Music News: Musicians slam industry for poor support of mental health needs

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Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit.
Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit has been outspoken about the need for better mental health support in the music industry. (Cory Schwartz/Getty Images)
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A new study of 1,500 independent musicians finds that less than a fifth of them think the music industry is working to improve mental health conditions. The need is great: multiple previous studies have found that musicians are especially vulnerable to mental health challenges, with 80% of young musicians reporting some form of mental health issue and musicians in general experiencing depression at three times the rate of the general population.

May is Mental Health Month, and that's been prompting more conversations about this issue in the music world and beyond. Artists including Shirley Manson, James Blake, and Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos have been opening up about the need for greater mental health supports in the music world, with Angelakos saying, "It's like they've forgotten about the people that create their product." (Consequence of Sound)

Another artist who's opening up is Common, whose new memoir Let Love Have the Last Word includes an account of an instance of childhood sexual abuse by a family friend. He writes that he'd pushed the memory away until a couple of years ago, and now he's sharing his story in hopes of assuring others they shouldn't feel ashamed about coming forth. In a recent interview, he said, "I'm telling what I feel and ways that I've dealt with it, and I want people to know that it's a safe place to talk about things you go through." (Billboard)

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges, you can find resources via Minnesota Public Radio's mental health initiative Call to Mind. Here's wishing Common, in the words of the opening track to his latest album, some "Joy and Peace."

Rolling Stone introduces new charts to compete with Billboard

Rolling Stone is launching new music charts to compete with Billboard as the go-to source for determining the country's most popular music. Just like Billboard, Rolling Stone will rank the top 100 songs and 200 albums in the United States, plus offering other charts including ranks of social media buzz and trending tracks. The new charts roll out this coming Monday.

Billboard has long been considered the source of record regarding what music is most popular, but the streaming era has introduced a lot more information and a lot more uncertainty. How much should a vinyl purchase count for compared to a paid stream or an unpaid stream or a spin on the radio? Billboard's repeatedly tweaked its formula to account for changing types of music consumption, but it may be that there is no such thing as a definitive list of music popularity any more. (Music Business Worldwide)

Tinder launches "festival mode"

Tinder is offering a new "festival mode" to facilitate semi-spontaneous meet-ups at music events like Bonnaroo and Governor's Ball. "Users of the dating app can now add participating festivals to their Tinder profiles, which then allows them to view and match with other Tinder users who have marked themselves as attending," reports Pitchfork.

This week in music history

31 years ago this week, Prince released Lovesexy. The artist's tenth studio album touched on spiritual themes, but it was carnal thoughts that kept it off some record store shelves: the nude photo of Prince, albeit artfully posed, was too much for some stores, which wrapped it in black. That was ironic, since Prince had just recently pulled the planned release of his Black Album, an LP with an actual all-black cover.

51 years ago this week, Buffalo Springfield called it quits. Formed in 1966, the legendary Canadian-American rock band launched Neil Young and Stephen Stills into the popular eye, becoming known for singles like the iconic protest song "For What It's Worth." They were maybe an odd fit as tourmates for the Beach Boys in 1968, but by May 5 of that year, they weren't even a good fit for each other. After a final show at the Long Beach Arena, the band members went their separate ways.

29 years ago this week, Tom Waits won a lawsuit against Frito-Lay over a commercial that used a Tom Waits impersonator to sell Doritos.

Virginia Grohl talks about being a rock star mom

This Sunday is Mother's Day, and in honor of the occasion I talked with maybe the most famous rock star mom out there: Virginia Grohl, mother of Dave Grohl. She's the author of the fascinating book From Cradle to Stage, in which she profiles other moms of famous musicians. We talked about what she's learned over the course of the project; click the player above to listen.

This week's new releases

Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!

On Jamila Woods's new album Legacy! Legacy!, she highlights her love of her hometown Chicago and the historical figures that influenced her. Each song is named after a black luminary: Sun Ra, Zora Neale Hurston, Octavia Butler, Eartha Kitt. As she said to the Guardian, "My inspirations gave me permission to speak up; the aim with my teaching is that it gives the young people of Chicago the same opportunity." In "EARTHA," Woods reflects on relationships and things she won't put up with.

Charly Bliss, Young Enough

If you can have the indie cred to open for Sleater-Kinney and the mainstream appeal to get noticed by Entertainment Weekly, you're hitting the power-pop sweet spot. That's right where Brooklyn quartet Charly Bliss find themselves as they release their sophomore album, Young Enough. Frontwoman Eva Hendricks sings with the throaty passion of a riot grrrl and the cutting melodicism of a pop-punk star. The album is about finding hope in a dark world, inspired both by an abusive personal relationship and by the abuse being suffered by society more broadly right now.

Hendricks told EW, "I think it's also really important to remember that people are still people and to look at the world with some kind of wonder and hope for the future and that it could get better." It may be "Hard to Believe," but that's how the song goes.

Mac DeMarco, Here Comes the Cowboy

The yeehaw agenda continues via California stoner rocker Mac DeMarco and his latest album, Here Comes the Cowboy. The songs have the trademark lackadaisical vocal delivery and downshifting instrument pitch that sounds like everything is slowly losing battery. One of the more dramatic offerings is the piano-driven "On the Square."

Mavis Staples, We Get By

As the New Yorker puts it, Mavis Staples "maintains a peer-approval rating roughly on par with sunny days and ice-cream cones." Staples, who turns 80 this July, has brought conviction and joy to everything she's done from 1950s spirituals with the Staple Singers to Civil Rights anthems of the '60s to disco covers of Talking Heads songs in the '80s to a cavalcade of tributes and celebrations in the 21st century. This week she drops a new solo album produced by Ben Harper.

On We Get By, Staples is still calling for change. In a statement, she said, "These songs are delivering such a strong message. We truly need to make a change if we want this world to be better." Songs like "Anytime" celebrate Staples's history and heritage, including her association with classic Muscle Shoals soul.

Viral clip: Lizzo flies in style

As you may have heard, this week was the annual Met Gala fundraiser. The Met Gala hasn't always been a subject of music-world fascination, but after Solange took a whack at Jay-Z in a Met Gala elevator captured on security footage and later referenced on Beyoncé’s "Flawless" remix...well, now we're all on the lookout for iconic moments.

This year's party had an over-the-top theme, "camp," and stars rose to the occasion. Lady Gaga showed up with five dancers and changed through four different outfits on the red carpet. Cardi B looked like a volcano, Miley Cyrus looked like she had a candy wrapper stuck to her (that turned out to be a Hannah Montana reference), Katy Perry dressed in a chandelier, Solange was in snakeskin, and Celine Dion channeled Cher, who covered ABBA.

But the night's winner might have been Lizzo, who had a blast in a Marc Jacobs ensemble that you might call a pink feathered fur coat. Then she wore it to the airport, and of course captured the whole journey on social media. (Billboard, The Points Guy)

Just one day earlier, Lizzo did the opposite of dressing up — although she did wear giant earrings bearing her name for a stripped-down session at The Current. Here's the acoustic version of "Juice."


Audio sampled
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
James Scott: "Frog Legs Rag"
Tom Waits: "Step Right Up"
Frito-Lay commercial
BoxCat Games - "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Common feat. Bilal: "Joy and Peace"
Jamila Woods: "EARTHA"
Charly Bliss: "Hard to Believe"
Mac DeMarco: "On the Square"
Mavis Staples: "Anytime"
Lizzo" "Juice" (Live at The Current)


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