<p>Belly boy: PiL in the studio in July 2011</p>

Belly boy: PiL in the studio in July 2011

Listen to Public Image Ltd.'s first song in two decades: 'One Drop'

EP due in April, full-length in May or June

"I am no vulture, this is my culture," John Lydon warns -- or is it a declaration?

Whatever he's portraying, it's in Public Image Ltd.'s first new song in 20 years, off their first studio effort since 1992's "That What Is Not." Defiant "One Drop" utilizes reggae rhythms and layers upon layers of guitars and processed noise, all with the former Sex Pistol's penchant vibrato and prrroper brrrah-brrrahing consonant rolls.

The chorus reminds me a little of LCD Soundsystem's "One Touch" -- one drop, after all, is rarely ever enough."We are the ageless, we are teenagers," he sing-says, the vocals mixed way up front. It's got a lot of character, though Lydon's certainly no teenager and the wear on his voice shows.

The song is from a new vinyl-only EP 'One Drop' out on April 21 for Record Store Day. It precedes PiL's first full-length in two decades, "This Is PiL," due in May or June.

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<p>The Mars Volta</p>

The Mars Volta

Listen: The Mars Volta's 'Jewel' was kept in the garage

Newest track from new album 'Noctourniquet'

It's a little hard to believe this is Mars Volta.

"The Malking Jewel" is a murky garage growler with a dash of late '70s jam, not the psych space journey we've all come to know and love. This is like inviting your weed-selling neighbor over to party, and instead his scuzzy-but-awesome cousin shows up, borrows your bowl and asks too many weird questions about your turntable.

Listen to Mars Volta's "The Maling Jewel" here.

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<p>Bon Iver's Justin Vernon with his Grammys: too heavy or too light?</p>

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon with his Grammys: too heavy or too light?

Credit: AP Photo

Bon Iver expresses nervousness, discomfort, confusion on Grammy Award win

Was Justin Vernon's band asked to perform with the Beach Boys?

LOS ANGELES - Justin Vernon felt out of place at the Grammy Awards, and not just because of the brown, slightly oversized suit.

The Bon Iver frontman himself expressed different versions of discomfort, confusion and nervousness about the 54th annual ceremony, despite a very hospitable bounty of two top-tier wins, for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album. His apprehension didn't emanate from the glut of industry heavy-hitters attending the show, but rather from those who were absent.

"When I started to make songs I did it for the inherant reward of making songs, so im a little bit uncomfortable up here. But with that discomfort I do have a sense of gratitude," he said during his acceptance speech for Best New Artist, a top-tier, telecasted honor. He indicated thanks to his fellow nominees and "all the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here."

As Vernon held his two statues backstage at the ceremony, he mentioned similar notions. I had the chance to ask him if he was ever considered actually skipping the Grammys.

"I was like, 'I dont know if I can go.' I was pretty nervous, there was a lot of emotions, feeling like maybe i didnt deserve to go or i wasn't ready to be in front of y'all, in front of all those people or something," he replied. "It's also just a slice of the industry. It's such a big slice, it's the biggest night in music, but there's so much music out there that can't be represented in this one night. I had a lot of confusion going in, but im glad i came and i feel really honored and stuff."

Vernon also further explained the circumstances around the performance invite, hinting that the band's collaboration could have been with the newly reunited Beach Boys. "It turned out with the Beach Boys coming back, it's kind of a big deal," he said, purposefully understating. "I decided I wanted to do something with my band and play our song, but there wasn't really time for that tonight."

As previously reported, the Jagjaguwar artist revealed that Bon Iver had been offered to perform at the Grammys ceremony and declined on principle. They wanted to play one of their own compositions and, were they required to collaborate with other artists on the show as so many artists do, that they wanted collaborate with friends or artists of their choosing.

Despite his concerns, Vernon couldn't shake at least some positive feeling, telling attendees during his Best Alternative Album acceptance that it "feels pretty special."

And it is pretty unique for an independent label artist to even be nominated at the Grammys -- let alone win -- Vernon's uneasiness was in part a reflection of the slim chances other indie artists have at getting wide-scale recognition. As Jagjag label head Chris Swanson told me in January, Bon Iver's appeal naturally unfurled into the larger landscape.

"It was great to participate in a record as far-reaching as “Bon Iver.” It was a nice shock but it still feels like a really natural sequence of events. He’s reaching so many people."

Perhaps when you're is so deeply committed to songcraft, nothing feels natural.

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<p>Nicki Minaj performing at the 2012 Grammy Awards, looking as confused as we are</p>

Nicki Minaj performing at the 2012 Grammy Awards, looking as confused as we are

Credit: AP Photo

5 key cultural references in Nicki Minaj's looney 'Roman Holiday' Grammy show

Watch: Catholicism, 'The Exorcist,' 'West Side Story' and what Nicki did on her Christmas vacation

What the hell was that?

