<p>L.A. Reid</p>

L.A. Reid

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Is L.A. Reid a good choice for Simon Cowell's 'The X Factor?'

UPDATE: Read Island Def Jam head's resignation letter

So after months of hints and rumors, it looks like Island Def Jam chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid  will leave his post to be a judge on Simon Cowell’s  talent reality show, “The X Factor,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Cowell had been pursuing Reid for months, but there were complications: Cowell is connected to Sony Music through his Syco label, which will have the first right to release albums from “X Factor” winners. Island Def Jam is part of Universal Music Group, which now handles the “American Idol” music releases after taking them over from Sony Music following Cowell’s departure from the judge’s chair. So you can see why UMG wasn’t about to agree to Reid serving as a judge for what amounts to a rival show, even though his contract is up in December.  “X Factor” debuts on Fox in September.

Now that hurdle has been cleared. It also answers a few other questions that have nothing to do with “X Factor,” which we’ll return to in a minute.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lupe Fiasco's 'Lasers'</p>

Lupe Fiasco's 'Lasers'

Who pushes Adele out of No. 1 on the Billboard 200?

Avril Lavigne, 'Glee' and R.E.M. return to the top 10

Lupe Fiasco scores his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week as “LASERS” tops the chart with opening week sales of 204,000.

The rapper is one of four acts with debuts in the Top 10. “Glee’s” fifth volume, and the first to include original tunes, bows at No. 3 with sales of 90,000. Avril Lavigne’s first set in four years, “Goodbye Lullaby,” enters at No. 4. Her last set, 2007’s “The Best Damn Thing,” debuted at No. 1 with an opening tally of 286,000. “Goodbye” sells 87,000 in its first week.

Similarly reflective of the radical drop in album sales, R.E.M.’s fantastically reviewed “Collapse Into Now” comes in at No. 5 with sales of 57,000. That is more than a 50% drop from 2008’s “Accelerate,” which started at No. 2 with 115,000, according to Billboard.

The last debut in the Top 10 belongs to country singer Sara Evans, whose “Stronger” starts at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Country Albums chart with sales of 55,000.

For the rest of the Top 10, Adele’s “21” drops out of the top spot to No. 2 with still strong sales of 133,000 copies.  Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” falls 3-7 after a nice, prolonged post-Grammy sales bounce; Marsha Ambrosius’s “Late Night & Early Mornings” slips 2-8, Justin Bieber’s “ Never Say Never” slides 4-9 and the “Now 37” multi-artist compilation rounds out the list, moving 5-10.

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<p>Britney Spears</p>

Britney Spears

Credit: AP

Listen: Four new Britney tracks from 'Femme Fatale'

Hear snippets from the deluxe edition of the March 29 release

The countdown to the March 29 release of Britney Spears’ “Femme Fatale” is on. For the last several weeks, little snippets or full songs have come out.

Today, portions of three of the four tracks exclusive to the deluxe edition have surfaced. Check them out, courtesy of britneysboards.org.

First up is  "Up 'N Down." We don't get much from the 26 seconds of the Max Martin co-production, other than a bouncy dance feel.

 Next up are Rodney Jerkins' two contributions. The first on, "He About To Lose Me," opens with an acoustic guitar and features Spears singing full on instead of talk-singing. The second, "Don't Keep Me Waiting," sounds like it could be a full-on rocker.

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<p>Keith Urban</p>

Keith Urban

Watch: Keith Urban reflects on his life in new 'Without You' music video

See him shirtless and frolicking at the beach

The trappings of fame mean nothing to Keith Urban without his family and lots of arty, black and white images. Check out the video to his ballad, “Without You” and you’ll see what we mean.

