Results for Michael Jackson

interviews

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones One of the figures in the music industry most closely associated with Michael Jackson is producer Quincy Jones. The multi-Grammy Award winner also had a long-standing relationship with Frank Sinatra and was the force behind "We Are the World". Jim and Greg spoke to Jones shortly before the release of Michael and asked him about whether some of these songs were better left unreleased. Jones believes that money will be at the core of lot of decision-making around Jackson's legacy. Jim and Greg also talk to Jones about his latest record Q: Soul Bossa Nostra, which features Jones tracks updated by Amy Winehouse, Ludacris, Talib Kweli and more.

Go to episode 266

L.A. Reid

lareidcoachella TLC, Mariah Carey, Pink, Justin Bieber, Outkast, Usher, Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, Kanye West…you name the pop star, and chances are he or she has worked with this week's guest, Antonio“L.A.”Reid. While he began as a drummer in the R&B group The Deele, it's really behind-the-scenes that L.A. has made the most awesome noise—first, as a songwriter/producer with Babyface in the 1980s and 1990s, then as a record exec at LaFace, Arista, Island Def Jam and now Epic Records.

L.A. shares his insights into what makes a great pop song, great (melody, hooks, emotion and the ability to sound good, even with a pillow over it) and some of his biggest professional triumphs (signing“the Beast”Rihanna, coaching Kanye West) and failures (Lady Gaga…the one that got away). He's also not afraid to get candid about music industry sacred cows, whether it's Michael Jackson or major labels themselves.

Go to episode 542
specials

MTV's Silver Anniversary

MTV turns 25 this week. To celebrate (or perhaps mourn), Jim and Greg discuss the station's impact on the music industry. To kick off the dissection, Sound Opinions surveys the opinions of festivalgoers at Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival.

Go to episode 36
classic album dissections
ThrillerThriller available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Thriller

Last week marked the year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, and there's been a lot of talk about some of the more controversial aspects of the artist's life and death. But, there hasn't been enough about the music. So, Jim and Greg turned to previous guest Nelson George, author of Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson. For George, Thriller was not only the high point of the King of Pop's career, but perhaps of pop music in general. Never again will a single album have as big a cultural or commercial impact. He even thinks Jackson's success paved the way for more African-American stars to emerge. Plus, there'd be no Thriller dance.

Go to episode 240
reviews
XSCAPEXscape available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Xscape

Is Michael Jackson back from the dead? It seems like it lately, with the Thriller star moonwalking from beyond the grave, and his second posthumous release debuting at #2 this week. Xscape features eight hitherto-unreleased tracks, each in two forms: Jackson's original demos, plus new versions spiffed up by producers like L.A. Reid, StarGate and Timbaland. Greg finds it interesting that they included the demos — as he puts it, there was a reason Jackson left those behind. And while the production team did a good job reworking the tracks, Greg doubts that the Prince of Pop would have been satisfied with this album. Jim ponders the bizarre tracklist, which includes an update of America's "A Horse with No Name," a Paul Anka collaboration, and a song titled "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" that Jim finds simply“disturbing.”While Xscape isn't as awful as other posthumous releases (Tupac and Jimi Hendrix come to mind), neither host thinks fans will keep listening once the hype dies down. It's a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 443
MichaelMichael available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Michael

Following the death of Michael Jackson, Jim and Greg predicted there would be an onslaught of posthumous releases. Now the first has been released. Michael is made up of 10 tracks from Jackson's archives, gussied up by producers like Teddy Riley, John McClain and Lenny Kravitz. There's been some controversy as to whether or not this is Jackson's voice, and Riley admits there was quite a bit of processing – too much, if you ask Jim and Greg. While Greg admires the sparsest, most emotional track, "Much Too Soon," the rest of the album is really hurting. And the awful production completely destroys what Jackson might have been intending with those tracks. Jim was not a fan of Jackson's material from the past fifteen years, but he respects Jackson's perfectionist nature. Surely such a perfectionist wouldn't have released these overblown clunkers. Michael gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 266
Raymond v RaymondRaymond V. Raymond available on iTunes

