Usher performing in China

Usher performing in China for the first time over the weekend.

Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Watch: Usher flexes his way through 'There Goes My Baby' video

Here come his pecs

We know it’s redundant to say in regards to Usher,  “This one is for the ladies,” since everything Mr. Steamy does is for the gals, but the video for “There Goes My Baby,” the fourth from “Raymond v. Raymond,” is basically a Harlequin Romance set to a sultry, slow groove of a song.

Usher sounds like Seal here, but he takes a page from D’Angelo and is shirtless for 75% of the video. You got a problem with that?  It would seem, unlike D’Angelo, that he’s wearing pants, but that’s not always so readily apparent so feel free to pretend he's not.

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<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne sends another note from jail where life sounds, surprisingly, good

And, oh yeah, Go Lakers!

Lil Wayne has written us (and by “us,” I mean his fans), another missive from jail. It’s No. 4 if you’re counting.  It would appear that he’s settling into his routine fairly well, has a great attitude, and is getting to sleep later than any prisoner we’ve ever heard of. And his confidence is certainly in tact, although we appreciate the stab at humility that he feels it would be “unfair” to call his new lyrics “perfect.”

Below is the letter in its entirety, taken from his website.

Hello world… I’m good. Counting the days and still smiling. Most of those smiles come from hearing my kids’ voices over the phone. The others come from reading fan mail. Let me just say that I have the best fans in the world! The devotion, dedication, support, love, and most of all, prayers are simply the best. I never imagined that I could have such an impact on people’s lives. Because of this, I vow to be a bit more careful of what I say.

So I’ve been writing and let me be the first to tell you that the lyrics that I’m writing are… well there’s no word that I can think of that properly defines them. Amazing would be too typical and perfect would be unfair. I listen to the radio sometimes, emphasis on sometimes, and I hear the new music. I like some. I applaud my Young Money family for what they’re doing. As I’m not surprised. This is what we’re supposed to do. Congrats to Drake and Nicki for all their recent success. Those 2 are going to have me retiring early. I love my team. Much love to Tez and Mack. I know that people are inquisitive of what I do all day, so here goes. I wake up around 11AM. Have some coffee. Call my kids, and my wonderful mother. I then shower up. Read fan mail. Have lunch. Back on the phone. Read a book or write some thoughts down. Have dinner. Phone. Pushups. Then I listen to ESPN on the radio. Read the bible, then sleep. That’s my day.

I’ll end this letter, but never my love. I’m gone. Oh, and how ‘bout dem Lakers!?!

P.S. I thank my fans for appreciating me the way you do.
Tunechi.

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<p>Miranda Lambert</p>

Miranda Lambert

Credit: AP Photo

Miranda Lambert picked to headline CMT on Tour

Eric Church and Josh Kelley join in on the fall outing

Miranda Lambert has been nabbed to headline the CMT on Tour outing this fall.  Past CMT tours have featured Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland and Keith Urban.

The tour, which starts Sept. 29, also features Eric Church and Josh Kelley.

The dates will be announced later. Below are the cities.

New York, NY
West Springfield, MA
Bangor, ME
Gilford, NH
Clemson, SC
Murray, KY
Altamont, IL
Durham, NC
Columbia, SC
Perry, GA
Tulsa, OK
Thackerville, OK
Kearney, NE
Columbia, MO
Charlottesville, VA
Huntington, WV
Bristol, TN
Nacogdoches, TX
College Station, TX
Beaumont, TX
Dekalb, IL
Independence, MO
Brookings, SD
Grand Forks, ND
Loveland, CO
 

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Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

Credit: AP Photo

Pearl Jam says goodbye... for now

Band announces hiatus from stage in Portugal

Pearl Jam is going on hiatus… or at least we think they are. At the band’s July 10 appearance at the Optimus Alive  festival In Lisbon,  lead singer Eddie Vedder told the crowd—in Portuguese, no less,  they were witnesses the group’s last show “in a long time.”

“Thank you for coming to our last show,” Vedder said, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Not our last show ever, but our last in a long time.” He then told the audience, “Have fun tonight because we don’t know when else we will have fun.”

The band’s website offers no further illumination, other than no additional concerts are listed. Pearl Jam has been on tour in support of “Backspacer” for almost a year. The group has been a touring machine since its inception 20 years ago: it has played at least a handful of dates, if not a full outing, every year.

We know at least one PJ member won’t be taking a long break: drummer Matt Cameron will rejoin his former band Soundgarden when the re-formed group headlines Lollapalooza on Aug. 8 in Chicago. Although no further dates have been announced, rumors are rife that the band is expected to tour at some point this year.


 

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<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne drops new EP, 'I'm Not a Human Being,' in September

What does this mean for the release of 'Carter IV?'

