The Number Ones Bonus Tracks: R.E.M.’s “Supernatural Superserious”

The Number Ones Bonus Tracks: R.E.M.’s “Supernatural Superserious”

| September 29, 2020 – 8:51 am

Welcome to the Number Ones Bonus Tracks, the addendum to our regular Number Ones column. We at Stereogum recently wrapped up our fundraising campaign, and we’d like to thank everyone who donated to support this site and keep it going. To those All Access donors who pledged $1,000, I promised that I’d write a Number Ones-style column on a song of their choosing, as long as that song charted on the Billboard Hot 100.


R.E.M. – “Supernatural Superserious”

PEAKED: #85 on April 19, 2008

SONG AT #1 THAT WEEK: Mariah Carey – “Touch My Body”

This column is at the request of Stereogum donor Mark Pitcock. Here’s what he wrote about his pick:

Mark Pitcock requested R.E.M.’s “Supernatural Superserious” in honor of his late husband, Donald F. Ayers III. Mark and Don became a couple in the spring of 2008, around the same time that R.E.M.’s Accelerate was released. “Supernatural Superserious” immediately became “their song.” As two middle-aged gay men who started out in straight relationships and had never found “the one” after coming out as adults, they identified with the line about realizing “your fantasies are dressed up in travesties,” and celebrated the encouragement to “enjoy yourself with no regrets.” Mark and Don were married at Old South Church in Boston on March 21, 2009. Tragically, Don was diagnosed with esophageal cancer the week before their second wedding anniversary, and he passed away on September 24, 2011. They were married for only 30 months but it was “sweet, delirious, supernatural, superserious,” and an absolute gift.

In June of 1989, R.E.M. performed their single “Orange Crush” on the long-running BBC show Top Of The Pops. They didn’t really play it, though. Nobody on Top Of The Pops played anything. This was house policy. Every week on the show, hosts would count down the top 40 singles in the UK that week, and the artists behind some of those singles would mime and lip-sync their way through their hits. R.E.M. hated the idea of lip-syncing their records — at the time, they wouldn’t even do it in music videos — so they made a big show out of their disdain for the ritual.

Michael Stipe did lip-sync “Orange Crush,” but he did it through a megaphone, while dancing spasmodically, like the proto-Thom Yorke that he was. Stipe also worked hard to make himself look goofy as hell: Baggy suit, no shirt, braided ponytail spilling down his back. The other guys in the band stoically did their jobs, but Stipe put on a ridiculous show — his own way of breaking this particular fourth wall.

I was watching when this happened. Top Of The Pops was my favorite show. That year, I was nine years old, and my family was living in London. (My dad, a history professor, had gone on sabbatical that year to write a book that he never ended up finishing.) In London, I couldn’t really follow baseball anymore, but I had Top Of The Pops, which lined up the entire musical landscape in a way that made some kind of numerical sense. This column only exists because Top Of The Pops, at a crucial formative moment, made me a pop-music dork.

Top Of The Pops had a stage set that looked like a B-movie spaceship. Every week, I’d watch a throughly random assortment of artists — De La Soul, Soul II Soul, Robert Palmer, Donna Summer, various one-hit acid-house entities, a whole lot of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan — mime their way through whatever new single they were pushing. It didn’t occur to me that the performances were lip-synced or that the artists might not be into participating in the whole charade. When R.E.M. played, I just thought, “Huh. Megaphone. That’s interesting. Maybe more people should use megaphones, since it looks cool and sounds just the same as a microphone.”

The megaphone stunt wasn’t necessarily a big moment in R.E.M.’s career, but it was a sort of emblematic one. For the first decade-plus of their existence, R.E.M. made a big point out of resisting the mainstream stardom that a lot of people wanted them to assume. R.E.M. might’ve been the first truly big and important band in American college-rock. That category, college-rock, would come to be known as alternative and indie rock — genre names that have always been frustratingly inexact. R.E.M. weren’t punk or new wave or heartland rock or whatever else. Instead, they developed a record-collector twinkle-drone that set them apart and opened up a whole new lane.

R.E.M. famously started out in Athens, Georgia in 1980, when University Of Georgia student Michael Stipe got to be friends with record-store clerk Peter Buck. (The #1 song in America when Stipe was born: Marty Robbins’ “El Paso.”) A mutual friend connected Stipe and Buck with bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, and the new band spent time rehearsing at a deconsecrated church. Stipe chose the band name by searching a dictionary at random, but there’s a certain divine kismet in his selection. Rapid eye movement is the dream stage of sleep, and R.E.M.’s music was blurry and mysterious enough that it might’ve come out of that dream state.

After a whole lot of Southern college-town touring and the small-indie release of the 1981 single “Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M. signed to IRS Records, the A&M imprint that had made big successes out of the Police and the Go-Go’s. Both of those bands had underground-rock pedigrees that never conflicted with their mass appeal. That was also the case with R.E.M., who first hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, when IRS released a re-recorded “Radio Free Europe.” (It peaked at #78.) But even as they kept cranking out records through the ’80s, R.E.M. resisted all of their label’s attempts to turn them into commercial stars. Their music was often dour and insular, and Stipe blurred his own inscrutable lyrics, keeping people at arm’s length. In 1987, R.E.M. made the top 10 for the first time with “The One I Love,” a tortured-obsession lament that plenty of people heard as a straight-up love song. (“The One I Love” peaked at #9. It’s a 9.)

Viewed in retrospect, a pattern emerges over R.E.M.’s career. They would do the things that were expected of them, like appearing on Top Of The Pops in the first place, but they would make sure to point out the artifice and absurdity along the way. This approach did not hurt them commercially. R.E.M. grew and grew. In 1988, the band jumped from IRS to Warner Bros., as their sound gradually evolved into something more concrete and inviting. They made the top 10 again with 1989’s “Stand,” a tongue-in-cheek ’60s-bubblegum pastiche that worked just fine as both parody and as straight-up pop music. (“Stand” peaked at #6. It’s an 8.)

R.E.M.’s real golden pop moment was 1991’s Out Of Time, which really wasn’t a huge departure from what they’d been doing but which still hit the zeitgeist in a huge way. Even more than Nevermind and Ten, which both came out months later, Out Of Time was the real alt-rock success story of year — a band that had spent a solid decade building an underground fanbase going over the top, becoming inescapable on radio, and selling millions of records. But Nirvana and Pearl Jam felt new and different. R.E.M. had been around. They didn’t bash or growl. Instead, their sound was a refined jangle that wouldn’t alienate adult-contemporary listeners.

Two of the singles from Out Of Time made it into the top 10. “Losing My Religion,” the band’s highest-charting single, made it up to #4. (It’s an 8.) Meanwhile, “Shiny Happy People,” a collaboration with the B-52’s’ Kate Pierson, made it up to #10. (It’s a 7. The two highest-charting singles from B-52’s, R.E.M.’s fellow Athens-scene veterans, were 1989’s “Love Shack” and 1990’s “Roam.” Both singles peaked at #3. They’re both 10s.)

R.E.M. never made it into the top 10 after “Shiny Happy People,” and they didn’t tour behind Out Of Time or the huge follow-up Automatic For The People. But all through the ’90s, R.E.M. were part of the firmament. Conflicted newly minted rock stars like Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke looked to them as an example of how to transition gracefully into mass popularity. When I started listening to alt-rock radio in the ’90s, R.E.M. were the Zeppelin of the format, and their whole catalog of singles never left rotation. They weren’t U2 — a band who will eventually appear in The Number Ones — but they were one step down.

As the ’90s went on, R.E.M.’s music grew a little more insular, and they stopped being a dominant presence. Drummer Bill Berry left the band, and the other three continued on without him. The albums grew spottier and more ponderous, and the stretches of time between albums grew longer. In the 21st century, R.E.M. only had two singles in the Hot 100: 2001’s “Imitation Of Life,” which peaked at #83, and 2008’s “Supernatural Superserious,” the song we’re here to talk about today.

In a way, it’s an unlikely victory that R.E.M. were able to land a Hot 100 single in 2008 — but then, it’s an unlikely victory that R.E.M. ever became pop stars in the first place. By the time they recorded the 2008 album Accelerate, R.E.M. were already in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and they were looking to make up for 2004’s Around The Sun, an album they weren’t very proud of. Even in indie rock, the world had kind of moved on from the band. R.E.M. had helped will American indie rock to existence, but the big indie bands of 2008 — Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, TV On The Radio — only vaguely resembled them.

Accelerate is, on the whole, the kind of album where a long-established legacy act seeks to recapture old glories. It’s one of the better examples of that trope. On the advice of U2, R.E.M. went to work with producer Jacknife Lee. Musically, they found a tasteful middle ground between their old ancestral jangle and the tasteful crunch of the glam-rock flirtations from their 1994 album Monster. Accelerate is a pretty good album that I ignored completely when it came out. “Supernatural Superserious,” its lead single, is an absolute gem.

Michael Stipe wrote the “Supernatural Superserious” lyrics about a teenage experience that he remembered from his time working as a counselor at a summer camp. He’s described it as a “séance gone horribly wrong,” though he’s never quite said what went wrong. Singing to himself, he says, “You cried and you cried/ He’s alive, he’s alive.” So Stipe evidently freaked the fuck out, and he was so crushingly embarrassed that he could still feel the visceral shame decades later: “You don’t have to explain/ Humiliation of your teenage station.”

But “Supernatural Superserious” isn’t just about that. It’s about hiding yourself, then cringing when little bits of your actual self bubble up to the surface. Stipe’s sexuality had never really been a matter of public record during R.E.M.’s peak years, though he gradually became more and more comfortable being publicly queer when he’d already been famous for years. Through that lens, “Supernatural Superserious” might be a song about the process of coming out, of accepting who you are: “You realized your fantasies are dressed up in travesties/ Enjoy yourself with no regrets.” It’s good advice!

