Paul McCartney Tops Eminem for His First No. 1 Album in Over 3 Decades

“Egypt Station,” the new solo album from the former Beatle, tops the Billboard chart this week.
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Eminem Tops Himself, and the Billboard Chart, With Surprise ‘Kamikaze’

The album came out on Aug. 31 with no warning, and bested the rapper’s release from late last year.
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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ tops weekend box office

“Crazy Rich Asians” had another crazy rich weekend at the box office, leading the pack this Labor Day weekend.


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Drake’s ‘Scorpion’ Easily Tops the Chart for a Fifth Week

The rapper’s double LP is up to 1.8 billion streams in the United States, but it faces competition next week from Travis Scott’s “Astroworld.”
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Ovechkin tops off first Cup with Conn Smythe

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin took home playoff MVP honors after scoring a team-best 15 goals this postseason, including one in Thursday’s Stanley Cup Final clincher.
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Sweden tops Switzerland to win hockey worlds

Forward Filip Forsberg scored the decisive goal in a shootout to edge Switzerland 3-2 and give Sweden a third world title in six years.
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Pink tops People’s beautiful issue

Pop singer Pink beats off future Royal Meghan Markle and the four female stars of ‘Black Panther’ to be named People’s Most Beautiful. Rough Cut – no reporter narration.


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‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Finally Tops ‘Black Panther’ For No. 1 Weekend Box Office

John Boyega Attends Special Screening of Pacific Rim: Uprising in NYC

Source: Ilya Savenok / GettyImages / Ilya Savenok / GettyImages

Black Panther is no longer no. 1, but the new film in the top spot is worthy. Pacific Rim: Uprising, which stars John Boyega, won the weekend box office with $ 151 million. 

Not too shabby for a sequel.

Reports Deadline:

Legendary/Universal’s Pacific Rim: Uprising came in slightly higher than Saturday estimates, topping $ 150M worldwide on its opening weekend with $ 150.5M. The debut clocked $ 122.5M at the international box office, including $ 65M in China which was the biggest home for the original 2013 film — and a large part of why the sequel was greenlit under the previous leadership of Wanda-owned Legendary.

As for Black Panther, it is now the no. 1 grossing superhero flick, of all time.

Bong bong.

Photo: Getty

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#IWD2018: Rihanna Tops Apple Music’s Streaming Women Artists List For International Women’s Day

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Source: PHILIPPE WOJAZER / Getty

International Women’s Day is taking place around the globe, with women being recognized and hailed for their various and innumerable contributions to society. To commemorate the celebration, Apple Music has unveiled a list of its top 20 streaming women artists including playlists to highlight the contribution of women to music.

Rihanna, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Adele make up the top five streaming women artists according to Apple Music. On the Hip-Hop side of things, Nicki Minaj sits at No. 12, while young songstress on the rise SZA is at No. 9 at the moment.

Other usual suspects include Pink, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, and Miley Cyrus among others. Check out the full list below and Apple Music’s Instagram post for more.

To take in some tunes, check out these playlists: Essential Feminism, Who Runs The World, and Bold Women.

Instagram Photo

1. Rihanna
2. Taylor Swift
3. Beyonce
4. Ariana Grande
5. Adele
6. Sia
7. Lana Del Rey
8. Selena Gomez
9. SZA
10. Lady Gaga
11. Katy Perry
12. Nicki Minaj
13. Halsey
14. Demi Lovato
15. Fifth Harmony
16. Pink
17. Kehlani
18. Mariah Carey
19. Little Mix
20. Miley Cyrus

Photo: Getty

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Céline Dion Collection Tops $10 Million Sales, Eyes Asia Growth

HONG KONG–It’s not yet been a full year since singing legend Céline Dion launched her eponymous bag and accessories line, but after an initial launch in North America, the brand is mapping out ambitions to cultivate the Asian market.
Innee-Sedona International, the Asia partner for Bugatti Group which co-owns of the Celine Dion Collection, said with sales that have topped $ 10 million after just three collections, the company is now setting up an Asian distribution network in earnest. 
“Celine, her fanbase is worldwide,” Jennifer Chan, Bugatti Group managing director said, speaking at Hong Kong Fashion Week. “We can see in Hong Kong a lot of people know her and we were surprised. In China, a lot of people may not know her name but they know her songs as she was in the 2013 Spring Gala with Song Zuying.”
Dion took the stage for CCTV’s annual New Year Gala special, one of the most widely watched programs on Chinese television, singing in Mandarin.
Positioned slightly below Michael Kors and Coach, the collection is also expected to get some uplift in the region as the singer begins an international tour. Last week, she announced concerts across seven Asian cities starting in June.
“At the moment, she’s not going

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Disney and Pixar’s ‘Coco’ Tops Box Office For Third Time

The animated family film “Coco” has topped the box office for a third time on a quiet, pre “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” weekend in theaters.


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Michael Jackson Tops Forbes’ Top-Earning Dead Celebrities List

Michael Jackson died eight years ago, but he’s still generating millions of dollars.
Jackson is atop the Forbes list of top-earning dead…
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Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic Tour Tops $129 Million Earned (and Counting)

Bruno Mars has topped $ 129 million in ticket sales so far from the ongoing tour in support of 24K Magic, his third studio album released in November…
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Essential Collection: Four Tops – Four Tops

Four Tops - Essential Collection: Four Tops  artwork

Essential Collection: Four Tops

Four Tops

Genre: R&B/Soul

Price: $ 10.99

Release Date: January 1, 2000

© ℗ 2000 Universal Music Enterprises, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

iTunes Store: Top Albums in R&B/Soul

‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Tops The Box Office

Critics loved “Logan Lucky” and gave a big collective shrug to “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” but when it came to the test of the marketplace, audiences went their own way.


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Mark Wahlberg tops highest paid actor list

Mark Wahlberg tops the list of Forbes’ highest paid actors, making over twice the amount of Emma Stone, who was announced as the highest paid actress. Rollo Ross reports.


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‘The Dark Tower’ Tops Slow Box Office Weekend With $19.5 Million

After a decade of development and several postponements, the long-awaited Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Tower” debuted with an estimated $ 19.5 million in North American ticket sales, narrowly e…


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Calvin Harris tops Forbes list of highest-earning DJs for fifth year

Calvin Harris is the top earning DJ on the planet. Ben Gruber reports.


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‘Dunkirk’ Tops The Box Office For Second Week In A Row

“The Emoji Movie” survived negative reviews but couldn’t conquer “Dunkirk,” which had enough fight left to conquer the box office for a second weekend in a row.


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Box Office: ‘The Dark Tower’ Tops Sluggish Weekend, ‘Detroit’ Collapses


Halle Berry thriller ‘Kidnap’ made a modest bow.

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Hannah Davis’ ’60s Hairstyle Tops Our Best Beauty List This Week

Hannah Davis is having an amazing week, especially after Derek Jeter recently confirmed their engagement

The 25-year-old model stepped out wearing her shiny new ring and voluminous ’60s hair to attend the T-Mobile Un-carrier X launch on Nov. 10 in Los Angeles, California. Her mod-inspired look was made complete with sideswept bangs, a teased crown and thick winged eyeliner. Davis added a modern touch by swiping on a nude shimmer lip gloss. 

Could Davis be experimenting with bridal hairstyle ideas? Guess we’ll have to just wait and see! Check out her ’60s-inspired hair below, and find out who else made our best beauty list.

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Jackson tops charts with “Unbreakable”

Janet Jackson's "Unbreakable" tops the Billboard chart, her seventh album to make the number one spot. John Russell reports.
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Jackson tops charts with “Unbreakable”

Janet Jackson’s “Unbreakable” tops the Billboard chart, her seventh album to make the number one spot. John Russell reports.


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Essential Collection: Four Tops – Four Tops

Four Tops - Essential Collection: Four Tops  artwork

Essential Collection: Four Tops

Four Tops

Genre: R&B/Soul

Price: $ 9.99

Release Date: November 7, 2000

© ℗ 2000 Universal Music Enterprises, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

iTunes Store: Top Albums in R&B/Soul

Four Tops Now – Four Tops


Four Tops Now
Four Tops

Release Date:
October 2, 2015
Total Songs:
12

Genre:
Pop

Price:
$ 7.99

Copyright
℗ 2015 Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.


