<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Watch: John Mayer heads west in 'Queen of California' video...or does he?

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Singer/songwriter has his walking shoes on

John Mayer goes through his own westward expansion on the video for “Queen of California.” The  low-key video matches the laidback feel of the song, as Mayer strolls casually through various landscapes —New York City’s hustle and bustle, a movie set, the snow-crested Rockies—as he wends his way to a final beautiful scene (that still looks decidedly east coast, given the trees) and reunites with his band.

[More after the jump...]

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Album Review: Joss Stone returns with 'The Soul Sessions Volume 2'

Album Review: Joss Stone returns with 'The Soul Sessions Volume 2'

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Can she make lightning strike twice?

It was in 2003 that teenage British lass Joss Stone released “The Soul Sessions,” a collection of primarily obscure ’60 and ‘70s R&B covers delivered with an almost preternatural maturity and vocal prowess.

Nine years later, Stone is all grown up and it shows on “The Soul Sessions Volume 2,” out July 31 on Stone’d/S Curve Recordings.

Often such sequels are bad ideas and feel like a calculated way to try to recapture the unplanned magic that made the first effort soar. However, this time Stone has done the near impossible: she has caught lightning in a bottle twice.

Her remarkably lush, throaty vocals seems even stronger, but more importantly, the 25-year-old Stone has sufficient living and heartache under her belt to bring the needed bite to songs like The Honey Cone’s “While You’re Out Looking For Sugar.” And there’s certainly no way a 16-year old should have been singing a cover of Sylvia’s breathy “Pillow Talk.”

Recorded primarily in Nashville and produced by S-Curve chief Steve Greenberg, who helmed “Soul Sessions” with Betty Wright,  “SS2” features such soul stalwarts as Ernie Isley, Delbert McClinton and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section pianist/keyboardist Clayton Ivey. They ground Stone in a sense of time and place and authenticity in a way that more modern players likely could not (although a special nod has to go to Raymond Angry, best known for his work with Christina Aguilera and the Roots, whose B3 work here drenches the album in his own delectable brand of soul honey). It’s possible to feel transported back to another era as she sears through tunes like Eddie Floyd’s “I Don’t Wanna Be With Nobody But You.”

Just as she included The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Boy”  on “Soul Sessions,” Stone expands the definition of soul here to include a striking cover of The Broken Bells’ “The High Road.” While she remains faithful to most of the soul originals, she upends “The High Road,” infusing it with a sultriness totally non-existent in the Broken Bells’ version, and discarding some of the song’s mournfulness. 

Stone proves adept on all numbers here, but she’s at her best when she’s belting with a purpose. A revamp of soul and country classic “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” with just acoustic guitar and strings, shows off her softer side, but it’s the sassy, take-no-prisoners Stone that will keep listeners interested, such as on the spritely, vengeful “First Taste Of Hurt” (one of four extra songs on the expanded deluxe version) or the funked out “Stoned Out Of My Mind.”

As much depth as she’s able to infuse these songs with now, it would be incredible to have Stone record a new edition of “The Soul Sessions” every decade. In about 20 years, when life has kicked her around a bit more as it does all of us, Stone should really be able to give them some heft.  In the meantime, “The Soul Sessions Vol. 2” will have to suffice and it does so masterfully.

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<p>Matchbox Twenty in &quot;She's So Mean&quot;</p>

Matchbox Twenty in "She's So Mean"

Watch: Matchbox Twenty's video for 'She's So Mean'

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'Mean' equals 'hot' in band's new clip

Warning: Several vinyl albums were harmed in the making of this video.

“She’s So Mean,” Matchbox Twenty’s video for the  first single from its first album of all-new material in 10 years, should be retitled "She's So Hot." As the lyrics state, “You want her, but she’s so mean,” as they detail a girl who wreaks havoc but you just can’t let her go. “Mean” = “Hot.” Trust me, no guy in the world would put up with this femme fatale’s antics if she weren’t a 10. Some guys like the cray-cray, but only when it comes wrapped in a very pretty package.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Green Day wants you to 'Let Yourself Go' in new live video

Watch: Green Day wants you to 'Let Yourself Go' in new live video

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Energetic clip showcases material from 'Uno'

Green Day continues to give fans peeks into “¡Uno!,” “¡Dos!,” and “¡Tre!”, the three albums coming out over a four-month period starting next month.

