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Rolling Stone News
  • UPDATE: CupcakKe's videos for "Duck Duck Goose" and "Deepthroat" have returned to YouTube, Pitchfork reports. A representative for the site said, "With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer uploaders the ability to appeal removals and we will re-review the content." In response to the change, CupcakKe tweeted, "They back up thanks y'all."

    Chicago rapper CupcakKe slammed YouTube after the website pulled two of her music videos for "Duck Duck Goose" and "Deepthroat." Pitchfork notes, the pages for both clips now contain messages that claim the videos violate "YouTube's policy on nudity or sexual content."

    CupcakKe responded to the removals on Twitter, writing, "I kn[ow] the fuck y'all didn't delete 'Deepthroat' video off YouTube at 23 million views. @YouTube put it back up now!" Several hours later she tweeted: "And they just deleted 'Duck Duck Goose.' One more and my entire channel is gone." The rapper has also re-tweeted numerous fans demanding that YouTube re-upload the clips.

    I kn the fuck y'all didn't deleted deepthroat video off YouTube at 23 million views @YouTube PUT IT BACK UP NOW

    — Marilyn MonHOE (@CupcakKe_rapper) March 20, 2018

    CupcakKe got her start on YouTube, originally posting religious-themed poems-turned-raps, before developing a hip-hop persona steeped in vivid, sex-positive lyrics. "One day, I was listening to 'My Neck, My Back' by Khia and just in the mood and horny," she told Rolling Stone. "I was like 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna write something that's sexual to get it out.'"

    Released in 2015, "Deepthroat" was one of CupcakKe's first viral hits, and the track later appeared on her 2016 debut mixtape, Cum Cake. Since then, CupcakKe has released one additional mixtape and three studio albums. Her most recent Ephorize, arrived in January and features "Duck Duck Goose."

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  • Spanish garage rock outfit Hinds hit the slopes in the new video for "The Club," a track off their upcoming album, I Don't Run, out April 6th via Mom and Pop.

    The Matthew Dillon Cohen-directed clip, shot in wintry Connecticut landscape, finds Hinds hanging around a resort in Nineties-era ski bum duds that are as flashy as they are puffy. The group tears through the fuzzy rock gem at the bottom of a ski run, rides around on snowmobiles, ventures onto a frozen lake and parties in the lodge as a group of bemused skiers look on.

    I Don't Run marks Hinds' second album and follows their 2016 debut, Leave Me Alone. Along with "The Club," the group has released album cut, "New For You."

    Hinds will play a slew of North American concerts this spring in support of I Don't Run. The group recently kicked off a co-headlining trek with the Strokes' Albert Hammond, Jr., and they'll embark on their own headlining run May 7th in Boston.

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  • Brooklyn rap trio Flatbush Zombies unveiled a nimble new track, "U&I," featuring Dia. The song will appear on the group's upcoming album, Vacation in Hell, out April 6th.

    "U&I" opens with a soulful a cappella intro from Dia before settling into a steady groove of clacking drums, muted bass and warped vocal loops. MCs Erick "Arc' Elliott and Zombie Juice deftly peel off their own pensive and potent verses, but "U&I" soon becomes a showcase for Meechy Darko.

    Over several minutes, Meechy unleashes a torrent of bars in his distinct gruff voice, touching on an array of heavy topics like trauma, mental illness, addiction and struggling to find happiness amidst material success. Nevertheless, the rapper also finds space for sharp wordplay like, "It's Darky, baby, a whole different hue/ My grandaddy got eight balls, come and get a cue/ I come from the struggle, motherfucker get a clue."

    "U&I" follows Flatbush Zombies' previously released track, "Headstone," while Vacation in Hell marks the rap outfit's first album since their 2016 debut, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Flatbush Zombies will embark on a North American tour in support of their new LP April 6th with a hometown show in Brooklyn. 

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  • Kimbra delivered a soulful, stripped-down mini-set for the latest installment of Rolling Stone's "Take One" performance series. The eclectic New Zealand singer showcased her wide vocal range with three songs from her upcoming third LP, Primal Heart.

    The art-pop artist opened with an intimate rendition of "Human," the album's third single. Kimbra played stark electric guitar chords over a soulful bass, snapping her fingers and closing her eyes on the chorus. "This is what it means to be human," she belted. "I don't know much, but I know that I hurt as much as you."

    She took an even softer approach on "Everybody Knows," plucking fragile chords on the guitar. And on "Past Love," Kimbra adopted a variety of vocal styles from jazzy, melismatic runs to a nasal croon.

    Primal Heart, Kimbra's third studio album, will feature Skrillex and is set for release on April 20th. The singer has been touring behind the LP since late January. Her U.S. leg picks up April 26th in Washington D.C. and runs throughout late May, followed by a pair of Canadian dates in July. 

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  • Kelly Clarkson is a vision of self-confidence in the new clip for "I Don't Think About You." The track is the second single from her Meaning of Life LP, which reached Number Two on Billboard's albums chart last year.

    "I Don't Think About You" was produced by the Monarch, a duo best known for work in contemporary hip-hop (Meek Mill's "All Eyes On You") and R&B (Tamia's "Believe in Love"). They fill "I Don't Think About You" with gospel backing vocals and dramatic strings. Each chorus allows Clarkson to demonstrate her mastery of melisma, stretching the word "me" across multiple beats.

    In the video for the track, characters face a series of frustrating situations – borderline abusive exes, thickheaded bosses – before deciding enough is enough. In a statement, Clarkson explained that "I Don't Think About You" centers on "the moment you realize something has no power over you anymore."

    Clarkson continued, "We all have people or situations in life that mold us and sometimes those situations can feel like they're about to break us, but this song is about that morning you wake up and you don't even think about it anymore. It holds no power, no weight in your world, and consumes your thoughts no longer. It's a song about freedom, honestly."

    In addition to releasing her latest album, Clarkson joined The Voice this season as a coach for the first time. 

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  • When the Black Panther soundtrack debuted at Number One in February, it was another triumph for executive producer Kendrick Lamar – the fourth consecutive album he has steered to the top of the charts. But the soundtrack also quietly gave the Bay Area rap group SOB x RBE their first Hot 100 hit, a springy, boisterous record titled "Paramedic!"

    In a moment of renewed enthusiasm for soundtracks, these albums are serving as an increasingly common springboard for young acts. "We're pretty good at utilizing them as stepping stones for our developing artists," acknowledges Atlantic Records' Kevin Weaver. "We try to do that as much as possible."

    Weaver would know: He's a soundtrack guru who has overseen hit albums for the Fast and Furious franchise, Suicide Squad and, most recently, The Greatest Showman, which knocked Taylor Swift out of the Number One spot in January. Since January of 2015, soundtracks have topped Billboard's album chart for 13 different weeks, making them more successful with the general public than several popular genres, including country and electronic music; during the week of March 17th, movie soundtracks occupied the top two positions on Billboard's albums chart for the first time in 20 years. "There seems to be a resurgence of people interested in soundtracks and a newfound excitement about them," says Republic Records' Dana Sano, who worked on all three Fifty Shades of Grey LPs.

    Much of that fervor is reserved for soundtrack albums that feature new music, rather than compilations of licensed songs that have been previously released. "The big win when it comes to the compulsion factor – putting out a soundtrack and having somebody say, 'I have to buy that,' whatever 'buy' means – is when something is new-slash-original-slash–exclusive to that title," says Universal Film Music head Mike Knobloch.

    In this vein, soundtrack albums have spawned massive hits for established acts like Swift ("I Don't Wanna Live Forever" with Zayn Malik from Fifty Shades Darker) and Justin Timberlake ("Can't Stop the Feeling" from Trolls). But they have also played a crucial role in the rise of major new artists. The most famous examples are Charlie Puth, who was an unknown songwriter before going Number One with the Furious 7 song "See You Again," and the Weeknd, who scored his first solo pop hit with the Fifty Shades of Grey cut "Earned It."

