Bilboard 200 Chart Preview: Which album finally sells more than 100K to land at No. 1?

Bilboard 200 Chart Preview: Which album finally sells more than 100K to land at No. 1?

Pink, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj hang steady

Well here’s something we’re seeing for the first time in 2011: an album that sells six figures in the top spot of the Billboard 200.  Yes, that’s how pathetic the year has been.

“Now That’s What I Call Music 37” is a rehash of hits from the fourth quarter that people can easily download, but enough folks still yearn for their physical CDs that the title will easily come in at No. 1 with sales of up to 125,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

After that, things start to look pretty grim again. “Now” is the only new title to debut in the top 10 (The next bow is likely to be country duo Thompson Square’s first set at No. 15). The remaining spaces in the Top 10 are filled with sets that have been out since 2010, other than the “2011 Grammy Nominees” compilation (which, like Now!” contains songs already readily available).

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Miranda Lambert</p>

Miranda Lambert

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Live Blogging the 2011 Grammy Awards

Who's the big winner? Eminem, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum or none of the above?

7:55 EST: It's almost Grammy time and there are so many questions to be answered: has Rihanna recovered enough from the flu to perform? Why did Lady Gaga arrive in a pod (shades of "Spinal Tap")?  Will Madonna join LG to sing "Born This Way" or just serve her with papers for ripping off "Express Yourself." How many Grammys will Enimem, who leads all nominees with 10, take home? We can already surmise that Arcade Fire's "The Surburbs,"  a tremendous long shot for album of the year, is now a non-contender since it lost in the best alternative album category to the Black Keys' "Brothers."  If you're keeping count from the 99 awards already handed out, both Lady Gaga and Lady Antebellum have snared two each. Hands down the performance I'm most excited about is "F*** You" by Cee Lo featuring the Muppets (with the Aretha Franklin tribute a close second, then Eminem and Dr. Dre). I have a Diet Mountain Dew--the unofficial sponsor of The Beat Goes On blog---by my side, let's go!

8:00 p.m.: Here we go! The show is starting with the tribute to Aretha Franklin. We get to see if Christina Aguilera can redeem herself from last week's Super Bowl debacle.  Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Aguilera, Yolanda Adams and Florence Welch are warbling through "You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman)." Welch is great, but her voice is so different from the rest it's a little jarring. Oh, there goes Aguilera over singing again on "Ain't No Way."  Glasses in my apartment just broke as she hit a high note. Why when Jennifer Hudson over sings it doesn't bother me, but when Aguilera does I want to poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick? And I LIKE Aguilera. Oh, Martina, you look like the whitest girl on the planet trying to dance as Yolanda Adams tears up "Spirit in the Dark." I'm so with you my awkward-dancing sister. I feel your pain. They're now singing "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves." I've never missed Annie Lennox more. As far as Grammy openers go, that was one of the less memorable. But wait, here's Aretha on tape looking incredibly thin. This is very odd. It's like she's attending her own funeral. Is this creepy to anyone else besides me?

8:20 p.m.: The first award is for pop duo or group. If the cast of "Glee" wins, I'm shutting off my TV. They aren't real, people!!! But are they any better than Train's weak-ass "Hey Soul Sister?"  Oops...the live version of "Hey Soul Sister" just won. It is inconceivable to me that the same group that wrote "Calling All Angels" and "Drops Of Jupiter"  wrote "Hey Soul Sister." Pat Monahan: what is with your hair? It looks like Cameron Diaz's in a certain scene from "There's Something About Mary." 

8:23 p.m.  Lady Gaga is performing "Born This Way," emerging from the cocoon in which she arrived to the Grammys.  Ah... I get it... she's being born!  It's not enough that the song is a total rip-off of "Express Yourself," she's even wearing a high ponytail like Madonna circa 1990 or so. She's joined by a number of dancers in nude-colored gowns. Now they're voguing. Now she's going all Phantom of the Opera on an organ for a very weird break.  She's clutching her nipple-like hat (is that for protecting her fontanelle?) to her breast. Did she just have a wardrobe malfunction... no. To be fair,  Lady Gaga would probably have to perform while she's being shot out of a birth canal now to impress me, but this performance seems kind of tame by LG standards.

