Kesha or Ke$ha may be on her way to No. 1

Kesha,  Ke$ha -- whatever -- may be on her way to No. 1.  Does Gaga have some competition or is she just a one hit wonder?

Does Ke$ha clean Susan Boyle's chart clock with the 'Tik-Tok'-led 'Animal?'

Who comes in No. 1 on this week's album chart?

 Tik Tok,” indeed. The clock has run out on Susan Boyle’s six weeks at the top of the album chart. The British reality show discovery has been stopped in her tracks by America’s new party girl, Ke$ha, whose debut album, “Animal,” is slated to come in at No. 1 later this week. Holla!

“Animal,” on the strength of singles chart-topper “Tik Tok,” will move around 140,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. That’s enough to handily beat Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” which will surpass the 100,000 mark and move its seven-week tally to about 3.2 million copies in the U.S. alone.

The rest of the chart is dominated by women, with the odd slot reserved for a chipmunk or a budding teen idol or two. Behind Boyle, will be Alicia Keys (“The Element of Freedom”), Lady GaGa (“The Fame”), Mary J. Blige (“Stronger with Each Tear”) and Taylor Swift (“Fearless”) Then the Fergie-led Black Eyed Peas and “The E.N.D.” and the “Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” pipe up in the lower half of the Top 10 before Lady Gaga’s second Top 10 entry, “The Fame Monster” and pop pipsqueak Justin Bieber’s “My World” come in.

“Tik Tok,” indeed. The clock has run out on Susan Boyle’s six weeks at the top of the album chart. The British reality show discovery has been stopped in her tracks by America’s new party girl, Ke$ha, whose debut album, “Animal,” is slated to come in at No. 1 later this week. Holla!

“Animal,” on the strength of singles chart-topper “Tik Tok,” will move around 140,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. That’s enough to handily beat Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” which will surpass the 100,000 mark and move its seven-week tally to about 3.2 million copies in the U.S. alone.


Read Full Post
<p>Elvis Presley</p>

Elvis Presley

Credit: AP Photo

Happy Birthday, Elvis: A tribute to the King

A list of essential Presley

Today marks what would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday if he hadn’t come to an untimely end in his bathroom on in August 1977 (Can you imagine what the news coverage would have been like if we’d had the Internet and 24-hour news channels back then? Oh yeah, just think about the circus surrounding Michael Jackson’s death).

I was born after Presley’s heyday. My memories of him in real time are very scant, other than he was some bloated joke in a tacky white jumpsuit. That all changed in the mid-1990s when I read Peter Guralnick’s astonishing thorough and totally captivating “Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley.” He examines Presley’s birth and rise through his induction in the Army in 1958. Guralnick’s remarkable feat is he writes so compellingly about Presley’s journey and his hopes and desires in such a riveting, of-the-moment way that as Presley starts to pursue his career in music--- beginning with cutting an acetate for his mom’s birthday at Sun Studios—you are rooting for him as if you don’t know whether he’ll make it or not. It is mandatory reading for anyone who considers him or herself a music fan (as are Guralnick’s other books).

Reading the book started a serious love affair for me with Elvis that included a pilgrimage to Memphis to go to Graceland and Sun Studios. I began reading every book I could get my hands on, including the tacky ones written by Memphis Mafia, his sycophantic entourage long before most artists had them.  Nothing was too detailed, but eventually I started to get skeeved out by knowing that Presley allegedly never slept with Priscilla Presley again after she gave birth because of his Madonna/Whore complex and that he liked girls to wear white panties. After that I decided to focus solely on his unparalleled talent (but just try to get those two facts out of your head now, I dare you). I don't know if anyone has ever matched it. Michael Jackson may come close, but Presley is singularly the most important pop artist of the 20th century.