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Stevie Wonder Tops U.K. Albums Chart After Doing Carpool Karaoke

Stevie Wonder has topped the U.K. album chart after he made an appearance during “Carpool Karaoke” on The Late Late Show With James Corden. The soul singer’s Definitive Collection skyrocketed to number one on the iTunes U.K. album chart after the video of them singing “Carpool Karaoke” went viral.
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Bundchen tops Forbes list of highest paid models

Gisele Bundchen tops Forbes’ list of highest paid models for the ninth year in a row. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).


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Justin Bieber Retains Australia’s Singles Chart Crown, Troye Sivan Tops Albums Chart

Taylor Swift’s favorite new singer is also Australia’s hottest young success story. 
Troye Sivan’s debut Wild (EMI) has opened at the…
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“Straight Outta Compton” tops the box office for third straight weekend

“Straight Outta Compton” tops the box office for third straight weekend with no competition from the new films opening. Nathan Frandino reports.


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Box Office: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Tops Friday as New Additions Stumble


The N.W.A biopic will pass $ 100 million in its second weekend while ‘Sinister 2,’ ‘American Ultra’ and ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ have quiet debuts.

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‘Minute of silence’ for Europe’s refugees tops Austrian iTunes chart

By Kieran Guilbert LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A minute’s silence recorded by an Austrian artist to protest against the treatment of migrants in Europe and raise money for refugees in a center near Vienna has topped the country’s iTunes chart, despite only being released on Friday. Proceeds from Raoul Haspel’s track Schweigeminute (“Minute’s Silence”), which beat German DJ Robin Schulz to capture top spot through pre-orders alone earlier this week, will go toward aid for people in the asylum processing center in Traiskirchen. More than 2,000 refugees in Traiskirchen have been sleeping in the open for weeks, braving heat of around 40 degrees Celsius and rainstorms wrapped in blankets on the grass, and Amnesty International last week called their treatment “scandalous”.
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Billboard 200 Chart Moves: Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ Album Tops 3 Million Sold

On the latest Billboard 200 chart (dated Aug. 29), Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights album opened at No. 1 with 345,000 equivalent album units earned in…
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‘Compton’ Tops Box Office

The boys from Compton smashed opening weekend expectations, while the stylish "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." struggled to find its footing.


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Disney’s ‘Descendants’ soundtrack tops Billboard album chart

The Disney Channel’s “Descendants” soundtrack tops the Billboard album chart while rapper Future and pop artists Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran hold their top spots. Helena Williams reports.


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Dr Dre’s ‘Compton’ tops UK chart

Dr. Dre is at the top of the British Albums chart with his album Compton, inspired by the story of his original group, N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton.
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Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye” tops the UK Singles Chart, Dre Dre scores UK first number one album

Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor top the Official UK Singles Chart with their collaboration “Marvin Gaye”, and Dr Dre scores his first UK number one album with “Compton”. Holly Rubenstein reports.


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Which Book Tops Our Republican-Candidate Bestseller List?

Which Book Tops Our Republican-Candidate Bestseller List?

Which Book Tops Our Republican-Candid…
GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz recently feuded with the ‘New York Times’ after they refused to put his new book, ‘A Time for Truth,’ on their bestseller list. To appease Mr. Cruz, we’ve created our own bestseller list ranking the books by current Republican candidates.
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Bernard Arnault Tops French Rich List

ISN’T IT RICH?: Axel Dumas and the three families that control Hermès had a very good year, moving up the ranking of France’s richest people by one position to the number-three slot with a fortune estimated at 24.1 billion euros, or $ 26.9 at current exchange.
The Dumas, Guerrand and Puech families trail Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, still number one with a fortune of 34.66 billion euros, or $ 38.6 billion; and L’Oréal heiress Lilian Bettencourt at number two, with a fortune of 30.9 billion, or $ 34.4 billion.
Several fashion families slipped slightly in the annual list compiled by weekly news magazine Challenges. Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, whose families control Chanel but last year sold Bourjois, moved into the seventh slot from number five with a fortune of 16.5 billion euros, or $ 18.4 billion, while François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Kering, slipped one slot to number eight with a fortune of 12.7 billion euros, or $ 14.2 billion.
While derided for its high taxes and regulations that are unfriendly to business, France echoes the U.S., U.K and India in that more and more wealth is concentrated in fewer hands.
According to Challenges, citing data from the International Monetary fund, 10.5

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Beyond Crop Tops and Cutoffs: How to Dress for a Music Festival Like a Street Style Star

Pernille Tesibaek

There’s so much more to concert attire than crop tops and cut-offs—just ask Danish street style star Pernille Teisbaek who heads today to Denmark’s answer to Coachella, the Roskilde Festival. How to infuse some of Tesibaek’s trademark Nordic polish in a festival look? Try unexpected combinations like a maxi dress with a sporty pair of fresh white kicks, or luxe-casual touches like a denim button-up skirt with a Chanel sweatshirt. Here, see a chic sneak peek of what the much-lensed Teisbaek will be sporting on the beat-dropping grounds of Roskilde.

The post Beyond Crop Tops and Cutoffs: How to Dress for a Music Festival Like a Street Style Star appeared first on Vogue.

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Lululemon Recalls 300,000 Tops That Are Hitting People In The Face. Seriously.

If you thought the controversy surrounding Lululemon‘s sheer yoga pants was the end of their clothing kerfuffles, then you haven’t been hit in the face with the brand’s hard-tipped drawstring tops.

Lululemon is recalling over 300,000 women’s tops that have elastic drawstrings with hard ends, because they have “whipped some of the wearers in the face, causing injuries,” CNN reports.


lululemon hoodie
Lululemon Dance Studio Jacket from Cottage Lane Sales/eBay

So far the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that seven injuries have been reported. As a result, the Vancouver-based company is recalling the clothing items causing the mishaps, a total of 133,000 tops in the U.S. and 185,000 in Canada.

“Our main priority is ensuring the product works for our guests, and we believe this is the necessary proactive action,” a spokeswoman for Lululemon told CNN.com. “We are committed to making our product right for our guests and regret any inconvenience this may have caused them.”

In the meantime, the CPSC suggests that customers who own the drawstring tops should stop wearing them, remove the draw cord or contact Lululemon to request a new, non-elastic draw cord with written instructions on how to replace the draw cord.

Tops recalled include the Carry and Go hoodie, Cool Down jacket, Course-ette jacket, Cozy Up jacket, Dance Studio jacket, Dance sweatshirt, Don’t Hurry Be Happy pullover, Gratitude wrap, Necessity jacket, Proactive jacket, Refresh snap up, Run Sun Blocker pullover, Run Track N Field jacket, Run With It jacket, Sanctuary jacket, Savasana tunic, Sing Floss Travel jacket, Stow ’N Go jacket, Stride jacket, Summertime tunic, Varsity hoodie, Victory jacket and Wear With All jacket.

Though Lululemon attests there haven’t been any “serious injuries” from the tops, it’s good to see that the company isn’t going to risk them happening.


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Wiz Khalifa Tops Billboard’s Songs of the Summer Chart

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‘San Andreas’ Tops Box Office

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Not Into Crop Tops? We’ve Got You Covered

Crop Tops

When it comes to the warmer months, the clothes tend to peel away to less and less, revealing more and more. Consider the most abbreviated example of them all—the crop top. Its purpose? To catch the breeze, show off what you’re working with and bring the eye towards that lovely, trim waist of yours. But what if you’d rather keep your abdominal section somewhat under wraps, for reasons professional, personal, or any mixture therein? Fear not: It’s possible to find clothing that emphasizes the waist while still remaining fully clothed. “The idea here is to lengthen the legs and shorten the torso,” says Vogue.com Market Editor Chelsea Zalopany. “To achieve that, make sure that whatever you wear hits right above the hips to visually trick the eye into separating the midsection.”

