Why Has Foxy Brown Been Sequestered From Gen Pop?

Aug 29th, 2007 // Comment

brown.jpgLet’s start a rumor about Foxy Brown’s latest prison escapades everybody! And then spread it over the Internet willy nilly! (Between the “Daily Swarm keeps flogging the MBV reunion” thing and the “Jay-Z threatens to throw Rihanna out a window” nonsense that I saw on a few of the hip-hop blogs, it seems to be a good week for unsubtantiated rumors. And everyone certainly loves a Foxy Brown-related post, now don’t they?) XXL reports that crazy ol’ Inga has been forced to eat her prison gruel and thow the medicine ball around while separated from the other inmates due to “unknown security reasons.” And the results are apparently not pretty:

“She’s [alone] all day, every day,” inmate Donalay tells the NY Post. “They’re just keeping her away from everybody.” Teresa Pandolfo, an inmate who was placed in a cellblock near Foxy, also tells the Post, “Everyone who passes by looks at her. She’s usually sleeping or reading her books.” Pandolfo also says Foxy’s looks have taken a toll from her stay at Rikers. “Her hair looks like whoever did it ran,” she says. “That’s how much the weave is coming apart.” Through interviews with ex-inmates, the Post reports that correctional officers at Rikers have threatened inmates not to look or interact with Foxy. Regardless, “She’s friendly,” says Thomas. “She’s not uppity.”

But why? Did she shiv someone in the laundry room? Has another prisoner put a bounty on her rapidly fraying weave? Okay, it’s probably something boringly prosaic like “quasi-famous people get special privleges.” The Oz-esque scenarios I’m working out in my head are way better.

Foxy Brown Restricted From General Population On Rikers Island [XXL]

Aug 29th, 2007 // Comment

ne-yo.jpgNe-Yo wrote “six to eight” songs for Britney Spears, but they wound up going to Nicole Scherzinger once Britney’s label people stopped returning his calls–only to ring him up angrily once they found out Scherzinger was getting them. Also, Because Of You is coming out in a brand-new edition just in time for the holidays. Also, Ryan Seacrest should give Fergie and Alicia Keys enunciation lessons. The consonants–my ears! [KIIS]

You Knew It Was Coming: Teenage Girls Now Really Do Control The Music Industry

Aug 29th, 2007 // 3 Comments

In yet another a grim perky and all-smiles example of how music marketing now leeches off of the enthusiasm of young people allows them to make money (like selling Grit!) while also helping to promote the bands they love, a 17-year-old girl from Detroit named Ashley Qualls (no relation to DJ) gets more hits for her Web site Whateverlife than probably all of the music blogs you read put together. (About 7 million a month, in fact.) Not just that, but the canny/lucky Qualls is making a buttload of cash because the creator of a YouTube-style online video widget–which must be downloaded before it can be installed on your own Web site, rather than just C+P’ing the code–told her she could make a lot of money depending on how many readers downloaded it from her site:

After being hired by Columbia Records to launch an inexpensive online campaign to create Hanson Brothers-like buzz for the new group Jonas Brothers, More surfed MySpace to research the band’s fans and discovered Whateverlife was a routine stop for free layouts. He asked Qualls, then 16, to feature the video player on her home page. She’d get paid based how many people took the widget elsewhere. In less than two months, Nabbr had 60,000 new distribution points for its video Mandy. The song eventually reached No. 4 on MTV’s Total Request Live, despite no radio play. Zilch. That just doesn’t happen, says Steve Greenberg, the former president of Columbia and the producer behind the Hanson Brothers. But it does now.
“That’s what made the whole thing intriguing,” says Greenberg. “This teenager girl in the Midwest got more views for our video than YouTube. Way more. It wasn’t even close.”
Whateverlife is now a key member of Nabbr’s network of influential teen sites. “She’s helped break Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and 30 Seconds to Mars,” More says of Qualls. “She was instrumental in breaking Lily Allen.” Which is why Allen thanked Qualls in a Nabbr video that appeared on Whateverlife. Fans, of course, shared the spot, spreading the word and giving Whateverlife instant cache. See how this works?

Hasn’t this guy ever heard of street teams? They’ll do it for free, you know.

Now there’s no direct relation to the popularity of Qualls’ Web site and the fact that the Jonas Bros made it to TRL, at least that I can figure from this article, but Mr. Greenberg’s got something of a point. Except one must remember that the first Jonas Brothers record tanked pretty soundly thanks to tomfoolery at the label, which just proves you can lead an audience to TRL through viral video but you can’t necessarily make them buy the album if you can’t easily, you know, buy the album. So far this is a one-off phenomenon, but things should get interesting if and when more labels/companies start throwing money (or the potential for money–clever, that) at teenagers simply because their sites get a lot of hits from other kids looking for Zac Efron wallpapers. We’re either looking at another viral marketing dead end, a generation of kids being used as drug mules for teenpop videos, or a future crop of record-exec Doogie Howsers.

When Nabbr Met Whateverlife [Fast Company with a tip o' the hat to reader Michaela Drapes (a.k.a. The Rich Girls Are Weeping's Cindy Hotpoint), who shares our rubbernecking fascination with the means of marketing being put in the hands of high school juniors.]

Building The “Perfect” iTunes Beast, Cont’d.: Is The World Supposed To Be Flat?

Aug 29th, 2007 // 21 Comments

flat.pngLittle did I know yesterday, when I dashed off a quick post about the allegedly “perfect” iTunes graphic-equalizer setting, that I’d be setting off a comments-box firestorm; quite a few people not only bristled at the suggestion that a one-size-fits-all setting could be implemented for music (especially given the lossy nature of MP3s, crummy speakers you’re listening to said lossy files through, etc.), but a lot of people were offended by the idea of tweaking the EQ settings at all. Bad-album-art tipster extraordinare Lucas Jensen, who makes and records music, hit me backchannel with an explanation for that rationale that, in these terms, pretty much makes sense:

“The perfect setting equals no setting, just good quality rips and good speakers. People work HARD to get stuff sounding the way that they want it to–we don’t just mix any way we want. I think bass and treble knobs are plenty. Put it this way: If you don’t like the colors in a movie, you don’t adjust the tint in your TV. You just don’t like the color. It’s not totally analogous, but it’s the choice of the director–or the musical artist–however misguided, to make that sound the way it is. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Admittedly not all speakers are made the same, so compensations can be made. But a perfect setting–theoretically–is a flat one.”

Earlier: Building The Perfect iTunes Beast: Can It Be Done?

Aug 29th, 2007 // 2 Comments

A report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation comes to two conclusions: first, that the RIAA’s lawsuit campaign isn’t exactly serving as a deterrent from file-swapping; and second, the real answer to the piracy problem is flat-fee, unlimited peer-to-peer filesharing that all the labels will participate in. [Ars Technica]

Jimmy Eat World Take The Freudian Route In The Worst Album Cover Of The Year Race

Aug 29th, 2007 // 15 Comments

jimmyeatme.jpg

MEANWHILE, EARLIER TODAY AT THE IDOLATOR OFFICES:

Maura: Oh my god, this Jimmy Eat World cover.
Maura: VAGINA.
Jess: What?
Maura: It should be in your inbox.
Jess: Zounds.
Jess: THE EYE OF SAURON.
Maura: Uh, dude, it’s a vag.
Maura: Anyway, is the indie rock poll ready?
Jess: Dude, what do you think everyone thought the Eye of Sauron really was?
Maura: I don’t know!
Jess: Anyway yes, I told you about that.
Jess: About the indie post, I mean. Not about J.R.R. Tolkien’s penchant for vagina imagery.
Maura: Oh, okay, sorry. I missed it because my eyes went loco after looking at that giant feathered vagina metaphor.

LATER:

Jess: The Jimmy Eat World thing is ready.
Maura: Oh no, my lack of Tolkien knowledge has been outed.
Maura: EVERYONE WILL KNOW HOW I FELL ASLEEP AT THE LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIE.

Idolator Wants To Know When You Were Most Indie

Aug 29th, 2007 // 62 Comments

lolindie.jpgSo Matos and I got to chatting yesterday, prompted by Maura’s “O.O.P.” entry on Unrest (a band both of us really dislike), which led us to talking about his own last installment on Imperial Teen’s Seasick (a band he loves and I like just fine), which led (somehow) to him mentioning that he thought 1998 was his most “indie rock” year, i.e. the year that indie rock releases filled up his own personal Top 10, squeezing out the rave and the rap and the whatnot. And then we started wondering how the rest of Idolator’s readership feels about the question. (By which I mean Matos said we should do a poll.) So we want to know what year your own list of favorites was dominated by indie rock records to the exclusion of all else. Which is, of course, just another year of saying what year was the best year for indie rock.

