Results for Taylor Swift

interviews

Torres

Georgia-born musician Mackenzie Scott emerged out of the Nashville scene in 2013 with a critically-lauded debut under the moniker Torres. Her 2015 followup Sprinter, recorded with PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, has earned even more acclaim, including a spot in Greg's Best of 2015 (So Far) list. Torres joined Jim and Greg in the studio to discuss her emotionally charged and unconventional songwriting. She became devoted to music early on, idolizing Taylor Swift as a teen and then earning a college degree in songwriting. Her songs are both intensely personal and also sung behind the guise of characters, drawing inspiration from varied sources like the Old Testament and J.D. Salinger. Torres explains how music allows her to confront feelings about her childhood when other methods of communication have failed.

Go to episode 501

Ryan Tedder

Ryan Tedder Next, Jim and Greg chat with performer and songwriter Ryan Tedder. While Tedder is best known as the frontman of the pop rock band OneRepublic, he's also had an extremely successful career writing songs for other artists like Beyoncé, Adele and Taylor Swift. Tedder began a struggling songwriter in Nashville, but eventually producer Timbaland helped OneRepublic rise to popularity by remixing their song "Apologize" in 2007. Jim and Greg ask Tedder about how to write a great pop song and what it's like to work with Queen Bey. They also discuss the longevity of music today and whether the humanity in songwriting is lost.

Go to episode 561
specials

The Moog

The Moog company of Asheville, North Carolina recently announced it would end production on its flagship synthesizer, the Minimoog Voyager. That got Jim and Greg to thinking about the incredible influence the Moog synthesizer has had on rock and pop music since it debuted in 1964. Robert Moog's invention has seen a renaissance in the past decade, as acts ranging from M83 to Future Islands to Taylor Swift have taken inspiration from the synthpop sound.

To get some perspective on the Moog's history and legacy, Jim and Greg turn to Brian Kehew, the former official historian for the Bob Moog Foundation. Kehew also co-founded an all-analog band called Moog Cookbook in the '90s and has worked in the studio with Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and Moog superstars Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In addition to ELP, Kehew points to the following as great synthesizer musicians:

Go to episode 522
reviews
Femme FataleFemme Fatale available on iTunes

Britney Spears Femme Fatale

Britney Spears isn‘t a schoolgirl anymore. Seven albums in, she’s now a record industry veteran, which begs the question: is she over? Her latest album Femme Fatale debuted at #1, but with only 276,000 copies sold. That's nothing compared to artists like Taylor Swift and Eminem. And, as Jim and Greg add, where does Britney fit in these days when you have Katy Perry on one end of the pop spectrum and Lady Gaga on the other? They also wonder where she fits in on her own album, which has 28 songwriters and 13 producers. It's a well-oiled machine, and a very well-produced one, but Britney is almost incidental. Jim calls Femme Fatale soulless and gives it a Trash It rating. Greg doesn't argue with this, but recommends listeners Burn It just to hear the top notch production.

JimGreg
Go to episode 280
reputationreputation available on iTunes

Taylor Swift reputation

Taylor Swift has been the most dominant pop star of the last decade, selling record-setting numbers of albums and winning 10 Grammy Awards (two for album of the year.) She's back for her 6th studio album, reputation, which she collaborated on with star producers Max Martin, Shellback and Jack Antonoff. Jim compares reputation to a brand new, state-of-the-art Tesla. It's got everything a person could ever want, but it's just too perfect. While he thinks that Swift is a talented lyricist and performer, he's irritated that she's still letting petty feuds with Kanye West and various ex-boyfriends dominate her music. However, Jim believes there are some solid pop moments on reputation and gives it a Try It. Greg agrees that as a writer and performer, Taylor is one of the strongest in the pop landscape. However, he finds the record to be sonically overproduced and feels Swift is less relatable because of some of the superficial content she sings about on reputation. For Greg there are highlights of pop brilliance ("Getaway Car") and his favorite track is the stripped-down acoustic closer "New Year's Day." He thinks it's the embodiment of Swift's strengths and she's singing about something genuine. Greg gives reputation a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 625
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Deluxe Edition)My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy available on iTunes

Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West knows how to get into the headlines. He's bumped heads with everyone from Matt Lauer to Taylor Swift to President Bush. But, it's important not to forget: he also knows how to make music. Jim says, OK he's a jerk…John Lennon could also have been a jerk. But what Kanye West achieves on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is nothing short of amazing. He combines Iron Maiden with King Crimson; robotic humming and what Greg calls "classical opulence." Greg compares West to ambitious artists like Brian Wilson and Marvin Gaye, but notes that what separates him is his inability to censor himself. That gives his music both bravado and vulnerability. Both Jim and Greg give My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 260
MASSEDUCTIONMASSEDUCTION available on iTunes

St. Vincent MASSEDUCTION

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is back with her 5th studio album MASSEDUCTION. St. Vincent has carved out a unique presence as an electronic pop singer-songwriter and teams up with Taylor Swift and Lorde collaborator and producer Jack Antonoff. So what do Jim and Greg think? Jim and Greg disagree hugely on this record. Jim finds the lyrics and melodies to be“schlocky”and too“Broadway.”He admits that St. Vincent isn‘t really his cup of tea and just can’t enjoy the record. Jim gives it a Trash It. Greg on the other hand, genuinely loves this record. He calls it St. Vincent's most personal record to date for being lyrically and vocally emotional and expressive. Greg doesn't hesitate to give MASSEDUCTION a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 620
Man On the Moon, Vol. II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (Bonus Track Version)Man on the Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager available on iTunes

Kid Cudi Man on the Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager

Bringing us full circle, we again think of Kanye West. But this time, we don't ponder his dismissal of Taylor Swift, but rather his influence on a new movement of introspective hip hop. Drake, Lupe Fiasco and now Kid Cudi are all embracing self-examination, as well as rock and roll. And, explains Greg, Cudi is the great existentialist. His new album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, is a continuation of his last concept album. It is full of interesting narratives, wordplay, rock instrumentation and cameos. Both Jim and Greg are hugely impressed and give the record another double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 258
lists

The Best Songs of 2015: Mixtapes

Before we fully jump into 2016, let's say goodbye to 2015 with the year's best singles.

Go to episode 527
news

Music News

Taylor Swift dominated 2014 with her album 1989, selling 3.6 million copies and narrowly beating out Disney's Frozen for the top spot. With only four records achieving platinum status, not even Queen Bey made the cut this year. 2014 also saw a change in how consumers listened to music, as streaming increased 54% and vinyl sales were at their highest since 1991.

Just when people thought they "forgot about Dre", it turns out he was the highest paid musician of 2014 according to Forbes. Dr. Dre made $620 million before taxes, which can be attributed to his success with Beats headphones and collaboration with Apple. In second place is Beyoncé. Rounding out the top five are boomer acts The Eagles, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

For the first time in UK chart history, the ten best-selling albums of the year were British acts. Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Coldplay and One Direction all held prominent places on the list, perhaps signaling that there is another British invasion on the way.

vx2 Sony is reintroducing the Walkman to give music enthusiasts a new old obsession. This Walkman has 128 GB of memory and 60 hours of battery life, and the device is competing with Neil Young's Pono, another high-fidelity music player. Young says his device does not do anything but play music and argues that is what it all should be about.

Go to episode 476

Music News

While Taylor Swift fans may think she made history way back in 1989 by simply being born, the charts will remember Swift for the year 2014, as it marks the first time in twelve years that an artist's album has sold more than one million copies in its debut week. This feat, achieved by Swift's fifth studio album 1989, is no small one given our age of streaming music services and record leaks. That's why the secret to Swift's physical album sales success might just be her recent decision to pull all her music off of streaming music supergiant Spotify. Swift now joins a growing chorus of musicians like Radiohead's Thom Yorke who reject Spotify's business model, one that only pays artists a fraction of a penny for each stream of their songs. Spotify, of course, defends its model, but Swift stands by her assertion that music is art, art is valuable and therefore it should be paid for. And yes, by art she means "Shake It Off."