Nicki MInaj's Grammy Awards show performance of "Roman Holiday" was hell, in so many ways. Most notably, it was a theatrical interpretation of hell, though viewers were indiscriminately and unknowingly cast there within the first few notes.

The jumbled, faltering, brain-deleting insanity of the stage presentation wasn't made any more tolerable by Nicki's singing voice, bending around the tracked vocals in caterwauling notes and nonsense. Until there is a fully edited music video to accompany this song, it will be forever burned into memory as a vortex of blistering shame and confusion.

Nobody -- especially Minaj -- was ready for this. But there were some clues as to what she was going for, references to pop culture flotsam and bedlam that could one day parse into a central theme or idea.

Below, I outline five of many influencers on Minaj's Roman trainwreck. If you relax your eyes long enough, you'll see a dolphin or perhaps a man with a funny hat emerging from this image:

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<p>Katy Perry at the 2012 Grammys</p>

Katy Perry at the 2012 Grammys

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Katy Perry's 'Part of Me' officially debuts after tormented Grammy gig

Revised lyrics to new 'Teenage Dream' re-release single reflect on singer's divorce

Heartache is never convenient, but Katy Perry's emotional malady may work in her favor.

The pop star bowed "Part of Me" at the Grammy Awards last night (Feb. 12), psyching out the audience at first with opening strains of "E.T." She then unfurled into a wrenching, sour-faced bearer of bad news to a former lover, repeating her refrain "This is the part of me / That you're never gonna ever take away from me" as she aggressively weaved her way around her band and symbolically struggled with wrist straps inside a person-sized see-through box. And you can tell things are rough, y'know, because there's fire and her hair's crimped.

This performance came on the heels of a week highlighted by Perry's signed divorce papers -- legally dunzo with her husband Russell Brand -- on top of the announcement that her highly successful album "Teenage Dream" was getting the re-issue treatment. With the re-release comes the promise of three new songs, and "Part of Me" was selected to be the new single.

In the middle of 2011, Katy Perry tied Michael Jackson for the most No. 1 singles from the same album. I estimate by late winter of 2012, she will have set a new high-water mark.

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<p>Chris Brown accepting his win for Best R&amp;B&nbsp;Album (&quot;F.A.M.E.&quot;)</p>

Chris Brown accepting his win for Best R&B Album ("F.A.M.E.")

Credit: AP Photo

Why did Chris Brown perform at the Grammys? The Academy answers

Neil Portnow says NARAS members' focus is on music alone
LOS ANGELES – At this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, Chris Brown earned his very first Grammy Award and performed twice. The truth of the matter is that in 2009, just prior to the 51st annual Grammy Awards, the entertainer violently assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna, and some viewers and music fans this year may be dumbfounded by the Recording Academy’s embrace of the controversial singer.
Regardless of his impressive dance moves or impassioned performances overall, Brown couldn’t help but to serve as a very negative reminder of his famous crime in 2009, no matter how many times he’s apologized. It struck a public nerve, which could be exactly what organizers wanted out of Brown's two solo songs and a group performance with a dance act.
Or, according to Neil Portnow, his win and appearances were only natural extensions of the music community’s voice.
I had the opportunity to ask Portnow (president of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and former VP of Jive Records’ West Coast division) about his and NARAS members’ approach to the show and Brown’s Best R&B Album-winning “F.A.M.E.” (coincidentally, released via Jive).
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<p>He can hear you: &quot;Rumour Has It&quot; that Ryan Tedder won a Grammy</p>

He can hear you: "Rumour Has It" that Ryan Tedder won a Grammy

Credit: AP Photo

Ryan Tedder: Beyonce is working on two projects in 2012

Award-winning songwriter and producer says conversation on diva’s next move ‘litererally just happened’

LOS ANGELES -- Much like Adele, said Ryan Tedder, Beyonce “steers the ship.” And the award-winning producer/songwriter has some idea of just where that ship is going.

