<p>Arcade Fire</p>

Arcade Fire

Credit: AP Photo

Arcade Fire played new music at a secret show this weekend

Why you can't hear it yet

Arcade Fire are definitely on track to releasing new music in the coming year, especially since they're previewing even more of it at secret shows.

The Montreal-based rock crew performed a tiny show in their hometown this weekend according to fan site Arcade Fire Tube, and apparently the tunes are dance-worthy, if at the least upbeat. Only around 100 people were present for the show. The group were billed under the name Les Identiks.

So where's the blurry live video with some loud dude talking over the sound of the bar's clinking glasses? All those clued in to the performances swore to a no-phone, no-video, no-photo and no-recording policy.

Arcade Fire played a new song "Crucified Again" at a benefit show earlier this fall, you can see that here. Because those guys didn't have the same policy.

Arcade Fire's last album "The Suburbs" was released in August 2010.

<p>Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds</p>

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds announce first album in five years

Watch the trailer to 'Push the Sky Away'

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are getting ready to bow their first album in five years when "Push the Sky Away" drops on Feb. 19. In between, Cave has been busy in Grinderman. In fact, two-thirds of the ensemble for "Sky" have been busy with the same thing.

Multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn Casey and percussionist Jim Sclavunos, in addition to Cave, made up Grinderman in its last incarnation in 2011; Bad Seeds alumni Thomas Wydler (drums) and Conway Savage (vocals) return as well. Mick Harvey is still M.I.A. since he and Cave had a parting of ways after more than two dozen years in 2009.

But its Casey we hear from the most in the trailer for the album. That brrrring drone lays overtop studio jabber from Cave and his cohorts as they lay down their plans at La Fabrique in the south of France.

What the chatter won't tell you is the basic narrative that may make up most of "Push the Sky Away":

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<p>Rick Ross</p>

Rick Ross

Credit: AP Photo

Listen to Rick Ross' song for Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

Whistle... oh no!

I think some artists thrive when they're given constraints, like writing for a film. I think of RZA with his various soundtracks, like his own "Man with the Iron Fists," or latter-day Trent Reznor who hasn't wholly succeeded with How to Destroy Angels but can write the hell out of a score for "The Social Network" or "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Rick Ross is an interesting choice for Quentin Tarantino as promo season for "Django Unchained" goes into hyperdrive. Tarantino hasn't shocked with his musical choices before. And part of me wanted to be shocked at how Ross could be under constraints.

The trailer, with the Bawse, was pretty dope. This song "100 Black Coffins," on the whole, is kind of a dud.

The chorus has a strong center and a good delivery, with the whistling and the ominous beat (which I feel should be credited to producer and movie star Jamie Foxx). But outside of that, Ross sounds a bit lost when he can't be dropping watch brand names and various metaphor for T-and-A, forcing that verse in about Django and his strife against his bawse.

But the imagery of a hundred black bibles ("so we can send em all to hell") is good enough to sell a movie.

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<p>AC/DC</p>

AC/DC

Credit: AP Photo

AC/DC's entire back catalog does so-so on iTunes debut with little promotion

Do the numbers compare to the Beatles' or Led Zeppelin's?

AC/DC were among the last holdouts from digital retail of their music, but they should have perhaps thought about making more fanfare about their entry.

On Nov. 19, the evolving rock act finally unleashed its back catalog on iTunes, as well as two exclusive box sets (let's just call them bulk sets now, people). According to Billboard, combined, the 25 albums sold 48,000 downloads. The total number of songs sold were 696,000.

The best-selling album was "Back in Black" at 15,000 and "Thunderstruck" was the single best-seller with 85,000. Which surprises me. I would have thought "You Shook Me All Night Long" (64,000) would have been the winner there.

When the Beatles lifted the cold, hard curtain on their catalog to iTunes in 2010, they sold a combined 119,000 albums and 1.42 million songs.

When Led Zeppelin finally bowed, it was 47,000 albums and 300,000 songs. That was 2007.

What changes is the times, and how much promotion and marketing the catalog entities put into it. Unless you saw the timely article on HitFix.com (OK, OK, OK, and some other outlets) and checked out the iTunes shop homepage, you probably weren't entirely aware that AC/DC was now selling through iTunes. Meanwhile, consumers couldn't avoid the Beatles' launch if they tried back in 2010; and in 2007, you were still stealing all your music anyway, and iTunes, Amazon and other retailers weren't exactly in their selling prime yet.

