Tag Archives: Lady GaGa

House of Wax

When I was younger than I can imagine ever being, my parents took my brother and me to Niagara Falls for vacation. I remember that my dad and my brother were able to take the trip on the “Maid of the Mist” boat that allows you to “Hear the roar of 600,000 gallons of water crashing down around you every second!” I suspect that they went because he was older than me and had disaster struck, at least my mom would be left with someone. Not exactly a bonus, I think in retrospect.

Another place I remember going to was the Tussaud’s wax museum. Instead of being interested in seeing the celebrities that didn’t seem more life-like than the mannequins in the flagship J.L. Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit (once the tallest department store in the country, at 440 feet; closed in 1986, imploded in 1998, and being turned into a mixed-use building that is to open this year), my brother and I spent our time wide-eyed at the scary exhibits (e.g., the guillotine and related headless individual).

Until I started writing this I had always thought that we were at the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. But my memory was dashed as though 600,000 gallons of water came tumbling down.

Turns out that it was the Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. Louis was a great-grandson of Marie Tussaud (a.k.a., “Madame”). Apparently he saw that great-grandma was doing well, so he opened his own shop in London in 1890. Unfortunately it burned down six months later. But he preserved (obviously) and now there are outlets not only in Canada, but in India, Thailand and elsewhere.

Evidently a global interest in faux people.

Continue reading House of Wax

Look for the Union [Record] Label

With the current SAG-AFTRA strike, there are plenty of actors who are not trodding the proverbial stage but, assuming they are supportive individuals who care about their colleagues (and who are sufficiently self-interested in the union getting a good contract with the studios), walking the picket line.

But it is evidently the case that performers like to perform (which could explain, in part, why there are so many performers, particularly of the musical genre, who continue long after you’d think they’d have wandered off to Del Boca Vista).

For some of them, the answer is fairly straightforward: They can return to a full-throated embrace of where they once belonged.

As musicians.

Here are some:

Dwight Yoakam: Although Yoakam is associated with the Bakersfield Sound, he was born in genre-appropriate Pikesville, Kentucky. Bakersfield is a couple hours north of LA, which is the place where Yoakam moved to in the early ‘80s. The distance from LA to Hollywood is, well, in some cases, nothing. Anyway, Yoakam released Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. in 1986, followed by Hillbilly Deluxe (1987) and Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room (1988), which contains the cover of Buck Owens “Streets of Bakersfield” (to close the loop on the opening sentence here). In 1991 Yoakam appeared in an episode of a TV series, “P.S.I. Luv U,” as a stuntman and. . .country singer. Then it was from the small screen to the large, as he played a truck driver in a crime caper with an interesting triumvirate on the bill for Red Rock West: Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper and Lara Flynn Boyle. That was released in 1993, the year of YoakamThis Time, which includes “Ain’t That Lonely Yet,” which garnered him his first Grammy. His biggest film performance to date was in 1996’s Sling Blade, where he co-stars with Billy Bob Thornton—himself a musician as he was a drummer in a band named Tres Hombres. Yoakam then appeared in The Newton Boys (1998) directed by Richard Linklater, and headed by Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke and Skeet Ulrich, which I mention because “Skeet Ulrich” is such an interesting name. Getting closer to his métier, he appeared in a thriller, The Minus Man (1999)—also starring Sheryl Crow. Perhaps trying to get some sort of EGOT, in 2000 he co-wrote, directed, starred in, and wrote a soundtrack for South of Heaven, West of Hell. 2002 put him in David Fincher’s Panic Room. There were a few more acting rolls, with one of the more notable being in the streaming show “Goliath” (2016), where he was (1) creepy and (2) reunited with Billy Bob Thornton. 2016 was the last year he released an album, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars. . . . The time may be right.

Continue reading Look for the Union [Record] Label

Listen to Frontier Justice 2/19/17

The Thousand Points Of Light Memorial Waterfall lies dry at the center of the Super 7 Mega Mall food court tetrahedron, and everybody’s got an opinion as to why. Hair triggers, we have them. In this new reality of hot takes and burning questions, it’s fun to clamber onto a roof and shout “BELL BOTTOMS” over and over into the night sky. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion strut their way outta “Frontier Justice” in its college radio days and into this new consciousness, the latest FJ delivery system being Spotify. And speaking of that new consciousness, on this set JSBX drops into the void between Danny Brown‘s stuttering, claustrophobic “Ain’t It Funny” on one side and Lady Gaga‘s “Diamond Heart” on the other. Young, wild Americans, both.

Spotify: Frontier Justice 2/19/17 (35 songs, 2 hr 3 min)

At the top of the set, Norway’s Sigrid makes her debut with “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and M.I.A. returns with the typically martial “P.O.W.A.” Minor Threat and Agent Orange remind us that the establishment was riling up the youth in the early moments of the Me Decade, Patti Smith remains royalty, and “Said It Already” is new, incisive and grooving from young Londoner Ama Lou. Elsewhere, Tommy Genesis oozes volatility and effortless after-hours club cool on “Art,” and Dai Burger wants to be your class president. Did you know Michelle Branch is back? Hopeless Romantic is her first full-length in 13 years; it was written and co-produced with Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, and sounds like it. Angel Olsen released one of 2016’s best records in My Woman — The engrossing, cinematic “Sister” is a highlight — and digging deep into the Spotify Sound Vaults reveals classic material in a new light: Elvis Presley brings both vulnerability and bluesy swing to an alternate take of “Heartbreak Hotel,” and The Supremes are full of funky soul on “Bad Weather,” the 1973 nugget produced and written by Stevie Wonder.

