<p>Lorde</p>

Lorde

Lorde is queen of the Billboard Hot 100 with 'Royals'

Is she the youngest person to reach the summit?

Lorde rules over the  Billboard Hot 100 as her hit single, “Royals,” rises 3-1 to become her first chart topper. 

The 16-year old New Zealander is the youngest solo artist to top the chart since Tiffany, who was also 16 when she did so in 1987.   The overall record belongs to Stevie Wonder, who was 13 when he took “Fingertips — Part 2” to the top in 1963. Wonder whatever became of him?

Lorde isn’t the only one with big chart news: Ylvis's“The Fox,” this year’s “Gangnam Style,” enters the Top 10, moving 13-8. Plus, Drake scores his first top 5 hit as a lead artist in more than 3 years as “Hold On, We’re Going Home” moves 7-4. The track, from Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same,” which hits No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, is one of 12 songs by Drake on the Hot 100. That ties the record for the most songs charted simultaneously by a solo artist: Lil Wayne achieved the same feat in 2011. The record for all artists belongs to The Beatles who charted 14 songs at the same time in 1964.

Katy Perry’s former No. 1, “Roar,” holds at No. 2, while Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball, ends its two-week run at No. 1 and drops to No. 3. Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” falls 4-5.

Rounding out the Top 10, Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” (featuring Justin Timberlake) stays at No. 6, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” falls 5-7, Lady Gaga’s “Applause” moves 8-9, despite a rise in airplay, and Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais’ “Summertime Sadness” also slips one to No. 10, and similarly gains in airplay.

 

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<p>Michael Jackson on his History tour</p>

Michael Jackson on his History tour

Credit: AP Photo

What the AEG verdict means for Michael Jackson and the music industry

Does it change his legacy?

Concert promoter AEG Live has been found not negligent by a Los Angeles jury for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to treat Michael Jackson and keep him healthy in preparation for his 50-date run at London's O2 Arena. Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, had sued AEG for up to $2 billion in a wrongful death trial following her son’s passing in 2009.

The jurors ruled that AEG did hire Murray, a point that AEG had contested despite evidence that the promoter was paying Murray’s $100,000/month, but that it was not negligent  for his death and will have to pay no damages to Jackson’s family. That's the right decision.

The jurors also found that Murray was not “unfit or incompetent” to do the job he was hired to do. In a narrow reading of some of the evidence, this means that the jury agreed that AEG hired Murray, but only to treat dehydration and other issues to keep tour ready, and  not to inject him with Propofol. Therefore, the promoter couldn’t be held responsible for the final result since Murray was acting outside of the scope for which AEG hired him. That ruling seemingly contradicts the criminal case verdict against Murray.


 What the ruling  means for several key parties:

What does it mean for Michael Jackson’s legacy? His most ardent fans will, undoubtedly, continue to blame Murray and AEG and anyone else for Jackson’s death, when the simple fact is that he was a drug addict, responsible for his own actions,  and his death is a sad, almost inevitable, result of years of prescription drug abuse. His glorious music and legacy lives on and nothing can ever change that.

What does it mean for Conrad Murray: His reputation is restored to a certain extent. In a criminal case he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and has been in jail (he will be released in three weeks). He is fighting to overturn California’s decision to revoke his license. Murray has maintained that he did not inject Jackson with the fatal dose of Propofol.

What does it mean for AEG Live?  The concert promoter will pay no damages to the Jackson family and will keep its reputation in tact, but the 21-week trial revealed to the world the extent to which a promoter will go to prepare/keep an act on the road when there is so much money involved. No, AEG did not tell Murray to give Jackson illegal drugs, but I believe they did turn a blind eye to Jackson’s health and whatever Murray was doing to make sure that Jackson showed up to rehearsals. Evidence presented in the case showed that Jackson was tremendously fragile-- he cried and wouldn’t come out of his dressing room to announce the London 02 Arena dates-- and his mental and physical state of health was a matter of constant concern and yet, no one suggested that maybe the concerts be postponed until he could get healthy.

What does it mean for the music industry?
See above, re: AEG, but it’s really just more of the same. As record sales continue to decline, touring income will become an ever bigger slice of the income pie for both artists and the industry. Therefore, we can probably see more examples (perhaps not with as big names as Jackson) where promoters do whatever it takes to keep artists on the road and keep the money train rolling. This is nothing new, but the AEG trial illuminated that promoters (and anyone who has skin in the game) see artists as cash cows more than as humans.

