The Philippe Dauman Jr. playlist

Nicholas Carlson · 02/28/08 05:00PM

Philippe Dauman Jr., triumphant Googler, entrepreneur, and son of Viacom's CEO, you're our new hero. So we made a playlist for you. Forgive us: We didn't have a password to your music startup, Yuzu, so we used rival Pandora's algorithm to find music about coke, boys, girls, boys and girls, and other things we imagine you like. Please play it this weekend. We'll be thinking of you as we do.

From David To Kelly: An 'Idol' Frontrunner's Brush With Destiny

Seth Abramovitch · 02/21/08 07:45PM

If you aren't yet familiar with magical Mormon munchkin David Archuleta, chances are you will be soon. Already dubbed the Chosen One by the LAT, the 17-year-old singing wunderkind seems as though he were literally fashioned out of plasticine by disconcertingly bedentured Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, ready out-of-the-box for mass tween consumption. And while his aw-shucks humility has served him well thus far in the competition (his reaction to the judge's gushing and Ryan Seacrest's mild flirtation after his first performance was something akin to tickling a five-year-old mercilessly), Archuleta, in keeping with the theme of this year's vet-heavy Idol, is no stranger to high-stakes performing.

Gene Simmons lawyer confirms sex tape's authenticity

Owen Thomas · 02/21/08 04:00PM

When burst upon the scene on Tuesday, we questioned whether it really featured Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, or just a lookalike. The revolution of the gossip culture wrought by the Web has transformed the consumption of celebrity lives. Since Paris Hilton went exposed, we're awash in fake sex-tape videos. But Simmons's own lawyers have now confirmed that the video on is the real deal. The pantsless, T-shirt-wearing man in the video is in fact Simmons, in a cease-and-desist letter they sent to Valleywag.

Gene Simmons sex tape leaked on Web (NSFW)

Owen Thomas · 02/19/08 08:06PM

"Watch the sex tape Gene doesn't want you to see," promises. The website purportedly hosts a NSFW sex tape of Kiss frontman Gene Simmons. Leave aside the question of whether anyone wants to see Simmons in flagrante. Does Simmons himself really object to the site? Nothing revives the Q factor of an aging rocker like a bit of scandal. Since he's no longer recording, just touring, he doesn't have a skittish label to appease. And thanks to the Internet, he doesn't have to rely on the tabloids to get his name out. Welcome to the age of DIY career makeovers. Is it really Simmons? Judge for yourself from these excerpts in which his face is most visible:

'American Idol' Controversies Cresting As Season 7 Begins

Mark Graham · 02/19/08 05:50PM

While American Idol is still a ratings powerhouse and one of the strongest franchises on television, there is no denying that the brand has taken more than its fair share of lumps since Jordin Sparks was crowned the winner of the show's sixth season. In addition to stillborn debuts from last season's two finalists (Blake Lewis and the aforementioned Miss Sparks), past winners like Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard were both recently unceremoniously dropped from their recording deals. So when confronted with waning ratings during this season's tiresome pre-series run of "Hey, Look At That Jackass" moments, it seems that Idol producers turned to a tride and true gimmick in order to get people talking about their show once again. They created a controversy.

Drown Yourself In Andre: It's Mark's Last Day

Seth Abramovitch · 02/15/08 03:47PM

What do you say about Mark Lisanti that doesn't instantly start sounding like pathetic gushing? Is he one of the funniest, most brilliant writers ever to put fingers to keyboard? Of that there is no doubt. Has he left a mark? Try a Godzilla-sized footprint. Working with him over the last three years has been nothing less than the creative experience of a lifetime. The best part is that beneath that mountain of talent, Mark is one of the most humble, humane, and menschy guys you will ever meet. Also: His career has only just begun.

