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Mark your calendars: April and May shows we’ve got our eyes on

MIA
Not sure if you noticed in our Spring Guide that we gave you a week-by-week blow of records and shows to dig your teeth into in the coming months. But that really only scratched the surface. The next couple months see most venues in town really kicking up their live music game. Of course, there are a few shows we’ve talked about already: In the immediate future, you can check out Asher Roth’s gig at the Barbary on the 2nd, and as May concludes, you can get your Roots Picnic on. But here, we’ve dutifully compiled, venue by venue, the shows that look most exciting (especially after that rainy weekend) for the months of April and May.

Electric Factory
Friday, 4/18 – Carl Cox
Saturday, 4/19 – Christina Perri
Wednesday, 5/7 – Black Label Society
Tuesday, 5/13 – Elbow
Saturday, 5/17 – Mastadon
Friday, 5/30 – Ingrid Michaelson

Wells Fargo Center
Tuesday, 4/22 – Miley Cyrus
Monday, 4/28 – Cher with Cyndi Lauper
Monday, 5/12 – Lady Gaga
Monday, 5/29 – Barry Gibb

The Trocadero
Thursday, 4/3 – Bayside
Wednesday, 4/9 – Johnny Popcorn
Friday, 4/18 – Stephen “Ragga” Marley
Tuesday, 5/6 – Against Me!
Tuesday, 5/13 – The Faint
Tuesday, 5/22 – Magnet magazine’s 21st birthday party with Guided By Voices, Surfer Blood and Titus Andronicus

Union Transfer
Thursday, 4/3 – Real Estate with Pure X
Friday, 4/4 – The Dillinger Escape Plan
Saturday, 4/5 – James Vincent McMorrow
Thursday, 4/10 – Cloud Nothings
Saturday 4/12 – Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra with Bardo Pond
Friday, 4/18 – The Black Lips
Saturday, 4/19 – Tycho with Gardens & Villa
Sunday, 4/20 – Dan Croll
Wednesday, 4/23 – Baths
Monday, 5/5 – Wye Oak with Braids
Wednesday, 5/7 – Bombay Bicycle Club with Royal Canoe
Thursday, 5/8 – Mogwai
Monday, 5/12 – of Montreal
Tuesday, 5/13 – Metronomy with Cloud Control
Wednesday, 5/14 – Chromeo
Thursday, 5/15 – Swans with Jenny Hval
Wednesday, 5/21 – Conor Oberst
Friday, 5/30 – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Saturday, 5/31 – The Menzingers

Johnny Brenda’s
Monday, 4/14 – I Break Horses
Friday, 4/18 – TJ Kong and The Atomic Bomb (record release)
Saturday, 4/19 – Philly Loves Def Jam
Thursday, 4/24 – Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Friday, 4/25 – Low Cut Connie
Saturday, 4/26 – The Hood Internet with DJ Apt One
Tuesday, 4/29 – Jessica Lea Mayfield
Wednesday, 5/15 – Angel Olsen
Thursday, 5/16 – Owen Pallett
Monday, 5/19 – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Wednesday, 5/21 – MØ

The Tower
Saturday, 4/12 – The Wanted
Sunday, 4/13 – Taking Back Sunday with The Used
Friday, 4/25 – M.I.A.
Thursday, 5/1 – Ledisi with Robert Glasper Experiment
Friday, 5/2 – Nickel Creek
Saturday, 5/10 – Thievery Corporation
Wednesday, 5/14 – HAIM

Boot & Saddle
Wednesday, 4/2 – Birdie Busch with Harsh Vibes
Thursday, 4/3 – Pattern is Movement (record release)
Sunday, 4/6 – Dean Wareham
Thursday, 4/10 – Psychic Teens
Friday, 4/11 – Work Drugs
Sunday, 4/13 – The Menzingers’ Rented World listening party
Monday, 4/14 – S. Carey
Friday, 4/25 – Woods with Quilt
Wednesday, 5/7, 5/14, 5/21, 5/28 – Hoots and Hellmouth
Tuesday, 5/20 – Young Widows

