<p>Jennifer Hudson</p>

Jennifer Hudson

Credit: AP

Album review: Jennifer Hudson's 'I Remember Me'

Go to church with the Oscar winner as she soars above it all

We’re not an “American Idol” fan, but if all it ever did was introduce us to Jennifer Hudson (even though she was voted off in the seventh round),  then it’s all been worth it.

Hudson, whose second album, "I Remember Me" is out today, has one of the best voices to come around in years. Some folks compare her to Aretha. No one matches the queen of soul in our book. For us, she’s more like Chaka Khan: her voice has a fluidity and vulnerability, but also a strength and heft.

First single, “Where You At,” written and produced by R. Kelly showcases all those abilities as we can almost feel her pain as she stands there in the freezing cold for someone who never shows, yet we know her indominable spirit will see her through. Unlike other divas, Hudson never resorts to cheap vocal tricks because she doesn’t need to.

The terrain here is a familiar one for R&B divas: tunes about heartbreak and love interspersed with inspirational songs about faith. It’s like going through the worst heartbreak and getting taken to church at the same time. On “I Got This,” Hudson knows that her troubles and worries will be taken care of by a higher power.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon </p>

Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon

Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon added to ACM lineup

'Water For Elephants' stars presenting together at April 3 country awards show

Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson have a new movie to push, “Water for Elephants,” so that’s all the reason they need to be added to the list of presenters at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

Witherspoon and Pattinson will present together on the show, which airs April 3 at 8 p.m. in CBS. Their new movie (based on Sara Gruen’s beautiful book) is about a traveling circus, which is kind of like a carnival, which is kind of like a county fair and country artists often perform at county fairs. It all makes perfect sense. Who doesn’t enjoy a good Funnel Cake, by the way. And, of course, Witherspoon won an Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in 2005’s “Walk the Line.” We thought Pattinson was off shooting the 59th "Twilight" movie, but he must be getting the night off.

There will also be plenty of country artists at the ACMs, including Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, who will perform. Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire will host.


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<p>Jennifer Hudson</p>

Jennifer Hudson

Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Green Day, Adam Lambert, The Strokes and Jennifer Hudson lead March 22 releases

Heavy release slate also brings fresh Chris Brown, Kirk Franklin and Panic!At the Disco

Spring has sprung and so has the bounty of new releases. March 22 features a wellspring of new titles including fresh sets from The Strokes, Chris Brown, Green Day and Jennifer Hudson.

Richard Ashcroft, “United Nations of Sound” (Razor & Tie): The Verve frontman’s first solo album in four years, and first since the band officially parted ways in 2009, has a little bit of everything from live orchestration to major beats, but probably no Rolling Stones samples. We kid.

Chris Brown, “F.A.M.E.” (Jive): Latest from Brown includes “Deuces,” which was originally from his mixtape with Tyga, as well as first official single, “Yeah 3X.” Justin Bieber (everybody SCREAM!) and Lil Wayne also show up.

Solomon Burke, “Hold On Tight” (Verve): 
“Hold on Tight” is the iconic R&B singer’s last album recorded prior to his October passing. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer recorded here with Dutch band De Dijk.

Kirk Frankin, “Hello Fear” (Gospo Centric): Gospel superstar’s latest is a sure thing to come in at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel chart, as have his last  nine albums. The burning question is how high can it go on the Billboard 200.

Green Day, “Awesome as Fuck” (Reprise): New live album and DVD capture the best of the trio’s 2009-2010 world tour. See review here.

Gucci Mane, “The Return of Mr. Zone 6” (Warner):
The rapper has called this album a return to “the streets,” hence the title. It features collaborations with Wale, Master P, Birdman and Waka Flocka Flame, as well as Rocko and Webbie, who appear in the video for first single, “I Don’t Love Her.”

Jennifer Hudson, “I Remember Me” (Arista):
Oscar winner and weight loser shows why she could be the next Whitney Houston (without the crazy) on her gorgeous sophomore set.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Green Day</p>

Green Day

Credit: Bruce Gilbert/AP

Album Review: Green Day's 'Awesome as F**k'

Is the live set the next best thing to being there?

If I were to write a Twitter review of Green Day’s live album/DVD “Awesome as Fuck” and keep it within the 140-character limit, it would simply read, “Go buy ‘Awesome as Fuck’ on March 22. It’s great.”

