HiFi Magazine #2 (Aug/Sept 2011)

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issue no. 2 // august /september 2011

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BONNAROO: WORD AND PICTURES An ultimate close-up look on this year’s ultimate music festival


BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND The music community responds to the devastation of April’s fury on America’s Southeast.


20 26 33

How did Lady Gaga moprh into a superpower? Everyone’s asking that question. Thankfully,


we’ve got some answers.

45 GREATEST SUMMER SONGS Ha-ha, wipeout! Time to surf the waves with the best summer anthems of all time.

THE “O” FACTOR Besides SpaghettiO’s, Cherrios and legions of Oprah fans, it seems like pop music is having a field day with the power of the “O.”

HIFI MAGAZINE. Volume 1, Number 2. Copyright 2011 by HIFI Media LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without proper permission is prohibited. This publication is published bi-monthly with two double-issues printed annually. Single copies: $4.99 U.S. per issue. OFFICE OF PUBLICATION: 317 Sheridan Road, Birmingham, AL 35214. Printed in the United States of America. SUBSCRIPTION INQURIES: admin@hifimagazine.net. ADVERTISING INQURIES: ads@hifimagazine.net SEND FEEDBACK OR COMMENTS: jmatt@hifimagazaine.net HIFIMAGAZINE.NET




5 7 10 13 35 40 48 52 54


Further InsIde FEATurE PrESEnTATiOn: Album reviews: Foo Fighters (Wasting Light), Beyonce (4), Lady Gaga (Born This Way), Britney Spears (Femme Fatale), The Strokes (Angles), Chris Brown (F.A.M.E.), Amos Lee (Mission Bell), iron & Wine (Kiss Each Other Clean), Panic! at the Disco (Vices & Virtues), My Morning Jacket (Circuital), r.E.M. (Collapse into now), Lupe Fiasco (Lasers), My Chemical romance (Danger Days)

PiCK OF THE LiTTEr: Warren Haynes, Coldplay and Kelly Price are just some of the acts that are in heavy rotation on our Picklist.



WhAt’s At hIFIMAGAZIne.net FEaturEs

best summer songs of 2011 Five favorites make our summer round-up. Chasing amy Celebrities and close friends pay tribute to amy Winehouse with twit-butes, remixes and more. some comments were a bit insensitive.


July & august 2011 Listen to new jams from hot acts like hot Chelle rae, Joss stone, Coldplay, onerepublic, Journey, Lil Wayne, Pitbull, Jill scott, Warren haynes, u2 and Joe Jonas.


STAFF Editor-at-LargE and PubLishEr J Matthew Cobb Contributing Editor Juaquin sims PubLiCity ManagEr Juanita Vann Contributing WritErs brent Faulkner, ryan burruss

Cheap trick survives Freak accident at ottawa Festival the rock band lives to see another day as ottawa stage collapses. Witness the raw video.

gin & JuiCE

Kings of Leon showing signs of Meltdown houston show reveals the Followill boys are having a hard time braving the heat. Could there be trouble brewing within the band?

MonstEr MashuP




nick Jonas on Lady gaga’s “Edge of glory” hear the Jonas’ acoustic take on gaga’s hit.





MAn On THE run Sir Paul McCartney (1) pleases fans at Yankee Stadium on his ‘On the run’ tour. Chris Brown (2) does the same in new York for a taping on GMA.

LOVE iS in THE Air Justin Bieber (pictured left) crashes a wedding in Mailbu after hearing one of his teen-pop jams echoing on the speakers. r&B singer Monica once again ties the knot with L.A. Laker hubby Shannon Brown in a public wedding in Los Angeles. They are seen at the BOA Steakhouse during pre-wedding festivities.

ViDA MOOnWALKEr Latin star ricky Martin, dressed in Batmanleather, looks as if he’s cutting a Moonwalk at a concert in Madrid, Spain.







Joe Jonas, looking good as Justin Timberlake’s temporary replacement, shows off his new pop music at a concert for PASTE magazine. Sadly, he was booed and pelted with mini-basketballs by angry fans.

SEX STiLL SELLS A shirtless Trey Songz (1) uses his sex symbol superpowers on the screaming ladies at the BET Music Awards. Kelly rowland (2) joins in the , revealing her need to “pon de floor.”

iT TAKES TWO Justin Timberlake and co-star Mila Kunis strike a pose together while on the red carpet during the opening night of ‘Friends With Benefits’ at Ziegfeld Theater in new York City.

rEADY, SET, GO After a long hiatus, The Cars performs for the first time in decades on Late night with Jimmy Fallon.

CAnDiD CAMErA Adam Lambert turns the cameras on the paparazzi while leaving The Grove in L.A.



FLYInG nuMBers trICKY sItuAtIOn 2011 halfway mark points to increase in record sales

Cheap Trick survives festival stage collapse




MtV turns 30

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony calls it quits on marriage

Baby boomers and Gen X relive MTV’s golden years

HIFIDELITY CLOuDY WEATHEr: Amazon, Apple and Google have all entered the rat race for “cloud-based” services.

Cloud Nine Amazon first to take off in the race of the “cloud-based” services, Google and Apple right behind


he hottest advancement now worth exploring in the realm of digital technology is “cloud-based.” Cloud services are anchored by individual online “media lockers “, which allows mobile devices, multiple computers and digital mp3 player devices to stream their purchased content anytime and anywhere. Online retailer Amazon kicked off their “cloud-based” debut with a special .99 cent download of Lady Gaga’s sophomore album Born This Way. The download included the option to first download it to an individual free “cloud-based” 5GB server. Shortly after Amazon showcased their cloud service, Google jumped into the swing of things. Google Music, now in its beta stages and offered on an invite-only basis, automatically uploads individual iTunes collections, including playlists, to their service and can store up to 20,000 songs for free – twice the size of Amazon’s free space. Both Google and Amazon are making their “cloud” services available for free for a limited

amount of storage, but premium services are available. For example: After using up the storage from the first five free gigs, Amazon.com can store up to 20 GB’s of purchased content at Amazon for $20 a year. n June, Apple, inc., the major digital and product retailer of iTunes and other i-related products, announced their interest in jumping into the race with MobileMe. The Apple-based cloud service will cater to Apple’s pre-existing customers, while Google and Amazon don’t provide iPhone apps that will allow their services to work on Apple products. This presents concerns for Google and Amazon after Apple launches their service since they fail to address how they can penetrate into Apple’s iTunes community. Apple’s version, which will be fully revealed to the public this fall, also carries its own list of concerns since it may not be compatible with Android users. Meanwhile, Apple has a slight advantage over their competitors. instead of uploading previous


purchases to the cloud locker, Apple plans to allow immediate access to songs you own by matching them to copies already stored on Apple servers, which kills downloading time and multiple streaming uploads. usic industry professionals, especially those who fight against piracy and fought against P2P file-sharing services like Limewire, are concerned if the ‘cloud-based” services will increase worries on illegal downloads and transfers. if these deals are to be fully examined, major record labels like EMi, Sony, universal and Warner would have to approve of these services. Despite the alarming mysteries surrounding the legalities and potential illegalities of “cloud-based” options, it isn’t slowing the process down. Technically, the forecast is still looking to be “partly cloudy” as patrons continue to put their purchased media into their online lockers.







Singing to a Different Tune Mid-year rmusic industry reports unveil the first sales percent increase in seven years


usic labels should be hosting their own Mardi gras parade after news broke concerning a 1.6 percent increase in 2011. it’s the first sales increase since 2004, according to nielsen soundscan. the spark was contributed by a major growth in digital album and track sales through May 8, which include a 16.8 percent and 9.6 percent hike respectively. Physical copies in the format of compact discs are experiencing a continual decline. one of the many factors behind the success of digital sales is apple, inc.’s lucrative deal with the beatles to finally disperse their entire catalog on their itunes online store. nieslen reports that the catalog album sales increased 5.4 percent this year, due to the beatles arrival to the digital world. Vinyl, the only physical format showing dramatic sales performances, experienced a hefty 37 percent boost from January to May compared to the numbers of last year. in 2010, vinyl record sales rose 14.2 percent in 2010. once considered a dying format, it now seemsthat the classic LP is far away from being absorbed into forgetfulness as it leaps towards a mainstream resurgence. at the year’s halfway mark, several albums have already reached platinum status. Lady gaga’s born this Way sold over 1.5 million copies in its first week, while adele’s sophomore album, 21, remains the highest-selling album of 2011, selling 2.5 million copies so far. Mumford & sons is close to a million with 982,000 copies sold. Jason aldean and bruno Mars have already surpassed the half-million mark. in digital singles sales, Katy Perry’s “E.t.”(featuring Kanye West) tops them all with over 4,120,000 units sold. adele’s “rolling in the deep” is


girLs run thE Charts: so far in 2011, Lady gaga and adele hold the top spots for album sales. Katy Perry holds the no. 1 spot with the most popular single with “E.t.” right behind her with 4,089,000 copies sold. Most suspect what the real reasons are behind the sales increase, but it isn’t entirely rocket science according to most analysts. “i think there is a confluence of factors, including the shutdown of Limewire; more paths for legitimate digital commerce; a continuation of successful new and catalog product offering great music from adele, Lady gaga, bruno Mars and Mumford & sons and Katy Perry, among others,” Jim donio, president of the national association of recording Merchandisers, says. numbers coming in from this year’s record store day (april 16) seemed to point to promising days ahead as its figures gave the retail holiday its highest numbers since it was first initiated in 2008. at independent record stores, album sales increased over 39 percent versus what they sold the previous week. that’s an increase of 180,000 units and 12.7 percent higher than the numbers posted in 2010. “strong releases and aggressive promotions by the labels and retailers are among the many contributing factors to the strength we’re seeing in the music industry,” said sVP/nielsen Company analyst dave bakula. “overall, the data reflects a continuing strong demand by music consumers.

the sales of albums in the u.s. has been dropping drastically since 2004, but 2011’s midyear reports may be ushering in some very promising good news. red data reveals yearly sales. blue data reveals mid-year sales.





















Buried Alive Stage at Ottawa Bluesfest collapses and Cheap Trick lives to tell the story surViVaL oF thE FittEst: rock band Cheap trick managed to crawl out of a collapsed festival stage alive - with very little scars. “i can’t believe we’re alive,” says Cheap trick’s manager.


escribing what happened at the ottawa bluesfest in ontario, Canada is nothing short of a miracle. out of nowhere, gusts of wind, estimated somewhere between 96 and 100 miles per hour, blew at the stage while Cheap trick performed their live set. “it just blew everything back, cymbals are flying and everything. and we’re just like ‘get off the stage!’ and then i heard the rivets in the truss just starting to pop,” said the band’s manager dave Frey. What happened next was almost unexplainable. the stage gave in to the forces of nature and collapsed. amateur video taken from a youtube user named gastorch997 surfaced on media websites and news broadcasts, revealing what looked like an earthquake as the stage succumbed at rapid speed. “it was like the titanic or something, and it just started coming down, the roof fell,” he recalls. amazingly, the band survived, with minor scrapes and bruises. a few fans were reported to be injured and the band’s truck driver did sustain an injury to his abdomen and a cracked femur. all of Cheap trick’s equipment and instruments were totally destroyed. still the band is grateful to be alive. “We are so thankful,” dave Frey adds. “it’s so unbelievable that with everything that happened, with the crowd, tents flying away and debris flying.” reports quickly leaked out that this wasn’t the first time the stage company behind the ottawa bluesfest has been a victim of this type of catastrophe. a similar incident happened in June 30, just two years ago, where the roof of an outdoor stage buckled and fell at Quebec City’s grand rire comedy festival after high winds and heavy rains chipped away at the stage’s structure. Luckily, no one was injured, but investigators are once again analyzing groupe berger’s staging company, wondering if they are taking all precautions with their setups. berger responded to the stage collapse at the ottawa festival. “i don’t believe it,” he said. the high-tech stage built by berger’s company was estimated to be worth $1.8 million. “it’s not something that’s been done on the corner of a table. there’s hundreds of thousands spent on engineering for those type of structures.” all of berger’s setups are inspected and approved by six licensed engineers before they are erected for use and are normally inspected daily by his technicians. it is still unclear if the bluesfest stage received scrutiny from local government. Meanwhile, Frey was able to find some humor in the midst of the chaos. “We’re trying to get gear set up for our show tomorrow [July 19] in buffalo,” he said. “do you know where we can rent a five-neck guitar?”

THIS JUST IN Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Files for divorce Latin music royalty is now mourning over the husband-wife split of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. in a joint statement revealed at People.com, the two admitted to irreconcibale indifferences. “We have decided to end our marriage. This was a very difficult decision,” it reads. ”it is a painful time for all involved, and we appreciate the respect of our privacy at this time.” Lopez and Anthony married in June 2004 in their Beverly Hills home and have two children together. if finalized, this would be Lopez’s third divorce and the second divorce for Anthony.

duran duran Cancels rest of summer tour Brit nu wave band Duran Duran announced that they must reschedule the rest of their European summer tour due to growing concerns pertaining to Simon Le Bon’s vocal chords. injuries occurred during an early May show in Cannes, causing him to temporarily lose the top portion of his range. Doctors believe Le Bon’s will recover completely with continued physiotherapy and with treatment, but cannot estimate when he will be able to return. This marks the second time in their entire career that they’ve had to cancel shows due to medical problems. Band members are devastated over the news, but will use the time off rehearsing and working in the studio on new material. Tickets holders are being told to hold on to their tickets for rescheduled shows.

Mathew Knowles Files Lawsuit Against Beyonce’s Camp After being relinquished earlier this year from his managerial duties over his daughter Beyoncé Knowles, Mathew Knowles is fighting back after filing papers in a Texas court in July alleging that members in Beyoncé’s camp, particularly individuals at Columbia records, Live nation Entertainment and her husband Jay-Z’s roc nation, have made “negative comments about me.” in an interview with The Associated Press, Knowles opened up to them about the charges against his daughter. “We absolutely have not taken any money from Beyoncé, and all dollars will be accounted for.” He also stated that his relationship with his daughter at the time is “extremely amicable.”

OUTSTANDING ITEMS JuLY 26 Joss Stone LP1 Kelly Rowland Here I Am

AuGuST 2 Keb Mo’ The Reflection

Kings of Queens

Highly-anticipated collaborative disc brings Kanye and Jay-Z together for no-hold barred rap fest


p to the last minute, Shawn Carter (aka |Jay-Z) is working on his highly-anticipated collaboration project with Kanye West. The two have teamed up on a number of occasions (“izzo (H.O.VA.)” “never Let Me Down,” “Monster”), but Watch the Throne will be the first time the rap superstars will unite together for a full-length collection. Jay-Z premiered the album before a relatively small crowd of friends, journalists and casual fans in his Mercer Hotel suite in Manhattan’s Soho district. With Kanye West absent from the exclusive listening party, questions started to swarm throughout the room about Jay-Z rap partner. Was he difficult to work with? Jay-Z spoke of good favor of his absent tag team partner as he conjured up a story concerning their friendship. in 2009, Jay-Z told West that he was going to release “run This Town,” a track that Kanye produced off of Blueprint 3. Kanye disagreed, opting instead for “Empire State of Mind” as a more suitable choice. But Jay-Z is aware that Kanye can be a little hard to deal with. “He’s dif-




Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch the Throne (Roc-a-fella/G.O.O.D.) Release Date: August 8

ficult to work with for specific, well-intentioned reasons,” Carter suggested. And finally the crowd hears for the first time the tracks from the unofficial track list. Jay-Z did explain that the song titles were subject to change as well as the final check list as the release date nears. “Lift Off,” the proposed first single from the album, features Beyoncé on the vamp. Pop sensation Bruno Mars is also on deck. As Bon iver unleashes his debut disc this year, Kanye West brings on Odd Future (OFWGKTA) singer Frank Ocean to handle some of the vocals on the songs’ hooks. Other album “highlights” include “Otis” (a song that samples Otis reddings’s “Try a Little Ten-

AuGuST 9 Dave Burnham One Day

AuGuST 16 Sly Stone I’m Back! Family & Friends

AuGuST 29 derness”), an opulent “Living So italian” (which samples popera tenor Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye”) and Jay-Z’s personal favorite, “no Church.” Missing in the bunch of songs was “H.A.M,” the first leaked single from their earlier sessions. The loud ego-enforcing anthem received major criticism, but even Jay-Z wasn’t all that in love with the song when he played it at home. “i don’t want to hear all those voices screaming at me in the house,” the Blueprint rapper joked. Only ten tracks were played at the cozy event. But that doesn’t mean that’s all the twosome has up their sleeves. There’s rumors already circulating of a Jay-Z/Kanye sequel.

Lil Wayne Tha Carter IV David Guetta Nothing But the Beat

AuGuST 30 Lenny Kravitz Black and White America Red Hot Chili Peppers I’m With You Jake Owen Barefoot Blue Jean Night

SEPTEMBEr 6 Gavin DeGraw Sweeter Joe Jonas Fastlife

SEPTEMBEr 13 Blondie Panic Of Girls Lady Antebellum Own The Night

SEPTEMBEr 20 Mary J. Blige My Life Too, The Journey Continues Tori Amos Night Of Hunters

Nirvana Never mind (2-Disc)Deluxe Edition)

SEPTEMBEr 27 Bjork Biophilia

BiG P.i.M.P.i.n: The masses are mostly curious to see who will win in a rap duel.

J. Cole Cole World: The Sideline Story Wilco The Whole Love



IN WORDS AND PICTURES HYPE MAn: With no extra entourage or major gimmicks in sight, Lil Wayne sails through a litany of hip-hop hits at Bonnaroo’s Which Stage on opening night.


fter fifteen years of hot fun in the summertime, bonnaroo has emerged as one of the nation’s popular destinations for worldclass music and entertainment. the annual music festival, held on the farm lands of Manchester, tennessee during the early part of June, attracts legions of music lovers to what sPin magazine has called the “best music festival of the summer.” the 2011 line-up, containing some of the hottest acts pop and rock, proved to be what the festival needed in order to celebrate its 15th birthday. of course trying to create a line-up that would surpass the greatness of last year proved to be a very daunting task, but organizers managed to pull enough strings to make great things happen. they announced a reunion with recent rock & roll hall of Fame inductee dr. John and the original Meters with legendary jazz man allen toussaint performing music from the entire album that inspired the festival’s name (desitively bonnaroo). they added ‘60’s supergroup buffalo springfield to the line-up and managed to bring on additional legends including recent grammy award recipient

Mavis staples, rockabilly star Wanda Jackson, funk icon bootsy Collins, Loretta Lynn and robert Plant along with his americana band, the band of Joy. but just as important as reaching for acts with historic relevance, bonnaroo reached out for artists capable of attracting major crowds. and their strategy surrounded the talk of the town in 2010 – from grammy nominees to the year’s best-sellers and hottest newcomers. With 2010 being the year hip-hop emerged as the most prolific in record sales, thanks to Eminem’s recovery and drake’s prolific album debut thank Me Later, bonnaroo planned ahead to put rap on the big stage. Eminem, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa were just some of the hip-hop ambassadors invited to the tn festival. For those eager to think the world-class festival made a mistake in booking hip-hop stars as headliners, especially those who remember Kanye West’s tardy show in 2009, they quickly learned that rap needs the power of redemption. Kanye redeemed himself at Coachella earlier this year, after delivering a one-man show performance of a lifetime. on Friday night of bonnaroo, Lil Wayne did the

same thing. Without any guest appearances from his Cash Money possee’, or a nicki Minaj cameo or drake, Lil Wayne took the stage in front of a crowd estimated at 80,000. but hip-hop didn’t upstage the other genres entirely. Legendary rock supergroup buffalo springfield reunited for a very magical moment and found themselves in awe. neil young echoed to the crowd, “this is the biggest give we’ve ever done,” he said. “this is about ten times as many people as we’ve ever seen as a group before.” after reuniting for the first time in october last year after disbanding in 1968, the group – led by young, stephen stills and richie Furay – relived old times, kicking out their ‘60’s catalog with revived energies. after opening their set with “on the Way home,” the group waltzed through “i am a Child,” “Kind Woman” and a super-stretched, funky interpretation of “bluebird.” still riding high on their Coachella performance and the critically-acclaimed 2010 album (the suburbs), arcade Fire entered the fields of bonnaroo with the intention to just have fun. “We are very fucking happy to finally be here,” Win butler, the group’s frontman, pro-


u 1

u u 2 3

u 4

and thE bands PLayEd on: (1) she & him turn up the sunshine. (2) the dog days of summer are no match against Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine). (3) arcade Fire rip through their grammy-winning material. (4) My Morning Jacket’s yim yames showing off his long golden brown hair.




claimed during the opening minutes of their set. they are unapologetic indie rockers, but the eight of them combined play with arena-rock madness, showcasing their girth with their intimidating orchestra-like setup on their 90-minute set. songs like “ready to start,” “Month of May” and “Keep the Car running” amped the crowd, while clips from their spike Jonze short film appeared on the big screens adjacent to both sides of the stage. butler felt at home, even in the unbearable heat. “Me and my brother grew up in eastern texas, so it’s nice to feel proper humidity for once,” he said, while whipping his brow loaded with sweat. “trust me, it’s nice. it’s really cold where i live [Montreal].” the strokes brought their nyC garage rock to bonnaroo on sunday night, and fans waited for hours to get a glimpse of their reborn heroes. they got their chance as the yellow sunset started to blaze the sky. With a new disc (angles) in their clutches, the band seemed grateful, even lead singer Julian Casbalancas – normally sarcastic and appearing detached from the environment – smiled at the crowd often. “is this it” opened up their set, leading to some of the band’s enduring rock classics, ripping through “hard to Explain” and “reptilia.” they also showcased some of their strongest sides from their new LP, including “gratisfaction,” “taken for a Fool” and “under Cover of darkness.” Julian had the ‘80’s gold-platted sunglasses ready to combat the hot sun, but he fought a good fight with the heat wearing a leather jacket and black jean. the rest of the band refused to fry like bacon, dressed in comfortable white tees and jeans. “i don’t wear shorts. unless i’m running,” albert hammond, Jr., the band’s guitarist, told Myspace before their tennessee gig. With temperatures reaching the high 90’s, hammond didn’t seem worried one bit. “i wouldn’t go on stage in shorts. We’ve played much hotter than that.” after nem’s set, scissor sisters hit the stage. it was a totally different

experience from the hip-hop machismo offered by the rap star, but one that proved perfect for those hungry for a heavy dose of new york’s glam-rock-meets-disco nightlife. dancing and singing to songs off their latest album, night Work, including the infectious “any Which Way.” the stage was lit with mesmerizing pyrotechnics, loads of glitter and fireballs blazing from the stage’s sides. it was likened to the Flaming Lips and Ziggy stardust on steroids. sweedish pop/dance singer robyn celebrated her 32nd birthday at bonnaroo. her performance was a brilliant showcase of what her majestic three-piece body talk series is able to duplicate in a live setting. she fistpumped her arms with lightning execution on “don’t Fucking tell Me What to do,” and had no problem “dancing on her own.” but the enthusiastic crowd didn’t let her work alone. With robyn dancing the after[CONTINUED ON PG. 51] noon away

{ color by numbers } 10

years since its inception


goes to the local economy


number of acts at Bonnaroo 2002


number of acts at Bonnaroo 2011


times Galactic performed at Bonnaroo


estimated attendance

hot or cold reality-tv


here isn’t much substance on television these days. All the bigbudget programs, soap operas and big dramas have been replaced with quickly-assembled, unscripted “reality-tV” programs. some of them are good…some of them not-so good. It’s time to pull out our thermo-meter and see which shows are hot and which ones are cold. One way or another, these shows are going to either burn you or leave a bad case of freezer burn.

sO YOu thInK YOu CAn dAnCe (FOX) Lately the talent on interactive reality shows have been quite disappointing, but this year’s talent on STYCD is fierce. The judges are already calling the ladies “beasts.” And to prove how crazy the finalists are this season, the judges have already used their precious save option in the early portion of the competition. On SYTYCD, that means four contestants will have to go home the week after. Talkin’ about high-drama.

COPs (FOX) The boys in blue are still making the pursuit of justice a part of our Saturday afternoons. Already in its 23rd season and probably the longest running show out there, COPS is still adding trouble to the bad boys’ schedule. And if you missed Saturdays two thirty-minute episodes, no need to panic. it’s probably in syndication and airing five times a day on some local television station or on some reality-based cable network.

the VOICe (nBC)

A twist on the classic idol model. instead of all the attention going to hometown unknowns fighting for their shot of being a superstar, the focus shifts towards four relevant pop stars, duking it out for the bragging rights to say ‘i discovered somebody who’s better than me.’

unsunG (tV1)

unsung plays like VH1 Behind the Music but with Kleenex. it’s sad to see former r&B heroes without their glow. Some are bouncing back from drugs (Miki Howard, Alexander O’ neal) and some are just out of steam (Spinners, Big Daddy Kane), but mostly all of the stars are worthy of the spotlight. We only wish some of the show’s choices were a bit more open than others in telling the truth.


Toni Braxton is always a pleasant tease on the eyes, but the Braxtons stand in need of seirious counseling. This close-up on Toni’s un-famous sisters, still struggling to find their own place in the spotlight and still hoping to put out a family album, unveils the powerful dynamics within their family structure. And that Tamar Braxton! Her contribution to pop culture is unquestionable. Ahotmess.org. it’s still entertaining.

hLn’s COVerAGe On the tOt-MOM (hLn) HLn’s consistent coverage of the Casey Anthony trial makes FOX news’ daily hash against Barack Obama look like child’s play. From the 9-5 live coverage to the evening’s opinion unloads on nancy Grace, issues, Joy Behar, Dr. Drew and Showbiz Tonight, HLn has become the unofficial soap opera channel.

Gene sIMMOns’ FAMILY JeWeLs (A&e) Outside the funky Armageddon get-up, Gene Simmons is a dedicated businessman, loving father and has a twenty-five year old partnership with ‘80’s Playboy bunny and longtime live-in girlfriend Shannon Tweed. So many wonder when Simmons will pop the question on the show. Looking at the tensions between the two of them…it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.

ICe LOVes COCO (e!)

Away from his stint on Law & Order: Special Victims unit, ice T is a man that’s growing up. Coco Austin, his wife, on the other hand, doesn’t know the meaning of growing up. She makes Paris Hilton look like she graduated magnum cum laude. Literally.

sInGLe LAdIes (Vh1) This urban-targeted TV series is not supposed to be a reality-TV program, but three super-sexy single ladies – played by Stacy Dash, Lisa-raye McCoy and Charity Shea – roaming through Atlanta’s nightlife sounds ironically similar to their own lives. By the way, the acting is just as lamenting as its Sex and the City wannabe storylines. Topping off the craziness, Living Single actress Queen Latifah is producing the show. Wonder if these 40-year olds are single for a reason.

sInBAd: It’s Just FAMILY (tV1) The 80’s star seems to have lost his comedic skills somewhere between hosting Showtime at the Apollo and A Different World. retitle this show “Sinbad: it’s Just Bad.”

KhLOe & LAMAr (e!)

There’s so many things wrong about this spin-off of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Lamar Odom, still recovering from an embarrassing sweep by the Dallas Mavs in the 2011 nBA Playoffs, plays with Khloe’s brother (rob) more than he does with his own wife. And when he does play with the wife, their chemistry can be compared to fiveyear olders playing with alpha blocks. Can somebody shout “game over” at this show?


Pointers still jumping for their love ith over forty years of experience under their belt, The Pointer Sisters are showing no sign of putting on the breaks on their career. And they very well shouldn’t. After dominating the R&B and pop charts with their ambitious slips into country, blues, funk, dance-pop and rock and experiencing a successful overseas revival in Europe a few years back, the three-time Grammyaward winning trio are still touring the world with their strong catalog of songs. A stop at Birmingham, Ala.’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of University of Alabama in Birmingham, allowed the girls to try their Top 40 arsenal on the Southern town. The affair was a bit sparkly and gaddy, appealing to the elite sponsors and less-thanrhythmic concertgoers. For the first half pretty much, the Pointers were the only things moving in the almostpacked, 1000-seat concert hall. As usual, they opened up their set using Vegas theatrics, singing backstage to the gospel opening of Allen Toussaint-penned “Happiness.” When they finally appeared on stage revealing red party dresses and bling accessories, the pulse of the song’s rhythm mutated into a funk-throttled jam. “Automatic,” a revisit to Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” a spunky five-minute synth-pop rendering of “Dare Me” and a medley containing “Betcha Got a Chick on the Side” and their first big hit, “Yes We Can Can” ensued. Before entering a break for wardrobe change, the Pointers were able to slow things down with a few midtempos ballads, particularly with


POInter sIsters ALYS STEPHENS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER Birmingham, Alabama Friday, April 1, 2011


their take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” and the Southern-tuned country-oriented gems of “Fairytale” and “Slow Hand.” The audience approved the downhome Southern charm of the songs and blushed back at the trio as if they were in an intimate cabaret room.

Trimmed with all the works, the ladies returned for their uptempo dance finale, rushing through an unstoppable tsunami of “Jump (For My Love),” “Neutron Dance” and “I’m So Excited.” By the time the girls leapt back into their Sunday morning gusto, with Ruth belting “I’m so happy doin’ the neutron dance,” the crowd had already rose to their feet, turning the gala event into a sanctified version of Studio 54. Ruth’s granddaughter, Sadako Johnson, 27, who fills in the gap for the late June Pointer who passed away in 2006 from cancer, brought an abundance of youthful energy to the set, almost sticking out from her veteran ensemble, but her beauty along with in-between solos made her a perfect fit on stage. Although a tad bit short and missing some of their other revered hits, the girls stayed “excited” throughout their entire seventy-minute show. Ruth promised the crowd, “We’ve gotta come back to Alabama. We will be back.” It proved to be the perfect salve for those willing to wait for round two. BY J MATTHEW COBB

SLOW HAnD: Anita (l), ruth (m) and Sadoka Johnson (r) prove they have the easy touch while working their magical three-part harmony.






I Miss My mtv On its thirtieth anniversary, MTV doesn’t even show up for its own party c By J Matthew Cobb

ONE SMALL LEAP FOR MTV as it displays its iconic logo and moon landing images (left) on the air; “The Buggles “Video Killed The Radio Star” (right) earns the distinction of being the first video aired on the new music-based channel.

iF you turn on MtV today and compared its programming to the early years, you would easily notice the differences. all the VJs are long gone, the music videos are slimmed down to just about one hour of play per day and teen-driven music-less reality-tV consumes every corner of its day-to-day operations. it isn’t the MtV that baby boomers and gen X grew up on, and it probably will never return. . When MtV hit the air on august 1, 1981 at 12:01 a.m., it used the footage taken from the lift-off of space shuttle Columbia and apollo 11’s moon landing as its opening snapshots. the clever move of using public domain video of american history to establish MtV’s significance proved to be a smart move for MtV’s early years. and just as monumental as the announcer declaring “ladies and gentlemen, rock ‘n roll,” so was MtV’s first music video: the buggles “Video Killed the radio star.” it proved to be the perfect prophecy for the future of music and just as immaculate for the world of rock ‘n roll. two years after MtV survived its test period, music companies were quick to pump out promotional videos of their rosters. that’s because MtV proved substantially impacting on the careers of Men at Work, human League, Culture Club, duran duran, the Police and bow Wow Wow, groups that were almost ignored by american radio in their beginnings. Markets where MtV was being broadcasted also earned significant sales for the artists. this only fueled the public’s interest, creating an explosion for


MtV goes live. the buggles “Video Killed the radio star” and Pat benetar’s “you better run” are the first videos aired. top 40 was the agenda of its early format.

c AUGUST 1981

THE ORIGINAL FAB 5 - MTV’s original VJs (pictured clockwise) Mark Goodman, J.J. Jackson, Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter and Nina Blackwood pose together during an early promotional snapshot.

demand in other markets. although some critics became vocal over the perception of the music video devaluing the quality of music, MtV pushed through its setbacks. it finally broke through its stigma of catering to young whites when music videos from Michael Jackson’s thriller saga opened up the gateway for heavy rotation of non-white acts. dire straits’ 1985 hit “Money For nothing” helped showcase the flexing of MtV’s muscles when the song’s lyrics cried out, “i want my MtV.” by the mid-80’s, artists like tina turner, adam ant, billy idol, Phil Collins and simon Lebon were highlighting their favorite music videos on-air as guest VJs. the music world had finally acknowledged MtV to be the mighty influence on pop culture that it was. the nineties kept some of the remnants of its first decade in place. it continued to air music videos, specialized in music countdowns like total request Live and focused on musicrelated programming (MtV Live, say What?). but the VJ’s of the more modern era had become as glamorous as soap stars, even opening new windows of opportunity in hollywood. VJ’s like bill bellamy, Pauly shore, Ed Lover, Jenny McCarthy and Carson daly saw their careers explode into an even higher stratosphere. hip-hop, still in its glowing infancy, emerged as a powerful voice on MtV with yo! MtV raps and blasted hip-hop further into the hearts of the pop conscious. in the year of 2011, many of the VJs that defined MtV as the quintessential music network

Michael Jackson’s “thriller” makes its debut.

the first “MtV Video Music awards” launches. Madonna crawls on stage during performance of “Like a Virgin.” the Cars takes home the first spaceman statuette for “you Might think.”

over 17 hours of Live aid airs, including performances from a reunited Led Zeppelin, duran duran, Queen, tom Petty, duran duran and Eric Clapton.



c JULY 1985

in its golden years are still here. surprisingly, the remaining “Fab 5” including Mark goodman, nina blackwood, Martha Quinn and alan hunter host programs on sirius satellite radio (J.J. Jackson passed away of a heart attack in 2004). For those who don’t know already: sirius, a pay-for-service alternative to basic radio, is just one of the champions in the radio universe. Who would have thought that after all these years…after video killed the radio star that the video stars would be resuscitating the radio. today, MtV is owned by parent company Viacom, who currently owns about every music-related network on cable including Vh1, CMt and bEt. MtV execs know that today’s MtV is a totally different network from what it originally was. “the people who watch it today, they don't refer to MtV as music television,” said MtV’s head of marketing tina Exarhos. “they don't have the same emotional connection that, say, the people who are writing about [the logo change] do.” stephen K. Friedman, president of MtV, also chimed in on the conversation. “our audience is not going to wait very long to see a video; they are going to go online. it’s just not in the realm of their reality.” on its thirtieth anniversary, not one birthday salute was squeezed into the realitytV dominance like Jersey shore. instead, the birthday party was hosted on Vh1, where hourlong clips of programming focused on MtV’s glorious nostalgia. and the afterparty was being held at, of all places, at youtube.

MoonWalking Here’s some small steps you may want to reflect on when thinking of MTV’s history. Anything after 1993 isn’t all that important. Really.

yo! MtV raps kicks off. Fab 5 Freddy hosts.

c AUGUST 1988

one small leap into reality-tV. “the real World” airs, showcasing the lives of seven strangers living in a new york pad.

shuddup, butt-munch! Mike Judge’s “beavis and butt-head” enters the picture.

c MAY 1992

c MARCH 1993


Michael Dunn embraces his mother Patricia Dunn as they mourn the loss of their house in Cordova, Alabama.

BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND The South tries to find peace after the storm after April tornadoes deliver hard blow by J Matthew Cobb


ome of the worst natural disasters come with very little warning, leaving very little preparation for safety precautions. What appeared to be the wrath of god occurred on

april 27, 2011, with a barrage of tornadoes and straight-line winds up to 100 mph rushing

through most of the southern terrain like an “unstoppable freight train.” that is how most surfreight trains ripping through their homeland and destroying almost everything in its path. With the national Weather Center on patrol and a host of meteorologists working tirelessly around the clock to warn citizens throughout Mississippi, alabama, tennessee and georgia, they tried to postpone the inevitable, but in the end it seemed there was very little they could do.





vivors describe much of the ferocious activity that encompassed april’s fury; the sounds of


uscaloosa, alabama – home to “I thought, ‘Well, we could 2009’s nCaa Football Champions and where Paul “bear” bryant raise $100,000 [from a local led the university of alabama through concert], but these people similar victories - was left devastated as a need billions. $100,000 reported one-and a half mile tornado cut a swath of destruction through the holt wouldn’t even take care of and alberta City communities, plummetthese people right here,” ing popular main drags like McFarland boulevard and university avenue. alHank Williams, Jr. said, though the university of alabama was left while pointing towards the untouched to the whirlwind beast, it left tornado-ravaged behind a few scars. three ua students and a college student of nearby stillman ColHolt community. lege, was found dead. as the american red Cross finalized their final analyses of the tragedies that unfolded on april 27, they were met with some very alarming news. in tuscaloosa alone, the mile-wide tornado had claimed 15 lives and had injured over 100 tuscaloosa residents. “i had been watching the news and i seen it coming,” Pearline hinton told the tuscaloosa bureau. “i told my son to ‘Come on, let’s get in the bathroom.’ We got in there and everything just started crashing and breaking, chairs and everything were flying. i mean tV’s and cars and everything.” as hinton surveyed the storm’s damage outside her apartment complex lonBA star Dwight cated on 10th avenue, she’s left puzHoward assists in zled. “i’m trying to call my siblings,” home rebuilding she said. “ain’t nobody picking up. i efforts in Pratt ain’t got nowhere to go.” City community Kendra Coleman of Pratt City had almost the same response. the birmsoutheast, with 70 percent of the losses in ingham resident told the Los angeles alabama,” state department of insurance times that FEMa was doling out appoint- Chief of staff ragan ingram. “it could be ments to hand out relief but immediate the costliest natural disaster in state hishelp was moving at snail-like speed. “i tory,” he said. the information comes said, ‘that’s fine, but what am i supposed from an estimate submitted by risk Manto do until then? i need beds. i need agement solutions (rMs), an internawater.’ i just want to cry, because i have no tional catastrophe modeling company. idea where home is anymore.” Like Pauline hinton and Kendra Colevisit from President barack man, april 27 left thousands of alabama’s obama brought international atvictims wondering where to go. so far, tention to the deeply devastated FEMa approved $13.6 million in grants southern region and also provoked highand loans to help build, fix and support profile community servants like rev. Jesse Jackson, gov. robert bentley, Congresshousing projects. only $3 million from woman terri sewell (d) and senator Jeff that purse will be allocated to alabama, sessions (r) to visit hard-hit areas. according to reports coming from the For Lance bass, former singer for popubirmingham news. lar boyband n*synC, it was his duty to “insured losses from late april tornavolunteer his services to help ailing comdoes could add up to $6 billion in the


munities struggling to bounce back. after a university of alabama student and fan appealed to the star to visit the area on twitter, bass responded to the call and swiftly made his way to tuscaloosa, ala. and Pratt City, a neighboring suburb located in West birmingham that was completely severed from the april 27 storm. “i have a voice, i have hands,” bass said. “i thought, let me go down there and see what i can do. i want to be here because it hits close to home. i try to go where i’m needed.” Country legend hank Williams, Jr., a native of Mississippi and raised in the tornado-ravaged towns of Cullman, ala. and tuscaloosa, ala., also visited hardhit areas to raise awareness and to help kick off his charity telethon airing on CMt. “i’ve never seen anything like this,” he said, while visiting the town of holt. “nothing can prepare you for this. Pictures don’t tell it…this is like a clear-cut by nature.” he didn’t have too many kind words for the media, who found their fixations on the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton rather than the heartbreak of america’s south, [Quote]. but Williams, purely emotional from the painful images of the aftermath, pointed out that much relief was coming. “i can tell you that my heart is with you. My family’s laid to rest in this state, as i will be,” he said. “i know why i’m here. help is on the way.” the 90-minute telethon, which was aired on CMt and simulcast to alabama Public television and on Cnn, was taped at nashville’s grand ole opry. the decision to have it there instead of hosting a live concert in tuscaloosa or birmingham was deemed to be more effective, according to Williams. “i thought, ‘Well, we could raise $100,000 [from a local concert], but these people need billions. $100,000 wouldn’t even take care of these people right here,” hank Williams, Jr. said, while pointing towards the tornado-ravaged holt community. Companies like Comcast and Coty, inc. have stepped up to donate $650,000 in total to tornado relief. regions bank announced that they have donated $1 million to charity. and the giving keeps on giving: brad Paisley is giving his artist royalties from the digital sale portions of his single, “old alabama” to the red Cross. taylor swift,







while on her speak now tour, sold over 13,000 tickets to her tour dress rehearsal and announced she will donate all the proceeds to tornado relief. actor Charlie sheen, who visited the tuscaloosa area, organized torpedosagainsttornados.com, a donation website hoping to raise dollars from the celeb community to help victims from the april storms. Musiq soulchild stopped in birmingham, ala. at the tiny, intimate Vernanda lounge to perform new music off of his new album, Musiqinthemagiq, and announced earlier that day on WbhK-98.7 that proceeds from the ten-dollar cover charge would be donated to tornado relief. it was a small gesture, but one that motivated the music industry to activate their powers to do the same. Music benefits are still popping up by the dozens. the biggest of them all, bama rising, organized by aEg Live, red Mountain Entertainment and possibly an off-shoot of hank Williams, Jr.’s charity event, took off June 14 at birmingham’s bJCC arena in front of a crowd of 13,000 country lovers. scheduled performers included sheryl Crow, alabama, brad Paisley, Martina Mcbride, darius rucker, dierks bentley, rodney atkins and sara Evans. american idol winner taylor hicks and idol finalist bo bice, both natives of alabama, also performed for the benefit concert. other alabama natives including the blind boys of alabama and the Commodores showed up for the one-night affair, adding additional spark and extravagance to the magical moment. Proceeds from the allstar event, now exceeding $2 million, will directly go to the bama rising Fund for statewide tornado recovery. While on the middle of pumping out her performances during her Loud tour, pop goddess rihanna leaps unto her twitter account to post a quick announcement. she tweets: “i just added an aLabaMa tour datE to Loud tour…Monday, July 11th!!! this Concert Will benefit tornado relief Efforts.” the newly-added concert date, titled “From tragedy to triumph,” will precede her stop in atlanta at Chastain Park. Fans in alabama are a bit shocked and ecstatic knowing rihanna is showing compassion to the hard-hit area. immediately after the news broke, commenters sounded off at the birmingham news’ al.com website. some mocked their home-



3 2

5 town, while some celebrated the light at the end of the tunnel. 5pointJoe was just one of the commenters that expressed open gratitude. “i think her coming to birmingham would create a breath of emotions, concerns and joys,” he says. “i think she will be touched and moved by the devastation that she is coming to help mend. thanks rihanna, you are beautiful!” tickets prices sold for $15 to $49, a deal compared to Loud’s ticket costs in major metro cities.


ook at a default alabama license plate and you’ll see the patriotic colors of red, white and blue surrounding the mini-slogan of “stars Fell on alabama,” referencing a 1934 jazz classic sung by a parade of stars including dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis armstrong, Mel torme, doris day, Frank sinatra and even Jimmy buffett. Without a doubt on april 27, 2011, tornadoes fell on the great state, but it looked as if the stars weren’t too far behind.





GOOGOO FOR GAGA the makings of aN INTERNATIONAL pop star monster & how the rest of the music industry responds


ot since Madonna has a woman expressed herself as a multi-talented goddess willing to dominate every area of pop culture except Lady Gaga. In the beginning of her career, Gaga expressed herself as a musician with sparkle, bearing the dance-pop pizzazz of Madonna and the genius of Elton John, but was quickly heralded as a futuristic “dancing queen” due to her heavy rotation of flashy up-tempo disco beats. Gaga reigns far superior amongst her peers now that her fingerprints have been left on almost every corner of pop culture; fashion, politics, cinematography, music and even technology (Polaroid hired her in late 2010 as a creative director for her new camera brand and soonto-be commercially available products).


er career exploded overnight with “Just Dance” in 2008. Three years later, Gaga has gone from Billboard’s Best New Artist to Billboard’s top artist of the year honors while resting on the shoulders of four Hot 100 hit singles at the tail end of 2000. In just four years, the Gaga brand has mushroomed from being a much more talented clone of Britney Spears to a dynamic kingdom with influence. Even with her brand expanding outside the conventions of pop music, still she’s considered by critics and the press for being a misfit, even called a rebel, in her otherworldly galaxy layered with unorthodox gen-

gender-bending stage shows, “free yourself” hippy quotes (“Don’t be a drag/Just be a queen”) and radically-inflamed liberalism. Just as her competition tries to write off the inflated sensationalism of Gaga, they are just as hungry for her success, possibly envious of how fast she inherited her claim to fame. Today, Lady Gaga stands out as the ultimate Fame Monster, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. And her baby monsters, encompassing 38 million Facebook friends, a strong PropaGaga fan club, Twitter support accounts and over 1 billion YouTube clicks, are procreating in numbers. She’s more than an American product. She’s a global dynasty and her rise to fame continues. Everyone’s looking closely at the textbooks of Gaga’s quest to fame, trying to learn her secrets of success. JuNE 11, 2011


uring a gay rights rally at Europride, held in the Circus Maximus arena in Rome, Italy, Stefani Germanotta, dressed in a Versace dress and green wig, clinched a peaceful, but strong fist to the millions in agreement with her. The on-lookers, mostly made up of Italians, were more than excited to know that Gaga, using her superpowers of influence and international prominence, would join them in concert to speak against the policies of the Roman Catholic church and Silvio Berlusconi’s “backward” government over samesex rights. (In 2010, the prime minister, known as an unapologetic gay-basher, dismissed a sex scandal and used a homophobic comment in response to it, saying “”It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay.” For Italy - a crowded nation of Catholics - to invite Gaga to their annual pride festival originally seemed like a game of Russian roulette, especially after her music video for “Judas” left some Catholics stunned over her religion-meetsart interpretations and boisterous visuals of Mary Magdalene. But like a champion for civil rights, almost with the timbre of a Coretta Scott King, Gaga – born an Italian and raised Catholic – promoted love, rather than hostility. “Let us be revolutionaries of love and use our very strong human powers to save lives and encourage unity around the world,” she declared. “Sadly the truth is that homophobia and bullying are alive and real,” she added. “We’re all from the same DNA.

