'School is back in session,' declares Chris Cornell
Twelve years after disbanding, Soundgarden is reuniting The Seattle band, fronted by Chris Cornell, cryptically hinted at the reunion on a new website, www.soundgardenworld.com, which went live Dec.31. Additionally, Cornell tweeted the news as 2009 came to a close as well: “The 12-year break is over & school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!”
Party anthem sets new digital sales record for a female artist
Let’s hear it for the party girls! They have spoken loud and clear. Ke$ha’s trashy “Tik Tok” set the record this week for most downloads by any female artist since Billboard started tracking digital sales in 2003. It beats the previous record held by Lady GaGa's "Just Dance" by almost 200,000 copies.
How her kids convinced her not to call her album 'Fearless'
When I think about some of the most memorable music moments of the decade, I think about Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone’s no-holds-barred performance of “Piece of My Heart” at the 2006 Grammy Awards. It was Etheridge’s first appearance since she’d announced she was battling cancer. She got up on stage, bald as a cue ball from chemotherapy, and sang her heart and soul out. I was backstage in the press room and there wasn’t a dry eye in there. Even if you weren’t a fan of Etheridge’s music, you couldn’t help but fall in love with her that day for her utterly fearless, radiant, joyous, performance.
I recently hung out with Etheridge on the set of her music video for her new single, “Fearless Love. “ The video shoot was at a house in Tarzana, Calif., that time had forgotten. A very sweet elderly lady lived there and had left it virtually unchanged since the Eisenhower era.
As Etheridge and I chatted in her doily-filled dining room, the lady of the house asked Etheridge what kind of music she made. She had a preference for jazz herself. Etheridge politely told her rock and roll and expressed her hope that it wouldn’t be too loud for her as we headed into the performance segment.
The owner interrupted us a second time and Etheridge was as respectful and courteous with her as if she were her own grandmother, even though we were on a very tight time schedule, but that’s how Etheridge is. For a rock star, she’s always been exceptionally grounded—maybe it’s her Midwestern roots. Her bout with cancer left her humbled, but also determined to enjoy every minute and to allow herself, her voice and her fame to be used for causes she supports: whether it be the environment, gay rights or breast cancer awareness.
I’ve interviewed Etheridge a number of times, but on this night, she was more present and vibrant than I’d ever seen her. She’s tremendously excited about her new album, “Fearless Love,” which comes out in early 2010, and heralds it as a return to her rock roots (Her kids had to talk her out of calling it "Fearless," reminding her there's another artist who claimed that album title recently).
“The whole album just rocks and rocks and rocks,” she says. “It doesn’t give up. Every song is very emotional and intense. There’s all kinds of different subjects in it. Most of the songs are about me. There’s a couple where I sing about other people, situations, where I’m the third-person observer. I don’t do that very often. I decided I want to do that more.”
Etheridge can’t wait to get back on the road, or more specifically, back on stage. “It’s an exchange of energy,” she says, between her and her audience. “And there are people who come to listen and have it be a one-way conversation and then there are people who literally talk to me. I don’t always hear them.”
I add that they’re usually shouting out, “Melissa, we love you!”
“Thank you very much is how I usually answer… and it’s a two way conversation.”
“Fearless Love” is her 10th studio album and she feels she finally has enough material for “the perfect set list,” she says. “Oh! This album puts it over the top. I can interchange now.”
For the rest of our interview with Etheridge, click here.
Where do Radiohead and Green Day fit in?
As my colleague Katie Hasty and I -- as well as every other critic in the world -- have been doing over the last few weeks, it’s time to unveil yet another list.
Below are my Top 12 choices for best albums and singles of the 2000s. “Best,” which is clearly a subjective term, means a few things here: not only was the album or song a superior effort, it’s also one that I loved (and continue to love) to play over and over. The latter meant more to me than critical acclaim from fellow writers and whether any of these selections showed up on other lists. I deliberately left out anything that I put on my Best of 2009 tallies, for singles and albums.
What are your favorites of the decade?
