2013 was a pretty good year for twenty | one | pilots. Fueled By Ramen released the band’s third album, Vessel, at the beginning of the year, they opened for Fall Out Boy on a massive autumn tour that also included Panic! At The Disco, and they were nominated as an ‘Artist To Watch’ by the MTV VMAs for “Holding On To You.” So it’s only fitting that the band would end the year with a bang by releasing their new music video for “Truce.” Check out the video below, and catch them on tour in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe all through January and February, with US spring dates to be announced soon. (more…)
Following up on the confusing rumors that swirled early last week, the boy band known as *NSYNC indeed reunited last night at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Taking the stage in the middle of Justin Timberlake‘s extended medley of hits, *NSYNC spent approximately 90 seconds performing together before an audience of millions. In that time, the five piece, dressed in matching suits, performed a medley of songs with a tightly choreographed dance routine. It was not the spectacle fans had hoped for, but it was certainly better than nothing. You can view the performance below.
On second thought, is this even a performance? ‘Appearance’ may be a better term, and ‘publicity stunt’ may fit even better than that. There are of course no future plans, but if the madness that occurred online following the reunion rumor is any indication, it seems fans would certainly love another tour before *NSYNC says “Bye Bye Bye” for good. (more…)
MTV has revealed the nominees for 2013 installment of their annual Video Music Awards. The ceremony will air August 25, with performances planned from a number of stars found on the nominee list. You can view the full rundown of potential winners at the end of this post.
For those of you wondering the point of MTV clinging to the idea they’re still a music channel, take a moment and swing by the Buzzworthy blog. Videos may not be in rotation as much, but MTV is still helping usher in the next generation of new talent. Comment below and let us know who you think will win!
Video of the Year
» Justin Timberlake , Mirrors”
» Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz , Thrift Shop”
» Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven”
» Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, Blurred Lines”
» Taylor Swift, I Knew You Were Trouble”
Best Hip Hop Video
» Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, Can’t Hold Us”
» Drake, Started From The Bottom”
» Kendrick Lamar, Swimming Pools”
» A$AP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, F”kin’ Problems”
» J. Cole feat. Miguel, Power Trip” (more…)
There have been so many live performances at the MTV Video Music Awards that I couldn’t possibly remember them all. But according to a quick sampling, most of them were mediocre, some offensively so. The best and worst, however, stand out in the cultural memory. There were certainly some good ones and some horrible ones not on this list, but here’s what made the biggest impression:
6. The Hives, 2002 “ Main Offender
A pretty rocking performance, but what puts this one over the top is singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist announcing that they’re out of time, so everyone can turn their televisions off, knowing full well that The Vines were just about to start playing.
The MTV Video Music Awards always serve up big surprises and this year was no different. From Beyoncé‘s big news to Lady Gaga‘s dragged-up, stand-in, this year’s show didn’t skimp on the stumpers.
Lady Gaga kicked off the show with a monologue from her male alter ego, ˜Jo Calderone’. “She left me! She said it always starts out good and then the guys”meaning me, I’m one of the guys”we get crazy. I did. I got crazy. But she’s f—ing crazy too, right?” The narrative was hard to follow at first, and I’m guessing die-hard Gaga fans figured it out before the rest of us. Still, she delivered an intense performance of You And I with a guest appearance by legendary guitarist, Brian May of Queen. What you didn’t see on television was the tumble Gaga took off her piano towards the end of her performance. Ever the pro, she moved on before the crowd even noticed her slip up. Her video for Born This Way earned her two awards; Best Female Video and the newly created Best Video with a Message category.
Jay-Z and Kanye West took the stage for an unexpected performance of their Watch The Throne hit, Otis. While it was instantly exciting to see the two onstage together, the performance was not as magical as expected. The best part of their set was when security bum-rushed a stage-crasher who tried to interrupt the lackluster performance.