What’s next? Jackson’s family will likely appeal, but given that Jackson’s estate is, from many reports I’ve seen, in much better financial shape than it was when he died, and many felt that this suit was a money grab more than a true belief that AEG was at fault, maybe Jackson’s family--secure in the knowledge that money from Jackson’s legacy will continue to roll in-- can finally let him rest in peace.

What do you think of the verdict?

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'The Voice' winner Danielle Bradbery sets album release date

'The Voice' winner Danielle Bradbery sets album release date

Checking in on other past winners and contestants?

Danielle Bradbery, “The Voice’s” season 4 winner will release her self-titled album debut on Nov. 19 through Big Machine Records, home to artists like Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw.

No word yet on if the country project, produced by Dann Huff, features Blake Shelton, her mentor on “The Voice.” The two performed her first single,  “The Heart Of Dixie,” live on tour.  She will also appear, coincidentally enough, on an upcoming episode of the CW’s “Hart of Dixie.”

The 17-year old Bradbery is now set to hit the road with Brad Paisley on his “Beat This Summer” tour in the fine fall month of November.

Despite proving to be a rating bonanza, "The Voice" has not launched any careers into the stratosphere like "American Idol." Season one and two winners, Javier Colon and Jermaine Paul," have somewhat fallen off the map (neither has a major label deal), although season three winner (and fellow Team Blake contestant) Cassadee Pope is doing well at country radio with single "Wasting All These Tears"  and has her own reality show on "CMT."  Additionally, her debut album comes out Oct. 8.

Plus, runner ups Judith Hill, who stars in the  "Twenty Feet From Stardom" doc as well, will release her debut album on Sony next year and is on tour with Josh Groban, and Chris Mann is carving out a space for himself among traditional singers and has two PBS specials. 
 

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Watch: Lorde makes American television debut on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Watch: Lorde makes American television debut on 'Jimmy Fallon'

She sounds good on 'Royas' and 'White Teeth Teens'

Lorde made her television debut on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Tuesday night, performing her new minted No. 1 hit,  “Royals,” as well as album cut, “White Teeth Teens,” from her just released album, “Pure Heroine”  (read our review here).

The 16-year old New Zealander is definitely finding her performance style, which, from these clips, consists mainly of standing intensely in place, eyes usually closed, and waving one hand like a claw while the other clutches the microphone. She is lovely, but between the big hair and white outfit, it's a bit Bride of Frankenstein-ish.

Most importantly, she sounds good, which is, of course, the most important thing.  But she sure doesn’t seem to be having much fun.In a Billboard cover story last month her manager said she’d only done around 10 live gigs.  This may also be her style and it could develop into hypnotic and mesmerizing. We’re happy to give her the time to figure it out.


What do you think?

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<p>Britney says you betta...</p>

Britney says you betta...

Watch: Britney Spears is a kitten with a whip in 'Work Bitch' video

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Her hair extensions do excellent acting

Well, that’s certainly an interesting product placement: a woman uses a Beats Pill as a ball gag.  Yes, with approximately 29,895 or so shots of Britney Spears in her new video for “Work Bitch,”  the image of an extra is the one that I took away.  In part because it’s one of the more creative, if not repellant, ways I’ve seen a blatant product placement in a video and, quite frankly, it’s the most interesting thing in the video.

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<p>Miley Cyrus</p>

Miley Cyrus

Credit: RCA Records

Listen: Miley Cyrus's 'Bangerz' full-album stream

Hear it one week before its official release

Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz” goes comes out for another week, but fans can stream the album in full on iTunes.  Hear Cyrus's  the complete album here.

Featuring guests, including Britney Spears (on “SMS Bangerz”), Nelly (“4x4”), Future (My Darlin’”), Big Sean (“Love Money Party”) and French Montana (“FU”),  “Bangerz” was co-executive produced by Cyrus and Mike Will Made It.

The album’s first single, “We Can’t Stop,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, while second single, ballad “Wrecking Ball” is atop the singles chart currently.

"Bangerz" official release date is Oct. 8.

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<p>Justin Timberlake in concert</p>

Justin Timberlake in concert

Credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

Are the critics too harsh on Justin Timberlake's 'The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2?'

Do we expect too much from the multi-talented artist?

