Listen to Karen O’s Song Written for Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’

Aside from Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th” the enticing trailer for Spike Jonze’s Her featured a delicate track from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s front woman Karen O. And with the film premiering at the New York Film Festival next month and rolling into theaters just before the New Year, we can now listen to O’s track in its entirety. Titled “The Moon Song," it was written for the film and in Her, the song is sung by leads Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. And only adding to the excitement for the feature, Arcade Fire have are at the helm for the rest of the music. 

Speaking about Her this summer, Jonze said, “It’s a movie set in the slight future of L.A. and Joaquin Phoenix’s character buys the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system… it basically turns into a human, this entity, this consciousness, on his computer,” but turns, “into something more romantic.”
 
Check out O’s song below, re-watch the trailer, and download the track via Soundcloud before it becomes only available to stream.
 

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs Give a Little Gospel on ‘Sacrilege’

The Oscars are over and done, and although it couldn’t have quite matched the power of "Skyfall," Karen O’s lovely little ditty from the movie Frankenweenie was sadly overlooked. But fans of Karen O and her group, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have no reason to feel down. This week, the trio previewed a new song from their upcoming album, Mosquito, due out on Interscope this April.

The Yeah-Times-Three get a little funky on new Dave Sitek and Nick Launay-produced single "Sacrilege," which sports a grooving beat and a gospel feel to match the religious title. As a matter of fact, a 24-piece gospel choir backs the song, at times Sly and the Family Stone-revelatory and at times a little eerie. It’s almost like a burned-out future version of the finale from the musical Hair, which is a compliment, I promise. Listen below. 

Possible Reasons For Next Yeah Yeah Yeahs Album Cover

On April 16 you will at long last have access to Mosquito, the fourth full-length from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It’s been four years since the marvelous It’s Blitz confirmed the YYYs’ status as Last Survivor of The Aughties Rock Revival—and meanwhile claimed the title of Best Album Cover of 2009. This time, the art may go a bit too far?

Supplied by South Korean filmmaker and animator Beomsik Shimbe Shim, the cover of Mosquito is an appallingly neon affair, a mashup of cutting-edge, Pixar-like computer graphics and the haphazard, deliberately gruesome CD sleeves rampant among one-off 90s grunge bands. Maybe, once you’re no longer competing for shelf space at Virgin Megastores, this aspect of music promotion is moot? Or the photographer they liked was busy?

You can also watch this Mosquito teaser, featuring a blonde Karen O. and some punky sounds that could signal a return to raw form after the polished Factory Records ballads of It’s Blitz. Which could help explain the viscerally ugly art. The only other explanation is that they wanted bloggers to ridicule it.

Rick Ross, Fiona Apple, and Eight Other Artists Who Deserved a Best Original Song Nomination

The category for Best Original Song is always a bit of a mess. The songs are rarely judged on how they sound; the importance is, of course, how the song fits into the film for which it was written. This year’s nominees are representative of the usual fare. There’s the popular choice (Adele’s "Skyfall," which will likely win, as it should), the new song for the big-budget musical adaptation (the unnecessary "Suddenly" from Les Misérables), and then there are the forgettable tunes (I didn’t even know what Chasing Ice was before today, much less the song from it). It’s a shame, really, because there were plenty of good tracks included in the list of 75 eligible songs. Here are a few that probably will have a longer shelf life than "Pi’s Lullaby."

Karen O – "Strange Love" (from Frankenweenie)

Fiona Apple – "Dull Tool" (from This is 40)

Rick Ross – "100 Black Coffins" (from Django Unchained)

John Legend – "Who Did That To You" (from Django Unchained)

Sunny Levine – "No Other Plans" (from Celeste and Jesse Forever)

Arcade Fire – "Abraham’s Daughter" (from The Hunger Games)

The Bootleggers feat. Emmylou Harris – "Cosmonaut" (from Lawless)

Florence + The Machine – "Breath of Life" (from Snow White and the Huntsman)

Katy Perry – "Wide Awake" (from Katy Perry: Part of Me)

The Black Keys / RZA – "The Baddest Man Alive" (from The Man With the Iron Fists)

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Artist Brian Batt Talks ‘Gossip Girl’

If you haven’t yet heard of artist Brian Batt, you’ll be getting a glimpse soon, especially if you tune into Gossip Girl. We know that not everyone’s smitten for Upper East Side scheming, but this impressive painter makes a cameo in tonight’s episode, “Portrait of a Lady Alexander.” Indeed, the 33-year-old acting neophyte even delivers some lines, in the presence of Chuck and Blair, no less. Guilty pleasure, meet aesthetic skill.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Batt made his way to Manhattan roughly five years ago. At the time, he was working for a Long Island-based band merchandising company, designing t-shirts and other fan-focused products. But, much as he loved it, in 2008 Batt threw in towel, determined to work for himself and bent on painting fulltime.

