Queens of the Stone Age – Slacker’s Artist of the Week.

QOTSA-472x472At this point, Queens of the Stone Age is a project of Josh Homme and friends. From his stoner-rock beginnings in California’s Mojave Desert to his current status as a swaggering rock icon and sought-after guest star on numerous other projects, the Queens remain his most consistent outlet and output.

This week, Queens of the Stone Age release their 6th album—called “Like Clockwork.” It’s their first album since 2007; Dave Grohl played drums on 6 of the tracks, and the album includes guest appearances from Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, Trent Reznor, and even Elton John.

On this week’s Artist of the Week station, you’ll hear tracks from “…Like Clockwork”, along with a look at the music DNA of Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age- the artists they draw inspiration from and the many musicians that are directly influenced by their work.

Click here to check out Queens of the Stone Age – Slacker’s Artist of the Week.

Aleks Syntek Celebrates New Album and New Home

Aleks Syntek Syntek AlbumAleks Syntek has jumped ship from his old label and has a new home, Sony Latin Music- who rolled out the red carpet and had Syntek visit Los Angeles for some much needed radio schmoozing, album promoting and celebrating.

While in town, the Mexican musician-singer-songwriter offered a special showcase at the label’s Beverly Hills offices to present his new album “Syntek,” a throwback to the 80s with a synth-heavy sound throughout the 12 songs that the artist declared as “Mexican electronic music.” We had the opportunity to attend the showcase where the multi-talented pop singer gave us a sampling of some of the new tracks on the album, including the single “La Tormenta,” as well as some classics like “Sexo, Pudor y Lágrimas.”

Aleks Syntek Album PartyThe special gathering brought together a who’s who of L.A.’s Spanish-language media and radio stations, including sponsoring outlet KSSE (Súper Estrella) and of course some of us at Slacker.  Syntek’s friends, including Mexican actor Diego Boneta (that cutie from Rock of Ages), celebrity Michelle Salas (famous for being the daughter of superstar Luis Miguel and rumored to be dating Boneta), Edward James Olmos and a few other celebs.

It was a lively and fun night, which was refreshing to see in a day and age when labels don’t tend to throw these kinds of shindigs any more, at least not Latin labels. Times are tight in this “sequester” reality we live in so it was nice to experience a party reminiscent of music label glory days.

March Madness Time!

Slacker March Madness It’s March Madness time!

Slacker’s Hip Hop March Madness that is. All month long, Slacker is pitting Hip Hop’s greatest MC’s against each other in four regional brackets: East Coast, West Coast, North and South, and the winner in each match-up will be determined by your votes on our March Madness page.

Every day head over to our March Madness page to vote for your favorite artists for a chance to win a $500 StubHub gift certificate + year of Slacker Premium.

Will the top seeds in each region make it to the final four, or will they be upset along the way by one the tournament’s cagey upstarts? It will all boil down to one final battle, to be waged on the same day as the NCAA Basketball Championship.

March Madness ends April 8th so keep  voting!  Don’t let your favorite hip hop artists get bumped from the next round. Make sure to also check out our March Hip Hop Madness station on Slacker to hear music from all our contenders

 

 

Slacker’s Attack of the Boy Bands Trivia

Attack of the Boy Bands Slacker’s Attack of the Boy Bands, a new station that simultaneously celebrates the new album from Justin Timberlake and the 15th anniversary of NSYNC’s debut album, takes listeners on a journey from the 90s explosion in popularity to the new generation of pop groups and even through the nostalgic reunions of our childhood faves.

During this exploration into the music that has sparked so many dance moves and pop hooks, a quick  brush up of some facts and tidbits are in order. In fact, there are many reasons you may want to brush up on your Boy Band trivia:

1) For that one day our favorite bubble yum genre gets a dedicated category on Jeopardy.

2) To sound cool to your nieces, nephews, kids, and any of your co-workers who have more dance skills in their pinky than you did even after that summer stint in musical theatre camp.

3) To acknowledge that you are a fan – indie street cred be damned. Admit it – you secretly get down to NKOTB, BSB and JT.

Here are some cool facts about our favorite Boy Bands you may not know:

In the UK, Take That is like the Beatles of the 21st Century

When Take That reunited in 2010, which included the return of Robbie Williams as icing on the cake, they released the band’s sixth studio album, Progress, which became the fastest selling album of the 21st century and the second fastest in British history. The tour that followed set the new record for the fastest selling tour of all time in the UK. In 2012 Forbes announced Take That as the 5th highest-earning music stars in the world, Amazon (UK) revealed they were their top selling music artist of all time and the Official Charts Company announced the biggest selling singles artists in British history with Take That placing 15th overall – the highest boy band in UK chart history. That is a lot history making and recording breaking for the vocal pop group. So much so that we can’t help but be reminded of the chart dominating tidal wave that was the Fab Four.

