April 25, 2006 |
Put away the acne cream and break out the champagne. This is the year American Idol came of age. Even though Fox's singing contest has been camped atop the Nielsen heap for three years, in the past Idol has always been considered a cheesy, teenybopper fad. But as its audience has continued to expand (up again this season 14 percent), the ultimate karaoke party has become a legitimate monster. "A confluence of cultural factors have made this show not just a hit but a supernova in the TV universe," says John Rash, media buyer for Campbell Mithun, a Minneapolis advertising agency.
March 19, 2006 |
Random questions ran through my mind at the Royalton Hotel while sampling a cocktail called a "Purple Prince" at a listening party for 3121, the new album by the artist formerly known as a glyph. No. 1: Has there ever been a pop musician (outside of maybe Stevie Wonder) so skilled at genre-hopping that he's made everything he does - a killer guitar solo, an effortless falsetto, a super-tight funk jam - seem so easy? No. 2: In a quarter-century-plus career - stretching back to his salacious 1980 breakthrough Dirty Mind on through the new album's creamy "Satisfied" (in which he scolds, "turn off your cell phone, can't you see I just want to get you satisfied?"
February 10, 2005 |
Grammy winner and developer Kenny Gamble said yesterday he had finalized an agreement to bring the Rhythm & Blues Foundation from New York to Philadelphia - the first step in his quest to make this city a destination for fans of a musical style he helped to pioneer three decades ago. Gamble, 61, who created the "Sound of Philadelphia" and recently is known for redeveloping his old neighborhood in South Philadelphia, said he expected the foundation...
October 30, 2004
Task for great orchestra As a musician in Washington who has strong ties to the Philadelphia musical scene (Temple University), I've been reading about the Philadelphia Orchestra contract negotiations. Anyone in the music industry knows that this orchestra is equal to any in the world. It does all of Philadelphia proud. It frustrates me when I read about the problems confronting it. I realize that funding for the arts has suffered with the recession and post-9/11 situation.
July 23, 2004 |
'Beat Society," the monthly at Five Spot that thrusts beat-makers to the forefront, will be on fire Sunday. On noncomputer equipment, 9th Wonder, Nicolay, Serious B and Kenwood will compose. (You can catch Nicolay earlier that day at Crimson Moon promoting Connected, the album he recorded with Little Brother's Phonte as Foreign Exchange.) MURS will be in the house to spit verse over the created beats, while Philly native Lizz Fields sprinkles vocals. The multitalented Peanut Butter Wolf had the foresight to raise a flock that includes Madlib, Quasimoto and Lootpack on his Stones Throw Records, a label that has become the Blue Note of hip-hop.
July 14, 2004 |
In this spring's media swirl surrounding the "comeback" of Prince, there were effusive stories celebrating his unique approach to audio naughtiness, rhapsodic accounts of his skills as an entertainer, memory-lane trips through his groundbreaking funk-rock of the early '80s. The loving glance backward was overdue. But at the same time, it was a little sad because it raised a thorny question: Where are Prince's progeny? In contemporary popular music, who besides Outkast is galvanizing audiences from that slightly threatening outsider zone once known as the black fringe?
April 2, 2004 |
April is upon us, and while the month brings showers for those May flowers, it also brings another installment of "Breakthru Artists" at the Five Spot on Sunday. Not quite an open mike, "Breakthru" does grant artists the opportunity to showcase their talents, only they must audition beforehand. So the acts you see on stage the first Sundays of the month have already shown some skills. "Breakthru" also differs from area talent showcases in that more than one style of music is represented.
October 16, 2003 |
The music industry may finally be discovering a way to combat the rampant free trading of music on the Internet that it says has cost it billions in lost sales. The strategy: offering music-downloading services worth paying for. Today, Apple Computer Inc. is expected to announce the availability of its iTunes Music Store - which has sold more than 10 million 99-cent song downloads to Apple computer users since it began in April - to users of Microsoft Windows computers, a vastly larger market.
October 16, 2003 |
Now here's a fascinating paradox: The record industry lecturing its audience on immorality - the theft of copyrighted music over the Internet. This from an industry that has enriched itself by glorifying infidelity, violence and rebellion, as well as criminal, abusive and other deviant behavior. Meanwhile, you have albums such as 50 Cent's Get Rich, or Die Tryin' (Interscope, a unit of Universal Music Group) and Radiohead's Hail To The Thief (Capitol Records, owned by EMI Group)
September 23, 2003 |
What passes for "bold" in pop music anymore? Is it Britney Spears in cotton panties on the cover of Rolling Stone? 50 Cent's gangsta-authenticating gunshot wounds? The White Stripes' thrift-shop-aesthetic blues makeovers? Take a look around the record shop and you'll find few big thinkers or sonic rebels on the new-release wall. Once a conduit for culture-rattling provocation, pop has become a full-on marketing assault in which success is measured in units sold, not lives enriched or extravagant artistic ambitions realized.