Credit: AP Photo

Adele and Gotye lead 2012 mid-year sales stats

Are album sales up or down over last year?

One-named acts rule 2012 so far: Half-way through the year, Adele and Gotye have bragging rights to the top-selling album and single so far.

Adele’s “21” has some more than 1 million copies this year, while Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100  for several weeks, is the top selling single, moving 5.5 million downloads.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>A&nbsp;little YouTube love from Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and friends helped the world take notice of Carly Rae Jespen's &quot;Call Me Maybe,&quot;&nbsp;but the song had to be good to become the massive hit it is today.</p>

A little YouTube love from Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and friends helped the world take notice of Carly Rae Jespen's "Call Me Maybe," but the song had to be good to become the massive hit it is today.

My Top Singles of 2012 so far: Gotye, Carly Rae Jepsen and a few surprises

Who else makes the list?

We're a few days into the second half of 2012 so it seemed like a good time to look back at the last six months and take stock. There have been some undeniably strong songs, the kind that will forever mark 2012 in many people's brains, but I still struggled to come up with a list of 10 singles that I really loved this year so far.

I decided to make the task a little more difficult by restricting my choices to radio singles instead of any album track. What surprised me is that no rock or country songs made the list. Plus, there are some obvious choices that I've seen on other "best-of" so far, most notable fun.'s "We Are Young," that didn't make mine.

A few of the selections will look and sound very familiar, but there may be some surprises here or there.

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<p>The Zac Brown Band get animated by Mike Judge in the new music video for &quot;The Wind.&quot;</p>

The Zac Brown Band get animated by Mike Judge in the new music video for "The Wind."

Credit: Atlantic Records

Watch: Mike Judge directs animated clip for Zac Brown Band's 'The Wind'

Does Boomhauer make a cameo?

Hank Hill is nowhere to be found and there’s not a stapler in sight, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the new video for Zac Brown Band’s “The Wind.” Directed by “King of The Hill”  and “Office Space’s” Mike Judge, the animated clip is little bit wacky.

“Robo Redneck AKA The Six Million Dollar Honky” features a cartoon Brown out four-wheeling with his buddies when he gets accidentally shot by a hunter’s errant bullet.

Modern medicine and science step in and he’s reconstructed as a musical Iron Man, with skills far beyond playing the guitar.  That bionic hand comes in quite handy for more than popping a beer top.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Tim McGraw's new single, 'Truck Yeah'

Does it get any better than the horrible title suggests?

Tim McGraw’s new single, “Truck Yeah,” lost me at the very first line: “Got Lil Wayne poppin on my iPod.”  If you’re “Hillbilly proud” or have a “little redneck blood,” as the lyrics spout, shouldn’t you be cranking Hank, Merle, or Waylon?

McGraw’s 20-year career has careened all over the place from the truly horrific early hit, “Indian Outlaw,” to the sassy sexiness of “I Like It, I Love It” and “Real Good Man”  to the deeply poignant “Angry All The Time,” “Red Rag Top” or “My Next 30 Years.”   This song barely rates above “Indian Outlaw.” And I say this as a big McGraw fan.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Andy Griffith</p>

Andy Griffith

Credit: AP Photo

Reflections on growing up with Andy Griffith in North Carolina

What he meant to this girl from Raleigh

I grew up in Raleigh, N.C., or The Big City, as it was referred to on “The Andy Griffith Show.”  

When I heard of Andy Griffith’s death this morning, it felt like I’d lost an uncle. I never met him, but for anyone in North Carolina who was raised watching “The Andy Griffith Show” whether in real time or in its continual reruns, Griffith was the closest thing we had to a human god who wasn’t famous for throwing a ball or was named Billy Graham. (Read Alan Sepinwall's fine appreciation here).

 Though Griffith played Andy Taylor, the sheriff of Mayberry, and I’m quite sure his jurisdiction did not extend beyond the city limits, it felt like his avuncular, benevolent presence watched over all of us.  Not only did the widowed father take care of his boy, Opie (with the help of Aunt Bee, or “Aint” Bee, as everyone on the show pronounced it), he saw to it that none of Mayberry’s fine denizens came to any harm.

Mayberry may have been a fictional town that stood in for Griffith’s real hometown of Mt. Airy, N.C., but it felt very real. “The Andy Griffith Show” was the first television series that I had knowledge of being set in North Carolina and every time someone mentioned Raleigh in an episode, this little girl’s heart would swell with pride that all over the country people were hearing the name of my home town. I felt like it put us on the map. Plus, Raleigh was seen as a thriving metropolis and destination on the show: Deputy Barney Fife frequently talked about coming to Raleigh on vacation, staying at the YMCA, and taking in a picture show.

