<p>Mariah Carey</p>

Mariah Carey

Credit: Island

Listen: Mariah Carey's new Christmas single 'Oh Santa!'

Will it make it into your stocking?

We’re normally adverse to artists trying to create new holiday songs as they always fall flat and we count on one hand the number of really great Christmas songs that have been written since, oh, 1940 (that would be the year that Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas.”

However, Mariah Carey has decided to deliver a little Christmas bundle early (she’s still keeping mum on that other bundle she supposedly has going on) with “Oh Santa!,” from “Merry Christmas II You.”

The song is one of six(!!) originals on the set,  Carey’s second (obviously) holiday collection created especially for her little lambs. It follows 1994’s “Merry Christmas,” which featured the new standard  “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (we can’t hear that song without thinking of “Love Actually.”)

“Oh Santa” is a fast-paced little ditty about Santa checking his list and deciding to make you mine for Xmas because I can be both naughty and nice. It opens with a “Hey Mickey”-type chant before giving way to a hand-clapper that recalls the Motown-era (sped up a little). We wish she’d held off on the high notes at the end, but they’re in the background so you can try to ignore them. It must be in her contract that she has to do the dog-whistle, high-pitched stuff at least once an album.



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<p>Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake together back in the day.&nbsp; How times change.&nbsp; Now?&nbsp;The closest they come together is on this week's Music Power Rankings chart.</p>

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake together back in the day.  How times change.  Now? The closest they come together is on this week's Music Power Rankings chart.

Music Power Rankings: Britney and Justin are together again... sort of

Eminem surges ahead, while Katy Perry is just right

Only a few years ago, she was a train wreck. Now Britney Spears is an unstoppable locomotive. Tuesday night’s Spears’-themed “Glee” episode was the highest-rated episode in the show’s history among 18-49 year olds. The cast-version of “Toxic” soars up the iTunes chart, as does the six-pack of tunes from the show.

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<p>He is... The Biebernator.</p>

He is... The Biebernator.

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Watch: Justin Bieber will make 'U Smile' in new video

Our little boy is growing up in a sweet video for his best song

Given how much he lusts after her in a slightly creepy way, we’re delighted that Kim Kardashian is not in Justin Bieber’s new video for “U Smile.”

Instead, the film opens in black and white, almost like “A Hard Day’s Night,” with the Bieb surrounded by a few fans (although the girls are calm instead of causing a frenzy). It switches to color as we see JB performing in a beautiful theater, playing piano. We alternate back and forth between the solo performance shot and Bieber hanging with his girlfriend, an adorable blonde. They hold hands, goof around in the theater, cuddle a little. In other words, it’s the perfect little video for Bieber’s tween fans, who can imagine they are the ones out cavorting with Bieber instead of the blonde.

There’s very little dancing and the song and video seem to be presenting a more mature Bieber.  (He still looks like he’s nine, but compare how he looks in “U Smile” to “Baby,” and it’s clear our little boy is growing up).

Plus, may we add, the the mid-tempo ballad is the best song on “My World 2.0.” It’s sweet with a great hook and amelody that is redolent of something a very young Michael Jackson would sing. It features one of Bieber’s best vocal performance. If you’re into the beat-heavy Bieber, it may not be for you, but we’re predicting a 100% approval rate by his female fans.  If I were that blonde girlfriend in the video though, I’d prepare for some hate mail.


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<p>Brittany and Britney on &quot;Glee&quot;</p>

Brittany and Britney on "Glee"

Credit: FOX

Bruno Mars tops the Billboard Hot 100, but who's catching up to him?

'Glee' has a quintet of reasons to celebrate

Bruno Mars makes it two weeks in a row as “Just the Way You Are” stays right where it as: at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The tune also returns to the top of Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs after dropping to No. 2 last week.

We admit, we thought Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)” was on such an upward trajectory that it would bounce Bruno from the pinnacle, but her song drops in both digital sales and airplay, according to both Billboard. Instead, it looks like Far East Movement may be the one to rise to the top with “Like a G6.” The song, featuring Cataracs and Dev, jumps 10-6 via major gains on both the digital sale front and in airplay.

