Friday, August 29, 2014

Shakira confirms she is expecting second child with Gerard Pique: Yes, I'm pregnant

Shakira, Shakira!

The Colombian beauty has confirmed she's expecting her second child with beau Gerard Pique.

"Yes, I'm pregnant," she said in the upcoming Mexican issue of Cosmopolitan magazine that hits newsstands in September.
Baby Numero Dos is proof positive of how in love the couple, who got together in 2010, are with one another.

"Seeing me in love is a constant state," she gushed. "There are no questions as the answer is simply there."

Already parents to 19-month-old son Milan, the pair are overjoyed about adding another little one to their family.

The news of the 37-year-old singer's second pregnancy first came out in July when her close friend, singer Carlos Vives, spilled the beans to Fox News Latino.

"Yes, she is pregnant and she's very happy," he said.

Now, the former "Voice" coach has confirmed she is in fact preggers with the 27-year-old soccer star's baby.

Shakira's baby bump isn't quite visible yet. The "Hips Don't Lie" singer posted a video Aug. 19 on Instagram when she accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from supermodel Gisele Bündchen.

She wore denim shorts and a baggy black T-shirt as she nominated Coldplay front man Chris Martin and Pope Francis.

Pique did the honors of dumping the icy cold H2O on his lady.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Are Married in France

Brangelina, making it official at last! Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie married this past Saturday, Aug. 23, a spokesperson for the couple confirmed to Us Weekly and the Associated Press on Thursday, Aug. 28.
"On Saturday, Aug. 23, in the presence of family and friends, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married in a small chapel in Chateau Miraval in France. It was a non-denominational civil ceremony," the spokesperson said in a statement. "It was very much a family affair."

Their marriage comes after two years of engagement and nine years together. The A-listers share six kids -- Maddox, 13, Pax, 10, Zahara 9, Shiloh, 8, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 6 -- and have hinted for years at making their union official.
Their children also took part in the wedding. Jolie, 39, walked down the aisle with Maddox and Pax, while Zahara and Vivienne "threw petals, gathered from the garden," the spokesperson said. "Shiloh and Knox were the ring bearers." See pics of Brad's wedding band.

Prior to exchanging vows, the couple obtained a marriage license from a California judge. The same judge also conducted the nondenominational civil ceremony in France.

Pitt, 50, proposed to Jolie in spring 2012 and designed a 16-carat engagement ring for his beloved in collaboration with jeweler Robert Procop. When confirming their engagement news in April 2012, Pitt's manager said: "Yes, it's confirmed. It is a promise for the future and their kids are very happy."

The bride told Elle magazine in its June 2014 issue that she never thought she would have her fairy tale ending. "I never thought I'd have children," Jolie said. "I never thought I’d be in love, I never thought I’d meet the right person. Having come from a broken home—you kind of accept that certain things feel like a fairy tale, and you just don’t look for them."

She also elaborated about her dynamic with her "person" Pitt. "You get together and you’re two individuals and you feel inspired by each other, you challenge each other, you complement each other, drive each other beautifully crazy," she said. "After all these years, we have history—and when you have history with somebody, you’re friends in such a very real, deep way that there’s such a comfort, and an ease, and a deep love that comes from having been through quite a lot together." (Jolie underwent a preventative mastectomy in February 2013.)

The couple first met on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith back in 2005, and are currently working on a new film together in Malta. As Us Weekly exclusively reported on Wednesday, Aug. 27, the couple shares some "crazy sex scenes" in By the Sea, which was written and directed by Jolie.
This is the second marriage for Pitt, who was wed to Jennifer Aniston from 2000 to 2005, and the third for Jolie, who was married to Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kate Bush, British pop singer, returns to the stage after 35 years

Ecstatic fans have welcomed British pop singer Kate Bush back to the stage for her first show in 35 years.

The crowd stood and roared with approval as Bush, dressed in black, entered the stage with her back-up singers and opened with her 1993 song Lily, followed by Hounds of Love.
More than 80,000 tickets for the 56-year-old's 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, where Bush last performed in 1979, sold out in 15 minutes when they went on sale in March.

