Listen: Beyonce and Lady GaGa burn up the wires on 'Video Phone' and 'Telephone'

Listen: Beyonce and Lady GaGa burn up the wires on 'Video Phone' and 'Telephone'

Which song rings off the hook, which is a wrong number?


Are there two hotter artists right now than Beyonce and Lady GaGa? The two have joined forces on “Video Phone,” a new track on the forthcoming “I Am…Sasha Fierce” deluxe edition and for “Telephone” on LG’s “The Fame Monster.”
“Video Phone” (Remix)  opens with haunting guitar strains on a gunslinger walking through a ghost town in a spaghetti western.  That’s the most interesting part of the whole song.  “Video Phone” is more a collection of insinuating beats and snippets than any hint of a real song with a chorus and verse.
“What, you want me naked? If you like me in this position you can tape it on your video phone,” Beyonce (or should we say Sasha) comes on to the listener. The tune meanders on for five minutes—there are some interesting horn blasts, but it never gains and kind of momentum. If it’s possible to be sexy and sterile at the same time, “Video Phone” achieves it.
The second part of the two-fer is the far superior “Telephone.” It’s a mid-paced dance number about finally hanging up so you can hit the dance floor. The melody recalls “Poker Face” and, call us crazy, Ciara’s “Goodies.” (Plus, of course, any number of Madonna-dance oriented numbers).
Beyonce doesn’t have a lot to do here other provide a fun interlude about leaving her phone at home. “I should have left my phone at home because this is such a disaster,” she sings with great attitude.   
Of the pair, “Telephone” is the clear winner. Expect plenty of remixes. It’s infectious and fun, everything that “Video Phone” is not. Plus, it’s the best thing Rodney Jerkins has produced in ages.
We would have liked more interplay between the two pop divas on both songs, but these were interesting first go-rounds.
A video for “Video Phone” was supposed to come out Nov. 5, but we’re still waiting and we can’t find any further info on it, so we’re thinking that idea may have been disconnected.


Read Full Post
<p>Andrea Bocelli's &quot;My Christmas&quot;</p>

Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas"

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas on next week's album chart

Who's the surprising chart topper?


It may still be  two weeks before Thanksgiving but Christmas reigns supreme on next week’s chart. It looks like Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas” will be No. 1, in its second week in release, the holiday album rises to the top with sales of up to 175,000, according to Hits Daily Double.
Click here to check out what other holiday-themed albums are dropping/have dropped this season.

Unless there’s a last minute surge by New Jersey record buyers, the Italian classical crossover singer keeps Bon Jovi’s “The Circle” out of the pole position. That title is slated to shift around 150,000 copies. This week’s charttopper by Carrie Underwood drops to No. 3. Only two other new releases are poised to come into the top 10: Flyleaf’s “Momento Mori” and  Switchfoot’s “Hello Hurricane.” Otherwise, old standbys like Taylor Swift’s “Fearless,” which will get an even bigger bump following her CMA wins, hold court.

Expect some major changes on the chart week after next, however, as Nov. 17 is one of the biggest release dates of the year with new sets from Kris Allen, John Mayer, Leona Lewis, OneRepublic, Norah Jones, Paul McCartney and more.


Read Full Post
<p>Trey Anastasio of Phish</p>

Trey Anastasio of Phish

Phish to ring in the new year in Miami

Spend Dec. 28-31 with the band


Phish is ringing in the New Year over and over and over again. The jam band will play four nights at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, Dec. 28-31, including three sets on New Year’s Eve. This marks the first time since 2003 that the band has played on Dec. 31.
Fans can request tickets through until Nov. 15. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Nov. 21.

The concerts cap a phenomenal year for Phish, as the band reunited for its first tour in more tha five years. The sold out outing, which starts another leg Nov. 18, was one of the top tours of the year. Plus, more than 40,000 people attended Festival 8, the group’s three-day festival where it played eight shows. In addition, Phish covered the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street.”  Phish also released its first non-archival album on its label, JEMP Records. “Joy,” produced by Steve Lillywhile, came in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.


Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift dominated the proceedings at the 43rd Country Music Association Awards.</p>

Taylor Swift dominated the proceedings at the 43rd Country Music Association Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Live Blogging the CMA Awards

Taylor Swift steals Kenny Chesney's thunder in a historic night

7:50 p.m.: Ten minutes until the kick off of the 43rd Country Music Association Awards-- Nashville's equivalent of the Grammys. While Taylor Swift is up for a number of awards, we think she's safe from Kanye West's clutches in Music City. But is she safe from Kenny Chesney? The hottest contest of the night is the big one: entertainer of the year. Will Swift rob Chesney of his opportunity to break his tie with Garth Brooks and become the first artist to win five entertainer of the year trophies?

