Album review: Sia shines brightly on '1000 Forms of Fear'

After guesting on so many hits, she's ready for some of her own


Sia has had more success as a guest on other artists' records-- such as David Guetta’s “Titanium” and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones” or during her stint with Zero 7 on tunes like “Destiny” --than as a solo artist, but with “Chandelier,” the first single from “1000 Forms of Fear,” out tomorrow (8), the Australian singer/songwriter is finally breaking out as a pop star on her own.

“Chandelier” reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, in large part driven by its compelling video featuring 11-year old dancer Maddie Ziegler. Though Sia has had several strong songs on her previous albums, “Chandelier” is her first bona-fide hit as a solo artist.

The good news is there’s plenty more on “Fear,” produced by Greg Kurstin, to continue that path, even if there is nothing that’s quite as striking as “Chandelier,” a tune that sounds similar to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”—a song co-written by Sia— but bolstered by Sia’s brilliant take on a party girl whose lows are as devastating as her highs are exhilarating.

Sia often slurs her words as they roll over the electronic-enhanced melodies like water in a creek flowing over uneven rocks. It can be jarring at times as she breaks words in strange places and swings up and down the scale in unexpected ways, unconfined by any traditional pop singing structure. For example, on “Cellophane,”  Sia sings as if she’s up on the Broadway stage, full of drama, as she delivers lines like “I’m  such a basket case while I fall apart, you hide all my pills again.” Interesting echo-y production with a subtle use of a tremolo guitar make the song a stand out.

“Fear’s” first few tunes, “Chandelier,” “Big Girls Cry” and “Burn The Pages” follow enough of the same script—electronic tracks with pop production— that the album is just starting to feel predictable when it takes a sharp turn with the ultra-poppy, Gwen Stefani-like “Hostage.” The  toe-tapping, peppy, high velocity pop track betrays the downer lyrics on this sure-to-be single. Sia then veers into Lana Del Rey territory on the stately, grand ballad “Straight For The Knife,” about a lover who knows exactly where all her weak spots are and exactly how to inflict  maximum damage. While Sia is just as capable of sounding as mannered as LDR, she always remains inviting as opposed to some impenetrable presence. In fact, if anything, she lays herself bare over and over.

Throughout “Fear,” Sia traffics mainly in matters of love and just how toxic our relationships can be. Whether she’s admitting she doesn’t play fair either on the delicious “Fair Game,” which wraps her voice in a tinker-toy piano, or on the over-the-top, very busy closing track, “Dressed in Black,” where a new love brings her back  to life, Sia is about breaking down the barriers that make us feel alone.  

While she’s always been bracingly honest in her lyrics, on “Fear,” the combo of the music and lyrics seem to have all come together— as if she’s taking a few lessons from the other folks who have had big hits utilizing her words and her vocals. 

Now it’s her turn to shine bright like a diamond.

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Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd to release new album in October, according to David Gilmour's wife

New set would be based on 1994 recordings and first since 'The Division Bell'


Someone can’t keep a secret.

Pink Floyd  guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson tweeted on Saturday, “Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called “The Endless River.” Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright’s swan song and very beautiful.”


After she oh-so-casually dropped this news, the internet went up in flames in excitement. The album will be the first album of unreleased material since 1994’s “The Division Bell.”  It’s unknown if  “The Endless River” is composed of tracks recorded during the same sessions for “The Division Bell” and they will now be released as they were recorded then or they will be enhanced with new production and recording, sort of like Michael Jackson’s “Xscape album.”

“The Division Bell” featured Gilmour, Wright, and drummer Nick Mason, with many of the lyrics penned by Samson, and was believed to be Pink Floyd’s last album. Co-founder Syd Barrett quit the band in 1968 (and died in 2006); Roger Waters left the band in 1985 and despite a great deal of acrimony with his band mates, has appeared with them on a handful of occasions for charity.

Wright, the band’s keyboardist, died in 2008, but as the LA Times points out, while the new album may be the last of his recorded output made with Pink Floyd, he went on to release a solo album, “Broken China,” in 1996.

Adding fuel to the rumors: Durga McBroom-Hudson, a vocalist who has toured with the band, also tweeted on Saturday, “Yes. There is a new Pink Floyd album coming out,”  confirming Samson’s tweet.

Samson’s account has since been “suspended,” according to Twitter. Gilmour has a Twitter page, but there are no tweets on it. His website plugs Samson's latest collection of short stories, but has not been updated since May.

