<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Katy Perry lights up the Billboard Hot 100 as 'Firework' stays at No. 1

Rihanna and Bruno Mars make serious chart gains

“Firework,” the uplifting third single from Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” continues to sparkle as it spends its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song also stays atop the Digital Songs chart, surpassing  200,000 downloads for the week.   “Firework’s” double blast at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 marks the end of five straight weeks of revolving chair in the No. 1 spot and becomes the first single to last more than one week in the pole position since Far*East Movement’s “Like a G6” on the charts for Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, according to Billboard.  “Like a G6” returned to the top for a third non-consecutive week.

Will “Firework” make it for three? Not if Rihanna has her way, as “What’s My Name” featuring Drake is making a play to return to No. 1, moving 3-2 this week.

Looking at the rest of the top 5, Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” blasts 5-3; Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” falls 2-4, and Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” rebounds 8-5.  Rounding out the top 10, Rihanna's “Only Girl in the World" is No. 6, “The Time (Dirty Bit)” from the Black Eyed Peas moves 4-8,  Nelly’s “Just a Dream” holds at No. 9 and “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj closes out the week at No 10.

It looks like Diddy Dirty Money has its first hit on its hands as P Diddy’s new trio’s “Coming Home” soars 51-24 to earn  Hot 100 Digital  Gainer honors.

The highest debut belongs to imprisoned rapper T.I., whose “That’s All She Wrote” bows at No. 18 wiht “That’s All She Wrote.”   Also starting their chart assaults this week are Chris Brown’s “No BS” at No. 89, “Bass Down Low” from Dev (best known for a guest spot of “Like A G6.”  “Bass” starts at No. 9-, while “Fall For Your Type” from Jamie Foxx featuring Drake begins at No. 95.
Look for things to remain relatively static on the charts for the next few weeks through the holidays, but they’ll heat back up after the new year.

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<p>Jon Bon Jovi</p>

Jon Bon Jovi

Credit: Mel Evans/AP

Bon Jovi is king of the road for 2010

How did Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift fare?

Bon Jovi tops this year’s list of  biggest money makers on tour, grossing $146.5 million from their 69-show Circle outing.

It marks the second time in the past three years that the rock act has landed at No. 1, according to Billboard. The band got a bit of an unexpected boost from second place act U2, which had to cancel its North American summer tour due to Bono’s back injury. Otherwise, U2 may have topped the list.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Listen: Kanye West takes you to 'Christmas in Harlem'

Someone's getting a lump of coal in his stocking

It’s good to be nice, but it’s way more fun to be naughty. So believes Kanye West, who is now officially the busiest man in show business.  After taking a bit of time off after Swift-gate last year, West has been making up for lost time, releasing tracks every Friday, tweeting every few seconds, putting out what many critics believe is one of the top albums of the year, and now, coming up with a new holiday song, “Christmas in Harlem.”

The slow jam is an amusing slow jam featuring CyHi Da Prynce and Teyana Taylor about rushing around to get to the mall for those last-minute gifts. Plus,  he hints at some presents that no store can provide.

We like the verse delivered as Santa Clause and it’s good to know that his sleigh is faster than a Porsche. But it would have to be to get around the globe in one night, right?

So does the world really need another Christmas song? No, but we do know this: we’ll take this groove over another tired attempt at a new  wanna-be traditional carol by some diva.

We’re also fond of Taylor’s sung verse around the 3-minute mark that sort of sounds like the Brother Johnson’s “Strawberry Letter No. 23.”

Check it out here.  Then go hit the mall, as Kanye suggests, and give a kiss to Santa Claus.

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<p>Susan Boyle</p>

Susan Boyle

Credit: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Does Susan Boyle's 'The Gift' keep on giving on this week's Billboard 200?

T.I.'s 'No Mercy' is the week's top debut

One thing is for sure: Susan Boyle is having a great Christmas. Her holiday-themed sophomore set, “The Gift,” stays at No. 1, gathering its fourth week atop the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The album has now sold more than 1.4 million copies in five weeks, according to Nielsen SoundScan, including 243,000 this week.

Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” holds at No. 2, but sees a sales uptick of 11% to 201,000 copies, according to Billboard.com. “Glee’s” Christmas album sees a tremendous 49% surge to climb 4-3 with sales of 193,000.

