The Twelfth of Never starring . . . the Obamas!

Hey thereObama!

Let’s start off with a question:–

Q.  When did or when would *both* the President *and* the First Lady smash their way into *Music Biz* news?

A.  On “The Twelfth of Never” (That’s an awesome song, kids; try the Johnny Mathis version.)

Well, it’s the Twelfth of Never today, and in the starring roles are a fellow with the handle ‘Barack Obama’ and a woman who goes by the name of ‘Michelle Obama’.  Two singers are merely the supporting cast: Beyonce Knowles and Kanye West.

The President suddenly seems to have strong competition for the affections of his lady love, for it doth appear that one Beyonce Knowles is trying to steal her away.  Beyonce very publicly wrote “Love Letters straight from the heart” (that’s another song to check out) to Michelle, posting it on Tumblr.  Beyonce called the First Lady some things her husband must have whispered when they were courting: “loving,” “caring,” “humble,” “truly strong,” “role model,” etc., etc., etc.  After hearing all that, Michelle is probably whining to Barack, “You Don’t Bring me Flowers Any More.” (Song alert!)  Beyonce! Now don’t go being a homebreaker, okay?

In stark contrast to the love-fest between the females, it appears a case of no-love-lost between the men.

President Obama was distinctly unamused with Kanye West’s shenanigans (indeed, he was quite obnoxious) in disrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at MTV’s VMA in September 2009 (and there was a Beyonce connection there, coincidentally).  Barack was so unamused that he had opined that West was “a jackass.”  Bulls-eye; yours truly agrees.

Now, Yahoo News has put out an item about a just-published interview in Atlantic magazine in which Barack was pressed by the interviewer to provide a more well-rounded description of West.  Putting it all together, here’s the Prez’s revised opinion: Kanye West is a “smart, talented jackass.”  Barack, you got only one out of three on that one.

Over to Master ‘Jackass’ West . . . .

TGIF

Shane

Smackdown at the Billboard!

Nicki MinajHallo!

It’s smackdown time!  Same day last week I wrote: “If we . . . have any sense or taste, ‘Tuskegee’ will bump Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’ from its top spot next week!”  Well, I was half right!  It wasn’t ‘Tuskegee’ by Nicki Minaj’s ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ that booted Mad-onna’s album from top spot – and how: ‘MDNA’ has been booted all the way down to no. 8!

‘Tuskegee’, as a matter of fact, has dropped to no. 4 with ’21′, after over a year in the charts, ascending one place to take its no. 2 spot.

I had blogged earlier about Nicki’s frenetic activity paying off by keeping her in the news and enhancing her popularity.  A single from her no. 1 album, ‘Starships’, is still on the Singles Top Ten at no. 6 to go with her no. 1 album.  The girl’s really done it!  (Though the album just may end up being a one-week wonder.)

What with all the hype swirling around Mad-onna and the media slavering over Nicki, Rascal Flatts’ new album ‘Changed’ has flown under the radar to debut at no. 3.

Something else I had written is borne out by ‘MDNA’s steep drop.  Last week I had explained ‘MDNA’s debut at no. 1 thusly: “It’s quite incredible what publicity and the media can do.”  Well, it all seems to be catching up: Billboard reports that ‘MDNA”s dizzying drop, saleswise, is the *biggest one week decline of all time.*  First week sales of 359,000, driving by “publicity and the media” shrunk to 48,000 in the second week for an 86.7 percent drop-off – a new record.  (Mad-onna and her people – of course – are not going to take it lying down and their publicity machine will probably swing into action to try to push their product.)

On to the Hot 100 (Singles) Chart.  I gotta say that it has become an amazingly static chart – correct me if I’m wrong but *seven* of the Top Ten have either held their position or changed by a single rung.

One noteworthy point is that with ‘Roman Reloaded’ in the albums Top Ten, Nicki Minaj has joined One Direction as the only performers in the Top Ten on both charts.  (One Direction’s ‘Up All Night’ has risen one spot to no. 5 and their single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ has jumped from no. 9 to 4.)

fun’s and Gotye’s singles are still parked in their usual places, give or take a rung.  My sources tell me that they and Billboard have signed a secret long-term lease.

Justin Bieber’s fan-atics will be distraught to see their ‘Boyfriend’ slide from no. 2 to no. 5 in only the second week of release.  Well, Beliebers, how about another Twitter campaign? (translation: onslaught!)

