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Last Lap: Monday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

Rest In Peace, Jerry Leiber
Jerry Leiber, one half of the songwriting team Leiber and Stoller, passed away today of heart failure. He was 78. With Mike Stoller, he wrote six top ten hits for the Coasters, three top tens for the Drifters, three #1 and four other top 20 Elvis Presley singles, and “Stand By Me”; we could go on for some time about the duo’s indispensable contributions to pre-Beatles rock and R&B, their other Billboard chart appearances (the total is over 100, for the record), their production credits (e.g. Stealers Wheel‘s “Stuck In The Middle With You”), their jukebox musical (Smokey Joe’s Cafe), their American Idol theme episode this season, and more, but sadly we can’t offer the tribute Leiber deserves. For more, check out Michaelangelo Matos‘s brisk, informative, and YouTube-embed-packed eulogy at Sound of the City, or seek out the second episode of the 1995 PBS documentary Rock & Roll.

My Morning Jacket Help Neko Case Cover Stevie Nicks
At a tornado relief benefit show in Tuscaloosa on Friday night, Neko Case, backed by My Morning Jacket, took on Stevie Nicks‘s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (with MMJ frontman Jim James providing the Tom Petty vocals). Hear it at TwentyFourBit.com. [via Spin]
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by (@unclegrambo)

Song Of The Summer Countdown: Adam Levine Reaps The Benefits Of His TV Hosting Gig

At this time last year, hopes for Maroon 5‘s third studio album, Hands All Over, were high. The lead single, “Misery,” had hit #1 on Billboard‘s Adult Pop chart, and since the band had convinced famed superproducer Robert “Mutt” Lange to come out of semi-retirement to produce their album, everyone looked for the band to take the leap from a well-liked, fairly popular M.O.R. band to the next level and a spot among the world’s most commercially successful bands. However, once the album finally hit streets in October 2010, the masses shrugged their shoulders and largely ignored the album. The record was certified gold by the RIAA for shipping over 500,000 copies, but worldwide sales stalled out at just 529,000 total units.

Perceived failures like this have sunk many a band in the past, but thanks to charismatic frontman Adam Levine and ten weeks of national TV exposure courtesy of NBC/Universal’s The Voice (corporate synergy at its finest!), the band has totally reversed their fortunes in less than a year. Their new track, “Moves Like Jagger,” hit #1 on the iTunes chart this week, and Levine’s featured hook on Gym Class Heroes“Stereo Hearts” propelled the song to a Top 20 finish in this week’s Song Of The Summer countdown. No wonder artists like Mariah Carey (The X-Factor), Sara Bareilles (The Sing Off) and more are looking to land prime positions as judges on televised singing competition shows; it’s exactly the kind of exposure to Middle America that the flagging music business is no longer in a position to give these artists using “traditional” music channels. As Maroon 5 has proved, it’s great work if you can get it!

As for the rest of our Song Of The Summer chart —only two more weeks until we crown a champion!— kudos to Katy Perry for her ninth consecutive week in the #1 spot.


[Click here for a larger image]

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Kelly Clarkson On Demo Leaks: “I’ve Been Physically Robbed…But This Is Much Worse”

Kelly Clarkson is featured in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, discussing her new album Stronger. In a preview of the feature launched today on EW’s website, Clarkson talks about the demo leaks that took place in July.

Apparently, the songs leaked while Clarkson was on vacation, so she returned to hear the news, with no knowledge of how the songs got out into the world. None of the tracks were close to completion, and they range from a few that will end up (in finished form) on her forthcoming album to some that were written off during sessions for her 2003 album Thankful (and in some cases were actually songs written for others to perform). Clarkson doesn’t say which are which among “Let Me Down,” “Cleopatra,” and others, but certainly the ones written for others are not so valuable anymore. It’s not just the value, though; Clarkson told the magazine, “I?ve been physically robbed a couple of times, but this is much worse.” She refers to the confusion and misperceptions about her new album, her career, and her artistry, based on suppositions using evidence from the demos. She hopes (as do we) that Stronger will clear everything up.

Kelly Clarkson On Leaked Songs: She Was “Robbed” [EW Music Mix]

[Image: Getty Images]

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Bono Spokeswoman Denies/Spins “Health Scare”

This morning, Bono denied weekend reports that he’d had a health scare while vacationing just outside Monaco in the south of France. In a statement to Reuters, a spokewoman stated that the U2 frontman had indeed gone to Princess Grace Memorial Hospital in Monaco, as Ireland’s Independent had reported, but that the visit was merely a routine checkup. “Reports of his being rushed to hospital for emergency treatment are untrue,” the spokeswoman stated, despite the fact that the initial Independent report made no such claim.

According to the Irish paper’s sources, Bono experienced “chest pains” and underwent “48 hours of medical tests” under the supervision of “a top heart specialist at the hospital,” none of which was exactly contradicted by the not-quite-denial. Presumably a routine checkup wouldn’t take two full days. The initial report in the Independent (which claimed Bono was “renowned” both “for his partying” and “for his socialising on the French Riviera”) and the denial to Reuters concur that the heart palpitations turned out not to be a health issue.

U2 Singer Bono Denies Reports Of Health Scare [Reuters via Rolling Stone]

[Image: Getty Images]

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Lil Wayne To Digitally Release Tha Carter IV Early (And By That, We Mean Right On Schedule)

Lil Wayne announced this morning that his forthcoming album Tha Carter IV, scheduled to be released in stores on Monday, August 29, would be available for digital purchase in advance?specifically, at midnight ET after the Video Music Awards air (at 8pm on Sunday, August 28). But wait, you say. Don’t albums tend to premiere digitally around midnight the night before their physical release?