Musically, “Supernatural Superserious” is a big, bracing, exciting song, one that’s a lot more direct and visceral than what most of us had come to expect from R.E.M. at the time. Some of its pleasures are old ones, like the intricate winding of Peter Buck’s guitar or Mike Mills’ soaring backup harmonies. But there’s also a real garage-rock crunch to the central riff, and there’s some hip-shaking strut to the beat. It’s an urgent rocker from a time when nobody had any right to expect urgent rockers from R.E.M.

R.E.M. warmed up for their Accelerate sessions by playing a run of shows at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, and they played “Supernatural Superserious” at those shows. At the time, they were calling the song “Disguised.” They changed the title on the advice of Chris Martin, whose band Coldplay will eventually appear in The Number Ones. R.E.M. released “Supernatural Superserious” as a Record Store Day single, backing it up with a cover of Beat Happening’s “Red Head Walking.” For the video, they got Vincent Moon, the French director whose lo-fi Take Away Shows videos were the toast of the indie rock internet, to film Stipe walking around Lower Manhattan. It’s a pretty boring video, so you can’t pin the song’s success on that.

Instead, “Supernatural Superserious” is just a good song, one that makes a great final chart moment for R.E.M. It’s a forceful, direct, energetic piece of music from a band who didn’t always prioritize force or directness or energy. The song wasn’t a smash or anything, but it made it up to #85, the exact same chart position where “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” had peaked 24 years earlier.

Three years later, R.E.M. released one more album and then amicably broke up without much fanfare. Since then, Peter Buck and Mike Mills have turned their quiet indie side projects into their quiet indie main projects, and Michael Stipe has shown up at whatever New York events he’s felt like showing up at. They all seem like they’re having a great time in semi-retirement. Good for them.

GRADE: 9/10

BONUS BEATS: “Supernatural Superserious” is apparently on the soundtrack of the 2009 movie He’s Just Not That Into You, but I can’t find video of that scene online. So instead, let’s go with the best R.E.M. needledrop I’ve seen in a recent movie. Here’s an extremely high Andrew Garfield dancing to 1994’s “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” with Grace Van Patten in 2019’s Under The Silver Lake:

(“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” peaked at #21.)

Thank you, Mark!

Nothing – “Bernie Sanders”

Nothing – “Bernie Sanders”

| September 29, 2020 – 8:57 am

CREDIT: Getty Images for Supermajority

When Nothing announced their new album The Great Dismal, they also revealed lead single “Say Less.” That was a good choice; “Say Less” is a great song. But if anything piqued my curiosity about the new LP, it was the inclusion of a song called “Bernie Sanders” deep into the tracklist. What exactly would the Philly heavy shoegazers have in store for us here? A polemic? A protest anthem? A comprehensive policy overview?

Instead, it’s just another really good Nothing song, one that errs on the poppy side of their aesthetic. Here’s what Dominic Palermo had to say about it:

Originally, it was about being lost in Japan… both figuratively, and literally. While searching relentlessly for an answer, you typically find yourself unearthing deeper meaning and often prompting more questions. By the end of it all you don’t even know if you were ever lost at all or if you were exactly where you were supposed to be the whole time. I really don’t even know what it means anymore.

OK, so, the song is not exactly a campaign platform, but Nothing are taking the opportunity to partner with Rock The Vote to register voters for the upcoming election. Make sure you’re signed up in your state and watch director Jordan Hemingway’s “Bernie Sanders” video below.

The Great Dismal is out 10/30 on Relapse. Pre-order it here.

Watch Jeff Rosenstock Absolutely Kick Ass In His TV Debut On Seth Meyers

Watch Jeff Rosenstock Absolutely Kick Ass In His TV Debut On Seth Meyers

| September 29, 2020 – 9:23 am

Seth Meyers usually doesn’t feature musical acts on his show, but every once in a while, he lets us know how much he loves the stuff. (Meyers’ Hold Steady fandom, for instance, is well-documented.) On last night’s show, Meyers had Jeff Rosenstock, the DIY pop-punk great, as his musical guest. At this point, we’ve all gotten used to seeing our faves on the late-night shows, and it’s hard to come up with a surprising booking. But Jeff Rosenstock is that. This motherfucker got on TV.

Rosenstock has been on a run lately — soundtracking the animated series Craig Of The Creek, dropping covers whenever necessary, releasing the ridiculously good extra-songs EP 2020 DUMP just two weeks ago. Most importantly, Rosenstock surprise-released his album No Dream back in May, and it rules hard. On Late Night, Rosenstock and his band ripped their way through “Scram!,” possibly the hardest-ripping song from No Dream. I’m guessing it’s the first time there’s been a mosh breakdown on Late Night With Seth Meyers.

Rosenstock and his band played remotely, in a studio somewhere. All of them wore masks. They indulged in some light special-effects magic. And they just whomped ass. It can’t be easy to convey intensity and physicality in a quarantine late-night performance, but they did it. Watch it happen below.

No Dream is out now on Polyvinyl. Also, Rosenstock covered Scared Of Chaka’s “Crossing With Switchblades on our very own Save Stereogum: An ’00s Covers Comp.

Jesse Kivel – “Northside”

Jesse Kivel – “Northside”

| September 29, 2020 – 9:44 am

Jesse Kivel of Kisses impressed me greatly with “William,” the lead single from his solo debut album Infinite Jess. And guess what? The second single, out today, is equally impressive. “Northside” is a warmly melancholy midtempo pop song backed by some extremely ’90s drum programming reportedly inspired by My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon.” The “Northside” in question is a neighborhood in Santa Monica that, per Kivel’s new press release, is known as “North of Montana” among the locals — a place where rich Hollywood types maintain some semblance of an idyllic West Coast existence despite the world crumbling around them.

Kivel’s statement doesn’t get into all that, but it does unlock some of the song’s musical DNA:

This song is a love letter to a time when music was brand new and limitless in my mind. As a kid, my brother and I would walk from our high school to Barnes and Noble and spend hours reading Q, NME, MOJO and all the other British music magazines. Our favorite group was Oasis, and we just wanted to be the Gallaghers. This song also nods to the Smashing Pumpkins, Primal Scream and Polaris who I also deeply connected with at the time.

Listen below.

Infinite Jess is out 11/13 on New Feelings. Pre-order it here.

Andrew Bird – “Andalucia” (John Cale Cover)

Andrew Bird – “Andalucia” (John Cale Cover)

| September 29, 2020 – 9:58 am

CREDIT: Reuben Cox

Andrew Bird has a lot going on these days. Many years ago, the handsome whistling bastard was a member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the briefly-huge swing revivalists. Last month, Bird reunited with the Zippers for the first time in 22 years, performing a song for NPR’s remote cameras. Bird is also part of the current cast of the great TV show Fargo, and Hulu just began streaming that show’s new season yesterday. So this seems like an opportune moment for Andrew Bird to announce a damn Christmas album.

Bird actually put out some Christmas music last year, when he dropped a holiday-themed EP called Hark! Bird’s new album, also called Hark!, is coming in about a month. The Hark! album will include all six songs from last year’s EP, as well as seven new joints. Those new songs include tracks from John Prine, the Handsome Family, and John Cale.

Today, Bird has shared his take on “Andalucia,” a song from the former Velvet Underground member John Cale’s 1973 solo album Paris 1919. Cale’s original — which Yo La Tengo already covered on 1990’s Fakebook — is a soft romantic murmur. Bird has made it even softer, rendering it as twee acoustic indie-folk. Below, listen to Bird’s rendition and Cale’s original and check out the tracklist for Bird’s new album and what Bird has to say about the whole enterprise.

Bird says:

Let’s not talk about the dubious motives that might lead an artist to make a holiday record. It’s a complicated relationship many of us have with the holidays and the requisite music we hear. So let’s admit that it’s a utilitarian thing. The music is just one contributing factor to our communal or solitary joy and melancholy. As a musician, it’s an excuse to take a break from writing the next record and indulge in an unapologetically nostalgic exercise. I’ve done my best to find some lesser known gems. A passing reference to wintertime sentiment is all it takes to make the cut on Hark! A mention of snow falling in John Cale’s “Andalucia,” a namecheck of Christmas in John Prine’s “Souvenirs” or as the setting of the drunken fiasco in the Handsome Family’s “So Much Wine,” remade as “Greenwine.”

There’s an original tune I wrote in April during the most disorienting phase of the pandemic, when I couldn’t help but wonder where we’ll be when the holidays come, if we could be together or not. I’ve been writing a lot of songs inspired by this uninspiring predicament. Let’s hope they all become obsolete as soon as possible.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Hark! And that it underscores better times.

01 “Andalucia”
02 “Alabaster”
03 “Greenwine”
04 “Christmas In April”
05 “Souvenirs”
06 “Oh Holy Night”
07 “Mille Cherubini In Coro”
08 “Night’s Falling”
09 “Glad”
10 “Christmas Is Coming”
11 “White Christmas”
12 “Skating”
13 “Auld Lang Syne”

Hark! is out 10/30 on Loma Vista.

Jim-E Stack – “Jeanie” (Feat. Bon Iver)

Jim-E Stack – “Jeanie” (Feat. Bon Iver)

| September 29, 2020 – 9:59 am

Over the last couple months, producer Jim-E Stack has been sharing some stray tracks — “Note To Self” featuring Empress Of and “Sweet Summer Sweat” featuring Dijon — and today he’s announced a whole new album called Ephemera, which will be out at the end of October. It also includes “Good Enough,” his collab with Ant Clemons that came out last year, and team-ups with Kacy Hill, Octavian, Bearface, and, last but certainly not least, Bon Iver.

