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Sam Smith, Meghan Trainor Recall Worst Christmas Gifts Ever


Derrick SantiniWith the kind of year that Sam Smith and Meghan Trainor have had, they don't need to rely on anyone to get them Christmas gifts -- they can just buy whatever the heck they want.  But there was a time in the past when, just like regular folks, both stars suffered through lousy Christmas gifts courtesy of clueless relatives.

Speaking to Billboard magazine, Sam says his worst Christmas present ever came from his dad, but that's just because he wasn't exactly clued in to little Sam's interests.  "My dad got me a build-your-own tank when I was 11," he tells Billboard. "I don't think he knew I was gay at that point. I got really upset."

Meghan, meawhile, got her worst Christmas gift from her brother, and ironically, it made her feel bad about her body image -- the very issue that her #1 hit "Alll About that Bass" would go on to tackle.

"My little brother bought me boxers from [my hometown of] Nantucket, that I already had a pair of," she tells Billboard. "But he bought a smaller size, so that I was just insecure and pissed."

Still those gifts pale in comparison to the one that MAGIC! frontman Nasri claims he received.  "My brother's t-shirts," Nasri says, describing his worst-ever gift. "His actual t-shirts."  Why you gotta be so rude?

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Madonna Releases Six Songs from New Album "Rebel Heart," Album Coming in March


Interscope RecordsFollowing the unauthorized leak earlier this week of some of her new but incomplete tracks, Madonna has decided to officially release six songs from her upcoming album, titled Rebel Heart.  The songs are available for pre-order at iTunes and other outlets with the purchase of the album, and individually.  More music is coming February 9, and the entire album will officially arrive during the first week of March.

The songs that are available are "Living For Love," "Devil Pray,"  "Ghosttown," "Unapologetic B***h," "Illuminati" and "B***h I’m Madonna," which features Nicki Minaj.  She also appeared on Madonna's last album, MDNA.

In a statement, Madonna said, I was hoping to release my new single 'Living For Love' on Valentine's Day with the rest of the album coming in the Spring. I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the  incomplete tracks that are circulating.   Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift."

On Instagram, Madonna wrote, "6 songs for you now.......#rebelheart Happy Early X-Mas! ! 13 more to come for album 13 !!!"

The album cover shown on iTunes is a black-and-white photo of Madonna's face, wrapped in some kind of black tape or string.

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Kelly Clarkson Hosting Star-Studded "Miracle on Broadway" Concert Saturday Night in Nashville


Peter Kramer/NBCKelly Clarkson's star-studded Miracle on Broadway concert is set for Saturday night at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. The lineup includes Grammy nominees Meghan Trainor and Hayley Williams of Paramore, as well as country stars Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Kacey Musgraves, Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn and Martina McBride.

Kelly started the ball rolling for the show less than 90 days ago, and she recruited her mother-in-law, country legend Reba McEntire, as the first special guest on the show. Kelly is married to Reba's stepson, Brandon Blackstock.

Kelly says with a laugh, "I figured if I could tie Reba in, people would say yes. So, she said yes, probably 'cause she's just my mother-in-law. It'd be awkward at Christmas when she was like, 'Oh, I turned you down.'"

Kelly hopes to make Miracle on Broadway an annual event, and she's already gotten commitments for next year's show from a few superstars, including country music icon Dolly Parton.  Miracle on Broadway coincides with Kelly's first Christmas with her baby daughter, River Rose. While she's worked with charities in the Nashville area for years now, Kelly says becoming a mother has made her want to give even more back to her community.

In addition to River Rose, Kelly is a stepmom to Brandon's two children from a previous marriage. She hopes to instill that spirit of giving into their kids with events like Miracle on Broadway.

Says Kelly, "We want to make sure that they are a part of things like this from the get-go. His kids, and our little girl as well -- [to] just see this. Because it's like, you can't grow up in your own little world. There's a whole world out there, and there's people that are in need."

Proceeds from Miracle on Broadway benefit several of Kelly's favorite charities in Middle Tennessee, including The Community Foundation, Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Monroe Harding Children's Home, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Thistle Farms organization for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction.

Fans attending the concert are asked to bring a non-perishable food donation for Second Harvest Food Bank. Those not attending the concert can make a one-time $10 donation by texting MIRACLE to 41010.

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Sam Smith First to Chart on "Billboard" Hot 100 with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"


Capitol Records

The song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been around for 70 years, but it took Sam Smith to bring it to the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time.

The British singer's melancholy version of the song has just debuted at #90 on that chart.  Of course, various versions of the tune have appeared on the publication's Holiday chart, but never onthe Hot 100, alongside the other current hits of the day. 

Sam debuted his version of the song on the CBS special A Very Grammy Christmas, during which he learned he'd been nominated for Album of the Year. That's one of six Grammy nominations he has this year.

On the Holiday 100, Sam's version of the song is top 10, and there are three other versions on there as well, by Frank Sinatra, Christina Aguilera, and Michael Buble.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was first introduced in 1944, in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis.


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Taylor Swift's 25th Birthday Helps Her Top "Social 50" Chart for First Time Since Last Year


ABC/Fred LeeSince Taylor Swift is everywhere, has millions of fans and is very active online on Twitter and Instagram, you'd think she'd be #1 on Billboard's "Social 50" chart, which ranks the most popular artists on social media, every other week.  But it turns out it took a milestone birthday to send her to the top of that chart, which she hadn't visited since last year.

According to Billboard, Taylor's #1 on the chart thanks to her epic 25th birthday party in the wee hours of December 13, whose guest list seemed to include every famous person in the world...all of whom took to Twitter and Instagram to talk about the fabulous party.  Those who weren't at the party took to Twitter to wish her a happy birthday, and all that activity sent her to #1 on the chart for the first time since April of 2013.

In addition, being the subject of tweets from Lorde, Selena Gomez, Charli XCX, HAIM, Nick Jonas and more resulted in a 117 percent increase in mentions online, and her posts on Instagram featuring her partying with Justin Timberlake and Beyonce received nearly 11 million likes for that week.

Taylor had previously climbed as high as #2 this year on the Social 50 chart, but she was constantly blocked by Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

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Nicki Minaj Scores Record-Breaking No. 1 on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart


Dana Edelson/NBCNicki Minaj continues to outdo herself on the charts.

The rapper's "Only" has climbed from #10 to #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, marking her fourth #1 on that list. That's the most #1's for a female rappers in the 56 years since the chart launched as a sales/airplay hybrid tally.

Onika only had to step over a handful of female rappers who have multiple #1's, including Missy Elliott, Da Brat and Iggy Azalea.

The song, which features Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown, also has furthered her collaborators' rankings: the song gives Drizzy his 12th leader on the chart, Wayne his ninth and Brown his fifth.

"Only" is lifted from Minaj's The Pinkprint album, available now.

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Christina Aguilera Developing ABC Family Show About Las Vegas Entertainers


ABC/Richard HarbaughChristina Aguilera is getting into the TV business, beyond her appearances on The Voice.

Deadline reports that the singer is executive producing and helping to develop a dramedy for ABC Family which is focused on a group of Las Vegas entertainers who fall in and out of love. 

Tentatively titled Hearts and Clubs, the show is described as being similar to Love, Actually in the way that the characters' lives intertwine.  Another executive producer on the project is her fiance, Matt Rutler, the father of her baby girl Summer Rain.

Christina returns to The Voice for season eight early next year.

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Katy Perry Breaks Ticket Sales Records on Australian Leg of Prismatic World Tour


Christie GoodwinKaty Perry Prismatic world tour recently wrapped up its Australian leg, and to say it was a success is something of an understatement.

Katy's show broke a record at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia, selling 89,500 tickets over six shows.  That beats the previous record, set by One Direction, of 81,542 tickets sold across seven shows in 2013.  Katy received a special bronze star plaque, as well as a bicycle, to commemorate her achievement. The plaque will be mounted on the arena's entryway.

Katy got the bicycle because she enjoys biking around the various cities where she tours.  This one is a custom-made road bike that incorporates design elements of her tour, and some of her earlier work.

The show's promoter told Billboard of Katy, "She’s a star performer. In this market, 350,000 is enormous. She’s a mile ahead of everyone else...We could have added another dozen shows everywhere easily. Without a blink. And probably even more.”

Futher underscoring Katy's popularity Down Under, her album PRISM has gone five-times platinum in Australia, which in that country means 350,000 copies.

However, Billboard notes that Pink is actually the all-time box office queen in Australia, selling 650,000 tickets in 2009 on her Funhouse tour, and more than 500,000 tickets last year for her Truth About Love Tour.

Katy's Prismatic tour wraps up for good Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand, and then it's on to the Super Bowl halftime show in February.

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Mariah Carey's Former Assistant Suing for Back Pay


Peter Kramer/NBCRemember when Lady Gaga's former personal assistant sued her for back pay, claiming she'd been overworked and treated unfairly?  Well, now the same thing is happening to Mariah Carey.

The New York Post reports that the former staffer, Ylser Oliver, is claiming in a lawsuit that starting in 2007, she worked 16-hour days for Mariah, and never got any overtime, despite doing everything from packing for Mariah, cleaning her house, answering phones, shopping for her, arranging for services and repairs to her house, and "caring for" her family and friends.  Oliver quit this year. 

Oliver's lawyer tells the Post, "My client put her family’s life on hold while tending to Mariah Carey’s family, and Mariah repaid her by underpaying her. her. My client is a very hardworking woman who treated Mariah and her family like her own, working all hours of the day and night. Even celebrities are required to abide by the law.” 

He added that Oliver is suing for "a significant amount" of money, because she was entitled to time-and-a-half if she worked more than 40 hours a week.

Mariah's rep told the paper, "I can’t comment on anything that I’m not aware of and we haven’t heard anything about this lawsuit."

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Watch Rixton, Train, Jennifer Hudson on "A Home for the Holidays" Tonight


Michael Yarish/Triage Entertainment.Rixton, Train and Jennifer Hudson are among the performers on this year's edition of the CBS special A Home for the Holidays, airing tonight.

As always, the show will feature uplifting stories about real-life families whose lives have been changed by adoption from foster care, as well as a segment on the more than 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S., waiting for a "forever family."

Also on the bill for the special are legendary R&B group Earth Wind & Fire, Katharine McPhee, country star Ashley Monroe -- who duets with Train on their single, "Bruises" -- and country duo Dan Shay.   It airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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Iggy Azalea and Fall Out Boy to Perform on People's Choice Awards


ABC/Randy HolmesA former People's Choice Award winner and a current nominee will both perform on the 2015 People's Choice Awards telecast, airing January 7 on CBS.

Iggy Azalea, who's up for Favorite Female Artist and Favorite Hip-Hop Artist, will take the stage, and so will Fall Out Boy, who won the award for Best Alternative Band at this year's ceremony.  Fall Out Boy is promoting their forthcoming album, American Beauty/American Psycho, which comes out January 20.  Iggy's promoting her Great Escape tour, which kicks off in April in Fresno, California.

Among the other music nominees for this year's awards: Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Meghan Trainor, and Ariana Grande.

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Rita Ora, Christina Perri & Aloe Blacc Sing on "Christmas in Washington," Tonight on TNT


Kevin Mazur/WireImageTNT's annual Christmas in Washington special is about as American a show as you can get: it's taped in our nation's capital, with President Obama and his family in attendance.  That's why Rita Ora feels so honored that she was invited to perform on this year's show, which airs Friday night.

The "Black Widow" singer tells ABC News Radio, "I think I'm holding the flag for the Brits right now. I'm really honored. I feel so kind've blessed to be in a situation where I can entertain not only the president but just the people of Washington."

"Christmas is my favorite time of the year. You know, I love dressing up for Christmas," she adds. "It's such a beautiful event -- the orchestra, the choir. I'm so honored. I'm just kinda like, 'Thanks, guys!'"

Rita will perform "What Child Is This?" on the show, as well as the Band Aid song "Do They Know It's Christmas."  She recently took part in the 30th anniversary recording of the song, which is raising money to fight Ebola.  She says the tune is "actually a really important song for me, especially for all us Brits," adding, "I just wanted to sing it because it's a very important cause for me, and Sir Bob Geldof, who is the creator of the charity and everything."

The other artists on the bill for Christmas in Washington include Aloe Blacc, R&B legends Earth, Wind & Fire, Hootie & the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker, country star Hunter Hayes and Christina Perri, who tells ABC News Radio that when she got the invite, "I mean, I couldn't have really said yes quick enough. It wasn't even an option."

"It's such an honor and so magical and Christmas is my favorite time of the year," she gushes. "Like, I'm obsessed with Christmas music and when I found out I could sing a Christmas song it just made so much sense. I'm just really really excited to be here."  Christina really does love Christmas music, having released a holiday EP a few years ago called A Very Merry Perri Christmas, and the song she's performing tonight is one of the tunes she covered on that project.

"I'm singing 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.' It's one of my top five favorite Christmas songs," she tells ABC News Radio. "I wanted to do something very elegant. That's what this night is about. We're here in Washington. I wanted to wear a pretty dress and...my specific thing I love doing is ballads, and so I just wanted to sing a really beautiful, classic, Christmas song."

Christina normally goes home to see her family in Pennsylvania on Christmas, but she says this year will be different.  "I'm not making it home for Christmas this year. I'm spending it with my boyfriend because he's working and would've been alone, which is a first for me," she tells ABC News Radio. "So I'm going to have a more of a romantic Christmas than I will a family Christmas. But I've never missed a Christmas before so for 28 Christmases I've been at home. So this will be my first time away, but I've definitely have sent a present for every single Perri in my family."

As for Aloe Blacc, he'll be doing "Noel" and "The Christmas Song," telling ABC News Radio, "All of the selections that I'm singing tonight are based around my favorite Christmas caroler, Nat King Cole."  The "Wake Me Up" singer, who just received a Grammy nod for his album Lift Your Spirit, says he'll be spending his holidays in Los Angeles this year; every other year, he goes to Sydney, Australia, where his wife is from.  But he says he's excited to be in D.C. for tonight's show.

"It's really an honor," he says. "It's great to be here and to get to grace the whole nation in such a beautiful time of year with these songs that we all know from our childhood."  

The show, hosted by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET, and you'll see the first family get onstage with all the musical performers at the end and hug them.

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Kelly Clarkson Says New Album Will Be "Uplifting" and "Empowering"


RCA RecordsKelly Clarkson hasn't released an album of all-new, non-holiday material since 2011's Stronger, but she'll have a brand-new record coming out in 2015.  What will it sound like?  Well, she describes it as "uplifting" and "empowering" and says that, music-wise, it's got "a little bit of everything."

At a Nashville press conference on Thursday to talk about the benefit concert she's holding on Saturday, Kelly was asked to describe the album, and at first, she decided to make a joke.  "It's amazing. And you're going to love it," she cracked. "You're gonna be like, 'This is right on up there with John Lennon, Imagine. [I] guaran-damn-tee it!"

Then, she backtracked, just in case anyone thought she was serious.

"It's not Imagine. Sarcasm!" she laughed.  "But we can aim!"

Then, getting serious, Kelly said of the new album, "It's an uplifting record. I've always been a person about empowerment and doing empowering songs. There's empowering songs on the record and there's a lot of positive on there."

But Kelly has switched back and forth between pop and country in the next couple of years, what can we expect as far as the genre?

"There's all kinda of genres," said the Nashville-based singer. "I'm obviously affected by the community I live in so there's a little bit of everything. It's a great record."

No word yet on a release date for Kelly's album, which will be her first regular studio album since getting married and becoming mom to daughter River Rose.

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Maroon 5, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell and 5 Seconds of Summer Perform on the First People Magazine Awards


Vincent Perini/222 Recordings/Interscope RecordsThe first-ever People Magazine Awards, which took a look back at the year in pop culture, aired live from the Beverly Hilton on NBC Thursday.

The evening also included performances from Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, 5 Seconds of Summer and Maroon 5.

The two-hour special was hosted by Nick Cannon, who managed to sneak in a joke about splitting with his wife Mariah Carey after six years of marriage.

"I've been told that I have graced People from time to time. A little small mention here and there," the America's Got Talent host told the audience, adding, "I don't know why, it's not like anything interesting has happened in my life in 2014."

Stefani, who earlier won the Style Icon of the Year award, teamed up with her fellow Voice coach Pharrell for their new single, "Spark the Fire."

5 Seconds of Summer performed their cover of The Romantics' "What I Like About You," from their album She Looks So Perfect.

Maroon 5 performed their hit, "Animals."

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Amy Adams Fangirls over One Direction in New "Saturday Night Live" Promos


Jeff Daly/NBCAmy Adams unleashes her inner One Direction fangirl in a series of new Saturday Night Live promos.

The actress will be hosting the show this weekend, and the British boy band will be the musical guest. In one of the promos, Adams suppresses the urge to scream around the guys. In another, she hangs a strategically-placed mistletoe and tries to get the guys to kiss her. “You said we have to kiss you,” Harry Styles points out. To which Liam Payne adds, “Otherwise, we can’t do SNL.”

The last promo features the band members holding Adams. “Should we, uh, put you down?” Liam asks. “Don’t you dare,” Adams responds, as she runs her fingers through Zayn Malik’s hair.

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Watch Maroon 5, Gwen & Pharrell, Plus 5SOS, Perform on Tonight's "People" Magazine Awards


Dana Edelson/NBCIf you're upset that The Voice is over for the season, just turn on tonight's People Magazine Awards. It'll be like it never ended.

On the show, which airs tonight at 9 p.m. on NBC, you'll see Maroon 5 perform, and Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams teaming up for their collaboration "Spark the Fire," Gwen's new single.  5 Seconds of Summer, who have a new live album out, also are on the bill.

Nick Cannon hosts the show, which will look back on the year in pop culture.  Other stars attending include Jon Hamm, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Michael Keaton, Jennifer Lopez, Josh Groban and Kate Upton, among others.

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Katy Perry, John Legend Among the Most "SoundHoundÂ’ed" Artists of the Year


Christie Goodwin/Capitol RecordsFirst we had the list of the most Shazamed artists of the year, based on the popular song-tagging app.  Now we've got the list of the most SoundHound’ed artists of the year, based on a similar app that identifies not only recorded songs, but songs that you sing or hum.

According to SoundHound, the song most people were curious about was "All of Me" by John Legend, followed by Clean Bandit's "Rather Be," Pharrell Williams' "Happy," MAGIC!'s "Rude," "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz and "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry.  Others in the top 10: Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass," OneRepublic's "Counting Stars" and "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance.

On the album side, Katy's PRISM album was the most SoundHound'ed, followed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist, John Legend's Love in the Future, Ariana Grande's My Everything and Prayer by Mr. Probz.  Other albums in the top 10 included discs by Iggy Azalea, Jason Derulo, Pharrell and Lorde.

The most SoundHound’ed artist of the year overall, though, was Pitbull, thanks to his own hits, and his appearances on other artists' records.  Number two was David Guetta, and number three was OneRepublic.

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Nick Minaj: "I Am the Greatest Female Rapper"


Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images via ABCNicki Minaj is the greatest female rapper of all time, if you ask her.

“I am the greatest female rapper, and it’s humbling because the people make you that,”  Nicki explained during a recent interview for Elliott Wilson's CRWN Internet inteview series. “I wanna let the hip-hop culture know I take this serious.”

She adds that she brings something to the table that no other female rapper has. "The word of the day is skill," she says.

Her third studio album, The Pinkprint, was released Monday and is projected to become her third #1 on the Billboard album chart following her  previous projects, Pink Friday and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.

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Sam Smith the Only Artist to Sell a Million Albums in Both the US & UK This Year


Capitol RecordsChalk up another achievement for Sam Smith.  Britain's Official Charts Company reports that the Grammy-nominated singer is the only artist in the world to sell a million albums in both the U.K. and the U.S. in 2014.

Sam's debut In the Lonely Hour passed the one-million mark in the U.K. just this week, and that certification came just about a day after the album was certified platinum in the U.S.

In a statement, Sam tells the Official Charts Company, "To say I am ecstatic is a huge understatement. Thank you so much to every single person who has purchased my album.”  He also tweeted that he was "completely speechless" over the achievement.

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Nicki Minaj Becomes the Face of Roberto Cavalli


Dana Edelson/NBCNicki Minaj has landed a new endorsement. The rapper has become the new face of fashion designer Roberto Cavalli's spring/summer 2015 advertising campaign.

In tribal-inspired images shot photographer Francesco Carrozzini, Minaj exudes the "strong sensuality" that Cavalli was seeking for his campaign.

"I chose Nicki Minaj because she embodies the exuberant and modern femininity of the Cavalli woman. In recent years we have become accustomed to women castigated in clothes that hide their body shapes," Cavalli said in a statement. "With this campaign, I wanted to send a strong countertrend message. I wanted a sensual woman who is aware of her body -- who is not afraid to show her curves. Instead, she makes them her strength"

The rapper expressed her gratitude on Instagram. "I am so honored to be the face of the new #RobertoCavalliSS15 campaign. #NickiForCavalli," she wrote.

I am so honored to be the face of the new #RobertoCavalliSS15 campaign. #NickiForCavalli

Una foto publicada por Nicki Minaj (@nickiminaj) el

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