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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

Shakira and Rihanna team up for 'Can't Remember to Forget You': Hear it here

It’s finally here, the song pop fans have been waiting for: the infamous Ripoll and Fenty collaboration!

Or maybe you know them better by their first names, Shakira and Rihanna. The two international divas have teamed up for their much-touted first song together, a vibey banger called ” Can’t Remember to Forget You.”

Give their new track a listen below:

READ FULL STORY

The (underwhelming) best-selling album of 2013: Justin Timberlake's '20/20 Experience'

In 2013, a mediocre year for mega-albums, Justin Timberlake’s mediocre The 20/20 Experience outsold everything else, going home with 2.43 million smooth-grooving fans.

As Billboard notes, no other top album has sold so little since SoundScan began tracking sale 22 years ago—for contrast, Adele’s 21 moved nearly 6 million in 2011 and almost 4 and a half million in 2012, giving her the top seller two years running.

READ FULL STORY

Behind the Scenes 2013: Miley Cyrus explains the origin of the singing cat at the AMAs: 'I found it on Tumblr'

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly runs down some of the best performances from all across the music world in 2013. One of the entries on that list was Miley Cyrus’ performance of “Wrecking Ball” at November’s American Music Awards, which found Cyrus singing the power ballad in front of a giant projection of a cat who “sang” along and wept diamonds during the song’s climax.

Like many of the elements of Cyrus’ visual approach, the genesis of that performance began on the Internet. “I found that cat on Tumblr,” Cyrus told EW. “I’m obsessed with cats but I have four dogs so I can’t have a cat. But I am obsessed with cats. So I found this cat and sent it to ['We Can't Stop' video director] Diane Martel, and we turned it into this little GIF. For some reason, when I saw it, I felt like it would be the saddest thing to see this cat sing ‘Wrecking Ball’ with me. I had to track down the dude who made [the original Tumblr post] who lives in Japan. I think a lot of kids knew what that cat was. They had seen that cat online before because it got passed around on Twitter.”

Once they had the basic idea down, it was time to expand. READ FULL STORY

Lea Michele's piano-ballad 'Battlefield': Hear her new single here

Lea Michele has already launched a “Cannonball,” and now she’s assessing the damage on the “Battlefield.”

Michele’s debut solo album, Louder, lands in March, and the march to its release is on with the arrival of the piano ballad “Battlefield,” which uses the same metaphor that Pat Benetar made popular several decades ago. It doesn’t have the same kind of propulsion as “Cannonball,” but it does show off her impressive pipes.

Give “Battlefield” a listen below — and try to figure out where that melody comes from, because it sounds deeply familiar: READ FULL STORY

Best and Worst 2013: The Worst Albums of the Year, starring Lil Wayne, Five Finger Death Punch, and John Fogerty

Let’s face it: Outside of a few exceptions, the bulk of the music that came out this year (or any given year) falls into the “pretty much okay” category. It takes a remarkable feat to cross the bridge from “merely disappointing” or “aggressively sub par” over to “truly, remarkably heinous.”

Which is to say: The five albums listed below aren’t merely boring or trite or annoying (though they are in fact all of those things). Each of the five long-players below had to go the extra mile. As many have taught us in the past, it takes quite a bit of work to be this terrible.

So here are EW’s picks for the five worst albums of 2013. They are all terrible. Let us never speak of them again. READ FULL STORY

Daft Punk, Pink, Kendrick Lamar among first announced Grammy performers

The fans have asked “Just Give Me A Reason” to watch the Grammys, and the producers (and Pink) have answered.

Believe it or not, we’re only about a month away from the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, which will take place Sunday, January 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. While plenty of people are invested in the nominees, the real stars of that particular show are the performers, and the bookers have begun to roll out the docket.

First up is Pink and Nate Ruess, who will be performing “Just Give Me A Reason,” the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper that the fun. frontman co-wrote with Pink for her excellent 2012 album The Truth About Love. It will mark the first time the pair have been on network television together, though hardly the first Grammy appearances for either artist: Pink last showed up at the 2010 awards to perform a stunning rendition of “Glitter in the Air,” and fun. showed up on last year’s show to blast out “Carry On.” READ FULL STORY

Watch: Beyonce talks about childhood and crushed dreams in new video

By releasing her latest and most likely greatest album all at once (and exclusively on iTunes) last week, Beyoncé spared us months of advance marketing.

But Beyoncé, it’s clear, will not go forth without some rigamarole: Yesterday, as part of a push leading up to the physical release of the album this Saturday (and presumably continuing through Christmas), she released the second installment of the “mini art feature,” “Self-Titled,” about the making of the album.

Most interestingly, she reveals how she discovered Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech, which is sampled on “***Flawless”: by “scrolling through videos about feminism on YouTube.” Beyoncé, in other words, is modest enough to admit that she educates herself on feminism like any one else who’s not in a grad program—and confident enough to claim that knowledge for her art.

READ FULL STORY

Robin Thicke leaves the dancing to the pros in 'Feel Good' video: Watch it here

Robin-Thicke.jpg

Robin Thicke will forever have a hard time making music videos, if only because his clip for “Blurred Lines” became so iconic (and was so full of breasts).

Still, he really gives it a go in “Feel Good,” for the latest single from his album Blurred Lines. Once again, Thicke still invites along a group of ladies, though unlike the “Blurred Lines” gals, these women are tastefully dressed in Vegas showgirl costumes (not to be confused with Showgirls costumes). Really, it’s like the old school Sin City version of the Radio City Christmas show — if Dean Martin dreamed up a stage review and set it to a pulsating whisper track.

So yeah there’s no bare boobs, but there are some pretty colors and some top-shelf dancing. Give “Feel Good” a look below.  READ FULL STORY

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