<p>Mariah Carey</p>

Mariah Carey

Credit: AP Photo

Mariah Carey and Major League Baseball team up for free Central Park concert

July 13 event will benefit Superstorm Sandy relief efforts

Mariah Carey will appear at a free concert in New York City’s Central Park on July 13.

Major League Baseball is putting on the performance, which will take place on the Great Lawn, and will benefit Superstorm Sandy relief. It takes place three days before the 2-13 MLB All-Star Game at New York’s Citi Field.

Carey will join the New York Philharmonic, who will perform two sets of baseball-themed music, including Randy Newman’s score from “The Natural” and Mark Isham’s score from “42.” Carey will then come out and sing her greatest baseball-themed hits. We kid about the last part: she’ll perform a mix of hits, as well as tunes from her new album, out, “The Art of Letting Go,” which will come out July 23. In conjunction with the concert, MLB will make a $1 million donation to Sandy Relief efforts.

Tickets are free, but each attendee must have a ticket. Free general admission tickets will be available starting June 26 at Allstargame.com/Concert.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Music Power Rankings: Kanye West, Rihanna and Taylor Swift duke it out

Rihanna and Jay-Z also make the list

1. Kanye West: He becomes a dad to North and releases a new album called “Yeezus.”  Who knew the baby’s name would make “Yeezus” sound like the sensible choice.

2. J Cole: He moved up the release of “Born Sinner” to June 18 to go head-to-head with Kanye West and will likely come in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. That’s all well and good, but don’t bother us until you’re dating a Kardashian.

3. Taylor Swift:
Her fans quickly put the kibosh on an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt that stated “# more boyfriends than t.s.” after T-Swift’s fans raise a ruckus. If A&F keeps making folks mad, we won’t have to worry about their clothes ever again.

4. Rihanna:
She surpasses Justin Bieber  as most viewed artist on YouTube. At least online viewers know she'll go on on time.

5. Black Sabbath:
Heavy metal gods score their first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Rock and roll horns all around!

6. “The Voice”:
The fourth season ends. Quick, we know you can name the four judges, but can you name the winner?

7. Nine Inch Nails:
David Lynch signs on to direct the group’s video for “Came Back Haunted.”  I’m already having nightmares and I haven’t even seen it.

8. Florida Georgia Line:
The country duo’s “Here’s To The Good Times” finally hits No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart, making it the first album in more than a year to hit the top spot without debuting there. Maybe it was just on “Cruise” control.

9. Jay Z He signs a ground-breaking deal to distribute 1 million copies of “Magna Carta Holy Grail” to Samsung phone owners. He’s definitely writing his own charter.

10. P.  Diddy:
He inks a  national distribution deal with Time Warner Cable for Revolt TV, his music cable network, and announces he will put out less music to concentrate on the venture. Sounds like a win-win for every one.


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<p>J Cole's &quot;Born Sinner&quot;</p>

J Cole's "Born Sinner"

Credit: Columbia Records

Kayne West and J Cole battle for No. 1 on Billboard 200 next week

Mac Miller and Kelly Rowland also make strong debuts

It’s a hip-hop-alooza on next week’s Billboard 200 with three rap acts debuting in the top 3 slots for the first time since 2006.

As expected, Kanye West’s “Yeezus” will come in at No. 1 with sales of up to 385,000. It’s a great number, to be sure, but estimates had originally been as high as 500,000, so it’s a little less than expected.

Cole’s “Born Sinner” will come in at No. 2, moving up to 305,000 units. Cole moved up his album’s release a week to go head-t0-head with West, and in any other week those numbers would have easily won him the top slot.  Mac Miller’s “Watching Movies With the Sound Off” comes in at No. 3, moving up to 105,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

The only other act to bow in the top 10 is ex-Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, whose “Talk A Good Game” looks good for No. 4 at 65,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

This week’s No. 1, Black Sabbath’s “13,” drops to No. 5, while former No. 1 “Random Access Memories” from Daft Punk lands at No. 6. Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” after rising to No. 3 this week, slides back to No. 7. Three country titles round out the Top 10: Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s To The Good Times” falls 5-8,  Hunter Hayes’s self-titled set, re-released as a deluxe album titled “Encore,” zooms to No. 9 and Darius Rucker’s “True Believers”  falls to No. 10.


