Inside Music with Melinda Newman

Inside the 'Teen Choice Awards' with One Direction, Miley Cyrus, and two teenage girls

We rate the performances and disagree over Rebel Wilson's remarks

<p>Paramore at the Teen Choice Awards</p>

Paramore at the Teen Choice Awards

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

LOS ANGELES—My ears are still ringing. Last night, one of my closest friends, her two teenage daughters and I attended the Teen Choice Awards at Gibson Amphitheater here.  The show is an extremely fast-paced two-hour event that salutes teens’ favorite TV actors and shows, movie stars and films, musicians and athletes.

[More after the jump...]

 I’d forgotten that teenage girls will scream at and for anything, so throughout the night, several thousand girls would raise the decibels to beyond earsplitting any time one of the following happened:  1) ANYONE  associated with “Pretty Little Liars” took the stage  2) ANYTIME there was a Miley Cyrus  mention or sighting  3) WHENEVER One Direction performed, accepted an award, was nominated for an award or was spotted in the audience  4) EVERY TIME a celebrity, no matter how minor--and we’re talking even “Dance Moms” level C-List, not even “Duck Dynasty" — walked through the audience and 5) They just felt like screaming, which is, pretty much, all the time.

After the show, Olivia (15), Jacqueline (13) and I (no longer a teenage) graded each of the performances and a few of the other show highlights.

One Direction: “Best Song Ever”:

Listen: Katy Perry's new single 'Roar' in full, is a fierce, fun anthem

Will it take her back to the top of the charts?

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Listen: Katy Perry's new single 'Roar' in full, is a fierce, fun anthem

Katy Perry is a lion, hear her roar. “Roar,” the first single from her new album, “Prism,” debuted on Perezhilton.com Saturday morning and it’s a great change of pace for her. You can hear the full track at the bottom of the post.

The good news is that, musically, it sounds like no previous Perry single before (though thematically, it has the same uplifting spirit at "Firework"). It’s a statement song, and a smart one since it’s the first tune we’ve really heard from her since her split from Russell Brand. She’s letting us know in the mid-tempo pulser that she’s not just fine, she’s gone “from zero to my own hero.”  Like Survivor, she even has “the eye of the tiger,”  at her disposal. Heck, she has a whole menagerie, from a bee to butterfly. Dr. Luke produced the track, written by Perry, Dr. Luke and Bonnie McKee.

The steady stomp keeps the song grounded, while much of the rest of hand clap and mid-tempo piano production sound straight out of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In fact, if you’re old enough it may remind you a little bit of the chorus of  Martika’s “Toy Soldiers” crossed with M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” with some Avril Lavigne thrown in for good measure.

It’s a very good, not great, opening track, that announces she’s back and there’s even more to come. She shows progression but not so much that any of her fans will be alienated.

"Prism" comes out Oct. 22. As you know, Perry announced news of the release a few weeks ago by sending an gold-plated 18-wheeler with "Prism" and the release date painted on it around the country. Yesterday, a drunk driver hit the truck in Pennsylvania, according to TMZ. Luckily, no one was hurt.

What do you think? 

Here's the cover art for the single:

The Civil Wars land atop the Billboard 200 next week

Do Robin Thicke and Jay Z stay in the top 5?

<p>The cover of The Civil Wars' eponymous album</p>

The cover of The Civil Wars' eponymous album

The Civil Wars are going out with a bang as the now-defunct duo lands its first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week with its self-titled sophomore set.

“The Civil Wars,” which will sell up to 110,000 copies, is one of four debuts in the top 10: “Now That’s What I Call Music 47” likely lands at No. 2 (90,000), heavy metal band Asking Alexandria comes in at No. 8 with “From Death To Destiny” (32,000), and gospel singer Tye Tribbett at No. 9 with “Greater Than” (28,000).

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” this week’s chart topper, drops to No. 3 next week. Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” is at No. 4. There’s a logjam for spots 5-7 with Disney’s soundtrack to “Teen Beach,” Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” and Five Finger Death Punch’s ?“Wrong Side Of Heaven, Vol. 1” all slated to sell between 35,000-45,000. Rounding out the Top 10 will be Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s To The Good Times,” according to Hits Daily Double.


