When musicians are preparing to release a new album, one of the necessary steps on the promotional docket is the album listening party. Most of the time, journalists and other music executives are invited to either a rented out club or a conference room at the record label headquarters to hear the new tracks. That tactic is certainly effective, but doesn’t always lend itself to really “experiencing” the music in the fullest sense of the word. Record label veteran Usher, who has been churning out albums for nearly two decades now, must’ve sat through more than a few boring listening parties over the years, so he decided to step his game up now that he’s getting ready to release his seventh studio album, Looking For Myself. Instead of holding court in some conference room somewhere, Usher instead collaborated with the off-Broadway Fuerza Bruta cast for a one time only night of interactive surprises.
This past Friday night, April 27, a group of invite-only guests gathered in the heart of NYC’s Union Square at the Daryl Roth Theater, unsure of exactly what to expect from this unlikely mash-up. For the unfamiliar, Fuerza Bruta — which is Spanish for “brute force” — is sort of reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil in that they both have incredibly athletic performers, but Fuerza differs in that there’s more crowd participation in the program. This particular show began with “Climax” blaring through the speakers, when Usher suddenly appeared on an elevated treadmill wearing a crisp white suit paired with a turquoise tie, accented with bright socks. Usher ran and ran at top speed until he was noticeably out of breath and perspiring. At first, it was unclear who or what he was running from, but then, out of nowhere, a loud “bang, bang” sound rang through our ears, and Usher fell over with a blood drenched shirt from two apparent gunshot wounds. (Perhaps at that moment he reached the climax the song alludes to?) Like Superman, he quickly jumped back to his feet, removing the shirt (thankfully he had a clean tank top underneath) and presumed running, only this time he was joined by a partner. The two ran while dodging chairs and running through paper walls.
Usher’s smash hit “Climax”, produced by Diplo, shot all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart shortly after it was released. It was a burning slow jam with electronic flourishes, but with his second single from his upcoming album Looking For Myself, Usher’s looking to switch things up a bit. No stranger to making songs that appeal to your inner dancer, “Scream” reminds us a bit of his past hits like “OMG”, “Hey Daddy” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.” In other words, his latest will surely be a club banger.
Sonically, it’s closely similar to “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” where Usher’s voice rides the uptempo beat. We can totally imagine people doing the Jersey fist pump when this comes on in the club. For a pop sounding dance track, it has all the essentials. And although his R&B ballads tickle our fancy a bit more than this, an Usher album isn’t complete without something to dance to in the mirror when you’re home alone. We can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.
One of the great things about Yo! MTV Raps was the versatility of talented artists that appeared as guests on the show. Everyone from Usher to MC Hammer to Eddie Murphy stopped by to talk to Ed Lover and Doctor Dre. Speaking of Murphy, no one is exempt from this funny man’s scathing sense of humor.
According to Dre, when he and Ed Lover interviewed a young burgeoning Murphy, it was 95 degrees that day, which would be fine, except the interview was outdoors. That day, Doctor Dre decided to wear a tight fitting, multicolored leather jacket despite the scorching heat. Not one to let an opportunity to tease the host pass, the master of stand up comedy made him feel silly for wearing such a thing on a brutally hot day.
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.
If you missed this week’s VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown, you’re in luck. Not only is it re-airing tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. on VH1, but we’ve got this week’s complete list of the week’s 20 hottest videos for you. After narrowly missing out on the top spot to Usher and David Guetta last week, Katy Perry‘s wistful “The One That Got Away” has snatched this week’s top spot. Check out the complete list of videos in the final Top 20 Video Countdown episode of 2011 below.
A reminder: VH1′s Top 40 videos of 2011 will be airing at a special time: Wednesday night, December 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Watch this space for more details!
Promoting his hit single “Without You,” David Guetta appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, joined by Usher, who brough some serious dance moves to the stage. Spinning, u-turning and collar-popping, Usher employed all the signature moves he’s known for, all the while singing over Guetta’s trancetastic beats. With a team of back-up dancers, flashing lights, psychedelic visualizations and shooting flames, the stage was transformed into a Euro-techno party with Usher and Guetta revving up the audience. No wonder this song is shooting towards the top of our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown!
When he’s not making love in clubs it seems that r’n’b veteran Usher still likes to make a public nuisance of himself — albeit in less sexy ways. Having parked his giant SUV in a handicapped spot outside a mall in Atlanta, Usher was accosted by an angry bystander in his very own Seinfeld moment. The deeply affronted woman took wild swings at Usher, screaming something, something about something, something, doing a lot of manic pointing and finally having to be restrained and dragged from the scene. Usher seemed characteristically nonchalant, failing to apologize for his faux pas while popping his collar and whatnot.
The best part of the whole debacle is the Elvis Presley impersonator that somehow found his way to the center of the action (apparently there was a Halloween parade near by), and the fact that the dudes filming the incident were more preoccupied with the fake Elvis than with Usher, who they only noticed at the last minute.
The MGM Grand played host to a plethora of pop stars this weekend for the Clear Channel-sponsored iHeartRadio Festival, two nights of genre-spanning, crowd-pleasing pop music. A mix of veterans and newcomers thrilled the (reportedlyvery drunk) crowd on both nights. The most successful performers were those who stuck to a setlist of hits, like Jay-Z, who may have performed “On To The Next One” but didn’t take its advice about his old songs, including favorites from The Blueprint and The Black Album alongside newer singles like “Empire State of Mind” (with a guest appearance by earlier performer Alicia Keys). Those whose songs were less well-known by the crowd, like Sublime with Rome, were less well-received.
Perhaps the big surprise of the weekend, according to reports, was Jennifer Lopez, who, in a set that spanned her musical career, proved supremely capable of standing among the pop titans of today (with a Pitbull feature on “On the Floor”). Saturday’s “special guest” Sting also more than pulled his weight, backing Steven Tyler on bass early in the evening, then joining Lady Gaga for performances of “Stand By Me” and his own “King of Pain.”
Lawyers for Usher, Jermaine Dupri, and Bryan-Michael Cox have filed a last-ditch motion in hopes of stopping the copyright lawsuit filed against them in California Central District Court from going before a jury. The suit, which was brought in April of 2008 by Ernest Lee Straughter, alleges that Usher’s 2004 #1 single “Burn” copies “No More Pain,” a 1999 album cut recorded by Reel Tight based on Straughter’s “The Reasons Why.” Last month Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that Straughter’s case had sufficient grounds for a jury trial. Friday’s motion challenges that ruling.
Straughter’s case aims to prove that “The Reasons Why” is the basis for “Burn” based on both musical similarities and proof of exposure by the songwriters to “The Reasons Why.” A musicologist’s report indicates corresponding features of the two songs; you can listen to them both below. Friday’s motion mainly challenges the claim of exposure: “The fact that the song had virtually no radio airplay forecloses any inference that it was widely disseminated, let alone remotely popular.” Ouch! If Snyder rejects the motion, the case is headed before a jury. We suspect that the defendants still have pretty good odds of winning the case, but they are trying to avoid the sort of publicity a jury trial might invite. Read more…