Adele

The New Sad Boys of Pop

“It’s alright to cry, even my dad does it sometimes,” Ed Sheeran urges towards the end of X, an album that’s so shrouded in Nice Guy Syndrome that Sheeran deserves his own tackily named subgenre. In the larger context of mainstream music trends, the acoustic strummer falls under the heading of Sad-Boy Pop. He may be alone emotionally, but Sheeran and a few similar chart-topping artists — like Sam Smith and Bleachers — are together in redefining what it means to be a solo male star in pop circa 2014. Sonically, they couldn’t be more different, but they’re united by their embrace of the melancholy amidst a genre marked by its blissful frivolity. Even Robin Thicke is sad these days, going from “I know you want it” to “I’ll wait for forever for you to love me again.” … Read More

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What YouTube’s Indie Label Ban Actually Means for Music Fans

YouTube is sparring with a handful of independent record labels over licensing deals regarding the Google-owned video site’s forthcoming subscription service, the side effect of which will see a handful of indie artists’ music removed from YouTube imminently. Up until yesterday, when this news made the rounds in sensationalized form on tech blogs, there had been relatively little discussion of an issue that might have a dramatic effect on both labels and consumers. So what’s going on? … Read More

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Jack White Apologizes to Every Artist He’s Ever Mentioned, Blames “Tabloid Journalism”

Over the last couple weeks, Rolling Stone has teased out its cover story on Jack White shamelessly. Multiple news stories emerged on the RS site, touting “scandalous” quotes from White’s interview. Perhaps you saw the tidbit in which he bemoans Meg White’s hermit tendencies and lack of encouragement (“She’s one of those people who won’t high-five me when I get the touchdown”), or his claims that The Black Keys ripped him off, though his feelings on the latter are nothing new following ugly emails that leaked last year. Over the weekend White condemned what he feels is “tabloid journalism,” posting an apology letter on his website. In his explanation, White chides the non-apologies made by artists to cover their asses after they’ve swiftly stuck a foot in their mouth — while simultaneously apologizing to every artist whose name has passed through his own lips alongside his foot. … Read More

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25 of the Best Sophomore Albums Ever Made

You know how it goes: a band or a musician puts out a stellar first album, receives heaps of praise and success, and then goes back to the recording studio and turns out a second album. What a bummer, it’s not as good. But is this trend a real thing, or just a myth fueled by how disappointed we, as listeners and critics, can be when artists’ albums don’t live up to our expectations? What follows shows that plenty of great artists were able to avoid the sophomore slump — and, in some cases, turned out the best album of their careers.… Read More

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Musicians Past and Present on the Idea of “Selling Out”

There’s been quite a bit of discussion online about an interview Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy gave to the Chicago Grid earlier this week. Specifically, Tweedy discussed the fact that he licensed four of his songs to Volkswagen for a series of commercials, and the inevitable accusations of “selling out” that followed. Tweedy was unrepentant, arguing that “the idea of selling out is only understandable to people of privilege.” It’s always interesting to read what artists think about the whole idea of selling out, given that it’s something that fans seem the need to discuss ad infinitum. Here are some other perspectives from over the years. … Read More

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Oscar 2013: An Evening in Pictures

More than 30 minutes (and a good dozen Seth MacFarlane-induced cringes) past its scheduled end time, the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony finally drew to a close in the first few minutes of Monday morning. Since a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words — and we’re still too exhausted from last night’s festivities to pen a novella — here’s a selection of our favorite images of the night. Enjoy them — and the 12 or so hours we get until next year’s Oscar race… Read More

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These Incredible Pencil Portraits Will Blow Your Mind

Kelvin Okafor’s drawings are meticulous — so richly detailed that it’s almost impossible to believe that the image that you’re looking at was created by a graphite pencil and some charcoal, and not a camera’s lens. But these drawings were all done by hand, and he’s got the step-by-step process photos to prove it.

“I draw in sections,” he explains. “I’m right-handed so I work from left to right. After I’ve finished the left eye, I work the nostrils, then the left side of the cheek, then the lips. I always work in that order.” Such precision is time consuming, but worthwhile; it takes Okafor an average of 80 to 100 hours to complete each of his portraits. Click through to see a selection of his work (a mixture of celebrity pieces and intimate drawings of friends), and we think you’ll see why this 27-year-old British artist is currently taking the Internet by storm! … Read More

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The Best and Worst Bond Themes of All Time

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Skyfall, the newest installment in the venerable James Bond movie franchise (fifty years and counting): Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Javier Bardem as the new Bond villain, Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes bringing it all together with wit and grace. But our first indication that this one might be something special came a few weeks back, when we got a listen to Adele’s moody, smoky theme song for the film. It’s got a big, brassy sound that immediately recalls Shirley Bassey, who became the signature voice of the Bond movie theme songs (and while she only did three of them, that’s two more than anyone else), and digging up Bassey’s tunes sent us down a YouTube rabbit hole of Bond themes. As you might expect, over the course of fifty years there have been some timeless, immortal songs; there have been others that, to put it charitably, haven’t aged quite so well. After the jump, we’ve picked our five best, four worst, and one in between of the Bond themes thus far. Some controversies may erupt, so by all means, throw in your two cents in the comments. … Read More

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