When the 2014 Grammys air this Sunday, we’ll be treated to yet another all-star jam, but this one holds promise. It’s an FOD (friends of Dave) free for all, featuring many of the players from Dave Grohl‘s Sound City film, including Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Fleetwood Mac‘s Lindsey Buckingham, and longtime Grohl pals Queens of the Stone Age, all of them nominated in some way for awards this year (Buckingham’s collaboration with Delta Rae, “If I Loved You,” earned a nomination for producer Rob Cavallo).
Coupled with the not-earth-shattering-but-still-pretty-cool treat of seeing Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr play together again, this might just make an interesting telecast. The Grohl jam will close out the show. Maybe Macca and Ringo will jump up there, who knows? Follow us on Twitter to catch a live-tweeting of events as they unfold on Sunday night.
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Watch The Official Trailer For Dave Grohl’s Sound City Documentary
Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar Will be Among GRAMMY Performers
National Q and A: Jason Aldean Talks Grammys, New Album and Staying Stylish
Anyway, Kendrick Lamar confirmed via Twitter that he’ll be one of the featured performers on the GrAMMmy telecast on January 26th. The rapper has been nominated for Album of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Rap Album. Lamar will apparently be joined by Imagine Dragons.
Now comes news, via Rolling Stone and confirmed by executive producer Ken Ehrlich, that Daft Punk will also be performing. I only hope this gives Stephen Colbert more opportunity to take shots at them for canceling on him in favor of the VMAs.
Now please enjoy these selected responses to Lamar’s tweet.
@kendricklamar you wont win macklemore is better
” Kelsey (@KelseyHilson) December 19, 2013
” Doudou (@martian_Mulah) December 19, 2013
Nobody care – that’s an order from your Empress!:
” Empress Yoncé. (@EmpressBeysus) December 19, 2013
Didn’t listen to the radio over the past year? You’re not alone. Terrestrial radio listenership has been declining steadily. Listeners turn more to Internet radio, which is usually tailored to the listener’s specific tastes. Thus they don’t get the kind of broad-spectrum popular music survey represented at the Grammy Awards.
If you are among those who need (and, importantly, want) a crash course on what’s popular in music right now, Spotify has made a playlist of winners from last night’s ceremony. Check it out here.
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Taylor Swift has yet to top Billboard’s Hot 100, but who needs a No. 1 pop single when you’ve sold more than 20 million albums (as of March of 2011), been named Entertainer of the Year twice in a row by the Academy of Country Music (in 2011 and 2012), been awarded the 2010 Hal David Starlight Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame (an honor previously bestowed upon John Mayer and Alicia Keys) and won an Album of the Year GRAMMY (in 2010, for Fearless, her second album)? She makes every princess of pop this side of Adele seem like an underachiever.
At the age of twenty-two, Swift has accomplished what it takes some icons entire careers and then some to achieve. (Neither Bruce Springsteen, nor the Rolling Stones, nor Aretha Franklin, nor Madonna, nor Eminem, has yet to win an Album of the Year GRAMMY.) But it’s Swift’s latest honor, being the frontrunner for the role of Joni Mitchell in the upcoming film Girls Like Us, a biopic based on Sheila Weller’s book about the lives of Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King in the late ’60s, that has her detractors”and some fans even”protesting “Too soon!” and wondering “Who? Her?” (more…)
Ever since her controversial GRAMMY performance last week, tongues have been wagging about Nicki Minaj. Critics say she crossed the line with her Exorcist-themed theatrics, while others commend the hip-hop hybrid for her creativity and the guts to pull it off.
Lil Kim had some choice words for Nicki, and used the performance to rekindle their feud. During an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens: Live, Kim bashed the Young Money maven, calling her music’s most overrated artist.
“If you have to make a song called ‘Stupid Hoe,’ you must be the stupid hoe,” she said in reference to Minaj’s current record-breaking single. She went on to compare Minaj to Fire Marshall Bill a character from the hit ’90s television show, In Living Color.
