Hey, remember when the leak spoofers at MediaDefender had their e-mail broken into a few months back? Well, the finance department at parent company ArtistDirect sure does: The company has to pay out $600,000 in credits to “clients affected by the leak,” not to mention $225,000 in legal and administrative costs. And, of course, the humiliation suffered by the knowledge that employee outings involved seeing Chris Kattan perform. [Billboard]

Sony Forced To Shell Out For $5 Million Worth Of Meat Loaf Over Thanksgiving Weekend

meatloaf.jpgHey indie label owners, a bit of advice: When you lose an artist to a major label, make sure you get that major label to slap your logo on all of that artist’s future product. Cuz if they forget, as Sony did with the tiny Ohio label that discovered Meat Loaf, you’ll probably be able to afford that beach house after all.

Steve Popovich, 65, who started Cleveland International Records in 1977 and soon afterward signed the chubby singer named Marvin Lee Aday, persuaded Epic Records to release the wildly successful album.

Epic was owned at the time by CBS. Sony, which bought out CBS Records, paid $6.7 million to Popovich and his former partners in 1998 to settle a lawsuit over royalties from the album.

The settlement required Sony to place the Cleveland International logo on future Meat Loaf albums but Sony did not add the logo to “Bat Out of Hell” for more than a year.

And with the U.S. Circuit Court of appeals upholding Popovich’s win against Sony in a lower court in 2005, that brings the grand total the company will pay to $11.7 before it’s all over, quite the investment, even for a high-selling catalog item. They’re never gonna let the poor guy retire now.

Sony Ordered To Pay $5 Million In Meat Loaf Suit [Billboard]

Project X Gets A Little Bit Country (And Brings The Family Along)

carrie.jpgAs part of Idolator’s continuing effort to geekily analyze every music chart known to man, we present a new edition of Project X, in which Jackin’ Pop editor Michaelangelo Matos breaks down rankings from every genre imaginable. After the click-through, he takes a break from Thanksgiving to sit down with his family and listen to the Billboard Hot Country Songs Top 10, capturing their cantankerous opinions about George Strait, Baz Luhrmann, and Cookie Crisp for posterity:

Back in July, I played the then-current Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for my family in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis. Last week, visiting for Thanksgiving, I decided to do it again–only this time, I played the Billboard Hot Country Songs Top 10 for November 24, 2007–partly because my mother knows country music better than pop or (god knows) hip-hop and R&B. The listening session took place after Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s house, where we were joined by all three siblings’ very tolerant significant others, as well as Brittany’s friend Cherrelle. Once again, I typed everyone’s responses on the fly, occasionally pausing the music to fill in gaps.

Dramatis personae:

Lorie, mother, age 47; listens primarily to country and soft rock

Michael, author, age 32; listens to lots of things

Alex, sister, age 22; primarily a country and R&B fan

Brittany, sister, age 20; listens to much music, but no one more than Marc Anthony

Cherrelle, Brittany’s best friend, age 21; listens primarily to rock and hip-hop

1. Dierks Bentley, “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)

Brittany: Josh Turner?

Michael: No, it’s Dierks Bentley.

Lorie: I know this. When I first heard it I hated it, but now I like it. I thought it was about a homeless person, but then I realized he has a car.

Brittany: Lots of homeless people have cars.

Michael: Anyone have any impressions about this song?

Cherrelle: [makes barf noise]

Brittany: The guitar was nice. I probably wouldn’t recognize it unless I heard it a second time.

[Veronica wanders out of room]

Lorie: Veronica?

Brittany: Well, that’s what she thinks of that song.

2. Kenny Chesney, “Don’t Blink”

Alex: Tim McGraw? Oh, Kenny Chesney.

Brittany: [a few seconds later] Is this Kenny Chesney?

Alex: I just said that!

Brittany: Oh. [deadpan] I ignore you a lot.

Alex: This song reminds me of that song that . . . you know that Rascal Flatts song that goes, “If you play a country song backwards, you get your house and your dog back”?

