<p>Britney Spears</p>

Britney Spears

Listen: Britney Spears' new single, 'Hold It Against Me' drops early

Review: Is her resurrection complete?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: “Hold It Against Me,” the new single from Britney Spears, is a solid smash that we predict will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The tune, the first single from her March album, is a fuzzy dance slab full of electronic beats, spoken word, shifts in feel, and, oh yeah, some breathy, monotone (and autotuned) vocals by Spears.

The lyrics, not that they really matter, are about seeing someone across the club, lovingly referred to as  “Hey over there” (and who wouldn’t respond to that?), and being so drawn to them that you want to break away with them, maybe to the unisex bathroom for a quickie, maybe for a lifetime or until divorce do us part. It's a fun fantasy.

But this song, which debuted today on Ryan Seacrest's KIIS morning show, is all about the production by Dr. Luke and Max Martin (and the way Brit Brit makes “hazy” a three-syllable word) and on that account, it’s a win, if a qualified one.

[Song and more after the jump...]

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<p>Cage the Elephant</p>

Cage the Elephant

Album Review: Cage the Elephant's 'Thank You Happy Birthday'

Should you open the cage and let it out?

“Thank You Happy Birthday” opens with a howl of discontent as lead singer Matt Shultz puts us on warning that all is not right in his world. In fuzzy first track, “Always Something,” lovers cheat, friends lie and trouble waits right around the corner, ready to attack unsuspecting passersby.

“TYHB” is Cage The Elephant’s successor to its self-titled  first album,which contained three alternative chart smashes: “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” “Back Against the Wall” and “In One Ear.” The new set builds on the strengths displayed on the group’s bow and expands their musical palette in a nice show of growth.

A sense of ominous dread pervades much of the Bowling Green, Ky.’s group’s second album, not only because of the lyrical content but also because of the sonic landscape created by Lincoln Parish’s Dick Dale-type guitar licks,  Jared Champion’s precise, often military-style drumming and Schultz’s anguished delivery. 

The opening salvo of pain has abated somewhat by the fourth song—first single and alternative hit “Shake Me Down”; the sun has come out again, albeit briefly. From there, the album morphs into a number of different styles. Musically, the album is all over the place, from aggro rock of “Indy Kidz”  to the slacker roll of “Aberdeen” and shimmery, country leanings of album closer “Shiver.” In lesser hands, that would just seem like a lack of focus, and maybe it is, but CTE handles all the styles represented here with admirable command. So many acts making pop music stick to a formula or don’t play outside of the lines too much; CTE feels no such strictures.

The Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo vets channel Cake on more than on occasion, but no more so than on tracks like “Always Something,” when Schultz breaks into a John McCrea-like monotoned spoken vocal.  But there’s more going on here than that. For all the aggression of some of the tracks, CTE has a solid pop, melodic sensibility that is downright Weezer-like on the delightfully power poppy “Right Before My Eyes.” and very homey on the largely acoustic “Shiver.”

There’s an appealing lack of polish and rawness to much of the set that serves the band well, although it could have pulled back on the distortion on the White Stripe-ish, loosey-goosey “Sabertooth Tiger.”  But all in all, it looks like Cage the Elephant has largely avoided sophomore slump.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

What dubious record could Taylor Swift set on this week's Billboard 200?

It's still Christmas for Lady Antebellum

Taylor Swift is no stranger to setting records, but she may set one this week that she’s surely like to forego: she’s on track to land a No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the lowest weekly sales tally since the 1991 advent of SoundScan.

