Category: Black Eyed Peas

Eminem, Usher and others play Activision's star-studded event at Staples

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Of the half-dozen acts that played during Monday night's mega event at Staples Center, perhaps any one of them alone could have filled the arena. But together, those genre-spanning superstars produced a fantastic and unforgettable stage show for the fairly intimate crowd.

Also, there might have been something about a video game.

The invite-only event was put on by Activision Blizzard, the Santa Monica outfit that makes such hit games as Call of Duty, Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft. Among the first nighttime events for the kickoff of this year's E3 video game expo in Los Angeles, Activision somehow managed to top Microsoft's Project Natal spectacle from the night before, which called upon the ever-mystifying Cirque du Soleil.

How a video game publisher managed to book Staples Center on the eve of the Lakers' crucial Game 6 in the NBA finals was a mystery soon forgotten after things got rolling. Eminem was the apparent headliner of the night, nabbing the longest playtime and the last punch and kick onstage, but it wouldn't be at all fair to call those who preceded him opening acts.

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Will.i.am on rave culture: "The underground is bigger than the surface. That's what people don't understand."

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Sunday's Times features a story on the vitality of the electronic music scene in Los Angeles, and the many festivals and parties arriving this summer. There's the Electric Daisy Carnival at Exposition Park and Memorial Coliseum; two Hard events at the downtown Los Angeles State Historic Park; in August, the Love Festival, also at Exposition Park; and countless smaller parties -- including Lightning in a Bottle, which concludes Sunday -- dotting the summer calendar season.

In the story, Black Eyed Peas co-founder and producer will.i.am discussed his experiences discovering the first-wave rave scene in the early 1990s. In fact, he and Electric Daisy Carnival founder Pasquale Rotella went to high school together (Palisades Charter High School), and attended the same early raves and club nights (the most popular being Club What?).

Here's an edited transcript of the conversation. Will was on the phone in Europe while on a break from Black Eyed Peas' 100-date summer tour. The band lands in Birmingham, England, on Tuesday for two dates, then continues on to, among other cities, Paris; Johannesburg, South Africa; Barcelona, Spain; Venice,Italy; Athens; and Edinburgh, Scotland. Sounds like a nice summer.

L.A. Times: It seems that right now there's a convergence going on in pop music among hip-hop, R&B, electronic dance music and pop. We're hearing a lot of old rave sounds and house samples, and the hits are at much faster tempos.

will.i.am.: There's not a convergence from an industry standpoint. The music industry isn't converging toward dance music. Dance music is dance music. It's been around since disco -- and way before disco. But there's different versions of dance music. Disco is the first technology music. And what I mean is that "disco" music is named after discs, because when technology grew to where they didn't need a band in the clubs, the DJ played it on a disc. The DJ is a disc jockey. So it's technology.

And then, hip-hop was an advanced version of disco, because they rapped over a disco beat. Hip-hop was fast, originally. It was always fast music. They rapped over disco. [He starts beatboxing the bass line of "Good Times," by Chic, sampled in the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"]. That hip-hop song was an uptempo disco sample.

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Live review: Black Eyed Peas turn Staples Center into intergalactic playground

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There was a moment at the Black Eyed Peas concert Tuesday night at Staples Center when the screams from the audience were enough to shatter glass and earlobes, and it had nothing to do with the powerhouse group.

In fact, the moment occurred during opener Ludacris’ set as the rapper introduced special guest Justin Bieber, the precocious pop sensation who dominates the trending topic stream of Twitter on a daily basis. The 16-year-old took the stage to perform his hit “Baby” with every bit of swagger as the single-named pop stars he is now bumping off the charts.

With the crowd at its feet, and a few girls close by tweeting their hearts out, this was the moment that set the tone for what would be a night of sensory overload as the group responsible for dominating the pop charts last year with its album “The E.N.D.” hit the stage.

Tuesday was the last of two dates the Peas played in Los Angeles, and there wasn’t a single sign of fatigue as they played hit after hit.

