Local Current Blog

Today’s Music News: Musicians express sadness, anger over Ferguson

Lizzo, seen here in the Current's studios, is among the musicians speaking out regarding the situation in Ferguson, Mo. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

Protests and tensions continue in Ferguson, Missouri after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, and numerous musicians are sharing their views on the situation—many expressing anger and sadness. Chuck D, Questlove, John LegendFrank Ocean, Talib Kweli, Moby, and Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello have criticized the actions of local law enforcement, and Diddy has asked President Obama to visit the turbulent city. Nelly is working with Brown’s family to establish a scholarship fund in Brown’s honor, and J. Cole released a poignant song in Brown’s memory. (Billboard) “Hard to sleep when you’re waking up to the unknown and unjust,” wrote Lizzo on Twitter yesterday.

On Monday, Taylor Swift announced a forthcoming album to be released on Oct. 27 and titled 1989; Swift released a single, “Shake It Off,” with an accompanying video that shows the country-turned-pop star awkwardly gyrating with several groups of dancers. One of the groups includes black women twerking, which immediately recalled debates over controversial appearances and videos by Miley CyrusKaty Perry, and Lily Allen. Among the critics was Earl Sweatshirt, who immediately criticized the video (albeit admitting he hadn’t watched it) as “perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture.” Others defended the video as simply celebrating different types of dance. (Billboard, Consequence of Sound)

Billboard notes that the song is on track to hit the top of the pop charts, so whatever you think of the song and the video, chances are you’ll be hearing a lot more of it.

Chances are also that your favorite musician has recently dumped a bucket of ice water over his or her head as part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” a campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease ALS. Among the artists you’ve heard on the Current, some who have been publicly doused with ice water include Dave GrohlMacklemoreEddie Vedderthe RootsCarole King, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Not yet purified in the icy waters are HAIM, but then, they’ve been busy making a new video for “My Song 5.” The video, which has the sisters and guest rapper A$AP Ferg appearing on a fictional tell-all talk show, includes cameos from GrimesKeshaVampire Weekend‘s Ezra Koenig, and many others.

Musicians including Elvis CostelloMarcus MumfordMy Morning Jacket‘s Jim JamesTaylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops appear on “Nothing to It,” the first track to be released from Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes—a compilation that has an all-star cast of collaborators setting Bob Dylan lyrics to music and recording the resulting songs, under the supervision of T-Bone Burnett. The full album will be released on November 11. (Rolling Stone)

Leonard Cohen released “Almost Like the Birds,” a jazzy but typically dark song from his forthcoming album Popular Problems. The album is slated for release on Sept. 23.

Billboard released a list of the 25 most popular music clubs—measured by annual attendance—in America. 12 of them are House of Blues locations, and none are in Minnesota.

The now-infamous hat Pharrell Williams wore to this year’s Grammys is to go on display in a museum. (NME)