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Charli XCX on her new album 'Sucker' and getting angry at pop music: An EW Q and A

At last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Charli XCX was one of the evening’s stealth victors. Though she did not cash in on any of her five nominations (four for her turn on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” one for Artist To Watch), her pre-show performance of “Boom Clap” ended up being one of the most compelling of the evening.

She also dropped some details about her forthcoming album Sucker, which will arrive on October 17, and unleashed the video for the album’s second single “Break the Rules.”

The clip, which features actress Rose McGowan, is a timely piece of back-to-school anarchy—one last summer tantrum before the leaves fall off the trees and beach jams start sounding passé.  READ FULL STORY

Surprise, surprise: Blue Ivy Carter was the star of Twitter on Sunday

The star at this year’s Video Music Awards wasn’t Miley’s tongue or Nicki’s butt but something much more innocent as proven by the night’s most popular tweets: Beyoncé and Jay Z’s daughter Blue Ivy. READ FULL STORY

Watch Sam Smith's sway-inducing 'Stay With Me' at the VMAs

It’s hard to find a Sam Smith performance that doesn’t seem like a honest attempt to wring out everyone’s tears.

It was a night of juxtapositions, as Kim Kardashian West came out to introduce Smith to the stage to perform “Stay With Me.” In a reversal from the glitter and floor-grinding opening number, the stage was notably stripped of extraneous accoutrements, save for an accompaniment on the piano. Smith brought the audience to a gentle sway, delivering a straightforward rendition of the relationship song of the summer. It even brought the typically non-emotive Jenner sisters to their feet without taking a selfie of themselves. If Smith’s performance is any indication, glitter and fireworks are not prerequisites for a great, if not tear-inducing, VMAs performance.


VMA Highlight: Beyonce runs the world

The 2014 MTV Video Music Awards weren’t about who opened the show—no offense to Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, or Jessie J. Instead, everyone was waiting for Queen Bey’s 16-minute performance Video Vanguard performance. And, as usual, Beyoncé did not disappoint.

Beyoncé hit the stage with shortened versions of just about every song from her latest album, from “Mine” and “Haunted” to “Drunk In Love” and “Partition.” And just when things seemed to sexy for TV, she ended the performance with an emotional tribute to her daughter, singing “Blue” before thanking all of her fans with a crowd-assisted “XO.”

Between her vocals, her dance moves, and her overall stage presence, the only way to sum up the performance was … flawless. Or as Blue Ivy put it when Jay Z brought her on stage, “Go mommy!”

READ FULL STORY

Watch Miley Cyrus hand over her VMA acceptance speech for a good cause

At last year’s Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus made headlines for twerking on Robin Thicke and sticking out her tongue. This year, the pop singer kept it tame and gave her one moment in the spotlight to someone else: A homeless man named Jesse.

Cyrus won the Video of the Year award for “Wrecking Ball” but instead of walking up to the stage to claim the Moonman for herself, she sent Jesse up as she cheered for him from the sidelines. “My name is Jesse, and I’m accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States, who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now,” Jesse started. “I know this because I am one of these people.” READ FULL STORY

VMAs fashion: Katy Perry and Riff Raff pay tribute to Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake

Katy Perry and rapper Riff Raff attended the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards dressed in outfits that Katy said were a tribute to the coordinated-denim bonanza Britney Spears and then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake wore to the 2001 American Music Awards. READ FULL STORY

The VMAs opening number with Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and more: What did you think?

How many rhinestones were on Ariana Grande’s Barbarella-call-girl onesie?  How bouncy is her ponytail? How freaked out was the PA who had to man the censor button during Nicki Minaj’s NC-17 celebration of snakes and a special kind of salad?

These and many more questions came to us during an opening medley that featured Grande performing “Break Free” direct from space (kind of), Nicki Minaj not using her previously scheduled reptile muses during the Sir Mix-a-Lot-sampling “Anaconda,”  and Jessie J looking sane and moderately amused during “Bang Bang,” while Grande strutted in yet another future onesie and Minaj clutched at her decency when a wardrobe quick-change wasn’t quick enough.

