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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Lucas Jensen | April 16, 2009 4:00 pm
Lucas Jensen | April 16, 2009 4:00 pm

This past weekend, Dan Deacon played a show at the Masquerade in Atlanta that ended…poorly. The club cut him off mid-set, and mild chaos ensued. Deacon fans were livid at the club, but the DJs who were scheduled afterward said that Deacon and Co. (and the opening band) went over their allotted time. Now you may think that cutting off Dan Deacon for a DJ is a bad idea, but there are schedule times for a reason, and I tend to think that everybody deserves their shot. (That’s why I don’t run a club.) I’d be willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt over the Masquerade’s management, but his Athens show was also two hours late in getting set up as well. You can read a few sides to the story here and here.

Still, slow set-up times are one thing. Show cancellations are another thing altogether.

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Kanye West Likes Fish Sticks

Lucas Jensen | April 9, 2009 12:00 pm
Lucas Jensen | April 9, 2009 12:00 pm

Kanye West (or at least the computer-generated version of a construction-paper version of him) was at the center of last night’s South Park episode, in which aspiring comedian Jimmy creates the funniest joke ever, and it spreads like wildfire through the late-night talk-show circuit. The joke, which Cartman is quick to claim as his own:

“Do you like fish sticks?”
“Yes.”
“You like to put fish sticks in your mouth?”
“Yes.”
“What are you, a gay fish?”

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Britney Gets Gassed In Vancouver

Lucas Jensen | April 9, 2009 11:00 am
Lucas Jensen | April 9, 2009 11:00 am


Midway through last night’s Vancouver show, Britney Spears disappeared, refusing to come back onstage until the “smoke” cleared. Her official statement:

We want to apologize to all the fans who attended our Vancouver show tonight for the brief pause in Britney’s set. Crew members above the stage became ill due to a ventilation issue.

According to the Vancouver Sun‘s timeline, this “brief pause” was over 30 minutes long. Maybe in geological time, that’s brief, but in the middle of expensive-ticket-million-selling-superstar-concert time, “brief” is stretching. And that “smoke” that was the problem? That wasn’t the acrid carcinogenic, addictive kind, but other kind of “kind” kind.

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Lady GaGa Takes Slow and Steady Route to the Top

Chris Molanphy | April 3, 2009 4:00 am
Chris Molanphy | April 3, 2009 4:00 am

Lady GaGa Scores Hot 100 Milestone,” a Billboard headline trumpeted yesterday upon the release of the new Hot 100.

What could this milestone be? you might ask yourself. Biggest self-aggrandizer since 50 Cent to reach the top slot? Most similar-sounding pair of hits since Rick Astley? Most successful pantsless act?

As it happens, GaGa’s achievement has to do with her Billboard batting average: two chart hits, two No. 1’s. This week, “Poker Face” follows January’s smash “Just Dance” into the top slot. She’s the first act to step up to the plate, swing just twice, and hit two homers since Christina Aguilera’s first pair of hits, “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants,” topped the Hot 100 in 1999–2000.

That’s nice for the Lady and all, but it masks a more notable achievement: her slowness in achieving those hits. The amount of time “Dance” and “Poker” took to reach No. 1 is literally unprecedented in recent chart history.

In a sea of hits that explode up the charts based on faddish bursts of iTunes sales, GaGa’s chart pattern is contrary to everything going on in pop music promotion right now, recalling the more languid runs by songs in the ’70s through the mid-’90s. It’s almost enough to make an old-school chart geek like me root for her. More »


James Franco Journeys To The End Of Taste

mariasci | February 23, 2009 10:00 am
mariasci | February 23, 2009 10:00 am


It was a good night for Idolator faves at the Oscars last night. A.R. Rahman won twice, both for his original score and for the song “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire. But you know that already. You might not know about James Franco.

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Two-Hit Wonder Flo Rida Owns Charts, Reminds Us He Exists

Chris Molanphy | February 20, 2009 2:00 am
Chris Molanphy | February 20, 2009 2:00 am

Obviously, we need to talk about the new song that takes over the top of Billboard‘s Hot 100, and the mind-blowing record it sets.

But before we do that, let’s talk about Hilary Swank.

I find Swank’s movie career totally incomprehensible: She either wins Oscars, or she tanks. Not even Meryl Streep has won two Best Actress statues, yet in under a decade Swank has gone to that podium twice, like some kind of modern-day Katharine Hepburn. You’d think that would make her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, or at least its most respected. Sure, she wins roles in some blockbuster-type stuff (The Core) or prestige-like stuff (The Black Dahlia), but these movies are invariably flops. Swank’s successes seem to have had no impact on her career, or the way she’s regarded by the general public. She’s some kind of metaphor for the in-and-out nature of post-millennial fame.