Usher Raymond V. Raymond

Usher is back this week with his 6th record called Raymond V. Raymond. The title is a reference to the R&B singer's divorce, and based on the content of the songs, Jim and Greg would say he's quickly back to being a playboy. Usher carved out a successful niche as a less threatening version of R. Kelly, but Jim thinks a few of the songs would make even Kelly blush. He calls it empty, tasteless, and worst of all-boring-and gives Usher a Trash It. Greg believes the singer should've known better. He has always admired artists like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, but is currently doing a poor job emulating them. There are a couple of tracks where he digs deep and explores his relationship issues, but Greg gives the rest of it a Trash It as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 227
Thriller (25th Anniversary) [Deluxe Edition]Thriller 25 available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Thriller 25

This season's big records are starting to be released, beginning with the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest selling albums of all time: Thriller. Michael Jackson is the latest artist to try to re-market his music to a new generation. So in addition to the original album, listeners also get remixes of his hits with artists like Will.I.Am and Kanye West. It's an interesting concept, but neither Jim nor Greg think that any of the remixes are successful. They also agree that while Thriller is a classic, it's not even Jackson's best album. They give Thriller 25 a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 118
Beauty Behind the MadnessBeauty Behind the Madness available on iTunes

The Weeknd Beauty Behind the Madness

Canadian R&B artist Abel Tesfaye spent several years as a mysterious underground phenomenon, releasing acclaimed EPs for free under the name of The Weeknd. After guesting on songs by his friend Drake, he's now become a star, selling out arenas behind his new album Beauty Behind the Madness. The Weeknd is a major voice in the new wave of neo-soul along with Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs, and Solange. Jim thinks his musical ability is undeniable, particularly in the moments when he is reinterpreting the sound and vulnerability of Michael Jackson. Yet on the more R. Kelly-inspired half of the album, Jim feels The Weeknd crosses the line from sexiness into lewdness, so he can't give the album more than a Try It. Greg agrees the sexual content of the lyrics is troubling, but believes Tesfaye is self-aware and ultimately critical of the attitudes his character expresses. The album represents a huge step forward musically, thanks in part to master pop producer Max Martin who managed to add hooks without watering down the darkness. Greg says Beauty Behind the Madness is a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 510
dijs

Greg

“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”Jackie Wilson

This week, Greg has the legendary Jackie Wilson on his mind. Early in his career, Wilson drew comparisons to Elvis but in fact, you couldn't liken him to anyone. Wilson heavily influenced many artists, namely Michael Jackson and even James Brown with his style, dance moves and vocals. In the '50s, he had an amazing run with big hits but floundered in the '60s. When he came to Chicago to work with record producer Carl Davis, they cut one of Greg's favorite tracks ever, "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher." Greg thinks this is pretty much as perfect as a song can get, and that's why he selected it as his Desert Island Jukebox pick this week.

Go to episode 536
features

Hooked On Sonics: Amber Mark

Amber Mark Amber Mark is a young, up-and-coming singer whose sound is a mixture of R&B, soul and pop. Mark recently made a splash with her EP 3:33am, a record about the sudden passing of her mother. Critics lauded her strong voice and evocative lyrics, and she's currently signed to the British independent label PMR with distribution through the famous Interscope Records. Amber Mark shares that the artist that got her "Hooked on Sonics" is Michael Jackson, and the song that made her love music was the percussive "Working Day and Night" from his Off the Wall album. Listen to Amber tell the story of first hearing the song and the unique experience of sitting in the V.I.P. section at Michael's concert in Munich.

Go to episode 630
news

Music News

This week Jim and Greg play scientist and talk to two professors, P. Jason Rentfrow of Cambridge University and Duncan Watts of Columbia University, about recent studies that seek to find out why we like the music we do. The first study asked college students to rate one another based on their favorite music. According to Dr. Rentfrow's findings, people who like music with a lot of vocals were found to be more extroverted. In addition, people who have eclectic taste in music were considered to be more open-minded and intellectually curious — a fact that bodes well for Sound Opinions listeners.

The second experiment conducted at Columbia University confirmed two widely held suspicions: Most people are sheep, and you can't predict a hit. Duncan Watts and his graduate students asked participants to go online, listen to a selection of songs and download what they liked. The results showed that people tended to choose songs which had already been chosen a number of times. This may account for why some songs stay on the Billboard charts for as long they do. The study also found that there was really no formula for song popularity. One song, "Lockdown" by 52Metro, ranked first in one test, but only 40th out of 48 in another.