Brittany: “Backwards.”

Alex: Yeah, this sounds like that.

Lorie: It sounds like if you played a rap song backwards.

Brittany: Well, they’re the same thing!

Lorie: No! [Country singers] live hard, real lives!

Brittany: So do gangsta rappers!

Lorie: They say the same things–about booty and welfare lines. Country singers care about people.

Brittany: Rappers care. Haven’t you read Tupac’s poetry?

Lorie: What does it say?

Brittany: [mockingly] He said he was a rose that grew from the concrete. [listens for a while] This song is incredibly cheesy.

Lorie: I think it’s true, from my 50-year-old perspective in life.

Michael: That you lose track of time and are suddenly old? That’s new.

Brittany: Is that what happened to Jesus? All those lost years, he blinked? That’s got to be it. Can I blink this song over?

Alex: I don’t really like Kenny Chseney.

Lorie: You used to love Kenny Chesney!

Brittany: This song is terrible! That’s why she doesn’t like it. Just because you like him doesn’t mean you have to like every song he sings.

Michael: We have to listen to the coda. This is where he sings really “soulfully.”

Cherrelle: [looking agonized] Do we get a cut of the money [from this column]?

3. Carrie Underwood, “So Small”

Lorie: Shania Twain?

Cherrelle: Is it Carrie Underwood?

Michael: Yes.

Cherrelle: I could tolerate this. This sounds like “Don’t Blink.” They’re just saying the same thing.

Michael: “Everything seems so small” . . . except the production on this record.

Brittany: And the notes she’s hitting. She has a good voice but she has the tendency to oversing.

Lorie: You know what happens after that, don’t you? You marry Bobby Brown and start doing cocaine.

4. Garth Brooks, “More Than a Memory”

Lorie: Oh my god. There are songs that the first time I hear them, halfway through I just love them. Turn it up: it just gets prettier as it goes along.

Brittany: He has a great fucking voice.

Michael: Mom, were you ever a Garth Brooks fan before this?

Lorie: No, it just started. There’s two people that, all of a sudden, in the last year I’ve started liking: him and Bob–who’s that guy from here? Bob Dylan.

Brittany: [stunned] When did you get good taste in music?

Lorie: It’s just in the last few years. [Brooks sings, "Waking a friend in the dead of the night/Just to hear him say it'll be all right"] I didn’t know that guys called each other in the middle of the night and talked! I thought that was just a chick thing.

Brittany: Haven’t you ever seen MySpace’s Missed Connections? It’s full of guys doing that.

5. Josh Turner, “Firecracker”

Brittany: This is Josh Turner, isn’t it? You can tell with that voice.

Alex: This is a pretty good song.

Lorie: [yells from kitchen] All right, “Firecracker”!

Brittany: I don’t care about the song. I just like his voice.

Cherrelle: [Turner sings, "My little darling is a firecracker"] “My little daughter”?

Brittany: No, that’s Billy Ray Cyrus.

Cherrelle: He’s hot.

Brittany: Have you seen Josh Turner? He’s hot.

Cherrelle: Yeah, but Billy Ray Cyrus has age on his side. Like, some guys are sexy because they’re older . . .

Brittany: . . . And you’re a slut. [Cherrelle and Brittany crack up]

6. George Strait, “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls”

Lorie: Oh! This is embarrassing. It’s “Cowgirls.” It reminds me of something from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, like from the ’40s or something.

Cherrelle: Eww. This sounds like something circa 1983.

Michael: That’s pretty accurate, actually: George Strait started out around 1983, and he hasn’t really changed what he does since.

[Strait sings, "I've criss-crossed down to Key Biscayne/And Chi-Town via Bangor, Maine"]

Cherrelle: Did he say “Chi-Town”?

Brittany & Cherrelle: [hands in air] Woo! Woo!

Brittany: Did he just say “brown girls”? Chi-town? Cowgirls? He’s mumbling. Is he even saying words?

Lorie: You half expect him to be driving off into the sunset on a horse.

