The Week In Music: A Deadly Vintage
Deadheads and winos unite. Fans of one of the psychedelic era's most beloved bands, the Grateful Dead, and liquid grape lovers alike can now own their very own bottle of Steal Your Face Red Blend, a bottled combination of Mendocino County's finest fruit and the Grateful Dead's 1976 hit album Steal Your Face! The Dead are the latest addition to a rocking list of artists whose music has inspired winemakers at Wines That Rock to create boozy blends such as Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon Cabernet Sauvignon and Woodstock Chardonnay. Winemaker Mark Beaman notes the process of creating the Dead blend began by listening to the vibes and intricacies of the band's 1974 stint at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom. "To capture the essence of the live energy for Grateful Dead's Steal Your Face!, we chose to meld several varietals into one," said Beaman. "Just as the band members would segue through various musical styles, this wine's far-reaching flavors melt seamlessly from one to the next." You can purchase your own bottle of Steal Your Face Red Blend at more than 1,500 retail locations, and at www.winesthatrock.com. But, as always, please remember to drink (and rock) responsibly.
Nirvana's Nevermind turned 20 years old last month and, as expected, tributes were plentiful, including 144 consecutive performances of the hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by a troop of indie bands. But fans, and even muppets, are continuing to show their love for the rebellious anthem. Jim Henson's Muppets will reportedly put a colorful, albeit happier spin on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as the Muppets Barbershop Quartet for a recording on the soundtrack to their new film The Muppets. The film will reportedly star former Nirvana drummer and head Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, Jack Black and Lady Gaga, among others. The Muppets will also perform their rendition of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You," which leads us to question if there's trouble in paradise for Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. But which Muppet will do Kurt Cobain's angsty vocals justice? Our bet is on Animal, the ultimate rock and roll survivor.
To put a new spin on a James Brown classic, it's an app app app world. Case in point, Björk is going where no artist has gone before in releasing her new album, Biophilia, as the first-ever "app" album. While Biophilia is available in a traditional download format, the app album is a concoction of games, visualizations and musical scores that make each song its own audiovisual carnival ride — all viewable on Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Each song app costs $2 or the entire app album is available for $10. "I'm trying to unite the electronic and the acoustic and join nature and technology," said Björk. "I want to unravel the mystery of music and explain it to people outside the traditional music-school definitions." While you ponder this mystery, you can view a full preview of the app album here. In related tech news, don't look for Alan Parsons to produce an app album anytime soon. The venerable producer/engineer offered his thoughts on the ever-expanding realm of studio technology, including recording music on iPads. "Why would anyone take recording on an iPad seriously?" said Parsons in an interview with Wired.com. "I think music lessons are fine on computers, iPads included. But an iPad replacing a band of great musicians in a real studio playing and interacting with their chosen real instruments together? Come on." Technology and devices aside, Parsons did express optimism in music's human element. "At the end of the day, talent will shine through whether it's an iPhone app or a double bassoon."
With shades of Elvis Presley's G.I Blues, Korean K-Pop star Rain (real name Jung Jihoon) entered the South Korean military service on Oct. 11. Apparently Rain's departure for the army caused its own rain, bringing thousands of his fans to tears. Rain departed with a simple "Thank you for loving me so much," and a Schwarzeneggerarian "I'll be back." Not since Elvis entered the U.S. armed services in the late '50s has a pop star's conscription drawn so much media attention. Rain's album, It's Raining, has sold more than 1 million copies in Asia, and he's on the verge of a budding Hollywood career, making an initial appearance in Speed Racer and playing the lead role for his second film, Ninja Assassin, for which he earned the Biggest Badass Star award at the MTV Movie Awards in 2010. Sad as his absence might be for fans, we're sure any army could always use another badass.
By now you know that Rihanna is the only girl in the world — but did you know she's also the sexiest woman alive? According to Esquire, the GRAMMY-winning pop songstress might be too sexy for her heels as the magazine has dubbed her 2011's Sexiest Woman Alive. To commemorate her achievement, Esquire has revealed an especially revealing photo shoot with the singer, as well as a video of a naked Rihanna showering in what appears to be coffee grounds or coal shavings, set to the background of her new single "We Found Love." So who were the runners-up on Esquire's sexy list? In the music category, GRAMMY winners Beyoncé and Esperanza Spalding.
If you're looking to escape the hard-knock life, college is always an option. And for music fans, the appeal of higher education may be even more enticing as Georgetown University is now offering a course dedicated to hip-hop mogul Jay-Z. Titled Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z, the course will be taught by professor Michael Eric Dyson and cover Jay-Z's memoir Decoded, Adam Bradley's Book Of Rhymes and Zac O'Malley Greenburg's Empire State Of Mind, as well as other articles and films relating to the genre. "We look at his incredible body of work, we look at his own understanding of his work, we look at others who reflect upon him, and then we ask the students to engage in critical analysis of Jay-Z himself," said Dyson. We're guessing the final exam will involve a critical analysis of (and potential solutions to) Jay-Z's 99 problems.
Adele's "Someone Like You" is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and iTunes singles charts.
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