Robert Pattinson, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, others to have some camera face-time
The MTV VMAs have always promised drama and Moonmen, and 2012 will be no exception. Rihanna's performing, but where will Drake and Chris Brown be? Taylor Swift is hitting the stage too. And have you seen Miley's hair?
Follow the bouncing ball through the year's best (or most popular) videos and pop artists with me. I hope you brought a sixer.
The MTV Video Music Awards are broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
6:58: Taylor Swift pantsuit. That is all.
7:02: Rihanna opens the show with shades, all-red floor-length number, and what look like Crocs. Of course she's starting it with "Cockiness" because that's the current singl... wait. A$AP Rocky tapped for the remix. On sale now!
7:05: She's actually encouraging that "OOaoooah-oooahhha" sound that college kids make at the bar when they're wasted during "We Found Love." Calvin Harris is laughing all the way to the bank.
7:07: Host Kevin Hart's "security force" is a staff of little people. Because little people are funny.
7:09: "I'm gonna nip this in the bud tonight," Hart addresses Chris Brown and Drake. "...you're arguing over a thrown bottle in a club. Drake is from Canada. Drake loves to recycle..." You see where this is going.
7:10: And now Frank Ocean's turn. "For that I commend you," Hart extols the R&B singer for coming out of the closet. Pan to Andy Samberg for some reason.
7:12: Mention of Kristen Stewart draw screaming from the girls and a string of curses from Hart because if there's something teenaged girls like more than "Twilight," it's foul language.
7:13: Katy Perry presenting "Best Pop Video." Probably wishes it was Katy Perry. In fan-voted contest that involves One Direction and Justin Bieber, there may just be a black hole of popular music that opens up and swallows us whole.
7:14: One Direction wins Best Pop Video for "What Makes You Beautiful"
7:15: Katy Perry literally breaks part of the Moonman award over the heads of one of these pretty dudes.
7:18: Previously filmed segment with Hart and 2 Chainz. The rapper is yet again the featured artist. Get it?
7:24: New Laker Dwight Howard: Taller Than Kevin Hart
7:26: Miley Cyrus' hair is talking. Mac Miller confusing lots of teenaged people.
7:27: Chris Brown is totally gonna cop Pink's 'do, just like Amber Rose was watching Beyonce's baby bump days last year. "Blow Me" is still not a strong enough single for Pink and the dancing lips are evidence.
7:30: My new band name will be Unneeded Trapeze.
7:31: Rita Ora looks like the superhero alter-ego of Demi Lovato
7:32: Oh great, Chris Brown won something. Takes home Best Male Video. That's. Great.
7:38: Zoe Saldana presenting in a bathmat. Perfect makeup, introduces Frank Ocean amid flaming flames. No, really.
7:39: Frank Ocean rocking the "nervous" look. Falsetto faltering but I'm finding it endearing. Backdrop looks like a beachfront bonfire. Kind of in love with the rocks, which look like unmelting glaciers.
7:42: Falsetto somewhat abandoned. But I was thinking 'bout forever. Great presentation of this song.
7:51: Samberg and Rashida Jones from "Celeste and Jesse Forever" present. As much awkward and funny energy as the movie itself. For some reason they're presenting Best Hip-Hop Video presentation.
7:53: Breaking: Drake is black and Jewish
7:54: The whole Young Money gang hits the stage to help Drake with his win for Best Hip-Hop video. The Toronto almost breaks into a story about going to a party and getting made fun of, stops it there, and then dedicates his MTV award to "any kid that's ever had a long walk ohm by yourself." Inexplicably ends the speech with "bitch." And Lill Wayne flashing dem titties.
7:58: One Direction, a popular pop music group beloved by teenaged girls, takes the stage. The stage props are screaming teenaged girls. They are popular. "One Thing" is understandably popular.
8:02: To make sure the viewers get their fill of boy bands, The Wanted present... but don't perform. Favoritism, I call shenanigans. Rebel Wilson is actually more entertaining to look at than these clowns.
8:05: Speaking of clowns, Nicki Minaj wins for Best Female Video ("Starship"), the Song That Samples Twinkle Twinkly Little Star. She speaks normally for 30 seconds, then devolves into an 8-year-old child and peaces out in a trail of her own sequin echoes. It's poetry.
