Jay Z's fiery new video for 'Holy Grail' with Justin Timberlake: Watch

Jay Z's fiery new video for 'Holy Grail' with Justin Timberlake: Watch

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Brooding clip explores the fame game

Jay Z’s intense video for “Holy Grail,” Justin Timberlake, bowed today on Facebook.

The top 10 track, which extrapolates Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is a study on fame and how corrosive and addictive it can be.

The best  scene of the video is Justin TImberlake’s interlude, which features him walking among sheet-covered furniture composed of  moving dancers.

While it’s a little hard for us common folks to sympathize with Jay Z’s complaints about fame (and even he tells himself to get off his “high horse”), the Anthony Mandler-directed clip is a visual feast that ends in upsetting crash, symbolic of the fickleness of fame.

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Go behind the scenes as Nine Inch Nails preps for 2013 tour: Watch

Go behind the scenes as Nine Inch Nails preps for 2013 tour: Watch

Do you think Trent Reznor is easy to please? Guess again...

Trent Reznor may be the face and name to Nine Inch Nails, but it’s a whole team behind him that puts together a tour, as a new Vevo behind-the-scenes feature shows.

The 13-minute movie starts 18 days before Nine Inch Nails will play its first 2013 show at the Fuji Rock Festival on July 26. The band has already been rehearsing for a few months, but there’s still lots to be done in creating the multi-media show that Reznor is known for.

Tensions escalate as the Fuji date approaches. “Trend demands, demands, demands excellence in everything,” says his Rob Sheridan, his longtime art director. “We want the best always. That  high level of expectation leads to a lot of stressful moments.”

Cut to a few minutes later, two days before the Fuji fest and an exasperated Reznor is saying to his team, “It’s all fucked up right?”  In a Come To Jesus meeting with the crew, he says, “We had it the first day. It looked fantastic. Since then, it’s looked shittier.”

Come the Fuji Rock Fest, Reznor’s wondering how the show, which features new music, a new band, and new production, will come off, especially in the pouring rain.

The U.S. leg of the Nine Inch Nails: Tension tour starts Sept. 28 in St. Paul, Minn.

Nine Inch Nails’ new album, “Hesitation Marks,” comes out Sept. 3 and is streaming on iTunes now.

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<p>Macklemore</p>

Macklemore

Credit: AP Photo

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on a new album and the 'nervewracking' VMAs

'I didn't think we had one single on 'The Heist,' says Macklemore

LOS ANGELES—Don’t look for a new Macklemore & Ryan Lewis album anytime soon.

The pair, whose breakthrough album, “The Heist,” has spawned three radio hits and is still in the top 20 on the Billboard 200, plans to take some time to “live life” and refuel their creative tanks after they finish their current tour at the end of the year.

Speaking at the Grammy Museum here Wednesday night, Lewis admitted that the pressure to top themselves following the platinum success of “The Heist” was there, but that the duo knew it would be wrong to try to rush out a follow-up quickly —although he added the next album might not take the three years it took to make “The Heist.”

“By Christmas, we would have played 250 shows since ‘The Heist’ came out,” Lewis said. “To go straight into the studio [without a break] and think you have something to share would be wrong...If you don’t have shit to say, you don’t have shit to say.” 

Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) said he’s tried to write on the road, but with little success since he writes what he knows. “We’ve been traveling every day,” he says, adding that his lyrics on tour usually amount to “‘I’m on an airplane.’ No one wants to hear that song ever,” he said with a laugh.

And about those radio hits, “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” and “Same Love”? Macklemore says he never expected the success the pair has received at Top 40 radio. “I didn’t think we had one single on ‘The Heist’,” he said. “I didn’t think it would get radio play.”

Then when the Seattle act scored big with “Thrift Shop,” featuring Wanz, and the song stayed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for six non-consecutive weeks, Macklemore worried that the pair would be seen as a novelty act. “I was the ‘Thrift Shop’ guy and it was scary as hell,” he says. “Then, ‘Can’t Hold Us’ relieved some of that, and with ‘Some Love,’ the fear was completely eased.”

A number of the songs on “The Heist” take on issues, whether it be “Same Love’s” warm embrace of same sex marriage or “Wings,” which stresses anti-consumerism. Macklemore said he knows it’s a fine line between making a point and preaching, and he’s careful not to cross it. “I write from experience. I try to do it from my perspective from my own life,” he said. “‘Wings’ is about anti-consumerism. I acknowledge I’m caught up in it. All of these are my issues; my means of communication is to be vulnerable.”

