<p>Imagine Dragons in &quot;On Top of the World&quot;</p>

Imagine Dragons in "On Top of the World"

Imagine Dragons' fun new video for 'Top of the World': Cue the conspiracy theories

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It's all about the kid in the tin-foil hat

Imagine Dragons has certainly had a great year as its mainstream breakthrough continued with tunes like  “Radioactive,” “It’s Time,”  and “Demons.”

For the jaunty “Top of the World,” the group takes a decidedly lighthearted approach. They take the idea of “Top of the World” literally, as the video reacts the 1969 moon landing, as seen through the eyes of hippies, tin-foil-wearing space-loving children, the astronauts, and even Richard Nixon.

The Matt Eastin and Corey Fox-directed video is one of those clips that you notice new things every time you watch, including the spoof of the Beatles’ Abbey Road crossing and the notion that the moon landing was a staged event and didn’t really happen. Let your conspiracy theories begin now.

There are no fighting puppets as in the “Radioactive” clip, but there is a hyper monkey.

However, for pure heart, Imagine Dragons’ video for “Demons,” which features them with a hardcore teenage fan, Tyler Robinson,  who died of cancer remains their most moving and is a testament to the bond between and act and its fans.

Imagine Dragons is on an international tour in support of "Night Visions," and will return stateside for a new U.S. outing starting in February.

 

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo/Jorge Saenz

Justin Bieber takes an unhappy turn on new song, 'All Bad'

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He's not all bad, he promises

Romantic woes continue to plague Justin Bieber. On “All Bad,” the steady slow drum beat and atmospheric production reinforce the fact that Bieber’s upset and ready to defend his reputation.

“I ain’t all bad,” he sings/whispers over and over as he proclaims that he’s trying to be your best friend, even though he knows he’s not perfect. “Want to be everything I oughta be to you/and be the same thing jealous of you/that’s what they do.” He and his girl would be OK, if she’d just understand he’s not like the others.

It’s an interesting change of pace from some of the other songs we’ve heard during Bieber’s “Manic Monday” series, but we have yet to hear anything that grabs us into warranting repeated listenings. However, it’s clear with these songs that the album is the arc of a relationship and not one that has a happy ending...if the frowny emotion didn’t let you in on that.
 

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<p>Mariah Carey on stage in October</p>

Mariah Carey on stage in October

Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Mariah Carey's new single, 'The Art of Letting Go': Listen

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The song ends strong, but is it too little too late?

It’s old school Mariah Carey on her new single, “The Art of Letting Go,” even to the point of the song opening to the sound of a needle dropping on a vinyl.

The string-laden ballad, which Carey calls “such a personal record to me,” recalls ‘60s soul with its slow build and deliberate laid-out lyrics as Mimi takes someone to task, someone who is now nothing more than a “liability.” “I wrote the lyrics so that anyone and everyone could relate to them and hopefully release anything that they need to let go of that’s holding them back or bringing them down,” Carey wrote on her Facebook page.

The confessional song reads like a journey entry, and let the guessing game begin on whom it is about. But private thoughts don’t always make for great public statements. As heartfelt as her sentiment may be, it’s a tremendously clunky one, as exemplified by these lyrics:

“Your audacity is too much to be believed soooooooooooo go to Mimi on your contacts, press delete/Letting go ain’t easy/ oh it’s just exceedingly hurtful/because someone you used to know is flinging your world around.”

Although we have to admit, the line about how to press delete is as campy and fierce as it is clumsy.

The Rodney Jerkins production builds into a nice girl group-like bridge and a really strong ending by Carey, but by then you’ve either bought in or you’ve tuned out to the lugubrious tune.

The good news for Carey fans is that her vocals sound bold, powerful and clear and a Carey who is eager to tell someone to crawl back under that rock after hurting her is usually a Carey worth listening to. Sadly, this one falls short.

“The Art of Letting Go” is the title track, or was the title track, to Carey’s 14th studio album, which was supposed to come out this summer, but was yanked to give her more time to work on it. It was originally slated for last year, but after first single “Triumphant (Get ‘Em)” didn’t build much excitement (except for some remixes) and “Beautiful” featuring Miguel peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it deserved to go higher), the project keeps getting retooled.

 

 
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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for 42 West

Watch Lady Gaga's wacky live performances at 'Artpop's release party

She turns the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a living gallery for the night

Lady Gaga performed a number of tracks from “Artpop” at her Artrave album release event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard early Monday morning.

Her hip problems are clearly past her as Momma Monster danced and gyrated through a series of songs from "Artpop," out today.

Earlier in the evening, Lady Gaga introduced a flying dress, but the excitement from her fans was clearly for the mini-concert. Check out the footage of Lady Gaga  performing/lipsyncing the title track, “Artpop” in a black and white dress/flotation device.


Among the tunes she performed from the album were a very spirited  “MANiCURE,” “Applause,” “Do What U Want” (with an absent R. Kelly on backing track), “Dope," and "Gypsy," which she dedicated to "a very special person...a true hero, Jeff Koon," the artist who designed the cover of "Artpop," and who is clearly Lady Gaga's new muse. 

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<p>James Blunt</p>

James Blunt

Credit: AP Photo

Interview: Why James Blunt is having the last laugh

His take on Whitney Houston and his takedown of himself

James Blunt is having the last laugh. His new album, “Moon Landing,” which came out Nov. 5 in America, debuted at No. 2 in the U.K. and first single, “Bonfire Heart” is burning up the chart in a number of countries, including Germany where it’s his first No. 1 single.

The album reflects a change of pace for the British singer songwriter and represents the truest side of himself he’s shown since his breakthrough smash “You’re Beautiful,”  from 2005’s “Back to Bedlam,” which catapulted him into superstardom, and inspired a level of vitriol among his detractors that seemed far out of proportion.

“‘You’re Beautiful’ stripped me of my indie roots and put me in a dirty, dirty place called mainstream,” he says, only half joking (Indeed, many reviews for “Back To Bedlam” are glowing, comparing Blunt to Elliott Smith and Badly Drawn Boy, but as soon as “You’re Beautiful” became massive, the backlash started).  

Blunt adds that he has loved and is grateful for all that came after, but it took until “Moon Landing,” his fourth studio set, to settle down enough to strip away the veneer he’d built up since then and write from a place of honesty

With “Moon Landing,” written largely in Los Angeles, he and “Back To Bedlam” producer Tom Rockroth went back to the beginning. “It was important to go back to him without my band, to go back to a place before that audience was there,” Blunt says. He admits on his last two albums, 2007’s “All The Lost Souls”  and 2010’s “Some Kind of Trouble,”  “I was writing songs for an audience, not the words I needed to say;  I didn’t want to be as open because I didn’t want to put myself through that again.”

But he found he yearned to express that side of himself and he thinks that reclaimed genuineness is what people are responding too. “I’m not hiding behind anything,” he says. “Before, I think I was feeling [defensive] when [I] was asked in an interview, ‘Are you romantic,’ and not in a positive way, it means you’re not macho. And I’d say, ‘No, I’m not. I’m a soldier’,” says the Kosovo army veteran.

Still, he has his limits when it comes to expressing himself too much. He and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder wrote “Bonfire Heart,” a song about falling deeply and passionately in love.  But coming out and telling Tedder directly that was the thinking behind the song was a bit too much. “I never normally say ‘this is what I’m going through’ because I’m a man and that would feel very uncomfortable to me’,” he laughs. Instead, he went on tour with OneRepublic and on the tour bus, he and Tedder would write, inspired by the gentle, steady feel of the wheels turning beneath them. “We spar off each other with lyrics. That’s unusual for me. We’d make a racket, we’d make a noise.”

