<p>98 Degrees</p>

98 Degrees

98 Degrees hits the 'Today' stage for first TV performance in 10 years

Which other boy bands are we missing?

This is clearly the season of the boy band. Following Kevin Richardson’s decision to make Backstreet Boys whole again by rejoining the band, now we get official word that the 98 Degrees reunion is on.

As you know, it had been rumored to be on and then off again a few times already and seemed to somewhat pivot around when Nick Lachey’s baby with wife Vanessa Minnillo Lachey, was due. However, all that seems to be worked out. The group’s official coming out party will be Aug. 17, when the quartet makes its first television appearance in a decade on The Today Show’s summer concert series.

The next day, as members Nick and Drew Lachey had previously announced, the group will perform at the MixTape Festival in Hershey, Pa, alongside Kelly Clarkson, The Fray, LL Cool J, and other boy bands The Wanted and NKOTBSB (the collective composed of New Kids on The Block and Backstreet Boys).  Little baby Lachey, who is due in late summer/early fall, better not make an early appearance!

The group, whose biggest hits were “Because Of You,” “I Do” and “The Hardest Thing,”  is also in the studio working on a new album, its first since  2000. Although contemporaries of BSB, 98 Degrees never quite reached the same level of fervor, despite scoring two multi-platinum albums.

While NKOTBSB have done well on tour, including selling out Boston’s Fenway Park last summer (mainly due to the NKOTB’s hometown ties) and receiving favorable reviews, radio has not shown the same nostalgic devotion for these acts as have their fans. Any new music has arrived with little fanfare, despite the acts’ trademark harmonies remaining in tact. While fans, who now probably have daughters who are loving One Direction and The Wanted just as their moms loves BSB or NKOTB did, are happy to relive their youth by going to the concert, they don't particularly care about new music.

By the way, if you’re Team BSB instead of Team 98 Degrees, BSB will be on “Good Morning America” on Aug. 31.

Any boy band you'd like to see reunite? 

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<p>Rob Thomas</p>

Rob Thomas

Credit: Robthomas.com

Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas joins 'The Voice' as mentor with Team Cee Lo Green

Who should be Team Christina Aguilera's mentor?

Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas has joined “The Voice” as a mentor for Season 3. Thomas will work with Cee Lo Green’s team.

His participation leaves Christina Aguilera as the only judge yet to announce a mentor: Mary J. Blige recently signed on with Team Adam Levine and Michael Buble is with Team Blake Shelton. I’d love to see Aguilera bring in someone like Bruno Mars or Taio Cruz. Each of the mentors brings a different vocal perspective to the show and they contrast nicely with the judge they've been paired with.

Thomas told Us Weekly, which broke the news, that he “loves the idea that I may be in the room with a future superstar that the world has yet to discover.” 

He probably also loves how “The Voice” helped bring Maroon 5 and Adam Levine back to the top of the charts with their smash “Moves Like Jagger” featuring Aguilera. Levine has used his “The Voice” stint as a launchpad to get into acting as well, including an upcoming role in “American Horror Story” and in the movie "Can A Song Save Your Life."  Matchbox 20’s first full album of new material, “North,” comes out Sept. 4. The new season of “The Voice” premieres Sept. 10 on NBC. Nice timing, right?  The group has already released “She’s So Mean,” the first single from the set, which I reviewed here.

Thomas is a funny, smart guy who is going to be a great asset to the show. He’d been hinting in recent tweets that he had something big coming up and I was hoping that he was going to be named an “American Idol” judge, but this may be a better move for now since it allows him to get his feet wet and see how he likes the reality show world. Still, it would have been a kick to see Thomas, who is very low-key, and newly-announced "AI" judge Mariah Carey bounce of each other. I assessed Carey's strengths and weaknesses as a judge here.

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<p>Mariah Carey performs at a concert in Monaco last month.</p>

Mariah Carey performs at a concert in Monaco last month.

Credit: AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Why Mariah Carey is a good choice for 'American Idol' and why she isn't

We break it down for you

So “American Idol” has nabbed its Christina Aguilera-equivalent. Hang on there,  lambs... I am fully aware that Mariah Carey was a superstar before little Christina was even a Mouseketeer. What I mean is that for a singing competition, “American Idol” sure took a hell of a long time and traveled a most circuitous route before landing an honest-to-God singer for a judge.

Though word leaked out last week that Carey was a serious contender, Fox didn’t confirm the news until today at TCA, allowing Jennifer Lopez to be as coy as she wanted about whether her “99%” decision meant she was going or if it was a negotiating ploy. Looks like Fox ultimately made the decision for her.

Let's look at the Carey decision a little more closely:


*The star wattage is huge. Carey is the biggest artist to become a judge on a reality talent show yet. She’s sold more than 200 million albums and has scored 18 No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100, second only to the Beatles and ahead of Michael Jackson and Madonna.

*She can really sing. Yes, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler could too, but Carey has a five-octave range that automatically commands respect from any of the contestants. Despite all her other talents, she is first and foremost a singer.