On the opposite end of the commercial spectrum from superstar Taylor Swift is the self-described “Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band,” Young Fathers. Despite the alternative hip-hop group's relative obscurity, its album, Dead, just won the UK's Mercury Prize, an annual honor given to the best British or Irish album of the year. The win was an upset for more buzzed about artists like FKA Twigs and Damon Albarn, and many criticize the award for favoring obscure bands that are never heard from again. To be fair, well-known and still active acts like PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys have taken the prize home in the past, but whether Young Fathers have staying power or not remains to be seen.

Go to episode 467

Music News

2008 has come to a close, and the numbers are in. According to Nielsen SoundScan's end-of-year report, Taylor Swift was the top-selling artist of 2008. Lil Wayne and Coldplay also had good years, but overall album sales were down a whopping 14%. It's not all bad news for the music industry, however. While physical sales for complete albums continue to plummet, music sales overall are up; more than 1 billion digital tracks were sold. And, profits from concert sales are up 8%. This figure is the result of fewer tickets being sold for more money, and Jim and Greg wonder if consumers will be able to keep up with rising ticket prices in this failing economy.

It looks like digital music sales will only continue to increase. Steve Jobs of Apple has made it even easier for music fans to purchase and download music from the iTunes store by removing all Digital Rights Management software from its files. But, accessibility comes at a price—$1.29 to be exact. Amazon and other online stores have been selling DRM-free files for almost a year, but iTunes was the last to hold out with the labels' demands. So if both Apple and the music industry are winners, where does that leave the consumer?

Pioneering punk guitarist Ron Asheton of the Stooges died this week at the age of 60. While he died at young age, Asheton lived long enough to experience a Stooges reunion and revived fan interest. He is best remembered through his music, in albums like Fun House. And you can listen to Asheton's 2006 interview with Jim and Greg during this Sound Opinions episode.

Go to episode 163

Music News

Just when Taylor Swift is shaking off Spotify, her friend and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is embracing it. In 2014, Sheeran was the most streamed artist on Spotify with over 860 million listens. He also sold more than 1 million copies of his album X in the UK alone, proving it is possible for an artist to have albums available to stream, while still selling physical copies. Sheeran says Spotify helps him do what he does best, and he is embarking on a world tour starting out at Wembley Stadium in July.

Bill Withers, Lou Reed and Joan Jett are just a few of the musicians about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. However one selection in particular has Jim and Greg scratching their heads: Green Day. The band becomes 1 of only 48 H.O.F. members who were admitted in their first year of eligibility. This feat is normally reserved for the Willie Mays-like musical figures, so this choice left our critics a little confused. Also, Greg and Jim note glaring omissions with the bands Chic, Kraftwerk and Nine Inch Nails.

Go to episode 473

Music News

Garth Brooks continues his quest against iTunes with the release of his new digital music platform, GhostTunes. Brooks is notoriously one of the big iTunes holdouts, preferring instead to sell his music on his own website. GhostTunes has music by Garth and a number of other atists. One of the biggest differences between the platform and iTunes is the split of profits (80/20 vs. 70/30). This is just the latest in a string of press for Brooks, who recently returned to the music scene with a new album and sold-out arena shows around the U.S.

Taylor Swift suddenly pulling her music from Spotify has its CEO, Daniel Ek, acting like a jilted lover in one of her tracks. The reigning pop princess argued people should always pay for music, while Ek fired back that Spotify has paid more than $2 billion to artists in royalties. That being said, on average, one stream of a song pays an artist only 7/10 of a penny. Ek believes that people will ultimately just get music for free if they don‘t use services like Spotify. So some money is better than none. Apparently he hasn’t gotten the message that Swift is firm in her stance, and they are never getting back together (like ever.)

