Listen: Sade makes a militant return on 'Soldier of Love'

Singer appears after a decade-long absence. Did you miss her?

If you’re under 30, unless your parents have introduced you to Sade, it’s probably impossible to understand how adored she was when her records first came out in the 1980s. In fact, you may have never heard her name.
Here was the stunning, exotic  British/Nigerian beauty , who sang with total ennui, in a somewhat flat monotone that nonetheless stirred emotions within the listener even if Sade remained impassive. Songs like “Your Love is King,” “Smooth Operator,” and “No Ordinary Love” were mainstays on MTV. Indeed, with her sleek, gorgeous presence and stylized videos, she and a then-nascent MTV were made for each other.
It’s been more than 20 years since Sade has a real radio hit and around 10 years since her last album, but she’s back now, still on her original label (Epic) with a new single from her forthcoming February album. (Editor's Note: As one of our readers pointed out below, it has actually been 17 years since her last radio hit, "No Ordinary Love." )
And it’s amazing how little has changed. Not that we expected Sade to suddenly be a belter, but “Soldier of Love” sounds like it could have come off of “Diamond Life” or any of her other huge sellers.Hear it here.
“I’ve lost the use of my heart, but I’m still alive,” Sade sings as the song open as its military-precision drums propel the story. Her voice is instantly identifiable, but is deeper, and not quite as smooth. It’s grown a little rougher around the edges over time. However, that weatherbeaten tone certainly fits such lyrics as “I’ve been torn up inside, I’ve been left behind” and “It’s too late for love to come to turn it all around.”
It is too late for Sade? Perhaps. We doubt even adult-leaning radio would play her at this point. This is a song that will live or die by press and television placements. It has the right tone to be used in a commercial for an FX TV show or something like that. Plus, there are some righteous dance remixes to be made of this track.
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<p>Billy Corgan</p>

Billy Corgan

Listen: Smashing Pumpkins' 'A Song for a Son'

Billy Corgan laments the child he never had

The first of 44 new songs that will be unspooled for free on Smashing Pumpkins’ website is available now for download on the band’s website. SP’s Billy Corgan told AOL’s Spinner that “A Song for a Son” is about the child he never had. It’s a moving, disquieting tune.
"It's got something to do about not having any kids and thinking about why I don't have any kids," Corgan tells Spinner. "And then also kind of thinking about my relationship with my father -- there's some kind of connection there, but it's not overt. I didn't set out to write that. It just rolled out of me."
“A Song for a Son” opens with a long elegant piano intro, redolent of Gary Jules’ dreamy version of  Tears for Fears’ “Mad World,” before Corgan starts singing in a strange, affected voice (think a little Jagger-esque), about how this is a song for a son that he never had. The lyrics take a few strange turns that we can’t figure out what he’s singing about, but we’re sure it’s about fathers and sons and even fallen sons (or at least we think that’s what that line about Daughters of the Revolution carrying their sons back home is about...).
The piano gives way to a psychedelic, dense guitar break that sounds like something out of Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World.”
Then it goes back to a haunting, doll-like feel as a harpsichord replaces the guitar, for an otherworldy, spooky feel as Corgan sings, sadly, “This is a song for a son, this is a song for a sailor/the best I ever had/he sailed without a map.” It’s as if the non-existent son, made real for these six minutes, has somehow evaporated into thin air.
“A Song for a Son” is part of “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope,” the new collection from SP that will eventually be bundled in 11 four-song EPs.
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<p>Chris Brown</p>

Chris Brown

Review: Chris Brown's 'Graffiti': Is it just scrawl?