Best Albums of the Decade
1) “Magic,” Bruce Springsteen
2) “American Idiot,” Green Day
3) “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Coldplay
4) “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” Justin Timberlake
5) “This is It,” The Strokes
6) “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse
7) “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” U2
8) “Taking the Long Way,” Dixie Chicks
9) “Late Registration, “ Kanye West
10) “Kid A,” Radiohead
11) “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket
12) “Final Straw,” Snow Patrol
Best Singles of the Decade
1) “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay
2) “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce
3) “All My Life,” Foo Fighters
4) “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley
5) “Clocks,” Coldplay
6) “Hey Ya,” Outkast
7) “American Idiot,” Green Day
8) “Girls in their Summer Clothes,” Bruce Springsteen
9) “No One Knows,” Queens of the Stone Age
10) “Golddigger” Kanye West
11) “Starlight,” Muse
12) “99 Problems,” Jay- Z
Says he is 'eager' to get back on stage with bandmates
Following several tumultuous weeks, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler has checked into rehab for addiction to prescription painkillers.
Rapper and Mr. Hudson tackle Alphaville hit
Although it’s meant for his international fans and won’t be released in the U.S., you can check out Jay Z’s new video for “Forever Young” embedded on this page.
The song, a remake of Alphaville’s 1984 hit “Forever Young” features Kanye West protégé Mr. Hudson taking on the main vocal duties with Jay Z dropping in a few raps.
The video is a black and white collage of youngsters playing intercut with Mr. Hudson and Jay-Z performing the song in concert. It’s a fairly sedate affair, but the spirit is sweet. Look for Jay-Z’s next video in the U.S. to be for “On to the Next One” from “The Blueprint 3.”
What do you tihnk of Jay-Z's latest? Share your thoughts below.
Joined by Mudvayne, Eminem's re-release with seven bonus tracks
Not so long ago, no artist in his or her right mind would have dreamt of putting out an album after Thanksgiving, but all that changed several years ago when rappers like Method Man and Redman put out a new project around Turkey Day and sales were strong. While it’s still relatively rare, this year has seen a number of platinum plus artists releasing new projects post-Thanksgiving this year.
And now, we have a bonafide superstar, Mary J. Blige, putting out a new collection three days before Christmas. That makes her poised to be a likely choice for folks with iTunes gift cards burning a hole in their pocket on Dec. 25.
Still, there are only a handful of releases coming out this week and most of them, as happened the week of Thanksgiving, are coming out off cycle on Monday (Dec. 21) instead of the usual Tuesday. Head up: we’ll take a break next week as there are no new releases of merit coming out Dec. 29, but we’ll be back in the 2010. Happy New Year!
Does this surprise anbody?
Watch: Ke$ha and Co. crash sweet singer's 'Fireflies' in concert
Owl City, whose twee electro-pop hit “Fireflies” is one of the hottest songs of the year, will continue spreading his gooey sweetness into 2010 with a spring tour that starts March 30 in Boise, Idaho.
But first, OC, who is really just Adam Young, will play Europe and Australia (the latter with Cobra Starship) and heading a tour in January.
Between now and then, "Fireflies" will undoubtedly continue to sell like crazy. The single has surpassed the 2 million sales mark.
And Young will be looking over his shoulder for Ke$ha. As Owl City peformed "Fireflies" Monday night in Houston, Ke$ha -- who was also on the bill -- jumped on stage with two bandmates, dressed as fireflies and flitted around the stage, according to Idolator. We have it all captured below for your viewing pleasure.
Here are Owl City's tour dates:
March 30th Knitting Factory Boise, ID
31st Knitting Factory Spokane, WA
April 1st Paramount Theater Seattle, WA
3rd Roseland Theater Portland, OR
5th Fillmore San Francisco, CA
6th Fillmore San Francisco, CA
7th Fox Theater Pomona, CA
8th Soma San Diego, CA
9th Club Nokia Los Angeles, CA
10th Marquee Phoenix, AZ
12th Salt Air Salt Lake City, UT
13th Ogden Denver, CO
15th Stubbs Austin, TX
17th Nokia Theater Dallas, TX
19th War Memorial Nashville, TN
20th Tabernacle Atlanta, GA
22nd DAR Hall Washington, D.C.
23rd House of Blues Boston, MA
24th Terminal 5 New York, NY
25th Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA
28th House of Blues Cleveland, OH
29th Royal Oak Detroit, MI
30th Riviera Theatre Chicago, IL
May 1st State Theater Minneapolis, MN
2nd Eagle Ballroom Milwaukee, WI
How is Alicia Keys album selling this week?