<p>Don Henley and Glenn Frey perform with The Eagles at the Forum</p>

Don Henley and Glenn Frey perform with The Eagles at the Forum

Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

The Forum tries to bring back the art of listening

We were at opening night for The Eagles at the Los Angeles venue

Can an arena live by music alone? That’s what The Forum will try to do here in Los Angeles.

The venue, given a $100 million facelift by new owner Madison Square Garden, re-opened last night with a show by The Eagles, their first of six concerts by the veteran group over the next  10 days. (The Eagles are managed by Irving Azoff who helped spearhead the refurbishment).

Prior to MSG’s 2012 purchase, the one-time home to the Kings and the Lakers was a broken-down edifice, a round concrete slab that was a fun place to see rock and roll, but good sound quality was definitely an afterthought.

Now, the new owners are pledging that the venue will be used for music-oriented performances  (that includes some family shows) and no sporting events.  A venue devoted solely to music is certainly not unique. Clubs and theaters feature only music. It’s not even special to have a large-scale venue dedicated only to music —that’s what outdoor amphitheaters do every year, but only for a four-month season. The question mark is can an arena with 17,500 or so seats do music, and only music, year-round and survive?

If any venue can, it will be The Forum. It can scale down to 8,000, which makes it the perfect place to pick up some of the slack from the closed Universal Amphitheater. But more importantly, if it succeeds, could other cities pick up the gauntlet for large venues that are built to hear music, not to hear a hockey puck reverberate?

As I left the pristine, beautiful venue (the ceiling even lights up like a starry night every now and then), I thought how we concert-goers have to put up with crappy sound at mixed-use facilities if we want to see an arena show because the arena was built with its anchor tenant--usually a sports team-- in mind.

While not every large venue can be music only, they can all do what The Forum did last night. The Forum is trying to bring the art of listening back. Before the show, an announcer asked patrons to turn off their cell phones and not to film during the show so as not to disturb those around them. Maybe because the  audience was older, it, by and large, worked. And it was glorious not to have to watch the show through someone’s arms holding up their iPhone or be distracted by people spending the whole evening staring at their phone screen updating on Facebook and Twitter.

The Eagles were the perfect choice for the opening run not only for their Southern California roots —an element played up to great effect last night— but also for their pristine, technical proficiency. With Glenn Frey and Don Henley’s vocals way up in the mix, instead of somewhere in the mud, I could hear every lyric clearly as well as the band's glorious harmonies. Plus, since they played both acoustic and electric numbers in their 3-hour plus set, it was easy to hear how good it will sound for both singer/songwriters and full-on rock bands.

So here’s to the Forum. I’ll be there again on Monday for Justin Timberlake. Other upcoming shows at The Forum include Sting/Paul Simon, Imagine Dragons and Kings Of Leon.

Getting to actually hear the music clearly at an arena show in a venue built to hear music. What a concept. It’s one I could get used to...

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<p>Ke$ha and Pitbull</p>

Ke$ha and Pitbull

Credit: AP Photo

Pitbull and Ke$ha's 'Timber' tops the pop charts... again

Katy Perry gets some exciting news

Pitbull and Ke$ha remain in the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for a second week with “Timber.”  The song is also No. 1 on Hot Rap Songs.

Four of the top five stay in place, as OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” is No. 2, Eminem and Rihanna’s “Monster” is No. 3, and A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something” is No. 5.

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J, rides into the top 5, rising 6-4. Its rise is propelled by the song’s move into No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart, her tenth Digital Songs chart topper.

Passenger’s “Let Her Go” inches 7-6, Lorde’s “Royals” slips 4-7, and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” holds at No. 8

Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” scoots 10-9, while One Direction’s “Story of My Life” re-enters the Top 10, moving 12-10.

 

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: Katyperry.com

Katy Perry ready to roar on stage

North American tour kicks off June 22

Katy Perry will roar back onto stage June 22, when she kicks off the Prismatic World Tour in Raleigh, N.C.