Tedder was speaking with press at the 2012 Grammy Awards after picking up an honor for contributing to Adele’s Album of the Year, “21,” and his nomination for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Asked what his next projects were for 2012, he said that B.o.B.’s next single would be out this week, and he’s had his hands on music for K’Naan, Gavin Degraw and some “Beyonce stuff.”
He said it goes “without saying” that Bey’s work will have some reflection on her newborn child Blue Ivy, but that “the conversations about her next album literally just happened.”
“You feed her the best that you have. She’s just a phenomenal filter… she can identify what the next thing is,” Tedder said of the “Party” girl, noting that she has “two projects happening” this year. “You just let her go.”
Tedder went on to describe witnessing the moment when Adele’s vocal cords gave out during her Denver concert last year, and the gutted feeling he had when she was forced to cancel her remaining tour dates. He was very proud of the way the British singer bounced back for tonight’s performance, and felt that “one billion percent” of the reason that radio, the Grammys and just about everybody else has reacted to “21” the way they have is because of it’s “real music” appeal.
He explained his method of scanning the U.K. and U.S. hits charts once a week, taking note of how few artists are actually performing on instruments, or singing pop from a laptop.
“There’s not going to be a bunch of Adeles,” he warned, though labels may still try to push similar artists. “Any time the pendulum swings, it’s looking for one thing -- one artist, one song -- to swing it all the way to the other direction. I love Deadmau5 and Max Martin. [But] I like to see actual instrumentation, less laptop hits.”
The organic process behind his work with Adele sometimes started with just an instrument and a conversation. For “Rumour Has It,” Tedder said he was playing around with a Radiohead riff, and Adele was explaining some of her frustrations with tabloids and gossip, literally using the phrase, “’Rumor has it that Adele…’”
“When I handed the songs in, I said that this is the least radio stuff I’ve ever done,” he said, expressing his shock that radio took to his contributions “Rumour Has It” and “Turning Tables” so fervently. “This is my favorite stuff I’ve done.”

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<p>Tony Bennett at the Grammy Awards pre-show</p>

Tony Bennett at the Grammy Awards pre-show

Credit: AP Photo

Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse's family reflect on loss at Grammys pre-show

Mitch Winehouse name-checks Whitney Houston and Etta James in rememberence

LOS ANGELES -- Tony Bennett's win was a reminder of loss for Mitch and Janis Winehouse.

The parents of late singer Amy Winehouse took to the stage with the legendary singer as he accepted his award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, earned for his performance with Winehouse on classic "Body and Soul." The presentation came during the 54th annual Grammy Awards pre-telecast show, for honors not given during the Staples Center ceremony.

Bennett -- a 16-time award winner -- graciously handed the mic over to Mitch and Janis for the majority of the allotted speech time. From here, Mitch kept it together in accepting the award on his daughter's behalf, with a little choke behind his voice.

"I can't tell you what it was like. It was like lift-off. Tony's collaboration meant so much to her," he said, speaking of "Body and Soul." "And she was so excited, because it was my favorite song. I said 'Do you know the words, darlin'?' She said 'You've been singing that song to me for 25 years, of course I know the words."

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<p>Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl during Grammys pre-show</p>

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl during Grammys pre-show

Credit: AP Photo

Skrillex shocked with 3 wins, Foo Fighters have fun with 4 at Grammys pre-show

Kanye West, Adele are no-shows for 3 and 2, respectivley; Civil Wars, Taylor Swift pick up theirs

LOS ANGELES -- The parade of wins for Adele at the 54th annual Grammy Awards has begun, but Skrillex is absolutely reeling from his, even if it stops at these first three.

Skrillex -- real name Sonny Moore -- kept popping back up on the stage with utter excitement during the 2012 awards pre-telecast show, which featured the handing-out of the genre categories not covered by main telecast. The electronica artist/DJ picked up Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Dance Recording for "Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites" and its title track, respectively, on top of Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for the song "Cinema" (in conjunction with Benny Benassi).

The first time up, Moore thanked the EDM communtiy (spurring many adults to Google the term "EDM").

"All the boats rise at the water," he said, referring to electronic music. He described making his album in illegal warehouse space in L.A., smiling as his straight black hair bounded away from the shaved side of his head, black glasses matching the rest of his all-black-everything of his outfit.

The Foo Fighters were smiling a lot too and -- at four awards -- it was just getting funny.

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<p>Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks in &quot;Sparkle&quot;</p>

Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks in "Sparkle"

Credit: Sony

Whitney Houston spoke of race, motherhood, religion for final film ‘Sparkle’

Singer/actress was the biggest loss of many losses for music movie remake

Whitney Houston’s remake of the film “Sparkle” – what has proved to be her final cinematic project – was a personal one. The superstar entertainer served as executive producer, headed up the soundtrack and starred in the musical movie. Those roles were a culmination of her long, legendary career, but her lead character Emma was developed to be, in part, an autobiographical reflection on Houston herself. She said as much. 

The 48-year-old singer/actress was looking good – really good, actually -- when, three months ago, she breezed through the double doors of a Detroit church’s social hall, wearing all white. It was an appropriate setting for her interview with a handful of us journalists: the role of religion was injected into the updated script, which bumped up the story’s time period from the late ‘50s to 1968. Christianity and gospel music was added to inform the tale of a single-parent, African-American family of three gifted daughters who start a girl group during the height of Detroit’s musical influence and racial turmoil in America.
“It is presenting African-Americans in a beautiful light. Everybody on camera is just beautiful, and we’re smart and we’re educated and we’re dealing with our time of civil unrest. And raising children at that time as a single parent at that time must have been…” Houston took a hand to her brow. “Phew. That’s why I put church in it, because it’s a foundation. In my life I know -- and anybody who was raised in the church or the gospel or the Word -- that’s exciting, that’s what makes… everybody be able to feel it.”
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