Watch: The-Dream's 'Slow It Down' video makes a major case for slow songs

Watch: The-Dream's 'Slow It Down' video makes a major case for slow songs

New music clip ends in a cliffhanger

The-Dream’s “Slow It Down” offers up the absolutely most ludicrous Winnie The Pooh reference we’ve ever heard in a song (courtesy of guest Fabolous), but that’s just one of the questions we have with the new clip.

[More after the jump...]

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' 'Thrift Shop' tops the Billboard Hot 100... again

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' 'Thrift Shop' tops the Billboard Hot 100... again

Imagine Dragons and Ariana Grande also celebrate a great week

Thrift Shop” continues its run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis track, featuring Wanz, spends its sixth week at the top. Also making news in the top 10 are Imagine Dragons and Nickelodeon’s Ariana Grande.

“Thrift Shop” reclaimed the top spot last week after being pushed out of the pole position by Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” which drops 2-4 this week.

“Shake” switches places with Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” which rises 4-2. Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” featuring Jay-Z holds at No. 3. Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason” featuring fun’s Nate Ruess climbs 6-5, swapping places with Rihanna’s “Stay,” featuring Mikky Ekko, according to Billboard.

Imagine Dragons' alternative hit “Radioactive” finally becomes a pop hit as the song leaps 15-7, giving the rock group its first Top 10.  Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” slides 7-8, pushing Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment,” featuring Christina Aguilera down one to No. 9.

Grande, whose “The Way,” featuring Mac Miller, leapt  to the top of the iTunes singles chart last week, makes a similarly grand entrance onto the Billboard Hot 100, bowing at No. 10. That gives the “Victorious” actress the first Top 10 entrance for a female lead artist in five years. The last one was Yael Naim’s “New Soul” in February 2008. 


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Beyonce and Andre 3000 to record 'Back to Black' for 'The Great Gatsby'

Pair will remake the Amy Winehouse tune for Jay-Z-produced soundtrack

The Great Gatsby” is turning into a family affair. Jay-Z, who is producing the soundtrack to the film, has recruited his wife, Beyonce, to record a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” for the film.

Beyonce will collaborate with Outkast’s Andre 3000 on the remake, according to E! News Daily.  The pair previously worked together on Beyonce tune, “Party.”

The Baz-Luhrmann-directed “The Great Gatsby” stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mullligan. It will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15.

The soundtrack to “The Great Gatsby” will come out on Interscope. Jay-Z is also scoring the film, as we previously reported.

And because the mogul is clearly not busy enough, Jay-Z has now launched Roc Nation Sports with Creative Artists Agency. Their first client is New York Yankee Robinson Cano.


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Watch: Drake takes a tour of his hometown in '5 AM in Toronto' video

Watch: Drake takes a tour of his hometown in '5 AM in Toronto' video

Go where the tourists don't go

Drake pays homage to his hometown with his new clip for “5AM in Toronto."  As he tweeted this morning about the video:  “Doing it for the city this time around. Well, every time, but this time especially.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Stevie Nicks performs with Dave Grohl's Sound City Players at the 2013 SXSW&nbsp;Music Festival in Austin, Texas.</p>

Stevie Nicks performs with Dave Grohl's Sound City Players at the 2013 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Credit: AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner

Stevie Nicks on her 'In Your Dreams' doc, new 'Twilight'-inspired song, and Dave Grohl

Why she and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham are getting along better than ever

When Dave Stewart first suggested to Stevie Nicks that he film the making of her 2011 solo album, “In Your Dreams,” which he co-produced, her blunt reaction was “I think you’re nuts.”

However, the Eurythmics co-founder convinced Nicks by simply reassuring her “If you don’t like it, we don’t use it.” And in the end, she not only liked it, but she saw the documentary as a way to extend the shelf life of the critically-acclaimed album, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, but did not have the high-profile run Nicks hoped it would and fell off the charts after 16 weeks.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Garth Brooks and George Strait in 2009</p>

Garth Brooks and George Strait in 2009

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

ACM producers spill secrets about the April 7 country awards show

What will Taylor Swift perform? Blake Shelton? Brad Paisley?

