Keith Urban CMT 2010

Keith Urban performing at the CMT music festival Friday in Nashville, Tenn.

Credit: AP Photo/Wade Payne

Keith Urban rocks the CMA Music Festival and other highlights from Nashville

Miranda Lambert likes her Budweiser; Julianne Hough and Cher talk men

The CMA Music Fest in Nashville is an annual event, but this year’s event, June 10-13, felt like anything but business as usual.

This time six weeks ago, LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and host to the big multi-artist concerts held every night, was underwater. Whether the CMA Fest would take place this year was in question as the Cumberland River overflowed its banks,  flooding the very streets where stages for outdoor festivities were to stand.

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<p>Christina Aguilera</p>

Christina Aguilera

Credit: Richard Drew/AP

Xtina who? It's the vampires vs. the singing nerds on next week's album chart

Where does that leave Christina Aguilera?

Two cultural phenomena duke it out for the top spot on next week’s Billboard 200: Will the vampires conquer the nerds?  Right now, it’s neck and neck (every pun intended) between the Glee Cast’s “Journey to the Regionals” and the soundtrack for “Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” according to Hits Daily Double. Both look to sell up to 170,000 copies.  (In the meantime,  the last “Glee” album, “Vol. 3, Showstoppers,” will likely land at No. 9).

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Robert Plant and Allison Krause
Credit: AP Photo

Robert Plant sets Sept. 14 release date for 'Band of Joy'

Album is first since his Grammy-winning 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss

Robert Plant will release “Band of Joy” on Sept. 14. The set is Plant’s interpretation of a number of tunes ranging from Los Lobos’ Angel Dance to English/Appalachian folk ballad “Cindy I’ll Marry You Some Day.”

He’s backed by guitarist Buddy Miller, with whom Plant produced the set, multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, singer/songwriter Patty Griffin and bassist Byron House.

As we previously reported, Plant will take this outfit on the road starting July 13. This marks his first album since the Grammy-winning “Raising Sand,” his collaboration with Alison Krauss. A follow-up to that album was shelved.

1.      Angel Dance
2.      House of Cards
3.      Central Two-O-Nine
4.      Silver Rider
5.      You Can't Buy My Love
6.      I'm Falling In Love Again
7.      The Only Sound That Matters
8.      Monkey
9.      Cindy I'll Marry You Someday
10.   Harm's Swift Way
11.   Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down
12.   Even This Shall Pass Away

What do you think? Are you excited about another Plant release?

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<p>Julianne Hough</p>

Julianne Hough

Credit: Peter Kramer/AP

Julianne Hough explains what is going on with 'Footloose,' 'Burlesque' and her new album

Is she going back to 'Dancing with the Stars?'

Julianne Hough has a lot on her plate. In addition to possibly returning to “Dancing with the Stars” next season (she’s playing coy on that one), she is putting the finishing touches on her second solo album and working on two films.

Hitfix went to a listening party for her new album yesterday at the Mercury Nashville offices.  We’ll get to the music in a second, but she also filled in folks on the latest with the ever-moving status of the “Footloose” remake.

She remains attached to the project as the female lead and said a new draft has brought back some of the “edge” of the original as opposed to making it into a full blown musical. “Hustle & Flow” director Craig Brewer is now helming the project after Kenny Ortega left the movie.  She said shooting begins this summer, despite the absence of a confirmed male lead for the part originally played by Kevin Bacon. After Zac Efron and Chace Crawford both dropped out, Paramount has now been conducting an on-line video search.

Hough also appears in “Burlesque,” which stars Cher and Christina Aguilera. She plays against type in the movie, playing someone “red head and pregnant.”

But the focus on the event was music, with Hough introducing four new tracks including first single “Is That So Wrong,” which is about not wanting to be alone “when a friend is not enough.” Hough co-wrote the mid-tempo ballad with Sarah Buxton and Blair Daly.

Hough also played another mid-tempo tune about heartbreak, “That’s What the Night is For.”  “This one is moody and I see all kinds of visual things, like at awards shows, hanging from the ceiling,” she said, leading her record company executives blanched as they had a visual of their own: The amount of money it would take to make such a performance happen.

She also previewed the up-tempo, spunky “Too Good to Be True,”  a song that, as Hough puts it, makes you want to “dance your butt off,” as well as “Wildfire,” about a girl who gets scared and always burns the man she’s with (not literally, of course.”  This song is about me to a T,” she said. “I wish I’d written this song.”  Is Chuck Wicks, her former beau, listening?

The album, produced by Dann Huff, best known for his work with artists like Faith Hill and Keith Urban, finds Hough displaying a confidence missing from her 2008 self-titled debut. That set debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, but failed to produce any significant singles beyond “That Song in My Head,” which stalled at No. 18.  No release date for the new set has been announced.

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Katy Perry, backstage at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards

Katy Perry had a big week, but it wasn't big enough to land at No. 1.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Music Power Rankings: Two kings, a queen and a pop princess top this week's chart

Plus, why does Jay-Z make the list twice?

We’re  in Nashville, so we’re feeling a little bit country and not so rock and roll this week. In fact, our first two slots go to country superstars: one veteran and one relative newcomer.  Billboard named George Strait the top country artist of the past 25 years this week based on chart performance.  The beauty of Strait is that he has just gone about his business for the past 30 years. There’s nothing flashy about him, he stands like a statue in concert, he gives virtually no interviews and there’s never even a hint of a scandal about him. He just consistently records great songs.

