Come, ye, to the great altar of dance. Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Chic's Nile Rodgers hold their liturgy to funk and disco in the new music video for "Lose Yourself to Dance," the new single off of "Random Access Memories." They found a collection of followers who dance as rag-tag and fevered (and, sometimes, as badly) as you do for their worship. The eras of fashion co-mingle. Rumps look the same shaking now as they did in the days of yore.
Lady Gaga has been on the cover of magazines, led performances at the MTV VMAs and "Good Morning America" and is all over radio with her new single "Applause" these days. And, frankly, she was all over the place during Andy Cohen's Bravo show "Watch What Happens Live" and the after-show this week, partially due to that magic white wine she was drinking.
I'll admit, I'm very entertained by the performer here, getting a sniff of realness and fun. But -- as I do all things -- I think of Cyndi Lauper, high priestess, in instances like these, where in even the most laid back, unsober, unscripted circumstances, I'd expect her to maintain control and earn her audience. Gaga kinda loses it at times, as she's dressed in her mermaid/siren gear with shell-cup bra and wave-wrought wig.
Still, some good new (or at least interesting) facts learned. Play along, and watch the clips below plus all the others on "WWHL's" website. Gaga's new album "ARTPOP" is due Nov. 11.
Here are 10 things we learned from Lady Gaga's Watch What Happens Live interview:
David Bowie, Laura Marling, Discolsure, James Blake, Arctic Monkeys and seven other artists have been named to Britain's 2013 Mercury Prize shortlist.
Y'know who's not on there? Mumford & Sons. Now that we've taken a moment to recognize that, lets focus on the contenders, which leans overwhelmingly, again, toward rock and some toward electronica.
Bowie may be top dog here, with his extraordinary comeback "The Next Day," and because it's Bowie and, jeez guys, he's only been nominated one other time. Veterans Arctic Monkeys and Foals put out fine efforts, too, but can't compare to the Thin White Duke.
Newcomer Jake Bugg, Marling and Laura Mvula are certainly safer, folk and singer-songwriterly choices, though Marling has arguable dropped the album of her career with "Once I Was an Eagle," after already having made her way onto the shortlist with two other efforts in her minute time on this blessed earth. (Villagers are the dark, dirty little interlopers that could fit with the folk-rockers too.)
Blake's "Overgrown" may not be his best effort, but it's among these other dance/electronic groups that he'd be most recognizable. That, Hopkins' techno nightmare "Immunity" and Rudimental's lesser-known "Home" can't compare to Disclosure's exceptional "Settle," an album so emotionally sprawling and technically proficient, I hope the judges live and breathe it for this contest.
But 2013 didn't yield a big amount of diversity on this list. Mvula, Marling and all-women rockers Savages rep for the ladies. Mvula is the only lead who is a person of color; and besides her, Disclosure's samplings and Blake's sullen-soul/R&B, there's little music of color, with traditional R&B, jazz and rap shut out in this final tally. That doesn't mean the Merucury Prize hasn't been inventive in its choices in previous years, it's just particularly monochrome this year. Perhaps the Hopkins lobotomy will jog everyone's mind for next year.
The nominees were drawn from 220 albums submitted for the album of the year battle, and £20,000 will be awarded to the winner, announced on Oct. 30.
Here are the nominees and their albums:
Famed televised concert series "Austin City Limits" is preparing to launch into its 39th season, and Phoenix fits the bill for this new year of music performances.
The French dance-rock band Phoenix has its ACL premiere during the Oct. 12 episode to air of "ACL," and we got dibs on an early look at the performance, including this video of "Rome."
Staged at the ACL Live theater in Texas' capital, the Phoenix concert was packed into an hour-long show, which will be the second episode of the season. The first airing, on Oct. 5 on PBS, will feature Juanes and Mexican troupe Jesse & Joy. Vampire Weekend, fun., Emeli Sandé, Grizzly Bear, The Lumineers, Emmylou Harris with Rodney Crowell and others are also on tap for this first half of the new season, with the second half to be announced at a later date. Tune in to ACL's live-stream of fun.'s taping on Sept. 13.
