Did country music ever have a wronged woman quite as wronged as Kitty Wells? Not even her greatest successor, Loretta Lynn, could pull off a run of heartache songs quite like Wells, the Grand Ole Opry veteran who died Monday at the grand old age of 92. With a list of hits that included titles like "There's Poison In Your Heart," "Lonely Side Of Town," "Living As Strangers," "A Woman Half My Age," "I Gave My Wedding Dress Away," and the immortal "Will Your Lawyer Talk To God," she sometimes seemed like America's most cheated-upon woman.Read More »from Kitty Wells: A Honky-Tonk Angel Returns To God
Blog Posts by Chris Willman
- Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Tue, Jul 3, 2012 5:29 PM EDT
McLean's iconic Come the 4th of July, you can always expect to hear Neil Diamond's "Coming To America" or Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA" accompanying your local fireworks display. But for many, the ultimate contemporary "American" song is Don McLean's epic exploration of American culture in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, "American Pie." It's been covered by Madonna, embraced by Glenn Beck, parodied by Weird Al, and endlessly analyzed by millions of intrigued listeners trying to figure out just what McLean meant with his barrage of societal and spiritual allusions. Here are 20 facts (or, in a few cases, informed speculations) you might not know about the classic:Read More »from Don McLean’s “American Pie”: 20 Things You Might Not Know About The Ultimate Boomer Anthem
- Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Fri, Jun 29, 2012 3:26 PM EDT
In the age of YouTube stardom, fame is both fleeting and forever. Fleeting as in the ability to follow it up with similarly grabbing "followup projects," but forever in the sense that that singular moment that captured the public imagination will live on racking up hits forever. Life goes on, meanwhile, for Obama Girl, Rebecca Black, Antoine Dodson, Tay Zonday, and Chris Crocker, so why not catch up with the viral sensations who brought us such pleasure once (and usually only once) upon a time?Read More »from Viral Video’s Greatest ‘Stars’: Where Are They Now?
- Chris Willman | Our Country – Thu, Jun 28, 2012 6:18 PM EDT
Josh Turner performing for Yahoo!Josh Turner emerged as one of country's hottest freshmen in the early 2000s with his breakout Long Black Train album, and no one has put the breaks on that locomotive since. He went on to beat the sophomore jinx… and also the junior jinx, and even the senior jinx, since his last album, 2010's Haywire, produced back-to-back No. 1 singles in "Why Don't We Just Dance" and "All Over Me." "With the Haywire record being my fourth record, I guess I've already graduated from high school and I'm about to go into my college freshman album here!" he figures.
That would be Punching Bag, his just-released fifth effort. And there is a way in which you could consider it more collegiate. "Obviously the Haywire record was just full of energy, regardless of what kind of songs they were," he says. But, having proven he could do an album of mostly up-tempo material, he had a different emphasis this time around. "With this Punching Bag record, I feel like a lot of people can really hear the maturity andRead More »from Josh Turner’s Exclusive Yahoo! Performance Offers Several Rounds With ‘Punching Bag’
What Michael Jackson Left Behind: From the Lisa Marie Insomniac Note to the Lost Freddie Mercury DuetsBy Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Sun, Jun 24, 2012 6:30 PM EDT
On the third anniversary of Michael Jackson's June 25, 2009 death, the world is still fascinated by any halfway-revealing Jackson artifact that turns up. The truly revealing ones intrigue us most, whether they're in the form of never-released demos or sad, handwritten notes. But we're also not above being curious when seemingly anything he ever verifiably touched turns up on the auction block, be it the red "Thriller" jacket, the headboard of his deathbed, or a surgical mask that contains "a single dark strand of Jackson's hair."
From the ridiculous to the (we can only hope) sublime, here are the most notable of Jackson artifacts that have made news in the months leading up to the three-year commemoration of his passing:
Jackson's note to Lisa MarieTHE EXHAUSTED NOTE TO LISA MARIE PRESLEY. A handwritten note that Jackson penned to his then-wife was due to be the hottest item on the block at a recent auction before Julien's AuctionsRead More »from What Michael Jackson Left Behind: From the Lisa Marie Insomniac Note to the Lost Freddie Mercury Duets
- Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Thu, Jun 21, 2012 6:59 PM EDT
Given the general avoidance of the R rating for most mainstream movies, you rarely see celebrities take their clothes off in the movies anymore. For that, you have to look to…music videos?
