Rihanna’s “Stay” Duet Partner Mikky Ekko to Release Debut Album

Eliot Lee Hazel/RCA RecordsMikky Ekko, the guy who co-wrote, co-produced and sang with Rihanna on her smash hit "Stay," will release his debut album this fall.

The album, called Time, doesn't have a release date yet, but the first single, "Smile," is now available.  Among Mikky's collaborators on the album are OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco, both of whom worked on Maroon 5's recent albums.

"Stay," Mikky's collaboration with Rihanna, was one of the biggest hits of 2013, selling more than 10 million tracks worldwide, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning Rihanna and Ekko a Grammy nomination.  The two also performed the song on that year's Grammy telecast.

In addition to working on his own music, Mikky, a Louisiana native who lives in Nashville, is also working on projects for other artists, including Rihanna and Gwen Stefani.


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Report: Rihanna Teaming with Beyoncé for “Blow” Remix

Eric McCandless/CBS

It's hard to believe that Beyonce and Rihanna have never collaborated before, but that could change very soon.

Digital Spy reports that the duo have collaborated on a new rendition of "Blow," lifted from Bey's latest visual album. The singers are both credited to the song on a listing with ASCAP, the performing rights agency which tracks royalties.

Although Rihanna's name is spelled incorrectly on the listing, her name is also incorrect for several tracks in the ASCAP database.
If the reports prove to be true, the revamped version of "Blow" will be the third remix from Bey's self-titled album, following Kanye West's "Drunk in Love" and Nicki Minaj's guest verse on "Flawless."


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Nickelback to Return with New Single, New Album & New Record Label

Republic RecordsAside from singer Chad Kroeger's marriage to Avril Lavigne, Nickelback hasn't made many headlines lately, but now, they're getting ready to return to the spotlight.

Billboard reports that the Canadian band will release a new single, "Edge of a Revolution," on Tuesday, and return with a new album this fall on a new record label, Republic. The new disc will be the band's first since 2011's Here and Now.

Speaking about signing Nickelback, Republic Records co-founder and CEO Monte Lipman tells Billboard, "I've been a fan of the band since their inception," adding, "It's about how we can make a difference in their career. And that's what I convinced these guys -- I said, 'You're a legacy act, and as far as I'm concerned, your trajectory is right into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I want to be a part of that.'"

Billboard also reports that the band has an extensive tour planned to support the new disc.


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To Keep Fit, Harry Styles Heads in One Direction: SoulCycle

Peter Kramer/NBCHow does Harry Styles stay fit while on tour?  By pedaling his butt off.

The New York Post reports that the One Direction singer was spotted working hard at SoulCycle in New York's SoHo neighborhood on Friday morning.  He,wore a sleeveless t-shirt, and pulled his hair back in a top knot during his workout, reports the paper.  The singer was low-key, and stayed 'til the end of the 45-minute session, and a source tells the paper, "He seemed to be having fun! Not too serious nor showboaty." 

Nobody in the class approached Harry during the session, and neither did the instructor.

Harry is evidently a huge SoulCycle fan; he was also spotted at a class in D.C. on Monday.

One Direction continues their Where We Are tour this weekend with two shows in Detroit's Ford Field.


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Sia’s “Chandelier” Video is VEVO-Certified

PRETTYPUKE/RCA RecordsSia has just proved that an artist can have a VEVO-Certified video without actually appearing in it.

The singer's groundbreaking clip for "Chandelier" has just been certified for more than 100 million views -- in fact, it's racked up close to 113,000,000 views to date.  The clip features an astonishing dance performance by 11-year-old Maddie Zeigler from the show Dance Moms;, while it was co-directed by Sia, the singer isn't visible anywhere in the clip.  That's not a surprise, though, considering that while promoting her current album 1000 Forms of Fear, she's also refused to show her face in publicity photos and during TV appearances.

"Chandelier" is nominated for two MTV VMAs, including Video of the Year and Best Choreography.  The single itself has been certified platinum for sales of more than a million copies.


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Hear More of Eminem & Sia’s New Song “Guts over Fear” in “The Equalizer” Trailer

Aftermath/Shady/InterscopeIt was back in June that we first heard a snippet of "Guts Over Fear," a new song by Eminem and Sia, from the upcoming Denzel Washington movie The Equalizer.  Now, a more substantial chunk of the song can be heard in a new extended trailer for the film, which opens next month.

Amid scenes of things blowing up, people pulling guns and Denzel kicking butt, we can hear snatches of Eminem rapping and Sia singing in her distinctive voice.  Since her vocal quality is very similar to that of Eminem's frequent duet parter Rihanna, the two sound natural together.

"Guts over Fear" is available on iTunes starting August 25.  The movie is in theaters September 26.


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Paramore Dedicates Song to Robin Williams, Tells Audience, “You Are Part of Something — Please Know That”

Fueled by RamenFollowing the tragic death of Robin Williams, Paramore paid musical tribute to the late funnyman by dedicating a song to him that reflected the band's own struggles with depression.

A fan-shot YouTube video from the band's show on Tuesday, the day after Williams' death, has been posted online, which shows singer Hayley Williams introducing the song "Last Hope" by explaining, "I realized how sad that we had been and that we had been in this place where we weren't content and we weren't fulfilled and it was very scary and it was very depressing."

