Inside Music with Melinda Newman

Listen: Shakira and Lil’ Wayne ‘s 'Give It Up to Me'

Do the She-Wolf and Weezy make beautiful noise?

<p>Shakira continues her new 'She-Wolf' direction with Lil' Wayne and Timbaland.</p>

Shakira continues her new 'She-Wolf' direction with Lil' Wayne and Timbaland.

Is it possible to only like about half of a song? Shakira’s new single, “Give It Up to Me, “ is so clearly a bid for radio acceptance that it takes the Colombian singer and turns her virtually unrecognizable during certain portions of her new single.

The tune belongs more to Lil’ Wayne than Shakira. He gets the first verse and is dropping some pretty righteous double entendres before the song turns all self-empowerment with Shakira singing “Anything you want in the world, you can make it yours.”

Timbaland, who produced, also appears on the record and serves as a nice counterpoint to Shakira and Lil Wayne.

Garth joins Celine, Elton, Bette, Cher as a Vegas headliner

Country superstar steps out of retirement to perform five-year run at Wynn's Encore Theater

<p>Garth Brooks</p>

Garth Brooks

Credit: AP Photo


Any attempt to hide the poorly-kept secret that Garth Brooks was coming out of retirement for an extended run at the Wynn Las Vegas’s 1500-seat Encore Theater was blown the minute journalists here for the press conference walked into their rooms:  The TVs were turned on with Brooks’ 1997 Central Park concert on a continuous loop.

By 2:05 p.m., it was official.  The top-selling solo artist in the U.S. will begin a series of dates in Las Vegas Dec. 11. He and Steve Wynn, chairman/CEO of Wynn Resorts announced the five-year deal from the stage of the Encore Theater.

Tickets go on sale Oct. 24 for the first slate of dates that covers five weekends between Dec. 11 and Feb. 26, 2010.  All seats are priced at $125, a fee hotly contested between Brooks, who has never charged more than $25 for a ticket, and Wynn, who wanted to scale the house, although he stressed that the farthest seat from the stage is only 71 feet.   Fellow Vegas headliners Bette Midler and Cher charge up to  $227, but also offer cheaper seats. In order to discourage scalping, all tickets must be picked up in person the day of show with valid ID and will not be distributed in advance. Tickets will be sold through Wynn’s own ticketing system.

The 90-minute shows will feature Brooks accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar as he recounts his musical influences such as Merle Haggard, Bob Seger, Cat Stevens and James Taylor, performing both their songs, as well as many of his hits.

Wynn and Brooks conflicted over who made the first overture about Brooks playing the room, but they agreed on one thing: “I told him he couldn’t afford me,” Brooks said, pausing for comedic effect. “I was wrong.” No other financial details of the arrangement were given.

In 2000, Brooks announced he would retire in order to spend time with his three young daughters, declaring that he would not tour until after his youngest daughter, Allie, graduated from high school in 2015. However, Wynn made it possible to still allow Brooks to take his kids to school every morning in Oklahoma by structuring the deal where Brooks plays one show on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday.  “In order to accomplish this goal, I will confess I had to buy him a jet plane,” Wynn said.  There are no plans for Brooks to tour outside of the Vegas deal or to put out new music.

Although the contract is nominally for five years, Brooks said that he can stop if he feels the pact isn’t working for him and his family.  “[Wynn] said, ‘All I need you to do is the shows [already] put on sale. You fulfill them, you can quit anytime.’” For that reason, shows will be announced each quarter for the following quarter so he can coordinate with his kids’ schedules, Brooks said.

Since announcing his retirement, Brooks has played selected dates, including nine sold-out dates at Kansas City’s Sprint Center in November 2007 and five sold-out shows at Los Angeles’ Staples Center over a two-day period in  January 2008. Although he had not released an album of all-new material since 2001’s “Scarecrow,” the concerts, which sold out instantly, showed demand for Brooks as a live performer was still strong. He was also one of the first artists to do an exclusive deal through Wal-Mart, starting with “The Limited Series,” a six-CD boxed set, in November 2005. Brooks, who lives in Oklahoma with wife Trisha Yearwood, has sold more than 123 million albums,  according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America, with sales of more than 113 million.

