Michael Jackson

Album Review: Michael Jackson's 'Xscape' ranges from delightful to awful

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What were they thinking releasing some of these songs?

“Xscape,” out today, features eight previously unreleased Michael Jackson tunes, completed by top tier producers.

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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey returns with attitude on new club track, 'Thirsty': Listen

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She glides over a too busy production

Mariah Carey’s new tune, “Thirsty,” premiered today on Power 105, and the Hit-Boy-produced tune attempts to place Carey right in the middle of the club as her vocals glide over a very busy synth track.

The tune opens with the sound of a drink being opened and poured before the relentless track starts. Carey comes in and she has something to say: “You used to  be Mr. All About Me, now you’re just thirsty for celebrity” she sings in her upper register.

Her man’s thirst for fame has left her “drowning” in misery.  He can take his “stunting on Instagram” and move along, thank you very much. And, of course, the question is who is the song about? Hubby Nick Cannon? Someone else?

Rapper Rich Homie Quan comes in at the beginning and in the middle, but the star is Carey’s delivery: she singing is airy as a butterfly, but her words are lethal. The track is one of the catchier things she’s done, but it is way too busy. I’d love to hear a remix without the stuttering background track that runs under  the whole tune like an irritating mosquito buzz. I know that's Hit-Boy's thing, but this synth track is much less appealing than the work he did on such tunes as Jay Z and Kanye West's "Ni**as in Paris."

“Thirsty” is on “Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse,” which comes out May 27.

What do you think?

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Imagine Dragons
Credit: Anthony Mair

Imagine Dragons pen 'Battle Cry' for 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction': Listen

Hear a snippet of the song

From “Radioactive” to “Demons” to “Battle Cry”: Imagine Dragons, known for its dramatic titles and music, has written a new song, “Battle Cry,” for “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

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The Black Keys

Album Review: The Black Keys' 'Turn Blue' turns back time

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The duo's eighth set is steeped in the '70s

The Black KeysDan Auerbach told Rolling Stone that the goal with the duo’s eighth album, “Turn Blue,” out tomorrow (13), was to make a “headphone record.”

Well, they have certainly done that.

In fact, listening to the album through speakers feels like you’re doing it a disservice and missing lovingly crafted details.  “Turn Blue” is an album that is meant to be heard in its entirety with your full attention as the music pans from left to right and flows from your ears into your brain. It is not background music. In fact, we’d suggest to get the full effect, sink into a bean bag chair and a lava lamp.

The album gets off to a trippy start with the nearly seven-minute fuzzy opus,“Weight Of Love.” But that only hints at what’s to come. On “Turn Blue,” a punchy guitar line morphs into a sonic wave that threatens to blow your mind via headphones, and if “Weight of Love” recalls Pink Floyd, wait until you get to “Bullet in the Brain.” It practically demands to be listened to alongside “Comfortably Numb.”

First single, “Fever,” is one of the most straight ahead rock tracks on the album, but even it has the Black Keys’ usual little tics that make it sound unlike anything else on the radio. Plus, it includes the most delightful use of a farfisa organ since ? Mark & The Mysterians’ “96 Tears,” before it seemingly shifts into a different song.

Lyrically, the album deals primarily with romantic disillusionment and betrayal, such as on “Bullet In The Brain,” when Auerbach sings “I let you use my gifts to back those lying lips.”

Auerbach has turned into such an accomplished producer —in the last two years alone, he’s worked with Ray LaMontagne, Lana Del Rey, Dr. John,  and Michael Kiwanuka —but here the band gets an able assist from Danger Mouse, who ups the psychedelic factor.

Part of The Black Keys appeal has always been Carney’s drumming, which is more upfront in the mix than many other drummers, but never overwhelms the song. On the hypnotic “It’s Up To You Now,” percussion takes the lead, setting the tone as the song shifts tempos from frenetic to druggy, but never veers from the ‘70s rock that influenced it.