Brittany: Driving on a horse, eh? [addressing song] So, are city girls the same way?

Michael: All women are the same way in this song: under the thumb of the patriarchy.

Brittany: Cowboys don’t want strong women; they want women who will make babies and food.

Lorie: This is embarrassing.

Cherrelle: The music is nice, but the words suck. Someone should shake this man.

7. Clay Walker, “Fall”

Michael: Another ballad.

Brittany: Go figure. Who is this? They all sound the same.

Cherrelle: Can someone throw in a “yee-haw” just to perk things up?

Brittany: [Country singers are] more fun when they drink. Is it body function day? “Blink,” “Fall.” Now “trip”–that would be funny. Or “Shove,” “bitch-slap” . . .

Michael: You’re quiet back there, Alex.

Alex: I’m tired. This song isn’t helping.

Cherrelle: I thought he was telling her to hold on, but now he’s telling her he’s not going to catch her.

Brittany: “Every time you fall it’s because I’ll push you.” He sounds like the guy from the Cookie Crisp commercial: Cooooooooookie Crisp!

8. Jason Michael Carroll, “Livin’ Our Love Song”

Brittany: Why do all women in country songs have baby blue eyes?

Cherrelle: Racist!

Lorie: The one that had the abortion in the back of the car in the Tim McGraw song, who was pregnant when he first met her ["Red Ragtop"]–she had green eyes.

Brittany: What was the Tim McGraw song where she was always on the verge of death? They were at the movies and she was about to get shot.

Lorie: “Don’t Take the Girl.” I love that song.

Brittany: She must have lived in Compton.

Cherrelle: Or East Bloomington.

Cherrelle: It sounded like he said “prison” instead of “princess.”

Brittany: “A backyard fairytale prison”? He could find a lot of people there. He could sell himself for cigarettes.

[Carroll sings, "Say I love you without a sound"]

Cherrelle: He wants to bump that. So who wrote the love song they’re living?

Brittany: What if the love song is “Whiskey Lullaby”? Then they’ll kill themselves over it.

Cherrelle: Are we really arguing about a country song?

Lorie: Oh, country music’s the shit.

Brittany: What do you mean? You just trashed every song on this list!

9. Taylor Swift, “Our Song”

Brittany: This is Taylor Swift.

Cherrelle: She sounds like she’s 13.

Brittany: She is. Well, 17, 12, whatever.

Lorie: She thinks this is like a sermon, man.

Brittany: Whenever I hear “God” I think, ugh, next song. If I want to hear that I’ll go to church. This is like bad Shania Twain.

10. Montgomery Gentry, “What Do Ya Think About That”

[First line: "I heard it through the grapevine"]

Brittany: Wait, wait–Marvin Gaye!

Lorie: Is this the song, “Mind Your Own Business”?

Michael: No, but it’s the same sentiment.

Brittany: Did he say “jackin’ their jaws”? I like this.

Alex: I could line dance to this.

Brittany: Do it!

Alex: No, because I know you’ll just laugh.

Lorie: I like this a lot.

Brittany: The guitar was nice. [The lyric] sounded like an inspirational speaker at a high school.

Lorie: That song was good, too.

Brittany: Which one?

Lorie: The one with the inspirational speaker at a high school. It was probably 10 years ago.

Brittany: [Baz Luhrmann's] “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen”?

Lorie: Yeah.

Brittany: Are you kidding? That’s the song Chris Rock modeled “No Sex” after. [deadpan] That song was inspirational. It made me who I am today.

Mickey Avalon Now Set To Ruin Phones, Reruns Of <em>The Wayans Brothers</em>

theterribletrio.jpg“Is that Mickey fucking Avalon?” Maura asked when I showed her this photo. Why, yes it is! It seems the way-past-his-15 novelty “sleazeball” “rapper” has been tapped by Boost Mobile to irritate us on a variety of media platforms, along with his new friends the Snowman and some guy who hates iTunes.

