Katie Hasty's Top 50 Albums of 2014

Katie Hasty's Top 50 Albums of 2014

FKA Twigs, Sylvan Esso, Sturgill Simpson, Aphex Twin and more

This isn't even a representation of what I listened to the most.

Top 10 and Top Albums list at year-end can be a popularity contest. They can be just another way to celebrate singles artists. It could be about enjoying the brand just as much as the album itself. Top 10s can be a metaphor for feelings.

Objectively, you can't say there's such thing as a definitive way to go-about making a year-end list. It can waver year to year: last year, I'd say my choices felt like they were all about color and boldness. This year, for me, it felt like it was all about discord.

FKA Twigs is not for everybody, but  "LP1" simply was one of the most put-together, challenging sets that moved me this year. I can't listen to the damned thing just any time. That wasn't how I marked it. Young Fathers basically made an album that was all my favorite depressing things all in one joyful place. Perfect Pussy's "Say Yes to Love" sounds like it was recorded in a tile bathroom with a holy purpose among seething band members. What a beautiful thing. I can't get anything done when I listen to Aphex "Syro." And so on.

I look forward to the "What, you don't have [XYZ Artist] on your list? God is dead and your life is sham!" comments every year. Tell me what you loved in 2014.

1. FKA twigs, "LP1"
2. Young Fathers, "Dead"
3. Aphex Twin, "Syro" Warp
4. Perfect Pussy, "Say Yes To Love"
5. Run The Jewels, "RTJ2" life or death
6. Sylvan Esso, "Sylvan Esso"
7. Sturgill Simpson, "Metamodern Sounds In Country Music"
8. Flying Lotus, "You're Dead"
9. Godflesh, "A World Lit Only By Fire"
10. My Brightest Diamond, "This Is My Hand"
11. D'Angelo, "Black Messiah"
12. Static Selektah, "What Goes Around"
13. YOB, "Clearing the Path to Ascend"
14. Tinashe, "Aquarius"
15. Parquet Courts, "Sunbathing Animal"
16. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, "Piñata"
17. Jessie Ware, "Tough Love"
18. Luluc, "Passerby"
19. Frankie Cosmos, "Zentropy"
20. Clark, "Clark"
21. Moodymann, "Moodymann"
22. Kelis, "Food"
23. Swans, "To Be Kind"
24. East India Youth, "Total Strife Forever"
25. MØ, "No Mythologies to Follow"
26. Caribou, "Our Love"
27. Beyonce, "Beyonce"
28. The Phantom Band, "Strange Friend"
29. Schoolboy Q, "Oxymoron"
30. Shellac, "Dude Incredible"
31. Miranda Lambert, "Platinum"
32. St. Vincent, "St. Vincent"
33. Vince Staples, "Hell Can Wait"
34. Asgeir, "In the Silence"
35. Future, "Honest"
36. The War on Drugs, "Lost in the Dream"
37. Hozier, "Hozier"
38. Hurray for the Riff Raff, "Small Town Heroes"
39. Charli XCX, "Sucker"
40. J. Cole, "2014 Forest Hills Drive"
41. Angel Olsen, "Burn Your Fire For No Witness"
42. Ex Hex, "Rips"
43. Pharrell, "G I R L"
44. Eyehategod, "Eyehategod"
45. Mr. Gnome, "The Heart of a Dark Star"
46. Perfume Genius, "Too Bright"
47. Steve Dawson, "Rattlesnake Cage"
48. Ought, "More Than Any Other Day"
49. Beck, "Morning Phase"
50. Prince, "Art Official Age"

Morcheeba, Fall On Your Sword combine for new Christmas song: Exclusive

Morcheeba, Fall On Your Sword combine for new Christmas song: Exclusive

Will Bates and Skye Edwards prep 'White Christmas' for charity

Want to hear Skye Edwards of Morcheeba sing "White Christmas" with electronic/movie music producer Fall On Your Sword? How about for charity?

FoYS has prepped the release of its annual Christmas single, and HitFix has the exclusive first-listen. Proceeds from the sales go toward The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, founded by FoYS mastermind Will Bates.

“We wanted to create a really lush and dreamy rendition of ‘White Christmas’ and Skye just has the perfect voice for this. I’m so thrilled that she was able to do it," Bates said in a statement. "When I said it was in aid of my dad’s cancer charity, she didn’t even hesitate. “

Check out a portion of "White Christmas" below and use your imagination for the B-side -- a rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" co-created with horror director Larry Fessenden ("Last Winter," "ABCs of Death").

