First week sales estimates for Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience have been trending toward the milly mark all week, and Tuesday evening the number became official. In his much-desired, equally maligned return to the art form of singin' and dancin' all cute, JT moved 968,000 copies. That's huge. That is huge.
Billboard has the salient frame-of-reference details: "20/20 logs his best sales week yet. It follows his last release, 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, which arrived atop the list with his previous high: 684,000." It's also "the 19th-largest week for an album since SoundScan started tracking data in 1991” and the year's "biggest overall sales frame since Taylor Swift's Red debuted with 1.2 million on the Nov. 10, 2012-dated chart." One more: "Among male artists, Timberlake has the largest week in nearly five years. The last larger by a man was when Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III debuted with 1.01 million on June 28, 2008."
After a three-year live-show hiatus related to his chronic throat issues, John Mayer is headed back to the road. It'll be a 40-city, four-country tour, kicking off with warm-up shows at Jazz Fest in New Orleans at the end of April, and running through dates in Brazil, L.A. and, of course, Milwaukee. Mayer has been cleared to sing again after doctors resolved his granuloma, which is severe tissue inflammation on the vocal cords. As Billboard reports, Mayer first went to Dr. Steven Zeitels, the doc who saved Adele's pipes and got a subsequent shout-out at the Grammys (it was actually Mayer who recommended Zeitels to Adele). But Zeitels's surgery/throat-Botox regimen didn't solve Mayer's throat issues, which were complicated by "stress on [his] voice from constant touring and performing, and a longtime struggle with acid-reflux exacerbated by poor diet and drinking." Tragically, John Mayer's lifetime of carousing with the world's most beautiful women had caught up to him.
The 20/20 Experience just dropped yesterday, but Justin Timberlake is already talking about the next one. First, Questlove dropped the secret: Timberlake had a second 10-track album, a 20/20 Volume 2, slated for later this year. Then JT himself followed up: During his album release party on Monday, he said, "I need to clear up a rumor [about this being only] the first half of the album Those rumors are true." Ahhhhh!!!! Whoooo!!!! Staggered double-albums!!! But in all that excitement, let's not forget that Timberlake does, already, have an album that's out and workable. As a reminder, check out the new video for his second single, "Mirrors," an ambitious eight-plus minute affair that, according to Huffington Post, is about someone very special in Justin's life: "The video opens with a dedication to William and Sadie. William, Timberlake's grandfather, passed away late last year. 'Mirrors' is refashioned as a retelling of their love story." Now that is just some adorable pop-music video-making right there.
Yesterday afternoon, Morrissey appeared to be barely off his death bed. A troubling bit of bleeding ulcer, he explained in wondrously-stereotypical Moz fashion, was forcing him to cancel shows: "For those scholars who are heatedly curious, my ulcer is now under reins, even if neither asleep nor dead, but the continued cause for concern is a slightly embarrassing absence of blood — most of which the bleeding ulcer relieved me of." (Also: "Even death can be used as a springboard.") (And, also: "Whatever happens, I love you.") By the end of the day, though, things were certainly looking up: Morrissey announced that, presumably by utilizing the full might of his endless wryness and aged-but-no-less-effective come-hither ennui, he'd managed to convince the Staples Center to — for the first time ever — go full vegetarian on all concession stands and vendors, when he plays the venue on March 1st.
The traditional template of the modern rock reunion is well-established, and it goes a little something like this: Beloved band puts aside years of deep, embittered, eye-scratching acrimony long enough to string together live gigs; beloved band takes oodles of money from legions of irrational superfans, who fell hard while they were gone and never got to see them play the first time around; band buys Porsches, band sends kids to fancy boarding schools in Switzerland; band gets long overdue dental care. The Replacements — the infamously self-destructive Minneapolis rockers behind some of the most perfect heartache songs of all time — could have opted in for that kind of thing at pretty much any point over the last decade. The reunion we've just gotten, though, is a bit more modest, and a bit more heartwarming.
After the Grammys it's the Grammys After-Party and after the Grammys After-Party it's the um, Post-Grammy News Roundup. One of these things is not as inherently scintillating as the others! But please, read on: It's been less than 48 hours since the big bash, and already all manner of mind-boggling music-biz news is brewing. Who'll be the big winner at next year's Grammys (if it wasn't for the fact that the Grammys' super-strange cut-off period means the big winners in 2014 will be people who put out music in 2012)? Let's find out!