Today, we get a live video of “Let Yourself Go,” filmed Nov. 17 at a club in Austin, Texas.  The Alternative Press exclusive is a little slice of punk pop that is a straight-down-the-middle fastball from the trio: it’s propulsive, snarly, and energetic. Plus, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt are appropriately scruffy, looking like they’re running on no sleep and caffeine for days on end in the black and white clip.  The live version stretches out a bit after a great, anthemic start. We’re hoping the album version is a tightly-wound, 2:30 version.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Mariah Carey's first &quot;American Idol&quot; promo pictures&nbsp;</p>

Mariah Carey's first "American Idol" promo pictures 

Credit: FOX

Music Power Rankings: Mariah Carey comes out on top over Carly Rae Jepsen

We also give a nod to pure Olympic gold

1. Mariah Carey: Mimi is confirmed as Jennifer Lopez’s replacement as a judge on “American Idol” for a reported $18 million payday. Production may have to shift to midnight to meet this night owl’s schedule, but she is a great choice. Britney Spears feels underpaid.

2. Carly Rae Jepsen: As “Call Me Maybe” spends another week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest running No. 1 by a Canadian female (even Celine!), Jepsen gets some sweet, watery love from the U.S. Olympic swim team.

3. Emeli Sande: She’s already a star in the U.K., but her performance during the Olympics’ opening ceremony kicked her from “bubbling under” to “next big thing” status in the U.S. Welcome the new "It" girl (If you didn't see it since NBC cut it out, check it out on the web).

4. “The Voice”: Whoever is booking the mentors for the talent contest deserves a thumbs up and for everyone to turn their chair around in approval. Should “The Voice” ever decide to spin off another edition, it’s got your new set of coaches right here: Mary J. Blige, Michael Buble, Rob Thomas and Billie Joe Armstrong.

5. Universal Music Group: It moves another step closer to finalizing its acquisition of EMI after EMI’s chief Roger Faxon details what the company will sell off in order to meet European Commission approval...and it’s a lot.

6. Jason Aldean:
Is it selling out if you change the name of the beer you’re already giving a free plug to in your song to one that will pay you money to name it instead? In 1992, yes. In 2012, it’s called good business.

7. Elton John:  Reg Dwight tops the U.K. charts for first time in more than 20 years with “Good Morning To the Night,” his collaboration with Pnau, an Australian electronica duo he allowed to play with his catalog.

8. Nas: Life is truly good for the rapper as his newest set, “Life Is Good” becomes his sixth to top the Billboard 200 and his ninth to top Billboard’s R&B album chart.

9. Madonna: The Material Girl is having a tough time of it. Even after the live streams for free an intimate show from Paris, fans complain that the concert wasn’t enough. For someone who has always loved to court controversy, between getting called out for the swastikas, the guns and the flashing, maybe she’s finally realized that not all press is good press, even when they spell MDNA right.

10. The Jackson Family:
Really? Haven’t Michael Jackson’s kids been through enough. Take it off Twitter, take it out of the public arena. I know it’s never really been required of you, but act like adults.

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<p>The cover of Nas' &quot;Life is Good&quot;</p>

The cover of Nas' "Life is Good"

Nas and Zac Brown Band battle for No. 1 on low-selling Billboard 200

Difference in sales between No. 1 and No. 10 could be staggeringly close

Whether it’s summer doldrums or the focus on the Olympics, album sales fall off a cliff on next week’s Billboard 200.

With a few day left to go before Nielsen SoundScan’s tally closes Sunday night, this week’s No. 1, Nas’s “Life Is Good” and last week’s chart topper, Zac Brown Band’s “Unchanged” are too close to call for the pole position. Either way, neither one is selling more than 50,000, according to Hits Daily Double, which will mean that whoever is No. 1 next week holds the dubious distinction of the lowest total so far in 2012 for a No. 1.

There are only two bows in the Top 10. Gaslight Anthem’s major label debut, “Handwritten,” could come in as high at No. 3 or as low as No. 5: right now, “Handwritten,” Kidz Bop Kids’ “Kidz Bop 22,” and Justin Bieber’s “Believe” are all looking like they will move between 35,000-40,000 units each.