There’s some Ratt along the way, because after all, what goes around comes around (and they’ll tell you why), L.A. Witch is back with cool new stuff for Suicide Squeeze, RTJ remind us to stay hungry and pissed, and Eminem is no less than unhinged on “No Favors,” one of the many standouts on Big Sean‘s terrific new record I Decided.

Making playlists isn’t protest. It’s not political action. But it can be a soundtrack for both dancing and dissent, and do its best to uphold the art of discourse, which in these polarizing times is increasingly under attack. And if you want to completely check out, there’s always room on Goat‘s delightfully weird magic carpet. Here, “Try My Robe.”


You can also try an Apple Music playlist. Let me know if this works. -ed.

Continue reading Listen to Frontier Justice 2/19/17

The Pepsi (Non) Challenge

While there may have been some consternation or disappointment that Lady Gaga didn’t take the opportunity at the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl Halftime Show (PZSSBH) to make a political statement of some sort regarding the Muslim ban, the dissing of two U.S. allies, nominations of an array of Wall Street billionaires to the Cabinet, throwing shade on federal judges, making outlandish claims about voter fraud, or comparing American citizens with Vladimir Putin, did you happen to notice that this was the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl Halftime Show?

There’s no business like show business and something like the PZSSBH is the biggest business of them all each January on screens across the planet.

It has long been a mystery to me why there are performers like Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. But it is less of a mystery when you figure that there are those who are going to watch the Super Bowl because they like football and so they’re going to watch the Super Bowl, or those who are going to watch the Super Bowl because they are at a party where there are so many and so large screens that it is impossible not to watch the Super Bowl, and then there are those who might click over every now and then to see if they can catch a commercial. Or if there is some performer playing at the stadium with a stage set that is only dwarfed by those used for the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

You want to sell those people some Pepsi Zero Sugar. You hire Gaga.

Continue reading The Pepsi (Non) Challenge

12 Years of Album Sales: 2011 Year-End Soundscan Data

UPDATE: Here’s the 2021 data.

There have been lots of updates, additions, and corrections. This page has old info.

Get the latest and greatest!

The big news is that total albums sales actually went up a little for the first time since 2004. Of course, considering the fact that physical CD sales slid another 6% and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way sold a million copies for 99 cents, you can be sure that total album revenue is still way, way down this year.

But hey, folks bought 3.9 million vinyl albums in 2011! And check this out: “67% of all vinyl albums sold in 2011 were purchased at an independent music store and nearly 3 out of every 4 vinyl LPs bought were a rock album.” So: hooray for our side!

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 542.4 588.2 million [Corrected 10/30/2017. -ed.]
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 667 million
2003: 687 million
2002: 681 million
2001: 763 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 711 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million

Compact Discs

2011: 223.5 million
2010: 239.9 million
2009: 294.9 million
2008: 360.6 million
2007: 449.2 million
2006: 553.4 million
2005: 598.9 million
2004: 651.1 million
2003: 635.8 million
2002: 649.5 million
2001: 712.0 million
2000: 730.0 million
1999: 648.1 million
1998: ~578 million
1997: 504.6 million
1996: 448.4 million

Track equivalent albums (where 10 track downloads equal one album)

2011: 457.7 million
2010: 443.4 million
2009: 489.8 million
2008: 535.4 million
2007: 585 million
2006: 646.3 million
2005: 654.1 million
2004: 680.7 million

Digital Albums

2011: 103.1 million
2010: 86.3 million
2009: 76.4 million
2008: 65.8 million
2007: 50 million
2006: 16.2 million
2005: 5.5 million

Vinyl albums

2011: 3.9 million
2010: 2.8 million
2009: 2.5 million
2008: 1.88 million
2007: 990,000
2006: 858,000

2000: 1.5 million

Cassette albums

2009: 34,000

2007: 274,000

2004: 8.6 million

2002: 29.8 million
2001: 49.4 million
2000: 77.2 million
1999: 105.5 million
1998: ~130.8 million
1997: 146 million
1996: 166.7 million

Digital tracks

2011: 1.27 billion
2010: 1.17 billion
2009: 1.16 billion
2008: 1.07 billion
2007: 844.1 million
2006: 582 million
2005: 353 million
2004: 141 million
2003: 19.2 million (SoundScan monitored them only during the year’s second half)

Current vs. Catalog

1999: 66.4% vs 33.6
1998: 64% vs 36%
1997: 59.9% vs 40.1%

Sources: Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, USA Today, Computer World, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, CTV, BBC, WSJ, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Pitchfork.

