<p>My Chemical Romance</p>

My Chemical Romance

Credit: AP Photo

Album review: My Chemical Romance's 'Danger Days'

Set in 2019, the collection takes its influences from the past

My Chemical Romance’s new album, “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys,” out now, is set in the year 2019 in a post-Apocalyptic California, but the music is straight out of ‘70s and ‘80s rock.

Gerard Way and his high-energy band of merry malcontents weren’t around for Styx’s halcyon days, but there’s a little bit of the Grand Illusion in everything MCR does: It’s all about the big gestures: they swing for the fences every time. Whether they hit or miss is almost incidental, but, for the record, they hit much more than they miss here.

MCR had traded in cancer, the internal enemy in 2006’s fine “The Black Parade,” for an external villain here: the bloated excesses of rock, although I’m not sure they succeed in making their point. On MCR’s website, guitarist Frank Iero writes, “At first our instinct was to write a love letter to rock and roll, an entity that inspired us and gave us the opportunity to express our true selves. We later found out the best way to love rock and roll was to set out to destroy it, and the record then became a missile pointed directly at the genre.”  Whatevs.

What matters here more than that somewhat obtuse message is the music and the passion and commitment that MCR exhibits here to providing nothing short of an all-in experience that is the aural equivalent of “Mad Max.”  The snot-nosed kids here are disenfranchised and pissed, and who can blame them. They don’t know what to believe anymore, other than they don’t need another false hero,  but they still cling to some semblance of hope. Or as Way sings in the urgent “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back”:  “We can live forever if you’re got the time, mother fucker.”

From the punky first single, “Na, Na, Na...” to snyth-driven current single, “Sing,”  and all points in between,  MCR is on a freight train here, speeding toward the end  of days. Remarkably, other than a few times, such as on the fuzzy “Destroya,” they have crafted a thoroughly melodic pop album that even the most weighty of ambitions can’t bring down.  As well crafted as the lyrics are here, the stretch for some sense of profundity in almost every song gets to be a bit much: “You only hear the music when your heart begins to break,” Way sings on “The Kids from Yesterday.” Huh?

The interstitial segments featuring a DJ that bookend the album are totally extraneous, especially the last one followed  by the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” (For those of you too young to remember, TV and radio  stations weren’t always 24/7, and when they signed off in the early morning, they played the National Anthem).

The rocket ride slows down only slightly for the lovely, melodic, dreamy  “Summertime,” where the protagonist tells his love, “you can run away with me anytime you want,” to the strains of ‘80s Brit pop. When each tune strives to be an anthem, the ultimate effect is they all lose some of their power, although that’s a small complaint.  This is an album that is meant to take the listener on a journey and it’s a journey that never lets up. By the time album closer, the high-octane, breakneck “Vampire Money,” finishes,  fans will feel ground to a pulp and exhausted, and that’s just the way MCR wants it.

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<p>Justin Bieber's &quot;My Worlds Acoustic&quot;</p>

Justin Bieber's "My Worlds Acoustic"

Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber lead Thanksgiving music releases

Ke$ha and My Chemical Romance also check in

The rush to get new albums in the stores before Black Friday continues as an avalanche of fresh releases hit stores Monday, Nov. 22, and Tuesday, Nov. 23. Nicki Minaj’s “Pink Friday” will give us more of a glimpse of the rapper than one song at a time, while Justin Bieber slows things down with his acoustic set.

We didn’t list them below, but also noteworthy are “The Hits Collection, Volume One,” a two-disc set from Jay-Z, the vinyl reissue of Nine Inch Nail’s “Pretty Hate Machine,” and the expanded edition of The National’s “High Violet.”

Justin Bieber,
“My Worlds Acoustic” (Island/RBMG): The American Music Awards big winner gives nine songs from “My World” and “My World 2.0 the acoustic treatment on this Walmart exclusive. The set also includes the new song, “Pray.”

Ke$ha,
“Cannibal” (RCA/Kemosabe Entertainment): The nine-song companion  to “Animal” is off to a strong start with party anthem, “We R Who We R,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. See review here.

Nicki Minaj, “Pink Friday” (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal): Has anyone ever achieved so much acclaim before releasing their debut or guested on so many singles by other artists?  We finally find out if the bewigged one can hold her own on a complete set.

My Chemical Romance,
“Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” (Reprise): The band’s first album since 2006’s “The Black Parade” is off to a rousing start with first single “Na, Na, etc....” MCR’s post-apocalyptic view of 2019 is a concept set, but each song still stands alone.

Ne-Yo,
“Libra Scale” (Def Jam): Singer/songwriter/dancer—is there nothing he can’t do?—follows up the vaunted “Year of the Gentleman” with “Libra Scale,” a concept album featuring The Gentlemen, who have special powers. There’s a lot to mine there, but, as in most cases with Ne-Yo, it often comes down to the love.

Robyn, “Body Talk” (Konichiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope): The members of the cult of Robyn will eat up the third edition of her “Body Talk” series.

Jessica Simpson,
“Happy Christmas” (Eleven Eleven/Primary Wave): After leaving both Sony’s pop and country divisions, Simpson has now launched her own label. First offering is her holiday set.

Smashing Pumpkins,
“Teargarden By Kaleidyscope Vol II: The Solstice Bare” (Rocket Science): If you didn’t manage to get each song as it was available for free download, you can gather them here in one place.

Sting, “Live in Berlin” (Decca) Der Stingle with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany.

Various Artists, Burlesque” (RCA): Soundtrack to this year’s equivalent of “Showgirls” features eight new songs performed by Christina Aguilera and two from Cher, both of whom star in the movie.

Kanye West,
“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” (G.O.O.D. Music):  West’s latest is getting some of the best reviews of his career. See why in our review here. 

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<p>Ke$ha</p>

Ke$ha

Credit: AP Photo

Album Review: Ke$ha's 'Cannibal'

Will it make you hungry for more?

Ke$ha sings “We’re pretty and sick/we’re young and we’re bored” in “Blow” —it’s not about what you think—one of the nine new songs on “Cannibal,” out today.

In that single phrase, she neatly sums up the Ke$ha ethos, if we can be so highbrow as to call it that. Socrates said the unexamined life isn’t worth living. This would not be Ke$ha’s belief. Hers is a world where every night is Friday night— a chance to blow off steam, get stumbling drunk, and if you’re really lucky, pick up a guy for a one-night stand or achieve your dream of sleeping in your car or couch surfing. The road goes on forever and the party never ends.

The title track shows off her fairly dexterous spoken delivery despite the absolute inanity of lyrics, including tackily invoking a notorious mass murderer: “Be too sweet and you’ll be a goner/Yep, I’ll pull a Jeffrey Dahmer,” she says. And yet,  since she’s so classy, she  substitutes “ass” for a more medically correct term: “Now that I’m famous/ you’re up my anus,” she tells a boyfriend.

If you liked her major label debut, “Animal”—and more than a million of you did— there’s plenty more to appreciate on “Cannibal.”  First single, that great self-acceptance anthem, “We R Who We R,” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1. With its rat-a-tat beat, “Sleazy” is easily the most interesting song on the album (as well as the one with a compelling—did I just write that?— sung chorus). On “Grow a Pear,” she had me laughing out loud with the line “I just can’t date a dude with a vag,”  about her ex and his effete ways.

In less than a year, Ke$ha has completely established her swaggering —and often staggering —character.  But there are indications that she is finding the party life a bit of a gilded cage and she wants to spread her wings. On “The Harold Song” Ke$ha shows she has a heart and it turns out it’s been horribly broken by Harold. Wait... what if all the tough girl braggadocio is really just a front to cover for her sensitive side?  Nah....

Though her rhyming is often on the skill level of a first grader, there are several times she doesn’t take the easy out, such as on “Blow,” or on the largely sung (as opposed to spoken) “C U Next Tuesday,” which is not about what the saying has come to stand for. In Ke$ha’s world, isn’t that a bit of a squandered opportunity?  Subtlety will never be her strong suit. But she’s the crude party girl who is hip to her talents. “I know I’m the new bitch on the block,” she sings, making it sound like a compliment. “I got here by running my mouth.”  And that she can do in spades.

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<p>Rihanna walks the red carpet at the 2010 AMAs.</p>

Rihanna walks the red carpet at the 2010 AMAs.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Live Blogging the 2010 American Music Awards

Eminem, Rihanna and Lady Antebellum

7:40 p.m.: Twenty-minute countdown to the start of the American Music Awards. Who will be the big winner?  Lady Antebellum and Eninem are the leading nominees. Will Justin Bieber be artist of the year?

8:06 p.m.: Rihanna opens with an a capella expanded chorus of her part of Eminem's  “Love the Way You Lie,” while she sits in a tree. She then goes into “What’s My Name.” That may be one of the strangest segues ever: to go from a song about being an abuse victim to singing, with a few open-thighed stripper moves thrown in, about wanting a boy to work her over.  Now, with the help of a few backup singers, she's performing  “Only Girl in the World.”  She may not be, but we’re guessing she’s lip synching since there are parts when we hear her voice but the microphone is nowhere near her mouth. Am I the only one who’s tired of performances on awards shows turning into medleys?  Can’t we just do one song anymore? It doesn’t make it any more of an “event” if you stitch three seemingly disparate songs together whose only common thread is the singer.

8:10 p.m.: Usher wins the first award of the night for favorite album ("Raymond v. Raymond") and basically thanks his new management team. Yawn.

8:14 p.m.: The Black Eyed Peas win the award for best pop/rock act, making the third time they've won the award. They win over Lady A and Train. Where are the rock bands? Is Will.i.am's hat made of legos? Awesome! They're trying to each get a word in as they get played off. Please, most of us can't remember any of their names beyond Fergie and Will.I.Am.

8:20 p.m.: Pitbull is wiping the floor with Enrique Iglesias as they run through "I Like It," complete with a drum and fife corps. Where's Lionel? I want him instead of a weak Iglesias imitation.

8:25 p.m.:  Miley Cyrus is trotting out the oldest trope in the world to signify she's "serious, y'all." A black gown that covers her up totally--I've never see less of her-- and candles, lots of them, in a darkly lit performance of "Forgiveness and Love"  that you practically need night vision goggles to watch.  It's a lovely song but she can't sell it no matter how much she tries; she just doesn't have enough life under her belt yet. But hey, she's comporting herself damn well during her parents' divorce, so I'm sending her nothing but positive vibes.  

8:30 p.m.: Ditty Dirty Money are performing "Coming Home," I feel like I'm watching Tony Orlando & Dawn 2.0.  Again, another dark stage. Maybe it's just my slingbox, but does Ditty look more and more like Arsenio hall every day? I'm really not feeling this song, although I loved the audience shot of what I believe was one of Ditty's sons bopping along.

8:35 p.m.: A very restrained Taylor Swift wins country female. She's rocking bangs and straight, long hair. She looks absolutely beautiful. Do you think she's nervous every time she starts to give an acceptance speech now that someone will jump up and interrupt? 

8:37 p.m.: Kid Rock, whose promoting his new album, "Born Free," performs a lovely, acoustic tribute to his hometown, "In Times Like These," as slides of  high points and low points in Motor City history play. It's Seger-ish, though the other Bob would have given it a bit more of an edge.  We're liking the kinder, gentler Kid Rock. He's reinventing himself in a way that seems totally authentic to us.

8:47 p.m.: Shakira is a no-show to claim her top Latin artist win. Daddy Yankee was also nominated. We didn't know he was still around....The Black Eyed Peas are now performing "The Time (Dirty Bit)." If the song didn't include "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" from "Dirty Dancing," it really wouldn't have anything going for it. (Am I the only one who can't hear that song without thinking "No one puts Baby in a corner?") At least the performance featuring dancers with boxes on their heads is amusing.

8:58: Katy Perry is singing "Firework," one of the best songs from "Teenage Dream."  She's in a long dress. I'm betting my cat that the skirt will be off before the end of the performance or fireworks will shoot out of her crotch. A boys choir sang the opening. Oh, there goes the skirt. I'm so glad I get to keep my cat.  She's trying hard, but it's a really tepid performance, despite the guys doing semaphore with big sparklers in the background. She just seems really tired, as in physically exhausted, not tired in an "oh snap" way.

9:02 p.m.:  Rihanna wins the award for best soul/R&B female, but not before presenter Nicki Minaj gives a shout-out for her album, "Pink Friday." I know ever since Macy Gray wore an outfit with the name of her new album on the skirt we've lost any sense of decorum, but that is the height of rude. Guess what, Nicki? I know it's really, really hard to believe, but it's not all about you--or your stupid wigs.