The Ultimate Analysis of Snoop's "Sensual Seduction"

Nick Douglas · 02/13/08 05:24PM

"Snoop seems to have singlehandedly snatched the is-he-or-isn't-he irony confusion crown from R. Kelly," says tech exec Anil Dash, the blogger who appeared in the New York Times in a Goatse t-shirt. Dash figures that R. Kelly's "Trapped In The Closet" got boring when the artist realized the inanity of his own multi-part R&B drama. But in his 2007 song "Sensual Seduction" (or "Sexual Eruption," as Dash explains with 200 actually worthwhile words), Snoop is "both ridiculous and completely sincere." Read Dash's 8-point analysis and an examination of the breath tube, which Snoop uses instead of a vocoder or Auto-Tune. After the jump is the song itself, in the best music video ever.

Scarlett Johansson Draws Closer To Unfortunate Album Release

Hamilton Nolan · 02/13/08 01:27PM

It-girl actress Scarlett Johansson held a listening party last night to preview her upcoming album of Tom Waits covers. Waits, America's coolest living man, has reportedly given his blessing to the album for reasons known only to his own enigmatic self. Singing ditties for Barack Obama has not satisfied Scarlett, alas. After the jump, a full track listing from Johansson's unnecessary "Anywhere I Lay My Head" and a bonus video of the real version of one of the badass Waits songs, "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," that the actress will be warbling in an unlikely fashion when her album drops in May.

Memo: Judgment Day On Permanent Jobs For MTV Freelancers

Maggie · 01/31/08 10:51AM

The time has come for MTV Networks beleaguered slavey permalancers to learn their fate. Brand-new human resources lady Catherine Houser issued a memo an hour ago to the Viacom subsidiary's contractors, announcing they would learn if they were among the lucky group whose positions will be converted to staff jobs, as promised in December. On what basis will a permalancer earn job security and benefits? Among the benchmarks: "The position would be staff if there was headcount." Uhh...what? "The position transcends a specific project or show," is another. Considering that a key issue in the uproar over Viacom's benefit cuts last month centered around the frequent rotation of workers (which made it hard for them to accrue the required time needed to qualify for benefits), it sounds like MTVN has given itself a whole lot of leeway with that one. So you've been an MTVN cameraman for nine years? As far as Viacom is concerned, you only spent four months at a time on Pimp My Ride and Cribs, so you're shit out of luck, pal. God be with you, and also with you and you. Let us know how it goes. After the jump, the memo in full.

Jakob Lodwick disses Peter Rojas, just so we'll talk about him

Mary Jane Irwin · 01/30/08 06:00PM

Ousted Vimeo founder/CEO Jakob Lodwick has fallen into Tumblr-blogged obscurity. Without a scantily clad photo of Jakob and Julia every morning, why should we continue to care about his budding musical exploits? Lodwick must have gotten the memo, for he's taken on fellow nerd-hottie hipster entrepreneur Peter Rojas in an attempt to stay relevant. Lodwick (and everyone else) can't figure out what's so great about Rojas's Web-music thing, RCRD LBL. "They combined the worst way to discover music (genres) with the worst way to organize Web content (tag clouds)." Them's fighting words! At least he has one good point: the only people who think any of this crazy music 2.0 nonsense is a good idea are founders of music websites and their friends. (Photo of Jakob Lodwick by Jesse Winter) Update: Lodwick deleted the post. Luckily, we have a copy.

Science Proves You Just Like Music Because It's Popular

Nick Douglas · 01/29/08 09:33PM

Buried in the bottom of Clive Thompson's interview with the man who rebutted The Tipping Point is a description of a neat little study of how music catches on in subcultures. Yahoo research scientist Duncan Watts gave eight online groups of people the same collection of songs and let them rate and discuss them. As people rated and talked in each group, certain songs became popular hits — but each time it was different songs. But wait, it gets worse.

