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Five reasons everyone should see the Miley Cyrus 'Bangerz' tour

As Miley Cyrus herself surely anticipated, the internet has embraced her simulating fellatio on a man in a Bill Clinton costume as the micro-scandal to help promote the start of the Bangerz Tour. I was there in Vancouver on Valentines Day, and I completely missed this bit of theater. Probably because I was in the throes of sensory overload—the kind of state one hopes for but so often finds missing from a proper arena show. (READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE.)

In the issue of Entertainment Weekly arriving on stands on Thursday, I write all about the mind-frying experience that is Miley’s new tour, and how persuasively she sells the genre-bending songs from Bangerz live. But here are five reasons to buy a ticket, even—or especially—if you think Miley’s little better than a human meme. And they have almost nothing to do with fake Clinton fellatio.

The crowd: If you’ve got any curiosity at all about teen girls and what intrigues and excites them in popular culture in 2014, you can see thousands of them respond to Miley in real time. (There weren’t only teen girls at the show in Vancouver, but as grown man who wore khakis there, I can tell you that I was very much in the minority.) They’re entertained, rather than dully influenced, by the spectacle of the teenage id. And they get to enjoy it free from the looming eye of boys, schoolmasters, and parents. Most importantly, they’re fun—fully engaged and raring to party.

The comedy: Miley, a great Saturday Night Live host with years of lowbrow comedy training in the Disney coal mines, sends herself up better than anyone else could. She starts the show by sliding down a giant tongue, landing smartly, and giving a friendly wave, then proceeds to rain down gag props and costumes, taking every opportunity to undercut her own tawdry image. How can you not laugh when she wears a shirt covered by her own face, with her actual butt sticking out right under it? READ FULL STORY

Nicki Minaj vs. Mariah Carey, round 253: Which video do you prefer?

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Even though they no longer share a judges’ table on American Idol, that doesn’t mean Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey can’t still go head to head.

Yesterday, both ladies unveiled brand new videos. Minaj pulled back the curtain on the clip for her new single “Lookin Ass N—a,” which puts her in the middle of the desert in stark black and white and gives her a machine gun (until the end, when she gets a second machine gun). It’s not especially subtle, but it does get her point across. Give it a watch below: READ FULL STORY

Charts: Bruno Mars gets a Super Bowl boost, Pharrell keeps getting 'Happy'-er

As it turns out, being on the most-watched television broadcast in history is good for business.

Bruno Mars, who provided the only semblance of entertainment during a lopsided Super Bowl 10 days ago, found himself back in the upper echelon of the Billboard album chart for the second straight week when his second album Unorthodox Jukebox made the jump to number three this week (last week, it sat at no. 7). The album, which was released back in December 2012, moved 81,000 units in the week following the Super Bowl, an 82 percent increase over the previous week’s total.

It wasn’t quite enough, though, to put Mars at the top of the chart this week. That spot belongs to Now That’s What I Call Music! 49, which sold 98,000 copies in its opening week. The seemingly indestructible compilation series has been providing listeners with 10-month-old hit songs since its debut in 1998 — this iteration provides hitherto unavailable access to Lorde’s “Royals,” Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” One Direction’s “Story of My Life,” and Imagine Dragons’ “Demons.” Now bumps the soundtrack to Frozen out of the top spot, where it had sat for two weeks. The Disney monster still sold 88,000 copies and is on its way to crossing the one million-sold mark next week.

But back to Bruno: Even more impressive than the bump for his Unorthodox Jukebox was the one received by his first album, Doo Wops & Hooligans, which nearly made its way back to the top 10 with 26,000 copies sold. That’s not bad for an album from 2010, though Mars shouldn’t necessarily crown himself king of everything just yet: Of the 112 million viewers who took in Mars’ halftime performance, that means less than one percent of those people turned around and bought an album. Wouldn’t you think the strike rate would be better than that, even considering the two million copies of Unorthodox Jukebox already in circulation?

Perhaps Mars should just get himself nominated for an Academy Award. Though Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is once again the top song on the Billboard Hot 100, the big surprise this week is the surge of Pharrell Williams’ Oscar-nominated track “Happy,” which jumped from number eight to number two this week. Could Williams’ dramatic increases in airplay and digital sales possibly send him to the top of the Hot 100 next week, and out-race Perry’s “Horse”?

