And the MTV Nominees Are...

Ah, the Music Video Awards ... the one time each year when MTV actually bothers to play videos.

MTV just released its list of 2007 nominees, and there are few surprises. Proving that what goes around comes around, Justin Timberlake and bootylicious Beyonce lead the VMA pack with seven nominations each. Also up for multiple nominations: Kanye West, Rihanna and rehabbing whiner, Amy Winehouse.

U2 and Green Day were nominated for Best Collaboration for "The Saints Are Coming," to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. And Linkin Park -- remember them? -- picked up three nominations for Best Group, Director and Editing.

Biggest shocker? A Best Video nod for French electro duo Justice -- does the TRL tween set even know who the hell they are? Parlez vous Francais?

U2 and Green Day Take Shot At Bush Administration

While Bono has received accolades from Republican (and Democrats, but that's expected) for his in depth knowledge of economics and world heath affairs, gained by first hand, on the ground experience as well as some obvious studying up on the issues. Politicians of all stripes are more than happy to get photo ops with a rock star, but it's easier for them when the rock star is informed to the level of St. Bono. And, there's no question that Bono's Bible approach to the poverty and AIDS issues made it easier to gain access to certain Republicans on Capitol Hill. Some say there is another reason Bono has been embraced by the White House and other national Republicans: his refusal to speak out on the Iraq war.

Indeed, Bono has had to address some behind the scenes sneers and snickering from the rock elite on his decision to stay silent on the issue. The singer has basically admitted to not talking about Iraq so he can continue to remain "non-partisan" in order to continue to lobby DC on behalf of "the world's poor." By any measure, he's been successful in the latter and for the most part, outside of a fund raising concert for Iraqi civilian refugees, has steered clear of the issue. He's had unprecedented access (for a rock star) to the President and gained quite a few fans in the White House. But, that cozy relationship may become a bit strained when the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue see the video for U2's and Green Day's new take on the Skids' "The Saints Are Coming", which is part of a fund raising effort for the Gulf Coast region still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

During the video, now circulating on YouTube, the bands overlay images of both concert footage and scenes from New Orleans with some CNN-style news tickers announcing a imaginary headline saying "US Iraq Troops Redeployed to New Orleans." The obvious faux news ticker is being seen by some as a slam at not only the Administration's response to Katrina, but to the war in Iraq. Is there a suggestion here that had more of the troops been home they could have been used to rescue Katrina victims much sooner than they were?

I don't think the message is quite that literal. My guess is that what the bands, via this video, are trying to say is that if we can spend billions in "rebuilding" Iraq, the U.S. could have found the money and resources to get those people out earlier and bulk up the rebuilding effort, which in places like the 9th Ward of New Orleans is amazingly still lacking. Either interpretation is certain to rankle Bush loyalists who no doubt would rather have these guys just shut up and sing. Of course, with the way things are going these days some issues kind of speak for themselves - so the politicos might be quite happy with changing to the subject from actual reality to the machinations of rock stars.

How Many "Best of" Records Can Artists Put Out?

U2 and Aerosmith are two of my favorite bands. I've grown up listening to both and have some memorable concert experiences with both. So, I rarely say anything negative about either. But, with both of these bands coming out with yet another "Best of" compilation, I can't help to think how many times can you go to this well?

Aerosmith put out their first greatest hits record in 1980. Yes, I know some of you were quite young or not even born then. That was a good record. The band came back with another compilation called "Big Ones" in 1988, and to their credit didn't repeat tracks from the first collection. But, they've done it two more times since and have issued two box sets on top of that. If that's not enough, next month we'll see yet another one. This one is titled "Devil's Got a New Disguise: The Very Best Of Aerosmith." Since, this "The Very Best," not simply "The Best," we may have to cut them some slack. And, there will be two new songs on the release. The devil may have a new disguise, but Aerosmith (or their various labels) needs a new trick. This one's getting old.