9:04 p.m.  Justin Bieber is performing "Pray," a message song from his new acoustic album. Very interesting that both he and Miley chose to do songs that address social concerns of the day. Their abilities and talents aside, it's a great  message to send out to their young fans.  I don't know why, however, Justin pretended to be playing the piano since the tinkling went on once he got up. We certainly won't take you any more seriously if you fake play the piano.  It's like trying to look smarter by wearing glasses with no lenses in them. And, of course, you brought a choir with you.

9:06 p.m.: The first hour is history:  The big nominees, Usher and Lady Antebellum haven't won or lost anything yet. There were a staggering seven performances in the first hour. The best was Kid Rock, but they were all fairly boring. Nothing noteworthy in the least. And Nicki Minaj managed to offend me with her shameless plug. Given the timing of the show--right before Black Friday--it's basically a huge old sales pitch to buy everyone's current album...with a beat. There's almost no correlation between who plays and who wins.

9:14 p.m.: Brad Paisley wins best country male.  Fairly mundane speech, although he notes it's the first time he's ever thanked his parents at an awards show.

9:16 p.m.: Bon Jovi, who has the No. 1 album in Europe, is performing its lackluster new single, "What Do You Got" before, you guessed it, seguing into "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "It's My Life."  Doesn't "What Do You Got" sound exactly like Cinderella's "I'm Coming Home?" I don't know what the folks in the audience are seeing, but we're seeing lightning coming out of Richie Sambora's guitar. Or maybe it's just me. As regular readers know, I love Bon Jovi, but that felt pretty uninspired.

9:23 p.m.: Am I the only one mildly amused by the Ke$ha parodies in the Old Navy commercials?

9:29 p.m.: Justin Bieber wins the Breakthrough Artist award. As if he was really going to lose to a fan-voted award to Mike Posner or Travie McCoy? 

9:31 p.m.: Okay, it doesn't compare with M.I.A's "I'm about to go into labor at any moment" performance at the Grammys a few years back, but we're loving that momma-to-be Pink is managing to give the highest energy performance of the night with "Raise Your Glass." Man, there's a lot going on here-- a skate ramp, major gymnastics, Dan from The Dan Band.  All the dirty little freaks are loving it...me too.

9:40 p.m.: Ne-Yo is seemingly going through the history of love gone wrong in a very cinematic performance that intersperses live action with his videos and three songs. I love his old-school approach.

9:46 p.m.: It's a night for low-key performances. Taylor Swift is singing "Back to December" seated sedately at a piano, surrounded by trees and snow (it is December, after all).  The straight hair is throwing us off a little. It's like it's a completely different person. She also sounds better than she normally does in live performances. Coincidence? Wait... shes now gone into OneRepublic's "Apologize." We bet you Ryan Tedder is calling her right now to try to set up a writing date.

9:51 p.m.: Justin Bieber wins best pop/rock male besting Usher and Eminem, whom Bieber says he's been singing since was 3. Bieber thanks Michael Jackson because "without Michael Jackson, none of us would be here." Uh, not really true, but sweet nonetheless. I know it seems like the end of western civilization for Bieber to be winning, but, again, these are fan-voted awards and no one dials/texts with the fervid passion of a tween--except for all those tea baggers who are voting for Bristol Palin on "DWTS."

9:59 p.m.: Christina Aguilera is performing a song from "Burlesque." If you're not near a TV, imagine "Stronger," since that's what the song sounds like. As far as outfits, think about her remake with Pink, Mya and Lil Kim of "Lady Marmalade." Next best thing to being there.

10:03 p.m.: Lady Antebellum wins best country band.

10:05 p.m.: I'm more into the commercials than the show. LOVED the commercial for Michael Jackson's video game out on Tuesday and the Beatles/iTunes ad.

10:08 p.m.: Usher and Swedish House Mafia are performing "DJ Got Us Falling in Love."  Normally, Usher can make any show a party, but even he's flat tonight...though I love watching him dance. Is there something in the water? No one has hit a home run, though we'd give Pink a triple. The crowd, however, seems to feel that Usher hit it out of the park.

10:13 p.m.: Avril Lavigne just described the acts in the best alternative category as "amazeballs." Oh my God...will that be Perez Hilton's lasting contribution to society? Someone actually wrote "amazeballs" into the script? Muse wins and one of the dudes thanks Charles Darwin. I feel like I should get that joke, but I don't. Is it an evolution or survival of the fittest joke? Feel free to chime in if you know.

