As part of NBC's inaugural Red Nose Day telethon (you can watch highlights from the charity festivities here and donate to help children living in poverty here), Coldplay unveiled its full, unfortunately fake Game of Thrones "musical," a.k.a. the greatest rock opera of all time. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau sings a romantic ballad about incest, Peter Dinklage brags about his longevity, Khaleesi goes Rastafarian, and there's even a fun, gruesomely rhyming number dedicated to the Red Wedding. What more do you need? "Bang, curtains, Tony Award." Agreed. Make it happen, Martins.
Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav was arrested in Las Vegas early Thursday on six charges, all misdemeanors, the AP reports. Authorities said the charges against Flav, 56, included allegations of DUI, speeding, possessing weed, and having an open container of alcohol in the car. A Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman told the AP that Flav was initially pulled over around 12:30 a.m. for going 73 miles per hour in a 45 zone. Upon inspection, officers also discovered that the reality-TV star had a suspended driver's license and registration; Flav reportedly posted the $7,000 bail shortly thereafter in Vegas. This incident aside, Flav's currently working to resolve another driving-related charge that occurred last year in New York — a felony, for which he could face up to four years if convicted.
A snippet of Drake's "Can I" has been floating around the internet for a few days, but last night we got the most polished version yet, and guess what — it's got Beyoncé in it! Just a little bit — basically all she says is "Can I?" — but there will likely be more Bey in the finished version. Given the star power involved here, we have to assume "Can I" is from Drake's forthcoming Views From the 6. No rest at the kingdom, indeed.
Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga's storied, unreleased collab that was supposed to be on good kid m.A.A.d city has finally — roughly three years later — leaked in full. The name, "PARTYNAUSEOUS," might be a little bit misleading, and it might not sound how you think it would (I guess if you listen to it on repeat enough times you can get the aural equivalent of motion sickness). Anyway, it's still a mostly good time: Lamar throws down on two slow-paced, par-for-the-course verses, and Lady Gaga does a solid job rhyming her name with "La-maa." Creative differences reportedly kept this track from slipping into GKMC, but now this ugly duckling is ready for its close-up. Scope it out below before it gets yanked (if it does — womp, womp — try here).
Kanye West was picked to close out Sunday night's Billboard Music Awards, but it was hard to tell from the show's live broadcast. ABC heavily censored his performances of "All Day" and "Black Skinhead," making large sections of his medley unintelligible. (Kanye's over-the-top pyrotechnics also didn't help.) Fans complained, and now Kanye has released a statement, via his publicist, ripping the broadcast for its treatment of his performance:
"Kanye West was grossly over-censored at the Billboard Music Awards. Non-profane lyrics such as 'with my leather black jeans on' were muted for over 30-second intervals. As a result, his voice and performance were seriously misrepresented. It is ridiculous that in 2015, unwarranted censorship is something that artists still have to fight against.
Although West was clearly set up to face elements beyond his control during the live broadcast, he would like to apologize to the television audience who were unable to enjoy the performance the way he envisioned."
According to TMZ, the show's producers say they were unaware he'd perform the explicit versions of his songs because he skipped the dress rehearsal. Their reaction: "He's Kanye. What are we supposed to do?" If Kanye stops appearing at awards shows altogether (as he's often threatened to boycott the Grammys), we wouldn't be surprised. Watch his "grossly over-censored" performance below.
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.
Florence + the Machine, “Delilah”
A few years ago, my sister and I took a trip to Dartmoor. We hiked our way across the windy moor, through brambles, past the skulls of dead sheep; our arrival at the top was greeted by an ominous rumbling in the distance, which was either thunder or the guns of the British Army's firing range, and I was left speechless by the desolate beauty that surrounded me. This new Florence song sounds exactly like that. —Nate Jones (@kn8)
Florence + the Machine’s Latest Song Is So Grand and Swooping, It Makes You Want to Climb a MountainBy Nate Jones
Florence + the Machine have been slowly teasing the upcoming release of their new album by trickling out a series of songs and videos (see here, here, here, and here), a blog-baiting strategy that would be shameless if all the music wasn't so great. Today's track is called "Delilah," and it sounds like Florence Welch throwing her voice recklessly off a cliff — in a good way!
Did you know that over the last ten years, pop music has gotten measurably dumber? That's the premise of a data-visualization blog post by ticket reseller SeatSmart that's making the online rounds, helped along by a writeup in Complex. The author, SeatSmart staffer Andrew Powell-Morse, writes that he "analyzed 225 songs in 4 different datasets, resulting in 2,000+ individual data points" — specifically, songs that "spent at least a few weeks (3+) at #1 on the Billboard charts for Pop, Country, Rock, and R&B/Hip-Hop." Then, he added punctuation and plugged their lyrics into Readability-Score.com, which analyzes a chunk of text and outputs reading levels using a bunch of different preexisting scales.
Nobody’s buying many albums these days, certainly not like they were in the late ’90s and early aughts during Blur’s commercial peak. But for Damon Albarn, front man of the British quartet, there’s at least one tangible benefit to having a new record, The Magic Whip, his band’s first in 12 years: “Now we don’t have to play the songs that I can’t sing anymore because they’re too high,” he says, smiling just enough to reveal a gold front tooth. Albarn, 47, is slouched onto a chair in the courtyard of Tribeca’s Greenwich Hotel next to guitarist Graham Coxon, 46, who’s vaping away behind a pair of Ray-Bans. They, along with bassist Alex James, 46, and drummer Dave Rowntree, 51, are in town to play The Tonight Show and a surprise concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and with a dozen new songs in their repertoire, all comfortably within Albarn’s vocal range, they can take a few older ones out of rotation. “It’s impossible for me to sing ‘Charmless Man’ anymore,” says Albarn, referring to Blur’s 1996 single, which swerves in and out of falsetto. “I’d like to try doing it again, but [we’d have to rearrange it] and you get onto dangerous grounds when you try to reinvent something.” Coxon agrees: “It’s horrible when bands do that to your favorite song. They suddenly make it loungy and add lots of seven chords.”