For the most part, “Moon Landing’s” songs tackle such universally shared emotions as love and longing, “I write about what is it to be a very simple human being; what we feel en masse,” he says. “I don’t write songs about how incredible or how different I am, which many songs do. I write about what it’s like to be normal. That definitely comes out of having been in the army and traveling around  and meeting people.”

In fact, the experience of writing “Moon Landing” has made him acutely aware of artists who aren’t showing their true selves. “I’m on the charts with artists who surround themselves with expensive cars, expensive jewelry, girls... that’s just kind of bullshit,” he says. “They’ve constructed an image, smoke and mirrors. They want the audience to think that they are big and strong and powerful, but they’ve surrounded themselves with bodyguards who are much bigger and stronger.” When asked if he had any artists specifically in mind, he said, “I’m definitely not naming names.”

One artist he’s not wary of naming by name is Whitney Houston. The song “Miss America,” was written about her and her tragic downfall.

 “We never met and in many ways I’m glad we didn’t,” he says. “In the same way that an audience member looks at a singer and thinks they know him, we go online and buy magazines to see them at their best and their worst. It’s about her incredible voice and talent and it’s the same story as Amy Winehouse and Princess Diana and and Michael Jackson and, maybe in the future, Justin Bieber. It’s how much we enjoy speculating on their downfall a bit too much.”

Ever since “You’re Beautiful,”  Blunt has had plenty of critics who have wished for his downfall. And lately, he found a new way to silence them: poke fun at himself on Twitter.

For the last few years, his label had encouraged him to engage with his fans more via Twitter, but he just couldn’t fathom tweeting what he’d had for breakfast or some other minutiae.

A few months ago, however, he decided that instead of interacting with his fans, he’d find the people tweeting the most hideous things about him and he’d answer them. But instead of talking trash back, he’s let his sense of humor shine through. Below are a few examples.

 

 


“The first two I did, I thought they were amusing and self deprecating. My label called me and said, ‘Don’t do any more of that. It’s not cool,’ he recalls with a laugh. “And I thought, ‘What the f**k am I going to do?’”

What he did was ignore his label and he continued not only replying to the negative commenters but seeking them out.  And it’s clear it’s done more to change the perception of Blunt as an uber-sensitive, keening male singer than anything Atlantic Records could have ever planned. The label, once eager to silence his replies now includes a link to a Buzzfeed article about his tweeting.

“I suppose because of marketing, I’ve come across as earnest,” he says. “When the truth is, I take myself less seriously than anyone I know.” With Twitter, he appreciates the fact that there’s no filter. “It could have gone all wrong because what I’m doing is I’m going online and searching my name. I’m running tweet deck and all [my fans] are doing is saying ‘retweet me,’ and I’m looking for the ones saying mean things. I find myself completely avoiding the ones I should be engaging with, but I really enjoy engaging my detractors....the people who sit in the comfort and security and shadows of their bedrooms. It’s just great fun.”

Plus, as anyone who follows him on Twitter knows, he is never mean spirited in his replies, even to people who say horrible things to him. “It some ways, I’m saying, ‘jump on the stage with me and say that out loud’,” he says. “And I try my best to not be rude or horrid, only to myself, which is easy.”

 

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9 signs Lady Gaga has lost her way

9 signs Lady Gaga has lost her way

Has Momma Monster gotten a little off-track? Here's why we think so

Lady Gaga's newest album, "Artpop," comes out Monday. While an album from Momma Monster is always cause for excitement (and it looks like this one will have a strong opening of 450,000 copies or so), there are several signs that look like Lady Gaga has lost her way a bit.

Even before news broke this week of her split with longtime manager Troy Carter, several of us at HitFix felt like her career was a little unsteady, whether it was the feeling that the songs leaking from "Artpop" weren't as compelling as past material or her grab to propel fans to buy multiple copies of "Applause" to juice it up the charts or even just the fact that she doesn't seem to be having much fun anymore, here's a look at a few ways Lady Gaga seems to have lost her path a little. Here's hoping the missteps are only temporary.

