Months of hype morphed into reality today, as Apple Music — the tech giant’s long overdue evolution from selling music to streaming it — finally went live. The buildup to launch has been rocky, with indie artists and Taylor Swift waging an ultimately successful war to get Apple to fairly compensate them for the use of their tunes. But with that messiness over (at least until the next rights battle), the focus turns to the most critical question: Is Apple Music a giant leap forward in the streaming space, or just another Spotify wannabe? The service has only been live for a few hours now, so it’s probably premature to render that verdict. But three Vulture editors — music expert Lauretta Charlton, plus Dee Lockett and Josef Adalian — have been playing around with Apple Music all day, and they’ve already formed some strong opinions. Here are their first impressions:
A snippet of a new song? Levitation? A horrific but poignant plot twist? If Kendrick Lamar's new video isn't the best of 2015, it's certainly the coolest.
Every week, members of the Vulture staff highlight the best new music of 2015. We do not discriminate; as long as the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture 2015 Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year's best new tunes.
Welcome to Lake Wobegon, the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve. These words must be running through Chris Thile’s mind right now. The young mandolinist and bandleader from California is set to replace Garrison Keillor, the town crier for the fictional Minnesota hamlet, as the host of "A Prairie Home Companion," the public-radio show that you probably haven’t listened to since you were a kid. It hasn’t changed much since those days, either, and that’s the show's biggest challenge: Can it be improved upon, when by now it’s mostly been forgotten, especially by young listeners who jeer at its heartland humor?
One of 2015's best rap albums lands today, and it comes from a guy who claims to not even care all that much about rap music. For more than five years, Vince Staples, a 21-year-old Long Beach native, has been turning heads with sharp-tongued ruminations about his Ramona Park Legend past, police brutality, and black culture. By embracing his gangbanger upbringing — a "soldier since the stroller," he raps — Staples has landed himself a record deal with Def Jam and a role in Rick Famuyiwa's Sundance hit Dope. His freshly released debut double album, Summertime '06, serves as a letter to the city that raised him — part love, part good-bye. Vulture recently talked to Staples about Summertime, his hilarious cameo in Dope, and what he makes of the shooting in Charleston.
From Iggy Azalea's Twitter account, your No. 1 source for all Iggy Azalea news, comes the ongoing story of why, exactly, Iggy's Britney Spears collaboration "Pretty Girls" did not set the world on fire. "It's difficult to send a song up the charts without additional promo and TV performances, etc. Unfortunately, I'm just featured [on the track]," Iggy told a fan on Twitter over the weekend. "I would have enjoyed performing it a lot. I think it got off to a powerful start, but you need content to compete in 2015." Translation? It's Britney('s fault), bitch. When news outlets interpreted these tweets as a slam on Spears, Iggy spoke out in one tweet that perfectly captured the relationship between the two pop titans with a brilliant ass-eating metaphor:
AC/DC's vast catalogue of tunes is set to hit streaming services today, the New York Times reports. After joining iTunes only three years ago, the popular and seemingly immortal Australian rock band will now also be accessible via Spotify, Rdio, and Apple Music, among other services. AC/DC has been a vocal digital holdout because it, like many of the other bigs from rock's Old Guard, reportedly didn't want "albums split into individual tracks to be sold." "We are a band who started off with albums and that's how we've always been," guitarist Angus Young told Britain’s Sky News in 2011. "We always were a band that if you heard something on the radio, well, that’s only three minutes. Usually the best tracks were on the albums." The group’s most recent record, Rock or Bust, was the first made available for digital download; it has had more than 500,000 copies sell Stateside, according to Nielsen. The Times notes that many of AC/DC's comrades-in-arms (and other notorious holdouts), such as Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles, also recently succumbed to the digital push. All this in conjunction with Taylor Swift's recent announcement makes it abundantly clear streaming is not only mainstream, but it's also, for most, inevitable.
The end of June has been wild for Diddy: First, he got arrested for kettlebell stuff. Then, he reunited the Bad Boy family at the BET Awards — and fell down a trap door. And now he's teamed up with Pharrell to remind everyone who he is, with "Finna Get Loose," one big feeling you can feel with your ears. (Well, he is many things, but in this scenario: rapper.) The production on this track, courtesy of Pharrell, is undeniably fantastic. The lyrics are ... well, a blend of bland and scary (there is a reference in here to Stephen King's Cujo, whoa!). As a package deal, though, it seems to accomplish its goal — even if the person in the background is panting really hard and should probably receive medical attention instead of dancing. Anyway, as far as reminders go, it's pretty fun. Diddy even goes a little bit Oprah at the end. What a guy.
By now you've probably heard that Shia LaBeouf, in his spare time, likes to battle-rap. You've also probably heard that Shia has a bit of a history of plagiarism. Now that his Transformers-referencing freestyle has gone viral, rap group the Anomolies are calling him out for jacking their lyrics without credit. In a post on Instagram, one of the group's members says, "You can’t rip songs from my Anomolies crew, recite them in a freestyle as your own, get credit for it, then not expect to be called out by actual MCs!" She says that one line in particular ("I reckon you want more of that rare commodity / The quality is what it’s got to be / And my philosophy is much farther than what your eyes can see") comes straight from the group's 1999 song "Perfectionist." She's right, he copies it almost verbatim. However, in Shia's defense, there's nothing that suggests the lyrics he's spitting are actually his. But going by today's rap standards, having a pre-written (or, in his case, thought-out) freestyle actually makes Shia LaBeouf even more of a real rapper than we ever considered. Looks like Shia did his homework.
