In a season busied with festivals, iHeartRadio has proven itself in just two years to be a formidable force when it comes to bringing in the big acts. The Clear Channel festival debuted last year with a lineup chocked full of marquee names like Jay-Z, Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj. And by the looks of the lineup released this morning, this year’s show will be as big a blowout as the last.
If you were to take a quick glance at the Billboard Hot 100, you would have no idea that our country is still digging its way out from the biggest pile of economic rubble since the Great Depression. Now, that’s not to say that pop music needs to be anything other than escapist in nature, or that people should be turning to the radio when they feel the need to wallow in depression; after all, that’s what cable news is for! Rather, it’s more to note that most pop-leaning artists (and the labels that support them) have largely turned a blind eye to the recent woes of our country, certainly more so than, say, country-leaning artists have.
Enter B.o.B and Taylor Swift, who collaborated on the song “Both Of Us,” which is the third single of Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr.’s latest LP, Strange Clouds. On an album chock full of supsterstar cameos —shout-out to Morgan Freeman!— this particular pairing on this particular pairing is nothing less than inspired. The song revolves around regular day folk undergoing hardships, like not having enough food in the fridge, or having to make the difficult choice between having their cars repossessed or paying their rent on time, and B.o.B’s hard scrabble rhymes are perfectly accentuated by Taylor’s uplifting lilt on the hook. It’s not exactly what most would describe as a “summer jam,” but truth be told, the way it stands in such contrast to today’s fluffier material is exactly what makes it stand out.
Country cutie Taylor Swift and You Oughta Know artist Ed Sheeran have been logging lots of studio hours together, working hard — mostly! — on the follow-up to Swift’s Speak Now. Last night, the two took a break from whatever they’ve got cooking there to record this acoustic duet of Sheeran’s hit, “Lego House.” And it’s pretty much the sweetest thing you will see today.
Posted to Twitter late last night by Swift, the Viddy finds the two in her kitchen, on the floor in front of the stove, where Sheeran strums an acoustic version of his hit, “Lego House,” while Swift harmonizes. We’ll have to wait to hear what more they’ve got in the works, but, for now, this glimpse shows a promising chemistry between the two.
And as for Sheeran, he will be on VH1′s Big Morning Buzz Live tomorrow to celebrate the stateside release of his debut album, +.
Yoann Lemoine, aka Woodkid, is a man of many great talents. You may not know the name yet, but you’ve seen his work in the form of music videos from Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” to Drake and Rihanna’s“Take Care” and Taylor Swift’s “Back to December.” The French indie musician, graphic designer and music video director released his first EP Iron last year. More recently he directed “Run Boy Run,” which is the video to his new single. And we’re running alright– our finger over the replay button.
It’s an entire black and white video, which makes the cinematography that much more impressive. A young boy runs with tears streaming down his face into another world because the world he’s in “isn’t meant for [him].” Nature and an obscure white building are the only other things in sight until eagles and a monster made of hay suddenly appear. We won’t tell you what happens next because you have to watch the video!
With minimum props Woodkid creates a phenomenal graphic piece of art. We were hypnotized by the beautiful simplicity of a little boy running with a sword with not much else going on. We predict his phone to be ringing off the hook with the biggest stars putting in a bid for his music video direction. At least that’s what we’d do if we were musicians.
Sold out shows don’t mean a hill of beans to the Indonesian police who will not grant Lady Gaga a permit for her June 3rd “Born This Way Ball” concert. We thought it was nearly impossible to dislike the world class superstar. Boy were we wrong. According to the AP, lawmakers and conservative hard-liners protested Gaga’s upcoming show because “her sexy clothes and dance moves will corrupt the youth.” Under pressure the national police spokesman, Boy Rafli Amar, denied the permit. What in the world did they do when Madonna was at her prime? Madonna’s unapologetic sex appeal makes Lady Gaga look like Taylor Swift.
The Indonesia performance would have been the biggest of Gaga’s Asian tour with 52,000 fans filling Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno stadium seats. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world with 240 million people. Local conservatives felt the explicit nature of Gaga’s show would compromise the nation’s moral fiber, according to the AP. If her music or performance can jeopardize 52,000 people’s moral fiber, they may have a bigger problem than Lady Gaga. As if putting a stop to the singer’s concert wasn’t heartbreaking enough, those who purchased tickets may or may not be refunded. When you’ve been banned from a country, you have officially made it.
We here at VH1 are strong believers that mothers are worthy of appreciation 365 days a year. That said, this Sunday is the official day we honor those special women in our lives. Seeing as how music has always been expressive and a reflection of the artist’s own life, it only makes sense that everyone from Tupac to Taylor Swift have created songs expressing their love for the woman that brought them into the world. Those songs cover the entire spectrum, from light and fun to heartfelt and emotional. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve put together a Spotify playlist of our all-time favorite songs dedicated to moms. Since we don’t sing or rap, we’re leaving it to those that do to honor all the mamas. Happy Mother’s Day!
1. “Dear Mama”- Tupac
Tupac’s ode to his mother Afeni Shakur has to be one of the most touching and well known dedication songs in music.
2. “Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood
In this guitar heavy country song, Underwood reassures her mom that her husband to be is a great man, and marrying him doesn’t mean her mom is losing her.
3. “Hey Mama”- Kanye West
“It don’t got to be Mother’s Day or your birthday for me to call and say, ‘Hey, mama.’” When Kanye made this fun track for his mother, we never imagined it’d be the very song he’d perform in her honor after her death. Counting our lucky stars that she was able to hear it before she passed.
4. “The Best Day” – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift probably has a lot of great days seeing as how she’s one of the biggest country singers and all. But spending quality time with her mom tops the list of best days she’s ever had.
