<p>Keri Hilson</p>

Keri Hilson

Watch: Keri Hilson's 'Pretty Girl Rock' video

Don't hate her because she's beautiful

Sometimes a good video can make a mediocre song much more interesting. Such is the case with Keri Hilson’s clip for “Pretty Girl Rock.” In the video, Hilson walks us through a  very brief and selective history of influential female music makers in history, while the “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” refrain, made popular in an ‘80s commercial for Pantene, repeats endlessly.

She pays homage to Josephine Baker in the beginning, although she rocks some moves that Baker would never have done in public. “Back that think up, Josie!” We don’t think so.

She then moves into the ‘40s with a salute to the girl groups who kept our WW ll troops excited about something to come home to  She then advances to the Supremes and  a solo Miss Diana Ross, from her disco era.  Although the song’s “all the ladies” line is a clear homage to Beyonce, it’s Janet Jackson and the ladies from TLC who get the most love in the salutes to “Rhythm Nation” and “Creep.”

It’s a fun video. The song, however, remains absolutely paper thin and not even remotely girl-empowering. As my colleague Katie Hasty hilariously wrote when the single -- written by Ne-Yo -- came out, it’s full of mixed messages, so it’s best not to think too hard about it and just "rock, rock, rock." Especially if you're pretty. And you know you are.

Hilson’s new album, “No Boys Allowed,” comes out Nov. 30.


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Credit: Sony/Epic

Michael Jackson's 'Michael' tracklist includes Akon, 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz cameos

When can you hear first single, Akon-produced 'Hold My Hand?'

“Hold My Hand,” the first “official” single from Michael Jackson’s album, “Michael,”  will be released on Monday, Nov. 15, via Jacko’s website, www.michaeljackson.com.

The tune, a duet with Akon, follows “Breaking News,” which some members of the Jackson family have disavowed, questioning whether the vocals are his (despite the his website posting the song after it leaked elsewhere.)

Jackson and Akon recorded “Hold My Hand” in 2007, but didn’t complete it. Akon, according to MJ’s website, went back into the studio recently to finish the track. “The world was not ready to hear ‘Hold My Hand’ when it leaked a couple of years ago,” Akon said in a statement. “But the time has definitely come; now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song.”

The song precedes the Dec. 14 release of  “Michael,” which features 10 tracks the performer worked on before his June 2009 death with such collaborators as 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz.

Here is the tracklist for “Michael”:

1. Hold My Hand (Duet with Akon)
2. Hollywood Tonight
3. Keep Your Head Up
4. (I Like) The Way You Love Me
5. Monster (Featuring 50 Cent)
6. Best Of Joy
7. Breaking News
8. (I Can’t Make It) Another Day (Featuring Lenny Kravitz)
9. Behind The Mask
10. Much Too Soon

The album artwork features images of Jackson through the ages from his “Beat It” era on, even throwing a shout out to “USA for Africa.” The largest image, however, is Jackson in an Elizabethan jacket with a crown hovering over his head. King of Pop, indeed.

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Credit: AP

Grammy winner Adele reveals details about new album, '21'

'21' drops on 22 of February

Last week we gave a preview of Adele’s new album, now we can give you more details.  220;21” will come out Feb. 22. The name reflects that age the now 22-year old Adele was when she wrote the bulk of the album. Fans of the two-time Grammy winner will recall that her Sony debut was titled “19.” We’re sensing a theme.

Adele recorded the new set in Malibu and London, working with producers and songwriters Rick Rubin, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder Dan Wilson and Fraser T. Smith.

As we reported here, first single, “Rolling in the Deep,” was influenced by Adele’s new-found love for Wanda Jackson. The video, directed by Sam Brown, will debut in December.

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<p>Shirley Manson in the iconic video for &quot;Stupid Girl.&quot;</p>

Shirley Manson in the iconic video for "Stupid Girl."

