Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, and his white pants kick off the World Cup

Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, and his white pants kick off the World Cup

J-Lo puts in her five minutes to perform 'We Are One'

A swath of colorful dancers, drummers and Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Claudia Leitte kicked off Fifa's  World Cup in Brazil yesterday with their weak  anthem “We Are One.”

They lip-synced for five minutes and then it was over. And let’s take a minute to note that Pitbull gets to show up in a yellow soccer shirt and white pants rolled up in an outfit it probably took 60 seconds to throw on (and he’s being made fun of today in the Twitterverse), while both Lopez and Leitte are in skimpy leotards, full hair and make up and heels, as if they’ve been relegated to back up dancers (especially when Leitte resorts to tweaking to get her fellow Brazilians to act as if they care).  The world has never seemed quite as unfair as seeing the three of them standing together.

So after Lopez practically caused an internationally incident by saying she wasn’t coming to the opening and then reversing her decision, she showed up, did her part with professionalism and was probably back on her way to the U.S. before Brazil scored its first goal in its win over Croatia.


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Grammy Awards

Why the Grammy Awards only got it half right with the new sampling rule

Plus, two other changes we'd make to the Grammys

The Grammy Awards governing body, the Recording Academy, has never been one to make rash decisions when it comes to modifying the awards procedure, so here, in 2014, they have made a major decision regarding sampling: Starting with the Feb. 8, 2015 Grammy Awards, songs that include samples or interpolations of previously written songs will be allowed in all songwriting categories, including the coveted Song of the Year.

Is this a good decision? I’m not so sure. In some ways, the Grammys are so cautious in making changes that they miss the cultural significance of that musical moment (and that is partially the Grammys’ point: they aren’t meant to bow to trends or fads).

On the plus side, this is simply an acknowledgement that a new, creative work that stands on its own that uses a sample to add some zing or to salute an influence, shouldn’t be exempt because of the sample. That’s throwing the baby out with the bath water to  automatically exclude such a song.

On the other hand, some songs use the sample as the entire basis for the tune and the rest is built out from the sample. I’m not so sure those songs should eligible. If I were on the Board of Trustees, I would have voted to  allow sampling and interpolations, but I would have put a cap on the percentage of the song that can be the sample at no more than 15% (or something like that).  Songwriting is too precious and too valuable an art to not reward the songwriters who are still practicing it each year with no outside assistance.  On the other hand, the nice thing is that should a song based on a sample win a songwriting Grammy, the writers of that sample who contributed to the success of the new song that will also be recognized for their contribution.

Previously, samples or interpolations were allowed in only Best Rep Song since that genre is so reliant on samples. Now, the permission extends to Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best R&B Song, Best Country Song, Best Gospel Song, Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, Best American Roots Song, and Best Song Written for Visual Media.

Among the other changes:

*Best American Roots Performance category has been added
*The Dance/Electronica field and category have been renamed Dance/Electronic
*Best Pop Instrumental Album has been renamed Best Pop Contemporary Instrumental Album
*Best Classical Vocal Solo (album or tracks) becomes the album-only Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
*The guideline for Best Alternative Music Album has been refined  as “recordings that take as a starting point any existing musical genre or combination of genres and expand and redefine the boundaries of those genres.” Here’s another place where I disagree with the Academy. I would have totally renamed this category. The word “Alternative” is too closely associated with the alternative radio format, when, if you look at the nominees from past years, that is not what this category is about. Calling the Grammy category “Alternative” only causes unnecessary confusion, especially given, as the Grammy guidelines state, “though there may be considerable overlap with the Alternative radio format, this category is not intended to mirror it.” This was their chance and they didn’t take it…

I would have also made a significant change in the Best New Artist category: To be eligible now, an artist must have released at least one, but not more than three, albums. In the age of mix tapes and long lasting singles, it seems unwise that the rule hasn’t been switched to eliminate the album criteria. For example, Bruno Mars didn’t qualify for Best New Artist  in 2010 (the awards were presented in February 2011)  because his first album, “Doo Wop and Hooligans,” came out after the Sept. 30, 2010 cut off, despite his already blowing up at radio from his appearance on B.o.B.’s “Beautiful Girls” and his own hit, “Just The Way You Are,”  and showing signs of developing into  the tremendous talent he’s become. By the next year, it was too late to nominate him for Best New Artist because he’d won for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Just The Way You Are.”   When people look back at the Best New Artist nominees and see he didn’t make it (Lady Gaga was also never eligible for a technicality that has sense been amended), the Grammys will look foolish. Time to made another amendment.

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Sam Smith

11 Must-See Acts at Bonnaroo

From A$AP Ferg to Sam Smith, the acts you can't miss in Manchester

The 13th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival kicks off today in Manchester, Tenn. As usual, there’s something for everything across the 700-acre farms’s multiple stages--except for Outkast fans-- it's one of the few festivals the reunited duo is skipping. If you’re having trouble figuring out who to see, you can’t go wrong with this list of 11 acts. For the most part, we stayed away from recommending the main headliners since you can make you own mind up on those famous names.  The acts are listed in order of their time slot.