And he admits he felt very vulnerable as he wrote the lyrics to “Same Love.”  The line, “in third grade, I thought that I was gay” was the “scariest bars I ever put on a song, but that’s my truth. People on the internet are going to say ‘you’re a homo.’ I don’t care.” He reiterated the comment he made during his acceptance speech for Video with the Best Social Message at Sunday’s Video Music Awards that “Same Love” remains the duo’s song he is the proudest to have written.

Macklemore referred to the VMAs as a “nervewracking” experience, not because it was the pair’s first performance at a major awards show, but because he didn’t know how to win and award and give an acceptance speech. “You don’t want to mess that up,” he said, before he and Lewis gave a shout out to their publicist in the audience whom they did forget to thank from the Barclays Center stage on Sunday.

With their rising popularity, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are having the most success of any Seattle rap act since Sir Mix-A-Lot hit it big with 1992’s “Baby Got Back.” And while they hope other local hip-hop artists follow their lead, Macklemore is in no way ready to hand over the mic.

“As much as you want to pass the torch, as an MC, by nature I’m a competitive person,” he said. “It’s ego. I want to be the biggest rapper that ever came out of Seattle.”

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<p>Paul McCartney</p>

Paul McCartney

Listen: Paul McCartney's jaunty, new track, 'New'

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Superstar's next album, 'New,' arrives Oct. 15

Paul McCartney dropped a new tune, “New,” today that, to the joy of Beatles’ fans, sounds delightfully old.

Produced by Mark Ronson, “New” is a sweet pop slice that slides in at under 3 minutes. “All my life, I never knew what I could be, what I could do, then we were new,” McCartney sings on the jangly, jaunty, horn-laden tune that sounds like it could be a “Revolver” outtake. There’s a glorious Beach Boy-like vocalization that fades out at the end that adds to the track's innocent charm.

McCartney’s 16th solo album, also titled “New,” will come out Oct. 15 in the U.S. and will be his first album of all new material in six years. His last set, 2012’s “Kisses On The Bottom,” was composed of standards, with a few new tracks.

In addition to Ronson, McCartney worked with Adele producer Paul Epworth, Ethan Johns, and George Martin’s son, Giles, according to Rolling Stone.  The album will be 12 songs.

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<p>Robin Thicke and friends at the VMAs.</p>

Robin Thicke and friends at the VMAs.

Credit: AP Photo

Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' tops Billboard Hot 100 for 12th week

Which two acts score their first Top 10 hits this week?

Of the 35 weeks so far in 2013, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has been the No. 1 song on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for more than one/third of them.

This week, Thicke’s streak continues as “Lines,” featuring Pharrell and T.I., spends its 12th week at No. 1, holding off Katy Perry’s “Roar” for at least one more frame. It is only the 14th song to have that long a stint at No. 1 in the Hot 100’s 55-year history.

For the first time during its reign, “Blurred Lines” shows a slight dip in radio listenership, so that may be a sign that the song is losing its stranglehold.  Perry’s “Roar” drops in digital sales after its amazing 550,000 tally last week, but gains in airplay and streaming to stay at No. 2.

Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” remains at No. 3, but she could definitely see a bump after her attention-getting performance at Sunday’s Video Music Awards on MTV.

Lady Gaga, who opened the VMAs, could also see another rise next week. Regardless, the song continues its upward trajectory this week, as it climbs 6-4, propelled largely by streaming of the video.

All hail Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” as it falls 4-5, but celebrates its 52nd week on the Billboard Hot 100. It is only the second song, following Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep” to spend a full year on the Hot 100, according to Billboard.

Rounding out the top 10, Jay Z’s “Holy Grail,” featuring Justin Timberlake falls 5-6, Avicii lands his first top 10 as “Wake Me Up”  soars 11-7. Capitol Cities’ “Safe And Sound” ticks up two to No. 8, while Lana Del Rey also sees her first Top 10 hit with “Summertime Sadness,” featuring Cedric Gervais, as it rises 15-9. Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” drops 7-10.

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<p>Nine Inch Nails</p>

Nine Inch Nails

Credit: AP Photo

Stream Nine Inch Nail's new album, 'Hesitation Marks' in full now

Hear Trent Reznor's latest one week before its official release

Nine Inch Nails’ “Hesitation Marks” isn’t out until next Tuesday (Sept. 3), but fans can stream NIN's album in its entirety now via iTunes.

The album comes in standard and deluxe versions (and with four covers), with the latter featuring three bonus tracks: "Find My Way (Oneohtrix Point Never Remix)," "All Time Low (Todd Rundgren remix)" and "While I'm Still Here (Breyer P-Orridge 'Howler' Remix)" ( OK, how cool is a Todd Rundgren remix? )

First single, “Came Back Haunted,” has reached Top 10 at Modern Rock Radio, while the poppy (by NIN standards) second single, “Everything” is also doing well.

Recorded by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder, “Hesitation Marks” is Nine Inch Nails’ first album in five years and features Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Crimson’s Adrian Belew (who was in NIN for a hot minute), and bassist Pino Palladino.

And if you’re not busy on Sept. 3, Nine Inch Nails will be playing a record release show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour.  The full arena tour starts Sept. 28




 

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Justin Timberlake talks 'sense of desperation' in making 'The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2'

Justin Timberlake talks 'sense of desperation' in making 'The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2'

Watch his teaser for the sequel

Fresh off his 15-minute performance at Sunday night’s Video Music Awards (giving the only appearance people are talking about other than Miley Cyrus’s twerkfest), Justin Timberlake has posted a trailer for his “The 20/20 Experience —2 of 2.”  The set comes out Sept. 30.

The combined albums—"The 20/20 Experience" came out in March and is the biggest selling album of 2013 —took 20 days to record in the studio and Timberlake just couldn’t stop as the songs came tumbling out.

Timberlake also posted an open letter on his website, noting that he wrote the songs for the two sets “over a year ago, it’s been so hard to wait this long to release them. I can’t wait for you to hear The 20/20 Experience in full.”

He also promises more action to come: “Catch your breath, TN kids,” he write, alluding to the pet name he’s given his band for this project. “We’ve still got the 3rd and 4th quarter to go.” In other words, we’re just coming up on halftime.  Timberlake, who just completed a stadium tour with Jay Z, has his own arena tour coming up for the rest of the year.

He concludes the letter with “This is too much fun.”

The video shows Timberlake and producer Timbaland goofing around in the studio as Timberlake talks about the speed with which the projects came together. “We usually take our time,” he says, and I felt like it would drive the creativity in a different way to feel like we had to spring every day and it would hyper-focus us.”  He also says he felt like he "owed" it to himself to exploit this "sense of desperation" to make music.

 

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Album art for Scotty McCreery's 'See You Tonight'

Album art for Scotty McCreery's 'See You Tonight'

Credit: Universal Music

New Scotty McCreery album, 'See You Tonight,' out Oct. 15

Watch his new trio perform

American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery’s new album, “See You Tonight,” will come out Oct. 15.

Produced by Frank Rogers, best known for his work with Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker, the album features a number of tracks co-written by McCreery.

“This album is a big step from where we were. I have been writing for a long time now, since I was a kid, but these are the first songs I've had a chance to record and release to the public and I'm excited,” says McCreery, in a statement. “I was lucky to have my first single off the record be one that I co-wrote.  I am excited about letting folks hear it. We have been working on this for the better part of a year now, so it's a long time coming.”

McCreery also suggested that the album will have an “old-school country” feel. “You will hear the contemporary country, but you will always hear the steel guitar and fiddle and those little nuances that make the older country what it was. I definitely am trying to stay true to my tastes as an artist on this album,” he says.

The album follows his platinum-selling debut, 2011’s “Clear As Day,” and last year’s “Christmas with Scotty McCreery.”  First single, the title track, is at country radio now.

McCreery, who is in his sophomore year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and is an ardent Wolfpack fan, debuted his new trio over the weekend at Packapalooza, a back-to-school rally/street festival. McCreery was joined by NSCU head football coach Dave Doeren and NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson on “Wagon Wheel," which has special meaning for Raleigh-ites (says this proud one).  The video is embedded below the track listing for “See You Tonight.”

How long before you think he switches from "Scotty" to "Scott?" I say the switch happens with the next album.

