<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: AP Photo

Katy Perry tops the Billboard Hot 100, but see why Eminem rules

Who's having a bad week at radio?

It’s a great week for both Katy Perry and Eminen, who both set career highlights on the Billboard Hot 100.

Perry’s “California Gurls” logs its fifth week at No. 1  on the chart, although Usher’s “OMG” beats it in total listener impressions. (The Hot 100 combines airplay and single sales).

It must be very gratifying for Eminem to see reach new milestones. Not only has “Recovery” surpassed 1 million albums sold in two weeks, “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna stays at No. 2 on the Hot 100, while “Not Afraid” moves back into the Top 10, making it the first time in his career that Em has had two tunes in the top 10 at the same time, according to Billboard.  On iTunes, “Love the Way You Lie” is No. 1 above “California Gurls.”

Most of us still couldn’t pick Taio Cruz out of a line-up, but his songs are resonating with fans. Current single “Dynamite” moves to No. 7 this week, making it his second consecutive Top 10, following chart topper “Break Your Heart.” Billboard points out that he is the fifth new male artist to register a pair of hits in the Top 10 over the past 12 months. The others:  Drake, Jay Sean, Jason DeRulo and B.o.B. It will be interesting to see which of the artists are able to build careers and who are just flavors of the month.

It looks like Kanye West’s redemption seems to be complete. Following a successful performance at the BET Awards last week, his new song “Power,”  lands Hot Shot Debut honors on the chart with sales of more than 80,000 copies.

It’s not all good news. Miley Cyrus’s “Can’t Be Tamed” album started off slowly and it looks like the single of the same name is officially dead: It falls to No. 31 this week on the Hot 100. It never took hold at radio, climbing only to No. 52 on Hot 100 Airplay, which is the worst showing of any of her five songs to make that chart.


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<p>Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze of &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze of "American Idol"

'American Idol' eliminates seven tour dates and reshuffles others

Horrible summer tour season claims another victim

 “American Idol” has chopped seven dates off its summer tour and moved around shows in several cities to accommodate the changes.

In a summer full of cancellations of dates (Lilith Fair, Jonas Bros., Country Throwdown) and tours (Christina Aguilera, Limp Bizkit), “AI” is the latest casualty.

Now off the slate are stops in Omaha, Neb., Kansas City, Mo.; Toronto, Buffalo, N.Y.; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Cleveland.  Shows in many other cities were shifted and the outing will now close Sept. 14 in Pittsburgh, instead of Sept. 16 in Portland, Maine.

Tour promoter Live Nation gave no reason for the cancellations, although poor ticket sales are a good guess: Season nine was widely considered the worst season in terms of break out stars and excitement .

Additionally, viewership dropped for the show, although 24.2 million viewers watched the finale that pitted frontrunner Crystal Bowersox against winner Lee DeWyze.


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<p>Chester Bennington of Linkin Park</p>

Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

Credit: AP Photo

Linkin Park returns with 'A Thousand Suns,' produced by Rick Rubin

Band moves back into the light following 2007's 'Midnights to Midnight'

Linkin Park will release its latest album, “A Thousand Suns,” on Sept. 14. Produced by Rick Rubin and Linkin Park singer Mike Shinoda, it is the band’s first release since 2007’s “Minutes to Midnight.”

First single, “The Catalyst,” debuts Aug. 2, but in the meantime, fans can produce their own song based on some tracks from the forthcoming album via the band’s myspace page. The band will also offer live shows and exclusive content on myspace.

The band will embark on a tour supporting  “A Thousand Suns” starting Oct. 9.


