After being part of “The Voice” for the first couple of seasons, Christina Milian, opted to leave the show and let E!’s cameras follow her personal, and professional life as a part of her new reality show “Christina Milian Turned Up.” Rumors about the nature of her relationship with Lil Wayne started floating in the air… Continue reading →
This rumored couple couldn’t stay secret forever! The first ever pics of Leo and Rihanna together have been released, and they’re from her 27th birthday party.
Leonardo DiCaprio, 40, and Rihanna’s secret rumored romance has kept us on our toes for months. Until now. The first photos of Leo and Rihanna together show them getting cozy at Rihanna’s 27th birthday party on Feb. 20! We’ve been waiting a long time for these two to step out together, and we finally got our wish!
“If I were to say who influenced me most, I would say people like Stockhausen, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno and Mark Bell,” Björk told Mark Pytlik for his biography of the Icelandic musician. An intriguing, if not altogether surprising, group. It not only name-checks some of the most important musical figures of the past 70 years, but also provides a template with which to understand Björk.
I’m not just talking in musical terms. Björk may be a musician but she has a much broader aesthetic than music – to the extent that an exhibition about her is shortly opening at MoMA. At the heart of such a show is the question of where the boundaries between art and music lie.
Her influences tell us a lot about why and how this is the case with her work. German electronic music pioneer Stockhausen was most active in the 1950s and 60s. He certainly inspired Kraftwerk and Eno to redefine the confines of popular music in the 1970s. Bell, a key figure in the development of techno and house music in the UK in the 1990s, essentially fused Eno’s ambient music with Kraftwerk’s melody-driven synthesised beats.
Photography by Nick Knight. Image courtesy of Wellhart Ltd & One Little Indian
Stockhausen (indirectly) and Bell (directly, as Björk’s producer from 1997 until his death in late 2014) can be regarded as highly influential in cultivating the Björk soundscape.
But Kraftwerk and Eno have probably had a more diverse, profound and even dynamic impact. Both have long histories of exploring the connections between music and art. They are equally at home in art spaces and galleries as they are in concert halls and recording studios. Music is only one facet of their oeuvre.
Kraftwerk collaborated with artists, Eno creates photography, installations and digital art. They both work with film and video, and have given live performances as living art. This idea of the living artwork seems to be very much at the heart of the MoMA rationale for the Björk exhibition, which it describes as:
A retrospective of the multifaceted work of composer, musician, and singer… To chronicle her career through sound, film, visuals, instruments, objects, and costumes.
Photo by Glen Luchford
This is not the first time MoMA has recognised the margins of culture inhabited by some musicians. In 2012, there was the exhibition Kraftwerk – Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. There were eight live shows, each featuring the music of a different album. Each performed to sell-out audiences. The same format was used by Tate Modern in London for another eight sell-out performances in February 2013.
Of course, there’s an argument that Kraftwerk has always defied constructs of what constitutes a popular music act or even a rock band; it has always been more of an arts collective. Its members built their own instruments. They never gave press interviews. They refused to be photographed, and used dummies for photoshoot clones. Their stage performances were carefully constructed. They collaborated with artists for album art work (Emil Shult created the iconic cover for Autobahn) and music videos (Rebecca Allen used state-of-the-art facial animation software for the film that accompanied the 1986 single Musique Non-Stop).
The art world finally took notice around the turn of the millennium when Tokyo’s Metropolitan Museum of Photography featured an exhibition on the making of Allen’s film in late 2002. This was what initiated the art world’s exploration of the interface between art and music.
Three artistic poles
Like Kraftwerk, Eno refutes the rock star cliché. The early years with Roxy Music merely established the platform from which he was able to create a variety of work. He can now be considered a composer, sound technician, session musician, musical collaborator, record producer, visual artist, social and cultural commentator.
With Kraftwerk and other electronic musicians such as Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre, he helped form the musical landscape of the 1980s and beyond. He also began creating photography and art installations in the 1970s and his work has been exhibited widely across the globe.
Roy Ascott has remarked:
Any attempt to locate Brian Eno’s (art) work within an historical framework calls for a triple triangulation, whose trig points in the English tradition would seem to be Turner/Elgar/Blake; in Europe, Matisse/Satie/Bergson, and in the United States, Rothko/La Monte Young/Rorty.
This three-pointed allusion embraces artists, musicians and philosophers. At the edge of music you find a border country, as much cultivated by the visual aspect of music making, and the pop star as cultural icon, as it is to the desire to explore multiple creative forms.
From Elvis Presley forward, the performance and marketing of music has always relied on a visual aesthetic. But it is not only the record company or concert promoter, more concerned with the commercial imperative of the product on sale, who has been preoccupied with the packaging of music and musicians. Starting with the Beatles in the mid-1960s, musicians themselves became more interested with image; not just their appearance (on and offstage) but with how their broader persona was presented and what it represented.
The trend began with album covers as genuine works of art (Peter Blake’s 1967 collage for the Sgt Pepper’s album) and soon evolved into elaborate stage costumes (Arthur Brown), and ultimately, into exotic alter egos (David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, whose costumes featured among the exhibits at last year’s V&A retrospective of Bowie’s stage creations).
Some musicians even insisted on fashioning their own album covers, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell chief among them. Dylan has exhibited his paintings and sculptures in galleries worldwide, including the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Film was also used to cultivate and enhance image: look at the proto-videos for Dylan’s 1965 single Subterranean Homesick Blues or, a decade later, Queen’s global phenomenon Bohemian Rhapsody. Videos themselves were the main drivers of sales throughout the 1980s, initiating the MTV age, before digital technologies enabled a more holistic multimedia approach, particularly in terms of live performance.
