American Music Awards in a Digital Age Where Fans Vote on Twitter

American Music Awards

Katy Perry

Katy Perry

Pitbull Host of the AMA's

Pitbull Host of the American Music Awards

“I will love you unconditionally,” promised Katy Perry in the opening number of the American Music Awards. Wrapped in a kimono amid an Orientalist fantasia straight out of “Kill Bill,” the singer was using her appearance on the awards show, broadcast Sunday night on ABC from L.A.’s Nokia Theatre, to bring attention to her current single, “Unconditionally.” The song about finding love after divorce is part of her plan this year to age up her image. But that line from its chorus might also describe the audience loyalty that pop stars on Perry’s level once enjoyed, back when fans pledged allegiance to artists and could be expected to stick with them through the occasional misstep or hiatus. Today, though — in an age of always-on entertainment options — stars must refresh that devotion on a day-to-day, even minute-to-minute basis. And with their large viewerships and social-media tie-ins, awards shows have become perhaps the most effective way to remain a part of the conversation.

One Direction

One Direction

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

So where A-list talent used to come out primarily for the Grammy Awards, superstars can now be counted on to show up for lower-wattage gigs including the MTV Video Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards and, indeed, the American Music Awards, which present themselves as the people’s choice because the winners are determined, at least in part, by fans’ votes. The result is a kind of promotional arms race in which who won what isn’t nearly as important as who turned up to feed the beast.

Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake

Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake

In the unlikely event that anyone asks you, Taylor Swift won artist of the year Sunday, and Justin Timberlake was named favorite male soul/R&B artist and favorite male pop/rock artist. If this state of affairs calls to mind the picture of a performer punching a clock — putting in the work to hold on to that highly conditional love — well, the AMAs this year didn’t do much to diminish that idea. The majority of the performances felt like little more than brand-maintenance exercises: a hectic yet joyless rendition of “Timber” by Pitbull and Kesha, for instance, or Ariana Grande’s dully competent take on her throwback-soul tune “Tattooed Heart,” for which she was backed by a suit-clad doo-wop quartet. Timberlake poured some live-band muscle into “Drink You Away” but didn’t really put across the boozy desperation of the song’s lyric; as always, he was coolly professional.And Imagine Dragons demonstrated how largely unexciting the prospect of an arena-rock group feels in 2013. Luke Bryan had a bit more luck using the same tools — chunky guitars, a booming beat, whoa-oh-oh vocals — to sell a country song about catching up a little catfish dinner. Having struck out recently with her more outré moves, Christina Aguilera cleverly reverted to an earlier version of her brand with a stripped-down version of “Say Something,” her hit with A Great Big World, that strongly recalled her 2002 ballad “Beautiful.” Similarly adrift of late, Jennifer Lopez borrowed some of Celia Cruz’s mojo in a lively tribute to the late salsa queen. Other artists played it less safe to varying degrees of success. T-Boz and Chilli of the great ’90s girl group TLC provided the requisite award-show train-wreck moment with a performance of their indelible 1995 song “Waterfalls.” The problem? The third and arguably most important member of TLC, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, died in 2002, and here she was replaced by the rapper Lil Mama, who played Left Eye in a recent VH1 biopic on the band. It was ghoulish.

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera

Lady Gaga and R. Kelly risked offense too in an elaborate bit, set in a mockup of the Oval Office, that had the two eccentrics seemingly portraying Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy (or maybe Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton) as they sang their duet “Do What U Want.”
But the gamble paid off; this was Lady Gaga at her theatrical, button-pushing best. And then there was Miley Cyrus, whose much-discussed season of infamy hit overdrive with her ultra-raunchy VMAs performance in August. In the days before the American Music Awards, she and the show’s organizers used social media to tease something even more outrageous. On Sunday, though, the joke was on viewers as Cyrus performed her power ballad “Wrecking Ball” in front of a willfully amateurish image of a cat mouthing the tune’s anguished lyrics. The stunt blunted the impact of the song, one of the most emotionally potent of 2013. But in its thrilling perversity, it did what an awards-show appearance must these days: It gave us something to remember. At least for a few days, anyway.
~ Mikael Wood / LA Times

by Jeffrey A Swanson / Publisher / Editor / Writer

 

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Sectara Inks Deal with Dark Star Records

