About a third of CeeLo Green's 14-track Christmas album is pretty solid. This includes consideration that CeeLo's overall approach to singing tends toward the heavy-handed, an attribute absolutely compatible with Christmas records. But the most unnatural elements -- the forced styles outside his comfort zone, clunky duets, uninspired excesses -- are what ultimately causes "CeeLo's Magic Moment" to stumblebum around the season with only a few perfectly packaged gifts.
Green positively delights over the three-song stretch of tracks 3 to 5, with "This Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas," all the Motown sheen over top Green's smiling consonants and midtempo bops. The mood on either side there is ruined, first, by his duel with powerhouse (and "The Voice" cohort) Christina Aguilera on "Baby, It's Cold Outside," a tune that turned out less conversational than it is two horny people yelling at each other ("YOU'VE REALLY BEEN NICE!..." "I'M THRILLED WHEN YOU TOUCH MY HAIR!"). Green's standing endorsement from the Muppets rallies on hot mess "All I Need Is Love," as it relies whole-cloth on "Mahna Mahna" with sprinkles of the word "Santa," the chosen ad lib over "baby."
"Magic Moment" is inflicted with Atlantic labelmates Straight No Chaser on three tracks, especially on novelty "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," as it's apparent the a capella crew's 15 minutes has extended into four years. Rod Stewart shows up on R&B classic "Merry Christmas Baby" to easy-listening effect, but it and the plain cover of Joni Mitchell's tender "River" lacks the color and heart that gospel choir-backed tracks like "Mary Did You Know." "All I Want for Christmas" and "Silent Night" dynamically are written in two different ways, but ultimately burst with the same bombast and artless backing from the same arranger's desk.
Select songs from "Magic Moment" would make such a highly successful EP in many ways, but like most EPs, it wouldn't sell the way a full-length set would, so Green bears what he can here with his wonderful voice. But ain't it just like Christmas, to over-extend?
As evident on the original release of "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," Nicki Minaj can't help but to oscillate between trash-talking raps and pure, saccharine pop music for her singles, her sides and, apparently, her personalities. For the upcoming "Re-Up" of "Roman," the bonus tracks have been taking turns batting, starting with heady and bratty "The Boys" featuring Cassie, and now with this new cavity "Va Va Voom."
Of course, Minaj can't help but to play the villain sometime in this fairytale-driven narrative, but for the most part is the Queens-bred artist mugging in a variety of false lashes, with her penchant bright colors swimming all around her. I literally laughed out loud when when a dastardly Robin Hood darkens her doorway as she bakes sweets in a cottage (not making this up) and as she idles alongside a unicorn in a creek (still not making this up).
M83's video for "Steve McQueen" deals with a lot of the same themes the lyrics to the song do: there's something hopeful and mysterious springing forth from us, at times, when the secret unlocking of our greatest desires feel, for once, within reach.
The clip thusly features a kid, a wrangler of magic around some unknown plot involving his toy animals and an unorthodox use of the garden sprinkler. It's colorful and unknowable, with animations from Spike Jonze collabo Sylvain Derosne, under the direction of Derosne and Balthazar Auxietre.
It came about as part of a video contest (in partnership with Genero.tv), with the directors describing their depiction of the “power of childhood, an eagerness for life, and the kind of paradoxical energy you have when you grow up.”
I'm confused by it, but I like it.
"Steve McQueen" is the next single from M83's "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" from last year. It will be out with multiple remixes starting on Nov. 27. M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez is also releasing a 12" for Record Store Day's Black Friday edition, with four remixes of that track, on Nov. 23.
The band fun.'s "Carry On" always sounded like a drinking, transitional song from a musical. In their music video for the track, the band took the cue.
The three-piece pop-rockers take to the New York city twilight and to its pubs for shots and grinning shenanigans for the track, which is the third single from "Some Nights" (after solar eclipse "We Are Young" and the title track). The musical vibe is only helped by Nate Ruess' incessant suspender urges and everybody's textbook definition of "boyish charm." Where's the conflict for the second act?
The clip arrives in time for fun.'s tour dates announcement. The headlining stint starts Jan. 23 and runs through Feb. 16 and is a continuation of the group's fall/winter trek, many dates to which are already sold out. Tickets for the new shows -- excluding big 'uns like Radio City Music Hall -- go on sale on Oct. 26.
Local Natives will soon be at a locality near you. The band has completed a new effort, titled "Hummingbird," out on Jan. 29, and have dropped new song "Breakers" in celebration. It's a little like Fleet Foxes raiding all of Dirty Projectors guitar processors, which is not at all a bad thing.
