<p>From &quot;Sixteen Saltines&quot;</p>

From "Sixteen Saltines"

Watch: Jack White is all tied up in alternate-universe 'Sixteen Saltines'

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The modern-day children of 'Lord of the Flies' plus: a VERY trippy 12" release

Jack White performs as the sole grown-up in the hypnotically disturbing music video for "Sixteen Saltines," but the real stars are the kids. Doing weird kid stuff, like playing hopscotch with their own severed fingers and Robo-tripping.

Leave it to the mind of the former White Stripes evil genius White to make a "Lord of the Rings" gangland of terrible juvenile behavior, because now I have all sorts of ideas having to do with putting liquor in my coffee maker. Dancers fly whimsically into the sky, pre-teens tattoo each other in the dark, slushies are consumed and spat out as part of a bizarre cheerleader mating ritual. And then the solo man of the hour is left to die in the back seat of a car about to be lit on fire, with a choreographed dance of BMXes to close the show.

The story boards must have been entertaining. I would frame them and sell them.

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<p>Beth Ditto from Gossip in &quot;Perfect World&quot;</p>

Beth Ditto from Gossip in "Perfect World"

Credit: VEVO

Watch: Gossip rock a 'Perfect World' in a church

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Beth Ditto, the holy one

There's always been something so delightfully self-aware disco-camp about Gossip, which makes their fashionable videos all the more joyful to watch. The band's 's newest single "Perfect World" goes into deeper, shark-jumpier territory as the trio dons sepia tones in a church, and I'm OK with that.

Frontwoman Beth Ditto has fun with her vocal runs all over the amp-cranking tune. Her styling goes between nun-chic to goth-chick, vampiric baby bangs and stupid-long wigs. It starts dark, but gets a big splash of dorky color by the end.

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<p>Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in &quot;Sparkle&quot;</p>

Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in "Sparkle"

Credit: Sony

Q&A: Jordin Sparks on Whitney Houston, R. Kelly and taking lead in 'Sparkle'

The 'American Idol' star's thought on the remake, before superstar Houston passed away

DETROIT -- There is a lot of pressure on Jordin Sparks, according to Jordin Sparks. Back when I visited the set of the “Sparkle” remake in early November last year, the singer spoke on the nail-biting audition process and gaining the film’s title role. It’s her first film, period, let alone her first lead character in a movie, and the “American Idol” star expressed some first-timer jitters.

But since then, the public slant on the film has changed. It’s longtime executive producer and one of its principal actresses, Whitney Houston, died in February, resetting it with tone of finality, a “could we have seen this coming?” and anticipation to see what becomes of it when it finally hits theaters in August. The pressure continues to rise.
 
In her interview with just a handful of us journalists this winter, Sparks only had the highest of praises for the singer-superstar, who was then still alive and shining off the final two weeks of shooting “Sparkle.” Houston plays Sparkle’s mom, Emma Williams, a former singer with her own past.
 
“[Houston] has millions upon millions of fans and I think they’re going to be very happy to see how she is in this movie. As well as the people who doubt that she’ll be able to do it -- I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised as well,” she said during her Q&A.
 
Below is a complete interview from November with Sparks, who talked about the new and old songs of the 1976 redux, her own connection to the character of Sparkle Williams and acting on Broadway, her thoughts on R. Kelly’s contributions and on what Whitney Houston was like on set.
 
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<p>Soundgarden's Chris Cornell during tour last summer</p>

Soundgarden's Chris Cornell during tour last summer

Credit: AP Photo

Listen to Soundgarden's first new song in 15 years, for the 'Avengers' soundtrack

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The whole movie song list is bro-rific

It's been long in the works, long touted, hyped to the point of saturation. Are we talking about "The Avengers" or the recording return of Soundgarden?

I'll let you be the judge. The '90s rockers have officially been back on the road and back in the studio, this song "Live to Rise" the first fruits of those efforts. It's undeniably Chris Cornell, all meat and long hair on a memorable hook. The guitars have their share of flangers, the drums now have an updated "pop." The guitar lines go in one ear and out the other, but thematically, the song will be a hit for movie-goers, who will enjoy this midtempo testosterone fuel.

CLICK HERE for the stream, on KISW.

"Like the sun, we will live to rise again," goes the refrain. Appropriate for all involved. It is Soundgarden's first newly recorded song in 15 years, since the release of their last album "Down on the Upside"; as you'll remember, they also dropped "Black Rain" for "Guitar Hero" a couple years ago, but that was simply a previously unreleased tune from former sessions.