Nicki Minaj was nominated in three categories and nabbed the Moon man for Best Hip Hop Video for Super Bass. She presented the first award of the night to tour mate, Britney Spears for Til The World Ends for Best Pop Video. In her speech, a healthy, happy-looking Spears thanked God, her kids, and ex-agent boyfriend, Jason Traiwick. Gaga presented Spears with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award telling the crowd, I used to hang posters of her on my wall and touch myself when I was laying in bed, before introducing an awesome montage of Britney’s videos, complete with a legion of dancers donning her most iconic outfits and legendary dance moves.
After accepting her award, Britney introduced Beyoncé, who sang Love On Top in a suspiciously body-conscious outfit of black pants and an oversized blazer. While those of us on the black carpet had already seen the secret bulge at arrivals, she teased the crowd during her intro saying, I want you to stand up on your feet, I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me.” At the end of her set she opened her blazer to reveal a shockingly developed baby bump. The smile on her face as she rubbed her belly was the highlight of the night, as husband Jay-Z and Kanye West celebrated from the front row. Her video for Girls (Run The World) won in the Best Choreography category, but lost to Katy Perry for Video Of The Year.
Perry (who had a whopping ten nominations this year) also took home the Best Collaboration title for E.T. with Kanye West. Her husband and past VMA host, Russell Brand, kicked off a touching tribute to Amy Winehouse who died last month at twenty-seven. He highlighted her amazing voice, which he called a timeless sound like a roar from the guts of humanity, telling the crowd, When a talent like Amy Winehouse comes along, it affects everybody.” He was joined by Tony Bennett, who likened her to prolific jazz singers, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald before debuting a duet he recently recorded with Amy. Bruno Mars delivered a loving performance of her cover of Valerie ending it with a final farewell, singing, Say Amy, oh Amy/ I love you darling, I love you darling/ Say Amy, whoa Amy, we’ll miss you baby.
Other stand-out performances came from Chris Brown, who didn’t win a trophy, but wowed the crowd with his stellar dance moves and Adele, who belted out Someone Like You so effortlessly, it’s no wonder she’s every artist’s favorite artist. Odd Future‘s Tyler ˜The Creator’ won the coveted Best New Artist award, beating out newbies Kreayshawn, Big Sean and Wiz Khalifa with his hit, Yonkers prompting a profanity-ridden acceptance speech from the Wolfpack front-man.
Lil Wayne closed the show with a bang-literally, when he smashed the guitar he was using at the end of his set. He started off with an auto-tune assisted rendition of How To Love and followed up with a rocked-out version of John, set to Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. Weezy dropped the digital version of his highly anticipated Carter IV album following the show, with the physical album in stores yesterday.
The MTV Video Music Awards have always been a major source of drama in the world of music and A-list celebrities. From the 2003 Madonna and Britney Spears kiss to the more recent Kanye West and Taylor Swift incident, this annual awards show is constantly providing fans with something to talk about. But is that the only reason the program draws in viewers? The VMAs differ from more traditional award shows such as the GRAMMY Awards not only because fans can vote, but because there’s also the feeling that anything can happen. It seems that the hype is not built up around who will take home the most Moon Men, but what superstar with shock us the most.
In the past couple of years, the same few artists have been nominated for almost every category. The winners of each award have been fairly easy to predict and there have rarely been any surprises in the nominations or winners. This year, it seems like MTV is taking a different approach. While the nominees are fairly varied (Lady Gaga isn’t even nominated for Best Music Video), it’s curious as to how they came up with these choices. Lesser-known bands (by mainstream standards) like Manchester Orchestra, Foster The People, and Cage The Elephant were all nominated for their music videos this year. The problem is, MTV barely features bands like these on TV. In fact, there are rarely any music videos played on the channel, unless you’re watching in the wee hours of the morning. How much do MTV’s nominations and musical opinions really matter to the general public?
Maybe this is MTV’s way of trying to stay relevant in the music world. The nominated artists have definitely made an impact in the past year. They have appeared on late night shows and played the biggest music festivals across the country. But MTV doesn’t recognize most of these artists except for this one night. Do the Music Video Awards mean anything for music or are they just for show and amusement?
