Latest News: Michael Jackson

From the Vault: Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album of all time, turned 30 last Friday. If you’re familiar with the release (and really, who isn’t?), you know it’s chock-full of some of the biggest hits of all time. But Michael Jackson has always been a hit machine — before and after this classic record. VSQ Performs the Hits of Michael Jackson pays tribute to the King of Pop. It features striking string renditions of 12 of Jackson’s biggest songs, including four smashes from Thriller, such as the title track, “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “P.Y.T.”  

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The Map of Developing Music Tastes

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What was the first album you ever bought for yourself? If you can't answer without feeling a pang of embarrassment, you understand that the evolution of your personal music taste can take many twists and turns. What was once close to your heart in your adolescence may have you selling records in your teenage years. What if we were able to chart the way people grow to develop their musical taste? What if we could identify the different stages and when to expect them? Well, that ship has come in. I present to you the greatest cartographic accomplishment since the mapping of the human genome: The map of developing music tastes. This is science. Childhood: Kids Music & Your Parents' Music Until about the age of 8, the only music you can conceivably like is kids music, like the songs Sesame Street teaches you. Otherwise, you'll grow a tiny affinity for whatever your parents listen to, whether it's their intent or not. That means that you can grow up listening to anything from AC/DC to Boyz II Men. This is important to note for your current/future babies. Pre-Teens: Whatever's Popular With Teenagers Kids always get their hooks into pop music earlier than people think they're supposed to. For some generations, that means 4th graders that are super into Nirvana. For people of my generation, that meant a bunch of 9 year olds rapping along to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Middle School: Whatever Makes You Cool Middle School, typically ages 11 through 14, is sometimes called The Great In-Between Darkness. It's a time when kids retain the cruelty of small children, but are beginning to manifest the need to fit in. This intersection of selfish apathy and desire produces some strange years, and no, I don't know what projection is. In music taste, this is where most kids conform to whatever makes them cool in their circle: if they're on the fast track to being cool outsiders, they'll hear their first punk song. If they're going to be the top of the social ladder, they'll get into the top pop act of the day, whether that's Michael Jackson or Lady Gaga. High School: The Divergence At long last, people begin to really define their music tastes (and themselves), and the results can be wildly different. What's new is that teenagers begin to realize that music has existed for a while – even before they were born! It's when people start to learn music backwards, as we all do, finding the influences of our favorites and the kings of the genres we love. It's when kids start wearing The Doors t-shirts and memorize Beatles lyrics, things they couldn't pull off before. College and Post-Grad: Eclecticism You know those weirdos that say they like everything except rap? Or those oddballs that hate all country music without having given its rich history a listen? This is when they start listening to a little bit of rap and country. For the rest of us, this is where we get in-depth with our tastes, which, depending on the branching path you took, can mean a Miles Davis phase or brand new genres with names like “Witch house.” And that's where I'm at so far. In the interest of space and saving the rest for medical journals, I'm going to have to cut it off here. Hopefully, with further research and, of course, a ton of grant money, we'll be able to further unlock the secrets of why we like what we like, and perhaps prevent some unfortunate choices before they happen.

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Two Is Better Than One

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Alison Krauss and Union Station’s first album in seven years was released this week, and reviews suggest that the album, Paper Planes, was worth the wait. This award winning and much beloved blues-country outfit is led by singer and fiddle player, Alison Krauss, who filled in the band’s hiatus with 2007’s Raising Sand. This album, a collaboration between Krauss and music legend and former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, was a lush, gorgeous roundup of original and covered material. Listening to it still gives us goosebumps. (See “Polly Come Home” for proof.) In honor of this epic rock/country collaboration, we give you other great cross-genre collaborations. The Duo: Eminem feat. Dido The Song: “Stan” Eminen’s 2000 track about the obsession and eventual suicide of a fan, Stan, samples English singer Dido’s “Thank You.” On its own, Dido’s ambient love song is nothing but sweet. Paired with Eminem’s dark lyrics, the pretty song takes a decidedly sinister turn. Eminem also made headlines when he performed “Stan” with Elton John (who did Dido’s part), at the 2001 Grammy Awards. (That’s Dido playing Stan’s wife at the beginning of the music video). The Duo: Run DMC and Aerosmith The Song: “Walk This Way” This 1986 collaboration between hip hop outfit Run DMC and rock legends Aerosmith is cited as the moment when the walls between rock and rap came down. Literally. The song’s video features Steven Tyler busting through an actual wall with his mic stand to jam with Reverend Run and the boys. The Duo: Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney The Song: “Say, Say, Say” This 1983 George Martin-produced hit comes from McCartney’s Pipes of Peace album. Jackson wrote the song’s lyrics and McCartney played percussion, synthesizer, guitar and bass. McCartney’s wife Linda and Jackson’s sister LaToya both appear in the video. The music legends also collaborated on “The Girl is Mine” from Jackson’s massive Thriller. The Duo: Danger Mouse and James Mercer The Project: Broken Bells All the indie kids went crazy for Broken Bells eponymous debut album last year. Producer Danger Mouse (Beck, Gorillaz, MF Doom) and Shins’ vocalist Mercer decided to collaborate after meeting at a Danish music festival in 2004. They made good on that promise six years later with their critically acclaimed album. A follow-up EP, Meyrin Fields, was released last month. llison Be sure to check out: The String Quartet Tribute to Dido Available now at iTunes and Amazon The String Quartet Tribute to Aerosmith Available now at iTunes and Amazon Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to Michael Jackson Available now at iTunes and Amazon The String Quartet Tribute to Paul McCartney Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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VSQ Performs the Hits of Michael Jackson

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We at Vitamin Records know that making good music isn't just black or white. Not just anyone can understand the ABC's of The King of Pop. That's why we dedicated a lot of time and energy into our string quartet renditions of Michael Jackson's greatest hits. So keep on with the force and don't stop till you get enough. Help us heal the world, one listener at a time.

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