<p>Kings of Leon</p>

Kings of Leon

Credit: Jack Plunkett/AP

Kings of Leon, Sugarland, Miley and Elton John dominate Oct. 19 release slate

Shakira, Phish's Mike Gordon, Rod Stewart and Liz Phair also represent

Kings of Leon returns with new music, “Come Around Sundown,” in a week chock-full of big names.  They’re joined by sets from Sugarland, as well as Elton John and his hero Leon Russell. Rod Stewart revisits the Great American songbook for the fifth time, Shakira shakes her hips again and Liz Phair releases her first set in five years.

Miley Cyrus, “Hannah Montana Forever” (Walt Disney): It’s just a title Miley. Seriously, as Cyrus gets ready to leave her alter-ego behind forever, she takes one more spin around the TV set with this soundtrack that includes collaborations with Iyaz, Sheryl Crow and dad Billy Ray Cyrus and covers all four seasons of the hit show. (Doesn’t it feel like it’s been on for at least a dozen years?)

Mike Gordon, “Moss” (Rounder): Phish bassist releases third solo set, although his Phish-mates are never far away: both Page McConnell and Jon Fishman make appearances.

Elton John/Leon Russell, “The Union” (Decca): John pairs with one of his early idols, Leon Russell, for this stripped-down T Bone Burnett-produced collection of largely acoustic tunes penned by John, Russell and John’s longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. Read review here.

Kings of Leon, “Come Around Sundown” (RCA): The Followill brothers follow up the ultra-successful “Only By the Night” with a set recorded in New York and that drummer Nathan Followill told Hitfix included some tracks that could be considered “beachy.” Read the review here.

Liz Phair, “Funstyle” (Rocket Science): Released digital this summer, “Funstyle” sees its physical release come to light; her first album in five years. The two-CD set features her rapping as well as returning to her singer/songwriter stripped down roots.

Shakira, “Sale el Sol” (Sony Music Latin): Shakira and her hips shake to Latin rhythms in this primarily Spanish set, the follow-up to the largely electronic, dance-oriented “She Wolf.” The album captures both the glories and sorrows of love with the help of Pitbull and Rene Perez Joglar from Calle 13. Check out her cover of The xx’s “Islands.”

Rod Stewart, “Fly Me to the Moon: The Great American Songbook, Vol. V” (J): After a five-year hiatus, Rod the Mod tackles another set of classic American tunes, including “Moon River,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Beyond the Sea,” and the title track.

Sugarland, “the Incredible Machine” (Mercury Nashville): Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush’s fourth studio album is a high-volume affair full of arena rock-sized anthems and quirky twists and turns. Nettles’ voice is capable of tackling all, but some restraint may have been a nice addition. Read review here.

Third Day, “Move” (Essential): Leading Christian rock group follows up 2208’s “Revelation” with this slab of southern-flavored rock, including the anthemic “Lift Up Your Face.”

Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Music Power Rankings: Taylor Swift Speaks Now and Loudly

Eminem and Lady Antebellum make the list too

Get ready for a new Taylor Swift assault. As the countdown continues to the Oct. 25 release of her third album, “Speak Now,”  the excitement builds.  How big a deal is this?  We’ll tell you. On release day, Swift will host a private performance for contest winners around the world at the United Nations. Yes, the New York City-based body that usually concerns itself with wars and world affairs.

1) Taylor Swift (last week, not ranked):
As “Speak Now,”  powers its way onto the Hot 100 to bow at No. 8 based almost 100% on digital sales, Taylor Swift sets the record for most debuts in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in the chart’s history. Forever hold your piece.

2) Apple (No. 9):
Steve Jobs’ company can do no wrong as industry insiders talk up its possible subscription service over those potentially offered by Google or Spotify and the stock reaches an all-time high this week of $299.50. 

3) Toby Keith (not ranked): Country gunslinger who couldn’t go pop even with firecrackers in his mouth, as the saying goes, tops the Billboard 200 for the fourth time with “Bullets in the Gun.”  On the dubious honor side: His 71,000 tally is the lowest ever sum for a title debuting at No. 1. The real winner: Country music which lands the top album for three weeks in a row.