But Kim isn’t the only one firing shots at Nicki. Last week, the Catholic League’s President, Bill Donahue, released the following statement:
“Nicki Minaj, fresh off looking like a fool with Madonna at the Super Bowl, showed up last night (February 12) on the red carpet at the GRAMMYs with a guy dressed like the pope. This was just a prelude of what was to come. Minaj’s performance began on stage with a mock confessional skit. This was followed by a taped video depicting a mock exorcism. With stained glass in the background, she appeared on stage again with choirboys and monks dancing. Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, “Come All Ye Faithful” was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating.”
His sentiments echoed any voices across the country who called Minaj’s performance disrespectful, demonic, and over the top prompting her to defend herself and her motives. She told the Associated Press, I don’t know what is the big issue?”
Minaj has made no secret of her passion for acting, and she explained the display as a segment of a larger project for the future. “You know how people write plays and movies? That’s what I did,” she said. “I wrote that and I gave the world a tiny little preview of what was to come. And so I have to perform it on the set in which it would be in the movie, right?”
Of course, when Lady Gaga hit the stage covered in blood and hanging from the ceiling, apparently dead; no one batted an eyelash. However, Minaj’s portrayal of an onstage exorcism apparently sent people over the edge.
While I can understand how the Catholic League may take offense to a large-scale portrayal of priests and choirboys on the GRAMMY stage; I’m puzzled by the reaction of Minaj’s fans. Anyone who has followed her career, or listened to her albums shouldn’t be surprised by the exorcism/ multiple personalities concept. She has been gearing up for this kind of roll out since she started doing press. She has referred to Roman Zolanski numerous times, as the devilish little boy who says what she can’t”who surfaces when provoked. The character of his British mother, Martha has also made numerous appearances; constantly pleading with Roman to behave, as she did in the stage performance. Minaj has also made no secret that her sophomore album will be centered around Roman’s character; making this kind of teaser completely appropriate and relevant. If anything, it was characteristically Nicki.
Although her detractors have been flooding the Internet with their criticism, others have come to Minaj’s defense. Her label mate, Lil Twist, told XXL, “I love Nicki’s whole swagger. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. That’s what I really love about my sister and how she goes about herself. That performance was Nicki. That’s all I can, say”it was so Nicki.”
Now, Minaj is gearing up for her NBA All-Star game appearance. She will perform a medley of her hits while the players are introduced during the big game. She’ll also be joined by some other heavy-hitters including Mary J. Blige, who will perform the National Anthem, as well as Ne-Yo, and Pitbull who will take over the half-time show. We’ll see how this next performance compares to the GRAMMY’s.
Among those who watched the 2012 Grammy Awards Ceremony, most would agree that it was an outstanding night of performances (who didn’t shed a tear after Adelle’s Rolling in the Deep?) and solemn tributes for the late, great Whitney Houston. That is, right up until Nicki Minaj stole the show with her performance of Roman Holiday. The number itself included a mock exorcism, altar boys… um… interacting with scantily clad women, and a haunting rendition of O’ Come All Ye Faithful. And as expected, the pop star’s performance has been heavily criticized; most notably by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.
“None of this was by accident, and all of it was approved by the Recording Academy, Donohue says. Never would they allow an artist to insult Judaism or Islam.”
Who could have predicted that Bill Donohue would not be in the Nicki Minaj fan club?
Still, whether or not this was insulting to your religion, one thing is for sure: Minaj has definitely insulted our music taste.
This year’s usual GRAMMY festivities were obviously overshadowed by the shocking passing of Whitney Houston. Unable to ignore the noticeably solemn sense in the room, LL Cool J opened the night with a heartfelt prayer for the fallen superstar, saying, We’ve had a death in our family.
