<p>Pearl Jam</p>

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam delivers a knock-out show in first of two Los Angeles concerts: Review

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Intense, three-hour concert delivered both hits and rarities

Not only is Eddie Vedder Pearl Jam’s mesmerizing front man, on Saturday night (23)  at the first of the band’s two shows at Los Angeles Sports Arena, he was the audience’s protector-in- chief.

Four songs into the set, during crowd favorite “Corduroy,” Vedder noticed some disturbance in the first few rows of the pit. Though the band somehow never lost its stride or intensity he commanded that the woman causing the strife get out. After the song finished, he looked over the area like a benevolent dictator and saw the agitator was still there. The house lights went up. “We’re not fucking around here,” he said. “You had a chance to make friends with these people. You fucked it up. Go watch the show from over there,” he said gesturing to the sidelines.

It was endearing as it was startling. Pearl Jam and its fans have always had a tight connection, but as the band settles into its 20s —Vedder fondly recalled the last time the band played the Sports Arena in 1991, opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers— and its loyal audience grow older together, that sense of community seems somehow more precious. Stronger and yet more fragile at the same time.

It’s almost impossible now to bring up Pearl Jam without mentioning Vedder’s spirit animal, Bruce Springsteen. The two men are very close (check out their great live version of “Better Man” on YouTube from a few years back) and while Pearl Jam has always been a commanding live act over the 22 years I’ve seen them, the Boss’s influence has seemed to grow over the years from the care and attention paid to the crowd (sadly, the 2000 deadly Roskilde concert could also have plenty to do with that) and the duration of the the shows. Saturday’s show easily blew past the three-hour mark. Vedder even name checked Springsteen, who loves the decrepit, concrete Sports Arena, as the reason the band was playing there.

Despite its ability to fill arenas for two decades now, at its heart Pearl Jam remains a great club band but with better lighting and the tightness that only time and talent provide. They have, against the odds, retained a kinetic energy that makes them still seem fresh and somehow keeps even old chestnuts like “Jeremy,” delivered here in a more foreboding atmospheric version than on record, interesting.

Opening with “Pendulum,” from the band’s new chart topper, “Lightning Bolt,” Pearl Jam agilely slide from one song to the next. While Vedder remained largely static veering from his trademark two-fisted microphone grip to awkwardly dancing when he was not singing, the other members were almost constantly in motion with guitarist Mike McCready and bassist Jeff Ament literally running circles around each other during “Spin the Black Circle,” and Stone Gossard putting his whole body into his guitar solo during a erupting “Do the Evolution.”

A few songs after dedicating a lovely, mournful “Garden” to Tim Robbins, Vedder turned reflective. “2013’s been a real fucking son of a bitch,” he said. “If you avoided tragedies, you should be very grateful, but you should know you’re probably next.” He took the time to point out fans who had crossed continents to be at the show, including their friend Rob from the Philippines, as Vedder pledged that money from the Los Angeles shows, as well as the San Diego show on Nov. 22, were going back with Rob for Typhoon Haiyan relief. He elliptically also thanked “some very good doctor friends who have given us hope in very dire times,” before launching into, appropriately enough, an elegiac version of “Sirens.”

The 20-song main set closed with an intense “Rearviewmirror” that built and built until it felt like it spilled over into every corner of the Sports Arena.

For the first encore, the band members sat down for the first time all evening (other than, of course, drummer Matt Cameron), for a strong 8-song mini-set that included a haunting “Footsteps,” rarity “All or None” (played as an audible after Vedder saw it on a sign a fan held up), and a spirited cover of the Ramones’ “I Believe in Miracles.”

By the time they closed with “Porch,” it seemed that the show was destined to be done as it was approaching 11 p.m., but, remarkably, they returned for a second encore with tremendous verve and energy. Vedder, by now well lubricated from his constant sipping from at least one bottle of wine, and the band tore into ferocious versions of “Unknown Thought,” “Black” (McCready’s solo was as emotionally piercing as always), “Alive” and a very lively cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” with Ament giving his best Pete Townshend-like leap at the end as Vedder passed out the two tambourines he’d been bashing. The show concluded with a rambunctious “Indifference.” It was hard to tell who was more exhausted, the band or the fans... but everyone was smiling.