"See You Tonight" track listing:
 

1.         NOW - Written by Scotty McCreery, busbee and Frank Rogers
2.         SEE YOU TONIGHT  - Written by Scotty McCreery, Ashley Gorley and Zach Crowell
3.         GET GONE WITH YOU - Written by Ross Copperman, Lynn Hutton and Tammi Kidd Hutton
4.         FEELIN' IT -Written by Frank Rogers and Matthew West
5.         FEEL GOOD SUMMER SONG -Written by J. T. Harding, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne
6.         BUZZIN' -Written by busbee and Frank Rogers
7.         CAN YOU FEEL IT -Written by Scotty McCreery, Ashley Gorley and Zach Crowell
8.         THE DASH  -Written by Kyle Jacobs and Preston Brust
9.         BLUE JEAN BABY -Written by Matt Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Matt Jenkins
10.       FORGET TO FORGET YOU -Written by Casey Beathard and Michael Dulaney
11.       I DON'T WANNA BE YOUR FRIEND -Written by Scotty McCreery, Frank Rogers and David Fanning           
12.       CAROLINA MOON -Written by Jon Randall Stewart and Ronnie Stewart
13.       SOMETHING MORE -Written by Scotty McCreery and Frank Rogers

 

 

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<p>Lucy Hale in the studio</p>

Lucy Hale in the studio

Lucy Hale from 'Pretty Little Liars' recording country album

What would Aria say?

Pretty Little Liars’” Lucy Hale has a secret of her own: she’s been working on a country album.

Hale, who plays Aria Montgomery on the hit ABC Family series,  grew up listening to Faith Hill, Martina McBride, and Shania Twain, according to press release. Between filming the series and her other duties, such as recently co-hosting the Teen Choice Awards, Hale has been making the trek to Music City to write and record her debut album with producer Mark Bright. Bright has produced albums for artists like Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery and Rascal Flatts.

The first single will come out early next year with the full album to follow on Disney Music Group Nashville/Bigger Picture Group.

Hale will start the all important step of  kissing babies and shaking hands with country programmers this fall as she hits the road to let them know that country music is, really, truly, her first love.

 

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<p>We'll call this photo &quot;reaching&quot;</p>

We'll call this photo "reaching"

Credit: AP Photo

An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus after the Video Music Awards and her 'publicity art'

Thanks for the 'Baby's First Twerk' instructional video, but time to move on

Dear Miley,

I’m not really sure why you feel the need to keep stabbing any existing memory of  “Hannah Montana” in the heart. We got it a few years ago when you performed “Party in the USA” and used the pole on an ice cream cart as a stripper pole. We got it again—over and over—with the various photo spreads with you showing off body parts, grabbing your crotch— and the videos that are your own version of “Girls Gone Wild.” Move over, Joe Francis. And we got it again last night in your Video Music Award stripper act performance.

You pretty much buried Hannah Montana for good after the last movie in 2010 (I know, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been way longer than that), and you can stop dedicating every minute to stomping on her grave now.  We got it. You are never, ever getting back together with that boring little school girl. Not when there’s molly to ingest and beer to drink and miles of twerking to go before you sleep.

Your "We Can't Stop" performance at the VMAs last night, as you grinded up against dancers dressed as plushie teddy bears, looked like something out of a misguided “Baby’s First Twerk” home video.  Really, no one wants to see that and it’s a good thing that Robin Thicke had on sunglasses for your performance together on “Blurred Lines” so we couldn’t see his reaction as you stroked his crotch with a foam finger. Somehow, you made the women in the “Blurred Lines” video look classy. Nice job!

A friend of mine has coined a new term for performances like yours. He calls it "publicity art." It's certainly not music and it's not really performance art —there's not that much thought put into it. It's a calculated attempt at grabbing headlines and it works. But only for so long. And the really irritating thing about it is you have to keep upping the ante. No performer can keep that up forever.

Instead of trying to shock us with how shocking you are and expecting us all to clutch our pearls, why not really stun us with something: show us that you can sing. Some of us know you can from songs like "The Climb" and "Wrecking Ball," the song you released yesterday, but a lot of folks need a reminder.  You don’t have to stop dancing or even twerking and stomping around like some awkward dinosaur, but it would be nice if you quit sticking out your tongue more than Gene Simmons. It’s almost like you have a facial tic.

No one expects you to dress up like you’re headed to a church social though you certainly got some great reactions, including Rihanna’s stony-faced, slightly bemused one. Not like she’s one to talk.

We already know you  Can’t Be Tamed. That’s so 2010. Why not show us that you can’t be stopped because you’re simply too talented.

Thanks,
Melinda 

 

 

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