Go to episode 468

Music News

A number of artists are making news with novel strategies for promoting their upcoming projects. Taylor Swift, whose newest album 1989 is not out until mid October, has engaged her fans through social media, creating tremendous anticipation for the release. This has been helped by a controversial video for the first single "Shake it Off." Fellow pop princess Ariana Grande has announced a collaboration with with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J and will appear at the MTV Video Music Awards with them. That, along with a relationship wtih Target and a slew of other TV commercials, should push Grande to the top. The reclusive electronic artist Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, has taken the most cryptic approach to announcing an album drop. He let fans know about Syro, his first album in 13 years via blimps! So much for a press release. Finally, Bob Dylan will also be releasing a new album…sort of. A new Basement Tapes album produced by T Bone Burnett features songs partially written by Dylan while recording the original Basement Tapes in 1967. They have been set to new music and will be performed by a handpicked group of musicians including Jim James and Elvis Costello.

Go to episode 456

Music News

Last week Jim and Greg endured what is always a career low-point for them: the multi-hour Grammy broadcast. While they are all in favor of honoring artistic achievement, Jim and Greg explain that the Grammys only presented 9 actual awards last week. For the most part, it's a show of celebrity spectacle, and one that rakes in big ratings. Of the winners, Beyonce took the most awards home. But, she lost Album of the Year to newcomer Taylor Swift. Jim and Greg wouldn't fight for any of the nominees to win, and instead point to the Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll as a better measure of the year's best albums.

Despite winning Album of the Year and having the top-selling album of 2009, Taylor Swift hasn't gotten a lot of Sound Opinions airtime. Jim and Greg give a quick listen to Fearless to see if it's worth the hype. Jim isn‘t sure she’s the most interesting role-model for teenage girls, and doesn‘t think she’d have such acclaim if she wasn‘t quite the looker. But, Greg hears a lot of relatable content on her album. He thinks she could develop into a credible artist, but for now she’s just a tween, not a queen.

Last week Jim and Greg reported on the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. This week they check in with Seth Hurwitz, one of the country's leading independent promoters and owner of the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. Hurwitz testified at the Senate hearings on the merger last year and expressed concern over lack of competition in the industry. Now his concerns are reality. As he explains to Jim and Greg, the agreement's monopoly firewalls provide no consolation. And while Hurwitz feels secure in his business for the time being, he's worried about a time when Live Nation/Ticketmaster scoops up all of the mid-level acts that have so far avoided corporate arenas. He also warns about major ticket price increases.

Go to episode 219

Music News

Taylor Swift, not surprisingly, continues her hit-making reign with a new #1 album called Red. But how she arrived at this top slot is curious, especially considering music industry trends. Her record label Big Machine kept the album off streaming services during its first week. That might've forced fans out to the retail outlets. However, it contradicts the success Mumford and Sons was able to achieve with the heavily-streamed Babel. There's just no making sense of rock and roll.

The votes have been tallied and the results are in! No, not those results. The Mercury Prize, of course. Britain's prestigious music prize has been awarded to the“Boffin Rock”band Alt-J. These young lads beat out Django Django, Richard Hawley and Field Music, among others. What will they do with their 20,000GBP? Dinner with Mum and Dad, of course.

Go to episode 363

Music News

First up in the news is Billboard's annual list of the year's biggest money makers in the music industry. The chart magazine compiled the list using CD and digital sales, publishing royalties and touring. And while most of the artists at the top still sell records, the majority made the cut because of their hugely successful blockbuster tours. At #1 is U2, who raked in more than $108 million in 2009, mostly through their gigantic 360-degree tour. The band is followed by Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, though a number of younger acts also made the cut including The Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift. Two glaring omissions: Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas, neither of whom toured in 2009.

