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David Bowie Tries to Capture the ‘Biblical Aspects of Human Nature’ With The Last Panthers Theme

Ahead of its premiere next month, Sky TV has debuted the opening credits for its upcoming crime drama The Last Panthers, which includes new music from none other than David Bowie. The music legend has contributed the show's orchestral theme song, "Blackstar" (sadly not featuring Yasiin Bey or Talib Kweli), after Bowie got an early look at the series' first two episodes. The idea, the show's director Johan Renck explains, was for Bowie to capture "the dark heart of Europe" and have his theme reflect "the biblical aspects of human nature" that inspired the show's concept. Hear a brief snippet of the song in the opening credits below.

  • Posted 10/6/15 at 8:00 AM
  • Theater

Why Does Nearly Every Broadway Show Still Release a Cast Album?

It’s only fitting that Atlantic Records is releasing its recording of Hamilton in a variety of formats that, like the hit musical itself, rewind history. The download went on sale September 25; the CD comes out October 16. According to a tweet from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s author, there will also be an actual LP, that throwback medium embedding the topography of a score in warpy spirals of vinyl. The LP, should it happen, would return us nearly to the dawn of the original-cast-album era, when Decca managed to fit not quite all of Oklahoma! on six ten-inch double-sided 78-rpm platters. 

As much as the technology has changed since 1943, the business model for original cast recordings — call them OCRs, but not soundtracks, please — has changed even more. »

Will Smith Had Quite a Few Key Career Updates in His Beats 1 Radio Interview With Zane Lowe

Although Will Smith has been busy making kids and stuff (his words), he had time last week to drop his first guest track in a decade. The release prompted a visit to Zane Lowe's Beats 1 Radio show, where the former Fresh Prince dished about more new music, his movie career, and what the heck is happening with that on-again-off-again, long-awaited Bad Boys sequel. Read on for highlights.

Namely those regarding a tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the next Bad Boys movie. »

Nick Carter Paid Tribute to His Boys, Brought ‘Backstreet Back’ on Dancing With the Stars

Taking a page out of the Alfonso Ribeiro DWTS playbook, Nick Carter plucked fans' nostalgia strings Monday night by whipping together a rousing routine set to "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." The theme for the night was most memorable year; Carter picked 1992, which was when the Backstreet Boys formed, and, as his pre-taped package noted, was also the year his dysfunctional family life was saved with a new family. It was an emotional and exciting night, one that hopefully paves the way for many a Backstreet-themed dance revival. Carter and partner Sharna Burgess promptly scored nines from all the judges — once the crowd was done fanboying and fangirling, of course. Can't blame ’em.

Listen to an Early Demo of Kurt Cobain’s Previously Unreleased ‘Sappy’ Solo Track

Like Montage of Heck, the doc's forthcoming companion album fittingly promises a slew of unreleased Kurt Cobain material. Monday brought forth one such confection, an early version of "Sappy" (or a precursor to "Verse Chorus Verse"), from Cobain's collection of personal recordings. Rolling Stone notes the song endured a torturous path to release, one that saw multiple reiterations and an ultimate shift into more polished, upbeat sonic territory. This cut sounds like it could serve as a piece of the soundtrack to The Conjuring — just with the Nirvana singer's trademark drawling vocals over top. It's eerie, but as with most of the other music recently resurfacing, a treat nonetheless. You can grab the album, as well as the hard-copy release of the movie, on November 13, just in time for a very pensive, moody Thanksgiving.

Jay Z’s Decade-in-the-Making ‘Big Pimpin’ Trial Might Take Even Longer to Head to Court

Back in August, we learned that after 15 years, Jay Z would have to testify in an absurdly complicated and long-standing lawsuit involving his hit song "Big Pimpin.'" Jay Z, who is being sued by the nephew of late Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi for sampling Hamdi's song "Khosara, Khosara" without proper licensing, was expected to take the stand in court next week along with the song's producer, Timbaland. However, it now appears the trial may have hit another snag.


Run the Jewels Share a Blistering New Song for NYC Gang Doc Rubble Kings

To close out the Adult Swim Singles series (which brought us gems from Chromatics and Danny Brown), Run the Jewels have shared a fiery new song, "Rubble Kings Theme (Dynamite)," for the documentary Rubble Kings (streaming now on Netflix), which explores how the gang culture that ran New York City's streets from the late '60s into the '70s laid the groundwork for hip-hop's birth. There are no cat sounds to be heard here; instead, what you get is Killer Mike and El-P in typical take-no-prisoners form over a grizzly Little Shalimar–produced beat. "I am done asking and pleading and begging you recognize I am alive," El-P growls, in an especially fearless performance. Also featured on the doc's soundtrack are Bun B, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire, and Ka, so it's probably worth a listen.

