Talk Shows Offer Coachella Artists

What do Duran Duran, Ellie Goulding, PJ Harvey, The Strokes, Scissor Sisters, Wire and Wiz Khalifa have in common? They’re all playing the Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California this weekend and logged in performances on talk shows in the past few days.

Duran Duran is back after their 2007 album, Red Carpet Massacre, with a new single “All You Need Is Now” and Mark Ronson-produced album of the same name. The founding line-up of Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor performed no less than 7 songs in the past few weeks on Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Jay Leno. These guys are serious about taking their 30-year career to the next level. And they’re are doing it as a stripped down indie operation. Closing in on age 50 the boys are still driving females crazy. They’re not girls anymore. I thought it was pretty cool that they teamed up with one of my favorite film directors, David Lynch, to direct a YouTube live stream from their recent L.A. performance at the Mayan!

I don’t get the excitement surrounding Brit pop beauty Ellie Goulding. The 23-year-old singer/songwriter who performed a pedestrian version of Elton John’s “Your Song” and her own “Starry Eyed” on Jimmy Kimmel last Thursday, is mining a tired synth pop sound that doesn’t particularly forge any new ground. Her singing isn’t unique or authentic either. What passes for a breathy but husky high voice is limited in range and emotion. Lyrics are the best thing Ellie has going for her. I’m surprised she recently performed at SXSW and is on the bill Sunday at Cochella. I prefer other female British exports Adele, Florence + the Machine, and Kate Nash.

On the other hand, it’s a pleasure to witness PJ Harvey’s performance of “The Last Living Rose”, from her new album Let England Shake, on Conan last Tuesday. Harvey is on a mostly sold out world tour with stateside dates in San Francisco, New York and Indio. What I love about Harvey is her distinctive dark lyrics and unique singing style. Over the years she has been pegged as everything from a witch to a child-killer by critics taking her lyrics literally. Harvey’s performance on Conan is one of a mature artist who has fully integrated her limitations and assets into a unique persona. Yeah Polly!

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