The TLA
Thursday, 4/3 – Cam’ron with Smoke DZA
Friday, 4/18 – Boy George
Sunday, 4/20 – 9th Annual Zombie Crawl
Monday, 4/21 – Extreme Midget Wrestling
Wednesday, 4/23 – Riff Raff
Friday, 4/25 – TECH N9NE with Freddie Gibbs
Saturday, 4/26 – Toadies
Monday, 4/28 – Better Than Ezra
Tuesday, 4/29 – YG with DJ Mustard
Saturday, 5/3 – Iggy Azalea
Thursday, 5/8 – Mobb Deep
Saturday, 5/10 – Ozomatli
Thursday, 5/15 – Morcheeba
Friday, 5/16 – Tokyo Police Club
Thurdsay, 5/29 – Yann Tiersen

The Keswick
Friday, 4/4 – Los Lonely Boys
Saturday, 4/5 – Keb ‘Mo (acoustic)
Thursday, 5/29 – Jamie Cullum
Friday, 5/30 – Eels

World Cafe Live
Saturday, 4/5 – Amy Ray
Sunday, 4/13 – Nina Persson
Tuesday, 4/15 – Jose James
Tuesday, 4/22 – The Milk Carton Kids
Saturday, 4/26 – Joan Osborne
Monday, 5/5 – Suzanne Vega
Saturday, 5/10 – Keren Ann
Sunday, 5/18 – Uh Huh Her

Some other R5 shows
Friday, 4/25 – Perfect Pussy at the Church
Sunday, 4/27 – Hauschka at the Church Sanctuary
Wednesday, 4/30 – Margot & The Nuclear So & Sos at the Church
Thursday, 5/15 – The Districts at the Church
Friday, 5/16 – OFF! at the Church


Bill Chenevert | Mar 31 2014 11:50am | CULTURE, EVENTS, Festival Pier, LOCAL LOVE, NIGHTLIFE, Spring/summer fashion, concerts, dance, festival, festivals, great idea, just for fun, local biz, music, on a budget, party, pennsylvania, philly, roundups, spring fashion, stress relief, summer, summer style, tours, what to do, 9th Annual Zombie Crawl, Against Me!, Amy Ray, Angel Olsen, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, Bardo Pond, Barry Gibb, Baths, Bayside, Better Than Ezra, Birdie Busch, Black Label Society, Bombay Bicycle Club, Boy George, braids, Cam'ron, Carl Cox, Cher, Christina Perri, Chromeo, Cloud Control, Cloud Nothings, Conor Oberst, Cyndi Lauper, Dan Croll, Dean Wareham, DJ Apt One, DJ Mustard, Eels, Elbow, Extreme Midget Wrestling, Freddie Gibbs, Gardens & Villa, Guided by Voices, HAIM, Harsh Vibes, Hauschka, Hoots And Hellmouth, I Break Horses, Iggy Azalea, Ingrid Michaelson, James Vincent McMorrow, Jamie Cullum, Jenny Hval, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Joan Osborne, Johnny Popcorn, Jose James, Keren Ann, lady gaga, Ledisi, Los Lonely Boys SatKeb 'Mo, Low Cut Connie, M.I.A., Margot & The Nuclear So & Sos, mastadon, Metronomy, miley cyrus, Mobb Deep, Mogwai, Morcheeba, , Nickel Creek, Nina Persson, of Montreal, OFF!, Owen Pallett, Ozomatli, Pattern is Movement, Perfect Pussy, Philly Loves Def Jam, Psychic Teens, Pure X, Quilt, R5, r5 productions, Real Estate, Riff Raff, Robert Glasper Experiment, Royal Canoe, S. Carey, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Smoke DZA, Surfer Blood, Suzanne Vega, Swans, Taking Back Sunday, TECH N9NE, The Black Lips, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Districts, The Electric Factory, The Faint, The First Unitarian Church, The Hood Internet, The Keswick, The Menzingers, the Milk Carton Kids, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The TLA, The Tower, The Trocadero, The Used, the wanted, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Thievery Corporation, Titus Andronicus, TJ Kong And The Atomic Bomb, Toadies, Tokyo Police Club, Tycho, Uh Huh Her, Union Transfer, Wells Fargo Center, Woods, Work Drugs, world cafe live, Wye Oak, Yann Tiersen, YG, Young Widows | Comments 0

“The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” debuted with Will Smith—and a whimper, not a bang

JF
Last night was late-night history: Jimmy Fallon took over the coveted spot as host of NBC’s fabled “Tonight Show.” It felt like an event, something that had to be watched. Turns out, it was a bit of a soft opening. It was pretty vanilla. But some help from Fallon’s friends made it at least somewhat memorable.

