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Concert photos by the L.A. Times

A few things dominated the pop music conversation this year. A British boy band, a pop comeback king, a pair of hip-hop outliers and a NSFW music video – all of which drives the nominations for the 2013 American Music Awards , which were announced Thursday morning. Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis led the pack with six nominations, while Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake followed with five nods apiece. Florida Georgia Line, Rihanna and Robin Thicke received four, and Bruno Mars and Imagine Dragons both scored three nods. After a banner year, thanks to the success of Thrift Shop the bestselling digital song of the year Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will vie for new artist, favorite pop/rock band, favorite hip-hop act and artist of the year along with Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times Thirft Shop is also up for single of the year, a new category being introduced this year that will pit the single up against Robin Thickes inescapable song of summer, Blurred Lines, and the inexplicable Flordia Georgia Line and Nelly collaboration, Cruise. Although Daft Punk s Get Lucky was surprisingly snubbed for single of the year, the French dance duo made it in the electronic dance music category, which was introduced last year. A quick scan of the nominees yielded few surprises. Florida Georgia Line, Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Phillip Phillips are up for new artist of the year. The race for favorite pop male artist is between Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake, while Pink , Rihanna and Taylor Swift will battle it out in the female category. Miley Cyrus , who didn’t score a single nomination, and Imagine Dragons are the first performers announced for the telecast, which airs live from the Nokia Theatre on Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.

You don’t pick a song or artist and then let the service build a randomly-generated playlist for you. Instead, for $10 a month, you have unfettered access to an online jukebox with tens of millions of songs. What really separates Rdio from the competition is its social backbone. You can follow friends, strangers, musicians, businesses, etc. and get a sense of what they’re listening to. Rdio will also recommend songs and artists for you to check out based on your friends’ interests. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re not quite sure what to listen to, this feature is one of the best in helping you figure it out. Another standout Rdio feature is the ability to build an online library full of “your” tracks. With rival services, having your favorite music in front of you means scrolling through hundreds of playlists in the sidebar of the app. It’s less than ideal. Rdio instead presents your collection as a highly visual array of album thumbnails that can be sorted in a variety of manners.

Rdio is the best streaming music service

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Hancher, a $176 million project, is arguably the glitzier of the two fine arts facilities, which are in the early stages of construction on the opposite ends of campus after the flood of 2008 shuttered the complex they once shared. The steel-clad Hanchers curving, futuristic design will stand in contrast to the clean lines and modern architecture of the glassy, $153 million School of Music. But the School of Musics exterior simplicity belies what will be inside. Randy Clarahan, an executive with Mortenson Construction, which is managing both the Hancher and School of Music sites, calls it one of the most complicated projects hes overseen. I have the unique spot of being able to see both projects develop, Clarahan said. As neat as Hancher is, and as architecturally challenging as it is because of its geometry, inside will be a great performance hall, but Im going to say its reasonably straightforward. Thats versus the School of Music, which on the outside looks reasonably straightforward, but then you get inside, and there are over 150 acoustically sensitive spaces. When it opens in the fall of 2016, the six-story School of Music, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects and local architect of record Neumann Monson, will feature a 700-seat concert hall, 200-seat recital hall, an organ hall, opera and chamber music spaces, studios, classrooms and dozens of individual rehearsal spaces. Each of those rooms, Clarahan says, will be tailored acoustically to suit an array of musical functions. For the performance hall, for instance, architects designed an intricate, lattice-like suspended theatroacoustic system a single curved aluminum screen that will hang from the ceiling to reflect light and sound. Practice rooms, meanwhile, are being built with masonry block walls, double ceilings and special floors to contain the sound and enhance acoustics. In the final months of the construction process, acoustic technicians and consultants will be brought in to work with the construction team to fine-tine the sound in each of those more than 150 rooms. If the acoustics fail, the job wont succeed the way it should, said Jason McKane, Mortensons project manager for the School of Music. Thats the biggest point were pushing. The School of Music is being built at the southwest corner of Clinton and Burlington streets, where UI razed two former banks earlier this year to make way for the facility.

Construction head: School of Music one of the most complex projects he’s overseen

. We now have television channels from across the globe. The Internet lets us speak to people from practically every nation. The expansion of communication has also opened the doors to the acknowledgement of new kinds of music . There are many apps such as I Heart Radio that enable people to listen to radio stations from states and countries that are thousands of miles away. Whereas the listeners that radio stations garnered were once solely decided by the location where one lived, people now have the opportunity to listen to stations from all over the world based only on the kind of music they like the most; location is no longer a hindrance. Most interesting is the capability to discover new kinds of music from such apps. Many artists from all across the globe are played on the radio stations presented on I Heart Radio that would not get air play on local airwaves in many countries. Furthermore, because the Internet is capable of picking up radio stations from anywhere in the world, such apps can be used to introduce children to traditional music from other countries. Using music to teach children about culture also gives them the opportunity to appreciate musical styles that are different from those in their hometown area. This helps them expand both their cultural education and knowledge of music. Hence, when it comes time to teach your child geography or social studies it is worth checking out radio stations and traditional music from those nationsespecially if your child is musical. This is an offbeat, but memorable, lesson idea. Suggested by the author