Artist pairings will dominate the 48th annual  Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air April 7 on CBS live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, according to executive producer R.A. Clark, ACM CEO Bob Romeo, and CBS exec Jack Sussman, who held a conference call with reporters today.

Among the artist mash-ups to look for and other highlights:

*The show will kick off with Blake Shelton’s upbeat “Boys ‘Round Here.” "The Voice" mentor will be joined by his ACM co-host Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow and Lambert’s two partners in Pistol Annies.

*Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift will perform McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care”

*Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes, and Dierks Bentley will play Paisley’s humorous “Outstanding in Our Field.”

*Stevie Wonder will join Hunter Hayes on one of the legendary R&B artist’s No. 1 hits.

*The producers also spilled the beans on Garth Brooks and George Strait’s first-time ever performance together: Each will perform one of his own hits and then will join together to perform one of the superstars’ hits together. While the producers wouldn’t give specifics, don’t be surprised if the joint song is “Unwound,” Strait’s 1981 hit that a then-teenage Brooks has always credited with making him decide to sing country music. Additionally, per Brooks’ suggestion, the ACM Entertainer of the Decade award, which both Brooks and Strait have won, will be retitled the Dick Clark Entertainer of the Decade Award. The performance, which is billed as a tribute to Dick Clark, will be introduced by Reba McEntire, former ACM host and another Entertainer of the Decade winner.

*Kelly Clarkson will perform “Don’t Rush,” but it’s still to be decided if she will duet with Vince Gill, as she does on the single, or with another artist.

*The chemistry between Shelton, who co-hosted with McEntire the past few years, and his buddy Bryan should result in some colorful moments. The pair has even earned the nickname/hashtag  #bluke.  “Anything can happen,” said Romeo. “I’m so thankful we have a five-second delay.”  Sussman added, “Their personalities is what will drive the tone and tenor of the show.”

The ACMs dipped 6% in the ratings last year, but generally grabs around 13 million viewers for the ceremony.  For its 2015  50th anniversary, the show will move to Dallas’s Cowboy Stadium, but will return to Las Vegas for 2016.


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<p>The Cure</p>

The Cure

The Cure, Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, NIN top Lollapalooza 2013 headliners

Vampire Weekend, The Killers and Kendrick Lamar also on Chicago fest bill

Mumford & Sons, The Cure, The Killers, Phoenix, and Nine Inch Nails are among the acts that will play Lollapalooza 2013.

The Aug. 2-4 fest, which takes place at Chicago’s Grant Park, will also include a reunited The Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, New Order, Queens of the Stone Age, The Lumineers, Kendrick Lamar and The National.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Justin Timberlake</p>

Justin Timberlake

Credit: AP

Music Power Rankings: Justin Timberlake beats Ariana Grande for the top spot

'The Voice' makes the list, so do the Rolling Stones

1. Justin Timberlake: “The 20/20 Experience” has the highest sales week of a male solo artist in nearly 5 years. JT’s not only bringing sexyback, he’s bringing salesback.

2. Ariana Grande:
“The Way” with Mac Miller soars to No. 1 on the iTunes chart. That’s some kind of “Victorious” feat for the Nickelodeon star

3. MTV Awards: 
To commemorate the 30th anniversary, the awards show is moving to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.  It’s time to break out “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” for the promos.

4. “The Voice”:
Blake and Adam return with new friends Shakira and Usher as the talent show’s rating tower over “American Idol,” which scored its lowest rating ever on Thursday.  There’s a new sheriff in town.

5. Rolling Stones:
They are set to headline Glastonbury Festival. What? they didn’t want to wait until their 75th anniversary?

6. J Dash: His song “WOP” brings new life to his career after Miley Cyrus posts a video of her twerking her way through the tune in a unicorn outfit. Girl, you better Twerk!!

7. Marilyn Manson: The shock rocker is the new poster boy for fashion brand Saint Laurent because when we think high fashion we think the pasty-faced Manson....

