The Year In Music: The Top Trends Of 2011

Apple's iPhone, Jennifer Lopez and "American Idol" prove search-worthy, plus the TWIM Top 10

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

 With 2011 winding to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect on all the events of the past year. Among other happenings, the world lost a revolutionary technology marvel in Steve Jobs; teen star Justin Bieber was falsely accused of fathering a child; Adele became the first artist in more than a decade to top the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks with her GRAMMY-nominated 21; and digital music streaming services grew by leaps and bounds with the U.S. launch of Spotify and other cloud-based services such as Amazon's Cloud Drive, Apple's iCloud and Music Beta by Google.

But what was on your mind most this year? Yahoo has released its list of Top 10 Searches for 2011, with Apple's iPhone ranking No. 1. (For those proud iPhone 4S owners, ask Siri what she thinks about that.) Some familiar names in music also made the list, with Katy Perry at No. 4. What was so search-worthy about Perry this year? Possibly her switch from pink to blonde hair or the fact that she made history in tying Michael Jackson with her fifth No. 1 single from Teenage Dream. The remaining musical spots were filled by Jennifer Lopez (No. 5) and "American Idol" (No. 7) — the former likely due to Lopez's revival of sorts as a judge on "Idol" and a Billboard 200 Top 5 album. And why was "American Idol" so search-worthy? Duh, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.

Here at TWIM, there have been quite a few events over the past year that got our search engines started. Below we present our list of 10 of the most memorable moments of 2011.

Jan. 7: In a new spin on social networking, Josh Groban previewed his new (read: fictitious) album on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" The album, titled The Best Tweets Of Kanye West, features, as its title suggests, Groban on piano singing quotes from West's Twitter commentary. Tweets such as "Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I'm looking to have a conference…not until I get a table though," and "Black is the new black," have been transformed from mere words to lilting pop/classical ballads the singer is known for. You can watch Groban's performance for yourself, but here are our favorite selections: "Classical music is tight yo"; "French fries are the devil"; and "I make awesome decisions in bike stores." Thinking of buying a bike? You may want to consult @kanyewest.

March 18: Did Steve Jobs and Apple's iTunes give music a bad name? Yes, if you ask Jon Bon Jovi. "Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business," said Bon Jovi in an interview with UK's The Sunday Times. "Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album," he reminisced. Bon Jovi thinks listeners will eventually share his nostalgic views and long for the time when they got lost in reading the liner notes for Slippery When Wet while spinning "Wanted Dead Or Alive." "I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am," he said. "And you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: 'What happened?'" Unfortunately, Jobs did not publicly respond to JBJ's allegations before his passing on Oct. 5. But fans can still purchase all the Bon Jovi songs their hearts desire at the iTunes Store.

May 13: The city of Los Angeles was stunned as the Dallas Mavericks got out the brooms on their way to sweeping the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the second round of the NBA playoffs. While purple-and-gold flags were unceremoniously stripped from vehicles from Hollywood to Inglewood, Laker legends such as Magic Johnson and James Worthy took the team to task for their lackluster play. To help get over the heartbreak, fans (and foes) turned to Twitter to submit appropriate losing-themed songs for the Lakers' post-season playlist. Our top 10 favorites were R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts"; Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry"; 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye"; Lil Wayne's "I Feel Like Dying"; Boyz II Men's "End Of The Road"; the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want"; the Roots' "Swept Away"; Nirvana's "All Apologies"; Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust"; and our No. 1 pick, Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Yes, the Lakers can now say they've been MaveRick-rolled.

July 21: A Swedish heavy metal fan is battling an unusual form of addiction. Roger Tullgren, 42, has been medically diagnosed as being addicted to heavy metal, a non-substance compulsive disorder that impacts his social and working life. A team of psychologists officially diagnosed the condition, which means Tullgren will receive state benefits such as income support so that he can attend concerts and indulge other parts of the addiction. "I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against," said Tullgren. Not all medical professionals are sold on the decision to feed Tullgren's addiction, however. "If somebody has a gambling addiction, we don't send them down to the racetrack," said an anonymous local psychologist. It would seem a healthy regular dosage of avant-garde jazz, disco, pop, and classical music would be the perfect prescription for any metal addiction. But Tullgren will not be buying into a 12-step program anytime soon. "Some might say that I should grow up and learn to listen to other types of music but I can't," he said. "Heavy metal is my lifestyle."

