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Sound and Vision: Wanted: An Out and Proud Gay Or Lesbian Chart Phenomenon!

Gays and lesbians have come a long way in entertainment since the days when George Michael had to have faith and pretend to want a woman in the “Father Figure” video to sell millions of albums. Although there’s no telling whether Queen would have been as successful in the ’70s and early ’80s had Freddie Mercury definitively outed himself as a lower-case queen, for the most part, today’s closeted male superstars don’t have to wait until they are about to succumb to an AIDS-related illness to publicly acknowledge their sexuality (like Rock Hudson did)”or not (like Liberace and, well, Mercury).

That doesn’t mean coming out of the closet still won’t have a negative effect on the bankability of gay music stars. This is why most of them still choose to wait until they don’t have too much to lose. Elton John, Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken, Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes and Michael all did it after their blockbuster days were over.

Though Hayes continues to release solo records that earn critical raves, it’s been years since he was A-list on the charts. John is a superstar for life, but his most notable post-coming out success (the 33 million-selling worldwide No. 1 single “Candle in the Wind ’97”) was with a song he sang to a dearly departed princess. How gay! Rufus Wainwright, despite critical plaudits, has never had gold album in the US.

Then there is Adam Lambert, the perfect example of how to be an out and gay pop star. He has a vociferous fan base, but his commercial performance isn’t commensurate with his level of fan devotion. He should be selling as many singles as Justin Bieber, but his last one, “Better Than I Know Myself,” was a chart dud (No. 76 on Billboard’s Hot 100), resulting in Trespassing, his sophomore album, being pushed back from March to a May 15 release date. Do we blame it on a weak single, or a pop constituency that’s still skittish about fully embracing a proudly out singer? (more…)

Waking Up The Windsors

Slydigs

With the exception of Pete Doherty, the English are generally considered to be a proper, buttoned-up folk. Fair or not, that’s the pigeonhole. But, if we’re going to categorize Northern England’s Slydigs, we’ll need to move them closer to Doherty than the Windsors, if only for their shared love of the raw and rambunctious side of Britpop. Put on Electric Love and it’s there in full force: the feral yawp of guitars, the thrashing drums, the low-throttle growl of the bass. It’s music that walks the line between jubilation and hysteria”the same line that bands like Jet, The Strokes and Mooney Suzuki have walked with success in the past. On If You Only Live Once, singer Dean Fairhurst suggests, If you only live once / let’s get on with living against a bopping beat and the scribble of guitars. Our favorite track is The World Waits (For No One)”, a driving melody with a triumphant chorus that tugs at the heart strings. Put it on the stereo on your next road trip and get on with living.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

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

Festivus: All Together Now

One of the most delicious aspects of a music festival is its ability to bring people together. Black or white, rich or poor, punk rockers or folk singers, everyone gathers together to share in the good times. Chances are you have friends that you specifically see at festivals and no other time during the year. Maybe camping out under the stars and listening to your favorite bands together for 3 days a year punctuates your friendship, like little markers in musical time.  But fans aren’t the only ones being brought together for these cosmic, fleeting instances. Festivals are the perfect forum for a band to reunite. What better way to guarantee a giant crowd for a group that’s been off the map for several years? Combine the surefire audience with incredibly open-minded and eager new fans waiting for sounds to indulge, and BAM, you got an instant comeback. This summer the stage is been set for 2 choice bands to reemerge at 2 major festivals. What they do with that opportunity, however, is entirely up to them.

The Libertines

The Libertines first formed in 1997 as the brainchild of Pete Doherty and Carl Barí¢t, and influenced the garage rock revival of the time in addition to spearheading the “The” titled bands movement in the UK. The band enjoyed some successes, including a Number 2 single and Number 1 album on the UK charts. Despite their self-titled second album being named second best album of the year by NME magazine in 2004 and having 2 full length EPs produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, the band soon fell prey to internal turmoil, emanating from Doherty’s addiction to crack cocaine and heroin.