And now, that’s just what he does. Day in and day out, he collides with the canvas in his Lower East Side two-bedroom walk-up, though soon he’ll be relocating to Dumbo. We can appreciate his need for more space. With two pit bulls, Lily and Zoe, bounding about (not to mention fixating on our feet) and countless large-scale works scattered throughout the apartment, perched precariously against walls and otherwise making it a little difficult to walk without worry, he’s due for—and deserving of—a real estate upgrade.

Batt’s style has certainly evolved over the years, and currently it’s all about gridding and dots. Some depictions we encountered during our visit were of Russell Simmons, Frida Kahlo, and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Just blocks and dots of color making for a magnificent and entirely fresh perspective. No Lichtenstein or Seurat to be seen here.

Our personal favorite Batt original would have to be Venus, which features a gorgeous girl (who looks a lot like Lana Del Rey). She sports a letterman jacket and oversized sunglasses, her long locks billowing in the wind before a body of water. The closer you stand, the more out of focus it is. But back up a bit and the beauty comes together, well, beautifully. We really dig the illusion, not to mention the evident meticulousness. And we aren’t alone. Batt counts among his collectors the likes of Reese Witherspoon and John Krasinski, amid myriad more. Though he can command up to $25,000 per piece, prints are available on his site, signed and embossed, for only $90.

Jolly and totally down to talk shop, Batt opened up to us about his craft, breaking into television (if only once…so far), and his relationship with L.A. Spoiler alert: New York City wins.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Have you always been into art, even as a kid?
I was always drawing. And, I went to college for illustration at Hartford Art School in Connecticut. Also, my dad was an artist, too.

That’s awesome. Who is your favorite artist, apart from pops of course?
My primary influence is Chuck Close. Chuck Close is the man.

I can see that, for sure. You have a couple reminiscent, albeit distinct, aesthetics. What would you call them?
Pixilated paintings and dot style[, respectively]. [The former] is influenced by the digital era. The reference is like a bitmap. [The latter is] like look[ing] at a newspaper [if] you zoom way in; it’s all dots. It’s influenced by print.

What does this endeavor mean to you?
I’m just so motivated to be painting every day, as much as possible. Definitely more motivated now than ever before. I spend a lot of time; I’m working at least twelve hours a day, seven days a week. There’s so much I want to do, so much I’m set up to do right now. Commissions and pieces I’m compelled to do. I’m the only one here to do it, too. I don’t have assistants or anything, so I just have to be as productive as I can. I work really hard.

It shows. How do you create these pieces? Like, where do you source the initial images?
This [Russell Simmons image] is taken from a photo on the internet, which is something I’m trying to avoid. I want them to be original. Like, with Gossip Girl, I couldn’t show this because I didn’t take this photo, you know?

It’s tricky. So, how did you initially get involved with Gossip Girl?
The head writer bought two of my paintings at a show I had in L.A. They wanted [to feature] a New York artist and were trying to write me into the script. They wanted me to play myself for authenticity. When they first told me, I really [didn’t] expect it to happen. [After some back and forth,] they invite[d] me to do a cameo on the show.

Were you stoked?
I was very interested.

Then what?
They explained what the scene was going to be; Chuck and Blair come to my studio to talk about a painting. They wanted me to read in front of the camera. That was the final test. I was super nervous, because I’d never done that sort of thing. They just wanted me to be myself.

Did Gossip Girl film here?
They wanted to. Because of the walk-up, it was an issue. So, they came, picked up, like, 18 of my paintings, and recreated my studio out on Long Island. It was cool to see it all recreated.

I bet. So, what was the end result?
It was amazing. The experience was great. They made me feel really comfortable and were really enthusiastic about the work. It was so surreal. It should be great exposure.

Beyond the head writer of Gossip Girl, who else invests in your work?
Probably the most famous person who’s bought work from me is Reese Witherspoon. I did one for John Krasinski a couple years ago, too. It was commissioned by a friend of his. He loves JFK…

Are you bent on depicting famous faces or are you also into lesser-known subjects?
It’s both. I don’t feel as comfortable submitting pieces where I didn’t take the photograph.