The idea for this poll came up just a few days after someone else had commented on how much indie rock I seemed to be listening to over the last few years, as if it was some shocking revelation. Among our friends (and a few not-so-friends), Matos and myself are both kind of known for a certain … combativeness about indie rock’s ubquity among online (and otherwise) journalists that (for me anyway, I won’t presume to speak for M.) is born out of equal parts love for the music and a deep, deep suspicion of the critical cant that can go along with it. (At the end of the day I’m more pop-punk/emo than indie rock. And c’mon, that’s totally not hairsplitting.)

So on one level I’m just having fun with expectations. But it’s also a way for me to answer a question that’s been rumbling around in my head since I started here (especially after the comments box explosion that was the “Pitchfork reviews This Is Next post): Even with all of our Britney shenanigans and Kanye handjobs and disco foolishness, just how much of an indie rock-listening audience makes up Idolator?

And of course, I’m really just curious about the answer to the secret question: What do you guys think was indie rock’s best year? Or at least your favorite, if you have to make that kind of distinction. The 1986 start point is not random, but my reasoning is too convoluted to get into here. Oh, and comments box explanations for your personal pick are pretty much required. Defend those choices! Arguments about the definition of “indie,” and which bands fall into it and which don’t, are also encouraged if only because they tend to be hilarious–just keep it polite, folks.

P.S. If the last option ends up actually winning, I’m taking you all out for ice cream.

P.P.S. Mine is ’94. Or maybe 2007, at the rate I’m going.

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“High School Musical” Is Still In For The Summer

Aug 29th, 2007 // 3 Comments

hsm2222.jpgThe soundtrack to High School Musical held on to the No. 1 slot again this week, selling 367,000 copies (a 40% dip from last week), or a total that outpaced the No. 2 album–Talib Kweli’s Eardrum, making its debut on the chart–by a margin of approximately 6:1.

Biggest Debuts: Swizz Beatz (No. 7) and As I Lay Dying (No. 8) both debuted in the top 10; meanwhile, a lot of kids who are willing to call themselves “indie” hit the stores for what was kind of the Super Tuesday of that not-really-a-genre, as M.I.A. (No. 18, 29,000 sales), Rilo Kiley (No. 22, 27,000 sales), and the New Pornographers (No. 34, 20,000 sales) all had sales around each other. I’m going to go out on a limb and peg the percentage of people who bought Challengers as well as the M.I.A. and Rilo Kiley albums at around 40%, but anyone with harder data than my hunches can correct me in comments.

Notable Jumps: Way down the chart, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled album experienced a whopping 209% sales increase, proving–like Paramore did last week–that incessant MTV exposure can help sell records, sort of. (Paramore, for their part, took a 24% sales hit and dropped out of the top 20.)

Dropping Off: UGK’s Underground Kingz took a 42% dip and fell from No. 6 to No. 10; the Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds live album experienced a 59% sales hit, dropping from No. 3 to No. 19.

Nickelback Award For Inexplicable Durability: Ladies and gentlemen, Nickelback is back in the top 10; the 5% uptick in sales (39,000; last week 37,000) they experienced over the past week was enough to push them up to the No. 9 spot. Can we blame the link from Paper Thin Walls last week for opening an entirely new demographic’s eyes up to their irresistibility? Perhaps.

The top 20, with estimated sales totals in parentheses:
1. High School Musical 2 soundtrack (367,000)
2. Talib Kweli, Eardrum (60,000)
3. Hannah Montana 2 (58,000)
4. Hairspray soundtrack (52,000)
5. Now 25 (52,000)
6. Fergie, The Dutchess (50,000)
7. Swizz Beatz, One Man Band Man (45,000)
8. As I Lay Dying, Ocean Between Us (39,000)
9. Nickelback, All The Right Reasons (39,000)
10. UGK, Underground Kingz (35,000)
11. The Jonas Brothers (35,000)
12. Linkin Park, Minutes To Midnight (34,000)
13. T.I., T.I. Vs. T.I.P. (33,000)
14. Amy Winehouse, Back To Black (33,000)
15. Common, Finding Forever (30,000)
16. Taylor Swift (30,000)
17. High School Musical soundtrack (29,000)
18. M.I.A., Kala (29,000)
19. Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, Live At Radio City Music Hall (29,000)
20. Cartel (28,000)

