R. Kelly Rebounds From Surgery, Preps New Album R. Kelly has apparently completely recovered from his emergency throat surgery, because he appeared on Chicago’s WGCI this morning, talking about working on a new album—titled Black Panties—containing “10 Minutes,” a single that’s apparently close to release! [Rap Radar]
X Factor Judges’ Table Drama Ramps Up Prior To Premiere
Simon Cowell’s pre-X Factortrash talk continued at last night’s industry premiere, as he claimed (with agreement from L.A. Reid) that Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger had voted against talented auditioners simply because they were attractive women. Abdul retorted that this had been implied in editing based on which auditions were selected for the episodes. [Billboard] Read more…
“My life was split in two by Nevermind,” Grohl tells the magazine, noting that he doesn’t remember the recording sessions or album release that well—and recalls plenty of time after its release but before it really broke: “In our own little world, things stayed the same for a while.” Of course, all three spend the interview alternately downplaying the content of the album as particularly revolutionary (chalking its success up to timing and pop sensibilities) and giving any credit for what might be special about Nevermind to the late Kurt Cobain. “You can’t forget what an artist Kurt Cobain was,” Novoselic insists. “He would draw, he would do sculpture, and he would write songs. He was really gifted.” (When later asked what would have happened if Cobain had not died, he only responds, “You can’t downplay what happened at the end, so that’s a really hard question to answer. It’s just too monumental.”)
Butch Vig, who would later form Garbage, mostly stays quiet (though if you’re interested in his comments on the album, check out the documentary Classic Albums: Nirvana: Nevermind, in which his extraordinarily obvious-in-retrospect observations about his production technique belie his real talent as a producer). Of course, there was little to add about the experience of recording because, as Vig reports here, “There was no drama.” Read more…
We’ve been anxious to hear Unbroken, the forthcoming album from September’s VH1 Posted artist Demi Lovato, for some time, and one track in particular had us very curious: “All Night Long,” a song produced by, and featuring, Missy Elliott and Timbaland. Now, less than a week before the album’s release, the track is streaming via Unbroken 9/20.net, a splash page for DemiLovato.com with a handy release-date reminder address.
Lovato gave a good capsule summary of the collaboration when she spoke to MTV News two weeks ago: “It’s about staying up all night long and singing it to the boy that you like, and it’s flirty and fun and it’s not too grown-up, but it’s grown-up enough.” Despite the heavy-hitters’ contributions, Lovato is indisputably the star of the show, and she’s certainly got her pop-song flirt-mode on lock (“I like you, put your number in my phone/ Yeah, you heard me right, so call me when you’re all alone”). Missy Elliott, who has always had a knack for being raunchy yet radio-friendly (remember the elephant noise on “Work It”?) nevertheless dials it back for her verse (“Will you be my type by the end of the night?/ We can pillow fight”) in order to match that vibe without compromising her voice. Timbaland’s highly processed vocal contributions provide the hook and various interjections for Lovato to play off. In short? It’s super fun.
The Webster Hall mainstage may have been host to chillwave buzz band Toro y Moi last night, but for about an hour, all the excitement at the venue was downstairs in the smaller Studio at Webster Hall, as Two Door Cinema Club ripped through most of their 2010 debut Tourist History, plus a couple B-sides, for an extremely hyped audience. All night, kids—some of whom had paid to see Toro y Moi—were trying to sneak in the back door of the already-packed show.
It helped that the band sounded really, really great. We selected them as a You Oughta Know band in February based not only on the strength of their then-nascent single “What You Know,” but the deeper cuts on the album—and those really shined last night. They made the wise decision to tour with a live drummer rather than the programmed beats they created in the studio, and it made all the difference, forcing them to push their harmonies out more so as not to be drowned out, and letting the guitar riff and play more, for a really great, open sound that was still recognizably theirs. But “What You Know” was the song everyone in the building knew: it inspired an immediate, unprompted singalong. The trio (now with drummer) must be accustomed to this, as they chose to close their set with the song. Naturally, the excited crowd wouldn’t let them go without a two-song encore.
We hope you were able to tune into the livestream last night, but if not, we’ve got the setlist below the jump, and be sure to check MTV Hive in two weeks for footage of the show. Read more…
Needtobreathe made their television debut on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno yesterday—no small feat for a young band. Once they launched into “Drive All Night,” though, the fortuitous billing made perfect sense. Needtobreathe, it turns out, exist sonically somewhere between Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons, but enough of their own pop personality to distinguish them as more than mere copycats of either. They impressed Taylor Swift enough to score an opening slot on her Speak Now tour, and they seem to have impressed the Tonight Show audience as well.