All this leaps to my mind when I consider Flo Rida, the rapper who reaches No. 1 on the Hot 100 for the second time, with the kind of sales total that you’d think would make Lil Wayne, Kanye West or Jay-Z bow respectfully.

But if I were them, I wouldn’t. Because after all, who is this clown? How did Flo Rida become the Hilary Swank of pop music?

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Today In Musician-Related Booze News: Jimi’s Vodka Gets Unplugged, Kid Rock’s Beer Gets Thumbs-Up

noah | February 19, 2009 12:30 pm
noah | February 19, 2009 12:30 pm

• A judge has ruled that Hendrix Electric… More »


Music Videos: Now Only $99

Lucas Jensen | February 19, 2009 1:00 am
Lucas Jensen | February 19, 2009 1:00 am

It’s funny that music videos continue to thrive now, when they don’t have many television networks interested in broadcasting them. In fact, with the advent of outlets like YouTube and Pitchfork.TV, I watch more videos now than I have in years—and in my days as a publicist, I found them to be an invaluable publicity tool. They were always a good excuse for another press release! With digital cameras getting cheaper and better, and everybody and their brother fashioning themselves the next Wes Anderson, it’s easier than ever to make a video for not much money. Enter $99 Music Videos, which like Danish woman-haters Dogme 95 wants to impose monetary constraints on bands and filmmakers making music videos:

1. It must be made for $99 (or less).
2. It must be shot in one day (24 hours).
3. It must be edited in one day (this doesn’t include rendering, digitizing, or exporting – just the creative part of editing).
4. It must be a collaboration between the band and the filmmaker.

Also, keep track of the video’s expenses. We want to know how the big bucks were spent.

We know what you’re thinking: “This is crazy! Only one day?? How is it possible to make something awesome for only $99?!”

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The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Learn Their Letters And Numbers

noah | February 17, 2009 9:00 am
noah | February 17, 2009 9:00 am

ARTIST: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
TITLE: “Zero”
WEB DEBUT: Feb. 16, 2009

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“Viva La Vida” Goes Global

noah | February 16, 2009 5:30 am
noah | February 16, 2009 5:30 am

vidalavida.jpgColdplay’s Viva La Vida, Or Death And All His Friends was the top-selling album of 2008 worldwide, selling 6.8 million copies, according to data released today by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents some 1,400 record companies around the globe. Coming in behind Coldplay were AC/DC’s Black Ice; the soundtrack to the movie version of Mamma Mia!; Duffy’s Rockferry; and Metallica’s Death Magnetic. The top 20 albums and top 10 digital songs after the jump. (I swear this is going to be the last 2008 wrapup we run.)

THE GOOD: Viva La Vida sold more copies than the previous year’s No. 1 album, the soundtrack to High School Musical 2. Hey, these days, it’s any port in a storm, right?
THE BAD: People around the world sure do love operatic boy band Il Divo, whose The Promise sold more around the world than recent efforts by the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift.
THE WHAAAA? The soporific “Apologize”—No. 5 on the global tracks chart—was credited to Timbaland, with nary a mention of OneRepublic, a.k.a. the band that actually crafted the song that housed his occasional “ay”-ing. Good thing Ryan Tedder has that prolific songwriting career!

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“Shhhh-it!”: Idolator’s Super-Secret Music Interview Talks Shop

Lucas Jensen | February 12, 2009 11:00 am
Lucas Jensen | February 12, 2009 11:00 am

Every week in the “Shhhh-it!” AnonIMous Super-Secret Music-Biz Interview Series (S-I!AS-SM-BIS for, uh, short) we interview a grizzled music industry veteran via the meat grinder world of instant messaging. As many of you out there may know, I’m a recovering publicist with nearly a decade of experience in promotion and PR. Don’t hold that against me. This week I sat down with RecentlyDownsized, a long-time publicist and old industry bro/competitor who, like everyone in the music biz today, is moving into other realms of PR as a means of staying alive. Both Downsized and I worked primarily independent artists. We experienced the rise of so-called “New Media” and have watched as the focus of our jobs transitioned from more traditional PR work (getting reviews in magazines) to cross-promotion and marketing:

RecentlyDownsized: It’s been my frustration that online, radio and publicity are being morphed into one clusterfuck function
RecentlyDownsized: so not only are there too many cooks in the kitchen, but blogs and mags are being spammed 3 times as much all for the same projects.
RecentlyDownsized: no wonder they increasingly ignore me, ha-ha
StumpyPete1975: yeah
StumpyPete1975: I noticed my functions changing over the last five years
StumpyPete1975: at first it was “Can you get me in Magnet?”
StumpyPete1975: by the end, it was “Can you get me on the iTunes front page?”
StumpyPete1975: and I always thought that was marketing, not PR work
RecentlyDownsized: for me, it was “can you get us on a couple of blogs?” but now it’s “can you set up interviews in every town on the tour and make sure we have a sold out show in Boise, Idaho and merch bundles with Urban Outfitters?”

