<p>Jennifer Hudson</p>

Jennifer Hudson

Watch: 'Smash's' Jennifer Hudson belts new song 'I Can't Let Go'

Singer channels Whitney Houston on new track

While there will never be another Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson has proven to be the closest heir apparent among the current crop of female divas. She has a voice that just won’t quit and an emotional fervor that she brings to each song without ever appearing overwrought.

Watch the below clip from “Smash” as her character, Veronica “Ronnie” Moore sings “I Can’t Let Go,” a power ballad written by “Smash’s” composers/executive producers Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman. Hudson, rooted in one spot, is riveting.  It feels like a sure bet for an Emmy nod

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Anne Hathaway of &quot;Les Miserables&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway of "Les Miserables"

Credit: Universal

Will 'Les Miserables' topple Taylor Swift from atop the Billboard 200 next week?

It's a close race for several spots in the Top 10

The soundtrack to “Les Miserables” may become the first No. 1 album based on 2013 sales.

The title, which skyrocketed 33-2 this week is on target to sell up to 130,000 copies, which would handily land it at No. 1.

As consumers continue to spend the gift cards they received for the holidays, look for One Direction’s “Take Me Home” to move up one spot, 3-2. It could move as many as 105,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double, which would make it and “Les Miz” the only two titles to surpass the 100,00 mark in sales next week.

Taylor Swift’s “Red,” which currently sits at No. 1, may drop to as low at No. 4. The singer’s set and Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” are too close to call for the No. 3 and 4 spots, with each looking good for between 85,000 and 95,000.

“American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips’ “The World From the Other Side of the Moon” is poised so soar, possibly leaping from No. 11 to No. 5.

The “Pitch Perfect” soundtrack, which catapulted 45-10 this week following the comedy’s release on DVD, will also continue to rise, possibly as high as No. 6.

Rounding out the Top 10, the Lumineers’ self-titled album, Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Pink’s “The Truth About Love” are all too close to call for the No. 7-9 slots, with each looking to sell between 50,000 and 55,000. Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” looks good for No. 10 with up to 50,000 copies sold.

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Watch: One Direction salutes Elvis Presley in 'Kiss You' video trailer

Watch: One Direction salutes Elvis Presley in 'Kiss You' video trailer

From one teen idol to another

Can't wait until Monday when One Direction unspools the new video for "Kiss You?" Well, hang on. Below is something to tide you over. Watch as the members of One Direction get their Elvis Presley on in this final teaser for the “Kiss You” video.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Rolling stone?</p>

Rolling stone?

Credit: Coachella

Are The Rolling Stones one step closer to headlining Coachella?

Festival organizers post tantalizing photo on Facebook

Are the Rolling Stones one step closer to announcing their rumored headlining gig at Coachella?

Either organizers of the alternative music festival, which takes place in Indio, Calif., April 12-14 and April 19-21, are messing with us or they’re subtly confirming their appearance. Yesterday, the folks at Goldenvoice, who put on Coachella, posted a picture (above) of a stone in a field on Coachella's Facebook page. No, it’s not rolling, but it’s gathering no moss either.

It’s the latest move in the “are-they-or-aren’t they” chronicle of the rock and roll band. The rumors started last fall and the drum beat only got louder after the Rolling Stones’ mobile app listed an April 12 date at Coachella. That quickly disappeared.

What does seem clear is that the Rolling Stones aren’t done after playing five lauded 50th anniversary shows in London, Brooklyn, and Newark. “Really, all you’re going to have to do is wait for an announcement,” guitarist Keith Richards told Rolling Stone’s David Fricke. “It would be dopey to bring things up to this level and say, ‘Well, that’s that, 50 years, bye-bye.”

Mick Jagger is a little cagier. “There have been quite a few offers,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I’m going to see what’s on the table and discuss it with everyone.”

As far as Coachella, Jagger says he has no idea how that date showed up on the Stones’ mobile app and that he had not been asked to play the festival personally, but he doesn’t rule it out. “I always said that we’d see how this would go, and then we’d think about doing more —or not.”

Either way, expect an announcement of who is playing at the festival within the next few weeks, if not next week.  Among the other hotly-tipped names has been Daft Punk, however NME ran a story yesterday that stated the band wil not be playing any festivals in 2013, or any live dates at all.

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Watch: Mariah Carey awkwardly adlibs during Australian concert

Watch: Mariah Carey awkwardly adlibs during Australian concert

Maybe this is why she tours so infrequently?

For all her superstardom, Mariah Carey has never been a frequent touring artist and the video below may show why.

