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The Last Word: Alicia Can’t Beat God, Bobby Brown Twangs, Shakira Ca$hes Out, and Rihanna Turns Back Time

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What’s good weekenders? The spirit of the end of the week is alive and well amidst Barack Obama receiving two times the support from members of the Kennedy family, Rudy Giuliani dropping out of Presidential race and backing John McCain after losing the Florida Republican primary, John Edwards joining Giuliani as he makes way for history to be made in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a new study that shows that regular exercise slows down the aging process.Congratulations go out to Gwen Stefani who is reportedly pregnant with her second child. Shout out to Heroes star Hayden Panettiere for continuing to crusade to save the whales during a visit to Washington, D.C., Mike Carey, who will make history Sunday as the first Black referee at a Super Bowl and the sounding boards, who will be making sure I have enough wings and chips to fill me up while I watch the big game. So let the games begin…the Last Word for the week ending Feb. 1, 2008. 1. Rihanna Reunites the Time; Emerges as Sexiest Female Musician Mixing the old school with the new is nothing new in music. And the people behind the 50th annual Grammy Awards are contributing to the cause, as they make the half century mark for the music industry’s biggest night by reuniting revered Minneapolis-based funk group The Time with none other than Def Jam’s chart topping diva Rihanna.  The singer and the Morris Day fronted collective will hit when the event airs live on Feb. 10. Look for Jerome to bring a new mirror for Morris to check himself out in.  As for Rihanna, she can put another notch to put on her belt of accomplishments by earning a spot on Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour and making Victoria’s Secret’s 2008 What is Sexy? list. The vocalist was named as the sexiest female musician, while Chris Brown made the cut as the sexiest male musician on the list,which was compiled by the lingerie company’s executives and designers.  Among the factors that influenced the group’s selections were “passion and humor and style and charisma,” Victoria’s Secret spokeswoman Monica Mitro told The Associated Press. I can see Rihanna qualifying on that front. Nothing like a passionate, humourous female with some style. So what do you think? Are Chris Brown and Rihanna the sexiest musician’s out now, or was someone severely overlooked? 2. Gnarls Barkley Prepares for Sophomore Invasion Gnarls Barkley fans won’t have much longer to wait as word is coming in that the duo is almost done with its forthcoming sophomore release, The Odd Couple.  According to Billboard.com, there is no track listing for the album. However, one song that made the album is a psychedelic soul tune that features Gnarls member Cee-Lo asking “Who’s gonna save my soul now?” Music fans can get a sneak preview of what to expect on The Odd Couple with “Run,” a song that leaked online Monday (Jan. 28) night. As for his philosophy behind following up the group’s successful debut, Cee-Lo expressed a bit of concern about not falling “out of grace with whatever I’ve done to deserve this to pass through me” as he offered these words of wisdom. “Music is a natural mystic,” Cee-Lo said. “This is not something that we contrived. It’s truly something that we just can’t explain, you know what I mean? So why try to explain it at all? It just is.” A natural mystic, ha? That’s cool, although I always thought of music as being more of a hard liquor depending on the genre. Not every tune goes down smooth and easy, you know. There is such a thing a hangover.  Look for The Odd Couple to hit stores in April.  3. The Power of Gospel Overwhelms Alicia Keys Alicia Keys may sit pretty on the Billboard charts with her latest album As I Am and popular singles “No One” and “Like You’ll Never See Me Again,” but the songstress is getting a bit of competition for radio time from gospel singer Marvin Sapp.  EURWeb.com reports that Sapp’s hit “Never Would’ve Made It,” is receiving more spins than songs from artists such as Keys on Los Angeles-based radio station KJLH. As a result, the inspirational tune is the number one song on the station as well as the longest number one song in the history of the NielsenBDS Gospel Chart.  The distinction makes “Never Would’ve Made It,” which has held the number one spot on Gospel radio for six consecutive months, the only Gospel song in the country that is number one at a mainstream station.  The track is the first single from Sapp’s third CD, Thirsty, which debuted at number one and currently sits at number two album on Billboard’s Gospel chart.  Let the chuuuch say Amen.  4. Michael Jackson Planning Thriller of a Comeback Without Paul McCartney As the world awaits the 25th anniversary edition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, fans of the King of Pop will detect a missing element in one of the album’s most well-known songs.  The New York Post reports that Jackson’s hit collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney, “The Girl Is Mine,” will be completely re-recorded without any trace of the former Beatle’s vocals. Other than that, the album should be fine as it includes remixes of Thriller classics such as “Beat It” with Fergie, the Akon-assisted “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” and “The Girl is Mine,” both of which will feature vocals from rapper/producer will.i.am. The hype surrounding the album could officially get underway on Sunday (Feb. 3) as plans call for a Thriller-themed SoBe Life Water ad to invade TVs during the Super Bowl. The ad, which has been “confirmed” to air by a marketing director for Jackson’s former recording home Sony, is part of what’s been described as a major TV, radio, online and outdoor advertising campaign that will kick off the week of Feb. 8.  