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Credit: AP Photo

Rihanna shines atop the Billboard Hot 100 for another week

Will.I.Am and Britney Spears make a big splash

Rihanna continues to shine brightly atop the Billboard Hot 100 as “Diamonds’ mines a third week at No. 1.

“Diamonds” hold in the pole position is strengthened by the song’s rise to No. 1 on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart. The song spends its ninth week atop Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, according to Billboard.

“Diamonds” locks Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” out of the top spot as the soulful singer’s new single leaps 4-2. “Locked” pushes Ke$ha’s “Die Young” out of the secondary slot, down one to No. 3.  In turn, “Die Young” displaces Maroon 5’s former chart topper, “One More Night,” down from No. 3 to No. 4.

The Lumineers score their first top 5 as “Ho Hey” climbs 7-5.

The bottom half of the Top 10 finds fun.s’ “Some People” hanging at No. 6, while Phillip Phillips’ “Home” rises 8-7.  Flo Rida’s “I Cry” also rises one spot to No. 8. Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)” inches 10-9 and Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” forever locked out of the No. 1 spot at seven weeks at No. 2, likely sees its last week in the Top 10 as it falls 5-10.

Two big moves just outside of the Billboard Hot 100: Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” leaps 21-11 as the album of the same name bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.  Also, “Scream & Shout” from Will.I.Am featuring Britney Spears bows at No. 12, bolstered largely by digital sales.


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<p>Mariah on &quot;Fallon&quot;</p>

Mariah on "Fallon"

Christmas, Good and Bad: Mariah Carey and 'Fallon' vs. John Travolta and Oliva Newton-John

Music videos made for viral marketing

Today is a lesson for making-of viral hits. Make them very darling or make them insanely bad. These two particular approaches are exemplified by Mariah Carey with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, and by John Travolta with Olivia Newton-John. Both clips are for Christmas. Both will succeed in procuring clicks from the collective Internet. One is what we could call "nice," the other "naughty."

First off, Carey stopped by "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and video recorded her hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You" with her host and house band The Roots. It was done in a similar "home movie" style that Fallon has done other hits, like with Carly Rae Jepsen and "Call Me Maybe." This one is particularly successful with a dash of children singing and a prominent kazoo and Casio "drum" parts. The result is a better Wednesday.

Secondly, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John reunited for a Christmas album this year, if you haven't heard (or seen), and for it they combined for "I Think You Might Like It," a music video weaved from iPhone footage and your nightmares. It features a crumpled Kleenex, an inexplicably slow-moving vehicle, a cheesy "I'll run for you" jaunt and footage taken at an airport. Did you know Travolta has his pilots license? Of course you did. Merry Christmas and pick up your jaw from the floor as you leave. The result of this video is also a better Wednesday.

Holidays are just full of misfires, crass commercialism, unnecessary slow-motion and unwieldly ways of dress. Some just do it better than others. Enjoy both videos-gone-viral below.

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<p>Lady Gaga vs. Jack White</p>

Lady Gaga vs. Jack White

Credit: AP Photo

A few thoughts on Jack White's non-apology to Lady Gaga

When in doubt, compliment someone's charity work

When is an apology not an apology? When it comes from Jack White. As you may have seen earlier today, the former White Stripes front man seemingly went after Lady Gaga in a story in the UK edition of Esquire. In a excerpt from the piece, he said of Momma Monster: “I don’t think she lives it because it’s all artifice...It’s all image with no meaning behind it. You can’t sink your teeth into it. It’s a sound bite. It’s very of this age because that’s what people want.”

Shortly thereafter, he walked back a little and clarified his comments via a statement, but in our mind, he only made it worse.

He doesn’t go after Esquire; he goes after the NME, whom he says took his comments out of context in a blogpost on their site. The quote we posted above is taking directly from Esquire’s site.  Regardless, he stresses that, even to Esquire, he “never said anything about her music or questioned the authenticity of her songs in any way. I was in a conversation about the drawbacks of image for the sake of image....I don’t like my comment about Lady Gaga’s presentation being changed into some sort of negative critique of her music.”

So then here in his statement, when he had a chance to say something about Lady Gaga’s music, he did not. Instead, he said, “Peace to Lady Gaga and I fully congratulate and compliment her on her championing of gay rights issues and the momentum it’s given to help create change.”