Listen to it and decide for yourself


How about if we just agree to ignore the elephant in the room and judge Chris Brown’s “Graffiti” solely on its musical merits instead of through the filter of an admitted domestic abuser?
The problem is he won’t let us.  It’s impossible to listen to much of “Graffiti” without parsing it for apologies to Rihanna and “he didn’t just say that” moments.  For example, “Crawl” is one of the album’s high spots, a gorgeous, yearning ballad worthy of R. Kelly full of regret. It’s easy to imagine it at a love letter, a public apology of sorts to Rihanna (In the video, he sports ugly black-rimmed glasses that make him look like a Poindexter who couldn’t hurt a fly…obvious, much?).
But then there are tunes that, if about Rihanna, seem so devoid of any level of self-awareness that it’s downright staggering. “I’ll Go” starts as a beautiful ballad about how the girl has left “with his heart,” when she walked out the door, but if she never comes back, “this love was worth it.” Gee, think Rihanna feels the same way? We’ll ask her when her scars heal. Then on the upbeat “Famous Girl,” he questions, “Didn’t you know I’d break your heart?” Is he, as Jennifer Aniston once said of Brad Pitt, missing a sensitivity chip?
Brown is a talent, to be sure, but he in no way rivals those he clearly wishes to emulate: everyone from Usher to Michael Jackson. For the most part, he rises to the material on such tracks as first single, the robotic, Middle-Eastern tinged “I Can Transform Ya,” featuring Lil Wayne and Swizz Beats.
But again, the material doesn’t demand much in terms of range and flexibility…or creativity.  “Sing like Me” is a slow grind of a song. He takes that sexy tempo straight into Too Much Information-ville on “Take My Time.” It’s just kind of silly when he sings “I make you bloom like a flower bed,” but it turns downright over the top when we hear a girl receiving Brown’s ministrations. Ewwww.
“Take My Time” segues into “I.Y.A.,” an electronic, auto-tuned number, in which Brown declares “I want to wake up in your arms” (“I.Y.A”= in your arms, get it? ) That kind of juxtaposition, given that the girl in “Take My Time” is the kind you don’t take home to mother, is part of what makes “Graffiti” so frustrating. There’s a certain multiple personality to the whole effort.
There’s the good-timing Brown, as displayed on “Pass Out,” which incongruously samples Steve Winwood’s “Valerie,” who’s out to woo back fans of such tunes as the shiny mega-hit “Forever.” Then there’s the swaggering Brown on “Wait,” whose ferocious beats lift it above much of the rest of the material on “Graffiti,” except for the unfortunate line about passing around a girl.
Finally there’s the Brown who nearly sinks the whole album with “Lucky Me,” in which he whines about having to go on stage, “even though I’m so damaged. No one said it would be so hard.” Whoever encouraged him to put this piece of self-indulgent drivel on the CD—although he tries to redeem himself toward the end with how he’s changed and he’s “finally becoming a man”—should be fired. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the song, but if I am, so will other listeners.
He should exorcise his demons while he’s picking up trash as part of his community service or doing a confessional television interview that requires him to proffer another ounce of flesh. “Graffiti” works best when he offers catchy, dance tracks as opposed to making a failed bid for redemption.
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<p>Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace</p>

Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace

Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace co-headline tour starting January

Flyleaf joins rockers on the road

Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace will kick off a headlining tour starting Jan. 15 in Peoria, Ill. The rockers, both of whom are mainstays on the active rock charts, will be joined by Flyleaf on the first leg.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Dec. 12, but will be available to fan club members starting Dec. 8.
January 15        Peoria, IL                     Peoria Civic Center
January 16        Detroit, MI                    Joe Louis Arena                                  
January 18        Madison, WI                 Alliant Energy                                                   
January 20        Duluth, MN                   Duluth Entertainment Convention Center             
January 21        LaCrosse, WI               LaCrosse Center Arena                          
January 23        Mankato, MN               Verizon Wireless Center                                               
January 24        Rockford, IL                 Rockford Metro Center                                                
January 26        Grand Island, NE           Heartland Events Center                                              
January 27        Cedar Rapids, IA          US Cellular Center                                                       
January 29        Evansville, IN                Roberts Stadium                                                          
January 30        Ft. Wayne, IN               Allen County War Memorial Coliseum                              


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<p>Alicia Keys</p>

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys' 'Freedom' streams in full for Facebook friending

Putting the 'free' in 'The Element of Freedom'

Want to hear Alicia Keys’ “The Element of Freedom” a week before it’s in stores? That’s simple—just “friend” the artist on Facebook.
Starting today, the album is streaming in its entirety on her Facebook fan page using Involver technology. If you’re not a fan yet, you’re just a click away.
“The Element of Freedom” is Keys’ fourth studio album. Keys executive produced the set along with Jeff Robinson, Peter Edge and Kerry “Krucial” Brothers. The set includes first single, “Doesn’t Mean Anything,” which peaked at No. 14 on Billboards Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” which is No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also includes “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” with Jay-Z and “Put It in a Love Song,” a duet with Beyonce.


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<p>Weezer's Rivers Cuomo</p>

Weezer's Rivers Cuomo

Following bus crash, Weezer cancels remaining December tour dates

Lead singer Rivers Cuomo suffers three broken ribs in accident

Following the bus crash yesterday that injured lead singer Rivers Cuomo, Weezer has cancelled its remaining December tour dates.

