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Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Having won 15 herself, Alicia Keys is no stranger at the Grammys. This year however, the singer will claim a new role, ending James Corden’s two-year stint as host of the awards show.

The announcement came via the Grammys official Twitter page on January 15, with a post that read: “IT’S OFFICIAL! 15-time GRAMMY winner @AliciaKeys will host the 61st GRAMMYs, marking her first time as master of ceremonies for Music’s Biggest Night.”

“I’m going to host the Grammys, you heard it. I know what it feels like to be on that stage,” Keys said in a video post.

“I just feel grateful that I’m able to bring that light, that energy. I’m feeling excited, I feel really good about it.

“I feel that it’s the perfect opportunity to give that light back, especially to all the young women nominated. To me it feels like sister vibes,” she added.

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BIG news…. 🔥🔥🔥 (check my story)

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Unfortunately, not all of the musician’s fans have shared her excitement.

In a video the star shared on social media, Keys can be seen revealing the big news to her two young boys, Egypt and Genesis.

Following a long silence, a confused Egypt, 8, says: “What’s the Grammys?”

Keys captioned the video: “Egy and Gen want to know what the #GRAMMYS are ???”

Last April, Keys was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event in New York, after co-launching Keep a Child Alive—a nonprofit aimed at combating HIV. Using her acceptance speech, the singer spoke out about the inequality that women face in the workplace and in the world, reiterating this message at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

“Look at all the action that’s around us: women running for office in record numbers, women banding together in the entertainment industry, women demanding an end to disparity in the music industry like equal representation on the Grammy stage,” she said.

“We were told we need to step up. Well, you feel that step up now?”

Keys will indeed be stepping up as the first female host of the show since Queen Latifah took on the role in 2005. She will be at the forefront of a year that includes a considerably larger number of female nominees.

“I’m especially excited for all the incredible women nominated this year! It’s going “UP” on February 10!”

The 2019 Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Centre on February 10 in Los Angeles.

Further reading: Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

d-Sheeran-to-Face-Court-over-Marvin-Gaye-Plagiarism-Claim

Ed Sheeran to Face Court over Marvin Gaye Plagiarism Claim

A jury is set to decide if British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran copied Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On when he created his smash single Thinking Out Loud.

The 27 year-old’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected on Thursday, January 3 when district Judge Louis Stanton said a jury should decide Sheeran’s liability.

Judge Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements.”

He further ruled that it was disputed whether the harmonic rhythm of Let’s Get It On was too common to deserve copyright protection.

The action was brought against Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records by the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye.

The classic track hit number one in 1973 while Thinking Out Loud topped the UK single charts in 2014.

The defense has argued that the newer track was characterized by “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love,” while Let’s Get It On was a “sexual anthem.”

However, the Judge said there were similarities in the bass lines and percussion of the two songs and stated that listeners might consider both hits as having the same “aesthetic appeal.”

Sheeran denies copying Gaye.

Not the first time 

The accusation is not the first time that Sheeran has been accused of copying other artists.

In 2017, the star settled a $20 million copyright infringement claim over his song Photograph. He was sued in 2016 by songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington, who claimed that his hit ballad had a similar structure to their song Amazing.

Another instance in 2017 also saw the team behind TLC’s 1999 single No Scrubs given writing credits on Sheeran’s Shape of You, after comparisons were made between elements of the songs.

Judge Stanton is presiding over another lawsuit alleging Sheeran copied Let’s Get It On. Structured Asset Sales (SAS)—which owns a third of Townsend’s estate—are suing for $100 million.

They claim he copied the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping” of the song.

History repeats itself

Recently, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family claimed that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties.

Further reading: Space Jam 2 Is Officially Starring LeBron James

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye, as a long-running legal battle comes to a close.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family alleged that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The family initially won the case in 2015, attesting that Blurred Lines had the same “feel and sound” of the 1977 hit, but the pair appealed.

In March this year, a Californian federal judge upheld the original ruling, resulting in an amended judgment and settlement to Gaye’s family.

Thicke and Williams, along with Williams’ publishing company More Water From Nazareth, owe joint damages of $2.8million. Meanwhile, Thicke has been ordered to pay an additional $1.8million and Williams, another $357,631.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties. The song was said to have generated a total of £16.6million in revenue during the original trial.

The decision has sparked controversy among judges and music experts alike. Having instigated a number of similar copyright cases in recent years, the grueling battle has set a strict precedent for the music industry.