Putting the adage, “the show must go on,” into practice, Carey ad libs as she suffers through her earpiece monitor going out, and a flustered stagehand trying to make it all right, during a performance in Australia a few nights ago. Through it all, she never loses the audience as she  playfully, but firmly, admonishes her crew and give a play-by-play. She says her dress is too big and too small, she needs water, she needs her band to wait to start the song... it’s a mini-series played out in less than three minutes.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Taylor Swift at New Year's Eve in New York</p>

Taylor Swift at New Year's Eve in New York

Credit: AP Photo

Will Taylor Swift be 'Trouble' for Bruno Mars on the Billboard Hot 100?

Record digital download week propels major movement on the chart

Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” spends a fourth week at No. 1 on the Billboard 100, but look for Taylor Swift possibly to end his tenure next week.

“Locked” remains No. 1 on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart (The Hot 100 combines radio play, digital sales, and streaming), but barely increases in airplay, while it loses its No. 1 spot on the Digital Songs chart.

In the meantime, Swift’s “I Knew You Were In Trouble” soars in downloads, though it only gains 5% in radio play. The song isn’t available for streaming, which makes its move to 4-2 on the Billboard Hot 100 all the more impressive.

Rihanna’s “Diamonds” loses a little of its shine as the former No. 1 slides 2-3. It pushes The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” down one spot as well, to No. 4, while Justin Bieber’s “Beauty And A Beat” featuring Nicki Minaj holds at No. 5, according to Billboard.

And end-of-the-year download shopping spree (more about that in a minute) propels Psy’s “Gangnam Style” back into the top 10, as the track, which the S. Korean singer has retired,  leaps 17-6.

Ke$ha’s “Die Young” drops 6-7, as does Maroon 5’s “One More Night,” which falls to No. 8. Phillip Phillips’ “Home” stays at No. 9, while Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” holds at No. 10.

Fueled by holiday iTunes gift-card giving, a record 55.74 digital songs were sold last week. The amount skyrocketed past the previous record of 47.73 million sold the week ending Dec. 28 in 2008, according to Billboard. The Nielsen SoundScan sales week ends on a Sunday, so this year’s gift-card receivers had almost a full week of purchases counted in the tally.

Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” topped the list with 582,000 copies, the fourth-biggest sales week for a song. (The record belongs to Flo Rida’s “Right Round” at 636,000).

Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” comes in at No. 2 with 497,000, and “Gangnam Style” at No. 3 at 400,000.

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<p>Britney Spears</p>

Britney Spears

Credit: AP Photo

UPDATED: Britney Spears reveals she's 'really focused' on new music right now

Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines also delivers solo album details

While the rest of us were ringing in the New Year and taking down the tree, some artists were hard at work.

Britney Spears took to Twitter  to tell fans that she was “really focused on my music right now.” Whether that’s a veiled reference to all the rumors that swirled over the holidays that she has been kicked off of “X Factor,” we don’t know, but it’s good news for Spears fans regardless.

In her chat, she also reveals that she’s “collaborating with some new inspiring producers,” without naming names, and that she’s “excited” about the new stuff.

Spears last album was 2011’s “Femme Fatale,” though she and will.i.am more recently dropped the tune, “Scream And Shout,” late last year. It debuted at No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100.

In December, Elijah Blake, who’s written for Usher and Rihanna, revealed that he’s working with Spears on a new album. “I think her fans will be surprised by it,” he told thatgrapejuice.net. “I would say it’s definitely the ‘unexpected’ Britney in so many ways, in that she’s playing with new textures and stomping on new grounds and genres.” He added that “she’s definitely trying to push the envelope this time and really talk from a more personal point of view.”  

As we reported in October, it looks like Spears may be working with “Blackout” collaborator/producer Nate “Danja” Hills. 

Spears wasn’t the only one working on a new set over the holidays. The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines tweeted  that she had finished her first solo album, “Mother,” which will come out May 7.  The first single is the title track, a cover of the Pink Floyd song.

Producer Ben Harper produced the rock album, according to a number of outlets. She and Harper have performed the song together live on selected Harper tour dates this past year.

The song also appears on “West Of Memphis: Voices of Justice,” a compilation album also featuring Lucinda Williams, Marilyn Manson, Band Of Horses, Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan and others. The album is the companion to “West of Memphis,” a documentary about the West Memphis Three, three young men convicted for the murder of three 8-year old boys. Their conviction was overturned in 2011 after a number of artists, including Maines, had worked hard for their release.

The album will be Maines’ first release since the 2006 Dixie Chicks’ album, “Taking The Long Way.” While there are no plans for Dixie Chicks to record together any time soon (if ever again), they will reunite for a show on July 13at the Craven Country Jamboree in Canada. The Chicks are filling in for Lady Antebellum, who canceled the date due to Hillary Scott’s pregnancy.

