Stop The Presses!

Dec. 7-13: Surprise Confessions & Rehabilitation

Stop The Presses!

The University of Oxford's debating society took on one of its hottest topics this week-Shakira. The "Hips Don't Lie" singer visited England's prestigious academic institution Monday to offer a talk on education.

While the university has hosted the likes of Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa, and the Dalia Lama in the past, Shakira's highly anticipated appearance had eager students lined up in the rain like an early morning Black Friday sale at Best Buy.

The 32-year-old UNICEF ambassador stressed that higher learning should not be taken for granted. "I was born in Colombia, growing up in the developing world where education is perceived as a luxury and not as a birthright," she said.

The international star, who donned a disguise in 2007 while secretly taking a UCLA class on western civilization, works to make schooling a reality for less fortunate kids in her native country. She has a charity that builds schools for children in need. The success of her music career has played a key role in this endeavor.

"I think those two paths have been so parallel in my life," she said. "My career gives me an enormous opportunity to communicate issues that I believe strongly should be communicated."

Shakira's humanitarianism was definitely one of the reasons why she was invited to speak, but an Oxford Union spokesman added, not surprisingly, that "she's an immensely popular singer with a large fan base among Oxford students."

Shakira's Oxford speech was hardly the only shocking news this week. The UK boasts another coup as Scottish singer Susan Boyle had the top selling US album for the second consecutive week.

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The shy "Britain's Got Talent" singer with the amazingly beautiful voice, had been pegged as an unlikely pop star due to her plain Jane image. But Miss Boyle has disproved the notion, with first week sales that left in the dust new releases from more traditional pop starlets Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna.

Boyle's "I Dreamed A Dream" broke a number of records. It sold 701,000 its first week on sale, and 527,000 copies during its second week, making it the first album to sell more than 500,000 copies during each of its first two weeks since 50 Cent's "The Massacre" in March 2005.

50 Cent has been paying attention to Boyle's buzz, so much so that he recently talked Susan Boyle to the UK's Daily Monitor. "Susan Boyle is hot right now," 50 said. "I got to get her on a track, for real. We'd make a hit. Everyone is talking about her, the lady from 'Britain's Got Talent.'"

50 believes that the classical singer could make a hot dance record. "She's got an amazing voice, and together we'd get everyone dancing," 50 said. "I'm always looking to do something new and she's cool, so I'll ask somebody to let her know."

50 is anxious to take her out clubbing. At press time there was no word whether he had Boyle in mind while penning his song "Baby By Me." Boyle, by the way, has been looking much sexier since her makeover.

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R. Kelly, who appears on 50 Cent's "Before I Self Destruct," offered an alarming announcement this week. After years of silence or ambiguity when the subject of his child pornography charges were raised, the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer said he would discuss the lurid scandal in a forthcoming memoir.

The untitled book due in 2011 on Tavis Smiley's SmileyBooks will also detail his childhood and loss of his mother. "I'm writing this book as Robert, not R. Kelly," the singer said in a statement. "I'm tired of being misunderstood. I will show you the tears, fears, and sweat. I will open my heart and reveal the good in my life as well as all the drama. I want to tell it like it is."

Despite R. Kelly's acquittal and denial of an appearance in a related sex tape, some still continued the singer guilty. Smiley argues that Kelly should have an opportunity to discuss the ordeal.

"Everybody has a right to tell his or her own story in their own words," Smiley said. "My assessment is people should reserve judgment until they have a chance to read the story."

Maybe the writing experience will be therapeutic for Kelly and will yield closure?

Drummer Travis Barker must be feeling a bit of relief himself. On Tuesday, an attorney announced that the artist settled a lawsuit over last year's fatal South Carolina plane crash that left Barker and friend DJ AM the only two survivors, AP reports.

DJ AM died of an accidental drug overdose nearly a year after the crash.

In November 2008, Barker sued Learjet, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the plane's owners and contractors, complaining that companies failed to properly operate and maintain the plane that caught on fire. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Last Sunday, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo was involved in a tour bus accident in upstate New York, and was hospitalized after cracking three ribs, Reuters reports.

The incident has prompted the cancellation of Weezer's December Raditude Tour dates. Fortunately, Cuomo's wife and 2 year-old daughter, who were also on board, were not hurt.

Billy Joel is dealing with his own family tragedy. He and his former wife Christie Brinkley released a statement Tuesday addressing a recent scare with their daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, who overdosed on sleeping pills, the New York Post reported.

Joel and Brinkley acknowledged Alexa's "dangerous actions" and credited it to a "devastating heartbreak." They denied the New York Post reports that the 23-year-old sought to end her life following a feud with her mother.

Alexa is recovering and with family, her publicist told AP.

Well, that's plenty of surprises and rehabilitation for one week. Be sure to check back next week for the best of music news headlines.

THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES

 

1) One Day At A Time - Travis Barker settles lawsuit over DJ Am plane crash.

2) Second Round Knockout - Susan Boyle tops charts for second consecutive week.

3) Hot For Teacher — Shakira talks up education to students at Oxford.

4) Out Of The Closet - R. Kelly to address controversy in new book.

5) The Show Must Not Go On - Weezer cancels December concerts after crash.

6) You Got A Right To Fight - Bruce Springsteen backs gay marriage in NJ.

7) Support Our Troops - Toby Keith stands by war before Nobel performance.

8) Reigns Supreme - 'N Sync's 'No Strings' decade's most popular album.

9) Family Matters - Billy Joel: Daughter had 'devastating heartbreak'.

10) Get Susan Or Die Trying - 50 Cent wants to record duet with Susan Boyle (huh???).

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