<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: NBC

Listen to Bruno Mars' and Green Day's new albums one week early

Both sets are streaming now

Tre,” the third in Green Day’s fall trilogy of albums, doesn’t drop until Dec. 11, but fans can hear the album in its entirety starting today on the band’s website.

Originally slated to come out in January, “Tre” follows “Uno,” which came out in September, and “Dos,” released in November.  The group moved up the album’s release as a treat for the fans after Green Day had to cancel most of the promo activities around the release of the trilogy due to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s decision to enter rehab.

“Quatro,” a documentary about the making of the trilogy, recently premiered on VH1. A longer version will be released in 2013.

Additionally, Bruno Mars’ sophomore set, “Unorthodox Jukebox,” which includes the hit “Locked Out Of Heaven,” also begins streaming today, a week before its release. Hear it here.  Yesterday, Mars previewed another song from the album, the beautiful “When I Was Your Man.”

We’ll have full reviews of both albums next week.




 

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Listen: Bruno Mars breaks your heart with 'When I Was Your Man'
Credit: Atlantic Records

Listen: Bruno Mars breaks your heart with 'When I Was Your Man'

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It's too late to turn back now

When Bruno Mars called his debut album “Doo Wops and Hooligans,” it was clear this was a young artist with a strong sense of the musical history that had gone before him.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Ke$ha's &quot;Warrior&quot;</p>

Ke$ha's "Warrior"

Credit: RCA Records

Album Review: Ke$ha's looking for nothing but a good time on 'Warrior'

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The night goes on forever on her new set

On 2010’s “Animal”and its companion follow-up, “Cannibal,” Ke$ha sounded like a bratty little sister to Pink and Katy Perry. On “Warrior,”  out Dec. 4, she makes her bid to push them out of the way for good and makes a case for her disposable, of-the-moment, liquor-soaked, trashy pop.

Ke$ha’s music provides the template for wanna-be party girls, who start to get itchy for the weekend around Wednesday afternoon. Just like those girls, who teeter precariously on 6-inch stilettos about to topple over outside of clubs that won’t let them in, her music feels just as precarious. It’s well-crafted in its patchwork fashion, but feels like it could fall apart at any moment and won’t be remembered in the headachy haze of Sunday morning’s hangover.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The Killers' &quot;I Feel It In My Bones&quot;</p>

The Killers' "I Feel It In My Bones"

Listen: The Killers' new Christmas single 'I Feel It In My Bones'

Festive romp benefits charity

Christmas brings with it mistletoe, egg nog, elves, Santa, and, for the last six years, a charity single from The Killers.

The Las Vegas-based group revealed its seven annual stocking stuffer, “I Feel It In My Bones,” over the weekend on Rollingstone.com. In the retro, ringing, ‘80s  guitar-driven rocker, Brandon Flowers is writing his annual letter to Santa, and their relationship has been, to put it bluntly, a little rocky. Santa still thinks he’s been a little more naughty than nice and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to talk him out of delivering a lump of coal.

“Hey Kringle, you mean to say when you were young, it never got wild,” Flowers calls out to Santa, who’s having none of it and has decided to make an example out of this bad boy.  

Amid the ringing sleigh bells and hollow-sounding “Ho, ho, ho,” this Santa has one heck of a sinister laugh going on that would even give the Grinch the willies.

The band’s drummer, Ronnie Vannucci, told NME that the song is a “reworking” of a demo from  “Battle Born” writing sessions. "This song was basically started a while back and we just finished it and changed it into more of a Christmas song. It was mixed by Alan Moulder, he did it when we were over in the UK a couple of weeks ago."

The big-hearted (if not-big boned) rockers will donate all proceeds from the sale of the song to (RED), which fights the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. It will be available starting Dec. 4 on iTunes.  A video, shot in both the U.K. and Las Vegas, will be released shortly.

Hear the track here.

 

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<p>Rihanna</p>

Rihanna

Credit: John Shearer/AP

Music Power Rankings: Rihanna, Michael Jackson, and Adele top the list

Dr. Dre makes the list too, but not for making music

1. Rihanna: It took seven albums in seven years to get there, but Rihanna finally grabs the brass ring:  “Unapologetic” is her first album to land at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

2. Michael Jackson:
“Thriller” turns 30. The best-selling U.S. studio album of all time has aged remarkably gracefully. The way it makes us feel? Still thrilling after all these years.