Jim-E Stack has been in the Bon Iver orbit this year, racking up credits on his 2020 singles “PDLIF” and “AUATC,” and now Bon Iver has repaid the favor. “Jeanie” certainly sounds like it came out of the Justin Vernon extended universe, with Vernon’s manipulated vocals front-and-center over a driving and gooey beat.

Check it out below.

01 “Note To Self” (Feat. Empress Of)
02 “Jeanie” (Feat. Bon Iver”
03 “Sweet Summer Sweat” (Feat. Dijon)
04 “Be Long 2″
05 “Lost Man” (Feat. Octavian)
06 “One Shot” (Feat. Bearface)
07 “Good Enough” (Feat. Ant Clemons)
08 “Can We” (Feat. Kacy Hill)

Ephemera is out 10/30 via AWAL.

In Rob Halford’s New Memoir, The Judas Priest Frontman Gets Candid About His Sexuality And Alcoholism

In Rob Halford’s New Memoir, The Judas Priest Frontman Gets Candid About His Sexuality And Alcoholism

| September 29, 2020 – 10:24 am

It goes without saying, but Rob Halford is an icon. As the frontman of Judas Priest, he helped codify a whole genre, a whole aesthetic. He was one of the early heavy metal howlers, but he was also one of the guys who established aspects of metal’s early iconography, decking himself out in leather and riding a motorcycle onstage. Through the dizzying highs of the band’s success and the lows of Halford’s personal struggles, he’s lived a hell of a life. And now he’s telling that story in a new autobiography called Confess.

The title is not used lightly. Throughout the book, Halford writes candidly — and, often, amusingly — about the travails of decadent rockstar life in the ’70s and ’80s and onwards. He talks about miserable recording sessions in the Bahamas, and about laughing his head off upon seeing This Is Spinal Tap and recognizing just a bit too much of his own band in the movie. He describes both career milestones — like being at Live Aid — and crushing personal tragedies. One of the book’s most heartbreaking and harrowing sections arrives when Halford grapples with the loss of a partner to suicide. No matter the comedy or the horror, the lightness or the darkness, Halford proceeds through his memories with brutal honesty and, often, a sense of disarming wonder at making it through to the other side of all that experience.

Of course, Halford, like many of his peers, almost didn’t. A major thread throughout the book is his struggle with his sexuality, and living as a closeted gay man amidst the metal scene of the ’70s and ’80s. He wrestled with unrequited love, with not being able to be open about who he was. And in turn it fueled his drinking and partying. Bit by bit, Halford traces his battle with alcoholism and addiction, from wild rockstar days to much bleaker passages and, ultimately, to sobriety and the peace he’d later find in his life.

Now that Confess is out today, you can read the whole story for yourself. But today we’re also publishing an excerpt from Halford’s book, from the would-be halcyon days following the major success of 1980’s British Steel. Halford and his band were on the top of the metal world. And yet Halford found himself spinning out of control, at war with himself and entering one of the most difficult chapters of his life.


I’d never gone onstage sober. Even in the very earliest days of Priest, I’d liked to have a bit of a buzz going before I got up in front of a crowd. This had been ratcheting up since the band had started getting huge, around British Steel, and now it was out of control.

By the time we got to America in the spring of ’84, I was necking plastic mugs of vodka and tonic before the shows as if they were orange squash. In the past, I had always drunk water onstage to stay hydrated. Now, it was neat Smirnoff.

I would be close to staggering as I bade the crowd farewell — “THANK YOU! GOOD NIGHT!” — and then I’d run backstage to do some proper drinking. My post-gig ritual was two large cans of Budweiser, glugged down in one, followed by a bottle of Dom Pérignon to myself. A bit greedy, but there you go.

I have never been a falling-down drunk, but I was getting so paralytic that Jim Silvia would sometimes have to pour me onto the bus back to the hotel. At which point, I would attempt to hit the bar, or give up and drain the minibar in my room.

I just fucking hated being sober. Hated being how I was — and hated being who I was.

The next morning, I would feel dirty and horrible. Shit, I don’t want to feel this bad again tomorrow — I’ll take it easy today! That would last as long as getting to the venue before the show, at which point it was Groundhog Day:

I need something to take the edge off before I go on! I think I’ll have a vodka and tonic . . . and another . . .

I also introduced another element into my ferocious partying: cocaine.

Oddly, I can’t remember where we were the first time I took coke, or who gave it to me, but I’ll never forget the feeling that seared into my brain the second I sniffed the white, salt-like powder. It was love at first snort.

Oh, my God! This is the perfect fucking drug!

The coke buzz was euphoric and, in an instant, I became extremely powerful and potent. Plus, incredibly clever. I knew the answer to every single question, and what everyone should be doing, and it was essential that I shared that knowledge.

Coke felt like a gift from God. Alcohol got me depressed after the twentieth drink or so. Coke took that clean away and lifted my spirits and my confidence. It let me drink more, which let me take more coke. Perfect!

Also, it was so more-ish! Once I had had my first line of the night, that was what I needed, nonstop:


One night, I was sitting on my hotel bed with a Priest roadie, shoveling coke up my nose until the sun came up. I was banging on about my dad, and how I never told him that I loved him and I wished that I did.

“Why don’t you call him?” asked the roadie. “Tell him now!”

It was a self-evidently stupid idea, but it made total sense at the time. Unfortunately, I was too out of it to work a phone, so our roadie dug out my address book and called my dad’s office number.

“Hello! Rob wants to tell you that he loves you!” he said, when
Dad picked up. He passed me the phone.

“Hello, Dad! You all right? Yes, I’m in America!” I gabbled at him. “On tour! With Priest, Judas Priest! Yeah! Er, I love you! I know I never tell you, but I do, like! You and Mom! Yeah! You know what I mean?”

“Rob? Rob?” I could hear my dad saying. “What’s going on? Are you OK, Rob?”

Even off my tits, I could tell that he sounded upset.

Fuck! What am I doing? I panicked.

“Sorry, I’ve gorra gew, Dad! I love you!” I blurted, and slammed the phone down. It must have been a horrible call for him to receive. And, like two typical Walsall blokes, neither of us ever mentioned it again.

I didn’t want to come offstage and be by myself in my hotel room. I craved company, male company, but it was forbidden: the forbidden fruit I dared not pick.

Everything was catching up with me: everything at once. The years of denying my true self. The sheer torture of being a gay man fronting a straight band in a macho world. The disappointment that my relationship with David, which I had moved across the world for, had turned out to be a mirage. I felt brittle, and jaded, and like it was all too much.

I don’t doubt, now, that suicidal thoughts were creeping in on that tour . . . but I had a rock, an anvil, that held me together. As ever, the music, and Judas Priest, kept me going.

Once I was onstage, I still thought — I knew — that this was all that mattered. It was when I got offstage that the problems started . . .

My sexual frustration was becoming totally unbearable. I knew I would never dare even to think of ripping off my mask, of coming out, but I was taking ever-greater chances to satisfy my cravings. And running ever-greater risks of being found out.

We had an overnight drive to Austin after a show in San Antonio, and in the small hours our tour bus stopped for fuel at an all-night truck stop. As usual, I headed straight for the loo. As soon as I walked in, I saw a pair of feet under the door of a middle cubicle. I walked into one next to him and bolted the door.


I had hardly even sat down when his eager foot started twitching. I tap-tap-tapped my signal back. Within five seconds, we knew that we were on, and our lonely dance began under that Texan night sky. There was no glory hole, but there was a gap to one side of the toilet partition. The guy squeezed his arm through and gave me a hand job. It had been a while, so let’s just say it didn’t take him long.

Then I put my hand through the gap and did the same for him.

We never said a word. Obviously.

Once he had come, I opened the door and went to wash my hands. Etiquette thus required the other guy to wait in his cubicle until I had left . . . but he didn’t.

I heard his door lock click open behind me, but kept my head down as I rinsed my hands. Human nature being what it is, I couldn’t help but glance in the mirror to check out his face. He was a young guy and he was staring at me, his gob hanging open in shock. He was decked out in Judas Priest merchandise from head to toe.

Well, this is awkward! What am I supposed to say?

As I walked out of the washroom, I winked at him. “See you on the next tour!” I said, climbed back onto the tour bus, and headed off into the night toward Austin.


After years of living my life in the spotlight and my sex life in the shadows, having to cast around furtively for sleazy release, I was coming undone. An excess of booze was loosening my inhibitions. I was out of control.

I was occasionally slipping into gay bars and bathhouses after gigs, despite the risks of being outed. It had not gone unnoticed. Our management took me to one side for a cautionary word about the sort of places I was going to, and the damage it could do to Priest if it leaked out.

The conversation was polite, and well intentioned, not to mention tangential — the word “gay” was not even uttered — but its intent and meaning were undeniable. It could basically be summarized thus:

You are gay.
We know you are gay.
But you’re also the singer in a world-famous metal band.
It’s a macho world.
Metal fans aren’t known for their tolerance.

I understood why I was being told this . . . and yet, also, I resented it. I knew that they had a point about “protecting” the band’s reputation and yet, in my early thirties, I didn’t appreciate lectures on where I should and shouldn’t go. I wasn’t a fucking kid.

So, I largely carried on doing exactly what I wanted to.

CREDIT: Larry Rostant

Excerpted from Confess: The Autobiography by Rob Halford. Copyright © 2020. Available from Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Watch Mariah Carey Tell Stephen Colbert About Her Secret 1995 Grunge Album

Watch Mariah Carey Tell Stephen Colbert About Her Secret 1995 Grunge Album

| September 29, 2020 – 10:35 am

Today, Mariah Carey publishes her memoir The Meaning Of Mariah Carey. A few days ago, in the lead-up to publication, Carey tweeted something truly baffling. As it turns out, Carey recorded and released a secret grunge album in 1995. While Carey was working on her diamond-selling LP Daydream, Carey and her band also jammed out a fizzy alt-pop album under the name Chick. The album actually came out, on a major label and everything, but nobody knew that Carey was the force behind the album until this week.

