Remember how OurStage took one talented band’s dream of dominating the national stage, rocking out in front of a huge live audience, and making their way into the hearts and homes of millions, and turned it into a reality?
So do we.
On October 1, 2012, OurStage gave the opportunity of a lifetime to electro-funk rockers Eclectic Approach, as we sent them off to Hollywood to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a broadcast audience of almost 2 million viewers.
Eclectic Approach has been on an upward trajectory at breakneck speeds since winning Season 2 of The OurStage Panel earlier this year. Check out the band’s inspirational journey and performance on Kimmel‘s hit late-night talk show, RIGHT HERE.
Charlie Sheen has never been a man to mince words. The gloriously candid actor who brought phrases like “bi-winning” and “tiger blood” into the cultural lexicon recently turned his caustic sense of humor on a not-entirely-undeserving candidate: Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose.
At the Hollywood Walk of Fame induction of former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, Sheen noted, “It’s quite fitting that Slash is getting a star on the very street Axl Rose will one day be sleeping on.” He added, “This star is going to be stepped on more than the coke we did in the Eighties.” Bravo, Charlie.
Now, some might argue that Rose is too easy of a target for Sheen, whose words could seem like an unfair low blow to the beleaguered aging rocker. Yet, when you consider that Rose routinely shows up hours late for performances and that his management has banned fans from wearing Slash t-shirts at Guns N’ Roses concerts, well, Sheen’s jibes don’t seem totally unwarranted.
At least Slash clearly enjoyed them, turning and apparently stifling a laugh during Sheen’s characteristically outlandish speech. It’s the least we can expect from the wild actor who, among other strange boasts, has recently attested that he can see the ghosts of dead relatives. We’re going to let that one slide.
The more things change in the music industry, the more one thing in particular stays the same: Radio remains as integral to star- and hit-making as it was back in the days when Bill Haley & His Comets first rocked around the clock. Video may have killed the radio star in the 1980s, but today”if you get the sound and vision right”you still could live long on radio, and YouTube too.
Nowadays, though, even if you don’t look like Katy Perry or Rihanna”and/or if your sound doesn’t quite fit radio’s increasingly slender formats”there are other options. Ten years ago, Moby became a superstar”mining multi-platinum with his Play album”despite having virtually no radio airplay and looking nothing like a traditional pop idol, after licensing every single track on the CD to movies, TV shows and commercials. By the time “South Side” became a bonafide radio hit, making it all the way to No. 14 in 2001, nearly two years after Play‘s release, it was gravy. The following year, Moby’s fellow electronica act, Dirty Vegas, scored a No. 14 hit of its own after “Days Go By” popped up in a Mitsubishi Eclipse TV commercial.
Hollywood and Madison Avenue have borrowed from pop for years (for a price), often using well-known tracks by established artists, but recently, they’ve been selling new music, and up-and-coming acts (along with their own product) like never before. Some agencies are even launching their own labels, as is the case with RKCR/ Y&R. In 2008, music placement in ads helped M.I.A. land an unlikely Top 10 hit after “Paper Planes” was cast in the trailer for the film Pineapple Express. Coldplay‘s “Viva la Vida,” the Ting Tings “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and Mary J. Blige‘s “Work That” all became chart hits after starting life in iTunes commercials, and the chart life span of Yael Naim’s “New Soul” was extended by it’s use in an Apple MacBook Air TV ad.
Sade enjoyed her biggest hit single in 20 years in January when “Soldier of Love” became as much a beneficiary of the TV promos for the final season of Lost as the show itself. Then along came Britain’s Florence and the Machine, virtually unknown in the US until the single “Dog Days Are Over” upstaged Julia Roberts in the trailer for Eat Pray Love. That massive exposure raised Florence’s profile before a plum gig performing the song on the MTV Video Music Awards in September helped the single surge to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and boosted its parent album, Lungs, to No. 14. (What is it about that number?)
Meanwhile, Brit band Muse also has benefited from heavy trailer action and owes much of its high US profile to the overuse of its music in movies (in particular, the Twilight series), trailers and TV promos, such as the newly released global TV campaign for Virgin Atlantic Airways and the much touted 2010 Super Bowl Google spot. “Map of the Problematique” has featured in ads for Prison Break, The Children of Men and the upcoming Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp film The Tourist, and “Uprising” popped up earlier this year in the trailer for Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz’s Knight and Day.
Rihanna’s “Rockstar 101″ saw increased sales on iTunes and a surge in popularity after being featured in a commercial for MTV’s Video Music Awards as well as becoming the soundtrack for the promos of the CW’s new show Nikita. Who’ll be next? Christina Aguilera could use Hollywood’s help now that radio appears to be totally over her. But even if her debut film, Burlesque, flops when it opens on November 24th, maybe the studio will stick her new single in the next trailer and watch both song and star soar [soundtrack hits stores November 16th].
Jeremy Helligar is a former staff writer for People, Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, who now writes about celebrities and pop culture from his couch in Buenos Aires.
In addition to breakout internet stars like The Astronomical Kid (14-year-old Brooklynite Brian Bradley), two other youngsters are taking the music industry by storm: Willow Smith (the 9-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Smith) and Daniel “Diggy” Simmons (the 15-year-old son of Rev Run). Though it’s hard to ignore the argument of nepotism with regard to Willow and Diggy’s meteoric rise to fame, there’s no question they are capitalizing on their genetic gifts and tenacious talent to launch their solo careers at an age when most kids are still thinking about a driver’s permit, or in Willow’s case, riding the big rides.