The next story involves the perpetual newsmaker Michael Jackson. After Hurricane Katrina first devastated the gulf coast, Jackson announced that he would produce a single to raise money for disaster relief. Well, that was many moons ago, and the world has yet to hear a tune. Recently, however, an announcement was made regarding the song's status by the Prince of Bahrain, the king of pop's newly crowned representative. Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, will release the record on his own 2 Seas label. While the song reunites Jackson with partner-in-crime R. Kelly, as well as Ciara and Snoop Dogg, it does not have the star power of previous releases like "We Are the World."

Go to episode 13

Music News

One of the biggest and most shocking news stories this week was the death of Michael Jackson. The pop legend died at the age of 50 in Los Angeles. There was no indication that he was ill. In fact, Greg spoke to the Jackson camp only a few days ago about the singer's big comeback tour. But, nothing about Jackson's life or music was expected. His 1982 album Thriller is the biggest selling of all time. But, for Jim and Greg it's Off the Wall that was really a masterpiece melding of soul, disco and pop. It's hard to talk about Jackson without mentioning his personal scandals. He was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005, but his legacy will forever be linked to those accusations. And unfortunately, as Jim and Greg explain, some may remember the eccentricities more than the music.

Go to episode 187

Music News

If you were one of the unfortunate few to tune in to last week's Golden Globes“ceremony”then you know first hand how the Writer's Guild strike can affect awards season. Now it appears the Grammy Awards might be next to fall. The Recording Academy is seeking an interim agreement from the WGA to insure that the Feb. 10th awards broadcast will go off without a hitch. While they have gotten support from other industry unions, a WGA spokesperson didn't recommend betting on a waiver. Jim, for one, would welcome a trimmed down Grammy Awards. But, Greg doesn't think that audiences will tune in without the promise of star power. The one upside — perhaps this year the Grammys will actually be about music.

By next year Live Nation will not only have severed ties with Ticketmaster, but become its biggest competition. The concert promoters, turned music moguls, announced plans to launch their own ticketing company. Therefore, they'll have their hands in every aspect of the music industry: production, marketing and sales of both albums and concert tickets. According to Jim and Greg, this brings up a lot of ethical issues that make them question how the consumer will be served. Ticketmaster is also blurring the lines of business; the company made its own announcement regarding the purchase of TicketsNow. That website is the second-largest site in the secondary-ticket market behind StubHub. Ticketmaster has been criticizing these kinds of brokers for years, but…if you can‘t beat ’em, join ‘em. As Jim and Greg explain, now there isn’t a lot stopping Ticketmaster from withholding a large quantity of tickets from the first round of sales, only to jack up the prices and make a huge profit the second time around.

The other big area of competition is turning out to be the summer concert festivals. The concert promoters behind Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California are headed east to set up shop in New Jersey. The Liberty State Park event will be held on August 8-10 — the same exact dates as the Vineland Music Festival. That event is being put on by the promoters behind Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Can New Jersey handle two 3-day concert festivals with a similarly diverse bill of hundreds of bands? Jim and Greg think no. The stage is set for“a blood bath”between the two corporate giants, but the real victims are probably going to be music fans.

From the concert wars to the real war… In an effort to boost morale, the U.S. Army has put out a request for a“professional rock band.”Following suit with the National Guard, who used 3 Doors Down to help them recruit moviegoers, the Army is looking to get a little more rock and roll. Or rather, Southern Rock, Pop Rock, Post-Grunge or Hard Rock. If you play these genres of music and are some kind of celebrity, national or local, and also don't mind suiting up in kevlar and being shipped off to Kuwait or Afghanistan, then submit your“proposal”today. Sound Opinions H.Q. can think of a few music celebs they'd nominate to be shipped off.

Next up Jim and Greg warn you to get ready for a full-blown Michael Jackson revival. That's right, the man who many of us reduced to an E! True Hollywood Story may actually return to being an important music figure. A 25th anniversary edition of Thriller is scheduled for release next month, and Jermaine Jackson has said that his brother will be joining the rest of the Jackson 5 for a reunion tour later this year. But kicking the revival off is rapper Rhymefest, who just posted a free download of The Michael Jackson Dedication Album on his website. The album was produced entirely with Jackson song samples, as well as inventive skits featuring the rapper and his pop idol. Jim and Greg both recommend listeners check the album out, with Greg adding that it's the best thing Michael Jackson has had his name on in two decades. Rhymefest fans should also check out his appearance on the show.

