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One Direction strum up folky heartache on new single 'Story of My Life' -- LISTEN

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Forget about electric guitars — the lads of One Direction have a new favorite instrument: the kickdrum.

The percussive pounder has made a comeback thanks to Mumford & Sons, and now acts like Gavin Degraw, Lady Antebellum, and, yep, One Direction, are releasing folk-infused singles to radio.

The boy band’s new track “Story of My Life,” which will appear on the upcoming Midnight Memories (their third disc in less than three years), slows things way down from “What Makes You Beautiful” or “Best Song Ever,” though it still proves propulsive. Per usual, the boys take turns singing on the verses, though the chorus seems to feature Harry Styles’ rasp much louder than any of his other bandmates.

Lyrically, the song invites some shades of grey into One Direction’s normally sunny universe as they sing about a torrid romance. “The story of my life: I give her hope,” they wail, but then flip the switch and say, “I spend her love until she’s broke inside.” The writing isn’t all so tight — for instance: “Written on these walls are the colors that I can’t change/Leave my heart open but it stays right here in its cage” — but it’s not unlike Phillip Phillips’ smash “Home” in tone or sentiment.

The die-hard Directioners will eat this up, but casual fans who like their boy bands peppy and poppy (i.e. more “Larger Than Life” than “Shape of My Heart”) may prove tougher to convince. Give the song a listen and weigh in with your thoughts below: READ FULL STORY

Katy Perry explains new album 'Prism' and writing about her divorce from Russell Brand -- EXCLUSIVE

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Katy Perry’s new album Prism (out 10/22; read EW critic Nick Catucci’s take here) is full of the bouncy, joyous pop tunes that she’s known for. But perhaps the most surprising aspect is her bluntness when writing about her 2012 divorce from Russell Brand in the poignant-but-hopeful closing track “By the Grace of God.” In it, Perry sings that post-break-up she could be found on her bathroom floor crying.

“Well, imagine what you go through,” she tells EW. “Imagine what happens when you go through a break up. We all go through break ups and we all get very depressed and desperate. The lyrics are very exact and autobiographical. That’s how I write. But the one thing about those lyrics is you can hear me finding my strength throughout the song. It starts off really low and then I kind of stand up for myself and say, ‘No!’”

Perry adds: “Sometimes you look in the mirror when you’re crying and if you look in the mirror it will make you cry more because you’re feeling sorry for yourself. And then sometimes you look in the mirror and you cry and I’ve been like: ‘Snap out of it! It’s time to — come on — grow up! No!’ There’s almost like this inner warfare that comes out, this inner battle between the good angel and the bad devil.”

Perry, who says her recent single “Unconditionally” was partially influenced by current boyfriend John Mayer, specifies that “By the Grace of God” is the lone track from Prism specifically about her relationship with Brand. “All the other songs are stories from different times in my life,” she says. “It’s people making assumptions. It’s kind of hard because I am so vulnerable and I am [such an] open book, but I don’t feel like I want to hand over a specific story about each and every song. I don’t feel like I want every song to come with a little package, a little tabloid-al package because it’s like, ‘Why don’t you let the song be a little unspecific to the listener? Then the listener can use it and relate to it in their own way. So, not every song comes up with an excerpt. They’re biographical but all you’re going to get in the songs is just that.”

For much more from Katy Perry, look for EW’s intimate all-access profile of the star on newsstands Nov. 1.

Lady Gaga may regret telling R. Kelly 'Do What U Want' on new single: Hear it here

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When Lady Gaga announced the full track list for her upcoming album ARTPOP, the most intriguing entry for super freaks everywhere was the song titled “Do What U Want.” It wasn’t so much that it was a particularly provocative name for a song, but more because the phrase “featuring R. Kelly” came right after.

That song has been released, along with a photo of Gaga’s be-thonged buttocks that serves as the cover art. The song, built on a totally ’80s synth throb, finds Gaga encouraging listeners to “Do what you want with my body.” Duet partner R. Kelly takes her up on that, crooning about doing shots and flying on private jets before doing what he wants with her body (in the back of a club, of course, because all the best R. Kelly verses take place in the back of a club).

Honestly, the track doesn’t quite come together (Gaga’s vocal style clashes too much with both the track and Kelly’s smooth R&B pipes), but it’s an intriguing mind-meld nonetheless. Give it a listen below.  READ FULL STORY

Rihanna kicked out of Abu Dhabi mosque













Oh Rihanna, will you ever stop causing international incidents via social networking? Only a week after one of her tweets led to the arrest of three people in Thailand for operating an illegal sex show, Rihanna found herself in hot water in Abu Dhabi thanks to a handful of photos she put up on her Instagram account.

While in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, RiRi visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the biggest centers for worship in the country. Clad head-to-toe in black (including a hair-covering headscarf) in accordance with Islamic tradition, she snapped a handful of Instagram photos on the grounds.

But those shots raised the ire of others at the mosque, and according to CNN, she and her entourage were asked to leave following the impromptu photo shoot.

“She was asked to leave before entering the actual mosque, and then after taking some photos that did not fit within the rules and regulations set out to preserve the sacredness of the center,” representatives of the mosque said in a statement.

The incident did not get in the way of Rihanna’s performance in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night, and she has not responded to the situation formally nor on Twitter. It seems as though they had better luck at the water park.

Taylor Swift goes 80s bubblegum on new single 'Sweeter Than Fiction' -- LISTEN

Whip out your pink tux and pierce your left ear — Taylor Swift wants to take you to a 1980s prom.

The pop-country star (and future The Giver actress) teamed up with fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff to pen “Sweeter Than Fiction,” a New Wavey track for the upcoming British biopic One Chance, which tells the story of Paul Potts, the down-on-his-luck store clerk who became an opera-singing sensation after winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2007.

Swift sings from the point of view of a longtime fan who believed in a performer’s talent long before anyone else did. “I’ve seen you fall, I’ve seen you crawl on your knees, eh eh” she sings during the opening verse. “I’ve seen you lost in a crowd, seen your colors fade.” The song’s main subject doesn’t mire for too long, though, and the tone of the lyrics quickly shifts to match the fizzy musical arrangement. “There you’ll stand ten feet tall, and I will say, ‘I knew it all along,’” Swift beams in the chorus. “I’ll be one of the many saying, ‘You made us proud.’”

The track, which will play over the end-credits of One Chance, is uplifting without being hokey and sweet without being cloying. It’s as light and airy as cotton candy — and just as addictive, too. Give it a listen below: READ FULL STORY

Your weekend must-listen: TLC's career collection '20'

Weekends call for a special soundtrack: Something celebratory without being too hype, background-y when needed but also capable of sparking kaffeklatsch-type conversation, and of course, high quality enough that you don’t feel you’re squandering your precious free time listening it. TLC’s 20 retrospective, out this week, hits all those marks and more. Because nothing should be harder than it has to be on the weekend, read this now so you’re ready to listen this evening before you hit the town, or tomorrow morning when you’re mellowing with some coffee.

Background: TLC dominated ’90s R&B with three delightfully titled albums (Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, 1992; CrazySexyCool, 1994; FanMail, 1999) that sold tens of millions of copies and threw off about 10 big hits, from “What About Your Friends” to “No Scrubs,” all of which you can hear on 20. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the group’s flamboyant rapper, died in a 2002 car crash, after which the group broke up.

READ FULL STORY

Katy Perry reveals how John Mayer (and Africa!) inspired her emotional new single 'Unconditionally' -- EXCLUSIVE

Pop superstar Katy Perry’s new album Prism comes out next Tuesday, Oct. 22 (you can stream the full album now at katyperry.com and read EW music critic Nick Catucci’s review here) but the singer has now officially released the second single, “Unconditionally.” An emotional, soaring ballad, the song is Perry’s favorite on the album and was actually inspired by Perry’s current love, John Mayer, and a recent trip she took. “‘Unconditionally’ was influenced by my boyfriend and also really influenced by Africa,” Perry reveals to EW. “I went to Madagascar and did a UNICEF trip that changed my life and gave me this song. It’s just a simple message about loving someone and accepting them and kind of driving at you don’t have to be so self-conscious, you don’t have to fear, because essentially, everybody has their stuff. Nobody comes stuff-free. Everybody has their things and you’re never going to be perfect, and accepting that and understanding that, especially in a relationship, it makes room for a real, genuine kind of love.”

For much more from Katy Perry, look for EW’s intimate all-access profile of the star on newsstands Nov. 1.

 

Avril Lavigne duets with husband Chad Kroeger, plonks tragic piano in new 'Let Me Go' video -- watch it here

Abandoned mansion, sadness on a velveteen couch, sands through the hourglass. Also, Chad Kroeger as guitar-strumming Benjamin Button. He’s old. Poof! He’s young.

These things and more happen in the new video for “Let Me Go,” a three-way duet between Avril Lavigne, her new Nickelback-frontman husband, and a bucket of eyeliner.

Enjoy: READ FULL STORY

Katy Perry's 'Prism' snippets now streaming on iTunes

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Katy Perry’s Prism won’t hit store shelves until next Tuesday, October 22 — but now there are 90 second snippets of every Prism track currently streaming on iTunes.

Though the previews are only a minute and a half long — and though you’ve already heard some of these tracks in full, including “Roar,” “Dark Horse,” and “Walking On Air” — you really can get a sense of the spectrum that Perry is covering on Prism: “Birthday” is frothy throwback disco, “This Is How We Do” is a bouncy party anthem, and “This Moment” is a full-on chest-thumping inspirational ballad. (“Double Rainbow” is unfortunately not a cover of this song.)

EW music critic Nick Catucci’s full review will be available later this week in the issue on stands and online this Friday. Until then, let us know what you think of what you’ve heard so far.

Britney Spears' new album has a title and a release date

Perhaps it’s just the nature of the cycles of pop music, but doesn’t it seem like Britney Spears has been gone for a while? Her last album Femme Fatale came out in 2011, but for some reason it seems like she’s been missing in action for twice that time.

Regardless, Brit is back with a vengeance. Her new album’s first single and video “Work Bitch” has already dropped, and yesterday she revealed that the new collection, which will be out December 3, is called Britney Jean.

Before you go assuming that she’s making some sort of awesome meta-allusion to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” just know that “Jean” is actually Spears’ given middle name. “It’s a personal album, and all my family, they all call me Britney Jean, it’s like a term of endearment, and I just wanted to share that with my fans,” she told London’s Capital FM yesterday.

Other details are relatively scarce, though we do know that Will.i.am is serving as executive producer and that “Work Bitch” doesn’t necessarily represent the album as a whole. “That song is a reflection of Britney moreso than the album,” Will told Billboard“The album is what the album is, but we felt that song needed to come out to keep the foundation on what Britney represents. But it shouldn’t reflect the album—an album is a body of work as a collective. If we had to pick a song like, ‘Oh, what song fits every color of the record,’ you shouldn’t do that… We felt that song represents ‘Piece of Me,’ that Britney oomph.”

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