Jay Z and Beyonce
Credit: Kevin Mazur

Beyonce and Jay Z shine on 'On The Run' opening night: Review Round-Up

She brings the glitz, he brings the grit

Jay Z and Beyonce took their show on the road, opening the On The Run summer tour last night at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Amid  some since-debunked rumors that the tour was not selling well, the six-week run started with more than 76,000 concert-goers singing along during the  2-1/2 hour show.

The evening uses the “Run” video as its template, using a couple on the lam as its extended theme as the pair weaves more than 40 songs songs in and out of that construct.
According to the reviews below, Beyonce brings the glamour and Jay Z brings the grit. The U.S. portion of the tour ends Aug. 6 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

Below is a review round-up from opening night:

New York Times: "Beyoncé and Jay Z, married since 2008, opened their sold-out Wednesday night show at Sun Life Stadium here — the beginning of their “On the Run” tour — with a string of those [conspiratorial and exuberant] hits. “ ’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” “Upgrade U,” “Crazy in Love”: These are songs of diligent, enthusiastic, sometimes giddy love. From there, for almost two and a half hours, they traded control of the stage (approximately 20 times in all), giving each other space to be the center of attention and also helping out where needed in a show that acknowledged their two very different sorts of success without diminishing either one…While Beyoncé and her dancers formed a formidable phalanx, by comparison, Jay Z looked lonely, though he easily held the stage, even without backup. On some of his most familiar songs, he rapped in a ginger staccato, as if he didn’t want to dwell. By contrast, every time Beyoncé retook the stage from her husband, it was as if reveille were blasting at full volume, announcing that boot camp had begun. Jay Z allowed for breezy enjoyment; Beyoncé demanded full and reverent attention."

Billboard: "The sheer volume of material, coupled with the cinematic theme (more on that later) and Beyoncé’s jaw-dropping wardrobe changes made for a highly entertaining and impressive show that went from the glamorous to the profane…But it was also a rather detached show… the lines between performers and audience were very sharply delineated and both Jay and Beyoncé’s were careful to adhere to script and procedure every step of the way…Alternating in the sparse, almost industrial-looking stage, Beyoncé and Jay-Z proceeded to take us on a journey of fashion, high-level performance and music, always returning to the central theme of love—challenged, perhaps, but finally standing strong."

The Guardian: "Some songs came in snippets and the show occasionally felt rushed, but with over two decades of work under their jointed belts, how else could they get through their catalogue without pushing the three-hour mark?…The tour played into both of the pair's strengths: Jay brought the Brooklyn bravado and Bey brought the southern strut. Next his wife, Jay Z isn't much a dancer, and when the tempo upped, he respectfully exited, letting her lead her Beyhive legions through their hip-shaking glory."

USA Today: "Early on, it becomes apparent that this is a totally integrated performance. Sure, it gives Beyoncé time for her phenomenal costume changes, but the coordination is not just remarkable, it's the absolute best way that two of the world's best performers can deliver a show that proves why they're on top together…This show is worth it just for Beyoncé's ensembles. She reappears in a black lace, drop-sleeve number, a la Stevie Nicks, for Haunted, a highlight performance, boasting creamy vocals that contrast with other awesome numbers like the more agro Flawless and triumphant Crazy In Love. Her vocal range is as vast as her fashion choices."

Rolling Stone: "The most powerful couple in music could have easily just coasted on their names, performing a sparse half-Jay/half-Bey concert before cashing the Roc Nation checks. Instead, over the course of two-and-a-half hours and 42 songs, the Carters opened their joint On the Run tour with a well synchronized cinematic spectacle…Husband and wife might get equal billing here, but make no mistake: This is Beyoncé's show. She monopolized the heavy-duty set pieces, she wore the jaw-dropping outfits, she delivered the mesmerizing and complex choreography. Perhaps a little too often, it felt like Jay Z was there just to kill time between his wife's costume changes, but what better way to kill time than have one of the greatest rappers of all time rifle through a few of his biggest tunes."