Nothing ever happened in Mayberry that Andy couldn’t fix within an half-hour episode, whether it was someone stealing Aunt Bee’s pie recipe or Opie lying or Otis needing to sleep one off in the drunk tank...again. And heaven help those big city folks (usually from the North, if I recall correctly) who came through Mayberry thinking they could pull one over on the local rubes. Well, Andy would sit right down and set them straight with his sly, homespun wisdom. He’d send those city slickers packing. No pie for them.

Even better was when someone would come through Mayberry (an inordinate number of cars seemed to breakdown there), who just happened to have superior musical skills, like Flatt & Scruggs or The Dillards (as The Darlings). There was always time to sit and pick for a spell, often with Andy on guitar.

Yes, it was an idealized version of southern country life, but it didn’t feel that farfetched, perhaps because Griffith knew the area so well and threw in so many aspects of his own childhood. Even though there were broad characterizations, Griffith never made fun of his own and understood the difference between a stereotype and a caricature. Oh sure, it was fine for Floyd the Barber to poke fun at service station attendants Gomer or Goober, but they’d circle the wagons right fast if an outsider tried to do so.  My father traveled the state a great deal for work when I was growing up. I occasionally accompanied him to smalls towns just like Mayberry  where nobody knew a stranger, everybody was your friend and there was always a cold soft drink (usually a Sun Drop in a glass bottle) waiting for Walt’s daughter.

I never saw an episode of “Matlock,” Griffith’s detective series from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and I don’t remember him at all as the federal prosecutor in the made-for-TV movie “Fatal Vision,” which told the story of Jeffrey McDonald, a Green Beret stationed at Ft. Bragg accused of killing his wife and children (As a kid growing up 75 minutes from Ft. Bragg and having a father who served in the National Guard there, the memories of those deaths,  McDonald’s assertion that a bunch of “hippies” killed his family, and the subsequent trials in Raleigh are my equivalent of the Manson murders). He remained Andy Taylor to me.

I had grown up and long left North Carolina before I discovered Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd” in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Released in 1957, it starred Griffith, in his first movie role, as Lonesome Rhodes, one of the most craven, charismatic characters ever committed to the big or small screen. I watched the movie slackjawed, incredulous that Sheriff Taylor could be so duplicitous, evil, and, dare I admit it, sexy. Griffith brilliantly plays an Arkansas ne’er-do-well discovered singing in jail by a radio producer, played by Patricia Neal. He becomes a national folk hero, seemingly speaking truth to power, all the while hiding his nearly sociopathic ambitions. If there had been true justice, the role would have catapulted Griffith to the ranks of a top movie star. I don’t know why it didn’t, but if it had, we never would have gotten Sheriff Taylor. (Note: TCM will run “A Face in the Crowd” in a daylong salute to Griffith on July 18).

For a long time, I thought that Mayberry was only special to people from North Carolina, but I came to realize that what Griffith had created resonated with most southern folks and almost anyone from a small town; He  was seen as a national treasure and we were happy to share him.  Country music embraced the values that Sheriff Taylor stood for and considered Griffith one of their own.  “The Andy Griffith” show was immortalized in a number of country songs and in 2008 Griffith starred in Brad Paisley’s stirring video for  “Waitin’ on a Woman.” Paisley talks about working with Griffith here  and his death in this touching LA Times piece. (Griffith himself won a Grammy for his gospel recordings in 1996).

North Carolinians loved Griffith for representing them so well and for never abandoning them. He came back to live in N.C. more than 20 years ago and seemed to love his later years there, lending his voice and name to causes he supported. In 2002, TV Land donated a statue of Griffith to Pullen Park, the local Raleigh park my mom took me and my older sister, Jeannie, to when we were little to ride the train and the merry-go-round. It’s a statue of Griffith as Sheriff Taylor with Opie as they head for their fishing hole, just like in the show’s credits. My friend Debbie and I went to see it on one of my trips back home several years ago and it brought back a rush of childhood memories. I have no doubt that today that statue is covered in flowers and is serving as a meeting place for Griffith’s fans, just like Strawberry Fields served for John Lennon’s fans. I don’t know if Gov. Perdue has called for the N.C. flag to be flown at half-mast in Griffith’s honor, but it feels appropriate if she has. Griffith may be gone, but Andy Taylor will live forever.  I’m heading to Raleigh later this week. A trip to the statue, and maybe even a drive by the YMCA, may be in order. 

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Watch: The full Adam Lambert + Queen concert from Kiev
Credit: AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Watch: The full Adam Lambert + Queen concert from Kiev

How does he compare with Freddie Mercury?