He’s never come near crossing over into any other formats, so unless you listen to country radio, it’s possible you’ve never heard a George Strait song.  But just so you know, Strait has close to 60 No. 1s, that’s more than any other artist in history, including the Beatles.

We’re also saluting the power of Carrie Underwood.  While she and Kelly Clarkson have been the most successful “American Idol” veterans, she continues to soar while Clarkson has somewhat plateaued. Wednesday night (June 9), she snagged two awards at the CMT Music Awards, including video of the year. This comes on top of her back-to-back entertainer of the year awards at the ACM Awards in May, making her the only female to win that honor twice. We barely knew who she was five years ago and now she’s at the top of the country music pantheon.

This week's complete music power rankings:

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Carrie Underwood CMT

Carrie Underwood performs at the 2010 CMT's.

Credit: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

Carrie Underwood wins big at the CMT Music Awards

'American Idol' champ takes home video of the year as Taylor Swift goes home empty handed

Carrie Underwood needs a bigger awards shelf.  Following her big wins in April at the Academy of Country Music Awards, she continued her streak as the big winner at Wednesday’s CMT Music Awards in Nashville, snaring honors for video of the year for “Cowboy Casanova” and CMT performance of the year for “Temporary Home”  from her CMT “Invitation Only” special. She was the night's only multiple winner.

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<p>Sarah McLachlan</p>

Sarah McLachlan

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Watch: Sarah McLachlan loves life and bubbles in 'Loving You is Easy' video

First single from 'Laws of Illusion' out June 15

Sarah McLachlan is feeling good and it shows.  In her new video for “Loving You is Easy,”  her breeziest song, maybe, ever, she struts her stuff. Her new man has her feeling sexy and sultry.

To her and director Liz Friedlander’s credit,  there’s no literal interpretation of the lyrics: we don’t see McLachlan burst into flames when she sings she’s “on fire” or leap into the air when she rhapsodizes about his love taking her “higher.” It’s just McLachlan in an array of slinky, but not inappropriate, clothes,  bubbles (nothing says “sexy time” like bubbles in the air) and confetti. At one point, she’s cheesily joined by two dancers whose pas de deux replicates sex, I guess.   She’s definitely feeling R rated, but the video is a G. We’ve seen more cleavage  on the Disney Channel, but that’s not a complaint.  The point of the video, which debuted on Huffington Post, is about how her guy’s love makes her feel and it’s clearly delicious.

“Loving You is Easy” is the first single from “Laws of Illusion,” McLachlan’s first studio album in eight years. “Laws” is out June 15.


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Daniel Lanois

Daniel Lanois in concert.

Producer Daniel Lanois in intensive care following motorcycle accident

Cancels all tour dates and promotional activities for next two months

Grammy-winning producer/artist Daniel Lanois, best known for his work with such artists as U2, Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel,  is in intensive care after a motorcycle accident on June 5 in Los Angeles.

Lanois, who is part of Jive Records’ act Black Dub, has canceled all upcoming tour dates and other activities, according to a statement released by his label.  He is expected to be released from the hospital soon, and will be recuperating for the next two months.

The statement did not go into detail about the accident, other than to say he suffered “multiple injuries.”

Look for updates as they become available on HitFix.

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Eminem latest collaboration with Rihanna sounds like a smash...if you can find it online.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Eminem and Rihanna on gutwrenching 'Love the Way You Lie'

Track tackles domestic abuse on raw, blistering track

If the few songs we’ve heard from “Recovery” are any indication, Eminem is back in fine form after stumbling with “Relapse.” “Love the Way You Lie”  featuring Rihanna,tthe latest tune to slip out from the June 22 release, is a sucker punch to the gut about domestic abuse.

Eminem nails the rage of an abuser: he goes from promising the violence will never happen again, then tries to make it sound like the woman is a somewhat willing partner, rapping “That’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano.” The tension in his voice rises as he goes from being contrite to confessing he’ll tie her to the bed and set the house on fire she tries to leave again.

Rihanna’s chorus is haunting as she sings:“Just going to stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts/ Just going to stand there and hear me cry, that’s alright because I love the way you lie.” The words come perilously close to blaming the victim, but the impact of hearing someone who has lived through domestic violence sing those lyrics creates an almost visceral reaction. We can only hope that’s not how she felt when Chris Brown was hitting her. She's more forthcoming here than on any track on "Rated R."

Musically, “Love to Way You Lie” recalls “Lose Yourself.” The subject matter makes it difficult to listen to, but Eminem is at his best when he tackles tough terrain honestly and without flinching.

Eminem's label is taking down the song as quickly as it pops up on YouTube, but if you're quick, you can still find a version.  It's worth the hunt.

 What do you think?



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Chris Brown

Chris Brown is stuck stateside for a bit.

Chris Brown cancels European tour after England denies his visa request

British Home Office states right to refuse entry to anyone with criminal record

The U.K. wants no part of Chris Brown. The singer has canceled his European tour after Great Britain denied him a visa to enter the country. The outing included three dates in England.

Brown tweeted “"SORRY to all the fans in Europe!!! My tour is cancelled. I’m pretty sure y’all know my entry was denied in your country. I love you. SORRY!!"

The tweet, which was reported on a number of news websites, has since been deleted. We’re a little concerned that Brown seems to think that Europe is a country, but, quite frankly, that’s the least of his problems.

Great British officials can deny a visa to anyone with a criminal record… so it seems that Brown’s domestic violence episode with Rihanna continues to haunt him.

His representative told TMZ that the denial was based on “issues surrounding his work visa.” 

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