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04/19/2007


Music News: Oprah Fêtes Leona Lewis And Journos Sum Up SXSW, Plus The Raconteurs, ABBA, The Feeling, Amy Winehouse, Groove Armada

Leona_2

GuestbloggerRobbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

Yesterday, Oprah had Simon Cowell and 22-year-old British singer Leona Lewis on her show. Lewis performed her single, "Bleeding Love," which was already a smash in the U.K. last fall. A showcase on Oprah is rarely one that fails to deliver; "Bleeding Love" is now the top download on iTunes.

Touted as both "the next Mariah Carey" and "the next Whitney Houston" -- often by none other than her own high-profile music biz handlers, Simon Cowell and Clive Davis -- Lewis previously won the 2006 season of Brit show The X Factor, which was created by Cowell. Now if only Clive would offer a U.S. deal to the equally vocally talented (and eye-pleasing) Shayne Ward, who won X Factor's first season.

Below are clips of the Next Mariah Carey from Oprah, and the Previous Mariah Carey with T-Pain, from this past weekend's SNL:

Leona Lewis' full album, Spirit, will be released on April 8.

Raconteursroad.jpg This year's South By Southwest (SXSW) festival: Jim Derogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times notes the great indie spirit, but laments the "sad decline to arena-rock mediocrity" of R.E.M. for the past 15 years. Meanwhile, Ross Simonini of the Seattle Post Intelligencer has to leave the festival ("Five people vomited within arm's length [of me].") to find decent bands, and the Los Angeles Times' Todd Martens leaves Perez Hilton's party unimpressed with Robyn and the insults hurtled at him.

road.jpg The Jack White school of making an album: finish it one week and put it out two weeks later. On the literally just-finished new album from The Raconteurs (pictured right), Consolers (due out next week): "We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc., all at the EXACT SAME TIME so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding it's availability, reception or perception."

road.jpg Ola Brunkert, believed to be the only session musician to play on all of ABBA's recordings, found dead after a freak accident at his home.

road.jpg The Feeling's Dan Gillespie Sells urges fellow pop stars to come out of the closet: "The world would be a healthier place if people were more honest about their sexuality and the entertainment industry would be healthier if people were more honest full stop. The more of us who come out, the easier it is for others. My advice for anyone considering coming out would be to do it for themselves. It's not fun living a lie."

road.jpg Giorgio Armani enlists George Clooney and Julia Roberts to help get Amy Winehouse to perform at his celebrity bash.

road.jpg And if you thought the album cover for Hard Candy was just a one-time look...

Garoad.jpg THE WEEK'S NEW RELEASES:

Almost a year after its U.K. release, Groove Armada's Soundboy Rock, the dance duo's seventh studio album, arrives in the U.S. It contains "Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control,)" the pair's 2007 international hit featuring ex-Sugababes member Mutya Buena on vocals.

The Kills' Midnight Boom. The duo's "Cheap And Cheerful" is also iTunes' free download single of the week.

A week ahead of its physical CD availability, Gnarls Barkley's The Odd Couple hits iTunes.

If you were totally jazzed with Flo Rida's 10-week stint at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with "Low," then why not check out his full length album, Mail On Sunday?


News: Edible Martini, Prince Harry, Food War, Goldfrapp, Alzheimer's

road.jpg Illinois state senator Dave Koehler proposes legislation legalizing civil unions in that state. Koehler: "This is going to be controversial because people are going to try to get all other kinds of issues about the morality of being gay. I hope that can stay to the sideline, because that's not the full intent of this bill. This bill is merely to recognize there are long-term committed relationships that right now do not have the law behind them."

Martiniroad.jpg Meet the edible martini: looking pretty good about now.

road.jpg The History of War told through food, quite literally.

road.jpg Britain's defense chief pulls Prince Harry from duty in Afghanistan saying media coverage puts him and his fellow soldiers at risk: "Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, chief of the Defense Staff, said he decided to withdraw the prince after senior commanders assessed the risks, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Harry, third in line to the British throne, has been serving on the front line with an army unit in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province since mid-December. He was originally due to return to Britain within weeks, but 'the situation has now clearly changed,' the statement said."

road.jpg David Beckham hits South Korea to show off a shiny new phone.

