You would be forgiven if, at first, you don’t quite recognize the striking blonde above with the feathered hair. After all, we’re not accustomed to seeing pictures of Kesha Rose Sebert —better known as Ke$ha— sans copious amounts of eye shadow, glitter and day-glo face paint smeared all over her visage. However, famed celebrity photographer Terry Richardson was seemingly able to convince the garbage bag enthusiast to trade her patented Hefty Bag Chic style for something that more closely resembles Charlie’s Angels era Farrah Fawcett (if only temporarily) for an as-yet-unknown photoshoot. Nicely played, Terry!
In the nineties, you could count the number of commercial white rappers on one hand. Beastie Boys. Vanilla Ice. Marky Mark (and the Funky Bunch). Maybe Everlast and even 3rd Bass count too, although their “household name” reach wasn’t nearly as long. As a result, an entire generation of hip-hop fans grew up listening to a genre that was based in a primarily Urban setting, rarely poking its nichey head above ground into the pop arena. That didn’t stop the audience’s obsession with hip-hop though, and regardless of content relatability, the music managed to draw a crop of loyal, melanin-lacking disciples.
Putting his unquestionable talent aside, it’s not a huge surprise that Eminem’sSlim Shady LP was so well-received when Interscope helped him to first put take his underground music into the mainstream back in 1999. Paving the way for the constant flow of new, up-and-coming white rappers who idolized him back then, Eminem came to market with a blunt, true-to-self, lower socio-economic class character that was refreshing and different from the previous attempts of white rappers past. Looking the accidental mockery in the face, who can forget The White Rapper Show, for example? Whether you hated it or loved it, it was a trainwreck that you couldn’t resist watching, if only to laugh at the contestants’ hilarious missteps.
On Monday, it was announced that white rapper Rich Hil, son of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, was signed to Warner Brothers Records. This news not only continues to feed the growing trend of white rapper signings, but also the perpetuates the sub-genre craze that is now commonly referred to as “Frat Rap.” Focusing less on conveying social commentary or more personal issues, Frat Rap flaunts a party lifestyle, celebrating the cliche reckless behavior associated with college fraternities, like getting hammered, bagging girls, and partaking in experimental gateway drugs. Executing lyricism and celebrating the Bronx-born culture aren’t really a priority.
NEW KE$HA SONG ABOUT THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE LEAKS ON YOUTUBE
You’ve got to hand it to the Sleazy one. Between this and “Till The World Ends,” she sure knows how to write a pop song about the end of days. [Popdust]
WHAT DOES THE CLOSING OF BORDERS MEAN FOR CLASSICAL MUSIC FANS?
When the nation’s number two bookstore chain decided to liquidate earlier this week, most of the initial attention rightly focused on the fact that 10,000 hardworking Americans are now out of a job. However, as we all know, the news cycle moves fast, and today NPR took a look at what the closure of Borders means for classical music fans. Borders sold more music in the classical genre than any other store in the nation, and apparently, classical music fans are still more apt to discover new music to purchase by traditional retail “browsing” than anything the internet has been able to replicate so far. [NPR]
Yesterday, we introduced you to the upper reaches of our Top 100 Videos of 2011 … So Far list, serving up the #100-51 videos that you’ve been clicking on most so far this year. Although a hefty portion, consider that first installment just an appetizer for today’s first course and tomorrow’s main entree. Going a bit deeper into the list, we now give you #50-11, inching closer and closer to #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!
School’s out for summer in most of the Northern Hemisphere. That means it’s Alice Cooper season! We spent most of our holiday weekend relaxing, but the legendary shock rocker spent it jetsetting around Europe, making guest appearances at big shows, like Ke$ha‘s in Oslo, Norway yesterday. (Actually, he’s opening a couple of Scandinavian Iron Maiden shows this week, but it’s more fun to think Alice Cooper went to Europe to pop up on stage with Ke$ha.) Above, watch his appearance during her cover of “School’s Out.”
The young pop star tweeted excitedly about the appearance afterward: “ALICE F?KING COOPER. or what i call him, dad,” then “thanx for coming to Oslo to do SCHOOLS OUT with me dad #alicecooperisaLEGEND pictures coming soon. ; ) LEGEND. F?KING LEGEND.”
