The sum of the parts is greater than the whole on Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears’ highly anticipated “SMS (Bangerz),” which leaked today.
Sampling Salt N’ Pepa’s far superior “Push It,” the track, from Cyrus's forthcoming "Bangerz" album, is a very strange mixed bag.
Is 'Bangerz' a bust?
The sum of the parts is greater than the whole on Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears’ highly anticipated “SMS (Bangerz),” which leaked today.
Robyn inspired deep house track
Katy Perry goes hardcore into the clubs with “Walking on Air,” a dance twirler she released today from her forthcoming album, “Prism,” out Oct. 22.
The house track is redolent of ‘90s dance thumpers and is light as cotton candy and just as enjoyable. It will make you long for C + C Music Factory... almost.
Klas Ahlund produced the track, which Perry recorded in Stockholm. Perry told Billboard the track was inspired by Ahlund collaborator Robyn, who toured with Perry on her California Dreams tour, and by seeing roller skaters in New York’s Central Park.
The track opens with another female with a big Martha Wash-type voice singing “I’m walking on air,” before Perry comes in, singing “You’re giving me sweet sweet ecstasy, yeah you take me to Utopia. you’re reading me like erotica, boy you make me feel exotic yeah,” Perry sings before rushing into the breathless chorus. She goes on to sing about a love so strong that even heaven is jealous. At the end, she unleashes her best Christina Aguilera impression.
“Walking On Air” is the third track released from “Prism,” following chart topper “Roar” and “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J.
Some songs shine, while other sink on the second half of JT's 'Experience'
Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2,” the second half of his 2013 musical exploration, arrives today and it’s a more diverse companion to its March successor, “The 20/20 Experience.” Similarly to that album, the best-selling album of 2013 so far, “2 of 2” features song sketches, most of them longer than 5 minutes, than traditional chorus/verses in most cases, although the last half has some beautiful, more conventional tracks. The big band feel of the JT and the Tennessee Kids is largely gone here, other than on the horn-driven “Take Back The Night.”
Whereas “The 20/20 Experience” felt sensual, “2 of 2” feels carnal and more blatantly sexual between Timberlake’s delivery and Timbaland’s pulsating production. Plus, the lyrics often take a dark turn as love breaks bad, real bad.
While there is a lot here to admire especially in terms of Timberlake’s adventurous and willingness to stretch out here, there’s still a little too much bloat, just as there is on the first volume. Between the two sets, there are about eight really strong songs that would have made for a tremendously impressive single set.
Here’s a track-by-track review:
“Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)”: A sultry, sexy funky number with a chorus redolent of Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life.” (Just listen to it and see if the “how ever do you need me/how ever do you want me” refrain doesn’t pop into your mind.). It’s an rhythmic invitation to what’s still to come. There’s also a “SexyBack” feel that’s tremendously appealing. GRADE: A
“True Blood”: A nine-minute-plus rambling funk, beat track that will work in the clubs. Timbaland throws in all kinds of odd sounds, including ringing phones, different loops, Chic-like disco bells, a Vincent Price-like maniacal laugh, and African rhythms as Timberlake vocalizes occasionally over the cacophony about the “demon whose got me screamin....I tasted your blood and found you was the perfect fit.” Like many of the songs on “The 20/20 Experience,” the last third turns into a different song entirely. The aural equivalent of Chubby Hubby ice cream, it’s got a little too much going on...although a catchy chorus would not be one of them. GRADE: C
“Cabaret”: “It’s a cabaret,” Timberlake sings as Timbaland repeats “It’s a show, get on the floor” in this loop-driven ode to getting down with your lady, who’s taking off her clothes as quickly as she can. Again, nothing here you could hum as the song is all about the beats and repetitiveness. “You got me saying Jesus so much, it’s like I’m laying in a manger,” Timberlake says in the song’s cleverest line. Drake comes in for a rap that works perfectly with the song in their first collaboration. At 4:32, it’s the album’s shortest song. GRADE: B-
