» It's Hard To Judge: What type of judge does Keith Urban plan to be when he joins American Idol? The "mean" role has been vacant for years and even though "bloody awful" would sound great with an Australian accent, don't count on Urban to dole out harsh, unconstructive criticism. He tells the Associated Press that he plans to be "authentic" but not cruel. "I did similar shows when I was very young in Australia," he recalls, "and I was sort of crucified by one judge. So I don't know that I'll ever be that guy." Auditions are underway for the 12th season, which begins airing in January 2013 on FOX-TV.
» For The Wind: Don't blow your chance to see Carrie Underwood on her 55-city Blown Away Tour, which opened Sunday in Manchester, NH. Our industry insider was there and says, "Carrie's always been great, but now she's in a league of her own. It was more than a show, it was an experience." Not only were their multiple wardrobe changes and an appearance from a hologramBrad Paisley, Underwood's 23-song set including Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" and a duet with opener Hunter Hayes (who recently scored his first No. 1 with "Wanted"). Upcoming stops include Worcester, MA (9/19), Reading, PA (9/20), Louisville (9/22) and Nashville (9/23).
» Musical Chairs: Rest easy, country fans. Two judges are being replaced on the next season of The Voice, and neither of them has the initials "Blake Shelton." Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green will take season four off, and will be replaced by Usher and Shakira. The biggest concern for Blake may be how to come up with ways to tease the newbies ... or wondering if he ought to have a cool one-word name, too. (We're thinking "Blelton.") Anyone worried the red chair changes will hurt the show's chemistry need only be patient. The Voice executive producer Mark Burnett says, "Our coaches have their chairs for life." Which means someday, Xtina and CeeLo will be back for a big happy homecoming.
» Fun Raising Efforts: All that fun fans had at CMA Music Festival and other CMA events can make them feel even better after the CMA Foundation donated $20,000 to a Bronx elementary school for music education. All-in, proceeds from CMA events have resulted in more than $6.1 million in donations to public school music programs. "It does so much to enable the future of kids who might not have a hands-on experience otherwise," says Dierks Bentley, who shared news of the recent gift with New York fourth-graders. "They've made such a huge dent in Nashville, so it was really cool to help expand their mission." More here.
» Never Ever Not Nominated: Even Europeans agree ... Taylor Swift is one of the most popular musical artists on the planet. That is, if you count five nominations for the 2012 MTV European Music Awards, second only to Rihanna's six. The frontrunners face up against each other in the categories of Best Female, Best Pop, and Best Look. The ceremony will take place in Frankfurt, Germany and airs in the U.S. on MTV2 at 11 p.m. ET Nov. 11. Full list of nominees and voting here.
Stokes Nielson (The Lost Trailers) (9/18) Trisha Yearwood (9/19) Jeff Bates (9/19) Faith Hill (9/21)
Tuesday (9/18): Easton Corbin, Good Morning America (ABC).
Wednesday (9/19): Josh Turner, Today (NBC); Big & Rich, Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC).
Friday (9/21): Josh Turner, Fox & Friends (FOX News); Martina McBride, From Dust To Dreams: Opening Night at The Smith Center For The Performing Arts (PBS)
Saturday (9/22): Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town, Kimberly’s Simply Southern (GAC)
In Stores Tuesday (9/18)
Big & RichHillbilly Jedi
Fours years after their last release, the dynamic duo serves a 15-track collection led by the single “That’s Why I Pray.” Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora receive co-write credits on two tracks, and Bon Jovi reportedly placed a personal call to George Lucas to secure permission for the album’s name.
Easton CorbinAll Over The Road
The follow-up to Corbin’s 2010 self-titled debut features 11 tracks including the lead single “Lovin’ You Is Fun.” “All Over The Road is a fun title,” Corbin says, “but it’s actually what we’re doing out there. We’re all over the road trying to get music out to everybody.” Corbin co-wrote “A Thing For You” and “This Feels A Lot Like Love.”
Dwight Yoakam3 Pears
Yoakam’s first album in seven years includes the Beck-co-produced songs “A Heart Like Mine” and “Missing Heart,” which were recorded at the rocker’s home studio in California. Yoakam produced and wrote the album.
» That'll Move The Chains: University of Tennessee alum Kenny Chesney and team mascot Smokey join the ESPN College Game Day crew to discuss the SEC rivalry between his Volunteers and the University of Florida Gators prior to Saturday's game (9/15). Pictured (l-r) are Chesney, Chris Fowler, Smokey, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstriet. Florida won 37-20.
» Life Is A Sidewalk:Rascal Flatts are hands-down stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a ceremony honoring them Monday (9/17). Pictured (l-r) are Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney.