Archive for February, 2010

TERRY RICHARDSON / JERSEY SHORE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

He’s shot everyone from Britney to Obama. And recently, Terry Richardson had the pleasure of shooting the fist pumpers. Check out the shots by Richardson for Interview Magazine, below.

Beatin’ the beat up!
Mike: It’s a situation, bro!
Terry: What is?
Mike: This bro, this. [Points to abs]
Move over Aniston, I gotz the most recognizable hair in televison!
This is what we like to call Gym. We’ll show you Tanning & Laundry later.

I hope Terry shoots the girls — I mean, can you imagine what Snooki’s shots might look like? I vote for the use of pickles!

You can see more photos in the March issue of Interview.

MGMT: ‘CONGRATULATIONS’ IN ORDER

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

On April 13th I will get a little jump in my step as the sophomore release from MGMT hits the shelves, Congratulations. For the follow-up to the unexpectedly riotously popular Oracular Spectacular, there will be no singles released for the album. This could be a glass half-full situation, for the weight of the hype won’t suffocate this before it comes out. For the album will be a cohesive whole, all for one, and one for all. The lead off track, entitled, “It’s Working”, sums up their career choices, indeed. The boys have taken up hobbies such as surfing while recording in Malibu, which has provided tons of stimulation for the lyrics, as well as listening to Lady Gaga. Strange ways, here we come!!!

Trippy surfing tunes with an electronic beat? Sounds like a formula for a dazed, head-banging batch of enormity, which is why I think MGMT’s Congratulations will be one of the key music classics of 2010. As far as I’m concerned, a second batch of twirly sunglass psych-pop is way overdue. Bring on the strange, for it’s the new black.

ALLEN & IRAHETA: SCARS & HAITI

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

What the hell is going on in this photo? Awesomeness, that’s what.

Since winning AI last season, the Idol champ has gone green & charitable, promoting fuel efficiency with Ford and recently lending help to relief in Haiti. Sounds like quite the superhero, yeah? Well, not according to Kris, who recently said to MTV (speaking on his Idol appearance set for tonight)—”Being on the show is going to be a bigger help than me going over with the little bit of manpower I have.”

The show, set to air tonight during the elimination episode, will urge viewers to make donations via online or text-message to the Idol Gives Back Foundation, with proceeds going to support the United Nations Foundation’s ongoing relief efforts in Haiti.

Allison Iraheta will be singing her single SCARS on tonight’s episode also.

Check out Allen speaking on his visit to Haiti, below.

PETA GOES OINKERS OVER SIMPSON

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Man! PETA sure knows how to throw people in the dog house. Get it?! Dog house, Peta. Anyways.

Last September Jessica Simpson was devastated when she lost her beloved dog, Daisy, to a coyote attack (I just laughed at myself for actually knowing this)–but it sounds like the singer is finally thinking about replacing the pup–with a pint-sized piglet. According to Time, Teacup piglets are tiny miniature pigs that are said to be as smart as (if not smarter than) dogs.

“I’m thinking about getting a pet pig,” she wrote on Twitter. “Does this mean I’ll have to give up pork?”

Needless to say PETA was not amused. A representative for the organization told Us Magazine: “Pigs, who are smarter than dogs and every bit as sensitive to pain and stress, don’t belong in Jessica’s stomach or carted around as her latest accessory.”

Oh snap!

On a more positive note, their ad campaigns (latest, featuring Kellan Lutz, here) are usually awesome. Lutz explains that he found his pet, Kola, in a shelter, frightened in the back of a cage. “I touched her toe and said, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ ” he recalls. “She spoke to me.” Lutz was then warned that she was a puller, but he decided to walk her anyway, and knew then that he’d found the one. “From that day on, I loved her,” he says.

According to PETA, about 8 million unwanted dogs and cats enter shelters every year — and half of them are euthanized due to space issues. With that being said, I understand why PETA would make a statement to Jessica’s desires to snatch up some mini bacon, but come on! You can’t blame the girl for wanting one, they are pretty adorable.

Learn more about the teacup piglets, below.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

DIE MANNEQUIN INDUCES FEVER

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

The distant call of a memory you thought was long gone. A cramped, dark room full of strangers dancing in the same directionless, wild rhythm. An instant loss of lucidity. Endless swirls of grey smoke. The undeniable presence of delicious toxicity. These are among the sensations that Die Mannequin can provoke within the mind.

