John Legend and Mary J. Blige join vocal competition summer shows
Credit: AP Photo/Kevin Wolf (Legend and Blige)

John Legend and Mary J. Blige join vocal competition summer shows

Lionel Richie drops out of 'Duets'

In with John Legend, out with Lionel Richie. Richie, who has experienced a staggering career comeback with “Tuskegee,” has dropped out of vocal competition “Duets.”

Citing “scheduling issues,” Richie will not appear on the show, which also features Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they search for singers across the country with whom to sing. The winner  will receive a recording contract from Hollywood Records, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show debuts on ABC this summer.

In other musical competition news, Mary J. Blige has linked with “American Idol” executive producer  Nigel Lythgoe for “Opening Act" on E!  The judges, which also include producer Antonina Armato, will scan the Internet to find unsigned acts and then reward them the chance to open for a big name after running them through a performance boot camp.

Among the acts who have signed on to allow the winner to open one of their shows are Nicki Minaj, Brad Paisley, Jason Mraz, Rod Stewart, LMFAO, Jason Aldean and Gym Class Heroes.

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My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine tees up new album and EP in 2012

First new material since 1991

British band My Bloody Valentine, who built up a cult following in the U.S. before largely disappearing, will release a new album and EP, the group’s Kevin Shields told Mojo (via NME). It would make the group’s first new material since 1991’s “Loveless.”

The new album entails finishing a third album that the group never released after the set got caught in a web of both band and label politics. Shields told Mojo that as he listened to the tracks, “I decided it would be insane not to finish it.”

The new/old album will be followed by an EP of new material, all recorded this year.

The band is also remastering its first two albums, “Isn’t Anything” and “Loveless” for re-release, as well as “EPs 1988-1991,” comprised from previously unreleased material recorded at that time. All come out May 7 in the U.K.  

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<p>Gaslight Anthem</p>

Gaslight Anthem

Credit: Mercury

Listen: The Gaslight Anthem's new tune '45' from new album 'Handwritten'

Does the band's shift to a major label change its sound?

New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem return on July 24 with “Handwritten,” their first album since 2010’s fine “American Slang.”

The set, the group’s fourth album—but first for Mercury Records— was produced by Brendan O’Brien, who has also helmed records for the band’s hero, Bruce Springsteen, as well as Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots.

The band will be previewing new material from the album starting with a show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall on May 16 and Lost Angeles’s Roxy on May 18, with a number of festival dates, including Bamboozle, Metallica's Orion Festival, and Lollapalooza, to follow.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Carrie Underwood, &quot;Blown Away&quot;</p>

Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away"

Credit: Sony Music Nashville

Album Review: Will Carrie Underwood's 'Blown Away' blow you away?

'American Idol's fourth studio set blows hot and cold

When “American Idol” is finally said and done in the year 2143, history will show that Carrie Underwood was the finest vocalist the talent show produced.

She has a purity and power in her voice that none of the other contestants can match. In a world where we’ve grown grateful for singers who can stay on key, Underwood’s talent would stand out in any era.  She’s able to belt without her voice losing any of its strength or fire and on her fourth album, “Blown Away,” out May 1, her confidence as a vocalist and her ability to harness her talent shines throughout, even if the quality of the songs does not.

A bonafide superstar in the country world, Underwood is getting the creme of the crop when it comes to material. Plus she’s coming up with her own ideas: she co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on here, as well as tapping into such top-tier Nashville tunesmiths (and past Underwood contributors) Hillary Lindsey, Josh Kear, Luke Laird and Chris Tompkins, and pop meisters like OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Mutt Lange. The result, however, is a mixed bag with the songs running the gamut from ranking among her her best to wondering who the hell let some of them on the album.

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Credit: AP

Tupac Shakur leads Music Power Rankings for the second week

Beyonce, Maroon5 and Carrie Underwood also make the list

1) Tupac Shakur:  His virtual appearance at Coachella leads to a very real boost in sales as his “Greatest Hits” reenters the Billboard 200 for the first time in 12 years. The title landed at No. 129, with a 571% sales gain over last week.  His track “Hail Mary” saw a 1,530% increase to 13,000 downloads.

2) Beyonce: People names her the World’s Most Beautiful Woman. Blue Ivy coos, “I already knew that.”

3) Record Store Day: The fifth annual event, held April 21, helped indie record stores’ sales soar 26% last week. Guess what? Indie stores are open year round.

4) Ryan Seacrest
:  He will be with us forever and always--or at least through 2014:  He signed a $15 million deal to keep him hosting “American Idol” for two more years.

5) Carrie Underwood: The former “American Idol” champ leads all artists with five nominations for the 2012 CMT Music Awards. Her legs receive 10 nods.

6) Michael Rapino:
The Live Nation head made $11.9 million last year. He can afford to pay the service charge on concert tickets, but what about the rest of us...

7) The Beach Boys:
They kick off their 50th anniversary tour in landlocked Tucson. What? Kokomo was booked?