We're not trash talking: Garbage reunites

Band is recording first album in five years

Garbage has reunited and is recording its first album since 2005’s “Bleed Like Me.”

Lead singer Shirley Manson confirmed the news to during a talk at the University of the West of Scotland, reports Heartland Scotland. That makes sense since Manson is a wee lass. “I’m working on a record right now with the band. We’ve recorded quite a lot, but it’s difficult to quantify.” She also added that they band would like to tour, but “we’re just winging it right now.”  The quartet also includes producer Butch Vig.

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Susan Boyle and Cee Lo lead Nov. 9 new releases

Plus a tribute to country queen Loretta Lynn with Kid Rock and Carrie Underwood

Could Susan Boyle knock Taylor Swift off her throne with a Christmas album?  Boyle tops this week of new releases that also include’s Cee Lo’s first solo album in years and a star-studded set to the very deserving Loretta Lynn.

Anita Baker, “21st Century Love” (Blue Note): Smooth singer is joined by some expected guests, like Four Play, and some unexpected, hello Snoop Dogg!

Susan Boyle, “The Gift” (Syco Music/Sony BMG): She couldn’t perform Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” on “America’s Got Talent, “ but Reed can’t stop her from performing it on this, her first holiday set...if you consider Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” a Christmas song. Seriously, the rest of the repertoire is more familiar seasonal fare, such as “Do You Hear What I Hear.”

Cee Lo Green
, “The Lady Killer” (Elektra/Atlantic): Following first single, “F*** You” (or “Forget You” depending upon where you heard it), the rest of Green’s first solo album since 2004 follows the trajectory of a love, in all its forms. It never sounded so good.

Quincy Jones, “Q: Soul Bossa Nostra” (Qwest/Interscope): Artists such as Akon, Ludacris, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Jamie Foxx pay tribute to the legendary producer by remaking songs from his voluminous catalog. First single is Akon’s interpretation of the Brothers Johnson 1997 tune, “Strawberry Letter 23.”

Kid Cudi, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” (G.O.O.D Music/ Universal Motown): Mary J. Blige and Kanye West join  the troubled Cudi on his sophomore slate. The set is off to a slow slate: first single “Revofev,” didn’t chart, but “Erase Me” debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Dave Matthews Band, “Live in New York City” (RCA): Guess what? It’s a live album from Dave Matthews from his July 17, 2010 concert at Citi Field. Doesn’t anyone who wants a DMB live recording just tape it on the spot?

Reba McEntire,
“All the Women I Am” (Valory Music Group): Country superstar releases her 34th album, which includes the hit “Turn on the Radio.” That tune is McEntire’s 59th Top 10, more than any other country female.

Various Artists, “Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn” (Columbia Nashville): Artists must have been lining up around the block to pay homage to one of the most seminal country singers ever. Among the artists on the set are Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride and others.

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

Watch: Justin Bieber's new clip for 'Never Say Never'

Acoustic version debuts during World Series

Justin Bieber shows off his sporty side on this video from “Never Say Never,” which premiered during the World Series Saturday night--hence the Rangers and Giants footage.  We also like how Bieber is wearing merch from both team. We spot a future politician.

The acoustic tune will be featured on Bieber’s “Unplugged Acoustic” set, out Nov. 23.  The original of the song was featured on the “Karate Kid” soundtrack. "Unplugged" includes nine acoustic versions from "My World" and "My World 2.0," as well as a new song, "Pray."

What do you think of Sporty B?


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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Richard Drew/AP

Taylor Swift surpasses million mark, the only question is by how much

Set could bypass Lil Wayne and possibly 50 Cent and Garth Brooks

We won’t get the official numbers until Wednesday, but sources are saying that Taylor Swift’s  third album, “Speak Now,” will definitely surpass the million mark in its first week of release.

That means it will be the best seller, for sure, since Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” sold  1,006,000 in its first week in June 2008, according to Billboard,  it could also possibly be bigger than 50 Cent’s “The Massacre,” which moved 1,141,000 units in March 2005. She could also set the mark for the best-selling first week for a country artist. Garth Brooks' "Double Live" current holds the record at 1,085,000.

