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Grammy nomination snubs and surprises: Justin Timberlake, Sara Bareilles, Lorde and more

The nominations for the Grammy Awards always seem to lead to more arguments than any other music awards shows’ choices do. That’s inevitable, since the Grammys’ list of categories is so vast and sometimes confusing, and the criteria by which the nominating committee settles on its selections is often inexplicable.

The announcement of the list of potential Grammy winners last night was no different, and it starts at the top: Jay Z lead all artists with nine total nominations, even though his 2013 release Magna Carta…Holy Grail was considered tepid at best (an adjudication Jigga himself seems to share). What’s even stranger is that none of those nine nominations are in the Big Three categories: Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Record of the Year. He also shares a couple of those nominations with Justin Timberlake for “Suit & Tie.” So Jay taking home the most nominations is a little deceptive — it’s not like the year Adele scored a boatload of nods and then dominated the proceedings.

That’s only the beginning. Here are nine more confusing snubs and pleasant surprises embedded within the Grammy nominations.

Surprise: Justin Timberlake
Weep not for JT; he picked up seven nominations across a multitude of categories, including Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

READ FULL STORY

Daft Punk, Elton John, The Clash, and other join Tony Hawk and Ben Harper for second 'Boards + Bands' charity auction

Last year, Tony Hawk launched the first Boards + Bands auction, which raised over $126,000 to build skate parks for at-risk youth by auctioning off custom skateboard decks featuring hand-written lyrics from famous artists — and this year, the participants include Daft Punk, Ben Harper, members of the Clash, Elton John, and John Lydon.

The idea is that Hawk’s friends donated decks they actually rode. Then Hawk sent those boards to some of his rock star friends, who wrote lyrics to their skateboarder-approved tunes on the decks. “Last Year’s Boards + Bands auction surpassed all expectations,” Hawk said in a statement. “This year we have equal caliber of skaters and musicians contributing, so I am looking forward to seeing the excitement (and high bidding) they bring.”

The auction kicks off tomorrow, December 5, at the auction’s official site. You can take a look at the wares available online, or if you’re in Los Angeles, check out the decks at the Grammy Museum. You can also donate to Hawk’s cause even if you don’t want to buy a custom Elton John skateboard.

Check out the highlights from last year’s auction below.

READ FULL STORY

Bruce Springsteen announces new album and single 'High Hopes' for January

While most artists of his age enter a fallow period brought on by the comforts of success or a lack of meaningful inspiration (or both), Bruce Springsteen just keeps getting up and going to work every day.

He just announced that his new album High Hopes will be out on January 14, and that the album’s first single of the same name is out right now. It will be Springsteen’s 18th studio album and his fifth in seven years—a remarkable accomplishment, especially considering he once went seven years without releasing much of anything.

The new album consists of a series of new tracks recorded with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who sat in with Springsteen and the E Street Band on a bunch of shows during the band’s tour for 2012′s Wrecking Ball. It also contains a bunch of tracks previously recorded for other projects but never before released, which is how late E Streeters Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons came to be on High Hopes. READ FULL STORY

U2 unveil new song 'Ordinary Love' with lyric video: Watch it here

U2 recently started the process of getting back into the business of being U2, with a new manager settling into place and a new album arriving early next year.

Though that new album—their first since 2009′s No Line on the Horizon—still has no title or release date, we do have new U2 music in the form of “Ordinary Love” (which is thankfully not a cover of the fantastic Sade song of the same name).

The new tune was written and recorded specifically for the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which stars Idris Elba as the titular South African freedom-fighter. A snippet of the track first appeared in the trailer for Mandela, but now the band has put the whole thing up on Facebook, complete with a lyric video.

It sounds definitively U2-ish but is relatively unremarkable otherwise, though Bono does sound like he’s in fine form and the Edge has kept track of his guitar pedals during the band’s absence.

Check out the lyric video for U2′s “Ordinary Love” below.  READ FULL STORY

Report: U2 hint at album release date, reportedly undergo management change

Like the spy plane with which they share a moniker, U2 have been almost silent since they wrapped up the (admittedly massive) promotional tour for 2009′s No Line on the HorizonBut they plan on making a little noise in 2014.

According to Billboard, the band is sniffing around a tentative April release date for their still-untitled album that was produced by Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton. They are also reportedly searching for brand partners for an album-related announcement during the Super Bowl.

Fans have already gotten a taste of new U2 music in the trailer for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which features a portion of a new song called “Ordinary Love,” which the band wrote specifically for the movie. Check it out below:

READ FULL STORY

Ed Sheeran on working with Peter Jackson on 'The Hobbit' song 'I See Fire': 'I'm a massive fan of Tolkien and of Peter' - EXCLUSIVE

Yesterday, The Hobbit director Peter Jackson pulled back the curtain on “I See Fire,” the Ed Sheeran song that will play over the closing credits of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As Jackson explained on his Facebook page, the process began when the two had lunch during Sheeran’s tour through New Zealand, and continued after Jackson brought Sheeran in to view the movie and work on the song.

Sheeran has worked with a number of high-profile musicians—including Taylor Swift and Lupe Fiasco—but “I See Fire” was his first collaboration with a filmmaker. “He was fantastic,” Sheeran tells EW. “At every point where I’d be adding something, I’d play him the song afterwards. I was there for three days, and at the end of every day he would come and listen to the song and give me notes.”

