Alicia Keys in the video for "Un-thinkable."

Alicia Keys in the video for "Un-thinkable."

Watch: Alicia Keys and Chad Michael Murray make beautiful music in 'Un-Thinkable' video

Can their love survive racial tensions and a mullet?

Alicia Keys takes us back in time in her new video for “Un-thinkable,” and she brings “One Tree Hill’s” Chad Michael Murray with her.

The plotline, which starts in the ‘50s with grainy black and white footage, follows Keys and Murray as two crazy kids who only want to love each other, despite the fact that  in the ‘50s, an openly out interracial couple was  “Un-Thinkable.”  They go through the decades, and a switch from black and white to color, and some truly unfortunate haircut choices (How ‘bout that mullet, Murray?) as they progress through the decades. Styles changes, but people’s opinions don’t progress as much as one would like to see.

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Eminem sets 2010 record with 'Not Afraid'; track to bow at No. 1 on Hot 100

Track becomes only the 16th song to start at the summit

“Recovery”  indeed. “Not Afraid,” the first single from Eminem’s June 22 release, “Recovery,” will debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 tomorrow. The tune, which hits the summit based largely on digital sales, is only the 16th track in the 52-year-history of the chart to bow at the top. “Not Afraid” sold 380,000 digital copies in its first week of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the highest tally of 2010.  The chart combines singles sales and airplay.

The last song to start at the summit was Britney Spears’ “3” in October.  “Not Afraid” is only the second rap song of the 16 to land at the top, according to Billboard, following 1997’s “I’ll Be Missing You.”  It is also Eminem’s third trip to the top following 2002’s “Lose Yourself” and last year’s “Crack a Bottle,” from “Relapse.”

Below is a list of the 16 No. 1 debuts on the Billlboard Hot 100 chart.

Artist, "Title" (Year)

1) Michael Jackson, "You Are Not Alone" (1995)
2) Mariah Carey, "Fantasy" (1995)
3) Whitney Houston, "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" (1995)
4) Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day" (1995)
5) Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112, "I'll Be Missing You" (1997)
6) Mariah Carey, "Honey" (1997)
7) Elton John, "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (1997)
8) Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On" (1998)
9) Aerosmith, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" (1998)
10) Lauryn Hill, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (1998)
11) Clay Aiken, "This Is The Night" (2003)
12) Fantasia, "I Believe" (2004)
13) Carrie Underwood, "Inside Your Heaven" (2005)
14) Taylor Hicks, "Do I Make You Proud" (2006)
15) Britney Spears, "3" (2009)
16) Eminem, "Not Afraid" (2010)

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Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles returns with "King of Anything."

Credit: Epic

Listen: Sara Bareilles’ new single, ‘King of Anything’

She definitely isn't singing this guy a love song

From love song to kiss off: Sara Bareilles is back and she no longer has a shred of interest in wooing you; this time she wants you to put you in your place but good.

On “King of Anything,” her new single out today, she ups the melodic peppiness that propelled “Love Song” into her breakthrough hit.  Take a jaunty piano tune, throw in some hand claps, just enough quirkiness to make the tune stand out but not alienate, and a strong vocal performance with attitude and you have all the makings of a sunny, catchy adult contemporary hit. Though she sounds sweet, she’s telling her boy to get lost. “Who died and made you king of anything?,” she asks. Clearly, not her.

“King of Anything” is the first single from “Kaleidoscope Heart,” her sophomore album for Epic, which will come out in 2010. The pop jury is out on Bareilles: “Love Song” was a huge hit in 2007, in part because of its placement in a Rhapsody commercial, but none of the subsequent singles from “Little Voice” received significant pop airplay.  That should change with “King of Anything.”

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Set your watches: New Ke$ha video debuts at 12:01 a.m., May 13

Clip for 'Your Love is My Drug' features singer cavorting with elephants and pythons, oh my!

Ke$ha mounts an elephant, dances with a python  and goes in search of new lands, but you’ll have to wait until 12:01 a.m., May 13, to see what happens. That’s when VEVO will debut the video for “Your Love is My Drug.”

This much we can reveal: Ke$ha shot the video in April new Joshua Tree in the California desert. The clip, directed by Honey, features her with assorted beasts and reptiles and in day-glow paint.

When she’s not glowing in the dark, Ke$ha is prepping to open for Rihanna on a U.S. outing that starts July 2. As we’ve previously reported, she will also perform a benefit for Nashville flood victim in Music City on June 16. 


