Mariah Carey

5 things that went wrong with Mariah Carey's 'Me. I Am Mariah...' album release

Set debuts to Carey's lowest non-holiday first week sales ever

Mariah Carey’s first album in five years, “Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse,” came out last week and debuted with rather unspectacular sales.

In numbers released today, “Elusive” sold 58,000 in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s Carey’s lowest opening weeks sales ever for a non-holiday album since the 1991 birth of SoundScan.

So what went wrong here?

*The title. Not only is it unwieldy, it’s three titles in one. It’s memorable for being awkward and egotistical and just strange… and that’s even knowing the too precious backstory of the title coming from a drawing she did when she was little. And who has referred to her as “the elusive chanteuse?” That seems self-appointed. Including your name in that album title only works once— on your self-titled debut—and she’d already gotten away with it doing it again on “The Emancipation of Mimi.”

*The project ran out of steam even before it came out: Originally titled “The Art of Letting Go,” the new album was first slated to be released sometime in 2012 or early 2013 following the release of first single, “Triumphant (Get ‘Em)” in 2012…. a song that’s not even on the new album, by the way. Then it just kept getting moved back for nearly two years. Add that to it seemed a sure shot for May 6 and then it mysteriously got moved to three weeks later and everyone just seemed confused about the actual release

*No killer single: By the time the album was came out, it was more than a  year since the track that had received significant mainstream radio play, “Beautiful,” featuring Miguel, had gone to radio. People’s memories are short and subsequent singles, while they may have had success at other formats, particularly dance, didn’t gain traction at radio.

*Lack of promotion: If you combine everything Carey did over the past 18 months, from appearing on “American Idol,” to performing on “Good Morning America” and “Today,” and assorted other shows and her primetime special with Matt Lauer last Saturday (yeah, I had no idea about it until after the fact either… ), it may have added up to significant exposure, but the appearances were scattered over so long a period of time, her casual fans can’t be blamed for having no idea that the album had actually dropped on May 27.

*Tone deaf publicity: Carey kept showing up in the press but for the wrong reasons, like her Norma Desmond-like ride on a New York subway last week clad in a formal gown and white gloves. That doesn’t make her seem street or one with the people, it makes her seem confused about where she is and out of touch. If she wants to ride the subway, something I imagine she hasn’t done in decades, as a publicity stunt, that’s fine, but don’t do it in a way that only makes you seem even more unrelateable.

So what happens next? It would be nice if her label found a way to keep working the album because there are some really strong songs on there that could be radio hits, including “Cry” and “Make It Look Good.” (read our review here) The album is better than the opening week sales reflect and here’s hoping that it finds the audience that it deserves.


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Jack White

Jack White unleashes big bag of weird in new 'Lazaretto' music video: Watch

Black-and-white clip has something for everyone

Well, that’s one way to get a visual effect. At about 2:16 in his new black-and-white clip for “Lazaretto,” Jack White spits on the camera lens and the next portion of the trippy video is shot through the filter of his own body fluid.  And that’s not even the strangest thing in the clip.

There’s a big bag of disconnected weirdness going on in the video, whether it’s a flying baseball that shatters the glass that floats through much of the clip or the bullet holes that appear in a pane of glass between White and the camera. Then there’s the raging bull, spinning race car, exploding guitar, the lipsticked man tattooed with a huge image of Jack White on his chest, and the transsexual dancer writhing around at the end. Really, take your pick; here’s probably something there for you. The only unifier is that everything is in motion: even White's shadow dances on its own.

A lazaretto is a quarantine station for sea travelers and the goods they traveled with. So it’s possible, though this is probably overt hiking it, that the over-the-top images connect with some kind of deer drew, that any quarantined for  a long period of time could have. But it’s more likely that White and directors Jonas & Francois just decided to come up with this kaleidoscope of images to give the video the same frenetic feel as the fuzzy, distorted song.  
“Lazaretto,” White’s second solo album, comes out June 10 and is strewing on iTunes in full now. White appears on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on June 9.


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Miranda Lambert

Review: Miranda Lambert shines on diverse new album, 'Platinum'

She stays true to her roots, while expanding her sound

Miranda Lambert has what Mary Tyler Moore’s boss, Lou Grant, would call “spunk.”

She’s feisty, she doesn’t mince words, and she gives as good, if not better, than she gets. On album after album, she shows that beneath that toasty exterior is a heart that is very capable of being broken.

