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<p>Quantrele Da'an Smith of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

Quantrele Da'an Smith of "The X Factor"

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 2 Premiere

Demi Lovato and Britney Spears make their judging debuts

On one hand, I suppose Wednesday (September 12) night represents the second season premiere of "The X Factor," but you can almost sense FOX hoping that viewers totally ignore last fall's introduction to Melanie Amaro and all of her vanquished foes. Sure, that was "The X Factor," but this is *really* "The X Factor," the way Simon Cowell intended.

So pull up a seat and follow along as we spend the next two hours seeing how Demi Lovato and Britney Spears stack up as judges and how "The X Factor" functions without a host.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Taylor Swift's 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' returns to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

What record does it set?

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” gets back with the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week as the Taylor Swift tune returns to No. 1.

“Never” and Flo Rida’s “Whistle” have been trading places for the pole position for the past few weeks. After “Whistle” returned to the summit last week, it falls to No. 3, as Maroon 5’s “One More Night” rises 3-2.

Swift’s song spends its third week at No. 1, making it the longest run atop the Billboard Hot 100 for a country song since Kenny Rogers’ “Lady,” written be Lionel Richie, held the top spot for six weeks in 1980, according to Billboard.

“Never” continues to gain in airplay, while also remaining at No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart. But that’s not Swift’s only chart triumph: “Ronan,” the charity single she debuted on Sept. 7’s “Stand Up For Cancer” televised benefit, enters the Hot 100 at No. 16. It is bolstered largely by digital sales: the song stands at No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart with sales of 211,000.

Returning to the Top 10, fun.’s “Some Nights” and Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” switch places, as Goulding rises 5-4.

Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” soars back into the Top 10, perhaps bolstered by her MTV Video Music Awards, lifting 11-6. Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me”  featuring Big Sean leaps 9-7. Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks”  slips 6-8 and Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City’s “Good Time” inches down 8-9.

The only new entry into the Top 10 is Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” which marks the singer’s first Top 10 hit. In addition to the former Alternative Songs chart topper’s use in a Bing commercial, “So You Think You Can Dance” played the song last week.

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<p>Ben Howard, Plan B and Lianne La Havas</p>

Ben Howard, Plan B and Lianne La Havas

2012 Mercury Prize Nominations: Listen to 5 artists you should know

Plan B, Richard Hawley, Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard and others up for British award

Much like its other years, the 2012 Mercury Prize shortlist is yet again dominated by mostly rock-leaning artists, with other genres weaved -- or perhaps forced -- in. However, there are quite of few artists on the tally that have sold considerably fewer albums than some higher profile acts who were snubbed.

Here is the 2012 Mercury Prize Shortlist:

Alt-J "An Awesome Wave"
Ben Howard "Every Kingdom"
Django Django "Django Django"
Field Music "Plumb"
Jessie Ware "Devotion"
Lianne La Havas "Is Your Love Big Enough?"
Michael Kiwanuka "Home Again"
Plan B "Ill Manors"
Richard Hawley "Standing at the Sky’s Edge"
Roller Trio "Roller Trio"
Sam Lee "Ground Of Its Own"
The Maccabees "Given To The Wild "

Solo artist and Pulp touring guitarist Richard Hawley is the most recognizable name to ears here in the U.S., along with the familiar rock strains of the Maccabees, rapper Plan B and electro-pop singer Jessie Ware. Others like Alt-J, Roller Trio, Sam Lee and Lianne La Havas are far more under the radar than excluded Coldplay, Kate Bush, Emile Sande, Ed Sheeran and 2010 Mercury Prize winners The xx.

Of the 12 nominated artists, two are people of color and one prominently features a band member of color; and there are two are women. There's one rap artist, one English folk artist, one jazz troupe and splashes of pop all over the place despite a notable absence of a "pop-pop" act.

That's not to say the shortlist is just mostly lily-white rock and devoid of imagination. It's just kind of subdued compared to years before. The winner will be announced on Nov. 1.

Below I've pulled out videos and songs from five artists to get filled in on, including the ladies and the outliers.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 148

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 148

Dan and Alan talk 'Revolution,' 'Glee,' 'Mob Doctor,' 'Guys with Kids' and more


Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
After the promised early-week delayed, it's time for a review-packed installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
In this episode, we preview NBC's "Revolution" and "Guys with Kids," as well as FOX's "Mob Doctor." We also review new seasons of "Glee" and "Boardwalk Empire." And we answered a piece of mail, just for kicks.
Next week, we'll be delayed for Rosh Hashanah, but expect plenty more reviews and whatnot as things start to get REALLY busy!
Here's the breakdown:
Second episodes of "Go On" and "New Normal" (00:01:10 - 00:02:45)
"Guys With Kids" (00:02:50 - 00:11:30)
"Glee" (00:11:30 - 00:22:35)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:22:35 - 00:35:40)
"The Mob Doctor" (00:35:40 - 00:45:25)
"Revolution" (00:45:30 - 00:56:50)
Listener Mail - Worst Characters, Best Shows (00:57:40 - 01:13:20)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 148: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Revolution,' 'Mob Doctor' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 148: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Revolution,' 'Mob Doctor' & more

Dan and Alan also weigh in on 'Guys with Kids' and the revamped 'Glee'


Time for a mid-week Firewall & Iceberg Podcast in which Dan and I start paddling into the waters of the fall TV season, with reviews of a mix of new and returning shows that are premiering a few weeks ahead of the real deluge.