The other debut belongs to Passion Pit’s “Gossamer,” which will likely launch at No. 9 on sales of up to 32,000.

Just as the top 5 are too close to call, the same goes for No. 6-8. One Direction’s “Up All Night,” Adele’s “21,” and Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” are all trending toward sales of between 30,000-35,000.

Likely to land at No. 10 is Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” with sales of 24,000-27,000.

So if anyone’s paying close attention: If the No. 1 title sells on the low end of the projection at 45,000 and Maroon 5 sells at the high end for No. 10 at 27,000, that means only 18,000 units separate No. 1 from No. 10. I cannot imagine another scenario where that has ever been the case.

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<p>Scotty McCreery in a photo he tweeted</p>

Scotty McCreery in a photo he tweeted

Scotty McCreery spreads Christmas cheer for his fans with new holiday album

'American Idol' champ has been recording in Nashville

Scotty McCreery fans can expect a little Christmas cheer from the Season 10 “American Idol” champ this year.

Though it’s sweltering in Nashville, McCreery has been getting his holiday spirit on and is recording a Christmas album.  Though his label, Mercury Nashville, has been mum on the subject, McCreery spilled the beans on Thursday when he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Santa cap and wrote, “Well, it’s still 90 some degrees outside, but it’s Christmas in July here in the studio.”

Though the tweet has since come down, Aceshowbiz.com reported that singer/songwriter Nick Autry had tweeted that all the Christmas decorations to make McCreery feel festive in the studio were now stored in his office. Further proof!

Hitfix has confirmed with a source that the album is definitely coming. More details soon. Ho ho ho.

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Watch: Alanis Morissette’s ‘angelic’ new video for ‘Guardian’

Watch: Alanis Morissette’s ‘angelic’ new video for ‘Guardian’

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What movie's plot does she draw inspiration from?

Well, we’re just glad Alanis Morissette didn’t pick “Legend of the Guardians” as the inspiration for her new video for “Guardian,” the first single off her new album, “Havoc and Bright Lights,” out July 31.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Bruce Springsteen</p>

Bruce Springsteen

Credit: AP Photo

Bruce Springsteen sets new U.S. arena dates for fall

Is the 'Wrecking Ball' tour coming to your town?

As Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band wrap up their European stadium tour,  the group has announced another leg of U.S. arena dates starting in October.

These concerts are in addition to the previously announced U.S. stadium show run that The Boss will start in Boston at Fenway Park on Aug. 14. In case you missed it, The New Yorker ran a long profile on Springsteen this week that's must reading for any fan.

The new "Wrecking Ball" dates:

10/19 Ottawa, ON – Scotiabank Place
10/21 Hamilton, ON – Copps Coliseum
10/23 Charlottesville, VA – John Paul Jones Arena
10/25 Hartford, CT – XL Center
11/1 State College, PA – Bryce Jordan Center
11/3 Louisville, KY – KFC Yum! Center
11/11 St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center
11/15 Omaha, NE – CenturyLink Arena
11/17 Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
11/19 Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
11/26 Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
11/28 Portland, OR – The Rose Garden
11/30 Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena
12/4 Anaheim, CA – Honda Center
12/6 Glendale, AZ – Jobing.com Arena







 

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Watch: The U.S. Olympic swim team's adorable 'Call Me Maybe' video

Watch: The U.S. Olympic swim team's adorable 'Call Me Maybe' video

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It's your patriotic duty to watch

The London Olympics officially kick off today and the U.S. Swim Team has delivered the perfect video to get us in the mood. Even if you’ve seen every viral video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” already, it’s your duty as an American to watch this one from the U.S. team.

We know they’re all great swimmers, but they are surprisingly good sports as well, especially the females who, as a group, tend to get way more into the antics than their male counterparts.  Check out the plane sequence to see what we mean. Plus, this one has a surprising number of location shoots. Some time went into making this clip, but before you think this was time they should have been spent practicing, it’s clear that many of the scenes take place on planes and buses while they’re in transit or at autograph sessions.

[More after the jump...]

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