Stamosroad.jpg John Stamos takes a kayak break in Hawaii.

road.jpg UPenn students urge university to examine how FDA's ban on blood donation from gay men conflicts with the school's anti-discrimination policies: "Despite a national blood shortage, millions are prohibited from donating by the Federal Drug Administration's lifetime ban on men who have had sex with men (MSM) since 1977. The FDA argues that this type of sexual activity puts them at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases that could be then transmitted through blood transfusions. After a controversial, lengthy debate, the Blood Donor Discrimination Proposal passed by a margin of 17 to 9 with three abstentions, College senior and UA chairman Jason Karsh said. When Lambda Alliance first raised the blood policy issue at a University Council meeting last March, the UC never followed up, said Wharton and College junior, UA member and DP columnist Lisa Zhu, who coauthored the proposal on behalf of the UA. The proposal is an attempt to revive the University-wide debate and "pressure the administration to reevaluate their stance," said Karsh."

Danb_gillespie_sellsroad.jpg The Feeling's Dan Gillespie-Sells covers the new issue of Attitude.

road.jpg A look at the new Goldfrapp album, Seventh Tree.

road.jpg LGBT Latinos unify in support of Obama.

road.jpg Janet Jackson hopes her drag queen kicks Madonna's drag queen's ass.

road.jpg More rumors surface about Florida Governor Charlie Crist's sexuality: "I just wish he would come out and admit it. That would be a great thing if he did."

road.jpg Anti-gay marriage group in Iowa which staged demonstration at the Supreme Court accuses lawmakers of holding up proposed amendment banning gay marriage: "Several legislative leaders quickly denounced the group's claims, calling their tactics hateful. 'I have a problem when people say, 'We are good, they are evil,' House Majority Speaker Pat Murphy, a Dubuque Democrat, said in response to the group. 'The bottom line is, I believe that every person should be treated with dignity and respect in this state.'"

road.jpg Could Alzheimer's Disease be cured with a 'reset button' for the brain?


Music News: The Feeling Hurt From The Bottom To The Top, Plus David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Goldfrapp, ABBA, Spice Girls, Elton John

GuestbloggerPlease welcome Robbie Daw, who will be penning weekly music posts for us here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own pop music site called Chart Rigger.

Brit act The Feeling's new single "I Thought It was Over" -- off sophomore album Join With Us, due out in February -- debuted on Jo Whiley's BBC Radio One show this past Friday, and is meeting with mixed reaction. Unfortunately, it appears as if music from a planned session with producer Trevor Horn didn't make it onto the record.

In the meantime, Audio from Jo Whiley's broadcast has made its way onto YouTube ahead of an official single release.

Personally, I think this is just great pop, which is nothing more than this band ever claimed to produce. Between this and the two songs he contributed to Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Trip The Light Fantastic earlier this year, Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells is rapidly establishing himself as a go-to songwriter for killer hooks.

David_bowie_hunger_2road.jpg David Bowie's The Hunger-era face (pictured right) is on sale for a mere $950!

road.jpg As a tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, who passed away last December, Led Zeppelin reunites at a London gig "for which more than a million fans from around the world sought to book passage."

road.jpg Goldfrapp's next album, The Seventh Tree, is due out February 26. In an interview with Billboard, Alison Goldfrapp acknowleges a change in sound for the band: "We did talk quite a lot about what kind of instruments would get that kind of warmth and that kind of sound we wanted. We'd never used acoustic guitars before. We wanted the sound to be delicate, but not weak." The music publication states the album is produced by Flood and that "there's a greater emphasis on ethereal, psychedelic pop in the vein of early Air." In other words, unhook the disco ball, kids.

road.jpg Benny Andersson, Frida Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Björn Ulvaeus -- who comprised a band you possibly might have heard of at some point called ABBA -- are donating personal memorabilia from their career for a three-floor museum dedicated to the band.

road.jpg The Spice Girls traipsed down the west coast last week, and blogger Dave White offers up a comical assessment for MSNBC on the spectacle that was the girl group's Friday show in Los Angeles (where I sat a few rows in front of Dave and his husband, Alonso). Meanwhile, if you aren't able to catch the tour, YouTuber TheSpiceGirlsExperience was planted firmly at both L.A. shows with what appears to be a pretty decent camera and sound equipment.

