The top 5 reasons Eminem still matters
Credit: Interscope

The top 5 reasons Eminem still matters

Here's why "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" will open huge

Eminem’s new album, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” comes out today. In addition to receiving primarily strong reviews, the album is expected to be one of the year’s top sellers, with opening week sales projections to be as high as 750,000, according to Billboard.

That will give “MMLP2” the second-highest sales week of the year, behind Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which sold 968,000 copies. Eminem’s first week numbers should easily eclipse the current second-place  holder, Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” which sold 658,000 in its opening frame.

It’s been 14 years since Eminem’s major label debut, “The Slim Shady LP,” arrived (that will be his only studio album not to reach No. 1, by the way) and he’s captivated and repulsed listeners ever since, but he’s never bored us. Many  superstar rappers such as Kayne West, Kendrick Lamar and Drake have come after him, but he's still at the top of his game.

Here are the top 5 reasons why Eminem still matters:

1. His delivery: Just listen to any number of Eminem’s songs, including the tongue-in-cheek “Rap God” on the new album. It’s dizzying to hear how quickly, cleanly and smoothly he raps. He has a dexterity and flow that many other rappers don’t (though Kendrick Lamar gives him a good run for his money on “Love Game.”). Even if you don’t like what he’s saying, it’s often astonishing to hear how well he says it.

2. He’s not afraid to show his vulnerability: Many rappers are more concerned with showing their swagger and their invincibility, whereas Eminem really puts it out there just how severely screwed up he is...and people respond to that. Yes, his homophobic and misogynistic comments can get tiresome (even if you buy, as he insists, that he’s merely playing a persona), but the one thing that is very clear: he saves his greatest amount of vitriol and loathing for himself.

3. He is a great rap lyricist:
While some folks would say Nas or Jay Z are rap’s best lyricists (and Tupac was its No. 1 poet), Eminem definitely comes out at the very top. Yes, plenty of what he says is puerile, but his mind works in a fascinating pattern. As he says in “Legacy,” it’s as if he’s linking crossword puzzles.

4. He can write both beats and melodies:
This, of course, is not a trait that a number of other rappers don’t share, but Eminem just seems to have a better sense of melody than others. And while he’s not the strongest singer, he also is among the elite group of rappers who can sing as well as rap.

5. He lets his music do the talking: Part of Eminem’s appeal is that he doesn’t care about being a celebrity. If anything, he wants to be left alone. Some of that may have been because of his substance issues, but if we hear something about his personal life (yes, we're talking to you, Kanye), it’s certainly not because he’s let it out. In this age of oversharing, it’s a relief.

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<p>David Bowie</p>

David Bowie

Win a David Bowie 'The Next Day' Extra CD prize pack! Enter our Retweet contest

Receive the 3 CD/DVD 'The Next Day' Extra and three rare vinyl singles

David Bowie’s album, “The Next Day,” is one of the year’s most acclaimed releases of the year. Songs like “Where Are We Now, “ “The Stars (Are Out Tonight,” and “Love is Lost” showed the legendary British visionary still had plenty to say, and said it in his beautifully unique style.

Today (5), Bowie releases “The Next Day” Extra, a deluxe 3-CD/DVD package that includes eight bonus songs, two new remixes, a DVD containing all 4 music videos from “The Next Day,” exclusive artwork, photos and more.

But wait! You don’t have to buy it because we’re giving it away for free to one lucky HitFix reader.

And there’s more!

The prize pack includes:

“The Next Day” Extra
AND 3 rare David Bowie vinyl singles:
-“The Next Day”
-“The Stars Are Out Tonight
-“Valentine’s Day.”

Here’s how you enter:
RETWEET the below tweet about the contest AND follow me @HitfixMelinda

 


AND/OR:
RETWEET this tweet and follow @HitFix

 

 


RULES:  You must be a U.S. resident, 18 and older to win. Tweets from Private Twitter accounts will not be counted (because we can't see them). Contest ends Nov. 8 at 11:59 p.m. PT. HitFix retains the right to discount any tweets we deem inappropriate or suspicious. Winner will be selected randomly from retweets of both the above tweets. Winner will be contacted via Direct Message on Twitter.

 

And after you enter, check out David Bowie's latest video for "Love is Lost," made for $12.99.

Te

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Lady Gaga splits with longtime manager on eve of 'ArtPop's' release

Troy Carter had represented the singer since 2007

A week before the release of her fourth studio album, “ArtPop,” Lady Gaga and her longtime manager, Troy Carter have split.

Carter had managed Lady Gaga since 2007, before the release of her first album on Streamline/Interscope.

