Ryan Adams to Release iTunes Session

Ryan Adams is set to release his first-ever iTunes Session on April 24 with a preorder available today on the iTunes Store. The set captures eight stunning solo performances by Adams that were recorded at the historic Capitol Studios in Hollywood. The track listing features a mix of Adams' classics from his 2000 solo debut Heartbreaker, the Whiskeytown era “Houses On The Hill,” and songs from his acclaimed new album Ashes & Fire, including the No. 1 AAA radio hit “Lucky Now.”

The session also includes a cover of Bob Mould’s “Black Sheets of Rain,” which Adams performed at a Mould tribute concert in Los Angeles last year.

The track listing for Adams’ iTunes Session is as follows:
1. Dirty Rain
2. Oh My Sweet Carolina
3. Lucky Now
4. Houses on The Hill
5. Black Sheets of Rain
6. Chains of Love
7. Ashes and Fire
8. My Winding Wheel

Justin Vernon Working on Album with Rapper Astronautalis

The Minneapolis City Pages is reporting that Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has formed a new band with the folksy indie-rapper Astronautalis and that the two began recording a new album this past weekend. The collaboration also includes Gayngs mastermind Ryan Olson and Bon Iver drummer/solo artist S. Carey.

According to the City Pages, Astronautalis claims that the collaboration won’t just be him rapping and Vernon singing hooks, and that it may only sound like a rap album to a certain degree: “There may be tracks where I freestyle for hours and hours, and we may end up using four words.”

Astronautalis has begun posting updates from the recording sessions on his Tumblr.

What do you think? Will you listen?

Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music to Release Single This Friday

Good Friday just got a little more G.O.O.D., as Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label will release a new single, "Mercy," on Friday, April 6. The track will presumably preview the upcoming G.O.O.D. Music group album.

News of the single came via Pusha T, the Clipse rapper who is currently working on his official debut album for the Def Jam imprint. "April 6th is GOOD Friday… 'MERCY' drops.." he posted on Twitter.

fun. Fends Off Bieber, Lands at No. 1 for Fifth Week

fun.'s "We Are Young," feat. Janelle Monae, tops the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart for a fifth week, just holding off Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend," which debuts at No. 2 with the second-highest-ever debut digital sales week at 521,000 first-week downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Boyfriend" likewise logs an impressive first week of airplay, debuting at No. 24 on the Radio Songs chart with 40 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen BDS. With its No. 2 start, Bieber notches his highest Hot 100 placement. He had previously ranked as high as No. 5 when "Baby" debuted (and peaked) at No. 5 the week of Feb. 6, 2010.

A notable factor in the chart battle between "Boyfriend" and "Young" is the latter song's upper hand in streaming. "Young" remains atop the On-Demand Songs chart with 1.18 million on-demand streams (flat from last week) in the chart's tracking week, according to BDS.

Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," feat. Kimbra, rises 4-3. The collaboration, which tops Alternative Songs for a seventh consecutive week, gained 17% to 244,000 downloads sold. It advances 20-16 on Radio Songs (52 million, up 23%) and remains at No. 2 on On-Demand Songs (961,000, up 10%).

Rounding out the Hot 100 are U.K. boy band The Wanted, slipping 3-4 with "Glad You Came," and Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger."

Read the Variance cover story on Gotye.

Read the Variance cover story on fun.

Spotlight: 14-Year-Old Singer Macy Medford on the Rise

In today’s music world, age is no longer a factor when it comes to rising stars in youth culture. With teenaged acts like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez in the spotlight, many young people have become inspired— or simply more determined—to be ranked among the best of them. Texas pop sensation Macy Medford, 14, is one of those destined to be heard.

Performing arts played a significant role for Medford at a young age, helping in her personal discovery to being a well-rounded artist. “I got started in music when I did the school talent show in second grade, and I [played] Annie,” says Medford. “I also love writing poetry, so that is how I got started writing my own music.”

Medford connected with award-winning writer-producers Jonathan George and Anthony Mazza. Together they created a collection of tracks for her album, Crazy ‘Bout You. Her hit single on the record, “Just Me and You,” landed the No. 1 spot on the Tween Pop Radio charts the week of its debut. The song has also been appropriately paired with a music video that personifies its carefree melody.

With Medford’s bubbly personality and high-spirited songs, she surprisingly links her pop tunes with more mature genres. “My music is unique because it has a very jazzy, bluesy sound mixed with pop,” Medford explains. “Etta James, Norah Jones and Michael Buble inspire me in my music because I love their bluesy sounds. They are what made me want to sing jazz music.”

