Of course. Of course Beyoncé just dropped a new "exclusive visual album" with 14 songs and 17 videos and absolutely no promotion – and yes, that includes a video for every song. Of course Jay and Blue Ivy are on the album. Oh, and the title of the album? Beyoncé. The name of Beyoncé's fifth solo album is Beyoncé. Why are you wasting your time reading this? Go listen to it, you beautiful fools.
Not long ago, I was invited to give a talk about Joni Mitchell at the University of Pennsylvania. The event was billed as the Joni Mitchell Songfest, and the format was simple: Each speaker was asked to choose a Mitchell song and prepare a short presentation — a little riff on the song’s meaning, cultural import, what-have-you. My fellow speakers, quite sensibly, picked great, iconic, canonical Mitchell songs: “Both Sides Now,” “Woodstock,” “California,” “Amelia,” “All I Want,” “Urge for Going.” I decided to go in a different direction, selecting a song widely regarded as a Mitchell lowlight: “Dancin’ Clown,” from her thirteenth studio album, Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm.
It’s just not true that “Every boy, every girl, every child around the world/From the nineties up until today was made off me,” as R. Kelly suggests on his twelfth solo studio album, Black Panties. Statistically speaking, the claim is far-fetched. I personally know of one child whose conception was soundtracked by Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin; the percentage must be further adjusted to account for Sade. And think of Fairfield County, Connecticut: High school classrooms in Greenwich, New Canaan, and Westport would be empty, surely, if not for Dave Matthews’s “Crash Into Me.” Still, the idea that R. Kelly is responsible for every child born in the last two decades, either by siring them himself or by providing the sonic aphrodisiac, feels true, is poetically true — and poetry, after all, is the realm in which Kelly operates. Consider another Black Panties lyric: “Make her love come down till I drown that pussy/And I take my time in it, that's the scenic route/Sex Trainer, I work pussy out.”
Among the most famous of South Park's many famous episodes has to be "Fishsticks," which posited that Kanye West is actually a gay fish. Kanye even blogged about it, in a not-angry way. So the return of Parody Kanye to South Park is something of an event — though Kanye might be more upset about this one, since the show calls his fiancée a hobbit. Like, the whole scene is based around the idea that Kim is secretly a hobbit and her magical power is Photoshop. Kanye goes around defending her in a Zane Lowe–esque manner. Also, there is a "Bound 2" parody, and a bit about the pope being named Time's Person of the Year, which is just impressive turnaround. That happened yesterday.
If you've been on social media lately, you may have heard what Macaulay Culkin is up to these days: He's in a band that plays pizza-themed cover versions of Velvet Underground songs. For real. The Pizza Underground is the brainchild of musicians Phoebe Kreutz, Matt Colbourn, and Deenah Vollmer, all veterans of the East Village anti-folk scene. They were introduced to Culkin through a mutual friend, and in November, the whole band went to his house to record a medley of songs bearing the titles "I'm Waiting for the Delivery Man," "All the Pizza Parties," and "I'm Beginning to See the Slice." (You can download the MP3 here.) This past weekend, Buzzfeed put the Pizza Underground on its front page, and the members of this jokey side project are now weighing offers to perform their saucy tunes around the world. Vulture spoke with glockenspiel player and vocalist Phoebe Kreutz about the band's origins, what they have planned for the future, and whether there's a full-length version of "Pizza Day."
The latest in the "Girls"-Goldieblox saga: the Beastie Boys have sued the toy company for "a systematic infringement of intellectual property." The suit claims that the GoldieBlox ad — which uses a parodied version of the band's 1987 song "Girls," and was removed from the Internet last month — is not fair use and that the company continues to benefit from "the Beastie Boys' perceived affiliation." You kind of knew this was coming.
Let's speak plainly: Britney Jean, the latest, "most personal" album from one Britney Spears, is not good. It has its campy moments (namely, "Work Bitch"), and, yes, I spent the better part of the weekend singing the one-note chorus of "Perfume," but neither song is destined for the Britney Pantheon. The rest is "dull and outdated," as New York's Jody Rosen put it, "full of blundering bottle-service club beats and way too many sodden ballads." It is the kind of album you listen to exactly once, out of obligation, before retreating back the Britney songs you actually like.
The Coen brothers have been very open about the various influences behind their new film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Most prominent, the film’s titular character is inspired by legendary folk-musician Dave Van Ronk. The Coens mined Van Ronk’s memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, for details, but — despite some minor similarities (his album cover for Inside Dave Van Ronk is identical to Llewyn’s, and inspired the film’s name) — Van Ronk’s personality and career were very different from those of Llewyn. To find out what else in the Coen brothers’ world rang true or false, we consulted two people who lived through the real thing — Terri Thal, Van Ronk's first wife, and Sylvia Topp, wife of Tuli Kupferberg, author, poet. and lead singer of political-rock band the Fugs.
Yeezus only scored two nominations this year, and none in the major categories (it's up for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song, for "New Slave"), so you would be forgiven for expecting some thoughts from Kanye. Here they are, finally: "Yeezus is the top one or two album on every single list, but only gets two nominations from the Grammys. What are they trying to say?" That is an excellent question.
Every year brings us movies, music, and TV shows, new books, new artists, and new plays. But there are also new scandals and obsessions — fresh hubbubs that themselves become a form of entertainment. And 2013 was a banner year in that arena. Let's look back at some of this year's "lightning rods," the events and ideas and people we couldn't stop talking about.
Imagine if American Hustle were just titled The Big Hustle or Abscammed: Sure, it would have got at the big con at the center of the true-ish Abscam story, but adding the word "American" adds some time-honored significance: This isn't just a historic tale of cops and crooks teaming up to nab politicians, it also points out something inherently corrupt and greedy about our country. Countless artists have used the word "American" in a movie, book, or song title for such satiric, wistful, or political purposes, implying that the bad behavior, disillusionment, or tragedy to follow is endemic to our culture, be it from Bret Easton Ellis's psycho, Green Day's idiot, or Jason Biggs's pie. (American Hustle was originally titled American Bullshit, a bit too on-the-nose.) Of course, sometimes using "American" in a title is a patriotic gesture intended with little irony: This is the best our country has to offer, whether it's PBS's Masters or the Discovery Channel's Choppers! Either way, it's one of the most commonly used words in all of titledom. Here is a selected list of 168 things that have been called "American" in TV, movie, song, and book titles. If you're planning an American movie, you'd better hurry up; there aren't many things left un-Americanized.
Honestly, would you even blame her: The song is called "Perfume," and Britney Spears has at least twelve perfumes. Somewhere a marketing person is getting yelled at because this video did not feature enough of Britney Spears's many fragrances. But anyway, yes, there is only one perfume bottle in this whole video, and the rest of it is devoted to Britney obsessing over a guy who looks like a much-hotter version of Jason Trawick. Much, much hotter, actually. Good on you, Britney.
The weather keeps changing. Five minutes ago, the sky above Key Biscayne was clear blue, the palm trees were swaying in time with the music, and the sun was shining like it been hired for the occasion. Which, given the occasion, didn’t seem entirely implausible. But then, just like that, the air went from sultry to heavy. The wind was whipping through the palm fronds and the hair of the girls dancing on the beach. When the director of the music video — a man named X — looked up, there they were: a gang of clouds, rolling up on the scene like so much bad news. “Back!” someone yelled to the group of workmen wheeling a giant floodlight across the sand, who reversed course just as fat raindrops began to fall, sending the extras in their bikinis, the label people with their iPhones, and the stylist in leather shorts skittering toward shelter.
She made the crossover from Broadway to TV, but can she make yet another leap into pop music? Lea Michele isn't done with Glee (Rachel just made it into Funny Girl!), but that doesn't mean she can't shoot for the top of the charts, solo. On paper, "Cannonball," the first single off her debut album, Louder, is a very good attempt. It's written by Sia Furler and Benny Blanco and produced by Stargate. And if you're gonna hit No. 1,that is exactly who you ask. The result is a ballad not unlike its similarly named "Wrecking Ball," but arguably less catchy. Well, electronic claps aside.
It's less of a duet and more of a cover song with director's commentary, but Robin Thicke's version of Christopher Cross's "Ride With the Wind" seems fitting for the soundtrack of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. "I was born the son of a lawless man," sings Robin Thicke. Burgundy responds, "You mean Alan Thicke?" Ah, touché.
The measure of a truly wonderful song? Its ability to still sound great when someone else covers it. Inside Llewyn Davis's Oscar Isaac gets it, grabbing Katy Perry's infectious "Roar" and giving it a folk spin. Should Llewyn Davis have just released a cover album? Well, he was friends with Justin Timberlake. (Give us a ten-minute folk version of "Mirrors" and we'll call it even.)
For a music critic, year-end best-of lists are irresistible agony. They’re agony because one can’t help feeling, in one’s more puffed-up moments, that to quantify musical preferences is to debase them, to strip them of nuance and romance — to reduce ideas and feelings about the most powerfully ineffable of the arts to box-score tabulations. Lists are irresistible, though, because of course music criticism is a nerd’s game, and the arc of nerdiness bends inexorably towards quantification, taxonomization, Sabermetrics.
This tally of favorite songs is the longest year-ender I’ve ever compiled, and I can report that the agony is not diminished by all those extra slots: Many cherished tracks got cut in the winnowing process, and, reader, I grieved for them. I deliberated for a while about my No. 1, but kept coming back to a song that captivated me from the first time I heard it, a song that definitively caught the zeitgeist and incited Twittersphere Sturm und Drang. I love Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop,” though, for its timelessness, not timeliness: for a sound that’s as beautifully boomy and doomy as, for instance, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” a song that would probably have topped my 1936 Best Songs list, had I been around back then.
I was tempted to compile a separate rundown of favorite songs featuring 2 Chainz, the rap clown-prince who is one of my 2013 MVPs. But that list might have required more than 100 slots, and the madness has to stop somewhere.
Or so said the chairman of Columbia Records, when asked about his 2014: “Obviously, at some point, Beyoncé will put a record out.” That is actually not very obvious, after a year of waiting for an official single. And the “at some point” is not exactly reassuring (unless they’re planning a surprise release?). But anyway, Columbia says Bey will release an album next year. Plan accordingly.
This week, Heart became the third act to cancel their show at SeaWorld after seeing Blackfish — a documentary that targets the water park for its mistreatment of killer whales. Heart's announcement follows similar cancellations from SeaWorld-scheduled acts Willie Nelson ("I don't agree with the way they treat their animals," he said to CNN's Brooke Baldwin) and Barenaked Ladies ("This is a complicated issue, and we don't claim to understand all of it, but we don't feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time," they wrote on their Facebook page). In response, SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck told CNN: "While we're disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld ... we respect the bands' decisions."
For a somewhat racy country song ("Roll up a joint, or don't!"), the music video for Kacey Musgraves's "Follow Your Arrow" is pretty tame. For one, she takes the arrow thing quite literally: an arrowhead, an arrow sign pointing upward, a neon arrow. So follow that arrow wherever it points. (Unless it's pointing directly at a cactus. Don't follow it there.)
- 1. Fact-Checking the Age-Old Rumors of Walt Disney’s Dark Side
- 2. All the Snubs and Surprises From the 2014 Golden Globe Nominations
- 3. The 2014 Golden Globe Nominations Are Here!
- 4. Watch Amy Poehler and Billy Eichner Force People to Sing Christmas Carols on the Street
- 5. Ryan Murphy Talks Self-Policing, Jessica Lange’s Exit, and What’s Next on American Horror Story: Coven
- 6. See Every Absurd Outfit Jennifer Love Hewitt Wears on Season One of The Client List
- 7. Damian Lewis Apologizes For Inadvertently Insulting Sir Ian McKellen
- 8. Former American Idol Contestant Danny Noriega Joins RuPaul’s Drag Race
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