 

 

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: AP Photo

Eminem dominates next week's Billboard 200 album chart

Will 'The Marshall Mathers LP2' score 2013's highest opening week?

Eminem’s new album, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” will come in at No. 1 next week, handily outselling its nearest competitor 10 to 1.

The rapper’s seventh album to bow at No. 1 will sell up to 750,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. Coming in second will be Celine Dion’s “Loved Me Back To Life,” moving 80,000 units. Eminem's tally will give him the second biggest opening week of 2013, behind Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience," which sold 958,000.

Also bowing in the Top 10 is Avril Lavigne’s self-titled set at No. 6 (45,000).

Katy Perry’s former No. 1, “Prism,”  is tied for No. 3, with sales of up to 65,000, with the Robertsons’ “Duck The Halls.” The Robertsons are better known as the family behind “Duck Dynasty.” Another holiday title, Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped In Red” lands at No. 5.

Lorde’s “Pure Heroine,” Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” and this week’s chart topper, Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” are too close to call for the No. 7 spot, with each targeted to sell between 30,000-35,000.

Rounding out the top 10 will be Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz” (28,000-32,000).

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<p>Selena Gomez</p>

Selena Gomez

Credit: AP Photo

Selena Gomez responds to Lorde's attack on 'Come and Get It'

Who's right in this war of words between the two young stars?

We’ve got a new beef in the music industry and this time it’s between two very unlikely suspects: Lorde and Selena Gomez.

As you may recall, in late September,  Lorde called out Gomez for the lyrics in her hit, “Come And Get It,” saying Gomez was anti-feminist for recording a song that leaves her passively waiting for her man to come and get it.

“I’m a feminist, and the theme of her song is, ‘When you’re ready come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed this way,” said the then-16-year old Lorde in a radio interview. She also called Taylor Swift a bad role model because she’s “too flawless.”

Gomez has now responded to Lorde in an interview with Flaunt. She doesn’t so much defend her song, which she didn’t write,  as politely tell Lorde that cutting down your fellow sisters is the ultimate anti-feminist act: “That’s not feminism,” she says. “[Lorde is] not supporting other women. That’s my honest opinion, that’s what I would say to her if I saw her.” Selena Gomez says she’s a fan of Lorde. “I actually covered her song in all of my shows that I’ve done so far. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue that.”

In one corner we had a teenager who has seen a meteoric rise to fame in a matter of months who is happy to shoot off her mouth when asked and in the other we have a 21-year old who grew up on TV and in the public eye and is more used to the politics one plays in the entertainment industry. 

I wasn’t a fan of Gomez’s song—but not because of the passive lyrics, more because I don’t think it’s a good tune— but I remember being a teenage girl and wanting to flex your muscles with all your might before you really understand what you’re engaging in, so I certainly see where Lorde is coming from. Although if she listened to some of Gomez's other songs, she'd find Gomez takes a stronger and more active position in a number of them. Plus, a song reflects a particular mood, a moment in time, that's fleeting. It's best not to take some of these things so seriously.

Gomez’s response is measured, but she’s also right. In the truest sense, feminism means supporting other women. It’s not blind support and it doesn’t mean you’re always rooting for your fellow females no matter what they say, but there are ways to level your criticisms in a way that still shows you know we’re all in this together.

Who’s side are you on?

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Album Review: Lady Gaga needs more pop than art on 'Artpop'

Album Review: Lady Gaga needs more pop than art on 'Artpop'

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It's a spacy, cold album badly in need of more heart and fun

In many ways, Lady Gaga has always been a performance artist posing as a pop act these last few years. On her newest studio effort, “Artpop,” out Nov. 11, she concentrates more on the art, than the pop, and the album is worse for it.