Meanwhile, chillwave standard-bearers Neon Indian wowed not only host Jimmy Fallon but also the Late Night studio audience, with help from the Creators Project, who were responsible for Arcade Fire‘s much-lauded Coachella light show. Check out their latest dreamy smooth-80s pastiche “Polish Girl” after the jump. Read more…
50 Cent Changes His Movie’s Name After Chinua Achebe Protests 50 Cent‘s new movie just got a namechange thanks to a critically lauded Nigerian novelist. Chinua Achebe, author of 1958’s English-language riposte to Joseph Conrad, Things Fall Apart, threatened legal action against 50 Cent, whose new film has the same name, and turned down a $1 million settlement offer. Considering that the idiom comes from a Yeats poem, the novelist’s case isn’t necessarily that strong, but “Got sued by Chinua Achebe” is probably not something 50 Cent wants on his resume, so the movie is now titled All Things Fall Apart. (Sidenote: Does this mean Achebe is a Roots fan?) [The Guardian]
At the beginning of the summer, many (including us) wondered how well Britney Spears would pull off a tour of the magnitude and length she’d scheduled. Really well, it turns out; the Femme Fatale Tour may not have been the show of the summer, but it was at least successful enough to reaffirms her role as a pop icon. Today, EPIX has announced that on November 12 at 8PM ET, they’ll be airing “Britney Spears: Femme Fatale Tour,” a concert special they filmed during Spears’s two-night stand last month in Toronto. The network has shared a sneak peek (though without mention of the 3D version that they supposedly filmed).
If anyone has mastered the art of calculated frank talk, it’s X Factor impresario Simon Cowell. In a conference call promoting the new show yesterday, he had backhanded compliments for everyone (except L.A. Reid). He spoke to Paula Abdul‘s passion for contestants and its authenticity, saying that “she’s still prepared to argue” when the cameras are off—and then compared their reunion to “getting your old dog back from the pound.” As for Nicole Scherzinger, he said she “was [odd] in a fantastically self-centered way and she wasn’t even aware of it,” and then observed that “In every city she changes her accent.” They’re certain to react—and that’s the point. That drama is just as much part of the plot of The X Factor as the actual competition, and we kind of love it. (You can tell because we’re taking Cowell’s bait and writing about his comments. You’re welcome for the free press!)
Cowell also found a way to distinguish his new show not only from American Idol but also last year’s new challenger The Voice. He did Adam Levine one better by doubling down on the commitment to backstory and to learning about the competitors (which Idol does not do)—and then criticizes The Voice for not being good enough at it! If that wasn’t enough, he also gave his Top Five Least Favorite Audition Songs:
To say that Katy B‘s performance last night for MTV Hive’s livestreamed Live In NYC concert required an adjustment is somewhat of an understatement. “Usually, it’s mostly girls!” she remarked last night, surprised at the gender-breakdown of the crowd at the Studio at Webster Hall. Welcome to New York City club shows, Katy. (To be fair, her recent performances on Britain’s summer festival circuit aren’t exactly her stock in trade either. “I’m used to performing with a DJ in a proper club environment at two in the morning,” she told MTV Hive.) Whether by practice or charisma, though, she effortlessly brought her performance into harmony with the venue and crowd.
The decision to bring a five-piece backing band (keyboards, bass, drums, saxophone, and trumpet) plus a hypeman (who understood that in this situation, unlike most, less was more) transformed Katy B’s sound significantly. The performance didn’t exactly shy away from the snapshot-of-UK-house-music that is her album On A Mission—out April 1 in England but only yesterday in the United States, though “illegally downloaded,” as Katy B teased from onstage, by the many in the crowd who knew her songs well—but it did reposition the singer as an R&B frontwoman rather than a dance vocalist. Maybe this is better suited for American audiences, who by and large don’t latch onto the Caribbean-inflected syncopated rhythms of much of UK dance music.
Or maybe Katy B was just really into it. That was the overall impression she tried to make—trying not to sell any records (no one even bothered to set up a merch table) but just to inspire the crowd to dance and to feel her vibe—or as she instructed in the introduction to one song, “Get on my level.” And we tried our best.
If you missed the stream, MTV Hive will have at least part of the show available to view on demand on Monday. The full setlist is below the jump. Read more…
Monday may have been Legacy Night on NBC’s late shows, with country legend Glen Campbell celebrating his 100th birthday on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and the influential psych-pop Zombies playing Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but yesterday was another story entirely. Much-buzzed indie-rockers Girls played Fallon, and Cobra Starship led the night with an on-point rendition of the trancey single, featuring Sabi, that they also performed during the 2011 VMAs pre-show. The project of Midtown frontman Gabe Saporta, Cobra Starship once seemed an ironic joke that wasn’t quite funny (thanks in part to an inauspicious Snakes On A Plane tie-in of a debut single). In the ensuing years, though—not least last night—the band has more than made clear how serious they are, and actually have been pretty forward-thinking in the process. Fun, not funny. Got it, Cobra Starship.