“He knows what he wants,” he continued, “but he doesn’t pretend to be musical in any way. He let me go on with it, but he also knows his movie, so he would tell me something needs to be less energetic, or more relaxed, or whatever. He knows the colors and templates of what the song should be rather than how the melody should go.”

Sheeran’s also a longtime devotee of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien—The Hobbit was the first book his dad read to him as a child, and Sheeran’s grandfather owns a first edition of the novel. READ FULL STORY

Charts: Arcade Fire open on top, Eminem set for huge debut

Back in 2010, Arcade Fire scored their first number one with The Suburbs, an album that would go on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. The Canadian collective is back on top with their follow-up Reflektor, which opens its sales life at the top of the Billboard 200 with 140,000 copies sold. That’s a solid number, though its slightly below the kickoff week for The Suburbs, which picked up 156,000. 

Of course, Arcade Fire only spent a single week at number one last time around — The Suburbs was dethroned by Eminem’s Recovery, which had returned to the top of the chart in its eighth week of release. It looks like history will be repeating itself: Eminem’s just-released The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is on track to sell between 700,000 and 750,000 units this week, which would easily give Slim Shady his 11th chart-topper and the second-biggest opening of the year behind Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience.

That would also be right on pace with the opening week of Recovery, which opened with 741,000 copies sold. Of course, he’ll fall well short of the premiere week for 2000′s The Marshall Mathers LP, which hit a staggering 1.76 million copies. Em will even fall short of the first Marshall Mathers LP‘s second week, which saw it do another 800,000. Still, Slim Shady has shown remarkable durability despite shifting cultural allegiances and mixed reviews.

Eminem also finds himself on top of the Digital Songs chart this week, with “The Monster,” his Rihanna-assisted single, selling 373,000 downloads. READ FULL STORY

Sting and Paul Simon to tour North America together in 2014

It’s a bromance we never saw coming: Paul Simon and Sting will embark on a tour of North America together early next year.

The two, who spilled the news to The New York Times ahead of tomorrow’s official announcement, show plenty of chemistry in the article, teasing each other and fondly recalling their first gig together, at a fundraiser this spring for the Robin Hood Foundation. “After we finished [the set],” Simon tells the Times, “we both looked at each other and said: ‘Wow. That’s pretty interesting.’ ”

“Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together” will kick off in February, and feature the two playing their hits in combination and on their own. Tickets go on sale a week from tomorrow.

Patti Smith remembers Lou Reed: 'He was our generation's New York poet'

The most remarkable aspect of the cavalcade of tributes that have been written in the wake of Lou Reed’s death last weekend is that just about everybody—including his collaborators and friends—has written about him with a genuine sense of awe. That’s how powerful and influential a personality Reed was, and that’s how deeply he touched those who were closest to him.

Such is the case with Patti Smith, Reed’s sometime friend and fellow downtown denizen. In a lovely, poetic tribute published by The New Yorker, Smith talks about hearing of Reed’s passing, reflecting on New York in the ’70s, and connecting him to a long cavalcade of poets. She talks with great passion about running across Reed while she was building the Patti Smith Group. “Within a few years, in that same room upstairs at Max’s, Lenny Kaye, Richard Sohl, and I presented our own land of a thousand dances,” she wrote. “Lou would often stop by to see what we were up to. A complicated man, he encouraged our efforts, then turned and provoked me like a Machiavellian schoolboy. I would try to steer clear of him, but, catlike, he would suddenly reappear, and disarm me with some Delmore Schwartz line about love or courage. I didn’t understand his erratic behavior or the intensity of his moods, which shifted, like his speech patterns, from speedy to laconic. But I understood his devotion to poetry and the transporting quality of his performances.”

Check out the entirety Smith’s remembrance at The New Yorker, and be sure to also read the tributes by Reed’s wife Laurie Anderson and friend and collaborator Lars Ulrich.

Spike Jonze previews this Sunday's YouTube Music Awards, featuring Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Fire

Director Spike Jonze has had a busy 2013: He produced Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (currently the number one movie in the country), his next directorial effort Her is set to roll out at Christmas, and this Sunday, he’ll oversee the first ever YouTube Music Awards.

The show, which celebrates both high-octane stars and viral upstarts, will beam live from New York City’s Pier 36 and will feature performances by Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Fire. The whole thing will be hosted by Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts and will air live (naturally) on YouTube beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

But what will the show actually look like, and how will it differentiate itself from the other music award shows crowding the calendar? Jonze spoke to EW about the process of putting it together, the goals for the evening, and more.

Entertainment Weekly: How long have you been working on this show? How did you get involved?
Spike Jonze: About six months ago, YouTube approached Vice and I about creating and producing their first music awards. It seemed like such a natural thing both for them and for me. I’ve always loved YouTube and the idea that anyone can make something and put it up. There’s no gatekeeper anymore—someone can just be creative and share it.

We came up with the idea that this night should be all about making things. So we’re giving awards to people who made things this year, but we’re also trying to make the whole awards show feel like a YouTube video. It’s about being creative and making things, and one of the main parts of that is we’re making live music videos with these artists, and as opposed to artists performing on a stage to an audience, though there might be some of that too if that’s the idea. It’s more about making these live videos in front of and with the audience that is there.

So will the artists be performing in full-scripted, narrative-type videos?
Some of them will be more straightforward performance videos, but some will be more conceptual. READ FULL STORY

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