The Roots seem extraordinarily front-and-center. Folks who pull sound bytes out of Tariq and Quest are now a little preoccupied with the notion that they could have this job for decades—that they’ll grow old backing Fallon up. And it’s really something that they can be a corny, PG and ma-and-pa-friendly intro and improv-for-a-joke band, then turn around and make a record like undun. They were more exciting to see than U2, Fallon’s first musical guest, which is just a little bit on the terrible tip. I actually listened to Boy (1980), October (1981) and War (1983) recently, to try to cool it on the U2 hate, and was reminded that they used to be really sick. But for now, they’re half-UN ambassadors and half-corporate puppets—in my eyes, anyway.

Fallon’s opening monologue turned into a really watered-down description of himself and the show. I did dig his upstate NY shout-out (Saugerties is a 30-minute drive from where I grew up, Red Hook, and home to the delicious El Rancho on Route 32), but his showing us where he’ll stand (on a four-leaf clover) and where he’ll come out (that big, beautiful curtain) was pretty unnecessary.

He finally got to an actual bit, saying that he was owed money for a bet, and a friend would be stopping by to settle up. Uh, there were several. Among them, Robert DeNiro, Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica-Parker, Seth Rogen, Mariah Carey, Lindsay Lohan and a scene-stealing visit from Stephen Colbert—who poured his bet money out in pennies,then took a selfie while Fallon rolled his eyes.

Will Smith, more Philly representation, was his “first guest ever,” and frankly, he was boring. Minus the uber-fab “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” (Please watch it below), they kind of just smiled at each other a lot while Fallon asked boring questions about the Olympics and Will’s kids. Yawn.

U2 did a rooftop performance of a song that I basically tuned out. I really hope I’m not the only one who thinks Bono is insufferable. One of my favorite bits, in fact, was poking fun of Bono’s willingness and ability to give an acceptance speech, for all the manifestations of his unrelenting philanthropy. He was dared to give one about his water mug, and he did. It almost felt like the humor was lost on him, and that added to the deliciousness.

Tonight’s guests look way better: Jerry Seinfeld, Kristen Wiig and Gaga. (Why couldn’t that have been the lineup last night?) Or will he continue to explain that this is his second night, that he’ll sit at a desk, or that his unsung hero, Steve Higgins, will periodically save his bombs? C’mon, Jimmy—don’t make me regret my thrill that Jay Leno’s gone and the show’s come back to New York.

FYI: Brad Cooper and Tim McGraw are Wednesday night; First Lady Michelle Obama, Will Ferrell and Arcade Fire are on Thursday night, and a full night of Justin Timberlake’ll conclude Week One.

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Spring shows preview: Our favorite get-tickets-now concerts on the calendar

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Sam Smith’s cookin’ up buzz with his anticipated debut LP, In the Lonely Hour (due 5/26), after appearing on the bangin’ Disclosure track, “Latch.”

Not wholly unlike record releases, shows tend to dry up in the winter doldrums. But even halfway through January (Cate, Cruiser, The Sword, Royal Bangs, Johnny Flynn), in the homestretch of the first month of 2014 (Damien, Jay Z, Brazilian Girls, Bone Thugs) and into early February (Katie Frank, Deerhunter and Darkside, Maria Taylor and Mutual Benefit) do things start getting heated up. You can almost feel the spring thaw coming, and when it does, we will party. Of course, as the coming weeks unfold, and you, our good human readers, note gaps and holes in the below-listed favorites, this list will be updated and beefed up and improved with time. Links are provided for each venue so that you can hunt down tickets.

BOOT & SADDLE
1/17: Cate Le Bon
1/18: Rosetta with Grimace Federation
1/23: Buried Beds
1/25: Damien Jurado
1/28 & 1/29: Young Widows
1/30: Ron Gallo
2/1: Mirah with Divers
2/2: Whirr with Nothing
2/5: Maria Taylor
2/6: Mutual Benefit
2/18: Those Darlins with Diarrhea Planet
2/21: Gardens & Villa
2/27: Quilt
2/28: Augustines
3/13: Com Truise
3/15: Xiu Xiu
3/20: Adam & Dave’s Bloodline
3/21: Sam Smith
4/3: Pattern is Movement
4/16: We Are Scientists
4/25: Woods

SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER
3/1: Demi Lovato
3/6: Robin Thicke with Jessie J
3/7: Imagine Dragons

