Steve Harris of Iron Maiden

Bass guitarist Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.

Credit: AP Photo/MTI, Balazs Mohai

Ray LaMontagne, John Mellencamp, Brian Wilson lead Aug. 17 release slate

Iron Maiden and Trace Adkins also ride into town with new sets

The dog days of summer may be coming to an end, but the release slate is heating up with past gold and platinum performers such as Trace Adkins, David Gray, Andrea Bocelli, Iron Maiden, Brian Wilson and John Mellencamp turn loose new sets on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Watch the heat index rise even higher next week when Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” arrives.

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Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin

The album art for "Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin."

Review: Two American classics meet on 'Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin'

Does the much-anticipated album really create 'best of the year' rhapsody?

Some albums arrive with such anticipation and weight that they crumble under their own expectations. There is no way that the whole of “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin,” out Tuesday, can be greater than the sum of its parts. The fact that some of it succeeds as well as it does given the breathy headiness surrounding the project (the Grammy word is already being tossed about), is an accomplishment of its own, but is it enough?

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: AP Photo

Can Arcade Fire keep Eminem out of the top spot for another week?

How does Mike Posner's debut fare?

Eminem’s “Recovery” shows its buoyancy as it floats back to the top of the Billboard 200 next week. As you know, Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” narrowly (by 4,000 units) pushed “Recovery” from the top spot to No. 2 this week, but “Recovery” is set to outsell “The Surburbs” by a 3:1 margin this week, according to Hits Daily Double.

Four titles may debut in the top 10 next week: “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam,” which features the Jonas Bros., will likely come in at No. 3, while Zakk Wylde’s project, Black Label Society, will see its latest bow at No. 4.

A huge hit in “Cooler than Me” can’t lift newcomer Mike Posner’s first major label set, “31 Minutes to Takeoff, above the No. 5 slot. (He’s just the latest in a long line of artists who generate big radio hits and strong digital downloads, but can’t sell albums). Blake Shelton’s 6-song EP comes in around No. 7 with sales of around 35,000.
 

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<p>Christina Aguilera in &quot;Burlesque&quot;</p>

Christina Aguilera in "Burlesque"

Watch: Something gets a hold of Christina Aguilera in new 'Burlesque' video

In case you forgot, the girl can sing

C’mon, admit it. You often spontaneously burst into song in the middle of your workday, don’t you? If so, then you have more in common with Christina Aguilera than sporting a leather collar and drinking out of a doggy water bowl, as she does in the “Not Myself Tonight” video.

Today, we get a no-frills video from “Burlesque” of Xtina singing “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” in the middle of an empty juke joint (we’re guessing that’s why she grabs a microphone instead of a hair brush to sing into).

It’s not going to make you want to see “Burlesque,” but it is going to remind you that Aguilera has got pipes to spare and that her talents are squandered on her current album. “Something’s Got a Hold On Me” is a cover of an Etta James’ song and James is Aguilera’s hero so you do the math on how smoking Aguilera sounds here.

Don’t bother with the non-existent video production values since the clip doesn’t make sense outside of the movie’s context, just enjoy Aguilera’s stunning vocals.

 

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP

Another week, another record for Taylor Swift on the Billboard Hot 100

What happens to Eminem's 'Love the Way You Lie' this week?

Taylor Swift doesn’t make the top spot hers with new single “Mine,” but she still manages to tie a record. “Mine,” comes in at No. 3, making her the second female artist in the Hot 100’s history to debut more than one single in the chart’s top 5 in the calendar year.

On the Feb. 6 chart, Swift’s “Today was a Fairytale” (from the film “Valentine’s Day”) entered the chart at No. 2.  Swift is tied with Mariah Carey, whose “Fantasy” and “One Sweet Day”  (with Boyz II Men) both bowed at No. 1 in 1995, according to Billboard. We predict Swift will break the record before the year is out as her new album,“Speak Now” comes out Oct. 25 and we’re to get a second single from that project before year’s end.

Who keeps Swift out of the top spot? None other than Eminem, whose ‘Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna logs its fourth weeks at No. 1. For those keeping count, “Lie” was Em’s second top five debut in the Hot 100 in 2010, following former No. 1 “Not Afraid,” making him the only male artist to have a pair of top two debuts within any time frame, not just the calendar year, according to Billboard.

While Swift’s label, Big Machine, serviced “Mine” to country radio first, the song quickly spread to Top 40 making the singer just as surely a pop phenom as a country one these days.  Nielsen BDS research tells us that 60% of “Mine’s” play comes from country stations, while the remaining 40% is from top 40 and adult stations.

Will “Mine” hit No. 1 next week? It will have to beat out Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” which is still going gangbusters. The song rises 3-2 this week, which moves Katy Perry 4-2 with “California Gurls.”  “Teenage Dream” also drops 7-9: radio play for the song continues to build; the drop comes from a decrease in digital sales.

In other Hot 100 news, Linkin Park’s “The Catalyst” enters the chart at No. 35 with strong airplay at rock radio and with 60,000 downloads (in contrast, “Mine” racked up 297,000 downloads in two-and-half days of sales).

 












 

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<p>Jay-Z headlined Coachella this year</p>

Jay-Z headlined Coachella this year

Credit: AP Photo

Coachella sets its 2011 dates: April 15-17

Who should headline next year's fest?

It seems like the 2010 Coachella was only yesterday, but it’s already time to mark the 2011 dates on your calendar. The 2011 edition will take place April 15-17, 2011 at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, Calif.

The speculation has already begun on potential headliners. The Los Angeles Times’ Todd Martens is rooting for Blur, Kanye West and Outkast.