9-Oct    Maquinaria Festival    Santiago, Chile
11-Oct    SWY Music & Arts Festival    Sao Paulo, Brazil
20-Oct    O2 Arena    Berlin, Germany
22-Oct    Schleyerhalle    Stuttgart, Germany
23-Oct    Tips Arena    Linz, Austria
25-Oct    Bercy    Paris, France
27-Oct    Lanxess Arena    Koln, Germany
29-Oct    O2 Arena    Hamburg, Germany
30-Oct    MCH Arena    Herning, Denmark
1-Nov    Hallenstadion    Zurich, Switzerland
2-Nov    Festhalle    Frankfurt, Germany
4-Nov    MEN Arena    Manchester, UK
9-Nov    LG Arena    Birmingham, UK
10-Nov    O2 Arena    London, UK
11-Nov    O2 Arena    London, UK

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Marina and the Diamonds

Marina of, um, Marina and the Diamonds

Review: Marina and the Diamonds sparkle in L.A. debut

Watch video for 'I am Not a Robot' and see for yourself

You may not have heard of Marina & the Diamonds, but you will.  There’s been a buzz growing about the Welsh act that has only gotten louder following gigs at SXSW. After her sold-out show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles last night, it’s easy to see why.

Marina is Marina Diamondis. The Diamonds refers not her backing band, but to her fans (Hey, if Lady GaGa can have her monsters, Marina can have her diamonds).

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Lady Antebellum

Who has ruled the charts for the first six months of 2010?  Country superstars Lady Antebellum.

Who's the top seller of 2010 so far? Hint: It's not Eminem

How much worse are sales from the first six months of 2009?

 It’s looking like a royally good year for Lady Antebellum. At the half-way mark, the country act’s second album “Need You Now” is the top seller of 2010 so far, registering sales of more than 2, 355,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album remains a strong seller and stands at No. 10 this week on the Billboard 200 23 weeks after its release.

The leading digital track is the all-star charity sing-along “Hope for Haiti,” according to Billboard, although it did not supply sales figures.

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<p>Lady Gaga with Grammys</p>

Lady Gaga with Grammys

Credit: AP Photo

Commentary: Grammy's new artist rule changes and why they didn't go far enough

It's too late for Lady GaGa, but who will the new rules help?

Call it the Lady GaGa rule. The Grammys have changed the eligibility requirements for best new artist, but we don’t think the decision went far enough.

First, some background and then our reasoning. After Lady GaGa, who was the clear front runner, was declared ineligible because “Just Dance” had been nominated for best dance track a year before, Grammy governing body, NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) went back to the drawing board to reevaluate the rules. (Ultimately, Zac Brown Band took home the best new artist trophy this year.)

Now, future Lady GaGas will have no such issues. Effective immediately, any artist who has been nominated for a Grammy, but has not won, and who fits the remaining criteria will be eligible.
Here are amended rules for qualification for Best New Artist with the change in italics:

The current eligibility requirements state that the artist must have released, as a featured performing artist, at least one album but not more than three; and the artist must not have been entered for Best New Artist more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group. Any previous GRAMMY nomination for the artist as performer precludes eligibility in the Best New Artist category (including a nomination as an established performing member of a nominated group.)  If an artist/group is nominated (but does not win) for the release of a single or as a featured artist or collaborator on a compilation or other artist's album before the artist/group has released an entire album (and becomes eligible in this category for the first time), the artist/group may enter this category in the eligibility year during which his/her/their first album is released.

A little background here:  Even if it’s often been behind the curve, NARAS has done a fair job of amending the rules to adjust to changes in the music industry without kowtowing to every passing fad.  For example, after Whitney Houston was deemed ineligible for best new artist eons ago because she sang back up on Luther Vandross’s records, the eligibility requirement was amended to allow artists who had sung backing vocals, but were not the featured performer, to be eligible for best new artist when their debut release came out.

The three-album rule came about several years ago when Shelby Lynne, who had released something like eight albums but had flown largely under the mainstream radar, won best new artist. For those of us who had been following the supremely talented Lynne for years, it was a mockery of what the category stood for. How could an act who had been releasing albums for something like 10 years suddenly be crowned best new artist? Like every rule, this one cuts both ways: for example, Phoenix, which finally broke through last year with “Lisztomania,” was not eligible for best new artist because it was the group’s fourth album.

Here’s where NARAS had the chance to be with the times—not even ahead of the curve—and failed.  When changing the rules this year, NARAS should have amended “album” to track.  As album sales continue to decline (both as a physical and as a digital commodity), NARAS has to find some way to acknowledge new artists who are breaking through, who might not have had an album drop yet, but have had significant impact through singles. For example, should Kid Cudi have been eligible for best new artist this go-round even though his album did not come out during the eligibility period based on his success? Will Drake be eligible for best new artist next year despite the fact that he’s released several mix tapes? Do they count toward his three albums?  Or should he have been eligible for best new artist already, but wasn’t because he didn’t release an “official” album until this year? 

The Grammys, which hold themselves up to be the gold standard for artistic music awards, needs to figure out how to move into the digital age. To be sure, it is making some strides, in terms of allowing digital only tracks to be eligible in many categories. We understand the desire that there be criteria that must be met to maintain the integrity of the awards, but continued freshening is vital. The Grammys already get knocked around—often unfairly—for seeming  behind the times even though they’ve never pretended to be the faux-hip  MTV Awards  and have made strong efforts to bring younger voters into the fold—but it’s not enough.  Maybe next year.


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Are the Beatles next? Apple Records enters the digital age with James Taylor, Badfinger

Are the Beatles next? Apple Records enters the digital age with James Taylor, Badfinger

Remastered sets, including Billy Preston and Mary Hopkin, come out Oct. 26

You still can’t get the Beatles catalog on iTunes, but maybe this is a step in the right direction. Apple Records, rights holder of all things Beatles, is remastering and reissuing 15 albums non-Fab Four albums released on the label. Additionally, for the first time, the albums will be available digitally, marking the first Apple releases to be offered via download.

Among the titles, all out Oct. 26, are classic albums from James Taylor, Badfinger, Mary Hopkin and Billy Preston, some of which record collectors have been paying as much as $75 for recently.

The Beatles began signing artists to the label in 1968 as Apple’s way to reward them for their success. Often the Beatles participated on the albums: for example, Paul McCartney and George Harrison perform on Taylor’s breakthrough hit “Carolina in my Mind.” McCartney produced Hopkin’s monster hit, ‘Those Were the Days,” and wrote and produced Badfinger’s “Come and Get It.” Harrison produced Preston’s label debut, ‘That’s The Way God Planned It.” John Lennon brought in The Modern Jazz Quartet, while Ringo Starr (Happy birthday, Ringo!! Btw) recruited modern classical composer John Tavener.


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<p>Scissor Sisters live</p>

Scissor Sisters live

Scissor Sisters set to do some night work on new U.S. tour

Bring your dance shoes to the August gigs

Following the release of their sassy new album, “Night Work,” Scissor Sisters starts a North American tour Aug. 21 at Atlanta’s Buckhead Theater.

Tickets for the month-long tour, which ends Sept. 16 in Vancouver, go on sale July 9 through the band’s website. Will they be immune to the summer horribilus hitting so many other acts? Too soon to tell, but we may have them in slighter smaller theaters here, although it looks like many of the venues were selected to allow fans maximum dance room.

The band has also announced a December arena tour in the U.K.

“Night Work” came in at No. 2 in the U.K., where the dance band has a much bigger following. Here, it looks like it will eke out a top 20 start. We’ll know for sure on Wednesday.

Below are the U.S. dates.

8/21            Atlanta, GA                                    The Buckhead Theatre                       
8/23            Washington, DC                        DAR Constitution Hall                        .
8/24            New York, NY                                    Terminal 5                                   
8/27            Philadelphia, PA                        Electric Factory                                   .
8/28            Boston, MA                                    House of Blues                                   
8/29            Montreal, QC                                    Metropolis                                   
8/31            Toronto, ON                                    Sound Academy                      
 9/2            Chicago, IL                                    Riviera Theatre                                   
9/3            Milwaukee, WI                                    The Rave                                   
9/4            Minneapolis, MN                        Epic Nightclub                                   
9/6            Denver, CO                                    Ogden Theatre                                   
9/10            Las Vegas, NV                                    The Pearl Concert Theatre           
9/11            Los Angeles, CA                        Hollywood Palladium                       
9/12            Oakland, CA                                    Fox Theater                                   
9/14            Portland, OR                                    Roseland Theatre                       .
9/15            Seattle, WA                                    The Showbox SODO                       
9/16            Vancouver, BC                                    Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park           


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<p>Kylie Minogue</p>

Kylie Minogue

Credit: AP Photo

Review: Will 'Aphrodite' make you fall in love with Kylie Minogue all over again?