Adele took home the first televised award of the night for Best Pop Performance for her smash hit,Someone Like You. Later in the night, she gave a jaw-dropping performance of her hit, Rolling In The Deep just weeks after having surgery on her vocal chords. She went on to win all six awards she was nominated for, including Album Of The Year. Other big winners were The Foo Fighters who nabbed four trophies.
Although the performances are usually the highlight of the evening, this year’s showings seemed to be miss their usual spark. Bruno Mars performed in his usual 50’s du-wop style, with a big bag of new dance moves and the same old-school costumes. Alicia Keys and Bonnie Rait paid tribute to the legendary Etta James with a duet of her song, Sunday Kind Of Love, after also acknowledging their love of Whitney. Chris Brown graced the GRAMMY stage for the first time since the 2009 incident, after Clive’s Davis’ annual dinner, that left Rihanna bruised and bloodied. Dressed in all white, he performed Beautiful People and showcased his signature dance skills by climbing up an elaborate stage set complete with lasers and back-flipping back-up dancers.
Rihanna performed a slowed down version of We Found Love in a sexy skin-tight outfit andbleached blonde hair and black lipstick. . The laser-filled set featured dozens of dancers storming that stage and creating a club right inside the GRAMMYs. She quickly switched gears and joined Chris Martin for their hit, Coulda Been before Coldplay closed their set with their hit, Paradise.
In one of the night’s most touching moments, Jennifer Hudson gave a powerful tribute to her idol with a performance of Whitney Houston’s hit I Will Always Love You to a tearful crowd. She ended by saying, Whitney, we’ll always love you.
Fergie and Marc Anthony presented and accepted the award for Best Rap Performance to Kanye West and Jay-Z for Otis. Jay-Z and Beyoncé‘s four collective nominations weren’t enough to pull them away from baby ˜Blue’, as neither of the new parents were present. Hova nabbed only one of his two nominations of the night and Beyoncé nabbed none. Kanye West was also a no-show for the night, even though he finally got his GRAMMY glitz; winning four awards out of his seven nominations including Best Rap Song for All Of The Lights and Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Common and Taraji Henson saluted the late Gill Scot-Heron, calling him a great poet and saying, Thanks to him, the revolution is now being televised. They presented the award for Best R&B Album to Chris Brown for F.A.M.E., leading the ever-remorseful and famously-flustered crooner to deliver a kind of uncomfortable acceptance speech. I don’t know what to say. I’m nervous, he admitted before quickly thanking his camp and fans and hurrying off the stage.
Drake was proud to introduce his friend and label mate, Nicki Minaj, calling her one of the most intelligent, beautiful, driven women I’ve ever met in my life. He said, She went from sleeping in the bunk under mine on the tour bus, and now she’s one of the biggest stars in the world. After kicking off her extremely theatrical performance from a set in the crowd, she segued into a pre-recorded mini-movie called The Exorcism of Roman, an elaborate introduction to her most vicious alter ego. Then, she hit the stage for a spectacle of a show that featured her stellar rhyming skills as well as her certifiable singing and over the top acting abilities. While I have a feeling her set may have gone over some fans’ heads; no one can deny the guts and the gifts she displayed on the GRAMMY stage.
In pop music, you’re nobody until everybody loves you or hates you, and few recording artists polarize everybody the way Lady Gaga does. Mad genius or plain mad? A true original or hopelessly derivative? Hit or miss?
That last question easily could apply to Gaga’s second full-length studio album, Born This Way, which was released to near-unprecedented fanfare in May of last year. The music press gave it generally favorable reviews, according to Metacritic, which assigned the album a score of 71 out of 100. Madonna, however, was less than blown away by the title song and first single, which many declared a too-blatant rip-off of her 1989 hit Express Yourself.
The woman who has spent her entire career nicking sights and sounds from other people, apparently agreed and recently joined the song’s chorus of detractors. When I heard it on the radio¦ I said that sounds very familiar, Madonna told ABC News’ Cynthia McFadden in January. It felt reductive.
