1) U2 (not ranked): Not only does “Spider-Man,” with music from the band’s Bono and The Edge, finish spinning its long-gestating opening web (see No. 8), U2 leads Forbes list of the 25 highest-paid musicians. The Irish lads made around $195 million between May 2010 and May 2011--and that’s with having to take time off for Bono to recuperate from back surgery.
2) Britney Spears (not ranked): The Femme Fatale tour kicks off in Sacramento to strong reviews. If you want real singing with your live shows, proceed to No. 5.
3) L.A. Reid (not ranked): After leaving Island Def Jam, the “X Factor” judge follows his former boss, Doug Morris, to Sony Music Entertainment to try to revive Epic Records. The label will now include some acts now on Jive Records. But the big question is does this mean “X Factor” releases will go through Epic? TBD.
4) “Book of Mormon” (not ranked): The musical, masterminded by “South Park” and “Avenue Q” creators, not only sweeps the Tonys, but the original cast recording bounded to No. 3 (up a staggering 2,116 percent) on this week’s Billboard 200 following the wins and a 3-day Amazon stunt, which pushed the album for $1.99. It’s the highest charting original cast album since “Hair” in 1969. That's longer than Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber have been alive combined.
5) Sade (not ranked): The band fronted by the British-Nigerian singer of the same name plays first U.S. dates in more than a decade to over-the-top reviews. What a smooth operator.
6) Lucian Grange (not ranked): The Universal Music Group chairman and his second in command Barry Weiss really start to put their stamps on the record company as trims and combines facets of Motown Universal and Island Def Jam. We bet there’s more coming.
7) Kreayshawn (not ranked): White female rapper, whose “Gucci Gucci”has already received 3.1 million views on YouTube, signs with Columbia Records. No more Arby’s for her. Nicki Minaj checks her watch.
8) “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” (not ranked): In what became a survival mission, the little play about Spidey with songs by U2 and Bono finally manages to open on Broadway after 177 preview performances. Better yet, no one from the cast landing in the hospital opening night.
9) I.R.S. (not ranked): The dormant indie label that was home to the likes of R.E.M., Go-Gos, The Alarm and The Buzzcocks will be revived at EMI, which owns the name. Founder Miles Copeland won’t be involved. Really, were there no other names out there left? Sometimes, a label and its legendary history should be allowed to rest in peace.
10) Morrissey (not ranked): The former Smiths frontman and vegetarian, who walked off-stage at Coachella in 2009 because he could smell “burning flesh,” is insisting that venues he plays do not prepare or serve meat on the day of his performance. Not just to him or his crew...to anyone. So far, U.K. venues are complying. Let’s see him try that in Texas.
11) Clarence Clemons (not ranked): The E Street Band saxophonist suffers a stroke just as he’s getting introduced to a whole new audience through Lady Gaga’s The Edge of Glory.” Get better Big Man!!!
So far, the handful of songs that have slipped out from Beyonce’s “4” have each showed various facets of her personality. On the synth-heavy “I Care,” it’s the burned and bleeding Beyonce, who’s been spurred and left for dead by her lover. Despite her best efforts, she still cares.
Awash in a keyboard opening and a repeating drum loop, Beyonce rails against her ex, who’s “immune to all my pain,” in the mid-tempo ballad.
“I care/I know you don’t care too much.. even since you knew your power/you made me cry/ And now every time our love goes sour/you won’t synthesize,” she sings.
He’s such a meanie, he even likes it when Bey is in pain, she sings.
Like Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” the song sounds like it could come straight from the ‘80s. Think Phil Collins-type, echo-chamber beats.
It also sounds very much like something that Leona Lewis would sing... so much so that I checked to see if Ryan Tedder, who penned “Bleeding Love,” wrote it. He didn’t, but the Neptunes’ Chad Hugo, Beyonce and Jeff Bhasker, who also produced, did.
