Who comes out on top of next week's album chart in Usher v. Bieber?

Does the protege remain at No. 1 or does his mentor steal his crown?

Usher’s album may be called “Raymond v. Raymond,” but it’s really Usher v. Bieber on next week’s Billboard 200 chart. Can Usher, returning with his first album since 2008’s “Here I Stand,” knock pop pipsqueak Justin Bieber’s “My World 2.0” out of the top spot? Either way, it’s a win for Usher since Bieber is signed to his label.
It looks like Usher will triumph with “Raymond v. Raymond” handily coming in at No. 1 with sales of 370,000, according to Hits Daily Double. Bieber will slip to No. 2 with very strong sales of 240,000. Erykah Badu, fueled over the controversy from her video for “Window Seat” is poised to come in at No. 3, also with six figure sales. She should move around 130,000 copies of  “New Amerykah, Part ll: Return of the Ankh.”
Other debuts in the Top 10 include Alan Jackson’s “Freight Train,” which looks like it will pull into the station at No. 7, while the latest from Ghost + Meth + Rae (Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Raekwon), “Wu-Massacre,” come in at No. 10.
The rest of the top 10 remains made up of familiar names, Monica, who had a great return last week, sticks aaround at No. 5. Our two Ladies: Antebellum and GaGa, remain strong, while Bieber’s previous set, “My World,” remains in the top 10 as well, at No. 8.

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<p>Alicia Keys</p>

Alicia Keys

Credit: Dave Allocca/AP

Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood, Black Eyed Peas and Annie Lennox all slated for 'Idol Gives Back'

Past 'Idol Gives Back' have raised more than $140 million for charity

 After taking a year hiatus, “Idol Gives Back” returns April 21 with some major stars in tow. Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood, the Black Eyed Peas, Annie Lennox and Jeff Beck are all slated to appear. As in years past, some major names like Brad Pitt, President Clinton, etc., may drop by.

“Idol Gives Back” has raised more than $140 million for charity so far, according to the show. This year’s event will raise funds for a number of U.S. and international organizations including Feeding America, United National Foundation, Children’s Health Fund and Malaria No More.
Viewers will be able to make donations during and following the program.


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<p>Billie Joe Armstrong in &quot;Last of the American Girls&quot;</p>

Billie Joe Armstrong in "Last of the American Girls"

Watch: Green Day's video for 'Last of the American Girls'

Let's party: It's the eve of destruction


 “Last of the American Girls,” the latest single from “21st Century Breakdown,” is a great ‘60s-inflected, straight-ahead slice of power pop. It makes you want to put on your go-go boots and dance. Or maybe that's just me.
The video, which premiered on MTV.com today, is one of those high-concept clips that we’re sure means something, but we’ll be darned if we know what it is. The last of the American girls in question is a conspiracy theorist who has a sweet set-up in the desert with a bed, sink, chair, tv, stereo, etc., which must all run on solar power because girlfriend has no walls or electrical outlets. But she does have two, non-speaking, blonde twins who flank her everywhere she goes and even provide support as a chair at one point. Plus, she’s got target practice going on, which comes in handy when she blows up a car later simply by pointing her trigger finger at it (maybe that’s why she’s the last of the American girls… she’s shot everyone else).
Anyway, the video makes no sense, but it doesn’t really have to, and that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. We dig that the girls aren't scantily clad for no good reason and they seem very capable of taking care of themselves.  The narrative is wrapped about a performance by the band, which, by this point, is pretty standard issue for Green Day. The boys know their fans like to see them play.  See below for yourself.




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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Watch: 'Massive Attack' from Nicki Minaj featuring Sean Garrett

Let's hear it for the monkey

We’re finally hearing—and seeing—what Nicki Minaj, the go-to girl for everyone from Mariah Carey to Usher, can do on her own and we have to say, we’re not impressed.

Massive Attack” is about something that we totally can’t decipher, but it’s mainly a collection of really dull beats with no apparent hook within 100 miles. However, we’ve seen great videos created with less. Not this time. Using this year’s go-to setting, Minaj and guest, Sean Garrett (who is featured in the song much more than Minaj), are in the desert. She has a hot pink Lamborghini and there are some strange military scenes that hint at a coup, but basically she’s trying to be Lady GaGa and it’s not working. Instead, we just get a jumbled montage of spiders and snakes and Minaj looking like she’s in some wacky “Project Runway” photo shoot. She can’t seem to get out of the desert or jungle, but she brought a seemingly endless number of outfits with her. Our favorite scene is the monkey. Go monkey go!
We’ll reserve judgment until we hear more, but some folks are better as spice added to the main dish and not the main dish themselves.