THEATRE OF THE LIVING ARTS (TLA)
1/18: Action Bronson
1/25: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony with Freeway
1/30: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
1/31: Karmin
2/15 and 2/16: G. Love & Special Sauce
3/1: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
3/8: Nipsey Hussle with Gillie Da Kid
3/15: HIM
3/28: Mobb Deep
3/29: 3rd Annual East Coast Beard and Mustache Competition
5/9: Primal Scream

TOWER THEATER
2/14 & 2/15: An Evening with Bob Weir & RatDog
2/26: Young the Giant
3/22: 2 Chainz with Pusha T
4/12: The Wanted

WELLS FARGO CENTER
1/29: Jay Z
1/30: Lady Antebellum with Kacey Musgraves
2/19: Kings of Leon with Gary Clark Jr.
2/25: Justin Timeberlake
3/7: Paul Simon & Sting
3/17: Arcade Fire
4/22: Miley Cyrus
5/12: Lady Gaga

UNDERGROUND ARTS
1/17: The Sword with Serpent Throne and Sunburster
1/31: Brazilian Girls with El Malito & the 33rd Century
2/12: Dead Meadow
2/19: Russian Circles
4/12: London Grammar with Vancouver Sleep Clinic
4/14: Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear/Department of Eagles) with William Tyler

MILKBOY PHILLY
1/18: Royal Bangs
2/21: Katie Frank and The Pheromones (release show)
3/1: Milagres

THE TROCADERO
1/25: Reverend Horton Heat
1/30: Sean Paul
2/13: Skinny Puppy
2/21: Buckcherry
2/27: Dumpstaphunk and Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers
3/23: Gary Numan
4/18: Stephen “Ragga” Marley

NORTH STAR BAR
1/18: Johnny Flynn

KUNG FU NECKTIE
1/15: Cruiser with Suburban Living and Dream Safari

UNION TRANSFER
1/21: Phosphorescent
1/29: Jason Isbell
2/5: Deerhunter
2/6: Darkside
2/7: Murder City Devils
2/8: Pissed Jeans with Purling Hiss and Trophy Wife
2/16: The Black Angels with Roky Erickson
2/21: RJD2
2/23: White Lies with Frankie Rose
2/27: White Denim
2/28: St. Vincent
3/1: mewithoutYou
3/3: Brett Dennen
3/10: Bombay Bicycle Club with Royal Canoe
3/18: The War on Drugs
3/22: Warpaint
3/24: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
3/28: Okkervil River with Typhoon
4/2: Lake Street Dive
4/18: The Black Lips
5/7: Bombay Bicycle Club
5/8: Mogwai
5/14: Chromeo


Bill Chenevert | Jan 15 2014 12:40pm | BEAUTY, EVENTS, LOCAL LOVE, NIGHTLIFE, art, concerts, dance, great idea, just for fun, music, on a budget, philly, roundups, tours, what to do, 2 Chainz, 3rd Annual East Coast Beard and Mustache Competition, Action Bronson, Adam & Dave’s Bloodline, Arcade Fire, Augustines, Bob Weir & RatDog, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Boot & Saddle, Brazilian Girls, Brett Dennen, Buckcherry, Buried Beds, Cate Le Bon, Chromeo, Com Truise, concerts we're looking forward to, cruiser, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Damien Jurado, Daniel Rossen, Darkside, Dead Meadow, Deerhunter, Demi Lovato, Department of Eagles, Diarrhea Planet, Divers, Dream Safari, Dumpstaphunk and Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers, El Malito & the 33rd Century, Frankie Rose, Freeway, G. Love & Special Sauce, Gardens & Villa, Gary Clark Jr., Gary Numan, Gillie Da Kid, Grimace Federation, Grizzly Bear, HIM, Imagine Dragons, Jason Isbell, jay-z, Jessie J, Johnny Flynn, Justin Timeberlake, Kacey Musgraves, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Karmin, Katie Frank and The Pheromones, Kings of Leon, kung fu necktie, Lady Antebellum, lady gaga, Lake Street Dive, London Grammar, Maria Taylor, mewithoutYou, Milagres, miley cyrus, Milkboy Philly, Mirah, Mobb Deep, Mogwai, Murder City Devils, Mutual Benefit, Nipsey Hussle, North Star Bar, Nothing, Okkervil River, our favorite tickets, our favorite venues, Pattern is Movement, Paul Simon & Sting, Phosphorescent, Pissed Jeans, Primal Scream, Purling Hiss, Pusha T, Quilt, Reverend Horton Heat, RJD2, Robin Thicke, Roky Erickson, Ron Gallo, Rosetta, Royal Bangs, Royal Canoe, Russian Circles, Sam Smith, Sean Paul, Serpent Throne, Skinny Puppy, Spring Concert preview, St. Vincent, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Suburban Living, Sunburster, Susquehanna Bank Center, The Black Angels, The Black Lips, The Sword, the wanted, The War on Drugs, Theatre of the Living Arts, Those Darlins, tickets to buy, TLA, Tower Theater, Trophy Wife, Typhoon, underground arts, Union Transfer, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Warpaint, We Are Scientists, Wells Fargo Center, Whirr, White Denim, White Lies, William Tyler, Woods, Xiu Xiu, Young the Giant, Young Widows | Comments 0

