<p>Muse's &quot;The 2nd Law&quot;</p>

Muse's "The 2nd Law"

Album Review: Muse holds nothing back on 'The 2nd Law'

Ambitious studio set aims big

Some bands hide their pretensions of grandiosity. Muse would not be one of those bands. Like Queen, the British rockers have a flare for the dramatic and their guitars seem to be perpetually set on stun.

On the group’s sixth studio album, “The 2nd Law,” lead singer Matt Bellamy and the band take the listener on a journey surrounded with prog-rock power chords, shrieking vocals and lyrics filled with heavy portent. And that’s just on the album opener, the Led Zeppelin-influenced “Supremacy.”

Muse’s overwrought flamboyance has helped make it one of the most popular touring bands of the last several years. But what works well with 18,000 fervent followers with raised arms in an arena can just sound like too much excess in the confines of an album. With its operatic chants and message about vengeance, explosive first single (and Olympics theme) “Survival” felt more like a parody  than a true anthem. The band toned down the theatrics for second single, the synth-poppy “Madness” and was rewarded with a No. 1 tune on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.

While the album’s volume and thrust is set to 11 the majority of the time, there are moments of loveliness and surprise on “The 2nd Law.” (The album takes its title from The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states a object that keeps growing cannot sustain expansion and will eventually dissolve...or something like that)

“Panic Station” has a sprightly Franz Ferdinand-like bounce that will delight fans of the band’s pop side. The first part of “Animal” features a strong  jazz-meet-Rush guitar lead by Bellamy that pierces through the song. On jaunty “Big Freeze,” Bellamy recalls David Bowie on “Heroes.”

“Explorers”  is Muse at its most majestic Queen-like, as Bellamy channels Freddie Mercury as he chants “Free me from this world...it was a mistake, prisoning ourselves.” Plus, the lulling piano end will remind any Queen fan of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

For a band that wears so many of its influences on its sleeve, Muse still ends up coming up with its own brand of explosive rock that draws on metal, pop, and, at times here, even funk. Bellamy’s clear, powerhouse vocals tie it all together.

 But when Muse gets too inside its own geek-boy mythology, it is severely testing the limits of all but its most devoted fans. On the two-song closing “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” and “The 2nd Law: Isolated System” suite, the noise level ratchets up as a voice actually reads the thermodynamic law.” The cacophony gives way to a “Tubular Bells”-type second movement before the voices come back, filled with doom about an economic collapse (based on the same theory as the law).

“The 2nd Law” will likely have Muse fans salivating over the group’s continued bombastic musical salvos, while non-believers will have plenty more to hold against the band.


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<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP

Music Power Rankings: Lil Wayne leads Mumford and Katy Perry

Country royalty George Strait and Reba McEntire make the list too

1.  Lil Wayne:
Weezy surpasses Elvis Presley for the most appearances by any artist on the Billboard Hot 100 (there are caveats galore here). We can’t wait to hear Lil Wayne’s version of “Love Me Tender.” 

2. Mumford & Sons: The British folk rock group will take “Babel” to the top of the Billboard 200 next week with the highest first-week sales of the year. If you stacked up 600,000 CDs, would they be as high as the Tower of Babel?

3. Katy Perry: Billboard names the California Gurl its Woman of the Year.

4. George Strait:  Country’s King George announces that he will retire from touring in 2014. He’ll always be king of our hearts, just no longer king of the road.

5. Reba McEntire: After hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards consecutively since 1999 (and for the last two with Blake Shelton), the legendary country artist hangs up her hosting shingle.

6. Sony /ATV:  Apple may seem unstoppable, but it would appear that’s not the case: According to several published reports, the world’s largest music publisher, Sony/ATV, halted Apple in its tracks from introducing its streaming service via the iPhone 5 after they couldn’t agree on a rate schedule.