3. Dr. Dre: He tops Forbes list of the highest-paid musicians in 2012 with $110 million. Did he achieve this feat by putting out an album or touring this year? No, he did not. He did it from selling his Beats headphone line. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

4. Adele: “21,” the British singer’s sophomore set, hits Diamond status in the U.S. for sales of more than 10 million. In a lovely bit of synchronicity, it is the 21st album to achieve that milestone since the launch of SoundScan in 1991.

5. Psy: The S. Korean rapper ponies his way to the top of YouTube as “Gangnam Style” becomes the most watched video ever on the internet channel, surpassing 830 million. Dropping to second place? Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Oh baby, baby, baby.

6. Pussy Riot: The jailed Russian trio are up for Time’s Person of the Year. We don’t think they should win, but we certainly hope they beat fellow nominee “Shades of Grey” author E.L. James.
 
7. Gotye: In addition to sweeping the Australian ARIA Awards, his breakthrough hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know,”  is Spotify’s top song of the year. Somebody just make an extra .95 cents in streaming royalties.

8. Rolling Stones: The Glimmer Twins, plus some Stones old and new, kick off their very limited 50th anniversary tour in London and they all are still standing...even Keef.

9. Rod Stewart: His “Merry Christmas Baby” is looking like the holiday album of the season for 60+ crowd. Now get off my lawn and pass the eggnog.

10. Swizz Beatz:
The producer/recording artist announces that he will just release singles from now on instead of albums. Wait, he’s released albums before?

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<p>Alicia Keys performs</p>

Alicia Keys performs

Credit: Michael Probst/AP

Alicia Keys is a 'Girl On Fire' atop next week's Billboard 200

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the top 10

Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” will be the only new entry into Billboard 200’s Top 10 next week, but it will enter with style, debuting at No. 1 with sales of up to 160,000.

Rod Stewart’s holiday album, “Merry Christmas Baby,” is looking like the holiday hit of the season as it climbs to No. 2, racking up another 140,000 copies to add to its already impressive three-week tally of close to 280,000, according to Hits Daily Double. ‘Tis the season as three other Christmas titles are also in the top 10: a new edition of Michael Buble’s “Christmas” will likely be at No. 7 with sales of 75,000, closely followed by Lady Antebellum’s “On This Winter’s Night” at No. 8 (65,000-70,000) and Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” at No. 9 (60,000). Shelton’s album will likely see a nice bump the following week after his NBC Christmas special airs on Dec. 3.

This week’s No. 1 album, Rihanna’s “Unapologetic,” tumbles five places to No. 6 (or possibly No. 7; she and Buble are too close to project). Taylor Swift’s “Red” will be at No. 3 with sales of up to 130,000.

“American Idol” champ Phillip Phillips’ debut, “The World From The Side of The Moon,” continues to sell well to last at No. 4, outpacing One Direction’s “Take Me Home,” which falls to No. 5. Rounding out the top 10 is Kid Rock’s “Rebel Soul,” which drops to No. 10.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

5 Things to expect from Dec. 5's Grammy Awards nominations

Who will be the leading nominees?

When the nominations for the 55th annual Grammy Awards are announced on Wednesday, Dec. 5,  expect to hear a few names over and over.

This marks the second Grammy Awards since governing body NARAS  scaled down the number of categories from 109 to 78, which means a lot more artists are competing for a lot fewer slots. For example, instead of separate male and female pop performance categories, there is now only a best pop solo performance category.  In rock, best hard rock and best metal performance categories are now combined.

 A number of nominations will be announced during the “Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night,” which airs at 10 P.M. ET, with the whole list of nominations online immediately after the hour-long special’s conclusion. LL Cool J and Taylor Swift will host the special. Among the performers are The Who, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley Maroon 5, Ne-Yo, Luke Bryan and fun.

Here are a few things to look out for on Wednesday:

*It will be a shoot-out at the pop corral this year.  As pure pop has come back into vogue over the last 18 months,  expect the best pop solo performance and best pop vocal album categories to both be packed with huge names and with several worthy contenders left out. Between Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,”  Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake,” Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been”  and/or “Diamonds,”  Phillip Phillips’ “Home,” Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You,” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” it’s an embarrassment of riches in the best pop solo performance category alone.