Check out the 2011 nominees here and vote for your favorites!
There’s a new crew in town and they came to play. The White Girl Mob has taken hip hop by storm through a ninja-like internet crawl and some standout stars making big waves. The Oakland-based crew made mainstream take notice with Kreayshawn’s solo single, Gucci Gucci and V-Nasty’s nasty habit of dropping the n-bomb.
Kreayshawn’s impressive resume includes directing videos for Lil B and the video for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new single, TheAdventures Of Rain Dance Maggie. She is nominated for ˜Best New Artist’ at the upcoming MTV VMA’s for her single, Gucci Gucci. The viral video received over 3 million hits (watch after the jump), launching the Bay-area beauty into superstardom.
Her rise to fame hasn’t been all smooth sailing. In recent months, she paraphrased DMX in a Twitter post, using the n-word in the reference. Many were offended, and the backlash commenced. The situation made headlines when another Mob member, V-Nasty, used the n-word in her rhymes. Kreayshawn apologized, saying I don’t use that word in my music. My sister V-Nasty says it all the time. I don’t say it in my music. It’s not my place.” Her bandmate’s brazen attitude has done even more damage.
“On some real n*gga sh*t…y’all muthaf*ckas ain’t never walked in my shoes, bruh. Y’all ain’t never seen where I came from…That sh*t be hella fake, muthaf*ckas always asking Kreayshawn, ‘Why you gotta say n*gga?’ Is n*gga a f*cking race? Am I offending people? Am I saying it in a disrespectful type of way?”
Though we’re at least two decades removed from MTV‘s prime, never underestimate the enduring power of music videos. They can send singles zooming up the charts (Katy Perry’s latest jumped from No. 31 to No. 4 the week after the video hit YouTube), make intolerable songs must-hear and must-see (as Ke$ha‘s “Blow” recently did) and drum up just enough controversy to make fairly mainstream acts seem edgy (take a bow, Lady Gaga). But unlike the days when Michael Jackson and MTV ruled, for the most part, they’re no longer trying to change music or do much more beyond promoting the artists whose names are attached to them.
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé still take the art of making videos seriously; Ke$ha, who owes her entire career to a carefully cultivated video image, put an MTV VMA-worthy effort into “Blow” (my pick for the best pop clip of 2011 so far); and Katy Perry shines brightest onscreen. Still, when it comes to videos, most of today’s pop stars offer little more than what’s expected of them. They show up, look fantastic and lip-sync to the best of their ability.
It’s been years since the once always-dependable Madonna has given us the wow factor. Annie Lennox and Bjí¶rk are from a now-bygone era. Michael Jackson is dead. And Adele, who could have done so much with “Rolling in the Deep,” didn’t even bother to get off her ass!
Which pop stars are making the biggest impressions”for better and for worse”on MTV and on YouTube these days? I like Nicki Minaj, but she’s all styling”without the bells and whistles, she’d probably blend into the woodwork. And Jennifer Lopez has never been sexier than she is in “I’m Into You,” but the video is only about how great she looks. The song is throwaway, and the video doesn’t make it sound any better. So who are video’s latest MVPs? Here are my picks for who’s Hot and Not.
Debbie Gibson in Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” The fifth video from Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album really pulls its weight, doing precisely what a good video should do: It sells the song. It’s a true transformer, turning “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” from a mediocre album track into a Teenage Dream highlight. Interestingly, the best moment involves neither the song nor the star. The usually dependable Perry overplays her geek alter-ego throughout, but toward the end, when ’80s teen queen Debbie Gibson shows up as her mom, the clip morphs from Glee meets Party Girl and Can’t Hardly Wait into a sort of video roast of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Gibson does the perfectly pressed upper-crust glamour mom/wife with confidence and humor. Hollywood! Quick! Get this woman her own sitcom!
