<p>Paramore</p>

Paramore

Credit: Amy Sussman/AP

Can Paramore kick Justin Timberlake out of the Billboard 200's top spot?

Debuts dominate the Top 10: Eric Church, Brad Paisley come on strong

A revamped Paramore’s self-titled fourth set should top the Billboard 200 next week, followed by at least six other debuts. The Nashville-based rockers will sell up to 115,000 copies.

Brad Paisley’s “Wheelhouse,” fueled by the controversy over his track “Accidental Racist” with LL Cool J, is in a dead heat with Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” for No. 2, according to Hits Daily Double, although Timberlake, who has been at No. 1 for the past 3 weeks, may fall to No. 3.

The Band Perry’s “Pioneer,” which debuted at No. 2 this week, will likely slide to No. 4, although “Pioneer” and Blake Shelton’s “Based On A True Story...” are both poised to sell between 60,000-65,000 copies, so it’s too close to call on who will come in at No. 4 and who will settle for No. 5.

Other than Lil Wayne’s  “I Am Not  A Human Being II,” which likely falls from No. 5 to No. 8, the rest of the titles in the Top 10 belong to newcomers: Eric Church’s  “Live: Caught In The Act” will come in at No. 6, with sales of up to 60,000, while rapper Tyga’s “Hotel California” looks good for No. 7. Stone Sour’s  “House of Gold & Bones, Part 2” and heavy metal outfit Device’s self-titled set, both debuts, are too close to call for No. 9, with both slated to sell between 35,000-40,000.

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Justin Bieber goes 'All Around The World' on new video, literally: Watch

Justin Bieber goes 'All Around The World' on new video, literally: Watch

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Span the globe with Bieber, his fans and Ludacris

Justin Bieber brings his “Believe” tour to you with his new video for “All Around The World.”

The song focuses on the universal desire to be loved, while the video takes the “all around the world” part literally. We see Bieber on stage across the planet, interspersed with shots of instantly recognizable landmarks in places like  Sydney, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro.

[More after the jump...]

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Can Psy's new song 'Gentleman' top 'Gangnam Style?' Listen

Can Psy's new song 'Gentleman' top 'Gangnam Style?' Listen

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New track drops in 119 countries today, preoccupies South Koreans

Hey sexy lady, can lightening strike twice for Psy? Or will the South Korean performer’s lasting legacy in the U.S.  be the ridiculously popular “Gangnam Style?”

“Gentleman,” which was officially released today, features a similar galloping electronic track that made  “Gangnam Style” such a hit, although it's not quite as catchy, and I really, really don’t need to hear a bespectacled, be-suited Psy saying in fractured English, “I’m gonna make you sweat, I’m gonna make you wet.” Whoa there, Nelly...

[More after the jump...]

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Taylor Swift's new Diet Coke ad: Watch

Taylor Swift's new Diet Coke ad: Watch

You're never too old to feel 22

Beyonce has Pepsi, Taylor Swift has Diet Coke. Swift’s new commercial for Diet Coke premieres tonight on “American Idol.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: AP Photo

Kelly Clarkson decks the halls with new Christmas album

What's that about a 'From Justin to Kelly' sequel?

Kelly Clarkson will be rocking around the Christmas tree this holiday season.

Clarkson told CMT Radio Live with Cody Allan that she is cutting the Christmas set.  “I’ve been dying to make a Christmas record for more than a decade and I’m finally making one,” she says. She adds it will probably be her favorite record that she makes because she loves Christmas. No word on a release date yet.

In addition to producer Greg Kurstin, Clarkson will work with Brooks & Dunn’s Ronnie Dunn on the seasonal record, according to Idolator.  The album follows her current greatest hits set.

Clarkson also revealed that she didn’t want to do the “From Justin to Kelly” movie, but was “legally obligated....I think Jimmy Fallon and I should do” a sequel. Oh, from your lips to God’s ears...

Clarkson will hit the road with Maroon 5 on the Honda Civic Tour, which starts Aug. 1 at St. Louis’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

If you need your daily dose of Clarkson, she will appear on tonight's "American Idol," the show where, as you know, it all began for the Season One winner in 2002.

And, in case you were wondering, she also plans to have yellow roses at her wedding. “I’ll be drunk at the end,” she also added.



 

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Watch: Justin Timberlake sings for President Barack Obama

Watch: Justin Timberlake sings for President Barack Obama

Alabama Shakes, Ben Harper and others also take part in PBS's Memphis salute

Is there anything Justin Timberlake can’t do? His album, “The 20/20 Experience,” tops the charts for the a third time this week, he’s on a stadium tour this summer with buddy Jay-Z, he generally seems to knock them dead wherever he goes.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Demi Lovato's new video for 'Heart Attack'

Watch: Demi Lovato's new video for 'Heart Attack'

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Things take a very dark turn, literally...