What do you think? How does it compare to the other tracks we’ve heard from June 28’s “4”: “Run the World (Girls),” “Party,” “(1 + 1),” “Love on Top” and “Best Thing I Never Had.”
Sade, the woman and the band, returned to the U.S. for their first shows in more than a decade to downright ecstatic reviews.
The two-hour, Sophie Muller-directed concert at Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena, site of where Rihanna launched her U.S. tour only a few days before, is a visual stunner, according to reviewers.
Rolling Stone’s Evan Serpickfelt time had stood still for the British-Nigerian singer, who first appeared on stage in her trademark ponytail and black turtleneck: “And that luxurious, smoky voice – the one that earned Sade (the singer) a reputation as an aural aphrodisiac, the female counterpart to Barry White – is as glorious as ever...The set continued to jump around among the band's six albums, maintaining a flow that highlighted their well-honed formula of diverse, syncopated percussion, jazzy instrumentation and hard-hitting, passionate lyrics, all held together by that one-in-a-million voice.
USA Today’s Korina Lopezsaid, “These days, pop stars strutting the stage in barely-there thongs and doing crotch-grabbing routines are common,” wrote Korina Lopez. “So it was refreshing to see a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice just simply singing.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Erik Maza called it “the best concert of the year...Rihanna's was good, but it was amateur hour in comparison. U2's will be bigger, but it will not exceed the sheer transcendence of the Sade live experience....The singer, however, did not coast on the adulation of a crowd that would have swooned even if she'd sung Creed covers. Her two-hour show was a success because, after all the flashy, gimmicky shows pop stars have been staging this past year, this was a palette cleanser."
The outing, which supports last year’s “Soldier of Love” album, lasts until mid-September and includes three nights at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Someone was clearly missed.
SETLIST (courtesy of Baltimore Sun)
Soldier Of Love
Your Love Is King
Kiss Of Life
Love Is Found
In Another Time
Bring Me Home
Is It A Crime?
Still In Love With You
All About Our Love
Nothing Can Come Between Us
King Of Sorrow
The Sweetest Taboo
The Moon And The Sky
No Ordinary Love
By Your Side
Credit: AP Photo/Britney Spears Femme Fatale Tour, Roderick Trestrail II
Britney Spears kicked off her “Femme Fatale” tour Thursday night at Sacramento’s Power Balance Pavilion with what reviewers are calling “her flashiest, fastest moving” production yet. Pink is the New Blog, which had seen a rehearsal, went so far as to proclaim, “Our dear Britney slayed the audience on opening night!”
50 Cent is not a patient man. After tussling with Interscope about delaying his next album, he resorted to sneaking first track “Outlaw” out himself. He later clarified that the tune is not the first single, but is “just a song” off the new set. However, he will shoot a video.
The track is a hardcore rap produced by Cardiak. There’s not a lot of bells and whistles other than an undulating, insinuating steady beat underneath his raps about being an outlaw.
“You wanna get shot/go ahead run up on my spot/my lawyers will have me out by 1 o’clock/Go ahead get dropped tryna get what I got.”
50 stayed busy on his Twitter account today giving a play by play about his issues with Interscope before finally putting out the song. Here’s are some of the pertinent tweets from Thursday as his frustration built.
* “OK, I tried to be cool with my record company. I went to the meeting, talk to everyone and sh*t feel like there [sic] moving in slow motion.”
“I’m sorry to announce I will not be releasing a new album this year if we don’t get on the same page.”
“I would rather not launch my album without a plan the whole system is executing. I don’t know why they play with me. They know how I get.”
“My whole career I’ve been doing sh*t and they have been playing catch u. This is the last f*cking album. They better wake up and work.”
“I worked really hard on this album. I’m not gonna let it come out like some bullsh*t. There [sic] use to me just putting it out.”
50 Cent's last album was 2009's "Before I Self Destruct." The new set, tentatively titled "Black Magic," had been rumored to be coming out this year.
