Listen: Taylor Swift and Civil Wars' 'Safe & Sound' from 'The Hunger Games'
Credit: Lionsgate Music

Listen: Taylor Swift and Civil Wars' 'Safe & Sound' from 'The Hunger Games'

Can you imagine Katniss singing this?

Wow, that Taylor Swift can keep a secret. She surprised her fans very late Thursday night with the perfect Christmas present: a new song, “Safe & Sound,” which will be on “The Hunger Games” soundtrack. Better yet, the lovely, acoustic song features The Civil Wars.

We don’t know much about how the whole thing came about, but Swift started dropping hints via Twitter earlier in the evening that she had a surprise, and then, wham. The song, written by Swift and Civil Wars,  is a lullaby of sorts, as she and The Civil Wars’ Joy Williams gently sing “Just close your eyes, the sun is going down/you’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now/Come morning light, you and I will be safe and sound” as a guitar and drum insistently and powerfully build, but never overwhelm the delicacy of the track. It's one of the prettiest songs we've heard Swift do.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Adele makes Melinda Newman's Top 10 of 2011 best albums list.</p>

Adele makes Melinda Newman's Top 10 of 2011 best albums list.

The Beat Goes On's Top 10 albums of 2011

Adele is a given, the others are not

Making a Top 10 list is hard. Not busting-up-concrete kind of hard, but in an instant-remorse kind of hard. It never fails —the minute it’s unchangeable and I’m locked in, I inevitably remember something that I wish I’d put on the list or a great new album comes out after my deadline (for me, that was Anthony Hamilton’s “Back To Love”). Then other top 10 lists make me realize how many albums I was unable to give a full and fair listen to in their totality, even when I liked the individual tracks I heard. Among the albums in that category this year are Wild Flag’s self-titled set, Cut Copy’s “Zonoscope,” The Weeknd’s “House of Balloons” and tUnE-yArDs’ “whokill.”

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Listen: Katy Perry and B.o.B on 'The One That Got Away' remix

Will it propel the song to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100?

Katy Perry really doesn’t want her current single to be forever known as the song that kept her from setting the record for most No. 1 songs on Billboard Hot 100 from one album...and she’s so close now that she can taste it.

So to help push the song, which was No. 4 last week on the chart, she’s now released this remix featuring B.o.B. Similarly to her remix of “Last Friday Night” featuring Missy Elliott, the new version serves two purposes:  to garner more radio play for the song, but the primary goal is to drive digital downloads sales (both airplay and sales combine to determine chart position). "The One That Got Away" is the sixth single from "Teenage Dream." 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Paul McCartney</p>

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney reveals new details about new album, including guest stars

You can hear a new track... for $50

So it looks like there’s more to the story on Paul McCartney’s new album coming Feb. 7.

Last week we reported that Macca will release a newly-recorded set of  classic love songs from the 1920s- 1940s. Now more details are surfacing: The Beatle's still-untitled album will feature guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder.

We don’t know if the “still-untitled” part means that the report that the set will be called “My Valentine” were wrong or just premature. Regardless, the track “My Valentine” is available for streaming for 24 hours via to premium members. It costs $50 to be a premium member, so you won’t be hearing our thoughts on the song here.

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Credit: Peter Kramer

Music Power Rankings: We look back at 2011 with Adele, Lady Gaga and Steve Jobs

A change is gonna come and this past year proved it

In this special edition of Music Power Rankings, we look back at 2011 and highlight our top 10 stories and events. What strikes us as we ponder our choices in the Top 10 is that any way you look at it, this was a watershed year for the music industry in that the old, traditional way of business continues to morph into something new and those who can’t shift with the times or continue to cling to the old way of doing things will fall by the wayside. There’s understandable ongoing concern about how to monetize many of the new ways that music is consumed, but it felt like a little of the joy came back this year after a long, bleak period.

This is the last issue of MPR for a few weeks. We’ll be back in January. Happy Holidays!

1) Adele:
She is the biggest success story of the year...of the last several years, actually. Her sophomore album, “21,” has never fallen out of the Billboard 200’s Top 10 and has sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. She is on virtually every critics’ best-of-2012 list, and more importantly, she is not some producer’s puppet. She is proof that immense talent can appeal to the masses and the tastemakers alike. When she says she hurts from love’s scars, you believe her 100% and ache along with her.

