<p>Cover art for Britney's latest</p>

Cover art for Britney's latest

Credit: RCA

Britney Spears' 'Work Bitch': What are the critics saying?

We round up the good, bad and oh-so-ugly reviews

Britney Spears’ new single, “Work Bitch,” dropped 24 hours earlier than expected, leaving reviewers scrambling on Sunday night. Now that the dust has settled a little, we’ve collected a sampling of the reviews and they are definitely mixed. We’ve sorted them into Good, So-So and Bad (if not downright ugly). After a few listens, I fall in the so-so camp. Good for Spears for saluting her dance following, but it feels like she’s a guest on her own single to me (although HitFix editor Gregory Ellwood is much fonder of it than I am). Plus, Spears has tweeted about how this album is so personal, so maybe my expectations were for something totally different. However, by now, we all know not to judge an album by its first single since that’s often thrown out just to get the conversation started, and Brit Brit certainly did that.


THE GOOD

IDOLATOR: Spears sets high, rap-informed standards for those who dare to reckon with her glittering, Vegas-informed reality: “You want a Bugatti? You want a Maserati? You better work, bitch.” (She should call Ace Hood sometime.) And as the propulsive club banger gains steam to skittering, lawn-sprinkler synths, the pop diva dares to sing, “Go call the police! Go call the governor!” with traces of a British accent. Early critics were right — that part of “Work Bitch” really is the best, albeit just one of several great quotable lines here.


DIRECTLYRICS.COM: Is "Work Bitch" the new motivational anthem of our generation?. Hell yeah! Whether you're depressed at home, on your way to work, at the gym, or letting yourself go in a club, Britney Spears' new single is the perfect the song for you. It will get you pumped up right away...The track is trance, pop, spacey, fist-pumping, massive, loud, infectious, catchy, and I could keep going with the adjectives. Britney's trademark singing, and the return of her British accent, complete the amazingness of "Work Bitch".


HOLLYWOOD LIFE: Brit is back sounding amazing with her new hit song, ‘Work B**ch,’ and we are so obsessed already. Honestly, we haven’t loved a song of hers this much since ‘Circus!’ Nice come back, girl!It is safe to say that this isn’t the Britney we’re used to hearing. Coming in fierce with a dance club beat that almost feels like an alarm, Britney does more commanding than singing, as she repeatedly tells someone that they “better work, bi**h.” It’s sort of like a more adult way of saying, “Come and get it.”


THE SO-SO


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:The will.i.am-produced song — which clocks in at a robust (for Britney) four-plus minutes — is tailor-made for the dance floor. Spears lets listeners know that, whatever they want in life, whether it be a Bugatti, a Maserati, or a hot body: “You better work, bitch.”

ROLLING STONE: The pounding dance track, which features mostly spoken lyrics, serves as a testament to the fine things a strong work ethic can bring about. "You want a hot body, you want a Bugatti, you want a Maserati?" Spears asks. "You better work, bitch."

POP JUSTICE: It recalls the attitude of ‘Blackout’, but in a song crafted for a post-EDM pop landscape. This record wouldn’t sound like it does if EDM hadn’t happened, but at the same time it’s a Britney track first and foremost. The most exciting bit is the middle eight which goes all epic and spacey with some proper hands-in-the-lasers lyrics.

THE GUARDIAN: As with last year's collaboration with will.i.am, "Scream & Shout," "Work Bitch" feels slightly like a cluster of phrases and bits of melody hunting for a song to attach themselves to, although the overall result is much more appealing. Over a thundering electronic riff and a relentless jackhammer beat, Britney lists various things you'll need to work quite hard in order to achieve: "You wanna live fancy, live in a big mansion, party in France? You better work bitch". It's a sweary motivational anthem from an over-zealous life coach basically, with Britney challenging the listener to get the law involved ("go call the po-lice, go call the guv-a-nah"), but aware that they probably won't be able to help ("I am the guv-a-nah"). It's a pretty relentless onslaught that reflects pop's current love for chucking in everything up to and including the kitchen sink, but there's enough of Britney's personality – the myriad vocal tics, the ridiculous middle-eight breakdown bit – to make sure she hasn't been fully obliterated by will.i.am's production sledgehammer.


THE UGLY

UNDER THE GUN: The pop icon who kickstarted the a new wave of solo female acts at the end of the 1990s is doing whatever she can to keep her career alive with a trendy, albeit completely forgettable single that leaves a lot to be desired.Hitting the net Sunday (9/15), the long-awaited return of the girl who did it again is nothing more than a derivative, EDM-eccentric track that carries almost no unique qualities whatsoever when stacked against everything at radio right now. It’s slick, dance floor ready music meant for clubs that will sell to diehard fans and people trying to keep their workout playlists current while preparing to battle winter weight gain.


