Inside Music with Melinda Newman

Taylor Swift's 'Red' is poised to return to the top of the Billboard 200

Only two titles debut in the Top 10 as holiday slow down continues

<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Taylor Swift’s “Red” returns to the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after a several-week hiatus.

The set by the superstar is set to sell between 155,000 and 165,000 copies, giving it a good lead over Wiz Khalifa’s “O.N.I.F.C.,” which will likely debut at No. 2 if the rapper can hold off a charge from Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas Baby.” Both are projected to move between 135,000 and 145,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double.

In addition to Khalifa, the only other debut in the Top 10 will come from Ke$ha, whose “Warrior” will likely bow at No. 6 with sales of up to 90,000 copies.

Holiday titles continue to dominate the Top 10: Michael Buble’s “Christmas” is No. 4,  Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” is No. 7 and Lady Antebellum’s “On This Winter’s Night” is No. 8.

As far as the rest of the Top 10, One Direction’s “Take Me Home” will be at No. 5, this week’s No. 1, Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire,” will slide to No. 9 and “American Idol’s” Phillip Phillips’ “Word From The Side Of The Moon” is No. 10.

Notorious B.I.G.'s autopsy report reveals details of 1997 shooting

Rapper was shot four times

<p>Biggie Smalls</p>

Biggie Smalls

Credit: AP Photo

Fifteen years after his death, the Notorious B.I.G.’s autopsy report reveals that he was struck by four bullets, with the final shot delivering the fatal blow. TMZ published the never-before-released report today.

The rapper was murdered March 9, 1997 as he sat in an SUV, as he left a party at Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles held after the Soul Train Awards.  The murder has not been solved, with a number of different theories circulating, including that Death Row Records’ Suge Knight ordered the hit to avenge the death of Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in 1996.

The autopsy report revealed that Biggie Smalls, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was first hit in the forearm, then in the back with the shot exiting his left shoulder, on his outer thigh with the bullet leaving through his inner thigh, and then with a fourth bullet that entered through his right hip and hit several vital organs before stopping in his left shoulder.

Wallace was rushed to the nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was pronounced dead less than an hour after the shooting occurred.

A number of posthumous releases by Wallace solidified his reputation as one of the top rappers, and in 2006, MTV ranked him at No. 3 in “The Greatest MCs of All Time.”

In 2009,  Fox Searchlight released “Notorious,” a biopic about Wallace’s life.

Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun tells Grammys 'U blew it'

Braun vents over Bieber's Grammys nomination shut out

<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, practically lives on Twitter, so it should come as no surprise that he took to the social medium to declare his extreme displeasure at Bieber’s shut-out in yesterday’s Grammy nominations.

Though he graciously told “all those nominated... you do deserve it,” he pled the case for Bieber’s inclusion... albeit, obviously too late.

“Grammy board u blew it on this one,” he tweeted. (Board? Really? It’s the Grammy voters who select the nominees, not the board. That’s beside the point here, though Braun should know that's how it works).  “This time there won’t be any wise words, no excuses, I just plain disagree. The kid deserved it.”

He never mentions Bieber by name, but continues, “The hardest thing to do is transition, keep the train moving. The kid delivered. Huge successful album, sold out tour, and won people over.”

And continued. “...this time he deserved to be recognized and I don’t really have any kind nice positive things to say about a decision I don’t agree with.”

As we previously reported yesterday after One Direction found itself in a similar boat, The Grammys have never really figured out how to deal with teen idols.

At least, unlike 1D, Bieber did get a best new artist nomination last year.

Braun does go on to end on a positive note by praising Carly Rae Jepsen, who records for his label and who received two nominations, but he can’t quite let it go with her either, noting “thought u deserved a best new artist nom.”  We totally agree on that one.

Oddly, he does not mention his other clients, The Wanted, who were, like Bieber, shut out.

By the end of his myriad tweets, he was already looking on the bright side and vowing to use the perceived adversity to his advantage, quoting, of all folks, David Brinkley: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.

Did the Grammys get it right with this year's nominations?

Substance won out over style

<p>Multiple nominee Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.</p>

Multiple nominee Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Did the Grammys get it right this year? The nominations for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were announced tonight and, as is the annual sport, the dissecting has begun.

By and large, the answer is yes, they did get it right.  There are always critics who  want the Grammys to be edgier and to take more risks, but when the lead nominees include exciting developing talents like fun., Frank Ocean, and Miguel, roots-loving rockers The Black Keys and Mumford & Sons, and hip-hop leading lights Kanye West and Jay Z, it’s hard to mount much of a protest.

A few observations:

*The Grammy voters are loving acts that embrace acoustic traditions and a folksy sensibility. Whether represented by Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers’ nods for best new artist or the Black Keys and Mumford & Sons’ multiple nominations, they fulfill the Grammy’s need for authenticity and a respect for the music that came before it. 