 

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Hear Beyonce's sumptuous new song 'God Made You Beautiful' in full

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She thinks Blue Ivy is quite the kid

We got 90-seconds of Beyonce’s new song, “God Made You Beautiful,” on Friday and today, we get the whole song. It’s a majestic ode to daughter Blue Ivy that is filled with a mother’s pride and wonder at her new child.

If you don’t listen to the verses at all, it’s possible to hear this as a romantic love song in the choruses, but lines like “When you were born...” or “I kissed those little feet” make it pretty clear that 

Gorgeous African chanting at the beginning and heavy percussion elevate the ballad to a stately crescendo.

Every parent acts like he or she is the first to have ever given birth and while Beyonce’s sentiments may seem over the top, she’s just a mom with a microphone and the means to get her feelings out worldwide.

She’s certainly not the first to write a song about the overwhelming rush of love that a new parent feels. She’s not even the first in her own family to do so, since Jay Z put out “Glory,” featuring Blue Ivy, within a week of her birth.

Overt songs about becoming a parent tend not to zoom up the charts, Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” is certainly an exception, as was Creed’s “Arms Wide Open.”  No word of if “God Made You Beautiful” will be worked to radio, but expect for it to be a major hit with parents across the land regardless.

The song will be offered as a free download to those purchasing Beyonce’s HBO documentary, “Life is But A Dream,” which comes out on DVD today.

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Justin Bieber's on a 'Rollercoaster' of love in new song: Listen
Credit: AP Photo

Justin Bieber's on a 'Rollercoaster' of love in new song: Listen

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His heart's going up and down and spinning round and round

Throughout the course of Justin Bieber’s Music Mondays, his songs have examined the ups and downs of love. On the eighth entry, “Rollercoaster,” he takes the term literally.

Produced by Rodney Jerkins, the tune has a great old-school vibe, especially courtesy of the  the funky bass synth line that runs through it (it sounds like a sample, but I don’t have the songwriting credits to check).  The song has so much promise, but it’s missing a great chorus. And Bieber's vocals are too low in the mix during the choruses. That’s happened a lot with the material Bieber has released in the series. None of it is memorable despite having potential.

We’ve got two more Music Mondays to go, all leading to the big Christmas Day release of Bieber’s new theatrical movie, “Believe.”

What do you think of “Rollercoaster?”

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<p>Katy Perry arrives at the 2013 American Music Awards</p>

Katy Perry arrives at the 2013 American Music Awards

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Live blogging the 2013 American Music Awards

What do Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga have in store for us?

7:50 p.m.: The American Music Awards are the populist equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Voted on by the fans (via Twitter), the AMAs offer less prestige, but a looser, more fun evening. Katy Perry will open the evening with "Unconditionally," but expect the proceedings will be much less staid after that, especially with Pitbull at the helm as host. Who will be TLC's special guest? We're hoping Lady Gaga. How will Miley Cyrus capture the spotlight after twerking at the VMAs and lighting up a joint at the EMAs?

I'll be blogging the proceedings live, so please join me for the evening.

8:00 p.m.: And we're off! Katy Perry is recreating "Memoirs of a Geisha" for show opener, "Unconditionally."  Instead of focusing on the performance, all I can think about is how utterly exhausting it must be to have to come up with a different concept every time she performs. Guys don't have to do that. On my, now she's doing semaphore with a Japanese umbrella. Her voice sounded a little ragged, but it also seems like a tough song to sing.

8:06 p.m.: Pitbull is hosting this year, which is a smart move if they're trying to capture the Latin audience as well. And we've hit a low point 8 minutes in. Pitbull, who has been telling anyone who will listen for the last few weeks, that women have been twerking in Miami since  the '80s, so he's brought out a few women to demonstrate. Can this please signal the VERY end of twerking on TV? 

8:10 p.m. Taylor Swift, who looks stunning, presents best pop/rock male to Justin Timberlake, his fourth win in the category. Timberlake does a good job of acting humble and acting like he's 85 years old by commenting on this new-fangled thing called Twitter. Voting by fax is so 1985.

8:18 p.m. One Direction is performing its new ballad, "The Story of My Life."  The song deserves to be a hit. Musically, it reminds me of Phillip Phillips' "Home." It's a nice, stripped down performance with the five lads trading off singing lines on a spare stage. Harry Styles is having a good night singing live; Louis Tomlinson not so much.

