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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Introducing the Barackness Monster

Jimmy Fallon wanted to slow jam the news, and thank goodness he had POTUS in attendance to help him. Does the Commander-in-Chief get nervous when he’s got to add some swagger to his speeches? Aw, PELL no! Watch below.

Black Lips bring Biggie Smalls back from the grave

Tupac wasn’t the only dead rapper to make a comeback at Coachella this year. The Notorious B.I.G. appeared during the Black Lips set, and it looks like it cost a lot less money for the band to conjure Biggie up than it did for Dr. Dre and his Tupac hologram. But watch the video below and judge for yourself.

The Bad

Rihanna talks that talk in new documentary

Rihanna has released a video on her YouTube channel that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the tail end of her Loud Tour. And what it shows us is that RiRi loves a good prank, says the word three like tree when she’s home in Barbados and has some hard core fans. So much so that she has to lock herself in a clothing store to ward off a mob of admirers. Well, there are worse places to get locked up, right?

Kids warn Thom Yorke could steal your toothbrush

Kids say the darndest things, and never so much as when they’re forced to listen to Radiohead’s Paranoid Android and share their thoughts. Turns out that NDUBZ is way better, Thom Yorke has no friends and eats only vegetables and if someone forgets your name, you should say, Dude, come on. My name’s Erin.

The Ugly

Jennifer Hudson testifies in family murder trial

This week Jennifer Hudson has been in a Chicago courtroom to testify against her ex brother-in-law, William Balfour, who is charged with killing Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew in 2008. When the prosecution showed photos of her slain nephew, Hudson and her sister stepped outside. If convicted, Balfour faces a mandatory life sentence.

Cher sells key to Australian city on eBay

If she could turn back time, Cher might not have sold her key to the Australian city of Adelaide”at least not on eBay where everyone could see. The city’s officials are exceptionally disappointed that the pop star would choose to part with the honor bestowed upon her in 1990. But at least the key is valued by someone”the top bid was for $81,000.

Miscellany

 

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Digging Into Deep Purple's Paisley Past

If you’re like 99.9% of the population, the words Deep Purple instantly evoke the quintessential classic-rock power-chord riff that drives Smoke On The Water. Secondarily, the stratospheric wail of Ian Gillan screeching out the chorus of Highway Star might leap to mind. Both are to ˜70s rock what the lion’s roar is to MGM, and they make it immediately clear why Deep Purple has always been revered as one of the bedrock bands whose hard-rock tonnage paved the way for heavy metal (In it’s day, it was considered heavy metal). Given this knowledge, you might feel confident in knowing all one needs to know about the band. You’d be wrong.

Long ago and far away, back in the days of paisley and patchouli, there was another Deep Purple. Today it’s commonly referred to as the Mk. I version of the band. And while it included three-fifths of the classic ˜70s lineup, it was a different beast entirely. Keyboardist Jon Lord, guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore and drummer Ian Paice were all on board for the original incarnation of Purple, but instead of Gillan’s piercing wail, Deep Purple Mk. I boasted the low, soulful tones of Rod Evans, while Nick Simper occupied the bass chair rather than Roger Glover, and instead of chugging, chomping, hard-stomping proto-metal, they played a progressive-pointing brand of psychedelia.

In fact, the psychedelically inclined version of the band made no less than three albums between 1968 and ’69”Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn and a self-titled third outing. In the US, these releases have largely been swept under the rug, which is ironic, considering that ˜60s Purple’s greatest success by far was in America, where they scored three chart hits, most notably a churning cover of roots-rocker Joe South‘s Hush. In fact, more people probably know that song from the Deep Purple version than the original. Nevertheless, all three albums have been languishing in obscurity for years, remaining out of print and all but forgotten by the world at large. Thankfully, the balance of rock & roll history can be restored to its proper position at last, with the Eagle Records reissue of Deep Purple Mk. I’s entire output, expertly remastered and featuring a brace of bonus tracks.

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Sound And Vision: Where Is the Love? — The Disappearing Power-Ballad Duet