Read the full story and more in the current issue of Variance.

Fiona Apple Announces Album Release Date

Fiona Apple's return will come on June 26, the singer revealed on her Facebook page on Monday.

Her fourth album, the ambitiously titled "The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do," will offer 10 new tracks, including several debuted during her recent tour dates. The dates, which kicked off at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, in March, have been Apple's first shows outside of L.A. in five years.

She also shared the new album's cover art, a sketched, multi-colored face with elements of abstract design.

Read the full story from Billboard.

Adele Discusses Hopes of Collaboration with Beyonce

Adele has said she'd love to team up with Beyonce.

The singer, who reportedly pulled out of a duet with the star at last year's Glastonbury festival, told French radio station NRJ she is still keen to collaborate.

She added: "I adore Beyonce, I've been listening to her since I was about 11. I think her work as an artist and a singer is enviable in terms of the length of her career and how she's grown and grown, but most of my inspirations are [from] old music and sadly they have all died."

Last month her LP, overtook Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms to become the sixth biggest selling album of all time in the UK. It has now sold 4.15 millions copies in the UK, meaning the equivalent of one in six of the country's households now own a copy the album.

After joking about taking a half-decade to follow up the chart-topping, Grammy-winning 21, Adele now says her next full-length will take "a good two years."

"If I didn't write my own songs, I'd be out next week with a new album," she told NRJ. "I have to take time and live a little bit. There were a good two years between my first and second albums, so it'll be the same this time."

However, she did promise a new single, "probably by the end of the year" -- a track the BBC predicts could be the theme song for the next James Bond film, Skyfall. 007's latest is due in theaters Nov. 9, 2012.

Gotye: Spotify Is OK, Vinyl Should Replace CDs [COVER STORY]

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from this month's cover story featuring the musical phenom Gotye.

Belgian-Australian artist Gotye's (born Wouter De Backer) single “Somebody That I Used to Know” (off his third album, Making Mirrors) has risen to Top 10 positions on charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and a host of other countries no one knew had a taste for Aussie music.

The irony is that De Backer almost moved on with the record without “Somebody.” Finding the perfect female vocals—eventually provided by New Zealand singer-songwriter, Kimbra--was taking too long, he says. “I had already waited over two years so there were moments where I thought it just wasn’t meant to be. It probably would have been a different story had I not waited,” he adds.

That story may have been less flashy, but as for what would happen if “Somebody” hadn’t made the track list, De Backer is content to think that business as usual would have been okay. “I reckon I probably would have put up a lot of money for the record trying to release it independently,” he speculates.

Despite its universal theme of broken relationships, “the song is perhaps peculiar and coming from a strange place for a pop hit,” De Backer admits.

His four-week stateside tour is totally sold out and several shows have already graduated into larger venues than originally planned. His success is mounting stratospherically and fans the world over are lending him eyes and ears. Following his first television appearance in the States on Jimmy Kimmel in February, the artist will make his debut on Saturday Night Live later this month. “[SNL has] never been broadcast on Australian television so I don’t think [Auss- ies] appreciate the cultural relevance of that show,” he notes. “It’s sort of one of the premier pop culture shows in the United States.” With opportunities like this coming at him left and right— “Somebody” will also be covered on the spring premiere of Glee on April 10—De Backer is getting a rich taste of American culture and music.

“The American music scene allows for artists to create a loyal following and never quite become what might be considered mainstream but still be successful. That’s not really possible in Australia,” he observes. “It’s interesting in America because you have so many types of music and even cities. There are no real hot spots for music [in Australia] like you have here in the States.”

De Backer is experiencing many of these “hot spots” as he rides the proverbial wave of new international music pouring into the United States. He has found tremendous success and seems destined to change the rules about what makes good pop music—very much like Adele.

“You have these interesting times where different sounds start to grab the attention of the powers that be or radio execs decide that this is rock right now or pop right now,” De Backer observes. “I think a large group of people are sick of the highly sexualized, auto-tuned pop or really heavy R&B that has defined the American pop landscape for a while now. Yeah, there have been other artists in different genres but many haven’t poked through because of the pop success formula. I think it’s great, Adele’s success, because labels have been more open to music that is more organic-sounding or doesn’t fit into the current pop mold.”

That mold is changing in large part due to international artists becoming more accessible to American consumers via the Internet. De Backer’s own video of “Somebody” is the perfect example, with more than 131 million views in the eight months since its release. The video’s success, plus a couple of key Twitter endorsements from social media maven, Ashton Kutcher, and Brit-rocker, Lily Allen, have opened America’s arms wide for De Backer and a host of other artists across the pond.

But with the accessibility and “free”dom of the Internet comes the inevitable question: how are artists supposed to get paid? “When you look at royalties based on what artists get paid from services and subscriptions like Spotify, you have to have a really sizable audience streaming your music many, many times before that translates into whatever millions of cents you get and before it results in someone deciding they like the song enough and that they’re prepared to pay a dollar,” De Backer points out. “That kind of model does undercut artists because of what it still costs to make records...but at the same time, I can’t imagine disallowing people the chance to hear what you do, making it more inconvenient for them to discover your music.”

It’s a Catch-22 that every artist is looking square in the eye these days. But on a more nostalgic note, De Backer is joining hundreds of other indie artists in fully embracing the resurgence of an old medium that leaves no question about rights or cost or accessibility: vinyl.

“It’s an important medium for music and it is probably the medium that should continue.” De Backer insists. “I think it sounds better than CDs. Really, all the fodder the music industry put out in the mid-80s about CDs being indestructible and endless; it’s not true. Analog media—like vinyl—will last decades longer than a CD if you take care of them, long after a CD can’t be read anymore. It’s a pure medium.”

De Backer’s enchantment with vinyl began with the extensive collection he received from a neighbor as a teenager, most of which he still owns. “Vinyl has a great sense of romance to it,” he adds. “I think, in the future, music should be released just digitally and on vinyl and CDs will be gotten rid of and we can stop wasting resources on them, those little shiny discs!”

Read the full story and more in the April issue of Variance.

PREVIEW: 'Glee' Covers Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"

As was previously announced, Fox's Glee will cover Gotye's hit song, "Somebody That I Used to Know" (feat. Kimbra), for its highly-anticipated return on Tuesday, April 10. The episode, which features White Collar's Matt Bomer as Blaine's (Darren Criss) older brother, will be the first of several leading up to the season finale.

While not the powerhouse it once was, Glee has still proven to be a force within mainstream culture. In 2011, the show covered fun.'s "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae), which has since become the top-selling track of the year so far. Now, Glee is covering "Somebody," a song which is already dominating the charts--perhaps in hopes of coming back strong before its season ends.

Gotye, who is Variance's April cover story, discusses his rise in pop culture as well as his views on Spotify and his upcoming debut on Saturday Night Live--all in the new issue.

Watch the full performance here: "Somebody" (by Criss and Bomer) before it airs on April 10.

Digital Charts: fun. is No. 1, Gotye takes No. 2

Two of the hottest songs in the world right now will battle for No. 1 next week!

fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) claims a sixth week at No. 1 on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 387,000 downloads (up 11%).

Most songs see a huge sales week either in their debut week, during Christmas time or right after the Grammy Awards. However, "We Are Young" saw its massive 387,000 sales frame without any of those aids. Since SoundScan began tracking download sales in 2003, only one song has had a larger week that wasn't caused by a debut, Christmas or the Grammys. That was when Flo Rida's "Right Round" sold 460,000 in its second week on the chart -- March 7, 2009.

Finally, "We Are Young" is now the year's top selling song with 2.39 million sold. It has surpassed Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" at 2.25 million.

Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" (featuring Kimbra), rises 4-2 on Digital Songs with 208,000 (up 25%) and the Wanted's "Glad You Came" slips 2-3 with 183,000.

Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," from "The Hunger Games" soundtrack, debuts at No. 4 with 176,000. (The Hunger Games soundtrack also debuts at No. 1 this week following a record-breaking opening weekend.)

Read the full story from Billboard

White Stripes Reunion 'Only If We Were Bankrupt'

Detroit rocker Jack White, who is currently on his solo tour, has revealed that he will only reform the White Stripes if they were to hit bankruptcy.

Speaking to NME, White called a reunion "a really sad thing" if it were to happen. Despite the White Stripes' success, and his former marriage to only bandmate Meg White, Jack White expressed a severe reluctance and unwillingness to reunite the band.

"I would probably say absolutely not. Absolutely no chance. I couldn't see any reason to ever do that," said White. "I'm not the kind of person that would retire from baseball and come out of retirement the next year."

Read the full story here