8:22 p.m.: Artists have the choice of singing live of lipsyncing on the AMAs, and, it looks to me like Ariana Grande is lipsynching- or at least singing along with a track--to "Tattooed Heart," but I'm watching on a computer screen, so I don't have the best view. Regardless, she has a great voice. She wants to be Mariah Carey, and she needs to focus on being Ariana Grande because that's good enough. Where's Stuart Smalley  when you need him? Was she born when he was around? 

8:24 p.m.: How the heck is Ciara up for best soul/R&B female? Only one song from "Ciara" even made the R&B top 10.  The award goes to Rihanna, who is looking amazing, and who gives an awards speech thanking the fans delivered with the excitement I reserve for having to get a root canal.

8:36 p.m.: Drums are obviously the unifying theme of the night. After one was prominently featured in Katy Perry's opening number, Imagine Dragons go all Blue Man Group on stage bashing all manner of drums in a mash up of "Demons" and "Radioactive." The drums and band share the stage with all the dry ice available in Los Angeles. The band rocks far harder on stage than it does on the radio version of its songs.

8:38 p.m.: Taylor Swift wins best country album for "Red." She is so loyal to country radio even though she's really a pop artist, that I almost can't begrudge her the award. Luke Bryan, whom she beat, probably cannot say the same.

8:44 p.m.:  Akon and Michael Bolton present rap/hip hop album to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for "The Heist," who are on tour and in Miami.  Macklemore decides to make it a political moment and speak up against racial profiling since the band is in Florida, home of murdered Trayvon Martin. Ryan Lewis  is left to thank the fans. Appropriate forum to bring up this issue? Or since "Same Love," have M&RL become the self-appointed ambassadors of civil rights?  I agree with everything Macklemore says, just don't know if it's the right place.

8:50 a.m.: What has "Wake Me Up" wrought? How many dance/country hybrids are we going to see (not that "Wake Me Up" was the first.) Pitbull and a nearly unrecognizable Ke$ha in Daisy Dukes and boots perform their top 10 hit, "Timber," with country cuties line-dancing in the background. The dancing is a little 1998 and I'm sure that Luke Bryan is having a hard time not jumping up on stage, but I can't help it, I  like the song. Let's see how many times I can randomly mention Luke Bryan tonight.

8:57 p.m. Dave Grohl musters a nice golf clap as he and Joan Jett announce Imagine Dragons as winners of best alternative rock album. Then lead singer Dan Reynolds thanks Grohl and Jett, completely winning over Grohl. If you don't like Imagine Dragons, just go watch how they interact with their fans in the "Demons" clip, especially their biggest fan, a 17-year old boy who died of cancer. It will make you believe in the power of music.

9 p.m.: Marc Antony wins favorite Latin artist. who, apropos of nothing, wants to remind us to be alive, not just live. Hey, if Macklemore can quite MLK Jr., Antony can throw out any platitude he wants.

9:02 p.m.: Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids are performing a great version of the bluesy "Drink You Away," far and away the best tune on "The 20/20 Experience Vol. 2" and the best performance of the evening so far. I feel like I'm in a Memphis speakeasy. Man, that's a lot of people on stage. He just made everyone else but Imagine Dragons look like posers. Huge standing ovation.

9:12 p.m.: We have a showdown for best pop album between Taylor Swift and One Direction for best pop rock album (along with Justin Timberlake).And it goes to One Direction for "Take Me Home." Remember, it's fan voted...the AMAs shows admirable restraint by not getting a reaction shot from Swift.

9:14 p.m.: The Ceremonies intro Florida Georgia Line.Who are the Ceremonies, you may ask? They are three brothers from Los Angeles, who are managed by Troy Carter, who, until recently, managed Lady Gaga. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they were booked to present while Carter still managed Gaga, if you get what I'm hinting at here. FLG is performing "Cruise" for the 1,329th time this week alone, and yet they still manage to look happy about it. Nelly joins them and then they go into Nelly's "Ride With Me," which helps liven things up a bit, although between this and the line dancing in "Timber," makes me feel like the whole show is happening in some kind of time warp.

9:19 p.m.: Ariana Grande wins new artist of the year, which, along with One Direction's win for best pop/rock album,   goes to prove that the average demo voters is 12 and overwhelmingly female. Grande pulls her acceptance speech out of her cleavage and then manages to deliver it in record speed. Just made me like her even more.

