The Guardian
4 min read

Psychedelia, Clubbing And Muppets: Inside The World Of Jim Henson

I have seen the evidence first-hand and I am ready to confirm: Big Bird is, in fact, quite big. At 8ft 2in, he towers above his colleagues Elmo and Cookie Monster in a display case at the heart of The Jim Henson Exhibition. This new, thorough examination of the life and work of the pioneering puppeteer and film-maker opens this week at its permanent home, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. It just so happens to be next door to the Kaufman Astoria Studios, where they shoot Sesame Street, and a short walk from the Jim Henson Creature Shop. That’s a nice touch for local residen
NPR
2 min read

Albin Lee Meldau: Tiny Desk Concert

Few singers can command an audience's attention quite like Albin Lee Meldau. When I first saw him perform, at a church in Austin, Texas during South By Southwest last March, it felt like the entire audience was on the edge of its seat, hanging on every twisted word. His voice is breathtaking, soulful, thunderous and impossible to ignore. Watching Meldau in this Tiny Desk set, the first thing you'll notice, apart from that voice, is how possessed he is by the music. The words and melodies seem to take hold of him while at the same time offering a release, if only for a moment, from the knot of
NPR
2 min read

Songs We Love: The Isley Brothers & Carlos Santana, 'Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)'

Carlos Santana turns 70 years old Thursday. It's difficult to wrap my head around that: To me, as to so many other fans, he'll forever be the just-turned-22-year-old grimacing and grooving at Woodstock in August 1969. Santana was the only band to perform there without an album out. The band's self-titled debut was released a few weeks later, and it — along with Santana's performance at the festival, on the soundtrack album and in the film — propelled the group to stages around the world. Now, after 24 studio albums with the band, countless tours to just about every corner of the globe and an a
NPR
2 min read

Linkin Park Singer Chester Bennington Dead At 41

Chester Bennington, one of the lead singers for the band Linkin Park and a former singer for Stone Temple Pilots, has died. His death was confirmed to NPR Thursday afternoon by the Los Angeles County Coroner's office, which said that his body was discovered at a house in the 2800 block of Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles and that investigators are currently on the scene. The death is "being looked at as a possible suicide at this time," according to Brian Elias of the coroner's office. Bennington was 41 years old. Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda posted that he is "shocked and heartbroken" a
NPR
3 min read

First Listen: Elvis Presley, 'A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings'

Think of this three-disc set as The Rise of Elvis Presley: The Granular Detail Version. The fabled personal recordings young Presley paid Sun Records $3.98 to make are here. The very early singles are all represented as well – and they've been put through a magical audio scrubber and buffed to diamond clarity. The set includes every available studio outtake, and some choice banter between takes. Naturally there are live performances, among them a rousing (and previously unissued) "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" from a 1955 Louisiana Hayride radio broadcast. Cue the doubters' chorus: Haven't w
NPR
6 min read
Pop Culture

The KLF's Greatest Protégés Didn't Really Know What Was Going On

In January, a cryptic poster plastered on a London wall announced the imminent return of The KLF — also variously known as The Kopyright Liberation Front, The JAMs, The Timelords, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The K Foundation, K2, among others — after a 23-year hiatus. That the person who "discovered" the poster happened to manage one of its two members came as little surprise to anyone familiar with The KLF, whose lead instrument is f****** with people, at which both are virtuosic. Just over a month after the poster appeared, publishing house Faber & Faber announced a forthcoming trilogy
People
3 min read

JAY Z AND BEYONCE The Twins Are Here!

