By Nuzhat Naoreen
Late last week, New York magazine's Daily Intel blog jokingly implied that President Obama promised too much when he told the teenage daughter of a 9/11 victim, Payton Wall, that he would help her meet the man of her dreams: Justin Bieber.
According to the New York Post, Payton was inspired to write a 1,500-word letter to the White House detailing her grief about the loss of her father after watching Justin Bieber's documentary "Never Say Never." The Post said the White House responded to Payton (who had also tweeted to Biebs to no avail) the next day and invited her to attend a wreath-placing ceremony at Ground Zero last Friday, which is where Obama told the young girl he'd help her meet Justin.
Now it's one thing to promise world peace or an end to hunger (totally doable, right?), but a meeting with the Biebs? The bloggers at Daily Intel wondered why the prez dared make such a commitment.
"Doesn't he know the PR machine around Justin Bieber is more impenetrable than Donald Trump's ego?" Intel bloggers asked.
Well, apparently not. Justin (whom we're guessing just got wind of the story) responded to the doubters a few hours ago via Twitter (with a link to Intel's post), to make it clear that he planned to help the president keep his promise.
"I think you're wrong. pretty sure President @BarackObama will keep this promise. #payitforward," Justin tweeted.
The Biebs and the president working together? No offense, Mr. Biden, but if we were in your shoes, we'd be a little nervous about that 2012 vice-presidential slot ...
A rapper better known for pushing peace than inspiring violence, Common has caused quite the controversy after being invited to visit the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama reached out to the Chicago rapper asking him to attend a poetry event. But the invitation has caused an uproar over at Fox News, with one of its blogs describing the rapper as "vile"
The real issue seems to be the lyrics of Common's song "A Letter to the Law" in which Common takes jabs at President George W. Bush and his war on terror: "Why they messing with Saddam? Burn a Bush 'cause for peace, he push no button."
Interestingly, the folks at Fox didn't always hate on Common. In a 2009 interview, Fox News reporter Jason Robinson was quoted telling the reporter, "Your music is very positive and you're known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?" Seems like they used to be on the same page.
SEATTLE — With just a few hours left before I had to catch a plane out of town, there was one more stop I had to make on my whirlwind Seattle music history tour.
Driving to a nondescript industrial zone amid anonymous warehouses, I set out to explore the Pearl Jam headquarters.
Not many bands have the kind of well-oiled machine that PJ has built over the past two decades, but their digs should be an inspiration to any kid in his basement hoping to one day rock the masses. This is what hard work, great tunes and a rabid fanbase can get you, a playground all your own where you can offer your diehards an unending supply of high-end swag, including, at the moment, lush collector's box sets of your albums, plenty of which were in evidence on pallets scattered throughout the building.
One of the conference rooms in the smartly appointed offices featured images of the band with various dignitaries, from President Obama to Bruce Springsteen. The most intriguing was a shot of Beyonce and Jay-Z walking through the bowels of Madison Square Garden and gawking at a photo of PJ singer Eddie Vedder. Right next to that was a set-up sequel of Vedder looking equally astonished at a photo of the hip-hop supercouple.
A downstairs warehouse area the size of a basketball court was packed with road cases fresh from Vedder’s recent tour of Australia and shelves of hardware that looked like a small music store. There were dozens of guitar straps, every shape and thickness of guitar strings and boxes upon boxes of harmonicas and picks labeled with the names of the band members, various masks they wear on stage and rack-upon-rack of sound gear.
If rock bands want to pick up a little exposure on television, there are a handful of shows they can visit that will guarantee them effective time on the air. There's the always music-minded "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," the dorm room favorite "Conan" and the indie-friendly, headline-grabbing "The Daily Show." But for some real cross-generational promotion, Nickelodeon's "Yo Gabba Gabba" is the only game in town. The show returns for its third season on Monday, February 7 (the day after the Super Bowl), bringing with it a very special musical guest on its premiere episode. Even though they've been on hiatus for the better part of a year, the Killers will take the stage on the show to perform a tune called "Spaceship Adventure," which plays into the episode's treasure-hunting theme. The nod to Chewbacca is especially fantastic.