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<p>Nine Inch Nails rehearsing earlier in June</p>

Nine Inch Nails rehearsing earlier in June

Credit: Rob Sheridan

Nine Inch Nails reveals track listing for 'Hesitation Marks'

Guests include Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham

Nine Inch Nails has revealed the track listing for “Hesitation Marks,” out Sept. 3.

In addition to first single, “Came Back Haunted,” the rest of the titles hint at the sense of restless discontent (to put it mildly) the group is known for, including “The Eater of Dreams,” “Disappointed,” “All Time Low,” “Various Methods of Escape,” and “Black Noise.”

Nine Inch Nails head Trent Reznor produced the album with his composing partner Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder. Among the guests are Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, bassist Pino Palladino, and guitarist Adrian Belew, who dropped out of the band, according to Rolling Stone.

The group has a number of dates on its slate before the new album, including Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

1) "The Eater of Dreams" 
2) "Copy of A" 
3) "Came Back Haunted" 
4) "Find My Way" 
5) "All Time Low" 
6) "Disappointed" 
7) "Everything" 
8) "Satellite" 
9) "Various Methods of Escape" 
10) "Running" 
11) "I Would for You" 
12) "In Two" 
13) "While I'm Still Here" 
14) "Black Noise"



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<p>Bruce Springsteen</p>

Bruce Springsteen

Credit: AP Photo/Starpix, Dave Allocca

Bruce Springsteen plays 'Born To Run' for James Gandolfini

E Street Band's Steven Van Zandt also remembers his 'Sopranos' co-star

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band paid homage to James Gandolfini Thursday in Coventry, England by playing the “Born To Run” album in full for the the actor, who died Wednesday (19) in Rome.

[More after the jump...]


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<p>Lady Gaga meets Cher</p>

Lady Gaga meets Cher

Credit: MTV

Cher says Lady Gaga duet won't see light of day

Why won't we hear 'The Greatest Thing?'

Cher’s duet with Lady Gaga, “The Greatest Thing,” apparently is not... or at least, not to Lady Gaga.

[More after the jump...]


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<p>Skylar Grey</p>

Skylar Grey

Credit: Skylargreymusic.com

Exclusive: Go behind the scenes on Skylar Grey's debut album

How did Eminem's 'Love The Way You Lie' come about?

Skylar Grey’s solo album has been a long time in coming. In this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip, the singer/songwriter takes you to her Oregon cabin where she wrote  “Love the Way You Lie,” her massive hit for Eminem and Rihanna, as well as talks about the making of her new album, “Don’t Look Down,” out July 9.

[More after the jump...]

 “The beginning half of the album-writing process, I was really focused on my journey, when I was living in Oregon in that cabin and really coming into this new version of me,” she reveals. “It was there that I experimented with my sound and figured out who I wanted to be as an artist."

It’s easy to see why she found inspiration in Oregon: the scenery is breathtaking.  While living there, she sent producer Alex Da Kid the hook for “Love The Way You Lie,” and “my whole life changed,” she says. That led to her own album, executive produced by Eminem and Alex Da Kid.

Even though this is her debut album, Grey has already amassed five Grammy nominations and, in addition to co-writing “Love The Way You Lie,” co-wrote Dr. Dre’s  “I Need A Doctor,” and wrote Cee-Lo’s single, “Only You.”  “Don’t Look Down’s” cheeky first single, “C’mon Let Me Ride,”  came out last December.  “Wear Me Out” is the current track.

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<p>James Gandolfini</p>

James Gandolfini

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

My brief encounter with James Gandolfini

Sometimes meeting your heroes works out great

“I’m Jim.”

That’s how James Gandolfini introduced himself to me and a friend when we approached— okay pounced— on him at a intimate party  in October.

We were at a private screening in a Hollywood Hills residence for “Not Fade Away,” David Chase’s valentine to rock and roll about a group of suburban New Jersey kids in the 1960s, who form a rock band and then fall into every trap possible.

It was one of those crazy times where you’re not even sure how you scored an invitation, but you’re just glad you did. There were about 60 of us, including Chase, music supervisor Steven Van Zandt, assorted actors in the movie, and other celebrities like Joe Perry and former “The Sopranos” writer/ “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner.

After we watched the movie in the screening room, there was a buffet  and that’s when I saw him.  He was standing alone in the kitchen, eating.

I have had a lot of crushes in my life, but James Gandolfini was a big one for me. I hated that I found a character as reprehensible as Tony Soprano attractive, but credit solely went to the way Gandolfini found his soul, an inner sadness and all his broken places, and gave this inhumane character humanity (Clearly, I wasn’t alone: TV Guide placed him 28 on its “50 Sexiest Stars of All Time” list).