In the new video for  “Heart Attack,” Demi Lovato’s current single, there are two Lovatos duking it out. There’s the mankiller Lovato, a full-on rocker Lovato with her kohl-lined eyes, wind-machine blown hair, and the vulnerable Lovato, with minimal make-up, face freshly scrubbed with her hair pulled back,trading verses.

They’re meant to provide a contrast between the Lovato who can love ‘em and leave ‘em when she doesn’t really care about the dude vs. the Lovato who thinks she’ll have the titular “heart attack” if she really has to show what the feels.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: AP Photo

Bruno Mars takes 'When I Was Your Man' to the top of the Billboard Hot 100

Find out what he is only the second artist to achieve

Bruno Mars finds himself in elite company as he lands his fifth No. 1 tune on the Billboard Hot 100 with “When I Was Your Man.”

He ties with fellow solo male artists  Diddy, Ludacris, Prince and Lionel Richie for taking a quintet of tunes to the top. The only solo males act who have gone to No. 1 more are Elvis Presley, Phil Collins, George Michael, Usher, Paul McCartney Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson, who tops them all with 13 trips to the top, according to Billboard.

Additionally, his tune, which features only his vocals and  a piano, marks only the second time an artist has hit No. 1 with such a spare track: Adele’s “Someone Like You” was the first in 2011.

“When I Was Your Man” knocks “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz out of the top spot down to No. 2. It looks unlikely that the hit will return once again following six non-consecutive weeks at the top as it falls in streaming, sales, and airplay.

Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason,” featuring fun.’s Nate Ruess continues its march to No. 1, as it climbs 5-3. Similarly, Rihanna’s “ Stay,” featuring Mikky Ekko moves up two spaces, 6-4.

Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” featuring Jay-Z falls two spots to No. 5, as Timberlake’s album, “The 20/20 Experience,” spends its third week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Former chart topper “Harlem Shake,” from Baauer drops 4-6, while Macklemore & Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” follow-up, “Can’t Hold Us,” featuring Ray Dalton, leaps eight spots to enter the top 10 at No. 7.

Country duo Florida Georgia Line sees its hit “Cruise” re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 8 following the pair’s win as top vocal duo at Sunday night’s ACM Awards and the release of a remix with Nelly (the song also vaults back to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart).

The top 10 rounds out with two tracks each taking one step backward: Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” slips 8-9 and Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” slides 9-10.

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In defense of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's 'Accidental Racist'
Credit: Invision/AP

In defense of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's 'Accidental Racist'

What Paisley told me about the song

Do intentions matter? As controversy swirls around Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s “Accidental Racist,” a song on Paisley’s new album, “Wheelhouse,” out today, the criticism is coming fast and furious.

To be sure, from a musical standpoint, the song is reductive and somewhat naive...and that’s just Paisley’s part. Don’t get me started on LL Cool J’s rap, which I will delve into more later. But if you can get past the awkwardness and clunkiness, the song raises some interesting issues that we like to pretend don’t exist, but still do.

I spent some time with Paisley recently for a cover story for the current issue of Country Weekly magazine.  We talked at considerable length about “Accidental Racist.” He said he didn’t write the song to be “provocative,” but that he also didn’t want to pull any punches. He’d been accused of being racist once when he’d worn a music act's t-shirt with a Confederate flag on it, and that had served as a wake-up call for him.

In our conversation, it was clear he had spent a great deal of time thinking about race relations in the south and studying the Civil War. This wasn’t a song he wrote casually or without great care. He wanted the song to make people think and to continue a dialogue that he felt had been reopened by movies like “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained.”

As a fellow southerner (Paisley is from West Virginia, but now lives in Nashville and I was born and raised in North Carolina), there are parts of his lyrics that resonate with me. When I lived in Chicago and New York, I often met people who assumed I was prejudiced simply because I had a southern accent or who made other presumptions about me because I was from south of the Mason-Dixon.  While I find some of Paisley’s lyrics overly simplistic, I can relate to some of what he brings up. I am so proud to be Southern, but the slavery issue will never be something that I can ignore as part of the South’s tragic past (even though neither one of my parents were Southern). It’s one of the most glaring examples of being on the wrong side of history that anyone can imagine. Paisley isn’t trying to excuse it or rationalize it away in any way, shape or form in “Accidental Racist.” He's trying to understand why it haunts us so much 150 years later and how we can move on.

