<p>Madonna</p>
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Madonna

Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP

Music Power Rankings: Whitney Houston, Adele and Madonna

Plus, the Grammy Awards rule

1) Whitney Houston. Listen to this and try not to cry over what we’ve lost.

2) Adele:
Really? You have to ask? We have six, shiny gold reasons.

3) Madonna:
Madge lands her 38th  Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, widening her margin over the Beatles by four. Any other week that would definitely get her the top spot.

4) Grammy Awards: The Feb. 12 ceremony drew more than 41 million viewers, making it the second-most watched Grammy ceremony, ever only behind the 1984 show.

5) Dave Grohl: This rock and roll true believer gets to the heart of the matter with the Foo Fighters’ Grammy acceptance speech: “Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that's the most important thing for people to do” We're embroidering it on a pillow.

6) Nicki Minaj
Almost a week after her Grammy performance, I have only one question: What was that?

7) Chris Brown: Love him, hate him, we’re all talking about him this week, aren’t we?

8) Columbia Records: The label is rolling in the dough, as Adele continues her winning ways: Next week “21”  will surpass 7 million copies in the U.S., making it the best-selling album in nearly seven years (since Carrie Underwood’s “Some Hearts”). 

9) Skrillex:
He's gone from who? to Mr. Three-time Grammy winner  in a beat--or two. 

10) Katy Perry:
Her new single “Part of Me,” which she debuted on the Grammy Awards, will sell more than 400,000 in its first week of digital release, making it  her biggest download week  yet. But you know what really makes her a winner? She had pledged her portion of the proceeds to MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charity that aids musicians in need. Baby, she's a firework.


 

<p>Young fans pay their respects.</p>

Young fans pay their respects.

Credit: AP Photo

Thoughts on Whitney Houston's funeral and music's sacred, healing powers

Reflections on a service filled with memories and, most of all, song

In the end, it was the bodyguard who said what we all needed to hear—no, not her “Bodyguard” co-star Kevin Costner—but her real-life bodyguard of 11 years, Ray Watson.

As I watched Whitney Houston’s nearly four-hour funeral beamed from Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, and listened to moving speech after moving speech — all of them heartfelt in their own ways, some more poignant than others—it was Watson’s words that resonated the most.

Unlike some of the speakers, Watson had been with Houston virtually every day for 11 years until she died on Feb. 11 and he saw a side of her that none of the others saw on a consistent basis. As she wrapped her last movie, “Sparkle,” this summer, she declared that she and Watson would drive back to New Jersey rather than fly (and since she didn’t drive, that meant the driving chores fell all to Watson...and, furthermore, despite his speaking tenderly, it was clear that her decision was not up for discussion).

As Watson commented on carrying his “precious cargo” back home, he perhaps, unwittingly, revealed how sheltered and isolated she had become—so much so that he worried about stopping during the trip and leaving her alone in the car when he paid for gas. “I told her, ‘Don’t get out of the car’,” he said.

He also spoke lovingly of her Bible, her constant companion, which he, unbeknownst to her, nicknamed Raggedy because it was so dog-eared and underlined. She took it everywhere. That one story did more than any other to humanize her and it felt authentic and true that despite his grief, he felt  that with her death Houston’s spirit came to him to tell him that he was “free.”  In that moment, I felt his sorrow and relief and, moreover, thought that Houston herself was finally free: unshackled of the demons—whether they be drugs or  the paparazzi — that had kept her in chains for too much of her life.

The other “Bodyguard,” Costner, knew he had to find a way to quickly explain his presence at the service and he did so with grace, acknowledging that first appearances would seem to show he and Houston had nothing in common, but they did:  They both grew up in the Baptist church. After he bridged that gap, he told how he stuck up for Houston and made sure she was cast in their 1992 blockbuster, despite others’ misgivings about showing an on-screen interracial romance. It’s a testament to his charm and obvious affection for Houston, that his long speech, which served him as much as Houston,  was one of the most moving...and was one of the few to hint that Houston’s “stumbles” should provide a cautionary tale to young women to “guard their body.”

The service, filled with moving performances by the Winans family, Alicia Keys, Donnie McClurkin, Stevie Wonder, Kim Burrell, R. Kelly and many others,  felt authentic and filled with love for Houston from many people who knew her in varying degrees, professionally and personally.  But most of all, it was Houston’s abiding, deep faith that stuck with me and that dominated the service-- in almost every word that was spoken and every song sung. Filmmaker Tyler Perry, who had known Houston only for four years, spoke eloquently and movingly of the two “constants” he knew about Houston: her grace and “her love of God.”

