<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

Listen: Does Adam Lambert's new single entertain you?

Title track to 'For Your Entertainment' sounds very familiar


Really Adam. This is the best you’ve got for us? “For Your Entertainment,” the first single and title track from Lambert’s debut album shows the “American Idol” runner-up in good vocal form but the song is so generic, we could see  both Britney and Pink passing on it before it fell into Lambert’s hands.

Hear it here.

In fact, you can literally sing Spears’ “Womanizer” to the “For Your Entertainment” melody.(It was produced by Spears' longtime producer Dr. Luke and written by Claude Kelly).

The song is undoubtedly meant to propel Lambert’s black Elvis hairdo, leather jacket, faux bad boy image, but it’s about as dangerous as a set of fake Halloween vampire fangs. There is absolutely nothing to sink your teeth into here.

Tough-boy c’mons like “I’m gonna hurt you real good baby” or  “Do you know what you got into/ can you handle what I’m about to do/’cos it’s about to get rough for you/I’m there for your entertainment” are surrounded by standard, toe-tapping dance beats, sanitized for radio.

Lambert showed much more personality during his “AI” stint. Even the treacly “Time for Miracles” from “2012” is much more interesting than this. We don’t want to believe it’s possible yet that Lambert’s compelling visual style is so much of the package that audio alone isn’t enough to hold our attention.
What do you think?

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<p>Kanye West is a potential album of the year contender for the 2010 Grammy&nbsp;Awards.</p>

Kanye West is a potential album of the year contender for the 2010 Grammy Awards.

Grammy album of the year contenders: Beyonce, Paisley, Kanye and more

Who's a sure bet? Who's a dark horse? Find out as Grammy season is underway

 

Making any kind of Grammy prediction means getting in the heads of the 10,000 or so Grammy voters. In no category is that more difficult than for album of the year since all voters can cast their ballots. Also, a voter never ages out, so that means a member who wonders why he can’t find parts for his beloved 8-track player has just as much say as a producer who helmed four projects this year.
 
While Grammy voters have gotten considerably hipper over the years, it’s probably still a bit too much to hope  that the likes of Grizzly Bear’s “Veckatimest” would get a nod, but it’s completely realistic to think that the Decemberists’ “The Hazards of Love” might. And no, you crazy "Twilight" fans, the soundtrack will not be the first to win album of the year since "Brother, Where Art Thou" in 2002.
 
There are few sure things this year: we’d predict that Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” and Beyonce’s “I Am…Sasha Fierce” are both very likely finalists. Otherwise, it’s anybody’s guess.  There’s no apparent heir to last year’s winner, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant’s “Raising Sand” or even the more populist nominee, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”
 
The nominees for album of the year and several other categories will be announced during a prime time special on CBS Dec. 2. The Grammys will air Jan. 31, 2010, a few weeks earlier than usual in order not to collide with the Winter Olympics. What that means is that NARAS, the Grammys organizing body, shaved a month off the eligibility period. Only albums released between Oct. 1, 2008-Aug. 31, 2009 are eligible.
 
 
Let the debate begin. Whom do you think we left off?
 
Look for additional breakdowns in the weeks to come before the nominees are announced.

 

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<p>Michael Bearden</p>

Michael Bearden

Watch: 'I was the last one to see Michael Jackson the night he died'

Watch Jackson's musical director, Michael Bearden, talk about his last evening with Jackson

 

So what was it really like working with Michael Jackson? What did Jackson say to him the night before he died?

Michael Bearden, the musical director for Jackson’s “This is It” tour, tells us in the clip below. As we noted in our review, Bearden is the only crew member who has regular conversations with Jackson instead of merely genuflecting every time he moon walks by.

Bearden, who is the musical director for George Lopez’s new talk show, “Lopez Tonight,” which launches Nov. 9, had worked with Jackson for the first time nearly 10 years ago.  But MJ is far from the other superstar collaboration for Bearden, who has also worked with Madonna, Whitney Houston, Liza Minelli, Ricky Martin, D’Angelo and many others.

Bearden talks about auditioning for Jackson, 20-hour days planning the spectacular,  emotionally reveals his last conversation with Jackson and the “tissue moments” putting together the film.

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<p>Owl City</p>

Owl City

Credit: Pamela Littky

In Praise of Owl City's 'Fireflies'

Songwriter's twee single lights up the charts

 

I may want to drive off the road when I hear Owl City’s way-too-precious “Fireflies,” but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. I do.

The song hits No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart this week, making it one of the  most played tunes in the land (the chart also includes singles sales, which were 200,000 this week for “Fireflies.”  I didn’t need a chart number to tell me that “Fireflies” is at No. 1 since I can’t spin the radio dial without hearing it on several different stations of varying formats at the same time…no matter what city I’m in.

The cloying song may be so diabetic-inducing, sugary sweet that it makes the Postal Service's music seem like heavy metal in comparison,  but I give a little cheer every time I see the chart numbers because “Fireflies” has done something no song by a new artist has done in recent memory: Not only has the song spurred digital single sales, it has made fans go buy the album.  For the last nine weeks, as the “Fireflies” mini-phenomenon has grown ever stronger,  “Ocean Eyes” has continued to climb the Billboard 200. This week, for the first time, it broke into the Top 10, landing at No. 8.  Take that, iTunes.

Since digital downloading took hold, we’ve seen massive radio hit after radio hit come and go and the artist—this is particularly true of rap and R&B acts—will sell one or two million digital downloads, but the CD will barely move the needle. As successful as Lady GaGa’s “The Fame” has been (it has SoundScanned 1.5 million copies), four No. 1s would have meant four or five million in CD sales only a few years ago.

First off, a little bit about Owl City: the band, like Five for Fighting, is really just one person. Owl City is 23-year old Adam Young, who says he made music in his basement during his bouts of insomnia, signed with Universal Music Group’s Universal Republic imprint after releasing two albums on his own. “Fireflies” features guest vocals by Reliant K’s Matt Thiessen.

“Strawberry Avalance,” the first single from “Ocean Eyes,” didn’t impact. We’ll see how next single, “Vanilla Twilight” fares.

It could be that “Fireflies” has such a life on its own, that it will never get out of the way for another single to take hold.

Even so, fans have bought into the whole Owl City gestalt and mystique and, therefore, are willing to plunk down money to buy the entire CD instead of only downloading the song. They’re investing in the artist, even though there's no tabloid scandal or romance attached to him, and that’s pretty rare these days and very heartening to see.

Owl City is  also collecting some celebrity fans: Taylor Swift supposedly went to see Owl City at a club show in New York before the single was really taking off. She tweeted about how much she loved him and, according to a source, his album sales rose 22% that week--- attributable almost totally to Swift’s recommendation. Nice to have friends in high places.

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<p>Sarah McLachlan</p>

Sarah McLachlan

Credit: AP Photo

Is Lilith Fair coming to a stage near you?

Returning female fest announces initial slate of North American dates


Six months after Lilith Fair co-founder Terry McBride tweeted that the all-female festival will return after a decade-long hiatus, we still haven’t got an inkling about the line-up or the dates, but we do have cities that the tour will visit, so that’s a start.  Initial stops in North America include Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Toronto, San Francisco, and New York… in other words, the tour will be coming to all the major markets.


The new www.lilithfair.com site features footage of Sarah McLachlan singing “Angel” from the 1998 edition, so we don’t know if that’s a hint that she’ll be joining the new iteration or just an homage the fest’s charter member.

 
 

 

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<p>Michael Jackson is still a 'Smooth Criminal' in &quot;This Is It.&quot;</p>

Michael Jackson is still a 'Smooth Criminal' in "This Is It."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: 'This Is It' brings Michael Jackson back to life

Does concert film honor Jackson's legacy?

As “This Is It” opens, words scroll up the screen in  “Star Wars” fashion. It’s oddly fitting since in the last two decades, it often seemed as if the increasingly eccentric Michael Jackson came from a galaxy far far away.

The narrative informs the viewer that the following Staples Center rehearsal footage for Jackson’s “This is It” series of 50 London concerts was recorded for Jackson’s private library. As the curtain peels back, we return to a day in April when anonymous dancers, many of whom have traveled the globe to audition for Jackson, wax hyperbolic about what this opportunity means to them. Most of them can’t help but choke back a tear—some openly weep—as they tremulously look in the camera and praise the guiding light of their life, St. Michael.

Before the film devolves further into some heavy-handed, treacly tribute to the King of Pop, the infectious beat of “Wanna Be Starting Something” begins and there is Jackson himself, up on stage, working out a dance routine. Other than a brief cutaway to the March press conference when Jackson announced the “This is It” shows at 02 Arena (and now ominously says, “This is the final curtain call”), the movie is all about the music and the man behind it. There’s no footage even mentioning the 50 sold out shows or of AEG CEO Randy Phillips, omnipresent before Jackson’s death, droning on about how the tour came together.
 
“This is It’s” goals are transparent: to preserve, if not enhance, the musical legacy of Michael Jackson, to extend Jackson’s mythology by focusing solely on the talent and showing him only in the most positive of lights, and to dispel any remaining rumors that he could not have withstood the rigors of mounting the comeback shows.

The movie, by and large, succeeds. From the start, the Jackson we see has an enviable command of the proceedings. There is none of the doubt, giggling or high-pitched, little-boy voice that we heard in so many interviews. This was a man 100% in his element. Toward the end of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” he instructs the band how a passage should go.  As one of the musicians says “it’s getting there, “Jackson says either, “We’ll get it” or “Well, get it.” Either way, the message is exactly the same and it is one that is repeated through the movie. Whether true or not, “This is It” makes it seems as if Jackson had his gloved hand in every single decision about the show. No wonder he was exhausted.

In fact, the movie would have been better served if Jackson had not seemed so, well, perfect. Was there not a moment, a second, of the 100 hours of footage when he stumbled or wasn’t sure of the words?  There are only two times when his foibles show: in the first, as he runs through a delectably exuberant Jackson 5 medley (how his brothers must have yearned to have been part of that segment, if they even knew about it), he is frustrated by his in-ear monitors because he can’t hear through them. Later, he admits he goofed when he asks the band to go into a non-existent verse on “Black or White.” That’s it. This is not Jackson, warts and all.  The film is so loving, it's surprising there isn't a corona surrounding Jackson's head.

More than a dozen songs are showcased in various forms throughout the 111-minute film. Some tunes are montages of rehearsal footage—with Jackson almost always dressed in a jacket—while others, such as “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” are completely one take. There are a few tunes in which Jackson barely appears at all, such as “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” where we see the dancers given a tutorial in the right and wrong way to execute a crotch grab. It feels padded in spots and could have used a good 15-minute trim. 

Jackson’s voice is strong—more in some places than others—but it is the dancing that is as thrilling as it is heartbreaking. Jackson’s caliber of talent only comes along once in a lifetime and it is made abundantly clear when the bells and whistles are dispatched and the focus is solely on Jackson.
 
For all the spectacle that Jackson hoped to create through explosive pyro and unbelievably elaborate set pieces (the reinvention of "Thriller" is breathtaking), the magic comes in those small moments when he is the sole focus.  During a rehearsal for “Smooth Criminal,” in which Jackson is placed in the middle of classic black and white, film noir movies from the ‘40s, such as “Gilda” and “The Big Sleep,”  there comes a segment when Jackson is on stage surrounded by 10 or so backup dancers. They are all doing the same pelvic thrust as Jackson, but his is precise and controlled and more graceful than they can ever hope to achieve. As talented as the supporting dancers are, they can imitate him, but they cannot come remotely close to replicating him.

Toward the end of the film, Jackson runs through “Billie Jean” with no other dancers on stage. He seems tired at first, but as the song continues, the music possesses Jackson as he moves effortlessly, seemingly making up the dance steps as he goes along. He is mesmerized and mesmerizing. It’s one of the many times in “This is It” when he is spellbinding.

The only serious misstep is the amount of time—and it seems like forever—devoted to “Earth Song,” a well-intentioned tune about the environment that is perhaps the worst song Jackson ever wrote.  It is performed in its soporific entirely, embellished by footage of a child who falls asleep in a thriving, gorgeous rain forest, only to wake up  to destruction. Jackson further brings his point home by having a bulldozer on stage... someone should have used it to bulldoze that segment.

Another bad judgment call, although less severe, is when the talking head interviews return, this time with the musicians. Their comments aren’t as ham-fisted as the dancer interviews that open the film, but they serve no purpose whatsoever since each musician unsurprisingly heaps praise on Jackson, making the movie even more of a hagiography than it already is. Much more interesting are Jackson’s interactions with musical director Michael Bearden, who seems the only person willing to talk back to Jackson in any meaningful way. At one point, as Jackson rides Bearden about making “The Way You Make Me Feel” “simmer” and says they’ll work on the intro at sound check, Bearden feistily reminds Jackson this is why his presence is so valuable at sound check.  

Conversely, director Kenny Ortega comes across not only as a toadie, but as a complete caricature, sucking up to Jackson at every turn. When Jackson tests out the cherry picker that carries him over the audience in “Beat It,” Ortega pleads with Jackson to hold on. Then as Jackson hovers over him, Ortega tells him he loves him. The only thing missing is “mean it, babe.”

To Ortega’s everlasting credit, however, the cast and crew’s reaction to news of Jackson’s passing is not exploited and any temptation to turn maudlin is thwarted.  Instead, as the best funerals are, “This is It” serves as a complete, if perhaps unrealistically glowing, celebration of Jackson’s life—the one he would want us to remember—instead of a painful reminder of his death.

[Editor's note: A contrary opinion from HitFix's Film Editor, Drew McWeeny.]

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<p>Norah Jones</p>

Norah Jones

Watch: Norah Jones takes to the high seas 'Chasing Pirates'

New clip helmed by 'Pirates of the Caribbean' EFX guy


Aye, matey! Norah Jones returns ready to shiver your timbers with the video for “Chasing Pirates,” the first single from her new album, “The Fall.”

Jones, living in an apartment far below her means (does she not know how many records she’s sold?) opens her dilapidated door to see another message in a bottle. This one contains a map of New York—or more likely New Amsterdam in pirate days. Before we know it, she’s asleep and is dreaming about sailing the high seas via the streets of Manhattan as she hoists the sales and navigates her apartment building past Central Park.

The plot (the only other person we see is someone for a few seconds only in a ship in a bottle) is as slight as the song, but Jones looks so adorable (she’s sporting a feisty, short new ‘do that really suits her) and seems to be having so much fun, that it seems downright petty to complain about the lack of a storyline.

Rich Lee, who worked on the special effects for the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, directed “Chasing Pirates,” and gives the clip its dreamy, atmospheric feel.Where's Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow when you need him?


 

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<p>Katy Perry and 3oh!3</p>

Katy Perry and 3oh!3

Watch: 3Oh!3 play 'Starstrukk' around Katy Perry in new video

Denver duo finds bliss in the fountain of love

 

Those fun-loving boys in 3Oh!3 have found a new playmate in Katy Perry for  their video for “Starstrukk,” an infectious ditty in the playful vein of the duo’s big hit “Don’t Trust Me.”

Like that platinum-certified single, “Starstrukk” features spoken-word verses and catchy sing-along choruses.

Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte sing about certain female charms (two in particular) that drive them wild, as women, with said assets bouncing, run towards them in a frenzy. It would seem the lasses have fallen under an innocent spell cast when a girl tossed a coin in a fountain. Lots and lots of silicone-enhanced jiggling ensues as the boys can’t believe their luck.

Then Perry baths in the fountain, driving the boys crazy, just as they have been making the good girls go bad. And small wonder… Perry looks sizzling hot splashing around in a leather dress. It’s not easy to look sexy and adorable at the same time, but Perry pulls it off.

Watch until the end to see if Foreman and Motte are the luckiest men in the world or was it all  just a dream.

Although the video contains no movie footage, it is in the trailer “When in Rome,” featuring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. It is also on the soundtrack for the forthcoming comedy.

 

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<p>Only a few months ago, Amy Winehouse performed with The Specials at the V Festival in England.</p>

Only a few months ago, Amy Winehouse performed with The Specials at the V Festival in England.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Amy Winehouse brings the bad to the Q Awards

Singer's behavior raises eyebrows as she lowers her top

 

Welcome back, Amy.   With Britney having cleaned up her act, it’s been so boring without you. Only a few weeks after it seemed that Amy Winehouse was back on track, her appearance at Monday night’s Q Awards in London had onlookers wondering if she needed to return to “rehab.”

First,  Winehouse missed her appearance as a presenter to most inspirational artist winners The Specials.  Following a delay while organizers looked for Winehouse, her co-presenter, reggae singer Don Letts, handed out the award solo. Winehouse then burst on stage interrupting the Specials during their acceptance speech, according to U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail.
 
But she wasn’t done yet. As Robert Plant accepted the outstanding contribution to music award, Winehouse heckled him from the audience. She stopped the stunned legend in his tracks, according to the Daily Mail.
 
Furthermore, in an effort to show off her new, enhanced chest, Winehouse wore an outfit so revealing that most newspapers were forced to censor the photos.
 
As we reported three weeks ago, Winehouse has turned in demos to a potential follow-up to 2007’s  Grammy-winning  “Back in Black,” and things were looking good for a 2010 release.  Here’s hoping last night was just a momentary relapse and not a return to form.

 

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Michael Jackson's 'This is It,' Jack Johnson lead this week's hot releases

Michael Jackson's 'This is It,' Jack Johnson lead this week's hot releases

Also, new stuff from Sting, Wolfmother, Rod Stewart and even -- gulp -- Creed

 

There’s a passel of great stuff coming out this week, split between the traditional Tuesday release date and Monday, as labels try to squeeze in an extra day of SoundScan sales into the chart week , but the undisputed leader is the two-CD set, “This is It,” the audio companion to the Michael Jackson concert film that opens in theaters Oct. 28. Here’s a look at the top titles streeting this week.
 
Devendra Banhart, “What Will We Be” (Reprise): On his first major label release, the long-haired leader of the “freak folk” movement  lets his freak flag fly with his own brand of often sunny and sweet, if quirky, tunes.  
 
Creed, “Full Circle” (Wind-Up): Yes, the Scott-Stapp-fronted rockers are back after a five-year break up. The question is has anyone missed them? If the reception to the first single is any indication, their core fans are waiting. “Overcome” reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
 
Jack Johnson, “En Concert” (Brushfire/Universal): Surfer dude-turned- multi-platinum soft rock singer returns with his CD/DVD set that chronicles his 2008 European tour in a documentary directed by Johnson’s manager, Emmett Malloy. The CD also includes material from some U.S. dates, including Johnson’s Bonnaroo duet with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder on “Constellations.”
 
Michael Jackson, “This is It” (Sony): You might not have heard about it because there hasn’t really been any press, but there’s a little concert film opening Oct. 28 called “This is It.” This companion 2-CD set contains many of Jackson’s greatest hits captured at rehearsals, as well as new song, the title track, and demos of such now-Jackson classics as “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.” We have a hunch this is going to come in at No. 1.
 
Brian McKnight, “Evolution of a Man” (E1 Music): Smooth and sexy R&B crooner continues to expand his empire as a radio DJ and now TV talk-show host, but he hasn’t abandoned singing. On his latest, he’s joined by Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott.
 
Orianthi, “Believe” (Geffen): Blond-tressed, Aussie guitar slinger has been getting plenty of press as Michael Jackson’s lead guitarist on “This is It,” but she’s been around for long before that, playing with the likes of Carlos Santana, Prince and Carrie Underwood. Might some consider it a bit tacky for her to exploit his Jackson’s death by releasing her major label debut the day before “This is It” comes out? Only if they aren’t in the music industry. 
 
Rod Stewart, “Soulbook” (J): For better or worse, no one cares about Stewart originals any more, so for the last decade, he’s made his coin by covering classic catalogs including the Great American Songbook. Now, he’s turning to vintage soul tunes from the ‘60s and ‘70s, which a much more suited to his raspy voice and his mindset, as these are songs he’s long raved about loving. He’s joined by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson.
 
Sting, “If on a Winter’s Night….” (Deutsche Grammophon): The Police-man pays tribute to his favorite season in this collection of traditional carols and lullabies, plus two originals. Some of the material dates back to the 14th century. First his salute to the lute in 2006 and now this… what’s next? An album of Gregorian chants?
 
The Swell Season, “Strict Joy” (Anti-/Epitaph): Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova may not be a romantic couple anymore, but they still make beautiful music together on this, the follow-up to their Oscar-wining soundtrack for “Once.”  Here, they’re supported by members of Hansard’s band The Frames, as well as a raft of other supporting players.
 
Tegan and Sara, “Sainthood” (Vapor/Sire): Canadian twins called on former touring partner, Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, to produce their latest set, based around the concept of, you got it, sainthood. Somehow, they make it sound really fun, especially on driving, jangly first single, “Hell.” The siblings wrote tunes together for the first time and recorded with a full band live in the studio.
 
Wolfmother, “Cosmic Egg” (Modular/Interscope):  All that remains of the original Wolfmother trio is leader/songwriter Andrew Stockdale, but he has recruited three new band mates to round Wolfmother up to a quartet. Plus, they’ve brought in Slash to play on their heavy rock/psychedelic/jam mix for this set.

 

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