On the other hand, LL Cool J’s rap just feels dunderheaded and it sinks the song. There are a few good points: when he brings up feeling a distrust of someone in a white cowboy hat, I can understand that, but the part I can’t wrap my head around is LL Cool J’s equating any of the prejudices that blacks may have against whites as in any way even remotely comparable to slavery. When I first heard,  “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget my iron chains,” my jaw may have literally dropped to the floor. Almost as bad is “If you don’t judge my doo-rag, I won’t judge your red flag” and “The past is the past, do you, feel me?” I understand the intention is to move ahead and try to focus on common ground rather than focus past differences, but his part just doesn’t work.


Paisley wrote his words and LL Cool J wrote his own, but since it’s Paisley’s record, the buck ultimately has to stop with him and I find myself wishing he’d challenged LL Cool J a little bit more to think about what he was saying there. By no means is Paisley’s part perfect, but I wonder if there would be such an outcry if the song only featured Paisley’s honest, earnest questioning about how to reconcile his heritage.

In the broader arc of Paisley’s career,  there’s a point that not a lot of the pundits who are piling on him right now have brought up. If you’ve followed Paisley over the past dozen years, you know his heart is pure, when it comes to these kinds of questions.  To be sure, he’s not clinging to his shotgun, declaring that “A Country Boy Can Survive” like Hank Williams Jr. He’s a  post-modern southerner, proud of where he’s from, but very well aware of its unforgivably flawed past.

He’s shown us so many different sides. There’s the comedic Paisley who pokes fun of the internet on “Online” or rednecks with “Camouflage.” There’s the guitar wiz Paisley, who is awe inspiring with his combination of dexterity, speed, and clarity. Then there’s the Paisley that interests me the most: the Paisley that wants to make us, and all country fans, think and stretch our minds a little bit. Sometimes it’s done subtly and other times, more obviously.

On 2009’s  “American Saturday Night,” verse after verse details what we consider a typical evening out in the United States without ever thinking about how much of our culture came from other places. It’s a reminder that we are a melting pot and that we, as a nation, drew the best from the immigrants who came here and made them our own. Find me one other country song that makes that point, as subtle as it may be.

Paisley wrote 2009’s  “Welcome To the Future,” another song that explicitly mentions race, after Obama’s election. The song, one of his best, mentions a black friend who had a cross burned on his yard after asking out the (presumably white) homecoming queen, as well as references Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and how progress comes and we should all embrace it.  Paisley played the songs at Obama’s Inaugural Ball in January.

Even on his most recent No. 1, “Wheelhouse’s” “Southern Comfort Zone,” he talks about the wonders of travel and how it opens up one’s world. This is not your typical country artist who is content to sit on the front porch.

He’d probably blanch at my use of this word, but in my mind, Paisley is one of the few artists who consistently gets mainstream country radio play, who has a progressive streak.

For his part, Paisley took to Twitter last night and today to respond to the criticism: “...I hope the album rocks you,soothes you,raises questions,answers,evokes feelings, all the way through until  [closing track] 'Officially Alive'” and added, I imagine about the controversy, “'Cause I wouldn't change a thing. This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya'll. love- brad.” Today, he added “This is what I love about albums. Especially country albums. So many different topics can be explored.So So many conversations can start here..”

That’s my hope too. It’s fine, and quite frankly, very understandable not to like the song simply because, as one website claimed, it’s horrible. But to dismiss it out of hand seems to squander an opportunity to continue the conversation that is very real and that needs to be ongoing.

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Avril Lavigne's new song: 'Here's To Never Growing Up': Review

Avril Lavigne's new song: 'Here's To Never Growing Up': Review

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Watch the fan-made lyric video

Avril Lavigne’s new single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up” may reference Radiohead in its first line, but the act it most recalls is Ke$ha. The sing-songy track, built around a big, kick-drum stomp, sounds like a cross between the “Tik-Tok” singer and the arena hands-in-the-air, acoustic-guitar-strumming, simple-minded tunes crafted by Nickelback’s leader, Chad Kroeger, who just happens to be a co-writer on the song and Lavigne’s fiance. Throw in a little dose of "Girlfriend's" attitude and call it a day.

With lines like “we’ll be running down the street yelling  kiss my HEY/We’ll be like, 'yeah, whatever,' we’re still living like that,” the song is an aptly-titled salute to staying forever young (so much so that one cover of the single features Lavigne holding a teddy bear).

Lavigne has always had an annoyingly mannered delivery, but it reaches new heights on “Growing Up,”  “boom” sounds like “bim,” and when she sings, “This is who we are,” you’ll swear you fell into a vat of  Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R.”

[More after the jump...]

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