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American Idol Producer Responds To Adam Levine’s Idol Closet Claim

Earlier this week Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine (of late a judge on NBC’s The Voice) went off on American Idol for not allowing contestants to be openly gay on the show. It didn’t take long for someone at Idol?producer Nigel Lythgoe, talking to Entertainment Weekly about the Emmys?to fire back. “There?s no reason that I would see why anybody that goes on television should start coming out with who they are, what they are, what their sexuality is, who they’re going to vote for or what their religion is,” the producer told James Hibberd when asked about Levine’s comments.

Lythgoe’s plea for privacy rings true, but it doesn’t address the particulars of the situation. Specifically, his claim, “If somebody wants to say they’re gay, it’s up to them” contradicts what Idol contestant Adam Lambert has said. In his episode of Behind The Music, Lambert recalls reading Mark Harris‘s cover story (coincidentally, for Entertainment Weekly) and wondering in regards to its speculation on his sexuality, “Why does it matter? But I guess it does.” (In this he agrees with Lythgoe.) But he goes on to claim that he was contractually unable to respond except on Idol or in an Idol-sanctioned group interview. So to an extend it wasn’t really “up to him.” We hardly expect Lythgoe to respond to a question he was not asked, but his remarks nevertheless fail to adequately defend the show from Levine’s criticisms.

Idol Producer Talks Emmy Odds, X-Factor, Openly Gay Contestants [EW Inside TV]

[Image: Getty Images]

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MTV Premieres “Stripped Down” Lady Gaga VMA Promos

The high-concept promo for the 2011 Video Music Awards’ Britney Spears tribute (which may be teasing a performance by Janet Jackson) has company: a titillating series of promos for Lady Gaga‘s upcoming VMA performance (just announced yesterday). The black-and-white spots are a striking contrast against both the clue-filled symbology of the Britney promo and the captivating grotesquerie of Lady Gaga’s videos (most recently “Yoü And I”)?that is, unless it’s a hint itself, at the Amy Winehouse tribute that is said to be in the works.

In one of the spots, Gaga removes her bra on-camera as she recasts “Yoü And I” in a lounge-jazz mold, not unlike the Sinatra-fied renditions of Pearl Jam‘s “Jeremy” and Cypress Hill‘s “Insane In The Brain” that Toby Huss (“Artie, The Strongest Man In The World” on The Adventures Of Pete And Pete) turned out for 1994′s “MTV Keeps You Plugged In” ad campaign (not to mention his medley, in the same style, of the Best Song From A Movie nominees, at the 1994 VMAs).
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Do Something Award Nominee Linkin Park Still Raising Money For Japan?With An Exclusive Show

Linkin Park scored a nomination for a 2011 Do Something Award thanks to the work the band has done in connection with its charity Music for Relief, which is currently supporting tsunami relief work in Japan. (Tune in to VH1 tonight at 9 p.m. ET to see if they won!) Want proof that the band doesn’t do this for the accolades? Look no further than the exclusive and intimate live show the band has planned for August 31 in Los Angeles. There’s only one way to score a pair of tickets: Raise at least $500 for tsunami relief.

In a clever turnaround of the Kickstarter-style “rewards for pledges,” which was inspired by non-profits’ fundraising techniques, the band booked a secret location (later revealed to be the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles) and have employed an online fundraising engine through which over 5,000 fans have raised nearly $275,000 so far in a competition for just over 1,000 tickets. Six days (and limited tickets) remain in the fundraising challenge, but it’s certainly still worth giving a shot if you’re in the greater Los Angeles area. If not, find a fan who’s near the goal and help her or him score tickets. All proceeds go to tsunami relief (Music for Relief’s partner organizations are listed on its website.)

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Number-Crunching The Throne: Jay-Z And Kanye West Hit #1, But Was Moving 436K Good Enough?

The big chart story this week is Katy Perry‘s record-tying fifth #1 single from Teenage Dream on the Billboard Hot 100. Below the fold, though, everyone’s talking about the #1 debut of Watch The Throne. Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s collaborative album sold 436,000 copies in its first week?the second-best single-week total of the year after the monster 1.1 million first-week Lady Gaga achieved in May (with help from Amazon) for Born This Way, but far short of the 600,000 some industry insiders had predicted.

