Michael Stipe pays tribute to New Orleans
R.E.M. continues to give fans sneak peeks into “Collapse Into Now,” the group’s March 8 album. Today, we get “Oh My Heart,” which premiered on NPR. And listening to it makes me feel like a big old crank. The ballad is about New Orleans, post Katrina, and opens (and then quickly abandons the idea) with mournful horns, straight out of a Crescent City dirge.
As Michael Stipe told NPR, “It's a very quiet and very meditative song dedicated to New Orleans — about New Orleans. Jacknife [Lee] is great as a producer, because he saw that we were struggling with what is a very quiet song. We were standing really far away from each other in the room, and it was hard not only to actually physically hear each other, but it felt dispersed. He brought us into the middle, and instantly, of course, the song worked.”
Will she debut single on the Grammys?
Little Monsters, mark your calendars: Lady Gaga’s new album, “Born This Way” will come out May 23, 2011.
Mama Monster herself tweeted the news over the weekend on her website, www.ladygaga.com. Fans had been hoping for an earlier release date since Lady Gaga has been talking up the new album since this summer, when she debuted a few songs including “You and I,” a piano-based ballad.
The album will be preceded by the title track, which will come out just in time for Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Feb. 13...which, by the way, is the same day as the Grammys. We’re just saying...
We don’t know if it will be the album art (if so, we can all expect a Wal Mart freakout), but there’s a photo of someone from the back, whom we figure is Lady Gaga, in a jeans jacket with “Born This Way,” nude from the waist down on her website. A unicorn, LG? Really?
As we reported earlier, Gaga told the BBC backstage at a London show in December that the album is "a marriage of electronic music with major, epic, dare I even say, metal or rock 'n' roll, pop, anthemic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats."
Lady Gaga’s last album, “The Fame Monster,” was the top-selling album on the planet in 2010, according to Media Traffic’s United World Chart, moving 5.8 million units.
Where do Kanye West, Lady Antebellum and Vampire Weekend finish?
As we count down the hours to the end of 2010, hereâ€™s one last look back at the albums that kept me smiling throughout the year. By their very nature, such lists are subjective and Iâ€™m sure there will be readers that hated some of the albums on this list as much as I loved them. But such lists are also often about the thrill of discovery and the thought of shining the light on a perhaps overlooked gem.
My colleague Katie Hasty posted her excellent Top 10 here. Check that out as well.
1) â€œBroken Bells,â€ Broken Bells:Â Danger Mouse and The Shinsâ€™ James Mercer create a beautiful, melancholy blend of synthesizers and acoustic instrumentation and sorrow all woven together in a beautiful effort. We almost hope it remains a one-off as the journey feels complete with this one, at times transcendent, effort.
2) â€œMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,â€ Â Kanye West: Take one of musicâ€™s most controversial and talented figures and see what happens when he rips his psyche open for all to see. West canâ€™t hide his demons and they all join him here in living color and sheer brilliance. Heâ€™s one of the few artists whose self-indulgence is as compelling as it is narcissistic.
3) â€œSigh No More,â€ Â Â Mumford and Sons: British folk rock acolytes brought the beauty and the bite with their debut. The acoustic quartet ties its disparate influences together through inspired thumping on all manner of stringed instruments, including guitars, mandolins, banjos and dobros. Hit single, â€œLittle Lion Man,â€ is just the tip of the iceberg here.
4) â€œArchandroid,â€ Janelle Monae:Â Sheâ€™s a chameleon who shifts shapes and musical styles with tremendous, seemingly effortless ease. On â€œArchandroid,â€ sheâ€™s retro and futuristic, pop, funk and punk all at once. Fascinating.
5) â€œUp on the Ridge,â€ Dierks Bentley: Pretty country boy veers away from the mainstream to make a bluegrass flavored album that has as much heart as it does talent. He smartly surrounds himself by real deals likeÂ Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and Del McCoury, whose haunting high-lonesome singing on Bentleyâ€™s cover of U2â€™s â€œPride (In the Name of Love)â€ is the albumâ€™s centerpiece.
6) â€œNeed You Now,â€ Lady Antebellum:Â This co-ed country trio avoided the sophomore slump and how with its second album that built on the flawless harmonies and strong melodies from its debut. The title track was one of the best songs of the year of any genre. To be sure, calling Lady A the country equivalent of Fleetwood Mac is a bit much, but they sure do make loving (music) fun.
7) â€œContra,â€ Â Vampire Weekend: Smart, literate rock that doesnâ€™t overreach its ambitions, but never panders to the lowest common denominator.Â Plus, Vampire Weekendâ€™s music is often infused with a joy missing in so much smart rock. Having said that, after its usage in the ubiquitous Honda commercial,Â Iâ€™m not sure I ever need to hear â€œContraâ€ track â€œHolidayâ€ again.
8) â€œThe Union,â€ Elton John and Leon Russell: An album made for all the right reasons: Johnâ€™s desire to lift up his mentor and musical hero to past heights, bolstered by no pretense of pandering to radio. Worth the price of admission for the keyboard shoot-outs and Neil Youngâ€™s appearance on the beautiful â€œGone to Shilohâ€ alone.
9) â€œCount Yard Hounds,â€ Â Court Yard Hounds: This album, from Dixie Chicksâ€™ sibs Martie Maguire and Emily Robison disappeared without making much of a sound (to paraphrase one of the albumâ€™s stronger tracks), which is a shame given its understated loveliness. From the Southern California loveliness of â€œThe Coastâ€ to the heartbreaking stomp of â€œAinâ€™t No Sonâ€ and Robisonâ€™s confessional divorce tunes, the album was a subtle joy.
10) â€œI Learned the Hard Way,â€ Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: These funk/soul lovers just keep getting better. They pay homage to their R&B forefathers and much of their sound can be directly traced back to acts like James Brown or Mavie Staples, but Jones and the Dap Kings still create their own shimmering, irresistible blend. And, as they say, imitation is the sincerely form of flattery.
Runners Up:Â Arcade Fireâ€™s â€œThe Suburbs,â€ Black Keysâ€™ â€œBrothers,â€ Bruce Springsteenâ€™s â€œThe Promise,â€ Sadeâ€™s â€œSoldier of Love,â€ Jamey Johnsonâ€™s â€œThe Guitar Song,â€ and The Nationalâ€™s â€œHigh Violet.â€
Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Rihanna and Pink also end year with a smile
The top of the Hot 100 remains explosive as Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” replaces Katy Perry’s “Firework” at No. 1.
Not only does Mars get bragging rights to the last chart topper for 2010, but he also becomes the first male solo acts since 1997 to have his first two singles got to No. 1, according to Billboard. The last time that happened was with Puff Daddy with “No Time” and “Can’t Hold Nobody Down.” “Grenade” is still picking up steam at both radio and as a singles seller, meaning it could settle in at No. 1 for another week.
“Firework” fizzles to No. 2, while Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” rises 5-3, Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” slips 4-3 and Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” falls 4-5.
Rounding out the top 10 are Wiz Khalifa with his first foray in the upper reaches with “Black and Yellow,” which lands at No. 6, Enrique Iglesias’ “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” rises to No. 7, Trey Songz’ “Bottom Up” is No. 8, Black-Eyed Peas’ “The Time (Dirty Bit)” is No. 9 and Bruno Mars shows up again at No. 10 as “Just the Way You Are” drops 6-10.
The highest chart debut belongs to The Lonely Island’s exuberant “I Just Had Sex” with Akon, featured as a digital short on Dec. 18’s “Saturday Night Live.”
Vampires, dead bodies and necrophilia, oh my...
What have she, Dr. Luke and Max Martin cooked up now?
Hey y’all, Britney Spears had promised us she’d unveil her new single by Christmas, but it looks like we’ll have it right after Epiphany (that’s Jan. 6, by the way), instead.
The new track, “Hold It Against Me” (and we can only imagine what “it” is here) bows on Jan. 7, according to Entertainment Weekly. Sharon Dastur, program director for New York pop radio station Z-100, told EW that the song, produced by Dr. Luke and Max Martin, features a beat that is “really unique compared to other artists - this infectious bass beat beneath the song. Plus, the hook is just amazing."
The track will be the first single off of Spears’ still untitled March studio album, which we talk more about here.
Are you looking forward to Britney's return?
DJ Earworm creates a video montage of Billboard's biggest hits
Looking for a quick way to recap the year in pop or for a fun parlor game for your New Year’s Eve party or a way to combat cabin fever if you’re still snowed in?
Watch the below video and see how many of the 25 tunes you can name. We present DJ Earworm’s “United State of Pop 2010,” in which the mash-up artist takes the top 25 songs on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart and condenses them into a five-minute Cliff’s Notes version of the year--but it’s a lot more entertaining. He mainly uses Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” and Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” as the backdrops, giving mighty short shrift to Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” but he still manages to get Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” in there amid a sea of dance-oriented songs from the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. If you follow the European charts, Earworm has also created some fun versions for you to watch.
As we noted in out Top Singles list here, pop music came roaring back in all its forms in 2010, providing us with some of the most disposable, yet lovable, songs in years.
It's her planet, we just live here
So Lady Gaga really does rule the world: "The Fame Monster" was the top selling album in the world in 2010, according to Media Traffic's United World Chart, a German website that tallies these things. The set sold 5.8 million copies in 2010. Here's the sad thing: we remember not too long ago when that would have been the tally for U.S. sales alone in a year, not including the rest of the planet. We don't know how verifiable their numbers are, but it's good party chatter if nothing else. It also shows how, and this is no surprise, but how dominant and exportable American music remains around the world... and how crazy popular Michael Buble, whose "Crazy Love," logs in at No. 8 is.
Below is the top 10 list.
1. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster – 5.8 million
2. Eminem, Recovery – 5.7 million
3. Justin Bieber, My World + My World 2.0 – 5.6 million
4. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now – 3.6 million
5. Taylor Swift, Speak Now – 3.5 million
6. Susan Boyle, The Gift - 3 million
7. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D. – 3 million
8. Michael Buble, Crazy Love – 3 million
9. Sade, Solider Of Love – 2.3 million
10. Alicia Keys, The Element Of Freedom – 2.3 million
Former Oasis members prep for March 8 debut
Move along, nothing to see here. So it is with “Four Letter Word,” the first video from Beady Eye,” the new Noel-Gallagher-less remains of Oasis.
Amid a psychedelic wash, we watch the group—composed of Liam Gallagher, Andy Bell, Gem Archer and Chris Sharrock— in full shoegazer mode, complete with wearing sunglasses to perform in the dark. It’s 1999 all over again.
But what about the song? With its cascading, ominous guitar lines, straight-ahead drumming and Gallagher’s world-weary vocal delivery “Four-Letter Word” is straight out a James Bond movie (in fact, it would make a great theme with the "Nothing ever lasts forever" refrain). We don’t like it as much as the fun, spunky “Bring the Light,” and it doesn’t have the razor-sharp ennui that some of Oasis’s best material possessed, but it grows more infectious with repeated listenings. Sorry the same thing can’t be said about the video.
Beady Eye’s debut, “Different Gear, Still Speeding,” comes out March 8.
Holiday titles from Susan Boyle, 'Glee' and Jackie Evancho continue sales streak
Christmas keeps on giving long after the Dec. 25 actually passes. For years, the week after Christmas has often been the biggest total sales week of the year because people have gift cards and holiday cash burning a hole in their pocket. Snow storms may slow sales for a bit, but look for the next two weeks to have strong sales.