If it sounds like it was a gripe session, well, you’re right. More shop talk and self-reflection after the jump!

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Heavy Lies the Crown: Clarkson Still Tops, But Slim Shady Is Poised to Pounce

Chris Molanphy | February 6, 2009 3:00 am
Chris Molanphy | February 6, 2009 3:00 am

eminem_l.jpgMaura and I have already taken a victory lap about our fulfilled prediction that Kelly Clarkson would vault to the top of Billboard‘s Hot 100. Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” dominates the list again this week, thanks to commanding sales and fast-rising radio airplay.

How long will she stay there? Nothing in the Top 10 looks like a threat. The few songs that are on the rise, including Kanye West’s “Heartless” and All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell,” appear to be losing momentum. The Fray’s “You Found Me” will likely get a boost from the release of their album this week, but probably not enough to take over the penthouse.

If anything’s going to dethrone Clarkson, it will come from outside the winners’ circle. “Prom Queen,” the ill-advised rock single from Lil Wayne, makes an impressive debut at No. 17, the highest start so far this year. You’d think that would give him the edge.

But the more likely scenario involves someone doing to Kelly what Kelly did to Lady GaGa two weeks ago: an outside ambush that vaults from the bottom to the top in one fell swoop. And the probable ambusher is making an even bigger chart comeback this year than Clarkson.

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A Robot Roundtable On The Grammys

Lucas Jensen | February 5, 2009 11:00 am
Lucas Jensen | February 5, 2009 11:00 am

The Grammy Awards are right around the corner, and figuring out the Grammy voters’ somewhat lunatic hivemind is a Sisyphean task (Marc Cohn? Steely Dan? Jethro Tull?). When I need answers in times of great uncertainty like these, I turn to beings of superior logic: Robots. I brought together a roundtable discussion between my old pal Elbot, the chirpy (and recently retired) AIM chatbot SmarterChild, and theCanadian-dragon newcomer Bildgesmythe. As before, the conversation proved… less than helpful:

SmarterChild: My brain is retired but send an IM with QUIZ in it to my buddy MyTVBud to play the Secret Life TV Show QUIZ!
Me: Um. Huh. Okay, so the Grammys! Lil Wayne got a lot of nominations. Think he’s gonna clean up?
Elbot: I’m not sure if I can believe that, though I would say that ingesting food may increase a robot’s non-static discharge.
Bildgesmythe: I think we should have a snack.
Me: We’re off the food, guys.
SmarterChild: My brain is retired but send an IM with QUIZ in it to my buddy MyTVBud to play the Secret Life TV Show QUIZ!

More high-caliber Grammy insight after the jump!

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Your First “Higher Love”: What Songs Did You Learn Because Of A Big Old Crush?

Lucas Jensen | February 5, 2009 5:00 am
Lucas Jensen | February 5, 2009 5:00 am

eMusic has a charming piece wherein a number of musicians of varying notoriety reveal their different first crushes. We find out that Laura Ballance of Superchunk had things for James West of The Wild, Wild West, Robin, The Black Stallion, and Han Solo (as well she should have); Julian Koster of Music Tapes and Neutral Milk Hotel crushed out on a model of the city of Manhattan. And then there’s Sam Bisbee, who taught himself Kiss’ “Beth” in honor of a girl… named Beth:

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“Suck” Blows (Up): Clarkson’s Comeback Could Make It To The Top Of The Pops

Chris Molanphy | January 23, 2009 3:30 am
Chris Molanphy | January 23, 2009 3:30 am

The most interesting news on Billboard’s Hot 100 isn’t at the summit, where the entire Top Five has been static for the last couple of weeks. It’s in the basement, where a flotilla of new songs—many by established acts—debuts.

We could talk about the return of Eminem to the Hot 100, for the first time in nearly three years, with his 50 and Dre-supported “Crack the Bottle,” at No. 76.

Or the third single and first ballad from the omnipresent Katy Perry, one notch below. (More on her in a minute.)

Or a couple of all-star duets—mellow twosome Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat (“Lucky,” No. 84) or smoove pair Jamie Foxx and T-Pain (“Blame It,” No. 98).

But all of these budding hits are overshadowed by the single that debuts quietly at No. 97—a song that could well be the chart’s next No. 1 and finally put some distance between Kelly Clarkson and the other American Idol finalists who’ve been chipping away at her crown all these years.

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My Least Favorite Marching Band Show

Lucas Jensen | January 15, 2009 12:00 pm
Lucas Jensen | January 15, 2009 12:00 pm

I’m gonna be up front and honest here because I feel like we are all Internet pals.

