Your Frighteningly In-Depth Guide To Insane Clown Posse's Upcoming Record The Mighty Death Pop!, Featuring Kreayshawn, Ice Cube, Color Me Badd, and a Christina Aguilera Cover

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photo by Nate "Igor" Smith
Clown-fingers crossed "Ghetto Rainbows" is a sequel to "Miracles."

On August 14, Insane Clown Posse will deliver their 12th studio album, The Mighty Death Pop! The last time Detroit's finest punching bags released a full-length original album, September 2009's Bang! Pow! Boom!, they gave the world "Miracles," an unintentionally hilarious viral-video ode to giraffes, "fucking rainbows," and the magic of natural phenomena that brought the wicked harlequins a flood of renewed mainstream attention/derision. Throughout the ultimately favorable 18 months that followed -- as Insane Clown Posse went from mean-spirited meme to unlikely Jack White collaborator to Kitchen-sponsored performance-art indulgence -- the facepainted white-rap scrubs haven't had a new traditional product to sell. So the Saturday Night Live ribbing, the George Lopez cameo, the recent Tosh.0 appearance has mostly been a result of ICP's evergreen existence, bolstered by those unbelievably unbelievable YouTube clips and the band's annual tradition of staging the Gathering of the Juggalos -- a primal, affordable, independent, and somewhat hazardous music festival that atrocity-minded tourists could easily infiltrate.

So what to make of the fact that Insane Clown Posse will finally have a new product on shelves of your local Best Buy? One with guest appearances by Color Me Badd, Ice Cube, and Kreayshawn, plus covers of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" and Tears for Fears' "Shout"? One with tracks entitled "Juggalo Juice" and "Scrubstutite Teachers"?

Let's not answer that now. Let us instead examine The Mighty Death Pop!'s contents.

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Radio Hits One: Bruce Springsteen And Mick Jagger Stop Making Pop Hits, Start Inspiring Them

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It's been a busy year for Bruce Springsteen. In March, he released Wrecking Ball, his seventeenth studio album and tenth release to top the Billboard 200, and after packing in arenas across America throughout the spring, he took the E Street Band to Europe. His name is also in a top-40 entry on the Hot 100 for the first time in over a decade—but the funny thing is, the song's not his. Eric Church's "Springsteen" sits on the chart this week at No. 19, which was coincidentally also the peak position for Bruce's last pop hit, the Jerry Maguire-spawned ballad "Secret Garden," in 1997.

"Springsteen," a wistful midtempo number with lyrical nods to The Boss's classics "I'm On Fire" and "Born To Run," is North Carolina country star Eric Church's biggest Hot 100 hit to date. It also peaked at No. 3 on the Country Songs chart and is the third single from his third album, Chief, which topped the Billboard 200 last summer. It's a quiet, subtle song, and something of an unlikely crossover hit, aside from the fact that it pays tribute to such a famous singer. This isn't the first time a top 40 hit has been named for Springsteen, though—Rick Springfield got to No. 27 with "Bruce," a playful track about how irked he was when confused with a bigger star with a similar last name.

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The 11 Most Infuriating Songs Of 2011, No. 7: Maroon 5 Featuring Christina Aguilera, "Moves Like Jagger"

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The Song: Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera, "Moves Like Jagger"
The Crimes: Profligate whistling, misplaced sass, wholly unsexy instruction to "take [Levine] by the tongue."

Earlier this year, both Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera were coming off what might be called "soft landings"—the lite-funk outfit's 2010 album Hands All Over received a tepid reception from the marketplace, while the pint-sized belter was coming off punishing reactions to both her overstuffed robo-pop collection Bionic and the "so bad, it can't even be so bad that it's good" pile of camp Burlesque. Then NBC stepped in and hired them both as coaches on their translation of the Dutch talent show The Voice, and what do you know? Being on TV made Americans realize that they still existed, and had even been putting out music in recent months that wasn't as terrible as some doubters wanted to claim. The only way to properly react to this development was, of course, a cash-in single.


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100 & Single: A Dozen Contenders For Billboard's Year-End Top 10, And Their Fight Against The "Last Christmas Effect"

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Later this week, Billboard is expected to announce its tallies for the biggest hits of 2011. And what a year for music it's been. Remember all those big hits: "Like a G6," "We R Who We R," "Raise Your Glass," "Fuck You!" and "What's My Name?"

What's that—you say the songs I just rattled off are kinda old? Like, 2010-old? You're absolutely right. But don't be surprised if these vintage hits feature prominently among the biggest Hot 100 hits of 2011.

Billboard's "chart year" runs from December 1 through November 30. Blame old-fashioned dead-tree production schedules—they do this so they can announce the year-end victors before the holidays arrive and run the lists in a big, collectible magazine the size of small phone book. (Makes a great stocking stuffer. Seriously!)

The upshot of this skewed calendar: Take a good look at what's topping the Hot 100 right now. Hits like Rihanna's "We Found Love" (No. 1), LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" (No. 2), or Bruno Mars's fast-rising "It Will Rain" are going to feature conspicuously among the top Billboard hits... of 2012, next December. On the 2011 list, they won't be very prominent at all.

Even with its abundance of aging tracks, the 2011 list will still be worth poring over when Billboard drops it in a few days. Unlike the year-end album chart—which is based on straight Soundscan sales totals, and whose victor is already a foregone conclusion—the formula of digital sales, radio airplay and online streaming that determines the weekly Hot 100 means year-end predictions require a lot more guesstimating. Which is more fun, anyway.

Let's run down, in alphabetical order, a baker's dozen of hits that are likely to figure prominently on Billboard's Top Hot 100 Songs of 2011. These are tracks likely to make the final Top 10 or at least the Top 20.

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Live-Blogging The 2011 American Music Awards: We Could Have Had It All (But Then Adele Had To Go Have A Vocal Cord Hemorrhage)

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via ABC
Justin Bieber at last year's American Music Awards.
Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 2011 American Music Awards, the annual salute to the most popular popular music that exists in the American wild this year. While Lady Gaga and Adele and BeyoncĂ© are absent, this year's show apparently has one performance that will cost $500,000 to pull off, as well as a David Guetta/Nicki Minaj outing that is heavy—heavy in the weight sense, not in the "societal import" sense because c'mon we're talking about King Of Eurogloss David Guetta here—and appearances by Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Katy (sigh) Perry, Kelly Clarkson, and other notables from the Hot 100. Come join us for the next three hours, won't you?

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100 & Single: The Increase In Hot 100 Rebounders, And The iTunes-Radio Tug Of War

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The first week I remember ever hearing American Top 40 with Casey Kasem on the radio, back in the summer of 1981, the No. 1 spot was a real cliffhanger.

As Kasem explained, the week before, Kim Carnes's synth-pop smash "Bette Davis Eyes" had ceded the top spot after about a month, to a song by a Dutch novelty act calling itself the Stars on 45. Their goofy hit was a lite-disco clap track riding over a medley of rerecorded pop tunes (70% by the Beatles, an easy way to score a smash if ever there was one). In the year of Jane Fonda and aerobics-mania, the Stars on 45 were a momentary worldwide obsession.

Emphasis on "momentary": After a one-week pause, Carnes rebounded to the No. 1 spot, a happy ending to my first exposure to Billboard's iconic Hot 100. (The charts are fun when you've got a rooting interest.)

What I couldn't have known in 1981 was how rare, relatively, a song returning to the top spot was. Prior to Carnes's hit, only 28 songs out of the more than 500 Hot 100 chart-toppers since 1958 had rebounded to the top.

It's not all that rare anymore. In fact, the song sitting atop the Hot 100 right now, in its third week there, is a rebounder: Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger," featuring Christina Aguilera. In 2011 alone, it's the fourth song to move back to No. 1 after falling out.

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Radio Hits One: Reality TV Propels Aging Stars Back Into The Top 40

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When I heard that Jennifer Lopez was leveraging her new position as an American Idol judge to launch her new single, premiering the video for "On The Floor" on one episode and performing the song on another, I rolled my eyes at what I thought was her hubris. It'd been less than two years since Lopez's long-flagging music career had seemed to finally come to a screeching halt; her single "Louboutins" flopped, and Sony opted to drop Lopez rather than release her seventh album. Using Idol as a platform to relaunch herself into pop stardom seemed doomed and desperate.

Or so I thought.


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The Voice Feels The Pressure Before Its Big Finish

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via Rickey

Already, The Voice is just about over. Tomorrow, the field of four contestants gets wiped away and we get a winner. This show could've kept going for another three months or so if it followed a less fucked-up elimination schedule, but maybe NBC didn't realize they had an actual hit on their hands. This two-hour show was a weird one, with all the contestants teaming with their coaches for duets and also singing original songs—and original songs on televised singing competitions are never good. Structurally, the show remains a mess, and I hope some of the problems will be fixed next season. But all four remaining contestants are people who I could imagine having careers in music, and that's not something I can say about any single season of American Idol. The people behind The Voice did a pretty amazing job picking talent, if nothing else.


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The Voice: All Of A Sudden, There Are Only Four Contestants Left

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via Rickey
One thing about The Voice that bugs me: Way too many people getting sent home way too quickly. It's hard to develop that much of a connection to the contestants when half of them get axed once a week. So on this results show, people were, once again, just dropping like flies. Would it kill this show to stretch things out a little longer? It's not like NBC has shit else going on.

Another thing that bugs me: How do people get sent home again? The results came from some combination of coaches' scores and audience votes, but Carson Daly didn't exactly do a bang-up job explaining how it would work, or which was weighted more. At this point, it's been firmly established that the coaches love everyone, so why not leave it up to audience votes entirely? Is that such an awful idea?

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The Voice: The Dominance Of Javier, The Rise Of Vicci

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via Rickey
Vicci Martinez performs "Dog Days Are Over."
I wish Game of Thrones was still on. It isn't. But hey, The Voice is still on!

On last week's show, it seemed pretty obvious which four singers would make it through and which ones wouldn't. On Team Cee Lo, for instance, it was absolutely not a surprise that Vicci Martinez would be the one voted through. The only surprise came when Vicci stood up next to the other members of her team and revealed herself to be tiny. She's Peter Dinklage height; if she'd gone home, she would've had to travel to King's Landing to become the new Hand. Probably even Cee Lo is taller. It also wasn't surprising to hear Cee Lo go into phantasmagoric funkateer detail about how much he loves each and every one of the singers on his team, though it was pretty fun. And then, when he picked friend-of-a-friend Nakia as the one guy to stick around, I'd already called it exactly. So, you know, I'm awesome. Good choices, everyone.

(Quick Nakia update: Marc Hogan, my friend and his former showgoing buddy, reports that Nakia does, in fact, have a last name, though I've already forgotten it. The shows, Marc confirms, were probably John Mayer shows, though Nakia was probably going because he was friends with the opening band or some shit.)

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