Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is arguably the last big star "American Idol" has launched.  In fact, she may be the biggest of them all.

Credit: AP Photo

More 'American Idol' changes: 19 Entertainment switches to Universal Music Group

Can the change turnaround the recent disappointment of 'Idol' winners on the charts?

American Idol” isn’t the only one making changes. As the talent show moves into season 10 with a new slate of judges, the program’s producer 19 Entertainment shifts from Sony Music Entertainment to Universal Music Group.

Sony inherited the 19 deal when it merged with BMG, which has had the partnership for nine years, according to Billboard.  A number of past “AI” contestants remain on Sony labels including Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Fantasia, David Cook, Adam Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks and David Archuleta. Sony will also release albums this fall from Season 9’s winner, Lee DeWyze, and runner-up,  Crystal Bowersox.

Going forward, UMG will release the debut from the “AI” winner, as well as have rights to the other finalists. Contestants will come out through the Interscope/Geffen/A&M labels.

"We like delivering hits and new artists,” UMG co-CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement issued by the label group. “UMG and ‘American Idol’ is the right combination at the right time. Pairing the renowned expertise of Simon [Fuller] and Jimmy [Iovine, IGA chairman] in developing and marketing musical talent creates a truly winning combination that will allow 'Idol's' artists to realize their fullest potential."

No reason for the shift was given, but sales for “Idol” contestants have fallen off considerably, with recent winners failing to achieve the heights of Clarkson or Underwood. Sony pop-oriented imprints such as J and Jive were great fits for many "Idols," plus Sony easily placed acts like Underwood through its Nashville divisions. it will be interesting to see if Universal shifts country-leaning 'Idols' to Mercury Nashville. In Geffen chairman, Ron Fair, who signed Christina Aguilera to RCA and then worked  with  Pussycat Dolls at IGA, the label has the perfect in-house producer for pure pop acts.

Read Full Post

Eminem has dominated album sales in 2010, but his reign at No. 1 is officially over.

Credit: AP Photo

Who pushes Eminem out of the top spot on the Billboard 200?

Where are Lady Gaga and Lady Antebellum?

Welcome to his  “Nightmare”:  Eminem’s reign at No. 1 comes to an end thanks for Avenged Sevenfold’s “Nightmare,” which pushed “Recovery” out of the top spot after five weeks on the Billboard 200.

It was a close race: “Nightmare” sold 163,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while “Recovery” moved 159,000 units.

“Nightmare” is the hard rock band’s first No. 1 album, according to Billboard, besting its previous chart high of No. 4 for its 2007 self-titled set.

It’s lonely at the top: “Nightmare” is the only title to debut in the top 10 this week, making it the first time since the week ending Feb. 28 that only one new album entered the chart in the first 10 slots.

Last week’s No. 2, Rick Ross’s “Teflon Don,” drops to No. 3, while Justin Bieber’s “My World 2.0” rises to  No. 4. Other titles making moves within th Top 10 includes Lady Antebellum’s  “Need You Now,” which moves up to No. 7 and Sheryl Crow’s “100 Miles from Memphis” falls five places to No. 8. Lady Gaga climbs one place to No. 9.

Total album sales for the week were 5.21 million units, down 13% with the comparable sales week in 2009. Year-to-date sales are down 12% from last year.

Read Full Post
<p>Kings of Leon fans won't have to wait long for the band's latest album.</p>

Kings of Leon fans won't have to wait long for the band's latest album.

Kings of Leon's 'Come Around Sundown' setting in stores on Oct. 19

Follow-up to 'Only by the Night' 'darker' than previous efforts

Kings of Leon will release “Come Around Sundown,” the band’s follow-up to the quadruple Grammy-winning “Only by the Night,” on Oct. 19.

The band began recording the set, helmed by “Night’s” producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King, at New York’s Avatar Studios in February following a few years of solid touring.

“This was the first time we’d ever recorded in New York City,” the band’s drummer Nathan Followill told Hitfix’s Katie Hasty in May. “We thought we’d come out with a little more darker record,” Followill says, noting that the previous albums were laid down largely in Los Angeles, where there wasn’t as much “hustle and bustle.”

“Only by the Night” has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide and catapulted Kings of Leon into one of the top touring acts in the world.

Kings of Leon headline the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival later this month as part of their ongoing tour that ends Sept. 23.

Read Full Post
<p>Dave Matthews</p>

Dave Matthews

Credit: AP Photo

Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Neil Young marquee Farm Aid 25

Benefit takes play Oct. 2 in Milwaukee

Farm Aid will commemorate its 25th anniversary Oct. 2 in Milwaukee with all three founders, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young, in attendance.