We were just born this way.” After a speech that avoided any direct protests at the Vatican or any particular fabric of organized religion, the pop star went into her self-affirming hit single “Born This Way” and left her gay fans – even moderate Christians – amazed. The twenty-five year old entertainer, who is known to be unpredictable and controversial during performances and in her past statements, executed what the unimaginable. Event protesters expected a furious blast at religion or some fireball of uprising to be crusaded at the Pride event. What they got instead was a quasi-narrative akin to Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.” Lately, Gaga has been on a warpath trying to fight teen bullying. It’s an issue close to her heart. With the rise of teen suicides invading headlines, It Gets Better campaigns have been launched to counterattack the problem. She’s been more vocal about the problem, since she’s opened up about her own experiences, “I used to be called a slut, be called this, be called that. I didn’t even want to go to school sometimes,” she tells Rolling Stone. With the abundance of good will spilling out of the superstar’s movement, you would think that Born This Way would’ve been added to the back pages of the New Testament. You would have to excuse one-half of the album, which preaches and gloats with modern-day secularism and goth-like rebellion, playing with Gaga’s badgirl persona like a tricked-out Sasha Fierce. She sings of betrayal, anger and creepy bio-lab experiments on “Bloody Mary” (“We are not just art for Michelangelo to carve/He can't rewrite the argo of my furied heart”) and prefers to mate with the bad asses of the world (“I’m just a holy fool, oh baby he’s so cruel/But I’m still in love with Judas, baby”). Still the overall tone of the album, supported with the self-affirming modern disco anthem “Born This Way” and songs like “Marry The Night” and “Bad Kids,” focuses on self-empowerment, acceptance and the hope of global liberation. More than half the album blooms into an inspirational coda, promoting the beauty of uniqueness and eradicating oneself from the effects of peer pressure. It is that message that is being heard loud and clear, even against the backdrop of what onlookers are quick to dub as an outrageous freak show.

FEBRuARY 13, 2011


rammy night arrives. And over 26 million viewers are watching. It’s the biggest night in music, but it’s also the Grammys’ biggest viewing audience in years. To celebrate the occasion, the Academy is pulling in some big names to headline the evening. With Aretha recovering at home from surgery for an undisclosed illness, the Grammys have invited a superteam of female powerhouses including Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams and Grammy New Artist nominee Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine) to serenade her with a soulful tenminute medley during the opening minutes of the show. Other big names are slated to perform, but social media is burning up over Gaga’s latest stunt. When the glam-pop goddess finally arrives on the red carpet, all eyes are glued on her as she is propped up by five muscle-bound gym rats carrying her in Cleopatra style. Gaga is nestled inside a giant semi-transparent embryo. It is part of the act, a set-up for her live Grammy performance for her new single “Born This Way.” Gaga is known for showing up to pageantry occasions dressed in flamboyantly seasoned wardrobes and outrageous high-platform leather shoes, far surpassing what’s normal. It’s her idea of extending the freak show of Halloween beyond October 31. But her arrival to the Grammys may be the biggest spectacular Gaga has pulled off since she was seen dressed in a raw meat dress for the 2010 MTV Music Awards. Because of the success behind the freak show on steroids, other pop stars have tried to emulate her. Christina Aguilera did it with Bionic, but it was a commercial flop. Miley Cyrus dropped her Hanna Montana gig to duplicate Gaga’s outrageousness. “Can’t Be Tamed” went nowhere and so did her album. Only Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha, at this point, have managed to somewhat crack the code. Attached to her “Girls Gone Wild” episodes on stage, Ke$ha’s singles parade the interior designs of Gaga’s party hits, but what keeps her from looking like a copycat is her creative ability to mix rap into her vocals and to avoid jumping wayward from melodies that conventionally work in pop music. Nicki Minaj, herald as a self-made Messiah to rap, uses gender-bending lyrics and occasionally plays with pink dildos in her live shows, showcasing her as a gutsy competitor in a male-dominant genre, HIFIMAGAZINE.NET




but still knows where to draw the line in the sand when it comes to weirdness. Others are still attempting to hitch a ride on the Gaga express, but are sadly looking like natural disasters in the making. Part of the reason why Gaga is having such success with off-the-cuff outrageousness and uncanny behavior seems to stem from the fact that her career actually started her career off that way. Instead of trying out the good-girl-gone-bad formula like Rihanna or Beyonce or Janet Jackson, Gaga started taking risks from the very beginning, going for the shock value and pushing dance/electronica further into the mainstream. Meanwhile, Gaga’s performance at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards is spellbinding, like a freak show on Broadway. The set is filled with half-naked ballet dancers poised as her little monsters. She emerges from her giant cocoon wearing a yolk-colored latex bra, a skirt and with pointy horns attached to her shoulders. With over 26 million people watching her miniature version of Rocky Horror Picture Show, she’s in a good position. Everyone’s talking about the egg, the performance, the drama. Her single “Born This Way” is destined to go to No. 1 on the week of its release. And it does. One week later and the single is shattering records. It becomes the fastest selling single worldwide in the history of Apple Inc.’s online digital retailer iTunes. With over one million downloads in five days, the song rushes to No. 1 in twenty-three countries, according to Apple. It also becomes the 1,000th No. 1 single in Billboard’s fifty-two years of the Billboard Hot 100. Her hard work pays off. APRIL 19, 2011


ady Gaga is prepared to release what she calls, according to Rolling Stone magazine, “her best album yet.” The entire album was sprawled together in a matter of months while in between stops during her international Monster Ball tour. under the surveillance of a caring record exec, the idea of doing an album while on the road during a grueling 200date tour would be tumultuous. But for Gaga, hard work is her M.O. and she believes that Born This Way, her second album (excluding her 2010 EP The Fame Monster), will rival her previous success. Some road blocks are in the way of that reality. Her first single, the album’s title cut, sold like hotcakes on the first couple of weeks, but dropped its share on radio airplay. “Judas,” her second single from the album is having the same




JUST HATCHED: Lady Gaga arriving in a giant egg at the 53rd annual GRAMMY Aawards

effects. Along with the controversy surrounding the concept video, especially being released a week before Easter, “Judas” was marked with a grim fate, as if she had was marred with a prophetic report similar to another Biblical story; the handwriting was on the wall. Gaga downplayed the events and the content of the single by saying it was “about falling in love with the wrong man over and over again.” She continues: “It’s about constantly walking towards the light in my life, but always clutching onto the light while peering towards the devil in the back, I sing about what a holy fool I am, and that although moments in my life are so cruel and relationships can be so cruel I’m still in love with Judas. I still go back to those evil things.” In response to the “Judas” uproar, Laurieann Gibson, Gaga’s choreographer, defended the video. “I will tell you now, first off, I’m Christian, and my career is evidence of God in my life,” says Gibson. “I think that most people are already thinking that Gaga and the blasphemy and they’re premeditating the approach and I think they’ll be very shocked to find out how huge and really groundbreaking the message is and how freeing the message is for all the right reasons. And it’s really going to shock the world.” The video did just that. It provided shock value, definitely raising Gaga’s profile a little bit higher in the social networking universe and on the blogs, but critics were once again quick to find fault. Conservative pundits and religious groups like The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights assailed the video with their disapproval. In a statement released by Bill Donohue, presi-

dent of the aforementioned organization, he declared that Gaga was mocking religion. “She is trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances.” His words never offered an ounce of praise in his latest description of the pop star: “This is a stunt. Lady Gaga tries to continue to shock Catholics and Christians in general. She dresses as a nun, she swallows the rosary. She has now morphed into a caricature of herself.” ultimately, Gaga’s predictions were right. The world was shocked, but the single failed to become the massive hit she wanted. To kill some of the ugliness instigated by the media over the song, Lady Gaga told Google, “You have to look into what’s haunting you and need to learn to forgive yourself in order to move on. And it’s really fun to dance to.” With house beats and tribal-techno breakdowns wrapped in hooks reminiscent of “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face,” the song debuted at number four on the Hot Digital Songs chart, selling 162,000 copies, and also landed on the Hot 100 at number ten. Radio also pushed their support behind the song after the single dropped, rising 48-36. But after six weeks of charting on Billboard’s Hot 100, the single disappeared from the survey. It did reappear on its eight week of release at number 78 on the Hot 100, but hasn’t had the same results of her previous hits. Gaga’s team had to come up with something fresh, some invigorating and fast. The week of the album release was just right around the corner.

MAY 23, 2011


ith the new album ready to drop, Gaga enters survival mode, kicking off a week of festivities beginning with 7-day no-interpreted coverage on fuse TV along with major TV appearances on American Idol, SNL and daytime talk show ‘The View’. The digital form of the album drops a day before the originally scheduled ‘New Album Tuesday’ date and becomes the most popular sensation on both iTunes and Amazon.com. But the biggest surprise in the Gaga campaign was just right around the corner. When Tuesday arrives, Amazon.com rolls up their cuffs to make the album the hottest product around by selling the mp3-formatted version for a staggering .99 cents for their ‘Deal of the Day’ promotion. Amazon.com is promoting their new cloud-based music locker service and decides to tag the Born This Way download to their new offer because of the high expectations from her fans. Word quickly leaked through networking websites about the exclusive deal, causing large, insurmountable volumes of traffic to the site and leading to a temporary crash of the site’s download systems. Within hours, complaints about slow download speeds were being echoed across the Internet. Some claimed it took over six hours to fin-

ish downloading the digital album. According to statements revealed by Amazon, over 500,000 downloads were actualized on that Tuesday. Because of the mishap with the site and the buzz behind the special offer, Amazon.com announced they would reduplicate the offer on the following Thursday. Certainly the value of digital albums continues to show disturbing signs of deprecation, but the real battle in the digital war is between iTunes and Amazon.com. Both are in heated contests to prove their strongholds in online music retailing, but Amazon.com proved to be the superior in this case. In his write-up over the high-tech debate, Los Angeles Times’ writer Todd Martens wrote that “the value of an album continues to be a nebulous thing, and the digital e-tailer has been a driving force.” He continues: “And here we are, with the fourteen tracks of Born This Way going for the price of a song. The battle may be over market share or cloud-storage dominance, but caught in the crossfire will be the price point at which consumers will be willing to pay for an album. Oh, and meanwhile, iTunes is selling Born This Way for $11.99.” It is clearly evident that Amazon wins this battle. Traditional retailers felt the sting from the 1-dollar one-day offer, as they were left selling the prod-

uct for regular price. Although some companies offered exclusive deals like Best Buy (selling the standard version for $7.99, the 22-track special edition for $14.99 or getting the album free with a 2year contract with any mobile phone), the .99 cent offer attracted thousands to Amazon.com’s offer. In the end, Born This Way soars to No. 1, selling 1,108,000 copies on its first week and becomes the first album in six years to post one-million marks in its first week. The upcoming week comes with its own set of challenges.


s predicted by analysts, a major sales drop was just around the corner. Without the Amazon.com’s promotion, Born This Way experienced an 84% drop in record sales (49,000) on its third week, putting the No. 1 debut in eight place on the Billboard 200. Gaga’s major competitor, Adele’s 21, has already sold over 2.4 million since its February release, becoming the biggest-selling album of the year so far. On the third week of Born This Way’s drop, new albums from Jill Scott and Bon Iver now hold the top spots, while Adele’s album hangs on to No. 3, selling more than half of what Gaga sold. The murmuring from Gaga’s toughest critics, even those within the marketplace, starts to get louder as they rush to some conclusion on how Gaga’s No. 1 album underperformed in sales in its following


In such a short length of time, Lady Gaga’s quest to the top is best observed by the number of hits she’s acquired. Her reign starts to make sense when you look at the numbers.


THE FAME (2008)



peaked at #2, BILLBOARD 200 Sold 4.4 million copies in the U.S. Sold 12 million worldwide

peaked at #5 BILLBOARD 200 Sold 1.4 million copies in the U.S.

peaked at #1; BILLBOARD 200 Sold 1.5 million copies in the U.S. Sold 5 million copies worldwide



















US Australia Canada Ireland UK

US Australia Canada France Germany Ireland Austria New Zealand Swizerland UK


Australia Canada France Germany Ireland UK

UK Ireland

Australia Austria Germany

US Australia Austria Canada Germany Ireland New Zealand Swizerland UK


US Canada New Zealand




Music in Hollywood, said. “It sort of devalues everything after that, and it raises the question of whether she's going to have to do that again on her next record.”


aga isn’t dismayed over the promotion or the backlash coming from traditional retailers. In an interview with Wall Street Journal, she is asked if she’s worth more than .99 cents, in reference to the Amazon promotion. Gaga responds confidently. “No, I absolutely do not. Especially for mp3s and digital music. It’s invisible. It’s in space. If anything, I applaud a company like Amazon for equating the value of digital versus the physical copy and giving the opportunity to everyone to buy music. And also it wasn’t really .99 cents because Amazon paid the difference on all of those purchases as part of their promotional campaign for one of their new services.” Traditional retailers now feel the aftermath from the Amazon promotion and are seeing its effects at ground-zero. “I can't remember that ever happening like this -- selling so much and then going down to so little, so quickly,” Amoeba’s Sheldon responds. “I had to look really hard to find it on our bestseller list. We're stuck with a lot of copies now.” Her popularity is now starting to crest after Rolling Stone magazine recently crowned her as being the “Queen of Pop.” The magazine abstracted her as their winner from a pool of pop divas like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Britney

Spears and Katy Perry. To calculate their winner, Rolling Stone looked at extensive data including Billboard Hot 100 rankings, radio airplay, social media and digital sales. Not since Elizabeth Taylor publicly declared Michael Jackson to be the “King of Pop” at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards has there been another rock star to earn such a distinctively glowing title. When word leaked out about the latest jewel in Gaga’s crown, another forecast of upheaval from her worst enemies started to cluster. “Rolling Stone magazine has ceased to be relevant since the 1990s,” said music retail manager Darius McCain, at a Chicago program directors’ meeting. They act as PR agents rather than an actual magazine. Remember—this is the same magazine that gave Bruce Springsteen’s recent Working on a Dream album ‘five stars’ while it was panned by fans and critics.” Ralph Espinoza, local program director, echoed the same response. “Lady Gaga is a hasbeen now. Her album flopped. Her last two singles flopped. She is being sued for pocketing money that was supposed to go for charity. Lady Gaga is a prostitute and Rolling Stone is her pimp. This is the same magazine that, at the height of the 'Born This Way' plagiarism controversy, claimed that ‘Express Yourself’ is a much worse song." The high levels of negative criticism concerning her artistry are often muzzled into a coma of quietness as the favorable stats continue to roll in. Despite the lackluster single “Judas” and a major sales slump, Gaga has a lot to be thankful for. She

opened up the new year with overwhelming news from Billboard, as she took home Billboard’s top artist of the year honors. At the top of the year, she was hailed by Forbes 100 as being the most influential celebrity since Oprah. The good news continues with Born This Way as it reached No. 1 in over 13 countries. “Edge of Glory” has so far peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her tenth consecutive Top Ten single in the u.S. And like some twist of fate, the song’s companion music video clamored attention after word quickly surfaced that longtime E Street Band member Clarence Clemons is seen playing his legendary sax alongside a Pat Benetar-inspired Gaga. unfortunately, unbeknownst to the world, it would be his last. She’s even indirectly challenging the logistics of the marketplace to make major changes, as they wrestle with their prejudgments of the peculiar pop star. Analysts are now looking at Gaga as a different kind of chart monster. “Taylor Swift has the country fans who actually still believe in buying an album,” said Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard magazine. “Swift appeals to consumers who still buy albums and who still buys a number of them. It’s the same for Adele. She’s still being discovered by people who really want someone they consider to be a ‘true artist,’ someone who really resonates as honest and true.” Gaga has done extremely well as a new artist, selling 4.2 million copies of her previous record The Fame Monster in the u.S., but she proves to find greater favor with her singles, something that Caulfield notes as being her greatest advantage. Her fans are quick to download a single immediately, sometimes without even hearing it first. That expedient response from her fans drives the single up the charts, particularly on the Hot 100 and Digital Sales charts. But it takes a while before radio programmers are able to play what’s hot with music lovers. Even if radio programmers are infuriated over Gaga’s success, they still must lay aside their Gaga haterade and focus on playing what’s popular. Gaga isn’t your traditional artist on any level. She caters to her fans exclusively. She connects directly with her fans almost telepathically. (“I actually have become a better artist because of my fans,” Gaga says. [CONTINUED ON PG. 50]








HE SUMMER OF ‘69, for better or worse, is cemented in the minds of those that lived it and wasn’t totally drugged up to the point of not remembering it. Here’s some of ‘69’s headlines: The Beatles announced their breakup; man lands on the moon; the soldiers fighting in Vietnam kept marching on; flower power ruled; Hurricane Camille swept through the South; the Stonewall Riots sparked a revolution for the gay community; Manson was a dirty word. That recreational season between Memorial Day and Labor Day is usually supposed to be a happy and eventful period of time, but 1969 was a mixbag of everything good and everything bad for youngsters. But Woodstock, the granddaddy of music festivals, the event billed as an “Aquarian exposition” with “three days of peace and music,” came in like a tidal wave and attracted over 500,000 music lovers and hippies to the 600-acre farmland in Bethel, New York, changing the fabric of summer forever. It was the perfect capper to a troubled decade and elevated the spirit of hope for better years to come. Unfortunately, the Seventies had its share of problems, as did the Eighties and so on. Besides the complaining of the 100-degree heat waves and its subsequent heat strokes, the summers are always the brightest parts of the year. No wonder summer songs are so important. They give us something to dance and sing about. They give us that extra gasoline for those extra-long road trips. They are our musical roadmaps to the beaches. And when the heat is really on…some of them turn on the fires in our sexual mojo. So we’ve compiled a good list of 45 best summer singles of all-time that does any of the above. Taken from 1958 to 2011, our list highlights some of the hottest Top 40 summer favorites to ever burn the radio...and the personal stereo, the Walkman and the DATA INCLUDES BILLBOARD TOP 100 CHART PEAK // DATE DEBUTED IN TOP 40 // RECORD LABEL iPod. There’s something on board for everybody.


Ice Ice Baby VANILLA ICE #1 POP // SEPTEMBER 1990 // SBK

in the heat of the summer of 1990, Vanilla ice jumps into the rap game with his chilly rap hit “ice ice baby.” the song unapologetically samples Queen & david bowie’s duet “under Pressure.” after getting some pressure from the rock stars, rapper Vanilla ice earned co-writing credits and earned a chunk of the royalties. although the song tells a story about a Miami drive-by shooting while circling an alpha Phi alpha step team chant, it became a summer sensation and wound up opening bigger doors for crossover rap. the song became the first hip-hop song to hit no. 1 on the hot 100. ice’s career never rebounded.


Mercedes Boy PEBBLES #2 POP // MAY 1988 // MCA Everybody wanted to cruise through the hot humid summer wind in a Mercedes after Perri “Pebbles” reid pulled out the driveway with her top 5 smash hit “Mercedes boy.” the cool synthpop pulse of the remix, co-produced by Charlie Wilson and Pebbles, helped shoot the song up the pop and r&b charts.


The Glamorous Life SHELIA E.

#7 POP // JULY 1984 // WARNER Prince’s synth-funk handiwork on top of shelia E.’s percussive beats and apollonia 6-inspired breathy vocals provided “the gla morous Life” that extra zing to rocket the Prince protégé into the pop market. the song details the glam lifestyle of a jet set hollywood woman, but caps off the story with a dose of reality: “Without love/it ain’t much.” Fans of Prince’s funkier jams and the time had no problem turning to shelia E’s breakout jam that summer.


The Lazy Song BRUNO MARS #4 POP // APRIL 2011 // ELEKTRA

With a sensational need to just kick it at the crib, bruno Mars – alongside a sweet roots reggae and Jawaiian backdrop – launches into a teenager’s dream full of sweet rebellion: “i'm gonna kick my feet up/then stare at the fan/turn the tV on, throw my hand in my pants/nobody's gonna tell me i can't.” this is what you did after hearing alice Cooper’s “school’s out.” (see no. 5, pg. 31)



#6 POP // JULY 1984 // CHRYSALIS sweltering on the backs of sultry doo-wop harmonies and dazzling lead guitar solos, huey Lewis’s “if this is it” sticks out as one of the grandest midtempo rock and roll ballads of the Eighties. images from the popular concept video, portraying beach vixens and the band members being buried in the sands of santa Cruz, has been enshrined deeply in the minds of the MtV generation.


Paradise SADE

#16 POP // JUNE 1988 // EPIC


Whoomp! There It Is TAG TEAM #2 POP // MAY 1993 // LIFE underground Miami bass group tag team found their key to success in a sample of Kano’s italio-disco 1983 hit “i’m ready.” With some sharp MC hammer rap action and hype crowdparticipation on the chorus, the song blasted it way to the pop charts at the beginning of May 1993, even beating their competition 95 south with a similar-sounding “Whoot, there it is.” the song managed to sell a whopping 4 million copies and became the group’s only hit record. the song is now considered an urban club staple and a crowd favorite at sporting events.


Carribean Queen (No More Love on the Run)


Exotic summer breezes, conga beats and tranquil smooth r&b alongside sade adu’s enchanting vocal deliveries heard on “Paradise” helped serenade the ears of many romantic nights in the summer of 1988.

billy ocean’s breakout pop/dance hit, detailing a story about a dazzling island girl, lit up the discos in ’84 and quickly turned up the ante on his music career. thanks to the song’s producer and co-writer robert “Mutt” Lunge, who had previous successes with aC/dC and def Leppard, “Caribbean Queen” became synonymous with ‘80’s music and gave r&b an extra jolt of energy for MtV’s video airplay.




#1 POP // JULY 1987 // SLASH ritchie Valens successfully recorded the tex-Mex/Chicano rock top 40 pop hit “La bamba” in 1958 and became an early rock and roll classic. For the Valens’ 1987 biopic (La bamba), Los Lobos re-recorded the song, turning it into a number one pop hit. it proved to be the perfect memento to an unsung rock legend and one of the summer’s big hits.

Sledgehammer PETER GABRIEL



#1 POP // MAY 2003 // COLUMBIA booty-poppin’ bass-rap jams had been experimented before on much of the ‘90’s club bass summer anthems of 95 south “Whoot! there it is,” 69 boyz’ “tootstie roll” and ghost town dJ’s “My boo”, but beyonce’s 2003 percussion-driven party jam, which samples the Chi-Lites and showcasing a killer rap spot from Jay-Z, simply perfected it and proved to be the queen mother of the urban discos.