Back in the day, every major female pop star had one: a male pop star (or two, or three or more) who loved her”at least on the record and on the charts. Over the years, Barbra Streisand had Neil Diamond, Barry Gibb and Bryan Adams. Diana Ross had Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and Julio Iglesias. Olivia Newton-John, Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Nicks had their pick of men (Andy Gibb, Don Henley, Aaron Neville, Tom Petty and John Travolta, among them.) Whitney Houston had Teddy Pendergrass, Bobby Brown, Enrique Iglesias and George Michael. Madonna had Prince. Celine Dion had Peabo Bryson and R. Kelly. Mariah Carey had Luther Vandross, and so did Janet Jackson.
But where did the love go? Though there have been scattered duet hits in recent years (Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown‘s “No Air,” Ciara and Justin Timberlake‘s “Love Sex Magic”), they are fewer and much farther between. On the Billboard Hot 100 dated March 19, 2011, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson‘s country chart topper, was the only traditional male-female duet, way down at No. 34.
I’d say that part of the blame lies with the faltering power ballad, which isn’t the chart force that it was in the days when Celine Dion ruled the airwaves. Consider pop’s leading single males: Both of Usher‘s and Enrique Iglesias’s two recent Top 10 Hot 100 singles have been not ballads but dance-oriented collaborations with rappers and, in the case of Usher’s “OMG,” Will.i.am. Chris Brown’s comeback-in-progress also has been harder-edged and boosted by male guest stars like Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, and of Justin Bieber‘s two Top 10s to date, neither has been a ballad, both were with rappers.
But it’s not just about what the public seems to want” it seems to be what the artists want, too. Why play the conventional good girl, duetting with Usher or Iglesias, when it’s so much more fun being bad? In the past year or so, both Rihanna and Katy Perry have gone Top 10 with rappers (Eminem and Drake, and Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, respectively). Meanwhile, Ke$ha went there with electronica hipsters 3OH!3 (after scoring her first hit riding shotgun with Flo Rida), and Beyoncé and Lady Gaga got there together.
As for the guys, boy-on-boy (or boys) rule: Bruno Mars with B.o.B and Travie McCoy, Jeremih with 50 Cent, Usher and Iglesias with Pitbull, Iglesias and Bieber with Ludacris. If it were 2001, Iglesias, or Ricky Martin, probably already would have zipped up the charts with Katy Perry and/or Rihanna on his arm. But it’s 2011, and just as every good girl wants a bad-boy rapper by her side, it seems the hit-making males would rather roll with the rough boys than mush it up with the ladies.
Will the power ballad survive the current disinterest in them? Can singing couples make a comeback? I’d be surprised if they didn’t. Pop music is cyclical, and if Jennifer Lopez can rise again, so can love (which, incidentally happens to be the title of J. Lo’s upcoming album, minus a question mark). All it needs is the right tag team to deliver it back into the public’s good graces and up the charts. I’d pay money to hear Pink and Adam Lambert together, but would the masses buy it? I’m not so sure, but wouldn’t it be just like them both to try and find out?

10 Things In Pop Music To Look Forward To In 2011

What’s the best thing that can happen in 2011? I’m praying for chart comebacks by Shania Twain, Amy Winehouse and Cher; an ABBA and/or Smiths reunion; and the disappearance of Ke$ha, Susan Boyle and Auto-Tune. But this isn’t a New Year’s wish list, or my beautiful dark twisted fantasy. Reality bites most of the time, but the pop forecast calls for some exciting stuff that actually will happen.
Kelly Clarkson’s new album. Our lives would suck without her! It’s been too long since Clarkson’s last chart sighting, and if the recent preview of “You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like” at the “A Night for Hope” event in Nashville is a harbinger of what to expect when she releases her fifth album (in early 2011, according to her October 4 tweet), it’s already hovering near the top of my to-download list.
Best New Artist at the 2011 GRAMMYs: Florence + the Machine? The eligibility requirements in this category have been muddy for years: Four of the five nominees released music before the 2010 eligibility period. And last year offered such an embarrassment of riches that, for better or worse (mostly better), new hitmakers like Ke$ha, Jason Derülo, Bruno Mars, B.0.B, Le Roux, Mike Posner, Nicki Minaj, Adam Lambert and Susan Boyle didn’t make the cut. Fellow Canucks Justin Bieber and Drake will have the commercial edge on February 13, but a vote for the UK’s Florence + the Machine would be a vote for quality over quantity of sales.
A Glee-free Matthew Morrison. I first met Morrison about 10 years ago when he was in a boy band called LMNT (as in “Element”” and, yes, dreadful name). I always thought he had star quality, but I don’t think Glee, on which he’s saddled with the straight-man role, properly spotlights his musical gifts. May his optimistically titled February album, Bringing It to the Masses, show the world that there’s much more to Mr. Schuester than a can-do attitude and a sweet, crooked smile.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame welcomes (drum roll)… Neil Diamond. I’ve had my issues with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees over the years, but they wouldn’t include Diamond, who’s finally being recognized after years of not even being nominated. For those who gripe that he’s not really rock & roll, the Hall has never been about the genre as strictly defined by snobby purists. Otherwise, legends like Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Cash and Madonna wouldn’t be in it. Neither would any of Motown’s classic ’60s and ’70s stars (including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and, yes, Michael Jackson), Steely Dan, or Paul Simon. So on March 14, raise a glass of red red wine to Diamond. He rocks.
Britney Spears gets grimier. Rumors of her career’s demise a few years ago were greatly exaggerated”and premature. Producer Dr. Luke has promised that Spears’s seventh album, due in March, will be “harder in some ways, and maybe a little more deep into electronica”and grimier.” If that means we can expect it to be more Blackout than Circus, I’m totally in.
The Cars get on the road again. Even with all the reunions of ’80s bands in recent years, I didn’t see this one coming. Free, the Cars’ first studio album in 13 years (featuring all the original members, minus Benjamin Orr who died in 2000), will be out in the spring, and the band is revving up for a tour. They’ve posted three previews on their Facebook page, and like the best teasers, they leave you wanting more.
Justin Timberlake brings sexy back”again. Timberlake’s The Social Network turn as Napster founder/inaugural Facebook president Sean Parker was odd but intriguing, as he played him as equal parts swishy playboy, smooth operator, party monster and raging opportunist. But my favorite of his scenes was his first, when he wakes up in bed with a total stranger. I’m looking forward to more clever post-coital banter when Friends with Benefits, his romantic comedy with Mila Kunis, opens on July 22.
Simon Cowell’s The X Factor. Where Simon goes, I suspect American Idol fans will follow. But if he’s really signing on Cheryl Cole”who’s huge in the UK but a nobody in the US”as a judge for the new US version of the talent search, which launches in September, he’d better reach for the superstars for the third one.
Jennifer Hudson proves that her Oscar win wasn’t a fluke”or not. After three more-or-less filler films following her Academy Award for Dreamgirls, ex-Idol contestant Hudson’s first leading role in Winnie (a biopic of Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife) will be the real test of her Hollywood potential. But to pull off this tough assignment, she’ll have to offer more emotional depth than the slightly vacant look she wears throughout the trailer.
No more Mariah Carey pregnancy rumors. This media obsession with baby bumps and celebrity procreating has got to stop. Who cares? Frankly, I’ve got more interesting trivial pursuits with which to fill my spare time. But thank God, unless Carey gets knocked up again immediately after delivering twins next year, we can all get over her belly and move on to more important things, like Katy Perry’s.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame winners announced

