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Odds & Sods: Don’t Overlook These Discs

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All this Grammys talk got us thinking about music from last year that fell below the radar. There are a handful of 2007 discs that are still giving us goose pimples. Here are a few of ‘em.

Manu ChaoLa Radiolina
The ultimate cosmopolitan icon remains a boho experimentalist with a yen for high-flying horns and bouncy bass lines. He?d love to rub your face in some incendiary headlines, but at no point on this ever-shifting program does he allow the groove to dissipate ? even while he chants how politik kills, or hollers slogans such as ?Senor presidente George Bush: Cuidado!?

Bettye Lavette - The Scene of the Crime
The celebrated soul singer is a magnificent communicator, able to give you a look into her heart any time she chooses. This follow up to her seismic I?ve Got My Own Hell To Raise connects her with unlikely bedfellows: Southern rock renegades the Drive-By Truckers. But the sixtysomething singer and the scrappy band make lots of hay, especially in the ballad department. “I Guess We Shouldn’t Talk About That Now” is about as eloquent as simmering desperation gets.

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Party Time: Gearing Up for the Grammys

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Lots of parties have been thrown this week as bigwigs gear up for music’s big night. In the last 72 hours, In Style magazine, Fuse TV, and the Grammy Foundation have hosted shindigs to celebrate everything from hip-hop to doom metal.

Pre-Grammy party-goers included Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Musiq Soulchild, Natasha Bedingfield, Paris Hilton, Pete Wentz, Ashlee Simpson, Mark Ronson, Taye Diggs, Chris Daughtry, Adam Levine, Kat Von D, John Mayer, Chrisette Michele, and John Fogerty.

Prep yourself for Sunday night’s show by clicking here.

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Grammys Gossip: Who’s In, Who’s Out, And What They’ll Wear

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* Amy Winehouse has been a denied a visa and will not be attending this Sunday’s Grammy Awards. The singer, who recently entered rehab and was planning on attending the ceremony, will perform via satellite. ?I?m really sorry I can?t be there but I appreciate that I?m being given a second chance via satellite,? Amy told UsWeekly.

* Hayley Williams and her band Paramore are headed to the Grammys, but don’t think they’ll forsake their punk roots and go glam for the event: “We?ve never worked with a stylist before, so this is a different world from what we?re used to. We don?t want to abandon our background — like I come out there wearing a gown. We?re going to have fun with it.” Williams thinks the band, up for the Best New Artist Grammy, has a shot at winning. “It?s possible we could win — we made it this far.”

* Kanye West, up for eight nominations at Sunday night’s award show, is planning an emotional tribute to his mother, who died this past November due to complications from plastic surgery. Ye will perform “Stronger” and “Hey Mama.”

* After paying tribute to ’80s smashes by New Order and Michael Jackson on his year’s multi-single-spawning release Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna will perform with The Time, who you might remember as Prince‘s musical competition in Purple Rain. The band, formerly led by Morris Day, will be reuniting for the occasion. Let’s hope they do “Umbrella,” (originally written for a certain out-of-control pop star).

Be back here on Sunday night at 8 p.m., where we’ll be dishing on all the performances.

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Grammy Predictions: Who Will Win What?

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Each year the act of predicting which artists will take home a Grammy becomes one of pop music’s great guessing games. Someone picks a category, and everyone becomes a pundit. That includes us. We want your comments, too. Do you think our choices are right? Watch the show with us this Sunday night, and join our LIVE BLOG commentary right here at 8 pm.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Beyonce: ?Irreplaceable?
This screed about how the value of self-important men begins with a set of instructions: ?To the left, to the left/ Everything you own in a box to the left.? Wonder how Jay-Z took that line?

Foo Fighters: ?The Pretender?
Moderate rock, Dave Grohl-style: loud, passionate, dynamic, classic, and prog. Don?t forget the mildly rousing refrain of ?Who are you?? But, sorry, it?s still boring.

Rihanna: ?Umbrella?
Barbados? answer to Madonna returned with a Jerry Bruckheimer-sized blockbuster of a disc, and this song, which stuck in our heads for the entire summer, was the centerpiece.

Justin Timberlake: ?What Goes Around . . . Comes Around?
When coupled with Timbaland?s production, Justin?s soft-pop R&B added up to a great big rock opera.

Amy Winehouse: ?Rehab?
They tried to make her go to rehab; she said no, no, no. Then she said yes, got some help in London, was denied a U.S. entry visa, and can?t perform at the Grammys. Too bad, since the song so thoroughly sums up the problems of 2007.

SHOULD WIN: ?Rehab?
WILL WIN: ?Umbrella?

BEST HIP-HOP ALBUM

Common: Finding Forever
Half hard, half hippie. Working the poetic tip, he keeps his political and philosophical ideas up front. Kanye’s production, even when it?s florid, does a great job of selling ?em.

Nas: Hip-Hop Is Dead
Big indictment from the Queens MC, but Nas is nothing if not a provocateur. Though it?s not a home run, it?s gripping. And that flow of his can still make your jaw drop.

Jay-Z: Kingdom Come
Jigga bounced back, and there were lots of sharp moments, but it also felt like the true glory days of this mic fiend are gone. The American Gangster soundtrack is way stronger.

TI: T.I. vs T.I.P.
Yep, Mr. Split Personality may have been at war with himself, but that tension provided for revealing glimpse into the king of Dirty South?s psyche.

Kanye West: Graduation
Haughty is as haughty does. Hip-hop?s most reliable MC hasn?t given up on positioning himself as hip-hop?s most successful MC. But his bluster has oodles of creativity behind it, no question.

SHOULD WIN: Graduation
WILL WIN: Graduation

“Best New Artist” category after the jump.

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by (@katespencer)

Christina’s Post-Baby Bod Rocks

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Christina Aguilera hit up a Best Buy in West Hollywood this week to sign copies of her new DVD, but the real exciting part of her first post-baby appearance was her awesome mom bod! Christina is looking big in all the right places, and we’re pleased to see her embrace her position as Hollywood’s newest – and hottest – MILF, at only 27-years old. Her pregnancy has also helped her creativity to blossom, as she told Ryan Seacrest earlier in the day, “I?m very excited! I?m so inspired. This whole incredible thing that?s taken place in my life, between the pregnancy and the birth? I?ve got so much in me to write about.”

She also divulged the deets on her son Max’s bris: ?He did have a bris! It was really interesting because I?m not Jewish, but my husband is. I never really knew a lot of Jewish people growing up, I never knew about a bris. It?s all a learning process. Of course, we?re such a non-conventional couple that we had penis balloons everywhere.?

It’s good to know that she’s still the same dirrrty girl deep inside, even with a baby on her hip. More pics of the singer’s sexy new look below!

[Just Jared. Getty]

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Celeb Kids: Our Parents Used to Bone

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From the Department of Awkward Meetings: At last night’s Gucci party, Madonna brought along daugther Lourdes. Also in attendance was Lenny Kravitz‘s daughter Zoe from his relationship with Lisa Bonet. Just two celebrity progeny attending the same party. Nothing to see here, right? Wrong. Back in 1990, Lenny teamed up with Madonna to write “Justify My Love,” and allegedly, they decided to do a little justifying of their own. Lenny took a break from Bonet for Madge, meaning that Zoe was confronted with the woman who effectively ended her parents’ relationship last night.

Zoe’s not the only person who might have a problem with Madge and Len’s relationship. Just two years ago, Madonna’s husband Guy Ritchie dragged Madonna off the dancefloor when she was seen getting down with Lenny.

by (@katespencer)

Britney Busts Out of Psych Ward

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Britney’s back on the loose, so watch your toes as her wheels wizz by. The pop princess busted out of her recent home – the UCLA Hospital psych ward – yesterday, where she was being treated for a serious bi-polar disorder. What ensued was a typical Brit-day: speeding, wigs, British accent, car towing, a visit to the Beverly Hills Hotel followed by a stop at her lawyer’s office. Not surprisingly, her parents are pissed off about the whole thing. We’re hoping this is just a pit stop before Brit heads off for more help, but we’re not yet convinced that she actually wants any.

by (@katespencer)

Thursday: Kiki Dunst Relaxes in Rehab

kirstendunst.jpgKirsten Dunst: Another rehabbing starlet
Kiki skips town for the Cirque Lodge, Lindsay Lohan’s old rehab haunt. Think she got in confused with a club?? [Star]

Jay-Z Pushing for His Own Label
He can’t retire from anything:? Jay-Z wants back in the boardroom, and is in talks with Warner Music about starting up his own label called the Carter Music Group.? [NYDN]

Is Eva Expecting?
Mrs. Tony Parker was spotted shopping for baby clothes. Our guess – she’s not knocked up but likes the attention.? [NYDN]
Winehouse Wants the Grammys
She’s visa-less and still kind of in rehab, but the beehived beauty is desperate to get to the States for some Grammy action.? [NYDN]
K-Fed Bails on Brit for Fashion Show
Britney’s ex tries to get as far away from her as possible by going somewhere he knows she’ll never be – a place of high fashion and taste.? [Us]

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Fashion Week Frenzy: Even Rihanna’s a Critic

rihanna.jpgEveryone’s getting into the style game at Fashion Week. No longer content with just sitting front-row and having their pictures taken, select celebrities have started weighing in on their experiences at the show. Witness Rihanna, our favorite umbrella-slinging pop-tart, whose song-of-the-summer and severe new haircut have endeared her to millions across the globe. Rihanna’s currently guest-blogging for Elle.com. So far, it seems, she really enjoyed the Proenza Schouler show:

“Last night, Joe Zee and Robbie Myers [Elle's creative director and editor-in-chief respectively] brought me to the Proenza Schouler show and it was love at first sight. Joe made a quick introduction between Brooke Shields and me (they are old friends — he knows everyone!) and then we took our seats for the show. It was gorgeous — the sequins, the jewel tones — and definitely perfect for wearing on the red carpet.”

She goes on to note that she’s going to play the Gucci party tonight, which means there are going to be some very entertained suits and similarly happy fashion-types in Midtown. She’s a bundle of sunshine, that Rihanna.

In other celeb news, actress Joy Bryant is reportedly writing about the shows for C magazine. Man, the writers’ strike better end soon, or fashion journalists are going to be hard up for work. Seriously.

by (@katespencer)

Fergie Wears Her Sunglasses At Night

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We’ve caught Josh Duhamel‘s dutchess sitting pretty at a ton of fashion shows here in NYC, where Fashion Week is in full swing. And while her outfits are looking quite cute and there’s not a pee stain to be found, we have to wonder, why is Fergie clad in constant eye-shade, and what is she hiding? That look is really not acceptable for any young starlet – no matter how many Olsens seem to think so. Is she trying to go incognito or are there just a couple of wrinkles gracing her face that need a cover? Maybe she’s just doing some undercover promo work for her local Sunglasses Hut. We asked Mary Alice Stephenson, America?s Most Smartest Model host and Harper?s Bazaar contributing fashion editor, to weigh in on Fergie’s latest looks – sunglasses and all. We’ve got her thoughts – and some pics of Fergie’s Stacey Ferguson’s recent fashion dos – below the jump.

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