When Boyz II Men’s “A Song For Mama” played on the popular late 90s movie Soul Food, eyes welled with tears. Soulful voices singing lyrics that helms mothers as Queens would make any mama proud. Read more…
B.o.B. continues to think outside the box with his sophomore album, Strange Clouds. Elements of various musical genres —from hip-hop to jazz to country— can be heard throughout. The singer, songwriter, rapper and producer skyrocketed to success with his two monster smashes “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes”, both crossover tracks that featured somewhat unlikely artists singing the hook (Bruno Mars and Hayley Williams, respectively). Based on how commercially successful each of these songs were, it seems as if B.o.B. is eager to try replicate their success, as he’s recruited a number of collaborators for tracks on his new album. Whether they are household names like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, or newcomers like Lauriana Mae, the variety of artists on the album is quite impressive. We ranked each of the songs that feature other artists, and it’s not what you’d expect.
9. “Strange Clouds” feat. Lil Wayne – We don’t know what’s up with Weezy, but his flow hasn’t quite been the same since he got outta the joint. A song about partying, drinking and smoking all night has to have an element to it that makes the listener want to partake in the fun. We don’t know if it’s believable here.
8. “Out Of My Mind” feat. Nicki Minaj: We’re getting an outer space vibe on this one. And is it just us or did B.O.B. slightly sound like Ludacris? Either way, Nicki does what she does best on this track. She plays with different animated voices, she raps, she sings. Repeat. It’s fine, but it’s nothing transcendent.
7. “Arena” feat. Chris Brown and T.I.: It’s Chris Brown and T.I., folks! Not sure that much else needs to be written other than with this trio we’re certain it will be a fan favorite.
The profile of The Civil Wars has been raised considerably over the course of the last year. In fact, it was one year ago when the band was named our You Oughta Know artist and performed an intimate set here in our lobby on the 20th floor of VH1 headquarters here in New York City. Since that fateful day, the band has exploded in popularity, taking home two Grammys and recording not one but TWO songs for the wildly popular soundtrack to The Hunger Games. Their full VH1 Unplugged set (brought to you by State Farm) will premiere here on VH1 Tuner tomorrow, but until then, we have this sneak peak of their song from said soundtrack, “Kingdom Come,” for you above.
When we attended the taping, we asked them about the refrain of the song, which goes “Don’t you fret, my dear / It’ll all be over soon / I’ll be waiting here for you.” Clearly, this line can be read a couple of different ways, from the very optimistic to the, well, sorta haunting. What was it that inspired this particular line?
“The first thing that came to mind was this overwhelming sense of ‘survival mode,’” John Paul White explained to us. “We knew that we wanted that to be the overlying theme of what we did. We didn’t want to be completely specific as to who we’re singing about, or who is singing to whom. And that’s the way we went about it.” (Video of this moment below.)
Everyone knows that the years 2000-2010 were not very good for the music industry. Thanks to a perfect storm of rapid technological shifts, widespread piracy, consumer apathy, and executive ineptitude, the industry suffered through a slump that nearly killed off the entire business model. That is, until Adele came along!
We’re being slightly facetious, but Adele is credited by many as having (temporarily) saved the music business. Her landmark album, 21, just sold its 8 millionth copy here in the United States, making it the 4th most successful album to be released on these shores in the last 10 years. Care to venture any guesses as to the two artists who have sold more copies of their respective albums than her? If you find yourself either stumped or looking for validation, we’ve got the Top 10 Selling Albums of the Last 10 Years for you below.
One of our favorite You Oughta Know artists, The Civil Wars, have made it to the cover of Billboard magazine, and while they say you should never judge a book by it’s cover, you can expect the accompanying story inside the publication to be every bit as enticing as the formidable couple staring down the camera on the front. Here is a band who, as relative unknowns three odd years ago, are now one of the most talked about, and not to mention talented young bands catching the attention of everyone from Taylor Swift to Hollywood. The Civil Wars (Joy Williams and John Paul White) met in 2008, at a meeting that both parties tried to cancel (it can only be described as intensely fortuitous that neither succeeded); shortly after they began writing music and White asked Williams to start a band, which she says was, “Like being asked to prom.”
Everything since has been somewhat of a fairytale, with the band catching the ear of super star Taylor Swift. “We were doing a West Coast run and Taylor got in touch with us to say she was working with Burnett on The Hunger Games” says Williams. The Civil Wars then joined Taylor in the studio and, “We wrote ["Safe & Sound"] within two-and-a-half hours, got in the studio and recorded vocals and the temp version in another two hours. Less than a month later it was up on iTunes. We had no idea an afternoon would culminate in a thing like that. She had great ideas-everything was really easygoing with her. Walking into the studio with Taylor and T Bone felt like the most natural thing in the world.” The band also opened for Swift at the Grammys with a brief one minute performance that attracted the attention of critics, and was largely touted as one of the best performances of the night, leading to a 178% spike in sales for the band the following week. The Civil Wars’ manager, Nate Yetton says, “The Grammy stage and performing almost a trailer for the song was kind of the next natural step in the progression of the band, being exposed to a much broader audience.”
The band describe Swift’s support as “surreal,” but we imagine the blink-you’ll-miss-it rise to fame might be described the same way. Williams reflects on the bands success: “If John Paul and I had met at a different time I think we would’ve had an afternoon of a co-write and maybe missed something that could have been special… It set the tone surprisingly at an early stage. We said, ‘Let’s just do what we love and write music that we’re proud of and throw everything else to the wind.” White shares a similar sentiment, “I don’t want to paint us as so forward-thinking in this… There was a bit of naivety on our part. We didn’t have a label so we didn’t have anyone stopping us. It was just us following our noses.” The interview is intriguing, as are The Civil Wars; you can read more at Billboard.com.