NME Blogs

The Psychology Of Stage Names: Why Musicians Create Personas

“Some people — you’re born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free,” so said Bob Dylan on '60 Minutes' in a 2004 interview, and he should know. Next week, August 2 will mark 53 years since Robert Zimmerman legally changed his name to Bob Dylan shortly before signing his first management contract in New York. While Dylan has deliberately clouded his reason for choosing his new surname - alternately confirming and denying that he took his inspiration from Dylan Thomas - his decision to reinvent himself with a catchier name seems more straight-forward. He was creating a persona for himself, one that came complete with a train-hopping troubadour backstory that was more fiction than fact. Dylan kept his real identity a closely guarded secret, and indeed he feared that the exposure of his real middle-class Jewish upbringing by Newsweek in November 1963 would undermine his career, but the story only bolstered his mythology.

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Bitch Better Have My Monet: 8 Brilliant Music Video Collaborations Between Musicians And Artists

Consistently treading the line between high art and pop culture, Kanye West’s latest video not only sees him enlisting a Turner Prize and Academy Award winning artist to direct, but going one step beyond and only showing the video in an actual gallery. The Steve McQueen-directed promo – a nine minute stomp between ‘All Day’ and unreleased 'SWISH' cut ‘I Feel Like That’ filmed in a single take in a skuzzy warehouse in Kent’s Chatham Dockyard – is only viewable at Los Angeles County Museum of Art at the moment. No YouTube or Vevo for Mr West, thankyouverymuch. Kanye’s not the only one to enlist an art world luminary to direct a music video, though - here are eight other times big name artists stepped behind the camera for musicians...

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Battles On Their "Next Level" New Album 'La Di Da Di’

"I don't know… I keep coming back to the word technique..." In a pokey pizza place in Hackney, Ian Williams is failing to explain the unclassifiable sound of his band Battles' new album - their first since 2010’s pop-tastic 'Gloss Drop'. Ever since exploding into the big time in 2008 with otherworldly masterpiece ‘Atlas’, after a string of taut, exciting EPs, this is a band who have perplexed and perplexed. But it seems not even Battles can explain Battles.

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All 15 Pixar Films So Far - Ranked In Order Of Greatness

This weekend saw the release of Inside Out, hailed by critics as perhaps the greatest Pixar film to date - a claim no one makes lightly. This is, after all, the studio that brought us Toy Story. The charming Wall-E. The ultimately harrowing Up. Even the less distinguished among its 15 movies so far have struck some type of emotional chord - even Cars 2. It's this aspect of their movies that make Pixar so unique. No matter how fantastical its narratives and characters, whether they're lone robots roaming a dystopian earth, a family of dysfunctional superheroes or an estranged fish, Pixar movies' trademark is unlikely realness: exploring universal fears and ordinary emotions in extraordinary stories.

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Check Out These Poignant Fan Art Tributes To The Late Great Ian Curtis On The 35th Anniversary Of 'Closer'

This week, Joy Division’s second and final album ‘Closer’ hit 35. It’s a dark and swirling classic, released two months after the death of frontman Ian Curtis. Marking it, here's some fan-drawn tributes: from mmc1uk’s watercolour painting, which they created to raise awareness of epilepsy – a condition Curtis suffered – to Czech artist Don Mirakl’s kaleidoscopic piece, which perfectly encapsulates the band’s name. Check out these alongside the other great pieces below:

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Da Ali G Show's Five Best Musical Guests - Ranked In Order Of Awkward Hilarity

Da Ali G Show excelled when it came to musical guests - but they only lasted for the first series, presumably because coming on the show was seen (accurately, to be honest) as an exercise in ritual humiliation. But! Sacha Baron Cohen managed to trick a fair few musical guests into making appearances on his character's show before people realised this. They are, for the most part, toe-curlingly brilliant. And we have ranked them for you.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’

Arguably the greatest turn-around in rock ’n’ roll history, AC/DC bounced back from the death of singer Bon Scott, who drank himself to death in a London pub in February 1980, to make the biggest selling hard rock album ever made with new singer Brian Johnson just five months later. Fifty million sales and counting, ‘Back In Black’ is a behemoth of rock - but do you know it inside out? Here’s ten trivia tidbits you may have missed…

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