Go to episode 112

Music News

This week the White House made its first official statement on intellectual property and piracy. Victoria Espinel, the Obama-appointed Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, has outlined more than 30 steps on how to toughen up when it comes to protecting intellectual property. According to Jim and Greg, some of the steps are fairly routine, and they were relieved to see no“3 strikes”approach. But other recommendations display a hard-line view of piracy–one that lines up with those of Vice President Biden.

On Monday the Justice Department officially gave its blessing to the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger despite pleas against it from independent promoters and consumer advocates. Check out Jim's take on the merger and listen to Seth Hurwitz, one of the promoters who testified against the merger, (on Sound Opinions.)

Jim and Greg wrap up the news by discussing the state of the estate of Michael Jackson. Since the King of Pop's death a year ago, Billboard estimates his estate has made $1 billion. 40% of that has gone toward debts, but as Jim and Greg note, the revenue stream isn't likely to slow down anytime soon. Fans can expect release after posthumous release of Jackson albums, books and movies for years to come.

Go to episode 239

Music News

For years the record industry has been going after people violating copyright through piracy. But now, lyrics are under fire. The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) has sent a number of takedown notices to websites who put up song lyrics without permission. Lyrics Mania and Rap Genius are among those targeted.

Colonel Tom Parker knew that Elvis Presley's death wouldn't mean the end of Elvis Presley, Inc. And the big business of death continues with Michael Jackson. Even without the superstar's presence, the Cirque du Soleil production, "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour," recently became the number nine top-grossing tour of all time, earning $325.1 million.

Go to episode 416

Music News

First up in the news Jim and Greg discuss a recent TV commercial featuring music by The Beatles. The diaper company Luvs has taken the 1967 peace anthem "All You Need Is Love," and turned it into the jingle“All You Need is Luvs,”and some Beatles fans are worried that this soils the song's meaning. The Fab Four's songs have been used a few times in advertising, especially since the catalog has come under the joint control of Sony Corp. and pop singer Michael Jackson.

Also in the news is rapper 50 Cent's lawsuit against internet ad company Traffix Inc. The hip hop star is taking issue with Traffix Inc's recent ad campaign that features his cartoon image and encourages people to“shoot the rapper”and win $5,000 or five ringtones. While Jim and Greg agree this is pretty distasteful, they wonder if 50 Cent's real beef is that he didn't come up with the idea himself. The hip hop star has based his image on his own violent background, which includes being shot nine times.

Go to episode 87

Music News

The Michael Jackson posthumous money grab has begun. The new single "This Is It" has been released. It's likely to be the final new piece of music from the King of Pop and coincides with the release of a greatest hits album and movie of the same name. The film captures Jackson's L.A. rehearsals for what was to be his comeback tour. Greg saw This Is It earlier this week and describes it as a first hand glimpse of the artist in his final days. Greg was surprised to see how sharp and detail-oriented Jackson was, especially considering his frail appearance. Jackson lost some of his voice, but still knew how to make great theater, and Greg believes this comeback attempt would've been a success.

Next in the news, another successful rapper is headed for prison. Lil Wayne, the number one selling artist of 2008, pled guilty to gun possession and is expected to be sentenced to a year in prison. He has a new mixtape out this week and will likely continue releasing and promoting music throughout next year-especially if he follows the lead of T.I. That rapper is serving a prison sentence he began in May and is not only still a Billboard Top 200 seller, but recently won a BET award.

Go to episode 205

Music News

Last week Jim and Greg discussed the death of pop icon Michael Jackson. But the news surrounding Jackson's death has not stopped. Neither has his impact on the music industry. Just this week Billboard announced that 9 out of 10 slots on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart are Jackson titles. But, while his estate continues to make money, concert promoter AEG stands to lose millions. They will be refunding fans that purchased tickets to Jackson's fifty London shows — $85 million worth of tickets to be exact.

In other sad music news, Sky Saxon, leader of the garage rock band The Seeds, also passed away last week. The news of his death was largely overshadowed by Michael Jackson coverage, so Jim and Greg wanted to pay tribute to Saxon during this episode. He was not a great musician, but had a tremendous attitude and a great impact on punk music. They play "Pushin' Too Hard" in his honor.

Go to episode 188

Music News

Headlines regarding the death of pop star Michael Jackson continue to pour in. This week the AP reported that Jackson's death was being ruled a homicide by the coroner's office. No official statement has been released, but it's likely that Jackson's physician will be charged with criminal negligence for administering the singer's drug cocktails. And while one camp investigates Jackson's death, another markets his life. A deal between promoter AEG and Jackson's estate has been approved to exhibit the King of Pop's memorabilia. This October exhibition will coincide with the release of a behind-the-scenes film and will help AEG to recoup losses incurred following the cancellation of Jackson's massive comeback tour. Not to be left out, the remaining Jackson brothers are getting in on the action. They've announced plans for an A&E reality show.

Despite pleas from Mom to turn that racket down, a new study says that music is actually good for your hearing. Northwestern University neuroscientists have found evidence that musicians can pick speech out of a noisy environment better than non-musicians. This is good news for Jim and Greg, and any Sound Opinions listeners who find themselves struggling to hear in a crowded room.

Tenor Johnny Carter passed away this week at age 75. Carter was a member of both The Flamingos and The Dells, two of the most important doo-wop groups of the ‘50s and ’60s. To mark his passing Jim and Greg play a song and performed by Carter: "Golden Teardrops" by The Flamingos.

Go to episode 196

Music News

Greg begins this week's news segment by complimenting Jim's use of the word“Blitzkrieg”in reference to The Strokes' quick tour of North America. Our first news story deals with the top 20 grossing concerts of 2005. The saggy-butted Rolling Stones led the list with a gross total of $162 million, followed by Jim's favorite band, U2. Two "artists", Celine Dion and Barry Manilow, didn't even have to tour to make the list—they simply took residency in one of Las Vegas's gaudy venues and raked in the cash.

A favorite of Sound Opinions, Courtney Love, returned to the headlines recently in a New York Post story detailing her financial woes, and more importantly, contemplating the sale of the Nirvana catalogue. Jim believes this would be a disaster, akin to Michael Jackson bringing the Beatles to Nike.

A sad story rounds out our news segment: the death of legendary Chicago singer Lou Rawls. The velvety-voiced singer died of cancer in Los Angeles. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, he referred to the the cold Chicago wind as the“Hawk,”and introduced the monologue to music, leading the way for hip-hop as an art-form. He was neighbors with another Chicago legend, Sam Cooke, and traded lines with him in the soul classic "Bring it on Home". Lou's final public appearance was a stirring rendition of God Bless America during the World Series.

Go to episode 6

Music News

Proving the adage that everyone is a critic, the Vatican has released its first official Top Ten List of albums. The official Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, has endorsed records by Oasis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac. And perhaps for the title alone, they also included Carlos Santana's Supernatural. It made a point of not including Bob Dylan, however, on the grounds that generations of less-talented Dylan acolytes have "harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners with their inferior imitations, thinking that their tortured meanderings might interest somebody."

In other music news, rock producer Ian Burgess passed away last week. As Jim explains, Burgess was one of the architects of the hyper-aggressive, yet melodic, indie rock sounds of the 1980's. He worked with a number of Midwest bands such as Naked Raygun, Pegboy and Big Black. He also served as a mentor to Big Black founder-turned producer Steve Albini. To honor Burgess, Jim and Greg play "I Don't Know" off Naked Raygun's 1985 album Throb Throb.

Go to episode 221

Music News

After a two-year battle, a web royalty agreement has been reached that won't put webcasters out of business. In 2007 the copyright royalty board ruled that webcasters needed to pay a fee of 0.08 cents each time a listener streamed wa song which would increase annually to 0.19 cents in 2015. That would've bankrupted many web music services like Pandora Radio. Now, large webcasters must pay 25 percent of total revenue.