"White Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" are on sale now via iTunes.

Good news, Modest Mouse fans: First new album in 8 years en route

Good news, Modest Mouse fans: First new album in 8 years en route

A first taste of 'Strangers to Ourselves' went out to a select few fans

Modest Mouse has been helping lead music festivals since 2011 without a new album to promote.

It looks like about now is the time they... start promoting an album.

"Strangers to Ourselves" will be out on March and on Dec. 16, the first single "Lampshades on Fire" will hit (virtual) shelves.

And it's that song that the group has actually managed to preview in these past three years as their most recent work. To celebrate, Modest Mouse apparently shipped out vinyl singles of the songs to select fans ahead of Tuesday's release.

"We want you to have this limited test pressing of our new single 'Lampshades On Fire.' The song will be available for purchase tomorrow, Tuesday, December 16," read a typed note that accompanied the single. "'Lampshades on Fire' is the first single from our new album Strangers to Ourselves, which will be released on Tuesday, March 3, 2015." The single is also set to hit radio December 15th.

 

Modest Mouse's last LP was "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank," which yielded them their first No. 1 set on the Billboard 200. It was led by the single "Dashboard," and boasted Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as a member of the band. No word yet if Marr's on for this one, nor if there's another concept behind the set. The band did, however, post what could be the album or single artwork to their instagram account, below. Looks cold, creepy, delightful. PERFECT.

 

 

A photo posted by Modest Mouse (@modestmouse) on

 

Early 2015 Grammy nominees revealed
Credit: AP Photo

Early 2015 Grammy nominees revealed

Iggy Azalea, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Pharrell, Sia, Meghan Trainor, Miley Cyrus and more

The bulk of the Grammy nominees for the 2015 awards will be revealed over the course of five-and-a-half-hours today, before an hour will be devoted to the Album Of The Year reveal during a Grammys Christmas special tonight.

For all the categories that aren't revealed on "CBS This Morning," The Recording Academy has tapped into the Twitter accounts of popular artists and music personalities to glacially reveal many of the other nominees throughout the morning and early afternoon. At 2 p.m. EST, the curtain will be raised on 82 of the 83 categories on Grammy.com. And at 9 p.m. EST, "A Very Grammy Christmas" will feature that final honor's nods.

Yeah. We don't know why it has to be this way, either.

Regardless, here are the early nominees:

Record Of The Year
Iggy Azalea, "Fancy" featuring Charli XCX
Sia, "Chandelier"
Sam Smith, "Stay With Me"
Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off"
Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass"

Song of the Year
Sia, "Chandelier"
Sam Smith, "Stay With Me"
Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off"
Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass"
Hozier, "Take Me To Church"

Best New Artist
Iggy Azalea
Bastille
Sam Smith
HAIM
Brandy Clark

Best Rap Performance
Childish Gambino, "3005"
Drake, "0 to 100 / The Catch Up"
Eminem "Rap God"
Kendrick Lamar "i"
Lecrae "All I Need Is You"

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Jhene Aiko, "Sail Out"
Beyonce, "Beyonce"
Chris Brown, "X"
Mali Music, "Mali Is..."
Pharrell Williams, "GIRL"

Best Country Album
Dierks Bentley, "Riser"
Eric Church, "The Outsiders"
Brandy Clark, "12 Stories"
Miranda Lambert, "Platinum"
Lee Ann Womack, "The Way I'm Livin'"

Best Country Song
Kenny Chesney, "American Kids"
Miranda Lambert, "Automatic"
Eric Church, "Give Me Back My Hometown"
Glen Campbell, "I'm Not Going To Miss You"
Tim McGraw, "Meanwhile Back At Mama's"

Best Americana Album
Roseanne Cash, "The River & The Thread"
John Hiatt, "Terms of My Surrender"
Keb' Mo', "BluesAmericana"
Nickel Creek, "A Dotted Line"
Sturgill Simpson, "Metamodern Sounds In Country Music"

Best Pop Vocal Album
Coldplay, "Ghost Stories"
Miley Cyrus, "Bangerz"
Ariana Grande, "My Everything"
Katy Perry, "Prism"
Ed Sheeran, "X"
Sam Smith, "In the Lonely Hour"

Best Pop Solo Performance
John Legend, "All Of Me"
Sia, "Chandelier"
Sam Smith, "Stay With Me"
Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off"
Pharrell Williams, "Happy"

