Credit: AP

Eminem on gay marriage, Bugs Bunny, his kids and his mom

Rapper says little, but reveals a lot in new interview

A more mature, thoughtful Eminem surfaces in an interview with the rapper  on the New York Times website.

Eminem, whose new album, “Recovery,” comes out Monday, June 21, has clearly gotten over his gay-bashing lyrics and comes out clearly in support of gay marriage in that jokey way that many straight men have: “I think if two people love each other, then what the hell?,” he tells NYT. “I think everyone should have the chance to be  equally miserable, if they want.”

He admits to his addictions to Vicodin, Valium, Ambien and Methadone, and says, sadly, that he felt like he stuck out like sore thumb in rehab. Or, to be more specific, like a Loony Tunes character: “When Bugs Bunny walks into rehab, people are going to turn and look. People at rehab were stealing my hats and pens and notebooks and asking for autographs. I couldn’t concentrate on my problem.”

His answers are short, but revealing. He’s saved much of his money—or the money that he didn’t spend on drugs; he probably will not tour beyond the two stadium dates he has planned with Jay-Z in September, and, as Father’s Day approaches, he credits his three children with helping him overcome his addictions.

On a sad note, the rift between him and his mother sounds as wide, if not as explosive, as always.  He admits he doesn’t even know if she’s still in Detroit. “It’d be very hard to repair that relationship,” he says.

Read the rest of the online interview here. A full version will come out in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.


Read Full Post
Jay Z

Jay-Z's free show is no longer on the books.

Credit: AP Photo

New York City pulls the plug on Jay-Z's free concert

Fears crowd issues after word of Monday's secret show leaks out

Following the near-riot at an aborted Drake concert at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport earlier this week, New York City has pulled the plug on a free, secret performance by Jay-Z.

Read Full Post
<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: Richard Drew/AP

Watch: Justin Bieber and Usher's new video for 'Somebody to Love (Remix)'

Bring your HazMat suit and your fan

Does Justin Beiber need “Somebody to Love” or just a good Hazmat suit? Or perhaps both. It’s a little unclear in the new video for the remix of  “Somebody to Love."

The clip has a simple premise—both Bieber and his mentor/label boss Usher—need somebody to love and they’re willing to dance for their love. The low-tech video features dancers of different levels and ages dancing with Usher and Bieber. There’s nothing hi-tech (unless you count the very cool light fixtures hanging from the ceiling and the short flame/hazmat sequence).

Bieber shows off his dance moves in a variety of styles with different dancers, including Beat Freaks, from “America’s Best Dance Crew.” It’s quite refreshing actually to see a clean set with the focus on the song and the performers and, do we dare say it, “age appropriate” moves. The video would have been greatly enhanced by some kind of dance off between Usher and Bieber—they only share a few scenes. But we’re sure that Usher doesn’t want to show up his meal ticket since he could wipe the floor with Bieber. We enjoyed Usher's little fan dance thought.

We’re sure his fervent fans will find some dance specific to the video and brand it “The Bieb.”  Look for the clip to spawn many, many YouTube imitations.






Read Full Post
Music Power Rankings: Google vs iTunes? Drake, Miley and JoBros all make the list

Music Power Rankings: Google vs iTunes? Drake, Miley and JoBros all make the list

Plus, get your vuvuzela ready to herald World Cup music

Will Google succeed where Microsoft failed? Will Google be the one to stop Apple’s digital domination?  This week more reports surfaced that Google will launch Google Music by the end of the year.  The music service will offer both downloads and streams, all compatible with the Android.  It could be the first real game changer in the digital music space.

1.  Google Music (not ranked last week):  TechCrunch even reportedly found a logo for the new music service that the search engine will bow this fall. Although there’s no official announcement, for the last several months, Google has been quietly showing demonstrations of its offering. Bye Bye Zune.

2.  Drake (not ranked):  His “Thank Me Later” is on track to sell up to 475,000 next week, making it the third highest-total of the year. Plus, the Canadian rapper had his free South Street Seaport concert in Manhattan canceled earlier this week when the crowd became too unruly. Nothing says popular like a near riot; just ask Justin Bieber.