The new campaign features “music tycoon Jermaine Dupri, hip-hop mogul Young Jeezy and crossover rock star Mickey Avalon” [crossover rock star?] together in an “innovative 3D animated music-video-style commercial. The spot also features an original track produced by Dupri with vocals from all three artists, which will begin airing Nov. 26 on MTV, BET, ESPN, COMEDY CENTRAL and other youth-oriented national networks.”

Clyde from ProHipHop worries that the campaign is doomed because he can’t imagine that “the often homophobic fans of such acts as The Game and Young Jeezy are going to warm up to a Hollywood street hustler,” while we’re guessing it’s going to fail because Avalon is completely friggin’ awful. Making Jermaine Dupri and and Young Jeezy look masterful by comparison is a tough job, but that’s our Mickey.

Boost Mobile’s Anthem 2.0 Starring Young Jeezy, Jermaine Dupri & Mickey Avalon [ProHipHop]

Janet Reno Likes Devendra Banhart

205px-Janet_Reno-us-Portrait.jpgLike a Harry Smith who caught the Unabomber, Janet Reno has put together a three-disc box set that features “50 songs, reinterpreted by artists including John Mellencamp, the Black Crowes, Martha Wainwright and Devendra Banhart, the story of America and the different challenges it has faced, from war to racism to the Depression, is retold for today’s audiences.” Our former Attorney General is a freak-folkie. Also she is confident the Black Crowes can teach you stuff about America that you never knew before.

I think they can learn more about their country, I think they can be inspired by what they hear, from some of these songs. They can remember when they are facing adversity that people were able to overcome terrible situations in their life and in the history of our country. When you think about it, the Depression, which this project talks about in clear detail, was such a dark cloud over this nation. I remember my mother’s stories of the Depression. If my mother could carry a tune she would have composed one of these songs that talks about the Depression, because it was so much a part of her life. And then to come out of the Depression into World War II, into the greatest war we have ever had, and to face the challenge of the atomic bomb, ever present after that war, gives us a sense of the challenge we face. But it’s also there to say, “Look, we did it, we can overcome, we can get past this time in our history.”

So it’s like junior high history and civics taught by Johnny Cougar? Reno also says she does not plan on returning to Washington anytime soon, as it’s “important that we constantly have new people coming in as we have new songs, or identify new songs to give us fresh perspective on an issue.” That’s why she’s chosen to spend the last few years out of politics and focusing on her own updated take on traditional music, which she sets to harp and releases under the name “Joanna Newsom.”

Janet Reno’s “Song Of America” [AP]

Alicia Keys Completes Her Week-Long Romp By Topping Hot 100

no_one.jpgEd. note: Chris “dennisobell” Molanphy, our resident chart guru, looks at the upward, downward, and lack of movement on the Billboard Hot 100 in the latest installment of “100 And Single”:

It’s been charting for less than three months, but Alicia Keys’ “No One” feels like it’s been around forever. It broke into the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Hot 100 after only four weeks, but then its movement slowed to a crawl; in each of the last four weeks, it’s only moved up one spot. But that last one-spot move gives Keys’ squonky, fascinatingly weird ballad the win, as it evicts Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” from No. 1.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success: Sometimes the charts really do tell the industry something it didn’t already know. Sure, “No One” is already popular–it’s led in overall U.S. radio airplay for weeks. Sure, Keys is beloved, and the album was expected to land successfully (even if some of us thought she’d be facing much stiffer competition). But I doubt whether anyone in the industry–besides Clive Davis–expected As I Am to ring up the second-fattest sales week of 2007, outdoing the mark set by the Eagles just two weeks ago.

In short, the message of this week isn’t just “Alicia Keys is popular”; it’s “You forgot how goddamned crazy-popular Alicia Keys is, and you’d better get behind her ASAP.” Keys thumping Celine Dion by a three-to-one margin gives the greenlight to any radio program director still holding out on “No One” to give it a spin. The song has yet to even appear on the adult-contemporary chart, which might seem odd given the song’s dayshift-friendly tempo. Keys has actually had a middling career at A/C stations thus far (only 2004′s “If I Ain’t Got You” came close to the chart’s Top 10), and as we’ll see in a minute, A/C radio is the key to chart longevity. So if more conservatively programmed stations, of any format, jump on the “No One” bandwagon, Keys’ squeaker of a No. 1 hit could settle in for a long run, a la the 10-week, airplay-fueled camp-out enjoyed by Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” roughly one year ago.

