The Super Bowl Halftime Show has become an overblown spectacle of such proportions and delusionary grasping at the straws of musical-artistic relevancy that it quite simply may never be good again. Yet there have been some standout performances – mostly those that concentrate on actual performing. There were some very dark years here and there that were not focused on the artists and their music as much as the pageantry (I’m looking at you Disney), so I didn’t even count those. There were also a lot of ‘meh’ moments that are not really worth getting into.
2000: PHIL COLLINS, CHRISTINA AGUILERA, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS, TONI BRAXTON
I don’t remember this and I’m not going to watch it, but it’s awful. It’s literally the worst thing I’ve never seen.
Philly-based indie rock outfit Free Energy have been bringing classic rock riffs back since the mid 2000s, when three-fifths of their members were part of Minnesota hometown heroes Hockey Night. With Love Sign, the band’s follow-up to their 2010 release Stuck on Nothing, Free Energy is channeling a whole new decade to expand on their ’70s sound. We talked to lead singer Paul Sprangers about the ’80s influences on the new album, his affinity for certain recurring phrases in his lyrics, and what makes the idea of rebellion so appealing.
OS: How did the band approach writing the new material compared to Stuck on Nothing?
Paul Sprangers: Scott and I demoed songs together, like the last record, but this time we were able to bring the songs to the band, work on arrangements, then re-demo, sometimes repeating and refining the process many times. Then the songs would undergo more arranging with John Agnello so we were able to spend more time refining the songs and letting them ferment. We also had a clearer vision of the production aesthetic going in, partly because of our experience working with James, and also because we had been listening to so much mid-80s music in the last 5 years. INXS, Def Leppard, Peter Gabriel, AC/DC, The Bangles, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Ocean. John Agnello worked on the first Outfield record, and a Cyndi Lauper record, so those were two huge sonic reference points. (more…)
Talking by phone from her mother’s Toronto home, she talked about how her 2011 release Little Red Boots inspired her to more fully explore the roots of country music.
Noting that the first book she read was Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams by Phil Hemphill, Ortega discovered Williams was heavily influenced by the blues. “That’s when I started to see a real connection between blues and country. I tried to listen solely to blues for months at a time, right around the time I was writing the songs for this record.”
She enlisted Colin Linden, a renowned producer and blues guitarist who has an extensive knowledge of blues. Linden helped Ortega weave the blues into the outlaw-traditional-country-with-hints-of-rock sound she developed. In a significant way, Cigarettes & Truckstops is an maturation of Ortega’s music from her debut album Little Red Boots. Although her sound is now more sophisticated and blues based, it has the heartfelt sincerety that drew listeners to her earlier work. (more…)
When the rolls of power-pop royalty are read, before one can go back to early-˜70s ur-power-pop bands like Big Star and Badfinger, you have to hail the genre’s late-˜70s/early-˜80s heyday. Among the handful of acts whose names are invariably invoked in that context”Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley, The Knack, The Rubinoos, etc.”Shoes are always near the top of the list. The Zion, IL band is considered by the cognoscenti to be one of the quintessential bands to combine melodic pop hooks with urgent rock & roll momentum. Their discography boasts stone-cold classic albums like Black Vinyl Shoes (1977), Present Tense (1979), and Tongue Twister (1980), and most of the rest rate just a step behind them. But Shoes released only one new album in the ˜90s, 1994’s Propeller, and haven’t really been heard from since, until now.
Ignition, the first record to feature new Shoes material in 18 years, will be unleashed on August 14. It features all three original Shoes: Gary Klebe and brothers Jeff and John Murphy, all of whom have always made equal singing/songwriting contributions to the band’s albums. In fact, a key aspect of the group’s sound is the way the members’ individual styles blend together to create a true collective identity. Jeff Murphy says it comes from the fact that Klebe and the Murphys all learned their instruments between ˜73 and ˜74 specifically to start Shoes. That’s part of why we communicate so well with each other, Jeff explains, adding the striking admission, We still don’t know anything about music. We can’t read music, we don’t know what proper chord structure is, or scales, or any of that. But we learned together, so we’re all in the same skill level. We speak the same language.”
“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.
On the charts, that is.
In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger”and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards”was probably the one that nobody saw coming.
Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records”even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand”are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.
The one-take video. Gimmick? Sure, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but we’re talking about music videos here, folks. These are essentially ads made to sell records, so let’s appreciate that the artists and directors here made the effort. And an effort it must be to coordinate some of these more complicated shoots. Oh, you know what I learned? That Rube Goldberg machine video from OK Go was not one-shot. Cheaters! They make the list anyway for their Internet-burning treadmill video. Cheeky bastards.
