The Beatles
Credit: Apple Corps Ltd.

Ron Howard to direct new Beatles documentary

Feature film will focus on the band's touring years

Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard will helm a new authorized documentary about The Beatles based on the early part of the Fab Four’s career.

The feature film, which has the full cooperation of surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, will focus on The Beatles’ early days at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England through their last public concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966. 

The Cavern Club was the small Liverpool venue where the Beatles played more than 200 times between 1961-1963 and were discovered by their manager Brian Epstein (the Quarrymen, the earlier version of The Beatles, started by Lennon and eventually joined by McCartney and Harrison, played their first gig at the vaunted club in 1957).  The film will include clips of home movies and photos captured by fans who were at the gigs.

“I am excited and honored to be working with Apple and the White Horse team on this astounding story of these four young men who stormed the world in 1964,” Howard said in a statement. “Their impact on popular culture and the human experience cannot be exaggerated.”  Apple is the entity that controls the Beatles' business ventures.

White Horse Pictures, the team behind the Emmy-winning Martin Scorsese’s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” HBO documentary, will produce the untitled film, along with Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer, and Howard.

No word on when the documentary will be released theatrically.



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Colbie Caillat

Welcome to the new Girl Power era from Colbie Caillat, Mary Lambert and more

Check out our 'Beautiful' playlist


In a time when a woman allowing herself to be photographed without make-up is often seen as a revolutionary and courageous act, there have been a number of videos/songs in the past week that serve as reminders that females don’t have to paint their faces, look like models, or have it together emotionally every moment to feel good about themselves.

Welcome to a new age of  Girl Power.

In Colbie Caillat’s “Try,” the singer/songwriter sings of her experience of always making sure she looked perfect—nails and hair done, right outfit— so people in the music industry would like her. The song serves as reminder to herself that she doesn’t have to try so hard; that people will respond to her authenticity. In the video, she expands the notion to women of different shapes and sizes, as they follow her lead by taking out their hair extensions (or wig) and removing their make up looking straight into the camera. Caillat sings the last part of the song with her face stripped bare—the ultimate sigh of vulnerability in today’s world.

In Mary Lambert’s “Secrets,” she reveals perceived flaw after flaw that she tries to keep hidden over an irrepressibly jaunty tune— whether it’s that she’s bi-polar, comes from a dysfunctional family, cries all day, is gay, is overweight…she has a catalog full. But her message it that we all have our secrets and keeping them locked away in a place of shame is far more damaging than letting them out.

Both these songs/videos are about women reclaiming their power by letting go of the messages that society pounds into us over and over that we are not good enough as we are and that there is always some unattainable goal —losing 5 more pounds, having longer eyelashes, going a shade blonde — that would make us acceptable to the world. Of course, every time someone meets that goal, the goal line moves.

Ideally, we teach these self-acceptance messages to ourselves and don’t need them to be validated externally, but sometimes they still seem more believable coming from the outside. For that, we got John Legend’s “You & I” video last week. The stirring clip opens with Legend waiting as his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, gets dressed. But then, as he sings that he loves her without all the bells and whistles and all the machinations she puts herself through for an evening out, the video broadens to females of all ages and ethnic groups looking into the camera as if it were a mirror as they examine their faces for flaws, putting their features under impossible-to-pass scrutiny. Pull the camera back and the video reveals women bald from cancer treatments, women who have undergone mastectomies, a lovely girl with Down Syndrome in a colorful dress. It’s a vivid reminder that beauty, despite the strictures that magazines, TV shows, films, and magazines put on it, does not come in a one-size-fits-package.

Finally— and it’s surprising it took so long—newcomers Maddie and Tae have countered all the bro-country songs that reduce women to a nameless (“girl” is not a name) stereotype, who wears tight jeans or a short skirt and cowboy boots and is very happy for the opportunity to ride shotgun in her boyfriend’s car. Main requirements are looking good, not having a first name, and keeping her mouth shut.  

But Maddie and Tae want none of that as they sing, “It ain’t easy being the girl in a country song. How in the world did it go so wrong. Like all we’re good for is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend, nothing more. We used to get a little respect, now we’re lucky if we even get to climb up in your truck, keep our mouths shut, ride along and be the girl in a country song.” Yeah, it might be time to aim a little higher.

The modern day patron saint for female empowerment in song is, of course, Beyonce. None of these songs have the strident feel of “Run The World (Girls)”; the message here is more akin to her song, “Pretty Hurts” and its lines, “We try to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see/It’s the soul that needs the surgery.” For the most part, these are reminders to be gentle to ourselves, not manifestos.

Will any of these songs ever change anything? I don’t know. It feels like they are mere drops of water into a pool spilling over with messages that we aren’t good enough as we are and they lose their potency. But maybe it’s simply good enough that they exist in the moment and for the moment. If watching the video for “Secrets” or “Try” makes a girl feel like she’s OK for the four minutes that clip lasts, maybe that’s the most we can hope for in this world that constantly and exhaustingly tells women  that they are not good enough as long as they have wrinkles, as long as they aren’t model thin, as long as they aren’t this or aren’t that. The message is delivered in surround sound and it is everywhere.

If I could, I would pipe the below playlist continuously  into every baby girl’s room so that from the minute she is born these songs counteract the images and messages that make her feel bad about herself. As she got older, any time some one made her feel less than, she could put the playlist on and hear a strong, powerful woman tell her that she is complete, she is everything she needs to be, and that she is enough.

By the time she got to middle school and high school and started dating, no boy, no peer pressure, and no societal norm could force her to be something that she is not just because the these positive message would have already taken hold and they would drown out the ones that tell her she can’t compete unless she conforms to a extremely narrow, impossible, unnecessary ideal.

And now we have several more entries to add to the list.  

"Beautiful" Playlist

“Beautiful,” Christina Aguilera
“I’m Beautiful,” Bette Midler
“Firework,” Katy Perry
“Roar,” Katy Perry
“Unpretty,” TLC
“This One’s for the Girls,” Martina McBride
“Unwritten,” Natasha Bedingfield
“Born This Way,” Lady Gaga”
“Stronger,” Kelly Clarkson
“Girl On Fire,” Alicia Keys
"Run The World (Girls)"


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Drake emulates JLo with his new album title

When can we expect his latest masterpiece?

Jennifer Lopez had “On The 6,” now Drake has  “Views From The 6.” That will be the title of his fourth studio album and follow up to 2013's "Nothing Was The Same."

The Toronto rapper confirmed the title today. As you may recall, in his new track “0 to 100/The Catch-Up,” which he released in June, he gave us an update on the goings on at OVO headquarters, as he ran down a list of his label’s artists who will have new sets coming out in Spring 2015, including himself.

Drake has a lot of his plate as Billboard notes: He hosts the ESPYS on ESPN tomorrow (16), two OVO artists, Majid Jordan and PartyNextDoor, will release albums July 29.

In August, OVO hosts its fifth festival in Toronto. Among the artists playing the Aug. 3-4 event are Drake and Outkast.  On Aug. 8, Drake goes on tour with Lil Wayne.

No word on what “Views From The 6” means, although speculation has been that it ties in with Toronto’s 416 area code.


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Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery takes a beach break in new video for 'Feelin' It'

'American Idol' winner heads for the surf in summertime ode

It feels like Scotty McCreery has grown up in front of our eyes since winning “American Idol” a few years ago. Now he’s hanging out in the beach with his buddies, enjoying the summer in his new video for “Feelin’ It.”

The summer ode is an easy, breezy track that has the great feeling of letting your cares go, but never resorts to bro country. It’s the perfect tune for the last half of summer.

McCreery shot the video in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the beautiful barrier islands that are very special to all  NC natives. Enjoy and don’t be surprised if you hear the roar of the surf and feel the sand between your toes. 

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Jack Antonoff

Album Review: Fun.'s Jack Antonoff travels back to the '80s for Bleachers' 'Strange Desire'

See if you don't pull out your Modern English and OMD albums next

As one-third of fun., Jack Antonoff gets to explore many facets of his pop sensibilities. On “Strange Desire,” the debut album from his side project, Bleachers,”  out Tuesday (15), he gets to indulge his quirkier side, and sing lead.

Even though Antonoff wasn’t born until 1984, “Strange Desire” is so awash in ‘80s sounds, from big, echo-y drums, to funky, jangly guitars, that it’s almost possible to take each song and come up with its ‘80s analog. Squiggly guitar riffs crash into each other, layered vocals soar over synths, and it feels like a dance party could break out on the street where you live at any moment. Bleachers could share a bill with Modern English, OMD, Oingo Boingo, The Cult, The Cure, and New Order. Opening track “Wild Heart” has a light-hearted, skipping keyboard similar to The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star,” before it gives way to walls of synths.

Antonoff has talked about wanting the album to have a John Hughes feel. And, indeed, a number of songs on here would have fit right in on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack— yearning inspirational first single, “I Wanna Get Better,” being one of the few that does not sound like Molly Ringwald’s Andi should be playing it in her bedroom while waiting for Andrew McCarthy’s Blaine to call.  

While much of the music is upbeat, the subject matter deals with loss, the immediate aftermath, and trying to overcome, learn from it and move on. Antonoff wrote many of the songs with producer John Hill, who worked with many of the acts Antonoff is emulating here, including Erasure and Yaz.

Antonoff is going for a mood here and while his themes may become slightly repetitive, he has created an immersive world where beats bounce like ping pong balls on obvious single, “Rollercoaster” (even when he suggest she suck on his little toe) and synth lines skitter in between drum beats on “Shadow.”

A few of the tracks reach the outer fringes and seem weird simply because no one is going to tell Antonoff that he can’t do something:  “I’m Ready To Move On/Wild Heart Reprise” sounds like Yoko Ono crossed with Tangerine Dream. There’s a good reason it sounds like Ono, since she is on the track (which is different somewhat from her similarly-titled “Double Fantasy” tune, “I’m Moving On”), and the track will likely appeal to only Ono fans. Organ-drenched, album closer “Who I Want You To Love,” which is largely instrumental with ambient voices in the background, feel extraneous  But to his credit, one thing “Strange Desire” never is is boring. If you’re not willing to step back in time, however, you might want to just wait for the next fun. album.



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The Ramones

How the Ramones changed my life

A late appreciation for Tommy Ramone


The Ramones changed my life. It seems incomprehensible that with drummer Tommy Ramone’s death on Friday (11) that all four of the original members are gone (none of them got out of their 50s other than Tommy). I was out of pocket for most of the weekend, but his passing is too significant not to observe it.

I was too young—and not cool enough— to get into their music when the foursome’s self-titled debut album came out in 1976.  I remember as I got older, seeing photos of them in their matching black bowl haircuts, leather jackets and sunglasses and feeling scared.  I was raised on Top 40 pop and didn’t veer outside the lines very much until I got older. They looked like they would push me into a  school locker and make fun of me. How could I have been so wrong?

It took until I saw The Ramones on New Year’s Eve, 1988, at Irving Plaza in New York with my then-boyfriend to realize I had been a fool. By then, of course, Tommy was no longer playing with the band. His replacement, Marky, had gone and come back again. But the show was an epiphany for me. Instead of being afraid of the Ramones, I should have embraced them and their dumb, mindless fun. They were misfits just like me.

I dove into the albums. That first album, all 26 minutes of its ragged glory, is a classic. For all my fears that the music was unapproachable or just noise, it was as inviting as could be with a keen pop sensibility. Listen to “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and try not to draw comparisons to early-day Beatles.  Even “Chain Saw,” about missing his love who’s murdered in the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, has a certain undeniable charm, if for nothing else that they sing “massacreee” instead of “massacre.”

 Those first four albums, released within a 2 1/2-year span, are all brilliant (though most purists are captivated only by the first three). Tommy left after the first three and he took a bit of the edge with him, but even today when I listen to “Blitzkreig Bop” and his steady, simple playing I’m transfixed. As Robert Christgau wrote in Billboard, “Tommy thought the simplicity of the band's attack required something much cleaner than [original drummer Joey Ramone’s] choppy style – "eight-notes across, with the `one' on the bass and the `two' on the snare, fast and consistent." So when the drummers who auditioned wouldn't stop with the fills and rolls, he climbed behind the kit and found he had a knack for it.”

I never met Tommy. The only one I had a relationship with was Joey. When I was talent editor at Billboard in the last ‘90s, I interviewed him a number of times. We hit it off and he would call me a couple of times a year just to check in. I’d pick up my phone and hear in that instantly recognizable voice, “Hey, hey Melinda.  It’s Joey.”

There was a underdog sweetness to Joey that was impossible to resist. We may start talking about one thing— including his joy over producing a Ronnie Spector album and, later, how he was doing once he got cancer— for a while it looked like he had beat it -- but the conversations usually veered into his sadness and resentment that the Ramones had never had the commercial success they deserved. Indeed— was there ever a band that influenced so many acts that followed who had so little sales? It’s bittersweet that only two months before Tommy died, the Ramones’ debut album was finally certified gold for sales of 500,000, the group’s only title to do so. I hope he got to know.

The biggest thing I learned from the Ramones was to never ever judge a band by anything other than the music. I lost out on years of enjoying their music because the image scared me. I haven’t made that mistake again since.

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Sia set to score her first No. 1 album in the U.S. next week

Her victory comes as the summer doldrums set in

Sia picked a good week to release her excellent “1000 Forms of Fear.”  The Australian singer/songwriter’s latest album will come in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with a very only 53,000, making it one of the lowest sales tallies ever for a debuting chart topper.  The summer doldrums are in full effect as the sum total of all 10 albums in top 10 will hover around 300,000 or more than 80,000 less than Coldplay sold in its opening week for “Ghost Stories” this spring.

Sam Smith’s “In The Lonely Hour” hangs out at No. 2  (45,000). The unsinkable “Frozen” soundtrack will be No. 3 (40,000), while Trey Songz’ current No. 1, “Trigga” and Ed Sheeran’s “X” are too close to call for No. 4.

Next come two more debuts: Judas Priest’s “Redeemer of Souls” at No. 6 (32,000) and Dirty Heads’ “Sound Of Change” at No. 7 (24,000).

Miranda Lambert’s “Platinum” is No. 8 (22,000), “Now That’s What I Call Music 50” at No. 9 (21,000) and Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” at No. 10 (20).

YouTube phenom Jacob Whitesides will likely come in at No. 14 (15,000).

With sales so low at the top of the chart, it will be interesting to see what the No. 200 title sells and it if will be in the 3 digits.

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John Legend

We have just one small problem with John Legend's video for 'You & I (Nobody In The World)'

It's a lovely sentiment, but I don't know if I believe the messenger


Following “All of Me,” John Legend continues his “most-sensitive-man-in-the-world” campaign with the video for new single, “You & I (Nobody In The World).”

The song follows the same trajectory as “All of Me,” in which he declares his love for a women—she is perfect just as she is in his eyes even as she continues to fuss with her make up and clothing.

The video features shots of women, girls, and toddlers of all shapes and sizes, races and ages  looking straight into the camera as if it it were a mirror, adjusting their hair, scrutinizing their faces and bodies, and displaying the general amount of fine-tuning  and judging women constantly do to themselves in an effort to meet some ridiculously high standard of beauty.  Some of the most moving images include an older woman removing her wig to show a bald head, as well as a woman taking off her shirt following a double mastectomy, and cancer survivor/comedian Tig Notaro. Transgender actress Laverne Cox, who was nominated for an Emmy yesterday in the guest actress comedy category, also appears.

On the face of it, the video is truly lovely and a message that women can't hear enough because there are so many messages that tell us every day that we are not good enough just as we are and I like the song (what woman wouldn't want to hear that from her partner?) Perhaps I’m being too cynical, but the video’s message might be a little more impactful if the woman Legend is telling “you don’t even have to try” didn’t just happen to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, his wife, Chrissy Teigen, who appears with Legend in the beginning and end of the video. There’s exactly one woman in this video who apparently truly meets his standard and it is his super model wife.  But, hey, super models get to have their insecure moments as well and maybe it's wrong to doubt the video's sincerity simply because Legend married to someone gorgeous.  My non-cynical side would like to believe that women's romantic partners the world over feel this way about their girlfriends/wives, even if they won't ever be on the cover of the swimsuit edition of "Sports Illustrated." Or maybe they're just trying to get them out of the door a little faster. As Legend sings, "You were fine in my eyes a half hour ago."