Idolator Counts Down The 100 Greatest R&B Songs Of All Time (With My Mom) Part Four

Aug 29th, 2007 // 6 Comments

saraandme.jpgIn case you missed our earlier installments: A few months ago, Idolator’s Michaelangelo Matos sent out an e-mail to a handful of his associates with a proposition: Give me a list of your 100 favorite R&B songs. Well, those months went by and the only person to turn in a completed list was…my mother. In the third installment of Kathleen Turner’s 100 Greatest R&B Songs of All Time (with bonus YouTube links), we discover the secret origin of my sister’s name (she’s the one who looks like an adorable chipmunk in that picture there), learn that it’s okay to let 10-year-olds dance with robots at a nightclubs, and are teased with this tantalizing (and slightly disturbing) bit of foreshadowing: “(Jess: Sly will appear again in the top 10. And the event of your true conception will be revealed then!)”

Once again, aside from cleaning up the spelling and grammar here and there (and the occasional editor’s note where applicable), I have left her musings mostly intact.

40. James Brown – “Sex Machine”

Now the real fun begins. Cause we are doing the top 40, and I am now all about this! James Brown and the Famous Flames, KING records, 98 entries on Billboard’s Top 40 and no one had surpassed that! He is the real deal heavy funk! And if you think “there is no avenue of escape,” there is!

39. Aretha Franklin – “Chain of Fools”

If James is the Godfather and Isaac is Moses, Aretha is most certainly the Queen of Soul. 17 Grammies. Go ahead and top that all you cool bloggers who think you know it all. I think not! First woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This song is for every woman who has loved someone who treated them mean and still wanted them. I could tell all of you young girls a thing or two or three about that!

38. Marvin Gaye – “Sexual Healing”

I want the kind of love that Marvin had for Tammi Terrell. What a love (and song) explosion. With Ashford and Simpson writing and producing, certainly a win-win combination. 67 singles on Billboard. I have the Marvin Is 60 CD, my boy gave it to me, a great tribute with the likes of Erykah and D’Angelo. I highly suggest you purchase it!

37. Mary Jane Girls – “All Night Long”

These were the original Spice Girls, circa the ’80s. So you can all take your Spice Girls posters down now! Invented by Rick James, who also will appear later on this list. And what was Teena Marie thinking, loving that bad boy? And what about that name that Rick concocted for them? Well you know my theory: pot is not a drug!

36. Dazz Band – “Let It Whip”

Okay BoyzII Men, get real. There is only one real version of this song! And it is the Daze Band!

35. Lakeside – “Fantastic Voyage”

I am now getting self-righteous about this. Coolio! I need to write about the real deal, Lakeside. These boys were the bomb, coming out on stage with their black jump-suits on and being all about it.

34. Hall and Oates – “Sara Smile”

Blue-eyed-soul or rock-and-soul?

So, it is 1980 and I am having my second baby. My first husband was allowed to name the first, Jess. And so I am going to name the second, the sweetest child. And because these Philly Boys are so special to me, I named her Sara. When this song plays on the radio, I still cry. She is the pride of my life.

Hall and Oates teamed with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, and my GOD how great was that? 30 years Darryl and his Sara were together. This past Fourth of July they appeared live in Philly and Sara and her friends partied down. We shared numerous phone calls during the concert and the truest comment I made was that I would still do the nasty with Darryl in a heart beat! And my Sara still has the smile of an angel!

(Editor’s note: From doing the nasty to the smile of an angel in the space of a sentence…that kinda sums her up, really.)

33. Steve Arrington – “Weak In The Knees”

(Best I could do, y’all.)

Told you he would appear again in the top 40! His “Dancin’ In The Key Of Life” is also the best. Truly a breakthrough artist, from soul to gospel.

32. The O’Jays – “Living For The Weekend”

I want you all to know that the repeated Philly connection on this list was not intentional; I picked these songs strictly because I love them. But, this is truly The Sound of Philadelphia, the backbone group for Gamble and Huff. Go Eddie Levert!

31. The Temptations – “Since I Lost My Baby”

There was nothing that compared to the Classic Five lineup of the Temps. And we have to give just kudos to Otis Williams–the only original member that is still kickin’ it!

