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Music

Weird Al Went Viral, Topped the Billboard Charts


Weird Al Yankovic has been making musical parodies for 30 years if you can believe it. His latest album is “Mandatory Fun.” And for the first time in more than 50 years, a comedy album is topping the Billboard 200 chart, selling 104,000 copies in its first week of release.

To promote the album, Weird Al released a video a day for about a week, each one reaching different level of viral. He launched with a star-studded bang, releasing “Tacky,” a play on Pharrell’s uber-popular song “Happy.”

New York magazine has a few reasons why the album is doing so well. We have a couple of our own.

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YouTube Is Rethinking Its Tough Stance Against Indie Labels

youtube logoFor the longest time, YouTube was known as the place to go for grainy home videos of the funny, the incredible and the mundane. Now the site is an Internet staple. Big brands rely on it for their marketing efforts. Entertainment companies use it to introduce upcoming projects. Everyday people have stepped up their game, making it the place for not just low-budget clips but higher-production videos that have the capacity to go viral in a major way.

And now that MTV doesn’t really show videos anymore and fans haven’t made the shift to networks like Revolt and Fuse at a tremendous volume (that, of course, could change), YouTube has become a key online place for music videos. So it was a big blow to indie labels when they were faced what’s being called an “ultimatum” from YouTube.

“Indies were rankled most by what appeared to be an ultimatum by YouTube, with the company telling labels that they would remove advertisements on their music videos, the service’s principal revenue generator, if they refused the contract’s terms, cutting them off from a stream that generates hundreds of millions of dollars for labels each year,” reports The Hollywood Reporter.

When did YouTube turn into a grumpy old man?

The video site now seems to be changing its tune (according to Financial Timessub req’d), which is a good thing for its street cred.

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Cobain’s Daughter to Lana Del Rey: ‘Death of Young Musicians Isn’t Something to Romanticize’

Ifrances600-1403529625n a recent interview with The Guardian, Lana Del Rey discussed her heroes like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, and when asked whether she felt their early deaths were glamorous, answered, “Ummm, yeah,” and then stated that “I wish I was dead already…I do! I don’t want to have to keep doing this. But I am.”

While these comments may have stirred up emotion for many, one person in particular — Kurt Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean -- took it upon herself to reach out to Del Rey, and send a message that “the death of young musicians isn’t something to romanticize.”

In a series of tweets, Bean called out Del Rey, reminding her that Cobain was not just a glamorous musician, but her father — one she will never get to know because of his 1994 suicide. She went on to encourage Del Rey to embrace her life, saying that the singer is far too talented to waste her life the way her heroes did. Read more

Jack White Apologizes to The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey, Meg White, Basically Everyone

20140520-jackwhite-x600-1400602440Musician Jack White has recently had fans of Meg White, The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey, Adele, and Duffy up in arms because of a recent interview with Rolling Stone in which White seemed to be picking on each of them for one thing or another. While he seemed to present his White Stripes counterpart Meg White as an unsupportive recluse, he also claimed that The Black Keys were effectively ripping off his sound and seemed to be insinuating that artists like Adele, Duffy and Lana Del Rey have only found success because of the door opened by Amy Winehouse and the gap left by her untimely passing.

This past Saturday, in an effort to explain himself and apologize to his fellow musicians, White posted a lengthy letter on his website. He opens this way:

It seems like it’s becoming obvious that to continue the activities I have planned for the rest of my year as a musician, and not be hounded by nonsense throughout those experiences, I should make a statement to clear up a lot of the negativity surrounding things I’ve said or written, despite the fact that I loathe to bring more attention to these things.

White then addresses his feelings about the interview itself, and how he felt the need to discuss very personal topics after his personal letters were leaked to the public last year. Read more

QuestLove Clearly Has a Thing for Nilla Wafers

nilla-wafers1

I’m Old School — no question.

As a disc jockey in a former life, I couldn’t stand new music because it lacked the panache of the classics. Regardless of the genre, I played it, broadcast it, and definitely bobbed my head to it. Anything new, I avoided like a Kardashian does to poor white people.

New music offered me nothing, until the legendary Roots Crew. (And we’re talking long before Jimmy Fallon, like 1989.) Anywho, other than the most underrated lyricist outside of Talib Kweli, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, The Roots are known by the presence of ?uestlove.

Most dig his full afro, mad vibe on beats, and whatever else he likes. Over the weekend, America discovered his affinity for Nilla Wafers…and now, they love those even more.

