Mixed Media

Grammy Preview: M.I.A. About to Pop, Radiohead On the March?

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 3:40 PM EST
While it's understandable if you're a cynic about the usually-preposterous Grammy Awards, Sunday night's show actually promises some nail-biting races and some dramatic, "will-they-or-won't-they" performances. First of all, singer M.I.A., up for Record of the Year for "Paper Planes," is scheduled to perform, despite the fact that she is very, very preggers. In fact, tomorrow Sunday is apparently her due date, if you can believe it. Will her wee Arulpragasam pop out right at the "ka-ching" noise in "Planes," or will an early arrival force her to cancel? Also upping the drama quotient is Radiohead, who are not scheduled to perform (and have never performed at the Grammys), but rumors are flying all the way to Pitchfork, who seem to believe the Brit combo will play In Rainbows' jazzy, drum-led 5/4 opener "15 Step" accompanied by the USC marching band. Hooray Radiohead, but ugh, marching bands—they're so, you know, "Hollaback Girl." Pitchfork also holds out hope for a Kanye/Radiohead mashup performance, which would make me pleased for Earworm but sad for myself, since it's long been a secret wish to see, for instance, Liam Gallagher wander out on to the Grammys stage for a surprise duet with Green Day—even if I don't get a shout-out. MTV already made some predictions about who will win (Coldplay, yes; Lil Wayne, nope) but I suppose I can try my hand at calling what the wrinkled old geezers in the Recording Academy will vote for without ever having heard it. My predictions in a few categories after the jump.

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LOST: Babies Are Boring

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 3:23 PM EST
After last week's dramatic episode, I had high hopes for LOST's third installment, titled "The Little Prince." Well, I was disappointed. It was dull, dull, dull, punctuated only by overly dramatic music (like when Sun received a very ominous box of Godiva chocolates) and one key revelation. Namely, Jin's not dead! Hurrah!

Copyright Smackdown: AP Goes After Shepard Fairey

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 2:07 PM EST
Via the Associated Press, we learn that the Associated Press is coming after Shepard Fairey for using one of its photos as the basis of his (everyone say it with me!) iconic Obama "Hope" poster. A few weeks ago, a diligent photographer finally ID'd the poster's source image as a shot taken in 2006 by an AP freelancer. The AP is now crying copyright infringement and says it has "reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney." (It's worth noting that when Reuters briefly thought the shot was theirs, they simply asked for credit.) 

Why Are We Obsessed With the Christian Bale Rant?

| Wed Feb. 4, 2009 9:14 PM EST

You take a Monday off, and when you come back, it's like you've emerged into the all-Malkovich world in Being John Malkovich, except it's all Christian Bale, all the time. The Batman actor and apparent douchebag was recorded giving an extended, profanity-filled hard time to the director of photography on his current film project, Terminator Salvation, and the audio was leaked to the media, who immediately whipped themselves into a frenzy like piranhas tossed a bloody steak. But I don't blame the media! Clearly, all humans were suddenly obsessed with this (long) moment of (extremely) inappropriate work behavior. Friends started e-mailing me about it, techno remixes started appearing, Rod Blagojevich referenced Bale in another surreal TV appearance.

Bonnaroo Lineup Includes Springsteen, Beastie Boys, NIN, Extra Phish

| Tue Feb. 3, 2009 8:39 PM EST

mojo-photo-bonnaroo.jpgI know you; you were just sitting there thinking, "Boy, I'd really like to go to Bonnaroo, the long-running Tennessee music festival, this year, but I just don't think one Phish performance will be enough for me." Well, don't fret: Phish will be playing two shows at this year's Bonnaroo, set for June 11-14, way out in the woods or wherever that thing is. You'll be so full of Phish you'll—what, I can't make a joke about "barfing up a tilapia?" Damn you Mother Jones and your editorial standards...

The 'roo has always been the dirty hippie cousin to Coachella's expensive-sunglasses-wearing LA fashion brat, but in all honesty their lineup gets better every year. In addition to that Phish deal, Bonnaroo 2009's got Bruce Springsteen, the Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Wilco, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, and Paul Oakenfold, as well as Party Ben faves TV on the Radio, of Montreal, Santogold and even Robyn, whose haircut is much more Coachella-y.

An interesting development in this year's festival circuit is an apparent acknowledgement of the tough economic situation: you can now pay for your ticket on the installment plan. Both Coachella ($269 + service fees + $3 charity) and Bonnaroo (from $224-$249 + service fees + $3 charity) offer the ability to spread your payments out over time, with Bonnaroo offering five easy payments and Coachella giving you the option to pay in two or three payments. Maybe they should start offering lower-class tickets, where for half price, we'll promise to sit in one spot and not take up room in the beer line?

Full Bonnaroo lineup after the jump.

Stream Entire New Lily Allen Album at MySpace

| Tue Feb. 3, 2009 3:58 PM EST

mojo-photo-lilyallenfearcd.jpgBritish singer-songwriter Lily Allen's second album, It's Not Me, It's You, isn't out 'til next week, but you can listen to the whole thing at her MySpace page, and I recommend you do: it's a charming, affecting album with a subtly edgy electro-pop style.

