When we first heard Kelly Clarkson‘s latest single, “Mr. Know It All,” we figured that, thematically, it was a fairly straightforward kiss off to an ex that did her dirty. This was backed up by Clarkson’s introduction to the song at the iHeartRadio festival over the weekend in which she dedicated the song thusly: “If you’ve ever dated anyone that’s a know it all, this one’s for you.” However, after watching the video for the song that debuted in the wee hours this morning, it’s apparent that there’s another target for her ire: The media.
The video opens with Clarkson sitting on top of a suitcase, all alone in a large room. Closer inspection of the walls reveals that it isn’t a hideous wallpaper pattern that Kelly is sitting in front of, but rather, a collection of nasty headlines and stories about Clarkson’s label drama and relationship woes, all culled from newspapers and tabloid magazines. And they say print media is dead!
The MGM Grand played host to a plethora of pop stars this weekend for the Clear Channel-sponsored iHeartRadio Festival, two nights of genre-spanning, crowd-pleasing pop music. A mix of veterans and newcomers thrilled the (reportedlyvery drunk) crowd on both nights. The most successful performers were those who stuck to a setlist of hits, like Jay-Z, who may have performed “On To The Next One” but didn’t take its advice about his old songs, including favorites from The Blueprint and The Black Album alongside newer singles like “Empire State of Mind” (with a guest appearance by earlier performer Alicia Keys). Those whose songs were less well-known by the crowd, like Sublime with Rome, were less well-received.
Perhaps the big surprise of the weekend, according to reports, was Jennifer Lopez, who, in a set that spanned her musical career, proved supremely capable of standing among the pop titans of today (with a Pitbull feature on “On the Floor”). Saturday’s “special guest” Sting also more than pulled his weight, backing Steven Tyler on bass early in the evening, then joining Lady Gaga for performances of “Stand By Me” and his own “King of Pain.”
Yesterday’s late night music lineup may as well have been a VH1 showcase. The only musical performer we haven’t explicitly championed at some point appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon—after an interview with this month’s Posted artist Demi Lovato. Such a jam-packed lineup does make it difficult to choose the best performance of the night, but we have to give the edge to Kelly Clarkson, who made her first appearance in support of Stronger yesterday on The Tonight Show, where she performed single “Mr. Know It All.”
Clarkson has always had a great voice and an even better sense of how to use it—a fact that makes her live performances thrilling (and certainly contributed to her Idol win). So we were excited to hear her breathing more life into “Mr. Know It All,” a song that we already like but that she opened up for us further with her performance last night. (If we don’t sound quite as enthusiastic as we could, that might be because we not-so-secretly think that, were the situation not so dire out there for rock bands, we think that Clarkson would be a killer frontwoman with serious riffs behind her. But we try not to let that affect our judgment too much.) We are definitely looking forward to Stronger (and to the “Mr. Know It All” video, which should arrive somewhat sooner).
After the jump, see Demi Lovato’s interview on Late Night (introduced by The Roots with a reworded Styx cover: “Domo Arigato, Demi Lovato”) and links to the other performances. 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]
Yesterday evening, Kelly Clarkson premiered “Mr. Know It All,” the first single from forthcoming LP Stronger, in a live chat on kellyclarkson.com. During the chat (which was foreshortened by technical difficulties), she was her ebullient self, revealing a number of details about Stronger (songs will include “You Love Me,” “What Doesn’t Kill You,” and a duet with an Idol-affiliated woman that some speculate is Kara DioGuardi, but not a duet recorded with Chris Daughtry won’t make the cut) and plans for an upcoming tour (January) that she prefaced by saying she’d “get in trouble” for divulging. She confessed her deep and abiding crush on Kyle Chandler, particularly as Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. She described herself as sassy nearly as much as Russell Clark would have, and invited her fans out to dive-bar karaoke. She also wished for an opportunity to sing with Adele or Miranda Lambert. (Someone make this happen!)