Aug. 12: Let's face it, trying to talk a parking officer out of giving you a parking ticket is akin to trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while blindfolded. The next time you're unceremoniously served with a parking ticket, instead of giving the officer a piece of your mind, you might try an alternate tactic: singing. While dining at Neely's Barbecue Parlor in New York, Aretha Franklin saw a meter maid writing a ticket and made a beeline outside and ultimately got out of the ticket by breaking into song and signing an autograph. While there's no word on which song the Queen of Soul serenaded the officer with, our money is on "Think." While this situation can be seen as the latest example of preferential treatment for celebrities, it nevertheless gives hope to those encountering similar parking predicaments in the future. Of course, singing Cee Lo Green's "F You" to an officer may get you a date in the slammer, so we advise you to choose your song carefully.

Sept. 9: Madonna's still as sexy and controversial as ever at age 53, and we've got the proof. She started September promoting her new film, W.E., at a Venice film festival, where she dissed a gift-giving fan for presenting her with a hydrangea, a flower the material girl said she "loathes" into a live mic. But she ended the week on a possibly more positive note, depending on how you feel about cougars (not the large cat native to the Americas, but the saucy older women native to the Courtney Cox sitcom). Dating site offered Madonna $300,000 to write and record a song to help promote the service. The company said in the offer that Madge — who is currently dating 24-year-old Brahim Zaibat and formerly dated then-22-year-old Brazilian model Jesus Luz after splitting with Guy Ritchie — is "without a doubt the queen of cougars." To our knowledge, Madonna did not respond to the offer. And while it's likely it didn't necessarily make her feel like a virgin, at 53, we'd still take it as a compliment.

Sept. 23: As a show of loyalty to their favorite bands, some fans collect truckloads of memorabilia. Some get a back-covering tattoo. And some rack up frequent flyer miles following their favorite act from city to city. However, this kind of loyalty may now seem less impressive given that Missouri native George F. Blackburn took his musical devotion to a new level in officially changing his name to his favorite album, Led Zeppelin II. "[Led Zeppelin] changed my life, forever, and that's my whole reason for doing this," said the newly christened Led Zeppelin II. The 64-year-old is making a new start in his life following the divorce from his third wife and he says the name has already paid dividends. "I reinvented myself," said II. "Since I became Led Zeppelin, my life has improved a thousand fold." While Led Zeppelin II no doubt has a catchy ring to it, if you're inclined to follow suit and rename yourself after your favorite album we recommend thinking twice before considering the following: Chocolate Starfish And The Hotdog Flavored Water (Limp Bizkit), Back On My B.S. (Busta Rhymes), Evisceration Plague (Cannibal Corpse), You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish (REO Speedwagon), and Untitled (the Byrds).

Sept. 2: When the calendar turns to September, carefree summer days unfortunately come to a halt. Most of us look to squeeze in one last bit of fun before we turn the page to autumn. Enter Sinéad O'Connor, who not only was looking for fun, but some, shall we say, action. In a posting to her website, the GRAMMY-winning songstress publically launched an official companion contest. "My s-uation sexually/affectionately speaking is so dire that inanimate objects are starting to look good," wrote O'Connor. "I'm in desperate need of a very sweet sex-starved man." While a contest winner was declared on Aug. 24, O'Connor later announced that "sadly the chosen winner of the quest for [my] man has revealed [a] pregnant girlfriend." Thus, the search continued, and interested parties were still encouraged to apply. But before sending in an application, they had to make sure they could answer "no" to the following questions: Are you a male older than 44? Do you use a hair dryer? Do you shave? Do you hate your mother? Is your name Brian or Nigel? Are you unemployed? We're happy to report that this search has a storybook ending. O'Connor tied the knot on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas with Irishman Barry Herridge. We don't know much about Herridge other than he must be the "mindblowingly filthy freak" O'Connor was looking for.

Oct. 21: Despite all his rage, he is now just a wrestler in a cage. Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan announced he's starting his own professional wrestling company, Resistance Pro Wrestling. "I essentially got involved with some brothers who had a wrestling promotion," Corgan told Fox News Chicago. "We decided to form our own promotion and we're going to try to bring back the glory days." Corgan, who will serve as creative director for the company, hopes to take the sport back to its plot-driven days while raising awareness for concussions and other health issues. So will we see reincarnations of Brutus The Barber Beefcake, Hulk Hogan or the Undertaker? Or will this new class of wrestlers take on monikers inspired by Smashing Pumpkins albums such as Siamese Dream, Oceana or Zeitgeist? We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the company is off and running with a few matches, and the Resistance Pro Heavyweight Champion is slated to be crowned Jan. 13, 2012.