Do critics expect too much from Justin Timberlake? By and large, he is tremendously liked by most pundits and yet the reviews for “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2,” which came out yesterday, are mixed at best, and dismissive at worst.

I gave  "The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2" a B-. Several critics agree with my thought that between March’s “The 20/20 Experience” and “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2,” there is a fine album, but to stretch the 20-plus songs over two albums was too much. But I can’t help wondering if we all judge Timberlake a bit too harshly given how talented he is and hold him to an almost impossibly high standard because it seems like he can do everything really well. As I read these reviews, most of which are pretty tough, I wanted to defend JT for his willingness to experiment and try to do something new. Yet, at the same time, I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what was said.

See what you think after reading the review round-up  below.

Associated Press: "The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2" uses the same formula that's becoming his musical trademark — the trance-inducing grooves and futuristic electronic beats helmed by Timbaland and Timberlake, who co-wrote each song. Unfortunately it doesn't feel new. Like "FutureSex" and the first "20/20" album, the songs on "2 of 2" are long, but they aren't as entertaining or as cohesive as his first effort. Some tracks sound like leftovers from past recording sessions, and — dare we say it — actually drag on.


Consequence of Sound: The first half of Pt. 2 suffers because it’s the first time it appears that Justin Timberlake is actually trying. His first two records, his time with N*SYNC, his acting experiences, his Lonely Island collaborations, and even his Justin Vernon impression have always succeeded because of the air of effortlessness that surrounded him.


Los Angeles Times: Yet for all his newfound machismo, Timberlake — who heads out on tour again next month — is actually most convincing here at his softest, reaching back in a handful of songs to before the first "20/20 Experience." "Not a Bad Thing" is a dewy, blue-eyed soul number that sounds like it could've come from the final 'N Sync album...And "Pair of Wings," an unlisted acoustic track, closes the disc with a lovely (and unexpected) flash of modesty: "I know I can't save you from the troubles of the world," Timberlake sings in a near-whisper. "But if I could I'd fly you away on a big old pair of wings." Perhaps the sign of true power is knowing when not to use it.

People: This sequel – recorded during the same sessions as the first installment, with the same producers (Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon) – isn't just the collection of leftovers that it could have been. It stands as a stellar set in its own right. Although it can't top its more challenging, cohesive predecessor – a few songs run too long, and a couple maybe could have been dropped – this more singles-driven disc actually has more to satisfy fans of Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds.

Spin: The sequel rarely beats the original. Cinematic exceptions include the return of the Corleone family, the Empire striking back, and the encore early-'80s outing of a certain blue-tights-wearing beefcake superhero; musical exceptions don't really exist at all. Justin Timberlake's follow-up to the spring 2013 commercial juggernaut The 20/20 Experience won't change that. On The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, you won't find an aggressive, exotic foot stomper worthy of its predecessor's "Let the Groove Get In"; nor will you find a shimmering weeper like "Mirrors," or a mid-tempo burner that makes your shoulders twitch as vibrantly as "Pusher Love Girl." The end result is disappointing, but only slightly, in the same way virtually all other second comings let you down.

Hiphopdx: Instead of letting this "experience" marinate, Justin Timberlake made "The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2" a continuation to an album that didn't need a sequel.
Even the most talented artists don’t always know when to leave well enough alone. So when they don’t, they usually make the ill-fated mistake of over-extending their art, which proves to be unnecessary and at times, a hasty blunder. And unfortunately, that summarizes Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2.

Idolator: How “Pair Of Wings” and half the other songs on this album got through any vetting process and were deemed worthy follow-ups to Part 1, we may never know (hopefully that making-of will delve into it!). It’s the first real blemish on JT’s catalog, and more than disappointment, The 20/20 Experience – 2 Of 2 elicits frustration, because it was so unnecessary. Justin Timberlake didn’t need to do this, and that’s exactly how it sounds.

Chicago Tribune:
[Timberlake] and Timbaland aren’t satisfied just to create songs -- they want to make musical events. Many of the tracks are outfitted with lush orchestration and extended codas that at their best suggest a type of progressive pop or neo-soul music, but just as often come off as indulgent and tedious.

Is the press too harsh on Justin Timberlake? 
 

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<p>Jason Schwartzman announcing the first YouTube Music Awards</p>

Jason Schwartzman announcing the first YouTube Music Awards

Lady Gaga, Eminem and Arcade Fire set to appear on first YouTube Music Awards

Nov. 3 awards show will honor the most watched videos of the year

Lady Gaga, Eminem and Arcade Fire will perform at the first YouTube Music Awards.

