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Day in Pop Report for 04/11/2016


Today's Top Stories


Ariana Grande Previews Nicki Minaj Collaboration

(Radio.com) Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj are collaborating again, and Grande teased a snippet of their next track on Snapchat. The yet-untitled song is one of four collaborations on Grande's new album "Dangerous Woman."

The clip is short, but Nicki can be heard warming up while Grande sings some opening bars: "I've been out all night, I've been out all day." Fans will be able to hear the full collaboration when the album is released on May 20th.

Grande has unveiled snippets of "Let Me Love You" featuring Lil Wayne and announced another collaboration with Macy Gray for the album. A fourth song with Future has also been confirmed for Dangerous Woman.

Listen to the new snippet here.

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Jake Owen Performs Unusual Merle Haggard Tribute Concert

(Radio.com) The tributes to Merle Haggard have only just started. On Thursday (April 7th), Jake Owen donned a thick sweater, grabbed his guitar and gave fans a peak into his kitchen when he held a Facebook Live session honoring Haggard. Not content to sing just one song, Owen performed for 25 minutes.

Owen shared, "Yesterday, when I heard Mr. Merle Haggard passed away, it was one of the first times in a long time that someone that I really, strongly listened to growing up and throughout my career and someone I enjoyed listening to their voice was gone. It's funny, I sit around the house late at night like this and I tend to play his songs a lot. I loved the ease that he put into his music, but also the reality that he had in his music and the honesty. So I thought tonight I would play you guys a few Merle Haggard songs the best I can."

He spoke quietly because he confessed his daughter Pearl was asleep elsewhere in the house, and he didn't want to wake her up. Owen started off by playing one of his favorite Haggard songs, "My Own Kind of Hat" and followed it up with "Going Where the Lonely Go," 'It's Been a Great Afternoon," 'Heaven Was a Drink of Wine" and 'I'll Just Stay Here and Drink."

By the end of the session, over 10,000 people had signed on to watch (via Taste of Country). Watch the impromptu tribute concert here.

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Blake Shelton Reveals New Song 'Friends' From 'Angry Birds' Soundtrack

(Radio.com) Blake Shelton will be the voice for a country-boy pig in the upcoming The Angry Birds Movie; he also wrote a song for the film. The track, "Friends," is catchy, uptempo and country-fied, featuring banjo, mouth harp and fiddle.

'Just some roughed-up desperadoes / Hanging tough through thick and thin / Kicking up dust wherever we go," Shelton sings in the song's chorus. 'I can see that you and me are gonna be friends / To the end, you and me are gonna be friends."

The Angry Birds Movie is based on the video game, developed by Rovio Entertainment, in which players sling birds at pigs. 'I can write things about myself and my life," Shelton told TheBoot.com. 'But I don't have a whole lot of experience being shot out of a slingshot at pigs."

The singer and The Voice coach does, however, have plenty of experience playing Angry Birds. 'I wish I had a dollar for every minute I lost playing that freaking game, you know?" he adds. 'Well, I guess I do now."

When asked about developing his character, Earl, Shelton says, 'They kept saying, 'More country!' I felt like I was doing a voice-over for Dukes of Hazzard." Read more and listen to the new song here.

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Nick Jonas Streaming New Song 'Champagne Problems'

(Radio.com) Nick Jonas' upcoming album Last Year Was Complicated is scheduled for release June 10, but the pop star has just posted, "Champagne Problems," the second track from the record.

The breakup anthem's mournful, incredulous lyrics are juxtaposed with throbbing club beats, providing both dance groove and lyrical substance. After teasing a snippet of the cut on Twitter, Jonas posted the song on his Vevo channel Friday morning.

Jonas talked about the song during his recent Reddit AMA: "'Champagne Problems' is a song about sharing a bottle of champagne with my now ex as we were breaking up to kind of close that chapter," he said. "It was sad and slightly sweet at the same time. It was a range of emotions and feelings and I think this song, although it sounds like a party song, actually has some of the deepest lyrics on the record." Check out the song here.

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Death Cab for Cutie Release 'Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)' Video

(Radio.com) Death Cab for Cutie have released an animated video for their new single "Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)." The video follows a man who rises to fame after a shooting star hits him square in the forehead and leaves a star-shaped mark. But his 15-minutes doesn't last long, as other people quickly follow suit by undergoing laser surgery to be just as special.

