<p>Ke$ha</p>

Ke$ha

Credit: AP Photo

Ke$ha's 'Tik Tok' beats its way to a digital sales record

Party anthem sets new digital sales record for a female artist

 

Let’s hear it for the party girls! They have spoken loud and clear. Ke$ha’s trashy “Tik Tok” set the record this week for most downloads by any female artist since Billboard started tracking digital sales in 2003. It beats the previous record held by  Lady GaGa's "Just Dance" by almost 200,000 copies.

 

That’s right, more than 610,000 downloads of “Tik Tok” were sold this past week, making it only the second song to surpass the 500,000 mark in a 7-day period. The first to rush past that tally was Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” which holds the title for the most downloaded song at more than 5 million copies. “Tik Tok” has already passed the 2 million mark for cumulative digital sales.  
 
We find it a bit ironic that "Just Dance" is the song "Tik Tok" beats since it ips off both “Just Dance” and "Love Game" with its opening beats. The video makes Ke$ha slightly less classy and appealing than Snooki from MTV's “Jersey Shore,” But who can resist a girl that brings her own beer? As she curls up in the bathtub to sleep it off, the only thing that’s missing is the rushing to the toilet to vomit and the hangover. Plus, what’s with the line about Mick Jagger? He’s old enough to be her granddad. In terms of party anthems, this is the skanky girl’s version on “Party in the USA.”  Party on…
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<p>Melissa Etheridge</p>

Melissa Etheridge

Credit: AP Photo

Melissa Etheridge is about to rock and rock and rock

How her kids convinced her not to call her album 'Fearless'

When I think about some of the most memorable music moments of the decade, I think about Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone’s no-holds-barred performance of “Piece of My Heart” at the 2006 Grammy Awards. It was Etheridge’s first appearance since she’d announced she was battling cancer. She got up on stage, bald as a cue ball from chemotherapy, and sang her heart and soul out. I was backstage in the press room and there wasn’t a dry eye in there. Even if you weren’t a fan of Etheridge’s music, you couldn’t help but fall in love with her that day for her utterly fearless, radiant, joyous, performance.

I recently hung out with Etheridge on the set of her music video for her new single, “Fearless Love. “ The video shoot was at a house in Tarzana, Calif., that time had forgotten. A very sweet elderly lady lived there and had left it virtually unchanged since the Eisenhower era.

As Etheridge and I chatted in her doily-filled dining room, the lady of the house asked Etheridge what kind of music she made. She had a preference for jazz herself. Etheridge politely told her rock and roll and expressed her hope that it wouldn’t be too loud for her as we headed into the performance segment.

The owner interrupted us a second time and Etheridge was as respectful and courteous with her as if she were her own grandmother, even though we were on a very tight time schedule, but that’s how Etheridge is. For a rock star, she’s always been exceptionally grounded—maybe it’s her Midwestern roots. Her bout with cancer left her humbled, but also determined to enjoy every minute and to allow herself, her voice and her fame to be used for causes she supports: whether it be the environment, gay rights or breast cancer awareness.

I’ve interviewed Etheridge a number of times, but on this night, she was more present and vibrant than I’d ever seen her. She’s tremendously excited about her new album, “Fearless Love,” which comes out in early 2010, and heralds it as a return to her rock roots (Her kids had to talk her out of calling it "Fearless," reminding her there's another artist who claimed that album title recently). 

“The whole album just rocks and rocks and rocks,” she says. “It doesn’t give up. Every song is very emotional and intense.  There’s all kinds of different subjects in it. Most of the songs are about me. There’s a couple where I sing about other people, situations, where I’m the third-person observer. I don’t do that very often. I decided I want to do that more.”

Etheridge can’t wait to get back on the road, or more specifically, back on stage. “It’s an exchange of energy,” she says, between her and her audience. “And there are people who come to listen and have it be a one-way conversation and then there are people who literally talk to me. I don’t always hear them.”

I add that they’re usually shouting out, “Melissa, we love you!”

“Thank you very much is how I usually answer… and it’s a two way conversation.”

“Fearless Love” is her 10th studio album and she feels she finally has enough material for “the perfect set list,” she says. “Oh! This album puts it over the top. I can interchange now.”