Allen is just 23 years old, and both her life and her creative output straddle adult wisdom and childlike innocence in a peculiarly 21st-century way. Back in 2005, she was one of the first artists to ride MySpace to mainstream fame, posting demos to her page which quickly ranked up huge numbers of listens. Rock critics looked down their noses at this chirpy pop starlet going about stardom the wrong way, but she slayed them easily with the release of her debut album, Alright, Still, a remarkably astute revivification of the British ska and reggae style of the English Beat era, combined with clever, contemporary lyrics.

Unfortunately, over the last two years, it's seemed like Allen's tabloid fame began to eclipse her talent. Drug and alcohol problems surfaced, and then, most tragically, the singer suffered a miscarriage in early 2008, splitting with the father, Chemical Brother Ed Simons, soon afterwards. After suffering through so much turmoil, it's easy to understand why Allen might turn in a completely different musical direction, and indeed, she seems to have abandoned those loping Jamaican rhythms entirely.

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Video: 1981 Report About "Reading News on Your Computer"

| Fri Jan. 30, 2009 4:16 PM EST

Just imagine! Someday, far in the future, before you jet off in your hovercar to your job on the moon, your robot maid will bring you your morning paper on a computer, where you can read about universal health care! Okay, only one of those things actually ended up happening, although I do pay my house cleaners extra to talk like Twiki. But back in 1981, anything seemed possible, as evidenced by this news report from KRON-TV right here in San Francisco. They describe how, um, the San Francisco Chronicle "programmed" their paper into a computer in Columbus, Ohio (?!!) which one guy in North Beach could access via a gigantic red rotary phone to look at on his TV, "with the exception of pictures, ads, and the comics," after spending two hours to download it, at $5/hour. It's almost too good to be true.

Paul McCartney to Headline Coachella

| Fri Jan. 30, 2009 6:34 AM EST

mojo-photo-coachellamccartney.jpg

Hey, look at that, Goldenvoice has finally announced the lineup for America's Favorite Music Festival and Hipster Haircut Showcase, and it turns out all these random rumors about Britney Spears and Katy Perry were just red herrings (thank God) since all the while they were negotiating with none other than Sir Paul. The former Beatle will headline Friday night at the 3-day event set for April 17-19, and he told the LA Times that he's "really excited to get out there and rock." Neat, but the Times seems a little skeptical about the whole idea, saying it's a bit of a gamble:

Booking the former Beatle, who is listed in the record books as the most successful musician in pop history, would be the safest choice imaginable for most music festivals. But the internationally respected Coachella festival, which is set for April 17-19, has been pulling in crowds of more than 140,000 fans by taking an edgier path with alt-rock heroes you would hear on a college town's pirate radio station. … What remains to be seen is whether the choice will cost the festival credibility with its core clientele: young fans who are more likely to listen to the White Stripes than the "White Album" and who are far more familiar with Rage Against the Machine than "Band on the Run."

Hey, actually, some of us not-so-young fans were really annoyed with the Rage crowd too. Also on the bill are a couple festival veterans, including The Cure (2004), The Killers (2004) and Morrissey (1999), as well as the finally-reunited My Bloody Valentine (on Cure day, natch). Your ridiculously-named DJ is especially excited about Buraka Som Sistema, TV on the Radio, Friendly Fires, Leonard Cohen, and having margaritas in the hot tub. Full lineup after the jump.

Antony and the Johnsons Score Huge European Hit

| Thu Jan. 29, 2009 5:36 PM EST

mojo-photo-antonyalbum.jpgNew York combo Antony and the Johnsons have made what Billboard magazine is calling "a dramatic debut" at No. 1 on their European Albums chart with their new full-length The Crying Light. The album is a Top 5 smash in countries from Sweden to Spain, and beats out both Duffy and Pink in the pan-Euro chart. Light is Antony and the Johnsons' third studio album, coming nearly four years after the Mercury Prize-winning I am a Bird Now, but its popularity may have something to do with singer Antony Hegarty's part in Hercules and Love Affair, whose "Blind" was one of the biggest dance songs of 2008.

The Crying Light, released last week, is getting good, if not stellar, reviews: Pitchfork gives it 8.6 out of 10 hipster points, but most other reviews come in below that. Rolling Stone and The Guardian both offered three out of five stars, with the latter saying the album feels familiar, stuck under "its predecessor's shadow," while acknowledging that Hegarty's voice is an "acquired taste." The album has yet to make much of an impact in the U.S., showing up only at #38 on the iTunes Alternative Albums chart. I'm kind of with the Guardian: I'd listen to Antony, with his rich, strange warble, sing his way through the phone book, but after the blast of shocking originality and heartrending emotion that was I Am a Bird Now, perhaps they could have pushed forward musically just a smidge. It's still beautiful music, though, by anyone's standards. Check out track one below.

"Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground"

LOST: Slowly, Answers Are Coming

| Thu Jan. 29, 2009 4:12 PM EST

Last night's LOST episode, the second of the season, "Jughead," was full of answers. Or not even answers, but new information that gives reasons for answers. Now that the writers have an end date in sight, they seem to be picking up the pace and wrapping things up more tidily than last season. So what did we learn last night? Here are the highlights.