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Salme Dahlstrom premieres 'Pop Ur Heart Out'

You may not recognize Salme Dahlstrom’s name, but it’s very likely that you’ve heard her song “C’mon Y’all” in a commercial (for everything from Special K to Subaru), a movie, a TV show, or a video game. Or you may have heard another song from her 2008 album The Acid Cowgirl Audio Trade somewhere, since she managed to license every single track on it, Moby-style.

The follow-up to Acid Cowgirl, titled Pop Propaganda Volume 2: Retro Funk Soul Junction, comes out September 16—and if the lead single, “Pop Ur Heart Out” is any indication, she won’t have problem selling these songs either. “Pop”—which Dahlstrom produced herself, like all her material—is relentlessly hooky and ridiculously accessible, with bits of hip-hop and dance music floating around in a matrix of straight sugar pop. Expect to see it in about a million more commercials.

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Dance-music legend Arthur Baker returns with 'No Price'

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Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories helped to revitalize the careers of disco-era masters Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder. Now Arthur Baker—who helped guide disco’s evolution into modern dance music, producing Afrika Bambaataa’s massively influential “Planet Rock” and remixing the biggest pop stars of the ’80s (including, weirdly, Bruce Springsteen, who’s not known for being a club-music kind of guy) along the way—is engineering a comeback of his own.

Baker’s new track, “No Price,” was first written and recorded in 1979 for a collaborative album with soul singer Joe Bataan that was scrapped when their label folded. Thirty years later, Baker dusted it off and sent it to Al-P from MSTRKRFT, and later invited Chromeo crooner Dave 1 to add a new lead vocal part. The final result is a glossy, string-laden jam that gooses peak-era disco funk with some contemporary thump. Baker’s calling his new project Slam Dunk’d, and they’ll be releasing a full album in September.

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The best and worst of Weird Al's one-word-title parody songs

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The Internet is knee-deep in Weird Al week, in which the universe’s preeminent song parody artist is deploying a new video every day to celebrate the release of his latest (and possibly last) album, Mandatory Fun. EW spoke to Weird Al about the origins of some of his classics a few weeks back, but as the new songs roll out , it’s tough not to notice the proliferation of the one-word pop song—both in our culture at large and in Weird Al’s prism view of it. There’s “Tacky” (a play on Pharrell’s “Happy”), “Foil” (off Lorde’s “Royals”), and today, “Handy” (riffing on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”).

Whatever you’re feeling about this crop of Weird Al tunes, there’s no denying that Mr. Yankovic loves a nice, simple pop platform, and that, historically speaking, we love him for it. For the most part, his songs generate richness in a manner inversely proportionate to the simplicity of the original. Put another way: Weird Al tends to make maximum hay when given minimal concepts.

But does using this style of song also hamstring Weird Al at times? After all, the simpler the structure of the original, the easier it is for us to compare it and its parody side-by-side. How often does a one-word pop song help Al, and how often does it hurt him? Let’s look. READ FULL STORY

In the studio: Weezer discusses lyrics, the new album title, and Ric Ocasek

We’re still a few months away from the arrival of Weezer’s new album Everything Will Be Alright in the End, but you can get a good sense of what to expect by reading about EW‘s exclusive visit to the studio. I spent two days with the men of Weezer, and we had a ton of conversations both about the new album and about the stuff bands talk about between takes.

But of course there was not enough room to get all of the gems into the piece. If you’re hungry for more, here are a handful of awesome bits that were left on the cutting room floor. READ FULL STORY

'Billboard' Hot 100 recap: Magic! unseats Iggy, 'All About That Bass' enters the summer jam competition

Over the course of the summer so far, the Hot 100’s been defined by its lack of movement. This week’s Top 10 is almost identical to last week’s, which was almost identical to the week before–four songs remain in the same positions, and the remaining six have only moved up or down by one or two slots.

These small changes can still produce significant drama. At the very top of the chart, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea’s seemingly unbeatable “Fancy” and Canadian faux-reggae group Magic!’s virally popular “Rude” have traded places, knocking “Fancy” out of the top spot and ending its record-setting seven weeks at number one. READ FULL STORY

Paul McCartney on when he'll retire: 'When I feel like it, but that's not today'

Paul McCartney probably isn’t the first person you picture when you think Ibiza, the Spanish island known for its hard-partying ways. But when he had the chance to go on vacation thanks to doctor’s orders to rest, he and his wife headed straight there. “We didn’t exactly go clubbing, but there’s plenty of it about,” he told Rolling Stone in a new interview.

