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Mock stars: The era of anonymous bands, from Foster the People to Imagine Dragons

Who wears the leather pants in music these days? Men still turn out smash songs by singing over guitars. But not since Mumford & Sons strapped on their suspenders have any rock hitmakers broken out as true stars, famous for anything other than scaling the charts. What do you know about the guys in Bastille or OneRepublic, the two bands currently sitting pretty in the Hot 100 top 10? Maybe you can name their singles (“Pompeii” and “Counting Stars,” respectively). But they don’t give off even a glimmer of the cherished emblems of the classic Rock Star: turbulent souls, incendiary lyrics, boa-draped fashion statements, dangerous good looks.

Instead, we’re saddled with mock stars: guys with paltry backstories, little apparent fire under their asses, and indifferent bedhead. And dudes these recent chart-cloggers be. In addition to Bastille and OneRepublic, there’s Imagine Dragons, Capital Cities, AWOLNATION, and Foster the People—all entirely male. They are not entirely terrible. Their modern rock does sound approachably modern, folding in synths and drum machines, with hooks that resonate rather than kick you directly in the acorns. These songs live in the rock fan’s friend zone: ever present, not unpleasant, but deeply unsexy.

L.A. trio Foster the People (pictured) were responsible for one of the biggest and most compelling mock-star smashes to date: “Pumped Up Kicks,” from their debut Torches, has sold more than 5 million copies since the song’s release in 2010. The deceptively sunny track, which frontman Mark Foster made as a demo and never rerecorded, takes the perspective of an unhinged, gun-toting kid; it’s like “Jeremy,” Pearl Jam’s schoolboy-psycho song, minus the anguish and that poor recess lady.

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Bruce Springsteen, Vampire Weekend, Christina Aguilera, Arcade Fire, more headline New Orleans Jazz Fest 2014

New Orleans knows how to throw a good party. And the 45th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival looks like it will be no exception.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Christina Aguilera, Eric Clapton, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Santana, Phish, Public Enemy, and more will join New Orleans jazz and funk acts like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Kermit Ruffins, the North Mississippi Allstars, and Allen Toussaint at the annual music extravaganza, which runs over two weekends, April 25-27 and May 1-4.

Other highlights include Robin Thicke, Robert Plant, Alabama Shakes, and Chaka Khan.  In a nod to the indie rock turn the annual event has taken in the past few years, Foster the People and The Head and The Heart have also joined the lineup.

Springsteen last played Jazz Fest in 2012 and Arcade Fire paid a visit to the fairgrounds in 2011. Check out the announcement video below and get the full daily lineup on the festival’s site here.

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Mark Foster, Kimbra, and A-Trak team up for 'Warrior': Watch the video premiere here -- EXCLUSIVE

Warrior_180.jpg

When we last left Converse’s “Three Artists, One Song” project, Damon Albarn of Gorillaz went to the mat with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy  and OutKast’s Andre 3000 on “DoYaThing.”

For their next trick, the company has gathered together Foster the People frontman Mark Foster, “Somebody That I Used To Know” guest sprite Kimbra, and Canadian turntable mastermind A-Trak for a song called “Warrior.”

The song will be available for download for free at the official website for shoe store Journeys, but you can take a first look at the video for “Warrior” below.

The colorful, kinetic clip stars Foster and A-Trak as less-than-willing Mexican wrestlers (or luchadors to those who follow the career of Dr. Wagner Jr.), with Kimbra fronting a mariachi band

Give the exclusive premiere a look below.

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Taylor Swift and Zac Efron cover Foster the People on 'Ellen': Watch it here

We’d like to introduce you to your favorite new supergroup: Tayzac Swifron.

Taylor Swift and Zac Efron sat down on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote their upcoming films Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, but the pair got distracted when Ellen found out that Swift had taught her costar how to play guitar during production.

“He had like one lesson,” Swift said. “And he was good at it! I taught him how to play ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People.”

And to prove it, the duo grabbed a couple of guitars and played the Grammy- nominated song — though the lyrics were modified for Ellen’s sake. Check it out below:

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Beach Boys added to the Grammys, which now features 957 performers and will last four years

The Grammys really want you to watch their show on Sunday. And they’re doing it by throwing as many performers as humanly possible onstage — many of them at the same time.