That’s nice, but it’s a little like if someone asks you, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and you answer “I love that purse!  Where did you get it?” It’s as if he really wanted to say something nice about Lady Gaga and her, admittedly swell, championing of gay rights was it.  Maybe he also would like to comment on what a nice bouquet her perfume has?

While we’re at it, no, White doesn’t dress up in a meat suit, but he’s worked plenty hard to cultivate his own image of a hat-wearing, pale-faced rocker who likes to see himself as an acolyte of blues and rock greats of yore. And that’s fine. Everyone has an image. For as much as Lady Gaga’s fame is based on style, it’s also based on a very real substance that makes her fans feel tremendously connected to her. Whether that’s because of her music or because of a tweet, that doesn’t seem like artifice to me.

Though he had no comment on her music for Esquire or in his new statement, a few years ago he said he channeled her when writing the music for The Dead Weather’s track, “The Difference Between Us.”  He said, according to AceShowbiz, “I was thinking of the type of song a contemporary musician would write so I started thinking about [Lady Gaga]. I starting thinking of how she would write the music to this song and got quite into being Lady Gaga in an odd way.”

So even if he’s not a fan, it looks like she’s seeped into his pores, nonetheless. Just as she has with the rest of us. No reply yet about all this from Lady Gaga, who, according to her Twitter page, is too busy working with the United Nations on her compassion campaign to worry about this kind of stuff.

Lest we take any of this too seriously, White certainly lets us know that he isn't above poking plenty of fun at his own musical detractors. On the landing page of his website are two comments from critics that are hilariously negative, including "His songs are often little more than de-fanged blues, lacking the passion and grizzled realness that makes the genre speak to so many people." 

Maybe we all just need to lighten up.



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Very funny: Eels frontman thanks Grammys for all those nominations

Very funny: Eels frontman thanks Grammys for all those nominations

Best catalog number

Happy Grammy Nominations day! Eels aren't really up for any awards, but the frontman wanted to thank the Recording Academy anyway, y'know, for all those awards they gave him.

Mark Oliver Everett allows his sarcasm to shine in all its glory in a newly posted video, as though it were his own album. He awards himself various honors like "best female slow jam," "best good hair day," for commercial flops and "catalog number." He is phoning in his acceptance speeches because he's detained at previously scheduled events, like those at the "Sydney Rock Opera House." It's all good stuff, give the man an award.

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<p>Jessica Chastain in &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

National Board of Review names Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty' Best Picture

Bigelow took Best Director while Jessica Chastain was named Best Actress

"Zero Dark Thirty" was crowned the best film of 2012 by the New York-based National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Kathryn Bigelow took the Best Director prize for her work on the film, while Jessica Chastain won Best Actress. Bradley Cooper was named Best Actor for his performance in "Silver Linings Playbook" while David O. Russell's film also picked up Best Adapted Screenplay.

The award is the second in a row at the start of the precursor circuit for Bigelow's account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden following the New York Film Critics Circle's crowning of the achievement on Monday. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will speak up on Friday and may well join the club, which will lead many to chalk it up as the prohibitive frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars, if they aren't already. But films like "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Social Network" know it's not smart to count your chickens before they hatch.

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<p>Stephen Tobolowsky, left, has been dropped as a regular on &quot;The Mindy Project.&quot;</p>

Stephen Tobolowsky, left, has been dropped as a regular on "The Mindy Project."

Credit: FOX

'The Mindy Project' says goodbye to Stephen Tobolowsky

Character actor phased out as part of ongoing retool of freshman FOX sitcom

As a long-time fan of Stephen Tobolowsky as both a character actor ("Bing!") and as a brilliant podcast host (and now author of a book, "The Dangerous Animals Club," inspired by said podcast), I was excited to see him added to the cast of "The Mindy Project," replacing Richard Schiff as Dr. Marc Shulman, the boss at the OB/GYN practice where Mindy, Danny and Jeremy work.