As for the parent album, whether it’s good or bad is a matter of personal taste. Hit or miss, though? Commercially speaking, it depends on how you look at it. Born This Way sold 1.1 million copies in the week after its release, making it the biggest debut since 2005. However, Gaga’s sales feat becomes less impressive when you consider that some 440,000 of those copies were sold in the digital format by Amazon, which practically gave the album away for 99 cents.
By week two, sales of Born This Way had plummeted 84 percent, down to the mere-mortal level of 174,000 copies. In its third week, it sold 100,000 copies, and was replaced by Adele’s three-months-older (in the US) 21 at No. 1. When the dust settled and 2011 ended, Born This Way was the third-biggest seller of the year, with cumulative sales of 2.1 million copies, which means it did half of its business last year in its first week. The No. 1 album of 2011, Adele’s own sophomore effort, sold nearly three times as much (5.8 million).
If Born This Way were a Hollywood event movie, and in many ways it was marketed like one, it would be considered a disappointment, as aspiring blockbusters that only double their opening-weekend haul during their box-office runs are generally considered to be. Worldwide sales in the vicinity of 5 million lack luster when an album’s pre-release set-up positions it to be the biggest thing since sliced bread”or Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Then there are the five singles from Born This Way. Aside from the aforementioned title track, which spent six weeks at No. 1, they’ve performed somewhat below Gaga’s usual Hot 100 standards. The second to fourth singles all reached the Top 10, but none of them enjoyed industry buzz or runaway success on par with previous Gaga hits like Telephone and Bad Romance. Meanwhile, the fifth single, “Marry the Night,” only reached No. 29 on Billboard’s Hot 100, making it Gaga’s first official single to miss the Top 10.
There’s always the February 12 GRAMMY Awards to provide a nice Gaga rebound (she’s up for three awards), but they probably won’t, not with Adele in the running (and performing). In fact, Adele might have been the one thing most responsible for blocking the view of Gaga for much of 2011.
The antithesis of all things Gaga, she’s a singer who gets by without gimmickry and flash, just strictly on the power of her voice. Her 21 singles have had considerably more staying power than those from Born This Way”the third, “Set Fire to the Rain,” just became the third to hit No. 1”which means that when the dust settles (again) and 2012 ends, some other 21 single probably will still be jerking tears (“Turning Tables”?) or rocking the house (“Rumour Has It”?).
Even Gaga’s videos and live award show performances are no longer the talk of every town, not when Adele hits the same stage, accompanied by a tremolo piano melody, effortlessly knocking rare notes way back into the nosebleed seats, and bringing on the heartbreak with Someone Like You. She did just that at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards in September, and she walked away with the most-talked-about live TV performance of the year (without having to reveal that she was pregnant!). Gaga performed You and I at the VMAs, but it was Adele whose song was No. 1 on the Hot 100 within days of the ceremony.
Adele will likely steal Gaga’s GRAMMY thunder, too. Gaga scored her third Album of the Year nomination for Born This Way (her second was for the 2009 EP The Fame Monster), but there’s no stopping the Adele express, which is likely to run over everything in its path. Gaga may have to settle for Favorite Album of the Year at the January 11 People’s Choice Awards.
So hit or miss? I’d say Born This Way falls somewhere between stunning success and magnificent failure, definitely closer to the former when both artistry and commerce are accounted for. Derivative first single aside, the album was an uncompromising pop opus, one that is musically to the left of the one that made Gaga a superstar.
Had its more difficult tracks””ScheiíŸe” and, say, Heavy Metal Lover”been recorded by someone like M.I.A. or an obscure European electronica act, they probably would have been declared masterpieces of iconoclastic electro-pop. “Judas,” for sure, would have had considerably lowered chart expectations (it hit No. 10). Released under any other name, Born This Way, far as it is from the mainstream that Katy Perry and Rihanna call home, probably would have sold a small fraction of what it did sell with Gaga’s name plastered on the cover.