For the rest of our interview with Etheridge, click here.

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<p>Why is this man smiling?: Chris Martin of Coldplay</p>

Why is this man smiling?: Chris Martin of Coldplay

Credit: AP Photo

Best Albums and Songs of the Decade: Springsteen, Kanye, Coldplay

Where do Radiohead and Green Day fit in?

 
As my colleague Katie Hasty and I -- as well as every other critic in the world -- have been doing over the last few weeks, it’s time to unveil yet another list.

Below are my Top 12 choices for best albums and singles of the 2000s. “Best,” which is clearly a subjective term, means a few things here: not only was the album or song a superior effort, it’s also one that I loved (and continue to love) to play over and over. The latter meant more to me than critical acclaim from fellow writers and whether any of these selections showed up on other lists. I deliberately left out anything that I put on my Best of 2009 tallies, for singles and albums.

What are your favorites of the decade?
 
Best Albums of the Decade


1) “Magic,” Bruce Springsteen
2) “American Idiot,” Green Day
3) “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Coldplay
4) “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” Justin Timberlake
5) “This is It,” The Strokes
6) “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse
7) “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” U2
8)  “Taking the Long Way,” Dixie Chicks
9) “Late Registration, “ Kanye West
10) “Kid A,” Radiohead
11) “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket
12) “Final Straw,” Snow Patrol
 
Best Singles of the Decade

1) “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay
2) “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce
3) “All My Life,” Foo Fighters
4) “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley
5) “Clocks,” Coldplay
6) “Hey Ya,” Outkast
7) “American Idiot,” Green Day
8) “Girls in their Summer Clothes,” Bruce Springsteen
9) “No One Knows,” Queens of the Stone Age
10) “Golddigger” Kanye West
11) “Starlight,” Muse
12) “99 Problems,” Jay- Z

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<p>Steven Tyler</p>

Steven Tyler

Credit: AP Photo

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler checks into rehab

Says he is 'eager' to get back on stage with bandmates

Following several tumultuous weeks, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler has checked into rehab for addiction to prescription painkillers.
In a statement released to People, Tyler puts to rest that he is still fronting Aerosmith, which is getting ready to celebrate its 40th anniversary. For the last few months, the band has been in limbo with Tyler announcing he’s focusing on a solo career, while the other four members in a quandary whether to wait for Tyler’s return or select a new lead singer. He also denied he had fallen back into his addiction, despite his band members’ belief to the contrary.
 
“I…am eager to be back on the stage and in the recording studio with my bandmates,” he says. “I love Aerosmith; I love performing as the lead singer in Aerosmith.”
 
Tyler, 61, will also receive pain management treatment as well. According to his physician, he has been in “severe chronic pain,” over the past 10 years, and a balance between managing Tyler’s pain while not sparking his addictions has been difficult to find.

 

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Jay-Z in concert

Jay-Z in concert.

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Jay-Z's overseas video for 'Forever Young'

Rapper and Mr. Hudson tackle Alphaville hit

 Although it’s meant for his international fans and won’t be released in the U.S., you can check out Jay Z’s new video for “Forever Young” embedded on this page.

The song, a remake of Alphaville’s 1984 hit “Forever Young” features Kanye West protégé Mr. Hudson taking on the main vocal duties with Jay Z dropping in a few raps.

The video is a black and white collage of youngsters playing intercut with Mr. Hudson and Jay-Z performing the song in concert. It’s a fairly sedate affair, but the spirit is sweet. Look for Jay-Z’s next video in the U.S. to be for “On to the Next One” from “The Blueprint 3.”

What do you tihnk of Jay-Z's latest? Share your thoughts below.

 

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<p>Mary J. Blige's &quot;Stronger with Each Tear&quot;</p>

Mary J. Blige's "Stronger with Each Tear"

Blige leads modest holiday release slate

Joined by Mudvayne, Eminem's re-release with seven bonus tracks


Not so long ago, no artist in his or her right mind would have dreamt of putting out an album after Thanksgiving, but all that changed several years ago when rappers like Method Man and Redman put out a new project around Turkey Day and sales were strong. While it’s still relatively rare, this year has seen a number of platinum plus artists releasing new projects post-Thanksgiving this year.

