Monday, 12 March 2012

Lady Gaga Collaborator Jonas Akerlund Expects 'Great' Things From Her

'She can probably do anything she wants,' 'Paparazzi' and 'Telephone' director tells us at SXSW.
By Kara Warner

Lady Gaga
Photo: Kevin Mazur/ WireImage

After the mostly positive reviews of Lady Gaga's first music-video directorial effort on "Marry the Night". It's fair to assume that we fans can expect more Gaga-directed clips in the near future.

When MTV News caught up with her "Paparazzi" and "Telephone" director Jonas Åkerlund recently during his SXSW appearance for his new ensemble dark comedy "Small Apartments," we asked him for his thoughts on Gaga's future as a director, should she choose to direct all of her videos from here on out.

"She can probably do anything she wants," he said. "So that's probably going to be great."

And would Åkerlund make himself available for advice, should Gaga ever be in need of it?

"Of course. I would never turn her down," he said, at which point his "Apartments" star and funnyman Matt Lucas ("Bridesmaids") asked a question of his own.

"Is her real name Lady Gaga?"

"Yes," Åkerlund answered with a smile.

"Wow," Lucas responded with astonishment. "There's a fact for you MTV fans."

Although Åkerlund didn't mention any more work with Gaga at this time, the busy director is still fully in the mix of the world of music videos.

"I may do a couple music videos and I've done quite a few since 'Small Apartments,' actually. The last one I did was a Duran Duran video, but there's a few coming up too."

"Are you going to do the Osmonds video?" Lucas asked cheekily. "That's what they're asking."

"Maybe," Åkerlund responded, playing along with Lucas' joke. "I'm hoping to."

For her part, Gaga has said that she's always been heavily involved in the creative processes behind all her work, including the direction of her music videos.

"I know it's my directorial debut, but I've really created everything I've ever done in my career," she said. "I really didn't do anything differently on this video that I didn't do on the 'Telephone' video or the 'Paparazzi' video or the 'Bad Romance' video. I hope my fans will take from this the progression that you have to trust yourself to make mistakes."

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Heather Morris In Nude Photo Controversy

'Glee' star has yet to comment on photos that hit the Web over the weekend.
By Jocelyn Vena

Heather Morris
Photo: Getty Images

"Glee" star Heather Morris finds herself in the thick of a nude photo scandal. Reported photos of the former backup dancer hit the Web over the weekend.

In the photos, the actress/dancer is wearing nothing as she poses quite provocatively in what appears to be a bedroom. There are less scandalous shots that also were leaked in the batch, and they feature Morris in a "Slave 4 U" costume she once donned on the hit Fox show. The actress has yet to comment on the shots.

It's hardly the first time she's had naked photos hit the Internet. In 2010, nude modeling shots of her appeared online, but the actress said she wasn't ashamed in an interview with "Extra." "No, I kind of thought it might happen," she said at the time. "I understand completely where it came from. For me, I think they are beautiful. It's not something I'm ashamed of. Everybody should do tasteful beautiful nudes — so when you get older, you're gonna be like, 'Oh that's when my body looked so great!'

The news of her photo leak comes just days after both Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks were reportedly hacked and nude photos of them appeared online. Munn addressed the controversy in a statement over the weekend.

Read aloud by her "The Babymakers" director Jay Chandrasekhar during South by Southwest film festival, she laughed off all the Internet rumors about the shots. "Oh, and one last thing — Some of those pictures weren't even me," the statement read, according to E! News. "I mean, you can't even see my penis ... and it's pretty big for an Asian. Sheesh."


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Exclusive 'Hunger Games' Clip: Peeta's Interview With Caesar

Don't miss the 'Hunger Games' red-carpet premiere tonight at 8:30, streaming live from MTV News!
By Kevin P. Sullivan, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Josh Hutcherson in "The Hunger Games"
Photo: Lionsgate

As the countdown to "The Hunger Games" grows shorter and shorter, fans have been craving as much of the tributes as they can possibly get. Luckily, we have a brand-new exclusive clip from the upcoming movie.

Soon after they are chosen for the games, the tributes from District 12, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), go through the public relations wringer, including a broadcast interview with the eccentric TV personality Caesar Flickerman, played by a very blue-haired Stanley Tucci.

In this exclusive clip, Peeta sits down to answer a few personal questions from Caesar before heading into the arena.

Similarly, the cast and crew of "The Hunger Games" will have to face the judgments of the diehard fans of the book, when the film finally comes out on March 23. MTV News' Josh Horowitz spoke with Lawrence about her reaction to seeing the finished film and how fans have treated her during the lead-up.

"It was really good. It didn't surprise me, which was good. During filming, I really liked everything what I was seeing. I liked everything that Gary was doing. Then I saw it, and it was all there," Lawrence said. "It's always hard for me watching because I think I am a horrible troll and I'll never work again. Overall, I think everybody else in the movie is fantastic, and I think the film itself is really good."

Life has changed significantly for Lawrence since scoring the highly coveted role, not for the better in some cases. "I get photographers hiding in my bushes," she said. "We're way past autographs. We're into being stalked and followed."

Other than the paparazzi, the response has been generally more positive for Lawrence. "Everyone's been really nice fortunately. I mean, the movie's not out yet, so we'll see."

MTV News goes live from the "Hunger Games" red-carpet premiere tonight! Tune into our live stream from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET as Josh Horowitz catches up with the stars and asks fans' burning questions!

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Rachel Crow Wants Eminem On Her Nickelodeon Show

'X Factor' alum tells MTV News her Nick pilot will be 'really Rachel.'
By Christina Garibaldi

Rachel Crow
Photo: MTV News

Rachel Crow, the pint-size cutie who won over America on "The X Factor" and made a lasting impression with her heartbreaking elimination, may have come out of the singing competition a winner after all. Just last month, Crow not only landed a recording contract with Columbia Records, but also signed an overall talent deal with Nickelodeon to star in her own musical-comedy pilot.

MTV News caught up with Crow on the set of the Nick series "Fred: The Show," where she will be a series regular as the character Starr.