All the “Glee” talk shifted to Britney this week, but the chart reflects the tremendous gains from last week’s season two premiere. The five songs made available from the episode sold 409,000 downloads. Leading the pack was New Directions’ version of “Empire State of Mind,” barely beating Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone.”

Travie McCoy benefits twice as his hit, “Billionaire” sees his original version soar 44-22 on Hot Digital Songs following its appearance on “Glee,” while the “Glee” cover lands at No. 13 on the Hot Digital Songs chart.
Lastly, Maroon 5 may have had to settle for coming in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, bested by Zac Brown Band, but “Misery,”  the first single from “Hands All Over,” continues its climb up the Hot 100 to No. 14, while fun album cut “Stutter” comes in at No. 2 (we wonder if that will lead to the band opting to go with “Stutter” as the second single and pull the plug on the boring “Give a Little More.”

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Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Shakira and her fab abs star in 'Loca' video

If only the song matched her impressive stomach

Forget about The Situation, Shakira’s abs are ridiculous in her new video for “Loca” featuring Dizzee Rascal. Not only are her abs ripped, they’re versatile. She can take them for a day at the beach,  roller skating, for a quick hop into a fountain and even for on the spin on the back of a motorcycle... not before changing into leather pants. Safety first, of course.

The Colombian superstar is coming off a massive worldwide (ex-U.S.) hit, “Waka, Waka (This Time for Africa)”, from the World Cup, but is looking to regain a little ground in the U.S. after last year’s “She Wolf” died a fairly quick death. “Loca” is the new single from  “Sale el Sol (The Sun Comes Out),” out Oct. 19.

It’s a frivolous, horn-filled frolic filmed in Barcelona, but we can’t help wishing she’d spend as much time on her music as her abs. Other than the cool rap exchange between Shakira and Dizzee, this sounds like a Ricky Martin reject. She is immensely capable of releasing songs that capture a moment in time like “Hips Don’t Lie” with Wyclef Jean or even back to “Whenever, Wherever.”  This song feels like it will be huge in Europe, but probably not in the U.S.

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Kanye West performs at the Jay-Z/Eminem concert earlier this month in New York

Kanye West makes a guest appearance during a Jay-Z concert at Yankee Stadium, Monday, Sept. 13, 2010, in New York.

Credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Kayne West is mad as hell over leak, suspends Good Fridays

No free music from West for at least one week as he punishes all of us

Kayne West is pissed... and we know that can lead to trouble.

After "Lost in the World," West’s collaboration with Bon Iver leaked onto the internet earlier this week, West took to Twitter to announce that he was taking a hiatus from his Good Friday practice of releasing a new song each week--at least for this week.

Over a several hour period on Wednesday, he tweeted (we’re running all these together): “Due to blogs leaking unfinished songs from my actual album I’ve decided to pass [on] Good Fridays this week...It’s messed up that one hacker can mess everything up for everyone...I love to take a year to finish my songs and deliver them to you in there [sic] more completed form...It would have seemed like since I give free music every week even the lowest form of human being would respect that enough not to leak unfinished songs from my real album.”

[More after the jump...]

Also, despite the word that West’s new album would drop Nov. 22, on Tuesday, as we reported Wednesday, West isn't so sure about that.  “I’m still contemplating my album date," he tweeted. "I’m finished with it, but when should I drop?” He also admitted he couldn’t decide on an album title. May we suggest “Leaker?”

West appears on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.

Does Kanye have a right to be mad?  Share your thoughts below.

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<p>Sara Bareilles</p>

Sara Bareilles

Live Review: Sara Bareilles wows the hometown crowd

She is Queen of Anything

Sara Bareilles has every reason to be on top of the world: her second major label album, “Kaleidoscope Heart,” delivered her a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200. First single, “King of Anything” is No. 4 and climbing on the Adult Pop Songs chart and she’s selling out venues as a headliner.

