Jordin Sparks, whose feature film debut comes Aug. 17 with “Sparkle,” is already looking ahead to her next album.
The singer, who won “American Idol” season six when she was only 17 in 2007, has seven songs already collected for the project. She tells Billboard that she is also writing for the album. “It’s going to be different from what my fans have heard before,” she says of the project. “I’m going for more of the R&B side now.”
Among the producers she has worked with are Harmony Samuels, Da Internz, and Pop Wansel & Oak. On her wish list is Harvey Mason Jr., with whom she worked on the “Sparkle” soundtrack.
Sparks' last album, “Battlefield,” came out in 2009, but she admits that fans may have to wait a little longer for the follow-up. She is now shooting a new film, “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” in New York. The film also stars fellow "AI" alum Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie; Alicia Keys is an executive producer.
I interviewed Sparks along with her “Sparkle” co-stars last week and we will be posting that video closer to the movie’s release. During our chat, Sparks talked about her lasting memories of working with Whitney Houston, who would have turned 49 today.
When will the follow-up to 'Battlefield' arrive?
Jordin Sparks, whose feature film debut comes Aug. 17 with “Sparkle,” is already looking ahead to her next album.
Musicians revisit 'Machine Head'
Metallica, The Flaming Lips, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Steve Vai and Iron Maiden are among the artists who will pay tribute to Deep Purple founding member Jon Lord on a covers album of the seminal rock group’s “Machine Head.”
Lord died last month of a pulmonary embolism. “Re-Machined: A Tribute to Machine Head” will also feature Carlos Santana, Chickenfoot, Guns N ‘Roses’ Matt Sorum and Duff MacKagan, and Steve Vai, according to NME. No word yet on when the album will be released.
Tracklisting for "Re-Machined"
Carlos Santana – 'Smoke On The Water'?
Chickenfoot – 'Highway Star'?
Glenn Hughes, Chad Smith and Luis Maldonado –'Maybe I'm A Leo'?
Black Label Society – 'Pictures Of Home'?
Kings of Chaos (Joe Elliott, Steve Stevens, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Arlan Schierbaum) – 'Never Before'
The Flaming Lips – 'Smoke On The Water'?Jimmy Barnes, Joe Bonamassa –
'Lazy'?Iron Maiden - 'Space Truckin''
Metallica – 'When A Blind Man Cries'?
Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, Chad Smith, Lachlan Doley – 'Highway Star'
Are KKK jokes ever funny?
It will be Kevin, Kim, and Kanye at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sept. 6.
Comedian Kevin Hart, who delivered a monologue on last year’s awards show will get full hosting duties this year, and if the little video MTV released on its website today is any indication, he’s courting the controversy with plenty of KKK jokes, which, quite frankly, are never funny... or, at least, these aren't.
[More after the jump...]
How much longer can 'Call Me Maybe' stay at No. 1?
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” definitely becomes the biggest hit of 2012 as the song spends its ninth week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, bypassing Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know’s” eight weeks at the summit. Now we bet Lady Gaga Is really coming after her!
Gotye can still claim some bragging rights: “Somebody,” which is No. 6 this week, passes the 6 million download mark, making it the first song this year to surpass the 6 million tally.
“Maybe,” from Jepsen’s debut album “Kiss,” out Sept. 18, is one of two tunes from the singer on the Hot 100: her duet with Owl City,” Good Time,” is at No. 14.
Jepsen, a former “Canadian Idol” contestant, is not the only former “Idol” with a big week: this year’s “American Idol” winner, Phillip Phillips, sees his coronation single, “Home” soar 84-9 following the usage of the song by NBC during the Summer Olympics.
Phillips’ tune is the only new title in the Top 10 this week: Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” rises 5-2, Flo Rida’s “Whistle” blows up one spot to No. 3, Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” falls two spots to No. 4, while Maroon 5’s “Payphone” also slips two places to No. 5.
Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been,” David Guetta’s “Titanium” featuring Sia, and Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” all stay in their same spots at last week: No. 7, No. 8 and No. 10, respectively.
What are the Bee Gees doing in the top 10 for the first time in 3 decades?
Rick Ross makes his fourth trip to the summit of the Billboard 200 as “God Forgives, I Don’t” bows at No. 1 with sales o f 218,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In this era of overall declining album sales, Ross is one of the few artists who has seen his opening week sales grow increasingly larger. As Billboard notes, Ross got a hand from Amazon, which priced the title at $5, deeply discounting it, but still pricing it above the $3.99 cut-off SoundScan requires to could as a sale.
The only other debut in the Top 10 belongs to Joss Stone with “The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2,” which sells 24,000. Check out our review here.