SLANT: Co-written and produced by will.i.am, the song finds the singer vamping in the same faux-continental accent she dubiously employed on the pair's recent Top 5 hit "Scream & Shout"—or is it just a ghastly attempt at British? "Work Bitch" follows the current EDM model of painfully aggressive, treble-heavy beats, harsh synths, and tuneless hooks, but makes even "Scream & Shout" sound like a melodic feast. At its best, that song plays like an homage to dance music's recent past, with nods to Underworld's "Born Slippy" and even Spears's own "Gimme More"; "Work Bitch," on the other hand, seems to aspire to classic bitch-queen anthems, but Spears's repeated instructions to "work, work, work" (to reach, if the cover art is any indication, the desired Nomi Malone levels of success) feel mechanical and forced.

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<p>Miley and Britney on the SMS (Bangerz)&nbsp;cover art</p>

Miley and Britney on the SMS (Bangerz) cover art

Credit: RCA

5 Observations from Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears' 'SMS (Bangerz)' cover art

Don' look too closely at Spears' hand

We don’t know if Miley Cyrus couldn’t stand for the spotlight to shift off of her for a minute or if she decided to smartly take advantage of the wave of publicity Britney Spears received after new single, “Work Bitch,” leaked yesterday, but Cyrus struck while the Spears iron was hot.  On Sunday night, she tweeted the cover for their duet, “SMS (Bangerz),” which is also the title track of Cyrus’s new album, out Oct. 4.

Here are five observations from the cover:
 

1. Both Spears and Cyrus are capable of posing with clothes on. Yes, Spears in in a mini dress and Cyrus is in a very short trench coat, but otherwise, both ladies are completely covered up... so much so, they could almost wear these outfits to church without melting the minute they approached the altar...as long as they didn't bend over.

2. Miley can pose without sticking out her tongue, though she clearly has to be doing something else with her mouth: in this case, pensively biting a nail

3. Miley may or may not be shooting us the bird. Check out the position of her middle finger on her left hand by he mouth. If so, it’s the subtlest gesture she’s ever made.

4. On the other hand, literally, Spears seems to be missing digits or is the victim of some bad photo shopping. She and Cyrus have both formed a circle with their thumb and index fingers, with Cyrus’s by her mouth and Spears forming a Junior Birdman monocle over her right eye, but try to find Spears’ other fingers on right hand other than her pinky (and possibly her fourth finger). It will start to weird you out if you look for too long.

5. The “SMS (Bangerz)” cover follows the same ‘Miami Vice”/‘80s pastel vibe of the album cover, and, in fact, features Cyrus in the same pose (just flipped) and with the same trees in the background. She’s working a theme or they really didn’t want to do different photo shoots.

What do you think of the "SMS (Bangerz)" cover?

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An animated Eric Hutchinson

An animated Eric Hutchinson

Exclusive: Download Eric Hutchinson's live album for free

Watch his hilarious animated video for 'Amsterdam/Shine on Me' here first

We at Hitfix are big fans of singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson. In fact, his 2012 top 10 hit, “Watching You Watch Him,” was our No. 5 single of 2012.

So we’re very excited to announce that Hutchinson is releasing a new live album, “Almost Solo In NYC,” today and, even better, it is free to the first 1 million fans. Take that Jay Z and Samsung.

Fans get a free download of "Almost Solo in NYC" by sharing it. Go to www.erichutchinson.com and click on the Pay with a Tweet button to unlock the free download.

“I couldn't sleep after the first show on The Almost Solo Tour, it was such a buzz doing the songs stripped and just hanging out with the audience. I wanted to do this forever. Just the audience and the music. So, I recorded a live album on the tour,” says Hutchinson. “I love the idea of giving this album away for free as a thank you to all the amazing people who have supported me through the years.”

Hutchinson recorded “Almost Solo in NYC”  last fall at City Winery during his sold-out tour of intimate venues. Accompanied only by longtime band member/multi-instrumentalist Elliott Blaufuss, Hutchinson ran through a number of his most beloved tunes from his first two albums, including “Rock & Roll, “OK, It’s Alright With Me,” and, of course, “Watching You Watch Him,” as well as a new song, “Shine On Me,’ and a cover of Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

The album also includes Hutchinson’s now famous between-song patter, including his tale of selling out to Red Lobster, “Watching You Eat Shrimp,” and his ode to annoying his New York neighbors as he wrote songs, “I’m A Foot Stomper.”

Hitfix is exclusively premiering the adorable and funny animated video for “Amsterdam/Shine On Me,” during which Hutchinson describes exactly what happened to him when he partook of a certain delight in the Dutch city, before launching into the new song.

To herald the release of “Almost Solo in NYC,” Hutchinson will play two gigs: Oct 3 at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley, and Oct. 9 at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall.