Eltonroad.jpg FLASHBACK: The top song on Billboard's Hot 100 chart this week 10 years ago was Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997/Something About The Way You Look Tonight." The double A-side, the first part of which was rapidly recorded as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, would go on to sell 33 million copies around the world. In the U.S. alone, the single sold 11 million copies and spent 14 weeks at #1. John only ever performed "Candle In The Wind 1997" one time, at Diana's funeral in London's Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster, more commonly known as Westminster Abbey. The single was eventually knocked off the top of the Billboard chart in mid-January 1998 by Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply."

The best-selling album this week in 1997 was Metallica's ReLoad.

Radioheadroad.jpg TODAY'S NEW RELEASES:

21-year-old R&B crooner Mario's Go, featuring 12 songs with a different producer for each, including Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Timbaland and The Neptunes.

New singles from Ashlee Simpson ("Outta My Head"), Taylor Dayne ("Beautiful") and Katharine McPhee ("O Come All Ye Faithful"), as well as Maroon 5's cover of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."

The most-watched cable program ever, Disney's High School Musical 2, graduates to DVD in an "Extended Edition."

Radiohead's Limited Deluxe Edition Box Set, featuring the band's seven albums for label EMI that spanned from 1993 to 2003.


Music News: Apple Reveals the iPod Touch, Plus The Feeling, Klaxons, Madonna, The Perry Twins

Ipodtouch

GuestbloggerPlease welcome Robbie Daw, who will be penning occasional music posts for us here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own pop music site called Chart Rigger.

Steve Jobs revealed the latest updates to Apple's iPod line at a press conference in San Francisco today. Despite insistent buzzing over the past week online, there was no surprise Madonna appearance at the event or unveiling of The Beatles' back catalog for the iTunes music store, although KT Tunstall performed live. Mostly the revelations stuck mainly to the MP3 player itself.

The big news is the all new 8mm thin iPod Touch, which will use the same interface as the iPhone (and has approximately the same size screen). "We think it's one of the seven wonders of the world," Jobs joked. The Touch player has Wi-Fi capabilities that allows users to now search for and download songs from the iTunes Wi-Fi music store. They've also struck up a deal with Starbucks to allow downloading and music discovery from their locations. The iPod Touch also features a Safari browser and YouTube channel.

The iPod Touch has a battery life of 22 hours and is available in 8 GB ($299) and 16 GB ($399) sizes. It ships to stores by the end of the month. iPhone users will also receive an update connecting them wirelessly to the iTunes store, and Apple has dropped the price point on the 8GB iPhone by $200, to $399.

road.jpg Klaxons have won England's Mercury Prize -- "Europe's top arts prize in terms of influence and media coverage." In the 15th year of the award, Klaxons beat out a list of nominees that included Amy Winehouse, Bat For Lashes, and Arctic Monkeys.

Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future [iTunes]

Thefeeling_3road.jpg They're not exactly covering James Blunt's new single, but The Feeling were recently posed with the task of choosing a song from the year 1973 to cover for a compilation celebrating the 40th anniversary of the BBC's Radio 1 station.

Forty artists were each given a year to choose a song from spanning across the station's time on the air. The Feeling's openly-gay frontman Dan Gillespie-Sells explained on the band's website why they picked Carly Simon's "You're So Vain": "When they gave us 1973, it was actually quite hard to pick a song that we wanted to do. There were obvious things like, 'Life On Mars' by David Bowie, but I thought we should do a song that was very unlike us. So eventually we went for the Carly Simon track. We recorded it down in the big country house where we were working on our new album. It started off as a late-night jam and eventually mutated into this weird version of the song. It doesn't really sound like us or the original...I really like it, but it's pretty bonkers too."

Other acts on the tribute set include Robbie Williams doing "Lola" by The Kinks, Amy Winehouse covering "Cupid" by Johnny Nash," Kylie Minogue taking on Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug" and Natasha Bedingfield with her version of Madonna's "Ray Of Light."

Dapper Dan & Co. are certainly no strangers to doing tunes by other bands. Their cover of The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" -- which they used to perform at gigs in The Alps before getting signed -- appeared as a B-side on their European CD single for "Rosé". The group is even working with former Buggles singer-turned-mega-producer Trevor Horn in sessions for their sophomore album.