And that largely ties back to portraying folks you know or have easier access to than the celebrity (or deceased) set. Tell me about your Frida Kahlo painting.
I think it’s important [to represent] the power of women. There’s not as many female artists. There’s not as much of a presence of female artists. That’s what inspired me. I like subjects who are game changers, who overcome adversity, who stand up for something. To me, Frida totally represents that.

Absolutely.
It’s also about doing more obscure icons. People I think are amazing but don’t necessarily get the recognition of, like, Bob Marley, who’s on posters everywhere. [For example,] this is Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love Karen O.

Does anyone ever sit for a portrait?
Used to. But now I take a photograph because I don’t want to make someone wait so long.

Speaking of waiting, what’s your waiting list like?
A year. Some are priority. Some people are anxious to get something; others are, like, Whenever. I’m happy to have a bunch of commissions lined up.

It must be awesome to be an artist who isn’t starving.
It’s the best. I’m starting to pick up some momentum now.

Yes, you may even make it to Art Basel this year. Tell me more about the piece you anticipate showcasing there?
I’ve probably put in 1,000 hours so far. It’s tedious. I really hope they take it.

For sure. So, does New York inform your art? This area?
It’s always inspiring to walk around the neighborhood. I’m lucky I have dogs. Gets me out of the apartment.

But soon you’ll be abandoning the Lower East Side for Dumbo. Are you ready to say goodbye to Manhattan?
I’m freaking out. I’m majorly freaking out.

I would be, too. Lastly, your manager’s based in L.A. Can you describe your relationship with the West Coast?
There’s so many opportunities for artists out there now. It’s really refreshing to have New York artists [going] to L.A. The general population in Los Angeles is all about it. There’s so much to take advantage of. It’s really positive and beneficial to be involved in some way. It’s also nice to recharge a little bit, too. I love going back and forth, absorbing what both places have to offer. I don’t think I could live there full-time, though. New York is just so amazing.

Karen O Premieres A New Love Song From ‘Frankenweenie’ Soundtrack

Tim Burton’s upcoming Frankenweenie is an animated remake of his live-action heartwarming tale of a boy and his dog. His living-dead dog that was revived through a crazy electrical apparatus. The black-and-white film, set to hit theatres this October, features some classic B-movie aesthetics and tropes, so it makes sense that the soundtrack would also have a retro feel. Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who also helmed the kid-friendly soundtrack to the kids-and-adults-with-lots-of-feelings-friendly adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, penned the closing credits song, "Strange Love," with a bit of that retro, surf-film charm. The track, a sweet, shuffling but slightly eerie tropical ode to the kind of love that could only manifest between a boy and his undead dog, premiered on BBC’s Radio 6 today. There’s even some howling and barking thrown in for good measure. 

"My music inspiration came out of the same era of B-movie fright film references sprinkled throughout the film," Karen O told Rolling Stone. "I went in the direction of exotica and calypso stylistically because it’s quirky, good vibes music of that era, and when you throw in a Theremin solo, it’s a marriage made in heaven."

The Frankenweenie soundtrack, Frankenweenie Unleashed!, out September 25th, also features new tracks from Robert Smith, Passion Pit, Grace Potter featuring the Flaming Lips, Grouplove and Skylar Grey. Listen to the new Karen O track, from the BBC Radio 6 premiere, over at Fake Walls

See the Video for Trent Reznor & Karen O’s “Immigrant Song”

The soundtrack for David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been released digitally so chances are you have heard some of it or at least Trent Reznor and Karen O’s super agressive cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Immigrant Song". Now, you can see the creepy, bizarre video.

Head over to Pitchfork to take a look.

"I plead total ignorance to Led Zeppelin,” Karen O told The Sun when asked about the song. "I didn’t even hear the name right when I was asked. I thought they said The Pilgrim Song and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ Yeah I know, it’s pretty embarrassing."

The highly anticipated film comes out on December 21st. If this video is any sort of indication, it’s going to be good.

The Gates Shutters, Tammany Hall Opens, & Facebook Remembers

Although I hadn’t noticed it myself, word comes that the Gates, an unbelievably boring and predictable place I didn’t believe in, has shuttered. It was off to the left, a little too high up, and not cool enough to survive. To close right before the holiday cash-in tells a tale of deep dark failure. The guys who brought people to the place, Redd Stylez and Michael James, seem to have taken their show on the road – Redd to Studio XXI and Michael to Chelsea Room. Gates was snobbish without reason and badly managed. Although they made changes to correct initial blunders, this isn’t a second chance town. Their door was a disaster, all attitude with little knowledge or experience. Making mistakes at the door at a venue off the beaten path ensures failure. There are plenty of other places in town that desire “B” crowds and their money. At best, that’s all it was – a B, C, or D crowd in a badly conceived place. They spent what looked like 20 bucks rehashing the formerly beautiful Biltmore Room. They lasted way longer than I expected, but then again, I hadn’t heard a whisper about the place for 6 months.

