Two years ago, TLC’s T-Boz and Chilli launched a Kickstarter campaign for what they said would be their final album. They set a goal of $150,000, and managed to bring in just over $430,000 for the effort, with backer rewards to be delivered in September 2015, presumably because they planned on finishing the album by that time. Well it’s now February 2017, and no final album has been issued, but those who backed the project have now received an update about album delivery. Apparently, fans can “tentatively” expect their paid-for wishes to be fulfilled at the end of this coming June, and the reason for the drastic delays is basically scheduling conflicts. The group’s longtime manager, Bill Diggins, wrote the update on behalf of T-Boz and Chilli, and made sure to remind them, “The pursuit of excellence is never an easy task and always takes longer than expected.” So the storied final album may still be vaporware at this point, but it’s “tentative” release date is more concrete than anything project supporters have gotten in years. Here’s hoping it’s not just a long con after all.
At some point during the past few years, the word petty underwent a makeover. Originally derived from the French word for “little,” the word had, for a long time, been purely pejorative. It was not the sort of word one applied to oneself: No one would call themselves small-fry, small-minded, an earner of petty cash, at least not with pride. Yet with no one knowing exactly why it happened (black culture and social media were surely the driving factors), petty became a socially acceptable, amusing way to admit that someone — including you, perhaps — held grudges. (A similar, related process occurred with the word savage, which transitioned from its original sense of “uncouth and uncivilized” to “heartless executioner [insert 3-20 cry/laughing emojis]” within the space of, it seemed, less than a year. What a time to be alive.)
Bruce Springsteen’s prolific career has birthed many musical offspring in his image, but none quite like his long-lost son Ryan Adams. There are many resemblances — their blue-collar ethos, that strained vocal cracking, the very fact that Adams covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 in the spirit of Nebraska — none of which are lost on Adams. He’s been chasing Springsteen his entire career, recently plucking up the courage to tweet at Springsteen the lyrics to “Streets of Philadelphia” as a heads-up that he’d soon be covering it. And so he has on tour, and now for everyone else, he’s covered it in the BBC Radio 6 studio as part of the station’s ode to 1994. (A time when Adams was just beginning his lifelong Springsteen tribute act in Whiskeytown.) We don’t need to tell you the result is an acoustic dream.
Before he won an Oscar for Moonlight and even before he stole our hearts as House of Cards’ Remy Danton, Mahershala Ali rapped under the moniker Prince Ali. And he was good. Ali released a mixtape called Corner Ensemble in 2006 and an album titled Curb Side Service in 2007. According to his Spotify artist bio, Prince Ali came to fruition after the Oscar-winner graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and founded Eye5 Recordings in 2006. Ali’s love of music is still present in his acting: He makes individual playlists for every character he plays (“They help focus me very quickly, almost like a meditation. It especially helps if you’re working on a couple of things,” he told the Guardian). Wait … so Ali is an actor who can also rap — is there an EGOT in his future? We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Listen to more of Ali’s pre-Moonlight bars below.
Last fall, the strands of singer Rhiannon Giddens’s life and the hybrid tapestry of American music wound together in one evening-long whirl. At 5 p.m. she joined Eric Church to sing the country anthem “Kill a Word” on The Tonight Show. Then she rushed to Merkin Hall to give a recital that hopscotched from staples of black Broadway to Richard Strauss’s gossamer “Morgen” and ended with Giddens’s own slave ballad, “Julie.” Black and white song, elevated and popular, spiritual and profane, hoary and new, activism and entertainment — all these categories dissolved in the simple ritual of a barefoot musician singing and plucking a banjo. “I thought, This is what it means to be a musician in 2016!” she says.
All surprised out after Sunday night’s Oscars twist? Life’s about to throw us another curveball: Start practicing your shocked face because Lorde’s return may commence as early as this week. Her attentive fans in New Zealand noticed a commerical that cropped up last night, simultaneously, on all the major national networks featuring Lorde in the backseat of a car snacking on fast food while what appears to be a new upbeat (!) piano-driven tune of hers plays for all of 15 seconds. The ad ends by teasing two dates: March 2 in New York City and March 3 in New Zealand, meaning something Lorde-related is going down this Thursday/Friday and we should all be on high alert. (The last update on her new album from November was that it’s “coming soon”; reports seemed to show a new single out on March 7.) She’s gotta have something new to dance like she’s having an exorcism to when she hits the SNL stage on March 11, and this might just be it.
