Whitney Houston’s remake of the film “Sparkle” – what has proved to be her final cinematic project – was a personal one. The superstar entertainer served as executive producer, headed up the soundtrack and starred in the musical movie. Those roles were a culmination of her long, legendary career, but her lead character Emma was developed to be, in part, an autobiographical reflection on Houston herself. She said as much.
As per usual, songwriter and megamind Damon Albarn is busy. He's got work with three different projects: Gorillaz featuring LCD Soundsystem's former frontman, a new supergroup with Flea and, if we're lucky, a new Blur album.
His cartoon band has been tapped for Converse's next Three Artists. One Song project, featuring one-half of Outkast -- Andre 3000 -- and recent LCD Soundsystem retiree James Murphy. "DoYaThing" will be a free download through the shoe company's website starting Feb. 23, and Gorillaz will be taking to the stage to celebrate with a show on Feb. 15 at the 100 Club in London. The band's resident artist and co-founder Jamie Hewlett will have his hands all over a new Converse design for the company's Spring 2012 collection.
Gorillaz released "Singles Collection: 2001-2011" in November. Murphy put an end to that pesky Soundsystem last year and promoted the finale show documentary "Shut Up and Play the Hits" at Sundance this January. Andre showed up on tracks like Beyonce's "Party" last year and is threatening a long-awaited solo album for this year.
Meanwhile, Albarn has joined forces with Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea and The Good, The Bad And The Queen drummer Tony Allen for a new rock act Rocketjuice And The Moon, and the crew will drop their first, self-titled album on March 26.
R&B singer Erykah Badu, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, Ghanian rapper M. anifest and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble will all feature. Recording began out of Albarn's London studio in 2008. Rocketjuice And The Moon first played live in October, so keep your eyes peeled for more live shows, once Flea's finally had his chance to hit the road with that other band.
And -- this isn't from the Gorillaz' mouth -- but Blur may be about ready for some more action in 2012. Graham Coxon told the Daily Record "there will definitely be another Blur album." The band is rehearsing soon for their performance at this month's Brit Awards (Feb. 21) and plan to get started on some new material.
"2009 was an amazing healing experience for us. We were really swept away with it and got a lot out of our systems," he said. "Eventually, even if things aren’t around the corner, Blur will do more recordings together. We all love each other and still like making music so that’s not a bad start."
Coxon's on top of a new solo record "A+E." Blur reunited in 2009 for a series of shows in the U.K. They last released "Think Tank" in 2003.
Albarn worked on collaborative effort DRC Music last year, pumped out an opera and apparently totally loves to work, always.
Kanye West and Jay Z's latest video, for the new "Watch the Throne" single "N***** in Paris" comes with a seizure warning in front of it. And they're not kidding.
Electrifying as it is, the clip is a non-stop torrent of flashing lights and kaleidoscopic effects, as the duo perform the hit song on stage in front of tens of thousands of rabid fans (most of whom look like runway models, apparently).
Directed by West himself, the video is comprised of live footage shot at the duo's multi-night stand at L.A.'s Staples Center this summer. If you missed the colossal rappers on tour together, this may be your only chance to see an approximation of their live abilities.
There are also some black panthers, gothic architecture (Notre Dame may be the only representation of the French capital) and even a Will Ferrell cameo (in the form of a "Blades of Glory" clip), but mostly it's like watching "Tron: Legacy" in fast-forward. It puts Kanye's hyperactive, "Akira"-meets-Daft Punk video for "Stronger" to shame. West's video for "All of the Lights" also had a similar warning about seizures. Seems like kind of a weird trademark for a performer (even in the post-MTV age), but it works well with the thumping, relentlessly catchy "Paris."
Twitter-happy Kanye's previous album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" is up for just about every Grammy there is.
Dat sh*t indeed cray:
What do you think of the video? Grade it at the top of the story.
Check out new music videos from Rick Ross, Pharoahe Monch and Jill Scott, The Constellations with Cee Lo, Ladyhawke and Sam Sparro.
Contrary to popular opinion, Rihanna has not cornered the market on "yellow diamonds." America's favorite former corrections officer Rick Ross has unveiled his drug dealing fantasies in "Yella Diamonds," another cut off of oft-delayed "God Forgives, I Don't." I thought I told that man to keep off his feet.
Sigur Ros has made first contact in terms of a new tour today, as they announce they'll be headlining the Bestival festival in England this summer and plan to hit the road in 2012.
The Icelandic dream-rockers will head to the Isle of Wight for a Sept. 9 show, confirming their first live performance in four years. And, apparently, "their only show in the UK in 2012."
