‘s first musical performance on Saturday Night Live
tonight (December 21) was 20/20 Experience — 2 Of 2
standout “Only When I Walk Away.” For the first time in quite some time, he wasn’t joined by the Tennessee Kids on stage, instead appearing in front of a massive projection of his face and surrounded by lasers. It was a strikingly modern presentation compared to the restrained retro aesthetic he’s been flaunting for the majority of the year, and it totally worked.
And then he went in the complete opposite direction for his second song, the utterly maudlin, completely flaccid album closer “Pair Of Wings.” It sounded pretty or whatever, but it was a huge letdown after the invigorating energy he brought the first time around.
Watch “Only When I Walk Away” up top, then try to stay awake through “Pair Of Wings” below. More »
wasn’t hosting Saturday Night Live
tonight (December 21), but he wasted no time showing up in a sketch, appearing in the cold open that repurposed his dancing “Bring It On Down To…” mascot character, this time for WrappinVille. He started out with a gift-wrapping version of Ludacris
‘ “Roll Out,” and was then joined by host Jimmy Fallon
for a medley of Christmas present-themed spoofs of hits, including Gotye
‘s “Somebody That I Used To Know” (“Some Presents That I Used To Know”) and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
‘ “Thrift Shop.”
Check it out up top. More »
If 2011 is the year EDM-pop broke out, then 2013 is the year it broke. EDM, dance music, electro, dubstep, whatever you call it, it’s not over, of course. But that particularly exhausting strain of EDM-infused pop — the buzzing synths, wobbling bass and that now-predictable moment of tension before the whole arrangement crashes down in euphoric grandeur — is in steady decline, now a tiresome trope on the level of late ’90s rock singers emulating Eddie Vedder
. Poptronica’s hegemony has ended, with unpredictable diversity filling the void as pop necessarily sheds its molly-soaked skin.
The tipping point came at the end of the year with the release of two major albums by two major stars. First ARTPOP, which found Lady Gaga wringing every last drop of blood out of steroidal laser-pop, trying to do it more baroquely and frantically than everyone else on the charts. She pretty much achieved this, but it was self-sabotage — Gaga smothered otherwise strong songs and hooks with a phalanx of squelches and bloops and over-synthesized digital fuckery. We had hit peak EDM.
Rising up on the other end of that seesaw, then, was Beyonce. Rather, Beyonce. Bey was never a candidate for the electro fad, but on December 13 we saw just how far her music stood above the manufactured noise of her contemporaries. Rather than compress everything into a coked out, high-energy bender, Yonce let her songs unspool over languid atmospherics and squishy beats. There was art in her pop, and also room to breathe. The staggering sales numbers dwarfed ARTPOP‘s, suggesting listeners have grown tired of the constant endorphin rush; thus, the greatest accomplishment of Bey’s fifth album ambush may very well be that it served as the knockout blow sending EDM-pop to the canvas. More »
still hasn’t given an interview about her chart-busting fifth album
but she did drop by iTunes radio to introduce the LP. And in the spirit of her new fearless approach to music and media, Mrs. Carter did not hold back. She was very open about giving each collaborator their due and had some choice words to say about “Bow Down”
“It’s really difficult to find a song with such a strong message that doesn’t feel preachy. Sia is such a genius, the second I heard the song I’m like I have to sing this song,” Bey said of album-opener “Pretty Hurts”. “I don’t care how hard I have to fight for the song, this is my song!” As for the pageant based video? Well, they are “the most humiliating, judgmental place you can be as a woman.”
There was also praise for Boots (“a new producer that I completely respect”), a fun anecdote about the “Blow” video (“one of my first dates with my first boyfriend was at Funplex [the roller rink where it was shot] and now I got the whole Funplex… rented out!”) and an insight into the making of rap-interlude “Yonce” (“I love it because it’s really organic. The drumbeat was actually done in the studio by Justin Timberlake, he just started beating on this bucket”). More »
Did You Hear?
:: Taylor Swift turned 24 on December 13, and as photos show, she invited Lorde to her birthday party. Just a few months ago, the “Royals” singer faced backlash for critiquing the standards that Swift set for young listeners — that is, “so flawless and so unattainable.” Clearly, Swift took her words in stride. [MTV]
:: Music video director Joseph Kahn claims responsibility for a “director’s cut” of Britney Spears‘ “Perfume” video, beefed up with scenes from Justin Timberlake‘s “TKO” video. Never forget. [Twitter]
:: Cyndi Lauper will appear during The Colbert Report‘s “Christmas Carols Week,” which starts today (December 16). For a taste of what to expect, watch “Jingle Man and Christmas Boy.” Now. [Digital Spy]
:: Celine Dion wants to try acting, but she admits to having her limits. Notably, she says that she isn’t interested in following Carrie Underwood‘s footsteps into NBC’s live Sound of Music special. “I’m not crazy about musicals, to be honest with you,” she says. [NPR]
:: Actor Will Ferrell admits that he was intimidated by Kanye West while filming Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, especially since he was playing Yeezus (one of our best albums of 2013) repeatedly on set. “We got a scared 18-year-old intern to ask him to turn them down,” he says. [E!]
After the jump, find out what music you can catch on TV today. More »
assembled an army of R&B experts and pop luminaries on her self-titled fifth album
. She reunited with producers who had a hand in some previous favorites (The-Dream
, Frank Ocean
, Ryan Tedder
), linked up with new blood (Hit-Boy
‘s Caroline Polachek
) and brought on producers whose names you may not know but whose work you definitely know (Key Wane
, frequent Ke$ha
). Oh, and there’s also some really
new blood care of a Blue Ivy
The primary players include Pharrell, the Midas touch trifecta of Justin Timberlake, J-Roc and Timbaland (as with 20/20 Part 2, they left no clunky sex metaphor unturned) and a pop mysterion known as Boots (#whoisboots). Sia, Drake, Noah “40″ Shebib and Miguel also notched credits on the mega-release. As for the videos, everyone from Terry Richardson to frigging Lil Internet to Bey herself had directing duties.
That’s a whole lot of people, and we don’t know what kind of threats were hovering over them to prevent details from leaking out, but it worked and now we have Beyonce. So below, find the full credits broken down in an easier-to-read song-by-song list. More »
We interrupt this Beyonce-cast
with a bit of other
news. But it still involves Beyonce, so, stick with it for a second. Billboard
has begun rolling out its year-end coverage, and that means the list of 2013′s 25 highest grossing tours is out. Since the numbers are tallied from November 14, 2012 to November 12, 2013, it makes sense that Lady Gaga
isn’t in the top spot, nor is Justin Timberlake —
their tours started later this year. But then you have acts like Beyonce
, Taylor Swift
and Justin Bieber
, who’ve all been touring for seemingly that entire time, and yet they failed to reach the top spot. What’s more, they were beat out by a past-their-prime band at #1 (Bon Jovi
) and a dead guy at #2 (Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson Immortal tour). Pink
slides in at #3 as the first active pop star on the list, pulling in $147.9 million.
Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones and Swift also made the top 10. Last year’s top earner, Madonna, came in at #14. See the full list below, head to Billboard for a more in-depth look at the entries. More »
Last week we posted our editors’ picks for the Best Albums Of 2013
, but the year-end roundups don’t end there! Between November and December, we posted two polls — one asking you to vote for the best LPs released between January and June
of this year, and one with a poll for albums released between July and December
. We’ve now compiled all the data, read all your comments and put together the 2013 edition of Idolator’s reader picks for the Best Albums Of The Year.
As with many things in life, it’s good to get a second opinion. Interestingly, three of the below albums — Tegan And Sara‘s Heartthrob, Pet Shop Boys‘ Electric and Selena Gomez‘s Stars Dance — where on the Idolator roundup we previously posted. Head below to see all the other albums you chose as your faves from ’13! More »
If you were up as the sun rose and watching either TV or your Twitter feed, then you no doubt saw nominations for the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards flying by. Steve McQueen
‘s 12 Years A Slave
and David O. Russell
‘s American Hustle
lead the pack with seven nods apiece.
As for the music categories, Coldplay earned a Best Original Song nomination for “Atlas,” from the soundtrack to current box office champ The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, while others recognized in the category include U2 for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom‘s “Ordinary Love”, Taylor Swift for One Chance‘s “Sweeter Than Fiction” (co-written by fun.‘s Jack Antonoff) and Justin Timberlake, among other co-writers and co-performers, for Inside Llewyn Davis‘ “Please Mr. Kennedy.”
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will return to host the 2014 Golden Globes in Beverly Hills, on January 12. Head below to catch the full roundup of Best Original Song and Best Original Score nominees. More »
It wasn’t a bad year for pop, after all was said and done: At the very least, 2013 was the year that Justin Timberlake
returned to the charts with not one, but two
albums (one of which
was pretty great!), and the One Direction
album proved those kids’ mettle as one of the most unexpectedly solid acts cranking out pop-rock tunes, and there were sleeper hits from artists like Lorde
and Icona Pop
that demonstrated great songs can always triumph on radio, even without a Pitbull
radio remix or production from Dr. Luke
. But the big divas I love most of all failed me this year with their expensive, hotly tipped albums: They didn’t deliver, plain and simple, and it’s clear to see I’m not alone in that take by how the albums sold and how the critics received them.
Consider four of the biggest pop divas who dropped records this year: Katy Perry, with her Michael Jackson-besting track record as a singles artist; Miley Cyrus, whose reinvention dominated headlines all year long; Lady Gaga, who had heralded ARTPOP as an epoch-defining release; and Britney Spears, who actually didn’t turn out to be up to much after all was said and done but who’s still, y’know, Britney Spears. More »