8 p.m.:  The show opens with Taylor Swift  talking to Nancy O'Dell in her often discussed comment about how she writes about boys who have done her wrong in her songs. Now she's singing "Forever & Always," which we believe is about Joe Jonas. Now she's tossing furniture and sliding down a pole in a fireman, not a stripper, way. It's meant to be high-energy and cutting edge, but it's a really weak song and she doesn't sound good. But the crowd, those polite southerners, seem to love it.

8:05 p.m.:  Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood return for their second stint as co-hosts. Underwood is sitting pretty: She has the No. 1 album in the land today. The pair are doing a spoof of "Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,"  as "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Kanye.. " We knew it was coming. We just hope he's not a running joke. By the way, Underwood just informed us that, at 19, Swift is the youngest artist ever nominated for entertainer of the year. The theme of using classic songs to parody current country  events continues: now Paisley and Underwood are singing "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" about Brooks and Dunn splitting up. They sing that everyone's sad, but Sugarland. Many a truth is said in jest.  It's actually a very cute and funny much better the VMAs and many other shows.

Read Full Post
<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert speaks: Our initial impressions from our interview

His thoughts on the eve of 'For Your Entertainment'

Seldom have we talked to an artist at this early a stage in his career who is as surefooted as Adam Lambert. We interviewed him today for We’ll link to that interview when it goes live—and add more content to it—but our initial impression was this is an artist whose whole life had been leading to this moment. And he knows it.

He’s sure to have some meltdown moments along the way, when the sleep deprivation and jet lag kick in, but he is smart enough to know that this is what he’s been working for. You don’t bitch about the long hours when they are all in service of selling Brand Lambert.
Lambert is both confident and humbled by his major label debut, “For Your Entertainment,” out Nov. 23. He knows there are a lot of expectations riding on him, and he hopes he can live up to them. He feels he’s made the record that he wanted to make—given some tight time constraints. I asked if he was one of those artists that we’d hear disavow the album a year from now and he assured me that would not be the case. One of his few regrets is that he ultimately did not, as had been reported early on, get to work with producer RedOne on “For Your Entertainment.”
There are some artists who wear their fame well. And our premature guess is that Lambert will be one of them. A journalist friend of ours told us about meeting Lambert backstage during the “American Idol” tour stop in Washington, D.C. As gracious and kind as he was to her and her daughters, he was even more so in the generous amount of time he spent with a sick child who had been brought backstage to meet him. I asked him about that night and he said that performing in “Wicked” had taught him a lot about dealing with people and how  the night a particular fan sees you is the only night that matters to him or her. The fact that you’re done the same thing hundreds of nights before does not matter at all.It's about being in the moment.
We hadn’t loved the two songs we’d heard from Lambert so far: “ Time for Miracles” from “2012” and first single “For Your Entertainment,” but we’ve now gotten to hear the album and it holds together well. He can really sing, as anyone who has watched him on “Idol” knows, and his fans from that show aren’t going to be disappointed by the sides of himself on display on “FYE.” To his credit, he seems very serious about staying true to himself. He knows he may not go over well in some red states, but it’s much more important to him that he can sleep at night with the choices he’s made.
More in coming days as the album’s release gets closer. Plus what he really thinks about his kitschy album cover, Lady GaGa and his “Idol” colleagues.


Read Full Post
<p>Lady GaGa in &quot;Bad Romance&quot;</p>

Lady GaGa in "Bad Romance"

Watch: Lady GaGa turns 'Bad Romance' into a great music video

Try to count the number of mindbending get-ups in this clip


Lady GaGa is at it again. She’s taken a paper-thin slice of a song—in this case “Bad Romance”—and turned it into a fascinating video that peels back layers never evident in the tune.
The superstar-in-training delivers her  trippiest video yet (although “Paparazzi” was pretty mindblowing in parts). This one recalls everything from “Clockwork Orange” to “Sunset Blvd” to “Austin Powers” to  “Dr. No” to things we haven’t even figured out yet.
The basic plot is the Lady GaGa is a robot taken over by Russian supermodels (or so we assume they’re Russian from the vodka), who force her to guzzle vodka and become the plaything of some creepy Russian mobster with wacky metal covering his face like some demented cross between the Phantom of the Opera and a James Bond villain. There’s lots of dancing and costume changes and a wacky little last few seconds that make you laugh and turn your head.
There is one fashion outfit about 3:30 in that is so forward, crazy looking that we can’t even begin to describe it in all its glittering glory.  While she’s always sporting her platinum hair in the clip, it’s styled in so many different ways and she changes eye color (check out the doll contacts) and costumes as to often render herself unrecognizable. We don’t know where Lady GaGa is going from here, but we hope she continues to work with director Francis Lawrence (“I am Legend”) because they seem to understand each other.  It’s a fast-paced, extraordinarily compelling clip from the white plastic dancers emerging from pods to the last demented frame.
“Bad Romance” is on “The Fame Monster,” the enhanced version of the “The Fame,” which comes out Nov. 23.

Read Full Post
<p>The Beatles</p>

The Beatles

An Insider's Look: What the changes in the Billboard album chart mean to you

Michael Jackson and the Beatles lose out, but you win


It’s too late for the Beatles and Michael Jackson, but the next time a superstar artist—living or dead—reissues catalog, look for it to be included in the Billboard 200, the album chart of record.
As you know, this summer, when Michael Jackson died, threw the chart world into some kind of cosmic chaos. Many of his past releases, as well as those from the Jackson 5, went soaring back up in sales—as often happens following a death. For many weeks, Jackson’s “Number 1s,” a greatest hits set, was the nation’s top seller, according to Nielsen SoundScan, but because the Billboard 200 only charts sales of current albums, not catalog, the title never showed back up on the Billboard 200. Competing charts, such as the one compiled by Hits Daily Double, and even Billboard’s own comprehensive chart,  included the catalog titles and, therefore, provided a clearer picture of what was actually selling.  Then when the Beatles albums were reissued in September, they, too, were excluded from the Billboard 200.
Billboard and the chart’s data collecting arm--Nielsen SoundScan --will now include catalog titles on the big chart, they announced yesterday. That’s a great and smart move.  While I was not in the charts department, my time at Billboard taught me a few things about the charts. Changes are made slowly and deliberately with good reason: while Billboard’s charts aren’t the only ones out there, they do still count as the chart of record and, therefore, much deliberation accompanies any kind of change.  The Billboard 200 and the singles charts, the Hot 100, are the ones every artist dreams of topping.  Aware of the gravity and importance of those charts, the  chart managers, working in conjunction with Nielsen SoundScan, always have an open ear and are willing to move—even if it seems to an outside world like it is at a glacial pace.
For example, a few years ago when Garth Brooks released a limited edition set only through Wal-Mart (the first superstar to do such an exclusive deal), even though the collection sold enough to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, it was nowhere to be seen because the chart gurus at the time did not think it was fair to include titles that weren’t available to all retailers. As the winds shifted and more and more artists started releasing sets solely through one retailers or another, the chart adjusted. By the time the Eagles put out “Long Road to Eden”  in 2007, again, exclusively through Wal-Mart, it was included in the Billboard 200.
Labels have a voice—although not an ultimate decision—in the chart process and labels did not want catalog titles on the Billboard 200 for quite some time. How does it look (and we saw that this summer) if a 25-year old title is outselling the hottest title by a current artist? It looks pretty bad and makes the current state of affairs look even worse than it already is, doesn’t it? It makes it look like the labels can’t compete with their own past. Guess what… they can’t some weeks.
So the change has come. It starts with the issue dated Dec. 5, which means (and this is very confusing even when you’re working inside the magazine, it will affect the chart week that starts Nov. 16.). You may ask why not wait until the beginning of the year? That’s because even thought the SoundScan charts run year-round, the year-end issue of Billboard is based on the charts taken from Dec. 1-Nov. 30, so this is the right time to make the change.
What it means for you, chart followers, is that the Billboard 200 will now be representative of how the sales picture looks in total—not just a segment of it—and will be an accurate reflection of what is moving the needle in any given week.  Good call, Billboard.


Read Full Post


UPDATE: Aerosmith looking for new lead singer

Is Aerosmith together or not? Even the members don't know


We figure it’s as official an announcement as we’re going to get from Aerosmith. As rumors swirl about Steven Tyler’s departure from the band on the eve of its 40th anniversary, the boys from Boston have posted a Boston Herald story on their website about their future.

The story confirms the Tyler and the rest of the band are on the outs ever since Tyler fell off the stage at a Sturgis, S.D. show several months ago. The rest of the group’s tour was cancelled due to Tyler’s injuries and the only gigs they’ve played were a big-bucks gig in Abu Dhabi and  two dates in Hawaii that were part of a class action suit settlement against the band.
Bassist Tom Hamilton acknowledges that the drama has hit Def Con 1, but he still hopes that they can, as they always have before, continue on as a band despite Tyler’s pronouncement that he intends to pursue solo projects.
Hamilton, who seems as baffled as the rest of us about why Tyler is avoiding the other band members, is circumspect about the group’s future, but does shoot down one prevailing rumor: that Aerosmith may recruit a new vocalist to carry on without Tyler. He told the Herald that the group’s next album—which has been five years in the making, would “pretty much have to be” with Tyler at the microphone.
We wouldn’t be on any Aerosmith break becoming permanent. My late Billboard editor, Timothy White, a Boston boy himself, said it best about Aerosmith when he proclaimed that they are locked in a dance they can’t get out of. Same as it ever was. I've spent some time with Aerosmith and the simple fact is they won't break up for good. They've tried and they just can't stay away from each other for too long. The lure of the stage calls them back. Similarly to how Mick Jagger's solo records are never as big as the Rolling Stone's record or how the Eagles came together after years of hating each other, Aerosmith will play together-- with Tyler-- on stage again. They can't help it.  They may never talk to each other off stage again, but they will play together again... at some point.
UPDATE: Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry took to his Twitter page to try to clear up some of the rumors, and somewhat further muddied the waters:  in very quick succession Monday night, Perry tweeted (we're running these as he wrote them, mistakes and all) :

