Superstar Beyonce wanted to create her own "street version" of George Michael's classic Freedom! '90 video in her promo for new song Yonce. Michael famously featured supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz in the hit 1990 release, and Yonce music video director Ricky Saiz reveals Beyonce was heavily inspired by the film for her own track.
The Crazy In Love hitmaker wanted a "contemporary, street version" of Freedom for her promo and recruited models Jourdan Dunn, Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls to join her for the shoot on the streets of Brooklyn, New York.
Saiz tells Buzzfeed.com, "The girls were incredible. Everyone kind of checked whatever ego at the door and we were all there to make something fun and special... We wanted to do something very sexual, but... you know, she's Bey. She's not 21. She's not Miley (Cyrus)."
The audio and video for Yonce was released as part of Beyonce's new self-titled album exclusively on iTunes.com early last Friday (13Dec13) with no advanced announcement or promotion, and Saiz admits he had no idea the project was set to drop.
He says, "To be honest, I was actually in bed when I got an email just kind of saying (Beyonce) was live. I proceeded to stay up until five or six in the morning just kinda checking out all of the madness. It was a complete surprise even to the people involved. No one knew when (it would be released) or to what scale or that there was going to be everything coming out at once. It was very, very much a cool surprise."
Songwriter/producer Ryan Tedder, who worked with Beyonce on the track XO, found out about the surprise release at the last minute, shortly before it hit the Internet.
He says, "I knew 90 minutes before it dropped. Ninety minutes. And I said nothing because I love Beyonce and I don't want her to hate me.
"I heard a rumour and then I didn't say anything. I told my wife, 'I think Beyonce's album is dropping in 90 minutes,' and then I knew that XO was on the album."
Apple's iTunes bosses recently announced Beyonce had shattered download records by shifting 828,773 units worldwide in its first three days of release, and Tedder admits her success has prompted the singer and his OneRepublic bandmates to rethink their future album strategies.
He adds, "Me and my whole band, who are just complete sceptics and like, you know, a bit snobby, we just sat there going (wow)... Like, somehow we have to step our game up and be more like Beyonce."
Kiss fans have been given double the reason to look forward to 2014 - frontman Paul Stanley is set to release his memoir days after the rockers are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Heaven's on Fire hitmakers were announced as part of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 early on Tuesday (17Dec13), and hours later, publishers at HarperOne revealed Stanley had signed a deal to bare his life in an autobiography.
Face the Music: A Life Exposed will feature rare photographs of the singer and detail his hard-partying lifestyle as one of the co-founders of the heavy rock band.
The tome will hit U.S. retailers on 22 April (14), not long after KISS join Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt and other honourees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York on 10 April (14).
The book won't be Stanley's first - he teamed up with bandmate Gene Simmons to tell the story of the group's formation in 1973 for 2012 release, Nothin' To Lose.
Kiss, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel and the Beatles' late manager Brian Epstein are among the nine honourees who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year (14). In October (13), organisers announced 16 acts had been shortlisted for the honour, and music industry insiders have now whittled that number down to nine inductees.
The stars who will be immortalised in the Hall of Fame in 2014 are rock icons Nirvana, Genesis' Gabriel, Epstein, who helped the Fab Four become a global phenomenon in the 1960s, duo Hall & Oates, Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, glam rockers KISS, singer Linda Ronstadt, producer Andrew Loog Oldham and Bruce Springsteen's sidekicks, The E Street Band.
The induction ceremony will be held in New York City in April (14).
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its shortlist of nominees for 2014. While the Hall of Fame is little more than a vanity project for a cabal of self-important baby boomers headed by Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who last had his finger on rock's pulse sometime before the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." came out, it's always fun to predict who will and won't make it in on each year's ballot. So here they are, in approximate likelihood of induction.
Because artists are eligible 25 years after their first record was released, Nirvana have been nominated on the first possible ballot. (Bleach came out in 1989.) They will sail through, which the board will consider proof that they're down with The Kids, notwithstanding that The Kids that bought Nirvana's albums are in our 40s now.
Ronstadt will be this year's sympathy vote, since she recently disclosed that her singing career is over due to Parkinson's Disease. A technically gifted (and drop-dead gorgeous) singer, Ronstadt was often hampered by her lack of interpretive skills. For example, she seemed genuinely oblivious to the fact that Randy Newman's "Sail Away" was sung from the point of view of a slave trader.
He's been eligible for 11 years, and as a critically-respected solo artist who also scored some major radio hits, he's exactly in the hall's wheelhouse. Given the comparative lack of sure things in this year's shortlist, this may be his year.
Although the board is notoriously anti-disco (Donna Summer didn't get in until after she died), the commercial resurrection of Nile Rodgers via Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" might sway a few members to recognize the architectural genius of hits like "Good Times" and "Le Freak."
Hall & Oates
There was a period in the early 1980s where critics considered Daryl Hall a genius blue-eyed soul songwriter on the level of Todd Rundgren and John Oates an amiable dude with a killer mustache. Perhaps some residual nostalgia for the duo's hits might bring them in. Personally, I think they should be inducted just for this incredibly bizarre and primitive video for "She's Gone."
Perhaps the only act who genuinely wants to be in the Hall of Fame, Kiss are rock's most shameless hucksters. And frankly, they deserve recognition just for the fact that they pioneered the licensing and merchandising that made pop music even more profitable than it was. But the board still has the antiquated view that rock is art, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, and that being too commercial is uncool.
LL Cool J
With his primary career these days being an amiable TV actor, it can be hard to remember just how outstanding singles like "The Bells" and "Goin' Back To Cali" were -- LL was one of the first next-gen rappers taking the music in new directions after the first wave had passed their peaks. Like Hall and Oates, he'll get in eventually, but this may not be his year.
