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Posts Tagged ‘pop’

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One of the celeb-spotting highlights of my time at Coachella 2011 was seeing pop starlet Katy Perry, or should I say Katy Perry surrounded by a fat entourage of men allowing only the slightest glimpse of her pixie-sized body, walking across the field towards the VIP area. I found it mildly fascinating that, in a festival where numerous stars could be seen hobnobbing and generally enjoying themselves, Perry found it necessary to travel in a way that would paradoxically maximize not only her protection but also her visibility. There’s few things better suited to announcing to the world that HEY! PLATINUM POP STAR PASSING THROUGH! than traveling in a caravan.

Luckily, one of those few things is tour riders, one of the best ways to determine whether a pop star’s desire for control is beginning to spiral a bit out of reach. The Smoking Gun recently got a hold of Perry’s 2011 rider, and it delivers. We’ve all heard the “only brown M&Ms” horror stories common in the industry, but Perry, who prefers organic snacks, takes things to a diva-tastic level. Demands run the gamut from precisely delineated types of chairs (cream-colored armchairs, God help you if they’re in eggshell white) to a somewhat disturbing repulsion towards carnations (underlined AND capitalized, indicating potential harm to Katy if she is indeed exposed to such flowery trifles) to a comprehensive list of things her driver is NOT allowed to do, including…

Any lingering fears that Patrick Stump’s second chin had imbued him, Samson-like, with his precocious musical talent have thus far proved unfounded – and a good thing, too, because the weight appears to be staying off and the erstwhile Fall Out Boy frontman has a solo career to launch.

As a prelude to the release of his first album on his lonesome, Soul Punk, in February Stump put together a fairly impressive medley of Grammy-nominated tracks, performed a capella with the man himself providing back-up vocals. Impressively, it’s all done on camera, so we quite literally get to see Stumpy playing with himself – he performs a fluid mash of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind,’ Eminem and Rihanna’s ‘Love the Way You Lie,’ Lady Antebellum’s ‘Need You Now,’ B.o.B. and Bruno Mars’ ‘Nothin’ on You’ and Cee-Lo’s ‘Fuck You’ (mercifully uncensored).

It’s interesting to note that Stump’s studio looks more like an oversized emptied closet than a state-of-the-art recording space, though perhaps that’s fitting given his rather unfortunate choice of clothing.

For all the shit Britney gets nowadays, her singles have always been top notch. Even when her vocals were long ago deemed utterly fake and her persona as manufactured as a slice of American cheese, a fan would always have the singles: the sensual “I’m A Slave 4 U,” the clever “If You Seek Amy,” the absolutely perfect “Toxic.” And here is Britney trailblazing pop yet again with a single that blows most of Circus out of the water. Britney does dubstep, something I couldn’t believe until I verified from multiple different streams. Listen to the whole song (it’s really good!), but the bridge around 2:05 almost made me fall off my chair.

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Backlash is such a strong word, and perhaps not the most appropriate one given the level of antipathy the group evokes among the internet cognoscenti, but it’s impossible to avoid the term in reacting to the Lonely Island’s new single ‘I Just Had Sex,’ which features imaginary tough guy Akon.

As an unabashed fan of the Lonely Island’s first CD, 2009’s Incredibad, I’ve always found it difficult to reconcile my love of their music with my complete disdain for SaturdayNight Live, and in particular Andy Samberg’s turgid contribution as a sketch actor. Like most of the SNL cast, Samberg as an actor represents the banal strand of comedy that dictates saying something in a funny accent automatically makes it ha-ha funny, when in fact all it does is make him look like a douchebag.

It’s a similar concept that has prolonged the painful career of Kenan Thompson. Thompson, who most famously played the part of the unfunny half of Kenan & Kel, seems to most rational observers to serve one purpose on the show: to play black characters in sketches where it would be racist for the white members to wear blackface. That’s not to say that SNL producers are racist. In fact, it’s the opposite – they hold black comedians to the same low standards to which they hold themselves. It’s equal opportunity mediocrity, and it’s rampant on SNL.

Which brings us back to the Lonely Island.