As post-holiday sales taper off and we wait for the first true blockbuster release of 2011, we’re left with the remains of the top 2010 sellers as they continue to sell bits and bobs. Swift’s  “Speak Now” will likely sell between 55,000-60,000, according to Hits Daily Double. If it sells less than 60,000, it will have the dubious distinction surpassing the “Dreamgirls” soundtrack for selling so little and still landing at No. 1. “Dreamgirls” set that low watermark the week ending 1/14/07.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Snoop Dogg</p>

Snoop Dogg

Watch: Snoop Dogg's NSFW video 'Wet' for Prince William's bachelor party

We bet the Royals are not amused

Just in case Enrique Iglesias’s video for “I’m Fucking You Tonight” wasn’t enough to get you going, here’s another NSFW clip featuring lots of scantily -clad ladies who just can’t get enough of a rock star. In this case, it’s Snoop Dogg who’s getting all the sexed-up loving in his clip for “Wet.” As you know, Snoop, being the big Royal lover that he is, has offered his services to Prince William in planning the king-to-be’s bachelor party prior to his marriage to Kate Middleton. He’s a giver, that Snoop.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Britney's back.</p>

Britney's back.

UPDATE: We reveal what time you can hear Britney's new single, 'Hold It Against Me' single

Plus, why should you know who Bonnie McKee is

There were hints before the new year that we’d get a sneak peak of  Britney Spears’ new song, “Hold It Against Me,” on Friday (7), but it sounds like we’ll have to wait until Tuesday (Jan. 11), although we can pass the time staring at the single cover, as well as listening to a demo of the song sung by Bonnie McKee. The cover is surprisingly innocent, a close-cropped photo of Spears’ face, given the sexy song.

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Watch: Lady Gaga goes traditional in surprise New York appearance

Dressed in her finest bondage gear, she croons 'Someone to Watch Over Me'

We hardly expect conventional behavior from Lady Gaga, so it’s no surprise that even when she shows up at a place as staid and traditional at the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room in New York , she still brings a basic hooker get-up of thigh highs, exposed garter belt and dress with cut outs.

But she was all business when it came to singing. In the clip below, she sings the great Gershwin standard, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Somehow, we doubt it will show up on her new album, “Born This Way,” but we wonder if an album of tunes from the Great American Songbook can be far behind?

Fair warning: the video only has splashes of Lady Gaga in it, but you can hear her very well.

 

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<p>The cover to &quot;Watch the Throne.&quot;</p>

The cover to "Watch the Throne."

Kanye West reveals cover for 'Watch the Throne' single with Jay-Z

First track, "H.A.M." comes out Jan. 11

When Kanye West and Jay-Z  offhandedly announced on New Year’s Eve that “Watch The Throne,” their joint album would come out next week,  the fact that they were both drinking huge bottles of champagne at the time cast doubt on whether that was the alcohol talking, but now we have proof that 1-11-11 is the day for the release of the first single from the project.

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Watch: Foo Fighters are a drag in new clip -- Watch out Beyonce

Watch: Foo Fighters are a drag in new clip -- Watch out Beyonce

Plus, listen to their sweet tribute to Gerry Rafferty

There are lots of reasons to like Foo Fighters, but perhaps even more than their music is the fact that they never take themselves too seriously.  And here they go proving it again.

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Watch: Iron & Wine performs new album in its entirety

Watch: Iron & Wine performs new album in its entirety

Sam Beam and band shine during WNYC gig

Iron & Wine gave fans a sneak peak of their entire new album, "Kiss Each Other Clean," Wednesday night (Jan. 5) by performing the new set from start to finish for WNYC's NPR Music's First Listen series. You can watch the whole thing here.

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Katy Perry trades up on the Billboard Hot 100, plus chart moves by Paramore and Vampire Weekend

Who else rings in the new year with good news?

Katy Perry is having a great week. Not only did her track, “California Gurls” featuring Snoop Dogg emerge as the top single seller in 2010 (after Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” has grabbed the crown based on early-December reports), but “Firework,” the third 10 top from her Grammy-nominated “Teenage Dream” explodes back into the top spot on the Hot 100.

This marks the fourth non-consecutive week at No. 1 for the track, as it bumps Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” out of the top spot. “Grenade” slips to No. 1.

[More after the jump...]

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