<p>Aaron Johnson discusses playing John Lennon in &quot;Nowhere Boy.&quot;</p>

Aaron Johnson discusses playing John Lennon in "Nowhere Boy."

Watch: Aaron Johnson talks about becoming John Lennon in 'Nowhere Boy'

Does he have any aspirations to become a musician himself?

Oct. 9 marks what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. There are a number of tributes and reissues planned, but perhaps the most insightful is “Nowhere Boy,” a British film that examines two extremely pivotal years in the future Beatle’s life.

In the movie, helmed by first-time director Sam Taylor-Wood, we see Lennon from the ages of 15 to 17. At the start of the film, he is living in Liverpool with his aunt, Mimi, and uncle, George, who have raised him since the age of 5. A tragic event reunites him with his mother, Julia. She is the exact opposite of her sister, the strict, stoic Julia.  She is a flighty dreamer who teaches a young Lennon how to play banjo, which leads him to guitar, which leads him to start the Quarryman, which leads him to Paul McCartney. You get the idea.

Aaron Johnson, best known stateside for his role in “Kick-Ass,” does a remarkable job as a young Lennon. He nails his accent and mannerisms, but artfully dodges the line between portrayal and imitation.  The movie is a must-see for Beatles fans.  

Check out my interview with Johnson, Taylor-Wood and a clip from the film embedded below.

"Nowhere Boy" is now playing in limited release.

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<p>Lee DeWyze</p>

Lee DeWyze

Credit: FOX

'American Idol' winner Lee DeWyze sets name, release date for his new album

First single premieres on Oct. 13

American Idol” season 9 winner Lee DeWyze will release his 19/RCA debut, “Live It Up,” on Nov. 16.

First single, the title track, will debut on “On Air with Ryan Seacrest on Oct. 13.

DeWyze worked with such writers/ producers as John Shanks, Toby Gad and Espionage on the set, much of which he co-wrote while on the road during this summer’s “American Idol” tour.

Putting out an album on a major label is truly a dream come true,” said 24-year-old DeWyze, in a statement. “I’m excited for all the people who supported me throughout Idol to hear what I can do with my own songs. The album shows a whole different side of me and I’m so proud of it.”

DeWyze has previously labeled his brand of music “chill rock,” based, in part, on his influences. “I grew up listening to Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & the Papas, Cat Stevens, and Kris Kristofferson,” DeWyze says. “I love hard-edged vocals over pretty melodies — that’s what I’m about. I really admire guys like Dave Matthews and Ray LaMontagne, and to now be on the same record label as them — it just blows my mind.”

Hitfix is getting a sneak listen to DeWyze’s album on Friday, so we’ll post what we think.

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Lady Gaga comes in at No. 7 on Forbes' Most Powerful Women list

Where do Beyonce and Madonna come in?

In case we needed any further proof that it’s Lady Gaga’s world and we just live in it, the singer just landed at No. 7 on Forbes’ list of the 2010 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. We’re sure Michele Obama and Hilary Clinton -- both of whom somehow, miraculously, came in ahead of Lady Gaga -- are breathing a sigh of relief. Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin, who come in behind LG, not so much. Beyonce also makes the Top 10, skirting in at No. 9.

Madonna, who comes in at No. 29, is the only other music artist on the list. The overall list was compiled by slotting women into particular categories, such as politics, business, media and the odd designation of “lifestyle,” into which Lady Gaga falls. The lists were then merged to come up with a master list.

Lady Gaga is also, at 24, the youngest woman on the list. To see a complete list, click here.

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<p>Bruno Mars sees you</p>

Bruno Mars sees you

Credit: AP Photo

Bruno Mars makes it three in a row on the Hot 100

Will Far*East Movement move him out of the top spot?

Bruno Mars makes it three in a row as “Just the Way You Are” stays atop the Billboard Hot 100 for another week.  His debut album, “Doo Wops & Hooligans,” streeted on Tuesday and is poised to come in around No. 3.