It’s bands like this that give me a glimmer of hope that goth punk has not yet died, and lives within the throats and hearts of singers like Care Failure, who leads Die Mannequin with her throaty, gorgeous vocals. The rest of the band easily matches up to her rocking expertise, and they all work together to ensure that their music will crash right through you, and leave vast carnage behind them. Whether their lyrics are speaking the harsh truth of twisted love, murderous inclinations, teen angst or drug abuse, they’ll be sure to knock you off your feet.

If you think their songs just blasting from a stereo light up your pleasure centres, believe me, the intoxicating thrall of their energy is set to overload when you see them live. Their last show was in their hometown Toronto, Canada, just at the beginning of this month, where they played with the Trews and others to help raise funds for Haiti.

The rivetting effect that Die Mannequin has doesn’t just stop at their lyrics, songs, or stage presence. Even their music videos manage to attack you with that same startling takeover of your eyes, ears, and mind. The music video for their song Miss Americvnt is a gripping, edgy montage depicting all the corruption American society is saturated with, from preoccupation with money and celebrities to the exploitation of women in pop culture. Seeing it was like having my eyes splashed with the truth (fantastic editing). It’s so great to see that not only does Die Mannequin have a great amount of strength musically, but that they understand that women shouldn’t be pressured by the unrealistic measurements of society, and also understand what that pressure leads some women into doing.

Do check out their video below. And, as Care Failure would say, “Thank you from the bottom of my fever.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: IDOL CHUNKS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Ellen: Was it just me or did the girls kinda blow chunks last night?
Ryan: [Stage Voice] This–IS–American Idol.
Ellen: Hello? Did you hear me?
Ryan: Sorry, I’m practicing for tonight. I want to be flawless.

I want to first say that all the girls are talented and beautiful and that I understand that it must be incredibly nerve-wracking to be on that stage, but when you’re on a mainstream show like Idol, you’d think they would put a little more creative thought into the entire process. I realize that original songs cannot be performed but you can be creative in other ways (IE the song choice, arrangement, and styling choices).

Speaking of original songs–I really admired Crystal Bowersox for stating on camera that the contestants aren’t allowed to sing original material. She, by the way, had the best performance, hands down. I really appreciate the genuine vibe and honest energy that she projects when she sings.

Another annoyance factor was when three girls sang a freakin’ Beatles song. Excuse me? B-O-R-I-N-G. I love the Beatles. They are iconic, but when you are trying to stand out on a show in front of millions of people, you don’t do a song that can even be remotely tied to any of your competitors. DUH!!! Sorry, I’m just a little bitter because so far, this season, the show just seems to be crap. Although I love Ellen, the chemistry with her and the other judges are not what it should be and there seems to be something missing amongst the panel–an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dotted Paula Abdul, perhaps?

In the world of pop music, it’s about the overall package–stage presence, commercial appeal, image, song choice. And even though Simon said it’s the girls’ year this year, after last night’s snoozefest, I’d have to disagree.

ANDREW GARCIA all the way (at least for now). Let’s hear it for the boys!

You can check out Andrew Garcia covering Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, below.

SPOON: GRAB ONE, AND DIG IN

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Spoon solidifies that less is more. They successfully compose record after record of the best indie rock today, including their latest release, Transference. They dip in sadness, robust, and rage within their lyrics. These guys enjoy living in a paparazzi-free crazed world. Asked on the track Written in Reverse, “Will you lose a bit of yourself…”, these guys certainly have not. Spoon has solidified their standing among the finest independent musicians alive, and their damn proud of it.

While many bands wish for someone to take their music of their hands, no one is going to help them dismantle their work. Who Makes Your Money backs this by stating “Who makes your money, who thinks they might, who’s gonna be there to take the fight”. For the past decade, it’s been them. They occupy the bizarre purgatory between being one of the prime bands in indie rock, and barely-there mainstream recognition, and it’s good enough for them. Treat yourself to real music. It’s time to put down the forks, and pick up a Spoon.

BEYONCE: HUMBLE OUT OF THE HYPE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com
FHM magazine:

“My music is more than just performing, dancing & shooting videos. I try to show women that we need to be there for each other, support each other, & that you have to work to reach your goals.”

It’s this kind of attitude that truly makes BK from Texas a star. It also reminds me of one of my favorite lyrics that she’s ever written (from the song Hello), when she says–YOU KEEP ME HUMBLE OUT OF THIS HYPE / CAUSE YOU KNOW THERE’S MORE TO LIFE.

Check out the humble BK on The Today Show, high from making Grammy history with her six wins, below.

