Miley Cyrus and Pharrell Willams

Pharrell Williams and Miley Cyrus get playful in 'Come Get It Bae' video: Watch

Cyrus pours some sugar in a non-Def Leppard way


Miley Cyrus leaves the tweaking to others in the video for Pharrell Williams’ “Come Get It Bae.”

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Shovels & Rope
Credit: Lesie Ryan McKellar

Exclusive Premiere: Shovels & Rope's dark new song, 'Evil': Listen

A tale of two misfits who are very misunderstood

Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, collectively known as Shovels & Rope, release their sophomore set “Swimmin’ Time,” Aug. 26.

The set follows the husband and wife duo's highly acclaimed breakthrough, ‘O’ Be Joyful,” a set of largely acoustic tales that featured their voices wrapping around each other and slithering in and out of stomping melodies, especially on the semi-autobiographical, “Birmingham,” which was named Song of the Year at the 2013 Americana Music Awards.

One of the best tunes on “Swimmin’ Time” is the swampy, dark “Evil,” a story about two misfits, a young tomboy and an older man, who is emotionally lost following the sudden death of his wife and an accident that leaves him brain damaged.

“The rough little girl takes pity on him and his children, bringing them apples, him, cigarettes and helping with the kids,” Hearst and Trent tell HitFix. “Their interaction raises suspicion in the small town, and the cops bring her in for questioning, perhaps with her damaged friend in custody, where she explains that they were helping each other, and that all they ever shared was their mutual loneliness.  Alas, it is a story about a town with 'two Boo Radleys' who depend on each other to survive.” Hey, any tune that in any way references "To Kill A Mockingbird" works for us.

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5 Seconds of Summer

Rating 5 Seconds of Summer's new set via the Boy Band-ometer

How do the Aussie cuties compare to 1D, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync

So if One Direction is a 10 and 98 Degrees is a 1, where do 5 Seconds of Summer, whose full-length self-titled debut comes out today (22), fall on the Boy Band-ometer?

Let’s look at a few factors and bring in a few more boy band metrics.

*Harmonies: The pinnacle of Boy Band Harmony is Backstreet Boys on “As Long As You Love Me,” followed closely by Boyz II Men on “I’ll Make Love To You.”  On each, their voices wrap around each other in a gorgeous blend of longing. Few boy groups seem to understand that singing in unison is not the same as harmonizing and  warbling “Oh, oh” together a lot—on almost every song— doesn’t constitute harmony. The members of 5SOS tend to trade off on lines and then all four sing together. BSB and B2M have nothing to worry about.  GRADE: C

*Songs: Remember how other than “You Don't Know You're Beautiful,”  1D’s first album was filled with forgettable ditties. It took a few albums in for the lads to get something as memorable as “Story of My Life.”  For a first full-length album, 5SOS succeeds better than most: there are no clunkers on here, but there’s very little that’s memorable other than “Don’t Stop” and mid-tempo “Long Way Home.”  Ballad “Amnesia” has just the right amount of maudlin anguish to make us understand that the boys in 5SOS are way more than just pretty faces. GRADE: B-

*Vocals: Lead singer Luke Hemmings has a pleasing, serviceable voice and the rest chime in adequately, but there’s not a super singer like ’N Sync’s Justin Timberlake or Hanson’s Taylor Hanson lurking among the four. GRADE: B-

*Bounceability: The majority of songs on “5 Seconds of Summer” are upbeat ditties that serve as reliable fodder for working out just as much as for dancing, especially the first half of the album. The band’s label keeps stressing 5SOS’s “pop-punk,” but there is nothing remotely “punk” about 5SOS. They’re not even as “edgy” as The Wanted. They are pure, fluffy, bouncy pop and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. GRADE: A

*Swoon Appeal: What girl doesn’t want to hear her beau plead “Kiss Me, kiss me, kiss me,” as 5SOS do on the appropriately titled “Kiss me, Kiss me?” Or romantically dream of sleeping under the same sky when they’re apart on “Beside You.” It’s all PG here, as it should be, and every now and then, a little whiff of their Australian accents comes through which sends the Swoon Appeal meter sky rocketing. Plus, they already go by their first names only for the most part. Who needs last names when you’re already crushing so hard?: GRADE: B+

* 1D Successor Likelihood: 5SOS is already on its way to being the rightful heir. Its Spring EP, “She Looks So Perfect,”  debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart in 58 countries. The band’s first US headlining tour sold out and the boys are now opening for 1D on its global stadium tour. One Directioners were apoplectic when 5SOS garnered two MTV VMA noms last week, while 1D got zero. Adding insult to injury, 5SOS has pulled out of its Aug. 24 and Aug. 27 1D dates to perform at the VMAs. 5SOS won’t hit the absurd fever pitch of 1D, but between their sweet, benign talent and ability to ride on 1D’s coattails, they’ll do just fine for three years or so until the next big things comes along.


