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Jim and Greg have resisted talking about American Idol for quite a while, but this week this pop culture phenomenon couldn‘t be ignored. While these critics still don’t care about the musical impact of the show, they can't deny its significance in the industry. An average of 25 million people tuned in each week to see who would be declared the American Idol, commanding advertising rates that are only exceeded by the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. For the music industry, this means major sales. Past contestants like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken have sold 33 million records, and songs that appear on the show in any form immediately take off on the charts. Labels have taken note, sending aging artists like Rod Stewart, Queen and Barry Manilow, as well as fresher faces like Shakira, Mary J. Blige and Prince, to appear on the show. As much as both our hosts hope that audiences will decide to turn the dial toward something of better musical quality, Greg predicts that hipper acts in need of promotion will soon be calling up Fox. And until then, fans can look forward to much of the same.

Fans who purchased Sony CDs by artists like The Foo Fighters, The Coral, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra can rest easy. While those CDs may have infected your computer with a virus-like anti-piracy software called MediaMax, a judge has ordered Sony to make up for it. Every customer infected with the software will receive a cash payment of $7.50 and one free album download or three free song downloads. Whoever claims that the record industry doesn'y care about the consumer obviously missed this news.

Rumor has it that Sri Lanka-born, England-based rapper M.I.A. is being denied a visa to come to the United States. M.I.A., or Maya Arulpragasam, has plans to record with producer Timbaland, but may have to postpone them. Whether or not the denial is related to the fact that she is the daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel, or the fact that many of her song lyrics are overtly political, is not known. What is known, however, is what a raw deal this is. While M.I.A., who has received masses of critical acclaim and was up for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2005, will not be gracing Americans with her presence, our own Snoop Dogg has recently been barred from the U.K. Sound Opinions is willing to enter into diplomatic negotiations to work this out.

Go to episode 26

Music News

American Idol is currently on summer vacation, but they've still been making quite a bit of news. The pop music contest and music industry juggernaut has decided to take its business to Universal Music and away from Sony. In years past, the show's winners and runners-up released albums on Sony under the direction of powerhouse Clive Davis. Now it appears that Interscope executive Jimmy Iovine will become the new mentor. In addition, both Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres are out as hosts. Kara DioGuardi may also be leaving. In their place? Possibly Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. And, since it's been years since Idol produced a Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, hopefully these changes will mean more exciting winners as well.

It doesn't look like we can count on an “Iranian Idol” anytime soon. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a strong statement against music this week, proclaiming that it is“not compatible”with the values of the Islamic republic. Many are seeing this as leading to an outright ban of music in Iran and an expression of Khamenei's long-held mistrust of Western cultural influence. As rock evangelists, this attitude toward music is, of course, disheartening to Jim and Greg. For more on rebel culture in Iran check out Marjane Satrapi graphic novel and film Persepolis and the Cannes winner No One Knows About Persian Cats.

Go to episode 245

Music News

Adele continues down her path of superstardom by scoring the biggest recording deal in the history of music. After three albums on the British indie label XL, Adele has signed a deal with Sony for around $132 million. She will be on the conglomerate's subsidiary label, Columbia, alongside artists like Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and John Mayer. In the mid '90s and early 2000s, musicians like Prince, R.E.M. and U2 were signing massive recording deals. However in 2016, substantial contracts are much harder to come by due to the large decrease in album sales. Adele seems to be the exception to the rule, which is reflected in her new, record-breaking contract.

Go to episode 548

Music News

First up in the news Jim and Greg discuss a recent TV commercial featuring music by The Beatles. The diaper company Luvs has taken the 1967 peace anthem "All You Need Is Love," and turned it into the jingle“All You Need is Luvs,”and some Beatles fans are worried that this soils the song's meaning. The Fab Four's songs have been used a few times in advertising, especially since the catalog has come under the joint control of Sony Corp. and pop singer Michael Jackson.

Also in the news is rapper 50 Cent's lawsuit against internet ad company Traffix Inc. The hip hop star is taking issue with Traffix Inc's recent ad campaign that features his cartoon image and encourages people to“shoot the rapper”and win $5,000 or five ringtones. While Jim and Greg agree this is pretty distasteful, they wonder if 50 Cent's real beef is that he didn't come up with the idea himself. The hip hop star has based his image on his own violent background, which includes being shot nine times.

Go to episode 87

Music News

The first story in the news this week involves that age-old practice of“pay-for-play,”or payola, in the music industry. In recent years, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been investigating major record labels like Sony and Warner who engaged in this practice. But now, the FCC has joined the battle against this unethical behavior by launching an investigation of the four major radio corporations: Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting and Entercom Communications. The FCC's enforcement unit is looking into accusations that broadcasters illegally accepted cash or other compensation in exchange for airplay of specific songs without telling listeners. As per usual, the federal government is late to the game — but this investigation is admittance of a problem. And as we all know, that's the first step.

Also making news recently are some major acts from the early 1990s. It seems that people are already nostalgic for the music of the alternative era, and many of the surviving bands are cashing in on it. Alice in Chains announced tour dates for this summer, despite the fact that their original lead singer, Layne Staley, died of a drug overdose in 2002. Like the members of Queen and The Doors, the surviving Alice in Chains bandmates don't seem fazed by this loss, and will continue with the addition of Guns 'N Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Comes With the Fall vocalist William DuVall. Former Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins will also tour this summer under the name Panic Channel, though their lead singer has not passed on. Rather, he's now the impresario of what may prove this summer's big moneymaker: Lollapalooza.

In the typical fashion, Neil Young is stirring up some controversy. The prolific rocker finished recording music for an upcoming album mere days ago and will have it in stores within a couple of weeks. Young is just coming off his last release, Prairie Wind (featured in Jonathan Demme's recent concert film), but on Living With War, he will shift gears completely. According to Greg, this release is a completely political, guerilla-style protest album. Young wrote and recorded songs like "Let's Impeach the President," in just one day in response to the current administration and its failed war in Iraq. Jim points out that Young works well in this situation. Less than two weeks after the Kent State shootings in 1970, Young was inspired to write "Ohio," and it was on the radio within a week. Almost 40 years later, the classic rock icon shows no sign of slowing down — neither his writing, nor his politics.

Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins are also in the headlines again. Nirvana widow Courtney Love sold 25% of her share of the band's publishing rights to Larry Mestel, a former executive at Virgin Music. She reportedly received over 50 million dollars for this settlement. That should help alleviate Love's financial woes, though not necessarily the woes of Nirvana fans who worry that Cobain's legacy will be boiled down to Teen Spirit ads. Smashing Pumpkins fans are also a bit curious about the fate of that band. Lead singer (and Love ex) Billy Corgan has stated that the Chicago group will reunite, but no one is quite sure in what incarnation. That really just leaves Pearl Jam, who you'll hear about later in the show.

Go to episode 22