A year and a half later, the song has become an international mega-hit (you saw Annie Lennox join Hozier last night at the Grammys) and we're being treated to a new dazzling video directed by David LaChapelle and featuring Ukrainian ballet "bad boy" Sergei Polunin.
This week is a bit of double feature, in which two high profile releases vie for your attention and everyone's publicity department is on overdrive trying to steer the conversation. Here's an attempt to separate the signal from the noise:
Coldplay — Mylo Xyloto (EMI)
THEIR PUBLICIST SAYS: "Just as the album art was inspired by the work of New York graffiti artists of the 1970s, Mylo Xyloto takes its cue from the sense of freedom those artists embodied."
THE OBJECTIVE TAKE: That's a stretch considering that '70s graffiti artists in New York were largely poor and disenfranchised people expressing themselves using an untraditional canvas and Coldplay are, like, the biggest (and one of the richest) rock bands in the world using guitars and keyboards. So, OK! Hyperbole aside, the band does take some risks here — a duet with Rihanna actually sounds conventional next to the new-wave-Bruce-Springsteen vibe of "Hurts Like Heaven" — and Mylo Xylotois unlikely to kick them off their rock star perch this time around: It's a textured, satisfying, and melodically able album, and despite the attempts of adult contemporary songwriters everywhere, no one does Coldplay quite like Coldplay.
HER PUBLICIST SAYS: "The album is filled with candid, emotionally raw tunes like … 'You Love Me' (in which Clarkson witheringly tells an ex 'you’re not good enough'), 'Einstein' (the cad in question is dismissed with 'Here’s your keys, your bags, your clothes, and now get out of my place'), and the title track, which finds Clarkson putting a fresh spin on Nietzsche’s adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."
THE OBJECTIVE TAKE: Saying that "Stronger" is a "fresh spin" on Nietzsche is kind of hilarious — as if she were the first to appropriate that quote! — but otherwise, it's true: Stronger is an album of kiss-off songs to antagonist boys in the vein of some of her greatest hits. The problem with that? It depends on whether or not you believe that Kelly Clarkson's lyrics are becoming too predictable or, perhaps worse than that, too simplistic in her notions of empowerment. The songs themselves are instantly pleasurable, and some of her best yet. But there's a point in every breakup conversation where one friend must tell the other that he or she needs to move on already.
Maroon 5's Adam Levine to Fox News: "Don't play our music on your evil f*cking channel ever again." Fox News responds: "Dear Adam Levine, don't make crappy f*cking music ever again." It's just a battle where everyone loses, apparently.
From a Mess to the Masses, the new documentary film about Phoenix that aired on European television last week, is currently streaming online.
While Bright Light Bright Light is still prepping for the release of his debut album, he's still supporting his impeccable new single, "Disco Moment," and taking the time out to play an acoustic set for Gaydar Radio that reveals the depth of his synthpop songwriting. Check out these stripped down versions of "Love Pt. 2" or the aforementioned "Disco Moment" and discover why Rod Thomas might be a one-man Pet Shop Boys.
This week's essential streams and downloads? There are a lot of them: Tracy Thorn reunited with Everything But The Girl partner Ben Watt for this cover of "Night Time" — originally recorded by the xx and set to appear on an upcoming EP of the same name. The iconic R.E.M. revealed their final single ever, "We All Go Back to Where We Belong," which is set to appear on their upcoming retrospective Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011. Toronto's Diamond Rings offer up an excellent cover of Teenage Fanclub's "Mellow Doubt" for a new European single. And finally, Charli XCX — a 19-year-old London upstart whose debut single, "Stay Away," is quite likely my favorite song of 2011 so far — releases a long-awaited follow-up: "Nuclear Seasons" suggests that this girl is gunning for album of the year while she's at it.
Ever the cagey one, Robbie Williams has quit Take That (again) and has announced a new record deal with Universal and a new album for 2012. The departure, which went down earlier this year, was perfectly amiable as evidenced by Williams' new songwriting partner in the venture: Take That's Gary Barlow.
