No surprise that if you win American Idol, American Idol pretty much owns you. At least Idol creator Simon Fuller does, as his production company 19 Entertainment will take "as much as a 40 percent cut" from all of your future endorsements. Or so claims a complaint lodged by 11th-season Idol winner Phillip Phillips. The Hollywood Reporter reports the singer filed a petition with the California Labor Commissioner asserting that 19 Entertainment has "manipulated" him into taking jobs and performing for free. Phillips wants out of agreements that his lawyer describes as "oppressive" and "fatally conflicted." Not only are they debasing poor Phillips by making him perform for Jet Blue and at other corporate events, he claims 19 Entertainment even "withheld" the title of his second studio album, Behind the Light. Harsh.
Tom Petty has written many greatest-hits albums full of radio classics. Now, thanks to a legal settlement, he’s earned a co-writing credit on a new one: Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” The Sun reported that, thanks to unintentional similarities between Smith and his co-writers’ (James Napier and William Phillips) ballad about emotional vulnerability and Petty and his co-writer Jeff Lynne’s sorta-ballad about stoic perseverance, “I Won’t Back Down,” the latter duo will start earning a 12.5 percent credit on the royalties for “Stay With Me.”
Remember when you thought that Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" sounded an awful lot like Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down"? Well, you're not alone. According to The Sun, the two parties settled out of court* this past October that the two songs are so much alike that Smith will start paying Petty (and fellow songwriter Jeff Lynne) royalties on the track — specifically, a 12.5 percent credit. A source told NME it was a pretty quick resolution: "When Sam’s track was originally released, it was clear to a lot of musicians that there were notable similarities between the tracks. After it was pointed out to Sam’s camp, they didn’t try to fight it and amicably dished out royalties. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, musicians are just inspired by other artists and Sam and his team were quick to hold up their hand when it was officially flagged." Now every time you support Sam Smith, you're also supporting Tom Petty, and that's pretty cool. Hear the two songs below.
In the latest Kanye-being-Kanye news, the supreme innovator interrupted a Def Jam presentation Wednesday at the iHeartMedia Music Summit to essentially give a TED Talk about how hard it is to be himself (every day is a creative risk, and don’t you forget it!), as well as a partial listening party. Billboard reports that the rapper ambushed a crowd of radio programmers with a 45-minute speech about his “responsibility to innovate” and his work with Paul McCartney. He also played a mysterious new song, before slamming his laptop shut and walking away with a standing ovation. If you're bummed you missed out on this, you're not alone, but as a consolation here are five gems from the event that Kanye, a.k.a. our musical lord and Ye-vior, reportedly shared:
Rick Famuyiwa's Dope premieres this week at Sundance and brings with it a slew of young, but familiar, faces. There will reportedly be some Tyga, some Odd Future, some Blake Anderson — but most important, there will be some A$AP Rocky. The rapper nabbed a part after he helped his girlfriend (Chanel Iman) prep for her own Dope audition (aww). In the movie he plays Dom, a supporting character who interacts with the film's self-proclaimed geeky protagonist, Malcolm, closely. The film tracks Malcolm — a hip-hop fan with a garage band (which Pharrell wrote four songs for) — as he struggles to survive in Inglewood, California. Rocky was lauded by Famuyiwa for his "natural charisma and ability," so here's the briefest of tastes to get you going. (Seriously, he's in like one shot so it's like, Where's A$AP Waldo?)
If you've had your heart broken in the past month or so, at least you've had some fresh tunes to add to your "True Love Is a Cruel Illusion" iTunes playlist. In December, Nicki Minaj gifted us with her great, emotionally candid Pinkprint, and now Icelandic higher power Björk has released Vulnicura, which she herself describes as “a complete heartbreak album." We were actually not supposed to hear Vulnicura so soon. A week ago, in a handwritten note (please tell me someone is working on a font called “Björk’s Handwriting”), she claimed the album would be out in March, but yesterday she decided to do something that we are really going to have to stop calling "pulling a Beyoncé" and surprise-released it early. Why the rush? The answer might be revealed in time, or maybe it won't. As the world has known since the iconic Swan Dress, there is no why with Björk. There is only do.
When Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City interviewed Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney for NPR Music last week, there was so much love in the room. The fivesome was nominally there to discuss Sleater-Kinney's triumphant new album, but over the course of an hour-plus discussion, they also hit on touring secrets (always wear flip-flops), feminism (they're for it, duh), and Sleater-Kinney's general ethos ("the unapologetic obliteration of the sacred"). At the end of the talk, everyone in the audience immediately went home to start a band or a comedy duo — or both!
Lil Wayne has dropped a new EP, Sorry 4 the Wait 2, as an apology of sorts for the continued delay of Tha Carter V, an album that appears to be stuck in a struggle with Wayne's label, Cash Money. Wayne's got the likes of Drake, Mack Maine, 2 Chainz, and Shanell, but how can we really forgive a man who remixes "Drunk in Love" and replaces Beyoncé with Christina Milian? Get outta here, Wayne! You can download Sorry 4 the Wait 2 right here. Here's the full track list:
Did anyone else hear the news that TLC is attempting to raise $150,000 on Kickstarter to fund their next, and supposedly final, album? Let me be clear: I want TLC's final album Kickstarter to be fully funded — if you are a TLC fan, you should definitely give them money — but why, exactly, are TLC's two remaining members, T-Boz and Chilli, going the Kickstarter route? And why, if the two already have experience making albums ("Over 65 million sold!" boasts the Kickstarter video's intro), would they ask for a mere $150,000? And, hey, we get that Kickstarter is cool now, but TLC are famous. I repeat: 65 million albums.
