That Justin Bieber is clearly making moves to break free from the teen-pop stigma of his earliest career moments (cue the 'Someday' perfume commercial for evidence of this newfound maturity), the latest milestone in Biebs' epic evolution into serious R&B phenom being this dark, dangerous new remix of Drake's 'Trust Issues', which includes Justin taking on some of the vocals.

Despite its toned-down lyrics (Drake's "I'mma sip until I feel it/ I'mma smoke it till it's done" becomes "I'mma sing until I feel it/ I'mma go till it's done"), JB's' interpretation still simmers with the same sultry heat as the original, which is taken from Drizzy's forthcoming LP 'Take Care'. Why not check it out here.

Hello to you, and a warm welcome to this, your pre-Labor Day Weekend edition of Inside Track. As far as music-related stuff goes, it's been a seven-day spell of polar opposites, with new tracks, videos and exclusives from either end of the mainstream-to-indie spectrum.

At the high-end of things, we get two Rihanna visuals, the first accompanying her solo single 'Cheers', the second a co-starring part in Nicki Minaj's 'Fly' promo. Meanwhile, R&B innovator The-Dream's unbounded generosity materialises as an entire free-to-download album, and Kelly Clarkson is singing it for jilted girlfriends everywhere with her new track 'Mr Know It All'.

Going underground, we take in the sounds of an Ed Banger Records mix and Mayer Hawthorne's latest, sparing time for a glance at the brilliant and subversive new videos from indie femmes Charlotte Gainsbourg and St Vincent. But before we get to all that, here's my Link Of The Week...

So, the MTV VMAs happened. Bruno Mars paid tribute to Amy Winehouse, Gaga explored her masculinity, Adele performed with her customary class, Nicki Minaj dressed up as a futuristic scrap-metal cyborg, Chris Brown... was present.

Whether they liked or loathed the trumped-up pomp of the awards ceremony itself (the main culprit: Katy Perry's yellow cube fascinator) no critic from Pitchfork to Popdust could fail to feel their hearts warmed by Beyonce's grand pregnancy-reveal, the showbiz scale of which was so completely over-the-top, only Bey and Jay could get away with it.

Why, even indie hermit Bon Iver, whose empassioned (and poorly spelt) tirade against the VMAs has been circulating all week, deemed the prospect of baby Bey-Z "awesome as sh*t, culturally speaking". So, just for Bon Iver, here's Beyonce putting 'Love On Top' in her pinnacle VMAs performance.

Awesome. Bye then! Aly @ Play For Life

Rihanna's much-blogged-about lounge sessions aboard her superyacht turn out to be work-related after all, as the 'Loud' diva puts footage of her recent maritime downtime (with love to her so-called Navy fanbase, no doubt) at the forefront of her new documentary-style 'Cheers' video.

Blurring the lines between RiRi's hardworking professional persona and her hard-playing private life, the candid clip paints a picture of a strong, spirited woman equally dedicated to her family, friends, and love of music. Rihanna's honorary big brothers Jay-Z and Kanye West get blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos in the vid, as do some impressive swimming pool-stunts courtesy of a beer-swilling Avril Lavigne, whose 2002 single 'I'm With You' is cut and sampled on 'Cheers'.

"Life's too short to be sitting round miserable", intones Rihanna over Avril's looped yelps, with the self-conscious aside: "People gon talk whether you're doing bad or good". Well, by the looks of her status in 'Cheers', Rihanna's doing pretty darn good at the moment. Check out the video here.

Aside from Game's long-anticipated 'RED Album', this week's biggest (and best value) rap release was always going to be Terius 'The-Dream' Nash's free-to-download new long-player, '1977′.

A real King Midas behind the mixing desk (his penmanship and production fingerprints are all over Beyonce's '4′, Justin Bieber's 'Baby' and Rihanna's 'Umbrella'), The-Dream churns out soundscapes of molten hip-hop gold, renowned on his own solo work for his butter-soft voice and fluid, confessional lyrics.

Hear the above talents showcased here via opening '1977′ track 'Wake Me When It's Over', Dream's post-divorce discussion of love and loss which seeks to give voice both to the embittered ex-husband, and the regretful guy reflecting on his own mistakes. This is R&B therapy at it's most effective, folks.

Featuring, amongst other special guests, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean, download the full and free album here via The-Dream's official site. Embossed metallic cover look familiar much? Anyone?

