Latest Blog Posts

<p>Animated Gotye in &quot;Save Me&quot;</p>

Animated Gotye in "Save Me"

Watch: Gotye's new video for 'Save Me'

We all could use a little help

Gotye’s new video for “Save Me”  addresses the connections that make us human, or at least help make us feel that way.

In the animated clip, a crudely drawn creature doesn’t come to life until he fully connects with another creature. As the wide-eyed creature assembles amid a snowy backdrop, Gotye, who doesn’t appear in the clip, sings about never being good enough and the disappointments of a lonely life.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Mumford &amp; Sons' &quot;Babel&quot;</p>

Mumford & Sons' "Babel"

Credit: Glassnote

Listen: Mumford & Sons promise 'I Will Wait' in first new, official song from 'Babel'

The epitome of what fans love about Mumford & Sons

Lying heavy in your lover's arms. Four-on-the-floor kick drum. Multi-part harmonies. Rolling banjo and vocal break-down.

Mumford & Sons songs may be predictable, but they are distinctly reliable. "I Will Wait" is the first official recording to arrive from the British roots-based group's forthcoming album "Babel," and it undeniably Mumfordian. And it will tickle the band's fans to death.

Marcus Mumford's lyrics contain a romanticism and fatalism that's become rarer in the current rock mainstream, which made the successes of "The Cave" and "Little Lion Man" all the more surprising when they hit. He's got a handle on the body's strongest muscle -- the heart, gutter-minds: for all the songs on "Sigh No More," nearly all of them have the word "heart" in it. And if it's not "heart," it's "hand." And if it's not either of those, it's "arm." Sometimes it's any two. Look it up.

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<p>Tim McGraw and Faith Hill</p>

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

Credit: AP Photo

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw set for limited engagement in Las Vegas

Slate of 40 shows begins in December

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw join Garth Brooks, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Celine Dion  as the latest artists with Las Vegas residencies.

The married country superstars will start a limited engagement that will span 10 weekends between Dec. 7 and the end of April 2013 at The Venetian. They will perform four shows each weekend. Tickets, which go on sale to their fan clubs Aug. 8 and to the general public Aug. 13, span from $95.50 to $295.50, including all fees.

In a press conference attended by Hitfix and held at the 1,815-seat Venetian Theater, the site of where they will perform, Hill and McGraw stressed that the Soul2Soul show will be unlike anything their fans have seen from them before and very different from the three previous editions of the Soul2Soul outings that last sold out arenas in 2006.

“The Soul2Soul tours that we’ve done have been some of the most memorable experiences for all of us and we’ve really had an amazing time together,” Hill said. “This feels like it’s one of those moments in time. We’re going to create an amazing show and have a great time and then it will be gone...We’ll certainly give the fans what they want, but this affords us the opportunity to be creative in a way that we haven’t been before.”

McGraw, who is on a stadium tour with Kenny Chesney this summer,  said that the show will be more integrated than past Soul2Soul concerts for the multiple Grammy winners. “This show is all about us together,” he said. “We’re in the process of building the show now. The production will be very cutting this intimate setting, there are things we can do that you can’t do in a different show in a different place each night.”

The couple, who married in 1996, displayed an easy-going chemistry together during the announcement. Hill, dressed in a short black dress, asked reporters to tell her if she needed to sit differently to avoid revealing too much leg. “It’s not that kind of show,” she quipped. McGraw quickly replied, “There’s plenty of those in Vegas.”

Hill noted that the Venetian offered the pair a way to play the shows that didn’t disrupt their children’s school schedules. “This was an opportunity we’d never considered,” she said. “The Venetian is so gracious in working around out schedule. That’s the only way I’ll do anything with three daughters.”

Hill added that she has finished her new album for Warner Bros., her first studio album since 2005’s “Fireflies.” No release date has been set. McGraw is recording his first album for Big Machine Records after leaving Curb Records.

Fellow country star Shania Twain is also slated to start a residency in Las Vegas in December at Caesars Palace.

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<p>Marvin Hamlisch with one of his most loyal collaborators, Barbra Streisand.</p>

Marvin Hamlisch with one of his most loyal collaborators, Barbra Streisand.

Credit: AP Photo/Alex J. Berliner

Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch passes away aged 68

'The Way We Were' and 'The Sting' among his most memorable credits

With the Academy recently seeming to do everything within its powers to extinguish the Best Original Song award, the passing of Marvin Hamlisch strikes an especially poignant note. The New York-born composer -- who died yesterday, following a brief illness, at the age of 68 -- was the kind of talent that category was created to recognize, capable of condensing a film's entire thematic and atmospheric undercurrent into a single, inescapable three-minute theme.

