All posts tagged music

BkBbYYlIUAAo2LlIt may seem like just a small tweet, but it’s pretty ace that someone as high-profile as Lorde is comfortable enough in her own skin to tweet this.

You gotta love it when celebrities call out things like this.

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KGty0RJThe Sun claims that Brian Littrell of the US boyband said discussions are underway for the global dates.

He told the paper: “We are actually in early talks about maybe doing a world tour together with the Spice Girls.”

It is thought that the band would return as a four piece after Victoria Beckham ruled herself out of reforming the group.

The Spice Girls last performed together at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. That appearance came five years after their original reunion tour The Return Of The Spice Girls.

The band were last pictured together at the premiere of Viva Forever, a stage musical based on their songs, in December 2012. The musical closed after just seven months following bad reviews and poor ticket sales.

Baby Spice Emma Bunton recently joked that she would consider a Vegas residency with the band – but only if they were paid more than Britney Spears.

Meanwhile, Sporty Spice Mel C hinted that the band would get together again in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of Wannabe.

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RuPaul-Born-Naked-360x360Whether you’d like to admit it or not, everyone with an Internet connection after 1994 has illegally downloaded movies or music on the Internet. You know it, I know it, RuPaul knows it — now, the incomparable drag diva wants you to stop it and start supporting the artists you love.

To coincide with the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6, RuPaul dropped her sixth studio album, Born Naked on February 24. The album quickly reached the top of the iTunes dance album chart mostly because it’s incredible, but partly because Ru made sure it didn’t fall into the hands of music pirates.

Shortly before the release of Born Naked, Ru and his longtime album producer Lucian Piane flooded illegal torrent sites with decoy copies of the album that contain “stream-of-conscious monologues” where the music should be. Hilarity ensued.

About 20 seconds into the song “Freaky Money”, Ru’s decoy album starts talking:

You done stole my album! Uh uh, no you better don’t, hooker! You better get your tail on over to iTunes, baby! Hey, who hasn’t illegally downloaded an album? But when it’s somebody that you admire or that you want to support, child! How am I gonna keep my lace fronts on point if I can’t make a living doing what I’m doing with that ‘Freaky Money’?

Another 20 seconds into the track “Can I Get an Amen”, RuPaul reminisces as the music dies:

Now, I have done a duet with Martha Wash before. She asked me to do a duet with her…. She is one of my favorite singers of all time…

“We work so hard on this music,” RuPaul told Billboard in an interview. “So we thought, why not flood the torrents with a decoy album that educates consumers on why it’s important to buy music.”

Brilliant. Make sure you actually buy Born Naked on iTunes, queens.

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6zUjrd3Lady Gaga and Madonna have a superstar rivalry made in gossip-blog heaven. The former burst onto the scene five years ago with a provocative pop sensibility reminiscent of the latter’s. Last year, Madonna accused Gaga of ripping off one of her songs; this year, the “Born This Way” singer insisted she doesn’t want the Material Girl’s throne.

From an earnings perspective, however, there’s no question over the winner of this battle’s latest round. The honor goes to Madonna, who pulled in $125 million over the past year, making her the highest-paid musician in the world. The bulk of Madge’s millions came from the tail end of her MDNA Tour, which grossed $305 million. She augments her income with heady merchandise sales at concerts, as well as her Material Girl clothing line and Truth or Dare fragrance.

1. Madonna – 125M
2. Lady Gaga – 80M
3. Bon Jovi – 79M
4. Toby Keith – 65M
5. Coldplay – 64M
6. Justin Bieber – 58M
7. Taylor Swift – 55M
8. Elton John – 54M
9. Beyonce – 53M
10. Kenney Chessney (tie) P.Diddy – 50M

“With touring being the biggest revenue stream, if there’s an opportunity for an artist to go out, if there’s an opportunity for a promoter to curate a festival, people are doing it, said Kevin Liles, founder of KWL Enterprises and manager of artists including Big Sean, Trey Songz and Young Jeezy. Gaga ranks second with $80 million; she grossed over $160 million on her latest tour before succumbing to a hip injury. Had she been able to finish, she would have likely topped $200 million. Her ARTPOP album was released after the end of our scoring period, but should give her a boost on next year’s list. She could easily reach the No. 1 spot with a successful set of concerts, the main driver for most major artists’ earnings.

A look at the rest of the list underscores the importance of live performances in today’s music world. Bon Jovi ranks third with $79 million, most of it from the appropriately named Because We Can tour. Road warrior Toby Keith pulled in $65 million to land the No. 4 slot, while Coldplay parlayed seven-figure nightly grosses into a $64 million payday.
Of course, product extensions can provide a major boost to an artist’s bottom line as well, and few do it better than Keith. Country’s cash king has his own record label, mescal line and restaurant chain; each outlet has its own stage.

“The beauty is where it synergizes with my label,” heexplained to FORBES earlier this year. “I don’t have to look for a place [for my acts] to play … they’re in Toby’s house. They’re drinking Toby’s liquor. That’s Toby’s act. And then we’re moving to the next town.”