8:33 p.m. I'm sorry. I'm still recovering from "Walk on the Wild Side" being used in an HP commercial that just aired. WTF, Lou? Here's Blake Shelton, who's introducing his fiance Miranda Lambert who's singing song-of-the-year nominee "The House That Build Me." As readers of this blog know, I so heart this song but there's something off with this performance. It feels too slowed down. Even though she explained at the start that the performance is for everyone who's stood on that stage before her, it feels a little odd to see photos of Sting behind her. She started weak--maybe out of nerves--but she's finishing strong.

8:38 p.m.: Can anyone explain to me what Lenny Kravitz was wearing?  It looks like a lot of dead stuff. Kate Hudson's baby daddy, aka Matthew Bellamy, and his band Muse are running through "Uprising," which is the best performance of the night so far and a really, really cool set that is changing as they sing...Not so sure about the men in black  leading their own rebellion that run out on stage periodically. Totally extraneous and distracting. I got the point with the crumbling bank and changing set without the misfits from "Les Miserables" waving flags, etc. Maybe it's supposed to be a salute to Egypt.

8:49 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest just introduced Bruno Mars, B.o.B and Janelle Monae. I have high hopes.  Mars opens with B.O.B.'s "Nothing On You." I don't know why I feel guilty about this, but I tend to like the parts the guests sing on B.o.B's songs, whether it's Mars, Hayley Williams or Rivers Cuomo, than B.o.B's part.  Now Mars has taken us back to the '50s for a super-soulful, horn-laden version of "Grenade" complete with James Brown-type knee drops. SO MUCH better than the original song.  It's way too soon to tell what's going to happen with Mars, but he seems like the real deal.

8:56 p.m.: Monae is tearing up "Cold War"--I wish she were singing "Tightrope," but I'm just happy to see her on stage. Mars is on drums (there's apparently nothing he can't do). Monae even stage dived. They get the night's first standing ovation. Loved everything about both Mars' and Monae's performances.

8:58: p.m: I guess for Zac Brown, who's presenting with Dierks Bentley, wearing a black knit hat qualifies as formal wear. Why do the country acts always have to be the ones to thank the troops? Do they have the exclusive on supporting the troops? We're up to best country female vocal. What the hell is Gretchen Wilson doing in here with a song that didn't even get any radio play? I don't have to get all excised about it since she just lost to Miranda Lambert for "The House That Built Me," her first Grammy and the first for the Lambert/Shelton household. We're through the first hour. Number of awards handed out: 2. Number of memorable performances: 2.

9:04 p.m: And the award for the best commercial break goes to the set at the top of the 9 p.m. hour with the McDonald's papa and baby bear (was that on the Super Bowl and I missed it?) and the already iconic VW/Darth Vader spot.

9:05 p.m.: Eva Longoria is introducing Justin Bieber. Holy cow. They're playing a snippet from his 3D movie, "Never Say Never." That's like a totally free commercial. Now we're back to real life and it's a tender moment between Usher and the Bieb. I'm supposed to find this touching? I find it a little nauseating. But while we're into shameless plugging, here's the link to my review of the Bieber movie.  Are these Ninja drummers coming in for Bieber's performance? The drums are bigger than him. Oh my. Bieber is in black leather. Who does he think he is? Elvis Presley circa the '68 comeback special? I don't mind Bieber, but this is a really flat performance and Jaden Smith adds nothing. Will and Jada Smith are grooving to it in the audience.They won't be smiling so much when their kids are in therapy wondering where their childhood went. Usher just took it up a notch with "OMG." Is Bieber hiding in someone's pocket? Oh, there he is. Usher's dancing rings around him... literally and figuratively.

