Published October 30, 2007
Today is D-Day for Britney Spears. Or was it Saturday?
"Blackout," Spears' new CD, was to be released to stores on Tuesday. Will fans buy it or ignore it? Or have they already downloaded it illegally? Those are the questions for Jive Records as a weeklong nail-biter unfolds.
The success of "Blackout" will detail what kind of future Spears — described by a family court judge as a drug user who doesn't listen to his rules — has in show biz.
Already there are troubling signs. "Blackout" has been available on iTunes for legal downloading since Saturday. Nevertheless, it hasn't turned up yet on their album chart. It could be fans didn't realize it was there, but still, on Amazon.com, "Blackout" is No. 6 right now, which is good but not great.
Meantime, the single "Gimme More" is No. 8 on iTunes. Jive hasn't released a second single yet, although "Heaven on Earth" is the likely choice. Stay tuned, because Spears is getting a public referendum this week. And the truth could hurt.
Bruce Springsteen should be very happy. He has the No. 1 album, a possible Grammy for Best Album of the Year for "Magic," an album full of singles and a sold-out concert tour.
Alas, there’s a hitch: Radio will not play "Magic." In fact, sources tell me that Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from "Magic." But it’s OK to play old Springsteen tracks such as "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA."
Just no new songs by Springsteen, even though it’s likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio.
Why? One theory, says a longtime rock insider, "is that the audience knows those songs. Of course, they’ll never know these songs if no one plays them."
"Magic," by the way, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release on Oct. 2 and likely will hit the million mark. That’s not a small achievement these days, and one that should be embraced by Clear Channel.
But what a situation: The No. 1 album is not being played on any radio stations, according to Radio & Records, which monitors such things. Nothing. The rock songs aren’t on rock radio, and the two standout "mellow" tracks — "Magic" and "Devil’s Arcade" — aren’t even on "lite" stations.
The singles-kinda hits, "Radio Nowhere" and "Living in the Future" — which would have been hits no questions asked in the '70s, '80s and maybe even the '90s, also are absent from Top 40.
What to do? Columbia Records is said to be readying a remixed version of "The Girls in their Summer Clothes," a poppy Beach Boys-type track that has such a catchy hook fans were singing along to it at live shows before they had the album. Bruce insiders are hopeful that with a push from Sony, "Girls" will triumph.
I’m not so sure.
Clear Channel seems to have sent a clear message to other radio outlets that at age 58, Springsteen simply is too old to be played on rock stations. This completely absurd notion is one of many ways Clear Channel has done more to destroy the music business than downloading over the last 10 years. It’s certainly what’s helped create satellite radio, where Springsteen is a staple and even has his own channel on Sirius.
It’s not just Springsteen. There is no sign at major radio stations of new albums by John Fogerty or Annie Lennox, either. The same stations that should be playing Santana’s new singles with Chad Kroeger or Tina Turner are avoiding them, too.
Like Springsteen, these "older" artists have been relegated to something called Triple A format stations — i.e. either college radio or small artsy stations such as WFUV in the Bronx, N.Y., which are immune from the Clear Channel virus of pre-programming and where the number of plays per song is a fraction of what it is on commercial radio.
Denise Rich and her celebrity pals from Ivana Trump to Liz Smith to Randy Jackson pulled in $5 million for cancer research Monday night at the 10th annual Angel Ball.
The evening got off to a good start with Smith, our hero, introducing the program and looking like a million bucks. Kelly Ripa and husband, Mark Consuelos, also helped kick things off. The evening’s honorees included BET’s Debra Lee, Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey and Dr. Stephen D. Nimer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
Not since Denise’s big back-to-back parties in 1999 and 2000 has the half-a-billionaire, songwriter and sometime controversial friend of the Clintons pulled out all the stops.
She stuffed 1,400 people into the Marriott Marquis ballroom, mingling her performers with big A-list names such as Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Joss Stone and John Legend with Joan Collins, Clive Davis, Neil Sedaka, Petra Nemcova, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Damon Dash, "Sex and the City" actor Jason Lewis, Broadway star Rufus Sewell of Tom Stoppard’s "Rock and Roll," Nikki Haskell, Beverly Johnson, Ann Dexter-Jones, artist Hunt Slonem, Broadway exec Margo McNabb and so on.
As usual, the Angel Ball attracted very glamorous types and some women who, to be honest, dressed like hookers a couple of days too early for Halloween. But that’s what it’s like when you have 1,400 people in a room. Some of them will have forgotten their bras. It’s an honest mistake.
Still, nothing takes away now from Denise’s memorial to her late daughter, Gabrielle, who died in 1996 at age 27. As at every Angel Ball, Gabrielle’s picture is flashed overhead on a screen at the beginning.
Denise, who despite her disastrous interaction with the Clintons in late 2000, has survived and flourished as a major cancer fundraiser. The G&P Foundation has sent so much money to research that the recipients probably can’t remember a time when it didn’t exist. A few missing bras seem worth the trouble.
There were some great Angel Ball-type moments: LaBelle launched into a stirring rendition of "Over the Rainbow," but in the middle of the second verse burst out laughing. "I’ve forgotten the words!" she said.
She caught up with the band on the chorus. Khan, who’s never shown up anywhere on time, came in late but knocked out the crowd with "I’m Every Woman." I’m not sure if Ashford & Simpson, who wrote it, were still there by that time. It was late.
Combs, sporting a huge, sparkling diamond earring, seated himself between two blondes at a front table like Diamond Jim Brady. One of the women was Kid Rock’s sometime girlfriend, May Anderson. We’ll be seeing those pictures everywhere.
By the way, you still can bid on items from the G&P’s silent auction at www.charitybuzz.com.
Remember Chazz Palminteri’s debut years ago in "A Bronx Tale"? He wrote the film and Robert DeNiro directed it. Now Chazz is on Broadway doing a one-man show version in which he plays all the parts. I caught it Saturday afternoon and it's genius. Palminteri is just mesmerizing in the 90-minute outing. He brings the entire Bronx to life, and then some. I don’t know how he can do this eight times a week, so catch him before he collapses. "A Bronx Tale" is a tour de force. ...
Set your DVRs for Jay Leno on Tuesday. I cannot imagine a stranger combination than Tom Cruise and the Sex Pistols. But those were to be Tuesday night's guests. There’s probably a bounty for a picture of Cruise and Johnny Rotten together. …
Finally: thanks to rollingstone.com, on Friday they literally lifted our exclusive on Michael Jackson’s $23 million default and ran it with only a link credit.
The site — which we are boycotting as part of our gripe with Jann Wenner for screwing up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — made it seem like it was their own story. Sad, really. Pathetic.