    Other rising singers also appear to have benefitted from soundtrack exposure in the last three years. Sometimes the placement leads directly to a hit: Both the rapper Logic and the R&B singer Kehlani achieved their first major singles via the Suicide Squad soundtrack in 2016. Sometimes, even if the soundtrack record isn't a smash, that placement still creates the environment for hits to come. J Balvin's "Ay Vamos" appeared on the Furious 7 soundtrack in March 2015; he earned his first Hot 100 hit later that year. And after Anderson East appeared on the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack in February of 2017, his next single became a Number One radio hit in December.

    The success of Black Panther has positioned at least two more acts for potential breakouts. First is SOB x RBE with "Paramedic!" Second is South African artist Babes Wodumo, who scored a kinetic hit in her home country in 2016 with "Wololo." "She is part of a really exciting sound call gqom," explains the Guild of Music Supervisors' Thomas Golubić. "She had a single that got some radio play but wasn't hugely known [in the U.S.] – hopefully that [placement] will act as a door opening." None of Wodumo's previous singles have more than 500,000 streams on Spotify; her Black Panther contribution "Redemption" racked up 13 million in three weeks.

    Mike Caren of Artist Partners Group believes that films have a unique ability to kindle this kind of interest in a new act. "There are very few global drivers for music," he says. "Radio stations are either local or national; Internet companies like Spotify have different programming and editors in different territories. Blockbuster films touch corners of the earth that are hard to get to."

    Along with wide reach, soundtrack placements also allow rising artists a low-risk soft opening. "With a new act, you don't want to put singles out there and potentially have a bad sales history attached to your name," says Matt McNeal, a veteran manager and A&R for J. Cole's Dreamville Records. "If you have a song on the soundtrack that doesn't do well, people just don't even know about it. If it becomes a hit, you can ride that wave into your album cycle."

    That's exactly what happened for Puth and Kehlani. "We utilized the platform of the soundtrack to have a hit and we quickly followed up with our own artist project," says Weaver, who worked with both artists. SOB x RBE took the same approach, releasing a new album the week after the Black Panther soundtrack came out.

    Soundtrack placements may be especially valuable for rappers, R&B singers and Latin acts. Pop radio is playing fewer hip-hop and R&B singles than it used to, and it has never shown much interest in Spanish-language pop, limiting an important avenue of exposure for artists operating in these areas. Daniel Zawadzki, who manages the Colombian group Bomba Estéreo, says sync opportunities like the Pitch Perfect 3 soundtrack can serve as an important counterbalance to the close-mindedness of mainstream gatekeepers. "In the U.S. and other Anglo markets, Bomba does not get the support for mainstream radio, so this has been a way of promoting the music," Zawadzki notes. 

    And in some cases, having a song on a major movie soundtrack may also help a rapper or Latin American act make that jump to pop radio. "[A soundtrack placement] helps program directors that may not be into the 'urban' atmosphere take a look at those acts and say, 'OK, this person can actually cross over,'" McNeal says. "It widens that base; you're getting out of your niche of being 'just a rapper.'" 

    Even though the soundtracks that make the biggest splash feature new music, the power of these albums is such that older acts can benefit as well. The release of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack in 2017 led to a 388 percent sales gain for songs included on the album, a sales bump large enough that both Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" and George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" appeared on Billboard's rock chart decades after their initial release. This clout – combined with the deep pockets of movie companies – has lured seemingly retired artists back into the spotlight as well. Stevie Wonder's first new song in seven years, "Faith," appeared on the soundtrack for the 2016 animated musical Sing, and Sade also recorded her first new song in seven years for the A Wrinkle in Time soundtrack, released earlier in March.

