Mixed Media

Eartha Kitt Dies at 81

| Fri Dec. 26, 2008 2:30 PM EST

Eartha KittLegendary singer and actress Eartha Kitt died yesterday of cancer at age 81. The AP described her as rising "from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality," while the New York Times called her a "seducer of audiences" whose wide-ranging career presaged current entertainers:

Ms. Kitt, who began performing in the late '40s as a dancer in New York, went on to achieve success and acclaim in a variety of mediums long before other entertainment multitaskers like Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler. ... With her curvaceous frame and unabashed vocal come-ons, she was also, along with Lena Horne, among the first widely known African-American sex symbols.

After the jump, video of Kitt singing "Santa Baby," a hit in 1953.

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Melissa Etheridge Meets with Rick Warren, Responds to Controversy

| Tue Dec. 23, 2008 6:37 PM EST

mojo-photo-etheridgewarren.jpgSinger Melissa Etheridge has posted a statement about the Rick Warren "wrangle" at HuffPo in which she describes meeting the pastor at an event for the Muslim Public Affairs Council over the weekend. She called the pastor "very thoughtful" and said he "regretted" comparing gays to pedophiles:

On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids.

Hooray?

2008 Box Office Champs Prove Americans Like Flying Guys, Talking Animals

| Tue Dec. 23, 2008 5:07 PM EST

mojo-photo-darkknightdollars.jpgBox Office Mojo's chart of the past 365 days at the box office has a couple surprises, and none of them are reassuring about our nation's taste in movies. While even a cave-dweller would know that The Dark Knight snagged the most of our hard-earned cash in its batty claws this year, I bet you can't guess the #2 movie, or tell me what three (or four?) kiddie flicks giggled their computer-generated, disturbingly-anthropomorphic ways into the Top 10. It's all pretty depressing, to be honest, so take a deep breath and click "continues" to find out.

Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young Set for Glastonbury; Coachella Rumors Heat Up

| Mon Dec. 22, 2008 4:26 PM EST

Neil Young Bruce SpringsteenWhat better pastime on this dreary winter day than happily imagining ourselves sprawled on the lawn at a summer music festival, trying to catch a glimpse of the performers between the dancing hippies? Festival promoters are even helping with our creative visualizations by making some lineup announcements. The UK Sun reports that Glastonbury has "gone back to basics" this year with two legendary performers set as headliners: Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. God bless those guys, but they're probably the only respectable musicians around who could make co-headliners Blur seem young. Ouch, I know, but for reals. Of course, this is the festival that caused an outburst of creepily-verging-on-racist complaints when headliner Jay-Z was announced for the 2008 edition, although the fact that the rapper ended up cheekily covering Oasis' "Wonderwall" at the show seemed to make it all worthwhile. But you can't help wondering if festival boss Michael Eavis is so desperate to avoid a similar controversy, he's going with the oldest, whitest, most respectable rockers around? (And Blur?) (Why am I being so mean to them?)

After the jump: can we legally start Coachella rumors before January 1?

U2 Set to Release New Album in March

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 5:53 PM EST

U2Irish combo U2 will release a new album, No Line on the Horizon, on March 3, the band's label announced yesterday. Horizon was originally expected this year, but there were some false starts: material recorded in 2006 with producer Rick Rubin was tossed, and longtime U2 collaborators and producers Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite were brought back in; then, as the album was nearing the finishing stages, the band decided it needed two more songs. But I guess they finally finished the thing, and Billboard quotes a source as calling the material "amazing and a little out there." Okay!

Horizon will be U2's twelfth studio album, the follow-up to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which has sold over 9 million copies worldwide since its 2004 release. The band is also planning a 2009 tour as part of its crazy-lucrative stock deal with Live Nation.