9:26 p.m.: OK, WTF? Is Bill Maher presenting the Icon Award to Rihanna because he wants to sleep with her? There really can't be any other reason, can there? Is Robert Reich going to introduce Lady Gaga? Rihanna is performing "Diamonds." Or rather lipsyncs "Diamonds." Shouldn't icons be required to sing live? 

9:36 p.m.: "I can't believe that at 25 years old, I'm holding an Icon Award," says Rihanna after her mom presents her with the Icon award. It's a sweet moment and Rihanna has accomplished a tremendous amount in a relatively short period of time, but I'm with her... it's still too early for this kind of award. However, keep in mind that awards like the Icon Award are completely discretionary and can often be used to convince a superstar to show up and perform. I'm just saying...

9:42 p.m.: Did Justin Timberlake just sing along to his own song as he goes onstage to accept best soul/R&B male? He wants to talk about how cute Rihanna's mom is. Is it just me or is he coming off as a little bit of a jerk tonight? That was still a great performance though.

9:47 p.m.: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are performing "Can't Hold Us" with Ray Dalton live from Miami and it's a high energy shot of adrenalin. Another highlight of the night, but I'm blinded by my tears since I stupidly forgot to get tickets for their upcoming sold-out tour stop in Los Angeles.

9:51 p.m. Taylor Swift wins top female country artist. It's her 13th AMA award and if you are even a passing fan of Swift's you know that's her favorite number.

10:00 p.m.: Definitely an emphasis on the Latin audience tonight, which makes Jennifer Lopez's salute to the great Celia Cruz even more appropriate- as if you need a reason to pay tribute to the Queen of Salsa. Between the exhilarating dancing, Lopez's three costume changes and her performance (yes, she's lip syncing, but I'm giving her a bit of a break on that), it's a really fun spectacular.

10:02 p.m.: Florida Georgia Line and Nelly win the award for single of the year for "Cruise." It's a new award because the presenters say until iTunes, you had a buy a full album. Really? What do you call all those 45s I still have in my closet? 

10:03 p.m.: Sarah Silverman says what everyone else is thinking when  she remarks that two white guys (Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke, who's nowhere to be seen tonight) are competing against Rihanna for best soul/R&B album, as "The 20/20 Experience" wins. But after I just cut down JT a few paragraphs back, he comes back with a brilliant retort: "That's the first time I've ever been racially profiled by a white woman." Is racial profiling the theme of the night? Essays have been written about the continuing appropriation of black culture by white artists... there was a whole new round of them after Miley Cyrus twerked on the VMAs, so maybe for tonight, we just let Justin Timberlake enjoy the spoils of winning any award that One Direction isn't up for.

10:14 p.m. A Great Big World, or at least Ian Axel from the duo, performs "Say Something" with Christina Aguilera backed by a string section. It's beautiful. A Great Big World could be the next fun., and this song  could be as big as Pink and Nate Ruess from fun.'s "Just Give Me A Reason." I know I'm recommending a lot of ancillary homework tonight, but check out the video for "Say Something" if you haven't yet. Bring Klennex.

10:19 p.m. Kendrick Lamar performs a capable but hardly medley of "Swimming Pools" and "Poetic Justice." Kendall Jenner, who may or may not be dating Harry Styles, presents best EDM artist to Avicii. Why is he always wearing a cap when it's clear he's got a great head of hair? Stop it.

10:26 p.m.: Lady Gaga and R. Kelly play Marilyn Monroe and President Kennedy (or in this case, President Kelly) in their performance of "Do What U Want" in a fake West Wing setting. All I can imagine is Kelly is looking up Lady Gaga's skirt while she's dancing on his desk. They simulated sex about 20 ways to Sunday on "Saturday Night Love" last week, but it looks lie the AMAs are making them use a little restraint as the cameras judiciously cut away when it looks like she's gotten down on her knees in front of him. There's rear projection of a Lady Gaga playing piano as a kid, while the adult Gaga finishes the song on top of a piano as newspaper stories about her being over scroll by. I think I need to digest this one for a second.

10:36 p.m.: Luke Bryan wins top country male over Justin Timberlake. Just kidding, he wasn't nominated in that category. He beats Hunter Hayes and Blake Shelton. And he wins just in time for him to perform.

