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Best and Worst 2013: The Worst Albums of the Year, starring Lil Wayne, Five Finger Death Punch, and John Fogerty

Let’s face it: Outside of a few exceptions, the bulk of the music that came out this year (or any given year) falls into the “pretty much okay” category. It takes a remarkable feat to cross the bridge from “merely disappointing” or “aggressively sub par” over to “truly, remarkably heinous.”

Which is to say: The five albums listed below aren’t merely boring or trite or annoying (though they are in fact all of those things). Each of the five long-players below had to go the extra mile. As many have taught us in the past, it takes quite a bit of work to be this terrible.

So here are EW’s picks for the five worst albums of 2013. They are all terrible. Let us never speak of them again. READ FULL STORY

Jay Z addresses Barneys controversy on new Rick Ross collab 'The Devil Is a Lie'

You can press pause on Beyoncé now—and be grateful Bey hasn’t convinced everyone to quit releasing teaser tracks off upcoming albums.

This one’s from Rick Ross, whose Mastermind will arrive early next year, and Jay Z, and it is so wonderfully good: Equal parts Rozay roll and blaring Blueprint soul—a jubilant celebration of two rappers who at this point can only really have fun with tales of crack dealing.

Although Jay Z also addresses the recent, quite real issue of his continued partnership with Barneys after “shop-and-frisk” lawsuits were brought against the department store: “See what I did to the stop and frisk?/Brooklyn on the Barneys like we own the bitch/Give the money to the hood, now we all win/Got that Barneys floor lookin’ like a V.I.M.”

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Daft Punk, Pink, Kendrick Lamar among first announced Grammy performers

The fans have asked “Just Give Me A Reason” to watch the Grammys, and the producers (and Pink) have answered.

Believe it or not, we’re only about a month away from the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, which will take place Sunday, January 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. While plenty of people are invested in the nominees, the real stars of that particular show are the performers, and the bookers have begun to roll out the docket.

First up is Pink and Nate Ruess, who will be performing “Just Give Me A Reason,” the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper that the fun. frontman co-wrote with Pink for her excellent 2012 album The Truth About Love. It will mark the first time the pair have been on network television together, though hardly the first Grammy appearances for either artist: Pink last showed up at the 2010 awards to perform a stunning rendition of “Glitter in the Air,” and fun. showed up on last year’s show to blast out “Carry On.” READ FULL STORY

Eminem gets therapy from Rihanna in 'The Monster' video: Watch it here

The-Monster.jpg

If this whole pop star thing doesn’t work out for Rihanna, she certainly has a future as a terrifying psychiatrist.

RiRi serves as Eminem’s unusual shrink in the new video for “The Monster,” the fourth single from Em’s phenomenally successful The Marshall Mathers LP 2. In the clip, which was directed by frequent Eminem collaborator Rich Lee (he also helmed “Rap God,” “Not Afraid,” and “Lighters”), Slim Shady sits on a couch while Rihanna watches him watch clips of old music videos and news footage, including his Grammy performance with Elton John.

Then Em splits off and finds himself trapped in an elevator, forced to observe his image from his very first music video for “My Name Is” (complete with 15-year-old Dr. Dre cameo). He also observes himself in the “Lose Yourself” clip, his computer-generated freefall in “The Way I Am,” and finally some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland where he finds yet another version of himself locked in a cage.

It’s a pretty compelling clip and a fun trip through Em’s video past. Check out “The Monster” below.  READ FULL STORY

R. Kelly live at SiriusXM: On the scene

What’s R. Kelly really like? Or at least, what’s he like when he’s enclosed in a glass booth with a handful of fans, a small entourage, and a SiriusXM host lobbing softball questions and gently ribbing him?

He’s deceptively normal. Normal because he’s very present without seeming too “on.” Which is deceptive because he’s still R. Kelly: As liable to recite an original poem so sexually explicit you can’t make eye contact with anyone else in the room while he’s speaking as he is to giving you goose pimples with a few a cappella bars of “Bump N’ Grind.”

READ FULL STORY

Kanye West promises even fewer songs on his next album

Here’s a smidgin of uncertain information: Kanye West—who was, as you would expect, speaking on a panel at Art Basel—said last week, “I think my next album is going to be eight songs.”

Yeezus, which the famously minimal-minded Rick Rubin executive produced, included just 10 songs. This preoccupation with compression notwithstanding, Kanye did elaborate on his his goals at last Wednesday’s event, for Surface Magazine’s Design Dialogues series: “It’s just reducing down the amount of information that you need. People say a design is the point where you can’t take anything else away. [Yeezus] was very, very designed. I took a departure from radio and popular music in order to get this seat here. If I hadn’t made Yeezus, I wouldn’t be sitting here with this cool font at Basel right here.”