Brooks takes the place of Danny Gans, who died May 1. Wynn did not discount other artists playing in the theater when Brooks is not there; Wynn said Beyonce has said she wants to come back, but he made it clear the theater is reserved for Brooks.  “He’s taking control of the room. Who he brings on stage, what he does is strictly his business. Truly, I just provided the hall,” said Wynn. “This is Garth Brooks’ home.”


In addition to the Vegas run, Brooks also addressed his absence from the digital space in a press conference earlier today in Nashville: he and the Beatles remain the largest holdouts.  He said that until there is iTunes offers variable pricing (which they already do in a limited fashion) and, more importantly to him, albums-only sales, he will continue to abstain.


Tonight there's a press dinner with Brooks. We'll post an update if he plays or says anything noteworthy.



Watch: John Mayer's video for 'Who Says'

Is he stoned?

<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

The video for “Who Says,” the gentle first single from John Mayer’s forthcoming album, “Battle Studies,” rolls along as genially as the tune itself.

It’s 4:59 a.m., Mayer, looking more and more like a GQ model, is coming home from a long night out in Manhattan, and it’s time to spend some time “me in my house alone.”  As he strums his guitar, he flashes back to the evening behind him, reliving his time clubbing, eating out, performing stand up at a comedy club and hanging at a  carnival (because you can find them on every street corner all year round in NYC, right? Maybe this was filmed during the Feast of San Gennaro). He’s surrounded by gorgeous girls and gals. It’s basically “Sex in the City”—John Mayer style.

The stoner references (He starts almost every verse with “Who says I can’t get stoned) are played down, but they aren’t out of the picture. In one scene, a woman Mayer is dining with lights up, but it’s unclear if it’s a cigarette or a joint. Another scene flashes on a storefront called “Half-baked.”  Mayer has said that the song isn’t about getting stoned on pot, it’s about getting stoned on playing his guitar... and he does plenty of that in the clip. We still wager that MTV and VH1 block out the cig. He manages to get his point across just fine.

Listen: Leighton Meester looks for 'Somebody to Love'

Robin Thicke joins her in her debut single

<p>Leighton Meester</p>

Leighton Meester


“Gossip Girl’s” Leighton Meester has been riding high on the charts with her appearance on Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad.” Now she’s ready to fly solo. Well, not quite…

On “Somebody to Love,” the first single from her Universal/Republic debut, she’s joined by Robin Thicke. It’s a risky move as his smooth, dreamy chops are pretty hard to top. Smartly, she doesn’t even try. She’s outmatched by him, but not so much that she embarrasses herself, partially because she’s not on the record that much.  She channels her inner Madonna, especially a little more than two minutes in when she says “strike a pose."

Listen to the song here.

Her singing style is more of droning talking, and we say that in the nicest possible way.  Her method works perfectly for this song, which is a hypnotic, catchy, mid-tempo, electro-pop tune about looking for love. Do we foresee a major music career for Meester?  No, but there have certainly been worse attempts by actors moving into music.

Listen for yourself here. Does Thicke really sing “Looking at me like a puddy cat…” as in Sylvester and Tweety Bird?


Britney Spears takes '3' to No. 1; first artist to debut at the top in three years

Who was the last artist to come in at No. 1? You'll never guess

<p>&nbsp;Britney Spears</p>

 Britney Spears

Credit: AP


Can we please now call Britney Spears’ comeback complete? With “3,” her fluffy little, auto-tuned ode to a menege a trios,  Spears becomes the first artist in more than 3 years to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100.

In the chart released Oct. 15, Spears comes in at the pinnacle based largely on download sales, as "3" sells 255,000 downloads, according to Billboard. Not surprisingly, that means it leads the Digital Songs chart as well. The song debuts at No. 49 on the Radio Songs/Hot 100 Airplay chart, which, as the name would indicate, is based solely on airplay.  The Hot 100 combines both sales and airplay.

"3" appears on Spears’ forthcoming greatest hits set, "The Singles Collection,"which is out Nov. 24.

You’ll never guess who was the last artist to debut at the summit: Taylor Hicks. That’s right, “3” is the first No. 1 since Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud” bowed at No. 1 in July 2006.  Interestingly, and this speaks to the “American Idol” phenomenon—and its somewhat slighting fading luster— all four previous tunes to debut at No. 1 were from “American Idol” contestants.  Carrie Underwood, Fantasia and Clay Underwood all had tunes come in at No. 1 from their “Idol” days, all based primarily on download sales and not airplay.

In a nice bit of symmetry, “3” is Spears’ third No. 1, following “…Baby One More Time” in 1999 and last year’s “Womanizer.”

Buble gives Kiss off to rock group on the Billboard 200

Kiss settles for No. 2

<p>&nbsp;Michael Buble</p>

 Michael Buble

Credit: Jeff Christensen/AP


Croon beats out glam on the Billboard 200 as Canadian balladeer Michael Buble swoops in to snatch Kiss’s first possible No. 1 album out of the costumed rockers’ gloved clutches.

Kiss’s “Sonic Boom,” its first album in more than 11 years and a Wal-Mart exclusive, seemed destined to come in at No. 1 following strong sales reports after its Oct. 6 release.  However, in a off-cycle move, Warner Bros./Reprise dropped Buble’s “Crazy Love” on Friday, Oct. 9, simultaneously with the singer’s “Oprah” appearance. With only three days of sales, he topped all releases last week, moving 132,000 units. It is his second No. 1 and third top 10 album, according to Billboard.

Kiss comes in second—still its highest chart debut-- with 108,000 in sales.

Country, which has had recent charttoppers from Sugarland, George Strait and Reba McEntire, comes in third this week with Toby Keith’s “American Ride.” Country burgeoning star Luke Bryan rides in at No. 7. The Backstreet Boys eek out a Top 10 finish coming in at No. 9 with 42,000 in sales.

Last week’s pole topper, Barbra Streisand, drops to No. 4, Mariah Carey goes from 3-7, while Madonna falls out of the top 10.

Look for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” to upset the apple cart next week.  Like Buble’s “Crazy Love,” it drops off-cycle on Friday. Can it sell enough in three days to top next week’s chart?  There are no strong challengers in its way so the answer is an easy yes.


Is new Rihanna on the way? The singer hints that 'the wait is ova'

Mark Nov. 23 on your calendar.



Credit: AP Photo


Rihanna sent fans a cryptic message today via Twitter. With plenty of characters left to spare, she simply tweeted “The wait is ova. Nov 23 09.”  We can’t imagine she’s telling us anything other than the release date for her new album.

But we might not have to wait that long to hear some music. There are rumors floating around that the first single is going to drop any minute now. We’ll post it the second it does.

But back to the album: Nov. 23 is a Monday, which is the one day earlier than the standard release date for albums.  However, a number of acts are planning on moving that week’s releases up from Tuesday to Monday to get a jump on  the Thanskgiving holiday. That week also officially kicks off the holiday shopping season.

Here’s what else we know about Rihanna’s album: producers include Justin Timberlake, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and U.K. dance music team Chase & Status. Timberlake has said that the follow-up to her 2007 smash “Good Girl Gone Bad” will sound “a little more grown up.”

Tricky told that he and Rihanna were headed into the studio in mid-October and that his plan was to “try to chase greatness.”  He also vowed the new work would sound different than mega-hit “Umbrella.” We come out with something that sounds like “Umbrella,” they’re gonna be saying that we tried to do something that sounded like “Umbrella.” That’s not what the great artists do. They don’t even allow you to do stuff like that. Every great artist always wants to hear something they’ve never heard before

Rihanna is currently riding high on the charts on her guest spot on Jay-Zs “Run This Town.”

