<p>Kelly&nbsp;Clarkson performs at the Allstate Fan Fest in New Orleans on Monday.</p>

Kelly Clarkson performs at the Allstate Fan Fest in New Orleans on Monday.

Credit: Cheryl Gerber/AP Images for Allstate

Should artists just shut up and sing when it comes to politics?

Was Kelly Clarkson wrong to endorse Ron Paul?

Today’s Iowa Caucus and Kelly Clarkson’s recent dust-up with her fans after she endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul got me thinking about whether artists should talk politics or just keep their mouths shut unless they are singing.

As we posted yesterday, Clarkson, who initially got her feelings hurt by fans’ criticism following her endorsement, saw a slight bump in album sales after her Paul plug, but it’s impossible to know if that’s because pro-Paul people rushed out to buy the record (unlikely) or if the publicity that ensued simply reminded them that she had a new album out there (likely).

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<p>Justin Bieber during &quot;Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve&quot;</p>

Justin Bieber during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve"

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Justin Bieber wants to wish you a Happy New Year

He's brought Jaden Smith along for the countdown

We’re playing catch-up here, but Justin Bieber is so sincere is his desire to wish us a Happy New Year, who are we to let a few days’ delay stop us?

On “Happy New Year,” a slow jam with Jaden Smith which Bieber tweeted on Dec. 31, Bieber counts down “5-4-3-2-1. Kiss Me.”  Then he advises us that 2012 is a year to be “better, stronger and closer to the people around you,” before suggesting we grab someone special and “you know...”  Every nine-year old Bieber fan is undoubtedly kissing her pillow by this point, pretending it’s Bieber.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Katy Perry at the 2011 Grammy Nominations Live! concert</p>

Katy Perry at the 2011 Grammy Nominations Live! concert

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Katy Perry sings about a man 'that breaks me' on 'Bullet'

Do you like her version or Jessie James' version better?

Oh, don’t think for a second that it’s a coincidence that Katy Perry’s version of “Bullet,” a song about falling for a bad boy leaked out today, only days after word of her divorce from Russell Brand went public.  Note that it’s the first we’ve heard of her since the announcement. Also note the song was written long before she met Brand, so don't get any ideas.

“My heart  was like a ghost town baby and now I’ve met a man that breaks me,” she sings on the track, before an autotuned voice chimes in “My mama warned me about boys like you.”   However, as the title indicates, she gives as good as she gets: “I’m a bullet and I’m headed straight for your heart/it’s going to leave a mark.” Ouch.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Jason Mraz</p>

Jason Mraz

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Jason Mraz shows his softer side on 'I Won't Give Up'

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First track from new album reveals a mellower Mraz

Fans who are familiar with Jason Mraz through his jaunty “The Remedy” or ubiquitous “I’m Yours,” will see a completely different side on “I Won’t Give Up.”

The largely acoustic ballad, which is ripe for a country remake (Rascal Flatts, we are talking to you), is a poignant tale about a lost relationship that Mraz exits with his head held high.

The gentle tone was no doubt influenced by Mraz’s international acoustic tour, which took him through five continents before it wrapped in December.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Dierks Bentley at the 2011 CMAs</p>

Dierks Bentley at the 2011 CMAs

Credit: AP Photo

Dierks Bentley reveals details about going 'Home' on new album

Grammy nominee returns to his country roots after bluegrass set

After flirting with bluegrass on his last album, the Grammy-nominated “Up On the Ridge,”  Dierks Bentley returns to his country roots with “Home,” out Feb. 7.

We’ve already gotten glimpses of the wide range he covers on the set from the party anthem, “Am I The Only One” to the current sentimental single, “Home.”  Bentley has also road tested a number of the songs. We heard the funny, sweet “Diamonds Make Babies” last February and could tell it was a winner (the song, as the title implies, talks about going from engagement to marriage to fatherhood). “Thinking Of You” also addresses Bentley’s role as daddy to two girls.

“I definitely stepped away and explored some things that were more on the fringe of country music for a little while,” said Bentley in a press release. “So, this record feels fresh. It doesn’t feel like a continuation of any other project or series of recordings.  I love being able to try different things musically, and I'm so thankful my fans have followed me to those places.  But, I feel like my real "Home" is in the center of country music."

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Justin Timberlake as Elton John in a still from the music video for John's 2001 song "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore"
Justin Timberlake as Elton John in a still from the music video for John's 2001 song "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore"
Credit: Universal Music Group

5 actors who could play Elton John (and none of them are Justin Timberlake)

We respectfully disagree with Sir Elton's choice to portray him in a biopic

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Elton John said that his No. 1 pick to play him in his forthcoming biopic is Justin Timberlake, “because he played me before in a David LaChapelle video of ‘Rocket Man’ and was superb.”

We saw that video, which played behind John’s performance of “Rocket Man” during his multi-year Las Vegas run of his “Red Piano” show, and agree that Timberlake did a great job portraying John in the early ‘70s, but he’s not our first choice.

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw's new album, 'Emotional Traffic,' set for Jan. 24 release

Will album, which features Ne-Yo, be his last for Curb?

Tim McGraw’s last album for Curb Records will come out Jan. 24.

“Emotional Traffic,” co-produced by McGraw and his longtime producer Byron Gallimore includes “Felt Good On My Lips,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2011, as well as current single, “Better Than I Used to Be.”

The set also features a duet with Ne-Yo on “Only Human.” McGraw is no stranger to blending genres: he and Nelly collaborated on “Over and Over” in 2004.  The album also has a song co-written by McGraw and Martina McBride.

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<p>The cover of Adele's &quot;21&quot;</p>
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The cover of Adele's "21"

Will Adele ring in the New Year headed back to No. 1 on the Billboard 200?

Buble and Bieber likely go bye bye

Bye bye, Buble, bye bye Bieber. If next week’s Billboard 200 follows the usual pattern, most, if not all, of the holiday titles will fall out of the Top 10 next week.

As Michael Buble’s “Christmas” likely vacates the top spot, early signs indicate that Adele’s “21” will move back into No. 1. If so, it will mark her 14th non-consecutive week in the pole position. Billboard projects sales of around 150,000.  “21” is on target to surpass “Titantic,” which spent 16 weeks at No. 1 in 1998.

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<p>&nbsp;Justin Bieber and LMFAO may not share the stage again on New Year's Eve, but you never know...</p>

 Justin Bieber and LMFAO may not share the stage again on New Year's Eve, but you never know...

Credit: AP Photo

Hitfix's New Year's Eve musical guide featuring Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and more

Plus, where can you find Coldplay, Drake, and Blake Shelton?

Repeat after me: There is no shame in staying home on New Year’s Eve. There is no shame in staying home on New Year’s Eve.

If you are hanging at home as 2011 rolls over into 2012, here’s a list of artists you can see on various New Year’s Eve specials as the ball drops. By the way, did you know that Dick Clark started “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” in 1972 so that the crazy kids would have something to watch on TV besides bandleader Guy Lombardo’s Dec. 31 specials?  If none of these appeal, there’s always “The Walking Dead” marathon on AMC or perennial favorite the “Twilight Zone” marathon on Syfy. A number of the programs below break for local news from 11 p.m.-11:30 p.m.

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<p>Elton John</p>

Elton John

Credit: AP Photo

Interview: Elton John and Chris Cornell talk their Golden Globe-nominated tunes

John's duet with Lady Gaga happened 'by accident'

Neither Elton John nor Chris Cornell are newcomers when it comes to writing songs for movies, but the two Golden Globe nominees—and Oscar contenders— tread new ground with their contributions this year. (see the full list of Best Original Song contenders here).

John brought to life two ceramic garden figures in animated feature “Gnomeo & Juliet,” while Cornell took on summarizing the life of the very real Sam Childers, a minister turned crusader in “Machine Gun Preacher.”

I recently spoke to both John and Cornell about their works (for Cornell fans, Kris Tapley’s two-part interview with Cornell earlier this year is a must read).  John and longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote several songs for “Gnomeo & Juliet,” an uplifting retelling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” complete with a happy ending, but only two tunes ended up fitting into the final production:  Golden Globe nominee “Hello, Hello,” John’s duet with Lady Gaga, and “Love Builds a Garden,” a touching song that plays over a montage about two plastic pink flamingos and their very real love story.

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