Good Times CHIC


Boys of Summer DON HENLEY

#3 POP // DECEMBER 1984 // GEFFEN the longtime Eagles’ vocalist and drummer echoes a repetitive nu Wave riff over a lamenting grateful dead lyric chronicling mid life crisis and a sympathetic love letter for the ages (“My love for you will still be strong, after the boys of sumer have gone”). it’s a pretty sad tune through and through, but henley has a hint of optimism in his voice and the soothing ‘80’s rock is some of the era’s best.


Under the Boardwalk THE DRIFTERS

#1 POP // JULY 1979 // ATLANTIC

#4 POP // JULY 1964 // ATLANTIC

Just when disco was wrapping up its time in the public eye and the us economy still in peril, Chic pulled out a monster of a dance hit with “good times.” the song’s melody and juicy bass lines, highly sampled in iconic rap classics and borrowed on Queen’s “another one bites the dust,” proved to be more valuable than gold in the eyes of advanced musicians, but the ears of music lovers were finding too much relief in the getaway adages of the lyrics. on the album risque’, “good times” was followed by the therapeutic smooth ballad “a Warm summer night.”

the sweet doo-wop romantics and boardwalk imagery of this summery tune seems to age gracefully with each passing decade. Even though it’s been covered by countless american idol finalists and pop superstars, the ‘60’s original – with its gorgeous violins, strings and spanish güiro – continues to trump the others.


Hot In Herre NELLY

#1 POP // MAY 1986 // GEFFEN

#1 POP // MAY 2002 // F0’ REEL

along with some funky stax-inspired horns, Peter gabriel takes on some vobvious “sock it to me” innuendos, referencing roller coaster rides, steam trains, bees and pollination. it’s apparent that the English musician was working up his mojo on this record. in May 1986, he wasn’t alone. thanks to millions of music lovers and the folks at MtV, the song successfully soared to number one pop on the shoulders of a popular Claymationstop motion music video.

nelly’s beastly summer jam “hot in herre” brought spring break fun, sizzling flirtation and loads of sexy to 2002. When the chorus kicks in after nelly borrows a few pointers from Chuck brown’s “bustin’ Loose,” the female singer creates eargasms with her sexy coos. by the end of the summer, everybody was taking their clothes off to nelly’s tune.



#3 POP // JULY 1985 // ARISTA aretha zooms down the interstate with her best upbeat track since “rock steady.” on top of that, legendary sax man Clarence Clemons make a surprise visit and turns up the heat on the uptempo narada Michael Walden production.






Saturday In the Park CHICAGO




Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)



#1 POP // SEPTEMBER 1990 // SBK

Chicago keyboardist robert Lamm was inspired to write the fun summer song while recording their V album in new york City after witnessing a walking carnival of people celebrating on the Fourth of July. the lyrics are upbeat and engaging, creating the ultimate bar mitzvah of fun (“People dancing, people laughing/a man selling ice cream/singing italian songs”). Can you dig it? yes we can.

Penned by the song’s prominent star, saxophonist danny Flores, the 1955 instrumental surf song remains an iconic staple in the hallways of golden age rock and roll and opened up the floodgates for Chicano rock. the Champs, signed to gene autry’s Challenge label, had very little success after releasing this grammy-winning gem, but manage to give birth to “Limbo rock,” a song that went gold in the hands of Chubby Checker.

“Macarena” was originally born in 1992, but reached international acclaim when the song earned remix treatment by the bayside boys and getting extra English verses from an unaccredited group of spice girlesque singers in 1996. all of a sudden, the summer of 1996 had a new dance craze propelled by its addictively-charming music video and Los del rio sold 11 million copies. it ended up being the Mexican bands’ only hit single.



Carnival cruise ships were hip to cash in on the hues Corporation’s voyage advertisement (“our love is like a ship on the ocean/We’ve been sailing with a cargo full of love and devotion”). although it was released in early 1974, radio failed to play it, leaving only the new york discos to pick it up. radio responded by adding it to their top 40 playlists. it finally soared to number one pop in July 1974. it ended up being one of the earliest disco songs to top the charts. shockingly the song was succeeded by george McCrae’s disco classic “rock your baby;” another song with a “rocking” theme.

one of the most memorable Motown records wound up being one of the best summer anthems of all time. When Martha reeves belts out her gospel-fueled “yeah-yeah…oh-ohhhh, yeah” on the closing minutes while the Vandellas echoes their harmonic ad-libs, the velocity in the room changes into a rock ‘n roll gospel show. the Motown trio was only doing what they knew best.




Little Red Corvette PRINCE #6 POP // MARCH 1983 // WARNER on “Little red Corvette,” Prince’s wild expedition into innuendo madness is pleasantly kinky and downright poppy. it builds on the momentum of minimal instrumentation and a simple drum machine beat and then lifts into its divine chorus. after Prince was done imagining his one-night stand with “Corvette,” even telling her to slow it down, all the rebellious kids in ’83 wanted their parents to purchase them a red Corvette. their parents knew better.




(Love Is Like a) Heatwave MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS

#4 POP // AUGUST 1963 // GORDY





#7 POP // SEPTEMBER 2007 // R0C-AFELLA sampling Michael Jackson’s “P.y.t.” is always a cocktail recipe for summer success, but the rap rock star slows the tempo down and marinates the groove with hard bass, sweaty synths, cocky extravagance (“i go for mine/i’ve got to shine”) and nightlife ubiquity. alongside the old school mix, the song’s finest summery lyric sticks out like a beach ball in the sand (“the good life, it feel like atlanta/it feel like L.a., it feel like Miami/it feel like n.y., summertime Chi, ahh/now throw your hands up the sky.”).



#1 POP // DECEMBER 1976 // MCA With disco in power and former Motown producer norman Whitfield anxious to show the world his newest act, he pushed “Car Wash” as the lead single from the 1976 film with the same name. the film, released in october 1976, was a critically and commercial disappointment, even though in later years it became a popular cult film due to its superstar list of actors, but “Car Wash” exploded, selling two million copies and giving the group their first no. 1 pop and r&b hit. the summer-themed tune, unveiling a story about the neighborhood car wash, where “everything is always cool,” created enough heat to warm up the chilly new york discos that winter.


Light My Fire THE DOORS #1 POP // JUNE 1967 // ELEKTRA sweltering on the backs of sultry doo-wop harmonies and dazzling lead guitar solos, huey Lewis’s “if this is it” sticks out as one of the grandest midtempo rock and roll ballads of the Eighties. images from the popular concept video, portraying beach vixens and the band members being buried in the sands of santa Cruz, has been enshrined deeply in the minds of the MtV generation.

#2 POP // JULY 1968 // DUNHILL/ABC

rock revelers could easily put the pedal to the metal with steppenwolf’s breakout ’68 hit. For extra heat, harley sporting southerners and midwest highway truckers crank up the volume to its country rock guitar riffs and the gutsy vocals of frontman John Kay. Probably the funkiest heavy metal blues rock highway anthem ever created.

Wanna Be Your Lover: Prince, known for turning up the sex in his lyrics, defends his past. ''We've all used shock value to sell things,'' he says. ''I used shock to get attention. But back when I was doing the freaky songs in the freaky outfits, we were exploring ideas.”


Hey, Soul Sister TRAIN



Summer of ‘69 BRYAN ADAMS #5 POP // JULY 1985 // A&M


Love Shack THE B-52’s



Cruel Summer BANNARAMA #9 POP // AUGUST 1984 // LONDON

Except for Jason Mraz’s “i’m yours,” train’s colossal best-selling single “hey, soul sister” is the most recent sunshine pop anthem to hit the airwaves. the sunny vibes of train’s ukulele opening atop Pat Monahan’s “hey-hey” evokes the vibes of paradise.

bryan adams’ nostalgic trip to the summer of 1969 is painted with sweet reminders of playing “my first real six-string,” movie drive-ins and having fun. adams calls it the “best days of my life.” “summer of ’69,” despite all of the upheaval that took place in ‘69, became one of the’80’s best rock and roll pop songs and one of the best feel-good summer anthems.

the excitement heard on the b-52’s impromptu road trip about cruising down the atlanta highway and “lookin' for the love getaway” found in south alabama carries the same kind of jovial weight as Kool & the gang’s “Celebration.” although the single peaked on the charts in september, the album, Cosmic thing – which carried the single – was released in late June 1989. the millioncopy selling hit proved to be the perfect picker upper for the group after recovering from the loss of their longtime guitarist ricky Wilson to hiV/aids in 1985.

not everyone likes the blistering heat and the water droughts. bananarama put their pen to work on a dance anthem chronicling the pains of summer, particularly being single in the midst of all the dogs being in heat. When the song broke in the uK in 1983, the song had no impact in the us but after the song appeared in the 1984 summer blockbuster film the Karate Kid, the song took off and so did bananarama’s career.





Low Rider WAR

#7 POP // OCTOBER 1975 // UNITED ARTISTS before the song became associated with Cheech & Chong’s hazy roadtrip in the 1978 theatrical film up in smoke, Chicanos had exclusive ownership of the song with its observance of custom hot rod worship. and of course, “hot rod” comes with the obvious innuendo. there’s nothing like showing off a car’s hydraulic while waiting at the traffic lights in the summer heat.

Dancing In the Streets MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS

#2 POP // SEPTEMBER 1964 // GORDY before Martha goes down the roll call of major cities, she gets our attention by declaring “summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street.” although it slowly made its ascent up the higher portions of the pop charts before Labor day weekend in september, the gold-certified Motown single was already a hot sensation on the r&b charts. Martha & the Vandellas had struck gold twice with yet another summer-themed anthem.

The Tide Is High BLONDIE


Fred Schneider isn’t tired of being known as the “Love Shack” band. “That’s fine with me. Thank God for “Love Shack.” Though, I can see people getting tired of hearing it at every wedding and karaoke club.”

#31 POP // MARCH 1988 // DEF JAM

blondie’s reggae-toned cover of an obscure Paragons song is loaded with island sizzle and summery vibes, thanks to the ska update and debbie harry’s flirty vocals. although the usage of the word “tide” has nothing to do with the currents in the sea, beach lovers didn’t care. they adopted it anyway.

the ladies definitely showed their loved for James smith after pulling off a cool visual rap about California cruising. the chorus finds LL Cool J breathing heavily, “i’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali,” and capping things off with a snarky about-face: “i don’t think so.” the horn solo alongside the record scratchin’ and sexy beats was another genius tool of pushing rap deeper in the ears of the pop market.



before Katy Perry whipped out her L.a. gurl anthem, the kings of surf pulled out their worship anthem in July 1965. the Wilson brothers never refrained from their love for sunshine pop, which is conveyed sweetly on this song’s warm harmonies and bubbly lyrics. the song soared to number three pop that summer. 20 years later after david Lee roth left Van halen to go solo in ‘85, he recorded a cover of the song featuring brian Wilson and Christopher Cross on background vocals, also sending the song to number three pop.

“Walking on sunshine” was originally recorded in ’83, but the group got a major deal and another chance to record the sunshine pop song. With a speedier tempo and a zestier horn arrangement, the song ended up being a major top ten smash hit.

California Girls BEACH BOYS #3 POP // AUGUST 1965 // CAPITOL

ShackIn’ uP: B-52’s

Going Back to Cali L.L. COOL J

Walking on Sunshine KATRINA & THE WAVES #9 POP // APRIL 1985 // CAPITOL




#2 POP // JULY 1963 // DOT

Down Under MEN AT WORK


the mostly-instrumental surf song, a cocktail of heavy percussion beats and repetitive guitar lines, is still considered one of the proudest jewels in beach music. the Fat boys and the beach boys also teamed up in the summer of 1987 to make a remake, resulting in a no. 12 pop hit. the surfaris’ version, along with remakes of the tune, has been heavily used in television, movies and video games.

although released in late 1982, Men at Work’s second no. 1 hit remains one of the most gorgeous demonstrations of smooth island soul. the band from Melbourne, australia pays respect to their homeland by creating a stunning visual surrounding a traveling aussie interacting with the rest of the world. on the chorus, the traveller delivers a resounding sales’ pitch – for better and for worse – to visit australia. With sweet flutes and breezy nu Wave accents, “down under” proved to be the perfect getaway for those seeking a taste of paradise.



For hundreds of high school seniors, “school’s out” became the official anthem for the first day of summer. of course, there’s a tint of bad-ass rebellion in the lyrics after being nurtured in alice Cooper’s heavy metal progressions, but the song ultimately gives nineteen and eighteen year olds the needed break they deserved: “no more pencils, no more books/no more teachers’ dirty looks.”

“summer in the City” plays with beatles’ psychedelic pop helmed together with a resonate Vox Continental organ. along with the sweaty, sizzling tone of the opening lyrics (“hot town, summer in the city/back of my neck getting dirty and gritty”), a few city-related sound effects including Volkswagen car horns and construction jackhammers ring out on the short instrumental bridge. Luckily, there’s a second verse that cools the song off a little (“Cool town/evening in the city/dressing so fine and looking so pretty”). the song originated from a poem written by Mark sebastian (brother of Lovin’ spoonful’s John sebastian) but was amended by the band to fit the upbeat structure of the song.

School’s Out ALICE COOPER #7 POP // JUNE 1972 // WARNER

Summer In the City THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL

#1 POP // JULY 1966 // KARMA SUTRA


Hot Fun in the Summertime SLY & THE FAMILY STONE

#2 POP // AUGUST 1969 // EPIC sly and his flower power army slowed down the pace of the funk to kick out one heck of a cool mid-tempo summer jam. While capitalizing on their moment at Woodstock during the “summer of ’69,” “hot Fun” was rushed out to the public that summer and eventually landed on their 1970 greatest hits LP.


Summer Breeze SEALS & CROFT

#6 POP // OCTOBER 1972 // WARNER BROS. the title cut taken from the soft rock duo’s fourth LP resonated well in the ears of classic rock revelers. it’s a beautifully executed romantic rock ballad containing gorgeous harmonies and poetic images of summer’s opulence (“sweet days of summer/the jasmine’s in bloom/July is dressed up/and playing her tune”). the song was successfully covered by the isley brothers using a more percussion-driven arrangement, giving the single visible presence on the r&b charts (#10) and in the uK (#16).



#4 POP // JUNE 1991 // JIVE

Will smith samples another r&b summer favorite (Kool & the gang’s “summer Madness”) and designs one of the coolest summer anthems of all time. rather than playing the goofy character of his previous hits (“nightmare on My Elm street,” “Parents Just don’t understand”), the Fresh Prince’s goes for a cool, grown-up sexy approach. it was just another way of quelling the rumors that the rap duo was too square.


California Gurls KATY PERRY #1 POP // JUNE 2010 // CAPITOL

Katy Perry searched through Wikipedia to find the perfect West Coast rapper to join her on her candy-coated summer tune. at first, the pairing of Perry and snoop dogg seemed totally unconventional and uncanny, but dogg’s contribution is easy and breezy on Perry’s pop. We call it hip-pop. the song took off in the summer of 2010, becoming Perry’s highest-charted single since “i Kissed a girl.”

SurF’S uP: With the band putting lots of emphasis on surfing, it’s the one thing the Beach Boys didn’t major in. “no, I was never a surfer,” says Brian Wilson. “I never learned. I’ve gotten along this far without it.”


Surfin’ U.S.A. BEACH BOYS #7 POP // JUNE 1972 // WARNER

a summer wouldn’t be complete without the beach boys’ ultimate surf anthem “surfin usa.” the song borrows a very familiar Chuck berry melody and culls out a map of Cali surfing spots. released in the spring of 1983, the song soared to the higher portions of the pop charts and earning the band their first top ten hit.







Bieber uses “oh” wisely. In his whiny, pleading, COLDPLAY Viva la Vida” adolescent voice, he gets the girls all wound Coldplay blends arena-rock pulse and orchestral up by using the classic “baby, baby, baby” baroque pop bliss into a majestic, grandiose line. Immediately afterwards, he exudes arrangement on “Viva la Vida.” On the closing lines, an orgasmic crescendo (“Ohhhhh”) as frontman Chris Martin encourages listeners to join him in a if it was losing his virginity. Now you Celtic hymn-like chant using never-ending “ohhs.” No other know why he’s simply adored by band has exercised the power the ladies. of the “oh” so beautifully.


“California Gurls”

On “California Gurls,” Katy Perry belts an adlibbed “oh” at the tail end of the spirited sing“Oh” seems to have the same kind of cathartic power as a-long chorus. The song probably wouldn’t “hallelujah” in gospel music. Franklin has used “oh” multiple times have felt complete if it was omitted throughout his career (“Something About That Name Jesus,” “Now Befrom the final mix. hold the Lamb”). His latest “oh” incarnation tries to incorporate traits KE$HA from the other ‘Hova (Jay-Z) into Franklin’s street gospel (“Things look “Tik Tok” better when you oh-oh-oh”). Ke$ha uses all the tricks in the MAJOR LAZER book to organize this hit. AutoLADY GAGA Well, except for Oprah. “Pon De Floor” tune, rap, video game beats, a “Bad Romance” This dancehall anthem, a But she’s not a musician. Using a bit of Madonna’s elegance Diddy cameo and her Valley Girl collaborative effort designed Well, is she? atop ‘90’s synthpop, Gaga begins accents: It’s all there. But the by Switch and Diplo, is her open letter to her best friend KE$HA song, surrounded by a sparkly mostly an instrumental “Blow” Luc Carl with a fragment of the party production, builds its enerdancefloor workout covered Ke$ha’s sleaze pop is a perchorus: “Ohhh/Caught in a bad gies off of the dance-pop chorus. with robotic “ohs” and “ahs” fect fit for the urban clubromance”). She repeats the phrase The lines are perfectly placed that bend back and forth with world. She brings an throughout the tune, usually as a and rhyme like Dr. Suezz. When a synth EQ switch. Two attractive playfulness to her transition from chorus to verse, or the chorus reaches its end, the years later, Beyonce uses the anarchy that gels well with into her “rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, Romacrowd gets a double portion of same electro house beats on ordinary people looking to roma-mah, Gaga-ooh-la-la” hook. “ohs” and crying for the repeat her women’s lib anthem “Run dump their week-long stress Her opening line encourages the button. the World (Girls).” It’s obvious on the dancefloor. “Blow” is fans to sing with her, but the “rah, KATY PERRY that Major Lazer’s song the modern equivalent to “the rah” gibberish is the kind of stuff “Firework” works. Beyonce’s doesn’t. roof, the roof, the roof is on that makes you wonder if she was Her most recent attempt at the fire.” BRITNEY SPEARS inspired after listening to The “oh” can be found on “Firework.” “Till The World Ends” USHER Trashmen’s hook on “Surfin’ Bird.” When the chorus enters the It’s partially Ke$ha’s fault. “OMG” picture, Perry installs pop magic, ENRIQUE IGLEASIS She co-wrote the song. But It sounds accidental, but “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” igniting a friendly chorus worthy you have to hand it to her; Usher’s beat-boxing attempt – After working up a hard-on on his of memorization (“‘Cause baby, she gives Britney the dancethanks to Black Eyed Peas’ latest techno-sizzled hit “Tonight you’re a firework/Come on, show a-holic facelift she’s been chief engineer will.i.am – (I’m Lovin’ You),” the “Dirty Dancer” ‘em what you’re worth/Make ‘em vying for since “Slave.” When sounds more like a dusty singer goes into a thumping go ‘Oh, oh, oh”/As you shoot BEYONCE’ “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It” she leaps into the sing-along record with the needle stuck bass-driven chorus echoing his Beyonce may have snatched her “oh” from a gospel quartet. If you break across the sky-y-y”). The end “oh-oh’oh” chant, the tipsy on the groove. big plans for the after party (“…that down her 2009 hit piece by piece, including her gay-friendly jayset syllables of the chorus’ final lines clubheads morph into a tonight I’m lovin’ you, oh-oh, you know.” choreography and club-crunk chorus, you’ll quickly discover her “oh” chorus sways like poetry. You really can holy congregation. The “oh’s” prove to be the icing on the cake. has the same glow of a celestial Mahalia Jackson song. Luckily, the driving feel the motion. tempo proves to be the perfect disguise from its “possible” gospel origins.


“I Smile”



ome people might call it “perfect timing.” Oprah Winfrey’s leaving her daytime post after 25 years and now the world is singing her praises. Literally or figuratively, you ask? Well, it seems like the pop world is squeezing in enough room to insert the last-minute “O” (or “oh” chants) into their radio hits. Ever since Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” landed on our iPods, the usage of the “oh” has been quite detectable in today’s pop music. We believe Oprah had something to do with all of this.