Every week, members of the Vulture staff will highlight their favorite new songs. They might be loud, quiet, long, short, dance-y, rawkin', hip, square, rap, punk, jazz, some sort of jazz-punk-rap fusion — whatever works for the given person in that given week. Read our picks below and please tell us yours in the comments. (Also, read our music critic Lindsay Zoladz's review of Sleater-Kinney's No Cities to Love.)
Blis., “Floating Somewhere High And Above”
This is the indie-rockiest indie rock this side of 1999. It sounds like Modest Mouse skipped dipping a toe into emo and just plunged their entire leg in. —Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox)
Come for the "Doing It" video, stay for the YouTube commenters. Some accuse Charli of ripping of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's "Telephone" (Yes, the video featuring Kill Bill's Pussy Wagon); others accuse Charli of ripping off Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" (We guess there is also a desert involved?). The rest advise Charli to ditch Rita altogether: "you do not need Rita," writes one. "Rita Oral [sic] ruined the song ugh," echoes another. It's funny how everyone here is correct.
Once, in my mid-teens, I set out to investigate a fantastical and perhaps ridiculous hunch: I was not entirely convinced that the members of Sleater-Kinney were human. I’d recently heard the Olympia, Washington, trio’s blistering 1997 record Dig Me Out for the first time, and it was unlike any music I’d ever encountered — more soulful than punk, more dissonant than pop, so much more gnarled than “girly.” I was confounded. I needed to see this music to believe it. This was a little while before the secret behind every magic trick was a quick YouTube search away, so in the absence of images, Dig Me Out sparked my imagination: Was the singer possessed, or perhaps feral? Was it possible that scientists had found a way to bottle thunder, and then taught it how to play drums?
Early this morning, Ryan Seacrest announced that Comedy Central will host a roast for pop music's punching bag, Justin Bieber. And now Comedy Central confirms it, with the network's president Kent Alterman commenting, “Justin has been asking us for a few years to roast him, and we just kept telling him to go create more source material first. We’re thrilled he listened.” (Even the exec's got jokes!) This should be easy enough. Making fun of Bieber is practically an American pastime at this point (even though the Bieb himself is Canadian). Perhaps it was inspired by this weekend's Saturday Night Live parody of the singer's recent Calvin Klein ads, to which he responded, "well-played. Lol." on Twitter. See? Bieber can take a joke! You know, when it's positioned as a way to potentially help his career.
Over a 13-year run, the Decemberists’ front man Colin Meloy has written all but one of the songs that appear on the Oregon band’s seven albums. Meloy’s bandmates, he says, have been nothing if not completely supportive of his musical instinct. “It’s given me a lot of room to feel comfortable bringing stuff to them. Maybe though I’d write better songs if they shot me down more often,” he says with a laugh. To mark the release of their latest studio album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, who better than Meloy to pick the Decemberists' best tracks? Read on to see his selections.
They don't call it a power ballad for nothing. In the video below, Jeremy Jordan, who plays Anna Kendrick's second half in the upcoming adaptation of the musical The Last Five Years, flirts, charms, and belts his way through one of the most iconic songs from the bygone days of Divas Live. Thanks to Jordan, it's all coming back to us now.
Steven Rodriguez, known better as A$AP Yams, has died at the age of 26, according to social-media posts by fellow A$AP Mob members. Yams started the influential hip-hop collective with A$AP Bari and A$AP Illz in 2007 and soon after met A$AP Rocky in 2008. Together they would transform hip-hop. Yams is largely known as the mastermind behind the scenes with an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop who curated rising talent on his Tumblr. "We wanted to become big," Yams said in a New York Times profile. "But we didn’t want to do it by hopping on somebody else’s wave. We wanted to come in the game with our own wave." He certainly did that.
We support this fully: a romance between the indecipherable James Franco and the equally indecipherable Lana Del Rey. They're perfect for each other and he seems to know it, penning an essay (that's bordering on a poem?) about the mysterious singer in V Magazine (in stores only). You know what would be perfect? If they made a movie together ...
Neil Young wants to change the way you listen to music. This week, the rock legend introduced Pono, a new high-definition digital music player that he says will finally offer consumers the sound quality he hears in his studio. (The device, which Young is selling for $399, was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign; some audioheads are dubious about his claims.) Young spoke with John Horn, host of Southern California Public Radio's new arts and entertainment show “The Frame,” about audio quality, taking on Apple, and whether MP3s have made musicians complacent. (Listen to part of Horn and Young's interview below, and subscribe to “The Frame” at iTunes or Stitcher.)
After being rumored for quite some time, Mariah Carey has finally signed on to her very own Celine Dion deal, a.k.a. a residency at Las Vegas's Colosseum at Caesar's Palace. Hey: It's big cash, a steady gig, and great weather. She'll join other Vegas mainstays like Britney Spears and Shania Twain, and will perform a slew of No. 1s, off her #1's album. The shows kick off on May 6, and you can already get your tickets right here. Line up, lambs!