On the Record: Blood Orange, John Talabot, Jake Bugg, Yo Gotti, Andrew Bird, and Lady Gaga

11.27.REVIEWS-BLOODORANGEBlood Orange
Cupid Deluxe
(Domino)
Sounds like:
Dev Hynes is the man. Writing for Solange and Sky Ferreira hasn’t slowed him down, and his creativity’s inspiring—futuristic funk plus airy R&B ambience.
Free association: The Londoner-turned-New Yorker should jam out with Prince.
For fans of: Dam-Funk/Rhye x Chairlift/Frankie Rose, Jessie Ware, odd hats and boots.

11.27.REVIEWS-JOHNTALABOTJohn Talabot
DJ-Kicks
(!K7 Records)
Sounds like:
The Barcelona DJ and producer’s newest since blowing minds with Fin doesn’t disappoint—sprawling, blissed-out house compositions for the night.
Free association: Pay no attention to titles. Just push play and bone/burn/boogie.
For fans of: Andy Stott x DJ Koze + Glasser with the 2 Bears, chilltimes, electro dreams.

11.27.REVIEWS-JAKEBUGGJake Bugg
Shangri La
(Island/Mercury)
Sounds like:
Hard to believe this kid’s 19, but the UK folk- and rock-minded singer songwriter’s got skillful delivery, a punchy sense of rhythm and legit chops.
Free association: A sophomore here, but no slump. Dude’s picking up steam for a reason.
For fans of: King Krule/Bob Dylan/Eugene McGuinness + Arctic Monkeys, explosive talent.

11.27.REVIEWS-YOGOTTIYo Gotti
I Am
(Epic)
Sounds like:
Not a lot of surprises from the self-proclaimed King of Memphis; the 32-year-old veteran emcee sticks to trap raps over syrupy production.
Free association: There’s a track called “ION Want It;” it’s good, but “LeBron James” is not.
For fans of: Meek/T.I./J. Cole/Ne-Yo/Jeezy/Wale/Rich Homie Quan, guap, dope and the trap.

11.27.REVIEWS-ANDREWBIRDAndrew Bird
I Want to See Pulaski at Night
(Grimesy Records)
Sounds like:
A charming lil’ EP that cradles “Pulaski at Night” with movements and instrumentals, always with that viola loopin’, whistlin’, folksy Chicagoan charm.
Free association: There’s something really romantic about this man’s thing for strings.
For fans of: Sufjan x Phosphorescent + Bowerbirds with M. Ward, the second and Windy City.

11.27.REVIEWS-LADYGAGALady Gaga
ARTPOP
(Interscope)
Sounds like:
The queen of weird and mother of monsters delivers an equally panned and praised batch of queer-friendly pop obsessed with the fabulous life.
Free association: “Applause”/”Gypsy,” fine; “Donatella” and “Fashion!” save this sinking ship.
For fans of: Britney/Katy/Madonna, trends in pop (like EDM), tiaras and Mary Jane.



Diva Death Match: Britney Spears vs. Katy Perry vs. Lady Gaga

Work
In the endless cycle of pop music, we love a repeating theme. And one of the best ones is the game—the competition. And when pop stars keep getting beat down and insisting on standing back up and putting records out, it’s both hilarious and charming to watch them, in equal parts, fail and succeed. Like Britney, for (prime) example: She just keeps putting in a solid effort, but effort does not always equal sales. …Baby One More Time (’99) was a big debut, we’ll give her that. Fast forward to 14 years later and we get “Work Bitch,” a fascinating, shiny turd that’s both a powerful hit and a stunning(ly expensive) video. Put this up alongside two other giant pop anthems from the late summer/early fall, and we’ve got ourselves a clear and nasty brawl bubbling up—a perfect fourth installation of our occasional blog series, DIVA DEATH MATCH.