Almost Solo In New York City - Track Listing


1) Ok, It's Alright With Me
2) I'm a Foot Stomper *
3) Watching You Watch Him
4) Watching You Eat Shrimp *
5) Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
6) Emo in College *
7) Breakdown More
8) Outside Villanova
9) Amsterdam *
10) Shine On Me
11) Rock & Roll

*Spoken word tracks
 

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<p>Miley Cyrus</p>

Miley Cyrus

Credit: John Shearer/AP

Music Power Rankings: Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars top this week's edition

What did Morrissey and Vince Gill do to make the list too?

1. Miley Cyrus: She sets the Vevo record for most video views in 24 hours with her new song, “Wrecking Ball.” Somewhere, Bruce Springsteen laments that he didn’t pose nude in the video for his song, “Wrecking Ball.”

2. Bruno Mars: We hadn’t heard of Mars five years ago and now he’s playing the biggest show in town: the Super Bowl half time. And he’s going to tear it up like a gorilla.

3. Morrissey: Moz pulls his autobiography mere days before its publication. He heard his editor was eating a cheeseburger and yanked the project.

4. Vince Gill: Other artists have certainly confronted the yobs from Westboro Baptist Church (including Ke$ha’s dancers), but certainly no one has done it with more humor and defiance and right-on-point messaging than the country superstar. “I wanted to see what hate looked like,” just about sums it up.

5. Apple: iTunes will launch iTunes Radio on Sept. 18. Every station comes with a cheap plastic tuner.

6. Sigur Ros: Icelandic band will appear on season 4 of “Game Of Thrones.” I’m sure if I’d watched even one episode of “GoT,” I’d be able to make a joke here.

7. Kacey Musgraves: The country artist stuns Nashville by leading nominations for the CMA Awards with six as one of the freshest voices to come out of country in a long time shows that you don’t have to write fluff and dress like Barbie to have success.

8. K.D. Lang: The gorgeous-throated singer will make her Broadway debut in “After Midnight,” a new musical about the Cotton Club. How could that voice not have been heard on the Great White Way yet?

9. Billy Joel and Carlos Santana:
The veteran music starts are among the elite five to receive Kennedy Center Honors. Don’t you want to see Obama jam on “Captain Jack” and “Smooth?”

10. David Bowie: His acclaimed “The Next Day” is one of 12 albums competing for Britain’s Mercury Prize. Don’t be surprised if it’s one of the five titles competing for an album of the year Grammy in a few months.


 

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Grammys 2014: Best New Artist contenders pit Macklemore & Ryan Lewis vs. everyone else
Credit: AP Photo

Grammys 2014: Best New Artist contenders pit Macklemore & Ryan Lewis vs. everyone else

Nope it's not too early to speculate

The Grammy nominations won’t be announced until December, but an important date is coming up: the eligibility period ends Sept. 30. So as that date approaches, we look at some of the leading contenders for Best New Artist. It’s not as strong a field as last year, and, in fact, we’ll go out on a limb and say that it’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s to lose, but there are always some wild cards in the category.

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<p>Keith Urban</p>

Keith Urban

Credit: Donn Jones/AP

Keith Urban's 'Fuse' will ignite the Billboard 200 next week

Country superstar's title will be one of seven debuts

It’s another big week for the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 as seven of the Top 10 will likely be debuting titles.

Leading the pack with a lock on No. 1 is Keith Urban’s “Fuse” (read our review here), which will be the only title to sell more than 100,000. Hits Daily Double forecasts it will top out at around 105,000. 

Bowing at No. 2 will likely be The Weeknd’s “Kiss Land” at 95,000.  The numbers drop off drastically for 2 Chainz’ “B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time,”  which will probably come in at No. 3 with sales of 55,00-60,000.

Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” hangs on at No. 4, surrounded by debuts, as Janelle Monae’s “The Electric Lady” lights up the chart at No. 5 (45,000-50,000).

The debuts continue in the bottom 5, as Arctic Monkeys’ Mercury Prize-nominated “AM” bows at No. 6 (35,000-40,000) and Sheryl Crow’s first country album, “Feels Like Home,” at No. 7 (30,000-35,000).

This week’s No. 1 album, Ariana Grande’s “Yours Truly” and the No. 2 album, Tamar Braxton’s “Love & War,” slide to Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, while vintage R&B group Earth Wind & Fire comes in at No. 10 with “Now, Then & Forever.”

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<p>Robin Thicke performing in Malaysia</p>

Robin Thicke performing in Malaysia

Credit: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin

Robin Thicke sets tour dates for 2014

Jessie J and DJ Cassidy are onboard

Robin Thicke will take “Blurred Lines” on the road early next year.

