WildWritings.com November 2005 News:
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Will Smith Beats 50 Cent, Kelly Rowland Flies Solo At American Music Awards
LOS ANGELES — With last week's Vibe Awards and Tuesday's American Music Awards, the winter awards season is officially under way and so far there's no clear frontrunner heading into February's Grammys.

Mariah Carey swept the Vibe honors (see "Mariah Wins Big, Mary J. Gets Emotional At Peaceful Vibe Awards") and was the leading nominee heading into the AMAs, but she took home only one trophy while Green Day, Kelly Clarkson, the Black Eyed Peas and Destiny's Child scored two apiece.

Only one third of one of those multiple winners actually attended Tuesday's show, but her emotional acceptance speech made up for the absence of her groupmates.

"I miss my girls. Beyoncé and Michelle, wherever you are, I love you so much," a tearful Kelly Rowland said as she accepted the Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Soul/Rhythm & Blues award. "All of our fans, thank you so much for holding us down for so many years."

Destiny's Child, who recently parted ways to pursue solo projects (see "Destiny's Child Look Back With #1's Before Going Their Separate Ways"), also won the Favorite Album: Soul/Rhythm & Blues for Destiny Fulfilled.

While Tuesday's ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium featured a plethora of A-list performers — from Pharrell and Gwen Stefani to Hilary Duff to Rob Thomas — the actual presentation of awards sounded like a broken record of "So and so couldn't be here tonight."

Along with Green Day (Favorite Artist: Alternative Music and Favorite Album: Pop/Rock for American Idiot), Clarkson (Favorite Artist: Adult Contemporary Music and the T-Mobile Text-In Award) and the Black Eyed Peas (Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Pop/Rock; Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Rap/Hip-Hop), Eminem (Favorite Male Artist: Rap/Hip-Hop), 50 Cent (Favorite Album: Rap/Hip-Hop for The Massacre) and R. Kelly (Favorite Male Artist: Soul/Rhythm & Blues) were not on hand to collect their awards.

On the other end of the spectrum, Missy Elliott — who had a good excuse not to attend as she just had surgery on a torn Achilles tendon — did make the show, and even rolled through the press room in her pimped-out wheelchair after winning the Favorite Female Artist: Rap/Hip-Hop for the second year in the award's existence.

"Y'all are looking at me like I got a booger on my face," Missy joked as she used a crutch to stand up. "I wasn't playing no football or basketball. I was dancing, doing the wrong moves, so I'll be sittin' down for a minute."

Stefani also made it to the podium to receive her Favorite Female Artist: Pop/Rock award, but just barely. She had just performed "Can I Have It Like That?" with Pharrell when her name was called.

"What did I win?" she asked. "I guess whatever I won, I just want to say thank you to the fans, especially all my girls. Imagine what it feels like to be me all these years and have your support. It's just outrageous."

Mariah also collected her award, for Favorite Female Artist: Soul/Rhythm & Blues, just after opening the show with "Don't Forget About Us," although she found time to change clothes.

For the second year in a row, a country act won the Favorite New Artist, with Sugarland besting the Killers and Jesse McCartney. Will Smith, meanwhile, won Favorite Male Artist: Pop/Rock, beating out 50 Cent and Rob Thomas.

"There's a lot of darkness in the world, and I'm committed with all the strength I got to bring the light. ... It's hard sometimes," Smith said of his positive hip-hop backstage. "When you're committing to something almost counter-culture, you can't find any support." Smith added that he recently befriended 50 Cent, who he beat out for the award, and doesn't consider 50's "brilliant" rapping to be darkness because it's honest. "The darkness I refer to are the guys who think they're doing what the top guys are doing. ... Somebody who's smacking girls on the ass and trying to get paid."

Other winners, selected through a telephone survey of about 20,000 Americans, included Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson and Brooks & Dunn in country categories, Mary Mary for Favorite Artist: Contemporary Inspirational and Shakira for Favorite Artist: Latin Music.

"Everything that's been going on with my music and the Spanish album getting played in so many non-Hispanic countries is something to celebrate," Shakira said.

As with all awards shows these days, however, all the celebrities went home winners thanks to the goodie bags. The AMA swag topped $30,000 this year, and included something truly out there: a plot of land on the moon.

"I've actually broke ground on mine," All-American Rejects singer Tyson Ritter joked. "Condos, of course. Gotta capitalize!"

"I'm building a Starbucks, so we'll get a monopoly going," guitarist Nick Wheeler added.