The eternal appeal of 311, the '90s bro-band that never burned out

I remember the jacket: a wide-lapeled, three-quarter length brown leather “pimp” coat which, in the mid-’90s, when I saw frosted-tipped 311 frontman Nick Hexum wearing it onstage, represented the ne plus ultra of vintage-store finds. At that time I wore my own statement piece, one perhaps even more emblematic of the era—a 311 t-shirt that hijacked a famous corporate logo (I don’t recall which one). Or maybe my older brother owned the logo shirt. It’s him who, before we went with his friends to see 311 play that night in Providence, wondered whether he should start wearing his wallet chain again.

I describe these fleeting fashions and fugitive memories because 311—the Omaha fivesome who moved to L.A. in 1991 and strung together rap-rock, reggae-pop, and allusions to Aleister Crowley for a stoned-romantic brand of Californication—have a new single, “Five of Everything,” and their 11th album, Stereolithic, coming on March 11. Which will also mark the fourteenth annual concert event known as “311 Day.” Add to these evocative figures the PR data on their last album—it entered the album chart at number 7, becoming their eighth straight top 10 debut—and you see that instead of receding with the ’90s in a haze of hydroponic smoke, the band have taken the “do what thou wilt” credo deep into the new age of carry-out cannabis.

READ FULL STORY

Ingrid Michaelson plays her own Robert Palmer in new 'Girls Chase Boys' video - EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE

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Singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson famously channeled a handful of classic rock stars  — including John Lennon, David Bowie, and Gene Simmons — in her 2012 clip for “Blood Brothers.” Now, for her new single “Girls Chase Boys,” she’s tipping her Patrick Nagel-painted hat to Robert Palmer.

The track is the first single from Michaelson’s brand new album Lights Out, due April 15. It’s a darker, more complicated side of the singer, she told EW: “‘Girls Chase Boys’ started out as a break up song but took on a deeper meaning as I continued writing. More than just being about my experience, its focus shifted to include the idea that, no matter who or how we love, we are all the same. The video takes that idea one step further, and attempts to turn stereotypical gender roles on their head. Girls don’t exclusively chase boys. We all know this. We all chase each other and in the end we are all chasing after the same thing: love.”

The clip is a gender-tweaking homage to Palmer’s  1988 video for “Simply Irresistible,” one of the more iconic clips of the decade. Check it out below: READ FULL STORY

Katy Perry, Lorde, Imagine Dragons all get early post-Grammys sales boosts

If Katy Perry is actually a witch, then she certainly cast the right spell on music buyers.

Though her performance during the 56th Annual Grammy Awards was met with mixed reviews (EW loved it; the rest of the Internet was more lukewarm), Perry has the biggest post-Grammys sales bump so far.

We won’t know which albums got the biggest spikes until next week (the sales numbers close Sunday night), though a number of songs—including Perry’s “Dark Horse,” featuring rapper Juicy J—have already seen noticeable increases following their appearance on Sunday night’s show.

“Dark Horse” has been on top of the iTunes singles chart all week, and it’s the number one song on Billboard‘s Digital Songs chart (which includes Monday’s sales) this week. It sold 294,000 downloads last week, up 12 percent from last week’s tally. That boost was enough to push “Dark Horse” into the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, which is Perry’s ninth trip to that plateau.

Other big gainers on the Billboard Digital Songs chart include Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” (up 206 percent), John Legend’s “All Of Me” (a 110 percent gain), and Pink & Nate Ruess’ “Just Give Me a Reason” (a 122 percent boost). Imagine Dragons also got a jolt with the release of the Kendrick Lamar-assisted remix of “Radioactive,” which helped the song to a 58 percent sales gain.

It’ll be interesting to see who will see their album sales boosted by the Grammys, which were watched by nearly 30 million people. Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories will almost certainly see a giant bounce, as should Lorde’s Pure Heroine, Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer, Different Park, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist. However, it’s entirely possible the biggest winner of the post-Grammys week could be 2014 Grammy Nominees, the compilation album that debuted at number two with 59,000 copies sold.

What music did you buy in the wake of the Grammys? Let us know in the comments.

Sara Bareilles on her supposed rivalry with Katy Perry: 'People really felt like Katy was ripping me off, and I disagree'

One of the more intriguing pop controversies of 2013 was the friendly fire exchanged over the perceived similarities between Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.”

This Sunday’s Grammy Awards just might bring some resolution to that argument — or at least declare a “winner”: Both tracks are nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance, alongside Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” and Lorde’s “Royals.”

If Sunday represents an end to the controversy, that will suit Bareilles just fine. “I was surprised and to be honest disappointed at how vicious people were,” Bareilles tells EW. “It’s not my nature, and it’s not reflective of what I feel I hope to incite in people. People really felt like Katy was ripping me off, and I disagree.”

