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Jennifer Lopez’s new video, ‘Amor, Amor, Amor’ is dated, and it’s dated in all the best ways. From her vintage guess shirt to her signature over sized gold hoops with leather joggers and gelled baby hair, she’s rocking a serious throwback to my Miami upbringing. Though I like the song, the video showcases the singer’s seriously hot bod. Watch her work it with an assist from Wisin below.
Taylor Swift had no choice but to reference the infamous Kimye Feud
Though team Kimye said they’re too busy raising their children to address Swift’s digs, it would be impossible for Swift to have taken the high road given the massive hit her brand took for that feud. Though we know “Look What You Made Me Do” is about Kanye given the “tilted stage,” “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” takes some more jabs.
It was so nice being friends again
There I was, giving you a second chance
But then you stabbed in the back while shaking my hand
And therein lies the issue
Friends don’t try to trick you
Get you on the phone and mind-twist you
And so I took an axe to a mended fence
It goes without saying that this verse is enraging. Let me get this straight, Taylor Swift gave Kanye West a second chance? Did Swift call actress Camilla Belle for lyric approval over a song that basically called her a whore in reference to her romance with Swift’s ex at the time, Joe Jonas (She’s an actress, whoa/She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress, whoa)? Also, explain to me how she was mind-twisted? Oh right, because Kanye asked for permission to say he made her famous but neglected to declare he’d use the word “bitch.” Fine distinction, Taylor. Let’s not relive it.
Taylor Swift Thinks Calvin Harris is a Narcissist
On “I Did Something Bad,” Swift says “never trust a narcissist,” and “If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing. I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming.” As for why she’s so angry, it’s unclear, but it might have something to do with the song Harris wrote with Swift for which he later took sole credit. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s reference to flying “playboys” around the world, who “drop her name.” This is not a pretty picture, folks, but it’s also not surprising given their ugly breakup.To be fair, that might also be a Hiddleston dig given that the press leaks at the time said Swift questioned Hiddleston’s intentions. I’m also guessing the song title, “I Did Something Bad,” refers to the fact that her relationship with Tom Hiddleston overlapped with her Harris romance.
She Met Her Current Boyfriend While Still With Calvin Harris
Swift’s song, “Gorgeous,” makes it clear that she crushed on her current man from afar. In fact, she says that when they met she had an older boyfriend. The reason that’s likely Harris is because on another song, “Dress,” Swift says, “Nights back when you met me, your buzzcut and my bleached hair.” Swift had bleached hair at the Met Gala in 2016 and her new beau had a buzz cut around the same time for a movie role.
Swift’s Relationship With Tom Hiddleston Was “Cursed” From the Start
Swift suggests that Hiddleston was a rebound who broke her out of prison from her relationship with Harris, which she desperately wanted to leave. Hiddleston also somehow “poisoned the well” with one mysterious action referenced by the lyric “X marks the spot” and a “switch to the other side.”
She’s Happy, and She Wants to Keep Her Romance a Secret
“King of My Heart” calls her new boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, “the one she has been waiting for,” saying she’ll “never let [him] go.” This song also has another subtle jab at her exes, referencing the cars they drive while saying, “they never took me quite where you do.”
So is the album good? Yes. Taylor Swift is always good. She’s got a team of people who work extremely hard on making a great album, and the tone is always consistent. I slightly object to some of the hip hop elements, as it feels a little try-hard given that Swift is simply far too uncool for it. It’s also slightly over-produced, which is to be expected. The added elements often distract from the melody, and given that this record is less about heartbreak and more about reinvention, I found myself far less invested in the lyrics. When someone’s “reputation” is impacted by hard truths about their character, my listening experience is slightly dented. But as I said. It’s good. It’s always good.
Ronan Farrow’s new piece in the New Yorker seems ripped from Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, only the truth is stranger than fiction. It’s both important and complicated, which has motivated me to provide a breakdown of the most important parts. Here they are.
Weinstein hired Kroll and Black Cube to investigate and suppress allegations against him
Kroll is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube is an agency run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube offers operatives who are “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units.” Their mission was to stop the New York Times piece on Weinstein and to obtain an advance copy of Rose McGowan’s book, which was to be published in January.