Showbiz411, which broke the news
, attributed the split to creative differences, adding that Lady Gaga had not sought Carter’s advice on the “ArtPop” campaign and had cut him out of the loop.

Lady Gaga performed “Dope,” a new song from “ArtPop,” at Sunday’s YouTube Awards. It was an emotionally charged rendition of the ballad, but, as always with Gaga, it’s hard to tell if her becoming slightly unhinged was part of the performance or something more.

In the past, Lady Gaga relied on Carter to make the bulk of the business decisions, allowing Lady Gaga to focus on the creative, according to The Hollywood Reporter. From the start, “she was very specific about her vision, all of the music was there, and all she needed was someone to help translate it ot the rest of the world,” he told the Reporter earlier this year.

Among the other artists Carter manages are John Legend. He also has a label through Capitol, and had invested in such music tech companies as Spotify and SoundCloud.

We’ve emailed Carter requesting confirmation and a comment.

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: AP Photo

Track-by-track review: Eminem's 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2' is a compelling return to form

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Is there anyone who can match his rapping dexterity?

Eminem’s head has always been an intensely troubling place to visit and, despite getting sober and turning 40, Marshall Mathers seems to have found little peace, but his irreverent sense of humor is definitely still in place amid the freak show.

On “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” out Tuesday (5), Eminem, Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin have made an album that is not so much a sequel to his 2000 classic, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” as it recalls his unselfconscious stream of consciousness from an era when he  was less concerned with spouting a mood and message as he was with taking you on a wild and, often, very darkly entertaining ride. For some, it will be a welcome return to form; for others, it will be a reductive step back. I'm in the former camp.

Eminem’s fluid style and ADD delivery have always seemed as if someone shot a pinball into his brain and it’s bouncing from synapse to synapse, bringing forth a blitzkrieg of disparate, manic spillage as it pings willy nilly all over the place. But on “Marshall Mathers LP 2,” the level of word play and nimbleness are, at times, exhilarating to hear. And he still manages to drop more cultural references per song than most artists do in a lifetime. Think of someone: A Kardashian, a Detroit Lions player,  Ray J, Gwen Stefani, even Helen Keller, they’re probably name checked here in some form or fashion.

Sadly, part of Eminem’s schtick is still to bring in personas who are homophobic and misogynistic on songs like “Rap God” and “Evil Twin,” and by now, it’s simply up to the listener to decide if that’s a reason not to listen because he’s not going to change. While it’s not an excuse, for all the hate he may spew at others (and he’s way worse on females than gays; Em still has serious, serious issues with women), he reserves the greatest amount of vitriol  for himself. Time has not seemed to tame his self loathing.

Though he’s a dad with first world problems and he has a little trouble keeping up with the young whippersnappers when it comes to technology, he admits that he’s still got the maturity level of a 13-year old boy, if that. On “So Far...” he raps, “Turned 40 and still sad/teenagers act more fucking mature.” Ain’t that the truth, but I’m not sure his fans would want it any other way.

After 2009’s “Relapse” and 2012’s “Recovery”  seemed almost claustrophobic, on “The Marshall Mathers LP2” feels wide open. Whether it’s Rick Rubin’s production or the smart use of samples, the result is an album that, while extremely dense, feels cohesive and well thought out, even if at times you wish Eminem would just save some of it for his overworked therapist. Let’s face it, he’s never boring.

A track by track review follows:

“Bad Guy”: All it takes is one song on the radio, Slim Shady says, and before you know it, he’s up to his old antics from the early days: killing people with a shovel. It turns out the psycho killer spiraling downward here is Stan’s little brother (remember “Stan” from The Marshall Mathers LP?) No Dido here on the track produced by The Dividends and Street Runner (there’s a clear dramatic division between the song’s two styles). It’s a bracing, hands-off-the wheel story of someone coming unhinged that serves as an interesting, though not particularly compelling, introduction: GRADE: B-

“Parking Lot”: A 55-second skit composed mainly of sounds of footsteps of Eminem running as sirens come after him,and, horrifically, the sound of him shooting a dog before he’s taken out. GRADE: D

“Rhyme Or Reason”: Built around the Zombies’ “Time of Season,” Eminem answers back to such lyrics as “What’s your name” and “Who’s Your Daddy,” before going into his very credible Yoda impression to reference Rick Rubin. A seamless amalgam of the rock classic and Eminem's singing and rapping that really shouldn’t work, but it does. “There’s no rhyme or no reason for nothing,” Eminem declares in this exercise in working out his still-raging Daddy issues. Eminem's “a white honky devil with two horns that don’t honk” who has come to take back what’s his.  GRADE: B+

