Gotye's 'Somebody' and Train's 'Drive By' score on Billboard Hot 100
Credit: Eleven

Gotye's 'Somebody' and Train's 'Drive By' score on Billboard Hot 100

Will Maroon 5 spoil Gotye's party next week?

Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” featuring Kimbra continues its residence atop the Billboard Hot 100, logging its fifth week at the top.

Its run gives the song the longest reign by a solo male since Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 2010, according to BIllboard.

Maroon 5’s “Payphone” featuring Wiz Khalifa flips spaces with fun’s “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae, with the Adam Levine-led group rising one spot to No. 2.

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<p>My Chemical Romance</p>

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance heads back into studio after Bamboozle

Band is almost ready to hit the record button

My Chemical Romance, which will headline this weekend’s Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey on May 19, are headed back into the studio in a few weeks to begin recording the group’s fifth album.

Guitarist Frank Iero told The Aquarian Weekly that the group was in Los Angeles writing away in preparation to start recording in June with producer Doug McKean.

As we previously reported, MCR is stepping in at the last minute at Bamboozle to replace Blink-182 who had to drop out following drummer Travis Barker’s emergency tonsillectomy. The gig is breaking the band’s writing flow, but Iero says they are happy to play in their native New Jersey. “We love to play shows, and we’re glad to help out,” he said. “Especially in the NJ. We are in writing-mode right now and weren’t going to consider playing any shows, actually, but then stuff happened with Blink and we got the call. Plus I get to see Foo Fighters.”

The new album is the follow up to 2010’ “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.”  Iero wouldn’t reveal much, other than that the writing sessions are going “really well, actually. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to start tracking. I think we’re maybe a month away from the record button lighting up.”

He would reveal that touring drummer Jarrod Alexander, who began playing with the band last fall, would play at Bamboozle, but didn’t confirm that he will play on the new album. However, it sounds like he most likely will be in the studio with the rest of the band next month given this endorsement from Iero: “Jarrod is a rad guy and a fantastic player. It’s been really fun making music with him these past few months. He loves coffee and hitting drums super-hard… and the fact that he’s not a thieving piece of garbage is a breath of fresh air.” Alexander replaced former touring drummer Michael Pedicone.

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<p>Black Sabbath</p>

Black Sabbath

Bill Ward pulls out of Black Sabbath gigs... again

Reunited band will play three dates, including Lollapalooza

It hasn’t looked good for drummer Bill Ward to play with his Black Sabbath bandmates ever since February when he brought up that he would not participate in the band’s mini-reunion tour unless he received a “signable contract.” He put the final nail in his participation in the reunion coffin with an emotional new missive on his website, posted Wednesday and addressed to “Sabbath Fans and Fellow Musicians.”

“I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to participate in the upcoming Sabbath shows a failure to agree has continued,” Ward writes.

The tour starts this Saturday, May 19  in Birmingham, England and includes gigs at the Download Festival in Donington Park, England, on June 10 and Lollapalooza in Chicago on Aug. 3. The band, which includes original members Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi, who is well enough to play after being diagnosed with lymphoma, initially announced a new album and tour last  November. The group planned to play Coachella, but had to pull out while Iommi was receiving treatment. Then, in February, Ward brought up needing a contract and it looks like the negotiations proceeded in fits and starts before the clock ran out last week.

Ward further writes that he was offered the opportunity to only play three songs at the Download festival, while another drummer played the rest of the set, and that, communication between him and the rest of the band, is so bad that he only found out about the Birmingham gig through an Internet ad.

Ward’s participation had been in doubt for months after he insisted upon a contract. That had lead to fractious, on-and-off-again negotiations, which his website letter indicates went right up until May 10. The band’s rep asked him to come to the U.K. and play the Birmingham show for free and “see how the first show goes.” He adds that he was willing to play for free, but that the doubt that he would play the Download and Lollapalooza festivals was too upsetting for him to agree.

“I hold no malice or resentment towards the other band members,” writes Ward in the heartfelt letter. “I love them; I'm tolerant of them; I'm frustrated with them, as they may be with me. My fight has never been with them. I'll love them forever. In my opinion, nobody wins this time; the band doesn't win; the fans for an original lineup don't win. Nobody wins, nobody. Even the ones who thought they did. I didn't want to make this decision, but I have to be honest and transparent. This is the statement I didn't want to write; it's the last thing I wanted to do. But, I have written it, and now it can go into the universe."

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<p>Demi Lovato</p>

Demi Lovato

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Are Britney Spears and Demi Lovato the right choices for 'X Factor'?

After lots of rumors, both are confirmed today as judges

Simon Cowell would like to make one thing perfectly clear: if you are a straight white male over the age of 15, he really doesn’t have much need for you.

The confirmation of Britney Spears as a new judge on “X Factor,” as well as the relatively surprising announcement that she and returning judge L.A. Reid will be joined by Demi Lovato shows very clearly that Cowell is serious about snaring the 12-34 female demo and not much else. Of course, all of these talent shows are geared toward females anyway, so Cowell is not even pretending that he means otherwise anymore.

This is, of course, despite the fact that “X Factor” includes the positively generic “Over 30” group.

So how do we see this playing out? L.A. Reid will be the voice of criticism on the show— and if we’re going to give them an “American Idol” analog— the Randy Jackson. Remember when Jackson was the lightweight panelist on “Idol?” Now he’s positively a Thor-sized hammer of sound critique compared to Jennifer Lopez, who will be played by the part of Demi Lovato on “X Factor,” and Steven Tyler, who will be played by Spears.

After  the first season on U.S. television didn’t deliver the ratings he’d bragged endlessly about, Cowell knew he had to shake things up. Out went judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones and in are Lovato/Spears and a host to be named later. 

Not that we expected anything sage or profound from their comments at the official announcement, but they did nothing to quell my doubts that Spears and Lovato will look at the artists and mutter encouragements that offer little in the way of true instruction.

Spears talked about how “fun” the experience will be and how she’s ready to find the “true star.” Lovato said she was “excited to represent my generation.” And, well, L.A. Reid, who has worked with some truly exquisite talents as a songwriter, producer and record head, said, “I’m the luckiest guy on the planet, standing new to these three. This is the Rolls Royce of television right here.”  Come again? Did he turn into a pillar of salt after he said that?

We’ve already expressed our doubts about Spears’ ability to provide any meaningful commentary here, in part because we simply don’t remember anything truly insightful ever coming out of her mouth during an interview.  And, furthermore, as many of the commenters said on my original piece, is someone who has to lip sync her way through her live show the best person to judge a contest that features artists performing live? But she does bring with her more than 20 million friends on Facebook and 16 million Twitter followers, making her a one-woman promo machine.

So what about 19-year-old Lovato? She’s been on TV since she was a tot on “Barney & Friends,” and then on her own Disney show, “Sonny With A Chance.”  She’s breaking out of the Disney camp,  but while under its reign, she showed to be an actress with a nice comedic style and her voice is a strong pop one.  “X Factor” accepts contestants as young as 12, which means that many of the younger applicants will have grown up with Lovato.

Here’s what else they have in common: both present as very sympathetic people who have been through their own shares of issues lately in a very public and cruel arena and have seemingly bounced back with admirable resilience. Other than making them compassionate to other people’s struggles, I’m not sure how that qualifies them to be judges, but I know that some folks will be tuning in simply to see if Spears is a trainwreck or if she is cogent, and to see if Lovato is as fragile before the camera as she has hinted in some interviews that she may be. Even though I know that’s how the game is played, it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.

Lovato has turned her struggles into a campaign to help fellow teenage girls realize they don’t have to be “perfect” by Hollywood’s impossibly strict standards. If she applies her mentoring through that filter, she could bring a very interesting and valuable perspective to the proceedings. But my fear is that both will be so sensitive to the pain they have gone through that they will be reduced to little more than “good job!” for fear of hurting someone. They’ll have to learn the difference between being mean and giving truly constructive criticism in order to be effective judges.

They will have a very short grace period to prove they have wisdom from their decades of experience to impart or are going to be so entertaining that their lack of anything meaningful to say doesn’t matter. Lovato has impressed me in interviews as someone relatable and smart, so, while she’s still incredibly young for such a gig, she is absolutely used to the rigors of a weekly TV show.

Time and time again, I come down to Spears being the weak link here...and the main draw.

We’ll be watching when the new season bows this fall.

Will you watch to see how Spears and Lovato fare?

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<p>will.i.am's &quot;This Is Love&quot;</p>

will.i.am's "This Is Love"

Listen: Will.I.Am's new song, 'This Is Love'

HitFix
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Readers
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Eva Simons plays the Fergie role on the solo shot

Will.I.Am’s solo efforts have yet to yield any of the traction that his Black Eyed Peas’ success has brought.

Will that change with “This is Love,” presumably the next single from his forthcoming solo album, #willpower. The first single was non-starter “T.H.E.” featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger.  Our guess is that the answer is no.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

Credit: RCA/19

Album Review: Adam Lambert's continuing evolution on 'Trespassing'

HitFix
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Readers
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The former 'American Idol' runner-up has a lot to say on sophomore set

Adam Lambert’s sophomore major label set, “Trespassing” opens with a full blast of bravado. “Wait til you get a load of me!,” the American Idol season eight runner up declares over and over on the thumping, hand-clapping tune, redolent of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” crossed with Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

Ready or not, Lambert is kicking down the door. He’s not just coming in, he’s claiming a seat at the head of the table and you will be served. The 15-track set is awash in Lambert’s influences: the aforementioned Queen and Michael Jackson, as well as Scissor Sisters, George Michael, and, even, Parliament.  To his credit, while he wears these inspirations with obvious homage, he still creates his own document here with his own history overriding those of any of his musical touchstones.

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<p>&nbsp;Carrie Underwood</p>

 Carrie Underwood

Credit: AP Photo

Carrie Underwood's 'Blown Away' stays still atop the Billboard 200

Only two titles look good to debut in next week's Top 10

Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” should stay tied down to the top spot on the Billboard 200 next week, as it looks to be the only title that will surpass 100,000 in sales.

With a few days left of reporting until the chart’s Sunday close, the Top 10 looks relatively static with only two new entries: Silversun Pickup’s “Neck of the Woods,” at No. 6 and Tank’s “This Is How I Feel” at No. 9.

Adele’s non-stoppable “21” will be at No. 2 with up to 95,000 copies sold and “Now That’s What I Call Music” at No. 3. Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” and Norah Jones’ “Little Broken Hearts” are too close to call for No. 4 with both aiming for 60,000-65,000.

Similarly, while Hits Daily Double has “Neck of The Woods” projected to land at No. 7, that title and One Direction’s “Up All Night” are too close to call with both targeted to sell between 35,000-40,000.

B.o.B’s “Strange Clouds” rounds out the top 10 at No. 10 selling up to 27,000 copies.

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<p>&nbsp;Adam Lambert</p>

 Adam Lambert

Credit: AP Photo

Interview: Adam Lambert on 'Trespassing,' fierceness, and a memorable fan

Has living in the spotlight gotten any easier for the former 'American Idol' contestant?

On May 15, Adam Lambert’s second post- “American Idol” comes out. “Trespassing” is an extremely ambitious song cycle that takes the listener though life’s highs and lows. For Lambert’s fans, it come as no surprise that he holds nothing back whether he’s leading the party or in the depths of despair, aching to be understood.

Lambert talked to Hitfix about creating the follow up to 2009’s platinum “For Your Entertainment” and how, even though he makes it look easy, sometimes he struggles to be “fierce.Read his comments about fellow "American Idol" contestant Kris Allen's new single here.

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Should the Grammy Awards expand to 10 contenders instead of five?
Credit: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

Should the Grammy Awards expand to 10 contenders instead of five?

Will they follow the Latin Grammys and Academy Awards' lead?

Following the lead of the Academy Awards, the Latin Grammys have now decided to expand the field for album of the year from five to 10 contenders. The Latin Grammys come under the same umbrella as the Grammys: the National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences (NARAS), though the two have separate boards of trustees. Should the Grammys follow suit? 

The Latin Grammys will also expand the nominees to 10 in the other three general categories: song, record and best new artist.

While a representative of the Recording Academy told the Los Angeles Times that the move does not mean the Grammy Awards will do the same, you can bet that the idea is being floated around.

[More after the jump...]

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Interview: Silversun Pickups discuss dancing, helicopter rides, and Carrie Underwood
Credit: Dangerbird Records

Interview: Silversun Pickups discuss dancing, helicopter rides, and Carrie Underwood

Latest album, 'Neck of the Woods' brings a new groove to band's sound

There’s not a lot in Silversun Pickups’ swirling, heavy music to indicate the Los Angeles  alternative rock band’s four members enjoy busting a move, but it turns out they do — often resulting in collateral damage.