For anyone who hasn’t delved into Presley’s music, start with the early stuff. It’s the best. The 1954-1958 years are his rawest and most energetic. Presley gains power and confidence with each hit. His voice is a marvel, soft as a paramour’s touch on “Love Me Tender,” swaggering on “That’s All Right,” achingly gorgeous on “Love Me Tender.”

But equally important—and vital viewing—is the 1968 Comeback Special. It’s brilliant, but only because Presley, after going downhill and rapidly becoming a total has-been, cleaned himself up enough (although clearly not completely)  to put  on one of the most spectacular performances ever captured on film. You don’t even have to watch the whole thing. Just watch the part where he’s in the black leather jacket and pants. It’s the essence of rock and roll. He’s feral and completely in control.  He’s like a panther.  The rest of the special is fine, but it’s that black leather outfit that created a turnaround and indeed a comeback to set up his later years.

Here’s a list of essential Presley taken from throughout his career—all of them are hits, so you’re probably are already familiar with them, but it’s a nice refresher. If you dig these, delve deeper. His gospel recordings are inspirational and heartfelt.  Or check out The Million Dollar Quartet—Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash—and their 1956 recordings.

*”Can’t Help Falling in Love”: Simple chord changes, spare arrangement and pure romance. We should all be such fools. The song, which Presley used as a show closer for years, builds on an 18th century French song, “Plaisir D’Amour.” No wonder it sounds so timeless.

* “That’s All Right”: Presley at his confident, sultry best as he reinterprets Arthur Crudup’s  “That’s All Right, Mama.” He’s still developing as an artist, but his delivery here is so full of promise, it’s exhilarating to hear him.

*“Don’t Be Cruel”: Everything about this song is perfect, from the Jerry Lee Lewis-ish shudder after the first verse to the slap bass to the doo-wop backing vocals.

*“Are You Lonesome Tonight”: I know, I know. A lot of folks find this song so cheesy that they can’t even listen to this song. For me, it’s all about his powerful-yet-restrained melancholy delivery accompanied by only the barest of backing vocals. Okay, the talking in the middle will always be laughable, but the rest of it is priceless. If the talking is too much, skip straight to “Love Me Tender.”

*“Mystery Train”: Originally recorded as a B-side in 1955, this rockabilly track (co-written by Sun Records’ founder Sam Phillips) features Presley in one of his most loose-limbed vocal performances and a killer guitar solo by Scotty Moore.

*“Baby, Let’s Play House”: Like with “Mystery Train,” this early-era Presley is fascinating to listen to, simply for his great vocal delivery and the potency of his band. Despite the lighthearted title and rockabilly beat, it’s hardly all fun and games here, as Presley sings “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man.”

*“Jailhouse Rock”: Presley’s appropriately ragged vocals here fit the song and the story. A great rock song. Plus, the performance of the song in the movie of the same name is one of the best music videos ever. Brilliant.

*“Lawdy Miss Clawdy”: Presley shows he can sing anything when he takes on this Lloyd Price hit. Check out his stripped down, bluesy, totally fierce version on “The ’68 Special.” Also check out “A Mess of Blues.”

*Little Sister”: Elvis Presley meets Dick Dale. Great surf-rockabilly. Sexy and sinister in all the right way Although “she’s mean and she’s evil like that old boll weevil” may be one of the worst lines ever written.  Dwight Yoakam’s cover is also fantastic.

“Suspicious Minds”: His first major hit after “The ’68 Comeback Special,” it’s a honey of song: sweet, jangly guitars dramatically building to describe a tempestuous love affair’s end. The perfect pop song except for the weird, very long fade out.  Yoakam also recorded a great cover of this one.

On a slightly separate note: Let’s face it, most of Presley’s movies are crap. His manager, Col. Tom Parker kept him on a treadmill of pushing out schlock because they were fast and easy to do. But there are two that I hold very dear and that I would say are actually excellent, entertaining movies:

“Jailhouse Rock” (1957): If it were only for the performance of “Jailhouse Rock,” that would be enough, but Presley’s charisma throughout this movie as Vince Everett, a bad boy who wants to be good, is breathtaking. You can’t take your eyes off him.  Plus, it’s a fine movie. It’s no “Face in the Crowd,” which mines slightly similar territory, but it’s not as bad as most folks say it is.