Real Estate
June 12, 7:30 p.m.

Ease into Bonnaroo with a nice set by a this guitar driven indie band from New Jersey, who are sure to deliver an uplifting, care-free set. They may have tackled some darker issues on new album, “Atlas,” but there’s still an unquenchable lilt to what they do.

Sam Smith
June 13, 2:15 p.m.

Chances are good the British crooner will join Disclosure for its set later Friday night, but if you miss that, check out his solo set where he will dazzle you with his strong voice and confessional tales of heartbreak.

Janelle Monae
June 13, 5:30 p.m.

Monae is the complete package. She is a great singer and a great dancer and she puts a premium on entertaining as she skittles across the stage in her black and white outfits. Go to Wondaland with her. You'll be glad you did.

June 13, 11:30 p.m.

If you’ve had a little too much of the acoustic, hippie vibe, then go get your head twisted around a few times by metal band Mastadon, who are sure to be the loudest act at the festival. Be among the first to catch songs from the Metallica-influenced band’s “Once More ‘Round The Sun,” which comes out June 24.

June 14, 12 a.m.

The British electronic duo, Guy and Howard Lawrence, have their breakthrough hit in  “Latch,” featuring Sam Smith in the U.S., but they’ve already had a slew of hits in the U.K. and were big on the festival circuit last year. In their first Bonnaroo appearance, expect lots of songs from their No. 1 U.K. album, “Settle,” and lots of dancing. It will probably be very crowded.

Chance The Rapper
June 14, 2:30 a.m.

If you didn’t catch him on tour with Childish Gambino a while OK or guesting on a slew of other artists’ tracks, here’s your chance to see the Chicago rapper, who draws from diverse influences that span genres and generations, while his star is still ascending.

First Aid Kit
June 14, 3 p.m.

Lovely Americana music courtesy of two Swedish sisters. There are a lot worst ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than listening to their golden harmonies.

Lionel Richie
June 14, 8 p.m.

We’re staying away from recommending top headliners for the most part, but for the past several years some of shows people are buzzing about afterwards come from the WTF veterans, like Kenny Rogers two years ago (who Richie joined on stage) or  … If you want a break from the up-and-comers and hip acts and want to dance all night long to hear wall-to-wall hits (and to dance on the ceiling), then satisfaction is guaranteed at Richie’s show.

Carolina Chocolate Drops
June 15, 12:30 p.m.

They describe themselves as an old-time string band, but they are so much more. Rihannon Giddens’ pure voice has to be heard live to be believed and the sheer musicality of the quartet will take your breath away. You may have heard their song, “Daughter’s Lament” on “The Hunger Games” soundtrack.

A$AP Ferg
June 15, 4:15 p.m.

As if seeing  the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards recipient of Rookie of the Year confidently run through tracks from “Lords Never Worry” and “Trap Lord”  isn’t enough incentive, you have to imagine that other members of the A$AP Mob will show up.

Avett Bros.
June 15, 7 p.m.

They are good on record, but they are great live. Brothers Scott and Seth Avett, and band mates Joe Kwon and Bob Crawford create a lot of noise and it’s usually all harmony-filled and fun. Even if you don’t know the acoustic rock songs, you’ll still be singing and dancing along to many of the tracks. Why they aren’t as big as Mumford & Sons is unfathomable.


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Idina Menzel

'Frozen's' Idina Menzel scores high debut for new Broadway cast album, 'If/Then'

Highest charter since 'Rent' in 1996

Idina Menzel is a good luck charm for Broadway cast recordings.  The original cast album for “If/Then,” her current show, debuts at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 today.

That makes it the highest debut for a Broadway cast album since 1996 when “Rent,” which also starred Menzel, debuted at No. 19, according to Billboard. “If/Then” sold 15,000 copies in its first week, as opposed to “Rent’s” 43,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Only four original Broadway cast albums have hit the Top 20 in the last 30 years:  the other two didn’t star Menzel: “The Book of Mormon,” and “Dreamgirls.”

As much success Menzel has on Broadway, her greatest success has come in movie soundtracks:  Her Oscar-winning song “Let It Go,”  from “Frozen,” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the “Frozen” soundtrack  stayed No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for more than a dozen weeks.  It is this year’s top-selling album of 2014 so far, having sold 2.6 million copies since Jan. 1 (2.9 million total).

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Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy' continues to rule the charts

Sam Smith scores his first Top 10

Iggy Azalea continues to rule the Billboard Hot 100 as her first single, “Fancy,” featuring Charli XCX, holds at No. 1, and Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” on which she’s featured, stays at No. 2.

She’s not the only newcomer in the top 10: British singer Sam Smith, who wowed American audiences with his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this Spring, lands his first top 10 as his ballad, “Stay With Me,” rockets 19-10. And there’s more good news for Smith: Disclosure’s “Latch,” on which hs sings, rises 22-17. (His first Hot 100 appearance— as a guest on Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” falls to 41, after peaking at No. 19).

As for the rest of the top 10: John Legend’s “All of Me,” holds at No. 3, while DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What”  remains at No. 4.

Jason DeRulo’s “Wiggle,” featuring Snoop Dogg, shimmies 10-5. Pharrell WIlliams’ “Happy” slides 5-6. Canadian pop quartet’s “Magic” moves 8-7, while fellow newbies Nico & Vinz” falls 6-8 with “Am I Wrong.”  Calvin Harris’s “Summer” stays at No. 9.


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Brian Wilson

Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, Zooey Deschanel are on Brian Wilson's new album

Why this news is upsetting fans and what Wilson has to say about it


Brian Wilson’s new album features the Beach Boys legend collaborating with such artists as Kacey Musgraves, Lana Del Ray and Zooey Deschanel, as well as, possibly, Frank Ocean.

After Wilson broke the news on his website yesterday, citing an upcoming story in Rolling Stone, not all of his fans responded to the news positively. And that hurt Wilson’s feelings and made him mad.

Last night, he sent out a message— in total “Brianspeak” to the naysayers via Facebook:

To my fans: it kind of bums me out to see some of the negativity here about the album I’ve been working so hard on. In my life in music, I’ve been told too many times not to fuck with the formula, but as an artist it’s my job to do that – and I think I’ve earned that right.
I’m really proud of these new songs and to hear these great artists sing on them just blows me away. I love what we’ve done.
I would think that after making music for more than fifty years, my fans would understand that I’ll always do what’s in my heart – and I think that’s why you are my fans. So let’s just wait until the album comes out because I think you just might dig it as much as I do.
Love and Mercy, Brian

It’s hard not to agree with Wilson here. HIs fans haven’t even heard the music. While we’re sure he’d like to reach a younger fan base through these artists, his legacy is secure without having to resort to such tactics, so that probably isn’t the only reason for his reaching out. Plus, he also worked with such contemporaries as Jeff Beck (most likely before they went on tour together since Beck didn’t like how that turned out) and fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks on the new album, so he’s not pandering to a younger demographic. If his work with these acts helps a new generation learn about his music, then what’s the harm in that? No matter how old they are, every music fan needs to have “Pet Sounds” in his/her collection. It’s as essential as any Beatles album, so if singing with Lana Del Rey makes it happen and the song isn’t total schlock, why not?

No word yet on when the new album will be released.

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Members of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Off! form side group

When can you expect to hear music?


Members of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age and Off! have formed a new unnamed side project and have already recorded the basis for 10 songs.

The group is Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd, Soundgarden/Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron,  Off!’s Dimitri Coats, and Alain Johannes, best known for his work with QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures, and Eleven.

Coats will be the primarily vocalist, he told Billboard, with Johannes also contributing vocals. The ad-hoc group has Facebook to thank for its formation. Coats says he sent Cameron a Facebook note complimenting him on his drumming and Cameron wrote back that he was a big Coats fan and told him about a side project that he, Shepherd and Johannes started in 2008. Coats mentioned he’d love to be part of it and shortly thereafter jointed the guys in Seattle and began laying down tracks.

“ I think we’re all in situations in our band where we may not get to express ourselves fully the way we want to and this is an opportunity to let some of those other colors out in our songwriting,” said Coats, who describes the band’s music as “heavy and doomy…There’s some kind of heavy, bluesy moments and then there’s some really beautiful stuff too. It’s a little bit like ‘Superunknown,’ that kind of era of Soundgarden, mixed with Alain’s kind of Stevie Wonder vibe.”

No release date is planned, nor does Coats know when the band will finish recording as Off!, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden are all on the road this summer.

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Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Fallon

Jennifer Lopez threatens Jimmy Fallon in latest 'Tight Pants' episode

As if he ever stood a chance....

Jennifer Lopez might not be able to get herself to Brazil to perform at the opening ceremonies for the World Cup on Thursday, but she and her tight pants found their way to “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” last night.

In his latest episode of “Tight Pants,” Fallon squares off against J-Lo, and, as you can imagine, it’s no contest. The sweet, well-intentioned Fallon is so out of his league that even though Lopez threatens to “cut him” if he doesn’t let her be the tightest pants in town, she wins the minute she walks out.

“Tight Pans” debuted with Fallon and Will Farrell two years ago, but it never gets old. Who will be the next one to challenge Fallon?

Lopez's new album, "A.K.A.," comes out June 17.

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Puff Daddy

Puff Daddy is apparently a 'Game of Thrones' fan in new video, 'I Want The Love': Watch

Too much excess is never enough

If you’re going to lavish love on Puff Daddy, do him a favor and do it while he’s still here to hear your praise.

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Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj keeps it classy in 'Pills N Potions' video: Watch

Check out which rapper shows up for silent support


The re-birthing of Nicki Minaj as a class act—as opposed to the multi-colored cartoon mess we first met a few years ago — is complete with the video for “Pills N Potions,” released today.

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