The Killers have been officially on hiatus since the beginning of 2010, but they've been pretty prolific anyway. Frontman Brandon Flowers may have recorded and released a solo album (the criminally underrated Flamingo), but the band did manage to get together a handful of times over the course of the year (including a high-profile gig on the lawn of the White House as part of President Obama's Fourth of July celebration). They also recorded and released their annual Christmas single (this one was called "Boots" and was one of the finest in the band's history).
Having rocked Yo Gabba Gabba, the Killers will next make their way into the studio in May of 2011 to work on their new album, which would be their fourth (following 2004's Hot Fuss, 2006's Sam's Town and 2008's Day & Age).
What do you think of the Killers' performance on "Yo Gabba Gabba"? Let us know in the comments!
This Sunday represents one of the best days in sports all year. The Super Bowl is a big deal, but the game itself is usually a total crapshoot (over the course of 44 games, more than half have been insufferably dull) and is often eclipsed by the commercials, the halftime show and the general spectacle of the whole thing. But this Sunday (January 23) features the two conference championship games, both if which not only carry a lot of history but also promise to be evenly matched affairs.
But who will win? MTV News has figured out the formula for figuring out who we'll be seeing in the Super Bowl. First up: The NFC Championship, featuring the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay Packers
Season Arc: Aaron Rodgers finally comes into his own as a quarterback in the post-Favre era.
Permanent Place In Pop Culture: Fans wear cheese on their heads.
Famous Fans: Lil Wayne, Larry the Cable Guy, James Van Der Beek, Erin Andrews
Representative Video: The Pack's "I'm Shinin'"
Record: 12-5 Read More...
In this age of media access with no boundaries at all, it's sort of impossible to contemplate a time when pieces of oratory could actually feel special. President Barack Obama has brought a little bit of that back to the public forum (several of his speeches — including his inaugural address and his "Philadelphia speech" about race — have taken on mythic proportions), but generally speaking, people don't hang on the words of great speakers very much anymore. That's why John F. Kennedy's inaugural address (which he delivered on this day in 1961, exactly half a century ago) still resonates strongly today. Not only was it a speech full of inspiration and substance, but it was also delivered by a master orator.
Kennedy remains the youngest person ever elected to the highest office in the country (and tragically was also the youngest to die after being assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963). He took advantage of a particular political climate (and an extremely weak challenger in Richard Nixon), but he mostly capitalized on the fact that he was a tremendous public speaker who found a way to inspire people during an extremely tumultuous time in our country's history (which sounds sort of familiar, if you think about it). Kennedy's words were powerful, and the key passage from his inaugural address lives on as an immortal mantra today: "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." It's a call to service and thoughtful patriotism that often goes unheeded today, but still retains its meaning.
In honor of Kennedy's immortal words, crank up Living Colour's "Cult of Personality," which borrows the memorable line for a sample during the song's climax. Kennedy may have been a cult of personality, but his intentions were pure and his abilities clear.
The next presidential election in America isn't until November of 2012 (that's a full 23 months away), but there is already talk of who will challenge Barack Obama and what the campaign issues might end up being. Choosing the person who will sit in the Oval Office has become a farcical fiasco, but it began with the best of intentions. On this day in 1789, the nascent United States of America held its first presidential election, which was won by George Washington, the commander in chief of the armed forces during the American Revolution. In his victory, he became the first and only president to nab 100 percent of all the electoral votes. The man he defeated, Continental Congress hero John Adams, took on the office of Vice President.
Of course, even the idealized version of Washington's election isn't perfect. After all, the only people allowed to vote in the very first election were white men who owned property (racial limits on voting weren't lifted until 1870, and women weren't given the right to vote until 1920, a shameful precedent if there ever was one).
Still, Washington himself set a number of precedents that are still held to this day. For example, he insisted that he be referred to as "Mr. President," which simultaneously cut out the regal formality of English courts and put the power of the office above the individual currently holding it. He also refused to run for a third term, which created passive term limits long before there was specific legislation limiting presidents to two terms. He also initially passed up a salary of $25,000 (a fortune at the time) because he was already rich, though took it so as not to create a precedent that would only allow independently wealthy people from holding the office (though that still ends up happening anyway).
