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...]

Read Full Post
<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.


 

Read Full Post
<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.”

Read Full Post
<p>Rihanna</p>

Rihanna

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Rihanna's new single, 'Diamonds'

HitFix
B
Readers
A-
Does it sparkle or is it a lump of coal?

Katy Perry has her “Firework,” Nicki Minaj has her “Starships” and now Rihanna has her “Diamonds.”

On her sparkly new Stargate-produced single, she revels in the love she’s found and how together, she and her man, “are beautiful like diamonds in the sky" as they see "eye to eye." It may be her most optimistic single since "Umbrella." 

At this point, Rihanna has become a hit factory, predictably churning out an album every fall, from which a handful of singles tumble out.  There’s a consistently there that is admirable, but more so, she and her phalanx of producers have kept up a level of quality and diversity.

“Diamonds” is bolstered by a military beat that builds and the refrain “Shine bright like a diamond,” that Rihanna robotically sings between the choruses. There’s no rapping, only Rihanna singing against the drum beat. Her voice remains limited, but effectively expresses the hope that she feels  in the relationship. Toward the end, her delivery of the refrain breaks free to soar over the other elements in the song, effectively ending the song on an upbeat note.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;&iexcl;Uno!&quot;</p>

"¡Uno!"

Credit: Reprise

Album Review: Green Day's "Uno!" gets the party started

HitFix
B
Readers
A+
First in trilogy delivers aggression with a dance beat

“Uno!,” the first in a trilogy of albums coming from Green Day over the next four months, is a thoroughly enjoyable non-stop torpedo blast of catchy melodies, guitar riffs and propulsive drum blasts.

The trio told Billboard recently that in the schematic of the three new albums, “Uno!” was the album to play as you’re getting ready to go to the party. If so, batten down the hatches because it’s going to be a long night.

[More after the jump...]


Read Full Post
Watch: No Doubt's new clip for 'Push And Shove'

Watch: No Doubt's new clip for 'Push And Shove'

Fun in black and white

It’s the night of the living No Doubt. In the band’s video for “Push and Shove,” the title track to the group’s new album out today, the quartet runs through the city streets in a various outfits and in various speeds (depending upon the song’s varying tempos).

Gwen Stefani does the heavy lifting here since she’s lipsyncing most of the time, while her bandmates join in on the fun, including giving her a pink belly, but have left their instruments at home. The most work they do here is hefting a drink or two.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Taylor Swift's new song, 'Begin Again'

HitFix
A-
Readers
A+
Broken hearts can sometimes learn to love again

Following the energetic “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,”  Taylor Swift returns to her dreamier, country side with “Begin Again.”

The well-crafted acoustic ballad, bolstered by a gentle pedal steel and mandolin, tells the tale of a starting over while the scars of a past love affair have barely scabbed over and remain brutally raw.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>'Babel'</p>

'Babel'

Album Review: Mumford & Sons' 'Babel' towers over 'Sigh No More'

HitFix
A
Readers
A
Strong sophomore set highlights British band's musicianship

Mumford & Sons helped usher in a new acoustic rock movement two years ago with the release of the multi-platinum “Sigh No More.”

Utilizing primarily acoustic instruments such as banjos, mandolins, guitars and upright bass, Mumford & Sons created a ferocious, layered racket on hits like “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave” that had more in common with the most urgent rock tunes than folk or bluegrass.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Push and Shove&quot;</p>

"Push and Shove"

Credit: Interscope Records

Album Review: No Doubt returns in fine form on 'Push And Shove'

HitFix
B
Readers
A+
SoCal band finds inspiration in looking back

The earth may have orbited the sun 11 times since the last No Doubt album, but it’s hard to tell any time has passed in the Southern California band’s world on its new album, “Push And Shove," out Sept. 25.

No Doubt’s last studio album,  “Rock Steady,” came out in 2001—before the world had heard from Kanye West, Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga.  There have been seismic changes in the way that rap and rock and pop have intersected since then, not to mention how music is delivered. And yet, the four members of No Doubt seem to have been largely hermetically sealed in a time capsule for the last decade.  If anything, on “Push And Shove,” the band looks back at the synth-drenched ‘80s for inspiration, rather than to any of today’s hitmakers.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. By the time “Rock Steady” came out, No Doubt had done a wonderful (and tremendously) successful job of blending rock, pop and ska, while lead singer Gwen Stefani had perfected the alternately wounded bird/rising Phoenix trope that made her so appealing.