As she took the stage at the beautiful Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night, she was a ball of energy from the start. The singer/songwriter eschewed the stool in front of the piano, preferring to stand as she pounded the ivories, giving the show an instant shot of energy via such songs as the boundless, buoyant “Uncharted.” Her confidence shone through as she featured her breakthrough hit, “Love Song” early on in the show and offered “King of Anything” about two-thirds in, instead of saving them for the encore.

She’s also finding her footing as a guitarist, having written a few songs on the new album on guitar, including the engaging “Basket Case,” which she amusingly introduced as another instance of her bringing a bit of unnecessary “drama” into a relationship.

Bareilles’ often self-deprecating stage patter was as engaging as her playing. Somewhat surprisingly, she curses like a sailor, but in a hilariously profane way. She often responded to comments from the audience, but primarily, her giddiness at finding herself on stage in her adopted hometown in front of a sold-out crowd was apparent. She frequently expressed her appreciation. In one of the toughest touring seasons of the past decade and when there’s more competition for people’s entertainment dollars than ever, it was refreshing to see an artist sincerely express not only their gratitude, but their joy at finding themselves in such a fortunate spot.

Unfortunately, Bareilles suffered from a bad sound mix, with all the instruments, especially the drums, threatening to overwhelm her potent vocals.

That’s why the numbers that stood out were when Barielles dismissed the band and let the best instrument on stage--her voice--remain front and center.

Highlights included a largely a capella version of Radiohead’s “Nice Dream,” where her band stood doo wop style around mikes and vocalized as her crystalline vocals soared through the notes, as well as when she was joined by a capella group Sonos for a glorious version of “Gravity.”

The highlight, however, was her sly, feminist “Fairytale.” Accompanied only by herself on piano, her voice swooped around and over the lyrics, making, quite frankly, the band seem superfluous. 


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<p>Kings of Leon</p>

Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon set U.S. fall tour dates

You can count them on one hand

Fans of Kings of Leon better get their passports out if they want to see their favorite band before the end of the year or like the east coast.

KoL’s new album, “Come Around Sundown,” arrives Oct. 19, but the group has only three U.S. shows on its schedule between the set’s release and the end of the year. The first single from the album, “Radioactive,” is already No. 4 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart in its second week. See the video here.

The band, who played an extensive amphitheater tour around the U.S. this summer, is spending most of the fall focusing on Europe. A complete schedule is on www.kingsofleon.com.

The group’s U.S. date are below:

Nov. 14           Boston, MA           TD Garden
Nov. 16           New York, NY         Madison Square Garden
Nov. 18           East Rutherford, NJ  Izod Center


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<p>Michael Buble in &quot;Hollywood&quot;</p>

Michael Buble in "Hollywood"

Watch: Michael Buble channels Justin Bieber in new video

Crooner also takes on James Dean and Clint Eastwood

Is it Justin Bieber or is it Michael Buble?  The crooner, who is coming off a massive hit with “Haven’t Met You Yet,” is making a further bid for mainstream play with the video for the peppy “Hollywood.”

Why else would he pretend to be Justin Bieber? The video is a fun look at the ephemeral, and always fleeting fame. In addition to Bieber he plays a non-descript ‘80s rocker, James Dean and Clint Eastwood (although we think he looks more like Justin Timberlake than Eastwood).

The song is catchy as can be and is a sure-fire No. 1 on the /// chart. The question is will Top 40 play it? 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: Jason DeCrow/AP

Kayne West sets release date for new album

He's going head to head with Nicki Minaj

Even though Kanye West is dropping new tracks every Friday, for those who want the tunes all in one place and want to pay for them, West’s new album will come out on Monday, Nov. 22. (This means that every album scheduled for the normal Tuesday drop date of Nov. 23 will also shift to Monday).

West’s fifth set and his follow up to 2008’s “808s & Heartbreak,” is still untitled, according to rap-up.com.

The week of Nov 22 is already crazy with releases as it is the last week of release before the Holiday shopping season kicks off. Although fewer folks are still buying physical CDs, no artist wants to not be able to take advantage of Black Friday, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Also out that week are Nicki Minaj’s “Pink Friday,” My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys,”  and Ne-Yo’s “Libra Scale.”

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