For a long while Jay Z and Beyoncé were the proud parents of one adorable kid, regulars at Brooklyn pizza joints and Knicks games and firmly in an Empire State of mind. But over the past year and a half, the R&B royals and 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy have gradually shifted their lives west to Los Angeles. Leaving behind their 8,300-sq.-ft. Tribeca penthouse and a slew of sweet Manhattan memories—Beyoncé gave birth to Blue at a swanky Upper East Side hospital—the former New York mainstays made the change for one very important reason: their expanding family. After setting Instagram ablaze in F
New York Magazine
7 min read
Pop Culture

HOW TO: Write a Perfect Pop Song

As told to David Marchese “When I was first presented with the idea for this story—where I would explain how to write a perfect pop song—I told my manager, ‘It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t make any sense. There’s no one way to do it.’ But as I was describing why I couldn’t do it, I was also asking myself questions, and those questions made me come around. The big question is this: What is a pop song? The easiest way I can describe what makes a pop song a pop song is that it’s a song you want to hear over and over. Some people will instantly think, Well, that means it’s simple and stupid. The
A Plus
3 min read
Pop Culture

Missy Elliott's Out-Of-The-Box Style Smashed Stereotypes About Female MCs, Their Looks, And Hip-Hop’s Boundaries

Before unforgettable songs like “Get Ur Freak On” and an iconic performance at the Super Bowl’s halftime show in 2015, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott was an unfamiliar name in 1997. Back then, she was fresh out of Sista, an all-female R&B group she had formed with friends, writing and producing music for a living. Four years before her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, Elliott made her first foray into the limelight by writing and rapping in Raven-Symone’s “That’s What Little Girls Are Made Of.” Supa Dupa Fly was Elliott’s chance to fully showcase her writing and rapping chops with the help of her neig
A Plus
3 min read
Pop Culture

No Matter What Mood You're Experiencing, Savage Garden's Emotion-Filled Debut Is Music To Your Ears

20 Albums 20 Years Later remembers and explores the music that touched us back then and still resonates today. Join A Plus as we take another listen to albums released in 1997 and celebrate their contributions not only to the charts but to our lives. Savage Garden — the Australian duo made up of vocalist Darren Hayes and instrumentalist Daniel Jones — entered into 1997 just as rock band U2 was beginning to experiment with their Pop album, and Hanson was blurring the lines between rock and pop. Maybe that’s why the U.S. was ready to embrace the pair’s brand of offbeat dance-rock, which was at o
A Plus
4 min read
Pop Culture

Will Smith Set The Standard As A Positive Male Role Model In Hip-Hop That Has Yet To Be Surpassed

Will Smith already had a “fresh” start to his acting and music career before releasing his debut solo album Big Willie Style in November of 1997. Our beloved American sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had just ended a six-year run the year before, and Smith stepped away from collaborating with longtime partner Jazzy Jeff to jump right into film projects such as Independence Day in 1996 and Men in Black in 1997. It was also a very busy year for Smith having just gotten married to current wife Jada Pinkett Smith (and still going strong 20 years later). But Smith returned to music, and began wor
A Plus
4 min read
Pop Culture

Joe’s Sultry Sounds Served As The Soundtrack Of Love At All Stages Of The Relationship Game

Joe’s sophomore album All That I Am sounds dated by today’s standards. Not necessarily sonically, mind you, but because many consider R&B to be a dying art due to the amount of it they hear on the radio. But the genre thrived in 1997 thanks to torchbearers such as Erykah Badu with her neo-soul, Usher with his hip-hop-flavored jams, and Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey with their pop-styled offerings, among others. Joe filled the niche of bedroom balladeer, serving up much of the middle ground and foreplay some will say is missing in today’s “straight to the bedroom” soul. On this particular comp
The Atlantic
5 min read
Pop Culture

The Summer of Cornball Superproducers

DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller is one of those song that’s so cheesy that it’s hard to believe it exists. Guitar sampled from Carlos Santana’s 1999 schmaltzy smash “Maria Maria” wails over an itchy Destiny’s Child-esque rhythm while Rihanna, seeming to smack her lips, delivers this bit of crass babytalk: “Know you wanna see me nakey, nakey, naked.” All of which, you may have guessed, produces a near-perfect piece of pop that may well become the cookout jam of this July or of this century. Rihanna’s involvement in this piece of joyful piffle is a sign of a few i
Ad Age
2 min read
Pop Culture