Sectara

Dark Star Records is pleased to announce that it has Inked a deal with the experimental Chicago based progressive metal band Sectara. This unique band whose primary focus since their 2006 formation has been the development of an aggressively original sound. With a combined appreciation for classic bands such as Voivod, Cynic, Death, Godflesh, Napalm Death, Tool, Kyuss, Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, and Macabre, Sectara have achieved something monumental with the completion of their debut full length recording. With the immensely creative production skills of Grammy award winning producer Neil Kernon, Sectara’s album “Interstellar Terror” helps to define new boundaries for the current aggressive music landscape. Also, Bruce Lamont and Matt Mclellund of Yakuza made guest saxophone and vocal appearances on the album along with Corporate Death of Macabre, who does guest vocals and guitar solos. The new album “Interstellar Terror” is now available worldwide at iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon, Rhapsody and more via Dark Star Records and Sony Music Entertainment.

Interstellar Terror by Sectara

Sectara will be hosting a Special Album Release Party at “The Exit” in Chicago Illinois on December 8th The Exit is located at 1315 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 www.exitchicago.net

Watch the New “Interstellar Terror” Sci-Fi Promo Video by Sectara:

Sectara is: Ryan Logsdon – guitar and vocals, Alan Russell – guitar,
Garrett Scanlan – drums, Paul Herzog – bass and vocals

Buy the New Album “Interstellar Terror” by Sectara at iTunes:

But it Now

For More Info on Sectara go to:

www.facebook.com/Sectaraband

For More Info on Dark Star Records go to:

www.DarkStarRecords.net

by Jeffrey A Swanson / Publisher / Editor / Writer

 

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Available Christmas Eve, The Epic Single “Black Crows” From Singer Songwriter Jenny Franck

Jenny Franck

 

We are pleased to Announce that 6519 Worldwide, Dark Star Records and Sony Music Entertainment will be releasing the epic single “Black Crows” from singer songwriter Jenny Franck. The Single along with the music video will be released on Christmas Eve Day 2013.

The song “Black Crows” features Michael James (founder of IndieProMix) on lead guitar. This is one of her songs that tap into a serious, dark place. As the title indicates, it is a symbolic marker to what is holding her down. The fusion of acoustics, electronics and its dark undertone is one of many powerful moments of this song. The chorus becomes a crescendo, taking you into the darkest point of the song. It’s comparable to the energy of the ocean’s waves. Majestic to witness yet contain such raw power. Jenny’s song grabs you the same way.

Jenny Franck

logo2BIOGRAPHY:
Jenny Franck is a rising star from the Chicagoland area, with an ever growing passion for music. Her love first started with the piano, evolving to guitar. Her signature sound is heavy, with a twist of grunge and a voice that captures the soul. Her inspirations have influenced her direction. They are rooted from artists like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Silverchair, Elliot Smith, and Alice in Chains. Her evolution has been personal, musical, and spiritual, in developing her writing along with her collaborative efforts. The passion you hear through her music is done like no other, delivering her life’s events and emotions with such intelligence and grace. She says it in style each and every time through some of the best grunge/punk/rock music on the planet.

by Jeffrey A Swanson / Publisher / Editor / Writer

 

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Just Released, The Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun Official Movie Trailer Scored by Chris Thomas (CSI), (LOST)

SGL Entertainment is pleased to announce that it has just released the official movie trailer for the vampire western film “Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun”. “It’s the year 1881 and the outlaw vampires Jezebeth and Billie Gunn, now bitter enemies have parted ways after a human child is gunned down in cold blood. Now after 130 years that same child who became a vampire is used by the outlaw Billie Gunn as bait to lure Jezebeth back to the land where it all began for a bloody final showdown at high noon. The movie stars Ana Santos as Jezebeth and Reyna Rios as Billie Gunn along with Ruby Gonzalez, Frank Warpeha, Drake Mefestta, Stephanie Ann Lison, Jeff Lison, Gwen Bartolini, Jennifer Bartolini, Gracie Serrano, Skylar Serrano, Ian Serrano, Pinelope Love, Nelly Souders and Ray R. Wise. Both the movie and the trailer were scored by the award winning film composer Chris Thomas, who recently scored the animated film, Cadaver, starring Kathy Bates and Christopher Lloyd. Chris also scored music for CSI and the Popular Television show LOST. Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun was Written and Directed by Damien Dante and Produced by Damien Dante and Jeffrey A. Swanson with ADR by William Shary and Scott Caputo of Studio 32 out of Chicago. The movie was edited by David OBrient Jr. and Scored by Chris Thomas with Cinematography by Jeffrey A. Swanson. Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun will be Available on Cable Television, Blu-Ray, DVD and on all the latest cutting edge Video On Demand Platforms in 2014 via SGL Entertainment, R-Squared Films and our many other distribution partners.