Capital Cities, Kacey Musgraves and Tegan and Sara will serve as support acts.

The 46-city outing, presented by AEG’s Goldenvoice, will last four months, ending at Houston’s Toyota Center on Oct. 10.

Perry’s current album, “Prism,” has landed Perry a number of hits, including first single, “Roar,” and current Top 10 tune, “Dark Horse.”

And here’s a term we don’t remember seeing before: Cover Girl is the “official cosmetic partner” of the Prismatic tour.  I guess that leaves room for an official car sponsor, clothing sponsor, etc. Citi has already grabbed official credit card of the tour...

Citi members will have first crack at tickets starting Jan. 21, followed by a Facebook pre-sale starting Jan. 23. The general on-sale date will be announced shortly.

Perry will appear on the Grammy Awards, Jan. 26.

6/22/14 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena *
6/24/14 – Washington, DC – Verizon Center *
6/27/14 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena *
6/28/14 – Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena *
6/30/14 – Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Times Forum *
7/2/14 – Sunrise, FL – BB&T Center *
7/3/14 – Miami, FL – American Airlines Arena *
7/9/14 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden *
7/11/14 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center *
7/15/14 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre *
7/16/14 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Tire Centre *
7/18/14 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre *
7/22/14 – Pittsburgh, PA – CONSOL Energy Center *
7/24/14 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center *
8/1/14 – Boston, MA – TD Garden *
8/4/14 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center *
8/7/14 – Chicago, IL – United Center *
8/10/14 – Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena ^
8/11/14 – Auburn Hills, MI – The Palace of Auburn Hills ^
8/13/14 – Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena ^
8/14/14 – Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena ^
8/16/14 – Louisville, KY – KFC Yum! Center ^
8/17/14 – St. Louis, MO – Scottrade Center ^
8/19/14 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center ^
8/20/14 – Lincoln, NE – Pinnacle Bank Arena ^
8/22/14 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Center ^
8/23/14 – Fargo, ND – FARGODOME ^
8/26/14 – Winnipeg, MB – MTS Centre ^
8/28/14 – Saskatoon, SK – Credit Union Centre ^
8/29/14 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome ^
8/31/14 – Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place ^
9/9/14 – Vancouver, BC – Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena #
9/12/14 – Portland, OR – Moda Center #
9/13/14 – Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Dome #
9/16/14 – Anaheim, CA – Honda Center #
9/19/14 – Los Angeles, CA – STAPLES Center #
9/22/14 – San Jose, CA – SAP Center #
9/25/14 – Glendale, AZ – Jobing.com Arena #
9/26/14 – Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena #
9/29/14 – Salt Lake City, UT – EnergySolutions Arena #
9/30/14 – Denver, CO – Pepsi Center #
10/2/14 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center #
10/5/14 – Memphis, TN – FedExForum #
10/6/14 – Tulsa, OK – BOK Center #
10/8/14 – New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Arena #
10/10/14 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center ~

*With Capital Cities
^ With Kasey Musgraves
# With Tegan and Sara
~ TBD

 

 

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<p>Bruce Springsteen</p>

Bruce Springsteen

Credit: AP Photo

Ranking Bruce Springsteen's 10 best albums

Is your favorite on the list?

It's a good day to be a Bruce Springsteen fan: His new album, "High Hopes," came out today and even if it's not chockful of winners, it's enough to tide us over until a true new studio album emerges. Plus, Springsteen & The E Street Band were announced as headliners for New Orleans' Jazz Fest in May, which could mean there is a U.S. tour coming, their first stateside outing since 2012.

I reviewed "High Hopes" last week, and now I'm looking back at what I consider to be the best 10 studio albums of Springsteen's career. I excluded live and compilation albums and, as with all things, this list is totally subjective. What struck me as I reviewed his 18 studio albums is how potent Springsteen's music was from the start and  it hasn't let up. My choices span 1973-2007 (that tells you two of them right there). Springsteen has been making meaningful, important, joyous music for more than 40 years, seldom succumbing to laziness or nostalgia.