The guys from U2 are also repeat offenders, granted, not as bad as Aerosmith. U2 did two tasteful "best ofs" in 1998 and 2002, with each set covering a different time period in band history. In 2004, they put out a "digital" box set called "The Complete U2" via iTunes, which although digital, was largely repetitive of the previous offerings. And, just like Aerosmith, they are are dipping back into this well again. The Irish lads will release "U218 Singles" just in time for Christmas. The good news is that it will reportedly contain two new tracks, including their collaboration with Green Day titled, "The Saints Are Coming." The bad news is that if you're a die hard U2 fan you may have to buy songs you already have in order to get the new stuff.

Of course, these bands have had long illustrious careers, so maybe two "best of" sets would be palatable. But, multiple is pushing it. Somehow, I suspect we'll see at least one more from each before all is said and done. I have no doubt these are more "label creations" than that of the bands. Over all, I'm a fan of the "Best Of" compilation concept. It allows you to basically get a pre-made mix tape on your favorite artist. Particularly, if it is done at the end of an artists' career as a retrospective. Of course, the real fun of mix tapes are making them yourself. So, maybe the best thing to do is skip all these pre-mades and hit up your favorite digital store and make your own mix. Maybe that would get record execs to layoff the overkill. Probably not, but at least you'll have control over what songs you're buying.

U2's Irish Tower

Bono and the boys are finally getting the ivory tower they deserve.

The Irish rock band is teaming up with Dublin, Ireland's Docklands Development Authority to create the U2 Tower. The 450 foot twisting tower will be the tallest structure in the city. The majority of the tower will consist of two-bedroom apartments expected to fetch upwards of $3 million each depending on the view.

But its the reason for the namesake of the tower that makes it special. At the top of the twisting building will be a penthouse and recording studio for the band. With their own special elevator from the ground floor to their studio, the band will be able to record while looking out over the sea and city.

The tower will bring new meaning to the band's hit song "Vertigo."

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U2's New Tune and Coffee Table Book?

U2 has never been a band to rest on their laurels. In addition to spending lots of time with über-producer Rick Rubin working on their next record, the band has been busy with some other side projects. The most unexpected of which is their very own coffee table book. While it probably won't be as funny as Kramer's coffee table book about coffee tables from Seinfeld, the Edge at least thinks it'll be informative - even beyond learning he had a really big head during what he tells Time Magazine was his "awkward phase." The book will contain old photos and anecdotes from the band's evolution from local punk wannabees to international superstars.

In addition to promoting their book, the lads will play at the Superdome next Monday night to celebrate the New Orleans' return to the Superdome for their first game since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. Teaming up with their pals in Green Day, they've redone a classic punk song from the Scottish band the Skids and beyond playing it live, will release it as a fund raising single for the Music Rising charity that aims to help out Gulf area musicians. I can't wait to see this collaboration! And, more importantly, there's much work to be done down in that area and helping revive the cultural contributions the area musicians make will go along way to lifting the spirits of those still rebuilding. Both the exclusive Music Rising charity track and select exclusive footage from the performance will be available for a limited time via Rhapsody music.

Bono Praises U2 Fans in Argentina

Band set to play sold-out show in Buenos Aires

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


(Mar. 2) -- Bono has met with President Nestor Kirchner, saying he admired U2's fervent fans and was glad that Argentina is as passionate about music as it is about soccer.

The U2 frontman, wearing a cowboy hat and wraparound sunglasses, posed with Kirchner at the pink Government House in downtown Buenos Aires on Wednesday. Hours later, the band was to perform the first of two sold-out concerts before 50,000 fans at the River Plate soccer stadium.

Buenos Aires is the latest stop on U2's Vertigo 2006 tour.

"Muchas gracias!" Bono said in the televised appearance. "I am very humbled to be received in such fine and grand circumstances. ... Wherever we go, our band is just being serenaded and the people are waving."

Last Sunday, Bono received Chile's highest award for the arts, and earlier, during a stop in Brazil, he discussed the government's anti-poverty program with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bono Among Nobel Peace Prize Nominees

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


OSLO, Norway - Rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof were nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with Indonesia's president, a former U.S. secretary of state and a Finnish peacemaker.

That was the easy part.

Making the Norwegian award committee's deeply secret shortlist, already whittled down from the 191 nominees, is another matter, the nonvoting secretary said Friday.