In more Billboard news, Sade is at the top of the charts for the third week in a row with her new release Soldier of Love. She's sold more than 800,000 records. Jim and Greg were interested to see so many adult-skewing artists on the charts, including Johnny Cash and Susan Boyle. It's the older consumers who are continuing to purchase physical product. However, they note that these sales numbers wouldn't have gotten an artist into the Top 50 ten years ago.

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Go to episode 223

Music News

In the technological age, many musicians take advantage of devices like iPhones and MacBooks to help them record music (like ideas for riffs, lyrics or melodies.) Apple realized how frequently people use the memos feature for this purpose and has created a new app called Apple Music Memos. It apparently will have more musician-friendly features, like the ability to loop and add additional instruments to a track. The audio will also be easier to send to collaborators and friends. So why is this news? Because artists as big as Taylor Swift use the iPhone memos feature to record music. This shows that with the advent of simple DIY recording methods, more and more people are creating and recording their own music (whether they are famous or not.)

Not to be outdone, Spotify is also making improvements. Think the Coke-Pepsi wars. They've acquired music services Soundwave and Cord Project. Soundwave's main function was as a communication platform for users around the world to discuss the music, and Cord Project was a tap-and-talk messaging service. Clearly Spotify wants to expand its communication features to make it more of an active application, rather than something just played in the background. Although it still outshines Apple Music with its number of users, Spotify is taking these additional steps to level the social playing field.

Go to episode 531

Music News

After recovering from the intense musical spectacle at this year's Superbowl, viewers were ready for the Grammy Awards. But, it seems 11% less viewers were ready. Those that tuned in witnessed Beck's surprise win for Album of the Year and the coronation of Sam Smith as pop music's new prince. But, they also had to sit through an out-of-left field tribute to ELO and bizarre performance pairings including Jessie J and Tom Jonesand Ed Sheeran and Herbie Hancock.

As always, Jim and Greg note that the collection of Grammy-winning tunes and albums does not provide an accurate picture of what was really the best of 2014. A better barometer has always been the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll of critics. This year's list includes D'Angelo, St. Vincent and even Taylor Swift. An even better barometer? Sound Opinions' Best Albums of 2014, of course!

Go to episode 481

Music News

Pope Francis just completed his first“sold-out tour”of the United States. Now you can own your own souvenir, as the Pope is putting out a pop album called Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward! To Greg, the record has a progressive rock feel, falling somewhere between Yes and Yanni. Jim notes that the Pope wasn't exactly in the studio laying down some“tasty licks,”as producer Don Giulio Neroni arranged the music around Francis‘ famous speeches. If the Pope is trying to speak directly to the population, a pop album isn’t a bad way to do it.

This week, Taylor Swift's album 1989 charted its 48th week on Billboard, and one musician is riding the coattails of that success. Alt country singer Ryan Adams released a track for track cover of 1989 and received more attention than ever. Jim thinks that without Swift's songs, there's no way Adams would be on the Billboard charts. He also references an article highlighting the "mansplaining" idea that people can only realize the strength of Swift's songwriting when a white male performs the tracks. Greg thinks that Adams is doing some solid marketing, as his music hasn‘t been relevant in 15 years. What do you think of Adams’ covers? Let us know!

Go to episode 514

Music News

When they looked back at the end of the last decade, Jim and Greg described American Idol as one of the only major juggernauts in the music industry. Now, only a couple of weeks later, it looks like that monolith is crumbling. Simon Cowell has announced plans to depart the show, which debuted last week, to launch a U.S. version of The X Factor. In addition to being a major part of Idol, Cowell was a force behind the career popularity of Susan Boyle and British X Factor Leona Lewis. Jim and Greg wonder if Idol will be able to produce another Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood without Cowell. And, they wonder if X Factor will be the hit-maker to watch.

