<p>Green Day's &quot;&iexcl;Tre!&quot;</p>

Green Day's "¡Tre!"

Album Review: Green Day's 'Tre!' ends the party on a solid note

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Last in trilogy marches to a bittersweet conclusion

After releasing two albums of raw and ready rock since September, the party’s over, or at least on its last legs, on “Tre!,” the third in Green Day’s trilogy, out today.

The exhilaration on “Uno!,” released in September, and “Dos!,” out last month,  has been replaced with a certain weariness, but the dozen tunes here still have plenty of bite. Performed at a much slower, less hyper speed than the songs on the first two sets, “Tre!” provides some food for thought for those who have stayed too long too often, while also serving an an excellent showcase for Billie Joe Armstrong’s often plaintive vocals.

Opening with country-tinged waltz “Brutal Love,” most of the songs on “Tre!” come with a tinge of regret whether it’s over a lost love on the horn-laced “Missing You” or a lost childhood (at any age) on the pulsing “X-Kid.”

The band’s familiar quick-tempo-ed bounce returns on the power poppy “Sex, Drugs and Violence,” which is doubly likable for the line:  “Well, I don’t want to be an imbecile, but Jesus made me that way.”

The most interesting cut is the six-minute “Dirty Rotten Bastards,” which is about four songs in one. The tune, which would have sounded right at home on “21st Century Breakdown,” opens with a sing-songy militant bounce before progressing to some serious guitar shredding bolstered by Tre Cool’s relentless drumming,  then shifting into a melodic mid-tempo lament to “all God’s losers,” before majestically bending into a slower section.

The album closes with a piano ballad, “The Forgotten,” which sounds like Green Day crossed with Oasis, and will be familiar with "Twight" fans for its inclusion on the soundtrack for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2."  Green Day doesn't do happy particularly well, but they've got pissed off, bittersweet, and disenchanted down.

The three albums work as a piece, but also stand confidently on their own individually. Of the three, “Tre” will appeal to Green Day fans who like their music a little more contemplative than mindless.

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<p>Adam Levine of Maroon 5</p>

Adam Levine of Maroon 5

Credit: Wade Payne/Invision/AP

Watch: Maroon 5 recruits the world for crowd-sourced 'Daylight' video

The human condition in all its forms in nine minutes

Maroon 5 becomes the latest band to get cheap labor for their new music video. Seriously, for “Daylight,” the latest track from “Overexposed,” the band asked their fans to turn in videos revealing some of their deepest thoughts and then a very patient editor tied them all together.

Some of the clips tie loosely into the song’s theme about desperately not wanting to leave someone at morning’s first light, but the tune is really only a jumping off point for a much deeper look at the human condition... and how hard it is to be a teenager.

Some of the responses to what people hate, what they love and what they regret are by turns funny, silly, and heartbreaking as people confess to a camera truths they have never told even their closest friends or talk about tremendous losses in their lives.

[More after the jump...]

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Ne-Yo joins bandwagon for Beyonce's new album
Credit: AP Photo

Ne-Yo joins bandwagon for Beyonce's new album

R&B star joins other collaborators, such as Jay-Z and Miguel for Bey's fifth set

It’s still 2012, but 2013 is already shaping up to be the year of the Beyonce. Not only will Bey provide the half-time entertainment for Feb. 3’s Super Bowl and she’s directing her own hagiography documentary to air on HBO Feb. 16, she is working on her new album with “Irreplaceable” collaborator Ne-Yo.

Ne-Yo, who was all over the place last week between his appearances on the Grammy Nominations concert, “Saturday Night Live” and Z-100’s Jingle Ball, tells MTV News that he and Beyonce are already in discussions about the new album. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll get another ‘Irreplaceable’ out of the batch,” he says.

Beyonce, who posted a photo of herself in the studio in November,  has already reportedly logged studio time with hubby Jay-Z, The-Dream, Ryan Tedder, Kanye West, Diane Warren and Miguel for the follow-up to "4."  Though there’s no release date or even an official announcement about a new album, The-Dream expects that we may hear some music early next year.“She’s already gearing up to get ready to put stuff out,” The-Dream told Billboard  earlier this month. “I’m sure there will probably be a couple records you hear before the Super Bowl gets here.”  As you recall, Madonna used her Super Bowl platform this year to promote new single, “Give Me  All Your Luvin’.”

