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'American Idol' winner Scotty McCreery graduates high school, preps for summer tour

American Idol Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery graduated from North Carolina’s Garner Magnet High School yesterday, taking the stage in Raleigh with about 400 of his classmates to receive his diploma.

The deep-voiced country star, who has sold nearly 1.1 million copies of his debut disc Clear As Day, couldn’t celebrate with his friends on the eve of the ceremony, though. He was in Nashville at the CMT Music Awards, where he won Breakthrough Video of the Year for his ballad “The Trouble With Girls” and performed his current single “Water Tower Town.” (True story: I once got dreadfully lost while driving to the Outer Banks and ended up in Garner, N.C. It really is a water tower town. Just ask his mom!)

Interestingly, graduating from high school is the most youthful thing that old soul McCreery — who has a penchant for singing songs more familiar to senior citizens — has ever done. It’s a funny reminder of how young some of American Idol‘s bright-eyed contestants really are.

After putting his cap and gown into storage, the star will hit the road with Brad Paisley and The Band Perry next week before officially enrolling as member of N.C. State’s class of 2016. (Not a bad post-grad life, Scotty; honestly, all I dreamed of for graduation was a few friends in my backyard and a Chick-Fil-A nugget tray.)

When I sat down with Scotty and his mother, Judy, last summer following his Idol win, she was clear that she wanted Scotty to receive a college education. What do you think, readers — will he be able to juggle a booming career and college course load at the same time?

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CMT Music Awards: Best and worst of the broadcast
Scotty McCreery is college bound

CMT Music Awards: Best and worst of the broadcast

The actual winners were announced last night at the CMT Music Awards. But here are a few more honors from the telecast that you should feel free to weigh in on:

Best Overall Performance Willie Nelson assembled an all-star crew to help him sing the hilarious “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” The ponytailed veteran was joined by Darius Rucker, Toby Keith, Zac Brown, and Jamey Johnson, all of whom looked delighted to be sharing the stage with the legendary toker.

(Honorable Mention Little Big Town, who always sound fantastic, delivered a fun rendition of their summer single “Pontoon.” On a night when A-listers like Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band, and Luke Bryan delivered competent but forgettable performances, theirs might legitimately have earned the quartet a few new listeners. Also, props to Kellie Pickler for her “Motorboatin'” introduction.) READ FULL STORY

CMT Music Award Nominations: Little Big Town must win for 'Fix You' cover -- VIDEO

Nominations for June 6’s CMT Music Awards were announced this morning, with Carrie Underwood leading the pack with five nods, followed by Miranda Lambert, who received four.

See the full list below, which also includes three nominations a piece for Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, and Thompson Square.

If there’s one category we feel strongly about, it’s CMT Performance of the Year, which honors the best live performance that aired on a CMT show, series, or special. Little Big Town has to win for their cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” on the Music Builds: CMT Disaster Relief Concert. It starts at 2:40 in the clip below; you’re guaranteed to get chills. READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' Scotty McCreery is college bound

Though he has a platinum album and was just named the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year, Scotty McCreery is still a youngster. After touring the U.S. with Brad Paisley last year, the 18-year-old reigning American Idol winner has chosen to keep it local when it comes to college — less-than-15-minutes-away local. According to the AP, he’ll attend North Carolina State University, where his father is an alum.

EW reached out to N.C. State to see about McCreery’s matriculation to “the Wolfpack.” Director of admissions Thomas Griffin admitted that McCreery’s admission was an unusual experience for the school, which has more than 34,000 students. “I don’t know of anybody coming in so well known initially. Most 18-year-olds don’t have the kind of exposure that someone like Mr. McCreery has,” he acknowledges. READ FULL STORY

Michael Buble just barely beats Nickelback on the Billboard 200; Rihanna debuts at No. 3


In its fifth week on the chart, Michael Bublé’s Christmas climbed into the top spot on the Billboard 200, shifting just over 227,000 copies.

Thanks to a Black Friday sales boost, the album increased 37 percent from last week, thereby giving Bublé the best sales week of his career and lifting total sales to 745,000. It should pass 1 million by year’s end. READ FULL STORY

CMA Awards: Scotty McCreery talks tonight's performance -- and meeting Keith Urban in the men's room


They call tonight’s CMA Awards (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) “Country music’s biggest night,” and with more than 20 performers — including Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Sugarland, Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter, plus returning cohosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood — that seems like a fair assesment.

