Nikka Costa says she'll self-release her next, as-yet-untitled album, due in late spring or early summer. The former Virgin artist has a new song, "Maybe Baby," running in promos for the NBC series "L

Nikka Costa says she'll self-release her next, as-yet-untitled album, due in late spring or early summer. The former Virgin artist has a new song, "Maybe Baby," running in promos for the NBC series "Lipstick Jungle."

The new album will have a "deeper, more thoughtful" sound, the singer told Billboard on her way into the Black Eyed Peas' 4th Annual Peapod Foundation Benefit Concert in Los Angeles on Thursday (Feb. 7). "I wouldn't feel right doing a dance-only record" in a time of war, says Costa, though it's tempting "to get your get your groove on at a time like this."


-- Ayala Ben-Yehuda, L.A.







Asked what the mood at Def Jam has been since Jay-Z's departure as president of the label, Ne-Yo tells Billboard, "I haven't been in the office since he left. Not for any particular reason, I just haven't been back, so I really don't know yet. Everybody is still ready to go and do what they do, but Jay-Z makes an impression anywhere he is for a short period of time, let alone a year, so I think he'll be sorely missed."

The Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter has recently worked with John Legend, Lionel Richie, Ciara, Usher, Mary J. Blige and Celine Dion. Ne-Yo's newest single, "Go On Girl," is "My answer to [Beyonce's] 'Irreplaceable' A lot of baby daddies, boyfriends and husbands [were] mad at me because of 'Irreplaceable,' so I had to do something geared toward the fellas, empowering the guys a little bit."


-- Ayala Ben-Yehuda, L.A.







Arizona pop/rock act the Format has decided to disband for the foreseeable future. The duo, consisting of singer Nate Ruess and multi-instrumentalist Sam Means, have "put the Format aside and work on our individual material," they said in a release.

"We came out of tour last fall and realized that we all have different aspirations right now," said Ruess.

The pair has been supporting its last album, 2006's "Dog Problems" non-stop on the road since it hit shelves. The set, released independently on the band's own Vanity Label, has sold 64,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Ruess is already hatching plans to complete a solo album for release this year.


-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.

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