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Taylor Swift, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Paul McCartney Join Grammy Performance Lineup

Grammy AwardsThis year’s Grammy Awards lineup is nothing if not diverse. Recently announced Paul McCartney and Ringo Star will perform alongside Taylor Swift, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, John Legend, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, Carole King, and Sara Bareilles. The crew joins several previously announced artists, such as Katy Perry, LordeRobin Thicke, and fun.‘s Nate Ruess. We’ll also see what one can only imagine will be a strange, yet intriguing collaboration between Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder.

Check out the full performance list here, and catch the 56th annual Grammy Awards Jan. 26th on CBS.

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'American Idol' Is Nothing Like Coca-Cola

american idolBillboard today has a piece regarding the highs and (more recently) lows of American Idol and the show’s upcoming season. It rather sadly exposes the whole production as a microcosm of the floundering, old-school end of the music industry. The players are scrambling behind the scenes to figure out why ratings plummeted in later seasons, changes are being made, and the faces of the show are desperately trying to make us remember Idol‘s former glory as a ratings bonanza and a legitimate factor in the music industry. Harry Connick Jr., a former mentor and now judge on the show (along with Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban), says:

Remember when they came out with new Coke and everybody was upset by it? It couldn’t have teed up the return of Coke Classic any better. When Coke Classic came out, it exploded even bigger than it was before because it created this void and people missed it. And I think that’s what this year can potentially do for this brand. People sort of missed their classic ‘American Idol.’ And it’s back.

Yeesh. New executive producer Per Blankens, who had great success running the Swedish version of the show, similarly stresses a “back to basics” formula. We think that this is the best show there is — the original that’s inspired others,” he says, “so it’s not that viewers necessarily want that big gimmicky change in order to come back to the TV couches. They want to see the show they’ve grown to love.
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Eurythmics Reuniting For Beatles Anniversary Tribute

eurythmicsOn February 9th, CBS will air The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles, to commemorate The Beatles‘ legendary first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The show will be taped on January 27th at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and will feature an all-star lineup, including Maroon 5, John Legend, John Mayer, Keith Urban, and, reunited for the first time since 2005, The Eurythmics. Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, whose string of hits in the 1980s as The Eurythmics place them as one of that decades most celebrated acts, last collaborated on two new tracks for a greatest hits album called Ultimate Collection.

How any of these artists reflect the legacy of The Beatles is a mystery that might puzzle historians for generations to come, if this were anything more than a ratings grab that will be forgotten almost immediately after it occurs.

Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich will also helm this special. “When it came around to booking this show, what I felt was important was to try and find those artists who not only would be able to interpret Beatles songs, but would also have an … understanding of what they meant,” he said, still not explaining how those thoughts relate to the artists he ultimately selected. I guess they’re all Grammy winners?

I’ll probably be watching though. The Eurythmics were a good band, really, and I’m interested to see the others’ takes on Beatles songs, though I hold out more hope for some than others. (h/t CoS)

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Sound And Vision: Will Nicki Minaj Vs. Mariah Carey Hurt the Rapper While Helping "American Idol"?

I’m gonna knock you out…. I told you I’m not f**kin’ putting up with her f**kin’ highness over there!

It’s not exactly prose worthy of Bob Dylan, or even Eminem, her sometime partner in rhyme, but with those fighting words, rapper Nicki Minaj recently helped make American Idol hot for the first time in years. She hurled them directly at Mariah Carey on October 2 in Charlotte, N.C., during the audition rounds for season 12 of Idol, which kicks off in January of 2013. (more…)

Exclusive Q and A: David Nail Talks About '1979,' Adele, and Life without Romantic Misery

It seems that no sooner did David Nail finish his tours with Keith Urban and Gavin DeGraw than he launched his own tour this fall. But the 2011 GRAMMY Award nominee is reveling in playing some smaller venues for the rest of the year.

Perhaps that’s because the music on his latest project, the three-song EP 1979, is so emotional, that it almost begs to be played in more intimate settings. As fans know, the songs on the recording are acoustic versions of his songs “The Sound Of A Million Dreams,” “Half Mile Hill,” and a cover of Adele‘s “Someone Like You,” which set off a Twitter storm when it was first released.

Nail took a bit of time out to talk about his latest recording and just why it speaks to his heart. (more…)

Nicki Minaj Vs. Mariah Carey: American Idol Explosive Showdown

Let’s talk about Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. When American Idol announced that Minaj would be joining the team, there were more than a few whispers about the future of the show and judge interaction. Now we know. Drama. Lots and lots of drama.

A new video acquired by TMZ shows Minaj and Carey at the Charlotte, NC auditions on Tuesday getting involved in a pretty heated argument. The cause of this diva-filled drama fest? Sources say the argument began after a disagreement over one of the contestants. (more…)

It's A Competition Just To Judge For American Idol

The drama is getting started a bit ahead of schedule over at American Idol. Ever since Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler decided to bow out from their roles as judges on the popular reality singing competition (though not Randy Jackson, apparently) there has been a great deal of speculation and conjecture as who will take over their spots. About a month since Tyler and Lopez’ departure, it looks like the panel for Season 12 is finally coming together. Maybe.

Mariah Carey was one of the first names floated around as a replacement judge. Indeed, Carey was the first new face to sign on for season 12 to the tune of $18 million. But it looks like Carey might not be the only woman at AmIdol this time around; Nicki Minaj is reportedly close to signing onto the show for $8 million and an allowance for hair, makeup, and outfits. Knowing Minaj, that could easily drive her price tag into the tens of millions.

While it doesn’t sound like Carey is too pleased with having to share the spotlight with another female performer it is unlikely that she would have been the lone diva for long. Katy Perry was also in talks with Idol to judge, though $20 million apparently wasn’t enough to land her.

As for the guys it’s still unknown who is going to be bro-ing out with Jackson in season 12. Keith Urban is in talks with the show and he would certainly lend the twang to the proceedings that Idol has been lacking. It would be an easy transition for Urban, too, as he has just wrapped up his judging gig on Australia’s incarnation of The Voice. The other big hosting candidate would be rapper and living embodiment of ego Kanye West. It also sounds like West has some pretty powerful backers, namely American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan and momager extraordinaire. So, he’s basically got it, right?

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Exclusive Q and A: Hunter Hayes Talks Carrie Underwood, Joe Walsh and the Young Woman who Inspired 'Wanted'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsHunter Hayes has hit gold with “Wanted,” the second single from from his self-titled debut album. Between that song and the first single from the album, Storm Warning, Hayes has also watched digital sales move beyond the one million mark.

Although Hayes is only 20, he is a virtuoso performer, writer, and producer who played every instrument and writes or co-writes every song on his album. The 2012 Academy of Country Music (ACM) New Artist of the Year nominee is on a musical fast track touring with household names including Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, and Hank Williams Jr. As he continues his own tour and looks ahead to joining Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” tour this fall, it’s clear his star is continuing to rise. Recently he took time out from his jam-packed schedule to talk about his music, performing and one special inspiration for his latest hit single.

OS: Congratulations on your recent success! You’ve certainly had a lot of great news lately. It has to feel surreal in a way.

HH: Just about five years ago or so when I was a freshman in high school, I was dreaming of this day. I was dreaming of traveling in a tour bus and playing theatres and [large venues]. Now I’m dreaming about traveling with several tour buses and playing arenas. This really is all a dream come true.

OS: So you co-wrote the song “Wanted.” What is the song about?

HH: I co-wrote it with Troy Verges. I had this idea about what I wanted to tell this (female) friend of mine who I just want to spend time with every time I’m home. So we were talking about that and he was helping me with what I’d say. So that’s really how the song came together.

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Your Country's Right Here: Connie Smith's Star Glistens in Hall of Fame Spotlight

It’s not that Connie Smith wasn’t thrilled to receive the news that she was one of three inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s just that when the news arrived, she was completely unprepared.

It came out of the blue, really, one night when Smith and her husband, country legend Marty Stuart, were having dinner. At Stuart’s request, she grabbed the ringing phone and heard the news that she was one of three 2012 inductees”Garth Brooks and session musician Hargus “Pig” Robbins are the others. She admitted to being speechless for a minute until she shared the announcement with Stuart.

“It just floored me. I wasn’t expecting it would ever happen to me”maybe sometime after I was gone,” said Smith, who established her country stardom in 1964 with the release of her first single “Once a Day,” that was the first No. 1 hit for a female country singer’s debut. “Marty and I just grinned at each other.”

For all her modesty and hesitation to keep herself in the spotlight, Smith’s credentials speak for themselves. During the inductee announcement ceremony earlier this month, music fans were reminded that Smith has recorded fifty-four albums and had a string of hits including “Ain’t Had No Lovin’,” “Just One Time” and “The Hurtin’s All Over.” The multi-GRAMMY Award nominee”who was most recently nominated with Stuart for their duet on “I Run to You,” which was on Stuart’s 2010 Ghost Train album”is cited by many other female vocalists including Dolly Parton to Martina McBride for her vocal quality and range.

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Vocal Points: Singers and their Accents

Every singing voice is unique. After all, that’s what makes vocalists special, and what makes music so interesting. But besides tonal quality, range and timbre, there is another factor that sometimes contributes to a singer’s sound”his or her accent. For some singers, accent doesn’t play a huge role in their music, but for others, it is a defining factor.

The Beatles Liverpudlian accent is, in my opinion, a defining factor in their music. It is very apparent in many of their songs, and is one of many factors that makes the band great. For example, the way that customer is pronounced in “Penny Lane” stands out, as well as countless other examples throughout their catalog of music. Still, it’s hard to know where exactly certain artists come from.

There are so many examples of British singers who sound as if they could easily be from the US. Elton John, Amy Winehouse and even Adele have been known to shed their British accents in song. And then there’s a band like Phoenix, who you’d never suspect comes from France. And this makes sense if you think about it. A regional accent is made up of differences in features like intonation, speech rhythm, vowel length and vowel quality, all of which naturally disappear in song. Intonation is replaced by the melody which the vocalist sings, typical speech rhythm changes based on timing and rhythm of the song, and vowel length and quality are oftentimes elongated and enunciated when sung. (more…)