The concert will take place at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers and will also include Dave Matthews Band. A number of other acts will also be added. Tickets go on sale this Friday,  Aug. 6, to Farm Aid Members and Aug. 14 to the general public. Prices range from $97.50-$39.50. The concert will air on DirecTV.

Farm Aid’s first benefit concert took place in Champaign, Ill., in 1985 as a way to help the family farmers, who were being pushed out by corporate farmers. Over the last quarter century, the annual concerts have raised more than $37 million to support  organizations such as the Good Food Movement.

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

Katy Perry

Credit: AP Photo

Commentary: Did MTV get it right with the VMA nominations? We're not so sure

Justin, Rihanna and Katy deserved better -- but what of Lady Gaga

Unlike last year when she had major competition from Beyonce, in many ways Lady GaGa has the field to herself for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, which air Sept. 12.

Click here for the complete list of nominations.

Even before the first Moon Man is handed out, Lady GaGa has already made the record books, landing 13 nods, more than any other artist in history. She breaks a record set by Missy Elliott in 2001.

Is she deserving?  We say a resounding yes. No artist since Madonna has put so much effort and thought into videos. Lady GaGa has almost singlehandedly revived the moribund genre. Not every video is a winner—we’re not a fan of “Alejandro”—but there is no doubt that both “Bad Romance” and “Telephone” (with Beyonce) deserve their slots in the Video of the Year category.
Here are a few areas that left us scratching our heads:

Katy Perry: Perry’s “California Gurls,” a veritable love fest to the game “Candyland,” is fun and not predictable in any way. Why the shut out in video of the year? Yes, the clip got plenty of other slots and Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days are Over” clip is fun, but we would have given that slot to “Gurls” or to MGMT’s truly wacky “Flash Delirium.”

Justin Bieber: Bieber’s clip for “Baby” just replaced Lady GaGa for the most viewed video ever at YouTube with something like 245 million views and that doesn’t even get him a best pop video, best collaboration (with Ludacris) or best male video? Sure, his videos are not the most exhilarating or creative—and, in some ways, we understand his not getting a ton of nominations, but slotting him only in best new artist seems a bit of a slap.

Rihanna: Just like Britney fans cried foul last year when they felt their pop princess got short shrift (although she received seven nominations), this year Rihanna really got left out of the party. “Rude Boy” got a nod for best editing, but that’s it. Really? We know she hasn’t had great radio success with “Rated R,” but surely “Rude Boy” deserved a nod for best female video or the daring “Rock Star,” for the Slash imitation alone.

Big Boi: No “Shutterbugg?” No nothing? How did that happen?
Janelle Monae: what does she have to do to get the attention she deserves?  “Tightrope” is nominated for best choreography, which is definitely should be, the clip should also be up for best collaboration, best female (unless Big Boi’s participation knocks her out of that) and even for video of the year.

B.o.B.: He got more than his fair share of video nods, which makes it all the more strange that he got left out of the best new artist competition—he’s clearly the most nominated of all the newcomers this year.

Who do you feel got slighted?

Read Full Post
<p>Soundgarden is back. &nbsp;Sort of.</p>

Soundgarden is back.  Sort of.

Soundgarden set to release retrospective 'Telephantasm' on Sept. 28

Compilation includes previously unreleased tunes

It’s not the album of all new material that fans have been clamoring for, but it will do. Today, Soundgarden announced that it will release “Telephantasm” on Sept. 28.

The retrospective includes tunes from all previous Soundgarden releases, as well as “Black Rain,” a previously unreleased track from the “Badmotorfinger” era.

Additionally, the group will put out its first DVD, but gave no details on what that will include other than “never before-seen videos.”

Soundgarden, which reunited earlier this year, headlines Lollapalooza which begins on Aug. 8.


Read Full Post
Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is back with just a remix album, but is hoping all her little monsters will gobble it up.

Credit: AP Photo

Lady GaGa and Arcade Fire kick off August with new (sort of) releases

The Black Crowes celebrate their 20th anniversary on Aug. 3 too

We don’t get a new album from Lady GaGa until 2011, but for those who can’t get enough, she offers her little monsters a remix album featuring 10 tunes from “The Fame” and the “Fame Monster.”  But the big release of the week is “The Suburbs,” the third set from indie darlings Arcade Fire.

Read Full Post
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift after the 2009 Country Music Association Awards.

Credit: AP Photo

Fox launches American Country Awards; Taylor Swift makes room on awards shelf

Fan-voted awards show debuts in December

Just in case there weren’t enough of them already, Fox will launch a new country music awards show this fall.