35 the strokes 36 Beyonce 36 Journey 36 Foo Fighters 37 Lady Gaga 37 Fleet Foxes 37 My Chemical romance 38 Lupe Fiasco 38 Warren haynes 38 Brad Paisley 38 Iron & Wine 39 Jill scott 39 Ledisi 42 Amos Lee 42 LMFAO 42 My Morning Jacket 42 Marc Broussard 43 the Cars 43 Panic! at the disco 43 Britney spears 44 nKOtBsB 44 Booker t. Jones 44 Buddy holly 44 Blake shelton 45 Kelly Price 45 Matthew Morrison 45 r.e.M. 47 Beastie Boys 47 t.d. Jakes 47 reissues

ANGULAR VELOCITY timewarp of 80’s sounds prevail on the strokes’ fourth disc


eing among the original leaders of the

current indie rock resurgence comes with much expectation and hope for each successive release, so it’s no wonder that indie darlings the strokes took their longest hiatus ever following the release of their third album, 2006’s First

impressions of Earth, before following up with their latest release, the 80’s-inspired angles. to further complicate things, lead singer Julian Casablancas took his inspiration elsewhere in the interim, crafting one of the best solo project albums of his generation with 2009’s synth-laden Phrazes For the young, a risky move which might have depleted the strokes’ newest offering of some of its strongest potential. Lastly, as the primary songwriter in the band, Casablancas reportedly decided to approach his involvement with

angles much more remotely, with the hope that the other members would

and hauntingly personal slow track “Call Me back,” with its pensive

step up to the compositional plate... the resulting thirty-four minutes are mixed, but the album begins wellenough with the Clash-esque dub-influenced guitar work on “Machu Picchu,” the charmingly-bouncy radio-ready single “under the Cover of darkness,” and the Cure-meetsthe Cars stylings of “two Kinds of happiness,” before heading into the darker territory more reminiscent of Casablancas’ solo material with “you’re so right.” in fact, it’s when

lyrics and moody guitar work atop a bed of muted synth pads, but the decision to follow up this somber mood with angles’ goofiest number, “grastifaction” and its early american bandstand-friendly group choruses is a strange one indeed, especially for an album so rooted in the 80’s sound world. Elsewhere, the album continues to lack the punch and direction we would expect of the band: though the second single “taken For a Fool”’s choruses do resemble those of the album’s more-successful lead single, the verses sound far too much like Cake, and the closing number, “Life is simple in the Moonlight,” comes across as a lackluster dénouement to an already perplexingly off-the-mark album. in summary, though angles does feature some interesting harmonies

angles sounds most like Phrazes For the young that it’s at its strongest, seen in electro-rock numbers like the slow quasi-ballad “games” and the proggy “Metabolism,” with its snappy asymmetrical phrases and tense vocal melodies. Perhaps the most unique sonic addition to the album is the strange

the strOKes Angles (rCA)


kkkkk Classic kkkk Excellent kkk Good kk Fair k Poor






and textures, it never quite coalesces into more than the sum of its parts, often sounding like the cutting room floor remnants from Casablancas’ solo project, and as such, this installment might end up taking away from the formative band’s legacy. thus, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the strokes, like so many revered bands before them, work best when their frontman is actually at the front of the band, committed and leading the way. Phrazes For the young clearly showed that Casablancas still has it in him, but only time will tell if his inspiration can continue to be channeled through his band. ryan burruss

sPIn thIs!

in the eyes of Queen bee’s most faithful fans, a technical issue arises if the album could be salvaged if the song’s chronological order were reset. the Major Lazersampled “run the World (girls),” being the only uptempo offering and bearing some of the club-driven sting of her previous singles, probably should have gone first. but record executives know the golden rule to piecing together good albums. you always put the best in the front. as hard as it seems, in the case of 4, the execs actually got it right. the front end is far more interesting than what lies on the back. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “1+1,” “best thing i never had”

“under Cover of darkness,” “Call Me back,” “Metabolism”

JOurneY eclipse


(nomata LLC)

4 (Columbia)

FOO FIGhters Wasting Light

For the first ten years of beyoncé’s career (including her tenure as front woman for destiny’s Child), she has been known for her spicy, energetic up-tempos. her repertoire is loaded with them to the point that they clearly dominate her live sets. on 4, beyoncé’s fourth disc, she puts the ballad in the front seat and hopes to inject some slowly paced material into her live shows. it’s a risky move nevertheless, since her fans are programmed to expect a preponderance of sexy head-banging club anthems to be in full effect. but 4 is much more than just a change of pace. it juggles with rock’s ego, leans a little more on lead guitar solos, more synth-fueled and intimate while totally ignoring the current environment in electro-controlled pop music. beyoncé’s no stranger to the idea of playing with her passionate ambitions, but 4 is bizarrely more self-centered than sasha Fierce and proves to be less interesting. the album opens with “1+1,” a mutated experiment picking at sam Cooke’s “don’t know much about…” philosophies and Prince’s “Purple rain” dramatics. For the most part, the song is one of her best slow jams. her voice is stronger and raspier than before, aged in a marinade of thick soulful pleading and aerobic melisma. but instead of “1+1” powering up in the potential of Purple rain’s climatic finish, it slowly fades before its engines could heat up. its end result feels more like the album’s prelude. What immediately follows is draining slow songs that fail to optimize the singer’s full potential. “i Care” and “i Miss you” are moody daft Punk -inspired slow jams, drenched with heavy legato using exhausting slurs. When the tempo tries to kick up on the andre 3000/Kanye West-supported, sWV-esque “Party,” the album falls apart at the seams. saving the album from total disaster, “best thing i never had” is a breath of fresh air. sweet piano decorate the opening lines while beyoncé kicks up her “irreplaceable” persona (“When i think of the time i almost lost you/you showed your ass and i saw the real you”). Clearly it’s a crossbreed of onerepublic pop and babyface r&b – thanks to babyface’s co-writing duties. then there’s “Love on top,” which sounds like a gleaming reprise of george benson’s “turn your Love around.” alongside beyonce’s jovial vocals and the buoyancy of the grooves, the song screams for radio attention, but one too many modulations at the end – like a hezekiah Walker gospel offering – quickly puts the breaks on that idea.

those searching for pop-friendly rock hooked to the glee revived “don’t stop believin’” may need to be warned: that’s not happening on Eclipse. on the band’s fourteenth album , they return to their core from the santana upbringing by hyping up the big guitar spectacles, rock interplay and epic instrumentals and kicking out their Eighties arena-rock and giving hardcore Journey fans something heartier to devour for long-listening escapades. Critics have always given Journey the cold shoulder: When they played soft for the MtV audiences with their pop hits, they were considered too soft. When they went for angry, mean and prolific rock, critics surrendered to the idea that they were wannabes pretending to be grown-up rock gods. on Eclipse, Journey original and guitarist neal schon pretty much scores the album on his own, producing with key wiz Jonathan Cain and Kevin shirley, but this doesn’t isn’t entirely a Pineda showcase. the big prog rock is explosive with most songs ticking close to the six-minute mark. this is the kind of a showcase that works well in the live shows, and it’s also the stuff that proves to be a strong fit for steve Perry replacement, arnel Pineda. in many ways, Pineda sounds like his elder, channeling Perry’s high register, mightier than Conan in battle. although the hooks aren’t always outlined for the pop-trained ear, the songs still reflect the Journey brand, all the way down to the harmonies. “City of hope” is an elaborate opener, leading into similar-sounding uptempos. the pace slows up with one of the album’s sweetest standouts, “tantra.” it opens with an intimate piano solo, then Pineda smoothly walks in with peaceful vocals, then “tantra” takes off with its muscular chorus. “anything is Possible” – tracing some of the aor warmness of “tantra” – kind of gives those easily turned on by the positive inspirations of glee’s cover of “don’t stop believin’” something to gnaw on, but this album is loaded with too many adventurous rock jams (“Chain of Love,” “resonate”) that hardcore Journey fans appreciate, especially those with a craving for accessible “kick out the jams.” J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “rolling in the deep,” “one and only,” “someone Like you”


EVERYBODY PLAYS THE FOO Foos present their most spirited album in years


he Foo Fighters's seventh studio LP, 2011's Wasting Light may be the band's most spirited effort in years. Chocked full of dynamic, overwrought guitars laden with a assortment of effects and incredibly assertive, edgy vocals from frontman dave grohl, the Foos sound reinvigorated since 2007's massive hit “the Pretender,” the valedictory cut of Echoes, silence, Patience & grace. Credit veteran producer butch Vig additionally for some of the fiery nature of Wasting Light. the LP proves to be a pleasant surprise. the album opens with lo-fi sounding guitars incorporating a minimalist touch on the ripe “bridge burning,” where grohl emphatically chants, “these are my famous last words!” the song is an exciting way to open, given its production work, underlying harmonic progression, and overall singwriting. “rope” concedes no loss of momentum, yielding some superb guitar work, heavy bass, and pounding drums. “dear rosemary” is a showstopper, with a groove so infectious it transcends the genre of rock and roll. Perhaps the repetitiveness of the chorus gives “dear rosemary” an extra pop/soul edge. White Limo” is the spirit of rock epitomized - ambitious, manic, and epic. “arlandia” is solid, though “these days” is better, finding a vocally more controlled grohl, a contrast to previous cuts. “back and Forth” is straight-forward postgrunge while the lighter feel of “a Matter of time” on the verses screams pop. “Miss the Misery” works well, but the contrast of penultimate cut “i should have Known” is more notable given its melancholy and melodramatic nature. “Walk” closes the album strongly with rational refrain: “i'm learning to walk again, can't you see i've waited long enough...” Wasting Light could be described as a 'tour de force' for the veteran rock band. the album proves that the Foo Fighters continue to evolve musically with time. dave grohl and company still have years and years of great records left inside of them. brEnt FauLKnEr

sPIn thIs! “bridge burning,” “dear rosemary,” “White Limo,” “i should have Known”


LAdY GAGA Born this Way (streamline/ KonLive/ Interscope)


INdancing GAGA WE TRUST queen pulls off her crusade of rock-fueled, religious-tinted electro-gasms

Lady gaga’s on a mission to save the world from right-wing conservatism and obnoxious boredom on her raw and ambitious sophomore album born this Way. the reason why gaga is “tricking” up her album with tougher rules and guidelines may surround the idea that she’s tired of being pegged as a singles’ artist. Certainly she’s sold millions of copies worldwide of the Fame and her follow-up EP the Fame Monster, but her singles are especially hard to rival with. Each single dispersed from gaga’s camp gives rihanna and Katy Perry the hives. so it is with every intention for gaga to boldly amp up her anecdotes, strange use of metaphors (unicorns, bloody Mary, muscle bikes, oh my), religious obsessions (“i’ll dance with my hands above my head like Jesus”) and adventurous leaps into hypnotic choruses. she also engages in more musical risks by mixing bumping club beats with an overload of Eighties pop, epic rock and…need we say it…more Madonna. Certainly the title track – bearing all the familiar vibes of Madonna’s “Express yourself” – garners the most attention for becoming one of the gayest gay anthems to hit the pop charts since diana ross’s 1980 coming-out hit (“don’t be a drag, just be a queen”), but it’s far from being crowned the album’s glorious moment. the Elton John-pacing of “you and i,” co-produced by Mutt Lunge, places the glitzy glitter gal right in the heart of nashville soul. it’s a very different wardrobe for her, but one that proves she has the gutsy pipes to tackle a southern rock ballad. “bad Kids” is a delicious mash-up of hard aggressive ‘90’s dub bass with a breeze of Madonna pop on the chorus. and “the Edge of glory” leaves open space for Clarence Clemons to blow his sax as if he was giving gaga her own “Jungleland.” she also bends the ear of the dance world with more disarming genre-bending strategies, like bollywood and “bad romance” remnants on “Judas,” like opera on the sloppy electros of “government hooker,” like trance club pounces akin to “Pokerface” and glimmers of the Eurythmics on “highway unicorn (road to Love).” Even “Electric Chapel” provides a sensible blend of ‘80’s rock and orgasmic Eurodisco. sometimes the experiments fall flat, particularly on “americano,” which slices Mexican guitar and the romantic strings of Latin music into a bad “alejandro” knockoff. but gaga isn’t afraid to bend the rules as she squeezes mind-blowing, ear-popping robotics into the echoes of Eighties guitar-fueled rock. gaga has unequivocally gone on the record to suggest that born this Way is the album of her career. that’s easy to say when you’re only two albums into your career. but it’s easy to believe her assessment. she works harder on this one to try to appeal to the masses and as strange as it sounds, it doesn’t sound like the disaster it should’ve been. somehow, someway gaga turns her wacky collage into an interesting, bewildering showcase of experimental disco that isn’t meant to satisfy dance floor novices. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “the Edge of glory,” “bad Kids,” “highway unicorn (road to Love),” “you and i”

MY CheMICAL rOMAnCe danger days: the true Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (reprise)

it’s tough being relevant as an emo band when subtler indie music has slowly replaced the last remnants of trL-inspired pop excesses, leaving even artsier bands like My Chemical romance with a true dilemma regarding stylistic direction. Coming off their first major success with the blistering, punkier three Cheers For sweet revenge, lead singer gerard Way and company responded with the emo rock-opera the black Parade, leaving fans and critics wondering how they could manage to top it all with their 2010 followup danger days: the true Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. unfortunately, it seems that MCr wasn’t really sure themselves, so they just made another concept album, this time with a blander blend of straight-up pop-rock, a less cohesive narrative, and lyrics that fail to resonate quite as they had before. the story this time around is that the band’s alter egos (as the titular Fabulous Killjoys) are living in a post-apocalyptic america, but the only real hint of this beyond the cover art is the occasional interlude by a snarky radio dJ whose colorful quips barely tie the whole theme together. so, after a quick introduction by dJ death defying, the band hits hard with their energetic first single, “na na na,” and its incessantly juvenile and repetitive refrain before heading on to the more-typical MCr track that is “bulletproof heart,” which despite its resemblance to earlier hits, lacks the same caliber of depth and conviction. scouring the wastes for a glimpse of hope, the two strongest tracks on danger days feature an evolved form of the raw, guttural vocals and urgent instrumental parts MCr fans have come to expect. as such, “Planetary (go!)”’s infectiously unbridled dance-rock and “destroya”’s tense combination of world percussion and rising minor-scale string lines stand out amongst a host of less-inspired tunes. danger days’ low points include the forgettable

“Party Poison,” the oddly-saccharine “summertime,” and the totally unjustifiable bonus track “Vampire Money,” which was written for one of the twilight films but added here (despite not relating to the theme at all) since MCr pulled out of the soundtrack deal. Furthermore, there is a noticeable omission of any true slow songs on danger days, even though the slower pacing made for a nice counterpoint to the band’s otherwise frantic riffing on previous albums. sure, the dJ interludes do offer some welcome respite, but they’re not featured enough to give the album the kind of effective dynamic contrast it needs. ultimately, while danger days does manage to be an acceptable pop-rock album, its change in stylistic direction for the band, unconvincingly presented concept, lack of lyrical depth, and inability to connect with the listener, makes it an unfortunate misstep for the outfit. thus, barring the chance that the band just needs one more shot at reinventing itself, this might be a sign that MCr’s fictional death in the black Parade might have actually been less fictional than the band intended. ryan burruss

sPIn thIs! “Planetary (go!),” “destroya”

FLeet FOXes helplessness Blues (Bella union/sub Pop)

in the first couple of seconds of hearing Fleet Foxes’ helplessness blues, your ears would tell you that you’re listening to Mumford & sons with a flogging towards a psychedelic beatles epiphany. Fleet Foxes took on the task of fusing americana with simon & garfunkle folk pop on their debut LP, but this time around – on helplessness blues – robin Pecknold opens up his soul and the lower cavity of his heart to create captivating poetry about self-discovery and

life’s unanswered questions while trying to create some kind of transcendence to hope. that’s because Pecknold decides to be Jacob on the altar, laying his ego aside to place his feelings on the frontline. but even with its interesting autobiographical architecture, helplessness blues is blessed with supple angelic boys’choir harmonies and glorified melodies. the music, sweltering in dylanesque, reaches a refinement of sweet romanticism on the surface while building its emotions on the backs of heartbreak and frustration. the eight-minute epic “the shrine/an argument” walks through the last stages of a failing relationship, pushing through walls of contemplation, anger and closure. With every emotional shift, the music makes a similar transition. songs like the title cut (“helplessness blues”) puts Pecknold in a dungeon of darkness, questioning his own destiny: “i was raised up believing i was somehow unique/Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes unique in each way you can see/and now after some thinking, i’d say i’d rather be/a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” these are all definitely sad feelings, adamantly carving out the poems about hopelessness, but these feelings feel real. Like soul searching in a very dylanesque kind of way. but dylan unmasked a great deal of proverbial chatter after babbling through verses loaded with mysteries. Pecknold chooses to gaze to the sky and camps out in his isolation. despite the weariness of the topics and the overcast of gloom, there is some upbeat melodic folk in the mix, particularly songs like “battery Kinzie” and “Lorelai.” and then there’s “blue spotted tail,” which glides like a heartfelt lullaby as Pecknold perfectly coos alongside a warm acoustic guitar. Pecknold does a remarkable job in not making his gloom look like doom. this is totally not a dido record. instead, Pecknold turns his helplessness into euphoric art. at the core, helplessness blues is a gorgeous record that feels effortless and almost timeless. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Montezuma,” “helplessness blues,” “Lorelai”



WArren hAYnes Man In Motion (stax/Concord)

LuPe FIAsCO Lasers

(1st & 15th/Atlantic)

LASER TAG Pop makeover looks good on hip-hop rapper it takes some pretty unexpected circumstances to turn an otherwise artsy and critically-adored rapper into a pop artist overnight, but such is the case with Lupe Fiasco’s third album, Lasers, complete with its frequent pop synth lines and dance beats, overly accessible lyrics and general laizzez-faire attitude. but despite the reasons for the change and though this may let down serious fans, the album is actually a pretty strong entry into the world of pop rap and might be well received by an unbiased set of ears. Lasers begins with the down-tempo filter-swept piano lines of the melancholy “Letting go,” before establishing the tone for the rest of the album with its army of synths and a strong focus on melody. in fact, short of arguably one or two songs, the rest of the album’s tracks feature prominent vocal lines, either by Lupe himself or his guest vocalists, lending much to Lasers’ strong pop vibe and de-emphasis on rapping. yet, while Lupe’s trademark socially-charged lyrics have been toned down, tracks like “Words i never said” and “state run radio” do touch on heavier issues amidst Lupe’s complaints about the record industry, but it’s the striking “all black Everything’’s admittedly overly-utopian view of a racism-free world atop a 50’s-inspired orchestral setting that really hits the lyrical sweet spot, at least in terms of creative wishful thinking. Elsewhere, much of the lyrical content fails to stray too far from the tried-and-true pop rap trio of self-aggrandizement, letting loose and crooning to the ladies, but again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing here. Musically, the album successfully balances between occasional moreacoustic, piano-driven numbers with some extremely synth-heavy tracks like “break the Chain” with its muted trance sawtooth synths and the spring break-ready anthem “i don’t Wanna Care right now.” although the acoustic songs break the album’s overarching futuristic theme, tracks like “till i get there” with its laidback “just another day” vibe and the album’s mournful yet positive tribute “never Forget you” lend a little more of that warm, human element to an otherwise technologically-cold album. Lasers’ lead single, “the show goes on,” surprisingly samples the 2004 Modest Mouse hit “Float on,” and though this might seem a questionably cheap move to gain instant accessibility, the track’s merging of an already memorable song with a light-hearted party vibe proves to be hard to get out of your head. at the end of the day, Lasers is probably not the album die-hard Lupe Fiasco fans were hoping for, as it lacks the lyrical depth and caliber of instrumental production of his previous releases, but as a guilty pleasure feel-good hip-hop album, it easily surpasses much of its competition. thus, for fans who expect a little more ground-breaking from their rapper of choice, they’ll just have to wait until Lupe’s originally-intended final album LupE.n.d. finally gets the thumbs-up from the artist’s contract-holding higher ups over at atlantic. until then, try not to be too hard on the guy. ryan burruss

sPIn thIs! “Letting go,” “the show goes on,” “all black Everything”

gov’t Mule founder and former allman brother guitarist Warren haynes isn’t entirely out of his domain on Man in Motion, his first outing for revived soul label stax. he still loves his extended jams and he’s not laying off of the fuzzy guitar spells. but with a deluxe cast of power players including drummer raymond Weber, organist ian McLagan and Meters’ bassist george Porter, Jr., haynes does pour a lot of gutsy soul into his Memphis tribute, as if he’s revisiting old times or doing what he’s been holding off for years. the seven-minute title cut sets the pace with its Johnnie taylor horns and his bob seger-meetsMichael Mcdonald vocals. as the vamp swings along, the song focuses heavily on meaty instrumental solos and horn blasts. that pattern seems to document the entire album. it becomes a bit predictable after a period of time, but the jams are so soulfully funky and unequivocally raw that it’s impossible to not bust a sweat to the grooves. songs like “sick of My shadow” and the al green/hi-sounding “river’s gonna rise” all play with sweaty juke joint blues and Memphis r&b as if it’s a long-lost booker t. & the M.g.’s record. the mood never slumbers, although a cover of booker t and William bell’s “Every day Will be Like a holiday” and a soul-searching hymn “save Me” does surfaces. but Man in Motion is one of those records that spins like a good pre-funk soul vinyl record where only three cuts can only fit on one side. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Man in Motion,” “river’s gonna rise,” “Every day Will be Like a holiday”

terrain. “old alabama” pays homage to Eighties country star band alabama, solicits randy owen and Jeff Cook to a cameo appearance and even going for the classic “getty-up” shindig dance-off at the end. the music feels like traditional country in the more contemporary sense, but the stories are far from being predictable. on “a Man don’t have to die,” Paisley sings about a burning hell on Earth while adding heat to the baptist-styled “fire and brimstone” theology of the south. “Camouflage” cornily but peacefully masquerades an attack on the Confederate flag with a spirited uptempo jamboree (“Well, the stars and bars offend some folks and i guess i see why/but nowadays there’s still a way to show your southern pride”). the humid air of “remind Me,” a duet with Carrie underwood, adds sweet heat to unashamed romance, while “Love her Like she’s Leavin’” gives heartfelt advice on how to keep the flames of a “happily-ever-after” romance alive. When spicing up the atmosphere after a barrage of seriousness, he goes for occasional whisks of humor. it’s quite comical hearing famed actor/director Clint Eastwood using his ‘dirty harry’ persona on a country instrumental that ties the tempo of heart’s “barracuda” and ZZ top’s attack with classic Western theme song music; on a song solely dedicated to him. at the end, Paisley tells him he’s done a “good job” and Eastwood, a man of many hats, replies with a sigh of relief: “thanks, man. now i’ve tried everything.” during the entire ride of barroom visits, Cracker barrel pit stops and highway i-65 cruising, Paisley is a pro, vocally belting like a southern stud and churning his guitar solos when needed. the album is a goodhearted effort, loaded with southern hospitality and a nice. the album does gallop longer than most would anticipate and Paisley oftentimes doesn’t provide enough vocal attack on songs which are overshadowed sonically by the merits of his dynamo band, but this is Country Music is a honest and respectable piece of work chronicling the finer points of a genre that still struggles with its misconceptions and exaggerations. Paisley does a damn good job at helping outsiders understand it and insiders revel in it. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “old alabama,” “Love her Like she’s Leavin’,” “remind Me”

BrAd PAIsLeY this Is Country Music (Arista nashville)

IrOn & WIne Kiss each Other Clean (Warner Bros.)