"It's easy to get nominated, but very hard to win," Geir Lundestad told The Associated Press in releasing the number he compiled and checked after the Feb. 1 deadline for mailing proposals.

He said the committee has started pruning the original field of 168 individuals and 23 organizations. That is the second highest number of nominations ever, behind last year's 199.

"It does indicate strong interest," Lundestad said, expressing delight that nominations came in from across the globe, including countries submitting entries for the first time.

The 2005 award went to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its leader Mohamed ElBaradei for their efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons. The tightlipped committee keeps the names of candidates secret for 50 years. However, thousands of people have nomination rights, and some announce their choice.

This year, known nominees include former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for helping to secure a peace deal in the Aceh conflict. Both were seen as frontrunners in early speculation.

"The president is very honored and humbled by this nomination," said Yudhoyono's spokesman Dino Pati Djalal. "As a general, politician and president he has always tried to promote peace, democracy and reform.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was nominated for his effort to end Sudan's civil war. Geldof, former leader of the Irish punk group the Boomtown Rats, was nominated for organizing last year's Live 8 benefit concerts, while another Irish singer, U2 frontman Bono, was proposed for his fight against world poverty.

"They are the typical kind of high-profile, celebrity nomination," Nobel watcher Dan Smith, former head of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said by telephone from London.

Smith said the committee was more likely to use Nobel prestige to propel some lesser-known person into the world spotlight.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations , John Bolton, and longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman were nominated by a politician from Sweden's Liberal Party. The American Friends Service Committee proposed Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jew, and Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian Christian from the occupied Palestinian territories.

Other announced contenders include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Indian scholar Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Israeli nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu. Austria's SOS Children's Villages, former Illinois governor and death penalty opponent George Ryan, and Indian anti-child labor campaigner Kailash Satyarthi have also been nominated.

Likely, but not confirmed, nominations include the movement Thousand Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2006, American entertainer Oprah Winfrey, dissident Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do from Vietnam, Chinese Muslim activist Rebiya Kadeer, Russian human rights activist Lida Yusupova, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Save the Children, Oxfam and the Salvation Army are also believed to be on the original list.

The awards committee, which is appointed by but does not answer to Norway's parliament, met for the first time this year on Feb. 17. They usually add their own nominations then to make sure no big names are left out. After that meeting, there is no way to get on the list.

At least once, a favored candidate was left out because he was not nominated in time: former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Carter won the award later, in 2002.

Lundestad has said the list quickly gets reduced to a few names, which staff then study in depth. After four or five meetings, a winner is picked by consensus, and announced in mid-October.

The committee works in deep secret, is fiercely independent, and determined to resist lobbying for or against candidates.

Given the number of people with nomination rights — including Nobel laureates, committee members, politicians and university professors — Lundestad said it is surprising that there are so few groundless proposals.

"There are largely good nominations," he said, adding that being nominated does not imply any support or endorsement from the committee itself.

The award is always presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The other Nobel Prizes are presented in Stockholm, Sweden.

Bono to Donate Guitar for Hunger Campaign

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


Bono will donate one of his guitars to benefit Brazil's Zero Hunger campaign, the government's official news agency said Monday.

The guitar will be auctioned off after U2's concerts this week in Sao Paulo's Morumbi soccer stadium, according to Agencia Brasil.

The Zero Hunger campaign's goal is to ensure all Brazilians have three meals a day by the end of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's presidential term Dec. 31.

The rock star-activist met with Silva at the Granja do Torto presidential resort to talk about the government's efforts to reduce hunger and develop renewable energy sources.

Lenny Kravitz donated one of his guitars to the Zero Hunger program last year, bringing in about $132,000 at auction.

U2 Upstages Mariah With Five Grammys

By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP MUSIC WRITER


The Grammys finally showed Mariah Carey a little love - with an emphasis on "little."

Though Carey, 2005's biggest pop success, had a leading eight nominations and the chance to make history with the most Grammys won by a woman in a single night, she went home with just three trophies Wednesday. She lost in all of the major categories she was nominated for, including record, song and album of the year.