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its selection for 2011 inductees this week. Those who made the cut: Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Darlene Love. Eligible nominees like Bon Jovi will have to live on a prayer for another year.

OK Go lead GPS parade around Los Angeles

For their latest video caper OK Go took to the streets with their fans, friend and total strangers for a parade along a 8.5-mile route in LA. But not just any route, a route that spelled out OK Go using the Range Rover’s Pulse of the City App. Check it out below.

The Bad

Remember when Miley Cyrus was busted smoking salvia out of bong?

Scandal erupted last week when a video emerged showing Miley Cyrus smoking the legal herb salvia out of a bong. Billy Ray Cyrus poured out his achy breaky heart on Twitter, and the blogosphere erupted in posts about Miley going bad. This week Miley was spotted partying on the town in New Orleans with Kelly Osbourne. See guys, nothing to worry about!

The Ugly

Fans outraged over documentary on Michael Jackson’s autopsy

A documentary called Michael Jackson’s Autopsy: What Really Killed Michael Jackson is scheduled to air next month in the United Kingdom on the Discovery Channel, enraging some of the King of Pop’s fans. Because the show’s medical examiners don’t have access to Jackson’s actual body, an anatomically correct synthetic cadaver will be used to demonstrate the autopsy instead. Fans cried foul, saying Jackson should be allowed a minimum of decency and respect. We cry foul for that reason, and cause face it, the thought of a naked Michael Jackson cadaver is kind of foul.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees announced

Champagne’s a flowin’ at the homes of Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, LL Cool J and Dr. John, who among others, were all nominated into the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. The induction ceremony will take place on March 14th in Cleveland, Ohio. We would like an Alice Cooper/Neil Diamond duet please ¦ to whoever is taking requests.

Joe Jonas is ridin’ solo

Following in his little bro’s footsteps, or maybe heeding the advice of Jason Derülo, Joe Jonas announced plans to record a solo all by himself. Something with a sexier, Justin Timberlake vibe, says the Middle One. Sexier than Camp Rock? Can it be done? We’ll all find out in 2011¦

The Bad

Mariah Carey falls in Singapore

If you’re gonna fall, fall with class. Like Mariah Carey, who took a tumble in Singapore but smiled the whole way down. Then things got a little more diva-ish when Carey yelled for her assistant to come help her take her shoes off while the band kept playing Make It Happen. Check it out below.

Katy Perry avenges her Sesame Street snub

On SNL this past weekend, Katy Perry avenged her Sesame Street-banned bust by donning a low-cut Elmo t-shirt and bouncing around on a sofa. Those muppets must be seeing red!

The Ugly

MC Hammer starts beef with Jay Z

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Back story: On Kanye West’s song So Appalled, Jay-Z delivers a line about blowing through $30,000 like Hammer. Well, Mr. MC Hammer was none too pleased about that, and responded on Twitter by linking to a video of himself beating up a punching bag. You want my attention [Jigga] you got it. Punch, punch, punch. It’s all kind of embarrassing and feeble, but we’ll play along. Please Hammer, don’t hurt him!

Miscellany