Nothing says Christmas spirit quite like R. Kelly, am I right? Whether the world wanted it or not, Kellz has taken the natural progression from 12 Play to 12 Nights of Christmas, which is both the title of his new holiday album and the number of times he's threatened to fill up your, ahem, stockings this season. Given that this is his first-ever Christmas album, any reasonable person might expect him to stick to the classics, but that would just be too tame. All of his Christmas carols are originals and come rated-R for extreme ridiculousness (and, uh, sex, obviously). Is it okay to listen to any of them, Christmastime or not? Only if you'd like to kill your holiday buzz months in advance. Below, we unwrap the silliest things he says on this album. Cheers!
Madonna's behemoth Rebel Heart tour may have ended back in March — and sold more than $100 million in the process — but it's made room for one more stop. Showtime is bringing the Rebel Heart tour straight to your living room, presenting all the spanking, breast-exposing, and hard-core flirting normally seen on the network at 2 a.m into prime time, baby. The concert special, Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour, will air December 9 at 9 p.m. ET and will feature behind-the-scenes footage as well as performances from her closing dates in Australia. Get a small taste of the "medieval warrior bitch goddess" in action above, but don't say we didn't warn you.
Internationally Acclaimed Author Zadie Smith Can Sing Too, Which Is Totally Fair and Is Definitely Fine With YouBy Halle Kiefer
Most people have upward of zero talents for which the world would or should ever recognize them. As she revealed at T Magazine's "The Greats" party at New York City's Carlyle Hotel this week, British author Zadie Smith is also an incredible vocalist, which is good and doesn't fill you with any kind of wild jealousy. In a recent T Magazine interview, the White Teeth writer discuses being a cabaret singer to support herself while a student at King’s College in England. Meanwhile, you worked at a Subway. Next month Smith will kick off an 18-stop book tour to support her highly anticipated novel Swing Time, due out November 15, and the instructor of your Intro to Tap class will ask you to drop the course because you are "bumming everybody out."
Leonard Cohen’s new album, You Want It Darker, arrives under a cloud. Leading up to the album's October 21 release, Cohen's fans were dismayed to learn, in a sweeping New Yorker profile, that the legendary songwriter is ailing and, in his words, “ready to die.” Cohen walked that back a few days later, saying, “I intend to live forever,” but it’s still awfully tempting to hear the album as a valedictory effort. Tempting, but according to Cohen’s son, Adam, who produced the new album, wrong. “Even if the circumstances of my father’s age and health were all some wicked pulling-of-the-heartstrings sentimental bullshit, the truth of the situation is simply that we made an incredible record,” he said.
That’s not to say that You Want It Darker came easy or that the 82-year-old Cohen is in fine fettle. Speaking on the phone from his home in Los Angeles, birds chirping in the background, Cohen the younger elaborated — a little — on his father’s health, his own relationship to a famous muse, and the joy that went into making a not-exactly-joyous album.
RZA Tells His Side of That Whole Azealia Banks–Russell Crowe Spat; Banks Accuses Him of Gaslighting HerBy Jordan Crucchiola and Karen Brill
Whatever hope Azealia Banks may have had that the narrative surrounding her ejection from a recent party at the Beverly Hills Hotel would turn in her favor — you know, the one where Russell Crowe allegedly “grabbed her in a bear hug” in order to forcibly remove her from the room — just got wrapped up in a body bag by RZA. The hip-hop legend took to Facebook Thursday afternoon and posted a long note explaining how he remembers the events leading up to the altercation at the hotel and how the incident really unfolded, even providing context for his burgeoning professional relationship with Banks in order to clear up any rumors about alleged record deals. RZA says he was cautioned by friends against associating with Banks, but he decided to take a chance on her anyway. “I heard the rumors of her problems in the industry but disregarded them with the rationality everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” RZA wrote. “So my producer and I fought for her to be in [the upcoming RZA film Coco] and we succeeded. During the filming process things ran smooth and she delivered. Thus my only experience with her had been professional.”
Bruce Springsteen might be the undisputed king of New Jersey, but the producers behind the Harry Potter films clearly weren't charmed enough by the Boss's reign. During an interview on Simon Mayo's BBC Radio 2 show on Thursday, Springsteen confirmed the long-standing rumor that he a wrote a song specifically for the fantasy franchise, titled "I’ll Stand By You Always," and that the tune never saw the light of day in the wizarding universe. When prompted by Mayo about it, Springsteen chuckled a bit while divulging the details. "That is true," he said. "They didn’t use it." He's still unsure as to the why the "pretty lovely song" was rejected, and even expressed hope that another kid-oriented film would be interested in using it instead. "It was pretty good," he continued. "It was a song that I wrote for my eldest son, it was a big ballad that was very uncharacteristic of something I’d sing myself. But it was something that I thought would have fit lovely; at some point I’d like to get it into a children’s movie of some sort." Act fast, How to Train Your Dragon 3! Don't let this opportunity slide!