10. Undone “ Weezer
The video that launched Weezer. It was years before fans stopped asking drummer Pat Wilson to do his little butt-shake dance.
Every great screen biography of a music superstar needs three key ingredients to really sing: 1) An icon with the greatest story never told. 2) A talented lead actor or actress gunning for an Oscar nomination”singing talent and striking resemblance optional (Angela Bassett didn’t sing a word in What’s Love Got to Do with It, and she looks nothing like the film’s subject, yet she was Tina Turner). 3) Kick-ass songs.
Fantasia Barrino as gospel great Mahalia Jackson is coming soon. The Elton John Story (aka Rocketman) is reportedly finally in the works (I’d cast Justin Timberlake over mentioned favorite James McAvoy and pray that he can nail a British accent), as is Aretha Franklin’s (with or without Halle Berry, the Queen of Soul’s No. 1 choice), Anne Hathaway as Judy Garland and Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury.
Robert Pattinson was announced as a possible Kurt Cobain at one point last year, but it’s hard to imagine that we’d get the true story as long as Courtney Love is around to kill it or put her spin on it. Ryan Gosling has the chops to pull off Cobain, but he’s already in everything and he’s several years older than Cobain was when he committed suicide. Note to aspiring biopic producers: One doesn’t have to cast a “star” as the star. Some biopics (Amadeus, starring Tom Hulce as Mozart; La vie en rose, with Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf) do just fine without huge names.
Now that she’s gone too soon, too, it’s probably only a matter of time before we get Amy Winehouse‘s “untold” story. Note to aspiring biopic producers: Tabloid-era stars are best left alone unless, as with Eminem’s 8 Mile, the focus is on life before they were famous. Otherwise, we’ve already seen the action play out in the pages of Us Weekly and People magazine.
But what about those biopics in various stages of development and non-development? Here are six that I’m dying to see.
1) David Bowie: The star. The spectacle. The songs… Iman. I can’t think of a rock icon whose story is more deserving of the screen treatment. It would be a shoo-in for the Best Costume Design Oscar, and with a star like Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who already played a Bowie-esque figure to perfection in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine), an actor worthy of the material.
” Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me” (1987)
“Fuck Tom Petty!””Eddie Murphy
Oh, those crazy stars! What will they say next? And will they ever learn? What a tangled web they weave when they start to take pot shots at each other.
Celebrity feuds have existed since before the dawn of the pop charts. Eminem owes much of his early notoriety to cutting down to size the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Moby in videos and on record. Meanwhile, off the record (though always totally for attribution), Katy Perry has never met a fellow chart-topper she wouldn’t slag off.
But lately, stars keep colliding and disturbing the peace in the music galaxy. Liam Gallagher just filed suit against his brother Noel over the latter’s claim that Liam pulled out of a high-profile Oasis gig in 2009 due to a hangover and over comments Noel made blaming Liam for the demise of the band. But then brothers in arms have engaged in verbal”and occasionally, physical” combat since the heyday of the Kinks, which featured the dueling Davies, Ray and Dave. Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, William and Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Kings of Leon‘s Followill brothers have the battle scars to prove it.
We all know how much the music industry is changing. Technology is evolving and most people have ditched their CD collection for an iTunes library full of illegally-downloaded music. And while file-sharing seems to be the most prominent headline these days, there’s other music news to report. Music licensing has fast become a crucial aspect of the music industry, especially when it comes to making money. When someone owns the copyright to a piece of work, others must obtain a license from the artist in order to use said work. For example, music supervisors must get a synchronization license to use someone’s song in a movie or TV show. Recently, there’s been a lot going on in the world of music licensing. Here are some of the important music licensing stories we think you should know about!
- YouTube settled in a lawsuit with the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association of America) by agreeing to pay publishers a portion of their ad revenue in order to keep their artists’ music up on the site (this includes fan made videos with artists’ songs in them). The important thing to know about music publishers is that they represent writers. Sometimes a performer of a song is also the writer, but that’s not always the case. So, only the writers and their publishers will benefit from this settlement.
- Back in the ’70s, copyright law was revised to allow artists to reclaim their work (termination rights) after thirty-five years, so long as they apply two years in advance. Right now, record labels own the master recordings of huge artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. The first wave of recordings that this rule applies to is from 1978 and record labels are anxiously preparing to fight back. If they lose the rights to these recordings, they will lose a huge source of income.
- A judge found that MP3tunes, in a case against EMI, was not guilty of promoting infringement. The Web site is a music cloud service that allows users to access their own music as well as the songs found through a search engine, which is the main point of concern. The case started out based on the allegation that 33,000 of the songs were infringing on copyright but the case brought it down to only 350 tracks.