    But next to Sade on A Wrinkle in Time's soundtrack, listeners also found a pair of up-and-comers: Chloe x Halle, who were signed by Beyoncé on the strength of their YouTube covers in 2015, recorded the swooning, martial ballad "Warrior." And, in line with the new soundtrack paradigm, the duo are not wasting their moment – they'll release their debut album, The Kids Are Alright, on March 23rd.

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  • Boy George announced a lengthy U.S. summer tour with Culture Club, the B-52s and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins on Tuesday. The tour opens June 29th in St. Augustine, Florida and encompasses more than 40 dates before ending over three months later in Fresno, CA on October 5th. 

    In a statement, Boy George said he was working on new music with Culture Club. The singer promised to preview some of the new material on his upcoming tour next to massive hits like ""Karma Chameleon" and "Miss Me Blind."

    Boy George led Culture Club intermittently since the 1980s, when he first left the group. He returned to the fold over a decade later for a reunion tour and the Don't Mind If I Do album. Culture Club went on hiatus again, only to get back together to tour in 2015 and 2016 and begin work on a new album titled Tribes

    "I just want to release the album so it will get heard," Boy George told Billboard. " … It would be smarter for us to put the record out when I have a social presence rather than relying on a little bit of nostalgia and the goodwill of the press and sporadic radio play."

    Boy George, Culture Club Tour Dates

    June 29- St. Augustine, FL @ Saint Augustine Amphitheatre
    June 30- Tampa, FL @ USF Sun Dome
    July 1 - Pompano, FL @ Pompano Beach Amphitheatre
    July 6 - Biloxi, MS @ IP Casino
    July 7 - San Antonio, TX @ Tobin Center
    July 10 - Austin, TX @ Moody Theatre
    July 11 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Verizon Amphitheater
    July 12 - Tulsa, OK @ River Spirit Casino Resort
    July 15 - Houston, TX @ Smart Financial at Sugar Land
    July 17 - Cary, NC @ Koka Booth Amphitheatre
    July 18 - Vienna, VA @ Wolf Trap
    July 20 - Charleston, SC @ Volvo Car Stadium
    July 21 - Charlotte, NC@ PNC Music Pavilion
    July 22 - Atlanta, GA @ Chastain Park Amphitheater
    July 24 - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
    July 26 - Verona, NY @ Turning Stone Casino
    July 27 - Boston, MA @ Wang Theatre
    July 28 - Forest Hills, NY @ Forest Hills Stadium
    July 31 - Morristown, NJ @ Mayo Performing Arts Center
    August 3 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony Summer Stage
    August 28 - Lewistown, NY @ Artpark
    August 30 - Detroit, MI@ DTE Energy Music Theatre
    August 31 - Chicago, IL@ Ravinia Festival
    September 1 - Chicago, IL @ Ravinia Festival
    September 3 - St. Paul, MN @ Minnesota State Fair
    September 5 - Kettering, OH @ Fraze Pavilion
    September 6 - St. Louis, MO @ Fox Theatre
    September 7 - Kansas City, OH@ Starlight Theatre
    September 8 - Denver, CO @ Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre
    September 13 - Puyallup, WA @ Washington State Fair
    September 14 - Kennewick, WA@ Toyota Center
    September 15 - Portland, OR @ Theatre of the Clouds
    September 16 - Murphys, CA @ Ironstone Amphitheatre
    September 18 - Saratoga, CA @ The Mountain Winery
    September 19 - Saratoga, CA @ The Mountain Winery
    September 21 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Maverik Center
    September 22 - Reno, NV @ Reno Event Center
    September 23 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl
    September 25 - San Diego, CA @ Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
    September 27 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sandia Casino
    September 28 - Cabazon, CA @ Morongo
    September 29 - Las Vegas, NV @ Downtown Las Vegas Event Center
    September 30 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Talking Stick Resort
    October 3 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre
    October 5 - Fresno, CA@ The Big Fresno Fair

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  • Wu-Tang rapper U-God reflects on the business decisions that fractured the Clan in this exclusive excerpt from RAW: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang, the rapper's new memoir.

    In the excerpt, U-God breaks down how the group's "all for one" mentality disintegrated when "the days of gold and platinum plaques had dried up" and how he thinks RZA, the "mastermind" behind the Wu-Tang Clan and its branding, eventually turned Wu-Tang into a dictatorship.

    "Right now, it just looks like the Wu brothers are not on the same page, going at each other’s throats, missing shows, and all that," U-God writes. "But, to me, it’s really years of BS catching up to RZA. See, he put his family in charge of shit, and for years, we would go on the road but the money came up short."

    Elsewhere in the revealing excerpt, U-God laments about the lack of support Wu-Tang provided for certain members' solo albums, how bickering over money and royalties further divided the group and how even Wu-Tang's trademarked "W" is allegedly off-limits to Clan members.

    "Just talking about this shit frustrates me. I mean, here we are, the Rolling Stones of hip-hop, and we ain’t even got proper representation," U-God writes. "Meanwhile, RZA’s always had A-list agents repping him personally. What the fuck is that all about?" Raw: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang is out now.

    Despite the growing troubles, [Inspectah] Deck, Masta Killa, and me were just getting started, though, and our solo albums contained some of our best work. Masta finally got his solo album No Said Date released in 2004, Deck dropped the Movement in 2006, and I released Dopium in 2009. All of these were critically acclaimed, but didn’t have the big budgets our brothers received via their major labels. I think one thing that hurt those releases is that we could never perform any new material at our Wu-Tang shows. That’s something I never understood.

    "Now that the days of gold and platinum plaques had dried up, dudes started fighting over the W." 

    It’s been a long time since we rocked new songs onstage. Shit, we didn’t even support the last few albums with proper tours; I mean we went on tour, but stuck to performing the classics. That’s backward to me. For us to ask the fans to support us, we had to support ourselves by performing new material — all for one and one for all — first.

    Back in the day, when RZA put the Bat Signal up, the rest of us understood that we needed to stop what we were doing individually and come together, period. For there to be fruit hanging on the tree, the roots needed watering, so we would come together as Wu-Tang first; that was the priority. We were an unstoppable unit at that time, one for all and all for one — at least, that’s what we told ourselves. We’d hit the road, and if one of us was in the middle of promoting a project, the rest would support that project, too. Like when [Raekwon's 1995 album Only Built 4Cuban Linx came out, no one knew that the record was supposed to be the next Wu album, but when Raekwon signed the deal, we all agreed to let him have it for his solo joint, no problem.

    So years later, when revenue streams started drying up, members who were used to living crazy lifestyles started complaining about everyone’s fees being equal. This led to some of the guys missing shows, holding the entire group for ransom before agreeing to go on tour. Bottom line, no solo member has ever played in front of sold-out arenas; the whole group is the foundation. There is no Earth without Wind and Fire!

    Things started changing little by little, guys got fed up, and eventually, we all got individual managers to negotiate and serve as a buffer from all the bullshit. It was no longer one for all and all for one. But now you had people in our brothers’ ears, saying why you getting the same thing he getting? Now that the days of gold and platinum plaques had dried up, dudes started fighting over the W. The whole foundation that we were built on and that made us powerful fell apart. We weren’t building anymore; we were destroying ourselves.

    Right now, it just looks like the Wu brothers are not on the same page, going at each other’s throats, missing shows, and all that. But, to me, it’s really years of BS catching up to RZA. See, he put his family in charge of shit, and for years, we would go on the road but the money came up short. Whether it was because [RZA's brother and Wu-Tang Production CEO] Divine overpromised or cut a deal he couldn’t deliver, or he made bad management decisions, I don’t know.

    Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day, my brothers and I typically work things out and still come together as the Clan, but in 25 years of being in the business, RZA has never placed the group at an A-list agency. Instead, Divine has always placed us with these B- or C-list guys. I wonder why?