The double-disc Radio 1. Established 1967 will be available October 1 from Universal. [Full track list]

Ne_yoroad.jpg NEWS BITES: Being in a band is bad for you.

Princess of Monaco's daughter makes a cameo in Justice's VMA-nominated video for "D.A.N.C.E."

Whitney and Bobby's custody battle heating up.

Kelly Clarkson's tour is back on track.

Bernard Sumner on upcoming Joy Division biopic, Control: "We were more youthfully idiotic than that."

Ne-Yo doesn't wait around for Britney.

Courtney Love on reports she publicly bashed Amy Winehouse: "I keep my own counsel about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and I do not judge others unless I know they are a danger to other people beloved in my own life."

20-year-old Eurythmics record inspired Darren Hayes to make his latest album.

Lily Allen curbs her enthusiasm.

After the jump - fake Madonna cover art, the soundtrack to the Mormon Men On A Mission calendar and the week's slim new releases.

Continue reading "Music News: Apple Reveals the iPod Touch, Plus The Feeling, Klaxons, Madonna, The Perry Twins" »


Music News: Annie Lennox Takes The Dark Road, Plus Kanye West, Jordin Sparks, Rick Astley, Ari Gold

Annielennox

GuestbloggerPlease welcome Robbie Daw, who will be penning occasional music posts for us here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own pop music site called Chart Rigger.

Though she's one of popular music's most iconic figures, Annie Lennox is gearing up to release only the fourth album of her 15-year solo career. Songs Of Mass Destruction is out October 1 throughout most of the world, and a day later in the U.S.

The video for the first single, "Dark Road," just found its way online yesterday.

Also, the album track "Sing" has leaked. "Sing" features a bevy of female guest vocalists, including Madonna, Céline Dion, Pink, Melissa Etheridge, Fergie, Beth Gibbons, Faith Hill, Angelique Kidjo, Beverley Knight, Gladys Knight, k.d. lang, Sarah McLachlan, Beth Orton, Bonnie Raitt, Shakira, Shingai Shoniwa, Joss Stone, Sugababes, KT Tunstall, and Martha Wainwright. Lennox was inspired to record the song after being involved with Nelson Mandela's Treatment Action Campaign, which fights to protect human rights and promote education for those affected by the HIV virus.

Songs Of Mass Destruction features production by Glen Ballard, who is perhaps most famous for twiddling the knobs on Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill and, more importantly, Wilson Phillips' self-titled debut.

Kanye_shades_3road.jpg As we read last week, Kanye West is still waxing philosophical about homophobia within the hip-hop community. Meanwhile, some other folks seem a bit preoccupied with the sunglasses he's been sporting lately -- particularly in the video for "Stronger," his latest single that's built around a sample of Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." In fact, there's even an entire thread devoted to the topic in the forum at AllHipHop.com, where one member incitefully wrote, "GAYEST THREAD EVER!!!!!!!!"

As it turns out West's shades were designed by Jeremy Scott, whose pop star clientele also includes Fischerspooner, Kylie Minogue, Björk and Madonna.

Elsewhere, "Stronger" unseated Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat" to become the #1 U.K. single this week.

road.jpg Recent American Idol winner Jordin Sparks has a new single, "Tattoo," hitting radio on Monday, though traditionally Top 40 stations have been lukewarm about embracing the winners of the FOX reality show. The New York Post reports that Sparks' album will be out in November, after having inked a deal with 19 Recordings/Jive. The previous five Idol winners had all been signed to RCA.

Rickrolled

road.jpg TREND ALERT: AOL reported on it, Urban Dictionary has multiple entries for it, but if you haven't yet been "Rick rolled," hold on to your coiffed locks, because the wait is finally over. Rick rolling is essentially the process by which you email a pal, tell them they simply have to check out a crazy new video file of Lindsay Lohan yacking up her lunch in the checkout line at Fred Segal, then actually send them a link to '80s blue-eyed soul crooner Rick Astley's #1 hit from 1987, "Never Gonna Give You Up." Yeah, I don't get it, either, but in the midst of all this, one thought came to mind: just how many times did Stock Aitken Waterman cart their artists through that chintzy set for a video shoot?

