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Patrick Stump Critiques Choose the Cover Finalists

Lelia Broussard, Empires, Fictionist and the Sheepdogs get advice from Stump and panel of experts

May 10, 2011 7:30 AM ET

The third round of the Choose the Cover of Rolling Stone contest is under way! After hundreds of thousands of votes were cast online, the 16 acts vying for the cover of Rolling Stone – as well as an Atlantic Records contract – have been narrowed down to a group of four. Our finalists recently visited New York City, where they performed in Rolling Stone's studio and met with a panel of mentors including rocker Patrick Stump, Atlantic Records A&R director Mollie Moore and Rolling Stone editors Touré and Christian Hoard for some thoughtful advice and constructive criticism.

Choose the Cover of Rolling Stone: Vote Now!

Canadian boogie rockers the Sheepdogs impressed Stump with their harmonies. "I don't know a lot of bands that pull them off that succinctly," Stump said. Rolling Stone's Hoard was also into the band's sound, remarking, "You guys have a really nice affect, a good presence." (Watch video of the Sheepdog's critique.)

Photos: The Sheepdogs Check Out Manhattan

The Chicago quartet Empires got the panel excited with their high-energy performance. "I liked when you guys interacted a little bit and there was a smile between you," Atlantic's Moore said. "It's a serious thing and I get being in your own self, but part of an audience watching an artist is wanting to be a part of that." (Watch video of Empires' critique.)

Photos: Empires Explore New York

Utah rockers Fictionist got a thumbs up from Hoard. "I like the guitar tone a lot, the guitar hook is a good one," he said. "It's kind of a cool space rock jam and there's room in there for you to extend things a bit." (Watch video of Fictionist's critique.)

Photos: Fictionist Visit New York City

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Lelia Broussard won over the panel with her joyful spirit. "I really like what you're bringing to the stage, it's very charming," says Touré.  "I liked that you smiled," Stump added. "It was a very simple thing, but it says a lot." (Watch video of Lelia Broussard's critique.)

Photos: Lelia Broussard On the Streets of New York City

On their trip to New York, our finalists also recorded new songs, performed in our studio, and talked to Rolling Stone about what inspires them to make music while hanging out in the Big Apple.

Voting for this round will close on May 13th. The two surviving bands will advance to the final round – an epic battle on stage at the Bonnaroo festival in June. The winner of the contest will be announced on the August 2nd episode on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon where they will also make their live television debut. In the meantime, please check out all of the songs and vote for your favorites.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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