<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Listen: Lil Wayne goes crooner on 'How to Love' single

Does he play the part well?

Lil Wayne unsuccessfully attempted to be a rockstar on his album "Rebirth." Now the rapper wants to be an R&B singer.

Check out Detail-produced "How to Love" here.

If he was going to adopt such a popular song title, he should've gone with "Road to Nowhere" instead, because that's where this slow-riding, low-energy track gets us. Weezy is obviously trying to make a statement -- like Katy Perry wearing a high collared shirt, or Lady Gaga directing her own videos: he has all the resources in the world, included protege Drake, to do the singing, but perhaps the tune was just too good to give to somebody who can, y'know, sing.

Love you, Wayne, but this color doesn't look good on you. Like your cohort Nicki Minaj, let the rappers rap. Here, listen to The Weeknd, you'll feel better, see how it's done.

"How to Love" will be featured on "Tha Carter IV," out in June.

Read Full Post
<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Listen: Beyonce's '1+1' from new album '4'

Superstar performer sets tracklist, including guests Andre 3000 and Kanye West

Beyonce distinguished herself as one of the brightest highlights during "American Idol's" season finale last night, due in part to the debut of "1+1," the first ballad to be introduced from her forthcoming album "4."

While we're playing the numbers game, this will mark the second single from the set, as "Who Run the World (Girls)" continues to struggle with airplay and mass adoption on a "Single Ladies" scale. But upon viewing Bey's live take of the song for "Oprah" earlier this week -- despite the borderline hilarious handing-out-of-diplomas bit -- plus this spectacular vocal performance, Beyonce is aiming for entertainment perfection.

If only it didn't seem the lyrics to "1+1" were penned by a second-grader.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>January Jones in &quot;X-Men: First Class&quot;</p>

January Jones in "X-Men: First Class"

January Jones merely 'enjoyed being a mutant' in new 'X-Men: First Class'

'Silly, drunk and randy' James McAvoy, WonderBras and Michael Fassbender's zinger

Despite the elaborate set pieces, extreme costumes and a travel back in time, January Jones simply "enjoyed being a mutant" in new "X-Men: First Class."

The '60s era during which the comic book film takes place may be no new stretch to Jones, who's best known for her role as Betty Draper in "Mad Men." But the privileges of having superpowers were not lost on her or her "X-Men" castmates, gathered in New York today (May 25) to discuss the franchise flick. "I loved my character the best I think," she deadpanned as actors like James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto), Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw) and Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert) debated the strengths of the story and their own characters.

Byrne -- who plays a non-mutant CIA agent -- admitted to a little "power envy." Bacon was "knocked out" upon viewing the movie, unknowing how his mutant power to absorb and manipulate energy was going to manifest on screen.

"Where he's wise, I was unwise. Where he's chaste, I was rather randy," McAvoy said, comparing his younger, "silly and drunk" version of Professor X to the elder, played by Patrick Stewart in the five other "X-Men" films. "I didn't see myself as..."

"... a bald guy," Fassbender cheerfully chimed in.

And to that -- of all the many different foreign languages spoken in "First Class" -- none seem to be as widely adopted as sarcasm and gentle chiding on set and during this promotional run. Zoe Kravitz said preparation for her role as acid-spitting, flying former stripper Angel involved "research on the WonderBra." Upon initially learning he got a part in the film, Bacon said his first thought was, "Who fell out?" Fassbender and McAvoy -- whose characters in them play out how they began as friends and end as enemies -- were quick to suggest baby names to round-bellied Jones, who is expecting a child in the fall.

"Little Magneto...

"Little Xavier...

"Little Banshee...

"Little Riptide..."

Many of the actors described the process of making the movie "fast-paced," "tough" and "under-pressure" or having joined the cast "very quickly." The Matthew Vaughn project had undergone some delays but obviously made it out just fine on the other side, said McAvoy. When he'd first seen the final, he encouraged Fassbender to watch it as soon as possible."I said, You've got to see it quick, you're gonna be relieved, you'll be able to go to the toilet again," he laughed. "We were worried, man, because sometimes these things are a nightmare, and it's been well-documented that they can."

Read Full Post
<p>Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld and Will Butler</p>

Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld and Will Butler

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Arcade Fire preview two new songs, including David Byrne collab

Deluxe version of 'The Suburbs' gots the goods

Earlier this month, we warned you that a deluxe version of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" was on the way, on Aug. 2. Now, we're able to preview some of the goods that will be included on that set.

"Speaking in Tongues" featuring David Byrne and "Culture War" debuted on AF bestie Zane Lowe's radio show in the UK today. Below are the radio rips, via ListenBeforeYouBuy.

The former is ominously jaunty, with swirling synths, a sparkly guitar line and the Talking Heads frontman's typical, sonorous voice on the chorus. The latter is droopy-headed melancholia from Win Butler, sharply divided with handclaps and some distorted electric holding down the rhythm.

The re-release includes these two previously unreleased tracks, and extended version of "Wasted Hours (A Life That We Can Live)", an 80-page booklet and a DVD featuring Spike Jonze's "Scenes from the Suburbs" short film, a "Suburbs" doc and "The Suburbs" music video.

Arcade Fire basically done touring America except for a few festival dates.

[Tracks after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Indie songwriter Ernie Halter wins the Justin Bieber lottery

The Bieb covers 'Come Home To Me,' love fest ensues

Ernie Halter may have just had the best week ever.

The singer-songwriter not only had his song "Come Home to Me" covered by none other than Justin Bieber, but then the teenaged heartthrob actually showed up at his tiny show in Orange County, Calif. last night (May 19) to duet with him on the song.

Bieber and girlfriend Selena Gomez apparently fly from Asia to attend the restaurant gig, the love song covered in the video below.

Halter is signed to indie Rock Ridge Music, distributed Warner-owned indie ADA. So hooray for the little guy?

Since all this occurred, it's been nothing but a love-fest on Twitter between the two, with Halter Tweeting things like, “What Justin Bieber has just done for my music, is like what Usher had done for his. #dreambig," and the 17-year-old encouraging, "And … @erniehalter Never Say Never aint no BS. Haha. Thanks again. Music is universal. #artistssupportartists.” I have to stop now, lest I get a cavity or throw up in my mouth.

Here is Halter's original version, streaming on his site (smart). Here is Bieber's.

Read Full Post
<p>Drake</p>

Drake

Listen: New Drake track 'Dreams Money Can Buy'

Just another 'piece of my story'

I'm not the world's biggest Drake lover, because the man already claims he's got enough of them. There's something about the singer-sometimes-rapper's fame -- from "Thank Me Later" -- that feels totally unearned, that good looks and good friends can put you on the map without having much to say.

I am wild, however, about the beat on his new "Dreams Money Can Buy," posted to his website for free download. It very may well be featured on his upcoming sophomore set, "Take Care." He calls it "[a] song that I felt the need to share. Not my single. Just a piece of my story. Hear me out though..."

Hearing him out has him talking down to other MC to the refrain of "Don't fuck with me," taken from Brit songmaker and electronic musician Jai Paul's new track "BTSTU." He furthermore reiterates that he's a busy man ("busy f*ckin'," ZING!) and that he's the "greatest" that his country has ever seen. Frequent Canadian love-in co-conspirator Justin Bieber may beg to differ.

An odd lyric may have you double-taking: "I feel like lately it went from top five to remaining five, my favorite rappers either lost it or they ain't alive/ And they trying to bring us down, me Weezy and Stunna, we stayed up, Christmas lights in the middle of summer." Who else is in Drake's "High Fidelity" top 5 moment?

As previously reported, Drake will be at Hot 97s summer jam with buddy Lil Wayne in June; it is his only current tour date on slate.

Do you like the track?

Read Full Post
<p>Frank Ocean</p>

Frank Ocean

Odd Futures: Frank Ocean re-releasing album through Def Jam

Tyler the Creator and gold at the end of the GLAAD rainbow

In a week that the group under fire for anti-gay slurs more than any other time in its short existence, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All is further plotting their own future.

One of the hip-hop troupe's members, Frank Ocean, is finally making some headway with his label Def Jam, after a tumultuous release of his debut "Nostalgia, Ultra." After the major slept on the set, Odd Future's sole singer decided to release it on his own, via Tumblr, in February this year. Now, the record company is prepared re-release the set under their own terms, with single "Novacane" dropping on iTunes on May 31 and the whole album heading to shops on July 26.

This after OFWGKTA cohort Tyler the Creator made an impact on the sales chart this week, moving 45,000 units of his XL debut "Goblin." It seems Def Jam is ready to make a little scratch of its own off of the phenomenon, no matter if Odd Future's future as a collective is short-lived or better than the hype.

Ocean's already at work on a follow-up album, with a little help from guests like labelmate Nas. Additionally, he reportedly was working with Beyonce on new tracks for her next album "4" and has penned material for Justin Bieber and John Legend.

Odd Future are apparently working on a new Adult Swim show, just like Jay-Z. Breakoff duo MellowHype are getting their own Fat Possum re-release this summer, after sending their "BlackenedWhite" into the world on their own last fall. The elusive Earl Sweatshirt showed up in New Yorker Magazine this week. 

All this, around the same week that sh*t finally met fan in regards to Tyler's anti-gay and misogynistic lyricism. As he ascended onto the chart, openly gay singer/songwriter Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara (and with the help of GLAAD) publicly took the rapper to task for his rhymes -- to which, of course, Tyler responded on Twitter by inviting either one of the duo's sisters to some of his "hard d*ck."

