Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley lead ACM Awards nominations

Miranda Lambert topped the field as nominations for the Academy of Country Music Awards were announced Friday.

Lambert received eight nods including entertainer of the year, and Dierks Bentley was close on her boot heels with seven nominations. Party-minded country duo Florida Georgia Line was  next with five nominations for the awards scheduled to be handed out April 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas -- a shift from the ceremony's usual site in Las Vegas to celebrate this year’s 50th-anniversary event.

In the running for the ACM’s top award of entertainer of the year with Lambert and Florida Georgia Line were Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Garth Brooks, the latter having returned to touring for the first time in 17 years now that his daughters have gone off to college.

Lambert, nominated for the entertainer honor for the fourth time, also received her ninth consecutive female vocalist nomination, a category in which she’s vying with Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride and relative...

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Justin Bieber and Kanye West: How their charm offensives differ

Last summer, inundated with what felt like knee-jerk mea culpas from Jack White, One Direction and Pharrell Williams (among many others), I called for a moratorium on celebrity apologies, which seemed to have reached a critical mass of meaninglessness.

Justin Bieber clearly didn’t hear me.

Ostensibly booked as a birthday surprise for Ellen DeGeneres, the pop star appeared Thursday on DeGeneres’ talk show to say he’s sorry – sort of -- for the varied antics that have threatened to derail his career over the last 18 months or so.

“I’ve done some things that might not have been the greatest,” he said before adding that he’s ready to “kind of own up to some of the things.” Bieber elaborated in a video he posted on Facebook, saying he’s not who he was “pretending” to be.

“I’m a person who genuinely cares,” he went on, “and although what’s happened in the past has happened, I just want to make the best impression on people and be kind and loving and gentle and soft.”

Bieber wasn’t the only...

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Remembering Rod McKuen, the accidental hipster

I was with an acquaintance -- a music expert who, like me, is in his early 40s -- when I heard Rod McKuen had passed away at 81. "The cheesy easy-listening music guy?" he asked.

His assessment is not exactly incorrect. It is undeniable that McKuen's many albums of the 1960s and '70s are now seen as cheesy artifacts of a bygone era, dusty LPs with sentimental covers found in the packed bins of seemingly every Goodwill across America (go ahead, try not to find a copy of 1967's "The Sea" or 1974's "Alone" at your nearest thrift store).

And the same goes for his volumes of best-selling poetry -- or "doggerel," in the words of several highbrow critics who were tasked with reviewing them when they came out and sold thousands of copies. Like fellow singer Jewel's astonishingly popular 1999 book "A Night Without Armor," the lyrical work of McKuen can be regularly snapped up for 50 cents a piece in garage sales across the land.

For some people of my generation, however, there are other, less...

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Rod McKuen, prolific songwriter and poet, dies at 81

Rod McKuen, a prolific songwriter and poet whose compositions include the Academy Award-nominated song “Jean” for the 1969 film “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” has died. He was 81.

McKuen had recently been hospitalized and died Thursday at a Beverly Hills rehabilitation center of respiratory arrest after suffering from pneumonia, according to his friend and producer Jim Pierson.

Among McKuen’s commercial successes in the 1960s and '70s were his reworking of Jacques Brel’s song "Le Moribond" for the English-language version of “Seasons in the Sun,” later covered by the Kingston Trio and Terry Jacks. Frank Sinatra recorded an album of McKuen songs in 1969 called “A Man Alone,” which included “Love’s Been Good to Me.”

Besides his score for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” McKuen’s music for the animated feature “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” was also nominated for an Oscar.

McKuen was born in Oakland in 1933 and wrote later of an unhappy childhood and the abuse he endured at the hands of...

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Lil Wayne hits Cash Money with $51-million lawsuit

Lil Wayne’s beef with his longtime label Cash Money has become litigious, with the rapper filing a lawsuit to the tune of $51 million.

After TMZ broke the news on Thursday, the 21-page suit surfaced detailing his business dealings with Cash Money, setting up his own Young Money imprint (Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga) and amendments to his long-term deal along with advances the label owes to him.

The suit alleges that Cash Money head Bryan “Birdman” Williams (whom Wayne has long referred to as his surrogate father) and the label have withheld substantial payments to Wayne for his serially delayed album, “Tha Carter V.”

For “Tha Carter V,” Wayne says he is owed $10 million, per a 2012 contract extension that would see Cash Money giving him a $10-million advance per solo album -- $8 million to be paid at the start of recording and then $2 million being paid upon delivery, according to the lawsuit.

A number of other grievances are outlined in the suit, which was filed in Manhattan Federal Court...

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Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley bar fight

Geezer Butler, the longtime Black Sabbath bassist, allegedly has a knack for bashing listeners offstage as well.

The 65-year-old Terence Michael Butler was arrested Tuesday on charges of misdemeanor assault, intoxication and vandalism at the Corkscrew Saloon in Death Valley National Park.

According to BBC reports, Inyo County police said that an argument at the bar involving Butler quickly escalated into a physical confrontation. Police arrived shortly after midnight and reported a broken window and one person struck during the altercation.

Butler was arrested and released after what police described as "detox and citation." He gave a Beverly Hills location as his address, and later took to Twitter to express remorse.

"Thx for your messages

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