Over the past three or four years, the Lonely Island…

When we think of classic Christmas songs, it tends to be the case that the older the song, the better.

In a sense, this is a natural reaction to the passage of time and our innate distrust of the present, but perhaps it also says something about how pop culture has captured Christmas. While much of what we now consider “Christmassy” we owe to Dickens, an awful lot of it is also dated to the ’50s and ’60s when “pop culture” properly began in earnest with the rapid spread of television and other visual media.

How refreshing, then, to have a Christmas classic from our own time. Perhaps this is a little too early for much of the Sputnik demographic, but it’s certainly within the timeline of our editors to remember a time when Mariah Carey was a) relevant, b) disgustingly beautiful and c) not world-renowned as a crazy person. In the early ’90s, Mariah still had her natural breasts and was quite comfortably the most successful pop singer around, and still she found time to write and sing one of the best Christmas songs ever produced.

But then she met Eminem.

12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 –

Not a lot of people know this, but there are an awful lot of deranged, fanatical people out there who have dedicated large parts of their lives to archiving all 150+ versions of Wham!’s festive classic ‘Last Christmas.’

Naturally, I’m one of them.

Until an unfortunate incident with a fried motherboard destroyed my collection, I had upwards of 50 versions of the song in my possession, from almost every genre imaginable. Granted, many of those imaginable genres are the sort of trashy pop nobody sane would ever want to imagine (although I will defend Whigfield’s version to the death), but there’s an awful lot of good stuff mixed in there.

Come to think of it, had I been more clever about this, I’d have scrapped the “12 Days of Christmas” idea and just gone with the “12 Days of Last Christmas.” Maybe next year. In the meantime, feel free to take in 5 of the best.

#1: Wham!

#2: Taylor Swift

#3:  James Dean Bradfield

#4: Oda Yuji w/ Butch Walker

#5: Rachel & Finn w/ the Cast of Glee

12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 – Merry Xmas Everybody#8 – Ferrell & Reilly / #9 – Shit Christmas Without You / #10 / #11 / #12

It’s no great secret that Amy Winehouse’s best music invariably comes about when she a) collaborates with otherwise nauseating super-producer Mark Ronson and b) channels the great female singers of the Spector-inspired Sixties.

With this in mind, it should come as no great surprised that Amy’s cover of Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party,’ which features production from the still very nauseating Ronson, is what people who are prone to boorish sports metaphors might call a “home run” or perhaps even a “slam dunk.” Covering a genuine classic is always a risky business, but as with her cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid,’ it’s almost effortlessly brilliant.

‘It’s My Party’ is muted to appear on the upcoming Quincy Jones tribute, Q: Soul Bossa Nostra.

We all knew it would happen one day.

After clearly signalling his intent with movies like Men In Black and Independence Day (and probably others – what was Bad Boys II about? Did anybody even see it?), there’s not a person on this earth who wasn’t fully aware that “Turncoat” Will Smith had managed to breed with them and it was only a matter of time before his alien offspring descended on this planet to finish us off.

Damn it all, we just didn’t expect it to be this soon.

9-year-old Willow Smith… honestly, it’s one thing a father naming his son after himself – it’s a long established tradition – but a father naming his daughter after himself is plain weird, “alien” even. Anyway, 9-year-old Willow Smith has unleashed her first I Am Legend-sized virus on the world in the form of ‘Whip My Hair,’ a Rihanna-inspired number that’s been around all of 5 minutes but is never, ever going to go away. So get used to it.

Seriously, she’s 9. Her neck hasn’t even fully developed yet. This song is dangerous.

Here’s the video – you’re not going to be able to avoid it so you might as well just get it over with now.

The Justin Bieber story took its inevitable step into hip hop last month with Kanye West’s remix of ‘Runaway Love,’ but it took a leap into the ultra-surreal earlier today when he premiered ‘Speaking in Tongues,’ the first glimpse of his rapping alter-ego Shawty Mane.

It’s entirely unclear whether this is a genuine musical statement or a pop culture spoof the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since Orson Welles dropped the radio broadcast of his namesake H.G.’s War of the Worlds in1938, but it certainly is… something.