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Eddie Vedder

Should artists like Eddie Vedder and Selena Gomez speak out on war?

We let James Garner have the final say

Should artists express their views on the Israeli/Gaza conflict? Or on any divisive political matters at all? A number of artists have commented on recent current events and had to either back track or explain their messages.

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Robyn and Royksopp

Robyn and Royksopp's 'Do It Again' video: Head toward the light

The dance tune takes a much darker turn

Robyn and Royksopp’s dance tune, “Do It Again,” the title track from their joint EP,  is a slightly cautionary ditty about the things that feel so good that we do them again, even if they aren’t great for us.

The ambitious video, however, spins a much darker tale of addiction, forbidden love, rights suppression, and some other things that I still haven’t figured out… Those crazy Scandinavians!

Shot in Mexico in black and white, the Martin de Thurah-directed video leaves a lot to the viewers’ imagination as seemingly unrelated tales play out of activists fighting against an unexplained evil, a girl with an injured leg dealing with addiction, and some stolen artwork. There’s a timelessness to the clip that seems like it could take place anywhere from the ‘50s to present day.

So rather than try to interpret it, maybe it’s just best to enjoy the frenzy that seems to take over at various points in the clip as the beat takes over and the danger builds up. Maybe it’s all a fever dream. Just remember… head toward the light.

Interstitial footage of Robyn singing “Do It Again” is cut in with the narrative, while the two members of Royksopp appear in some of the crowd scenes.



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Spoon's new 'Do You' video has some surprises in store

Everything becomes clearer toward the end


There’s a lot of excitement around the new Spoon album, “They Want My Soul,” much of it coming from catchy first single, “Do You.” In direct contrast to the song’s upbeat melody, the video is a bit of a downer.

Lead singer Britt Daniel, looking dazed and confused from a head wound, drives through a city at war, but despite the chaos, he’s moving at a very leisurely pace. About two minutes in, we realize he’d not alone: his companion is a teenage girl in the backseat. With her headphones on and her blasé expression, she seems even less concerned about the unfolding destruction.

Directed by Hiro Murai, the video is a case of not much to see and everything to see all at the same time…depending upon your view. If you can hang on until around the 3-minute mark, there’s an amusing pay-off. The video is part of Urban Outfitters' series of video clips. For bands looking for dollars to help underwrite their artistic endeavors: this is the way it's done. No product placement and yet Urban Outfitters, whose site houses the video, gets the coolness by association.

“They Want My Soul” comes out Aug. 5 and is the band’s first for Loma Vista Recordings after a long tenure on Merge Records.

Apocalyptic scenes are big again: check out last week’s video  for "War on the East Coast" from The New Photographers, that follows a somewhat similar visual approach to cities under siege.


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Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst's sweet new video, 'You Are Your Mother's Child'

The video caps off a very last few months for the singer/songwriter

“Life’s a rollercoaster, keep your arms inside.”

So sings Conor Oberst in his new song, “You Are Your Mother’s Child.”  In the new video for the track, a puppet dad reflects on his very real children’s playful nature, as Oberst sings projected through an old television screen. It’s a sweet song, taken from his current album, “Upside Down Mountain,”  and even sweeter video that has an untainted, nostalgic innocence.

The lovely clip is a palate-cleanser of sorts to what has definitely been a tumultuous last few months for Oberst. This week, a woman, who, in February,  had accused Oberst of rape via comments section for an essay that ran on the  xoJane website recanted her statements and apologized to Oberst via a public statement.

Her false accusation is, of course, in-and-of itself terrible, but the story- more than any in recent weeks- is a reminder of how social media spreads tales with reckless disregard as to any veracity. A spark turns into an internet flame, which conflates into a roaring fire with the strike of one small match.

In a fascinating piece for The Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey chronicles the rumor’s path from the xoJane comment to Tumblr chatter to fan sites to mainstream.  She cites that one Tumblr post, which was merely a re-report of an earlier report, got 10,000 hits in one day. Similarly, in one 24-hour period, there were more than 700 tweets about the alleged rape.