Lil Wayne may be the most prolific prisoner ever.  Although “Carter IV” won’t come out until after his November release, Weezy will precede the album with a new EP, “I’m Not a Human Being.”  Out Sept. 27—Weezy’s birthday—the EP will feature new material and will be available online only.

"We not about to roll out no three month set up,” Lil Wayne’s co-manager/Cash Money CEO Cortez Bryant told Vibe. “I’m not even putting it out in stores. We just gonna put it out virally and maybe package it up for Christmas. Give 'em a hard copy later for fan appreciation.”
 

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Usher, Lady A, Justin Bieber top 2010 best-selling albums and singles list

Where do Eminem and Drake come in?

Pop music is alive and well, just ask  Justin Bieber, B.o.B. or Ke$ha. All scored at least two titles in Nielsen SoundScan’s tally of top selling albums and songs for the first half of 2010, according to Billboard.

As we previously reported, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” is the top selling album of the year through the week ending July 4.  The country album has sold almost a million more copies than its closest competitor, Justin Bieber’s “My World 2.0.” The power of Bieber is strong: the teen moppet is the only artist to place two albums in the top10 as his “My World” lands at No. 9. If there were any doubt that Enimem was back, consider that his “Recovery” lands at No. 5, after only two weeks of release.

Rock music is completely left out of the top 10 selling albums, although Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” lands at No. 1 for the best-selling single so far. B.o.B. is looking like a shoo-in for a best new artist Grammy nod with two tunes in the top 10.

TOP ALBUMS

Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now,” 2.35 million
Justin Bieber, “My World 2.0,” 1.39 million
Sade, “Soldier of Love,”1.21 million
Lady GaGa, “The Fame,” 1.15 million
Eminem, “Recovery,” 1.09 million
Usher, “Raymond V. Raymond,” 898,000
The Black Eyed Peas, “The E.N.D.,”853,000
Ke$ha, “Animal,” 813,000
Justin Bieber, “My World,” 710,000
Drake, “Thank Me Later,” 709,000

DIGITAL TRACKS

Train, “Hey, Soul Sister,” 3.38 million
Usher feat. Will.I.Am, “OMG,” 2.63 million
The Black Eyed Peas, “Imma Be,” 2.58 million
Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now,” 2.57 million
Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris, “Break Your Heart,” 2.53 million
Ke$ha, “Tik Tok,” 2.53 million
B.O.B feat. Hayley Williams, “Airplanes,” 2.45 million
Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg, “California Gurls,” 2.39 million
B.O.B. feat. Bruno Mars, “Nothin’ On You,” 2.30 million
Justin Bieber feat. Ludacris, “Baby,” 2.17 million

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<p>M.I.A.</p>

M.I.A.

M.I.A. and Korn lead July 13 new music releases in a slow summer week

New titles from Crowded House, Morcheeba and the late Sparklehorse also out

We’re in a bit of a summer lull this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of tasty releases. M.I.A. and Korn are this week’s biggest names to release albums on July 13, but there is a lovely, haunting effort from Danger Mouse & Sparklehouse, as well as the return of Morcheeba with original singer Skye Edwards.

Crowded House, “Intriguer” (Fantasy/Concord): Australian band returns with second album since Paul Hester’s death. Produced by Jim Scott, the album includes many songs the band road-tested in order to give them a more lived-in feel.

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, “Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse Present ‘Dark Night of the Soul’” (Capitol): Conceived along with director David Lynch, who shot a number of photographs based on the songs’ themes, the project includes songs written by Sparklehorse (the late Mark Linkous) that he wasn’t comfortable singing, so the pair enlisted such guest vocalists as Iggy Pop, the Flaming Lips,  the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, the Shins’ (and Danger Mouse’s  Broken Bell’s partner) James Mercer and the late Vic Chesnutt.

Hellyeah, “Stampede” (Epic):  Members of Pantera, Mudvayne, Nothingface and Damageplan come together for this heavy metal hoe-down.

Korn, “Remember Who You Are” (Roadrunner):  This Jonathan Davis-led band is one of the few nu-metal bands still standing, in part because, unlike many of its mid-90s contemporaries, it makes music that transcends the genre.  Korn has a new label, but returned to the studio with Ross Robinson, who produced the first two albums. Davis described the record to Billboard as “a stripped down record with just the four of us.”

M.I.A., “Maya” (N.E.E.T./Interscope): Motherhood has done little to tame M.I.A.—and thank goodness for that—although she does try to reconcile the various sides of her expanding life here. Anyone who saw the video for “Born Free” knows the U.K.-born Sri Lankan is still spitting mad and creating some of the most creative, beat-driven music around. Read review here.