Second-hand tickets had been advertised online for more than $1,650.

Among the crowd was Brisbane teacher Vicki Skehan, who said she had spent about $16,500 on a business-class plane fare to London, accommodation and tickets for two performances.

"So far, so good," she said during the interval of the show, adding that Bush's voice was "still fantastic, and if anything sounds better, with more depth".

The theatrical show included video, a helicopter and a sea rescue scene. It ranged over the three decades of Bush's career with songs such as Oh England My Lionheart and Babooshka.

Bush finished the concert with Cloudbusting, receiving a final standing ovation after being on stage for nearly three hours.

"Thank you very much for such a warm and positive response," she said.

The performance made the front page of many of Britain's newspapers, with the Daily Mail describing it as a "triumphant return" and the Guardian calling it "unbelievable".

"There was undoubtedly only one artist who would have had the bloody-mindedness, nerve and beautifully skewed imagination to pull it off," wrote the Mirror.

Eleven of Bush's albums have risen into this week's Top 100 albums chart for sales, with her greatest hits collection, The Whole Story, reaching number eight, according to

Her most recent release, 50 Words For Snow, also saw the biggest week-on-week percentage increase of 810 per cent and has sold 155,000 copies so far, the charts company said.

The singer had asked the audience in advance not to use phones or cameras during the performance, and the rule was strictly enforced.

Reluctance to play live
Bush burst onto the scene in 1978 at the age of 19, when her debut single Wuthering Heights went to the top of Britain's singles chart and stayed there for four weeks.

The song's distinctive soprano vocals and ethereal video divided audiences, but Bush cemented her reputation as one of pop's true innovators with follow-up singles such as Running Up That Hill.

Artists as diverse as Tupac Shakur, Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten, Bjork and Coldplay have all cited Bush as an influence.

Her 2011 album 50 Words For Snow was the last of 10 album releases, but her only tour took place in April and May of 1979.

Despite the success of the Tour of Life, a theatrical spectacle involving magicians, poetry and 17 different costume changes, it would take her three decades to go back on tour.

Various theories were put forward to explain her reluctance to play live including a lack of artistic control, a chronic fear of flying and the anguish caused by the death of a roadie during one of her 1979 shows.

But she told the BBC in 2011 that it was the physical strain of her energetic shows which had put her off.

She singled out her teenage son Bertie, who sang and acted in the show, for giving her the confidence to perform.

"The adventure's only just begun," she told him onstage.

The ambitious staging and a voice untouched by time meant "the long wait felt worth it", the Independent wrote.

"It's quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious and genuinely moving piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Indie Pop Singer Gina Cutillo Launches New Single "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)" and Captures Major Label Attention

Indie Pop Singer Gina Cutillo Launches New Single "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)" and Captures Major Label Attention.
Pop singer/songwriter Gina Cutillo announces the release of her new music single, "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)" and captures the attention of music major labels and TV companies. This is Gina's 2nd single to her 3rd upcoming album.

New York, NY - Self made pop singer Gina Cutillo announces the release of her new music single, "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)". The catchy pop song is upbeat with an infectious chorus and lyrics that pushes Gina right next to the best. "I've never had a response this quickly on a song release, the majors seem to have found me," Laughs Cutillo. "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)" is Gina's follow up single to recently released song "In Time" which was signed to APM (licensing company) before it's release.

The new single was recorded at Betamax Studios with David Caggiano and the video for the song was set on a rooftop overlooking the Manhattan skyline revealing every hope the city and this song has to offer.
"It is a great song and video and her vocals sound better than ever," Lou Plaia, co-founder of ReverbNation, said. Fans can listen to "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)" on YouTube.

Cutillo's voice has a combination of sexiness and softness, and her passion can be heard throughout the song. Some of her musical influences include: Madonna, Etta James, Ellie Goulding, PJ Harvey, Sheryl Crow and Nirvana.