“So Much Better”: Oh, let’s face it, who hasn’t thought “My life would be so much better if you just dropped dead.” This is a lurching, supposedly comedic look at someone who’s broken his heart and he’s not about to get over it. “If it wasn’t for blow jobs/you’d be unemployed,” he declares and in reference to Jay Z, she’s all 99 of his problems. Musically, it’s a fun romp, but his misogyny runs so rampant here, that it’s tough to take and when he ends with “I’m just playing bitch, you know I love you,” he only makes it worse.  GRADE: C

“Survival”: An in-your-face track that opens with ringing, throbbing guitars. Lyrically, Eminem details his rise in music and his devotion to his craft in stark life-or-death terms: “If I don’t do this music shit/I lose my shit,” in his usual intense, matter of fact way, as compares rhymes wit "coming into battle" with him compete with the automatic weapons. He warns any newcomers that taking him on will be a lost cause. A chorus, sung by the New Royales’ Liz Rodrigues, reinforces the “Survival” theme, as she sings, “This is survival of the fittest...this is winner take it all.” GRADE: B

“Legacy”:  A trip into Eminem’s past  as he discovers rapping will be his legacy and maybe having his brain wired differently was all worth it. He addresses his ability to link “lines like crosswords” declaring “I ain’t halting until I die of exhaustion,” to all who came after him on this skipping track. New York singer/songwriter Polina plays Dido’s ethereal part here. It’s as close as Eminem gets to a self-empowerment song. GRADE: B-

“Asshole” (featuring Skylar Grey): One of Eminem’s best rants as he runs through his career like a freight train (check out the percussion on the track) on this hard-charging track taking on everything from Helen Keller to Gwen Stefani to mass murderer James Holmes. “Sometimes I forget I’m a parent,” he says, admitting he probably should never have been one. It’s a bit of a “many a truth is said in jest” song with Grey’s light-handed touch adding to the levity. GRADE: A

“Berzerk”:  Producer Rick Rubin’s hand hovers over this track more than a number of the other tracks here. The beginning has a distinctly Beastie Boys’ party feel (thanks to some fun BB samples) and the melody, based around Billy Squier’s “Strokin’, brings in a rock element to this chaotic track that lives up to its name. GRADE: B

“Rap God”: His speed, breath control and range here is nothing short of astonishing as Eminem moves from one topic to the next with such dexterity that he leaves you breathless. He wrestles with his demons and takes no prisoners. By the end, he manages to piss off all his detractors, but there’s no denying his supremacy in this six-minute track that comes closest to earning him the Rap God mantle, even if he does want it to appear that the song is tongue in cheek.  GRADE: A 

“Brainless”: Using a somewhat familiar mid-tempo beat and loop, Eminem addresses bullying and “If I could just get my head out of my ass, I could accomplish any task.” Somewhat a cousin to “Legacy,” he revisits high school when he had rhymes falling out of his pocket and no one to listen to them. GRADE: B-

“Stronger Than I Was”: A bit of a change of pace that seems to be about a relationship that went horribly awry. This is the closest Eminem normally comes to a ballad and the closest he comes to singing. “I’ll still be hopeful when I scream Fuck You because I’m stronger than I was,” he sings, in what passes for an improvement in his book. GRADE: B-

“The Monster” featuring Rihanna: “Love the Way You Live” duo reunites on this tale of a man who’s a monster, who’s trying to tame the monsters inside his head. The song, which debuted at No. 1 on the UK singles chart, is a look at fame that’s as chilling as it is catchy, although with none of the heartstopping menace of "Lie." GRADE: B-

“So Far...”:  Shady returns and he just wants to be left alone, especially when he’s dropping a load... so remember not to ask for his autograph when he’s using the bathroom. Eminem raps over Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good,” as he details first world problems, many of them unique to celebrities, others to anyone who’s lucky enough to not struggle in a day-to-day existence. This love letter to Detroit also contains some of his most hilarious lyrics ever. “Turned 40 and still sad/teenagers act more fucking mature,” may be his truest lyric on the whole album. GRADE: B

“Love Game” featuring Kendrick Lamar: Sampling Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders’ 1965 hit,  “Game of Love,” “Love Game” is absolutely irresistible musically. He and Lamar tangle with the intricacies of love and in Eminem’s world, there’s perhaps no more romantic statement than “I f**king love you, f**king bitch,” especially as the girl is holding a gun to his face. He’s dumped a girl because she blew Kanye, Lil Wayne, and seemingly a whole roster of rappers, but neither he nor Lamar, who’s style complements Eminem perfectly here, can let her go. It’s horribly misogynistic, and yet cartoonish in a De La Soul crossed with Digital Underground way. GRADE: A

“Highlights”: featuring Nate Ruess:  As anyone knows, Eminem has mommy issues and they play out writ large here in this slow jam that serves as an apology to his mother, but explains why “I’ll always love you from afar.” There’s no happy ending here. His deadbeat dad still, understandably, raises his ire given that he would (as he has proved) follow his daughter “to the end of the atlas” to find her, yet his father couldn’t be bothered to find him when his mother moved across town.  Fun.s’ Ruess provides a delicate refrain of “I guess we are who we are” that gives the song a lightness and reinforces the forgiveness that Eminem is trying to bestow.  GRADE: B+

“Evil Twin”: A six-minute rant where Eminem manages to name drop Sarahs Palin and Marshall and Jessicas Simpson and Alba, as well as a phalanx of other famous folks, as he tries to convince us that his evil twin is responsible for all the mischief before allowing that they are one and the same. He throws back to "The Real Slim Shady" (note the Burger King reference) in a song that feels like retread.  GRADE: C


 

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<p>Justin Bieber live on Oct. 25</p>

Justin Bieber live on Oct. 25

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Bieber has a 'Bad Day' on new single

Is it another song about Selena Gomez?

It turns out Justin Bieber’s newest song, “Bad Day,” is definitely an apt title. In case you’ve missed the lastest Biebs’ news, in the last 72 hours, he was supposedly caught leaving a Brazilian brothel, then he was struck with a water bottle while performing in San Paulo, and then if that weren’t enough, Katy Perry surpassed him on Twitter to become the new queen of social media.

All that, however, is nothing compared to the pain he’s feeling in the lulling, mainly acoustic “Bad Day,” his fifth release in his #MusicMondays flight of putting out a new song every week.

As the visual below shows, there’s a gray cloud over Bieber and it’s because his lady walked away “like it was nothing, baby.” He couldn’t breathe because “you took away the biggest part of me,” he sings.

The song goes into a sweet falsetto about a minute in as he remains stunned that it was so easy for for her to walk away.

Throughout the tunes we’ve heard so far from Bieber’s diary, he’s taken responsibility for the breakup, but he’s also been decimated by it. And, like the other songs we’ve heard, “Bad Day” is a nice pop song, but there’s nothing so dynamic on it that it feels like required listening.

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Listen: Britney Spears' new single, 'Perfume'
Credit: RCA

Listen: Britney Spears' new single, 'Perfume'

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Ballad from 'Britney Jean' shows her vulnerable side

Britney Spears wants to “mark her territory” with her scent in “Perfume,” the new single from “Britney Jean,” and it couldn’t be more different from first single, “Work Bitch.” Spears premiered the song on Facebook Sunday evening and, guess what? She's actually singing.

This is Spears as we haven’t heard her—or at least not for a long while: singing a straight-ahead ballad with no talking and no heavy beat behind her as on past semi-ballads like “Unusual You” or even all the way back to “Sometimes.”

Though still slickly produced, on “Perfume” the focus is on her vocal and the emotional weight of the lyrics as Spears hopes that the next woman to touch her man can smell her perfume on him. She admits she’s insecure and “I want to believe it’s just you and me/sometimes it feels like it’s three in here, baby,” and not in a good way as she extolled in 2009’s “3.” It’s the kind of ballad it’s easy to imagine Gwen Stefani taking on.

Spears’ singing is as strong as it has ever been here (let the guessing begin on how much it was doctored in the studio) and this is the best song she’s done in years. Plus, given how successful Spears’ several lines of cologne are, we can only imagine the tie ins planned between song and the scents.  Let the cross-branding begin!

"'Perfume' is incredibly special to me because it hits close to home, and I think the story is relatable to everyone," Spears told E! "Everyone's been through an insecure moment in a relationship that's left them vulnerable and I think this song captures that."

What do you think of "Perfume?"

 

 

Official artwork for Britney Spears' Perfume

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Watch: One Direction's new video for 'Story of My Life'
Credit: Sony Music Entertainment

Watch: One Direction's new video for 'Story of My Life'

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Time travel with the boy band to their past

One Direction takes the title of its latest song, “Story of My Life” literally in its new Ben Winston-directed video.

For the clip of the emotional break-up ballad, the quintet took a different approach. Surrounded by photos of thousands of photos, the lads take actual photos from their lives and bring them to life and into the current day.

For example, Harry Styles takes a photo of him of his mom from when he was a toddler and advances it the present. The other people in the photos age along with the boy band member but don’t interact with them at all, until the end.  Liam Payne’s photo is him in formal wear with his family; Zayn Malik and his sister have their moment in his choice, while Niall Horan shares a musical moment  with his brother.

Perhaps, the most touching vignette is when Louis Tomlinson advances a photo of him as a little boy posing on a sofa with his parents and grandparents (or grandparents and great-grandparents) and in the modern photo, the eldest couple are no longer there because they’ve died.

It’s a change of pace for the band and one that their fans will go over frame by frame, for good reason.

The track is the second single from One Direction's new album, "Midnight Memories," out Nov. 25.

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<p>Arcade Fire's Regine Chassagne and Win Butler</p>

Arcade Fire's Regine Chassagne and Win Butler

Credit: AP Photo

Arcade Fire's 'Reflektor' will shine brightly on Billboard 200

Tis the season for Christmas albums to bow on the chart

Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” will kick Katy Perry’s “Prism” out of the top spot, as the Canadian group’s newest sells up to 140,000. “Prism” falls to second place with sales of around 95,000.

Coming in at No. 3 will be Clarkson’s “Wrapped In Red” with sales of up to 70,000, followed by The Robertsons’ “Duck The Halls” at No. 4, moving 55,000 units.

Two more country debuts follow: Toby Keith’s “Drinks After Work” looks good for No. 5 (40,000), while Thomas Rhett’s “It Goes Like This” will bow at No. 6 (35,000).

Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” is in a dead heat with Linkin Park’s latest “Recharged,” for the No. 7 spot, with sales of up to 35,000, while Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz” and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” are duking it out for the No. 9 spot, with each targeted to sell up to 32,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

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<p>David Bowie</p>

David Bowie

Guess how much David Bowie's creepy new video for "Love Is Lost" cost?

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He has all that stuff just lying around?

It’s hard to tell which is more astonishing: that David Bowie made the video for  “Love is Lost” for less than your average dinner for two at McDonalds or that he has all of these creepy things lying around. Actually, it's definitely the former.

The clip, which premiered at Monday night’s Mercury Prize ceremony in London, works perfectly as a spooky Halloween treat. It features close-ups of Bowie’s face run through various filters, as well as the legend wearing a Bowie mask with blood on it, and other eerie images. It’s all accompanied by hand claps (which fits in with the fact that it’s the “Hello Steve Reich Mix” by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.) There are also shots of Bowie obsessively washing his hands, which he does with a menacing intensity.

Let’s face it, Bowie doesn’t have to do much to be mesmerizing, but this one seems to have a particularly can’t-look-away factor, especially as he laments over and over “What have you done?” looking tortured.  The final shot of the empty bathroom with the faucet still running is especially chilling. It’s truly a case of your mind coming up with much more terrifying thoughts than if the video had shown specifics.
Bowie, along with his assistant and a buddy, made the video last weekend in his Manhattan office, according to a release. They grabbed some puppets from his archive (wouldn’t you love to go through that?) and shot away.  The cost was $12.99 for a thumbdrive.

The James Murphy remix of “Love Is Lost” is one of several new studio tracks featured on “The Next Day Extra,” which comes out Nov. 5 and is a companion to Bowie’s sure-to-be Grammy contender, “The Next Day.” 

In addition to the the “Hello Steve Reich Mix,” “The Next Day Extra” includes the original 14-song album, a 10-track companion with five new songs and two remixes and a DVD featuring four videos from “The Next Day.”

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<p>Dave Grohl, earlier this year</p>

Dave Grohl, earlier this year

Credit: AP Photo/Chris PIzzello

Exclusive: Dave Grohl producing Zac Brown Band, according to sources

Foo Fighter will appear with ZBB on CMA Awards next week

Dave Grohl is producing new music for  Zac Brown Band multiple sources have confirmed to Hitfix.

That’s a dream come true for Brown.  Earlier this year, Brown told The Country Vibe that “I want to work with Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl is one of our musical heroes as a band and he said that he would be interested in doing that too.”

It turns out the Foo Fighters frontman was true to his word and will be working with the country act on its follow up to 2012’s “Uncaged,” which won best country album at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

While the country/folk band and the former Nirvana drummer may seem like a strange musical match, they actually should work very well together. Fans who have seen ZBB live know their strength as players and they bring a rock edge to many of their tracks, while Grohl has worked with artists of all stripes from Norah Jones to Paul McCartney, so he’s shown there’s pretty much nothing he can’t do.

It will be a while before we get the new album, but not long before we see the two acts together: as previously announced, Grohl will perform with ZBB on Nov. 6’s Country Music Assn. Awards on ABC.  No word on if we will hear a new song that evening—and a CMA rep could not tell us what they were performing— but maybe we'll get more news about their studio collaboration then.

Both acts declined to comment.
 

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