3.  Glee (not ranked): The show is over for the season and its power remains undiminished. A new “Glee” album, “Journey to Regionals,” debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 this week, ahead of the “Twilight Saga: Eclipse”  soundtrack. That makes three “Glee” albums to debut at No. 1 in a matter of months. Plus, Coldplay, which had been one of the few acts to prohibit “Glee” from using its music, caved. We smell “Viva la Vida” or “Yellow” in next season’s premiere.

4.  Miley Cyrus (not ranked): Not only will her new album, “Can’t Be Tamed,” come out earlier than its schedule June 22 release date due to demand, she has been tapped to star in “Wake,” a movie based on a paranormal thriller.  We’re guessing the casting director didn’t see Cyrus in “The Last Song.”

5.  The Jonas Bros. (not ranked): They may be struggling a little this summer on the concert circuit, but their entrepreneurship is in full bloom as their management company, The Jonas Group, partners with AOL and brand strategy company MGX Lab, to launch Cambio, a new video network for the web geared toward 13-to-24 year olds, which will feature original programming.

6.  Prince  (not ranked):  The musical genius will be honored at the June 27 BET Awards with a lifetime achievement award. We wonder if he’ll arrive in a little red corvette.

7.  Jason Hirschorn (not ranked): Departing his post as co-president of MySpace after only four months may seem like a strange move for the former MTV executive, but we say it’s a sign of his desire to get off a sinking ship. MySpace continues to struggle as it figures out exactly what its role is in the current social networking and online music space.

8.  Eminem (No. 4 last week): The release date for “Recovery” moves up to Monday, June 21, after the album leaked out. There’s a real buzz around him again that has not been there in years.

9.  World Cup themes (not ranked): They may not be as omnipresent at the continuous bleating of vuvuzelas at the World Cup in South Africa, but “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” by Shakira and “Wavin’ Flag” from K’naan are spreading the FIFA message around the globe. “Waka” debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 44 this week, while K’naan’s track tops the European Hot Singles chart, as well as going to No. 1 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. GOAL!!

10.  Of Montreal and Janelle Monae:  OK, the summer touring season is in the toilet, but it looks like the fall could be aces. Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes told Pitchfork that his Athens, Ga.-based band and Monae will tour together this fall. They’ve collaborated before, most recently on “Make the Bus,” but the chance to see them on a full-scale tour together live makes us wish the summer would fly by. 

What do you think?

Music Power Rankings appear every Friday in The Beat Goes On on HitFix.

Previous Ratings:

June 11
June 4

May 28

May 22

May 15

May 8

May 1

April 23





Read Full Post


Credit: AP Photo

Commentary: Live Nation and why the summer concert season sucks

Tours from Rihanna, Kings of Leon, Jonas Bros. suffer; We suggest how to make it better

It was bound to happen. Last year, while practically every other business sector took a hit during the recession, the concert industry eked out an okay, if not stellar, year. Now the chickens have come home to roost.  Billboard has declared 2010 the worst summer touring season since the mid-90s. And that’s before it’s even officially summer.

Some tours that seemed like sure summer sell-outs are struggling or have been cancelled outright. Christina Aguilera postponed her “Bionic” tour only three days after tickets went on sale. The official reason was that she had too much on her plate to prepare the type of show her fans deserved. Right. Her managers, who are the brightest in the business, didn’t realize that until after they put tickets on sale? The Eagles canceled three dates from their summer tour, while the multi-artist Country Throwdown tour wiped four poorly performing dates off its roster after they’d gone on sale.

Additionally, Billboard reports that Rihanna, John Mayer, Kings of Leon, Limp Bizkit, Jonas Bros., and the Go-Go’s have either canceled dates or tours. Plus, Lilith festival dates are soft.  Add in U2 postponing its sold out (or nearly sold out) summer tour due to Bono’s back injury and many artists deciding to boycott Arizona because of its new immigration policy and you have the makings of a brutal summer season.

There are several reasons for the slowdown and we’ll go through each of them: first and foremost, the economy, despite reports, is still in the toilet for most people. Secondly, concert tickets for many acts, but not all, are simply too expensive. Other factors include too much traffic, festival drain-off, unreasonable discount expectations by fans and weak line-ups.