The whole soundtrack tracklist is very bro-dude, with names like Bush, Papa Roach, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch and Buckcherry contributing. Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland shows up, thankfully with something other than a Christmas song.

"The Avengers" soundtrack will be out on iTunes first, on May 1. The film hits theaters nationwide on May 4.

Soundgarden are expected to release a new full-length album some time in 2012. They have several tour dates listed for 2012, all overseas, with a couple of high profile festival-headlining gigs for the Download Festival in Donington, England and Hard Rock Calling in London.

Here is "The Avengers" soundtrack tracklist:

1. "Live to Rise" - Soundgarden
2.  "I'm Alive" - Shinedown
3.  "Dirt and Roses" - Rise Against
4.  "Even If I Could" - Papa Roach 
5.  "Unbroken" - Black Veil Brides 
6.  "Breath" - Scott Weiland
7.  "Comeback" - Redlight King 
8.  "Into the Blue" - Bush
9.  "A New Way to Bleed (Photek Remix)" - Evanescence
10. "Count Me Out" - PUSHERJONES
11. "Shoot to Thrill" - Theory of a Deadman
12. "Wherever I Go" - Buckcherry 
13. "From Out of Nowhere" - Five Finger Death Punch 
14. "Shake the Ground" - Cherri Bomb

Additional track on the international release:
15. "Pistols At Dawn" - Kasabian

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<p>Paul Van Dyk</p>

Paul Van Dyk

Interview: Paul Van Dyk on electronic ‘Evolution’ and Madonna’s drug blunder

Check out the video for 'Eternity' featuring Adam Young of Owl City

With 20 years of experience in the electronic music industry, it’s safe to say that Paul Van Dyk is an authority on the subject. Today (April 3), the German producer and DJ released his new studio album “Evolution,” after five years chock full of singles, compilation and remix contributions, work on the “Dark Knight Rises” soundtrack, crafting songs for video games like “Mirror’s Edge” and racking up frequent flyer miles as one of dance music’s biggest festival and circuit jetsetters.

And as an authority, Van Dyk has some strong feelings about current events in the electronic music realm.
 
Notably, he’s spoken out about Madonna’s “Molly” drug reference from her appearance at the Ultra Music Festival late last month. (Check out video of her comment at the link.)
 
“Even the beginning of electronic music, we always had to fight against the preconception that everybody who listens to our music is on drugs, and whoever makes our music is on drugs. We’ve been made out to be a drug house rather than a music of substance,” he told me in our interview. “Then Madonna comes along, puts herself on stage and is ruining it by voicing what she did.
 
“This is such a creative artform, with great artists involved… It is fair to say that Madonna doesn’t do anything without something behind it. Her appearing [at the festival] was a really clear marketing statement, for a younger audience. What’s funny is she doesn’t know too much about what electronic music is. She makes phenomenal pop music, and uses electronic sounds and elements. I just wouldn’t think that she’s an electronic artist.”
 
When it comes to his own collaborations, Van Dyk said that it’s not of utmost importance that he works with people who “understand what electronic music is. It’s just that they respect what electronic music is all about.” On “Evolution,” he decided to combine powers with Owl City’s Adam Young, for the track “Eternity” that seems very much inspired by young songwriter’s hit “Fireflies.” The two artists had been in touch back-and-forth over the last four years, even as their careers grew in dramatic stature.
 
“In our music world it’s easy to get and stay in contact. Everybody knows the mailing address of my office. You can talk to your favorite artists on Facebook. Everybody can do it,” he said.
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<p>Ben Howard</p>

Ben Howard

Interview: Rising British star Ben Howard on Mumford & Sons, album release

Watch the music video to the rising talent's 'The Wolves'

It’s notoriously difficult, at times, for British artists to break in the United States, to garner the same amount of success here than they do in their home country.

“People are always warning you about stuff, about it being extraordinarily hard. But people [in the U.S.] have been amazing,” said Ben Howard.
 
Of course, the young singer/songwriter has Mumford & Sons on his side, which -- y’know -- helps. He issued his debut album “Every Kingdom” Stateside on Communion, the label and music community founded by Mumfords’ Ben Lovett, nurtured through that band’s fanbase worldwide.
 
“[Communion] are all big music lovers, and business comes second. When I was talking to other record labels, they were much stricter with stuff, too much of a brand strategy and a business plan. Communion is just making good stuff, and that’s what the music industry needs-- it always needs music fans,” Howard said in our interview. He said that the opportunity to do something of a collaboration with the Mumfords is always up in the air. “A nice thing is everyone keeps their minds open to that sort of thing.”
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<p>T.I.</p>

T.I.

