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Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream Puts The Soul Back In R&B, Despite His Feeling That The Genre Has Become A ‘Caricature Of Itself’

Kaleidoscope Dream is the magical sophomore album by Miguel, an LP in which he infuses the sounds of rock, soul and funk into the expanding box that is modern R&B. On “Adorn,” which is currently No. 1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B charts, he croons about love and intimacy over the funky bass line. “‘Adorn’ is romantic, but it’s dirty at the same time,” he told us the day his album dropped. “It’s all the highs of love with all the coolness of the party.” Then there’s “Use Me,” “Do You,” “Arch & Point,” and “Pussy Is Mine” that explore the beauty of intimacy. While “Do You” is as much about the sensuality (“Do you like hugs? Do you like love?”) as it is about sex (“I wanna do you like drugs tonight”), the provocative “Pussy Is Mine” is completely about Miguel’s friend with benefits making him feel like it is all his. Read more…

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In Alicia Keys’ VH1 Storytellers Performance, She’s A “Girl On Fire”

Alicia Keys is passionate about her music. Whether it’s her riveting VMA performance of “Girl On Fire” or her more stripped down version of the same song from VH1 Storytellers, this passion is what drives her on-stage persona. Almost in a shout, Alicia sings to the tune of the piano keys she is stroking. Her energy is highest when she wails, “This girl is on fire.” She sings each note like they all mean something to her. The back story behind the song, which is not shown in the clip, is that the title was inspired by a New York Times article she read about herself. The writer used “girl on fire” as a descriptor. From that moment Keys was determined to write a song of the same title. Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

How To Write A Hit In 8 Simple Steps: Alicia Keys Breaks Down The Evolution Of “Girl On Fire” (VIDEO)

Making hits is no easy thing, not even for a seasoned star like Alicia Keys herself. It had been several years since her last album and she’s a new mother and a busy business woman, too, so for this next round, she figured she would take things slow: “An easy vibe, not to put too much pressure on it,” she tells the New York Times. Before getting to work each day on The Element of Freedom, which is out November 27th, she would take time to listen to other people’s music — Nina Simone and Frank Ocean (!) — and work out her thoughts. You can almost hear this patience in the album’s new single, “Girl on Fire,” a fully realized and empowering anthem replete with crashing drums and a soaring chorus.

Keys brought the Times into the studio to show them — very, very excitedly! — her writing process, from the moment of inspiration to the post-release regrets. Want to write a song like “Girl on Fire”? Here’s what you need to do: Read more…

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More Of Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded With New Songs Coming Your Way

Nicki Minaj said she hadn’t planned on attending the VMAs until her good friend– Alicia Keys–asked her to join her on stage. Nicki rapped her verse to Keys’ new single “Girl On Fire.” US Olympic gold winner Gabrielle Douglas wowed the crowd with a cameo of cartwheels and flips. A 16-year-old US Olympics gold winner on stage with Nicki Minaj and A. Keys has to be one of the best moments of the night. Before Nicki hit the stage she told E! she was re-releasing Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in November calling it The Re-Up. “I’m putting lots of new songs on there and I’m actually going to drop my new single next week,” she told E! on the red carpet. Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

5 Things To Watch For At Tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards

With only a hours left until showtime, we’ve got our seat chosen and snacks purchased and and watched everyone of the nominated videos, so all that’s left to do now is wait and see who Rihanna pulls from the pile first when Chris Brown and Drake get in a big fight. Though their attendance has been much buzzed about, this hopefully won’t happen. And anyways, the schedule of events has so much more to offer: a slew of high-profile performers, many Moonmen to be won, and, as always, moments to be made. There’s going to be a lot to take in, so we’ve come-up with a plan of action and here are the five things we are most excited to watch for tonight: Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

Alicia Keys Dropped Two Versions Of “Girl On Fire,” And There’s Still A Third To Come