8. Public Image Ltd: The Johnny Lydon -led band gets cleared to play in China, and yet China bans Kraftwerk from playing. Is Xi Jinping a closet Sex Pistols fan?

9. Michelle Shocked: Her craziness continues as she shows up to protest the cancellation of her gigs with duct tape over her mouth and a ski mask. Will someone please get her some help?

10. Rick Ross: Just because the word “rape” isn’t used, doesn’t mean it’s not unwanted sex. Shameful....


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The Essential Phil Ramone: 10 Recordings that defined the legendary producer's career

The Essential Phil Ramone: 10 Recordings that defined the legendary producer's career

From Bob Dylan to Paul Simon to Billy Joel

Phil Ramone worked with such a vast array of artists over 50 years that it’s impossible to narrow down his essential work to only 10 recordings, but we’ve given it a shot. While we left out his work with Dionne Warwick, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Lesley Gore and his Broadway productions, as well as so many projects, they are all worth exploring. Ramone, who died today at age 79, won 14 Grammys and was nominated 33 times.


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<p>Phil Ramone with Billy Joel in 2008.</p>

Phil Ramone with Billy Joel in 2008.

Credit: AP Photo

Phil Ramone: An appreciation from 'The Stranger' to being in the studio for 'Duets'

Plus, exclusive comments from Phil Ramone's colleagues

Phil Ramone, who died today at 79, had me at “The Stranger.”  I was already a burgeoning young music freak when the landmark Billy Joel album came out in 1977,  but I hadn’t really paid attention to producers and the role they played.

 “The Stranger” changed all of that.

I wanted to devour everything about that album. It’s the first album I remember really dissecting every track over and over and trying to figure out how the instruments fit together and marveling at the arrangements. I know every word, even album tracks like  the spiky “Get It Right The First Time” and the soulful “Everybody Has A Dream.”  I have Ramone’s brilliant production to credit for kicking off a lifelong love of how records came together.

Ramone, a Julliard-trained engineer turned producer, make every instrument pop, whether it was Joel’s piano on the intro to “Only The Good Die Young” or Richie Cannata’s saxophone on “Movin’ Out” or, of course, the entire epic majesty of “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.” The projection was clean and vibrant. I knew that even when I was playing it on my cheap turntable. For someone raised on top 40 gloss, “The Stranger” had a grittiness and attitude that other songs I’d listened to didn’t.

For Ramone’s obit, go here.

Flash forward almost 30 years. It’s the morning after the 2006 Grammy Awards. I’m at Capitol Studios in Hollywood watching Tony Bennett record “Rag To Riches” with Elton John for “Duets,” Bennett’s hugely successful album featuring him performing with John, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Tim McGraw and several others. Phil Ramone is the producer.

As talent editor and then West Coast Bureau Chief for Billboard, I’d met Ramone several times already and interviewed him, but this was my first time being in the studio watching him work. In all my times in the studio, I had never and have never seen anyone so calm and in control.  Bennett cuts everything live, which means if anyone goofs, it’s back to square one (of course, they picked people to be on the album who could really sing and who didn’t need to have their vocals comped). Elton showed up wearing a beautiful tailored suit instead of his usual track suit because he knew Bennett would be dressed to the nines, which he was, and he wanted to show Bennett the respect he felt he deserved.  “For Mr. Bennett, you wear a suit,” I remember him telling me.

Ramone set the professional, yet relaxed, tone. Including rehearsals, John, Bennett, and Bennett’s trio did no more than six takes before it was a wrap. (I remember the publicist told me not to be late because the session would go fast... she wasn’t kidding).

At the end, Bennett made a suggestion that he wanted to try.  I was in the control room with Ramone and it was clear from his reaction to the previous takes that Ramone knew they had it down, and that they didn’t need to do it again, but out of deference to Bennett and with a graciousness that I’ve rarely seen in the studio, he told Bennett that he thought they had nailed it, but, of course, they could try it again the way Bennett wanted to. Want to know how Ramone brought out the best in everyone? That’s how... he made the artists and musicians feel valued, special, and respected. There was no way that Ramone was going to use the take with Bennett’s suggestion. He knew that, I knew that. Hell, probably Bennett even knew that, but Ramone was delighted to give it a try because he knew that’s how he’d continue to get the best from Bennett for the rest of the session.