Maybe if Lady Gaga were actually in glory instead of only on the edge of it we might have gotten more in her video for “The Edge of Glory.”
Instead, the music clip, which premiered tonight on “So You Think You Can Dance,” is the most basic, stripped-down clip of her career. It is Gaga dancing with herself with a low-key cameo by saxophonist Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. The tune is the third single from "Born This Way," which after two weeks at No. 1on the Billboard 200 slipped to No. 2 this week. The single is in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Though the song’s sound is steeped in the ‘80s, the video features the timeless elements of a New City City stoop, fire escape and slick streets. (Guess what video from the actual '80s also included stoops, fire escapes, and a slick street in its opening moment...answer at the end). LG peers out her window, before venturing onto the street. With only one costume change (actually, she just takes off a jacket), the focus is front and center on Lady Gaga as she delivers a few Michael Jackson-type moves before strutting up and down the street and uses the fire escape for her own personal jungle gym/dance floor. She accomplishes all this in an outfit that almost manages to be more revealing than the seatbelt Cher wore in the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video.
Occasionally, the camera cuts back to Clemons sitting on the stoop and, staying seated, we see him play a little bit (a very little bit) of his solo, but for the majority of it, he’s off camera. Same with his second sax swing, although there is a very cute, quick shot of the two of them on the stoop with Lady Gaga leaning up again Clemons.
As you know, Clemons had a stroke on Sunday. While we’re all rooting for his recovery, this will likely be the last time we see him on video for quite some time.
Maybe she didn’t have time for something more elaborate or maybe Lady Gaga decided it was time to just do a simple video for a straight-forward song after going crazy on her previous clips, but we like the simplicity. Not every statement has to be some over-the-top extravaganza. Plus, this is a different song for her so it demands a different style video.
Early fan reaction is definitely trending toward the thumbs down, including “Boring...what happened to the cool videos.” “first Gaga video I really don’t like,” and “after all that refreshing [on Vevo], I can’t believe all I got was this.” That last one should be a t-shirt. We need something to replace “My [fill in the blank] went to [fill in the blank] and all I got was this crappy t-shirt.
What do you think of the video for “The Edge of Glory?”
Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” continues its stay atop the Billboard Hot 100 as it registers its sixth week at No. 1. That means the smash from “21” continues to keep Pitbull’s Give Me Everything” featuring Ne-Yo, AfroJack and Nayer in the runner-up slot at No. 2.
But there’s good news for a number of other tunes. LFMAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” pumps its way 6-3, knocking Katy Perry’s “E.T.” down 3-4 and, subsequently, Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” down 4-5.
Lady Gaga’ “The Edge of Glory” climbs one spot to No. 6, as it gains traction at radio. “On the Floor” from Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull hangs on in the top 10, slipping 5-7, while the Black Eyed Peas’ “Just Can’t Get Enough” stays at No. 8.
There’s big news at the bottom of the top 10 as Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” flies 23-9, largely based on a new studio version of the country singer performing the tune with Ludacris. The pair debuted their new version on the CMT Awards on June 8.
After guesting on a number of other top 10 hits, Nicki Minaj finally earns her first top 10 tune as the lead artist with “Super Bass,” which slides up 11-10.
The highest debut honors belong to Paramore, whose “Monster” bursts onto the chart at no. 36. The tune is featured in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
Unlike her past tours that have sold out quickly, tickets for Spears’ current tour have not moved as fast. Therefore tour promoter Live Nation Entertainment is offering tickets for half price in most markets in a promotion through Groupon.
We did a quick search and found Groupon offerings in a number of cities, including June 16’s show in Sacramento, where 1,400 offered tickets went for $30, a 49% discount, according to local paper, Sacramento Bee.
Similar deals have been available in many other tour stops, including Detroit, San Jose, and St. Paul’s Xcel Center. In some of the deals, even front sections of the venue are deeply discounted. For example, the Xcel Center Groupon promoted floor seats and sections in the 100s very close to the stage for $83. The tickets were originally priced at $165 including fees.
