<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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My top nine concerts of 2011: Adele, Death Cab for Cutie and... Tom Jones?
Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

My top nine concerts of 2011: Adele, Death Cab for Cutie and... Tom Jones?

Did your favorite act make the list?

When I looked back at the shows I attended over the past 12 months,  I went to plenty of concerts from newer artists, but as I compiled the list of the 2011 performances that stuck with me and impressed me the most, the veterans rose to the top. I don’t know if that’s because their experience trumps what often passes for showmanship these days or because it was simply a banner year for older acts to hit the road, but I was surprised how many of these acts who have been criss-crossing the world with their music for decades now made the list.

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Credit: AP Photo

Who knocks Rihanna's 'We Found Love' out of No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100?

Is Katy Perry any closer to setting the record with 'The One That Got Away?'

LMFAO’s patience is rewarded as the duo’s “Sexy and I Know It” finally rises to the summit after waiting at No. 2 for seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Its ascent means that Rihanna’s “We Found Love” finds its way out of the top spot, slipping to No. 2.

“Sexy” is LMFAO’s second No. 1, following “Party Rock Anthem” featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock, which ruled for six weeks. For those who love chart minutiae, and who doesn’t, LMFAO is only the second duo, following OutKast, to have successive singles on the Hot 100 since Roxette in 1990-1991, according to Billboard. There’s more good news for LMFAO’s RedFoo and Sky Blu as “Anthem” returns to the top 10, jumping 15-9.

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<p>Adele and Katy Perry</p>

Adele and Katy Perry

Watch: Relive the year in music with Earworm's 2011 United State of Pop mashup

Hear Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Adele in one place

The year is officially over: the 2011 United State of Pop (World Go Boom) mash-up has arrived! Produced by Jordan Roseman, aka DJ Earworm, this year’s edition features snippets of Billboard's top 25 songs on the year including Maroon5’s  “Moves Like Jagger,” Katy Perry’s “E.T.,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass,” and, of course, Adele’s  “Rolling In The Deep” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” This year's bed is built around (and takes its name from)  Perry's "Firework."

We can only imagine how many hours it takes to assemble this montage of seemingly disparate songs and images into a collage that doesn’t hurt to listen to. If you’re interested in more, DJ Earworm has written a book on “mash-up construction,” according to his website.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>&quot;The Hunger Games'&quot; Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence</p>

"The Hunger Games'" Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence

The Decemberists and Arcade Fire join Taylor Swift on 'Hunger Games' album

Who else does producer T Bone Burnett have up his sleeve?

Last week Taylor Swift surprised fans with her collaboration with the Civil Wars on “ Safe and Sound,” from the soundtrack to “The Hunger Games.”  It turns out she’ll be joined by Arcade Fire, the Decemberists on what’s being called a “companion album” to the movie, which opens March 23.

As you’ll recall from past usages of the term, a companion album usually means that many of the songs were “inspired by” the film, but don’t necessarily appear in it. In this case, Grammy winning producer T Bone Burnett is overseeing the companion album: he co-wrote “Safe and Sound” with Swift and the Civil Wars, which already hit No. 1 on iTunes. The Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne wrote “Horn of Plenty” with Burnett, while the Decemberists penned a track called “One Engine.”

No word on the actual release date of the album other than that it will come out on Universal Republic Records in March before the Lionsgate film, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, hits theaters.

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<p>&nbsp;Michael Buble</p>
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 Michael Buble

Who will have the No. 1 album over the holiday? Michael Buble or Adele?

Who will be the only artist to debut in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 next week?

As seems only fitting, Michael Buble’s “Christmas” album looks like a sure shot to continue to be No. 1 over the  holidays as the No. 1 stocking stuffer is projected to sell up to 450,000 to top next week’s Billboard 200.

That means that his album of seasonal standards now pushes past Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” to be the second best-selling album of all of 2011 after Adele’s “21.” That’s some handsome feat, considering the album didn’t come out until Oct. 15 (compared with Adele’s February release and Lady Gaga’s May street date).

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<p>Beyonce made Melinda Newman's top singles list twice.&nbsp; Who else made the list?</p>

Beyonce made Melinda Newman's top singles list twice.  Who else made the list?

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

My Top 20 Singles of 2011: Adele, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and much more

Newcomers and veterans make the list

This year was a decent year for singles. We can't say there were that many songs that consumed us; instead, there was a nice consistency where a broader number of artists, from all genres, supplied us with a steady ration of tunes that made it fun to turn on the car radio and wonder what ear candy would come on.

As you can see, my list also touches on many different genres. Like most folks, music comes at me from all different directions and I long ago stopped listening (or dismissing) music from any one specific format.

As disparate as these songs are, what they all have in common is that there was something compelling in each of them; something that kept me listening to them over and over and drawing me to them, whether it was the beat or a riff or a vocal performance or a lyric. Plus, my criteria is that they all had to be released to radio as singles.

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Listen: Taylor Swift and Civil Wars' 'Safe & Sound' from 'The Hunger Games'
Credit: Lionsgate Music

Listen: Taylor Swift and Civil Wars' 'Safe & Sound' from 'The Hunger Games'

Can you imagine Katniss singing this?

Wow, that Taylor Swift can keep a secret. She surprised her fans very late Thursday night with the perfect Christmas present: a new song, “Safe & Sound,” which will be on “The Hunger Games” soundtrack. Better yet, the lovely, acoustic song features The Civil Wars.

We don’t know much about how the whole thing came about, but Swift started dropping hints via Twitter earlier in the evening that she had a surprise, and then, wham. The song, written by Swift and Civil Wars,  is a lullaby of sorts, as she and The Civil Wars’ Joy Williams gently sing “Just close your eyes, the sun is going down/you’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now/Come morning light, you and I will be safe and sound” as a guitar and drum insistently and powerfully build, but never overwhelm the delicacy of the track. It's one of the prettiest songs we've heard Swift do.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Adele makes Melinda Newman's Top 10 of 2011 best albums list.</p>

Adele makes Melinda Newman's Top 10 of 2011 best albums list.

The Beat Goes On's Top 10 albums of 2011

Adele is a given, the others are not

Making a Top 10 list is hard. Not busting-up-concrete kind of hard, but in an instant-remorse kind of hard. It never fails —the minute it’s unchangeable and I’m locked in, I inevitably remember something that I wish I’d put on the list or a great new album comes out after my deadline (for me, that was Anthony Hamilton’s “Back To Love”). Then other top 10 lists make me realize how many albums I was unable to give a full and fair listen to in their totality, even when I liked the individual tracks I heard. Among the albums in that category this year are Wild Flag’s self-titled set, Cut Copy’s “Zonoscope,” The Weeknd’s “House of Balloons” and tUnE-yArDs’ “whokill.”

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Listen: Katy Perry and B.o.B on 'The One That Got Away' remix

Will it propel the song to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100?

Katy Perry really doesn’t want her current single to be forever known as the song that kept her from setting the record for most No. 1 songs on Billboard Hot 100 from one album...and she’s so close now that she can taste it.

So to help push the song, which was No. 4 last week on the chart, she’s now released this remix featuring B.o.B. Similarly to her remix of “Last Friday Night” featuring Missy Elliott, the new version serves two purposes:  to garner more radio play for the song, but the primary goal is to drive digital downloads sales (both airplay and sales combine to determine chart position). "The One That Got Away" is the sixth single from "Teenage Dream." 

[More after the jump...]

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