The American Music Awards are being held in Los Angeles tonight with host Pitbull. Taylor Swift opened up the show with the live debut of her new single “Blank Space.” On Twitter before the show, Swift promised that it was “gonna be crazy. No like, actually crazy.” Judge for yourself. Charli XCX did a medley of “Boom Clap” and “Break The Rules” and brought out some goth-inspired background dancers. Lorde performed her Hunger Games song “Yellow Flicker Beat” on live TV for the first time. Sam Smith and A$AP Rocky did “I’m Not The Only One” and the Weeknd came out with Ariana Grande for “Love Me Harder.” Waka Flocka Flame did a weed-themed commercial for throat drops. Lil Wayne debuted a new track with Christina Milian and Nicki Minaj performed her new single “Bed Of Lies” with Skylar Grey. Swift was handed the first ever Dick Clark Award For Excellence by Diana Ross. See performances plus the winners list below, and check out pictures above.
Gwen Stefani’s third solo album is set to be released next month (though no date has been announced yet) and she’s shared the follow-up to lead single “Baby Don’t Lie.” It’s a Pharrell-produced track called “Spark The Fire,” which the producer previewed during his set at the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival earlier this month. Listen below.
James Blake has been playing a lot of new material on his BBC Radio 1 program over the past few months — including tracks like “200 Press” and “Building It Still” — which demonstrates that he’s hard at work on a follow-up to 2013′s Overgrown. In a recent interview with The Miami New Times, he’s revealed that he’s “probably about seventy percent done” with the new record, which he said should come out in “about five months.” (So around March or April of next year.) “I’m working hard and doing my best — I’m aware that people want to hear this record, so I’m not being complacent,” he said. “I should hope that [the new album] will be a step on, as much as the second one was to the first. I guess I’ve taken a focus on the songwriting again, even more closely, and I’m dabbling in some different production techniques, things I’ve developed.”
Mark Ronson was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live last night and he brought out Bruno Mars and Mystikal to perform their respective songs from his upcoming new album, Uptown Special. Mars sang their lead single “Uptown Funk” in his first SNL appearance since 2012 (when he performed “Locked Out Of Heaven,” which Ronson co-produced), and Mystikal came out in a surprise appearance to rap over “Feel Right” while Mars was relegated to background singing. Ronson’s staging had an impressive retro-funk feel, complete with bright lights, backup singers, and a horn section. Watch below.
Another new Charli XCX song has surfaced from her upcoming sophomore album Sucker. “Breaking Up” is another punk-inspired song more in the vein of the recently released (and pretty great) “Gold Coins” rather than the sugary sweetness of her solo hit “Boom Clap.” The chorus is pretty damn great: “You say you love me/ Okay, let’s rock.” Listen below.
Recent Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Peter Gabriel debuted a new song at a show in Torino, Italy on Thursday night. It’s apparently called “What Lies Ahead” and it opened the acoustic portion of his Back To Front tour. This is the third new original song he’s played in concert since the Oscar-nominated WALL•E theme “Down To Earth” in 2008, though he has released many covers in that time. Watch the performance below.
All through November, Red Bull Sound Select is running the event 30 Days In LA, during which they schedule a show a night, always at a different venue, bundling some of their own RBSS artists with artists like Run The Jewels, Phosphorescent, Cut Copy, and a bunch of others. Last night, it was Air Review, Little Tybee, and Kurt Vile & the Violators at the First Unitarian Church in LA. It was a unique setting for these kinds of things — this is actually a functioning church, with a courtyard between the main building and a large meeting room that served as a bar. Inside, the vibe was more intimate than your typical club show, with seating and chandeliers and the bands playing on a low, small stage. A Red Bull logo hung behind them, while #30DaysInLA was projected onto the walls on either side of the stage.
Jon Hopkins did a BBC Essential mix last night featuring music from Dan Deacon, Panda Bear, Joy Orbison, and an unreleased track of his own. The track is called “Interlude” and shows up a few minutes into the mix. “It feels amazing to be part of a mix series that has been going for 20 years, and to join a line up that has included so many people whose music i admire,” he wrote. “I put a lot of work into this, trying to showcase the tracks that have influenced my recent album and live shows, and trying to build a real musical structure and journey over the 2 hours. I really hope everyone enjoys it.” You can listen to the whole mix here — the unreleased track comes in around the 9 minute mark.