Cheerio,

Shane

News Encores: Illnesses, Festivals, Memoirs

Robin GibbHello out there,

Several days back I had made mention of Bee Gee Robin Gibb’s hospitalization for cancer.  Well, he’s again in hospital, this time with pneumonia.  Sadly, this means he was not present when his maiden classical composition, ‘The Titanic Requiem’, was performed in London yesterday.

The Requiem is a radical departure for one of the pioneers of the strobe-lighted Disco Era, brought to a climax with Saturday Night Fever (featuring some music written and sung by Robin Gibb and his brothers).  Gibb and his son Robin-John composed the classical work as a hundredth anniversary memorial to the Titanic’s disastrous voyage.  Robin-John revealed that “a lot of this requiem was written in the hospital bedrooms with my father because, of course, he was diagnosed when we were in the middle of composing.”

Once again, Lyrster wishes Robin Gibb a speedy recovery.

Also several days back I had blogged about the SXSW music festival in Texas.  Now, the news is about the Lollapalooza festival. Though we have four months to go before the Lollapalooza paloozes Chicago, it makes the news for two reasons.  First, it has snared The Red Hot Chili Peppers as one of its banner names, to go along with Black Sabbath plus indy bands from as far away as Malaysia and Chile.  Second, all early bird tickets and discounted souvenir passes have already been snapped up!  Only regular-price tickets remain.  Better get ’em before they too are gone!

Only yesterday I had written about Cyndi Lauper’s forthcoming memoir.  In today’s news the memoir-writer is renowned jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.  Though his book is not due until 2014, Hancock’s status as a fusion jazz crossover hitmaker who is now a UNESCO ambassador ensures that the mere announcement of his memoir is news.  The publisher, Viking Press, announced that it “will reveal intimate details.”  Somehow I don’t think it will be quite so ‘revealing’ and quite as ‘intimate’ as Cyndi’s memoir!

BTW, Hancock’s famous tune ‘Watermelon Man’ was made into a hit by Mongo Santamaria, whose version is the most famous.  But perhaps the finest band rendition is by Xavier Cugat!  An exciting, thrilling version, replete with sexy screams and moans, it’s on a 1960s Mercury-Wing LP.  Not to be missed.

Ta ta,

Shane

Justin Bieber: The Twitter-Master!

Justin BieberHi All!

Whaddya know – we have a grandad-grandkid theme again today!

Beauty before age, so grandkids go first.

A while back I had blogged about Nickelodeon’s KCAs. British teen band One Direction had performed at the awards and, it appears, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift had grooved to their music.  Excited by the dancing dolls and falling for MTVs set-up questions, a few band-members are now dreaming about more attention from the dolls; any of them.  And that would make her an – ‘older woman’!  I’m tempted to say, “Keep dreaming, boys,” but it would take only one madcap female to prove me wrong!  So— silence is golden.

Grandkid Justin Bieber is a Twitter-Master.  He has been tweeting and teasing his fans about his upcoming music-video for ‘Boyfriend’ (lead single from the to-be-released album ‘Believe’).  The boy’s also been tweeting fluff and factoids about both the video and the album, driving up his fans’ suspense levels to crazy heights.  Now let’s hope the music-video is not a let-down.

The ‘One Direction of 1970 were The Rolling Stones (albeit rather less wholesome) and now these grandads are in the news, courtesy of guitarist Ronnie Wood.  Wood is busy with his own painting and solo career but he spilt some beans on the Stones.  He said that the band’s Golden Anniversary is coming up this year and so they’re going into a studio “to throw some idea around,” “to go into training.”  Are the grandads making a new album?  Sure sounds like it!

Cyndi Lauper cannot be classed with The Rolling Stones being of relatively more recent vintage; the 80s.  Though she ain’t no grandma, she *is* one hot mama!  Cyndi Lauper, of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun Fame’ is someone Mad-onna has aped, if only a little.  Come Autumn, a Simon & Schuster imprint will be publishing a memoir from Lauper.  I wonder how she’ll dish the dirt on.  Mad-onna, better mend your fences with Cyndi now . . . .

