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

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Break In Notorious B.I.G. Murder Case: Confessed Accessory After the Fact Gives Testimony
Less than a month after an alleged confession by an accessory to the 1994 gun violence against Tupac Shakur, Clayton Hill, a former member of the Nation of Islam, has confessed to helping dispose of the handgun used to murder the Notorious B.I.G. in 1997. He implicates a member of the Nation of Islam whom he only knew by a pseudonym and could not positively identify when shown photographs of the prime suspect. Hill told HipHop DX that all of this information was revealed to federal investigators in October 2010 in exchange for a reduced sentence for his wife (so she could raise their daughter). He also notes that it will be included in his forthcoming e-book, Diary of an Ex-Terrorist. [HipHop DX]

A New Alleged Kelly Clarkson Demo Leaked!
The swiftness with which uploads are getting taken down suggests it might actually be a track slated to appear on her upcoming album. It’s called “Let Me Down.” Good luck finding a stream before the Web Sheriff does. [Popdust]
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Scotty McCreery Won American Idol, But Will Pia Toscano Reap The Benefits?

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Scotty McCreery’s Walmart-exclusive five-songs-for-five-dollars American Idol Season 10 Highlights EP sold 40,000 copies in the past week?enough to hit #10 on the Billboard 200?but even though he won American Idol, the big news today isn’t his chart performance but the official announcement that Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine signed ninth-place finisher Pia Toscano. Iovine’s in-house mentoring was a strong guide for this season’s contestants?at least, until the voters at home voted Toscano, an Iovine favorite who’d hewed closely to his guidance, off the show. Iovine was, in fact, rumored to have signed Toscano just days after being eliminated, but no confirmation existed until late yesterday.

Toscano has spent the three months since her elimination working on a debut single, “an acoustic guitar and beat-driven track” written by Esther Dean, composer of Rihanna’s “S&M,” “Rude Boy” and “What?s My Name.” The Hollywood Reporter had previously revealed that Toscano was hard at work on an album, with production from Rodney Jerkins. So even if the Interscope signing really was recent, one would assume the deal has been in the works since her elimination, as was rumored.

What does that mean for Scotty McCreery (not to mention second-place finisher Lauren Alaina)? Both artists signed to Interscope’s country imprint, Mercury Nashville, which certainly means they’ll have their shots at a music career, but not as the crossover artist Iovine was hoping Idol would produce this year. Under his guidance, Interscope has been hard at work to break Pia Toscano in the pop world. If their plans succeed, McCreery could be an American Idol in name only.

American Idol‘s Pia Toscano Signs With Interscope Records [Hollywood Reporter]

[Image: Getty Images]

Beyonc?’s 4 Debuts At #1, But Are The Sales Disappointing Anyway?

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Last week, when the first sales projections for Beyonc?‘s fourth solo studio album 4 came in, Columbia Chairman Rob Stringer told Billboard.biz that the figures were a “vindication” after rumors swirled about the album facing trouble despite repeated denials from the label. Now that the official figures are in, how much of Stringer’s claim is legitimate and how much is spin?

As chart positions go, 4 had a smashing first week, hitting #1 with a bullet on the Billboard 200, selling 310,000 copies?over three times the closest competitor. But the specifics of the sales figures tell a slightly different story. The #2 album is Adele’s 21, which, with 95,000 copies sold this week, marks the first of its nineteen chart weeks that the album hasn’t sold at least 100,000 copies. That kind of longevity is unlikely to be repeated by Beyonc? (or anyone else) this year.

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Alice Cooper Joins Ke$ha, Foo Fighters Onstage

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School’s out for summer in most of the Northern Hemisphere. That means it’s Alice Cooper season! We spent most of our holiday weekend relaxing, but the legendary shock rocker spent it jetsetting around Europe, making guest appearances at big shows, like Ke$ha‘s in Oslo, Norway yesterday. (Actually, he’s opening a couple of Scandinavian Iron Maiden shows this week, but it’s more fun to think Alice Cooper went to Europe to pop up on stage with Ke$ha.) Above, watch his appearance during her cover of “School’s Out.”

The young pop star tweeted excitedly about the appearance afterward: “ALICE F?KING COOPER. or what i call him, dad,” then “thanx for coming to Oslo to do SCHOOLS OUT with me dad #alicecooperisaLEGEND pictures coming soon. ; ) LEGEND. F?KING LEGEND.”

Ke$ha may be the closest any pop star has come to being a spiritual heir for him, but hers wasn’t the only concert that Cooper appeared at: just three days earlier, he joined Foo Fighters onstage in Milton Keynes, an hour north of London. Dave Grohl gave him a lengthy adulatory introduction, insisting, “If it wasn’t for [Alice Cooper], Pat Smear would’ve never bought a guitar.” Here they are performing “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen”:
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Last Lap: Tuesday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

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Mumford & Sons Debut New Song on Colorado’s KBCO
When we got Mumford & Sons in the studio for their VH1 Unplugged taping, the band mentioned trying out new material on the road before heading into the studio with it. Nevertheless, no live recordings of decent quality have surfaced until this weekend, when the band performed a yet-untitled song on the air at KBCO. Fans have been calling this song “Home.” [Paste]

Justin Timberlake May Use MySpace To Launch A Talent Competition
So says his manager, Johnny Wright. If Wright is to be believed, Timberlake is as enthused about possibilities for the future of MySpace as he is unenthused about possibilities for the future of his recording career. [MTV News]

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Song Of The Summer Countdown: Adele, America Can’t Quit You

by (@unclegrambo)


[Click here for a larger image.]

Well, for those of you who thought you had heard the last of Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep” after it was bested by Katy Perry‘s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” in last week’s Song Of The Summer Countdown, Adele will have you know that she’s not the type to go out quietly. Adele’s composite S.O.T.S. score slipped by one point from last week, but thanks to Katy Perry’s slippage of four points, we have ourselves the first ever tie in this here humble countdown!

In other chart insights, the summer of Pitbull continues to roll along nicely. “Give Me Everything,” which features Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer, just hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which factors both sales and radio airplay in its formula. The song seems unescapable at the moment; Pitbull and Ne-Yo performed it both on the Today Show and The Voice last week alone, continuing to give it some much needed momentum as we begin to approach the dog days. But as huge as this song is in its current incarnation, we can’t help but wonder how big it would’ve gotten if Shakira had sang the hook (as she was originally supposed to)?

One other interesting factoid for you S.O.T.S. watchers out there. If you check out the Top 100 songs on Metrolyrics, a site that is solely dedicated to helping readers find out what some of their favorite vocalists are actually singing, their current number one is “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj (which seems to be making a nice run of its own right now). If we were to take a guess as to why this song is popping over the rest, we would have to say that the speed at which Nicki raps probably confuses a lot of her listeners, so getting a helping hand with the lyrics really comes in handy when, like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, someone asks you to start spontaneously rapping!

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Nick Jonas Covers “Edge Of Glory” And Lady Gaga Swoons

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Planning to cover “Rolling in the Deep”? Get in line. Planning to cover “The Edge of Glory”? Get ready to be promoted by Lady Gaga herself. Nick Jonas learned as much when he played the Gaga single, among other covers, on July 1 at a Microsoft Store in Los Angeles. Two days later, Gaga rehosted fan footage of the performance, adding the slate “THE EDGE OF JONAS” (in her favorite font, Impact), and tweeted her praise:

For better-quality footage of the performance, plus its continuation into Bruno Mars‘s “Just the Way You Are” and Joe Jonas’s “When You Look Me In The Eyes,” check this higher-definition fan video.

Lady Gaga Swoons Over Nick Jonas’ ‘Edge of Glory’ Cover [Billboard]

Thanks To The Beastie Boys, Spike Jonze Is Returning To Music Videos … But What Of His Peers?

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The Beastie Boys announced on Friday that a Spike Jonze-helmed music video for new single “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win,” featuring Santigold, is on its way later this month. The preview image above speaks volumes; the action-figure Beastie Boys, crouched for cover behind an overturned flatbed bearing their old-school logo, are prepared for some sort of Bond/Inception battle. We’re already excited.

That said, it seems slightly inaccurate to say that Jonze and the Beastie Boys have re-teamed, per se. The new clip likely didn’t require the Beastie Boys to even set foot in front of a camera or microphone, which probably suits them fine; they had a mere cameo, after all, in their “Make Some Noise” video. We are nonetheless thrilled to hear that Jonze is making another music video.

Over the past few years, music videos have had a miniature revival, but many of the innovative music video directors are no longer working in the medium. Jonas ?kerlund never stopped, but he’s enjoyed a return to popularity thanks to his videos for Lady Gaga (“Paparazzi” and “Telephone”). Nigel Dick also continues to make music videos, though his fort? was teenpop; none of his videos for Nickelback and others have been anywhere near as iconic as clips he shot for Britney Spears (“…Baby One More Time,” “Sometimes,” “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” and “Oops…I Did It Again”) and the Backstreet Boys (“As Long As You Love Me,” “All I Have To Give,” “Drowning”), not to mention the MTV original movie 2Gether.

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Watch The Throne Now Available For Pre-Order And With Official (?) Release Date

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When rumors swirled last week that Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration Watch the Throne would be released on July 4, we speculated on the likelihood of such a release, concluding that the release date decision was really up to Kanye, then went to the source and got an official denial, which in hindsight makes perfect sense, since Kanye spent the weekend performing, at Summerfest in Milwaukee on Thursday and at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, which would, we presume, preclude finishing the album.

July 4 did turn out to be a benchmark for the album, despite it not actually being released: shortly after midnight, the album became available for pre-order (CD and digital, deluxe and standard), with an announced “ship date” of Tuesday, August 2, 2011, apparently confirming weekend rumors, attributed to Ryan Seacrest, that the album would be coming in August. The album art, also revealed on July 4, can be seen below:

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James Blunt Covers Katy Perry For Billboard

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Everyone else in the United States may have taken the day off yesterday, but Billboard‘s “Mashup Mondays” was in session?possibly because yesterday’s contributor, James Blunt, isn’t an American. Blunt and band leapt at the opportunity for contrast, covering Katy Perry‘s “California Gurls.” We’re not sure to what extent the scaled-back, near-acoustic rendition of last year’s Song Of The Summer is a gag; there’s a wink in every grin he gives the camera, though half the time it’s on lines like “they’ll melt your popsicle,” but the rendition isn’t sloppy.

Blunt jokes characteristically in the interview segment after the song. He explains his song selection by noting, “I sing like a girl myself, so why not?” and comments, on Perry, “I suppose I’ve always admired her, ’cause she’s just got great hands”:

We see what you did there.

We only wish Billboard had gotten footage of Blunt “trying the Snoop Dogg rap,” about which Blunt only says “It’s not on the track — particularly with an English accent it doesn’t really work.”