At No. 4, T.I.’s “No Mercy” is this week’s highest debut of the week. While the title sells a respectable 159,000, it’s a far cry from his last set, 2008’s “Paper Trail,” which arrived atop the leader board with opening sales of 568,000.

Only one other new title bows in the Top 10: Daft Punk’s score for “Tron: Legacy.” The set comes in at No. 10 with sales of 71,000, which is more than two times the French duo’s previous best week. Additionally “Tron: Legacy” is the first score album to land in the Top 10 since 2005’s “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.”

Another fun fact: With two “Glee” sets in the Top 10 (in addition to the Christmas set,  “Season Two: Volume 4” stands at No. 8),  there are three soundtracks in the top 10 for the second time this year.

Year-to-year numbers continue to be glum. Year-to-date album sales are 291.45 million, down 13% compared to last year.  Digital sales are up from last year, but only by 1%. Year-to-date digital tracks have sold 1.065 billion.

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<p>Alice Cooper is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.</p>

Alice Cooper is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

The 2011 Inductees: Did the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame get it right?

Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Darlene Love make the cut

The official announcement won’t come until Wednesday, but as we hinted at here, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Darlene Love will be the 2011 inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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<p>Greyson Chance</p>

Greyson Chance

Watch: Greyson Chance's video for 'Waiting Outside the Lines'

Does new song surpass his cover of Lady Gaga's 'Paparazzi?'

Move over Justin Bieber, there’s a new guy in town.

We first met Greyson Chance last year when his remake of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” became a YouTube sensation and resulted in his signing a deal with Geffen Records, also home to LG. But he’s not just on Geffen: he’s signed to Ellen Degeneres’ new label, Eleven Eleven, which goes through Guy Oseary’s label at Geffen. Oseary manages Madonna and ran her label Maverick.

Flash forward to several months after Chance’s moment in the sun and the 13-year old Chance has released a three-song EP in anticipation of a full album coming in 2011. First single “Waiting Outside the Lines” is one of those songs that 10-year old girls glom on to like a lifeline as if it were written directly for each one of them individually. It’s a treacly piano ballad about not being afraid to take chances and, apparently, it is so magical, it has the ability to conjure up screaming female tweens who circle around Chance and his piano like bees to honey. No cliche is spared in the video, including the pouring rain at the end (which Chance is so clearly not enjoying).

“I’m here to help you notice the rainbow, because I know what’s in you is out there,” he sings. That’s a lot of weight to carry on his slender little teen shoulders. His voice is serviceable, but I can’t help but feel sadness that all it takes to get a record deal these days is YouTube notoriety. Given that it’s eight months since his version of “Paparazzi” hit YouTube and the best Geffen has squeezed out is a three-song EP (that includes “Paparazzi,” “Waiting Outside the Lines” and a remake of Augustana’s “Fire”), any ability to capture on the excitement from that original YouTube video has long passed. It could also be that it is taking a little longer to develop Chance than expected, although that’s totally a guess on our part.  We’ll know more when the album comes out next year, as well as from how Chance does on tour. He’s headed out to open for Miranda Cosgrove starting in January.  Dates are below the video link.

"Waiting Outside the Lines" Available Now, CD Single in Stores!

2011 TOUR DATES (Supporting Miranda Cosgrove):

DATE        CITY                           VENUE
Jan-24       Kansas City, MO        Uptown              
Jan-25       Minneapolis, MN        State Theatre
Jan-26       Milwaukee, WI           Pabst Theatre
Jan-28       Rosemont, IL             Rosemont Theatre       
Jan-29       Indianapolis, IN          Murat Theatre
Jan-30       Cleveland, OH           Playhouse Square Center- State Theatre
Feb- 1        Detroit, MI                 The Fillmore
Feb-2         Munhall, PA               Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead
Feb-4         Wallingford, CT         Oakdale Theatre
Feb-5         New York, NY            Beacon Theatre
Feb-6         Glenside, PA             Keswick Theatre
Feb-9         Bethesda, MD           Music Center at Stathmore
Feb-10       Lowell, MA                Lowell Auditorium
Feb-12       Montclair, NJ             Wellmont Theatre
Feb-13       Westbury, NY            Theater at Westbury
Feb-15       Atlanta, GA                Center Stage
Feb-16       Tampa, FL                 Tampa Theatre
Feb-17       Orlando, FL               Hard Rock
Feb-20       Houston, TX              House of Blues
Feb-23       Tempe, AZ                 Marquee Theater
Feb-24       Anaheim, CA             House of Blues

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<p>Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly</p>

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly

Watch: Holiday Cheer from Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly

It's another remake of the Bowie/Crosby classic 'Little Drummer Boy'

We don’t really know what has inspired the homages to Bing Crosby/David Bowie’s awkward duet of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” that’s since turned into a classic, but we just got our second remake in as many weeks.

Following Jack Black/Jason Segal’s far superior animated version, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have served up their own Christmas salute to odd couple. Ferrell and Reilly go pretty much for a note-for-note recreation of the Crosby/Bowie TV special--down to the baby blue sweater-- but somehow manage to make it even creepier than the original. 

They only veer off at the end, when fake Bowie and Bing’s conversation ends on a less than peaceful note. It’s pretty tame by “Funny or Die” standards and pretty unfunny, but if you’re a Ferrell or Reilly fan, you may find it amusing. We’ve provided the original underneath the new version, in case you’re feeling old school.

[Watch the videos after the jump...]

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<p>Diddy Dirty Money</p>

Diddy Dirty Money

Watch: Diddy Dirty Money and Swizz Beatz get their 'Ass on the Dance Floor'

Diddy creates a disco apocalypse

Is this his early Christmas present to his fans? Diddy just released his third video in as many weeks from his new album, “Last Train to Paris.”  For “Ass on the Dance Floor,” director Colin Tilley creates an apocalyptic winter wonderland complete with ice floats, dark, claustrophobic imagery.

We also love how Diddy and Swizz Beatz, whose refrain here totally makes the song, are work as can be, completely bundled up, but the Dawn and Kalenna (the two women in Diddy Dirty Money) are strolled around in mini skirts with only mink shrugs to keep them warm. Thank God it’s a set and not the real thing. Brrrr.

 Diddy doesn’t really show up until his rap around 2:50. To his credit, he’s created a song that doesn’t really need him. We’re not sure that’s what he meant to do. Anyway, enjoy the great beat and get your ass on the dance floor.


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<p>Ciara, &quot;Basic Instinct&quot;</p>

Ciara, "Basic Instinct"

Michael Jackson, R.Kelly, Diddy and Crystal Bowersox lead Dec. 14 release slate

Ciara and Tank also weigh in on R&B-heavy week

R&B albums dominate the last major release date before Christmas, as we get new sets from Ciara, R. Kelly, and Diddy Dirty Money. Plus, a posthumous Michael Jackson set arrives for the holidays, as does the major label debut from "American Idol" runner up Crystal Bowersox.

Crystal Bowersox, “Farmer’s Daughter” (19 Recordings/Jive): Season 9 “American Idol” runner-up shows off her singer/songwriter chops by penning 10 of the 12 songs on her Jive debut. Read review here.

Greyson Chance, “Waiting Outside the Lines” (ElevenEleven/Guy Oseary/Geffen): In case you can’t wait for his full-length album next year, high school kid who caused an YouTube sensation with his cover of Lady GaGa’s “Paparazzi” puts out three songs just in time for Christmas, including, of course, “Paparazzi” and first single, “Waiting Outside the Lines.”

Ciara, “Basic Instinct” (LaFace): It’s barely been a year since her last album, “Fantasy Ride,” but the R&B/pop singer is already back. First single, “Ride,” came out way back in April, and two other singles have already hit radio. In her official bio, she explains her motivation:  “Ultimately, Ciara hopes to set herself and her family up so they never have commercial concerns. Planning for tomorrow, Ciara focuses on handling her business today. I talk to my team, I say, “We got to get that money’.” It’s up to you whether you want to help her out or not.

Diddy Dirty Money, “Last Train to Paris” (Bad Boy/Atlantic):
It’s P Diddy and two female singers plus a train-load of his famous friends on his fifth studio album. See if you can find them buried underneath contributions from Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Lil wayne, Drake and nearly a dozen more. Four tracks on the set, which Diddy describes as “electro-hip-hop-soul-funk,” have already been released, including R&B hit “Hello Good Morning” featuring T.I.

Michael Jackson, “Michael” (Epic): MJ’s first posthumous album filled with all previously-unreleased treats. The work spans from way back to the “Thriller” era up to shortly before his 2009 death. Producers Akon and Teddy Riley are among those who completed the 10 tunes.

