James Brown

How ‘Love & Mercy’ Tells Brian Wilson’s Story and Breaks the Music Biopic Mold

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Tomorrow, director Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy hits theaters — though it seems a bit reductive to classify it as yet another music legend biopic, as the film takes such great pains to eschew the conventions of those movies and tell Wilson’s story in a unique, unexpected way. I was so taken with the film after seeing it at SXSW that I asked Flavorwire’s music editor/fellow biopic exhaustion victim Jillian Mapes to accompany me for a second viewing, and to share her thoughts on where Love & Mercy falls amid the quietly exciting reinvention of movies about the people who make music.
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A Completely Subjective List of the Best Vocal Ad-Libs in Music

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One of the great joys of music is its sense of immediacy — sure, there are songs that are painstakingly planned and produced, and benefit from being so, but there are also tracks that sound like they really were recorded live, and are all the more thrilling for it. In this respect, there’s something particularly pleasing about the off-the-cuff line, something the singer has apparently hollered into the mic on the spur of the moment. These lines don’t always make sense, and they don’t necessarily have to — either way, they add color and a sense of spontaneity to a song (and they’re damn near impossible not to sing along with). Here is an entirely subjective list of ten of the best; of course, there are gazillions more, so let us know if you have any to add.
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Music’s 40 Greatest Style Icons, Ranked

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Imagine if The Beatles never wore those collarless suits, or if Madonna never wore a tattered wedding dress on MTV. What if David Bowie had never thought to transform into Ziggy Stardust, or Cher had never worn that glittery body stocking under a leather jacket on the Navy ship? No meat dress for Gaga, no ruffled shirt for Prince, no cape for James Brown, no trash bag jumpsuit for Missy Elliott. Fashion changes our perception of artists, particularly those who routinely get up in front of thousands to perform. If musicians so choose, style choices can reflect and support their artistic choices. Many of the 40 icons of personal style on this ranked list have used clothes in a conscious, specific …Read More

The 45 Greatest Concert Movies of All Time

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Forty-five years ago today, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair got underway at Yasgur’s Farm in upstate New York, kicking off a weekend of music and memories for 400,000 attendees and four-and-a-half decades of wistful Boomer nostalgia. (More on that next week.) It also resulted in 1970’s Woodstock, one of the most influential and perhaps the greatest of all concert movies — so in honor of the festival’s 45th anniversary, we rounded up the 45 best examples of the …Read More

James Brown Biopic ‘Get On Up’ Struggles to Balance Hero Worship With Real Talk

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Like many cultural boundary-pushers, James Brown demanded a lot of people. He was complicated, full of flaws and vices as bold as his talents. Get On Up, the new Brown biopic, does not shy away from his uglier side — the drug-crazed 1988 car chase, the philandering and domestic abuse, the dictatorial band leader, the exact moment when cocky turns to cruel — but the film does explain these shortcomings with the ultimate cop-out: The Hardest Working Man In Show Business didn’t know how to need other people.
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25 Summer 2014 Movies You Need to See

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Though we’ve barely put away our parkas here in NYC, summer movie season is apparently underway, since there’s now a new Spider-Man movie playing on basically every vertical surface in the country. It could be argued that “summer movie season” began a month ago, when Captain America: The Winter Solder came out, because Hollywood is stuck in a PERPETUAL COMIC BOOK TENTPOLE BLOCKBUSTER SUMMER, but I digress. Let’s not fight it; here’s our look at 25 of this summer’s most promising releases, big and small. Plan your vacations …Read More