It suddenly seems that way, with a rash (so to speak) of bare-skinned star appearances in videos for indie and alternative acts. The most prominent example is a new video by Icelandic band Sigur Ros, which features blockbuster actor Shia LaBeouf stripped down to the Shia LaBuff. A controversial Flaming Lips clip stars fellow musician Erykah Badu--who's doffed her street duds in her own videos before, but not in someone else's. And now there's a Noel Gallagher video that consists primarily of Mischa Barton running around in her undies.
Fans of these nekkid (or semi-nekkid) public figures know what's in it for us. But what's in these visually vulnerable cameos for the stars themselves? The answers may differ on a case-by-case basis:
Notoriety. This may apply most to Barton, the O.C. actress whoRead More »from Non-Clotheshorses Shia LaBeouf, Mischa Barton & Erykah Badu Strip For Music Videos
- Chris Willman | Our Country – Wed, Jun 20, 2012 9:18 PM EDT
The MavericksLike a lot of busted-up bands that have spent years resisting the pressure to reunite, only to finally give in, the Mavericks have discovered how good it feels to finally stop being accosted by fans demanding to know when a reunion will happen. As the old commercial says: Oh, what a relief it is!
"That's the best thing," admits frontman Raul Malo, laughing, in a Yahoo! interview. "We have all felt this at some point throughout the years, with the people coming up to us and really wanting to know when we were gonna get back together—or, really, the complaints of 'Why aren't you guys back together?' I honestly felt that that would die down after a while. And to all our surprises, it never really died down. After a while, you kind of have to step back and go, 'Well, man, maybe we do need to put this together.' So all those years of people nagging us about getting the Mavericks back together, I guess it worked." Democracy in action!
"But should I be worried?" asks guitarist RobertRead More »from Mavericks Talk About the Reunion That’s Gentle On Their Minds
- Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Tue, Jun 19, 2012 11:20 AM EDT
Critics reviewing her latest effort seem determined to emphasize to readers that it's the very opposite of easy listening... and then, in most cases, to assure them that it's worth the harrowing effort, rather like scaling a potentially deadly mountaintop. Rarely do reviews come with so many warnings and caveats.
The Washington Post's Allison Stewart gushes that it "may be Apple's best album yet, though it's the one you'll least want to hear again...It gets better every time you hear it. And yet: It will go out of its way to make you not like it."
"You can't half-listen to a Fiona Apple album. You really have to work at it," says Entertainment Weekly's Melissa Maerz, in an A-grade review. "All of this might make The Idler Wheel sound like more trouble than it's worth. That's definitely not the case. Like Apple herself, it's highly confessional and creative and temperamental, andRead More »from Fiona Apple’s Difficult Fourth Album Confounds, Delights Critics
- Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Mon, Jun 18, 2012 8:10 PM EDT
"Believe"What was it Britney once sang? "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"? Justin Bieber might well have found himself in the same position—with a gender switch, of course—as his second full-length album hits stores while he's still just 18. But if the early reviews for Believe are any indication, he'll be navigating his way through that in-between world just fine.Read More »from Music Critics ‘Believe’ in Justin Bieber’s New Album (But Say Hold the Nicki, Please)
- Chris Willman | Stop The Presses! – Mon, Jun 18, 2012 10:59 AM EDT
Of the Beatles, it's John Lennon who typically gets credit for writing songs about "lovers and friends I still can recall." Sir Paul McCartney? Not nearly so confessional, at least according to the conventional wisdom. How much personal detail is anyone going to find in "Ob-la-Di, Ob-la-Da," "Live and Let Die," or "The Girl is Mine"?
But as Sir Paul turns 70, it's time for Lennon-favoring detractors as well as fans to face up to the fact that Macca has left us a secret autobiography, in song, without ever having set pen to paper for an official memoir. His wives, parents, children, and childhood—and yes, even his oft-fractious relationship with Lennon—have all been covered in his music, even if he's tended to be a bit more opaque about it. Here's a look back at his life through his own songwriting:
Songs About John Lennon
"TOO MANY PEOPLE" (1971)
McCartney has acknowledged taking a swipe at his former partner in this track from Ram, his second post-Beatles release. "'Too many peopleRead More »from Paul McCartney’s Secret Autobiography, In Song: His 25 Most Revealing Tracks
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