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<p>The National's &quot;High Violet&quot;</p>

The National's "High Violet"

Credit: 4AD/Beggars

Review: The National's 'High Violet,' for the Eeyore in all of us

Will the Brooklyn band's latest finally catapult them into the mainstream?

 “Sorrow found me when I was young/sorrow waited/sorrow won” sings The National’s  Matt Berninger on the Brooklyn-based band’s new set, “High Violet.”

While those lyrics are anchor the album’s second song, the appropriately-titled “Sorrow,” that mournful emotion pours its way out of almost every note of the album, leaving the listener either ready to slit his wrist at the CD’s end or incredibly grateful to have found a fellow traveler in life’s often desolate journey.

The National have been around for more than a decade, but the feeling is that their time is now. Both 2004’s “Alligator” and  2007’s “Boxer” received critical acclaim, even topping some “best-of” lists, but now the excitement is ratcheted up to, as our colleague Katie Hasty put it, “fever pitch.” Read her interview with the band here. Click here to hear the album streaming on

To be sure, band has been marinating nicely over its last few albums and seems poised—not because they’ve changed so much, but because the rest of us have caught up with them—to break through to the mainstream.

The songs on “High Violet” create a sense of beautiful dread.  In tunes like “Terrible Love” or “Afraid of Everyone,” well-placed distortion and a somewhat intentionally (we hope ) muddy mix can make it hard to decipher the exact lyrics, but it’s never difficult to translate the fearful menace lurking at every turn. Berninger’s rich voice—which sounds like a cross between Leonard Cohen and David Bowie— is weary to the bone, yet still sounds inviting. Nice work if you can pull that one off.

Musically, what makes The National so compelling is its layered melodies, as the instruments pile on top of each other in an intriguing but never unpleasant way or pop in and out for after a few measures. When they finally strip down to just vocals and one or two instruments, such as on the lovely, spare “Runaway,” the effect is striking.

Drummer Bryan Dressner’s often military-type precision on the propulsive “Anyone’s Ghost” and drone-y “Little Faith” add a tasty dimension often missing from this kind of smart rock.

Critics usually drool over bands like The National calling their music “majestic” and “weighty.” It’s all that to be sure, but sometimes superlatives like that can scare off people. To us,  The National make music for the Eeyore in all of us.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Miley Cyrus sign on for Nashville Rising benefit

Who's Who of country stars sign on for concert hosted by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

First she donated $500,000 to Nashville flood victims and now Taylor Swift will take part in Nashville Rising, a June 22 benefit concert at Bridgestone Arena coordinated by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Proceeds from the concert, which will also feature Miley Cyrus, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood,” will benefit the Community Foundation’s Tennessee Emergency Response Fund. Tickets go on sale May 14 and range from $25-$75.

Other participating acts, with more to be announced, include Brooks & Dunn, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Amy Grant, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, and  Michael W. Smith.

As we previously reported, a telethon with Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum and Dierks Bentley will take place on Great American Country (GAC) cable channel this Sunday, May 16. Money raise will also go to the Community Foundation.


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<p>Stone Temple Pilots</p>

Stone Temple Pilots

Watch: Stone Temple Pilots' video for 'Between the Lines'

In which they remind us not every video has to break new ground

Not every video has to be an event—although we’re made to believe it’s so with countdown clocks on artist websites and what not. So what to do when a vintage band, returning with their first new clip in many years puts out a video that, while perfectly pleasant, is nothing to write home about?  Maybe just say thank you.

Acts like Lady GaGa—any many before her—have elevated the music video to such a spectacular that it almost seems unfair to expect the same thing from a band like Stone Temple Pilots—even though we’d argue that lead singer Scott Weiland has just as much presence as Lady G.

So STP returns with a fine, if fairly pedestrian clip to “Between the Lines,” the first single from its self-titled May 25 album. The song, which already topped the alternative charts, has a retro, psychedelic feel and the quick-cut video models that with its vintage convertible and ‘70s style apartment.

The video is primarily a performance clip, but instead of a club, the boys are playing in an upstairs, run-down apartment. The love interest—or Weiland’s main drug, “even when we were taking drugs”—shows up to smile coyly,  play pool, have sex in a bathroom stall and, of course, have some unexplained fight. It’s all decidedly tame for a band that has a pretty decadent past, and low key. Here’s a group that is still very willing to let the sound, rather than the image, lead the way.

