Listen: Justin Timberlake dresses up for new song, 'Suit & Tie,' with Jay-Z
Credit: RCA Records

Listen: Justin Timberlake dresses up for new song, 'Suit & Tie,' with Jay-Z

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First single from new album, "The 20/20 Experience"

In his seven years away, it’s clear that Justin Timberlake has studied his masters.

His new single, “Suit And Tie,” is a throwback to old-school R&B. Leave it to Timberlake to represent R&B in a way that few contemporary artists are today (notable exceptions include Bruno Mars and Miguel). As ZZ Top noted, every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man.

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<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

Credit: AP Photo

Adam Lambert and 19 Recordings part ways

Singer remains signed to RCA Records

Adam Lambert and 19 Recordings  have “amicably” split.

The “American Idol” runner-up remains signed to RCA, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  To explain a little further, the recording division of 19 Entertainment has dibs on signing any of the “American Idol” finalists and then places them with a label. For the first nine seasons, 19 Recordings when through BMG labels --and Sony after the Sony BMG merger-- and then switched to Universal Music Group two seasons ago. For example, Carrie Underwood is signed to 19/Arista, Kelly Clarkson to 19/RCA, Scotty McCreery to 19/Mercury. The deal allows 19 to have a say in the creative direction of the artist's music, while continuing to profit from sales.

Lambert split from 19 Management  in August 2011 and is handled by Direct Management Group by the same team who manages Katy Perry. 19 Management manages such former "AI" contestants as Casey Abrams, Philip Phillips and Haley Reinhart.

No reason was given for the break-up by either side, though a representative for Lambert told THR, as one does in this situation, that the two parties split “amicably and with the utmost respect for each other.”

While signed to 19/RCA, Lambert has released two studio albums and several live projects. His second studio album, “Trespassing,” while critically acclaimed, did not do well at radio and spawned no major hits, even after debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

It looks like Lambert will stay on RCA direct for his third studio album. THR says conversations about the set have already begun.

Lambert, who has gone on Twitter spiels lately about “Les Miserables” and bullying, has been silent about the label changes.

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<p>The cover of Chris Tomlin's &quot;Burning Lights&quot;</p>

The cover of Chris Tomlin's "Burning Lights"

Big changes at the top of the Billboard 200 with Chris Tomlin in the lead

What happens to Taylor Swift and 'Les Mis?'

The holidays are officially over. If you had any doubt, just look at the numbers projected for next week’s Top 10 on the Billboard 200. Gone are sales numbers in the six figures. Back are lesser-act acts who waited until January to drop new titles rather than compete with superstars.

Christian Contemporary artist Chris Tomlin’s “Burning Lights” looks good for  a No. 1 debut, with sales of up to 75,000. Close behind him are “Notes from the Underground” from Hollywood Undead at No. 2 and “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones” from Black Veil Brides” at No. 3.

After the trio of debuts, we get back to some returning names. This week’s No. 1, the soundtrack to “Les Miserables,” likely drops to No. 4, although it and Taylor Swift’s “Red” are locked in a race that’s too close to call for the No. 4 and No. 5 spot right now. Both should sell between 45,000 and 50,000.

Vying for No. 6 are Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and the soundtrack to “Pitch Perfect,” both pegged for 35,000-40,000.

It’s a two-way race for No. 8 as well, as the new set from Dropkick Murphys, “Signed and Sealed in Blood”  and The Lumineers’ self-titled set are neck and neck with sales between 30,000 and 35,000 for each.

Likely coming in at No. 10 is Pink’s “The Truth About Love,” which will sell between 27,000 and 30,000, according to Hits Daily Double.
 

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<p>Britney Spears</p>

Britney Spears

Credit: AP Photo

Confirmed: Britney Spears leaves 'X Factor' - What's next?

Is Las Vegas the next stop?

Britney Spears is officially out at “The X Factor,” y’all. This is, of course, not news to anyone who had followed the back and forth over the past few weeks: First came the rumors that Spears was fired, then came word that she was quitting.

Regardless of the how it went down, the result is the same: Spears can get back to her music. And signs are that she’s ready to double down. There are lots of rumors floating around about what's coming next, but our hope is that, as she's suggested, she will really focus on the music.  The last three albums have provided hits, but it's time for Spears to push a little bit. 