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun

For More Info on Jezebeth 2 Hour of the Gun Go To:

www.jezebeth.com/jezebeth-2

For More Info on Chris Thomas Go To:

www.christhomasmusic.com

For More Info on SGL Entertainment Go To:

www.sglentertainment.com

by Jeffrey A Swanson / Publisher / Editor / Writer

 

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The Walking Dead and Americas Fascination with Zombies

The Walking Dead

“The Walking Dead” on Sunday nights, and while the horror show was notably snubbed by the Emmy people (just one nomination, for makeup) it’s a ratings monster for network AMC. It isn’t just the network’s top rated show, or one of the top-rated shows on cable. It’s one of the top rated shows on television period, and while the Emmy adulation went to “Breaking Bad,” even that dark show can’t match the ratings for “The Walking Dead.” What makes “The Walking Dead” different lies in the humanity at the center of this show about monsters. It isn’t really about special effects or the supernatural. It’s about a small-town sheriff, a battered wife, a pizza-delivery boy, a backwoods hayseed, and a God-fearing farmer. At its heart, “The Walking Dead” is a show about a group of ordinary people trying to survive in a world that has suddenly and violently changed on them. That resonates in a nation where millions of people have had their lives suddenly and violently changed over the past five years. That’s right–this show about zombies hits home because it echoes the terror many of us feel about our jobs, Wall Street and Washington. “It’s like a mirror of how we evolve through life,” said Melissa McBride, who plays Carol Peletier, said of the show. “How do we deal with these circumstances that aren’t compatible with the way things were? How do we boot back up and survive?” The signs of economic distress are still evident, even four years after the recession’s official end. Nearly 70% of Americans are still living paycheck-to-paycheck, still living in a situation where a job loss spells an immediate crisis. There are millions of people still considered “long-term unemployed,” whose odds of getting another job drop every day they’re unemployed. Millions more have simply quit the labor force, given up even looking for a job anymore. Their numbers are at generational highs.Wage growth overall has risen since the recession’s depths, but the vast majority of those gains have gone to a disproportionately small group at the top. For most people, their wages still haven’t recovered. Look, we don’t want to overstate this case. The biggest reason “The Walking Dead” is so popular is because it’s a very well produced, acted, and written show. The series captivates viewers with its unrelentingly gore, and the way it takes special joy in dreaming up new, horrifying ways to scare its viewers (and kill off its terrified characters). But is it any wonder the travails of a group of bedraggled survivors resonate in a nation where so many have been under duress for so long? For the characters on the show, the challenge is learning how to live in a new (and terribly dangerous) world. For Ms. McBride personally, the show has changed her life, since it’s the first time she’s ever been part of a regular cast. Speaking of herself and her character on the show, Ms. McBride said “she and I have both had to take, it seems like, a really sharp curve, a really hairpin turn in our lives that we’ve had to navigate very carefully. There are parts of me I have to shut down and reboot.” “All of us see something in these people,” said Dr. Joanne Christopherson, a social sciences professor at the University of California Irvine, and one of four professors running an online course this fall dedicated to exploring the world of “The Walking Dead.” To Christopherson, the show is about far more than just zombies. It’s about a group of people under incredible strain, and how they respond to that strain. She credited the writers, as well, for getting a lot of the social interactions right. “The writers did their homework.” The characters on the show aren’t perfect, they aren’t noble. They make mistakes; Rick Grimes, the central character, she noted, makes mistakes that nearly get his entire group of followers killed. “I think the zombies are a plot device,” she said. Over the course of the show’s first three seasons, the characters – the ones that haven’t been killed at least – have all changed dramatically, and none more so than Ms. McBride’s Carol, who went from being a battered wife in the opening episodes, to becoming one of the leaders of the survivors’ group. But even adapting to a new world doesn’t insure survival – for the character or the actor. There is no show that puts its characters at risk as much as “The Walking Dead.” The body count is high. Through its first three seasons, the writers have killed off a number of main characters. It lends a tremendous amount of realism to the show, but it’s not something Ms. McBride thinks about very often. “From day one,” she said, “I didn’t know if I’d survive an episode. So you’re grateful to live another day, and that’s the message of this show and of life. That’s a message that hits people, especially when so many can’t see what tomorrow will bring.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