But that doesn’t mean that your summer wardrobe need sacrifice any ounce of fun, flattering options. Try a pair of high-waisted pants or shorts—it does not matter the wideness of the flare or the cut, as long as it rises to or above the navel. A-line dresses are just as flirty as a cut-off shirt, and are designed to highlight the midriff, while a smartly tied shirt allows the wearer to control where the top hits. And above all, never, ever, ever underestimate the power of a waist-cinching belt.

Here, the six best ways to flaunt your lovely figure in style this summer without ever feeling exposed.

The post Not Into Crop Tops? We’ve Got You Covered appeared first on Vogue.

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Taylor Swift Tops ‘Maxim’ List, Promotes Feminism

Taylor Swift can't be stopped!
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‘Avengers’ tops box office; ‘Hot Pursuit’ flops

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is still the 800-pound gorilla at the box office, and it’s poised to break another box office record.


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‘Avengers’ Tops Box Office

The “Age of Ultron” is not over. The Avengers sequel has topped the domestic box office for the second week with an estimated $ 77.2 million according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.


Access Hollywood Latest News

‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Tops Charts, Crushes ‘Hot Pursuit’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The “Age of Ultron” is not over. The Avengers sequel topped the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row with an estimated $ 77.2 million according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

The film has earned a staggering $ 312.9 million in just 10 days in theaters, tying with “The Dark Knight” to become the second-fastest film to do so. While a wild success by any measure, the film is still lagging behind the record-setting precedent of 2012’s “The Avengers,” which made $ 103.1 million in its second weekend in theatres and had a domestic total of $ 373 million at the same point in the cycle.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” also added $ 68.3 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $ 875.3 million. The Disney and Marvel sequel opens in China on May 12 with midnight screenings. The midnight sellouts have even prompted Chinese IMAX screens to add 3 a.m. showings to their schedule.

“Hot Pursuit,” meanwhile, failed to make a significant mark in its debut weekend, earning a less-than-impressive $ 13.3 million. The Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara buddy comedy, which cost a reported $ 35 million to produce, was projected to earn at least $ 18 million out of the gates.

“Critics were very tough on ‘Hot Pursuit,’ ” said Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Considering the power of female audiences at the box office, and the frequency of female-driven films to over-perform, the lagging enthusiasm around “Hot Pursuit” is puzzling.

“It was a formula for whatever reason didn’t resonate with the critics, and I think that had an impact on its box office,” Dergarabedian said.

Warner Bros. EVP of Distribution Jeff Goldstein noted that the film attracted an older and primarily female audience, which is one that doesn’t necessarily rush out on opening weekend to check out a film. Audiences were 62 percent female and 82 percent over the age of 25.

The Mother’s Day holiday might help catapult the “Hot Pursuit” to a stronger Sunday, Goldstein said.

The weekend between “Ultron’s” opening and next week’s debut of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” on paper seemed like the ideal spot to place a mid-budget comedy. But it’s also possible that other titles further into their runs might have divided attentions, including the third-place film, “The Age of Adaline,” and “Ex Machina,” which snagged the sixth spot as it continues to expand.

“It’s a very competitive marketplace out there,” Dergarabedian said. “There are a lot of cool options out there right now for entertainment in theaters.”

Still, “Hot Pursuit” could surprise yet, especially when it reaches the small screen.

“Furious 7” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” rounded out the top five with $ 5.3 million and $ 5.2 million, respectively.

Ultimately, it’s still an “Avengers” world, at least until “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” open next weekend.

“‘Ultron’ is just so big. It’s such a behemoth. It’s hard for a newcomer to get attention,” Dergarabedian said.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1.”Avengers: Age of Ultron,” $ 77.2 million ($ 68.3 million international).

2.”Hot Pursuit,” $ 13.3 million ($ 1.4 million international).

3.”The Age of Adaline,” $ 5.6 million ($ 2.6 million international).

4.”Furious 7,” $ 5.3 million ($ 19.6 million international).

5.”Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” $ 5.2 million ($ 3 million international).

6.”Ex Machina,” $ 3.5 million.

7.”Home,” $ 3 million ($ 6 million international).

8.”Woman In Gold,” $ 1.7 million.

9.”Cinderella,” $ 1.6 million ($ 4 million international).

10.”Unfriended,” $ 1.4 million ($ 3.2 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” $ 68.3 million.

2. “Furious 7,” $ 19.6 million.

3. “Chappie,” $ 9.8 million.

4. “Pitch Perfect 2,” $ 8.8 million.

5. “Home,” $ 6 million.

6. “Silent Separation,” $ 5.5 million.

7. “Helios,” $ 4.8 million.

8. “The Left Ear,” $ 4.3 million.

9. “Cinderella,” $ 4 million.

10. “Unfriended,” $ 3.2 million.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr

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Sam Smith and John Legend top UK Singles Chart, Kendrick Lamar tops UK Album Chart

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Members of the band Magic! arrive on the red carpet at the MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVA) in TorontoLONDON (Reuters) – Canadian band Magic! moved up one place to top the British singles charts on Sunday with their reggae-infused debut track "Rude", the Official Charts Company said. The single toppled Cheryl Cole's "Crazy Stupid Love" to take the number one spot, boosted by internet streaming which was added to the charts data last month alongside physical sales. In the albums chart, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran continued his run at number one, topping the bill for a sixth week with "X", while Dolly Parton's "Blue Smoke – The Best Of" remained in second place. …



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Chats with ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, Rich Robinson, The English Beat’s Dave Wakeling and Leela James, Plus Sin Cos Tan

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A Conversation with ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons

Mike Ragogna: Billy, in addition to ZZ Top’s tour, there’s a new double disc retrospective CD at Warners being released as well as your Live At Montreux concert at Eagle Rock. Considering your over forty years together are being presented yet contrasted with these two releases, what have you observed to be the biggest changes between the ZZ Top of 1969 and now?

Billy F. Gibbons: We have a much better way of getting to the gigs. Back then it was a van with all the gear stuffed inside and now we go by motor coach and our gear is transported in a semi. The crowds now are a bit bigger… We once played a gig attended by exactly one paying customer but we gave him the full show; bought him a Coke at the end to show our appreciation. Did we mention the food? We’ve come a long way from hash and Big Red Soda but always reserve the right to go back.

MR: Your Live At Montreux 2013 DVD and Blu-ray presents ZZ Top features material from the very early days. Do those songs still have the same impact on you and the guys as they did when you first began performing?

BFG: Absolutely, yes. The prism of time has a way of turning coal into diamonds. We loved those early songs then and still do now. You know… We’re the same three guys–wait for it–playing the same three chords.

MR: Do you have a couple of favorite moments from the Live At Montreux 2013 performances? You’ve played Montreux before, but other than its having been recorded for a release, in your opinion, was there something particularly magical or different about this concert that separates it from prior Montreux performances?

BFG: It was definitely special. We wanted to do something to honor the memory of Claude Nobs who founded the festival and had been our friend for many years. He died quite unexpectedly earlier in that year so we knew we had to do something very special. Since he was a jazz aficionado, we thought we’d jazz things up a big and, to that end, flew in two jazz cats from Austin–Mike Flanigin on B-3 and Van Wilkes on second guitar. Yes, in Claude’s honor, ZZ Top was a five piece groove unit for part of the set.

MR: Does the band have any favorites from the catalog that you still can’t wait to get to in the set list?

BFG: We have an inclusionary policy. If we recorded it or sort of know it we’re game to play it. We perform songs from “ZZ Top’s First Album” quite regularly and do some stuff we’ve never recorded like Willie Brown’s “Future Blues.” That song dates from 1930 and, as you know, Willie Brown is named checked by none other than Robert Johnson in “Crossroads.” He recorded it for Paramount Records, the label that Jack White has been highlighting of late. And we also do some new stuff.. quite a few off our most recent album, La Futura, the title of which may very well have been inspired by that selfsame Willie Brown, don’tcha know?

MR: At the time, how surprising was the huge success of “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man” as both audio and videos hits to the band?

BFG: We approached the video revolution very gingerly. The band figured to just kind of stay in the background and keep the focus on the pretty girls and that little red car. Seems like everybody didn’t mind we were bystanders in our own videos and the rest, as they say, is history.