Two private investigators from Black Cube met with actress Rose McGowan to extract information using false identities
Under the ruse of being a women’s rights advocate who worked for a fake wealth-management firm, a woman named “Diana Filip” contacted McGowan with a phony initiative to combat discrimination against women in the workplace. They met multiple times, and when McGowan revealed that she was speaking with Ronan Farrow for his Weinstein take-down piece, Filip then contacted Farrow with the same alias. Farrow ignored her. She then contacted a journalist from New York with a different alias, and this time she posed as a “victim” of Weinstein. The journalist smelled a rat and it didn’t go further. The fake website for her bogus wealth management firm has now been removed. Black Cube has since defended themselves, saying they “operate in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates—strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world.” Another freelancer also contacted other victims and allegedly reported that information back to Black Cube.
Weinstein’s lawyers helped Black Cube with their mission
One such lawyer who helped Black Cube is David Boies. Boies represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Though he directed Black Cube in their efforts to squash the New York Times story, his firm simultaneously represented the Times in a libel case. Using a law firm to hire an investigative agency is a cunning tactic, because any objectionable actions used by the agency is then subject to attorney-client privilege, thereby shielding them in court. As for whether it’s a conflict of interest to try to stop a Times story while simultaneously having them as a client, Boies’ argument in his own defense is so twisted it’s not worth repeating. It is worth noting; however, that Boies says his hands are clean because he did not “direct” Black Cube’s methods. To put it simply, they might have hired them to uncover evidence, but they did not “direct” them in how they would uncover that evidence.
Weinstein used the National Enquirer for help
In an effort to undermine the credibility of his accusers, Weinstein appealed to Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer. She then provided details of a call made with Robert Rodriguez’s ex-wife. It was alleged that Rodriguez left his wife for McGowan. The call was recorded. Rodriguez’s ex has now made it clear that she would not have cooperated in any efforts to discredit McGowan, but since they would not stop calling, she finally agreed to have a conversation. Howard has since offered what I consider to be a weak defense, which basically suggests the information provided was off the record, and because they had a television-production agreement with Weinstein, they had an interest in protecting their company against what they believed to be false accusations. Perhaps Howard and Boies should have coffee.
Weinstein also employed an investigation firm, known as PSOPs, to uncover compromising data on his accusers
Two private investigators, named Jack Palladino and Sara Ness, produced detailed profiles of Weinstein accusers, including 100 pages on Rose McGowan. But it didn’t stop there. Many of the private security firms he hired also sought to uncover negative information on the journalists themselves, including Ronan Farrow and David Carr, who died in 2015. Carr’s widow says that he always felt he was being surveilled and though he wrote negative stories about Weinstein, he stopped short of exposing his actions toward women for fear of retribution.
This story is horrific, disturbing, and shocking, but I find some sense of solace in at least knowing that this guy, for the past three decades, has employed extremely technical tactics to keep this quiet. It should be really, really difficult to successfully silence victims, and in this case, he spent millions of dollars to do so. According to McGowan, “It was like the movie ‘Gaslight. Everyone lied to me all the time. For the past year, I’ve lived inside a mirrored fun house.” I also find solace in knowing that these tactics will no longer work, as victims have now mobilized in support of one another. Shame will hopefully no longer be used as a tactic for secrecy. As for men, I can only hope that they join the movement.
I recently inquired as the whereabouts of The Neptunes given Pharrell Williams’ solo success and stint on ‘The Voice.’ He’s returned to his roots with N.E.R.D., featuring Pharrell, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley. They’re back with Rihanna by their side for “Lemon,” and the video is hypnotic. Directed by Todd Tourso and Scott Cudmore, it features Mette Towley, a Minnesota native with a BA in Dance who has worked as a touring dancer with Pharrell for years. Catch them in action at ComplexCon.
