Pour One Out for Vibe; King of Pop Reigns on Billboard Charts; U2 Kicks Off World Tour
Headlines: So did J. Freedom ditch the whole music writing thing at the right time or what? The big news of the day was the abrupt end of Vibe, the hip-hop magazine. While it's hard to call the demise of any dead-tree publication a total shock these days, there simply wasn't much warning that Vibe had printed its last issue. While it may have been fitting for Vibe to go down at the hands of The Source in some sort of old-school feud, it was just the same old reasons every other newspaper or magazine is folding -- reduced circulation and lack of advertising. Meanwhile, there were reportedly layoffs at Spin.
Rest in peace, Michael Jackson? Hardly. Unsurprisingly, the death of the King of Pop continues to be the dominant news story, but we're pretty much done recounting the hundred ways in which "Wanna Be Starting Something" was awesome (Kelefa Sanneh dug up No. 101) and how there will never be a global pop music icon like him again. Now we have entered the full-on tabloid zone. It's mostly grim, disturbing and depressing stuff, and you can just watch CNN Headline News or read TMZ.com to keep up to date there. Jackson's funeral is Friday and there will be a viewing of his body at Neverland Ranch. That promises to be a quaint gathering.
A surge in Jackson album sales was no surprise, but Jackson's staggering post-mortem chart dominance is even more sweeping than expected. The top nine spots on next week's Billboard charts are expected to be Jackson titles. "Number Ones," "The Essential Michael Jackson" and "Thriller" will take the top three spots, all selling just over 100,000 copies each. Jackson titles sold 415,000 this week; that number was 10,000 last week. And as for Jackson's string of comeback concerts that were to take place in London, don't be surprised if it turns into some sort of tribute.
In "forget the failing economy, we've got over-the-top stage shows to present" news, both U2 and Kanye West revealed production schemes for their tours. U2 kicked off its world tour in Barcelona and, according to Rolling Stone, concertgoers can expect "a giant 360 video screen, flowing silk screens and a light show that would make Pink Floyd jealous." The Belfast Telegraph summed up opening night in one word: wow. Click that link for videos from the show and to see just what The Claw is. As for the set list, don't go expecting to hear all of your old favorites. Only eight of the 23 songs are from before the year 2000. On his blog, Kanye West revealed the stage design for his upcoming European tour. If you like gold triangles, you might want to book a flight to Europe.
And Jens Lekman got swine flu! Yikes. But he should be OK. And he'll probably write a lighthearted song or two about the whole ordeal. He's already written one about having part of his finger cut off. His 2007 show at the Black Cat remains one of my favorites of the last few years.
Video of the Day: Jay-Z - "Death of Auto-Tune"
Jay-Z coming out firing against the Auto-Tuning T-Pains of the world ... isn't that sort of like the Red Sox picking a feud with the Nationals? Is it really necessary? We know you're better than that, Hov. But if you feel like letting us know, hey, that's cool. There might be just a bit too much clarinet and in a weird way it reminds me of U2's "Vertigo," which had that ridiculous "uno, dos, tres, catorce" line but the band knew it could get away with it, no problem. This seems like a case of Jay-Z doing something that he can do because he's Jay-Z, and for good measure he's going to get Harvey Keitel in the video and then school LeBron on the basketball court. We never do see Jay-Z's shot fall through the hoop, but LeBron does shake his hand after their game. Ric Bucher has yet to report on the impact this video might have on LeBron signing with Jay-Z's Nets during next year's free agency period.
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