Zac Brown Band’s “Uncaged,” which logged two weeks at No. 1, slips to No. 2 with sales of 39,000. Justin Bieber’s “Believe” soars 6-3, while One Direction’s “Up All Night” jumps 7-4.
Amazon factors into some other albums we see on the chart in the Top 10:The Bee Gees’ “Number Ones” reenters the chart at No. 5 based on a 99 cent promotion by the retailer (SoundScan allows deeply discounted album sales to count more than six weeks after release). The title sells 32,000 copies, up a whopping 3,049% from the previous week. It also means the Bee Gees are back in the Top 10 for the first time since 1983.
On the bottom half of the Top 10, Nas’s “Life is Good” drops 2-6, “Kidz Bop 22” drops 5-7, Adele’s 21 moves up one spot to No. 8 as does Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” to No. 9.
Overall album sales were 5.24 million units, up 7% from last week, but down 8% compared with the same week in 2011. Year-to-date sales are down 3%.
Superstar reportedly has one album left on her current label deal
Are Britney Spears and her fellow “X Factor” judge L.A. Reid about to make beautiful music together?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spears’ contract with RCA will be up after one more album and among those courting the pop princess is Reid, who is head of Sony's Epic Records.
Also in the picture is Barry Weiss, who now heads Island Def Jam. Weiss is the former head of Jive (which was absorbed into RCA as part of the BMG/Sony merger), who oversaw Spears’ career from the start.
The Reporter piece says both execs are eager to sign Spears for a sum of $3 million-to-$5 million/album.
We contacted RCA, who declined to comment on the story. Weiss told THR that he would “love to be reunited with [Spears].” While Reid may have proximity on his side and the lure of making shiny new promises to an artist who may be looking for a change, Weiss has an advantage in that he’s proven to Spears what he can do. For that matter, what's to stop "X Factor" judge, creator Simon Cowell from stepping in and trying to sign her to his Sony imprint, Syco? He's certainly done just fine with One Direction and Susan Boyle.
Then again, we’re likely talking a few years from now since Spears still has to fulfill her contract with RCA first, and the landscape can change between now and when negotiations begin in earnest. These are the kinds of stories that make great copy, and get the rumor mill going, but we’ll have to wait to see how it all shakes out. What is undeniable is that Spears, through all her ups and downs, had remained a viable, worldwide album seller (if not as strong as she was in her heyday) so it’s no surprise that any label would love to see her on its roster.
We all could use a little help
Gotye’s new video for “Save Me” addresses the connections that make us human, or at least help make us feel that way.
In the animated clip, a crudely drawn creature doesn’t come to life until he fully connects with another creature. As the wide-eyed creature assembles amid a snowy backdrop, Gotye, who doesn’t appear in the clip, sings about never being good enough and the disappointments of a lonely life.
[More after the jump...]
Slate of 40 shows begins in December
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw join Garth Brooks, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Celine Dion as the latest artists with Las Vegas residencies.
The married country superstars will start a limited engagement that will span 10 weekends between Dec. 7 and the end of April 2013 at The Venetian. They will perform four shows each weekend. Tickets, which go on sale to their fan clubs Aug. 8 and to the general public Aug. 13, span from $95.50 to $295.50, including all fees.
In a press conference attended by Hitfix and held at the 1,815-seat Venetian Theater, the site of where they will perform, Hill and McGraw stressed that the Soul2Soul show will be unlike anything their fans have seen from them before and very different from the three previous editions of the Soul2Soul outings that last sold out arenas in 2006.
“The Soul2Soul tours that we’ve done have been some of the most memorable experiences for all of us and we’ve really had an amazing time together,” Hill said. “This feels like it’s one of those moments in time. We’re going to create an amazing show and have a great time and then it will be gone...We’ll certainly give the fans what they want, but this affords us the opportunity to be creative in a way that we haven’t been before.”
McGraw, who is on a stadium tour with Kenny Chesney this summer, said that the show will be more integrated than past Soul2Soul concerts for the multiple Grammy winners. “This show is all about us together,” he said. “We’re in the process of building the show now. The production will be very cutting edge...in this intimate setting, there are things we can do that you can’t do in a different show in a different place each night.”
The couple, who married in 1996, displayed an easy-going chemistry together during the announcement. Hill, dressed in a short black dress, asked reporters to tell her if she needed to sit differently to avoid revealing too much leg. “It’s not that kind of show,” she quipped. McGraw quickly replied, “There’s plenty of those in Vegas.”
Hill noted that the Venetian offered the pair a way to play the shows that didn’t disrupt their children’s school schedules. “This was an opportunity we’d never considered,” she said. “The Venetian is so gracious in working around out schedule. That’s the only way I’ll do anything with three daughters.”
Hill added that she has finished her new album for Warner Bros., her first studio album since 2005’s “Fireflies.” No release date has been set. McGraw is recording his first album for Big Machine Records after leaving Curb Records.
Fellow country star Shania Twain is also slated to start a residency in Las Vegas in December at Caesars Palace.
Singer plans webchat with fans for Aug. 13
So it looks like we’re about to get a new Taylor Swift album for the fall. Swift, whose last set, “Speak Now,” came out in October 2010, will host a live webcast on Youtube on Aug. 13.
Swift’s three albums have come out like clockwork two years apart and fans know she’s been working on new material for a studio album in between her acting gigs in “The Lorax” and writing and recording songs for “The Hunger Games.” The big question is what will the sound be like? Will it be more like the stripped down, haunted quality of “Safe & Sound,” her duet with The Civil Wars from “Games” or will the music be more pop country? Will there be a song about her rumored new boyfriend, Conor Kennedy? Regardless, that sound you hear is retailers screaming with joy that she’s back.
Think we might not be right about a fall album? Her eponymous debut came out Oct. 24, 2006, “Fearless” came out Nov. 11, 2008 and “Speak Now” came out Oct. 25, 2010... Typically, she’s released the first single two months before the album’s release, so that means a new single is coming. Plus, she’s performing at Clear Channel’s “I Heart Radio” conference in Las Vegas Sept. 21-22, so she’s going to want the new song out by then.
“Speak Now” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 1 million copies in its first week, making it only the 16th album in chart history to surpass the million make in a single week.
The Live Webcast will take place 7 p.m EDT/4 p.m. PDT. She’ll take questions from fans around the world. We’ll be blogging it live for you as well.
Catch one of the three remaining festivals
Planning a festival takes a lot of work. That’s the assessment of Mumford & Sons’ multi-instrumentalist Winston Marshall.
Like Metallica, who launched the Orion Festival in June, and Jay-Z, who is curating Made In America over Labor Day weekend, M&S debuted its own day-long, multi-artist festivals this summer.
Before its first U.S. festival took place this weekend in Portland, Maine, M&S hosted events in Huddersfield, England and in Galway, Ireland. Coming up are stopovers in Bristol, Va. (Aug. 11), Dixon, Ill. (Aug. 18), and Monterey, Calif. (Aug. 25). Among the acts playing one or more gig alongside M&S, who is headlining each date, are Dawes, Abigail Washburn, Grouplove, Gogol Bordello, Justin Townes Earle and more.
“The biggest thing we learned is that it takes a lot more than four people to put on a festival,” Marshall says, in an interview that took place before the Portland festival. He jokes that the band, which has played a number of festivals, will never take what it puts to put one on for granted. “There’s so many different departments, there’s food, how it looks, so much technical stuff. I could write a thesis on it,” Marshall says.
The group has learned to prioritize. “We had lots of ideas that we thought would be perfect and then you get to the point where you [realize how] expensive it is,” he says. “You have a dream, then clever people watching the costs come down with reality. You have to compromise.”
M&S decided to start the festivals because their experiences had been so enjoyable in playing a number of similar events. “These are small enough that it feels like there’s a community,” Marshall says. “We love playing massive festivals in America... Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella...they’re amazing, but our favorite festivals have been smaller, where you can building up a relationship.”
The idea expanded to selecting cities where the band could keep it all local, from the beer poured to the food served.
When it came to selecting the talent for the four U.S. stopovers, M&S picked many acts that they had already played with at other festivals. “Then there are a couple of them that we haven’t played with but we’re massive fans of,” Marshall says. “I’m a massive Jeff the Brotherhood fan. I’ve met, but not played with, St. Vincent. And Haim, [M&S’s] Ben [Lovett] fucking loves them.”
The group wanted the line-up to feature acts who were “like-minded, not necessarily like-sounding,” Marshall says. “Jeff the Brotherhood sounds pretty different from Abigail Washburn. They’re a completely different kettle of fish.”
The idea, Marshall says, is to foster such a sense of bonhomie backstage that it spills over onstage. “If all the bands are having a good time, if everyone’s hamming backstage, everyone’s going to be excited about being there.”
Ideally, Marshall says M&S would like to expand to more cities, but that’s on the backburner. “This has been such a massive project, we can’t think into the future,” he says.
According to Rolling Stone, the Portland festival went off without a hitch and was “Portland’s biggest musical event in years,” drawing a sold-out crowd of 15,000. The group spent the weekend in the area, even going out on a boat with local fishermen. During their festival-closing set, M&S played “Lover’s Eyes,” “I Will Wait,” and “Lover of the Light,” as well as a number of other songs from its next album, “Babel,” which comes out Sept. 25.