Kesha on her 'Rising Star' expertise and on her 'really fun' new album

What she will bring to ABC's new singing reality show

Each of the “experts” — Kesha, Brad Paisley, and Ludacris — brings a different proficiency to their role on “Rising Star,” ABC’s new talent competition, which bows June 22.

Kesha has already decided where she fits in. She will represent “girls that like to have a good time and the gay boys,” she told HitFix on Monday at a “Rising Star” open house. “I think I’m going to bring the people who don’t give a f**k.”

“Rising Star” will rely on the experts, and host/expert Josh Groban, to mentor the contestants, who then perform in front of a wall. As viewers at home vote on whether the contestant should go on to the next level, the wall will either rise —if they get enough votes— or stay down. While the experts will get to vote, the fate of the contestants is in the hands of the at-home viewers and the results will be immediately known. To be able to vote, viewers can download the free “Rising Star” app here.

Kesha will continue to work on her third album over the duration of the 10-week summer series and she’s not concerned that her mentoring duties will affect that process.  “I work on music in my sleep, I worked on it from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed, I don’t think it will be hard,” she says.

As far as how that third album will sound, Kesha was playing it pretty close to the vest, but that she’s done everything from cover Bob Dylan to record with The Flaming Lips (in an album that seems to have been shelved at least for the moment, according to the Lips’ Wayne Coyne), it’s safe to say that she could surprise us all. And she’s counting on that.

The new album is “really fun and I love it,”she said. Declaring that the direction is “top secret,” she would allow that stylistically, fans shouldn’t be “too surprised if I come out with something kinda weird.”

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OK Go plays tricks on us in new video, 'The Writing's On The Wall': Watch

Visual effects about in quartet's latest clip

The members of OK Go make good music, but they make really great videos. Ever since their groundbreaking—single-take clip for "Here It Goes Again" --  the 2006 video where they performed the song on treadmills— the quartet has consistently raised the bar for creativity without embracing special effects and explosions.

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Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran seeks release in searing 'Bloodstream': Listen

Singer turns to 'chemicals' to ease the pain

In a time-honored tradition, Ed Sheeran is trying to drink and drug his problems off his mind in “Bloodstream,” a new searing track he dropped today from his June 23 release, “X.”

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T.I. teams with Iggy Azalea on 'No Mediocre': Listen

Video for new single drops on Wednesday

T.I. wants to make one thing clear: he does not want any mediocre women. On “No Mediocre,” featuring Iggy Azalea, he has some very specific requests for women, including making sure he has a clean work surface, if you get his drift.

Over a tip-toeing beat, he rails against “bad mamacitas.” And lays down some other rules for his ladies. He also wants her to have flat abs and wear heels and some other requirements. Guess what ladies? He also expects to split the check if you don’t meet his standards. Good luck with that.

Azalea, who’s sitting pretty with the No. 1 and No. 2 song on Billboard Hot 100 with "Fancy" and as a guest on Ariana Grande's "Problem," comes in for two verses. She’s already delivered they goods, but he wants more and she’s not so sure. “If you ain’t talking money, what are you saying to me?,” she asks… Hmmm. Interpret how you will.

The lyrics are sketchy, but the beat is undeniable and Azalea is shaping up as the rainmaker for hits this summer, so expect this one to soar up the charts. A video for “No Mediocre” drops on Wednesday. The teaser ad for the video features several women's asses in bikini bottoms so I think we can pretty much figure out what to expect here.

“No Mediocre” is T.I.’s latest single from “Paperwork,” his new album due this fall and his first in his imprint Grand Hustle’s deal with Columbia.

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Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman perform 'Amazing Grace' at Children's Hospital

Check out another time the couple sang together


Keith Urban and wife Nicole Kidman serenaded children at Monash Children’s Hospital in Victoria, Australia over the weekend.

Urban was born in New Zealand but grew up in Australia, while Kidman was born in Hawaii, but, like Urban, was raised in Australia.

Kidman, who showed she has a fine singing voice herself in “Moulin Rouge,” seldom sings with her Grammy-winning husband, but she can be clearly heard singing with the staff and her husband on “Amazing Grace.”

The Oscar winner traveled from Australia to Shanghai to receive an award from the Shanghai Film Festival, while Urban kicked off the Australian leg of his Light the Fuse tour June 14. The tour comes to the U.S. on July 17 and ends Sept. 13.

This isn’t the first time the two have performed together: a few years back, they sang a parody of Men At Work’s “Land Down Under” for at a tribute to fellow Aussie/“The Mentalist” star Simon Baker and Kidman was very playful and goofy. Check out that video below the Monash one.

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Maroon 5

Maroon 5 returns with driving new single, 'Maps'

First single from new album, 'V'

Maroon 5’s new single, “Maps,” may cover new terrain geographically as lead singer/“The Voice” coach Adam Levine vows to search the globe for his lost love, but musically it stays pretty much in the group’s sweet spot with catchy verses and a striking vocal performance from Levine.

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Casey Kasem

Thank you, Casey Kasem, for spending time with me every week

Kasem dies at 82 after a long illness

Second only to my father’s, Casey Kasem’s voice was one of the resounding male voices of my childhood and played a large part in shaping my dreams. That voice, which had been off the air for several years already, was silenced for good today when Kasem died at 82.

When people ask me how I got into music journalism, there is one story that I always tell and that is of loving listening to the radio. Growing up in Raleigh, N.C., the main Top 40 station was WKIX. It was my gateway drug into the music world. I bought singles and got into album-oriented rock as I got older, but from the start, I was a Top 40 girl. I listened to it all the time. I made my mom switch from WPTF, her station of choice, to WKIX whenever we were in the car together (my father, who loved classical music, wasn’t usually so compliant) and I listened to it on the radio in my bedroom when I was doing my homework. If I could get away with it, I would listen after I went to bed,  but I would be so excited to hear what the next song was that I couldn’t fall asleep, so my parents put an end to that.  The local DJs brought me the songs that informed my childhood, but every Sunday, Casey Kasem brought me the world.

The American Top 40 Countdown aired on WKIX every Sunday starting at noon. I would sit in church and fidget as it grew closer to 12 p.m. Church would finish and my parents — I’m convinced they did this just to torture me— would insist on chatting with friends or helping clean up the sanctuary while I would be dying inside, knowing I was missing the songs at No. 40, 39, 38, 37… on the radio. Usually, we’d get home by the time Kasem was declaring Song No. 35 or so and, as I did every week, I’d sit at my desk in my bedroom, take out purple, lined, notebook paper (sometimes it was pink) and I would write down the songs as he announced them. I’d leave space at the top for the songs I’d missed because I knew he’d recap them when he got to No. 30.  

This was in the days when local stations had more clout in determining what they played than they do now, so I might hear a song on AT40 that I’d never heard before on WKIX because the local program director didn’t want to play it. There was something magical and wonderfully comforting about knowing that I was hearing him count down to “the top song in the land,” as Kasem used to say, and that some kid in Sacramento or Milwaukee was listening to these songs too. Kasem had a warm voice that felt like it was caressing the words as he conspiratorially, softly revealed secrets behind the songs and the artists, pulling back the curtain on new artists I’d never heard of before or revealing the newest song from some act I loved before WKIX had put it in regular rotation.

My obsession with writing down the weekly chart numbers probably lasted for only a few years— probably from fifth to seventh grade or so… but Kasem and the American Top 40 Countdown introduced me to Billboard. For several years, AT40 used Billboard’s charts and that’s how I found out about the trade magazine. And then… a few short years later, I was interning for Billboard while in college, and ultimately worked for them for more than a dozen years. I feel like I have Kasem to thank. I’m sure I would have learned about Billboard somehow, but because of Kasem, from a very early age, Billboard held a mythical allure for me.

I had long weaned myself off of having to listen every Sunday, but when I went to Germany for my junior year of  college, Kasem came back into my life. I would find myself missing home and wanting to hear an American accent (this was was before the internet and Skype and international calling was expensive enough that I only talked to my parents once a month). Enter Armed Forces Radio Network. In addition to the 1,000 stations in the U.S. that aired AT40, the countdown was broadcast on 400 AFRN stations, including one that was near Regensburg, where I went to college. So once again, Kasem brought me the world— or more specifically— helped me go home each week, when I would hear what was hitting big in the U.S. while I was 4,000 miles away.