Such an airplay surge for Keys could be the one thing that holds back her main Hot 100 competitor, “Low” by rapper Flo Rida and… um, vocoderizer T-Pain. Up two more spots to No. 4, “Low” is now the second-best-selling digital single (and the top seller on iTunes; Keys edges out “Low” as Billboard‘s overall best-seller, thanks to other online sources like AOL and digital streams). Even after its explosion into the Top 10 last week, it’s hard to say where “Low” goes from here, because its airplay still lags “No One” by a country mile. If Keys wilts more than we’re expecting next week and “Low” takes a commanding lead in digital sales, “No One” could be shown the door. But Flo Rida’s got to catch up in airplay fast if he’s going to capitalize on his fat sales and enjoy the kind of chart run seen by Soulja Boy’s “Crank That.”

Carrie’s Not So Merry: As Jess and Maura have pointed out, in recent years adult-contemporary radio has adopted the crazy-making all-Christmas format with gusto. Mere moments after doorstep jack-o-lanterns’ candles are extinguished, numerous A/C stations stop spinning Celine 30 times a day to start burning out the Mel Torme chestnuts and Mariah Carey rafter-raisers. If there’s a silver lining to this (and, god help us, it’s microscopic), it’s that A/C finally gives its tight, slow-moving playlists a rest for two months, sparing us the umpteen-billionth play of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.” However, for artists who depend on A/C play, there are unintended consequences.

This year’s casualty, if you can muster even a shred of pity for her: Carrie Underwood. Regular readers of the column will know we’ve been watching the record-setting Hot 100 run of her deathless hit “Before He Cheats” as it’s climbed the list of all-time longevity champions. Now 64 weeks old, “Cheats” is the third-longest-lived song in Hot 100 history, an amazing achievement and even a respectable one, given the song’s twangy sound and unlikely crossover from country to pop radio. But virtually the only thing keeping the song alive at this point is A/C radio airplay. This week, “Cheats” falls to No. 47, just three notches above the line where Billboard rules mandate that old songs must be permanently removed from the chart.

The influx of all-Christmas playlists will inevitably lead to a dropoff for Underwood’s old smash, probably by next week. Which is a shame, because she’s just two weeks away from taking over second place on the all-time list from its undeserving holder: Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me/Foolish Games,” a “two-sided” hit that exploited a mid-’90s chart technicality to combine the runs of two separate radio hits into a 65-week chart listing. Underwood’s more impressive, single-song hit will also fall well short of beating the champ, icky wedding staple “How Do I Live” by LeAnn Rimes (69 weeks).

Underwood’s got a lot to be thankful for after the run she’s had. But if she’s feeling blue about losing out to an Alaskan yodeler and another country-to-pop ingénue, she should take it up with Mannheim Steamroller.

Stuff to Watch: As if we didn’t have enough reasons to be annoyed by Fergie, this week her “Clmusy” moves into the Top 10 by displacing two marginally more interesting hits: Finger Eleven’s “Paralyzer” and Rihanna’s “Hate That I Love You.” Both of the latter songs receive “backward bullets” from Billboard, meaning they grew in sales and/or airplay even while getting shoved backward on the chart. I continue to be amazed that the stick-to-your-brain Rihanna/Ne-Yo ballad isn’t charting better, but it will probably wilt soon; Z100 in New York has already moved on to Ri’s fourth single from Good Girl Gone Bad, the club-friendly “Don’t Stop the Music.” Expect that to debut soon, and expect “Clumsy” to continue its inevitable march into the Top Five.

