How Steve Jobs and Apple changed the music industry and the world
Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

How Steve Jobs and Apple changed the music industry and the world

My time with the wizard

When Steve Jobs officially stepped down several weeks ago, one pundit compared him to Thomas Edison. Another compared him to Albert Einstein.

I’m not sure about either comparison. Edison is probably more accurate. But if by doing so they wanted to imply that Jobs, who died today at 56, was a visionary who radically and permanently changed the world (not just culture), that is inarguably correct.

Since I mainly cover music here at Hitfix, I’m going to concentrate solely on how he and Apple changed the music business by creating iTunes and take you back to when Apple first birthed the download service.

In addition to being a master of design, ingenuity and business, Jobs was also a master of timing.  In 2001, Napster and Kazaa were killing the music industry and Jobs rode in, on what looked like a gorgeous white horse at the time, to save the day. He began wooing labels and promising that if they would come along with him, he would guarantee that together, they could monetize digital downloads.

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Listen: Kelly Clarkson's new track, 'What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)'

Singer turns philosophical on thumping tune

It turns out that “What Doesn’t Kill You” makes you want to dance...and stronger. At least in Kelly Clarkson’s case.

The first “American Idol” winner officially released the track today after it leaked onto the internet last week.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” is an up-tempo, driving pop thumper with a  dance bent. We’re sure some awesome dance remixes are to come. Once again, in a familiar theme for Clarkson, a boy has done her wrong, but instead of crumbling, she has risen from the ashes of the relationship stronger. I am woman, hear me roar.

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<p>50 Cent</p>

50 Cent

Credit: AP Photo

50 Cent drops new track, 'Shady Murder,' lands another movie role

Is that Eminem on the track with him?

Between his incessant tweets, his music and his movies, 50 Cent is one busy guy.

It was only two weeks ago that we wrote that he’d landed a role as a pimp in “The Frozen Ground,” a film about ‘80s mass murderer Robert Hansen and starring Nicholas Cage and John Cusack.

Now, 50, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, has signed on to star in “The Pursuit,” an action thriller (duh) that will begin shooting in February in Louisiana.  Jackson’s production company,  Cheetah Vision Films, will producer with Emmett/Furla Films. Lions Gate will distribute.

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Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Credit: AP Photo

Aldean, Swift, Lady A, Paisley and Chesney named CMT's 'Artists of the Year'

Other acts will salute them during Dec. 13 special

It's only October, but CMT is already calling is:  the cable outlet has named Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift its  “Artists of the Year," and will fete the quintet on a special airing Dec. 13.

Three of the five, Aldean, Lady A, and Swift, return to the winner’s circle following last year’s inaugural event.  The 90-minute special salutes the top five country acts of the year based on sales, airplay, concert grosses and CMT.com activity.

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<p>'George Harrison:&nbsp;Living in the Material World'</p>

'George Harrison: Living in the Material World'

Credit: HBO

Review: 'George Harrison: Living In the Material World'

HitFix
B
Readers
A+
Martin Scorsese has his way with the quiet Beatle

Martin Scorsese loves music. Furthermore, he understands its rhythms and potency like few directors do. That’s why I had such high hopes going into his 3 and a 1/2-hour documentary, “George Harrison: Living In the Material World.”  The film airs in two parts on HBO Oct. 5 and Oct. 6.

There are moments of exhilaration and illumination, and, of course, there is the glorious music.  However, the documentary isn’t consistently compelling and could use some tighter focus.

The first half is devoted to Harrison’s childhood and the Beatles’ formation. Even the most casual Beatles fan will feel the excitement of seeing footage of the band during its formative years in Hamburg, Germany, but the story devotes more time to the group as a whole than to Harrison (other than we learn he had a nasty temper that could show up very unexpectedly). Not that a documentary on Harrison has to have the spotlight pointed at him 100%, but Scorsese allows talking heads like Hamburg photographer Astrid Kirchherr and her boyfriend, musician Klaus Voormann (or at least he was until the  Beatles  original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe pulled her away), to go on a little too long about the general zeitgeist during the Beatles’ time in Germany.