R. Kelly, “Love Letter” (Jive): Kelly shows off his romantic side on this set, inspired by such influences as Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. First single, “When a Woman Loves,” received a Grammy nomination for best traditional R&B vocal performance.

Leona Lewis, “The Labyrinth Tour: Live from the O2,” (J): British thrush’s light has dimmed Stateside slightly, but not her voice. It remains strong and vibrant on this live set from London’s O2 arena.

Tank, Now or Never” (Atlantic):
His switch from Blackstreet to Atlantic slowed the release of the R&B singers for a hot minute, but he’s back with a suite of sexy tunes. Clothing optional.

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<p>Crystal Bowersox, &quot;Farmer's Daughter&quot;</p>

Crystal Bowersox, "Farmer's Daughter"

Album Review: Crystal Bowersox's 'Farmer's Daughter'

Does the 'American Idol' runner up sow the seeds for success?

American Idol” has been going through growing pains lately. Ratings for the past season were down, they’re rearranging judges and, in the most obvious sign of viewer fatigue, albums from contestants are sinking like a stone.

The most obvious casualty is Season Nine winner Lee DeWyze, whose “Live It Up,” has sold less than 70,000 in its first three weeks and is falling fast. Does a similar fate await runner up Crystal Bowersox with her debut, “Farmer’s Daughter” out Dec. 14?

Hopefully not because it deserves better, although we say that we some reservations. There are some fine tracks on here-- just enough to make me wish that the album were stronger than it is because there is promise as Bowersox attempts to show us she is a singer/songwriter worth taking seriously. Bowersox has a lovely voice and can belt at times. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her idols Janis Joplin and Melissa Etheridge, but, unfortunately, she has none of their natural grit. There are also a number of misfires that prevent the album from being all it could be.

The album opens with  “Whatever happened to good old rock and roll,” the first line of the catchy “Ridin’ With the Radio.”  She goes on to sing “The shit that they play now, it just don’t feel like it should.” Suggestion No. 1: when you’re a new artist, it might be smart to not piss off the radio folks that you’re hoping will play your music right from the start.  I’m sure the intent was to be all rebellious and declare her authenticity because she’s got a song (“Ooh, look how edgy Crystal is!”) and she’s going to just sing it, but the minute she appeared on “American Idol,” she showed a certain willingness to play the game.

[More after the jump...]

Another issue is sequencing. When the second song on the album is a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” that sends out a bit of distress signal that there wasn’t enough strong glue to hold the album together. On a debut, you pull out a cover like that for the last position on the album or a bonus track. I could be wrong, but there seems to be no connection between Bowersox and the song--she didn’t perform it on “AI.”  It’s an odd choice for an album that is  intensely self-reflective.

Indeed, “Farmer’s Daughter” is a treasure trove of confessions and personal moments: she even includes “Mason” here, a song she and her husband sang to each other at their October wedding.  Bowersox wrote eight of the songs by herself and co-wrote two others. She has moments of strong songcraft, such as on the top-tapping delightful “Lonely,” a bouncy track that sounds straight off a Sugarland album. She also sings of the terrible abuse she suffered and this is where there seems to be the biggest disconnect. On the title track (and first single), she sings “When you broke bones, I told the school I fell down the stairs.”  A recounting of such a horrible, intolerable childhood should evoke a much stronger, punch-in-the-gut response than it does, but because it’s delivered like every other line in the song, it doesn’t.

And that’s the ultimate problem with “Farmer’s Daughter.”  To Bowersox and producer David Bendeth’s credit, this album sounds exactly like the album she wanted to make and yet, oddly,  the emotional connection to the songs just isn’t there. I don’t think we’re going to have Bowersox coming back in six months saying she didn’t get her way on here (despite the presence of a Kara DioGuardi/Chad Kroeger song that doesn’t add anything to the album). The album is folkie in spots where it should be, bluesy when Bowersox clearly wants it to be, such as on “Speak Now” (not to be confused with Taylor Swift’s song and track of the same name), and pure pop when it should be. There’s nothing on here that doesn’t sound authentically hers, and yet none of it resonates the way it should. Here’s hoping she gets another chance because there’s talent her, but just like any farmer knows, every crop develops in its own time and maybe the songs here were harvested a bit too soon.

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