<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

Listen: Justin Bieber's new single, 'Pray' from 'My Worlds Acoustic'

Track wishes for a better world

Justin Bieber shows his sensitive side on “Pray,” the only new song on his forthcoming “My Worlds Acoustic” album.

The song is a prayer for the world as he tosses and turns during a sleepless night while he contemplates the horrors that he sees on TV:  “children are crying, soldiers are dying, some people don’t have a home.” He wants to know how “I can make a change.”

It’s an uplifting anthem that’s totally age appropriate and may encourage Beliebers to question how they can give back. We can also see church youth groups across the globe waving their hands back and forth in the air as they sing along. 

We’re a little curious about the line “I pray for the life not started,” could be construed as  some kind of pro-life statement. It doesn’t seem like he’d take on such a lightning rod issue, but maybe he feels strongly about the topic already.   Plus, some non-religious parents may object to their children being told to pray.

It’s easy to be cynical about Justin Bieber, but as someone who remembers clearly her crushes when she was 10 or so on teen idols, I’m totally Team Bieber.  Sure, there are kids at that age who are already into acts like My Chemical Romance, but for lots of girls, Bieber is their gateway to more sophisticated music and he’s making music just for them. When the message is as positive as this one, what can be wrong with that?

"My Worlds Acoustic," out Nov. 26, includes nine acoustic versions of songs from "My World" and "My World 2.0" as well as "Pray."  It is available through WalMart and Bieber's website.


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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Susan Boyle and Taylor Swift duke it out for No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Will Boyle end Swift's reign at No. 1 with 'The Gift?'

It’s a far cry from her opening salvo of 701,000 last year with “I Dreamed a Dream,” but Susan Boyle will come in at No. 1 next week on the BIllboard 200 with her holiday set, “The Gift.”

The collection is poised to sell up to 275,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. There’s a slight chance that Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” will retain the top spot for the third week in a row if she receives a surge from her CMA Awards performance of “Back to December.” Swift’s  slated to sell up to 250,000, which will move “Speak Now” past the 1.6 million mark in three weeks.

New releases dot the Top 10 as Kid Cudi’s “Man on the Moon ll: The Legend of Mr. Rager” could also top the 200,000 mark.

After that, sales drop off drastically as as much as 100,000 copies separate Kid Cudi’s No. 3 entry from “Now 36’s” No. 4 bow with sales of around 85,000 units. Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party”  will likely drop 2 to 5, while Bon Jovi’s “Greatest Hits” launches at No. 6 (after coming in at No. 1 across Europe) and Reba McEntire’s latest, “All the Woman I Am,” starts at No. 7.  

The viral success of Cee Lo’s “F*** You” (and the clean radio version, “Forget You”) aren’t enough to lift the artist’s “The Lady Killer” into the Top 10. Right now, it looks like the album will have to settle for No. 11.

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<p>Rihanna performing at the MTV European Music Awards</p>

Rihanna performing at the MTV European Music Awards

Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Taylor, Rihanna and Miranda rule on Music Power Rankings

Who else joins the ladies this week?

In only two weeks, Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” has become the fifth biggest selling album of 2010. The singer’s third album has surpassed the 1.4 million mark. The only question is if it can catch Eminem’s “Recovery” for the top seller of the year. 

But she’s not the only female artist with reason to celebrate this week. Both Miranda Lambert and Rihanna reach new career heights.

1) Taylor Swift (two weeks ago, No. 1): She spends another week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and becomes the youngest artist to even win the country songwriter of the year award from BMI.  Other young’uns who won the award? Bill Anderson when he was  23 and Johnny Cash when he was 24 in 1956. She’s in good company.

2) Miranda Lambert (not ranked):There’s a new country queen and her name’s Miranda.  Lambert snares three awards at this week’s CMA Awards, including the coveted album of the year. Also not too shabby: her fiance, Blake Shelton, takes home two. We want to celebrate with them.

3) Rihanna (not ranked): After throwing fans a curveball with “Rated R,”  Rihanna seems back on track as she scores her 8th No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 as “What’s My Name” jumps 59 spaces to No. 1, while “Only Girl (in the World)” lands at No. 4.

4) “Glee” (not ranked): 
Gleeks rejoice:  The show’s rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” is set to sell as many as 175,000 copies this week, making it the second best sales week for a “Glee” single since the hit show’s first single, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” in May 2009.

5) Michael Jackson (No. 3): Almost a year and a half after his death, his estate announces plans of an album of new material, simply titled “Michael.” Projected first week sales of the Dec. 14 album are 400,000 copies. King of Pop indeed.

6) Roger Faxon (not ranked):  Following owner Terra Firma’s loss in its lawsuit against Citigroup, EMI titan tries to quell concerns among the rank and file by insisting that the company is in no danger of bankruptcy or of selling off individual divisions.

7) Garth Brooks (No. 5): The country superstar sells out nine shows in Nashville, raising $3.5 million for flood relief.

8) Queen (not ranked): Twenty years after lead singer Freddie Mercury’s death, Queen signs a new album deal with Universal Music Group. Plus, with Sasha Baron Cohen set to play Mercury in a biopic. As Queen continues to rock us.

9) Thirty Seconds to Mars (not ranked):
In topsy-turvy world, the Jared Leto-led band beats Linkin Park, Kings of Leon and Muse for best rock band at MTV Europe Music Awards.

10) Kanye West (not ranked):
Taylor Swift can rest easy, Kanye has a new target:  The “Today” Show. After a confrontational interview with Matt Lauer, West cancels a performance on the morning show...although the rapper tweets the performance was never a go.

Music Power Rankings appear every Friday.

Previous Music Power Rankings

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<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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