Jay Electronica has formally signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label over the weekend, ending weeks of speculation. In celebration, two songs have been released: John F. Kennedy-sampling "The Announcement," appropriately, and "Shiny Suit Theory," featuring Jay-Z, The-Dream and Charlotte Gainsbourg (?!).
The latter, posted below, has simple samples and a seriously old-school feel, with sparse raps and Jay-Z's verse boasting of the fire from his youth. Electronica gives some context for his own success: "Me and Puff, we were chilling in Miami / He said, 'N*gga, f*ck the underground, you need to win a Grammy / For your mama and your family." This all bodes well for a Jay Electronica album to come.
Meanwhile, Diddy started pushing his friend Electronica's buttons, Tweeting, "Damn it hurts in a whole other way when someone you felt and I mean really felt was your Friend, Betrays you. It hurts when Breathe." The emo-ness arrived about the same time the announcement was finalized at the Box in New York.
Turns out, the post had nothing to do with Jay-Z or Jay Electronica -- or so Puffy says.
"@JayElectronica I proud of you! I'm happy for you. I love you! I congratulate you' I'm not mad at you! All I wanna do is see you win! All love"
"Before we start the week off with Rumors. I am not mad at Jay Z! I'm not mad at anyone! Jz was not the friend I was referring 2 Be clear."
And then Diddy Tweeted about how he's gonna get married and how "Last Train to Paris" is really going to arrive in December. No, really.
Let that be the last time I pretend to care about who Diddy beefs with.
I don’t blame RCA for trying to put Lee DeWyze’s debut album as soon as possible after the “American Idol” tour and before the new season of the competition. This past year was far from the strongest from an audience standpoint for the hit FOX show. As the 24-year-old was crowned the Season 9 winner, there was a spark of outrage over runner-up Bowersox deserving the top spot, a shrug and a clap for DeWyze, and a tepid reaction from radio when his coronation song and cover of “Beautiful Day” was released. The AI tour had trouble selling out shows this summer and then there was silence.
Getting new material out in time for people remember just who Lee DeWyze is was important. Building his post-AI identity for Sony was important. The success of his first single was important.
Now that “Live It Up” has arrived, I fear it won’t be enough to satisfy the label and I wonder if soft rock was really the way for DeWyze to go. The set’s first single “Sweet Serendipity” is simple and would be perfect for commercial license, but doesn’t pack enough punch to interest the adult rock market outside of “American Idol” fans.
Opening the whole set with a touchy ballad is the biggest gamble that DeWyze and his handlers took, with generic songs about love at a midtempo dominating the whole rest of the set. The Mount Prospect, Ill.-native proudly lets those scratchy, hard edges seep out from his voice, but the aesthetic of it over pretty, guitar- and piano-led songs doesn’t always work.
As much as DeWyze wanted to put his own stamp on “Live It Up” with his numerous co-writes, several songs only seem to remind me of other artists and works. The title track very well could’ve been on John Mayer’s “Room For Squares.” "Beautiful Like You" is one of the album’s biggest triumphs, with a rolling piano line like Coldplay’s “Clocks” giving it a forward motion and some urgency, though still warm and familiar. (It could have been a couple choruses shorter and, unfortunately, it was the one track on the 11-song album that DeWyze didn’t co-pen.) “Weightless” – one of the better written songs on the set – hearkens “I’m No Superman.” He has his own Michael Buble moment in the Empire State-minded “Brooklyn Bridge,” followed by the sappy but sweet Mrazian “Dear Isabelle.”
The set’s producers and writers – which included lady-friendly Toby Gad, pop generalist John Shanks and team Espionage (Train) – threw every kind of cute into the set to tame DeWyze’s husky moan, from ukulele to hand claps to Oasis harmonies to dramatic strings culled straight from Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes.” What they forgot to do is leave enough of DeWyze’s personality in there. Something a little dark wouldn’t hurt and all the charm that captured the imaginations of his "AI" voters seems erased by the attempt to make a Hit.