Cheers,

Shane

The California Courts’ ‘Britney Standard’

Britney SpearsUngh!  (Neanderthal grunt),

When I wrote my first post for Lyrster a mere two months back, I implored the likes of Britney, Rihanna and Gaga not to let me down and to do something bonkers; to give me something wild and woolly to write about.  Rihanna and Gaga did not disappoint but Britney was a Poopin’ Pollyanna.  A 50′s song, ‘Cindy, oh Cindy’ comes to mind, slightly modified:–

 

Britney, oh Britney,

Britney don’t let me down;

Do something whacko soon,

But don’t be meltin’ down!

 

Well, the girl’s in the news.  Today’s breaking news is about religious fundamentalism coming to America (with an assist from Rick Santorum), courtesy of Britney – and the poor girl hasn’t even done anything!  These wimminfolk can’t be trusted to mind themselves and must be under control and dominion of daddy or husband, eh? . . . preferably *both*!  So the girl’s father and fiance have decided to ask the California courts (psst! it’s said that it’s a done deal) that Britney be placed under their joint custody and stewardship.

Hmm . . . perhaps that’s not such a bad idea after all.  Don’t you think that placing Gaga, Rihanna and other out-of-control females under male control would be a good idea?  That it would have salutary effects on society as a whole?  Perhaps Britney’s papa, lover-boy, and the California courts are on the right track after all!

Let’s compare and contrast with two other newsworthy music-biz females.  Just *look* at what that shameless wench Nicki Minaj was wearing at her weekend Times Square show – legs all exposed like that – tsk, tsk.  If she were under control of a thou-shalt-obey type of husband, you don’t think she’d be getting away with that kind of (over-)exposure, do you?  And as for Fiona Apple; that bad girl’s just announced that she’ll be travelling across the length and breadth of America, from New York to Hollywood, for a month-and-a-half – all by herself!  No papa!  No chaperone!  Can we allow this to happen or will the California Courts’ ‘Britney Standard’ be upheld?

Come on California Courts, do your thing!  Put these wild women under control of their menfolk!

Fundamentalistically Yours,

Shane

Freaky-News Friday!

George MichaelHallo out there,

It’s such a no-news day in the world of music that it’s freaky.

So freakily ‘no news’ that the lead story in music world seems to be about a total nobody (at least in showbiz).  I may get to it right at the end of this post . . .

A few days back, I blogged about musicians’ lawsuits against big, bad record companies, and mentioned one of the protagonists in that saga,  who wanted to win his ‘Freedom’ from Sony.  Well, guess what?  He is now taking on pneumonia in a new song he is composing.  Michael was hospitalized in Vienna ‘Last Christmas’ and his condition was so serious, Reuters reports that he said it was ‘touch and go.’  Reuters, just being a newswire, have probably misquoted George Michael, he surely would have said that it was ‘Touch me before you go-go’.

Now have you ever heard today’s singers invoke God in their songs?  Sure; often.  They do so in a “Taking the Lord’s name in vain” type of manner.  So what happens if you say ‘God’ in song seriously, respectfully?  You get banned from saying the word!  An elementary school’s administrators changed a line “God Bless the USA” to “We love the USA” in a song.  The original line was restored after parents objected and demanded a reversion.  Thank goodness for the right-minded parents, else the word ‘God’ would have been jettisoned from a song it is properly used in.  Does anyone else see the oddest of double standards here?

Some light stuff to close out with.  A few weeks back I blogged about the Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, this year.  Now, next door Uzbekistan is on the music map too: Strongman Islam Karimov’s daughter Gulnara Karimova is releasing a new album.  She’s not exactly a newbie to music, apparently she once duetted with none other European superstar Julio Iglesias.  One track is already out there for those who want to listen to a possible future ‘Strongwoman’ crooning a love-song.

—No, I’m not gonna write anything about that total nobody, a so-called ‘reality TV star’ Kim Ka-sumthing and that rapper chap – the latest in her revolving door of S.O.s . . . because if I did, then I’d have to title this post ‘Freak-Show Friday!’

TGIF,

Shane

Is it Thursday? No, it’s BillboardDay!

MadonnaHi out there,

It’s Thursday so it’s Billboard Charts day.

As expected, ‘The Hunger Games’ OST at no. 1 was a ‘bounce’, it’s down to no. 5.  Still, that’s great for an OST.

So what ‘bounced’ it?  Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’ which has debuted at no. 1!  It’s quite incredible what publicity and the media can do.  I wonder how many of that album’s buyers were concerned about the quality of the music, rather than the palpable hype and hoopla swirling around the album’s singer (in this case I use the word ‘singer’ loosely – very loosely).

Lionel Richie’s ‘Tuskegee’ has debuted at no. 2, finally bumping Adele’s ’21′ from that position.  If we Americans (including naturalized ones such as yours truly) have any sense or taste, ‘Tuskegee’ will bump ‘MDNA’ from its top spot next week!

British kiddie ambassador sensation One Direction (‘Up All Night’) is still in the Top Ten after three weeks, now down to no. 6.  And American elder statesman sensation, Bruce Springsteen is also still in the Top Ten after four weeks, dropping to no. 9.

But the news of the day on the charts is surely an ooold album’s comeback the Top Ten.  Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ has spent well over a year somewhere or another on Billboard’s Top 200, including pole position.  Last week it was at no. 31 and now it’s rocketed to no. 7 – back in the Top Ten!  No doubt this is the result of the publicity surrounding her upcoming 3D concert-documentary movie (in theatres on Independence Day), specially the trailer that was released only two days back.

On the singles side, The Hot 100′s peak position was held on to despite the likelihood of a debut single bumping it.  Justin Bieber’s new single ‘Boyfriend’ has entered the charts at no. 2, unable to dislodge fun’s ‘We are Young’ from the top spot.  ‘Young’ is at no. 1 for a fourth week running.  This single is in the Top Five on no less than half-a-dozen charts fifteen weeks after release!  That’s staying power for you.

Take it easy,

Shane

Lawsuit! Musician versus recording company

LawsuitHello Music-Lovers,

Our news is a little more serious than usual and truly important to music-lovers, besides – obviously – to musicians themselves.  Three musicians have filed lawsuits against recording companies within the past several days.

Those of you who are old enough will remember the famous lawsuit brought by George Michael against Sony Music.  Brought in England, the lawsuit sought to free Michael from his lengthy contract with Sony.  Michael failed in his bid because, purportedly, recording labels invest heavily in and nurture new talent for several years before the talent pays off for them, thus requiring long contracts.  But George Michael, as one part of the duo Wham!, was already a successful and near-established artiste with a contract with CBS, at the time he signed the contract with Sony after their acquisition of CBS!  Wasn’t the reasoning a joke?

In similar fashion Prince had also sued Warners.  But much before then, as those of you who are older still will remember, there was another famous lawsuite brought by classy, jazz-inflected popular singer Peggy Lee’s against Walt Disney Pictures.  The lawsuit sought to establish and gain her rights and royalties for her musical work for the animated film ‘Lady and the Tramp’ which the Disney company had been denying her.  The American court got it right: Lee won a decisive victory!

After losing his lawsuit, Michael had said: “Effectively, you sign a piece of paper at the beginning of your career and you are expected to live with that decision, good or bad, for the rest of your professional life.”  Countless jazz musicians have had even worse things to say about recording companies and labels.  Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk spoke quite plainly about the daylight robberies they had experienced at the hands of recording labels.

Now, within the space of one week, we have no less than three lawsuits filed by irritated musicians against recording companies.

First to go on 27th March was a regional California band, ‘Tower of Power’; they filed a lawsuit against Warner Music Group – ‘WMG’.  They have alleged that WMG significantly underpaid them on royalties for digital downloads and ringtones.

Next up was ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. His suit against Sony Entertainment claims much the same as that of Tower of Power, but goes further.  Yankovic also alleges that Sony underpaid him on a variety of line-items ranging from publishing and mechanical royalties to physical product sales.

Later that same day, Martha Davis and The Motels filed a class action lawsuit against EMI.  They have alleged the same thing: significant underpayment on digital royalties.  Their lawsuit is a class action style which means that any similarly affected musicians can add themselves as plaintiffis.

Sony, Warners, EMI – they’re all ‘like that’, aren’t they?

Don’t you agree with me that we should support the artiste, the musician, in his/her just cause as opposed to the no-talent corporate fat cats in the recording industry who do nothing of note and pay themselves millions – the revenue generated by the talented artistes they strive to, in George Michael’s words, “enslave”?  If these no-talent paper-pushers pay themselves less, then, guess what?  Artistes will be paid what they deserve and, moreover, music will be much more affordable for us music-lovers!