8:12: Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz get the twos up, for rhyming "cameltoe" with "casserole." Love Chainz' flash, and he's had the best sound of anyone all night. "Yuck" is tight.
8:15: Lil Wayne tries to skateboard to the stage, reminding everyone that they don't care about his skateboarding "career." I do care greatly, however, for those crazy pants. Rihanna whooping in her chair, with nuance.
8:17: Killed it, and they know it. 2 Chainz and Weezy have the best performance of the night so far.
8:25: "Gangnam Style," YES, all I needed was the dance and it's like I have new skin.
8:26: Watching Rihanna and Katy Perry whisper to each other make me 1) eager for a duet 2) anxious that they're talking about my prom dress
8:27: "Let Yourself Go" the studio version was posted by Green Day today. And they're performing it now. Thanks internet! It is a significantly better and more fun single than "Oh Love." Crowd surges onto the stage. Billie Joe Armstrong is clearly feeling better, until he catches a communicable disease from one of these fans.
8:31: I just bum-rushed the stage too but just ended up scaring my cats.
8:34: "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" presentation is happening! And there's NO Kristen Stewart! REPEAT, NO KRISTEN STEWART.
8:35: Trailer for "Twilight": "I won't ever let anybody hurt you," says Stewart. You hurt America.
8:37: Ke$ha and Wiz Khalifa presenting Best New Artist, everybody pretending it's not going to One Direction. Ke$ha says all her lines like she's just learning English with an American Accent.
8:38: One Direction earns Best New Artists. Give the mic to Harry.
8:39: Microphone given to Harry
8:44: Women's gymnastics team. U-S-A. Introducing another strong woman, Alicia Keys, with "Girl on Fire," which hopefully will fare better than "New Day."
8:45: Oof. Long notes and slipping in-ear monitors are a nasty pair. But Keys is looking ferocious as Swizz Beats hoists their love-child onto his shoulders.
8:48: Nicki Minaj gets a verse, an Gabby Douglas does a short floor routine to "Girl On Fire." This performance is like the Lunchables (TM) of raucous ladies.
8:52: Remember when Justin Timberlake appeared during the VMAs for the music he made? #troublewiththecurve
8:54: "Pubes on her shirt." I'm glad somebody said the phrase tonight.
8:56: Video Of The Year: the winner is Rihanna for "We Found Love." Rihanna does an end zone dance. Kevin Hart screams like a little girl.
8:57: Drama-free speech. Well said, we're all feeling good.
8:58: Taylor Swift is killing me with the sailor top, black shorts, Wave-Runners and red loafers. Microphone's red. Her album's called "Red." I'm drowning in cute. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is just over the top adorable.
9:02: Look, the talent show is ending on time, with Swift stage-diving just like Lil Wayne. Pop is dead, long live pop.
'It's hard to sing while you're puking.'
Only a couple of days since frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was hospitalized, Green Day are apparently ready to take the stage during MTV VMAs tonight, and have released another new "¡Uno!" track in the meantime.
"Let Yourself Go" was previewed during the punk-pop band's recent surprise stop at Austin's tiny Red 7, and released as a live performance back at the beginning of August. Now there's the official studio version release, ahead of the Sept. 25 drop of the first in the Green Day trilogy (you can still guess what the other two are named). It's back to the melodic, snotty sound of early Green Day, with some spit shine and a few f-bombs.
Fans may just hear it -- or, more likely, less curse-worthy single "Oh Love" -- at the Video Music Awards. Mike Dirnt told MTV just what was plaguing Armstrong over last weekend that caused him to hit the hospital: the flu.
"Billie came down with heavy, heavy dehydration; it was like severe dehydration, influenza, and it was just a really, really bad situation," Dirnt said. "Let's put it this way, if you're in your hotel room and you're vomiting profusely, it's not fun. So what are you gonna do? It's hard to sing while you're puking."
Transition from basement records to patio pop complete
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating A+
Gone are the days of Cat Power's personal anxieties and “small” records. Chan Marshall has moved on from those with exuberant “The Greatest” as the nail in that particular coffin, and now with “Sun,” she waxes on larger-scale woes over skittering beats, weighty electronic arrangements that make it obvious this album is beloved in its songwriter’s eyes.
