Live Blogging and Post-Mortem on the Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl half-time show
Credit: AP Photo

Live Blogging and Post-Mortem on the Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl half-time show

How do you think they did?

It's half time at Super Bowl XLV. The Packers have pretty much cleaned the Steelers' clock for the first half, which means there are plenty of disgruntled Steeler fans who could use a little cheering up from the Peas about now.  I gotta feeling it might not be enough. We also hope they can remember the words, which is more than we can say about Christina Aguilera and her otherwise strong version of the National Anthem. Hey, at least we know she was singing live.  We'll be back to live blog as soon as the Peas go on in a few minutes.

5:09 p.m. (PST): It’s space-aged Peas, lowered from the roof of the stadium on a round stage in the middle of the field..  I gotta feeling they're going to bring it.

5:11: They go into  "Boom Boom Pow"  surrounded by dancerson the field in green LED outfits.  It looks fantastic from up above: like  little green martians in lockstep on the field.  We wonder how it looks from outer space? One of the best uses of the field we've seen in a half time.

[More after the jump...]

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Do we set another record low at No. 1 for the Billboard 200 next week?

Can Nicki Minaj's 'Pink Friday' finally make it to the top?

Record sales are in the dumper, but some acts continue to show impressive strength in the face of otherwise dire circumstance. For example, The Decemberists debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last week with sales of 94,000 copies for “The King is Dead.” That was an impressive 75,000 more units than the band’s previous best sales week, 2009’s “The Hazards of Love.”

It’s not as significant a leap, but Christian rock band Red will likely land its first  chart topper next week with “Until We Have Faces, with a nice increase in sales over its last set, 2009’s “Innocence and Instinct.” Red’s previous high on the Billboard 200 was No. 15. Billboard predicts “Until We Have Faces” will sell 45,000 copies.

That’s right, the run of incredibly low sales tallies at No. 1 continues in what is clearly the worst musical start to a year since the 1991 bow of Nielsen SoundScan. At least it looks like Red won't set a new record for lowest wekly sales to top the chart: After setting the record this week with 40,000 copies, Amos Lee's "Mission Bell" is safe for at least another week

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Chris Martin of Coldplay</p>

Chris Martin of Coldplay

Credit: AP

Coldplay to headline Glastonbury, Rolling Stones take a pass

Offer still out to U2

Coldplay will headline Glastonbury, the British multi-artist festival that takes place June 22-26, according to British newspaper, The Sun.

However, the Glastonbury Festival website has not confirmed Coldplay, and, furthermore, states “The Glastonbury 2011 line-up will not be revealed until Spring 2011. The event takes place at Worthy Farm. Coldplay, who allegedly will headline June 25, last played Glastonbury in 2005.

The Sun is also reporting that Glastonbury producer Michael Eavis offered the Rolling Stones a slot, but they turned him down.

Tickets for Glastonbury are already sold out. Last year’s headliners included Gorillaz, Muse and Stevie Wonder, after U2 had to drop out following Bono’s back injury. Eavis told the BBC that he has an offer out to US to headline June 24, but has not heard back.

Glastonbury will take a hiatus next summer when London hosts the Summer Olympics.

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Credit: Lionel Cironneau/AP

Music Power Rankings: EMI, Shakira, and NIcki Minaj creep around the top

Miranda Lambert and White Stripes also make the list

In a semi-surprising move this week, Citigroup took over EMI, home to the Beatles catalog, Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum, in what most observers believe is an ultimately good move for the record company. After a long period of destabilization at Guy Hands' hands, EMI is coalescing under Roger Faxon's direction and Citigroup's takeover gives the company a chance to breathe a little bit before Citigroup puts it back on the block.

1) EMI (not ranked last week):  The record label has more lives as a cat as Citigroup takes over ownership. Remember that Citigroup has been the main creditor to former owner Terra Firma, which faulted on its loan.  Citi has written off a £2.2 billion loss on the deal and will, undoubtedly, flip it as soon as possible. Or as BBC News business editor  Robert Preston said, “The takeover in 2007 of EMI by Guy Hands’ Terra Firma..will go down in British corporate history as one of the worst deals ever.” Ouch. We bet Thom Yorke is laughing his ass off.

2) Nicki Minaj (not ranked): She shows her versatility on "Saturday Night Live," not only as a performer, but in the hilarious digital short, "Do the Creep," causing "Pink Friday" to continue creeping up the charts

3) Shakira (not ranked): She becomes the third artist, following Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, to log a staggering one billion views on YouTube. And we know that those figures, just like her hips, don’t lie.

[More after the jump...]