The Long Island native's music has been featured on popular shows and movies including Oprah, Means Girls 2 and Degrassi. Oprah uses Cutillo's song, "Remember You" for her OWN Network campaign commercial. Cutillo has also performed with Prince and toured with Katy Perry, Cobra Starship and Paramore on Warped Tour. She continues to receive placements on major networks like VH1 and E! Her charming stage presence and catchy songs have won over many audiences and other artists who have toured with her. Cutillo's fan base ranges from age 16 to beyond, but fans as young as 13 enjoyed her performance at the Warped Tour.

Download "Fly (Feel Love Tonight)," on iTunes today

For tour & booking information, visit Cutillo's website:


Gina Cutillo

ginacutillo ( @ ) gmail dot com

Beyoncé's Feminist performance at MTV VMAs

It was the image that provoked the biggest online debate during last night’s MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles.
Not Nicki Minaj undergoing a wardrobe malfunction, Miley Cyrus asking a homeless man to accept her award or Katy Perry dressed as Britney Spears, but a picture of Beyoncé performing in front of a giant neon ‘Feminist’ sign.

During her 15 minute performance, the singer used a sample from novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED speech “We should all be feminists” in her song “Flawless”.

Many took to Twitter to praise Beyoncé for promoting feminism through popular culture and for helping to break down the negative stigma surrounding the word.

However, others were concerned that the singer’s version of feminism appeared to have been interpreted as overt objectification, pointing to lyrics such as “Bow Down Bitches” and her sexually provocative dancing.

The singer reluctantly called herself a feminist in an interview with US Vogue last year, saying: “That word can be very extreme…But I guess I am a modern-day feminist.”

She was also criticised for calling herself Mrs Carter on her world tour, after the surname of her husband Jay Z, when she had previously sung about being an independent woman.

But earlier this year the singer penned an open feminist letter about the myth of gender equality in response to findings that 42 million women in the US lived in poverty.

She also backed Sheryl Sandberg's 'Ban Bossy' campaign to empower girls to lead assertively without being called out for doing so.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Christina Aguilera and Matt Rutler Welcome baby girl

Christina Aguilera is a mom for the second time.

Aguilera, 33, and fiance Matt Rutler, 28, welcomed a baby girl on Saturday. The pop singer announced the news via Twitter, along with the newborn's name: "So proud to welcome our beautiful daughter Summer Rain Rutler into the world."
News of Aguilera's pregnancy and engagement surfaced in February. At the time, Aguilera also showed off a photo of her sparkly engagement ring. This is her second child. She already has a six-year-old son, Max, with her first husband, Jordan Bratman. The new edition marks Rutler's first child.

Rutler and Aguilera met in 2010 on the set of "Burlesque," where Rutler had been working as a production assistant.

Aguilera provided updates on her pregnancy leading up to the birth -- even from the studio: 

Baby girl getting first listen to what mama's been creating in the studio.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Juno Actor Michael Cera is Now an Indie Pop Singer

Surprise, surprise! Michael Cera, famed for his roles in "Arrested Development" and "Juno", is now an indie-pop recording artist.
 Cera has just released an indie-pop album entitled "True That" which contains 18 short songs now available for download. The album, which contains three bonus tracks, costs $7.

In true indie, word-of-mouth style, the album release was announced by Cera's close friend and Superbad co-star, Jonah Hill, via his Twitter.

Hill posted, "My great friend Michael Cera [is] not only is a brilliant actor, he also makes great music." The "Wolf of Wall Street" star also added the link to Cera's Bandcamp account.

Many of the tracks in the album are instrumental with lo-fi vocals. Cera's instruments of choice seem to be a piano, an organ and a guitar. The actor tagged his music to be "alternative / dirty / hello / home recording / modest / music / New York".

The 26-year old's album is surprisingly amazing, with lyrics such as "Coming through the filter, sweet upon my lips / the smoke mollifies the lung into which it rips." Who knew the kid who usually played a dorky, awkward teen had so much melancholy in him?

