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Queen blasts Trump’s use of ‘We Are the Champions’

The owners of Queen’s music say they don’t want Donald Trump using the band’s songs, adding that the reality TV star’s campaign has never sought their permission. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which administers Queen’s catalog, including songs such as “We Are the Champion,” said a statement that it’s repeatedly asked Trump not to use the “We Are the Champions,” which he played Monday during the first day of the Republican National Convention. Last month, Queen guitarist Brian May also wrote a blog post protesting the use of the song by the Trump campaign.

“Sony/ATV Music Publishing has never been asked by Mr. Trump, the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization for permission to use ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen. On behalf of the band, we are frustrated by the repeated unauthorized use of the song after a previous request to desist, which has obviously been ignored by Mr. Trump and his campaign,” the statement read.

Trump’s representative did not respond to questions about the Sony/ATV complaint.

Queen also tweeted about its unhappiness over Trump’s use of the song, calling it an “unauthorized use at the Republican Convention against our wishes.”

Before Melania Trump gave a speech in Cleveland at the RNC, Trump made a brief appearance to introduce her and walked onstage to Queen’s 1977 hit song.

“Queen does not want its music associated with any mainstream or political debate in any country. Nor does Queen want ‘We are the Champions’ to be used as an endorsement of Mr. Trump and the political views of the Republican Party,” the statement continued. “We trust, hope and expect that Mr. Trump and his campaign will respect these wishes moving forward.”

Other musicians, including the Rolling Stones, also have asked Trump to stop using their songs.

Adele and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler both asked the candidate to stop using their recorded songs to fire up crowds. Neil Young also objected when the real estate mogul used “Rockin’ in the Free World” during his campaign kickoff announcement last year. In both those cases, the Trump campaign stopped using the songs.

 

Year in Review: Top albums in 2015

R&B Album of the Year: Kendrick Lamar. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’

Appearing at the height of national discussion about police violence targeting black people, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is a messy and powerful document about the state of being black in America. At times it is so dense it feels practically unlistenable. At other times, you may find yourself singing along to a chorus. Lamar delivered on the promise of his debut album and his work riveted attention like few other albums in 2015. 

Even if you believe you do not like hip-hop, I encourage you to listen to this album. It has much to say, and songs like “King Kunta” and “i” will have an emotional impact while remaining accessible enough for most pop audiences. They may encourage you to dig deeper, finding stories like that of “How Much a Dollar Cost” or the head-on confrontation of racism in “The Blacker the Berry.”

Honorable mentions deservedly go to Drake and Miguel. Drake’s surprise release If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late depicts the Canadian rapper at his peak. Until Adele came along, it was the biggest album of 2015. The gift of Drake is how he digs deep into his own personal experiences with an artful and often endearingly catchy, context. He has never sounded as idiosyncratic as on this collection of songs, and that’s a very good thing.

Miguel’s eagerly awaited third album Wildheart blurs the lines between R&B and psychedelic rock, and, at times, it is almost as difficult to get a handle on that sound. Keep Jimi Hendrix in the back of your mind and you’ll be fine; his influence is prominent. Perhaps more than most major album releases this year, Wildheart sounds like a multi-faceted journey into the artist’s soul.

Pop Album of the Year: Adele, ‘25’

Album quality and massive international commercial appeal do not always go hand in hand. Happily, in the case of Adele’s third album 25, they do. 

A strong argument could be made that no solo artist has ever kicked off a career with three consecutive albums that maintain such consistently high quality as Adele’s 19, 21 and 25.

On 25, she surrounds herself with such stellar collaborators as Max Martin, Greg Kurstin and Bruno Mars, but it is Adele’s voice that shines through clear and true.

The theme of the album this time around is the strength found when the shock and immediate pain of a failed relationship fade. However, like all of Adele’s work, the broader theme is the intimate emotional experience of relationships. 

From the moment she kicks off the album with the words, “Hello, it’s me,” on her massive No. 1 pop hit single “Hello” to “Sweetest Devotion’s” swaying, confident, “I wasn’t ready then, I’m ready now,” there is a bracing sense of personal and musical confidence on 25. 

Honorable mentions go to The Weeknd and Madonna. Some may argue that Beauty Behind the Madness by Canadian artist Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is most properly an R&B album, but it is in songs like the Max Martin collaboration “Can’t Feel My Face,” inspired by the best pop instincts of Michael Jackson, that his work truly soars. This album brought a very promising rising artist to much-deserved widespread attention.