As for “Mr. Know It All,” Clarkson noted, “I hope y’all like the song,” as a postscript to its premiere, quipping, “If you don’t, lie to me!” We don’t have to lie. The mid-tempo ballad isn’t our favorite of her tracks, and we wish her vocals were mixed higher, but we dig it nonetheless. Two things in particular stand out, though we confess we’re not sure we’d have noticed if she hadn’t mentioned them in the chat. Her voice is particularly unprocessed (we hate to say “raw,” but there it is). During the making of Stronger Clarkson and the producers strove to record her voice as it’s heard at live shows, with as little adornment (or Auto-Tune) as possible. Clarkson’s backup vocals, however, sound a lot like Clarkson herself—because she insisted on recording them, a fact she attributed to a love of harmonies and a past as a choir nerd. Both of these tactics are quite effective, which is probably at least as indicative about the rest of the album as the way “Mr. Know It All” sounds. October 30 can’t come soon enough. Read more…
Apparently, the songs leaked while Clarkson was on vacation, so she returned to hear the news, with no knowledge of how the songs got out into the world. None of the tracks were close to completion, and they range from a few that will end up (in finished form) on her forthcoming album to some that were written off during sessions for her 2003 album Thankful (and in some cases were actually songs written for others to perform). Clarkson doesn’t say which are which among “Let Me Down,” “Cleopatra,” and others, but certainly the ones written for others are not so valuable anymore. It’s not just the value, though; Clarkson told the magazine, “I’ve been physically robbed a couple of times, but this is much worse.” She refers to the confusion and misperceptions about her new album, her career, and her artistry, based on suppositions using evidence from the demos. She hopes (as do we) that Stronger will clear everything up.
The down home diva Kelly Clarksonannounced a release date (October 25) and a title (Stronger) for her fifth LP yesterday. Clarkson’s fans have been foaming at the mouth for months wondering when this album would officially come out, especially since a few songs (including “Dark Side” and “Let Me Down”) leaked last month and were well-received by her acolytes.
That said, when we first heard that she’d be titling her record Stronger, we couldn’t help but feel like, well, it had been done before. After all, it was only March of this year when country artist Sara Evans released an album bearing the same name. A little bit more research revealed that a handful of other well-known musicians have recorded tracks called “Stronger” in recent years, artists running the gamut from Kanye West to Britney Spears to Mary J. Blige to Faith Hill (the latter two of whom are, like Clarkson, former VH1 Divas). While it is still unclear if Clarkson’s new LP will have a title track of the same name, here’s a look at Kelly’s competition for becoming the strongest of the “Stronger” pack.
Artist: Mary J. Blige, “Stronger” (Listen to the song) Album:More Than A Game (2009) Refrain: “I’m stronger, stronger, stronger / I’m stronger, stronger, stronger” Analysis: This song has very impressive DNA; it was written by Esther Dean, produced by Polow da Don, and sung by one of the best singers in the biz. However, it suffers retroactively because it’s so closely tied to the disappointing career arc of Miami Heat supervillain/choke artist LeBron James. The song first appeared on the soundtrack to the documentary about James’ high school years, More Than A Game, and feels overwhelmingly melodramatic and stripped of its potential anthemic power because of that association. Rating:
After a handful of false-start announcements by the overeager singer, not to mention a bevy of demo leaks, Kelly Clarkson finally, officially, has a release date for her fifth studio album and its first single. The last five months have felt like a long road to a release date, ever since the singer, after recording wrapped in February, announced that the record would not be released until September. (Less than half a year pales in comparison to, say, the wait for Dr. Dre‘s Detox, but can you blame us for being enthusiastic?) But let’s not get bogged down in the false-start specifics. Here’s the news: On August 30th (two weeks from yesterday), single “Mr. Know It All” will be premiered on a live webcast on the singer’s recently relaunched website, before going on sale everywhere a week later. This single is the first from Stronger, an album due out October 25 but available to pre-order now. Get excited.
Demi Lovato unleashes the waterworks in the video for her new single “Skyscraper” (which just debuted at #10 in the Billboard Hot 100)—a rare appearance of tears in a video that is about overcoming a struggle. (More often, the performer in such a song is the supportive voice for a crying actor, as Pink does for Tina Majorino‘s character in the video for “F—king Perfect.”) Of course, despite plenty of crossover into film and television by musical artists, singers are not usually the most emotive actors in their videos. Here are five notable exceptions:
5. Demi Lovato “Don’t Forget”
“Skyscraper” is the big single today, but in the video for her 2009 single “Don’t Forget,” co-written by the Jonas Brothers, Lovato gets out of the rain, only to shed a tear over the lost love she sings about.
When Lil Waynespoke to MTV News last Thursday, he revealed an August 28 release date for Tha Carter IV and promised that the Sorry for the Wait mixtape would drop Tuesday or Wednesday (that is, tomorrow or the day after). The next day, the first mixtape track, “Tunechi’s Back” (based on the “Tupac Back” beat) hit the web. [HT Rap Radar]