Whether it was her attempt to spin things her way or the reality or both, she already laid the foundation for folks last week when she tweeted that she was “really focused on my music right now.” 

Among the collaborators she’s working with on for her eighth studio album  are will.i.am, Nate “Danja” Hills, and Hit-Boy. She’s worked with will.i.am and Danja before, but this marks her first stint with Hit-Boy, who’s on a role fresh from his work with Kanye West and Jay-Z on “Ni***s in Paris” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle.”  As you know, she and will.i.am are in the Top 10 right know on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Scream and Shout.”

Just as telling as her departure from “The X Factor” is Thursday’s news that she’s switched booking agencies, from William Morris Endeavor to Creative Artists Agency When an artist makes such a move, it can portend some shift, in that they want to get into a new area or expand their existing domain (Or in this case, she could just want a clean start after “The X Factor.) UPDATE:  Word just came down of Spears' split with fiance Jason Trawick, who had been an agent at WME. He'd left the agency more than a year ago, but that could the reason for the shift to CAA).

While there’s no word yet on a new Spears tour, she remains a touring machine. Her last tour in 2011, to support latest album “Femme Fatale,” grossed $37 million from 39 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore.
In her statement today confirming her exit, Spears reiterated the desire to focus on her music and that she missed touring. “I can’t wait to get back out there and do what I love most,” she says.

Is one of the possibilities a Las Vegas residency? TMZ reports she is in “serious talks” to ink a deal with one of the Caesars properties.

As Elton John and other acts have proved, an act can commit to a certain number of dates in Las Vegas per year and still have a very healthy touring slate around the rest of the country and world. Plus, if she’s looking for a quick way to replace the $15 million she reportedly received from “The X Factor,” look no further.

Before we’ve got her commuting from LA to LV, let’s have her focus on making good, solid music.  As I mentioned, "Blackout," "Circus" and "Femme Fatale"—the three albums since her 2007 breakdown— have all had strong moments, but haven’t been consistent.

What would happen if she really focused on digging deep and making an album that tried something new instead of just some new beats? I’m not suggesting she go acoustic or get too serious, but hearing basically the same sexual themes over slightly different beats and lyrics blaring out of the radio is getting tiresome. What's the last Spears hit  you could actually sing along to?   Maybe it’s time to focus a little more on the substance since it would appear she has some time on her hands.
 

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Taylor Swift heads back into the studio

Does that mean 'Trouble' for One Direction's Harry Styles?

Give Taylor Swift credit for poking fun at her own reputation. The singer tweeted Thursday night that she’s returned to the recording studio and then added a warning...

“Back in the studio. Uh oh...,” Taylor tweeted.  Such news should have One Direction’s Harry Styles and Conor Kennedy quaking in their boots since they are her two latest paramours-- or whatever we want to call the rotating list of boys she’s churning through.

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<p>Ke$ha's C'Mon</p>

Ke$ha's C'Mon

Watch: Ke$ha and her furry friends wreak havoc in 'C'mon' video

Wayward waitress time travels back to the '70s

Ke$ha’s obviously never heard the rule about not getting into a car with strangers.

Luckily it all works out OK. There are no unicorns, but Ke$ha still manages to bring on the trippy fun in her video for “C’mon," her new single from "Warrior."

After quitting her job as a waitress as the “Awful House” dinner, she hops into a makeshift version of what looks like the Scoobymobile and time travels back to the ‘70s (or so it seems given the presence of an 8-Track player, the clothes and the headbands. But she’s not alone. She has all kinds of full-size furry animals, including a rabbit and an owl, with her. She rescues them from their homeless ways and somehow loses her pants along the way. But no worries, she doesn't need pants where she's going.

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Watch: Brad Paisley's tribute to Honey Boo Boo

Watch: Brad Paisley's tribute to Honey Boo Boo

Will the song make the country star's new album, out April 9?

Brad Paisley pays homage to the pint-sized reality star in “The Ballad Of Honey Boo Boo.”

Paisley unveiled the tribute last night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!.” Paisley, who is not only one of music’s best guitar players and songwriters, has the perfect ear for parody and his comedic timing is perfect in this clip that has too many highlights to mention. There’s one in particular that had us laughing out loud, but you’ll probably find your own.

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<p>The Band Perry</p>

The Band Perry

Credit: AP Photo

The Band Perry's sophomore album will arrive in stores in Spring

When exactly will the Rick-Rubin-produced collection be released?