Oct. 28: They will rock you, they will shock you, and sometimes they will scare you. As a further testament that some musicians are just scary being themselves, Billboard released the results of its top 10 scariest musicians poll in time for Halloween. Coming in at No. 10 was the Demon himself, Kiss' Gene Simmons. We don't know what's scarier about Simmons, his knack for spewing out gobs of blood from his mouth, or his relationship with his dog, Snippy. At No. 9 were Insane Clowne Posse, with their painted-on faces being enough reason to never hire a clown for your birthday party ever again. Metal group GWAR checked in at No. 8, even though they may qualify as more humorous than scary with their action-figure-looking ensembles. In an odd twist to the list, Odd Future's Tyler, The Creator made the list at No. 7. Why? Watch this, but be careful, it might drive you yonkers. King of horror rock Rob Zombie dug through the ditches to come in at No. 6; the boa constrictor-friendly Alice Cooper appeared at No. 5; the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne owned the No. 4 spot; and metal's masked crusaders Slipknot screamed in at No. 3. So who battled it out for the top spot? The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga, and the Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson. Who do you think is scariest? View the results here.

Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" is the No. 1 song of the year on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top-selling iTunes song for 2011.

What are your favorite music stories of 2011? Comment below.

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Last Week In Music. Click on "The Week In Music" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images


Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

Beyoncé Releases International Day Of The Girl 'Freedom' Video

Solange To Play Benefit Show For Hurricane Harvey Relief


Photo: Daniel C. Sims/Getty Images


Solange To Play Benefit Show For Hurricane Harvey Relief

GRAMMY winner adds her name to the list of artists who are helping to raise millions in relief efforts for victims

GRAMMYs/Aug 31, 2017 - 04:37 am

GRAMMY winner Solange has announced she will be performing a benefit show to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The performance, called Orion's Rise, will be held at Boston's Orpheum Theatre on Sept. 8.

"I'm committed to partnering with organizations on the ground in Houston and making contributions to uplift the city that raised me with so much love," said Solange, a Houston native.

This announcement comes on the heels of other artists pledging their support, including Solange's sister, Beyoncé. But they are certainly not the only ones.

Beyoncé Vows "To Help As Many As We Can" In Wake Of Hurricane Harvey

Houston rapper Bun B and manager Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande) are organizing a televised benefit concert that will reportedly air on four national networks on Sept. 12.

Comedian Kevin Hart pledged $50,000 to relief efforts, and the fund he organized has earned nearly $2 million in additional financial support, with contributions from artists such as the Chainsmokers. All funds will go to the American Red Cross.

The Kardashians and Jenners, Nicki Minaj, and DJ Khaled have also announced they will make donations. Jennifer Lopez and her partner Alex Rodriguez joined in the fundraising efforts, pledging $25,000 each to the Red Cross.

In addition, GRAMMY winner Jack Antonoff is matching donations up to $10,000 for the Montrose Center in Houston, an LGBT community center. Chris Brown will donate $100,000 directly to "the people," and T.I. will donate $25,000 to relief efforts.

MusiCares Announces Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts


"GRAMMY Effect" Spikes Sales

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

"GRAMMY Effect" Spikes Sales
The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards drove a 3.3 percent increase in album sales compared to last week, according to a Billboard report. The 2010 GRAMMY Nominees album jumped to No. 5 with sales of 71,000 units, a 55 percent increase. Top GRAMMY winner Beyoncé's I Am…Sasha Fierce rose to No. 14 with sales of 32,000 copies, a 101 percent increase. Other GRAMMY performers experiencing sales increases include Pink (up 234 percent), Dave Matthews Band (up 114 percent), the Zac Brown Band (up 82 percent), the Black Eyed Peas (up 76 percent), Taylor Swift (up 58 percent), and Lady Gaga (up 17 percent). Lady Antebellum, who also performed on the telecast, remained at No. 1 for the second consecutive week. (2/10)

Grainge Promoted To UMG CEO
Universal Music Group International Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge has been promoted to CEO of Universal Music Group, effective Jan. 1, 2011. He will succeed Doug Morris and report to Jean-Bernard Lévy, chairman of the management board of Vivendi. Grainge will relocate from London to New York to serve as co-CEO of UMG in tandem with Morris for six months starting July 1. Morris, who has served as UMG chairman and CEO since 1995, will remain as company chairman. (2/10)


Ladies Antebellum And Gaga, Jeff Beck, David Frost, John Legend Win Three GRAMMYs Each

Arcade Fire wins Album Of The Year; Esperanza Spalding wins Best New Artist

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(To view a list of 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards winners, click here.)

The evening began with a tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, but by the time the last of the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards was handed out on Feb. 13, several other singers and bands looked something like royalty. Foremost among them was Lady Antebellum, who walked away with three trophies while the group members earned two more each for songwriting categories.

Lady Antebellum at the GRAMMYs


During a show memorable for its range of fully fueled performances, the country superstars sang a pitch-perfect medley of tunes that ended with a quiet rendition of the song that launched them, "Need You Now," and shortly afterward collected the Song Of The Year GRAMMY for it (along with co-writer Josh Kear, with whom they also took Best Country Song). But there was plenty more to come for the trio. They also took home the GRAMMY for Best Country Album for Need You Now. Accepting that award, lead singer Charles Kelley said, "This song has completely flipped our world upside down." By the time Lady Antebellum stood up to collect a trophy for Record Of The Year for "Need You Now," they were in disbelief, and possibly discombobulated: "Oh my gosh, we're so stunned we started walking the wrong direction," said singer Hillary Scott breathlessly.

Also racking up awards was Lady Gaga, who claimed three: Best Pop Vocal Album for The Fame Monster, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video for "Bad Romance." Never one to miss the chance to make an entrance, she hatched herself onstage from a giant opaque egg. That was a riff on her new single, "Born This Way," and perhaps her bared shoulders, which sprouted a pair of pointy elbows, were too. Her dancers and outfit gave off a Cleopatra vibe, but Gaga can't be stopped from seeming ultra-modern, and her performance of "Born This Way" reflected that; it was a warp-speed whirlwind.

Lady Gaga at the GRAMMYs


In keeping with that same modernist — or maybe futurist — spirit, she accepted her award for Best Pop Vocal Album in black body armor. But Gaga also proved she can be an old-fashioned girl with a soft side. In an emotional acceptance speech for that award, she surprised the audience by thanking Whitney Houston: "I imagined she was singing…because I wasn't secure enough in myself to imagine I was a superstar. Whitney, I imagined you."

Leading the nominees with 10 nods revolving around Recovery, an album that detailed his struggles with addiction but also reestablished him as a rap force to be reckoned with, Eminem took home trophies for Best Rap Album — a triumph over rivals including Jay-Z, Drake and B.o.B — and Best Rap Solo Performance for "Not Afraid." Onstage, his swagger proved undiminished.

A flame-haired Rihanna opened Eminem's performance with a searching rendition of their duet "Love The Way You Lie," but it was Slim Shady who came out blazing, spitting the lyrics to that song before raging into "I Need A Doctor" with Dr. Dre and singer Skylar Grey; Adam Levine from Maroon 5 handled piano duty.

Closing the show and likely lifting the Sunday-night spirits of indie kids everywhere was the Canadian collective Arcade Fire, who won the Album Of The Year GRAMMY for The Suburbs and, before the night's final performance, turned in a frothy and fierce rendition of the rocking "Month Of May."

Arcade Fire at the GRAMMYs


Other multiple winners for the evening included classical music producer David Frost, legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck and R&B artist John Legend, who each earned three awards. Among those who won two each were alternative rock band the Black Keys, jazz giant Herbie Hancock, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, urban/alternative group the Roots, Keith Urban, and gospel singer BeBe Winans.

And in a bit of surprise, jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding won Best New Artist over teen phenom Justin Bieber, as well Canadian rapper Drake, and adventurist rock outfits Florence & The Machine and Mumford & Sons.

Esperanza Spalding at the GRAMMYs


The show also featured a few firsts, including a first-time ever GRAMMY performance by Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger, who helped pay tribute to fallen R&B singer Solomon Burke.

But if there was also a constant, it was the annual, high-profile celebration of music that the GRAMMYs represent, and the 53rd GRAMMYs fit the bill once again, with performances, pairings and awards presentations that were full of pleasant musical surprises.

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