Last month it was announced that all four original members of The Libertines, including bassist John Hassall and drummer Gary Powell, will be reforming to perform at the Reading and Leeds festival this August.  Rumors have circulated that the band is writing new material and, if all goes well, additional tour dates may be added. However, if Doherty’s recent drug related arrest is any indication of things to come, The Libertines are in a for a rocky road.

Soundgarden

Let’s turn our attention to late 1980s, early 1990s grunge. Soundgarden emerged out of, where else, Seattle, and was the first grunge band to sign with a major label (A&M) thus paving the way for bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.  But the chart-topping album Superunknown in 1994, followed by 2 Grammy-award winning singles may have proven to be too much pressure, and the band split in 1997 due to disagreements over creative direction.

But as we all know, grunge is back in a big, bad, dirty way. This past New Year’s Eve, Chris Cornell used Twitter to announce the band would indeed be reuniting for this year’s Lollapalooza show in Chicago. “The 12-year break is over and school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!” Needless to say, expectations are high.

So the magic of festival season has brought 2 revolutionary bands back together once again. Will The Libertines and Soundgarden stay together long enough to continue influencing generations to come? Or will these reunions simply be a fleeting moment in the vast summer festival season?

Discourse & Dischord

OSBlog02_Discourse_Dec09_Week1

Introducing “Discourse & Dischord” a new column wrapping up the week in music and delivering it to you with a big, fat bow every Friday. This week: The Strokes, Adam Lambert, Chris Brown, Susan Boyle and more.




The Good

The Strokes announce first gig since October 2006

the strokes julian casablancas phrazes for the young

Photo Credit: Marcos Hermes

It’s been three years since the Strokes’ last live show, and the interim has been filled with band members’ solo projects (Albert Hammond Jr.’s Yours To Keep, Fabrizio Moretti’s work with Little Joy and Julian Casablanca’s latest, Phrazes For The Young). So you wouldn’t have to be much of a gambler to wager that a Strokes breakup might be imminent.

This week the band laid any such fears to rest by announcing a headlining gig at England’s Isle of Wight festival on June 11-13. The Strokes will join the likes of Jay-Z, Blondie and Orbital. Jittery mod rock, shaggy hair and monochromatic croons ”it’s been too long.

Susan Boyle beats Gaga and Rihanna (not literally)

Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed A Dream"

Susan Boyle

Our Lady of Blackburn emerged at the top of the Billboard charts this week with her Sony debut, I Dreamed A Dream.

The Scottish singer edged out pop front runners including Rihanna, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga with her album of covers. As you may recall, Boyle’s performance of the title track on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent made her an internet sensation.  And she didn’t even have to simulate fellatio on her guitar player (note to self, Lambert).

The Bad

Adam Lambert, Chris Brown and ABC: A Tale in Three Parts

Photo Credit: Djansezian/Getty

Photo Credit: Djansezian/Getty

Speaking of Lambertkins, you may have heard a little bit about his recent AMA performance. In short, he did some naughty things on stage, and subsequently got booted from his upcoming gig on Good Morning America. Network executives claimed Lambert wasn’t wholesome enough for a morning audience, then, in a brain fart heard ˜round the world, replaced him with convicted girlfriend-abuser Chris Brown. Cries of outrage ensued. This week ABC announced that Brown will not be performing on GMA after all, and instead will be interviewed on 20/20 on December 4. Brown’s replacement on GMA will be wholesome Al Qaeda terrorist Syed Hashmi. (Not really, but you never know with these guys.)

The Ugly

Pete Doherty booed off stage for singing Nazi national anthem in Munich. That headline says it all.

Bits and Pieces

¢    Phish cover TV On The Radio’s Golden Age in Albany

¢    Spoon releases album art for upcoming Transference

¢    New Gorillaz record to feature Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Barry Gibb, says Damon Albarn

¢    Lady Gaga wipes out

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