<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

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'

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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Credit: Morry Gash/AP

Music Power Rankings: Madonna, Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert rule

Lana Del Rey and Adele make the list too

1) Madonna: Madge saves the world (for more than four minutes) as promotion for “MDNA” goes on high alert via radio waves, TV waves, and outdoor billboards. First day pre-orders for “MDNA” send the album to No. 1 on iTunes in 35 countries. And we haven’t even gotten to the Super Bowl.

2) Bono:
As if he weren’t rich enough, his stake in Facebook is likely to earn him $1billion in the social network’s  IPO.  Yeah, we said B as in Bono and Billionaire.

3) Adam Lambert: An erroneous report that he’s replacing Freddie Mercury in Queen is enough to spin the internet out of control. It’s nice to know that should his solo career ever fade away, he always has rock royalty to fall back on.
[More after the jump...]

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<p>The cover of Lana Del Rey's &quot;Born to Die&quot;</p>
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The cover of Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die"

Can Adele hold off Lana Del Rey to make it 19 weeks atop the Billboard 200?

Who sees the highest debut in his 77 years?

Next week’s Billboard 200 will likely see the debut of a controversial newcomer at No. 2 and a legendary singer, who, at 77, land the highest bow of his career. And, oh yeah, some chick named Adele.

That’s right, Adele’s “21” grabs another week at No. 1 by a wide margin, marking its 19th non-consecutive week at the summit. This week, it tied with Garth Brooks’ “Ropin’ The Wind.”  The title is slated to sell between 100,000 and 110,000 next week.  It’s running full-steam ahead to tie the record for the most weeks at No. 1 in the 20-year SoundScan era with the “Titanic” soundtrack, which spent 20 weeks at No. 1.

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<p>Katy Perry in &quot;Firework&quot;</p>

Katy Perry in "Firework"

Predicting the 2012 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year

Is it Adele's to lose?

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards are only 9 days away, Feb. 12. As they approach, I’ll be predicting the winners in key categories. Adele is the frontrunner for every award she is nominated for, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t expect some surprises along the way.

First up is Record of the Year, which is one of the “Big Four” awards, which also includes Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist. These are the general awards, which are voted on by all 12,000 or so members of the Recording Academy and they are open to artists of all genres.

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<p>Madonna at the press conference for her Super Bowl halftime show in Indianapolis, IN Thursday.</p>

Madonna at the press conference for her Super Bowl halftime show in Indianapolis, IN Thursday.

Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Check out the track listing for Madonna's 'MDNA'

Plus, watch a taste of the video for 'Give Me All Your Luvin''

Every day brings a little more Madonna our way. Tonight, we got the track listing for “MDNA,” which comes out March 22.

It’s hard to decipher anything from titles alone, but there are plenty of names here that sound like they could be raves, including “Turn Up The Radio,”  “I Don’t Give A,” and “Girls Gone Wild.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber</p>

Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber

Are Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne making beautiful music together?

The rapper and the teen idol hang out in the studio

Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne... it was bound to happen. Bieber, the teen idol that all rappers love to work with, would appear to be collaborating with Weezy for the Bieb’s next studio album.

Believe,” Bieber’s next project following his No. 1 Christmas set “Under the Mistletoe,” also features production work from Timbaland and Sean Garrett, but Bieber, who is updating fans constantly via Twitter, seems especially excited about Lil Wayne.  Wednesday he tweeted “Good time in the studio last night. Back at it tonight... oh yeah...and big bro came through...and when I say big bro I mean @LilTunchi”  Lil Tunchi is Lil Wayne.

It's unclear from the Tweet whether Lil Wayne, who just released his video for “Mirror,” came by to chat, skateboard or actually work on the album.

Anyway, a little after midnight (this kid’s up way too late!), Bieber tweeted again that he was “in the studio writing for #17million strong!!!” It’s a reference to his fan base: Bieber has accumulated more than 17 million Twitter followers.

As Billboard reported, Lil Wayne is just the latest rapper to join the cast of Beliebers:  Bieber’s previously worked with Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West and Raekwon.

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<p>Carrie Underwood</p>

Carrie Underwood

Credit: AP Photo

Carrie Underwood sets release date for her fourth studio album

The set still doesn't have a name, but at least we know when we can buy it

It’s been more than two years since the release of Carrie Underwood’s last album, “Play On,” but the drought is almost over: The “American Idol” winner’s fourth studio set will come out May 1.

The album’s title has yet to be announced—Heaven forbid in this blogging age that any artist dare leak out more than one tidbit of info at a time—but we do know that the first single from the Mark Bright-produced set will be “Good Girl.”  “I’m so excited, I love this song, I think it’s going to blow you guys away!,” Underwood somewhat awkwardly announced via video on her website last week.

Since her 2005 debut, ‘‘Some Hearts,” Underwood has sold more than 13 million albums and won five Grammys.

You can catch Underwood next on Saturday when the Grant Ole Opry member appears with Steven Tyler on a special Super Bowl edition of CMT’s “Crossroads” taped live from Indianapolis.

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