Lady Gaga isn't finished with Born This Way yet. This week, it was announced that the album will be issued in two new versions next month: Born This Way: The Remix will host studio work from Goldfrapp, Wild Beasts, Foster the People, Michael Woods, Two Door Cinema Club, Hurts, and more, while Born This Way: The Collection features the original and remix albums as well her Monster Ball at Madison Square Garden DVD.
David LaChappelle's plagiarism lawsuit over Rihanna's "S&M" video has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit, LaChappelle says, was "not personal, it's strictly business. Musicians commonly pay to sample music or use someone's beats and there should be no difference when sampling an artist's visuals."
SOUND & VISION:
FreeSol — "Role Model" (feat. Justin Timberlake)
He's still taking a break from being a pop star, but on the new album by hip-hop/rock group FreeSol, Justin Timberlake steps into the producer's chair — and takes a stab at rapping while he's at it. The result? It's somewhere between good and Saturday Night Live rap-skit — and hashtag rap is so Drake's first album! — but the band behind him is solid.
Active Child — "Playing House" (feat. How To Dress Well)
"Playing House" actually premiered last month, but it got swept up in all the fall new release business around here. So I'm righting that wrong now: Active Child's debut album, You Are All I See, is one of this year's more gorgeous records, and "Playing House" is one of its more plaintive moments — a sullen synthpop song dressed up like a heartbroken R&B opera. It's like they invented something new here, and really, I don't get to say that too often.
Stars — "Dead Hearts"
The Five Ghosts is as haunting as its title suggests, so the idea of shooting a clip for "Dead Hearts" at a funeral is an appropriate one. The trick, then, is transmitting loss without veering into literal maudlin tropes or devolving into total darkness. So it's no small feat that Stars made the most optimistic video about death you can imagine.
Olly Murs — "Dance With Me Tonight"
He lost the 2009 UK X Factor competition to Joe McElderry, but these days, Olly Murs is making #1 singles and trafficking in the kind of feel-good vintage pop-soul that Will Young used to make before he went electro. (After releasing a debut album to disappointing numbers, McElderry is, inexplicably, singing opera now.) "Dance With Me Tonight" is the ebullient second single to come from Murs' upcoming second album, In Case You Didn't Know.
Straight Italian couple sues cruise company after showing up for their vacation to discover they were departing on Italy's first gay cruise: "My clients were also left embarrassed because among the passengers were
people they knew and had no idea that were gay, which was uncomfortable
for all parties."
Gay activists plan kiss-in at Fort Worth Stockyards: "The kissing booth will be on Exchange Street, right in the heart of
the Stockyards and its bound to stir up controversy. In fact, one old
cowboy has been quoted as warning gays that if they are not careful,
they might be in for a whuppin'."
Gujarat state in India becomes home to the country's first elderly home for gay men: "The brainchild of Manvendra Singh Gohil, popularly known as India's gay prince, the project will be ready to accommodate elderly homosexuals by the end of the year.
Manvendra Singh Gohil says, 'We will offer food, drinks and medical facilities for the people staying here, it will be their home.'
The Rs 25-crore project will be home to 50 elderly gay men to start with. Requests for accommodation have already started trickling in."
Boyzone to hold Stephen Gately vigil on night before the funeral: "Grieving Boyzone bandmates plan to stay in the church with Stephen Gately's body the night before his funeral. Ronan
Keating, 32, Mikey Graham, 37, Shane Lynch, 33, and Keith Duffy, 35,
have taken the decision because Gately 'would not want to be there on
his own', a source close to the group revealed."