Shakira’s decision to cover the xx’s ‘Islands’ (originally retitled ‘Explore,’ now re-retitled ‘Islands’ again) isn’t exactly a huge shock, having been signposted in the summer with strategically leaked samples and a televised live cover at Glastonbury.

It is rather good, however.

Shakira’s cover is faster and less intimate than the original, laying a thumping club beat below the tropical guitar riff, but it does somehow manage to work.

I don’t really know anything about Sound Set aside from what their Facebook and my rudimentary French tells me, which is that they’re a Franco-German trio of DJs and producers with a passion for new wave, house and “The Swedish touch.”

Whatever their influences, they’ve zeroed in on the most important one of all – Butch Walker – and unleashed this beefy remix synced to the original track’s Kung Fu-themed video. Enjoy.

Besides having really great album art and a frustratingly hip name, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. have talent. They can write a damn good pop song. “Vocal Chords” is one of three examples off their Horse Power EP, which also includes a cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”.

Have a listen:

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As we wait with biated breath for the semi-finals of the World Cup, here’s an absolutely cracking stat for you – if either Germany or Spain go on to win the tournament (which, with no offence intended to Nagrarok, they probably will), then the only team in the entire tournament to be unbeaten will be New Zealand. Fancy that. Switzerland – already covered way back in part 7, were Spain’s conquerors in the first game, but Serbia, the only team to beat Germany, have remained untouched until now. Let’s change that.

I’m not gonna lie – I just really like this picture.

The thing I find most immediately fascinating about Serbian music throughout the ages is the unique fascination with epic poetry – it’s certainly not the part of the world you would first think of when epic poetry comes to mind (Greece wins out there, of course), but where the Greeks kept their words and their music generally separate, Balkan culture, and particularly that of the Serbs, has sought to integrate the two. As a result, it’s now as much a musical genre as a literary one. This piece of music is based on the poem “The Building of Skadar”, a religious text of unknown authorship, and a traditional Serbian folk melody.

Unfortunately, not all Serbian music is as high-minded and moving. Some people react to major world events by trying to reflect the devastation in their own art, while some ramp up the feel-good…

ClaudioWhen most people (as in people who don’t play Dungeons and Dragons) first hear Coheed and Cambria, they think something along the lines of, “well, those dudes are pretty good at their instruments, but I hate that chick’s voice.” That “chick,” the androgynous, interstellar-creation-myth-spawning, graphic-novel and guitar wizard known as Claudio Sanchez has few vocal peers, the closest being Geddy Lee or Alvin of Chipmunks fame.

So when presented with a MASHUP (because this is the internet after all) of Tupac’s “Dear Mama” & Coheed and Cambria’s “Welcome Home,” we’d all expect Claudio’s falsetto to be replaced by sensitive Tupac verses. Instead, we, the listeners, are treated to Claudio soloing over soulful guitar licks and a chill beat. If I had to sum up my feelings about this MASHUP I’d have to cite both of these lyrical geniuses.

Tupac – “Changes”

“I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way
sellin’ crack to the kid. ” I gotta get paid,”
Well hey, well that’s the way it is

Coheed and Cambria – “The Crowing” and “2113″

Dear Ambellina, the Prise wishes you to watch over me
Dear Ambellina, the Prise wishes you to watch over me

But IRO-Bot will never die.
IRO-Bot will never die.
But IRO-Bot will never die.
But IRO-Bot will never die…

Tupac & Coheed and Cambria – “Welcome Home Mama”

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The Greatest Thing EVER: Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better” Music Video

A music video that makes you enjoy a song you’d otherwise hate is a rarity. It only occurs once in a great, great while (usually, once a month, but hey sometimes it can even be two months!), and it’s usually accompanied by either a pop-culture reference typhoon, or Lady Gaga. The new video for Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better” off of their newest One Life Stand breaks this convention by being an entirely serious, stylish affair replete with incredible production values and hypnotizing camera work and dance moves. Before you blow this off as hipster garbage, I implore you to take a look at the world Hot Chip create in “I Feel Better”.

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