For The Record: Quick News On Christina Aguilera, Aretha Franklin, Britney Spears, N.E.R.D., Breeders, Coldplay & More

Is Christina Aguilera following Britney’s lead and heading to the altar? Rumors have been spreading that X-tina is getting hitched to her boyfriend, Jordan Bratman, after she started sporting some diamond bling on her engagement-ring finger, but both Bratman and the singer’s representatives say that the rumors are false, and they’re not engaged. …

Aretha Franklin remains hospitalized at Detroit’s Sinai-Grace Hospital following a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics, The Associated Press reports, but the illness is not expected to have any lasting effects. “I am resting comfortably and responding very well,” the singer said in a statement. She felt ill after returning from a tour on Saturday and was subsequently found to have a reduced platelet count. … Now that she’s recovered from her knee injury, Britney Spears resumed her Onyx Hotel Tour Tuesday in Atlanta. Her postponed dates have been rescheduled, with the missed Chicago date now taking place April 13, and her scrapped Detroit show set for April 14. All tickets for the original dates will be honored for the new shows, according to her record label. Meanwhile, the full-length black gown Spears wears for her Showtime live concert promos is being auctioned off on eBay. The Roberto Cavalli dress auction closes on March 30, two days after the concert, with all proceeds benefiting the Britney Spears Foundation. …

On Monday, MTV News mistakenly reported here that Outkast, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and Fefe Dobson would perform at the “TRL” Awards on April 13. While those artists will in fact appear on the show, no announcement has been made yet regarding performances. We regret the error. … After a couple of memorable appearances in New York last week, Courtney Love called Howard Stern‘s radio show Monday and Wednesday to rant about charges against her, the coverage it elicited, and how she’s dealing with the stress of it all, which is to say, not very well. On Wednesday, Love wept about Michelle Malkin‘s syndicated op-ed piece that ran in hundreds of newspapers that day, accusing her of being out of control and closing with the comment, “Poor little Frances counts the days until she officially becomes an orphan.” Love sobbed on Stern, “I want to retire, I want to go to France … get my kid and go.” After she regained a bit of composure, she added, “I don’t care what they say about me, as long as they don’t talk about the kid.” …

N.E.R.D. celebrated the release of their second album, Fly or Die, with a warehouse party in Brooklyn, New York, Tuesday night. The band performed an hour-long set at midnight on the back of a flatbed truck across from a half-pipe full of skateboarding fans. The crowd consisted mostly of local hipsters who were all given free tickets the day before the show. Backstage, Pharrell Williams confirmed that he and Neptunes production partner Chad Hugo have been producing tracks under a new name, though he wouldn’t divulge exactly what it was. Meanwhile, the tandem’s label, Star Trak, officially moves to its new home, Interscope Records, next week. … Just three weeks before the Pixies kick off their reunion tour in Minneapolis, bassist Kim Deal will head out with her other band, the Breeders, for a jaunt of her own. Beginning Wednesday (March 24) in Fairfax, California, Deal and crew will play seven dates in the Bay Area and Southern California, ending with an April 1 show at Los Angeles’ Spaceland. … Meanwhile, the Pixies have been tapped to headline the Bumbershoot Festival on September 6 in Seattle. …

If your dream is to sing next to a legend, you have a shot this week. Patti LaBelle is holding auditions for backup singers Thursday through Saturday for her upcoming world tour. Tryouts start promptly at 11 a.m. each day at Indre Studios in Philadelphia. … Dame Dash just signed junior middleweight boxing champion Ronald “Winky” Wright to an endorsement deal with Roc-A-Wear’s State Property clothing line. You may remember Winky wore the State Property logo on his trunks recently when he defeated “Sugar” Shane Mosley. …