As a stadium-class pop act with roots in musical theater and performance art, Lady Gaga does not deal in subtleties. Gesture to the nosebleeds, and you reach everyone in the room. If the wide-brimmed pink hat she wears on the cover of her new album, and the choice to use her real middle name, Joanne, for its title didn’t hint at a stripped-down affair, a Bud Light–sponsored promotional stop in a Nashville dive bar ought to have done so. As Gaga took the stage at Music City watering hole the 5 Spot in a black-and-gold sequined onesie and matching cowboy hat, acoustic guitar in tow, it became clear that Joanne was to be her country album. The question was whether she could nail the pivot without alienating her base or making a mockery of modern country.
Blink-182 Will Make You Nostalgic for the Early Aughts by Re-creating Their ‘What’s My Age Again?’ VideoBy Devon Ivie
Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker might not be 23-year-olds calling their girlfriends' moms from pay phones anymore, but they certainly know the value of a good, nostalgic music video. For their latest single, "She’s Out of Her Mind," off their new studio album California — on which Matt Sciba steps in to replace former front man and noted UFO truther Tom DeLonge — the trio harked back to the old days by re-creating some scenes from their classic "What's My Age Again?" video. Except this time around, three women serve as the excitable naked joggers, and Workaholics' Adam Devine struts his stuff down a sidewalk as the easy-on-the-eyes doctor. How very 2016.
Ciara has withdrawn her $15 million defamation lawsuit against Future, her ex-fiancé and father of her child, because, according to TMZ, she's doing better financially than before Future made allegedly libelous statements about her. That fact makes it awfully hard to prove that those statements, including remarks that Ciara is a "bitch [who] got control problems" who planned publicity stunts with her child, damaged her life or career. Ciara, who is now married to Russell Wilson, is still suing Future under a false-light claim, which could still win her some compensation, though likely not as much as a defamation claim. Future previously dropped his countersuit against Ciara, which means this whole imbroglio is turning out to be pretty anticlimactic, though we'll always have Future's extremely extra deposition to remember it by.
While the political nuance of making cross-streaming platform music isn’t exactly the most relatable subject for a rant, Kanye is clearly upset with Jay Z. Remember Jay Z’s two-bar verse on Drake’s “Pop Style"? While performing in Seattle last night, Kanye revealed that they were both supposed to be on “Pop Style” but, in a complicated turn of events, Tidal co-founder Jay Z’s verse was removed from the song when Drake’s album Views was eventually sold on Apple Music. Yeezy blamed “some Tidal, some political shit, some shit about percentages" for decisions made around the song. Clearly enraged at the idea that “some Tidal/Apple bullshit” could affect his art, Kanye declared, “There will never be a Watch the Throne 2.” Yeezy also revealed that Jay Z had the audacity to call him after Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris, rather than visit the pair at home, all of which is going to make Watch the Throne 2 good as hell when they inevitably patch things up and release it on whatever streaming platform everyone has implanted directly in their brains in ten years.
You can all halt the detective work now because the rumors are true. After a massive crop circle appearing to be Radiohead's old "modified bear" logo started taking shape on Glastonbury's Worthy Farm yesterday, speculation that the band would headline the festival next year reached an all-time high. Well, guys, it's real: the festival has officially announced that Radiohead will headline Glastonbury 2017 on Friday, June 23, for the first time in 14 years. Radiohead previously headlined in 2003 and 1997, but they haven't performed at England's biggest festival since a surprise gig in 2011. Tickets for the entire festival are already sold out (Daft Punk are also rumored headliners), but if you linger around the local synth shops long enough, maybe, just maybe, you'll score one off Thom Yorke or Jonny Greenwood.
Lady Gaga Also Had to Put the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney in His Place Over His ‘Perfect Illusion’ DissBy Dee Lockett
Just one day after Lady Gaga had to unleash her wrath on the Chainsmokers for daring to speak ill of her new single "Perfect Illusion," today another man has unwisely chosen to criticize her work. The Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney, who's known for getting involved in many a beef, appeared on Vice News Tonight to review a bunch of new songs, for some reason. One of them was "Perfect Illusion," a song that repulsed him so much, he may never recover. He specifically took issue with Josh Homme's guitar playing, saying, "I’m lost because the guitar at the top of it sounds so shitty. It’s like 'Eye of the Tiger,' but not even nearly as good as that. It sounds like Hulk Hogan is playing the fucking guitar." Though Carney did say replays of the song were forcing it to grow on him, "Perfect Illusion" producer Mark Ronson and Lady Gaga had a flawless, coordinated response. Thank you and come again.
If you weren't in the room at Saturday's Tidal X 1015 benefit concert to see Beyoncé sustain an ear injury mid-performance and barely flinch, you can now experience her superpowers up close. Tidal has finally released the full performance of "6 Inch" and "Haunted." The bad news: You'll have to sign up for Tidal to witness the entire bloody moment beyond a 30-second preview. (Though that's probably a good thing if you're squeamish.) Watch Bey and her many holograms fight through the pain like nobody's business and slowly begin to wonder, What if it was one of the Bey clones who actually got the injury? Because there's no way Beyoncé bleeds like the rest of us mortals.