Be sure to list your favorite albums below and take our poll.

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<p>The Boss</p>

The Boss

Credit: AP Photo

Arcade Fire, Springsteen, Vampire Weekend and Clapton headline 2014 Jazz Fest

Christina Aguilera, Foster the People also on New Orleans bill

The 45th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival may be the only festival that Outkast isn’t playing this year, but they will hardly be missed.

Toplining the festival, which runs April 25-27 and May 1-4, are Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (in their only 2014 date so far), Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Eric Clapton, Phish, and Christina Aguilera.

Among the more than 80 acts on the bill are Robin Thicke, Santana, Foster the People, The Avett Brothers, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, John Fogerty, Alabama Shakes, The Head & The Heart, and Jason Isbell.

The festival prides itself on featuring hometown talent and this year, such New Orleans local heroes as Aaron Neville, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Irma Thomas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and the Radiators are on the bill.

Unlike Coachella, which features the same line-up both weekends, Jazz Fest offers different acts each weekend:  Phish and Clapton will play the first weekend, while Arcade Fire and Springsteen will be the heavy hitters for the second.

For the full line-up, go here or watch the announcement video below.  Tickets go on sale today.

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Foster the People return with dreamy 'Coming of Age': Listen
Credit: Columbia Records

Foster the People return with dreamy 'Coming of Age': Listen

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New album, 'Supermodel,' headed for stores in March

It’s been more than a minute since Foster the People broke through in 2011 with “Pumped Up Kicks” from its major label debut, “Torches.”

The trio, led by Mark Foster, returns with a new album, the Paul Epworth-produced “Supermodel,” on March 18. First single, “Coming of Age,” hits airwaves today.

Foster the People have shifted slightly away from their Beach Boys obsession (although only slightly given how the tune ends) and moved on to new wave and  late-‘80s Brit Pop for “Coming of Age,” a shimmering, yet propulsive guitar-and-synth driven track.

“I try to live without regrets,” Mark Foster sings, though he knows that’s easier said than done, especially “when my fear pulls me out to sea,” leading him to hurt the ones he cares about the most. It’s a more personal, reflective tune than their previous hits.

Bolstered by sweet backing vocals and a nice bridge three-quarters of the way in, the track has staying power and could build to be a nice winter/spring time hit.  Foster shows Brian Wilson a little love with the ending vocals.

Coachella-bound Foster the People recorded the album in Morocco, Los Angeles and London with Epworth, best known for his work with Adele.  In addition to Coachella, the group is also confirmed for two club dates this month: Seattle, Jan. 19, and Portland, Jan 20.

The video below is time-lapse footage of a mural painting of the cover art in downtown Los Angeles. Below the video is the tracklisting for "Supermodel." 

 

"Supermodel" track listing

1. Are You What You Want to Be
2. Ask Yourself
3. Coming of Age
4. Nevermind
5. Pseudologia Fantastica
6. The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones
7. Best Friend
8. A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon
9. Goats in Trees
10. The Truth
11. Fire Escape

 

 

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Lea Michele's title track, 'Louder': Listen
Credit: Columbia Records

Lea Michele's title track, 'Louder': Listen

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Don't let anyone turn out your heartlight

 After the video for Lea Michele’s new  single, “Cannonball,” bowed last week, the “Glee” singer is back with the title track from her upcoming album, out March 4.

If “Cannonball’s” message is about starting to live today, “Louder’s” take-away is to ignore anyone who’s trying to extinguish your inner flame.

“Louder” is similarly anthemic and mid-tempo, but has a softer approach than “Cannonball,” despite its exhortation to “scream a little louder.”  The song is an inspirational ode to “come out of the shadow, step into the light, this could be the moment that could change your life.” While it could be a single, it's melodically too close to "Cannonball" to be the follow-up.

The “Glee” star told Billboard, which debuted the track, the song’s mission statement resonated with her. "I always think it's so important to live your life to the fullest, and love as hard as you can love, and fight as hard as you can fight. Be loud, be bold, be yourself, whether or not people understand that message. That's what I think of when I think of the song and album."

