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Chuck Berry Wins Nobel-Like Music Award

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According to The Guardian, rock pioneer Chuck Berry, whose contributions to music set the scene for an entire generation of the art form, was made a laureate of the Polar Music Prize, the Swedish award founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, who managed ABBA.

Up until now, I had never heard of this award, but I really like the idea. Like the Nobel, it is awarded for overall contributions, but this one fills a gap in recognition that other music organizations don't consider. For example, the big music academies tend to award for specific songs, albums, or artist/band achievement. There are also several lifetime achievement awards out there. Then there's the Germany-based Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, which is similar in nature but seems to focus more on orchestral and symphonic music and not modern popular music, though composers and conductors of these forms have been among Polar Music Award recipients.

Berry was joined this year by opera director Peter Sellars. Past recipients include Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, B.B. King, Yo-Yo Ma, and Elton John.

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Usher Reveals First 8 U.S. Cities to UR Experience Tour

Concert news

On Sunday's VMAs, Usher performed his latest single, "She Came to Give It To You" alongside Nicki Minaj and now, he's announced an upcoming album and tour. Yesterday, the singer tweeted the first round of cities for The UR Experience Tour (or #URXTour, if you're on Twitter). Usher is scheduled to visit Seattle, WA; Los Angeles, CA; Dallas, TX; Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Atlantic City, NJ; and Orlando, FL.

Update: 8/27/14 9:30 a.m. The second round of U.S. cities has been announced: San Jose, CA; Memphis, TN; Detroit, MI; Uncasville, CT; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, D.C.; Miami, FL.

He also released a 30-second teaser trailer, which you can see below. The remainder of his tour, plus concrete dates, have yet to be announced. But Usher did drop a second single, "Believe Me," as well as his own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video.

See below to watch the trailer for The UR Experience Tour and be sure to check back on the Usher page for more information on tickets!

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Re-Watch Beyonce's 16-Minute Medley from the 2014 VMAs

Part of me feels like I'm getting too old to watch the VMAs. I had to Google a good portion of the artists/celebrities mentioned during the red carpet event prior to the show and found myself thinking more than once, "So this is what the kids like these days, huh?" But I persevered through the entire show... for Beyonce.

Last night, Beyonce was awarded the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award — aka the Lifetime Achievement Award — which is awarded to artists who have greatly impacted music culture. Last year, this award was supplemented by a 15-minute performance by its recipient, Justin Timberlake.

And this year, Beyonce won, and gave us a 16-minute, flawfree medley of the each song from her most recent album (sans "Heaven"). Here's the full performance, including some sweet moments featuring Jay Z and Blue Ivy, too. Enjoy!


What People Are Talking About

Breaking Bad

"Breaking Bad" returned to public consciousness this week (as if it ever left) when its stars, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, were featured in a pre-Emmys skit with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The two play the skeevy owners of a pawn shop, featured on a reality show, that happened to get a visit from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who portrayed an exaggerated version of herself. It was a cute skit meant to promote the Emmys, which take place on Monday. On top of that, Aaron Paul also announced a scavenger hunt for "Breaking Bad" fans to honor the show's last time being eligible for an Emmy. The scavenger hunt includes a chance to find things like scripts, posters, dolls, and art from the show. (Please Note: Video has mild cussing.)

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Music's Australasian Invasion Is Here. Are You Ready?

Australasia

Everybody's heard of the British Invasion, the period in the mid-1960s when a bunch of artists and bands, led by The Beatles, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to perform in front of audiences in America for the first time. That two year span of time brought us now-household names like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbrids, The Kinks, The Who, Small Faces, and many more. The period had a large influence on popular music and culture in the United States, and British artists have been a major part of the American music scene ever since.

Is the same thing that happened in the 1960s now happening with artists from Australia and New Zealand? Are we seeing an Australasian Invasion? I believe so.

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