But you tell us, readers, what did you think of the VMAs opener?

 

VMAs: The 2014 Winners List

Too busy playing VMAs Bingo to notice who’s actually winning the awards? Check back here throughout the show for a continuously updated list.

Best Lyric Video (Pre-show award): 5SOS, “Don’t Stop”

Best Female Video: Katy Perry, “Dark Horse”

Best Male Video: Ed Sheeran, “Sing”

Best Pop Video: Ariane Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, “Problem”

Best Hip Hop Video: Drake ft. Majid Jordan, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”

Best Rock Video: Lorde, “Royals”

Artist to Watch: Fifth Harmony

Video of the Year: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”

Video Vanguard Award: Beyoncé

Surrealism meets avant-crunk in Shabazz Palaces' '#CAKE' video

Shabazz Palaces’ 2011 debut Black Up had a luxurious sleekness to its sound and a fiery political charge to its lyrics—qualities that it shared with Watch the Throne, which was released just a few weeks later—but with far less concern for pleasing a pop-oriented audience. For their new album, Lese Majesty, the duo has responded to Black Up‘s surprising success by pushing even further out with even more political intensity, even weirder beats, and much weirder promo photos.

Lese Majesty isn’t as easily accessible their first album, with song structures that consistently refuse to follow standard pop blueprints. But beat-maker Fly Guy ‘Dai and MC Palaceer Lazaro (aka former Digable Planets member Ishmael Butler) make sure to provide enough hooks to help listeners get on their deconstructionist level. A lot of them come on “#CAKE,” which is the closest thing to radio-friendly that the album gets, with a warped take on an old-school electro-rap beat and lyrics that walk a line between club-friendly sing-along and psychedelic chanting.

READ FULL STORY

Diplo discusses Madonna, Usher, and more in 'Billboard' cover story

BILLBOARD-DIPLO

Billboard‘s Fall Music Preview gives credit to the man who is truly everywhere in music (except country) at the moment: Diplo. From drunk recording sessions with Madonna to a week in the studio with Usher, working with Skrillex and Chris Brown, it’s all here—along with, of course, his own music and tours and residencies. (Diplo is on track to top last year’s 221 live performances.) Over the course of the interview, the Mad Decent label head goes into detail about all of the above and proves that not only is he a compendium of musical knowledge, but really does have, as the cover line says, “the Midas touch.”

Discussed at length is how spending his teen years in South Florida, a densely varied music scene, still shapes his approach to music: the more diverse, the better. It’s clear from who he works with (Madge and Skrillex go as well together as bare feet and broken glass) as well as what he puts out himself, from dance tracks to his reggae-inspired group Major Lazer to Jack U partnership. He doesn’t understand people who stick to their genre bubbles. Speaking of the EDM community in particular:

“All the DJs were at my Vegas night one night—I’m not going to name names, but all the big EDM guys—and I played a Juicy J record,” he says, shaking his head. “They’re like, ‘Where do you get these records?’ I’m like, ‘They’re on the radio! You can buy them off iTunes!’ They really have no idea. They live in these bubbles. I’m like, ‘Damn, dudes, use your imagination a little bit.’ “

And the picture that overwhelmingly emerges is one of a savvy, nomadic businessman. Most of his earnings are invested back into Mad Decent or savings accounts, Mad Decent HQ is itself a bare-bones building, and home is wherever he keeps his “stuff” (he does not own a house); he scoffs at the notoriously lavish EDM lifestyle, “A lot of DJs don’t realize they’re here today and gone tomorrow. They’re literally taking jets to every show. It’s crazy how much money they’re spending.” Instead his—and many a current musician’s—most valuable possession is the backpack where he carries his two laptops, the storage facility for hundreds upon hundreds of tracks.

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