10:39 p.m.: One Direction wins best pop rock band/duo/group. I wonder what the difference is between a band and a group? Maybe a band actually plays its own instruments? See Ariana Grande's win for why this just happened. If you had to be 18 or older to vote ,tonight's results would look very different.

10:44 p.m. Luke Bryan performs "That's My Kind of Night," a song that has come to represent to critics everything that is wrong with mainstream country radio, while fans have crowned it as one of the most popular songs in country music history. Guess whose opinion Bryan cares about? 

10:47 p.m. TLC with Lil Mama, who played the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez in VH1's biopic are lipsyncing "Waterfalls." I don't know why they're even wearing mics. It's lovely to hear the song, which still sounds great, but the whole thing feels more like a karaoke performance  than anything else.

10:53 p.m.: Miley Cyrus having a computer generated, wide-eyes cat singing "Wrecking Ball" behind her may be one of most brilliant things I've ever seen just because it makes no sense. .She proves she can sing and still will get all the headlines tomorrow. My hat's off to her. I can't fight it anymore.

10:58 p.m: Taylor Swift wins artist of the year for the third year of the row. "If you voted for this that validates that we are heartbroken the same way... If you voted for this, we're pretty much in it together." And that is why Swift's fans love her.

11 p.m.: That's a wrap. There were some solid performances with no obvious disasters, but not enough water cooler moments that a show like this always relies on.

What did you think? 

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: Jason DeCrow/AP

Eminem's 'The Marshal Mathers LP 2' rises to the top of the charts again next week

The rapper resurges while four new albums bow in the Top 10


Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” will return to the top spot on the Billboard 200 next week, after dropping to No. 2 this week to make room for Lady Gaga’s “Artpop.”

“MMLP2” will sell up to 125,000, making it the only album next week projected to eclipse  six figures.

Four albums debut in a busy week as Five Finger Death Punch’s “The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 2” bows at No 2 (75,000-80,000). Newbies “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack and the newest set from Daughtry, “Baptized,”  are duking it out for the No. 4 spot with chart vet “Duck the Halls” from "Duck Dynasty" family, The Robertsons, with all three titles selling in the 55,000-60,000 range.

The new set from Yo Gotti, “I Am,” and Kelly Clarkson’s holiday set, “Wrapped In Red” are both vying for No. 8 with sales between 40,000-45,000 copies.

Of the other returning vets, “Now 48” will be at No. 3 (65,000-70,000) and this week’s No. 1, “Artpop,” drops to No. 7 with sales of 50,000-55,000, according to Hits Daily Double. Coming in at No. 10 will be Katy Perry’s “Prism” (35,000-40,000).
 

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: Interscope

Will we ever see an album sell 1 million copies in its debut week again?

Can Garth Brooks, Adele, or Taylor Swift make it happen?

What do albums that sell more than 1 million in their first week and the Western Black Rhino have in common?

Both are most likely extinct.

For the first time since 2009, no album in the U.S. will surpass the million mark in its opening frame. To be sure, Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” missed by only a whisper at 968,000 copies, but what is the likelihood that the watermark will ever happen again?  (We’re not counting Jay Z’s “Magna Carta, Holy Grail since it was given away to Samsung users). Eminem, who used to reliably sell more than a million in his first week, came in second this year with "The Marshall Mathers LP2," which sold 792,000 copies.

From 1998-2002, selling a million copies in first week of release was seen as a realistically achievable goal for superstars. Garth Brooks’ “Double Live” was the first to do so in 1998 (the first album to sell a million copies in one week was “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, but that wasn’t in its debut week- that was in the week after Christmas, which used to be the biggest sales week of the year for albums).

In 2000, five albums surpassed the million milestone in their first week, including ‘N Sync’s “No Strings Attached,” which sold a staggering 2.4 million copies in its debut week. Guess how many albums released in 2013 have sold more than 2 million copies TOTAL?  Just one. And that would be by former ‘N Syncer Justin Timberlake with the aforementioned “The 20/20 Experience.”

After iTunes launched in 2003, we still saw million sellers, but in fewer numbers. In fact, Taylor Swift has been keeping the tradition alive almost single-handedly lately. In 2010, “Speak Now” sold 1.047 million in its opening week. Last year, “Red” moved 1.2 million units in its debut week, the most since 2002, when “The Eminem Show” sold 1.32 million. In 2011, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” sold 1.1 million, but many of those sales came through a 99-cent album download promotion with Amazon. Such antics led to Billboard revising its policy and now an album must sell for at least $3.49 for its first six weeks of release to be on the Billboard 200. Follow-up "Artpop," which came out last week, sold only 258,000 copies in its opening week, far less than the 450,000 predicted.