10:16 p.m.: Train is performing "Hey Soul Sister" with girls from the audience joining them on stage. We can safely say these are not professional dancers. I love comeback stories like the one Train had this year, I just wish it had been with a good song. Hard to believe it's the same band that gave us "Calling All Angels."

10:25 p.m.: Michael Buble beats Train and Lady Antebellum for best adult contemporary artist. He thanks all his fans, "old, young, gay straight." Best acceptance speech of the night.

10:27 p.m.: Is this Ke$ha's idea of a conceptual performance?  We can't tell if she has on a miner's hat or some weird helmet. We really don't think there's too much to mine here. Ke$ha may be many things, but an artist blessed with deep hidden meaning in her songs would not be one of them. I love how she makes sleeping in cars in "We R Who We R" sound like an aspirational goal. Oh look, she's playing guitar. She and Justin Bieber can form a fake band.

10:38 p.m.: Ah, here's a real band: Santana. Carlos is joined by Gavin Rossdale to perform T Rex's "Bang A Gong" from Santana's new album of classic guitar songs.  We saw them perform this live in Las Vegas and Rossdale killed, so we have to believe these performances just aren't coming across on TV...or he's having a very bad night. I have a new nightmare--to be one of the people in the audience that the camera pans to who makes a complete ass of themselves playing air guitar.

10:40 p.m: Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Usher compete in best soul/R&B male, presented by Lady A, who, as they admit, "f*** up" their intro. Usher wins. I don't know what it would have meant if Chris Brown had won. It's too soon. Usher is wearing all black leather, like Elvis in the '68 Comeback Special. But, as he said, "Can't call it a comeback. I've been doing this for 18 years." Wow. Time flies.

10:48 p.m.: We're in the homestretch. Artist of the Year. Will it be Justin Bieber, Eminem, Ke$ha, Lady GaGa or Katy Perry?  It's Justin Bieber. Remember, it's fan voted....We love that Usher, whose label Justin records for, picked him up.  Eminem, who was the top nominee with Lady A, wasn't even in the house, we don't think (the only award he won was awarded off camera).  Bieber just brought Usher up on stage. They make a lovely couple.

10: 52 p.m.: What does it say that the closing spot, the most exciting moment of the show, goes to the reunion of New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys.  BSB Brian Litrell is badly warbling through "I Want It That Way," a song I still have a soft spot for. He sounds bad, but the rest of the BSBs sound good, as do their harmonies. New Kids look old, but sound okay on "Step By Step." However, aren't some of them old enough to join the AARP? The "Right Stuff" dance has not aged well. Quite honestly, this little preview of their summer tour is all I need to see.

10:58 p.m.: And we're done. You can say this about a dick clark production: it will end on time, if nothing else.  The best performance of the night belonged to Pink, although that's not saying much in an evening of really blah appearances. Best dancer: Usher, hands (and feet) down.  I feel pretty depressed about the state of pop music right now.

What did you think of the show? 

 

 

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<p>Susan Boyle</p>

Susan Boyle

Credit: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Susan Boyle stays at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart preview

Where's Lee DeWyze?

The holiday season has indeed arrived and next week’s Billboard 200 will prove it. Remember when 60,000 was enough to land you a No. 1 album? Next week, the highest that would get you is No. 10, my friend. Plus, as the release avalanche continues, 11 of the top 15 spots are debuts, according to Hits Daily Double.

Susan Boyle’s “The Gift” will handily stay atop the leader board with sales of up to 325,000, which is, remarkably, no drop off at all from her current first week sales.  Likely to come in at No. 2 is another reality show talent contestant,  Jackie Evancho. The “America’s Got Talent” pint-sized singer’s “O Holy Night” CD/DVD is on tap to sell up to 260,000 copies.  Rihanna has to settle for third place for “Loud,” despite very nice first week numbers of up to 195,000. Rascal Flatt’s “Nothing Like This,” will be right behind her at No. 4, while Keith Urban’s “Get Closer” should rate No. 5, Josh Groban’s Rick Rubin-produced “Illuminations” at No. 6, Kid Rock’s “Born Free” at No. 7 and “Glee Christmas” at No. 8. 

Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” drops to No. 9--but still manages to likely sell 160,000 units. Nelly’s “5.0” looks good for No. 11, while the new set from rockers A Day To Remember” will probably land at No. 12, Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise” at No. 13 and Pink’s “Greatest Hits” at No. 14 with around 50,000 copies.