Passerby mistakenly frees female killer of London gay man: "Police are looking for three young people including two blonde
teenagers who were caught on CCTV arguing with Baynham and his
30-year-old companion. The victim's friend grabbed one of the
girls, receiving cuts and bruises in the process, but the girl was
freed by members of the public who wrongly thought she was being
assaulted, said Detective Chief Inspector Clive Heys, who is leading
Bishop Gene Robinson will be appearing tonight at an event in Portland, Maine: "Join us for an evening of edification and education as we gather to
worship God and to hear the words of the Right Reverend V. Gene
Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Sponsored
by the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, the Religious
Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine, Rev. Ann Fowler, the
Cathedral Church of St. Luke, the Equity Fund of the Maine Community
Foundation, and Integrity Maine"
Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell signs marriage equality bill: "Rell this afternoon signed Senate Bill 899, which incorporates the
findings of the Kerrigan case into Connecticut statutes. That ruling,
handed down by the state Supreme Court in October, paved the way for
same-sex marriage. Both the House and the Senate spent hours yesterday debating Senate
Bill 899, which passed only after an amendment was added that provides
an exemption to groups who object to same-sex marriage on religious
The giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way tastes vaguely like raspberries, smells like rum, scientists think.
Gizmodo blogger eats world's largest Cheeto - WATCH.
Alabama House passes resolution in support of Miss California: "The House approved the resolution Thursday by Republican Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery on a voice vote...Love said Prejean stuck to her convictions even if it meant losing the pageant."
Gays vs gays on Jamaica boycott: "J-FLAG Programs Manager Jason McFarlane took particular exception to
the boycott of Red Stripe beer, saying the brewer has 'unequivocally
distanced itself from the hostility and violence typical of Jamaican
music towards members of the LGBT community.'"
Activists gather strength in Mumbai to pressure politicians to decriminalize homosexuality: "At a 'People's Panchayat' in the capital
on resisting stigma and homophobia, the activists said political
parties, which have mindset dating back to years, need to wake up to
the existence of sexual minorities or face electoral boycott from the
estimated four crore population."
Stonewall Library and Archive celebrates grand opening in Fort Lauderdale: "In decades past, when gay residents wanted to find books about their
community they had to borrow from friends or from a closet where some
were stored at a gay-friendly church. The new location is a sign of how mainstream the gay community has
become in Broward: the gay library shares a building with a county
library and ArtServe and is situated on the edge of a city park where
children play ball and seniors gather for tennis lessons. Jack Rutland, library executive director, lauded the city and county for entering a partnership to make the library possible. 'Imagine me saying that 20 years ago,' Rutland said."
Edmund White on Amazon: "I don't think it was a glitch. It's
shocking that someone in that organization has the power to [get rid
of] gay books. All my own books were [also] affected. I wrote in my
name [on Amazon] last week and A Boy's Own Story wasn't there! Only four of my 22 books were there. It was astonishing. Frankly, if one of the custodians of
Western culture is a corporation like Amazon, perhaps they should be
regulated like the financial world. We need regulation in the cultural
world too so that they don't restrict anything, like Amazon did."
Pedro Almodovar developing Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown into a TV series: "Fox TV Studios is developing the English-language hourlong project
and has tapped Mimi Schmir to pen the pilot script. Almodovar and
Schmir are exec producing...Almodovar will be very involved in "Women," which will be developed
with an eye for the international market."
Emile Hirsch, who is starring in the upcoming Speed Racer as well as Gus van Sant's Milk later this year, got natural for David LaChapelle in Hawaii in this month's Flaunt magazine.
Hirsch also recently spoke out about Milk for the first time. Said the actor, who plays gay activist (and eventual NAMES Quilt creator) Cleve Jones in the film: "I just did this film called ‘Milk’ with Sean Penn and Gus Van Sant about Harvey Milk. I think it’s going to be a really good film. I don’t want to give anything away by telling you a timeline, but it’s not really giving anything away, because it’s historical fact. Milk represented change for a lot of people, and was a catalyst to that. And his eventual assassination similarly mirrored Martin Luther King."
Check out a little behind-the-scenes shirtless waterfall action on LaChapelle's shoot, AFTER THE JUMP...