Some people ask WWJD--What Would Jesus Do-- as a guide to their actions. KT Tunstall has WWPSD and WWCHD? That would be What Would Patti Smith Do and What Would Chrissie Hynde Do?
The rock legends represent her tent poles as to how the Scottish singer/songwriter wants to guide her own career. And itâ€™s serving her just fine so far,TYVM (thank you very much).
Tunstallâ€™sÂ third album, â€œTiger Suit,â€ come out on Virgin Records today and itâ€™s a Tigger-sized bounce forward for the artist. She combines her largely acoustic instrumentation with dance and electronic textures for a sound she calls â€œnature techno.â€ Works for us. Read our review here.
The mainly upbeat album is fronted by first single, â€œFade Like a Shadow,â€ a bouncy uplifting track about a sad subject matter---moving on from a love. It is easily as catchy as her previous hits â€œBlack Horse and the Cherry Treeâ€ and â€œSuddenly I See.â€
The album title comes from a recurring dream that Tunstall had as a child where she would go outside and fearlessly play with a tiger in her yard. She realized that maybe she was a tiger too. Putting on her â€œTiger Suit,â€ now, as Tunstall puts it, is â€œabout the cojonesâ€ to do what you believe.Â It also described the â€œmetaphorical suitâ€ she puts on stage.
As she grew more successful--her debut album, â€œEye to the Telescope,â€ sold 1.3 million in the U.S.-- Tunstall realized she was wearing the suit all the time, even when she needed to be vulnerable, such as when she was writing. â€œMy psychologist friend calls it â€˜zippering up your aura.â€™ It means youâ€™re not letting anyone damage you, but youâ€™re also not letting too much of yourself let go,â€ even when you need too. Now, sheâ€™s learned to take off her aura and tiger suit and strip herself bare when sheâ€™s writing. â€œThatâ€™s done at home with a cardigan with a shot of whiskey,â€ she says. â€œI go way Hemingway when I write.â€
For â€œTiger Suit,â€ she unzipped herself and wrote songs that had her â€œfired up,â€ when it came time to get back into the studio. She also paired with such writers as Linda Perry, best known for her work with Christina Aguilera and Pink, and Greg Kurstin, who was Grammy nominated for his work with Lily Allen. She also worked with past collaborators Martin Terefe and Jimmy Hogarth. â€œMost of the singles youâ€™ve had in the U.S. are all songs Iâ€™ve written on my own,â€ she says. â€œIâ€™m very proud of that, but at the same time, Iâ€™ve realized the richness of writing with someone else. It really takes you to places youâ€™d never go on your own.â€
One place Tunstall will never go--on her own or with others-- is to prance around scantily clad like many other female artists. in fact, Tunstall recently found herself embroiled in a mini-scandal when she told Britainâ€™s Daily Record that Shakiraâ€™s explicit, sexual video for â€œShe Wolf,â€ â€œshocked me and I am not easily shocked...It is shocking, but it seems they need to shock to get attention.â€
She plays down the riff a few months later, as she talks to Hitfix. She says sheâ€™s never been pushed by her label to sex up her image like it seems so many current female artists are.Â â€œI think they know better than to bother trying,â€ she says. â€œThey knew what they were getting when they signed me. I was 27 when I was signed. I was less malleable.â€
Tunstall followed up â€œEye of the Telescopeâ€ with 2007â€™s â€œDrastic Fantastic,â€ which failed so capture as large an audience. But Tunstall doesnâ€™t measure her success by album sales. In a statement sure to make her label blanch, she says, â€œIf I never sold another record, but could still play gigs, Iâ€™d be happy.â€
She goes one step further: â€œIf someone said to me you can make music and record music for as long as you want, but never be able to play music for people again, I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™d do it...A song isnâ€™t finished for me until I share it.â€
... And why we'll never see her writhing around like a 'She Wolf'
Some people ask WWJD--What Would Jesus Do-- as a guide to their actions. KT Tunstall has WWPSD and WWCHD? That would be What Would Patti Smith Do and What Would Chrissie Hynde Do?
Killers' lead singer surrounds himself with spectral images and fire
We’re not so crazy about the song, but we love Brandon Flowers’ new video for “Only the Young" from his solo album, "Flamingo."
The clip features The Killers’ Flowers in a tuxedo as he gets transported from scene to scene. At one moment, he’s in a ring of fire, next he seems to have stepped into a ghostly Cirque du Soleil production. He often looks very afraid, rightfully so. (Ah, we see at the production credits at the end that the Sophie Mueller-directed video was filmed at Le Reve at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Very fitting for this Vegas-based boy.)
Other times, he’s in the middle of a kaleidoscope or about to be transported off into a parallel universe where lead singers of successful bands determined to also have solo careers get whisked away to live happily with each other and play Mick Jagger’s " Wandering Spirit" over and over.
It's a gorgeous, sumptuous clip that feels dreamy in all the right ways.
No, we're not pulling a prank on you
Justin Bieber will soon become even more of a fixture on MTV as a deal to revitalize “Punk’d,” with the Bieb as host, is in its final stages.
“Punk’d,” as you may recall, is the brainchild of Ashton Kutcher and his partner Jason Goldberg, and it featured celebrities getting pranked all captured on film... sort of like a modern day “Candid Camera.” The original went off the air in 2008 after running four years.
The new show, according to Deadline.com which broke the news, has been in discussions with Bieber as host since this summer, with a probable launch next year.
We contacted MTV, who issued a “no comment,” which, as you know, is not a denial, In fact, from what we understand from our sources, in this case, it's pretty close to a confirmation that this is happening.
Is it a good move for the Bieb? Why not? His fans will love his puckish little sense of humor and we bet all the pranks are G-rated and fairly good spirited. We living in the days where such a show does nothing to hurt his music career and everything to boost his Q rating. More as it develops.
What do you think of the title track to her new album?
Take Taylor Swiftâ€™s â€œYou Belong With Meâ€ and age everyone 10 years or so and youâ€™re got â€œSpeak Now.â€Â Thematically, that is.
â€œSpeak Now,â€ the title track to Swiftâ€™s Oct. 25 album, debuted on iTunes today, as one song from the album will for the next three weeks. Hear it here.
â€œSpeak Now,â€ like â€œYou Belong With Me,â€ carries on the story of a girl who knows the boy of her dreams should be with her instead of the shrew heâ€™s chosen. But this time, instead of her boy squiringÂ the other girl to a school dance or Halloween carnival, heâ€™s meeting her at the end of a church aisle.
Taking a page from the ending of â€œThe Graduate,â€ Swift interrupts the nuptials, although it may all be a fantasy.Â
Musically, the song is a departure for Swiftâ€™s other singles, in that it features a stripped down production through the first verse with the focus on her voice, which sounds pretty good here (and returns to the guitar accompaniment throughout the song). Thereâ€™s nothing remotely country about the mid-tempo track, although we have a feeling country radio will eat it up. Swift wrote all the songs on â€œSpeak Nowâ€ by herself, unlike on her previous two albums. The tune shows she clearly needs no help with lyrics, but she musically she could use some help diversifying. Her songs tend to stay in the same mid-tempo pocket with each striking a similar sound.
We also see a not-so- sweet side of Americaâ€™s sweetheart when she sings, â€œI sneak in and see your friends and her snotty little family all dressed in pastel and she is yelling at a bridesmaid somewhere back inside a room in a gown shaped like a pastry.â€ OK, regardless of what you think about Tay Tay, thatâ€™s a pretty good line. We can't wait to see her claws come out more.
We canâ€™t quite figure out if sheâ€™s starting to work a bit of a stalker streak into her songs, but sheâ€™s beginning to sound a little bit like the girl who lives in her own fantasy world with lots of cats and stuffed animals, each of which she calls by name. Weâ€™re sure the video will explain it all.
As we've reported before, each song on "Speak Now"Â is about an event in Swift's life. Swift tells Glamour, "Everything that happens to me gets put into a song," Swift explained. "For some reason, I'm really comfortable talking about my personal life in songs. There, I don't hold back: names, dates, times, expressions on people's faces, exactly where we were and how it felt, what I wish I would have said to them in the moment."
Scottish singer/songwriter turns up the beat on third album
Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall remains best known in the U.S. for her hits, “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See” from her multi-platinum debut, 2004’s “Eye to the Telescope.” But that could change with “Tiger Suit,” her third album, out Oct. 4.