30. Stephanie Mills – “Home”

Such a little girl with such a big voice, and such a great song from such a STUPID movie! Go figure. “When I think of home, my friend’s smilin’ down on me.” They say you can’t go home again. But you can.

29. Guy – “Groove Me”

Since my mind is going–as you know!–I really can’t remember which birthday party it was, but it was definitely for Jess’ sister Sara. This song reminds me of that party. We are at Pulsations nightclub–always a good idea to have a child’s party at a nightclub, right? And her wish for that birthday was that the big robot the nightclub had as a special prop would descend from the ceiling and dance with her. And it did! Thrills! Her only other wish is to be bounced off the belly of the Philly Phanatic, and I am working on that still.

28. Issac Hayes – “Don’t Let Go”

From “Shaft” to “Chef.” You know, if I won an Oscar, I would just sit and look at it! If anyone I know makes it, I am to be there at the Academy Awards, and when they accept, they are to look out into the audience and I will be there to acknowledge that I was their inspiration. Okay, I am ready for my close-up! Oh and Isaac, with that shaved head and the chains! Oh Lordy!

27. The Isley Brothers – “Who’s That Lady”

Now here is one of the greatest! Six decades on Billboard! And the longest-running charted group in history! And Ronald is still smokin’ with my pal R. Kelly. And they gave Jimi Hendrix his start. My little heart is racing. I am getting so excited that I have to stop or my computer will blow up! One of the best guitar solos ever!

26. Ohio Players – “Skin Tight”

So I have been blabbing on about how great Philly was. And it was! But Ohio has produced some of the greatest as well. And no one has beat the Ohio Players’ album covers. So influenced by Sly Stone, who appears in my Top 10. And what is it about Bonner’s voice? There are really ’70s FUNK!

25. The Whispers – “It’s A Love Thing”

What is with that name? There is nothing quiet about these boys. And the twins! Oh my! Rocksteady,,,,everyone knows how to groove to this one! So while everyone else I knew was watching American Bandstand, I was watching Soul Train, and the Whispers recorded for Don Cornelius’ label. Every time I dance–and this girl knows how to groove–I am secretly on Soul Train.

24. Wilson Pickett – “Mama Told Me Not To Come”

(No clip available, sorry y’all.)

Okay so I am in high school and while the other losers were listening to “Telephone Line” by ELO and “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent, I was grooving to the WICKED! And with a keyboardist like Isaac Hayes how can you beat that? Wilson was ferocious! And he called his Mama the baddest woman in his book. Is that how you think of me Jess?

23. Barry White – “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe”

Well now. “Every time we had love and made love.” Sing it to me! Great karaoke song for you guys with deep voices. And I hope everyone appreciates how many children were conceived with his music. Okay now for all of you over 35s, let us remember the “Banana Splits.” Come on, you do! And the scary witch? Now am I making you all feel creepy? Okay, calm down. Barry’s songs were also recorded on the “Banana Splits” show!

22. Otis Redding – “Tramp”

With Carla Thomas, and what a great pair they made. He was only 26 years old at the time of his death, and I just can’t imagine how much we ended up losing with this man. With the Bar-Kays, Jerry Butler, Booker T and the MG’s, and Sam and Dave. I can’t stand this! How wonderful were these voices!

21. Sly and the Family Stone – “Family Affair”

So it is 1973 and this song is still grooving. And playing repeatedly on the way to Watkins Glen’s Summer Jam with my girlfriends. 600,000 people. Was too young for Woodstock but made sure we went to this one! And waking up in the back of an unknown VW beetle with some guy and then taking him home to meet your parents? Always a good idea. Check out this web site. I think I am in the picture “The Road #2.” Guess who I am?

Andrew WK Does Not Need A Wake-Up Call

Aug 28th, 2007 // 8 Comments


So after a lengthy delay, the third album by white T-shirt-wearer/motivational speaker/artist whose show in Philadelphia a few years back resulted in my only bone-dislocation ever Andrew WK is out in the States today, and what with today being maybe the second-slowest-news-day of my entire tenure writing this site, I figured passing along this info would at least brighten the day of one member of the Idolator faithful, if not more. Also, relistening to “Not Going To Bed” is seriously making me rethink my priorities, since there have been multiple occasions this week alone when I have, in fact, fallen asleep watching cable. Maybe that means it’s time for me to go out there, seize the day, and dislocate my other shoulder!

Andrew WK – Not Going To Bed [YouTube]
Andrew WK [Load]