As Marvin Winans stressed in his eulogy, there is no shame in declaring one’s faith proudly and loudly. Other than in R&B, gospel, country and contemporary Christian music, musicians often hide their faith for fear of being seen as uncool and unhip. A number of acts, including some huge artists who have transitioned from Christian music to mainstream rock, are told to turn down the preaching or risk turning off fans.  Houston’s funeral and Winans’ words showed how wrong that kind of thinking is.

As the service reinforced over and over again, for Houston, there was no separation between music and her faith. The two were intertwined: her talent was a gift from God and how she shared it with millions was her way of honoring Him for bestowing it upon her.  Music provided salvation, healing, and redemption for Houston, as it does for anyone. Furthermore, as singer after singer  praised God in song, especially the choir member who sang The 23rd Psalm, it felt exultant, as if Houston’s spirit was being returned on the music’s glorious wings back up to God.

And that is why it is called a homegoing. RIP, Whitney.

<p>Adele</p>
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Adele

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Billboard 200 chart preview: Adele's '21' surpasses 7 million

Who else gets a Grammy bump? Whitney Houston's death spurs sales

 Like a tropical storm, Hurricane Adele just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Following her Grammy sweep on Feb. 12, her sophomore album “21,” will set all kinds of milestones next week. First it will celebrate its full year on the chart and it will do so at No. 1. In a nice twist, “21” will laud its 21st week at No. 1, which will give the title the most weeks at No. 1 (surpassing “The Bodyguard” soundtrack) of any album in the 20-year Nielsen SoundScan era.

And for the real news, “21,” after already selling 6.8 million copies in the U.S. is on track to sell up to 680,000 copies, making it the biggest week ever for the album. It’s never going to stop, is it? Not that we want it to. She will surpass the 7 million mark, making the album the biggest seller in the U.S. since Carrie Underwood's "Some Hearts," released in 2005.

A fourth and final single from “21,” is coming: the stomping, rhythmic “Rumor Has It.” Its almost certain success will keep bringing new Adele fans to the table.  Her success also brings her first album, “19,” back into the top 10, as that 3-year old album will likely sell up to 90,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

On a sadder note, following her death on Feb. 11, Whitney Houston’s greatest hits soared back into the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 this week on sales of more than 60,000. That number climbs even higher next week, as “Greatest Hits” will rise to No 4 and move up to 90,000. (It’s a toss up between Houston’s “Greatest Hits” and “19,” as to which will end up at No. 4 and which will be No. 5).

Compilations also dominate the top 5. “Now That’s What I Call Music” and the “2012 Grammy Nominees” collection are in a dead heat for the No. 2 spot, with each slated to sell between 90,000-100,000. That’s a nice bounce for the Grammy set, which sold 55,000 this week.

Van Halen’s “A Different Kind Of Truth,” which bowed at No. 2 this week, will likely fall to No. 6. Both “Truth” and Paul McCartney’s “Kisses On The Bottom,” which came in at No.5 are too close to call for the spot, as both will sell between 60,000-65,000.

Rounding out the Top 10 are three Grammy winners and/or performers: Lady Antebellum’s “Own The Night,” the Grammy winner for best country album, will likely be No. 8, while performer Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto” will capture No. 9 and Jason Aldean, despite his microphone malfunction while singing with Kelly Clarkson, will see his “My Kinda Party” rebound back into the Top 10, most likely at the bottom spot.

 

<p>Chris Cornell</p>
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Chris Cornell

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Watch: Chris Cornell performs 'I Will Always Love You' for Whitney Houston

Soundgarden singer busts out the tune at a solo gig Thursday night

Well, who knew? It turns out Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell is a Whitney Houston fan. Last night, as his encore at his show at the Masonic Hall in SanFrancisco, Cornell sung a version of “I Will Always Love You,” accompanied himself on acoustic guitar.

It’s ragged and wooly, and we can’t tell if Cornell is reading the lyrics off a crib sheet on the floor, but it’s a lovely tribute. He never mentions Houston (or the song’s writer, Dolly Parton, by name), but there’s no mistaking to whom he is paying homage.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Blink-182</p>

Blink-182

Blink-182 celebrates 20th anniversary with tour

What's our age again?