Chick, the Mariah Carey alt-rock band, released the album Somebody’s Ugly Daughter in 1995. Clarissa Dane, Carey’s roommate at the time, sang lead. Carey wrote, produced, and sang backup vocals on the album’s songs, and she also directed a music video and art-directed the packaging. Last night, Carey was on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show to talk about her book, and Colbert wasn’t about to let something like that go.

Carey herself actually brought up the Chick album during the interview. When Colbert asked about it, Carey told the story:

It was for laughs. I did it for laughs and because it was such a popular genre at the time. I was like, “Well, I have a full band here. Let’s just do something, and I’ll just make up some nonsense and sing it.”…

I worked with my friend Clarissa, who came in and did vocals on top of what I had laid out. Because the label was like, “You can’t do this! What are you talking about?” It was a big deal! So she came in and laid her vocals, and then she wrote a song, as well. She had been someone who was really nice to me before I had a record deal. She let me live with her. She was a very sweet, very kind person to me when not many people were…

I did a video, and I wanted it to be released so bad. My plan was I was going to dress up in a costume and make a video and be unrecognizable and just release it and see what happened. But that got stifled by certain people at the label. So I had to abandon the project, but I’m happy that, at this moment, the fans are getting to hear it. Because it’s me doing an accent, doing an imitation of someone who I created who doesn’t actually exist. Again, there’s layered vocals on top of it, so only someone who really knows my voice would be able to hear that and know that it’s me.

You can see Carey tell the whole tale at the 5:48 mark of the video below.

The Meaning Of Mariah Carey is out today. All of this is completely fascinating, and I look forward to the story that Carey also secretly recorded a blog-house album in 2005, or a chillwave album in 2009, or SoundCloud rap album in 2018.

Sumac Share 20-Minute Epic “May You Be Held”

Sumac Share 20-Minute Epic “May You Be Held”

| September 29, 2020 – 11:18 am

CREDIT: Reid Haithcock

Aaron Turner is an underground metal lifer, and he’s never lacked for ambition. Over the years, Turner’s various projects — Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head Records — have always pushed genre boundaries and gone to strange and interesting places. These days, in addition to Old Man Gloom, Turner is leading the free-wandering power trio Sumac, and they have just unveiled one hell of a song.

Turner has already released two albums with Old Man Gloom this year. On Friday, Turner’s other band will drop their follow-up to the 2018 album Love In Shadow is imminent. Sumac recorded the new LP May You Be Held with Converge’s Kurt Ballou and with Minus The Bear’s Matt Bayles. We’ve already posted the early track “The Iron Chair,” but that one was a measly eight minutes. Today, we get to hear the album’s towering 20-minute title track.

On “May You Be Held,” Turner and his two bandmates, Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook and Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn, have constructed something vast and punishing. “May You Be Held” moves from thundering doom riffage to free-form noise and back again. It’s a deep, immersive listen. Check it out below.

May You Be Held is out 10/2 on Thrill Jockey.

Whitney Houston Hologram Is On The Loose

Whitney Houston Hologram Is On The Loose

| September 29, 2020 – 11:22 am

There’s a rogue Whitney Houston hologram on the loose. Hologram USA, the company behind the infamous Tupac and Michael Jackson holograms, worked on a Whitney hologram a few years back. The plan was for Hologram Whitney to duet with non-hologram Christina Aguilera on the 2016 season finale of The Voice, but Houston’s estate pulled the plug at the last minute because the hologram “didn’t look like Whitney.” Last year, Whitney’s sister-in-law and manager Pat Houston announced that the estate was partnering with a different hologram company for a new hologram tour. But hell hath no fury like a hologram scorned, and now the first hologram is back with a vengeance.

It turns out that Alki David, the Greek billionaire and Chief Keef associate who runs Hologram USA, has been continuing to tinker with the original scrapped Whitney hologram in secret. Sources close to him tell TMZ that he “went back and retooled the hologram’s image to make sure it was just right.” And a little over a week ago, he debuted the new and improved Holo-Whitney in a variety show hosted by producer Scott Storch on his FilmOn TV network, featuring hologram performances and cameos from Jackie Wilson, Billie Holiday, Tupac, Biggie, Michael Jackson, Chief Keef, and more.

The only problem? Whitney’s estate had no idea that any of this was happening, and they’re not too thrilled about it. According to TMZ, Alki David didn’t think he needed a green light from them because “it’s his work and he feels he had the right to pick up the baton again.” Whitney’s estate, however, feels differently — shocking! — and are reportedly considering their legal options. Perhaps they should invest in a hologram lawyer?

Slow Pulp – “Montana”

Slow Pulp – “Montana”

| September 29, 2020 – 11:48 am

CREDIT: Alec Basse

At their best, Slow Pulp can completely immerse you in a feeling. “Montana,” the latest single from the Wisconsin-founded, Chicago-based dream-pop Band To Watch’s suddenly imminent debut album Moveys, finds them at their best. The track is a slow, steady procession into deep melancholy, one that sounds like Soccer Mommy at her most Mazzy Star.

Singer-guitarist Emily Massey adds this background:

This song is about moving beyond defining myself in terms of my mental health. I’ve been working through this over the last couple of years and this song is a reflection of this process and where I am now. “Montana” was the first song we finished recording for the album. Henry’s early demo was kind of heavy and distorted, and when we went to play it together for the first time, it came out a lot slower and cleaner. Our friend Willie Christianson wrote and recorded the slide guitar and harmonica parts.

Listen below, and if you dig, be sure to check out the other advance singles “Idaho,” “Falling Apart,” and “At It Again.”

Moveys is out 10/9 on Winspear. Pre-order it here.

NBA YoungBoy Arrested For Drugs, Firearms

NBA YoungBoy Arrested For Drugs, Firearms

| September 29, 2020 – 12:06 pm


NBA YoungBoy, who we recently described as “a bleak rap star for a bleak world,” has been arrested again. WAFB reports that the Louisiana rapper, born Kentrell Gaulden, was one of 16 people picked up on drug, felony possession, and stolen firearm charges in Baton Rouge on Monday.

This is far from NBA YoungBoy’s first brush with the law. He was already on probation for taking part in a drive-by shooting when he was arrested in 2018 on kidnapping, assault, and weapons charges for beating up a woman in a hotel hallway. Last year, he was briefly jailed for violating his parole after getting into a shootout in Miami that left one bystander dead.

There’s No Easy Way To Say This, But Yungblud Mashed Up Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan” With Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You”

There’s No Easy Way To Say This, But Yungblud Mashed Up Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan” With Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You”

| September 29, 2020 – 12:23 pm

People are out here acting like fucking fools in the BBC Live Lounge. The UK radio institution reopened recently, and the stars are now coming through a much larger space to try out their covers of their peers’ songs. Just this month, Miley Cyrus has turned Billie Eilish’s “my future” into a sarcastic torch song, and Biffy Clyro have done an ironic noise-rock take on “WAP.” And now we’ve got Yungblud up in there, doing unspeakable things. Maybe the good people at the BBC should close that bitch back up again.

You already know Yungblud. He’s the bad-at-spelling UK pop-rock kid who looks like something that a hung-over Hot Topic break room vomited up in 2005, and he’s already responsible for mauling songs from Death Cab For Cutie (with Halsey) and Oasis (with Machine Gun Kelly). In the Live Lounge, though, it was just Yungblud and a string section (If you don’t know Yungblud, our own Chris DeVille has written this handy guide. Go ahead! Dive in! Everything sucks anyway!)

In his own recent Live Lounge visit, Yungblud did the sensitive-acoustic-guitar-guy thing, while still dressing like a stupid child’s idea of a late-period Tim Burton character. Yungblud covered Taylor Swift’s recent hit “Cardigan,” and he mashed it up with Avril Lavigne’s 2002 power ballad “I’m With You.” Yungblud did the yeah-ee-yays and everything. If you’re feeling strong, you can watch it below.

Someone, please invent a time machine, so that we can go back six months and show this to Aaron Dessner. I just want to watch his face.

Iggy Pop, A$AP Rocky, & Tyler, The Creator Hang Out In Harmony Korine-Directed Gucci Ad

Iggy Pop, A$AP Rocky, & Tyler, The Creator Hang Out In Harmony Korine-Directed Gucci Ad

| September 29, 2020 – 12:27 pm

Iggy Pop, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler, The Creator all star in a new ad campaign for Gucci, which was directed by Harmony Korine and, per GQ, was filmed back in February. All three of them descend on a stylish house wearing Gucci clothes and dance around, soundtracked by Cerrone’s 1977 fantasia “Supernature.” Iggy Pop’s pet cockatoo Biggy also makes an appearance.

Iggy was also featured in a Gucci campaign last fall.

Check it out below.

Purity Ring – “Better Off Alone” (Alice Deejay Cover)

Purity Ring – “Better Off Alone” (Alice Deejay Cover)

| September 29, 2020 – 12:30 pm

Purity Ring released their first new album in five years, WOMB, in April. Today, the duo are back with a cover of “Better Off Alone,” the late ’90s dance smash that’s attributed to Alice Deejay, a group made up of a bunch of Dutch DJs. Purity Ring’s take on the track gives it the full Purity Ring makeover, slick and haunting skittering synths backing up Megan James as she takes on the song’s central question: “Do you think you’re better off alone?”

“We have wanted to cover this song for years and it felt like it was time,” the band wrote in a statement. “It’s been an influence on how we write and feel music since the beginning, and so for all the ways that joy and longing move, the truth is out there.”