Unsurprising as a retort, from an artist in a troupe who's made the music industry, at current, its plaything. I don't think there were think-pieces left to write after all the rampant label courtship stories hit the wire at SXSW this year, despite erratic performances and impetuous behavior from the group. Tyler was arrested the same week as his album release for disorderly conduct earlier this month. Violent behavior like bottle-throwing has erupted at their concerts, cutting sets short. Tyler has even urged that Odd Future's followers kill the mean-spirited rhetoric toward Earl's mom (read: "F*ck Earl's Mom") at their chant-heavy shows.

That's a stunning request from somebody who obviously has no remorse for often lazy and degrading language. Like I said in my initial Odd Future missive, we as consumers have fed that machine. We've rewarded that sort of thing all along, with Grammy Awards, and No. 1 albums and such, and not just in hip-hop. We're guilty too, and it's more unsettling in our tolerance than dangerous in its actual execution. Somebody who has honest-to-goodness raw talent like Tyler and some of his Odd Future cohorts (including Ocean) find gold not by seeking the end of the rainbow, but by pissing on it. 

Odd Future aren't mainstream success stories yet, considering they have yet to release a proper studio set. There's a hit yet to "hit," and our moms have never heard of 'em. But maybe Def Jam signings and festival headlinings will push the bad-news-as-good-publicity discussion up front. What will Frank Ocean or MellowHype or any of these guys have to say when they strike out on their own this summer?

Read Full Post
<p>Blondie's &quot;Panic of Girls&quot; album cover</p>

Blondie's "Panic of Girls" album cover

Listen: Blondie releasing first album in 7 years, drop first single 'Mother'

Beirut guesting -- and being covered -- by New Wave legends

Lady Gaga may be Mother Monster, but Debbie Harry is trying to establish her place as "Mother" Zombie.

She and her band Blondie are releasing their first album in eight years, "Panic of Girls," and have dropped the set's first single, "Mother." Featured in the throwback video are club revelers, the band in their finest stage get-ups and the Living Dead. That's right, watch your back at the next tour stop: making out in the bathroom with that cute girl/guy/girl-guy is out, swapping spit with zombies is in. It's supposed to be a tribute to New York City’s  West 14th Street nightclub. Must've missed that one.

This will sit well if you're OK with Blondie still pushing a still-slightly-out-of-date sound. "Mother" isn't Harry's finest vocal performance, but they're pushing for relevance with that patented New Wave sound that put them on the map to begin with. It could be apropos that the announcement came the same day The Cars are back on The Billboard 200.

In addition to "Mother," the band has covered Sophie George's 1985 track "Girlie Girlie," also below.

And yet another cover has made it into the tracklist: recent Immaculate Noise interviewee Beirut's "Sunday Smile" made the cut. And Zach Condon will actually guest on a spot, as well.

"Panic of Girls" has no release date or tracklist ready but "glances backward but resolutely moves forward, remaining keenly observant of street-level pop culture and continuing to find inspiration in the roiling musical melting pot of New York City.” Melt on.

Read Full Post
<p>Gillian Welch</p>

Gillian Welch

Credit: AP Photo

Gillian Welch releasing new solo album in June

Decemberists collaborator preparing for first effort in eight years

I'm crestfallen there's no new music to hear yet, but utterly amped that Gillian Welch is returning with her first new studio effort in eight years this summer.

The Americana singer-songwriter has collaborated with everyone from the Decemberists to Conor Oberst to Ryan Adams, but hasn't dropped a new solo set since 2003's "Soul Journey."

The new effort is named "The Harrow and the Harvest," due on June 28 through Welch's own Acony label, according to NPR (via TwentyFourBit). Its appearance would explain the slew of tour dates Welch has posted for this summer, including a stint opening up for Buffalo Springfield and a mega slot at the Newport Folk Festival.

Welch recently helped out on guitar and vocals on songwriting/touring partner David Rawlings' debut solo set, under the name Dave Rawlings Machine, which dropped in 2009, also on Acony.

The "O Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack contributor obviously takes her time, but back-to-back releases isn't always the right answer for building a legacy. Albums like "Revelator" have taken years to gestate and build, to finally end up roots music fans' inboxes and music players. I have little fear if the wait was worth it, if it's taken this many moons for an album.

 

Read Full Post
Listen: New Lady Gaga track 'Marry the Night' bows in Farmville

Listen: New Lady Gaga track 'Marry the Night' bows in Farmville

Do you want to m-m-m-marry it?

Well, if you love the night so much, why don't you m-m-m-marry it?

This song comes courtesy of Mother Monster's own version of Facebook game Farmville: GaGaville. I see what you did there.

Because of the game company's dibs on premiering it, I suspect the stream below will be removed from YouTube in about five minutes. I urge you to press on, be not disheartened.

I'm so sick of Lady Gaga. This thing -- this album -- finally comes out on May 23.

[Stream -- to be inevitably removed by Interscope -- after the jump...]

Read Full Post