<p>Bon Jovi</p>

Bon Jovi

Review: Bon Jovi's new album 'The Circle'

Was band born to follow its familiar path?


Unlike a lot of rock critics, I like Bon Jovi—and freely admit it. And when I haven’t liked them, my respect for them has carried me through until they delivered another perfect pop nugget like “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” that sent me on another pro-Bon Jovi wave.
For more than 25 years, Bon Jovi has been entertaining millions upon millions of fans—and they’ve earned every one of them. They write populist themes with broad appeal and deliver live in a way that few acts can; plus their work ethic is staggering.  When their popularity has sagged in the U.S. (outside of their native New Jersey, of course), their legions of fans worldwide have propelled them. They’re one of the top concert draws in the world, rivaling U2 and Madonna and the Rolling Stones.
On the John Shanks-produced “The Circle,” a much more rock oriented record than its predecessor, 2007’s “Lost Highway,” Bon Jovi is trying to please both the longtime fans with its usual stadium anthems, like first single, “We Weren’t Born to Follow” (which the band played at the 20th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall) and the lazy, written in-our-sleep  “Work for the Working Man,” while attempting to continue to reinvent itself as proof of its relevancy.
It’s a luxury problem to have, but for any band with the stature and longevity of a Bon Jovi, the challenge is how to compete with your own history. Can there ever be another “Wanted Dead or Alive” or “You Give Love a Bad Name?” The aforementioned “Who Says,” released to radio in 2006, garnered the band its first ever Grammy and was a huge hit (including a No. 1 country smash), so it can definitely be done.
However, the songs that soar on “The Circle” aren’t the obvious choices like “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” but smaller gems like “When We Were Beautiful,” which is one of the most interesting, layered songs the band, not known for its subtleties, has ever recorded. The tune shares its name with a documentary about the band filmed during its 2007 tour. It’s a beauty, full of ringing guitars, evocative lyrics, and a sing-along chorus redolent of, believe it or not, The Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town.”   “Thorn in My Side” rattles along as a fine battle cry for never giving up. Even though it’s not new territory for the band, its chorus is one of the catchiest that Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora, whose guitar solos are front and center on almost every song here,  have written in years.

The band is less successful when it tries to make a socio-political commentary on anything other than its tried-and-true, blue-collar, working man themes. “Bullet,” for its driving beat, doesn’t succeed as Jon Bon Jovi asks “what is the distance between a bullet and a gun/God are you listening or have you just given up?” as he catalogs society’s woes.  
Sometimes a great pop song is born from a cliché, but in a few cases here, the clichés just sound like trite homilies, such as on “Live Before You Die.” The song begins with promise—it’s the rare tune with Jon Bon Jovi singing in first person—but succumbs to platitudes. Same with “Love’s the Only Rule” (Am I crazy, but can you hear Neil Diamond doing that song?). The latter is redeemed by its “Oh, Oh, Oh” chorus that could become a concert staple.
To Bon Jovi’s credit, the band isn’t trying to capture past glory or grab a younger audience—as it tried to do with “It’s My Life.” In fact, it addresses living in the present and dealing with the current hand you’ve been dealt on “Fast Cars.” Like many of songs here, there’s a big chorus to go with the big life themes, but it’s a nice metaphor, well delivered. Similarly, album closer, mid-tempo “Learn to Love,” reminds us, “you’ve got to learn to love the world you’re living in.”  With its big drums (think a Steve Lillywhite production) and Jon Bon Jovi’s impassioned vocals, it’s a nice send-off back into the world.


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Bon Jovi, Flyleaf, Switchfoot lead rock heavy slate of Nov. 10 releases