On the internet, truth and fiction carry the same weight, but the most valuable  currency is scandal. The more salacious an item the faster it will travel. For too long (and HitFix is guilty of this as are most outlets), attributing a story to a site now counts the same as verifying the story with an informed source or publicist. And they are two very different things. Additionally, something posted as a comment to an essay or on a Tumblr account is not the same thing as actual journalism. We act like they are there’s no difference now, giving something that is reported on a gossip site the same traction as something in the New York Times.

So, as Dewey notes, by the time Oberst’s reps released a statement saying the accusations were false, the story had already been picked up so many times on the internet that it took on the sheen of true by sheer ubiquity.

Oberst, who filed a $1.2 million libel suit against his Joanie Faircloth, his accuser, in February. He has since accepted her apology, but for the rest of his life, he’ll know that when someone Googles his name, these accusations will come up and they won’t all be amended with the fact that Faircloth recanted. They should all be taken down, but that’s not how it works on the Internet. This is now part of his footprint.

Faircloth holds the ultimate responsibility, but as Dewey writes, “Everyone who ‘boosted her signal,’ in the words of one outspoken Oberst blogger, is also complicit.” Maybe, no matter whether we’re retweeting or linking on Facebook or writing for a website, it’s time to take a little responsibility for the boost.


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Katy Perry

Hear Katy Perry 'Roar' over MTV VMA snub

She has more than 500 million reasons not to worry

It doesn’t bother Katy Perry that her widely acclaimed and even-more-widely seen video for “Roar” didn’t get any love when the MTV Video Music Awards nominations were announced yesterday. It. Really. Doesn’t.

In fact, it doesn’t bother her so much that Perry took to Twitter early this morning to ever so playfully chide the VMAs for the snub and remind us all over the staggering stat that the video has received nearly 560 million views. That’s getting up there into Psy territory.

Of course, Perry doesn’t want to pour too much water on the VMAs given that her video for “Dark Horse” earned nods for best female video and best collaboration (with Juicy J).


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Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum's new album, '747,' set to land Sept. 30

'There's an urgency and an energy' to the new music, says Hillary Scott

Lady Antebellum’s fifth studio album, “747,” will take flight on Sept. 30.

The set, the trio’s first since 2013’s “Golden,” includes first single, “Bartender,” which bulleted at No. 11 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart this week.

The band produced the album with Nathan Chapman, best know for his work with Taylor Swift.  “We are pushing ourselves as a band and as songwriters,” says Lady A’s Hillary Scott. “Taking ourselves out of our comfort zone and not taking ourselves too seriously.  There's an urgency and an energy to it that we've never released before.”

Lady Antebellum is in the middle of its 80-city Take Me Downtown arena tour.


1. Long Stretch of Love
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Josh Kear)

2. Bartender
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Rodney Clawson)

3. Lie With Me
(Marc Beeson, Abe Stoklasa)

4. Freestyle
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Shane McAnally)

5. Down South
(Stephanie Chapman, Christian Rada, Dave Thomson)

6. One Great Mystery
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Josh Kear)

 7. Sounded Good At The Time
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)

 8. She Is
(Ben Rector, Jeff Pardo)

 9. Damn You Seventeen
(Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally)

10. 747
(Gordie Sampson, Caitlyn Smith, Cary Barlowe)

11. Just A Girl
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Shane McAnally)



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Johnny Winter

Fiery blues guitarist Johnny Winter dead at 70

Kiss's Paul Stanley, Tom Morello and more pay tribute on Twitter

Legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter, known for his fiery, speedy playing and his long-flowing white hair, died yesterday in Zurich, where he was on tour. He was 70.

Winter, the older brother of Edgar Winter, was a contemporary of Eric Clapton and was one of the first blues guitarists so embraced by rock audiences that he was able to sell out arenas during his hey-day in the ‘70s. He was widely influenced by the blues guitarists who came before him, such as Muddy Waters, and he went on to inspire such guitarists as Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Born in Beaumont, Texas in 1944, Winter got his start playing in clubs as a teenager. He signed with Columbia Records in 1969 and appeared at The Woodstock Festival that year.  He performed with Janis Joplin, as well as his brother. He was inducted into The Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988.

Artists including Tom Morello, Kiss’s Paul Stanley and Zakk Wylde took to Twitter today to remember Winter. Matt Sorum noted it has been a rough week for music lovers following the deaths of Tommy Ramone and Charlie Haden, and now Winter.






In addition to touring behind his 70th birthday, he was preparing for the release of his latest studio album, “Step Back,” which features guest appearances by Clapton, Ben Harper, Joe Perry, Dr. John and others.

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