There’ll be future hits for her, though, more GRAMMY nominations. And even if her reign as the hottest thing in music is over for good, Adele shouldn’t get too comfortable at the top. In pop, nobody stays there forever.
According to the Web site for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), its mission is a simple yet noble one: “to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.’
Elsewhere on the Web site, the NAACP offers a detailed description of its annual Image Awards: “the nation’s premier multi-cultural awards show celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture and writing and directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.”
Got that? Okay.
If those definitions hold, what, then, is a singer like Adele doing in a place like this, as a nominee at the 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards?
She recently received two NAACP Image Award nominations”Oustanding Song and Video for her massive No. 1 hit “Someone Like You”and, presumably, she will be on hand to win or lose when the prizes are handed out on February 17, live on NBC. Naturally, controversy”and publicity”ensued because unlike fellow multiple-nominee Beyoncé, Adele happens to be white.
But you already knew that. So what, exactly, does Adele or her music have to do with the advancement of colored people?
It makes one wonder who is on the NAACP’s nominating committee and what their motives might be? Maybe collecting more press attention by inviting the best-selling artist of 2011 to the ceremony as a double nominee and stirring the controversy pot while they’re at it.
Or perhaps the Adele is the behind-the-scenes key to why the ceremony, which is normally broadcast on the Fox network, found a home this year on the considerably whiter NBC. It will air five days after the GRAMMYs, and if Adele is that evening’s big winner”and we have every reason to expect her to be”she’ll be the best bait to lure viewers to the Image Awards short of raising Michael Jackson from the dead and giving him a ticket to the event.
NBC will win, but artists who are truly representative of music of color won’t. Unlike past British blue-eyed soul singers like George Michael and Lisa Stansfield, up to now, Adele hasn’t even displayed any particularly powerful affinity to American black music (it’s telling that the artists she covered on her first two albums, 19 and 21, were Bob Dylan and the Cure), and although she’s earned the respect of black performers (Jeremih, for one, has covered Rumour Has It live), it’s not like Adele’s singles have been big hits on R&B radio.
It’s a little absurd that she would make the Outstanding Video shortlist while Kelly Rowland, a black performer who had the best video of the year by anyone of any color, was left off for “Motivation.” Meanwhile, conspicuously absent from the list of nominees in the music categories: Rihanna, the top black female artist at the moment, whose music or whose, um, image, apparently, isn’t black enough for NAACP recognition.
So why is Adele’s? She’s a great singer, and she sings with great soul, but she’s not a “soul” singer. There is a distinction, you know, and it has less to do with being a certain color than sounding a certain color. The late Teena Marie may have been white, but she was a soul singer right down to her core. Every note that comes out of Adele’s mouth sounds like a gift from God, but there’s no mistaking the color of the wrapping paper.
While I’m not a genre purist, and I don’t support musical segregation based on race, by its very definition, the NAACP is a segregationist organization. Not in a way that screams, Blacks only! but in a way that is meant to promote and advance minorities, people of color (which would include 2012 Image acting nominees Sandra Oh and Sofia Vergara). There’s no getting around that aspect of the NAACP”it’s not written in stone, just into its name.
Maybe it’s time to rethink the acronym and what it stands for (it hasn’t been okay to call blacks colored people in my lifetime), as well as defining the NAACP’s purpose when it comes to the Image Awards’s music categories and the need for them to begin with. It makes sense to honor minority actors in TV and film because they are largely overlooked at the Emmys and the Oscars. This year, the acting nominations for Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard, both of whom are white, feel appropriate because The Help was a film that detailed the black-white experience in the Deep South of the 1960s, and of the principal cast, they’re the two who were left out of the Oscar discussion”and nominations.