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<p>Beyonce in &quot;Countdown&quot;</p>

Beyonce in "Countdown"

Watch: Beyonce teases us with tasty preview of 'Countdown' video

She salutes the '60s in this colorful clip

Beyonce pays homage to Audrey Hepburn and other icons in a new 30-second teaser for her “Countdown” video.

We won’t get to see the full clip until it premieres on Thursday, Oct. 6, but until then, you can stimulate you eyeballs with her fetching black turtleneck/cropped back pants style, straight out of Hepburn’s “ Funny Face,” as well as be bedazzled by the pop art of multiple Beyonces in bathing suits.  She looks beautiful throughout, whether she’s rocking Hepburn’s pixie cut or pushing the ‘60s mod look.

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<p>Taio Cruz</p>

Taio Cruz

Listen: Taio Cruz's new single 'Hangover'

Can you get drunk off a song or just merely feel sick?

Taio Cruz is 28, but he might as well be 16 on his new single. At least Ke$ha won’t be drinking alone anymore: On “Hangover,” his party anthem and first single from sophomore album, “TY.O,” Cruz can’t wait to drink until he throws up...or at least until he makes “shit-faced” into a three-syllable word.

Flo Rida chimes in for a rap in the middle and to boast that he never throws up.

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<p>Madonna</p>
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Madonna

Credit: Peter Kramer/AP

Is Madonna headed to the Super Bowl half-time show?

What her representative told us

Is Madonna headed to the Super Bowl to perform the halftime show? Super Bowl site SBNation.com is reporting the Material Girl’s participation as fact.

Super Bowl XLVI will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.

The NFL declined to comment. Madonna’s representative told us there is “nothing to confirm” at this point.  That’s not a “no,” folks...

SBNation reports that Madonna has been asked to the big show before, including in 1998 and in 2000, but both gigs fell through.  Given that she’s working on a new album, the time could be right to tie in the release date with the game. Our last update about the album came in September with word that Madge was in New York working on the set with a planned Spring release. The first single could come as early as February. We’re betting it definitely does now.

 

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<p>&nbsp;The cover of Scotty McCreery's &quot;Clear as Day&quot;</p>
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 The cover of Scotty McCreery's "Clear as Day"

Album Review: 'American Idol' Scotty McCreery's 'Clear As Day'

HitFix
B-
Readers
B
Set is so wholesome it should come with apple pie

Season 10 “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery is already showing signs of having a very healthy career at country radio. His first single, “I Love You This Big,” was a top 15 radio hit, and peppy, lightweight “The Trouble With Girls” is shaping up as a nice follow-up.

If you’re fans of those two songs, you’ll love his full debut, “Clear As Day,” out Oct. 4.

McCreery gathered tunes from many of Nashville’s finest songwriters here. While every tune is well crafted, like the first two singles, they are so generic in their embrace of a small town America and country “values” that the album could have come with a calendar from the ‘50s and a slice of apple pie. There’s even a mom who thanks God for “dirty dishes.” Calling June Cleaver.

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<p>Tony Bennett&nbsp;</p>
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Tony Bennett 

Credit: AP

Music Power Rankings: Tony Bennett, J. Cole, Justin Timberlake and Adele

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue

1) Tony Bennett: At 85, he lands the first No. 1 album of his career. Imagine what he’ll do to celebrate turning 100?

2) J. Cole: Rapper, whose mix tapes lead to his signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, is a lock to see his label debut, the appropriately titled “Cole World: the Sideline Story,” bow at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. That hardly sounds like the sideline to us.

3) Spotify:
The music streaming service’s usage soars 50% after it integrates with Facebook. Looks like Daniel Ek has found a new friend in Mark Zuckerberg.

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