David Remnick ‘Survived’ Rocking Out With Patti Smith

The New Yorker's David Remnick is a man of many talents — writer, editor, and casual guitar-strummer. On Saturday, during his New Yorker Festival chat with Patti Smith, Remnick actually broke out his ax and grooved with the Horses legend. New York has long been on the David Remnick guitar-hero beat, so when Vulture ran into Remnick at The New Yorker's party at the Top of the Standard celebrating the festival, we couldn't help but ask what it was like to jam with Ms. Smith. "Let's put it this way: I survived with Patti Smith. Or she survived me!" he said, before revealing how the duet came about. "We were texting together. Just the usual pre-interview, what do you want to talk about, blah, blah, blah, and then I was joking around about this, and then the next thing you know …"


The Finished Version of Drake and Beyoncé’s ‘Can I’ Has Been Released

Earlier this year, Drake became the latest victim in a string of hacks that leaked tracks from several artists. One of those happened to be "Can I," his highly anticipated collaboration with Beyoncé (and their first since "Mine," off her world-stopping BEYONCÉ), though it was rumored to be unfinished at the time. Finally, Drake debuted the new song in full on his OVO Sound Beats 1 show Saturday, as yet another one-off release.

Truthfully, it doesn't sound all that different from the leak: The spaced-out track still contains the same choppy, mailed-in vocals from Beyoncé (which fans have suggested may just be a sample from "XO"), and no added verses from Drake, meaning it's possible that whatever reported intentions he had for the song to appear on Views From the 6 have likely since been abandoned.

T.Swift and Charli XCX Prove That the Swiftpocalypse Is a Very Real But Still Fun Thing

Yes, yes, we know this got out of hand a long time ago (and SNL was definitely right). But if this "Boom Clap" duet is the horse we must ride into the eschaton, so be it. The end times are fun as hell.

Diddy Always Has $100 in Cash When Mark Ronson Needs It

Before his "Uptown Funk" gave it to us for 14 weeks straight, and before he helped Amy Winehouse go "Back to Black," Mark Ronson worked as a humble club DJ in downtown Manhattan. In conversation with John Seabrook at the New Yorker Festival on Saturday at the Gramercy Theater — where Ronson performed six songs from his latest LP Uptown Special, with fellow producer Jeff Bhasker — the music producer described how Diddy, or Puffy, as he was called back then, helped bring him into the mainstream rap scene with encouragement in the form of a $100 tip.

Read the story here: »

Patti Smith on Her Next Books, Taking Acid, and Getting Dunked in Urine for Rimbaud

To promote her latest memoir, M Train (out Tuesday), Patti Smith spoke with The New Yorker's David Remnick at the magazine's festival this weekend about a colorful blend of literary and nonliterary topics. Although the two apparently text from time to time — Smith sent him pictures from Wittgenstein’s house in Vienna on tour this summer — Remnick was clearly starstruck Saturday night; fortunately, he managed to hold it together and accompany Smith on the electric guitar for a surprise performance of "Because the Night." The crowd sang along and beamed just like Remnick when she talked about her upcoming projects, experiences taking acid, and time working in a factory — where she endured a urine dip for reading the work of the decadent poet Arthur Rimbaud. Read on for the night's highlights:


4 Decades Later, Billy Joel Still Isn’t Sick of Playing ‘Piano Man’

You might think that after 42 years Billy Joel would tire of singing about Paul who's a real-estate novelist and Davy who's still in the Navy. But the iconic tune "Piano Man" never gets old for him. Originally released in 1973, it is one of the Grammy Award–winning singer’s most popular hits. Singing the same song at every gig doesn’t annoy him — it’s a part of his life’s work.

“It’s not a job you get bored in: We’ll play similar material at various gigs but it’s always so different,” he said in a conversation with New Yorker staff writer Nick Paumgarten Sunday night. “There’s always a different dynamic, a different ambiance in the room, the audience is different, you’re different that night.”


‘Writing’s on the Wall’ (Spectre) Music Video: Sam Smith and Daniel Craig Show Us Their Best Brooding With the Bond Girls

This Luke Monaghan–directed piece inexplicably came a little late today — much to the consternation of Sam Smith and fans. But it did still come, and that's what counts, because with it comes more footage from Spectre! Along with Smith crooning his heart out, the vid also features Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux, Daniel Craig, and lots of brooding looks into the distance. Thankfully, the clips interspersed here are less spoilers and more equal parts stunning suit, sunglasses, tequila, and perfume commercials. Mesh all those things together, and, as Smith notes, you have a true teaser of beauty. Catch the film itself on November 6.