Ke$ha may be the closest any pop star has come to being a spiritual heir for him, but hers wasn’t the only concert that Cooper appeared at: just three days earlier, he joined Foo Fighters onstage in Milton Keynes, an hour north of London. Dave Grohl gave him a lengthy adulatory introduction, insisting, “If it wasn’t for [Alice Cooper], Pat Smear would’ve never bought a guitar.” Here they are performing “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen”: Read more…
Ke$ha and Conan O’Brien are really running with their collaboration. When she returned to his show on Monday for its summer concert series, she also curated her own installment of It Came from the Intertubes (a Best Week Ever-type feature that Conan’s site launched last month), and taped the above sketch about Auto-Tune. Gags about the oft-used software are a little played out, but voice modulation is always at least a little funny, and Ke$ha really sells it, so it works. She neighs!
She also takes the opportunity to slip a little actual criticism into the bit. After facetiously explaining that Pavarotti, Bob Dylan (ha!), and The Beatles all used Auto-Tune, she flatly intones, “Being against Auto-Tune is like being against the idea of a DJ. It just lets people know you’re old.”
And on that note, here’s Dylan rapping the first verse of “Mama Said Knock You Out”:
Ke$ha and Conan are a perfect fit. For evidence, witness her off-the-wall interview last month. So it was only natural that the young pop star inaugurated Conan‘s Summer Concert Series with a three-song set (two of which made the air). After a march-to-war rendition of “Blow”, she performed the non-single title track of her debut album Animal. Ke$ha is always an extremely earnest performer, even when she’s doing cartwheels onstage (which, sadly, she didn’t on Conan). This particularly suited “Animal,” which probably would have been a single, except it couldn’t quite follow up the irreverent tone of “Tik Tok.”
The other problem with “Animal,” and the other songs Ke$ha really sings, as opposed to rapping, is that she can sometimes sound like an annoying Alanis Morissette impersonator. Last night, either she intentionally tried to avoid that, or else “Blow” left her voice just rough enough to prevent it anyway. Regardless, she sounded really great.
Also worth checking out from last night: Lloyd‘s performance of “Cupid” on Lopez Tonight. Maybe he was intentionally booked to match up to the music of Lopez’s lead-in; maybe it just happened to be a good night for music on TBS. Either way, he sounded fantastic, and his early-nineties-inflected R&B may, given 2011’s pop trends, finally get the moment it deserves.
We loved the madcap silliness of “I Wanna Go,” the Britney Spears video that premiered yesterday, so we jumped at the chance to talk to the clip’s director, Chris Marrs Piliero. The up-and-coming director is also responsible for Ke$ha‘s completely off-the-wall “Blow” video and a number of others, and we’re excited to see what he does next. This afternoon he spoke to us on the phone from Los Angeles about Half Baked, the Britney smirk, and the importance of fun.
VH1 Blog: How much of the video’s concept did you bring to the table when you first met with Britney?
Chris Marrs Piliero: Pretty much the whole thing. We made some changes to certain aspects, but as far as the concept as a whole, it was all laid out before we met up.
Where did the Half Baked reference, and the decision to cast Guillermo D?az in general, stem from?
I’m a huge fan of the movie, and that scene resonates with everyone as the epitome of the greatest way to quit your job, and just blow people off. Going through the lyrics of the song, the line about being inappropriate really resonated in my head, and I felt like that would just be such a perfect way for her to tell the reporters to eff off. So I put it in, like, “This would be a rad moment.” Obviously I never know what’s going to be embraced and what’s not going to be, but I thought [Britney] seemed like a cool chick, and hopefully she’d be down with it. And she loved it. She was totally into it.
And when I initially wrote it out, it was one of those things, like, “We gotta try to get Guillermo.” That would be the icing on the cake. That would make it come full circle, to have him be a part of the video. And he loved the idea too, and it all just kinda fell into place.
Vulture caught up with Ke$ha at amfAR’s NY Inspiration Event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City last night to ask about “Till the World Ends.” Specifically: “Why would she turn over such an obvious smash to Britney Spears, when she could have kept it for herself?” Her answer:
“That song,” Ke$ha explained, “I?ve never been more proud of anything in my career… It really solidifies me as a songwriter in the pop music world, which is what I consider myself first and foremost. So it actually is really, really exciting for me when I hear [Britney] sing it. Like, when I hear my own songs on the radio I have to kind of turn it down or change the radio or whatever. When I hear that, I f****** blow the speakers out and I order everybody to dance.”