That’s very incisive of you?but this press release isn’t merely a rebranding of an existing fact. The pullquotes provide the clues. Cash Money Records CEO Ronald “Slim” Williams, talks about “pairing the release of Tha Carter IV with the VMAs,” and this pairing seems to have been the plan for some time now. Lil Wayne announced the album’s release date in an MTV News interview last month, after the Video Music Awards had already been scheduled.

Furthermore, MTV President Stephen Friedman says that the digital release allows VMA viewers to “go online at midnight and download the album they?ve all been waiting for.” The similarity of this attempt to digitally recreate the experience of lining up outside a record store to that of Watch The Throne two weeks ago is probably not coincidental. Even still, both Lil Wayne and The Throne are not necessarily aiming to improve their sales with these tactics; rather, they hope to recreate the big-tent release-date excitement of old (albeit not that old; for the most part the day-of iconic big releases?like Use Your Illusion I and II, twenty years old next month?were part of a marketing plan that did not really exist en masse prior to the CD era).

All in all, this is a canny move by the rapper. Anecdotal evidence suggests that viewers of television shows (particularly those on HBO and other premium cable channels) will wait impatiently for a download to become available for purchase (or, erm, “free”) if they don’t get the channel or miss the airing. Why not replicate that for music? Of course, this is another adaptation to the digital world that may only be effective for the biggest artists, but if it catches on, it’ll be an interesting one nonetheless.

by (@unclegrambo)

VH1′s Latest App, Celebrity Party, Is Now Available In The iTunes Store

Next time you?re hanging out with your friends or family, play the party game that?s guaranteed to get everyone laughing: Celebrity Party. The game of Celebrity has been a favorite low tech party game for decades, but now VH1 has taken it to the next level with the Celebrity Party iPhone app. Some of your favorite celebrities themselves—like Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and Justin Timberlake—have already played this game while hitting the red carpet, so now it’s your turn!

Celebrity Party tests your knowledge of pop culture with a team game that combines the best elements of Taboo, charades and Password. It?s simple to learn and sure to get everyone giggling:

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by (@Lacezilla)

Linda Perry Calls Katy Perry’s Single-Focused Music “Microwave Popcorn”

During a recent interview, writer Heath Daniels asked Grammy-nominated veteran songwriter Linda Perry what she thought about changes in the music industry over the last twenty years. The 4 Non Blondes frontwoman and writer/producer for big-name artists like Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys had some biting words for pop star Katy Perry. “Who wants a f*cking Katy Perry record?” asked Linda, doubtful that fans of the other Perry actually purchase her full-length albums when they can just consume her singles piecemeal.

“Not saying that Katy is bad; she’s great for what she does, but she’s not reinventing the wheel, she’s not giving substance, she’s just giving microwave popcorn for you to feast on right at this moment.”

These comments could not have been made at a more interesting time. Earlier this week, Katy Perry tied Michael Jackson’s billboard chart record for having five #1?singles from one album. Katy Perry is only two (mainstream) albums into her career, and she’s certainly churning out fun-loving hit singles like wildfire.?But does her music have a shot at holding up like The King of Pop’s, whose albums, as full bodies of work, are often considered classics? Linda Perry thinks not. While she did concede that it’s fine Katy’s “not looking to change the world musically,” the interview concluded with her saying that music focused on the quick buck is?”part of the reason why the music business is in turmoil.” Touch?.

Linda Perry: ‘Katy Perry is why the music industry is in turmoil’ [NME]

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Shearer’s Spotlight: It’s A Glass Half Empty Kind Of Week

Each Friday here on the VH1 Blog, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer?s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the Top 20 countdown tomorrow morning when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.

This week my glass is half empty. Here are three great things that kind of bum me out:

1) Krist Novoselic Performing Nevermind From Beginning to End

To pay homage to the 20th Anniversary of Nirvana?s Nevermind, founding member Krist Novoselic will be joining a collection of Seattle bands, in Seattle (Sept. 20), to play the stone classic in its entirety.

Why I?m Bummed: I won?t be there, and since the Foo Fighters will be playing in Cleveland that night, Dave Grohl won?t be there either. It also would have been cool if Kurt Cobain were around to perform these generation-forging tunes.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Demi Lovato’s Emotional “Skyscraper” Brings The Do Something! Awards Crowd To Its Feet [VIDEO]

You just watched Demi Lovato bring the house down with her soaring rendition of “Skyscraper” at the 2011 Do Something! Awards. We don’t have much more to say about it at the moment, mainly because we’re still wiping the tears out of our eyes. We’ll try to regain our composure by the morning, but for now, we’d just like to share this video of the pinnacle of tonight’s show with you so you can watch it over, and over, and over again.

RELATED: Check out our exclusive interview with Demi from late last month, where she opened up to us about about the creative evolution of ?Skyscraper,? shooting her own tear-strewn video with director Mark Pellington, and her dismay with the ubiquity of alcohol references currently in the Billboard Top Ten:
Demi Lovato: ?It?s Unfortunate That Pop Songs Have Become So Much About Partying And Clubs? (Exclusive Interview) [VH1 Blog]

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Last Lap: Thursday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

Beck And Stephen Malkmus Riff In The Paper Of Record
In a Sunday New York Times feature posted today, Beck and Stephen Malkmus (formerly of Pavement) talk to Dave Itzkoff about the forthcoming Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks record Mirror Traffic, which Beck produced. [NY Times]

One Third Of Nirvana To Participate In Nevermind Anniversary Tribute Concert
Krist Novoselic is the latest performer added to the bill of a Nirvana tribute concert to be held on Nevermind‘s 20th anniversary at the Experience Music Project. He’ll be playing bass with the Presidents of the United States of America on one of the songs. [107.7 The End via Pitchfork]
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