Music News: Beyonce 'Homecoming' documentary comes with surprise live album

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Beyonce performs at Coachella, 2018.
Beyonce performs at Coachella, 2018. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella)
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Beyoncé’s done it again. When her Homecoming concert film and documentary hit Netflix on Wednesday as scheduled, she had a surprise for fans: an accompanying live album documenting her historic 2018 Coachella headlining set.

As the first African-American woman to headline Coachella, Beyoncé embraced the occasion with an epic live spectacular that paid tribute to the black college experience. The 109-minute live album contains 40 tracks, and although she's played coy with various streaming services before, this time Beyoncé’s going for maximum impact: you can hear Homecoming, the album, pretty much anywhere you stream music. (New York Times)

The documentary clocks in at two-and-a-half hours, and it's largely a concert film. You can see — or relive, if you caught the livestream last year — the Destiny's Child reunion, the Jay-Z cameo, and the Blue Ivy a capella on "Life Every Voice and Sing." She interpolates voices of black icons including Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and W.E.B. DuBois. As the New York Times notes, it's not just a celebration of the African-American experience but a proud statement of authorship in a world where the artistic autonomy of people of color, particularly women of color, is often questioned.

She also reveals her post-pregnancy get-in-shape diet. Want to work it like Beyoncé? Get ready to skip bread, carbs, dairy, sugar, meat, fish, and alcohol. I don't even know what's left, but somehow it must be the most powerful food in the universe.

There's only one Beyoncé, but Rolling Stone writes that she's pointing the way for any artist who wants to make an impact with a big release in the streaming era: combining video and audio, combining build-up and surprise, tying a release to a real-world event like Coachella. Writer Amy X. Wang does see this as a sign that we are not going to see a lot of big platform-specific releases moving forward. Beyoncé could have made this a Tidal exclusive, but she seems to have decided that it would make more impact, and probably more money as well, if it was spread across platforms.

Of course, none of that strategy would matter if the music wasn't there...and with Beyoncé, you know it is. Tomorrow in our new-release episode, Jade and I will talk more about the music of Homecoming. For now, here's one of the "bonus tracks" from the new album: a live cover of Maze's 1981 song "Before I Let Go."

St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein are making a movie together

According to Collider, Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney) and St. Vincent have written a movie script together: "Clark and Brownstein's untitled script follows heightened versions of themselves as they interact with assistants, bandmates, music journalists and, of course, fans." There's no title or release date for the project, but it does sound like it's moving forward with a director attached. The pair have often collaborated in the past, including on a series of comedic videos posted to St. Vincent's Instagram in 2017.

Sia video star joins cast of Steven Spielberg's West Side Story

Dancer Maddie Ziegler has joined the cast of Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story movie. The 16-year-old dancer rose to fame on the show Dance Moms and as star of a series of smash hit music videos that have helped make Sia one of YouTube's biggest artists. Also in the West Side Story cast: actor Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) as Tony, the previously unknown Rachel Zegler (no relation) as Maria, and Rita Moreno — the EGOT icon who starred in the original West Side Story movie and now returns as the owner of the soda shop where the Sharks and the Jets hang out. (Billboard)

Musicians named to Time's "Most Influential People" list

Time magazine has released its annual list of the world's "100 most influential people." Musicians on the list include Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, BTS, Khalid, and cover star Taylor Swift. Shawn Mendes wrote the essay for Swift.

Having toured as an opener for Swift, Mendes describes the power of her concerts. "The feeling of your heart racing in your chest with excitement — so much so that by the time you get to 'Love Story,' all you want to do is pick up your phone and text every person you know to say how much you love them."

Britney Spears fans concerned over star's absence

You may have seen the hashtag #FreeBritney floating around on social media...what's that about? As Newsweek notes, it's a reference to rumors that Spears is being held against her will in a mental health care facility.

Could that be true? Well, let's back up a little bit. Fans' concern stems from the fact that the 37-year-old pop star has been in a legal conservatorship since an apparent mental health crisis in 2008. Basically, her finances, legal affairs, and other aspects of her life are managed by her father and, until recently, an attorney who abruptly resigned last month.

Does she still need to be in such a situation? Well, only Spears and her family know what's best for her, but she has in the past tried unsuccessfully to fight the arrangement. In January, Spears cancelled her Las Vegas residency, saying she was concerned about her father's health.

Now, various factors including a reported former member of Spears's legal team are leading many fans to believe Spears is being held against her will. Right now, Spears and her family aren't publicly commenting. Here's one thing we can say for sure: being a child star is hard, and being a former child star isn't exactly a picnic either. Let's wish Britney and her family well, and hope that soon she's able to get back to "Work."

Viral clip: Lorde covers Simon and Garfunkel at Christchurch benefit

Our viral clip for today is Lorde covering Simon and Garfunkel on a poignant occasion: a Wednesday benefit concert for victims of the March 15th shootings at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition to playing her song "Team," Lorde joined fellow New Zealander Marlon Williams for a duet on "The Sounds of Silence." (Rollign Stone)


Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against The Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
West Side Story Orchestra: "Prologue"
Taylor Swift: "Love Story"
Beyoncé: "Run the World (Girls)" (Homecoming live)
Blue Ivy Carter and Beyoncé: "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (Homecoming live)
Beyoncé: "Before I Let Go" (Homecoming live)
Britney Spears: "Work B****"
Lorde and Marlon Williams: "The Sound of Silence"


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