STANFORD SCHOLAR EXPLAINS WHY ZOMBIE FASCINATION IS VERY MUCH ALIVE

“Kelsey Geiser” Stanford University

From the popularity of violent video games to the skyrocketing appeal of the zombie thriller TV show The Walking Dead, it seems like everyone is talking – at least in pop culture circles – about the apocalypse. The fascination with the end of the world, says Stanford literary scholar Angela Becerra Vidergar, can be traced to the advent of nuclear warfare during World War II. Our collective visions of the future changed drastically after the horrific events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, explains Vidergar. Mass destruction became a reality and the terrible violence of the Holocaust and other WWII events brought up disturbing realizations about the human capacity for violence. We no longer necessarily “imagine the type of positive future that was more prevalent in centuries past, for example, during the Enlightenment or the Industrial Revolution,” said Vidergar. Vidergar explores these themes in her doctoral dissertation, Fictions of Destruction: Post-1945 Narrative and Disaster in the Collective Imaginary. As part of her research, Vidergar, a doctoral candidate in comparative literature, examined mass disaster stories in books, television, advertisements and movies. She found that the events of the 20th century, “along with movements to increase environmental awareness,” have caused a lot of doubt about the consequences of our development as modernized societies, and “instead we are left with this cultural fixation on fictionalizing our own death, very specifically mass-scale destruction.” According to Vidergar, “We use fictional narratives not only to emotionally cope with the possibility of impending doom, but even more importantly perhaps to work through the ethical and philosophical frameworks that were in many ways left shattered in the wake of WWII.” Through her dissertation, Vidergar has come to the question of how we generally engage with history in our everyday lives, and how this manifests itself in our culture: “How does it affect our ability to act in the present or our inability to act in some ways, and even more importantly, how we can imagine the future?” “In a way, survivalism has become a dominant mode of self-reference for a greater number of people,” said Vidergar. “You see that in the obsession in apocalypse and disaster in the fictional stories we tell. Furthermore, it is not only the survival of ourselves as individuals that we are concerned with, but the survival of entire communities – even humanity as a whole.”

Peace after war

Despite the fact that people resolved to make the world a more peaceful place after they witnessed the atrocities of nuclear war, Vidergar believes most would agree that this has not turned out be the case. “There have been other atrocities, other genocides and other disasters,” said Vidergar. “We are still struggling to answer those questions of what it means to be human and not only prepare ourselves for new threats, but also deal with those past horrors and disasters in our present and future.” The idea that humans could be nearly extinct or extinct has become a lot more prevalent, but Vidergar says disaster narratives do not necessarily portray this as a negative. “It is very frightening, but there is a kind of freedom in thinking about starting anew,” said Vidergar. “I think that we still want to think that we would be a phoenix rising from the ashes, that we would do things differently – that we would rebuild and make the world a better place.”

The intrigue of survivalism

The drive for survival can be said to be an inherent attribute of mankind. However, in recent decades there has been increased interest in survivalism as a movement of individuals or groups to actively prepare for disaster. Vidergar has identified a clear increase over the past century in the portrayal of post-apocalyptic worlds in television, movies, books and graphic novels among other media – disaster scenarios brought about by events such as nuclear explosions, pandemics or the proliferation of horrific creatures. While disaster fiction has existed for centuries, Vidergar points out in her research that it is the nature and scale of destruction that is particular to the cultural milieu since the mid-20th century. She has found that many of these fictions are clustered around crisis points like the post-WWII decade and the years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “The spikes in our interest in survivalism and disaster around these time nodes suggests these events are catalysts for the formation of a collective imaginary of destruction,” Vidergar said. “That imaginary reveals itself in cultural products like literature, films and video games.” “Traumatic events,” she added, “trigger discernible shifts in what we are able to imagine our future to be and how we should consequently act in the present to address those threats. Since the events of the 20th century and beyond, what we imagine doesn’t look so good.”

