There was a lot of killer concert comeback news this week--Britney Spears's return to the stage in five years, the announcement of Michael Jackson's first shows in eight years, new tourdates for the reunited No Doubt and Spinal Tap--plus some interesting retail news from the Target and Virgin Megastore chains.
This week, Chris Brown was charged with two felonies stemming from his now-infamous Grammy-weekend altercation with his on/off/on girlfriend, Rihanna. According to an affidavit by L.A. police detective De Shon Andrews read in court Thursday afternoon, Chris and Rihanna got into a fight February 8 in Chris's car, after she read a text message from another woman on his cell phone. The affidavit claimed Chris pulled over and tried to push Rihanna out of his vehicle, then resumed driving while punching her and even biting her on the ear. The affidavit also alleged that Chris later threatened to kill Rihanna, advising her to have the police waiting at her house.
So this week, Chris was arraigned on charges of assault likely to cause great bodily injury and making criminal threats. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to four years and eight months in prison. As of this writing he remains free on $50,000 bail, and he and Rihanna are still a couple after controversially reuniting last weekend at Diddy's Miami mansion.
Rumors have since run rampant in the tabloids that the two have secretly tied the knot, after Chris reportedly proposed to Rihanna at Diddy's Florida compound while begging for her forgiveness. Such gossip remains totally unfounded. But if it's true, Rihanna's attorney's recent announcement--that, if subpoenaed by prosecutors, Rihanna will testify AGAINST Chris in criminal court--does not bode well for this rumored marriage.
Anyway, this week online message boards were inundated with angry opinions regarding Rihanna's decision to stand by the man who allegedly abused her, but Rihanna's father, Ronald Fenty, stood by his child. This week he told Us Weekly: "I love my daughter with whatever road she takes. I'm behind her, win or lose. I will be supportive. If that's the road she wants to choose, I'm behind her. I hope to see her soon. I talked to her after her birthday, and she told me she's OK."
But one R&B star to whom the young Chris Brown has often been compared, Usher, wasn't as nice when he initially commented on the Chrianna situation. Earlier this week, in a viral video posted by producer Jermaine Dupri, Usher blasted Chris for being photographed smiling and jet-skiing in Miami. "I'm a little disappointed in this photo," he said. "After the other photo [of Rihanna's bruised face]? C'mon, Chris. Have a little bit of remorse, man." But a few days later, Usher backpedalled from such cutting remarks, pulling the critical video off YouTube and claiming "the comments made during a recent recording session amongst friends were taken out of context and blown out of proportion. I apologize on behalf of myself and my friends if anyone was offended. The intentions were not to pass judgment and we meant no harm. I respect and wish the best for all parties involved."
Moving on...another R&B star who's obviously inspired Chris Brown's recordings, and whose "Wanna Be Startin' Something" was sampled in Rihanna's own "Don't Stop The Music," made headlines this week. We're talking about Michael Jackson, of course. The normally reclusive singer announced at a press conference Thursday, to a crowd of screaming fans and 300 journalists who'd been waiting for him at London's O2 Arena for almost two hours, that he will play a series of concerts--his first since 2001--at the O2 in July. Describing the run of 10 shows as his "final curtain call" before retirement, Michael stated: "This is it. And when I say this is it, I mean this is it." However, a spokesperson for promoter AEG Live told the BBC that the shows might be part of a bigger, final world tour, so the Thriller may not be gone just yet--especially since the famously financially troubled Michael stands to pocket up to $400 million from such a concert venture. Let's just hope these London shows go better than the last time Jacko attempted to perform in London, at the 2006 World Music Awards, when he angered fans by merely whimpering a few lines of "We Are The World" before leaving the stage and letting none other than Chris Brown take over.
Meanwhile, Britney Spears, who's scheduled to play eight nights at the O2 Arena in June, continued her own comeback this week by kicking off her first full concert tour in five years in her home state of Louisiana. Performing in a sexy ringmaster outfit surrounded by jugglers and acrobats, Britney made it through the first night of her Circus Tour at the New Orleans Arena with none of the difficulties of her notorious and disastrous 2007 MTV Video Music Awards performance--although she did appear to be lip-synching at times, according to eyewitnesses. But she was lip-synching much better than she did at the 2007 VMAs, so we'll call it a comeback nonetheless!
Recent O2 Arena resident Prince (he played a whopping 21 nights there in 2007) also launched his umpteenth comeback this week. Once again a free agent without a major record label deal to tie him down, His Purple Majesty announced this week that he will sell his upcoming triple-disc album set exclusively at Target, for the recession-friendly price of $11.98. The three-CD bundle will include two new Prince albums, titled MPLSOUND and Lotusflow3r, plus the debut disc by his latest protégé, Bria Valente.
And it's a good thing that the Prince collection will be on sale at Target, since one place it won't be available is the Virgin Megastore. Yes, sadly this week it was announced that the remaining six Virgin Megastore locations in the U.S. will shutter their doors by June, and more than 1,000 Megastore employees will be laid off. Following the closure of all longstanding Tower Records franchises in 2006, this latest news marks another major blow for the struggling music retail business.
Perhaps that's why another comeback artist this week, the recently reunited No Doubt, just decided to get creative with the marketing of their music: Fans who buy premium tickets online for No Doubt's summer 2009 reunion tour will receive a download of the alt/ska/pop group's entire back catalog, plus one new tune, a cover of Adam & The Ants' 1981 classic "Stand And Deliver" (which No Doubt are set to soon perform on Gossip Girl). Tickets go on sale this weekend for the tour, which begins in Atlantic City on May 2 and runs until August.
That's very exciting news and all (particularly the part about the Adam Ant homage), but perhaps the most awesomely cranked-to-11 reunion tour news of the week comes from mockumentary metal band Spinal Tap (aka comedic-genius actors Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer), who announced plans for their own 30-city Unwigged And Unplugged Tour this spring/summer.
True, as can be inferred from the tour's title, the actors formerly known as David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnell, and Derek Smalls will be leaving their haystack hairdos and Marshall stacks at home for this trek--"When we were doing the Tap show, it was 90 minutes to 120 minutes of really, really hard work and running up and down the rafters, and we had big special effects, and we played electric instruments, and we had wigs, and we got very sweaty," McKean/St. Hubbins explained to the Associated Press. But the tour is still sure to provide some heavy duty entertainment. And by going unplugged, Spinal Tap won't have to worry about finding yet another ill-fated replacement drummer!
And on that happy, Tappy note, thus concludes another week in music news. Come back next Friday for more headlines (hopefully about something other than Chrianna), and until then, goodnight and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Chrianna Crisis Continues - Chris Brown is charged with two felonies.
2) Michael Jackson To Beat It - He announces his last "This Is It" concerts before retirement.
3) The Circus Finally Comes To Town - Britney Spears launches her first tour in five years.
4) Prince's Target Practice - His new three-album collection will be sold exclusively at Target stores.
5) Coldplay's Bad Play - Chris Martin is torn over giving his best song to Natalie Imbruglia.
6) Where The Streets Have A Name - A New York boulevard is named after U2.
7) Tonight They're Gonna Rock You Tonight, Again - Spinal Tap return to the road.
8) No Doubt Stand And Deliver - Gwen Stefani and company's new Adam Ant cover, plus their entire catalog, will be given away to premium ticket buyers.
9) No More Virgin Territory - All U.S. Virgin Megastores are set to close by June.
10) NOT Better Living Through Chemistry, After All - Fatboy Slim enters rehab.