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<p>Janelle Monae</p>

Janelle Monae

Watch: Janelle Monae has happy feet in video for 'Tightrope'

Outkast's Big Boi join in at the psych ward


 Is Janelle Monae a dancing fool or just plain crazy? Either way, she’s got rhythm.
In the video for “Tightrope,” she plays an inpatient,who's having a lot more fun with her fellow patients than the devious pill-popping nurse.  
As the video, which debuted on MTV today,starts, we’re told we’re about to enter the Palace of the Dogs Asylum where “dancing has long been forbidden for its subversive effects on the residents and its tendency to lead to illegal magical practices.” What follows is a great dance video with Monae leading a corps of dancers through a little soft shoe as they shuffle through the halls of the asylum.
Oh, sure there’s are those troubling faceless caped  specters (who remind us of the best “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” episode ever, “Hush”)  interrupting the fun, and ultimately leading to a wacky interaction toward the end of the clip as the magical practices are unleashed, but otherwise the joint is jumping.  Plus, there’s a fun cameo from Big Boi. It’s the most inspired dancing since Christopher Walken in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapons of Choice”clip. Maybe the clip will spawn a whole new dance, “The Tightrope.”
The song and video are a toe-tapping ode to both James Brown and trying to find balance in one’s life. We don’t why Monae isn’t a bigger star yet. Her voice is fantastic. All we know is the video makes us very very happy.
Monae’s “The Arch Android” comes out April 13.





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<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Credit: AP Photo

John Mayer sets summer tour dates and brings Avett Bros., Train and Owl City along

Mayer starts new leg on July 16 in Charlotte


Things clearly go more smoothly for John Mayer when he concentrates on the performing.  His current arena tour is drawing strong reviews and getting the focus back on his music instead of his mouth, which he should probably keep shut unless he’s singing.
The tour is going so well that it has been extended throughout the summer. The next leg of “The Battle Studies World Tour” starts in Charlotte, N.C.
The spring tour has featured Michael Franti & Spearhead as an opener and the summer acts are just as great. Slotted for various dates in the summer are Train, the Avett Brothers and Owl City.
Jul 16      Charlotte, NC          Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlotte       (withTrain)                           
Jul 17      Raleigh, NC           Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion  @ Walnut Creek   (withTrain)                           
Jul 18      Virginia Beach, VA   Verizon Wireless Amphitheater                         (TBA)                                    
Jul 21      Wantagh, NY                        Nikon at Jones Beach Theater                           (withTrain)                           
Jul 24     Scranton, PA                         Toyota Pavilion @ Montage Mountain           (withTrain)                           
Jul 25     Hershey, PA                          Hershey Park Stadium                                         (withTrain)                           
Jul 27     Cincinnati, OH                       Riverbend Music Center                                     (withTrain)                           
Jul 28      Clarkston, MI                        DTE Energy Music Theatre                              (withTrain)                           
Jul 30      Camden, NJ                           Susquehanna Bank Center                                 (withTrain)                           
Jul 31     Bristow, VA                           Jiffy Lube Live                                                      (The Avett Brothers)          
Aug 01   Burgettstown, PA                First Niagara Pavilion                                          (withTrain)                           
Aug 03   Holmdel, NJ                           PNC Bank Arts Center                                        (withTrain)                           
Aug 06   Mansfield, MA                     Comcast Center                                                    (withTrain)                           
Aug 07   Hartford, CT                          Comcast Theatre                                                  (withTrain)                           
Aug 08   Saratoga, NY                         Saratoga PAC                                                       (withTrain)                           
Aug 10   Toronto, ONT                       Molson Canadian Amphitheatre                       (withTrain)                           
Aug 11   Darien Center, NY                Darien Lake PAC                                  (withTrain)                           
Aug 13   Cuyahoga Falls, OH            Blossom Music Center                                        (The Avett Brothers)          
Aug 14   Tinley Park, IL                      First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre                    (The Avett Brothers)          
Aug 15   Noblesville, IN                      Verizon Wireless Music Center                         (The Avett Brothers           
Aug 18   Phoenix, AZ          Cricket Wireless Pavilion                                    (with Owl City)                    
Aug 20   Mountain View, CA          Shoreline Amphitheatre                                         (with Owl City)                    
Aug 21   Wheatland, CA                    Sleep Train Amphitheatre                                   (with Owl City)                    
Aug 22   Los Angeles, CA                 Hollywood Bowl                                                  (with Owl City)                    
Aug 24   Irvine, CA             Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre                         (with Owl City)                    
Aug 25   Chula Vista, CA                    Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre                          (with Owl City)                    
Aug 31   West Valley City, UT          USANA Amphitheater                                        (TBA)                                    
Sep 01    Morrison, CO                        Red Rocks Amphitheatre                                    (with Owl City)    
Sep 04    Dallas, TX                             Superpages.com   Center                                    (TBA)
Sep 05    Woodlands, TX                   Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion                     (Owl City)
Sep 06    Orange Beach, AL                The Amphitheatre @ the Wharf        (with Owl City)                  
Sep 08    Atlanta, GA           Aaron’s Amphitheatre @ Lakewood                (with Owl City)                    
Sep 10    Tampa, FL                             The Ford Amphitheatre                                      (with Owl City)
Sep 11    West Palm Beach, Fl            Cruzan Amphitheatre                                          (with Owl City)                    