"My head was exploding when I couldn't tell anyone," Crow said about her new projects. "I kept telling people, 'Oh, stuff will be coming out soon,' and then it kept getting pushed back, pushed back, and I was like, 'People are gonna think I'm lying!' But I'm so happy I can tell everyone about it now. I'm really excited."

Crow, who finished in fifth place on "X Factor," has not yet started filming her own series but promises it will be a true representation of her personality.

"I've been thinking about it. We're kind of in the first stages of deciding what it's gonna be now," Crow said. "But it'll be really fun, really Rachel. We'll see how it goes. I'm still thinking about it, something really fun and something that kids can relate to."

In addition to staying true to herself, she's also hoping to reach an audience that may not be too familiar with her: the boys.

"I want to reach the boy audience, because I know that's really hard to do," Crow admitted. "Boys don't usually watch a really girly show, but I want to make sure that it's a family-oriented, very fun, edgy, wacky show."

And to get that edgy twist she is looking for, she already has some dream guest stars in mind.

"I've always wanted to sing with Eminem. I know, it's really weird. I really love him," Crow said. "I would really love for ['Fred: The Show' star] Lucas [Cruikshank] to be on my show, a lot of the Nickelodeon stars. I'm still super excited, I can't even believe what's happening."

Are you excited for Rachel Crow's Nickelodeon show? Let us know in the comments!

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Poem of the week: Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

The meditative sombreness of this 'Tintern Abbey' precursor reflects the growing authority of Wordsworth's early maturity

This week's poem, "Lines Written in Early Spring", has all the simplicity of diction advocated by the two radical young poets, Wordsworth and Coleridge, when they collaborated on Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth's poem is a pastoral, with some distinctly rustic qualities. But the meditative tone we associate with his later or larger-scale works is present too.

It was composed in the year the first edition of Lyrical Ballads was published, 1798, and its sombreness reflects the personal and political disappointments pressing on Wordsworth in his early maturity. In the more substantial and densely argued "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey", which appears in the same collection and was completed a few months after "Lines Written in Early Spring", there's a famous passage that seems to refine the argument of the earlier poem: "For I have learnt / To look on nature not as in the hour / Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes / The still, sad music of humanity".

In "Lines Written in Early Spring", nature and mankind are linked but stand for contrasting modes of being. "Tintern Abbey" works its way through self-doubt to a triumphant resolution. "Lines Written in Early Spring" leaves the situation unresolved. If it's a sketch for "Tintern Abbey", it's one of those sketches made by a great master, minor in scale, less profound than the finished painting but with an allure of its own, part of which is a space left open for interpretation.

The onomatopoeia of the first line is subtle. There's a diversity of vowel sounds and a choice cluster of consonants in the lovely phrase "a thousand blended notes". We're not brought into the midst of "all the birds/ Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire", true, but we hear the birdsong faintly all the same, like the memory of a memory. Otherwise, Wordsworth's scene-setting is spare. It's the mental state provoked by his thoughts that interests him. The reader enters two parallel imaginative worlds, one mimetic and clear, the other indistinct. The poet generalises fearlessly: "pleasant thoughts" invite "sad thoughts", and the whole constitutes a "sweet mood". Perhaps the enjoyed sadness has an erotic quality (is there an echo of "parting is such sweet sorrow"?). The reader, at any rate, is expected to know the kind of mood the poet means.

The sadness will take a more serious turn in line eight. Meanwhile, the originality in the next stanza first appears in the idea of the soul as an active force, implied by the stroke of metaphorical genius in the final verb: "To her fair works did nature link / The human soul that through me ran". The soul is not some static entity: it runs, like blood, rivers, an electrical current. This leads us swiftly to the crux of "what man has made of man". As an aphorism, the phrase has authority. It may not be specific, but it feels undeniable. The raison d'�tre of Lyrical Ballads was a poetry that used the language of "a man speaking to men". This is a chilly echo of those words. All the negative connotations of "man-made" cling to it, and the reflexive grammar forms an inescapable knot. We have gone wrong; worse, we have wronged ourselves.

The next three stanzas picture nature's various "fair works". The growing insistence of the poem on pleasure is remarkable. In stanza one we had the speaker's "pleasant thoughts", and now the pleasure is nature's ? or so the poet believes. "And 'tis my faith that every flower / Enjoys the air it breathes", he says, and later he seems to emerge from a still more conscious battle between reason and instinct: "And I must think, do all I can, / That there was pleasure there". In acknowledging the subjectivity of his interpretation when he senses the pleasure a leaf takes in opening and feeling the spring breeze, he seems to leave a space for doubt, even while asserting his faith.

As Pamela Woof points out, Wordsworth's mind is flexible: like Keats, he possesses "negative capability" and can live with uncertainties and ambiguities. However, for the moral purpose of this poem, it's necessary to set up positive against negative. The poem's core is solid and bright, with the simple flora and fauna whose regeneration brings us (and it?) such pleasure. Their opposite, the destructive human forces, are compacted into that bare, three-beat refrain line, which first appears at the end of stanza two and reappears to end the poem. Almost any of the humble characters featured in the narratives of Lyrical Ballads could have expressed, if less gracefully, a similar thought. It seems to contain the small hoard of wisdom that belongs to people, whether poets or peasants, who have been uprooted from the natural world. Perhaps the key word in the phrase "what man has made of man" is "made". Factories, mines and mills are spreading the sooty sores of manufacture over English fields and groves. But the Romantic movement would not have been born without them.

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:-
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man? © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Behind the music: Why it's worth taking Eurovision seriously

In Sweden, the race to decide each year's entry is taken so seriously that the hint of a fix causes outrage. The UK could benefit from the same commitment to encouraging new artists

Swedish National Television ? Sweden's equivalent to the BBC ? recently screened an expose on the Swedish competition to find a Eurovision entry. The core accusation was that the producer of the show was able to influence which songs and artists would be entered in the regional competitions ? and he tended to favour professional songwriters and known artists. Participants in the show declared this just wasn't fair, as each submission should be considered on the quality of the song. What would they have said about the UK's "selection process"?

Last week the BBC announced it had chosen 75-year-old crooner Engelbert Humperdinck to represent the UK in Eurovision 2012. It said the song he would perform was to be written by Martin Terefe ? the Grammy-winning producer behind Jason Mraz's I'm Yours and Train's Soul Sister ? and Sacha Skarbek ? who writes and produces for Adele, Lana Del Rey, and co-wrote James Blunt's You're Beautiful).