Bareilles was most frustrated by the fact that she was apparently supposed to be rivals with Perry. “Katy and I have known each other a really long time, she’s a friend of mine, and it seemed like there was this infusion of people wanting to create conflict and drama. I find that to be really fatiguing,” she said. READ FULL STORY

Sara Bareilles on her Grammy nominations: 'I've always had the imposter syndrome'

When asked about winning awards, many artists spout clichés about it being an honor to just be nominated. Sara Bareilles, though — who is up for two major categories at this Sunday’s Grammy Awards — really sounds like she means it.

“It just felt like validation, like acceptance,” Bareilles told EW of her nomination for Album of the Year for her 2013 collection The Blessed Unrest. “To put me among the other nominees… My peers in that category are—I mean, Taylor Swift is a juggernaut.”

“I’ve always had the imposter syndrome, like I don’t really belong here,” she continued. “I keep waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and be like, ‘Uh, you have to go.’ I think I’m finally relaxing a little bit about that. Love me or hate me, I’ve earned my place here. That’s how it feels. I think I’d be doing this whether I was able to be a Grammy nominee or not. This is the reason I think I got a turn on the Earth.”

She has been nominated a few times before, though these nominations felt different because Bareilles thought she was done with The Blessed Unrest. READ FULL STORY

Your Super Bowl National Anthem singer is... Opera star Renee Fleming

Carrying on the great tradition of Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Kathy Lee Gifford, and the Grambling University Band, Renee Fleming will take on the task of providing bookies with another prop bet by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, February 2.

Fleming is an acclaimed opera singer who has picked up four Grammys over the course of her career and is probably best known outside of the classical world as one of the voices on the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and for her odd (but not unpleasant) collection of indie rock covers from a few years ago. (She also sang the theme song to the 2012 animated disaster Rise of the Guardians.) She’s undoubtedly one of the most competently trained singers to take on the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in some time—it’s a challenging song that has derailed all kinds of performers, especially on big stages.

The addition of Fleming completes the circle of music performers at this year’s Super Bowl, with Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers handling the halftime show. U2 will also reportedly have some sort of presence during the course of the broadcast, most likely in the form of an ad in support of their new single “Invisible” and/or their upcoming new album. And Prince will be appearing on a special episode of New Girl that is airing right after the game.

The job of Super Bowl National Anthem singer is tough, because usually the best you can hope for is to be pleasantly forgettable. Nobody wants to mess it up, but at the same time, it would be difficult to top Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Super Bowl XXV in 1991, which is one of the greatest music moments in all of television history.

Who is your favorite Super Bowl National Anthem singer?

The Oscar music snubs: no love for Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, 'Llewyn Davis' or Coldplay

Check to make sure the rivers haven’t turned to blood and all first-borns aren’t suddenly afflicted with pox, because the impossible has happened: Taylor Swift was not nominated for an award.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ passing on Swift’s “Sweeter Than Fiction” (from the film One Chance) is easily one of the most high-profile snubs from this morning’s Oscar nominations announcement. The song was nominated for a Golden Globe and seemed like an obvious pick for an invite on Oscar night, if only because people love giving Taylor Swift gold trophies (and also because it would have brought some much-needed youth to the Oscar party).

Instead, the contenders in the Best Original Song category are U2′s “Ordinary Love” (from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom), Karen O’s “The Moon Song” (Her), Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” (Despicable Me 2), Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel’s “Alone But Not Alone” (from the deeply obscure Christian film of the same name), and the song “Let It Go” from the Disney blockbuster Frozen, which is performed by Idina Menzel and written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. (It’s the writers, not the performers, who take home the gold.)

The race seems to be down to the Golden Globe winner and sentimental favorite “Ordinary Love” (which would be as much an award for the late Nelson Mandela as it would be for U2) and the sales juggernaut “Let It Go” (which has propelled the Frozen soundtrack to the top of the mainstream album chart and elevated it to gold status). “Happy” and “The Moon Song” are much longer shots, but both are both cool choices crafted by deeply respected members of the music world.

Of course, that leaves “Alone But Not Alone,” one of the most inexplicable Oscar nominations in the history of the awards. The film barely exists, and the song itself is a dreary dirge of a hymn that sounds like it should be played in the midst of a sleepy Sunday morning mass. It has virtually no chance of winning, and its legacy will be as a bizarre curiosity in a category notorious for them.

It would be a less shocking inclusion if the Oscar nomination shortlist (75 songs in all) didn’t contain so many markedly stronger options. READ FULL STORY

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