On Wednesday night, Justin Timberlake — a.k.a. The Returning Savior of Pop Music (for Grown-Ups) — tweeted out "I wanted you guys to see this first!!! #albumcover #tracklist," along with a corresponding link to said album cover and tracklist. First thing's first: Does this guy know how to use hashtags, or what? More importantly, Justin Timberlake's first album cover in the seven years since FutureSex/LoveSounds is here.
OK, granted, that person is Questlove, who's been working intimately with D'Angelo for over a decade, including on recording sessions for this 13-years-in-the-making, as-of-yet-unnamed comeback album. And so, yes, when Questlove tells us D's new one is not only nearly done, but also incredible — "It's potent. It's funky. It's an extremely hard pill to swallow," he gushed to Billboard on Monday — we listen. But let's not forget that Quest is the same guy who's been explicitly mind-gaming D'Angelo into releasing his album for a while now.
Hey, look who's on Spotify. It's one-time anti-MP3 crusaders Metallica! As Billboard reports, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich showed up at a Spotify press conference on Thursday to announce that the band was throwing their entire catalog up on 'ify. And, in the process, he ended up sharing a moment with Spotify investor Sean Parker, his former Napster nemesis.
This year's Grammy nominations were announced Wednesday night, and it looks like we're once again in for a bout of what is now the Grammy nomination's trademark reaction-getter: a unique, intense swirl of confusion, revulsion, anger, fear, regret, weepiness, nostalgia, vertigo, and, in some extreme cases, slight temporary restless leg syndrome. So many crap albums to hate on! So many snubbed classics to heap praise on! So much ire to direct toward the governing body of the Recording Industry Association of America! So how about, at least for now, we focus on the positives? Like: Hey, Frank Ocean got nominated a whole bunch of times. Channel Orange is actually up for album of the year. Yeah, sure, it won't win (Mumford & Sons' soothing old-timey-ness means they've had this thing in the bag since Labor Day) — but album of the year! And "Thinkin Bout You" is up for record of the year? "Thinkin Bout You" is a truly fantastic song (which we've been listening to since the summer of 2011)! OK, I think I mostly succeeded in keeping the criticisms to myself there, yeah? And now, your 2013 Grammy nominees:
OK, yes, there is some call for skepticism here: the release date for A$AP Rocky's official major label debut, LONG.LIVE.A$AP, has already been pushed back twice (first it was September 11th, then it was Halloween); also, it's a high-priority rap album, and therefore practically obligated to get us all excited and then not show up to the party. But Rocky didn't just Tweet out the date and expect us to mark the X on our calendars in pen. He went to the trouble of showing up on BET last night to announce the new date, and even provided firm details as to this thing's existence.
On Thursday, Ghostface Killah stopped by MTV's RapFix Live to plug Wu-Block, the new collaborative effort from him and D-Block's Sheek Louch, and happened to get on the topic of his recent, odd little legal skirmish. While taking fan questions over Twitter (how 2012 of you, RapFix Live!), Ghost was asked, "There are rumors that Marvel is trying to sue you over Ironman. How wack is that?"
On Saturday night, Jay-Z played the last of eight shows christening Brooklyn's brand-spanking-new Barclays Center, and Young Arena marked the climax with a move no less awesome for its inevitability: He brought out the mother of his child, superstar R&B and pop vocalist Beyoncé, for a quick little burst of bombast and spectacle. It was (at least according to this crystal-clear YouTube video, provided thanks to a livestream of the gig) awesome:
Last year around this time, for the first time in my life, I got all excited about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination announcement. You see, Guns N' Roses had been nominated, and so the heretofore inconceivable occasion of an Axl-Slash reunification all of the sudden seemed like it was on the table. And as GNR went from nominee to official inductee, we held that flicker of hope — for once, would the Rock Hall be an organ of good, and not irrelevance? It wasn't to be. When it all shook out, Axl skipped the induction ceremony altogether, leaving GNR now and forever fractured and withering.