“Tiger Suit,” so named after a recurring childhood dream of Tunstall’s about seeing a tiger in her garden, blends her established acoustic roots with dance textures for an overall upbeat throbbing album. Though it may be a bid to make her sound more contemporary (especially after her second album stalled in the U.S.), the surprise is it works in a totally organic way.
First single, “Fade Like a Shadow” a bouncy track about the end of a relationship, is climbing Billboard’s Triple A chart. It stands as the catchiest song on “Tiger Suit,” but is far from its only top tapper.
Tunstall announces that there’s a new girl in town with album opener, “Uummannaq Song,” which pulses with world music rhythms and backing vocals (The singalong backing vocals return on the aggressive "Madame Trudeaux"). From there, she propels into “Glamour Puss,” a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Adele or Duffy record (or Peter, Bjorn and John, given all the whistling). She also bares a striking resemblance to ingrid Michaelson on a number of cuts.
Tunstall turned to Linda Perry and The Bird & The Bee’s Greg Kurstin (also known for his work with Lily Allen) to co-write with her for “Tiger Suit” and they’ve kept her work tight and punchy. Producer Jim Abbiss, who has worked with Adele and Arctic Monkey, among others, focuses on Tunstall’s lilting soprano in a way that hasn’t always been evident in past albums, especially on the mid-tempo “Difficulty,” which is a awash with synthesizers.
The album’s most endearing track has to be “(Still a) Weirdo,” the first single in the U.K., in which Tunstall declares, in a gently swaying way, that she’s still a weirdo after all these years. Thank goodness for that.
Show airs on Oct. 12
Nicki Minaj was the big winner at the BET Hip Hop Awards on Saturday. The show, which will air Oct. 12 at 8 p.m., honors the biggest acts in Hip Hop through a variety of often oddly-named awards.
For example, even though she has yet to release a full album, Minaj took home Rookie of the year award, as well as the People’s Champ award and the Made You Look Award which is given to the most fashion forward artist. She deserves that one for her wigs alone. Minaj’s debut album, “Pink Friday,” comes out Nov. 23.
Perhaps forgetting the women who have come before her, such as Missy Elliott, Lil Kim and Queen Latifah, Minaj said, “I’m paving the way for girls,” according to MTV. “I want to thank all the girls of hip hop.” To be fair, we have been in a tremendously fallow period for women in the genre, so we’re hoping that Minaj’s success ushers in a new era. Minaj’s “Your Love” was the first song by an unaccompanied female solo artist to top the Billboard Rap Songs chart in eight years.
The night’s other big winner at the Atlanta ceremony was Jay-Z, who won three awards: He and Alicia Keys shared the Perfect Combo award for “Empire State of Mind,” which he captured CD of the year for “The Blueprint 3” and best live performer.
Other key winners included Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, Diddy and DJ Khaled. Salt-N-Pepa won the I Am Hip-Hop award.
KT Tunstall, Fistful of Mercy and Avett Bros. also bring new offerings
New albums from an “American Idol,” a country superstar, a group composed of three well-known solo artists, and a star in the making are Oct. 5’s top offerings. David Archuleta tries his hand at pop radio again as Toby Keith, Fistful of Mercy and Bruno Mars all release new efforts. Joining the release-week fun are the Avett Bros., with a live set, Travis’s Fran Healy and guitar god Joe Satriani.
David Archuleta, “The Other Side of Down” (19/Jive): “American Idol” finalist comes back and shows off his songwriting chops: the 19-year old penned 10 of the 12 songs on the pop effort. Read more here.
Avett Brothers, “Live, Vol. 3” (American/Columbia): North Carolina band of brothers (okay, two brothers) turns in a live set full of vibrant, roots rock American, recorded during a 2009 show in Charlotte, N.C., down the road from their hometown of Concord.
Finger Eleven, “Life Turns Electric” (Wind-Up): Rock band follow ups 2007 “Them vs. You vs. Me” with a 10-track set recorded in New York. First single, “Living in a Dream,” is No. 20 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and rising.
Fistful of Mercy, “As I Call You Down” (Hot/Vagrant): New group composed of Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison comes together for a folk-based set with soothing harmonies.
Guster, “Easy Wonderful” (Aware/Universal): Boston rockers release their sixth album full of easy-going, shimmering melodies. Plus, they perform in their long underwear in the video for delicious, ringing first single, “Do You Love Me?” What’s not to love?