What do you think of “Louder?”

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 Shakira and Rihanna's 'Can't Remember To Forget You': Listen

Shakira and Rihanna's 'Can't Remember To Forget You': Listen

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You can certainly shake your hips to it

Shakira and Rihanna bounce through their heartache on “Can’t Remember To Forget You,” an ode to a guy who is bad in all the good ways.

The two play off each other, trading parts about the boy who makes them forget everything other than “kissing in the moonlight.”

The track, which premiered today on “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,”  is relentlessly and aggressively upbeat, bringing in Latin beats in homage to Shakira’s Colombian background, and Caribbean touches, as tribute to Rihanna, who is from Barbados. Plus, it adds in an ‘80s, Police-like rhythm, similar to that heard on Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” as MTV and other outlets also noted.

It’s loud and in your face and it comes out in time to be hitting its stride when Shakira returns as a coach on “The Voice” on Feb. 24. The song will be on Shakira’s new album, out March 25.

Given that the song credits list six songwriters — Shakira, Rihanna, John Hill, Tom Hull, Daniel Ledinsky and Erik Hassle — you’d think they would have come up with a more memorable chorus. Instead they seemed to rely on the star appeal of their names and lots of bells and whistles. Having said that, it’s certainly better than another recent superstar collaboration: Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears’  paste-up on “SMS (Bangerz).”

What do you think of “Can’t Remember To Forget You?”
How do you like it compared to Shakira’s 2007 collaboration with Beyonce,  “Beautiful Liar,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100?

 

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: AP Photo

Beyonce headed back to No. 1 next week

Rapper Kid Ink poised for a big bow

Beyonce returns to dominance on the Billboard 200 next week as “Beyonce” is poised to thaw “Frozen” out of the top spot.

It will mark “Beyonce’s” fourth non-consecutive week at No. 1, as the soundtrack to the Disney animated features slides to No. 2.  

With the holidays over and no new releases from major artists, no title will top the 100,000 mark, with “Beyonce” slated to sell around 85,000 units and “Frozen” reaching for 75,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

The one debut in the Top 10 in the slow release week will belong to rapper Kid Ink with his major label bow, “My Own Lane,” at No. 3 (50,000).

The rest of the Top 10 belongs to major acts who have been lodged in the Top 10: At No. 4 will be Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” (40,000), Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” at No. 5 (35,000); One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” at No. 6 (26,000), Katy Perry’s “Prism” at No. 7 (22,000), Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz” at No. 8 (21,000) and Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same" and Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” in a dead heat for No. 9, with each moving up to 19,000 copies.








 

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<p>Tom Morello</p>

Tom Morello

Credit: nightwatchmenmusic.com

Inspired by Springsteen, Tom Morello's ready to rock on solo album

His stint in the E Street Band paved the way

Becoming a temporary member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band has so inspired Tom Morello that he now intends to make his first solo rock record.

Though Morello certainly let his rock god out with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, his four solo sets have been gentler, folkier outings under the moniker The Nightwatchman.

After touring with Springsteen in Australia this past summer as the replacement for Steven Van Zandt, who was filming “Lilyhammer,”  Morello tells Billboard he was inspired to rock out. “The first time I ever sang with an electric guitar in my hands was 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' [with Springsteen] at the Anaheim (Calif.) Pond in 2008. Until then I'd kept my folk singing career and my electric guitar shredding career completely separate," Morello told Billboard. "It was on that (Anaheim) stage that I realized there might be a way to combine all the things I do as a songwriter and a guitar player, and this record is going to be that."

Morello has a number of songs already written but he’ll have to wait to hit the studio until he returns from playing South Africa, New Zealand and Australia (again)  with the E Street Band.  “I want to make the craziest guitar record that anyone’s ever heard,” he says.

Morello can be heard on Springsteen's new album, "High Hopes," out Jan. 14. The guitarist is on eight of the tracks.

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