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Best and Worst 2012: The five best stand-up albums of the year

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In the past, a stand-up comic basically had one career path: Build up some solid minutes on the club circuit, get yourself on late night TV, and hope that somebody with a check book comes calling with a sitcom deal or an HBO special. But while technology seems to be crushing a lot of other entertainment universes, it’s allowing more and more comedians to thrive thanks to podcasting, self-released albums, crowdsourced tours, easily-produced web series, and more opportunities for singular voices on risk-taking cable networks.

No matter where you like to get your yuks, it was a great year for comedy—and for pushing the envelope of what stand-up comedy could be. The albums below represent a small cross-section of the greatness that flowed from the minds of some of the most brilliant creators in entertainment today, and each one takes a wholly unique approach to the craft.

1) Tig Notaro, Live
Notaro’s Job-like narrative has been well documented, but Live (as in “Live Forever,” not Live At Red Rocks) works just as well even if you’re not intimately aware of Notaro’s health struggles. That’s how powerful and honest it is: Over the course of a half hour, she lays out her story with equal parts clinical pragmatism (her genuine insistence that the audience take probiotics whenever they are put on antibiotics) and “Can you believe this?” wonder. Notaro’s dry, deadpan style makes for quite a tightrope walk, as it’s always hard to tell whether or not she’s going to laugh or cry. The audience doesn’t know either, and that what makes Live a brilliant, thrilling listening experience. And despite all the doom and gloom, it’s also fantastically funny, like when a technician asks her what her secret to being skinny is, and she gives the gallows reply, “Oh, I’m dying.” It’s a testament to both the style and the substance of one of the best performances by anyone in any venue in 2012.  READ FULL STORY

TV Jukebox holiday edition! 'New Girl,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' and more spirited music-on-TV-moments

Happy finale week, Jukeboxers. With the holiday season in full swing, it wasn’t surprising that the Christmas-y start to last week’s column carried through to this edition. Unlike the average week at Jukebox, you probably recognized most of these songs in your favorite shows. But did you know which au courant artists were covering them? We’re here to tell you! Check out our picks and the full Spotify playlist below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
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Luke Bryan wins 9 American Country Awards

Luke Bryan didn’t want the American Country Awards to end.

He cleaned up during the fan-voted show, earning nine awards, including artist and album of the year. His smash hit “I Don’t Want This Night To End” was named single and music video of the year.

Miranda Lambert took home the second most guitar trophies with three. Jason Aldean was named touring artist of the year. Carrie Underwood won female artist of the year, and a tearful Lauren Alaina won new artist of the year.

Bryan, Aldean, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and Trace Adkins with Lynyrd Skynrd were among the high-energy performances.

The third annual ACAs were held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas Monday night.

TV Jukebox: 'The Good Wife,' 'Go On,' 'Boardwalk Empire,' and more music-on-TV-moments

AHS-SANTA-MCSHANE

EW staffers have been listening to Christmas music since early November, so it was music to our ears when shows started cranking up our holiday favorites this week. Or were we? Some of this week’s “show tunes” turned out to be downright ho-ho-horrifying.

So, if you’ve been wondering “What’s that song?” while watching your favorite shows, we’re here to tell you. Check out our picks and the full Spotify playlist below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!) READ FULL STORY

HBO teases Beyonce doc with fierce trailer -- VIDEO

The countdown to B’Doc’Day 2013 has officially begun.

On Feb. 16, 2013, HBO will air an “intimate feature-length” documentary directed by Beyoncé, about Beyoncé, and for Beyoncé superfans. (The film was originally supposed to air Feb. 13, but clearly Bey wants to give you the option of watching it while eating discounted Valentine’s chocolate.)

And while this newly released, 25-second teaser doesn’t really reveal anything explosive about the movie — did you suspect B would dance and wade through crowds of adoring fans? — it does give us a taste of some very Sasha Fierce-ian narration: “I always battle with, how much do I reveal about myself?” Beyoncé intones over footage of one of her eyes slowly opening. “If I’m scared, be scared. Allow it. Release it.” Then you and your boo and your boo boo can go ridin’. Watch the clip below:

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TV Jukebox: 'Nashville,' 'Glee,' 'Covert Affairs,' and more music-on-TV moments

December may have ushered in the cold, but Jukeboxers and shippers alike were feeling the heat these past two weeks — as were fans of dueling divas and devilish solos by scantily clad nuns.

So, if you’ve been wondering “What’s that song?” while watching your favorite shows, we’re here to tell you. Check out our picks and the full Spotify playlist below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
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Steven Tyler apologizes to Nicki Minaj for 'cornfield' comment, which almost certainly wasn't racist

Not only is Nicki Minaj starting trouble with the American Idol judges sitting next to her, but she has also started beef with people who are no longer with the show.

Last week, Aerosmith frontman, former Idol judge, and scarf industry propper-upper Tyler gave Minaj—and the rest of her Idol cohorts—what for during a conversation with MTV News. “I know that they’ve got something going on on the judges’ panel, [and] it shouldn’t be that, it should be just the opposite: They should have something going on, which is called camaraderie,” he said.

“They should have something going on so thick and beautiful that they can lay it over the new talent that’s trying to birth itself. It needs to be birthed, not judged by ‘entertainment’ factors, it needs to be judged by people that [are] honest, true, that have the ‘it’ factor. Not the ‘it’ factor because they can fight. The f— is that all about?”

Tyler took particular umbrage with Minaj’s approach, saying, “These kids, they just got out of a car from the Midwest somewhere and they’re in New York City, they’re scared to death; you’re not going to get the best. If it was Bob Dylan, Nicki Minaj would have had him sent to the cornfield! Whereas, if it was Bob Dylan with us, we would have brought the best of him out, as we did with Phillip Phillips. Just saying.”

Obviously, Tyler was continuing his “Midwest” riff when bringing up the idea of a “cornfield.” But Minaj didn’t see it that way: READ FULL STORY

R. Kelly's 'Trapped in the Closet' premiere: On the scene

Last night, R. Kelly introduced the new chapters of Trapped in the Closet wearing bright red leather gloves. Why? Because he can.

But that’s part of Kels’ draw as an artist: Most of the time, it’s impossible to tell his motivations for anything. Kelly is the rare artist who seems to exist completely outside of the realm of irony, thus making his motivations almost entirely mysterious. When it comes to one of his albums or the never ending fountain of joy and weirdness that is Trapped in the Closet, it’s best to just let it wash over you.

Such was the case Monday night at New York’s Landmark Sunshine Cinemas, where Kelly pulled back the curtain on the newest chapters of Trapped in the Closet (which air this Friday, November 23, at 9 PM on IFC). In front of a theater full of people eager to cast their eyeballs on a fresh batch of insanity, Kelly introduced the program by once again calling it “an alien,” as though the ideas visit him from another plane of existence. “I’m glad to be one of the astronauts to take this trip to a place unknown,” he told the rapt crowd.

After thanking everyone for coming out and apologizing for the five year gap between episodes of Trapped in the Closet (“I had to save up my money! A dollar a day!” he joked), he unveiled the new chapters. READ FULL STORY

TV Jukebox: 'Parenthood,' 'Bones,' 'Private Practice,' and more music-on-TV moments

Zombie cage match. Need I say more? Yeah… didn’t think so.

If you’ve been wondering “What’s that song?” while watching your favorite shows this week, we’re here to tell you which tunes really struck a chord. Check out our picks and the full Spotify playlist below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!) READ FULL STORY

Pink on VH1 tonight: Sneak peek at 'Behind the Music' episode and 'Storytellers' performance -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Looking for a fix of Pink? Look no further than VH1 tonight.

If you haven’t already OD’d on her latest album The Truth About Love, the singer is getting some royal treatment over on VH1 with an updated Behind the Music: Pink at 10 p.m. and her new episode of Storytellers airs at 11 p.m. EW has an exclusive clip from each show below.

The first clip details the changes in Pink’s life since she had her daughter, Willow Sage Hart, in June 2011. The second is a special treat — a stellar performance of Pink’s moving song “Who Knew,” which was taped in L.A. in August for her episode of Storytellers.

Enjoy the full episodes of Behind the Music and Storytellers at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. tonight, respectively, and get prepped with these exclusive sneak peeks here on EW.com now:

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