But after a couple of brief appearances in the pilot, and then a slightly more prominent role in the second episode, "Hiring and Firing," Tobolowsky ceased appearing on the show. "The Mindy Project" has, like many freshman comedies, been figuring itself out as it goes along, and making cast changes has been a part of that. Recently, it was announced that Amanda Setton, who plays Shauna the receptionist, would be leaving the show, while Anna Camp (Mindy's best friend Gwen) would be downgraded to a recurring guest star. And last night's episode opened with Mindy and the others getting a note that Dr. Shulman had decided to retire, leaving the practice in their hands. It wasn't quite Poochie dying on the way back to his home planet, in that Tobolowsky recorded a voiceover version of the note, but it was still incredibly abrupt.

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Credit: ABC

Review: After some false notes, 'Nashville' is finally striking the right chord

Juliette, Gunnar and Teddy all show much-needed nuance

When I saw the pilot for "Nashville" months ago, I was as excited as a teenage girl at a Taylor Swift concert. The show had impressive credentials (it had me at "Thelma & Louise" scribe Callie Khouri, to say nothing of a cast including Connie Britton and Powers Boothe), a relatively fresh setting (the world of country music) and a far-reaching scope (we don't often get a politics-music mash-up). It was more than a simple soap, but a few suds just made it all that much more appealing. 

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<p>Jake Johnson and Olivia Munn in &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Jake Johnson and Olivia Munn in "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

Review: 'New Girl' - 'Bathtub'

Olivia Munn stops by Nick's bar, Schmidt makes a play for Cece, and Jess and Winston bond

A quick review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I eat your hair out of a bowl...

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<p>Kurt Sutter and Donal Logue in &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;</p>

Kurt Sutter and Donal Logue in "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

Review: 'Sons of Anarchy' piled on the plot in season 5

No magical CIA agents, but is the biker drama still over-complicating things?
“Sons of Anarchy” wrapped up its fifth season last night. Geoff Berkshire has been reviewing episodes all year, and his take on the finale is here. Meanwhile, I have some overall thoughts on the season, coming up just as soon as I’m here for in vitro counseling…
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<p>&quot;Parenthood&quot;&nbsp;co-star Mae Whitman seems very excited to hang with Glen Hansard.</p>

"Parenthood" co-star Mae Whitman seems very excited to hang with Glen Hansard.

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parenthood' - 'Trouble in Candyland': Once and again

Sarah and Mark fight, and Glen Hansard stops by the Luncheonette

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I tow a troubador's Camry...

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<p>Pedro Almodovar at the 2002 Academy Awards.</p>

Pedro Almodovar at the 2002 Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Roundup: Almodóvar to receive an Academy tribute in London

Also: The best-ever lone Oscar nods, and is 'Cloud Atlas' really 2012's worst?

Last year, the Academy crossed the pond  to celebrate the career of Vanessa Redgrave with an intimate tribute evening in London; this year, it's two-time Oscar winner Pedro Almodóvar's turn, with the British capital again hosting on December 13. Not to be confused with an honorary award, it's a more casual and cosy form of back-patting -- and this one is set to include appearances from such colleagues and admirers as Stephen Frears, Alberto Iglesias and Jean-Paul Gaultier, as well as a Q&A with Almodóvar himself. The AMPAS press release cites "the breadth of his artistic explorations, his passionate engagement with the human heart, and a worldview often articulated by powerful female leads." The news underlines that Almodóvar is plainly the Academy's Euro auteur of choice, having already accomplished the all-too-rare feat of winning both a general-field Oscar (Original Screenplay for "Talk to Her") and the foreign-language award (for "All About My Mother"). [AMPAS]

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Charlie Hunnam and Rockmond Dunbar on 'Sons of Anarchy'

Jax (Charlie Hunnam) helps Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) work toward a "common goal" on the season finale of "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' Season 5 finale recap: Jax's revenge in 'J'ai Obtenu Cette'

Jax may be victorious, but is it worth it?

Kurt Sutter really wrecked the curve for "Sons of Anarchy" season finales with last season's disastrous "To Be, Act 2." So anything would probably have been an improvement over that. But there was still a chance that "J'ai Obtenu Cette" (French for Opie's final words, "I got this") would go completely off the rails after what's been a solid enough (not great, not awful) season.

It didn't go off the rails. But it also didn't do much to really change the repetitive game we've been watching for five seasons now.

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