Live albums seldom work as anything other than audio scrapbooks for already existing fans, but if any concert set has the potential to convert new fans, “Awesome as Fuck” stands a darn good chance. 

From the opening salvo of “21st Century Breakdown,” the title track from the trio’s last studio album, to the closing notes of “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” (which, for better or worse, has become Green Day’s equivalent of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”: a benediction to send attendees off into the good night), “Awesome As Fuck”  will delight listeners. The band’s energy, and lead singer Billie Joe Armstong’s manic stage presence, is palpable.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Cher </p>


Exclusive: Hold your horses - Cher is not making a country album

What will the superstar's next project be?

You know that story about Cher recording a country album that’s making the rounds today? It was true, but is no longer the case.

As often happens once artists get into the studio, the direction shifts. Cher is now making a full-on dance record, according to her representative.

We contacted Cher’s spokeswoman today to see if there were more details about Cher’s country album with Nashville producer Mark Bright. Bright told the website Silk And Denim that he and Cher met each other through songwriter Desmond Child, who has written songs for Cher and who now spends much of his time in Nashville.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Eddie Vedder</p>

Eddie Vedder

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder sets release date for 'Ukulele Songs'

Solo set includes guests Glen Hansard and Cat Power

Sometimes an album title tells you everything you need to know about a project.  Such is the case with Eddie Vedder’s new set, “Ukulele Songs.”

Out May 31 on Pearl Jam’s own Monkeywrench Records, PJ’s frontman will release a collection of originals and covers performed by him on the ukulele. First single, “Longing to Belong” proves these are hardly cheesy uke tracks like “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (Although how awesome would that have been to hear?)

The covers include “Dream a Little Dream” and guests include Glen Hansard on “Sleepless Nights” and Cat Power on “Tonight You Belong To Me.”  Hear “Longing to Belong,” which is available for purchase starting March 22, here.

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: Peter Kramer/AP

Can Adele return to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200?

Who has the only album debut in the top 10?

It looks like Lupe Fiasco only temporarily stole Adele’s thunder. Her sophomore set, “21,” is set to return to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week after slipping to No. 2.

“21” will add another 100,000 or so to its four-week tally, according to Hits Daily Double.  Coming in at No. 2, and the chart’s only new title in the Top 10, will be Rise Against’s “Endgame,” which is slated to sell as much as 90,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

Fiasco’s “LASERS” is poised to fall 1-3, and drop from its first week sales of around 200,000 to 55,000. “Glee’s” fifth set slides 1 spot to No. 4, while Mumford & Son’s “Sigh No More” moves back up into the Top 5.

The rest of the Top 10, as of Friday, has Avril Lavigne’s “Goodbye Lullaby’s” falling slightly from 4-6 in its second week, Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” at No. 7, “Now 37” at No. 8 (and tied for that spot with Marsha Ambrosius’s “Late Night and Early Mornings”) and Sara Evans’ “Stronger” at No. 10.

Travis Barker barely misses a Top 10 landing as the Blink-182 drummer comes in at No. 12 with his first solo album, “Give the Drummer Some.”

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<p>Rebecca Black sings 'Friday'</p>

Rebecca Black sings 'Friday'

Music Power Rankings: How did Rebecca Black beat Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Ke$ha?

'Glee,' Lupe Fiasco and L.A. Reid

We can’t help it. We know Rebecca Black will be nothing but a footnote a few weeks from now, but this week she was definitely the girl with the most cake. If anyone ever symbolized what is going wrong in the music business these days, it’s the sweet 13-year old who did nothing more than want to follow a dream to become a singer. After a record company charges her mom $2000 to help their daughter (not the way it usually works, by the way), Black records a song called “Friday,” an innocuous, simplistic, non-memorable, mundane song that a 6-year old could probably write, a posts a video that looks like it cost $1.99 on YouTube. It takes off, many because people want to vilify it as the worst song ever. Black ends up on a talk show circuit and with 16 million page views. We all should be so bad.

1) Rebecca Black (not ranked):
  The 13-year old’s “Friday” causes an internet sensation, earning “worst song ever” designation and a staggering 16 million YouTube page views. The product of Ark Music Factory, a label that charges people (i.e. parents) $2000 to help them is probably printing money in a basement now. Let’s see which major labels get into a bidding war to sign her.