Tatiana Maslany is the queen of multitasking, as evidenced by her ability to play practically every character on Orphan Black. Sadly, she's also fast become the queen of Emmy snubs, having yet to land one for all her hard work. And yet, here she is once again doing what she does best for Son Lux (never heard of him? Check out "Easy," and come swoon with the rest of us) for his new video, "You Don't Know Me." She plays the bored housewife who stares listlessly at her husband (Noah Segan) over dinner and other mundane married things. Except she also either moonlights as some sort of creepy religious cult leader or at least daydreams about doing that while her husband slobbers all over her. More proof that Tatiana can play literally anything.
Beginning July 10, Fridays will become the official worldwide album-release day in over 45 countries, an initiative led by the the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents over 1,300 record companies globally. Previously, different territories had different release dates. Here in the United States, Tuesday has been the traditional release day for decades, and the change is meant to help the music business align itself in the digital age on a global scale. Does any of this really matter to music fans? Well, here are five things you can expect after the shift:
Following the BET Awards, Big Sean premiered yet another music video from Dark Sky Paradise (his fourth in a week!) for his throwback jam "Play No Games," featuring Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign. And it takes us all the way back to the beloved '90s sitcom Martin, with a spot-on parody of the credits and cameos from both Martin Lawrence and Bruh Man in what might just be the best video of the year.
Look at him go! Get 'em, Shia! Pro tip: This crowd loves a good potato rhyme.
A more positive update about Joni Mitchell hit the internet Sunday, a couple of days after David Crosby told HuffPost Live that the singer suffered an aneurysm and couldn't speak. "Joni did in fact suffer an aneurysm. However, details that have emerged in the past few days are mostly speculative. The truth is that Joni is speaking, and she's speaking well," a statement clarified on her site. "She is not walking yet, but she will be in the near future as she is undergoing daily therapies. She is resting comfortably in her own home and she's getting better each day. A full recovery is expected."
Unfortunately, conflicting reports have surfaced over the last few months regarding the singer's health — à la Harper Lee's confusing condition, which has certain parties saying one thing and other friends another — but this latest update, if true, is an uplifting, welcome step in the right direction. The statements posted on Mitchell's site are supposed to be published according to the wishes of "those closest to Joni, with the interest of privacy, medical confidentiality, and Joni's well-being of highest priority." They are usually, if not always, approved by Leslie Morris, who is with Mitchell in the hospital and is the musician's conservator. You can read more of those updates here. Get well soon, Joni.
Say, who's that miserable-looking woman whose haunting melodies have soundtracked Colin Farrell's barroom angst on True Detective this season? It's Nashville singer-songwriter Lera Lynn, who, it turns out, is also the mystery woman heard in True D's first season-two teaser. Along with music supervisor T Bone Burnett and Rosanne Cash, Lynn wrote a number of songs on the True Detective soundtrack; she spoke to Vulture from her kitchen about her work on the show and made it very clear that she is not playing herself in those smoky bar scenes.
At this weekend's BET Experience in Los Angeles, three core members of the seminal rap outfit N.W.A. reunited and performed their iconic anthem "Fuck Tha Police." The group was around from 1986 to 1991 (Ren replaced Arabian Prince in 1988), and last night was the first time the outfit had performed together in more than two decades — Ice Cube hadn’t performed with Yella since 1989 and with MC Ren since 2000. Dr. Dre, however, didn’t show up. The other main member, Easy-E, died in 1995.
After Kanye West was announced as a Glastonbury headliner, an online petition with more than 133,000 signatures calling for Kanye to be replaced by a “real” rock band appeared, to the chagrin of those who aren't living in the 1970s. West called the petition “an insult to music fans all over the world.” Dave Grohl, who couldn’t perform because of that stupid broken leg (he was replaced by Florence and the Machine), said the petition would only fuel Kanye to create a bigger, better performance, but even Grohl probably didn’t anticipate Kanye breaking out into a cover of Queen’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a quintessential classic rock and karaoke-night track. He performed the first verse before moving on to the normally scheduled programming. Watch West channel Freddie Mercury — as well as perform his own “Stronger,” “Power,” “New Slaves," "Heartless," and other songs — below.
It was undeniably badass when Dave Grohl broke his leg and continued to rock out with his bone out. It was undeniably unfortunate, however, that Grohl had to then cancel the Foo Fighters’ appearance at the Glastonbury Festival, one of the biggest stops on the Fighters’ European tour. Grohl & Co. were replaced by Florence and the Machine, who performed a cover of “Times Like These” in Grohl’s honor, which sort of makes it hurt less. Watch the performance below:
Epic Conducting Photos might be the greatest thing to ever happen to classical music. The uproarious Tumblr is “an attempt to compile the greatest poses, facial expressions, hair, and other moments caught on camera, in the history of orchestral conducting.” Throw on some Mahler and scroll through the glorious GIFs of maestros conducting so, so hard. A few highlights are below, and make sure you also check out Leonard Bernstein's awesome dance moves.
We haven’t had a genuine update on Joni Mitchell in a while, though rumors have eddied around the internet. Mitchell, 71, has been in the hospital since late March after reportedly being found unconscious at her home. Now her good friend 73-year-old David Crosby has told HuffPost Live that Mitchell has a long road to recovery ahead of her.
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