I'm Swedish and Melodifestivalen (the Swedish tryouts for Eurovision) has been part of Sweden's cultural fabric ever since Abba won in 1974. In the 90s it experienced a bit of a slump, but for the past decade much of the Swedish music scene has been dominated by the local competitions. For six weeks before the European final, tryouts around the country are televised in a primetime Saturday night slot, with more than a third of the population watching. Both new and established artists ? even serious actors ? take part (imagine Jarvis Cocker and Ewan McGregor competing with Dappy to represent the UK).

Swedish songwriters and producers have experienced huge international success in the last couple of decades. Max Martin, RedOne (who's actually Moroccan, but launched his career in Sweden), Shellback, Jorgen Elofsson, Swedish House Mafia and many more have contributed to the global charts so heavily that rarely a week goes by without a song written by a Swede entering the top 10 somewhere in the world. Eurovision is no exception to the Swedish invasion. The old rules that required composers of entered songs to come from the country they represented have loosened, and now Swedish writers are responsible for songs for Russia, Ireland, Spain, Romania and Norway. Last year's winner was co-written by a Swede, and Terefe, who is writing Humperdinck's song, is Swedish.

Eurovision is largely viewed as a joke in Britain ? a reason to laugh at our European neighbours ? but maybe Swedes are on to something. Opportunities for British artists to perform on mainstream television have disappeared since the demise of shows such as Top of the Pops. Apart from Later ? With Jools Holland, all we have are talk shows, which usually only feature one established major label artist per show, and The X Factor, which features big stars and contestants singing covers. A show like Sweden's Melodifestival could be a real shot in the arm for new music.

Britain is responsible for 12% of the world's music market and has an incredible music heritage, so why can't we send something more interesting to this year's contest in Azerbaijan? Who cares if we win or not, or if, as Terry Wogan claimed, eastern Europeans vote for each other. Any opportunity to expose new artists to an audience of millions (in the case of the Eurovision final, hundreds of millions), singing newly composed music should be taken. Who knows: maybe the opporutnities granted by Eurovision have played a part in the Swedish music phenomenon, way beyond Abba's win with Waterloo, almost 40 years ago. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Anderson Cooper Lists Modern Penthouse Pad

SELLER: Anderson Cooper
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $3,750,000
SIZE: 3,100 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Now that he's just about finished refurbishing an historic, huge, and oh-so-manly decommissioned firehouse in New York City's Greenwich Village, (sometimes giggly) CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper has pushed his very contemporary Midtown Manhattan duplex penthouse on the market with an asking price of $3,750,000.

Property records and previous reports show fortunately-born and well-educated Mister Cooper?the son of American heiress and designer jeans pioneer Gloria Vanderbilt, in case you didn't know?picked up his Midtown co-operative crib in early 2005 when he paid $2,480,000 for what was then just a half-floor simplex loft-style apartment with exclusive rights to develop the building's roof for private use. The globe trotting journalist quickly hired the smart, accomplished, and minimal-minded architects at workshop/apd to reconfigure everything, blow out the roof, add a 1,000-plus square foot second floor, and create pair of roof terraces that total, according to listing information, about 1,700 square feet.

The result, according to listing information, is a sleek, restrained, and sparely but luxuriously finished loft-like apartment of  about 3,100 square feet and currently configured with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. A quick study of the floor plan shows a somewhat unconventional layout with the main entry and bedrooms located on the lower level and the more "formal" living/entertaining areas and kitchen situated on an upper level accessed via a thrilling, floating staircase fashioned from accordion-folded steel.

A living/family room with built-in entertainment cabinetry that holds and hides a giant flat screen tee-vee sits in between the two bedrooms on the lower level. A series of frosted glass panels at the north end of the living/family slide open to reveal a spacious guest suite with a wall of over-sized windows, built-in wardrobes that flank an entertainment center cabinet with flat screen tee-vee, and an attached bathroom with full wall of frosted glass that allow light to filter in from the nearby window(s) but sill allow users a modicum of privacy.

A raised den/library nook just off the entry lined with paper thin steel book shelves (already emptied of any books that may have been there when Mister Cooper occupied the premises) connects to the compact but well-equipped master suite complete with closet-lined dressing room, petite bedroom with double-wide fireplace, a row of south facing windows and attached bathroom with swank finishes that include split-faced diamond grey limestone, slattedteak floors, dark chocolate-colored stainless steel accents, acid-etched glass partitions and shower enclosure, and and old-timey (and totally unexpected) claw-footed soaking tub.

The floating steel staircase leads up to a the second level living/entertainment areas comprised of an open plan living area (with fireplace) and window-lined dining area. Around the corner but open to the living and dining areas, the Euro-sleek center island kitchen offers top-grade stainless steel and integrated appliances, Caesarstone counter-tops, a large sky light, and a single glass door that opens to the lower level, wrap-around terrace. The lower level terrace, also accessible from the living room area of the upper floor, has a gas grill and metal and ipe wood stair case that ascends to a second, fully-landscaped roof terrace that wraps around a classic Manhattan water tower and includes decked walkways, wood planters and planter boxes, and at least two patches of grass that Mister Cooper's pooch Molly most certainly appreciated. Yes, puppies, there are actual lawns on the roof of this Manhattan apartment building.

Additional super-luxe amenities, according to listing information, include state-of-the-art surround sound and lighting systems, radiant heated floors, 7-inch wide aged, smoked Chambord oak floors, steel and a variety of acid etched glass panels. The 12-floor, 30-unit boutique building offers residents video security?which probably means no door man?and a full-time super to sweep the halls and haul the trash cans in and out. Listing information indicates Mister Cooper's penthouse condo carries monthly maintenance and common charges that total $3,184.

Previous to his duplex penthouse Mister Cooper owned an approximately 2,000 square foot, third-floor loft apartment in the same building that he had worked over by the folks at workshop/apd and sold in January 2006 for $1,580,000 to a couple of gays who flipped the 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom apartment about 1.5 years later for $1,775,000.