Michael Jackson's death is still making big news this week. Friends and family hosted a memorial tribute to the late“King of Pop”on Tuesday. And Jackson's music continued to dominate the charts. In fact sales went up 90% with 800,000 albums sold. As Jim and Greg explain, this will go down as the last great week of physical album sales. And the good news continues for music retailers– a CD and DVD of both the memorial show and his tour rehearsals will be released this year.

A few weeks ago Jim and Greg talked about Trent Reznor's involvement with heart patient Eric De La Cruz. Reznor asked Nine Inch Nails fans to donate money toward a heart transplant in exchange for VIP access, special tickets and more. Unfortunately De La Cruz died last week before a transplant could take place.

In other Nine Inch Nails news, final tour dates have been announced for Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. As Reznor explained to Jim and Greg during their recent interview, this will be the last go-around for Nine Inch Nails, but certainly not the last of his music.

Go to episode 189

Music News

Google has added music to its growing list of endeavors. The internet giants launched a new music service this week that will offer users a link to purchase records. Google won‘t be selling music directly, but they’ll be competing with iTunes in cooperation with other services like Lala, Rhapsody and Pandora. It's exciting news for artists who are concerned with getting their music out there. But after many years where a small group of labels controlled everything in the music industry, Jim and Greg wonder if this is simply a case of one corporate hierarchy replacing another.

Lady Gaga broke Billboard records this week by becoming the first pop artist to score 4 consecutive No. 1 hits from a debut album. The most recent chart-topping song is "Paparazzi." The singer will continue to make news this year after she embarks on a visually exciting theater tour next month. We‘ll be watching that. Other than an avant-garde look, Jim and Greg aren’t sure what separates her from any other female pop singer. But every generation needs its own Madonna. In other chart news, Michael Jackson's This Is It movie and album both did well in sales last week. The album debuted at No. 1, and the film earned $106.3 million worldwide.

Downloading continues to be a huge issue for the music industry. The big question is how it affects the market. Now a British study commissioned by think tank Demos has one answer. According to its findings, people who engage in file-sharing spend 75% more than people who don't. They are simply more excited about music. This news presents a counter-argument to those in favor of the UK government's plan to sever the internet connections of persistent downloaders. But it will be hard to sway the British recording trade association BPI, who estimates that illegal downloaders cost the industry $330 million in 2009.

Go to episode 206

Music News

When they looked back at the end of the last decade, Jim and Greg described American Idol as one of the only major juggernauts in the music industry. Now, only a couple of weeks later, it looks like that monolith is crumbling. Simon Cowell has announced plans to depart the show, which debuted last week, to launch a U.S. version of The X Factor. In addition to being a major part of Idol, Cowell was a force behind the career popularity of Susan Boyle and British X Factor Leona Lewis. Jim and Greg wonder if Idol will be able to produce another Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood without Cowell. And, they wonder if X Factor will be the hit-maker to watch.

A world away from the American Idol business machine is a UK website called SlicethePie. Artists can use this site to get direct funding from fans, who in return receive a copy of the album, an exclusive relationship with the band, and possibly, a return on their investment. According to the site the standard deal is about a 16 cent return for every 1.63 invested per 1,000 albums sold. Now Slicethepie has announced its first real success story. U.K. rock act Scars on 45 has graduated from the fan-supported site to land a deal with Atlantic Records/Chop Shop Records. Chop Shop is run by Alexandra Patsavas, who supervised music on a number of Hollywood projects including Twilight, The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy. So, keep your ears open for Scars on 45 music the next time you tune into a primetime soap.

The 2009 numbers are officially in…but they aren't exactly clear. According to Nielsen SoundScan, overall music industry sales are up 2.1%. But as Jim and Greg explain, that's not necessarily worth celebrating. Album sales, which still account for the majority of revenue, are actually down 13%. What has gone up are digital music sales — and those don't add up. Of course, as Jim says, overhead with digital music is much, much lower. And, certain artists do have cause to break out the champagne, for example, Taylor Swift, who was the number one artist of 2009. She was followed by a phenom (Susan Boyle), and a recently departed (Michael Jackson). Michael Jackson wasn't the only posthumous winner. The number one selling album of the entire decade was by a group that stopped making music four decades ago: The Beatles.