Best Traditional Pop Album
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, "Cheek to Cheek"
Annie Lennox, "Nostalgia"
Barry Manilow, "Night Songs"
Johnny Mathis, "Sending You a Little Christmas"
Barbra Streisand, "Partners"

Best Rock Song
Paramore, "Ain't It Fun"
Beck, "Blue Moon"
The Black Keys, "Fever"
Ryan Adams, "Gimme Something Good"
Jack White, "Lazaretto"

Best Rock Album
Beck, "Morning Phase"
Ryan Adams, "Ryan Adams"
The Black Keys, "Turn Blue"
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, "Hypnotic Eye"
U2, "Songs of Innocence"

Best Alternative Music Album
alt-J, "This Is All Yours"
Arcade Fire, "Reflektor"
Cage the Elephant, "Melophobia"
St. Vincent, "St. Vincent"
Jack White, "Lazaretto"

Best Reggae Album
Ziggy Marley, ""Fly Rasta"
Lee "Scratch" Perry, "Back on the Controls"
Sean Paul, "Full Frequency"
Shaggy, "Out of Many, One Music"
Sly & Robbie & Spice Chocolate, "The Reggae Power"
Soja, "Amid the Noise and the Haste"

Happy holidays a lucky R.E.M. fan: Enter our contest, win this new 7" box set

Happy holidays a lucky R.E.M. fan: Enter our contest, win this new 7" box set

Vinyl fans, come on in!

Are you a big R.E.M. fan? Is one of your loved ones an R.E.M. fan? Is your arch nemesis an R.E.M. fan and by proxy you can become an R.E.M. fan just to spite them?

Then this contest is for you: HitFix is giving away a special prize this holiday season.

R.E.M.'s new vinyl singles boxed set, "7IN – 83-88" (Capitol/I.R.S.), will be out next Tuesday, and we have one box to give away!

The set contains 11 7" records of singles released by the Athens, Ga.-bred band from 1983 to 1988, with replicated sleeve art. It includes a couple of titles never-before released in the U.S.: “Finest Worksong” / “Time After Time” (live) and “Wendell Gee” with “Crazy,” “Ages of You,” and “Burning Down," originally out in the U.K.

We will choose one winner at random from those who enter the contest below, with the contest ending on release day, Dec. 9.

HitFix is giving away an R.E.M. Box Set with 11 7" Vinyl Singles! in HitFix Contests on LockerDome

Here are the singles included in R.E.M.'s "7IN – 83-88":

“Radio Free Europe” / “There She Goes Again”
“So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” / “King of the Road”
“(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” / “Catapult” (Live)
“Can’t Get There From Here” / “Bandwagon”
“Driver 8” / “Crazy”
“Wendell G” / “Crazy” + “Ages of You” / “Burning Down” [U.K. double-pack, previously unreleased on vinyl in U.S.]
“Fall On Me” / “Rotary Ten”
“Superman” / “White Tornado”
“The One I Love” / “Maps and Legends” (Live)
“Its The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” / “Last Date”
“Finest Worksong” / “Time After Time” (Live) [U.K. single, previously unreleased on vinyl in U.S.]

Frank Ocean releases rough of gorgeous new song 'memrise'
Credit: AP Photo

Frank Ocean releases rough of gorgeous new song 'memrise'

R&B star wants you to know he hasn't forgotten about your needs

For fans of Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange," the wait's been excruciating. The R&B star has been pretty quiet in the two years following the release of that breakthrough album, with a couple guest appearances like on Beyonce and John Mayer's album, and the drop of "Hero" with members of the Clash and Diplo for the Converse series Three Artists One Song series. In April he said the new, as-yet-untitled album was almost done.

Just in time for slow Black Friday perusing, Ocean has released a rough clip of a song called "memrise" on his tumblr. Who knows if it makes the final cut -- and it undoubtedly won't be released with the space-bar-play at the beginning -- but you get the idea. Good lines in this one. Lyrics below.

