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Music’s Biggest Breakout Stars Of 2012

We’re three days away from ending 2012– the year the Mayan’s math didn’t quite add up–with a bang. Before we bid this year adieu we’ve documented the Best Ofs for the past 12 months; so during the next predicted Apocalypse rears its false head, we’ll reminisce on the Crunkest Songs of 2012 or 2012′s 8 Most Underated Singles or the Best Songs of 2012.

Our countdown continues with the 12 of Music’s Breakout Stars of 2012. It’s been a glorious year musically with diverse projects by promising new artists. While Frank Ocean‘s stardom is no surprise, who would’ve expected PSY to sing with Bieber‘s manager Scooter Braun? Meek Mill sketched his name in cement as one of hip-hop’s brightest stars this year transitioning from mixtape storyteller to mainstream success. How good 2013 will treat these breakout stars is unforeseeable, but with raised glasses let’s all toast to the year of stars coming out (no pun intended). Read more…

by (@unclegrambo)

The Best Albums Of 2012 (According To Your Friendly Neighborhood VH1 Staffers)

VH1 Best Albums Of 2012

Last week, we successfully brought you the VH1 staff’s favorite songs of 2011 without any bloodshed, and we’re happy to report that no one’s brain exploded while trying to narrow down the amazing albums of 2012 into a concise list. Again, what VH1 staffers enjoyed in 2012 was a rich and vibrant tapestry of genres, created both by newcomers and veterans.

As far as consensus is concerned, there were 23 LPs that appeared on multiple ballots, but only 6 that appeared on four or more lists: Miguel‘s Kaleidoscope Dream (7 ballots), Emeli Sandé‘s Our Version Of Events and Frank Ocean‘s channel ORANGE (6 ballots apiece), Kendrick Lamar‘s good kid, m.A.A.d. city (5 ballots), Taylor Swift‘s RED and Macklemore & Ryan LewisThe Heist (each with 4 ballots).

Now, on with the show!
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by (@zaragolden)

Huh? The 5 Weirdest Promotional Stunts Of 2012

Everyone knows that albums don’t sell — exceptions granted to all British neo-soul performers whose names begin with the letter “A” and end with “dele,” because their albums go Diamond — and so tasked with the challenge of assuring that their albums actually sell, artists have done away with the televised performance here, album singing there promotional tours of old in favor of elaborate stunts that include breaking world records, reuniting with abusive boyfriends, large pizza pies and selling at least a few extra records. Here are five of the wackiest pulled in the last 365 days:

by (@zaragolden)

The 9 Most Unexpectedly Delightful Musical Collaborations Of 2012

The year is running down, and like everyone else, we are bundling up our most memorable musical moments from the year into a slew of Best Of’s. Before we get to the more obvious lists — the best albums, the best songs — we thought we would have a little fun. First up: 9 delightful collaborations, made all the more so for their unexpectedness. We aren’t talking Watch The Throne-style of-course-they-would team-ups, we’re talking collaborations that we couldn’t in our wildest dreams have imagined or that we thought we would never see, like — well, these nine:

9. Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound”


Barton Hollow is totally “an indie record much cooler than mine,” but more careful observer might have predicted this unlikely but delightful collaboration, as Swift began yammering about her fellow Nashville transplants The Civil Wars on twitter long before this was even a possibility. We, however, were left breathless upon learning that one of the day’s biggest pop stars had teamed-up with one of our favorite You Oughta Know acts — and for a song for such a pivotal moment in the Hunger Games movie, no less! Joy Williams harmonizing turns Taylor’s girlish coo haunting, and John Paul White‘s patient guitar plucking gets the whole thing swirling.  See also: “The Last Time,” Taylor’s distressed duet with Gary Lightbody of Northern Ireland’s mostly absent as of late folk rock set Snow Patrol. Taylor is a slick machine when it comes to her music, and it was a surprise to see her reaching out of bounds for this one.

8. Ke$ha and Iggy Pop, “Dirty Pop”


Hard to believe as it may be given the boom box beats and all the sing-rapping that resulted, Warrior is allegedly a tribute to the genre Ke$ha loves the most: rock and roll. If you really strain your ears, you may hear some of that “old hippie rock” in the breakdown of “Die Young.” You won’t have to try so hard with “Dirty Pop,” which features Iggy Pop, a true and blue rock star and someone Ke$ha has spent a lot of time talking about through the years. The joy she must have felt the first time she heard him call her “Wild Child” on her own song is evident. See also: “2012,” K$’s duet with fellow weirdos The Flaming Lips.