Many feel that the original verdict was mistaken, as the “feel” of a song cannot be concretely copied. Indeed, Williams testified that he only evoked the mood of Gaye’s song and did not directly plagiarize a sequence of musical phrases or lyrics.

“I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then [Williams] started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it,” Thicke admitted in an interview with GQ.

Circuit judge Jacqueline Nguyen, also disagreed with the appeal decision.

She argued that the song “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm” and said the verdict “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.

Two of Gaye’s children, however, called the resolution “a victory for the rights of all musicians” and their mother Jan added that it was a “wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs”.

As a result of the case, instances have seen Taylor Swift gift Right Said Fred a writing credit on her single Look What You Made Me Do; and Ed Sheeran add the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs to his single Shape Of You. Sheeran is also accused of “copying” Marvin Gaye’s classic song Let’s Get it On with his 2014 ballad, Thinking Out Loud.

Further reading: From Cornfields to Concerts: Carlie Hanson’s Rise to Fame

Political Opinion

Taylor Swift Speaks up about Political Opinion

On Sunday, Taylor Swift endorsed two Democrats, Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, in Tennessee on Sunday via her Instagram account to her 112 million followers, sparking a huge response—both good and bad.

The popstar, 28, had deliberately kept her political opinion close to her chest in the past, telling Time magazine in 2012, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people…And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.”

Beneath a black and white photo of herself, she broke her scrupulous silence on the topic, saying, “In the past I’ve been reluctant to publically voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.

“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.

“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appals and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape.”

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

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Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner took to Twitter to praise the singer’s political opinion, saying, “A big shout out to Taylor Swift for speaking out. You can single handedly change this country. Impress on your fans how critical and powerful their voices are. If you get them to the polls on Nov 6, everything you care about will be protected.”

While Swift’s views have been applauded by many (attracting around 1.6 million likes, including by Chrissy Teigen and Reese Witherspoon), the post also caused much controversy among Republicans.

The president of the conservative group Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, tweeted: “You just endorsed a Democrat in the Tennessee Senate race with a ridiculous statement saying Marsha Blackburn, a woman, is against women. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.”

Donald Trump told reporters, “Marsha Blackburn is doing a very good job in Tennessee. She’s leading now substantially, which she should. She’s a tremendous woman. I’m sure Taylor Swift doesn’t know anything about her. Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, okay?”

While Swift’s comments may have the power to sway the political opinion of her fans, her endorsement is no guarantee of a vote. In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was publically supported by superstars Jay Z and Beyoncé in Ohio, but the state still swung in favor of Trump.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Metric

Metric Release New Single ‘Dressed to Suppress’ Ahead of Album Release

Canadian band Metric have released the video for their new single Dressed to Suppress from their seventh album which is set to release September 21.

In July, Metric released the single Dark Saturday, their first release since their 2015 album ‘Pagans in Vegas’. Noisey describes the single as “one of Metric’s scuzziest and most immediate songs since ‘Fantasies’.”

The Dressed to Suppress music video, directed by Justin Broadbent, captures the band in a live performance, filmed on an iPhone X. The black and white visuals of the video give the song a dark feel, reflected in lead singer, Emily Haines, repeating the lyrics, “Dressed to suppress all kinds of sorrow.”

Haines explains, “Lyrically, the song explores the maze of conflicts we encounter in our attempts at finding and holding onto love; the absurd mating rituals we routinely perform; and the vast divide between the desires our appearances can imply and the way we actually feel inside.

“Sonically, it’s one of the most intense songs on the album. We’re already playing it live and it’s getting stronger every night. The contrast between the delicate, dreamy opening and the heavy riffs of the verse and chorus match the dramatic emotional shifts we all go through when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, the push and pull of retaining our own identities in love.”

The band has collaborated with Justin Meldal Johnson, who has previously worked with M83 and Nine Inch Nails, to produce their album. “Justin was just what we needed in a producer for this album,” says Jimmy Shaw, the band’s guitarist. “Making this album brought us together in a way we hadn’t been for quite some time and I think you can hear it in the music.”

The currently unnamed new album is available for pre-order and fans who pre-order the album will receive a signed Dark Saturday seven-inch vinyl.

Metric fans can see them currently supporting for Smashing Pumpkin’s Shiny and Oh So Bright tour. They are also going on an overseas tour in October 2018, kicking off in Moscow, Russia, and travelling around Europe.