But first, we wanted to get a feel for how bad it is. We decided to try a little experiment and our research found that folks aren’t buying tickets for some acts even when the concert is fast upon them.

Tonight, the Eagles play my hometown, Raleigh, N.C. With the concert only a few hours away, we were still able to purchase a pair of 12th row seats on the floor—smack dab in the middle—close enough for Don Henley to practically sweat on you. The cost? $195/ticket. There are no additional service fees.

With only four days left until the show, we could still purchase 12th row seats on the floor at the top tier price of $176 each for Sting’s June 21 appearance with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.   (And how much was the service charge per ticket? $18.96). Total for two tickets with service charge: $389.92.

Not to pick on St. Paul, but Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are playing the same venue the next night. All the floor seats were gone, but five days out, we were still able to score some lower level seating about halfway down the side of the arena at $125 per seat. With a face value of $250 for a pair of seats, service charges brought the total tally up to $284.04. Now here’s a charge we can’t figure out: if you want to print out your own tickets, use your own paper, your own ink, it still costs you $2.50 per ticket.

These acts have older fans, many of them with disposable incomes and they still are having trouble selling tickets at the top ticket price.  And yet, ticket prices continue to soar upward. The average ticket price for the top 10-grossing tours in 2008 was $151. That’s up more than $100 from 10 years ago, when it was $47, according to Billboard.

So, basically, some acts are just too darn greedy. Though his Las Vegas tickets are now $125, when Garth Brooks routinely toured arenas 10 years ago and sold out multiple nights in every city, the ticket prices were never more than $25 for the top ticket, and he still managed to make a tidy profit, we imagine.

Oddly, in an effort to balance out high ticket prices, promoters may have gone too far. In a move that now seems shortsighted, last summer, anyone who paid full price for a concert ticket must have felt like an idiot.

Every week, Live Nation rolled out a promotion designed to goose sales, whether it was $10 lawn seats at participating venues to special packages that offered fans six tickets for the price of four. This year, Live Nation, the country’s biggest promoter, declared June “no-service fee” month.  In a press release, the company, which merged with Ticketmaster earlier this year, stated that 8 million tickets to shows by 110 artists would be offered without service fees in June at Live Nation’s 50 owned-and-operated venues in North America.

For a company like Live Nation, the real money comes not from ticket sales, but from parking, concessions and merchandise sales for the venues it owns, so putting butts in seats is what matters. After last summer, concert goers are conditioned to wait for the last minute. So even though Live Nation is offering no service fees this month, it’s entirely possible that next month, it will begin offering deep discounts on lawn seats or other promotions. Given how slowly tickets are moving, there’s no reason for casual fans to worry that if they don’t buy early, they won’t get to see bands they like—possibly at a price far lower than initially offered.

However, sometimes it’s not even a matter of price that keeps fans away.  The Country Throwdown tour, which is produced by Kevin Lyman, co-founder of the Warped Tour, averages a $31 ticket price for a whopping 21 acts. However, it still canceled four dates in soft markets.  In a statement, Lyman blamed a crowded marketplace so “we end up cannibalizing one another,” as well as “low ticket sales.”  The line-up is awesome—it includes Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Jack Ingram and Little Big Town—but the absence of a surefire chart-topper has no doubt hurt ticket sales.

There are a few bright spots. On the solo tour front, Taylor Swift just concluded a sold-out arena/stadium tour by selling 57,000 seats at Boston’s Gillette Stadium. Lady GaGa tickets are moving quickly. We couldn’t find any for her July 1 tour opener in Boston on Ticketmaster (however, we’d like to add that a $175 top ticket price for Lady GaGa is absolutely ridiculously high—even if her fans will pay it.)

Additionally, a number of multi-day festivals, such as Coachella, Stagecoach and the just-concluded Bonnaroo have posted banner years this summer. Here’s why: for a price similar to what one evening with the Eagles cost, festival goers could have their pick of more than 100 acts over a three-day period.  (Despite the bang for the buck, several multi-act festivals, such as Virgin Festival Canada, Rothbury and All Points West went on hiatus this year).