MR: In the eighties–the age of videos breaking or significantly supporting recording artists–ZZ Top created some of the most fun and outrageous clips in rotation. Your videos maintained a video theme for the group, as if each video were an episode of a series. How did the scripts come together and was there a point when ZZ Top was writing songs with the videos in mind?

BFG: We worked with our renegade director, Tim Newman, Randy’s cousin, as it happened. Tim is very inventive and intuitive. Although we didn’t write songs with video actually in mind, yet we do tend to think and, perhaps, create, with a subliminal cinematic sense.

MR: What are your thoughts about some of your other trademark songs like “Tush” and “La Grange”?

BFG: They’re great. “La Grange” put us on the map in terms of Top 40 radio and we just love to do that “haw, haw, haw” part. “Tush” was written in about as long as it takes to perform. It just jumped up during a searingly sweltering soundcheck and it’s been part of the set ever since. The subject matter in both songs seems to retain a certain universal appeal.

MR: “Degüello”, with “I’m Bad I’m Nationwide,” “I Thank You,” “Cheap Sunglasses,” and more is considered one of the band’s best albums and personally, I don’t think there’s a weak moment. Might this have been the album that changed everything up as far as ZZ Top’s approach to creating projects?

BFG: The entirety of the “Degüello” recordings, and certainly the mixing, unfolded in Memphis and that soulful setting kind of changed the way we thought about recording and the mystery of the process. Great records made in Memphis goes back for decades and when ZZ hit town, the skill set was in place when we jumped in. “I Thank You,” being a Sam and Dave song that was a Stax Records hit is just that–a thank you to Memphis and the vibe it imbues.

MR: Beautiful. So the band is coming up on 45 years of working together with its original lineup. What’s the musical and personal partnership like with you, Dusty and Frank after all these years?

BFG: It’s intact and ready to go for another 45. We three have a really fine time getting out there playing. We maintain a constant reunion of that early era if you like, so one can think of the last 3 decades as keeping one foot in them blues! On occasion, arriving at a venue early, the game is racing radio controlled cars over the parking lot. Yes, remaining eighteen is our mental immaturity and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that… Rock on…!

MR: What do you think the state of bluesrock is in these days? Do you think there are any acts out there that might represent some of the best of the field?

BFG: There’ a host of great acts out and about. Like what Black Joe Louis & the Honeybears are doing in Austin and how the Black Keys are putting it down from their current Nashville base. There are lots more… What about Serbian blues chanteuse Ana Popovic? The girl can play. As far as pure singers are concerned, we’re big Shemekia Copeland fans.

MR: Traditional question…what advice do you have for new artists?

BFG: Get out there and play! We don’t know of any other way, especially, if you don’t have pin-up looks.

MR: Any plans or projects in the works for the band or individually in the immediate future?

BFG: We’re thinking about our next album…already have some songs rattling around. The big news for us is a string of dates coming up in a few months with Jeff Beck. That is going to be a tour when we wish we could be in the audience.

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A Conversation with The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson

Mike Ragogna: Rich, The Ceaseless Sight, what’s the vision of the album and what was the creative process?

Rich Robinson: I knew I wanted to make a record and it worked out perfectly, time-wise. I knew we weren’t going to be touring after 2013. Instead of going in with full songs, I had more skeletons. I had a chorus or a verse or whatever and then when we got into the studio, we used that energy of, “We’ve got to get this done.” We had a short time, we only had a month to make the record. A lot of times, that happens in Woodstock, or in the studio in general. You have a couple of ideas, but when you get in the context–especially with me, because I like to write with drums in the room–you get in that context and it kind of clears the path and allows for that energy to come through and create those songs. I didn’t necessarily have a context going into this record. For twenty-five years, I’ve always tried to approach making records as a collection of songs that create something slightly greater than one song as a whole piece. The sequence of a record, the songs of a record, how does the verse fit into a song, how does the chorus fit into a song, how do they songs fit into a record, how does the record fit into my body of work? How does that fit into twenty-five years of doing this? To answer the question of the uniqueness of this record, a lot of times, I would have songs done before I went into the studio. For twenty-five years, I would have ten or fifteen almost done going into the studio, but this time, like I said, I’m just using skeletons.

Some songs took a while to write. “Down The Road” was a song where I had this verse part for a long time and every time I would sit down with it it wasn’t ready to be finished and then I finished it and that was it. Then “I Know You” and “Giving Key” I wrote right there on the spot. It took about five minutes to write those songs. In a sense everything just flowed for those two songs. It doesn’t make eitehr song more or less valid, it just makes them different. Over the years with Crowes there have been songs that took me a long time to write. I wrote the verse to “Nonfiction” early on Southern Harmony but I dind’t finish it until Amorica. It took a year and a half to find the right parts to make that. There’ve been songs like that over the years. I just kind of look at it as this one giant experience as opposed to this singular experrience. But I like how they all fit into a greater piece of work.

MR: “Ceaseless Sight” has larger a concept, “Giving Key” has a larger concept. It looks like lyrically and conceptually, you took a bigger swing with this album.

RR: Yeah, I think so. I think creatively and lyrically, yeah. I focus on the music first and throughout writing the songs, I’ll come up with a melody idea or maybe a concept for the actual song, just a general, “This is about this” or “This might be about that.” Then I just sit and listen to the song over and over again in the studio and just start writing, finishing lyrics to it. But absolutely, the whole point of this record is to look forward and not look backwards and to let go of a lot of s**t. I think at least for me and I think a lot of people on Earth tend to look backwards or try to choose what’s easy or what you know. They don’t want to know what’s around the corner, and I think it’s comforting in that sense. I think we’re designed to be comforted by knowing what we can expect, so in that sense, this world is becoming more and more that way. Our politics are tailored to what we want and there are outlets now for that. “I only watch MSNBC” or “I only watch Fox News” or “I only read The Drudge Report,” you know what I mean? There doesn’t seem to be a general acceptance of what “is.” It seems like there used to be at least a general accepted idea that the world is round and gravity exists. Now it’s like, “is it really round?”

MR: You forgot how we’ve only been around for five thousand years and the dinosaurs came over on Noah’s Ark.

RR: Yeah, but the dinosaurs were vegetarians, so they didn’t eat humans and that’s why we lived. But that’s the thing! If we can’t all agree on some common, basic facts, we’re kind of f**ked. In that same sense, the way that we now consume everything–clothes and hard goods. But we also now consume politics. We consume news stories, we consume drama, we consume music, we consume books. It’s more of an approach from a service industry, so we expect our art now to service us instead of the art to challenge us…any sort of creative endeavor, since we’ve been in existence. If you were in 1600, you would go see a piece of art and you were privileged to go see it. But if you think about what you saw, the visuals were given, and it was always something greater than yourself, always something you could strive to be. It’s what Joseph Campbell talked about, it’s what the amazing people throughout the millennia talked about, something greater than oneself. Art always did that.

MR: But isn’t it the Selfie Era?

RR: Yeah, absolutely. I open an Instagram account and the majority of them are girls taking pictures of themselves, and then you see these dudes taking selfies everywhere, but it’s really interesting where that has gone. It’s an absorption of the self. If you used to be self-absorbed in the past, how many outlets could you deal with that on? Now we’re on a newer level with technology and the amount of absorption that you can have is f**king crazy. Not only can you absorb yourself in yourself, you can absorb all of the influences in life around you to yourself. You can choose the media that you can absorb, you can choose the movies, you can choose your fashion and your friends and it’s this f**king Bizarro World to me.

MR: It’s fun to glamourize and worship yourself!

RR: Absolutely! But on the flip side, and the great thing about life and the world is that everything’s a paradox. As you have that ability, there are people who are rejecting it and actually pulling out and saying, “You know what? I don’t want that.” You think about the resurgence of vinyl, you think about the resurgence of independent film and indie bands releasing records or these kinds of things and there is a movement that is growing and bubbling and it is real and they are great. There are really great bands out there. There are great bands that are out there playing and they don’t really play that game. And there are people who listen to those bands and have more respect. The harder you have to work for something, the more respect you should get. If you can walk into any store in America, hit a Shazam button and the Shazam will tell you exactly what the song is playing and then you can hit another button and all of a sudden, you own that song within three seconds. How can you have respect for that? How is that not disposable?

But if you go to a store and you buy a vinyl and you throw down physical money or a credit card, just the act of that in a living, breathing place where there’s smells, where there’s physical things that you can touch tactilely, your finger prints are on this thing and you see this album with artwork that someone took the time to make and there’s titles of songs and a gatefold. When you go home and you pull the vinyl out and put it on the turntable, something chemically happens in your brain that says, “You are experiencing something,” and you have more respect for it because it took a lot more work to do that. Listening to the record takes more work. You go to put a vinyl on and you listen to it, you’ve got to sit by it because it’s short. One side of a record is fucking short and if you get up and leave and watch TV or whatever by the time you get back your needle’s f**ked because it’s been digging into the end of the side. You have to be vigilant about it. If you’re vigilant about something, you have more respect for you’re going to pay more attention to it. It’s something that I think gives us all a deeper experience. That’s what it’s about. That’s what this record’s about. Something authentic and deep.

MR: And from a lyrical standpoint, you were clearly looking for something bigger to talk about.

RR: Oh yeah, absolutely. Universal themes that have run through humanity since the dawn of time, since people started thinking. We’ve gotten away from those things. And also spirituality, what spirituality means and where I am as a person and where we are as humans, what the f**k are we doing here? Are we literally here to just buy more s**t? It’s because, like I said, it’s so easy to just surround yourself with what’s familiar. That’s the easy way out. It’s easy to become pessimistic. It’s easy to just think, “Oh, everything sucks, everything sucks.” But the world is your perception and if you just turn your perception around and think, “Everything’s cool,” not everything does suck… There are some problems, but it’s not the problem that’s the problem, it’s how you perceive the problem, you know what I mean? In that sense, a little optimism always goes a long way.

MR: Rich, it could have been easier to just create within The Black Crowes, but you went for the solo career. It was because you wanted to say different things than what was going on with the band, right?

RR: Absolutely. Also, my brother is the mouthpiece of the Crowes and what his beliefs aren’t what my beliefs are necessarily. A lot of times when he would do press he would say a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily agree with or weren’t my position. So it’s kind of cool to get away and express myself this way. In The Crowes my expression was music, I wrote the music and Chris wrote the lyrics. Music is a more esoteric expression. There’s nothing that’s concrete in the expression of music. It’s very subconscious and ethereal and different people will get different things out of it. That’s what I love about it, but there’s also another element to that which is lyrical, and there’s also another element to expressing yourself which is being able to come out from this thing that is what it is and has been around for so long that the band is kind of stuck in it. I wanted to pull away from that and start a more free form of expression just for myself. That’s what I hoped to accomplish on the record, and all my records, but as time goes on and as I do more and get more comfortable with it I get to open up and see the light and see positivity.

MR: And it’s a ceaseless sight.

RR: Yeah, exactly.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

RR: I’ve worked with some younger bands producing and writing and the only thing that I try to tell them is whatever you do, do it for the right reason. If you write music that moves you, if you write music that’s authentic and sincere eventually someone will come around and like it, but if you only want to be a celebrity the world’s better off if you just fuck off and go do something else. Figure out another way to be a celebrity. Be on a reality TV show or whatever the f**k it is. The creation and your intention behind the creation is too important to the world. I think that people who create should feel a responsibility in their creating. You can argue whether it’s good, bad… Everyone’s going to have their opinion. Some people are going to like it, some people are going to hate it, but if your intention is true and you’re true to yourself and you write something that’s authentic and means something to you, that intention will move forth in the universe. That’s all that is lacking. If you can do that, then f**k it. Whether you’re playing in front of five people for the rest of your night or five hundred thousand people it’s still righteous because it’s coming from a more righteous place.

MR: Is this what you would have told the fifteen year-old who wrote “She Talks To Angels?”

RR: S**t, I kind of did. That was something that moved me, I wrote it and I was proud of it and it was genuine. That’s how I’ve always done it. I think there are people out there who do that, but I just think if you say, “I’m gonna go start a band,” what everyone seems to do now is focus on social media. “If I do this I’ll get fifty hits,” and then you go back to this whole selfie thing and it’s all about shameless self-promotion. “If I like this guy on Twitter then my band gets out there and the four thousand people this guy has will look at my band.” It’s almost like this weird corporate branding gone wild. It’s cross branding. “Well I like that guy and he likes me and that guy…” what it becomes is, “You do for me and I’ll do for you,” and that’s all it is. You have that and then some bands are great at videos, they have their video faces down, and then the next thing will be the social media faces and their image and the music is last. The music should come first. None of that other s**t matters. If you’re coming from a sincere place and writing music that means something to you that vibration goes out into the universe and that’s what’s righteous. If it’s meant to be the laws of attraction will attract fans to you and the fans that like you will like you because what you’re doing is not full of s**t. It’s not duping anyone, it’s not bulls**t, it’s real. That’s just how I see it.

MR: So you left because of what you had to say, what you had to get out from inside.

RR: Exactly.

MR: What does the future look like for Rich Robinson?

RR: We’re touring, obviously we have a bunch of dates coming up, it’s going to be cool, these shows are going great, the band’s really gelling well together. Joe [Magistro] and I have been playing together for ten years now, and Matt and Ted and Dan who are all in the band. We just started playing together about a month ago but it’s going really well. We’re going to focus on that, we have that going on and then we’re planning on doing another art show in the fall with my brother-in-law. We paint and do that, we’re also working on a sculpture.

MR: Do you take the paint set on the road with you?

RR: No, I work on bigger canvasses and I use oil so they wouldn’t dry. I have to sit still to do that kind of stuff.

MR: Were you always the kid who was creating things?

RR: Yeah, kind of. I would say so. It brings joy. If you follow your joy, you’re good to go.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

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photo courtesy of The English Beat

A Conversation with The English Beat’s Dave Wakeling

Mike Ragogna: Dave, you’re doing a pledge campaign tied into your new album?

Dave Wakeling: We are, indeed. This pledge campaign is to attract Medicci-like benefactors who pledge to buy the album in advance for any of the exciting premiums we put in, like you can shred guitars with Dave for an afternoon or you can go for dinner with me or you can travel on the tour bus for a couple of days or travel in the van in California. We’ve always been quite close to the people who come to our concerts, we’re pretty easy to get hold of, but this takes it a step further, now. It’s quite been fun. People can come to the studio and sing on the chorus of a song, for example, and depending on how good their voice is that’s how loud it will be in the mix.

MR: What is it that you’re expecting ultimately from this?

DW: We’ve got demos of about twenty songs and we’re feeling thoroughly confident, I must say, that we’ll use those demos and play them and put the lyrics up on the pledge page. It’s a way of trying to attract people to pledging for the project by giving them access to the behind the scenes, warts and all. Well, hopefully no warts. I think it’s really quite interesting because the record company largesse is taken out in a way, isn’t it? Everybody pledges to buy an album for ten bucks and that actually pays for the studio to make the record. I like it. It’s another different thing that’s happening with the twenty-first century, isn’t it. The record industry has turned on its head somewhat. It’s still the same thing, it’s not completely different, it’s just a hundred eighty degrees different.

MR: What do you think about that? What do you think about being a band in this environment versus when you had a different recording and marketing paradigm?

DW: I prefer it. Don’t get me wrong, the record company business was terrific, but then you realized you were paying for everything a couple of years later. So that part of it wasn’t that much fun. But there was something charming about a young executive being willing to lend four alcoholics half-a-million dollars to see if they could remember any of their tunes when they get to the studio. That was very decent of them. So they did have their role, but there’s something clean about this that’s nice. It’s not all bribery and money under the table; it’s pretty straightforward. I think it’s a little bit like working live on the road, I’m now doing the traditional ceremony of playing, going home to the tour bus and I’m now at Wal-Mart buying myself flour, soup and a pair of dumb bells. I’m thinking of getting some of these kettle bells. They’re new, aren’t they? Have you ever used them?

MR: Yeah.

DW: What do you think? Do you like them?

MR: You have to be very careful to do it right, otherwise you can hit yourself in a very bad spot.