Further reading: Good Charlotte Announces New Album and Tour Dates

Every Time I Die

Every Time I Die Return to the Machine Shop, Michigan

After 12 years, Every Time I Die made a triumphant return to the Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. The venue, which had a slight western theme with restrooms labeled as “cowgirls” and “cowboys,” and a literal chain for a barricade, erupted with screaming fans and staff trying to capture crowd-surfers the second Keith Buckley stepped on stage. His vocals sounded as if he has the ability to rip through sandpaper, starting off the show with Roman Holiday. Guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams shred through the riffs with undying power and control, while bassist Stephen Micciche had control of the undertones in each song. Clayton Holyoak, the group’s drummer, had one of the most calming facial expressions I had ever seen on a drummer. Throughout the entire show, he maintained an appearance of being thoroughly at peace with the environment around him.

“Peace,” however, is one of the last things a fan of Every Time I Die should expect at one of their shows. With an abundance of people creating circle pits, crowd-surfers and head-bangers galore, beer seemingly falling on you from every direction, and getting kneed in the head multiple times (personal experience within the photo pit), it’s safe to say that the Machine Shop’s western theme lived up to the hype of Every Time I Die—wild, wild, wild.

The crowd, just as excited as the band were to be back, kept the energy alive throughout the 21-song set. With classic hits like The New Black, Pigs is Pigs, The Coin Has a Say and We’re Wolf mixed in with crowd favorites like Apocalypse Now and Then, Petal, Romeo a Go-Go and Decayin’ With the Boys, there was a bit of something for everyone at the show and it was hard not to be ecstatic throughout the entirety of it. Vocalist Buckley kept the crowd going as well, stopping between songs here and there to not only say a few words of encouragement, but also to check in with crowd members to see if they were still having a good time (shout out to the person on a swing). One interesting highlight of the setlist was that Every Time I Die decided to end their set with Fear and Trembling, which normally is an opener song throughout most of their previous tour dates post their latest album, Low Teens.

For a band that’s been around for nearly two decades and released eight stellar LP’s, it’d be easy to say that a group has “worn out” on stage and in studio, or become “too tired” and “boring” to continue putting on kick-ass shows—Every Time I Die is not one of those groups. During their final song, guitarist Jordan took the initiative to stage-dive and the crowd carried him from the stage all the way to the back of the venue, near where they had their merch setup. As the Flint stop was their final run on their recent US tour until the Vans Warped Tour this summer, I truly don’t think Every Time I Die could have seen a better send-off crowd than the one in Michigan.

Further reading: Panic! At the Disco Back with New Track

Ron Pope

Ron Pope Interview

Defining independent artist of the moment Ron Pope has sold more than two million digital tracks worldwide, has racked up over 200 million streams on Spotify and 150 million views on YouTube. On the release of his latest album, Worktapes, he talks music, almost giving up and what’s in store for 2018.

It was in 2012 that I first heard A Drop in the Ocean (2007), one of Ron Pope’s most listened-to tracks on YouTube (with 53 million views at the time of writing). That song marked the beginning of a lifelong love of all things acoustic, so when the opportunity to speak with the man himself arose, I jumped. We’ve just a 20-minute slot in which to speak, but Pope is relaxed, optimistic and ready to go. Naturally, the conversation begins with the release of his highly anticipated EP, Worktapes. “The response has been great,” he tells me. The EP comes just months after the release of Work, the first in the two-album series. “I kind of thought of it as one project, but I wanted to divide it just to give people more manageable, more bite-sized pieces.” Pope explains that with the advent of technology and smartphones (“little computers”, he calls them), musicians have to compete with everything out there now. “Because there is so much that people are doing, and so much in their faces, I think it’s easier on my audience if I give them 10 songs at a time or seven songs at a time and not 20, or whatever.”

 A nod to the past   

Worktapes is a nostalgic trip to the musician’s earlier albums—slow, quiet and vulnerable tracks that have earned him his distinct sound and reputation. I ask Pope if this was a conscious decision. “It’s intimidating writing quiet music. If a crowd makes noise and you’re in a band, you can just play louder, you know? If you’re playing quiet music live, if people aren’t quiet, then it’s ruined, it’s a waste of time. So you have to really believe that people are going to listen to it if you’re going to create it… [quieter music] has come back into my life in a very real way in the last handful of years.” Pope is truly in touch with his intuition and it’s his connection with his emotions that makes his deeply authentic music so attainable to his fan base. “You make music for yourself, and then you release it for your audience, so I’m creating music that feels good to me; I’m shaping the music and I could never manipulate that [process]. What sounds good to me right now is what I will create, that’s why the records sound different from album to album, that’s why sometimes there’s loud songs and sometimes there are quiet songs and it really has to do with what feels right to me.”

