The Week In Music: Van Halen's New Tattoo

Classic rockers return with a new single and video
  • Photo: Kevin Mazur/
    Van Halen's David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen
January 13, 2012 -- 7:01 am PST

As previously reported, Van Halen is officially back on the music scene, having rocked a small collective of press and industry guests at an intimate concert in New York on Jan. 5. The legendary Sunset Strip band sealed their return this past Tuesday in dropping the needle on their new single and video, "Tattoo," from the forthcoming album, A Different Kind Of Truth — the first album with Roth at the helm in nearly three decades. With a low-budget feel reminiscent of their 1984 classic "Jump," the black-and-white video for "Tattoo" steals a few moves from the classic Van Halen playbook, with Roth shimmying and shaking (while donning goggles, waving checkerboard flags and frequently changing his wardrobe) and Eddie Van Halen grinning while unleashing a flurry of his patented guitar licks. The video garnered more than 1 million plays on YouTube in less than two days but, as expected, fan reaction has been mixed. "I've had farts that sound better than this," commented one disgruntled fan (read: Sammy Hagar-era fan), while one Van Halen diehard wrote, "Great f***ing song, can't wait for the album." With Roth's lyrical mixture of unique wordplay ("sexy dragon magic") and thought-provoking nothings ("Why is the crazy stuff we never say, poetry in ink?"), he's at least got fans talking. As Van Halen prepare to hit the road for their U.S. tour in February, it's a safe bet that this type of polar-opposite dialog will be a permanent fixture in the rock community in the coming months … kind of like a tattoo.

In related album news, the year may be young, but new releases are already starting to pile up. MusiCares Person of the Year Paul McCartney confirmed the title and track listing for his forthcoming new album, Kisses On The Bottom. Set for release Feb. 7, the album will feature a collection of Macca's favorite American standards, plus two new tracks. While the album title has caused some to think twice, it turns out it's actually a lyrical nod to the opening track, Fats Waller's 1935 hit "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter." Fellow Beatle Ringo Starr will also release his latest studio album on Jan. 31. For the nine songs on the album, Starr has partnered with musicians such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dave Stewart, Joe Walsh, and Edgar Winter, among others. However, Starr has chosen to avoid anatomical confusion with a more direct approach for his new album title: Ringo 2012.

Though summer is still more than five months away, things are already starting to heat up in the desert as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival announced its much-anticipated lineup, kicking off the 2012 festival season with a bang. This year is sure to be unlike any other year in the festival's history as the three-day event is set to take place over two consecutive weekends — April 13–15 and April 20–22 — but the collective of artists set to take over the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., remains as diverse as ever. The 2012 headliners are GRAMMY winners the Black Keys, Dr. Dre with Snoop Dogg, and Radiohead, who will play the festival as part of their first full-fledged tour since 2008. Fans will also be in store for the reunion of post-hardcore emo outfit At The Drive-In; a comeback from '90s alternative duo Mazzy Star; a slew of electronica sets from artists including current GRAMMY nominees Avicii, David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia; and a performance by current Best New Artist GRAMMY nominee Bon Iver. Festival fans, start your engines because tickets for the event's first weekend go on sale Jan. 13.

Nicki Minaj has gone from super bass to super tweeter. The 54th GRAMMY Best New Artist nominee has set a new record for being the most-followed hip-hop artist on Twitter with more than 8.27 million followers as of Jan. 9, surpassing Eminem's 8.25 million tally. This year is shaping up to be a big one for the artist, who earned an additional three GRAMMY nominations aside in addition to prestigious Best New Artist nod: Best Rap Album for Pink Friday, Best Rap Performance for "Moment 4 Life" with Drake, and for appearing as a guest artist on Rihanna's Album Of The Year-nominated Loud. She was also announced as one of the first performers for the 54th GRAMMY telecast on Feb. 12. As to the type of chatter one gets in following Minaj on Twitter, one of her latest tweets asks: "What suppresses your appetite?"

GRAMMY-winning husband-and-wife duo Jay-Z and Beyoncé are the latest contestants for the celebrity baby name game, having announced the name of their newborn daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. While Blue Ivy joins the ranks of previous creatively named children such as Chris Martin and Gwenyth Paltrow's Apple Blythe Alison Martin and Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale's Zuma Nesta Rock, she has already gone where no baby has gone before — the Billboard charts. Jay-Z's new song "Glory," officially billed as featuring B.I.C. (Blue Ivy Carter) because it features sounds of the newborn's first cries, entered Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 74, making Blue Ivy the youngest artist to appear on a Billboard chart. On Jay-Z's next single, we're hoping for a preview of Blue Ivy's first few words, which we're betting will be "jigga," "big pimpin'" or "izzo."

Not to get too philosophical, but a banana is just a banana. Right? Wrong. Bananas are serious business, namely as it relates to Velvet Underground's 1967 debut album, Velvet Underground & Nico. More than four decades after the album was released, with an album cover featuring the iconic Andy Warhol banana print, Velvet Underground have filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for copyright infringement over the banana. The band, led by founders Lou Reed and John Cale, claims the image's use on products such as iPad and iPhone cases and shoulder bags is leading people to believe the group have allowed the "sponsorship or approval" for these products. "It is not merely the graphic reproduction by Andy Warhol of a piece of fruit: It is the 'iconic' VU banana," the suit reads. Velvet Underground is seeking an injunction stopping the use of the banana by third parties. Where this fruity filing will lead is unknown, but the next time you reach for a banana, remember, you may not be eating a piece of fruit, you may be eating an icon.

Rihanna's "We Found Love" featuring Calvin Harris is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adele's "Set Fire To The Rain" is tops on the iTunes singles chart.

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