    One time I asked him, “'Vine, why aren’t we with William Morris or The Agency?”

    And he said, “‘Cause no one wants to deal with our bullshit.”

    I just looked back at him and said, “Our bullshit? Or your bullshit?”

    Just talking about this shit frustrates me. I mean here we are, the Rolling Stones of hip-hop, and we ain’t even got proper representation. Meanwhile, RZA’s always had A-list agents repping him personally. What the fuck is that all about?

    If you let him tell it, Divine would blame a lot of the shit that goes down on these low-level motherfuckers we’re forced to deal with; subpar agents and the like. But if that’s the case, why the fuck did you give your strongest asset, the Wu-Tang fucking Clan, to a shitty dude instead of a top-notch agent in the game?

    "In 25 years of being in the business, RZA has never placed the group at an A-list agency."

    I mean, my manager would tell me how some chick from Jersey was booking our European tours from her house? When I heard that, I was like, “Not her again! She owes me fifteen fuckin’ stacks!” Whatever it was, it was always something, excuses, excuses, and more excuses as to why we were always coming up short.

    Looking back, there’s other things that I really question, too. For example, Wu Wear is coming back in time for our 25th anniversary, and that’s all great, but what people don’t know is that none of us — the original members who each invested a significant amount (around $40,000 apiece) from our 36 Chambers royalties and the Rage [Against the Machine] tour — ever saw a dime back from the first version of the line founded back in ‘97. And that’s something that needs to be addressed and rectified.

    There’s also the use of our logo. Many people don’t know this, but DJ Mathematics drew that logo on the back of a napkin back in the day. RZA quickly trademarked it, and to this very day his brother beefs when any of the original members attempt to use it. That to me is crazy — I mean, I understand if someone was using it without the group’s permission, but the members of the group itself? Wow, that’s just crazy.

    Anyway, GZA uses a G that looks like a font similar to the W, Meth uses an upside down M or an M, I have a U that looks like a W that’s cut off — I guess you get creative when necessary, but we all stand behind that W in the end!

    Divine always told us, “Y’all can’t use that W without paying a brand fee, and if a promoter calls your manager direct to book a Wu-Tang show, best believe they’re paying that brand fee!” Ain’t that a motherfucker!

    "RZA doesn’t know how to let go and let motherfuckers be grown men anymore, like he used to back in the day."

    RZA also started becoming a bit of a control freak around this time. He wanted to control budget, publishing, writing hooks, everything. I kept quiet and kept working, but it didn’t take a brain surgeon to see he was trying too hard to control the entire creative process.

    Now, RZA’s undeniably talented. He’s also a good talker, smart, and a groundbreaking, genre-bending producer, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a hit record maker. Remember, “All I Need” was Method Man’s biggest single, but remember, RZA’s version didn’t win the Grammy — Puffy’s remix with Mary J. Blige did.

    A classic example of how he operates is “Gravel Pit” on The W. It was one of our biggest hits he wrote the hook for, but I hate that fuckin’ hook. Me and Meth were supposed to write that one, but RZA came in and wouldn’t let us do what we do best. He had to jump in the middle of the process to stop what we were building. It was like, “Yeah, you made the beat, now can we work on it?”

    And RZA was like, “Nah, let’s publish it.” He just had to get his name on it however he could. It’s like, just give the dudes the fuckin’ music, let them go off by themselves and do their thing, come back with their idea — you know, how we used to do it. Collaboration, not domination.

    Trying to exert too much control over grown-ass men leads to problems. RZA doesn’t know how to let go and let motherfuckers be grown men anymore, like he used to back in the day, when it was four or five motherfuckers touring the country in an old Mitsubishi Scorpion. Somewhere along the way, he forgot to let his soldier do what he initially recruited us to do and coached us to do. He forgot that you don’t tear down your soldiers, you build your soldiers up. Because when they rise up, they bring you with them.