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<p>The Dead Weather</p>

The Dead Weather

The Dead Weather, The National and Meat Loaf : A rock release week

Keane and Everest also attempt new summits with fresh projects

We’re rocking in the free world this week as rock and roll dominates the release slate. The Dead Weather howls back with its sophomore set, while the male, discarded part of Evanescence rises from the ashes as We Are the Fallen with “American Idol’s” Carly Smithson taking on the Amy Lee role. Indie rockers the National are poised to break wide open with its fifth set and even Meat Loaf, at 62, has another slice of paradise for us.

As I Lay Dying, ‘The Powerless Rise” (Metal Blade): Grammy-nominated metal band’s fifth album got a boost from Tap Tap Revenge 3, which tapped first single “Beyond Our Suffering” for the mobile game.  The group re-teamed with producer Adam Dutkiewicz, who was behind the board for its last set, “An Ocean Between Us.”

Charice, “Charice” (143/Reprise): Oprah has already embraced this big-voiced, Filipina teen and now she’s off to conquer the rest of the world with her U.S. debut produced by David Foster.  If you’re a Celine or Whitney fan and are looking for a pint-sized new diva to follow, Charice is your gal. She’s also hit No. 2 on the dance chart with the remixes of her tune, “Pyramid."

Dead Weather, “Sea of Cowards” (Third Man/Warner): Led by the White StripesJack White and the Kills’ Alison Mosshart, The Dead Weather howl through a new set of feral, blues-based rock.

Everest, “On Approach” (Vapor/Warner): Rock band on Neil Young’s Vapor label put out second set full of enigmatic rock tunes as it continues to build as a solid live act. After opening for Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Young, Everest is on tour with Minus the Bear.

Keane, “Night Train” (Cherrytree/Interscope): Keane keeps it upbeat on its piano-based pop but throws in a few twists, including the welcome addition of  Somali-Canadian rapper K’Naan and even a nod to the “Rocky” theme, “Gonna Fly Now."

Jennifer Knapp, “Letting Go” (Graylin/RED/Thirty Tigers): Weeks before Chely Wright grabbed all the headlines by coming out, Dove-award winning Christian singer/songwriter Jennifer Knapp returns with her first album in seven years.

Meat Loaf, “Hang Cool Teddy Bear” (Loud & Proud/Roadrunner): Mr. Loaf,  as the New York Times once memorably referred to him, is in good company here on an album the despite its strange title, is not a children’s album. Rob Cavallo, best known for his work with Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls and Dave Matthews, produced the set and gusts include Jack Black and Justin Hawkins from the Darkness.

The National, “High Violet” (4AD): Brooklyn music masters unleash another collection of often somber, elegiac tunes filled with beautiful dread. Read review here.

We Are the Fallen, “Tear the World Down” (Universal Republic): New group formed by Evanescence members Ben Moody and John LeCompt with “American Idol’s” Carly Smithson.

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Godsmack is back with "The Oracle."

The Oracle predicts Godsmack heads straight to No. 1 on next week's chart

Rockers rule the roost on the Billboard 200

Looks like Mama likes to rock and roll. Godsmack’s “The Oracle” is poised to come in at No. 1 on next week’s charts. Christian rockers MercyMe will debut at No. 3 and Deftones at No. 5.

It’s a week full of changes in the Top 10, according to Hits Daily Double. The  Court Yard Hounds’ self-titled debut (that’s Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson from Dixie Chicks’ new group), lands at No. 7, Carole King and James Taylor’s live CD/VD bows at No. 9 and Toni Braxton’s “Pulse” beats its way to No. 10.

This week’s No. 1 on the Billboard 200, “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” from B.o.B. takes a tumble from No. 1 to 11, while Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” stays strong at No. 3 and Justin Bieber remains unshakably towards the top with “My World 2.0” at No. 5.

As Hits Daily Double points out, many of these predictions are up in the air, especially where AC/DC’s “Iron Man 2” collection will land, given the movie’s boffo box office performance this weekend. Right now HDD has it at No. 6, but that could change.

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Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Carrie Underwood wants you to 'Undo It'

How short can her skirt go?

More so than almost any other female artist, Carrie Underwood manages to alternate between sassy and sweet with almost each video. On the heels of the sugary “Temporary Home,” she goes from girl-next door to every man’s dream with the sultry live clip for “Undo It.”

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