In 2011, American Chasidic reggae-rapper Matisyahu (aka Matthew Paul Miller) shaved off his beard and announced that he was "reclaiming" himself. "At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity… to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth," he told fans via his website.
Lana Del Rey's previous album, 2012's Born To Die, sold seven million copies and made her one of the biggest new stars on the planet, albeit one of the most mysterious. She seemed almost too good to be true, like a '50s B-movie starlet who had stepped straight off the screen into a recording career. There were, as a result, questions raised about the authenticity of the artist born Lizzy Grant.
There are two Howard Bernsteins who are regularly in the news. One - a Sir no less - is chief executive of Manchester City Council. Perhaps to distinguish himself from his civic namesake, the other operates as Howie B and is famous for producing U2, Björk, Tricky, Massive Attack, Goldie and Soul II Soul, and for remixing everyone from Annie Lennox to Steve Reich and Simply Red.
Amy Winehouse's producer Mark Ronson hasn't exactly been quiet since last interviewed by the JC in 2007. He released a solo album called Record Collection in 2010 and has produced, among others, Adele, Bruno Mars, Duran Duran, Beyonce's sister Solange, Kaiser Chiefs, rap legends Nas and Ghostface Killah, and Paul McCartney.
When Madonna wore a Kylie Min-ogue T-shirt to the MTV European Music Awards in 2000, it was assumed she was being magnanimous and ironic. But the fact is that, in this country at least, Kylie is as big a deal these days.
London Grammar’s melancholy chill-out pop, with its blend of wan melody and gently pattering trip hop rhythms, has been one of the musical triumphs of the past year. The trio, who met at Nottingham University in 2009, saw their 2013 debut album If You Wait reach number two in the UK and go top 20 around the world.
As founder of the Rough Trade record store, distribution company and label, Geoff Travis has done as much as anyone to promote indie music as an alternative to mainstream, major record company product.
Chase and Status are the most successful electronic music duo in Britain, having assumed that mantle from The Chemical Brothers. Their albums and singles regularly reach the higher echelons of the charts, they have remixed the great and good of UK dance from Plan B to Tinie Tempah and they are the British collaborators of choice for international music royalty including Rihanna and Jay-Z.
It is not uncommon to find American alternative or indie bands with one Jewish member. Some down the years — such as legendary New York punks the Ramones — have featured two. But it’s quite unusual to find a band like Papa, a four-piece from Los Angeles, where all the members are Jewish.
Lynsey de Paul was the Adele of her day — a small, mousey blonde, Jewish version of Adele. For several years in the 1970s, she was everywhere, with that facial beauty spot and that inimitable breathy voice cooing songs that she wrote, performed on piano and produced. Not for nothing was she heralded at the time as the British Carole King — and, subsequently, as the precursor to Kate Bush.
There aren’t many composers, American or British, who could support a six-CD box set of their work, but Burt Bacharach — who has just turned 85 and is due to perform in Israel for the first time in July — is one such giant of post-war song. The last major collection of his music was The Look Of Love, a mere three-CD affair from 1998.
It is 22 years since Primal Scream released a truly important album (Screamadelica) and 13 years since their last great one (XTRMNTR). The former captured the heady moment when house music entered the mainstream; the latter was the most successful example of the band’s rampant eclecticism.
There is a lot to admire about this technically brilliant offering from renowned French-Canadian director Robert Lepage. For a start, it is a measure of Lepage’s skill that at two and a half hours without an interval, the evening goes remarkably quickly.
Right now, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, from Los Angeles, are three of the hottest names in pop, rock and r&b (and their sound is a blend of pop, rock and r&b — imagine Fleetwood Mac jamming with Destiny’s Child).
With their run of hits such as Donna, I’m Mandy Fly Me, The Wall Street Shuffle and Art For Art’s Sake and their number one singles I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday, 10cc were one of the biggest bands of the ’70s.