It's been a long time since Eminem dropped a protest song on our heads (remember "Mosh"?), but now he's back with a Molotov cocktail aimed at Donald Trump's toupee. Announcing out of the blue that he's working on a new album, Eminem released a perfectly timed new song called "Campaign Speech." If 2013's "Rap God" was the warm-up, "Campaign Speech" is game on; it's nearly eight minutes of nothing but bars against a cartoonish beat. Em makes reference to much of the racial strife that's taken over the country since his last album: the Charleston church shooting, George Zimmerman's continued existence, the cop who killed Eric Garner, Colin Kaepernick's protest, among many others. He also remains unapologetic about being deeply problematic ("You call me misogynistic, bitch get to massaging this dick"). But with the presidential election weeks away, the biggest target in this song is Donald Trump. In addition to threatening to drown Trump's supporters, Em is here to warn America that voting for a "fucking loose canon" like Trump is basically like letting Slim Shady run the country. "Great idea," he mocks us all.
An imminent Le Tigre reunion was excitedly teased by Kathleen Hanna earlier this month — for one "special song," and one special song only — and now we can finally see the goods for ourselves. As widely expected, Hanna and her fellow bandmates Johanna Fateman and JD Samson have reunited for a pro–Hillary Clinton, anti–Donald Trump track and accompanying music video called "I'm With Her," which features the pioneering feminist electroclashers singing the praises of the Democratic presidential nominee. The video features the trio grooving around in tailored pantsuits juxtaposed against an array of cute cats and supporters, so if that doesn't make you want to go out and vote, what will?
At just one week old, Amazon's new music-streaming service is already playing with the big boys: Billboard reports that Garth Brooks has ended his ban on streaming to sign an exclusive deal with Amazon Music Unlimited, where you can now stream a portion of Brooks's prolific catalogue for the first time ever. Following the Taylor Swift guide to streaming, Brooks has granted only Amazon the rights to stream his music, explaining that he turned down both Spotify and Apple because they wouldn't let him call the shots. ("I think it comes down to egos on both sides," he says.) Brooks had previously ignored iTunes for so long over his refusal to make songs individually downloadable, that, for the last two years, his music has only been digitally available via his own service, GhostTunes. With Amazon, that changes: Brooks says he'll be done with GhostTunes by the beginning of 2017, and his music will exclusively be Amazon's to stream and download (though still only as complete albums).
This week we're providing a series of Vulture Hacks: expert advice, gear guides, and recommendations to help you maximize your entertainment experience.
Can wireless earbuds make live music sound better, and possibly even give you superhuman hearing?
That’s the claim Doppler Labs is making about its Here Active Listening wireless earbuds, which can remix the sounds of the outside world via a user-controlled app. The earbuds essentially serve as audio bouncers, sucking up sounds and manipulating these waves before letting them pass on to your eardrums. The functionality in part resembles tools you'd find on a home stereo receiver, with volume, an equalizer (for adjusting the levels of different frequencies), and preset listening modes. That provides listening options that range from the curious (there’s a “Psychedelic” sound mode for when you want to get weird) to the practical (a filter that weeds out subway background noise).
Forget 24-karat gold. Bruno Mars should be bragging about diamonds, because he and Mark Ronson have just scored one of the biggest in the country. As of October 18, "Uptown Funk" has sold 11 million units, making it officially RIAA-certified diamond (recognition for hitting 10 million units). Given the Grammy-winning song's ubiquity at weddings for the rest of eternity, this distinction seems rather on the nose. "Uptown Funk" is only the 13th song in history to reach diamond status (the RIAA started handing out diamonds in 1999), but it's even more impressive because Ronson and Mars did it in just under two years. Before them, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" was the last single to go diamond, and that happened in late September, taking her smash hit four years. Love may be dead, but diamonds, like "Uptown Funk," truly are forever.
Every week, Vulture highlights the best new music. If 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 Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year's best music.
As we all scramble for a seat at Solange's table, there's already one man making a good case to sit at her side. Having heard and subsequently been enraptured by the album's standout track, "Cranes in the Sky," Common has now remixed the song because he just couldn't resist. "Every once and a few years, there are certain songs that come out and have the sound of forever. 'Cranes in the Sky' is that song for me," he tells the Fader. "Every time I listened to it, I keep wanting to hear it again and again. I started mumbling some words to it and then decided I want to write a verse. This is an unofficial remix simply inspired by the love of art." Perhaps also knowing Solo is the music consultant for Insecure and thinking, Yes, this will definitely win over the whole damn table, Common even shouts out Insecure star Issa Rae. (There's also this amusing line: "Don't touch my hair, I'm bald-headed.") May the power of black women compel you, too, to get on their level.
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