"American Idol" persists, "Glee" gets more "Physical," Lady Gaga wears something weird, but something more rare has hit the headlines hard this week that will have a more lasting effect than that B.o.B. single.
Nashville was quietly struck by flashing flooding, causing the Cumberland to swell beyond its banks, sending up to eight feet of water into the heart of Music City.
 
There’s a lot going on in America right now, from oil spills to Times Square terrorism to the mercurial insanity of NASDAQ. But a bastion of American music has fallen on hard times, with an estimated $1 billion in property damage alone. This is not just a city for country lovers, but the major dot on the map where songwriters meet with people who sing their songs, to beloved institutions and venues that host popular musicians, regardless of genre. Joints like the Ryman Auditorium went unscathed, while rooms like the Grand Ole Opry may never be the same.

As Jon Stewart famously pointed out this week, this marks two American gems  that have been struck by natural disaster in the last decade – New Orleans being the other. There was no hurricane, no warning for Nashville, but the cleanup and economic recovery from this 500-year flood may be as achingly severe.

Major country stars (and even Ke$ha! Ke$ha?) have already signed on to charity performances and to donation drives to help bail Nashville out of muddy water.

A Music Power Ranking is as good a place as any to reflect on the news, and how to help. Perhaps start with a little Red Cross, maybe?
 
  1. Nashville (not ranked last week) – Light a candle for the musicians, business owners and residents of this middle Tennessean region.
     
  2. Christina Aguilera (not ranked) – Last Friday, the pop star sent the internetz into full-buzz mode with the outrageous (though, unsurprising?) video for “Not Myself Tonight.” This week was the sort of fallout from that event, with Lady Gaga lovers calling shenanigans on the similarities between the two artists, ‘Tina defenders hoisting old photos of their hero to compare just how long the “Beautiful” singer has been at it, and a particular crew of moms cawing how sexy videos are harming our nation’s children, or something. On top of that, Aguilera is one of the first-announced artists to be performing at the June 6 broadcast of the MTV Movie Awards.
     
  3. B.o.B. (No. 5 last week) – The rapper and pop artist’s “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” landed at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 this week, though his hit with Bruno Mars, “Nothin’ On You,” yielded to Usher’s “OMG” on top of the Hot 100 singles chart. No matter. Sites are chatty about the crossover content of the album, which promises to keep people talking about Bobby Ray for weeks to come. Additionally, Mars has announced he will be releasing his own solo effort soon.
     
  4. Chely Wright (not ranked) – After a somewhat boring discussion of who would come out of the closet on the cover of People this week, it was unveiled that country singer Chely Wright is a lesbian. Most people couldn’t hum you a Wright tune should you put a gun to their head, but it is worth noting that the singer is the highest profile country artist yet to be openly homosexual in a genre widely viewed to play to conservative characters. As Salon said, this isn’t the first time for gay people in country music to be a topic of discussion, but this at least fuels the fire for tolerance and proof that great songs come from folks of all stripes. Speaking of stripes...
     
  5. Jack White and The White Stripes (not ranked) - In an interview with the U.K.’s Times, White Stripes and Dead Weather songwriter Jack White said his “sister” Meg has made strides in battling anxiety that crippled the band’s last, 2007 tour. Which may mean she may be ready to make new music and hit the road. Meanwhile, Dead Weather performed its new, forthcoming “Sea of Cowards” album in its entirety on MySpace. Plus, White has been getting lip service for the success of his throwback Third Man Records label/studio/store, and he’s been a driving force in supporting wife Karen Elson’s album.
     
  6. Lady Gaga (No. 2 last week) – “The Fame” singer got weird for “American Idol” this week, but couldn’t let it go after it was over. Gaga was reportedly furious with the final edit of her performance of “Alejandro,” so she posted the full clip – with two extra minutes of footage – for fans to mull. Even with the subpar track and the shrug-worthy controversy, she was still the most interesting thing to happen on AI this week.

  7. Katy Perry (not ranked) – First there’s Lady, then there’s Katy. Post-“I Kissed a Girl,” Perry is now setting her sights on “California Gurls,” the first single from her new album, reportedly due some time this summer. Her last track to gain airplay from 2008’s “One of the Boys” was “Waking Up in Vegas,” which fizzled out last fall. Snoop Dogg is on board for this return.
     
  8. “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” soundtrack (not ranked) – The next installment in one of the most successful soundtrack series ever has announced the first single from “Eclipse”: Muse’s new track “Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever).” This makes it three for three for the British rock band for being on “Twilight” sets.
     
  9. The National (not ranked) – As excitement for The National’s “High Violet” is climbing to fever pitch, the Brooklyn-based band announced a collaboration with filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker (“Don’t Look Back”) and Chris Hegedus (“The War Room”) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for May 15, a show to benefit AIDS org Red Hot. The show sold out in less than a day.
     
  10. Ratatat (not ranked) – Speaking of red hot, this groundbreaking electronic troupe announced its “LP4,” with release skedded June 8. The news was a gush more than a trickle, considering the whole thing leaked online this week. So the duo let loose one song for mass consumption: “Party With Children.”

Previous Rankings:

May 1
April 23