As the gruff father in “Not Fade Away,” Gandolfini brought the same hurt. He took a man, so shattered by his own disappointments that he poured them all over his son. He was unwilling to let his boy fly because he was so bitter that he had remained tethered to the ground and given up his dreams. In a movie that had more than its share of cliches, Gandolfini’s portrayal stood out as authentic and heartfelt (He brought that same tough exterior/marshmallow interior to Carol, whom he voiced in “Where The Wild Things Are”).

I stared at him for a bit, trying to summon up my courage, and then I decided that I may never have a chance to talk to him again. So my friend and I  walked up to him, apologized for interrupting while he was eating, and introduced ourselves. He said his name was Jim and he was happy to meet us.

We talked about the movie and his portrayal and even specific scenes, including one where he says nothing but telegraphs every bit of desperation and fleeting hope he feels simply with a look.  If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

He told us the character came easily to him because he was playing his dad: all the frustration, hurt, anger, and disillusionment came from his father.  It’s one of those times when someone reveals something private to you and you don’t know whether to delve deeper or let it go. He made it clear that, as an adult, he'd made peace with his dad and understood him in a way that he didn't when he was growing up. He even asked us when we realized that our parents had to let go of some of their dreams, as if he really wanted to hear the answer. We switched to talking about his relationship with David Chase. He said it was a wonderful working one.  “David puts it all there on the page,” he said. He just had to bring it to life....as if that were the easy part.

He then asked us what we did and what brought us to the party. I told him I was a reporter, but not to worry, anything he said was off the record (well, until this point). I remember he laughed a kind of big bear laugh, and said, “I don’t give a shit,” in the sweetest possible way, like a man completely comfortable with himself. He might have said “I don’t give a f**k.” He used that word very liberally throughout our chat.

We talked about music and his upcoming roles and were in the middle of a very nice, easygoing conversation, the kind you rarely have at these types of events, when a publicist came up and stopped us so he could introduce Gandolfini to Dyan Cannon. What a true Hollywood moment.

We ceded our spot and while I was disappointed at first, I later realized it ended perfectly. There was no way I could have extricated myself because I didn’t want to, and I was probably only one moment away from breathlessly gushing a la Chris Farley’s “Saturday Night Live” character who asks if his guest remembers a certain performance and then can only muster up “That was so cool” instead of a question.

He was so nice and relaxed, generously speaking to anyone who approached, and, otherwise, hanging with his buddies. He eventually left and I was shocked to see that his wife had given birth to a baby girl the next day. He would have surely rather been home with his expectant wife that night, but instead he hung out with all of us, eager to do whatever he could to glad hand and talk about Chase’s labor of love.

I’ve met some of my musical heroes and been sorely disappointed and left wishing I’d let their music speak for them. My experience with Gandolfini couldn’t have been more the opposite. I’m so glad that I got the chance to tell him how much I appreciated his work.

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<p>Robin Thicke</p>

Robin Thicke

Credit: AP Photo

Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' remains atop the Billboard Hot 100

Imagine Dragons sets a record with 'Radioactive'

Blurred Lines” from Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell remains at No. 1 for a second week on Billboard’s Hot 100. It is also the No. 1 song on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart, with 371,000 downloads sold, as well as on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the R&B Songs charts.

Pharrell is also featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which rises 3-2, making Pharrell the first artist in four years to have songs at No. 1 and No. 1.  Black Eyed Peas achieved the feat as the main artists in 2009 with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling,” according to Billboard.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us” featuring Ray Dalton falls 2-3, while Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” moves 6-4, finally hitting the top 5 42 weeks after it first appeared on the chart and setting a new mark for the longest climb into the Top 5.  “Radioactive” drops Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” down one spot to No. 5.

Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” also slides down one place to No. 6 (while staying atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart for a 16th week). The remainder of the Top 10 stays the same: Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” featuring Nate Ruess is at No. 7, Selena Gomez’s “Come & Get It” at No. 8; Ariana Grande’s “The Way” featuring Mac Miller at No. 9 and Icona Pop’s “I Love It” featuring Charli XCX at No. 10.

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<p>Kelly Rowland's&nbsp;&quot;Talk a Good Game&quot;</p>

Kelly Rowland's "Talk a Good Game"

Credit: Republic Records

Kelly Rowland's 'Talk A Good Game': A track-by-track review

How does the Destiny Child's member's latest hold up?