As great as a festival like Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo may be, it then drains the marketplace for other acts coming through, plus makes it so that artists playing those festivals can’t come back to that region for several months, That’s fine for the headliners, who are paid a lot, but for a mid-to-small level band playing a festival, it can cause issues.

So what’s the solution? Acts need to check their egos at the door and stop gouging the public with such high ticket prices. Smart artists focus on building a career, not trying to drain the market each time through.

The average music fan only goes to two concerts a year—if you want it to be one of yours, make it impossible for the fan to resist what you have to offer.  Plus, Ticketmaster (or Live Nation Entertainment or whatever you want to call it), has to realize that fans really are tired of exorbitant ticket fees and even if Live Nation says there are none, most fans are savvy enough to know the fees have just been folded into the one ticket price.  Of course Ticketmaster should charge a fee for the convenience of buying online, but there needs to be some middle ground.

Booking agents also need to be smarter about routing. If Lady Gaga is coming to Seattle, an act with a similar following—whether it’s Rihanna or Ke$ha—needs to wait a good two months before hitting that market.  Plus—and this has been an issue for years—70% of concert touring happens during the summer.

For acts that are dependent upon outdoor shows for their atmosphere—like Jimmy Buffett or James Taylor—we certainly understand that, but there’s no reason for an act like Tom Petty, who’s mainly playing indoor arenas, to tour during the summer (yes, we know it’s behind the new album), but why not wait until the crowd thins out a bit.

Are you going to fewer concerts this summer?

Read Full Post
<p>Kevin Rudolf</p>

Kevin Rudolf

Credit: AP Photo

HitFix Interview: Kevin Rudolf talks new album, Lil Wayne, Weezer, Lifehouse

Producer/songwriter explains why he flipped us all the bird on 'Let It Rock'

Even though most people didn’t hear the name Kevin Rudolf until his hit song “Let It Rock” two years ago, the producer/musician/songwriter/artist has been toiling away for more than a decade.

Rudolf’s first real brush with potential stardom came in 2001 when his band, Binocular, signed with Madonna’s Maverick label. The album flopped, but Rudolf went on to work with Timbaland, playing guitar on records for the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado and many others.

But the lure of being an artist remained. “Let It Rock,” from his debut album “In the City,” sold more than 3 million copies. On June 15 Rudolf returned with his second album, “To the Sky,” which features Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Flo Rida, and his Cash Money label boss Lil Wayne and others.

In the meantime, he’s also worked with Cobra Starship, Leona Lewis and Lifehouse, including co-writing their Spring smash, “Halfway Gone.”

The first single is called “I Made It.” When did you know you’d made it?

I think that making it is something that you do in stages. There’s a certain feeling of ‘I made it’ when you have a hit on the radio for the first time and people are feeling it and buying it and reacting to it at shows. But I’ve also set new goals since then too for myself so it’s like, I think the ‘I Made It’ feeling is something you get as you achieve new goals.

I’m sure you felt like you’d made it when you signed the record deal as Binocular. What did you learn from that experience?

I learned that you can’t depend on anyone. It taught me more as an artist, as a producer, that I have to be in control…I turn in my albums completely finished. On this new album, that’s exactly what it is. It’s like a mix tape. It’s just whatever I wanted to do over the last two months … there’s people I had over to my house, like Rivers Cuomo, when I was working on Weezer and he jumped on a song. Then I was working with Flo Rida and I said, ‘Check this out. Do you want to hop on this?’ And he did. I had a song that was left over that Wayne and I did, like a secret track, and I put that on the album.

What is Weezer’s River Cuomo like to work with?

He’s like such a cool, sweet, gentle person. Really open, really creative. Wants to try anything, everything. I love that about him…He can be very shy, but he’s a good guy. He’s got a great vibe to him. You don’t have to convince him to try something new and that’s what I love about working with him.

After Binocular ended, you started working with Timbaland. What’s the most important thing he taught you?

You have to go with your gut, you have to work quickly and you have to be the best at what you do. I loved the way he put his drums together and made tracks. He’s a genius at that so I would just watch and soak it up like a sponge…If it’s not working right away, don’t keep going with it. He does a lot of records, he does them very quickly. That’s what I do to. If it’s not magic, go back to the drawing board.