 

 

I memorized the wayward expressions
Never look down
Never let you see me down
I memorized the way no directions
Can I come over now
I’d like to stay a little while
I memorized your body exposed
I could fuck you all night long
From a memory alone

I never forget a face
Don’t go plastic on me
Nothing’s set in stone
You’re not dipped in gold
Dipped in gold
You can’t breathe if you’re dipped in gold
You are not on paper
You are not a copy
You’re so, you’re so..so thick, so thick

Exclusive: Joseph Trapanese scoring 'Divergent' sequel 'Insurgent'

Exclusive: Joseph Trapanese scoring 'Divergent' sequel 'Insurgent'

The composer/arranger catches us up on Kelly Clarkson, M83, 'Annie,' 'Tron' and more

Catching up with Joseph Trapanese is like getting a summary experience for a hustling composer. In the past year, he's scored, worked in sound design and arranged for a diverse array of films, including franchises like "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" and the "Divergent" series; remakes like "Annie"; a sequel like "The Raid 2"; and original scripts like "Nightcrawler." He's dipped into TV like for "Wonder Woman," and nabbed further video game gigs like he did for racing title "The Crew." On top of all that, he's still active in the pop music sphere, having just completed work with repeat customer Kelly Clarkson and collaborating with acts like M83 for live performances.

I sat down with Trapanese back in January, after "Raid 2" punched Sundance in the face, and even after only 10 months, it was time we caught up. This week, during our chat, Trapanese exclusively revealed that he's on tap as composer for Shailene Woodley-starring "Insurgent," the sequel to "Divergent," out Sept. 14, 2015. The first film, which came out earlier this year, featured music be electronic musician Junkie XL and had Hans Zimmer on as executive music producer (Trapanese did for some additional arranging).

Trapanese also filled us in on what's happening with Clarkson, how scoring for video games is different for film, if "Tron 3" is still in the works and what's happening with "Oblivion" score co-composer Anthony Gonzalez aka M83. Below is our abridged interview.
 

HitFix: Tell me everything about "Insurgent." That's a big deal for you!

Joseph Trapanese: It's a great step forward for me, in terms of scoring a franchise film on my own. It's really exciting to step into a mythology that's going to last over several films, work with a world built over those films... to be part of a franchise like that.

I had already read the books for the first film, and the script, and worked on M83's songs and Ellie Goulding's song for the soundtrack.

How's "Insurgent" going to be different from the first movie?

It's going to connect the world of the film and Tris' mind. The first film was all about Beatrice becoming Tris, coming from a peace-loving community and becoming this warrior. In this movie, she has become a warrior, but there's obviously a bigger war that's going on. We've stepped from beyond a world of just focusing on one woman's journey, and now we're looking at the world in a very different way. We've grown up in this film. It's a bigger concept to be had.

The first film had a lot of sounds in it, very song-driven from artists like Woodkid and Ellie Goulding. It gave the film something to hold on to, to really bring you through the journey. This film, there's a lot more danger and a lot more at stake. We've vacated the song-based soundtrack, relied more on the score. The score is darker and more intense.

But are you still going to be working with guest and featured vocalists? I sure do love Ellie Goulding.

I love Ellie as well. We'll just have to wait and see. Not only can I not talk about it, but I haven't finished the score yet. We've scored about two-thirds to three-quarters of the film, about to dive into the final steps. With digital filmmaking, everything can be changed, which is a good and bad thing. Before, you have to be bound to a decision. Now, it's also great but challenging if,  later in the game, we have to tweak those decisions. We've been working on this since July, slowly. We've been talking about it since March.

Is it also kind of nice, though, to be the only composer?

My goal is whether I'm with another composer or collaborator... it's a team effort to score a film like this. It's always exciting to score, period. I am the sole composer, though, so it's a real challenge.

How's scoring for a video game any different? Talk about "The Crew."

It's extraordinarily different. It is so different day-to-day. You have to break apart the production process and the pipeline. We wanted to make sure we had different sounds for different parts of the game, so I had to make a chart, for each mission, what kind of speed, what kind of sound... it was a nerdy, scientific way to think about it, it's a whole different set of rules.

One thing that got easier as I went along was that I had no pictures. You had to just imagine, one player could take 30 seconds for a level, and someone like me would take 10 minutes, so I thought about loops. Music plays a very different function for these loops.

We also build it differently, adding a second layer of music in addition to the first. I explain it like this: you have a race lap, so you have the base song. When you get to the final lap, there's actually a second layer that makes it more intense more exciting. The classic version of this happening, like for Mario Kart, is you take the same music and just speed it up. For us, we wanted to do something more sophisticated. So the intensity is greater. Those are the types of things that get to the heart of "How was that different?".

In a movie, I go up to a guy and punch him in a scene. In a video game, you could go up to a guy and talk to him and then punch him. The elements are so much more malleable.