And maybe that was the point. Sales for full albums from AI singers have slipped in recent years, which means RCA could just be interested in throwing out a menu of adult top 40 songs that could stick. In that case, “Weightless,” the title track and “Beautiful Like You” could do the trick. But as a sample of DeWyze’s talents, “Live It Up” is sadly single-note. Maybe he could've used some extra time after the summer after all.
Brother Liam and Noel Gallagher very publicly broke up their band Oasis last year, and now we've finally arrived at the rebound part of the relationship.
Liam's new project Beady Eye, to be more exact, took custody of his ex's friends for a new song, "Bring the Light," available as a free download. Gem Archer, Chris Sharrock and Andy Bell are all on board for the piano-led rocker, which takes on a '50s vibe with some lady-backers and the typical late-'90s British garage rock from Gallagher that made Oasis so famous.
"Baby come on," Gallagher vamps at the end, perhaps urging Oasis fans to join him on the next leg of this journey?
Apparently, not all fans are so enthusiastic about the take, which managed to piss off manager Alan McGee something awful. "I was on the internet this morning, everybody's judging the band on one tune,” he told NME. “How can you do that? Let’s hear the album. It’s a f*cking free download. It’s too early to f*cking say.
Hate to bear bad news, but isn't that how it's done? Anyway, if it's that important to you, let's -- let's hear the whole album.
I personally dig the tune, though nothing new is cropping up from it. Liam's voice has always been such a presence, and I hope he's inspired by more than just his old tunes to create more. Hopefully he'll make the music he's intended to make rather than crowd-source the tracks based on internet opinions. What the hell does the internet know, anyway?
Beady Eye is prepping a full-length album for 2011, to be helmed by vet Steve Lillywhite.
Nicki Minaj is prepping the Black Friday release of her "Pink Friday" and, with half the songs having leaked or released, it's about time she lift the curtain a little more.
What is confirmed is her many big-named guests: Drake, Kanye West, Rihanna, Eminem, will.i.am and Natasha Bedingfield have all apparently made the cut. Too, there seems to be plenty of pop-oriented jams, and fewer street tracks. Harajuku Barbie seems to have no problem singing the hooks herself, as evidenced by "Right Thru Me," though to hear the majority of the guest spots, we'll have to wait until its closer to the drop date. These slivers of the songs seem to want to showcase the styles of her songs, not give away what Drizzy has to say of his "wife."
Below, I break down some quick thoughts on the clips, but you should give it a gander yourself.
"I'm the Best" - The title make it sound like Drake should be on this one, but instead we have a bumping beat and some epic self-aggrandizing and cultural touchstones (y'know, like Lindsey Lohan).
"Roman's Revenge" featuring Eminem - "I'm a bad bitch, I'm a c*nt"... makes me wonder how Em's gonna trump.
"Did It On 'Em" - Haaaaard.
"Right Thru Me" -- We already previewed.
"Fly"featuring Rihanna -- will it be "Rated R" or "Loud" Ri? I'm thinking the latter, considering the cute keyboard line. Think more dance.
"Save Me" - Minaj is singing here more than she does the other tracks previewed, with a clip of skittering d'n'b tagged on the end of the preview.
"Moment 4 Life"featuring Drake - Minaj will have to battle hard with Drake as to who the real "heavyweight champ" is here
"Check It Out" featuring will.i.am - Which we generally abhor heard. The sample may end up being more popular than her Annie Lennox rip for "Your Love."
"Blazin'" featuring Kanye West - Lightning fast raps and a reverb-drenched beat.
"Here I Am" -- Revving engine? Minor key? A fast, sad car?
"Dear Old Nicki" "Jumping off the ledge..." hope she's not referring to recently re-incarcerated T.I. and his feat of talking down a jumper. Or is she talking to herself? Very ode.
"Your Love" The original mixtape version of this needed a serious shine, which it gets here. Just in case you're not sick of it from this summer.
"Last Chance" featuring Natasha Bedingfield - Hey! We actually get a chorus hook!