Chuck D isn’t impressed with Kanye West‘s success. The Public Enemy frontman wrote on his Web site that he was wondering how “somebody gets top-notch producer credits for speeding up old records.” He also questioned Kanye’s rapping abilities, saying, “I think his lyrics are decent but 85 [percent] of cats rhymin’ have the same voice with little difference in cadence. That’s like the NBA having 200 six-foot point guards.” … Kurupt has set a June 29 release date for his latest album, Death Row Presents Kurupt – Against the Grain. The release is the first collection of original material from Death Row Records (apparently back to the moniker after a stint as Tha Row) in eight years. …

Rancid‘s Tim Armstrong co-wrote the lead single, “What I Want,” from Autopilot Off‘s major-label debut, Make a Sound. The album is due April 13. … Dokken will release their new studio album, Hell to Pay, on May 18. The disc is the follow-up to 2002′s Long Way Home.

Sting will tour with Annie Lennox starting June 27 in Camden, New Jersey. The 42-date trek runs through October 12 in Calgary, Alberta. … About a month before his first album in seven years, You Are the Quarry, drops, Morrissey will set up shop in Los Angeles for a five-night residency at the Wiltern Theatre, beginning April 22. The album’s first single, “Irish Blood, English Heart,” has just begun to surface at radio. … Early tracks by Coldplay, Bright Eyes, the Polyphonic Spree and Death Cab for Cutie are complied on Decade: Ten Years of Fierce Panda. The U.K. indie-label anthology is set for release April 20, almost 10 years to the day of the label’s inaugural release, the compilation EP Shagging in the Streets.

03.23.2004

“Pass the Courvoisier!” That’s what Outkast cronie and former P. Diddy parasol-holder, Farnsworth Bentley, will be demanding now. The dapper hip-hop dignitary has inked a deal with the cognac maker to become its pitchman. … P. Diddy is suing an interior designer, Jennifer Post, saying the celebrity decorator conned him out of at least $25,000. Diddy, who usually finds himself on the other end of lawsuits, says Post unfairly jacked up her contractor’s fee when she agreed to decorate the inside of his Tribeca home in New York. …

Prince has agreed to work with a major label for the first time since the mid-’90s. Columbia Records will release Prince’s latest release, Musicology, worldwide beginning April 20. The first single, also titled “Musicology,” will go to radio March 29. … A judge in Los Angeles refused to allow Velvet Revolver singer Scott Weiland to leave rehab to shoot a video for “Slither” on Tuesday, but she did allow him nine hours to do so on April 4, with certain provisions, a court spokesperson said. The judge also modified the singer’s sentence, changing his remaining 180 days in a residential care center to 30 days in a hardcore live-in facility, followed by 90 days in a sober-living program. While in the latter, Weiland will have more freedom to come and go. After that, he’ll undergo six months of after-care counseling and testing. If Weiland remains clean, he will be done with rehab in 10 months. … Meanwhile, Velvet Revolver’s debut album, Contraband, is now slated for a June 8 street date. …

The recording industry filed another 532 lawsuits against file-sharers Tuesday (March 23), 89 of which targeted people who used the networks of 21 different colleges and universities in 10 states and Washington, D.C. Like previous legal actions taken after a judge ruled in December that the RIAA could not force Internet service providers to reveal the identities of its customers without a judge’s order, the latest round of lawsuits are of the “John Doe” variety, meaning the action is taken against anonymous plaintiffs whose identities are revealed only after a judge decides they should be known. … After a lengthy investigation, The Village Voice has confirmed with NYPD officers the existence of an intelligence unit within the force that monitors the rap-music industry. The acknowledgement comes in the wake of a recent report that the Miami Police Department also tracks hip-hop impresarios when they visit the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, Miami Beach’s Black Host Committee, a local civic organization, has offered to educate police officers on the norms of hip-hop culture. …