What's new with Kelly Clarkson? You guys worked together on [2013's] "Wrapped in Red." Are you working on a lot more pop?

I just wrapped on some arrangements and recording for her new album. I know nothing about when it will be released, but I was with [producers] Greg Kurstin and Jason Halbert. It was really fun to work on Kelly's album again.

And with Greg, he produced the music for the new "Annie" film, so I did some arrangements for that. David Campbell was the lead orchestrator on that project. He's an incredible person when it comes to arranging pop music for orchestra. He did all the songs, and I came in toward the end and did the score with Greg, I arranged and orchestrated the orchestra. That was super fun.

It's been a really, really great year because I've had the pleasure being involved in so many different things. For "Nightcrawler," James Newton Howard asked me to do some additional music production and some interesting sounds, alternate mixes and remixing for that score, and that was super fun. It was Jake Gyllenhaal like nobody's ever seen.

How many tracks did you work on for Clarkson's album? What size of orchestra did you work with?

I did four or five arrangements, I don't know how many will end up on this record. It was a full orchestra. When we first worked on "Wrapped in Red," and when we got a chance to work on her Las Vegas run, it was fun to see when a great pop artist who has rarely seen the full force of the musicians. It goes beyond the big bombastic scope of a whole orchestra -- the big timpani and cymbals thing --  there's a certain humanity you can't replicate when you have 50 or 60 members in a room. That's one thing that led Daft Punk from "Tron Legacy" to [their 2013 album] "Random Access Memories." Even though I didn't work on that album, as a fan, you could tell what a lot of what they did was influenced by working with an orchestra. There's no way to replicate it.

Is there any update on those Joseph Kosinski projects, the Tom Cruise Le Mans film or the follow-up to "Tron: Legacy?"

For that Le Mans project, I would love to be involved if that moves forward. Joe Kosinski, in my book, is one of the greatest working directors out there. Any time he asks me to jump, I say "How high?".

And for "Tron 3," every few months, I hear a rumble from a friend who's either a sound designer or a producer, someone involved who was on "Tron" say, "I hear it's coming... I hear it's coming." I hear it's coming and I know they are actively working on it, but stars have to align for everyone to get the green light. Hopefully that happens soon, because I would love to strike up the band again and do something new for the Tron world.

How's M83 doing?

I know he's in pre-production on his new album, and if he comes calling again... Anthony remains one of my closest collaborators and musical friends. Any time, whenever I see his name pop up on the caller ID, I get very excited. I sure hope we can work together again on this new record.

American Music Awards 2014 Live-Blog

American Music Awards 2014 Live-Blog

Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande (times two!), One Direction and more...

Get ready to have your hair blown back by the 2014 American Music Awards. Broadcast live on ABC from The Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, there's promise of lots of Iggy Azalea -- the night's nominations leader -- opening act Taylor Swift, singer Ariana Grande, a Lil Wayne sighting and more

Follow along in our live blog below.

5:00pm EST: Did you know the American Music Awards are three hours long? That's why this intro is 15 minutes long.

5:02: Taylor Swift's "Blank Space is up first. If you're not familiar, it's the new single from her runaway hit album "1989" and is by far her CRAZY-CRAZIEST-EYED song ever. How many men will she kill in this performance?

5:04 I lost count of dead ex-lovers. Is this "Fury?" Did you see that perfectly set of crazy eyes? She's on her knees pulling her best "Bad Romance." I'm kind of in love with her now, too, I should wear a hazmat suit.

5:06 Pitbull is just shouting buzzwords at me now. Off the chain! Raising roofs! Music, go team, score all the points!

5:08 "Not all Latinos are Mexican. Mexicano!" Pitbull starts. It's like a joke with no punchline. "President Obama said we can all stay."

5:09 Iggy Azalea is not impressed with Pitbull having admitted watching her "Booty" video hundreds of times in slow motion. Iggy Azalea is a serious artist, Azalea thinks to herself. Iggy Azalea's booty is, like, art.

5:11 Oh that's so weird, One Direction won a fan-voted award, so strange. I'm guessing the category is for Cutest Boy In Math Class (actually, it's Favorite Pop/Rock Band Duo or Group).

5:17 Ansel Elgort, swoon-man of "Fault in Our Stars," introduces Charli XCX's "Boom Clap," featured in the movie. This song is also possibly the best pop song of 2014. You slept on it. It's ok. Loving the junior prom theme.

