Karen O says the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, Mosquito, was recorded during "dark times" — while guitarist Nick Zinner was going through a breakup, O herself was working through an "identity crisis" after moving back to New York from L.A. for a while. (Meanwhile, drummer Brian Chase had to put up with two depressed people.) O: "So whenever we'd go into our studio space, we would just try and play music that was as uplifting and cheerful. The music is more of a prescription for what we were feeling. It was like a pep talk." On this, Mosquito's first single, we have Karen working it out alongside the yearning blast of a gospel choir swell, shaking and strutting her blues right off. Now this is quality therapy on the cheap.
So, Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali. The Grammys did their job. Order has been maintained. What happens next? Here are my predictions: Babel will return to the top of the albums chart next week. Jay Pharoah’s inevitable yellow suit-and-headband Frank Ocean parody will be relegated to “Weekend Update,” rather than get its own stand-alone sketch, on SNL. The guy from Fun. will regret wearing capris. A jingle that sounds like The Black Keys will appear in a Radio Shack commercial. Jack White will record a new 45 with three of the models from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video. And nothing that happened Sunday night will matter when it comes to how our culture ultimately judges the value (or lack thereof) of these artists, or the many other artists who made notable music that had no chance of being nominated.
Say you want to care about the Grammys. Say you love music, and also television, and also the packaging of live music entertainment on television. But say that, for whatever reason — the Grammys' undying inability to fulfill their mission statement of accurately reflecting a harmonious blend of the critically acclaimed and the mass approved usually causes the telecast to devolve into an aggressively disjointed mess, perhaps? Or maybe just a childhood trauma-derived flat affect? — you can't muster any enthusiasm. Be easy, glass-half-empty person: Grantland's here to help. We've broken down the performers roster, we've analyzed the nominees, we've scoured the innuendo, and now we've got story lines to keep you scintillated and piqued and feeling, maybe for the first time ever, truly alive. Read now, and avoid falling asleep into your Cheesy Poofs on Sunday night.
We're now entering day two of Breezy vs. Lonny Breaux, and the allegations, innuendos, and rumors are raining down hard and heavy. So, OK, take a deep breath, put on the kettle, and then have yourself a little sit-down. We'll get through this together.
First, the cold, hard facts about the recording-studio-parking-lot brawl — the instigation of which each camp is blaming on the other — courtesy of the good people at the L.A. County Sheriff's Department: Frank Ocean is considering pressing charges. He'll need some evidence first, presumably, and may end up deciding it's not quite worth his time. (Some worthy pursuits he might consider to fill that void: making more dope music; playing with his pet Bernese mountain dog, Everest; just generally continuing to be Frank Ocean.) But for now, L.A. County Sheriff's spokesperson Steve Whitmore says, Ocean is "desirous of prosecution." He then added, straightforwardly, "We’ll find out what happened," dashing all hopes that the L.A. County Sheriff's office has in its employ a spokesperson who talks in the manner of an old-timey, silver-tongued Wild West lawman and/or Yoda.
You couldn't have scripted this better: On Sunday night at Los Angeles's Westlake Studios, Chris Brown, arguably the most media-reviled figure in pop music, got into a fight with Frank Ocean, arguably the most media-beloved. And while hearing the factions involved may lead you to immediately ascribe the brawl to a clashing of the value systems the two R&B stars willingly or otherwise represent, it appears, at this point at least, that it wasn't all that heavy. More specifically: Brown and Ocean may have been fighting over a parking spot.
TMZ reported the news via "sources connected with Chris," and, surprise! — those sources say Frank started it: "As Chris went to leave [the studio], Frank Ocean and his crew blocked Chris from leaving. The sources say Frank said, 'This is my studio, this is my parking spot.' We're told Chris went to shake Frank's hand and that's when one of Frank's people attacked Chris one of Chris' friends jumped in front and hit Frank's friend Frank then came at Chris Chris pushed him away and they started brawling."
Kevin Devine: "I'd love to speak to Leonard; he's a sportsman and a shepherd; he's a lazy bastard living in a suit." So opens the 912-year-old master's 372nd album (both rough estimates) of wry and holy meditations on the liminal spaces between sex and spirituality, the immediate and the infinite. The best living lyricist by an unfair distance.