In fact, the album seldom leaves the ‘70s thematically, even if it does change styles.  On “Waiting On Words,” even though the song is produced like a rock track, Auerbach delivers a soulful vocal that recalls Smokey Robinson filtered through a tremolo guitar.

The Black Keys haven’t abandoned the funk that got them so far on their last album, 2011’s “El Camino,” but it gets slightly muted here on songs like the swaying “10 Lovers.”

Auerbach and Carney deserve credit for staying so true to the ‘70s premise, but it doesn’t necessarily wear well. By the time track 10, “In Our Prime,” rolls around and Auerbach goes into a wonky guitar solo, it’s the tiniest bit tedious, but then the band comes back and closes with “Gotta Get Away,” a straight-ahead rocker that is so poppy it practically pops out of the speakers and starts dancing on the floor by itself. It doesn’t have the usual heft of a Black Keys’ tune but that’s part of its appeal. It’s lightweight and frothy and utterly delectable. Maybe that could be the starting point for album number nine.

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Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae's 'Heroes' clip turns misfits into superheroes: Watch

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But here's a usage of the Bowie classic we like even better

We can all be heroes of our own lives, according to Janelle Monae’s new video for “Heroes.”

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Eminem

Eminem's heartbreaking video to his mom, 'Headlights': Watch

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Spike Lee-directed clip will bring tears to your eyes

Eminem’s relationships with women have been, to say the least, complicated, in song, if not in reality.  But no woman has borne the brunt of his ire more than his mom, Debbie Mathers. Check out songs like “Cleanin' Out My Closet.”

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10 top artists we'd love to hear duet with Michael Jackson
Credit: AP Photo

10 top artists we'd love to hear duet with Michael Jackson

Why should Justin Timberlake be the only one?

“Love Never Felt So Good,” the first single from Michael Jackson’s new album, “Xscape,” out Tuesday (13), featuring Justin Timberlake and the King of Pop in a makeshift duet created years after Jackson’s 2009 death. In fact, the whole album “contemporizes” eight previously unreleased Jackson tracks, reimagined by top producers including Timbaland and Stargate. So what if some of Jackson’s biggest hits could be recreated with some of today’s top artists? Here are our picks for a dream Michael Jackson duets album (Though it doesn't appear on "Xscape," Justin Bieber apparently recorded a version of "Slave to the Rhythm." We picked another song for him below). By the way, there's clearly a demand for new Jackson material: "Love Never Felt So Good" debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week.

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Now That's What I Call Music 50

'Now 50' turns up the heat on 'Frozen' on the albums' chart

Do any of the six debuts push 'Frozen' out of the top spot?

A big thaw happens on the charts next week as “Now That’s What I Call Music” topples the “Frozen” soundtrack out of the top spot on the Billboard 200 by a wide margin as six new albums bow in the Top 10.

The 50th edition of the “Now” series will sell up to 150,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double, surpassing “Frozen” by as many as 50,000. “Frozen” has spent 13 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1.

Country artist Hunter Hayes comes in at No. 3 with his latest, “Storyline” (75,000), while Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan returns with “Shine On” (40,000) at No. 4.
Pharrell Williams’ “G I R L” is at No. 5 (30,000), although it may have to settle for No. 6 as Tech N9ne Callobos’ “Strangulation” could enter at No. 5 (30,000).

Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” climbs back up to No. 7 in its 39th week on the chart (24,000), besting out Atmosphere’s latest, “Southsiders” (21,000-24,000). The last newcomer,  Lily Allen’s “Sheezus,” will likely bow at No. 8 with 19,000 copies sold.

Lindsey Stirling’s “Shatter Me” drops  from No. 2 to No. 9  (17,000-19000) and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” rounds out the Top 10 at No. 10 (18,000).

 

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Foster the People

Wu-Tang Clan, J. Cole, Foster the People set to headline Bumbershoot Festival

Elvis Costello, Capital Cities, The Replacements also on Seattle bill

Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival, held Aug. 30-Sept. 1, at Seattle Center, will have a little something for everyone this year.

Headliners include veteran rockers Elvis Costello & The Imposters and The Replacements, rap acts J. Cole and Wu-Tang Clan, and  relative newcomers Foster the People and The Head and The Heart.

Also on the diverse bill are Panic! At the Disco, Schoolboy Q, Capital Cities, Neon Trees, The Afghan Whigs, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Mission of Burma, Los Lobos, Bootsy Collins, The Both, Walk the Moon, The Dismemberment Plan, Real Estate, and about 75 other acts. Of particular interest are Big Star’s Third, a collection of artists who come together to play the rock band’s third album, a cult favorite known as “Third” and “Sister Lovers.” The collective usually includes Big Star drummer Jody Stephens as well as others either affiliated with Big Star or acolytes.

Here’s what the individual day line-ups looks like so far:

Aug. 30: Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Panic! At the Disco, The Afghan Whigs, The Both, Walk The Moon, G-Easy, Bobby Womack, Danny Brown, Poliça, Mac DeMarco, Big Freedia, SZA, Yuna, The Lonely Forest, Gregory Porter, Sam Lachow, Shelby Earl, Youngblood Hawke, RA Scion, Donnie & Joe Emerson, Fly Moon Royalty, Grayskul, Tomo Nakayama, Iska Dhaaf, McTuff, Naomi Wachira, Evan Flory Barnes + Infinity Upright!, Cataldo, Cumulus, Dude York, Modern Kin, Otieno Terry.

Aug. 31: The Replacements, The Head and the Heart, Schoolboy Q, Los Lobos, Bootsy Collins, The Dismemberment Plan, Luscious Jackson, Pickwick, Kishi Bashi, Red Fang, Big Star’s Third, Iamsu!, Gregory Alan Isakov, Charlie Musselwhite, Mission of Burma, Architecture in Helsinki, The Dream Syndicate, Schoolyard Heroes, San Fermin, Negativland, Kins, Polyrhythmics, ILLFIGHTYOU, Jarv Dee, Sandrider, The 44’s with Kirk “Eli” Fletcher, Hobosexual, Falls, Highlands, Hermigervill, Manatee Commune, Golden Gardens, Hot Wired Rhythm Band.

Sept. 1: Foster the People, J. Cole, Capital Cities, Neon Trees, Real Estate, Nada Surf, The Reverend Horton Heat, Aer, Twin Shadow, Jonathan Richman, Valerie June, Bomba Estéreo, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Rose Windows, Mexican Institute of Sound, DahkaBrakha, Campfire Ok, Bad Things, Julianna Barwick, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Jacco Gardner, La Luz, Current Swell, Tangerine, Hoba Hoba Spirit, Kore Ionz, Jessica Pratt, Massy Ferguson, Old Man Luedecke, Western Haunts, Smokey Brights.

 

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Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's weird 'Blue Gangsta' and sexy 'Loving You': Listen

Check out two new track from 'Xscape'

Forget going out to eat at some fancy schmancy restaurant, Michael Jackson wants to stay home in bed with you.  It’s a bit of a creepy notion in hindsight, but it probably wasn’t in 1987, when Jackson originally recorded “Loving You.”

Jackson laid down the mid-tempo ballad, which is featured on “Xscape,” an album of previously unreleased Jackson songs finished by various producers,  for “Bad,” but then didn’t include it on the multi-platinum set, according to Billboard. Timbaland and J-Roc took the tracks and added a funky beat, according to Idolator.

If “Loving You” is instantly recognizable as Jackson, “Blue Gangsta,” a track that bowed on MTV today, is a little more out there. With gritty vocals, full of hiccups and other Jackson trademarks, the singer originally recorded the vocals in 1999 with producer Dr. Freeze. Timbaland adds embellishments such as synths and horns to give it its futuristic feel, according to Rolling Stone. We’re sure it would have had quite the fascinating music video. Listen to "Blue Gangsta" here.

What do you think? Both tracks are more interesting than compelling and don’t compare to “Love Never Felt So Good,” Jackson’s track with Justin Timberlake that came out last week and debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Xscape” comes out May 13.

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