Pink Floyd's most popular album remains, of course, 1973's "The Dark Side of the Moon," which has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.

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Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande dips her toe in EDM waters on 'Break Free' feat. Zedd': Listen

Hear her acoustic version of 'Problem'

Ariana Grande debuted a new song at her MTV #TotalAriana Live concert last night and it’s a peppy, EDM-influenced track, courtesy of Zedd’s involvement. The electronic outro b is going to sound dated very soon, but in the meantime, enjoy.

Now it looks like Grande could have two songs of the summer: “Problem,” featuring Iggy Azalea, will represent the first half of the season, while the instantly catchy “Break Free” will be your song for the second half. Thanks, Ariana!

Lots of other Grande news: She and Nicki Minaj will appear on Jessie J’s  next single, "Bang, Bang." That song, which will be on both Jessie J and Grande's albums, comes out July 29.  Plus, she performed an acoustic version of “Problem” last night, which we’ve embedded as well.


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Linda Perry

Exclusive: Linda Perry on her new VH1 show, Pink, and her issue with 'American Idol'

Why her show will not be a karoake competition

Linda Perry is nothing if not passionate. She is best known as the front woman for 4 Non Blondes, as well as writer and/or producer of some of the most popular songs of the last 20 years, including Pink’s “Get the Party Started,” Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and Faith Hill’s “Cry.”

Now fans will get to see her in action on her new VH1 series, “Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project,” which debuts July 16. In the 10-week summer series, she coaches several acts she has handpicked on how to write songs, how to record, how to perform, and how to navigate this tricky industry. She is doggedly honest and forthright. She will select one of the artists to sign to her own label.

We recently talked to Perry at her studio in Los Angeles, where the show takes place. She had very strong opinions about how her show will different from other singing competitions, such as “American Idol” and “The Voice.”

Her objection to such shows isn’t that most of these winners aren’t writing their own material, but that the talent level isn’t high enough. “The majority, 89% of the ‘artists’ that show up on these shows would never, ever be sought out by a label or management or agency and said, ‘you are spectacular, we’re going to sign you’ at their local karaoke club in Bumf**k, Michigan. And that’s the truth.”

She’s a little harsh on “American Idol”—- most of us can definitely name several artists who launched their careers from “Idol” aside from Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, but her greater point is that her show will pull back the curtain on how the process works… from songwriting to recording…and reveal the blood and guts it takes to be a true artist.

She’s doing the show not only for the contestants, but to help those watching at home. “If I inspired some 14 year old to not go down the route of selling perfume and using music as a promotional tool and she decided, ‘You know what, I’m not going to take that casting call job, I’m going to sit here in my room that truly inspire me because I’m going to trust that my emotions speak for me’,” then she says she has succeeded.

She promises we will see her unfiltered on the show: “What you’re going to see on the show is exactly how I am with who ever, if it were was Christina, Pink, Alicia Keys, whoever. That’s exactly how I am.”

Speaking of Pink, Perry, who produced much of Pink’s “Missundaztood” album and wrote “Get The Party Started,” had a falling out with Pink after she went on to work with other artists, including Aguilera. The two have since made up and Perry says she would love to work with her again:
“I would love it, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I would absolutely welcome it and love it because I really really love that girl, so who knows.”

We also asked her what advice she would give Aguilera, who has had great success as a guest on songs by Maroon 5 and A Great Big World, but has struggled a little bit lately. In addition to producing Aguilera, Perry wrote one of her biggest hits, “Beautiful.”

An episode of "Behind The Music" on Perry will also air July 16.

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Surprise! 'Frozen' leads list of 2014's best-selling albums

Album and digital sales sink even further

Unless you’ve been living in the great white tundra, it will come as no surprise that the soundtrack to “Frozen” is the biggest selling album for the first half of 2014.

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Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea sets record for a female rapper on the pop charts with 'Fancy'

Who else is making Hot 100 moves?

Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” featuring Charli XCX, has set the record for the longest tenure at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 by a female rapper.

Her breakthrough hit spend its sixth week at No. 1, passing Lil Kim’s 5 weeks at the top as part of the collective that remade “Lady Marmalade” in 2001 for “Moulin Rouge.” Given her comments at the BET Awards on Sunday night, we’re sure Nicki Minaj is gnashing her teeth over the news.