Shout-Out: Coke Made More Than 1,000 Songs Featuring People's Names

Coke is getting personal with its newest jingles -- all 1,000-plus of them. In a musical twist on its "Share-a-Coke" campaign, the soda brand has recorded unique songs featuring the first and last names displayed on its bottles now in stores. That translates to more than 1,000 songs, featuring names ranging from Alyssa to Habib. To hear their song, consumers must type their name into a special website that quickly returns a tune. Last names are included, like this one below for the Diaz family. The agency is Fitzco//McCann. For names that didn't make the cut, the program returns an image sayin
Mic
2 min read
Pop Culture

Lana Del Rey’s Latest Tracks Are Prime Anti-summer Anthems, And They’re Brilliant

If five years of Lana Del Rey music have taught us anything, it’s that joy in her world feels very different than it does in any other pop star’s. Even Lust for Life, which she’s framed as her brightest and most optimistic album to date, has been led by singles dripping with a sense of her highly fashionable world-weariness. Her latest — “Summer Bummer,” featuring A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, and “Groupie Love,” featuring A$AP Rocky — are no exception. They’re summery on the surface, but they feel nothing like any other summer song currently getting any play on the charts or in any of music’s
A Plus
5 min read
Pop Culture

Janet Jackson Spoke To Our Need To Feel Special By Making Us Uncomfortable, And It’s A Lesson We’re Still Learning Today

20 Albums 20 Years Later remembers and explores the music that touched us back then and still resonates today. Join A Plus as we take another listen to albums released in 1997 and celebrate their contributions not only to the charts but to our lives. Janet Jackson had little to prove in 1997. Having a year earlier signed an $80 million deal with Virgin Records (the biggest made by a label at the time), redefined her sound and individuality (with 1993’s janet.), and dueted with brother Michael Jackson on his response to child molestation allegations (“Scream”), it’s safe to say she was comforta
The Atlantic
4 min read
Pop Culture

The Underrated Humor of Radiohead's OK Computer

In Rolling Stone’s recent cover story on the 20th anniversary of Radiohead’s OK Computer, singer Thom Yorke says that if he could go back to 1997 he’d tell his younger self to “lighten the fuck up.” But I don’t know—to listen to the newly reissued OK Computer is to be struck by the one aspect of the album that’s still somehow underrated: its humor. Yes, Radiohead is perhaps the modern pop-rock act most described with the word “gloom.” Yes, OK Computer ’s lyrics touch on car crashes, plane crashes, crushing disappointment, suicide by poison, and “a cat tied to a stick driven into frozen winter
The Atlantic
5 min read
Pop Culture

Vince Staples, Enemy of Groupthink

Somewhere in America last year, a woman took to YouTube to complain about a song that she’d heard on the radio while dropping her daughter off at school. Tears in her eyes and strain in her voice, the self-identified Christian mother of three recited the lyrics from Vince Staples’s “Norf Norf,”  pronouncing every profanity, sobbing at the Long Beach rapper’s mentions of sex and crime and running away from the cops. She was horrified. “I couldn’t even believe the words I was listening to,” she said into the camera. “As a mom, it infuriated me.” Online media gleefully snarked on the video, writi
Mic
2 min read
Pop Culture

Halsey Just Started A Feud With Iggy Azalea

If there is one artist Halsey would never work with, it's rapper Iggy Azalea. The pop singer revealed her true, callous feelings about the Australian rapper to the Guardian on Thursday. "There’s a lot of people I wouldn't put on my record," Halsey, who released her second album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom in June, said. "Iggy Azalea: absolutely not. She had a complete disregard for black culture. Fucking moron. I watched her career dissolve and it fascinated me." Halsey, who is half black and half white, identifies as biracial. Azalea has come under fire in the past for her appropriation of hip
TIME
2 min read
Pop Culture

Why Wonder Woman Broke Through

WONDER WOMAN’S BIG-screen debut—which came on June 2, 76 years after she first appeared in print—could have been a disaster. Last year critics panned Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ dour Batman v Superman and disjointed Suicide Squad. And Hollywood executives have been skeptical about whether female superheroes can succeed at the box office ever since a string of mid-2000s flops like Catwoman and Elektra. When movie-theater chain Alamo Drafthouse announced that it would schedule all-female screenings of Wonder Woman, men’s-rights activists accused the company of “sex discrimination.” Turns out, y