Questlove’s Quest: Bringing televised music back into prominence

The Roots' Questlove is using his knowledge and unique position to reinvent televised music (Photo: courtesy of npr.org)

The Roots’ Questlove is using his knowledge and unique position to reinvent televised music (Photo: courtesy of npr.org)

MTV has failed. Once hailed as the place to go for televised music 24/7, much of its melodic programming has been replaced by dumbed-down reality shows and celebrity gossip. Questlove knows this and he has made it his goal to see music return to prominence on TV.

Ahmir Thompson, a.k.a. Questlove, is the drummer and leader of The Roots, the extremely talented and eclectic house-band featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He’s also one of the creative geniuses behind much of the musical frivolity on the show, from Jimmy and Justin Timberlake’s “History of Rap” segments to what has to be the most unique rendition ever of Idina Menzel’s hit song from the movie Frozen, “Let It Go.”

Still, that’s just not enough for Quest. As someone who was raised on televised music programs like Soul Train and Midnight Special, Questlove has an affinity for the genre and he is doing everything possible to share that love with as broad an audience as possible. Thus, the reason behind his newly created TV show, SoundClash!

The show premiered Wednesday night on VH1 and, according to an article in The Daily Beast, has a simple, yet extremely interesting concept: “Take three artists from three wildly different genres and have them play a concert together. Each artist has a chance to take the spotlight, and after an hour of music that transitions from rap to rock to pop and back again, the three acts unite for one collaborative performance.” Check out the trailer below.

As someone who has been a fan of The Roots and Questlove for sometime, I’ve got my fingers crossed that this new show will be a hit. Quest’s vision – his mission in life – is to take music out of the box and unleash it, in all of it’s wondrous forms, upon the world. Hardly anyone listens to just one genre of music, and a show like SoundClash is a perfect opportunity for people to discover diversity and collaboration. It can also go a long way towards revitalizing interest in music television in a way that popularity contests such as American Idol or X Factor could never achieve.

Remembering The “King Of Pop” Five Years Later

(Photo: courtesy of drafthouse.com)

(Photo: courtesy of drafthouse.com)

Five years ago today the world lost arguably the most popular and influential pop-rock artist of all time. On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson, then 50 years old, passed away. His death caused a world-wide emotional outpouring of grief not seen since the death of Elvis Presley in 1977. It seemed as if the world came to a standstill as media outlets dedicated themselves to covering the details of Jackson’s death and the internet slowed to a crawl as websites such as TMZ and the Los Angeles Times became overloaded and crashed due to the overwhelming volume of searches for “Michael Jackson.”

On the 5th anniversary of his death, however, we at Karaoke Cloud would prefer to celebrate Michael’s life and career, and the magic he shared with billions around the world.

It was apparent from a very early age that Michael was destined for superstardom. He began his musical career at the age of 11 joining his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5. Famous for such hits as “I’ll Be There,” “ABC,” and “Dancing Machine,” the Jackson 5 was the first group in music history to have every one of their first four singles reach the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

While his early attempts at a solo career didn’t exactly soar, On August 10, 1979 Michael released Off The Wall, initiating a meteoric rise to the very top of the music industry. Then, three years later, came the record of all records. In November of 1982, Michael released Thriller and ignited a firestorm in pop-culture that still burns five years after his death.

To this day, Thriller, which won a record-breaking 8 Grammy Awards in 1984, continues to hold on to the distinction as the largest selling album worldwide in the history of the music industry with more than 70 million sold. Singles from the album such as “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and the title track, “Thriller” have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Yet another record held by the King. And of course, there was THE definitive music video…

From this point forward the name “Michael Jackson” became synonymous with pop music. Including Off The Wall and Thriller, five of Michael’s albums are still considered some of the top selling records of all time (Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory comprise the other three). Throughout his iconic career, Jackson sold an estimated 750 million albums worldwide, released 13 number one singles, won 13 Grammy Awards and the AMA’s Artist of the Century Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… twice!

The songs. The moves. The performances. There’s never been anyone else like Michael Jackson. From little kids born decades after his heyday to pop superstars such as Justin Timberlake and Usher, MJ has inspired millions to dance and sing with all their hearts. While his personal life was filled with controversy, it’s impossible to deny the unrivaled talent and sheer charisma that was embodied by the King of Pop. His music and legacy will live on.

“Live” Michael Jackson Performance Wows at Billboard Awards!

The immortal Michael Jackson gives an amazing posthumous "live" performance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards (photo: popsugar.com)

The immortal Michael Jackson gives an amazing posthumous “live” performance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards (photo: popsugar.com)

It’s as if he never died. Michael Jackson has been turning heads and making headlines over the past several weeks, just like he did before his tragic and untimely death in June of 2009. His new hit single “Love Never Felt So good” (performed with Justin Timberlake) debuted at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100, the official video has reached over 9.5 million views on VEVO, and the parent album, Xscapeis currently vying for the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

To top it off, Jackson rocked the Billboard Music Awards last night with a “live” holographic performance of another track from the Xscape album, “Slave To The Rhythm.”

The performance brought out an array of emotional responses, both positive and negative. While many MJ fans were tearful over the chance to see their idol on stage one more time, many others took to Twitter to voice their displeasure over the idea that the music industry continues to exploit Michael and make money at his expense.

This isn’t the first time a deceased music icon has been resurrected via modern technology. Back in 2007, Celine Dion performed a duet side-by-side with “The King,” Elvis Presley on American Idol. And in 2012, Coachella thrilled concert-goers with an amazing holographic performance from Tupac as he walked the stage and performed with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre (NSFW).

With how quickly technology continues to improve and break through previously set barriers, iconic rock stars of the past truly are becoming immortal… whether they want to be or not.

