Monday, December 30, 2013

Taylor Swift Tops Most Charitable Celebrities List

Taylor Swift was the most charitable celebrity of 2013, according to the social change nonprofit DoSomething.org. 

The pop star topped the organization's annual "Top 20 Celebs Gone Good" list for the second year in a row thanks to the $100,000 donation she gave the Nashville Symphony on the occasion of her 24th birthday. She was also recognized for her headlining gig at a London benefit for homeless youth. 11 of the 20 celebrities that made the most charitable list are musicians, with 4 in the top 5.

Coming in just behind Swift at number two in the rankings, One Direction got props for raising more than $3 million through their single for the British charity Comic Relief, as well as raising more than $800,000 for cancer research. Beyonce came in at number three, with particular recognition for headlining the "Chime For Change" concert for women's rights.

Wrapping up the list in the final two spots were Kendrick Lamar, recognized for his socially conscious lyrics as well as raising thousands of dollars for the Red Cross Superstorm Sandy relief efforts, and Justin Bieber, who raised an impressive $1,164,027 in support of Typhoon Haiyan victims and fulfilled more than 200 requests from Make-A-Wish kids.

Here's the full list of "Top 20 Celebs Gone Good":

1.Taylor Swift
2. One Direction
3. Beyoncé
4. Paul Walker
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
6. Sandra Bullock
7. Kerry Washington
8. Ian Somerhalder
9. Ryan Seacrest
10. Carrie Underwood
11. Jennifer Lawrence
12. Alicia Keys
13. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul
14. Miley Cyrus
15. Demi Lovato
16. Blake Shelton
17. Mindy Kaling1
8. Kevin Durant
19. Kendrick Lamar
20. Justin Bieber

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beyonce Releases Surprise New Album

With only two weeks left in 2013, Beyoncé pulled off one of the year's biggest surprises in music.

As much of the country was tucking into bed Thursday night, the singer suddenly announced that her new self-titled album — one she'd spent a year teasing in high-profile live performances — was suddenly available for purchase on iTunes.

The album, currently out as an iTunes exclusive, features 14 new tracks and 17 accompanying music videos. A double disc CD/DVD will be available before the holidays, according to her label, and individual tracks will become available for downloading December 20.

The singer waited until just after 9:00 p.m. PT Thursday  to announce the news of the new album via Instagram. "I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it," Beyoncé said in an announcement on Thursday. "I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There's so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans."

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Recap: 2014 Grammy Nominated Artists

Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.

Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.

Macklemore and Lewis dominated a nominations TV special from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles that also included performances by nominees Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lorde and Robin Thicke.

Macklemore and Lewis opened the show with a colorful, high-energy version of their hit "Thrift Shop," featuring Wanz, and immediately picked up a song of the year nomination for "Same Love," featuring Mary Lambert.

Recording Academy favorites Timberlake and Jay Z teamed up for two nominations apiece, but they only had one major nomination between them this year and that came for Jay Z's participation on Lamar's album of the year nominee "good kid, m.A.A.d city" instead of his own "Magna Carta ... Holy Grail."

Williams, who seemed to be everywhere in 2013, is up for producer of the year and faces himself in three categories, including record of the year for "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk and "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke, and album of the year entries "Random Access Memories" by Daft Punk and Lamar's "good kid."

Drake and sound engineer Bob Ludwig are up for five awards apiece at the Jan. 26 Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles.

Joining Lamar, Macklemore and Lewis, and Daft Punk in the album of the year category were Sara Bareilles' "The Blessed Unrest" — perhaps the biggest surprise among major category nominees — and Taylor Swift's "Red."

Swift is among five acts with four nominations apiece along with Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, Lorde and Kacey Musgraves. British musicians James Blake and Ed Sheeran round out the best new artist category with Musgraves, Lamar and Macklemore and Lewis.

Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," Lorde's "Royals" and Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" join "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines" for record of the year. The Lorde and Mars entries also are up for song of the year with Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason," Katy Perry's "Roar" and "Same Love."

Timberlake picked up a handful of nominations in pop categories, including pop vocal album of the year for "The 20/20 Experience." Other nominees in that category include Lana Del Rey's "Paradise," Lorde's "Pure Heroine," Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" and Thicke's "Blurred Lines."

"The Heist," "good kid" and "Magna Carta" are also on the best rap album list with Drake's "Nothing Was the Same" and Kanye West's "Yeezus." West also got a nomination for best rap song for "New Slaves."

The major nominations were an acknowledgement of 2013's top hit-makers. "Get Lucky," "Blurred Lines" and "Royals" took turns ruling the pop radio airwaves this year. Macklemore and Lewis had two hits — "Same Love" and "Thrift Shop" — that led to nominations.