Nicki Minaj, who conquered in the 'Best Hip-Hop Video' category at this year's just-gone MTV VMAs, demonstrates why a Barbz visual is better than the rest in her freshest 'Pink Friday' promo 'Fly'.

Modelling multiple outfits' worth of what can best be described as 'avant-garbage couture', Nicki shares screen-time with a fellow high-flying VMAs nominee, Rihanna, as the two swap vocal parts and sashay sombrely through a graveyard of derelict airplanes. Oh, and we get to see the pristine 'Super Bass' babe in full combat mode, packing a serious punch when she's beset by a pack of ninjas, which is as crazy a scene as you'd imagine it to be.

Check out Nicki's and Rihanna's cinematic 'Fly' collaboration here.

The last time we heard from Kelly Clarkson, she was taking a tolerant attitude to news that a set of work-in-progress demos (from recording sessions for her new album 'Stronger') had spilled onto the net. But it seems the hardy pop survivor managed to save something from the leak squad, because she's back to her sassy best with brand new single, 'Mr Know It All'.

Co-penned by an all-star writing team whose triumphs to date include tracks for Carrie Underwood, Rihanna and Usher, the song lends itself perfectly to Kelly's straight-down-the-line singing style, addressing some trademark feisty one-liners to its arrogant ex-boyfriend protagonist.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about her upcoming LP, which is due out in mid October, a determined-sounding Kelly said: "Usually, on most albums, I'll fight and be like, 'No, this needs to be the single'. There's no real fighting on this. The label and I, we love all of them. We're just going to see what everybody digs". Take it from us, Kelly, we're digging 'Mr Know It All'.

Stream the track here.

Established actors and actresses' forays into the realm of popular music might sometimes pay off (Jared Leto's 30 Seconds To Mars gamble, Natalie Portman's 'SNL' rap), but, as Lindsay Lohan's short-lived pop career goes to show, the transition can often prove messy.

Which is why 'Inception' star Joseph Gordon-Levitt took a potentially catastrophic risk when he chose to mark the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's seminal LP, 'Nevermind', with a somewhat cavalier cover of seminal album track 'Lithium' at a show in Seattle, the band's city of origin.

After a sceptical first play, we're convinced Joseph's authentic 'young Hollywood' cool-factor and passable grunge vocals, not to mention his obvious superfan-level passion for all-things Nirvana, are just enough to license his 'Lithium' rendition. It's heaps better than Miley Cyrus' now-legendary Nirvana moment, that's for sure.

Check out Joseph performing 'Lithium', which contains some strong language, here.

Another of our double-video-features now, this time covering the offbeat new visuals from singer-songwriter femmes St Vincent and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In the promo for her new track 'Cruel', St Vincent's Annie Clark, who so kindly offered up a free song from her forthcoming LP 'Strange Mercy' (out September 13), plays a housewife outsmarted over and over again by her devilsome husband and kids. Chock full of black humor and eerie, contrived scenarios aplenty, the 'Cruel' storyline plays out like the most nightmarish nuclear-familial parody we've seen since 'Village Of The Damned'. Watch it here.

Another songbird from the alternative side of the tracks is Charlotte Gainsbourg, critically-acclaimed actress and performer, and yes, daughter of legendary French eccentric Serge Gainsbourg. The video in question accompanies 'Terrible Angels', the title track of Charlotte's new Beck-produced EP, due for release on September 6.

Having wandered into an underground parking lot, Charlotte finds herself pursued by an army of leather-clad clones, pulling off some accomplished fight-choreography as she battles... well, herself. This self-confrontational theme is one we've noticed in Lady Gaga's 'You & I' video (when she smooches her own male alter ego, Joe Calderone), or in Skylar Grey's bipolar 'Dance Without You' promo (she creepily-crawls out of her own skin). Just saying.

See how Charlotte tackles the 'Me vs Me' concept here.

If you're looking for a new soul-pop icon (sorry, Patrick Stump, we just needed a change), then Detroit's Mayer Hawthorne is your go-to guy. Dealing in a medley of instant soul and rock classics, Mayer's forthcoming new LP, 'How Do You Do', is set to drop on October 11.

Our first preview of what's to come on the album is irresistible lead track 'The Walk', as premiered by Mayer earlier this week as part of a trail of exclusives leading up to the release of his full record. A dapper kiss-off to a wrongdoing ex-girlfriend, the song's smart, soulful swagger translates as Mayer's answer to Cee Lo's 'Forget You'.