Selena Gomez has some good friends, one of which is Francia Raisa, who willingly donated her kidney to Gomez after Gomez suffered the severe symptoms of Lupus. The story is insanely moving, but it certainly got me thinking. Other than my immediate family, I doubt I’d donate a kidney to save a friend’s life. Watch below as the two discuss the process.
It might seem odd to say that a singer’s voice is his best asset, but in the case of David Gray, it’s worth noting. His voice perfectly punctuated the power of his beautiful music, yet the rougher, more masculine tone gives it a mesmerizing juxtaposition. I’m guessing he’s aware of this because he stepped right onto that Los Angeles stage at The Greek Theater for an Acapella rendition of “One Fine Morning”, which roused the audience the moment he arrived (see video below). He then effortlessly moved to the piano, where he delivered a stadium worthy performance with the feel of a small dive bar. And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, the multi-instrumentalist grabbed his guitar.
It feels as if you’ve just discovered David Gray. As if you’re about to run home, CD in hand, hijacking your friends stereo to introduce them to this great underground artist they just have to hear. Nowadays, that process comes in the form of a link, but it’s all the same love for music with an immediate desire to share that love with the world.
David Gray is a live artist. Artists come in many forms, and some of my personal favorite albums aren’t quite up to snuff with what happens on stage. There’s many reasons for that, but when a musician exceeds the album, it’s magic. My favorite song of the night was “The One I Love,” given that Gray slightly changed the arrangement to give the tune a more upbeat, live-band feel. He saved “Babylon” for the end, along with “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” and “Nightblindness.” Though one might think “Babylon” served as the evening’s highlight, I must reiterate that because each and every performance was better than the next, this was not a wait-for-the-hits concert. Every second was used wisely, and I’ll now be attending every Gray concert possible from now on.
Gray’s 10 album, 25-year career has positioned him as one of the UK’s leading artists. The Grammy-nominated musician’s latest studio album, Mutineers, set itself apart from previous albums, while simultaneously satiating his oh-so-loyal fan base. Gray also released a greatest hits collection entitled The Best of that included a re-recorded 25th Anniversary version of “Shine” and new tracks “Smoke Without Fire” and “Enter Lightly.” He is currently in the studio recording a new album which is set for release in 2018.
As for Alison Krauss, she certainly does not need my accolades. She’s a polished live performer with a stellar backup band and a very loyal audience who appeared to be hyper-focused on her every move. It takes a top-notch artist to command such respect, and Krauss proves she’s worthy, time and time again. In fact, as the Gray/Krauss show neared its end, my inner monologue was on overdrive as I thought, “Wow, here’s two people who proved what a show looks like when it’s just about the music. Here I am, under the stars at one of the best venues in Los Angeles, watching the purest of people share their gift with the world. The audience’s attention span reflected that. Just pure, unaffected joy.
The alt-folk duo known as Stables sent this video for “Reverie” my way, and I dig. There’s an obvious comparison to The Lumineers here. Their debut album, “Beyond Brushes” is worth a listen, as is their song below. Their new album drops next year. Check it out.
Looking for your next underground artist on the rise? Meet RIVVRS, also known as Brandon Zahursky, who is an interesting mix between Mike Posner and Hozier. I don’t know Mr. Zahursky personally, but I’d imagine he’d take issue with the Posner comparison, but that’s a compliment on the vocals front. He adds an interesting layer of depth to this lane, which happens to be a sweet spot on my playlist, thus making me the perfect person to review his new lead single, “Don’t Give Up On Me.” The song can be found on his full-length album, ‘Cosmic Dream’, which will be released in 2018.
I can’t take full credit for finding RIVVRS, though. He’s has over 30 song placements on network television shows, and over eight million Spotify streams. In fact, his debut single “I Will Follow You,” was written into the script of an episode of ‘About A Boy’ in 2014. Prior to his full-time career as an artist, he worked in the wine industry. When he left, he couch surfed, played house concerts, and performed at a coffeehouse in San Luis Obispo, which is where another artist told him to attend the Durango Songwriters Expo near Santa Barbara. It was there that he got the attention of the Hollywood music supervision community. Sometimes it pays to take a risk, and judging by his new single, he made the right decision.
Listen below to his latest release, which you can also find here.
If Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule applies to anyone, it’s the Goo Goo Dolls. The Buffalo bred band began their music career nearly a decade before their breakout success with “Name” in 1995 on A Boy Named Goo, which was their fifth studio album. But that was just the beginning. They’d follow it up three years later with Dizzy Up the Girl, which featured “Slide,” Black Balloon,” “Dizzy,” and “Broadway.” And who can forget the heart-tugging “Iris,” off the City of Angels soundtrack, which was ranked #1 on Billboard’s “Top 100 Pop Songs 1992–2012” chart. The multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated band includes founders John Rzeznik (lead singer, guitarist) and Robby Takac (vocalist, bassist), who have garnered an impressive 14 top ten radio hits and 12 million album sales. I had the pleasure of catching them on tour at The Greek for their latest EP release, You Should Be Happy, and it’s my first time seeing the band live. Those in my inner circle are aware that nearly all my free time is spent attending the concerts of earnest up-and-comers, but every so often a girl wants to go to The Greek to celebrate a seasoned act. And the Goo Goo Dolls delivered. In fact, they far exceeded my expectations. Rzeznik’s interaction with the audience creates an intimate, small-venue vibe, which is hard to do at the illustrious Greek. As for Robby Takac, he has a rare raw energy which could fool you into thinking this is the first time they’ve played these songs live. They’re grateful to their devoted fans, and it shows. I was fortunate enough to pick the brain of Robby Takac, whose colorful career extends beyond the Goo Goo Dolls with his own label, festival, and more. Read below to learn the secrets of The Goo Goo Dolls’ success and longevity.
In researching your band, I discovered that you were hustling for a decade before your breakout success.
Yeah, making punk rock all over America.
Do you know the exact turning point? Was there some sort of creative shift?
I think we got to live out a decade in public that most bands get to live in their basement. In that time, we learned how to play, we learned how to sing better, and we learned a little bit more about album making and the music industry. The stars lined up, and we had a hit record.
I also read that you had a less than stellar experience with your label at the time.
We were signed to a label that I won’t give the press to right now. It was two labels, actually, before we signed to Warner Bros. Records. I’m the sort of person, personally, who looks at every experience as leading you to where you are today, and we’re in a really great place today. I don’t think I would’ve changed any of that history, honestly.
When you look back at that 10 years before you broke out, was there a period where you thought this just isn’t going to happen and maybe I should shift my career?
I don’t think I ever really thought that. I think it crossed John [Rzeznik]’s mind a bunch of times, but I’m always the guy that’s trying to pull everybody back in the van again for 10 years. It was just persistence. We got lucky and things happened for us right at a time where most bands don’t make it 10 years.
[In that time], we felt marginally successful because our first record sold 6,500 copies, our second record sold 30,000 copies, and our fourth record sold 100,000 copies. We were making progress. But right around our third record is when bands like us all of a sudden started getting real record deals. Our heroes were selling 30,000 copies.
Do you think it was also a sign of the times?
Absolutely. Every hit record is a sign of the times. It’s a reflection of what is allowed to happen in popular culture at that particular moment.
You’re making really good new music. Do you ever get sick of playing the hits?
John jokes about that sometimes during the shows. He’ll say, “Please don’t run for a beer right now. We’re about to do a new song.” What I’ve found is we used to put out a new record and there was a long process for people to get to those songs. They had to get to the store, buy it, unwrap it, get to their house, put it into their stereo, listen to it a few times, maybe make a tape, put it in their car, etc . . . Now, they just have to say, “Hey, phone. Play the new Goo Goo Dolls record.” New music is literally at the end of their arm. When people come [to the show], they know [the new songs] because of that ease of access. There’s all this talk about death of the music industry, all that kind of stuff. People have more of a connection to music than they ever had. It’s modernization and rebirth.
The same great talent still rises to the top. Music might be more accessible, but the standouts are a very small number. You might get YouTube hits, but very few people can fill The Greek. Do you agree?