 

Robert Townson from Varese Sarabande counts down his top 5 scores

Planet of the Apes? Vertigo? Spartacus?

Robert Townson from Varese Sarabande counts down his top 5 scores

POZNAN, POLAND—If you have film scores in your music collection, chances are very good that they are on the Varese Sarabande label.

To celebrate its 35th anniversary this year, Varese Sarabande, which takes its first name from French composer Edgard Varese and its last from a Spanish dance, took its show on the road, holding concerts in Los Angeles, Macau, China; Tenerife, Canary Islands, and here in Poznan at the Transatlantyk Festival. A final concert will be held Oct. 19 in Los Angeles.

Robert Townson, VP and producer for the Studio City, Calif.-based label, has just overseen the release of his 1,200th project for Varese Sarabande. At more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone, the company’s best seller is the soundtrack to “Ghost,” which included Maurice Jarre’s score and Alex North’s “Unchained Melody,” made famous by the Righteous Bros.

Townson is an incredible film score historian. When we asked him to list his five all-time favorite scores, we knew his selections would be interesting, but we didn’t know we’d also find out some fascinating movie trivia at the same time.

And yes, his five selections have all been issued on Varese Sarabande, but that’s what happens when you love film scores as much as he does. “I would never limit the scores to my label,” he says, “But as it turns out, it’s been a self-fulfilling prophecy. So in every case, it’s a situation where if I love a score so much, of course I’m going to do my own release of it.”

Townson’s top five scores in descending order:


5. “Planet Of The Apes” (Jerry Goldsmith): “In a lot of ways, number five the hardest spot to fill because, of course, it has to be Jerry, but the breadth of his work is unparalleled. Bottom line, no one did the amount of great work that Jerry did because he treated every film as though it were ‘Chinatown,’ whether he was working on ‘The Swarm’ or ‘Patton.’ He wrote the scores for the films that the directors wished they had made. And always brought his A Game and to a degree that is unmatched, Jerry just never had a bad day. The consistency of excellence is all his own. ‘Planet of the Apes’ was just creating an all-new language, taking us to a world that we have never seen before, through his music, convincing us that they were on a distant planet and all of these unusual sounds: French horns being played without mouthpieces and stainless steel mixing boards and the whole tapestry was genuinely and completely a world he created.  He was working with Franklin J. Schaffner on that picture. Schaffner was a great example of a director who trusted his composer and let him do his thing. And that’s why we have the masterpiece that is that score and the film has gone on to become part of history.”

4. “Sunset Boulevard” (Franz Waxman):  “‘Sunset Blvd.’ is an example of a mastery, a psychological role that the music plays in that film— so much range and energy in the writing.  You have the glamour and the madness and the way Wasman wove it all together. Fifty years after Waxman won the Academy Award there had never been an album for ‘Sunset Blvd.’ Never, ever, ever. There was a concert suite that ran seven minutes, that was all that ever came from “Sunset Blvd.” So 50 years later, in 2000, I went to Scotland with  [composer] Joel McNeely and we recorded the complete score with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  I found when I went through the manuscripts the 10-minute prologue for the scene that never exists in the film called ‘Conversing Corpses,’ and the movie originally opened with a scene where WIlliam Holden’s character wakes up in the morgue and  the other corpses tell the story of how they met their end. So no one had ever heard that before and it’s my favorite piece of the score. It’s where he introduces all of his melodies and in that setting it’s just macabre and masterful and brilliant in so many ways.”

3. “Vertigo” (Bernard Herrmann):
“I just see it as the summit of his work. It’s passionate, it’s psychological. It’s so responsible for shaping the impact of that film. That’s the film that literally among Hitchcock’s script notes—he wrote it himself— ‘We will leave this scene for Mr. Herrmann.’ They had worked together since ‘The Trouble With Harry’ in 1955 and had developed this shorthand, this relationship, where Hitchcock was confident enough in the voice that Herrmann was bringing to the film that he passed the reins to the composer. The best scores have always resulted in directors trusting the composer. The best advice or input to give to a composer is just have at it.