Adam Lambert opened his first of four dates as frontman for Queen Saturday in Kiev, Ukraine and you can watch the full two-hour set below.

Yes, it’s as big, glam, and over the top as you’d expect.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Florence + the Machine road trip on 'Breaking Down' video
Credit: Island Records

Watch: Florence + the Machine road trip on 'Breaking Down' video

Retro feel suits the song perfectly

Just in time for 4th of July, Florence + The Machine deliver a video that feels a bit like a celebration of the U.S.

The gauzy clip for “Breaking Down” unspools like old home movies: a mixture of scenes shot on the road and stock footage. It opens as a patriotic pinwheel (note to self: go buy Sparklers) spins over a Los Angeles road sign. What follows is Florence Welch hanging out in a pool circa a ‘60s housewife. We travel to New Orleans and Las Vegas as the tune (the most mainstream track on “Ceremonials”) plays on. Our travels bring us back to Los Angeles and the Hollywood Bowl.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The album art for Chris Brown's latest, &quot;Fortune.&quot;</p>

The album art for Chris Brown's latest, "Fortune."

Album Review: Does Chris Brown have good 'Fortune' on new set?

Will it be his last album?

Chris Brown is coming off his Grammy win for best R&B album for “F.A.M.E.” Now he’s going for the second half of the equation with “Fortune,” out July 3.  And if Brown's words at Sunday night's BET Awards are true, it will be his last record.

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<p>Jessica Sanchez has a record deal.</p>

Jessica Sanchez has a record deal.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

'American Idol's' Jessica Sanchez follows Phillip Phillips to Interscope

When will the runner-up's album come out?

“American Idol” Season 11 runner up Jessica Sanchez has signed with Interscope Records. Her album is due in October.

Interscope, which has the first right of refusal on signing the “American Idol” finalists, will take the 16-year old in a more “urban flavor,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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<p>Justin Bieber can fly. That's why he's No.1.&nbsp;</p>

Justin Bieber can fly. That's why he's No.1. 

Credit: Chris Young/AP

Justin Bieber reigns over this week's Music Power Rankings

Adele, Bruce Springsteen and The Flaming Lips share the spotlight

1. Justin Bieber: The 18-year old’s “Believe” bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the largest weekly sales for a new album so far in 2012. While that’s great news for him, if 373,000 is the most the industry can muster for an artist who is keyed in to social media 24/7, cue “Taps.”

2. Adele: British singer/songwriter and singlehanded album sales savior announces her first pregnancy.  Music industry cries like a baby at the thought of her disappearing for awhile.

3. Eminem: A judge rules that FBT Productions, the producers behind many of his hits, may proceed with their lawsuit against Universal Music Group, which the judge accuses of trying to “bamboozle” the court by not revealing key revenues. The landmark case will determine if downloads count as licenses or sales. The determination could mean that Universal- and other labels-- will owe artists millions in back royalties. It’s not sexy, but it is a huge case.

4. Bruce Springsteen: He’s named MusiCare’s Person of the Year, following in the footsteps of Neil Young, Barbra Streisand and Paul McCartney. We can’t wait to hear Carly Rae Jepsen’s version of “Candy’s Room” at the tribute dinner.

5. Flaming Lips: The set the Guinness World Record for most live shows in 24 hours in different cities. Wayne Coyne & Co. played eight shows across Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. The band’s comment on the feat: “Zzzzzzzz.”

6. M83: French electronic act gets the call to score “Oblivion,” the new sci-fi Tom Cruise movie helmed by “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski. Insert favorite Cruise/Holmes joke you’ve heard this weekend here, but it must include the movie title.

7. Chris Brown/Drake:
Yeah, we know it’s not going to happen, but isn’t there part of you that would have loved for the two fighting artists to have taken celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman up on his $1 million offer to go at it in the ring.  And, by the way, never say never. We’re sure “The Partridge Family’s” Danny Bonaduce and “The Brady Bunch’s” Barry Williams never thought that’s where their careers were headed in the ‘70s.

8. Swedish House Mafia:
The groundbreaking superstar DJing trio announced this the current tour will be its last. As their said in their statement: “We came, we raved, we loved.”

9. Rolling Stones: Shephard Fairey designs the legendary band’s 50th anniversary.  Only advice from Mick: Don’t touch the tongue.

10. Sony: While the EMI/Universal recorded music merger gets reviewed under a microscope, the Federal Trade Commission approves Sony’s $.2.2 billion purchase of EMI’s music publishing assets. The combined company vaults to the world’s largest publisher.

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