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Taylor Swift in tears, Axl gone AWOL, Britney breaking out in a rash: MTV's top exec tells EW the stories behind the wildest moments in VMA history

Last week’s MTV Video Music Awards may have suffered from disappointing ratings (this year’s viewership was only half of last year’s all-time high 12.45 million) and a dearth of big wow moments, but there’s no shortage of bonkers events to look back on in the show’s past.

In fact, we recently caught up with MTV Music Group President Van Toffler to discuss some of the wildest, wooliest, and most unforgettable water-cooler moments from the VMAs’ nearly three-decade run — and got some previously unpublished revelations on everyone from Britney Spears (did you know that she wasn’t actually Madonna’s first-kiss choice back in 2003? Or that her 2001 snake-charming had a seriously unfortunate side effect?) to Kanye’s infamous speechus interruptus. Read on (with video links in the headers, when available).

Kanye Storms the Stage and Interrupts Taylor Swift (2009)
Toffler: “There’s no way any of us could have predicted that — we didn’t orchestrate it. He came with a bottle of alcohol, so he was in a festive mood to begin with. But we all were in shock in the [production] truck when he walked up on stage and took the mic from Taylor. I remember turning to one of the producers and going, ‘Do we not have security?’ [But] we don’t put those big bulky guys on camera in front of the talent. Maybe this guy thought Kanye belonged on the stage.

I said to our line producer, ‘You need to go talk to Kanye and probably have him exit the building, and I will go deal with Taylor.’ And she was about to perform right after that break! She was a champ. I would be lying if I said she and her mom weren’t crying when I saw them, but she pulled it together. This was one of the most absurd VMA moments for me, having to talk to her and her mom, and they’re crying and upset, and this was her first time on the VMAs, and she had been used to working on country shows with polite artists. This was a little bit more chaotic than she was used to. And then I walked back behind the stage to find Beyoncé crying about the incident. Ultimately I talked to her and her dad and then went back to Taylor after her performance, and an hour later Beyoncé brought Taylor back out so she could have her moment.

It all played out okay in the end, but there was a lot of drama in between. Beyoncé had the wisdom to bring Taylor out on stage, and Taylor stayed to have her moment instead of leaving.”

READ FULL STORY

Eminem says he's working on a new solo album

Eminem_240.jpg

While we won’t get the chance to see Marshall Mathers play the pugilist underdog in a boxing movie, there will apparently be a reasonable consolation prize for anybody who doesn’t have quite enough Slim Shady in their lives.

Eminem called into Hip-Hop Squares host Peter Rosenberg’s show on New York City radio station Hot 97 this morning primarily to announce that Slaughterhouse, his label’s crown jewel, will be playing the annual Summer Jam festival in New Jersey.

But he had another tidbit of information for Rosenberg. Once the Slaughterhouse album is complete, Em plans on committing himself to a new solo album. “There’s a couple of things I’ve been working on,” he told Rosenberg. “I’m starting to toy.”

We last heard from Eminem in the summer of 2011 when he dropped Hell: The Sequel, a collaboration with fellow Detroit rapper Royce 5’9″ under the moniker Bad Meets Evil. The last time he dropped a solo album was in 2010, when the massively successful Recovery hit store shelves and produced a pair of chart-topping hits in “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie.” It was a fruitful time creatively for Shady; Recovery came only a year after Relapse, his first album in half a decade and a return to the darker side of his musical persona.

Slaughterhouse—consisting of Royce, Joe Budden, Crooked I, and Joell Ortiz—will drop their second album Welcome To Our House next month. That gives Em the rest of the summer to work on his solo album, which means that it’s entirely possible it could see the light of day before 2012 is out (though you should probably bet on 2013).

Are you excited about the prospect of new Eminem music? What producers and guest artists should Slim Shady work with? Spit some game in the comments.

Read more on EW.com:
SXSW: Best Music Moments of the Fest
Eminem talks addiction, says ‘The bigger the crowd, the bigger my habit got’
Review: Eminem, Recovery

Coachella Sunday night: Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg bring along a lot of friends...and a Tupac hologram

Who didn’t Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg trot out to close the Coachella Festival on Sunday night? The full retinue was a veritable Hip Hop Hall of Fame: 50 Cent, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Kurupt, Warren G, Nate Dogg (via montage tribute), a two-story LED projection of Frank Sinatra, and a Tupac Shakur hologram. All that was missing was gin and juice gratis for every audience member.