In honor of the first presidential election, enjoy Wyclef Jean's "If I Was President."
The release of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, one of the most hotly-anticipated albums of the year. The 13-track LP completes something of a comeback narrative for West that began with the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards (when he was ostracized for crashing the stage during a Taylor Swift acceptance speech and went underground for a while) and was built up over the course of the past year with some key live performances, the "G.O.O.D. Friday" download series and the recently-released short film "Runaway." In fact, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is so dense and full of gems that it's necessary to take each song and break it down to its bare elements. This time around, we take a look at the references on "Power."
King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man"
The signature track from perhaps the definitive prog rock band. Formed in England in 1969 by jazz-influenced guitarist Robert Fripp, the band has touched on elements of hard rock, jam rock, metal and a bunch of elements in between for the past four decades. "21st Century Schizoid Man" comes from their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King and contains multiple references to the Vietnam War.
Former member of Destiny's Child (she was the only member besides Beyoncé Knowles to be with the group for its duration) and current solo star who has put out two albums on her own (with another coming next year). In this context, Kanye refers to "Kelly Rowlands" as a stand-in for dark-skinned girls.
"It was bad timing, but it was absolutely an honest emotion. We all felt like that. We didn't feel like Katrina was a natural disaster. We felt like it as an attack on black people. All you saw was black people on the roof with HELP signs. ... White people felt like that."
-Hip-hop elder statesman Jay-Z, discussing the incident back in 2005 that saw Kanye West declare that George W. Bush didn't "care about black people" during a telethon benefiting victims of Hurricane Katrina. During an hour-long conversation on Howard Stern's Sirius satellite radio show on Monday morning (November 15), Jigga touched on a number of key topics, including his early days in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects, his relationship with his wife Beyoncé and his run-ins with President Obama. But he talked at great length about West, whose words from five years ago have come back around again thanks to George W. Bush's declaration that said moment was one of the worst moments of his presidency.
Jay also addressed West's 2009 MTV Video Music Awards moment with Taylor Swift, which West initiated because he thought Beyoncé had made the superior video. "It's bittersweet in a lot of ways," he said about West's interruption of Swift's acceptance speech. "If we look back, everyone would agree that he was right. It was bad timing. It was not her fault. It's not Taylor Swift's fault. She didn't nominate ... she didn't elect herself. She just sat there and she had a dream and she's seeing that dream being realized, and he had the same dream, so he realizes that now. He was fighting for the integrity of the award, and he knows how hard he works on his videos. It was bad timing, but we agreed."
The relationships between rappers and presidents have always been tenuous at best. Or at least so we thought. This week, there have been two incidents that have united the worlds of hip-hop and presidential politics in ways that nobody really saw coming. Earlier this week, George W. Bush declared that the moment that Kanye West announced "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a telethon was the lowest point of his presidency. West responded in typical fashion, saying that he related to Bush because they both have been under the same kind scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton tipped his hat to Lil Wayne earlier this week in anticipation of the MC's release from Rikers Island. "This guy's smart. And he's got abilities," Clinton said. "And he's got a new chance now. And what I hope is that this is not just something to brand him as a cool guy, but that it'll never happen again to him."
Since Barack Obama has been so tightly associated with Jay-Z, that means that the past three presidents all have some sort of hip-hop association. But what about the other 41? Here are the rappers best associated with each of the previous Commanders-in-Chief.
George H.W. Bush
Lifelong insider. Sort of paranoid. From Texas. It has got to be Scarface.
Artist who switched up his career later in life. Loved candy. Past work became much greater through the prism of his later work. Meet Will Smith.
Bleeding heart whose work became far more significant after he left office. He's the presidential Chuck D.
Unfortunate insider forced to fill in for a departed figurehead. Never really given the chance to succeed. Poor Black Rob, who was supposed to be Bad Boy's next big thing after the death of Biggie Smalls and the incarceration of Shyne.
Accomplished great things before being derailed by legal trouble. Incredibly paranoid. Good with a catch phrase. If he isn't Mystikal, then he's nobody at all.