The theater tour starts Feb. 21 at Atlanta’s Fox Theater, before wrapping five weeks and 15 dates later in March 29 at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The tour is concentrated primarily on the east coast, although it does hit a few midwest cities before ending on the west coast. Missing? Cities like Los Angeles and any city in the south.

Opening the shows will be Jessie J and DJ Cassidy.

Tickets go on sale Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. If you feel like combining your love for Thicke with your love for good causes, Thicke has partnered with Tickets for Charity to sell specific seats with proceeds going to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Natural Resources Defense Council. Those can be found at www.ticketsforcharity.com.

In related “Blurred Lines” news, co-writer (and performer) Pharrell told the Associated Press that he sees no similarity between the mega hit, which spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100, and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” Thicke has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to preemptively rule that “Blurred Lines” does not infringe on the Gaye classic. “If you read music, all you have to do is read the sheet music. It’s completely different,” Pharrell said.


Robin Thicke Tour dates

February 21                        Atlanta, GA                         Fox Theatre
February 25                        Camden, NJ                        Susquehanna Bank Center                
February 27                        Washington, DC                Patriot Center
March 1                                Mashantucket, CT           MGM Grand Theatre
March 2                                Atlantic City, NJ                 Borgata
March 4                                Boston, MA                        Agannis Arena
March 7                                New York, NY                    Theatre at MSG
March 12                             Detroit, MI                          Fox Theatre
March 15                             St. Louis, MO                     Fox Theatre
March 20                             Austin, TX                            ACL Live at The Moody Theater
March 21                             Thackerville, OK                Winstar Casino      
March 23                             Denver, CO                         Fillmore Auditorium
March 26                             Seattle, WA                        WAMU Theater
March 27                             Vancouver, BC                  Rogers Arena
March 29                             San Francisco, CA             Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: AP Photo

Kelly Clarkson has full country album in the works

Set will follow holiday release

With “Tie It Up” doing well at country radio, Kelly Clarkson finally confirmed that she is doing what we all suspected: recording an entire country album.Not only that, she’s almost done with it!

She told Albany, N.Y. radio station WGNA, “We’ve almost made a whole record.” In fact, being on tour with Maroon 5 this summer is the only thing between Clarkson and the finished album.

Clarkson, who also has a holiday album, “Wrapped In Red,” coming in A few weeks, says she expects to pivot back and forth between country and pop. “With Jewel and Sheryl Crow, they kinda quit pop and came over the country,” she said. “I love both. I don’t necessarily know if I have one foot it it and one foot in the other.” Well, actually, Kels, that sounds exactly like what you have.  The "American Idol" winner has already won the Academy of Country Music Awards covered Vocal Event of the Year for “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” her No. 1 duet with Jason Aldean.

Check out the full interview with Kelly Clarkson here.
 

 

 

 

 

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Incubus' Mike Einziger on working with Avicii, The Internet and 'The Lone Ranger'

Incubus' Mike Einziger on working with Avicii, The Internet and 'The Lone Ranger'

When will we get a new Incubus album?

When Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger got the call that superstar DJ/producer Avicii (aka Tim Bergling) wanted to meet with him, he admits he wasn’t sure why. “I wasn’t too familiar with Tim’s world, and, also, specifically with Tim’s music. I knew the song ‘Levels,’ and I knew him as an electronic music producer, but I didn’t know how that would work with what I do.”

The answer, it turns out, is fabulously. The two co-wrote “Wake Me Up,” the first single from Avicii’s “True,” out Sept. 17. With its foot-stomping, hand-clapping, acoustic appeal (anchored by a fierce beat), “Wake Me Up” has soared to No. 1 in more than 22 countries and has become Bergling’s first Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

[More after the jump...]

 

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<p>A moment from Icona Pop's new video</p>

A moment from Icona Pop's new video

Credit: Atlantic Records

Icona Pop pays homage to 'Paris Is Burning' in new 'All Night' video: Watch

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Swedish duo's debut album comes out Sept. 24

Icona Pop pays homage to ‘80s movie, “Paris is Burning,” in its new video for “All Night.”  The original film celebrated the culture of drag balls in New York, many of which focused on the African-American and Latino transgender community.

Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo perform the peppy, synthetic tune in a night club as the dancers swirl around them. The live footage is intercut with interviews with the drag artists talking about the community created by the balls. The drag queens are far more interesting than Icona Pop, and we’re quite sure the duo wouldn’t have it any other way.

After having to scrap the first several dates of its U.S. tour after Jawo fell ill, including an appearance at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival, the “I Love It” pair continues a U.S. club tour tonight in Chicago. The tour wraps in Brooklyn on Sept. 25.

On Sept. 24, Atlantic Records will release the act’s debut album, “This Is...Icona Pop.” Icona Pop will appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Sept. 25 and “The Today Show” on Sept. 26.

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