Travis Barker, meanwhile, has more personal plans for his land. "I'll go up there and just play drums like a mother----er," he said, with wife Shanna Moakler at his side. "We want to be buried together, so maybe on the moon."

Not all the artists, however, were impressed with the gift.

"I'm gonna sell it," Ginuwine declared. "'Cause I ain't ever goin' to the moon!"
Eminem Shares: New Video Addresses Stint In Rehab, Family
Eminem has never shied away from airing his private life in his work, and the video for his new single, "When I'm Gone," is no exception.

The clip begins with Em addressing his recent stint in a rehab clinic for dependency on sleep medication (see "Eminem Hospitalized For Sleep-Medication Dependency").

The video, which was directed by Anthony Mandler in Em's hometown of Detroit on November 13 and 14, opens in a large room that resembles a school gym, where adults seated in folding chairs are gathered around a middle-aged man speaking at a podium — the setup is like a Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The man tells the group about how rough the last six years of his life have been, and how he and his wife are happy that he's changed. Eminem, wearing a ball cap that reveals some of his black hair, is one of the people in the crowd.

The leader of the group then asks if anyone would like to share. Em gets up, goes to the podium and says, "My name is Marshall." The rest of the video illustrates the lyrics from the song, including the lines describing how his daughter Hailie put up boxes to block the front door of their home to stop Eminem from leaving to go on tour.

A teaser from the video will be shown on "TRL" on Wednesday (November 23), with the full clip premiering on Monday. Em's greatest-hits LP, Curtain Call — which features "When I'm Gone" — will be in stores on December 6 (see "Slim Shady's Phattest, Brightest Compiled For Eminem Hits LP").
It's Official: Jessica Simpson And Nick Lachey Split
Apparently the honeymoon is over.

After a highly publicized romance, a reality-series marriage and eventually tabloid rumors of strife, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey officially announced their split on Wednesday to Us Weekly  magazine.

"After three years of marriage, and careful thought and consideration, we have decided to part ways," the couple said in a joint statement released to the magazine. "This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other. We hope that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Rumors about tension between the two had grown louder and louder in recent months. Us Weekly even reported that the couple had quietly split just over one month ago. Officially, however, spokespeople for the two flatly denied a split was in the cards.

Simpson and Lachey were married in fall 2002. Their starry-eyed love and down-home personas (she the bumbling but lovable blonde, he the Rust-Belt everyman looking for ways to keep her spending in check) made the reality show chronicling their first days of marriage, "Newlyweds," a breakout hit for MTV. Simpson was able to parlay that success into renewed interest in her music career, and also into a now-budding stint in Hollywood.
Elton John To Wed Partner In December
In an interview in Attitude magazine, which hits the newsstands on Friday, Elton John revealed he plans on marrying his long term partner David Furnish on December 21st, the first day that civil partnerships between gay couples will be possible in England. "Out of respect for their (our parents') support, we want to just keep it small -- not to make a ballyhoo of the ceremony," Elton said. "There will be a party somewhere, but the day will be very low key and we'll take our parents to lunch afterwards."
Artists Join Efforts for "Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now"
R. Kelly, Kanye West, Diddy, Common, Fred Hammond, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Rhymefest and Black Buddafly bring urban sound to multi-artist benefit album. Faith Hill, B.B. King, Chris Thomas King, Josh Groban, Clint Black among others contribute recordings.

Responding to the overwhelming outpouring of support from musicians, writers and producers, EMI Group, SONY BMG, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Concord Music Group along with the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today announced the addition of new artists and songs to complete the double CD multi-artist benefit album Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now.  The collection will feature new recordings and classic cuts from more than 80 artists and 35 songs, spanning a variety of generations and genres, and will be released November 22.  All proceeds will aid the relief efforts for the Gulf Coast victims devastated by recent hurricanes Katrina and Rita.   
Surprise: Britney's Releasing An Album In Just Two Weeks 
Britney Spears is releasing a new album in two weeks, but you probably haven't heard anything about it ... and that, perhaps, is the idea.

One of the music world's most famous pop princesses is about to roll out a remix LP without the crush of press, publicity and advertising that usually accompanies all things Britney (from music to films to fragrances). But while the new album's been mostly kept under wraps by her label, word is slowly trickling out, and so are some of the tracks, including the album's one new song, "And Then We Kiss."

Think of B in the Mix: The Remixes as Britney's maternity-leave placeholder — she may not be putting out a new studio album until next year, but at least her older songs get some new life breathed into them by DJs such as Stuart Price and Peter Rauhofer (known for their work remixing Britney's mentor Madonna, who's got a dance album of her own due this month; see "Madonna Making 'Spontaneous' And 'Unapologetic' Dance Music").