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2011 Grammy Predictions: Best Contemporary R&B Album

Could Chris Brown actually win?

As we continue our countdown to the Feb. 13 Grammy Awards, we’re predicting a category a day. Today we look at Best Contemporary R&B album. We cannot tell you the difference between this category and the Best R&B album category and we defy you to find anyone who can with a description that makes sense. For example, R. Kelly is considered contemporary R&B, but John Legend is just regular old R&B The two categories would be much stronger if they were combined.... discuss.

Best Contemporary R&B Album

“Grafitti,” Chris Brown
“Untitled,” R Kelly
“Transition,” Ryan Leslie
“The Archandroid,” Janelle Monae
“Raymond v. Raymond,” Usher

No way, no how is the Recording Academy awarding Chris Brown a Grammy.  It’s too soon--whether that’s fair or not, that’s just the truth (Interestingly, Brown has already announced that he won't attended the Feb. 13 ceremony, even though he's up for three awards). R Kelly and Ryan Leslie don’t necessarily deserve to be here. “Untitled” is far from an exemplary Kelly album and Leslie isn’t high profile enough to win. So it comes down between Usher and Janelle Monae. “Raymond v. Raymond” is a fine album, chockfull of hits and continues a more mature path Usher has gone down since “Here I Stand.” Having said that, the runaway winner here is Monae’s “The Archandroid,” a breakthrough blend of R&B, jazz, pop, soul and rock.  The album made many  “best of 2010” lists, including mine and colleague Katie Hasty’s, for good reason: it is one of the most inventive albums of any genre to come out in several years.

Winner: “The Archandroid”

Our previous predictions:

Best Alternative Music Album

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

Best Short Form Music Video



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<p>Leighton Meester</p>

Leighton Meester

Credit: AP Photo

For Leighton Meester, 'The Roommate' is like the flu

Why the starlet made the stinker? 'God, I don't know'

“The Roommate,” starring Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly, is getting savaged by reviewers, including our own Alonso Duralde, and it turns out that Meester might not be so fond of it herself. 

Meester plays Rebecca, your garden-variety psycho, who takes over the life of her at-first unsuspecting roomie, Sara.

“I really felt zero in common with [Rebecca] and you have to somehow rationalize their decisions,” Meester recently told HitFix during a press roundtable for “Country Strong.”

“None of [Rebecca’s] decisions are based on some rational view of anything. Everything she does is from having a mental disorder and not being able to become right again. She justifies everything with ‘You don’t love me’ or “Love me. Love me.’ She’s just off the deep end.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p> (OK, and Fergie, too)</p> (OK, and Fergie, too)

Credit: AP Photo

Hitfix Interview: talks Black Eyed Peas at the Super Bowl

How many outfits can he wear in 12 minutes?

Sunday (Feb. 6) will mark the Black Eyed Peas’ second appearance at the Super Bowl. Don’t worry if you don’t remember the first time. It was for a small audience.

“Last year when The Who played, the Dolphins owner gave us a VIP booth,” recalls. “Right before the Who went on for halftime, they played ‘I Gotta Feeling.’ We jumped outside [our suite] and we were jumping up and down. The whole section turned around.”

When they take the stage Sunday at Arlington, Texas’s Cowboy Stadium, the Peas will have considerably more people watching: Like 100 million more. And they are ready. While much of the 12-minute performance remains a secret, promises it will be interactive, possibly involving the field, not just the stage. He also says he’s trying to fit in eight costume changes, and he’s not kidding. On Thursday, the AP reported that the Black Eyed Peas would be joined by Slash and Usher during their performance.

Even before the group’s impromptu appearance last year, they have been preparing for this moment for a long time. In an interview I did with that first appeared in Variety in January, he noted that the Peas have played two season kick-off concerts and a number of Super Bowl pre-shows, all in a bid to get to the big game.

“We’ve been working our way up to play the Super Bowl. We worked hard,” he says.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Josh Ritter</p>

Josh Ritter

Sundance Interview: Josh Ritter on songs, new novel, 'blood and guts'

Why does the singer/songwriter hate protest songs?

PARK CITY—Josh Ritter has been named one of the “100  Greatest Living Songwriters”  by Paste Magazine for good reason. As he showed here in his two packed shows at the ASCAP Cafe, his songwriting is literate and beautifully detailed, and often wrapped in shimmering melodies. He put it best himself when he told The New York Times, “I play rock ‘n’ roll with lots of words.”  If Bob Dylan, John Prine and Paul Simon had a collective son, he’d sound like Ritter. We spent a few minutes with Ritter after his second performance at Sundance and talked about his disdain for preachy songs, his first novel, and bruised hearts. His song “Change of Time” can also be heard in the trailer for Natalie Portman’s new movie, “The Other Woman.”