2. “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Elmer Bernstein): “It’s just such an emotional score. Elmer Bernstein, one of the great composers of all time. So grateful that I got to spend the time I did with Elmer. We did 30 some albums together. I recorded ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ with him conducting himself with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He spent so much time before writing a single note just thinking about the score. He took the benefit of time to really let the film soak into him. The master composer that he is then came out with this melody that is just the most expressive reach into the heart. It’s what happens in the hands of a master composer who knows things that we can’t even conceive, but there’s just the soul of a great artist being expressed with notes on paper.”

1. “Spartacus” (Alex North): “I started doing what I do when I was young enough to get to spend the last few years of Alex North’s life working with him. We would hang out in his studio and talk about music. This is a guy who every genre he stepped foot in, he revolutionized. When I started talking to Alex about doing new recordings of his scores, the first one I brought up  was ‘Spartacus.’ It had been my favorite score since growing up: the depth of writing, the mastery of every note, the range and all the different styles he put into it and still it all tried together in a unified work. ‘Spartacus Love Theme’ is just one of the greatest melodies to ever come from film and the degree to which he broke ground just in the orchestral writing, his language and what he was doing musically in that score just set the stage for so much of what came after. Just at its heart, the emotion behind it where he had all this genius but that it kind of disappears within the fabric of the story that he’s telling musically. When I found out that Universal was doing a restoration of the film in 1990, we were going to try to align with that, but then we realized the window that we had in order to get the recording done in time wasn’t going to happen.  I promised Alex when we moved Spartacus out of the lineup, that one day I would restore and release his score. Twenty years later when I’m approaching my 1000th album, which was also the year that celebrated Alex’s 100th birthday and Spartacus’s 50th anniversary, [we did.] He didn’t live to see it, but what happened in the 20 intervening years is I got to produce ‘Spartacus’ at a level  where it was the most elaborate production of any film score in history.”  (Varese Sarabande’s 2010 release included 6 CDs, 1 DVD and an 168-page booklet,  including two CDs devoted to “Spartacus Love Theme,”  with variations by Carlos Santana, Bill Evans, and Ramsey Lewis, and Alexandre Desplat, as well as a new Lee Holdridge arrangement featuring flautist Sara Andon.)
 

Interview: 'Breaking Bad' composer Dave Porter talks Vince Gilligan and final season

Which TV series' scores does he most admire? What are his fave 'Bad' episodes?

<p>From &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;</p>

From "Breaking Bad"

Credit: AMC

POZNAN, POLAND: When “Breaking Bad” returns Sunday (11) for its final eight episodes, composer Dave Porter’s haunting theme will usher fans into Walter White’s life for one last go-round. Porter was here in Poland to teach a master class at Jan Kaczmarek’s Transatlantyk Festival, but will be back in Los Angeles in time to have a few friends over to watch along with the rest of us on Sunday night.

Up next for Porter will be a new series, which he can’t announce yet, but having only finished scoring “Breaking Bad” two weeks ago, right now Porter is looking forward to some down time. “August is going to be me and my two-year old playing in the backyard," he says. "I have to see him and get some sleep.”

[More after the jump...]

 

Oscar-winning composer Jan Kaczmarek on his Transatlantyk Fest and getting back to work

What project is next for the 'Finding Neverland,' 'Unfaithful' and 'Hachi' composer

<p>&nbsp;Jan Kaczmarek won an Oscar for the 'Finding Neverland' score.</p>

 Jan Kaczmarek won an Oscar for the 'Finding Neverland' score.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

POZNAN, Poland:  Composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2005 for Marc Forster’s “Finding Neverland,” has put his writing on hold for the last few years to get his latest production off the ground. But now, he’s ready to return to his first love.

Kaczmarek, who also scored such films as “Unfaithful,” “The Visitor,” and “Washington Square,”  started the Transatlantyk Festival, a music and film event here, in 2011. The Polish native attended college in Poznan and now splits his time between Poznan and Los Angeles.

“I took a sabbatical from writing,” he says. “Creating and funding the festival was such a big job, I removed myself from writing for three years. I did two movies and one concert work just to keep the flow, but it was a necessary decision to really seriously create this structure that works.”