The inaugural American Country Awards will air Dec. 6 live from Las Vegas, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The awards show will run the same time of year that Fox used to air the Billboard Music Awards before that program went off the air four years ago. It’s a prime time because it gets artists in front of an audience during holiday buying season. The winners for the two-hour show will be fan voted.

Read Full Post
Avenged Sevenfold

Will Avenged Sevenfold take out reigning champ Eminem on the Billboard 200?  Looks like it.

Does Eminem's Billboard 200 reign end next week at the hands of Avenged Sevenfold?

Who else will enter the Top 10 next week?

Next week, Avenged Sevenfold will accomplish what no other act has been able to: topple Eminem’s “Recovery” from the top slot on the Billboard 200. The hard rock band’s “Nightmare” is slated to sell between 160-170,000, according to Hits Daily Double, while “Recovery will move up to 155,000 copies.  “Recovery” logged its fifth week at No. 1 this week with cumulative sales of close to 1.7 million since its June release.

Avenged Sevenfold may have reason to cheer, but there is on celebration in recordville for any other artists with new releases. It looks like the band will be th only act to debut in the Top 10 next week, as Eminem falls to No. 1, Rick Ross slips from 2-3 and the rest of the top tier includes such mainstays as Lady GaGa, Justin Bieber and Lady Antebellum.  Tech N9ne Collabos’ “The Gates Mixed Plate”  lands around  No. 12. 


Read Full Post
Katy Perry

Katy Perry's "California Girls" is one of the biggest hits of the year.

Credit: AP Photo

Music Power Rankings: Eminem and Katy Perry are king and queen of the summer

But don't look back Marshall, Avenged Sevenfold and J-Lo may be gaining on you

It’s beginning to look like the summer belongs to Eminem. Sure, we crowned Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” as the single of the season, but if Perry is our summer homecoming queen, then Eminem is our undisputed homecoming king. “Recovery” spends its fifth week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, while second single, “Love the Way You Life” featuring Rihanna logs its fifth week atop the magazine’s digital sales chart. It marks the first time an artist has enjoyed five weeks simultaneously on both charts.

1. Eminem (last week, No. 2): His “Recovery” continues.

2. Katy Perry (not ranked): As pundits question if “Teenage Dream” will surpass “Recovery” for the best selling debut week of the year when the album comes out Aug. 24,  EMI’s dream girl is smartly renegotiating her record deal. From powerless unknown to superstar holding all the cards in three short years. We predict she’ll be able to afford lots more cream-shooting bras.

3. Avenged Sevenfold (not ranked): We’ll know for sure next Tuesday, but it looks like the hard rock band will be able to do what no other act has accomplished this summer: knock Eminem’s “Recovery” out of the top spot on the Billboard 200. Avenged Sevenfold may call its new album “Nightmare,” but it’s Eminem who’s having the bad dreams.

4. Google (not ranked): Pundits predict Google will beat Apple when it comes to launching a cloud music service. The search engine stealthily moved ahead with its efforts this week, hiring Elizabeth Moody, an attorney specializing in licensing, and reportedly meeting with Harry Fox Agency to firm up its digital rights licenses.

5. Lucian Grange (not ranked)): The new Universal Music Group co-CEOf lands a profile in Wall Street Journal while he’s still in his honeymoon period. Let’s see how much love they give him a year from now. 

6. Rascal Flatts (not ranked): Country’s biggest group inks a new deal with Big Machine Records after Disney closes its Nashville imprint, Lyric Street, Rascal Flatt’s home for the past 10 years. Can a duet with Taylor Swift be far behind?

7. Kanye West (not ranked): He finally joins the Twitter generation this week. His first tweet: “Imma gonna let you finish, but I gotta tweet this first… “

8. Ellen Degeneres (not ranked): She quits “American Idol” after only one year as a judge.  Is she focusing on Grayson Chance’s debut album on her Interscope-distributed label or did she simply decide to desert the ship before it sinks?  The rumor is that Jennifer Lopez will replace her. We hope J-Lo brings her Louboutins.

9. Justin Timberlake (not ranked): The good news is he’s coming to a Target near you. The bad news is it is with his clothing line, William Rast, instead of a new album. It’s now been four years since his last solo album, but who’s counting. Me… that’s who.

10. Wyclef Jean (not ranked): If Arnold Schwarzenegger can be governor of California, why can’t the ex-Fugee be president of Haiti? Stranger things have definitely happened.

Music Power Rankings appear every Friday.  What do you think of this week's list?

Last week's rankings:

July 23

Read Full Post