<p>Greyson Chance</p>

Greyson Chance

Ellen DeGeneres signs Greyson Chance to new label, eleveneleven

What happened to Interscope? Was the whole thing a media ploy all along?

After one year as a judge on “American Idol,” Ellen DeGeneres has certainly seen enough good and bad singing to know what she likes.  And she likes Greyson Chance. On her television show today (May 26) she announced that she’s starting a record label, Eleven Eleven, and her first signing is, you guessed it, Chance.

Here’s the thing though, there’s so much of this that remains unclear that we’re trying to get answers about. First off, we and other places widely reported that Chance had signed with Interscope. Plus, we talked to a source who told us that Interscope chairman Jimmy Ienner had directly signed him and that Geffen chairman Ron Fair was handling A&R duties.

Here’s what we’re trying to figure out: Is DeGeneres’s label going through Interscope?  Why did the rumors float out (which Interscope’s representative never confirmed for us) that Chance had signed with Interscope? Has this whole thing been a big media ploy all along going back to the original YouTube video of Chance performing “Paparazzi” at his Oklahoma school assembly and then appearing on DeGeneres's show two weeks ago while Lady GaGa called in? (By the way, LG's manager is now co-managing Chance, along with Madonna's manager). Either this was all planned or Chance is the luckiest kid ever.

This is DeGeneres’s second go-round with a label. In the ‘90s, she started an Atlantic-distributed label called Soda Jerk. I interviewed her about it  for a Billboard story and she clearly knew music back then and was very actively pursuing a number of artists, one in particular, whom she lost to another label.  I was impressed with her love of music, although she was still figuring out how to navigate the label system.  Soda Jerk, which quietly went away, also put out “Taste This,” a recording of one of DeGeneres’s stand up shows.

We’ll update this story as we find out more.

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Listen: Ne-Yo's in love with a 'Beautiful Monster'

Is this a new direction for the R&B superstar?

Someone’s got a rocket ship and they’re not afraid to use it. As big as Ne-Yo is, we have the feeling he's poised to explode into the stratosphere with his new album out in September.

But first we have the debut single, “Beautiful Monster.” The track, co-written and co-produced with Stargate, is a total electronic, space age-y, hand-clap creation and the contrast between the sterility of the music and the warm vulnerability of his voice is exhilarating.  We feel like he may jet pack into the atmosphere at any point.

Like many of Ne-Yo’s hits, “Beautiful Monster” mines the territory between love and hate. He’s in love with a woman, who’s “playing with his heart and playing with his mind.” But in the time-honored tradition of such songs as the great “Use Me” by Bill Withers,  Ne-Yo doesn’t mind at all, and, in fact, wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s a slow groove, hypnotic song that doesn’t have the melodic lifts and charms of his past hits, but it’s compelling in its own way. He also throws in little exhalations that recall his musical idol, Michael Jackson.
So open your ears and listen as Ne-Yo tries on something a little different from what he’s served us before.

And while you’re on MySpace, click on the link to his ballad “Mad.” It’s been played a staggering 99 million times. Don’t you want to be the click that makes it 100 million?



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Taio Cruz, Kesha

Watch: Kesha gets it on with a toilet for 'Dirty Picture' with Taio Cruz

Lots of pretty people posing purposefully

Nothing says romance like texting a dirty picture to your loved one. At least if you’re  Taio Cruz and Ke$ha. Why are we not surprised?

I doubt we’re going to remember either one of these creatures in five years, but for now, they’re captured pop airwaves:  Cruz with “Break Your Heart” and Ke$ha with “Tik Tok.”  So it seems only natural to have them come together for “Dirty Picture.” The song and video start off very sweet: Cruz is driving around, sounding a little like Seal, as he sings about missing his loved one. So he asks her to send a dirty picture to get the juices flowing while they’re apart.

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Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera makes a bizarre last minute summer tour cancellation.

Credit: AP Photo

Christina Aguilera postpones summer 'Bionic' tour until 2011

Singer cites conflicts with commitments to new album and movie

Christina Aguilera has postponed her tour, slated to begin this summer, until 2011. Announced only two weeks ago and slated to begin July 15, the North American tour consisted of 20 dates with Leona Lewis opening. It was in support of  the singer’s first album in four years, “Bionic,” which comes out June 8.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that promoter Live Nation released a statement announcing the move because Aguilera had too many commitments surrounding the promotion of “Bionic,” as well as “Burlesque,” her movie with Cher, which comes out in November.

We don’t know how tickets were selling, but given that they had only gone on sale to the public on May 21, it seems unlikely that poor sales played a part in the decision to yank the tour. However, we’ll also say it’s very strange that only two weeks after announcing the tour, her people decided she’s now too busy to prepare for the tour. Couldn’t they have figured that out two weeks ago?

There is no mention on the homepage of Aguilera’s website, even though several items were added today including the making of her “Not Myself Tonight” video and a video of an artist drawing Aguilera. If you drill down to a May 17 press release about VIP ticket packages and click on that, you are eventually led to a page that says the tour is postponed.  There’s also no statement on Live Nation’s website, although there are no tickets for any Aguilera shows available, The New York Times reported May 23 that VIP tickets for the shows were selling for $800 and included a photo op with Aguilera.

More details as they become available on HitFix.