9:14 p.m. "NCIS's" Pauley Perette and Paramore just presented best rock album to Muse. I had to look away because Perette's dress was so short I was afraid she was going to flash her lady business. Weak, bumbling acceptance speech.

9:21 p.m.: Was Donnie Wahlberg just busting on Justin Bieber when he paused on his last name? Don't make me defend the Bieb. Have a little respect no matter who the artist is.  Lady Gaga wins for best pop vocal album. She's sporting what looks like half of Batman's outfit. She clearly said something profane since the sound just went out. She seems genuinely touched and is crying or it could just be the prongs she has coming out of her forehead and her shoulders hurt. She's thanking Whitney Houston because she imagined Houston singing "Born This Way" when she wrote it because she wasn't secure enough to believe she could sing it. Wow. That little 10-second tidbit was WAY more revealing than she was in her entire 20-minute "60 Minutes" profile.

9:25 p.m. Mumford & Sons are singing "The Cave," a song I liked so much better than "Little Lion Man," and showing that you can rock out while playing acoustic, which is a good thing or this acoustic segment would be pretty slow. Loving the horns too. Just switched to the Avett Bros., my fellow North Carolinians (YAY!!! Shout out to the Tarheel State!) performing "Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise." I'd like to take this moment to plug the Avett Bros. If you get a chance to go see them live, do so. This performance isn't really indicative of how much fun they are, though they sound good. Now here's Bob Dylan signing "Maggie's Farm," backed by the Avetts and M&S. The white shoes and ascot are a nice tough Zimmy. This is a little surreal, in part because, although Dylan sounds even hoarser and gruffer than usual, it may be the first time I've been able to understand what he's singing. Was I the only one wondering if Soy Bomb would show up? Am I the only one old enough to remember Soy Bomb? 

9:39 p.m.: Who would have though Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews would do a better job introducing Lady Antebellum than Lea Michele who bobbled quite a few of her words. Lady A starts with  "If You Don't Know Me By Now," by  Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Hillary Scott, whom I saw perform last night at Dierks Bentley & Friends' awesome concert, and she looked perfectly normal, is now rocking bangs. They looked bad when Sandra Bullock wore them at the Golden Globes, when Leona Lewis wore them at the Justin Bieber premiere and they look bad here. Are they all sharing the same wig?  We're into a medley of Lady A songs with "American Honey" and "Need You Now." That was a strange segue from "Honey" into "Need You Now."  Dull performance, but I love Charles Kelley and Scott's harmonies together.

9:45 p.m.: Lady A wins best country album over Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson, both of whom I would have predicted would have won before Lady A. They already won two previous Grammys tonight. Are they going to shock everyone and win best song and record? 

9:47 p.m. We're five seconds in and "Forget You" is my favorite performance of the night. Cee Lo is with the Muppets, but his feathers and plumes are brighter than any Muppet. He's putting Elton John to shame. The backing girl Muppets are classic. I love the space age set.  Gwyneth Paltrow is a much better singer than she has a right to be, but I'd rather see her in Muppet form. She's also getting way too much of the song and is adding nothing. Cee Lo just stood up, he's a complete, Elmo-red Muppet explosion.  I've heard much more spirited versions of the song, but in terms of the over-all visual experience, A+. I'd pay a lot of money to see a Cee Lo tour with the Muppets as his band...and without Gwyneth.

9:57 p.m.: Katy Perry is a girl-on-a-swing with new single "Not Like the Movies." It's a Grammy motif we swear we've seen before, but we don't remember whom.  Now there's footage of her and Russell Brand's wedding projected on the scrim of her swing. This should work much better than it does. She's now segued into "Teenage Dream." She sounds much better here than she did on the slower song. She should be very thankful that Norah Jones, John Mayer and Keith Urban are singing a tasty, acoustic version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" after her instead of before. Mayer is really obviously reading a teleprompter. That was a nice little tribute to Parton who received a Lifetime Achievement Awards this year.