Gaining fast on Mars is Far*East Movement’s “Like a G6,” which flies 6-2. The song knocks “Just the Way You Are” out of the top spot on the Hot Digital Songs chart and increased radio play earns it the Airplay Gainer tag.

As we already wrote here, in many ways this week’s chart belongs to “Glee.”  This is the week in music history when the “Glee” cast earns the dubious distinction of surpassing the Beatles for the non-solo act with the most songs on the Hot 100. “Glee” has six songs on this week’s chart, ratcheting its overall tally up to 75, which tops the Beatles’ 71.

Also benefiting from “Glee” is Paramore, whose song “The Only Exception” was performed on the Sept. 28 episode. The “Glee” version debuts at No. 26 on the Hot 100, while the original leaps 57-25 on the Digital Songs chart.

Were it not for “Glee’s” six debuts on the Hot 100, Lil Wayne would be the leader this week as four tunes from “I Am Not a Human Being” bow this week. None can match the No. 2 bow for the album on the Billboard 200, but the unappetizingly-titled “Gonorrhea” hits No. 17 on the Hot 100.  A round of applause to Lil Wayne and a dose of penicillin.

It’s way to early to call it any kind of comeback for alternative rock-- which is generally missing from the upper reaches of the Hot 100 lately--but Neon Tree’s “Animal” hits No. 20 on Hot 100. According to Billboard, this makes it the first song to do so since Linkin Park’s “New Divide” in June 2009.

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Credit: FOX

'Glee' cast surpasses the Beatles for most songs on the Billboard Hot 100

Guess who they're gunning for next

This week, the cast of “Glee” surpasses the Beatles for the most songs on Billboard Hot 100 by a non-solo act. Let’s let that take a minute to sink in. “Glee,” which is a TV show with fictional characters, has just topped the Fab Four, the most exalted act in pop music history.

The “Glee” cast debuts six new songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 that comes out Thursday (the chart date is 10/16, for chart watchers) giving the cast a total of 75 entries on the Hot 100. That tops the Beatles’ 71. Not only does “Glee” move ahead (and will continue to move ahead decisively), it only took “Glee” about 16 months or so what it took the Beatles 32 years to accomplish.

Of course, “Glee’s” format is structured so that multiple songs are available  on iTunes immediately following an episode and the digital sales are what drive the songs up the chart, so it’s a little like comparing tennis players who played with wood rackets  to ones who play with graphite. The mechanisms to deliver and purchase music have changed drastically as to make such comparisons not really valid. That’s not to take anything away from the phenomenon of “Glee,” of course.

“Glee” owes a big shout out to Britney Spears because five of the six songs that bow on this week’s chart--and enable “Glee” to topple the Beatles-- are Spears’ remakes, following the Britney-themed Sept. 28 episode. The other charting tune?  a cover of Paramore’s “The Only Exception.”

Still ahead of “Glee” are Elvis Presley, the all-time leader with 108 charted tunes, and James Brown with 91.

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<p>Pink's &quot;Raise Your Glass&quot;</p>

Pink's "Raise Your Glass"

Listen: Pink's new single 'Raise Your Glass'

What song does it remind you of?

Why does everything sound like me to Katy Perry these days?  Pink’s new “Raise Your Glass,” one of two new cuts on her forthcoming greatest hits, echoes the bouncy chorus of “California Gurls.”

With impossibly stupid lyrics like “What’s the dealio” and Don’t be fancy/Just get dancy” and “Don’t be fizzy/just get dizzy” and “If you’re too school for cool” (no, we didn’t mistype that), “Raise Your Glass”  may feature some of the worst lyrics we’ve ever heard... and we know that’s saying a lot.

Guess what. We don’t care.

All my criticisms aside, it’s nearly impossible to hear the song and not want to pogo around your apartment, dorm room or office. So we’re forgetting about the verses (which is scary easy, as it turns out) and just focusing on the chorus...and trying to figure out how to type as we dance and raise our glass.