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'Off the beaten Slash path': Former Guns N' Roses guitarist talks of teaming with Fergie, Adam Levine for solo effort

SLASH_FERGIE_LAT_$There are few vocalists, said Slash, who can inspire him to trot out a signature Guns N' Roses song such as "Sweet Child o' Mine." At the top of that shortlist, perhaps to the surprise of many of the guitar-slinger's longtime fans, sits Fergie. While the singer behind "My Humps" would seem to be a long way removed from the hard-rock stud, Slash defined the Black Eyed Peas vocalist as a "closet rock 'n' roll singer."

Though it wasn't the first time he performed the song with Fergie, Slash and the Black Eyed Peas ran through "Sweet Child" when the pop band opened for U2 at the Rose Bowl in late 2009. It's Fergie's ability, said Slash, to sing in the higher notes associated with the enigmatic Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose that persuaded Slash to perform the song in front of a stadium audience that was estimated to top 95,000 people. 

"That was a first for me, to go out and pull out ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ in front of however many thousands of people at the Rose Bowl with a different group," Slash said. "I had never really played that song with anyone besides Guns N' Roses. Fergie asked me if I would do it with her, and she’s honestly one of the only singers I would trust that song to." 

She's one of more than a dozen vocalists who will appear on the guitarist's upcoming self-titled solo effort, set for release this April. It's the artist's first work since Velvet Revolver fizzled out in 2008, and first to bear his name since his two albums with Slash's Snakepit, who last released an album in 2000. The upcoming effort follows a pattern defined by another guitar hero, Santana. Slash is paired with a lineup of multi-genre artists, including Ozzy Osbourne, Kid Rock and Marooon 5's Adam Levine

"I wasn’t trying to consciously bridge any generation gaps or to try to be eclectic," Slash said. "I wrote the music first, and I took the different styles of music that I was writing and farmed it out to singers who I thought might like it or be appropriate for. So for instance, I’d say, ‘Adam Levine would sound amazing on this.‘ So while that may be way off the beaten Slash path, I knew that’s what I would sound great."

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Don't let anyone say the Grammys don't have an impact

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As a promotional showcase, the Grammy Awards remain a force. Early results from Nielsen SoundScan show that artists who performed on the CBS telecast are experiencing a relatively major sales boost. With just a couple days of sales tracking, artists are such as Beyoncé and Pink are doubling their sales from last week.

The Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift and the Zac Brown Band are also significantly up. Granted, these are artists who don't necessarily need any sales help -- we're talking artists who are all already in the seven-figure range -- but the Grammys still, apparently, have power.

Now imagine if they used their forces for good, showcasing nominated artists such as Phoenix and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, rather than presenting us with the nightmare of what Green Day melded with a full Broadway cast and an orchestra would sound like. 

Yet looking ahead, the Black Eyed Peas are on track for a stellar week with the Interscope set "The E.N.D.": Over four days last week (Monday through Thursday), the album sold 18,000 copies. In just two days this week (Tuesday and Wednesday), the set scanned 26,000 copies.

Swift's Big Machine effort "Fearless" is also up in the same period, tallying 16,000 this week versus 13,000 for the four-day span last week.

Beyoncé's "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" (Columbia) is up to 10,000 from 5,000; Zac Brown Band's Atlantic effort "The Foundation" has a light boost, selling 12,000 in a two-day span this week versus 8,000 heading into last weekend; and Pink's "Funhouse" is on track for a solid week as well. She sold just 3,000 during the week last week, and sold 7,000 in two days this week.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Pink. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Far East Movement hits the dance floor

Asian American hip-hop hasn't received quite the props that it deserves. Far East Movement has come along to change all of that.

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Few local venues are tougher to pack for an up-and-coming artist than the Art Deco digs of the 4,000-capacity Palladium. But on the third stop of the Party Rock Tour, the dance floor of the recently refurbished theater resembled a multiracial wailing wall of teenage girls, largely there for the Koreatown-based Asian American rap quartet Far East Movement and urban radio royalty LMFAO.

Two hours before showtime, the mention of Far East's name by a braying master of ceremonies elicited cheers audible all the way backstage, where Kev Nish, Prohgress, J-Spliff and DJ Virman had congregated in advance of the only hometown date of their first nationwide tour. Organized chaos reigned: Representatives from Interscope Records stood point; a sasquatch-sized security guard barged in to explain show logistics; a camera crew barraged the group with questions about whether they feed off the crowd's energy during their performances.

Had they waited a bit, the answer to that  query would have been obvious. During a frenzied 30-minute set from Far East Movement, in which the musicians sported Kanye West-style Shutter Shades, futuristic chrome-colored hoodies, astronaut helmets and the occasional gorilla costume, it was clear they were drawing inspiration from the  audience. Cheering reached its zenith when FM played its hit single "Girls on the Dance Floor," which rose to No. 1 on the Power 106(105.9 FM) playlist this summer.

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Beyonce, Taylor Swift on first slate of Grammy Awards show performers

Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, the Black Eyed Peas, Maxwell and Lady Antebellum, who have a collective 32 Grammy nominations for 2009 among them, will perform at the awards show, which is scheduled for Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

They’re the first acts confirmed to perform during the CBS telecast, which will include a fan-participation element in which anyone can upload a clip of themselves singing along with the Peas' hit “I Gotta Feeling,” some of which will be incorporated into the group’s Grammy show performance. Deadline for submission is Jan. 15, and videos can be uploaded to either of two sites created for the contest by CBS and the Grammys.

-- Randy Lewis
 

Guess who's getting Grammy nominations?

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As the music industry descends upon Nashville today for the Country Music Assn. Awards, the Recording Academy sent a subtle reminder that its Grammy Awards are just around the corner. The first crop of artists performing at the Dec. 2 Grammy nomination prime-time special, the double explanation-pointed "The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown to Music's Biggest Night," have been revealed.

Television regulars the Black Eyed Peas, R&B veteran Maxwell and adult country duo Sugarland will all appear on the CBS special, which will air live for the East Coast at 9 p.m. Traditionally, artists who appear at the unveiling of the Grammy nominations are guaranteed a nod or two, but the Recording Academy broke from such a predictable mold last year.

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By the numbers: U2's 360 concert at the Rose Bowl and that giant screen

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U2 put on one heckuva performance at the Rose  Bowl Sunday night, but it was hard to ignore the elephant in the room.

There was one aspect of the production that literally overshadowed Bono's salience and kept the crowds talking for hours into the night -- that huge screen!

Willie Williams, the designer of the round screen, told The Times that the scale is "absolutely the least interesting thing about it."

We're not so sure about that.

Pop & Hiss caught up with Barco, the company that manufactured the massive LED screen that, international music sensations aside, is practically the centerpiece of the 360 Tour. We gathered some statistics on the production that will probably blow your mind.

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Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson dominate American Music Awards nominations [UPDATED]

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A fast-rising country superstar and a fallen pop icon dominate the nominees for the 2009 American Music Awards. Taylor Swift, who was the bestselling artist of 2008, leads all nominees for the fan-voted gala with six, including recognition in the artist of the year field. Yet in major categories she'll be up against sentimental favorite Michael Jackson, who has dominated sales and headlines since his death June 25.

Jackson received five nominations, including artist of the year, favorite pop/rock album, favorite soul/R&B artist and favorite soul/R&B album. Unlike the industry-voted Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards base their nominations on sales and radio data from Nielsen. Expect the American Music Awards to play out as a tribute of sorts to Jackson, allowing his 2003 greatest hits package "Number Ones" to score a nod for favorite album, where it will compete against Lady Gaga's "The Fame" and Swift's "Fearless."

The American Music Awards will air live for the East Coast from downtown's Nokia Theatre on ABC at 8 p.m. Nov. 22. The awards are determined by onling voting from fans.

After Jackson's death, his "Number Ones" surged to the top of the charts. It sold more than 440,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, in the 10 days following the star's death. It may very well end up as 2009's top-selling album. Jackson was featured heavily on the first-ever American Music Awards broadcast in 1974, and has a total of 20 American Music Awards trophies as a solo artist, including one for artist of the century, according to an AMA spokeswoman.

In 2009, SoundScan reports that Jackson's "Number Ones" has moved a total of 1.9 million copies. Swift's "Fearless" ranks as the year's second-best selling album thus far, having sold 1.8 million copies.

Swift remains on track for a blessed award season. After securing an entertainer of the year nomination at the Country Music Awards, Swift snared American Music Award nominations in major country and pop categories. In addition to artist of the year and favorite album, she's up for favorite country female artist, as well as favorite pop/rock female artist.

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