Just Try Not to Listen

The level of commerce that is associated with rock and roll is something that is best not thought about. It’s sort of like the old line that you never want to go into the kitchen of a restaurant—regardless of whether it has three Michelin stars or it is a McDonald’s—because you’re likely not to have much of an appetite as a result of what you’ll discover.

So it is best that we enjoy the filet—or the Filet o’ Fish—without much consideration beyond the object itself.

It is best that we enjoy the work of our performers without knowing what it is that has gotten them in front of us, assuming, of course, that the performers in question are those who have visibility that is perceptible beyond a small group of like minds.

But sometimes it is bracing to see how things are.

Case in point: the boiler plate description of Clear Channel Radio. This is how that company describes itself:

“With 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel Radio has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. The company’s radio stations and content can be heard on AM/FM stations, HD digital radio channels, Sirius/XM satellite, on the Internet at iHeartRadio.com, and on the iHeartRadio mobile application on iPads, and smartphones, and used via navigation systems from TomTom, Garmin and others. The company’s operations include radio broadcasting, online and mobile services and products, syndication, event and promotion creation and operation, music research services and national television, radio and digital media representation. Clear Channel Radio is a division of CC Media Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB:CCMO), a leading global media and entertainment company. More information on the company can be found at www.ccmediaholdings.com.”

Sort of sounds like that Skynet from the Terminator movies. Or, to take another science fictional analogy, the Borg. Resistance is futile.

This past weekend Clear Channel launched iHeartRadio, its competitor to Pandora. And it just didn’t hold a press conference followed by a cocktail party.

Rather, it held a two-day event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It calls it the “inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival.” A music festival in a stadium in a casino seems a bit odd, but there it was.

The event started with the Black Eyed Peas. It closed with Lady Gaga. And in between there were performers ranging from Jay-Z to Sting, from Kelly Clarkson to Jeff Beck, from Jane’s Addiction to Kenny Chesney. It was hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

That’s entertainment circa 2011. Sure, it’s long been this way. Just not so widely and well packaged.

My advice: Stay out of the kitchen.

Lollapalooza 2010, Day 1: This Is It

Lady GagaSo this was my final Lollapalooza as a Chicago resident. From now on it will be a destination festival that requires me to actually travel to a destination. Which might be fun. But will it be worth it? Is a three day music festival worth the hassle if you can’t take the el back to your own comfy bed? I don’t know…I’ve never had to do it.

Of the past six Lollapaloozas, this was by far my most ADHD experience. I only watched three complete sets. The average time I spent with any band was 20 minutes. This might be normal for journalists who feel a professional obligation to “cover” as much as possible, but that’s never been my attitude. I like to take it easy and have a good time. Carefully select what I want to see and blissfully ignore the rest.

But not this year.

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2010, Day 1: This Is It

Lots of Links: Twitter Roundup #17

Tweet tweetBelow are the things we’ve posted to Twitter recently. 219 tweets including 138 links and 97 retweets. In reverse chronological order, just like Twitter…

Jeff Sabatini and Mike Vasquez are tweeting for GLONO from the All Good Festival in West Virginia, although word from Sab is that network connectivity there is awful. But tune in for updates.

# Internet success requires trust. RT @annkpowers: Prince and the Internet, a history (tragedy?) http://tinyurl.com/2bn54a5

# RT @Johnny_Marr: World Premier of Inception in Leicester Sq, London last night. Guitars on the score by Johnny Marr.

# Everything here is leaning on an angle because of the mountain. It’s disconcerting to say the least. #allgood

Lots more below, and you might consider joining the 841 other people following us on Twitter so you can keep up with this stuff as it happens…

Continue reading Lots of Links: Twitter Roundup #17

Pay to Slum: Oldsmobile Cailat

Video: Colbie Caillat – “Fallin’ For You” (live at Six Flags, Louisville)

“And Lady GaGa‘s ‘LoveGame’ is still No. 5,” states this week’s Billboard chart action report, and you can almost sense the screen saying “I know, can you believe it?” While GaGa herself reads Billboard‘s statement and declares that she hasn’t lost a step in the bed, America reads it and figures it’s true: her best material peaked too early, and now there’s no one left to fight off will.i.am‘s advances. We need a hero.

The problem with today’s pop heroes is that they fly too close to earth. They’re awesome all of the sudden, but then slam through three or four billboards on the interstate before skidding a few times and coming to a stop in a pile of “Why is THIS on your iPod?” That leaves the veterans — “Check out the vintage section at this year’s Lolla! I got some MCA-green Manic Panic!” — and Michael Jackson — “That’s a big Sha-MOAN!” — to grab the summer jam gauntlet. Can they do it? Probably. Vincent Hannah chimes in: “They will walk and you will let them.”

Pacino and the screen are probably right. It’s tough being a pop fan when’s there no new jam to like or even dislike at any great volume. And just like that, Colbie Caillat drifts to a no. 12 debut on this week’s chart, her “Falling for You” drifting like a Sunday morning stroll through Boredom Woods. It sure is pretty in here. Wait, which way is out? Hello? Anyone? Michael?


Each week Johnny Loftus will select a song from your hit parade to explicate, celebrate, or humiliate.

Colbie Caillat: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki