Ke$ha Works Both Sides Of The Pop Aisle

This morning brought the release of "Sleazy 2.0 (Get Sleazier)," the all-star remix of Ke$ha's Dr. Luke/Bangladesh banger about men who are a bit too impressed with their wealth "Sleazy"; the new version contains the quietly gut-punching verse that Andre 3000 added to the original remix, as well as contributions from Wiz Khalifa (decent), T.I. (Coming To America-referencing!), and Lil Wayne (2010-retro thanks to the name-drops of Black Swan and Kings Of Leon?). While the braggadocio on the new verses clashes somewhat with the don't-need-your-money declarations of the original track (Three Stacks, perhaps unsurprisingly, got what Ke$ha was going for with his contribution), all three of the new verses sound pretty fantastic over the booming beat. Then again, it's so undeniable that me reading the phone book in a fake British accent over it might sound not-half-bad as well. Clip below.

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Live: Swizz Beatz Brings Out T.I., DMX's Brother And Some Other Guys At The IAC Building

Swizz Beatz
IAC Building
Wednesday, November 30

Better than: Ja Rule's acting in The Fast and the Furious.

It seems cruel that as the recession continues to hit the "snooze" button, Swizz Beatz has picked up yet another job, another paycheck. He is the luxe James Franco, collecting 1099s like passport stamps: an NYU professorship here, a Reebok partnership there; Aston-Martin and the cartoon Voltron demand his services. Last night, in the lobby of Frank Gehry's IAC building, the higher-than-high-end British car company Lotus revealed its first product with Swizz's participation: the first chrome-painted coupe, which is not chrome metal, but... I don't know, the distinction was lost on me. Swizz felt it was a big deal, though, so he kept mentioning it.

As drinks were served in votive-candle glasses, Swizz's music played overhead, a mélange of nasal chants and stagger-beats. Alicia Keys stopped on the red carpet, leather jacket and soft hair. There was Carmelo Anthony, leaning so far down to have a girl put a wristband on him; nearby, Russell Simmons was making his way out, pretty early in the night. DMX's brother stood onstage throughout the night—Swizz shouted him out. Someone noticed Steven Baldwin "and his brother who looks like him." You know, Alec.

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Live: B.o.B Shows Flashes Of Megastardom At The Bowery Ballroom

B.o.B w/Lauriana Mae
Bowery Ballroom
Tuesday, November 29

Better than: Living in New Jersey. (Joking, Taylor Ham aficionados!)

9:56 p.m.: "He represents Atlanta, ladies and gentlemen... He's sold like a million records and like 15 million downloads... He's had a Grammy nomination... It's B.o.B!" So last night's headliner was introduced NYC by radio jock Peter Rosenberg, seconds before the young ATLien took to the stage for a sold-out show.

9:55 p.m.: "We have some very special guests in the house tonight, and I mean very special!" Rosenberg, barely a minute earlier, promising some big-name titillation. Rapper guests at live shows are nothing new these days, but his teaser cut to the heart of B.o.B's dilemma—he's a successful rapper, but he works better in the company of bigger-name collaborators, not so much riding coattails as doing his best dances on them. And so it was last night.

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The Band Perry, Taylor Swift Win Big At Last Night's Country Music Awards

Last night, country music's biggest stars (not to mention welcome outsiders like Lionel Richie and Kenny Loggins, who joined Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton for a performance of "Footloose") convened in Nashville for the CMA's annual awards show. By the time hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood ended the ceremonies, joking that they'd see us at the Oscars, The Band Perry's three awards had put them above the rest of the pack, their "If I Die Young" winning both single and album of the year, and the group themselves taking home New Artist of the Year over Luke Bryan and Eric Church (who somehow qualified for the category despite releasing, between the two of them, four top-ten albums before 2010). And despite losing Album of the Year to Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party, Taylor Swift came out as entertainer of the year, thanking everyone who has a made a guest appearance on her ongoing Speak Now tour, a list that includes, among others, Tim McGraw, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Kenny Chesney, and T.I.

As far as performances go, the night's best both involved Paisley, though the first—a duet with Underwood, performing "Remind Me," the lead single off Album of the Year nominee This is Country Music—was dominated by his co-host's flawless vocals and the second —a run through three Glen Campbell songs with Keith Urban and Vince Gill—by the ailing man sitting in front of the stage. Meanwhile, before the show Sound of the City favorite Luke Bryan held his own reporting on the red carpet for Ellen. List of all winners below the fold.