Laura Marling's album "I Speak Because I Can" will most certainly reside somehwhere in my top ten for the year. And with her two new covers, her voice alone proves why (more icing than the sweet, sweet cake).
Earlier this week, Jack White's Third Man Records released the 7" "Blue Series" single, which contains a cover of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" and Jackson C Frank's "Blues Run the Game." The White Stripes frontman produced the sparse tracks, which each were apparently done in one take.
You can stream those below.
Marling, 20, and another 2010 favorite Mumford & Sons paired up previously for an EP (aside from the latter serving as the backing band for the former on her record) and Glassnote is finally releasing that four-song set in the U.S. Indian folk group Dharohar Project's tracks intermingled with Marling's "Devil's Spoke" and Mumford's "To Darkness." The set's out Dec. 7.
Another year, another slew of Christmas and holiday-themed albums. This year brings the “gift” of internet sensation Susan Boyle for a second time, while TV stars like “American Idol’s” Katharine McPhee, the cast from “Glee” and featured crooners from “The Sing Off” have their own crop.
Look for unusual takes on classics from ilk like Pink Martini and 11 Acorn Lane, and for Mariah Carey trying to top her own classic material.
Most Adult Contemporary and Adult Album stations that flip to Christmas music start around Thanksgiving: see if you can name songs from these artists as they come on.
“Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album” – Last Christmas, the shiny-faced kids from “Glee” brought us, well, “Last Christmas.” Considering the cast has released some of the best-selling songs this year from its second season, it only makes sense they cash in on some Christmas spirit. That previous song is on there, as is a k.d. lang-enhance “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and takes on classics from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to “god Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Several of these songs will be featured in – you guessed it – the “Glee” Christmas episode, to air on Dec. 5.
Mariah Carey, “Merry Christmas II You” – One of the singing diva’s biggest and most enduring tracks of all time is “All I Want For Christmas,” so we don’t blame her for trying to top it. With a different version of it. There’s a nicer, slower-burning version on here, plus four other originals co-penned by newly preggers Carey. “Oh Santa!” has been pushed as the single, with some traditional carols and cold-weather tunes buttressing it. There’s even a cute Vince Guiraldi “Charlie Brown Christmas” medley thrown in. Think more contemporary R&B than the sizzling Carey of late.
Susan Boyle, “The Gift” – This “Britain’s Got Talent” viral star made it onto airwaves and into stockings with her serene take on “Silent Night” last year. This year, she’s got a whole album devoted to inspirational and holiday tunes. It’s kind of rinky-dink, antiqued takes on the usual classics, with covers of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” thrown on there because why the hell not.
Jackie Evancho, “O Holy Night” -- To call Evancho a soprano is a little bit of a farce; guys, she's ten years old. She came to fame similarly to Boyle’s entry, that is, she was a mini-star on “America’s Got Talent,” back in August (she also released an album last year). “Night” sounds just how the cover looks.
The Priests, “Noel” – Your mom is gonna love this, and I don’t mean that entirely facetiously. The Priests are an opera/classical “crossover” like her pretend boyfriend Josh Groban only, like, three dudes. And their takes on these carols are actually very inspired and easy to listen to, with exception “Little Drummer Boy,” which is hilariously crafted after the Bing Crosby and David Bowie version.
Bryn Terfel, “Bryn’s Christmas” – Wagner, Mozart… “White Christmas.” This classical baritone is used to playing the villain in his operas, but gets tender for the holidays with only a couple tracks in German.
Pink Martini, “Joy to the World” – This is one big “duh” for a Christmas music matchup, as this jazz and pop music mini-big-band does it up classically and campy in eight different languages, with help from J-Pop star Saori Yuki and Ari Shapiro from NPR (?!). And the CD looks like a dang Christmas card, so cute. This reminds me – why hasn’t Nouvelle Vague or Brazilian Girls jumped on the Christmas Choo-choo?
Annie Lennox, “A Christmas Cornucopia” – Like Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox can’t help but to bad-ass up anything she touches, and has done so for decades. Her tenor-alto brings little jagged edges to songs like “Angels We Have Heard on High” and other, streaming on her site. And, hey, just today, Lennox premiered her video for “God Rest Ye Maerry Gentlemen,” which looks like an old-timey moving Christmas card.
Jessica Simpson, “Happy Christmas” – This is Simpson’s second try at a successful Christmas set, with 2004’s “Rejoyce: The Christmas Album” barely ringing any bells with its glitzy takes on holiday favorites. Willie Nelson shows up to help out on “Merry Christmas Baby,” the Simpson camp trying to further the impression she’s a country artist. Even if you don’t get the record, she’ll be unavoidable at this year’s televised Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony on NBC and at Macy’s stores everywhere.
“The Sing Off: Harmonies for the Holidays” – The second season of this NBC singing competition show starts in the first week of December, and thus comes with it a full set of all 10 competing groups taking on, y’know, harmonies. Get it? Thks for the mmrs, Straight No Chaser.
11 Acorn Lane, “Happy Holy Days” – There’s a lot of instruments on here. And a lot of styles. It’s very modern, and kind of a mess. But it’s a good change of pace if you’re tired of Bing, Manheim Steamroller and the rest.
Wilson Phillips, “Christmas in Harmony” – In some ways, this is just as much a kids’ Christmas Album. Very straightforward, upbeat, high-register, Christmas-lovin’ smiley-ness. Opening track “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” could sell some Walmart crap or some Radioshack stuff.
Train, “Shake Up Christmas” [Single] – Speaking of selling of stuff, this will be touting Coca-cola all season long.
Katharine McPhee, “Christmas Is the Time… (To Say I Love You)” – Thank you, Katharine McPhee for keeping it classy. This collection is mostly piano-led, with only a few modern flourishes on tracks like the title song and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.”
Indigo Girls, “Holly Happy Days” - Amy Ray and Emily Saliers gracefully include a Hanukkah song and three originals in this 12-song recording, which is signature Indigo Girls top to finish. Another set that could have used “Harmony” in the title.
“Now That’s What I Call Christmas 4” – The mix of the usual pop artists (Britney, Rihanna, Lady Gaga) with the old classics (Frank, Bing, Elvis). Some new, mostly old, only if you’ve run out of your own ideas for a mix.
Lady Antebellum, “A Merry Little Christmas” [EP] – This year’s hottest country group put out this six-song set out exclusively via Target, and included one original “On This Winter’s Night” in the group. And wouldn’t you know? “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is on there too.
Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Sorry, “Glee,” Take 6 has been doing the vocal group thing for way longer. And “The Sing Off” better watch its tail. This Christian group gets creative, though it may be more cerebral than celebratory.
Celtic Thunder, “Celtic Thunder Christmas” – Yet another TV-bolstered, jazz-inflected vocal group, though this Irish group tackles more secular Christmas tunes than sacred. And, yes, they added a chick for “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
Aliqua, “All I Want” – Aaaaand this one’s all-female. This is far more choral-based than Glee club, but expect smooth takes with orchestral backings.
The Irreconcilables, “Merry Ex-Mas: Holiday Songs for the Divorced and Soon to Be” – “Frosty My Ex-Wife,” “Santa Claus Is Foolin’ Around,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas (My True Love Took From Me).” Sounds just how you think something like this would sound.
Loretta Lynn gets made over by Reba. Reba sings Beyonce. Kanye helping out on Thirty Seconds to Mars. Kid Cudi releases sophomore set on Kanye's imprint.
There's a lot of crossover in the new music releases for the week of Nov. 9, including a pair of high-profile compilations: the next installment of the "NOW" hits compilation series and a stellar tribute to Loretta Lynn. Cee Lo is a "Killer"Â while GWAR promises a "Bloody Pit" and Twista threatens a "Storm." How aggro!