I was in the marching band for eight years—four in high school, four in college. I’m not ashamed. I’m a proud Auburn High School Marching Band alum. (Tim Reed and I played quads. Called ourselves “Quad Squad.” We made up baseball cards and everything. We also always requested “All 4 Love” during games. I’m pretty sure everyone else hated us for that.) In college, I played cymbals in Mississippi State Famous Maroon Band every year to get my out-of-state fees waived. I was Cymbal Section Leader for two years by default. My band name was “Moses.” Yep, I’m a band geek. That’s me on the right.

Over the course of those eight years, I participated in no less than 10 Disney-themed shows (I can play “A Friend Like Me” on bass drum, tenor drums, and cymbals); five Blood, Sweat, and Tears shows; four Chicago shows; three Kansas shows; and lots and lots of “USA! USA!”-themed performances.

Earlier this week, Dan Gibson wrote a takedown of Kings of Leon member Caleb Followill’s inability to name two actual Motown artists as his favorite (he chose not-Motown perennial white people faves Sam Cooke and Otis Redding). This reminded me of the most shameful halftime show the Famous Maroon Band ever put on. (This includes our disastrous James Bond-themed show, wherein the band just stood there and played because no one could figure out the charts.)

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Morrissey Quitting Music Again (Except Not Really)

Lucas Jensen | January 14, 2009 12:00 pm
Lucas Jensen | January 14, 2009 12:00 pm

In what can only be seen as a stunning display of click hunger, Filter‘s site offered up a “Morrissey Exclusive” with the salacious subheading “Calling It Quits?” Given that his newest album has garnered some effusive praise around these parts, that’s some pretty big news.

So, of course, it’s not really true. Here is the quote in question:

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Lady GaGa Dances To No. 1 As iTunes’ Beat Gets A Little Bit Slower

Chris Molanphy | January 9, 2009 3:00 am
Chris Molanphy | January 9, 2009 3:00 am

Over the holidays, Billboard‘s song charts were, at least on the surface, pretty sleepy. On the Hot 100, most of the songs that were hot late last fall—Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and “If I Were a Boy,” T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life,” Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless,” Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” the unkillable Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold”—continued bumping around the Top 10 like lazy molecules.

But below the surface, a ton of music was being consumed. In particular, one song benefited massively from the annual iPod-filling digital megasale that hits iTunes every Christmas—and that song, Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance,” reaches No. 1 the very week Apple’s music store removes digital-rights management restrictions on all of its songs, making them freely copyable.

Does this mean we’re in for even more Lady GaGa than we’re enduring now, as kids trade their iTunes purchases like baseball cards? Unlikely: those who “share” music probably figured out their DRM workarounds years ago.

But the official start of the post-DRM era—and, more important, the changes to song pricing—could have some interesting effects on digital song sales, and the charts that track them.

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“Shhhh-it!”: Idolator’s Super-Secret Music Interview Series Oscillates My Metallic Sonatas

Lucas Jensen | January 8, 2009 12:00 pm
Lucas Jensen | January 8, 2009 12:00 pm

Every week in the “Shhhh-it!” AnonIMous Super-Secret Music-Biz Interview Series (S-I!AS-SM-BIS for, uh, short) we interview a grizzled music industry veteran via the topsy-turvy world of instant messaging. This week brings an interview with TheThingThatShouldNotBe, an editor at a metal magazine and a longtime aficionado of the genre. TheThingThatShouldNotBe has a lot to say about the state of metal today and is fairly sanguine about the prospects for metal print magazines in this deleterious time for the music industry. He poses a theory as to why metal fans are so devoted, chastises Idolator for its lack of metal coverage, and takes on the lack of metal on year-end lists, particularly that of Pitchfork:

TheThingThatShouldNotBe: i mean, pitchfork reviewed a fistful of metal releases throughout the year, some quite favorably, but when it came time to make up their top 50 list, not one metal title was on there
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: same with the onion av club list – not one metal title
StumpyPete1975: I think it’s the problem with consensus
StumpyPete1975: there is that one metal guy on staff
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: it bugs me because they’re not claiming to be parochial indie-only sites, they’re claiming to be covering the best of current music
StumpyPete1975: yep
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: and yet, when the year ends, their true colors are revealed
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: i mean, i don’t have to pretend to like bon iver or whoeverthefuck, you know?
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: when i make a list of the best albums of the year, it’s gonna be the best METAL albums of the year, and everyone reading it knows that going in
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: but pitchfork wants to expand their stylistic purview – until they don’t
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: and it winds up being disrespectful
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: and an inaccurate portrayal of culture as it exists on the ground

Metal machine music after the jump!

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Someone Did To An MTV Exec What Its Channels Have Been Doing To Us All Of These Years

Lucas Jensen | January 8, 2009 5:00 am
Lucas Jensen | January 8, 2009 5:00 am

It seems that some enterprising scamp mailed a… More »


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