Born to Rock: Bruce Springsteen's 7 best albums
Credit: AP Photo

Born to Rock: Bruce Springsteen's 7 best albums

On the eve of 'Wrecking Ball,' a look at the Boss's finest

Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album, “Wrecking Ball,” comes out March 6 and The Beat Goes On is blatantly stealing a page from our colleague Kris Tapley’s “The Lists” concept. In anticipation of the new set, we’re ranking The Boss’s Top 7 albums. Take a look at our gallery and let the debate begin.

Springsteen’s canon of work dates back more nearly 40 years to 1973’s “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” While there was a major shift with his third album, 1975’s “Born To Run,” in terms of transforming from a proud Dylan wanna-be who crammed as many words as possible in to a song to someone who found his own identity and voice, what hasn’t changed has been his commitment to his craft and his live show.

At 62, Springsteen has become the chronicler of our times. Or as he says, it has always been his job to write about the distance between the American dream and American reality. Unlike many other artists whose songs aren’t rooted in any specific geography,  Springsteen’s narrative spans from sea-to-shining-sea. He is a product of New Jersey and the U.S.A. and the lyrical territory he roams in song seldom extends beyond our shores (despite the fact that he is now a bigger concert draw in Europe than he is here).

But to concentrate on Springsteen’s role as social commentator only shows one part of the story. Over the last several decades, Springsteen has delivered some of the goofiest, most joyous songs ever committed to record, whether it be the rollicking “Ramrod,” the double entendre-filled “Pink Cadillac,” the giddy “So Young And In Love” or the purely jubilant “Rosalita.”

It felt like a cheat to include live albums on here, so I didn’t. (I also chose not to include any bootlegs). However, any Springsteen fan’s collection is incomplete without two sets: “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Hammersmith Odeon London 75” and “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live 1975-1985.” The Hammersmith set, which wasn’t officially released until  2005, captures a moment in time: Springsteen's first U.K. show that has now become the stuff of legend. Springsteen was freaking out beforehand as Columbia’s hype machine was in full effect and he wanted the music to speak for itself. The loose-limbed, sped-up “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” is a frenetic frenzy, and the 13-minute “E Street Shuffle” feels like it traverses space and time. It’s nothing less than revelatory to hear a 25-year old Springsteen, still so early in his career, at such command of his stage craft. 

“Live 1975-1985,” if nothing else, shows the tremendous range of the E Street Band and serves as a de-facto greatest hits. It was also the first album to capture the wide-ranging magic of Springsteen's show including such chestnuts as his covers of “Raise Your Hand” and “War” and songs that lay flat on vinyl, like “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” but came alive in concert.

There are high notes on every album released, even the ones I would rank toward the bottom of a list should I have included the full catalog, such as 2009's “Working On A Dream” (though I’m hard pressed to find anything good to say about “Queen of the Supermarket”). As with all such lists, this one is totally subjective. For example, though I find them among his most cinematic works, I find myself seldom returning to  largely acoustic, solo albums like “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Devils & Dust” 

Before you flip to the gallery, if you aren’t a Springsteen fanatic (yet), watch this video, and  see what joy he brings millions of us (plus, there are wonderful shots of dearly departed members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons):


<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Happy 18th Birthday Justin Bieber! He gives fans a present: a new single

How can you help make his birthday a record-setting one?

Baby, baby, baby: Justin Bieber turns 18 today and like any kid who comes of legal age, he’s celebrating by... appearing on “Ellen.” But it turns out pretty sweet: his manager Scooter Braun presents him with a Fisker Karmer, a sporty looking environmental friendly car.

Then Megan Mullally sings a special rendition of “Fever” for Bieber and rubs up against him in a way that was probably illegal in several states until today when he came of age. Again, just what every 18-year old wants: to be serenaded and pawed by a woman older than his mom...

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Ne-Yo and J-Hud make quite the combination in the new video for 'Think Like A&nbsp;Man.'</p>

Ne-Yo and J-Hud make quite the combination in the new video for 'Think Like A Man.'

Watch: Jennifer Hudson has her pick of men in new video for 'Think Like A Man'

Who will vie for J-Hud's affections?

Jennifer Hudson may be thinking like a man in her new video, but she looks all woman in the sexy clip.

“Think Like A Man” is from the movie of the same name, which, incredibly as it sounds, is based on Steve Harvey’s self-help book, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.”  Here, “lady” is switched to “woman” in the lyrics, but the idea is the same.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
Kelly Clarkson performs at the 2012 Grammys.
Kelly Clarkson performs at the 2012 Grammys.
Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' shows its strength on the Billboard Hot 100

Is it enough to catapult the tune back to No. 1?

Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” gains back its strength as the song vaults back up to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after slipping to No. 4.

But the real story on the chart this week is the success of British boy band The Wanted, who gain their first Top 10 hit as “Glad You Came” soars 23-5. The Wanted should be very glad that “Glee” covered the song last week, helping catapult it up the chart.

Between the former “American Idol” champ and the latest recipients of “Glee’s” largesse are Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain,” which stays at No. 2, fun.’s “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae, which gains three spots to rise 6-4  and last week’s No. 1, Katy Perry’s “Part of Me,” which falls to No. 4, according to Billboard.

The bottom half of the Top 10 is basically rearranging the players with no significant leaps:  Rihanna’s “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris move 8-6, Flo Rida’s “Goo Feeling” moves 12-7,  David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” featuring Nicki Minaj fires back 11-8, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa’s “Young, Wild & Free” zips 14-9 and Minaj’s “Starships” slips one to No. 10

Why do so many tunes slide back up into the Top 10 after falling out? The Grammys. That’s why. Last week, a number of tracks saw huge digital gains following the Grammys so the chart went a little askew. Those tracks have now fallen out of the Top 10 and the previous hits have reoccupied this top 10 spots.

Also, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” which had climbed to No. 3 following her Feb. 11 death, dives to No. 30.

Three songs, at least of one of them destined for the Top 10, debut on the chart: B.o.B.’s “So Good” comes in at No. 11, Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” at No. 24 and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” at No. 39.
 

<p>Mariah Carey </p>

Mariah Carey

Credit: AP Photo

Mariah Carey plans first post-babies concert for March 1

How can you get in on the action? Is new music coming?

Mariah Carey’s most devoted fans will get the chance to see her March 1 in her first post-baby concert.

Carey will entertain her little lambs in a private show at New York’s Gotham Hall. To attend, you must be a member of her Honey B. Fly fan club and be 21 or over (or accompanied by an adult).

Though the show is extremely limited, we’re hearing less than 100, it will be streamed online live. It is part of the Plot Your Escape concert series. Simultaneous concerts by Maroon 5 in Chicago, Cee Lo Green in Los Angeles and Mary J. Blige in New Orleans will also occur.  P. Diddy will appear with Carey.

No word on if she’ll debut new material, but there’s a chance. She tweeted earlier this week that she was recording vocals on a new song.

To watch the concerts, just click here at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST on March 1.

While a tour does not seem to be in the offering, Carey has also announced that she will perform a the Mawazine Festival in Morocco on May 26. That seems altogether fitting given that one of her twins is named Morocco.
 

<p>Davy Jones (far right) and The Monkees</p>

Davy Jones (far right) and The Monkees

Reflections on The Monkees' Davy Jones and his shiny, shiny hair

Farewell to our first crush

Davy Jones wasn’t a teen idol for me. He was much, much more. He was whatever that very first crush is that you have long before you’re a teen or even a tween. I was little-- maybe four--when the Monkees were all the rage, but I remember that I’d feel all silly and gooey inside when I would watch “The Monkees” on Saturday with my older sister, Jeannie, and Davy would come on screen.

Plus, Davy developed crushes with whiplash speed and every time he’d see a new girl he liked--oh, every episode or so-- they added little white stars to his eyes in post-production and they would twinkle even more.  Awwwwwwww. I knew that Davy was looking at some Malibu Barbie, but thinking of me. His hair was shiny as a pony’s and he was as frisky as a young colt...and as non-threatening, which is the key to any young crush.

The musical heroes of our youth are sacrosanct and stay forever pure in our hearts. I remember my editor at Billboard telling me that. It instantly came back to my mind today when I heard of Jones’ passing. Whether your first crush was Jones, Shaun Cassidy, a member of New Kids on the Block or the Backstreet Boys or Justin Bieber, that boyish sprite will forever remain in your heart in some way.

As an adult, I interviewed Jones a few times because of the reunion tours and other assorted ventures, and what I remember so clearly is  the first time I met him, I was shaking as if I were little again. I felt like I should ask him to sign my pillow case or something so I could practice kissing on it (don’t worry, I didn’t).

Read Full Post
<p>Whitney Houston and Rihanna</p>

Whitney Houston and Rihanna

Credit: AP Photo

Hitfix confirms Whitney Houston biopic is a no go

Rep says no film is in the works—with or without Rihanna

Hiftix has independently confirmed that any rumors of a Whitney Houston biopic, featuring Rihanna or anyone else, are totally false.

The internet lit up over the last several hours after the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that it could happen, with Jennifer Hudson, Vivica Fox and Jordin Sparks also in the running. Sparks co-stars with Houston in the singer's last film, "Sparkle," out this summer.

However,  it looks like the report was false. Clive Davis’s representative confirmed to us that it "100% false."  Davis, signed and mentored Houston at Arista Records. As someone who has covered Davis for nearly two decades, including through many of the Whitney years, the suggestion. And it was.

Even though this report isn't true, we know it’s only a matter of time before someone does start to work on a Houston biopic. As the fascination with her following her death has shown, it’s too interesting and tragic a story for it not to happen, but we hope she gets to rest in peace just a little bit longer.

In other Houston news, Target has pulled a greeting card, in stores long before her death, that poked fun of her love for bad boys.
 

<p>My Morning Jacket</p>

My Morning Jacket

Credit: HitFix/Katie Hasty

My Morning Jacket, Wilco headline Forecastle Festival

Louisville fest also includes Sleigh Bells, Neko Case and more

The Forecastle Festival curators My Morning Jacket will headline the Louisville event, along with Wilco and Bassnectar.

Other acts for the July 13-15 Waterfront Park fest include Sleigh Bells, Girl Talk, Neko Case, Andrew Bird, The Head and the Heart and Galactic. With more acts to be added, the final line-up will total 70 bands on five stages.

My Morning Jacket’s involvement is a way to give back to the band’s hometown. The band collaborates with the festival’s organizers on the event, which focuses on music, art and environmental activism.

Tickets for Forecastle, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary are $49.50 for single day passes. Three-day weekend and VIP passes are also available.

 

Listen: Norah Jones wants you out of her head and heart on 'Happy Pills'

Listen: Norah Jones wants you out of her head and heart on 'Happy Pills'

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
First single from Danger Mouse-produced 'Little Broken Hearts' bounces along

Norah Jones wants you to just leave her alone. On her new tune, “Happy Pills,” she’s anything but when her ex comes around.

The mid-tempo tune has a bounce to it, even though lyrically it’s a fairly sad state of affairs.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>John Mayer in April 2011</p>

John Mayer in April 2011

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Is John Mayer singing about Taylor Swift on new single, 'Shadow Days?'

HitFix
B
Readers
B+
Or is it Jennifer Aniston or Jessica Simpson?

“Well I ain’t no troublemaker and I never meant her harm, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t make it hard to carry on.”

Hmmm. That line comes about a minute in to John Mayer’s new single, “Shadow Days.” Is he talking about Taylor Swift, who supposedly wrote the excoriating “Dear John” from “Speak Now” about him after he broke her heart? He could be talking about Jessica Simpson or Jennifer Aniston. Really, there’s not a shortage of potentials here.

(Listen to the track here)

Regardless, the track, the first single from Mayer’s forthcoming fifth album, “Born and Raised,”  out May 22, is full of contrition. It’s an apology to the world at large, almost, as he sings, “I’m a good man with a good heart, had a tough time, got a rough start, but I finally learned to let it go.” Mayer starts a tour on April 9.

Read Full Post