On giving up

The indie star attributes the freedom he has to create the music he wants to his label Brooklyn Basement Records, a company that he runs with his wife, Blair. “Music is really keeping me off the streets—which is good for me and good for the streets,” he jokes. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey; Pope’s past encapsulates the old ‘struggling musician’ adage almost entirely. Has there been any point where he considered giving up? “There were definitely times early on where I thought about giving up,” he recalls. “I was playing in the subway, I was paying my rent in rolled change and I was living off, like, hot dogs. One day, when I was down in the subway playing and I hadn’t eaten all day and I didn’t have any money and I was freezing… It was the middle of winter, nobody came, I played a bunch of songs and it was just so cold down there and at some point, I just started crying. I couldn’t control it and I just started crying.” This would become a defining moment for Pope, one that would change his attitude to hard graft in the coming years. “The adversity I deal with in running a business and being an entrepreneur and trying to compete on a global level with the giant multi-national corporations…Even when that gets overwhelming, at least I’m not starving. I try to have perspective.”

 2018

So what does 2018 have in store for the captivating artist? “It’s been 10 years since my first solo album Daylight came out, so I’m probably going to do some ‘stuff’ around that,” he chuckles. “I say ‘stuff’ because I’m not going to tell you what that is yet.” That’s unfair, I think, but I can’t wait. 20 minutes goes by so quickly, doesn’t it, I say; it does, he replies in his cheerful, chippy tone.   

“Music is really keeping me off the streets—which is good for me and good for the streets”—Ron Pope

Ron Pope in the Hot Seat

 CN: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

RP: [Laughing] I really don’t have any other skills, so I have no idea—thank God I am a musician.

CN: Which animal would you be and why?

RP: My dog has the best life in the world. If I could be any animal, I would be my dog.

CN: If you were a musical instrument, what would you be?

RP: I would be an old telecaster [guitar], kind of beat up and rough around the edges but still plays pretty good.

CN: Top piece of advice for budding musicians?

RP: Don’t give up! If you’re meant to be a musician, you don’t need me to tell you not to give up—but don’t give up. When everybody else quits, keep going.

CN: Tell us a secret…

RP: I’m still wearing my pyjamas and it’s 1.20pm!

Further reading: Ron Pope Releases Seventh Studio Album

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish to Perform on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

16-year-old musician Billie Eilish is to perform her single Bellyache on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, March 22.

Bellyache has been written from the perspective of a conflicted psychopath. The dark, gritty pop song—described by the BBC in 2017 as the “pop equivalent of a Tarantino movie”—features on her critically-acclaimed debut EP Don’t Smile at Me.

Currently on her sold out Where’s My Mind North American tour, Billie Eilish has proven to be a formidable talent since signing with Interscope Records. Following her performance at this year’s South by South West (SXSW) festival, Billie Eilish was listed in The New York Times’ Acts that Stood Out coverage. “This 16-year-old singer has a misty, sleepy voice that can take on a jazzy quaver—part Lana Del Rey, part Amy Winehouse. Onstage, there was absolutely nothing complaisant about her. As her band played folk-pop tinged with some hip-hop bitterness, Ms. Eilish strolled, slouched and crooned with precisely gauged insolence and nonchalance.”

Bellyache has also featured the latest Music Issue in The New York Times magazine’s 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music is Going. The piece describes Billie Eilish’s music as “otherworldly”, saying that “our culture demands that young girls crave validation, but Eilish and her cast of characters feel no such thing. There are no apologies in her songs about the disappointments of love—only poetic quips about potential lovers tripping over knives or the subject of a song remorselessly burning the car of an ex-flame.”

Last month saw Ocean Eyes, another track from the highly applauded EP, officially certified with the RIAA GOLD in North America. The EP has, at the time of writing, surpassed more than 300,000,000 streams globally, proving the young star to be a musical phenomenon—and the artist shows no sign of stopping.

Catch Billie Eilish’s performance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday March 22 at 11:35pm/10:35pm CT.