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<p>Toby Keith</p>

Toby Keith

Like LL Cool J, Toby Keith was unaware of his inclusion in Sarah Palin's show

Unlike LL Cool J, Toby Keith is still in 'Real American Stories'

Like LL Cool J, Toby Keith was in promotional ads as one of the guests scheduled to appear on  “Real American Stories,” a Fox News show hosted by Sarah Palin. Unlike LL Cool J, Keith is still slated to be on the program, but his inclusion was news to him. 

We just talked to Toby Keith's representative. Keith, who says he's a registered Democrat,  was not told about the usage of a past interview for Palin's program. "We were never contacted by Fox," his rep tells Hitfix."I have no idea what interview it's taken from.They're promoting this like it's a brand new interview. He never sat down with Sarah Palin."
As HitFix already reported here, LL Cool J questioned the usage of an old Fox interview in the Palin show via Twitter. Fox responded by yanking the LL Cool segment from the show, which airs April 1. Keith's segment is still in.


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<p>Linkin Park</p>

Linkin Park

Linkin Park's new song, 'Blackbirds,' coming to a mobile game app near you

Rock band unveils new song video 'Linkin Park 8-bit Rebellion'

 Want to hear Linkin Park’s new song?  You have to play the rock band’s new mobile game first.

 Fans will only be able to hear “Blackbirds” after finishing play of “Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion!,” the band’s game app that launches soon in iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and anything else Apple related that starts with an i. No firm release date is available.
Linkin Park began developing the game app more than a year ago with the folks from game developer Artificial Life. In the game, players help the band free its much from an evil entity, PixxelKorp, who has stolen Linkin Park’s music. Fans travel through different “districts,” each one themed after a band member. In addition to “Blackbirds,” the game includes 8-bit interpretations of some of its biggest hits, including “In the End,” “New Divide,” “One Step Closer” and “Crawling.” Get to the end and you get to hear “Blackbirds” coming out of your tinny little iPod.
In other Linkin Park news, the band is in the studio working on a new album set for release this year.


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Christina Aguilera's latest single is "Not Myself Tonight."

Christina Aguilera's latest single is "Not Myself Tonight."

Listen: Christina Aguilera's new single, 'Not Myself Tonight'

Should Lady GaGa be worried?

Welcome back Christina.

After teasing us with the artwork from her new single, “Not Myself Tonight,” Christina Aguilera shows us the goods with the music. In keeping with the album’s title, “Bionic,” the track is steeped in sterile, electronic beats. It's her first single from the fairly tepid "Keeps Getting Better" from her greatest hits set.
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Justin Bieber performing at the 2010 Kid's Choice Awards

Justin Bieber performing at the 2010 Kid's Choice Awards

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Watch: Justin Bieber's new video for 'Never Let You Go'

Who's he pledging undying love to?

Hear that? That’s the sound of little girls’ hearts beating as they watching Justin Bieber’s new video for “Never Let You Go.” Hear that other sound? That’s the sound of the same girls collectively stabbing pins into their voodoo doll of Paige Hurd, who plays his love interest in the clip.

The mid-tempo ballad is one of the weakest tracks musically on “My World 2.0,” which is sure to come in at No. 1this week. However. lyrically it says everything his tween audience wants to hear like the following: “It’s like an angel came down and took me Heaven/because when I stare in your eyes, it couldn’t be better.” Swoon!!!

The video, directed by Colin Tilley, features Bieber—and lots and lots of him—pledging his love and fidelity to Hurd, whose basic job is to look adoringly at him and try not to be taller than him (the much more difficult of the two tasks), as they hang out at some deserted cavernous structure by a beach. They hold hands, slow dance, but he breaks away after teasingly appearing as if he’s going to kiss her. It’s super sweet, just as it should be.


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