AC/DC, of course, is still practically omnipresent. "Back and Black" is widely licensed, the band had a best-selling exclusive album through Wal-Mart recently and they still are on that first page of the karaoke catalog. But they were competing for the attentions of shoppers during Black Friday week, and digital tracks aren't necessarily the first item on everyone's wish list, as opposed to the physical product.

Do you think the so-so sales could have been better if they joined the bandwagon sooner? Or if consumers were more aware? Or both?

 

<p>Sia</p>

Sia

Listen to Sia sing her own 'Diamonds,' which is now Rihanna's No. 1 hit

Who does it better?

Sia co-wrote the song "Diamonds," and now that track is a No. 1 single by Rihanna. If Sia had sung it, and farmed it to radio, it would not go No. 1.

But that's not to say the songwriter doesn't sing it better.

The Aussie performed "Diamonds" for an audience at the Norweigan-American Achievement Award ceremony (you heard me) last night, set to a simple and emotional backing track with help from Stargate. Her rasp and high notes fit the tune and "Diamonds" obviously sat right in her range.

Rihanna's version has her Bajan accent, a childish sound clap-trapping down on the chorus' vowels. I think coming from global superstar Rihanna the song is just fine. I get why it's a hit when it's coming from Sia, ho is better known at the moment for her guest spot and co-write on David Guetta's "Titanium." She, furthermore, co-wrote Ne-Yo's recent hit "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)."

"Diamonds" was produced by Stargate and frequent collaborator and "Diamonds" co-writer Benny Blanco. The latter told the Huffington Post of the song's fruition: "We're sitting there trying to make records, and we finally just said, "Let's just do something we like. Let's make a hip-hop record with some really cool chords on it." It didn't sound Rihanna at all... Then Sia heard the track and instantly gravitated towards it... she wrote this amazing song, and it just happened overnight."

<p>CeeLo Green and the Muppets</p>

CeeLo Green and the Muppets

Credit: AP Photo

Rockefeller Tree Lighting: 7 magical (and weird) musical moments

Mariah Carey, CeeLo Green, Il Volo, Rod Stewart and all the gold trimming

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center tonight became illuminated, and as per usual, the occasion couldn't pass without a little fanfare. Scotty McCreery, Mariah Carey, Victoria Justice and more brought music to thousands of people for thousands of little lights in New York, and live on television.

Below are some stand-outs, for all the various reasons entertainers stand out.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey does not do long sleeves. She does fur stoles, and if not, then evening gloves with sequined short sleeves. And she goes in twice, in a pre-taped segment for her classic "All I Want For Christmas" (gorgeous) and for "Christmas Time Is In The Air Again" (ah, that old relic). She is forever fabulous.
 
CeeLo Green
 
Aside from the unintended hilarity calling CeeLo's holiday song "All I Need Is Love" an “original,” checking the Muppets sing "Mahna Mahna" always feels so right. Furthermore, as the "rap" verse ascends, so does a creature from Green's nethers: Pepe the King Prawn delivers in more than one, awkward way.
 
Il Volo
 
In case you were wondering if writers ever sat at their desk at the TV company, wrote the words “taking the world by storm” for copy and then gave it to someone to say on-air, they do, and Al Roker executed. Il Volo is a small collection of Gap Italia models and they delivered an affected "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," biting their lips, whooshing hair, dipping their face in order to excrete designer eyewear and cosmetic dental work. And then I passed out, I don't remember anything else.
 
 
"The Voice" singer has the Spirit. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is simple and pure, with no need for gold trimmings. 
 
Rod Stewart
 
As a distraction from Rod using the mic stand as a crutch during "Let It Snow," here is a mind-blowing photo of him and CeeLo together.
 
 
There's a skinny tie under there. Johnny Lydon is somewhere, upset.
 
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and he looks like Tony Bennett. This charming pre-taped segment was a gentle reminder that, to Tony Bennett, all of life must be a comedy. He’s got that jolly look, and grins like an old dog, and he’s like “I’m comin’ to town, yeah!” and you're like "Yeah!"
 