The album’s release was unique in two key ways: its successful protection from leaks and its oddly-timed and digital-first release schedule (a Monday iTunes exclusive followed by a Friday physical release, instead of a simultaneous Tuesday release). Just as industry watched Amazon’s 99¢ Born This Way sale to determine strategies for other future releases, they watched The Throne to see how the duo’s unique strategies might affect sales.

So is 436,000 bad news? Not really. In the first place, those are still “big-boy numbers,” as Respect editor-in-chief Elliott Wilson put it to MTV News (besides which, the album’s promotion was primarily aimed at critical, not commercial, success).

More notably, that number fits neatly into the initial projections for Watch The Throne, which were shifted upwards based on the album’s first-day sales on iTunes?which turned out to be a mistake. The album may have set a new one-week iTunes sales record, but within a day of its release it had fallen to #9 on the live-updating iTunes album sales charts (and currently is languishing at #70).

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

Two Tracks From Black and White America Leak
The Lenny Kravitz tracks “Boongie Drop” and “Sunflower” likely hit the web early because they feature Jay-Z and Drake, respectively. Black and White America will be released August 30. [Billboard]

Will Smith Comeback Album May Be In The Works
Producer La Mar “Mars” Edwards tells XXL that he’s working not only on a Will Smith album, but also with T.I. and with Ashanti. [XXL]
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by (@unclegrambo)

Hip Hop Experts Weigh In On Anne Hathaway’s “Lil Wayne” Flow

There are few things more awkward in this world than when white girls try to rap. Madonna, for one, still hasn’t lived down her embarrassing “I’m drinkin’ a soy latte” faux pas from “American Life,” and she’s the Queen of Pop! (Don’t even get us started on those Alabama sorority girls.) The ever-fearless Anne Hathaway, however, took a bold step on last night’s episode of Conan and spit a few bars of an original, paparazzi-themed diss track she wrote while getting bothered by shutterbugs on the set of The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Since we have spent more than a few nights drunkenly rapping at karaoke bars, and since footage of this no doubt exists on someone’s mobile phones (or security cams!), we figured we would pass on commenting on Hathaway’s lyrical prowess. Instead, we asked a panel of hip hop experts to listen to Catwoman’s flow —which she described as being performed “in the style of Lil Wayne”— and let us know what they thought. Here’s what they said:

  • ?Anne, like most of those theater nerds that we all grew up with in high school, is at least 78% percent ham (the other 22% probably being kombucha and kale?.yeesh, get that gal a burger or something) so animated Fem-inem impressions are probably how she blows off steam. Anne?s paparazzi diss rap can?t hold a candle to Natalie Portman?s classic SNL rap debut and I?m not sure how Weezy?s sappy singing love tune inspired this rant, but extra points for the Jersey shout out and ass-slapping hand gesture!?—Miss Info, Hot 97 and MissInfo.tv (Follow her on Twitter: @MissInfo)
  • ?A. Hathaway (she’s definitely earned a nickname after this) spits more like Nicki Minaj than ‘in the style of Lil Wayne.’ But, with Nicki going pop and Drizzy going dark, Weezy could use a thug in his life. Just don’t call her scuzzy.?—Jayson Rodriguez, Executive Editor at XXL (Follow him on Twitter: @JayHovaWitness)

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by (@unclegrambo)

Exclusive Do Something! Awards Sneak: Foster The People Add Some Sonic Muscle To “Helena Beat”

The 2011 Do Something! Awards don’t air until Thursday, August 18 at 9 p.m., but we were able to convince the show’s producers to let us share this awesome clip of our You Oughta Know artist Foster The People with you guys before tomorrow night’s premiere. The band performed two songs during the ceremony, Song of the Summer contender “Pumped Up Kicks” and (my personal S.O.T.S. pick) “Helena Beat,” with the same sort of enthusiasm and energy levels that have been winning them thousands upon thousands of new fans at music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza.

In particular, their sound was significantly fuller than it was when they played the supremely catchy “Helena Beat” here at VH1 HQ a few months back during a stripped down You Oughta Know Live acoustic set. In their rambunctious Do Something! Awards performance, they employed not one, not two, but THREE guys to tackle the song’s whirring synth melodies, which certainly got the front rows of the Hollywood Palladium up, clapping and dancing.

In addition to being a dynamic young band, Foster The People are also committed to helping out in the community. This fall, they have agreed to partner up with Do Good Bus, which helps transports citizen volunteers to and from charity sites in cities all over the country.

To catch Foster The People’s rendition of “Pumped Up Kicks,” not to mention Demi Lovato‘s first-ever televised performance of her smash “Skyscraper,” be sure to tune into the Do Something! Awards, airing on VH1 this Thursday, August 18 at 9 p.m. (That’s tomorrow, folks!)

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Kelly Clarkson Reveals Titles And Release Dates For Forthcoming Single And Album

After a handful of false-start announcements by the overeager singer, not to mention a bevy of demo leaks, Kelly Clarkson finally, officially, has a release date for her fifth studio album and its first single. The last five months have felt like a long road to a release date, ever since the singer, after recording wrapped in February, announced that the record would not be released until September. (Less than half a year pales in comparison to, say, the wait for Dr. Dre‘s Detox, but can you blame us for being enthusiastic?) But let’s not get bogged down in the false-start specifics. Here’s the news: On August 30th (two weeks from yesterday), single “Mr. Know It All” will be premiered on a live webcast on the singer’s recently relaunched website, before going on sale everywhere a week later. This single is the first from Stronger, an album due out October 25 but available to pre-order now. Get excited.

[Image: Getty Images]

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Katy Perry Ties Michael Jackson’s Astonishing Billboard Chart Record For Most #1 Singles From One Album

We should have known better: never underestimate the chart prowess of Katy Perry. Back in May, we predicted that Perry’s single “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” would continue the chart run of singles from the album, and sure enough, Thursday will mark the 66th straight week in which a Teenage Dream single was in the top ten of Billboard‘s Hot 100. Two weeks ago, though, we cast doubt on the prospect of “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” hitting #1?and in so doing, tying what once seemed like an untoppable Michael Jackson record: five #1 singles from the same album, set with “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror,” and “Dirty Diana,” all from Bad, in 1987 and 1988.

That was before the Missy Elliott remix. On this we’ll defer to the Village Voice, where, in April, Maura Johnston pointed to the late-release remix as a growing chart-goosing tactic and noting its particular success for Perry with “E.T.” (#42 before its Kanye “remix”; #1 soon after). Then on Friday, Chris Molanphy explained in his chart column “100 & Single” exactly how Perry was juking the stats: releasing a Missy Elliott remix of “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” last Monday, as the song was peaking on the Airplay chart but falling on the Digital Sales chart (the two figures combine to determine the Hot 100), and furthermore discounting all versions of the track to just 69¢ at iTunes and Amazon’s mp3 store.

It worked. “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” nearly matched LMFAO‘s “Party Rock Anthem” in Digital Sales this week (with the remix accounting for 25% of the downloads) and remained atop the Airplay chart. Despite huge gains in airplay and especially sales for Maroon 5‘s “Moves Like Jagger,” featuring Christina Aguilera, the single could not (yet?) match up to Perry’s single (nor could either of the other songs we predicted might compete; Bad Meets Evil‘s “Lighters” has stalled at #5, and The Throne‘s “Otis” is already out of the top 10). So it came down to LMFAO, who simply could not extend their reign atop the Hot 100 to a seventh week. This news may leave Michael Jackson fans thinking the electro duo should have named their album Sorry For Not Party Rocking Enough.

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VMA Rumors: Britney Tribute To Feature Katy Perry, Ke$ha, And…Janet Jackson?

This morning’s announcement of Lady Gaga as a performer at this year’s Video Music Awards is the latest sort-of confirmation of a big VMA rumor that’s been going around since reality-TV production coordinator Johnathan Woodbeck tweeted it the day after the Britney Spears VMA promo, above, premiered. According to Woodbeck’s tweet, the show will contain a star-studded tribute medley with one song from each of Britney’s albums, followed by the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award (presumably the Video Vanguard Award?) by none other than Madonna. The rumored performance lineup (via Lainey Gossip):
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