“do you like to drink a cold one on the weekend and get a little loud?,” brad Paisley sings during the title track’s opening line of his collective tribute to “the wonderful world of country music.” it’s just one of the quirky realities that makes country music swell with imagination and has proven to be a storytelling portrait of southern pride. as the song swirls through a maze of enchanting ups (“do you wish someone had the nerve to tell that stupid boss of y’urs to shove it next time he yells at you?”) and downs (“Well you’re not supposed to say the word “cancer” in a song…”), Paisley finally crafts a majestic five-minute song that unfolds like a 100-mile adventure through the tennessee Valley. thankfully his ninth album, this is Country Music, goes beyond the backsides of tennessee. it picks up a few ageless hitch-hikers along the way (blake shelton, Carrie underwood, sheryl Crow, Marty stuart) and tries to trace down stories from every mountain and valley decorating the southern

Listening through each of iron & Wine’s four fulllength releases to-date, one could argue that singer/songwriter sam beam’s intention was a careerspanning expansion of his sonic palette and stylistic range, as each successive album since 2002’s the Creek drank the Cradle’s lo-fi, one-man crooning has evolved almost as though beam were teaching his audience the history of recorded folk music. While the evolution found in 2007’s the shepherd’s dog with its peppier tunes featuring a full band might well have been as far as beam would take things, his newest release, Kiss Each other Clean, has advanced his style much further with the addition of synthesizers (albeit of the retro-70’s variety), odd auxiliary percussion instruments, studio effects, saxophones and layered choral vocal harmonies, offering listeners an entirely new take on iron & Wine, and probably earning him-

himself a much wider (but still tasteful) fan base. this said, Kiss Each other Clean, manages to have many distinct sounds between its ten tracks, from minimally-repetitive slow-burners and early 70’s folk pop to odd electronic hybrid pieces and funkier up-tempo rock, all arranged in such a way as to keep any one style from getting old. in fact, the most obvious stylistic omission from the album is that of beam’s standard acoustic ballad, which here is represented only by the poignant “godless brother in Love,” with even this incarnation of his established style showing signs of evolution, featuring the addition of a piano and one-man choir along with the expected constant acoustic guitar plucking, all with a noticeably higher grade of studio production. While the 70’s folk pop tunes do show a marked change for beam’s output, more interesting (with regards to instrumental texture) are the more experimental pieces, best represented by the drum machine-driven and slinky “Monkeys uptown” and the eclectically odd “rabbit Will run.” Lyrically though, the album’s highlights are the repetitive bookends “Walking Far From home” and the two-parter “your Fake name is good Enough For Me,” both of which feature a slowly-evolving sound world where vocal ostinatos force the lyrics into the spotlight, giving beam’s creative verses a chance to truly shine with their many images so unique and descript as to nearly force the listener to take beam’s fantastical trip with him. Clearly, iron & Wine’s new effort has very little in common with his earlier work, and as such, longtime fans who aren’t quite ready for such a diverse and experimental album might fail to warm to Kiss Each other Clean, but for the rest of us, this is truly a magnificent achievement, offering both lyrical and musical depth yet simultaneously pushing the current indie folk trend forward with its sensible marriage of retro and modern technology and instrumentation. the only question that remains is whether beam will continue this unique musical journey through history with his next record or simply return to his roots, possibly for fear of losing touch with his base. ryan burruss

sPIn thIs! “Walking Far From home,” “godless brother in Love,” “your Fake name is good Enough For Me”

JILL sCOtt the Light Of the sun (Warner Bros.)

on the indie soul label of hidden beach, Jill scott rose to r&b fame as an unapologetic neo-soul princess, gifted with sharp poetry skills and a wit for sensual and self-empowering lyrics. now she’s spreading her wings for bigger ambitions and a greater chunk of popularity with her inked deal with Warner bros. and makes a few changes in the process on the Light of the sun, her first LP with Warner bros. Jill scott fans will greatly appreciate the familiarities of ole. she approaches “so in Love” like a connect-thedots replica of “golden” but it luckily survives those easy comparisons with its Philly disco beats and with her guest anthony hamilton utilizing his al green crooning. but she breaks her familiar conventions by allowing Eve to carry the burden of the hip-hopspiked “shame” and further allowing golden rap beatboxing from doug E. Fresh on “all Cried out redux.” but she bounces back into her dreamy r&b when the exhaustive nine-minute “Le booM Vent

suite” actually splits itself into two segments; the first sounding like a potential “ba-da-baa-baa” Mcdonald’s jingle and the other sliding into Erykah badu balladry. “so gone [What My Mind says]” sways with the bedroom glamour of raheem deVaughn’s “you” while Paul Wall turns the heat up several notches. it seems as if the edgier beats have taken control of scott’s musical direction until she treks back to her iylana Vazant soul searching (“hear My Call,” “When i Wake up,” “Womanifesto”) on the second half. For the most part, the album title feels as if its misleading. the journey points to the light of the sun…and the moon. While scott beams with the seriousness of a mainstream r&b act on the front end, she walks back into the comforts of her easy-listening, late-night r&b on the next half. only thing seriously summery on the Light of the sun is the hazy, steamy spike Lee ‘Mo’ better’ blues of “rolling hills,” where scott lets loose a very humid, 100 ° ballad using the same ingredients of d’angelo’s “brown sugar.” J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Man in Motion,” “river’s gonna rise,” “Every day Will be Like a holiday”

LedIsI Pieces of Me (Verve Forecast)

With a voice as big and eccentric as Chaka and with three albums under her arms, oakland singer Ledisi young is still considered an underground r&b girl wonder. she should be the next best thing since Mary J. blige, but hit songs aren’t available to her as they should be, as if she’s not hip to being cool. rather than going for explosive Whitney-esque material or big ballads with substance, she normally opts for smooth, underdeveloped inspirational numbers. Certainly her aspirations may lead her to an eventual full-length gospel album, where she feels most at home as proven on her holiday LP it’s Christmas, but Verve is still giving her a chance to become as competitive and enormous as Keyshia Cole or Jennifer hudson. one thing’s for certain, Pieces of Me, Ledisi’s fourth Verve release, is a long way’s from her debut and a major improvement over her disappointing third record turn Me Loose. she comforts more of her more intimate, romantic side on juicy slow jams like the delicious standout “so into you” and the Jaheimsupported “stay together.” Ledisi sweats her hardest on slow-burning blues ballads like “hate Me,” where she eats the song up like a stax-seasoned steak cooked by Leela James. While being suspended in midair with a familiar Patti Labelle melody, the album’s title cut allows us a quick close-up of transparency of Ledisi’s insecurities and inner struggles. but with an album title alluring the ear’s into her most intimate and private matters to the effect of usher’s Confessions, Pieces of Me is overly decorated with Ledisi’s aspiring dreams of being a gospel singer. sure she’s jazzy in an Ella kind of way and heavy with aretha dramatics, but her love for inspirational ditties and hallmark movie anthems seems to get in the way of what was originally meant to be a personal album. “shine” uses a blend of old-school r&b and Karen Clark-sheard urban gospel, along with the mystery of bebe & CeCe Winans’ crossover ambiguity. “raise up,” using a gutsier roots-sounding instrumentation, follows in the same path. the Mary Jsounding “bravo,” possibly the album’s next single, is another obvious



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“HoW To Love,” LIL WaYne What? no rap here? Is Lil Wayne switching gears on us? Guess you could say so, but the emcee is doing a fine job playing with sade romantics.

“parTY roCK anTHem” Lmfao The Gordy boys take a page out of the Black eyed peas’ synth-bass party jams on this summer jam. It also helps to hear them conjuring the spunk of the Beasties.



“man In moTIon,” Warren HaYnes

The memphis soul on “man In motion” easily turns the Govt. mule creator into an al Green sidekick.




“THe edGe of GLorY,” LadY GaGa returning to pop magic, the fame monster discovers a sing-a-long chorus and pulls out yet another feel-good melody similar to “Bad romance.” The clever mutation of studio electronica and live instrumentation, including a Clarence Clemons’ sax solo, makes it a bit more more interesting. Could this be the sound of the future?


“Keep Your Head up,” andY Grammer encouraging lyrics are needed during a recession. and Grammer brings it on (“only rainbows after rain/The sun will always come again”). Like a cool glass of lemonade, the upbeat breezy melody makes it impossible to resist its timely message.

“(IT) feeLs so Good,” sTeven TYLer


“modern arT,” THe BLaCK LIps mark ronson has an ear for the vintage. Here he teleports The Black Lips back to rock n’ roll nirvana. The psychdelic drumming, fuzzy guitar riffs and Beach Boy tempo never fails to astonish.


“Good LIfe,” onerepuBLIC If Baywatch was in need of a new theme song, onerepublic’s “Good Life” would be a perfect replacement. dreamy atmsopheric, gentle whistles and marching band percussion highlight the breezy track.

Before aerosmith start working on that comeback record, their frontman’s gotta get that solo-pop monkey off his back. There’s hefty guitar and the occasional belting on board, but somehow the song sounds like Bon Jovi teaming up with the stones.


“THe sHoW Goes on,” Lupe fIasCo

a sped-up sample of modest mouse’s “float on” creates a brilliant contrast on the hipster’s encourager. The uplifting lyrics prove to be the perfect alternative to hip-hop’s ego-abstracted bragaddio. Instead of fiasco leaping into cocky rhymes about his bling-bling, he slips into dr. King theology: “Go on and put your hands up/When times are hard you stand up.”


of the

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Hear our Pick of the Litter in 5 June and July 2011 Jukebox at


“and You don’T sTop,” KeLLY prICe

“proGress,” BooKer T. Jones YIn Yames


“soul Limbo” guru cooks up a batch of his delicious organ and more of that stuff that hip-hop revelers are anxious to sample. another sidenote: Yin Yames never sounding so soulful.

“everY Teardrop Is a WaTerfaLL,” CoLdpLaY fist pumping beats, u2-esque guitar arpeggios and dream-pop tactics adds more adrenaline to the alt-rock band’s arena-rock extravagance.

The r&B songstress finally gets her groove back. on an uptempo number. With War’s “Galaxy” transplanted into the grooves, price finally brings her own spirits to the B.Y.o.B. sasha fierce’s got some major competition now.


Here’s some amazing chart performances from last issues’ ‘Pick of the Litter.’ thE stroKEs “under Cover of darkness” #12/alternative songs, #23/rock songs niCKi MianJ “Moment 4 Life” #1/rap songs, #13/hot 100, #18 Pop songs adELE “rolling in the deep” #1/hot 100 (7 weeks), #1 adult Contemporary, #15 rock songs thE bLaCK KEys ‘tighten up” #1/rock songs (12 weeks), #1/alternative songs (10 weeks), #87/hot 100 CagE thE ELEPhant ‘shake Me down” #1/rock songs, #78/hot 100, #1/alternative songs



but does a better job at addressing a broader audience outside the four walls of the church. but the over-abundance of inspiration, continuing with “bgty (be good to yourself),” quenches all the love-making of the album, making it even more difficult to view Ledisi as a 21st century descendent of an anita or Phyllis hyman. recording a gospel album, where she truly belongs, has to be somewhere in her near future. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “so into you,” “hate Me”

AMOs Lee Mission Bell (Blue note)

it lengthy, is easily the album’s most sincere cut, while “Flower” showcases Lee’s knack for traditional soul with nuanced lead vocals, soulful background vocals and that signature trace of organ. “stay With Me” and “out of the Cold” are solid, but feel second-rate in comparison to predecessors. the brief “Jesus” seems at home in neo-folk circles, given its simplicity and “roots-driven” sound. the international sound of “hello again” is intriguing for a featured trumpet solo alone, but never quite achieves a truly ‘accomplished’ level. “Learned a Lot” exploits Lee’s superb sense of songwriting, as does “Cup of sorrow,” an alt-country cut that suits Lee’s unique voice superbly. “Clear blue Eyes” features veteran Lucinda Williams, but despite the vocal chemistry, the duet falls ever so short. “behind Me now” and “El Camino (reprise),” featuring Willie nelson, are average, never embodying the benchmark set by the best. overall, Mission bell is a mixed bag. there are no overt misses, but there’s very few distinctive hits. Enjoyable without ever being revolutionary, the disc is a solid, if flawed effort from the singer/songwriter. brEnt FauKLnEr

sPIn thIs! singer/songwriter amos Lee’s career could be characterized as “under-the-radar,” even up to the release of fourth studio effort Mission bell. the new album outperformed commercial expectations, landing a number one bow on the billboard album Chart, garnering the underrated folk singer a slightly higher profile. it’s a solid effort that matches its grand bow, but at times comes over as a ‘safe’ effort. Lee never fails to pour out the folksy-soul laden vocals he’s been regarded for, though the material sometimes lacks distinction and memorability to match the unique timbre of his voice. “El Camino” opens the effort with traditional amos Lee fare - acoustic guitar, piano, upright bass and drums. his vocals are restrained, but exude great musicianship given the thoughtful tone of the lyrics. “Windows are rolled down” proves to be more accomplished, reminding one of a indiefolk cut that might appear on a bright Eyes album (think Cassadaga). Cultivating an excellent fusion of rock, pop, and folk, the tune leads a charge of capable cuts. “Violin,” albeit

“Windows are rolled down,” “Violin,” “Flower,” “Jesus”


gled out finally by a pair of berry gordy descendants with more talent than rockwell. it has the feel good buzz of “i gotta Feeling” and the booty-poppin’ silliness of “boom boom Pow,” even as the boys take turns spitting out rhymes that mimics the rebelling youthfulness of early beastie boys. the entire ten track odyssey surrounds LFaMo’s comic book universe of 24-hour partying, unapologetic Jerry springer fun. but like a bad hangover, the galactic Milky Way sounds and pouncing beats seem to bring on the migraines and some of the melodies (i.e. “sorry For Party rocking”) start to crumble at the seams. after a while, you start to pray ‘when will this ride come to an end?’ some songs are better than others: “With you” feels like a worthy house-disco mix; “take it to the hole,” with busta rhymes guesting, inserts ‘90’s Miami bass coolness into a never-ending sample of Pac-Man on the run and the auto-tuned “one day” puts inches away from Enrique iglesias dance-pop. if taken in moderation, the fun will be there. When overdosed, be prepared to hurl up everything you swallowed last night. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Party rock anthem,” “With you,” “take it to the hole”



sorry For Party rocking




Like a non-stop dance soundtrack, LMFao’s debut album falls somewhere between Mike Posner and the black Eyed Peas. they aren’t total rip-offs of the aforementioned, although the L.a. duo’s futuristic synth electronica and trancelike autotune feels more suited for Xbox video games like geometry Wars. the summer smash “Party rock anthem” is definitely the super glue that holds the album together. there’s no mistaken that the black Eyed Peas has been sin-

Kentucky-formed My Morning Jacket’s seventh album Circuital finds the band continually synthesizing multiple musical styles. Frontman Jim James composes/produces a set of ten solid selections sans filler: opener “Victory dance” gets ‘right to business’ gradually building up, eventually ascending to full, ‘glorified’ fruition. the title track, “Circuital” features a groovy four-on-the-floor thumping beat, while the plaintive simplicity of “Wonderful (the Way i Feel)” is epit-

ALL-AMERICAN HERO southern singer chooses easy-listening pop rather than his usual blues


MArC BrOussArd Marc Broussard (Atlantic)

ou’d think that singer/songwriter Marc broussard was auditioning for Chris Evans’ double for the summer film Captain america if you took one glance at the album cover of broussard’s self-titled album. actually, it’s a pretty cool image: a leather-clad broussard sprinting forward with a flying american flag in his possession, but it’s an image that doesn’t technically fit his kind of bayou soul. although his voice and preferred musical style is linked to the swampy heartlands of Louisiana – one of america’s greatest musical frontiers of jazz, blues and funk – most musicologists tend to wrap their preconceived notions of patriotic music around bruce springsteen, Lee greenwood and fiddle-fueled folk. but broussard’s distinctive soulful voice wraps so delicately around just about any type of music thrown at him. soul purists want him all to themselves, but give him a soaring popera track from Michael buble, a Lenny Kravitz guitar-drizzled rock jam (“bleeding heart”) or a Mavis staples gospel-blues drencher (“Eye on the Prize”), he can just about do it. Like adele, broussard duplicates notes that can only be accessed from the depths of the soul. and on Marc broussard’s self-titled event, his second for atlantic, he does just that while sifting through a nice assortment of american music. the album opener, “Lucky,” walks in the footsteps of hall & oates ‘70’s soul, while broussard’s vocals soothes the bruno Mars beats of “Cruel.” the most gratifying moment for broussard is when he delicately touches the songwriting grandeur of John Mayer on “Let it all out.” When he sweeps into his falsetto on the chorus last line (“say everything to me”), his voice places tingling sensations to the spine. it is obvious that some tracks fail to stand out as frontrunners. the Eighties leftover pop of “only Everything” and the lyrical blah-ness of “yes Man” feel like salvageable demos in search of an extra writer. but even with broussard’s mistakes of trying to do it all on one album, like steve rogers before the super soldier serum, he is justified in his right to dash into the sunset with old glory. he’s just in need of some additional super powers before the next battle. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Lucky,” “Let it all out,” “Cruel”

omized by James’s memorable, no-frills chorus (“i feel so wonderful, wonderful/wonderful the way i feel...”). “outta My system” exceptionally bridges country and indie-rock while standout “you Wanna Freak out” features a fiery distorted guitar solo and a palette of tasteful sounds. Penultimate cut “slow slow tune” features electric piano giving the band even more ‘soul credibility.’ superb all-in-all, Circuital, continues the band’s ascent as one of rock’s most captivating bands. brEnt FauLKnEr

tween songs, so if the listener doesn’t warm to the sound of a few of the tracks, they probably won’t like the album at large. still, the production is topnotch, the musicianship continues to hover well above that of their peers in the genre, and the lyrics remain interesting throughout. no,Vices & Virtues doesn’t quite match the grandeur and quirkiness of the band’s highly successful debut, but if you weren’t a fan of the experimental Pretty.odd. and its stylized ode to 60’s pop, Vices & Virtues is a return to form that won’t disappoint. ryan burruss

sPIn thIs! “dance,” “Wonderful (the Way i Feel),” “outta My system,” “you Wanna Freak out”

PAnIC! At the dIsCO Vices & Virtues

(decaydance/Fueled By ramen)

sPIn thIs! “Memories,” “trade Mistakes,” “the ballad of Mona Lisa”

the Cars break 20 year spell - and they haven’t lost a beat BrItneY sPeArs Femme Fatale (Jive)

splitting up a band over artistic differences after two well-received albums might seem a strange and potentially career-ending decision for a young band like Las Vegas’ Panic! at the disco, but judging from the quality of their recent third album Vices & Virtues, their future should no longer hang in the balance. though 2009’s exit of bassist Jon Walker and guitarist ryan ross left the current duo without their primary songwriter/lyricist (ross), lead singer brendon urie and drummer spencer smith seem plenty qualified to continue the band’s brand of highly orchestrated pop rock, returning to a style more akin to their first release, a Fever you Can’t sweat out, than the retro, beatles-inspired follow-up, Pretty.odd. though the cleverly verbose lyrics of their debut might have been heavily toned-down for Vices & Virtues, the album is rife with Panic’s trademark introductions, intermissions and instrumental arrangements, so fans should find themselves back in familiar territory with the new release. the album’s opener, “the ballad of Mona Lisa,” should ring a bell with its dramatic celesta line, highly narrative lyrics, and plucky strings before opening up into a high energy anthem straight out of the band’s instantly recognizable playbook. From here, the album’s inspiration wanes with less memorable numbers like “Let’s Kill tonight” and the dance-themed “hurricane” before arriving at the album’s strongest block of songs. “Memories” shows off the duo’s talents for oscillating between dramatic tension and release, while “trade Mistakes” starts slowly but builds to the type of soaring melodies urie has become known for, all atop the expected highly-produced bed of orchestral timbres and energizing guitar palm muting. the energy only lets up slightly with the call-and-response anthem “ready to go” (complete with a nod to “baba o’reilly” in the breakdown) before settling down with the lilting ballad “always” and its pretty brass and percussion orchestrations beneath finger-picked acoustic guitar. the last portion of Vices features the slightly too Fall out boy-ish “the Calendar” before heading into a solid conclusion with a pair of the album’s most eclectic songs, first with the quasi-gypsy vibe of “sarah smiles,” followed by the obvious closer “nearly Witches,” complete with a French-singing children’s choir and a half-time coda befitting such a bombastic and successful pop album. in fact, if there were a weakness to Vices & Virtues, it would be the relatively scant variety be-


a lot has changed since britney spears blew us away with her best-selling Circus album. With Ke$ha and gaga running the electro-pop scene, and with r&b and hip-hop now bending the rules to accommodate the bass-heavy, experimental synths of the club circuit, spears has no other choice but to leap into the fold to produce an entire dance record. as predictable as things seem on the surface, the pop princess, with seven no. 1 records resting comfortably on her shoulder, also knows that she’s just one of the only survivors of the “platinum record” age and usually champions the idea of innovating the pop world with more trickery and bio-lab fun. the burden to return strong, to prove she’s not just a follower and the even tougher responsibility to beat economists’ projections challenges the album making process. so, it makes sense that spears is surrounded by the heavyweights in pop music on Femme Fatale, her seventh studio record. dr. Luke, Max Martin cull out over half of the album’s tracks, while will.i.am squeezes himself in for one performance track on the flirtatious, roboticized “big Fat bass.” having the right producers is only half the battle, but spears luckily lands on Plymouth rock as she transforms into a studio lab rat on top of the catchiest, dance-pop of her career so far. “slave” and “toxic” bended the rules, falling to play it safe in the eye of pop purists, but the grooves on Femme Fatale are almost impossible to shake. Ke$ha contributes “til the World Ends,” the party opener with a singable “oh-oh-oh” chant of a chorus and indents of “We r Who We r.” the song slides right into “hold it against Me,” an emotional roller coaster loaded with cat-and-mouse teases and Janet Jackson energy. throughout the disc, spears’ voice goes through a myriad of transformations, from black Eyed Peas’ robotics to Madonna coys, from autotune slave to toni braxton swooning. it’s full of fun and entertainment, even if it feels as if spears is some top secret experiment in a producer’s workshop. but spears is well endowed with big melodies, catchy grooves and an euphoric dispensation of Eurodisco: “Criminal” feels like MJ pop on Middle-Eastern vibes; “trouble for Me” and “i Wanna go” sounds like hi-nrg donna summer; “seal it With a Kiss,” the heaviest of the Madonna spawns, is delicious enough to get a single’s release date. amazingly enough, the content documented the deluxe edition


lashback trip courtesy of dr. Emmet “doc” brown’s time machine to the nu Wave innocence of the Eighties: With a slight motivational push taken from duran duran’s 2010 comeback LP (all you need is now), the Cars are back. and they should be. before essentially breaking up as a band in 1988, the five-piece boston band redefined nu Wave with their heavy usage of rockabilly, powerpop and synth-driven garage rock, even influencing modern-rock bands like the strokes and Weezer. their biggest success surrounds hits like “shake it up” and “Magic,” but none of their Eighties output toppled the glorious adult contemporary apparition of “drive.” two decades later since their last album, door to door (1987), and after some of the members teamed up with todd rundgren with the hopes of reliving the glory years from each of their catalogs and after mourning the loss of bassist benjamin orr, the remaining members of the Cars (ric ocasek, greg hawkes, Elliot Easton and david robinson) are hoping to pick up where they left off. at first listen, Move Like this is exactly what the Cars is most remembered for. Like a mad rush of roxy Music and buddy holly, the tentrack collection opens up with effective pop-laden excavations on opening tracks “blue tip” and “too Late.” remarkably the Cars handle most of the album’s production with grace, allowing Jacknife Lee (r.E.M., snow Patrol) access to five of the album cuts. although lead singer rick ocasek handles all the lead vocals in his traditional david bowie-meets-Lou reed style, it’s hard not to miss orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. his dreamy vocals, best recalled on “drive,” and the absence of smooth aC filler leaves the album feeling more like the nonstop upbeat jam session it technically is. but “soon,” a mild-mannered peaceful tune, happens to trace some of the ambiance and romanticism of “drive” (“When the starry night is left to dawn/the thought of you just keeps me dreaming on”) and saves the album from being a total adrenaline rush. after awhile, ocasek’s sleepy vocals seem to drag the album’s tempo, slowing up delicious grooves like “drag on Forever,” but he does a fine job on the album’s first half where he pulls off performances reminiscent of MtV’s golden era, particularly on “Free” and the giddy oxymoron of “sad song,” where the upbeat cheerfulness of the bleepy synths and engaging rhythms contradict the nature of the obvious song title. some listeners will probably start questioning why ocasek didn’t assert some form of magnetism to auto-tune, or at least used some extra time on his pitch. With a little extra vocal homework from the Cars’ frontman, songs like “too Late,” where the band uses classic rock ‘n roll harmonies and a solid locomotive arrangement, would have easily transcended into an instant radio gem. but it is what it is – the Cars effectively sound as if they hadn’t missed one beat. unlike most bands who normally call it quits under unfortunate circumstances, they sound like one unit, performing effortlessly and revived. on a reunion album that never should have been from the beginning, coming from ocasek’s declarations of “never” back in 1997, the Cars break through the barrier of impossibility to reintroduce themselves two decades later and to make up for lost time. J MatthEW Cobb