A few of the musicians on our list, however, generate nearly all their income to sources other than music sales, record labels and touring. Sean “Diddy” Combs, who ranks No. 11 with $50 million (making him hip-hop’s highest-paid act), earns the bulk of his bucks from his wildly successful Ciroc vodka deal. His Revolt TV network, launched in October, should provide a big boost to future earnings.
Diddy and fellow hip-hop moguls Jay Z (No. 18, $42 million) and Dr. Dre (No. 20, $40 million) are the genre’s lone representatives, while Keith is one of four country acts—Taylor Swift (No. 7, $55 million), Kenny Chesney (No. 9, $53 million) and Tim McGraw (No. 24, $33 million). The rest of the list is made up of pop divas and arena rockers, with the exceptions of Tiësto (No. 25, $32 million) and Calvin Harris (No. 13, $46 million), the world’s two highest-paid DJs.

“The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he told FORBES earlier this year.
In order to form our list, we looked at income from June 1st, 2012 through June 1st, 2013, using data sources including Pollstar, the RIAA, Nielsen SoundScan, managers, lawyers and many of the artists themselves. We took into account concert ticket sales, royalties for recorded music and publishing, merchandise sales, endorsement deals and other business ventures.
Our estimates reflect pretax income before deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers; only living artists are eligible for the list.

That last criterion may seem trivial, but were it removed, the list would have a new champion: Michael Jackson, who pulled in $160 million.

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870578_originalWhile with certain debates, common ground is seemingly unattainable (abortion, Obamacare, the redemptive qualities of mayonnaise), there’s still an issue on which I feel we can all unite in 2013: This has been one disturbingly horrific year for mainstream pop music.

Sure, there were glimmers of promise back in January: Justin had emerged from his bro-cave of tone-deaf acting, Beyonce conquered the Super Bowl and appeared to be on the path to her new record (and thus, our eternal salvation) and a small bird specimen from the Jungle of Disney known as “The Cyrus” was cooing ever so loudly about reincarnation. At the top of the year, we also anxious awaited new decrees from the Council on Drunk-White-Girl-Scream-Alongs: GaGa, Perry and Spears. And of course, like the Hess truck at Christmas, no November would be complete without the requisite, factory-line hodgepodge we call “Yearly Rihanna Music Product™.”

But as things turned out, exactly none of these things happened. Each release was either a bloated, masturbatory “meh” (Gaga, Timberlake), a bland retread aimed squarely at third graders (Perry), or a bafflingly mixed bag of roaring promise and faux-controversial poppycock (The fair Cyrus bird). Some albums never even materialized, leaving much of the pop heavy-lifting to newcomers like Lorde, AlunaGeorge, Charli XCX, Ariana Grande and IconaPop, who rose to the occasion and delivered some uniformly excellent records on their first go-arounds.

However, what of our fallen pop titans of yore (c. 2010) and how can they redeem themselves in the new year? That’s where I come in. Below are my diagnoses and prescriptions for how some beloved pop veterans can turn the beat around in 2014.

Rihanna: Over the past eight years, Rihanna has rather inexplicably morphed into our most reliable pop star, consistently delivering bangers with multi-format appeal and experimenting with unapologetic (hardy har, I’m sorry, that was cheap) abandon. Rih’s issue lies with her pace (seven albums in eight years!), a breakneck release schedule that has rendered her yearly albums into four great singles surrounded by 7 questionable though sometimes fleetingly-fun filler tracks. Even her best LPs (Good Girl Gone Bad, Loud) are a smorgasbord of genres that don’t hold together as albums.

Rih’s 2014 move is to make a pointed artistic statement. Or just any statement, really. Basically I will accept a record that is ethereally coherent as long as it’s not 13 completely random tracks recorded with 16,879 different collaborators. And since Rihanna so openly loves the “D,” I’m gonna go ahead and suggest two huge “D”s that could touch her in places she never even knew existed, artistically: Drake and Diplo. Drake would be a great executive producer if Rihanna opts for a moody, emo-futuristic R&B album. Diplo could serve the same function should she want to reconnect with her dancehall and reggae roots. Two “D”s, both exciting prospects. Whatever the case, the one “D” she needs to steer way clear of is David Guetta.

Beyonce: If Bey’s fifth album had dropped at the beginning of the year as rumored, I woulda been cool with another exploratory record where she culled from her influences and produced an artful, well-executed set of tracks devoid of a hit single. Let’s call it 4 II: Revenge of Blue Ivy. But after a year of delays, Bey needs to dish out so much more than just quality: Bitch needs a fucking hit. Not a “Run The World (Girls),” borderline, “aww, it’s cute that you’re here, Bey!” trifle. I’m talking a “Crazy In Love,” “Single Ladies,” culture-conquering, life-affirming, death-defying hit. I want to hear the new Beyonce single and feel certain that God exists.