M.I.A. will probably never have creative freedom in the music industry. She's had several wars of words with her label, Interscope, the most famous of which involved her threatening to leak her last album. Last year, she had to fight to have her video for "Double Bubble Trouble" released, and it appears it's the same story with her newest video. Yesterday, M.I.A. explained in a series of tweets that an unnamed party (most likely her label again) isn't allowing her to put out the new visuals due to "cultural appropriation":
Now that Starbucks is done selling physical CDs in its 7,000-plus stores in the U.S., the coffee chain isn't ready to abandon music altogether. The company announced on Monday that it'll be partnering with Spotify for a multi-year deal in which the streaming service will bring its ridiculously named playlists to Frappuccino lovers everywhere. In return, Starbucks will promote Spotify in its stores and on its popular rewards app. The playlists, which will reportedly be curated by both Starbucks customers and employees (so you'd better hope your local barista has decent music taste), are set to hit a Starbucks speaker near you this fall. Listen closely: That's the sound of Jay Z spitting a Starbucks dis in the distance.
Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses’ Bass Players Cover ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ Like Two Goofballs Without Cares in the World (Because They Are Bass Players)By Jesse David Fox
On Sunday in Seattle, Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan interviewed Nirvana‘s Krist Novoselic about his new book of wisdom, How to Be a Man (and Other Illusions). They decided to try to cover "Sweet Child O' Mine" with McKagan on the bass and Novoselic on the accordion, because why the hell not. Oh, to be a bass player and live without the pressure to be serious and cool. They are the "guy who always has gum" of musicians.
Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" video is finally here, and it's essentially a trailer for 18 different movies. There's lots of badassery, lots of Kendrick Lamar, and, yeah, lots of characters to keep track of. It's kind of like watching Game of Thrones for the first time, but everybody here has better hair. And apparently Lena Dunham smokes cigars.
Kendrick Lamar made a surprise cameo at an Adrian Younge concert in Los Angeles this weekend, debuting a new song called "Money Over Love." This is the first new song Lamar’s performed since his brilliant To Pimp a Butterfly came out in March. Though it's difficult to figure out exactly what Lamar is saying (pitfalls of iPhone quality), you can definitely hear "money over love" repeated during the chorus, while backup singers harmonize. It's another soulful song that turns hip-hop on its head, as Lamar is wont to do. The song may appear on the upcoming Bilal LP (on which Younge appeared) In Another Life, Rolling Stone reports. You can watch some clips of the performance below.
Thirty-one-year-old rapper Chinx, formerly known as Chinx Drugz (his given name was Lionel Pickens), was shot and killed while driving in Queens at around 4 a.m. on Sunday. His friend, identified as Antar Aldiadi, was also wounded in the shooting. "A car pulled up along side them, the police said, and opened fire before speeding off. Both men were hit multiple times," reports the New York Times. "The vehicle pulled to a stop in front of a Dunkin' Donuts at 84th Drive and called 911, the police said." A frequent collaborator of Meek Mill and French Montana, Chinx had been working on his debut solo album, which was slated for release later this year.
Janet Jackson, progenitor of the ultimate Song of Summer, has a new album and subsequent tour under way, she announced on Saturday. Jackson tweeted out a new promotional video accompanied by the hashtag #ConversationsInACafe, which, it seems fair to assume, is the title of the album. This will be her first original album since 2008's Discipline, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
U2’s the Edge Fell Off the Edge of a Stage, and It Was So Glorious and Hilarious That It Might Be the Secret to LifeBy Jesse David Fox
Man, in many ways, is in an ongoing search for meaning in this ridiculous life we have. Some find it in nature or charity or their family or a super-good sandwich. Me? I find it in this clip of U2's the Edge, a.k.a. Thedge, on tour in Vancouver, falling off the edge of the stage while singing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" — literally right when they sing "for," he flops off the edge of the stage. It's just so funny, so pure, so existentially correct. It's perfection. It's the gods writing poetry. I found it: This is what I was looking for.
“Why do they always compare me to a Spice Girl?” Hannah Diamond laughs. “Is it because I’m British and like tracksuits?”
Nestled in a corner of the Williamsburg café Devoción, Diamond is flipping through the New York Times, admiring the photos of her friends that are scattered across the "Arts" section. They document last weekend’s Pop Cube, a Red Bull–sponsored showcase that introduced New York to the elusive, outré, and somewhat controversial British label PC Music — of which Diamond is one of the shining stars. (Other affiliated acts include neon-brite producer SOPHIE and the pop cheerleader QT.) One of the more high-profile events of the monthlong Red Bull Music Academy Festival, Pop Cube included its very own red carpet, a rather conceptual presentation for QT’s eponymous energy drink, and a pop-up TV studio where fans could interact with their favorite PC Music “stars.” “I wish I could do it again and just be a spectator,” Diamond sighs, looking at the pictures. “I wish I could have seen everything. I had a security guard blocking me the whole way through!”
B.B. King, the undisputed king of the blues, has died in Las Vegas, according to his lawyer. He was 89. Attorney Brent Bryson told the AP that King "died peacefully in his sleep" Thursday night in his home. The blues legend was active (and inspirational) for more than half a century. With such influences as Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker, King started recording in the 1940s and, over the course of his seemingly timeless career, released close to 50 records. King and his signature Gibson guitar, Lucille, dominated the genre and nabbed 15 blues Grammys, as well as a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into both the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.