"Hummingbird" was recorded in Los Angeles, Montreal and Brooklyn. In the case of the latter, the quartet hit up The National's Aaron Dessner to produce, out of his Ditmas Park, Brooklyn studio. And of the former, the band actually outfitted their own new recording space in Silverlake.
Only a few days away from the soundtrack release to his film “The Man With the Iron Fists,” RZA admits that -- for the most part -- he got what he wanted, even if the film itself took about seven years to come to fruition.
The tracklisting to "Iron Fists" includes contributions from Kanye West, the Black Keys and RZA’s original family, the Wu-Tang Clan with standouts from Ghostface Killah and Method Man. And like just like in his film, RZA’s all over it.
When it came to picking and choosing artists for the soundtrack, “I got who I wanted on there,” he told me in a recent interview. RZA said West made himself available early on, and he asked the Black Keys to conjure something they originally cooked up together during the making of collaborations experiment “Blakroc.” Corinne Bailey Rae is “one of my favorite singers and she got a chance to see [the film] at 70% done. She and her sister said they loved it as women, and when she let me know that women would love it as well, I thought ‘This is great.’”
"I wanted give the viewer an opportunity to experience something different to the normal images of lovers in video clips."
That's music video director Jessie Hill on her clip for Julia Stone's "Justine." In it, two, lovers flounce around the beaches of California, eating snacks, snipping drinks and kissing on the boardwalk. What makes the view into this love story somewhat unconventional is the contrast between the singer-songwriter and her beloved -- played by "The Blind Side" lead Quinton Aaron.
”I set out to make a video that depicted a heartfelt romance in a distant time...a love story in its purist state," Hill said in a statement to HitFix. "My casting agent suggested Quinton and I immediately contacted him to have a coffee. The contrast of Julia being so tiny and Quinton being a larger character was something I wanted to explore visually."
We are becoming our computers. Our information becomes us. And nature will destroy us in retort.
That's what I'll take away from the partially animated music video to Boys Noize's "Ich R U," which I've now watched no fewer than 13 times. It's culled from the electronica act's third album "Out of the Black," which was released on Tuesday (Oct. 16).
The track is the more "put-together" of theirs, but that doesn't mean its not reflective of the whole set. It bangs and bruises with the rest.
Nicki Minaj has never looked better in a video than she does in "The Boys." Cassie, who is stunning, bares most of her, ehm, assets for the clip. The girls strut besides and inside of cars, immobile for the sake of the traditional girls-with-cars trope in hip-hop videos.
The "The Boys" of hip-hop, much of Minaj's new video will ring familiar, albeit in furious colors of magenta, aggressive greens, volcanic reds and the rapper's favorite color pink -- conveniently coordinated with their bikinis. Barbie and her hook-singing guest literally stop traffic with their look, and where else would they be headed but the salon? The leading ladies also flirt with each other throughout, Minaj even simulating going down on her comely friend.
On its face (pun intended), "The Boys" pretty much follows all the rules for a proper male gaze. Except for the part where Minaj sets a barber shop on fire, killing its inhabitants.
If you don't listen closely to the lyrics (which is somewhat impossible to do, considering the crystal-clearness of that refrain), this track takes solid aim at the boys of hip-hop, how they expect their "love" to be hand-delivered as a commodity: "They want to touch it, taste it, see it, pet it, bone it, own it." Here, Cassie and Minaj even put a bow on it.
Minaj's "revenge" to that notion is carried out in her sentencing, letting loose of her flame-thrower. She and its creators also try to mix up the genders, by putting Cassie in a suit without a shirt on underneath, for instance, or Nicki rocking denim in a princess-styled two-piece. Minaj's attack on the barber shop actually seems methodical, pre-planned, less as an actual violent act and more of a warning, that if this is how "the boys" carry on, they're gonna get burned.
Unfortunately, though, the glossiness of this package will override any social commentary it actually brings to the table. As is evident already through Minaj's Twitter response and retweets, fans are arriving on the other side, naturally, responding "OMG bikini " and the ilk. It's disappointing, after how punk, rude and awesome the single was when it first dropped. Minaj is giving it to "the boys"... by giving them what they want, with only a whiff of danger.
But, hey, at least it's still better than "Starships."
"The Boys" is the new single off of "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, The Re-Up," a confusingly titled repackaging of confoundingly titled "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," due on Nov. 19.
The Weeknd is preparing the commercial release of "Trilogy," a collection of his three (you guessed right!) mixtapes all in one spot, with added tunes. "Wicked Games" is the next video to premiere from the set, and the Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye couldn't be more excited. See, it's funny, 'cause he couldn't look more bored in the black-and-white clip, as he gets a lapdance from a shadow, and a peep show from a model.
"You bring your body, baby, I can bring you fame," he sings, skipping the whole "charm" schtick. "Let me motherf*ckin' love you."