Idina Menzel

'Frozen's' Idina Menzel scores high debut for new Broadway cast album, 'If/Then'

Highest charter since 'Rent' in 1996

Idina Menzel is a good luck charm for Broadway cast recordings.  The original cast album for “If/Then,” her current show, debuts at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 today.

That makes it the highest debut for a Broadway cast album since 1996 when “Rent,” which also starred Menzel, debuted at No. 19, according to Billboard. “If/Then” sold 15,000 copies in its first week, as opposed to “Rent’s” 43,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Only four original Broadway cast albums have hit the Top 20 in the last 30 years:  the other two didn’t star Menzel: “The Book of Mormon,” and “Dreamgirls.”

As much success Menzel has on Broadway, her greatest success has come in movie soundtracks:  Her Oscar-winning song “Let It Go,”  from “Frozen,” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the “Frozen” soundtrack  stayed No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for more than a dozen weeks.  It is this year’s top-selling album of 2014 so far, having sold 2.6 million copies since Jan. 1 (2.9 million total).

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Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy' continues to rule the charts

Sam Smith scores his first Top 10

Iggy Azalea continues to rule the Billboard Hot 100 as her first single, “Fancy,” featuring Charli XCX, holds at No. 1, and Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” on which she’s featured, stays at No. 2.

She’s not the only newcomer in the top 10: British singer Sam Smith, who wowed American audiences with his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this Spring, lands his first top 10 as his ballad, “Stay With Me,” rockets 19-10. And there’s more good news for Smith: Disclosure’s “Latch,” on which hs sings, rises 22-17. (His first Hot 100 appearance— as a guest on Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” falls to 41, after peaking at No. 19).

As for the rest of the top 10: John Legend’s “All of Me,” holds at No. 3, while DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What”  remains at No. 4.

Jason DeRulo’s “Wiggle,” featuring Snoop Dogg, shimmies 10-5. Pharrell WIlliams’ “Happy” slides 5-6. Canadian pop quartet’s “Magic” moves 8-7, while fellow newbies Nico & Vinz” falls 6-8 with “Am I Wrong.”  Calvin Harris’s “Summer” stays at No. 9.

 

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Brian Wilson

Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, Zooey Deschanel are on Brian Wilson's new album

Why this news is upsetting fans and what Wilson has to say about it

 

Brian Wilson’s new album features the Beach Boys legend collaborating with such artists as Kacey Musgraves, Lana Del Ray and Zooey Deschanel, as well as, possibly, Frank Ocean.

After Wilson broke the news on his website yesterday, citing an upcoming story in Rolling Stone, not all of his fans responded to the news positively. And that hurt Wilson’s feelings and made him mad.

Last night, he sent out a message— in total “Brianspeak” to the naysayers via Facebook:


To my fans: it kind of bums me out to see some of the negativity here about the album I’ve been working so hard on. In my life in music, I’ve been told too many times not to fuck with the formula, but as an artist it’s my job to do that – and I think I’ve earned that right.
I’m really proud of these new songs and to hear these great artists sing on them just blows me away. I love what we’ve done.
I would think that after making music for more than fifty years, my fans would understand that I’ll always do what’s in my heart – and I think that’s why you are my fans. So let’s just wait until the album comes out because I think you just might dig it as much as I do.
Love and Mercy, Brian

It’s hard not to agree with Wilson here. HIs fans haven’t even heard the music. While we’re sure he’d like to reach a younger fan base through these artists, his legacy is secure without having to resort to such tactics, so that probably isn’t the only reason for his reaching out. Plus, he also worked with such contemporaries as Jeff Beck (most likely before they went on tour together since Beck didn’t like how that turned out) and fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks on the new album, so he’s not pandering to a younger demographic. If his work with these acts helps a new generation learn about his music, then what’s the harm in that? No matter how old they are, every music fan needs to have “Pet Sounds” in his/her collection. It’s as essential as any Beatles album, so if singing with Lana Del Rey makes it happen and the song isn’t total schlock, why not?

No word yet on when the new album will be released.

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Soundgarden

Members of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Off! form side group

When can you expect to hear music?

 

Members of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age and Off! have formed a new unnamed side project and have already recorded the basis for 10 songs.

The group is Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd, Soundgarden/Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron,  Off!’s Dimitri Coats, and Alain Johannes, best known for his work with QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures, and Eleven.