“Viva Las Vegas” (1964): Just watch Elvis and Ann-Margret shimmy, shake and circle around each other from their first scene together and you can practically figure out the moment their affair started. It’s all played out on film. Every bit of it. Awesome.

Read Full Post
Lil Wayne returns with a new video for On Fire

Lil Wayne returns with a new video for "On Fire."

Watch: Lil Wayne's video for 'On Fire'

Is it hot? Does it mean 'Rebirth' is coming in February?

When Lil Wayne’s rock-influenced album “Rebirth” will actually hit streets is anyone’s guess. A number of retailers are no longer offering the oft-delayed album as available on its scheduled Feb. 2 release date and word is it has been pushed to June. However, Lil Wayne’s rep told Billboard that the album’s still a go for Feb. 2.

In the meantime, the video for album track, “On Fire” premiered on MTV today.

The song is built around “She’s On Fire,” from the movie “Scarface,” a favorite among many rappers, and it sounds about as dated as the movie. In fact, it’s amazingly similar to the opening chords of another film relegated to the ‘80s time capsule, “Flash Dance.” There’s not much to the song. There’s nothing remotely resembling a catchy hook within several miles.
The video, directed by Chris Robison (not the Black Crowes’ dude) is a disjointed mess, including a shot around 3:14 of baby doll heads? Que?  There’s also a shot of a snake, but that’s intercut with Lil Wayne getting a lap dance from the wing-wearing model/slash/girlfriend who meanders into his mansion during the song, so we figure that’s symbolic for a you-know-what because, as the lyrics say, she’s “steaming like a demon.” Nice…
“Rocker” Lil Wayne holds the guitar in several shots, but seldom is seen actually playing it other than eking out a few chords. If this is the best that “Rebirth” has to offer, we can wait until June.


Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Michael Jackson</p>

 Michael Jackson

Credit: AP

2009 music sales continue downward slide

Transactions are up over 2008, but digital growth slows to 2%


What’s the music industry going to do now? Not only did CD sales continue their inexorable slide toward extinction in 2009, digital growth—once hailed as the savior of music sales—slowed  in 2009.
The good news, if there is any, is that music “transactions” increased in 2009, despite the slow down. Overall transactions—sales of tracks and albums in both physical and digital forms—amounted to 1.55 billion units in the U.S., up 2.1 % over 2008, according to Billboard. But the rate of growth trickled to 2.1%, down from 11% in 2008.
Continuing to look on the “bright side,” album sales continued to decline in the double digits, but last year the slip was 12.7%, slightly less than the 14.4 decline in 2008. And vinyl continued to surge, surpassing the 2 million mark in sales. Despite increased turntable sales and collectors’ delight, such an increase is hardly going to pull the industry out of its doldrums.
Interestingly, catalog albums outperformed current albums, although both still declined from 2008’s level, despite strong catalog sales this year for both Michael Jackson and the Beatles.


Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Taylor Swift</p>

 Taylor Swift

Credit: AP

Who's the top seller of 2009? Swift, Boyle or Jackson?

Does Boyle's "Dream" surpass "Swift's "Fearless?"

In was an amazing run down the final stretch, but Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” held off an thrilling streak my late-arrival, Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” to remain the top-selling album of 2009. “Dream,” which stays No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the sixth week this week, sold 3.1 million since its November release. That was almost enough to knock “Fearless,” which benefitted from a full year of sales in 2009, from the top, but not quite. “Fearless” sold 3.2 million in 2009.