 In its third year, the Aug. 2-9 festival, which draws more than 41,000 people to its series of classes, screenings, scoring competitions and events, will honor Yoko Ono on Aug. 7 with its Glocal (a combo of global and local) Hero Award. Accompanied by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, the 80-year old icon will also perform a selection of her works.

For Kaczmarek, Ono’s work and life beautifully represent the spirit of the festival, which draws attendees from all over Central Europe, and budding composers from around the globe. “We are a festival of film and music, but we define ourselves as a festival of ideas —social, political and culturally. We wanted her for many reasons, she’s also an activist in the peace movement,” he says. He also knows the benefit to having such a name grace his budding conference:  “To have an award accepted by a legend certainly has to send a message that, ‘yes, we do something important here.’”

Just as Sundance Film Festival started with the film institute before launching the full festival, Kaczmarek began by launching a film and music institute five years ago in Poznan. “There’s nothing better than hungry people you can feed,” he says. “We’re a big city with a great tradition of academics, great museums, music academy, culinary artists...this is the first capital of Poland from the 10th century, but on the level of film music, this was never an important place on the map.” 

With Sundance continuing as the model, Transatlantyk now has a working relationship with the famous Utah festival.  “We present a selection of movies chosen by Sundance for us called Sundance at Transatlantyk,” Kaczmarek says. Additionally, Sundance’s music director Peter Golub has attended the Poznan festival every year.

The festival prides itself on its slightly quirky innovation and creativity. The opening gala on Aug. 2 was preceded by a drumming circle to protest GMOs and the disappearance of bees. There is a green carpet instead of a red one to highlight a concern for the environment. In addition to the slate of films accepted into competition, there is a series dedicated to culinary films, and after the film, attendees can have a meal prepared by a chef that ties in with the movie’s theme. There is also a flight of films about bikes.

The festival, which takes over much of the 650,000-person town, makes the most of the large outdoor spaces no more so than for Cinema In Bed, a nightly series of films in a town square viewed on your own queen-sized bed, with your own projector and screen. There are 60 beds and the movie starts at the same time for everyone, but if you want privacy, you can lower the curtains on your bed. “It was my idea, like drive-ins, but beds are much quieter than cars and much more comfortable that cars. If you have a girlfriend, it’s much nicer to kiss her in our bed than in your car,” Kaczmarek jokes.

With Transatlantyk finding its feet, Kaczmarek is very eager to get back to writing music. “It’s what I’m here for,” he says. “It’s how I communicate with the world.”  Immediately after the festival, he is meeting with Austrian director, Feo Aladeg (director of “When We Leave,” winner of the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival) about her new film about Afghanistan, shot in Afghanistan. “I’m curious as to why she wants me,” he says. “I’m always looking for a challenging project. I love the idea of a new culture and using muscles I didn’t expect I had.”

Like many composers, Kaczmarek is happy to toggle back and forth between film and television. What matters for him is quality. “Television is so good these days, especially American television,” say Kaczmarek, who scored the 2007 “War & Peace” mini-series. “It’s become really brilliant in a way and intellectually stronger, quite often, than the world of features.”

His score for  2009’s “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” and his subsequent live performances of the music in Japan about a Japanese dog who went to the train station every day to greet his master for nine years following the owner’s death has helped make him a star there “They needed a Polish composer for the movie to capture the years of suffering,” he jokes.

He also teases that he’s very popular with “Arab princesses” who loved the movie “Unfaithful” because it was about such a forbidden topic for them.

But he turns very serious when he talks about receiving a letter from a fan in Tehran, who wrote Kaczmarek to tell him that his music kept him from committing suicide.  “People play my music a lot when they lose someone, especially [the score to] ‘Washington Square’,” he says. “People play it over and over. I’m very touched.”

Such feedback spurs him to get back to writing. “I want another letter,” he says.

 

Triple Oscar winner David MacMillan on his 6 most memorable movie shoots

What is it like to work with Oliver Stone? Michael Douglas? Where does 'Speed' fit in?