It's an art that might seem antiquated and even a little banal to contemporary audiences, as high-end film scoring grows ever less romantic and more esoteric, with pre-existing songs woven organically into scenes, if at all -- the legacy of such modernist filmmakers as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. But the songs themselves haven't faded: everyone can hum at least a few bars of Hamlisch's title tune for "The Way We Were," even if they haven't seen the film. Ditto "Nobody Does It Better," one of the most epic and steel-plated of all James Bond themes, even if "The Spy Who Loved Me" isn't among the franchise's most-treasured entries. In Hamlisch's prime, great movie songs could still separate from, and often exceed, their source.

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<p>Tom Waits' &quot;Hell Broke Luce&quot; is terrifying (and one of the songwriter's greatest achievements)</p>

Tom Waits' "Hell Broke Luce" is terrifying (and one of the songwriter's greatest achievements)

Watch: Tom Waits joins the ranks in outstanding 'War Broke Luce' video

One of the songwriter's greatest songs is miserable: And what does misery love?

Tom Waits doesn't use the term "f*ck" lightly.

In fact, in the more than 250 released studio recordings from the songwriter, you'll find nary a mention, with exception to "Hell Broke Luce," from Waits' recent "Bad As Me."

It's unsettling to hear him say the word with emphasis -- and twice! -- but then again, "Luce" is an unsettling track. For this military cadence, Waits adoptive persona is a sour band of soldiers, lobbing dark humor and complaints from the frontline, as young kids would reflect on the "good homes" they left behind before they enlisted.

With the mention of Kevlar, meth, Humvees and suicide bombs, Waits effectively pairs the familiar "left right left" marching chant with vernacular and specific terrors of today's wars in the Middle East. And yet, the lost limbs, scorched skin, body bags and general laid waste are depressingly evergreen. With a "boom" he makes his thesis, that the horrors overseas follow soldiers home to America.

"Well I was over here, America, to vote / I left my arm in my coat / My mom she died and never wrote," he chants. Take the title of the song, with Luce as a character: "Now I’m home / and I’m blind / And I’m broke / What is next?"

"Hell Broke Luce" is a terrifying song. It's supposed to be, and it's also one of Waits' greatest achievements, new or not. It's a painful and political anti-war song for and within the fighting ranks, for after the war is "finished."

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Is Taylor Swift about to announce her new album?

Singer plans webchat with fans for Aug. 13

So it looks like we’re about to get a new Taylor Swift album for the fall. Swift, whose last set, “Speak Now,”  came out in October 2010, will host a live webcast on Youtube on Aug. 13.

Swift’s three albums have come out like clockwork two years apart and fans know she’s been working on new material for a studio album in between her acting gigs in “The Lorax” and writing and recording songs for “The Hunger Games.”  The big question is what will the sound be like? Will it be more like the stripped down, haunted quality of “Safe & Sound,” her duet with The Civil Wars from “Games” or will the music be more pop country?  Will there be a song about her rumored new boyfriend, Conor Kennedy? Regardless, that sound you hear is retailers screaming with joy that she’s back.

Think we might not be right about a fall album? Her eponymous debut came out Oct. 24, 2006, “Fearless” came out Nov. 11, 2008 and “Speak Now” came out Oct. 25, 2010... Typically, she’s released the first single two months before the album’s release, so that means a new single is coming. Plus, she’s performing at Clear Channel’s “I Heart Radio” conference in Las Vegas Sept. 21-22, so she’s going to want the new song out by then.

“Speak Now” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 1 million copies in its first week, making it only the 16th album in chart history to surpass the million make in a single week.

The Live Webcast will take place 7 p.m EDT/4 p.m. PDT. She’ll take questions from fans around the world. We’ll be blogging it live for you as well.


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<p>On &quot;Bunheads,&quot;&nbsp;Boo's new dance partner is much shorter than her.</p>

On "Bunheads," Boo's new dance partner is much shorter than her.

Credit: ABC Family

Review: 'Bunheads' - 'Blank Up, It's Time'

Fanny returns, and brings her longtime boyfriend with her

A review of last night's "Bunheads" coming up just as soon as you'll want to hear my Stewie Griffin...

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<p>He's Hawkeye, he's Tom Cruise's new partner in 'Mission:&nbsp;Impossible,' and now he's the inheritor of 'The Bourne Legacy'</p>

He's Hawkeye, he's Tom Cruise's new partner in 'Mission: Impossible,' and now he's the inheritor of 'The Bourne Legacy'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jeremy Renner claims another franchise as his own in 'The Bourne Legacy'

An Avenger, a 'Mission: Impossible' survivor, and now 'Bourne' again

Jeremy Renner is the Bizarro world Ted McGinley.

For years, McGinley had a reputation as a show killer, a guy who would show up on a long-running TV series just in time for the show to drop dead.  It wasn't his fault, but it happened often enough that he got saddled with that for a while, and something like that can be hard to shake.

