Keith discusses Madonna, TLC and Natash Bedingfield.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at askbb@billboard.com.

LEAKY MADONNA

Hi Keith,

I am a big Madonna fan, and I keep hearing rumors about the release of her new album sometime in November. Some other Web sites talk about a release in early 2008. Do you know anything about it? Or even a possible title of the album or first single?

Thanks,
Kostas
Red Bank, N.J.


Hello Kostas,

Well, what we officially know is that Madonna is working on new material with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Pharrell. However, no release dates for a new album or single from Madonna have been announced.

There are lots of rumors about how an album may come out by the end of the year, but Warner Bros. Records has not announced anything yet.

That said, just yesterday (July 26), a short snippet of a song, allegedly a new Madonna track, leaked to the Internet. Even though the clip sounds like it was recorded on a cell phone, underwater, it still sounds like Madonna singing. (If it's not her, a good imitator has fooled us.)

No official word on a title of the album, though the song that has leaked is rumored to be called "Candy Shop." No 50 Cent jokes, please.

Madonna's last album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," debuted atop The Billboard 200 in 2005 and has sold 1.6 million copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.


AN EPIC NATASHA ALBUM?

Keith,

Is there any word from Epic regarding a North American release of Natasha Bedingfield's album "N.B."?

Billboard reported back in April that it was slated for an August release. This seems unlikely now, as there has been no single released or any news mentioned of it since.

Thanks,

Chris VanDuinen
Royal Oak, Mich.


Hi Chris,

While Europe got the new Natasha Bedingfield album in April, America will have to wait until the end of October for her new set, "N.B."

The album debuted and peaked at No. 9 on the Official U.K. Albums chart. So far, the set has spawned two U.K. top 10 singles as well, "I Wanna Have Your Babies" (No. 7) and "Soulmate" (No. 7).

On the Billboard Euro Albums chart, the "N.B." album topped out at a rather lowly No. 83. Her debut set, "Unwritten," went all the way to No. 7 on the Euro Albums chart.

Signed to Epic Records in the U.S., Bedingfield's debut album peaked at No. 26 on The Billboard 200. The album spun off three hit singles on The Billboard Hot 100 -- "These Words" (No. 17), "Unwritten" (No. 5) and "Single" (No. 25).

The "Unwritten" album has sold 815,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.


TLC MIA?

Keith,

I've heard TLC's hit "Waterfalls" a couple of times on radio very recently and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' rap on the song was removed. Has this happened to all TLC songs being played on radio? What is the reason for this?

Joanne Gomez


Hi Joanne,

You probably heard "Waterfalls" on your local Hot AC/Adult Top 40 or Adult Contemporary radio station. Those outlets, which specialize in not-so-aggressive pop songs and tunes that appeal to older listeners, will occasionally play songs that have been altered to suit their audience.

I remember hearing "Waterfalls" on Star 98.7 (KYSR) in Los Angeles back when it was a current hit and never hearing Left Eye's rap bridge. Record labels will sometimes provide radio stations with edited versions of songs in order to garner more airplay. For example, they may add a rap by someone (say, Jay-Z on Amy Winehouse's recent "Rehab") or remove a chunk of the song (like Left Eye's rap on "Waterfalls").

"Waterfalls" hit No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 and also peaked at No. 24 on the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 24 on the Hot AC/Adult Top 40 chart.

It is the group's only Adult Contemporary hit and was the first of two charting Hot AC/Adult Top 40 singles. TLC would later reach No. 39 on Hot AC/Adult Top 40 with "No Scrubs."