Last year marks the first year since 2006 that more than one album has sold more than 3 million during the calendar year according to Billboard.  Plus, Boyle’s “Dream” is the only released in 2009 (“Fearless” came out in 2008) to surpass that mark.
In other highlights, Michael Jackson was the year’s top selling artist as more than 8.2 million copies of Jackson’s assorted albums sold in 2009, the vast majority after his untimely death in June. Jackson’s “Number Ones” sold 2.36 million, making it the third best-selling album of the year behind “Fearless” and “Dream.”
Rounding out the top five are Lady Gaga’s “The Fame,” which sold 2.24 million, and another latecomer, Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas,” which, like “Dream” managed to rack up impressive sales, 2.21 million copies, in only a few weeks.


Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Susan Boyle</p>

 Susan Boyle

Credit: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Susan Boyle stays at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 one more week

Can Ke$ha end her reign?


 Can Ke$ha stop Susan Boyle? The party girl seems to be the only hope in the foreseeable future for knocking the “Britain’s Got Talent” winner out of the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.
For the sixth consecutive row, Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” stays at the pinnacle, although her post-Christmas numbers drop dramatically to 136,000 copies. However, her six-week talent is an astonishing 3.1 million copies and that’s just in the U.S. alone. As you may have heard, her end-of-the-year surge in the U.K. propelled her past Lady Gaga’s “The Game” as the year’s top-seller. In the U.S.,  Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” retained that title, but only by a very slim margin.
So now it’s up to Ke$ha and her debut, “Animal,” which came out Jan. 5 to take down Boyle. But if she can’t, Boyle’s reign will end soon anyway with new releases coming from the likes of Omarion, Lady Antebellum and others this month.
In case you didn’t know if from all the dead Christmas tree carcasses lining the streets, the holidays are really over. Further proof: Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas,” which was second only to Boyle in terms of soaring December sales, falls out of the top 10. Instead, we see  chart standbys like Lady GaGa’s “The Fame” and Swift’s “Fearless” hang out in the Top 5 (“The Fame” jumps back to No.2), and family friendly fare like the soundtrack to “Alvin & the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel,” which scampers from No. 20 to No. 7.


Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Thom Yorke</p>

 Thom Yorke

Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jim Ross

Thom Yorke pens three new songs for Tibetian documentary

Radiohead singer is joined by Damien Rice and Philip Glass


Radiohead’s Thom York, singer/songwriter Damien Rice and composer Philip Glass has all written songs for a new documentary about Tibet. “When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun,” a film about Tibet and China’s troubled relationship directed by Dirk Simon.

Yorke penned three songs for the project, according to a posting by Simon on the film’s website. U.K. newspaper, The Guardian, further reports that the soundtrack will include previously released material from such acts as Bjork, DJ Spooky, Eric Clapton and Massive Attack’s Rob Del Naja.
The film also includes interviews with the Dalai Lama as well as long-time Tibetan supporter Richard Gere and Desmond Tutu.


Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Taylor Swift</p>

 Taylor Swift

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

New Taylor Swift music on 'Valentine's Day' soundtrack

Swift also stars in the film, along with Taylor Lautner, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper and Patrick Dempsey

No word yet on when we’ll get a follow-up to Taylor Swift’s “Fearless,” the top-selling album of 2009, but we will get new song from Swift on  the soundtrack to “Valentine’s Day,” out Feb. 9. The movie, which features Swift, as well as Taylor Lautner, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Joe Jonas, Queen Latifah, Patrick Dempsey and many more,  opens Feb. 12.

