MP3: Passion Pit remixes Lady Gaga + Beyonce's "Telephone"; plus, Justin Timberlake's beardo friend

PASSION PIT REMIX LADY GAGA + BEYONCE's "TELEPHONE." For those of you who think that Passion Pit is a passing college fad, well, this probably won't change your outlook. But it's another brick in the wall for those of us who are anticipating a full-on top-40 pop assault from the Pit. We're teasing, but only a little bit, because we have some undivulgable inside dope about who is shopping for Michael Angelakos's beats these days. Believe us, the people behind Passion Pit are going to be branching out into enormous things in 2010. This is just the beginning. As for the remix itself: highly-literate, highly-stylized house music. 

DOWNLOAD:  Lady Gaga + Beyonce, "Telephone (Passion Pit Remix)" [mp3]

NEW YORKER: BEFORE SHE WAS GAGA. The New Yorker today has its second  Talk of the Town on Lady Gaga, the surest (and reliably lastest) indication of her world domination. The last one, from November, was about her Frank Gehry-designed hat -- a typically New Yorkerish twofer. This one is useful in that it provides a telling anecdote from her pre-Gaga days at the Bitter End, which pointed us to the above YouTube clip of her covering Led Zeppelin; remarks that a recent Gaga gig attracted both Trey Anastasio and Donald Trump; and provides us with the following glimpse of Papa Gaga: 

Gaga’s father, Joseph Germanotta, an Internet entrepreneur who these days works for his daughter, was in the audience. Lady Gaga, now dressed in a huge stole made of crow feathers, acknowledged his presence, saying, “Hi, Dad!” The Jumbotron screen caught him with his eyes closed, as though he couldn’t watch.

BEYONCE ON "HOPE FOR HAITI": Benefit concerts almost always suck, especially hastily-thrown-together benefits for emerging third-world tragedies. And certainly there were parts of last Friday's Haiti telecast that we never need to see again: suffice to say that not even the Roots can make us sit through a Sting solo session. Back in 2001, the post-9/11 television benefit introduced a new kind of staging: part Jerry Lewis telethon, part funeral, in which performers perform in subdued settings and end, awkwardly, to a quiet, applause-less room. Revived again for last Friday's Haiti telethon, that formula feels in need of a makeover: the transitions never feel good, and the performances almost never feel suitably humble. Almost. And this time, the exceptions to that rule were enough to make up for the rest. It was as if the producers hadn't had enough time to do all the things they'd normally do to screw things up.

For once, there was a reason to head to iTunes after the thing was over. We're grabbing Justin Timberlake's version of American Idol's unlikeliest contribution to the American songbook: the Jeff Buckley arrangement of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." JT came out, bearded, and sung it as a duet with an even beardier guy who, at first glance, appeared to be someone from Fleet Foxes. He turned out to be Timberlake's friend and former Mouseketeer Matt Morris, who has written songs for Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera. (If Simon Cowell was lurking nearby, he would've delivered a short, blunt sermon on how the song had just made someone a star.) The very last two people I ever want to see at a benefit for third-world countries are the two people you are almost guaranteed to see first: Bono and Chris Martin. And yet they performed perhaps the only roles that would make me like them: they served as respective second-fiddles to Mr. and Mrs. Sean Carter. There was something wonderful and culturally appropriate about having Bono and the Edge reduced to singing backups for Jay-Z. There was also the mini-drama of conflicting stage-styles: Jay-Z wasn't sure whether to even make eye contact, and Bono kept trying to hold hands with Rihanna. And then there was Chris Martin, keeping his head down while fingering the perfect Thom York-ish piano chords for Beyonce's unbelievable solo version of "Halo," re-dedicated to Haiti -- every once in a while, when you forget how great a singer she is, go watch that performance for a reminder. 

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