the CArs

Move Like this (hear Music)

sPIn thIs! “sad song,” “soon,” “too Late”


edition is just as great as the content that made the first round. of the four extra tracks, “he about to Lose Me,” a slowerpaced token in the bunch, flirts with toni braxton lower register and sexy strolls. “selfish” puts spears behind the wheels of a sex drive akin to rihanna (“boom-boom, baby, pick you up in my Mercedes/i’mma be a lil’ selfish”). on Femme Fatale, britney doesn’t really re-invent the wheel. instead, she’s playing with all the gadgetry used on the predominant acid-trippy productions of the dance world. dr. Luke and Max Martin, who have worked with spears on previous records, knew exactly what spears needed the most on her next effort. aside from the futuristic disco, spears is treated with a satisfying dance record that compliments, even outshining, the star’s vocal performance. Looking back at the big hits that satisfied the studio 54 generation, disco records were nothing more than a producer’s canvas. as great as Femme Fatale accomplishes its mission of being a satisfying dance record, this is more a Max Martin and dr. Luke project than it is britney’s. the returning diva might have the marquee action, but the Martin and Luke combo, along with the other producers, are the ones that should be taking a bow. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “till the World Ends,” “i Wanna go,” “he about to Lose Me”

nKOtBsB nKOtBsB (Columbia/sony)

the powerband superteam nKotbsb is a dream come true for anxious screaming girl groupies and fan club members. it’s not the

first time two big bands have come together to form a Justice League joint tour, but the pristine organization for the combining of new Kids on the block and backstreet boys, two of the most popular pop bands of the 1990’s, is by far the most attractive and commercial to date. it’s not like the two groups were ever considered rivals, since the lifespan of new Kids started and stalled years before the backstreets started their trek. but despite the cloudy days of today’s touring and the slouching economy, the reality of these bands merging together are as congealing as peanut butter-and-jelly is on bread. both need each other and the end results will probably be more effective than any tour they’ve concocted during the height of their powers. using the r&b swagger of new Edition and the rhythm pop appeal of hall & oates, both bands culled out collections of music that celebrate the consciousness of ‘90’s music and paved the way for latter-day boy bands. because of their triumphs, they capitalize on their “Moment 4 Life” tour with a single-disc retrospective, highlighting five tracks from each band. on the surface, nKotbsb is designed to be a concert souvenir rather than a “greatest hits” replacement. Essentially, it works and rewards fans of both groups with their finer moments, particularly backstreet boys, whose glossy soundtrack seems to have survived the tests of time. “Everybody (backstreet back’s)” still has its dancefloor edginess and Max Martin’s “as Long as you Love Me” and “i Want it that Way,” with their bubbly feel-good nature, showcases the backstreet boys’ savvy for eternal pop radio airplay. the back-to-back musical chairs are probably the set’s major drawback. although the procession of the songs are designed to give off premature vibes of what one would expect during the live tour, the pacing from an early new Kids tune like 1988’s “Please don’t go girl” with Maurice starr’s dated productions and Joe Mcintyre’s pre-puberty vocals into 1999’s “i Want it that Way” feels like an unfair father versus son rivalry. the pace only is interrupted when the closing three tracks emerge to the

surface. the originals are a delight to fans of the high-profile event, bringing both bands the dream opportunity to perform together. although dreamy on the surface, they slack with originality and with the spunk of modern-day prowess. “all in My head” operates as the subtle farewell love ballad, while “don’t turn out the Lights,” not to be confused with Enrique iglesias’ song, gives the supergroup the exact same swagger of Jason derulo’s “in My head.” the nKotbsb megamix should only be played for Vegasminded purposes. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “don’t turn out the Lights,” “i Want it that Way”


few familiar covers (Lauryn hill’s “Everything is Everything,” gnarls barkley “Crazy”), but it is Jones’ compositions that drive the heartbeat of the record’s sensationalism. “the hive” kicks out delicious u2esque guitar arpeggios, “down in Memphis” gets the green light on a riveting al green imitation and “rent Party” sounds like the roots working overtime. some of the songs are colored with lyrics, courtesy from guest spots from sharon Jones (“representing Memphis”) and Lou reed (“the bronx”). but at the very core, the album plays like a funky, raw dance record that proves the heavyweight chef has a few more “green onions” to cook. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Walking Papers,” Progress,” “rent Party”

BOOKer t. JOnes the road From Memphis VArIOus ArtIsts rave On Buddy holly


on 2008’s Potato hole, organ virtuoso and legendary stax sound architect booker t. Jones returned to the studio after a long break from recording. the move placed him in familiar environments via funk-soaked instrumentals, although it hardly addressed the vigor and spunk of his former M.g.’s sessions. the road From Memphis corrects some of those mistakes. despite the glowing album title, the session weren’t cut in Memphis, but Jones could’ve easily fooled you into thinking he did. With ahmir ?uestlove thompson and the roots on board and daptone records’ pro gabriel roth handling the boards, the road From Memphis sounds like the album that got away from the stax vault. Jams like “Walking Papers” and the smooth ‘70’s r&b of “Progress,” in which My Morning Jacket’s yin yames guests, prove to be rewarding to Jones’ legacy. he dips his fingers in the waters of a

(hear Music/Fantasy)

in a relatively short period of time, roughly three years, buddy holly had made such an impact on the face of rock ‘n roll with his swinging mix of rhythm-and-blues and Elvis-influenced rockabilly, which led broke ground for many of the british invasion contributors. although his life was severed from a tragic plane accident in 1959, holly’s music is still being emulated in indie rock bands and nostalgic acts today. rave on buddy holly, a labor of love orchestrated by starbucks, Fantasy and Concord Music, aims to keep holly’s memory fresh on the american conscious. With a hefty track list of nineteen tracks assembled and a versatile slate of rock heroes on board (including My Morning Jacket, Florence +

RAMBLIN’ MAN Off the heels of the Voice, country boy pulls out fifth disc


lake shelton’s newest LP red river blue aggressively plays up shelton’s charming personality and sense of humor. a solid country album, the effort never comes off ‘innovative,’ but features some solid standouts. “honey bee,” the ‘selling point,’ opens the effort brightly finding shelton expressing ‘expectations’ of the relationship to his lover (“you be my soft and sweet/i’ll be your strong and steady...”). the proceeding “ready to roll” possesses some crossover appeal with a soulful-pop groove while the honky-tonk influenced “get some” finds shelton at his most buoyant and humorous. tracks like “drink on it,” “good ole boys,” and the ludicrous “hey” continue to play up ‘country boy swag,’ while closer “red river blue” slows the tempo, aiming for sincerity. While “honey bee” may be the main attraction, red river blue features a solid ‘supporting cast’ of cuts that hardly disappoint. brEnt FauLKnEr

sPIn thIs! “honey bee,” “get some,” “red river blue”




BLAKe sheLtOn red river Blue (Warner Bros.)


the Machine, Lou reed and the strokes’ Julian Casablancas), most of the journey follows the album’s basic expectations – just do a good enough job to make the fifty minutes sound like a tribute, not a nightmare. but some stand out a bit more than others: Kid rock sneaks a sprawling southern countrymeets-Motown formula into “Well all right,” Cee Lo green’s ninty-three second whirlwind of “you’re so square” works up a brief dancing frenzy, Patti smith delivers a heavenly interpretation to “Words of Love” and the black Keys successfully transforms “dearest” into a potential missing track from their brothers album. some of holly’s closest ambassadors also show up to add their respects including graham nash (“raining in My heart”) and Paul McCartney (“it’s so Easy”), who currently owns holly’s publishing catalog. With all the all-stars assembled and a heavy load of tracks to scramble through, rave on buddy holly looks like an exhausting tribute on paper. but the average song assembled ticks at two-minutes and a half. Just look at the event as a commercial-less telethon paying tribute to a star worthy of the hoopla. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Well all right,” “dearest,” “baby, you’re so square”

KeLLY PrICe Kelly (My Block/Malaco)

overnight, Kelly Price went from r&b sensation to a certifiable candidate for Vh1’s “Where are they now.” in the 1990’s, she sung with Whitney houston on “heartbreak hotel,” with notorious b.i.g. on “Mo

Money Mo Problems” and rode on the backs of a r&b ballad that proved to be a radio smash (“Friend of Mine”), but her career started to slowly dissipate as the next generation of r&b divas (i.e, beyonce’, Monica, Faith Evans) nabbed her limelight. she even tried to reinvent her career around a gospel album, 2006’s this is Who i am, which looked like a desperate attempt to cash in on the “secular-goes-gospel” movement sparked by dave hollister, Kenny Lattimore & Chante Moore and sWV’s Coko. Price is still rebuilding her camp on Kelly, her first r&b disc in eight years. she’s on a smaller label (Jackson, Mississippi-based, southern blues and soul/catalog label Malaco records) and passes production duties to Mary Mary’s longtime producer Warryn Campbell and shep Crawford, but the reinvention works in Price’s favor. the content is beefier, heartier and loaded with bale of rich soul and urban r&b. it’s the kind of foundation that works best on her Whitney/aretha pipes. on a much more remarkable note, Kelly finds the singer attacking almost everything synonymous to r&b’s ever-expanding timeline. she ogles with tweet’s sexy r&b (“himaholic”); “not My daddy” brings in Mint Condition’s stokley to take us back to the smooth contemporary r&b of the nineties; “speechless” flirts with Mariah Carey’s breathy r&b and Prince’s synth-powered productions; “Vexed” jams with honey Cone’s rhythms; “Lil sumnsumn” is defined in betty Wright sultriness and “the rain” floats like a diane Warren pop composition and screams aloud for crossover airplay. Price rarely executes an uptempo jam with the fierceness of her ballads, but she pulls off “and you don’t stop,” sampling War’s “galaxy,” with the precision of a bad-ass disco queen. it’s almost impossible not to place this funky jam aside Michael Jackson’s “don’t stop til’ you get Enough.” only when Kelly bathes with tyler Perry drama on “tired” and when she embarrassingly wanders off into clichés (“silly rabbit/thought you knew that tricks were for

kids”), the album takes a slight nosedive. but Kelly is a well-executed album, placing her in the company of live instrumentation and allowing her to use the aviation of Patti Labelle. thankfully, in the studio, she knows when to take off, control her altitude and when to land comfortably. she may very well still be in reinvention mode with her off-the-radar record home, but little does she know she’s just revealed the album of her career so far. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “not My daddy,” “and you don’t stop,” “the rain”

MAttheW MOrrIsOn Matthew Morrison


hatters” and “rocket Man.” Where the album oftentimes curtails into sudden strangeness is when Morrison surrounds himself around odd genres and sounds. guess it’s a trademark for glee cast members to show off their theater pride, but Morrison’s aspirations to cover the bulk of america’s songbook – from soul-stirring gospel (“Let your soul be your Pilot”) to big broadway entries (“somewhere over the rainbow,” featuring a duet with gweneth Paltrow) to synthpop (“don’t stop dancing”) – exposes some of his weakness of not delivering the goods when needed, or simply hurting his chances of being taking serious as a legitimate pop singer. it’s a safe introduction of Matthew Morrison and what he is able to do – almost appearing as a wellrounded portfolio for a big hollywood audition. but it still feels like an off-season project from the masterminds of glee’s Matt Murphy. J MatthEW Cobb


sPIn thIs! “summer rain,” “still got tonight” the young chap known to millions of americans as Mr. schuester is stepping out of his television mode to fulfill his aspirations as a pop singer. on his self-titled album, he proves he’s the man with the sweet innocent chords. he’s surrounded by a pool of good songs, even if some of them carry the familiar safe attributes of a blossoming disney superstar in the making. “summer rain” is radio accessible, using some of the ukulele powers of train’s “hey, soul sister” and finds a gleeful Morrison opening his album with satisfying results. the onerepublic-tinseled “still got tonight,” co-written by american idol champ Kris allen, allows him to out the breathy nick Lachey effects on the opening and closings of his phrases, giving him heartthrob appeal. Morrison also sings along with sir Elton John on a very intimate popglossed pairing of “Mona Lisas and Mad

r.e.M. Collapse Into now (Warner Bros.)

after recording an impressive set of albums since the 1980's (fifteen in all) and now facing a sagging music industry, r.E.M. has a right to say “fuck it.” instead, the legendary altrock band pours all of their present-day emotions and ideas and scrapbook sounds into a versatile set that quickly proves their just two steps away from delivering their best album to date. at times, Collapse into now appears to be messy as it chugs from one movement to the next. the tracks tend


to float from melancholic rock (to bad-ass rock n’ roll (“alligator, aviator, autopilot, antimatter”) like an itunes shuffle playlist rather than a congealed soundtrack. but that actually happens to be the album’s greatest quality - and when r.E.M. sneaks in something opaque and surreal, it leaves you nodding with approval. Michael stipe’s vocals are warm when it wants to be (“uberlin”), gritty and grimy when the music calls for it (“discoverer”) and becomes fuller when he needs to be (“Walk it back”). his woozy struts, alongside Peter buck’s guitars and surprise guests (including Eddie Vedder, Patti smith and Peaches) all help give the album an extra layer of texture that makes Collapse into now a lot more satisfying. “discover” opens up the disc with call-to-arms percussion and loud guitar riffs, but slowly loses momentum when the simple chorus parades a tad bit longer than expected. after that, the album quickly redeems itself with big leaps through portals of cool experimentation, strong melodic infrastructures and well-calculated balladry. “uberlin” is sensationally breezy, “smells Like honey” kicks out r.E.M.’s familiar rock tricks, “Walk it back” strolls across intimate piano and guitar interplay and “Every day is yours to Win” fees like a reprise to James blunt’s “you’re beautiful.” For the most part, r.E.M. never takes their selves too serious. the edges never get as sharp as “Losing My religion” or “the one i Love,” but the talent executed here, even with stipe’s woozy lead, showcases a band content with their age and maturity. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “uberlin,” “Walk it back,” “Every day is yours to Win”

BeAstIe BOYs hot sauce Committee Part two (Capitol)

the bad boys of brooklyn are probably the only consistent rap group to come out of the golden era of hip-hop. and their muse remains uninterrupted, despite a health scare of adam “MCa” yauch unveiling a type of cancer in his salivary gland in 2009. it did halt the release of the first installment of hot sauce Committee, but Part two – a two-year old body of work that the band earlier pegged “leftovers” – was still on track for its original release date, despite the failure of launching the first set. Creatively releasing the sequel before the first release is a sneaky, peculiar thing, but it’s one that makes hot sauce Committee Part two so attractive. at first listen, you can understand why the beastie brats shrugged their shoulders at the disc. it’s loud, full of reverb, the EQ waves are overloaded with brooding bass and will send shockwaves to any stereo system. uncover some of the album’s exaggerations and loudness and you can hear the band reaching back to the high-drama of rap rock, emcee battle-styled freestyle and old-school mixing. the strength of the beasties’ rhymes on top of Mike d’s live drums give hot sauce Committee Part two a riveting nostalgic retreat back to the beasties’ ‘80’s-early’90’s formula, the root-sounding “Make some noise,” a roots-sounding old-school retreat, kicks out classic run dMC-meets-doug E. Fresh energy. the lyrics are strong to form, showing off the rap veterans’ honorary medals (“i’m like an ornithologist when i get pissed/you must have drank a fizzy-lifting drink and you got lifted/and sifted, i’m just whiffed/and when i catch MCs it’s time for wing-clipping”). When Mike d spits fire out on his opening lines (“aLeggo my Eggo while i flex my ego”), the beasties are out to prove to newbies that comedy and machismo can work together like magic. immediately following the infectious opener, “nonstop

disco Powerpack” and “ok” play to the strengths of the beasties’ teamplay. they take turns like unselfish veteran basketball stars, desperate to penetrate the perimeter with quick passes and last-second dunks. nas joins the group on a remix of “too Many rappers,” now loaded with atari synth bleeps and harder on their focus (“1-2-3/too many rappers and still not enough emcees”). Lyrically the tune exposes their age, but their lines are far from dusty (“how many rappers must get dissed/gimme eight bars, and watch me bless this/i start to reminisce, oh, when i miss/the real hip hop with which i persist”). the boys are also adventurous, playing on the outskirts of hip-hop’s modern conventions. “say it” plays with their garage rock samplings. “don’t Play no game that i Can’t Win,’ with its otherworldly sounds and Fugees’ reggae tempo, gives the threesome a definite standout for radio, even if santigold’s guest appearance somehow transcends the song beyond their regular conventions. and for those who think the beasties are too serious with their spunk, “Funky donkey” is just as playful as “brass Monkey.” still, the elephant in the room, the obvious vocal distortion on some of the album’s harder cuts vocals, helmed by experimental studio art and the inspiration to stay true to being bad asses, makes it a little hard to appreciate the indepth philosophies embedded in their lyrics. sometimes the beasties choose to play with sounds and motifs a la gorillaz or broken bells by creating transitional interludes. the most effective of them all, the instrumental “Multilateral nuclear disarmament,” is layered perfectly with hip-hop tempo, electronic whizzes, robotic chatter and MCa’s heavy bass guitar. the album also ends hastily, like a modern-day horror film pointing towards a silly continuation for the near future, using “the Lisa Lisa-Full Force routine.” it only makes you wonder if hsC Part 3 is the next in line to appear in the beasties’ album succession, or maybe Part 1 never really existed. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Make some noise,” “don’t Play no game that i Can’t Win,” “nonstop disco Powerpack”

VArIOus ArtIsts sacred Love songs 2: Music Inspired By the Film Jumping the Broom (dexterity sounds/ universal)

to some, it’s a paradox for the worlds of r&b and gospel to be crashing together, but the love for the mainstream just won’t permit popular preacher and best-selling author t.d. Jakes to stay within the four walls of the church. on his biggest ambition to date, Jakes powers up his resources to weave together another collection of sanctified bedroom r&b on sacred Love songs 2 (a companion disc for his ‘Jumping the broom’ motion picture). regardless if the soundtrack succeeds on the big screen or not, the disc is beefed with r&b stars and gospel royalty and places them all in the care of album producers Victor & Cedric Caldwell (CeCe Winans). sometimes the Caldwells’ production tries too hard to make the holy rollers sound too sensual and overly-sexual. Micah stampley’s vocal aerobics ascends on brian McKnight’s “back at one” and bishop Paul Morton drips Eddie Levert crooning on “Finally.” and sometimes the songs just doesn’t work (Fred hammond’s “My Lady and Myself” is like a scattered-brain isley brothers tune void of an interesting melody). r&b acts aren’t off the hook entirely: Ledisi overcooks al green’s “Let’s stay together” and Joe’s contribution on “Closer” leaves more to be desired. but the disc burns with a


few pleasant moments, particularly with anyasha Figueroa’s cover of Kirk Franklin’s “Love” and the regina belle-esque ballad “share My heart,” handled by gospel rising star Crystal aiken. El debarge would’ve stolen the crown for best performance on the album had it not been previously released on his beloved 2010 comeback disc (second Chance). still despite the mysterious paradox floating around Jakes jumping into safe-sex r&b, it’s mind-numbing to report that sacred Love songs 2 allows virtual unknowns to overshadow the contributions handled by superstars. it’s a finale’ no one would’ve expected. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Love,” “share My heart”


1 MarVin gayE What’s going on - 40th anniversary super deluxe Edition (Motown/universal)

this year, Marvin gaye’s landmark albumWhat’s going on turns 40 and Motown is celebrating the big occasion with a double-disc package loaded with remastered tracks, single mixes and some rare demos, a stripped down version of “What’s going on” and unreleased instrumentals. For wax freaks, a 180-gram vinyl has also been issued with the super bundle. Kind of rare that after all these years, gaye’s prophecy of hard times and glimpses of hope still resonate strongly with us in our world today. We are still asking that familiar question from gaye’s songbook.

2 aLiCia KEys songs in a Minor J/Legacy

ten years away from her debut, alicia Keys has grown into one sexy lady. the image decorating her 2001 album songs in a Minor was harder, edgier yet slightly adorned with a new orleans chic style. but the arethameets-Mary J music dripping from her first album has aged gracefully, particularly “Fallin’,” “a Woman’s Worth” and her sneaky cover of Prince’s “how Come you don’t Call Me anymore.” on the exapnded reissue, a host of outtakes, remixes and even a companion dVd surfaces to the party, but it’s really the album you’re looking to hear again. right?

LMFAO feat. Laureen Bennett & Goonrock



Last Friday night (T.G.i.F.) Katy Perry

Time Of My Life



Give Me Everything Pitbull feat. ne-Yo, Afrojack & nayer




Super Bass nicki Minaj


rolling in The Deep 4 Lady Gaga

red river Blue



How To Love Lil Wayne

universal Pulse



Tonight Tonight Hot Chelle rae

My Kinda Party



The Edge Of Glory Lady Gaga

Back To Black



Good Life Onerepublic

Kidz Bop 20 2 -- Kidz Bop Kids

-- 3 Doors Down


5 Beyonce


We The Best Forever -- DJ Khaled


1 Blake Shelton


-- 311


7 Jason Aldean

R-E Amy Winehouse

Adele is showing no signs of slowing up. This is the eleventh time the Brit soul singer’s 21 has nabbed the No. 1 spot.




1 1 Party rock Anthem

When The Sun Goes Down

10 17 Lighters Bad Meets Evil feat. Bruno Mars

Hell: The Sequel (EP)

Wanna Go 11 13 iBritney Spears

10 10 Selena Gomez & the Scene 11

11 Bad Meets Evil


13 Lady Gaga


4 Chris Young


2 incubus


6 Colbie Caillat

Born This Way


With the recent passing of Amy Winehouse, digital downloads and record sales have skyrocketed of her crtically-acclaimed sophomore LP. It soars into the Top 10; selling a startling 37,000 copies (up 3,140 percent).

road Anthem 12 11 Dirt Jason Aldean

14 12 E.T. Katy Perry feat. Kanye West

All Of You

i Die Young 15 23 ifThe Band Perry

Dream With Me

Wanna Go Home 16 18 Don’t Jason Deulo

Bon iver

17 20 Motivation Kelly rowland feat. Lil Wayne


17 21 Bon iver

Deep 18 22 Knee Zac Brown Band feat. Jimmy Buffett

Sigh no More

18 19 Mumford & Sons Teenage Dream

19 23 Katy Perry

Outlaws Like Me

20 15 Justin Moore

Eminem’s back, as his tag-team partner Royce da 5’9” bookends the Top 10; soaring 17-10 with Digital Gainer honors.

i’m On One 13 14 DJ Khaled feat. Drake, rick ross & Lil Wayne

if not now, When?

16 12 Jackie Evancho

Party’s on for hip-pop duo LMFAO as they celebrate their third week at No. 1 with “Party Rock Anthem.”