Nick Jonas is a Seasoned Broadway Veteran

Nick Jonas has some musical and acting chops that extend beyond the scope of the tween pop sensation that is the Jonas Brothers. After starting on Broadway at the tender young age of seven,  Nick went on to star in several acclaimed Broadway plays, including A Christmas Carol, Annie Get Your Gun, Beauty and the Beast, and Les Miserables (in 2003 as Gavroche and later as Marius for the 25th anniversary concert).

Justin Timberlake is a Mouseketeer

Yes ladies and gents, it is true. As if Justin being a singer/songwriter, actor, producer, restaurant owner, fashion designer and philanthropist were not enough  – he also has Mouseketeer listed on his resume. If he were not one of the most envied individuals in the world before – he definitely is now. Being a Mousketeer is almost as cool as being a Disney Imagineer. Take a look at Justin Timberlake, along with fellow peers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling, in the 90s hit tv show The New Mickey Mouse Club.

One Direction didn’t start out as a group.

X-Factor, has introduced some natural born superstars and serious talent to the world (remember Susan Boyle?), and perhaps one of their biggest success stories has been boy band sensation One Direction. But did you know the group of five originally auditioned for the hit TV show as individuals? It was only after they were not progressing as individuals did producer Simon Cowell rework them into a group. A big kudos to Simon for seeing the hidden potential and possibility in One Direction- who are now often described as sparking the resurgence in the boy band concept and creating a new “British Invasion” in the United States.

Here are their first auditions:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzO6x81zvNU

And after Simon’s creation:

Five New Dance Music Songs in Heavy Rotation Right Now

Spring is here! It’s time to shed our winter coats, opt for cocktails that slush and add a shiny new playlist to our respective iPods. With back-to-back music festivals underway (ie SXSW, Ultra and Coachella), it’s not surprising that we’re being pleasantly inundated with sweet new tunes for all to enjoy.

In order to preemptively honor your booze-fueled, poolside shenanigans this weekend, here is a compilation of the top five new dance songs that are getting a lot of repeat play right now. These songs will have you fist pumping in your sleep. Grab your dancing cleats, turn up the volume, press play and enjoy!

1. “Meet Her in Miami” – Gareth Emery
First up is Brit DJ and one of a few personal favorites, Gareth Emery, who has revamped the classic dance beat “Meet Her at the Love Parade” from Da Hool. The song is masterfully re-purposed and designed to really get you off your feet and onto the dancefloor. How fitting that he’s changed it to “Miami”, since he will be spending a solid chunk of spring break time in the Magic City. Challenge accepted Gareth, we’d love to meet you in Miami.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwvOFdX1Xrg

 

2. “Summertime Sadness” – Cedric Gervais
French House DJ, Cedric Gervais, also has a new song for us this spring. It’s a slight diversion from last year’s controversial hit “Molly”, but just as play-worthy. Here he is, adding some sultry beats to the already enchanting “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey. Is anyone else in love? *Swoon*

 

3. “Together We Are” – Arty (Featuring Chris James)
Feel good jams are far and few between – but the universe has done us a solid with Arty’s new dance hit “Together We Are” featuring Chris James. At only 23, Arty has already made an indelible mark on the dance music scene and this song is only one in a succession of chart-toppers from Arty the Great. “Together We Are” will no doubt penetrate the club circuit in no time. Prepare to see glittery masses hand-in-hand, dance-battling it out with smiles from ear to cocktail.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsIr877r4SM

 

4. “Black Room Boy” – Above & Beyond
Never ceasing to amaze, Above & Beyond has remained en pointe since their inception.  “Black Room Boy”, their latest single, is no exception. The delicious vocals are driven from Above & Beyond’s Tony McGuinness for your voracious consumption. Music that is entertaining and transformative is a rarity, but leave it up to the trance trio to give birth to the musical equivalent of a unicorn. This song will be all the “group therapy” you need this spring.

 

5. “Clarity” – Zedd Featuring Foxes
“Clarity” is third single from Zedd’s Clarity album, and already a chart-topping success. This song is dangerously addictive and easily one of the favorite songs of 2013 so far. Equal parts club banger and poignant ballad, this hit is a music lover’s dream. To further show off his musical prowess, Zedd released a stripped-down version of “Clarity” relying solely on a piano and the angel sounds of Foxes. Perfection!

 

Check out all these songs and more on Slacker’s 2013 Ultra Music Festival Station, which is set for two weekends this month: the 15th through the 17th, and the 22nd through the 24th.

Artist of the Week – Justin Timberlake

Justin-TimberlakeSlacker’s Artist Of The Week is Justin Timberlake. From his boy-band beginnings to rocking both SNL and the hipsters at SXSW in the last week- JT has done a remarkable job of trading his frosted tips for a suit and tie.

His new album- The 20/20 Experience– dropped this week, and a co-headlining tour with Jay-Z will follow. On this station, Slacker explores his beginnings with NSYNC, his biggest hits as a solo artist, his collabs with artists like Timbaland, his influences, and his musical peers.

You can also catch some old NSYNC and new JT on Slacker’s Attack of the Boy Bands Station.

 

Enjoy the world of JT, on Slacker.

Who Should Win the Oscar for Best in Original Song

Oscars 2013 Best Original Song Slacker

So here we are.  Deep in the heart of awards season, with the Academy getting ready to pass out their golden statuettes this weekend.

As Slacker’s (arguably) most pop-culture obsessed curator, I want to talk to you about this year’s Academy Award nominated songs (best original song), and who I think will (probably)(maybe)(most likely) win.

Let’s start at the top, alphabetically speaking:

“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”

Music and Lyric by J. Ralph

This song features Scarlett Johansson & Joshua Bell – the latter, in case you don’t recognize the name, is a grammy award winning violinist.  Scarlett sings this haunting track that plays over the credits of the documentary about climate change in Greenland, which was expected to earn a nomination for Best Documentary Feature, but was left off of that list.  The academy might want to throw it a bone in this category, but more likely this just wasn’t high profile enough to win this year.  You never know.  Could be a dark horse.

 

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”

Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane

Can I be honest here and say that if Seth MacFarlane wins an oscar I’m probably going to boycott these awards for the rest of my life?  That being said, this is a sweet throwback to the 40’s sung by Norah Jones.  Despite the fact that he’s hosting this year, I just feel like the Academy knows better than to RECOGNIZE SETH MACFARLANE.  EVER.  Or I hope so, at least.

 

“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”

Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri

Everyone I know who read this book (including myself) got super excited about the movie, and then came out of it feeling… OK?  Not amazing, not entirely disappointed, just…  I think at that point we all finally recognized the challenges of making a story almost entirely set in a boat in the middle of the ocean interesting for 2 hours.  Anyway, this song is ok, but it’s nothing compared to the final contenders.

 

“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Listen, nobody ever likes the new song added to these productions, especially one as tried and true as Les Mis.  I’ve been a fan of the musical since 8th grade and there’s no way this song was going to stir me in the way “I Dreamed A Dream” or “On My Own” would.  It’s not even exhilarating in the way “Do You Hear The People Sing” is.  But they had to nominate something in this category from the film (or look kind of silly) and this is the only new, original song in it.  Probably added explicitly for the purpose of getting nominated for this exact award.  This song could win – it’s got the star power and the promotion behind it, but my bet is safely on…

 

“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”

Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

Awards shows love Adele.  They don’t just love her, they luuuuuuuuve her.  They want to marry her.  And not only do we have a big ol’ crush on Adele, we have a societal obligation to love James Bond films.  This was an amazing flick, with a perfect, old school sounding theme song.  It’s *almost* too obvious, but I think Adele is going to win it (as usual.)  It’s not so hard to imagine Adele going on to perform on Broadway at some point, where she’ll win a Tony.  Then just throw a television appearance or two into the mix, and Adele is certain to be the world’s next EGOT winner.

 

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s review.

Will win: “Skyfall”

Could win: “Suddenly”

Should win: “Skyfall”

Obviously I could be wrong about all of this, so feel free to speak up and share your predictions – plus your arguments for or against  – in the comments! Also make sure to check out the new Oscar Movie Music Station on Slacker Radio for more scores, themes and songs of the greatest cinematic masterpieces

The Five Best Oscar Nominated Songs of the Past 20 Years

oscars9-300x300Oscar week is here and with it comes a lot of buzz about the movies, the actors, the directors and creators of the year’s best in cinema. What often gets left in the shadows, or at best lightly glossed over, is the soul of the movie – the music. The soundtracks and scores to movies are what creates the mood, solidifies the theme, and glues the audience to the emotional core of the movie long after the credits start rolling. In fact, in the long history of the Academy Awards, winners such as “The Way We Were” and “Take My Breath Away” have grown to become the center of the movie when referenced in popular culture and collective memory.

Coming up with the best songs that have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song may seem like an obvious list when looking through the past nominees in its entirety. All the usual choices would be there (including the two mentioned above). So here is a fresher take. In the past 20 years, original songs in movies have been pushed to a whole new level in quality and sonic achievement. Out of those 20 years, coming up with five was downright difficult. They were all good. Some were great. All of them had a strategic place in the movie and some have already been permanently defined as the centerpiece of the movie in society and cultural reference.

So after a lot of thought (perhaps far too much thought) and for a myriad of other important and semi-important reasons here are the five best in Oscar nominated music:

“Streets of Philadelphia”  – Bruce Springsteen, 1993 

Not only did this song win the Academy Award this year, it made mince meat out of the competition by snagging the Golden Globe, four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year, and an MTV award for the music video. Streets of Philadelphia proved to be more than a voice for those who were cast out and alienated because of stigmas attached to AIDS, it was a gritty emotional tribute to life’s downtrodden.

 

“Circle of Life”  – The Lion King , 1994 

Circle of Life didn’t even win the year it was nominated. But, since three out of the five nominations were songs from The Lion King, they probably just played rock paper scissors to decide on the winner – in this case “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” got the nod. It is definitely a toss up on which song should have won, but since this is the best Oscar nominated songs, the winner here is the iconic main title track from this universal favorite – which is to this day one of the best opening scene montages from a movie ever. Disney just does it right. The music seems to turn their movies into beloved classics for every age group. It is no surprise they pretty much dominate the music category in Oscar nominations. Elton John and Tim Rice were the masterminds behind The Lion King. If you take those two and Disney’s other dynamic duo – Alan Menken and Tim Rice – there are over 15 nominated songs between them, which is surpassed only by Randy Newman.

 

“Vanilla Sky” – Vanilla Sky , 2001 

Cameron Crowe has always been known for creating movies where the music is more than a soundtrack – it is often the very heartbeat of the story. When Crowe asked Sir Paul to create the title track, Vanilla Sky, for his cult favorite brain twister, Paul happily obliged. But in true Crowe fashion, when it comes to his music choices for his movies, there is more than meets the eye.

According to production notes, Crowe said, “We constructed the movie, visually and story-wise, to reveal more and more the closer you look at it. As deep as you want to go with it, my desire was for the movie to meet you there.” His choice for the title track was a nice homage to Paul being the inspiration in the clues and hidden messages that the movie revealed. Crowe referred to these “clues” as his own version of the infamous “Paul is Dead” rumor from the 60s where fans became convinced through clues in song lyrics, sounds and album art that Paul McCartney was dead and had been replaced by a lookalike.

 

“The Hands that Built America” – Gangs of New York, 2002 

The lyrical tribute to New York  is not U2s best, but it is a standard U2 track by all accounts, which still puts it well above most.  But what makes this track so amazing is how it moves through milestones in New York history, from the mass immigrations of the Irish and resulting demographics to more modern milestones such as September 11th, to paint a true picture of the the country built by immigrants who all believed in the “American Dream”  – a universal belief that has never really faltered despite what has been thrown at it. Gangs of New York was originally scheduled to premiere in December of 2001 but got delayed because of September 11th. Some say Bono went back and edited the song to include what is the obvious tribute to the day.

“It’s early fall, there’s a cloud on the New York skyline. Innocence, dragged across a yellow line…” Beautiful song for what was a beautiful movie.

 

“Jai Ho” – Slumdog Millionaire, 2008 

“Jai Ho”  was an exuberant Bollywood dance number that encapsulated Slumdog Millionaire’s feel-good factor and gave it a much needed reminder of the underlying positive theme and happy ending during the films more somber parts. The beautiful thing about the track, composed by AR Rahman who was already a sensation in India, was that it had a rich global texture that embodied traditional Bollywood sounds but was embraced by the western community in the same way a popular dance song would in America. YouTube videos of imitations, covers, and kids and babies doing the dance popped up at warp speed – and keep in mind this was a couple years before the meme phenomenon grew to what it is today. “Jai Ho” is the perfect example of how music has moved beyond local boundaries into a more global scale.

 

Head over to Oscar Movie Music on Slacker Radio to hear more music, themes and scores from greatest cinematic masterpieces.