And if you still need more Mike, you can take advantage of the ringtones that have been created for every song off the original Thriller album as well as all the remixes and previously unreleased tracks that will be on the new album.  Look for Tito’s brother to also make it to this year’s Grammy Awards as plans are being made for Jackson to appear at the 50th annual event with Fergie, will.i.am and Akon, And let’s not forget next month’s BET Honors program, which will include a tribute to the singer.  While it’s good to see that Michael will be out and about these events, it should be noted that he will not perform. (WTF?!) Come on, Michael. If you’re gonna come back…come back strong and give us another classic performance. For old times sake, give us something (besides the legal cases and strange behavior) to talk about. Remember the time? 5. Bobby Brown Creates the New Twang Swing  A few Words back it was mentioned that Bobby Brown was trading his New Jack Swing R&B in for a shot a country music stardom on the new CMT reality show Gone Country.  As for why the singer would cross genres, the motivation may be more personal than you think. “My dad was a big country-music fan, but I felt it was something I could conquer,” Brown told MTV. “I’ve been through R&B and rap, television, movies. It just brings it all together, country music.”  You can witness Brown’s reinvention first hand on the show as he competes with six other celebrities, including former Dru Hill member Sisqo, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, Julio Iglesias Jr. and Brady Bunch actress Maureen McCormick, to be the next big Country superstar.  To further solidify his country cred, the singer has already labeled his new sound as “Bobby Brown-ish with a little twang to it,” and is planning to release an R&B/country album titled The Masterpiece by the middle of the year. But don’t worry. Bobby hasn’t forgotten those who’ve withstood his prerogative over the years. A traditional R&B album is on the way as well as plans to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of his classic Don’t Be Cruel album and the 25th anniversary of his former group New Edition’s debut release. In fact, fans can look forward to seeing all six members of New Edition on a tour which is tentatively slated to kick off this summer.  Considering Bobby’s rep, we’ll keep hope alive that the tour doesn’t turn into an NE Heartbreak On the Range. Stay tuned. 6. Ruben Studdard Talks 100 Pound Weight Loss and New Album He may be without a recording home, but Ruben Studdard is continuing to stay in the public eye as he works on a series of new endeavors. “I’ve been out here making on a new album,” the former American Idol champ revealed to Entertainment Tonight. “The last songs I recorded. I just got through recording in Denmark and the songs came out wonderful. I’m really happy about one song in particular. It’s called “Footprints in the Sand.” I think it’s gonna be a big song. ” While fans wait on Studdard’s musical return, they can catch him on the small screen when he appears on American Idol Rewind and on stage for the 30th anniversary tour of the musical Ain’t Misbehavin.’  To prepare, Studdard is focusing on getting himself physically ready to meet the demands of his theatrical run.  “I am working out now. I am getting prepared. I’m about to start with a vocal coach” the entertainer said. “I’ve started jogging last week. Actually, I’m really just trying to build up my endurance because we’re doing about eight shows a week. I have lost almost 100 pounds. Last year, well a year and a half ago I weight about 450 and now I’m down to like 365. I started eating better and working out. I still have a long way to go. I need to really get geared back up again.” The news of Studdard’s upward swing comes amid the crooner’s new lawsuit against a concert promoter for breach of contract. According to the suit, which was filed Monday (Jan. 28) in New York Supreme Court, he is seeking $45.000 from Peachez, Inc., a Dallas-based company.  Let’s hope Ruben comes out the winner in this. Otherwise, he may have to churn out an updated version of his hit “Sorry” with those other famous courtroom occupiers Akon, R. Kelly and Foxy Brown. Here’s to a fair and speedy resolution. 7. Shakira is a Bigger Cash Queen than Beyonce, Gwen and Mariah Beauty, sexy dance moves and hit albums. What more could you ask for in successful female singer? Apparently, Shakira has all of that and a little cash to boot as she cracks the top five on Forbes’ first ever Cash Queens of Music list of the top-earning women in music.  The Colombian songbird, who entertained fans during 98 stops on tour, ranked fourth on the list with $38 million, earned between June 2006 and June 2007. Right behind her was Beyonce, whose endorsement contracts with various sponsors such as L’Oreal and American Express helped her grab the number five spot with $27 million.  Other top earners included Gwen Stefani at number six with $26 million, Christina Aguilera at number seven with $20 million and Mariah Carey, who rounded out the top 10 with $13 million. Nelly Furtado snagged the number 16 spot with $7 million while Fergie at number 17 and Jennifer Lopez at number 18 took in $6 million each. With $5.5 million Norah Jones closed out the list at number 20.  So who was the biggest money maker on the Forbes list? That honor goes to Madonna. The 49-year-old Material Girl netted $72 million from touring, income from record sales, and business dealings with H&M, NBC and concert promoter Live Nation.

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