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Watch Buck 65 play pop star in his 'Super Pretty Naughty' video

Rapper Buck 65 has made his name on dense wordplay and music that pushes against expectations of how hip-hop should sound. Choosing to concentrate on abstract metaphors and dropping odd country-rap fusions years before “hick-hop” became a thing has kept him closer to cult status than mainstream success, but for his latest song and video, from his upcoming album Neverlove (out Sept. 30), Buck offers a glimpse at what might have been if he’d pursued a more pop-friendly route.

“After my wife left,” he writes in an email, “I met a girl who I was hoping would give me hugs and kisses. I was a bit desperate for affection. I figured I might get lucky if I made a song she liked, so I asked her about her taste in music. She listed off all the things she likes about the music she dances to in clubs and I wrote it all down. I still have the piece of paper. She mentioned lyrics with ‘la la la’ parts, four-on-the-floor beats, classic house music, mentions of birthdays and getting dressed up, ‘build ups,’ as she put it, shiny synth sounds, breakdowns, ‘rainbows’ (I wasn’t sure what she meant by that), and lots of hooks. It all went into the blender.”

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The boy-band Black Album: Hear teen pop group members' best solo work

Boy band members go through multiple rites of passage: Finding bras at their feet onstage, rejecting overeager fans, and, for the more confident ones, trying out a solo career.

Justin Timberlake stands out as the most successful boy band member-turned-solo artist, but there are many more where he comes from—his ‘NSync bandmate JC Chasez released Schizophrenic in 2004, and Jesse McCartney went on to have a mildly successful solo career following his Dream Street days. Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter and New Kids on the Block’s Jordan Knight are still trying and teamed up for an album that drops Tuesday. READ FULL STORY

Hear HAERTS' transcendent new single 'Giving Up' (and watch the lyric video)

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New York City electropop quartet HAERTS went from utter obscurity to an extraordinary amount of attention in a very short time after releasing their first single back in 2012. Their forthcoming self-titled debut album, which drops Oct. 28, has turned out to be one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year, and the lead single, “Giving Up,” proves it’s worth believing the hype: a propulsive stroboscopic synthesizer provides a launch pad for delicately arranged layers of chiming guitars, airy synths, and a vocal melody delivered by vocalist Nini Fabi that builds to a sublime climax, delivering the gravity-defying sensation of a perfectly crafted pop tune.

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Hear High Ends' eccentric 'Cappuccino,' a song about coffee

Jeffrey Innes is best known as frontman for the quirky Canadian indie rock outfit Yukon Blonde, which, typical of a band of its stature (an underground act in America but capable of charting in Canada), spends a lot of time on the road. During an atypical period with nothing YB-related to do, Innes launched a solo project that he calls High Ends.

On Oct. 7, he’ll release High Ends’ 10-song self-titled debut album on Dine Alone Records. One of the tracks is “Cappuccino,” a synth-heavy tribute to caffeinated beverages that recalls idiosyncratic pop acts like Pulp and Sparks.

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Travel back to the late '90s with Puff Daddy's Smashing Pumpkins remix

The mid-to-late ’90s were a pretty weird time for music. Hip-hop, alternative rock, and dance music all found themselves suddenly, unexpectedly elevated from underground styles to the top of the pop charts, and it inspired a lot of musicians working in one of those styles to reach out to artists in the others. While today we take this sort of cross-genre collaboration for granted, at the time it was a fairly new concept. And as with most new concepts, there was a period where everyone was trying to figure out exactly what to do with it, resulting in a lot of awkward moments captured on tape.

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This Week in Diplo: New Chris Brown, a Major Lazer cartoon greenlit

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When we last left Diplo, it was just as his Billboard Fall Music Preview cover was released (after a week of relentless sets and kandi debates). Since then, he’s been, well, everywhere.

First, he produced the title track for Chris Brown’s upcoming sixth album. “X,” out earlier this week, shows a heavy Diplo-bass-drop-hand, and it’s a pretty awesome departure for Brown. (Note: It is only with much hesitation that I ever put “Chris Brown” and “awesome” in the same sentence.)

Also, this is just the beginning of what is about to be an onslaught of Diplo collaborations and projects, he’s also been working with Madonna, Skrillex (new Jack U alert), Ty Dolla $ign, Lorde, and Usher. Assuming they’re all as good as the song below, you’ll want to find your way to a dancefloor this fall.

This week also saw the announcement of a new title in his cache: TV Producer. His Major Lazer cartoon, about a “Rasta superhero,” will debut on Fox in 2015—its launch coinciding with the release of the third Major Lazer album. Each episode will come with a soundtrack and feature collaborations with RiFF RAFF and Cat Power. Diplo threw up some artwork on his Instagram, and fans (judging by the hundreds of comments) went nuts.

Major Lazer increasingly feels like the center of gravity for Diplo. He spoke at length in an interview with The Fader this week about his love of dancehall and reggae—how he’s been exposed to it since he was very young, growing up in South Florida, the time he spent in Jamaica as an adult producing his own music and the inspiration he found in Bob Marley and Lee Perry. (Referencing those gentlemen, he says, “It was like the most fascinating music to me, so crazy sounding production-wise and the music was melancholy and really beautiful.”) By the end of the interview, it becomes apparent that Major Lazer is, in many ways, his most natural project and the most appropriate musical extension of himself.

On the live music front:

The Mad Decent Block Party rolled through Denver.

The next day, Diplo had a donut on his way out of town.

… And then found himself and a bunch of random people in Nashville.

And then headed back west. First for Major Lazer Night Swim at XS Las Vegas,

and then to work the Emmy Party circuit where he hung out with the original Don.

Then he flew a plane, somewhere.

Hot 100 recap: Taylor Swift dethrones Magic!, weird new stuff debuts

As predicted, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” debuted at number one on the Hot 100 this week after racking up over 500 thousand copies sold and 50 million YouTube plays since it dropped 10 days ago, not to mention the fact that it’s dominating pop radio. Swift’s also number one on Billboard‘s new Artist 100 chart, which combines performance across the Hot 100, the Billboard 200 album chart, and the Internet-centric Social 50 chart.

Also as expected, Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is sitting right below it, having leapt from number 39 after the release of its thoroughly surreal and deeply salacious video. Despite the fact that “Anaconda”‘s visual has blasted “Shake” out of the water in terms of virality, Nicki’s only at number three on the Artist 100, right behind Wiz Khalifa.

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Dillon Francis made a playlist in case he's ever in a 'Goonies' remake

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Like any good act worthy of being called an overnight sensation, artist/DJ/producer Dillon Francis has seemingly materialized out of nowhere after many years of hard work. His debut album, Money Sucks, Friends Rule, is due out Oct. 28 (pre-order is available here) and anticipation has been steadily growing as he’s toured with his Mad Decent label-mates all summer. An open-format electronic DJ, Francis’ debut effort includes many cross-genre collaborations, including DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Twista, Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie, The Presets and Major Lazer.

EW reached out to Dillon asking him, like those who’ve come before him, to make us a playlist—any occasion, any theme, any format. In return, Dillon gave us this: “Songs to listen to if me, Michael Fassbender, Shailene Woodley, and Chloe Moretz starred in the remake of Goonies.” His musical selections and commentary are below.

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'Time' puts Mariah Carey on top in 'ultimate pop stardom' ranking

Miley Cyrus might make more headlines than Mariah Carey—but if we’re talking ultimate pop stardom, Mariah wins. (Surprise.)

Time looked at every song that’s been in the Billboard Top 10 since 1960, the number of hits by each artist present on that list, and how long those musicians’ careers have lasted, and used that information to determine which artists are ultimately the most successful pop-hit generators. The final product is a colorful infographic that proves Michael Jackson had a consistently successful career from 1971 to 1995, while Santana’s career, though long, hasn’t been witness to nearly as many hits.
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Hear Larkin Poe's stomping roots-pop single 'Don't'

Larkin Poe is a duo from Atlanta comprised of sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell and named for a distant relative who was himself distantly related to Edgar Allen Poe. The sisters share an infatuation with roots sounds, frequently incorporating traditional song structures and instruments like the mandolin and Dobro into their music, but they also boast strong pop instincts. On Oct. 14, they’ll release their new album, Kin, in Restoration Hardware stores, with a broader release a week later. The first single, “Don’t,” pulls from rock’s earliest days, mixing it with a stomping glam rock beat and a country-inflected pop melody.

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