AUGUSTANA: UNREFINED PIANO ROCK

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you are looking for a pretty song to tug at your heartstrings, or a pitch-perfect polished revenge tune, begin your artist search now. The boys from San Diego may perhaps be best known for their single Boston, although I must say, MTV’s The Hills and American Idol are not an excuse for listening to this track. Augustana are masterful songwriters, with memorable and ironic twists in their lyrics, especially in Dusk where “If a man can’t lie, how can he speak, if the sun don’t rise, would the moon be out of reach.”

When bands are on the verge of getting bit by the fame monster, many try to make an impression by presenting a pitch-perfect sound. Augustana opts for a more innate, unrefined style. Diagnosis: Piano rock with dream pop, a snack to satisfy every craving! On the track Mayfield the band moans: “Are we going to make it?” In response to your question my boys, I do believe so. Out of all the stars and boulevards, this one shines distinct.

PASSION PIT DROPS ‘LITTLE SECRETS’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Last year, before Passion Pit exploded, I was lucky enough to be a part of their music video for The Reeling. It was a fun shoot and the guys could not have been more down to earth. Now the boys (after being nominated for a MTV VMA last year) are back with a new video for the feel-good Little Secrets, which features the amazing voices from the kids at PS22 Chorus.

Above: Myself (with friend) & Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit

Many have wondered the meaning behind Little Secrets. Some say drugs — but I highly doubt this theory, because the kids who sang on this track are 5th graders and no school would want a possible backlash with regards to their students lending their voices for a song covering the topic of hard candy. As far as I know, Passion Pit has not explained the story behind this song, but here’s an opinion I agree with the most, posted by flakeytoday at songmeanings.net:

This song is about the healing from childhood sexual abuse.

The first verse refers to what happens when you recognize the pain (“salty wounds”) and what was stolen from you (gold in Emperor’s tomb), and while to cope with the abuse you had a mind out of body experience, but in healing you “come down”.

The next few verses are about this knowledge and that you’re not “ugly”, and understanding the “neighborhood’s disgrace” of expressing this knowledge then recognizing the “confines of this chemistry” or that you just can’t tell everybody.

So when you do tell somebody, it’s your “little secret” (next verse and song title). Yet, when you tell someone, there is elation, freedom felt; higher and higher and higher. Notice this chorus is sung by children.

The next two verses are about the sense of being alive and happy, symbolized by the light references “halogen”.

The next verse relates to empowerment: “so goddam strong”, and frustration of “taking so damn long” to understand what the abuser did: “he tried to squeeze the lemon juice to rain”.

The next verses are about judgement: “friends complain you’ve caused all this pain and you proudly shame your whole family’s name”. Mother’s reaction is staring at the ceiling.

But in the end you rise above climbing higher and higher…

What is your interpretation of Little Secrets?

Check out the video, directed by Timothy Saccenti, below.

KIMBERLY CALDWELL RETURNS ABLAZE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you’re a fan of American Idol you will know that it’s been quite some time since Kimberly Caldwell graced us with her vocals. In fact, it’s been almost seven years. But no longer fret, the raspy platinum blonde’s time has officially arrived as Caldwell is ready to release her debut album, appropriately titled Without Regret.

When I heard MESS OF YOU (the lead single from Without Regret) it instantly caught my attention. Caldwell’s voice is much deeper than I remember and the sultry grit echoes a mashup of Kelly Clarkson with more of a rock n’ roll Melissa Etheridge kind of depth.

Her debut album drops April 6, 2010.

Get reaquanted with Kimberly Caldwell, and hear snippets from her debut album, below.

Introducing Kimberly Caldwell from Kimberly Caldwell on Vimeo.

CAGE THE ELEPHANT SILENCES HATERS

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Cage the Elephant; they’re on the track of stardom, and they aren’t stopping until they close their eyes for good. Their funk and blues influenced anthems are causing quite a stir on the radio and concert scene. The indie rockers edging from the small music scene in Bowling Green have found impressive chart success with “Aint No Rest For The Wicked” and “Back Against the Wall”, released from their self-titled album.

This is clearly a band in the rookie stages that leaves the listeners and critics to ask who they are trying sound like. “They say we ain’t got the style, we ain’t got the class, we ain’t got the tunes that’s going to put us on the map”. On the track “In One Ear” they seem to silence the haters by giving them one big middle finger. They’ve taken a retro rock style, thrown in a twangy’ heavy guitar, and branded the sound their own; bluesy, funky alternative rock. If you like animated sing-along’s that forcefully mix rock and funk, Cage the Elephant could be the new band for you.

Check these guys out of their cage and on the road this season, and unleash your inner animal.