On his Facebook page, producer Tony Visconti brought up what a great raconteur Phil Ramone was and I found that to be my experience too. When I interviewed him, I knew to set aside at least double the amount of time that we had planned because he had such amazing stories and he was so generous sharing them.  He rambled and would go off on tangents, but I was always so happy to go down any road with him because I knew I was getting gold, whether he was talking about serving as music producer the night Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy to hoping to find the next big rock act.

Read excerpts from my 2003 interview with Ramone for Billboard.

Ramone was incredibly active right up until his death. For several months over the last year, he’d been in Los Angeles, staying with producer Gregg Field and singer Monica Mancini, while he produced new projects from Matthew Morrison,  Dionne Warwick and Latin singer Alejandro Fernandez. Longtime friends, Ramone produced Mancini’s 2010 album, “I’ve Loved These Days.”

I reached out to several colleagues of Ramone’s this morning to get their reactions. These aren’t artists who worked with Ramone, other than Monica Mancini. Instead they are people who worked in the trenches beside him or admired him because they shared the same craft.

”Phil was a better friend than producer and he was the best music producer I have ever know. Phil would stay in the "Phil Ramone Suite" in our home whenever he was in L.A.. The best memory? So many, but that would be the two of us at the end of the day having a ritual nightcap before heading to bed. And then doing it all again the next day.”  — Gregg Field, Grammy-winning producer and co-producer of Matthew Morrison’s upcoming album with Ramone

“Phil Ramone was a friend, mentor, brother, father and partner.  He was the personification of everything good that we do in music and in life.  He selflessly shared his vast experience and knowledge with anyone that asked, or for that matter, didn't ask but needed to be set straight.  He was a child prodigy, classically trained musician that spent his entire life serving the music and the people that made it. I'm having a difficult time imaging a world without him, on the other end of the phone, or the other side of the studio glass.  We are all better off that he was in the world, leaving an incredible legacy of timeless music, and incredibly worse off that he is gone.  Our hearts are broken, that's for sure. —Grammy Award-winning engineer and producer Ed Cherney

“We were on the New York NARAS board together.  He was so humble. So Interested in what I was doing that when he called me at home (we both live in Connecticut) I thought someone was pranking me. ‘It's me, Phil...’ While ‘The Stranger’ changed my life, I have often looked back and referenced many of Phil’s records. Most notably, when I first started working with Art Garfunkel, I went back and listened to ‘Breakaway.’ Along with records he produced for Paul Simon, Phoebe Snow, Rod Stewart, and many others, Phil has always been a source of inspiration. He is one of those producers I always admired ‘on and off the court.’ May he rest in peace.—Grammy-award winning producer Billy Mann

“Phil was our resident houseguest for three months, I used to make him breakfast every morning: he’d have English Breakfast tea, fruit and and English muffin. It was just a moment that we all just relished. Every morning, we’d  talk about the night before and then it started all over again, it was like ‘Dad’s coming down for breakfast!’ There are no words about what it’s like to work with him as a producer, it didn’t get better than that. Just a smile would come over his face. The reason he was there in the first place was he produced a number of the original songs I was doing, including Billy Joel and Paul Simon. He had the sensibility and passion from the day the original songs were created. He would get so many phone calls at our house. That man would be working ‘til his dying day. People were calling him on a daily basis to work with him.” —Singer Monica Mancini

Here is Billy Joel’s statement about  Ramone upon learning of his passing: 

"I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band. He was the guy that no one ever ever saw onstage. He was with me as long as any of the musicians I ever played with - longer than most. So much of my music was shaped by him and brought to fruition by him.I have lost a dear friend - and my greatest mentor. The music world lost a giant today."


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