Check it out below.

04/02/21 Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre
04/03/21 Phoenix, AZ @ Van Buren
04/06/21 Denver, CO @ Mission
04/07/21 Lawrence, KS @ The Liberty Theatre
04/10/21 Dallas, TX @ Bomb Factory
04/11/21 Austin, TX @ ACL Live
04/12/21 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
04/15/21 Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
04/21/21 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
04/22/21 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
04/23/21 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
04/24/21 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
04/25/21 Washington D.C. @ Anthem
04/29/21 Toronto, ON @ Phoenix
05/03/21 Chicago, IL @ Riviera
05/12/21 Vancouver, BC @ Vogue
05/13/21 Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
05/14/21 Portland, OR @ Roseland
05/15/21 Seattle, WA @ Neptune
05/16/21 Seattle, WA @ Neptune
05/18/21 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
05/19/21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
05/20/21 San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park
05/21/21 San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park
05/31/21 Brussels, BE @ Botanique
06/01/21 Berlin, DE @ Columbia Theatre
06/02/21 Copenhagen, DK @ Pumpehuset
06/05/21 Oslo, Norway @ Parkteatret
06/07/21 Amsterdam, NE @ Melkweg
06/08/21 Paris, FR @ Le Trabendo
06/10/21 Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms
06/11/21 Brighton, UK @ CHALK
06/12/21 London, UK @ Roundhouse
06/13/21 Bristol, UK @ SWX Bristol
06/15/21 Glasgow, Scotland @ SWG3
06/16/21 Manchester, UK @ O2 Ritz

“Better Off Alone” is out now via 4AD.

Album Of The Week: Bartees Strange Live Forever

Album Of The Week: Bartees Strange Live Forever

| September 29, 2020 – 12:39 pm

“Boomer” takes off like a rocket. There’s not a second wasted before Bartees Strange is directly in your ears, his cadence precise and pointed. He raps over spindly guitars and pulsing drums, as the song zigzags all over the place through a smear of different styles. It’s a lot to take in, but by sheer force of will and musicianship, Strange makes it all work. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly where I want to go,” he sings during its searing chorus, winking and self-aware. “I know it don’t show.” Indeed it does not. He doesn’t break a sweat on “Boomer” — instead, he sounds cocky, assured, and absolutely unstoppable.

Live Forever, his debut album under the Bartees Strange name, is invigorating and inspirational. It’s a dizzying blend of genre work, combining the sounds of rock, rap, country, soul — genres that, as Strange is apt to point out, were all shaped by Black artists — and fusing them together into a staggering mangle of influences. Live Forever is both a reclamation of these sounds and a joyous celebration of them. Before Live Forever, Strange established his name through a collection of the National covers, reimagining their songs with a ferocious intensity and a playful ear. Strange is hyperconscious of what he’s doing by mashing up all of these disparate sounds together — he even references it on some of his songs — and he makes all these sounds sound not so disparate, all part of a fluid conversation in music history.

Born Bartees Cox Jr., his chosen stage name is a truncated version of his previous project Bartees & The Strange Fruit, and by definition it paints him as an outsider, as someone who is learning to grow comfortable with causing discomfort. The biggest songs on Live Forever, “Boomer” and lead single “Mustang,” are stuffed with this strangeness, spilling out into some of the most driving and anthemic music of the year, regardless of what genre you want to pin to it. Bartees Strange is a simple but powerful name, as is the title of his debut, Live Forever, in that it’s his end goal: Create music that will become immortal.

Everything that Strange makes conveys a jittery, boundless creativity. Before becoming a full-time musician, he worked in communications for a nonprofit organization. His drive reminds me of so many endlessly creative people that I’ve stumbled across in life, those who are working office jobs that aren’t necessarily fulfilling but are necessary to pay the bills, who have a fervent imagination and only need to right opportunity to have it all come tumbling out. But those opportunities are rare, if not a complete fantasy concocted to always give one an out from pursuing their dreams. “It took me a long time to realize that I could build whatever world I wanted,” Strange said in our recent profile of him. “I didn’t have to wait for someone to pick me.”

Live Forever is a fully-realized world, one that jumps around from sound to sound but is held together by Strange’s presence. It’s rare to hear someone have so much presence right out of the gate, but Strange owns every decision that he makes. What could be awkward turns to transcendence in his hands. His voice, which he honed singing opera in churches with his family while growing up, is a marvel, able to adapt to whatever he throws at it. It’s the only element tying everything together because throughout Live Forever, you never really know what to expect. Songs start one place and end somewhere completely different. A warbling acoustic number like “Far” takes its time turning up the temperature, sharp drum hits breaking out into a bluesy and distorted conclusion. On “Flagey God,” he uses sputtering production inspired by Burial and Jai Paul for a smooth shuffle that sounds like it could almost have a home on pop radio. But it’s sandwiched in between the cavernous “Stone Meadows,” which scales up to a full-throated emo breakdown, and “Mossblerd,” an abrasive bap that explicitly spells out Strange’s disdain for staying in one lane: “Genres keep us in our boxes.”

His songs are often concerned with being trapped, whether by a label or his circumstance of being Black in a country that does not value Black lives. He does not want to be pigeonholed into the kind of music that he can create or the type of person he can be. “To have a life you love but know you’re undeserving,” he sings during a fleeting moment of contentment on “Mustang,” before switching to bare confessional mode: “Last night I got so fucked up near lost my job/ It’s nice to think that folks are near, waking up was hard this year/ But If I didn’t move the way I did, then tell me how else could I be?”

Live Forever serves as an exploration of the many ways one could be, if only given the right opportunity. The album ends on a love song that’s afraid to commit to any one thing. “Feel ghostly bad, way beyond description,” Strange sings on it. “I feel sad, not because I miss her/ I don’t want nothing I could lose.” The act of putting yourself out there is scary, whether it’s walking out the door every day or releasing an album full of songs that take risks that not everyone will understand. The fear of failure can be crippling, but Live Forever is a testament to the power of taking chances in order to make great art.

Live Forever is out 10/2 via Memory Music. Pre-order it here.

Other albums of note out this week:
• Jónsi’s disorienting and beautiful Shiver.
• Shamir’s sharp and expressive Shamir.
• Deerhoof’s dizzying covers album Love-Lore.
• Cartalk’s explosive and promising debut Pass Like Pollen.
• Eartheater’s cascading Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin.
• Death Valley Girls’ spacey and fuzzed-out Under The Spell Of Joy.
• Slipknot leader Corey Taylor’s solo album CMFT.
• Blackpink’s The Album.
• Mariah Carey’s The Rarities.
• The Nude Party’s Midnight Manor.
• Dawes’ Good Luck With Whatever.
• Melanie C of the Spice Girls’ Melanie C.
• Aloe Blacc’s All Love Everything.
• William Shatner’s The Blues.
• Kurt Vile’s Speed, Sound, Lonely KV EP.
• Women’s Public Strain anniversary companion Rarities 2007-2010.
• Isola’s EP 1.
• Jenny Owen Youngs’ extended Night Shift EP.
• mxmtoon’s dusk EP.
• Melkbelly leader Miranda Winters’ new 7″.
• Devonté Hynes’s score for the HBO series We Are Who We Are.
• Queen & Adam Lambert’s live album Queen + Adam Live Around The World.
• Dolly Parton’s A Holly Dolly Christmas.

Fat Tony – “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

Fat Tony – “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

| September 29, 2020 – 1:34 pm

I don’t always keep up with the recorded output of Houston rapper Fat Tony, but whenever I do, I’m like, “Why don’t I keep closer tabs on Fat Tony?” Dude has been kicking out smart, funny, emotionally resonant hip-hop for the better part of a decade, and that’s set to continue with next month’s album Exotica, recorded in Jamaica and engineered by Abijah Livingston. After sharing the lo-fi synth-rap banger “Feeling Groovy” a few weeks back, he’s got a second single called “Je Ne Sais Quoi” out today.

“This beat has a certain je ne sais quoi,” Tony repeatedly proclaims in slightly zonked hoity-toity diction. “With a quality much like dust from a star.” Attempted descriptions ensue: “It’s like taking her home and removing her bra.” “Tastes like the first meal when you came home after 50 years in a cell.” “It’s like you and your boy sharing one bedroom. As the lights flicker, he shares the last piece of food/ Long day at work got you stressed and you mad/ But you come home, son says, ‘You’re the best dad’/ And it ain’t a regular thing that occurs/ It’s that motherfucker’s very first words.”

Built around an accordion sample and influenced by ’60s French pop, the beat really does have something special about it — or at least it brought out something special in Tony. Listen below along with “Feeling Groovy.”

Exotica is out 10/23 on Carpark. Pre-order it here.

Romy – “Lifetime”

Romy – “Lifetime”

| September 29, 2020 – 1:46 pm

The xx’s Romy Madley Croft has been working on her debut solo album. She announced it on Instagram Live back in April, saying that it would be a “lot more upbeat … not exactly going to be guitar music, but it’s going to be fun,” and performing a new song called “Weightless.” And today, she’s shared another track called “Lifetime,” her official debut solo single, which she recorded in London during the lockdown. She produced the track with Fred again.. and Marta Salogni. Here’s what she had to say about the track in the xx’s newsletter:

Lifetime was written and recorded in lockdown. I’ve been thinking a lot about how short life is and how quickly things can change… my intention with this song is to celebrate life, togetherness, to appreciate the moment before it’s gone.

I think subconsciously the upbeat energy of the song is a reaction to the stillness and anxiety I was feeling in lockdown. I was missing the pace of the outside world, spontaneous moments, the euphoria of dance floors, of love and connections with my friends and family. I realised when everything was stripped back, simple moments of togetherness, meant the most to me.