The overloaded "Platinum"— there are 16 tracks on the standard edition— is stylistically Lambert’s most diverse (and that's saying a lot given some of the adventurous turns she took on 2011's "Four The Record") : She veers into western swing on the chugging, plucky cover of Tom T. Hall’s “All That’s Left” (featuring the fantastic Time Jumpers), spoken-word blended with ‘60s psychedelia on “Red Wagon,” and rock on the thumping “Something Bad,” featuring Carrie Underwood (which comes off far better on the recorded version than the song’s live debut at the Billboard Music Awards a few weeks ago).

Lambert embraces an easier time on first single, “Automatic,” but there’s something thoroughly modern about Lambert. Though she would probably not call herself a feminist since it’s become such a loaded word lately for some reason, there is an undeniable “girl power” sentiment running throughout “Platinum” in ways both touching an hilarious.

On album opener, “Girls,” (which melodically bears a resemblance to Trisha Yearwood’s “Bus To St. Cloud”),  Lambert schools a boy who knows nothing about women, especially if he thinks he can mistreat his current lady.  On the title track, in an exaggerated twang, she jokes “What doesn’t kill you, makes you blonder,” in a song that Dolly Parton would have been right at home singing. “You don’t need to be a fighter, honey just go one shade lighter/you’ll acquire everything you want,” she advises.

On the infectious, jangly “Priscilla,” she examines her marriage to Blake Shelton through the filter of their being a modern day Elvis and Priscilla Presley, constantly hounded by the media. It’s lighthearted and fun, but still lands its punches about the lack of privacy and living in the spotlight.

Despite all the trappings of fame, Lambert does her level best to very convincingly imply that she is just like us:  “Bathroom Sink,” an ode to those moments of utter realism we often have when we look in the mirror over the sink. The roadhouse piano track “Gravity’s A Bitch,” makes fun of aging with the undeniable refrain, “Got bags under your eyes, bigger hips and bigger thighs…you can nip and tuck and squeeze it, but you're never gonna beat it, because gravity’s a bitch.”

If the album has a failing, it’s that there’s nothing here that packs the emotional wallop of Lambert’s classic, “The House That Built Me” from “Revolution,” or the anguishing “Over You” from “Four The Record.  There’s plenty to sink your emotional teeth into like the pedal-steel infused “Hard Staying Sober,” sweet “Holding on to You.” and pop country mid-tempo track, “Smokin’ and Drinkin’,” featuring Little Big Town, but nothing that will take your breath away, like those did.

However, songs like that don’t come along every day and that’s what makes them so special. instead, Lambert has crafted an album that seems to capture exactly where she is: she’s famous, but struggling to make sure it continues to be for the right thing: for her talent. And there’s no shortage of that on “Platinum.”

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Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley and country's expanding view of 'traditional American values'

Is country music becoming more moderate?

Country music has, for the most part, aligned itself with what are referred to as “traditional American values.” No one has a clear cut definition of what those are, but they usually include a strong sense of patriotism (or, more realistically, jingoism), and a nostalgic yearning that things were better when families came with a mom and a dad, mom stayed at home and looked after the kids and had dinner waiting on the table, Dad drove an American-made car  (preferably a truck) from his 9-to-5 job, and they went to church every Sunday.  Add in that they usually lived in middle America or the south and considered New York a place they might want to visit, but definitely didn’t want to live.

While there are plenty of songs on country radio still espousing that kind of lifestyle (despite the fact that it reflects an ever-diminishing reality), what’s interesting is that country artists, who are for the most part very reluctant to discuss politics or religion, are starting to become much more vocal about embracing a broader world view. (“Vocal” is the key word here because there are plenty of country artists who are not conservative, but other than Tim McGraw, they tend not to discuss their views publicly).

Brad Paisley is the latest to counter the “good-old-boy” stereotype. On Sunday, he posted a selfie with members of Westboro Baptist Church, who were boycotting his show for reasons that aren't totally clear, but seem to do with his song “Alcohol,” a funny ditty about what happens when you are over served. (We’re guessing they’ve never heard his heartbreaking tune, “Whiskey Lullaby,” with Alison Krauss, also about over-indulging). He’s looking very bemused into the camera and his Twitter caption reads “Westboro Baptist Selfie!! Or west-Burro(ass) selfie. Hopefully, they can hear the show out here. We’ll play loud.” (Paisley, to be fair, has always embraced a great awareness of the world around him, whether in "Welcome To the Future" or his much maligned, but well intentioned "Accidental Racist.")

