Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com
The Week In Music: The Skinny On Fiddy
50 Cent would win Celebrity Fit Club
Here's the latest skinny on rapper 50 Cent. Literally. The normally well-muscled rapper — a former GRAMMY Best New Artist nominee and GRAMMY winner last year with Eminem and Dr. Dre in the Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group category — has shed about 50 pounds (or roughly a pound per Cent) to play a dying cancer patient in the film Things Fall Apart (gird yourself for the shocking skinny fiddy photos). Losing the weight is nothing new to the Get Rich Or Die Tryin' rapper. In 2000, after being shot in the jaw, he dropped to 157 pounds on a liquid diet. Fiddy modeled his weight loss after actors Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Christian Bale, and Renee Zellweger, all of whom have dropped bulk for movie roles.
It may be the Catholic Church's hottest chart run since Sister Janet Mead hit No. 4 in 1974 with "The Lord's Prayer." Billboard reports that three of the top-selling recording artists in Brazil for 2009 were priests. The best-selling album according to the Brazilian Association of Record Producers was Father Fábio de Melo's Illuminar. Joining him on the charts were releases from Father Marcelo Rossi and Father Reginaldo Manzotti. Credit the Hand of God, and also the marketing arm of de Melo's label, Som Livre, which helped launch big sales when it put the padre on sister TV network Globo TV. You can even follow all three padres on Twitter.
AC/DC literally found a "Highway To Hell" in Romania, of all places. The Aussie rockers' fleet was stopped at the border by employees of the Hungarian national roads company, and were not allowed to leave the country unless they paid a total of $72.65 per vehicle, or a grand total of $3,632.66. The staff argued the drivers had not paid the highway toll, while in a letter to the company, the band responded "they had not been given any receipt." A formal investigation is pending.
Even Paul McCartney still gets nervous. McCartney was honored with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress on Wednesday. At a presser in advance of the event, Macca said he would "try to have fun" but predicted nerves would set in when performing "like, three feet away" from fellow GRAMMY winner President Barack Obama. Asked about Obama, he declared, "I'm a big fan, he's a great guy." Ah, the power of GRAMMY brotherhood.
Hip-hop artist M.I.A., who performed nine-months pregnant on the 51st GRAMMY Awards in 2009, hasn't let motherhood mellow her. She has taken to her website to challenge a negative profile of her by The New York Times writer Lynn Hirschberg, even going so far as to write a song attacking the journalist. But the outspoken "Paper Planes" star didn't stop there. She also offered some music criticism to the UK's NME, calling teen singer Justin Bieber's videos "more violent and more of an assault to my eyes" than her controversial "Born Free" (in which redheaded boys are rounded up and shot) and that Lady Gaga is "not progressive, but she's a good mimic…none of her music's reflective of how weird she wants to be or thinks she is."
In an effort to stimulate what is rumored to be shaping up as a lukewarm summer for the concert business, Live Nation Entertainment announced a "no-service-fee June" promotion on Monday for its 50 U.S. amphitheatres covering 700 shows, including those by the Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Kings Of Leon, and Rihanna. In the spirit of just saying no to what have become annoying concert staples, we're wondering if concert venues will institute "no-yelling-'Free-Bird' July" for fans and "no-welcoming-the-crowd-with-'Hello-[fill-in-city-name]!' August" for acts.
Usher's "OMG," featuring will.i.am, once again took No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Katy Perry's "California Gurls," featuring Snoop Doog, is currently No. 1 on the iTunes singles chart.
Any news we've missed? Comment below.
Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images
Paul McCartney At Frank Erwin Center
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Lynne Margolis
Though Paul McCartney may be 70 in chronological years, we need a new unit of measurement to describe the McCartneys, Mick Jaggers, John Fogertys, and Bruce Springsteens of the world. We should call it rock and roll years, because rock is certainly what's keeping these GRAMMY winners (and women such as Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson) vital and exciting to watch well into their so-called "golden years."
On May 22 at Austin's Frank Erwin Center, McCartney reaffirmed this truth: Rock and roll keeps you young. In two hours and 45 minutes, he and his band delivered 36 hits and favorites from his Beatles, Wings and solo eras (38 if we count the Abbey Road medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End"; he also slipped in a bit of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."