On Dec. 6, a tour bus carrying Cuomo, his wife, infant daughter and nanny slid off the road after skidding on ice in New York. The group’s website has a full report, including pictures of rescue crews using the jaws of life to pry out Cuomo, who suffered three broken ribs.
“We are sorry to say that the rest of the December Raditude Tour has been cancelled - when we can reschedule the dates we will, of course,” according to the site. “I have no ticket or refund or whatever info at this time, but stay tuned to this site and the ticketing websites for more info. For now its a waiting game for all of us. Thanks for your kind thoughts and good wishes, we need them!”
Weezer had three remaining dates scheduled for this month: Dec. 7 in Boston, Dec. 9 in Washington, D.C. and Dec. 10 in Camden, N.J.


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<p>Chris Brown's &quot;Graffiti&quot;</p>

Chris Brown's "Graffiti"

Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg and Gucci Mane lead Dec. 8 CD releases

Will Brown's audience forgive him by buying 'Grafitti?'


Two weeks ago it was Rihanna’s turn, now Chris Brown brings his latest CD, “Graffiti,” to the marketplace. We’ll see if the public is ready to forgive Brown his transgressions against Rihanna by purchasing the collection or if they’re not ready to make nice. He’s the biggest name this R&B-heavy week as Snoop Dogg, Gucci Mane, Timbaland and the Clipse also release new sets. On the rock front, 30 Seconds to Mars and We the Kings rule.
Chris Brown, “Graffiti” (Jive): Gosh, Brown’s name hasn’t been in the news lately, so we don’t know what he’s been up to. Read review here.
The Clipse, “Til the Casket Drops” (Columbia): After working primarily with the Neptunes, Virgina-based rap duo links with Rick Rubin for its third set, as well as Timbaland, Scott Scorch, Kanye West, P Diddy and others.
Gucci Mane, “The State vs. Radric Davis” (So Icey/Atlantic): After appearing on seemingly thousands of other folks’ records, it’s rapper Mane’s (born Radric Davis) turn to be the name before “featuring…” on this, his first album for Warner Bros. Records Guests includes pretty much everyone who has had Mane appear on their records: Usher (on current single, “Spotlight’), Lil Wayne, Mariah Carey and Snoop Dogg, as well as Plies, who took first single “Wasted” to No. 3.
Snoop Dogg, “Malice N Wonderland” (Doggystyle/Priority):  Snoop’s tenth studio album takes its name from the split side of his personality: the dark malicious side and a lighter side. Current single, the sexy, sleek  “Gangsta Luv,’ is at No. 6 on the rap chart and definitely represents the softer side of Snoop despite the R-rated lyrics.
Thirty Seconds to Mars, “This is War” (Virgin/EMI): Following a nasty lawsuit with its label, Jared Leto-led rock band come back with its third album after a four-year break. First single, layered, intense rock drama “Kings + Queens,” accompanied by a short film, “The Ride,” is an active rock hit.
Timbaland, “Timbaland Presents Shock Value 2” (Mosley Music/Blackground/Universal): The first “Shock Value,” issues in 2007, featured collaborations with 50 Cent, Elton John, Fall Out boy, Nelly Furtado and others. For Round Two, he linked with such diverse artists as Kings of Leon, Lady GaGa, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger (!), Paramore, Shakira, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.
Various Artists, “Glee: The Music—Season One, Vol. 2” (Columbia): “Glee” goes on hiatus for four months Dec. 9. Until it returns in April, “Gleeks” can amuse themselves with another collection of tunes from the hit Fox show. Let’s see if Vol. 2 scales the height of the recently released Vol. 1, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. This time the kids from McKinley High are signing such tunes as “Proud Mary,” “True Colors,”  and “My Life Would Suck Without You.”
We the Kings, “Smile Kid” (S-Curve): Florida power pop band who score a hit two years ago with “Check Yes Juliet,” returns with second album, following stints on the road with the likes of Boys Like Girls, Cobra Starship, All Time Low and The Academy Is…


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<p>&nbsp;Leona Lewis</p>

 Leona Lewis

Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Listen: Leona Lewis's 'Avatar' theme, 'I See You'

Will it be her 'My Heart Will Go On'

So will “I See You,” the theme song to “Avatar” be Leona Lewis’s equivalent of Celine Dion’s “Titanic” hit, “My Heart Will Go On?”

