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.
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.
The DIY Story of the Year, Two Grammys, A Dose of Taylor and the Biggest Soundtrack You’ve Yet to Hear [Billboard]
There’s no doubt that 2011 was the year of the “doof doof”. From the rise of David Guetta and LMFAO to the euro-club beats adopted in an overwhelming majority pop songs from Rihanna‘s “We Found Love” to Britney Spears‘ “I Wanna Go”, there was no avoiding the thudding sound of the sub woofer and all the manic, Ibiza-esque dance-party vibes that went with it. But if you abide by the laws of physics, you’ll know that for all actions, there is an equal and opposing reaction — and we can see the specter of antithesis looming for 2012. While last year saw an almost completely unblemished carpet of techno beats upholster the music landscape, 2012 looks set to tear that carpet up and replace it with raw wood.
We’re talking about the new guard, a genre of new artists we’ve dubbed “realwave” (thanks to Carles for giving us the ability to invent genres with the simple suffix “wave”), who have been lurking on the sidelines but still managing to make some noise despite the deafening reverberations around them. It began with the ascent of Adele, Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver — artists, who are, for all intents and purposes, artists. In 2011, these artists represented “authenticity,” or the ability to make music that was not only chart topping and relateable, but that also relied on the strength of songwriting, real instruments and organic talent. Yep, that means no auto-tuned voices, synthetic bass lines or garish costuming.
From Adele’s beautiful, heartfelt lyricism and emotive live vocal to Mumford & Sons’ rootsy instrumentals and Bon Iver’s gently experimental, dynamic sound, these artists have provided a much needed sanctuary from banging beats and flashing lights. And perhaps now, after we’ve worn the soles of our dancing shoes right into our heels, we’re actively seeking more realwave. We went to the party, sure, and we had the time of our lives, but it’s morning now, the sun is shining through the cracks in the curtains, our heads are splitting and we’re groping at the bedside table for Advil and Gatorade.
The controversy surrounding Nicki Minaj’s and Chris Brown’s respective performances this weekend have dominated most of the post-Grammy conversation over the past few days. However, now that the hubbub surrounding those performances is starting to die down, we here at VH1 want to take a few minutes to congratulate The Civil Wars on their two Grammy wins this weekend. Our April 2011 You Oughta Know artists beat out some stiff competition in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album categories, and stunned everyone with their totally-awesome-yet-all-too-brief performance of “Barton Hollow” during the live telecast. Thanks to the magic of the internet, now we’re able to see their acceptance speeches for their two wins which, sadly, were not shown during the CBS broadcast. Above, watch them accept the Best Country Duo/Group performance Grammy for “Barton Hollow” and below, check out their performance of that song here in the VH1 offices last May.
If you’ve been in front of a computer with a working Internet connection today you’re probably aware that Bonnaroo has announced the line up for this year’s festival, and that everyone is getting a little breathy and excited about it. And why not — the lineup is absolutely out of this world, with huge names Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, The Beach Boys, Grammy winners Bon Iver, The Avett Brothers and The Shins headlining the festival. While we’re a bit perplexed as to why the legendary Beach Boys are billed fourth (we can understand Radiohead as a firm first, but surely The Beach Boys have more clout on a lineup than Red Hot Chili Peppers or Phish, especially as they’ve reunited to tour this year?), it’s hard to maintain any kind of indignation with such a fun lineup.
The big names appear next to some pretty “of the moment” new comers, including our You Oughta Know artists Foster The People (could this be Grammys round 2, performing with The Beach Boys again perchance?), The Civil Wars, Dawes and Fitz & The Tantrums (we LOVE to say we told ya so!). There’s also the dub act that’s taken the USA by storm, Grammy winner Skrillex, oldies but goodies like The Roots, Alice Cooper, Ludacris and Ben Folds Five. And is anyone as excited about the Black Star comeback as we are?? Hype acts on the list include Childish Gambino, 2011’s lauded tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, SBTRKT, Kendrick Lamar, Kurt Vile, EMA and Das Racist to name but a few! Bonnaroo might just have the leg up on the other festivals — sure Coachella has a hype-led lineup with a smattering of superstar at the top of the bill and SXSW is ready to introduce us to the hottest new talent, but Bonnaroo seems to balance the classic and timeless with still relevant veterans and hyped new names across genres. Basically, Bonnaroo’s got something for everyone.
