Kylie Minogue Gets Her Country On with ‘Golden’

Did you think Dolly Parton would be the last artist to attempt country disco? Well, think again. Dance-pop diva from down under, Kylie Minogue, returns with her first full-length of all new material since 2014’s R&B leaning Kiss Me Once.

The Aussie chanteuse channels her inner “Cotton-Eyed Joe” on her fourteenth studio album, Golden, but it unfortunately ends up sounding like nothing more than a reductive attempt to create her own version of Lady Gaga’s Joanne. While undeniably endearing and tenacious, Kylie Minogue has always followed trends rather than create them, which has ultimately pigeon-holed the artist as a second-rate Madonna.

On Golden, Minogue dives headfirst into new musical terrain inspired by her recent visit to Nashville. A large part of Golden was recorded during Minogue’s Nashville romp last year and it’s the first time since her endearing 1997 release, Impossible Princess, that the popstress has co-written every one of the album’s tracks. Awkwardly, her stay in Music City seems to have derailed Minogue’s ambitions, resulting in what can only be tactfully described as a major musical misstep. Perhaps Kylie lost focus while imbibing in too much line dancing and honky tonkin’? [Read Full Review Here]

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Garbage Live in Nashville

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(Photo: Eric Allen  © 2016 PopMartZoo)

 

Alternative rockers Garbage returned to Music City’s historic Ryman Auditorium last night for the first time since 2005. Ferocious Scotswoman Shirley Manson captivated multitudes of devoted ‘darklings’ during a nearly 2-hour set which mined a contrasting batch of shining jewels from all six of the band’s albums including 1995 hit “Only Happy When It Rains” and the current “Empty.” Although illness related no-fly orders meant Butch Vig was absent from the evening’s performance, drummer Eric Gardener slammed through the blistering set without missing a beat.

Once Manson and company took command of the stage with opener “Supervixen,” it was immediately obvious the band’s global tour promoting Strange Little Birds (Garbage’s latest and darkest album yet) is an unmistakable quest to prove it is possible to defy ageism and successfully make music on their own terms without interference from the politics of a major record label. The rock band’s latest offering is the second full-length released via its own independent Stunvolume record label. Despite its gloomy, misanthropic tone, the critically acclaimed Strange Little Birds easily managed to concurrently claim the number one spots atop Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts.

The all but sold-out crowd stood on its feet throughout the evening, never showing signs of fatigue as it cheered and sang along to everything the band’s well-armed arsenal hurled upon everyone in attendance. The audience included spirited twenty-somethings and silver-haired seniors alike, with every age in between disregarding any evidence of a musical generation gap. The steamy, humid night didn’t dampen spirits as the energetic troop danced, sang, and fist-pumped its way throughout the beloved group’s well received set.

As the evening’s performance came to a close with the energetic favorite “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” the foot stomping masses made it clear they weren’t ready to go home. Luckily, Manson and her faithful bandmates Duke Erikson and Steve Marker happily indulged spellbound onlookers with a generous encore consisting of “Sometimes,” “Empty,” and “#1 Crush.” Hopefully fans won’t have to wait another 11 years until Garbage returns to Nashville.

Set List

Supervixen
I Think I’m Paranoid
Stupid Girl
Automatic Systematic Habit
Blood For Poppies
The Trick Is To Keep Breathing
My Lover’s Box
Sex Is Not The Enemy
Special
A Stroke Of Luck
Even Though Our Love Is Doomed
Why Do You Love Me
Control
Blackout
Bleed Like Me
Push It
Vow
Only Happy When It Rains
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)

Encore:
Sometimes
Empty
#1 Crush

Queen of Pop Plays Music City

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(Rebel Heart Tour: Bridgestone Arena Nashville 2016)

Pop music icon Madonna played Nashville last night at Bridgestone Arena during a stop on her global Rebel Heart Tour. The two-hour-plus show was the first Music City performance of the superstar’s career, which now spans more than three decades. This egregious fact didn’t go unnoticed by the singer as she jokingly professed to be a “Nashville virgin” when she took the stage.

The concert opened with “Iconic” (featuring a rapping Mike Tyson), as images of the pop music innovator splashed across a colossal video screen as she was eventually lowered from the ceiling in a metal cage. The all but sold-out crowd roared as Madonna emerged from the cage and was delimited by ten male dancers dressed as medieval executioners adorned in gold and black and armed with large metal pikes.

The pop diva’s show was divided into four themes: Samurai, Asian, Latin and Party Celebration. Each segment was individually characterized by distinguishing wardrobe changes, choreography, and song selection. The show’s setlist heavily incorporated material from the singer’s most recent album Rebel Heart, but also contained many fan favorites, some of which she hasn’t performed in years, namely “Dress You Up,” “True Blue,” Deeper and Deeper,” “Who’s That Girl” and an electrified version of her early hit “Burning Up.”

The musical spectacle’s wow moments included Madonna body surfing atop a nun while swinging from a crucifix-shaped stripper pole during the racy “Holy Water,” which segued midway into an updated version of “Vogue.” Also noteworthy was a death-defying routine choreographed to “Illuminati,” which featured several dancers swaying back and forth over the audience while atop twenty foot poles.

But the evening’s most unique moment arrived halfway through the set when Madonna unexpectedly broke into an acapella version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The impromptu cover was interrupted as the singer explained in a faux southern accent “Okay let’s start this again ‘cuz I fucked it up and I’m not gonna embarrass myself in front of Johnny Cash right now. You have to understand I did not rehearse this, it just came into my head, underneath the stage a couple of minutes ago. Let’s start again okay? So, I’m playing my pussy (the opening notes of the song were synchronized with Madonna’s vaginal hand movements), that’s what I’m doing,” the singer humorously clarified.

Throughout the night, Madonna seemed surprisingly unguarded and radiated a vivacious spirit and playfulness which was devoured by the enamored audience. We were treated to an engaging mix of high-energy dance numbers such as “Music,” as well as a few stripped-down acoustic numbers including “La Vie en rose.”

Ultimately, the ambitious production concluded with an energetic encore of the singer’s first hit single “Holiday,” which had the late night crowd up on our feet as we clapped, danced, and sang along with the Material Girl, until she eventually disappeared after being hoisted up into the air. At age 57, Madonna convincingly demonstrated she is still a force with which to be reckoned when it comes to the art of live performance. The reigning Queen of Pop delivered an incomparable show, the likes of which Nashville will doubtfully ever see again.

David Cook: The Digital Vein Tour Live in Nashville

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(Photo by: Eric Allen © 2015 Popmartzoo)

David Cook played to a packed house when his Digital Vein Tour made a stop in Nashville on Wednesday night. The 2008 winner of American Idol was in rare form during the 90-minute set, which was filled with fist-pumping rockers and emotional ballads. The left-handed guitarist instantly took control of the room with his commanding, but amiable stage presence.

Cook (a Music City resident since 2012), was both charismatic and comical as he brought the room to its feet during the night’s intimate performance, which included a healthy dose of selections from his latest album, the self-produced Digital Vein, which recently debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Pop Album Chart. The set list contained songs from the platinum-selling artist’s repertoire such as fan favorites (“Paper Heart,” “Heroes” and “Declaration”), radio hits (“Come Back to Me” and “Light On”), and a smoldering cover version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”

The “Time of My Life” singer and left-handed guitarist seemed noticeably eager to play a hometown show as he shared a humorous anecdote of being forced to dance on national television during his Idol days, confessed his desire to play 3rd and Lindsley’s stage after catching a recent performance of Los Angeles rock band Failure, and requested score updates of his favorite baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. Midway through the show, Cook noticed a girl in the balcony who was engrossed in her cell phone and shouted “Are you ordering a pizza on that thing? She’s probably thinking, I can’t believe that asshole just called me out,” he humorously remarked. The enthralled crowd, as well as Cook himself, seemed to relish the evening’s numerous candid moments.

By night’s end it was clear Cool held the audience in the palm of his hand, as the multitude of  “Cook-ies” reciprocated the pop star’s personal outpourings with swooning sighs, overexcited yelps, and booming applause throughout the evening. The show ultimately climaxed with a vivacious encore which included current single “Criminals,” resulting in a standing ovation as undeniable proof Cook had skillfully managed to captivate spectators with his uniquely honed musical mix of cock rock and panty pop.

 

Shania Twain Rocks Music City!

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Country megastar Shania Twain brought the house down when she played Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Friday night. The long-awaited concert was part of Twain’s current Rock This Country Tour and farewell trek across North America. Friday’s performance marked the country icon’s first proper Nashville show in 17 years as Twain hasn’t treated Music City to one of her trademark performances since her Come On Over Tour rolled through back in 1998.

The five-time Grammy winner opened the show with a blazing version of “Rock This Country!” as she emerged center stage grasping a blood-red microphone amidst a foggy, LED lit, multi-level band riser, as she was slowly hoisted to perilous heights while gazing upon a packed house of elated onlookers. Adorning flowing blond locks and dressed in black with fringed leather, thigh-high boots, and rose tinted shades, Twain served up an exhilarating musical olio with an impressive hodgepodge of wardrobe and special effects, which included up-close moments of being pushed around the arena floor in a Plexiglas Shania mobile, as well as later sweeping over the thunderstruck crowd while riding atop a flying saddle.

A nervously energized Shania expressed it felt great to be back in Nashville and how she wanted the special night to last forever. The singer then reminisced of making lasting friendships and having countless fond memories of Music City. Twain also seemed overwhelmingly taken aback at the warm reception, so much in fact, she stumbled over a few words and repeated the first verse twice during her 1995 mega-hit “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!”

The evening’s most personal moments included an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which she sang to a lucky audience member, in addition to Twain comfortably cradling an acoustic guitar for an unplugged portion of the show. The brief acoustic set included stripped-down, but heartfelt renderings of “Today is Your Day,” “You’re Still the One,” and “No One Needs to Know,” the latter of which she confessed to writing way back before she’d secured a recording contract.

The former ACM and CMA Entertainer of the Year luminously sparkled throughout the night as she energetically bestowed her glitz and glamour to an all but sold-out show. Twain was in top form during the nearly two-hour non-stop extravaganza. Packed with career-spanning greatest hits (underscored with electrified guitars, amped-up fiddles, and chest-pounding drum beats), a dynamic duet with opening act Gavin DeGraw (“Party for Two”), musical interludes, stunning video effects, multi-colored lasers, an ample helping of pyrotechnics, and multiple costume changes, Twain seemed determined go out in style for her final Nashville tour date.

The awe-inspiring show literally ended with a bang as the explosive encore of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” brought the adoring throngs to their feet as the crowd (Which included Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves) was ultimately engulfed into a gigantic cloud of glitter, resulting in thunderous applause. By evening’s end, it was glaringly obvious Shania devotees had sorely missed the multi-platinum-selling artist as they eagerly embraced her return to Music City. The one and only artist responsible for the best-selling country album of all-time has undeniably come a long way since her youthful aspirations of  becoming Stevie Wonder’s backup singer.