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 (reportedlyvery 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’sThank Me Later, Alicia Keys’The Element of Freedom, Jay-z’sBlueprint III, and Kanye’s808s 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?’s4 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.
The 2011 BET Awards remembered the past while honoring the present last night in Los Angeles, with a full fifteen musical performances?mostly multiple-song medleys?that spanned decades and genres. We highly recommend you check out all of the performances, especially Mary J. Blige‘s mega-medley of “Mary Jane,” “Real Love,” “You Bring Me Joy,” “Rapture” (with Anita Baker) and “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over (with DJ Khaled and Jadakiss), and the Patti LaBelle tribute featuring Cee Lo (dressed as LaBelle!), Marsha Ambrosius, and Shirley Caesar.
The highlight of the night, though, was Alicia Keys‘s own four-song medley. She stood on her piano as she opened with new-old song “Typewriter,” a Songs in A Minor outtake that will be included on tomorrow’s 10th Anniversary reissue of the album. She took to the keys for single “A Woman’s Worth,” from the same album, for which she was joined by Bruno Mars on guitar and vocals. This wasn’t merely a throwback performance, though. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that?see Alexander O?Neal & Cherrelle‘s “Saturday Love”, which sounded as good as ever.) Rick Ross took the stage for a triumphant rendition of “Maybach Music 2,” with Keys providing T-Pain’s hook and Bruno Mars providing the guitar riff.
After she shouted out Rozay and Bruno Mars, Keys closed out her medley alone, with “Fallin’,” which retains its power and charm millions of radio plays and a decade later. We’re still processing the fact that these songs (except 2009′s “Maybach Music 2″) are all ten years old, and they sounded so good and fresh last night that we’re even more confused.
Death Cab For Cutie?s VH1 Storytellers is airing at 11 p.m. tonight on VH1, and since lead singer Ben Gibbard is now married to his indie beloved Zooey Deschanel, we got to thinking about music?s most powerful couples of the moment. Because these lists are often tricky to compile and put into an order that everyone can agree on, we took to the streets and polled over 5,000 people. JK! We actually did something smarter and more efficient, combining stats from Billboard charts, YouTube clicks, and social media followings, and mixed it with our interpretation of je ne sais quoi cool-factor buzz. Confident in our rankings, we hereby give you VH1?s list of the most powerful couples in music today.
Who did we miss? Care to offer up any suggestions of your own? Hit us up in the comments section below!
Janet Jackson never been the type to shy away from a good ol’ chat about sex (heck, she even told us her favorite songs to hypothetically make babies to), so when E! asked her who her girl crush was, Janet seemed eager to answer. Can you guess who the “Feedback” singer would want as her sapphic duet partner? Hint: she’s one of the singers pictured below.
The controversy over Nas‘ forthcoming ablum, Nigger, is growing more intense with news that one of its songs subverts the old Dr. Pepper jingle by replacing the word “Pepper” with the N-word:
“I’m a nigger, he’s a nigger,
she’s a nigger, we’re a nigger
Wouldn’t you like to be a nigger too?”
- From Nas’ “Be A Nigger Too” (Listen here)
Before this latest shocker, a lot had been written about who is in support of Nas’ album title (Jay-Z, Common, Alicia Keys, Don Imus) and who isn’t (NAACP, Jesse Jackson, 50 Cent). 50 Cent, among others, says Nas is going for “shock value.” The fact that rappers have embraced the word and rendered it less hurtful and more banal through overuse for at least two decades may lend some credence to his claim. Maybe this is why Nas’ earlier statement seemed kind of weak:
“I wanna make the word easy on muthaf***ers’ ears. You see how white boys ain’t mad at ‘cracker’ ’cause it don’t have the same [sting] as ‘nigger’? I want ‘nigger’ to have less meaning [than] ‘cracker.’”
But Nas’ new song could pull more people into his corner and back up Jay-Z’s earlier statement: “I know he’s very intelligent and there’s a reason behind what he’s doing.” Pairing a once-omnipresent commercial song that is childlike in its simplicity with one of the most incendiary words in the English language raises so many questions that it could make heads explode. Could Nas be commenting on how big business packages and sells just about anything to kids — from soft drinks to gangsta rap? Could he be attempting to hit back at the very commercialization that has damaged hip-hop as an art form? Could he be doing all of the above and stirring up controversy to sell albums, too?
Nas’ intentions may not yet be totally clear, but we’re all waiting to hear more. — Matt Muro
“That statement changes my perception of Alicia Keys totally,” the rapper is now saying. “But the magazine is standing behind it, which means they probably have a tape of her in conversation saying it. It’s just not really a bright comment anyway.” And in a tactic not employed since 50 left the playground, he added: “If she don’t like that, (then) I don’t like that classical music sh*t she be doing.” So there.
Piano-playing siren Alicia Keys recently opened up to Blendermagazine on everything from her conspiracy theories to her sexual side on her latest album, As I Am. Here are a few of the things we learned from Blender‘s cover story.
1. Alicia Keys almost lost her mind to make this record. “I’m the best wall builder that ever lived. These people were coming at me, asking me things, and they really didn’t care about me, but I had to give them everything. What did I have left for myself?” The result was that both Keys and her music got dark and weird. “I was hanging off the edge of a cliff. Something had to give, or I was gonna lose my mind.”
2. Gangsta Rap is a government tool. “Gangsta rap was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other,” says Keys.
3. Alicia’s discovered her sexual side. “I’m discovering my sexual side. I recorded this song – it’s supersimple: just piano, Rhodes keyboard and a kick drum. It’s so sensual. It moves you,” she says. Jeff Robinson, her manager, wasn’t exactly a fan: “he popped out of his seat halfway through. He said: ‘we do not record songs like this!’”