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:
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.
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.
We hate to say we told you so, but… we told you so! All year we’ve been bringing you the best new music so you can stay aurally informed, and if you’ve been doing your homework and keeping abreast of the hottest new acts with us, you’ll notice that more than a few of our amazing You Oughta Know artists, both past and present, scored well-deserved props when the 2013 Grammy Nominees were announced tonight.
Our You Oughta Know alumni scored an impressive 17 nominations in total, including four nominations in the big four categories. Our February 2012 YOK artist Gotye picked up a nomination for Record Of The Year for his song “Somebody I Used To Know,” a song that he performed for a standing room only crowd in our 20th floor lobby earlier this year; our May 2012 You Oughta Know artist Ed Sheeran scored a nomination for Song Of The Year for his haunting ballad “The A Team”; our July pick, The Lumineers, were nominated for Best New Artist; and our YOK friends from way back in 2010, Mumford & Sons, picked up a nod in the Album Of The Year category for their massive new LP, Babel.
Here’s a complete list of the 2013 Grammy nominations that our awesome YOK alums took home tonight. #proud Read more…
A bit of sad news and a hopeful promise to begin your morning: You Oughta Know standouts, VH1 Unpluggedveterans, Grammy winning and just generally beloved Americana duo, The Civil Wars, announced last night in a note posted to their Facebook page that they have called off the remainder of their tour. The duo cited “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition” as the reason for the change of plans, but were sure to assure that whatever hiccup they’re suffering right now will not be their end: “Our sincere hope is to have new music for you in 2013,” they write, giving us reason to believe that things are civil still. They plan on reimbursing tickets, and have generously promised to “do their best” to cover any non-refundable service charges or travel reservations fans have already made.
Below, their note. And then a video of the duo performing “Barton Hollow” Unplugged — some sugar to down the sad news.
Nashville is a really good show, you guys. If you think it’s going to be like some Country Strong knockoff, or if the thought of Hayden Panettiere singing will make you want to un-save the cheerleader (Heroes callback! Remember Heroes?), I can assure you that neither of those scenarios are the case. Nashville is soapy network TV at its best with unrequited love stories, illegitimate children whose paternity will probably get discovered soon enough, and a rivalry of old talent (well, Connie Britton old, so still youngish and hot) competing with new ingenue (Panettiere, who is younger and by certain Hollywood definitions, hotter). And the music on the show, which is executive produced by T. Bone Burnett, is so, so good. These folks aren’t messing around. Using real Nashville locations (The Grand Ole Opry, The Bluebird Cafe), she show mixes fact and fiction and employs a stable of established songwriters to provide the music for the show. For a list of all the music featured, ABC has created a music page found here.
Each week, I’ll be giving a rundown of my favorite music from the show, and since I’m a little behind, and we’re coming off of episode three, I’ll start with a quick refresher of the best songs so far, and their impressive pedigree. Read more…
Ultimately how a music festival closes on the last day for its 70,000 connoisseurs of music is how its success will be judged. Friday is perhaps a bit blurry, the rain possibly overshadowed Saturday’s performances, and then there’s Sunday—the final day of Austin City Limits, potentially the most memorable for fans. Ending the three day music extravaganza with the Red Hot Chili Peppers is how one properly concludes a festival.
Trekking across the park to Gary Clark Jr.’s show was much easier without the muddy grass Saturday’s rain created. After he blew us away with an incredible performance it’s easy to understand why he’s a rising star in the making. For “When My Train Pulls In” he worked the guitar like he was playing for his life. It didn’t matter that he didn’t start singing until nearly four minutes as long as he didn’t stop stringing that guitar. He’s so skilled he barely looked at the instrument during “Ain’t Messin ‘Round,” which impressed pretty much everyone. His sound was a mix between rock, country and blues with a dose of GCJ flavor. With the help of his awesome band, “Don’t Owe You A Thang” inspired the crowd to clap along to the rhythm, shouting whenever they saw fit. Read more…
You Oughta Know artist, Unplugged veteran and history maker — remember how she performed pregnant? — and one-half of the Grammy Award winning duo Civil Wars Joy Williams has added “Mother” to her already impressive résumé. Williams and her husband, the Civil Wars’ manager Nate Yetton, brought a baby boy into the world on Saturday. Welcome, Miles Alexander! “Now I really know what love at first sight means,” she gushed on Twitter. “All happy and healthy.” A hearty congrats to all!
The Civil Wars made history with their Unplugged show, as singer Joy Williams became the first artist in the 22-year history of the program to perform while pregnant. Of course, this reminded us of when M.I.A. sang on The Grammys back in 2009 while she was 9 months pregnant. So, naturally, we asked Joy (who is due in June) about it.
“Dude! M.I.A. on the Grammys was so amazing with that bullseye awesomeness and spandex!,” she explained (video below). “Well, I was going to wear that, but she totally bogarted the awesome spandex idea.”
“So I’m going to,” John Paul White jumped in. “A strategic bullseye.”
Well, dear readers, we can all be thankful that didn’t happen.
As The Civil Wars joked during the taping of their VH1 Unplugged set a few weeks back, they’re a duo that already performs “unplugged” most of the time, generally using an acoustic guitar or piano to deliver their songs. Knowing that, you wouldn’t necessarily think that the duo would gravitate towards performing a cover of a 1993 trip-hop classic, but once you hear their take on “Sour Times” (as originally performed by Portishead), you immediately understand how this fits into the band’s repetoire of seemingly offbeat covers.
“We’re lovers of all kinds of different music,” Joy Williams told us when we sat down with her before the show taped a few weeks back. “If we’re able to pick something out of the lexicon where we both go, ‘You listened to that, too?’, it’s really fun for us to say ‘Ok, what can we do with it as a duo?’ The lyrics themselves, to Portishead, I sat down to read them and they’re so mysterious. I still don’t even quite know what we’re actually singing about, but I’m kind of into it. It’s such a moody song!” (VIDEO BELOW.)
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.)
It’s been a little bit over a year since The Civil Wars were named VH1′s You Oughta Know artist, and what a year it’s been! The duo, made up of John Paul White and Joy Williams, went from being virtual unknowns to two-time Grammy winners thanks to the outstanding batch of songs that appears on their debut LP, Barton Hollow. Still riding high after their Grammy success back in February, they’re on a bit of a victory lap at the moment: They have not one but TWO songs on the super successful soundtrack for The Hunger Games, they’re in the early phases of writing for their follow-up, and they just taped a brand new episode of VH1 Unplugged, which is scheduled to make its online debut on May 1.
As a means of whetting your appetite in advance of next Tuesday’s Unplugged premiere, we’d like to present to you the latest installment of our exclusive photographic series here on VH1 Tuner, Music Seen. A lot has changed since Joy and John Paul shot their last Music Seen here at our VH1 headquarters in Times Square last May, and we’re not just talking about the critical and industry acclaim. Joy and her husband, Nate Yetton, are expecting their first child in June, which makes Joy the first person to perform an Unplugged set while pregnant in the show’s 22 year history. She definitely had the radiant glow that you always hear about, which you can see in our set of amazing photographs that Colin Gray shot in Harlem’s Metropolis Studios last week.