Of course, the West has never been shy to throw up the “W” and the Dogg and Doc delivered a bell-ringing performance to please the hometown crowd. Backed by a full band, the set list was both party-to-go and paean to the last two decades of gangsta rap. After all, when Andre Young dropped The Chronic 20 years ago, the genre retained its marine blue menace and instilled fear into the hearts of sweater-clad suburban parents. Today, Dr. Dre is a gangsta eminence grise and savvy headphone entrepreneur. Meanwhile his one-time sidekick Snoop Dogg has starred in movies, television shows, and leased his star wattage to more products than Ron Popeil.

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SXSW: 50 Cent brings out Eminem for 'Get Rich or Die Tryin' -- and gets outshined

It’s been a weird few years for 50 Cent.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the guy who’s lately been struggling to get an album released, broadcasting suicidal tendencies on Twitter, and threatening to leak his own crotch pics was once the rapper everyone was trying to beat.

But Curtis Jackson doesn’t want us to forget.

“It’s been ten years,” he reminded the crowd at the Shady 2.0 showcase last night at Austin Music Hall (as well as the people watching the live on Fuse), sounding a bit defensive as he added that he’s “sold 13 million records. I can do whatever I want now.”

Of course, the majority of those millions of moved (G-)units were from his 2003 breakout Get Rich or Die Tryin’, which he played in its entirety last night.

Initially, it sounded like a strange proposition. The record was good, but not that good; usually these full-album performance things are reserved for the likes of Illmatic or Enter the 36 Chambers. But Get Rich does have a one thing that can still excite a mob of jaded rap fans in 2012, and his name is Slim Shady.

READ FULL STORY

Rihanna crowned best-selling digital artist of all time

How does one sell nearly 50 million downloads in six years? By releasing nearly 50 million singles in six years.

Hyperbole aside, Nielsen Soundscan revealed that Rihanna is now the top-selling digital artist of all time (time here being about as old as the iTunes Store), having moved 47.5 million digital tracks since her 2005 debut.

This gives her a safe lead ahead of runners-up the Black Eyed Peas, who have 42.4 million digital tracks under their Tron belts, and Eminem, who ranks third with 42.29 million.

The Grammy-winning singer’s previous accomplishments include eclipsing Madonna to become the fastest artist to produce 20 Hot 100 top-10 singles, which she pulled off with “We Found Love.”

Of course, one might say RiRi breaks a lot of records largely by making a lot of them. Since 2005, the Barbadian chart beast has released six studio albums and an astonishing 27 singles — more than the BEPs and Eminem combined in the same amount of time.

The full list is below; see if you can count how many of them haven’t collaborated with Rihanna before: READ FULL STORY

'Big Bang Theory': Kunal Nayyar shares what's on his iPod!

Raj might be having trouble with love this season on The Big Bang Theory, but with a playlist like this, his portrayer Kunal Nayyer certainly has enough to cure whatetever heartache ails him.

EW recently spoke with actor to get a rundown of five songs/artists that are in heavy rotation right now. Take a look:

Mumford and Sons: “I love epic folk rock. I love Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the movie Once, and I feel like Mumford takes it to another level. When I hear it, I feel the music in my bones. I get chills when I hear it.”

Radiohead, “True Love Waits”: “I came from India in ’99 and I didn’t have access to a lot of good music. Well, I did, but it was Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, New Kids on the Block — generic pop music, which I still love to this day, though. I didn’t really get Radiohead at first, but when I really began listening to them, I became obsessed….Every single breakup I’ve had in my life, I’ve listened to that song. [Laughs] I’m an actor; we’re masochistic. It feels good to hurt.”  READ FULL STORY

Eminem talks addiction, says 'The bigger the crowd, the bigger my habit got'

bad-meets-evil

Eminem hasn’t exactly avoided the topic of his relationship with a variety of illicit chemicals. After all, his last two albums were called Relapse and Recovery. But the man born Marshall Mathers has rarely been as candid about his struggles with addiction in the press.

In the pages of GQ, where he was named a “God of Rock” next to the likes of Keith Richards and Robert Plant, Em let the world know exactly why he is so prone to addiction. “I’m very much a creature of habit,” he told GQ. “If I’m used to waking up in the morning and having [a Red Bull], I could do it every morning for the next ten years straight until I find something else to move on to. So if I’m used to taking a Vicodin when I wake up in the morning because I’m hungover from ­drinking or taking pills … The bigger the crowd, the bigger my habit got.”