The clip, directed by Chris Hicky and shot on a soundstage in Hollywood, shows Urban sitting in a bedroom playing his guitar, as scenes of his life gauzily play out behind him. There’s Urban getting out of bed, shirtless (nice tattoo, man!) and  dancing with wife. There’s adorable footage of a baby, though we don’t know if it is his daughter with Nicole Kidman,  Sunday Rose. We’re not sure how the Eiffel Tower got in there, but we guess that comes under the “traveling, singing, it don’t mean nothing without you,” part of the lyric.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Eddie Vedder</p>

Eddie Vedder

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: First track from Eddie Vedder's forthcoming solo album

Pearl Jam frontman gets all happy with the ukulele

We don’t know when a new Pearl Jam album is coming, but it looks like we’re getting some fresh Eddie Vedder as early as June. Antiquiet  (via MusicBoxBlog) reports that the new solo album will be ukulele based and if the first single is any indication, that is true.

 “Longing To Belong” is an unabashed love song about hoping he falls into his love’s arms...although he’s not sure she’s in love with him too.  It’s a relatively low-key affair, but it’s so warm and intimate, it sounds like Vedder is right there beside you. Vedder is on ukelele and there is some accompanying cello, but that’s about it. You can hear a a stream here.

Vedder previously branched out on his own for the “Into The Wild” soundtrack and “Longing to Belong” has that same lonesome, yearning spirit as the music  for the Sean Penn-directed movie.

Pearl Jam fans: just a reminder that as part of the band’s 20th anniversary celebration, the “Vs. and “Vitology” reissues arrive next Tuesday, March 29, with vinyl editions out April 12, in time for Record Store Day, April 16.


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<p>Natalie Maines</p>

Natalie Maines

Listen: Dixie Chick Natalie Maines covers The Beach Boys' 'God Only Knows'

Tune will appear in 'Big Love's' series finale

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines. Her flock mates, siblings Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson, formed Courtyard Hounds and released an underrated self-titled album last year, but Maines has been quiet since the Dixie Chicks’ 2006 album, “Taking the Long Way.”

But she’s resurfaced with a remake of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” Her version produced by Rick Rubin, will be featured in the March 20 series finale of HBO’s “Big Love.” As you may know, “Big Love” used the original as its opening credit theme for three seasons. iTunes will offer the song starting March 15. Listen to it here.

“God Only Knows” is, unarguably, one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written. If there was ever a song that feels like it was delivered directly by the angels themselves, it’s “God Only Knows.” It shimmers and shines and represents all that is right in this world. That’s how we feel about it. It’s perfection.

It’s pretty untouchable in our book, even in the wonderfully capable hands of Maines. She does an admirable job and we like what Rubin’s done with the lap steel and organ.  Plus, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s drumming adds just the right touch. It’s a simple, light, innovative arrangement, that takes a strange Beatle-esque turn in the instrumental break.  It’s a nice enough effort, but the best part is at the end, when Rubin turns the instruments down and a host of heavenly female voices surround Maines, creating an “in-the-round” effect. It also makes us realize how much we miss the Dixie Chicks, but, sadly, we have a feeling there’s no new album coming any time soon.


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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Justin Bieber and Rascal Flatt's new video for 'That Should Be Me'

Clips soars straight to the top of iTunes. Will it be Bieb's first No. 1 country hit?

Is Justin Bieber headed for the country?  The Bieb and Rascal Flatts’ video for “That Should Be Me,” just surfaced and went straight to No. 1 on iTunes. Bieber's label has cracked down on the video, so we've found one version that we could link to, but expect it to disappear shortly. Watch it here.

It’s a performance clip taped against a white background with some behind-the-scenes footage.See Rascal Flatts lead singer Gary Levox get rubbed down with a lint roller! See the director looking through the monitor! See

For the Beliebers, there are some isolated shots of JB doing his thing, so if Rascal Flatts are just getting in your way, you can isolate on those solo shots.  You can also get a really good look at Bieber’s new haircut.

Rascal Flatts are having a nice resurgence at country radio right now, so this is a good fit. Plus, Bieber’s and LeVox’s voices create some nice harmony on an otherwise mundane song.

"That Should Be Me" originally appeared on Bieber's "My World 2.0." The version with Rascal Flatts is from his "Never Say Never" remix album, which entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1. The album also features remakes of Bieber tunes with such guests as Jaden Smith, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown and Kayne West's remix of "Runaway Love."