I’ve always loved club classics that unite a room, big emotional dance songs, that you can sing along to as well. I’m excited to have the opportunity to show my love for dance music with Lifetime.

It premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show today, and now you can listen to it below.

“Lifetime” is out now via Young Turks.

Watch Sharon Van Etten Cover Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”

Watch Sharon Van Etten Cover Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”

| September 29, 2020 – 2:07 pm

Sharon Van Etten has recorded a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” for Sounds Of Saving’s Songs That Found Me project, which was created in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to highlight important conversations about mental health and how they tie into music. Van Etten covered the track in her home studio, turning The Downward Spiral classic into a simmering glower. She had this to say about the project:

It’s hard for anyone to ask for help. But when you need it you have to learn how to do it even when its hard. In my life, when I’ve accepted help are the times when I have overcome it. I’ve found the road, ya know? It was like someone opened the gate to a road that I knew was a better road. Even if it’s a different road. At least it’s moving. And you’re moving forward to something else then this dark place alone. Wouldn’t you rather go down the road with someone you care about that wants to help you? Sometimes it does take an outside perspective for you to understand yourself better.

Watch Van Etten’s cover and hear her talk about mental health in the video below.

Sinai Vessel – “Guest In Your Life”

Sinai Vessel – “Guest In Your Life”

| September 29, 2020 – 2:36 pm

It’s been a bit since we’ve heard from Sinai Vessel, who released their most recent album, Brokenlegged, back in 2017. But today they’re announcing a new full-length, Ground Aswim, which will be out at the end of October.

After expanding to a full-band lineup with their last LP, Sinai Vessel is back to being Tennessee-based musician Caleb Cordes’ solo project, though for his new one he traveled to the Silsbee, TX studio Lazybones Audio — the home base for all things Lomelda — to record with producer Tommy Read and a crew of other musicians.

Ground Aswim’s lead single “Guest In Your Life” is pondering and warm, a reflection of the ways that little twists in life can change your whole direction. “What a strangely different story this become,” Cordes sings. “And so quiet in your hallway when we part ways.”

“‘Guest In Your Life’ was a song written while I was in a romantic partnership and processing that partnership’s hypothetical end,” Cordes wrote in a statement about the track, continuing:

It’s a song about how strange it can be to negotiate dissolving a relationship — no matter how much the two parties love and respect one another (as was the case in this partnership), there’s still a “break”, still pain and confusion in recognizing that what “is” falls short of what you imagined it could be. It’s also a song about trying to care warmly for a friend,  and trying to see one another through parsing that pain.

Listen below.

01 “Where Did You Go?”
02 “Shameplant”
03 “A Must While So Near”
04 “Fragile”
05 “George”
06 “Birdseye”
07 “Guest In Your Life”
08 “Ringing”
09 “All Days Just End”
10 “Tunneling”
11 “Antechamber”

Ground Aswim is out 10/30. Pre-order it here.

Goat Girl – “Sad Cowboy”

Goat Girl – “Sad Cowboy”

| September 29, 2020 – 3:11 pm

A couple years ago, the idiosyncratic UK four-piece Goat Girl released their promising self-titled debut album, and today they’re announcing its follow-up, which will be released next year. They once again teamed up with producer Dan Carey for the album, which is being introduced with lead single “Sad Cowboy,” which starts out as synthy and gliding and builds to something more rickety and off-kilter.

“Sad Cowboy centres around the idea of losing a grip on reality and how often this can happen,” the band’s Clottie Cream” said in a statement. “When you’re within a world that constantly makes you feel as though your living out a really bad dream, disillusionment is inevitable.”

Watch a video for the rack below.

01 “Pest”
02 “Badibaba”
03 “Jazz (In The Supermarket)”
04 “Once Again”
05 “P.T.S.Tea”
06 “Sad Cowboy”
07 “The Crack”
08 “Closing In”
09 “Anxiety Feels”
10 “They Bite On You”
11 “Bang”
12 “Where Do We Go From Here?”
13 “A-Men”

On All Fours is out 1/29 via Rough Trade Records. Pre-order it here.

Suzie True – “Bailey”

Suzie True – “Bailey”

| September 29, 2020 – 4:09 pm

Los Angeles trio Suzie True released their debut EP, Nothing To You, a couple years ago, and they’ve landed at the great Philly-based label Get Better Records, which is putting out their first full-length album, Saddest Girl At The Party, at the end of November.

Today, they’re sharing a new single called “Bailey,” a gooey track about how the right friendships can change your life. It’s an insistent bit of indie-pop, filled with warm blasts of fuzz and some overlapping harmonies. “Falling in love is just so stupid/ We swore that we’d never do it,” Lexi McCory sings on it. “I swear you’re the only one who gets me/ Everyone else makes me feel like i’m crazy.”

“This song was inspired by my friend Bailey who I met when we were in college working at a crisis center together,” the band wrote on Instagram. “They were my first friend who was openly out, and they inspired me to come out as bi to my friends and family. They still actively inspire me to be creative, kind, and the best version of myself I can be.”

Check it out below.

And here’s the album’s previous single “Toothache”:

01 “Bailey”
02 “Carmen”
03 “Toothache”
04 “Wolfman”
05 “Crushtomer”
06 “Sixteen”
07 “Not Fair”
08 “IDK U”
09 “Run”
10 “Camel Crush”
11 “Lucky”

Saddest Girl At The Party is out 11/27 via Get Better Records. Pre-order it here.

The Number Ones: USA For Africa’s “We Are The World”

The Number Ones: USA For Africa’s “We Are The World”

| September 28, 2020 – 9:13 am

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.


USA For Africa – “We Are The World”

HIT #1: April 13, 1985

STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks

Bob Dylan never has had a #1 hit. Dylan remains a pivotal cultural figure and a massively popular performer, and he’s gotten to #2 a couple of times, with 1965’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and 1966’s “Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35.” (“Like A Rolling Stone” is a 10. “Rainy Day Woman” is a 6.) In 1965, the Byrds covered Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and took it to #1. But Dylan himself has never ascended to the top spot.

Bruce Springsteen has never had a #1 hit, either. Springsteen was one of the defining pop stars of the ’80s, and he’ll presumably be back to packing people into arenas as soon as it becomes both safe and culturally acceptable to pack people into arenas. Springsteen has a ton of top-10 singles, and he’s gotten to #2 once, with 1984’s “Dancing In The Dark.” (It’s an 8.) In 1977, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered Springsteen’s “Blinded By The Light” and took it to #1. But Springsteen himself has never ascended to the top spot.

And yet Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have both appeared on a #1 single — the same #1 single. The two of them are responsible for what may be the two silliest moments on “We Are The World,” the noisy and self-congratulatory all-star singalong that became a cultural event in 1985. Dylan and Springsteen don’t make a ton of musical sense on “We Are The World.” Dylan sounds like a frog dying. Springsteen sounds like an angry man shitting out a pinecone. And yet they’re both there, both lending whatever gravitas they can muster to this ridiculous enterprise.

Lots of people are on “We Are The World.” This abundance is the prime selling point of the product — that and whatever guilt relief that record buyers earned when they spent a few bucks on a puffed-up and solemn seven-minute nothing of a song. The cast of characters on “We Are The World,” all of whom assembled into a single recording studio on a single Los Angeles night, is vast and impressive. The backup-singer chorus on “We Are The World” — the teeming mass of singers who don’t even get a chance to sing a solo line — features big stars like Smokey Robinson and Bette Midler and Lindsey Buckingham. The soloists are a parade of most of the biggest names of the day. There was so much talent in that room, and yet it’s all there to make a tranquilizing musical irritant. I’ll never understand it.

The British had the idea first. In 1984, the Boomtown Rats’ Bob Geldof and Ultravox’s Midge Ure put together a big supergroup of mostly-British singers, and they recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” an ooky but well-meaning holiday synthpop ditty. (“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” seems to imply that the hard thing about being African is that there’s no snow? And that without snow, nobody will know it’s Christmas? Weird song.) The single, released under the name Band Aid to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief, sold three million copies in the UK alone. For years, it was the biggest-selling single in UK history. (In the US, it peaked at #13.)

Around the same time, the entertainment-industry legend Harry Belafonte wanted to put together a big benefit concert for famine relief. (Belafonte has never had a single on the Hot 100, but he was at his peak in the years before Billboard started this list. Belafonte’s Calypso, for instance, was the biggest-selling album of 1956, the first year that Billboard kept track of those things.) A couple of days before Christmas 1984, Belafonte called up the high-powered manager Ken Kragen, who suggested that they try instead to come up with an all-star single like “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Kragen lined up his clients Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie first, and he got Quincy Jones to agree to produce it. Richie recruited Stevie Wonder, suggesting that the two of them write it together. Jones asked Michael Jackson if he’d do the song, and Jackson said that he wanted to sing on it and help write it. So Richie and Jackson got together at Jackson’s family’s house in Encino to write the song. (Wonder was busy.) Jackson and Richie spent a week trying to make the song as simple and memorable as possible, and then Jackson surprised both Richie and Quincy Jones with a demo for the track that he’d recorded in a single night.

Jackson and Richie finalized the “We Are The World” lyrics on the night before the recording session. They changed “we’re taking our own lives” to “we’re saving our own lives” so that it wouldn’t sound like they were talking about suicide. They changed “there’s a chance we’re taking” to “there’s a choice we’re making” so that they wouldn’t sound so egotistical.

Meanwhile, Kragen worked his way down the Hot 100, calling everyone he could find and trying to get them to agree to the project. Kragen had the idea to record the song on the same night as the American Music Awards, which were going down in Los Angeles at the end of January. That meant that a ton of stars would be in town that night, but it also meant that Kragen only had a month to get the deal done. Kragen ended up doing too well at recruiting stars; he turned away fading names like John Denver.