Bonnaroo tickets go on sale February 18th at 12 p.m. EST.
[Photos: Getty Images]
Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars have teamed up for The Hunger Games Soundtrack: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, and their collaborative track, “Safe And Sound” features a haunting video to go with the romantic vocal. The video sees Taylor walking barefoot in a whimsical, diaphanous gown through a harsh winter forest landscape, while bare trees throw up obtuse, magical shapes as she wanders between them. The scene flicks to The Civil Wars in stark contrast, sitting before a crackling fire in a cosy, domestic setting as their voices harmonize with Taylor’s.
The waifish Taylor continues to haunt the barren landscape while fires rage in the distance, almost spectral in her aimless meandering. With the mystical appearance of an apperating deer, the song takes on a fantastical, otherworldly import as Taylor roams, hopelessly hopeful that the dawn will bring her safety. As night falls there’s a sense of desperation as the deer turns to dust before Taylor’s eyes, but the soft crooning melodies remain a constant reminder that everything will be alright.
In “Rolling In The Deep”, Adele sang “We could have had it all.” Well, at the 2012 Grammy Awards tonight, she did end up having it all — all the awards, that is. The English songbird completed a year of total dominance on the Billboard song and album charts by sweeping the three major categories at this year’s awards: Album of the Year for 21, Song of the Year for “Rolling In The Deep”, and Record of the Year (also for “Rolling In The Deep”). All in all, the 23-year-old took home six Grammys tonight, bringing her career total to eight.
Adele also performed “Rolling In The Deep” in front of a hushed crowd, her first public singing performance since she underwent vocal cord surgery back in 2011. We haven’t seen any video of that performance emerge on the web yet, but we DID see her knock Anderson Cooper‘s socks off with an a Capella performance of her Grammy-winning smash on 60 Minutes earlier tonight. We’ve got that performance for you below.
With her historic “Triple Crown” win tonight, Yahoo Music noted that Adele became only the sixth artist in history to accomplish that feat. Her peers in this exclusive group include Simon & Garfunkel (1971), Carole King (1972), Christopher Cross (1981), Eric Clapton (1993) and the Dixie Chicks (2007).
More on the 2012 Grammy Awards below!
What a year, right? As we get ready to put the finishing touches on the year that was, it’s time to look back at the music videos that define the year 2011. Tonight, we’ll be airing a supersized edition of the VH1 Top 20 Music Video Countdown that takes a look back at the Top 40 music videos of the year. Be sure to tune-in to VH1 tonight at 7 p.m. ET/PT to see your favorite videos of the year in all of their widescreen, HD glory, but we couldn’t resist giving you guys a sneak peek at the list here on VH1 Tuner this morning.
So, without further ado, here is our list of the Top 40 Videos of 2011…
40. Daughtry – “Crawling Back To You”
39. Jessie J – “Domino”
38. The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”
37. Demi Lovato – “Skyscraper”
36. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “Paris (Ooh La La)”
35. Britney Spears – “Criminal”
34. Nickelback – “When We Stand Together”
33. Colbie Caillat – “Brighter Than The Sun”
32. Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”
31. David Guetta featuring Usher – “Without You”
Continue along for the Top 30 videos of 2011!
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 more than a few of our amazing You Oughta Know artists on the 2012 Grammy Nominees list. We made our predictions for nominees for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, Best New Artist, and Album of the Year yesterday, and now we’re pretty excited to see some of the artists that we’ve introduced to you succeeding so decisively in their different genres. Here’s a little recap of the members of the VH1 family that were awarded Grammy nominations last night:
As we predicted, Adele was a shoo-in for a fistful of nominations, given that her fandom is almost universal and that she’s widely regarded by the industry as seminal in the singer/songwriter field. “Rolling In The Deep” scored nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Short Form Music Video, while “Someone Like You” was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance. Adele’s album, 21, was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. You can check out Adele exclusively answering 5 intimate questions for VH1’s You Oughta Know here.