UPDATE: Spears is also working with will.i.am and Hit-Boy, who has become very sought after following his collaborations with Kanye West and Jay-Z on "Ni***s in Paris" and Kendrick Lamar's "Backseat Freestyle," according to Entertainment Weekly.  A rep told EW that Spears has not worked with Blake, as we wrote above.

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Credit: AP Photo

U2 reveals working title for 13th studio set

Is it a joke or for real?

The working title for U2’s new album is “10 Reasons to Exist.” 

Lead singer Bono revealed the moniker, perhaps jokingly,  in a radio interview after Christmas, according to The Independent newspaper.

There’s no release date yet for the group’s 13th studio album, which the band worked on throughout 2012.  Bono added, “Within the band, we’ve been calling it ‘10 Reasons to Exist,’ —but I will tell you we might have at least six of them.” Call us crazy, but we're betting that this will not be the final title, but it's a fascinating idea for a concept album.

U2’s last studio album was 2009’s “No Line On The Horizon.” 


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<p>Green Day</p>

Green Day

Credit: Bruce Gilbert/AP

Green Day to hit the road again in March 2013

Band returns after six months off for Billie Joe Armstrong's recovery

After canceling some dates outright and postponing others while lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong attended rehab, Green Day will hit the road again on March 28, starting at Chicago’s Allstate Arena.

The trio, who released three albums between September and December of 2012, called off all promotional shows and a planned tour after Armstrong went into an explosive rant  at the IHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas in late September. When originally announced in October, the group canceled all remaining dates for 2012 and postponed shows for January- February.  Those early 2013 shows are now canceled.

Armstrong thanks his fans and friends for their support over the last several months. "Dear friends... I just want to thank you all for the love and support you've shown for the past few months. Believe me, it hasn't gone unnoticed and I'm eternally grateful to have such an amazing set of friends and family. I'm getting better everyday. So now, without further ado, the show must go on. We can't wait to get on the road and live out [loud]! Our passion has only grown stronger."

Collectively, the band also issued its thanks: "Dear friends... I just want to thank you all for the love and support you've shown for the past few months. Believe me, it hasn't gone unnoticed and I'm eternally grateful to have such an amazing set of friends and family. I'm getting better everyday. So now, without further ado, the show must go on. We can't wait to get on the road and live out load! Our passion has only grown stronger."

West coast dates will be announced in early 2013. Refunds for the now-canceled January and February shows are now available.


28th - Chicago, IL - Allstate Arena
29th - Moline, IL - I Wireless Center
31st - Pittsburgh, PA - Consol Energy Center   
1st - Rochester, NY - Blue Cross Arena
3rd - Philadelphia, PA - Liacourias Center
4th - Fairfax, VA - Patriot Center
6th - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun Arena
7th - Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center
9th - Providence, RI - Dunkin Donuts Center
11th - Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre
12th - Quebec City, QC - Quebec Colisee
7th - Green Bay, WI - Resch Center
10th - Wilkes-Barre, PA - Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
11th - State College, PA - Bryce Jordan Center - Penn State Univ.
18th - Manchester, NH - Verizon Wireless Arena
25th - Portland, ME - Cumberland Co. Civic Center
30th - Cleveland, OH - Wolstein Ctr. / Cleveland St. Univ.
2nd - Madison, WI - Alliant Energy Center Mem. Coliseum
4th - Omaha, NE - CenturyLink Arena                                     
6th - Broomfield, CO - 1STBANK Center 
8th - Las Vegas, NV  - MGM Grand Garden Arena              


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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP

Taylor Swift set to lead Billboard 200 for last week of 2012

'Les Miserables' soundtrack may surge into Top 10

While sales figures are sketchy because of the holidays, look for Taylor Swift’s “Red” to top the Billboard 200 next week.

Early estimates have the superstar’s fourth studio album spending a seventh non-consecutive week at No. 1 with sales of up to 225,000, according to Billboard. The tally will include Amazon’s Christmas Eve sales price of $1.99 (Nielsen SoundScan counts the discounted sales because the album has been out more than four weeks).

“Red” stands atop the leader board this week as well, with sales of 276,000. If “Red” does remain in the top spot, Swift will have registered 24 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, tying Adele as the female artist with the most weeks at No. 1 since the launch of SoundScan in 1991. Swift’s feat spans three albums: 2008’s “Fearless,” 2010’s “Speak Now” and “Red,” while all of Adele’s 24 weeks come from “21.”

In other chart news, look for the soundtrack to “Les Miserables” to possibly vault into the top 10. The title, which is No. 1 on iTunes following the movie’s Dec. 25 opening, debuted at No. 33 this week.

Billboard also expects Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and One Direction’s “Take Me Home” to remain in the top 10.

The New Year’s Day holiday will delay the chart results until Thursday, Jan. 3 instead of Wednesday, Jan. 2.

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