AVRIL GOES DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I think every Tim Burton fan is looking forward to his version of Alice in Wonderland, due to be released in theatres this March. (I mean, let’s face it, Alice in Wonderland is an acid trip in itself, and to have it tweaked with the deliciously twisty brain cells of Tim Burton is going to be a delight for everyone.) Being a Tim Burton fan myself, I am quite excited, and was especially excited about the score being done by Danny Elfman, as is typical with Tim Burton films. The whimsical, quirky, and sometimes unsettling moods he often produces in his compositions suit my tastes well, and I was eager to discover what he’d come up with to pair with the odd pigment of Alice in Wonderland. I began looking up any leaked info on the soundtrack, only to find out that punk-pop princess Avril Lavigne has made a contribution of her own to the score with a single written especially for the movie.

The song, aptly titled ‘Alice (Underground)’, is to be played as the first song on the end credits of the film. The lyrics evoke the mysterious disconnect of reality that the character Alice no doubt experienced while stumbling about through Wonderland. It seems that Avril has been expanding with her vocals, shown clearly through the breaking chorus line of the song. Her tone expresses the disillusionment of the lyrics perfectly, with a little droplet of pain staining the edges. Although it doesn’t have the uppity edge I was hoping for, it inspires the feeling of glumly overcast skies, and can still be accepted as ‘Tim Burton-esque’.

Avril mentions writing the song in one of her recent blog postings, expressing her excitement for being involved musically in the film as well as saying, “I wanted to come up with something a little on the moodier side to fit his film. I think the piano adds a cool dramatic element to the song.”

Is it moody? Definitely. Does it have that dramatic vibe? Sure. But does the single meet the standards of Danny Elfman’s heart-pumping, mind-bashing scores? Honestly, I don’t think it would be fair to match a skilled composer against a bubblegum punk singer, so I’m just going to bob my head and bite my nails while waiting for the release of the film and its promising soundtrack. Meanwhile, I have time to soak in the enjoyable intensity of Avril’s single. And so do you.

Down the rabbit hole we go!

GIVING UP KELLIE PICKLER FOR LENT

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

After moving to New York City almost two years ago, I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are some things I will forever miss about the South. Number 1 on that list: Fun girls. Yes, I said it! Prime example, Kellie Pickler. When I see her, I just smile. The same goes for Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift,…you get the point. And since I’ve been missing my twang, I’ve been making up for it by watching videos like the one below on repeat. Perhaps I should give up YouTubing Kellie Pickler for Lent ha?

Nah, in all seriousness, I’ve decided this year to give up pop. NO, NOT POP MUSIC (that would be the death of me)…but pop, ya know, soda, Coke, RC Cola (if ya country). Actually, I had already stopped drinking it about a week ago, but with Lent starting today, I think soda is actually a good thing to rid myself of. It all started once I did some research on aspartame (fake sugar found in diet soda) and officially freaked out. Turns out, stuff can create memory loss, among other things. And I am not including the fact that caffeine turns me into a crazy person.

Speaking of crazy persons/back to blondes, Kellie Pickler was on Ellen recently and it totally made my day.

There’s not a better way to start Lent than to see Pickler speak some twang.

Watch the hilarity, below.

ANTI-FLAG, UNCENSORED

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Think about it. When’s the last time you heard an anarcho-punk song that literally gave you chills? Or a punk band that actually delivered a passionate political message, not just a vague shout-out against authoritative figures in their lives? Anti-Flag has once again managed to lend a strong voice to activists, all the while placing attention on current social issues. The music video of their song ‘The Economy Is Suffering- Let’s Kill It’, released just last month, carries their signature raw vocals, their shredding guitar chords, and of course, their always brutal (and often accurate) views on the corruption found in society.

This time, their focus is the disparity and inequality of wealth in America, and the constant corruption that lingers in between the dollar bills that the rich hoard and the poor long for. The chorus carries the rib-cracking energy of a revolution brewing, while the verses are full of scathing observations on how the poisoned money system works. Although the expletives in the song have been censored on MTV, that still doesn’t censor out the message. After all, Anti-Flag doesn’t need profanity to shock and inspire people, not when they have such power in their lyrics.

And amazingly, they’re not just hypocrites spouting a message of equality and revolution while hiding under the banner of some corporate music label. In fact, they publish most of their albums under their own small record company, A-F Records. So, I’m hoping we won’t have to go to the extreme lengths that they suggest in their lyrics to turn the economy around, but it is nice to know that there are some bands out there who are invested in making a change.

For the video, watch below. (And be sure to turn the volume up!)

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