She continued, "And then this song happened, and then a light came on, and it was amazing how much I realized that I'm a part of something -- we, the three of us, are a part of something."

"I want you to know before you leave here tonight that you, being here tonight....you're a part of something and it goes on way longer than any of us will ever be alive," Hayley added. "You are a part of something. Please know that. This song goes out to Robin Williams."

The lyrics of "Last Hope" include the words, "I don't even know myself at all/I thought I would be happy by now/The more I try to push it/I realize – gotta let go of control/Gotta let it happen....It's just a spark/But it's enough to keep me going/And when it's dark out, no one's around/It keeps glowing."


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Train, Jordin Sparks, Melissa Etheridge to Help Mark 200th Anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Pamela Littky /Columbia RecordsMost of music's big stars have, at one time or another, been tapped to sing our national anthem at a sporting event.  Now, a group of them -- including Train, Jordin Sparks and Melissa Etheridge -- are getting together to wish a happy 200th birthday to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in an upcoming PBS special.

The two-hour live broadcast, Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem, will air as part of the PBS series Great Performances September 13, starting at 8 p.m. ET.  The show will originate from Baltimore, Maryland, presumably because it's where Fort McHenry is located.  In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the anthem after watching the Fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812.

In addition to performing, Jordin will co-host the event with actor John Lithgow, and besides Train and Melissa Etheridge, the special will include performances by country music legend Kenny Rogers, Motown legend Smokey Robinson, country group Little Big Town and actress Kristen Chenoweth

It's not clear who, if anyone, will actually be singing the anthem during the telecast, though Jordin has already sung it under the most pressure-filled conditions imaginable: she belted it out at the Super Bowl back in 2008.

 

Details of Rihanna’s First Men’s Fragrance, Rogue Man by Rihanna

Mark Davis/NBCNot content with creating fragrances for women, Rihanna is now branching out.  Women's Wear Daily has details of what the singer announced on Twitter recently: she'll launch a men's fragrance in September.

Called Rogue Man by Rihanna, the new scent will join the singer's four women's fragrances on stores shelves.  It features black pepper, rosemary, clementine and bergamot, along with jasmine, cedarwood, vanilla orchid, sandalwood musk, amber and other notes.  The fragrance will be available at 800 different stores, including Macy's, and executives estimate it'll rake in $10 million in its first year.

The ad campaign shows Rihanna snuggling a tattooed model named Daniel Ness. Donald Loftus, president of Parlux, the company that licenses Rihanna's fragrances, tells WWD, "We don't know...if a woman will buy this for her boyfriend, or [a man] is hoping to turn into the guy in the ad."

"The first bottle may be sold to a Rihanna fan, the second bottle [will be] just because the bottle and the [perfume] are really fantastic," he added.

Rihanna's other perfumes include Rogue by Rihanna, Nude, Rebelle and Reb'l Fleur.


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Ariana Grande’s Mom Afraid She’d Grow Up to Be a Serial Killer

Courtesy BillboardAriana Grande seems like the sweetest thing ever, but she says when she was a little kid, she was "dark and deranged" -- to the point where her mom was worried that she'd become a criminal.

Speaking to Billboard for its cover story, Ariana says she was "a very weird little girl," and describes herself as "dark and deranged," adding, "I always wanted to have skeleton face paint on or be wearing a Freddy Krueger mask, and I would carry a hockey stick around. I was like a mini-Helena Bonham Carter."  She adds, "For my fifth birthday party we had a Jaws theme and all my friends left crying. I mean, I still am that way. But when I was little, it was more concerning. There was a stage, when I was 3 or 4, where my mom thought I might grow up to be a serial killer."

Luckily, Ariana did not become a female Dexter.  She started acting in community theater, moved on to Broadway, and then landed her role in Nickelodeon's Victorious, which led to her starring role on the now-canceled spinoff, Sam & Cat. She got a record deal at age 17, and her debut album, Yours Truly, topped the chart last year.  Her next album, My Everything, is due August 25 and has already produced the hits "Problem" and "Break Free."

Ariana admits to Billboard that she was "intimidated" by "Problem," saying she found the whispered chorus "shocking" at first.  As for "Break Free," she says she "hated it at first" because of her vocals, which producer Max Martin had encouraged her to sing ahead of the beat.  Now, she loves it.  "I was so pleased when I tried something that I thought -- no, that I knew I would hate," she says.

While her current hits are very "of the moment," the 21-year-old singer tells Billboard that despite her youth, some of her biggest inspirations come from the past.  "I have an obsession with all things vintage and classic and old-school, everything from Marlene Dietrich to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons to Connie Francis," she says.  Another musical touchstone?  Madonna. "She is strength, she is freedom, she is wisdom beyond anybody’s comprehension," gushes Ariana.  Like Madonna, she was raised Catholic, but now practices Kabbalah.

"As a fellow Kabbalist, I know how hard it is to exercise those tools in your everyday life," she says. "Especially in a world where everything is so egocentric and all you do is talk about yourself and promote yourself."

You can read the full interview in the current issue of Billboard.


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