Produced by long-time Pink collaborator Max Martin and co-written by Pink (I’m not so sure I’d be proud of that),  the song stands in the Party Pink vein of such songs as “Get the Party Started” and “So What” as opposed to her more serious side, exhibited in such songs as “Sober” or “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” Move over Ke$ha. Your 15 minutes are up. Pink is back to grab the tacky title.

Listen for yourself here, you dirty little freaks (Pink's words, not ours)  and let us know what you think. Other than wishing it were Friday already and you were somewhere dancing to this.


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<p>KT Tunstall</p>

KT Tunstall

Credit: EMI

Interview: KT Tunstall talks about her new album 'Tiger Suit'

... And why we'll never see her writhing around like a 'She Wolf'

Some people ask WWJD--What Would Jesus Do-- as a guide to their actions. KT Tunstall has WWPSD and WWCHD? That would be What Would Patti Smith Do and What Would Chrissie Hynde Do?

The rock legends represent her tent poles as to how the Scottish singer/songwriter wants to guide her own career. And it’s serving her just fine so far,TYVM (thank you very much).

Tunstall’s  third album, “Tiger Suit,” come out on Virgin Records today and it’s a Tigger-sized bounce forward for the artist. She combines her largely acoustic instrumentation with dance and electronic textures for a sound she calls “nature techno.” Works for us. Read our review here.

The mainly upbeat album is fronted by first single, “Fade Like a Shadow,” a bouncy uplifting track about a sad subject matter---moving on from a love. It is easily as catchy as her previous hits “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See.”

The album title comes from a recurring dream that Tunstall had as a child where she would go outside and fearlessly play with a tiger in her yard. She realized that maybe she was a tiger too. Putting on her “Tiger Suit,” now, as Tunstall puts it, is “about the cojones” to do what you believe.  It also described the “metaphorical suit” she puts on stage.

As she grew more successful--her debut album, “Eye to the Telescope,” sold 1.3 million in the U.S.-- Tunstall realized she was wearing the suit all the time, even when she needed to be vulnerable, such as when she was writing. “My psychologist friend calls it ‘zippering up your aura.’ It means you’re not letting anyone damage you, but you’re also not letting too much of yourself let go,” even when you need too. Now, she’s learned to take off her aura and tiger suit and strip herself bare when she’s writing. “That’s done at home with a cardigan with a shot of whiskey,” she says. “I go way Hemingway when I write.”

For “Tiger Suit,” she unzipped herself and wrote songs that had her “fired up,” when it came time to get back into the studio. She also paired with such writers as Linda Perry, best known for her work with Christina Aguilera and Pink, and Greg Kurstin, who was Grammy nominated for his work with Lily Allen. She also worked with past collaborators Martin Terefe and Jimmy Hogarth. “Most of the singles you’ve had in the U.S. are all songs I’ve written on my own,” she says. “I’m very proud of that, but at the same time, I’ve realized the richness of writing with someone else. It really takes you to places you’d never go on your own.”

One place Tunstall will never go--on her own or with others-- is to prance around scantily clad like many other female artists. in fact, Tunstall recently found herself embroiled in a mini-scandal when she told Britain’s Daily Record that Shakira’s explicit, sexual video for “She Wolf,” “shocked me and I am not easily shocked...It is shocking, but it seems they need to shock to get attention.”

She plays down the riff a few months later, as she talks to Hitfix. She says she’s never been pushed by her label to sex up her image like it seems so many current female artists are.  “I think they know better than to bother trying,” she says. “They knew what they were getting when they signed me. I was 27 when I was signed. I was less malleable.”
Tunstall followed up “Eye of the Telescope” with 2007’s “Drastic Fantastic,” which failed so capture as large an audience. But Tunstall doesn’t measure her success by album sales. In a statement sure to make her label blanch, she says, “If I never sold another record, but could still play gigs, I’d be happy.”

She goes one step further: “If someone said to me you can make music and record music for as long as you want, but never be able to play music for people again, I don’t know if I’d do it...A song isn’t finished for me until I share it.”


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<p>Brandon Flowers</p>

Brandon Flowers

Watch: Brandon Flowers' new video for 'Only the Young'

Killers' lead singer surrounds himself with spectral images and fire

We’re not so crazy about the song, but we love Brandon Flowers’ new video for “Only the Young" from his solo album, "Flamingo."