You did this record in two months.

Entirely, writing and everything. I probably did it in less, I was just doing so many shows in between, it drags it out.

What happens to you when you’re not inspired?

You know what I learned? Inspiration is like a muscle. You can work it. Like going to the gym. You don’t have to feel like going. You sit in front of your keyboard or guitar and you have to just write, you have to experiment and get the juices flowing.…The  greatest songwriters—Diane Warren to Billy Joel—they all have a scheduled time when they go sit in front of their instrument and they work. Every bad song you write is closer to a great song too, so you kind of can’t lose with it as long as you’re willing to do the work.

What is the difference between working with a Leona Lewis vs. working with a Lil Wayne in terms of what you bring to the project?

With Lil Wayne, it’s very easy, all you have to do is give him a great beat and let him be himself and let Wayne do Wayne. With Leona Lewis, it’s different because in that case I came in with a completed song and it was about getting a great performance out of her and then going back and finishing the production.

Who are you dying to work with?

I’m a huge Jay Z fan, I’m a huge Sade fan although I don’t think Sade is going to do another album for another 10 years. Personally, it would be a dream.

You’re not mentioning many rockers.

I’m not as interested. I mean, I’d love to work with Eddie Vedder, but he’s his own thing. He doesn’t need me.

Let’s talk about working with Lifehouse. The band’s Jason Wade talked about how you build songs differently than he does. What was that day in the studio like?

I didn’t know what to expect. I was always a Lifehouse fan. I got into the room and set up my keyboards and we just started to vibe. I thought we’d come up with something really good just because I know [Jason’s] a great songwriter and when someone’s great at what they do like that, it’s very easy; you just have to point [them] in a certain direction or help execute the vision really….honestly, [it was] probably No. 1 experience for me as far as best experience working with people. I love him.

What’s something we would be surprised to know about Lil Wayne?

He really knows what he’s doing. He’s very intelligent. I know he sort of comes off as if it all just happened, you know, and he ended up as Wayne, but he created himself in that way. Very intelligently, by the way. He created that persona and now he’s living that life and I think he’s way more aware of it and more intelligent than people may know.

What do you mean when you say he’s living that life? He’s in prison.

I wasn’t referring to prison. I was referring to his persona, his aura that he’s created for himself where he’s really turned himself into a superstar.

I think most people do not realize how cynical a song “Let It Rock” is. If you just listen to the chorus, it sounds like a party song, but you’re very bitter in that song.

You’re absolutely right. It is really bitter. “Let It Rock” came from an angry place; it didn’t come from a party place. It came from a place where I was frustrated with the world and my life and trying to make it, trying to make something happen, being frustrated with my situation. It’s about hypocrisy. Basically that song is about sticking your middle finger to the world and saying, “when I come through, I’m going to bring truth; I’m going bring something real.” When I say, “let it rock,” I’m saying “F-You.” I’m not saying put your hands up in the air.

What’s the biggest way your world has changed in the past two years?

Well, I’m not broke. That helps. I’d say that the best thing that’s happened is I’m in the game as an artist, as a writer and as a producer. That I can actually have the freedom and power to make the music that I want to make the way I want to make it, deliver it and get it out into the world.


Read Full Post
<p>Big Boi in &quot;General Patton&quot;</p>

Big Boi in "General Patton"

Watch: Big Boi's new video, 'General Patton'

Nothing says five-star general like a good game of bowling

When the going gets tough, the tough go…bowling. Or at least that’s how it plays out in “General Patton” the latest video clip from Big Boi’s July 6 album, “Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty.”

They also roam around New York and do some other stuff, but primarily, they bowl. We’re not sure if Big Boi knows something about the General that we don’t.  Maybe he liked to bowl when he wasn’t planning military strategy.

We like the track, which features Big Boi rapping over an operatic piece (if you know what the music is, let us know).

As far as the video goes, we don’t like it as much as we did the clip for “Shutterbugg,” which was much more deceptively inventive. Plus, why don’t the video and audio match up? We thought it was just our computer, but we found several other folks complaining about it.