Given The Replacements' "loveable losers" image, it would actually be entirely fitting if they became one of those bands who never actually make it in. When they do -- which they will, eventually -- it will shut the door on the entry of other key Amerindie bands of the mid-80s like Husker Du and the Meat Puppets. The board thinks they only need one representative.
Like Rush, Kiss and Black Sabbath, Yes has their diehard fans who think the Hall of Fame is a joke for not including their favorite band. The Hall is indeed a joke, but that's not why.
Still stigmatized by the overblown reaction to some widely misunderstood quotes Yusuf Islam (the man formerly known as Cat Stevens) gave to a newspaper in the wake of the fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie, Stevens may never make it into the Hall. But then, his pleasant but lightweight take on UK folk-rock is hardly the most earthshaking music of its time.
Okay, look: Machine Head was awesome. I mean, "Space Truckin'" and "Highway Star" will still rock your face off, and even as overplayed as it is, "Smoke on the Water" has one of the all-time great riffs. But the rest of Deep Purple's catalogue is at best third-string boogie. If artists with only one great album are eligible, let's induct The Stone Roses immediately.
Dr. Dre will someday make it into the Hall as a producer, but Jann Wenner lets the band whose signature song was called 'F--k tha Police" into his playground over his dead body. And Ice Cube's acting career makes NWA seem less threatening with every family comedy he makes.
Honestly, The Zombies are probably my favorite band on this entire list: "She's Not There" is maybe the most perfect single of the British Invasion, Odessey and Oracle is start to finish brilliant, and through Rod Argent's electric piano solos, they were possibly the very first band to bring a modern jazz influence into Top 40 pop. But they remain probably too obscure a niche taste to make the final ballot.
That goes double for The Meters. All rock critics genuflect to this New Orleans institution led by the legendary Art Neville, but I've always suspected that most of those copies of Fire on the Bayou in their collections don't actually get pulled out much.
I love Link Wray's doomy, reverb-driven instrumentals as much as the next guy, but given that his first, biggest and best hit "Rumble" came out 55 years ago, I can't help but think that if he was going to get inducted it would have happened by now.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Much like The Meters, critics love to name-drop Butterfield and his legendary guitarist Mike Bloomfield, but Bloomfield remains far more beloved for his mid-'60s work with Bob Dylan than for much-lauded but little-heard albums like East/West.
Two fans of The Beatles have been left shocked after receiving a message from Sir Paul McCartney half a century after trying to contact him. Barbara Bezant and Lyn Phillips, of Essex, England, were starstruck teenagers when they recorded a message to the singer on tape before posting it to a London theatre where the band was due to play in 1963.
The two ladies were reunited with the recording on British TV's The One Show on Friday (27Sep13) after it was unearthed at a junk sale - and they were stunned when the presenters then handed over a note from McCartney.
The message reads, "Hi Linda and Barbara, thanks very much for you lovely tape. It finally got through, better late than never. Great to hear that you found each other after all these years. Keep enjoying the music, love Paul."
Veteran singer Linda Ronstadt is exploring different forms of physical therapy to alleviate her struggles with Parkinson's disease, because she refuses to take the drugs doctors have prescribed her. The You're No Good hitmaker, 67, went public with her health diagnosis last month (Aug13) and revealed the degenerative disorder has robbed her of her singing voice.
When everyday tasks became all the more difficult because of the disease, Ronstadt was given medication, but she is determined not to use drugs and is now seeking out other options to help combat the condition.
She tells People magazine, "I didn't like the drugs, so I don't take them. It's hard to walk, brush my hair, keep my balance. But there are therapies I'm just starting to find out about. There's dancing, oddly enough."
Iconic singer Linda Ronstadt is struggling to cope with her inability to sing since she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The multi-Grammy winner announced last month (Aug13) that she has the condition, and she opened up about her illness in front of a packed audience at Manhattan's 92Y venue on Wednesday (18Sep13), revealing her biggest heartache is her failing vocal.
She says, "I just can't make the sounds... The first note comes out, and then my voice goes into a cramp... I miss it every day... Singing is something I've done since I was two years old."
Openly gay actress Sara Gilbert has credited her ex-boyfriend Johnny Galecki with helping her embrace her sexuality while they were still in a relationship. Gilbert spoke candidly about Galecki in an episode of U.S. series The Talk on Thursday (12Sep13), admitting she would become "depressed" after she and her former Roseanne co-star kissed.
She recalls, "I thought he was super cute and I had a total crush on him. And we started dating and he would come over and we would, like, make out, and then I would start to get depressed."
The star, who is now engaged to singer Linda Perry, eventually 'came out' to Galecki and she insists he was "super sweet about it".
Gilbert explains, "I started dating a woman who was like 18 years older than I was, who was also in the public eye. It was something people could have found out about. Like no one knew at the show for years, and Johnny held the secret the whole time. And I always felt so scared. If it came out, what could happen? Could I lose my career? Will I ever be able to play a straight role again?"
The 38 year old is still friends with The Big Bang Theory star and even phoned him up to ask for permission to talk about their romance on U.S. TV: "I called him and I just said, 'Is it OK - I'm thinking of talking about this... The story sort of starts with you. And I've got to say I made out with you and got depressed, which is kind of a bummer.
"(He said) 'Of course. I love you and I think it's really important and I'm so proud of you... If you want, I will be there and I will hold your hand.' It was so sweet, and this story really makes Johnny look good...
"I want people to know there can still be a struggle with it and that's OK. It's a process and there can be a part of you that doesn't want to feel different or feel scared."
"By the way Congratulations to Diana Nyad. What a truly inspiring story." Singer Linda Perry congratulates author and long distance swimmer Diana Nyad for becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage.