Gaga's Shrinkmobile, Tapes & Vinyl Thrive and More

Lady Gaga's next tour jaunt will include the BornBrave Bus, a safe place for fans to participate in talk sessions about “mental health, depression, bullying, school and friends"; CD sales continued to plummet in 2012, but the vinyl LP, cassette and even

HOT

Wheelin’ and Healin’

At first glance, headlines about a new addition to Lady Gaga’s tour seemed to be softball lobs for smart-ass tweeters and/or late-night talk show hosts to riff on — “Lady Gaga will offer mental-health counseling before concerts,” blared the one at latimes.com. But the counseling isn’t prep for how to get through Gaga’s outlandish show. The singer announced that the BornBrave Bus would join her on the next leg of her tour, providing talk sessions about “mental health, depression, bullying, school and friends” for fans before concerts. It’s part therapy, part tailgating dance party, as Gaga promises DJs will be on hand to “keep the experience fun” — the key to any effective therapy session (my shrink’s office is in a giant inflatable moon bounce, for example).

WARM

Cult Formats Rising

The year-end Nielsen SoundScan sales numbers for 2012 revealed few surprises outside of Adele’s 21 selling more albums than any other … for the straight second year. Otherwise, CD sales dropped again, digital sales were up and vinyl had its biggest sales year since 1991. The cassette format has undergone a weird, cultish revival recently; in the U.K. cassette singles even made chart news. Britain’s Official Charts Company reports sales of “cassingles” tripled in 2012 — from 218 to 604 copies sold. Brit rockers Feeder accounted for the boost — the tape version of the band’s “Borders” single sold 480 copies. But the weirdest U.K. sales note from the OCC was the revelation that 270 copies of albums on the fleeting MiniDisc format were sold last year. Concerned the cassette and MiniDisc trend have become too played out, hipsters have decided the next cool audio format will be answering machine mini-cassettes.

COLD

Hand Job

After a fest appearance in Australia, Flaming Lips ringleader Wayne Coyne sent out an APB for fans to be on the lookout for his giant, laser-shooting hands (one of many unusual stage props used by the group), which had apparently been stolen. Miraculously, considering just how trendy giant, laser-shooting hands have become, Coyne’s fake mitts were found discarded near the festival grounds by what the event’s organizers called “some dork.” Word of advice: Cuff those hands to a bike rack or something!

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