Madonna’s Rebel Heart is the kind of album many past pop kings and queens would like to make in their late 50s. It is her best in 15 years and she sounds free and optimistic about the future. The album acknowledges her glorious past well and is an outstanding example of a pop artist aging gracefully. 

Rock Album of the Year: Courtney Barnett ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’

The debut album from 28-year-old Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett earned her a surprising but well-deserved Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist. She combines relentlessly infectious garage rock riffs with deadpan lyrics that sparkle with wit and intelligence.

There is nothing particularly new in Courtney Barnett’s approach. What is arresting is how “right” this all sounds. 

Songs like her breakthrough “Pedestrian At Best” get your attention with squealing guitar and thunderous drums, then launch into a flat vocal delivery drawing maximum attention to words like, “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you. Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you.” 

Somewhere legends like Patti Smith are smiling when they listen to Courtney Barnett. She is proof that while rock may not be in the spotlight as often today, it is still alive and kicking as fiercely as ever.

Honorable mentions in the rock category go to Coldplay and Fall Out Boy. Taken together, the bands represent the peak of commercial success for rock in today’s popular music climate. Coldplay’s recently released A Head Full of Dreams finds the band blurring boundaries between rock and danceable pop, collaborating with producers StarGate and including guest appearances from Beyoncé and Tove Lo. The result is the big, warm, hopeful sound we have come to expect from Coldplay. The moodiness of last year’s Ghost Stories has given way to songs like “Everglow,” a hymn to connections that remain even after the breakup of a romantic relationship.

Fall Out Boy proved 2013’s comeback was no fluke on American Beauty / American Psycho. From the infusion of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” into the bombastic top 10 hit “Centuries” to the good-humored sampling of The Munsters’ theme song in “Uma Thurman,” the album pulls together pop culture references in a good-natured stew of catchy riffs and sing-a-long choruses.

New music: Adele, Enya, Bocelli, Kylie Minogue

Adele :: ‘25’

On this more-than-worthy follow-up to 21 — now considered the fastest-selling album in music history — Adele moves forward emotionally and artistically. No longer clawing her way through the wreckage of a love affair gone wrong, she is looking back on her life after four years with strength and nostalgia. Adele’s powerful vocals remain a wonder, but what makes 25 work is all of these songs are worth hearing alone and as part of a full album. With each listen, the songs cut deeper. Standouts include lead single “Hello,” the deep gospel sway of “River Lea” and the moving piano ballad “All I Ask.” 25 has effortlessly swept aside any competition for the title of Pop Album of the Year. 

Enya :: ‘Dark Sky Island’

Enya’s eighth studio album, Dark Sky Island, kicks off with the track “The Humming…”, which will remind fans of the grandeur of “Caribbean Blue” and “Only Time.” The album’s title was inspired by the naming of British island Sark as the world’s first “Dark Sky Island,” a sanctuary for astronomical observation free of light pollution. This album feels equally unpolluted, a return to the austere beauty of early albums Watermark and Shepherd Moons. The title track in particular has a gentle, building power piling layers of instrumentation and vocals to create something both airy and dense. However, Enya does explore some new directions — check out the percussive track “Even in the Shadows.”

Andrea Bocelli :: ‘Cinema’

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is one of the world’s top-selling recording artists and his My Christmas album is one of the bestselling holiday records of all time. His latest release digs deep into classic movie songs. There are few big surprises, but the performances are assured and arrangements immaculate. With a nod to contemporary pop, he is joined by Ariana Grande on “E piu ti penso” from Once Upon a Time In America and sings “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in Spanish with Nicole Scherzinger. This is an album tailor-made as an easy-listening collection of melodies most everyone knows.

Kylie Minogue :: ‘Kylie Christmas’

Twenty-seven years into her career, this is Australian pop superstar Kylie Minogue’s first Christmas album and it’s exactly what long-term fans would expect. Christmas classics like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Winter Wonderland” are big and breezy. A bright, snappy version of the Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” includes a cameo by Iggy Pop. Through the wonders of technology, she duets with Frank Sinatra on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” She turns in her own saucy spin on “Santa Baby” and ends with an emotional interpretation of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that deftly avoids being maudlin.

Aretha Franklin CD of diva classics due Oct. 21

Aretha Franklin is showing some R-E-S-P-E-C-T to her fellow divas: The Queen of Soul will release an album Oct. 21 covering classic songs from other female singers.

“Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” will include songs such as Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia,” Barbra Streisand’s “People” and Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman.”

The most contemporary track is a reworking of Adele’s colossal hit “Rolling In the Deep,” which is the first single off the album. It became available digitally on Sept. 29.

“Great Diva Classics” reunites Franklin with longtime collaborator Clive Davis.

“I mean, it is great,” he said in an interview. “For her to do all these songs, it’s very exciting.”

Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Andre 3000 are among the album’s producers. Other songs covered by Franklin include the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” Alicia Keys’ “No One” and Dinah Washington’s “Teach Me Tonight.” The icon’s version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” will incorporate some of Destiny Child’s “Survivor.”

The opening track is Etta James’ signature song, “At Last,” and Franklin closes the 10-track set with Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Streisand to perform at Oscars

Barbra Streisand will perform at the Oscars next month, the first time she’s performed during an Academy Awards broadcast in 36 years.

Streisand won the Academy Award for best original song for “Evergreen” in 1977. She also sang the theme from “A Star Is Born” that night.

She won the Oscar for best actress for 1968’s “Funny Girl.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also announced that British singer Adele will perform at the Oscars. She and producer Paul Epworth are nominated for best original song for the James Bond theme song, “Skyfall.”

The 85th Academy Awards air live Feb. 24 on ABC.

Adele voted AP Entertainer of the Year

Though Adele didn’t have a new album or a worldwide tour in 2012, she’s still rolling. After a year of Grammy glory and James Bond soundtracking, Adele has been voted The Associated Press Entertainer of the Year.

In 132 ballots submitted by members and subscribers of the AP, Adele easily outpaced other vote-getters like Taylor Swift, “Fifty Shades of Grey” author E.L. James, the South Korean viral video star PSY and the cast of “Twilight.” Editors and broadcasters were asked to cast their ballot for the person who had the most influence on entertainment and culture in 2012.

Adele’s year began in triumph at the Grammys, took a turn through recording the theme to the 007 film “Skyfall,” and ended with the birth of her son in October. The ubiquitous Adele was that rare thing in pop culture: an unqualified sensation, a megastar in a universe of niche hits.

By the end of the year, her sophomore album, “21,” had passed 10 million copies sold in the United States, only the 21st album in the Nielsen SoundScan era (begun in 1991) to achieve diamond status. Buoyed by hits like “Someone Like You” and “Rolling in the Deep” long after its release in early 2011, “21” was also the top-selling album on iTunes for the second year running.

As David Panian, news editor for Michigan’s Daily Telegram, put it: “It just seemed like you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing one of her songs.”

Women have had a lock on the annual Entertainer of the Year selection. Previous winners include Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Betty White and Tina Fey. Stephen Colbert is the lone male winner in the six-year history of voting.

The Grammy Awards in February were essentially the de-facto crowning of the 24-year-old Adele, whose real name is Adele Adkins, as a pop queen. She won six awards, including album of the year. It was also a comeback of sorts for Adele, who performed for the first time since having vocal cord surgery, drawing a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd.

Accepting the album of the year award, a teary Adele exclaimed: “Mum, girl did good!” The emotional, sniffling singer endeared many viewers to her when she copped in her acceptance speech to having “a bit of snot.”

“This record is inspired by something that is really normal and everyone’s been through it: just a rubbish relationship,” said Adele.

But her luck in love has since turned, thanks to her boyfriend Simon Konecki. In an interview with Vogue magazine, Adele said she was through with break-up records and done being “a bitter witch.” When Adele announced in June that she was having a baby with Konecki, her website promptly crashed under the heavy traffic. Their son was born in October.

With such an avalanche of success and now a mother of a newborn son, Adele has understandably taken a step out of the spotlight. One notable exception was recording the opening credits theme song to “Skyfall.” The song was recorded with her “21” producer Paul Epworth at the Abbey Road Studios in London with a 77-piece orchestra. Within hours, it zoomed to the top of digital charts.

“There was an overwhelming embrace of Adele and her music,” said Joe Butkiewicz, executive editor of the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. “And that was never more evident to me than when I heard teenagers express their enthusiastic expectations for the new James Bond movie because Adele performed the theme song.”

The song recently received a Golden Globe nomination. No Bond theme has ever won the best original song Oscar, but given Adele’s awards success thus far, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think she has a chance of changing that. The tune is among the 75 short-listed songs in the Academy Awards category. 

