It’s been three years since Alicia Keys last album The Element of Freedom, and in those three years Keys married producer Swizz Beats and welcomed her first child into the world. With all of the exciting changes in her life she is ready to tell her story through the untitled upcoming album. To connect with her fans Keys posted a touching video to YouTube to talk about the journey of making new music. She says she’s been in the studio eight months working on the album because she’s a whole new person. “It’s like I’m a different person, a new person,” she explains. “Everything is new, from being married and having a baby, and what that’s done for me in just giving me a sense of real stability, real connection, grounding, reason, and purpose. So much of the music that you’re going to hear is talking about what that feels like, what we’re all going through, all of us,” she said. Read more…
Last night’s Billboard Music Awards was an exhausting extravaganza, one that lasted for three full hours and still managed to feel a bit incomplete. Of course, it didn’t help the show’s cause that many of the biggest names in the music world — Adele, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga, to name just a few — decided that they had better places to be last night than at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and the show caught some Twitter backlash for last-minute(ish) tributes to Donna Summer and Adam “MCA” Yauch that fell flat.
That said, there were certainly more than a few memorable moments at last night’s show (which we hope you watched while following our @VH1Music Twitter feed). Here are our Top 5 Moments from the 2012 Billboard Music Awards! (Apologies in advance to all the Beliebers, for young Justin’s mostly lip-synced performance of “Boyfriend” did not make the cut.)
5. Kelly Clarkson’s live television debut of “Dark Side”
Presenter Robin Thicke introduced Kelly’s performance of her new single, “Dark Side,” by stating that she was performing the song “for the first time ever.” Of course, that was not entirely accurate, as Kelly performed an AMAZING version of “Dark Side” on VH1 Storytellers last fall. Still, Kelly looked incredibly gorgeous and, not surprisingly, used her powerhouse vocals to blow the roof off the place. Read more…
If we were to put together a complete list of songs that sampled the work of James Brown, it would easily run over a thousand songs. Of course, the magic that he made on wax is why RollingStone.com labeled him “the most sampled man in the biz.” No one executed funk and soul the way James Brown and his band did.
The man, perhaps best known for classic hits like “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Say It Loud,” would have turned 79 years-old today. With that in mind, we’d like to wish a happy birthday to the Godfather of Soul! In honor of this special day, we’re giving you this list of 10 incredible songs that never would have been if it wasn’t for the work of JB.
Ye and Jigga were watching the throne alright. James Brown’s musical throne, that is. Along with the Otis Redding (how noble of them to name the song after him) sample of “Try a Little Tenderness,” Brown’s “Don’t Tell a Lie About Me and I Won’t Tell the Truth on You” can be heard right when Kanye appears to be beautifully screaming. Yep, that’s James Brown screaming all over a smash record by two of hip-hop’s biggest stars.
A pleasant surprise in the form of Alicia Keys graced the stage at MTV’s annual Upfront in NYC on Thursday night at the Beacon Theater. The 14-time GRAMMY award winning singer debuted a new ballad, “Not Even the King,” in which she belted out a soft melody over the piano about people that “can’t afford what we got, not even the King.”
Since Keys and hubby super producer Swizz Beats had baby Egypt Daoud Dean in October 2010, Keys has (mostly) been basking in mommyhood. Its been almost three years since her last album The Element of Freedom dropped, and Keys’ last performance was an emotion-filled tribute at the funeral of her friend Whitney Houston. Many criticized her voice for being off key that day (no pun intended), but her performance last night proves she’s still got the chops. We’re unsure if “Not Even the King” is from her forthcoming album, but either way, it looks like she might be ready to get back into the studio. Read more…
“We gon’ step on all those lines that separate us tonight; you’re about to witness music at a very high level.”
Jay-Z made this characteristically bravado-laden declaration three songs into his set at New York City’s Carnegie Hall last night, the second of two charity shows benefiting the United Way and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation that he performed this week. Much has been said about cultural ramifications of a night like this, a triumphant chapter in a rags to riches story so improbable that Horatio Alger himself would never have envisioned penning it. It was clear from the outset of the show that Jay-Z had every intention of delivering on that ambitious bill of goods —when was the last time anyone attempted to put on a hip hop show featuring a 20-plus piece symphony orchestra for an audience filled with (primarily rich white) people in suits?—but by the end of the show, I couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t quite able to achieve both of those audacious goals equally.