So is iTunes to blame for the decline? In a word, yes. By offerings songs a la carte, iTunes has likely forever changed how people consume music and made them singles buyers instead of album buyers.. And as digital consumption continue to rise and physical consumption decline (2012 was the first year that digital sales surpassed physical ones) , we’ll see fewer albums with huge first week numbers, although some album artists still inspire loyalty.. Yes, when someone purchases 10 individual songs from a given album, that counts as an album sale (it’s called TEA- track equivalent album), but unless they buy the album outright the first week, the eventually TEA sale won’t count toward first-week numbers.

There’s another theory at work here and one that leads me to conclude that there may, just maybe, be another potential million seller this year.

In April, Chris Molanphy wrote a piece for NPR and coined what he calls The AC/DC Rule. That rule is that an artist’s first week sales are predicated not so much on the current work, but by how much fans liked the previous album and by how much they missed the artist. That explains why Timberlake sold 968,000 in his opening week after a six-year absence that left fans frothing for new material, even though first single “Suit & Tie” was far from a barn burner.

His uses AC/DC’s 1981 album, “For Those About To Rock We Salute You,” as proof of his theory. That album reached No. 1 in its third week on the chart (remember, this is pre-SoundScan's 1991 launch), after the far superior “Back In Black” peaked at No. 4. The success of “Back in Black,” with such songs as the title track and “You Shook Me All Night Long,” has fans salivating for new AC/DC. Part of "For Those About To Rock's" sales came from a promise delivered by "Back in Black" and people wanted more.

So that leads to is there anyone who could top 1 million again in his or her first week? The obvious contender is Adele, whenever her follow-up to “21” arrives, because that album has surpassed the 10 million mark, it appealed to both older and younger consumers, and we will all be craving new Adele by the time it shows up...whenever it may be.

As for the rest of 2013? The only superstar names with albums still coming are One Direction, whose “Midnight Memories” comes out Tuesday (25), Britney Spears with “Britney Jean” on Dec. 5, and Garth Brooks with “Blame It All On My Roots,” an 8-CD/DVD box set on Thanksgiving.. I’m betting on Brooks.

One Direction will likely sell around 500,000, a very healthy number. But despite their rabid fan base and ticket-selling prowess, 1D aren’t mainstays at radio here and they need more radio play to reach beyond that base to sell more.

Spears is probably good for no more than 250,000-300,000.

Brooks, however, is the wild card. He’s the top selling solo artist in U.S. history and these are his  first new albums since 2001. The set consists of four CDs of newly-recorded cover songs, many of which he’s been singing in his Las Vegas show; the other 2 CDs are his greatest hits-- which will appeal to all the new fans he made since his Las Vegas show started in 2009. The two DVDs are of the Las Vegas show.  There is pent-up demand for new material from Brooks and he is also selling the full box set for $24.96, which is about as good a deal for the consumer as you will ever get.

On the downside: The set is available only through Walmart and none of it will be made available digitally as Brooks is the one remaining superstar who does not sell his material  via iTunes or any other online store. Secondly, the album isn’t available until Thanksgiving Day, so he loses half the sales week since Nielsen SoundScan’s survey runs Monday-Sunday. Third, there’s no single from the box set yet, so radio listeners aren’t necessarily aware that there is new material to buy, although his two-hour CBS Special on Nov. 29 should help solve that.

Regardless, if Brooks doesn’t make it, our last best hope to add to the list of the 20 or so albums that have achieved the Million Mark in their first week will be new Adele and new Taylor Swift. After that, such feats will only live in the record books. 

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Beyonce's gorgeous 'God Made You Beautiful'

A mother's love wrapped in a sweeping melody

Still no word on when a new album from Beyonce will arrive after a number of individual songs released over the past year, but on Monday, fans will get the full-length version of “God Made You Beautiful,” a stately ballad about Beyonce and Jay Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy.

We’ll give a full review when we have more than the 1.40 here, but from what we’ve heard, it is gorgeous. Opening with a chorus of voices as if they’re descending from the heavens, the song goes into a slow jam as Beyonce rhapsodizes about how her baby “brought me back to life/you bring me back to life.”