The majority of “Artpop” is a meditation on fame, culture, fashion, sex, drugs, music and pop art (hence the Jeff Koons cover). That high-flying intersection may be where Lady Gaga lives now, but it’s feels like the end of lonely street. Largely cold and soulless (at least until the final few songs)—whether from the clinical, loud, electronic production or from Lady Gaga’s often mannered delivery and stilted lyrics —”Artpop” is for her the Little Monsters who loudly embrace their outside status buffeted by the shelter of Momma Monster’s umbrella.  In some ways, Lady Gaga can be applauded for making an album that in no way aims for radio acceptance (though first single, “Applause” found it), but it’s going to be a hard sell to her mainstream fans.

Even when she’s poking fun at herself, as she does on “Mary Jane Holland”: “I know at the moment they think I’m a mess/but its alright because I’m rich as piss,” she sings, there’s a part that rings true. She used to be one of us, but now she is one of them, even if she wants to joke that she’s not. And don’t get me started on the pretension of having an album title in all caps.

Some of Lady Gaga’s biggest hits, like “Bad Romance,” or “Paparazzi” have featured different patches of songs stitched together, bonded by her mannered vocals. Along the beats or weird synths, there was usually a melodic chorus that glued the whole song together. That happens far less often here and the result is an collection of songs that sounds intentionally cacophonous and chaotic. She may be saying exactly what she wants to about the state of pop culture, but that doesn’t mean we’ll want to listen.

Working with a phalanx of producers here, from DJ White Shadow to Zedd, David Guetta, will.i.am, RedOne, Madeon and even Rick Rubin, what Lady Gaga could have really used here was a great editor to craft her ambition a little more tightly.

Track-by-track review of “Artpop”:


Aura: The opening salvo, also heard in “Machete Kills” is a campy, fun invitation to go on this trip with Lady Gaga and see her naked underneath the covers.  The shape-shifting song opens with a sultry voice over by Gaga that recalls Shirley Bassey before switching to a kitschy, synth-laden, stuttering vocal portion. Eventually it moves into a catchy sung portion, where she questions if you want to see the girl who lives behind the aura. Rinse and repeat. Final word: Artpop. Welcome to the album.  GRADE: B

Venus:  Go on an interplanetary journey with the goddess of love in this trippy, EDM number around the planets. Sample lyric: “Uranus, don’t you know my ass is famous?”  There’s a great disco tune in here centered around the “When you touch me I die...This could be love” chorus, but it gets buried in the space mission. Fun fact: “Venus” samples Zombie Zombie’s cover of Sun Ra’s “Rocket Number Nine.”  GRADE: B

G.U.Y.: From Venus, we go to Eros, Greek god of love. “Let me be the girl under you that makes you cry,” she sings in this dancey track that features a refrain redolent, but less catchy, than “Bad Romance. She’s still on her space travels, but this track feels far more weighed down by its clunkiness. GRADE: C

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<p>Zac Brown at the CMAs</p>

Zac Brown at the CMAs

Dave Grohl jams with Zac Brown Band on freewheeling 'Day for the Dead' on CMAs: Watch

Is this what their Grohl-produced album will sound like?

In case you’re wondering what Zac Brown Band’s new music, produced by Dave Grohl, will sound like, we got the first listen Wednesday night when the Foo Fighter joined ZBB to perform “Day For The Dead” at the CMA Awards.

The jam rock song has, appropriately enough, slight Grateful Dead-like guitar line, but with Grohl behind the drums, it quickly took on a hard rock vibe. It’s a chugging ramble of the song, especially at the 3-minute mark, when it goes into a round before slamming back into full-on rock mode, complete with fiddles.

In an edited version, the song could fit in at radio. No word yet on it if is a potential single.

Hitfix broke the news last week about Grohl producing Zac Brown Band
.

Zac Brown Band weren't the only ones rocking out at the Country music awards ceremony: Eric Church introduced a new song, "The Outsiders," tonight that ha a wicked guitar solo straight out of a metal song in the middle.

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