*Some of the year’s biggest country albums,
including Taylor Swift’s “Red” and Jason Aldean’s “Night Train,” came out after the eligibility period. The big country nominee on Dec. 5 will be Miranda Lambert. Look for “Four The Record” to snag a nod for country album of the year (and possibly album of the year), as well as best country solo performance and best country song for “Over You.” 

*Frank Ocean will be one of the leading nominees
: No, “Channel Orange” didn’t become a blockbuster seller, but it is an incredibly well-made and strong album that critics loved with a broad base of appeal spanning pop, rock, R&B and pop.  Look for Ocean to walk away with at least five nominations, including album of the year and best new artist, as well as some potential R&B nods. Also keep an eye out for Florence & The Machine, who, if the wind's blowing right, could also snag five nominations, including album of the year for "Ceremonials." 

*It hasn’t been a particularly strong year for rock groups:
Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto” is eligible, but there’s nothing new from such standbys as  U2 or Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters. Look for Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys and Mumford & Sons to dominate in the best rock performance, best rock song and best rock album categories.

*Expect potential surprises from Imagine Dragons, 2Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, fun., the Lumineers, Ellie Goulding and Miguel. Right now, I’m expecting each of these acts to get one or two nominations, but one of them could be a wild card and score up to four.

Check out my predictions for song of the year, record of the year, best new artist and album of the year.

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<p>Metallica</p>

Metallica

Credit: AP Photo

Metallica bows own label after regaining master recordings

What does it mean for the metal meisters?

Metallica has regained its catalog from Warner Music Group and launched its own label, Blackened Recordings.

Metallica has long wanted control of its master recordings. In 1994, the heavy metal group sued WMG’s Elektra Entertainment, its home since 1984, under California’s “seven-year statute.”  The statute, used primarily for actors, was invoked by a number of artists in the mid-‘90s seeking to get out of their music contracts. All of the cases settled and the law  remained untested as to if it pertains to music acts as well.

In that 1994 settlement,  Metallica received one of its main goals: to restructure its deal to form a joint venture with the label for future music and video releases.  It would now also appear that the deal included the reversion of Metallica’s masters to the band. In 2004, Metallica switched from Elektra (which was folded into Atlantic)  to WMG sister label, Warner Bros.

The first release through Blackened Recordings will come in less than two weeks, when the band puts out the live concert DVD/Blu-Ray “Quebec Magnetic.”

“You may have heard us say it once or twice or a thousand times before, but it’s always been about us taking control of all things ‘Tallica to give you 110% on every single level every single time,” posted the band in a statement on its website. “Forming Blackened Recordings is the ultimate in independence, putting us in the driver’s seat of our own creative destiny. We’re looking forward to making more music and getting it all out to you in our own unique way.”

Metallica, who started its own music festival, Orion, this year,  is the perfect act to proceed on its own.  Other than advance money, there’s not a lot that a major label could offer the band now that it can’t provide on its own and given its years of success, Metallica probably has all the money it needs to front its own projects. Plus, while the band still receives radio play, it doesn’t need the mighty machinery of a major label promotion team behind it: the group can hire indie promoters next time it has a song to push to radio.

Regaining control of its masters also allows the band to repackage the music in any way it sees fit to present to its loyal fans. We’ve already seen more and more veteran acts who have build up their own following not resign with major labels and expect more in the future.

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: Atlantic

What are the top contenders for Grammy's song of the year?

Will tunes by Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz make the cut?

Which five tunes will receive coveted song of the year nods when the Grammy nominations are announced Dec. 5?

Song of the year, along with best new artist, record of the year, and album of the year, compose The Big Four. The entire Grammy voting body can vote on these awards and that can tend to skew the results in favor of the most mainstream entries.

The winner for song of the year and all the other awards will be announced at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Feb. 10 on CBS.

To be eligible a song must have been released between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012. People often, understandably, confuse record of the year with song of the year. Record of the year goes to the artist, producer, recording engineer and/or mixer, whereas song of the year’s sole recipient is the songwriter. Therefore, when thinking about the song of the year contenders, I usually think about how the song would sound if it were performed only on a piano or an acoustic guitar with no other embellishment.

In recent years, there’s been great overlap between the song of the year and record of the year nominees. For example, this February, four of the five nominees were the same in both categories. In 2011, three out of the five were the same.