In other Beyonce news, the singer has expanded her partnership with Pepsi to the tune of $50 million, according to the New York Times, which includes media placements, promotions, and her fee. In addition to filming her fifth commercial in 10 years for the soda, her pretty pout will appear on Pepsi cans.  The deal, the Times explains, also includes a fund for Pepsi to finance Beyonce’s “creative” projects, possibly ranging from live events, videos, and fashion shoots.

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Album Review: Bruno Mars glistens on sophomore set 'Unorthodox Jukebox'
Credit: Atlantic

Album Review: Bruno Mars glistens on sophomore set 'Unorthodox Jukebox'

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Now if he'd just quit going after the bad girls....

Though still early in his career, Bruno Mars has already proven himself so capable on so many fronts from singing to writing to producing that he’s set the bar incredibly high for himself. The question is can he meet it on “Unorthodox Jukebox,” his sophomore set out Dec. 11.

The multiple Grammy winner is only 27, but as he’s shown on such songs as “Grenade” and “Just The Way You Are,”  he has such a sure command of the pop idiom that it seems surprising when he makes a misstep. It’s gratifying that on “Jukebox,” with assistance from Benny Blanco, Paul Epworth, Diplo and Mark Ronson, he makes so few.

Musically, “Unorthodox Jukebox” is a glorious exploration of pop music, full of spritely melodies, layered harmonies, and catchy choruses delivered in Mars’ caramel-dipped voice. It’s lyrically that the album occasionally falls short.

More so than any other current pop male artist, Mars has a sure handle on his influences and he masterfully incorporates them throughout the album, whether it’s Prince on the retro “Treasure” (he even references the Purple One’s “Sexy MF” in the opening) or Otis Redding on the bittersweet tale of regret “If I Knew.”  With its shiny, crisp production, current single, the infectious, stuttering “Locked Out Of Heaven,” owes more than a little to Michael Jackson, one of Mars’ musical heroes.

The masterpiece on here is “When I Was Your Man,” a spare, heartbreaking piano ballad that could still be radio fodder decades from now, just as we’ll still listening to Elton John’s hits from the ‘70s on a near daily basis. In fact, the song most closely resembles one of John’s hits of yore crossed with a little Stevie Wonder.

Warning though: with Mars’ rush of fame, clearly there has been some kind of run-ins with women who can politely be described as  gold diggers, but Mars is not always feeling gentlemanly.

On the cascading, confessional “Young Girls,” he regrets all the pretty young things he’s yielded to as his fame has risen. He’s not going to get a lot of sympathy for diving, seemingly repeatedly, into the deep end of Temptation Island, where the water is always warm and each bikini is tinier than the next, but he sounds genuinely conflicted when he sings, “I still dream of the simple life boy meets girl, makes her his wife,but love don’t exist when you live like this, that much I know/All these roads steer me wrong, but I still drive them all night long.”

It’s doubtful that these “young wild girls” will be “the death of me,” as he fears, but if he’s as “addicted” as he claims in the song, he may want to have someone checking IDs at the door and handing out condoms.

If he feels captured in a spider web of feminine wiles on “Young Girls” and on the ode to strippers, “Money Make Her Smile” (Hey, male artists: we don’t ever need another song about girls on the pole. Motley Crue had you covered way back when with “Girls, Girls, Girls.”), things turn  very dark on “Natalie” a cautionary tale about the protagonist’s plans for revenge on a femme fatale who’s taken all his money.  It’s cut from the same cloth  as  Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “Dirty Diana”  in terms of falling for a conniving woman, but Mars promises a final result that will end with “I’ll spend a lifetime in jail/I’ll be smiling in my cell.” Oh Bruno, it takes two to tango. 

And tango he does on “Gorilla,” an R-rated, explicit song about sex, where he wants to make love like an ape. Unless you’re Dian Fossey, I’m not sure a gorilla is the animal most folks wish to emulate when they mate, but there you have it.

With only 10 tracks, there shouldn’t be any filler but there are two songs here that fill that role:  “Moonshine,” a mid-tempo cryptic ballad  and the reggae-tinged “Show Me” is all swagger about “getting freaky tonight.” That’s all  fine, but there should be a little more meat on its bones.

Mars’ pop music is so far above much of what’s played on the radio these days so these quibbles come because it’s clear he can do better. Once his lyrics reach the level of his music—and he gets over his bad girl fixation— there will be truly no stopping him.



 

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<p>Alicia Keys</p>

Alicia Keys

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Music Power Rankings: Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Justin Bieber

Tamar Braxton also makes the cut, thanks to Lady Gaga

1. The Grammy nominations: While there is no sure frontrunner like Adele was last year, Dec. 5’s nominations showed a wide breadth of potential mega winners on Feb. 10 as Mumford & Sons, Kanye West, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, fun., Jay-Z and Frank Ocean all receive six nominations.

2. Alicia Keys: She is truly a “Girl On Fire,” as her album’s No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 this week ties her for the most consecutive No. 1 albums by solo artists.  She joins DMX, R. Kelly, Kanye West and Luther Vandross.

3. DMX: Speaking of DMX, the rapper delivers an impromptu version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” during a radio station visit and instantly creates a new classic. What?

4. Rihanna:
Her domination of the pop charts isn’t enough: now the star has set her sights on TV: She will appear in “Styled To Rock,” a new Style Network series featuring 12 designers handpicked by Ri-Ri. Move over “Project Runway.”

5. Tamar Braxton:
The power of Lady Gaga is undeniable. She tweets about “Love & War,” Braxton’s new single (yes, Tamar, not Toni) and the single goes straight to No. 1 on iTunes. It’s no coincidence, however: Braxton is married to Vincent Herbert, the music exec who signed a 20-year old Lady Gaga.

6. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta: T
he pair’s stultifyingly so-bad-it’s-good video for Christmas-themed “I Think You Might Like It” shows why you can really never go back home again.  Rizzo was smart enough to stay away.

7. Justin Bieber:
The teen heart throb gets the wrong kind of attention after his manager tells the Grammys they “blew it” by not nominating Bieber. Man up: You don’t see Lionel Richie crying that he didn’t get nominated for “Tuskegee,”  and he sold more than Bieber.

8. Metallica: The band streams its full back catalog on Spotify, ending any lingering rift between Napster’s co-founder/Spotify investor Sean Parker, whom the band sued in 2000. The true winner? Metallica fans.

9. Superstorm Sandy Benefit:
The Rolling Stones are the latest superstars  added to 12/12/12’s Madison Square Garden benefit, joining Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Bon Jovi, The Who, Kanye West, and several more. You don’t have to wait for the show to donate to the Robin Hood Foundation, which will disperse the funds to communities still reeling from the storm’s devastation. Go here.

10. Led Zeppelin: The world’s greatest rock band puts on tuxes and cleans up real nice as President Obama shows them a whole lotta love at the Kennedy Center Honors.



 

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Taylor Swift's 'Red' is poised to return to the top of the Billboard 200

Only two titles debut in the Top 10 as holiday slow down continues

Taylor Swift’s “Red” returns to the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after a several-week hiatus.

The set by the superstar is set to sell between 155,000 and 165,000 copies, giving it a good lead over Wiz Khalifa’s “O.N.I.F.C.,” which will likely debut at No. 2 if the rapper can hold off a charge from Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas Baby.” Both are projected to move between 135,000 and 145,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double.

In addition to Khalifa, the only other debut in the Top 10 will come from Ke$ha, whose “Warrior” will likely bow at No. 6 with sales of up to 90,000 copies.

Holiday titles continue to dominate the Top 10: Michael Buble’s “Christmas” is No. 4,  Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” is No. 7 and Lady Antebellum’s “On This Winter’s Night” is No. 8.