3 Adele




get more buz-z-z at www.hifimagazine.net

After debuting at No. 2 almost five weeks ago, Bon Iver’s self-titled disc gains significant points on the Billboard 200 by climbing 21-17.

Thing i never Had 19 25 Best Beyonce The Lazy Song

20 15 Bruno Mars

rED letters determine new entry 00 Chart position on August 06 00 Chart position on July 30

“Motivation” climbs 20-17, becoming the second Top 20 hit single of Rowland’s career. Interesting enough, the No. 1 R&B hit is also outperforming Beyonce’s “Best Thing I Never Had.”


2 Adele



Last Friday night (T.G.i.F.) Black Eyed Peas



Lighters (feat. Bruno Mars) Bad Meets Evil

The Harrow & the Harvest


Tonight Tonight Hot Chelle rae


Otis (feat. Otis redding) Jay-Z & Kanye West


How To Love Lil Wayne

Dream With Me


Super Bass nicki Minaj

8 Eric Church



i Wanna Go Britney Spears



Give Me Everything Pitbull


rolling in The Deep Adele

3 Amy Winehouse 4 Gillian Welch 5

ii Volo ii Volo Kidz Bop 20

6 Kidz Bop Kids

Since her untimely death, Amy Winehouse Back To Black proves to be seriously popular at Amazon. So is her debut album, Frank, which lands at No. 3.

7 Jackie Evancho

9 Derek Trucks Band 19

10 Adele


The latest single to drop from Jay-Z & Kanye’s highly-anticipated joint project happens to feature a sample of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.” The song was a free download for those who pre-ordered the album off of iTunes.


Party rock Anthem

Super Bass nicki Minaj


Last Friday night (T..G.i.F) Katy Perry

The Lazy Song


Give Me Everything (feat. ne-Yo) Pitbull


The Edge of Glory Lady Gaga


Good Life Onerepublic

Friday night (T.G.i.F) 1 Last Katy Perry

3 Bruno Mars

rolling in The Deep

4 Adele




i’m into You ft. Lil Wayne Jennifer Lopez


i Wanna Go Britney Spears

Don’t Wanna Go Home


The Show Goes On Lupe Fiasco

The Edge of Glory


i’m into You (feat. Lil Wayne) Jennifer Lopez


rain Over Me Pitbull


Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” features a dominatrix-teased Gaga dancing on an abadoned dark street. It also features Give Me Everything the last glimpses of sax man Clarence 10 Pitbull Clemons. All charts placements above compiled on July 30 2011


Tonight Tonight Hot Chelle rae

pickme@hifimagazine.net Nashville pop band Hot Chelle Rae pulls off one of the coolest, catchiest summer anthems of the year. D.C’s 99.5 seems to be eating it up, shooting up 11-10.


Best Love Song

9 T-Pain



8 Lady Gaga


WIHT-FM (99.5 FM) Washington, DC

Man Down rihanna

7 Jason Derulo


Party rock Anthem


To Black 1 Back Amy Winehouse





LADY GAGA [CONT. FROM PG. 8 ] “there’s something about my relationship with my fans that’s so pure and genuine. during the show, i say ‘i don’t lipsync, and i never will, because it is in my authenticity that you can know the sincerity of my love for you.”). she not only serenades her baby monsters into contentment, but she addresses a plethora of their every-day issues without any hesitation or fear. gaga’s not just fighting to become the biggest pop star alive. she’s fighting for her fans, even if that means she has to stare oppressive conservatism, homophobia and discrimination in the face. some people call her a media junkie and an attention hoar, but she doesn’t feel she needs attention. she already has it. “i have attention,” gaga tells rolling stone. addressing the media one-onone, gaga adds: “is it that you believe that i am attention-seeking or shock for shock’s sake, or is it just that it’s been a long time since someone has embraced the art form the way that i have? Perhaps it’s been a couple of decades since there’s been an artist that’s been as vocal about their opinions, as vocal about culture, religion, human rights and politics. i’m so passionate about what i do, every bass line, every drum fill, ever EQ. Why is it that you don’t want more from the artist, why is it that you expect so little, so when i give and give, you assume it’s

narcissistic?” now that gaga has your attention…she’s become the quintessential modern superstar – the Fame Monster – because of her need to be eccentric, to bend the rules and to capture our attention. she’s still a mystery to her constituents and the answer to the burning question on how did a big city italian girl from the Lower East side of new york emerge into a supernova of a pop icon? gaga says it isn’t a secret. “there’s really no science. i’ve been really blessed that all those companies and all those collaborations have happened organically. they have come my way because they believe in me and they believe in the realness of the fans. i think when the connection between the artist and the fans, like i have, is pure like that, people really respond.” but gaga’s reward isn’t about monetary gain. “it’s much more than making money. it’s about making a difference,” she says. JunE 25, 2011


hree weeks after the release of born this Way, Lady gaga is ready to spawn even more monsters. she’s now focusing her attention on international terrain, particularly india. With the help of indian music producer salim and sulaiman Merchant, she now has a few bolly mixes of the title cut and “Judas” under her sleeve. Foreign markets have been a challenge for gaga in the past, but now she

believes her appointed time has come. “the reason why i’m going to india now is because i can. i didn’t have the money or the resources before to travel and bring all my things with me.” she’s confident that her message of love and self-identity will be well received and accepted in south asia and abroad. it’s a risk that most pop artists that tread the waters of controversy would be afraid of touching, but it’s one that Lady gaga isn’t afraid of taking. “i think that the concept of born this Way relates to everyone all over the world,” she says. “but with the people of south asia, i believe there’s a definite message of liberation, a message of ‘be strong, be who you are, be courageous and fight for your identity.’ and i believe that will speak to a lot of people and i can’t wait to come and sing the words myself to all of them.” as she prepares for the next destination on her ‘Monster ball’ tour, Lady gaga reassures herself of her primary objective. “someone once told me, ‘if you have revolutionary potential, you have a moral imperative to make the world a better place,’” gaga recalls. “and my fans are a revolution. they are living proof that you don’t have to conform to anything to change the world.” in case you didn’t get the memo, Mother Monster isn’t changing for anybody. three years into her career, gaga is doing a fine job living up to her authenticity while showing no fear of being the Monster she is. it’s gotten her this far.

BONNAROO [CONT. FROM PG. 8 ] wearing a West Point football jersey and, her imaginative electro-pop set proved to be the perfect succession for LCd soundsystem’s last stop at bonnaroo in 2010. Clearly, Lil Wayne stole the night on Friday, proving he could also command a nation of fans without resorting to an array of gimmicks. now a free man, Weezy showed off his newfound soberness – after completing a court-ordered sobriety program - as he executed thirty-two heavy hits from his ten year arsenal on the Which stage, starting at 1:30 a.m. he didn’ t need the superstars to croon out the familiar hooks. all he needed was the adrenaline and support from the fans, and he had plenty of them to feed off of. “one, i believe in god. two, i ain’t shit without you.” Lil Wayne pauses, smiles and finishes his sentence, “and three, most importantly, i ain’t shit without you.” he sailed through “a Milli,” grabbed ahold of Kelly rowland’s “Motivation,” soared with ego-mincing on “i’m Me” and ate through Wiz Khalifa’s “green and yellow,” in which he guested on the song. the crowd seemed to have wandered off when he danced through songs from his rock-oriented rebirth album, but clearly he bounced back when executing his latest single “6 Foot 7 Foot,” from his forthcoming tha Carter iV. he walked off the stage, danced through the crowd, returned and rendered a performance that looked as if he was in the middle of an exorcism.

“One, I believe in God. Two, I ain’t shit without you.” Lil Wayne pauses, smiles and finishes his sentence, “And three, most importantly, I ain’t shit without you.” after beefy performances from Mumford & sons and the black Keys, Eminem – dressed in army cargo pants, an open black hoodie exposing a ‘bad Meets Evil’ t-shirt – closed sunday on the Which stage using the “no-gimmicks-allowed” work ethic. his set did contain a few prop fancies, including a booming pyro, a super Jumbotron, a hypeman and the occasional fireworks, but Eminem relied on his huge repertoire of hits, sweating for ninety minutes with the sun-tanned fans. in February, Eminem gave bonnaroo fans a vigorous tease during his power-packed performance on the grammys. that same type of aggression, focused and almost unstoppable, was present on heavy pounders like “Kill you,” “Won’t back down” and “Love the Way you Lie.” he went through his lines from his guestspot hits like the bruno Mars-assisted “Lighters” and “airplanes, Part ii” and even revisited some of his earlier singles “My name is” and “the real slim shady” before he closed his set with “not afraid.” an encore led him to blast out “Lose yourself.” With a clenched fist in the air, now appearing to be drained from his highoctane performance, he thanked the fans for their support right before a colorful fireworks display lit the tennessee air. the sky confetti, along with Eminem’s blessing, proved to be the perfect capper for bonnaroo’s fifteenth birthday celebration.


u 1

u u 2 3

roCKstars oF agEs: (1) slim shady works the night shift (2) while legend Wanda Jackson proves she can brave the heat. (3) the two-piece black Keys have enough fight in them to keep the attention of thousands hearing their organic rock n’ roll.



All press releases for North American tour and music festival schedules should be sent to:



ven with Maroon 5 frontman spreading his Big Brother arms on NBC’s new hit show The Voice, he plans to kick off the summer on the road with his fulltime gig. Maroon 5 will be joined up with California alt-rock band Train, who experienced mind-blowing success in 2009 with their platnium-selling single “Hey, Soul Sister” and best-selling record Save Me, San Francisco. The two bands will be accompanied by Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw as opening acts. The tour will also make a notable stop at the historic 17,000 seat Hollywood Bowl. “That’s one of those epic things that we’ve all have dreamed about,” says Levine. [ DATES AND LOCATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ] » July 22 - Chula Vista, CA @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheater » July 23 - Paso Robles, CA @ California Mid-State Fair » July 25 - Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Bowl » July 27 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sandia Casino » July 28 - Morrison, CO @ Red Rock Amphitheatre » July 31 - Mount Pleasant, MI @ Soaring Eagle Casino Resort » August 2 - Charlotte, NC @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre » August 3 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Virginia Bureau Live » August 5 - Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center » August 7 - Mashantucket, CT @ MGM Grand Theater » August 9 - Saratoga Springs, NY @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center » August 12 - Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater » August 13 - Mansfield, MA @ Comcast Center » August 15 - Hershey, PA @ Hershey Park Pavilion » August 17 - Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena » August 18 - Indianapolis, IN @ Indiana State Fair » August 19 - Des Monies, IA @ Iowa State Fair » August 21 - Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre » August 22 - Toronto, ON @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre » August 24 - Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion » August 25 - Syracuse, NY @ New York State Fair » August 26 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center » August 28 - Louisville, KY @ Freedom Hall/Kentucky State Fair » August 30 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre » August 31 - Tampa, FL @ 1-800-Ask Gary Amphitheater » September 1 - Alpharetta, GA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre » September 4 - Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theater » September 5 - Minneapolis, MN @ Minnesota State Fair » September 7 - Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre » September 9 - Saskatoon, SK @ Credit Union Centre » September 10 - Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place » September 12 - Abbotsford, BC @ Abbotsford Centre » September 13 - Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre » September 15 - Concord, CA @ Sleep Train Pavilion » September 16 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Pearl at the Palms » September 22 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Zoo Amphitheater


T Kings of Leon announced the cancellation of the rest of their US tour after a disastrous show in Dallas, Tx. After asking the crowd to participate in singing the songs, Caleb Followill complained about the Texas heat and of being ill. Jared Followill, Caleb’s brother and KOL bandmate, addressed the fans on the stage and on Twitter, citing internal problems and Caleb’s “sicknesses.” On Twitter, Jared wrote, “Dallas, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am...There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade.”

CALENDAR SUBMISSIONS calendar@hifimagazine.net

lil wayne keeps the ‘music’ coming


ith favorable results sparking from the first leg of his I Am Music tour, a thrashing performance at this year’s Bonnaroo and a 2011 album release, Lil Wayne is focused on making the second leg of his tour just as big as the first. Titled I Am Still Music, the tour will now feature opening acts hiphop juggernaut Rick Ross and R&B singer Lloyd. The tour will also enjoy a great depth of versatility with R&B diva Keri Hilson and pop/hop group Far East Movement also joining on the ride. AND LOCATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE [ DATES ]




1 » July 13 - Hartford, CT @ Comcast Theater » July 15 - Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheatre » July 16 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center » July 17 - Mansfield, MA @ Comcast Center » July 19 - Scranton, PA @ Toyota Pavilion » July 20 - Saratoga, NY @ Performing Arts Center » July 22 - Cuyahoga Falls, OH @ Blossom Music Center » July 23 - Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center » July 24 - Darien, NY @ Darien Lake » July 26 - Hershey, PA @ Hershey Pavilion » July 29 - Raleigh, NC @ Walnut Creek » July 30 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Farm Bureau Amphitheatre » August 2 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre » August 3 - Tampa, FL @ 1-800 Ask Gary Amphitheatre » August 5 - Birmingham, AL @ Verizon Wireless Music Center » August 6 - Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s at Lakewood » August 7 - Charlotte, NC @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre » August 9 - Minneapolis, MN @ Xcel Center » August 10 - Milwaukee, WI @ Marcus Amphitheatre » August 12 - Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion » August 13 - Tinley, IL @ Midwest Amphitheatre » August 14 - Noblesville, IN @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre » August 16 - Ottawa, ON @ Scotia Bank Place » August 17 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre » August 19 - Toronto, ONT @ Molson Amphitheatre » August 20 - Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Theater » August 21 - Maryland Heights, MO @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre » August 23 - Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center » August 25 - Phoenix, AZ @ Ashley Furniture Pavilion » August 26 - San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless » August 27 - San Bernardino, CA @ Glen Helen Pavilion » August 30 - Denver, CO @ Comfort Dental » August 31 - Albuquerque, NM @ Hard Rock Pavilion » September 2 - Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre » September 3 - Marysville, CA @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre » September 4 - Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre » September 7 - Omaha, NE @ Qwest Arena » September 9 - San Antonio, TX @ AT&T Center » September 10 - Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion » September 11 - Woodlands, TX @ Woodlands Amphitheatre


FOO FIGHTERS hit the road During their stop at the iTunes Festival at London’s Roundhouse, which was being streamed for free to millions of iTunes patrons, Dave Grohl stopped his performance to express his anger towards a violent fan in the audience. “No no no. You don’t fuckin’ fight at my show, you asshole!” yelled the Foo Fighters’ frontman. While demanding for the fan’s attention, Grohl screamed, “Hey, in the striped shirt! Look at me. Get the fuck out of my show right now.” The crowd cheered for their ringmaster as the fan was being escorted by security out of the venue. Looking for angry rock on a broader level? Foo Fighters are the band to beat. And they have been rockin’ out ever since their formation in 1994. Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl still has a little fight in him. Not just on the stage, but on the charts as well. His latest LP, Wasting Light, debuted at No. 1 and became the Foos first album to do so. Along with colossal rock hits like “Monkey Wrench,”“Learn to Fly” and their No. 1 US Rock Song smash off of Wasting Light (“Rope”), you can expect the band to leap through a few cover songs on their U.S. and Europe tour this summer and fall. “We’ve got a list of, like, 75 covers, in case we ever want to fuckin’ goof off in front of 70,000 people,” said Grohl to Rolling Stone. So far, the band has fired up Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” (appropiate for the summer), Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and even “Darling Nikki” by Prince. And there’s more surprises where that came from. In September, Nirvana celebrates the 20th anniversary of Nevermind - the diamond-certified classic album boasting hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are.” It looks like the Foo Fighters will be hard at work this summer.. [ DATES AND LOCATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ] » August 7 - Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza (Grant Park) » August 9 - Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Center » August 10 - Montreal @ Bell Center » September 14 - St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Center » September 16 - Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center » September 17 - St. Louis, MO @ Scottrade Center » September 19 - Detroit, MI @ Palace of Auburn Hills » September 20 - Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena » September 22 - Columbus, OH @ Nationwide Arena » September 23 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Consol Energy Center » September 25 - Buffalo, NY @ HSBC Center » September 26 - East Rutherford, NJ @ Izod Center » October 9 - Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center » October 13 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum » October 14 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum



till reelin’ in the years, the “Showbiz Kids” are still entertaining their fans with their otherworldly jazz/rock offerings. Jazz keyboardist Sam Yahel will be the group’s opening act in the U.S, while pop/rock singer Steve Windwood will handle opening act dates in Australia and New Zealand. [ DATES AND LOCATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ] » August 1 - Portsmouth, VA @ nTelos Wireless Pavilion » August 2 - Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion » August 4 - Durham, NC @ Durham PAC » August 6+7 Atlanta, GA @ Chastain Park » August 9 - Charleston, WV @ Clay Center » August 10 - Bethlehem, PA @ Musikfest » August 12+13 - Highland Park, IL @ Ravinia Festival » August 17 - Louisville, KY @ Palace Theater » August 19 - Nashville, TN @ The Woods at Fontanel » August 20 - Tuscaloosa, AL @ Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre » August 21 - Orange Beach, AL @ Amp at the Wharf » August 24 - St. Louis, MO @ Fox Theatre » August 25 - Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theatre » August 30 - Minneapolis, MN @ MN State Fair » September 3 - Aspen, CO @ Jazz Aspen » September 9+10 - Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre » September 14-23 -- New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre » September 28-October 1 - Boston, MA @ Wang Theatre

0 FESTIVITIES hot 1 6 3

2 4 5

1 sEPtEMbEr 3-5

bumbershoot seatle Center | seattle, Wash. tickets: $35-$300 guests: daryl hall & John oates, Wiz Khalifa, broken, ray LaMontange, toro y Moi, Leon russell www.bumbershoot.org

2 august 5-7

Lollapalooza grant Park | Chicago, ill. tickets: $90-$215 guests: Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, deadmau5, the Cars, Cee Lo green, Muse, girl talk, tinie tempah www.lollapalozza.com

3 august 12-14

outside Lands golden gate Park | san Francisco, Cali. tickets: $200 guests: arcade Fire, Muse, the black Keys, MgMt, Phish, the decemberists, John Fogerty. the roots, Erykah badu, big boi, deadmau5 www.sfoutsidelands.com

4 august 19-21

Vail soul Music Fest Ford amphitheater | Vail, Col. tickets: $45-$145 guests: Chaz shepherd, alex Cuba, Lalah hathaway, Ledisi, ryan shaw, www.vailsoulmusicfest.com

5 sEPtEMbEr 16-18

austin City Limits Zilker Park | austin, tx tickets: $50-$850 guests: Kanye West, Coldplay, stevie Wonder, arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes www.aclfestival.com

6 august 12-14

Life is good Festival Prowse Farm | Canton, Mass. tickets: $200 guests: ray Lamontagne, the avett brothers, Michael Franti & spearhead, robert randolph & the Family band, raphael sadiq, brandi Carlile www.lifeisgood.com



Lady Sings the Blues

my Winehouse, the grammy-award winning voice that singlehandedly sparked the movement of retro soul revival and is best known for her unexpected hit song ”rehab” and the life that quickly patterned it, passed away at the age of 27. according to the uK associated Press, authorities found the 27-year old singer dead in her home in Camden square in northern London. Police reports could not confirm what the cause of death was but admitted she was dead at the scene before paramedics arrived. Winehouse also joins a league of music royalty who passed away before their prime at the tender young age of 27, best known mythically as the “27 Club.” rock legends Janis Joplin, Jimi hendrix and Jim Morrison were all 27 when they were found dead. Celebrated nirvana guitarist Kurt Cobian committed suicide at the age of 27. back to black, her second album, received international acclaim from critics and music lovers; opening up the floodgates for a rebirth of bluesy retro soul. uK acts like duffy and adele immediately followed, while raphael saadiq, Cee Lo green and most recently bruno Mars traveled similar successful paths. the album, sporting Mark ronson’s nostaglic production and a regenerated fiber of the blues and ’60′s r&b, appealed to the masses, selling over ten million copies worldwide. back to black earned the fairly new star a handful of grammy trophies (five in total) in 2008. although she was not present to bask in the glory of the evening, Winehouse appeared thankful as she accepted the honors via satellite. she was a wild card, a stark shift from the everyday pop music machine. at the core of her image was a look that most labels would have turned down in a heartbeat: her now-infamous beehive hairstyle, the overload of body ink, exagerated eyeliner, her unusually pale skin and pencil-thin frame. but her bluesy lifestyle fit the troubled image of amy Winehouse’ music, as if she earned a spiritual inheritance from blues legend billie holiday. as popular as her music and superstardom was, the poor choices from her personal life appeared like a supernova. her ongoing fight with substance abuse usually overshadowed her celebrity and artistry. sometimes she had the upper hand, as she voulntarily entered in and out of rehab throughout her career. Most recently in June, Winehouse was pulled from her 2011 comeback tour with the help of her management after performing irresponsibly in belgrade, serbia, appearing drunk while stumbling over lyrics. that painful performance scorned with heavy boos from the crowd and now viewed by countless millions on youtube, was her last public performance. Chris richards wrote a heartbreaking tribute in the Washington Post, perfectly capturing the heartbreaking loss of a talented and very troubled soul. he wrote: “i flipped on Washington’s hot 99.5 shortly after the news broke, expecting “rehab” or “you Know i’m no good” or “tears dry on their own” to come pouring through the speakers. instead, it was the band Perry’s country-pop hit “if i die young.”



lest we forget... CLarEnCE CLEMons 1942-2011 Legendary sax player and E street band member Clarence Clemons, 69, died from complications resulting from a stroke he suffered a week prior to his passing. on springsteen’s side, Clemons career flourished. his soulful saxophone solos document some of springsteen’s big numbers, including “Jungleland” and “Fifth avenue Freeze-out.” on his own, Clemons recorded the top 2o hit “you’re a Friend of Mine” with Jackson browne and performed the iconic solo on aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love.” Lady gaga also featured Clemons on her 2011 smash hit “the Edge of glory” and was featured in the song’s music video.




giL sCott-hEron 1949-2011 Militant spoken word poet and funk fusion innovator gil scott-heron, 62, died in st. Luke hospital in new york after falling ill after returning from an European trip. With the success of singles like “the revolution Will not be televised” and “the bottle,” scott-heron was often herald by the hip-hop community as the “godfather of rap,” a title he often declined to accept. scott-heron recorded his last album, 2010’s i’m new here, earning him rave reviews with critics. Kanye West, who has sampled scott-heron several times throughout his career, also featured him on the closing track of My beautiful dark twisted Fantasy.

PhobE snoW 1950-2011 singer-songriter Phobe snow, age 60, died of complications following a brain hemmorrhage on april 26. she was best known for her 1975 self-titled debut LP, which featured the no. 5 pop hit “Poetry Man.” her four-octave smokey voice, guitar skills and her general love for folk, pop and jazz made her an instant favorite in the singer/songwriter genre. Leon russell signed snow to his shelter label and at the height of her career opened for Jackson browne and Paul simon. steely dan’s donald Fagen praised her heavily, stating on his website that “she was a mighty spoonful of soul, and i'll miss her.”

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