Over the past nine months, the two members of OutKast, Big Boi and André 3000, have produced statements in the form of lyrics, tweets, and interview responses that at times signal a potential reunion, and at other times drive home the point that the end isn't just near; it's here.
First, the bad:
There was Big Boi's July tweet, in response to why André was on Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter" and not him:
Dre didn't want an OutKast Record Coming out on anybody else LP RT @joeyde_: whhhaaaaaa @bigboi why werent you on it to begin with?!
The question was asked, because both Big Boi and André spent time in the studio separately, while Ocean's channel ORANGE was being made, but as we now know, only one made the final cut. And, according to that tweet, we have a hunch why.
The illustriously shirtless Trey Songz — the R&B paramour behind such bedroom jams as "Love Faces," "Neighbors Know My Name," and "I Invented Sex" — is making his movie debut this weekend in Texas Chainsaw 3D, the latest installment of the pluckily resilient horror franchise. This time, a young lady road-trips with her friends to a small Texas town to claim a mysterious inheritance from a newly discovered grandma, and — surprise! — Leatherface shows up to do some chainsaw massacrin'. Songz plays the young lady's boyfriend, and is barely in the trailer ... although he does get to drop an instantly immortal line of dialogue: "Look like Granny liked to play a little pool." And, somehow, it all makes perfect sense: There's something about the lasciviousness of Songz and the human-skin-mask-making of 'Face that just goes together. And so the primary question going forward is: Which R&B heartthrob should go the slasher flick route next? A few suggested pairings, below.
Hey, we've been gone a while! Since before Christmas, to be exact. And seeing as you've surely spent that time stomping joyously through mountain passes and heartily breathing crisp, fresh, wintry mountain air and expertly plucking fish out of mountain creeks with your bare hands and otherwise avoiding the Internet in favor of life-affirming mountain-based recreational activities, let's catch up on what we missed. The Last Week in Pop Culture Review starts … right now.
Do you love Sosa? Have you been thinking about you? Are you concerned we might die young? Have we got a podcast for you! Live from Grantland's Los Angeles studio, Chris Ryan and I — along with special guest Rembert Browne — broke down the year in music, mourning the dead (albums, rock and roll) and toasting the living (R&B, Swedish Svengalis, Rihanna's travel agent). All your favorites (or at least ours) are included: Kendrick Lamar, Twin Shadow, Miguel, Japandroids, Fiona & Frank, not Mumford & Sons. It's been fun, 2012! But seriously: After next week, we are never, ever getting back together. (I'll see myself out, thanks.)
2012 is an interesting time to release music for the masses. Artists of all levels and varying degrees of cultural importance are feverishly attempting to figure out the most efficient way to get the public excited about their music without giving it all away, and hopefully making a few dollars somewhere along the way. Some struggle with accidental leaks, while others purposefully leak. It's very much still the Wild West, with no one truly mastering the art form.
For today's edition of Songs of the Week, we turn to L.A. punk rockers (and past SOTW honorees) FIDLAR. Their name stands for "Fuck It, Dog, Life's a Risk," they write perfect, two-minute bangers about drinking and smoking, and they have some very well-developed opinions about Taylor Swift. Take it away, FIDLAR drummer Max Kuehn and bassist Brandon Schwartzel:
On Wednesday, Passion Pit announced, for the second time this month, that it was canceling and rescheduling tour dates. The first time, front man Michael Angelakos explained, via a post on the band's website, that "in order for me to ensure that there will be no further disruptions, I am going to take the time to work on improving my mental health." This time, in a collective statement, the band says "We're sorry to let you know that we need to postpone our upcoming weekday shows in Colorado and Salt Lake City in order for Michael to continue to improve his mental health and complete a procedure that week." In the background for all this is a Pitchfork profile of Angelakos that goes in depth about the mental health issues referenced in the statements. In the piece, Larry Fitzmaurice charts Angelakos's medical problems, starting off with a 2009 SXSW gig that came right as the band was really starting to take off: