<p>Lady Gaga's &quot;Born This Way&quot;</p>

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way"

Predicting the 2012 Grammy Awards: Album of the Year

Is Adele a lock?

Album of the Year is the last award presented on the Grammy Awards telecast for good reason: it’s the fairest award of them all and the one that every artist dreams of winning  Here are the contenders for the 54th annual Grammy Awards, which will air Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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Train rolls on with new album, 'California 37'

Train rolls on with new album, 'California 37'

Set kicks off with first single, 'Drive By'

Rock group Train is keeping up the Golden State theme. Following 2009’s multi-platinum “Save Me, San Francisco,” the band returns with “California 37” on April 17.

The album, as well as first single, the infectious “Drive By,” was produced in San Francisco and Los Angeles with Butch Walker and Espionage. The tune has skyrocketed up the charts and is already at No. 17 on the adult top 40.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Adele in &quot;Rolling in the Deep&quot;</p>

Adele in "Rolling in the Deep"

Predicting the 2012 Grammy Awards: Song of the Year

Adele and Kanye West face off

The Grammy for Song of the Year is one of the most coveted awards. Unlike Record of the Year, which salutes the performer and producer, Song of the Year goes to the songwriter. Therefore, a good rule of thumb when trying to differentiate between the two often-confused categories is to think about how the nominated song sounds stripped down to just a singer and a piano or acoustic guitar. Does it still work on that level with all bells and whistles removed? If so, it’s a good candidate. Below are this year’s contenders.

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<p>The Fray</p>

The Fray

Credit: AP Photo

Hitfix Interview: The Fray's Isaac Slade on what he learned from U2's Bono

Why new album, 'Scars & Stories,' almost never was

As The Fray came together to work on what would become its third Epic album, “Scars & Stories,” the quartet had a collective dark night of the soul; one that could have spelled the end for the multi-platinum piano rock act best known for radio smashes such as “How To Save A Life” and “Over My Head (Cable Car).”

They were in the studio working up songs for “S&S,” out today, and “all four of us were coming of age,” says co-founder/lead singer Isaac Slade. “I was turning 30. We were trying to figure out who we are, what we want to do, how long we want to be in a band. We were partly excited that we get another chance, but partly afraid we were going to be irrelevant. It was a bad, bad week.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Paul McCartney's &quot;Kisses on the Bottom&quot;</p>

Paul McCartney's "Kisses on the Bottom"

Album Review: Paul McCartney's 'Kisses On The Bottom'

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Does his standards album rise to the top?

With the impeccable pedigree of Diana Krall and Tommy LiPuma behind the boards as producers (and with Krall’s band backing Sir Paul), there’s no question that Paul McCartney’s new album, “Kisses On The Bottom,” is going to sound tasteful and smooth. And it does. At times, so much it hurts. It’s as if you can hear every bristle on the brushes as they hit the drums and every plucked upright bass string. There is not a note out of place.

This is your grandfather’s McCartney: forget about imagining any cute head shaking, that he still, improbably, pulls off at 69. Focused primarily on songs from the ‘20s-‘50s, McCartney is paying homage to the music his father loved and that he grew up listening to. Plus, he penned two originals.  That means we hear  McCartney crooning, which, quite frankly, he doesn’t seem particularly comfortable doing at times, such as on  “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” "Kisses," which takes its cheeky title from a line in the opening track, Fats Domino's “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter," is out today.

[More after the jump...]

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Album Review: Dierks Bentley proves there's no place like 'Home'

Album Review: Dierks Bentley proves there's no place like 'Home'

HitFix
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Unless it's the local bar

Dierks Bentley’s last album, the Grammy-nominated, bluegrass-flavored “Up On the Ridge,” showcased a previously hidden depth and it seems to have given the country singer an extra boost of confidence that he carries into “Home,” his sixth studio album for Capitol Records.

The set, out Feb. 7, has already spawned two hits: the chart topping “Am I The Only One,” and the thoughtful patriotic title track, which was informed by the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and others in Bentley’s home state of Arizona.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Credit: AP Photo

Predicting the 2012 Grammy Awards: Best New Artist

Could Skrillex make the Grammys look hip?

We continue with our countdown to the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, which air Feb. 12 on CBS, with a look at the Best New Artist category.

Best New Artist

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<p>M.I.A. gives the world the middle finger during Madonna's Super Bowl Half-Time show.</p>

M.I.A. gives the world the middle finger during Madonna's Super Bowl Half-Time show.

Credit: AP Photo/NBC

M.I.A. owes Madonna a big apology after Super Bowl stunt

Was she out of line?

Here are two words I thought I would never write: Poor Madonna.

Within an hour of Super Bowl XLVI’s conclusion, the focus had already shifted off Madge's half-time performance onto M.I.A., who, for whatever reason, decided to act like a total brat and shoot the bird while performing “Give Me All Your Luvin.”

For anyone who thinks it was cool and oh so rebellious, you’re dead wrong. It was disrespectful and rude. Any six year old knows how to give the finger and it takes about that much smarts and imagination. M.I.A. was Madonna’s invited guest and, if nothing else, she should have realized that her little expression would totally take the focus off of the star...or maybe that was her goal.

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<p>Nicki Minaj, Madonna and MIA&nbsp;give you all their lovin' during the Super Bowl half-time show.</p>

Nicki Minaj, Madonna and MIA give you all their lovin' during the Super Bowl half-time show.

Credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Live Blogging: Super Bowl XLVI Half Time with Madonna

HitFix
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Do Madge, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and friends score?

7:54 p.m. It's half time and that means it's almost Madonna time!!! While we're waiting, we've review the performances so far. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert did a very fine, if countrified, sedate version of "America The Beautiful."  Kelly Clarkson showed, like  Carrie Underwood before her a few years ago, that "American Idol" winners are 2-0 in singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. How do you feel they did? 

7:58: A few thoughts before she starts: she's supposed to be joined by Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and LMFAO. I'd like to say, before we see any of the halftime, that Madonna does not need anyone to make her more credible or more current or more hip. I feel a little bad that she--or someone--thought she might.

8:01: VOGUE!

8:02: Madonna comes out pulled by a phalanx of Roman Centurians.. She's playing out some Roman mythology theme, with a very fleet footed Mercury. Amazing stage. Is she lipsyncing?  I say yes, but maybe not...What do you think? 

8:04 "Music." So much action, but Madge sees strangely lethargic. Is it just me? Incredible stage and field.

8:06: now she's shuffling with the LMFAO, and they've now gone into "I'm Sexy and I Know It." Nice plug for her fellow labelmates at Interscope.

8:07: Now we're off to "Give Me All Your Luvin," and the stage has changed again. Hands down, most amazing stage and production I've ever seen at a Super Bowl.

8:08: Nicki Minaj's energy was 200% higher than Madonna's.  Is it possible that Madge is nervous and knows how much is riding on this? 

8:10: . LOVE Cee-Lo as drum major. Man,  "The Voice" has managed to work two coaches into the Super Bowl. Shortest version of "Open Your Heart" ever.

8:11: Wow. That was am amazingly quick change for Cee-Lo and Madge, but this version of "Like a Prayer" has made  up for the slow start. Cee-Lo is taking us to church.

8:13 Madonna disappears into the ground, as World Peace lights up on the field. She's clearly singing live at this point.

So here's my first thought: Amazing production, choreography and effort. Madonna was strong after a lethargic start, but she didn't connect in any meaningful way. However, I've felt the same way the many times I've seen her live: it's almost as if there's a pane of glass between her and the audience and I felt the same way watching her just now. But I think that's her. It was flawless in so many ways. Respect.

Second thought: Not crazy about all the song selections. She should have started more uptempo and "Music" didn't work. And I cannot believe they played Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" right afterward. Someone has a sense of humor.

What did you think of Madonna's half-time show? Give it a grade!

(Talk about bad timing: I was looking down and missed M.I.A.'s flipping the bird, but I write my post-game thoughts on  it here)

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<p>The cover of Van Halen's &quot;A Different Kind of Truth&quot;</p>
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The cover of Van Halen's "A Different Kind of Truth"

Album Review: Van Halen's 'A Different Kind of Truth'

HitFix
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Do Eddie Van Halen and Diamond Dave still have it?

Van Halen’s first new studio album with David Lee Roth in 28 years is named “A Different Kind of Truth,” but the Feb. 7 release could have just as easily been called “I Will Not Go Quietly”  “Truth” is a heavy slab of rock delivered on a concrete pillow.

As fans already know, most of the riffs/ideas for the new tunes are from never-finished songs of yore:  “She’s The Woman” is from a tune originally demoed in the ‘70s, while obsessive fans instantly noted the similarity between first single “Tattoo” and “Down In Flames,” a 1977 song played live, but never released on an album.  Roth told the Los Angeles Times that the band sought to link its past with its present by taking the most promising chunks of coal from four decades ago and polishing them into diamonds. 

 

[More after the jump...]

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