Marriage and motherhood have not quelled many of  Stefani’s doubts, even if she can confidently boast in the horn-laden, rollicking “Looking Hot,” we are free to stare at her “ragamuffin...and take a picture please.”

The passage of time has given the band added musical confidence. No Doubt has always had a muscularity— bolstered primarily by Tony Kanal’s funky bass playing and Adrian Young’s robust drumming— that anchors its otherwise fairly lightweight melodies and lyrics. It is now accompanied by a pleasing certitude that replaces an earlier brashness.

Throughout the Mark "Spike" Stent-produced “Push And Shove,” the band skips through different beats and tempos with a firm hand that less assured acts could not pull off and that, at times, threaten to give the listener whiplash.  First single, reggae-tinged “Settle Down” time shifts throughout, but it has nothing on the title track, which breaks down into a dub step section—in one of the few concessions to current musical trends. The song, a collaboration with Major Lazer, then transforms to running in slow-motion, as if dragging through tar. It then speeds up for a rapid-fire rap from Jamaican rapper Busy Signal (He's this album's Bounty Hunter."). “Push  & Shove” is a bit busy and overly ambitious, but No Doubt somehow pulls it off.

Underneath it all, Stefani is a throwback to girl group singers of yore —even if her vulnerability often comes with an armor veneer— and No Doubt is a pure pop band. A three-song arc midway through the album focuses solely on those aspects.

On the poppy “Gravity,” a love song presumably to husband Gavin Rossdale, Stefani ruminates on how lucky they are that their relationship has gravity that tethers the two of them together.  “We’re in orbit/so we’re safe. Don’t let go/don’t ever let me float away,” she sings as laser effects torpedo through the song. It’s totally possible to imagine Belinda Carlisle singing this song 25 years ago, especially given the lighthearted, synth bridge.

For the peppy, sweet “Undercover,” those doubts creep back in. “I want to look down deep inside you and I want to come in but I can’t do it/I’m so scared of what I might find there.”

Things go from bad to worse on acoustic ballad “Undone,” the album’s most striking track.
The protagonist has fallen apart. “Just when it was getting good/why does it have to end/I don’t understand,” she sings as she pleads for her lover not to leave her behind.

The good times have returned by the boppy “Heaven” and the wistful “Dreaming the Same Dream,” both of which sound like outtakes from a Madonna album circa 1985. 

“Push And Shove” is a solid, consistent album that isn’t afraid to embrace the multitude of styles that No Doubt has built its 20-year  career upon. It’s the sound of a band that is very comfortable in its own skin, but still wants to challenge itself. At the same time, "Push & Shove" has nothing that seems as forward thinking or as career defining as “Just A Girl,” “Spiderwebs” or “Hey Baby," though with a little wind beneath its wings, "Undone" could be this decade's equivalent of "Don't Speak."

Read Full Post
<p>Rihanna's &quot;Diamonds&quot; single cover</p>

Rihanna's "Diamonds" single cover

Credit: Def Jam

Mark your calendar for Rihanna's new single, 'Diamonds'

Her perpetual music machine never stops

Rihanna will release her new single, “Diamonds,” on Wednesday at 8 a.m. EDT.

The song is the first single from her seventh studio album, which will come out before the end of 2012.

Rihanna’s dominance at pop radio is due, in part, to her continuous outpouring of music. Most pop artists take some time off between album cycles: not Rihanna. This new album will make her fourth consecutive album released in the fourth quarter since 2009.  The only year she has not released a new album since her 2005 debut was in 2008. Even country artists don't keep up that pace. It used to be that you could set your clock to country to your favorite country artist: they released a new album every year. In part, that was because their fans expected it, but it was also because they tended not to write much of their own material.  A producer would help select the cuts, hire the studio musicians, etc. and the artist would spend a few days or weeks (max) in the studio. However, as country artists started writing more of their own material, they too have spread out their release cycle to every 18-to-24 months.

Not only is Rihanna prolific, but her label tends to release at least four singles from each set. Her six available albums have yielded 30 Hot 100 charting songs. She’s logged 11 No. 1s and a total of 20 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Given the speed of her output, it’s no surprise that she reached that number faster than any other solo artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. Only the Beatles landed 20 top 10 singles faster than Rihanna.

“Diamonds” is also the name of Rihanna’s previously announced world tour, which kicks off in Buffalo, N.Y. on March 8.
 

Read Full Post