7. Lyor Cohen:
Warner Music Group’s gruff and tough chairman/CEO steps down to reportedly start his own talent management firm. Good luck to the labels who will now deal with him on the opposite side of the negotiations table.

8. Universal Music Group:
  UMG completes its $1.9 billion purchase of EMI after more than a year vetting by various territory’s regulatory commissions.  Wait... we’re still haven’t heard from Lichtenstein.

9. The Beatles:  The newly remastered Beatles albums will come out on vinyl for their first time in November. Let the magical mystery tour begin anew.

10. Jay-Z:
He kicked off the first of his 8-night residency at Brooklyn’s brand new Barclays Center on Friday night. SInce he’s a minority investor in the arena, it’s the same thing as a house gig, right?

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<p>Mumford &amp; Son's &quot;Babel&quot;</p>

Mumford & Son's "Babel"

Mumford & Sons will handily top next week's Billboard 200 with 'Babel'

Where do Green Day and No Doubt come in?

As we previously reported, Mumford & Sons are set to have the biggest debut week of 2012, as “Babel” is on target to sell as many as 615,000 copies. That will handily top this year's current record holder: Justin Bieber's "Believe," which sold 374,00 in its opening frame.

That tally is four times that of its nearest competitor, Green Day’s “Uno,” which will sell up to 170,000 copies to come in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, according to Hits Daily Double.

Three other debuts join them in the top 10: No Doubt’s “Push and Shove” will comes in at No. 3 with 125,000 sold, Lupe Fiasco’s “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap”  at No. 5 and deadmau5’s “Album Title Goes Here” (yes, that’s really the name) at No. 7.

This week’s No. 1 album, Pink’s “The Truth About Love” drops to No. 4, which this week’s runner up, G.O.O.D Music’s “Cruel Summer” falls to No. 6. 

Rounding out the top 10 are Dave Matthews Band’s “Away From the World” at No. 8, The Killers’ “Battle Born” at No. 9 and Little Big Town’s “Tornado” at No. 10.

Bolstered by excitement from “Babel’s” release, Mumford & Sons’ first album, “Sigh No More” rockets back up to No. 11.


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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Credit: NBC

Nicki Minaj lands three-part series on E! in November

Will Roman Zolanski come out to play?

Sorry Barbz, It turns out that Nicki Minaj is not getting a reality series, as had been rumored for the last few weeks, but she will be coming to a TV near you for at least three weeks.

E! will air  three specials on Minaj in November that will revolve around her professional and personal life, according to Idolator.  Does this mean we’ll see her and Mariah Carey cat fighting backstage at “American Idol?” Will her alter ego Roman Zolanski make an appearance? Let’s face it, with Minaj, you know it won’t be dull.

The three-part series will air around the release of “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded —The Re-Up.”

Minaj’s previous TV experiences include her 2010 MTV special, “My Time Now.”

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<p>Mumford &amp;&nbsp;Sons' &quot;Babel&quot;</p>

Mumford & Sons' "Babel"

Credit: Glassnote Records

Mumford & Sons head for record week on Billboard 200

'Babel' will tower above previous first-week sales tallies for 2012

There’s still four days before the chart reporting week closes, but look for Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” to score the largest debut of 2012 next week.

The British group’s sophomore set, released Sept. 25, may sell as much as 600,000 copies  in its opening frame, according to Billboard. That total would handily topple the previous biggest 2012 debut, Justin Bieber’s “Believe,” which sold 374,000.

The sum will also be the largest opening week  for a rock act since AC/DC sold 784,000 with “Black Ice” in 2008.

“Babel’s” predecessor, “Sigh No More,” has sold 2.5 million in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.

So why is this happening? Although album sales are definitely losing ground to single downloads, there are still certain acts whose fans want to hear their complete body of work as the artist intended for it to be heard. This is usually the case for a rock act, like Radiohead or Coldplay, who is not as dependent on Top 40 radio and pop support as a superstar like Rihanna or Katy Perry. While such artists’ albums sell well, the bulk of their sales has switched over the digital singles sales.  That’s not to say that all the radio play that M&S received so far on “I Will Wait,” which is at No. 2 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs Chart, and the band’s stop at “Saturday Night Live” this week don’t deserve credit as well.