Since at least the late 1990s, in addition to his urban nest Mister Cooper has maintained a 3-plus acre waterfront retreat in the little-known Hamptons community of Quiogue (NY). Last year the buff and hairless silver fox dropped $1,700,000 to expand his Quantuck Bay spread to include an additional 2.4 acres with a classic, 1940s Cape Cod-style shingled cottage.

listing photos and floor plan: Prudential Douglas Elliman


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Write for us about: Girls Aloud

What's your favourite Girls Aloud single? Tell us in this week's readers' panel

The most exciting pop news this week is that Girls Aloud are back.

You didn't know they'd gone away? Well, they had. The group went on hiatus in 2009, initially for a year, but that was extended as the fab five pursued solo projects, with varying degrees of success.

Speaking last week, Nadine Coyle confirmed that the Girls will be reuniting for a 2013 arena tour, releasing "one or two singles" to mark their 10th anniversary.

To celebrate the news, we're taking on Girls Aloud as the subject of this week's readers' panel. If you'd like to take part, write a brief (no more than 150 words) review of your favourite Girls Aloud single by 11pm Thursday 8 March, and email it to We'll be publishing a selection of the best reviews on Friday. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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BBC's The Voice aims to overpower Britain's Got Talent

BBC battles to win Saturday night viewers from ITV by investing �25m in talent show in which auditions are done 'blind'

It is billed as a unique take on the TV talent show, but BBC1's The Voice has proved controversial even before it has begun. From the creator of Big Brother, with a budget of �25m over two years, the singing contest has already become so important that the reputation of the BBC1 controller, Danny Cohen, is on the line.

But it faces the most difficult possible start, after ITV and Simon Cowell decided to greet its arrival by bringing forward the Easter juggernaut Britain's Got Talent by a month so the two could go head to head.

With a line-up of judges intended to appeal to all ages ? including the 23-year-old Jessie J;, 36; and Sir Tom Jones, aged 71 ? The Voice differs from its rivals because the auditions are done "blind". Jones and his fellow panellists ? or "coaches", in the parlance of the show ? get to see what the singers look like only after they are chosen.

The BBC and ITV have blamed each other for the 24 March scheduling clash; it remains to be seen which show will suffer most as a result.

Cohen played down expectations at the programme's launch. "Of course I would love it to be a mega hit overnight but I am very conscious of the fact that these shows tend to build over time," he said.

"Whether it's Strictly [Come Dancing] or the X Factor, they build and build. We are in this for at least two years, and we are waiting for it to grow rather than explode straight away."

ITV has already got its criticism in early. Its chief executive, Adam Crozier, described The Voice as "derivative", complaining that Cohen was spending licence fee-payers' money on a show that a commercial broadcaster could have aired. (Cohen flew to Holland at an hour's notice in order to beat ITV to the rights.)

Cohen said he was keen to avoid a clash with Britain's Got Talent, but some sort of overlap was inevitable with a spring launch; the ITV show having launched in April every year since 2008.

The last series of Cowell's show was a shadow of previous years, with a lacklustre panel featuring Michael McIntyre and David Hasselhoff. But it was still one of the most popular shows of 2011 and will return with a rejuvenated judging line-up including David Walliams, former Strictly judge Alesha Dixon and Cowell (pictured right) himself.

The Radio Times editor, Ben Preston, said: "It's going to be one of the biggest television stories of the year because it's already being painted in very personal terms: Simon Cowell versus Danny Cohen.

"There's a lot at stake. Simon Cowell is back and itching for a fight ? snatching judges, leaning on schedulers ? but he's getting fidgety. Is he nervous?

"Now you've got a talented new BBC1 controller who's desperate to launch his own big entertainment show; he's gone out and found one, backed it, and is very ambitious for it."

Preston added: "It's always going to be a gamble for the BBC. You can win the viewers, but the PR battle is harder still ? If The Voice does brilliantly, then there'll be people who ask if the show's distinctive and accuse the BBC of sacrificing public service. And if it doesn't do well, they will say it's a waste of licence-payers' money. There's a lot riding on it."

BBC1 needs a new "shiny floor" entertainment show after So You Think You Can Dance ? another bought-in talent format that was big in the US ? was axed last year. Its run of Andrew Lloyd Webber-inspired West End talent hunts ran out of steam and the theatre impresario has taken his latest project, to fill the lead role of Jesus Christ Superstar, to ITV.

"Saturday night entertainment on the BBC is really important to viewers," said Cohen. "We've seen that with Strictly, Let's Dance [for Sport Relief] at the moment. They are always high-risk shows, you always want them to be big and ambitious. What you need them to do is offer something for all the family."

BBC Radio 1 chart show presenter Reggie Yates, who will host The Voice with Holly Willoughby, was keen to play up the musical credentials of the panel, which also includes the Script frontman Danny O'Donoghue. Pop Idol winner Will Young was due to be involved, but was reportedly turned down at the 11th hour.

"This isn't a joke, this is very serious. It is very real and authentic and you have got people who are credible," said Yates.

Contestants include Sean Conlon, a former singer with boyband Five, and 34-year-old Toni Warne from Great Yarmouth who has had alopecia since she was a child. With the judges unable to see her first performance, she said she was "looking forward to walking on the stage and being me for the first time ever".

But with the bar set high for the singers, the programme risks missing out on the publicity generated by less talented contestants such as Wagner on The X Factor and Ann Widdecombe on Strictly Come Dancing.

The winner of The Voice will sign a deal with Universal Music, a rival to Simon Cowell's Syco Music. But while the show makes much play of its blind auditions, panellist Jessie J said image remained important.

"You can talk about music and passion and stuff but you have to know how to hold a microphone, you have to know how to accentuate certain parts of your body to look nice," said the London-born singer songwriter, whose hits include Do It Like A Dude. "But what the show is saying is that the voice is the first thing and everything else stems from that."

And she had a warning about the price of fame: "Celebrity is something that picks you, you don't choose that. You know what's crazy is that what I had for dinner makes the news. At the end of the day when you step into this industry you have to take on that.