Magic’s “Rude” moves 3-2, which means Azalea’s other major hit, her feature on “Problems” by Ariana Grande, will likely be locked out of the top spot after spending five weeks at No. 2. Billboard predicts that “Rude” will likely topple “Fancy” from the top spot.

Nico & Vinz’s “Am I Wrong” moves to No. 4, while Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” stays at No. 5. (“Latch,” hIs song with Dispatch climbs to No. 11).

As for the bottom half of the Top 10, the song remains the same: Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle,” featuring Snoop Dogg at No. 6, John Legend’s “All of Me” at No. 7, Calvin Harris’ “Summer” at No. 8, DJ Snake and Lil John’s “Turn Down For What” at No. 9 and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” at No. 10.


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Ashanti to Iggy Azalea: 'Hey! I did it first!', plus, prepping video with French Montana

What's the latest on her work on John Singleton's Tupac biopic?

Ashanti has an A.M. booty call on her mind with her new single, “Early In The Morning,” and she tells us all about the “sexy vibe,” the video featuring French Montana will have. “It’s about how sometimes you wake up in that morning and you have that mmmm on your mind,” she coyly says. The track is from her recently released set, “Braveheart,” her first album on her own label.

The singer was in town for the BET Awards and had a few thoughts on Nicki Minaj’s alleged take down of Iggy Azalea in her acceptance speech:  Ashanti felt was fairly typical hip hop behavior.   “It’s tough in hip hop, but for females, you have to have a little bit of swag. You have to have that, I don’t want to say, ‘rivalry.’”

Azalea just matched Ashanti’s 12-year record for being the only female to have the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 for multiple weeks. She praises Azalea’s success, but jokes, “Hey, I did it first!

She has plenty of other activity on her plate. She is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, an effort to fight childhood obesity. She contributed a new song, “Just Believe,” to the cause and serves as a spokeswoman.

Ashanti is also still on board to write the music for John Singleton’s Tupac biopic. “It’s still very early in the development stage,” she says. “They have to move forward to casting and music comes further into it.”

While that happens, she heads back to New York to start filming “Stuck,” with Amy Madigan, a movie that takes place in a subway car in New York City. “It’s a very relatable character. Kind of different for me,” says Ashanti, who has also appeared in such films as “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz” and “John Tucker Must Die.” “Some of the stereotypes she had in her head were able to be changed.”


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Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj goes after Iggy Azalea again...or not

She says her BET speech was misunderstood

Nicki Minaj swore this morning via Twitter that she was not throwing shade at Iggy Azalea during her acceptance speech during Sunday night’s BET Awards, and then continued to dig herself into a deeper hole.

First, she takes the media to task for “putting words into her mouth,”  and then starts stressing again that she respects women who write their own songs, like Lauren Hill and Missy Elliott. She brings up that she has congratulated Azalea on her success with fancy (which she totally has. Read about that here).

In the meantime, Azalea is having her music speak for her:  “Fancy” spends its sixth week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, making it the longest that a song by a female rapper has spent at the summit.

Was Minaj smart to tweet about this or she should let it go now?


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Scene from Robin Thicke's new video

Watch Robin Thicke's adorable video for 'Still Madly Crazy'

He's nowhere to be found in the sweet clip

Robin Thicke has turned to tiny tots to do his dirty work. And it was a smart move. His new video for ballad  “Still Madly Crazy,” features little kids, probably around 8 or 9-years old, singing along to the song. Then they go through a marriage reception, including the obligatory toasts.

It’s altogether adorable, mainly because the kids bring an innocent sweetness to the spare tune. Thicke doesn't appear in the video.

It ends with a card simply reading, “For you.” By now, we all know that “you” is Thicke’s wife, Paula Patton, who left him earlier this year and he’s been on a campaign to win her back.

This is his best move yet.

Thicke's new album, "Paula," came out yesterday. Read our review here.

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Madonna shows off her 'Messiah' complex with new music: Listen

Superstar teases new song via Instagram

Madonna’s making new music called “Messiah,” and we don’t think it has anything to do with Handel’s “Messiah.” No signs of a “Hallelujah Chorus” anywhere yet…

Instead, Madge has graced us with sheet music from the piece on her Instagram, followed by a short video of an orchestra playing the sheet music with the caption, “Magic makes the people come together  yaaaaaaaassssss #messiah.”

Didn’t she used to declare that it was music that made the people come together?

Madonna's last album, 2012's "MDNA," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

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