Opener “Cherokee” is the biggest and best indicator of this inside-out reflection, banging out whopper lyrics like “[I] never knew pain like this, when everything dies” but then maturing into musings on the American education system through a veil of pop-trip-hop (remember trip-hop?). Standout “Manhattan” tip-toes on the same three notes as Marshall remembers her earliest troubadour days, when she played decimated cafes, lived in sh*tboxes and the New York political atmosphere was not yet pock-marked by neo-patriotism, but by classicism and the struggle for “authenticity.”
And that’s been one of Marshall’s strength, all along, is that originality and realism, to have her foggy voice transition between bedroom bastard music to boppy, aggressive patio pop. Even on tracks like boozy “3, 6, 9” – which irritatingly repeats the same refrain 10+ times to little philosophical effect – Marshall’s narrative is still captivating enough to bear with.
Also: Biebs' manager Scooter Braun signs the 'Gangnam Style' guy
The prince of every pre-teen girls' dreams combines with the pop princess of summer jams: Justin Bieber's Schoolboy Records signee Carly Rae Jepsen will have her label boss on "Beautiful," a new Jason Mraz-style jam from her next solo effort "Kiss."
A minute-and-a-half snippet of "Beautiful has been "leaked" to varying degrees ahead of "Kiss'" Sept. 18 drop date, and it features shared vocals from the pop stars.
Biebs, in the track, extols the virtues of friendship and modesty: that his beauty is beautiful because "you don't know how beautiful you are."
Considering the girth of El Bieberino's fame, don't pass this buy as a top 40 radio single contender. The full-length song will likely drop in the coming days.
The title was laid bare as Jepsen Tweeted the "track list" for her album, which resembles the word-art doodlings of a freshman in Algebra II class. Jepsen is 26 years old.
Anyway, Bieber's own "Believe" is still in in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and Jepsen's hit "Call Me Maybe" is still in the top 5 of the Hot 100. Both are in heavy rotation and out to help the climb.
Speaking of climb, as the video to "Gangnam Style" by South Korean artist Psy leaps past the 100 million view mark on YouTube, Bieber's manager Scooter Braun has decided nothing good and pure and perfect can last and has actually signed the rapper/vocalist for an American deal. I insinuate "ruin" because it's less fun when a crazy conflagration like that LMFAO-loving song and viral video have the Bieber name attached to it. If Schoolboy, Interscope and their ilk try to recreate the organic, crowd-built success of YouTube hits like "Gangnam," it's going carry a phony air. That horse trot is jumping the shark.
Anyway, here it is for 102 millionth time, for those who haven't checked it. My favorite part is when he's screaming over the yoga girl's ass.
Martin de Thurah strikes again
Martin de Thurah's work with Feist already had me boo-hooing (and singing praises), and now he has me scratching my head.
The Danish director tackled St. Vincent and David Byrne's first collaborative single "Who," which has the legendary Talking Heads frontman showing his latest compadre how to bust a move in the streets.
After he hits her with his car.
Or was she already in the road?
The "fault" lies with the listener, who toils with the song's question "Who is this man?" as Byrne shimmies in his jacket and Annie Clark makes for a beautiful victim/victimizer.
"Who" is off of Byrne and St. Vincent's collaborative full-length album "Love This Giant," which promises many of the little angles and big instrumentation as this song. It's out on Sept. 11.
Concert clip was filmed at Nashville's Springwater Supper Club
- Critic's Rating A-
- Readers' Rating A
The Black Keys are popular enough to headline arenas now, but core members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney know that their crunchy blues rock is best appreciated in a too-hot, too-crowded dive bar.
The duo's latest video, for the single "Little Black Submarines," attempts to capture that sort of live rawness.
Nashville's tiny Springwater Supper Club is the setting for the blistering song, with a few dozen onlookers witnessing the performance by one of the best live acts in the current rock landscape.
Watch the video here:
Originally slated to be a video combining live footage with a narrative, the Keys instead opted for a simple, straightforward performance video. For the live portion, a small number of local fans were allowed into the tiny bar, and the scheduled performance of one song eventually grew into an impromptu complete set.