5:20 This leather-clad boobie death grip was brought to you by Charli XCX's "Break the Rules," from the forthcoming album "Sucker." The goth transition was cool until she tried to get all punk rock. It was Hot Topic punk rock. I miss the pink balloons :(

5:22 Wyclef Jean is here singing "Remember When I Was in the Fugees." Or, rather, it's a song that's for charity, released with Avicii called "Divine Sorrow."

5:24 Magic! The band that requires an exclamation point due to copyright and previously named acts called Magic! Just looking at that dude makes me hate middle school all over again. "Rude" is simultaneously the catchiest and worst song of 2014. We're really hitting all our superlatives here.

5:30 I can't understand half of what Pitbull's saying, and I'm not talking about his Spanish. That's kinda fun. No, he's speaking really fast. Big breath, dude.

5:32 Jamie Foxx is holding a little girl who is about his own size. It's weird.

5:33 Iggy Azalea plundered Lorde's wardrobe.

5:34 "This is the first award I've ever won for anything..." Azalea is genuinely moved for her Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album win. Go get it.

5:35 For those who may be confused about who 5 Seconds Of Summer are, they're like the community theater kid version of Green Day. For those who know and love 5 Seconds Of Summer, Green Day is a pop-punk band from the 1990s, who made some questionable choices and took great career risks in the aughts, you should look them up.

5:42 Imagine Dragons is still the rock-formatted band that is still making actual rock music in the rock sphere. They're on the radio for making rock. They make rock records. There is something to be said for that, I'm glad they're around. That being acknowledged, "I Bet My Life" feels like 3 minutes of someone yelling at me inside my own house.

5:47 Mega-LOL at OITNB stars Taylor Schilling and Uzo Aduba laughing hard at their wooden script.

5:49 Congrats to Sam Smith, for his win Favorite Male Pop/Rock Artist, based initially off of a song that is pretty much exactly Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" but less stoned and sacredly sung.

5:52 I just figured out what 1D's Louis Tomlinson's haircut reminds me of.

5:54 Intrepid reporter Chris Eggertsen and I took like a full minute to figure out Pitbull's glaucoma joke. We're not true Californians, I guess.

5:58 Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One" is the reason his "In the Lonely Hour" will be your folks' stocking stuffer x100

5:59 "Women can run hip-hop..." says T.I. They can, but is Iggy the way into that convo? Nicki Minaj is backstage somewhere, throwing so much shade she needs a marlin net.

6:01 This Iggy Igg medley with "Fancy" (Charli XCX) and "Beg For It" featuring MO is already twice as good as her ill-fated SNL appointment. More space, more dance, more lively. And Mo isn't there. BIG SIDE EYES

6:05 Luke Bryan Forgets A Button, Wins Favorite Country Male

6:12 LORDE IS IN A TINY ROOM. GET HER OUT OF THE ROOM

6:13 LORDE'S SURROUNDED BY THE GUILTY REMNANT FROM 'THE LEFTOVERS' GET HER OUT AND SAFELY

6:14 This actually might be one of my favorite performances from the night. So stark. It's like the anti-performance. The Courtney Love lipstick smear, there's no need for broken instruments and spikes. Kudos for Lorde, get that "Mockingjay" visibility for "Yellow Flicker Beat" and for the rest of that soundtrack.

6:16 Ariana Grande is on with a smooth jazz version of "Problem," sung at 75% speed and yet still I can't tell what the words to this song are. All hail Queen Mushmouth.

6:18 Giant expanding hearts in pink and blue blow up behind Grande for "Love Me Harder," Mariah Carey is at home, sharpening knives. Weeknd has a rough start and looks a little lost on a stage this big, but I think he's earning new fans.

6:21 This newsroom just filled with barf sounds: Jenny McCarthy's on TV.

6:23 One Direction wins for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, and it doesn't really matter for which album, just look at Harry Styles' Johnny Depp hat. What do you think he's hiding under there?

6:25 Harry Styles is hiding panties under his hat

6:25 Harry Styles is hiding Four Loko under his hat

6:25: Harry Styles is holding Zayn Malick's career back... under his hat

6:28 Miss America is proud to introduce the night's host, who already introduced himself. And you wonder why this show is three hours long.

6:31 You can tell the state of Pitbull and Ne-Yo's self-esteem by the number of scantily clad dancers dancing at them.

6:34 Favorite Pop/Rock Female goes to Katy Perry, as presented by three carved driftwood statues. The Kardashian sisters say that Perry's live acceptance speech is via satellite, but we are not stupid and... well it doesn't matter, Perry seems less-than-excited anyway.

