Billboard Bits: Billy Joel, Linkin Park, Midwikid, ABBA

News on Billy Joel, Linkin Park, Midwikid, ABBA

Billy JoelTony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Garth Brooks, Diana Krall, matchbox twenty's Rob Thomas, and pianist Richard Joo will pay tribute to Billy Joel at the 2002 MusiCares Person of the Year awards dinner, to be held Feb. 25 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. As previously reported, Joel will receive the Person of the Year honor both for his achievements in music and his charity work over the years.

While the honoree does not have to be a songwriter, it often adds a certain flair to the evening when that is the case. "Having someone with such an amazing body of work really makes the evening so much better, because the other artists are there on stage singing that person's music back to them," Recording Academy president/CEO Michael Greene tells Billboard.

Joel tells Billboard he's looking forward to the evening for that very reason: "It [will] be a lot of fun to hear my songs I've written over the years performed by a great lineup of artists."

The Recording Academy established the MusiCares Foundation in 1989 to promote wellness in the music community through emergency financial assistance, addiction recovery programs, and outreach and leadership programs.

-- Melinda Newman, L.A.

Linkin ParkMicrosoft's Xbox announced a sponsorship deal with Warner Bros. recording artist Linkin Park, marking the game platform's first music-related marketing effort. As part of the deal, radio stations in cities reached by the band's Projekt: Revolution tour, which kicks off tonight (Jan. 29) in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be giving away Xboxes signed by Linkin Park, while souvenir merchandise will bear the Xbox logo.

"We don't enter into these things lightly," said Cindy Spodek Dickey, general manager of Xbox promotions and events. "But this works out so well because the honest truth is they're fans of Xbox. They even have one on their tour bus." The band is likely to be involved in other cross-promotional activities, but Dickey declined to elaborate, saying it was too early in the discussion phase.

According to Dickey, music is an essential part of Xbox's target audience's lifestyle. "And one of the competitive edges Xbox has is that the music sounds better and gamers can play the music they want to hear," she said. "Music is really important, and Xbox recognizes that."

Linkin Park is touring in support of its Warner Bros. debut "[Hybrid Theory]," which is No. 3 on The Billboard 200 in its 65th week on the chart. Latest single "In the End" is No. 2 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, No. 4 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks survey, and No. 7 on The Billboard Hot 100.

-- Chris Marlowe, The Hollywood Reporter

"Something Wikid This Way Comes," the debut Arista album from Indiana-based hip-hop act Midwikid, has been slated for an April 9 release by the label. Produced by former Naughty By Nature member KayGee, the album features the talents of the group's principal members M.A.G. and B-12.

First single "Like We S'posed Ta" features a chorus by guest artists R.L. (Next), Jaheim, and Fonz (Koffee Brown), the latter returning the favor of B-12's appearance on Koffee Brown's 2001 single "Weekend Thing." That track peaked at No. 71 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

"It's a new era," M.A.G. says of the set. "We don't boast or brag. Our music is about what we say and how we sound." Adds B-12, "We're just trying to come out as a strong backbone for the Midwest."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

ABBAThe 1999 ABBA documentary "The Winner Takes It All" will be released Feb. 26 on DVD via Polydor/UME. The 89-minute release features concert footage, interviews with the quartet's members, and testimonials by the likes of U2's Bono, producer Malcolm McLaren, and pop act Steps.

The DVD -- which is an extended version of the documentary featuring material not included in the original version -- also includes rehearsal and performance footage of "Mamma Mia!," the stage musical set to the group's songs.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.


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