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Zach Baron's Top 10 Singles of 2010

Rich aliens, rich alienation. Still via
With sincere apologies to Chuck Eddy, my two favorite records of the year also produced my two favorite singles: funny how that happens. And though ten songs increasingly feels like about forty too few, especially when Dr. Luke is working, nothing was knocking "Runaway" off this list. What can I say? Been waiting fifteen years for rap to get this emo and for emo to get this rap. As for the rest of it, well, as Sean Fennessey noted in this space last week, most of these songs are ignorant as hell. The rest are about love. I'm not proud:

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Was 2010 The Best Year For Music Ever? Death To Chris Brown

Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: Rob Harvilla, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. We'll be here all week!

America's preeminent lady-beater weeps. Photo via Word Up!
Funky drummers,

You know what shocked the shit out of me? The Chris Brown renaissance that occurred this year. After a series of interviews, in which he took very little responsibility for beating a beloved celebrity's face in and tactlessly attempted to use the opportunity of major press to mend his image, his petulant whining climaxed with him begging fans via (whatever that is!) to help "bring me back." You may already know this, but it bears reminding that he actually said these words: "My singing and my music is all great, but I do it for you guys and everything else but it won't be possible if I'm not relevant on the radio and it won't be possible for me to be an artist if I don't have any support from people that give me an artists outlet. I can't be an underground mixtape artist! I just want all my fans to help me." (And, for the record, his singing is merely adequate and Graffiti was, hands down, the worst major r&b release of the last 20 years. Motherfucker is tasteless, through and through.)

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T.I. Played a Secret Show Last Night at Capitale with Cam'ron, Swizz Beatz, B.o.B., Mary J. Blige, and Keri Hilson

Axe Music
Well, it wasn't that secret: here is a clip of Tip talking about the show, out in the Hamptons. But the location was closely guarded, more or less, revealed late yesterday by Axe, the fragrance company at whose promotional behest this concert was staged. Unlike Kayne's super late night, staunchly elitist affair at the Box late last week, this one was for the people, sorta: if you pressed all the right Twitter and Facebook buttons you could get in, if you got there in time. Also, T.I. played for two hours and did 30 songs, which is kind of unheard of, but it's been a while, so can you blame him? Cam'ron, Swizz Beatz, and about a million other people came through. There are already photos of the show everywhere, of course:

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Video: T.I.'s "I'm Back," Wherein We Learn That Arson Is A Crime, Too

Out of prison, readying new album King Uncaged for August, and justifiably reluctant to mess with guns much anymore, T.I. has discovered a new weapon of choice: the Molotov cocktail. Helps pass the time when he's not visiting pool halls or just driving around while holding large stacks of money, expressing his disappointment in us. Also: This song isn't very good. You tell him.

New The-Dream, Featuring T.I.: "Fall in Love Again"

Leave it to The-Dream to make us impatient for the end of a T.I. verse. What works great on a T.I. album--"Like I Do," anyone?--isn't exactly what we want for Love King, the new Dream LP for which this record is presumably intended. The-Dream, who has written a hit for pretty much everyone in the last four or five years, obviously has a collaborative streak. That said, we adore his albums most for being bizarre private spaces in which Dream stretches his legs and says and does things far more bonkers and honest than he would on a Rihanna record; last year's incomparable Love Vs. Money had only two guests on it, and they were probably two too many. On a first couple of listens, "Love Again" is compelling but never quite blasts off into space. Great hook, but T.I. makes no sense here--he is many things, but romantic isn't one of them. [Download the song at Rap Radar.]

T.I.'s Blowjob Billboard Goes Down

Thumbnail image for akoobillboard.jpg
Photo via Star-Ledger
Yeah, sorry about that headline. Anyway! That billboard from the rapper T.I.'s Akoo clothing line? The one that scandalized all those people in downtown Newark, including Super Mayor Cory Booker? It's coming down, after CBS folded in the face of allegations of everything from being creepy about black sexuality to inducing children to swear. Big victory for people who hate denim and fellatio. [Gothamist]