"I didn't get signed [to Universal] to tell people what I had for dinner or what underwear I'm wearing. I tell them about the music." © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Write for us about: Girls Aloud

What's your favourite Girls Aloud single? Tell us in this week's readers' panel

The most exciting pop news this week is that Girls Aloud are back.

You didn't know they'd gone away? Well, they had. The group went on hiatus in 2009, initially for a year, but that was extended as the fab five pursued solo projects, with varying degrees of success.

Speaking last week, Nadine Coyle confirmed that the Girls will be reuniting for a 2013 arena tour, releasing "one or two singles" to mark their 10th anniversary.

To celebrate the news, we're taking on Girls Aloud as the subject of this week's readers' panel. If you'd like to take part, write a brief (no more than 150 words) review of your favourite Girls Aloud single by 11pm Thursday 8 March, and email it to We'll be publishing a selection of the best reviews on Friday. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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First listen: Madonna's MDNA

We've had a sneak preview of the new album ? get ready for terrible French accents, amazing pop raves and heartfelt ballads

Girl Gone Wild

After the relative failure of the album's first single Give Me All Your Luvin' ? in with a bullet at No 37 in the UK ? this throbbing, having-a-bit-of-a-dance electro-pop stomper was released a few weeks ago in the form of a fairly embarrassing lyric video. Embarrassing because the lyrics are probably the worst thing about it, all "you got me in the zone, DJ play my favourite song" club LOLs. Co-produced by Italian DJ Benny Benassi, it's a lot more exciting musically, especially when the whole thing disintegrates in the middle eight, dropping out completely as Madonna coos "forgive me". A signal we're back in Confessions on a Dance Floor territory following the relative misstep of Hard Candy.

Gang Bang

Madonna in playful mode. Big throbbing industrial-tinged beats, spoken word verses, no real chorus, just a ridiculous collection of sound effects (police sirens, gunshots) and imposing menace that's actually pretty fun in a kind of slightly unhinged way. Gang Bang recalls her American Life album in its slightly uneasy marrying of genres, with a sudden dubstep breakdown its most obvious detour. Lyrically it's a twisted revenge fantasy rather than a sordid romp, closing with the line: "If you're going to drive like a bitch then you're going to die like a bitch."

I'm Addicted

Again co-produced by Benny Benassi, this continues the theme of "Fun!" (however forced it might seem) that permeates most of MDNA's first half. "I need to dance," Madonna trills over squiggly synth squelches and a beat that morphs into a fairly ridiculous Calvin Harris-esque breakdown. By the end she's chanting "M D N A", which you imagine might be shouted back at her by some fairly large crowds come summer.

Turn Up the Radio

This one, co-produced by Martin Solveig, should have been the second single. Its relatively calm intro is a timely breather from the throbbing bass and feels more carefree and instinctive than what has gone before. Over a bouncing beat that filters, stutters and drops in all the right places, it slowly morphs into an anthemic raveathon, with a lovely middle eight underpinned by almost tribal drums. Again, the theme is the need for one and all to chill out and have some fun.

Give Me All Your Luvin' feat Nicki Minaj and MIA

If you were one of the 108 million people who watched this year's Super Bowl halftime show then you've probably heard this first single. If, however, you listen to the radio then you probably haven't, seeing as it wasn't playlisted on Radio 1 and received limited exposure elsewhere. Though admittedly not her best comeback single ? that's Frozen, in case you were wondering ? it's still a fun song, Solveig slightly reworking the bouncing beats and acoustic strums of his amazing Hello single and drafting in Nicki Minaj and MIA to add some personality to a middle section that's slightly dubstep-interlude-by-numbers.

Some Girls

Probably the album's weakest moment, with Madonna's vocals pulled, processed and buried deep in the mix, acting more like another instrument within a deluge of filtered beats. It could have easily been a leftover from her Music album, William Orbit unable to find a melodic core in a song that probably should have been included as a bonus track.


Opening with a massive Cheerleader-style drum beat ? reminiscent of the extended intro to Solveig's Hello ? this is much better, Madonna sounding playful and energised, singing about how her new boyfriend is pretty amazing. In fact, she likes him so much she'll let him "have the password to my phone". Unfortunately, as with most songs on the first half of the album, the chorus is a bit weak, a simple "oh la la, you're my superstar". Also, memo to Madonna: massive pop stars knowing about dubstep is probably a bit old hat now, but we get another dubstepesque breakdown nonetheless.

I Don't Give a feat Nicki Minaj

Brilliantly odd. Opening with a bang, literally, it goes on to morph into an America Life-style rap (no wait, come back) that features a list of things Madonna has to do ("meet the press ? sign the contract"). The industrial beats soon make way for spooky chants and out of nowhere Minaj pops up, finishing her rap with "there's only one Queen and that's Madonna, bitch". If this isn't being made into a T-shirt as you read this then there's something wrong with the world of merchandise.

I'm a Sinner

Futuristic-sounding, double-tracked beats hail a song that veers from having fun on a night out ("all the boys and the girls wanna be like us tonight"), to a religious revelry ("Hail Mary, Jesus Christ on the cross died for our sins"). Produced by William Orbit, his signature motifs are all over it, from the Ray of Light-style guitar line that emerges from nowhere to the bit later on that sounds like Beautiful Stranger.

Love Spent

Back come the guitars, this time working around processed strings, a pretty melody and lyrics about wanting to replace money in a man's affections. "Hold me like your money ? Spend your love on me," Madonna sings over four-to-the-floor beats and a properly ravey middle eight. There's an amusing moment when she deadpans: "Frankly, if my name was Benjamin, we wouldn't be in this mess we're in."


Over a simple fingerclick drum beat and a pretty acoustic riff, this ballad ? which appeared on the W.E. soundtrack ? takes the painting metaphor hinted at in the title and runs with it. "If you were the Mona Lisa, you'd be hanging in the Louvre," Madonna sings, with the implication being that it's hard to love something perfect and distant ("the look but please don't touch me type"). It's one of the best vocal performances on the album, her voice soft and sweet throughout, lifting effortlessly into the chorus of "I'm right by your side, like a thief in the night, I stand in front of the masterpiece." A breath of fresh air after heavy bass and ravey synths.