"We all just sort of kind of mutually agreed that it should probably just be the performance and not any of the other extra stuff," Auerbach told told Rolling Stone. “Luckily we had live footage so we turned it into a live video. We just sort of said 'You know, it was fun kind of performing here at a small club with the fans. Why don't we just have it be that?'"
It also gives some screen time to the Black Keys' expanded live lineup.
What do you think of the video? Grade it at the top of the story.
How does it compare to 'Settle Down?'
I'll admit it. I couldn't listen to the entirety of "Settle Down," No Doubt's first new single from their comeback album "Push and Shove." I endured it pieces, sort of like I would one of those "Underworld" movies: bits at a time, then relax and check out something that doesn't feel like an assault on the senses.
The title track from No Doubt's album arrived today via Ryan Seacrest's show, and hits much closer to the hit mark. Despite a Jamaican rap that seemed forced into the mix, it's got the patented Gwen Stefani whine-sing that excited fans in the first place. The chorus is gummy and it's well-produced on the whole with Diplo behind the decks. Feeling the cool Shakira-bop beat to carry it.
On the other hand, No Doubt member Tony Kanal called "Push and Shove" their "Bohemian Rhapsody." That statement makes no sense and should be stricken from history.
"Push and Shove" the album is due on Sept. 25.
Singer puts on her dance pants
Calvin Harris has a bevy of guest vocalists lined up for his next full-length effort and singles, and Florence Welch is among them.
The Florence + The Machine singer has teamed back up with the dance producer for a new banger, "Sweet Nothing." The track premiered today on BBC's Radio 1 -- hence the radio rip. "I'm living on such sweet nothing," she explains in a big, descending, '90s style refrain, repeated as the fours hit the floor.
Welch's huge voice has met its beat match, and though she doesn't have that traditional diva vibe when it comes to the groove, it is extremely catchy. Love, meet desparation.
Harris and Welch previously worked together on a remix of "Spectrum," which certain
Rapper's directorial debut has an all-star tracklist plus Russell Crowe
Anybody who knows the Wu-Tang Clan knows the connections with kung fu and martial arts films. RZA has taken his love of the artform to the next level and is directing and starring in his fighting movie, "The Man With The Iron Fists," co-written by Eli Roth, as a Quentin Tarantino presentation.
And with a guy who has that has so many music world connections, one would expect a spectacular backing soundtrack. And it looks like RZA's delivering. Not only is collaborating with the Black Keys on a new track "The Baddest Man Alive," but he's looped in fresh tracks from other artists like Kanye West, Wu-Tang and Wu-Tang cohorts like Ghostface Killah, rap steady Talib Kweli, soul troupe the Revelations with Tre Williams and more.
West has been busy with his own label's September release, G.O.O.D. Music's "Cruel Summer," but had time to pump out something called "White Dress." Another G.O.O.D.-y Pusha T combines with Raekwon to cook "Tick Tock, and Method Man, Freddie Gibbs & StreetLife released their funky contribution "Built For This" over the weekend. Check that out below: it contains stills and concept art for the film to whet your whistle.
Kids explain, comedy-music duo articulates in song
Take that, "Heal the World."
Flight of the Conchords have been off the radar for some time, after splitting after their second seasons and albums dropped in the U.S. and then quietly reuniting this year for tours in Australia and their native New Zealand. But now Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement have finally dropped some new music on an international scale, for a good cause. The formerly fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo from New Zealand wrote and released a track "Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That)" as a charity single for Cure Kids, as part of a comedy event.
In a video that clocks over eight minutes, the Conchords interview various children on what it is to be sick, and how to raise (or steal from robbers) money. They took excepts of those conversations and turned them into song, bringing in NZ friends like Dave Dobbyn, Brooke Fraser, Boh Runga and Sam Scott to sing some bars. The thing predictably but delightfully devolves into child-like vernacular and terrifying rhyming schemes, with an a capella break-down at the end, a rap verse and plenty of McKenzie and Clement emoting.
The song was performed live on TV in that country over the weekend, helping to garner $1.3 million to benefit medical research for illnesses that harm children in New Zealand. The "Feel Inside" single can also be bought, with proceeds going to Cure Kids.
Bret McKenzie was busy last year working on and promoting his score for "The Muppets." Flight of the Conchords have also said their own movie is in the works.