But mainstream music award shows already do a pretty good job of honoring and featuring black talent. And it’s not like Adele isn’t going to get her due everywhere else. Do we need to add the Image Awards to the list of Adele-propping organizations? Aren’t all of those GRAMMYs she’s destined to win on February 12 enough?
One could argue that the NAACP Image Awards isn’t even seriously dedicated to advancing or celebrating black music. What else would explain the absence of a category to honor rap, the premiere black musical art form in 2012? This means Adele is nominated and not Nicki Minaj, a popular rapper who is possibly the best role model on the charts today.
If image were the primary concern, and one would expect it to be with an Image award, Minaj’s is more than worthy of merit. She has done as much as anyone to bridge genres and color-based demographics. Her biggest hit, “Super Bass,” received some of its earliest praise from Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, and she’s collaborated with artists as varied”and white”as Eminem, Natasha Bedingfield, David Guetta, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, the Lonely Island and Madonna. Minaj also has been as much of an advocate for gay rights as Lady Gaga without being patronizing about it. Meanwhile, Adele collects accolade after accolade and basks in the glow of her spotlight.
I’m not saying that Adele doesn’t deserve everything she’s gotten. She does”with the exception of this. If she wins either of the Image awards she’s nominated for”and considering how weak the Outstanding Video category is, how could she not?”in what way will that be advancing people of color, or their music?
Snoop has been a busy boy. Aside from promoting his super successful single, Young, Wild & Free, and working on the highly-anticipated film, Mac & Devin Go To High School with Wiz Khalifa, he’s also resurrecting the Dogg Pound as executive producer, headlining Coachella with Dr. Dre and launching a new brand in the meantime.
Snoop’s latest venture is Executive Branch, a new line of cigars that will be sold for $0.99 per pouch. If his latest arrest is any indication, something tells me these aren’t really for smoking tobacco. Still, the proud pothead was arrested this month in Texas, for possession of marijuana on his tour bus.
While the pot possession wasn’t so surprising, the location of the sniff-out was quite coincidental. His bus was stopped at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, the exact same spot where Willie Nelson was busted in 2010. Despite Snoop’s valid California pot prescription, Texas enforced their zero drug policy and cited Snoop on misdemeanor drug possession. If convicted, he could face up to six months in prison.
Legal woes aside, Snoop is riding high with the success of his recent collaboration with Wiz Khalifa. Their recent album, Mac + Devin Go To High School produced the platinum single, Young, Wild & Free and set tongues wagging about their upcoming feature film of the same title. Poised as this generation’s Cheech & Chong, the duo shows no signs of slowing down. Snoop seems to take pride in the big brother role he’s assumed in Khalifa’s career.
My brother from another mother. Everything I loved he loved. It was like watching myself all over again just seeing a young Snoop Dogg all over again,” he said. “He had a lot of people in his hands and he was leading them in the right direction and I was just wanted to make sure that he knew that he was doing the right thing and to keep doing what he was doing. He continued to do it,” he said of Khalifa. Based on the enduring success of Khalifa’s brand, (he’s up for two GRAMMYs next month), Snoop’s done a good job as mentor.
He’s stepping into another advisory role, this time for Kurupt and Daz‘s upcoming Dogg Pound release, a project he hasn’t worked on since his Death Row days. With Dr. Dre by his side, the two will executive produce the upcoming album, Alumni. In an interview with AllHipHop.com, Kurupt said the chemistry is definitely there. Snoop is overseeing. We put the beats together, submit it to him [Dr. Dre] to let him know what we are working with and he comes and adds his flavor to it. It’s natural.
The Dogg Pound project won’t be the last of Snoop and Dre’s collabs, as the two will be headlining both weekends of Coachella this year. While the jury is still out on whether Detox will ever see the light of day, the team up with Snoop is certainly a good sign. Realigning himself with Dre is sure to result in some classic throwbacks, and his continuing work with Khalifa solidifies his spot in the new hip hop market, Snoop may just have his best year yet.