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Royal Philharmonic Elvis CD brings fresh takes to classics

"The Wonder of You," recorded at the Beatles' old Abbey Road Studios, offers one more chance to enjoy Presley's voice in a different context, deliciously backed by a world-class orchestra geared toward the nuances of his delivery. It's a new twist on a very familiar, and treasured, body of work.

This one is a tried and true concept, basically a variation on last year's quite successful posthumous pairing of Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but the fact that it's been done once before doesn't diminish the pleasure.

There are few surprises, but it's a reminder of Presley's range and vocal dexterity. The opening rocker, "A Big Hunk O' Love," sounds totally fresh in an orchestral mode. Fans of Elvis's gospel approach will thrill to his masterful "Amazing Grace."

The orchestral style suits Elvis well: Taken out of the rock 'n' roll context, there is no need for his swagger or his snarl. The orchestra is restrained and understated, allowing Presley's vocals alone to carry the day, even if they do fall short on "Memories" and a few others.

The orchestral format also gives rise to "live" concerts with Elvis singing on screen while the Royal Philharmonic performs. A series of six British shows in major arenas this fall is expected to draw thousands of the faithful — the number doesn't seem to be dwindling, even 39 years after his death, in a country where he never performed.

But two "Royal Philharmonic" CDs may be enough. What some fans crave — Elvis singing alone, with only his guitar as accompaniment — may not exist in any vaults, and may be impossible to create even in this age of computer-driven magic.

Let's do the time warp again! Rocky Horror remake rocks

Let's do the time warp again!

More than 40 years after one of the great cult films of all time introduced an unsuspecting public to sweet transvestites, a mad scientist making an erotic Frankenstein creature, and a highly repressed yet oversexed Brad and Janet, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is back, this time as a TV remake Thursday on Fox.

It still bristles with all the weirdness and gender-bending that made the 1975 film a great excuse to party, then dress up in character and go to a midnight showing where you not only watched the show, you threw rice at the screen, sprayed water on fellow theatergoers, and shouted lines back and forth to the actors.

The show launched Tim Curry to stardom as Dr. Frank N. Furter, the "sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania." Curry is back — but this time as the narrator.

His signature role this time out is played by Laverne Cox of "Orange Is The New Black," herself a transgender performer. She approaches the role a (tiny) bit more subdued than did Curry; the sight (or the very idea) of a horny transgender scientist was a lot more jarring 40 years ago then it is now.

Adam Lambert, who some feel would have made an equally swell Frank N. Furter, instead plays Eddie, the biker Elvis-wannabe first played by a then virtually unknown Meat Loaf. "Hot Patootie" is a high point here, as is "Time Warp," which still provides as good an excuse to dance around stupidly as it did when Gerald Ford was president.

Bottom line: The re-done songs rock, the characters are memorable, and Rocky Horror is still good, dirty fun.

Cher talks Donald Trump, emojis and 'American Horror Story'

Cher is not finished.

The iconic singer-actress is returning to the stage next year for a series of performances on both sides of the country because, well, she can't imagine not working, not even at 70. Despite bidding fans farewell in past tours, Cher is not prepared to say her final goodbye.

"Someday, I will be finished," she said during a recent interview to promote her forthcoming "Classic Cher" residency tour. "That's really what I've said to myself: 'Someday, you won't be able to do this, but you're able to right now.' It's like my mom misses driving. My mom loved driving. She can't do it anymore."

For now, Cher says she's still capable of staging an extravaganza — and that's what she intends to do at a pair of new high-tech venues: the Park Theater at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas and The Theater at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

The pop legend's residency, which launches Feb. 8 in Las Vegas, will feature both revival performances and new takes on classic songs. Here, during a wide-ranging conversation, the unabashedly honest artist tackled an array of topics:


On why her new show is called "Classic Cher": "Oh, it's just some bull(expletive) word. It's because I'm going to try and distill my career and let everybody remember and see who I was, what I did and try not to disappoint people, like I hate it if I go to a concert and they don't do the songs I want to hear."