*She knows how to match a voice to a song. She's written plenty of her hits, but she also has a very clear understanding of what she’s looking for from outside writers or co-writers. Though she won’t be involved in song selection, she will be able to critique the choices well.

*She understands the business. Not only will she be able to advise the contestants on their vocal skills, she is a shrewd businesswoman.

*She’s tough. I remember the first time I interviewed her, I expected someone much more delicate than I got. She is smart and tough and she will tell it like it is. She'll be able to make the hard calls.

*She spans genres: Though she’s primarily a pop artist, she has worked with a wide variety of R&B and rap artists so she has a broader musical palette than some of the past judges. For example, her new single, “Triumphant,” features Meek Mill and Rick Ross


*She’s unproven when it comes to the full rigors of a weekly live show, despite having served as a past "AI" mentor and guest. Carey has been known to, as they say in Hollywood, “suffer from exhaustion” and she’s a night owl, so may be a big adjustment to adhere to such a fixed timetable. However, we’re sure that her husband, “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon, can give her all the advice she needs on dealing with such a heavy schedule.

*She, like Lopez, had the majority of her hits more than a decade ago (although Mimi is, hopefully, far from done adding to her list of Top 10s). At some point, “American Idol” is going to have to bring in a judge who is under 30. The show doesn’t have to go “Disney young” and bring in a Demi Lovato type, but they have yet to have a judge who is a contemporary to the contestants.

*Carey is two decades, several hundred million dollars, and a big old penthouse away from remembering what it was like to launch a career. The audition process is going to be a big old reality check for her to come back down to the ground level and see what nascent talent looks like again.

*As we mentioned, Carey is, first and foremost, a singer. To be effective, she's going to have to look beyond someone's technical proficiency and evaluate the overall package. Will she be able to give someone with a quirkier voice, like a Paul McDonald or a Casey Abrams, a shot? She may need to widen her criteria on whether someone should go forward.

How do you think Carey will do? Was she a good choice?

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<p>The Wallflowers</p>

The Wallflowers


Listen: The Wallflowers get help from The Clash's Mick Jones on 'Reboot The Mission''

Do you like how the band's sound has evolved?

If you’re lucky enough to have The Clash’s Mick Jones on your song, you probably want to take full advantage of that opportunity.

Happily, the Wallflowers do just that on “Reboot the Mission,” the first single from “Glad All Over,” the band’s first album since 2005’s “Rebel, Sweetheart.”  Listen to it here.

Not only does Jones play guitar on the mid-tempo shuffler, he sings the chorus. But the band doesn’t stop the homage there: they even name check The Clash’s late Joe Strummer in the lyrics and throw in just enough of the Clash’s punk/dub swagger to reference the seminal British band without sounding like they’re ripping them off.

The song took a few listens to grow on me, but it definitely has. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on, from the Clash-like muted shout-outs in the background to the wonky organ that comes in at the end. Plus, while Jakob Dylan’s spoken/singing vocals are definitely recognizable, the band shows no fear in trying to switch its sound up a little...hence the song title’s appropriateness. As gracefully as “One Headlight” may be aging, no one needs a retread just yet.

Rolling Stone debuted the track today and has the exclusive, but the song will be available on iTunes starting July 24 and we’ll embed the song as soon as we can.

What do you think of "Reboot The Mission?"

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<p>Jennifer Lopez in &quot;Goin' In&quot;</p>

Jennifer Lopez in "Goin' In"

Watch: Jennifer Lopez sparkles and shines in video tease for 'Goin' In'

When can you see the full clip?

J-Lo has a bedazzler and she’s not afraid to use it...On her lips, on her top, and who knows where else. We have to wait until Wednesday to get the full “Goin’ In” video, but as fans can see from the 30-second teaser released today, Jennifer Lopez has returned to the block.

The snippet features Lopez with shiny lips and cape alternating between her glamor and pseudo-street self, with flashing images of the designer Lopez interspersed with “urban” Lopez in a hoodie and even shots of a car with crazy bouncing suspension.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>One Direction</p>

One Direction

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Music Power Rankings: One Direction tops Pink, No Doubt and Frank Ocean

Bruce Springsteen and The Who also make the list

1. One Direction: “Up All Night” surpasses Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” to become the top-selling album released in 2012. We finally have proof:  “Up All Night” trumps “All Night Long.”

2) Pink: Not only does her new single, “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” blast into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, Cher cuts two of her tracks. Pink is the new black.

3) Frank Ocean: One month ago, very few people knew who he was. This week he has the No. 2 album in the land and he has spoken his truth about his former same-sex relationship with little backlash. The truth shall set you free--and help you sell records.

4 )The Who:
Remaining members reunite for a North American tour to recreate “Quadrophenia.” Anyone under 25 asks, “Who are you? Ooh hoo, ooh hoo.”

5) Bruce Springsteen:
Has anyone ever gotten more mileage of getting the plug pulled on one of their shows? Or handled it with such good humor?

