Rock icon Billy Joel is set to be honoured with America's prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The Piano Man star has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Library of Congress award, which is named after iconic composer George Gershwin and celebrates the lifetime achievements of a living musical artist.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington says, "Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order. There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again."
"Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them."
A flattered Joel adds, "The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career and the Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me."
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member will be presented with the accolade at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November (14).
Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Carole King, who made history last year (13) as the first woman to ever claim the Gershwin Prize.
Paul Weller has joined former The Verve rocker Simon Tong in the studio for a collaboration. The former The Jam frontman teamed up with Tong, who left The Verve in 1999, to perform on a single by his band Erland And The Carnival.
Weller played guitar and sang backing vocals on the track called Quiet Love, which will appear on the group's new album Closing Time.
Speaking about the tune, Tong says, "It has a slight George Harrison feel, and it helped sway us to add strings to the album."
Weller is not the first high-profile musician Tong has worked with - he temporarily joined Blur to replace guitarist Graham Coxon and later worked with frontman Damon Albarn in Gorillaz and in supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen.
Veteran rocker Sting took to the stage to sing with the cast on the opening night of his new musical The Last Ship in Chicago, Illinois. The Police star's show opened at the city's Bank of America Theatre on Wednesday (25Jun14) ahead of its planned Broadway debut in October (14), and the rocker was in the audience with his wife Trudie Styler.
At the end of the performance, Sting took to the stage for the curtain call and led the cast in a song, according to New York Post gossip column Page Six.
Other stars who turned out for the musical's opening included Paul Simon, James Taylor, Styx singer Dennis DeYoung and AC/DC's Brian Johnson.
The show received mixed reviews from critics, who questioned whether the production, set in a doomed shipyard in Sting's hometown in the north of England, could draw in audiences on Broadway.
Steven Oxman of variety writes, "Do you want to live for two-and-a-half hours in a beautifully sad song?... The show currently works as a collection of songs in search of a complete story, or perhaps as a concept album - filled with mood and emotion and character and sensibility, but swaying as it takes on specifics. What seems to be missing is a driving conflict."
The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones adds, "(Many) scenes... still have the air of a semi-staged concept album... The Last Ship already is a worthy and earnest musical, but we know how Broadway loves to take those down. Just look at last season."
Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Business Journal concludes, "Most of the theatre crowds in the early going at least will probably have come to hear Sting's music for the show. Fans of his work may find that much of it sounds familiar and pleasant to hear performed in a theatrical setting. But hardcore theatre buffs will soon realise Sting's style of music - for the most part - simply doesn't sit comfortably in a big Broadway musical context."
Singer Josh Groban is working on a new album featuring music from movies and stage shows. The You Raise Me Up hitmaker's latest project will include familiar tracks from well-known productions, as well as songs from more obscure shows including Paul Simon's The Capeman and Chess by Abba's Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice.
He tells Billboard.com, "Since I was 13 years old, I have wanted to record a film and stage songs album. The nice thing about a film and stage album is that you have so many songs. It's a matter of demoing them, seeing which are right for me and for the continuity of the album.
"The test is whether I can tell a story and whether or not my voice fits the story. There are plenty of shows where the songs are gems, but never got their fair share. I think Paul Simon's The Capeman is a show that just needed a little more time. We're desperate for great new shows."
Paul Simon and Edie Brickell have scored a legal victory after prosecutors in Connecticut opted to drop disorderly conduct charges against the couple. Simon and Brickell were both issued misdemeanour citations following a domestic dispute at their New Canaan home in late April (14) and the couple was back in court on Tuesday (16Jun14) for an update hearing.
Prosecutors in Norwalk announced they would not be pursuing the case and the charges would be dropped and subsequently erased from the singers' records in 13 months, according to the Startribune.com.
A disorderly conduct case involving veteran singer/songwriter Paul Simon and his wife Edie Brickell has been delayed until next month (Jun14). The couple, which will celebrate its 22nd wedding anniversary on 30 May (14), returned to a Connecticut courtroom on Friday (16May14) after the musicians were both issued misdemeanour citations following a domestic dispute at their New Canaan home in late April (14).
Their lawyer, Andrew Bowman, had requested Superior Court Judge William Wenzel ban the media from the hearing, but the motion was denied. The judge said, "Everyone who comes into this court is presumed innocent and our general policy is to allow open media access so I am overruling that request."
Simon, who held hands with Brickell during the hearing, then attempted to address the judge, only to be promptly silenced.
Judge Wenzel told the defendants, "Let your attorney speak."
Neither Simon nor Brickell uttered a word in court after the interruption and their case was subsequently postponed until 17 June (14).
The singers have put on a united front since news of their domestic drama hit headlines last month (Apr14), with Simon branding the argument "atypical" of the pair.
Sir Paul McCartney's wife Nancy Shevell has given the rocker a big boost on Britain's annual Sunday Times Rich List, thanks to a combined £710 million ($1.2 billion) fortune. Shevell's estimated £150 million ($225 million) fortune helps rocket the 71 year old up the Music Millionaires List to number four, behind Zomba Group boss Clive Calder, Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Warner Music Group head Len Blavatnik, who tops the rich list with a £10 billion fortune.
The countdown of the 50 wealthiest music men and women in Britain and Ireland also includes Simon Cowell (£300 million/$480 million), Sir Elton John (£260 million/$416 million), Adele (£45 million/$72 million), and the five members of One Direction, who share a £70 million ($112 million) fortune.
Take That star Gary Barlow, who has recently been accused of tax avoidance, also makes the rich list with a £65 million ($104 million) fortune.
The full list will be available in the Times on 18 May (14).
The top 10 is:
1. Len Blavatnik (£10 billion)
2. Clive Calder (£1.4 billion)
3. Sir Cameron Mackintosh (£1 billion)
4. Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell (£710 million)
5. Lord Lloyd-Webber (£640 million)
6. U2 (£428 million)
7. Simon Fuller (£382 million)
8. Simon Cowell (£300 million)
9. Mohammad and Kamaliya Zahoor (£300 million)
10. Sir Elton John (£260 million)
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
With only a week and change having passed since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we no doubt feel the question living fresh in our minds: can we ever judge a remake without considering its predecessors? The conversation about the stark contrast in critical favor between Marc Webb's release and Sam Raimi's trilogy (the second installment of his franchise in particular) buzzed loudly, and we imagine the volume will keep in regards to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. But it'll be a different sound altogether.
The original Godzilla, a Japanese film released in 1954, reinvented the identity of the monster movie, launched a 30-film legacy, and spoke legions about the political climate of its era. The most recent of these films — Roland Emmerich's 1998 American production — is universally bemoaned as a bigger disaster than anything to befall Tokyo at the hands of the giant reptile. With these two entries likely standing out as the most prominent in the minds of contemporary audiences, Edwards' Godzilla has some long shadows cast before it. And in approaching the new movie, one might not be able to avoid comparisons to either. It's fair — by taking on an existing property, a filmmaker knowingly takes on the connotations of that property. But the 2014 installment's great success is that it isn't much like any Godzilla movie we've seen before. In a great, great way.
This isn't 1954's Godzilla, a dire and occasionally dreary allegory that uses the supernatural to tell an important story about nuclear holocaust. A complete reversal, in fact, first and foremost Edwards' Godzilla is about its monsters. Any grand themes strewn throughout — the perseverence of nature, the follies of mankind, fatherhood, madness, faith — are all in service to the very simple mission to give us some cool, weighty, articulate sci-fi disaster. Elements of gravity are plotted all over the film's surface, with scientists, military men (kudos to Edwards for not going the typical "scientists = good/smart, military = bad/dumb" route in this film — everybody here is at least open to suggestion), doctors, police officers, and a compassionate bus driver all wrestling with options in the face of behemoth danger. The humanity is everpresent, but never especially intrusive. To reiterate, this isn't a film about any of these people, or what they do.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
The closest thing to a helping of thematic (or human) significance comes with Ken Watanabe's Dr. Serizawa, who spouts awe-stricken maxims about cryptozoology, the Earth, and the inevitable powerlessness of man. He might not be supplying anything more substantial than our central heroes (soft-hearted soldier Aaron Taylor-Johnson, dutiful medic and mom Elizabeth Olsen, right-all-along conspiracy theorist Bryan Cranston), but Watanabe's bonkers performance as the harried scientist is so bizarrely good that you might actually believe, for a scene or two, that it all does mean something.
Ultimately, the beauty of our latest taste of Godzilla lies not in the commitment to a message that made the original so important nor in the commitment to levity that made Emmerich's so pointless, but in its commitment to imagination. Edwards' creature design is dazzling, his deus ex machina are riveting, and the ultimate payoff to which he treats his audience is the sort of gangbusters crowd-pleaser that your average contemporary monster movie is too afraid to consider.
In fairness, this year's Godzilla might not be considered an adequate remake, not quite reciprocating the ideals, tone, or importance of the original. Sure, anyone looking for a 2014 answer to 1954's game-changing paragon will find sincere philosophy traded for pulsing adventure... but they'd have a hard time ignoring the emphatic charm of this new lens for the 60-year-old lizard, both a highly original composition and a tribute in its way to the very history of monster movies (a history that owes so much to the creature in question). So does Godzilla '14 successfully fill the shoes of Godzilla '54? No — it rips them apart and dons a totally new pair... though it still has a lot of nice things to say about the first kicks.
Oh, and the '98 Godzilla? Yeah, it's better than that.
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Rock 'n' roll icon Chuck Berry is to be the recipient of the 2014 Polar Music Prize. The Johnny B. Goode singer, who is revered by the world's greatest guitarists, will be honoured with the coveted award at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden this summer (Aug14).
He will also be handed more than $160,000 (£100,000) at the gala.
The top music award was established by late Abba manager and publisher Stig Anderson. Opera and theatre director Peter Sellars will also be honoured at the 2014 ceremony.
Past recipients of the Polar Music Prize have included Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney, who picked up the first award in 1992.
Paul Simon returned to the stage on Wednesday night (07May14) for the first time since he and his wife were arrested for disorderly conduct. The veteran singer/songwriter and his partner of 22 years, Edie Brickell, were both charged with misdemeanours last month (Apr14) when they got into an altercation at their home in Connecticut.
They appeared in court on 28 April (14) and played down the drama, insisting they simply had a marital spat.
Simon refused to let the scandal keep him from performing and he took to the stage on Wednesday at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, where he was honoured with a special award from officials at New York University in recognition of his career and charity work.
He played tracks including 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Late In the Evening and You Can Call Me Al, and was also joined onstage by students from the university during his performance of Still Crazy After All These Years.
The gig raised $1.1 million (£687,000) for scholarships to the college, where Simon taught songwriting in the 1970s.
Upon learning of the amount raised, the musician quipped: "After my fee of a million is deducted, that's $100,000."
However, one person was noticeably absent at the show - Brickell did not attend.