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Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Kiss part of Live Nation/Yahoo free concert streaming service

Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Kiss part of Live Nation/Yahoo free concert streaming service

Dave Matthews Band kicks off daily concert for 365 days on July 15

Justin Timberlake, Dave Matthews Band, Ray LaMontagne, John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Kiss, and OneRepublic are among the acts whose concerts you can watch for free as part of Yahoo and Live Nation’s new partnership that will feature one live concert a day for 365 days.

The partnership, originally announced in April, released the first month’s line-up today. The series kicks off July 15 with Dave Matthews Band from its sold out show at  Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

Live Nation has plenty of shows to choose from: the world’s largest promoter presents 23,000 concerts each year, said CEO Michael Rapino, in a statement. Kellogg has signed on as the sponsor of the series.

Concerts will air on Here’s the line-up for the first month:

July 15 Dave Matthews Band
July 16 The Fray
July 17 The Neighbourhood
July 18 Michael Franti &Spearhead
July 19 KISS
July 20 Chevelle
July 21 Common
July 22 Everclear
July 23 Jurassic 5
July 24 311
July 25 Wiz Khalifa
July 26 Ray LaMontagne
July 27 Three Days Grace
July 28 Jess McCartney
July 29 Gogol Bordello
July 30 Panic @ the Disco
Aug 01 Toad the Wet Sprocket
Aug 02 Rixton
Aug 03 Daughtry
Aug 04 Sick Puppies
Aug 05 Gavin DeGraw
Aug 07 MKTO
Aug 08 The Kooks
Aug 09 David Gray
Aug 10 OneRepublic
Aug 11 Lila Downs
Aug 13 Emblem3

(We don’t know if the Emblem3 date should be Aug. 12 or if Yahoo still needs to fill in Aug. 12)



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Mary Lambert

Mary Lambert confesses in fun lyric video for new song, 'Secrets'

New single from forthcoming album, 'Heart On My Sleeve'

There’s a saying that you’re only as sick as your secrets. If that’s the case, then Mary Lambert is very,very healthy.

On her new single, “Secrets,” the singer best know for her feature on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” proudly declares all her secrets: she’s bi polar, her family is dysfunctional, sometimes she cries all day, and some less secret ones— she’s overweight and gay.

All these confessions are sung over an impossibly jaunty tune as she refreshingly reveals all in the lyric video. “‘Secrets’ might be the first fun song I’ve ever written,” says Lambert. And, indeed, the bouncy track has an irrepressible Katy Perry, “Roar” vibe. She co-wrote the track with Eric Rosse, Benny Cassette and MoZella. Rosee and Cassette are also executive producers on her new album, “Heart On My Sleeve,” out Oct. 14 on Capitol Records.
The song is about accepting yourself, flaws and all. “I felt like there were a lot of songs coming out about self-empowerment and challenging beauty standards and I wanted to write a sgon along those same lines, but in my voice,” Lambert says in a statement. “There is so much shame and guilt in our society and I think it has deprived a lot of people from living fully. We are all facing battles, We’ve all had someone who has hurt us. So let’s talk bout it.”

We can already imagine the fan-posted videos that “Secrets” will spawn, with folks posting they videos confessing all their closet skeletons with abandon. Bring it on!

Lambert is on the road this summer with Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw. Below the video are tour dates.


07/10  Cedar Rapids, IA                  McGrath Amphitheater*
07/11  Fargo, ND                              The Venue*
07/12  Green Bay, WI                      Green Bay Pride
07/16  Toronto, ON                          Sound Academy*
07/17  Toledo, OH                            Toledo Zoo Amphitheater*
07/20  Vancouver, BC                     Vancouver Folk Music Festival @ Jericho Beach Park
07/23  New York, NY                       RBaby Foundation Concert @ Hammerstein Ballroom
08/10  Chicago, IL                            Northalsted Market Days
08/23  Saratoga Springs, CA         Luscious Queer Music Festival
09/20  New York, NY                       SubCulture
09/26  Thousand Oaks, CA            Scherr Forum-Thousand Oaks Civic Arts
09/27  San Francisco, CA              Nourse Theatre


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