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Eminem and Rihanna's Monster Tour: On the scene opening night in Pasadena

Eminem and Rihanna: Why? He’s the reedy-voiced rapper from Detroit who defined MTV when the channel’s current demo was in diapers. She’s the smoky-toned singer from Barbados who defines the modern musical landscape of free-form hip-hop that sounds like dance-pop, or whatever the hell “Diamonds” is. He’s a confessional storyteller. She’s a tantalizing enigma.

Sure, they’ve partnered on a few songs—most famously the 2010 smash “Love the Way You Lie,” a track that helped define Eminem’s older-wiser-louder circa-2010s persona. But on the opening night of the duo’s joint-headlining Monster tour at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium, there was still that central question: Why these two together, right now? The ultimate answer, frustrating and thrilling: Why not?

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Beck: On the scene at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom

A few months back, I had the distinct pleasure of receiving a phone call from Beck. The connection wasn’t great, though I chalked that up to the fact that he was calling me from a parallel universe—one that was not wholly unlike the one I exist in, but both slightly more contemplative and way more funky.

We discussed the artists, albums, and songs that have informed his life, and more than once he brought up British death metal band Carcass (whose Surgical Steel was one of my favorite albums of 2013). He seemed mostly charmed by their insane-sounding song titles (“Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites” was a favorite), but based on Beck’s show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Monday night, he also digs Carcass because, when given the chance, he likes to shred. READ FULL STORY

SXSW Saturday: Phantogram, and the end of a very weird week

After a long few days of indie rock, mixtape rap, pop stars playing small, and smoked meat, it was time to put a bow on the annual South By Southwest festival.

The schedule for Saturday night was strange. In the past, Saturday night shows have always been the biggest, but this year, a number of bands had already left town, and with the likes of Lady Gaga, Coldplay, and Kendrick Lamar having wrapped their high-profile performances, it left a hodgepodge of mid-level indie and hip-hop to send everyone off.

Enter Phantogram, an excellent computer-pop combo whose new album Voices gently nudges their sound towards an even wider audience than the one that picked up on their first buzz-band moment several years ago. Like an overwhelming number of the acts booked at SXSW, they are big enough to get booked on late-night TV but not quite big enough to be played on pop radio or fill larger venues. For a band like Phantogram, a solid showing at SXSW could mean an elevation to that next level. READ FULL STORY

Lady Gaga dedicates encore to SXSW accident victims, gets puked on

Here’s the most important thing you have to know about Lady Gaga’s performance at SXSW on Thursday night: At one point, while performing the ARTPOP track “Swine,” Gaga climbed aboard a mechanical bull that had a pig’s head. A second woman, a performance artists from London who Gaga introduced as Millie, climbed onto the bull with her and proceeded to vomit directly onto the bright white apron that gaga was wearing.

It was certainly a new brand of visual, and one that Gaga designed specifically for this special show that was originally supposed to be staged inside the giant Doritos vending machine but was later moved to the faux-amphitheater at Stubb’s. That smaller stage was converted into “Lady Gaga’s Haus of Swine,” according to a light up sign on stage right. The mechanical pig wasn’t the only attraction; she opened the show by singing “Aura” while rotating on a barbecue spit (this was after six solid minutes of her eating ribs on stage in silence). You can’t accuse her of not knowing how to work a crowd, as she also re-arranged “Bad Romance” into a country-blues hybrid that featured some pretty mean fiddling.

It was hard to imagine what Lady Gaga would do on such a small stage, but she made it work. READ FULL STORY

Miley Cyrus goes topless in 'Adore You' artwork

She’s just being Miley, y’all! Cyrus is going wigged and topless on the new cover art for her single Adore You.

The 21-year-old singer took to Twitter on Tuesday to share the photo of herself reclining and looking into the camera as she promoted the  newly-released remix of Adore You featuring French DJ Cedric Gervais.

The release of the image comes just days after Cyrus launched her Bangerz tour in Vancouver, where the former Disney star showcased a number of costumes in keeping with her post-Hannah Montana proclivity for onesies and gymnast-style leotards.

To be clear, Cyrus going topless is not new: the 21-year-old posed without a shirt for the March issue of Vogue Germany in a Marilyn Monroe-style spread, complete with bleach blonde hair and red lips. The style chameleon also skipped torso garments for the W magazine’s March cover. And of course, made this. But Cyrus denies that going topless – or indulging in any so-called antics – are part of a bigger manifesto.

“You know, it’s like, I’m not making any kind of statement,” Cyrus divulged to MSNBC host Ronan Farrow, who interviewed her for W. “Anyone that hates on you is always below you, because they’re just jealous of what you have.”

Check out the video of the remix for Adore You  – which features alternate scenes of  Cyrus  lounging in bed and writhing around in a bath tub – below. READ FULL STORY

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