Prior to "True That", Cera joined Mr Heavenly as the band's touring bassist. Mr Heavenly is an indie "supergroup" composed of Honus Honus of Man Man, Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins, and Nicholas Thorburn of Islands and The Unicorns.

Aside from collaborating with Mr Heavenly, the actor also sang a cover of a Moldy Peaches song for the Juno soundtrack. Currently, he is performing on Broadway in the production "This is Our Youth".

Will Arnett, Cera's co-star in "Arrested Development" announced that the once-defunct television series will be coming back for a fifth season. Cera plays George Michael, the awkwardly funny son of the main character of the series, Michael Bluth. Michael Bluth is played by actor Jason Bateman.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Exclusive Interview Q&A with Rising Pop Singer Tiffany Houghton

20-year-old rising pop singer hailing from Dallas, Texas (now moved to Los Angeles) Tiffany Houghton is bringing a fresh new sound to pop music with her own personal songs. She has it all in her in-expansion catalogue; upbeat, mid-tempo and slow jams. The beautiful blonde singer with a spark in her eyes has passed from posting covers on YouTube (although she still enjoys recording a few from time to time) to releasing her own songs (she’s a terrific lyricist, did I mention that?) on iTunes and even premiering music videos on the VEVO network. Through social media, Tiffany’s amassed a considerable number of fans, and that number keeps on enlarging.

The music video for her debut single “High” (2013) is above the 1 million views mark on YouTube, she dropped an additional song before 2013 ended called "Phone Call", and throughout the first 8 months of 2014 she's released four original songs: "17 Again", "Love Like That", "Island" and “The Best” (which Tiffany dropped after our exclusive Q&A with her below). Music videos for "Island" and “The Best” aren’t available yet, but Tiffany loves music videos, so expect to have those on YouTube soon.

DirectLyrics recently caught up with Tiffany Houghton for a quick Q&A and she had a few things to tell us. From what her song-writing process is, revealing whether she plans to drop an EP/album soon, touring with MKTO, her love for Nick Jonas or willing to give Avril Lavigne one of her songs! Get into Tiffany's riveting music now!

The Interview Q&A with Pop Singer Tiffany Houghton

Q - At what age did you realize you had the God-gifted talent of singing and how did you exactly make it from Dallas to Nashville and then to release songs on iTunes and videos on VEVO?

A - When I was 6 years old I told my parents I would be a famous singer one day. I started writing in a journal at that age and then playing piano at 8! I started going to Nashville when I was 15 and then graduated early and made the move out there at 17!

Q - What’s the song-writing process like for you? Do you go straight to writing the lyrics or do you come up with a melody first?

A - Lyrics always come to me first. I love writing on a piece of paper with a pen, then I get out my guitar and start pairing a melody in my head with the emotion of the song.

Q - You’re currently releasing music independently, but your music video for “High” (released last year) has been watched over 1 million times on YouTube. Congratulations! Has “High” opened a few doors for you?

A - Thank you so much! More than anything, "High" was a personal success for me. I feel as if it gave me the confidence I needed to move forward into the world of pop music as both a songwriter and as an artist.

Q - “High” was a really good pop song and so summery! Are you planning to release a song of the same upbeat, cheerful pop style this summer? (We definitely need a new "High"!).

A - I love happy songs, but to be honest my songs aren't something I can plan for. They come as real life comes - day by day. Some happy, some sad, all real.

Q - You premiered last month a new song called “Island”. What’s the inspiration behind it and do you have a treatment for the video already in mind?

A - Yes! I am VERY excited about the treatment. I went into production on this song wanting it to sound like an 'Island'. I'm so proud of the way it turned out! Can't wait for everyone to see my vision come to life for the video.

Q - You said last year in an interview that you were to release in 2014 fourteen new songs and music videos! That's an impressive number of songs. Are you going to keep that promise? Also, what's the reason behind releasing songs individually and not packing them all up on for an EP/full-length album release?