Price had previously remixed "Breathe on Me" for a limited-edition bonus disc accompanying Spears' My Prerogative: Greatest Hits, but that "Jacques Lu Cont" version was faster and brighter, with a looped Giorgio Moroder-style beat. This one, his "Thin White Duke" remix, is half as long even though it slows the beat down to something slinky and lounge-y, even slightly off-key, making the song darker and dirtier. It also subtly repeats the word "blow" from her "Put your lips together and ..." lyric over and over, instead of just employing breathing sounds (which are still there).

Bill Hamel's nearly eight-minute trance remix of "Touch of My Hand" is sprightlier at the top, then shifts into something more ambient, where lyrics like "Control" and "Touch of my hand" are on repeat. Spears' voice gets chopped up into skittering syllables and sounds that don't form words but become part of the beat instead.

Other tracks include "Me Against the Music" featuring Madonna (Justice remix), "Toxic" (Peter Rauhofer Reconstruction mix), "I'm a Slave 4 U" (Dave Aude Slave Driver mix), "Everytime" (Valentin remix), "Early Mornin' " (Jason Nevins remix), "Someday (I Will Understand)" (Hi-Bias Signature radio remix), "... Baby One More Time" (Davidson Ospina 2005 remix) and "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know" (Hex Hector club mix).

The new song, the yearning Euro-trance of "And Then We Kiss," remixed by Junkie XL, describes a magical make-out session that makes her tremble, cry and moan, "Take me/ Touch me/ Won't you hold me close?" But since she sings at the beginning of the song that she's alone, that makes the scenario more of a fantasy than a reality: "Your love comes alive on my lips/ I feel a rush coming over and over me/ And when we touch/ This moment when everything's still/ I close my eyes/ And then we kiss." The techno effects are sweet, sunny synth lines, with orchestral overtones closing the song out.

"And Then We Kiss" has the potential to be a radio or club hit — if Jive were actively promoting the album. But this one is being marketed in a more underground way than usually associated with a superstar act. Spears doesn't appear on the cover art (save for the Japanese version); it's a butterfly instead. A promotional 12-inch with four select cuts was leaked, leading to its sale on eBay and at a few record stores, pretty much ensuring those tracks would wind up on the Internet.

One fan site, WorldOfBritney.com, has been working with the singer's management team to host a party in Los Angeles on November 22, the day of the album's release. "Britney and her new management are working their butt off to show that they're interested in achieving a closer relationship as well as a connection with the fans," WorldofBritney webmaster Ruben Garay said of the approach. "I think that's something that will be reflected on the release of this remix album in all fronts."
Lindsay Lohan Considers Attending NYU
Asked which college she'd like to attend, Lindsay Lohan told The New York Daily News: "Wow. I hadn't really thought about that. I think I would go to NYU. I'm a New York girl, and it's easy to get to London and L.A. from here."
Janet Jackson Looking To Lose A Lot Of Weight
Janet Jackson has been known to gain weight between albums, but recent images of the singer on the web (found here) have people buzzing. "She has been going through an unusual amount of stress lately with all the reports that have surfaced," a friend of the singer told Groovevolt.com. "She is currently working on new material and I am positive that when her album is released she will have that six-pack back." 
Fall Out Boy Ready to Get Stripped
Fall Out Boy is ready to perform as part of Clear Channel Radio’s stripped raw and realTM series. Hear hit singles from their platinum debut album FROM UNDER THE CORK TREE, including “Sugar, We're Goin Down,” “Dance, Dance” and “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of this Song So We Won't Get Sued.”  In addition, Fall Out Boy will perform their classic “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” and a cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Fall Out Boy’s session is available exclusively on over 130 Clear Channel Radio station Web sites. Hear the audio by clicking here.
Jay-Z And Nas Put Beef To Sleep In Onstage Show Of Unity
Diddy, Kanye and Beanie Sigel also joined Hov onstage in New Jersey.
Nas and Jay-Z perform onstage during Power 105.1's "Powerhouse 2005: Operation Takeover" Thursday
Photo: Scott Gries/Getty Images 

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Jay-Z did not deliver what he promised Thursday night — he brought much more than anyone would dare expect. Jay-Z and Nas united onstage at the Continental Airlines Arena, embracing each other and performing together.

The show was labeled "I Declare War." Weeks ago Jay said he was going to get onstage as headliner of New York radio station Power 105.1's Power House concert and not just give a great show with surprise guest performances from many of his friends, but he was going to "air" a few people out (see " 'I Declare War!' Jay-Z Says He's Going To Air Some Rappers Out Onstage"). In 'hood speak, that means he planned to humiliate those who have angered him in front of 20,000 witnesses. And we all know that when Jay disses you, word gets out around the globe. It's not pretty.