Hits Daily Double suggests that Swift’s album will set another record in terms of total percentage of overall sales:  “Speak Now” will account for as much as 18% of all sales for the week.  The previous record belongs to NSYNC, whose “No Strings Attached”  accounted for 15.3% of total sales. To put things into perspective, “No Strings Attached” sold 2.4 million copies in its first week.

In all likelihood, as album sales continue to decline, “Speak Now” will be the last album to go into seven figures. The only possible  set coming up that could also sell more than 1 million the first week is Lady Gaga’s new album, slated for the first quarter, 2011.

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<p>Mariah Carey</p>

Mariah Carey

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Mariah Carey, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Brad Paisley lead Nov. 2 releases

Good Charlotte and Huey Lewis also return

Taylor Swift can rest easy. While there are some lovely offerings out Nov. 2, no new release will snare the top spot. Having said that,  country stars Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean lead the charge, while veterans Elvis Costello and Neil Diamond also bring new albums.

Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party” (Broken Bow): The ACM’s top new male vocalist, best known for such hits as “She’s Country” and “Hicktown,” returns with his latest set that includes a duet with Kelly Clarkson.

Black Dub, “Black Dub” (Jive): Eclectic quartet led by producer/artist Daniel Lanois springs all over the rock landscape with touches of soul and dub. Foursome also includes Trixie Whitley, the daughter of the late musician, Chris Whitley.

Mariah Carey, ”Merry Christmas II You” (Island Def Jam): While Carey takes care of her impending baby bundle, she delivers another gift for her lambs: her second Christmas album features four originals alongsidemore traditional fare such as “The First Noel,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

Elvis Costello
, “National Ransom” (Concord/Hear Music): Costello recorded this 16-tune album in Los Angeles and Nashville with producer T Bone Burnett.  Both The Imposters and The Sugarcanes back up Costello here, while guests include Vince Gill and Leon Russell.

Neil Diamond
, “Dreams” (Columbia): A great songwriter turns to his favorite songwriters for a collection of Diamond’s favorite tunes. Making the cut are The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” The Eagles’ “Desperado,”  and several others.

Brian Eno, “Small Craft on a Milk Sea” (Warp): The latest from the ambient music genius comes in a multitude of configurations, but the focus is on music created by Eno with collaborators Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams. The inspiration was film scores.

Good Charlotte, “Cardiology” (Capitol): Ten years after its debut, Good Charlotte--otherwise known as the Madden Bros., return with their first album in a few years and their debut disc for Capitol.

Huey Lewis and the News, “Soulsville” (W.O.W.): Lewis and his band release their first album in nine years as they look back at 14 classic songs from the Stax Records’ vault first made famous by the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes.

Matt and Kim, “Sidewalks” (Fader): Hipster duo known for their energetic live show releases its third set of dance punk.

Paul McCartney & Wings, "Band on the Run"  (Hear Music)  Wings' 1973 masterwork gets the deluxe reissue treatment complete with new tracks and a DVD. A must for McCartney fans.

N.E.R.D., “Nothing” (Interscope): Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shae Haley release their fourth effort, which gets its groove on and draws inspiration from such acts as The Doors and America.

Brad Paisley, “Hits Alive” (Arista Nashville): Talent country superstar’s new two-disc set features studio versions of many of this biggest hits, while disc two captures his live performances of three of the songs on disc one, as well as a number of other hits that take flight in a concert setting.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Richard Drew/AP

Chart preview: Taylor Swift leads the Billboard 200 over Sugarland by how much?

Has there ever been a bigger gap between No. 1 and No. 2?

Will she or won’t she hit the million mark? That’s the only question remaining regarding Taylor Swift’s entry at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week. 