2) L.A. Reid (not ranked):
He steps down from his post as chairman of Island Def Jam to be the first officially announced judge for Simon Cowell’s U.S. version of “The X Factor.”  The Y factor we bet will be a new executive position at Sony Music.
3) Barry Weiss (not ranked):
Mere hours after Reid’s resignation, Universal Music Group names Weiss his successor, as well as gives him oversight over Universal Motown Republic Group.  What a Weiss Guy.

4) Katy Perry (not ranked): She and “E.T.” go where no artist has ever gone before by scoring four No. 1s on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart from a single album, “Teenage Dream.” No need for “E.T.” to phone home, we already have him on our iPod.

[More after the jump...]

5) Taylor Swift (not ranked): The pop/country superstar adds animated movie star to her canon. She signs up this week to voice Audrey in the 3D film of Dr. Suess’s “The Lorax,” along with Zac Efron and Danny DeVito.

6) Ke$ha (not ranked): Not only has she landed another Top 10 in her short career with the unicorn-adorned “Blow,” but she charts her first Top 10 hit on the Billboard 200 as a songwriter for someone else with Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends.”  Is this a sign of the apocalypse?

7) Lupe Fiasco (not ranked):
The rapper scores his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week as “LASERS” tops the chart with opening week sales of 204,000. That’s the second highest sales tally of the week behind Adele.

8) SXSW (No. 7): The 25th annual music fest takes over Austin. My big discovery of the week? 95% of my Facebook friends are there. I get to enjoy it from the comfort of my computer.

9) “Glee” (not ranked): The show delivers a one-two punch. After charting more than 100 cover songs on iTunes, the Fox high school musical’s first two original songs, “Loser Like Me” and “Get It Right” claim the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on iTunes. Doesn’t sound like a loser to us, it sounds more like, duh, winning.

10) Ferlin Husky (not ranked):  The country great, who died this week at 85, scored 41 Top 40 country hits from 1953 to 1975, including the classic “Wings of a Dove.” May they carry him home now.



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<p>Foo Fighters</p>

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters joins the anti-'Glee' bandwagon

Dave Grohl says don't expect to hear Foos' music on the hit show

Foo Fighters have joined their brother in arms, Slash and Kings of Leon, in vowing to not allow their music to be allowed on “Glee.”

Head Foo Dave Grohl doesn’t reveal if “Glee” has ever come calling to use a Foo Fighters’ song, but when asked about the possibility, he told the Hollywood Reporter that the answer would be, and we’re paraphrasing here, “hell to the no.”

“It’s every band’s right, you shouldn’t have to do fucking ‘Glee’,” Grohl said. He says he’s not a fan of the show, which he claims to have seen 10 minutes of, but he’s more offended by the way co-creator Ryan Murphy has seen fit to attack acts who have turned down “Glee.” 

The Hollywood Reporter didn’t ask Grohl if he felt Kings of Leon’s Nathan Followill was justified in tweeting what many construed to be anti-gay slurs toward Murphy. (Followill later apologized to anyone who “misconstrued” his comments as “homophobic or misogynistic.”)

We eagerly await Murphy’s reply.

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: AP

Kelly Clarkson's album gets delayed: Find out for how long

'American Idol' winner tweets about the set

Sometimes the artist is the last to know. Kelly Clarkson took to her Facebook page to alert fans that her new album, yeah, the one that seemed ready to go, has been delayed to the fall.

“I recently found out that my album won't be coming out until September,” she posted. “The album has been recorded but I can't release it until then. I realize that is a long time but that's the best time to release it apparently so I'm sorry for the wait but I promise you it sounds great!”

In February, the first “American Idol” winner posted that the album was completed.”I record my last song on the 25th of this month and then we will be releasing the album! This album was influenced by Prince, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, Radiohead and there's a little bit of a Country vibe/influence on a couple of songs.” Among her collaborators on the set are Darkchild, Howard Benson, Eric Hutchinson and Toby Gad.

In the meantime, Clarkson’s success on the country charts continues. Her duet with Jason Aldean, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” spends its third week at No. 1. In 2007, she and Reba McEntire took a remake of “Because of You” to No. 2.

Clarkson’s fourth album, “All I Ever Wanted,” came out in March 2009 and featured the hits, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “I Do Not Hook Up,”  and “Already Gone.”


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