• Japan's Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Bids for Stateside Pop Stardom on 'Pika Pika Fantajin'

    Japan's Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Bids for Stateside Pop Stardom on 'Pika Pika Fantajin'

    Pop is supposedly a universal language, although getting American audiences to believe that has been rough going—a few songs that dabble in Spanish have made the leap to pop radio playlists, but they're anomalous enough that Los Del Rio's "Macarena," which topped the charts some 18 years ago, remains one of the bigger tracks to cross over.Which brings us to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, a Japanese model-slash-singer who's become well-known among North American music fans for her hyperkinetic fashion sense and exploded-drawing pop music, both of which balance notions of "cute" with the grotesque in ways that are as glee-inducing as they are unsettling.

  • Prolific Hitmaker Sia Reclaims the Spotlight on '1000 Forms of Fear'

    Prolific Hitmaker Sia Reclaims the Spotlight on '1000 Forms of Fear'

    The Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler has had one of her works score the ending of a prestige TV show; she's released five studio albums, a few live sets, and a greatest-hits album.

  • Wye Oak

    Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner Talks Ditching the Guitars for the Resilient, Restorative New 'Shriek'

    Shriek, the fourth album from Wye Oak (out next month on Merge), opens with a jittery keyboard line, making plain the Baltimore duo's shift away from the guitar textures for which it had become well known, particularly after the success of 2011 breakthrough Civilian. That keyboard eventually folds into a stately, guiding bass line, an opening that doubles as a neat metaphor for Wye Oak's new direction and long-evident skill at navigating the indie-rock salt mines: They'll be at SXSW again this year, standing out as usual.The essential appeal of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack's music has, since their earliest days as a band, rested in their ability to craft rich, indelible pop songs, and the switched-up instrumentation on Shriek — not to mention Wasner's rich alto — only shows how strong the duo's songwriting foundation has become.

  • SPIN's Best Music Videos of 2013

    SPIN's Best Music Videos of 2013

    Music videos never really went away — they just became things that people have to seek out, instead of programming that's beamed into our living rooms by basic-cable channels. But they gained a renewed sense of importance this year; in February, Billboard started using streaming-video stats on its song charts, which meant that someone quitting her job to an old Kanye track or people dancing for 30 seconds to Baauer's "Harlem Shake" could help provide a chart jolt. Here are 10 proper videos that stuck out in 2013 because of their creativity or their iconoclastic nature (not to mention their copious female nudity, always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser).

  • Lady Gaga's Half-Cocked, Half-Great 'ARTPOP' Is Never Less Than Lovable

    Lady Gaga's Half-Cocked, Half-Great 'ARTPOP' Is Never Less Than Lovable

    As the culmination of a seemingly endless promotional cycle that involved onstage quick-change, naked meditation with Marina Abramović, and a wig that sent gossip bloggers scuttling to figure out what the purpose of a merkin might be, the first few moments of Lady Gaga's ARTPOP are spectacular: "I killed my former and / Left her in the trunk on Highway 10," she intones grandly over the spaghetti-Western guitars that usher in "Aura." A rejection of persona from one of the biggest pop stars in the world, on an album that immediately calls attention to its artistic aspirations? Can it get more exciting than this?Unfortunately, the answer is that it can get less exciting. As "Aura" unfurls, it reveals itself as an utter mess, with Gaga laughing maniacally and bleating a curiously uncatchy chorus over a kitchen-sink musical bed courtesy of Israeli trancetronica duo Infected Mushroom.

  • Lorde / Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

    Lorde's 'Pure Heroine' Is Awash in (Possibly Fake) Teen-Pop-Star Ennui

    Pop music is a young person's game, which is why one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to an up-and-comer is that she or he is "only 16." American Idol judges reserve such praise for those singers whose interpretive skill goes beyond their years. Justin Bieber got a lot of "Hey, he's a real musician" condescension when he showed off his drum prowess back in 2011.Which brings us to Lorde, the brooding New Zealander (born Ella Yelich-O'Connor) who zoomed into the pop world this summer with her leftfield hit "Royals," and who is, indeed, 16 years old. The spare, downtempo track, currently at No.

  • Kells / Photo via Getty

    R. Kelly Reveals Future of 'Trapped in the Closet' at Amazing NYC Screening

    R. Kelly might have serious pipes, but his magnum opus, the multi-part, multi-character, multi-crazy-plotline soap opera in song Trapped in the Closet, came out of little more than what he called "silliness.""I don't have a job," he said at last night's premiere of new Trapped installments in New York, "so I sit in the studio all day and think of something stupid to do."The twists and turns taken by Trapped — in which a one-night stand opens the door to a vat of intrigue — only get wilder in these new parts. They focus primarily on characters played by Kelly, including Sylvester, whose hiding in the closet began the whole sordid affair, as well as the stutter-prone Pimp Lucius, the crotchety Randolph, the hucksterish Rev. Mosley James Evans, and a few new characters, including a gangster with a Don Corleone rasp and bullets for his teeth. (Michael Kenneth Williams, a.k.a.

  • Based on a True Story: Solange

    Solange, 'True EP' (Terrible)

    On this seven-song collaboration with Blood Orange's Dev Hynes, Solange Knowles is once again working in throwback mode — although this time her touchstones come from 1986, the year she was born. True wraps the mid-MTV Era's biggest hits in gauze, rendering them dimly recognizable underneath Beyoncé's sister's steady voice: "Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work" has a jaunty beat that brings to mind Madonna's already retro-soaked "True Blue," while "Locked in Closets" is muted but jittery, as though Knowles and Hynes stripped down Janet Jackson's "Control" to its beat, then added pocket-calculator synths.There's a simultaneously appealing and slightly off-putting looseness to all this, conjuring the sort of drowsiness where you'd rather sleep for a week straight than let in more heartbreak.

  • On this album, Bobo goes unhonked.

    Aerosmith, 'Music From Another Dimension!' (Columbia)

    The run-up to Aerosmith's 15th studio album has involved a lot of rib-nudging and "remember when"-ing. "Lover Alot," one of the first songs to surface, is a nasty rave-up that sounds like it was excavated from some 40-year-old session tapes. The album was recorded with Jack Douglas, who was behind the boards for the Boston band's rock-solid mid-'70s run (Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, Rocks). The DVD packaged with the deluxe version contains live takes on "Same Old Song and Dance" (get it?) and two other tracks from those glory days.This retro-fetishism is perhaps understandable, what with the band nearly coming apart a few years back. Ever-mouthy frontman Steven Tyler fell offstage during a 2009 South Dakota show, went to rehab that winter, and — after the band auditioned for its own Ripper Owens while Tyler recuperated — joined the American Idol judging panel in 2010.

  • Miguel / Getty

    Miguel, 'Kaleidoscope Dream' (Bystorm/RCA)

    During the run-up to his second full-length, R&B polymath Miguel pre-released many of its songs piecemeal, through both his free online EP series Art Dealer Chic, and his label's pair of "official" three-song teasers (subtitled The Water Series and The Air Series). But even with those sneak peeks, the full Kaleidoscope Dream is startling and invigorating, a fully formed statement from an artist hungrily surging toward the front of pop music's creative pack."Adorn," the erotically charged opening track, first single, and (yes!) radio hit, kicks us off, flaunting a sizable debt to Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." Yet its details — like the off-kilter vocal echoes and buried-in-the-mix synth bursts — ground it firmly in the present day.

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