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    11 Random Thoughts About the Random Grammys

    The Grammy nominations were announced last night, with their perplexing, annual variety of laudable choices (see: Arcade Fire, the Black Keys, Florence & the Machine), surprising omissions of chart-topping acts (Ke$ha, Alicia Keys, Train) and stellar albums (LCD Soundsystem), random old people (Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock -- again!), and people you'd never heard of (Esperanza Spalding for Best New Artist, for example). Here, we weigh in on the Grammy slate's hits, misses, and everything in between. Check out a recap of the nominees here. Award that will not be won by Esperanza Spalding: Best New Artist In any other year, chart-storming rapper Drake, or even British indie diva Florence and the Machine could be shoo-ins. But surely these guys, and all Grammy voters, fear the Bieber.

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    Lykke Li Debuts New Songs in New York

    Le Poisson Rouge is one of many intimate music venues in New York City, but one of very few that offers the option of performing in the round. Fast-rising Swedish singer Lykke Li opted for such a setup last night for her solo U.S. show of 2010, and the format is so suited to her music and her charisma that she'd do well to take it on the road. Hey, it worked for Def Leppard. The effect is something like a concert staged inside the world's most fashionable drum circle.

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    Inside Kanye West's Surprise NYC Club Show

    A lot of ink has been spilled the past two weeks regarding one Kanye West of Chicago and what it all means and how his PR gaffes and his unimpeachable art are hopelessly, sublimely intertwined, the yin and yang of the same rampant ego.

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    El-P Joins Das Racist Onstage at SPIN Office Gig

    It would have been easy enough for rising Brooklyn rappers Das Racist to ride their breakthrough single, "Combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut," to mini-fame -- yeah, it's a mind-numbing gag and an Internet phenomenon, and what better way to comment on mind-numbing corporate omnipresence? -- but Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez know that's a one-way ticket to the novelty bin. There's joke-rap, then there's good rap that just happens to be funny. You don't want to be on the wrong side of that line. The duo, along with their prodigiously mustachioed hypeman Dap, weren't exactly serious during their five-song set at SPIN's in-office concert series, SPINhouse Live, presented by Amstel Light Wednesday night, but that doesn't mean they don't mean to be taken seriously.

  • Kings of Leon Ain't Goin' Nowhere

    Kings of Leon Ain't Goin' Nowhere

    Now that they're on top -- the No. 1 targets for snarky haters and incontinent birds alike -- the Followill boys plan to stay there the same way they got there: by not giving a damn what anyone, of any species, thinks.[Magazine Excerpt] Caleb Followill's ass is four different shades of purple. It is the first of September and the Kings of Leon frontman has pulled down his pants, as rock stars are wont to do, showing off his war wounds, contusions suffered while diving off a yacht in Italy a week ago. But he's gotten off easy compared to his older brother Nathan, who tore the labrum in his right shoulder adjusting a catamaran sail and who needs said labrum to beat things with a stick for a living, and his cousin Matthew, who broke his pinkie toe -- black like a rotten banana, the nail painted Hulk-green for that extra gangrenous flair -- in a futile effort to save a falling beer.

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    8 Notable Moments from Matador's Vegas B-Day!

    It was somehow fitting that the Matador at 21 Lost Weekend at the Palms in Las Vegas coincided with an appearance by renowned DJ Pauly D and his camera crew -- after two decades of thriving just to the side of popular culture, why wouldn't the label do the same at its own 21st birthday party? Like the anniversary bashes Sub Pop and Merge threw for themselves in the past couple years, the event saw beloved dormant acts coming out of retirement for one last job (Chavez, mid-'90s vintage Guided By Voices, Come) alongside incoming freshmen (Harlem, Perfume Genius and Esben and the Witch, who won't even release their Matador debut until next year) reliable mainstays (Yo La Tengo, Cat Power, New Pornographers) and alumni(Spoon, Superchunk).

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    Guided By Voices End Matador's B-Day Weekend

    It's no stretch of the imagination to say that, for someone like Robert Pollard, reforming an incarnation of a band that existed for a couple years and a couple albums in the '90s inside a career that currently sees a steady annual output of 5-6 albums, may not be the height of inspiration. He is acutely aware and respectful of his past, yet never so much so that he would be satisfied by it. Closing out the Matador at 21 anniversary fiesta at the Palms in Las Vegas with bandmates he hasn't shared a stage with since 1996 may not be Uncle Bob's idea of productive time, but for a crowd numbed from some 52 hours of thinking about how fat they've gotten, this was the fireworks at the end of a perfect party. Guided By Voices has been a brand for much longer than it's been a band. It is a name pegged to his ever-revolving supporting cast, until he chose to stop using that name in 2001.

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    Words of Wisdom: Nick Cave

    The Grinderman leader, author, and all-time badass is funny. And scary. Scary funny. "I can tell that you're trying to ask me a question," sighs Nick Cave, not impolitely, "but I'm not entirely certain what it is." Safe to say, Cave is not to blame for this confusion. He, along with his longtime drummer Jim Sclavunos, has been holding court in a posh downtown Manhattan suite all day, fielding queries of varying degrees of inanity about his 33-year, genre- and medium-spanning career.

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    The Five Biggest Moments of the VMAs

    If the talk of last year's MTV Video Music Awards was Kanye West and Taylor Swift, then the talk of this year's MTV Video Music Awards was how Kanye West and Taylor Swift were the talk of last year's MTV Video Music Awards. Let's call it a transitional year. But it's safe to say that there weren't many moments in 2010's show that will be recalled on next year's show or, really, on Tuesday. From the choice of Chelsea Handler as host -- she seemed as bewildered to have that gig as the audience was, fumbling through punchlines scavenged from Bruce Vilanch's wastebasket in 2002 and making clipped, awkward jokes in which she dared to make fun of Sugar Ray and the Jersey Shore kids for being cultural afterthoughts -- through the show's generally meta tone, it was almost as if MTV couldn't bear failing to top last year's headline-worthiness, so they didn't really try.

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    Jeffrey Ross Makes His Case to Be 'Idol' Judge

    While the American Idol rumor mill continues to circle around J. Lo, Shania, and Steven Tyler, a dark horse has emerged, via a grass-roots Twitter campaign, as a write-in candidate to fill Simon Cowell's v-neck: potty-mouthed roastmaster Jeffrey Ross. To prepare him for a potential job interview with show creators Nigel Lythgoe, Simon Fuller, and the suits at Fox, we asked Ross, a self-proclaimed Idol junkie, about his qualifications and references. How did this #JeffreyRoss4IdolJudge campaign get started?As soon as Simon announced last year that he was leaving, I started getting a lot of Twitter and Facebook messages saying I'd be a great replacement. Then it got real last week-I started re-tweeting them and it happened organically. Then TMZ picked up on it and John Mayer and Jimmy Kimmel endorsed me.

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