You know who the others are, right? It’s Katy and Gags. Their singles, “Roar” and “Applause,” are perfectly poised as combatants. “Roar” came out Aug. 10, “Applause” Aug. 12 and Britney’s video hit the webs Oct. 2. First, a little analysis on each tune—then we’ll just officiate the nasty.

Let’s start with KP’s “Roar,” a charming little anthemic statement of purpose: I’m going to be fierce and you can’t stop me. She even uses that cutesy “I stood for nothing / So I fell for everything” didactic. We enjoyed a fairly charming Video Music Awards performance (she is blessed/cursed with giant boobs and a sports bra may NOT have been the best choice in this boxing context), and then we were floored by how stupid and basic the video turned out to be. Still, it’s got 115 million views.

Gaga has emerged as a potentially more viable pop artist than we ever imagined she would be. And with the impending drop of Artpop on the horizon, “Applause” became a controversial divining rod of Gaga fandom: If you love it, you’re a monster; if you hate it, you hate life (say said monsters); and if you’re ambivalent, you’re too intellectual. Actual essays have been written about this song and its referential oddities. But the video’s bananas—a very art-directed and Beetlejuicey affair. Let’s be real: The song’s a grower. As one queen once asked me: “Have you danced to it at Voyeur at 3:15am?” Point taken.

Now, in swoops Britney with her bold appropriation of a gay culture -ism, not even second-thinking a wholesale shopping trip through an alternative culture’s lexicon and vocabulary but just owning it and making it pop. See, in Gay World, we use the word “work” a lot. Work means a lot of things—a lot of different things to a lot of different gays (see Shangela’ “Werqin’ Girl”). Most often it means, “Slay them,” “Kill it,” or “Keep making them gag.” But Britney managed to brilliantly turn it into a hybrid of consumerism and fierceness: “You wanna live in a mansion? / Party in France? / Then get to work, bitch.” TRUE! I DO want a mansion and party in France, and I suppose you’re right, I better keep on showing up to my paying job on time so that I can afford to one day seek out the luxuries, baubles and travels I desire for myself.

But these singles are just a little too close together for it to just be coincidence, right? I smell a FIGHT.

KPGaga2

HOODNESS

Well, this one’s a wash. In the past, like when I put Beyonce against Jill Scott and then against Rihanna, this was a solid point-earning category for all involved. This one’s just sad with one white girl (Gaga) blowing away two other white girls because she grew up in New York City. Britney: 1, Katy: 0, Gaga: 2.

FIERCENESS

The beautiful nebulous and subjective je ne sais quoi of a diva’s fierceness is often what we love most about them. Whereas some fierceness comes from being on top of your game, or for functioning as a sickening fashion plate, or for nailing choreography, some just comes from being a potent product. Like Katy, for instance: total idiot as far as I’m concerned, but she plays the innocent pop star role SO WELL. And Britney’s new video is, if anything, fierce in its imagery, budget, production, attention span captivity and execution. Gaga’s fierce, I guess, but in a certain kind of trying-to-be-avant-garde arty and severe pop stardom kind of way. Britney: 4, Katy: 1, Gaga: 3.

VOCAL CHOPS

This should be and is often the great equalizer. Doesn’t matter if you can dance or hire stylists and video directors—if the tune doesn’t get carried, it won’t make it to the charts. Of course, in 2013, that’s vaguely debatable; more and more, a production team can make any ol’ gal with a nice body and empty mind into a chart-dominating starlet. But vocals have never been Brit-Brit’s strong suit. And while Gaga can actually sing sometimes (especially when it’s just her and a piano), her pipes are not the main attraction; it’s a strong section of her art-girl package but not the focus. Katy, sadly, can pretty much mop the floor with these girls, at least in the studio. Watching Katy sing live is a little painful because she wants to dance because she’s supposed to, but also seems like if she dances too enthusiastically she won’t be able to keep singing. Britney: 2, Katy: 4, Gaga: 4.

