by (@zaragolden)

Last Lap: D’Angelo Joins the BET Awards Line-Up

D’ANGELO ONBOARD TO PLAY BET AWARDS
He’s been popping up right and left, and this will be his first televised performance in more than a decade and you probably won’t want to miss it. [Complex]

“BAD GIRLS” GETS THE BAD GIRL REMIX IT DESERVES
Missy’s back! Switch throws Rye Rye and Missy Elliott on the remix of the already banging M.I.A. track. It’s going to be a hot summer. [Spin]

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Beyonce, M.I.A., Justin Timberlake, Kanye West And More Of Our Favorite Musicians Get Dressed In Couture For The Met Gala

Beyonce, M.I.A., Justin Timberlake, Kanye West at the MET

Many of our favorite musicians were all about glitz and glam at last night’s annual Met Gala in New York City. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, hosted by Vogue, is a night celebrating the opening of the museum’s fashion exhibit. Celebrity, fashion, couture, oh my! Think of the Oscars mixed with NYC Fashion Week and you have the visual of the red carpet at the Met Gala.

Artists from Beyoncé to Mick Jagger to Lana Del Rey to Kanye West turned heads on the red carpet with their stunning attire. It’s totally cool to see your favorite musicians taking a break from their walk-around-the-streets-of-LA gear and see them dolled up in Valentino and Rachel Zoe and Givenchy. Beyoncé, in particular, was a show stopper for the night in her sheer Givenchy gown. Solange was absolutely stunning in an all yellow Rachel Roy dress. Justin Timberlake kept it classic with an all black tux. Take a peek at some of our favorite musicians that put the “S” in stunning.

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[Photos: Getty Images]

by (@kat_george)

Last Lap: 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. 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]

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by (@kat_george)

How Do You Feel About M.I.A.’s “Controversial” Middle Finger Salute During The Super Bowl Halftime Show?

How much controversy can one empty gesture cause? If today’s Internet furor is anything to go by, a lot. In a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment (we didn’t even blink and we missed it the first time around!) during last night’s Super Bowl half time performance, rapper M.I.A. gave cameras the middle finger live on stage, as she suggestively sang “I don’t give a shhhh…” during Madonna‘s “Give Me All Your Luvin’”. In an vain attempt to erase the ‘obscene’ gesture, the broadcast blurred seconds later — but it was too late! We already saw it! That dreaded, awful… Middle finger! GASP!

Of the ‘incident’, Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL said, “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” while NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said, “The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.” We feel like we really missed something here — on the spectrum of one to controversial in the Madonna-sphere, a flipped bird seems pretty weak.

We were really expecting the show to yield some real controversy — Madonna stealing a kiss with Nicki perchance (not that we think there’s anything wrong with that, but we imagine it really would have caused a stir!), or something along the lines of a boundary-pushing, 80s Madonna. Instead what we got was a half-baked push of the button, and not even by Madonna herself. It’s unclear whether or not the action was staged; if it was orchestrated by Madonna, we think it’s a cop out on her part to have the non-white, UK artist make the move. However, if it was an impromptu movement on M.I.A’s part, it seems like a fairly desperate attempt to reclaim the title of “edgy” pop star after the truffle fries incident.

Either way, the flipped bird was school-yard level offensive at best — and it seems like detractors were expecting to have something to gripe about before they even saw the show, so are grasping at straws to find something perturbing about the performance. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and in this case, the complaint-mongers are milking that bird for all it’s worth.

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by (@kat_george)

What’s Your Dream Set List For Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance?

You haven’t seen excitement until you’ve seen us talking about Madonna’s Super Bowl half time show. It’s palpable, electric, maybe a little bit Pointer Sisters — basically, we’re doing all that we can to stay calm for the next 72 hours or so. In order to curb our energy into something a bit more productive, we’ve spent the morning playing Madonna‘s Musical Director and coming up with both predicted and dream setlists for her roughly 12-15 minute show. See what you think and if you agree — let us know what your dream set is in the comments section!