"We’ll be announcing more tour dates soon – sign up to our mailing list to get the news first," the band posted on their site.
The band was last out to support 2008's "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust," though they released a new film last year, "Inni," which was just lovely. Not quite as lovely as 2007's "Heima," which is practically experiential in illustrating the power of Sigur Ros' live show. I was taken with Jonsi's solo stint in support of "Go" two years ago, and I imagine that this forthcoming 2012 tour will have the same stunning visual clout, particularly as it seems Sigur Ros' fandom continues to grow through exposure in television and movie placements, like in Cameron Crowe's "We Bought a Zoo."
The Cure, Bjork and PJ Harvey headed up Bestival last year.
The enigmatic electronic duo Daft Punk are reportedly ready to make some long-overdue new music, and will be working with the funkiest of the funky to make it happen. The twosome are teaming with Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers on an upcoming album.
Known for crushing the dancefloor (and epic live shows) with their hits "One More Time," "Digital Love" and the Kanye-friendly "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," the pioneering Frenchies (human names: Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) haven't released a proper studio album since 2005's "Human After All," although they scored the 2010 film "Tron: Legacy."
Rodgers told Daft Punk fan site Fasterlouder.com, "We were just jamming at my house, but it’s gonna be proper and real... They came over to my today around breakfast time and it's now evening. I basically had to almost kick them out. We were having so much fun just in an informal setting that we decided to make it formal. And it's very formal. It's gonna be amazing."
Perhaps best known for "Le Freak," Chic's "Good Times" was borrowed by Daft Punk for their hit "Around the World."
Rodgers has previously helped such musical titans as Madonna and David Bowi get in touch with their disco-R&B side, and seems like a match made in dancefloor heaven. He is also a guest on Adam Lambert's upcoming album.
Are you excited to hear the collaboration?
Here's a rundown of some standout videos and tracks for the day, from Black Keys, St. Vincent, Niki & the Dove and Band of Skulls.
Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys hasn't just been hard at work on Dr. John's next album. He and Patrick Carney have been rocking audiences in support of latest "El Camino" in the last few months, with the below footage culled from a raucous set in New York. I find the setting disagreeable -- Webster Hall isn't even near one of the best venues in the city -- but the lights do a lot of doctoring Webster's walls for this vibrant scene.
For years, Metallica has brought their music directly to the fans with endless tours. Now, with the launch of the metal act's own festival Orion Music + More, the fans can come to them.
Today, the quartet took to LiveStream to announce their weekend-long event, to take place in Atlantic City, N.J., on June 23-24. The band will close out both nights, and have tapped other bands like Arctic Monkeys, Avenged Sevenfold and Modest Mouse to play throughout. The band has also promised to play "Ride the Lightning" and the eponymous "Black album" in their entirety -- that marks the first time they've done the latter on U.S. soil.
Yeah, what did happen to the Counting Crows?
I was thinking about that as I saw the movie "Gypsy Davy" at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The documentary film, in a tangent, reveals the origins of "a black-haired / flamenco dancer" and the father who plays guitar in the '90s hit "Mr. Jones." There's footage of the band's floppy-dreaded frontman Adam Duritz singing the song live and a reminder that Duritz and his bandmates had lives and other bands before Counting Crows. And they've seen some strange years after its inception.
The rock act parted ways from Geffen in 2009, and I honestly thought that may be the end of that. They'd released the immensely personal and very dark double-disc "Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings" in 2008, with some interviews revealing some of heavy baggage. There were some good reasons why it took the band six years to release an album of new material after 2002's "Hard Candy," including Duritz' struggle with a dissociative disorder. It's a mental illness spurred on by pressure, which the band undoubtedly had after its string of hits starting in 1993 and throughout the '90s into the 2000s.
Being an immensely popular rock band from the 1990s doesn't always bode well in this jaded post-Internet age. Ask Bush, or the Wallflowers or Creed.
All this while, the Counting Crows have been touring consistently, and Duritz and the crew have been pretty lively on Twitter, with well over a million followers, and vibrant in other online community hotspots. It's this relationship that may have spurred an experiment from the band for the release of their next studio effort.
The Shins have tacked on more headlining tour dates for their spring trek as they bow the B-Side to currently single "Simple Song."
The newly revamped rock-pop troupe have an aesthetically pleasing lyric video for "September" literally spinning on their website, the companion to the leading track from new album "Port of Morrow." While that set is due in March, the band brings it back to the fall, where this sweetly heartbroken song sounds more akin to leaves falling than buds blooming. Or something. James Mercer's wordplay again takes front and center, as little hints of alt-country and Americana rises through the guitar processors.