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<p>&quot;Sex and the City 2&quot;</p>

"Sex and the City 2"

STP, Smashing Pumpkins, 'Sex and the City' lead new release week

A few other acts not starting with the letter S also put out albums

If you needed any more indication that the summer blockbuster season is upon us, just consider no fewer than four soundtracks come out this week, including for the dead-on-arrival "MacGruber,"  "Prince of Persia" and "Sex & The City 2." Otherwise, May 25 belongs to Stone Temple Pilots' return after nine long years.

[List of releases after the jump...]

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<p>STP's Scott Weiland</p>

STP's Scott Weiland

Review: Stone Temple Pilots go old school on first album in nine years

Is it worth the wait?

Even though they came of age during the grunge era, Stone Temple Pilots are a throwback to the rock and roll bands of the ‘60s and ’70 replete with all the key ingredients: mighty guitar riffs, strong melodies, indelible hooks and a lead singer with swagger and charisma to spare.

On their first album in nine years, “Stone Temple Pilots,” the quartet has lost none of its potency even if there’s nothing here that grabs hold with quite the insta-grip of an “Interstate Love Song” or “Plush.” Scott Weiland’s supple voice hasn’t been ravished by his rock and roll excesses (he recently told Billboard that he’s been drug free for seven years) and  bassist Robert DeLeo and guitarist Dean DeLeo still know their way around a well-crafted hook. Together, with drummer Eric Kretz, they’ve created a strong, mainstream rock record that heralds their influences: the time-honored music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, T Rex and David Bowie.

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Natasha Bedingfield

Natasha Bedingfield performing on the Today Show last August.

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Listen: Natasha Bedingfield wants to 'Touch' you on new track

'Pocketful of Sunshine' gal hits the dance floor for ambient, hypnotic track

It is turning into a Diva-delicious summer. In the past two weeks, we’ve gotten new tracks from Katy Perry, Robyn, Christina Aguilera and Kylie Minogue, all of which are certain to burn up the dance floors in coming weeks. Now add Natasha Bedingfield to the list.

Bedingfield has massive hits, like “Unwritten” and “Pocketful of Sunshine,” but she still doesn’t have the name and face recognition of most of the women listed above. That’s not really likely to change with “Touch.” Guess what’s also unlikely to change? The near ubiquity of her songs in commercials. Expect the chorus of this one to be blaring at you from every body lotion or feminine hygiene ad for the next several months.

She doesn’t get a lot of credit for it since she seems like such a straight arrow and she’s not in the tabloids all the time, but Bedingfield takes cool musical risks. Here, on this deep dance track, she’s singing in a fairly flat monotone that matches the completely mundane details about which she’s detailing, surrounded by layers of ambient dance beats. But the chorus amps up everything, “when we dance, when we laugh, when we touch.”  And the next thing you know you’re twirling around your apartment, singing along. Maybe that’s just me.

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Apple iPad iPhone

Apple's iPad and iPhone.  Increasingly dominant in driving sales to the iTunes store.

Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Music Power Rankings: The Apple of retail's eye

Greyson Chance sticks around for week two. Why are Taylor Swift and Bjork on the list?

Apple faces questions from every corner: did it buy LaLa just to shut it down? Will the iPad overtake Mac sales?  Does Apple want to kill Flash?  One thing we know for sure: Apple’s title as the biggest music seller in the U.S. just gained even more breathing room.  Apple surpassed Walmart as the lead music retailer in 2008. Two years later, it has grown to the point that Apple's iTunes store sells more than Walmart and Best Buy combined. Newly released figures show that  iTunes store accounted for 26.7% of all music sales in the U.S. last year, that’s up 5 points from 2008.

1.  Apple (not ranked last week):  Apple’s iTunes now accounts for 26.7% of all music sales in the U.S. Will its success all go up in a Cloud?

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<p>Mr. Schuester from &quot;Glee&quot;</p>

Mr. Schuester from "Glee"

Does the power of 'Glee' take 'Vol. 3' to the top or do the Stones roll to No. 1?

What happens to Justin Bieber's 'World?'

Gleeks, rejoice! For the second time in the last few weeks, “Glee” will top the charts next week.

“Glee: The Music, Vol 3 Showstoppers” is on track to land at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week by a wide margin over the Rolling Stones’ reissue of “Exile on Main St.”“Glee’s” “The Power of Madonna” debuted in the  top spot the week of April 26.

Landing at No. 3 will be the Black Keys’ “Brothers.” Other new titles bowing in the top 10, according to Hits Daily Double, will be  Nas & Damian Marley’s “Distant Relatives,” Band of Horses’ “Infinite Arms,” and  LCD Soundsystem’s “This is Happening.”

Last week’s No. 1, Justin Bieber’s “My World 2.0,” drops to No. 3, but only loses about 5,000 in sales.

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<p>&quot;Twilight Saga: Eclipse&quot;</p>

"Twilight Saga: Eclipse"

Watch: Muse's 'Neutron Star Collision' video from 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'

Bella and Edward have a total eclipse of the heart

We’re not sure we like Bella’s longer hair.  That’s our total emotional reaction to the video for Muse’s “Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever),” the first track from the “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” soundtrack.

Our second thought: Give us a roll of quarters and some duct tape and we could make a better video than this. Did the studio spend the entire budget on Robert Pattinson’s make-up and fake contact lenses for Dakota Fanning?  Oooooh, Muse in concert in shadows and cool colors. Like we haven’t seen that before.  The entire video is comprised of shots of the band in concert and stills from the movie. And, oh yeah, stills of the band playing in front of stills from the movie. It’s more a flip book than a video.

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