10:04 p.m. LOL. The announcer is calling "F*** You"  "the song otherwise known as 'Forget You,' during the Song of the year nominees.  "Need You Now" just won. That is shocking and throws every one's predictions off kilter. Trust me, the only ones who expected that less than the band were the pundits.  Did not see that coming because even if Nashville block voted, I figured they were splitting the vote between "Need You Now" and "The House That Built Me."  This is an award that goes to the songwriters, whereas record of the year goes to the producer, engineer and artist.This award has gone to a country song only a handful of times: in 2007 to the Dixie Chicks and Dan Wilson for "Not Ready To Make Twice" (although we'll always believe that was more a vote of political solidarity for the Chicks than truly for the song) and before that, 1983 for "Always on My Mind."

10:13 p.m. Rihanna sounds pretty shaky on her intro to "Love the Way You Lie (Part 2)." Her appearance was in doubt since she's suffering from the flu. Eminem's rapping. I love his energy and intensity, or maybe he's just incredulous, like the rest of us, that he lost song of the year to Lady A (calm down, Lady A fans-- I am a big supporter of the band, but I'm still reeling from their victory in this category.) Skylar Grey just called for a Doctor on Em's "I Need a Doctor" (does her part remind anyone else of Evanescence's Amy Lee?) I have a feeling there's one in the house. Paging Dr. Dre... (did Em just get a "f*** past the censors?) I'm blown away by Em. He's giving me chills. I think he's electrifying.

10:21 p.m.: Best new artist: I'm giving up on predicting anything since my predictions have sucked this year. Uh...Esperanza Spalding just won. I'd really like a recount. For those who don't know her (and I'm assuming that's 99.9 percent of you), she's a jazz artist and she's great, so this isn't like Starland Vocal Band winning, as they did in 1977. She will probably be going strong long after some of the other artists in the category have faded into obscurity...wait, did I just talk myself into believing she should have won this award. Nah. Drake was robbed and the Bieb is really having a tough night.  (a little side note: we went to Wikipedia to check what year Starland Vocal Band won artist of the year and they already have Spalding up as the winner, but have as her nationality "Bob Dole." I don't even have a comeback for that, I just wanted to share).

10:35 p.m.: Mick Jagger, in his first Grammy performance, is saluting Solomon Burke (the clip of Burke singing "Cry To Me" made me feel like crying. LOVE him) with "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." Keith Richards looks very different tonight. Healthier than we've seen him in years. LOL. We kid, Raphael Saddiq. Not my favorite performance of the night by a long shot, but it was all heart.

10:46 p.m.: Kris Kristofferson is introducing Barbra Streisand. His voice is totally shot. We hope that's only temporary.  For Streisand fans (and who isn't?), you can read our account of seeing her Friday night at the MusiCares Person of the Year dinner here. I don't feel qualified to carry Streisand's shoelaces, much less comment on her "Evergreen" performance, but it's a little spotty.  She sounds beautiful on some of it and a teeny bit off in others. But when she's on, there's absolutely no one who can compare. No.One.Ever.  I want to bathe in her voice.

10:51 p.m.: Our favorite cartoon character, Nicki Minaj, is presenting best rap album with The Grammy goes to Eminem, who's probably thankful that Lady A wasn't nominated in this category. We'll see if he gives a speech like he knows he may not return to the podium tonight.  Yup.

10:59 p.m.: P Diddy seems very reading challenged with the intro for Rihanna's "What's My Name" featuring Drake.  Drake rapping "The things we can do in 20 minutes, girl," made me long for The Dominos, who pledged us three times as long in "60 Minute Man."  I guess attention deficit disorder has affected everything. It even seemed like a short performance. Rihanna looked hot though.

11:03 p.m.: We have no doubt Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez have chemistry in real life, but not up on stage presenting Record of the Year, which, if you've been following along, will not be surprised that it goes to Lady Antebellum for "Need You Now." Is this a good time to remind people that "Need You Now" is a song that Lady A thought sucked when they wrote it?  (I like it, by the way). This is going to be remembered for the year that Lady A beat a much more deserving (in my mind, at least) Eminem just like the year that Norah Jones swept, beating Springsteen's "The Rising." 