The top 20, with last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses:
1. Alicia Keys, “No One” (LW No. 2, 11 weeks)
2. Chris Brown, “Kiss Kiss” (LW No. 1, 10 weeks)
3. Timbaland feat. OneRepublic, “Apologize” (LW No. 3, 16 weeks)
4. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, “Low” (LW No. 6, 4 weeks)
5. Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” (LW No. 5, 21 weeks)
6. Soulja Boy, “Crank That (Soulja Boy), Soulja Boy Tell’em” (LW No. 4, 19 weeks)
7. Kanye West feat. T-Pain, “Good Life” (LW No. 7, 10 weeks)
8. Fergie, “Clumsy” (LW No. 12, 6 weeks)
9. Baby Bash feat. T-Pain, “Cyclone” (LW No. 8, 17 weeks)
10. Kanye West, “Stronger” (LW No. 9, 17 weeks)
11. Finger Eleven, “Paralyzer” (LW No. 10, 24 weeks)
12. Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo, “Hate That I Love You” (LW No. 11, 12 weeks)
13. Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E., “The Way I Are” (LW No. 13, 25 weeks)
14. J. Holiday, “Bed” (LW No. 14, 18 weeks)
15. matchbox twenty, “How Far We’ve Come” (LW No. 15, 12 weeks)
16. Jordin Sparks, “Tattoo” (LW No. 18, 8 weeks)
17. Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (LW No. 16, 31 weeks)
18. The-Dream, “Shawty is a 10″ (LW No. 17, 11 weeks)
19. Daughtry, “Over You” (LW No. 23, 15 weeks)
20. Pink, “Who Knew” (LW No. 20, 24 weeks)

Kelly Clarkson Screams For Vengeance, Charity

It’s not on the “wildly inappropriate” level of Missy Elliott dedicating “One Minute Man” to Aaliyah at the 2001 Video Music Awards, but Kelly Clarkson’s halftime performance at yesterday’s Cowboys-Jets game was certainly full of curious messages. A screamy run-through of the “see ya” troika of “Since U Been Gone,” “Walk Away,” and “Never Again”–in honor of raising awareness of one’s fellow woman? While she’s backed by skimpily clad cheerleaders, which only called more attention to Kelly’s black shroud? Kelly, Kelly. I thought hiring Reba McEntire’s manager would help you not make these sorts of bad decisions, but now I’m starting to worry. Also, really, isn’t there another song off My December that you can pretty up for these sorts of appearances? I know that you’re allegedly working on your big pop comeback, but you could at least try to keep flogging it around town.

Kelly Clarkson – Never Again [YouTube via ONTD]

The Brown Zune: For The Person On Your List Who Deserves Something Slightly Better Than A Lump Of Coal

brownzune.jpgThe term “brown Zune” is really high on the Black Friday Google Trends-o-meter, perhaps because the now-phased-out 30-gig model is only $89.99 at certain stores today. Although the fact that so many people are searching for it probably means that whoever gets the thing as a holiday present will be insulted, so the thrifty gift-givers will likely be out 90 bucks and some self-respect. May I suggest giving the hard-to-please, yet not-quite-worth-$100 person in your life a heated towel rack instead? Sure, it doesn’t come preloaded with any CSS songs, but at least it’ll make your frenemy’s morning a little bit toastier.

brown zune [Google]

t.A.T.u. Really Milking Its Pregnant Member’s Protruding Belly For All It’s Worth

How can two women who have already used the “we’re lesbians” angle and the “no, but wait, we may be serial killers” angle up the ante of edge, especially now that they’re not as young and cute as they were when Trevor Horn was shepherding their entrance onto the pop music stage? I don’t want to spoil this 59-second preview of t.A.T.u’s video for “White Robe”–a song that takes the “let’s make it sound like a malfunctioning Nintendo” aesthetic of “Ayo Technology” and runs for Siberia with it–but I will say this: Apparently the sexier your firing squad, the more likely it is to understand the “ready-aim-fire” command in English, even if it’s supposedly located in a Russian sewer.

t.A.T.u. – White Robe – Preview [YouTube]