The clip features The Killers’ Flowers in a tuxedo as he gets transported from scene to scene. At one moment, he’s in a ring of fire, next he seems to have stepped into a ghostly Cirque du Soleil production. He often looks very afraid, rightfully so. (Ah, we see at the production credits at the end that the Sophie Mueller-directed video was filmed at Le Reve at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Very fitting for this Vegas-based boy.)

Other times, he’s in the middle of a kaleidoscope or about to be transported off into a parallel universe where lead singers of successful bands determined to also have solo careers get whisked away to live happily with each other and play Mick Jagger’s " Wandering Spirit" over and over.

It's a gorgeous, sumptuous clip that feels dreamy in all the right ways.


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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Justin Bieber likely to host revitalized 'Punk'd' on MTV

No, we're not pulling a prank on you

Justin Bieber will soon become even more of a fixture on MTV as a deal to revitalize “Punk’d,” with the Bieb as host, is in its final stages.

“Punk’d,” as you may recall, is the brainchild of Ashton Kutcher and his partner Jason Goldberg, and it featured celebrities getting pranked all captured on film... sort of like a modern day “Candid Camera.” The original went off the air in 2008 after running four years.

The new show, according to Deadline.com which broke the news, has been in discussions with Bieber as host since this summer, with a probable launch next year.

We contacted MTV, who issued a “no comment,” which, as you know, is not a denial, In  fact, from what we understand from our sources, in this case, it's pretty close to a confirmation that this is happening.

Is it a good move for the Bieb?  Why not?  His fans will love his puckish little sense of humor and we bet all the pranks are G-rated and fairly good spirited. We living in the days where such a show does nothing to hurt his music career and everything to boost his Q rating. More as it develops.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP

Listen: Taylor Swift speaks up on 'Speak Now'

What do you think of the title track to her new album?

Take Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” and age everyone 10 years or so and you’re got “Speak Now.”  Thematically, that is.

“Speak Now,” the title track to Swift’s Oct. 25 album, debuted on iTunes today, as one song from the album will for the next three weeks. Hear it here.

“Speak Now,” like “You Belong With Me,” carries on the story of a girl who knows the boy of her dreams should be with her instead of the shrew he’s chosen. But this time, instead of her boy squiring  the other girl to a school dance or Halloween carnival, he’s meeting her at the end of a church aisle.

Taking a page from the ending of “The Graduate,” Swift interrupts the nuptials, although it may all be a fantasy. 

Musically, the song is a departure for Swift’s other singles, in that it features a stripped down production through the first verse with the focus on her voice, which sounds pretty good here (and returns to the guitar accompaniment throughout the song). There’s nothing remotely country about the mid-tempo track, although we have a feeling country radio will eat it up. Swift wrote all the songs on “Speak Now” by herself, unlike on her previous two albums. The tune shows she clearly needs no help with lyrics, but she musically she could use some help diversifying. Her songs tend to stay in the same mid-tempo pocket with each striking a similar sound.

We also see a not-so- sweet side of America’s sweetheart when she sings, “I sneak in and see your friends and her snotty little family all dressed in pastel and she is yelling at a bridesmaid somewhere back inside a room in a gown shaped like a pastry.” OK, regardless of what you think about Tay Tay, that’s a pretty good line. We can't wait to see her claws come out more.

We can’t quite figure out if she’s starting to work a bit of a stalker streak into her songs, but she’s beginning to sound a little bit like the girl who lives in her own fantasy world with lots of cats and stuffed animals, each of which she calls by name. We’re sure the video will explain it all.

As we've reported before, each song on "Speak Now" is about an event in Swift's life. Swift tells Glamour, "Everything that happens to me gets put into a song," Swift explained. "For some reason, I'm really comfortable talking about my personal life in songs. There, I don't hold back: names, dates, times, expressions on people's faces, exactly where we were and how it felt, what I wish I would have said to them in the moment."


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