Rihanna in “Man Down” Music videos rarely require acting chops. If you’ve got the look”and Rihanna certainly does”three-quarters of the battle is won. In “Man Down,” a controversial gothic drama about the ripple effect of sexual abuse, Rihanna creates a complete character without uttering a single word of dialogue. Watching her tragic response after she’s sexually assualted outside of a club, I find myself wishing that she were making her film debut next year in a dramatic showcase that would require more from her than Battleship, a Hollywood wannabe-blockbuster set for release next Memorial Day weekend.
Kelly Rowland in “Motivation” I’ve never listened to the first hit single from Rowland’s third album, Here I Am, without the benefit of the video visual, so I couldn’t tell you if it stands on its own. But for the first time in her solo career, Rowland does. I’d make some crack about how she’s bringing sexy back, but it’s the first time we’ve seen Rowland bring it period (ah, the wonders of a blue lighting and impossibly sculpted male dancers). After so many years of being a second banana in Destiny’s Child, living her pop life in Beyoncé’s shadow, Rowland at last is the star of her own show.
Jennifer Hudson in “No One Gonna Love You” Hudson proves that her Oscar win for Dreamgirls may have been a fluke, and her underwhelming follow-up performance in the first Sex and the City movie wasn’t. In her (flimsy) defense, the dialogue that begins her latest clip is as awkward as the song’s grammatically challenged title. But a great Academy Award-winning actress should be able to transcend a poor script. Hudson looks amazing, but her sass sounds forced, and she tries too hard to channel Beyoncé in too-the-left-to-the-left female-empowerment mode. Instead, she comes across as kind of cranky and annoyed. No wonder her man can’t get away from her fast enough! Next time Hudson should skip the pillow talk and just sing.
Britney Spears in “I Wanna Go” Where’s Britney Spears’s pop-star spark? Look closely at her in any video from her last three albums: She’s dead behind the eyes. The zombie act continues in the third clip from the Femme Fatale album. Being Britney Spears is hard work, so now she’s trying to be Ke$ha (the attitude at the press conference that kicks off the video is straight out of “Blow”) with a touch of Avril Lavigne (her purposeful strut as she stalks the streets seems to have been lifted from “What the Hell”). Instead, she comes across as a third-string pop star (Mandy Moore or Jessica Simpson back when Britney was on top). Though she gets bonus points for not falling back on the same dance routines that dominate her videography, if she wants to show us that it’s not easy being Britney (yawn, yes, there we go again), the least she could do is be Britney.
Enrique Iglesias in “Dirty Dancer” They don’t make male solo pop stars the way they did back when Michael Jackson and Prince ruled the world. Bruno Mars and Jason Derülo are nice to look at but hardly potentially iconic video stars. Then there’s Iglesias”gorgeous, talented and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of sizing up face to face. But it’s time for him to do something new with his. You can take him out of any of the videos he’s made since his English-language breakthrough in 1999 with “Bailamos,” drop him into another one, and the videos all remain the same. I’m not saying those come hither looks don’t work”only the most justifiably confident pop star would dare to name a song “Tonight I’m F**kin´ You” and probably be right”but when I’m starting to tire of looking at Enrique Iglesias head shots (tilt it just so, look up slightly, smolder), we’ve got a serious problem.
Deadmau5 stormed the house and electronic scene back in late 2007 and has been rapidly growing in popularity since first making music under the B.S.O.D. moniker (the song “This Is The Hook” hit Number 1 on the Beatport charts). This year has been an especially good year thanks to a world tour, numerous placements in television programs and video games, and the coveted role as MTV’s House Artist for the VMAs. Now Deadmau5 is looking to top 2010 off with his new album 4×4=12.
