1. Throwback Thursday: Remember Taylor Swift's 2007 Christmas Album?

    December 25, 2014 8:20 AM EST Here's a fun fact for the non- Taylor Swift  superfans out there: In 2007, fresh off her success with her 2006 debut country album Taylor Swift , Swift released a six-song Christmas album exclusively through Target. (It was later re-released wide in Dec. 2008.) In honor of Christmas…

  2. Questlove: 'Fear of Being Blackballed' Prevents Artists From Releasing Protest Music

    December 23, 2014 8:03 PM EST Neil Young was so shaken by photos of the four unarmed students killed by military gunfire at Kent State that he wrote "Ohio" for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young right away. By the end of the week, it was playing on the radio. That was 1970. Now, in 2014, outrage over police…

  3. Eric Burgett Brings His Classical Training to Country Music

    December 19, 2014 2:59 PM EST In this week's 615 Spotlight, we take a look at a singer who we found simply perfecting his art in one of the most prestigious clubs in Nashville: Eric Burgett, one of the most unique talents  you will find in Music City. His writing and performing definitely fit in with what is out…

  4. Paul McCartney Worked on a Song About Police Killings: 'I'm Not Giving Up On It'

    December 19, 2014 1:00 AM EST Sir Paul McCartney is 72, and only the wrinkles give his years away. Interviewed recently at his midtown Manhattan office suite, he seems as boyish and light-footed as he was on stage decades ago for The Ed Sullivan Show , his manner informal, his build slender and well suited for jeans and…

  5. The 14 Best Pop Albums of 2014

    December 18, 2014 4:49 PM EST From Tove to Taylor to Bleachers, these 14 in '14 were worth many, many listens. I’m not publishing a list of the Best Pop Songs of 2014 list, because, well, we have a week-long bracket tournament discussing the best pop songs of the year already. Instead, I want to highlight…

  6. Exclusive Premiere: Amy Speace Channels the Classics in 'Nothing Good Can Come From This'

    December 17, 2014 1:10 PM EST There's a romantic notion in people's minds of the songwriter as someone who gets struck suddenly by creative lighnting and boom : a song comes spilling out, fully formed and perfectly conceived from the get-go. It may happen like that occasionally, but songwriting is often hard…

  7. Rapper O.T. Genasis on Backlash to Ode to Cocaine 'CoCo': 'I Stay in My Lane and Do Me'

    December 16, 2014 10:06 AM EST Billboard caught up with O.T. Genasis , whose hit "Coco" recently cracked the top 30 on the Hot 100 . O.T. Genasis, Frank Ocean, One Direction: Digital and Social Movers Have you faced a negative backlash to “CoCo,” your ode to cocaine? When my son’s teacher hits me and says, “He…

  8. From Disclosure to Kiesza, How Music Stars Were Inspired By '90s Dance Icons in 2014

    December 15, 2014 4:25 PM EST The decade’s dance music came alive again in 2014, with new acts finding inspiration from old icons. Disclosure // Frankie Knuckles Inspired by Frankie Knuckles (who died in March) and the ’90s Chicago house scene, the British brother duo led the throwback dance revival with its…

  9. D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Album Finally Drops: First Listen

    December 14, 2014 11:37 PM EST After 14 years without a full-length album, D’Angelo ’s Black Messiah was released Sunday (Dec. 14) just before midnight. The 12-track set is available here via iTunes.   How can you possibly encounter an album like this? The weight of expectations looms large, and it cuts two ways.…

  10. BSBB Finals: Beyonce feat. Jay Z, 'Drunk In Love' vs. Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, 'Latch'

    December 14, 2014 11:00 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Drunk In Love Beyonce feat. Jay Z Latch Disclosure feat. Sam Smith ERNEST BAKER: “Latch" is a hot song. "Drunk In Love" is a definitive moment in pop culture history. It's the most honest, personal look at…

  11. BSBB Round 4: Katy Perry feat. Juicy J, "Dark Horse" vs. Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, "Drunk in Love"

    December 14, 2014 10:03 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Dark Horse Katy Perry feat. Juicy J Drunk In Love Beyonce feat. Jay Z JAMIESON COX: At this stage in the competition, it’s harder and harder for me to point to musical qualities when making decisions. I like all of these songs,…

  12. BSBB Round 3: Nicki Minaj, "Anaconda" vs. Charli XCX, "Boom Clap"

    December 14, 2014 10:02 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Anaconda Nicki Minaj Boom Clap Charli XCX DENISE WARNER: “Anaconda” waxes poetic about big butts. “Boom Clap” is a somewhat more sentimental take on falling in love. I’m going with sentiment on this one. My Vote: “Boom Clap”…

  13. BSBB Round 3: Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne, "Rather Be" vs. Jeremih feat. YG, "Don't Tell 'Em"

    December 14, 2014 10:02 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Rather Be Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne Don't Tell 'Em Jeremih feat. YG DENISE WARNER: It’s almost a toss-up between “Rather Be” and “Don’t Tell ‘Em”: both are vibrant, engaging and memorable. But what it really…

  14. BSBB Round 3: Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off" vs. Sia, "Chandelier"

    December 14, 2014 10:02 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Shake It Off Taylor Swift Chandelier Sia CAITLIN WHITE: This is a face-off between a fluffy, happy song about fighting off sadness and a sad, trembling song about grasping for happiness — clearly 2014 is full of confusion.…

  15. BSBB Round 2: Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, "Bang Bang" vs. Charli XCX, "Boom Clap"

    December 14, 2014 10:01 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Bang Bang Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj Boom Clap Charli XCX MEAGHAN GARVEY: If Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” is the “Stronger” 2014 desperately needed, “Bang Bang” is the “Lady Marmalade” nobody wanted. I’m all for…

  16. BSBB Round 1: Pitbull feat. Kesha, "Timber" vs. Aloe Blacc, "The Man"

    December 14, 2014 10:00 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Timber Pitbull feat. Kesha The Man Aloe Blacc KRISTEN YOONSOO KIM: I guess that Aloe Blacc song is perfectly fine, but no matter how many times I listen to it, I still have no idea how the song goes. It’s perfectly forgettable.…

  17. BSBB Round 1: OneRepublic, "Counting Stars" vs. Avicii, "Hey Brother"

    December 14, 2014 10:00 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Counting Stars OneRepublic Hey Brother Avicii KRISTEN YOONSOO KIM: Both of these songs are pretty terrible, but if pressed for answer, I guess I’ll have to go with… OneRepublic. This Avicii track confuses me to no end — the…

  18. Why Drake Managed to Rule Hip-Hop in 2014 -- Without a New Album or Hit Single

    December 12, 2014 10:05 AM EST The best rapper in 2014 didn't need a new album or hit single to prove his dominance. Drake 's last LP, Nothing Was the Same , arrived in September 2013, but thanks to a stream of songs surprise-released online, carefully curated remixes, touring and big-time TV spots, there was…

  19. Jessie J's 'Virtuosic Vocal Muses' Playlist Pays Homage to Singing Stars: Exclusive

    December 11, 2014 4:50 PM EST Jessie J used a killer set of pipes — and a pair of famous friends in Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj — to score one of the year’s biggest hits with “Bang Bang,” which reached the Top 5 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Unsurprisingly, the U.K. pop vocalist draws inspiration from the musical…

  20. The 10 Best K-Pop Albums of 2014

    December 11, 2014 2:30 PM EST Even diehard fans will admit that it's tough to find an entire K-pop album worthy of being labelled brilliant from start to finish. But there were a select group of artists who proved the notion wrong with cohesive bodies of work in 2014. (And see our list of the 20 best K-pop songs…

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