PREDICTED SET LIST by Mark Graham (@unclegrambo):
“Ray Of Light” / “Give Me All Your Luvin’ (featuring Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.)” / “Express Yourself” / “Vogue” / “Music”

Billions of people will be watching Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show, so there’s no doubt that she’ll be feeling the adrenaline and deliver a high energy, dance-y set for the fans. “Ray Of Light” is a very recognizable track that will get fans out of their seats and grooving from the get-go, at which point she can safely transition into the requisite “Go buy my new single!” part of the show. After she welcomes (and then quickly boots) Nicki Minaj and M.I.A to/from the stage, she’ll move into the portion of her set that, to paraphrase her backup dancer, “brings the gay.” Playing “Express Yourself” will be a subtle “In your face!” to Lady Gaga, and “Vogue” (maybe with Cee Lo?) would get both the fans in Indianapolis and on their couches all over the world going berserk. Closing with “Music” —featuring its anthemic chorus of “Music makes the people get together”— would be the most frenzied way to end her short set, and send everyone who’s watching off thinking “I LOVE MADONNA!”

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by (@kat_george)

Last Lap: Madonna Announces Her Love And Admiration For Nicki Minaj And M.I.A.

Madonna Announces Her Love And Admiration For Nicki Minaj And M.I.A.
Madonna‘s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” and forthcoming appearance at the Super Bowl both feature appearances by M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, of whom Madonna has said “They’re not conventional pop stars and I really admire them both. I love both of them actually.” We’re guessing having the Queen Of Pop say things like that about you is going to be both humbling and ego boosting, so a big round of applause for the “non-conventional” gals! [NME]

Katy Perry Added To Already Impressive List Of Grammys Performers
Katy Perry is the latest artist to be added to the ever growing list of impressive names set to play at the Grammys. As if we weren’t already excited enough about Adele and Rihanna et al, well, let’s just say there may or may have not been an impromptu sing-a-long to “Teenage Dream” in one writer’s cubicle this afternoon upon hearing the news… [Neon Limelight]

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by (@Lacezilla)

Like An Interpreter, Tinie Tempah Drops Gems on UK Hip Hop and Lists His Stateside Favorites

On Tuesday, we shared some of Tinie Tempah’s thoughts on mentally transitioning from the UK to the US as an up-and-coming artist in the hectic world of hip-hop. Because the London native goes back and forth across the pond so frequently, we also asked Tinie to give us a cheat sheet of sorts, helping to get us looped-in to the who’s who of British rap. Check out his list of personal favorites below, because after all, you never know if one of these guys might be next.

GIGGS (IF YOU LIKE: Gucci Mane)
“Definitely be on the lookout for Giggs, he?s doing his thing,” preached Tinie. After collaborating with B.o.B and a slew of other big-name British rappers, Giggs continues spitting coke-rap bars for days. Style-wise, Tinie compared him to both Young Jeezy and Gucci; embodying the hustler image, Giggs served a two-year bid for a gun charge back in 2003, but inked with XL Recordings (see: M.I.A., Tyler, The Creator, Dizzee Rascal) to distribute his third solo LP next year off of self-made label, SN1 Entertainment.

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News Of Amy Winehouse’s Passing Continues To Ripple Through Community Of Performers, Fans

Ever since news broke that Amy Winehouse had been found dead at 27, the outpouring of grief (including dozens of comments on our announcement) has been a stark reminder of how much, and to how many people, Winehouse continued to matter as an artist. Fans have left tribute comments not only on Winehouse’s own videos on YouTube, but also barely-related ones like Britney Spears’s “If You Seek Amy,” just because they’re looking for any outlet to grieve. As we noted earlier, a range of performers voiced tribute on Twitter, but for some, 140 characters wasn’t enough.