Instead, U2 got the glory, as the perennial favorites captured five Grammy awards for "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb," including album of the year.

"We have to go through certain things in order to appreciate life and learn lessons," Carey told the TV show "Extra." Asked how she was doing, Carey replied, "I'm just in a really good, comfortable, happy place."

It was the second time U2 had won for best album since 1987, when it won for "The Joshua Tree." It was their 20th Grammy and the eighth for the album, which was released in late 2004 and also won three last year.

Grammy Showdowns

Bring out the boxing gloves.

Bitter feuds and rivalries among some artists could make for some uncomfortable moments at the 48th annual Grammy Awards as battling stars attend the same ceremony.

Grammy Awards executive producer Ken Ehrlich tells TMZ that anyone looking to start trouble on the show should be warned they could ruin their chances of being invited back. "We've had opportunities on the Grammys to have controversial moments and I don't do it, because I don't want the lead story the next day to be about [the controversy] and not who won awards."

Here's a look at some of the rivalries and feuds that could make the Grammys a showdown to watch:

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Smooth Ticket Sales for Second U2 Concert in Brazil

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


Some 70,000 tickets for a U2 concert in Brazil sold out smoothly in about 7 hours, organizers said Monday, avoiding a repeat of chaos last month when nearly 100,000 fans overwhelmed stores and computer systems.

A first show by the Irish rockers sold out on Jan. 16, but organizers were forced to regroup after the 12 stores selling tickets experienced computer problems and were overwhelmed by massive crowds. Police had to be called in to restore order when some infuriated fans threatened to break into the stores.

The supermarket chain that owns the stores issued a public apology following the mayhem, which kept some frustrated fans waiting in lines for more than 12 hours.

Concert promoters set up a telephone call center to handle sales for the second show, and organizers said in a statement that it handled nearly 900,000 calls on Sunday from fans seeking tickets.

U2 is scheduled to play at Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium on Feb. 20 and 21, just two days after the Rolling Stones stage a free concert at Rio de Janeiro's famed Copacabana beach. Nearly 1 million people are expected to attend.

The bands haven't performed in Brazil since the late 1990's.

Bono Announces New Brand to Fund AIDS Programs in Africa

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


U2 frontman Bono unveiled a new push to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa, announcing a partnership with several companies Thursday to sell products under a brand called "Red," with the proceeds going toward anti-AIDS programs.

Bono said the money would go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"So, here we are, fat cats in the snow, and I say that as one," he said to laughs. "It is a great place to do business and we have some business we want to talk to you about."

"Red" includes red-theme products from American Express, Converse, Gap and Giorgio Armani.

The venture will include an American Express card, shoes, T-shirts and sunglasses and is meant to be a long-term fund-raiser for the group, fund executive director Richard Feachem said.

"'Red' will bring a rising income stream ... (and) increased awareness of HIV in Africa and the role of the Global Fund to finance programs to treat it," Feachem said. "Income from 'Red' will flow to support Global Fund programs in Africa against HIV Aids, especially programs that help women and children."

Gates', Bono Top Time's List

Time Magazine named U2's Bono, and Bill and Melinda Gates as the 2005 "Persons of the Year."

The three were chosen for their individual efforts to eradicate disease and poverty in Africa. The Gates Foundation funds projects that focus on public health -- vaccinations, and development of new drugs -- as well as educational projects in the U.S. and around the world.

Bono, who's met with everyone from the Pope to Senator Jesse Helms this year, is well-known for his participation in raising global awareness through concerts like this year's Live 8, which he spearheaded with musicion Bob Geldof. Two things make Bono, "Bono": his outspokenness on global poverty and his signature sunglasses.

According to Forbes, Bill Gates' net worth is around $46.5 billion dollars. As a whole, U2's net worth is estimated to be around $700 million. So it's safe to say it takes money to be generous, but the world is certainly a better place because of it.

Time also named former presidential rivals, Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., as "Partners of the Year" for their humanitarian efforst after the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

It's amazing how friendships can develop when there are no special prosecutors in the room.

Time's "Persons of the Year" issue is out on newsstands today.