95 percent of music downloads are illegal

Nicholas Carlson · 01/25/08 01:20PM

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry — that's the RIAA for the rest of the world — says illegal music downloads outnumbered legal ones 20 to 1 in 2007. The music-industry association also expects CD sales, which dropped 11 percent between 2005 and 2006, to drop further in 2007. To the industry, this means we should all support measures like the one recently proposed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Software developer finally becomes a famous musician

Nicholas Carlson · 01/23/08 07:40PM

Stuck coding PHP for Facebook when all you really want in life is to belt out tunes to an adoring crowd? Don't take it out on your users, indentured code monkeys — dream big! That's what geek rocker Jonathan Coulton did. "I actually meant to become a famous musician when I first moved to New York after college, but just sort of forgot about it and got a software job instead," Coulton told interviewer Ben Gold.

"In No Way Do I Not Realize This Is Insane:" Did Jessica Joffe Block (Former) Boyfriend Ryan Adams' Email?

Sheila · 01/16/08 11:19AM

Yesterday, we received a poem from someone calling themselves Romantic Danzig, titled "poem for Jessica Joffe because she blocked my email." Whatever! But then we received separate information that Joffe, the glam writer (Vogue! Glamour! Observer alum!) and former Banana Republic model had broken up with scruffy "difficult to work with" NYC musician Ryan Adams. She has been credited with helping Ryan overcome his substance abuse problems. (As you might remember, he's prone to piss-drunk Internet ramblings). The poem, totally/probably written by Ryan, follows—along with his touching explanation.

"I Will Never Speak of This Again": What to Wear to Your Next Court Appearance

Sheila · 01/08/08 04:47PM

Elyse Sewell, the beat-up ex-girlfriend of the indie-band Shins keyboard player (and former America's Next Top Model contestant!), had to go to court today. "Soon I will find out whether I will be prosecuted or the District Attorney will drop the felony charges," she Livejournals. (She bit the keyboardist in self-defense). She posted a photo of herself standing outside a skeezy motel room, lookin' adorably waifish, yet appropriately demure, in a long black skirt, royal-blue mini-jacket, and T-strap shoes. Tyra would definitely approve! Her verdict, and her wide-eyed shock that her public Livejournal is "tabloid fodder," follows.

Sony strips Justin Timberlake bare for Amazon's MP3 store

Mary Jane Irwin · 01/04/08 03:20PM

Justin Timberlake, released by Sony's Jive label, will soon be available in MP3. This big news we found buried in a report that Sony BMG, the last of the four major record labels to hold onto copy-protection software, is finally going to embrace the MP3 format. The inevitable decision has generated a lot of drivel from mainstream publications about how industry titans are dropping DRM, whatever that is, and banding together to overthrow Apple's stringent 99-cents pricing regime., the copy-protection-free alternative they're embracing, is more flexible on the cost of individual tracks.

Philip Kaplan releases "greatest and best song in the world"

Owen Thomas · 12/15/07 08:15PM

Why did FuckedCompany creator Philip "Pud" Kaplan record a profane song, "Fuck," in August under the name "Farty McPoopants"? The pseudonym is easy enough to explain: His current venture is AdBrite, an online-advertising network. And selling ads is a business that's all about keeping up appearances. Given his past, you'd think Kaplan wouldn't be so sensitive. But even Kaplan knew he couldn't blow his cool. His company, an online-advertising network, was in the midst of a tense negotiation with porn-ads partner AVN, and trying to raise a new round of financing.

WGA Strike At Viacom: "The MTV Freelancers, What?"

Maggie · 12/13/07 05:30PM

We sacrificed vidkid Alex Goldberg to possible pneumonia and sent him to check out the joint WGA-Viacom protest outside Viacom this afternoon. There was some confusion among WGAers about what exactly they were doing in midtown, other than, you know, trying for the 39th day in a row to get paid or something. "The MTV freelancers, what?" said one guy, dismissing us swiftly by explaining that "It's the Viacom building so it's very high-profile." You don't say! Any thoughts on the never-ending writers strike, the length of which is inching us closer and closer with each passing day to watching The World's Most Smartest Model? "I thought they resolved that a couple weeks ago," someone walking out of the Viacom building told us. "I don't really go to Broadway shows," he apologized. Uh....