From there, the original 'Star Man' begins making increasingly self-destructive decisions in order to differentiate himself from the masses. With every change he makes, however, people quickly follow suit. It's an interesting comment about individualism, conformity and technology's affect on people's lives that reflects the song's many platitudes.

The video marks the third collaboration with Walter Robot, who was the mind behind the band's 2008's single "Grapevine Fires." Speaking about the new video Robot said in a press release, "This one definitely feels more mature but also the oddest of the three. The idea started from a sketch Bill made of a dumb looking guy with a hole in his head." Watch it here.

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Carly Rae Jepsen Releases 'Boy Problems' Video

(Radio.com) Carly Rae Jepsen and will.i.am must be tapping into their collective unconscious, because they each released music videos for their similarly titled songs on the same day. Jepsen's tune, "Boy Problems," is less about celebrating love, and more about what takes place in the aftermath of a bad breakup.

Sung about the friendships that undergo strain when a gal can't stop talking about her boy problems, the video presents a divide between those experiencing boy problems and the friends who are sick of hearing about them. Stocked full of imagery-like a girl lying in a coffin texting-the video's visuals are a direct result of Canadian artist and photographer Petra Collins.

She actually reached out to Jepsen and asked to direct the music video. "What she didn't know is that I had been following her online via Instagram and other outlets for a while and had become a HUGE fan of her photographs and artwork, " Jepsen said about working with Collins. "I think she has a very gifted eye for a refreshing look at youth and beauty and the way she plays with color always stands out to me. So the answer was an immediate YES!" Read more and watch the clip here.

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ASAP Ferg Streams New EDM-Inspired Track 'Hungry Ham'

(Radio.com) A$AP Ferg has released a new tune from his upcoming album, Always Strive and Prosper. Called "Hungry Ham" and featuring Skrillex and Crystal Caines, the track features a more EDM feel thanks in large part to Skrillex's contribution.

The song focuses on a neighborhood A$AP Ferg calls "Hungry Ham." "Grandma used to call me Mickey Mouse, but I'm the rat," A$AP Ferg raps in the opening verses. Even though the track has a high-energy, bouncy feel, the lyrics continue exploring darker territory. A$AP Ferg raps about seeing his family members smoke crack, and other traumatizing experiences thanks to growing up on his particular block.

Considering the other tracks he's released of late, including "World is Mine" featuring Big Sean, it's emotional material from the rapper. But the melody and rhythm juxtapose what could be a woe-is-me attitude by reclaiming what he's experienced and exuding strength instead. Check it out here.

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Chris Rock Photo Sparks New Andre 3000 Album Rumors

(Radio.com) Andre 3000, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jack White, Q-Tip and Jarobi White walk into a studio together. No, that's not the start to the world's coolest joke, but it might hint at what's happening on the music-front where Andre 3000 is concerned.

Rock posted a photo with the above-mentioned men at a recording studio, sharing that they were all "hard at work" on Andre 3000's new album. Considering Outkast's past albums have contained brief skits in between tracks, it could very well be that Rock and Chappelle are contributing humorous material to round out the music.

Or the whole thing could be one of Rock's pranks. A Jack White fan Instagram shared a photo from the group's time together, writing, "Jack spent the night at Q Tip's house hanging with Chris Rock, Andre 3000, Dave Chapelle, and others to celebrate Phife Dawg." If the group wasn't there recording Andre 3000's album, but instead celebrating Phife Dawg's life together (after all attending his memorial) that makes equal sense. See the post here.

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will.i.am Releases 'Boys & Girls' Video

(Radio.com) Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am released a new single and video for "Boys & Girls" featuring Pia Mia. The song is an anthem about love in all its myriad forms.

"The girls wanna play with boys, and the boys wanna play girls/ And the girls wanna play with girls, boys wanna play with boys/ Oh boy don't you love this girl," Pia Mia sings on the chorus.

As for the video, it looks like 2000-era Apple iPod commercial on acid. Featuring will.i.am and dancers gyrating against pinks, blues and yellows as their profiles multiply and shift, it's a colorful-if trippy-interpretation. Besides will.i.am and Pia Mia, the video also features appearances from many social and new media stars, including Instagram icon India Love, Arianny Celeste, Jack Baran and more. Read more here.

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Maxwell Returns With 'Lake by the Ocean'

(Radio.com) Neo-soul pioneer Maxwell has returned with "Lake by the Ocean," his first single in seven years. The song will appear on his upcoming album BlackSUMMERS'night, which is scheduled for release July 1.