11:12 p.m.: God bless Arcade Fire. They are waking up everyone with a blistering "Month of May," complete with a BMX biker (we love that he's wearing a helmet). This is like a great jolt of adrenalin straight to the heart. They just topped Muse. So they're losing every Grammy they're up for, they came out and took no prisoners.

11:17 p.m.:  For fun, I decided to check Kanye West's tweets during the commercial. Here's the latest: "Damn... I can't find the words to explain how I feel about the best new artist award... Don't wanna say the wrong thing." That may be the one and only time West and I agree on something. Other than I'm sure we both agree that he will be up for album of the year at the 2012 Grammy Awards.

11:22 p.m.: Babs and Kristofferson are presenting album of the year. I really want Eminem to win, if for nothing else, to see him hug Streisand. What?  Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs"  wins. The band (I think it was Win Butler, I was looking away) just said, "What the hell?" echoing the sentiment of almost everyone in the audience. I realized there's no logic here, but how can they lose best alternative music album and win best album? For anyone else who's confused, the whole Grammy voting constituency can vote for album of the year, while a smaller portion vote for the genre awards. But, you know what, that doesn't really explain anything to me. Eminem should have won. Arcade is performing again to end the show. After the thrash of "Month Of May," they're now showing their bouncy side with a sprightly "Ready to Start." Here's my question: was whoever won going to play? It's head to imagine that the Grammys had reserved two slots for Arcade Fire regardless of whether they won album of the year. My head hurts.

My post-show thoughts:  It will be a cold day in hell before we see Eminem at the Grammy Awards again. He was almost shut out. No artist should ever go in feeling like he/she is the presumptive winner, but he was certainly the hands-down favorite.  Biggest winners? Lady Antebellum and Esperanza Spalding. Let's just say that Spalding's win was so shocking, you'll note that she was the only best new artist nominee who didn't really get a turn in the spotlight (I'm sorry, playing behind Recording Academy Neil Portnow does not count). We know Drake and Florence & The Machine didn't get their own spots, but they were featured much more prominently than Espe.

Traditionally, performers see a much bigger sales bump than the winners, but we're predicting a huge bounce for Spalding next week. Lady A probably won't see the same jump simply because that album has already sold a few million copies.  A few other thoughts: Christina Aguilera did nothing to redeem herself from last week's gaffe, but didn't cause herself any more harm. Cee Lo's performance will get the most YouTube views, no thanks to Gwennie, and "Hey Soul Sister" will never, ever stop being in heavy rotation at a radio station near you.

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<p>Lea Michele performs at the MusicCares Streisand salute</p>

Lea Michele performs at the MusicCares Streisand salute

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Barbara Streisand gets some 'Glee' love at MusicCares tribute

Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck, Faith Hill and Seal were also there

Is there anyone with a voice as incomparable as Barbra Joan Streisand? No, although a lot of mighty fine singers gave it their best shot on Friday night (Jan. 11) at the MusiCares Person of the Year dinner here in Los Angeles honoring Babs.

MusiCares is a division of The Recording Academy, who put on the Grammys, which provides essential services for “music people” in times of financial, medical and personal need. The annual dinner takes place two nights before the Grammy Awards and is always a highlight of the week. Past honorees include Bono, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, James Taylor, Quincy Jones, Elton John, Neil Diamond and Billy Joel.

I’ve been fortunate to attend a number of MusiCares dinners and this was the best one I’ve seen in terms of trying to fit the right artist with the song. The could be because if you can’t really sing, you’re not about to show up and sing one of Streisand’s songs back to her. There have been odd mismatches in the past, such as Lady Antebellum at last year’s salute to Neil Young, but this year there were only varying degrees of good to really good to great.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

Music Power Rankings: Justin Bieber invites us to his 3D world

Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj also have a great week

Justin Bieber’s released two editions of “My World,” but this weekend we find out it’s really true as Paramount’s “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” opens in more than 3,000 theaters across the U.S.  It will top the box office if it can beat the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston rom-com “Just Go With It.”   The movie is aimed straight at the heart of Beiber’s 7-13-year old female demo, but it very palatable to parents who have to take their kids. Read my review here; my colleague Drew McWeeny’s here.