As far as the rest of the Top 10, One Direction’s “Take Me Home” will be at No. 5, this week’s No. 1, Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire,” will slide to No. 9 and “American Idol’s” Phillip Phillips’ “Word From The Side Of The Moon” is No. 10.

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<p>Biggie Smalls</p>

Biggie Smalls

Credit: AP Photo

Notorious B.I.G.'s autopsy report reveals details of 1997 shooting

Rapper was shot four times

Fifteen years after his death, the Notorious B.I.G.’s autopsy report reveals that he was struck by four bullets, with the final shot delivering the fatal blow. TMZ published the never-before-released report today.

The rapper was murdered March 9, 1997 as he sat in an SUV, as he left a party at Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles held after the Soul Train Awards.  The murder has not been solved, with a number of different theories circulating, including that Death Row Records’ Suge Knight ordered the hit to avenge the death of Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in 1996.

The autopsy report revealed that Biggie Smalls, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was first hit in the forearm, then in the back with the shot exiting his left shoulder, on his outer thigh with the bullet leaving through his inner thigh, and then with a fourth bullet that entered through his right hip and hit several vital organs before stopping in his left shoulder.

Wallace was rushed to the nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was pronounced dead less than an hour after the shooting occurred.

A number of posthumous releases by Wallace solidified his reputation as one of the top rappers, and in 2006, MTV ranked him at No. 3 in “The Greatest MCs of All Time.”

In 2009,  Fox Searchlight released “Notorious,” a biopic about Wallace’s life.

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun tells Grammys 'U blew it'

Braun vents over Bieber's Grammys nomination shut out

Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, practically lives on Twitter, so it should come as no surprise that he took to the social medium to declare his extreme displeasure at Bieber’s shut-out in yesterday’s Grammy nominations.

Though he graciously told “all those nominated... you do deserve it,” he pled the case for Bieber’s inclusion... albeit, obviously too late.

“Grammy board u blew it on this one,” he tweeted. (Board? Really? It’s the Grammy voters who select the nominees, not the board. That’s beside the point here, though Braun should know that's how it works).  “This time there won’t be any wise words, no excuses, I just plain disagree. The kid deserved it.”

He never mentions Bieber by name, but continues, “The hardest thing to do is transition, keep the train moving. The kid delivered. Huge successful album, sold out tour, and won people over.”

And continued. “...this time he deserved to be recognized and I don’t really have any kind nice positive things to say about a decision I don’t agree with.”

As we previously reported yesterday after One Direction found itself in a similar boat, The Grammys have never really figured out how to deal with teen idols.

At least, unlike 1D, Bieber did get a best new artist nomination last year.

Braun does go on to end on a positive note by praising Carly Rae Jepsen, who records for his label and who received two nominations, but he can’t quite let it go with her either, noting “thought u deserved a best new artist nom.”  We totally agree on that one.

Oddly, he does not mention his other clients, The Wanted, who were, like Bieber, shut out.

By the end of his myriad tweets, he was already looking on the bright side and vowing to use the perceived adversity to his advantage, quoting, of all folks, David Brinkley: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.

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<p>Multiple nominee Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.</p>

Multiple nominee Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Did the Grammys get it right with this year's nominations?

Substance won out over style

Did the Grammys get it right this year? The nominations for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were announced tonight and, as is the annual sport, the dissecting has begun.

By and large, the answer is yes, they did get it right.  There are always critics who  want the Grammys to be edgier and to take more risks, but when the lead nominees include exciting developing talents like fun., Frank Ocean, and Miguel, roots-loving rockers The Black Keys and Mumford & Sons, and hip-hop leading lights Kanye West and Jay Z, it’s hard to mount much of a protest.

A few observations:

*The Grammy voters are loving acts that embrace acoustic traditions and a folksy sensibility. Whether represented by Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers’ nods for best new artist or the Black Keys and Mumford & Sons’ multiple nominations, they fulfill the Grammy’s need for authenticity and a respect for the music that came before it. 

*For the first time in several years, there is little overlap between the nominees for record of the year and song of the year:  In some years the lists have been largely identical, but this year only fun.’s “We Are Young”  and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” is on both. We’re not sure the voters really understand the difference since Carly Rae Jepsen’s should clearly be up for record of the year instead of song of the year. 