<p>From &quot;Speed&quot;</p>

From "Speed"

POZNAN, Poland— Last night, I had the great good fortune to sit at a concert with three-time Oscar winning sound mixer David MacMillan at a concert here at the Transatlantyk Festival, a film and music festival put on by Oscar-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek.  Kaczmarek grew up in Poland and adopted Poznan as his hometown after attending college here. MacMillan, who won his gold statues for “The Right Stuff,” “Speed” and “Apollo 13," is here teaching a master class. His other credits include "Twilight," "The 40-Year Old Virgin," "Indiana Jones  & The Temple Of Doom," and  "Hairspray." At 71, MacMillan has just retired. His last film, “Paranoia,” starring Harrison Ford and Liam Hemsworth, opens Aug. 16.

I sat down with the affable MacMillan today to recount some of his more memorable moments in a career filled with them. We only hit the tip of the iceberg.

MOST HARROWING SHOOT:
  “‘Natural Born Killers (1994) We shot for 18 days inside Interstate Prison [in Illinois]. Interstate has one of the last circular cellblocks. Cellblock B is the biggest single cellblock in the country with 1,500 on one side and 1,500 on the other. One of the scenes is an 8-minute walk-and-talk with the warden [played by] Tommy Lee Jones and Tom Sizemore. They go through the restaurant, the cafeteria, we’re using real prisoners as actors, and they then they walk into Cellblock B. Well, Cellblock B is so loud because all these guys have got radios and are yelling back and forth to each other and it’s all metal, so it’s very hard for radio mics to work within it. I said [to director Oliver Stone], ‘If you want to get a track here that you can use, you’re going to have to quiet the prisoners down.’ There’s three gangs in the prison system: the El Rukn, the black gang; there’s the Latin Kings, and there’s the White Aryan Nation.  [El Rukn’s] Big Load is the head guy. He has a cell on the bottom floor with two empty cells on either side so nobody can [come] around the corner at him. He’s got bodyguards the size of mountains who watch out for him. He’s 6’5” and weighs about 370. He’s a big, big guy. We went up to Big Load and said ‘Can you make it quiet in here?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, not a problem. Get me a bottle of Black Label and it’s yours.’ He basically runs the prison. We had to go to the warden. He said, ‘Yeah, get him the bottle.’ We had set the shot up. [Big Load’s] body guards shout at the top of their lungs: ‘Big Load wants you to shut the f**k up’ and the level comes down. Then, ‘Turn off your f**king radios and TVs,’ and they all turned off. I had set up on a little dolly because I couldn’t carry the radio mic the whole way. I had to be real close because there was so much metal around, it sucks up all the radio waves in a way, so soon as we got it quiet, we dolly all the way back 300 yards. We got our shot in one take and he got his Black Label." 

MOST INNOVATIVE SHOOT:   “‘Falling Down’ (1993). There’s a scene where Michael [Douglas] is running through MacArthur Park and some guy is hitting on him for money. They were redoing the park and there’s jackhammers, which they couldn’t control, so it was pretty impossible to do it and it meant that some of that scene had to be looped. I suggested to Joel [Shumacher] that we do it in a studio where Mike can be running. We put him in a studio with headphones and a receiver and I have a boom and I’m booming him like we would a normal shot. I had him running and getting the same energy going and so it gave him energy and it opened up the dialogue to what it would be like if you were recording the actual scene instead of sitting in a room with headphones on and looking at a screen and sitting with the microphone three inches from his face that has to be EQ’d and never really sounds right anyway. The body language also helps the actors. There’s a tension that builds and just the motion itself. Michael was great. He loved the idea.”