“TKO”: The second single from “2 of 2” features Timberlake singing in his regular register about getting knocked out in love by his woman, “trying to go below the belt.” She’s not fighting fair as he admits he’s “out for the count,” over a catchy bed of busy loops, strange sounds and beats. The final quarter slinks into a spare arrangement with Timbaland beat boxing over Timberlake’s lonesome vocals. GRADE: B-
“Take Back The Night”: A glorious throw-back to ‘70s disco with a horn-driven chorus (yes, JT’s singing “And the horns say,” not something that sounds more offensive), the first single didn’t storm up the charts in part because “Mirrors” was still holding strong, but it’s a song that will do great in concert and as time passes. GRADE: B+
“Murder”: A rambling mess of song as Timberlake, even if it has a chorus/verse structure, sings about a woman who has so much going on below the waist that it can only lead to murder. Jay Z comes in for a rap that name drops Yoko Ono, of all people. Way, way too busy. GRADE: D
“Drink You Away”: The album’s best track with potential to be “2 of 2’s” “Mirrors.” A gorgeous, organ-drenched, acoustic-guitar-based tune that features JT passionately singing, “I can’t drink you away. I’ve tried Jack, I’ve tried Jim... Now, tell me baby, do they make a medicine for heartbreak.” It’s a stomping, full-out swampy tale of a man whose gotten to the bottom of the bottle and still has further down to go. The hand-clapping gospel feel plays beautifully into Timberlake’s Memphis roots. Far and away the most captivating track on the album. GRADE: A
“You Got It On”: A dreamy, sexy song. Think Timberlake channeling Usher, which means, of course, he's also channeling Marvin and Donny. It’s all about sexy time. “Tell me what’s better than than the two of us because you by yourself is more than enough for me,” he croons in falsetto. Cue the disco ball for this slow jamming, finger-snapping slinky paint-by-numbers description of how Timberlake is going to make his lady very, very happy. GRADE: B+
“Amnesia”: Another slow jam, but this in case, Timberlake is lamenting that his woman has left him. “Ain’t no we anymore, she’s a stranger that I used to know,” he sings, over a steady, swirling beat and strings. A sweeping, hypnotic song that morphs into a different track for the final third. Someone should do a mash-up with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” immediately. GRADE: B-
“Only When I Walk Away”: An autotuned Timberlake laments that his woman only loves him when walks away on this moody, dramatic track. “She loves me only when I walk away,” he sings, as a heavy chorus and beat nail the track to the floor. There’s a darkness and experimental tribal break that sounds like something Michael Jackson would be creating today. One of the album’s more interesting tracks for both Timbaland’s production and Timberlake’s delivery. GRADE: B
“Not A Bad Thing”: And now for something different. For the album closer, “Not A Bad Thing” starts as a breezy, hand-clapper that doesn’t sound that dissimilar to something that ‘N Sync would have sung on its best day. It’s a lovely, lilting straight-up pop tune. “Don’t act like it’s a bad thing to fall in love with me,” he croons. He promises fealty to his girl because she’s worth it. GRADE: A
“A Pair of Wings”: Not sure if this is part of “Not A Bad Thing,” given how much shape-shifting goes on on so many of the tracks or if it’s just a hidden bonus track on the same track, but from “Not A Bad Thing,” after a few seconds of silence, Timberlake goes into a lovely ballad featuring only him and a flamenco-inflected acoustic guitar (although strings come in later). With the world getting uglier, all he wants to do is fly away on a pair of wings with his love. It’s a gentle, sweet lullaby that serves as a romantic song or an ode to the child he has yet to have. It’s the polar opposite from a track like “Murder.” A sweet capper. GRADE: B
James Franco, Bono, Michael Cera also on hand to promote upcoming 'Reflektor's' release
Following its appearance on the Season 39 opener of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by Tina Fey, Arcade Fire kept the music going with “Here Comes The Night Time,” a trippy, 30-minute special on NBC that aired immediately after “SNL.”
The double shot was in service to promote “Reflektor,” the band’s new album out on Merge on Oct. 29. It will be the Montreal-based group’s first set since 2010’s “The Suburbs,” which won the Grammy for Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
In addition to current single/title track, “Reflektor,” and “Afterlife,” which the band performed in “SNL,” Arcade Fire debuted three new songs from the forthcoming album during the special.