Don’t just sue the recording companies and labels – I say, sue those goddamn greedy fat cats themselves!

Music-Lovers United,

Shane

Justin, Nicki, Whitney — Wow, What a Medley!

Rihanna Ashton Kutcher DatingHi Everyone,

Our Monday Medley had to take a back seat because of the weekend’s Country Music Awards and Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards so let’s do our bits-and-pieces medley today.

You must have heard about Rihanna’s latest gossip-of-the-moment: her, er, developing ‘friendship’ with Demi Moore’s ex, Ashton Kutcher.  Well, Rihanna’s ex, Chris Brown has gone one better, and done it musically.  Brown has really come back from the wilderness as his single ‘Turn up the Music’ has debuted on the U.K. singles chart at no. 1!  The pressure’s all on Ashton now to match that.  Come on Ash, impress your new girl!

Two singers are so hot these days that they just can’t seem to keep out of the news.  They’re Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber.  Nicki because she’s an MTV favourite and Justin because he’s a fan favourite!  And how: the lead single, ‘Boyfriend’, from his upcoming album ‘Believe’, has notched over half-a-million downloads in its first week.  (You’re one of those half-million, aren’t you?!)  This stat puts it in second place for most downloads of a single in its first week of release.

Nicki is just so up and about that she keeps making the news.  Today is the official launch of her new album ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’.  Her video for ‘Beez in the Trap’ is also geared for release today, so Nicki’s trying to go two for two.  What’s more, it comes in two versions: one clean-cut, the other one X-rated.  Which one do you want to see, kids?

Last week I expressed my admiration of Les Paul when I blogged about the scheduled auction of his treasures (a few of which changed the course of recorded music).  This weekend some of Whitney Houston’s effects went under the hammer, courtesy of the same auctioneer who will do the Les Paul auction: Julien’s Auctions.  Those of Whitney’s fans who are wealthy enough snapped up Houston’s gowns and dresses.  However, it was two or three items from her role in ‘The Bodyguard’ that were sold for eyecatching figures, none more so than two pair of earrings (i.e. four total) which went for nearly $10,000!  That demonstrates real star power.

Cheerio,

Shane

Forget ‘Taylor Swift’ — Queen Taylor Rules!

ACMHey Y’All we’re talkin’ about the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards today!

The ACM Awards were held on Sunday in Las Vegas. In what was a night of upsets, country music star Kenny Chesney who was a multiple-nominee failed to win a single award while a few underdogs had their day, no one more than Miranda Lambert who scooped up two biggies: ‘Top Female Vocalist’ and ‘Album of the Year’.  Is Lambert on the way to becoming a household name?

Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson also picked up two awards, though that was certainly not unexpected.  Interestingly, both Aldean and Clarkson’s two awards were shared and were for the same recording!  Their duet “Don’t you Wanna Stay” won ‘Single of the Year’ and ‘Vocal Event of the Year’.  Perhaps Kelly ‘Stronger’ Clarkson’s next single will be ‘From Strength to Strength’!

The night, however, surely belonged to Queen Taylor, the ‘anti-Rihanna’, free of controversy, scandal, and smut.  She won her second ‘Entertainer of the Year’ award in a row, no doubt helped by her clean, wholesome image.  Here’s an interesting coincidence: the only other woman to win two Entertainer of the Year awards is Carrie Underwood – and she performed at the awards, singing, of all songs, ‘Good Girl’.  Hmm, isn’t Queen Taylor a ‘good girl’ of a kind, more accurately a ‘nice girl’?!

Nice Girl Queen Taylor told her subjects, “I respect you so much and I love you.”  Typical ‘Taylorese’!

Taylor was also feted the previous night at Nickelodeon’s annual Kids Choice Awards (KCA).  If anything, the event had more heavyweight starpower than the ACM Awards – would you believe Will Smith (emcee), supermodel Heidi Klum, Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Halle Berry, and First Lady Michelle Obama?  Crazy!

The kids’ choice, royally slimed with green goo at the climax, was Bieber (surprise, surprise!).  However, for her good works, Queen Taylor took the award – the KCA blimp – for ‘The Big Help’.

What a weekend for Taylor Swift.  Queen Taylor Rules!

See ya!

Shane