Did Jason Donovan complain when he got Rick rolled under the same arches for "When You Come Back To Me"? Did Big Fun wave chiding fingers after shooting "Handful Of Promises"? (Actually, it may have been a different set for the latter, but it's easy to get distracted while watching, arguably, the gayest video ever.)

road.jpg NEWS BITES: Madonna to leave Warner Music after 25 years?

One Céline Dion fan reports from the "freaking amazing" album preview focus group.

Morrissey shacks up in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco for six weeks.

Dr. Dre sues former label Death Row over The Chronic.

Donald Trump calls Britney Spears "a f***ing mess." Then he offers her a job.

Sheryl Crow, Avril Lavigne and Fiona Apple work themselves into a Girlfrenzy.

After the jump, The Feeling's Dan Gillespie-Sells, Ari Gold and the today's new releases.

Continue reading "Music News: Annie Lennox Takes The Dark Road, Plus Kanye West, Jordin Sparks, Rick Astley, Ari Gold" »


Highlights from the 2007 Coachella Music & Arts Festival

Thefeeling

Guestblogger_2[by Arjan Writes, guest blogger] Over the last few years, the Coachella Music & Arts Festival has grown into one of the biggest outdoor music festivals in the country. When Madonna appeared last year, she added a mainstream flavor to the event and brought a whole new audience with her. This gave organizers the confidence to grow the event and turn it from a 2 to 3 day event. Set in the scorching desert three hours east of Los Angeles, this year's event was action-packed with some of the hottest talents of the moment perform.

There were many great moment, but here are a few of the highlights (click images to enlarge):

Bjork returned to Coachella playing on Friday night wowing the crowd with new tracks ("Earth Intruders") and old favorites ("Hunter," "Army Of Me," "Pagan Poetry"). She appeared in a costume that looked like The Last Emperor meets Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers played an energetic set on Saturday. They mixed it up a little and covered Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" with a few bars of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."

Thefeeling_dangillsepiesell

Perfectly coiffed and styled, The Feeling turned it up a few notches for their show on Sunday afternoon. Openly-gay frontman Dan Gillespie-Sells (above and right) stayed true to form. He introduced the last song "Love It When You Call" with "I will leave you with this little tune, my darlings."

Mika

Mika (left) appeared a little earlier on the mainstage. Dressed in a simple white tee and "cartoon motion" military pants, he went over very well with the crowd of boarder dudes and rock chicks who had settled early in front of the stage in anticipation of Rage Against the Machine later that day.

Break out act The Klaxons (below, right) presented a fresh, exhilarating sound on Sunday that had me dizzy on my feet from beginning to end. Set included the delicious "Golden Skans." This is a band to watch.

Members of British band Placebo have never made a secret of their sexuality. Singer Brian Molko (below, left) is bisexual and bassist Stefan Olsdal is openly gay. The group played a tight, soaring rock set that included a remake of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill."

Placebo_brianmolko Klaxons

Tiesto made the Dutch proud when he headlined the mainstage and closed the Saturday program. This was the first time a DJ was chosen in favor of a rock act to get this honor. Tiesto played a pre-programmed set that was timed in conjunction with compelling visual effects. He included older fan favorites and tracks from his new album "Elements of Life."

PeachesPeaches (left) rocked her set on Friday night. This chicks knows how to bring it. The brash performer kept a steady pace accompanied by the handsome JD Samson on keys and drummer Sam Maloney. After opening the show with her light saber routine, she jumped on the drum set while chanting "Impeach my bush, impeach my bush."

Rufus Wainwright played songs from his new album "Release The Stars" on Saturday in a packed Mojave tent. Appearing in a robed "gay messiah" costume, he played the piano and acoustic guitar. He was backed by a full band including a horn section. He was quoted saying, "It's great to be here in the desert, where all the rejects had to go and the Jews and the homosexuals."

Dance lovers were in for a treat well with kicky sets by French DJ David Guetta, Felix da Housecat and Paul van Dyk. Faithless delivered a powerful performance on Friday night, sending the crowd into frenzy with live renditions of "Mass Destruction" and the pumping " Insomnia."

Coachella_crowd_2

Arjan is the author of the music blog Arjan Writes, where you can find new music, free downloads, album reviews, and artist interviews. More on each of these artists there.


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