Bearded guru of the recording studio, Rick Rubin has been one of music’s top producers since making his bones as staff producer and creative head of Def Jam Records in the early ‘80s. While his seminal work with Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J and The Beastie Boys cemented his status early on, starting with 1990’s American Recordings by country legend Johnny Cash, Rubin has become the go-to guy for artists trying to recapture their mojo and launch a career comeback. Like any truly great producer, Rubin’s greatest asset is his ears and his ability to match artists with great material or bring out the greatness of their own talents. It’s no wonder everyone from Jay-Z, for whom he produced “99 Problems,” to heavy metal hall of famers Black Sabbath have him on speed dial. The following are the greatest comeback albums he has produced.
Happy July 4th, everyone! In honor of America’s 237th b-day, we thought we’d pay tribute to five patriotic artists who have been known to rep the US of A through thick and thin. Many musicians (rightly!) use their art as a way to criticize things about the American country and culture that they feel are in need of change, but the five artists that we have selected here are about as pro-America as you can get.
[Photos: Getty Images]
America’s Sweetheart turned Tim Burton muse turned shoplifting pariah, Winona Ryder, will always be the coolest girl of all time. Okay, the coolest woman, as she officially turns 41 years old today. No matter her age, we’ll always remember her as *the* It Girl, not to mention star of films with the coolest soundtracks. We’d like to think she’s had a hand in the soundtracks–the girls has dated rock stars from Pete Yorn and Evan Dando to Chris Isaak and Beck.
Last night, X Factor contestant Chris Rene sang a song he had written himself, “Where Do We Go From Here.” Chris gave an endearing performance, sitting mid-stage on a stool and strumming an acoustic guitar. Super sweet and beachy (a little bit Jack Johnson, maybe? Remember that guy?), the performance was received by the judges with an outpouring of praise, even from Simon Cowell who called the performance “a stroke of genius.” The audience agreed in a cacophony of applause, and Stevie Wonder even made a personal call to tell Chris “You are inspiring me right now. We’re thinking Chris might have taken the lead in the competition — who better to win a musical talent contest than one who is not only musically talented, but multi-talented?
HIGHLIGHT: The use of remixes in performance segments. Even excluding the two Britney Spears features (records that we like, but which could be industry warning signs), Ke$ha‘s performance featured a segment of the Cirkut remix of “Blow,” and Cee Lo Green‘s medley included an extended version of the spaghetti-Western break that Danger Mouse sampled for the “Crazy” beat, plus an electro remix of “Forget You.”
LOWLIGHT: Britney’s feature spots themselves. It’s hard to know what to make of her enervated performances, especially when her companion was practically using his arm as a seatbelt on her when they were in the audience, and while her father is insisting she’s mentally unfit to give legal testimony, but she was handily shown up by both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj (who first came out dressed as a member of G.I. Joe nemeses C.O.B.R.A. only to have that armor stripped off her by someone in a chicken suit, and then replicated the lapdance choreography she performs on tour). This does not bode well for her upcoming tour, but more than that, we’re just worried about her!
HIGHLIGHT: Cee Lo, on the other hand, was in fine form, and we salute his continuing stylistic tributes to Elton John. ?Apparently the Muppet-”Crocodile Rock” Grammys homage wasn’t a one-off, judging by Green’s bedazzled outfit and glasses (not to mention the piano, which he didn’t appear to play at all).