Music News: Mark Hollis of Talk Talk dies at 64


Cover art for Talk Talk's 1984 album 'It's My Life.'
Cover art for Talk Talk's 1984 album 'It's My Life.' (EMI)
Mark Hollis of Talk Talk dies at 64
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Mark Hollis, singer and co-founder of the post-rock band Talk Talk, has died at the age of 64.

The news was confirmed by Hollis's longtime manager, Keith Aspden, who said in a statement, "I'm still trying to accept this but sadly it's true." Aspden revealed that Hollis passed away from a "short illness from which he never recovered."

With Talk Talk, Hollis explored a variety of genres. Early in their career the band made synth-pop and toured with bands like Duran Duran — garnering several top 25 hits and worldwide commercial success with It's My Life (the title track would have a second life as a hit in 2003 when No Doubt covered it).

By the late '80s the band had switched up their sound to pioneer a post-rock sound in 1988's Spirit of Eden and 1991's Laughing Stock. The albums are considered by many to be masterpieces and influenced bands like Portishead, Radiohead, and Sigur Ros. Shortly after the release of Laughing Stock, the band broke up.

Hollis released a solo record in 1998 and then retired from the music industry. While he was reclusive in his retirement, he did appear on Unkle's 1998 album, Psyence Fiction, and, most recently, created an instrumental piece for the television show Boss. (Pitchfork)

Let's go back to that early hit, "It's My Life."

Ms. Vegas if you're nasty: Janet Jackson announces Sin City residency

Continuing the tradition of powerhouse divas taking their spectacle to Vegas, today, Janet Jackson announced she'll be taking over Park Theater at Park MGM resort. For 15 days running from May 17 through Aug. 10, Jackson will be bringing a show she's calling "Metamorphosis" to Las Vegas.

The shows will trace Jackson's "path to self-love, empowerment, motherhood and activism, amidst the challenges she faced along her personal journey. She encourages her audiences to find their own light within themselves through her Metamorphosis," according to a statement. As the singer wrote on Instagram, it also marks the 30th anniversary of Rhythm Nation.

Tickets go on sale Saturday. (Rolling Stone)

Nicki Minaj responds to Tracy Chapman lawsuit

You may remember Jay and I talking about a tweet that Nicki Minaj sent out last summer asking Tracy Chapman to slide into her DMs and give her permission to sample her in Minaj's album.

That permission was never granted, because in October of last year, Tracy Chapman sued Minaj for copyright infringement, claiming that the song "Sorry" contained an interpolation of Chapman's song "Baby Can I Hold You," and that it was used without her permission and violates Chapman's copyright.

Today, Minaj responded to the lawsuit, saying that Chapman "is not the owner of the copyright in issue and therefore lacks standing to bring the claims alleged in the Complaint." (Blast)

Repetitive music drives retail workers batty

When I was working at Urban Outfitters, one of the joys was getting in early and being asked to pick out the six albums we would start our day off listening to in the store.

I never realized that luxury until I came across a CBC story this week discussing the negative effects of repetitive playlists on retail employees. The conversation was kicked off by a series of Starbucks employees complaining on Reddit about their "Hamilton Takeover" where the soundtrack to the Broadway show was played at 8,000 Starbucks locations non-stop. With only two hours of music, the playlist made the employees bonkers. As one barista said, "If I have to hear Hamilton one more time I'm getting a ladder and ripping out all of our speakers from the ceiling."

Writer Adam Johnson was arguing that it is a serious workers' rights issue. "[It's] the same system that's used to ... flood people out of, you know, the Branch Davidian in Waco or was used on terror suspects in Guantanamo — they use the repetition of music."

Neuroscientist Jessica Grahn, who has studied the effects of music on mood, agreed that, "Yes, playing the same music over and over again has a deleterious effect on one's mental well-being."

For its part, a rep for Starbucks says that the company's stores each "cultivate a unique in-store environment" with playlists of more than 4,000 songs that are "continuously updated based on feedback from partners (employees) or to include newly released music," and that "[their] baristas always have the ability to choose from any of the multiple playlists available for their stores."

So, maybe rotate that Hamilton out for the next few weeks.

Young girl recreates classic album covers for Black History Month

Here's something cute to help you celebrate Black History Month. Six-year-old Abigale and her mother, Miriame, teamed up with a photographer and graphic designer to recreate some iconic album covers.

"I wanted to pay homage to some awesome singers," Miriame told BuzzFeed via e-mail. "I basically picked artists I grew up listening to in my childhood and as a young adult. I wanted to show my daughter some of the singers I've loved throughout the years." Abby takes on the looks of Toni Braxton, Missy Elliott, Monica, and Whitney Houston.

Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against The Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Talk Talk: "It's My Life"
Original Broadway cast of Hamilton: "Non-Stop"
Whitney Houston: "How Will I Know"

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