Björk seems to embody all of this. The four musicians she mentioned to Pytlik are surely just one aspect of her inspiration and ambition. As the New York show will no doubt prove, with its showcasing of music as well as album covers, videos and costumes, Björk’s work references Bowie’s performance art and Eno’s extending of aesthetics, just as much as German electronic music. What will happen next in these borderlands, we’ll have to see – but it’s an extremely exciting prospect.
So, Madonna fell over at the Brit Awards. If you weren’t watching last night (and if you were, why?) then no doubt you know by now. The tumble has been gleefully reported from all quarters – something that says a lot about how dull the Brits Awards are. The other option is to talk about how Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran won accolades. Who cares? The answer will always be, the UK music industry, because this is their celebration.
The 2015 Brit Awards is a significant event in the UK music calendar. But probably only if you are in the industry. As we all know, such awards ceremonies are simply marketing exercises – with the Oscars as their template, they draw media attention to the successes produced by a particular industry.
The problem is that word “industry”. Musicians need companies to consolidate and increase their own efforts in establishing (and monetising) fan-bases. Because they do, they work on the terms and conditions of the companies whose investment they need. On this basis, the Brit Awards are a celebration of the type of person and the type of music that companies make successful. So the exercise is always a self-congratulatory one – and that often makes for difficult watching.
The Brit Awards always plays safe, to the extent that one year blurs into another – a procession of lairy rock lads swagger up, giving and receiving laddish banter as they tuck away another endorsement for their safe, essentially middle-of-the road music. Occasionally a female face, and less often a black face (rarely a female one) makes an appearance, but all are bound by the strict rules of “celebrity” culture. Along the way, music gets lost.
So where do you find the music that is musically innovative and distinctive in any one year? It could be argued that the Mercury Awards is the arena for evaluating and celebrating musicality, yet the flaw to that argument is that the acts that tend to come to the attention of the Mercury judges are industry successes in the first place, albeit they come from across a wider range of genres than Brit Awards nominees tend to be derived from.
It was frustration with the Brits that provoked the creation of the MOBO awards. The MOBOs celebrate black talent and artistry. It would take an article longer than this one to identify just why the Brits finds it so hard to engage intelligently with all of the music that generates interest and excitement in the UK but perhaps switching to a formula that tracks downloads and streams might help to open up the Brits to genres beyond the safe and familiar ones they are preoccupied by.
Yet, somehow, this narrow preoccupation is just as it should be. What music industry produces is a symbolic good, a commodity. Music at its core, but it is sold as a composite of the way a musician sounds and the way that he or she looks and behaves, and articulates and inserts themselves in contemporary value-sets. Musicians act as lightning rods for popular culture and, if popular culture goes on being expressed through soaps and reality TV shows and football and gossip and scandal, then the Brit Awards is about celebrating which musicians are most efficient at producing the soundtrack for such a culture.
If there is a lack of diversity in the types of musicians celebrated it is because the types of music made by those musicians are the ones that fit most readily with the expectations of general audiences. Or, perhaps more accurately, the musicians awarded are the ones who help people negotiate a way of life they do not control by providing an escapist, celebratory soundtrack for an idealised escape from daily life – which raises the question of why the need to escape is felt so strongly by so many.
“Control” is the key word here, earlier popular music scenes – folk, rock, punk rock, the rave scene – were very much about young people expressing and embodying “alternative” values. As opportunities to enjoy careers have contracted, so too, in a perplexing way, has the belief that there are other ways of existing; other ways of realising the self – and pop music was always particularly good at articulating and focusing this.
“Daily life” for many people in the UK is an increasing struggle: the collapse of community attendant on the collapse of manufacturing industries has forced individuals to become “self-marketers”. It should be little wonder, then, that singers who sing wistful ballads of vulnerability and self-struggle – among them Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran – should prove so popular. And when community is recomposed at the level of football and partying then nominees such as Mark Ronson and Duke Dumont provide the EDM and House soundtrack for those “mad for it” collective occasions.
The Brit Awards is about celebrating music’s contribution to popular culture. Its lack of diversity reflects a lack of diversity in the experiences for the majority of, especially young, people in a “free-market” economy.
Kelly Clarkson is back and better than ever!
The 32-year-old singer released “Heartbeat Song” Sunday—her first single since giving birth to daughter River Rose Blackstock seven months ago. And? It’s upbeat, catchy and everything you’d expect from a Kelly hit! (Read More)
Sia is firing back at those saying that her latest video for Elastic Heart contains pedophilia. The video features actor Shia LaBeouf, 28, and dancer Maddie Ziegler, 12, who also starred in the singer’s ultra-popular Chandelier video, in a dirty birdcage, fighting with each other for a way out. (Read More)
To know more information of the music video click here.
Sia, the singer who has the hit song Chandelier throughout radio stations for a while, has just released her new single – Elastic Heart.
Shia LaBeouf and his nude trunks are trapped in a cage for Sia’s just-released “Elastic Heart” music video and … well, it’s as weird as it sounds. (Read More)
We just love the way Ariana Grande and Big Sean are starting off 2015!
The young Hollywood couple proved any talk of relationship struggles is nonsense after sharing a variety of pictures from their winter getaway. In a span of 30 minutes, the “Love Me Harder” singer couldn’t help but share a few PDA moments from her trip. (Read More)