MOST CRAMPED SHOOT (AND GOOD SANDRA BULLOCK INFO): “‘Speed’
(1994). What happens on that bus, there’s a real driver on the roof of the bus. We have a popemobile, basically, the whole front of the bus is glass and there’s three or four cameras on there. There’s no place for me to go. I’m not going on the roof of the bus because I can’t get to the actors if I have to change their radio mics. So the only place for me to go— I’m sitting in the middle exit door with a little four-channel mixer, hiding, and I’m mixing four radio mics on the actors as the bus is moving. There’s a scene where Joe Morton tries to come up and take the bus driver off the bus and the wheels are banging up against the side of the doors that I’m on and it’s hard to keep your focus.  A lot of times I’ll take the microphones and put them right out in the open and make them look like part of a costume. With a SWAT team, that’s no problem with all. I was able to get good dialogue on the back of that bus with an open truck. Keanu [Reeves], I had to put it in the seam of his t-shirt and he was never really in the wind. With Sandra [Bullock], she has great skin. One thing about a good actor, they don’t sweat. They’re totally cool and know their lines. Even when it’s 90 degrees, they stay cool inside and you can put a mic on their skin and cover it with a softie, a felt thing so it doesn’t [record] clothing rustle and it will stay there. We have this stuff they use for burn victims, Tagaderm, and we put it on there and it will stay there all day long. She doesn’t sweat."

MOST DREADFUL MOVIE: “‘Leonard Part 6’ (1987), the one that Bill Cosby did. I felt really bad for Paul Weiland because it was his first feature film. He’s a really nice man, mainly a commercial director, that whole school of British directors with Ridley [Scott] and Tony [Scott] and Al[an] Parker and Adrian Lyne and it was his chance for his shot at Hollywood. It was an awful script and it turned out to be a terrible film. Mr. Cosby came out against it. He didn’t want anything to do with it. That was the end of David Puttnam and his reign at Coca Cola. He took a hike and went off and ran the British Film Society.  But I had a great time on the film."   

MOST DIFFICULT MOVIE SHOOT: “‘The Right Stuff’ (1983) was really difficult. [Producers] Bob Chartoff and Irwin Winkler had ordered a projection system and it wasn’t ready in time for the film [so] we were watching the dailies in the American Can Company on 3rd St. in San Francisco. It was this cement building with cement floors and cement ceiling. We put a screening room in and [it] had these old 1935 Acme projectors with 35 watt A500 speaker and it sounded terrible. I couldn’t believe how badly it sounded and I was getting kind of worried. I thought I was going to be fired. Caleb [Deschanel] came up  to me, he was having problems as well. He was the cameraman. So he was angry. I was angry. So one day, Caleb and I got into it. We’ve been good friends ever since, but, mind you, he was sort of complaining about the sound... f course, we never did get a projection system. So they took all my stuff and ran it through a Finley Hill box and they decided by listening to it that all the stuff they thought was happening wasn’t. It sounded great and everything was fine. It was the concrete. I won an Oscar and Caleb didn’t (laughs)."

MOST LIFE ALTERING SHOOT:  “'Black Widow’ (1987) because I met my wife."

Music Power Rankings: Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus lead this week's list

Michael Jackson makes his first appearance in a while

<p>Miley Cyrus</p>

Miley Cyrus

Credit: AP

1. Florida Georgia Line: The country duo sets the record for the longest No. 1 run on the Hot Country Songs in the chart’s 69-year history at 22 weeks with “Cruise.”  That’s going to be a great trivia question for years to come.

2. Katy Perry: She comes “roaring” back with her first album since 2010‘s “Teenage Dream” with “Prism.” She announced the new album via  a gold-plated truck driving around the country with the album name and release date. She'll use the truck again to take her earnings straight to the bank.

3. Miley Cyrus: The video for “We Can’t Stop” breaks a VEVO viewing record by hitting 100 million views in 37 days. Clearly, some people are taking the title literally.

4. Keith Urban: The country superstar is the only judge to return to Season 13 of “American Idol.”  With Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj gone, maybe next season he’ll actually manage to get a word in edgewise.

5. Michael Jackson:
Three duets recorded in 1983 with Freddie Mercury will finally see the light next year, more than 30 years later, according to Queen’s Brian May. The superstars apparently had a falling out, reportedly over Jackson bringing a llama into the studio, before they could complete the tracks. Bubbles knew better than to enter the fray.

6. Taylor Swift and Carly Simon: Simon joins Swift for a duet of her classic “You’re So Vain.” Simon was pulling a Swift by writing about ex-beaus before Swift was even a twinkle in her parents’ eye.

7. Bruce Springsteen:
He’s named the No. 1 live act by a Rolling Stone panel of artists and other influencers. Couldn’t they have just asked the fans who actually pay for tickets?