Still no confirmation on when her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown will release his next album, although there’s speculation it will be in early December. His first single, "I Can Transform Ya,” came out at the end of September.

American Music Award nominations: Michael Jackson snares 5, Lambert to perform

Who's snubbed? How did Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Lady GaGa fare?

<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

There’s a very crass saying that death is a good career move. Michael Jackson is proving the axiom true. Not only is he the top-selling artist of 2009 because of the sales surge that occurred following his June death, he just received five American Music Award nominations. That’s more than such living breathing acts as Eminem, Lady GaGa or Kings of Leon. In fact, the only artist to snare more nominations than Jackson is Taylor Swift, who tops all nominees with six nods.

The 37th annual AMAs, which are much more populist and mainstream than the Grammys, will air live Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The winners in the 20 categories  are voted on by the fans via and

Obvious omissions include Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, although Cyrus’s alter-ego, Hannah Montana, received two of the three nominations in the favorite soundtracks category.

Although no performers have been officially announced, "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert told Ryan Seacrest this  morning that he will perform his debut single on the show, which airs two days before his CD hits stores.

Competing with Jackson in the artist of the year category are Kings of Leon, Swift, Lady GaGa and Eminem.  Artists who cross over to various genres benefitted in a big way: Swift is nominated in pop, country and adult contemporary categories.  Jackson is in both pop/rock and soul/R&B categories.

Jackson’s “Number One” is also a contender for favorite pop/rock album, competing with Lady GaGa’s “Fame” and Swift’s “Fearless.”   Unlike the Grammys, the AMAs do not have song categories.

The AMAs have always loved Jackson. In fact, he shares the record for most AMA received in a single year with Whitney Houston. In 1984, he captured eight awards for “Thriller.” Another little trivia fact: Jackson hosted the first AMA ceremony in 1973 with Donny Osmond.

For a complete list of nominees, go here.



Buble bursts Kiss’s bubble for No. 1?

Canadian Crooner gives Simmons and Co. the kiss-off as he soars past them

<p>Michael Buble</p>

Michael Buble

Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward


Poor Kiss. More than 30 years into their career, the glam rockers have never landed a No. 1 album. They looked like they were coming thisclose with “Sonic Boom,” their first album in 11 years.

But what looked like a fairly sure thing at the end of last week, got shot through with holes after a little lady named Oprah got hold of Michael Buble. The crooner appeared on her royal highness’ show on Friday, causing Warner Bros.’ to rush release Buble’s “Crazy Love” for a Friday release instead of its originally scheduled Oct. 13 release. In doing so, it looks like ”Crazy Love” will beat Kiss to the top of the charts with only three days of sales.

Hits Daily Double projects that Buble will sell around 130,000, while Kiss, after a strong start last Tuesday, will move about 105,000 copies in its Wal-Mart exclusive.

There could be a lot more MJ from where 'This is It' came from

Sony has more than 100 songs in the vault

<p>Michael Jackson</p>

Michael Jackson

Credit: AP Photo


As we suspected, Michael Jackson’s “This is It” was built around a tape Jackson left with only his vocals and piano. The rest was crafted from the ground up.

In this excellent piece in the New York Times, reporter Ben Sisario reports that there are at least 100 Jackson songs in Sony’s vaults.

“We probably have at least 100 songs in varying degrees of being finished,”  Rob Stringer, chairman of Sony's  Columbia/Epic Label Group, told the NY Times. “And we think there probably is a lot more. We haven’t gone into the archive to search it properly yet. It’s just too complicated to do that.”

There are few musical clues as to when the tunes were recorded. For example, Stringer tells Sisario that “This is It” may have been recorded as recently as 1991 or as early as 1979.

Jackson’s deal with Sony ended five years ago, meaning any material recorded following the end of that contract may belong to the estate and could be farmed out to the highest bidder. The question remains, however, if demand for Jackson’s unheard material will be as great as it has been for his catalog since his death.  In our experience, we’ve often found that songs left off albums were often kept off for a reason.

Listen to Jackson's newest song "This Is It" here, and read our review.

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