Hashtags Are Officially #Over. So Now What?

Photo by Marco Torres
Jennifer Lopez, shown in 2012, hopped on the hashtag bandwagon with 2013's "#liveitup."
PREVIOUSLY: Why #Hashtags Are So Damned Irresistible to Record Companies

This social sphere of readily available media makes it easier for artists to reach their fans on a whole new level, but it also makes those fans able to reach other things with just the click of a button which in turn lessens the modern day music listener's attention span by a pretty big percentage.

The only way Katy Perry's new #smash would benefit from its hashtag would be if her listeners constantly banded together and sent out thousands of tweets about the song to make #smash a trending topic on Twitter, which we all know people besides her diehard KatyCats would not do.

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Why #Hashtags Are So Damned Irresistible to Record Companies

Photo by davitydave via Flickr
This "human hashtag" is proof that even a great idea can get out of hand.
Picture this: you are in a Capitol Records executive meeting. Katy Perry is sitting at the table with her big shot manager L.A. Reid right next to her. It's the final meeting before the label drops the press release announcing Katy's huge comeback single, and there are papers with different versions of the single cover scattered all around the table, white boards with graphs predicting one of the largest first week sales in music history, and Ms. Perry with pen in hand, ready to sign the papers that will give the label the "go."

But right before she touches pen and paper, a scruffy intern with three empty cans of Red Bull next to him stands up with the most groundbreaking look on his face. "Wait, wait, wait everyone...should we add a hashtag?"

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Stop Complaining and Just Enjoy the Grammys

Photo by Groovehouse
Does Miley Cyrus deserve her Grammy nomination? Does anyone over age 18 even care?
This Sunday the 57th annual Grammy Awards will take place, which for me translates into an awful amount of unnecessary rants on social media and memes being posted over and over on Tumblr, but most of all lots of complaining. What is supposed to be "music's biggest night" has turned into a "Who Wore It Best?" competition combined with an Illuminati conspiracy-theory fest (oh, the big bad tyrannical music industry machine), and every year there seems to be more and more criticism the morning after the broadcast.

But is this because every year, the nominations are consistently getting more bland and lowbrow than the year before? Or is it just that the number of critical music bloggers has increased tenfold, making the awards show seem like the most awful thing ever to air on television and a disgrace to music itself? Really, it could go either way. It could even go both ways. But to better analyze the situation, we should take a look at the two different types of Grammy Awards viewers who come out to play every year.

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Wow..."We Are the World" Is 30 Years Old

Michael Jackson, looking appropriately regal in the "We Are the World" video
If you '80s children need a reason to feel extra-old this week, here's a good one: "We Are the World" is exactly 30 years old. In 1985, the evening of the American Music Awards -- which back then were in late January instead of right after Thanksgiving -- Quincy Jones emptied his Rolodex, partially at Michael Jackson's behest, and stars from Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson to Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & the News and Bruce Springsteen turned up, among a host of other stars at the time.

Inspired by Band Aid, in which Sir Bob Geldof invited/guilt-tripped a who's who of mid-'80s UK pop stars (Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Sting, Bono) to record the seasonal pop song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and donate the proceeds to help fight famine in East Africa, mainly Ethiopia. The song was an instant hit and one of the biggest media events of the decade, although some critics later argued that those most in need actually received a shamefully low percentage of aid compared to the millions of dollars that were supposed to have been raised.

Nevertheless, to date, Geldof has updated "Do They Know It's Christmas" three times for various causes, including last year with a cast topped by Sam Smith, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Ellie Goulding, etc., and recording as "Band Aid 30." The funds raised were earmarked to fight Ebola this time.

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Jennifer Lawrence's Sudden Pop Dominance Is Legit

Sometimes in life, we normal human beings must shelve our own insecurities and recognize that some among us are simply good at anything they attempt. Like that song from the Annie Oakley play, they can do anything better. Some of us recognize these people with awe and admiration, while others choose to hate.

These are the prevalent reactions to Jennifer Lawrence, Billboard-charting singer. Her sing-song contribution to the Mockingjay Pt. 1 score is "The Hanging Tree," which entered Billboard's Hot 100 at No. 12, ahead of multiple entries by chart whores Ed Sheeran and Iggy Azalea. The seriously depressing tune from a movie about teen genocide came in higher than recent comeback attempts by Fall Out Boy and Fergie. The Oscar-winning actress's vocal turn has now charted higher than "Yellow Flicker Beat," Lorde's Golden Globe-nominated song from the movie's original soundtrack.

Lawrence has now joined the odd ranks of "Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife" Web star Antoine Dodson, the NFL's Chicago Bears and Irene "Granny Clampett" Ryan, who also all had Billboard-slotted hits. But those other folks were one-offs, whereas Lawrence is so good at being good there's probably already a pop album in the works for her (I hope).

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It's Okay Taylor Swift Is Skipping Houston

Categories: Pop Life

Big Machine Records
Never mind a pop star, there is probably not a single more overexposed human being on the planet right now than Taylor Swift. So why do so many people have a problem with her skipping Houston -- at least at first -- on next year's "1989" tour?

Easy. Swift is one of the most approachable celebrities in the history of fame, the perpetual girl next door who has just been elected prom queen for life with the release of her latest album, 1989. Sunday the Hollywood Reporter predicted the album could sell approximately 1.3 million copies in its first week, the most since Eminem's The Eminem Show 12 years ago. Put another way, it will immediately become the biggest-selling album of 2014 after only one week at retail, trailing only 2013's Frozen soundtrack. (And not for long.)

So when her hordes of local fans feel snubbed, it stings pretty badly indeed. Have a look at just a few of their Twitter reactions Monday; even allowing for the usual social-media hyperbole, it's an eye-opener.

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Houston Jilted by Taylor Swift's "1989" Tour

Categories: Pop Life

Photo by Marco Torres
Taylor Swift at Minute Maid Park in November 2011
That high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston now in the early planning stages can't get here soon enough for fans of Taylor Swift, who this morning announced that next year's world tour behind her brand-new album 1989 will include just about every major city in the continental U.S. except this one right here.

Announced this morning, the tour begins in Bossier City, La., a four-hour drive, on May 20, 2015, and dips down to LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge before resurfacing in Detroit a week later. The tour hops over to Europe in June before hopping back to North America, where it visits mostly football stadiums and scattered basketball arenas, including two dates in July at Gillette Stadium outside of Boston. Other cities visited include Fargo, N.D., as well as Nashville, Kansas City, Omaha, Phoenix, Toronto, St. Louis (two shows apiece), and the lone Texas stop to date next October 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Of course, Houston fans are used to being bypassed on tours, but this one smarts a little; like not being invited to a party thrown by the most popular girl in school. It's not that demand isn't here -- Swift sold out Minute Maid, handily, in November 2011, and did the same at the smaller Toyota Center last May -- so other factors must be at play. (Perhaps she is now reluctant to venture onto Beyonce's home turf.)

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

Photos by Jack Gorman
Charli XCX, Elliphant, Femme
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

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

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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