Falling Free

Opens with a spooky, slightly unhinged piano section that's more lonely woman in haunted house than Coldplay stadium filler. Deep strings underpin the whole thing, with just the piano and strange electronic textures ? similar to Ray of Light's Drowned World ? for company. As with most of the later songs, you could easily read a lot into the lyrics, specifically thinking about Madonna's divorce from Guy Ritchie. "We're both free, free to go," she sings as the strings sigh and slowly settle. It's a haunting way to end the main album.

Beautiful Killer

The first of four bonus tracks, this draws on a fairly popular Madonna theme: that of being drawn to something bad for you. "Baby I'll let you shoot me down" and "I can't really talk with a gun in my mouth" are two lyrical highlights on a song that was rightly left off the main album.

I Fucked Up

This, however, definitely should have been on it. Opening with a big, bass-heavy beat and a snapped "I fucked up", it's Madonna at her self-lacerating best. "I made a mistake, nobody does it better than myself," she sings as the beat is joined by strings and sudden bursts of guitar. Suddenly the beat skips and speeds up, creating the album's grimiest, least polished moment. Fans of Confessions on a Dance Floor's Sorry will be pleased to hear her sing "je suis desol�" in the least convincing French accent.

B-Day Song feat MIA

Rumours that this MIA collaboration was bumped from the main tracklisting following middlefingergate were not confirmed during the playback, but it's more than likely it was left off because it's Motown/Spectorish beat doesn't really fit with the rest of the album. It's a jolly romp though, with MIA joining in on the chorus but letting Madonna deliver the line "give me a spanking, start the day off right" by herself.

Best Friend

A real highlight. With a massive electro beat that pogos all over the place, this is a brilliant rush of darting synths. Lyrically it's about a relationship that should never have been, Madonna lamenting the loss of a friendship after things went wrong. There are nods, perhaps, to her previous life as part of the English gentry ? "I miss the countryside in which we used to lay" ? and it's one of the few times on the album where the chorus truly soars. It ends with the line "it's so sad that it had to end" and, generally, this is true of Madonna's MDNA, an album that's been trailed by weak singles, but contains brilliantly bonkers moments. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Ask the indie professor: What do we mean by 'folk'?

Devendra Banhart? James Yorkston? Mumford and Sons?! Our indie prof asks who is the folkiest of them all

Is the folk thing finished yet?

Alex Kapranos via Twitter

Folk originates from the German word "volk", meaning people, and therefore a fairly inclusive term. The word most commonly used by a culture to refer to itself is "people". But as the meanings of words change, folk came to be associated with the "common people". Currently, the use of "folk" is deeply enmeshed in American political discourse. It is a way for politicians to express affiliation with the American working and middle classes. In the US, the imagined middle class is conceived as the common people. In music, folk was initially used to describe traditional song and dance. The originator of the work was unknown and therefore it became the property of the folk, along with stories and other forms of intellectual property.

This "folk thing" hardly refers to traditional music, so it must concern a more recent trend. My first thought was Mumford and Sons, broadly described as a British folk band. Also, because one of my favourite questions was: "If marooned at sea, which member of Mumford and Sons would you eat last?" I asked some musician friends what they thought "folk" means. Lou Barlow said: "Does he mean freak folk like Devendra Banhart? Or someone like James Yorkston?" I speculated that modern folk meant having lots of interesting instruments and lots of members, but I was overruled because Arcade Fire have lots of interesting instruments and no one was willing to call them folk. The person who said "it has a banjo" was booed.

I thought it could be useful to use SXSW to check the status of the "folk thing". As the festival could be considered a snapshot of emerging artists attempting to get a foothold in the industry, it is an apt location to consider the health of various musical styles. In applying to play a showcase, artists are given a set of genres they must choose from that includes folk, but does not include subgenres such as chillwave or sadcore. Other options are country and alt-country. Yet, there is only the category of rock, no alt-rock or indie. Perhaps because alt-rock/indie has become so ubiquitous it is the assumed association of rock. If so, you'd need to develop some retro nomenclature for the few rock bands culture pundits feel free to vilify such as Nickelback and Train. Maybe the genre of "uncool rock", although I'd be interested to see if anyone would dare use it.

So here is a breakdown of the genres chosen by the 2,000 bands playing official showcases. SXSW features hundreds more bands playing parties, special performances and marquee events. None of these artists are required to categorise themselves. So Bruce Springsteen doesn't have a genre under his name.

Rock 31.10%

Hip-hop/rap 12.91%

Pop 10.94%

Electronic 9.07%

Singer-songwriter 5.75%

Folk 4.46%

Avant/experimental 3.73%

Punk 3.01%

Alt-country 2.64%

DJ 2.59%

World 2.18%

Metal 2.07%

Dance 1.66%

Americana 1.35%

R&B .98%

Latin rock .93%

Country .93%

Blues .83%

Reggae .52%

Funk .52%

Gospel .47%

Bluegrass .47%

Jazz .41%

Tejano .26%

Classical .21%

Now what this data tells us is questionable. On one hand, it is clear that less than 5% of performers at SXSW consider themselves to be folk musicians, not a particularly significant number. Additionally, while many have claimed rock is dead, the majority of performers coming to Austin aspire to success in rock, more than double the closest rival in hip-hop/rap. Yet, this also demonstrates the shortcomings of self-classification. After all, the Ting Tings have classified themselves as punk and the Magnetic Fields as pop, which might not be unreasonable ways to think about their music after all. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Blog jam: The Other Woman

Music bloggers tell us about their labours of love

Who are you and what's your blog called?

Ruth Barnes. I run The Other Woman.

Where are you based?


Describe your blog in a sentence

The Other Woman exists as a radio show on Amazing Radio, the blog reflects current playlists and also the two tips I play for Tom Robinson as his "Girl Music Guru" on his BBC 6 Music show every week.

How long have your blog been going?

My first post was about Nina Nastasia in January 2010.

What music do you write about?

I write about female artists, female-fronted bands, women DJs and producers. I try and be as cross-genre as possible.

Why should people visit your blog?

The Other Woman is a celebration of female musicians. In an era where live music, radio playlists and TV appearances are dominated by men, or a certain kind of female artist, I give air time to musicians operating outside of the mainstream and outside of the industry's restricted and conservative view of women songwriters and musicmakers.

