Charli XCX at Fitzgerald's, 10/16/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Charli XCX, Elliphant, Femme
Fitzgerald's
October 16, 2014

Fans of British pop starlet Charli XCX who missed her show at Fitzgerald's last night are pretty well out of luck. We're not likely to see her in such a small venue again anytime soon. She's already too famous for the place.

That wasn't the plan, exactly. When her current club tour was booked, it was meant to help break the singer stateside as her new album, Sucker, hit store shelves. But now, after her hook on Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" helped propel her to household-name status over the summer, she is broken, baby. Her advance single from the new record -- the bouncy, synthed-out "Boom Clap" -- hit No. 1 on the Top 40 chart, prompting her label to push the release of Sucker back to December in order to prepare a much larger marketing blitz.

That blitz will almost certainly involve putting her on stages much larger than the one at Fitz. The old club on White Oak was packed past the rafters on Thursday night with a strange mix of radio-obsessed teenyboppers and synth-loving hipsters, illustrating the British import's unusual crossover appeal.


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Alice Cooper Once Made a High Schooler's Dream Come True

Categories: Playbill, Pop Life

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Illustration by Emily Costello
Note: This story was written by Kathy Cano-Murillo and comes to us from our sister blog in Phoenix, Up on the Sun.


Once upon a time in Phoenix, in the fall of 1980, my high-school journalism teacher, Mrs. Finerman, was standing before the class, her voice thick with Willy Wonka mystery.

"This is a very special room," she told us. "Years ago, right here, a man by the name of Vincent Furnier wrote for this school newspaper."

We all shrugged, unimpressed.

"Annnd...?' someone finally asked in a polite why-should-we-care tone.

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Iggy Pop vs. Iggy Azalea: Two Legit

Categories: Pop Life

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Iggy Azalea: fancy.
It's been a hell of a year for Iggy Azalea. Behind a few monster singles, the Australian hip-hop chanteuse has finally broken out of the novelty-rap ghetto and into the gated community of the mainstream. Sure, she may have accumulated a guerilla army's worth of haters along the way -- No. 1 hits will do that for you. But when Iggy-Igg bounces into Bayou Music Center tonight, she'll arrive as a hater-proof conquering superstar, practically unrecognizable from the teenager who moved to Houston in 2008 to soak up the Dirty Third sound.

Did we mention that she made the cover of Billboard? You gotta shift more than a few units to make that happen.

"This has been the year that I got signed to a major label, have released singles and am going on tour with Beyoncé next month," Azalea told the industry rag in August. "It's the year I got legit."


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Ariana Grande Should Explore Her Dark Side

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I'm going to take a wild guess and assume many Rocks Off readers are probably more rockers, metalheads, and punks than fans of teen pop music, so those folks may have no idea who Ariana Grande is. If that's the case, she's the latest in a long line of disposable pop stars created by record labels and executive producers.

Oh, the girl can sing, I'll give her that. She can also act. Your author has seen many an episode of her Nickelodeon show Sam & Cat on sleepless nights after getting bored watching the same hour of SportsCenter on an endless loop in the wee hours of the morning. She could not possibly be that dumb in real life, could she?

Well, turns out last year she revealed her true personality to us all. You see, as she told Complex, she has a dark side. She is haunted by demons. Personally, I think that is awesome, and deserves a lot more attention.


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Maybe It's Time to Retire the Term "Boy Band"

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Photos by Jack Gorman (unless indicated)
The real stars of last Friday's One Direction concert
One week ago today, tens of thousands of Houston's biggest One Direction fans -- most of them accompanied by their parents -- flocked to the gates of NRG Stadium, toting signs, glow sticks, and homemade T-shirts. It was strange to realize that only 13 years ago, I was on my way to watch 'NSYNC perform on their PopOdyssey Tour at the Astrodome, now run down and dwarfed by its newer neighbor.

What was even more surreal, however, was realizing that though the Dome is a monster, its capacity would have never been large enough to house the crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the world's biggest act on their current tour. Then or now, it's not likely that any other band would have been able to pull the same size crowd.

Then again, a lot has changed for pop music in the last decade.


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Iggy or Isn't She? "Fancy" Star's No-Show Leaves Some Fans Upset

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Some Houston fans are upset and wondering what happened after rapper/pop star Iggy Azalea's purported appearance at a popular Midtown dance club this weekend never materialized -- or if it was ever truly on the books to begin with.