Every new mom feels this way, but not every one can express it in music. Of course, Blue Ivy's dad, Jay Z, beat mom to the punch with " Glory,"  featuring Blue Ivy, which came out shortly after their tot was born.

The song will be offered as a free download to those purchasing Beyonce’s HBO documentary, “Life is But A Dream,” which comes out on DV on Nov. 25.

We’ll come back with the full song then.  In the meantime, what do you think? 
 

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<p>A moment from the new video</p>

A moment from the new video

Credit: Universal Island Records

Listen: U2's new song, 'Ordinary Love'

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Track is featured in 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'

U2 has released its first new song in four years:  “Ordinary Love” is from the soundtrack for “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.”

The tune, which the band released Thursday on its Facebook page, is instantly recognizable due to Bono’s vocals, but unlike so much of U2’s material, it’s keyboard driven. In fact, The Edge’s guitar work isn’t really prominent until around the 2:30 mark.

Thematically, the song covers familiar terrain for U2: love, respect, community —all of which are certainly shared by Mandela.

Bono’s the only band member whose face is scene in the lyric video and that’s only very briefly. There’s no movie footage, though a paintings of Mandela crop up occasionally.

It’s a good song, but it doesn’t have U2’s trademark anthemic feel.

“Ordinary Love” will be released as a 10” on Record Store Day, Nov. 29, with a new version of “Breathe,” a song originally released on U2’s 2009 album, “No Line On the Horizon.”

U2’s new album is tentatively slated to come out in April, as previously reported. The majority of the set was produced and mixed by Danger Mouse.
 

 
Post by U2.
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Demi Lovato turns back the clock in video for 'Neon Lights'
Credit: Hollywood Records

Demi Lovato turns back the clock in video for 'Neon Lights'

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Day-glo colors don't save the day...or night

Demi Lovato’s new video for “Neon Lights” plays out like a Samsung commercial that flashes back to the ‘80s. Between the neon bracelets and neon lipstick all enhanced by black light, all that’s missing to complete the set is a Swatch.

There’s not much to the clip: The “X Factor” judge dancing in the club in her ‘80s wear straight ouf of Ltd Express,  poses of her in the water apropos of nothing, and beautiful bodies in provocative poses. Add in the Samsung product placement and it’s a wrap.

The song, from her current album, "Demi," is a bit of a cross between Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” and Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,  and feels inferior to all three.

Lovato is talented and capable of really nice music, but this does nothing to prove that. It is, however, an excellent set up for her "Neon Lights" tour, which kicks off in February. The outing also features Cher Lloyd, and "X Factor" alums Little Mix and Fifth Harmony.

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Watch Arcade Fire's sweet new video for 'Afterlife'

Watch Arcade Fire's sweet new video for 'Afterlife'

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No, you don't have to wear formal attire or a costume to view it

Arcade Fire’s new video for “Afterlife” couldn’t be more different than the clip for “Reflektor’s” title track.

Instead of showcasing the band in oversized masks and white suits,  the Emily Kai Bock-directed video plays out like an indie film about the life of a Hispanic family trying to get through life day-to-day.

The clip, which does not feature the band,  starts with a long Spanish-spoken intro with a man, presumably a single dad, having dinner for his two sons after a day spent selling flowers by the roadside—a very familiar sight in Los Angeles, by the way.

They then all have their dreams, seemingly all about the same women: the father’s love of his life, who is the mother of his two children. She’s absent from their lives now for unexplained reasons, but weighs heavily in their thoughts.  It’s sweet and poignant and beautifully shot, especially the black and white portions from the father’s dream. But the nightmare of the little boy being put in the washer almost sent me over the edge.

Better yet about the video: you don’t have to dress in a costume or formal wear to watch it. As you heard, Arcade Fire’s request that fans wear “formal attire or costume” to their arena shows was met with a bit of a backlash from fans who thought paying for a ticket should be all required for their entry.

Yesterday, Arcade Fire took to its Facebook page to tell everyone to calm down a little bit; they were just trying to liven up the festivities:

“To everyone really upset about us asking people to dress up at our shows… please relax. It's super not mandatory. It just makes for a more fun carnival when we are all in it together. So far these have been the best shows we have ever played.
See you soon.
Love,

Arcade Fire”

 

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