“We love to have dance parties,” says drummer Christopher Guanlao. “When we’re on the road, one of the things to kill the boredom is to have a dance party on the bus. A lot of the times, they’re impromptu, but they go off. We’ve broken tables, lighting fixtures...Luckily our techs are amazing and fix it before we have to return the bus.”

Some of those dance vibes found their way onto SSPU’s third full-length album, “Neck of the Woods,” which came out Tuesday.  The album looks like it could debut in the top 5on the Billboard 200, making it the band’s highest charting set yet, topping 2009’s “Swoon,” which bowed at No. 7.

While the songs, including first single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings),” are instantly recognizable as SSPU, there’s an added groove that is fully deliberate, whether on the propulsive, insistent blast of opening track “Skin Graph,” the machine-gun rat-a-tat on “Out of Breath,” or full-on dance tune  “The Pit.”  “We definitely wanted to have more of a groove to the songs,” Guanlao says. “For me, it was really fun to actually do it; to step away from the rock drumming for a bit and get into a groove” on some of the tracks.

In fact, Guanlao was kept very busy on the album, so much so that he’s still figuring out how to replicate the songs live. “There’s definitely a lot more drumming involved on this one and a lot more percussive drumming,” he says. “This was the first time I played a shaker on a song. I did a lot of drum stuff, extra drum rolls, extra drum accents, that goes throughout the songs. It definitely feels like there’s a lot more going on. It gets tricky when you think about it in the live aspect: All of a sudden I realize if I only had that extra arm, I could do everything perfectly.”

For “Neck Of the Woods,” the band, which also includes vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert, bassist/background vocalist Nikki Monniger and keyboardist Joseph Lester— switched to a new producer, Jacknife Lee, best known for his work with R.E.M., Snow Patrol and Weezer.

“He took out a lot of the fat,” Guanlao says. “If we didn’t have Jacknife around, we might have been going into the prog rock world. We tend to kind of write a lot of parts for songs and I think it worked well with ‘Swoon,’ but we definitely didn’t want to continue in that route. We’d give him a song that had six or seven changes and he’d say we only need three or four and he was right. We didn’t need two choruses in a song, we need one good one.”

For a brief time after the album’s release on Tuesday, it was No. 1 on iTunes album chart, a moment captured by one of the group’s managers, who took a screen shot and sent it to the band. “I was like, that‘s crazy!,” Guanlao. “I was kind of saying, What a bizarre world where we’re above Carrie Underwood. It’s great. The support that we’ve gotten from all our fans, it means the world to us. That’s why I do it.”

The band remains signed to Los Angeles indie Dangerbird Records, long after majors came calling following the group’s success with “Swoon.”  Aubert recently told Billboard that there was nothing a major label could do for them, except, as he joked, offer them a helicopter ride.

Which, quite frankly, sounds pretty sweet to Guanlao. “I read that article, and I was like, ‘I want a helicopter ride...I don’t know what he’s talking about, that’s kind of cool’,” he says laughing. “It you put that on the offer, that’s something to consider, though it’s not a yacht.”

Seriously, Guanlao agrees with Aubert. “He’s absolutely right. What can a major label give us right now? The days of huge signing advances that you could live off for the rest of your life are gone and we wouldn’t really want to do that anyway. We’re happy where we are.”

SSPU’s touring dance card is full through the rest of the year, a prospect that intimidated Guanlao until the band nailed the songs on “Neck” live. “Two months ago, when we didn’t know how to play the songs, that’s daunting. Now, it’s like, ‘let’s bring it on!’”

Plus, Guanlao already has some ideas for early 2013. The Los Angeles Lakers fan is a basketball junkie who recently “freaked out” when he met the Orlando Magic’s JJ Redick, especially because Redick is a huge fan of SSPU’s and had even tweeted about listening to the band’s song, “Royal We,” to get pumped up before a game.

Guanlao shared his love for the Lakers with ESPN, hoping it might bring him a little love from his team. I [tweeted] the ESPN [article] to the Lakers, like, ‘Hey, check it out! If you have some tickets.. Do you need a mascot?” He’s heard nothing so far.

Hey Lakers, we hear he may have some spare time after December. 

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