And now, we have a bonafide superstar, Mary J. Blige, putting out a new collection three days before Christmas. That makes her poised to be a likely choice for folks with iTunes gift cards burning a hole in their pocket on Dec. 25. 

Still, there are only a handful of releases coming out this week and most of them, as happened the week of Thanksgiving, are coming out off cycle on Monday (Dec. 21) instead of the usual Tuesday. Head up: we’ll take a break next week as there are no new releases of merit coming out Dec. 29, but we’ll be back in the 2010. Happy New Year!

 
Mary J. Blige, “Stronger with Each Tear” (Matriarch/Geffen): The leading lady of soul returns and she’s in a collaborative frame of mind. Guests on the album include Drake, T.I. and Trey Songz, while such top flight producers as Rodney Jerkins, Tricky Stewart, the Dream, Ne-Yo and Raphael Saddiq also contribute. The set includes, “Color,” from the film “Precious.”
 
Eminem, “Relapse: Refill” (Aftermath/Interscope): With “Relapse 2” pushed back to 2010, Marshall Mathers fans can get their fix with this re-issue of “Relapse,” complete with five previously unreleased tracks, plus “Taking My Ball,” first heard in the DJ Hero video game, and ‘Forever,” featuring Drake, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
 
Hurricane Chris, “Unleashed” (Polo Grounds Music/RCA): Young rapper’s second release contains the undisputedly true title, “Halle Berry [She’s Fine].” While the Oscar winner doesn’t appear on the track, Mario and Bobby Valentino do
.
Mudvayne, “Mudvayne” (Epic): Hard rockers’ fifth album latest comes in three different formats; including two that contain a black light to fans can view the cover. Single, “Scream with Me,” landed at No. 2 on AOL’s Top Rock Songs of 2009.
 
Various Artists, “We are Young Money” (Young Money/Universal Motown): Lil Wayne’s label releases this mixtape that includes contributions from Lloyd, Pleasure P, Birdman, Gucci Mane and more.
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<p>Michael Jackson's last tribute will most likely be the pseudo concert documentary &quot;This Is It.&quot;</p>

Michael Jackson's last tribute will most likely be the pseudo concert documentary "This Is It."

Michael Jackson tribute concert canceled for good

Does this surprise anbody?

 

It just seemed doomed from the start. A tribute to Michael Jackson that was shifted from Vienna earlier this year to London next year has now been cancelled for good.
 
The concert, slated to take place 2010, was scrapped after the event’s organizer declared bankruptcy, according to Reuters.
 
The salute was troubled early on. As you may recall, the London event, which was to take place this past fall, turned ugly quickly as acts like Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown distanced themselves from the concert as soon as it was announced. The show was then pushed back allegedly to give organizers time to book more talent.
Said organizer, World Awards Media GmbH closed on Nov. 30.
 
 

 

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<p>Owl City</p>

Owl City

Owl City flies to new headlining tour in March

Watch: Ke$ha and Co. crash sweet singer's 'Fireflies' in concert

 
Owl City, whose twee electro-pop hit “Fireflies” is one of the hottest songs of the year, will continue spreading his gooey sweetness into 2010 with a spring tour that starts March 30 in Boise, Idaho.
 
But first, OC, who is really just Adam Young, will play Europe and Australia (the latter with Cobra Starship) and heading a tour in January.
 
Between now and then, "Fireflies" will undoubtedly continue to sell like crazy. The single has surpassed the 2 million sales mark.

And Young will be looking over his shoulder for Ke$ha. As Owl City peformed "Fireflies" Monday night in Houston, Ke$ha -- who was also on the bill -- jumped on stage with two bandmates, dressed as fireflies and flitted around the stage, according to Idolator. We have it all captured below for your viewing pleasure.