First, the scene. Carnegie Hall is one of our country’s most legendary musical venues, and also one of our most exclusive. Not just anyone is allowed to perform here, nor is just anyone necessarily allowed to attend a gig there. As a means of showing respect to the 121-year-old venue and all that it symbolizes, attendees of this two-night stand were encouraged to dress formally for the occasion; like a good general, Hov made sure to follow his own directive. Taking the stage a few minutes after 10 p.m. in white tuxedo jacket, black tux pants, a dapper black bow-tie and stylish shades, J-Hova looked like the long lost sixth member of the Rat Pack as he performed “Public Service Announcement” off his 2003 LP, The Black Album. The audience ate it up, leaping to their feet and waving their well-manicured hands in the air like they just didn’t care, perhaps no one more so than his wife Beyoncé. The new mom snuck into her box seat (stage right, closest to the stage) just as the house lights dimmed and proceeded to emphatically dance in a standing position for most of the show’s nearly two-hour runtime.
M.I.A. Will Have To Shell Out The Big Bucks To Cover Any FCC Fines That Might Arise From Her Bird
M.I.A.‘s contract with NBC states that she’ll have to shell out to cover any fines that might be enforced by the FCC following her Super Bowl performance. While the world waits with baited breath to see if the most famous finger in the consumerist world will be reprimanded by the FCC, we’re guessing M.I.A is waiting just as anxiously to see what happens, especially since Janet Jackson‘s nip-slip cost CBS a cool $550,000. [Spin]
Alicia Keys And Bonnie Raitt Will Honor Etta James At The Grammys
Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt will duet in honor of Etta James at the Grammys, and they’ve got a lot to live up to after Christina Aguilera‘s stirring rendition of “At Last” at the late legend’s funeral. [Idolator]
Obama Looks To The Music Community For Support
President Obama has a wishlist of musicians he wants to support his re-election campaign including Arcade Fire, Janelle Monae, John Legend and Alicia Keys. What can we say? The guy’s got serious style. [NME]
Lana Del Rey’s People Get Sassy
Gawker has been unable to retrieve a comment from Lana Del Rey about the backlash from the weekend’s SNL performance, and her publicist has given a coy middle finger to the request by asking if Brian Williams has commented yet. Sassy. [Gawker]
The MGM Grand played host to a plethora of pop stars this weekend for the Clear Channel-sponsored iHeartRadio Festival, two nights of genre-spanning, crowd-pleasing pop music. A mix of veterans and newcomers thrilled the (reportedly very drunk) crowd on both nights. The most successful performers were those who stuck to a setlist of hits, like Jay-Z, who may have performed “On To The Next One” but didn’t take its advice about his old songs, including favorites from The Blueprint and The Black Album alongside newer singles like “Empire State of Mind” (with a guest appearance by earlier performer Alicia Keys). Those whose songs were less well-known by the crowd, like Sublime with Rome, were less well-received.
Perhaps the big surprise of the weekend, according to reports, was Jennifer Lopez, who, in a set that spanned her musical career, proved supremely capable of standing among the pop titans of today (with a Pitbull feature on “On the Floor”). Saturday’s “special guest” Sting also more than pulled his weight, backing Steven Tyler on bass early in the evening, then joining Lady Gaga for performances of “Stand By Me” and his own “King of Pain.”
Every now and again, a story surfaces that we really, really, really don’t want to believe is true. Yesterday’s unsubstantiated rumor that Swizz Beatz is cheating on Alicia Keys is certainly one of them, and after reading the text from a series of alleged Blackberry Messenger conversations between the Grammy-winning producer and a Houston singer/songwriter who goes by Christina Elizabeth, we’re crossing our fingers that this news is only unconfirmed balderdash.
Swizz and Alicia have always maintained that their own romance was not birthed from an affair, but because it began so soon after he was separated from then-wife Mashonda Tifrere, some may be quick to speculate that it was only a matter of time until an infidelity of this nature would occur. Up until this point, however, the happily married couple have only responded through tweets: Alicia seemingly calling the rumors “laughable” and Swizz saying they’re “BS” and making a plea to have people put their energy into more “positive things.” Just this past weekend, the couple were seen hand-in-hand at Fashion Week events, and Alicia is featured on “International Party,” the second single off of Swizz’s new album Haute Living, which drops next week.
Jeff Bhasker has worked with a slew of talented artists, penning and producing songs for Drake’s Thank Me Later, Alicia Keys’ The Element of Freedom, Jay-z’s Blueprint III, and Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreaks and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With legit hits under his belt, it should be no surprise that his discerning ear also has some strong opinions. But sometimes, opinions are like a-holes, are they not??
Yesterday, when the producer who most recently worked on Beyonc?’s 4 album (“I Care,” “Party,” and “Rather Die Young”) took to Twitter to?criticize former Destiny’s Child vocalist Kelly Rowland’s current hit “Motivation,” you could almost hear the record player come to a screeching stop. Confused as to why a song “with the weakest beat and melody of all time” could catapult Kelly to #1 on the Urban chart, Bhasker wound up justifying the feat by crediting at the song’s featured verse from rapper Lil Wayne.