Eminem also explained that his drug problems could be traced over the course of his discography, noting that The Slim Shady LP was written almost entirely sober, the dark experiments on The Marshall Mathers LP were the result of more experimentation with substances, and Encore was hampered both artistically and practically thanks to his addiction to prescription medication (including Valium and Ambien). READ FULL STORY

Adele's 'Someone Like You' is the first ballad in three years to top the Hot 100 -- or is it?

Adele

Adele’s success is certainly refreshing, and she continues to rack up accolades and records — in fact, she has a handful of new entries in the latest Guinness Book of World Records).

And some people, apparently, are even making up arbitrary turns of events in order to keep her awards flowing.

This morning, Billboard reported that Adele’s “Someone Like You,” which is currently the number one song on the Hot 100, is the first ballad to sit atop that list in over three years. They cite Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” as the last ballad to inhabit the top position.

The article is a pretty interesting read, because it gets into the psychology of radio programmers and how they approach playing songs based on tempo, as well as the way that trends dictate what the top song in the country is (thanks to the likes of Ke$ha, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry, uptempo pop tends to rule radio). There are more machinations in choosing radio playlists than you probably thought.

While that conversation is well and good, it’s built on a fundamental untruth: “Someone Like You” is not the first ballad to top the Billboard Hot 100 since “Take a Bow.” Since “Take a Bow” abdicated the position to Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” back in 2008, at least three songs that could be described as ballads have taken the number one position.

The most obvious one is “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem and Rihanna’s juggernaut from the summer of 2010. Though it prominently features angry rapping and a video about domestic violence, it certainly is as slow-burning as “Someone Like You.” Let’s put it another way: You certainly can’t dance to it.

There are other chart-toppers from the hip-hop world that could probably slide into the “ballad” category, including T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Are these not ballads? Is it possible to craft a hip-hop ballad? And what is a ballad, anyway? Is there a certain set of criteria it must satisfy, or is it like the Supreme Court’s take on pornography and you simply know it when you see it?

Let us know your thoughts on balladry in the comments below. (And seriously, “Love the Way You Lie” is totally a ballad.)

Read more on EW.com: 
Song of Summer ’11? YOU Say…
VMAs 2011: The Winners, the Losers, and Lady Gaga
Adele pays tribute to Amy Winehouse: ‘I don’t think she ever realised just how brilliant she was’

Eminem fights darkness with Bruno Mars in 'Lighters' video: Watch it here!

Earlier this summer, Eminem and Royce da 5’9″ resurrected their Bad Meets Evil moniker and dropped Hell: The Sequel, a sturdy EP full of rugged beats and hard-hitting rhymes. (In retrospect, it was sort of like a scrappier version of Watch the Throne, wasn’t it?)

While the album didn’t take hold of the entire music world the way Slim Shady’s Recovery did last summer, it’s about to go gold and has sent its second single “Lighters” up the Billboard Hot 100 (it currently sits at number five).

At long last, Eminem, Royce and guest crooner Bruno Mars have premiered the video for “Lighters,” which just found daylight today. The clip features the man born Marshall Mathers wandering through an extremely dark underground chamber, using only a road flare as illumination. He finds he’s rhyming partner Royce in a jail cell, and eventually they make their way above ground, all while Mars tickles the ivories somewhere else entirely. Check out the clip: READ FULL STORY

U2, Britney Spears, Eminem, Justin Bieber, hundreds more throw their support behind Bob Marley-affiliated Save The Children campaign for East Africa: Learn how you can also give

Save the Children works all over the world to combat hunger, sickness and abuse among the world’s underprivileged children, and starting today they are launching a massive outreach program to aid East Africa—and dozens of the biggest music acts in the world have pledged to drum up support for the program on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

Among the names: Lady Gaga, U2, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Madonna, and Beyoncé. (If you see a star send out a message with the hash tag #beafriend, that’s them throwing their support behind STC.)

The name of the social media campaign is I’m Gonna Be Your Friend, which takes its title from a lyric in Bob Marley & the Wailers’ 1973 song “High Tide or Low Tide,” and their goal is to get in front of hundreds of millions eyes to encourage people to donate to Save the Children and help the million suffering children in Somalia and the rest of East Africa.

The proceeds from download sales of “High Tide or Low Tide” will go directly to Save the Children, and filmmaker Kevin MacDonald (director of The Last Kind of Scotland and the forthcoming Bob Marley documentary Marley) has put together a video that features footage from Somalia with “Tide” laid over it, which you can watch here:
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