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Taylor Swift assembles country supergroup for CMA performance -- VIDEO

Taylor Swift assembled her very own country-music Avengers at tonight’s CMA Awards, putting a twist on the title track from her hit album Red with the supergroup.

Swift was joined by Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer, and Eric Carken, who played and sang backup for the relative rookie. Swift teased earlier this week that the performance would be “life-alteringly cool,” and we’re pretty sure country fans would concur. Watch the “Red” performance below:
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Eminem, Taylor Swift top YouTube Music Awards

Crying babies, Win Butler’s Kanye moment, a faked double suicide, face painting, a makeup-free Lady Gaga in plaid and a trucker’s cap. There were all kinds of unexpected moments on the first YouTube Music Awards—which you can watch in full here—as imagined by Spike Jonze and carried off by the odd couple hosts Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts.

Eminem, Taylor Swift and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were among the winners during Sunday night’s live webcast from New York. But the awards were sort of beside the point as Jonze and others directed live videos with Eminem, Gaga, M.I.A. and rapper Earl Sweatshirt, and Schwartzman and Watts careened about the soundstage with only notecards to point the way. READ FULL STORY

Voting now open for first ever YouTube Music Awards

You won’t get the chance to throw your congressional representative out of office just yet, but for now, you can direct all of your voting power to the first ever YouTube Music Awards. Voting is now open in six different categories, and the victors will be handed out during a ceremony co-hosted by Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts in New York City on Nov. 3.

The six categories include Video of the Year, Artist of the Year, Response of the Year (awarded to a fan-made video that served as a counterpoint to a professional one), YouTube Phenomenon (awarded to the trend that led to large swaths of fan videos and responses), YouTube Breakthrough (representing newer artists who saw huge growth in YouTube subscriptions and exposure), and Innovation of the Year (which is a lot like the old Breakthrough Video prize at the MTV VMAs).

The nominees are a healthy mix of established artists (Justin Bieber, Eminem, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift) and savvy outsiders who have used YouTube to elevate their careers (Pentatonix, Epic Rap Battles of History). Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Fire were already announced as performers at the show, and the lineup has expanded to include M.I.A., Avicii, Walk Off the Earth, Earl Sweatshirt, and Tyler, the Creator.

Check out the nominees below, vote over at YouTube, and tune in for the ceremony on Nov. 3.
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Taylor Swift goes 80s bubblegum on new single 'Sweeter Than Fiction' -- LISTEN

Whip out your pink tux and pierce your left ear — Taylor Swift wants to take you to a 1980s prom.

The pop-country star (and future The Giver actress) teamed up with fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff to pen “Sweeter Than Fiction,” a New Wavey track for the upcoming British biopic One Chance, which tells the story of Paul Potts, the down-on-his-luck store clerk who became an opera-singing sensation after winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2007.

Swift sings from the point of view of a longtime fan who believed in a performer’s talent long before anyone else did. “I’ve seen you fall, I’ve seen you crawl on your knees, eh eh” she sings during the opening verse. “I’ve seen you lost in a crowd, seen your colors fade.” The song’s main subject doesn’t mire for too long, though, and the tone of the lyrics quickly shifts to match the fizzy musical arrangement. “There you’ll stand ten feet tall, and I will say, ‘I knew it all along,’” Swift beams in the chorus. “I’ll be one of the many saying, ‘You made us proud.’”

The track, which will play over the end-credits of One Chance, is uplifting without being hokey and sweet without being cloying. It’s as light and airy as cotton candy — and just as addictive, too. Give it a listen below: READ FULL STORY

Taylor Swift sets songwriting record

Taylor Swift has set a record with the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

The organization announced Tuesday that it would name Swift as its songwriter/artist of the year. This is her sixth win, beating out five-time winners Vince Gill and Alan Jackson. READ FULL STORY

How country music went crazy: A comprehensive timeline of the genre's identity crisis

Are you aware that Nashville is currently embroiled in an outright civil war?

The country music genre has gone through quite a transformation in the past couple years, adopting the electric guitar sounds of nearly-defunct rock radio, the rap-infused cadences and AutoTune normally reserved for hip hop, and, most controversially, the pop elements left behind as that genre gravitated toward electronic dance music. And attitudes have become ever more contentious between traditional and modern-country fans in 2013. Lately, the frustrations have reached a boiling point.

The straw that broke the camel’s back arrived two weeks ago, when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s No. 1 single “That’s My Kind of Night” the “worst song I’ve ever heard.” That remark caused Jason Aldean to hop on Instagram and tell Brown, “trust me when I tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think.” The country community quickly took sides in the debate, and the resulting feud has catapulted country music’s identity crisis straight into the spotlight.

These days, pop-country is more popular than ever — but also more despised than ever. Stars like Brown, Alan Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, and Gary Allan have begun publicly expressing unhappiness with their format, which this year has become an increasingly homogenous platform for men (a few weeks ago, Carrie Underwood was the only solo female in the Top 20) singing about trucks and beers and girls and then more trucks.