Lady GaGa joins Wale on his first full-length set


It’s a small but mighty release week as several platinum acts, led by Bon Jovi, return with new collections. The rush to capitalize on the holiday shopping season is in full effect and won’t slow down until Santa’s sleigh arrives. Time was when the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was the last significant release date, but now expect titles from heavy hitters all the way through Dec. 22, when Mary J. Blige’s “Hip Hop Soul” comes out. In the meantime, here are some of Nov. 10’s top offerings.
Tori Amos, “Midwinter Grace” (Universal Republic): The Cornflake Girl puts her own spin on the holidays on this, her first seasonal CD. Amos takes classics and adds her own interpretation, plus throws in a few originals for good cheer.
Bon Jovi, “The Circle” (Island Def Jam): First single, “We Weren’t Born to Follow” is the type of stadium anthem upon which Bon Jovi has built its 25-plus-year career.  There’s more of the same on “The Circle,” plus the accompanying DVD, “When We Were Beautiful,” which looks at the band’s 2007 tour from the stage and behind the scenes.
Dashboard Confessional, “After the Ending” (Interscope): Chris Carrabba-led emo band supreme delivers “After the Ending,”  its first album of new material in three years, any way you want it-- The set comes as a 2-CD pack: one disc is the full-band electric version of the songs, while disc two is all acoustic renditions of the same songs.
Flyleaf, “Memento Mori” (A&M/Octone): Female-fronted Texas quintet returns with its second searing collection of hard rock tunes.
Wyclef Jean, “DJ Drama Presents Wyclef Jean—Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, To the Projects, To the Mansion (Carnival House/Megaforce): On this concept album, Jean takes on the persona of Toussaint St. Jean, who is based on a Haitian revolutionary hero. Are you with me so far? The hip-hop album, delivered as a mixtape of sorts, also features Eve, Timbaland, Maino and Cyndi Lauper.
Switchfoot, “Hello Hurricane” (lowercase people/Atlantic):  Switchfoot has a new label—their own-- and a harder sound on its seventh studio album, the first of four new sets recorded at their new home studio.
Wale, “Attention: Deficit” (Allido/Interscope): After a series of well conceived—and received—mix tapes, DC-based rapper releases his first full-length album. And he’s brought plenty of famous friends, including Lady GaGa, Pharrell, Gucci Mane, Bun B and Jazmine Sullivan.


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<p>Carrie Underwood</p>

Carrie Underwood


Does Carrie Underwood knock Michael Jackson off the chart mountaintop?

Is that it for 'This is It' soundtrack?

Country queen Carrie Underwood is set to knock the King of Pop off his throne next week as the “American Idol” winner’s new set, “Play On,” is on target to sell up to 340,000 copies in its debut week.

That’s more than twice as much as Michael Jackson’s “This is It” looks like it will move, according to Hits Daily Double, which puts the companion CD to the film at around 170,000 copies.

There are plenty of other debuts to crow about: Gleeks are snapping up the soundtrack to “Glee,” which will come in at No. 3 with sales of 125,000 copies and holiday shoppers are going in big for Andrea Bocelli’s holiday title, “My Christmas.” Hits Daily Double predicts opening frame sales of  110,000-120,000. That is at least five times what Bob Dylan or David Archuleta sold in the opening week with their holiday-themed titles a few weeks back.

There was a time when any new “Now That’s What I Call Music” set debuted at No. 1. That day may have passed due to digital downloading, but “Now 32” looks good for a Top 5 debut with sales of around 70,000. That will be enough to squeeze past Weezer’s “Ratitude,”  which should bow at No. 6 with 60,000-65,000 copies sold.

Other new titles selling well, but probably not enough to debut in the Top 10 include the Foo Fighters greatest hits and the new Slayer. Both are predicted to sell in the 35,000-40,000 range.

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

Rihanna, "Hard"

Listen: Does Rihanna get it right with 'Hard?'

Is the third track the charm from 'Rated R?'

Remember those days when you bought a CD and actually got excited at discovering the songs you hadn’t heard yet? That’s rapidly disappearing. In other words, another day, another song from Rihanna’s “Rated R” has leaked.

“Hard” featuring Young Jeezy is easily the catchiest of the tunes we’ve heard off of the Nov. 23 CD so far. It’s accessible and yet it has an edge.

Written by Tricky Stewart and The Dream, the terrific twosome who brought us “Umbrella,” “Hard” has a much, err, sorry, harder sound than “Umbrella” and is consistent with the tougher, world weary Rihanna displayed so far on “Rated R” tunes “Russian Roulette” and “Wait Your Turn.”  At the same time, it’s the first of the trio that we can actually imagine radio playing as other than a novelty.

Another plus: the slight reggae/dub beat that befits a girl from Barbados and her matching delivery. Just try not to sing “where they at” after listening a few times. Young Jeezy’s rap fits in perfectly and provides a nice contrast to Rihanna’s lighter delivery.