I then went to Ticketmaster to try to buy tickets for tonight's show and was able to purchase two seats for the fourth row of the front section of the floor, closest to the stage, for a whopping $749.20 for the pair. Those aren't scalpers prices, people. That's the face value plus service charge. For Spears’ stop at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Monday, June 20, I was able to get two choice seats: row 5 of a section one section away from the stage on Ticketmaster. The pair were $386.80. I think we're starting to see the problem here.
What’s going on here? First off, even though “Femme Fatale” received largely strong reviews and debuted at No. 1, the album hasn’t had a smash hit that’s resonated with fans. “Till the World Ends” is at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, but that’s largely due to remixes featuring Nicki Minaj and K$ha that gave it a new life.
Plus, the album hasn’t ignited. It has sold a little more than 550,000 since its release 11 weeks, which is certainly respectable, but in comparison with other current superstar releases, is slow. For example, Adele’s “21” just surpassed the 2 million mark in 16 weeks. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” although falling precipitously, has already sold around 1.4 million copies in three weeks. Tourmate Nicki Minaj’s “Pink Friday” has sold close to 1.5 million in its 29 weeks of release.
The biggest reason is likely that Spears has been her own worst enemy, as the very few live television performances to promote “Femme Fatale” were awkward and leaden and consisted of her walking more than dancing. Plus, her last tour, 2009’s “Circus,” was heavily criticized for her lipsynching. Maybe going the $350 VIP ticket route for close seats wasn't the way to go here (although we think they were even higher, $500, for "Circus").
We’re all for lower concert prices, so her fans are the big winners here with all the discounts, but we’re also all for artists really putting on a show and if they’re not up to the rigors of the road, waiting until they are. Hopefully, Spears will prove the doubters wrong. Regardless we’ll be back tomorrow with a round-up of reviews from tonight’s show.
We're requested a comment from Live Nation about slow sales and will amend the story if we hear back.
In the odd pairing department, Lou Reed and Metallica have joined together to record an album of 10 new Reed compositions.
The metal band and pioneering rocker entered Metallica’s studio near San Francisco, according to Rolling Stone, which describes the set as a cross between Reed’s dark “Berlin” and Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.” That sounds like a really tall order since both are considered classic sets.
The union came about after the two titans played together at the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts in October 2009. Metallica backed Reed on two tunes. That set the wheels in motion.
Initial plans called to cut older Reed material, but shortly before recording started, Reed changed gears and suggested they record a song cycle he wrote for “Lulu,” a play running in Berlin. Metallica then crafted arrangements for the tunes.
Of course, they think the project is awesome. Reed told Rolling Stone is was “a marriage made in heaven,” whereas Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said “I don’t think we’ve ever felt this free.” Ulrich adds the set is "90 percent" done.
Speaking of freedom, it turns out that Metallica is done with Warner Bros. and Reed doesn’t have a current album deal so there’s no word yet on which label will release the collaboration.
Who knows when “Tha Carter IV” is actually coming—it’s now been pushed to Aug. 29—but in the meantime, it looks like we might get an apology for the delay in the form of a new Weezy mixtape.
On Tuesday, Mack Maine, the head of Lil Wayne’s Cash Money label, tweeted “Breaking News! Lil Wayne mixtape ‘Sorry 4 the Wait’ coming soon!!”
In the meantime, check out the full version of Lil Wayne’s “Dear Anne.” The full track, parts of which leaks a while ago, finally surfaced today. The tune, according to the BoomBox, is based on Eminem’s “Stan.” The Swizz Beatz-produced track is a letter from Weezy to a fan, as opposed to “Stan,” which is a fan letter. There are also some ethereal female vocals that serve as a counterpart to Lil Wayne’s spoken part, as does the tinkly piano. Swizz Beatz apparently sent the idea to Eminem for "Recovery," but it ended up with Lil Wayne.