With his usual good humor, McCartney told stories, dropped a few clever punch lines and even gave the occasional hip shake and soft-shoe shuffle — though he wore Cuban-heeled Beatle boots below his black jeans and cropped pink jacket. When he removed the jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, he joked, "That's the big wardrobe change of the evening."
But the sold-out audience of more than 12,000 didn't come to see fancy outfits and elaborate sets; they came to hear the biggest living icon in pop music history, and perhaps revisit fond moments of their own histories through the musical touchstones he created. The savvy McCartney, in his first-ever performance in Austin, didn't disappoint.
For the most part, he faithfully reproduced beloved versions of hits such as "Eight Days A Week," "Paperback Writer," "Lady Madonna," "Another Day," "Band On The Run," and "Live And Let Die," which brought one big special effects moment during the show — jets of fire and showers of sparks so intense the heat could be felt 15 rows back on the floor.
Nostalgic Beatles montages, artful geometrics and audience shots popped up on massive screens behind him as he switched between various guitars, his Hofner bass and two pianos. He performed several Beatles songs he'd never done live, including "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita," "Your Mother Should Know," and "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"
Only "My Valentine" was performed from his 2012 GRAMMY-winning album Kisses On The Bottom. But with a catalog that includes some of the most beautiful songs ever written, he knew what mattered: gems such as "And I Love Her," "Blackbird," "All My Loving," and "Maybe I'm Amazed," the latter written for his late wife, Linda. Flubbing the opening, McCartney joked, "It proves we're live!"
Perhaps the most touching moments were his homages to fellow Beatles — the ukulele-plucked "Something" (written by George Harrison) and a song he wrote for John Lennon, "Here Today." Noting he wished he had conveyed its sentiment to Lennon before it was too late, he added afterward, "The next time you want to say something to someone, just say it." He was answered by a shout of, "I love you, Paul!"
Even if he'd only performed the songs delivered in his second encore — a still-astonishingly beautiful "Yesterday," a rocking "Helter Skelter" and the timeless Abbey Road medley — he still would have earned that love.
To catch Paul McCartney in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Eight Days A Week"
"All My Loving"
"Listen To What The Man Said"
"Let Me Roll It"/"Foxy Lady" (Jimi Hendrix cover)
"Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five"
"The Long And Winding Road"
"Maybe I'm Amazed"
"I've Just Seen A Face"
"We Can Work It Out"
"And I Love Her"
"Your Mother Should Know"
"All Together Now"
"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"
"Band On The Run"
"Back In The U.S.S.R."
"Let It Be"
"Live And Let Die"
"Hi, Hi, Hi"
"Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End"
(Austin-based journalist Lynne Margolis currently contributes to American Songwriter, NPR-affiliate KUTX-FM's "Texas Music Matters," regional and local magazines, including Lone Star Music and Austin Monthly, and newspapers nationwide. She has previously contributed to the Christian Science Monitor (for which she was the "go-to" writer for Beatles stories), Rollingstone.com and Paste magazine. A contributing editor to the encyclopedia, The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen From A To E To Z, she also writes bios for new and established artists.)
ArtsWatch: YouTube Music Key's Big Beta Launch
New music subscription service hopes to leverage Google's scale and unique features
In recent news ...
YouTube Unveils Subscription Music Service
On Nov. 12 Google-owned YouTube announced the beta launch of its new Music Key subscription service. The initial monthly fee will be $7.99, mostly to avoid ads preceding videos, and includes a subscription to Google Play Music. YouTube now has licenses with the three major labels and a new indie deal through Merlin; however, on the day of Music Key's announcement, prominent industry figure Irving Azoff threatened to pull as many as 20,000 songs by artists he represents from YouTube. Apart from the subscription service, but benefitting it, YouTube has also put new interactive features online, particularly on mobile, including higher quality tracks, the ability to find and play complete albums easily, better access to discographic information, and better aggregation of artists' related content. This represents a licensing breakthrough by a tech giant, enabling better competition with Apple Beats and Spotify. With label support, YouTube's advantages as a top Internet destination grow beyond its boasts of 1 billion unique monthly visitors.