Director Spike Jonze will serve as the creative direction of the the new awards show, which will take place Nov. 3 at New York’s Pier 36. Nominations for the awards, which will honor the most watched and shared videos, will be announced Oct. 17.  “We’re setting out to create a night that’s all about making things and creativity in the spirit of everyone that uses YouTube,” Jonze said in a statement. “As well as giving out awards, we’ll be making live music videos. The whole night should feel like a YouTube video itself.”

The awards show will also celebrate its homegrown stars such as violinist Lindsey Stirling, whose video channel has garnered more than 400 million views, and Cdza, the collective of NYC musical virtuosos, who debut a new wacky yet musically accomplished video experiment every other week such as “History of Lyrics That Aren't Lyrics” or “History of Wooing Women”

Jason Schwartzman will host the awards show, which will be live streamed around the world on YouTube. Check out his announcement video below.

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Review: Lorde's 'Pure Heroine' is a royal success
Credit: Universal Music

Review: Lorde's 'Pure Heroine' is a royal success

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New Zealand teen rides the line between observant and precious

Few artists have made such an initially strong impression as Lorde, the 16-year old New Zealand singer/songwriter. Her breakthrough, the finger-snapping, cynical “Royals” became the first song by a solo female to top Billboard’s Alternative chart in 17 years... longer than she’s been alive.

Her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” arrives today (30) and it’s a welcome reminder that most 16 year olds have a lot more on their minds than Disney would like us to believe. It’s not always sunny and not everyone is dreaming of which One Direction member they’d like to date.

While “Pure Heroine” sometimes drowns under the weight of its own pretension, most of the time Lorde sounds exactly like how a world-aware, savvy teenager should.

Most tracks are built around loops and beats that she created, and while few reach the insanely catchiness of “Royals,” there’s a lot here to sustain interest. On album opener, the snappy “Tennis Court,” she talks about smiling through the fear as she and her friends hide behind their fake images. It’s the high school in “Heathers” set to a beat.

On “Ribs,” which sounds like it could have been a Lana Del Rey cut, Lorde sings in a low smoky swirl of a voice, but it’s a little hard to take her seriously when she sings, “It’s feels so scary getting old.”
It may not be fair, but it’s almost impossible not to compare Lorde to last year’s “It” girl, Lana Del Rey. Both rely heavily on beats, an often breathy delivery, a certain insouciant mystery (Lorde told Billboard if it were up to her she’d never do interviews) and a made-up persona (Lorde’s real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor). Even though she’s younger, Lorde seems to already have her identity more clearly defined and she’s more self-assured than Del Rey. Plus, the hype preceded Del Rey’s radio success, whereas with Lorde, it was the reverse.

Some of the lyrics verge on the overly precious, as if she’s trying too hard: on the hypnotic “Buzzcut Season” she sings, “I remember when your head caught flame/I kissed your scalp and caressed your brain.” Yikes.
Too much of “Pure Heroine” sounds alike, so when a track like “White Teeth Teens” comes around with its militant, rat-a-tat drums and the kaleidoscope background singing, it’s a nice and needed change of pace.  “I’ll let you in on something big/I’m not a White Teeth Teen,” she sings, happy to be seen as the ultimate outsider.
 
Similarly, with “Team,” her voice rises over the beats, as she she sings in that way that only a teenage girl can: “I’m over being told to raise my hands up in the air/So there...”  “A World Alone” starts with a lonely guitar note, as she rides off in the car with an older boy. “Let them talk as we’re dancing in this world alone,” she sings.

If Lorde’s handlers can tamp down the hype and let her story continue to build, it will be fascinating to see where she goes as she develops to find her own voice. She’s off to an auspicious start, but we can hold off on the “voice of a generation” heaviosity for now.

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<p>Miley performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival</p>

Miley performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

Credit: Al Powers/Powers Imagery/Invision /AP

Listen: Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears' leaked 'SMS (Bangerz)' duet

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Is 'Bangerz' a bust?

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole on Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears’ highly anticipated “SMS (Bangerz),” which leaked today.

Sampling Salt N’ Pepa’s far superior “Push It,” the track, from Cyrus's forthcoming "Bangerz" album, is a very strange mixed bag.

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