The Ibiza vacation didn’t last too long—McCartney’s currently on tour and isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. “The answer to ‘Are you going to retire?’ is ‘When I feel like it,'” McCartney said. “But that’s not today.”

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Hear Justin Townes Earle's contribution to an all-star Springsteen tribute

There is a certain kind of Springsteen fan who loves the songs on his 30-million-selling Born in the U.S.A. but can’t stand the album’s highly polished, synthesizer-heavy sheen. That type of fan should be thrilled about the upcoming tribute compilation Dead Man’s Town, out Sept. 16, where a cast of roots-rock luminaries, including North Mississippi Allstars, Low, Nicole Atkins, Blitzen Trapper, Joe Pug, and Trampled by Turtles, offer a stripped-down song-by-song reimagining of Born in the U.S.A. that aims to replicate some of the powerful intimacy of its predecessor, 1982’s Nebraska.

Outlaw country scion Justin Townes Earle is involved, which shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone familiar with his habit of covering Springsteen songs and also of appearing pretty much anywhere rootsy, acoustic-based rock music is being made. For Dead Man’s Town, he gives a bare-bones rendition of “Glory Days” that peels back the original’s feel-good bar-band sound to highlight the small-town pathos at its core. We have the first listen here.

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Video: Heaven's Jail premieres 'Suicide'

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Francesco Ferorelli grew up on rap and heavy metal, but as the primary songwriter for the group Heaven’s Jail he makes folk rock with a traditionalist bent and an attitude that recalls sardonic ’70s singer-songwriters like Kris Kristofferson and Loudon Wainwright III. The group’s latest, Ace Called Zero (out Aug. 26 on Heart Break Beat), was recorded last fall in Connecticut, with Matthew Houck (a.k.a. Phosphorescent) producing and Ben Greenberg of the Men engineering, making it kind of a super-session of Brooklyn roots rockers.

The first video from the album is for its second single, “Suicide.” It was directed by Curtis Wayne Millard, who’s who’s worked with The Head and The Heart, and its chilly visuals pair well with the song’s bare-bones arrangement. Ferorelli says, “This video was born in a moment of inspiration. We drove up to the woods to shoot the album cover and halfway through Curtis said ‘I think we might have a music video too,’ so he grabbed the Super 8 and just started filming. The weather was on our side providing thick rolling mist and drizzling rain, a couple feet of snow still covered the ground and night was approaching quickly. In several short enigmatic scenes he harnessed the fleeting spirit of the song and created an elegant visual companion.”

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Blues guitarist Johnny Winter dies at age 70

Guitarist Johnny Winter, one of the leading figures in the electric blues movement of the ’60s and ’70s, was found dead at age 70 on Wednesday in a hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland. The cause of death is unclear, but while a prosecutor has ordered an autopsy, early evidence indicates a medical cause, Reuters reports.

Winter’s best known record, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” written by his former bandmate Rick Derringer, remains one of the definitive songs from the classic rock era, but Winter considered himself a blues musician rather than a rocker. Over the course of his career, he played alongside some of the style’s most respected figures, including Willie Dixon, B.B. King, Sonny Terry, James Cotton, and Muddy Waters (for whom he produced three studio albums and one live album), and along with Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield he helped to bring traditional blues techniques in the acid-rock era. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in 2003.

Winter remained productive into his later years. A sequel to Winter’s 2011 album Roots, entitled Roots 2, is scheduled to be released on September 2, and will feature contributions by Clapton, Ben Harper, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Earlier this year Sony Legacy released a four-disc retrospective of Winter’s career, True to the Blues, and at this year’s South by Southwest festival he debuted a documentary on his life, Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty, directed by Greg Olliver, that deals with his long-running struggle with opiate addiction.

Beyonce, Eminem, and Iggy Azalea lead MTV Video Music Awards nominations

Today, MTV announced this year’s Video Music Awards nominations—and, in an unsurprising turn of events, Beyoncé earned the most, with eight nominations for her album BEYONCÉ including Video of the Year for “Drunk in Love,” Best Female Video, and Best Choreography.

Eminem and Iggy Azalea follow with seven nominations each. The Australian rapper’s collaboration with Charli XCX “Fancy” will be competing against Beyoncé in the Video of the Year category.  The other Video of the Year nominees include “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Chandlier” by Sia, and Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”

On the whole, the nominations aren’t too surprising—Kanye West, Katy Perry, Lorde, and Ariana Grande all received nominations—but there are a few surprises. British newcomer Sam Smith was nominated for Best Male Video and the Artist to Watch award. Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Community‘s Donald Glover, who released his sophomore album Because the Internet in December, received a Best Hip-Hop Video nomination for his song “3oo5.” See the full list of of nominations below.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR:
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”
Beyoncé ft. JAY Z – “Drunk In Love”
Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
Sia – “Chandelier”
Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball”

BEST HIP HOP VIDEO:
Eminem – “Bezerk”
Drake ft. Majid Jordan – “Hold On (We’re Going Home)”
Childish Gambino – “3005”
Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”
Wiz Khalifa – “We Dem Boyz”

BEST MALE VIDEO:
Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
John Legend – “All Of Me”
Ed Sheeran ft. Pharrell – “Sing”
Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “Monster”

BEST FEMALE VIDEO:
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”
Beyoncé – “Partition”
Lorde – “Royals”
Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea – “Problem”
Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – “Dark Horse”

BEST POP VIDEO:
Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”
Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz – “Talk Dirty”
Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea – “Problem”
Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up”

BEST ROCK VIDEO:
Imagine Dragons – “Demons”
Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know”
The Black Keys – “Fever”
Lorde – “Royals”
Linkin Park – “Until It’s Gone”

MTV ARTIST TO WATCH:
Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”
5 Seconds of Summer -“She Looks So Perfect”
Charli XCX – “Boom Clap”
Schoolboy Q – “Man Of The Year”
Fifth Harmony – “Miss Movin On”

BEST COLLABORATION:
Beyoncé ft. JAY Z – “Drunk In Love”
Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea – “Problem”
Pitbull ft. Ke$ha – “Timber”
Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne and Tyga – “Loyal”
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “Monster”
Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – “Dark Horse”

MTV CLUBLAND AWARD:
DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down For What”
Zedd ft. Hayley Williams – “Stay the Night”
Calvin Harris – “Summer”
Martin Garrix – “Animal”
Disclosure – “Grab Her!”

BEST VIDEO WITH A SOCIAL MESSAGE:
Angel Haze ft. Sia – “Battle Cry“
Avicii – “Hey Brother”
Beyoncé – “Pretty Hurts”
J. Cole ft. TLC – “Crooked Smile”
Kelly Rowland – “Dirty Laundry”
David Guetta f/ Mikky Ekko – “One Voice”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
30 Seconds to Mars – “City of Angels”
Beyoncé – “Pretty Hurts”
Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
Gesaffelstein – “Hate or Glory”
Lana Del Rey – “West Coast”

BEST EDITING:
Eminem – “Rap God”
MGMT – “Your Life is a Lie”
Zedd ft. Hayley Williams -“Stay the Night”
Beyoncé – “Pretty Hurts”
Fitz and The Tantrums – “The Walker”

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY:
Sia – “Chandelier”
Beyoncé – “Partition”
Usher – “Good Kisser”
Michael Jackson f/Justin Timberlake – “Love Never Felt So Good”
Jason Derulo f/2Chainz – “Talk Dirty”
KIESZA – “Hideaway”

BEST DIRECTION:
DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down For What”
OK Go – “The Writing’s On the Wall”
Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball”
Beyoncé – “Pretty Hurts”
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “The Monster”

BEST ART DIRECTION:
DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down For What”
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”
Eminem – “Rap God”
Arcade Fire – “Reflektor”
Tyler, The Creator – “Tamale”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down For What”
OK Go – “The Writing’s On the Wall”
Disclosure – “Grab Her!”
Eminem – “Rap God”
Jack White – “Lazaretto”

The 2014 MTV VMAs will air live on Saturday, August 24 at 9:oo p.m. ET.

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