I absolutely do. Cream always rises to the top. It doesn’t always become huge, but it always rises to the top. But when you remove the physicality from music, it becomes less of a part of your life. It becomes data. When I was a kid, I went through my record collection in my room. Those records — Deep Purple’s Made in Japan — are part of my life, man. When you remove that physicality, it removed a bit of the mysticism. This weird physical connection to the music is gone. We just released our first five albums on vinyl, for the first time. The plan is to release the next six on vinyl.
Speaking of record sales, everyone says musicians need to tour longer because people are buying less records. Do you find that?
We’ve always toured a lot, but we never have those entire years off anymore. We used to take a whole year off and rehire a crew after a year, and we’d spend that year making a record. We don’t do that anymore. I think our crew has been on staff now for the past six years. [Bands] play more now, but I think that’s how you get great.
Do you like the business element behind the music? Do you ever think, “I just want to play music, and I don’t want to do all the other stuff that goes along with it?”
It’s probably different for us. I’ve had the same manager for almost 27 years now, the same record label for 22, and the same booking agent for 20 years. They’re all like family so things are a lot different for us than they are for a lot of bands.
Many bands argue and break up and get back together constantly. Does it say something about your specific personality that you have been able to sustain those connections for decades?
It’s not about any one person’s particular temperament. Everybody in this organization has been a complete a-hole at one point or another, but it’s about knowing who ultimately has your back. Most of [our team] have proven themselves and those who haven’t have weeded themselves out along the way. Sometimes it’s sad when that happens, and sometimes it’s a joy.
A lot of our successful peers went away for a while to be actors or do solo projects. Nostalgia has come around and it’s valuable to put their band back together and make money. That’s not what we did. We have the distinct advantage of having worked at this that entire time and, hopefully, gotten better.
Can you take me quickly through how you and John met?
I played in a band with our first drummer, George [Tutuska], and I also played in a band with my cousin who played with Johnny. Johnny was in that band, too. John and I just got to be friends and got an apartment together and decided that we were going to take over the world with our amps, guitars and a lot of hairspray. We started playing around the country. We’ve been friends ever since.
How did you decide to swap the lead vocals? I know you started as the lead singer.
We’d audition lead singers constantly and never found anybody. We had a studio so I just started singing. John sang one or two songs and then it became the opposite. John started finding his own voice. It’s pretty amazing what happens when you actually let something find its own course.
How do you determine which of your songs land on the record?
I usually bring in five or six songs. When we listen to those, it becomes pretty obvious which ones we’re going to start working on for the record. John will then have a few ideas that he’s been putting together with a producer on that song. We work on them one by one.
Are you precious about your material?
It’s an uncomfortable mixture of being precious and knowing what we want. I understand the value of someone else’s expertise and ideas. That comes with growing up. When we were kids, it was a fight with every single producer. We would argue as if they were the camp counselor or the teacher. That can happen now in the course of being creative, but I don’t think [it’s the same].
I started by signing a few bands in Buffalo that I really liked. I quickly found out that if you want to make enemies in your hometown you start a record label and sign bands. It’s just hard. There’s so many bands [that say], “Why not me?” Because my band was successful, the expectations were high. I was ready to shut my label down after about five years.
One of my bands, The Juliet Dagger, went to Japan and worked with a band called Shonen Knife who I had been a fan of for my whole life. They’d been together longer than my band. As I was about to close the label, Shonen Knife called me up and said, “Hey, what do you think about doing a record for us?” I couldn’t say no. I then signed a couple other bands from Japan. It’s been fun. There’s a band over here right now, actually, called Pinky Doodle Poodle that’s on tour. I’ve worked with Pinky Doodle Poodle and Shonen Knife directly in the studio. I’ve also produced records for The Molice.
We started it 15 years ago with just one stage and 10 artists. Now it’s 125 displaying artists and 15 stages.
Are you very hands on with the creative process?
I do it all, and I have a great staff of people that work for the organization in Buffalo. We do camps for kids and we do Battle of the Bands for adults. This festival has become sort of the flagship. It’s pretty great.
For more information on Goo Goo Dolls and their current release, click HERE. Listen to “Use Me” below, which can be found on You Should Be Happy.