Check out the major new albums hitting the shelves this week:
Susan Boyle, â€œThe Giftâ€ (Syco Music/Sony) â€“ The Scottish internet sensation is back and while her first effort last year brought "Silent Night" as its yultide greeting, this sophomore set is chock full of Christmas classics. And remember that debacle with Lou Reed and SuBo's cover of "Perfect Day?" The Velvet Underground legend has gone out of his way to make it up to her, by directing the video for the cover, released this week. HowÂ punk rock.
Cee Lo Green, â€œThe Lady Killerâ€ (Elektra/Atlantic) â€“ Not every song on the set sounds like viral hit "F*ck You," but the soul's all the same. The Gnarls Barkley/Goodie Mob member mixes Motown with '70s soul, hip-hop and dance for this soul set. Read our interview with Cee Lo here.
GWAR, â€œBloody Pit of Horrorâ€ (Metal Blade) â€“ It's hard to believeÂ this vet metal group is from Virginia, and not an actual bloody pit of horror, with this newest effort as a reminder. Get ready for zombies, genocide, t*ts and many slain fans.
Hellogoodbye, â€œWould It Kill You?â€ (Wasted Summer/Rocket Science) â€“ Want starter cash for your album? Fund it yourself. That's what Rocket Science founder Kevin Day did with his dancey-rock band for this sophomore album. "When We First Met"Â is the single currently in rotation from that album; the group may even get an extra charge from touring with 3Oh!3 all this month.
Jamiroquai, â€œRock Dust Light Starâ€ (Mercury) --Â Sorry, America: This album is import-only at this point, but funky "White Knuckle Ride" and forthcoming single "Blue Sky" is enough to throw-down extra for air mail. Jay Kay co-produced the set with Charlie Russell and Brad Spence.
Dave Matthews Band, â€œLive in New York Cityâ€ (RCA) â€“ DMB is taking 2011 off in terms of touring, so it seems only right that they treat fans with yet another double-disc concert set.
Reba McEntire, â€œAll the Women I Amâ€ (Valory Music Group) â€“ Country star Reba plays many roles in her life -- mother, wife, business woman, writer, singer -- so she crafted a whole album around the many "women" she must be. Its led by â€œTurn on the Radioâ€ and includes her version of Beyonce's â€œIf I Were a Boy,â€ performed earlier this year unplugged on CMT.
Aaron Neville, â€œI Know Iâ€™ve Been Changedâ€ (EMI Gospel) â€“ Same Neville you know, with the added bonus from producer and very-cool-man Joe Henry.
Twista, â€œThe Perfect Stormâ€ (Get Money Gang Entertainment) -- Twista. Storm. I see what you did there. The lightning-fast Chicago rapper gets a little help from his friends like Chris Brown, Raekwon, T-Pain and Waka Flocka Flame. Rumor had it he was shopping it to G.O.O.D. too. Maybe next time.
Underoath, â€œ"Ã˜ (Disambiguation)" (Solid State/Tooth & Nail) â€“ Christian metalcore may sound a bit obscure, but remember that this troupe nearly took No. 1 on The Billboard 200 before ("Define the Great Line" made it to No. 2 in 2008). Expect Reba and Boyle to get a run for her money to the top next week.
Various, â€œNOW Thatâ€™s What I Call Music! 36â€ (Capitol) â€“ At this point, there's no escaping these hits compilations, and with artists on the tracklist like Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Maroon 5, Chris Brown, Sugarland and other chart-toppers, expect to see "Now 36" in a Christmas stocking and sale aisle near you this holiday season.
Thirty Seconds to Mars, â€œThis Is War: Deluxe Editionâ€ (Virgin) â€“ This previously released album gets a makeover with a DVD of music videos and the CD with three bonus tracks, including a Kanye West collab on â€œHurricane.â€
Media and character assassination weren't unusual topics for the late pop star, who made his frustrations known in hits like "Scream" and "Leave Me Alone." But the newly released song -- now streaming for the week on michaeljackson.com -- seems to be going a step further down the victim path. The King of Pop refers to himself in the third person, claiming that everyone wants "a piece of Michael Jackson," as it bops along to a New Jack Swing beat. Michael Jackson sounds as obsessed with Michael Jackson as everyone else.