So far, so good. But eight songs does seem a bit scant. Does this mean that if he makes another Yeezus, he’ll need to cut the equivalent of “Guilt Trip” and “Send It Up”? Or even worse, “I’m In It” and “Hold My Liquor”? That would be sad indeed.

Grammy nomination snubs and surprises: Justin Timberlake, Sara Bareilles, Lorde and more

The nominations for the Grammy Awards always seem to lead to more arguments than any other music awards shows’ choices do. That’s inevitable, since the Grammys’ list of categories is so vast and sometimes confusing, and the criteria by which the nominating committee settles on its selections is often inexplicable.

The announcement of the list of potential Grammy winners last night was no different, and it starts at the top: Jay Z lead all artists with nine total nominations, even though his 2013 release Magna Carta…Holy Grail was considered tepid at best (an adjudication Jigga himself seems to share). What’s even stranger is that none of those nine nominations are in the Big Three categories: Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Record of the Year. He also shares a couple of those nominations with Justin Timberlake for “Suit & Tie.” So Jay taking home the most nominations is a little deceptive — it’s not like the year Adele scored a boatload of nods and then dominated the proceedings.

That’s only the beginning. Here are nine more confusing snubs and pleasant surprises embedded within the Grammy nominations.

Surprise: Justin Timberlake
Weep not for JT; he picked up seven nominations across a multitude of categories, including Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

READ FULL STORY

Drake won't be on tonight's Grammy Nominations show

Tonight’s Grammy Nominations Concert Live! will be star-studded, though one prominent musician with one of the biggest releases of the year won’t be present after all.

Citing a scheduling conflict with his nationwide Would You Like a Tour? trek, Drake pulled out of the show. That’s a strange excuse, because it looked as though his schedule was designed specifically around performing at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles tonight—he last played a show on Wednesday night in Tacoma, WA, and is scheduled to be in Kansas City, MO, on Saturday night. He could have made that flight pretty breezily.

Then again, tour logistics being what they are, sometimes the best laid plans go awry. It’s also possible that Drake is looking for an extra night of down time between dates, which is reasonable considering the amount of energy he expends every night just giving shout-outs to people in the upper decks of sold-out arenas.

Either way, Drake will almost certainly be getting a nomination or two for Nothing Was the Same, which was released just under the Grammy calendar deadline and is one of the best-selling and best-reviewed releases of the year.

The Grammy Nominations Concert Live! airs tonight at 10 PM on CBS and will feature performances by Lorde, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Robin Thicke. LL Cool J will run the show, which will unveil the nominations for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards that will be given out on Sunday, January 26, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Lauryn Hill gives 'Consumerism' the lyric video treatment: Watch it here

“Consumerism” has been kicking around since Lauryn Hill emerged from a brief stint in jail for failure to pay taxes just over two months ago, and now the song it has been given the lyric video treatment. (It’s on Vimeo, which Hill probably uses because she considers it “off the grid.”)

The clip is just as manic as the word salad that makes up the track. Look closely and you’ll spot images from the news, cartoons, hygiene films, and a note that “80% of the world’s supplies sit beneath the Democratic Republic of Congo,” which could probably use some clarification or a fact check.

Take a deep breath, get hydrated, and check out the rapid-fire lyric clip for “Consumerism” below: READ FULL STORY

Jay Z ranked all his albums, but did he get it right?

Yesterday was Jay Z’s birthday, and he celebrated turning 44 years old the way anybody would: By announcing he and his wife were going vegan and then ranking his 12 solo albums.

Jigga put his debut Reasonable Doubt at number one and his post-retirement comeback Kingdom Come at the bottom (of that last one, he noted, “First game back, don’t shoot me”). Here’s what his whole list looked like, with his commentary (and note that this only deals with his solo joints, so neither of his R. Kelly team-ups nor Watch the Throne were included).

1. Reasonable Doubt (Classic)
2. The Blueprint (Classic)
3. The Black Album (Classic)
4. Vol. 2 (Classic)
5. American Gangster (4 1/2, cohesive)
6. Magna Carta…Holy Grail (F—wit, Tom Ford, Oceans, Beach, On the Run, Grail)
7. 
Vol. 1 (Sunshine kills this album… Streets, Where I’m from, You Must Love Me)
8.
 BP3 (Sorry critics, it’s good. Empire (Gave Frank a run for his money))
9. Dynasty (Intro alone…)
10. Vol. 3 (Pimp C verse alone… oh, So Ghetto)
11. BP2 (Too many songs. F—ing Guru and Hip Hop, ha)
12. Kingdom Come (First game back, don’t shoot me)

So now that Jay Z has come clean on how he thinks his career has shaken out, there’s only one question left: Did he get it right?  READ FULL STORY

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