Coats will be the primarily vocalist, he told Billboard, with Johannes also contributing vocals. The ad-hoc group has Facebook to thank for its formation. Coats says he sent Cameron a Facebook note complimenting him on his drumming and Cameron wrote back that he was a big Coats fan and told him about a side project that he, Shepherd and Johannes started in 2008. Coats mentioned he’d love to be part of it and shortly thereafter jointed the guys in Seattle and began laying down tracks.

“ I think we’re all in situations in our band where we may not get to express ourselves fully the way we want to and this is an opportunity to let some of those other colors out in our songwriting,” said Coats, who describes the band’s music as “heavy and doomy…There’s some kind of heavy, bluesy moments and then there’s some really beautiful stuff too. It’s a little bit like ‘Superunknown,’ that kind of era of Soundgarden, mixed with Alain’s kind of Stevie Wonder vibe.”

No release date is planned, nor does Coats know when the band will finish recording as Off!, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden are all on the road this summer.

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Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Fallon

Jennifer Lopez threatens Jimmy Fallon in latest 'Tight Pants' episode

As if he ever stood a chance....


Jennifer Lopez might not be able to get herself to Brazil to perform at the opening ceremonies for the World Cup on Thursday, but she and her tight pants found their way to “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” last night.

In his latest episode of “Tight Pants,” Fallon squares off against J-Lo, and, as you can imagine, it’s no contest. The sweet, well-intentioned Fallon is so out of his league that even though Lopez threatens to “cut him” if he doesn’t let her be the tightest pants in town, she wins the minute she walks out.

“Tight Pans” debuted with Fallon and Will Farrell two years ago, but it never gets old. Who will be the next one to challenge Fallon?

Lopez's new album, "A.K.A.," comes out June 17.

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Puff Daddy

Puff Daddy is apparently a 'Game of Thrones' fan in new video, 'I Want The Love': Watch

Too much excess is never enough

If you’re going to lavish love on Puff Daddy, do him a favor and do it while he’s still here to hear your praise.

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Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj keeps it classy in 'Pills N Potions' video: Watch

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Check out which rapper shows up for silent support

 

The re-birthing of Nicki Minaj as a class act—as opposed to the multi-colored cartoon mess we first met a few years ago — is complete with the video for “Pills N Potions,” released today.

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Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull

UPDATED: Jennifer Lopez pulls out of World Cup performance of 'We Are One (Ole Ola)'

Superstar gives no reason for leaving Pitbull and Claudia Leitte in a lurch

UPDATED:( June 11):  A day after FIFA announced Lopez's cancellation, she is back in. According to People magazine, Lopez's reps now say that Lopez will be in Brazil to perform with Pitbull and Leitte.

 

Jennifer Lopez will leave her song mates Pitbull and Claudia Leitte holding the ball —soccer ball, that is— in Brazil this week.

The trio was set to perform the official 2014 World Cup theme, “We Are One (Ole Ola),” together on Thursday (12) in Sao Paulo during the opening ceremonies, previous to Brazil’s first match with Croatia.

News of Lopez’s withdrawal began to spread Sunday and while some outlets blamed it on production issues (which sounds fishy given that Pitbull and Brazilian artist Leitte are still performing), in an official statement to CNN, her rep merely confirms that Lopez “will not be attending this year’s World Cup opening ceremonies,” without giving a reason for the change. Maybe she's too busy promoting her new album, "A.K.A.," which comes out June 17.
 

As far back as January, Pitbull released a statement about how pleased he was to join Lopez and Leitte “at the FIFA World Cup to bring the world together.”

The trio performed the song at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards in May to open the show and the song was almost universally panned for its lack of Brazilian feel and reliance on cliches. Its reception was in sharp contrast to the positive reception Shakira’s 2010 official World Cup track, “Waka Waka” received.

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"Lazaretto" album cover

Review: Jack White's invigorating new album, 'Lazaretto'

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He shows off his feral and gentle sides

With his second solo album, “Lazaretto,” out Tuesday (10), Jack White continues on his exploration of American music. For all his talk of condemning others for being musical magpies, he proves to be quite one himself on the set:  Whether he’s recalling Howling Wolf or The Band or even Lynyrd Skynrd, it’s easy to trace the new creation back to its musical forbearers.