Listen for yourself to a free stream

On the cover of Kylie Minogue’s new album, “Aphrodite,” out today, the dance diva stands, clad in a diaphanous blue gown, her arms outspread like Jesus, looking up beatifically.

That’s right. Minogue is your savior. She is here to save you from all the boring, meaningless dance music out there that doesn’t understand anything but a throbbing beat and that leads only with its loins and feet. As ferocious as the groove may get, Minogue always leads with her heart here. Have a listen.

On “Aphrodite,” her first studio album since 2007’s “X,” she creates a collection whose 12 tracks all fit safely within the parameters of dance, but uses every square inch within those confines. It’s a limited tool box, to be sure, but darn  if Minogue doesn’t use every instrument in it.

Aphrodite, of course, is the goddess of love and, to an extent, Minogue is working a theme here, whether it’s asking for a kiss in “Cupid Boy” or seeking love in the irresistible “Looking for An Angel” (we would have moved that one way up instead of sticking it in the dead-end No. 11 slot).

The title track has a fun, ‘80s vibe and when she sings “I am the original,” you want to scream, “You got that right, sister.” There’s a warmth to Minogue that many other artists plying in dance music don’t have.  Here, she feels like our friend who’s back to lead us by the hand to the dance floor and shepherd us through the maze of beats, whether it’s the techno-dreaminess of “Closer” or the pop, piano-based “Beautiful.” First single, the driving “All the Lovers,” remains one of the strongest cuts, but is far from the only gem on the album.

Much to her credit, Minogue isn’t chasing trends here—there’s nothing remotely Lady GaGa or Ke$ha-like on the album (although there are a few vocoder moments on some tracks that are redolent of current-day Britney)  and we love that at 42, she is completely—and understandably so—comfortable in her own skin.

At the same time, there’s also nothing particularly innovative or forward thinking here.  Working with Stuart Price, best known for his work with Madonna, Minogue has crafted a stellar dance pop record that doesn’t push the boundaries too much (as some felt “X” did) and feels like a warm disco blanket to wrap yourself up in. The songs are all lighthearted, but, working with such writers as Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears and Keane’s  Tim Rice-Oxley, Minogue has selected tunes that fit her to a tee and  none of them sounds disposable.

There’s a reason she has been a superstar for close to 20 years outside of the U.S. The only question is why has the Australian never made it big on our shores.  As strong as “Aphrodite” is, it is unlikely to change that.

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Credit: AP Photo/Katy Winn

HitFix Interview: Pharrell talks scoring 'Despicable Me,' his nighttime habits and Jay-Z

Producer/artist gets animated about working with Steve Carell

Working with Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Madonna or Justin Timberlake?  Awesome.  Working on “Despicable Me?” Priceless. 

Just ask producer/artist Pharrell Williams. The multiple Grammy winner composed the score and wrote four tracks for the new 3-D animated feature starring Steve Carell. Additionally, he co-wrote a track with Robin Thicke.

Pharrell spoke with Hitfix about “Despicable Me,” his cartoon habit and working with Jay-Z. Plus, he  tries to convince us why the bikini clad girls in the new N.E.R.D. video for “Hot ‘N Fun" are liberated.

You give Jack Johnson credit for inspiring you to do “Despicable Me.” How so?

He did the “Curious George” soundtrack and I was so envious of what he’d done, it was so amazing. I was like, “Man, I want that opportunity,” so when I got it, I just seized the moment as much as I could.

What did you think when you first saw footage from “Despicable Me?”