The country queen’s “Speak Now”  is on target to sell between 975,000 and 1 million, according to Hits Daily Double.  Her nearest competitor is the current No. 1, Sugarland’s “The Incredible Machine,” which will sell one/tenth of “Speak Now.” That has to be the highest disparity between No. 1 and No. 2 that we’ve ever seen.

This week’s No. 2, Kings of Leon’s “Come Around Sundown,” slips to No. 3, while this week’s No. 3, Elton John and Leon Russell’s “ The Union” slides to No. 7.

For the first time in a long time, there are likely to be only two debuts in the top 10, as Michael Buble’s “Hollywood: The Deluxe EP” should come in at No. 10, although The Band Perry could surge and knock him to No. 11.

The rest of the Top 10 includes Lil Wayne’s “I Am Not a Human Being” continues doing well a few weeks after release, lodging at No. 4, while this year’s top seller so far, Eminem’s “Recovery,” hangs in there at No. 5.


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<p>Meredith Veira dressed as Lady Gaga for Halloween on the &quot;Today&quot; show, Oct. 29</p>

Meredith Veira dressed as Lady Gaga for Halloween on the "Today" show, Oct. 29

Credit: AP Photo

Music Power Rankings: Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga battle it out for world supremacy

Michael Jackson and Garth Brooks also make the list

Is it really any surprise to find Tay-Tay at the top of the leader board this week? Has there been any other story than can the country-crossover pop princess be the first artist to hit the million mark since 2008? Well, we found a few others, Taylor Swift's reign begins anew as we predict the album become the top seller of the year, surpassing Eminem's "Recovery." 

1. Taylor Swift (last week, No. 4): A beautifully orchestrated marketing campaign, a strong album, an artist who is still gaining fans = the first album to potentially sell 1 million in one week in years AND most likely, the very last.

2. Lady Gaga (not ranked):
  She becomes the first artist to register 1 billion views on YouTube beating Justin Bieber and his band of Beliebers to the record. Who knew all her Little Monsters had opposable thumbs and internet connections.

3. Michael Jackson (not ranked):
  The gloved one tops Forbes Richest Dead Celebrity list with grosses (perfect word)  of $275 million.As the cynical saying goes, “Death is a good career move.”

4. Madonna (not ranked): 
The material girl is opening Hard Candy Fitness, a chain of gyms around the world, starting with Mexico City  in November. Really? Strike a pose.

5. Garth Brooks (not ranked): Who else can get the all the entire political machinery from Nashville mayor to the two U.S. senators to come out for a press conference to announce a concert for flood relief?  He’s the ultimate Tennessee Titan via Oklahoma

6. Take That (not ranked): British boy band’s first tour in 15 years crashes U.K. ticketing sites with Ticketmaster calling the demand twice as high as it was for Michael Jackson’s “This is It” tour.  There’s a good Robbie Williams joke in there somewhere, I just don’t have it.

7. U2 (not ranked): The Irish boys make plans to return to Nashville for the first time in 29 years to play Vanderbilt Stadium.  By the time the 360 tour wraps next year, Billboard predicts it will be the highest grossing tour of all time. Maybe by then it will have broken even.

8. The Foo Fighters (not ranked): The group’s seventh album, not out until next year, is already building a huge buzz because it reunites Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic for the first time since they cut Nirvana’s last song in 1993 and pairs the two with “Nevermind” producer Butch Vig.  This little nugget of good news fits perfectly into my heart-shaped box.

9. CitiGroup (not ranked):
As the trial between Citi Group and EMI owner Terra Firma heats up, the New York judge deals Terra Firma a horrific blow by disallowing Terra Firma to seek $6.4 billion in damages based on a speculative theory of lost profits. Will the four major label companies be reduced to three within six months? Some of us actually remember when there were six.

10. Technology (not ranked):  Sony stops making the Walkman and Panasonic quits manufacturing the Technics turntable.  My 10-year old self just died a little  inside.

Music Power Rankings appear every Friday.

Last week's list

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