SINGLES AND SALES

Let’s look at some numbers, shall we? Charts-wise, Katy’s currently in the lead with a #2 spot for “Roar” in the Billboard Hot 100 (”Applause” is #9, “Work” is #13). Should be interesting to see how those chart positions flip-flop and alternate. In the YouTube department, Katy’s got 117 million views and it was published on Sep. 5, but, whoa, Gaga’s got less than 75 million views and it was viewable on Aug. 19. Tough blow, Gags. And then look at Ms. Spears, whose video’s been watched 25 million times in less than 10 days. Looks like we have a clear winner here. Britney: 5, Katy: 4, Gaga: 3.

CLOUT

This could be one of the toughest to make numerical. They are, all three, HUGE pop stars in their own way, and appeal to the tons of teens out there that really want to identify with one pop queen more so than any other. Katy gets the wholesome Christian vote, while Gaga gets the weird girls who seek a hero. The thing about Britney is that she’s the clear veteran with her eighth record on the way. Plus she’s got tons of fans who’ve been crazy about her since she was 17. And remember how Brit and JT and N’Sync were all family? That happened. Looks like Britney wins by a hair! Britney: 5, Katy: 3, Gaga: 4.

TOTALS: Britney with 17, Katy with 12, and Gaga 16.



Great expectations: The most anticipated albums of Fall 2013

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There are more than a few juicy albums slated for release this fall, no doubt, and by a cadre of folks who really put the art in artistry. Alas, they are among 2013’s most eagerly awaited projects, certain to liven up your radio listening, heat up your world’s cold corners—or both.

A few are mystifying and exciting in that “Oh, they’re goin’ for it?!” kind of way: Luscious Jackson, TLC, the Dismemberment Plan, Moby, Mazzy Star, the Blow and Stryper—plus Eminem, Mariah and Britney. Some acts are going to be fun to watch either run off the rails or completely destroy the pop charts: Icona Pop, Drake, Pusha T, Jason Derulo, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Lady Gaga. There’s a handful we’re hopeful to see emerge as the future of music we believe they just might be: CHVRCHES, Lorde (pictured above), HAIM, Oh Land, Lucius or Unknown Mortal Orchestra. And lastly, a good bunch of records are due from cats we’re pretty certain we’re going to enjoy the hell out of all autumn long: Deer Tick, the Internet, Justin Timberlake, Quasi, Yuck, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Glasser, Sleigh Bells, Cut Copy, M.I.A. and Midlake. Fortunately, no matter how well we think we can see into the future, there’ll surely be some surprises to knock us flat on our asses or a mixtape or two that’ll pop up out of nowhere and win everyone’s heart.

Happy listening!

Due out Sept. 24
Au Revoir Simone, Move in Spectrums
CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe
Deer Tick, Negativity
Drake, Nothing Was the Same
Frankie Rose, Herein Wild
Icona Pop, This Is … Icona Pop
Mazzy Star, Seasons of Your Day
Oh Land, Wish Bone
The Internet, Feel Good

Due out Sept. 30
Danny Brown, Old
HAIM, Days Are Gone

Due out Oct. 1
Amos Lee, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song
Blitzen Trapper, VII
Brendan Canning, You Gots 2 Chill
Dr. Dog, B-Room
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2
Lorde, Pure Heroine
Moby, Innocents
Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven
Polvo, Siberia
Quasi, Mole City
The Blow, The Blow
Yuck, Glow & Behold

Due out Oct. 8
Cage the Elephant, Melophobia
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., The Speed of Things
Glasser, Interiors
Jason Derulo, Tattoos
of Montreal, Lousy with Sylvianbriar
Pusha T, My Name is My Name
Rjd2, More Is Than Isn’t
Sleigh Bells, Bitter Rivals

Due out Oct. 15
Cass McCombs, Big Wheel and Others
Crystal Antlers, Nothing is Real
Cults, Static
Gary Numan, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)
Lucius, Wildewoman
The Avett Brothers, Magpie And The Dandelion
The Dismemberment Plan, Uncanney Valley
The Head and the Heart, Let’s Be Still
Tim Hecker, Virgins
TLC, Title TBA (Really!?)

