November 15, 2012
By MESFIN FEKADU
Ne-Yo knows that dance and electronic music dominate the charts and radio, and he believes some of the lyrics are weak.
“There’s dance songs out there with four words in the whole song, and it don’t ever matter,” he said. “Because it’s not about what the words are, it’s about the music, the ups and downs in the music ... and then it explodes — that’s what that genre of music is about.”
But when he approached that sound on his fifth album, “R.E.D.,” the 33-year-old Grammy winner said he took the time to craft lyrics that have meaning. He said the best example is “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself),” his current single and Top 10 Billboard pop hit.
“I told myself if I’m going to do this dance music or electronic or techno or whatever it is, I need to do it from a standpoint of making mine stand out from everybody else’s, meaning a Ne-Yo dance record is going to have some kind of depth in the lyrics because the lyrics is who I am,” he said.
“R.E.D.” — out this week — features more dance-sounding tracks as well as R&B ones. The singer-songwriter, who has multiple hits of his own and has also written smashes for others like Rihanna and Beyonce, talks about the new album, songwriting, collaborating with country star Tim McGraw and being a father in an interview with The Associated Press.
AP: “Let Me Love You” was co-written by Sia and you usually don’t write with other people. How did that song come about?
Ne-Yo: I know for a fact that there are incredible songwriters out there, but I just always feel like everything I do comes from a really personal place, and for another songwriter to come in and write a song for me that’s going to be as personal as me writing a song for me — I didn’t feel like that was possible. But even with that being said, I’m never going to turn down a hit. If somebody’s coming at me with a hit, I'm not that dude.
AP: Sia also co-write Rihanna's hit “Diamonds” and she’s blowing up.
Ne-Yo: She’s getting all this recognition and attention now and she doesn’t want to be an artist anymore. ... I don't blame her. Being an artist definitely has its pros and its cons. ... You can walk down the street and have the No. 1 song in the world and nobody bothers you.
AP: You have two children, and I wonder how parenthood has changed making music for you.
Ne-Yo: It’s changed the way that I write to a degree. I used to pride myself on how fast I can write a song, how many songs I can write in a small amount of time. Now it’s definitely quality over quantity. ... It’s that now because the better the song the more likely somebody’s going to buy it; someone buys it that means I get money and I can take care of my kids.
AP: What was the energy like when you made the new album?
Ne-Yo: There was almost an essence of me needing to prove something. ... My last album didn’t perform as well as my previous three, and I felt with this one, I definitely needed to remind me this is what I do.
AP: Since “Libra Scale” didn’t do as well, did you approach this album differently?
Ne-Yo: The approach going into “R.E.D.” did have a little bit to do with “Libra Scale.” In the realm of what “Libra Scale” was, there was a lot of things that I was trying to do that I had never done before and that I didn’t take the time to gain the proper knowledge of before I attempted.
AP: That was pretty honest.
Ne-Yo: I am 100 percent the guy that if I know that it was my fault, I’m going to say it’s my fault. ... No excuses over here. ... I take full blame, full responsibility.
AP: You’re also very honest on “Cracks in Mr. Perfect,” where you sing about infidelity. Was that one easy or hard to write?
Ne-Yo: That was the one record I was a little afraid of. People are going to hear this and change the way they view me. ... It was easy because it’s things that’s always floating in the back of my head anyway. The difficulty came in with the honesty. Like, do I want to be this honest? Do I want to say to somebody, “I’m a man of my word, but only when I’m not lying”?
AP: How did you and Tim McGraw get together?
Ne-Yo: I actually ran into Tim McGraw's manager in London and ... when we played “She Is,” I was like, “This is my take on a country song. Hopefully if all goes well, you’ll see me performing this at the Country Music Awards with Tim McGraw or somebody.” And Tim McGraw’s manager happened to be in the audience and he was like, “We can make that happen.”
AP: What are your favorite albums of the year?
Ne-Yo: 2 Chainz ... Elle Varner ... I’ve been singing Lana Del Rey’s praises recently. ... Got to throw Frank (Ocean) in there. ... Superbrave cat to do what he did. (Earlier this year, Ocean revealed that his first love was a man.) When I heard about it, I honestly didn’t think it was as big of a deal as everybody made (it). ... If you listen to his music, Frank is the kind of cat that’s going to do what he wants to do. ... The dude references “Dragon Ball Z” in a R&B song ... so for him to come out and say what he said ... I’m like, “OK, that just makes perfect sense with who he is.”