A bomb threat that proved to be a farce forced Limp Bizkit to cancel a concert Monday in Poland. The call was received two hours before the band was to take the stage, and more than 4,500 people evacuated the Spodek Sports Hall in Katowice after being told that a bandmember was sick. The bomb threat was not mentioned so as to avoid causing panic. … Due to overwhelming public demand, most of the shows on the Darkness‘ U.S. tour have been moved to significantly larger venues. The band’s opening show in Milwaukee on March 26 has been moved from an 800-seat venue to a 3,500-seater, and quadruple-digit changes have been scheduled in four other markets: March 30 in Cleveland, April 8 in Atlanta, April 11 in Houston and April 16 in San Diego. Overall, 13 venues have been changed to accommodate bigger crowds. …

Ja Rule is being sued for $25,000 by Baltimore native Tony Veanie, who claims the violent images in the video for “I Cry,” part of which were shot in his neighborhood, left him feeling “threatened, shot and stabbed.” The video for the song, which is from Ja Rule’s 2000 album, Rule 3:36, depict the rapper avenging the murder of a friend. … Fountains of Wayne‘s Adam Schlesinger has been tapped to write songs for the theatrical adaptation of John Waters‘ 1990 film “Cry-Baby.” The play, which is expected to launch on Broadway in spring 2006, marks Schlesinger’s first foray into theater, after having penned tunes for TV (the theme to Comedy Central’s “Crank Yankers”) and movies (1996′s “That Thing You Do!”). …

Australian rabble-rousers Jet have assembled a seven-song album of demos and live tracks, but it won’t be sold at retail outlets. The disc is available to fans who attend Jet’s show and then purchase their album within a two-week period. More details can be found at www.jetkickedmyass.com. … Good Charlotte, Jet, Something Corporate, Finger Eleven and Billy Talent are among the first crop of bands announced for this year’s Edgefest, taking place July 2 at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. …

The U.K. documentary “Police Protecting Children,” airing on British television Tuesday, contains footage of Who guitarist Pete Townshend being questioned by police after his arrest in January 2003. Townshend claimed he was doing research for a book when he was caught visiting a child-porn Web site. He was formally warned and his name was placed on a sex-offenders register for five years. The filmmaker told a British paper that the Townshend footage was included as “a cautionary tale” to halt even the temptation to view child pornography. … Three massive Rolling Stones box sets, collecting nine years’ worth of the legendary band’s singles, are on the horizon. The dozen-disc The Rolling Stones Singles 1963-1965, due May 4, features early hits like “Time Is on My Side” and “Heart of Stone,” rarities such as their cover of the Beatles‘ “I Wanna Be Your Man” and three EPs never before released on CD. Singles 1965-1967 is scheduled for summer, while 1968-71 is expected in the fall. …

Barbie is getting into the music-compilation game with Barbie Hit Mix, a 16-track collection of hits sung by kids so that other kids can sing along. Among the tracks featured on the album, due April 6, are covers of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!,” Hilary Duff‘s “Come Clean,” Britney Spears‘ “… Baby One More Time” and Michelle Branch‘s “Breathe.” … John Mayer is the latest addition to Eric Clapton‘s Crossroads Guitar Festival from June 4 to June 6 in Dallas. Clapton, Mayer, Carlos Santana, Queen‘s Brian May, B.B. King, James Taylor, Steve Vai, the EaglesJoe Walsh, ZZ Top and Vince Gill are among the other guitarists scheduled to perform at the Cotton Bowl for the event, which will raise money for Clapton’s Crossroads Centre Antigua, a treatment and education center he founded in 1997. …

Velvet Revolver‘s debut album, Contraband, is now slated for a June 8 street date. The group is expected to shoot a video for its first single, “Slither,” in early April. … Guster are releasing a DVD and live album in May called Guster on Ice. Meanwhile, the band recently finished a live/behind-the-scenes video for “Careful,” the second single from Keep It Together. … Guster have also been added to this year’s Bonnaroo festival, along with Ween, Patti Smith and the Radiators. Bob Dylan, the Dead, Dave Matthews and friends, Wilco and Trey Anastasio are headlining the event, taking place June 11 to 13 in Manchester, Tennessee. …