Here are Owl City's tour dates:

March   30th         Knitting Factory                                                Boise, ID
                31st         Knitting Factory                                                Spokane, WA
April      1st           Paramount Theater                                        Seattle, WA
                3rd           Roseland Theater                                            Portland, OR
                5th           Fillmore                                                               San Francisco, CA
                6th           Fillmore                                                               San Francisco, CA
                7th           Fox Theater                                                        Pomona, CA
                8th           Soma                                                                     San Diego, CA
                9th           Club Nokia                                                          Los Angeles, CA
                10th         Marquee                                                             Phoenix, AZ
                12th         Salt Air                                                                 Salt Lake City, UT
                13th         Ogden                                                                  Denver, CO
                15th         Stubbs                                                                  Austin, TX
                17th         Nokia Theater                                                   Dallas, TX
                19th         War Memorial                                                   Nashville, TN
                20th         Tabernacle                                                         Atlanta, GA
                22nd        DAR Hall                                                              Washington, D.C.
                23rd         House of Blues                                                 Boston, MA
                24th         Terminal 5                                                          New York, NY
                25th         Electric Factory                                                 Philadelphia, PA
                28th         House of Blues                                                 Cleveland, OH
                29th         Royal Oak                                                            Detroit, MI
                30th         Riviera Theatre                                                 Chicago, IL
May       1st           State Theater                                                    Minneapolis, MN
                2nd          Eagle Ballroom                                            Milwaukee, WI     

 

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<p>Susan Boyle</p>

Susan Boyle

Credit: AP Photo

Susan Boyle, Taylor Swift battle it out as 2009's top seller

How is Alicia Keys album selling this week?


 
You wouldn’t think that Susan Boyle and Taylor Swift have much common, but the two are duking it out as the top seller of 2009. Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” is the CD that just keeps on selling. It will handily top next week’s chart with predicted sales of up to 650,000. For those who are counting, that means U.S. sales of more than 2 million in only four weeks.  Racking up those numbers puts “Dream” second only to Swift’s “Fearless” as top seller of the year.
 
Traditionally, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is huge for album sales as people cash in those gift cards. Hits Daily Double projects that both titles will surpass the 3 million mark by the end of the year. 
 
Returning to next week’s chart, Andrea Bocelli comfortably continues in the No. 2 spot as “My Christmas” is slated to sell around 400,000 copies. The Italian singer will likely top Alicia Keys’ “The Element of Freedom,” which will sell up to 390,000 copies, which would normally be enough to come  in at No. 1 free and clear.
 
The rest of the chart reflects artists whose sales are increasing as shoppers flock to the stores. Swift will sell around 270,000 making one of her best sales weeks of the year—more than a year after the release of “Fearless.” Fellow Nashville thrush Carrie Underwood continues to sell well, as do Michael Buble and Lady GaGa. Look for Michael Jackson’s “This is It” to return to the top 10 as a prime stocking stuffer.

 

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<p>Rihanna in &quot;Hard&quot;</p>

Rihanna in "Hard"

Watch: Rihanna’s video for 'Hard'

Watch her work a pair of Mickey Mouse ears and little else

 

Just in time for the holidays, Rihanna has made a special little video for the troops. Who know she was so patriotic? She’s not even American, for gosh’s sake.

 
Hard,” which features Jeezy, has a military theme, but is basically an excuse to look at Rihanna’s spectacular breasts in their various stages of display. Apparently, they’re so potent, that she has to put black tape over where her nipples would be, even she’s wearing a flesh-colored top. Also, taking a tip from Lady GaGa, she’s rarely in pants, just her underwear. We’re not really sure that any of her outfits are standard military issue, although we love the low-cut dress with the spikes. That's convenient for hand-to-hand combat.
 
The clip plays like an extended fashion shoot for W or Vogue where the model is in some completely nonsensical setting wearing totally inappropriate clothes, but the whole thing looks wildly Fabulous and very, very expensive.  
 
We’re still a little baffled by the Mickey Mouse ears that she sports at the end. Is that her statement on the ridiculousness of war? We’re also curious if Disney signed off on a licensing agreement given that Rihanna’s image is hardly Disney-sanitized. 
 
You can watch the video on www.rihannanow.com, once you ge past the notice that says this is an MTV premiere presented by AT&T (even though it’s on her website) and then are told to “Share this moment on Facebook and Twitter” and then cut off the scrolling constant tweets at the bottom of the screen. Sometimes, too much marketing is just too much.
 
But overall, nice going Rihanna. The troops salute you… and given the way you’re dressed, we mean that in more ways than one.

 

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