The good news? I think Bey feels that, like with Blue Ivy in 2012, this is a gift that she is ready to bestow upon the world. Give us this gift, Bey. The gift of a hit. Give us two! All we want for New Years is a pretty box of Beyonce hits. Please. Hits. Big Ones.

Justin Timberlake: I’ve already said my piece on JT. Maybe it’s time to give novel writing a spin?

Katy Perry: For you, Ms. Perry, my prescription is simple: Do anything else. Literally anything at all. Witch-house? Fine. A cover album of classic, medieval bard tunes from the Nordic region? Super! A dubstep / string-quartet hybrid where you appear playing only a distorted, wobbling electric viola for 14 tracks? Well, that’d be just stupendous. All I’m saying is do anything besides another album where an apparently intelligent, 30-year-old divorcee sings the lyrics “I went from zero to my own hero” with a straight face. Cool? Cool.

Chris Brown: Just don’t, ever again.

Justin Bieber: You either.

Robin Thicke: You most of all.

Taylor Swift: Well, things have been pretty perfectly peachy for Tay over her entire twee career, haven’t they? And frankly, each of her four albums have been pretty great. But #5 cannot be another folksy power-pop, name-that-celebrity break-up, diary porn, slumber party sob-fest. Time to sail the S.S. Tears in My Journal into uncharted waters.

The dubstep experiment went pretty good, right?! Maybe a dance album with Klas Ahlund? Or remember when she rapped “SuperBass’” and everyone was like, “Woah, white girl!?” I’m not saying she should rap (please don’t rap) but maybe a little sultry R&B touch here and there wouldn’t hurt proceedings, a little sexuality sprinkled on top of all that 7th-grade heartbreak? What about a spare protest album about ending violence in the Middle East? Actually, no, definitely don’t do that.

Miley Cyrus: Please just relax. After the last three months, I think we could all use a serious time-out, ya know? We need some space.

Robyn: Not panicking here but, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN GIRL WE’RE DYING A SLOW ARDUOUS DEATH WITHOUT YOU.

Lady GaGa: I have to confess something: I kinda like ARTPOP in spite of itself. Sure, it’s not the “reverse-Warholian” mind-fuck GaGa may or may not think it is, but we should be thanking God for that! It’s mostly just fun, dumb pop songs with soaring melodies and a lot of GaGa’s freakishly bizarre yet compelling personality.

That said, it’s not a great album by any means (it contains a “trap” song called “Jewels ‘N Drugs,” after all) but I think GaGa might really have the potential for greatness. By my count, she needs to drive further towards the ’80s arena-rock sound that she began to develop of Born This Way. Her most compelling post-”Bad Romance” tunes have been the Springsteen-ian “Edge of Glory,” the Queen-esque (Queeny?) stomp of “You and I” and on her current album, the Bon Jovi-goes-Elton John bar-rattler, “Gypsy.” Bottom line: GaGa’s a classic rocker pretending to be a disco-queen and I believe her future success lies mostly in the former but with an eye on the fun inherent in the latter. Got it? Fun-spirited, unpretentious, post-Springsteenian arena rock mixed with a touch of nu-disco, sprinkled with club-shaking dance-pop and a big ole wink. See? Easy!

Pink: I gotta be honest, I really don’t understand Pink’s whole shtick at all but keep swingin’ on that ole trapeze, I guess!

Adele: Sing. Just keep doing the singing, it’s really marvelous.

Britney Spears: Dear Brit, Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s been clear to some of us in the group for a while that your heart’s really not in the whole song-and-dance routine anymore. Since I feel like no one’s telling you this, I’m taking on the responsibility myself: You don’t have to do this anymore! You’re free!

Look: You did it, you made it to the top. We’re all SOO proud! Now take your millions and Sean and Jaden and Jeremiah and whatever other kids you have stashed in that Malibu McMansion, go back to Louisiana and open up that roadside ‘Po-Boy’ stand you’ve always dreamed of! Cop an airboat at Home Depot and cruise around the bayou! Tan just a little bit too much and hunt some alligators. Watch all the football and eat all the Cheetos your precious little heart desires. You deserve it!

And on the note of deserving things, we deserve to never ever hear “Scream & Shout” ever again.

Ke$ha: I dunno man, Ke$ha. You seem smart, and I like some of your songs, but you’re also kind of exhausting and I almost forgot to put you on here so I’m just jamming you in at the end. I guess the whole pretending to be a stupid, drunk party girl as a sorta commentary on stupid, drunk party girls has worn thin. Maybe don’t do that routine again next time? That’s really all I got. No more fake stupid, drunk party girl routine. Thoughts?

Lily Allen: You, my friend, may have saved the whole game with this. Bravo.

So that’s that and you’re welcome, Beyonce. Also, those of you mentioned above looking for new A&R, I clearly have tons of free time and am brimming with ideas for you! Think of me like a pop music doctor: Let me help you help me help you help humanity through frivolous radio music that basically just makes all of you rich while the rest of us can’t afford health insurance. It’s the American way! And Britney, please, go live the simple life. I’m saying it cuz I care.

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