6:40 I can't believe "Alternative Rock Album" is still even a category. Imagine Dragons win. At least they're "rock."

6:41 Mary Lambert! We love you!

6:42 "The Heart Wants What It Wants." Rumor has it those voice mails are to/for Selena Gomez' on-and-off bey Justin Bieber. Dark clouds roll, barbed wire glazes flesh, roses burst. Love is a nightmare you guys. Don't fall in love with Justin Bieber.

6:45 Mascara stained tears, a winged being flies into an eclipse. Take it easy on us, Gomez, we're getting a case of the Mondays on a Sunday.

6:47 Best New Artist (presented by Kohl's) is given to 5SOS. "Bastille, you guys are awesome," they say at the podium. "This really shows that a little band from Sydney can do great things."

6:56 Second Aussie win in a row. Azalea takes home Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop artist, stumps for David Geffen.

6:58 Kate Beckinsale introduces a little tiny band, One Direction. How does she stay so young? Drink the blood of her foes?

7:00 One Direction hitting you hard, where it hurts: with a forgettable mid-tempo father-daughter dance in a corn field.

7:02 "Goodness gracious great wall of China..." Lil Wayne rhymes in his song "Start a Fire" featuring eye candy Christina Milian. The rest of that stanza was bleeped. But knowing Weezy's affinity for cunnilingus, we can take a guess what he rhymed it with. Lotta fire in this show. And yet my eyebrows are still intact.

7:06 For her first act, Nicki Minaj keeps things classy in a nearly bridal white gown, getting serious-faced with Skylar Grey tickling the ivories. Check out the music video for this song, "Bed of Lies," here. Minaj will be back later, for "Bang Bang" with Ariana Grande and Jessie J.

7:11 Diana Ross is having a hard time with her dress. She may be more excited than she normally would, to cover for the fact she may accidentally expose her Supremes.

7:15 Congrats to Taylor Swift, for the first-ever Dick Clark Award For Whatever Gets Her Back Up Here

7:17 Here's why I love Taylor Swift, Celebrity. She graciously thanks her presenter, Diana Ross, while simultaneously nodding to her own legacy, for "a woman who would stick up for herself" even when it wasn't popular to do so. She uses the apple box to thank her fans, and most specifically those fans who bought her album. In other words, thanks for the purchase and suck it, Spotify. Her "value" speech has everything to do with her "quality versus quantity" argument against streaming services. But makes all that as a compliment to her fans. Crafty. Smart. Celebrity.

7:22 Fergie having a tough time to snap attention back to the performances, ends on a soft note with a wardrobe issue at the end of "L.A. Love (La La)." The single hasn't moved the needle enough for a full-fledged comeback, and I don't think the neon lights and the shaggin' wagon setpiece will do it either.

7:28  Luke Bryan experiencing a little disconnect, dealing with an AMAs crowd (North Carolina what... what?) as opposed the CMAs, AMC, CMTs, AACCMMMMs. Get excited for Garth Brooks, though.

7:31 Garth Brooks tore down the roof... anywhere other than in L.A. "People Loving People" is rowdy, knee-dancey, and the perfect time to check your phone, because there will be no cutaways to Taylor Swift. "Country," she sniffs somewhere grand, grasping a flute of champagne, "I think I remember country."

7:33 I know exactly what this performance will be. It's Mary J. Blige being great and almost uniformly indistinguishable from the 200 other awards shows she'll say "yes" to in the coming year. "Whole Damn Year" isn't the best melody to depart from her mouth but, again, it's lovely. Thanks Ms. Blige, you can collect your check in your green room.

7:41 Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj come together again for "Bang, Bang," and they do a killer job with their vocals, their wild gold outfits, their grinding up on the front row. Taylor Swift and Jessie share the frame, blowing minds for anybody who read my "Good Girls" piece. Minaj has a little more fun here. Sad that Jessie J still isn't A Thing here in America, what crazy pipes.

7:54 "We genuinely  can't believe it..." Really, One Direction, you genuinely can't believe you've won a trio of fan-voted music awards, including this one, Artist of the Year? If they're happy, you're happy. We did it, America.

7:57 Houston, we have butt-rubbing. Azalea joins Jennifer Lopez for "Booty," Lopez' derriere rising and falling like the moons of Jupiter.