Sleater-Kinney on Riot Grrl, Reuniting, and Portlandia

On Saturday, the elegant Directors Guild Theater was packed to the gills for the New Yorker Festival panel with Sleater-Kinney and staff writer Dana Goodyear. Fans of all ages were eager to see Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss chat about everything from the earliest days in Olympia to the magical city of Portlandia. The panel also featured audio and video clips of the band, as well as their fantastic music video with the Bob’s Burgers gang for their song “A New Wave,” off their first album since going on hiatus in 2006, No Cities to Love. Here are 10 things we learned from the panel:


Haim Wants to Bring Back Lilith Fair

Sarah McLachlan fans, take note: sister-trio pop rock band Haim wants to bring back a Lilith Fair style festival for the 2015 generation.


Bill Withers’s Distinctly American Music Lives On, Perhaps More Than Ever, at Carnegie Hall

I recently finished reading Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, a masterful tome about the post-Reconstruction years between 1910 and 1970 when African-Americans living in the South migrated north and west to escape the cruelty of Jim Crow. The Great Migration is considered to be one of the most understudied migratory phenomenons in history, but Wilkerson, through painstaking research and magnetic prose, paints an impressively vivid picture of African-American life by using the stories and voices of the characters who experienced it firsthand. To my mind, the most profound aspect of Warmth is that by the end of its 622 pages, you don’t walk away thinking you’ve read an epic story specifically about black life, you walk away thinking you’ve read an epic story about American life, full stop. This is why the book is a work of genius, and this can also be said of the music of Bill Withers.  


  • Posted 10/2/15 at 10:05 AM
  • Music

Janet Jackson Embraces Michael’s Influence on Unbreakable, Her Best Album in 15 Years

Future generations will not believe us when we tell them of the havoc wreaked by Janet Jackson’s boob. In this, the age of #FreetheNipple, #BreaktheInternet, and the couture-ification of “the naked dress,” something about that infamous Super Bowl halftime show now feels improbably quaint. Which is why it’s worth pointing out just how damaging the whole thing was to Janet’s recording career: Coming off the hot streak sparked by her bubbly 2001 comeback album All for You, 2004’s Damita Jo (released a month and a half after the Super Bowl performance) was the closest she’d yet come to a genuine bomb. (The fact that she was “blacklisted” from radio and TV at the time certainly didn’t help.) Album-wise, Janet hasn’t really regained her footing since then. Her next two releases were 2006’s unremarkable 20 Y.O. and 2008’s stiffly retrofuturistic Discipline, neither of which made much of an impact in the pop landscape. Janet had once inspired young women to take control of their lives and sexuality, but by the end of the last decade her story had played out like a cautionary tale, an unfortunate reminder of the exile a woman can find herself in once society has mercurially decided she’s gone “too far."

It’s easily her best album since All for You. »

  • Posted 10/2/15 at 10:02 AM
  • Remixes

Erykah Badu’s Soulful Remix of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ Has Instructions on When and How to Call Her

Once upon a time, around spring 2014, Drake used to make Erykah Badu's hotline bling often. So often, that he even showed up to her house late one night when he needed her advice on Rihanna; she made tea for him, they "talked about love and what life could really be" for him, and the rest is history. (Or so that's the story Drake sold on his "Days in the East" freebie.)

Over a year later, Miz Fat Belly Bella has presumably heard about Drake's latest woes, as expressed in his latest ode to an ex who's moved on. For Drake's sake, she's still sipping her tea, now in the form of a remix to "Hotline Bling," the song that's quickly become the sleeper hit of his career — it currently sits at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has already been covered by Sam Smith with Disclosure and Kehlani with Charlie Puth. Badu's expectedly soulful mix doesn't just cover the Dram erasure, but puts her own spin on it.


Yoko Ono on How to Change the World, Her Most Controversial Work, and John Lennon’s 75th Birthday

What do you ask Yoko Ono? Before speaking with her over the phone recently, we sketched out a few conversation-starters knowing that — as is the case with most celebrities who have seen it all, heard it all, and done it all over the last half-century — many would be met with detached amusement. Surprisingly, this was not the case. Yoko Ono is quite warm over the phone, and even though our interview jumped chaotically from her pet project (just a little thing called world peace) to the modern-day resonance of her declaration that “Woman Is the Nigger of the World,” she delivered her answers with genuine enthusiasm and élan.



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