<p>This 1985 black and white file photo shows Lionel Richie, clockwise from left, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder record &quot;We Are The World&quot; by USA for Africa. Richie, who wrote the original charity anthem with the late Michael Jackson, says the King of Pop can be seen in the new video for the track, singing with his sister Janet.</p>

This 1985 black and white file photo shows Lionel Richie, clockwise from left, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder record "We Are The World" by USA for Africa. Richie, who wrote the original charity anthem with the late Michael Jackson, says the King of Pop can be seen in the new video for the track, singing with his sister Janet.

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: 'We Are the World 25 for Haiti' debuts at Olympics

See Pink, Justin Bieber and even Michael Jackson go toe to toe for charity

A shorter, three-minute version of “We are the World 25 for Haiti” debuted during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night, but here’s the eight-minute version that aired worldwide today that is probably about 7:30 more than you need to get the idea.

Here’s the thing: you can’t really criticize something like this without coming across as a total Grinch, but it’s inconceivable to me that anyone will be watching this a week from now. Plus, I guarantee you that unlike the original 25 years ago where you can still name everyone in that clip, folks won’t have a clue who some of these people are five months years from now.

The video starts with Justin Bieber singing the opening lines. Really? I know you have to match voices with the song, but maybe someone who has actually released a full album should have gotten that slot. The video follows the original fairly closely until it gets to a rap breakdown lead by LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg and Will.I.Am. It’s an attempt to update the song and fuse the details of the Haitian situation with the tune, but it’s part of what will make the song feel extremely dated very shortly—although Lil Wayne and T Pain’s autotuned parts already guaranteed that.

There’s a certain absurdity to seeing Barbra Streisand and Nicole Scherzinger (who gets way more than her fair share of air time) singing the same song, but it’s fun figuring out who’s who and marveling at the fact that most of these people probably have no idea who some of the other ones are. It took a few views for me to figure out it was Miley Cyrus in one part because of the size of the microphone.

As far as the insertion of the Michael Jackson footage from the 1984 original, it’s easy to believe that Jackson is in the room since many of the artists are in vocal booths singing by themselves and the color scheme is the same. What could be tacky works out just fine. It’s not over the top, it’s only two shots and it’s a nice homage. However, the split screen of Jackson and sister Janet is a bit forced.

For the cynic, part of the intent of these catch-all songs is to make the music industry feel good that it’s doing something about a world tragedy, but if the video moves one person to donate to the Haitian cause, that’s really all that matters. Proceeds from download sales of the song will go to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti through the We Are The World Foundation.

What are your thoughts?


Read Full Post
<p>Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine</p>

Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine

Credit: AP Photo

Rage Against the Machine sets free concert for June 6 in London

Show is a big thank you for fans who made 'Killing' the Christmas Number One Single

Let it be noted that Rage Against the Machine is a band of its word. As a thank you to fans who voted its song “Killing in the Name” the U.K.’s Christmas Number One single, the group will play a free concert in London’s Finsbury Park on June 6.

"A historic grassroots rebellion made our song 'Killing in the Name' the number one Christmas single of 2009. The people of the UK toppled the X-Factor giant, raised a great deal of money for homeless charities, and shocked the world. As a thank you to our UK fans and freedom fighters we promised to play a free show. Well...here we come. June 6th, Finsbury Park, the celebration/party/revolution is ON!!,” said Rage guitarist Tom Morello on the band’s website.

As you recall, Rage's single kept “The X Factor” winner Joe McElderry’s remake of Miley Cyrus's “The Climb” from capturing the title. (The winner of the contest is selected via fan downloads). Read the background on the race and about the significance and long tradition of the Christmas No. 1 here in this excellent piece that Katie Hasty wrote when Rage's song won.

Rages win spelled the end to the four-year run that Simon Cowell-produced songs had at the helm. (Cowell is a producer and judge on “The X Factor”). To sweeten the pot, as voting drew to a close in December, Rage threw in the free concert.

The event will include a number of support acts, according to Rage’s website. We’re betting McElderry shows up. To register for tickets, go to www.theragefactor.co.uk. Registration is open through Valentine’s Day. Tickets will be doled out on a lottery basis starting Feb. 17.

Read Full Post
<p>Cover of Sade's &quot;Soldier of Love&quot;</p>

Cover of Sade's "Soldier of Love"

Sade's 'Soldier of Love' looks to be victorious on next week's album chart

Singer's return sells north of 400,000 copies

Fans are welcoming Sade back with open arms and open wallets. The British-Nigerian singer’s first album in 10 years, “Soldier of Love,” is set to debut atop the album chart next week with sales of up to 450,000. Her last album, 2000’s “Lovers Rock,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

January and February are usually total winter doldrums for the music industry, but even massive snow storms haven’t stopped album buyers (although many are, undoubtedly, shopping from the cozy confines of their living room): Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” debuted a few weeks ago with sales of 480,000, the best January opening in five years, according to Hits Daily Double. After topping the chart for two weeks, Lady A drops to No. 2 with predicted sales of around 150,000.

There’s a little something for everyone on next week’s Top 10: R&B singer Jaheim will also surpass the 100,000 mark with his latest album for Atlantic to land at No. 3. Other debuts this week include country star Josh Turner, at No. 5 with sales of around 65,000, while contemporary Christian artist TobyMac lands at No. 7 with sales of around 60,000. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds’ live Vegas concert taped in December rolls in around No. 10, bowing with sales of around 40,000.

The rest of the Top 10 is filled with the artists who have taken up residence there, like Lady GaGa, Black Eyed Peas and Taylor Swift. Standing strong in his second week is Lil Wayne with his rock-oriented album, “Rebirth,” which sees a modest slide from No. 2 to No. 4.

Read Full Post
<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.

Read Full Post
<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.


Read Full Post
<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.


Read Full Post
<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.

Read Full Post
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.”

Read Full Post
<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.

Read Full Post
<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.”

Read Full Post