 

 

 

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Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy' sits pretty atop the singles chart

Could Magic's 'Rude' topple her from her throne?

The rapper from down under remains on top again, as Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” featuring Charli XCX, holds at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the fifth week.

Similarly, Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” which features Azalea, stays at No. 2.  Ashanti is the only other female artist to have logged 5 weeks simultaneously at No. 1 and No. 2 12 years ago with “Foolish” and as the featured artist on Joe’s “What’s Luv.” Last year, Pharrell Williams held down the top two spots at the same time for five weeks with Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which also featured T.I. and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” according to Billboard.

Both “Fancy” and “Problem” are losing overall Hot 100 points (the tally measures sales, airplay, and streaming) leaving Magic!’s “Rude” the chance to leapfrog from No. 3 to No. 1 next week.

Two other newcomers move into the top 5:  Nico & Vinz climb 7-4 with “Am I Wrong,” while Sam Smith, whose “In The Lonely Hour” enters the Billboard 200 at No. 2,  moves 10-5 with current single, “Stay With Me” (he also rises 14-12 via his feature on Disclosure’s “Latch.”

In the bottom half of the Top 10: Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle,” featuring Snoop Dogg slips 5-6, John Legend’s “All of Me” falls 4-7, Calvin Harris’ “Summer” inches 9-8, DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What” drops 6-9 and Pharrell’s “Happy” spends what could be its last week in the Top 10, sliding 8-10.

Just missing the Top 10, Maroon 5 bows at No 14 with new single, “Maps.” That’s the best debut for any group so far in 2014.

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Michael Jackson

5 reasons we'll never see another artist like Michael Jackson

Today marks the fifth anniversary of his death

Five years ago today Michael Jackson died. It feels like it was yesterday. His music still floods the airwaves and theaters and his popularity remains undiminished.

Here are five reasons we’ll never see the likes of his singular talent again:

1. He had time to develop: There’s no real development process anymore: whether it’s the immediacy of “American Idol,” “The Voice,” etc., or YouTube, wanna-be artists get exposure often way before they are ready—even though they think they are. Jackson and his brothers incubated in Gary, Ind., away from any spotlight. Though Michael became famous at a very, very early age, that was only after the Jackson 5 had worked their way up through local talent shows, regional tours and more before Motown signed them in 1969 (after initially rejecting them in 1967).

2. He was born a star: Jackson came alive on stage in a way that only a handful of artists since the advent of modern entertainment have: Elvis, Jackson, Springsteen. These aren’t artists who simply enjoyed/enjoy being on stage: They crave it and have to have it and feel more alive on stage than anywhere else. There is a magic that happens when the lights go down and they walk on the stage that can’t be taught, it can’t be learned. It can be nurtured, but you’re either born with it or you’re not and 99.999% of all performers aren’t. Jackson was.

3. He worked hard: Jackson had an unbelievable amount of talent bestowed upon him by the talent gods, but he then took those gifts and worked on them incessantly. He studied Gene Kelly’s dance moves, he practiced singing and worked to find different places his voice could go. He was constantly trying to improve and up his game. There never seemed to be a moment where he felt like he could rest on his laurels.

4. He didn’t play it safe: It’s easy to forget how adventurous he was musically because the risks he took have since cleared the path for other artists. When “Beat It” came out, the thought of having a rock solo by the likes of Eddie Van Halen on a pop/R&B track was unheard of…and he encountered plenty of push back. Just like pioneers always do.  He transcended genres with a fearless abandon and commitment to pushing music forward.

5. He could sing: His stage presence and dance ability were so otherworldly, it’s easy to overlook what a great vocalist he was. Listen to those records: the tear in his voice on “She’s Out Of My Life,” the hopeful determination in “Man In The Mirror,” unbridled joy on “The Way You Make Me Feel,” the growl in “Dirty Diana.”  He had range and strength, but he also had emotion. Not that many artists have that hat trick.

 

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Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert

5 things we learned from Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood's 'Somethin' Bad' video

Hair extensions trump all

They seemed like such nice girls… In their high-budget video for “Somethin’ Bad,” Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood—aka Belle Boyd and Priscilla Parker— play two girls gone bad on one crime caper after another.

The clip, which premiered today on CMT, plays out like a trailer for an action flick with opening and closing credits part of the package.  Lambert and Underwood, when they aren’t singing up against a police line-up wall, are busy planning heists that involve great costumes, motorcycles, card games, banks, and, above all, leather.  

Our five takeaways from the video (other than the fact that Lambert looks adorable in the brown wig and should totally try that look):

Playing in a high-stakes card game is a lot like attending the CMA or ACM Awards: the ladies are dressed in formal wear while the boys, for the most part, get to wear anything they rolled out of bed and put on.

They make lousy poker players. The signals they are sending each other and their tells are so obvious that anyone who continued to bet against them is an idiot. Be like Lady Gaga and work on that P-P-P-Poker Face.

It is far better to look good standing beside a motorcycle in a leather outfit with a head full of hair extensions and a wind machine than to actually be able to ride said motorcycle.

When in doubt, throw in an explosion.  After stealing jewelry from the vault at the bank where they have been working, our gals take time to change out of their catsuits into their getaway outfits (kind of like how you change from your wedding dress to an outfit to leave your reception) and as they run across the street there’s a random explosion in the bank that sends money and Underwood and Lambert flying. It’s just thrown in there because, well, every good action movie has an explosion or two, right?

Who says crime doesn’t pay?  The video ends with the ladies making a get away in a Mercedes (nice product placement) that takes them to a helicopter where they are undoubtedly headed for their next caper.

The song is No. 28 with a bullet on Billboard's Country Airplay chart.

 

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Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey responds to Frances Bean Cobain's criticism over 'dead' comment

Just think...if either of them had picked up the phone we'd have to find something else to talk about

Lana Del Rey has responded, via Twitter, of course, to Frances Bean Cobain’s Twitter criticism of Del Rey for saying she wishes she were already dead.

To recap, in words that Del Rey now says were provoked, the “Ultraviolence” singer told The Guardian that she wished she were already dead and that she doesn’t particularly enjoy what she’s doing, but will continue doing it anyway.

Cobain, whose father, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, killed himself  when his daughter was 1,  took to Twitter to chide Del Rey for “romanticizing” early death. Read her tweets here.

In a continuation of what has been a civilized exchange, Del Rey tweeted back to Cobain yesterday: “It’s all good. He was asking me a lot [about] your dad. I said I liked him because he was a talent, not because he died young.”  She then added, “The other half of what I said wasn’t really related to the people he mentioned/I don’t find that part of music glam either.”

So their non-feud is over and all that’s left now is the obligatory photo of the two of them meeting and hugging it out… which they will immediately post on Instagram.

It’s really hard to imagine how websites and blogs had enough to report on before Twitter launched in 2006 and even harder to imagine that celebrities didn’t feel the need to tweet every thought that passed through their head.  

Cobain was smart: she (and any other celebrity with any media savvy) knew that all she had to do was send a tweet to Lana Del Rey for the inter webs to blow up and she was right. And Del Rey knew once she responded it would make news. I’m sure the thought of picking up their phones and actually having a private conversation about it never occurred to either one of them…because if the rest of the world doesn't know about it, that means it never happening, right?  Instead, everything plays out in a public forum now. Cobain understands the currency her tweets have and that Del Rey is hot right now. The combination is combustible. I realize this is not new at all and has been the modus operandi for quite some time, but, for some reason, this exchange really highlighted to me the extent to which we bloggers jump on anything slightly tantalizing for potential click bait.  Vicious circle…

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David Guetta has the 'perfect' song for Miley Cyrus

David Guetta has the 'perfect' song for Miley Cyrus

Watch as he and the interviewer speak in their own language that no one else can understand

DJ extraordinaire David Guetta has written a track that he thinks would be just perfect for Miley Cyrus.

While we imagine almost any DJ would like to have Cyrus on his album, Guetta’s track record suggests that he stands a better chance that most.

Backstage at Capital FM’s Summertime Ball in London, he told an interviewer, “Oh my God, we made a song, she would be so perfect for the song. We did it like two days ago. It’s such an obvious song for her. I’m like, “Wow, who could pull it off?” And she would be totally the one.”

The interviewer then uses a broadened hand gesture, as she asks, “Is it like really like a  (opens her arms) type of track  because Miley’s a bad girl, she just does what she wants.”

And then Guetta, as if he actually understood what that meant, nods and says, “It’s really like this.” You can watch their exchange here.

So…unless you understood the mind meld between Guetta and the interviewer, you’re  probably like the rest of us with absolutely no idea of what just transpired other than Guetta has now put out into the universe that he has a song he’d like to collaborate with Cyrus on.

No word if Guetta managed to connect with Cyrus, who was also playing the festival. But given the success of 2011’s “Nothing But The Beat,” which included mega hits, “Without You,” featuring Usher, and “Titanium,” featuring Sia, Cyrus’s people may want to contact Guetta’s people.

Last week, Guetta released video for hardcore dance track “Blast Off,” featuring  Australian DJ/songer Kaz James, which also includes some pretty heavy guitar riffs.

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Prince's 'Batman' and 13 other top soundtracks by one artist

Prince's 'Batman' and 13 other top soundtracks by one artist

"The Graduate," "Magnolia," and "Harold & Maude" also make the list

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of “Batman,” a movie that is much beloved by much of the Hitfix staff, not only for Tim Burton’s dystopian vision of Gotham, but for Prince’s outrageously dynamic soundtrack and Danny Elfman's ominous score.  Five years after Prince’s magnum opus, “Purple Rain”—and two years after the less-said-about-it-better “Under the Cherry Moon”—Prince’s songs for “Batman” became as synonymous with  the movie as Michael Keaton’s doleful Batman and Jack Nicholson’s over-the-top Joker.  Using Prince, who recorded for Warner Bros., provided nice synergy between the film studio and the record label.

Of course, by 1989, quite a few movies had featured soundtracks composed by one act:  Simon & Garfunkel and “The Graduate,” Curtis Mayfield and “Superfly,” and Bob Dylan and “Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid,” to name a few. Not only was Prince's soundtrack a perfect fit for the movie,  it was a commercial success, spending six weeks atop the Billboard 200 and selling more than 3 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Below are our top picks for best soundtracks by one artists.  A few caveats: While in some cases, the artist also wrote some of the score, we did not include score-only contributions; we also allowed for a little leeway if one or two songs by another artist was included in the soundtrack, as long as the overwhelming majority was by one artist (that’s why “Saturday Night Live” isn’t among our selections). We also didn’t include vehicles about the acts where they provided the score (like The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night”).

Check out our other "Batman" coverage:

25 Years Later: What Happened to the "Batman" cast and crew
Kris Tapley's homage to "Batman"
Our Favorite lines from "Batman" we can't stop quoting
From Batman to Joker: Which Actor Played These "Batman" Roles Best?

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Ed Sheeran

Album Review: Ed Sheeran's 'X' adds up to strong, confessional set

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
British singer/songwriter gets assist from Pharrell Williams and Rick Rubin

Ed Sheeran is a ginger Byron for the Millennial generation: he documents his alcohol-soaked misadventures in love with a dark vulnerability that seems to grasp that they are often doomed before they start. And yet, Sheeran goes back to dead-end road again and again looking for a different result, filled with optimism.

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Lana Del Rey

Frances Bean Cobain to Lana Del Rey: Stop 'romanticizing' early death

Kurt Cobain's daughter passionately takes on the 'Ultraviolence' singer

Lana Del Rey ignited a firestorm a few weeks ago when she told a reporter for U.K. newspaper The Guardian that she wished she were dead already.

In the article, the singer, whose new album, “Ultraviolence,” will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, brings up Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse and admits that she thinks their early deaths help make them more glamorous.

Now, Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, has jumped into the fray to remind Del Rey that when people like her dad die young there’s really nothing glamorous about it.

In a series of tweets posted Sunday night, Cobain, 21, said (we’re stringing them all together here and using her spelling and shorthand): “@Lana Del Rey the death of young musicians isn’t something to romanticize…I’ll never know my father because he died young and it becomes a desirable feat because ppl like u think it’s “cool”…Well, it’s fu**king not. Embrace life because u only get one life. The ppl u mentioned wasted their life. Don’t be 1 of those ppl.”

Cobain then responded to a Twitter poster who wanted her to lay off Del Rey, who, herself, took to Twitter last Thursday (in tweets since deleted) to say the reporter’s questions “about death and persona were calculated…I regret trusting The Guardian.” The reporter has posted the audio of the interview on SoundCloud so people can hear it for themselves.

Cobain didn’t back down, however, and in a measured, mature way, answered “I told her to not waste her life. How is that attacking. I literally said embrace this life because u only get 1.” Cobain then tweeted to Del Rey, “ur too talented to waste it away.”

Those tweets have all been taken down. The only one that remains is one from Cobain saying, "I'm not attacking anyone. I have no animosity towards Lana. I was just trying to put things in perspective from personal experience."

Del Rey, who has not publicly responded to Cobain’s tweets, has the right to say whatever she wants, but should realize that she has many young fans who take her dead-eyed persona and her words very seriously.

Should Del Rey decide that dying young really is glamorous, imagine her dismay at knowing she’s too old to join the 27 Club… that’s how old Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse all were when they died.

Del Rey turned 28 on Saturday (21).

Was Cobain right to take on Del Rey?

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Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey, Sam Smith and Linkin Park open big on next week's album chart

What happens with Jennifer Lopez's 'A.K.A.?'


Next week proves to be a big week for debuts in the Billboard 200 top 10 as Lana Del Rey, Sam Smith, and Linkin Park all top the 100,000 mark.

Though Smith’s “In The Lonely Hour” is coming on strong, heading into the weekend, Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” has a good lead on the British newcomer, as the chanteuse’s second full-length album is on target to sell up to 190,000 copies and bow at No. 1. “Hour”is looking good for 160,000 and No. 2, but with the chart not closing until Sunday night, there could be a weekend surprise.

Linkin Park’s latest, “The Hunting Party,” will slide into six figures, selling as many as 110,000 copies in its opening frame to enter at No. 3.

Also bowing in the top 10: Willie Nelson’s “Band of Brothers” make a high debut for the troubadour, landing at No. 6 (40,000); Jennifer Lopez’s “A.K.A.” at No. 8 (32,000) and Deadmau5’s  “While (1<2)” at No. 10 (30,000).

Lopez’s low sales numbers are the shocker as both “A.K.A.” and Mariah Carey’s latest, “Me. I Am Mariah…the Elusive Chanteuse,” came in with some of the weakest first week numbers of the singers’ careers. Whether they aren’t connecting with their fan base or are trying too hard—and missing— by seeking younger fans, there’s a disconnect going on in both cases.

As far as the returning titles, “Frozen” hangs in there at No. 4 (45,000), Miranda Lambert’s former chart topper, “Platinum” at No. 5 (40,000), Jack White’s “Lazaretto” at No. 7 (32,000), and “Now That’s What I Call Music 50” at No. 9 (30,000).

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