As mentioned on the show, next week's podcast will be Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest due to Rosh Hashanah.

The line-up: 

Second episodes of "Go On" and "New Normal" (00:01:10 - 00:02:45)
"Guys With Kids" (00:02:50 - 00:11:30)
"Glee" (00:11:30 - 00:22:35)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:22:35 - 00:35:40)
"The Mob Doctor" (00:35:40 - 00:45:25)
"Revolution" (00:45:30 - 00:56:50)
Listener Mail - Worst Characters, Best Shows (00:57:40 - 01:13:20)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Jonathan Banks from &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;will be on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Jonathan Banks from "Breaking Bad" will be on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

Exclusive: 'Breaking Bad' co-star Jonathan Banks to guest star on 'Parks and Recreation'

The character actor will play Ben Wyatt's father

Mike Ehrmentraut is coming to "Parks and Recreation."

In an episode of the fifth season of "Parks and Rec," Jonathan Banks from "Breaking Bad" will play the father of Adam Scott's character, Ben Wyatt.

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<p>Eminem and Pink</p>

Eminem and Pink

Listen: Eminem and P!nk reunite for 'Here Comes the Weekend'


Remember when Pink showed up on Eminem's resilient party rocker "Won't Back Down" from "Recovery?" That particular combo and code is reiterated this week as Slim Shady makes a quick stop through Pink's new "Here Comes the Weekend."

The Saturday-Sunday cheer is jagged and mostly built on the stilts of his oft-repeated refrain. There's very little setup to Em's verse, which has him heading into town for festivities, and to act like "an idiot."

Otherwise, you're left with a very Pinkinem big beat to set your sirens off. Not the best pop song we've heard from Pink, but it could very well sell some shoes or some cars in a commercial.

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Watch: Simon Cowell talks 'X Factor' Season 2 changes from Britney to Demi

Watch: Simon Cowell talks 'X Factor' Season 2 changes from Britney to Demi

What do Britney, Demi and the lack of host mean for the FOX series?
One year ago, I sat down to talk with Simon Cowell about the long process of bringing "The X Factor" to the United States and how excited he was to have viewers finally see his vision.
A year later, "The X Factor" is starting its second season, but it might as well be a new series. Judges and mentors Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul are gone, replaced by Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. Host Steve Jones is gone and he has yet to be replaced. 
So this weekend, I interviewed Cowell about what is effectively being launched as a new show on Wednesday (September 12) night. 
Always the consummate pitchman -- Cowell is even putting his "X Factor" muscle behind a newly released set of Sony/Syco headphones, not coincidentally called X Headphones -- the "American Idol" favorite is optimistic about the new energy contributed by Spears and Lovato, as well as the storytelling potential introduced by the absence of hosts for the first chunk of the season.
Watch the video to hear when Cowell knew "X Factor" would require a reboot, as well as his explanation for the host-less format. 
And check back tonight for my live-blog of the season premiere.
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<p>The &quot;Cougar Town&quot; crew is moving to TBS.</p>

The "Cougar Town" crew is moving to TBS.

Credit: TBS

'Cougar Town' stars sing about January premiere date on TBS

And some very special guests, too

We've known since the spring that "Cougar Town" would be moving to TBS for its fourth season, and that the show would be returning sometime in 2013. Now we have a date — and, in typical "Cougar Town" fashion, a song to go tell you that date, sung by the cast and a bunch of very special friends of the show. Enjoy. And I look forward to the show coming back on January 8 (also Elvis's birthday).

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<p>Matthew Perry and Bill Cobbs go to a Laker game on &quot;Go On.&quot;</p>

Matthew Perry and Bill Cobbs go to a Laker game on "Go On."

Credit: NBC

The Morning Round-Up: 'Go On' & 'The New Normal'

One new NBC sitcom runs in place while the other offers a few signs of improvement

Well, TV premieres are starting to roll out as we get deeper into September. The "Sons of Anarchy" premiere was last night, and here's Geoff Berkshire season premiere review. Meanwhile, after the jump I have quick thoughts on the second episodes of "Go On" and "The New Normal" coming up just as soon as I tell you what "Havana casual" means...

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<p>James D'Arcy and Ben Winshaw in &quot;Cloud Atlas.&quot;</p>

James D'Arcy and Ben Winshaw in "Cloud Atlas."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Oscars First Take: ‘Cloud Atlas,’ ‘Impossible,’ ‘End of Watch’

Plus: ‘Perks of Being A Wallflower,’ ‘The Master’ and more

TORONTO – It’s been a long trek from Telluride to Toronto, but the initial wave of fall festivals is finally coming to an end.  While there are still a number of premieres over the next few days in Toronto, they are mostly secondary titles that few expect to get major distribution (and the snarky remarks are already starting on closing night selection “Emperor” starring Tommy Lee Jones).  

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Harold Perrineau in "Sons of Anarchy"

Harold Perrineau joins the cast of "Sons of Anarchy" for season five

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' season five premiere recap: 'Sovereign'

Say hello to Jimmy Smits and Harold Perrineau, and goodbye to a few others

The power dynamic between Jax and Clay isn't the only thing that's changed as we begin season five in Charming. This year's action-packed, fast-moving premiere introduces new players, reestablishes burgeoning rivalries and alliances, and contains one of the most brutal and disturbing scenes the show has ever seen (that is not a low bar to cross).

We can only speculate where any of this is heading, but as set-up, it worked. Mostly.

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