Morcheeba, “Blood Like Lemonade” (PIAS America): Trip-hop trio makes first album with original vocalist Skye Edwards since she left the group in 2003. Sort of… because she has a small child, Edwards recorded in her home after the band’s Paul and Ross Godfrey sent her tracks.

The Newsboys, “Born Again” (Inpop):  Grammy-award nominated contemporary Christian rock group’s new album features a new lead singer, Michael Tait, formerly of dc talk. He replaces Peter Furler, who decided to focus on his songwriting and producing duties within the band. Other changes include the departure of guitarist Paul Colman and the return of guitarist Jody Davis.
 

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Can Big Boi's 'Luscious Left Foot' kick Eminem to the curb on the Billboard 200?

Or will Marshall Mathers remains perched at the top?

Eminem will handily spend his third week at No. 1 next week as “Recovery” sells up to as many as 250,000 copies.

No other title can come close to challenging the rapper’s reign at the top of the Billboard 200. Drake’s “Thank Me Later,” which has sold more than 500,000 in four weeks, will stay at No. 2 with sales of up to 80,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

That means the highest debut will be Big Boi’s critically acclaimed “Sir Luscious Left Foot: The son of Chico Dusty,” which will likely come in at No. 3, unless Twihards push the soundtrack to “Eclipse” past the Outkast member’s solo effort. The only other newcomer to the top 10 will be Enrique Iglesias, who is mounting a nice comeback with “Euphoria.” Bret Michaels also continues his second life as his set will just narrowly miss the Top 10.

Otherwise, as of  Friday, the rest of the top 10 looks like Justin Bieber at No. 5, “Now 34” at No. 6, Jack Johnson (7), Lady Antebellum (8) and Lady GaGa (10), although GaGa may get a boost from her “Today” concert Friday morning.
 

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<p>Lady Gaga on the &quot;Today&quot; show</p>

Lady Gaga on the "Today" show

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Lady GaGa performs new song, writhes in the rain on 'Today' show

Look who finally decided to wear pants

Hey kids, time for your daily dose of Lady GaGa. In case you missed it, we bring you her appearance this morning on “Today.” According to the morning show, she drew a record 20,000 to Rockefeller Plaza. And guess what? She wore pants!  Two pairs!  In one appearance, she wore trousers two times more than we’ve ever seen her in them before in person.

With dried ice billowing over the stage, Lady GaGa was practically enveloped and indistinguishable from the white smoke as she emerged in a relatively tame white outfit singing the Gershwin classic “Someone to Watch over Me” before segueing into “Bad Romance.” She's the Smoke Monster! We think there may have been some track enhancement, but her vocals seemed live—she sounded strong (remarkably so for the early morning hour), but there were just enough rough notes to sound live.  We dug the bra with the crosses.

In the next segment, she thanked radio and TV and the gay community for supporting her. There hasn’t been a mainstream artist since Madonna who has so lovingly and publicly made sure to include her gay following along every step of the way. She then launched into new song, “You & I,” saying it is about “the most important person I ever met,” although didn’t reveal who that was. The tune, which as we wrote a few weeks ago, sounds like a 4 Non Blondes outtake, sounded better than it did when she played it at Elton John’s party a few weeks back. More importantly, as she sat at the piano pounding away without any gimmicks or blood spurting from anywhere (oh, sure she dramatically crawled on the piano, but that’s nothing), it shows her talent is real. While I love her embrace of theatricality, it’s smart to remind fans that the smoke and mirrors all add to the show, but there is a strong foundation under them.

After a short rain shower and a costume change, she returned in black pants and a jacket, similar to what she wears in the “Alejandro” video to run through the current hit as her back up singers paraded around stage in a makeshift fashion  show.  Next up was “Teeth.”  It has more bite than “Alejandro,” and she tried to spice it up with some Hendrix-style guitar. Plus, she fully incorporated the rain into her show as if she and the heavens had made some pact to incorporate it. Yes, we’re beginning to think she may have that much power.

Watch GaGa perform "Bad Romance" below.
 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

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Eminem

Eminem has reasserted his dominance in the music world in 2010.

Credit: AP Photo

Music Power Rankings: Eminem's 'Recovery' continues at a rapid pace

Find out why Em beats Ladies GaGa and Antbellum for the top spot

No one can touch Eminem right now. More than a decade into his career, he’s having a hell of a second act. “Recovery” remains on top of the Billboard 200 for the second week with its two-week tally adding up to more than a cool million copies sold.

Additionally, both “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie” are in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time in his career that Marshall Mathers has registered two songs in the Top 10 at once. Plus, the stadium dates he and Jay-Z are playing in Detroit and New York are selling out left and right. If he’s ever felt compelled to run for office, and we seriously doubt he has, now would be the time.

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