7:59 "Booty" gets yet another remix as Lopez steps out and does what Lopez does best: hoof it. She makes any non-dancing act tonight look like a bunch of drowsy squirrels. "Booty" may not be a music achievement, but J-Lo has this magical ability to make any performance utterly entertaining.

8:00 It ends on time! I'm flabbergasted! Out of the woods! In the clear! Good.

Beyonce's song '7/11' is terrible. Beyonce's '7/11' music video is amazing.

Beyonce's song '7/11' is terrible. Beyonce's '7/11' music video is amazing.

Spinning while my hands up

Fresh off of me slagging Beyonce's "7/11" as a song, here is the "7/11" music video. It is amazing. Here, watch it.

Beyonce is just like you. You are just like Beyonce. When you have a nice hotel room, you trash it, you dance in your underwear, you spill your drink, you wear the first piece of crumpled clothing you can find at the foot of the bed and rock it. When your girlfriends come in, you know your phone is out faster than you can say "Flawless."

I have 100 favorite moments from this "homemade" masterpiece. Beyonce as a roomba. Beyonce as a Christmas present. Beyonce doing that jump-through-your-own-leg move and falling on her ass with a smile. That guy who's trying to escape the frame at 3:24. Phone foot. Undies pyramid.

She just had an intern to make her Precious Moments fresher. Fresher than you.

"7/11" is off of the platinum edition of the "Beyonce" album re-release, out Nov. 24.

New Beyonce songs leak: 'Ring Off' is a triumph, hit skip on '7/11'

New Beyonce songs leak: 'Ring Off' is a triumph, hit skip on '7/11'

An ode to mama to shake up your weekend

"Now it all makes sense," Beyonce sings in her new song "Ring Off." "Always know that you’ve got a daughter / That’s so, so proud you took the high road."

"Ring Off" is one of two totally new songs that are included on Bey's self-titled album reissue, out on Nov. 24. It's easy to see why this song -- were it cut last year -- maybe wouldn't have made the initial cut of "Beyonce," released last December. "Ring Off" was off-brand for the landmark year adjacent to that ground-rattling release.

From spring of 2013 to the spring of this year, the singer and entertainer hoofed through her Mrs. Carter World Tour; the very title of the tour itself, as cheeky as it was, brought about the association that Beyonce is not Ms. Knowles, but instead used her year to celebrate being a wife, a new mother, a headliner with strings attached.

"Ring Off" is about divorce, of her mom Tina from her dad Matthew, and becomes an ode to the strength of her mother. Tina and Matthew had an allegedly nasty divorce in 2011 after he had an affair and a child with his mistress. Professionally, Beyonce had her own divorce from her dad-manager shortly thereafter.

That's two years to deal with parents' divorce, one that came after 31 years of marriage. Beyonce's daughter Blue Ivy was born about a year later.

Then Beyonce goes on a Mrs. Carter World Tour a year after that.

The topic of divorce as explored in hip-hop, pop and R&B could fill litters of books, but a pop star of Beyonce's caliber laying out her POV in her parents' divorce is pretty eye-opening, for several reasons. Beyonce famously keeps The Personal close to vest in her songs, and her "Beyonce" album explored more sensuality and togetherness, not separation. She's spent all of last year and 2014 battling or ignoring rumors that her own marriage to Jay-Z is on the rocks. And yet here is a clear-eyed, heart-felt ode, taking a side in her own family concluding: "We can still love again," that her mom is precious and deserves to one day get her swerve back.

This showing-your-hand isn't about Perfect Brand Beyonce, it's about The Actual Life Of Beyonce, which is why it may have not fit on "Beyonce." It would have arrived at a time to make gossip-mongers titter and, likely, Dec. 2013 was too early to pour all that out. My guess is that she sat with "Ring Off" for a good hearty minute. It's the antithesis to "Single Ladies," for those who got the ring on it, and for their own good, had to take it off.

Pile that sentiment on top of a sunny guitar riff that sits somewhere between 1975 and Mary J.'s "Real Love" and a deep, dark synth underbelly that lurks in the minor key, and you've got some stirring material from Queen B.

Which brings us to the other song to leak today, "7/11." Comparatively, this club throwaway isn't likely to move you, even physically. This literally could be any artist, it's like mad-libs for people who get bottle service.

"Beyonce," the platinum edition, is out on Nov. 24 and includes remixes of "Flawless" featuring Nicki Minaj, "Blow" with Pharrell and "Drunk In Love" with Jay-Z and Kanye, and more.

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