Senate Judiciary Chair Calls For Equal Treatment Under Copyright Law
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced S. 2919, the Copyright and Marriage Equality Act, on Nov. 12, proposing to amend the definitions of "widow" and "widower" under statutory copyright law so that the ability for surviving spouses to inherit intellectual property rights applies consistently to same-sex marriages. Penning a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter, Leahy wrote that S. 2919 "will ensure that the rights attached to the works of our nation's gay and lesbian authors, musicians, painters, sculptors, and other creators pass to their spouses the way they now do for heterosexual creators. Artists are the creative lifeblood of our nation, and our laws should protect their families equally." Companion bill H.R. 5617 was introduced in the House of Representatives in September. Because Republicans recently won control of the Senate, Leahy will relinquish his position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, reportedly to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). No one is certain what legislation can still move during the outgoing Congress' remaining term, but Leahy has focused attention on this issue by introducing the bill following his party's loss.
"Dark Market" Websites Shut Down By Law Enforcement
On Nov. 7 the Department of Justice announced that more than 400 "dark market" websites — using Tor anonymity technology to hide criminal commerce in drugs and guns and more — were seized and taken down by law enforcement in the United States and Europe. The ability to cut through Internet criminals' efforts to remain anonymous meant real progress in the previously reported Silk Road 2.0 arrest, and these hundreds of related website seizures suggest law enforcement has improved its technical capacity to shine light into the Internet's dark corners where piracy also thrives. Troels Oerting, head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, said, "This time we have … hit services on the Darknet using Tor where, for a long time, criminals have considered themselves beyond reach. We can now show that they are neither invisible nor untouchable."
Debates Put The Internet's Future In Focus
New developments highlight how the Internet is simultaneously something people love to use and a massive network overseen by government agencies, trade groups and a variety of stakeholder associations. On Nov. 7, the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union completed a three-week plenipotentiary conference, an event held every four years. The Department of State celebrated the accomplishment of the United States' major policy objectives, including maintaining the ITU's mandate, which many other governments oppose. A new working group will also hold consultations with all stakeholders to better develop "international Internet-related public policy." Likely timed to benefit from ITU conference coverage, the NETmundial Initiative announced its formation on Nov. 6, with founding participants ICANN, the World Economic Forum and Brazil's Internet Steering Committee. The new initiative, which follows NETmundial, an international Internet policy conference held in Brazil in April, hopes to make progress in the same open spirit. Separately, President Barack Obama surprised telecommunications industry observers on Nov. 10 by endorsing the strongest possible regulatory approach to achieve open Internet goals, such as prohibiting throttling and paid prioritization of data. Because the Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency, the president has no direct regulatory authority to craft Internet policy. Thus, his remarks stake out a strong but generally advisory political position as part of the ongoing debate. Obama endorsed applying these new regulations to mobile data as well, saying, "There is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet."
The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. To learn more, visit GRAMMY.org/Advocacy. To get more involved, visit GRAMMY.com/Action.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
The Week In Music: Elton Rocks Rush
The Rocket Man performs at talk show host Rush Limbaugh's fourth wedding
We're guessing he didn't play anything from his album A Single Man. According to a People.com report, flamboyant rocker Elton John was the musical guest (for a cool fee of $1 million) at conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's fourth wedding, this one to 33-year-old Kathryn Rogers, who is reportedly a direct descendant of President John Adams. Regarding the couple's age difference, Rogers said, "I'm sometimes not able to relate to the average person my age." It would seem the 59-year-old Limbaugh is neither her age nor the average person.
Here's a concert that went to the dogs. Performance artist Laurie Anderson staged a show outside the Sydney Opera House for an audience of canine music lovers on June 5. The show took place as part of the city's Vivid Live festival, which is being co-curated by Anderson and her husband, Lou Reed, and featured music for mutts including high-pitch squeals and even sounds only dogs could hear. Anderson called the show, which was born from a conversation with cello master Yo-Yo Ma, "a highlight of my life." For man's best friend, it may have been the best dedicated music since the Singing Dogs' version of "Jingle Bells."