This is your second time performing at Sundance. What do you get out of it?

Oh, it’s amazing. For me, any show that’s a little different than normal is always good. I love performing, i love touring and it’s just really great, but when you get a chance to come and see how the other half, the movie community, lives, it puts your own life and what you’re doing in perspective. I love it because it’s out of the ordinary.

You’re playing solo here instead of with your full band. How is that different for you?

You have an enormous amount of freedom. If something’s not going a certain way, you just change it. You don’t have to explain to the drummer later. My band, they cover up most of my mistakes. Most of the time, anything that happens on stage, whether it’s acting or playing music, it’s kind of a metaphor for the rest of my life. You go up on stage to remind yourself that it’s normal to mess up and it’s normal for things to go bad and to go from bad to worse and it’s all about how you handle it. And that is something that certainly shows up more when you’re playing solo. When you fall down, no one is there to pick you up.

One of  your songs, “Change of Time” was used in “Parenthood” and in the trailer for Natalie Portman’s new film, “The Other Woman.”  What do placements mean to you in terms of financial security and exposure.

My personal feeling on this stuff is we follow our heroes  and we look up to them for the choices they make. I’ve always appreciated the high degree of artistic integrity, but I believe that those sorts of perimeters change over time. It’s impossible to sell a million records now unless you’re one of a very few people and, for someone like me, the chance to write more songs is kind of paramount and if [the placement] can introduce people to my music and it can help me pay the bills and bring my band on the road, all that stuff is fantastic. There is stuff I wouldn’t authorize my music to play for, but those decisions are made at the time and it’s always a pleasure when somebody finds a spot for something that is in part of their vision.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lady Gaga's &quot;Bad Romance&quot;</p>

Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"

2011 Grammy Predictions: Best Short Form Music Video

Can Johnny Cash beat Eminem or Lady Gaga?

As we continue our countdown to the Feb. 13 Grammy Awards, we’re predicting the winner in a category a day. Today we look at Best Short Form Music Video, which includes one of the more interesting video projects we’ve seen in recent years that deserves more attention than it initially received.

Best Short Form Music Video

“Ain’t No Grave/The Johnny Cash Project” (Johnny Cash)
“Love The Way You Lie (Explicit Version),” Eminem & Rihanna
“Stylo,” Gorillaz, Mos Def & Bobby Womack
“F*** You,” Cee Lo Green
“Bad Romance,” Lady Gaga

If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check out the “Ain’t No Grave” video and backstory here.  It’s video as social experiment. Fans/artists manipulated pre-selected images to create their own frames that then were edited into the black & white video. It speaks to the power of music as a singular and collective experience and is very moving.  It goes so far beyond video as promotion, although it is that as well, that it deserves its own category. Having said that, unless Grammy voters have really spent time with it, it will likely be completely dismissed in favor of the other four more traditional form videos here. As colorful and fun as it is, “F*** You” breaks no new ground. We would have replaced it with Katy Perry's cotton-candy-colored "California Gurls" video here. “Stylo” is fantastic, but kind of “more-of-the-same” from our favorite animated reprobates. That leaves “Love the Way You Lie” and “Bad Romance.”  Eminem’s video has the sexy stars and controversial content, but Lady Gaga’s pod people video is a work of art that remains fascinating and worth dissecting all these months since its release.  The last scene still gets us. It’s like something out of the Faulkner short story “A Rose for Emily” via John Waters.

Winner: “Bad Romance”

Our previous predictions:

Best Alternative Music Album

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

Best Female Country Vocal Performance


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<p>Britney Spears &quot;Femme Fatale&quot;</p>

Britney Spears "Femme Fatale"

Credit: Jive

Britney Spears reveals 'Fatale'-istic title of new album

New set is 'a tribute to fun, flirty women'

Britney Spears goes from “Circus” performer to “Femme Fatale.” Her new album, out allegedly March 15, is called “Femme Fatale” because, according to  her label, Jive Records, the set is “a tribute to bold, empowered, confident, elusive, fun, flirty women and men.” Doesn’t that sound more like a perfume?

Anyway, Max Martin and Dr. Luke executive produced the album and their paw prints are all over first single, “Hold It Against Me,” which shot straight to the top of the Billboard 100 the week of release.

Jive isn’t admitting that March 15 is the release date, despite the fact that it leaked out in an internal memo last week, but these things are always subject to change, so keep tuned to Hitfix for updates.


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