<p>Scotty McCreery performs on the &quot;Today&quot; show earlier this month</p>

Scotty McCreery performs on the "Today" show earlier this month

Credit: AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer

Exclusive Interview: Scotty McCreery talks hitting No. 1, his 'no' list and prom

What his parents do if he gets bigheaded

Scotty McCreery has only been 18 for three days, but so far so good.

The day before his birthday, he celebrated with 15,000 fans in Raleigh, N.C. (one town over from his hometown of Garner) and received a gold plaque for his first single, “I Love You This Big,” selling more than 500,000 copies.

Then on Tuesday, he played country’s most sacred spot, Nashville’s Grand Old Opry, alongside Trace Atkins and LeAnn Rimes.

Later that night, the “American Idol”  got confirmation that his debut album, “Clear As Day,” was a lock to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1, making him the youngest male artist of any genre to achieve that feat with his first studio set.

So how did he celebrate? By continuing on with interviews and promoting “Clear As Day.” Hitfix talked to the unfailingly polite McCreery Wednesday morning (he even called early) about coming in at No. 1, how he spends his rare time off, what he won’t sing about, and the prom.

I grew up in Raleigh, so he and I couldn’t help but engage in a little chat about top N.C. past time —golf —as well as what it means to be a Carolina gal and girl.

You got the best 18th birthday present ever. How did you find out that “Clear As Day” went to No. 1?

I got an email last night from my manager. She said this is where we’re at, so congratulations. We were going wild. We’ve been working towards it. It was really cool to see all the hard work paying off

You topped Adele on the chart. That must feel good.

The thing that’s really cool about Adele is she’s been going strong for weeks on end. It’s amazing to see what she’s doing but it’s just wild to see ”Clear As Day” take off like it’s doing. We’re excited about it.

With “Clear as Day,” you found your voice very quickly. The song selection is material that seems to speak to you. How many songs did you plow through to come up with the final choices?

Oh, we went through a bunch, and the label, they’d gone through a lot before they even got to me. We had a big meeting in Nashville with the songwriters and the publishers and told them what we wanted to have on the album and what kind of topics we were looking for, so after that, the songs were really coming down the pipeline, a bunch at a time. It was fun getting the songs and I think we picked the right ones.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Paul Simon</p>

Paul Simon

Credit: AP Photo

Paul Simon plans 25th anniversary tour behind 'Graceland'

Box set commemorating landmark set due as well

Paul Simon is planning a 25th anniversary tour behind “Graceland,” the landmark Grammy-winning album. The tour will likely take place in May in conjunction with a “Graceland” box set, according to Billboard.

The tour will include some of the original musicians who played with him on the original 1987 outing, including South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. A number of musicians who played with Simon then are still with him on his excellent tour to support his latest album,  “So Beautiful Or So What” (read our review here).

The box set will also include a documentary highlighting Simon’s return to South Africa in July for a performance that featured trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. "The documentary," Simon told Billboard, "took me back to the artistic aspects and the political aspects of making Graceland and the controversy that surrounded it and how it was resolved, plus what remains of it and what we learn from it."

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<p>&nbsp;Scotty McCreery</p>

 Scotty McCreery

Credit: AP Photo

Scotty McCreery 'Clearly' enters Billboard 200 at No. 1 and sets records

Who else bows in the top 10?

Scotty McCreery is sitting on top of the world — or at least on top of a number of records.  “American Idol’s” Season 10 winner charged onto the Billboard 200 this week at No. 1 selling 197,000 copies of “Clear as Day.”  (We interviewed McCreery this morning and will post that interview later today).

As if that were not enough of a triumph, he entered the record books as well: McCreery is the first country act to bow at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with his debut album, and McCreery is the youngest male artist of any genre to start at the top spot with his debut release, according to Billboard.

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<p>Taylor Swift arrives at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Honors show in Nashville</p>

Taylor Swift arrives at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Honors show in Nashville

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Taylor Swift named Billboard's Woman of the Year

She follows last year's honoree, Fergie

Billboard has named Taylor Swift its Woman of the Year. The 21-year old becomes the youngest recipient of the award, which will be presented at Billboard 2011 Women in Music event Dec. 2 in New York.

The award, which has honored Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Fergie, and Reba McEntire in the past, salutes a female artist who has experienced not only a stellar sales year but has continued to have creative breakthroughs.

Swift has spent much of 2011 on the road, supporting her third album, “Speak Now.” That set debuted on top of the Billboard 200 with sales of more than 1 million copies in its opening frame. Her last album, “Fearless,” captured album of the year at the 2010 Grammys. She is nominated for six Country Music Assn. Awards, including entertainer of the year. The CMAs will be held in November.

Swift’s “Speak Now” tour lasts until Nov. 22. Also upcoming for Swift are DVD releases of her “Fearless” and “Speak Now” tours.

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<p>Martina McBride</p>

Martina McBride

Credit: AP Photo

Interview: Martina McBride talks Pat Monahan, George Strait and her kids

Her beautiful new album 'Eleven,' out today, is full of firsts for the country superstar

Martina McBride has been music for 20 years, but “Eleven,” out today, marks a whole new start for the Grammy-nominated singer.

“Eleven,” her 11th studio album, is her first for a new label, her first under her new management team, and more significantly, the first album where she has co-written the bulk of the songs, and recorded outside of Nashville.

“I just tried to make my environment such that I didn’t have any other responsibilities for the time I was tracking,” she says. “Just to make the music the focus. It was a luxury I’d never experienced before, not even before I had kids.”

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: AP Photo

Want to hang with Phish on New Year's Eve? Here's how

Band returns to Madison Square Garden for four-show residency

It’s becoming a regular gig for Phish: the jam band will return to New York’s Madison Square Garden for four shows around New Year’s Eve.

Already have plans for Dec. 31, the band will be at the legendary venue Dec. 28-31. Prior to this stint, Phish has played 19 shows at MSG, including last year’s New Year’s Eve.

Fans can request tickets through Oct. 24 on Phish’s website. Ticket prices will include a free MP3 of the evening’s show from the soundboard.


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Look: Rihanna reveals sultry new album covers for 'Talk That Talk'

Look: Rihanna reveals sultry new album covers for 'Talk That Talk'

Which one do you like better?

Rihanna has released the two covers for “Talk That Talk,” her sixth album out on Nov. 21.

The first photo, for the standard edition, features Ri Ri, looking downward, licking her upper lip with her ring-clad hand on top of her head and the album title tattooed on her arm.  We’re not sure what she’s up to, but we’re sure it’s no good.  Fans unlocked the album cover through the contest she’s having on her Facebook page.


The second cover, for the deluxe edition, surfaced on Idolator, and is much hotter — literally. It features a sultry Rihanna in a black and white photo, her mouth open and smoke coming out.


“Talk That Talk” is already off to a great start:  first single “We Found Love”  finds its ways into the record books as Rihanna lands her 20th Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in faster time than any other solo artist. It took Ri Ri only six years and four months to accomplish the staggering feat, besting Madonna’s six years and nine months time frame.

Which image do you like better? 

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The Black Keys
The Black Keys

The Black Keys set release date for new album, 'El Camino'

Watch the Funny or Die video announcing the set — sort of

On Dec. 6, the Black Keys will release “El Camino,” the follow up to the Grammy-winning “Brothers.” While the official word came today from the label, the much more amusing, yet obtuse, announcement came through this Bob Odenkirk viral video.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kid Rock receives the Edward H.&nbsp;McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award at the 22nd Annual Goodfellows Tribute Breakfast in Detroit, Michigan</p>

Kid Rock receives the Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award at the 22nd Annual Goodfellows Tribute Breakfast in Detroit, Michigan

Credit: AP Photo/Detroit News, Gary Malerba

Kid Rock takes 'Care' tour on the road to help others in need

Detroit businesses chip in to local charities on the route

It turns out Kid Rock really does care; that’s not just the title of his current single.

Kid Rock, aka Bob Ritchie, has lined up a collection of Detroit businesses who will donate to local charities and causes in every city on his upcoming theater tour. Radio stations in the chosen tour stops will help decide which organizations get the funds from such companies as Quicken Loans, Compuware Corporation, The Detroit Pistons and The Suburban Collection.

In a statement,Kid Rock further explained, “The song [‘Care’] says 'the least that I can do is Care' - and I want to put my money where my mouth is.  Everyone knows that Detroit is hurting.  But I want to show that even though we don't have a lot on our own plate, it doesn't mean the people of my hometown don't have compassion to share with others all over the country.  At the end of the day we're all Detroit, we're one country, one family".

Kid Rock will be backed by his Twisted Brown Trucker Band. Ty Stone will open the dates. Tickets go on sales Oct. 15.

11/10     Center Stage - Atlanta, GA *
11/12     The Amphitheater at the Wharf - Orange Beach, AL (rescheduled show) *
11/13     Citrus Bowl - Orlando, FL (Orlando Calling Festival) *
11/16     Fillmore - Silver Spring, MD
11/19     Beacon Theatre - New York, NY
11/20     Town Ballroom - Buffalo, NY
11/22     Egyptian Room - Indianapolis, IN
11/23     Ryman Theatre- Nashville, TN
11/26     House of Blues - Chicago - Chicago, IL
11/29     Midland Theatre - Kansas City, MO
12/01     Fillmore Auditorium - Denver, CO
12/03     The Great Saltair - Magna, UT
12/04     Knitting Factory - Boise, ID
12/09     Fantasy Springs Special Events Center - Indio, CA *
 * - not part of club tour

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Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Credit: AP Photo

Watch: B.o.B joins Taylor Swift for live version of 'Airplanes'

Does Hayley Williams mind?

At each concert stop on her “Speak Now” tour, Taylor Swift has incorporated material from other performers from the area. Sometimes she’s been joined by them. For her Cowboys Stadium show Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, she brought up B.o.B. for a fun duet of his hit, “Airplanes.”  B.o.B.'s from Georgia, but that's close enough.

Swift takes on the part handled by Paramore’s Hayley Williams, who, incidentally, recently joined Swift on stage in Nashville.

[More after the jump...]

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