If you think Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle — the four-part opera based on Teutonic and Norse mythology that can run as long as 15 hours over four nights for the full cycle — carries some pretty heavy artistic heft, you'd be right…and literally right. For a new Metropolitan Opera staging over the next two years, the Met had to install 65-foot steel girders to support the 45-ton set. This might make Wagner the biggest current heavy metal act in music. The opera is set to open Sept. 27.
Coldplay's own artistic heft just got heavier...and freakier. In 2002 guitarist Jonny Buckland and frontman Chris Martin starred as a murder-solving duo in Irish rock band Ash's self-made slasher flick, appropriately titled Slashed. Unfortunately, the project was shelved, but footage has made its way into the band's new video for "Binary." Meanwhile, Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman is steering clear of axe-wielding killer ghosts to restore Scandinavian furniture with his brother Mark. Berryman's Antiques specializes in tables, seating, cabinetry, and even a Swedish bridal chest. Customers who find their purchased antiques haunted should contact Buckland and Martin immediately.
Now you can love him tender, love him mashed, or even love him au gratin. The Elvis Presley estate has teamed with Hasbro and PPW Toys to launch an Elvis version of the classic Mr. Potato Head toy. The first release will be a Las Vegas jumpsuited Elvis, scheduled to debut during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tenn., in August, and will be followed by a leather-clad Elvis spud. The Elvis potato follows a Kiss version released last year.
Bon Jovi launched an impressive 12-night, sold-out residency at London's O2 Arena on June 7, marking a return to the venue they officially launched three years ago. The GRAMMY-winning New Jersey natives also recently christened their new hometown digs, New Meadowlands Stadium, with three concerts in late May. AEG Live is predicting tickets sales for the band's current tour will eclipse their 2007–2008 Lost Highway trek, which was Billboard's highest-grossing tour in 2008. Not bad for a band Rolling Stone magazine once described as a "bad fourth-generation metal, smudgy Xerox of Quiet Riot." Jon Bon Jovi's take? He recently smirked, "Like it or not, we're one of the biggest bands in the world." No word on a JBJ Mr. Potato Head, however.
Looks like international singing sensation Susan Boyle will be making a holy trip later this year. The Roman Catholic Church says Boyle will likely perform for Pope Benedict XVI at an open-air papal Mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park on Sept. 16. An unidentified spokesman said negotiations are still taking place. "Likely" and "negotiations still taking place"? Could be a tour rider issue brewing…
Have the the Melvins gone commercial? The band's latest album, The Bride Screamed Murder, sold 2,809 units this past week, good enough for the bottom spot on the Billboard 200 and marking the first time the Seattle indie rock legends have placed on the album chart in their 25-plus-year career. With another 2,000 units, they would have reached the chart's upper echelon and passed the likes of Beyoncé, Eminem, Michael Jackson, Nickelback, Pink Floyd, and Timbaland. Asked for his comment on the milestone, singer/guitarist Roger "Buzz" Osborne said, "Top 200 what?"
Katy Perry's "California Gurls," featuring Snoop Dogg, reclaimed the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, as well as the top spot on the iTunes singles chart.
Any news we've missed? Comment below.
And The GRAMMY Went To ... Usher
Usher's "There Goes My Baby"
(In the coming weeks GRAMMY.com will feature information and video highlights on winners from the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, held Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Each installment will offer the winning or related video and some pertinent, and not so pertinent, information about the track and the artists.)
Track: "There Goes My Baby" (iTunes>)
Won for: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance
Previous wins: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2001 for "U Remind Me"; Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002 for "U Don't Have To Call"; Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 2004 for "My Boo" with Alicia Keys; Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2004 for Confessions; Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2004 for "Yeah!" with Lil Jon and Ludacris
Did you know?: "There Goes My Baby" is featured on Usher's sixth studio album, Raymond V Raymond, his third release to top the Billboard 200 and his second to pick up Best Contemporary R&B Album honors. "There Goes My Baby" cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Usher performed his No. 1 single "OMG" on Sunday's GRAMMY telecast with his protégé Justin Bieber. With the help of Usher, Bieber landed a recording contract with Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman & CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid at the age of 15, just one year older than Usher was when he signed with Reid's LaFace label in 1992. Usher launched an acting career in the '90s, appearing in films such as The Faculty and Light It Up. He is a part owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, and owns his own record label, US Records.
Click on the "And The GRAMMY Went To ... " tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.