Swift’s song, “Today was a Fairy Tale,” is one of two new tracks on the set; Jewel’s “Stay Here Forever” will be the first single, according to Music Row.
Valentine’s Day track list:
1. Taylor Swift – “Today Was A Fairytale”
2. Michael Franti & Spearhead – “Say Hey (I Love You)”
3. Jools Holland and Jamiroquai – “I’m In The Mood For Love”
4. Willie Nelson – “On The Street Where You Live”
5. Sausalito Foxtrot – “Everyday”
6. Jewel – “Stay Here Forever”
7. Ben E. King – “Amor”
8. Amy Winehouse – “Cupid”
9. Maroon 5 – “The Way You Look Tonight”
10. Joss Stone – “4 and 20

11. Diane Birch – “Valentino”
12. Nat King Cole – “Te Quiero Dijeste”
13. Taylor Swift – “Jump Then Fall”
14. Black Gold – “Shine”
15. Steel Magnolia – “Keep On Lovin’ You”
16. Leighton Meester featuring Robin Thicke – “Somebody To Love”
17. the bird and the bee – “I’m Into Something Good”
18. Anju Ramapriyam – “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours”


Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Lady Gaga</p>

 Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo/Axel Heimken

BEP, Lady GaGa, Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift and more on Grammys CD

Set benefits two charities run by The Recording Academy


Catch up on the top tracks of 2009 with the  “2010 Grammy Nominees,” out Jan. 19 on EMI Records.
The 16 annual collection rotates between labels and proceeds from the set benefit the Grammy Foundation and the MusiCares Foundation, two charities overseen by Grammy parent, The Recording Academy.
The set includes 20 tracks, all of them from Grammy nominees and covers pop, country, and rock fields as well as nominees in the four big categories: record of the year, song of the year, album of the year and best new artist. It’s oddly light on R&B artists this year.
Below is the track listing and the categories in which each song is nominated.

1.         the black eyed peas



"I Gotta Feeling"




Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year
Best Pop Vocal Album

2.         LADY GAGA



"Poker Face"




Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year

3.         KINGS OF LEON



"Use Somebody"




Record Of The Year
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals




"You & Me"




            Album Of The Year

5.         Taylor SWIFT



"You Belong With Me"




Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance




"Fallin' For You"




Best Pop Vocal Album

7.         the fray



"You Found Me"




            Best Pop Vocal Album

8.         P!nk







Best Pop Vocal Album
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

9.         kelly clarkson



"My Life Would Suck Without You"




Best Pop Vocal Album

10.       Katy Perry



"Hot N Cold"




Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

11.       beyoncé







Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

12.       Adele



"Hometown Glory"




Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

13.       zac brown band



"Chicken Fried"




Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

14.       Sugarland



"It Happens"




Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

15.       lady antebellum





"I Run To You"




            Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

16.       rascal Flatts



            "Here Comes Goodbye"




Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

17.       green day



"21 Guns"




Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

18.       Coldplay



"Life In Technicolor ii"




Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

19.       U2



"I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight"




Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

20.       Eric Clapton And steve Winwood



"Can't Find My Way Home"




Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals


Read Full Post
Big Boi and Gucci Mane

Big boi employs some big time special effects for his last music video.

Watch: Big Boi's video for 'Shine Blockas'

See how Gucci Mane magically appears...sort of

 Oh sure, you can watch the video for Big Boi’s “Shine Blockas,” which raced with the far superior Jay-Z clip for “On to the Next One,” to be the first video of 2010,  but the only reason to is if you’re missing Gucci Mane since his unfortunate incarceration or just to hear the song, which is infinitely more interesting than the video. You’ll also learn that a Big Boi is Falcons fan, no surprise there given his Atlanta roots.

After an amusing intro filmed at a Wal-Mart (where he’s looking for footies), the clip, basically turns into a collage of Outkast’s Big Boi in various street scenes with lots of graffiti behind him. Mane, who’s incarcerated and clearly couldn’t get a day pass for the video shoot, is represented by still photos somewhat randomly inserted. The clip randomly goes between black & white and color. If there’s an artistic statement there, it’s lost on us.
But let’s talk about the song. It’s a beguiling blend of old school (courtesy of the sample from Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes’ “I Miss You”), nice, insinuating southern funk, and Mane’s smoothly delivered choruses. The track is from “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty,” which still doesn’t have a release date. Maybe LaFace is waiting for a title that makes sense.
Read Full Post