Music Of The Presidential Inauguration: Beyonce, fun., Kelly Clarkson And More

Last night marked President Obama‘s second inauguration ceremony. Among the many celebrities and speeches of the day, we saw spectacular performances by Beyonce, fun.Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and James Taylor.

Five-time Grammy winner James Taylor was the first to take the stage, with an acoustic rendition of “America The Beautiful.” Kelly Clarkson followed the inaugural address and performed “My Country Tis Of Thee,” while Beyonce closed the performances with “The Star Spangled Banner.”

As the ceremony ended and the Inaugural Ball commenced, Alicia Keys sang her hit “Girl On Fire,” with the simultaneously sweet and awkward title change, “Obama’s On Fire.” Jennifer Hudson provided the soundtrack for the President and First Lady’s dance, as they swayed to a cover of Al Green‘s “Let’s Stay Together” (which the president himself ad-libbed at an event last year). The band fun. then closed the evening with their hit, “We Are Young.” You can view fun.’s performance right here and the rest of the performances after the jump. (more…)

Obama Inauguration Performers To Include Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, James Taylor

To kick off President Obama‘s second term in office, Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and James Taylor will perform at the inauguration on January 21. The eclectic trifecta will respectively tackle the national anthem, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful.” While Clarkson and Taylor are surely fitting in the inauguration performance amid tight schedules (Clarkson was recently engaged and Taylor has been involved in intensive charity work over the holiday season), Beyoncé is undoubtedly the busiest of all the inauguration performers. Barely two weeks after her presidential performance, she’ll appear at the Superbowl XLVII halftime show on February 3, and will see the release of her HBO documentary film “ “a multi-faceted portrait of the 16-time Grammy Award-winning singer, businesswoman, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, wife and mother” “ on February 16. A crazy schedule for sure, but nothing out of the ordinary for Bey’.

If you’re a fan of Beyoncé, check out OurStage artist UltraMi.

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Sound and Vision: Do Today's Pop Music Producers Have Too Much Power?

Something interesting recently went down atop the U.K. singles and album charts. Elton John reigned on the list of best-selling albums with a collection of 40-year-old songs, while Florence + the Machine was No. 1 on the singles chart for the first time ever. The band’s vehicle? A song that was originally produced by Paul Epworth, a regular Adele collaborator (Rolling in the Deep and He Won’t Go, the best song on 21) who had never managed to go that high in the U.K. working with the world’s biggest female pop star.

Alas, he wasn’t exactly scaling that height with Florence either”at least not alone. And therein lies the twist in this chart saga: a good beat. Those Elton John classics had been updated with a danceable 2012 electro sheen by Australian production duo Pnau on the chart-topping Good Morning to the Night, an album featuring dozens of John songs from between 1970 and 1977 crammed into eight tracks and credited to Elton John Vs Pnau, while Florence’s Epworth-produced Ceremonials track “Spectrum” was the leading single via the re-titled and remixed-by-DJ/producer Calvin Harris (for optimal under-the-strobelight consumption) “Spectrum (Say My Name) (Calvin Harris Mix).”

When Bryan Ferry sang, “Don’t stop the dance,” was this what he had in mind? Beat-driven pop where singers share star billing with the producers who boost them to the top? More than ever, the recording arts have become a producer’s medium, in much the same way that film is a director’s medium, with the behind-the-scenes talent dominating both the sound and the vision. (The stage, in singing“when it’s actually live“as in acting, remains the domain of the performer.) With a smaller pool of star producers creating a bigger bulk of the hits, pop music has become as homogenized as Hollywood blockbusters.

According to Ron Fair, a veteran music executive and producer who has worked with Christina Aguilera, Fergie and Lady Gaga, it’s a logical progression from how records are now made. A producer today is a hybrid role of producer, songwriter, and beat maker, he says. What we used to call arranging is now called making beats, so generally, the producer is the guy who walks in with the song. Back in [Beatles producer] George Martin’s and [Linda Ronstadt/James Taylor producer] Peter Asher’s day, they weren’t responsible for making songs.

Dance music, however, has always been more of a producer’s forum than middle-of-the-road pop. But with disco in the ’70s, it didn’t always show. When one remembers Donna Summer’s greatest hits, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” or Amii Stewart’s “Knock on Wood,” the spectacular vocals probably come to mind first, then the beat.  (more…)

Your Country's Right Here: Amelia White Creates "Beautiful and Wild" Musical Tribute

Amelia White didn’t set out to write an album that honored her mentor, much-loved musician Duane Jarvis, perhaps best known for co writing Still I Long For Your Kiss with Lucinda Williams.

Yet when fifty-one-year-old Jarvis died of cancer in 2009, White felt her songwriting muse take over.

I think it just comes naturally to me, said White of the songwriting. A lot of people learn to write because they sing and play; I learned to sing and play because I write.

Although the songs on Beautiful and Wild, White’s recently released fifth studio album, are beautifully written, there’s no denying that she and the players on the album”including John Jackson (Dylan, Shelby Lynn), Frank Swart (Patty Griffin) and Tim Carroll (Elizabeth Cook)”are first rate.

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Live Wired: 2011 Tour Recap

It’s that time of the year where we pretty much feel obligated to make some kind of year-end list that sums up our favorite happenings or people in the music world. But hey, if the world ends in 2012, this could be our last opportunity to make one of these! Anyway, we’re switching it up a little bit”since this is Live Wired, we’re only going to focus on what what went on in arenas and small clubs across the world. Instead of simply making a ‘best of’ list, we’re giving out superlatives to some of the artists and bands who went on tour this year.

Top Grossing & Most Attended: U2 360° Tour

Starting back in 2009, U2 embarked on a worldwide tour and just didn’t stop until the summer of this year. Between all the records they broke and the extravagant set they treated the sold out crowds to each night, this tour was nothing short of amazing. It even grossed about $100 million more than the next best tour this year (Bon Jovi). Total Gross: $293,281,487 / Total Attendance: 2,887,972

 

Most Hyped: Watch The Throne Tour

Two of the biggest names in the world of music, Kanye West and Jay-Z teamed up and finally released their collaboration album Watch The Throne in August, and pleased fans even more by going on tour in support of the release.

 

 

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Vocal Points: Live Vs. Recorded

There’s something exciting about discovering an artist who not only records fantastic music, but can also perfectly duplicate their music onstage. In this auto-tune age, an artist who can rock just as hard every night in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of fans as they do the studio”where they have multiple takes to nail that high note”is a rarity. That’s why I continue to go to live shows. Enduring all the mediocre acts is really worth it when you finally come across an exceptional talent. Vocally, I’ve always been blown away by James Taylor‘s live performance and how well he re-creates his sound live. His gentle and soothing voice translates perfectly to live performance, he is a master at utilizing the tone of his voice to mesh, but also to contrast his simple arrangements.  His low-key delivery is able to captivate his audience and get them intertwined in his magnificent stories.

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