A world away from the American Idol business machine is a UK website called SlicethePie. Artists can use this site to get direct funding from fans, who in return receive a copy of the album, an exclusive relationship with the band, and possibly, a return on their investment. According to the site the standard deal is about a 16 cent return for every 1.63 invested per 1,000 albums sold. Now Slicethepie has announced its first real success story. U.K. rock act Scars on 45 has graduated from the fan-supported site to land a deal with Atlantic Records/Chop Shop Records. Chop Shop is run by Alexandra Patsavas, who supervised music on a number of Hollywood projects including Twilight, The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy. So, keep your ears open for Scars on 45 music the next time you tune into a primetime soap.

The 2009 numbers are officially in…but they aren't exactly clear. According to Nielsen SoundScan, overall music industry sales are up 2.1%. But as Jim and Greg explain, that's not necessarily worth celebrating. Album sales, which still account for the majority of revenue, are actually down 13%. What has gone up are digital music sales — and those don't add up. Of course, as Jim says, overhead with digital music is much, much lower. And, certain artists do have cause to break out the champagne, for example, Taylor Swift, who was the number one artist of 2009. She was followed by a phenom (Susan Boyle), and a recently departed (Michael Jackson). Michael Jackson wasn't the only posthumous winner. The number one selling album of the entire decade was by a group that stopped making music four decades ago: The Beatles.

Go to episode 216

Music News

After welcoming new listeners on Connecticut Public Radio, Jim and Greg talk about the Nielsen SoundScan report for 2010. Eminem's Recovery was the biggest selling album of 2010, but the year's biggest selling artist for the second time in three years was Taylor Swift. Album sales continued to trend downward, but music purchases were actually up overall. So more and more people are listening to music than ever – especially rap and country music. And vinyl had its best year since SoundScan began tracking numbers in 1991.

Go to episode 268

Music News

Last Friday a New York judge denied a motion proposed by singer-songwriter Kesha Rose Sebert–known widely as Kesha–that her 10-year contract with Sony Music be dismissed. Kesha claimed her producer, Lukasz“Dr. Luke”Gottwald physically, sexually and emotionally abused her, and she wished to record music outside her current label. Gottwald has denied these allegations. Upon the judge's ruling that the contract remain valid, scores of fans as well as music superstars took to social media to post the rallying cry #FreeKesha. Taylor Swift even donated $250,000 to Kesha“to help with any of her financial needs during this trying time.”The case is ongoing, and the fight is sure to be a difficult one for Kesha. The music industry has a long history of musicians on the losing end of battles to break free from their contracts.
Kesha

Gwen Stefani's Make Me Like You live music video that aired during the Grammy Awards is being regarded as a watershed moment in music marketing. In a four-minute commercial break sponsored by Target, which invested roughly $12 million into the performance. Stefani performed alongside 40 performers on 11 different sets, cycling through 7 separate costumes, all live. In the midst of live-TV-event-mania (e.g. Grease: Live, The Wiz Live!), it's possible this trend will carry over beyond Stefani's performance to the rest of the music world and future album promotions. Greg will be watching to see if this exposure does good things for Stefani's album, This is What the Truth Feels Like, when it drops March 18.

Go to episode 535

Music News

The annual Lollapalooza music festival brought over 300,000 fans to Chicago's Grant Park last weekend. Festivals like Lolla have become huge sources of revenue for music corporations, primarily attracting“millennials”interested in hearing newer pop and electronic acts. Jim thinks the nature of the festival is the reason for the primarily young audience – it provides younger listeners with the chance to party with their friends while enjoying their favorite music. But Jim notes that the hundreds of hospitalizations and dozens of arrests make the festival unnecessarily dangerous. Despite the younger audience, Friday headliner Paul McCartney attracted a large number of fans to his performance, but Greg says he's an exception to the rule. While older acts can sometimes be out of place at these sort of festivals, Greg and Jim are both doubtful that any current pop act – save Taylor Swift – could attract the same number of fans as a McCartney. Both hosts think the concept of the music festival needs to be redesigned to suit the needs of the modern audience.