American Idol winner Scotty McCreery, who last month topped the Billboard 200 chart with his debut release Clear As Day, knows all eyes will be on him when he takes the stage for the album cut that the show’s producers asked him to perform: his cover of “Walk In the Country,” a tune Urban sang when he was in the country trio The Ranch in 1997. “I’ll be in a room with Nashville’s biggest stars, and in a way I’ll be singing to prove myself and to say, ‘This is me,'” McCreery tells EW. “I’m still the newbie in Nashville. I’m that country-music fan that gets all giddy when I’m around those people.”

Will Urban, who’s been known to slap on his six-string and play backup for other performers, join him? We’ll have to wait to see. Regardless, the two already have an interesting awards show history. “The first time I met Keith Urban was in the bathroom at the CMT Awards,” McCreery says. “I wish maybe we could take that back. You don’t talk too much in the bathroom. So it was just kind of a ‘Hey.’ ‘Hey.’ It was funny, though.”  READ FULL STORY

Coldplay earns third straight number one album on Billboard 200; Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' fares less well

Although Coldplay’s latest album, Mylo Xyolto, hasn’t been as warmly received as the band’s previous efforts, it still topped the Billboard 200 chart with ease this week.

In its first seven days, Mylo Xyolto sold 447,000 copies, marking the third-best debut of the year behind Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (1.1 million) and Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV (964,000), as well as the band’s third straight number one album.

Coldplay’s last effort, 2008’s Viva La Vida Or Death and All His Friends, shifted 721,000 copies in its first week, but that album had a number one smash single in “Viva La Vida.” Mylo Xyolto‘s lead single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” only peaked at number 14, though the British rocker’s new single “Paradise” has quickly climbed to number 15.

Kelly Clarkson’s fifth album Stronger had a slightly weaker debut than her last effort, starting in second place with 163,000. Clarkson’s 2009 effort All I Ever Wanted debuted with 255,000 copies, but once again, that album had a higher charting lead single in “My Life Would Suck Without You” (No. 1) than current single “Mr. Know It All” (No. 18 so far).

Crooner Michael Bublé eased into third place with 141,000 scans of his new holiday compilation Christmas. Given Bublé’s gigantic appeal around the holiday season, (I’ve given my mom three of his albums on three separate Christmases… and okay, I miiight listen to them too) the set should be a powerhouse seller over the next two months.

Adele held strong in fourth, moving 107,000 units of 21 in its 36th week on the chart, and she was followed by two more new releases. In fifth, Toby Keith’s Clancy’s Tavern sold 69,000 copies. That result gave the outspoken star his 10th number one album on the country chart. Rocker Tom Waits was close behind in sixth place, moving 63,000 of his new disc, Bad As Me.

Scotty McCreery, Lady Antebellum, Tony Bennett, and Casting Crowns rounded out the top ten. Their respective albums have now sold 384,000, 718,000, 465,000, and 129,000 total units. Find the full list here: READ FULL STORY

Adele returns to the top of the Billboard 200, passes 4 million sales total; Casting Crowns scores top debut

After 35 weeks on the chart, Adele’s smash album 21, which has yet to leave the Top 5, rose back into the number one spot on the Billboard 200 this week, selling an additional 106,000 copies.

That number pushed 21‘s total to a whopping 4.1 million copies, by far the biggest selling album of 2011. All told, the “Someone Like You” singer has spent 13 non-consecutive weeks atop the chart this year. Now, if she could just fix those dang vocal cords!

Christian band Casting Crowns finished close behind in second place with first-week sales of their album Come to the Well at 99,000 copies. The band’s last album, 2009’s Until the Whole World Hears, got off to a stronger start with 167,000 copies sold, but to be fair, that disc still holds the record for the highest Christian-album debut in history. Come to the Well‘s 99,000 debut is nothing to cast a stone (or crown, for that matter) at.

In third place, Scotty McCreery continues to impress as his album Clear As Day dipped just 36 percent to 57,000. That gives the country balladeer three-week sales of 342,000. His runner-up, Lauren Alaina fell down to tenth place, dropping 63 percent in her second week to 26,000. Her record, Wildflower, has now sold 95,000 copies, which isn’t incredible, but it’s not half bad considering Alaina’s lead single, “Like My Mother Does,” only peaked at number 36 on the country chart. (Not all American Idol alums are as fortunate as these two…)

Last week’s chart-topper Evanescence falls back into fourth, as their self-titled third album fell 69 percent to 40,000. It has sold 167,000 after two weeks. Meanwhile ,Tony Bennett’s Duets II rises one spot into fifth place with another 39,000 copies sold. The 85 year-old crooner’s set has moved 434,000 copies in five weeks, and sales should remain strong through the holidays.

