<p>Crew gathered for the new &quot;We Are the World&quot; remake</p>

Crew gathered for the new "We Are the World" remake

Credit: AP Photo

'We Are the World--25 for Haiti' premieres tonight during Olympics

The video, featuring vintage Michael Jackson footage, debuts during opening ceremonies

Amid all the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver tonight will come the debut of “We Are the World—25 for Haiti.” The Opening Ceremonies begin airing at 7:30 EST on NBC.

Among the artists who are featuring in the remake, recorded on Feb. 1, the day after the 52nd Annual Grammys, are Barbra Streisand, Lil Wayne (can you imagine a duet between Babs and Wayne?), Wyclef Jean, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Pink, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Jeff Bridges, Jason Mraz, India.Arie, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Carlos Santana, Jamie Foxx, Josh Groban, Jennifer Hudson, the Jonas Bros. and more stars than are in the galaxy.

But do you know who’s also there? Apparently, Michael Jackson, that’s who. Jackson co-wrote the original song with Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones. His original image and his singing portion is included in the new video, according to Richie in an interview he gave to Access Hollywood. His image appears side by side as sister Janet Jackson sings along. Jackson’s mother, Katherine, suggested they sing together, according to Jones.

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<p>Matt Scannell</p>

Matt Scannell

Vertical Horizon's Matt Scannell talks about hanging with his hero, playing with Richard Marx and writing with Daniel Powter

Scannell collaborates with 'Bad Day' singer for his next effort

Matt Scannell is best known as the lead singer and songwriter for Vertical Horizon, the modern pop band who gave us such hits as ”Everything You Want,” “Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)” and “I’m Still Here.” But as we discovered when we talked to him at ASCAP’s Music Café at the Sundance Film Festival, Scannell’s got a lot more going on.

He played two shows at the Café, a solo gig and one with his close friend and musical collaborator, Richard Marx. The two start a new tour together later this spring and their second album together, a live set recorded in St. Charles, Ill., comes out soon.

Scannell told us why it’s always a good day when he’s working with “Bad Day” singer Daniel Powter (whom Billboard named the biggest one-hit wonder of the 2000s) and how Vertical Horizon is somewhat responsible, in however small a way, for Scannell’s hero Neil Peart’s return to Rush.

Q: You and Richard Marx also plan to put out a third electric album together, following the forthcoming live set and the previous set, which highlighted some of your individual works. What’s going on with you two?

A: The bottom line is we really love hanging out together. He lives in Chicago and I live in L.A. We just thought we’d just get together and play a show so we could go out and have dinner or go see a movie, just hang out together, but it’s really taken off. People are really enjoying the shows, which is wonderful. He’s still doing his records and they’re very much his priority and I’m very much part of Vertical Horizon. This is something that’s a complete joy. All the stuff that can slow people down, all the logistics when you travel with a band [and] crew…this is totally easy and fun, every bit of it is fun.

Q: What have you learned about songwriting from him?

A: I’ve learned so much about melody from him. He’s such an effortless singer and I’m not, it’s something I have to work a lot harder at, and so when he comes up with a melody, they’re very often things that I wouldn’t think of. He’s such an incredibly proficient keyboard player that he comes up with changes that are not guitar player type changes. I feel like every time that we sit down; it's like a graduate school class in songwriting.

Q: Rush’s Neil Peart is on Vertical Horizon’s new album, “Burning the Days.” I read an article that said you helped him return to music after he lost his daughter and wife within a few months of each other in 1997. How so?

A: I read that too. I have to say that that article probably overstated that. I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination that I was the one to convince Neil Peart to get back into music and go back with the band Rush, but I do know that Neil has told me, and it’s a very moving thing for me, that “Everything You Want” was one of the songs he heard on the radio during a very difficult time in his life that allowed him to believe there was something in music that he could connect to and would inspire him to get back into playing music again.

Q: How did that make you feel?

A: Awesome is a word that gets overused, but that really was awesome. Rush was my favorite band growing up. It was epically huge for me to meet him and for us to become friends. We talk all the time and send emails back and forth and are always visiting each other. He’s a super guy. I love him so dearly.

Q: Speaking of tragedies, a few years ago, Gary Allan had a top 10 country hit with a cover of “Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)” after his wife committed suicide. Is someone covering your song the best compliment a songwriter can have?

A: Oh yeah, it was lovely, but under tragic circumstances. So every time I talk about Gary’s version, I have to kind of say I’m sorry he had to sing the song. I’m sorry he connected with it, but it was the right song for him at that moment and I’m honored by that.

Q: Do you have other covers of your songs that you’re partial too?

A: Sometimes I’ll go on to You Tube and listen and you hear these people who are just totally sitting in their bedroom playing the song and that’s pretty moving to me…someone over in Asia sitting down with their guitar playing one of my songs. I grew up in Worchester, Mass. And I picked up my guitar in my bedroom and I was playing Rush songs and J. Geils songs and Simon & Garfunkel and James Taylor and to think of somebody across the world doing something like that with my music is very humbling and I’m very grateful to that.

Q: Are you interested in working with other artists?

A: I’m doing that. I’m working with Daniel Powter right now on his new record and I’m producing an artist named Alissa Moreno, who wrote a Rascal Flatts song called “Every Day” with Jeff Steele. So yeah, I’m doing lots of work with other artists and I love it. Getting out and going on a tour bus for three or four months at a time is a difficult life and I could see, at some point, devoting more time to production and working with other artists.

Q: Tell me more about working with Daniel Powter.

A: Daniel has this incredible melodic sense. He’s a really great piano player who comes up with these really cool changes and then, sometimes, has a little bit of when he’s connecting with a lyric, he tends to be a little more scattered on it. He was just trying to find someone who could help him connect some dots. It’s not a really active role that I have to play with him because the sentiment is coming from him. I think that’s crucially important because if you’re going to go out on the road, I know this better than anybody, if you’re going to go out on the road for 200 days a year, you need to sing a song that comes from inside of you. I think we have five or six new songs that we’re putting together for his new record and we’ll see.

Q: Does the new record sound like “Bad Day?”

A: I think there are some songs that move away from “Bad Day,” not in a reactionary way, but he has a wide range of music that he loves so it’s not like he’s trying to run away from song. There are many different sides to his musical personality, but there are definitely some moments that resonate more like “Bad Day” did.


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<p>Black Eyed Peas</p>

Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas bring the show to you, in theaters

The Grammy-winning group's March 30 concert will be beamed into 500 movie theaters

The Black Eyes Peas are coming to a theater near you. The E.N.D. World Tour Live, which kicked off last week ago, will beam its March 30 show live from Los Angeles to nearly 500 movie theaters across the country.

The Blackberry-sponsored concert, broadcast from Staples Center, will be packaged with 30-minute behind-the-scenes footage and band interviews for theatrical viewers. Movie tickets are $15.

The E.N.D. World Tour is Fergie and friends' first tour since 2006 and comes on the heels of the group snagging three Grammys on Jan. 31. Here’s what critics are saying about the tour.


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<p>Rihanna in &quot;Rude Boy&quot;</p>

Rihanna in "Rude Boy"

Watch: Rihanna shakes her groove thing in 'Rude Boy' video

The fun is back after a series of dark clips

Fun Rihanna is back and she’s brought plenty of attitude with her. On the video for “Rude Boy,” the latest single from “Rated R,” Rihanna combines pop art, sass, fashion and lots and lots of enviable booty shaking.

The clip is a constant kaleidoscope of changing images and colors with no discernible plot other than that Rihanna’s about to get laid and you’re invited, if you think you’re man enough—and can follow a few simple orders.

The video is incredibly hot, but never veers into cheap exploitation. (If I looked 1/100th as good as Rihanna does in that gold jumpsuit, I’d wear it 24/7). Rihanna is in command of her sexuality in a way that few females are. It’s not about what you’re going to do to her; it is 100% about what she’s going to do to you. And you’ll thank her later.

While the music is completely different, the video’s precursor/ancestor is Madonna’s “Express Yourself” in terms of a woman owning her sexuality. As my colleague Katie Hasty pointed out, the dancing, attitude and quick cuts also recall more recent clips from M.I.A. and Santigold.

Watch  the video for the fashion, the booty or just try to identify each pop artist different segments are paying homage to, such as the long, black and white segment that’s taken straight from a Keith Haring painting.

After a couple of tough, tough videos for tunes like “Hard” and “Russian Roulette,” it’s nice to see a lighter Rihanna having some fun. Enjoy.  She certaintly is.

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John Mayer

John Mayer has had quite the day after the revelations in his new Playboy interview.

Credit: AP Photo

In defense of John Mayer: Our thoughts on his Playboy interview

We come to praise him, not to bury him

It’s becoming increasingly clear that John Mayer really should just let his fingers do the talking.

It seems like every time the guitarist opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it.

After giving Rolling Stone a recent interview where he explicitly praised masturbation and how it’s probably kept him from getting into trouble with women (all of which is fine, but perhaps is not information he needs to share with the world), he tweeted that he might not even want to hang out with himself anymore.

But that was just the warm-up act. In a new interview with Playboy, Mayer talks about his sex life with Jessica Simpson, his break-up with Jennifer Aniston, drops the N-word, and generally come across as an ass. He’s spent the better part of today apologizing via his Twitter page, including “I don’t want anyone to think I’m equivocating: I should have never said the [n] world and I will never say it again.”

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<p>Celine Dion in 2009</p>

Celine Dion in 2009

Credit: AP Photo

Celine Dion returns for a new Vegas run in 2011 at Caesar's Palace

Diva's new show will focus on movie classics and her hit

Her heart will go on… and on and on. Mark your calendars: Celine Dion is returning to Las Vegas for a new three-year residency—13 months from now.

Dion, who just appeared on the Grammys in a tribute to Michael Jackson and participated in the 25th anniversary recording of “We Are the World,” will premiere a new show at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace’s on March 15, 2011. That’s right, 2011, but tickets go on sale this Friday, Feb. 12. Just in time for Valentine's Day... we're just saying.

As you will recall, in 2003, Dion somewhat started the whole trend of artists still somewhat in their prime (or at least more so than Wayne Newton and Engelbert Humperdinck) taking up residencies in Vegas when Caesar’s build the 3,000-seat venue for her five-year residency. Elton John followed, as did Cher, Bette Midler, Santana and now Garth Brooks. Midler's run at the Colosseum ended Jan. 31.

This time around, Dion will be beating her chest with her fist as she sings (It really upsets us when she does that. We’re afraid she’s going to hurt herself) with a full orchestra behind her. Her show will focus on music from classic Hollywood movies and her many hits. She's spilling the beans on her appearance on today's "Oprah Winfrey Show." 

The initial announcement covers 54 performances running from March 15-Aug. 14, 2011. Again, that’s 2011. Ticket prices range from $55-$250.

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<p>Jack White of the White Stripes: not pleased.</p>

Jack White of the White Stripes: not pleased.

Credit: AP Photo

Whites Stripes blast Air Force Reserves' usage of song in Super Bowl ad

Duo takes to website to protest usage of its song in Super Bowl ad

The White Stripes’ message to the Air Force Reserve couldn’t be any clearer: don’t use us as a recruitment tool.

The duo took to its website to protest what it calls the unauthorized use of its song “Fell in Love with a Girl” in a Super Bowl commercial that aired Feb. 7. We have a feeling the Air Force got the message loud and clear: A link on the White Stripes’ site to the ad only directs to the Air Force Reserve site—the offending commercial is nowhere in site.

“We believe our song was re-recorded and used without permission of the White Stripes, our publishers, label or management,” says the band on its website.

The message reads in full:

“The White Stripes take strong insult and objection to the Air Force Reserves presenting this advertisement with the implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support.

“The White Stripes support his nation’s military, at home and during times when our country needs and depends on them. We simply don’t want to be a cog in the wheel of the current conflict, and hope for a safe and speedy return home for our troops.

“We have not licensed this song to the Air Force Reserve and we plan to take strong action to stop the ad containing this music.”

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Credit: Columbia

MGMT's sophomore set 'Congratulations' due for April 13 release

Duo says inspirations included Lady GaGa and surfing

Following its nomination for best new artist, MGMT returns with new album, “Congratulations” on April 13.
The set follows MGMT’s Columbia Records debut, “Oracular Spectacular,” which included the Grammy-nominated hit “Kids.”

While not labeled as a dreaded, pretentious “concept” album, “Congratulations” is, according to a release, “nine individual musical tours de force sequenced to flow with sonic and thematic coherence.” Among the track names are “Brian Eno,” I Found a Whistle” and “Lady DaDa’s Nightmare.”Guess who’s the inspiration for “Lady DaDa?” That’s right… rhymes with Lady Gaga. The Brooklyn-based duo’s Andrew Vanwyngarden told Spin.com that the band was influenced by LG, as well as his new love of surfing. Maybe a duet with Pearl Jam or Jack Johnson is forthcoming.

"It's definitely going to shock people," Vanwyngarden told spin.com of the album. "We dropped any sort of irony that was on the first record, and 'Congratulations' feels true to who we really are."

MGMT produced the album with Sonic Boom (known to his mom as Pete Kember) in New York and Malibu. Guests include Royal Trux’ Jennifer Herrema.

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<p>Mastodon is among the headliners for Rock the Range</p>

Mastodon is among the headliners for Rock the Range

Rob Zombie, Slash, Mastodon, Limp Bizkit headline Rock on the Range

Midwest's fourth annual fest rocks Columbus June 22-23

For those about to rock, Rock on the Range salutes you. While it may not be as hip as Coachella or as hippie as Bonnaroo, the Columbus, Ohio festival is rocking the good people of the Midwest with its May 22-23 festival.

Headlining the fourth annual event at the Crew Stadium are Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Mastodon, Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Rise Against, Slash and 30 other acts.

Tickets for the two-day fest start at $99.50. Like many other festivals, Rock on the Range offers a layaway plan. Pre-sale begins Feb. 16.

The Rock on the Range line up as of today is: Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Three Days Grace, Slash, Seether, Rise Against, Deftones, Papa Roach, Theory Of A Deadman, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Coheed & Cambria, Bullet for My Valentine, Puddle Of Mudd, Five Finger Death Punch, Apocalyptica, Drowning Pool, Halestorm, Sevendust, Skillet, Mushroomhead, Helmet, Airbourne, Anberlin, Cold, Nonpoint, 2Cents, Adelitas Way, Shaman's Harvest, Year Long Disaster, Like A Storm, Taddy Porter, Janus, and Noise Auction.

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<p>David Cook</p>

David Cook

David Cook spills the beans on his second post-'American Idol' set

What does he share with Imogen Heap?

David Cook has some pretty different plans for his next album, by his own admission. “I’ve got lofty ideas, man,” he says. “So it’s just a matter of implementing them.

The “American Idol” season 7 champ wants to break the tight, guitar-oriented mold had adhered to on his self-titled major label debut. Among the ideas he’s tossing around are recording an a cappella song in the vein of Imogen Heap, and relying more on piano than the six string, he tells Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch.

Unlike his self-titled, platinum-plus 2008 set, which he worked on while on the road, he's separating the touring and recording process this time around and let himself be in the moment. “With this being the first big tour that I’d ever been on,” he says. “I really wanted to take the time to appreciate it and get out and experience things. What was great was it allowed me to stockpile ideas.”

Among the songwriters he’s working with are ex-Evanscence member David Hodges and producer Brian Howes, both of whom have written with other “Idols,” including Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry. Howes wrote “Light On,” the megahit from Cook’s debut album, with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. He hopes to work with Max Martin and Ryan Tedder.

In addition to a possible all-vocal track, Cook says he’d like to have the second post-"Idol" set focus more on piano. The last album had a guitar-based “wall of sound,” he says, adding he’d like to “use guitar less as the basis of a song and have it [be] just another instrument” for the new set.

He's hoping for a mid-2010 release date.

Cook admits that unlike some of his fellow “Idols,” he was slow to warm to Twitter, but now he enjoys it as a communication tool. “I love it now because it’s a direct way to put something out there with my fans,” he says. “I just try not to get too mundane about it.”

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