Vince Gill also recently tangled with the Westboro crowd: they protested his show because he’s divorced and because he married Amy Grant, who has been open about her support of gays.  He came out swinging and really had some choice words for the hate mongers. In a video since taken down, Gill interacted with the protesters who wanted to know what he was doing “with another man’s wife.”

“I came out to see what hatred really looks like in the face,” he said to the protesters and then, as he got really mad, added “Don’t you know that you f**kers are lucky that you don’t have a sign that says something about my wife?” and took them to task for not preaching Jesus’ message of forgiveness and tolerance.

Speaking of tolerance, more and more country artists are speaking out in favor of gay marriage, a topic that once was very taboo and remains Westboro's public enemy No. 1. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles told the Advocate in a February interview, that the fight for gay marriage “should have already been behind us.”  Keith Urban was caught on camera crying happy tears during the same and opposite-sex marriage ceremony performed during this year’s Grammy Awards and later told Rolling Stone Country, “love is love.”  Carrie Underwood initially caught flack from fans in 2012, when, if not downright endorsing marriage equality, stated that she didn't want to be told who she can marry. A year later, she preached a message of "acceptance" to Allure, stating, "I feel no matter who you are, what you believe, how you live your life, it's not my place to judge."  That may not be the same thing as bluntly saying, "Yes, I believe in marriage equality," but it's not backing down from the issue either.

To be sure, there’s no openly flag-waving progressive on the country charts and there’s certainly not an openly gay country act on the charts (With all due respect, for all of Chely Wright’s protestations that coming out hurt her country career, she hadn’t had a country hit in years by the time she published her autobiography).  But artists like Kacey Musgraves, who got away with lines like “kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into” in her song “Follow Your Arrow” point to a greater openness (even though the song stalled at 43 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart).

More than anything, these actions create a dialogue and show that country is moving to a more moderate, tolerant position, which is likely in line with the majority of country fans.

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Jack White

Stream Jack White's new album, 'Lazaretto' in full

Singer returns to stage after issuing his massive apology

Jack White, who issued an apology—sort of— to The Black Keys, Meg White, Adele, and lots of other folks on Saturday, continues to build up to the June 10 release of his new solo album, “Lazaretto.”

Today, a fourth track from the album, “Temporary Ground,” emerged, following White’s debuting the song at Houston’s Free Press Summer Festival yesterday. He performs the country-flecked song acoustically after he has a little trouble with the power.

You can here the album version on iTunes, which is streaming “Lazaretto” in full.


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Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake's heartwarming 'Not A Bad Thing' video: Watch

Superstar performs interspersed with fan-submitted photos showing 'love'

Justin Timberlake’s new video for his current Top 10 hit, “Not A Bad Thing” features videos, photos, and messages sent in from fans and their interpretation of love, interspersed with footage of Timberlake performing the song in concert. He introduces the video thanking fans for showing him "a million reasons why love is not a bad thing." Then he hits the stage to perform the loping, mid-tempo ballad.

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Chris Brown swears he'll be nice from now on

5 pieces of advice for Chris Brown now that he's out of jail...again

Keep your mouth closed unless you're singing

Chris Brown was released from a Los Angeles Country prison at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning after serving 108 days of his 131-day sentence for probation violation.

Shortly thereafter, the R&B artist simply tweeted “Humbled and Blessed.” Followed by two more tweets: “Back to the Music and the Fans” and “Thank you God.”

The big question is what happens next? We’ve been her before with Brown. Following his beating Rihanna in 2009 and then again after he threw a chair while at “Good Morning America,” he’s already done the contrition interviews, the humble interviews, the “I’m going to try harder to be better” interviews quite a few times only to relapse into deplorable behavior again.

He’s had second and third chances. Let’s see what he does with his latest chance, since, remarkably, his fans seem to have an endless tolerance for his thuggery.

His five next steps should be:
*Show up at the 2014 BET Awards, for which you are nominated for three awards, and if you are presenting, stick to the script and be polite and low-key. If you are performing— and maybe this is a time for you and Ariana Grande to debut a live performance of your duet, “Don’t Be Gone Too Long,”  do the performance and otherwise keep quiet.

