Billboard Bits serves up the best bite-sized nuggets of music news and gossip.
'Punk'd' Returns With Justin Bieber Pranking Taylor Swift
MTV's revamped and reincarnated prank show "Punk'd" is back, and instead of Ashton Kutcher, each episode will feature a different celebrity pranking others. First up: Justin Bieber clowns Taylor Swift. No word yet on the details of the prank or if Bieber's new pet snake will play a role. (Idolator)
Beach Boys' Long-lost 'Smile' Album Gets Release Date
The Beach Boys' long-lost 1966-1967 "SMiLE" sessions are finally have a release date: Oct. 31 internationally and Nov. 1 stateside. "The SMiLE Sessions" will be available via Capitol/EMI in a double CD and double vinyl package, digital album, iTunes LP, and a massive box set, which includes five CDs, two LPs, two 7"s, a 60 page book, and a "three-dimensional shadowbox lid." The sessions hope to present "an approximation of what was intended to be the completed 'SMiLE' album, compiled from the Beach Boys' original session masters," according to a press release.
Britney Spears Confirms 'Criminal' as Next Single
Britney Spears has confirmed that "Criminal" will be the next single off "Femme Fatale." Speaking to MTV News backstage at the VMAs, Spears teased about the upcoming video for the slow jam, saying she knows what the song's video will look like and that she "was thinking of a really cool concept for the video just to make it interesting." (MTV)
Tupac Shakur's Ashes Confirmed to be Smoked by Band
Members of Tupac Shakur's hip-hop collective the Outlawz have reportedly admitted they did, indeed, smoke Tupac's ashes following his 1996 death, as it is often rumored. Rappers Young Noble and EDI Mean cited lyrics to Shakur's song "Black Jesus" for instructions to smoke his ashes and confirmed they inhaled his smoke at a small memorial get together after his death. (NME)
Erykah Badu Collaborating with Gorillaz
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal at Rock the Bells festival this past weekend, Erykah Badu mentioned that, in addition to working with Thom Yorke's favorite collaborator, Flying Lotus, on a new album, she's collaborating with Damon Albarn's cartoon act Gorillaz on an upcoming project. (Wall Street Journal)
Beatle Biographer Undercovers 250+ Lennon Letters
Hunter Davies, author of the only official Beatles biography, has uncovered more than 250 letters and cards written by John Lennon to his family and friends. Davies says the letters, which will be published in his 2012 book, don't offer any "dramatic revelations," but offer a closer look into Lennon's sense of humor and some insight into his life. "You see him as a tortured soul. You see him being funny, you see him showing off, you see him depressed, you see him in different stages," explained Davies, who added that this is the first time Yoko Ono had given permission for the letters to be published. (BBC)
(Reporting by RJ Cubarrubia & Jillian Mapes)