Photos: Katy Perry at Lakewood High School

ABC/Paul Trantow

Katy Perry is brilliant. And, no, that's not an assessment of her music -- although, to wit, the gal does have a knack for injecting just the right amount of passion and pathos into her pop songs that makes them resonate, as evidenced by the impassioned expressions on the faces of the young ladies from Lakewood High School, who sang along with every word to her songs... that she performed at their school this morning... on live television. That's the brilliant part.

See also: Watch: Katy Perry "Roar" lip dub video by Lakewood High School in Colorado

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Playing cover songs is a sign of creative fatigue

Categories: Poptimystic

The covers (and cover art) of Bob Dylan's Self Portrait were equally lackluster.

There's nothing wrong with cover songs. In fact, before Sam Cooke and the Beatles shifted the established paradigms, singer and songwriter were two entirely separate professions. And there's also nothing wrong with a musician recording a cover album in the twilight of his career (Johnny Cash's American Recordings attests to that). Yet when you catch a once-great artist leaning heavily on their childhood record collection, you can be pretty sure their creative juices have gone dry and sticky.

See also:
- The misappropriation of country music
- Ten acts that helped make hip-hop more accessible to mainstream audiences
- Is it time to quit dismissing the taste of teenage girls and appreciating Justin Bieber?

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Is it time to quit dismissing the taste of teenage girls and start appreciating Justin Bieber?

Eric Gruneisen

By Brittany Spanos

At what point did teen girls suddenly just become wrong? "Serious" music fans seem to have universally accepted a critique of quality that befalls any artist who willingly sells to the rabid teen girl market and stigmatized the fans who dare to sometimes be male or at least above the age of eighteen. It's why we only divulge our love for Justin Bieber with a laugh and overdose of self-awareness that lets the world know we don't feel he or the boys in One Direction are legitimate artists.

See also:
- Bieber Fever -- the "Fieber" -- can lead to severe discomfort
- It's official: Justin Bieber more badass than Axl Rose
- Justin Bieber's new track, "Boyfriend," defies those snap judgments you just made

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Harlem Shake: Everything to know about YouTube's viral successor to "Gangnam Style"

Categories: Poptimystic

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This is a turning point in the history of music on the internet. I know, I know, it feels like a regular Friday, but trust me, things will never be the same again. The forces of capitalism, social networking and goofing off have converged at the perfect time to create the magic that is the "Harlem Shake" phenomenon. What's so special about another internet meme that will be played out by March? That's just it: The template that has been created out of the Harlem Shake is continuing to redefine our relationship to the music that we consume. Simply put, this viral sensation is selling records, lots and lots of records.

See also:
- The ten best Colorado Harlem Shake videos on YouTube
- Dubstep for Dummies, a primer for freshly-minted dubstep fans
- Grammy tape delay versus realtime Twitter reaction: What's with the East Coast bias?

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The misappropriation of country music: Kid Rock opened the doors for Mumford & Sons

Categories: Poptimystic


Country music used to have its own distinct identity, one that was tied to rich traditions of lonesome country roads, hard work, low pay and drinking. These days it's a black hole of insipidity. Following the Grammys, the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons are now reportedly making inroads on country radio. It's not hard to see how this sort of thing has happened. With country's ongoing identity crisis, exemplified by crossover acts like Kid Rock and Darius Rucker being embraced, it seems that any music made with acoustic guitars can be construed as country. The genre kind of brought this on itself, though, by straying from the established template. Continue on for a quick look at a few examples of country's attempts at incorporating the music of other genres. Some, as you'll see, have fared better than others.

See also:
- Review: Brad Paisley at the Pepsi Center, 1/21/12
- Review: Miranda Lambert at 1STBANK Center, 3/17/12
- Josh Abbott on the Texas/Red Dirt scene and bringing banjo back to country music

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Ten acts that helped make hip-hop more accessible to mainstream audiences

Categories: Lists, Poptimystic

Eric Gruneisen

Hip-hop is a world unto itself. Its rich tradition of spoken word poetry, self-referential subject matter and electronic and sample-based production make it, in many ways, a difficult musical form to adapt to, especially if you come from a more traditional background. These ten acts helped make rap more accessible to mainstream audiences.

See also:
- Ten essential gangsta-rap albums
- The ten best storytellers in hip-hop
- The ten best hip-hop lyrics of 2012

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Grammy tape delay versus realtime Twitter reaction: What's with the East Coast bias?

Categories: Poptimystic

So, yeah, I'm watching the Grammys right now and dutifully monitoring the #GRAMMYs hash tag on Twitter (thanks for the helpful reminders, LL). Color me confused. I feel like I just walked into the middle of a movie:

On the set, Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley are in the middle of a duet. The Twitterverse, meanwhile, is buzzing about Rhianna's performance. Come again? When? Did I miss something? How? I haven't even so much as gotten up to go to the bathroom?

And so then, I refresh my Twitter feed a little bit later, only to see some tweets congratulating the Zach Brown Band -- just as Ellen and Beyonce are introducing Justin Timberlake. Feel like you're trapped in an episode of Early Edition, that show where Coach Taylor got the next day's paper inexplicably delivered to his doorstep the day before. Me, too. So, what gives? Ah, yes, there it is -- tape delay. Again.

See also:
- How the Grammy Sausage is Made
- Welcome to Colorado, home of the Grammys
- 2012 Grammy Awards: Adele sweeps, Bon Iver surprises and Kanye West MIA

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Chartbreaker: Justin Bieber's 'Believe' has year's best-selling week for an album debut

Categories: Poptimystic

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Say what you want about Justin Bieber -- "he looks like a girl," "he's annoying," "he's only relevant to thirteen-year-old girls" -- but the pop star sensation is doing something right. His new album, Believe , sold 374,000 copies in its first week.

That number may not seem like a lot for a number-one album on the Billboard 200 chart, but in the age of albums purchased as individual tracks, the fact that Bieber was able to sell almost triple the amount of albums as last week's album chart-topper, Looking 4 Myself, is quite impressive. Gone are the days when Bieber was only relevant as a punchline -- now he's verifiable competition for modern pop royalty like Adele, Gaga, Katy, Rihanna and even Usher.

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Chartbreaker: Usher beats Adele as top album, while "Call Me Maybe" is top single again

Categories: Poptimystic

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Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" remains number one for another week on the Billboard Hot 100. However, on the Billboard 200 albums chart, somewhat unexpectedly, Usher overtakes Adele for the number-one album in the country with Looking 4 Myself -- even without a strong lead single to drive sales.

Even with "Climax" topping the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for a ninth week now, Looking 4 Myself moved only 128,000 units this last week, according to Billboard. That's less than half of Usher's previous studio album, Raymond v. Raymond, which also charted at number one.

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Katy Perry is "Wide Awake" in her new video

Categories: Poptimystic

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Katy Perry's teenage dream is finally over. "Wide Awake," the eighth and final single off Teenage Dream sees Perry sing about completion, realization and "falling from Cloud 9" -- and takes a few jabs at her failed marriage to Russell Brand, too.

The music video, which was just released, however, mostly sidesteps the estrangement visually and instead opts for a Katy-in-Wonderland quest for personal clarity. Because when you have just endured a very public divorce, returning to your childhood roots could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

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