It’s been three years since The Element of Freedom, and with the next on the burner, set for release November 27th, Alicia Keys is turning up the heat. “New Day,” the first single off of Girl On Fire, was a banging and inspiring thing. And now we get the title track, which is actually going to be a three song suite. As such, Keys dropped the suites first two segments yesterday: the chilled out “Girl on Fire (Blue Light)” mix and the Nicki Minaj assisted “Girl on Fire (Inferno)” remix. Still not about actually about Katniss Everdeen, “Girl on Fire” is instead a hot ode to females strong and mighty. “She got her head in the clouds and she’s not backing down,” goes the anthem, “This girl is on fire.”

The “Inferno” version features a booming, mid-tempo drum beat derived from rocker Billy Squire’s 1980 breakbeat classic “The Big Beat,” and two rapped Nicki verses. Theatrics turned down and focus turned up, Nicki opens the track with a meditation on Marilyn Monroe (“Spirit of Marilyn callin’ me, audibly/ Ballin’ she/ Said that she would never leave/ Continue to torture me”) and a Gabby Douglas name check (“But I got ‘em aggy, cause I win the gold like Gabby”). Keys, meanwhile, does her usual singing thing, sounding strong as ever when she lets the “this girl is on fire” refrain soar.


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by (@zaragolden)

Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne And A$AP Rocky Will Perform Tomorrow At The MTV VMAs

The countdown clock is ticking, and the MTV Video Music Awards bill of performers is still growing. We already knew that Rihanna would be there to perform, but good word now has it that she’ll be joined by her cocky collaborator and VMA nominee A$AP Rocky for the show’s opening act. What’s more, hip-hop heavyweights Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, and YMCMB leading lady Nicki Minaj in the company of a secret guest — anybody seen Mitt’s schedule for the night? — have also been added to the lineup, which already includes previously announced performances from One Direction, Frank Ocean, Green Day, and VH1 Storytellers trio Taylor Swift, P!nk and Alicia Keys.

And, best news of all: the wait just got shorter yet. MTV has moved the Video Music Awards start time up one hour so as to avoid running up against President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, and causing conflict for those equally engaged with pop as with politic. The show will now run from 8 PM to 10 PM, at which point you can switch over to your news channel of choice to watch Obama. Maybe you can have it all.

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Frank Ocean Joins List Of Heavyweights To Perform At This Year’s VMAs

Frank Ocean Set to Perform at VMAs

The anticipated outrageous and unpredictable moments of the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards are upon us, folks. This year viewers can expect one thing for sure: to laugh until their stomach hurts with funny man Kevin Hart as host. But what is the VMAs without its all-star lineup of performers? Most recently added to the roster is talented newcomer Frank Ocean. Imagine him singing “Pyramids” with the visual stage set-up to accompany the song. This could mean actual faux pyramids, stripper poles, a stripper–oh my, the possibilities! Read more…

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Taylor Swift To Debut “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Plus Performing At VMAs

Taylor Swift

America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift, has some great things on the horizon. This Thursday the country singer will debut the video to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together on MTV First: Taylor Swift at 7:49 p.m. On Thursday, September 6 she will grace the stage with a live performance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. We’re bubbling over with excitement and anticipation to see what she’ll do. And there’s her set for this season’s VH1 Storytellers, including confirmed singers P!nk and Alicia Keys. It’s officially Taylor Swift season, actually, every season is Swift’s season. Read on for the official press release. Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

Everything We Know So Far About Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire

It’s been three years since Alicia Keys last album The Element of Freedom, but this fall she’ll returning with a fury, a new album, a VMA performance, a VH1 Storytellers and all! Bit by bit, she’s been dropping information and giving hints as to what we might expect from this return. Like, for example: although the title might suggest otherwise, her new album has nothing to do with a certain Miss Everdeen, and maybe because after giving birth to her son Egypt she feels like a “full-on f****ing grown up.” Here is what else we’ve got so far: Read more…