Music News: Remembering rai rocker Rachid Taha

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Rachid Taha performs in France, 2012.
Rachid Taha performs in France, 2012. (THOMAS BREGARDIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Remembering Rachid Taha; K-pop controversy; Missy surprises superfan
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Above, listen to an episode of The Current's daily Music News podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts.


French-Algerian singer Rachid Taha has died of a heart attack at age 59. He rose to fame combining the Algerian genre of rai with rock music, playing both originals and covers. His criticism of French actions toward Algeria, which took musical forms such as an intentionally ironic cover of the beloved song "Sweet France," helped earn a devoted following but also sparked controversy.

He said he gave the Clash his band Carte de Séjour's demo tape in 1981, which he mused might have helped inspire their 1982 hit "Rock the Casbah." Taha covered "Rock the Casbah" in 2004, and a year later the Clash's Mick Jones joined Taha for a live performance of the song at an anti-war concert. Jones went on to collaborate with Taha for the 2013 album Zoom. (Pitchfork)

Congrats Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit triumphed at the Americana Music Association awards on Wednesday night. Isbell picked up three awards: Album of the Year (The Nashville Sound), Song of the Year ("If We Were Vampires"), and duo/group of the year. John Prine was named Artist of the Year. (The Current)

Rami Malek defends Bohemian Rhapsody

Actor Rami Malek has responded to criticism of a trailer for the upcoming Freddy Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The trailer has been criticized for ignoring Mercury's bisexuality, but Malek, who stars as the Queen frontman, says that's not true of the movie as a whole.

"I don't think the film shies away from his sexuality or his all-consuming disease, which is obviously AIDS," Malek told Attitude, a UK gay magazine. "I don't know how you could avoid any of that, or if anyone would ever want to. It's a bit absurd that anyone's judging this from a minute trailer."

Bohemian Rhapsody hits U.S. movie theaters on Nov. 2. (NME)

Al Green releases new song

Soul legend Al Green has released his first new music in ten years. "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" is a 1967 song that's been covered by dozens of country, pop, and soul artists; Green laid his own version down as an Amazon exclusive single. Could a new album be in the works? The 72-year-old just joined Twitter, writing, "It's been over 50 years since the beginning, and we're only just getting started." (Rolling Stone)

K-pop stars fired...for dating

Two top Korean pop stars have been fired by their management company for dating each other. HyunA and E'Dawn violated a widespread rule imposed by the K-pop industry on stars, who train from a young age: no romantic relationships, at least not publicly. The singers' label, Cube Entertainment, denied rumors that the 20-somethings were involved, but the pair subsequently contradicted the label and, on Thursday, were fired.

"When we manage artists, we consider mutual trust and faith our top priority," said Cube Entertainment in a statement. "We decided the trust is broken beyond repair, so we are expelling the two from our company."

HyunA found breakout fame after dancing with Psy in the smash hit video for "Gangnam Style," and E'Dawn was a member of the boy band Pentagon; they worked together in the band Triple H. The pair said they owed it to their fans to be honest about their relationship.

As South Korean music critic Kim Zakka told the New York Times, "The K-pop idol industry is still based on the agency owning the idol, whose character the company creates. Since the business worked based on the fantasy of the fan having a pseudo-relationship with the idol, the idol dating in real life breaks the business model."

Things might now be changing: since the announcement, Cube Entertainment's stock price has fallen.

Missy surprises "funky white sister" with "Work It" duet

On The Ellen Degeneres Show, Missy Elliott surprised her "funky white sister" Mary Halsey with an appearance on the which the two performed "Work It" as a duet. Halsey (not to be confused with the mononymic pop star) recently went viral with a beat-perfect karaoke cover of the song, which was approvingly shared by Elliott. (Billboard)


Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar - Comedie (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games - Against The Wall (CC BY 3.0)
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - If We Were Vampires
Bohemian Rhapsody (film) (official trailer)
Al Green - Before the Next Teardrop Falls
Rachid Taha - Rock the Casbah
Psy (feat. Hyuna) - Gangnam Style
Missy Elliott - Work It (performed by Missy Elliott and Mary Halsey)


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