Listen: T.I.'s new album gets an 'official' first single, 'Love This Life'

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Is this a good direction for TIP's hustle?

T.I. isn't the best singer, but he got a fitting hook and an easy beat for "Love This Life," which his label Grand Hustle/Atlantic is dubbing as the first single from long-awaited album "Trouble Man."

So a centerpiece for "Man" is T.I.'s woman, on whom he spends his energy with "Love This Life."

"You know, you love / Bitch, you know you love this life/ Don't nobody do you like me," T.I. reiterates on the refrain. Because if there's one thing that ladies love, is being told what they like. And to be called bitch.

Beyond some obvious strain between romance and being a hustler, T.I. has dropped a generally likeable, Mars-produced track, his flow bounding after the beat with ease and an accessible drum sample that could take it to top 40 and not just the rap charts.

No insight has been revealed as to when to expect "Trouble Man" except "later this year; there have been some fits and starts in getting an album proper from TIP ever since he left the pokey in late summer last year. He's launched his reality show "T.I & Tiny: The Family Hustle," put out a book last fall, premiered a mixtape on New Year's Day in 2012 and has dropped a few promotional singles with "I'm Flexin'" featuring Big K.R.I.T. as the biggest standout. It didn't track so big with crossover radio, so maybe that's why there's a push with "Love."

T.I. is on tap as producer of Iggy Azalea's forthcoming debut album "The New Classic"; he will also star along side of Kelsey Grammer in Starz series "Boss."

What do you think of "Love This Life?"

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<p>So many fonts! Nicki Minaj's &quot;Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded&quot;</p>

So many fonts! Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"

Credit: Cash Money/Young Money/Universal Republic

Review: Nicki Minaj's 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded'

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Multiple personalities slaughtered by the company she keeps

It’s been said before, but it’s worth reiterating, especially in consideration of “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded”: Nicki Minaj is a rapper, a better rapper than she is a singer. Let the rapper rap.

The Young Money/Cash Money artist does much of that in the first half of “Reloaded,” a confoundingly long album of 19 tracks. The latter half is devoted to Nicki Minaj, Pop Star, a calculated configuration with an evident desire to throw more than one’s fair share at the wall to see what sticks. The “Roman Reloaded” title flimsily attracts fans to its core conceit, the fleshing-out of Minaj’s trash-talking alter-ego Roman, a loose fetter that falls away with each overwrought play for top 40 airplay.
 
I’m not saying it’s lame to experiment, that any single artist should be confined to any one genre by the influence of any single source. Her former hit “Super Bass” is a good example of working her lane and still getting paid and, sadly, a track that serves more at a frustrating anomaly than a guide for great expectations on “Reloaded.”
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<p>Whitney Houston in &quot;Sparkle&quot;</p>

Whitney Houston in "Sparkle"

Watch the first trailer from 'Sparkle,' Whitney Houston's cinematic swan song

Jordin Sparks and her 'sisters' answer to Houston's Emma, a mom with her own singing past

In my interview with Whitney Houston last fall, she spoke much of the themes of motherhood in her forthcoming remake of the 1976 film "Sparkle." In the first look at the film in the newly released trailer, it seems to feature a lot of that, and what it is to be a teenager and a rising star.

The film clip debuted this morning, featuring its namesake played by Jordin Sparks, plus other top cast like Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tike Sumpter, Derek Luke and -- yup! -- Cee Lo Green. Houston appears as the Williams sisters' sassy mom, who considers her past as a rising star that never reached her potential.

The film promises to integrate music from the Motown era, plus new compositions from R. Kelly with input from executive producer Whitney Houston herself. The trailer doesn't indicate yet what the late singer's big number in the film will look like, but with all that talent, it's not a question "what" song, but just how many.

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<p>Dirty Projectors</p>

Dirty Projectors

Listen: Dirty Projectors release new track 'Gun Has No Trigger'

Bjork had an effect on her 'Orca' collaborators

Bjork and the DPs collaborated on "Mount Wittenberg Orca" and now, more than ever, the Icelandic star's influence on frontman Dave Longstreth's voice is heard like never before on new track "Gun Has No Trigger." I enjoy the boldness of his biggest notes here, and that cold, surreal phrasing. I also continue to applaud the return of his backing singers Amber Coffman, Haley Dekle and Angel Deradoorian who sing like the women that they are (as opposed to sounding like little girls).

But don't look for the hooky, boppy arrangement like those that were all over 2009's "Bitte Orca." This is a much sadder, simpler track.Longstreth told SPIN to expect as much.

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