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<p>Miranda Cosgrove</p>

Miranda Cosgrove

Rise Against, New York Dolls, Miranda Cosgrove lead March 15 releases

J Mascis helms first solo record, Oh Land! arrives on our shores

After a week with some big-name releases, we go back to a release date with some juicy titles, but no names that are likely to debut in the top 10 other than “iCarly” star Miranda Cosgrove and rock band Rise Against.” Here are some of the top March 15 releases.

Miranda Cosgrove, “High Maintenance” (SMBE/Columbia):
The “iCarly” star releases a five-song EP that includes, we’re serious, an appearance by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo.

Dead Kenny Gs, “Operation Long Leash” (Megaforce):
We don’t know that much about this punk jazz trio, but we just wanted to include them to the name would make you smile... unless, of course, you’re Kenny G. In that case, we don’t think it’s funny either, Kenny.

Laura Jansen, “Bells” (Decca): Dutch singer/songwriter and Hotel Cafe favorite fronted her U.S. debut with first track, “Single Girls.” It’s not a happy tune. The chalk outline in the video gives it away. She has a lovely Tori Amos-like tone to her plaintive voice.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Avril Lavigne</p>

Avril Lavigne

Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Can Adele hold off Lupe Fiasco, 'Glee' and Avril Lavigne on the Billboard 200?

Half of the top 10 will be newcomers

It’s a big week as five of the six top titles on next week’s Billboard 200 will be newbies.

After two weeks at No. 1, Adele’s 21 will likely drop to No. 2 to make way for Lupe Fiasco’s “LASERS,” which is poised to sell a robust 225,000 copies. “21” is on target to move around 130,000. Coming in at No. 3 will be “Glee Vol.5” at around 100,000 units. At No. 4 is Avril Lavigne’s “Goodbye Lullaby,” at No. 5 will be country singer Sara Evans’ newest, “Stronger,”  and at No. 6, R.E.M.’s “Collapse into Now.” Evans and R.E.M. are too close to call to know if they’ll come in at that order or switch places.

Raekwon’s “Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang” looks like it will bow at No. 11, but, according to Hits Daily Double, it could squeak into the top 10, depending upon if it can beat Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never. “

Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” continues to sell strongly and likely land at No. 7, ex-Floetry singer Marsha Ambrosius’s “Late Nights and Early Mornings” drops from No. 2 to No. 8, while multi-artist compilation “Now 37” is No. 9.


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<p>Gwyneth Paltrow</p>

Gwyneth Paltrow

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Music Power Rankings: Adele rolls into No. 1 over Lady Gaga and Gwyneth

Bob Dylan makes the list for the first time

As the world’s eyes are, appropriately, on the horrific events in Japan, we take a light-hearted look at some of the movers and shakers in the music industry this week. Spending her second week at the top is Adele, who has excited fans and critics alike with “19,” the first bona-fide success story of 2011.

1) Adele (No. 1): Her new album goes gold, selling more than 500,000 copies in three weeks to make it the top seller of 2011. The Daily Beast crowns her the queen of “pop’s new beauty standard.” Why don’t we keep her looks, and any other artist’s looks, out of it and just have it be about her astonishing talent alone?

2) Warner Music Group (not ranked):  Bidding turns up at least five legitimate suitors for either the recorded music division or the publishing company or both. Have these folks looked at what’s happening to album sales lately?

3) Odd Future (not ranked):  The Los Angeles-based rap collective lead by 19-year old Tyler, the Creator lands on the cover of Billboard. Are they the future of the music industry or just the latest flavor-of-the-month that we won’t remember by 2012? Is it possible to jump the shark if only .01% of the public knows who you are?

4) MOG (not ranked): Pandora has stolen the spotlight lately, but this music streaming service is making big moves, including this week’s deals with LG Samsung and Vizio to be part of new internet-ready televisions and BMW’s Mini line.

[More after the jump...]

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