Go to episode 506

Music News

Unless you‘ve been hiding in a cave, it’s been impossible to escape "Hello," the new single from British singer Adele. It sold 1.11 million copies in its first week – only Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" has ever sold more in a single week span. Adele is basically a music industry unto herself. In recent years, only Taylor Swift has come close in terms of sales.“Hello,”a 5-minute piano ballad, features production by Greg Kurstin, who has also worked with big names like Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. It remains to be seen if Adele's new album takes her into uncharted territory, or is just a continuation of her previous work.

Tragedy struck a nightclub in Bucharest, Romania on October 30 when the metal band Goodbye to Gravity's stage pyrotechnics started a fire. 32 people died and hundreds were injured. This launched an unprecedented wave of protests against the perceived lax enforcement of laws, culminating in the resignation of Romanian Prime Minster Vincent Porta. This kind of tragedy has happened too frequently, including the deadly 2003 fire at a Great White concert in Rhode Island. Jim is dumbfounded that any band would still use fireworks at an indoor concert.

Go to episode 519

Music News

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently released an official Spotify playlist for her 2016 campaign, featuring the likes of Katy Perry and Ariana Grande. Jim doubts that Clinton made the playlist herself, suggesting that the featured artists are more in tune with the tastes of a young campaign staffer. But President Obama's playlist is more authentic, featuring tracks by The Tempations, The Isley Brothers, and even one of Jim's favorite bands, Low Cut Connie. But this isn‘t to say that Obama’s playlist is flawless – Jim is sorely disappointed by the Coldplay pick.

Speaking of presidential candidates, New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently issued a statement proclaiming his adoration for Bruce Springsteen. The politician writes that the Boss“gave voice to the suburban kids like me who were filled with dreams and doubts. He was one of us.”Christie goes so far as to say "Born to Run is my Desert Island disc." Greg is surprised by the pick, given Christie's preference for Bon Jovi, another New Jersey native. Jim thinks that his home state has quite a lot to be embarrassed about these days.

From time to time Jim and Greg like to sit down and take a look at the Billboard Chart to discuss the country's most popular albums. Country rocker Luke Bryan is at #1 with his new album Kill the Lights, but Jim doesn‘t see what’s so great about this seemingly generic country music. Familiar artists Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift continue to dominate, with the #2 and #7 records, respectively. Greg is happy to see former The Voice contestant Melanie Martinez on the charts, a former member of Jim's favorite artist Adam Levine's team. And let's not forget about the #8 artist, Bullet for my Valentine, a Welsh heavy metal band that Jim and Greg just can't get enough of. But perhaps the most interesting chart topper this week is Elvis Presley, whose retrospective album Elvis Forever is selling big in your local Post Office.

Go to episode 509

Music News

The end of year numbers are in, and the the music industry has something to celebrate. Sales increased by 3% in 2012, driven mostly by digital music. And, what was long suspected has now been confirmed: Adele has topped the charts two years in a row, making her the first artist in the SoundScan era to do this. 2012's other big winners? Taylor Swift, One Direction, Justin Bieber, and the only act in this year's top 10 to come close to "rock" - Mumford & Sons. At least Jim and Greg can take solace in the fact that vinyl sales were up yet again.

Go to episode 372

Music News

Taylor to Kanye: Nanny nanny boo boo. The country pop singer has reason to gloat this week. First week sales for Taylor Swift's album Speak Now hit a million in only its first week. Only 16 albums have achieved this feat since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. And, Jim and Greg add, this is especially significant in an age when digital music is king.

Also in the news is the death of Ari Up, one of the founders of the influential female punk band The Slits. Born Ariana Forster, the singer had a long battle with cancer, and her death was announced by her stepfather, and fellow punk icon, John Lydon. Forster was just 14 years old when she put together the band that would later merge dub reggae with punk. Jim and Greg play The Slits' "Typical Girls" to honor a girl that was anything but.

