<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Credit: Victoria Will/AP

Can John Mayer top Luke Bryan on next week's Billboard 200?

It's a crazy week with five debuts in the top 10

Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” holds off five newcomers on next week’s Billboard 200 to remain at No 1 for a second straight week.

After selling a staggering 528,000 (2013’s 3rd best opening tally), Bryan will see his weekly total drop to between 165,000-175,000, but that’s still enough to keep him in pole position.

John Mayer’s excellent “Paradise Valley,”  which includes a duet with Katy Perry, comes closest to knocking Bryan off his perch, but will likely have to settle for runner-up, with sales of up to 155,000. His last album, 2012’s “Born and Raised,” bowed at No. 1.

Mayer’s title is one of four debuts in the top 5. Coming at at No. 3 will be “Three Kings” (65,000-70,000) from TGT, the new group composed of Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank; Jimmy Buffett’s “Songs From St. Somewhere” (55,000-60,000) at No. 4, and Earl Sweatshirt’s “Doris” at No. 5 (50,000-55,000).

Robin Thicke’s former No. 1, “Blurred Lines” (45,000-50,000) slips to No. 6, “Now That’s What I Call Music” is at No. 7 (35,000-40,000). Rapper A$AP Ferg bows at No. 8 with “Trap Love”  (30,000-35,000). Disney’s soundtrack for “Teen Beach” is at No. 9 (30,000-35,000) and Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” at No. 10 (27,000-30,000), according to Hits Daily Double.

Just missing the top 10 are two more debuts: the latest from the Tedeschi Trucks Band at No. 11 and singer/songwriter Ben Rector at No. 12.

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<p>Justin Timberlake's 'Mirrors'</p>

Justin Timberlake's 'Mirrors'

Countdown to MTV's Video Music Awards: Video of the Year: Timberlake vs. Thicke

Will it be Justin Timberlake or Robin Thicke's year?

As MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards approach, we’ll countdown to the Aug. 25 ceremony, which airs live at 9 p.m. ET from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead the nominations with six each, closely followed by Bruno Mars, Pink, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Among the artists performing on the show are Lady Gaga, who will open the awards; Timberlake (with a rumored ‘N Sync reunion), Mars, and Cyrus.

We’ll look at a different category each day leading up to Aug. 25. Later this weekend, we'll list all our predictions, with some additions, in a video gallery.  Plus, look for full coverage of the VMAs, including live blogging, commentary, fashion best and worsts, and more on Sunday.
 

Video of the Year 
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, "Thrift Shop"
 Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
 Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"
 Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"

This is a race between “Blurred Lines” and “Mirrors.” “Mirrors” is the more artistic statement, although some may find the second half of Timberlake’s video a little pretentious. Some folks may also find “Blurred Lines” creepy, but not enough to keep it from winning here. One question: why isn’t Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” in this category?

Who Should Win: Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Who Will Win: Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines”
 

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<p>Marvin Gaye</p>

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye family turned down settlement from Robin Thicke: Report

Offer made before Thicke filed lawsuit to protect 'Blurred Lines'

Robin Thicke’s seemingly pre-emptive filing of lawsuit last week asking for a ruling that “Blurred Lines” does not infringe upon Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” and George Clinton’s “Sexy Ways” is suddenly making a lot more sense.

[More after the jump...]

 

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Watch: Pearl Jam's striking new video for 'Mind Your Manners'

Watch: Pearl Jam's striking new video for 'Mind Your Manners'

HitFix
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The Seattle band snarls through taut, cinematic clip

Pearl Jam captures man’s inhumanity to man and other living things in the video for “Mind Your Manners.” Directed by noted rock photographer Danny Clinch, the video opens with a quaint '50s film about the importance of manners before crashing into a Pearl Jam performance in front of a screen quickly cutting to different disturbing images.

[More after the jump...]

 

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<p>Kendrick Lamar in &quot;Swimming Pools&quot;</p>

Kendrick Lamar in "Swimming Pools"

Countdown to MTV's Video Music Awards: Best Hip-Hop Video

Drake and Kendrick Lamar compete against themselves in strong category

As MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards approach, we’ll countdown to the Aug. 25 ceremony, which airs live at 9 p.m. ET from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead the nominations with six each, closely followed by Bruno Mars, Pink, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Among the artists performing on the show are Lady Gaga, who will open the awards; Timberlake (with a rumored ‘N Sync reunion), Mars, and Cyrus.

We’ll look at a different category each day leading up to Aug. 25.

Best Hip Hop Video

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Drake, "Started From The Bottom"
Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools (Drank)"
A$AP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, "F--kin' Problems"
J. Cole feat. Miguel, "Power Trip"

With its explorer theme, “Can’t Hold Us” is certainly the most ambitious of the five clips, and also the most uplifting. “Swimming Pools” is the most emotional. The gritty clip for “Power Trip” has a body count. “Started From The Bottom” is the funniest, and A$AP has the most booty, but is the least ambitious.

Who should win: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, “Can’t Hold Us”
Who will win: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis f. Ray Dalton,”Can’t Hold Us”

Previous Predictions:

Best Pop Video
Best Female Video
Best Male Video


 

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<p>Selena Gomez's &quot;Come and Get It&quot;</p>

Selena Gomez's "Come and Get It"

Credit: Hollywood Records

Countdown to MTV's Video Music Awards: Best Pop Video

It's a close race between Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez

As MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards approach, we’ll countdown to the Aug. 25 ceremony, which airs live at 9 p.m. ET from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead the nominations with six each, closely followed by Bruno Mars, Pink, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Among the artists performing on the show are Lady Gaga, who will open the awards; Timberlake (with a rumored ‘N Sync reunion), Mars, and Cyrus.

We’ll look at a different category each day leading up to Aug. 25.

Best Pop Video

Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Fun., "Carry On"
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
Selena Gomez, "Come and Get It"

This is a race between Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” and Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop,” and given that it’s a fan-voted award, Cyrus’s fans will probably be the more active voters.  “Mirrors” is the most artistic of the group, Cyrus’s is the weirdest.  Fun.’s “Carry On” does a great job of setting the inspirational mood of the song and blends performance and story, but the band’s voters probably won’t come out en masse. Bruno Mars captures just the right energy for the retro “Locked Out Of Heaven.” Selena Gomez is the dark horse here- her fan base could coalesce to push “Come and Get It” to the top spot. It’s a beautifully shot clip with lush fields and lots of fashion changes.

Who Should Win: Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Who Will Win: Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”

Past Predictions

Best Female Video
Best Male Video



 

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What if the Dixie Chicks hadn't insulted George Bush from a London stage?
Credit: The Weinstein Company

What if the Dixie Chicks hadn't insulted George Bush from a London stage?

Would they still be burning up the country charts?

This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?

In 2003, The Dixie Chicks were on top of the country world, garnering airplay and selling out venues around the world for their tight, strong melodies, lead by Natalie Maines’ strikingly strong, compelling vocals. They were a new breed of country star: completely contemporary and modern. They appreciated the past, but had no desire to revisit it.

Then, while on tour in London in March 2003, as the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq, under President George W. Bush’s command,  Maines looked out at the audience and said, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

Quicker than you can say “weapons of mass destruction,” country radio retaliated, dropping the Chicks’ music and angry Americans burned their albums.

Two days later, Maines followed up by saying that she felt that President Bush was ignoring the opinion of many Americans. Four days after the initial comment, she issued a half-hearted apology, saying, “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful.” She went on to say that she wanted to see every viable option explored before the U.S. went to war, but the apology was too little too late.

What if Natalie Maines had never dissed President Bush  from the London stage?

Three things that might not have happened:


1. Country music wouldn’t be drowning in tired, hackneyed tropes about pick-up trucks, girls in short skirts and cowboy boots, and tractors. The Dixie Chicks brought a certain sophistication to country music. Their music was awash in country instrumentation—fiddles, mandolins, banjos —but their lyrical approach was fresh and innovative, adding a spunky  twist to  topics such as domestic abuse (“Goodbye Earl”) escaping a bad marriage (“Sin Wagon”), or just the need to break away from home (“Wide Open Spaces”).

2. The Dixie Chicks wouldn’t have appeared nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. As part of their publicity campaign to explain their political position, Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison posed nude for the cover of the magazine with words such as “Traitor,” “Hero,” “Brave” and “Free Speech” on their bodies.

3. The Dixie Chicks wouldn’t have swept the 2007 Grammys. Yes, the trio’s “Taking The Long Way” was a strong effort, but the five trophies, including album of the year, and record of the year for “Not Ready To Make Nice,” were as much a statement of solidarity by the music community as it was an acknowledgement of creative achievement.

Three things we predict might have happened:


1. They would have continued to make great records. In many ways, it felt like the Chicks were just hitting their stride and finding their voice. Instead, after the 2006 “Taking the Long Way” album and “Shut Up and Sing” documentary, they retreated to lick their wounds and have only occasionally played gigs.

2. Both Maines and her band mates, siblings Maguire and Robison would have also had solo careers run parallel to the Chicks. We probably still would have gotten the two excellent Courtyard Hounds sets, as well as Maines’ rock album, “Mother.”

3. Country music would have embraced more outspoken female artists. To an extent that has happened with Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, but way too many country females still tend to play it safe, content to not stir the pot.

Did history work out for the best?

No. In terms of their commercial career, the Dixie Chicks plunged off a cliff. As “Shut Up & Sing,”  the documentary about their fall,  chronicles, they received death threats and the public has been very slow to forgive her words, even though other artists have made far more incendiary comments. While they seem to be touring more —the trio just announced a slate of Canadian dates for late summer and early fall— they are a voice that is severely missed.

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<p>Katy Perry at the 'Smurfs 2' premiere.</p>

Katy Perry at the 'Smurfs 2' premiere.

Credit: AP Photo

Does Katy Perry 'Roar' into the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 over 'Blurred Lines?'

Where does Lady Gaga's 'Applause' land?

Katy Perry’s “Roar” may be loud, but it’s not quite ferocious enough to topple Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” featuring T.I. and Pharrell, which stays atop the Billboard Hot 100 for an 11th week.

Perry’s “Roar” still make an impressive leap, jumping 85-2 in its second week on the charts. That’s the largest leap for a song since Drake’s “Make Me Proud,” featuring Nicki Minaj, soared 97-9 in November 2011. While “Roar” is getting plenty of airplay, the digital sales are what propelling the tune: “Roar” sold 557,000 this week, a career high for Perry, according to Billboard.

“Roar” pushes Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” down 2-3, which inches Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” down one spot, 3-4.

Jay Z’s “Holy Grail,” featuring Justin Timberlake, holds at No. 5. Perry’s fellow pop diva, Lady Gaga, also zooms into the top 10, bowing at No. 6 with “Applause.” It moves to No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” destined to be locked out of the top spot, continues to fall, slipping 4-7. Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” move 7-8, Anna Kendrick’s “Cups” 6-9 and Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound” 9-10.

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<p>Miley Cyrus's &quot;We Can't Stop&quot;</p>

Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop"

Credit: RCA Records

Countdown to MTV's Video Music Awards: Best Female Video

Can anyone beat Miley Cyrus' unstoppable 'We Can't Stop?'

As MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards approach, we’ll countdown to the Aug. 25 ceremony, which airs live at 9 p.m. ET from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead the nominations with six each, closely followed by Bruno Mars, Pink, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Among the artists performing on the show are Lady Gaga, who will open the awards; Timberlake, Mars, and Cyrus.

We’ll look at a different category each day leading up to Aug. 25.

Best Female Video
Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, "Stay"
Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop" 
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"
Demi Lovato, "Heart Attack"


We can pretend for a hot minute that anything other than Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” will win here, but her wacky video is a shoo-in. Remember, it’s a fan voted away and the clip has already garnered close to 150 million page views on Vevo in two months. But for the sake of argument: Rihanna lets her vulnerability, and a lot more, show in her clip for “Stay.”  She spends most of it sitting naked in a tub, until Mikky Ekko comes into the same bathroom with Rihanna no longer there.  It’s beautifully shot, but there’s not a lot more to it than that. Not that there needs to be. Pretty much the same thing with Pink’s video for “Just Give Me A Reason”: nice and emotional (this time on a floating bed instead of in a bath) but not strong enough to topple Cyrus. Like Rihanna, Demi Lovato shows herself with very little make-up, which signifies vulnerability, in “Heart Attack,” which is a glorified performance clip with some very cool effects. On “I Knew You Were Trouble,” Taylor Swift wakes up lying on the cold ground from a most un-Swift-like rave. It’s a bit of a change of pace for Swift who takes off with the bad boy after a long voice over and dabbles in dubstep. Not her best, though admittedly intriguing.

Who Should Win: Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
Who Will Win: Miley Cyrus: We Can’t Stop”
 

PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS

Best Male Video

 

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<p>Britney Spears</p>

Britney Spears

Credit: AP Photo

Britney Spears starts countdown clock on her website: To new single? Vegas dates?

Watch for an announcement on Sept. 17

Heads up, Britney Spears fans. Something Britney this way comes on Sept. 17.

Spears posted a countdown clock on her website today with the words “Britney Spears” and “All Eyes On Me” with the clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to some big event.

Is it a new single? A new album? Her long-awaited Las Vegas residency a Planet Hollywood?

We know that Spears has been working on a new album. She’s talked about it plenty without really saying anything in that Spears-ian way of hers.

She’s collaborating with William Orbit, Naughty Boy, and will.i.am, who is the executive producer for her eighth studio set.

Spears told Ryan Seacrest in June, “Will has a lot of really interesting different tracks that I've listened to that are really cool that I haven't actually written on yet, but there's a lot of guitar and I think people will be surprised with this album. It's gong to be really different."

Given that Spears says she and will.i.am were in the “beginning stages” in June, it seems unlikely that Sept. 17 will signal an album release. Maybe it’s more news about a potential album release. We will add, however, that albums drop on Tuesdays and Sept. 17 is  a Tuesday.

As far as “All Eyes On Me,” an eagle-eyed commenter on Billboard.com, noted that the phrase appears in the words to Spears’ song, “Circus.” I’m not really sure there’s anything to be made from that, but there you go.
What do you think will happen on Sept. 17?
 

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