He did it four years ago at a similar concert, for New York radio station Hot 97. During 2001's Summer Jam, Jay-Z debuted "The Takeover," and he and Nas' battle was born. Fast forward to Thursday night where the beef was killed and a new alliance took form.

It was another Jay-Z moment that you'll tell your grandkids about, a moment that you could not believe was happening though you've imagined it time and time again. It was a moment that you've waited for for so long that while it was going down it did not seem real. This is what Tupac and Biggie never had a chance to do.

The fans in East Rutherford roared like the spectators at the Roman Coliseum after a gladiator finished off an opponent. Although both Jay and Nas maintained their composure and avoided cheese smiles, you could tell that under the b-boy cool, they too were taken aback. Their statement was more than two of the greatest MCs making a musical and business allegiance. This was two black men showing that even though they may have had a keen dislike, blatant disrespect and obvious rivalry in their past, they cannot only sidestep violence while having differences, they can work things out and even be friends down the line.

Back to Jay-Z's war. There was none. Jay told the audience that he had been doing research, and while he did indeed plan to tear a few people up onstage, he thought better of it. Instead he wanted to convey unity, explaining that the night was bigger than declaring war.

"All that beef sh--is done, we had our fun," he said. "Let's get this money."

The unification theme was clear almost from the concert's onset. Jay started the show by himself and, of course, his ovation was eardrum-shattering.

The curtain opened to reveal a stage set of the Oval Office with three windows. A huge screen hung behind it, and on top of the office was a platform with a staircase leading to the stage. Jay was sitting in a chair at his desk with two Secret Service-like bodyguards standing in the background.

"PSA" — which is rapidly becoming Jay's most popular record at concerts — commenced the night, with "Jigga My N---a" following up.

"I don't know if y'all ready," Hov said. "Seriously, I don't think y'all understand. ... This is my house. I own the Nets."

After returning from quickly changing out of his suit, a flurry of records such as "Hola' Hovito," "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" and "U Don't Know" followed. After he brought a young fan that looked no more than 8 years old onstage while he performed "Dear Summer" ("Don't try to upstage me with none of that cute kid sh--," he playfully told the young buck.), Hov left the stage, making way for new singers Teairra Marí and Ne-Yo to perform their singles "Make Her Feel Good" and "Stay," respectively.

The streets came back when T.I. was introduced shortly after. Tip's energy was on point as always; unfortunately, his mic was shoddy. You could not really hear his words as he performed tracks including "Motivation," "Bring Em Out" and "You Don't Know Me."

His mic finally started working correctly when it was time to introduce Young Jeezy.

That was the night's first big moment, seeing the king of the South and the Snowman together ripping the arena down with "Bang" off of Jeezy's Let's Get it: Thug Motivation 101 LP. Minutes later, after Jeezy got raucous with "And Then What," he brought out Akon for one of the most appreciated records of the night, "Soul Survivor."

"Just keep on movin' now," the audience sang along with Akon.

Another huge moment came just seconds after, with Jay returning to the stage to perform "Go Crazy," with Jeezy. Sadly, Jay's mic was not loud and clear, but we all got the picture.

Onto what Jigga labeled Act 2. He brought out the Roc (Peedi Peedi, Freeway and Memphis Bleek, to be exact) for a bunch of favorites including "What We Do," "Flipside" and "Is That Your Chick."

Jay and company then told the crowd somebody was missing. Yes, the Young Gunz were absent, but the audience thought another artist should really be there. Chants of "Beanie" immediately flooded the venue. As the guitar line for "Let's Do It Again" played, Beanie Sigel strolled out wearing all black with a hood over his head, marking yet another monumental moment. (Keep counting, there are more to come).

There was resonating jubilation to see that Beans, at least for one night, had put aside his own differences with his State Property fam. Even bigger in the picture was the fact that he and Jay are clearly still cool. Everything felt right seeing the Roc together for records such as "Roc the Mic" and "You, Me, Him and Her." The only thing was missing was Dame Dash.

Next Jay brought out the LOX and Sauce Money for the classic "Reservoir Dogs," which fans haven't seen since the Hard Knock Life Tour. You had to look at the calendar on your cell phone just to make sure it was indeed 2005 and you were not caught in memory lane. Too good to be true? No, this was happening live.