1) Justin Beiber (not ranked last week): He’s an underdog for best new artist at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, but he may be top dog at the box office this week with “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”

2) Lady Gaga (not ranked): Did you feel the seismic shift at 6 a.m. EST Friday morning as a meteor hit the earth? What? That was just the globe reacting to Momma Monster’s new single, “Born This Way,” as it shot to the top of the iTunes chart. She’s the subject of a “60 Minutes” profile  on CBS Feb. 13 right before she appears on the  Grammys. Yes. It’s all LG all the time from now until “Born This Way’s” May 23 release.

3) Irving Azoff (not ranked): He’s having a good week. Not only does he become chairman of the board of Live Nation Entertainment, LNE buys the remaining stake it did not own in Azoff’s Front Line Management for $116.2 million (which he split with MSG). We’d wager that Azoff is now worth more than WMG, which lost $100 million in shareholder value this week. We know which one we’d feel more comfortable buying stock in.

4) Guy Hands (not ranked): After putting EMI through a few years of turmoil  and a nasty lawsuit with Citi that ended with Citi taking control of EMI, he’s confirmed rumors that he has actually interested in buying back EMI. What’s the definition of insanity? Oh yeah, doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: Jason DeCrow/AP

2011 Grammy Predictions: It's Eminem vs. Lady Gaga in album of the year

Who's taking home song, record, album and best new artist of the year?

We’ve been counting down to the Feb. 13 Grammy Awards by highlighting a category a day, but today we tackle the Big Four: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.  The entire Grammy voting body can vote for this quartet and they are considered the most precious of the 109 trophies handed out.  There are some surprises in each of the four categories, so hang on tight, here we go.


“Nothin’ On You,” B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars
“Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem featuring Rihanna
“F*** You,” Cee-Lo Green
“Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum

It just goes to show what a big year it was in pop when it’s easy to come up with at least  four other songs that could have easily been in this category: Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,”  Sade’s “Soldier of Love,” Bruno Mars‘ “Just the Way You Are” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.”
Record of the year goes to the producer, engineer and artist so the criteria is how does the performance sound. For our money, “F*** You” is the best sounding record in the bunch with its razor sharp, bouncy  production, but we have a feeling every award Eminem is up for is his to lose.

The winner: “Love the Way You Lie”


“The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire
“Recovery,” Eminem
“Need You Now,”  Lady Antebellum
“The Fame Monster,”  Lady Gaga
“Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry

At 38, Eminem is the grand old man in this category. That’s quite a change from when Grammy voters usually pick some geezer to slot in here. Clearly missing from this selection is Sade’s first album in 10 years, “Soldier of Love,” which seemed like shoo-in for album of the year when it came out last February.  It could be very telling that Lady Gaga received no nominations for song or record of the year. I’m taking it as a sign that this award is going to “Recovery”: there’s not enough buzz on “The Suburbs,” and voters aren’t going to award a country artist  here two years in a row after honoring Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” last year.

The winner: “Recovery”


“Beg Steal or Borrow,” Ray Lamontagne, songwriter (Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs)
“F*** You,” Cee Lo Green, Philip Lawrence & Bruno Mars, songwriters ( Cee Lo Green)
“The House That Built Me,”  (Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
“Love the Way You Lie,” Alexander Grant, Holly Hafferman & Marshall Mathers, songwriters (Eminem featuring Rihanna)
“Need You Now,” Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott, songwriters (Lady Antebellum)

No offense to LaMontagne, but what is he doing here?  “Beg Steal or Borrow”is a fine song, but not worthy of being in this category.  What about Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man” or Sade’s “Soldier of Love?” This award goes to the songwriter(s), so it’s best to think about the song if you heard it with no bells and whistles, played on an acoustic guitar or keyboards. By that standard, it’s new country standard “The House That Build Me,” a simply beautiful and heartwrenching tune.