DW: [laughs] I was just trying it as you said that, it’s not good. I’m sticking with the regular blue ten-pounders and such. You can’t do that in the back of the bus. You can’t swing a cat in the back of the bus. In fact, there’s a sign, “No logs in the bog and no swinging cats,” or something like that.

MR: Are there rituals that you don’t want to violate after all these years?

DW: There are rituals, yes, but they’re all mainly to do with violation. That’s why we all end up in groups. Let’s cut to the chase here: Anybody in a group, anybody who works with groups, deals with groups, writes about groups or even goes to watch groups and listens to music are basically a sociopath. Something happened at a very young age that made us run to music from the awful pressures to whatever it was that was going on outside. Take all that with a pinch of salt. That’s all we risk now, is a pinch of salt. We can’t risk anything stronger than that now.

MR: The English Beat is considered one of the great ska bands, though your music has other influences like punk and reggae.

DW: We wanted to mix it up, you know? We wanted a punky reggae party and it came out very similar to a ska beat, sort of up-four peppy beat with an equal off beat hitting with the on beat. On this new album I’m to try to see if I can get what I originally wanted: I wanted the Velvet Underground jamming with Toots & The Maytals. That’s what I wanted. I wanted the urban angst that I felt from Birmingham, but I wanted the uplifting sense of life and joy and survival from Toots & The Maytals’ rhythm section. I wanted those two bands jamming together and then I would sing over the top of course like Bryan Ferry or Van Morrisson or one of those.

MR: In the United States, your music was featured in High Fidelity, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…

DW: …and Clueless, that’s the big one. “Tenderness” was in Clueless, and then you’ve got Gross Pointe Blank and then the Scooby Doo episode entitled “Dance Of The Undead,” which is probably my greatest artistic creation to date, frankly. There are two songs in this battle of the bands and the songs are so well-matched against each other it takes Scooby Doo to come in on all fours–or the two back ones, anyway–shredding guitar to win it for the Hex Girls versus the power of the song we wrote. That was really one of my proudest moments.

MR: There’s something about The English Beat meeting Scooby Doo that just seems right.

DW: I met one of the original writers who drew me a very nice picture and he told me a lot of stories about those original sessions at Hanna-Barbara in the valley, and I’m right on the same page. I knew it even as a kid, but when I checked, yep, I knew it.

MR: When you look at The English Beat now versus when you started it, what are the differences?

DW: I never guessed that I would write a song that anybody would hear other than the other people who were stupid enough to join a pop group with me. So for them to come out and for people to like the songs and it goes on for a few years and then really famous people cover your songs and it’s still on the radio when it’s twenty or thirty years later, it really is the greatest gift that a troubadour could ever hope for. You hope to wander round the world singing your odes or whatever they are and you hope that you touch hearts along the way. I’m honored and sort of humbled, which is weird for me. I don’t get humbled that often. Only by women. They’re very good at humbling me.

MR: Are any of the songs in particular that you love to play live?

DW: Yeah! Especially these last couple of weeks, because I just started talking to a producer called Dubmatix, out of Toronto. We started working up some versions from the demos and I’m just on fire with it. He’s a great musician and he’s got a ton of really good samples. I heard stuff while I was writing the songs and I wanted to include it to set the mood and the atmosphere. There’s a song called “Said We Would Never Die,” and in my head as I was singing it, I could hear a breathing machine in an ICU and I heard an old-fashioned sixties black and white English movie ambulance siren and the beep-beep of the machines, and it made an orchestra of medical emergency sounds. We’ve been working on that this last couple of days and he’s done a fantastic job. I told him, “Black and white English movie rainy day ambulance siren” and it was just the absolute perfect one. You could almost see the film. [siren noises] “I say, sir, are you having some trouble? Tally-ho! White Hall double two, double two!”

MR: Do you feel like modern technology has actually enhanced The Beats’ sound or creativity?

DW: I think it’s enhanced everything. It’s allowed the classic songs to get more life and breath and radio stations with wider and deeper playlists have ended up championing some of the songs. They weren’t always top forty monsters at the time, IRS records hadn’t really joined that game. We were college darlings and we made top two hundred on the billboard chart quite often, so we felt jealous at the time, I’ll be honest, because a lot of songs that were getting that top forty push weren’t as good. The massive hits rode more on the strength of their haircuts than their lyrics I thought. But anyway, you soaked it up, and the shows did well and our albums did well, but we never made any singles business. Now I feel happier with each year because I get to hear more and more of our songs on classic rock radio and I hear less and less of the ones that seemed like they were just trying it on at the time. “Wear this shirt, it should sound like this shirt.” “Okay, I’ve got it.” It just seemed a little slavish. Certainly I was jealous and now I don’t feel so bad about it because our songs have prevailed and of course I got a couple of really nice mentions. I always thought I was going to have to pay somebody to say it, but they brought out a best-of box set, a very nicely done job by Shout! Factory. Rolling Stone gave it a smashing review and said, “Wittily savage as Costello.” It was like, “Hello, there we go, me and Declan on the same page. Exactly. We just did a tour in England and a fellow from The Quietus magazine enjoyed the show, thank heavens, and said I was to be spoken of in the same breath as the greats of the genre; Weller, Strummer, Wakeling, which sounds like a company of accountants, doesn’t it? But it had a ring to me. Weller, Strummer, Costello, Wakeling. Yeah, there you go, that’s what I always thought. [laughs]

So here we are, I’m really glad that I still have both knees operating, I can still skank, I’m singing better than ever, which is remarkable, and enjoying myself on stage more than ever. The band is tighter than it’s ever been, there’s a really nice vibe. I just got on the bus today and everybody’s thrilled because they got a big wide bunk bed instead of a narrow one, so they’re all thrilled. I’m nearly at the end of my Wal-Mart ritual, I didn’t really buy much, some soup, some fruit, some almonds and walnuts, a kettle, an ab-roller. I have some remedial work to do, to be honest. I stopped drinking rather abruptly last September–again. I lost an enormous amount of weight, but sadly the weight didn’t send a message to my skin that it wasn’t needed so I’ve got to work on my tummy next. it’s a shame, it was just the right size when I was overweight from the beer, When I had a pot belly, the skin was just perfectly formed around it and quite soft. Now, oh dear, no. So I’ve given myself a challenge, frankly, there’s a lot of stuff going on between now and the record coming out in February and one of the things is I’m going to get this stomach looking great or else I’m going to get it made to look great. The challenge is on, I’m going to see what I can do.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

DW: Well, you have to work on a song all night until the hairs go up on your neck. If the hairs don’t go up on your neck, don’t put any more time into that one. If you’re going to try and write something that moves other people, you have to write something that has quite a dramatic effect on yourself. It has to give you quite a jolt when you write it, “Whoa, blimey! That’s a little edgy, Dave!” Or it makes you cry or you might be crying when you write it. So it has to be loaded with emotion. You don’t want to waste a word in a song, really. One bad line’s enough to take away the power of the two around it. You have to weigh every word. It takes me about ten minutes to write a song and then about nine months to finish it. That can include a week, really, of wondering if something should be sung as a semi colon or a comma, and I just drive myself nuts over it. You can’t sleep, you’re wandering around chain-smoking, “What’s the matter?” “Oh, nothing!” You don’t dare tell them it’s because you don’t know whether to use the word “yet” or “but.” [laughs] But it seems important at the time. I just think the nicest things are complicated things that come across as simple. What I really dislike is really simple things that are all tarted-up to look really complicated. That’s something I think you need to do. You need to put an enormous amount of work into it to make it feel effortless. That’s probably true for everything, but it’s definitely true for writing a song.

MR: What does the future look like for David Wakeling and for The English Beat?