6) Universal Music Group: Opposition to its purchase of EMI continues to erode in the U.K. and will only have to jump through a few more hoops in the U.S.  Once that deal is done, the questions will start on how long before Sony or Universal makes a play for Warner Bros...

7) Richard Branson: Everyone’s favorite entrepreneur makes moves to buy back Virgin Music, the label he started 40 years ago, from EMI. Fun factoid: the label’s first release was Mike Oldfield’s massive success, “Tubular Bells.”

8) The Grammy Awards: It looks like the “A Death In the Family” short film works.  On the surface, the short doc was about putting on a show 24 hours after Whitney Houston’s death, but it also doubled as a pitch for Emmy voters, who took the bait. This year’s telecast received six Emmy nominations, the most the show has received and garnered the coveted Outstanding Special Class Programs nod they so badly wanted.

9) Coachella: The alternative music festival launches its own sea cruise. From landlocked to seaworthy. Hipsters declare they are already over the cruise before it even pulls away from dock.

10) No Doubt: Orange County’s finest returns after 10 years with a ska-influenced pop slice that will no doubt have its fans wanting to jump up with joy instead of “Settle Down.”

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Credit: John Shearer/AP

Nas raps his way to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200

What happens to Zac Brown Band and Frank Ocean?

Rapper Nas will handily come in at No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200 with the aptly titled “Life Is Good” slated to sell close to 135,000 copies.

The title will easily trump this week’s charttopper, Zac Brown Band’s “Uncaged,” which will drop to No 2 with still robust sales of 80,000.

“Life is Good” is one of three new albums debuting in the Top 10, according to Hits Daily Double. It will be joined by the latest edition of “Kidz Bop Kids,” which will likely bow at No. 3, and the score to “The Dark Knight Rises” at No. 9.

Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” moves from a digital-only release to  a digital and physical title. It will likely only drop two places to No. 4 with sales of 45,000.

Teen dreams One Direction will be No. 5 (with “Up All Night”), while Justin Bieber keeps “Believe” in the Top 10 at No 6. “Up All Night” surpassed Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” last week to become the top-selling album released in 2012.

Adele’s “21” logs its 3 millionth week in the top 10, as “21”  will likely be at No. 7 (although it and Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” are too close to call for the No. 7 and No. 8 spots. Chris Brown’s former No. 1, “Fortune,” hangs in at No. 10.


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<p>Misty water-colored Lana</p>

Misty water-colored Lana


Watch: Lana Del Rey's cruel summer in new video 'Summertime Sadness'

There's no cure for her summertime blues

Lana Del Rey’s videos tend to be as ethereal as she is. The latest, “Summertime Sadness,” relies on the same film technique as some of her past efforts. There’s no linear storyline, instead there’s flickering, grainy footage that looks like it’s out of ‘60s home movies  and is cut to create a feeling more than a narrative.

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: RCA

Pink picks some very special guests for new album, 'The Truth About Love'

She also reveals what type of music she avoids

Pink will have some very special guests on her new album, “The Truth About Love,” out Sept.18.

British singer Lily Allen will appear on the album, as will Pink’s 13-month old daughter Willow, who plays bass and bells on two tunes. Bass? Really?

In an interview with Carson Daly on Los Angeles radio station 97.1, Pink said she wrote about 40 songs for the album, ultimately whittling the number down to 13, her lucky number. Interesting, random Pink factoid: “I had my first kiss on Friday the 13th in a graveyard,” she told Daly.

Pink revealed no details about her song with Allen, but hinted there may be more pairings: “For the last 14 years, everyone has said no [to collaborations]. But this album, everyone said yes! And I think that’s because people think I’ve softened. I think people maybe think I bite!”

She, like many folks, is loving first single “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).” She told Daly she’s loved it from the start and when she hears the break-up song: “I just instantly want to rip my clothes off and dance and drink and just blow off steam.”  Despite that, she says the album does not capitalize on the latest dance trends.


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<p>Pearl Jam</p>

Pearl Jam

Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' set to Pearl Jam's music in New York production

Does 'Jeremy' make an appearance?

If one had to come up with a soundtrack for “Hamlet,” one could certainly do worse than the music of Pearl Jam. Both the play and the Seattle band’s music have a good measure of material about tortured souls and miscreants.

Well, someone thought of that. Here, a New York City art space, has mounted a production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”  set in the ‘90s with Pearl Jam’s music as the backdrop. The songs are performed live by a cover band.  In what must be wonderful or horrible, “Hamlet: A King of Infinite Space” takes Hamlet and turns him into a college boy who returns home to the Lower East Side to discover that his uncle had married his mother and wants to turn their apartment building, The Elsinore (get it?), into modern condos.

If you want to see it, move quickly: The production only runs through July 21. No word from the members of Pearl Jam on how they feel about this appropriation of their music. Since the play isn't using the original master recordings, as long as Here pays royalties to the appropriate performance rights society, they probably don't need Pearl Jam's permission. We scanned online for some reviews from opening night, but, alas, could find none.


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