The winner:  “The House That Built Me”


Justin Bieber
Florence & The Machine
Mumford & Sons
Esperanza Spalding

 Neither Nicki Minaj nor Bruno Mars were eligible because they had not yet released an album by the Sept. 30 cut-off.  In one of the biggest snubs of the 2011 Grammys, voters decided they wanted nothing to do with Ke$ha despite her making lots of money for the industry. We take that as a good sign, but then the Grammys overcompensated by putting Esperanza Spalding in here, sending millions of people running to their computer to Google her name. They couldn’t similarly ignore Justin Bieber or maybe they let their kids cast their vote, but his inclusion should come as no surprise given that former teen idols Jonas Brothers were nominated for this award in 2009.  The clear winner is Drake, who had one of the best selling albums of 2010 and stood out in a pack of new urban-leaning pop male artists.

The winner: Drake

Whom do you want to win?

Follow Hitfix for complete coverage of the Grammys Sunday night. I’ll be live blogging the  Grammy Awards starting at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST. We’ll also have red carpet photo galleries and other features for your one-stop shop for all things Grammy.

A look back at our other 2011 Grammy Predictions:

Best solo rock vocal performance

Best Pop Vocal Album

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Best Contemporary R&B Album

Best Short Form Music Video

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

Best Alternative Music Album



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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Five ways to improve the Grammys

From the actual show to nominations, things can always get better

The Grammy Awards are doing fine without our help: the 2010 broadcast attracted 25.8 million viewers, which was the show’s best rating since 2004 (by comparison, last year’s Oscars drew 41 million).  But we’re not above making a few suggestions about how the “Music's Biggest Night” can become even better, as well as a few ideas about the nomination process.

1) Bring back a solo host for the Grammy Awards and have the show air live on the west coast. Yes, it’s a thankless task and it’s really hard to find someone who works. But the Grammys moved to Sunday from a week night several years ago in an effort to build an Oscar-like following and make the Grammy Awards an event.  They haven’t achieved that type of status yet, but given how much coverage the Oscar hosts receive and how much debate it causes after the fact, this could be a great way to make folks tune in even if they don’t care who’s up for the top awards. Last year, although not an official host, Stephen Colbert did deliver a monologue of sorts. It makes the evening feel more cohesive. We hear Ricky Gervais has an opening for an awards show host slot. Plus, it you want to be considered a real event, you should air live on the west coast not tape delayed.Hell, even the Golden Globes get that honor.

2)  Revamp the Best New Artist  category...again. It is easier to answer the Sphinx’s riddle than figure out Grammy voting, but we give the Recording Academy credit for its willingness to revamp eligibility requirements when appropriate. For example, last year, after Lady Gaga was deemed ineligible for Best New Artist because she had received a previous nomination for “Just Dance,” the Recording Academy changed the rules so that a previous nomination did not eliminate an artist from Best New Artist (although a win does). Now, the Recording Academy needs to get rid of the requirement that an act must have released an album to be nominated. Both Nicki Minaj and Bruno Mars, who were clear contenders, were ineligible because their debut full-length sets came out after the Sept. 30 cut-off.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Wiz Khalifa</p>

Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa takes the Steelers to the top of the Billboard Hot 100

But who will land the 1000th No. 1 on the chart next week?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss is Wiz Khalifa’s win as his tribute to the Superbowl losers, “Black and Yellow,” soars 4-1 this week on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song marks his first trip to the top of the chart, as he knocks Bruno Mars’ second No. 1, “Grenade” out of the top spot.