Kasem turned over hosting AT40 to Ryan Seacrest in 2004. Even though I hadn’t listened for awhile, I still felt nostalgic sadness that an icon from my childhood was no longer there for me every week.

SiriusXM Radio plays the American Top 40 Countdown on its 70s channel every week and if I’m in the car, I’ll tune in. It’s a trip to hear Kasem’s voice coming back at me through the speakers. The long distance dedications delivered with dripping sincerity sound hokey to me now in a way that they never did to that young girl growing up in Raleigh who took his weekly sign off of “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”  very seriously.  I never met Kasem during my time at Billboard, but that didn’t make me sad because I felt like I already knew him already. After all, we spent every Sunday together for years.

It wasn't that long ago that Kasem and I were radio mates, but it was a very different time that feels like another era. Though Top 40 countdown shows still exist, there was something special about having a weekly listening date and knowing that if I missed hearing Kasem then, I couldn't just go online and see the chart or stream that week's countdown whenever I felt like. Technology has definitely given us more options, but when you have everything at your fingertips whenever you want it, it loses a little of its uniqueness and what make it special. I'm glad that I felt that urgency to get home every Sunday, even if my parents didn't understand the necessity, and I'm thankful that Kasem helped me understand from a very young age the power of dreams and music.

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Jack White takes 'Lazaretto' to the top of the charts next week

Jack White takes 'Lazaretto' to the top of the charts next week

What happens to Miranda Lambert's 'Platinum'

Jack White’s second solo album lands exactly where his first solo set did: atop the Billboard 200.

Lazaretto” is set to sell up to 120,000 copies to bow at No. 1 on next week’s album chart. That’s twice as much as nearest competitor, Miranda Lambert’s “Platinum,” which came in at No. 1 this week. White’s tally is only slightly less than the 138,000 copies “Blunderbuss,” sold in its opening week in 2012.

Plus, White is also the only new act to enter the Top 10 next week, unless Passenger’s “Whispers” surges and pushes The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue” out of the No. 10 slot.

Rounding out the top 10: The “Fault In Our Stars” soundtrack is at No. 3 (50,000), followed closely by the “Frozen” soundtrack at No. 4 (45,000).  Brantley Gilbert’s “Just As I Am” continues to sell well, hanging in at No. 5 (40,000).

“Now That’s What I Call Music 50” and Coldplay’s “Ghost Stories” are too close to call for No. 6 with each targeted to move between 30,000-35,000). At No. 8 will likely by “Now That’s What I Call Country 7” (27,000), while Michael Jackson’s “Xscape” will be No. 9 (23,000), according to Hits Daily Double.

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Nico & Vinz

6 things you need to know about new hitmakers Magic! and Nico & Vinz

How did their hits, 'Rude,' and 'Am I Wrong' come out of nowhere?

Iggy Azalea isn’t the only newcomer crashing into the Top10. Seemingly out of nowhere two brand new acts, Magic! and Nico & Vinz have landed in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their debut U.S. singles and are causing even a bigger stir on Shazam USA Top 100 Tags Chart, where they are No. 1 and 2, and on iTunes Singles chart, which they have also topped.

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Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, and his white pants kick off the World Cup

Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, and his white pants kick off the World Cup

J-Lo puts in her five minutes to perform 'We Are One'

A swath of colorful dancers, drummers and Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Claudia Leitte kicked off Fifa's  World Cup in Brazil yesterday with their weak  anthem “We Are One.”

They lip-synced for five minutes and then it was over. And let’s take a minute to note that Pitbull gets to show up in a yellow soccer shirt and white pants rolled up in an outfit it probably took 60 seconds to throw on (and he’s being made fun of today in the Twitterverse), while both Lopez and Leitte are in skimpy leotards, full hair and make up and heels, as if they’ve been relegated to back up dancers (especially when Leitte resorts to tweaking to get her fellow Brazilians to act as if they care).  The world has never seemed quite as unfair as seeing the three of them standing together.

So after Lopez practically caused an internationally incident by saying she wasn’t coming to the opening and then reversing her decision, she showed up, did her part with professionalism and was probably back on her way to the U.S. before Brazil scored its first goal in its win over Croatia.


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