While young starlets are not a new trend”(think Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez) both Willow and Diggy have bypassed the typical Disney-tinged, tween idol approach and gone straight to the big leagues. Neither of their singles, Diggy’s “Oh Yeah” with labelmate Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell or Willow’s “Whip My Hair” scream teeny bopper kid” pop. Instead, both hold court with the hottest hits on the pop charts, giving their older counterparts a run for their money (and likely an award or two).
Diggy signed with Atlantic Records in March of this year after his debut mixtape, The First Flight, hit his blog in December 2009, garnering critical acclaim most notably for freestyling over Nas’ track “Made You Look.”
He also inked a deal to rep AT&T in a national TV ad campaign, proving his star power is strong enough to hawk expensive PDA’s to adults rather than lunchboxes and notebooks to kids. Diggy’s latest mixtape, Airborne, released through Atlantic in September seems to serve as a tasty teaser while he continues working on his debut full length album.
But Diggy was well known to the American public before his recent success. The budding rapper, designer, blogger and entrepreneur first arrived in our living rooms at tender age of 10 when his family’s hit reality show, Run’s House, aired on MTV in 2005. It’s not a stretch to see the musical prodigy (progeny) exploring a career in music considering his dad is legendary DJ, Rev. Run of Run DMC and his uncle Russell, heads up Def Jam”though Diggy claims no help from his dad or uncle in getting the deal with Atlantic. Diggy’s siblings including brother Jo Jo and older sisters, Angela and Vanes (from Rev. Run’s first marriage to Valerie Vaughn) also carved their own careers from the success of the show”launching, in Jo Jo’s case, a music career, while the sisters opted to start a shoe line, acting roles and star in their own MTV spin-off, Daddy’s Girls.
Willow Smith, on the other hand has been in the public eye seemingly from infancy, both as a style icon and as the daughter of one of the most compelling couples in Hollywood. Willow began her acting career at age 8 alongside mom, Jada Pinkett-Smith in Madagascar 2 before showing off her musical talents with her simultaneously kid-friendly and adult smash single, “Whip My Hair.” Shortly after the single was leaked online in September, Willow signed with Roc Nation where label President, Jay-Z compared her to a young Michael Jackson. The single has been so successful legions of young fans (and adults too) began making their own videos to the addictive tune. Willow’s official video for the track, which was directed by Ray Kay (Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga) and debuted on BET earlier this week, features some serious moves, guest appearances and one messy paint fight.
Rumors of a duet between Diggy and Willow seem inevitable. For the moment, we’ll just have to enjoy their musical (and marketing) genius individually.
Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.
The time and effort it takes to make it big is in no way negligible. That’s why, when an artist who’s been trying to break through for 5 years and finally thinks they see light at the end of the tunnel suffers a heartbreaking setback, it’s usually too much to overcome and the dream is dead. Emcees Kjae and Traxx of 2 Grown Kidz are a little too familiar with that scenario. Remember MTV’s brief Top Pop Group series in the fall of 2008? 2 Grown Kidz (back then under the name S1) made it into the series and were on their way to the top when they were notified that the series was being canceled after only 6 weeks. But, true to the boundless energy and resilience associated with their name, these big boys didn’t let it hamper their outlook on the future. That same energy is still evident in their sound.
A quick foray into their OurStage catalogue will reveal that despite officially labeling themselves as Hip Pop, their hearts are still very much anchored in the pop arena. In Hollywood, which is, by the way, a much better Californian response to Empire State of Mind than Katy Perry‘s California Gurls, 2 Grown Kidz not so surprisingly pay tribute to the city they have come to call their own. Sleek cymbal swipes and a black-tie tinkling piano combine with layered Usher-esque vocals to open the track, which transfers from lush R&B to rap as soon as the first verse enters the picture. The twosome’s tone here adopts an amiable brand of hedonism, because as irritating as it may be to listen to what boils down to gloating, we somehow find ourselves caught between being proud and jealous of them for singing about the life they lead without rubbing it in our faces. Rhyming about big city lights, warm weather and beautiful women, the song avoids gaping clichéd traps throughout its entirety to retain a sense of class too seldom found in pop oriented hip hop.
Grinder Harder, perhaps their strongest rap song, takes a step away from their traditional themes of women and nostalgia and allows the duo to spend some time on themselves. Opening with enveloping strings that swirl like storm clouds on top of a marching beat that only adds to the building pressure, precipitation finally falls in the form of a confessional from the two emcees on their motivating forces and goals in the game. Said goals and motivations may not be intellectually stimulating, but they do provide a platform for the young emcees to voice their passion through what at times can be best described as a stressed tone (sounding in parts reminiscent of Lil’ Wayne‘s indescribable vocal acks and scratches) and playful wit, notable in lines like Oh yeah I make hits/ just like Sosa/ over the fence/ a home run hitter/ I’m a go-getter/ so if I see money/ I’m runnin’ home with her and “If it ain’t about a dollar then homie don’t say shit/ boy I’m on that money like my name was George Washington.”
They must be telling the truth, because to do what they’ve done to date takes quite the work ethic. Having started their very own production company and added the titles writer, producer and arranger to their resumés, Kjae and Traxx have developed enough talent to make a name for themselves well into bonafide manhood. Check out their sound in the player below, and let us know where you think they place on the boy/man spectrum in the comments!
No matter where country stars show up, whether at a concert, promotional event or on the radio, their fans are usually happy to see them. A movie screen, however, is not somewhere I’m ready to see my favorite country singers. For a community of people so hell bent on staying true to themselves, its no wonder that the majority of films featuring a country star are lacking in the acting department. From Dolly Parton to Reba McIntyre, Willie Nelson to Billy Ray Cyrus, country music stars have long sought out Tinseltown’s spotlight. The question is, do their efforts prove there is a reason for them to leave the safety of Nashville and head for the Hollywood hills?