Not to talk anything away from Khalifa’s achievement, but all eyes are on next week’s chart, when, if Khalifa doesn’t hold for a second week--which is very unlikely-- the 1000th song in the history of the Billboard 100 will ascend to the top spot. While it’s way too early to tell what song may claim that distinction, it’s looking less like Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” will reach the summit, as the song drops to No. 4. A real possibility is Katy Perry’s “Firework.” If her version returns to No. 1, then we’ll have to wait another week for No. 1,000. However, if the “Glee” version comes in at No. 1, that would ring the bell.

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<p>Lady Gaga's &quot;Born This Way&quot;</p>

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way"

Reminder: Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' single bows Friday at 6 a.m.

Pre-orders for Target's deluxe album edition with 8 extra tracks starts at 8 a.m

Set your alarms Little Monsters: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” will premiere at 6 a.m. EST Friday morning on probably every radio station you can possibly imagine except for talk radio. It will be available for purchase starting at 9 a.m. EST.  Earlier this week, Lady Gaga released the cover image of the single, which is a little creepy, quite frankly.

Additionally, Target will exclusively release a deluxe edition of the “Born This Way” album, out May 23. Target’s edition includes three additional studio songs and five remixes.

Fans can pre-order the album starting Feb. 11 at 8 a.m. CST. They will receive a free download of the title track by doing so.

Another friendly reminder: Lady Gaga will perform on Feb. 13's Grammy Awards, airing on CBS at 8 p.m. EST.


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<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

2011 Grammy Predictions: Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance

Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Macca: What's wrong with this picture? A lot

As we continue our countdown to the Feb. 13 Grammy Awards, we’re predicting a category a day. Today, we look at best solo rock vocal performance. We picked this category for a very specific reason: we want to rant a little.

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance

“Run Back To Your Side,” Eric Clapton
“Crossroads,” John Mayer
“Helter Skelter,” Paul McCartney
“Silver Rider,” Robert Plant
“Angry World,” Neil Young

Good God, Clapton, McCartney, Plant and Young are legends and it’s great that they are still making vibrant, if not vital, music, but could we please nominate some artists who aren’t card-carrying members of the AARP?  Not that he’s much younger, but what happened to John Mellencamp in this category?

For whatever reason, there are very few solo rock males breaking through in any meaningful way right now. The music space is lousy with pop/R&B-leaning solo males, but most rocking males seem to prefer to be in groups right now rather than go it solo. In fact we just ran through Billboard’s current Rock Songs chart and there is not a single solo male in the Top 25.   Kid Rock’s “Born Free” album came out too late to be considered, but it seems like the first single was out by the Sept. 30 cutoff.  We imagine both Gregg Allman and Amos Lee, who are eligible next year, may show up in 2012.

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<p>Justin Bieber at the &quot;Never Say Never&quot; premiere</p>

Justin Bieber at the "Never Say Never" premiere

Credit: AP Photo

Movie Review: Justin Bieber's 'Never Say Never'

Should you say yes to this documentary about his life?

There’s a reason Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” is coming out Feb. 11: It’s a big, wet juicy Valentine to his fans...actually, make that a sweet, safe peck on the cheek.

At 16, Bieber is the first teen idol to rise to superstar prominence so ably aided and abetted by social networking. Between his discovery via the internet, where his videos have now surpassed 1 billion total views, and his dedication to Tweeting his seeming every thought, Bieber conducts a near-constant conversation with his fans.

It’s no wonder that, as one of Bieber’s adoring —and adorable— tween fans says in the movie, “I think about him, like, 99% of my life.”

The documentary’s main purpose, other than reinforcing Bieber’s overall puppy-like appeal, is to make the fairly convincing case that there is nothing pre-fabricated about Bieber, unlike with so many teen idols. At two, he exhibited such a natural rhythm by beating his hands on chairs that family friends bought him a tiny drum kit. By the time he was eight, a local benefit was put on to raise money to purchase a full size drum kit. But he wasn’t just drumming; Bieber was singing and teaching himself other instruments, as well.  Soon, he was entering local talent contests in his hometown of Stratford, Canada (population 32,000) and busking on the steps of the Avon Center.

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