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by Zeth Lundy

18 Feb 2009

It’s about time that Elvis Costello’s wife, pianist and singer Diana Krall, appeared on Spectacle (airing Wednesdays at 9pm EST/PST on the Sundance Channel)—after all, the cameras cut to her in the audience on most episodes, just another face in the crowd, a face that just so happens to be wed to the series’ host. So for this penultimate episode of the series, the spotlight’s hers. She appears alongside bassist Christian McBride and drummer Karriem Riggins, who back her up on a few terrific performances, including Nat King Cole’s “Exactly Like You” and the instrumental standard “Night Train”.

In order to provide some critical distance, the show’s executive producer, Elton John, appears as guest host—though very quickly he divulges that the two have been friends for nearly ten years, so I suppose “critical distance” may not be the apt term here. John has never interviewed anyone on television before, he points out at the start, and it’s obvious; still, he shares a pleasant rapport with Krall, makes a number of off-stage asides and witticisms to the crowd, and grooves out unabashedly during the performance pieces while leaning against the piano. The two talk piano and jazz and pop, covering Fats Waller, Bill Evans, Joni Mitchell, and Krall’s favorite, Cole. When they perform John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” together, the results are less than stunning (“lounge-caliber indulgence” is the term that springs to mind), but not as bad as when the two tumble through an awkward, eerily lecherous “Making Whoopee” with Costello at the show’s end.

by PopMatters Staff

18 Feb 2009

The latest T.I. video with Justin Timberlake on vocals and piano is playing over at MTV, but you can catch it here…


by Diepiriye Kuku

18 Feb 2009

Chris, beat that bitch witta bat! The night of the 2009 Grammy Awards, R&B teen-idol Chris Brown turned himself into criminal authorities for battering his girlfriend, pop princess Rihanna. At the BET Awards last year, Chris stole the stage with label-mate Ciara, while his lady watched and cheered from the crowd. The duo claimed any heir to the Beat Street, break-dance moves of the early ‘80s wedded to Paula Abdul/Janet Jackson collaborations of the late ‘80s and ‘90s, or the pop-lock-and-drop-it of today. And Chris can get real Krump! Audiences this year certainly looked forward to Chris and Rihanna’s scheduled performances this year.

‘Beat that bitch witta bat! Beat that bitch witta bat!’ This was one of the most popular House songs in the black gay club in my city during my high school years. Queens and the dancers amongst them like me from the local school of the arts, could be found grinding against one another in the splits on the floor. The singers presses there faces against the mirror, screaming in high falsetto, as we break it down- literally. The Percolator is still one of the fiercest streaks to come from that scene.

“I’m gonna get me a shotgun, baby, and stash it behind the bedroom door. I may have to blow your brains out, baby. Then you won’t bother me no more.”

Much like the lyrics cited above from Eric Clapton’s 1998 “Sick and Tired”, pop anthems celebrate the physical abuse, rape and coercion of women. Despite whatever undertones The Prodigy may have meant, it is probable that crowds only heard violence with their 1997 “Smack My Bitch Up!” Certainly hip-hop is the most explicit to do so to date, yet the natural inequality of women has always been a quality in American popularized culture. See: NWA’s 1989 “Slam her ass in a ditch”; Notorious B.I.G.’s “Kick in the door wavin’ the four-four / All you heard was poppa don’t hit no more.”

by PopMatters Staff

18 Feb 2009

Athens, Georgia-based Kuroma make New York City the star of their new video for “In New York, Everything Is Tropical”. It features a pop art style, scenes from all over the city and direction from Adam Neustadter. Kuroma frontman Hank Sullivant explains that the video/song is “not parodic or contradictory or just referential. It is a minor and indifferent accumulation of certain trashed elements of pop and pop video, including pop parody itself. New York is a place of terror and stereotype and commercialism and art, but most importantly it is the place where these things synthesize in the most sublime way.” It’s pretty catchy too with a hooky melody and jagged chord riffs. The band is also touring with Primal Scream in the coming weeks (tour dates below).


2/24 - Savannah @ SCAD at the River Club
3/16 - Los Angeles @ Nokia Live*^
3/17 - San Francisco @ Fillmore*^
3/19 - Austin @ SXSW: Official Green Label Sound Party @ Opal Divine’s
3/20 - Austin @ SXSW
3/22 - Chicago @ Metro*
3/24 - Toronto @ The Phoenix*
3/26 - Philadelphia @ Trocadero*
3/27 - Washington, DC @ 930 Club*
3/28 - New York @ Webster Hall*
4/09 - Vancouver @ The Media Club
4/10 - Seattle @ Vera Project
4/13 - Fargo @ Aquarium
4/14 - Minneapolis @ 7th St. Entry
4/15 - Sioux Falls @ Nuttys North
4/16 - Des Moines @ Vaudville Mews
4/17 - Chicago @ Av-Aerie
4/18 - Toronto @ Sneaky Dees
4/19 - Montreal @ Il Motore
4/21 - New York @ Mercury Lounge
4/22 - Brooklyn @ Union Hall
4/24 - Chapel Hill @ Local 506
4/25 - Atlanta @ Drunken Unicorn
4/26 - Memphis @ Hi Tone Café
4/27 - Kansas City @ Czar Bar
4/29 - Denver @ Hi Dive
4/30 - Salt Lake City @ Urban Lounge

* with Primal Scream
^ with Brian Jonestown Massacre

by PopMatters Staff

18 Feb 2009

Ian Mathers said of last year’s Joan as Police Woman album To Survive that it “is probably even a little stronger as an album than Real Life, but it lacks the peaks and valleys that made the latter so compelling… But while it doesn’t quite bring one up short as Real Life did, To Survive does something arguably even more valuable; it shows that the debut was in no way a fluke, and that Joan As Police Woman are in this for the long haul. Here is the new video from that release, “Start of My Heart”. [via Interview Magazine]


//Mixed media

Con Brio: The Best New Live Band in America?

// Notes from the Road

"There’s a preciousness to McCarter and the rest of the mostly young band. You want to freeze the moment, to make sure they are taking it all in too. Because it’s going to change.

READ the article