Continuing in his quest to make intelligent dance music that breaks free of ultra-limiting sub-genre boxes, Deadmau5 has found a great balance between simple and catchy dance rhythms, uncharacteristic vocal parts and varied textures. Though 4×4=12 spills into many different types of electronic music, it finds its center mostly in house music given the ever-present four-on-the-floor rhythm and mid-tempos. Unlike most house music, however, Deadmau5 breaks free from traditional house rhythms in favor of more groove heavy rhythms like those found in dubstep”the ninth track on the album, “Raise Your Weapon” shows extensively how far Deadmau5 ventures from standard house music with the melancholy vocals, the somber piano and dubstep groove found in the latter half of the song.
Although the style variances on the 4×4=12 are very well executed, they aren’t the best part of the album. It’s the simplicity, subtlety, and tastefulness in which the styles are introduced that is remarkable. The various styles of vocals never feel or seem out of place; whether it’s rapping, melancholy singing or more of an attitude-filled electro-pop section”it always fits. Given the fact that 4×4=12 is essentially a collection of singles, each song flows well into the next (even when there are clear beginnings and ends).
In addition to Deadmau5, the other features and collaborations on 4×4=12 really round out the album. From Sofi’s vocals on “One Trick Pony” and “Sofi Needs a Ladder” to Wolfgang Gartner on “Animal Rights”” each bit adds yet another dimension to the album. Adding these features and collaborations helps the album to go beyond being “just another dance album” to something you would be more than happy listening to even while not dancing because of the added substance.
The album is still definitively a house record (albeit a progressive one). If you don’t like house music, there’s little chance you’ll find this a great listen, but it is certainly worth checking out simply because of it’s rather unique nature. There’s at least a little bit on this album for every type of electronic dance music (EDM) fans and non-EDM fans alike.
In 2004, after meeting while pursuing art school degrees at the Pratt Institute, friends Matt and Kim decided to form a band” even though Matt had never played keyboard and Kim had never played drums. Surprisingly, the indie pop duo was able to self-release their first EP a year later. Matt & Kim continued to tirelessly practice, write, record and tour”which eventually earned them thousands of new fans, sets at massive festivals, a gold single (“Daylight”) and a VMA for their “Lessons Learned” music video.
Earlier this month, Matt & Kim released their highly-anticipated new album, Sidewalks, and received rave reviews from Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard and more. Though these two hardly take a break from their work, we got the chance to catch up with Matt Johnson about the new record, the group’s influences and life on the road.
OS: Your last album, Grand, was recorded in your childhood bedroom, and you mixed it on your own. How was the recording process different for Sidewalks?
MJ: Well, the recording process was different because we didn’t do this one on our own. We had some people who knew what they were doing helping us, which was nice. While we were very proud of Grand and we’re very happy with what came out, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We were just guessing about, “I think this is how you mic a kick drum…” but there’s all these techniques that have worked for years and years that the guys we worked with on this latest one knew. But basically, what this came down to, was that Kim and I could concentrate more on the actual songs than the technical aspects of having to know what the fuck you’re doing.
OS: When the band first started, you didn’t even play your respective instruments. Did you start taking lessons and learning theory or did you just learn by ear?
MJ: We’re still figuring it out (laughs), just going by ear. Yeah, Kim had never played drums, I didn’t play keyboard. I played guitar and bass in bands, I sort of sang in other bands, but it wasn’t so much singing as screaming in punk and hardcore bands. I never tried to hit actual notes. Really, the only thing that has expanded our ability of playing is that we’ll write something that’s kind of harder than what we can actually play and then we just have to practice it enough to be good enough to play it. But singing was the one thing that I took a couple lessons for, mostly because I was really singing from all the wrong places and screwing my voice up super bad. When you have to sing every single night, it gets to be a lot. Also, I’m not opposed to singing on key, that wouldn’t be so bad (laughs).
OS: You and Kim started with, and still have, a very DIY approach to this band… how did you get the band to grow in terms of doing your own promotion?
MJ: We have a machine that does a lot of things, and that machine is Kim. For all the beginning years of this band when we did so much for ourselves, Kim booked all our own tours, she answered every e-mail about everything, she handled this and that….she doesn’t need to sleep. Her last name’s Schifino but I like to call her “Machine-o,” I think it might fit better! So it was a lot to take care of. Even now, we want to be so involved in so many things, but we have to give things away because there’s just so much and we’re on the road so much. Thankfully, we have a great team that takes care of a lot, but we still stay involved with everything and approve everything and put our input in.
OS: The two of you met at the Pratt Institute and continue to use your art skills for the aesthetic elements of the band. Where do you draw your artistic influences from?
MJ: Kim has had a style she’s worked in and you can notice from the album covers that they stay in a similar style, which is typical among artists that work in a wave rather than changing everything up. We like keeping things in that style. The fact of the matter is, through the last few years of this band, there’s been no time for anything non-band related. So whenever Kim works on art, it’s related to the band. Whenever an opportunity comes up that we need something for the band, it gives her a chance to work on art stuff again. But for me, I’m really involved with the videos. I have a lot of ideas on what makes a good video and a bad video. People have definitely appreciated our videos and they’ve had such a reach. We have one we’re shooting in a couple weeks that I’m excited about, it will definitely make some people angry.
OS: You won a VMA for Best Breakthrough Video for “Lessons Learned” and developed the concept for it yourself…which has you and Kim taking all your clothes off in Times Square. Do you have any crazy ideas for things you’d like to try in future music videos?
MJ: Yeah, it never hurts to get naked! We definitely have a dumb idea we’re going to do, coming up. We were supposed to shoot it before the tour started, but things got a little too hectic so we had to push it back. But it will be fun and it will be very much another Matt & Kim video.
OS: Even though you’re an indie pop act, you seem to be influenced by a lot of hip hop. Which hip hop artists influence you the most?
MJ: We’re big fans of whatever is fun. But I think a lot of who I find inspirational in the hip hop world are different producers, because I key really into beat and melody and composition, even more than to lyrics, for any sort of music. I think there’s producers like Swizz Beatz and Pharrell and the Neptunes and Timbaland, who make really creative, awesome, energetic music that can be very bizarre but still have such a reach. I think that’s very inspirational.
OS: You were on tour for most of 2010 playing both club shows and festivals. How were the two types of shows different from each other and how did the fans react to the new material?
MJ: Well, we’re not playing anything off Sidewalks yet. When people go and see a band and the band’s like, “Who wants to hear some new songs?” The general feeling in the crowd is sort of, “Well, I’d rather just hear the things I know and can sing along to,” and that’s my feeling when I go and see a band. So, being that the album wasn’t really out, people didn’t have a chance to study up yet. We decided that we’re really going to make this the last tour of Grand and we added some other little bits and pieces of new stuff and kept it fresh, but we’re waiting on Sidewalks for what will probably be a late spring, early summer trip. But as far as clubs and festivals, I love doing both, for similar and different reasons. Kim and I give every show we play 110%. There’s no point to doing it if you’re not going to give 110%. We love it and if I can squeeze 112% out, I totally do. But this year, with Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits and places where you’re playing in front of 30,000 people…it’s pretty wild, because you can feel all of that from so many people. But then when you’re in a tighter atmosphere, playing for 1,000 people or 1,500 people, everyone’s so close and they’ve paid just to see you and they know all your songs and they can sing along really loudly. That can harness that same energy that all those people can as well, but whoever’s willing to go wilder is usually my favorite. We love doing both.
OS: You and Kim live together in Brooklyn when you’re not on the road. How do you like to spend your time when not working on your music?
MJ: It sounds almost like it’s impossible, but Kim and I don’t ever really do things that aren’t really related to Matt & Kim. This last year, we never took more than one consecutive day off. But we’re happy working really hard on everything band-related. After shows sometimes, we’ll come back to the bus and we have a lot of things on Hulu, TV shows that we keep up to date with”Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”that’s sort of a good downtime for us, to take an hour and just chill. But we don’t usually take more than hour at a time!
Be sure to pick up Sidewalks, in stores and on iTunes now. Check out the band’s award-winning video for “Lessons Learned” below!