DW: I’m doing everything that I want, I can’t imagine doing anything else. At the moment, I think I’m just intrigued by, “How do we make this record?” How do you make a statement that resonates with people who liked your records thirty years ago and still might but are different? And at the same time, how do you make a record that sounds like it’s this year? In the same way as in 1979, I didn’t want to sound like it was 1963 from Kingston, Jamaica. Now I don’t want to sound like Birmingham in 1979 because I want to be from California in 2014, so that’s the challenge–how to finesse that. That’s keeping me excited at the moment. One of the funniest bits of songwriting is the presentation. You’ve got somebody who’s got every sound in the world as a sample at their fingertips and they say, “Right, 1963 ambulance with a Boeing jet and two eggs frying,” and he can just do that and sing over the top of it. With the more options you’ve got the more diligence you’ve got to have. With each new idea for a song, on goes the headphoens and you’ve got to try and feel what that part does to me whilst I’m singing it and carefully think about instrumentation. I think with this record I wanted to try and make it so the vocals and the melodies are what come straight at you and everything else is around it dramatically to support and project. I think there are some really great pop records being made at the moment that manage to do that quite well and not necessarily having a whole band going, “One, two, three, four,” and everybody just starts at the beginning and stops at the end. They’re going to be constructive songs that have the minimum amount of support to make it appear effortless. It’s going to take an enormous amount of hard work to get to that point but we’ll get it. “Let the songs lead the way,” is what we normally say. “Does that make the hair go up on your neck more, or less?” If it makes the hair go up more you’re probably on the right track.

MR: Nice. We talked about a lot of things, is there something we didn’t cover?

DW: No, I’ve been busily going down the cleaning aisle and there’s not much controversy there. You’ll be pleased to know that Wal-Marts are starting to get a number of more organic and planetary options. I managed to get some surface wipes that are just made of lemongrass and thyme. Even at Wal-Mart they’re starting to be different.

MR: Guess everything evolves.

DW: You know, apart from me, sometimes. I get stuck. But yeah, just like Huffington Post, I remember when that started I was like, “Oh, that’s quite a good idea!” Now, it’s like the biggest news thing in the world. It’s kind of nice with all those correspondents and people being able to get involved and connect. It’s a bit like this pledge thing. They’re early days yet but I think it’s a sign of new society. To be honest, I don’t know whether we’ll have a chance to see it through. Some of the naysayers would rather stand in the jolly-good circle and execute each other. Shoot some sense into each other, that’s the only language some people understand. We might have to deal with that bunch, but there are some very interesting evolutionary changes going on. But my kids in California, for example, I find them very interesting because they don’t refer to any of their friends by what color they are. They don’t notice. It’s not a point of reference now. For my parents, it was a point of reference on who you didn’t speak to. “Oh, is that your black friend, then?” But now they don’t notice. They’re in the California sunshine so they’re all kind of the same color anyway, but they don’t notice. I just think that’s amazing. You sit in and listen sometimes, and the contents of their character is more important than the color of their skin. That’s how teenagers are now in America, that’s evolution.

MR: It’s a great thing. It seems like the people who will just go down swinging on stuff like that are people who were born in a certain era and they’ve seemed to all gravitated to these paranoid, fringe associations.

DW: I think you’re right. But things are moving generally in the right direction, though like you say, some people are afraid of social change. Most often, they’re people who have been brainwashed by their parents in one way or the other. I think they’re fascinating times and thank heavens we’ve got stuff like Pledge Music and stuff like Huffington Post and all sorts of different ways now to share and create information, which I think is all for the good. I’m pleasantly excited. And I’m pleased that I’ve done a very specific Wal-Mart run. I haven’t bought any junk food. I used to have somebody come to Wal-Mart with me and we always used to end up with four hundred bucks worth of junk food, but I haven’t got any junk food at all tonight, I’ve got fruit and nuts and healthy organic soups, I even bought a box of green tea but we’ll see about that. Only if all the rest of the tea and the coffee’s run out. But no, we’re going to try it, come on.

MR: I wish you luck with everything. The album’s coming in February?

DW: Yes, but if you go onto the pledge site we’re going to start putting up demos of the songs and lyrics of the songs and we’ll be showing little bits from the studio. From now, anybody who wants to pledge to buy the album or any of the other fancy prizes get to watch an inside scoop as it were on the making of the record and the demos and even interviews.

MR: This has been wonderful. I really appreciate your time, and let’s chat again in February when the album comes out!

DW: That would be great, man! It’s going to come out ostensibly the seventeenth, which is equidistant between my birthday on the nineteenth and Valentine’s on the fourteenth. I thought that was an auspicious week, so that’s what we’re aiming for. Who knows when it really comes out? When it’s done. That’s the plan, some time around then.

MR: Thank you so much for your time, Dave!

DW: Absolutely perfect timing, all the stuff’s being put into the Wal-Mart bag. That was good, I managed to do all my shopping and I spoke to a very nice fellow who contributes to one of the most powerful news media organizations in the world. You get to do some good things when you’re a singer.

MR: Oh, you…

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

2014-06-20-2922.jpg

A Conversation with Leela James

Mike Ragogna: Leela, how did your stint as a star on TV One’s RnBDivas LA come about?

Leela James: My experience doing the RnBDivas L.A. show was great, challenging, unexpected. I figured I knew what to expect, and I didn’t. Without giving up too much, let’s just say I look forward to it airing.

MR: Just how cool are Chante Moore, Lil’ Mo, Michel’le and Claudette Ortiz to work with?

LJ: For the most part it was cool working with everyone on the show.

MR: You received the 2008 Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Artist of 2008. In 2014, what do you think “R&B” and “Soul” mean these days?

LJ: Soul music, however cliché this might sound, is really just music that comes from the soul, and is meant for the soul. To me, soul music is the same today as it was yesterday; soul music doesn’t change, the people that sing it changes.

MR: Does the “reality” element of the show stay pretty real or does it rely pretty equally on scripted dramas, etc., you know, the way virtually every other reality show exists?

LJ: Every reality show is different, and I can only speak to my experience doing RnBDivas. I can tell you it’s real.

MR: Your latest video for your hit “Say That” features Anthony Hamilton. How did this come together?

LJ: Anthony Hamilton and I always talked about working together over the years, and this time things just fell into place and we were able to make it happen. So much in the music world–and I guess in the world in general–is timing.

MR: Your last album was a tribute to Etta James, and you were called “Baby Etta” as a child. How were you originally introduced to her music and just how inspirational was she to your creative growth and who are some of your other influences?

LJ: Fortunately, I was exposed to all kinds of music growing up, and Etta James stood out as one of my favorite artists. I was inspired by the sound of her strong voice, I remember it hitting me like a wave.

MR: What was the tipping point where you made the decision you had to be a musical artist full time?

LJ: I decided I wanted to be an artist full time the day I got a standing ovation as child after singing at talent show. The look in the eyes of the people applauding for me made we want to continue singing for as long as I could.

MR: Does the “acting” portion of the TV show put any kind of surprising demands on you?

LJ: Trying to balance the TV world with my music world was the only challenge for me. In TV, the schedules are strict and the hours are long, and you’re not always allowed to be the creative one. Sometimes, you just follow directions. What’s interesting is that on television there is no real sense of impending reward; In music, the hours are crazy as well but there is instant gratification when you perform at the end of the day.

MR: Leela, what advice do you have for new artists?

LJ: I would advise new artists to simply try and perfect their craft. Keep working, keep writing, keep training. Also, when they are ready for it, acquire a strong team.

MR: Is there anything creatively that you’re thinking of experimenting with in the near future and when is your new album coming?

LJ: You’ll just have to wait and see! My new album Fall For You will be available July 8!

SIN COS TAN’S “LOVE SEES NO COLOUR”

Sin Cos Tan is the musical partnership of producer-DJ Jori Hulkkonen–Pet Shop Boys´Chris Lowe, Jose Gonzalez and Tiga–and Juho Paalosmaa, songwriter and vocalist from the group Villa Nah. They make upbeat pop music that features spiraling synths and catchy lyrics. The band’s forthcoming album Blown Away – an album about a middle-aged American whose life takes a 180 after joining a Mexican drug cartel – is out in August.

Jori Hulkkonen from Sin Cos Tan says, “When we were writing the songs for the album, I tried to turn all my ‘safeties off,’ so to speak; there’s no such thing as ‘too uplifting’ or ‘too big’ when it comes to a chorus. With ‘Love Sees No Colour,’ we wanted to write a feel-good song that would work as a stand alone single for the summer, but when in the context of the album, the slightly darker twist would be more obvious.”