The term "breaking" in "Breaking News" has him put in a vulnerable state, of his psyche and tolerance becoming broken down. But it's more the song itself that's broken.
The lyrics leave the listener a little dry, like weak punches at a straw man, as synthetic horns and strings sections artificially amp up the melody. It's chicken and egg with what could be a Justin Timberlake track from the early 2000s, though according to Sony/Epic, the song was recorded around 2007. The vocals -- especially during the verses -- sound like a badly compressed mp3 rip from a large file, the notes all watery and overly tinkered-with. The chorus is catchy but ultimately empty, given that the songs has two dynamics: play at 10, and stop. A couple nostalgic "whooos" are thrown in for good measure, like a stamp of approval, although something tells me that Jackson would have never given it the nod.
His family feels the same way. Jackson's father Joe's attorneys have released a statement indicated that the estate doesn't feel the song is a completed work and that its release would have gone against the singer's wishes were he still alive. Mom Katherine is reportedly outraged. Fans are claiming online that the vocals don't sound like Jackson's at all. Some feel that there shouldn't be the new album -- "Michael," out Dec. 14 -- at all.
However, Epic says the label has "complete confidence in the results of our extensive research, as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael, that the vocals on the new album are his own."
That all being said, if the Jackson family didn't think posthumous releases would demean his legendary body of work, then they should have either known fully what tracks they were sitting on or not entered into the $200 deal with Sony at all. "This Is It" feature the same incomplete state of Jackson's abilities, where were the complaints then? "Confidence" seems to be a farce at this point.
Anna Kendrick has skills. I mean, beyond acting skills. She has the pow-power of sending cosmic energy into mens' minds and capturing their souls in a different dimension, with the help of her thuggy friends.
Wait, what was that? Nonsense? Yeah
Just watch the video for LCD Soundsystem's "Pow Pow," which means those in debt to the beautiful "Up in the Air" actress suffer ridiculous special effects. It's a strange contrast to the party nature of the track, culled from James Murphy and Co.'s latest "This Is Happening."
As previously reported, the mysterious clip was directed by action writer David Ayers ("Training Day") as part of the new venture between Mean Magazine and MTV.
It may have fewer homicidal pandas in it, compared to "Drunk Girls," but it has its own charms.
As Lil Wayne finally makes his way out of Rikers, T.I. heads back to the clink this week, and has a few announcements on his way in.
The rapper and producer returns to prison after violating his probation earlier this year and thus is no longer "Uncaged," the title he previously gave his forthcoming new album. The set has been re-dubbed "No Mercy" and now will officially be released on Dec. 7, as he serves out his 11-months in California.
As his note of departure, T.I. has unleashed a new track and video, for "Get Back Up" featuring Chris Brown.
It's less a matter of supporting or opposing when I say this, but more a matter of taste: it's just wrong to have Chris Brown singing the lines "When they push you down you got to get back up." It's not cute or ironic, coming from the lips of a convicted felon who beat up his girlfriend. But the tone of the track has Brown casting Brown as a victim. And hell, same with T.I.
T.I. and Brown call for no "judgement" -- of their crimes, especially after they've asked forgiveness from fans and media -- but as consumers of pop music, we can judge their reactions within their artistic work . Thus, "Get Back Up," as a pop tune is only sort of catchy but weighed down by the hopeful message mixed in with a defensive one and, given the context of these performers' perspectives, comes off as cheap and reactive. Chris Brown's voice still sounds tops, but T.I.'s rhymes are clearly curbed.
No matter. He's had a slew of hot records that came out all summer, including my favorite "Ya Hear Me." From his interviews, it sounds like T.I. is willing and prepared to weather another few months in prison, even if this album release suffers for it. There's no delaying that which wants to be uncaged.