8) Maroon5: The exposure from “The Voice” continues to pay off for lead singer/coach Adam Levine as the group scores its biggest first week debut ever on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Payphone.” They wanted to call home to share the news, but couldn’t find a working payphone.

9) Death Grips:
They brought in the tastemakers with 2010’s “Exmilitary.”  Now the Sacramento-based industrial hip hop outfit (for lack of a better description) gets ready to grab the rest of the world by the throat with its new Epic Records debut, “The Money Store.”

10) Coachella: The alternative music festival in the desert successfully expands to two weekends with a pair of sellouts and raves all around. As  Mae West said, “too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”

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<p>The cover of Jack White's &quot;Blunderbuss&quot;</p>
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The cover of Jack White's "Blunderbuss"

Jack White 'Blunderbusses' his way to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week

It took a solo record to get him there

Going solo apparently suits Jack White well. The former White Stripe and Raconteur is poised to score his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 next week with his first solo album, “Blunderbuss.”

That means Lionel Richie’s two-week run at No. 1 with “Tuskegee” ends, but Richie only slips to No. 3, with Adele’s “21” rising 3-2, according to Hits Daily Double.

White is one of four likely new titles in the top 10: Country singer Lee Brice’s “Hard 2 Love”  is in a dead heat for No. 6, vying with Jason Mraz’s  “Love is a Four-Letter Word” and fellow country artist Kip Moore’s “Up All Night.” With two days left until the chart closes, they are all slated to sell between 35,000-40,000. The last new entry will be The Wanted’s self-titled EP at No. 10.

For those aware of album titles, Moore’s entry means that there will be two albums in the Top 10 next week with the same title: Moore’s set and One Direction’s “Up All Night,” which will probably be No. 4. 

Rounding out the top 10, Nicki Minaj’s former No. 1, “ Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” will be at No. 5 and Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” at No. 9.

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<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Watch: John Mayer takes us on a trip through his 'Shadow Days' on new video

Roll the windows down and enjoy the scenery

Pack your bags, we’re riding shotgun on a road trip with John Mayer. In the video for “Shadow Days,” he takes us on a triptych across the West and Southwest-- from California to Idaho and Arizona and beyond. He’s traveling solo, but there are stops along the way: a diner,  a convenience story, a guitar shop.

The shaggy-haired Mayer is sporting a hat much like the kind producer Don Was, who helmed  Mayer's new album, “Born & Raised,” sports, as well as a few days’ scruff so we’re thinking Was definitely rubbed off on him not only musically, but fashion-wise. And he certainly got a beautifully nuanced guitar performance out of him on "Shadow Days." 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart</p>

Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart

Credit: AP Photos

Exclusive: 'AI's' Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams combining on new song

When will we hear the new collaboration?

As fans will see for themselves when they hear Haley Reinhart’s debut album, “Listen Up,” out May 22, the  “American Idol” season 10 contestant has really come into her own. Her sultry voice wrapping around the album's  jazzy and soulful pop melodies recalls Amy Winehouse, Dusty Springfield, and Regina Spektor.

Though her fellow Season 10 contestant and buddy Casey Abrams does not appear on her album, it sounds like she might guest on his forthcoming Concord album, set for release this summer. The two released a spirited version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" as a Christmas gift to their fans and have reunited for more.

We interviewed Reinhart yesterday about the new album, but also asked if the pair had recorded anything new. “Yes, we actually just had something in the mix and I’ll let him talk about that; it’s nothing that I’ll give away," Reinhart said. "But yes, we are getting together and doing more stuff...We could never leave each other in that way. We have to continue to do stuff together.”

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: AP Photo

Will TLC bring Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes back to life on reunion tour?

Two remaining members are booking dates, according to reports

First Tupac, now Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes?

Ten years after her death, Lopes’ bandmates in TLC told TMZ that they are planning a reunion tour and hope to make Lopes’ image and voice a part of the concert.

Lopes “appeared” with remaining members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas once before posthumously, according to MTV, on what was called TLC’s Final Concert at a 2003 radio show. Lopes’ image was projected onto video screens.

TMZ reports that the group has already book five cities on the 2012 tour, with more to be added. While the outlet inferred that she would appear “Tupac” style,  it’s unclear if Watkins and Thomas plan to use old footage of Lopes or create new footage as Digital Domain and AC Concepts with Shakur’s image for Coachella.

More as it develops. We gave our thoughts on the matter here.

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Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Usher wants to make you 'Scream' on new single

Clunky lyrics weigh down the groove

Usher moves from the dance floor to the bedroom on new single, “Scream.” 

The club thumper is all about pleasing his woman and living in the moment. Although the mood is totally set by the sexy, mid-tempo groove, some of the lyrics definitely go down as his worst. We can live with the trite “Imagine me whisper in your ear that I wanna take off all your clothes,” but “Relax and get on your back if you want to scream” sounds decidedly unromantic and a little creepy, even coming from someone as smooth and undoubtedly skilled as Usher.

[More after the jump...]

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