2) Album sales rebound:
Or at least they don’t drop. For the first time since 2004, album sales have increased over the previous year. There’s no way they’re ever going back to the pre-2000 high and the industry still feels like it’s in free-fall, but for the first time, it feels like maybe we’ve hit the bottom and, through various new business models and strategies, can go forward. (Final figures aren’t in, but through Sept. 31, sales were up 3.3% over 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan.)

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Michael Buble's Christmas album. Again.</p>
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Michael Buble's Christmas album. Again.

Will Michael Buble's 'Christmas' continue its Billboard 200 reign next week?

Who else surges as holidays sales kick into high gear?

Michael Buble must have been very nice this year as Santa continues filling his stocking with presents. Next week, it may be with as many as 460,000 of them. That’s the number of copies of Buble’s holiday album, “Christmas,” he is expected to sell. That number could propel the title over the 2 million mark in two months.

As Christmas approaches, superstar titles surge and move back up the chart: there are no debuts in the Top 10: it looks like Anthony Hamilton’s superb “Back To Love” will be the highest new entry at No. 14, according to Hits Daily Double.

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: AP Photo

Katy Perry's march to No. 1 continues with B.o.B. remix of 'The One That Got Away'

Will it be enough to land her the record-setting sixth No. 1 from 'Teenage Dream?'

Discount single at iTunes? Check. Come up with a new remix? Check. Show up on well-timed, year-end television shows? Check.

Looks like Katy Perry, who hosted “Saturday Night Live” last week and was one of  Barbara Walters’  Most Fascinating People, is on track to make “The One That Got Away” her sixth No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 from “Teenage Dream,” which, as we all know by now, would make her the only artist in pop history to ever do so.

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<p>Paul McCartney</p>

Paul McCartney

Credit: AP Photo

Paul McCartney wants to be your sweetheart on Feb. 7's 'My Valentine'

Romantic set focuses on tunes from the '20s and '40s

Newlywed Paul McCartney has got that lovin’ feeling. On Feb. 7, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Sir Paul will release “My Valentine” on Concord/Hear Music.

The Tommy LiPuma-produced set will contain new McCartney-penned odes, because you never can really have enough silly love songs, as well as songs from the 1920s-1940s that his father loved and a young McCartney heard growing up. “My family, my uncles, everybody sang,” he told a French radio station (via Direct Contact). “And there will be pieces I wrote, but in this style...I worked with Diana Krall, and great jazz musicians like John Clayton. This is an album very tender, very intimate. This is an album you listen to at home after work, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea.”

It will be a big week for McCartney, who will be honored Feb. 10 in Los Angeles as MusiCares Person of the Year, the annual fundraiser produced by The Recording Academy two nights before the Grammys.


<p>The Chieftans</p>

The Chieftans


Bon Iver, Decemberists, Civil Wars join the Chieftains for 'Voice of Ages'

Venerated Irish band pairs with indie, Americana and folk artists for new set

The DecemberistsBon Iver, The  Civil Wars, The Low Anthem, Pistol Annies and Carolina Chocolate Drops all join The Chieftains on the legendary Irish outfit’s “Voice of Ages,” out  Feb. 21.

Co-produced by T Bone Burnett, the set also features Punch Brothers, Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan and Paolo Nutini mixing it up on a collection, as well as writing some of the material: The Civil Wars write a song specifically for the project.

The Chieftains will kick off a tour in conjunction with the release on Feb. 17  in Santa Barbara, which will culminate in their annual St. Patrick’s Day show in New York. This year’s St. Paddy’s show will also serve as a 50th anniversary celebration.

The band has a long history of collaborating with musicians from all different genres, and has recorded in the past with Mark Knopfler, Tom Jones, Ziggy Marley, Jackson Browne, Madonna, Sting, Elvis Costello, Mick Jagger and dozens more.


<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert sets date for second post-'AI' album, 'Trespassing'

Listen to the new single, 'Better Than I Know Myself'

It looks like Adam Lambert held out on all his Glamberts! On Wednesday, he tweeted the album cover for new single, “Better Than I Know Myself” and a 30-second snippet of the song, but left out the big news: the release date for his second, post-”American Idol” album, “Trespassing.”

The set will come out March 20 on 19 Entertainment/RCA.  Fans who pre-order the album on Dec. 20, will get an instant, free download of “Better Than I Know Myself,” which goes on sales next Tuesday.  (Even though we're still in 2011, March 20 is starting to look like a major release date: both The Shins and Madonna announce this week that they will also release albums in "late March").

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