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TV Jukebox: 'The Blacklist,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Arrow,' and more of the week's best music-on-TV moments

Have you found yourself wondering, “What’s that song?” while watching your favorite TV shows? We’re here to tell you. Check out our Spotify playlist and see why these music picks clicked. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: Spoilers ahead.) READ FULL STORY

Joan Jett remembers her days as a 'sh-head punk' at Hammerstein Ballroom

When Joan Jett started out playing grimy L.A. clubs with the Runaways in 1975, she probably never imagined she’d play to a crowd like the one that convened Thursday night at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Fans paid as much as $10,000 each to gain entry to the 6th Annual Little Kids Rock Benefit, which featured tributes to the femme-rock legend by artists including Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.

Jett was there as well, to perform with many of the artists and accept the organization’s Rocker of the Year award. Little Kids Rock, which brings free musical instruments to low-income public school students throughout the country, raised about $1.5 million by the end of the night.

That money went toward a good cause and also let attendees sit in on a night of classic and unusual performances, curated by Jett and Steven Van Zandt—a member of the E Street Band and Little Kids Rock beneficiary. With support from the Blackhearts, Jett’s own backing band, all the guest musicians provided their interpretations of the icon’s tunes.

Cheap Trick kicked off the show with a scorching rendition of “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and then handed off the stage to a series of less-distinctive performers including Gary U.S. Bonds, Brody Dalle, and Darlene Love. Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna dueted with husband and Beastie Boy Ad-Rock on “Fake Friends”; their version was lackluster, but perfectly exhibited the night’s theme of “Joan as mentor and rock ‘n’ roll elder.”

Social Distortion’s Mike Ness delivered a cover of “Love is Pain” in his characteristic alt-country dirge before the evening kicked into high gear. Jett came out to join Armstrong as he demolished one of her deep cuts—1980’s “Don’t Abuse Me”—and stayed onstage to jam on “Be My Lover” with Alice Cooper. For the finale, all of the night’s stars and a cadre of Little Kids Rock students rocked out with Jett to, of course, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

All of the evening’s stars related to Little Kids Rock’s mission, which emphasizes contemporary instruments and genres so kids feel they have a greater stake in music education.

What Jett admires about Little Kids Rock is that the organization encourages kids to pick up whatever instrument they want. “I played clarinet, but I wasn’t inspired to play clarinet,” Jett said after the show, describing what sounds like a decidedly less cool period of life. “They didn’t offer us things like drums or instruments like that—but it was still music.”As for the rocker’s own teenage years? She said that although rock icons from all generations now turn up to swanky events in her honor, she hasn’t forgotten her days as “a sh–head punk.”

“I know you get the accolades, but you always have gotta stay busy and stay into it,” said Jett, who recently received a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination. “I don’t think you can rest on your laurels. That’s dangerous, you know? So I try to take it a little bit with a grain of salt—but it’s really unbelievable. I’m so stoked about this.”

The Rentals' Matt Sharp talks new record and living in Weezer's shadow

In 1995, when Weezer bassist Matt Sharp released the first album by his side project The Rentals, he was at the peak of an alt-rock explosion that was reaching its apex, and with the smash success of “Friends of P,” he was positioned as one of the music industry’s golden boys. Then he quit Weezer, split to Europe, and recorded a moody concept album about being a famous rock star drifting through Europe (1999’s Seven More Minutes) that failed to reach “Friends of P” levels of popularity. Sharp then dissolved the band and dropped out of the public eye, popping up here and there with art projects and oddball, small-scale recordings.

Recently Sharp recruited a new team of Rentals, including Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, and recorded Lost in Alphaville, a long-awaited return to form that was enthusiastically received by the fervent cult following that his project has grown over the years. During a stop in New York City he spoke with EW about the new album, his admiration for film directors, and the long shadow that Weezer’s first album still casts over his career.

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Taylor Swift's '1989' has leaked

So much for waiting until Monday: Taylor Swift’s 1989 has leaked.  READ FULL STORY

One Direction show off their human menagerie in 'Steal My Girl' video

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One Direction’s “Steal My Girl” video is bound to draw criticism for its use of the hoary “white performers with ‘exotic’ dancers” trope and lyrics that fit snugly in the long tradition of songs that treat women like property—and if you give it a straight reading, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d feel that way.

But things are much more interesting if you imagine that the Maasai dancers, sumo wrestlers, mimes, and assorted other types of people who appear alongside the floppy-haired boy band are actually specimens that the group has assembled into a human menagerie, like a more terrestrial version of what The Collector was up to in Guardians of the Galaxy. Coming from that angle, the possessive lyrics–especially the refrain “she belongs to me”—take on a far more literal, far more sinister meaning that considerably improves the song and video alike, and may inspire visions of One Direction owning a human zoo at an estate in a remote corner of the English countryside where they amuse themselves by arranging pit fights between sumo wrestlers and mimes.

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Mellow out with a jazzy playlist from YouTube mix master Kutiman

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Ophir Kutiel, better known as Kutiman, is a musician that uses all of YouTube as his instrument, finding obscure videos of people performing and crafting them together to make remarkably original songs.

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Hear Regina Spektor's song from the final episode of 'Boardwalk Empire'

On Sunday night Boardwalk Empire will wrap up its five-season run. The following day the latest installment of the show’s soundtrack will hit iTunes, featuring songs by Norah Jones, Elvis Costello, JD McPherson, series favorite Loudon Wainwright III, and Regina Spektor, whose rendition of “Love Me or Leave Me” will appear in the final episode. EW has the exclusive first listen here.

Written by Songwriting Hall of Famers Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson (who also wrote “Makin’ Whoopee,” among other classics), it’s been recorded by everyone from Bing Crosby to Olivia Newton-John since it was first released in 1928. “We love Regina,” Boardwalk music supervisor Randall Poster writes in an email. “Her second appearance in Boardwalk Empire. While this song plays in the body of the show, it reinforces the happy fact that she would have been a singing sensation in any decade!”

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How to do punk rock, according to MarthaStewart.com

The argument over whether or not punk is dead has been going on for about as long as punk’s been around, and over the decades as it’s evolved from a revolutionary youth cult to an empty signifier for rebellion and a form of entertainment made to be consumed by tweens, its defenders have devised an obstacle course’s worth of semantic and intellectual gymnastics in order to explain its ongoing validity. But if Sex Pistols-branded diaper bags and multi-thousand-dollar designer crust punk jackets weren’t enough to make them give up, perhaps Martha Stewart’s guide to throwing a punk-rock-themed party for kids will be the last straw.

Written by Martha Stewart Living Assistant Digital Editor Alexandra Churchill–who according to her bio has “a soft spot for tiny terrariums, rose water recipes, and antique bottles”–introduces punk to the Martha Stewart brand tradition of infusing casual events with a panic-inducing level of obsessive perfectionism. Her party suggestions include incredibly fussy garlands of plaid fabric decorated with safety pins, dress-up stations where kids can get temporary tattoos and mohawks, and serving “Spinach Ricotta Skulls,” which in particular seem to mock the very concepts of both punk rock and children’s parties.

Most of Churchill’s tips seem like way more trouble than any sane person would put into a punk-themed kid’s party, aside from the idea of giving little kids mohawks and playing them the Ramones, which sounds like a blast. But there’s something about her feature that’s so antithetical to punk’s core concepts, so disrespectful of its values that have been passed down for generations now, that it’s almost–dare we say it–totally punk.

10 songs where guest rappers stole the show

Guest verses have always been a part of hip-hop, but they’ve grown in popularity over the years for a number of reasons: they put new talent in people’s ears, they keep established rappers sharp, and they keep the slightly gladiatorial element of competition between performers alive in an era when freestyle battle raps are seen as slightly antiquated. The right featured guest can turn a single into a smash—but it can also backfire if that rapper outshines the song’s main artist. But when that does happen, the results can be pretty magical. Here are 10 notable examples of guest rappers appearing on other rappers’ songs—and completely blowing them away. READ FULL STORY

'Diggin' In the Carts' is your gateway into loving video game music

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It’s hard to forget a good video game soundtrack. As a medium that often asks players to stick around for hours on end, video games by necessity strive to include music that you’ll want to listen to forever—which was especially tough in the medium’s earliest days, when technology left composers few sounds to work with. But somehow, miraculously, video games were able to feature timeless, enduring work that’s still a joy to hear—either in its original, crunchy glory or in lovingly arranged, fully orchestrated updates. READ FULL STORY

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