I’d never have guessed that MTV would fare better with two hands tied behind their back than they would with complete freedom, but their Covid-19 shackles actually set them free from the routine that has plagued them for the last decade. With the universally beloved Keke Palmer as its emcee sporting a digitally generated backdrop of New York City, the show featured outstanding outdoor performances, dancers donning masks, a drive-in audience, virtual and in-person acceptance speeches, and much more. In short, MTV hit it out of the park. Enjoy the highlights below.Continue reading “VMAs Recap: Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, BTS and Other Standouts”
NPR’s Tiny Desk Series has always been a personal favorite, and Billie Eilish is a next-level get for a format in which she’s bound to thrive. She’s proven her stripped-down capabilities, and the video below punctuates her prowess. Watch and enjoy.
In case you’ve ever wondered whether women are truly better multi-taskers than men, then watch the video below to see Alanis Morrissette to perform”Ablaze”with her daughter on her hip equipped with adorable, impromptu interruptions. Literally never missing a beat, she graced the virtual stage of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to debut the beautiful new tune. the album, Such Pretty Forks in the Road is Morissette’s first album in eight years.
I’ve been watching Songland since its launch, and while I was immediately struck by the powerhouse panel of judges—Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnally, and Ester Dean— I was most impressed by its positive tone. In a world where many reality shows live and die by its cantankerous comments, the Songland judging panel makes a point to deliver useful, kind feedback to aspiring songwriters. one such songwriter is David Davis, whose song, “Everything I Did to Get to You” was selected by Grammy/Tony/Emmy-winner Ben Platt.
When Davis got paired up with Ryan Tedder to produce his song, viewers were taken inside the recording studio to witness Davis and the three-time Grammy-winning producer/co-writer of Adele’s “Rumor Has It” —in action. Davis’ humility, massive amount of talent, and unbelievable voice caught my attention, and I wanted to know more. He was kind enough to join me for my podcast to discuss his journey as a songwriter and performer, and his experience on Songland.
Listen below to hear him talk about performing at Quincy Jones’ bar and lounge in Dubai, his experience on the road at the beginning of his career, and the lessons he’s learned along the way. If you’d like to join David Davis for a virtual concert experience, join him for his next “Evening Inn” on June 26th at 6:30 PST.
I love just about everything the Dixie Chicks have ever made, and I was devastated when they took a 14-year hiatus following the success of what I think was their best album, the Rick Rubin-produced, Grammy-winning Taking the Long Way. The trio have since gone through three divorces, and the Natalie Maines divorce was especially ugly. Her ex-husband attempted to void their prenuptial agreement while also upholding its validity when it served him — most notably trying to stall the release of Maines’ new music, claiming the lyrics might violate the confidentiality clause of their prenup.
While I don’t know the outcome of their legal battle, I do know that their new song, “Gaslighter” has some pretty serious tea in it, so I’m guessing he lost. Watch/listen below.
Harry Styles stopped by Howard Stern for an in-depth interview, and if you weren’t a fan before, you should be now. Styles handled himself with incredible grace, proving that being young and famous isn’t necessarily a recipe for insanity. Composed and self-assured, he politely addressed Zayn Malik’s abrupt exit from One Direction, his industry inexperience during his rise on ‘X Factor,’ Taylor Swift writing a song about him, and his bold fashion choices.
Though I’d love to tell you his new album ‘Fine Line’ is as good as his interview —it sadly falls short. The sound quality/musicianship coupled with his voice is excellent, but the songs are simply not strong. I’d guess that with each record, his sound will improve. He’s still young.
Listen to his full interview below, along with his excellent cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” Kudos to Styles for employing many female musicians (Sarah Jones is an excellent drummer) and for avoiding any and all shade traps from Stern.
The American Music Awards aired last night, and with the exception of some standout performances, not everyone was at their best. Below is a recap for your reviewing enjoyment.
Halsey first grabbed my attention during her performance at Rihanna’s Fenty fashion show (yes, I’m late to the Halsey party). She’s hypnotic, and her AMA performance is no exception.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes
I’m over these two. Sure they have chemistry, but it’s so played up it’s now played out. Also, their chemistry is literally the only element of the performance. The non-kiss tension worked for me at the VMAs, but now it’s just unoriginal.
Shania Twain’s over-the-top fashion choices are almost as iconic as her greatest hits, and it was nice to see her return to form in this crazy pink ensemble. The entire performance felt like a concert-worthy moment rather than a pocket of a larger show. Does anything make you “feel like a woman” more than neon pink? Twain has been honest about her Lyme Disease has impacted her vocals, and she took a layover from the limelight as a result. It’s nice to see her return to the stage.
Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. I like her music, I like the presentation, and I love that she refused to go the standard sexy route. Weird is always welcome in my world. Plus, this power duo pens their own tunes, and that goes a long way in my book.
Green Day makes the list of bands I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen live. I’m most embarrassed because by all accounts their performances are unprecedented. I’m told Billy Joe’s appreciation for his audience shows through from start to finish, which means it always surprises me when they take the stage at an awards show rife with some of a more apathetic crowd. One of the most legendary bands in history is on the stage in front of you, and you’re on your iPhone scrolling (see video below). If only he smashed his guitar and complained about the same way he did on that infamous Bieber moment.
