For 35 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has been music’s most reliable satirist, sending up the biggest pop hits and the most iconic artists for the sake of belly laughs. He’s about to release a brand new album called Mandatory Fun on July 15, so to prepare for a fresh batch of tunes we caught up with Yankovic to get the stories behind hits both big and small. READ FULL STORY
Tag: R&B (21-30 of 486)
While many of his contemporaries work to cultivate an air of mystery through secret identities and un-Google-able stage names, Tunde Olaniran is generating a more intriguingly ambiguous vibe with a fraction of the effort. A native of Flint, Michigan, better known as Detroit’s less quaint sibling, Olaniran works in the gaps between hip-hop, R&B, dance music, and punk, weaving together aggressive beats, noisy electronics, and an intuitive knack for melody into a seamless, surprisingly pop-friendly whole. His recent five-song EP Yung Archetype sounds like Yeezus as a soul record, or if The-Dream made a record with TV on the Radio.
Last week Olaniran released a video for the brooding, spacious Yung Archetype track “Critical,” which he wrote for a family member who was diagnosed with cancer. It’s an emotionally intense four-and-a-half-minute ride, but I’ve had it on heavy rotation nonetheless. Hit the jump to get hooked. READ FULL STORY
Back in April, R&B king the-Dream released a new song, “Black,” that traded in his usual strip-club-friendly beats and bedroom-focused lyrics for anthemic sweep and a political message inspired by Nelson Mandela’s death. It was miles away from the Dream that so many of us know and love with a ridiculous, almost cultish avidity, but he managed to stick the tricky landing; “Black” is like one of R. Kelly’s patented Inspiration Jams without the shlockiness that those usually come with, or the creepy feeling that you’re getting life advice from a sexual predator.
“Black” launched with a lyric video cut together out of footage of political activism in progress, ranging from Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics to Pussy Riot marching defiantly down a crowded Russian street. Today he dropped the song’s official video, which continues the political theme with an almost surreally broad coalition of protesters marching against racism, classism, homophobia, Wall Street, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, violence in Chicago, and what seems like dozens of other causes. The video’s message may be a tad muddled (especially when you factor in the singer’s recent arrest on assault charges), but with the-Dream flexing a newfound ability to manipulate emotional switches beyond horniness and regret, it still hits. It’s probably not a coincidence that it’s dropping right before a day commemorating revolutionary political activity.
Watch the video below. (It may be NSFW because of brief female toplessness.)
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
Synth-loving art-pop faerie Grimes has been on the verge of a major breakthrough ever since she released her 2012 album Visions, which refined the experimental electronic approach of her first two LPs and infused her sound with big, undeniable hooks that can stand up next to anything on the Top 40. It has stealthily become one of the most influential records of the past few years, and you can hear ideas borrowed from it all over the radio, including pretty much every synth-heavy pop song by a female performer that’s broken big in the past year.
Grimes herself has been patiently setting up her next move, signing to Jay Z’s Roc Nation for management and apparently fielding some songwriting gigs from major stars. Earlier this month at the Governor’s Ball festival in New York City she played a handful of new songs, including one that she claimed was written for, and rejected by, Rihanna. Today, she posted the finished recording of that track, entitled “Go,” on her SoundCloud. Produced with her longtime musical partner Blood Diamonds, it’s her most ambitiously accessible song yet, with an R&B-heavy vocal melody and arena-sized EDM synths that sound like they could have been lifted off of a Diplo track. It strongly hints that her next album (which she’s still working on) will be aimed straight at pop radio.
Let’s see: pitch-black synth tones, cavernous reverb, warped vocal samples, explicit lyrical references to kinky sex stuff, explicit lyrical references to doing brain-melting amounts of drugs–yep, “Often” is definitely a Weeknd song. And if you’re filling out your Weeknd bingo card, you can also mark the box that says “released with no warning or commentary” for the win.
If there’s one thing that sets the track, which the perpetually enigmatic singer dropped on SoundCloud last night, apart from his usual work, it’s the atypically aggressive edge that comes through in the stuttering kick drums and a vocal part that crowds the beat in a compellingly claustrophobic way. It’s hard to hear it and not wish he’d brought more of that energy to last fall’s underperforming Kiss Land.
Find a stereo that can handle its insanely deep bass, put on your official Weeknd fashion sweats, and hit the jump to stream it.
This August, FKA Twigs—a British singer who’s been steadily building up a cult following since she released her EP2 last fall—will release her first full-length album LP1. And with luxuriously dark beats, Twigs’ effortlessly commanding vocal presence (which deserves every Aaliyah comparison it gets), and a careful balance between sonic experimentation and pop accessibility, it should be the avant-R&B record of the year.
Twigs just dropped the video for LP1‘s psychedelic slow jam “Two Weeks.” Shot by Australian director Nabil Elderkin, it’s like a mashup of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time,” Kanye’s “Power,” Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt at adapting Dune, and Daenerys Targaryen’s current storyline on Game of Thrones, with a little nod to Aaliyah’s role in Queen of the Damned thrown in for good measure. Get your mind blown below.
Last year’s inescapable single “Blurred Lines,” which turned Robin Thicke from a marginal R&B singer to a superstar, was great for his career—but maybe not so good for his personal life. After its racy video and a grabby performance alongside (or, actually, very, very close behind) Miley Cyrus at the VMAs turned him into a sex symbol of an exceedingly sleazy kind, his wife Paula Patton, who he started dating as a teenager, left him amid rumors of infidelity.
Earlier this month Thicke announced that he’s releasing an album, entitled Paula, that’s all about their split. Judging by the song titles—“Love Can Grow Back,” “Still Madly Crazy,” “You’re My Fantasy”—it seems less like his Here, My Dear or Blood On the Tracks than a very public, very desperate stunt to convince Patton to reconcile.
How desperate? Well, the new video for Paula‘s lead single, “Get Her Back,” juxtaposes moody shots of Thicke and a disconcertingly Patton-esque woman with snippets of text messages between two estranged lovers, one of whom lists a number of valid reasons as to why they’re estranged (“You drink too much,” “You embarrassed me”) and the other of whom has written an entire album about their breakup. From Thicke’s perspective, it probably seems like a grand romantic gesture—but from anywhere else, it looks like quite possibly the thirstiest video of all time.
The ’90s stage a comeback in Jennifer Hudson’s new music for “Walk It Out,” her Timbaland and J-Roc produced single.
Directed by Director X, the man behind Iggy Azalea’s Clueless-themed “Fancy” music video, “Walk It Out” opens with J-Hud waking up and going for a sassy stroll down the streets of Chicago. Thankfully, Timbaland — who is also featured on the track — keeps his appearances to a minimum, allowing the American Idol alum to truly shine. READ FULL STORY
Canadian DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth has been making waves in the underground club scene for the past couple of years, but recently he’s taken a turn toward pop at the same time as pop’s been showing interest in the kind of spacey beats he specializes in. For his pristinely chill new single “One for Me,” he recruited R&B vocalist Tinashe (who you may know from her Schoolboy Q-featuring single “2 On,” which recently got an unofficial Drake remix) to add breathy vocals that recall the quieter side of the Aaliyah catalog. The video follows Hemsworth through a typical day of a buzzy young beatsmith in Montreal, which includes video chatting with a dog, cruising around town in a Lambo, and enjoying a plate of crudites. READ FULL STORY
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