Did you notice that “American Idol” Lee DeWyze’s post-”Idol” debut, “Live it Up” doesn’t make the top 15, in all likelihood? Can we officially say that the “AI” phenom is over? That’s a staggering statistic that millions of people voted for him to win, but that not even a tiny fraction can muster up the energy to buy his album upon its release. That’s not a slight on DeWyze--it’s more a statement on the falling impact of the show.  Last season’s winner, Kris Allen, saw his self-titled album debut at No. 11, while season 7 winner, David Cook’s self-titled album bowed at No. 3.

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<p>The Beatles</p>

The Beatles

Credit: AP

Music Power Rankings: Brits rule as the Beatles, Susan Boyle and Rolling Stones make the list

Plus, why is Austin, Texas at No. 5?

The Beatles’ long and winding road to selling their music digitally on iTunes finally came to an end this week. It took years to sort through the complications and dissolve the bad blood between the Beatles’ Apples Corps and Steve Jobs’ Apple, but in the end, they decided the love you make is equal to the love you take. The result? One day after hitting the store, 16 of the Beatles’ 17 offered albums are in the top 35. New EMI CEO Roger Faxon looks brilliant as the main driver of the deal, along with Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones.

1) Beatles (not ranked last week): After holding out for years and weaving through myriad lawsuits, the Fab Four’s music finally ends up on iTunes.  Will Garth Brooks and AC/DC follow suit?

2)  Susan Boyle (not ranked) :
Virtually no promotion, no press, no  presence whatsoever. Boyle sits at home with her cat in the U.K. and still manages to sell more than 320,000 copies of her holiday album in the U.S. to knock Taylor Swift out of the top spot on the Billboard 200. One person who definitely did not buy “The Gift?”: Lou Reed.

3) Call of Duty: Black Ops (not ranked): 
Activision’s video game set a new five-day record for entertainment sales of any format with $650 million raked in.Will that be enough for the Grammys to award video game soundtracks their own category?

4) Lollapalooza (not ranked):
While the touring business in general is in the dumper, the Perry Farrell-led Lollapalooza goes south-- way south-- to Chile to start a new festival. Hola, Santiago.

5) Austin (not ranked): In the stating-the-obvious department, the Texas capital is named the top U.S. city for live music, according to songkick.com. And in other news, Heidi Montag is still a press whore.

6) The Rolling Stones (not ranked):
Will Mick (or Brenda, as he’ll always be to me) and Keef hit the road again next year? The rumor mill heats back up this week about a potential 2011 tour, as well as headlining gig at Coachella.

7) Jim Urie (not ranked):
The head of Universal Music Group Distribution scored a major victory this week after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an act that allows the Dept. of Justice to shut down websites offering unauthorized content. He’d been a one-man band leading the charge for passage of the anti-piracy proposal.

8) Bon Jovi (not ranked):  We tend to dismiss JBJ, Richie and the boys stateside for reasons I don’t understand  but they still rule in Europe. “Greatest Hits-- The Ultimate Collection” continues its reign at No. 1 on the European Albums chart, staving off such potential spoilers as Susan Boyle, Depeche Mode and James Blunt.

9) Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (not ranked): Power couple launches “lifestyle brands” at Kohls. As they’ve both learned, there is far more money to be made in the schmatte trade than the record industry.

10) Ronni Chasen (not ranked):
Los Angeles publicist comes to a horribly tragic end.  Somewhere she’s shaking her head, wishing her clients were getting all the news attention her death is receiving. She never wanted to be the story. We’ll miss you, Ronni.

Music Power Rankings appear every Friday.

Previous Music Power Rankings
 

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Watch: Tim McGraw's last video for Curb Records, 'Felt Good on My Lips"

Country superstar goes back to the live well one more time

Tim McGraw’s loves himself some live videos.  We wish he’s throw us a few more conceptual clips, but we’ll also freely admit we never tire of seeing him gladhanding his audience in his tighter-than-tight t-shirts and jeans.

In his new clip for “Felt Good on My Lips,” which premiered today on CMT.com,  there are moments where McGraw, who stars opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in the upcoming "Country Strong," seems to be singing the words to “Felt Good on My Lips,” but the vast majority of shots are taken from such a distance that he could be singing any song at any concert at any point.

That’s what happens when you’re unhappy with your label and at the end of your deal-- you just want to move on--and this video reflects that.  It’s pretty much a cut-and-paste job.

The sweet, upbeat “Felt Good on My Lips,”  the only new song on Nov. 30’s “Number One Hits,” finally fulfills McGraw’s contract with Curb and it’s been a long and often contentious (as well as tremendously rewarding, at times) relationship. For those keeping count, this marks the fourth time that Curb has repackaged his hits:  There’s the original “Greatest Hits” in 2000, “Reflected: Greatest Hits Vol. 2” in 2006 and “Greatest Hits 3” in 2008,whose release delayed  McGraw’s last new studio album for Curb, 2009’s “Southern Voice.” After GH3 came out, McGraw talked about how disappointed he was that Curb was going back to the well so soon for another greatest hits when he’d only put out one studio album between GH2 and GH3. At that point, the gloves were pretty much off.

We’ll be happy for McGraw when he gets his new label deal and we get back to some interesting concept videos. No word on if he’s signing with another label or going the self-release route.

 

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<p>Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell</p>

Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell

Lollapalooza goes international with Santiago edition

South American fest will feature international and Chilean artists

 Lollapalooza is going international. The festival, co-founded by Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, will hold a South American edition in Santiago, Chile April 2-3 at O’Higgins Park.  The event will feature global acts, as well as Chilean artists.

“We found that there are so many groups and artists that have never been to Chile,” Farrell said in a statement. “It's been fun figuring out with [partners] Lotus, C3 and WME, who will be the first to get there.”

A number of factors went in to picking Santiago and the park “Number one is space,” Farrell said. “It must be open and lovely; scalable up to 100,000 patrons. Second is the proximity to the city. We provide the entertainment.  The city provides the culture, hotels, restaurants and clubs. Then, most important are the people. The people of Santiago have a passion for contemporary music and lead international lifestyles.”

Lollapalooza will take place Aug. 5-7 in Chicago next year, per usual. However, Farrell adds that there will be a “cultural exhange,” with some acts from Chile appearing at the Chicago festival.


 

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Spend Thanksgiving with Taylor Swift

It's Ladies Night as Beyonce will host a Turkey Day TV event

Care for a little Taylor Swift with your Thanksgiving turkey? NBC will air “Taylor Swift: Speak Now,” an hour-long special devoted to all things Swift on Nov. 25 at 8 p.m.

It seems like only a few weeks ago that Tay-Tay was stopping LA traffic while she performed atop a bus in Hollywood. You can relieve that moment, along with eight other performances filmed over recent weeks by Swift as part of the push for her latest chart topper, “Speak Now,” from the comfort of your lazy boy. There will be behind-the-scenes footage as well.

It will be a musical Turkey day as ABC already announced that “Beyonce’s I Am...World Tour” will air starting at 9:30 on Nov. 25. It marks the second year in a row that ABC has aired a Beyonce special on Thanksgiving.

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<p>Diane Birch</p>

Diane Birch

Credit: Jeff Christensen/AP

Diane Birch goes goth on covers set with the Phenomenal Handclap Band

Tunes by The Cure, Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen and more

Diane Birch, whose 2009 debut, “Bible Belt, was criminally overlooked, returns with a 7-song EP of cover tunes, Dec. 7. Tagged “The Velveteen Age,” the collection pairs her with fellow Brooklynites, the Phenomenal Handclap Band, on a set of primarily British Goth songs from the likes of The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division and This Mortal Coil.

Birch, who arranged the songs, picked material from her formative teen years. "Sitting in my bedroom with my headphones pressed into my ears till they hurt, each song gave me a weird kind of hope for my future. ?I would have never imagined I would get a chance to record them one day, let alone with some of my closest friends." The cover art features a 16-year old Birch in a vintage Victorian wedding dress.

The set, out on S-Curve, will be followed by a new album of self-penned tunes by Birch.


"THE VELVETEEN AGE” TRACKLIST:


This Corrosion (Sisters of Mercy)


Kiss Them For Me (Siouxsie & The Banshees) 


Bring On The Dancing Horses (Echo & The Bunnymen)


Atmosphere (Joy Division) 


Primary (The Cure)


Tarantula (This Mortal Coil)


A Strange Kind of Love (Peter Murphy)
 

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