May we be the 1000th person to say, “What’s my age again?” in reference to today’s news that Blink-182 will embark on a 20th anniversary tour this year.

Could it really be 20 years ago? The perpetual adolescents, some of whom are daddies now, will hit the road to celebrate two decades of arrested development on May 15 at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., according to Punknews.org.

The tour, will include stops at NJ’s Bamboozle fest, but so far most of the dates are in Europe.

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Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl
Credit: AP Photo

Read Dave Grohl's fun 'clarification' of his Grammy acceptance speech

We can all fit under this big musical tent, says Dave

The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl’s acceptance speech at the 54th annual Grammys, which boiled down to “keep it real,” has been repeated and shared millions of times since then and praised for words from a true rock and roll believer.  But it has also been pounced on by folks who felt he was dissing basically everyone else who makes music, especially those who use a computer to do it.

So today, Grohl, who as readers know, is not just one of my favorite musicians, but he is, as you might imagine, a great interview, felt the need to clarify—and amplify upon—his speech. And he threw in cultural references to a Clint Eastwood movie and a Van Halen song to boot. It's very amusing and a fun read, but it makes us sad that what was truly a wonderful moment of self expression at the Grammys turned  him into a lightning rod for criticism.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Rihanna and Chris Brown from 2008</p>

Rihanna and Chris Brown from 2008

Credit: AP Photo

Report: Chris Brown appearing on Rihanna's 'Birthday Cake' remix

Rapper has allegedly recorded two verses for the 'Talk That Talk' track

Chris Brown will reportedly be the guest artist on a remix of Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake,” a very short, sexually provocative song on “Talk That Talk.”

There had been speculation that he might show up on the track after Kosine from the production unit Da Interz told MTV that the cameo on the song is “gonna shock the world.” Today, Miss Info of New York radio station Hot97 added that Brown will also be in the video. He has reportedly recorded both a singing verse and a rap verse for the elongated version of the salacious tune. We have reached out to Rihanna’s representative to try to confirm.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>&nbsp;Whitney Houston</p>

 Whitney Houston

Credit: AP Photo

Whitney Houston and Madonna surge on Billboard's Hot 100

Kelly Clarkson makes it two in a row at the top with 'Stronger'

As crass as it sounds, death has a way of igniting sales for an artist. As we’ve all too recently seen with Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, her Feb. 11 passing is doing the same for Whitney Houston.

Houston's albums surged back up the Billboard 200. Not surprisingly,  her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You” also zooms back onto the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 7. The song spent 14 weeks at No. 1 in 1992.  Two other Houston hits, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “Greatest Love of All” came back onto the big chart as well at No. 35 and No. 41 respectively, according to Billboard.

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<p>Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu and Ziggy Modeliste</p>

Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu and Ziggy Modeliste

Credit: HitFix

Mark Ronson and Erykah Badu talk 'Gumbo' and creation for 'Re:Generation'

The music documentary shows music built from the ground up

“Searching for a satellite signal.” That’s how Erykah Badu describes her writing process as she was penning lyrics for “Gumbo,” the tune written by Mark Ronson, Meters’ drummer extraordinaire Ziggy Modeliste and others  for “Re:Generation.”  

The film, which opens Feb. 16 in a limited run, takes five top DJ/producers—Ronson, DJ Premier, newly-minted Grammy winner  Skrillex, Pretty Lights  and The Crystal Method— and pairs them with artists from another genre to create something new. In the case of Ronson, he paired with jazz artists to come up with a new track. Skrillex partnered with The Doors. The tracks were created within days and really threw the musicians into the fire quickly.

In each case, the idea was to break down barriers. For Ronson, traveling to New Orleans to create the jazz track, was a great experience, especially getting to create with Modeliste. “Zigaboo laid the blueprint for all of us. The beats that he played are pretty much the DNA and back bone of hip hop.”   Endearlingly,  in the clip below, both Modeliste and Badu admit that they had the jitters on stretching themselves this way and making sure that they were able to please Ronson.

 

<p>Usher</p>

Usher

Listen: Usher wants you back on 'Climax'

Sweet, soul tune is first track from forthcoming album

Usher’s new slow-burning single, “Climax,” may be one of the sweetest songs he’s ever sung. He’s on his knees, but not in the way the song title would indicate. Instead he and his lady have come undone... “Didn’t want to give in, so we both gave up,” he sings, and now it’s too late.

[More after the jump...]

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