TOW is about making women in music more visible and hopes to encourage young girls to pick up those guitars, plug in those synths, tap that mic, and be heard. The blog and radio show is grassroots at heart, providing a platform for DIY musicians and advice for those starting out.

Finally, TOW is a reaction to the mainstream music press, which tends to revere and celebrate the same dead/dying/finished male musicians on their covers every month. Get over it.

What's your top song right now?

TOW longtime favourites Nedry, a dark electro trio from London. This is Violaceae from their new album In a Dim Light due on 12 March via Montreme Records.

What's your favourite music blog aside from your own?

I'm a big fan of the Quietus. Not just a great place to read about new music and must-see gigs, but plenty of thought-provoking, intelligent comment and journalism. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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'Dark Shadows': A Peek Inside Collinwood Manor

Pictures revealing the manor's entryway and grand staircase have a distinctly old-school Tim Burton feel.
By John Mitchell

Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer in "Dark Shadows"
Photo: Warner Bros.

Here we are again, folks. We're about two months away from the release of "Dark Shadows" and we still don't have a trailer.

It's a little disconcerting that a film this big and anticipated doesn't have an official trailer out yet. But since there's not much we can do about that, let's talk about the latest thing to creep into the Shadowsverse this week: pictures of Collinwood Manor.

For those unfamiliar with the '60s soap, the manor is the principal setting for the action of "Shadows." When Barnabas (Johnny Depp) returns to Collinwood in 1972 after, you know, a few centuries buried in a mausoleum, he finds the once-grand estate in disrepair. His dysfunctional descendents who now reside at the grand manor haven't fared much better. Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has brought psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) to live at Collinwood to help with her with her family's assorted troubles, including her rebellious teenage daughter, Carolyn (Chloë Moretz), and her ne'er-do-well brother Roger's troubled 10-year-old son, David (Gulliver McGrath).

Up until now, we've mostly been getting nothing but character portraits, so it's nice to get a glimpse inside the grand house. The pictures that found their way online this week are of the manor's grand staircase and of Barnabas and Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) checking out the elaborate detailing in the marble entryway.

The ornate staircase is pure Burton, with carved wood railings that give off a snake-like effect and an elaborate blue Victorian rug. We can see that the ceilings are vaulted in the style of traditional Gothic architecture and the whole thing is punctuated by a thin, nearly two-story window.

As for the marble entry, it's just as elaborate. In the image, we see Depp examining a frieze depicting what looks like the Roman god Neptune (or some sort of sea-like theme). Also Gothic in style, the marble archway behind them is likely the entrance to the manor.

We say likely, of course, because we really have no idea ... because there's still no trailer giving us any other perspective on Collinwood.

Both images are super cool and a little bit creepy, two adjectives that also describe the best of Burton's flicks. The set design certainly creates a great deal of atmosphere and is vaguely reminiscent of the styling created for Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," which wasn't a perfect flick but had a distinctly Burtonian feel to it. We hope we can say the same for "Shadows." I suppose we'll get a better sense of that when the trailer finally drops.

The sooner the better, Tim. The sooner the better!

What do you think of Collinwood? Is it as creepy as you'd like it to be? Let us know in the comments below and tweet me at @JohnMitchell83 with your thoughts and suggestions for future columns!

Check out everything we've got on "Dark Shadows."

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Carlos Kleiber: the myth revealed

Carlos Kleiber, for many the greatest conductor of all time, is an enigma. Charles Barber's new book gives us the troubled, funny perfectionist behind the ecstatic music-making

There are musical myths ? and then there's Carlos Kleiber. The conductor ? voted last year by 100 members of his profession as the greatest of all time, ever, in BBC Music Magazine ? was, even before his death in 2004, the embodiment of the enigmatic reclusive genius ? the maestro who, as Herbert von Karajan put it, would only conduct when his freezer was empty. A thumbnail of the Kleiber myths goes something like this: he was the "perfect conducting machine", in Gunther Schuller's words, who hardly ever conducted; he was a musical genius who knew the entire orchestral and operatic repertoire but only had a tiny selection of pieces he ever played in public; he was one of the funniest, most communicative musicians who ever lived, but never gave an interview; he was tormented by the ghost of his father, the great conductor Erich Kleiber; and he once gave a concert as long as his fee was a new Audi A8 with all the trimmings.

There are grains of truth in all of those (the Audi one is definitely true), but there's much, much more to Kleiber than the myth-making. At least there is now, thanks to Charles Barber's astonishing new book, Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber. Charles had a unique relationship with Kleiber. As a conducting student at Stanford University, with dazzling boldness and naivety, he wrote to Kleiber out of the blue and said he wanted to study with him. The key was Barber's use of humour and irony to attempt to elicit a response from Kleiber ? it worked. Barber never formally became a student of Kleiber's (nobody ever did), but from 1989 until the maestro's death, he corresponded with the supposedly unknowable Carlos, and as well as vivid account of Kleiber's life, Barber's book publishes pretty well the complete letters he received.

And they're a revelation. Kleiber proves as virtuosically funny and self-deprecating as he was incandescent on the podium. "The bottom line always seems to be: no one on earth can tell you anything accurate or intelligent about conductors, least of all musicians, critics, and ? CONDUCTORS, including yours sincerely. Why? Because all and sundry don't have the faintest, including, again, me." The bulk of the exchange centres on the films of the great maestros of yesteryear that Barber was collating for his Conductors on Film collection, which he sent ? 51 video tapes in all ? to Kleiber. Carlos's responses are fascinating, his letters executing pirouettes of musical and literary meaning in nearly every sentence, and each disproving his own maxim that he can't say anything meaningful about his life's work. On how listening to Duke Ellington gave him the clue about how to conduct Beethoven's Coriolan Overture: "The Duke and I whipped a downbeat sans upbeat out of nowhere for the start and similar 'starts', making it sound like running into a wall at 60mph with a Rolls-Royce, OK?" On conducting from memory: "'Doing' a piece 'from memory' is something your Aunt Sally would have no trouble with. Knowing exactly what is (supposed to be) going on is something, I believe, only [Dimitri] Mitropoulos could honestly claim to. With the right band in a good, condescending mood, there'd be no audible difference between Sally and Dimitri, if Sally had digested the overall ductus." There's also real insight into his way of thinking about music's relationship with the world. He loved Emily Dickinson, and often quotes her poetry in the letters, saying he was the reincarnation of her dog, Carlo, and (quixotically, but passionately) hated Abraham Lincoln ? something Barber tries and fails to change his mind on.