“As one gate closes another opens,” said a fortune cookie. (Or was it a fortune teller/ or some guy at some table spending a fortune and being philosophical? In all this Christmas confusion I fortunately have forgotten). I went by the new 152 Orchard Street hang Tammany Hall yesterday. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had played there this past Monday. Tammany honcho Eddy Brady and Sailor Jerry Rum sweetie Dana Dynamite were texting me and e-mailing me to attend, but alas Monday is Bingo night for me and my clan. The new Sailor Jerry pin-up calendar release event was a smash I hear, and the early reviews for Tammany seem to be as well. Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was on hand, and the press people sent me pictures to prove it. I toured the joint with Eddy and Dave Delzio. Purist rocker, man about town, and all around good guy Dave will be upfront on this project, which prominently features a stage, proper lights, and appropriate sound. As I was walked around, workers were painting things red, while old school posters and photos of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall were being unfurled. They will be plastered on the walls to add some panache to the place.

My old pal Arthur Weinstein, who passed a couple years ago, celebrated his birthday on Facebook yesterday. His contributions to nightlife, and to my life, have been chatted about here, and cannot be underestimated. It’s amazing how many people took the time yesterday to wish him a happy one on his still-active Facebook profile. Facebook founder and Time’s Man of the Year Mark Zuckerberg has not only changed the way we live, but how we pass. Arthur is remembered and visited. His friends still stay in touch with each other years after he’s moved on. A special friend talks Arthur’s talk, and we suddenly feel like he’s with us. We see new images often, as people upload them. He lives in cyber space, and although I miss him terribly, I find solace there. Facebook is a relatively new phenomenon, and I see our present use of it as just the tip of the iceberg.

I bought an old 1930’s era phone for the restored Nells phone booth, which is part of our design at Darby. Many of the young crew working on the downstairs yesterday had never seen a rotary dial before. They couldn’t believe there was a time before push button technology. I told them that as a kid in Connecticut, we lived in a rural area and shared a “party line” with our neighbor. If the phone rang once it was for them, twice for us. Sometimes you would pick up the phone and they would be chatting on it. You would say “excuse me” and they would politely wrap up their call in a few minutes so you could make yours. It was a time when we had two channels on the television, which was the size of a sofa. There were no cell phones, and the only computers were in the Pentagon or NASA. As we approach the new decade, it just doesn’t seem cliché to me at all to ask, What will they think of next? I miss my pal Arthur, but will find consolation and comfort after I wrap this up with a “Hey” on Facebook.

Grammys Smartly Snub Miley Cyrus for Karen O.

The last time we had a great old chat about the Grammys, we talked about how whoever is issuing the shortlists may be trying to obliterate the state of music and that one of the most telling signs of the committee’s inability to gauge the biggest hits — through sales or creative prowess — was the disturbing absence of Miley Cyrus. But not to fear! For every senseless omission, there is a reasonable explanation. And in this case, there’s also a totally excellent alternative.

Cyrus’ “The Climb,” a song most noted for its soaring vocal flourishes, layered lyrical tropes, and complex messages about how life is sometimes like a house on fire, but if you can find the fire extinguisher, you will be rewarded. The song was on the Grammys shortlist in the Best Song Written for a Soundtrack category. But days later, it was cruelly yanked from the list. Reason being that “The Climb” may not have been written by Jessi Alexander, who either penned the tune while driving to work or passing a BM, specifically for the Hannah Montana movie itself.

Replacing the Cyrus tune on the shortlist then was Karen O. & the Kids’ “All Is Love” from the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack. So instead of dwelling on how mortifying it is that the panel actual awarded any number of votes to “The Climb,” let’s just take a collective sigh of relief that a substantial number of voters were pulling for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman. That despite so much bad taste, it was possible for some good to shine through.

To make clear just how (troublingly?) pervasive Cyrus’ influence has become on the world at large, Grammy nod or not: Apart from reaching #4 and being certified double platinum on the Billboard 100, “The Climb” has also charted at #12 in New Zealand, #16 in France, #37 in Denmark, and #46 in Spain. Although frankly, neither would’ve bested the obvious forerunners to win the category: Beyoncé or Bruce Springsteen.