*Keep a very low profile unless it’s work related. No tweeting or Instagramming from nightclubs or from basketball games or while out and about. We would have even advised against the little triptych sometime-girlfriend Karreuche Tran posted on Sunday that shows four pictures of you two juxtaposed against four photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in similar poses. Yeah, about that… Humility, remember…

*Do not take the bait: You know that folks and paparazzi are going to snipe at you and that you’re actions are under intense scrutiny, whether that’s fair or not. Keep your head down and rise above all of it. Silence is your best option. Don’t react. Keep your mouth closed unless you're singing.

*Stay calm and collected during interviews for “X,” whenever the long-delayed album finally comes out (and it will now probably be sooner rather than later), talk to every outlet that will have you and realize that, yes, you are going to have to answer the same question about “how can we believe you’re really changed” over and over again. No throwing chairs, no complaining on Twitter, no nothing. Show you’ve changed by your actions.

*Above all, show us that you actually are humbled this time by doing your remaining community service without complaint, don’t ever act like you’re the martyr  (remember this) and take responsibility for your past and move on.

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Drake drops new song, '0 to 100/The Catch Up' and hints at new album coming in '15

Mr. Modest declares 'If I ain't the greatest, I'm headed for it'

Drake takes advantage of his new single to let folks know that his label OVO has got a very busy spring coming, how his father’s desertion affected him, and how, at 27, he’s only getting started.

On mid-tempo, hypnotic, hazy “0 to 100/The Catch Up,” which Drake released on Sunday, he hits the usual beats about working harder and smarter than everybody and, of course, Mr. Modest adds “If I ain’t the greatest, I’m headed for it.”

 But he also gives some insight into his past. He brings up how he’s always been ready since the days he was little and would wait for his father to show up. “He ain’t show/valuable lesson man/I had to grow up/thats why I never ask for help/I do it for you ni**as and do it for myself.”

He then reveals that his album will drop in spring, as will new releases from, OVO acts PND, OB and Magid Jordan.

He also questions where he lost other rappers and then realizes that maybe he just moved past them.

All these ramblings are over an uncluttered, sparse beat by Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib and Nineteen85 and Noel "Detail" Fisher, according to Rolling Stone.  The song changes tempo slightly during last third of the album features an ethereal James Blake sample singing, "Could it be the way that I'll catch up" over and over again over handclapping until it fades. Last year, the British singer/songwriter remixed Drake's "Come Thru."

Drake’s final words of wisdom: “Being humble doesn’t work as well as being aware.”

What do you think of "0 to100?"


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Foo Fighters

UPDATED: Foo Fighters tease 'Sonic Highways' HBO series and album: Watch

Dave Grohl narrates new clip

Calling the Foo Fighters’ new album and companion HBO series, “a musical map of America,  Davd Grohl explains the concept behind the band’s decision to record each song in a different studio across the country in a new trailer for “Sonic Highways.”

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Mariah Carey

Will Coldplay lock Mariah Carey out of the top spot on next week's album chart?

'The Elusive Chanteuse' is off to a slow start


A strong debut is proving elusive for Mariah Carey’s new album, “Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse.”

As of Friday, it looked like “Chanteuse” will sell no more than 60,000 copies in its first week, making it the superstar’s lowest non-holiday studio album opening week in the Nielsen SoundScan era. The chart closes at midnight on Sunday. By comparison, here last studio album, 2009’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” sold 168,000 in its first week.

If there’s any good news for Carey, it’s that, despite its lackluster sales, “Chanteuse” will likely debut at No. 3, the same rank as “Memoirs,” according to Billboard.

Otherwise, Coldplay’s “Ghost Stories” and Brantley Gilbert’s “Just As I Am” sell enough copies to hold at No. 1 (85,000) and No. 2 (65,000).

In addition to Carey—who if she surges could bow at No. 2— other debuts in the Top 10 are Austin Mahone’s EP, “The Secret” at No. 5 (47,000) and Crowder’s “Neon Steeple” at No. 10. Crowder is David Crowder, former lead singer for Christian rock band The David Crowder Band.

As far as the rest of the Top 10, “Frozen” will be at No. 4 (55,000), “Now 50” at No. 6 (35,000), Michael Jackson’s “Xscape” at No. 7 (35,000), The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue” at No. 8 (32,000), and Izzy Azalea’s “The New Classic” (17,000), according to Hits Daily Double.

Possibly shaking the lower tier of the Top 10 could be new albums from Cher Lloyd, “Sorry I’m Late,” and Royksopp and Robyn, “Do It Again.”



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