Due out Oct. 22
Best Coast, Fade Away
CFCF, Outside
Katy Perry, Prism

Due out Oct. 29
Bad Religion, Christmas Songs
Far-Out Fangtooth, Borrowed Time
Kelly Clarkson, Wrapped in Red
Los Campesinos!, No Blues
Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2
Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time
Arcade Fire, Reflektor
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blue Record EP

Due out Nov. 4
Melvins, Tres Cabrones
Sore Eros & Kurt Vile, Jamaica Plain EP

Due out Nov. 5
Bryce Dessner & Kronos Quartet, Aheym
Cut Copy, Free Your Mind
Eminem, Marshall Mathers LP 2
Luscious Jackson, Magic Hour
M.I.A., Matangi
Midlake, Antiphon
Stryper, No More Hell to Pay

Due out Nov. 11
Lady Gaga, Artpop

Due out Nov. 12
Cate Le Bon, Mug Museum
Keller Williams, FUNK
Mount Eerie, Pre-Human Ideas

Due out Nov. 26
Future, Honest

To be announced
Mariah Carey, The Art of Letting Go
Britney Spears, Title TBD
Darkside, Psychic (Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington)
Iggy Azalea, The New Classic (November)
Chris Brown, X (November)



M.I.A. IV: Beyonce

BEYMIAPhoto by J.R. Blackwell
Sunday, Sept. 1

This might be one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to write. See, over the last half-dozen years, Beyonce’s become my go-to diva. I love divas. It’s one of my favorite things in life, the discussion of pop divas. I’ve written extensively about it. I think Bey really is one of the biggest queens in the game. “Bow Down” was so much fun; it felt like she still had lots of fight left and she was getting a little pompous—which was exciting, because sometimes her humble, “I’m just a girl from Houston, Texas” act gets a little tiresome. Sometimes you want your diva to oscillate into bad-bitch mode, like Rihanna. Rih destroys the bad-bitch game and puts out so much damn material that, even though there are lots of flops mixed in, there are some hits, too, and we get a record every year. (Plus, an endless stream on Instagram of her smoking blunts and highlighting passages from the Bible.) This is to say, Saturday night’s performance was, of course, hype and a blast. But it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before.

Having seen her Revel show and watching—on repeat, for years—her Live at Roseland DVD, I wasn’t surprised at any of the songs she performed. In fact, I think she missed a giant opportunity. Jay was in the house, or so it seemed, and his live vocals popped up for a few seconds as she did a truncated version of “Crazy in Love.” So why couldn’t they do “Part II (On the Run)” from Magna Carta? Because it’s technically a Jay Z song and not enough about Bey? That song is pure fire. I wanted so badly for them to perform it. And no special surprise guests. She couldn’t get someone to show up for one song? We know a lot of the people with whom she’s collaborated in the past are underemployed or at least have a little more time on their hands than she does: Sean Paul, Kelly, Missy, Big Boi, Andre, but I suppose getting Shakira or Gaga or JT on stage for one song would’ve been asking a lot.

She did the usuals: “Girls” to start, “Halo,” “Love on Top,” “Irreplaceable,” “Countdown,” and “End of Time.” There were lots of outfit changes and a little too much of the dramatic video visuals. The interludes were to distract us while she changed clothes, I guess. But going on at 10:30pm and knowing that the show had to be over before midnight, that gave her, at least I’d imagined, an hour and a half performance time. Not bad. That’s enough time to bang out at least a dozen songs or maybe up to 15 if she did a medley or two. But the show came to an abrupt end at 11:45.

There are whispers that her performance was, essentially, a reworked version of the performances she’s been turning in throughout the Mrs. Carter Show tour. To be sure, it was touching and beautiful when she belted out the first few bars of the Whitney Houston version of “I Will Always Love You.” That was unexpected. But there were really only two dancers with her on stage most of the night. Would’ve been fun if, like her Revel show, she had the whole troupe and maybe some more dance breakdowns and freestyling.

I don’t understand why Nine Inch Nails takes the Rocky Stage tonight at 9:30. Why do they get an extra hour—because it’s Sunday night?

My friend Andrew (@RedDlicious) and I had a Twitter exchange that nicely and succinctly captures how to feel about the Beyonce performance. He wrote: “It was mostly a rehash of past performances without any artistic liberty with the material. Incredible, but uninspired.” I left a little despondent but still wiped out because I danced my ass off for every song. I actually lost my balance a couple times, and a guy behind me had to give me a little push to not bump into his girls. (Sorry about that, dude.) Funny thing is, I didn’t take a single picture. Well, I took three garbage pictures. But I actually let myself be in that moment for 75 minutes, and that was pretty liberating. You should try it.



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