Go to episode 216

Music News

The Grateful Dead are coming back from…well…the dead. The four surviving original members of the jam band progenitor are reuniting for a series of shows this July at Soldier Field in Chicago. These performances will commemorate their 50th anniversary as a band, as well as the 20th anniversary of leader Jerry Garcia's death. The band claims these will be their final shows together, but Jim and Greg have their doubts.

The buzz is already building for this summer's big music festivals. Major events like Coachella, Bonnarroo, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest are already announcing big name headliners. There seems to be a growing trend of booking veteran performers like Billy Joel and Elton John who could otherwise fill stadium gigs of their own. Greg's early pick is the Governors Ball in New York featuring Björk, while Jim's curiosity is piqued by the avant-garde lineup at Knoxville, Tennessee's Big Ears Festival.

It's one fine day for fans of Mariah Carey. The chart-topping chanteuse will be holding a residency at Caesars Las Vegas beginning in May. She'll perform selections from her many #1 singles to coincide with a new release aptly called #1s. And while it seems like the stuff of sweet, sweet fantasy, Mr. Showmanship himself, Liberace, is also returning to Vegas, despite having died in 1987. Following in the footsteps of Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur, the glittery entertainer will be recreated as a hologram by the company Hologram USA.

liberace

Go to episode 478

Music News

Music fans and industry analysts have long been wondering when The Beatles would go digital. Many suspected that a deal with iTunes was in the works. But no one could have predicted that the band's foray into the digital universe would be through a video game. Apple Corps has announced a deal with Viacom's Rock Band to feature the Brits in the hit-selling game series. The Beatles see this as a way to reach a new generation of listeners, but Jim doesn't think the game has much to do with music and is certain that members of the group could reach more fans merely by lowering ticket prices.

There have been two major reunion announcements that both daze and confuse Jim and Greg. The first is an almost confirmed rumor that Led Zeppelin will be going out on tour sans lead singer Robert Plant. This would leave only 2 of the original members, and no one, including the band's former promoter, is sure how they can call themselves Zeppelin. In other bizarre reunion news, the Jackson 5 will be coming to a town near you, only Jackson 4 might be a more appropriate name. Michael will be sitting this one out.

The final news story this week signifies another nail in the coffin of the music industry's glory days. One of the true music-loving record executives, Alan McGee, has announced that he is retiring from the biz. McGee founded Creation Records, which launched acts like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. More recently he has been managing acts like Oasis and The Libertines. Now on his Facebook page he states, "I think I'm a man of the times, kind of like Tony Wilson really. We don‘t really have a place in the music industry anymore because we actually like music." And Jim and Greg believe that’s the truth. Most of the higher-ups are money men, rather than music men. They are certainly going to miss McGee's passion.

Go to episode 154

Music News

Susan Boye Last week Jim and Greg reviewed the new album by The Black Eyed Peas, and this week they were sure it would be a #1 hit. But if there's anyone that can give the Peas a run for their money, it's…Susan Boyle? The Britain's Got Talent winner is the top seller of the week with her new album The Gift, beating out not only The Black Eyed Peas, but Kanye West and Taylor Swift. This news is further evidence that the physical album chart is dominated by people who still buy physical albums, a.k.a.“older folks.”Which leads to the next story…

Billboard has recognized that its standard album chart might not be a fully accurate representation of what's“popular”in music. In today's world, an artist's tweets, followers, fans, friends and hits are just as important indicators as record sales. So with that in mind they've launched the new Social 50. At the top of Social 50 are artists like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem and Nicki Minaj – all performers who sell records. But the chart also has the potential to recognize non-traditional acts like Widespread Panic, Girl Talk and Robyn, who consistently sell out shows, but don't have a big retail presence. Jim and Greg welcome Billboard to the 21st century.

Still shopping for holiday gifts and got a few thousand to spare? Well, you could get your loved one the original lyrics to Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are a-Changin." And by a few thousand we mean $300,000. That's how much the sheet of unruled notebook paper is expected to go for at an upcoming auction. December certainly seems to be the month of rock memorabilia sales. Johnny Cash's jumpsuit, which he wore during his concert at San Quentin and made famous in this image, went for $50,000. Michael Jackson's glove sold for $300,000, and a decades old legal letter featuring John Lennon's original lyrics to "I'm Only Sleeping" is expected to go for over $500,000.

Go to episode 263