4) eMusic (not ranked):
The online music store inks a sweet deal to license 250,000 tracks from the Universal Music Group catalog. Is that what you call eHarmony?

5) Eminem and Lady Antebellum (not ranked):
The two have the pair of top selling albums in the country this year, so it makes sense that they both are the big winners in the American Music Award nominations with five nods each.

6) Lil Wayne (not ranked):  He gets more done in jail in a week than most artists do in a year. Now he’s bundling “I Am Not Free,” which will likely come in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week, with “DefJam Rapstar” this week.  It’s amazing what happens when you’re forced to focus.

7. VEVO (not ranked): 
The Universal/Sony-owned online video outlet continues to soar as it tops all music sites in September.  Take that, MTV.

 8. Prince (not ranked):
The Purple One has always had impeccable taste in music (well, okay, let’s forgive him Mayte) and now he’s taking Janelle Monae, Mint Condition, Esperanza Spalding and Cassandra Wilson on the road in the “Welcome 2 America” tour, starting in December.  Our only comment: Go. In a little red corvette, if possible.

9. Big Time Rush (not ranked):  Unless you have little girls, you’ve probably never heard of BTR, the boy band from the Nickelodeon TV show of the same name. With zero mainstream visibility, BTR will come in at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 this week. The Jonas Bros. are dying a little bit inside.

10. T.I. (not ranked):
Rapper helps talk a suicidal man off a 22-story ledge in Atlanta as he could face heading back to prison following a probation hearing on Friday.  Seems like he took his own song, “Got Your Back,” literally.

Music Power Rankings appears every Friday.  What do you think of this week's rankings?  Share your thoughts below.

Last week's power rankings



Read Full Post
<p>Eminem and Lil Wayne</p>

Eminem and Lil Wayne

Credit: AP Photo

What rapper could rebound to No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200?

Lil Wayne or Eminem?

Look for a big jump on next week’s Billboard 200 as Lil Wayne’s “I am Not a Human Being” could soar 16-1. Why the jump after it dropped from No. 2 last week? Because Lil Wayne released the album as a digital-only product first and the title sold enough to come in at No. 2. It then dropped to 16, but with the physical component added this week, it should rise again. It’s a smart trick and an interesting experiment as digital album sales start to outweigh physical ones.

Going into the weekend, it looks like Weezy has a commanding enough lead to secure the top spot: his biggest challenger is Darius Rucker, whose “Charleston, SC 1966” is on target to sell up to 80,000, but that’s still 15,000 less than Lil Wayne’s projected sales, according to Hits Daily Double.

Coming in at No. 3 will likely be Big Time Rush, the boy band from the Nickelodeon show of the same name, with sales of up to 65,000.

Eminem’s “Recovery,” which is stuck like glue in Billboard 200’s top 5, will hang in there to claim the No. 4 spot.

As we’ve noticed, country music is really holding its own this year with Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” second only to “Recovery” as the top seller of the year. The genre’s primacy shows on next week’s chart:  In addition to Rucker, four other Top 10 titles are sporting cowboy hats: Kenny Chesney’s former No. 1, “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” is poised to round out the Top 5, although it could have to settle for No. 6 as newcomers The Band Perry vie for the No. 5 spot with their self-titled debut. Zac Brown Band, who topped the chart three weeks ago, is in a dead heat with this week’s chart topper, Toby Keith, for the No. 7 slot.

The only other debut in the Top 10 will possibly be “For We Are Many,” the latest from metal core band All That Remains.

Read Full Post


Credit: AP Photo

Prince launches 'Welcome 2 America' tour with Janelle Monae and others

We don't know when or where, but it's coming so get ready

Prince’s Welcome 2 America tour is coming to a city near you... maybe.  On Thursday,  the Purple One announced from the Apollo Theatre stage in Harlem that he was mounting a tour featuring some of his favorite acts: Janelle Monae,  jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, R&B group Mint Condition, Lelah Hathaway, Sheila E, Esperanza Spalding and James Brown’s legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker.