MailChimp would like you to remember them for all your email marketing needs, and if fueling Dev Hynes’s creative output will help them achieve that goal, well, that’s just what they’ll do. The Blood Orange singer-songwriter and musician Bryndon Cook released a new song “Hymn” as the duo VeilHymn earlier this month, and as Pitchfork pointed out, damned if the name VeilHymn wasn’t specifically chosen as part of MailChimp’s current rhyming ad campaign, which also includes works featuring similarly oblique titles like MailShrimp, KaleLimp, and WhaleSynth, among others. Also released as part of the site’s promotional strategy, “Hymn” is very much in keeping with the rest of Hynes’s oeuvre, so, hey, set yourself up an email newsletter to tell your friends. Use whatever website you feel like.
Andy Samberg Breaks Out His Finest Eddie Vedder Impression to Celebrate the Celebrities Who Made It Out of 2016 AliveBy Devon Ivie
Let’s face it. 2016 was a really, really rough year for celebrity deaths. So in order to put the slightest of smiles on people’s faces, Andy Samberg decided to bust out his impression of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder to sing a rockin’ “non-memoriam” banger at the Film Independent Spirit Awards last night, with the sole purpose of reminding everyone that it could’ve been a lot worst. Hailee Steinfeld? Very much alive! Tim Allen? Alive and kickin’! Fred Armisen? He’s still al … wait. Oh no. Rest in peace, Fred.
Remy Ma is coming after Nicki Minaj with a very thorough diss track, “ShETHER.” The nearly seven-minute song, which uses the beat from Nas’s “Ether,” employs insults both obvious and not — there are accusations of ghostwriting, questioning of skill (“To be the queen of rap, you have to actually rap”), repetition of the line “Fuck Nicki Minaj,” and a section that lists Nicks from Jonas to Cage. The release is seemingly a response to Minaj’s new track with Gucci Mane, “Make Love,” which had the Minaj lines, “You see, silly rabbit, to be the queen of rap / You gotta sell records, you gotta get plaques.” Basically, the cover art is an accurate representation of the vibe coming off “ShETHER.” Meanwhile, Minaj was quick to respond with an Instagram post shadily pointing out the lackluster sales of Remy Ma’s Plato O Plomo. Settle in folks, whaddya wanna bet this beef isn’t over?
You won’t have to look far to discover the significance of At the Drive-In’s “Incurably Innocent,” the new cut from the band’s upcoming album Inter Alia, released on Wednesday. As lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala explained to NME, the track is “a song about sexual abuse and being able to finally speak out.” It’s a striking statement, but not quite for the reasons listeners ignorant of the post-hardcore quintet’s history might think.
Foo Fighters Aren’t Breaking Up, and the Proof Is in a Surprise Livestreamed Concert and a Glastonbury Do-OverBy Dee Lockett
When any band goes on an indefinite hiatus, it’s usually code for “we are never ever getting back together.” But Foo Fighters are here to prove the naysayers wrong by officially ending their two-year hiatus in grand fashion. They’re going to finally headline Glastonbury — as will Radiohead — after Dave Grohl’s broken leg forced them out of the job in 2015. Now back to being spry, Grohl is ready for a do over. And for their warm-up, Foo Fighters have reunited for an impromptu intimate show in England that’s being livestreamed right now. Like, right this second. Double surprise! We’d tell them to break a leg, but, uh …
As he’s wont to do, Frank Ocean has debuted yet another project shrouded in secrecy. Once again collaborating with his partner in elusive crime, he’s announced his first Beats 1 Radio show on Apple Music. And, oh look, its first episode is already happening live right now. “Blonded Radio” will be on from 12 to 2 p.m. ET, and it’s already got a major first guest: The first episode features Ocean interviewing Apple Music’s enemy Jay Z — in an apparent streaming peace treaty with Jay’s Tidal — about music accessibility and how streaming has made music consumption more inclusive. A description for the segment calls it “Interview Pt. 1,” so it would appear there’s more to come. As with anything Frank Ocean related, there aren’t any details about the show aside from his playlist, including “selections with Vegyn, Roof Access and Federico Aliprandi,” all collaborators of Ocean’s who seem to be the show’s hosts; Vegyn hosted episode 1. (Vulture has reached out to Apple Music for clarification.) So far, Blonded Radio has played two songs from Prince with Ocean saying, simply, “Rest in peace.”
The search for everything is a pretty comprehensive endeavor, so it’s no big surprise that John Mayer needs more than one swipe at it. A month after releasing The Search for Everything Wave One, his first debut in three years, Mayer has dropped The Search for Everything Wave Two. The second EP contains another four tracks, two of which — “Emoji of a Wave” and “Roll it on Home” — contain wave imagery right in the title. Mayer teased Wave Two with some good vibes, tweeting, “I’m truly ‘releasing’ these songs and it’s a beautiful feeling.” Catch the surf with Moondoggie’s latest wave below.