Where White’s true talent lies is that he’s able to assimilate so many different styles into his music. “Lazaretto” works also most as two different albums: there are the gentle country-influenced acoustic tracks and the feral, primal, razor-edged electric tunes and he sells both of them with equal conviction. For the most part, both tread the same lyrical band: a sense of isolation that, in some cases, quietly creeps in and other times, announces its arrival with unrestrained howls.

As acclaimed a guitarist as White is, much of the album relies on stellar keyboard work. White sounds more comfortable here than he did on 2012’s “Blunderbuss.” The stylistic shifts may be jarring for some, but fans of White’s should be pretty used to his ability to be a Jack (White) of all trades by now.

Below is a track-by-track review:

“Three Women”: Sounding like a cross between The Band, Dr. John, and Lynyrd Skynyrd on this barrel-house piano blues rocker, White brags about the three women in his life who come visit him every night. Sure, it’s a big confusing keeping everyone happy, but he seems to be juggling just fine. It’s a fine, high energy kick off to the album: GRADE: B+

“Lazaretto”: Frenetic, jerky, fuzzy track that’s all about White’s kinetic electric guitar work and his jagged vocal delivery.  Full of bleeps and effects, and an unexpected fiddle break, the title track is the album’s most lacerating track. GRADE: B

“Temporary Ground”: A beautiful, country-tinged acoustic track that examines a God that would leave here letting us believe we’ve found a safe haven when we’re really only on temporary ground.  “All the creatures have it hard now/Nothing but God is left to know/ Why he left us all here hanging with an illusion of a home,”   White sings as he trades lyrics with Lillie Mae Rische. A gorgeous alt-country tune that brings in acoustic guitars, fiddles, mandolin and pedal steel, while still sounding contemporary (with a nod back to very, very early Elton John).  GRADE: A-

“Would You Fight For My Love”:  “I’m getting better at becoming a ghost,” White declares on this mid-tempo, dense track about getting shattered by love. Lyrically, he’s most vulnerable than we usually hear him. Musically, he’s all over the map here from new wave to operatic background singers to screeching guitars. It’s a very busy tune and instead of his vocals sounding interesting, he just sounds like a David Byrne wanna be. GRADE: B-

“High Ball Stepper”: An woozy, psychedelic instrumental track that lets White show off his guitar chops and serves as a palate cleanser between the first and second halves of “Lazeretto.”  GRADE: B-

“Just One Drink”: Straight-ahead country rocker that would have sounded right at home on a Georgia Satellites album. He loves her, but she doesn’t love him…same old story told in a familiar, but still refreshing way. GRADE: B+

“Alone In My Home”: Genial alt country track with White singing in a straight ahead style that we don’t normally hear. He’s once again broken and he again, as in “Would You Fight For My Love,” references becoming a ghost “so nobody can known me.”  As jaunty as the playful piano may be, the lyrics are about isolating and escaping pain. GRADE: B

“Entitlement”: The alt country roll continues on this track that crosses Wilco with the Jayhawks. Lyrically he takes on those who can “take like Caesar and nobody cares” and how, despite being one of the entitled ones, he can’t quite do the same.  “Stop what you’re doing and get back in line/I hear this from people all the time,” he bemoans. It’s a damned-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t song set to a nice mandolin that comes to a nice resolution. GRADE: B-

“That Black Bat Licorice”: A slinky, creeping track that finds White rhyming names like Columbo and Dumbo (the NYC neighborhood, not the baby elephant) in a trippy/, shape-shifting tune. Weird but it somehow works. GRADE: B-

“I Think I Found The Culprit”: “Birds of a feather may lay together/but the uglier one is always under the gun,” White sings as love and betrayal takes on the form of two birds on a windowsill. GRADE: B

“Want and Able”: White ends the album with a sloping, country parable that sounds very much like a Avett Brothers track: Want is never satisfied and always looking for more, while Able is the freedom to carry out our desires. GRADE: B

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Psy and Snoop Dogg

Psy and Snoop Dogg party like rock stars in 'Hangover' video

And they look darn good doing it

You have to give Psy credit, the Korean rapper continues to parlay his international fame that started with 2012’s “Gangnam Style” on little more than a few clever dance moves, not-particularly catchy, bleating beats, and videos that spread virally like wildfire.

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