On whether she would perform with a Sonny Bono hologram: "No, a hologram doesn't work for an arena because it doesn't bend, so we do a big screen and angle it because it's mostly him singing. We found all these videos where he's facing me and I can sing facing him. It works out really well."


On reviving one of her favorite past performances: "There's a song that I love that was a hit called 'After All.' One time, when I was in Vegas, I did it in this amazing boat. It came out of the mist. ... It made the song seem so much more mysterious and poignant and whatever, but few people saw it, so I'm going to bring that back and the costume I wore because the costume is beautiful."


On emojis, which she frequently uses on Twitter: "For me, they are imperative. Emojis are like hieroglyphs. They really are hieroglyphs. You can use them to create emotion. You can use them to punctuate something. You can use them instead of words. I don't understand punctuation at all because I'm so dyslexic."


On Snapchat: "I find it fascinating, but I don't have time to do everything. I have to have time to do other things. I can't devote my life to it. Sometimes I go on too long (on Twitter) and think, 'This is so dumb. You're a grown-up.'"


On her son, Chaz Bono, playing a hillbilly cannibal on the latest season of "American Horror Story": "There's more to come. The more he does, the better he's going to be, but I think it's great. I mean, come on. That's your first thing, and it's 'American Horror Story.' It doesn't get better that that."


On the presidential election: "I can't even bring myself to watch the debates. That's how emotionally involved I am."


On the most important political issue: "If the Republicans get the Supreme Court, we can say goodbye to all the strides we've made that are important, just for civil liberties. When you see the people he's surrounded himself with up to now, one can only imagine who he'd pick to lead the country. He doesn't want to do it. He wants to be the king, but he doesn't want to do the work."


On Donald Trump's comments on Howard Stern's show: "If someone said that my daughter was a hot piece of (expletive), I would put my fist through his (expletive) face."




Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at .

Review: Chrissie Hynde revives Pretenders on soulful 'Alone'

Chrissie Hynde reverts to her Pretenders moniker on "Alone," a soulful production helmed by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and starring her tough-as-nails vulnerability.

Hynde's wonderful voice, one of rock's best, can weaken knees even by reading a phone book. While the album sports all kinds of modern-retro sounds, her vocals propel the fast ones and elevate the ballads with her usual empathy and authority.

Opening with the declarative title track, which has a piano riff with shades of Allen Toussaint's "Fortune Teller," Hynde immediately clears the room — "I'm at my best, I'm where I belong, alone." That could bear bad tidings for what is supposed to be the band's first effort since the dynamic "Break Up the Concrete" in 2008, but she doesn't sound at all isolated.

Instead she gets feistily involved in fellow Akron, Ohio, native Auerbach's quirky production, which echoes a long list of rock and R&B idols, from Doug Sahm's Tex-Mex organ to T. Rex and even Duane "Twangy Guitar" Eddy himself on "Never Be Together."

"Roadie Man" is another moaning complaint by the long-suffering wife from "Watching the Clothes" and first single "Holy Commotion" has some jungle drums and whirling sounds of steel pans. "Chord Lord" is probably closest to Pretenders from 30-odd years ago, while "I Hate Myself" would suit Lou Reed or a certain controversial Nobel Prize winner.

There may not be towering classics on "Alone," but it's a rewarding listen if you accept — and you'll feel better if you do — that these are not your parents' Pretenders or even those from a few years ago. But, oh, that Hynde vibrato!

Trump's 'nasty woman' comment boosts 1986 Janet Jackson hit

Donald Trump's labeling of Hillary Clinton as "such a nasty woman" during the final presidential debate has given a boost to Janet Jackson's 1986 hit, "Nasty."

Spotify says streams of "Nasty" are up 250 percent, though the company wouldn't release specific numbers. Some Twitter users are having fun with the comment Trump made Wednesday night.

Some Twitter users are having fun with the comment. One video being shared features Jackson's video for the song with Clinton's face crudely pasted over top of the singer's. It references the song's lyrics with the note, "It's Hillary. Madame President If You're Nasty."

So far, Jackson hasn't weighed in on the 30-year-old song's sudden injection into the presidential race.

Bruno Mars is pop's ultimate party boy with hit '24K Magic'

While the world was busy dancing to Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" at the top of 2015, the singer was partying in the studio and creating his latest groovy hit.

The Grammy-winning star said in an interview with The Associated Press he wrote "24K Magic" around the time "Uptown Funk" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart last year. "24K Magic" debuted at No. 5 on the Hot 100 chart this week.

The new party anthem was launched with a music video to match its celebratory flavor. So far, it's racked up more than 46 million views on YouTube.

"You want to kick the door down instead of politely say, 'Hey guys, check this out.' So I think that was the whole objective — to make sure the visual came with the song so people can know, 'When we wrote this, this is what we felt like,'" Mars said. "When I'm performing, this is what I want you to feel like. Hopefully everyone's partying with us."

Mars performed the song, his 13th Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart, on "Saturday Night Live" last weekend. The tune comes after the massive success of "Uptown Funk" with Mark Ronson, which recently hit RIAA diamond status and won two Grammy Awards this year, including record of the year.

"24K Magic" is the first single — or invitation to the party as Mars puts it — for his third album of the same name, to be released Nov. 18. Two days later, he'll open the 2016 American Music Awards with a live performance.

The singer-songwriter-producer says when he first came up with the treatment for the video, which features his signature dance moves, playful band and colorful fashion, he overthought it.

"For weeks and weeks and weeks, I wanna say a year, I was thinking about what the video's going to be ... how are we going to distance it from the other videos I've done and do something special. And every time I came up with a concept it wasn't what the song (was about). The song sounds like a party. So it was like, 'Don't try to go against the grain,'" said Mars, who co-directed the clip.

When the pop star was in Las Vegas, a light bulb turned on.

"I was like, 'This is what we got to do. Fly the guys down. Turn the camera on.'"



Costello cancels Pittsburgh show in solidarity with strike

Elvis Costello is canceling his upcoming show in Pittsburgh in solidarity with striking Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians.

In a statement, he says his Nov. 1 show at the Heinz Hall cannot go on because he is unwilling to cross the picket line.

He asks his fans for their understanding and to "support live music wherever it is heard."

The orchestra has canceled all concerts through Nov. 18, after the musicians went on strike Sept. 30.

The musicians are objecting to a 15 percent pay cut and other concessions management says are necessary to keep the symphony solvent in the face of more than $20 million in debt over the next five years.

Radiohead to headline 2017 Glastonbury Festival

Alternative rock group Radiohead will play one of the headline slots at next year's Glastonbury Festival.

Glastonbury organizer Emily Eavis confirmed Thursday on Instagram that "Radiohead will be back at Worthy Farm" — the festival site in southwest England.

The band's spokesman says Radiohead will play the main Pyramid Stage on the festival's opening night, Friday June 23.

Rumors had been circulating since Wednesday, when the bear's head logo of the band appeared in a crop circle at the Glastonbury site.

Radiohead previously played Glastonbury — Britain's leading summer music festival — in 1997 and 2003. The band released its ninth studio album, "A Moon Shaped Pool," this year.

Guitarist Ed O'Brien recently told BBC radio that Glastonbury was "the mother of all festivals" and Radiohead's "spiritual home."

Rockers Kings of Leon find a challenge on new record

For the family band Kings of Leon, one of the biggest factors in making decisions about their career is what will make their wives and children happy. So the large Followill clan, which includes three brothers, a cousin, four spouses and four children, was excited to record their seventh studio album earlier this year in Los Angeles.

"It was wintertime here," lead singer Caleb Followill said of their home in Nashville, Tennessee. "And we knew our families were going to be away from us for long days, so we wanted to take them where the sun was shining."

Their wives also have input on which cities the band will use as central hubs on their next tour, said drummer Nathan Followill.