The event had been promoted by Houston-based Sticky Promo, the local nightlife company behind other nights such as Twerk Thursdays and Devious Saturdays at Limelight, and Seductive Fridays at Washington Avenue club Dekan. According to this Eventbrite page, Azalea had been advertised to appear at Limelight this past Saturday night, although not to perform.

Even so, some said $22 for a possible glimpse of Azalea and maybe an autograph was still too low for an artist who has blown up to become one of the year's biggest stars. The event was billed as "no refunds, returns or exchanges."


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The 15 Best Songs We Heard In July

Categories: All In, Pop Life

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"The Clarity," Sleep
After 11 years out of the game, you might wonder if stoner-metal band Sleep has lost a step. Thankfully, their new ten minute masterwork of the genre, "The Clarity," shows that they have not. Think of this like the metal version of Dr. Dre's Detox.

You never thought Sleep would emerge from their post-marijuana haze to ever record again, and when they did, you could hardly believe your ears. Yet here it is, and unlike the still as-yet-unreleased Detox, it's real and it's spectacular. COREY DIETERMAN

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pop songs

The Six Best Circus-Themed Albums

Categories: Pop Life

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Bob n Renee via Flickr
You could definitely say that there are fads in pop music. In fact, following certain trends in sound and fashion can make or break whether someone is even considered a "pop artist." One of our favorites of these particular fads is when artists have one of their albums follow a circus theme. The animals, the feathered hats, the bedazzled straps and costumes, the showmanship aspect of it all -- maybe it's something that just works in music, or maybe these few great pop minds think alike.

Not sure what show the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was doing in 2008, but maybe it's just a coincidence that four out of the six albums on our list were released in the fall of that year. All the same, we know that we love seeing P!nk twirl around in the air on an aerial ring and Britney Spears pull doves out of a top hat. With Ringling Bros. back at NRG Stadium through Sunday, here's our list of the six best circus-themed albums.


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Beyoncé & Jay Z at Minute Maid Park, 7/18/2014

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Photos courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyonce & Jay-Z
Minute Maid Park
July 18, 2014

When the downtown lots were charging upwards of $80 for parking, could there be any doubt that the biggest tour of the summer had hit Houston with all the force of a summer lightning storm on Friday night? Beyonce, our very own homegrown megastar was in town, and she brought her hit-making hubby along for the ride. By 8 p.m., the air outside the ballpark was absolutely crackling with anticipatory energy as legions of ladies in their club-ready best lined up with and without the men who love them to bear witness to the spectacle cooked up by the closet thing we've got to a modern-day musical monarchy.

It was the biggest assembly that Minute Maid Park has seen in years, and the stadium staff seemed more than a little overwhelmed by it all. Huge crowds clustered at every entrance waiting as patiently as they could to get inside as harried security tried to check everyone as thoroughly as time allowed. With thousands still outside the gates as the show began, staffers finally gave up on the metal detectors and began sending everybody through, narrowly avoiding what felt like a riot in the making.


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Lady Gaga at Toyota Center, 7/16/2014

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Photos by Barry Brecheisen-WireImage/Courtesy of Live Nation
Note: media photography was not approved for Houston. These photos are from Gaga's artRave at Chicago's United Center.
Lady Gaga, Lady Nightshade, Crayon Pop
Toyota Center
July 16, 2014

For a good handful of years there, there was no question who reigned as pop music's auteur supreme. Arriving as if from some stranger, sillier and downright gayer dimension than our own, a chameleonic diva calling herself Lady Gaga took the charts by storm by bidding the planet to "Just Dance," and dance we did.

She hatched from an egg at the Grammys. She wore a dress made of meat. And her music went into heavy rotation at discos and shopping malls the world over. A new pop icon -- the talented, mutant spawn of Michael Jackson and Madonna -- seemed to be emerging, and it was exciting breath of fresh, Rihanna-free air.

That was then. A couple of middling albums and a few world mega-tours later, and Gaga seems to have been bumped down the pop pecking order a notch or three, teetering on the brink of becoming old hat. While no one doubts her talent for singles and spectacle, could yet another big arena tour from Mama Monster really still compete with Miley's bizarre Bangerz staging, or Beyonce's mechanized perfection? Worse yet, might she actually be committing the unforgivable sin of trying too hard? Reviews (and predictions) have been mixed.


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