The new single comes less than a week after Maxwell celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite. 'Lake By the Ocean" is a stirring love song that includes the line, 'Can we swim a lake by the ocean?/ We'll be one like drops in slow motion."

"Basically, the song represents falling in love after a very tough trial period in life and finding contentment in the smallest things next to the biggest things," the singer said in a live Q&A on his Facebook. "'Being content in a lake when you have an entire ocean near you is the epitome of true happiness." Read more here.

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Fan Surprises Nicki Minaj With 'Bottoms Up' Rap At Recent Show

(Radio.com) Nicki Mianj was in for quite the surprise when she invited four fans onstage at a recent show in South Africa. During 'Bottoms Up," the 'Anaconda" slayer invited three fans on stage.

Right before she began rapping her verse, she pointed out one last fan to join her. The second he hit the stage it was clear she picked a star. By dancing and rapping, the fan made the other three basically disappear.

Nicki noticed he was rapping along and turned the mic to him for the 'Could you buy me a bottle of rose?" line. Instead of just doing that one line, he grabbed the mic and started turning it out. Nicki let him finish off the verse and even grinded on him during it. Check out the video here.

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Iggy Azalea Talks Relationship With Nick Young

(Radio.com) Between Iggy Azalea postponing her wedding to focus on her tour, and then news of her fiance, Los Angeles Lakers' Nick Young, cheating, their relationship status hasn't been entirely clear.

Azalea appeared on Ellen Friday, April 8th, where she opens up about how things are going. "That's going good," she said of her engagement to Young. "There isn't [any controversy] at home, just on the Internet," she said.

The line between personal and public, especially as the latter relates to the constant chatter taking place on social media, is something Azalea is more than familiar with. In fact, it's actually the focus of her newest album Digital Distortion. She clarified on Ellen how that the Internet might be abuzz with rumors that she and Young were calling it quits, but at home things were just fine.

Speaking about the constant negative feedback she gets online, she shared, "I'm good now. I think there's this really weird place on the Internet, we call them trolls, and there's just a lot of people that take great joy in saying really awful things to people, so I got a lot of that." Watch the full interview here.

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Singled Out: The Ragbirds' Good Time to Be Born

The Ragbirds just released their new album " The Threshold & The Hearth" and to celebrate we asked frontwoman Erin Zindle to tell us about the song "Good Time to Be Born". Here is the story:

Our new album The Threshold & The Hearth has a storyline woven throughout it. It's the story of a young couple named Betty and Bill - covering 20 years of their life together with all of its ups and downs.

"Good Time to Be Born" is really a sweet spot on the album which takes place shortly after Betty discovers that she's pregnant with their first child. The song describes an encounter in a grocery store where Betty and a jaded stranger are both waiting in line to check out. The girl holding up the line has a newborn baby and her credit card is declined, leaving her without any way to pay for her food. The stranger witnessing the transaction is bitter at first but he has a change of heart and decides to help the young girl by paying her bill.

I wrote this song after giving birth to my daughter Aviva because I was coming from a jaded place myself. I was terrified about bringing a child into the world. I had been watching a lot of documentaries about the world generally hanging by a thread, and watching the news which seemed so full of violence and tragedy. Aviva gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to hope for the future and she helped me see the beauty of our world with fresh eyes.

Witnessing a random act of kindness can be powerful. Sometimes it doesn't take much to restore our faith in humanity because we truly want to believe that people are good. We want to believe that if we are in need someone will step in to help.

This song was a challenge for me write because I started with the chorus and I knew what I wanted to say, but not how to say it. The message of someone learning how to hope can easily come across as trite if it's not genuinely hard-won.

I experimented with a few different ways of telling the story before resolving to let it be someone else's experience that I was narrating. I played with the phrasing, letting the verse lines breathe and build up slowly to the line "Weatherman, can't you feel the sun?" which then opens into the poppy sing-along chorus.

We recorded the band live, then our producer Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams, REM, Willie Nelson) laid down an organ track which combined with the accordion creates a warm bed for the song to unfold upon. My brother's strong harmony in the chorus really uplifts my voice and by the last chorus there is a choir of people singing along. We decided to just pull the whole band and a bunch of friends together to sing so the voices sounded like everyday people, without the polish of a trained choir.

I love performing this song live because many people have told me that it really touched them. I can see that I have the audience's full attention as I unravel the story, thread by thread. By the time I get to the last chorus I can sometimes see tears in people's eyes.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!

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