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August 2010

August 31, 2010

Back to School Playlists on Napster

As kids of all ages get ready for the "bummer after summer," we're featuring several playlists that commemorate that special, sigh-laden time of year. Our "Back to School" playlist collects modern and classic pop and rock odes to the classroom from Van Halen, The Police, Radiohead, Pixies, The Donnas, and more. Our "Classical Back to School" playlist celebrates the seasonal transition with teacher- and student-minded works by Brahms, Sibelius, Elgar, and Bernstein. "Stars of Cass Tech" takes a look at notable jazz luminaries who attended the distinguished Detroit high school, including Gerald Wilson, Regina Carter, Ron Carter, and Geri Allen. For the little ones, our "School Days" playlist includes playful songs that encourage singing and learning about the bus, the library, recess, and making friends. And for the slightly older crowd, to really make the return to the classroom fun and nostalgic, we've got a couple of movie-based playlists—"Soundtrack School Days" and "John Hughes Movie Soundtracks"—that are bound to bring back some good memories, while hopefully helping to create some new ones.

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The Essential Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini, The Essential Henry Mancini Known for so many familiar sounds, from "Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Romeo and Juliet" to "Peter Gunn" and "Pink Panther," with many stops between, the music of Henry Mancini is thoroughly ingrained in the minds of several generations of moviegoers and TV viewers. It seems like the right move, then, for Sony Classical to assemble a fine compilation of 36 tracks and title it The Essential Henry Mancini. All the biggies are here, in addition to some lesser-known, but equally beautiful and eloquent pieces of music. We've gone on about Mancini previously, so we'll just say here that his way with an intriguing light jazz lick, a soaring melody with lush orchestration, and the occasional exotic theme is probably unmatched. As a result, you can put this on and let it play—the wide variety and remarkable quality of the tracks keeps things interesting and enjoyable. Goes well with the clinking of glasses, by the way.

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Napster Debuts Application for Samsung Apps

Napster Debuts Application for Samsung Apps
10 million songs now available on-demand via select Samsung connected TVs, Blu-ray players and Blu-ray home theater systems

LOS ANGELES – August 31, 2010 – Napster, the pioneer of digital music, debuted today its application for Samsung Apps, the world’s first HDTV-based application store. Now U.S. customers with select Samsung connected TVs, Blu-ray players and Blu-ray home theater systems can enjoy the Napster music service from the comfort of their couch.
The intuitive application brings Napster’s on-demand catalog of more than 10 million songs into the living room, allowing music lovers to instantly stream favorite music and discover new music they’ll love. Designed for a “lean-back” listening experience, the Napster app is perfect for music listening while hosting a party, relaxing with family or even just unwinding at the end of the day.

“Internet-connected devices are reinventing entertainment in the home and making it easier to enjoy it more,” said Christopher Allen, Napster general manager. “We’re thrilled to work with Samsung to deliver on Napster’s vision of music everywhere by making music available to members wherever they are, on whatever devices they use, whenever they want it.”
Napster members can also quickly pull up their playlists to hear personal favorites, discover new artists by tuning in to Napster radio stations and quickly generate a long-playing Automix of music from their favorite artist. The service also includes playable Billboard charts dating back to 1955. Of course, members can always explore new releases and top songs or search for and play any particular artist, album or track.

The Napster application is now available on select 2010 Samsung TVs 40-inches and above, as well as select 2010 Blu-ray players and Blu-ray home theater systems on the Samsung Apps platform. A Napster subscription is required, but those customers new to Napster can sign up for a free 14-day trial to experience the service in their living room and on their Web browser.

About Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
Headquartered in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (SEA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., markets a broad range of award-winning, digital consumer electronics and home appliance products, including HDTVs, home theater systems, MP3 players, digital imaging products, refrigerators and washing machines. A recognized innovation leader in consumer electronics design and technology, Samsung is the HDTV market leader in the U.S. Please visit www.samsung.com for more information.