He left out small details like any venues or cities other than that the tour will start in December. He’ll serve as Master of Ceremonies and that he and the New Power Generation will also play each gig.

“If you've been to one of my shows, then you know what time it is,” Prince told the crowd, according to a statement. “You need to come early and come often because every time we play it's always something new. I got a lot of hits. Bring friends, bring children, and bring foot spray because it's gonna be funky.”  Okay, for any of us who have been to a Prince show (and if you haven’t, you need to), he’s always late so you don’t need to come early. The foot spray is optional.

This sounds like an incredible revue. What we love about the diverse bill is that that only obvious thing unifying these acts is that they are all great at what they do and that’s what music should be about. No genres or gender boundaries, just great sounds.

Prince also announced that he will auction off the guitar he plays on the tour to benefit Harlem Children’s Zone.

Read Full Post


Credit: AP

Listen: Ke$ha's new single 'We R Who We R'

It's a slow, serious ballad... We kid!

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, few of us had heard of a creature named Ke$ha.  Now, she already has an instantly identifiable sound ready-made for every working girl (no, not that kind) who lives for 5 p.m. so she can leave the office and start the weekend...even if it’s only Tuesday.

For awhile there, we were getting a new Ke$ha tune every few weeks from her debut album “Animal.” We had a little break, but now she’s back with “We R Who We R” from “Cannibal,” an 8-track companion to “Animal” coming in a few weeks.

“We R Who We R” is a blend of “Tik Tok” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and it’s going to be a smash. It is incredibly stupid, but it has the main ingredients to make it a global hit: an insistent beat and positive lyrics that promise to suspend time and keep us “forever young,” or better yet, transport us back to a time when we felt like we were.

“We’re dancing like we’re dumb/?Our bodies going numb/We’ll be forever young/You know we’re superstars,” Ke$ha sings (!!)  in a stutter style.  She talks in her now-familiar style as well, but it’s the lure of youth and a hardcore dance floor beat that sells this one.

My favorite line is “Of course we does,” which comes early on. Pop music has never been about getting the grammar right, but we’re not sure the average, drunken Ke$ha party girl/fan will even realize the mistake.

Quite honestly, given that I have been one of Ke$ha’s biggest detractors, I don’t know what it means that I like one of her songs--or at least bregrugingly admire its crass charms. This may be a sign of the Apocalypse. I’m just saying... Now would the DJ please turn it up?


Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Big Machine

Bruno Mars stays on top of Billboard Hot 100 while Taylor sets a new record

Kayne West and Pink also make strong showings

Fans clearly like Bruno Mars just the way he is as the singer’s “Just the Way You Are” logs its fourth week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Airplay for the track is up 9% over the previous week, as digital sales shift slightly higher as well. We’re sure his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” helped keep him in the public’s eye too.

Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” remains at No. 2, while Nelly’s “Just a Dream” moves 4-3, trading places with Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” according to Billboard.

Taylor Swift lands a top 10 debut with “Speak Now,” the title track from her Oct. 25 album. She debuted the song on iTunes last week and it sold 217,000 copies since then. “Speak Now’s” entry in the upper climbs is the singer’s sixth top 10 debut, making her the artist with the most Top 10 debuts in the chart’s history. She breaks Mariah Carey’s record...for now.  “Mine,” the lead-off single from “Speak Now,” falls 12-14 on the Hot 100 this week, but keeps its bullet.

In other notable chart moves, Kanye West scores his third highest Hot 100 debut with “Runaway,” which bows at No. 12, behind “Heartless”  and “Love Lockdown.”

Glee” lands seven songs on the Hot 100, topping last week’s  record-high six debuts. Ironically, the show’s cover of the Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is the highest charter. As you’ll recall, last week, “Glee” broke the Beatles’ record for most songs on the Hot 100 by a non-solo artist.

Pink scores her 20th Hot 100 single with “Raise Your Glass,” which drops in at No. 51. The song is one of two new tunes on her “Greatest Hits... So Far” set, out Nov. 16.