After you listen to "Rome" -- culled from the band's 2010 breakout album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" -- give "Entertainment" a spin, too. Not a coincidence: Phoenix is co-headlining the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.
A full airing schedule of "ACL" is below the videos. According to a release, Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in American television history.
October 5 Juanes | Jesse & Joy
October 12 Phoenix
October 19 The Lumineers | Shovels & Rope
October 26 Vampire Weekend | Grizzly Bear
November 2 Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
November 9 Emeli Sandé | Michael Kiwanuka
November 16 fun. | Dawes
November 23 ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2013
When Terrence Howard walked up, he was already crying.
Arcade Fire have finally lifted the veil on their new single "Reflektor" which -- if you're any fan of their more dance-happy, disco-laden songs like "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" and "Half Light II (No Celebration)" from their last album "The Suburbs" -- will make you pretty happy.
It's more than seven minutes of what most definitely sounds like one of their collaborations with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, who co-produced the new album. This title track additionally gets the enhancement of two new music videos, one standard directed by Anton Corbijn and one interactive through some geniuses at Google Chrome with director Vincent Morisset.
For the Chrome version of the video, some of the technology may interfere with your actual ability to view (browser, mobile tech and video cards), but you will get a good idea of what you're in store for by watching this featurette and exploring some of the images. In this version of the video, the user follows the protagonist/dancer Axelle "Ebony" Munezero through the streets in Haiti. Arcade Fire have spent recent years supporting non-profits and causes from the troubled country, where co-founder Régine Chassagne was born.
Visit justareflektor.com to see the interactive video in Chrome.
Corbijn's black-and-white version of the "Reflektor" experience has its own quirks, too, as the band dons oversized papier mache heads like puppet versions of themselves, hunting down the Disco Ball Man and putting the doll versions of themselves in a shiny coffin. As you do. It's actually a really lighthearted look, at times, at the Montreal-based band, who have made a mystery of themselves in promoting "Reflektor" up until this point. Win Butler and Chassgne put on a good show for this epic-length tune, which plays with the ideas of disillusion, self-reflection and reality, much like "The Suburbs" did.
Interestingling, those cartoony heads were a highlight from the "dance-activated" vid for "Sprawl II," which Morisset directed. There's a continuing theme here, if it's just that the band likes a challenge when playing their instruments.
"Reflektor" as a song just goes and goes, with multiple climaxes, points of entry, and would kill as a instrumental-only. Based on the dance moves in the Corbijn clip, they're having a good time playing it, too.
"Reflektor," the album, is out on Oct. 29. Happy Halloween, we know what you're dressing as.
Fish eye lens, backtracking, fake VHS stripes, hyper-contrast, oh my! Eminem's music video is kicking it old-school, and the rapper's brought a few friends along in the time machine.
Rick Rubin, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar, Em's Bad Meets Evil cohort Royce Da 5'9″ and Kid Rock all make cameos for the new-old clip, which Eminem previewed last night during one of the most awkward live television appearances ever.
If you weren't embracing the boombox retro style of the single before, Eminem is practically begging you too, now. All it's missing is Mike D and Ad-Rock hugging it out with Billy Squier. With this big love-in of contemporaries and protégés, I say "stroke it" indeed.
Let me start by saying I actually very much like "Wrecking Ball" as a Miley Cyrus single. It's got that "I Knew You Were Trouble" vibe while also allowing a pristine vocal comp to make the former Disney star sound like an honest-to-God grownup. It hints the tabloid trubs from her engagement to Liam Hemsworth, exposing 100 million times more emotions than her dark comedy/summer hit "We Can't Stop."
There are some problems with this video. Allow me to explain.
1. In the Crying While Singing genre, you do not start with the crying. This quickly reminded me of Duncan Sheik's 1990s chart-topping single "Barely Breathing," what with the kissing away of saline tears. These may very well be genuine eye leakage, but it's faking your way to emotional orgasm as a video piece.
2. Sexual intimacy with filthy, dirty, destructive objects... I see what you did there. Metaphors! But it's around the first time Cyrus' naked nethers make contact with a literal wrecking ball that remind me of girls who ride the New York subway in skirts and no undies in summer: basic human sexuality takes a turn for the yeccch. While the sight of anybody naked would unfurl many's flags, this just makes me squirm like a bare back on a mound of rubble. Oh wait.
Peter Gabriel, have you anything to say for the example you've set? This is stupid.
3. This video was likely shot before Cyrus' scattershot MTV VMAs performance, which only continued the crescendo cries of "Hannah Montana All Growed Up." Personally, I didn't have a problem with the racy nature of that televised performance, but I did with her use of black women as her personal line of cred(it).
Here, she is subsisting purely on the carnal, erasing whatever good feelings I had for the song by displacing genuine emotional value with a ball-and-chain stripper pole, an image so desperately mixed, she probably had to go method to justify the inanity.
Dotting the soft porn with emotional lip-syncing does not make up for this, nor does it surprise me, the most shocking element being the volume at which I said "DUH" in learning that Terry Richardson directed this pile.
4. Cyrus' handlers are well aware of Billboard's recent rule additions to the Hot 100 now include YouTube views. Yes, Psy and Baauer benefited from this. So did Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," as did Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," both of which feature naked women.
Don't pretend there aren't at a zillion people on the planet who are Googling the query "Miley Cyrus naked," and guess what will pop up as the top entry? (I mean aside from this blog post. You knew what this was.) See you at the top of the charts?
"Wrecking Ball" is off of Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz," due on Oct. 4.
Nine Inch Nails have had plenty of time and space to regroup. New "Hesitation Marks" is the industrial rockers' first in five years, and first since taking time off from touring in as many moons. It's a fresh lineup and, in the time in-between, Trent Reznor has won and Oscar, launched How To Destroy Angels with his wife and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross and, apparently, made amends with a major labels in time to launch a proper campaign to push a significant and solid radio single.
Call this season the Summer of Soul: the summer of 2013 produced some clear-cut, all-out jams that will be remembered years from now, and several of them have a soulful bent to them.
It's very telling that Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. And Pharrell Williams lived and thrived under the threat of a lawsuit from the Marvin Gaye estate: the throwback vibe of that cowbell and the singer's grooving falsetto rang some, erm, bells. (Thicke, if you'll remember, preemptively sued the Gaye estate to bar the action. So maybe "Blurred Lines" keeps its Grammy chances...)
Daft Punk's return with album "Random Access Memories" was marked by its retro action, and mega-single "Get Lucky" with Pharrell (and chops from Chic's Nile Rodgers) was the essence of the soul behind their robot masks. Avicii's "Wake Me Up" would be nothing without Aloe Blacc's stellar pipes on top of that stomp-clap. Mary Lambert's chorus on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" still sends sparkles up the spine, despite the song having been around for more than a year.
Justin Timberlake... oh, Justin, who is having such a big year with his "20/20 Experience." No songs from that album made our solstice review, but his meandering turn on Jay-Z's "Holy Grail" has a "preach" to it. And just blinking at Bruno Mars' "Treasure," it looks like it was culled straight out of "Soul Train."
Breaking up the old-school boogie were a few of bursts of dance-pop, coincidentally (or not!) from two former child actress. Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" and Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" were both invitations to what promised to be a pair of slightly sleazy parties. Ellie Goulding's melody on Calvin Harris' "I Need Your Love" provided a pristine combo from the EDM sector.
Like the MTV VMAs, rock wasn't repping very hard during the hottest months: tracks like Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" started roaring months beforehand. The closest our top 10 lists got to rockin' out were to country act Florida Georgia Line's ode to ogling "Cruise," Capital Cities' Passion Pit-esque "Safe and Sound" and that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" rip in "Holy Grail." (One Direction's "Best Song Ever" made a stab at the top tier, but aside from excitement from Directioners, limped toward the end of the end of its tenure in our memories.)
Below, HitFixers Melinda Newman, Dave Lewis, Chris Eggertsen and myself explain away our top 10 jams of 2013's Songs of the Summer, and ranked which ones were most representative. What made the songs work? Did we get burned out on them? Will we remember them in 10 years? Who is our No. 1 Song of the Summer?