My predictions, listed in alphabetical order, have some duplication, but I also included songs that I thought met my sniff test above but wouldn't necessarily be record of the year contenders.


“Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen:
This piece of pop culture led to so many imitators and most of them held up. That’s a sign of s strong, well constructed song. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s not simplistic.

“Gold On the Ceiling,”  The Black Keys:
  It may not be quite as catchy as “Tighten Up” but it’s still a retro, blues stomp that stands out from everything else on the radio.

“I Will Wait,” Mumford & Sons: Grammy favorites M & S craft songs that sound so good live, whether they are fully embellished or stripped down and “I Will Wait” is no exception. The banjo-led melody and the “I Will Wait” refrain create an instantly-memorable tune.

“I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz: No, it’s not as jaunty as former nominee “I’m Yours,” but this plaintive love song has staying power at radio. It also one of those tunes that doesn’t seem to have that much going for it at first, but repeated listenings reveal a hidden depth.

“Locked Out Of Heaven,” Bruno Mars: The Grammys love him and this song, without the stuttering, high-gloss production, would work as a stirring ballad.

“Payphone,” Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa:  Sure, it may be a little lightweight as a song, but it is so catchy that it could make it as a song of the year contender. Plus, the chorus was one of this year’s mightiest earworms.

“Spectrum,” Florence & The Machine: The song, co-written by Florence Welch and Adele’s producer/co-writer Paul Epworth, is grand and sweeping, growing from a shudder to a howl. Nothing else sounded like it this year.

“Thinkin’ Bout You,” Frank Ocean:
  Beautiful, provocative and sexy. Never a bad combination.

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift:  Not only did Swift try something new with the alternative pop melody, but the lyrics are some of her cleverest, even if she does seem like she’s 15.

“We Take Care Of Our Own,” Bruce Springsteen: In this election year, this song stood out as a statement about our country. We may feel divided, but when the chips are down, such as with Super Storm Sandy, we’ve proved over and over again that we do, indeed, take care of our own. And Springsteen’s song, which is an appeal to our higher selves says it beautifully.

Which songs do you think will be nominated on Dec. 5? 

 

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<p>Michael Jackson</p>

Michael Jackson

Happy Birthday 'Thriller!': 5 Ways Michael Jackson's set changed everything

His masterpiece turns 30 on Nov. 30

Nov. 30th marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the best selling studio album in the United States.

Not only was the album a blockbuster that forever sealed Jackson’s fate as one of the most legendary pop artists of all time, it changed the music industry in ways that are still being felt today, three decades later.

Here’s five ways that “Thriller” forever altered the pop landscape:

1. “Thriller” was the first blockbuster title to release seven songs as singles to radio. Until “Thriller,” labels usually put out three or four singles and then the artist went back into the studio to work on the next album. While seven singles is still a stretch for most artists, many superstars routinely go five or six singles deep on an album.

2. “Thriller” was the first major release to come out around the world simultaneously. Previously, release dates were often staggered to accommodate an act’s ability to be in the marketplace for promotional activities when the album came out.  Now, it’s the industry standard for a star with any kind of global reach to have his or her album out worldwide at the same time. In fact, now it’s common for the U.S. release date to move from its usual Tuesday standard release date to Monday to match the release date used by much of the rest of the world. Rihanna and Taylor Swift just did it with their chart toppers.

3. “Thriller” was one of the first albums to release simultaneous singles to different radio formats. After  “The Girl Is Mine” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Epic put out “Billie Jean” to the pop stations and while it was still climbing the charts, pushed “Beat It” to rock radio.

4. “Billie Jean” became the first video by a black superstar artist to be played on MTV (the channel had minimally played videos from a handful of black artists, such as Joan Armatrading). Epic’s parent, CBS, claims they had to threaten to yank all its artists off a then-18 month-old MTV if the channel didn’t play Jackson’s video. MTV says they were always going to play “Billie Jean.” Regardless of which side you believe, Jackson busted through any color barrier at MTV, altering the cable outlet’s programming for good.

5. After breaking down walls with the “Billie Jean” video, MTV and Jackson were close allies. When it came time to debut the 14-minute video for “Thriller,” which MTV paid $1 million for exclusive airing rights, the music channel aired the clip at five designated times per day. It thereby created the first “destination viewing” for a video clip.

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