After the jump, RX's brilliant edit of George W. Bush doing "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

Christmas Carols Get 8-bit Makeover

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 5:32 PM EST

mojo-8bitsofxmas.gifWhile most music genres race forward, absorbing new sonic technologies like a giant music-box Borg, the 8-bit phenomenon clings proudly to the past—specifically, the restrictive palette of classic computer and video game consoles. Even artists like Beck have seen the appeal of their buzzy, blippy tones; witness the 8-bit remix of "Hell Yes", renamed "Ghettochip Malfunction":

If you liked that, get ready for a very bleepy Christmas.

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Analysis Shows White Dudes Dominated Billboard Charts in 2008

| Thu Dec. 18, 2008 4:01 PM EST

mojo-photo-laweeklychart.jpgBoy, am I glad I didn't have to do the Excel work to come up with these charts. A dogged reporter named Randall Roberts at the LA Weekly has delved into the Billboard Top 10 album and singles charts for every week this year, tallied up demographic data about the artists, and made some dandy little diagrams with the results. It turns out that Americans really like white guys. Whites outnumbered blacks on the charts by 63 to 36 per cent (with Latinos grabbing the leftover 1%), while men outnumbered women on the charts by nearly a 5-to-2 ratio. High five, bros! As far as musical genre goes, R&B/hip-hop dominated the singles charts, while pop/rock commanded the album charts, so, combined, they're just about equal, with country way behind. Other odd statistical revelations include the fact that the South was the region that produced the most Top 10 hitmakers by far (attributable to an "unlikely Southern coalition" of country and R&B) and Rihanna singlehandedly helped her native Barbados to the Top 7 list of foreign countries represented on our charts. Okay, Barbados, you get a high-five too.

Top Ten Awesome Bush Shoe-Toss Animated GIFs

| Tue Dec. 16, 2008 4:39 PM EST

mojo-photo-bushshoe.jpgSometimes the internet might seem like a vast wasteland of empty-headed blogs (ahem!), pornography, and pop-up ads, but then something like this happens, and it renews one's faith in having this series of tubes hooked up to our idea trucks. Or whatever. Journalist Muntather al Zaidi not only expressed Iraqi frustrations at still-President Bush with his famous footwear lob, but also inspired legions of Photoshoppers to create their own chuckle-riffic versions of the event and provide them on their internets for all to see. My ten favorite, via Boing Boing, HuffPo, Wired, and Urlesque after the jump.

The Best Singles of 2008

| Tue Dec. 16, 2008 11:42 AM EST

mojo-photo-bestof2008singles.jpg

What a bonkers year for singles. The undisputed heavyweight champion song of the year, with the magical combo of hipster cred and unexpected popular appeal, is, inarguably, copyright 2007, so any replacement #1 will necessarily feel kind of anticlimactic. I suppose it's stretching it to include MGMT as well, but everybody else is, so I'm going to look the other way. It's a mess. To be honest, I finally settled on 20 great songs and then scrambled the order until it looked right. What emerged on top was at first a surprise, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense: it's a convention-smashing ode to staking a claim on your future, no matter what the haters say.

Johnny Marr Quashes Smiths Reunion Rumor

| Mon Dec. 15, 2008 4:07 PM EST

mojo-photo-oldsmiths.jpgOr, "William, It Was Really Nothing." Ahem. Reports emerged late last week that The Smiths were possibly maybe "on the verge" of a reunion, after lead singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr "settled their differences." The UK Telegraph was reporting that "industry sources believe that a comeback could be imminent." While just about every other band who ever broke up has already reunited, long-suffering Smiths fans likely didn't get their hopes up (mostly because Smiths fans don't really have any hopes to get up) and our abject cynicism and unfettered pessimism was proven right once again, as Marr has forcefully denied the rumors of a reunion to NME:

Marr issued a statement to NME.COM saying that rumours floating around that the band were reuniting were "untrue". He declared: "The stories circulating about a Smiths reunion are, as usual, untrue." Marr added he was committed to his current band The Cribs. "I'm currently very excited about writing and recording with The Cribs for a new album to be released next summer and we're playing shows in February, so going back in time isn't in my plans," he said.

Considering your musical promiscuousness post-Smiths, I'm sure The Cribs totally believe you.