Trace Adkins

If trace Adkins ran toward me at a high velocity wearing that fur and that scowl on his face, I’d run for the nearest treeline. But the magic of "We Three Kings" is the equal parts scary and mysterious and uplifting and heaven-toward. Adkins' appearance is a metaphorical representation of the song itself (muse the enigma of pedal steel with nobody sitting at it).
<p>From &quot;Ice Age&quot;</p>

From "Ice Age"

Watch: How to Destroy Angels' 'Ice Age' video by John Hillcoat

Trent Reznor and Co. are ready for the Apocalypse

If that Mayan Calendar really does predict The End, Trent Reznor's band How To Destroy Angels is ready for whatever. You can tell they see it coming, because singer Mariqueen Maandig looks to the ocean when she sings "ocean."

The band -- rounded out by Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan -- goes predictably dour for Califone rip "Ice Age," the clip directed by "Lawless" helmer John Hillcoat. There's some beautiful long shots of Maandig and a palate to die for. I like the doves. "An Omen" indeed.

The band's EP "An Omen" is already out and they've promised a full-length for 2013.

<p>Skylar Grey</p>

Skylar Grey

Listen: Skylar Grey and Eminem's 'C'Mon Let Me Ride' is dumber than a bicycle

Daddy, what's a banana seat?: Satire in song form

Skylar Grey's collaboration with Eminem, "C'Mon Let Me Ride," contains filthy, unclever and thinly veiled euphemisms for screwing. It's got a playful verse structure and an equally childish lyric video, and a chorus that is as tooth-rotteningly sweet as a Capri Sun jingle. It takes the melodic and lyrical page from Queen's "Bicycle Race" and has it sung by Eminem doing his best Pee-Wee Herman imitation, while the term "banana seat" is beaten (eh? get it?) to it's maxim.

It's a joke.... no, really, it's meant as a joke.

It was written as a satire of “overly sexified music, media and the girls who try and imitate it.” Hence the tossed-off effect of the terms "slut," "bitch" and Em's dragging-d*ck rhymes.

"I've learned from Em I can have more fun," she told Rolling Stone in an interview published in October. "He's very sarcastic and makes me laugh all the time and there are parts of my attitude I have in person but I've never shown in a song. I feel like he showed me I don't have to be afraid to show that side."

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<p>Andre 3000</p>

Andre 3000

Andre 3000 joins T.I. to say 'Sorry' on new track: Listen

Is the former OutKast rapper apologizing to Big Boi?

Former OutKast member Andre 3000 makes a rare guest spot on the new T.I. track "Sorry," from T.I.'s upcoming "Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head." 

Over a sparse track featuring a number of keys and synths and some subtly funky bass from producer Jazze Pha, T.I. brags about his hustle, his money, his college grades and the fact that it's his time to shine. With a line like "Never mind what the blogs say/do what my mind and my heart say," T.I. doesn't sound like he feels the need to apologize for any of his success.

Then the relatively reclusive Andre 3000 arrives and blows the track wide open. The former OutKast rapper intones "I don't even like rapping fast," before slowing it down. In what is no doubt aimed at his former OutKast partner Big Boi, Dre offers this olive branch: "This the type shit that make you call your rap partner and say I'm sorry I'm awkward, my fault for fucking up the tours/ I hated all the attention so I ran from it."

In a strange twist, Big Boi just released the new track "In the A" which features guest spots from Ludacris....and T.I. 

Listen to "Sorry" here:



What do you think of "Sorry"?

 

Watch: 50 Cent, Eminem and Adam Levine are running scared in 'My Life'

Watch: 50 Cent, Eminem and Adam Levine are running scared in 'My Life'

Single was presented on 'The Voice' last night, sans Slim Shady

It was only yesterday that 50 Cent presented one of his strongest mainstream hip-hop/pop tracks in years, "My Life." It's felt like an eternity, particularly since he was on "The Voice" only a few hours after. Today, we have the full music video featuring Eminem and Adam Lambert running around scared.

I've taken the term "My Life" as in "F*ck my life," a statement that Fif, Shady and the Maroon 5 frontman are all trying to express. This isn't the space to boast (entirely), this is their sad, dark creative corner of the house to flip off the shenanigans. None of this is made more clear than during Em's verse and appearance in the vid. If it wasn't readily apparent yesterday, please note: dude's on fire here.

What I remain unconvinced of is Levine's emotional presentation. He makes a terrible hobo.

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