The song has all the right ingredients: it’s the theme song to “Titanic” director James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which is slated to be the holiday season’s major blockbuster, it was co-written by James Horner, who penned “My Heart Will Go On” and it’s delivered in a beautifully nuanced performance by Leona Lewis that builds to a satisfying crescendo. Think Celine Dion crossed with Enya. Hear it here. Or listen to the embed below.
“I See You”  even sounds like “Heart” in a number of ways, although it has a more interesting “otherworldly” feel in its production (completely appropriate given “Avatar’s” plot):  The two share a mid-tempo feel, classic love song lyrics of yearning, and some strikingly similar chord changes that give “I See You” an instantly familiar feel.
Those are the plusses: Now the negatives: It’s a radically different scene at radio these days than it was for “Heart” in 1997. Top 40 will not be inclined to play something this ethereal sounding without a heavy beat. It could be even a tough sell at Adult Contemporary radio, although that will be where it finds its biggest success.  What will propel is up Billboard’s Hot 100 will be digital single sales, not airplay. “Avatar” is also skewing more towards males than “Titanic,” which was, when it comes down to it,” a total chick flick on a boat. Then there’s Lewis. After her tremendously successful debut CD, “Spirit” spawned one of the decade’s biggest hits, “Bleeding Love,” her second CD, “Echo,” arrive two weeks ago with a whimper, not a bang. It debuted at No. 13 and sank to No. 45 this week.
Will “I See You” garner an Oscar nod for best song. Sure… will it win? I don’t know. It’s going to face some fierce competition this year, so it’s far from a lock. Plus, it’s not really fair to compare it to “My Heart Will Go On,” which was one of the biggest –selling singles ever worldwide. It went on to capture not only the Oscar, but the Grammy for song and record of the year. However, we’ll see if Cameron and Horner can make lightning strike twice.

What do you think of 'I See You'? Share your thoughts below.


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<p>&nbsp;Andrea Bocelli</p>

 Andrea Bocelli

Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC

Christmas comes early for Andrea Bocelli on next week's chart

Does he burst Susan Boyle's bubble?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas” is the breakout holiday title of the year. Four weeks after its release, the title is poised to climb to No. 1 on next week’s album chart, leap frogging over Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream”… maybe.

It’s too soon to tell if Bocelli’s CD, which got a huge boost from a Nov. 30 “Oprah” appearance, will evolve into the monster that Josh Groban’s “Noel” became. The title has sold close to five million copies since its release a few years ago. Bocelli is already closing in on the million mark: this week, “My Christmas” is expected to sell up to 425,000 copies. Speaking of “Noel,” it catapults back up the chart this week (possible because of Billboard’s recent change to allow catalog titles on the Billboard 200) into the top 12.

Boyle’s “Dream,” which set records with sales of 700,000 last week, could possibly surpass “My Christmas,” but Hits Daily Double predicts it will come in around 400,000.

Previously released titles continue to dominate the chart: R. Kelly’s “Untitled” is the only CD released this week slated to enter the Top 10. Hits predicts the sex-drenched set will come in at No. 3, although Taylor Swift, riding the waves of her eight Grammys nods, may overtake him.


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<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

ABC drops Adam Lambert from Kimmel and New Year's Eve slates

What does Lambert have to say about it all?


ABC’s banishment of Adam Lambert continues to be other networks’ gains. His upcoming appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” has been canceled and now he will perform on NBC’s  “Jay Leno” instead. As you’ll recall, following Lambert’s controversial appearance on the American Music Awards on Nov. 22, ABC dropped him from “Good Morning America.” CBS’s “This Morning” quickly issued an invitation, which he accepted.

To his credit, after his initial blast of calling ABC’s  action discriminatory, Lambert has done everything he can to put out the flames instead of fan them. His most recent tweets continue that pattern. Late last night, he confirmed the Kimmel cancellation and added that he had also been dropped from a New Year’s Eve appearance. “Don’t blame [ABC]]. It’s the FCC heat,” he tweeted. He doesn’t name the Dec. 31 show, but it must be “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” I guess that’s one NYE’s ball that will have to drop without any assistance from Lambert.  Quite frankly, we find the FCC line to be bunk. Neither of those shows airs live (the performances for Dick Clark’s show are taped beforehand), therefore, there would be time to edit or blur out anything that might raise the FCC’s ire.

Interestingly, Lambert will be on ABC on Dec. 9 when he appears as one of Barbara Walters’ most fascinating people of 2010, so there’s not a total ban at ABC of all things Lambert: just performances.

Lambert latest tweet on the imbroglio: “It’ll all blow over. Let’s focus on being positive.”    As I discovered when I interviewed Lambert, he’s nothing if not smart. He knows there’s a fine line between getting people talking and turning them off and that he, for better or worse, crossed it with his AMA performance. As he told Ellen DeGeneres on Monday, “I think in hindsight, I look back on it and I go, ‘OK, maybe that wasn’t the best first impression to make.’”


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