On “Talk A Good Game,”  Kelly Rowland has a lot more than talking on her mind. The ex-Destiny’s Child member focuses on her R&B side on the new set, her first since 2011’s “Here I Am.”  The songs range from salutes to sex to her admission that she is jealous of her buddy/ Destiny’s Child mate Beyonce in a strikingly confessional tune. Though a few of the songs sound too similar, overall, it’s a striking showcase for Rowland’s voice.

We take you track-by-track through “Talk,” which is out today.

1. “Freak”: Rowland gets her freak on with this hand-clapping, synthetic track celebrating the fact that “everybody’s somebody’s freak.” She wants to be yours. Is someone seriously going to say no?  The song, produced by Nate “Danja” Hills, is as sexy as a robotic track can be.

2. “Kisses Down Low”: The seksi time continues with this ode to oral sex. It’s graphic enough that she’s giving instruction (“a little more to the left”). Produced by Mike Will Make It, the song is bolstered by a very deep-voiced man echoing some of the lyrics.  The sexually explicit will either turn you on or be just too much.

3. “Gone” featuring Wiz Khalifa: 
Built around Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” this sassy, break-up song is Rowland’s version of “Irreplaceable.” She gave him her heart, but he let it slip through his fingers and he’s going to be sorry in this mid-tempo, Harmony Samuels-produced track that has attitude to spare. Wiz Khalifa plays the boy who thinks she only wants to break up to make up. It’s a nice counterpoint and his giggle is infectious.

4. “Talk A Good Game” featuring Kevin Cossom:
The title track is a mid-tempo shuffler, produced by T-Minus, lamenting why love has to be so hard. A gun-shy Rowland doesn’t think she can “take another broken promise,” so before she gives her heart away again (remember, she’s getting over the heartbreak from the dude in “Gone”), she needs to know her next boy can be honest.

5. “Down On Love”:  She’s working a theme here as “Gone,” “Talk” and “Down” all deal with men who had disappointed her. The sleek, well-produced tune set to a military beat  show’s off Rowland’s vulnerable vocals as she professes she’s been down on love lately after another 5 a.m. call from her loser boyfriend has left her brokenhearted. The song subtly samples The Whispers’ “Rock Steady.”

6. “Dirty Laudry”: The track that everyone is talking about from “Talk.” In The-Dream-produced slow dirge-like jam, Rowland confesses to her jealousy of Beyonce post- Destiny’s Child, but that’s not the only revelation. She tells of an abusive relationship in a world-weary tone. And it sounds like Beyonce came to the rescue.  “When my sister was on stage killing it like a mother/I was enraged.... Bitter/Sweet, I was up/she was down....Meanwhile this snake putting his hands on me...”  It’s compelling and exhausting to listen to at the same time. There’s nothing else on the album that matches the vulnerable admissions here.

7. “You Changed” 
“Ladies, y’all want to do it again?” Beyonce asks in a sultry tone on this track that reunites Bey, Rowland and Michel’le Williams. The layered, mid-tempo groove is another “I’ve left you behind” tune, telling a guy to scram. It’s Beyonce’s song and the two others merely provide adornment, but’s nice to hear the three of them together again.

8. “I Remember”: This mid-tempo shuffler, propelled by a thumping beat, cries out for a dance remix, by her buddy David Guetta if not someone else.  In the track that showcases her voice to the best effect, she looks back at a relationship gone bad. With its layered vocals and sly, relentless beat, it’s one of the album’s strongest tunes.

9. “Red Wine”:  Another groove-driven track that relies more on atmospheric production and feel than a strong song. Rowland’s vocals float above the ethereal beats.

10. “This Is Love”: A slow-downed gauzy dance track, prefaced by an organ, finds Rowland finally giving in to love again “Don’t wake me/I must be dreaming,” she sings in the stutter beat song.  The album’s most unreservedly romantic tune.

11. “Street Life” featuring Pusha T:  Pharrell-produced tune, reminiscent of “In da Club” and Destiny Child’s “ Jumpin’, Jumpin”,” the track has an urban, swaying feel and an edge provided by Pusha T’s rap about a dope dealer. Sounds unlike anything else on the album.

12. “Stand In Front Of Me”:
Another slow jam about keeping your man satisfied. This one’s sweeter than it is explicit, but Rowland and Pharrell, who produced the track, hit all the right notes.  She could be talking about a proposal when she sings about “getting down on bended knee.”


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