Eight seconds


Adele

Adele (Adkins) effortlessly avoids the sophomore slump with her dynamic second disc “21” (XL/Columbia). Sounding like she has more in common with Alison Moyet than Amy Winehouse (with whom she has often been compared), Adele rocks the listener’s world with the righteous opener “Rolling In the Deep” and follows up with the mesmerizing “Rumor Has It.” The piano ballad “Turning Tables” has classic written all over it and could easily become a standard, while the twangy torch numbers “Don’t You Remember” and “One and Only” have crossover potential. The dramatic centerpiece “Take It All” is the kind of chest-thumping tune that makes drag queens foam at the mouth.

Lykke Li

If you are expecting more of the same of what made Lykke Li’s debut such a memorable disc, then you are in for a surprise on second album “Wounded Rhymes” (Atlantic/LL). Casting aside the more ethereal electro and giddily girly components for a more mature and poised persona, Lykke Li might send some listeners running for cover with the slamming garage-pop of “Youth Knows No Pain,” “Rich Kids Blues” and “Get Some.” But rest assured that while she can’t be faulted for wanting to expand her following, she understands loyalty and rewards existing fans with “I Follow Rivers,” “Love Out of Lust” and “I Know Places.”

Priscilla Ahn

On her 2008 debut disc, Priscilla Ahn came off as a throwback to the singer/songwriters of the early 1970s. Ahn considers her new disc “When You Grow Up” (Blue Note) to be proof of her growth as a songwriter and performer. And she’s right. To begin with, she’s found some groovy collaborators in Eleni Mandell (on “Oo La La”), Inara George (“City Lights (Pretty Lights)”) and Sia Furler (“I Will Get Over You”). Solo compositions such as “Cry Baby,” “Lost Cause” and “Torch Song” also live up to Ahn’s claim.

Rachel Goodrich

As playful debuts go, they don’t come much more fun-filled than Rachel Goodrich’s aptly named 2008 disc “Tinker Toys.” But like Priscilla Ahn’s aforementioned new album, Goodrich’s eponymous second disc on West London is a great leap forward. Goodrich is in motion right from the start on “Morning Light.” She exhibits maturity in songs such as “Fire,” the gorgeous “Let Me Go,” “Walk Away” and “PopsicIes.” But Goodrich hasn’t lost her spirit of fun, as you can hear on “Easier Said Than Done,” “Na Na Na,” “G-Dino” and the toe-tapper “Hold On.”

Sharon Van Etten

Super popular with the hipster kids, Sharon Van Etten calls her second album “Epic” (Ba Da Bing). That might seem like a strange name for a seven-song disc, but with a full band behind her on most of the songs, the title makes some sense. Although it plays less than three minutes, the folk-rocker “Peace Signs” feels substantial. Like Adele, Van Etten ventures into country territory on the heartstring plucker “Save Yourself.” “Dsharpg” is the longest and most experimental track and might not be ever one’s cup of G, but “Don’t Do It” is more accessible.

Lenka

Lenka had her work cut out for her when it came to following up her self-titled 2008 debut disc. Lenka was up to the task, as is evident on her second album “Two” (Epic). The foot-stomping title track gets things off to a good start, and the upbeat rhythms continue on “Heart Skips a Beat,” the optimistic wonder of “Sad Song” and the dance-floor-destined “Shock Me Into Love.” Lenka’s also succeeds when she slows things down, as on “Blinded By Love” and “Here To Stay.”

Samantha Crain

Samantha Crain didn’t let too much time pass between the release of her full-length debut disc and its follow-up “You (Understood)” (Ramseur).  Of the artists mentioned here, Crain sounds like she has the most musically in common with Van Etten. Backed by a different band than on her previous album, Crain navigates a course between the acoustic (“We Are The Same”) and electric (“Two-Sidedness”) landscapes of the disc.

Shilpa Ray

On “Teenage and Torture” (Knitting Factory), her second disc with her band The Happy Hookers, Shilpa Ray sounds like she could be the love child of Blondie-era Debbie Harry and Patti Smith. Raw and rocking, these 10 blues-bruised tracks get under your skin and raise your body temperature a few degrees. If the online-sex opus “Hookers” and the “Lemon pledged and Massengill douched” “Venus Shaver” are too much for you, the heavenly “Heaven In Stereo” is downright accessible. But don’t get too comfortable, because “Stick It To The Woman” is a painful dose of reality. Bring your own bandages.