Star-studded. More »
The onetime R.E.M. frontman was a highlight, with his delicate “Ashes To Ashes” performance. More »
Today marks Lady Gaga’s 25th birthday, and it’s hard to fathom all that she’s already accomplished her her short life: five Grammys, three #1 hits on the Hot 100, 15 million album sales, 51 million single sales, nine million Twitter followers and one heck of a collection of clothing in her closet (catch her wildest looks at Celebuzz). But believe it or not, there once was a time when “gaga” was simply known as baby talk. Flip through our gallery to see what was going on in both pop culture and the news when the “Born This Way” singer—known then as simply Stefani Joanne Germanotta—was welcomed into the world. More »
Just like the pop music business, the theater biz seems to have a deep love for that which once worked (despite a series of failures and embarrassments since). People liked Mamma Mia and (to a lesser degree) Movin’ Out, so why not find another artist with a semi-extensive catalog and write a barely plausible script around songs with seemingly nothing in common besides their performer?
I contributed a few blurbs to Spin‘s October feature “Strange Bedfellows,” which detailed the odd nexus where rock music and politics convene. One entry was about the first copyright-snubbing cut-up artist Dickie Goodman and his 1973 assemblage “Soul President Number One.” In it, the first “soul” president is elected, quotes Barry White and the Temptations, and appoints Superfly to head of the FBI. Here’s Dickie’s skewed take on the 1980 presidential campaign:
In the portable-media player era, one of the common gambits for “getting to know” an artist is the celebrity playlist, in which famous people purport to reveal to the world the contents of their digital-music library. Whether these lists of tracks are real or fake or just highly massaged is frequently up for debate, given the sheer number of public-relations types in desperate need of something to do who are still employed by the music industry. But I kind of want to believe in the latest one of these to cross my transom because it comes to us courtesy of American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, who showed the contents of “his iPod” to USA Today as part of the runup to his album’s release next week. If it’s real, it shows just how much the kid has grown since he was annoying the crap out of me every Tuesday night last winter. Sure, some of the songs listed are the sorta-treacly material that made him so annoying during Idol‘s seventh season (hello, Wilson Phillips!), but other tracks are really good! I swear! Five examples of this after the jump.
Whatever you think of the man, it’s fair to say that John McCain has not been able to catch a break in this election. I’m not talking about the self-inflicted wounds, but about all the things over which he genuinely had no control, like the economy tanking, a hurricane hitting New Orleans on the first day of the Republican convention, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki agreeing with Obama’s pullout plan. The campaign has been a sort of running joke of failure for McCain, and one of the best was how musicians kept objecting to his campaigns’ use of particular songs. Heart, Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters, Survivor, John Mellencamp, and half of Van Halen were among the musicians who objected, and the campaign has largely given in to their terroristy demands. This would seem to be another strategic (tactical?) blunder, but the results of a study done by my partner Rachel Arnold and me suggests, rather, that politicians aren’t just uninformed about music–they don’t care about music. And as long as that’s true, these sort of musical gaffes are going to continue.
Last week, Heart’s Wilson sisters got incensed over the McCain/Palin campaign’s playing their song “Barracuda” during the Republican National Convention in honor of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s high-school nickname. The sisters claimed that they were so fired up they sent off a cease and desist to the GOP, and a Republican spokesman coldly said that the song was being rightfully used. So what’s the deal? Slate has helpfully provided a guide to the types of licenses the McCain campaign would need if they’d like to continue using the song.