Inside Music with Melinda Newman
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It's been two years since Alicia Keys' last album, "As I Am" came out but it doesn't feel like she's been gone at all between her tour, acting, James Bond-theme writing, penning Whitney's new single, singing with Jay-Z, etc. But she's now officially back with "Doesn't Mean Anything," the first single from her forthcoming album.
My first thought was, "Holy cow, this sounds like Leona Lewis." That was also my second and third thought as well. The mid-tempo tune's tale of woe? Nothing matters since Keys' baby said goodbye. Even worse, as we learn in the bridge, she pushed him away.
But the more I listened to it, the more it sounded like Keys. It's not "No One," but musically, it's within that family. It's a solid, if not stellar, return. "Doesn't Mean Anything" doesn't break any new ground for Keys, but as is often the case with a first single from a new project, it serves as a reintroduction and precursor to the more powerful songs on the album.
Release includes Nas, Raphael Saadiq, Jeff Beck and Sheila E
Joss Stone is the latest artist to sign an exclusive retail deal: her next Virgin Records album, "Colour Me Free," out Oct. 20, will be released through Target. The digital version will also be available through iTunes.
Stone recorded the album of new material at her mother's club, Mama Stone's, in Wellington, England.
"I woke up one morning and wanted to make an album," Stone says in a statement.. "It's very, very raw - basically a bunch of musicians, writers, and myself just jamming. The album was not dictated or forced. It was an organic process where each musician was given the freedom to create their sound. It's an honest and accurate representation of where I am as an artist and person right now. I am really proud of the music and excited to have people hear the songs."
Guests include Raphael Saadiq, Jeff Beck, Sheila E., Nas and David Sanborn.
Or does Jay-Z's 'Blueprint' plan to stay on top?
Despite a major sales surge following Whitney Houston's two-day appearance on "Oprah Winfrey," she still can't kick Jay-Z out of the top spot. The rapper is on target to stay at No. 1 for the second consecutive week next week with sales of around 250,000 copies. Houston, after falling from around 300,000 in sales two weeks ago to 88,000 last week, sees a 70,000-piece bump due to her TV appearance. She moves from No. 3 to No. 2 behind "Blueprint 3."
Though newcomers are locked out of the top two spots, a number of just-released CDs will have strong showings, according to Hits Daily Double. British rockers Muse enter the chart at No. 3, innovative rapper Kid Cudi breaks in at No. 4, Lil Wayne protégé Drake is No. 6 or 7, while Lil Boosie sneaks in around No. 9.
The wild card here is Pearl Jam's "Backspacer," which comes out Sunday via Target, iTunes and other independent retailers, making its first day of sales eligible for next week's chart (the Nielsen SoundScan chart runs Monday-Sunday).
What will be on 'This is It' soundtrack?
We were at a party at a major Los Angeles recording studio last week and the rumor was that in the studio beside us a Grammy-winning engineer and an executive very close to Michael Jackson were frantically working on mixing some previously unreleased Jackson tracks.
We sniffed around a little bit more and didn't get far, but some news today sheds a little more light on last week's activity. TMZ is reporting that attorneys for Jackson's estate were in court today asking for permission to make a deal with Sony Music (which owns the bulk of Jackson's catalog) for a soundtrack album that will come out around the time "This is It" arrives in film theaters. We don't know if our studio news and the soundtrack are related, but it's pretty easy to believe they could be.
As you know, "This is It" is a documentary culled from the rehearsal footage for Jackson's 50-show run at London's O2 Arena. The shows were slated to begin a mere weeks after Jackson's June death. The documentary will run for two weeks in theaters starting Oct. 26.
Band's new 44-song collection will be free online
Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan
Following in the footsteps of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, the Smashing Pumpkins (i.e. Billy Corgan and whomever he's recruited to record with him) will offer their next album, "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope" for free. All 44 songs.
The 44 songs, based upon The Tarot's "The Fool's Journey," will be released one at a time starting around Halloween. Ultimately the songs will be sold as 11 EPs of four songs each and as a deluxe box set with enhanced artwork and bonus tracks.
"The commitment that is most important is the one I'm making to you--that the music of 'Teargarden by Kaleidyscope' will be available for free to everyone. All 44 songs: free for all," said Corgan on the band's website.
He had more to say: Each song will be made available absolutely for free, to anyone anywhere. There will be no strings attached. Free will mean free, which means you won't have to sign up for anything, give an email address, or jump through a hoop. You will be able to go and take the song or songs as you wish, as many times as you wish."
November 10 set includes traditional and new tunes
It's about time. Tori Amos, who grew up singing holiday carols as the daughter of a minister (and then has made a career railing against her religious upbringing), is finally making a Christmas record. But doing a straight-ahead holiday album would never fit the Cornflake girl, oh no...
"Midwinter Graces," out Nov. 10, feature the quirky Amos taking a number of traditional carols, and reinventing them, as well as adding two original tracks, "Pink and Glitter" (we hope this is a protest against the crime of putting up a fake white tree with big pink ornaments) and "Our New Year." Expect big band, lush arrangements.
The "Midwinter Graces" tracklist is:
'Come Now,' says Steve Van Zandt
Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt
For Bruce Springsteen fans, there's always the fear that the current E Street Band tour will be the last one-some of us still haven't recovered from when his disbanded the E Street Band from 1989-1999. Springsteen has said many times that he will never announce a so-called "farewell" tour; he'll just finish a tour and there simply won't do another one.
So that's why some comments by members of the E Street Band, reported on www.Billboard.com are causing heart palpitations among the faithful--even though,quite frankly, they're nothing new. In a conference call with reporters on Sept. 16, guitarist Steve Van Zandt said, "It could be the last show, could be the last tour. You never know. We do every show like it's our last show, anyway. But don't wait around; if you're waiting to come see us, come now. This is a good time to see us."
However, guitarist Nils Lofgren said the band members never know what's coming after a tour concludes. "As far as I know we'll wrap up at Thanksgiving, and that'll be it for the time being," Lofgren said. "For 25 years since I joined up, my experience is that...at the end of the tour -- for instance, the 'Born in the U.S.A.' Tour -- that was it, no future plans. I got back to my solo thing...writing my next batch of songs and just get on with my musical life. And if there's another call and project, I'm honored to be a part of it."
Springsteen and the E Street Band have been on a worldwide tour for the past two years, spanning both the "Magic" and "Working on a Dream" CDs. Springsteen has already announced that his next project will be a solo CD without the band. The current tour end Nov. 22 in Buffalo, N.Y.
As the members get older-- the astonishingly fit Springsteen turns 60 in a few weeks-- health issues have hit some of the band and have helped fuel the "last tour" rumors. Lofgren had both hips replaced during a recent tour hiatus, The Big Man, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, at 67, is the oldest member of the band, and he often has to be helped on and off the stage because of his arthritis. Original member, keyboardist Danny Federici, died of melanoma last year. Through it all, the band has soldiered on and delivered some of its most potent and vital shows during this tour.
Country singer sticks up for best friend Taylor Swift
Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Taylor Swift may have accepted Kanye West's apology for crashing her acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night, but Swift's best friend, Kellie Pickler, isn't quite ready to forgive the rapper yet.
At last night's CMA Songwriter Series at West Hollywood's House of Blues, Pickler joined top Nashville songwriters Bob DiPiero, Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey for an evening of songs and story telling.
Pickler had tweeted to Swift Sunday night following the incident: "Tater Tot, you handled yourself with grace. Kanye, don't mess with my lil' sis." However, she seemed reluctant to bring up the incident last night. We talked to her prior to the event and she deflected our question about whether she's spoken with Swift since the VMAs (actually, she told us she'd her phone in the toilet and lost all her numbers).
On stage, the "American Idol" contestant-turned-country star was mum about West, instead staying true to the spirit of the evening where the songwriters talking about the story behind a song before performing it. She finished her big hit, "Best Days of Your Life," co-written with Swift, and then DiPiero said to her "You should dedicate that to Kanye West."
Any resolve Pickler had to keep her mouth shut crumbled and off she went. "I think what it is... is he just doesn't like country music. Remember when Gretchen [Wilson] kicked his ass at the Grammys-or was it the American Music Awards-Well, F*** you... Country's going nowhere." She then shot West the bird. In other words, you mess with my friend and you're going to have to deal with me.
Read about the rest of Pickler's comments-she didn't stop with West- here.
N.E.R.D., Jet, Owl City, Parachute and others on soundtrack
Adele with the Raconteurs, Santigold and Owl City are coming to the 90210...musically at least.
They are among the artists on "Soundtrack 90210," a companion to the CW's television series, "90210." And each is providing exclusive, previously unreleased tracks, a feat that's rarely achieved by soundtracks (except for, well, the forthcoming "Twilight Saga: New Moon" set).
In a sign of TV series' increasingly growing role in exposing new music, each of the songs will be heard in episodes throughout the 2009-2010 season. In fact, viewers watching last night heard Ok Go's "I Want You So Bad," one of 14 tracks on the Oct. 13 CBS Records release.
The complete track listing for "Soundtrack 90210" is as follows:
Adele with the Raconteurs "Many Shades of Black"
N.E.R.D. featuring Santigold "Soldier"
JET "One Hipster One Bullit
Mute Math "Valium"
OK Go "I Want You So Bad"
The All-American Rejects "Sierra's Song"
Anberlin "A Perfect Tourniquet"
Owl City "Sunburn"
Will Dailey "You're So Cold"
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus "Love Seat"
Parachute "One Small Step"
Sarah Solovay "Hearts Collide"
Darrelle London "Understood"
Stars Crashing Cars "City Girl"
John E. Davis "90210 Main Title (2009 Remix)"
Watch the video: Which famous friends are along for the ride?
Jason Mraz in "Beautiful Mess: Live from Earth"
Jason Mraz isn't content to just take over the radio airwaves, now he's coming after your DVD player.
Fresh off his omnipresent tune, "I'm Yours," setting the record for the longest run on Billboard's Hot 100, Mraz is set to release a live CD/DVD.
Check out this preview for Mraz's "Beautiful Mess: Live from Earth." The set takes us around the world with Mraz on his world tour and shows that he has lots and lots of female fans, including his buddy Colbie Caillat.
That DVD and CD arrive in stores Nov. 10.
Now if we could just get him to ditch that hat... time for a new look, Jason.