*For the first time in several years, there is little overlap between the nominees for record of the year and song of the year:  In some years the lists have been largely identical, but this year only fun.’s “We Are Young”  and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” is on both. We’re not sure the voters really understand the difference since Carly Rae Jepsen’s should clearly be up for record of the year instead of song of the year. 

*Women were locked out of the album of the year categories in a year when there were several strong contenders, including Florence & The Machine’s “Ceremonials,” past Grammy fave Norah Jones’ “Little Broken Hearts,” and Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel....” (see more in our Winners and Losers photo gallery).

*Fun. and Frank Ocean are the new standard bearers. Fun represents just the sort of pop that the Grammy voters love: it’s wildly commercial, but it’s also smart, fun, well crafted and well presented, and it appeals to alternative fans as much as popsters. Frank Ocean is a voice that demands to be heard. “Channel Orange”  is filled with songs that are achingly vulnerable.

*The Grammy voters went for perceived substance over flash: How else do you explain the exclusion of Carly Rae Jepsen and One Direction from the best new artist category?

*In what world does Beyonce’s “Love On Top” count as a best traditional R&B performance instead of best R&B performance? Such a move once again shows how labels are eager to shoe horn an artist into a category where he/she stands the best chance of winning, not the category that necessarily best represents the work.  On the same note, it may be time to wave goodbye to the best traditional pop vocal album when two of the three (!!) nominations are for Christmas albums. Maybe Beyonce can squeeze in there somehow...

*Once again, the Grammy voters embrace a much broader range of country artists than the CMA or ACM voters ever would.  Grammy voters love to take non-commercial acts like the Time Jumpers or great Don Williams and give them nods.  They are wildly out of step with the much more commercial leaning country awards shows, but that might not be a bad thing.

What do you think of this year’s nominations?

What's behind the One Direction snub by the Grammys?

Why was the boy band left out of the best new artist category?

<p>One Direction</p>

One Direction

Credit: AP Photo

Hear that sound? It’s the wailing of millions of tween and teenage girls, howling in righteous indignation that One Direction did not get a nod for best new artist tonight when the Grammy nominations were handed out.

To be sure, the Recording Academy’s relationship with boy bands has, to quote Katy Perry, run “hot and then cold.”  Some years, they’ve favored acts like Backstreet Boys, who were nominated for best new artist in 1999 or Boys II Men in 1992, but they ignored N’Sync and New Kids On The Block in the same category.

One Direction seemed like a sure bet... and a deserving one at that. Not only had their first album, “Up All Night” come in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making the group the first British band to ever bow at No. 1 with its debut album, the group played before tens of thousands of screaming girls every night. And they actually sound good. Though relatively sterile, their songs on catchy and well made. Not only were they locked out of best new artist, they were locked out of every pop category.

In a year when the best new artist nominees included Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers, it’s clear that the voters were looking for a grass-roots authenticity that One Direction does not have. It could also have hurt them that they were put together by Simon Cowell after the members individually auditioned on “The X Factor” in the U.K.

However, how do you explain Hunter Hayes’ nomination? Easy: He counts for the teen vote, and the country contingent coalesced behind him to push him. Plus, his win as best new artist at the Country Music Awards last month gave him a certain credibility among voters.

My vote would have gone to One Direction over Hayes, despite my fondness for his hit, “Wanted.”  Is nominating them any different than nominating Justin Bieber last year?

Though it’s very small consolation (and just more salt on the wound) to One Direction fans, had their beloved British boys gotten a nomination, there was no way they would have won. Despite nominations for the above mentioned—plus Hanson and Jonas Bros. in years past—for the last 20 years, the Grammys have largely awarded best new artist to an act that has a much wider and more respected  (sorry) base than teen girls, instead handing the award to artists with a little more perceived gravitas, such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Zac Brown Band, Esperanza Spalding and Bon Iver. In fact, the Beatles were the closest thing to a boy band to win a best new artist Grammy. And that was in 1965. Whether the Grammys are still trying to make sure the Milli Vanilli fiasco never happens again or they just feel that boy bands aren't worthy, the result is the same.

So wipe your eyes, my One Direction fans. While we’re sure you’re wearing out your thumbs tweeting about the horrible miscarriage of justice done to 1D, just know they are in very good company and they will need your love all the more to see them through the dark days ahead.

Live Blogging the Grammy Nominations Concert Live

Performances from Maroon 5, The Who, and a few nominations

<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

9:55 p.m.: The Grammy Nominations Concert Live starts in a few minutes. Instead of announcing the nominations for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards at the crack of dawn, like any good awards show, the Grammys decided a few years ago to make the announcement into a special event...sort of a mini-Grammys with performances and big acts reeling off the names of a the nominees in a few select categories.