When the stage was cleared for a short D-Block set, Jadakiss told the DJ to stop "All About the Benjamins" just two seconds into the song. Kiss said that they needed to perform it the right way. So, like they had been doing all night, one of the windows in the Oval Office opened like a door and out pranced Diddy. It was like cruising with Michael J. Fox in the DeLorean. For just a few minutes, we were transported back in time to a hip-hop heyday.

After that performance, the stage was once again cleared, and this time surprise performer Kanye West showed up for his own short set. Then Jay returned. Chants of "We want war," started to ring out, but the fans were given much more.

Jay told everyone that he was inspired by all the collaborations onstage Thursday night and introduced Nas with a "Let's go Esco."

Nas came out on a riser above the Oval Office. He quickly ran down the stage to join Jay, and you could see all the artists backstage looking through the windows to witness that moment. Jay and Nas performed "Dead Presidents" together for the first time (Nas' voice is sampled on the chorus) and anyone who did not get goosebumps or chills at that moment had to be either dead or not in their right mind.

Jay stepped aside to let Nas have his own set, and Esco went back in his stash for "New York State of Mind" and "It Ain't Hard to Tell."

Diddy returned in a fur coat and poured two bottles of champagne out on the stage right before "Hate Me Now."

As Nas performed "Made You Look," Diddy sat on a replica Oval Office desk while Jay stood with a smile and his arm around the shoulder of Kanye West, who was equally elated. It's hip-hop — anything can happen.

The final song was "Encore," and LeBron James and most of the artists who performed came out to finish off the show with Jay, Nas, Kanye and Diddy.

War. What is it really good for?
Nano Users Sue Apple Over Scratched iPod Screens
Even as the iPod Nano flies off shelves, consumer complaints over Apple's wafer-thin music player continue to mount. Weeks after some Nano users griped about cracked or defective screens, a group of disgruntled buyers has filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer Inc. over claims that the device's screen can "scratch excessively during normal usage," rendering it unreadable.

According to a Reuters report, the suit alleges that Apple pushed ahead with the Nano's release on September 6 despite evidence that it was defective. Filed in San Jose, California, the lawsuit is seeking class-action status based on claims that one of the Nano's problems is the thin film of plastic resin that covers the screen. The suit contends that previous iPod versions were coated with a stronger, thicker resin that was more scratch resistant.

"Rather than admit the design flaw when consumers began to express widespread complaints ... Apple concealed the defect and advised class members that they would need to purchase additional equipment to prevent the screen from scratching excessively," according to the complaint.

Shortly after the Nano's hyped release, complaints began to mount that the screens on the device were easily cracked (see "Apple Responds To Complaints Of Big Problem With Tiny iPod"). Apple blamed the defect on a particular batch from a specific vendor that, according to the company, affected less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the Nanos that had been sold at that point. At the time, a disgruntled user launched the site www.flawedmusicplayer.com as a means of complaining about the screens, which led to Apple's admission to the manufacturing problem and an offer to replace the defective devices. But the company said the Nano's screen was no more susceptible to scratching that previous versions and recommended users buy protective cases.

"A few vocal customers are saying that their iPod Nano is more susceptible to scratching than prior iPods. We have received very few calls from customers reporting this problem, and do not believe this is a widespread issue," the company said at the time.

A spokesperson for Apple could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit at press time.

The plaintiff named in the suit, Jason Tomczak, bought his Nano in September. He said the screen quickly became so scratched that he could not view it. He claims in the suit that the screen was so easily scratched that even rubbing a paper towel across it left significant marks. The suit also claims that putting the Nano in your pocket with items such as car keys, coins, a credit card or the device's headphones can render the screen hard to read. Apple has reportedly sold more than 1 million Nanos since the device's introduction.

Apple replaced Tomczak's Nano because of a battery issue, but the replacement also became so scratched that Tomczak reportedly decided to return it as well. Because Tomczak and other complainants had to a pay a $25 fee to return their Nanos, the proposed class-action suit requests the return of those fees along with the original cost of the device and a share of Apple's "unlawful or illegal" profits from the sales of iPods. The firm handling the case claims that Apple deleted postings on its Web site related to the scratching problem.
Ricky Martin's Music Takes On New 'Life' 
With Ricky Martin's just-released album 'Life', the aim is to have the singer reconnect with his fans as he delves into new musical styles. "I hope I'm not the same artist I was five years ago, because it would be impossible," Martin told Billboard.com. "Life -- where it takes you, what you see, what you read -- changes you. Definitely, when I began to create for this album, the one thing I wanted was to not even attempt to do what I had already done. That's why I played with many genres I