*Aerosmith is definetly  NOT breaking up. One of the members is doing his own thing and said so in the press. That's all I know.

*Inthe meantime aerosmith is positivly looking for a new singer to work with. You just can't take 40 years of expiriance and throwitinthebin!

*Billies spelling much better than mine. Band is playing hotter than ever and our songs need to be played live! Don't dispair;

*Aerosmith not splitting up. Promise that's the last you'll hear from me on the subject till we gear up again.


So basically, in the span of a few minutes, we learned that the band is not breaking up, but that a Steven Tyler-less Aerosmith will go forward. Hey, i guess if Journey can do it, so can Aerosmith, but I don't foresee similarly positive results. We also learn that Perry really can't spell, but he professes that his wife, Billie, can. And Perry  says he's done discussing this topic until there's something to announce.



Read Full Post
<p>Britney Spears isn't smiling over criticism of her lip-syncing in concert very well.</p>

Britney Spears isn't smiling over criticism of her lip-syncing in concert very well.

Credit: AP Photo

Britney Spear's Down Under lip-syncing causes a brouhaha

Should there be a law requiring disclosure?


We’re crying crocodile tears for Britney Spears right now. Apparently, Brit Brit is upset about a story in the Australia press that claimed fans walked out of her Perth show on Friday, due, in part, to her lip-syncing, according to a story in Reuters. There seems to be some debate over how many, if any, disgruntled audience members stormed out and if the number was exaggerated by a reporter.
I’m of two minds about her lip-syncing. At this point, anyone who’s buying tickets to Spears’ show, which has been on the road for months, and is shocked, SHOCKED I say, that she is lip-syncing, has been living under a rock. So, I’m not buying the complaints.
But what remains is the greater question of is it okay for an artist to lip-sync virtually her entire show, as Spears does, and not disclose that fact in advance.  In the U.S., apparently, the answer is yes. In the land down under, maybe not. According to, there are now three Australian politicians calling for artists to disclose they are lip-syncing on their concert tickets.
By the time the patron is holding the ticket in their hot little hands, hasn’t that ship already sailed? If someone is serious about letting ticket buyers know in advance that the performer they are plunking down their money to see is lip-syncing, then doesn’t it make much more sense to declare that such information must run in all ads for the show and on the ticket agency’s site? Therefore, the consumer can decide if she wants to still attend the show before the purchase. It’s too late after they’ve bought the ticket to then reveal that information.
Where do you draw the line? If an artist’s vocals are largely live but she is singing to enhanced tapes, does that need to be disclosed? Does the idea only apply to the lead singer? What if there are other elements, such as music tracks, etc. Do they need to be disclosed beforehand?
The bigger question is does the public care? Fans have flocked to Spears’ website to voice their support for her (presumably they can still express themselves live, even if Britney can’t). Any fan of true rock is likely to feel that what Spears is doing is a sham. The beauty of seeing a live show is that you are watching the performer in a unique moment in time—warts and all.  A real musician/artist should be able to sing live. But for non-rock fans, maybe it’s just what we’ve come to expect: we’re going to see a spectacle--a show-- and it’s to be judged in its entirety-- not on the vocals only, but the dancing, the costumes, the effects—the entire package.  Plus, why the hue and cry is the artist is lip-syncing to his or her own vocals—canned as they may be?
Passing a law requiring tickets to state an artist is lip-syncing would change absolutely nothing. If anything, it might free up artists to stop the charade of pretending to sing to their songs as they gyrate around like strippers. Isn’t that the real hypocrisy: That Spears is even pretending to sing along so when anyone not in the first three rows watches the show on the big screens, Spears has to look like she’s singing? Let’s free her up to concentrate on her modest dancing skills since she can’t control those from the sound board.
Spears’ next show in Australia is Wednesday in Melbourne. We’ll continue to watch and see if the controversy grows or if the sound and fury—like Spears’ live voice in concert—goes silent.
Should artists be forced to disclose whether they lip sync in concert?  Share your thoughts below.


Read Full Post
<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.


Read Full Post