Read Full Post
<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: Capitol

Katy Perry, Paramore, Nicki Minaj headline 'VH1 Divas Salute the Troops'

Dec. 5 show presented by the USO will tape at Miramar

Katy Perry, Sugarland, Keri Hilson, Paramore and Nicki Minaj will all take part in “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops.”

The “Divas” event has previously featured female artists singing in concert but this is the first time VH1 has tied in the concept with the military. The show, which will air Dec. 5, will emanate from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. We just can’t wait to see the inspired outfits the gals throw on for the troops. We know there are going to be some great ‘40s-style fashions...sort of like Perry’s “Thinking of You” video.

While most of the ladies will be at Miramar, Paramore will perform from a military base in the Middle East. 

VH1 has partnered with the USO, which has been bringing entertainment to the troops since 1941, to present the show.  The Miramar taping will not be open to the public. The concert will air internationally on the Armed Forces Network.

VH1 launched the Diva concerts in 1998. After a four-year hiatus, the concert returned last year.  Among the artists who have participated in the shows are Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, Whitney Houston and Cher.


Read Full Post
<p>Rihanna's &quot;Only Girl in the World&quot;</p>

Rihanna's "Only Girl in the World"

WATCH: Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl (In the World)’ video

Ri-Ri brings the sexy and the sweet

The hills are alive with the sound of Rihanna in the clip for “Only Girl (In the World)” as the now red-head cavorts in the hills, frolicking among the flowers and swinging on seemingly magically suspended swings. She sports a variety of outfits of the naughty school girl variety. In other words, if you have little kids, it’s probably first Ri-Ri clip your kids can watch in over a year.

Rihanna the only person in the clip, so she really is the only girl in the world. That’s a pretty clever idea. She is also charismatic enough to make it work.  The camera loves her and she looks like she’s loving being in love.

Do you like this Rihanna or do you want the “Rated R” Rihanna back?


Read Full Post
<p>Gwyneth Paltrow in &quot;Country Strong&quot;</p>

Gwyneth Paltrow in "Country Strong"

Watch: Gwyneth Paltrow show us she's 'Country Strong' in new video

Who does she remind you of?

We already knew Gwyneth Paltrow could sing from her duet with Huey Lewis in...  Now we discover she can sing country as well.  In this new clip from “Country Strong,” her new movie with Tim McGraw,” we see her warbling a very stereotypical, somewhat paint-by-numbers country tune. The tune, however, comes in a beautiful wrapper courtesy of Vince Gill and Patty Griffin’s backing vocals.

The clip intersperses Paltrow performing the song with clips of the movie and of her character performing the song--it’s a little psycho that way. In the movie, she plays a down-on-herluck country singer  out of rehab attempting a comeback with the assistance of her husband/manager, played by Tim McGraw. But as we can tell from the video, complications ensue when Leighton Meester enters the picture as a competing singer. Tears flow, horses run wild, pick up trucks get stuck in the mud.

Tell me Paltrow doesn’t look like Taylor Swift in the long shots of her in the red dress pumping her arm.

[Editor's note: We contacted Sony Pictures, who initially provided us with the link, about why the video was no longer available.  There is no clear answer yet, but as soon as it is, we will re-post.]

Read Full Post
<p>Bon Jovi</p>

Bon Jovi

Credit: AP Photo

Bon Jovi brings its 'The Circle Tour' to 550 cinemas Nov. 8

Group filmed concert during four sold out Meadowlands gigs

Bon Jovi is coming to a movie theater near you. The rock act-- and potential Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee--will present “Bon Jovi-The Circle Tour” in 550 cinemas on Nov. 8.

The concert captures the hometown heroes during their four-night sold-out stand at the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey from May. The movie’s music spans the band’s entire career up through the 2009 album, “The Circle.”

Tickets, priced at $12.50,  are on sale through participating theaters and www.fathomevents.com. 
Bon Jovi will release a greatest hits set in November.


Read Full Post