This afternoon, the producers announced that the long-dormant, recently reconstituted surviving members of the Beach Boys — Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks — would be making their return to the stage at the show for their first performance together in roughly two decades.

In a confounding bit of casting, they’ll join “Pumped Up Kicks” hitmakers Foster the People and “Moves Like Jagger” juggernaut Maroon 5 for a never-before, never-again collaboration that has the potential to be both a blissfully memorable celebration of great music or a complete and utter train wreck. (On a side note: This is totally the performance the Grammys wanted Bon Iver to be a part of, right?)

Also on the Grammys performance roster this year? The Civil Wars, Maceo Parker, Diana Krall, and Joe Walsh. For those of you keeping track, the current performance lineup looks like this: Adele; Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood; Glen Campbell, the Band Perry, and Blake Shelton; Coldplay and Rihanna; Foo Fighters, deadmau5, David Guetta, Chris Brown, and Lil Wayne in a tribute to dance music; Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson; Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt paying homage to Etta James; Bruno Mars; Paul McCartney; Nicki Minaj; Katy Perry; Bruce Springsteen; and Taylor Swift.

It was unclear whether or not the Civil Wars, Parker, Krall, and Walsh would be performing together (though that quartet doesn’t make any sense at all, for what it’s worth), but even if they are, that’s a conservative grand total of 15 performances over the course of Sunday night’s show. Last year’s version of the Grammys featured 17, and there’s still time for some surprises.

Adele’s performance is undoubtedly the most hotly anticipated and the most important, as it will be the first time the world has heard her since her vocal cord surgery. But the biggest headline-grabbers from last year were the tributes and collaborations, so let’s dive into those, shall we? READ FULL STORY

iTunes: Adele tops 2011's best-selling song and album charts

Did we need further evidence that this has been Adele’s year sales-wise? Probably not. But for the benefit of anyone still debating the matter, iTunes has just announced that the British singer’s track “Rolling in the Deep” was the year’s top downloaded song while its parent album, 21, was 2011’s most popular collection. iTunes also named Adele its Artist of the Year.

21 was followed on the album list by Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More and Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV. LMFAO claimed second place on the singles list with “Party Rock Anthem” while Katy Perry’s “Firework” was third.

Find iTunes’ top ten best-selling songs and albums of 2011 below: READ FULL STORY

Gabourey Sidibe gets chased by the cops in the new video for Foster the People's 'Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)'

You know that dream where you’re taking a driving test and the examiner turns out to be an on-the-lam thief with a briefcase full of money? And you get chased by the cops? And you’re Gabourey Sidibe?

Well, the two-man directing team Daniels (Chromeo’s “When the Night Falls,” Manchester Orchestra’s “Simple Math”) do know it, and have adapted said phantasmagoria into the new video for Foster the People‘s “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls).”

Does the result feature the best use of a ludicrous false mustache in a cops-and-robbers-related music video since the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”? Check out the clip below and let us know: READ FULL STORY

Foster the People release mind-bending video for 'Call It What You Want': Watch it here!

Unlike many of their come-from-nowhere cohorts, Foster the People didn’t get big thanks to a viral-ready music video — their  “Pumped Up Kicks” got to the upper echelon of the Billboard Hot 100 via word of mouth, radio play, and a commitment to playing the heck out of it in concert.

That doesn’t mean the Foster boys can’t put together a great video. In fact, they just pulled back the curtain on the clip for their next single “Call It What You Want,” and it’s an attention-getter.

Directed by Ace Norton (who also lensed the little-seen but still-awesome clip for “Helena Beat”), it features the band in a number of unusual scenarios, including a key sequence that finds a series of women wearing T-shirts that spell out “FOSTER” getting shot in the chest and bleeding blue paint. Does Mark Foster have an obsession with guns or what?

Elsewhere in the video, there’s a flopping goldfish, lots of action in a bathtub, and some giant gold Hulk Hands. It’s all pretty trippy, and occasionally staged like something Stanley Kubrick would have hallucinated as he was falling asleep. (That’s a compliment, by the way.) Check it out below. READ FULL STORY

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