Kragen’s two white whales were Bruce Springsteen and Prince. After Kragen badgered Springsteen’s manager into it, Springsteen was down. Prince, on the other hand, thought that the whole thing was wack. He couldn’t see how his voice would work in that all-star cacophany. This wasn’t the way Prince operated. Sheila E., Prince’s friend and collaborator, had agreed to sing in the chorus, and she did her best to get Prince to show up. But Prince went out partying in LA that night instead. Quincy Jones had planned on Prince participating. When Prince no-showed, Huey Lewis, who’d originally been set to sing in the chorus, got bumped up to soloist.

When the stars arrived at the studio that night, they were famously met by a sign that told them to check their egos at the door. Quincy Jones may have been the only producer tough enough to keep everyone in line. Jones mapped out beforehand who would get to sing which lines and taped those lines to mic stands, and he didn’t allow for any arguments over who would sing what. In his notorious 2018 Vulture interview, Jones told a story about how Cyndi Lauper tried to start some kind of rebellion:

She had a manager come over to me and say, “The rockers don’t like the song.” I know how that shit works. We went to see Springsteen, Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, and all those cats and they said, “We love the song.” So I said [to Lauper], “OK, you can just get your shit over with and leave.” And she was fucking up every take because her necklace or bracelet was rattling in the microphone. It was just her that had a problem.

There are other fun stories from the night of the session. There’s Michael Jackson hiding in the bathroom. There’s Stevie Wonder joking that he and Ray Charles would drive everyone home if it took too long. There’s Wonder suggesting that everyone replace the nonsense syllables at the end of the song with some words in Swahili, and then there’s Waylon Jennings flat-out refusing to sing in Swahili. (They went with “one world, our children” instead.) There’s Billy Joel getting starstruck at seeing Ray Charles, and then Bob Dylan silently snubbing a gushing Al Jarreau, leaving Jarreau sobbing. (A lot of those stories are in this great Independent feature.)

Because I’m a hopeless completist doofus about things like this: Al Jarreau is one of only five soloists on “We Are The World” who never scored a #1 single of his own. Jarreau, in fact, never had a top-10 hit. His highest-charting single is 1981’s “We’re In This Love Together,” which peaked at #15. Willie Nelson’s two highest-charting singles, 1982’s “Always On My Mind” and the 1984 Julio Iglesias duet “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” both peaked at #5. (“Always On My Mind” is a 10. “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” is a 5.) As the frontman of Journey, Steve Perry’s highest-charting single is 1982’s “Open Arms,” which peaked at #2. (It’s a 7.) As a solo artist, Perry’s highest-charting single is 1984’s “Oh Sherrie,” which peaked at #3. (It’s another 7.) We’ve already been over Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

It’s fun to think about all these people getting together in the same room for the same all-night session, to imagine all the weird conversations that people must’ve had. It’s fun to think about Harry Belafonte in the chorus, beholding what he’d wrought while standing next to Dan Aykroyd, also in the chorus for some mysterious reason. It’s fun to see the weird little harmonizing pairs: Paul Simon and Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Dionne Warwick. But it’s not any fucking fun at all to listen to “We Are The World.”

“We Are The World” is a tough hang. It’s a glacial and unending seven-minute ordeal, an ongoing series of stars stepping up to deliver their most anguished and worried wails. Most of them only get a sentence or less, so they put everything they have into singing hot-air platitudes: “It’s time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all.”

The backing-band musicians on “We Are The World” are mostly the same ones who played on Michael Jackson’s Thriller — including Toto’s David Paich, a past chart-topper himself. And yet they bring none of the hard, rippling excitement that you can hear on Thriller. Instead, “We Are The World” is pure musical goo, a shiny rhythmless trudge that’s only there to melt into the background. The focus, instead, is on the singers.

Some of those singers sound pretty great. Whatever her feelings on the song, Lauper howls the absolute fuck out of her one big line, and Jackson himself is sensitively shivery on his solo moment. Some of them, like Dylan and Springsteen, sound like butt. Mostly, though, they’re just a mismatched mass, a big group of people who don’t have any chemistry with one another and who aren’t entirely certain why they’re all there. The song is a chore, and it sounds like one.

“We Are The World” is a song created with the best of intentions in mind. And it did its job. The single sold more than 20 million copies, and it topped charts around the world. There was a companion-piece album, too, and that also sold a few million. (Prince might not have participated in “We Are The World” itself, but he did donate the song “4 The Tears In Your Eyes” to the album.) There were shirts and videocassettes and various other commodities, and the whole thing brought in more than $60 million. And at least as far as I can tell, it looks like most of that money actually went to improve the lives of impoverished people — never a given when it comes to all-star charity affairs like these.

So “We Are The World” accomplished its goals. It did good in the world. USA For Africa is still an operational charity, and it still uses the proceeds from the song to help people. I’m glad. But I hate the song. I hate it so fucking much. Part of it is the song itself — a piece of music that’s both oppressively boring and catchy enough that it continues to oppressively bore me even when I’m not actively listening. But part of it is the self-indulgent nature of the whole enterprise.

I simply don’t get the idea of an initiative like this. If the artists involved in “We Are The World” — or, better yet, their record-label bosses — had donated a couple of percentage points of their annual income around that time, they probably would’ve generated even more money. But that’s not the way we do things. Instead, we make a whole spectacle out of any sort of humanitarian action, turning what could’ve been a simple fundraiser into a giant glittering moment. It grosses me out every time something like this happens.

Maybe we should judge “We Are The World” by what it did — as a collective work of humanitarian empathy, not as a piece of music or a spectacle. As a spectacle, though, it’s an uncomfortably showy display. And as a piece of music, it sucks shit.

“We Are The World” went on to win Grammys for both Record and Song Of The Year, and it pulled in trophies at all the other big awards shows too. And then there were copycats. In 1986, Ken Kragen tried to corral more big stars into raising money to combat American homelessness with the Hands Across America event, but the big stars didn’t really turn out, and the theme song peaked at #65. A bunch of Canadians — Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, John Candy — came together under the name Northern Lights for a song called “Tears Are Not Enough” than ended up on the We Are The World album. Ronnie James Dio led a crew of metal types on “Stars,” a 1986 song credited to Hear ‘N Aid. Eventually, that same impulse led to all-star rap posse cuts like 1989’s “Self Destruction” and 1990’s “We’re All In The Same Gang.”

My favorite of those all-star charity songs, both aesthetically and philosophically, is “Sun City,” the 1985 song written and organized by the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt. The song protested against South African apartheid, and it made a rallying cry out of refusing to play the South African resort that sometimes booked big stars. “Sun City” had Springsteen and Run-DMC and Joey Ramone and Gil Scott-Heron and Jimmy Cliff and Melle Mel and Bob Dylan and Bono and Bobby Womack and Bonnie Raitt and a lot of other people. Cool lineup! Pretty good song! But compared to “We Are The World,” “Sun City” was a flop, peaking at #38. (On the other hand, African poverty still exists, but South African apartheid doesn’t. So maybe “Sun City” was more successful.)

In 2010, a whole mess of newer superstars came together to raise money for the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake there. They assembled at the same studio for a new version of “We Are The World,” and it was even longer and possibly even more uncomfortable. Crash auteur Paul Haggis directed the video. There was rapping. This new “We Are The World” was, if possible, even more of a well-intentioned mess than the original. “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” peaked at #2. (It’s a 1.)

This year, Lionel Richie talked about doing another version of “We Are The World” for COVID-19 relief. It hasn’t happened, but it did inspire me to write this dumb shit. Unless that version of “We Are The World” comes out — or some other version of the song happens for some other reason — then USA For Africa won’t be in this column again. But Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, James Ingram, Billy Joel, Dionne Warwick, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, and Bette Midler all will.

GRADE: 1/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s the absolutely savage “We Are The World” parody that In Living Color aired in 1992:

(Jamie Foxx, who plays Lionel Richie in the In Living Color sketch and who would later act as the concerned presenter of the “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” video, will eventually appear in this column as a guest. As lead artist, Jamie Foxx’s highest-charting single is the 2009 T-Pain collab “Blame It,” which peaked at #2. It’s an 8.)

BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Master P starting out his 1992 track “Psycho Rhymes” with a “We Are The World” parody:

(Master P’s two highest-charting singles as lead artist, 1998’s “I Got The Hook Up!” and “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!,” both peaked at #16. As a guest-rapper, P’s highest-charting single is Montell Jordan’s “Let’s Ride,” which peaked at #2 in 1998. It’s a 7.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Apparently, 1992 is the year that the world finally turned on “We Are The World.” Here’s the classic riff on the whole celebrity-singalong industrial complex that was part of a great 1992 Simpsons episode:

(As a solo artist, Sting will eventually appear in this column.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Mitch Hedberg using “We Are The World” in a classic stand-up bit on his 2003 album Strategic Grill Locations:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Jimmy Kimmel working a “We Are The World” parody into his viral 2009 bit “Fucking Ben Affleck”:

(I’m not going to get into the highest-charting single of every single motherfucker on “Fucking Ben Affleck,” but Huey Lewis and Meat Loaf will eventually appear in this column. As a member of *NSYNC, Lance Bass will be in here, too.)

THE 10S: Bruce Springsteen’s painfully horny synth-rockabilly slow-burn “I’m On Fire” peaked at #6 behind “We Are The World.” It cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my skull, and it’s a 10.

Watch Members Of Mastodon, Cave In, & Russian Circles Cover Alice In Chains’ “Rain When I Die”

Watch Members Of Mastodon, Cave In, & Russian Circles Cover Alice In Chains’ “Rain When I Die”

| September 28, 2020 – 10:15 am

Two Minutes To Late Night hath returned! During quarantine, the great video series features the comedian Jordan Olds getting together musicians from the interconnected worlds of metal, punk, and hardcore to cover classic songs. Last week, the series took a rare week off. (Olds explained that all the fires on the West Coast were making it hard for musicians out there to participate.) But this week, the series returns, following up tributes to Billy Idol and Robyn and Fleetwood Mac with a salute to Alice In Chains.