Fran Healy, “Wreckorder” (Ryko): Travis frontman gets some pretty nifty guests on his latest solo project: Paul McCartney and Neko Case.
Toby Keith, “Bullets in the Gun” (Show Dog Nashville/Universal): Country superstar unloads another set of tunes about what it means to be country, including the tongue-in-cheek salute to life in the trailer park, first single “Trailerhood.”
Leland Sundries, “The Apothecary EP” (L’Echiquier): Brooklyn indie act’s debut recalls Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen fronting a lo-fi Americana band complete with smart, literate lyrics.
Bruno Mars, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” (Elektra): First he had success producing other folks, then appearing as a featured artist on such records as B.o.B.’s “Nothin‘ On You” and now (drug charges aside), Mars seems poised to unhitch his wagon to other people’s dreams and make his own come true if first single, the smooth No. 1 smash “Just the Way You Are” is any indication.
Joe Satriani, “Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards” (Epic): Guitarist extraordinaire, who is now part of Chickenfoot, along with Sammy Hagar, returns to his solo roots for his 14th studio album.
The Corin Tucker Band, “1,000 Years” (Kill Rock Stars): Slater-Kinney’s co-founder, Corin Tucker, steps out for for a solo record with a little help from Unwound’s Sara Lund and Golden Bears’ Seth Lorinczi. Tucker described the music as a “middle-aged mom record.” We just call it rawwwk.
KT Tunstall, “Tiger Suit” (Virgin): Scottish lass’s third album combines her familiar acoustic rock with some electronic textures for a completely contemporary sounds. She also gets some help in the songwriting department from Linda Perry and The Bird & The Bee’s Greg Kurstin.
And we'll throw in a 'Kenny Chesney: Greatest Hits ll'
We’ve got four copies of Kenny Chesney’s brand new album, “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” autographed by Kenny, and four copies of “Greatest Hits II” to give away.
“Hemingway’s Whiskey,” which is garnering Chesney some of the best reviews of his career, is a lock to come in at No. 1 on next week’s Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums. The set contains “Boys of Fall,” Chesney’s 18th No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. And you can have it for free!
Since Chesney’s first No. 1 in 1997, no other artist has landed as many No. 1s (other than Tim McGraw, who also has 18) on the Billboard country charts.
Chesney’s “Greatest Hits II” includes such smashes as “Out Last Night,” “Young,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” and “I Go Back.”
Here’s how you enter:
1) If you aren’t already doing to, sign up to follow Hitfix on Twitter and Melinda Newman on Twitter by clicking on the links and friend Hitfix on Facebook.
2) Send an email to Melinda@hitfix.com with the following information:
*The name of Kenny Chesney’s first No. 1 single on the Billboard country charts
*Your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and email address
The first four folks to do the above correctly, will receive the autographed copy of “Hemingway’s Whiskey” and “Greatest Hits II.”
Will it make it into your stocking?
We’re normally adverse to artists trying to create new holiday songs as they always fall flat and we count on one hand the number of really great Christmas songs that have been written since, oh, 1940 (that would be the year that Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas.”
However, Mariah Carey has decided to deliver a little Christmas bundle early (she’s still keeping mum on that other bundle she supposedly has going on) with “Oh Santa!,” from “Merry Christmas II You.”
The song is one of six(!!) originals on the set, Carey’s second (obviously) holiday collection created especially for her little lambs. It follows 1994’s “Merry Christmas,” which featured the new standard “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (we can’t hear that song without thinking of “Love Actually.”)
“Oh Santa” is a fast-paced little ditty about Santa checking his list and deciding to make you mine for Xmas because I can be both naughty and nice. It opens with a “Hey Mickey”-type chant before giving way to a hand-clapper that recalls the Motown-era (sped up a little). We wish she’d held off on the high notes at the end, but they’re in the background so you can try to ignore them. It must be in her contract that she has to do the dog-whistle, high-pitched stuff at least once an album.
Eminem surges ahead, while Katy Perry is just right
Only a few years ago, she was a train wreck. Now Britney Spears is an unstoppable locomotive. Tuesday night’s Spears’-themed “Glee” episode was the highest-rated episode in the show’s history among 18-49 year olds. The cast-version of “Toxic” soars up the iTunes chart, as does the six-pack of tunes from the show.