Hope, despair and the art of survival

While scholars have linked the intrigue of zombies to a manifestation of consumerism, Vidergar says that cultural manifestations of horror, no matter how realistically unbelievable, are a “testament to people’s desire to not only survive, but even possibly improve the world in the face of a seemingly impossible situation.” During a presentation for colleagues at the Graphic Narrative Project, a Theodore and Frances Geballe Research Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center, Vidergar discussed the findings of the final chapter of her thesis, which cites The Walking Dead as one of many cultural examples of how apocalyptic fascination helps us process the increased sense that human extinction could become a reality. A pivotal moment in The Walking Dead cable series is when the protagonist proclaims, “We are the walking dead!” Vidergar believes that this comment really defines what the series and fascination is truly about. Although menacing zombies take center stage in nearly every scene of the fictitious drama, Vidergar asserts that zombies are not actual subject of the series. “Zombies are important as a reflection of ourselves,” said Vidergar. “The ethical decisions that the survivors have to make under duress and the actions that follow those choices are very unlike anything they would have done in their normal state of life.” Based on a comic book series, the show, Vidergar said, “allows the audience to work through some of those difficult, threatening ethical dilemmas, or to think about their own capacity for survival. What character would I be like? What would I be willing to do in order to survive?” Although Vidergar’s research has focused on terror, destruction and death, she still sees evidence in her work of optimism about the future. “There is this glimmer of hope that I am really interested in,” said Vidergar. “Even if as a society we have lost a lot of our belief in a positive future and instead have more of an idea of a disaster to come, we still think that we are survivors, we still want to believe that we would survive.” Written by Kelsey Geiser Stanford University

HERE IS A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT “THE WALKING DEAD” SEASON 4

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

by Jeffrey A Swanson / Publisher / Editor / Writer

 

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Low Twelve Bassist Scores Spector Endorsement

Spector Basses

Bassist, singer, and founding member of Low Twelve scored an endorsement deal with Spector Bass Guitars. Pete Altieri is now playing the Alex Webster Signature Model, Euro Series 5XL. PJ Rubal, Artist Relations with Spector, was the one who worked the deal out with Pete for the 5-string bass he was looking for. Pete told him that he needed a brutal low end but with plenty of click to stand out. He also wanted to stick with EMG pickups, as he’s used for many years in Low Twelve. This Spector bass fit the bill and will be a deadly new weapon in Pete’s arsenal. PJ Rubal added:

“It’s great to work with Pete and help him achieve his ultimate bass tone with his new Spector bass.”

Pete Altieri From Low Twelve

Alex Webster Signature Model Euro Series 5XL

Pete started playing bass in 1984 with a cheap Fender copy through a 25-watt combo amp. In the nearly thirty years of metal bass playing, Pete has moved up and continuously upgraded his equipment. He commented, “Getting this Spector bass is like a dream come true. The incredible talent at Spector and the world class woods and hardware have made them among the best in the world. I’ve been happy with the bass I was playing before, but once I plugged the Spector into my bass rig – I was completely blown away at the improvement in my tone. Not to mention a bigger overall presence which will hold down the low in Low Twelve for many years to come!”

The Alex Webster Signature Model is named after the incredibly talented bassist for death metal monsters Cannibal Corpse. The model is only available as a 5-string bass in black gloss. They offer an alternative “drip pattern” in a wicked blood spatter on the body. Pete chose the black gloss without the drip pattern for his first Spector bass.

Low Twelve just celebrated their 15-year anniversary this past summer, and released their fifth CD “Skin in the Game” on Dark Star Records. Low Twelve has played more than 350 shows and toured the US, supporting national acts such as Cannibal Corpse, Gwar, Chimaira, Pro-Pain, Mastodon, Mobile Deathcamp, and more. Low Twelve has also been featured in several horror movie sound tracks to include “Jig Saw”, “Jezebeth II Hour of the Gun”, and most recently two songs on “Butcher Boys” from the creator of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Low Twelve is Pete Altieri (bass/lead vocals), Meister (guitar/vocals), Les Aldridge (guitar), and Travis Waterman (drums). They are based in Bloomington Illinois since their inception in July of 1998.

For more info on the band go to:

www.facebook.com/lowtwelveofficial

www.twitter.com/lowtwelve

For More Info on Spector Basses go to:

www.spectorbass.com

by Jeffrey A Swanson / Publisher / Editor / Writer

 

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