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery: Timberlake’s ultimate video tribute to the “King of Pop.”

(Photo: usatoday.com)

(Photo: usatoday.com)

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, and I tend to agree that it is, then the new video for Michael Jackson‘s posthumous collaborative single, “Love Never Felt So Good,” is the most flattering tribute of all time!

The awesome video features Justin Timberlake along with several talented dancers performing some of Jackson’s most iconic moves. It also shows multiple clips from previous videos of the king himself pulling off the same moves as only he could.

From “Billie Jean” to “Bad,” the moves are all there, and while this is technically a Justin Timberlake video, the focus is on the amazing group of lesser known dancers who fill the screen with their homage to the late King of Pop.

Michael’s popularity shows no signs of subsiding as “Love Never Felt So Good” hit the Billboard Top 20 in its first week of release. The parent album, Xscape, was released Wednesday (5/13) and is expected to sell 140,000-150,000 copies by the close of the week, landing it in the #2 spot on the Billboard charts and proving that we will always remember one of the most beloved entertainers of all time.

 

 

Death Can’t Stop The “King Of Pop!”

MJ is unstoppable! (photo: thrilltheworldnyc.com)

MJ is unstoppable! (photo: thrilltheworldnyc.com)

In June of 2009 the world lost arguably the most popular and beloved pop-music artist of all time… or so we thought. Apparently, death ain’t got $@%# on Michael Jackson or the proliferation of true talent as the “King of Pop” prepares to release his second full album from beyond the grave!

Xscape is due for release on May 13, 2014 and includes eight previously unreleased tracks for which Michael had completed vocals before his death. In a collaboration between top producers such as Timberland and Rodney Jerkins, the tracks have been “contemporized” and prepared for release in the modern market. But why wait?! Check out MJ’s highly anticipated collaboration with Justin Timberlake, “Love Never Felt So Good,” right here!

Jackson accomplished a lot of firsts in his career. He was the first black artist ever to have a music video aired on MTV, the first person to sell more than a million downloads in a single week, and the first to surpass 1 billion (yes, billion) online video views. While he may not be the first artist to release albums posthumously, could he be the first to become even more popular after his death?

According to a Huffington Post article from 2013, indications may lean in that direction. His name is still one of the most popular searched for, beating out the likes of One Direction, Nike, and even Barack Obama. In 2012, three years after his death, he gained 500k Twitter followers. His Youtube channel gets 780,000 views per day.

Say what you will about life after death, Michael Jackson is proving that immortality is much more than just fantasy.

Be sure to check out our huge selection of Michael Jackson karaoke tracks on KaraokeOnVEVO, Karaoke Cloud, and Sing-N-Share and pay tribute to the king in your own way.

Fallon Showcases Brian Williams’ Mad Skillz!

Brian Williams on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (photo courtesy NBC)

Brian Williams on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (photo courtesy NBC)

Jimmy Fallon is at it again! Famous for his comedic tributes to music with skits like the History of Rap with Justin Timberlake and the Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing with Will Smith, Jimmy has also featured NBC Nightly News’ very own Brian Williams in a series of re-mixed news broadcasts set to popular hip-hop tracks. Thanks to Fallon’s tech-wizards on Monday night (4/21) Williams was laid back, sippin’ on “Gin and Juice.”

While Williams is highly respected as a news journalist, the thing about pop-culture is that you also become famous for whatever the pubic decides you’re famous for. “It’s all anyone mentions to me anymore,” he told Fallon in an interview Monday night on the Tonight Show. According to Williams, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. approached him at a New York Rangers game and informed him that he, Williams, was now a “huge figure in the rap and hip-hop community.”

The Snoop Dogg remix is only the most recent in what has become an ongoing series featuring “B-Dubs,” one of the many nicknames Fallon has given to the prolific news man. Among others, Williams has also covered Sugar Hill Gang‘s “Rapper’s Delight” (with an assist by fellow anchor Lester Holt) and “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

I love how Fallon regularly mixes music with comedy. Not only are the skits funny as hell, but they also help to pique interest in various music genres and remind people that yesterday’s music was pretty dang awesome!

Swift Money: Taylor Swift tops Billboards Money Makers list for 2014

Taylor Swift, Billboard, music, highest paid music artists

Taylor Swift captures top spot on Billboard’s 2014 Money Makers list

Billboard has announced their annual Money Makers list and this year Taylor Swift took it to the bank with a $39 million outing. No surprise there with the meteoric success of her newest studio album, “Red,” and the fact that she earned an estimated $30M for six months worth of touring. Check out who took the other top spots.

10. Fleetwood Mac — The classic rock band pulled in an estimated $19 million with the release of their first new content in over ten years and a tour which earned the group a whopping $17M over just 34 shows.

9. Pink — With an album (“The Truth About Love”) which helped the singer earn over 8M digital downloads and an international tour that raked in more than $15M in the US leg alone, Pink is sitting pretty in 2014 with a $20 million price tag.

8. Luke Bryan — $22 million is certainly nothing to sneeze at! With more than 2.7M album sales, 7.6M digital downloads, a tour that brought in over $15M, and winning the 2013 CMA Entertainer of the Year award, Bryan had a banner year.

7. Maroon 5 — Last year’s impressive comeback by the L.A.-based alternative band with multiple sold-out live performances was impressive enough. Earning $22 million, having four singles make it into the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and selling more than 7M digital downloads makes it pretty damn amazing.

6. Beyonce — Yeah, like anyone didn’t think she would make the list. With the release of a  surprise self-titled album which has sold more than 1.3M copies since December and a lengthy world tour that alone has earned the singer an estimated $19M, it’s no shock that Queen Bey is in the top ten. A strong outing at $24 million.

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