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Straight Tops

Southern straight hunk Blaze is back this week with horny bi jock Cort from our shoot in Atlanta. Mild mannered Blaze says he is going to fuck the shit out of Cort and treat him like his bitch. Porn star Jeremy Hall eggs him on and films all the action with Cort wasting no time by planting his mouth on Blazes big stick. Blaze stuffs his massive dick down Corts throat until the sight of his bubble ass makes Blaze want to fuck him hard. Cort gets on all fours as Blaze delivers the meat. They fuck in a bunch of positions with Blaze really filling his bitchs hole when Cort is on his back with his legs in the air! As the fucking intensity builds, Blaze pulls out his dick and gives Cort a facial while Jeremy Hall watches and jerks off all over Corts abs.

Watch the Full Length, High Quality Movie!

Southern straight hunk Blaze is back this week with horny bi jock Cort from our shoot in Atlanta. Mild mannered Blaze says he is going to fuck the shit out of Cort and treat him like his bitch.

Categories: Safe Sex Str8 Bait Anal Gay Amateur

Scene Number: 4

Orientation: Gay

Studio Name: On The Hunt

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Keith Urban tops The Weeknd in tight race on Billboard chart

American Idol judge and country music star Keith Urban arrives at the Season 12 finale of "American Idol" in Los AngelesBy Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Australian country singer Keith Urban beat out Canadian The Weeknd in a tight race to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday. Urban's latest album, "Fuse," sold 98,000 copies in its first week according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan, while The Weeknd's debut studio album "Kiss Land" sold more than 95,000 units, leaving the R&B artist less than 3,000 shy of the top spot. Rapper 2 Chainz landed at No. 3 this week with his latest record "B.O.A.T.S II #METIME," while soul-pop singer Janelle Monae entered the chart at No. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Keith Urban tops The Weeknd in tight race on Billboard chart

American Idol judge and country music star Keith Urban arrives at the Season 12 finale of "American Idol" in Los AngelesBy Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Australian country singer Keith Urban beat out Canadian The Weeknd in a tight race to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday. Urban's latest album, "Fuse," sold 98,000 copies in its first week according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan, while The Weeknd's debut studio album "Kiss Land" sold more than 95,000 units, leaving the R&B artist less than 3,000 shy of the top spot. Rapper 2 Chainz landed at No. 3 this week with his latest record "B.O.A.T.S II #METIME," while soul-pop singer Janelle Monae entered the chart at No. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Prince George Tops Blue Ivy and North West as Most Stylish Celebrity Kid

Prince GeorgeWho’s the most stylish baby of them all? Prince George, of course!

Sorry, Blue Ivy and North West. No hard feelings! It’s tough to beat out a royal. In a poll conducted by…


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Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” tops British singles chart

Singer Derulo performs at the 2013 Wango Tango concert at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CaliforniaLONDON (Reuters) – American R&B singer Jason Derulo notched up his third British number one single on Sunday with "Talk Dirty", ending U.S. singer Katy Perry's two-week run in the No. 1 slot, sales figures showed. The Official Charts Company said with sales of nearly 160,000 copies over the past week, "Talk Dirty" has become the fastest selling single of Derulo's career in Britain and the fourth fastest selling single of 2013. "Talk Dirty", which also features rapper 2 Chainz, is the second single from Derulo's third album, "Tattoos", which will be released in Britain on Monday. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Coldplay album 'Ghost Stories' tops British music charts

Coldplay singer Chris Martin performs at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los AngelesBritish band Coldplay's new album "Ghost Stories" went straight to number one in the charts on Sunday, the Official Charts Company said, becoming the fastest-selling album of the year. The group's sixth studio album and sixth successive British number one album, it sold 168,000 copies since going on sale on May 19, a figure the Charts Company called "staggering". "A new Coldplay album always makes a huge impact, and Ghost Stories is no exception," Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said in a statement.



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Jack Johnson tops Billboard 200, Lorde lands top digital song

Musician Jack Johnson performs during his concert as part of his To The Sea tour in BrasiliaBy Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Hawaiian folk singer Jack Johnson landed his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday, while New Zealand newcomer Lorde overtook Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus to top the digital songs chart. Johnson's "From Here to Now to You" sold 117,000 copies in its first week, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan. It was the only album to cross the 100,000 sales mark this week. Country music singer Justin Moore debuted at No. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Keith Urban tops The Weeknd in tight race on Billboard chart

American Idol judge and country music star Keith Urban arrives at the Season 12 finale of "American Idol" in Los AngelesBy Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Australian country singer Keith Urban beat out Canadian The Weeknd in a tight race to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday. Urban's latest album, "Fuse," sold 98,000 copies in its first week according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan, while The Weeknd's debut studio album "Kiss Land" sold more than 95,000 units, leaving the R&B artist less than 3,000 shy of the top spot. Rapper 2 Chainz landed at No. 3 this week with his latest record "B.O.A.T.S II #METIME," while soul-pop singer Janelle Monae entered the chart at No. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" tops British singles chart

Singer Derulo performs at the 2013 Wango Tango concert at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CaliforniaLONDON (Reuters) – American R&B singer Jason Derulo notched up his third British number one single on Sunday with "Talk Dirty", ending U.S. singer Katy Perry's two-week run in the No. 1 slot, sales figures showed. The Official Charts Company said with sales of nearly 160,000 copies over the past week, "Talk Dirty" has become the fastest selling single of Derulo's career in Britain and the fourth fastest selling single of 2013. "Talk Dirty", which also features rapper 2 Chainz, is the second single from Derulo's third album, "Tattoos", which will be released in Britain on Monday. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Jack Johnson tops Billboard 200, Lorde lands top digital song

Musician Jack Johnson performs during his concert as part of his To The Sea tour in BrasiliaBy Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Hawaiian folk singer Jack Johnson landed his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday, while New Zealand newcomer Lorde overtook Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus to top the digital songs chart. Johnson's "From Here to Now to You" sold 117,000 copies in its first week, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan. It was the only album to cross the 100,000 sales mark this week. Country music singer Justin Moore debuted at No. …



Music News Headlines – Yahoo News

Jack Tops Slim Smooth Danny

When Danny Montero told us before that he liked darker-featured men, we had a feeling our Jack Masters would be right up his alley. Judging from the passion in this scene and the sincere connection between the two of them, it seems like we were right!

There’s a lot of oral exchange; Danny licking Jack’s balls when he’s told and Danny enjoying Jack’s deep-throating abilities. When the older Jack buries his tongue in Danny’s smooth hole, the young Latino’s face really lights up. That smile doesn’t leave his face as they start to fuck, either.

Jack loosens Danny up first by fucking his ass as they spoon. He gets Danny on top of him to ride, too, before pinning him to the bed in missionary. This position proves a winner for Danny, he breathlessly tells Jack not to stop fucking him just before he cums all over himself. Jack pulls out and mixes his cum with Danny’s as he shoots his own load, his body jerking with pleasure.

Watch the Full Length, High Quality Movie!

When Danny Montero told us before that he liked darker-featured men, we had a feeling our Jack Masters would be right up his alley.

Stars: Danny Montero Jack Masters

Categories: Anal Safe Sex High Definition Twink Gay Euro International Amateur

Scene Number: 1

Orientation: Gay

Studio Name: Blake Mason

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Mountain Tops

Mountain Tops cover

These Jocks are fans of nature and their adventures to the Mountain Tops get their assets elevated. The sexual needs of these Jocks never sleep and their desires get intensified while theyre hiking and camping with their buddies. On their treks through the great outdoors they find secluded spots to take care of their need for release. Sunlight doesnt generate a lot of heat there, but Danny Palick and Jackson Taylor scorch things up with multiple positions. Brad Foxx and Levi Madison opt for a suck, rim and pound, with Madison exhibiting a strong command on Foxx’s cock and inviting ass. James Ryders outdoor shower lures Drake Wild into his horny hands. Tate Ryder and Sebastian Rossi dance a slow flip-flop.

Watch the Full Length, High Quality Movie!

These Jocks are fans of nature and their adventures to the Mountain Tops get their assets elevated.

Stars: Sebastian Rossi Tate Ryder

Categories: Anal Safe Sex Outdoors Jocks Gay Muscles

Scene Number: 4

Orientation: Gay

Studio Name: Falcon Studios – Raging Stallion Studios Jocks

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