Rihanna’s singing all about, well, herself here. Apparently, she’s the “tougher than a lion” and is “the hottest bitch in heels.” Wanna tell her otherwise?

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Credit: David J. Phillip/AP

Rihanna to perform tracks from 'Rated R' for the world on Nov. 16

Singer tells 'Good Morning America,' she's 'embarassed' over loving Chris Brown

 Rihanna will preview tracks from new album, “Rated R,” on Nov. 16 during a globally streamed live performance from an undisclosed London location.

But first, there’s a little data mining to be done. Nokia is sponsoring the whole shebang, so to take part, you have to sign up to watch the live stream through Nokia’s website at www.nokia.com/rihanna.
And, of course, Nokia then wants you to download a widget that counts down to the performance, download a Rihanna mobile app, and, natch, download the album from the Nokia Music Store. You will then receive Nokia emails/texts for the rest of your life.
The press release announcing the concert calls “Russian Roulette” a “sultry” song. Have they actually listened to the lyrics? Just asking…
In other Rihanna news, because we feel it’s going to be Ri-Ri 24/7 between now and “Rated R’s” Nov. 23 release, she told Diane Sawyer on today’s “Good Morning America,” that it was “embarrassing” that she fell in love with someone, Chris Brown, who could be an abuser. And even worse, she went back to him after the Feb. 8 incident that left her battered and bruised.
“I even went back after he beat me, which was wrong," she told Sawyer.. "But again ... I'm a human being... It's completely normal to go back. You start lying to yourself. The minute the physical wounds go away you want this thing to go away. This is a memory you don't want to have ever again."
MTV has an interesting article that gives fan reaction to her “GMA” interview, which will air in its entirety on “20/20” on Friday night. While many applaud her courage to talk about her abuse, some fans question the timing of her decision to speak out now, just as she has a new CD to promote.



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<p>&nbsp;Alicia Keys</p>

 Alicia Keys

Credit: AP

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys love New York: Duo set to record 'Empire State of Mind, Part 2'

Tune will appear on Keys' Dec. 15 CD, 'The Element of Freedom'


Jay-Z and Alicia Keys are clearly in a New York state of mind. The pair will record a sequel to their Big Apple anthem, “Empire State of Mind,” for inclusion on Keys’ new album, “The Element of Freedom,” out Dec. 15. 
“Empire State of Mind, Part 2” will include a new verse from Jay-Z, according to MTV News. The original, which appears on Jay-Z’s chart-topping “Blueprint 3” CD, has served the New Yorkers very well: it’s been a hit at radio, plus the pair performed it at the World Series and on the MTV Video Music Awards.


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<p>Adam Lambert and Katy Perry at last week's world premiere of Michael Jackson's &quot;This Is It.&quot;</p>

Adam Lambert and Katy Perry at last week's world premiere of Michael Jackson's "This Is It."

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Adam Lambert works with the creme de la creme on 'For Your Entertainment'

New songs by Pink, Lady GaGa, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, but why does it still feel like a mixed bag?


Adam Lambert has lined-up a who’s who of top producers and songwriters for his post-“American Idol” debut, “For Your Entertainment.”
While most of the names have leaked out already, below is a complete track listing of Lambert’s Nov. 23 release along with songwriters and producers. Some names are no surprise like Britney Spears’ partners in crime Dr. Luke and Max Martin or “AI” judge Kara Dioguardi, and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, who seems to be writing for everyone these days. (We’re a little bummed that DioGuardi’s contribution, called “Strut,” isn’t actually a remake of the Sheena Easton song…Lambert would tear that up).
A few other contributions, like those from Pink, Lady GaGa and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, we’re very eager to hear, but we’re most excited about “Music Again,” written by the Darkness’s Justin Hawkins. Hawkins and Lambert share the same sense of drama and glam attitude, so that song will no doubt be crazily over the top.
The producers are all over the place—while we’ve only heard the title track and “2012” theme “Time for Miracles,” which is on here as a bonus cut—it’s hard to imagine that the CD hangs together as any collected work; it seems like it will be a set of 14 very different songs that reside on the same disc. it's a bit of the "It Takes a Village" approach to record making. Rob Cavallo, who produced four tracks, is best known for his work with Green Day and Goo Goo Dolls, while Linda Perry is famous (aside from being in 4 Non-Blondes) for writing and producing Pink and Christina Aguilera. Howard Benson is best associated with rock acts like Daughtry. We anticipate a very mixed bag.
Below is the track listing.  
1. MUSIC AGAIN: Writer – Justin Hawkins, Producer – Rob Cavallo
2. FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT: Writers – Claude Kelly/Dr. Luke, Producer: Dr. Luke
3. WHATAYA WANT FROM ME: Writers: Pink, Max Martin, Johan Shellbeck, Producers: Max Martin & Johan Shellback
4. STRUT: Writers: Adam Lambert, Kara DioGuardi, Greg Wells, Producer: Greg Wells
5. SOAKED: Writer: Matthew Bellamy (MUSE), Producer: Rob Cavallo
6. SURE FIRE WINNERS: Writers: David Gamson, Alexander James, Oliver Lieber, Producer: Rob Cavallo
7. A LOADED SMILE: Writer/Producer – Linda Perry
8, IF I HAD YOU: Writers- Max Martin, Johan Shellback, Savan Kotecha, Producers: Max Martin & Johan Shellback Borows
9. PICK U UP: Writers- Rivers Cuomo, Greg Wells, Adam Lambert. Producer – Greg Wells
10. FEVER: Writers - Lady Gaga, Jeff Bhasker, Producer- Jeff Bhasker
11. SLEEPWALKER: Writers - Ryan Tedder, Aimee Mayo, Chris Lindsey, Producer- Ryan Tedder
12. AFTERMATH: Writers- Adam Lambert, Alisan Porter, Ferras, Ely Rise. Producer- Howard Benson
13. BROKEN OPEN: Writers- Greg Wells, Adam Lambert, Evan Bogart. Producer- Greg Wells
14. TIME FOR MIRACLES: Writers – Alain Johannes, Natasha Shneider. Producer- Rob Cavallo


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<p>50 Cent</p>

50 Cent

Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

50 Cent drops album one week early after entire album leaks

'Before I Self Destruct' now out on Nov. 16


Interscope has moved up the release of 50 Cent’s long-awaited album one week after “Before I Self Destruct” leaked in its entirety last week.
Originally slated to come out Nov. 23, the set till now come out Nov. 16. It is his first studio album since 2007’s “Curtis.”
Calling in to the satellite radio show, “The Gomez Brothers,” the rapper said it’s all good and that he’s glad the full CD leaked, instead of piece by piece. "I feel good that it was leaked in its entirety, in sequence, so people can hear my vision," said 50 Cent.. "Instead of pieces, where I would be like, 'Damn, I spent my time sequencing.'"
And he also took a little time to dis Jay-Z, when the jocks asked him about Hova’s feud with Beanie Sigel.
"A lot of the times when I say, 'Jay is a cool punk,' don't get it f---ed up; he's a smart guy," he added. "You can't take away from him what he's done in the actual business and in the game. But since he lost to Nas, he hasn't competed. ...” 


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<p>Michael Jackson has the fifth biggest debut of the year with the 'This Is It' soundtrack.</p>

Michael Jackson has the fifth biggest debut of the year with the 'This Is It' soundtrack.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Michael Jackson's 'This is It' tops Billboard 200 with some big numbers

Uh, oh. How far did former champ 'New Moon' fall?


The King of Pop still has it. “This is It,” the companion soundtrack of sorts to the concert film of the same name, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on Wednesday. The 2-CD set, which basically amounts to another greatest hits set with some previously unreleased material—sold 373,000 copies, making it the fifth-highest selling debut of the year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The movie has grossed more than $36 million in the U.S.
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<p>Mary J Blige at the Los Angeles premiere of &quot;Precious&quot;&nbsp;earlier this week.</p>

Mary J Blige at the Los Angeles premiere of "Precious" earlier this week.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Mary J. Blige to sing National Anthem at World Series Game

Bronx native performs at Game Six between the Yankees and the Phillies


Mary J. Blige, whose new album, “Hip Hop Soul,” comes out Nov. 24 will sing the National Anthem at tonight’s sixth game of the World Series.

The battle between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies takes place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where Blige grew up. One guess for whom she’s rooting.

The game will be broadcast beginning at 7:30 PM EST/ 4:30 PM PST on FOX.
Blige fans can also catch her in a cameo in "Precious" which opens in limited release on Friday.


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