Go to episode 258

Music News

While more visual spectacle than musical, the MTV Video Music Awards have come and gone again, and what's most interesting is what didn't happen, rather than what did. And by“what”we mean controvery. After the Parents Television Council urged MTV to avoid a repeat of last year's Miley Cyrus twerk-fest, the watchdog group announced that they were mostly pleased with the more family-friendly content. But, the PTC did express concerns about the way women were portrayed. Guess they missed Sofia Vergara's Emmy posing.

And there were still some naked performances…Deadspin released the isolated vocals from both Taylor Swift and Beyonce's appearances. They added a spectrum analysis layer to show how well each singer stayed on pitch. Beyonce fared better, but Jim can sympethize with Miss Swift; only a capella singers sound great without musicians.

bush

Also making news, music fans around the world are celebrating the comeback of the great British singer Kate Bush. After 35 years being offstage, she received an enthusiastic response after announcing "Before the Dawn," a run of 22 shows, which sold out in 15 minutes! Fans (some say including Madonna, Lily Allen and Bjork) watched as Bush opened the first show at London's Hammersmith Apollo with "Lily," from the 1993 album Red Shoes. Bush says she was encouraged to return to performing by her son, Bertie. The show was incredibly elaborate and theatrical- hopefully not too exhausting for Kate.

We also say welcome back to Prince and his longtime frenemy Warner Bros Records. His Purple Majesty will release two new albums at the end of September, marking the end of one of the longest-running employment disputes in musical history. Prince fell out with the label in the early 1990's, prompting him to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol and appear in public with the word“slave”across his face. Now he plans to release two albums: Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum with his all-female band, 3rd Eye Girl.

Rounding out the news, Jim and Greg discuss the idea of the perfect length for a pop song. Long ago technology dictated the length of a tune. A 78 vinyl record came in two sizes—a 10-inch that held 3 minutes of music and a 12-inch that held 4. Midway through the rock ‘n’ roll era, songs like "Stairway to Heaven" blew out those conventions. And certainly, with the digital music revolution, all bets should be off, right? Not so. Brevity is the soul of Top 40. And a radio station in Calgary, Alberta is taking that philosophy to the extreme. 90.3 AMP is telling listeners they will no get“twice the music.”In fact, they'll hear half a song. The station will be editing its plays in order to keep listeners from getting bored. In effect, this is the 140 character limit of music.

We don‘t endorse this approach, but here’s our own celebration of "Short but Sweet" tracks

Go to episode 457

Music News

Susan Boye Last week Jim and Greg reviewed the new album by The Black Eyed Peas, and this week they were sure it would be a #1 hit. But if there's anyone that can give the Peas a run for their money, it's…Susan Boyle? The Britain's Got Talent winner is the top seller of the week with her new album The Gift, beating out not only The Black Eyed Peas, but Kanye West and Taylor Swift. This news is further evidence that the physical album chart is dominated by people who still buy physical albums, a.k.a.“older folks.”Which leads to the next story…

Billboard has recognized that its standard album chart might not be a fully accurate representation of what's“popular”in music. In today's world, an artist's tweets, followers, fans, friends and hits are just as important indicators as record sales. So with that in mind they've launched the new Social 50. At the top of Social 50 are artists like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem and Nicki Minaj – all performers who sell records. But the chart also has the potential to recognize non-traditional acts like Widespread Panic, Girl Talk and Robyn, who consistently sell out shows, but don't have a big retail presence. Jim and Greg welcome Billboard to the 21st century.

Still shopping for holiday gifts and got a few thousand to spare? Well, you could get your loved one the original lyrics to Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are a-Changin." And by a few thousand we mean $300,000. That's how much the sheet of unruled notebook paper is expected to go for at an upcoming auction. December certainly seems to be the month of rock memorabilia sales. Johnny Cash's jumpsuit, which he wore during his concert at San Quentin and made famous in this image, went for $50,000. Michael Jackson's glove sold for $300,000, and a decades old legal letter featuring John Lennon's original lyrics to "I'm Only Sleeping" is expected to go for over $500,000.

Go to episode 263