The Band Perry will release its sophomore album April 2.

Rick Rubin produced the album, whose title is still to be determined,  and first single, “Better Dig Two,” has already rocketed to No. 4 on Billboards Country Songs chart.

[More after the jump...]

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Justin Timberlake announces that new music is on the way...

Justin Timberlake announces that new music is on the way...

When and what remains to be seen, though it could be very soon

“What does the next decade mean for me?,” Justin Timberlake asks in a new video posted by the superstar at 9 a.m. today.

And the answer appears to be new music---sooner rather than later.  Seven years after 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSound,” Timberlake finally seems “ready” to put out new music. In the video, we hear Timberlake’s voice over footage of the artist walking into a studio with the final shot of him putting on earphones and declaring “I’m ready.”

A countdown clock then appears, that, if it’s telling us what we think it’s telling us, means, Timberlake will have new music (maybe a single, maybe an album) as early as 3 days from now--though it seems odd that he’d release anything on a Sunday. It all depends upon how you interpret the countdown clock, although it seems to clearly be counting down seconds, minutes, hours and days.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>'Les Miserables'</p>

'Les Miserables'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Did the Oscars get it right for best original song with Adele and 'Les Mis?'

The five contenders yield a few surprises

After last year’s Best Original Song debacle when only two songs were nominated, the Oscars got their footing back this year with five solid, if somewhat surprising, nominees.

To be sure, Adele’s “Skyfall” was the one song that seemed a foregone conclusion after it was deemed eligible (there was some initial doubt since it pays such a healthy homage to the original Bond theme). But its frontrunner status was due just as much, if not more, to Adele than to 007‘s revived franchise. And don’t presume she’s the frontrunner now: No James Bond theme has ever won an Oscar. Still, the song—written by Adele and Paul Epworth is lush and dramatic and a worthy entry.

The other sure bet was “Suddenly” from “Les Miserables,” the new song, written for the film by the stage musical’s original composers, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil, and performed by Hugh Jackman.  It fills a role similar to previous Oscar winner  “You Must Love Me” from “Evita” or nominee “I Move On” from “Chicago,” both of which were added into the movie versions of the plays to give them potential Oscar contenders (and it worked). 

The Academy Awards deemed a staggering  75 songs eligible for contention this year  The remaining three slots, quite frankly, could have been filled by any number of contenders, but went to “Chasing Ice’s”  “Before My Time,” written by J. Ralph and performed by Scarlett Johansson and violinist Joshua Bell, “Life of Pi’s” “Pi’s Lullaby,” written my Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri,” and “Everybody Needs A Best Friend,” written by Walter Murphy and Oscar host Seth McFarlane” and performed by Norah Jones.

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” is a sweet throwback to the big band era with a toe-tapping feel and a sweeping arrangement. The song also appears during a fun montage smack-dab in the film.

“Before My Time” runs over the end credits for “Chasing Ice,” a documentary about photographer James Balog’s effort to tell the story of climate change by placing time-lapse cameras across the Arctic. It’s an appropriately morose, spare, low-key ballad led by Johansson’s more than serviceable vocals, Bell’s always-haunting beautiful playing and the composer himself on piano. While Ralph is no doubt hoping for a repeat of Melissa Etheridge’s win for “I Need To Wake Up” from the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” he’s not likely to win, especially given that the doc didn’t make the cut for best original documentary.

Not to be flippant at all, but I didn’t realize that “Life Of Pi” even had a song in it when I saw it. Maybe I was still too consumed by the meerkat island. It turns out it is a lilting, magical tune by film composer Danna with lyrics by Jayashri, performed by Jaysahri. Given how enamored the Academy is with “Life Of Pi,” it could pull off a big surprise here. It could be this year’s “Jai Ho.”

Though only five songs can be nominated, there were some surprising snubs that I would have expected to fill the slots that went to “Best Friends” and “Before My Time.” Notable omissions include “Learn Me Right” from Best Animated Feature nominee Brave,” as well as any songs from “Django Unchained,” and “Song of the Lonely Mountain” from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Both "Skyfall" and "Suddenly" are up for Golden Globes on Sunday. Fellow Golden Globe nominees "For You" from "Act of Valor" and "Not Running Anymore" from "Stand Up Guys."   “Safe & Sound,” from “The Hunger Games,” wasn’t eligible for an Oscar.

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