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.
Kanye West claims to be the first rapper with a Benz and a backpack, but these days it looks like several backpack rappers are carrying around more than just a pad and a pen. In the past year, there’s been a wave of underground MCs surfacing their way to the mainstream top and collecting checks on their way up. These youthful spitters are penning a modern hook to the already played backpack rap era of the 80s and 90s. With the recent success of backpack rap from such conscious rappers as Kanye, Lupe Fiasco, and Kid Cudi, the new school of backpackers is painting a different, more open road in the hip-hop lane.
So, what exactly is “backpack rap”? It’s a sub-genre of hip hop that’s traditionally known for being void of the glitz and glam that comes with being a rapper, or as rapper Drake put it, “the money, cars, clothes, and hoes.” In other words, it is less concerned with “making it” and instead focuses more on issues surrounding social awareness. However, backpack rap today has taken on a new look. The hip-hop underground scene that’s getting play includes the alternative and indie side of hip-hop, rather than the political, intellectual stereotype of the genre. It’s the youthful sound and mix of genres that takes these MCs from backpackers to Benz owners, not to mention the sound that’s sitting atop this week’s Billboard charts (more on that in a bit).
You Can Now Make Music On The Go With Apple’s New iPhone App
Apple has adapted its GarageBand software so you can now download it to your iPhone and make music on the go. This is going to make for some very interesting subway commutes, indeed… [Prefix]
Mumford And Sons Are Back With A Brand New Song, “Ghosts That We Knew”
We were starting to feel like Mumford & Sons might ride off the success of Sigh No More forever, so we’re pretty excited to see they’ve got some new material. [NME]
Last night, Beyoncé‘s video for “Party” featuring J. Cole was released and there’s no use pretending that we’ve done anything else but watch it on repeat ever since. Taking productivity to an all time low and desire to party with Beyoncé vibes to an all time high, we’re swooning, head nodding and finger clicking along with Bey’s delectable, candy-colored, bling-adorned party scene. The retro-ghetto fab outfits, bare skin and constant jumpin’ jumpin’ of background party goers is a last glance back at summer, and a welcome escape from the mundaneness of everyday life.
VH1 Classic Celebrates The Jewish New Year With 24-Hour Rush Marathon
Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown tonight, and on VH1 Classic, that means one thing: the return of Rush Hashanah! Classic Albums: Rush 2112 & Moving Pictures kicks off the celebration at 7PM ET/PT, followed by the premiere of Rush: Time Machine, a brand-new concert film in which the band plays Moving Pictures in its entirety, at 8PM ET/PT. The Rush marathon continues with Beyond the Lighted Stage, R30, Rush In Rio, and more. [VH1 Classic]
Hold On For New Music From En Vogue
After being stunned by continuing fan support after their appearance at the 2008 BET Music Awards, En Vogue reunited in earnest, but after a successful tour, their appearances got more sporadic. But rumors of new recordings got a big corroboration when the quartet was named as one of the performers at New York’s CMJ Music Marathon next month. [Sound of the City] Read more…
Remember when Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty was an innocent girl standing underneath an umbrella, before she was hollering at a “Rude Boy” to join her in some “S&M” on her “California King Bed”? Yeah, our memories of those days are getting fuzzier, too, especially if the rumors of a new Rihanna/J. Cole sex tape are true!
“We have seen it and we do not know what we are going to do with it yet,” said a rep from the Hustler empire told Radar Online. Odd J. Cole didn’t mention it when he played us his album last week, but the 26-year-old protege of Jay-Z will certainly benefit from this tabloid circus since Cole World: The Sideline Story drops next month.
Rihanna is, unfortunately, no stranger to scandal, accustomed to fending off rumors of secretly dating mentor Jay-Z and canoodling with Drake, not to mention having to endure the embarrassment caused when naked photos she sent to then-boyfriend Chris Brown were leaked. Like many stars in the public eye, the Barbadian pop star wears a target on her back for this kind of negative attention, and her music, as we jokingly alluded to in the beginning of this post, might make it easier to assume that the sex tape exists. But in all fairness, just because her songs can be boldly sexual in nature doesn’t mean we should jump to conclusions, even when taking into account that the Roc Nation-managed artists have toured together and are known to be friendly. Developing!
The Force is strong with J. Cole. I first witnessed this during a performance in a small auditorium at New York University?s Kimmel Center in August of ?09, when tangible sincerity radiated off of Jay-Z?s first Roc Nation signee and alleged prot?g?. I?d become familiar with his mixtapes prior to the show and, like the NYU students, curious industry onlookers, and countless others who weren?t present, had started to believe in the young Jedi?s potential to herd hip-hop into the next golden era.
Fast forward to last night at Roc The Mic Studios in Manhattan where a tiny group of music writers gathered in the very same room where Cole recorded his ?A Star Is Born? verse for Hov’sBlueprint 3, where Beyoncé and her husband (no pressure!) stood by watching. It was the second of two intimate listening sessions for the North Carolina-bred rapper/producer?s first full-length album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, and (Jermaine) Cole was present to walk us through the sixteen tracks and single skit on his highly-anticipated September 27th release. Less nervous than he was for the first group of critics because the ice had now been broken, he made the disclaimer that he wouldn?t play songs we?d already heard (including Drake-featured ?In The Morning,? the album’s first single ?Workout,? or the song that got him signed, ?Lights Please?), but we?d get to hear everything else. While song titles and the track order may still change before Cole turns-in the final product, Jay-Z has already dubbed Cole World a ?classic.?
On Tuesday, we shared some of Tinie Tempah’s thoughts on mentally transitioning from the UK to the US as an up-and-coming artist in the hectic world of hip-hop. Because the London native goes back and forth across the pond so frequently, we also asked Tinie to give us a cheat sheet of sorts, helping to get us looped-in to the who’s who of British rap. Check out his list of personal favorites below, because after all, you never know if one of these guys might be next.
GIGGS (IF YOU LIKE: Gucci Mane)
“Definitely be on the lookout for Giggs, he?s doing his thing,” preached Tinie. After collaborating with B.o.B and a slew of other big-name British rappers, Giggs continues spitting coke-rap bars for days. Style-wise, Tinie compared him to both Young Jeezy and Gucci; embodying the hustler image, Giggs served a two-year bid for a gun charge back in 2003, but inked with XL Recordings (see: M.I.A., Tyler, The Creator, Dizzee Rascal) to distribute his third solo LP next year off of self-made label, SN1 Entertainment.
Rebecca Black Pulls “Friday” Off Of YouTube
Sorry, kids, there be no getting down this Friday, for TMZ reports that teen superstar Rebecca Black —who, you’ll recall from our interview with her at the OMAs, “does not believe in getting nervous”— is engaged in a beef with her record label, Ark Entertainment. Until they get their issues settled, YouTube is “Friday” free. Some might argue that’s a good thing, but those people would be wrong. [TMZ]
Premieres: Matt & Kim Video, J. Cole Single, Lady Gaga Video (Imminent)
OMA favorites Matt & Kim premiered the video for “Block After Block” over at MTV.com; the first single from J. Cole’s forthcoming debut full-length went out to radio today (and can be heard below); the video for Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” will premiere during So You Think You Can Dance tonight.