and the fairly newbie Wiz Khalifa rocking the stage at the same festival. And Missy Elliott & Timbaland…together! That’s some epic 90s skeez right there. We’re singing, “Supa dupa fly, supa dupa fly” just thinking about it.
2. Whose lineup has the most artists hot in the streets right now?Read more…
The Grammys are almost upon us and it’s time to start wagering on winners. We’ve been speculating over one of the most talked about — and important in terms of a young star’s career — categories, and that’s the Best New Artist. Obviously, whoever wins is going to steal the spotlight, and with the fickle nature of music consumption it’s an all too important spotlight that’s up for the taking. With a smorgasbord of acts up for the award, covering genres from country to rap to dub to indie-pop, it’s tough to put the finger on a winner. We’ve weighed up the odds below, and given our opinion on the likelihood of each nominee taking home the illustrious award.
The Band Perry
There’s no doubt that The Band Perry are the best new country act of the year, winning Best New Act at the Country Music Awards as well as Single and Song Of The Year with “If I Die Young.” We think The Band Perry are hot favorites for the win after their winning year in 2011, and because they’ve bought some youthful fun to country music.
Bon Iver Bon Iver has been a controversial nominee at best, first with front man Justin Vernon lambasting the Grammys and then refusing to perform on the night. It seems like with the popularity and critical acclaim that “Holocene” found in 2011, they may have been strong contenders, but unfortunately took themselves out of the race with their petulant behavior. They’re not really a “new artist” anyway, so it might be nice to see someone fresh off the block win the award, even though we do love the music of Bon Iver.
Last night on The X Factor, special guest R. Kelly joined Melanie Amaro on stage to back her up in her performance of “I Believe I Can Fly,” the first time he’s ever sang the classic song as a duet. But we think back up is the wrong word — if it weren’t for Melanie’s powerful, ballad-prone voice, R. Kelly would have completely stolen the show. You can see Melanie’s awed, almost-disbelief as she meets R. Kelly’s veteran presence, and you really can’t help getting a few goose bumps of pride for her, regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the program. And as glitter falls from the ceiling and the two hold notes for marathon lengths, there’s no doubt as to the inspirational, soaring grandeur of the performance.