The pop exception (other than Adele) is Taylor Swift. We fully expect "Red," which comes out Oct. 22, to blow past 600,000 in its first week, despite the fact that her singles immediately top iTunes sales chart as soon as they become available and the album's first single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together " has already sold more than 1 million copies in the month since its release.

Read our review of “Babel” here.

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Listen: Soundgarden's snarly new single, 'Been Away Too Long'
Credit: Universal Republic

Listen: Soundgarden's snarly new single, 'Been Away Too Long'

First single from 'King Animal' rules

That’s more like it. After Soundgarden returned earlier this year with the perfect pleasant but rather generic "Live To Rise"  from “The Avengers,” today we got a better taste of what to expect on “King Animal,” the band’s first album since 1996’s “Down On the Upside.”

“Been Away Too Long” is a hard-charging, snarling rock blast with a wicked little Middle Eastern guitar lick that inserts itself briefly before it sounds like someone starts banging on a trashcan lid.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Bruno Mars in new teaser</p>

Bruno Mars in new teaser

Watch: Bruno Mars announces 'Heavenly' new single drop date

in the meantime, enjoy him in shiny gold shorts

We haven’t heard much from Bruno Mars since his dazzling performance at this year's Grammys, but the  "Just The Way You Are" singer is  about to come back. The producer/songwriter/singer returns Oct. 1 with his new single, “Locked Out Of Heaven.”  There's no official word on when the follow-up album to 2011's "DooWops and Hooligans" will come out, although Mars tweeted that he has finished the set.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Ellie Goulding's 'I Know You Care' video with a dying Dakota Fanning

Watch: Ellie Goulding's 'I Know You Care' video with a dying Dakota Fanning

Stirring footage from film 'Now Is Good' propels story line

Bring the hankies. Ellie Goulding’s new video for “I Know You Care” pulls on your heartstrings as Dakota Fanning stars as a terminally ill young woman.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: AP Photo

Kelly Clarkson, Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley set to perform on CMA Awards

Little Big Town also confirmed for Nov. 1 country awards show

Kelly Clarkson, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Little Big Town are the first performers confirmed to appear on the 46th Annual CMA Awards, which will air Nov. 1 on ABC.

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host for the fifth time, as the show airs live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena at 8 p.m. ET.

All of the announced performers will be vying for trophies come Nov. 1, including Aldean and Bentley, both of whom are up for three awards.


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<p>Maroon 5</p>

Maroon 5

Credit: AP Photo

Maroon 5's 'One More Night' holds one more week on the Billboard Hot 100

The songs fends off a hard-charging 'Gangnam Style'

Maroon 5’s “One More Night” gets one more week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, but will have to hold off a charge from Psy’s “Gangnam Style” if it wants to make it three.

“One More Night” gains in radio play, streaming strength and single sales—the three components that factor into the Hot 100 stats— but  “Gangnam Style” is nipping at its heels. In fact, “Gangnam Style” sold more digital downloads this week than “One More Night” and  radio stations are galloping to add the novelty song by the South Korean rapper.

Fun.’s” Some Nights” stays at No. 3, while Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” falls 2-4. Pink, who celebrates her first No. 1 album today with “The Truth About Love” stays at No. 5 on The Hot 100 with “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).”

Flo Rida’s “Whistle” blows 4-6, while Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” featuring Big Sean also drops 6-7. Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Good Time” climbs one spot to No. 8, swapping places with Alex Clare’s “Too Close.” Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” falls 7-10.

This week’s highest debut belongs to "The Voice" judge Christina Aguilera, whose “Your Body” bows at No. 34.

Next week, look for high debuts from Swift’s new single, “Begin Again,”  as well as Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”

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