Music Lists

6 Times Adam Levine Was a Total Dick

The Maroon 5 singer recently sat down for a cringe interview with Zane Lowe.

Adam Levine

Adam Levine is no stranger to the conversation surrounding his alleged douchery.

He's often even embraced it and, like many jerks before him, repeatedly tried to gaslight the public into loving him anyway. "You're a lead singer of a hot band," Cosmopolitan frankly asked the Maroon 5 frontman in 2009. "Does that automatically make you cocky?" "A little," the singer responded. "But in a playful, not arrogant way."

In an interview with Zane Lowe this morning, the singer — who has said in previous interviews that "no one knows how planes actually work" and that he "spends most of his life naked " — told the legendary radio host, among other things, that "there aren't any bands anymore."

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Music Features

CeeLo Green Has Less Than Zero Room to Criticize Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion

The "I Think You're Crazy Singer" has come through with another tone deaf take.

Singer-Songwriter CeeLo Green, AKA Thomas Callaway, has one of the best voices in the music industry.

It's why he was chosen as one of the original celebrity coaches on The Voice. He can hit notes that other singers wouldn't dream of and deliver them with some serious power. But too often the way he chooses to use that impressive voice is...not great.

When the Gnarls Barkley singer isn't harkening back to the golden era of soul music with breathy tones and soaring notes, he's harkening back to the fetid era of old school misogyny, with takes that are completely tone deaf.

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MUSIC

Johnny Gates: Dive Bars, Back Roads, and Church Girls

The Voice Season 12 alumnus is back in Nashville, and turning heads with his new EP.

Blake Shelton called him "the next Mick Jagger." Alicia Keys called him "a male Gwen Stefani."

Whatever you want to call Johnny Gates, you can't say he doesn't turn heads. Former lead singer of The Runaway Saints and notable for his appearance on Season 12 of The Voice, his first two singles have already amassed more than two million listens on Spotify alone. The young trailblazer has recently returned to Nashville to ignite a solo career with his debut EP, "Hell Outta Here."

The project opens with a slow guitar riff with drifting John Mayer overtones. "Hell Outta Here" is the story of running away, running inward, and running into another person. These three acts blend together in a black-and-white haze. It's a mellow opening that sets the stage for the melancholic sound Gates is cultivating.

Plucked guitar chords are also the foundation for "Dive Bar." Here, he brings out the classic American tropes for coping with grief: alcohol, bars, and more alcohol. He mixes them together in a smooth, bittersweet track that feels like it has already started haunting your dreams.

"Bandit" has a sparse acoustic riff, married with the EP's distinctive use of airy/synthy slide. It's a pained love song, and he gives his voice a sharp metallic edge that lets his lyrics plunge straight down into your soul. Gates appears to be cultivating his own vision of Americana on this EP: a hybrid of old and new that alternates between angelic and chimeric.

Photo by Meghan Cummings

He evokes John Legend in the soulful intro to "Church Girl," though he cultivates a classic country sound when the song starts to kick in. The production then blends electronic and live drums, giving the impression of a heartbeat moving from stationary to transcendent between verse and chorus. Lyrically, it's a wistful love song that holds its heart out in its hands as they stretch up towards the heavens.

It's hard not to be enamored with how Johnny Gates' EP sonically blends rough and smooth tones. This medley crystallizes the contrast between the coarseness of the stories he tells and the fineness of the tools he uses to tell those stories. This EP doesn't feel like it was recorded; it feels like it was discovered, hidden in the sands of a desert somewhere, calling out to whoever might be aching to hear it.

Follow Johnny Gates Online!

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On this week's Popdust Presents, we have a dual performance by Garrett Gardner and Sharlette, who met through Instagram and began collaborating.

Sharlette is a contemporary soul/pop artist and songwriter from London, who has performed with the likes of LeAnn Rimes and Boy George. She was also featured on Anthony Harm's track "Should've Been Me," that's garnered thousands of streams on Spotify. Meanwhile, Garrett first broke into the mainstream on NBC's The Voice, where he made it to the top 12 in Season 4 on team Shakira. Now, the two are collaborating to craft soulful, genuine, acoustic music.

Popdust's own Brent Butler interviewed the pair about their respective musical journeys, the small world of Instagram, and fireworks in Dubai.

Popdust Presents | Sharlette & Garrett Gardner youtu.be

The pair also performed the upbeat and unreleased, "Meet in the Middle," showing off Sharlette's extraordinary voice and Garrett's guitar prowess.

