Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy' still rides high on singles chart

Nico & Vinz and Magic! also soaring with debut


Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” featuring Charli XCX, remains in the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 as the Australian rapper’s break through single spends its fourth week at No. 1.

She also holds at No. 2 as the featured guest on Ariana Grande’s “Problem.”  We’ll see if her guest spot on T.I.’s new track, “No Mediocre,” also zooms onto the chart.

Newcomers Magic! continue their zoom up the charts as first single, “Rude,” soars 7-3, pushing John Legend’s “All of Me” down one spot to No. 4. Learn more about reggae/pop act here.

Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle,” featuring Snoop Dogg, stays at No. 5 (Snoop Dogg also comes onto the chart at No. 26 as the guest on Psy’s “Hangover” at No. 26.). DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s  “Turn Down For What” drops 4-6.

Pop duo Nico & Vinz’s “Am I Wrong” continues its upward trajectory, rising 8-7. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” drops 6-8. Both Calvin Harris’ “Summer” and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” stay at No. 9 and No. 10 respectively, according to Billboard.

Josh Groban

Josh Groban on 'Rising Star' and lessons learned from Kelly Ripa

What makes the singer feel like 'half a person?'

 

Josh Groban is, of course, known for his warm baritone, but he also has proven quite an affable host, as his guest stints on “Live With Kelly” showed.  The long-running morning show used his as a frequent fill in and the rumor was that he was considered a possible replacement for Regis Philbin before ultimately selecting Michael Strahan.

So it makes sense that Groban will serve as host for “Rising Star,” ABC’s new summer talent competition. He tells Hitfix that he’s certainly seen the work of fellow singing show hosts “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest and “The Voice’s” Carson Daly, but he plans to set his own path.

“I think the reason they got me is I’m me,” he says. “I don’t want it to be anything other than what I have to offer. Maybe they’ll like it maybe they won’t.”

He adds that he learned a lot about live TV from his co-hosting duties with Kelly Ripa: “When you have someone as brilliant as Kelly to riff off of and have dialogue with, she makes it look easy,” he says. “When you can make it look easy and put the audience at ease, that’s when it’s the best. That’s what I learned from that experience.”

Though he’s a host, he’ll also serve as an expert, “to give [the contestants] advice before they go out there, to talk to them about their song choices, to talk to them about bringing out that uniqueness that they may not know they have.”  The official experts are Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris. Check out our interview with Kesha here.

Groban goes back on tour in August, while “Rising Star” is still in its 10-week run. It will be a bit of a juggling act, he admits: “I’m going to do a little flying. I’m going to have some great outdoor orchestra concerts this summer, mostly on the east coast this summer.”

“Rising Star,” which debuts June 22,  will rely on the experts and 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 to pass on to the next round— or stay down. While the experts will get to vote (their total vote share is 7%), 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 “Rising Star” app here.

Groban also explains in the video how the show works for viewers on the west coast, given that “Rising Star” airs live and the results are announced in real time. The short answer is yes,  Pacific time zone votes will count too.

Sam Smith

Album Review: Sam Smith's 'In The Lonely Hour' is this year's most promising debut

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He backs up the hype with true talent


Sam Smith has already been declared the next big thing in his native U.K., where he has proved to be a superstar in the making. Will he similarly be able to conquer America with his debut full-length album, “In The Lonely Hour?” In a word, yes.

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Kesha

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.”

OK Go

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

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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.

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

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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.

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.

Maroon 5

Maroon 5 returns with driving new single, 'Maps'

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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.