Above all, Kleiber worked. Hard. The clue to the supposedly mystical power of Kleiber's conducting proves not so elusive after all: as Barber's book shows, he worked more fastidiously and more intensely when he did conduct than any other musician, studying the manuscript, where possible, of every piece he played, and listening to every performance he could gets his hands on.

Barber's book does more than any other I know to simultaneously reveal the truth behind the Kleiber myths and to illuminate the deeper mystery of how his recordings and films continue to have such a talismanic power. This is a brilliant summary of Kleiber's way of making music, I think: "When he heard a piece in his mind, he saw each phrase in all its iterations moving nearer to the originating code of conception ? perhaps just a single note. His rehearsals operated the same way, always moving toward an infinite point of truth just over there, just past the visible horizon. And he worked in the opposite direction, simultaneously ? When he beat the first bar of a great work, in his mind he was already in the last."

Still not a Kleiber convert? Then do as Charles says, and start by watching Kleiber conduct a Strauss waltz from one of the two New Year's Day concerts he conducted with the Vienna Philharmonic, Die Libelle, which is a miniature masterclass in, well, virtually all you need to know about great conducting; about the poetic, alchemical connection between gesture and sound. And then watch his Beethoven symphonies, the Fourth and the Seventh, with the Concertgebouw ? and you'll never look back. For the serious Kleiberophile, YouTube has some truly amazing things: volodya2 has uploaded rare rehearsal footage of him conducting Strauss's Rosenkavalier in Vienna in 1994, and Wagner's Tristan in Stuttgart in 1970; and the conductor who never gave an interview gives an interview here! The only one he ever did do, admittedly, but there it is, in German, in all its five minutes of glory. Even better, here is the complete film of the terrifyingly powerful performance of Verdi's Otello with Domingo at La Scala in 1976; and for good measure here's my personal favourite at the moment: his frighteningly moving Brahms's Second Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic. Barber talks about Kleiber as a perfectionist and an ecstatic. If the perfectionism was his curse ? the impossibly high standards that he felt he never truly reached ? it's the ecstasy that we're left with. As Barber says: "I glory in the fact that he was able to make his miracles at all. Lucky him. Lucky, lucky us." © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Payback Season ? review

This British gangster movie is a poorly directed, badly written, inadequately acted tale of a black footballer, Jerome (Adam Deacon), suddenly elevated to star status by an unnamed London club. He's trying to remain in touch with the homies he left behind on his East End estate, but unfortunately the chief gang leader, the brutal Baron (David Ajala), starts demanding large sums of protection money and threatens the lives of Jerome's mother and brother. Nothing rings true, not even the tones on the characters' mobile phones. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Chris Brown's "F*** Up The City": Listen Now!

Building up anticipation as he's just over two months away from releasing his fifth studio album, Chris Brown took to Twitter to announce the release of a brand new song in the wee hours of Sunday morning (March 11).

"New music tonight! Me and @Drummaboyfresh about to "F*** the City Up"!" the 22-year-old wrote as a tease while posting a link to the Vimeo hosted track an hour later with a message reading, "F*** THE CITY UP.... love you team breezy!!!"

The debut of "F*** The City Up" comes just two days after Chris unveiled another single called "How I Feel," with both tunes expected to be included in his forthcoming album named Fortune.

Slated to hit store shelves and iTunes on May 8th, Fortune also features Brown's Valentine's Day release "Turn Up the Music," which was the lead single from the album.


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Box Office: "The Lorax" Set to Defeat Dismal "John Carter"

Thanks to a dramatically disappointing showing by theatrical newcomers, it seems as though Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" will once again claim the top spot at the box office over the weekend of March 9-11, 2012.

Consisting of a star-laden lineup of voices including Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White and Ed Helms, the animated tale pulled in $9.8 million on Friday and an estimated $19.3 million on Saturday while predicted to wind up with a second weekend total of $42.5 million.

With a runner-up opening weekend seeming inevitable, the Taylor Kitsch starring Disney theatrical newbie "John Carter" wound up with $9.6 million on Friday and $12.5 million on Saturday with a predicted weekend total slated at $29 million - which isn't good news for the $250 million motion picture.

Rounding out the top five at the box office in estimated totals are teen party caper "Project X" ($11.5 million), followed by the Navy SEALs starring film "Act of Valor" ($7 million) and Elizabeth Olsen's just-released horror flick "Silent House" ($7 million).


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New to nature No 67: Cyrtopodion kiabii

This tiny angular-toed gecko was found in adandoned buildings

Geckos are one of the largest families of lizards, with about 1,500 known species. The genus Cyrtopodion includes the bent-toed gecko in Pakistan and a new angular-toed species, C. kiabii, from Iran, which is named after the ecologist Bahram Kiabi.

So far, these tiny geckos (measuring less than 100mm, in body length, including the tail) are known only from the type locality, about 100 miles from the coast of the Persian Gulf. The geckos were collected in two abandoned buildings where they, like other species in the genus, seemed to be strictly nocturnal.

With the addition of this species the genus includes about 37 species, but recent analysis of DNA data suggests that Cyrtopodion is not monophyletic; that is, the species does not share a common ancestral species not also shared by at least some species outside the genus. This points to the need for additional work, to arrive at a stable classification of geckos.

The new species was reported by an international team of scientists from Iran and Germany, led by Dr Faraham Ahmadzadeh of the Shahid Beheshti University. The diminutive and delicate lizard is distinguished from related species in the region in part by differences in morphometrics and scale patterns. More data will be required before making any conclusions about the distribution or status of the species.

At the other end of the spectrum, the largest gecko is presumed extinct. It was endemic to New Zealand but is known only from a single stuffed specimen in the basement of a museum in Marseille, and from one recorded sighting in 1870. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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