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Beyonce and Jay Z Have a Movie Trailer for Their Upcoming Concert Tour

on the run tourPerhaps hoping his will help everyone move on from the rumble-in-the-elevator footage of the past week, Bey and Jay have released a promo for their upcoming tour “On the Run.” The clip, done movie trailer style, has the couple back in Bonnie & Clyde mode. That means guns, explosions, more guns, strippers and lots of money. There’s also a ton of cameo appearances by Sean Penn, Jake Gyllenhaal, Don Cheadle, Blake Lively, Guillermo Diaz, Emmy Rossum and Rashida Jones. In a three minute 45 second clip!

And after all the shots are fired, Beyonce sheds a few tears tears, Diaz — aka Huck — rages through a hallway and Jay Z says a bunch of fighting words, the clip has a surprising and disappointing ending.

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Coldplay Hides Lyrics in Ghost Story Books in Libraries Across the Globe

Coldplay_ News - Ghost Stories lyrics hidden in libraries worldwideAs the lifelong library lover and lyrics-obsessed music fan I am, I officially declare this my favorite album promo of the year.

In order to promote their upcoming album “Ghost Stories,” Coldplay has hidden lyric sheets, written in lead singer Chris Martin’s handwriting, inside ghost story books in libraries around the world.

Nine sheets of lyrics (one for each song on the album) were hidden, and the band has been tweeting clues. So far, eight of the nine sheets have been found in locales as wide-ranging as Mexico, Singapore, Finland, Spain, England, New Zealand, Ireland and the U.S. As each one has been discovered, the details of the finds and photos of the lyrics sheets have been posted to the band’s website, Coldplay.com.

I was particularly excited to learn that the 7th sheet of lyrics, for song “A Sky Full of Stars,” was discovered in a copy of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of House,” one of my all-time favorite books. Read more

Mariah Carey Changed Her Mind About Doing A ‘Beyonce Surprise’, Will Be Dropping a New Album With a Familiar Cover

mariah album coverLet’s start by prefacing this post with the fact that Mariah Carey gets on my nerves. I need only to link to this monstrosity from an appearance last summer on GMA to explain why. Mariah has this incredible once-in-a-generation voice and instead of belting out her songs and singing from the rooftops like no one’s business, she relies on these glitter-and-butterfly, sit-on-a-throne-with-no-shoes-on antics to get attention. It’s cringe-worthy and stupid and irritating all at the same time.

You know who has a tremendous voice and would never indulge in this absurdity? Adele. Let’s have more Adele shall we?

That said, Mariah has a new album coming on May 27. At one point this album was supposed to be released a la the “Beyonce surprise” — all at once without all the advanced notice of a traditional release strategy. Now, that’s not the case, there’s some issue with what the release date was supposed to be and there’s cross-talk between the publicists.

So we get this Billboard pre-release cover story instead where even the writer seems to have a hard time pinning down what she’s trying to say about it.

“Talk to Carey about the album, and you’ll get lengthy if cryptically worded explanations about the material, making liberal use of favorite words like ‘journey’ (‘If I use that word one more time I’ll have to start an ’80s rock band’), ‘festive’ (her time on Idol, she says, ‘was not festive’) and ‘moment’ (‘I just need a moment to finish this track listing’),” it says. *Blank stare*

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Avril Lavigne Responds to ‘Hello Kitty’ Critics and Cries of ‘Racism’

Avril Lavigne (who apparently still exists) is taking some serious flack for her new video “Hello Kitty.”

Since the video first appeared on YouTube this past Tuesday (it has since been taken down and re-posted), shaming, angry tweets have abounded, and even the experts haven’t been sure what to make of it — the general consensus seems to be that it might be racist (pandering at best), and it’s definitely terrible.

Billboard magazine’s Jason Lipshutz called the video “an embarrassment in any language,” and Entertainment Weekly‘s Darren Frenich said, “There are serious questions about whether it’s offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious (this one’s for you, large Japanese fanbase!).” Read more

This Is A Group Of Women Twerking To Raise Interest In Classical Music

Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 Allegro con fuoco (Official Music Video) from B-Classic Festival on Vimeo.

Classical music has seen its fortunes dwindle over the years, with Slate declaring a total flat line a couple of months ago. Changing tastes, shifting demographics, budget cuts to arts programs, and myriad other issues have led to the art form’s seeming demise. FYI:

In 2013, total classical album sales actually rose by 5 percent, according to Nielsen. But that’s hardly a robust recovery from the 21 percent decline the previous year. And consider the relative standing of classical music. Just 2.8 percent of albums sold in 2013 were categorized as classical. By comparison, rock took 35 percent; R&B 18 percent; soundtracks 4 percent. Only jazz, at 2.3 percent, is more incidental to the business of American music.

GroupMuse is trying to generate some excitement around classical music with house parties. But as everyone knows, these days, if you want to get some pop culture attention and maybe stir up a bit of controversy to take something viral, there’s one fail-safe move. A dance move actually: twerking.

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