*Women were locked out of the album of the year categories in a year when there were several strong contenders, including Florence & The Machine’s “Ceremonials,” past Grammy fave Norah Jones’ “Little Broken Hearts,” and Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel....” (see more in our Winners and Losers photo gallery).

*Fun. and Frank Ocean are the new standard bearers. Fun represents just the sort of pop that the Grammy voters love: it’s wildly commercial, but it’s also smart, fun, well crafted and well presented, and it appeals to alternative fans as much as popsters. Frank Ocean is a voice that demands to be heard. “Channel Orange”  is filled with songs that are achingly vulnerable.

*The Grammy voters went for perceived substance over flash: How else do you explain the exclusion of Carly Rae Jepsen and One Direction from the best new artist category?

*In what world does Beyonce’s “Love On Top” count as a best traditional R&B performance instead of best R&B performance? Such a move once again shows how labels are eager to shoe horn an artist into a category where he/she stands the best chance of winning, not the category that necessarily best represents the work.  On the same note, it may be time to wave goodbye to the best traditional pop vocal album when two of the three (!!) nominations are for Christmas albums. Maybe Beyonce can squeeze in there somehow...

*Once again, the Grammy voters embrace a much broader range of country artists than the CMA or ACM voters ever would.  Grammy voters love to take non-commercial acts like the Time Jumpers or great Don Williams and give them nods.  They are wildly out of step with the much more commercial leaning country awards shows, but that might not be a bad thing.

What do you think of this year’s nominations?

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<p>One Direction</p>

One Direction

Credit: AP Photo

What's behind the One Direction snub by the Grammys?

Why was the boy band left out of the best new artist category?

Hear that sound? It’s the wailing of millions of tween and teenage girls, howling in righteous indignation that One Direction did not get a nod for best new artist tonight when the Grammy nominations were handed out.

To be sure, the Recording Academy’s relationship with boy bands has, to quote Katy Perry, run “hot and then cold.”  Some years, they’ve favored acts like Backstreet Boys, who were nominated for best new artist in 1999 or Boys II Men in 1992, but they ignored N’Sync and New Kids On The Block in the same category.

One Direction seemed like a sure bet... and a deserving one at that. Not only had their first album, “Up All Night” come in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making the group the first British band to ever bow at No. 1 with its debut album, the group played before tens of thousands of screaming girls every night. And they actually sound good. Though relatively sterile, their songs on catchy and well made. Not only were they locked out of best new artist, they were locked out of every pop category.

In a year when the best new artist nominees included Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers, it’s clear that the voters were looking for a grass-roots authenticity that One Direction does not have. It could also have hurt them that they were put together by Simon Cowell after the members individually auditioned on “The X Factor” in the U.K.

However, how do you explain Hunter Hayes’ nomination? Easy: He counts for the teen vote, and the country contingent coalesced behind him to push him. Plus, his win as best new artist at the Country Music Awards last month gave him a certain credibility among voters.

My vote would have gone to One Direction over Hayes, despite my fondness for his hit, “Wanted.”  Is nominating them any different than nominating Justin Bieber last year?

Though it’s very small consolation (and just more salt on the wound) to One Direction fans, had their beloved British boys gotten a nomination, there was no way they would have won. Despite nominations for the above mentioned—plus Hanson and Jonas Bros. in years past—for the last 20 years, the Grammys have largely awarded best new artist to an act that has a much wider and more respected  (sorry) base than teen girls, instead handing the award to artists with a little more perceived gravitas, such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Zac Brown Band, Esperanza Spalding and Bon Iver. In fact, the Beatles were the closest thing to a boy band to win a best new artist Grammy. And that was in 1965. Whether the Grammys are still trying to make sure the Milli Vanilli fiasco never happens again or they just feel that boy bands aren't worthy, the result is the same.

So wipe your eyes, my One Direction fans. While we’re sure you’re wearing out your thumbs tweeting about the horrible miscarriage of justice done to 1D, just know they are in very good company and they will need your love all the more to see them through the dark days ahead.

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