So if you fancy a little musical variety in the 'sassy breakup song' department, why not let a little Mayer into your listening library. Stream 'The Walk' here.

With all the fresh VMA performance clips / Bey-Z baby news to catch up on, we wouldn't blame you for missing out on the first episode of MTV's new series 'I Just Want My Pants Back'. If you didn't catch it, you probably haven't yet heard the new track from Wavves, which had its first play on the show. But not to wory, because we've got Wavves' latest, the amusingly-titled 'I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl', as a free MP3 to cushion your post-VMA comedown.

Wavves' impressed critics with their last LP 'King Of The Beach', forging a strong line in tight, psychedelic fuzz-rock that the band are now poised to pursue with their new 'Life Sux' EP, out on September 20. 'I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl' forms the lead song selected from that very EP, so pick it up for free via MTV, here.

Meet Busy P; head honcho at leading French electro label Ed Banger Records. The ever-industrious Monsieur P has taken to his blog to push upcoming Ed Banger releases (not least 'Audio, Video, Disco', the new album from beat-peddling dance duo Justice), hyping the news with an exclusive mix of fresh offerings from across his roster.

Most notable amongst these are a Para One rework of the new Justice LP's title track, a brand new Justice joint titled 'Helix', and a "funkt-out" Skrillex remix of Sebastian's Mayer Hawthorne-featuring 'Love In Motion'. If you're already an expert in the Ed Banger dance division, you'll love it. And even if you're not, this is a timely shot at schooling yourself in the freshest acts from the label pool.

Click here to stream the mix via Busy's blog post.

 



I went to a debate on copyright last week. In Scotland. And a Scottish lawyer said something interesting. But why is this relevant to you, the (probably) American music fan?

Well, what he said was this. "Isn't it interesting that an industry that has been able to sell us Cheryl Cole and Susan Boyle and all those other 'Idol' and 'X-Factor' stars, and which persuades millions of people to part with their hard earned cash to buy all sorts of things linked to those celebrities, has failed to persuade a large part of the population that they should pay for digital content".

That lawyer - his name was Paul Carlyle and he sits on the Law Society Of Scotland's Intellectual Property committee - was expressing concern that, while the entertainment industry has, in the main, in the US and much of Europe, persuaded politicians of the importance of protecting copyright online, often resulting in new rules to crackdown on piracy, he's not convinced the record companies and film studios have won the public debate. And it's much harder to enforce laws, he argued, if the majority of the population don't believe in them.

Of course there have been various efforts by the music and film industries to communicate the positive side of copyright over the years, some moderately successful, most awful, some counter-productive. But I think the Scottish attorney is right. As the content industries start to win the debate in political circles (and to be fair, when it comes to Congress, there's still some way to go), they should turn their attention once again to engaging with the public on this.

Music makers and music sellers need to try and find more engaging ways to communicate why, actually, copyright and exciting new music go hand in hand. And why, therefore, copyrights are worth protecting, And why, therefore, people should be willing to pay a fair price to access digital content.

This might be better achieved if artists and labels were to team up with those big players in the digital world who have a vested interest in the longterm success of the copyright system. There were a lot of articles written about Apple boss Steve Jobs' many achievements when it was announced he was standing down as the IT firm's CEO last month, but surely one of his greatest feats was doing what labels in the main have failed to do: persuading people to pay for digital music.

The mantra of the music industry in the early days of P2P file-sharing was that it was "impossible to compete with free", yet in iTunes Apple did and continues to do just that, despite illegal file-sharing being pretty much as big as it ever was. Not only that, but many people, myself included, buy music from iTunes even when we know that Amazon are probably selling it cheaper. These are clearly people the artist and label community need on their side when trying to sell the positive side of copyright.

The other people the music community should involve is you, the committed full-on music fan (which is why, in case you wondered, this IS all relevant to yourselves). If you're a fan of great new music, and you see great new bands you love struggling to launch their careers because of a flagging record industry, you are more likely to support the music community's case as to why copyrights are worth protecting. But as music consumers you also have the other perspective, and can let artists and labels know what the queries that puzzle and annoy the man on the street really are. The industry needs that knowledge before it can successfully enter the public debate.

So let's take up the mission set by a Scottish lawyer, follow the lead of a Californian geek, tap into the insights of the average Inside Track reader, and then get out their and win the public as well as the political debate on copyright, and why it can be a very good thing indeed.

Chris@PlayForLife


 
 
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