Maybe it’s a reflection of some grim and depressing times, but we’ve been seeing a lot of Alice In Chains covers lately, especially from the heavy-music world. In recent months, we’ve posted AIC covers from Code Orange and Thou, and Magnetic Eye just released Dirt (Redux), a cover compilation in which metal bands take on every song from AIC’d bleak 1992 grunge classic Dirt. For their part, the participants in this week’s Two Minutes To Late Night have taken on “Rain When I Die,” quite possibly the heaviest deep cut from Dirt.

In this week’s video, Mastodon’s Brann Dailor plays drums, and he also shares lead-vocal duties with Justin Suitor, of the LA band Painted Wives. Cave In/Mutoid Man frontman Stephen Brodsky does some heroic guitar shredding, and Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan does some heavy riffing. In his Gwarsenio Hall persona, Jordan Olds plays bass. They’ve captured the gut-churning heaviness of the original, and you can watch it and listen to the Alice In Chains track below.

Check out the Two Minutes To Late Night Patreon here.

Idle Hands Changing Name Due To Trademark Law

Idle Hands Changing Name Due To Trademark Law

| September 28, 2020 – 12:58 pm

The Portland metal band Idle Hands, who we named one of the Best New Bands based on last year’s Mana, have announced that they are changing their name due to trademark law. “We are no longer able to perform or record music under the name IDLE HANDS,” bandleader Gabriel Franco wrote in an email newsletter. “We have done everything in our power to retain the name but we can not. While regrettable, these things happen.”

It’s unclear which trademark Idle Hands were deemed to have been violating, though there are a few existing trademarks for the name. We’ve reached out to the band’s representatives for clarification.

For now, the band are selling their remaining merchandise with the Idle Hands name at reduced prices.

The band say that they will announce a new name soon. Suggestions?

Due to US trademark law, we are no longer able to perform or record music under the name IDLE HANDS.

Subsequently, we are liquidating almost all Idle Hands merchandise at extremely reduced prices until sold out

— IDLE HANDS (@idlehandspdx) September 28, 2020

The band released an expanded edition of their 2017 EP Don’t Waste Your Time a few months ago.

Deerhoof Cover 43 Songs In 35 Minutes On Free Surprise Album Love-Lore

Deerhoof Cover 43 Songs In 35 Minutes On Free Surprise Album Love-Lore

| September 28, 2020 – 4:00 pm

Deerhoof have released a dizzying new covers album called Love-Lore that finds the art-rock band covering 43 songs over the course of 35 minutes. The album is available now as a free download over on Deerhoof’s website. It comes on the heels of the band’s latest original album, Future Teenage Cave Artists, which came out in May. They previously reimagined popular culture in their own unique way on 2018’s Deerhoof Plays The Music Of The Shining.

Love-Lore features renditions of songs by Ornette Coleman, the Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, Igor Stravinsky, Ennio Morricone, the Police, Sun Ra, Parliament, John Williams, the Beach Boys, Voivod, Silver Apples, Kraftwerk, the B-52s, Dionne Warwick, and many more, and they’re all mangled together like a more analog Girl Talk.

Check out the album and a list of all the songs covered below.

Here’s the tracklist:


Love-Lore is available now on Deerhoof’s website via Joyful Noise Recordings. A limited edition poster of the artwork, which was done by the band’s Satomi Matsuzaki, is also up for order.

Lil Yachty Arrested For Driving 150+ MPH

Lil Yachty Arrested For Driving 150+ MPH

| September 28, 2020 – 6:04 pm

CREDIT: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Revolt

Lil Yachty was recently arrested for driving more than 150 MPH on an Atlanta interstate, as local news station WSB-TV reports. The arrest happened last week on 9/21. Yachty was pulled over driving a white Ferrari and taken to jail, where he was charged with reckless driving and speeding in excess of maximum limits.

Shortly after reports emerged about his arrest, the rapper posted an Instagram captioned “I’m not in jail.”

View this post on Instagram

I’m not in jail

A post shared by ^CONCRETE BOY BOAT^ (@lilyachty) on Sep 28, 2020 at 2:07pm PDT

Back in June, Yachty crashed a red Ferrari on the same interstate in Atlanta after losing control while reportedly speeding on a wet road. He was, thankfully, not seriously injured and did not hurt anyone else. He shared pictures of the wreck on Twitter:


— stealth level boat (@lilyachty) June 23, 2020

Tyler, The Creator Will Vote For The First Time And Wants You To Join Him

Tyler, The Creator Will Vote For The First Time And Wants You To Join Him

| September 28, 2020 – 7:12 pm

We knew Tyler, The Creator was evolving, but it turns out the man is a full-blown responsible adult! We’ve already seen the one-time Odd Future ringleader welcomed into the halls of prestige with Grammys and other awards from the likes of Kodak and the Wall Street Journal. Recently he spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying he didn’t mind damage to his GOLF store in LA during the turmoil over George Floyd’s death. Now he’s gone and published a DIY voting PSA direct to Twitter.

In the video message, Tyler says he’s voting this year for the first time and urges his followers to do the same — at polling stations, specifically, rather than mailing in a ballot and risking some kind of foul play. “I didn’t give a fuck about none of this shit, just like a lot of y’all,” he says. “This is actually going to be my first time voting. But I see the light.”

Read Tyler’s full message below.

Look, I know I’m the last person y’all should ever take advice from, but I’m reiterating what everyone else is saying. And please, please if you are young and your fuckin’ back don’t hurt, go to them polls and cast a fucking vote. And I didn’t give a fuck about none of this shit, just like a lot of y’all. This is actually going to be my first time voting. But I see the light. And a lot of y’all gonna be like, “My vote doesn’t matter and they’re gonna pick who they want.” Yeah, you weird-ass nigga, keep that up. Y’all was postin’ black squares and protestin’ from y’all phone and “rights” this and cancellin’ everybody. Nigga, pull up! Y’all want a new DA? Pull up! Y’all want all these rights and shit then fuckin’ pull up! The shit that I actually give a fuck about is more art in schools and more music classes in schools and then changing the curriculum. They’ve had the same curriculum since, fuck, since 1442, judging everybody on the same shit. And I have female friends who need certain things. And I like being able to fuck on and marry whoever the fuck I want at any given moment. And if we want to keep some of those options, then we have to start somewhere. And I’m not a fuckin’ encyclopedia on this shit, but I know one goddamn thing, that if y’all want any of that, then y’all know what you need to do. Y’all niggas gotta pull up! Actually go to the polls! ‘Cause some of that mail-in shit, niggas gonna try to call fraud, so if you can go to the polls — and I know them lines gon’ be long and it’s gon’ be hot, but please, do that. Alright? It’s hot as fuck, and this was like my third take of this video, and yes: Love.

We’re a long way from “Kill people, burn shit fuck school!”

— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) September 28, 2020

Jeezy To Host Talk Show Worth A Conversation With Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins

Jeezy To Host Talk Show Worth A Conversation With Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins

| September 28, 2020 – 8:31 pm

Today is Jeezy’s 43rd birthday. Happy birthday Jeezy! You’re still Young to me!

To mark the occasion, the Black-focused streaming channel FOX Soul has announced that the Atlanta rap veteran will be launching his own talk show. Worth A Conversation With Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins — yes, he seems to be attempting a Dwayne Johnson-like pivot to his government name — is set to premiere on Oct. 14 at 10PM ET. He joins fellow music star Keyshia Cole, whose own talk show One On One With Keyshia Cole also airs on FOX Soul. As Rap-Up points out, Worth A Conversation will welcome guests to discuss topics important to the Black community including social issues, politics, entertainment, and sports. Presumably these discussions will be punctuated by some of the best ad libs ever.

Jeezy’s official statement on the series:

It has been my passion and my drive to inspire, motivate and educate my culture. Every song I’ve ever written, every word I’ve uttered came from a real place and this is no different. Worth A Conversation is self explanatory. I will talk about issues that directly affect my culture and it’s people. From the front porch conversations to real life situations, Worth A Conversation is bridging the gap. I’m excited to be a part of the FOX Soul family and can’t wait to introduce you to Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins.

Despite the foray into TV, Jeezy has not stopped making music. He recently announced a sequel to his 2008 album The Recession.

Morgan Freeman Announces New 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode 2

Morgan Freeman Announces New 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode 2

| September 28, 2020 – 9:24 pm

CREDIT: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET

21 Savage became a star largely on the strength of Savage Mode, his 2016 team-up with trap super-producer Metro Boomin. It was a hell of a project, so it pleases me to report that the duo has just announced Savage Mode 2 for release this Friday. I am even more pleased to inform you that the trailer is narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.

In director Gibson Hazard’s clip, Freeman reads the following script: “Savage is defined as fierce, beastly, and untamed. Mode is defined as a way of operating or using a system. So to be in savage mode is to go hard, not allowing anything to stop or deter you from your mission. Basically, this means when someone’s in savage mode, they are not to be fucked with.”

Even though 21’s life has thoroughly refuted the premise that he has “No Heart,” this is phenomenal news. We’ve been hurting for a new 21 Savage project for a long time — he hasn’t released anything besides features for other artists since he was arrested by ICE and threatened with deportation in early 2019. I just heard “A Lot” on the radio not two hours ago and thought, damn, I sure could use some new 21 Savage in my life right now. Lo and behold, it’s going down.

Watch the Savage Mode 2 trailer below.

Savage Mode 2 is out 10/2 on Epic.