When Frank Ocean rains, he pours — both musically and in the way of indecipherable water imagery. After the lengthy wait for Ocean’s follow-up to Channel Orange resulted in not one but two new releases, Ocean is keeping up his prolific pace, now with a Calvin Harris and Migos collaboration. The song, “Slide,” is nominally a Harris track, though Ocean and Migos of course take the lead on the vocals, while Harris, Ocean, Offset, and Quavo all share writing credit. Also of note on the track listing is the line that “Frank Ocean appears courtesy of Frank Ocean,” confirming his post–Boys Don’t Cry status as a free agent. Give the electric “Slide” a listen below, boogie-woogie-woogie.
Hold up, because you probably won’t love this news. Beyoncé was scheduled to perform at this year’s annual Coachella music festival alongside fellow headliners Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar, but owing to her pregnancy (with twins!) that was colorfully announced on Instagram earlier this month, she will be unable to perform as planned. In a statement to the Associated Press, Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment and festival producer Goldenvoice said the singer had to pull out of the festival “following the advice of her doctors to keep a less rigorous schedule in the coming months.” To make up for her withdrawal, she will headline Coachella’s 2018 festival instead; her headliner replacement, though, has yet to be announced. Get your rest, Bey.
Because this is the world we live in now, Depeche Mode would like to clarify unequivocally that they are not, and have never been, the “official band of the alt-right.” After Richard Spencer (that neo-Nazi who got punched) told New York Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi that Depeche Mode is the white-nationalist movement’s official sound, the rock band rushed to refute that claim. “That is a pretty ridiculous claim,” a rep for the band told Gothamist. “Depeche Mode has no ties to Richard Spencer or the alt-right and does not support the alt-right movement.” The literal Nazis will have to find another band to soundtrack their nationalism — Depeche Mode is, again, totally not down.
It may not be directed by Andrea Arnold (someday), but Migos’ video for “Deadz” is a cinematic achievement as mesmerizing as their last. A couple decades ago, Jay Z wrote a song called “Dead Presidents” (and its sequels), which used a sample of Nas talking about the enduring legacy of white wealth as exemplified by the faces of dead white presidents on our country’s bills. That entire indictment has now come full circle courtesy of the Migos. Behold: Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff shoving their own stacks of dead presidents in the faces of literal dead presidents and Benjamin Franklin in coffins. Forget Daniel Day-Lewis and just hand Migos the Oscar for best presidential biopic. May the Migos never know a day without this much unabashed opulence.
Jack Black Still Won’t Let Himself Live Down Royally Screwing Up Elliott Smith’s ‘Say Yes’ at a Tribute ConcertBy Dee Lockett
It’s no easy feat paying tribute to one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his generation — especially when conventional singing and songwriting aren’t exactly your forte. A few years ago, Elliott Smith fan Jack Black was asked by the owner of L.A.’s Largo — where Black had watched Smith play numerous times — to perform “Say Yes” at a show for Smith. Naturally, Black said yes, and not a day since has gone by in which the decision hasn’t haunted him. For a new offshoot of Sean Cannon’s Guestlist podcast created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Smith’s Either/Or, Black has once again dredged up every painful detail of his tribute performance in an episode premiered by Vulture.
“Love” is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Lana Del Rey song in the artist’s later, more chilled-out phase: short verses, no shortage of repetitions, and so obvious it hurts. As the chorus indicates, the song is about being “young and in love.” “Love” is also, needless to say, marvelously good, yet another masterful display of Del Rey’s gift for transmuting, without apparent effort, kitsch into myth, nostalgia into presence. Like David Lynch, the artist whose aesthetic hers most resembles, Del Rey’s lives in a timeless dimension of the soul whose concrete particulars — the hair, the clothes, the lighting — replicate those of the ’50s and early ’60s, or more precisely, a cinematic rendition of that era. Mediation and desire are her great themes. No one knows how she looks better than she does, and no one else knows just how much she’s worth than her. (A lot, it’s safe to say.)
In Radiohead’s catalogue of extreme mood killers, there can only be one winner for most likely to make you want to curl up in a ball, wallow, and retreat from the world. At long last, “True Love Waits” has been scientifically proven to be the most depressing Radiohead song. Radiohead superfan Charlie Thompson made this discovery using Spotify to measure a song’s valence (how sad a song sounds) and Genius to calculate a song’s musical sentiment (how sad a song’s lyrics are). With just the first set of data, “True Love Waits” and “We Suck Young Blood” were neck and neck, but then “High and Dry” pulled into the lead (turns out, repeating the word leave is big sad bait). Ultimately, Thompson’s own custom Gloom Index (yes, really) found that, when factoring in lyrical density (lyrical frequency and importance), “True Love Waits” is the mother of all Radiohead downers. It also just so happens to appear on Radiohead’s most depressing album, A Moon Shaped Pool, according to his data science. So, uh, maybe 21 years wasn’t enough time to prepare for the pain.
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