Renner, on the other hand, appears to be the guy you cast late in the game if you want to extend a franchise.  He was a great addition to the "Mission: Impossible" franchise last Christmas, he hit the ground running in "The Avengers" this summer, and now they've handed over the "Bourne" series to him, and he's managed to once again deliver a performance that feels absolutely like it has always been a part of that world, perfectly picking up where Matt Damon's work as Jason Bourne left off, and I suspect Universal will be amply rewarded for taking the chance on him.

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<p>&quot;Unforgiven,&quot;&nbsp;one of only three westerns to win Best Picture</p>

"Unforgiven," one of only three westerns to win Best Picture

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven' anniversary marks 20 years of the modern western

Will 'Django Unchained' find Oscar love as the genre forges ahead?

Somewhat quietly, it would appear, Clint Eastwood's western masterwork "Unforgiven" is celebrating its 20th anniversary today.

The film hit theaters on August 7, 1992 and was the last western to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Though to be clear, it's not like it was one in a long line. Only three from the genre have ever taken the prize, with a six-decade drought between 1931's "Cimarron" and 1990's "Dances with Wolves."

Somehow the western didn't spark for the Academy during its heyday. Films generally agreed upon as American classics today like "The Searchers," "Red River," and "The Magnificent Seven" couldn't even manage nominations, to say nothing of Italian triumphs like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West."

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<p>Oddly, this photo was taken at a barbecue at Sacha Baron Cohen's house when he wasn't playing a character at all.</p>

Oddly, this photo was taken at a barbecue at Sacha Baron Cohen's house when he wasn't playing a character at all.

Credit: Hermann J. Knippertz/dapd

Sacha Baron Cohen sets up a James Bond style comedy with Paramount

The comic actor moves further from his 'Borat' and 'Bruno' background

Sacha Baron Cohen is facing a real turning point in his career, and it will be interesting to see how things progress.

The joy of discovering his early work was due at least in part to the feeling that you were in on a secret.  Watching Ali G or Borat or Bruno interact with real people was amazing because of how seriously people took these insane creations of his.  Even when "Borat" arrived in theaters, there was still a sense that something deranged was happening, something that was amazing to witness.

The one problem with that kind of humor is that a performer can only keep up that kind of ruse as long as he's not famous.  The moment people start to recognize you, it's impossible for you to interact with the real world, and Sacha Baron Cohen is arguably one of the most recognizable comic performers working today.

I thought "The Dictator" was very funny this summer, but for people who wanted more of the "Borat"/"Bruno" school of gotcha comedy, it seemed less exciting than his earlier work.  I think Cohen's got chops as an actor that we've just barely seen demonstrated onscreen, and while he's done nice work in films like "Hugo" and "Sweeney Todd," it still feels like there's more to his talent.

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<p>From Antony and the Johnsons' &quot;Cut the World&quot;</p>

From Antony and the Johnsons' "Cut the World"

Watch: Willem Dafoe, 'Game of Thrones' star feature in bloody Antony & the Johnsons vid

Nabil strikes again

Video director Nabil may have cooled your body temperature in Bon Iver's "Holocene" or ">Kanye West's "Coldest Winter" videos, or heated it up in Frank Ocean's "Novacane" last summer. For Antony & the Johnson's "Cut the World," he may shear your life's blood off entirely.

Willem Dafoe plays boss to "Game of Thrones" actress Carice van Houten (Melisandre!), who plays a willowy and heavy-hearted secretary. But, rather than death by fire, Dafoe only has some brief narration with van Houten before he meets his end in a bloody fashion.

In fact, the clip turns into a whole revolt by secretaries, hinting at lust and revenge through a mass action. Is it commentary on the working class? An extreme play on secretarial, deep longings? A spin on stereotype? A feminsit motion? Whatever it is, I'll remember that final scene in the square for a while to come: the cameo by performance artist and Antony collaborator Marina Abramovi? will stop your heart on its own. Her appearance is reminiscent of the cover shot for Antony and the Johnsons' "Crying Light," of butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno.

It's a curious example, too, of integrating an actual script into a song featuring singing. Dafoe and van Houten have only a scant few lines, appearing mostly in the songwriting gaps, but it works. And bums me out.

"Cut the World" is off of Antony Hegarty and his band's live album of the same name, itself a previously unreleased, erm, cut from the melancholy songwriter's catalog. It arrives on virtual and real shelves tomorrow.


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"Miss Advised"

"Miss Advised"

Credit: Bravo

On 'Miss Advised,' SWFs seek love, act crazy

The season finale promises twist, turns and neuroses galore

Usually, if I really work at it, I can find a logical reason for someone to appear on a reality TV show. There's a big prize, or they think it will advance their career, or they are willing to let someone pose them in front of a cruel three-way mirror so they can get some new clothes. With "Miss Advised" (Mon. 10 p.m. ET), which wraps up its slow spiral into crazy tonight, I'm scratching my head.

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