R&B singer Joe fared alright in his debut: His latest album, The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy sold 33,000 copies, good enough for eighth place. His 2009 set Alright started at number 7 with 49,000. Check out the top ten below: READ FULL STORY

Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze both dropped by their record label: For 'Idol', what a difference a year makes

American Idol Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox has split with label RCA/Jive, a rep for the singer confirmed yesterday to TVLine.

Bowersox, whose debut album Farmer’s Daughter sold 210,000 copies (compared to Idol winner Lee Dewyze’s Live It Up, which moved just 168,000 copies.), said, “For not having any radio play and any great promotion, I think I’ve done pretty well on sales … I’m able to provide a good, comfortable life for my family, and that’s what I wanted out of it.” She says that she expects that her second album will be released independently.

Reports of Bowersox’s split arrive just two weeks after news that Lee DeWyze had been dropped by RCA as well. Apparently, Season 9 of American Idol, which many viewers felt was lackluster edition, just didn’t produce a bankable star. (Although, technically, the jury’s out on third-place finisher Casey James, who just released his debut country single “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night.” He seems to be Season 9’s last hope.)


Image Credit: Frank Micelotta/Fox/Picture Group

Meanwhile, Season 10’s top two finishers, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, both of whom are managed by Interscope and signed to Mercury Nashville, are both kicking off their careers with decidedly healthier results.

In its first two weeks on the chart, Scotty McCreery’s Clear As Day has sold a strong 285,000 copies, while Lauren Alaina’s Wildflower managed to sell 69,000 copies (the best female country debut since 2006) in its debut last week. HITS Daily Double predicts that those titles will sell an additional 65,000 and 30,000, respectively, this week. Not too shabby for a couple of teens!

Perhaps the better numbers are a result of country audiences more willingly buying whole albums than pop listeners, or perhaps Scotty and Lauren benefited from October release dates, rather than the more competitive mid-November (Lee) and December (Crystal) dates of their predecessors. Or maybe audiences just like them more—after all, Scotty and Lauren fit into the smiley, bright-eyed, big-dreaming mold of American Idol better than the more subdued Bowersox and DeWyze.

Whatever the reason, McCreery and Alaina (and hopefully Haley Reinhart one day soon!) are re-establishing American Idol as a brand that can produce stars—so long as they aren’t named Pia Toscano, of course. She just never really happened, did she?

What do you think? Will Bowersox and DeWyze find success on the indie circuit? Will McCreery and Alaina experience career longevity? Sound off about all your favorite Idol-ites in the comments below!

Lauren Alaina debuts in fifth place on the Billboard 200
‘American Idol’ roundup: Four new music videos from non-winners: What do you think?
Scotty McCreery sings the national anthem at the World Series

Follow Grady on Twitter: @EWGradySmith

Scotty McCreery sings the national anthem at the World Series, Zooey Deschanel to bat clean-up

Last night at Busch Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals bested the Texas Rangers 3-2 in the opening game of the 2011 World Series. The biggest baseball event of the year kicked off with the usual pomp and circumstance, featuring a cameo appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama and a national anthem performance by American Idol winner and Billboard chart-topper Scotty McCreery.

Luckily, McCreery’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sharper than his unfortunately-tinted World Series jacket, and he also managed to overcome a bit of a technical snafu at the beginning (the first step to a great performance is to turn on the microphone).

It’s still a little bit jarring hearing that voice come out of McCreery’s face, but he managed to sidestep the usual pitfalls the come associated with the song. He’s had plenty of practice, as he performed it before a North Carolina State football game just a few weeks ago.

For those of you not interested in baseball (which is a shame, because this is the most evenly-matched Series in recent memory) but definitely concerned with music and patriotism, Fox announced the rest of the planned anthem singers for the three sure-thing games remaining.

It’s an especially country-tinged lineup: Trace Adkins will take the microphone before tonight’s game, with Ronnie Dunn holding it down before Saturday night’s game in Arlington, Texas. The most intriguing performance will come Sunday night in Texas, where New Girl star and She & Him member Zooey Deschanel will take on “The Star-Spangled Banner” before game four.

Check out Scotty’s performance below, and let us know who you’d like Major League Baseball to book to sing the national anthem should the World Series extend beyond four games. Anybody else hoping that St. Louis’ own Nelly gets the chance to bellow about the rockets’ red glare? READ FULL STORY

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