Tensions have been brewing all year long (and really, much longer than that) — and there’s been no shortage of public feuding among the genre’s A-list. As country fights to figure out what it should look and sound like, its biggest stars are airing some very honest (and sometimes harsh) opinions. Here’s a timeline of country’s wild, crazy, and sometimes mud-slinging year:

January 23: Blake Shelton calls classic country fans “old farts” and “jackasses”
While speaking in a GAC special, The Voice coach angered thousands of elderly country fans when he remarked, “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.” The comment caused a controversy that endured for weeks and helped spark this year’s debate about traditional-country vs. pop-country.
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CMA nominations 2013: The snubs and surprises

Kacey-Musgraves-Review

Now that the 47th Annual CMA award nominations have been announced, here are a few thoughts on who made the cut, who was sorely left out — and the things that just don’t make much sense:

SURPRISE! Kacey Musgraves The Nashville newcomer scored six nominations (five for her own music, one for co-writing Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart”), which tied pack-leader Taylor Swift. Musgraves may not have the sales power of Swift, but she clearly has the industry support. Not many Best New Artist nominees also find themselves competing for awards like Best Female Artist or Album of the Year, a category that her disc Same Trailer Different Park absolutely deserves to win.

SNUB: Carrie Underwood An acclaimed album, four number one singles, and a 110-date arena tour (not to mention her new Sunday Night Football duties) were not enough to finally earn the perennial CMA Awards host her first Entertainer of the Year nomination. Annoyingly, this snub has been going on for a while. Methinks there must be record label politics holding her back. How else do you explain Jason Aldean, whose recent singles have floundered, sneaking into the category ahead of her? READ FULL STORY

CMA nominations 2013: Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton lead the way

In case you were wondering: It’s Taylor Swift’s world, and we’re all just marking time until she writes a song about each one of us, then collects an award for every one.

Swift is up for both Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year in the 2013 Country Music Association Awards, whose nominations were announced this morning by Sheryl Crow and Florida Georgia Line.

The CMAs—not to be confused with the ACMs or the CMT Awards—are the biggest deal in country music, and will be hosted once again by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, live on ABC on November 6.

Swift has won Entertainer of the Year, the awards’ highest honor, twice before. She’s the only woman nominee in this year’s field in that category, which is rounded out by Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, George Strait, and Luke Bryan. Shelton, Aldean, and Bryan will also be competing for Male Vocalist of the Year in a list that also includes Keith Urban and Eric Church. Swift will go up against Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Kelly Clarkson, and Miranda Lambert in the Female Vocalist of the Year category.

Swift has a total of five nominations this year (including her participation in Tim McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care”); Florida George Line check in with four, while Kacey Musgraves is up for a total of five (her four as a performer plus an extra one for her songwriting credit on Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” up for Song of the Year). Blake Shelton is up for a total of five prizes as well.

Check out the nominees in all 12 categories below.  READ FULL STORY

Miley Cyrus and the rise of #YOLO pop

MILEY-CYRUS-CONCERT.jpg

One week ago, Miley Cyrus left the nation reeling after her performance of “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” at the Video Music Awards. Parents watched in horror as the girl they remembered as Hannah Montana twerked in a teddy-bear leotard, gyrated on Robin Thicke‘s crotch in nothing more than a creamsicle bikini, and rubbed her nether-regions with a phallic foam finger. The whole display was provocative, pointless, and, for most viewers, shocking.

But in all actuality, Cyrus’ deliberately vexing presentation wasn’t shocking at all. “We Can’t Stop” is a natural extension of the “Can’t Be Tamed” philosophy that Cyrus has been peddling since 2010. And by the same token, the song — in its irreverent disregard of all people in the name of a good time — is the crystallization of pop music’s ideals over the past year. In the wake of fun.‘s “We Are Young,” pop has quickly become a medium that worships its own youth unabashedly. Granted, pop music has always heralded youth (tellingly, Justin Timberlake, 32, was given a legacy prize at this year’s VMAs) — but it’s never been so self-aware about it.

“It’s not just about being like, ‘We don’t care what people say,’” Cyrus said of “We Can’t Stop” during a Billboard cover shoot in June. “It’s about living for right now.” In the same interview Cyrus said the single’s edgy video was meant to resonate with young people: “I know that we all live for those nights right now. We’re all young,” she said. “I want to talk to my fans about that.” That may sound like a shallow conversation, but currently, it’s the chosen topic in much of 2013′s pop music. READ FULL STORY

Taylor Swift sings 'You're So Vain' with Carly Simon -- VIDEO

Taylor Swift and Carly Simon are both blond singer-songwriters, and the comparisons don’t end there. They also get asked a certain question pretty often: Who did you write that song about? In Simon’s case, everyone wants to know the subject of “You’re So Vain,” which has been rumored to be about everyone from Mick Jagger to Warren Beatty. In Swift’s case, every love song is up for speculation.

So it’s only appropriate that Swift brought Simon out onstage Saturday night to sing “Vain” during her Red Tour stop in Foxborough, Mass. Watch the entire performance below:
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