Big Boi shared a previously unreleased Dungeon Family remix of her song “Tears Dry On Their Own”:

Another musical tribute came courtesy of M.I.A., who’d recorded a demo of a tribute to friends who’d died at 27, and when she heard about Amy Winehouse, tweeted a link to the (unfinished and unreleased) track as a tribute to Winehouse, yet another friend who’d passed at that age:

Several performers blogged touching tributes. Adele‘s “Amy Flies in Paradise xx”, praised the way in which both her sheer talent and her unwillingness to compromise led to a minor sea change in British pop: “Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again whilst being fearlessly hilarious and blas? about the whole thing. I don?t think she ever realised just how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her even more charming.”

And although the autopsy has just begun today, and toxicology reports will take weeks, the popular consensus is that Winehouse’s death was caused, directly or indirectly, by her struggles with addiction. Dr. Drew tweeted, “SO sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible, but sadly not for Amy Winehouse.” But perhaps the most touching tribute on this subject comes from Russell Brand, a fellow performer who famously struggled with issues of addiction. His post For Amy, about the inevitability of one of two types of “the phone call,” is a must-read. We recommend you click through to it, but the multitude of hits has swamped his site, so just in case you can’t get through, we’ve reposted his tribute in its entirety below.

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Top 20 Albums of the Year (11-15)

Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year?s releases, and for the past two Thursdays, we?ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

LCD Soundsystem, Sounds of Silver (DFA)

11_lcdsoundsystem.jpgJames Murphy is the patron saint of downtown cool, and anything he or his record label touches instantly becomes an indie treasure. What?s most extraordinary about his sophomore release is its accessibility — at its heart, this is a bubblegum pop record, and not the salty organic kind of gum you buy at the health food co-op, either. We?re talking Bubblicious here, people. Long renowned for long-playing dance-floor remixes and shoe-shopping house beats — his other record this year, 45:33, provides an excellent example of that — Murphy?s work on Sounds of Silver is discreet, short and frequently to the point. ?North American Scum? is precisely the kind of song you want with you at the gym, a self-deprecating slice of upbeat funk with lyrics that?ll never make the Republicans happy: ?New York?s the greatest if you get someone to pay the rent . . . and it?s the furthest you can live from the government.? Then there?s the new wavy ?Someone Great? and ?All My Friends,? a song so suffused with nostalgia and desire it sounds like it belongs in a John Hughes movie. It?s excellent, easy to listen to and innately underground, and it?s been a long time since those three elements intersected in a pop album. Yes, there?s a sense of unrequited longing here, but so much the better for Murphy if he keeps producing work like this.

M.I.A., Kala (INTERSCOPE)

12_mia.jpg For her second album, thinking-liberal’s pop star M.I.A. traded political sloganeering and an abundance of hooks for something much simpler: an album of bangers, bamboo and otherwise. Compared to her 2005 debut, Arular, Kala‘s beats are more propulsive, its messages are more opaque and its cultural mining is even stronger. The resulting album is all prowess and ire and recontextualized sound. It is, at heart, a hip-hop record, and because it’s so effective and singular and forward-thinking, it’s the heart of hip-hop in ’07, period. As always, M.I.A.’s speak-singy vocals turn charisma into a fine art. Her personality is so huge, she’d have Rihanna‘s career if the world were fair. But then, her whole point seems to lie in reminding us that it isn’t.

Band of Horses, Cease To Begin (SUB POP)

13_bandofhorses.jpg Let?s forgive them the fact that their songs are all about mood and aura, rather than ?feelings? or the problems that bring those ?feelings? about. And let?s forgive them the fact that the singer veers into Supertramp territory now and again. Let?s just bathe in the eerie pomp of the chiming guitars and the rhythm section?s splashy forward motion. Like U2 sleeping over at the Jayhawks? house, these guys make melancholy anthems that love to reverberate everywhere before they slink home with the echoes dissipating in the distance. Maybe it?s their recent move to North Carolina, but for a grandiose outfit there sure are quite a few moments where twang takes over. Dream pop disc of the year.

Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO RECORDS)

14_radiohead.jpgIt was a David & Goliath tale, if David were a band of insanely talented mope rockers and Goliath was the desperately floundering record industry. In short, the band revolutionized the music industry in 42 minutes and 34 seconds, with 10 songs: The band would offer its newest effort, In Rainbows, and whatever folks felt fit to pay, well, that?s the price of the album. It would be considered an impressive move by a lesser band. That the band was one of the most popular, and simultaneously respected, outfits in music today only compounds the coup. But to concentrate solely on marketing techniques, the implications of morality and the free market economic discussions this generates would miss the point: the band has made a gorgeous album. From the glitchy snares and waltzing jazz guitar of ?15 Steps? to the stark, maker-meeting ?Videotape? that seems to take its percussion from a funeral march, the album shows a marked change in the four years its been since Hail to the Thief. Gone is the politically tinged rock invective, and the verse-chorus-verse songs. Radiohead has made an opus, difficult to splice into song, and utterly captivating throughout.

The Shins, Wincing the Night Away (SUB POP)

15_theshins.jpg It?s amazing James Mercer can get a word out, let alone an album, without choking altogether. Following the release of Oh, Inverted World, indie director Zach Braff latched on to it, using the majority of the album as the soundtrack to his movie, and even having his protagonist Natalie Portman utter the phrase: ?This band will change your life.? That the band went on to make two records improving on the home-recording-honed formulae James Mercer devised for their debut is a feat. With their melodic base well-established, the band appeared to move outward from that point; experimenting with sound (?Sea Legs,? with its plastic bags popping as percussion) as well as perspective (?Phantom Limb? tells the story of two teenage lesbians alienated at their school).

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Top 20 Singles of the Year (11-15)

As 2007 dwindles down, we?re taking a look back at our favorite tracks. Each Tuesday through the end of the month, we?ll sing the praises of the 20 songs that made our year. See what made the cut, and let us know what you think of our choices. Check out the last two posts to see what else is on our list.

Avril Lavigne, ?Girlfriend,? from The Best Damn Thing (RCA)

11_avril.jpgTake the infectious cheer-squad shout of Toni Basil‘s “Mickey,” add some glean from chart-topping uber-producer Dr. Luke, and write lyrics directed at the most tech-savvy market in the country (14-year-old girls) and you?ll understand why Avril Lavigne‘s “Girlfriend” was her highest ranking single to date. Avril?s fans forgave her her newly wedded status and bought her barbed entreaties to an already attached guy to ditch his girlfriend (never has ?She?s like, so whatever,? sounded like such a compelling argument). During the verse she rarely deviates into tune, sticking with her bratty schoolyard chants and marrying mall punk guitars with positively jubilant pop. All handclaps and sass, the video has Avril pulling triple-duty, playing her blonde self, a boyfriend-stealing brunette and a red-headed prude. While the message of the song is far from female empowerment, it seems she?s finally embraced a less abrasive side, making the unabashed pop music she?s faulted others for in the past.

Soulja Boy, ?Crank That,? from Souljaboytellem.com (INTERSCOPE)

12_souljaboy.jpgYa gots ta be multi-format these days, and there was no better example of video aiding and abetting audio than this ATL kiddo?s uber-ubiquitous, ultra-catchy dance anthem. His MySpace page was thick with how-to clips (please, don?t mess up the Superman section) and messages from trillions of fans. YouTube was loaded with tributes and satires, from yarmulke doo-rags to Santa?s elves gliding to the groove. So, yeah, DeAndre Ramone Way wasn?t fibbing when he said his reach stretched ?from the Internet to Main Street.? There?s glory in one-hit-wonderville, and even though one Web commenter rightly declared that Soulja Boy blabbered ?on the mic like he just woke up,? the song of the summer (sorry, Rihanna) proved to be a bubblecrunk gem.

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