Angelina Jolie’s Flawlessly Canny Control of Her Own Image

In today’s New York Times, Angelina Jolie has published an op-ed titled “A New Level of Refugee Suffering.” In it, the actress, director, and humanitarian reports on her experience listening to Syrian and Iraqi war refugees’ stories of suffering. “How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?” Jolie asks. … Read More

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The Internet Knows Far Less Than It Thinks About the Beyoncé-Solange-Jay Z Fight

As the poet Fabolous once wrote, “You dunno bout it.” Such is the case with this week’s Bey/Jay/Solange drama, which essentially boils down to the Internet doing this: … Read More

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‘Listen to the Squawking Chicken': A Surprising Mother-Daughter Memoir From the Woman Behind Lainey Gossip

In America, Elaine Lui, the author of the new memoir Listen to the Squawking Chicken, is probably best known as “Lainey,” the proprietress and voice behind the addictive gossip website Lainey Gossip. What makes Lainey Gossip stand out from the various trashy-feeling gossip sites out there is accuracy and tone: she is often the first to break stories about breakups that will make you a little sad (learned about Will Arnett and Amy Poehler from her, questioned my faith in love for several days), and she approaches gossip with an anthropologist’s eye. Just look at this recent post on Reese Witherspoon, where she summarizes how scandal didn’t stick to the actress when she drunkenly yelled “Do you know who I am?” at a cop last year, and how scandal hasn’t, yet, stuck to James Franco — because sexism — and how Reese will probably be coming for Gwyneth’s tarnished GOOP crown. … Read More

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30 Essential LGBT Albums

A couple of weeks back, we celebrated Pride Month with a pretty epic selection of essential LGBT films. The post was so popular with our readers that we thought we’d follow up with a similar selection of LGBT albums. As with our film selection, this encompasses records featuring LGBT artists and/or characters and themes. (And no, of course it doesn’t include Michelle… Read More

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Listen to Beth Ditto’s Exclusive MAC Mixtape

Last week saw the debut of a match made in glamorous indie-rock heaven: Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto’s all-new limited-edition collection for MAC Cosmetics. Featuring striking colors and shades with names like “Beth or Glory,” “Booyah!” and “Vagabondage,” the line has everything you need to bring out your own inner rock star.

To celebrate its official debut, we asked Ditto to curate a mixtape that embodies the vibe of the collaboration, and what she came back with is a stirring mix of dance-floor hits and old-school jams, running from Mama Cass to Missy Elliot and from the Rolling Stones to the Fresh Prince. Check out the full track list after the jump, and then click through to rock out while you get your glam on. … Read More

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5 Albums to Stream for Free This Week: Gossip, Cornershop

Welcome to another edition of our regular Monday stream-a-thon, wherein we hunt down the best and/or most notable records streaming for free over the Internet. This week, there’s the arrival of the new Abba-inspired Gossip album (but wait, it’s better than that description might suggest). There’s also a new record from Flavorpill faves Cornershop, a surprisingly deep and interesting new album from Simian Mobile Disco, reflective melancholia from Mount Eerie and Cold Specks, and a proper stream for the Garbage album. Click through and listen to your heart’s content! … Read More

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The Perfect Bands to Suit Your Every Obscure Mood

Most pop songs are about love — falling in it, basking in its glow, getting sick of it, mourning its death, searching anew for it. Considering how much of our emotional energy is devoted to those things, this makes some sense. But what about feelings that have nothing to do with romance? How can those of us who prefer to treat our psychological excesses with music — rather than, say, talk therapy or medication — revel in nostalgia or beat an acute case of anxiety? We’ve made our prescriptions after the jump; be sure to take two, call us in the morning, and tell us what mood-music pairings you’d add in the comments. … Read More

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Hear a Softer Side of Gossip on New Single "Perfect World"

It’s been nearly three years since we’ve heard new music from Gossip. In the time since their Rick Rubin-produced 2009 major-label debut, Music for Men, Beth Ditto’s continued her ascent from underground sensation to mainstream celebrity, modeling for Jean Paul Gaultier and releasing a self-titled solo EP last spring. But now, the boundary-pushing band is back with “Perfect World,” the debut single off a forthcoming album of the same name, which is slated for May release.

So, what does the new song tell us about the record? Although it’s got a catchy, dance floor-ready beat, Ditto’s generally electrifying voice seems disappointingly tame and edge-less — Gossip have always been good for contagious pop hooks, but they used to back them up with punk and gospel flourishes that set their sound apart. In collaborating with British bubblegum producers Xenomania, have they lost what once made them so exciting? Listen to “Perefct World” after the jump and let us know what you think. … Read More

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10 Bands That Made Their Best Music After They “Sold Out”

Former LA Times pop critic Ann Powers came storming out of the gate yesterday with the first post for her new gig at NPR Music. Titled “It’s the Summer of Selling Out, and It Feels Fine,” her piece uses last weekend’s Coachella festival and the current crop of American Idol frontrunners to argue that 2011 is shaping up to be a good year “for all kinds of fans who like their music to feel free while it still aims for the center of the culture’s attention.” Part of Powers’s point is that “selling out” and making great music don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Although we have immense respect for the underground, we think Powers makes an important point. The tale of a talented but naïve band signing their lives away to a major label and then collapsing under the pressure to sell product is a common narrative, but it’s also far from the only outcome. After the jump, we list ten bands that ditched the indies for the majors, licensed their music to commercials, and went pop — and were better off for it, artistically. … Read More

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10 New Queer Anthems That Are Better Than “Born This Way”

Now that we’ve had a while to process Lady Gaga’s new single, “Born This Way,” we have to admit we don’t love it. Because hey, we liked “Express Yourself” 20 years ago when Madonna did it. It won’t stop us from adoring Gaga and supporting the song’s message. But when Elton John starts calling it “the new gay anthem,” worthy of replacing the immortal “I Will Survive,” we’ve got to put our foot down. For one thing, there are plenty of much better new, queer anthems out there. Our list of ten strong candidates, all of which have come out in the 21st century, are after the jump. … Read More

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