What do you think?






Read Full Post
<p>OK Go in &quot;End Love&quot;</p>

OK Go in "End Love"

Watch: OK Go go full color for 'End Love' video

We wish we were the goose

Is there anyone making videos as charming as Ok Go there days? There’s something utterly guileless about their clips, even when they’re as low key as the new video for “End Love.” They could take a cardboard box and a roll of duct tape and still come up with a video we’d find compelling.

Here, there’s not a lot more going on than the four guys in pastel hoodies and pants hanging out in Los Angeles’ Echo Park park with stop-gap photography.  The choreography is pretty rudimentary, even for these guys, but it’s still captivating. Plus, when they’re joined by some friends in the park, it simply becomes an exercise video and we still can’t look away. As far as the song goes, it’s very New Order.

They’re goofballs, plain and simple, whether they’re playing around on treadmills or designing a Rube Goldberg contraption. Like the goose in the video, we’d follow them anywhere.





Read Full Post
Watch: MGMT builds the perfect beast in video for 'It's Working.' Or do they?

Watch: MGMT builds the perfect beast in video for 'It's Working.' Or do they?

Watch ice cream come from a dude's head

It’s not as if MGMT’s videos are in any way, shape or form linear, but we actually think we may understand what’s going on in the brand new clip for “It’s Working,” and that scares us a little. We also know it has more bright colors than a bagful of Skittles and we dig that a lot.

French artist So Me, who has worked with Kanye West and Kid Cudi, directed the clip, the second video from MGMT’s sophomore album, “Congratulations.”

In the mini-movie,  MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden build a box with complicated instructions and lots of tools. But the box has magic properties, you see. First off, it turns the duo’s drab duds into psychedelic, rainbow bright outfits.  But that’s the least of it powers. A girls in a school girl outfit with FM pumps mysteriously appears. Then comes the drummer, wearing an awesome sombrero that you can pour candy into and it comes out as soft-serve ice cream, There’s lot more, including a pirouetting giant angel and a whole “Is this just a dream?” sequence.

I always feel like I’d understand MGMT’s videos a lot better if I dropped a tab of acid shortly before viewing.

A lot more happens and we don’t want to give away the ending, but we think the message may be something along the lines of “be careful what you wish for.” Either that or weird things come in medium-sized packages.





Read Full Post
<p>Adam Lambert in &quot;If I Had You&quot;</p>

Adam Lambert in "If I Had You"

Watch: Adam Lambert sports a crazy mullet in 'If I Had You' video

Where's Mad Max when you need him?

It’s Adam Lambert in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” No, wait! It’s Adam beyond Thunder Dome. No, hold on! It’s Adam in Wonderland.

In his new video for “If I Had You,” Lambert may be singing that if he had his lover,  he wouldn’t need anything else… no money, fame or fortune, but clearly the said lover is  nowhere in sight, so the former "American Idol" runner-up  ventures from his woodland home into the big city with lots and lots of bells and whistles, spiked shoulder pads, a very cool top hat, a mullet and miles of guy liner.

The video is a glorified performance piece, which is fine. Writhing dancers, some of whom are copping moves from “Thriller,” groove as if they’re at the coolest quasi-masquerade party ever, while Lambert sings in various disguises. It’s all very colorful and dramatic and oh-so-Adam. The song is a delicious throwback to the ‘80s—it’s a cross between Stacey Q and Foreigner, and we mean that as a major compliment. It will no doubt be a huge dance hit, but we’d like to see Lambert have a flat-out radio smash.

The clip’s concept was inspired by Lambert’s experience at the Burning Man festival five years ago, according to a statement. It also is a love letter to his friends and fans who have stood by him as he’s climbed up and down fame’s ladder. “Over the past year, in addition to my unbelievable opportunities, I have also been faced with the unique challenge of staying positive in light of some critics and closed mindedness,” he said in a statement. “My friends, family, and my devoted fans have been a key force in keeping me grounded. I wanted to make a video that paid tribute to the wonderful people who’ve inspired me to become the artist and spirit I am today." That’s all well and good, but that message soared right over my head. I just liked the outfits.


Read Full Post