10:03: It can only go up from here. The show opens with the most cliched of cliches: that a black person can't possibly be up on country music and know what a honky tonk is. That follows with Taylor Swift, or T-Swizzle, turning into a beat box while LL Cool J horribly sings a few lines of "Mean." It's going to be a long hour.

10:05: The Grammys have to go back a few decades to find a real legend: we switch to footage of Johnny Cash who is then honored by Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry, who duet on "Jackson." Better that than "Ring of Fire," but sometimes an homage just feels like a pale imitation.

10:08:  Country cutie Hunter Hayes performs a medley of the songs from the albums up for Pop Vocal Album (though no one actually announces the category). Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger,"  Florence & the Machine's "Ceremonials," fun.'s "Some Nights," Maroon 5's "Overexposed," and Pink's "The Truth About Love" are the nominees for Pop Vocal Album. Their joy at being nominated we're sure mitigates the fact that Hayes completely butchered most of the songs.

10:15: Maroon 5 is performing a medley of all their hits they've had in the past year, which is considerable, especially given that the band was on the verge of extinction until Adam Levine's stint on "The Voice" revived the band: "One More Night," "Moves Like Jagger" (no Xtina) and "Daylight." No "Payphone."

10:21: "Lonely Boy," The Black Keys; "Stronger," Kelly Clarkson," "We Are Young," fun., "Somebody That I Used To Know," Gotye, "Thinking About You," Frank Ocean," and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift are the nominees for record of the year. In my predictions, I thought that "We Are Young" and "Somebody" weren't eligible because they started being worked to radio prior to the Sept. 30 eligibility period, but that's clearly not the case. That changes everything...

10: 23: I'm not sure why we have footage of the Who playing from their Nashville show earlier in the week as an outro, but we do. Maybe because it was their first concert in Nashville? Hard to believe, but true!

10:28: Luke Bryan performs "I Don't Want This Night To End."  Perhaps in deference to the occasion, he's not sporting his usual baseball cap. I have a friend who counts the number of times that Bryan switches his cap from forwards to backwards on concert. I think it's about 2,439 times usually. It's a smoke-plume, confetti-dropping energetic performance that they should have saved to close the show. He sounds a little flat, but it's a good overall performance from a country performer who it's been fun to watch get better and better.

10:31 Little Big Town is singing "Yesterday" in tribute to the Beatles who won best new artist. Why not "Afternoon Delight" for Starland Vocal Band?  The nominees are Alabama Shakes, fun., Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers and Frank Ocean. That sound you hear? Ten million One Direction fans rushing to Twitter to denounce the horror of it all!

10:39: Fun, who already has three nominations tonight, is performing "We Are Young," or as I like to call it, the Record of The Year. It will win and they will win best new artist. It's a beautifully produced record and the performance tonight  with Janelle Monae will garner them votes...even though it's a little rough around the edges. Plus, just listen to Nate Ruess sing...

10:51: Ne-Yo brings down the house with "Let Me Love You (Until You Can Love Yourself)." Love him. Nominations for best country solo performance: "Home," Dierks Bentley;  "Springsteen,"  Eric Church; "Cost of Livin'," Ronnie Dunn, "Wanted," Hunter Hays, Blake Shelton, "Over," and Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away." What? 

10:55: Album of the year nominees: "El Camino,""Black Keys, "Some Nights," fun., "Babel," Mumford & Sons, "Channel Orange," Frank Ocean, and "Blunderbuss," Jack White.

10:58: Maroon 5 close out the evening with "Payphone." Off to look at the full list of nominations. Keep tuning in to Hitfix throughout the night as we dive deep into the nominations and who, besides One Direction, was snubbed, and who, like Fun. and Frank Ocean, are already big winners.

 

Rihanna shines atop the Billboard Hot 100 for another week

Will.I.Am and Britney Spears make a big splash

<p>Rihanna</p>

Rihanna

Credit: AP Photo

Rihanna continues to shine brightly atop the Billboard Hot 100 as “Diamonds’ mines a third week at No. 1.

“Diamonds” hold in the pole position is strengthened by the song’s rise to No. 1 on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart. The song spends its ninth week atop Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, according to Billboard.

“Diamonds” locks Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” out of the top spot as the soulful singer’s new single leaps 4-2. “Locked” pushes Ke$ha’s “Die Young” out of the secondary slot, down one to No. 3.  In turn, “Die Young” displaces Maroon 5’s former chart topper, “One More Night,” down from No. 3 to No. 4.

The Lumineers score their first top 5 as “Ho Hey” climbs 7-5.

The bottom half of the Top 10 finds fun.s’ “Some People” hanging at No. 6, while Phillip Phillips’ “Home” rises 8-7.  Flo Rida’s “I Cry” also rises one spot to No. 8. Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)” inches 10-9 and Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” forever locked out of the No. 1 spot at seven weeks at No. 2, likely sees its last week in the Top 10 as it falls 5-10.

Two big moves just outside of the Billboard Hot 100: Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” leaps 21-11 as the album of the same name bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.  Also, “Scream & Shout” from Will.I.Am featuring Britney Spears bows at No. 12, bolstered largely by digital sales.



 

A few thoughts on Jack White's non-apology to Lady Gaga

When in doubt, compliment someone's charity work

<p>Lady Gaga vs. Jack White</p>

Lady Gaga vs. Jack White

Credit: AP Photo

When is an apology not an apology? When it comes from Jack White. As you may have seen earlier today, the former White Stripes front man seemingly went after Lady Gaga in a story in the UK edition of Esquire. In a excerpt from the piece, he said of Momma Monster: “I don’t think she lives it because it’s all artifice...It’s all image with no meaning behind it. You can’t sink your teeth into it. It’s a sound bite. It’s very of this age because that’s what people want.”

Shortly thereafter, he walked back a little and clarified his comments via a statement, but in our mind, he only made it worse.

He doesn’t go after Esquire; he goes after the NME, whom he says took his comments out of context in a blogpost on their site. The quote we posted above is taking directly from Esquire’s site.  Regardless, he stresses that, even to Esquire, he “never said anything about her music or questioned the authenticity of her songs in any way. I was in a conversation about the drawbacks of image for the sake of image....I don’t like my comment about Lady Gaga’s presentation being changed into some sort of negative critique of her music.”

So then here in his statement, when he had a chance to say something about Lady Gaga’s music, he did not. Instead, he said, “Peace to Lady Gaga and I fully congratulate and compliment her on her championing of gay rights issues and the momentum it’s given to help create change.”

That’s nice, but it’s a little like if someone asks you, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and you answer “I love that purse!  Where did you get it?” It’s as if he really wanted to say something nice about Lady Gaga and her, admittedly swell, championing of gay rights was it.  Maybe he also would like to comment on what a nice bouquet her perfume has?

While we’re at it, no, White doesn’t dress up in a meat suit, but he’s worked plenty hard to cultivate his own image of a hat-wearing, pale-faced rocker who likes to see himself as an acolyte of blues and rock greats of yore. And that’s fine. Everyone has an image. For as much as Lady Gaga’s fame is based on style, it’s also based on a very real substance that makes her fans feel tremendously connected to her. Whether that’s because of her music or because of a tweet, that doesn’t seem like artifice to me.

Though he had no comment on her music for Esquire or in his new statement, a few years ago he said he channeled her when writing the music for The Dead Weather’s track, “The Difference Between Us.”  He said, according to AceShowbiz, “I was thinking of the type of song a contemporary musician would write so I started thinking about [Lady Gaga]. I starting thinking of how she would write the music to this song and got quite into being Lady Gaga in an odd way.”

So even if he’s not a fan, it looks like she’s seeped into his pores, nonetheless. Just as she has with the rest of us. No reply yet about all this from Lady Gaga, who, according to her Twitter page, is too busy working with the United Nations on her compassion campaign to worry about this kind of stuff.

Lest we take any of this too seriously, White certainly lets us know that he isn't above poking plenty of fun at his own musical detractors. On the landing page of his website are two comments from critics that are hilariously negative, including "His songs are often little more than de-fanged blues, lacking the passion and grizzled realness that makes the genre speak to so many people." 

Maybe we all just need to lighten up.

 




 

Watch: The Band Perry plays dress-up in video for 'Better Dig Two'

Someone takes her wedding vows very seriously

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Watch: The Band Perry plays dress-up in video for 'Better Dig Two'

Don’t mess with Kimberly Perry. As the video shows for “Better Dig Two,” The Band Perry’s new murder ballad, she takes “til death do us part” literally. The clip debuted on CMT.com today.

[More after the jump...]

Watch the new trailer for Dave Grohl's 'Sound City' documentary

Film chronicles legendary California studio's rise and fall

<p>Trent Reznor in the trailer for &quot;Sound City&quot;</p>

Trent Reznor in the trailer for "Sound City"

If this trailer for “Sound City” doesn’t simultaneously make your pulse race and make you tear up a little, then you might want to go ahead and crawl back into bed and contemplate if your heart is three sizes too small.

As previously reported, the Dave Grohl-directed documentary, which will have its grand coming out party at Sundance in January, lovingly details the Van Nuys, Calif’s studios rise—it’s where Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was recorded along with several other classics— as well as its fall when it failed to keep up with the digital times.

[More after the jump...]

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