Billboard Bits: Soundgarden, Phoenix Begin Work on New Albums; Gaga's MSG Concerts to Air on HBO

Billboard Bits serves up the best bite-sized nuggets of music news and gossip.

Rep Denies Madonna Emailed Lady Gaga About 'Born This Way'

According to a representative in the Madonna camp, the singer never sent an email to Lady Gaga giving her blessing on "Born This Way," despite reports to the contrary from Gaga herself. In a recent interview on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Gaga claimed that Madonna approved of the single, despite its being called by many a rip-off of the icon's "Express Yourself." However, Madonna's rep has said that she is unaware of such an email. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Soundgarden Recording First New Album In Fifteen Years

Nineties grunge rock mainstays Soundgarden announced on their website that a new album is in the works -- the band's first in 15 years. "Over the past few months, we've been busy jamming, writing and hanging out together -- exploring the creative aspect of being Soundgarden," a post on the band's site read. "It feels great. We have some cool new songs that we are going to record very soon. Thank you for all of the support!" Soundgarden has not released an album of new material since 1996's "Down on the Upside." ( SoundgardenWorld)

Phoenix Start on New 'Experimental,' 'Futuristic' Album

French electro-indie group Phoenix has begun recording a follow-up to 2009's breakout album, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." In a video interview with Pedestrian.TV, frontman Thomas Mars called the new effort "futuristic," "experimental" and "minimal." He compared the new music to the sound of a speeding train! The band will be recording with a "bunch of percussionists" on the new album, according to bassist Deck D'Arcy. "We do a lot [of] music with drum machines and we blend a lot [of] drum machines and real drums," said Mars. "I think for us, it's a way to escape that." (MTV)

Gaga's Madison Square Garden Concerts To Air On HBO

Lady Gaga's upcoming Madison Square Garden concerts will be broadcast by HBO, the station announced yesterday. "Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden" will air May 7. The special will be taped at Gaga's Feb. 21 and 22 Madison Square Garden shows in New York. (Entertainment Weekly)

The Obamas To Hold Motown Celebration At White House

President Barack Obama is bringing Motown to the White House. Obama and first lady Michelle will hold a special celebration in Washington in honor of Black History Month. The event will be held Feb. 24 and broadcast on Mar. 1 on PBS. Among those scheduled to perform are Smokey Robinson, John Legend and Sheryl Crow. (Associated Press)

GMA Dove Awards Nominations Announced

The nominations for the 42nd Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards have been announced. Among the nominees for Artist of the Year are Francesca Battistelli, Jason Crabb, Natalie Grant, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Marvin Sapp, tobyMac and Chris Tomlin. Producer/songwriter Wayne Haun was also nominated for seven different awards, leading the nominees. The awards show will be held on April 20 in Atlanta and will be televised on GMC on April 24 at 7 p.m.

(Reporting by Jillian Mapes, Kevin Rutherford and Katie Morgan)