Sharlette "Meet in the Middle" youtu.be

Then, Garrett performed "Fool's Gold" solo, showing off the velvety voice that caught the attention of The Voice judges.

Garrett Gardner "Fool's Gold" youtu.be

Finally, both artists endured the Magic Box, pressuring Brent to follow them down a dark path, explaining a desire to haunt a shelf in 7/11, and unpacking a terror of advisory roles in the American Executive branch.

The Magic Box Interview with Sharlette & Garrett Gardner youtu.be


For more from Garrett Gardner, follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

For more from Sharlette, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.


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Ali Caldwell is the kind of singer who's so much more than a great voice. Sure, she has beautiful vocals and a great range, but she's also deeply introspective, fully understanding her position as a representative voice and inspiration for young black women. Her lyrics explore self-love, relationships, and empowerment in ways that are relatable to her listeners, allowing them to fully connect with her music.

The New Jersey-born singer got her start in Xhale, a three-person R&B group which opened for Boyz II Men. But it wasn't until season 11 of The Voice that Caldwell came to prominence as a solo artist. Coached by Miley Cyrus and widely considered a frontrunner for the duration of the competition, Caldwell ultimately finished as a semi-finalist after giving stunning performances of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and Rihanna's "Sledgehammer." She released her first commercial single, "To Be Loved," in 2018 and, coming off a recent stint on The Four: Battle For Stardom, was inspired to write her new song as a means of self-love and acceptance.

Caldwell dropped by to talk with Popdust's own Deascent about the importance of her family's support for her music career, female empowerment, and what it's like being a role model for young women.

Popdust Presents | Ali Caldwell youtu.be

Caldwell performed an impressive rendition of her new song "Colors," an upbeat anthem about letting yourself experience life to its fullest instead of limiting your view to black and white. Afterwards, Caldwell showed off even more of her vocal range in "Why I Sing," a love ballad about receiving artistic inspiration through a great relationship.

Ali Caldwell "Colors" youtu.be

Ali Caldwell "Why I Sing" youtu.be

Then, Deascent forced Caldwell to contemplate the realities of eating human hair and damp tortilla chips. What sort of evil box would ask these questions, and why would anyone allow it to dwell in their office? Can anyone save us from the magic box, or do the questions it forces us to ask fall on deaf ears?

The Magic Box Interview with Ali Caldwell youtu.be


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TV Reviews

"The Masked Singer" Is America's Favorite Joke

With 10 million viewers tuning in, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition has claimed the ratings' top spot.

Every contestant on The Masked Singer is a cross between a Vegas showgirl and the monster under your childhood bed.

Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in for the singing competition's premiere last week. Viewers' reactions range from horrified to conversion to furry fandom, as twelve so-called "celebrity contestants" compete while costumed as: Deer, Lion, Monster, Peacock, Unicorn, Rabbit, Alien, Raven, Poodle, Bee, Hippo, and Pineapple.

Official Trailer | Season 1 | THE MASKED SINGER youtu.be

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the bizarre show is the American version of the popular South Korean competition, King of Mask Singer (on which Ryan Reynolds has appeared as a unicorn singing "Tomorrow" from Annie). The concept is both simple and over-the-top, as costumed singers introduce themselves to give hints as to their identities–and not only are they dressed as giant anthropomorphic creatures, but each costume is replete with a ridiculous voice-changing filter. After each contestant karaokes America's most overplayed songs, a panel of C-list judges evaluates their performances and takes a stab at guessing who could be under the mask. At the end, whoever displayed the least amount of talent is eliminated and forced to remove his/her disguise.

With "celebrity" judges including Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, and Jenny McCarthy, the qualifications seem lax. As the judges make increasingly outlandish guesses, from Beyoncé to Barack Obama, social media has certainly enjoyed the joke. #TheMaskedSinger remained a trending topic on Twitter during both weeks' airtimes, with posts ranging from reality TV personalities to common, decent people.



But The Masked Singer could very well become America's next favorite joke. After last week's premiere garnered over 9 million viewers only to reveal the identity of Hippo was NFL player Antonio Brown (he sang Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative"), the show's second episode still entertained over 7 million viewers. The contestant unmasked Wednesday night was Pineapple, revealed to be Tommy Chong of beloved Cheech and Chong's Adventures (he sang "I Will Survive" and it was brutal).

Fox

The Seattle Times

Ridiculous as it is, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition still held the ratings' top spot for Wednesday night among viewers from 18-49 years old. The Masked Singer airs every week at 9PM. Who do you think is Alien?

FOX


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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