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The Snippets For Nicki Minaj’s The Re-Up Album Are Here, What’s The Verdict?

Nicki Minaj Releases Snippets From The Re-Up

It’s about that time to Re-Up, folks. On November 19th Nicki Minaj‘s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up hits stores with eight new tracks. One disc will include eight new tracks featuring singles “Va Va Voom,” “The Boys” and “Freedom.” Adding to her Barbz’ suspense she released the snippets to the remaining unreleased songs. And like her first two albums Nicki can’t be confined to one box. Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

Lana Del Rey’s New Ten-Minute Video Is A Wild “Ride”

Do you remember the first time you saw the Lana Del Rey‘s “Video Games” video, that gauzy collage of images of pool parties and open road and Paz De La Huerta? It didn’t seem so different from the millions of other homemade montage videos posted to YouTube — save for that haunting voice of her, of course. But looking back now, the different images have been reborn and repacked as subsequent videos — the American flags became “National Anthem”, the tattooed skateboarder borrowed for “Blue Jeans” — like that first video was a rough draft. That being the case, this beautiful 10-minute video for “Ride,” the new single off Born To Die – The Paradise Edition, is “Video Games” fully fleshed out and her coup de grâce. Signed, sealed and delivered complete with a scene of Del Rey being bent over a pinball machine by a biker dude old enough to be her father. Like she says in the video: “Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them? I have. I am f***ing crazy. But I am free.” Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

Like Katy Perry, Marina and the Diamonds Play “The Starring Role”

Meet Marina and the Diamonds. This pretty, Welsh-Greek “Primadonna” has spent the past six weeks stateside touring with Coldplay, and she’s rounding out the trip out with a handful of New York dates to celebrate the release of her new record Electra Heart, including a special acoustic set on the roof of the Mondrian SoHo on Monday night. Marina arrived looking angelic in a beige crop top and glittery pencil skirt, and was awash in the twilight of the city sunset. Staked out in a corner of the roof where Brooklyn and Queens glowed behind her, she performed a five song set with only a keyboard and guitar to back her.

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Who Rocked “Ghetto Baby” Better: Lana Del Rey Or Cheryl Cole?

Lana Del Rey and Cheryl Cole "Ghetto Baby"

“Come on over ghetto baby, drop it like it’s hot girl,” Cheryl Cole and Lana Del Rey sing. Lana Del Rey is the latest victim to have her music leaked on the mean streets of the Internet. The expanded “Paradise” edition of Born to Die is due in November, but four new LDR songs recently leaked, including her version of “Ghetto Baby.” Originally penned by LDR, she gifted British singer Cheryl Cole with the song for Cole’s A Million Lights album. Although we’re not quite sure what a ghetto baby actually is, Cheryl’s version has a drum pattern that invokes a slight head nod. If we had to choose the potential dance worthy track, it’d be Cheryl’s. Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

Courtney Love Reminds Lana Del Rey That The “Heart Shaped Box” Is Hers

Courtney Love hasn’t said one way or another if she liked Lana Del Rey‘s Nirvana cover. But she’s insistent that one thing be clear before Del Rey goes on with the cover: that the song was originally written about Love’s very own, so-called heart shaped box. Kurt Cobain‘s once wife Tweeted — Twitter being her chosen vehicle for all thoughts unhinged and some things so true — and then deleted two messages @-ed to the attention of Del Rey that said: “you do know the song is about my Vagina right? “ and “so umm next time you sing it, think about my vagina will you? lol xc.” Well then! Cobain’s lyrics are charged with meaning and myth, and thankfully we have Love to defend what truths may be among them.

by (@zaragolden)

Covers to Catch: Lana Del Rey Does Nirvana, Kelly Clarkson Does Katy Perry

It’s Friday, and the internet has so kindly graced us with two worthy covers to drive us into the weekend:

Last night in Sydney, Lana Del Rey gave Nirvana‘s “Heart Shaped Box” a stormy and orchestral cover. Nirvana has come to be considered sacred territory, just ask Miley Cyrus, who took serious flack for her “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cover, but Lana’s haunting voice makes for an interesting tribute. Her obsession with fame is not without understanding of Kurt Cobain’s obsession with escaping fame, and her belts of “Hey, wait, I’ve got a new complaint” feel almost as tortured as Kurt’s devastating originals, and she somehow managed to make the brutal “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black” line sound feminine and delicate. This was a risk, but it seemed to work.

Kelly Clarkson‘s cover of Katy Perry‘s “Wide Awake” was far less of a stretch, and great nonetheless. Read more…