"All of our kids are the same age or within six months of each other, which makes it really easy for us to all go together and then they have a built-in buddy system," Nathan Followill said.

After breaking out early on with albums like "Only By the Night," and "Because of the Times," the band struggled with success and excess, which led to public fights and cancelled shows in 2011. But five years later, they are relaxed and settled as fathers and husbands.

"WALLS," released Oct. 14, finds the band with a new producer, Markus Dravs, who has earned Grammys for his work with Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire and Coldplay. The title song is an acronym, Caleb Followill, said for "We are like love songs." Love, not animosity, seems to be the prevailing theme for the Kings of Leon on this record.

The band talked about the album with The Associated Press ahead of their first show in Nashville performing the album in its entirety. Answers have been edited for brevity.


Associated Press: What's it like playing the new music in front of hometown crowd?

Caleb Followill: Oh it's going to be awkward. We're going to play new songs that don't get the reaction that we're used to.

Matthew Followill: And then we're going to mess up on those songs.

Jared Followill: And then we're going to get mad and storm off after the sixth song.


AP: What does the album title mean?

Caleb Followill: We are kind of opening ourselves up to who we are truly are. And the walls coming down means something to us too. But I feel like throughout our career, we have written songs that have a lot of heart. And to me those are like love songs. On this album, more so than any other, there is some real stuff being said.


AP: What was it like working with Markus this time?

Jared Followill: Obviously we had seen that he had done a lot of really great things, things that we liked. We had confidence in that aspect of his work, that he was going to make the songs sound exactly how he wanted them to. But just talking to him, we knew that he was a hard, hard worker and had a lot of work ethic and it brings it out in you.

Nathan Followill: And he got pneumonia the second week and had to go into the hospital. So that kind of got us started off on the wrong foot.

Caleb Followill: He lost a lot of weight. He looked great.

Matthew Followill: Like hollow eyes, so rock n' roll.


AP: Was he a tough producer?

Caleb Followill: We wanted to be doing something different and not feeling like we were surrounded by people who were hip to what we do. And so I feel like, I don't even think he's heard our music before this album because he didn't seem like he had. So that was a good thing, I felt like we had someone that was just kind of coming in with fresh ears.

Jared Followill: We did more takes on this album than probably than any other album. Not because of mess-ups or anything like that. Strictly for tempos. Literally, it was so precise and the beats per minute had to be a certain way. Like oh my God, we had it perfect. And then you would do it again, and do it again. And then we would change a verse and re-record it and shorten the bridge and record.

Caleb Followill: Then he would come in and would be like, 'Write a new verse,' and I was like, 'Ah!'




Follow Kristin M. Hall at

APNewsBreak: Jay Z, Madonna nominated for Songwriters Hall

Jay Z, one of contemporary music's most celebrated lyricists and entertainers, is one of the nominees for the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame, and if inducted he would become the first rapper to enter the prestigious music organization.

Jay Z is the first rapper to be nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The Songwriters Hall gave The Associated Press the list of nominees Thursday, a day ahead of its official announcement. Other nominees that could be inducted next year are George Michael, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Vince Gill, Babyface, Max Martin, Kool & the Gang and more.

Eligible members can vote for three non-performing songwriters and two performing songwriters until Dec. 16. Five songwriters, or songwriting groups, will be officially inducted at a gala in New York on June 15, 2017.

Other performing nominees include Cat Stevens, Sly Stone, Chicago, Gloria Estefan, Jeff Lynne and David Gates. Non-performing nominees are Kenny Nolan, Randy Goodrum, Tony Macaulay, William "Mickey" Stevenson, Allee Willis, Maury Yeston, Paul Overstreet and the songwriting duos Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, and Steve Barri and the late P.F. Sloan, who died last year.

Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years. Jay Z, who released his debut album, "Reasonable Doubt," in 1996, has launched multiple hits in the last two decades, from "Big Pimpin'" to "Empire State of Mind."



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