As you know, in a season of disasterous tours, multi-artist festivals such as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Coachella have provided bright spots. Coachella, which featured Gorillaz, Jay-Z and Thom Yorke’s side project, drew more than 80,000 attendees per day.

Who should headline Coachella 2011?

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<p>Fantasia</p>

Fantasia

Credit: AP Photo

Source: Fantasia's new album won't be delayed by 'medical overdose,'

New set, 'Back to Me,' still slated for Aug. 24 release

American Idol” contestant and reality show star Fantasia is in the hospital following a medical overdose. TMZ first reported the overdose, which the site says Fantasia’s rep has confirmed.

The incident occurs while Fantasia is promoting her third studio album, “Back to Me,” which is slated to come out two weeks from today, on Aug. 24.  The set, which includes the lovely hit “Bittersweet,” includes guest appearances on Cee-Lo Green, Ne-Yo, Jim Jonsin, Claude Kelly and Rico Love.

A spokeperson for Fantasia confirms that the album will come out as scheduled. A local TV station in Charlotte, N.C., near where Fantasia lives is reporting that the overdoes was not life threatening.

More news as we know it, but we wish Fantasia a speedy recovery.


 

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<p>Sara Bareilles</p>

Sara Bareilles

Watch: Sara Bareilles covers 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)'

Does her jazzy take sink or swim?

Sara Bareilles, who has a nice little hit of her own with “King of Anything” took Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and reinterpreted into a jazzy, smooth-as-silk tune for Billboard’s Mashup Monday.

Just like the many covers of Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face” or Kanye’s “Heartbreaker” that popped up,  it’s a blast to see how another artist takes a hit song and re-interprets it.

Bareilles, who broke through in 2007 with “Love Song,” returns with her new album, “Kaleidoscope Heart” on Sept. 7. But in the meantime, enjoy this slowed-down, toe-tapping take on Beyonce’s classic.
 

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: Capitol

Watch: Katy Perry’s video for ‘Teenage Dream’

Will she go all the way tonight?

If teenage pregnancies rates rise in the next year, expect some fingers to point at Katy Perry as she goes tells her boyfriend, “let’s go all the way tonight,” in the video for the second single  and title track from her Aug. 24 album, "Teenage Dream."

The relatively tame video, which in many ways seems like a better fit for “California Gurlz,” features her and her friends frolicking as her boyfriend goes off and boxes...a lot... and makes out with Perry...a little.

Perry looks beautiful and dewy here and her boyfriend looks like he could be arrested for pursuing jail bait.  Perry even leaves the sexual imagery heavy lifting to another girl who gets to have fun with a popsicle (that’s clearly the thruline image of this project). It's a pretty tepid clip although we're happy, in some ways, that she doesn't feel the need to up the ante with every single clip like someone else we know.

In other Perry news, another track from "Teenage Dream" premiered on iTunes today. "Circle The Drain" is a Kelly Clarkson-like rocker about a past, dysfunctional relationship. Additionally, Perry has paired with Deutsche Telecom to promote her next single in Germany, the uplifiting "Firework."

What do you think of the video for "Teenage Dream?" Since it's about how she feels about Russell Brand, do you wish he were in it?
 

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<p>Mike Posner</p>

Mike Posner

Album Review: Mike Posner's '31 Minutes to Takeoff'

Is he cooler than you?

There’s a new crop of solo male artists that cannily blends pop, R&B and dance. Instead of degrading women, they generally are respectful, if not downright adoring, in their lyrics. It’s a new breed that you could definitely take home to mama.

Mike Posner is the latest to join the ranks of  Drake, B.o.B, Jay Sean and Taio Cruz. His first single “Cooler Than Me"—about a co-ed at Duke who wouldn’t give him the time of day (who’s having the last laugh on that one?)—soared to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, while second single, “Please Don’t Go” is also shaping up as a hit.

Both tunes are high points on  “31 Minutes to Takeoff,” Posner’s major label debut. The first is a finger-snapper, chock full of interesting twists and turns, including synthesizer lines straight out of the ‘80s, while the second is a romantic slice of post-modern yearning.  There’s also something compelling about Posner’s salute to old school R&B paired with his embrace of today’s beats, bells and whistles, such as on stand-out track, “Do U Wanna.”

Posner, who caught J’s attention after releasing a popular mix tape recorded in his dorm room, co-wrote and co-produced all the tunes here, collaborating with Blink 182’s Travis Barker, production team the Smeezingtons and Benny Blanco, best known for his work with Ke$ha.

Many of Posner’s tunes start off ultimately more interesting than where they end up. For example, the slow grind of “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” begins like Rufus’s “Tell Me Something Good” before trailing off. Sweet harmonies on “Déjà Vu” launch the song with a promise that gets broken fairly quickly.  There are even backing vocals from  Boys II Men, who manage to deliver the line “take that shit all off” as smoothly as a caress.

Posner’s shtick, in so much as he’s working one,  is that he never seems to break a sweat here. All the songs are reasonably the same mid-tempo with a steady beat and his laid-back delivery seems effortless, yet never lazy.

There are a few clunkers: his song “Cheated”  does take him out of the “adoring women” category, as he sings “no one told me I was dating a whore”  and even name drops the woman he’s singing about.

The bigger issue is that everything on the album is fine, but nothing comes close to being remarkable or unique in any way. His voice is serviceable, but utterly without nuance. There are hints and glimmers of a developing talent here—and he’s only 22, so there’s many reasons to believe he’ll morph into a stronger talent-- but  “31 Minutes to Takeoff” is a bit of a bumpy flight.
 

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