Yes, I love Lizzo, but I almost fell asleep during her performance. She’s not a ballad singer, and this felt like something Adele would do (minus the “passionate” kneeling). The dress is also way off-brand.
Dua Lipa transported me to the 80s with a leotard-driven version of musical chairs amid balloons (white-girl shimmy included). After her fresh, intoxicating performance at the Grammys, this was hugely disappointing. Whose the stylist that got in her ear, told her to dye her hair blond and add extensions? This felt incredibly dated.
I don’t want to kick Selena while she’s down, especially since she had a panic attack immediately prior to her performance. That being said, her range is limited, and it shows. The original video for “Lose You to Love Me” is heavily auto-tuned, and the issue with that is — when you actually sing live — you’re exposed. The second song is better (it’s presumably lip-synced), but she looks so uncomfortable in her risque outfit, it’s hard to watch. She should take a page out of Billie Eilish’s handbook and start dressing in a way that brings out her best self.
— Selena Gomez Source (@SSFRMedias) November 25, 2019
As someone who used to cover multiple concerts a week (on school nights), I’m in a unique position to articulate the rage associated with a late start time. At the end of the day, I’m a paying consumer, and that comes with the expectation that I’m getting what I’ve paid for. Apparently, Madonna does not agree. When addressing her notorious late arrivals, she told her audience, “Here’s something you all need to understand. And that is, that the queen is never late.”
While Madonna is indeed a queen, I find her attitude to be especially ironic given her infamous quest for excellence when working with other artists. She demands exhaustive rehearsals, and she won’t take no for an answer. If you’re going to demand that level of professionalism, then practice what you preach. I don’t care how good your show is, if I’m paying for it to start at a certain time, then I expect you to be there at that time.
Madonna is currently being sued by Florida-resident Nate Hollander, who claims to have lost the $1,024.95 on three tickets for Madonna’s Miami Beach show because the start time was changed from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m in an effort to manage her late arrival and inform attendees. That’s too late for Mr. Hollander, and he was unable to re-sell the tickets at its new time. Though his lawsuit is likely going to get thrown out, it certainly has generated press enough press to prove the worth of its filing.
If you have any experience in the entertainment industry, then you know how deeply difficult it is for an artist to share the spotlight. While some are generous and humble, others are not and even if that spotlight is occupied by an absolute legend — it’s no matter. Such was the case for Katy Perry, who simply could not pare back her performance during 10-minute all-star tribute to Dolly Parton at The Grammy’s.
Instead of highlighting Dolly alongside the Kacey Musgraves (who I’m told has a stellar reputation for kindness), she railroaded Musgraves with pitchy trills and cartoonish facial expressions — everything Dolly Parton IS NOT. I laughed when Perry held out her hands to introduce one of greatest singer/songwriters of all time, as if this was somehow a generous move.
It’s absolutely unclear why Katy Perry was chosen in the first place. Unlike the other artists, including Dolly’s Goddaughter Miley Cyrus (who had a killer night), she has zero connection to country music. She previously sang with Dolly at the 2016 ACMs, but that performance had far more deference to the superstar and was seemingly before the American Idol judge began to believe her own hype. To be fair, it’s possible Perry just had a bad night. But there’s a difference between being pitchy and a show off.
Before closing this post, I’d like to take a moment of silence to think about the greatness that is Dolly Parton. Even her newest material, most recently from the Netflix original film, Dumplin’, is incredible. And if that’s not enough, she is never, under any circumstances, above a good shout out. Watch the performance by clicking HERE, and notice how she always takes the time to introduce her band and her fellow singers.
Jennifer Lopez’s presence alone just about guarantees a solid, show-stopping performance at any show, but that doesn’t make it an appropriate choice, especially when Motown is involved. She’s received hefty criticism as the choice performer for the Grammys’ Motown tribute, in which she sang “My Girl,” alongside Smokey Robinson, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” with Alicia Keys, “Another Star” with Ne-Yo, “Please Mr. Postman”, and “Money (That’s What I Want).”
Berry Gordy, who founded Motown Records in 1959 sat in the audience and according to Lopez, was “thrilled” with her involvement. During his tenure, Gordy signed some serious titans, including The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Commodores, the Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5. The twitter-sphere has rightfully suggested that Gladys Knight or Stevie Wonder would have been a far more suitable choice. Lopez furthered that, “Any type of music can inspire any type of artist. You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.” Smokey Robinson also came to her defense, saying, “Anyone who is upset is stupid.”
First, I resent being called stupid for making an extremely obvious-yet-important point. To quote one twitter user, “No doubt Latinos would be upset if they had a black soul singer doing a tribute to Latin music.” Additionally, while Motown lives in everyone’s heart, I find it distasteful to forgo using a black artist, especially during Black History Month. Have we learned NOTHING? Remember Emma Stone’s recent “I’m Sorry” exclamation about playing an Asian-American role in ‘Aloha?” Or how about Scarlett Johansson whitewashing ‘Ghost in a Shell?’ To say it’s simply about the art, is to demean the contribution of African American artists who represent the history of Motown. It’s whitewashing, and it’s extremely important to point out — NOT stupid. Finally, if you’re going to do a Motown tribute — at the very least — change up your standard “JLO.” I love a good leotard, and she can certainly rock it, but nothing about her performance suggested Motown. Nothing except the songs itself.