8. Selena Gomez: Disney star earns her first No. 1 album with “Stars Dance.” What did Justin Bieber get her as a present?

9. US Album Sales
: In depressing news, album sales hit new lows as this week marks the fifth consecutive week that the industry has scanned less than 5 million total units. Will we be writing stories about scanning less than 4 million a year from now?

10. Rolling Stones: In an entirely appropriate feat, the Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th entry on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week as they wrap their 50th anniversary tour.





 

Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' cuts clear path to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200

Set is one of five new debuts in top 10

<p>Robin Thicke</p>

Robin Thicke

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Robin Thicke will score his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 (to go along with his first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100) next week, as “Blurred Lines” is a shoo-in for the top spot as five new entries debut in the Top 10.

In addition to “Blurred Lines,” which is targeted to sell up to 140,000, according to Hits Daily Double, Five Finger Death Punch’s  “The Wrong Side Of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1,” which comes in at No. 2, will be the only other title to top the 100,000 mark. It is on track to sell between 100,000-105,000.

Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” will fight for the No. 3 spot with Tech N9ne’s new album, “Something Else,” with both slated to sell between 55,000-60,000.

Backstreet Boys’ “In A World Like This” bows at No. 5 (50,000-55,000) and pop group Emblem3’s “Nothing To Lose” at No. 7  (40,000-45,000).

Filling in the gaps are the soundtrack to Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach” at No. 6 (45,000-50,000), this week’s No. 1, Selena Gomez’s “Stars Dance,” which drops to No. 8 (30,000-35,000); the latest from Kidz Bop Kids, “Kids Bop 24,” at No. 9 (27,000-30,000) and Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s To The Good Times” at No. 10 (24,000-27,000).


 

U.S. album sales reach record lows

Can anything be done to staunch the bleeding?

<p>Jay-Z</p>

Jay-Z

Credit: AP Photo

Will this be the low point? U.S. album sales have hit a new low in the 22-year SoundScan era. For each of the past five weeks, total scans have been lower than 5 million, the longest stretch in SoundScan history.
Even worse, for the past two weeks, album sales hit consecutive record lows, according to Billboard. For the week ending July 21, total album sales were 4.71 million units. For the week ending July 28, they were 4.68 million.

As you know, album sales have been plummeting since 2000. While many in the industry tried to convince themselves that digital sales would make up for the falling physical sales, these numbers are sad proof that this is not the case. As CD sales continue to decline (sales are down 14.1 % so far in 2013 over 2012), digital sales are also slowing.  In the Q1 2013, digital sales were up 10.4%, but that figure slowed to 1.9% for the second quarter.

As a comparison, Billboard notes that sales dropped below 5 million for the week for the first time in 2010. That year, there were four weeks under the 5 million watermark, in 2011, two weeks; in 2012, three weeks. So far in 2013, there have been nine weeks, the last five of them in a row.

Of course, some of this can be attributed to a relatively weak summer release schedule that will heat back up in the fall with new albums from Katy Perry, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and more. Industry observers also cite the continuing decline in catalog album sales, which are down 8.8% from last year.

As CD sales continue to decline (sales are down 14.1 % so far in 2013 over 2012), digital sales are also slowing.  In  Q1 2013, digital sales were up 10.4%, but that figure slowed to 1.9% for the second quarter.

The larger question is how are streaming services siphoning off sales? Streaming revenue and subscribers continues to grow, although both Spotify and Pandora are losing money. Will a subscription or freemium service ever make up for the decline in sales? I can’t imagine it happening. And while Spotify likes to say it doesn’t hurt album sales, I know that I don’t buy as many albums as I used to, especially when I can stream them at the click of a mouse.

How low will they continue to go? Will we be writing stories about SoundScan numbers not reaching above 4 million for several weeks in a row this time next year?  While older consumers continue to purchase music, a recent MTV survey showed that 68% of kids thought music should be free.  As new distribution models evolve, such as Jay Z’s deal with Samsung, SoundScan may have to figure out more accurate ways to count sales (Remember, it didn’t count the 1 million copies of “Magna Carta Holy Grail” downloaded via Samsung), but even then, the numbers are still likely to plummet.

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