I was blown away and I couldn’t believe I’d gotten the opportunity, so I just worked really hard because I’m a huge kid myself. There’s plenty of times when I’m blessed to be at home and if I’m up late at night, I’ll go eat breakfast cereal at 2 a.m. in the morning, right? Go turn on Boomerang, the vintage cartoon network. That is a fun time for me…I don’t know how to grow up. I haven’t figured it out yet.

“Fun Fun Fun” has this wonderful ’70s lighthearted vibe and plays during an amusement park scene. Were you looking at the footage when you wrote it?

I just imagined what would feel good if you’re up in the air, whatever miles per hour that you travel when you’re doing that. What that felt like.

And it comes to you that easily?

Well, one thing leads to another. It’s not so fast.

The “Despicable Me” theme has some very different elements than a usual theme. What did you want to convey with that?

I wanted to push that experience a little bit better and push the envelope and  the experience on a film that you love by hearing something that you love too. You just wouldn’t expect to hear a Steely Dan melody or chord progression in the world of animation. That’s why I wanted to do it. I wanted to challenge what people would do typically.

You worked with Heitor Pereira on the score. What did you learn about instrumentation that you didn’t know before?

If anything, I got to learn feel. I got to learn more about allowing the moment to talk to you and tell you what to do because I’ve known that, but it’s always been, “yes, you must express it in one of five different ways of expression.” With a film, it has no walls, no parameters. You just have to be very honest with what you give.

What do you want to do next? You’re a huge “Star Trek” fan. Do you want to do a live action movie?

If given the opportunity I’ll seize it.

That sounds very low key.

No, I’m very aggressive about it. It’s just that I don’t like to talk so much about what I’m about to do.But I’m very excited and I’m very thankful for this opportunity because it has just opened so many doors that I didn’t know existed.

Does this mean that you have something that you’re not willing to tell us yet?

(slowly says) Yeeeessss.

Does this mean there’s another movie project lined up?

Well, I don’t want to say so much.

I believe that just happened when you were asked about working with Jay-Z. You said you were sworn to confidentiality.

Yeah. The bigger the artist, the more they don’t want you to talk.

The new N.E.R.D. album, “Nothing” comes out Sept. 7.

It’s very inspired by everything that’s been going on in the world. The last time people had a lot to talk about was in the early '70s and I’d say that’s where we are now. Our album has a really hippie, revolutionary feel to it.

The video for “Hot ‘N Fun" may have a hippie vibe, but you’re surrounded by scantily-clad, beautiful women of all shapes and sizes. That’s a nice perq of being a rock star.

You know what? We want to liberate the women.

Really? Tell me how you’re doing that?

Because we want you to appreciate yourself for yourself and not an industry standard. So it’s not that you can’t wear those nice clothes, just know that you’re a beautiful person, foremost, without them and they don’t make you better necessarily. Once you know that and you know that you’re the cream of the crop and that you’re important to everyone’s existence, then it’s fine for you have those clothes and you’ll actually love wearing those clothes even more, but don’t let those clothes make you feel encouraged or discouraged. They’re just clothes. While we really love that and I love how they look on women, in a flash you could have none of that on and be just as gorgeous, if not better.

That’s very interesting coming from a man who runs a clothing line.

Yes ma’am.

Quincy Jones recently talked about how he was concerned that today's new producers are no longer  learning how to produce like he and his generation did. Is that a valid concern?

Yeah, it’s a valid concern, but the business is changing. Unfortunately, people are caring more about the technology and less about the content. To Quincy’s point, there has to be equal consideration given to both because content is nothing without technology and technology has no purpose without content.

Whom are you dying to work with?

Eminem. I think GaGa could be interested. There’s a lot of people.

I last saw you at a Springsteen concert. What about the Boss?

He’s interesting. I would love to. I can’t imagine that he’d want to or could envision what we do, but I’d love to work with him. I like working with challenging people across the board.

You can hear Pharrell's work on the big screen this Friday when "Despicable Me" opens in theaters nationwide.

Are you excited about N.E.R.D.'s new album?

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