About Napster
Napster, the pioneer of digital music, offers the ultimate in interactive music experiences, creating better ways to discover, share, acquire and enjoy music – anytime, anywhere. The company’s flagship service, Napster, is the ultimate digital music package, offering unlimited on-demand music streaming, via any PC or certain Internet connected TVs and home audio devices, as well as downloadable songs for one’s permanent collection playable on any MP3 compatible device, including iPod®, iPhone®, and all music-enabled mobile phones. The service is available at www.napster.com and m.napster.com in the U.S and is also available in Canada, Germany and the U.K. A wholly owned subsidiary of Best Buy, Inc. (NYSE: BBY), Napster is headquartered in Los Angeles.
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*Each HDTV and Blu-ray player with Samsung Apps may offer a different selection of apps. Visit Samsung.com/apps for more information.
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Shonen Knife, Free Time

Shonen Knife, Free Time Released in Japan back at the beginning of the year, Shonen Knife's Free Time was released in the U.S. today in an English-language version. A quick 10 tracks—plus two bonus songs on the U.S. version—it's exactly what you'd expect from these legendary Japanese pop-rockers: punky, poppy '60s-influenced fun. I'm a little too giddy to give more details right now, having been overcome by the desperate need to turn this album up REALLY REALLY LOUD and bounce around the room, so suffice it to say you should do the same and rock out to the kookiest, silliest, and simply funnest (yes, we know that isn't an actual word but have you ever listened to their lyrics?) girl band we know. Even better, they're on tour. And if you find you need more of the Knife, an English version of Fun! Fun! Fun! was also released today.

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New Music Tuesday: Disturbed, Papa Roach, Lyfe Jennings, Fabolous, Yo Gabba Gabba!

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays (it's a U.S. record business tradition), and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you four of the best from across different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster's New Releases section.

Disturbed, Asylum Disturbed, Asylum (rock): Having found platinum success with each of their previous four albums, the heavy metal quartet go for perfection with Asylum, their newest effort. Continuing with the dark anthems they're known for, singer David Draiman has promised a level of heaviness exceeding that of their previous blast, Indestructible.

Papa Roach, Time For Annihilation Papa Roach, Time for Annihilation: On the Record & On the Road (rock): Recorded while on their last tour, Annihilation is a hybrid live/studio album from the rock foursome that includes five new studio songs, including the new single "Kick in the Teeth," and nine live versions of past hits including "To Be Loved," "Getting Away with Murder," and "Lifeline."

Lyfe Jennings, I Still Believe Lyfe Jennings, I Still Believe (R&B): In an interview with YRB Magazine late last year, Jennings announced that this would be his final album, as he would be giving up singing to be closer to his children, and he later changed the title from Sooner or Later in order to leave on a more positive note. The new set features the new singles "Statistics" and "Busy."

Fabolous, There is no Competition 2 Fabolous, There Is No Competition 2: The Grieving Music Mixtape (hip-hop): Following the footsteps of Drake, Fabolous runs a similar play by releasing a "label-approved" mixtape. Fans know this means original production, no borrowing the latest hot beats, but new tracks here by Lex Luger ("Lights Out") and Ryan Leslie ("You Be Killin' Em") are generating buzz.

Yo Gabba Gabba,Music is Awesome 2 Yo Gabba Gabba!, Music is Awesome! Volume 2 (children's music, alternative): Loved by children and adults alike, Yo Gabba Gabba! includes a lot of music, and their second album features MGMT, The Ting Tings, Solange, Hot Hot Heat, Jimmy Eat World, and Jack Black. To quote host DJ Lance Rock, "Listening and dancing to music is...awesome!"

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August 30, 2010

New Ryan Bingham Album, Junky Star, Out Tuesday, Aug. 31

Ryan Bingham, Junky Star Texas-bred roots artist Ryan Bingham got a serious career boost this year, thanks to the Oscar and Golden Globe he won for writing "The Weary Kind" for the Jeff Bridges sleeper hit Crazy Heart with producer T-Bone Burnett. Since then he's gotten crazy press (things like Vanity Fair, Vogue, and People), but more important, he's continued his fruitful relationship with Burnett, who produced his excellent new album, Junky Star. With his band the Dead Horses, Bingham has crafted another dark, stark trip through modern strife, and while it's largely a bleak affair—he's said in some of that aforementioned press that the "Junky" in the title refers to "junkyard," not drug addiction, but there does seem to be a fair amount of tyin' off and killin' going on in these stories—it's also a thing of beauty. Maybe it's that the still-young Bingham's writing seems to have grown into the gravel in that weathered-beyond-his-years booze 'n' cigarettes voice of his (or vice versa—the point is the delivery seems to fit the songs more than ever before). Or maybe it's that dark-yet-expansive sound that Burnett conjures so well, here with an outfit whose members clearly understand one another. It's probably those things plus a bunch of others, but what we know for sure from here is that we like it a lot. Besides single "Depression," which you may have already heard, give "The Wandering," "Hallelujah," "Lay My Head on the Rail," and "Self-Righteous Wall" a try and see if you don't agree.

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4AD Turns 30

Cocteau Twins, Treasure 4AD, the British record label synonymous with '80s indie-rock that aspired to emotional depth beyond good-time party tunes, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Originally home to The Birthday Party, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Bauhaus, and the Pixies, among other bands, the label was known almost as much for its evocative visual aesthetic created by designer Vaughan Oliver as it was for its adventurous A&R policy, driven by founder Ivo Watts-Russell. Over the years, 4AD has continued to build on its unique catalog, which currently boasts critically acclaimed acts such as The National, TV on the Radio, Gang Gang Dance, Deerhunter, and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. With so much great music, we're hard pressed to come up with a favorite 4AD release. How about you?

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Ricardo Arjona, Poquita Ropa

Ricardo Arjona, Poquita Ropa Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona is known for his socially conscious, poetic lyrics and his passionate voice, which makes Poquita Ropa (Almost Naked) a perfect showcase for his considerable talents. With minimal intrumentation, Arjona performs a bittersweet mix of love songs, protest music, and introspective musings on life, art, and spirituality. In keeping with the album's sparse approach, we'll leave it at that, and invite you to check it out yourselves.

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A Gleeful Emmy awards

Glee, Physical While the cast and crew from the hit television series Glee may have won just two Emmy awards last night (Outstanding Directing for Comedy and a Best Supporting Actress nod for the fabulous Jane Lynch—check out her star performance on "Physical"), that doesn't mean the awards show was light on Glee influence: Host Jimmy Fallon sang his way through most of the show, whether it was just him and an acoustic guitar, full-on impersonations of Elton John, Boys II Men, or Green Day in tribute to celebrated shows, or The Boss in the star-studded spectacular that was the opening number. Many are already saying that the opening musical skit was the best the Emmy Awards show has ever produced: Fallon and some of the Glee Cast belted out a version of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" while gathering a variety of stars including Betty White, Jon Hamm, and Tina Fey to help out. They even got American Idol judge Randy Jackson on bass. It was the perfect way to honor Glee as the cultural force it has become in such a short time. Check it out below.

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August 27, 2010

Various Artists, Future Sound of Reggae, Vol. 2

Future Sound of Reggae, Vol 2 Future Sound of Reggae, Vol. 2 is another forward-looking compilation featuring artists who draw their inspiration from reggae, whether they're into traditional roots or anything derived from it—we'll call the other stuff "reggae adjacent." The result is a rich mix of styles, with influences from hip-hop, rock, and electronica mating with reggae and dancehall to hatch as sub-genres like dubwise, dubstep, psychedelic reggae, and even the reggae jam band angle that groups like Rebelution have popularized. Once again, actress Mena Suvari is involved as an executive producer, promoting international artists like Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, 3gga, and Jah Mason. Purists may turn up their noses, but they'd be missing the point: This album isn't meant to redefine reggae as much as to show what possibilities may exist when different ideas and approaches are nurtured and allowed to blossom.

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