November 15, 2012
You’ll have lots of contact with folks you wanted to hear from this week. Your telephone is your best tool, and you’ll enjoy talking and listening to many supportive and loving friends. A letter may arrive with an invitation. Soul Affirmation: I smile and trust in the powers beyond myself.
You are too kind this week and it’s a wonderful thing. By doing things for others without thought of a reward, you’re racking up beneficial vibrations for your future! Take personal pleasure in what you do for others this week. Soul Affirmation: Moving slowly is often the fastest way to get there.
Change your routine this week. Even a minor change in the way you approach your week will enable you to feel happier and more adventurous. Try something new, and you’ll be happy with the outcome. Soul Affirmation: I know that my life is full of good things. I enjoy!
Create a map in your mind to chart a course through unfamiliar waters. You’ll be as happy as you make up your mind to be. Because you are so wise, you’ll be at peace with all outcomes. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for who I am this week.
It’s a good week to reflect on your personal network of friends and co-workers. You are surrounded by supportive vibrations, and you’ll be counting your blessings by the end of this busy week! Soul Affirmation: It’s bad only if I see it that way.
Find a way to love the work you do this week. Use your creativity and wonderful sense of humor and you’ll be finished with chores early enough to relax. Use your energy wisely. Soul Affirmation: I let worry fly away.
A romantic partner returns and wants to pick up the past and start over. Friends are good to have, but this particular friend will be best kept as just that . . . a friend! Enjoy your ability to choose what’s best for you. Soul Affirmation: My spirit gives me limitless possibilities.
This week is a week to let your diplomatic side work for you. Forcing will get you nowhere. No man or woman is an island. Focus on togetherness even if you are annoyed with people. Soul Affirmation: Charm is my middle name this week.
You have wonderful ideas about interior decorating. Be ready to accept a great opportunity at work. Money doesn’t matter this week. Don’t make finances more important than they need to be. Soul Affirmation: I appear to others what I know myself to be.
Keep all your ducks in a row this week. No mixing work with fun or business with pleasure. Save your affection for the home front and stay focused on the work in front of you on the job. Things are working out perfectly. Soul Affirmation: This week I find joy in the gifts that life has already given me.
Why not take each perfect moment as it comes? You are struggling to find a solution that time can and will provide. Perform your tasks cheerfully this week and let the future take care of itself. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy each now moment. Soul Affirmation: Worry will only create more worry. I stop all worry.
Your anxiety about an important issue can now be seen as needless. You don’t have to worry! Have faith that things are working out perfectly and they will! This week especially consider all options before you make decisions. Soul Affirmation: I am uplifted by the presence of friends.
November 08, 2012
Jermaine Jackson wants to change his name to something a little brighter. He’s asking a court to allow him to alter his famous surname and become Jermaine Jacksun.
The older brother of Michael Jackson filed a name change petition on Tuesday in Los Angeles, stating the switch was for “artistic reasons.”
The filing doesn’t elaborate, but Jackson’s friend Steve Dennis, who was speaking on the singer’s behalf, said it’s not unheard of for artists to change their names. “Phonetically, it changes nothing,” he said.
“It is something he has chosen to do, and it's fair to say that you cannot blame this one on the boogie, you’ve got to blame it on the sunshine,” Dennis said, in a play on the Jackson 5 disco hit, “Blame it on the Boogie.”
Jackson has been touring with his brothers in recent months and has been promoting his book about his superstar brother titled “You Are Not Alone.”
A hearing on whether Jackson will become Jacksun is scheduled for Feb. 22 in Los Angeles.
November 15, 2012
By Tony Jones
Special to the NNPA from The Tri-State Defender
A federal court in Texas has granted Memphis-connected soul music legend Al Bell the rights to his iconic song “Whoomp! (There It Is).”
Described by The Hollywood Reporter as “one of the fastest selling songs in music history,” the verdict orders the music firm DM Records to pay Bell after it was established that the company was illegally licensing the use of the song.
In Memphis to give a speech on the opening day (Oct. 29) of the Berklee College of Music’s City Music Network Conference at the Westin Hotel downtown, Bell commented briefly on his victory.
“They kept trying to muddy the water to try to confuse the judge, hoping that I would get uptight and give up,” Bell told The New Tri-State Defender. “But what they did not know is I’m not the type to believe that a thing can’t be done. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee!”
DM bought the song as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy sale Bell underwent for his company, Bellmark Records. The sale included at least two other best sellers, “Dazzy Duks,” and Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.”
Bell retained licensing rights to the songs through his song-publishing firm, Alvert Music. Licensing permission and fees had to be approved by Alvert Music before anyone else could use the song. This meant that DM Records, or anyone else that had purchased Belmark, could sell the song but not re-sell it without Bell’s permission.
The judgment also carried a $2.5 million jury award to Bell, who had fought the case for decades in varied legal venues.
Bell said his experience in the industry fed his belief that he would eventually win.
“They were counting on the judges not understanding the complexity of song copyright laws. Like most people, they generally understand the legal basis of copyrighting itself, but the complications of song copyrights are entirely another matter, but this judge saw right through it all.”
The ruling established that as the song’s publisher, Bell was the only one with the right of resale to the tune.
Resale value is a big deal in the advertising and marketing worlds, where song licensing is a multi-billion dollar industry. For example, the 2011 ad campaign by AT&T was based on the public’s instant recognition of “Whoomp! (There It Is).”
DM Records attorney Richard Wolfe said the fight is not over.
“This is round one and there are many issues here,” said Wolfe. “Ultimately, this will be decided by a jury and an appeals court in New Orleans.”
Bell said he anticipated such a step. He vows to fight until the matter is settled by payment on his behalf.
November 08, 2012
By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL | Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Rihanna rocked the lingerie look at Wednesday night's Victoria’s Secret fashion show in New York, providing the highlight of the live-music soundtrack and holding her own on the catwalk with some of the world’s top models.
And those models even had props, including Adriana Lima’s ringmaster wand, Doutzen Kroes’ body cage and several pairs of the oversized wings that the retailer has made its signature. It would be a close contest who got the biggest wings: Toni Garrn’s giant poppy pair or Miranda Kerr’s swan-style feathered pouf. Only Lily Aldridge could boast star-spangled wings that shot out silver sparkles.
Alessandra Ambrosio’s orchid-petal wings might have lacked a little grandeur, but she made up for it with a $2.5 million jeweled “floral fantasy bra.”
Still, wearing a sheer pink mini that gave glimpses of her bra, Rihanna sang “Fresh Out the Runway” at the end of the corset-and-garter parade and she was the one to grab the audience’s biggest applause.
The fashion show has become a pre-holiday season tradition for the retailer. CBS will turn it into a one-hour special, which also had performances from Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars, to be shown on Dec. 4.
This year’s event had a slight twist. It started with an announcer noting that Victoria's Secret and CBS had each made a donation to relief efforts for Superstorm Sandy, and a thank you to the National Guard members who are based out of the Lexington Avenue Armory that has for years been home to the show.
Mostly, though, models are encouraged to smile, ham it up and show off the extra time at the gym that most admit to in the weeks beforehand. “It’s highly televised, and you take that into consideration,” said model Joan Smalls ahead of the show. “This is kind of not the same as other runways. You have to prepare your body: No. 1 is the wings are heavy, and No. 2 is you have to be comfortable with your body because the camera will pick up on it if you’re not comfortable and confident.”
There’s an emphasis on glitz, skin and dramatic production here, not wearable undergarment trends for typical Victoria’s Secret shoppers. It was divided into six sections: Circus, complete with acrobats, contortionists and a sword eater; Dangerous Liaisons; Pink Is Us; Silver Screen Angels; Angels in Bloom; and Calendar Girls, which allowed Bruno Mars to serenade a model for each month of the year.
For his first song, “Beauty and the Beat,” Bieber, wearing low-slung white pants and a white leather studded vest, sat alone with his guitarist in the mellowest part of the show. For “As Long As You Love Me,” however, he brought in backup dancers and interacted with the models while moving around a giant makeshift pinball machine.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Bieber on the pink carpet before the show. “I would rather be here than anywhere in the world.”