A - I believe each song has it's own life. At least in my case, they're all life stories and I think an album can cheapen a song. I want each of my stories to have their own life. I'm putting out lots of songs this year, but they will each come out separately so they all have their own time to shine.

Q - You’re currently on the road with MKTO. What’s your favourite song of them and have you had any memorable anecdotes thus far?

A - I love "CLASSIC"!!! I dance on the side of the stage almost every night. The song doesn't get old. It's magical. My favorite moment with Tony was when we went and got some Mardi Gras masks in New Orleans! Malcolm and I like to play basketball. We're making a team!...I think we're better as musicians though.

Q - You’ve done a few amazing covers in the past. What’s one that you hope to do very soon?

A - Well, I love Nick Jonas!!!! He tweeted me the other day and I cried. And I just covered his new song "Chains". That's my new cover!

Q - What are Tiffany Houghton’s Top 5 songs of the moment?

A - 'Classic' - MKTO

'Air Balloon' - Lily Allen

'When'- Shania Twain

'Chains' - Nick Jonas

'She Looks So Perfect' - 5 Seconds of Summer

Q - Where are you answering this Q&A from and what's your day been like?

A - I'm in the back of a car on the way to 101.9 Amp radio in Orlando!! My day is just starting so I woke up on the bus then went into the the hotel and got ready!

Q - If you could give one of your songs for an artist that you admire to record, who would it be, what song would you give him/her and why that song?

A - I would give my brand new song "The Best" to Avril Lavigne. She's an idol of mine and I think she'd kill it on that song.

Q - You are very young girl and I'm sure you still have many dreams to achieve. What's the one dream you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

A - I want to play a tour in arenas and I want to meet nearly every single person that comes to my show. I LOVE seeing the light in a persons eyes. They put that same light into mine.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Iggy Azalea Sounds like a Pop Star in Unearthed Music Video

A newly-unearthed Iggy Azalea track from the early days of her career has revealed the hip hop rapper was far more of a Britney Spears-style popstar when she started out.
The Australian star has cited a long obsession with rap music which began when she was just 14 and led her to moving halfway across the world to Miami and then Atlanta, Georgia at the tender  age of 14 to pursue her lofty musical dreams.

Though it seems that somewhere along the way her dream veered a little off track, with a short 90-second video, shared by a fan on YouTube over the weekend, showing the 24-year-old in a completely different light.

The track, which is titled Nothing Like Me, sees her dressed in little more than a pair of high-waisted black knickers, thigh-high lace-up tan leather boots and a corseted black and gold bodice worn under a black military-style waistcoat with silver shoulder adornments.

A matching vintage-style WWII Flight Cap sits atop her long white-blonde locks, which are worn in  a poker-straight style down around her shoulders.

The singer prances about, gyrating to the synthesised poppy track - which is eerily similar to Ms Spears' hit 2009 song Radar - surrounded by scantily-clad dancers.

At one point she even sings from between one of the dancer's fishnet stocking-clad legs, which are covered in holes.

She then turns her back to the camera as she shakes her booty seductively.

While the song immediately drew comparisons to Britney, there's also a genie reference in the lyrics that harks back to Christina Aguilera's 1999 debut single Genie In A Bottle.
It leaves no doubt as to why Iggy soon returned to her first love, with the bubblegum pop style not something that would make her stand out in a sea of much more slick productions - the heavily produced track nothing to write home about.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Selena Gomez Wins Ultimate Choice Award at Teen Choice Awards 2014

In recognition of Selena Gomez and her versatility at proving that she shines as an actress as well as a chart topping singer, this Sunday she will receive the Ultimate Choice Award at the Teen Choice Awards 2014, according to E! The award is shaped like a surfboard, as are all of the awards that celebrities will win. It is the top award that will be presented on the show. The Teen Choice Awards 2014 will be on Fox on August 10th at 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. CT.

By winning the Ultimate Choice Award, Selena Gomez, 22, will join past famous recipients of it like Reese Witherspoon, Britney Spears, Serena and Venus Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ashton Kutcher, Mike Myers and Justin Timberlake. The Come and Get It singer will be honored by the entertainment industry for her numerous contributions. Though Gomez is still relatively young, her growing list of accomplishments was more than enough for her to be honored with this prestigious award.

Tyler Posey of the hit show, Teen Wolf, will be the host of the Teen Choice Awards 2014. Jenifer Lopez will be one of the many celebrity presenters of awards. The musical performers who will be appearing on the awards show include Cher Lloyd, Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.

Other musical performers and celebrities who will be either performing or handing out awards on the Teen Choice Awards 2014 show are Kim Kardashian, Rita Ora, Nat Wolff, Rixton, Magic!, The Band Perry, Kendall Jenner, Cody Simpson, Lea Michele, Fifth Harmony, Sarah Hyland, Hilary Duff, Josh Hutcherson, Megan “April O’Neil” Fox, Colton Haynes and Kevin Hart. The Teen Choice Awards 2014 show seems to attract more and more big name singers, actors and other celebrities every year.

Receiving the Ultimate Choice Award at the Teen Choice Awards 2014 is coming at a great time for Selena Gomez, as she needs some good news after the week that she has had. For example, just last Sunday, Gomez, after leaving a 7/11, got into a car accident. Reportedly, paparazzi, trying to get a photograph of the pop diva, were the cause of the accident. Gomez gave her insurance information to the couple in the other vehicle and offered them a Burke Williams luxury day spa package. She then tweeted about what had happened to her fans.

Selena Gomez was shaken by the minor accident, but she did not insult the paparazzi who allegedly were behind the accident occurring. Instead, she referred to them in her tweet as being “men with cameras who have great careers.” Though the “men with the cameras” might have caused the accident, Gomez was acknowledging that they were just trying to do their job by photographing her.

Not only will Selena Gomez be winning the top award, the Ultimate Choice Award, on Sunday night at the Teen Choice Awards 2014; she is also starring in Behaving Badly, a comedy movie written and directed by Tim Garrick and and also starring Mary-Lousie Parker and Nat Wolff as 16-year-old Rick Stevens. In the comedy, Rick Stevens has a crush on Selena’s character, Nina Pennington. She is a temptress whose overbearing boyfriend in the flick, Kevin, is played by Austin Stowell. Patrick Warburton is another of the movie’s stars. He plays Principal Basil Poole. Dylan McDermott and Gary Busey also star in the movie. Check out the video trailer below to see a preview of the flick! Congratulations ahead of time, Selena Gomez, on winning the Ultimate Choice Award!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Trinidad Pop Singer Richie Luna on Music Channel MTV

Trinidadian pop singer Richie Luna is being featured on the cable music channel MTV 2 with his song Celebrate (The Call To Light). 
The video was posted on the MTV Web site on Monday and has been shared via social networks Twitter and Facebook more than 6,000 times so far. 
Luna is the alter ego of Richie Sabga, a musician and entrepreneur who started his road-lights company Luna Road in 2008, and his musical career in 2010 as popstar-cum-superhero Richie Luna. 
Sabga said in an interview in July that the idea for the Richie Luna character was developed over a three or four-year period. 
“The original idea started off as a movie script, however, given my innate love and passion for music, I decided to tell the story of Richie Luna through writing songs and equivalent music videos. Each song and video representing a unique chapter of his story,” he said. 
The character himself is a superhero with the power to generate moonlight energy, using it to bring light and love to a depressed world. 
The video started getting international attention when it debuted on the Yahoo Music and Vevo sites on June 26. It was produced by Alan Ferreira and Nigel Celestine with cinematography by Ronald Lee. Some of the scenes feature Port-of-Spain as the backdrop and there is an appearance by masman Peter Minshall who plays one of the mid-level villains. 

Watch Richie Luna video in MTV Website, visit

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Watch Electro Pop Singer Kiesza Perform an Acoustic Cover of Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box

A surprisingly heartfelt, stripped-down performance from an artist known for dance pop.

If you don’t know Canadian singer-songwriter Kiesza by name, you still may know her crazy-infectious single “Hideaway.” But during a recent appearance on NME Basement Sessions, the singer proved that she’s good for more than just dancing her way through the streets of Brooklyn wearing suspenders. (For the record: she’s great at that.)

Armed with just an acoustic guitar, Kiesza delivered a surprisingly emotional and uncharacteristically stripped-down performance of Nirvana’s 1993 classic “Heart-Shaped Box.” Warning: this is likely to give you many feels.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

American Idol Michael Johns dead at 35

Michael Johns, the Perth singer who charmed tens of millions of viewers on hit US TV show American Idol, has died. He was 35.

The charismatic performer is believed to have died from a blood clot in his ankle, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"It is with a heavy heart and inconsolable sadness that we confirm the passing of our friend Michael Johns," the administrator of his website tweeted on Saturday.

Johns impressed the notoriously tough English judge Simon Cowell when he appeared as a contestant on the top-rating show in 2008.

Johns made it to the finals, finishing eighth, despite controversy.

American Idol have posted a statement on their Facebook page remembering Johns as an incredible talent, sharing their sadness at his passing.

"He was a part of our American Idol family and he will be truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time," it said.

Friends and fans have shared their condolences on social media, all expressing shock at the sudden death of Johns.

Johns placed 8th in the 2008 season of American Idol, recording the album, "Hold Back My Heart" in 2009.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review of Channel 4 The Singer Takes It All

Alan Carr's new talent show was beset by technical problems, and exceptionally low rent – even for a Friday night on C4.

“The Singer Takes It All (Channel 4) is a new singing game show where YOU the audience have all the power!” shrieked the app I downloaded on my iPad ahead of the show’s debut. “There’s no panel of judges – you, and everyone else watching, decide the fate of each contestant in real time, using this app.” 
Alan Carr shrieked much the same as he bounded onscreen. He informed the wildly enthusiastic studio audience they were “a waste of space” as they had no voting power, although the sentiment could just as easily have applied to him. The contestants had been chosen via the app. All the important information was articulated by a giant pair of disembodied lips hovering above him. At least the audience was providing some atmosphere.

The question of whether TV needed yet another singing competition was irrelevant. This wasn’t The X Factor, Carr insisted. It wasn’t about making dreams come true. It was all about the viewer experience. What it would feel like to vote Hit or Miss from the comfort of our sofas and watch people survive or fail, instantly at the press of a button. OUR buttons.

Except of course it wasn’t really like that. As Carr introduced the first act, student Will Conner, strode out, warbled not very impressively for ninety seconds and, even though I hit my Miss button four times (the limit per performance) failed to disappear from the treadmill as promised.

‘Er, the app wasn’t working on that one’ squeaked Carr. The sense of let down was severe. As the second contestant, 18-year-old vocal student Sophie Watson Carr, belted out a rabble-rousing Son of a Preacher Man, the app seemed to have come onstream and I cast my votes as she moved inexorably forward to the “gold zone” and the possibility of winning.

"Uh, the app wasn’t working that time either,” croaked Carr, though not exactly mortified. “It’s live, what can you do?” 

Except, the app must have been working, because as it turned out, young Sophie emerged the winner at the end despite four other singers coming on and singing their (very varied) best – in two cases disappearing in puffs of smoke when their Miss rate hit critical. Or maybe it wasn’t and she just won anyway because it was live and she was lucky and there was no time to stop and debate the matter. Either way she deserved it

I’d lost faith in the voting process by then anyway. Not just because of the technical problems, but because the voting as a whole didn’t seem to reflect my own choices. I simply didn’t get the kick I was promised. But I’d lost faith in the show in a bigger sense too. Because while it was never intended to be slick, it was definitely a lot clunkier than it should have been. And while it never got to be as tawdry and gladiatorial as it might have been, it still felt exceptionally low rent – even for a Friday night on Channel 4. One thing’s for sure, I won’t be staying in for this one again.