UPDATED: Arcade Fire has tweeted a link to audio of the three new songs
A bizarre trailer featuring paper mache versions of the band members that surfaced Friday set the tone for the equally strange, theatrical special that felt like a cross between a hipster’s Halloween and New Year’s Eve party. It opened with Arcade Fire’s lead singer Win Butler, clad in a red and white suit with a black bandit mask painted across his eyes, leading a conga line, filled with costumed characters, including a bunny, from the “SNL” set to The Salsatheque a club in their hometown. The show opened with new song “Here Comes The Night Time,” which exploded from a English Beat-like bouncy to a rave-up with Butler joining the dancing, costumed crowd.
The club crowd line danced to new song, the new wave-y “We Exist,” as if they were re-enacting “The Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
James Franco, Aziz Ansari, Ben Stiller and Bono—the latter two with the big paper mache heads featured in the “Reflektor” video— and a Spanish-speaking Michael Cera, posing as an irritated, Arcade Fire-hating bartender in the club, all made cameo appearances. In a oddly unfunny sketch, Bill Hader and Zach Galifianakis posed as astronauts who beamed in with Butler wishing them a safe return because “we need another ‘Hangover’ movie.”
The band then changed gears and clothes and the millieu for an ‘80s vibe (intercut with the current club scene), with Rainn Wilson as their bearded, bandana-ed roadie named Carl and Jason Schwartzmann as a centaur for the chaotic “Normal Person.”
In addition to “Reflektor,” the band is also scoring Spike Jonze’ new movie, “Her.”
We'll post video of the special as soon as it's available, but in the meantime, enjoy AF's performance of "Reflektor" from "SNL."
One Direction also makes the list
1. Kanye West: He compares himself to Michael Jackson, declares himself the No. 1 rock star in the world, and gets in a Twitter fight with Jimmy Kimmel. His work here is done.
2. One Direction: Music’s billion-dollar boys top Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list. Sounds like that decision was made before the VMAs... #mileywasrobbed
3. Drake: The rapper so many critics love to hate will make a major splash on the Billboard 200 next week as “Nothing Was The Same” will sell up to 690,000 in its debut, making it second only to Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” for highest selling premiere of the year.
4. Paul McCartney: He appears on “Jimmy Kimmel” and performs a 15-song concert for the 10,000-strong crowd on Hollywood Blvd., far and above the performance shown on the broadcast. That’s how you stay a star for 50 years.
5. Justin Timberlake: He also plays on “Kimmel” (even though sick as a dog), but the real highlight is his and Jimmy Fallon’s #hashtag skit. #funnystuff #istherenothingJTcantdo? #Questloveisthebest #JTEGOT
6. Lorde: Her star continues to rise as her debut album comes out Monday and is sure to bow in the Top 10 on the strength of mega-hit “Royals,” while she also finds a slot on the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack.
7. Mumford & Sons: The British folk-rock group announces it will go on hiatus. Marcus Mumford wills his vest to The Avett Bros. for the duration.
8. Avicii: Six songs from his album debut, “True,” land on Billboard’s dance/electronic songs chart this week. The only artist to ever land more debuts in one week? Daft Punk with 12. Wake me up, indeed!
9. Rock The Bells: The bell tolls for the once-mighty hip-hop festival which sadly cancels the last two dates on its festival circuit due to lack of ticket sales.
10. Jack Johnson: Part-time musician/full-time surfer dude Jack Johnson scores his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Not bad for an artist who releases albums with very little fanfare.
Rapper is one of six debuts in the top 10
It will be another week of huge debuts on the Billboard 200 album chart next week as six albums bow in the top 10.
No one comes close to Drake, whose “Nothing Was The Same” will sell up to 695,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. That gves it the second-highest debut sales week of the year, second only to Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which sold 968,000. This will mark his third consecutive No. 1 album and will surpass his previous weekly high, 631,000 for “Take Care.”
Following Drake in a distant second will be Kings of Leon’s “Mechanical Bull,” which will sell up to 120,000 copies. Cher’s “Closer To The Truth” will bow at No. 3 with 70,000, while Elton John’s “Diving Board” comes in at No. 4 (45,000-50,000).
This week’s No. 1, Jack Johnson’s “From Here To Now To You,” slides to No. 5 (40,000), while former No. 1, Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” goes to No. 6 (37,000), while staying atop Billboard’s Country Albums Chart.
The other new entries in top 10 belong to Dream Theater, whose self-titled album launches at No. 7 (35,000), and Sting with “The Last Ship” at No. 10 (23,000).
Rounding out the top 10 are Justin Moore’s “Off The Beaten Path” at No. 8 (27,000) and 2 Chainz’ “B.O.A.T.S. II #Me at No. 9 (23,000).
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas
Bella Heathcote plays a maid who gets her prince in The Killers’ new video for “Shot At The Night,” the first single from the band’s best-of collection, “Direct Hits," out Nov. 11.
Faster than you can say “Blackjack,” she ditches her cleaning cart for an evening out with her dark and mysterious Romeo, played by Max Minghella, and his friends, who are all perfectly fine with the Cinderella-in-the-making crashing their evening. She returns to the hotel before she turns into a pumpkin, but keeps her magic slipper.
Ever see the Jennifer Lopez/Ralph Fiennes movie, “Maid In Manhattan?” It’s kind of like that but shorter and cuter and there’s no “happily ever after”...as far as we know.
Filmed at The Cosmopolitan, the clip serves as a love letter to the Killers’ hometown, Las Vegas, with the city lovingly shot.
Taupin on writing the opening track to 'The Diving Board'
Elton John’s “The Diving Board,” his 30th studio album, came out this week and it’s a beautiful, often complex, piano-led album.
In this HitFix exclusive, John’s longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, explains the meaning behind “Oceans Away,” the album’s poignant opening track, which features only John’s vocals and piano playing. Producer T Bone Burnett looks on, adding a few comments at the end.
“Oceans Away” is about Taupin’s father and his service as a soldier during WWll.
“My dad’s pretty much been soaked into so many of my songs. I got to the point where I thought I wanted to do one thing that was just a penultimate song about my father and the Great Generation,” he says. As “the last of those people who fought in the second World War are disappearing and dying that they not be forgotten.”
Bring your own riding crop
See Britney Spears pose through this 15-second trailer for her “Work Bitch” video. See her crouch in a two-piece outfit. See her stand still as a Lamborghini drives behind her eight other women. See her admire herself in the mirror. See her flick her hair.
That’s basically it for the teaser to the Ben Mor-directed clip for Spears’ current single, which debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week.
Mor had this to say to MTV News about Britney Spears video: "It's about creating iconic backdrops for her and really letting her create iconic moments that represent the theme of the song...And she's definitely letting people know that if you want to achieve the status that she has, it comes with a lot of work and effort."
E! offers a little more insight with this still from the shoot that feature Spears hitting a woman on all fours with a riding crop.
Late night host says he's at 'Def Kanye Five'
Has Jimmy Kimmel gotten the last word in Kanye West’s feud with the late-night TV host? In case you missed it, earlier this week Kimmel ran a sketch with children saying the exact lines that West said in his high-profile interview with the BBC, including claiming, “I’m the No. 1 rock star on the planet.”
West didn’t appreciate that Kimmel was poking fun at him and took to Twitter to insult Kimmel eight ways to Sunday in 10 tweets that were slightly schizophrenic: in one he’s putting down Kimmel, another he’s telling Kimmel that he likes him. He posts tweets that feature Spongebob Squarepants. Really?
Here’s Kimmel’s response during his monologue for Thursday night’s show and he seems more bemused than anything else. Kimmel says West also called him right before the so and demanded that he apologize publicly and compared himself to 2Pac. Kimmel laughed that he’s at “Def Kanye Five.”
Since the last pre-show tweet Thursday night, West had been silent on Twitter, but just now West posted a link to a Slate piece that agrees that West has a right to be mad, but mainly because Kimmel is ignorant about fashion and lacking in understanding that rap artists are 100% supposed to be their own hype men.
What do you think about the feud?