    On the flip side, you need somebody calling the shots, or it becomes every man for himself. We still needed order, and he was the mastermind who had brought us up to this point. But it can’t become a dictatorship, with everything coming from the top down. It takes a certain kind of personality to be able to run the ship but still be open to ideas and collaboration. 

    Excerpted from RAW: My Journey into the Wu-Tang by Lamont "U-God" Hawkins. Published by Picador, March 6th 2018. Copyright © 2018 by Lamont “U- God” Hawkins. All rights reserved.

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  • Mötley Crüe had a lot working against them when they hit the road in the summer of 1994 to support their new self-titled LP. It had been just five years since 1989's Dr. Feelgood sold by the millions and generated five hit singles, but it might as well have been 50 considering the tectonic shifts the industry had undergone during their hiatus. Grunge was already on its way out, but it's brief reign had made every 1980s hair metal group seem like sad jokes from a distant past. Acts that were packing basketball arenas in the late 1980s were now struggling to filly tiny clubs.

    If the headwinds weren't strong enough, the Crüe were playing their first shows without original frontman Vince Neil. To this day, the group can't agree whether or not he quit or was fired. But it really doesn't matter. He was out and John Corabi (former of the Scream) was now their singer. They released Mötley Crüe in March and saw it premiere at Number Seven. It was an alternative metal album unlike anything they'd released, and some fans and critics actually were impressed by Corabi's impressive vocal range and the daring change of musical direction. But it had little staying power on the charts and MTV went nowhere near the videos they made to support it. 

    The group still had high hopes for the tour. "We were going to tour without pyrotechnics and dancing chicks and spinning drum cages, and still kick the audience's ass," bassist Nikki Sixx wrote in the band's memoir The Dirt. "We were going to show them that without a front man dancing in the spotlight, we could play heavy four-piece rock and roll like never before. And we were going to challenge them with lyrics and images about fascism and stereotyping that would blow their minds. We were going to do whatever we wanted because, after all, we were Mötley Crüe."

    His bubble was burst on opening night in Tucson, Arizona when a mere 4,000 tickets were sold at a 15,000 seat amphitheater. Sixx went onto the radio and promised to give every fan that showed up at the station a free ticket. "If I had said that in 1989, there would have been ten thousand teenagers rioting in the parking lot," Sixx wrote in The Dirt. "That afternoon, two Mexican kids showed up. And that’s when I realized: It was all over."

    But it wasn't over. They still had to go out and play concerts for four months straight. It was the summer of Green Day, Nine Inch Nails and Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories. Nothing Mötley Crüe did generated the least bit of excitement, as hard as they tried. Here's video of them playing "Home Sweet Home" in Salina, Kansas that August. The video quality is far from perfect, but it's about as good as anything gets from this tour. They weren't exactly shelling out big bucks to professional film crews at this point. Actually, the band had to write six-figure checks from their own private accounts to keep the show on the road.

    It was an untenable situation and the group ultimately called off the final leg of the tour and headed home to figure out their future. As much as it pained them to admit it, the only sensible move was to bring back Vince Neil. There was brief talk of retaining Corabi as a guitarist, but it just didn't make any sense. He was given his walking papers and Neil joined for the 1997 comeback LP Generation Swine. It failed to make much of a commercial impression. Soon enough, however, 1980s nostalgia kicked in and they milked it for all it was worth until they finally split in late 2015 following a very long and very profitable farewell tour.

    At no point on the tour did they play a single song from the 1994 Mötley Crüe album or acknowledge it in any way. John Corabi took a very different approach when he went on a solo tour in 1994: He played the whole damn thing straight through every night. It may have been a disaster for the Crüe, but for Corabi it was a career high point, and he was eager to revive it. 

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  • Kelly Clarkson has a clear memory of standing outsidean American Idol audition room in Dallas, 16 years ago, and seeingominous portents. "Everybody was walking out crying," she recalls. "Andthey were like, 'There's this British man, and he's awful!' " Onepopular-vote victory and eight hit albums later, Clarkson is now a not-quite-so-scarysinging judge (and coach) in her own right, wielding one of those giant redbuttons on The Voice.

    Clarkson, who released the R&B-laced album Meaningof Life last year, says everyone keeps asking what she'd tell a young Kellyif she got to coach her. "As a joke, I'm like, 'Run!' " saysClarkson, who often clashed with her old label, RCA – her new album is herfirst on Atlantic. "Obviously every joke has some seriousness to it."

    (Clarkson's entire interview is featured in a new episode of our podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now. To hear it, press play above or download and subscribe to Rolling Stone Music Now on iTunes or Spotify.)

    You've talked about being the only woman in a boardroom full of guys early in your career. How did the gender aspects of that play out?
    I was shoved magazines of girls naked with guitars, and they were telling me that's what I'm competing with, and I was like, "I'm not competing with that." And they always wanted, like, the sexier songs – not even good sexy songs – because that sells. And I'd go, "Did you even watch me on TV? I'm the girl that didn't wear makeup." So all that stuff was shoved in my face nonstop, and I would just laugh, honestly, which probably pissed them off.

    Where did you find the strength to hold your ground in all those conflicts?
    I never record a song I don't feel I can relate to in some sense, that I can't make work in my world. And that's why I've really pissed people off [laughs], because there have been some real doozies sent my way that I was like, "No," and then my project gets sat on. But you have to put your foot down at some point and go, "I have one life and I don't want to live it like this, and it's cool if you feel like my ship is sinking, but I just want to make sure I'm at the helm, that if I'm going to go down, it's because of myself." Compromising is OK, but compromising who you are as a human is not.

    I rewatched your initial Idol audition, and you seemed justifiably confident. Were you, though?
    Honestly, my place had just burned down in L.A., I had lived in my car for three days [laughs], and I literally had made that outfit I was wearing. I think the only reason I was probably confident is I had nothing to lose [laughs]. The artists that you love and adored, if you hear their stories, they probably did not have easy upbringings. A lot of those people had to work for everything they got, and that was definitely me.

    You've always named Aretha Franklin as a key influence. On the deepest level, what is it about her for you?
    People like her, you hear them sing and it's almost as if they don't need words. It's the sound, the tone, the ache in their voice. Maybe it's because I went through a few things growing up, but I really fed on that. "Ain't No Way," all those songs, her tone and her voice were almost their own story. There's very few singers like that – Bonnie Raitt, Annie Lennox. Aretha is a flawless vocalist, and they didn't have Auto-Tune then. It was all feeling. And when it was slightly off-key, it was perfect. It was heartfelt.

    Are we ever going to get to hear the country album you've been working on for a while?
    I am very particular about it. I've started, but I keep changing my idea of what I want it to sound like because I have so many different influences, even in the country world. I like singer-songwriters like Patty Griffin and Alison Krauss, and the Raising Sand album she did with Robert Plant. I have all these ideas, and I really haven't nailed down exactly what I want to do. I just really want to do right by it!

    Have you thought about what you want the next five or 10 years of your career to look like?
    My husband and I talk about that a lot, because I love touring and I've loved being part of The Voice this season. Really, our decisions are based upon our family. It's not that my career is on the back burner, it's just that it's, you know, on the side burner [laughs]. I want to make sure I'm a present mom. I have abandonment issues, so I don't want to pass those on. I want to make sure we're looking out for our kids, and others. The first 10 years of my career, I was in survival mode. Like, "What will get me through the next day?" Now I've opened up my eyes to form relationships with other artists to make sure we're looking out for each other.

    Have your kids learned about
    From Justin to Kelly yet?
    Oh, God, no! It's one of my nanny's favorite movies – and I'm like, "I swear to God, I'll fire you." I was contractually obligated [to make it]. I didn't want to. I show them cool stuff like, you know, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter.

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