Ashlee Simpson Shoots ‘Out There’ Video; Plus Kanye West, Avril Lavigne, Gorillaz, J.K. Rowling, Velvet Revolver & More, In For The Record

West drops out of U.S. show at last minute; Lavigne, Gorillaz items featured in auctions; Rowling documentary on the way.

You probably didn’t take Ashlee Simpson as a fan of Salvador Dalí, but the famed artist’s surrealism is exactly the look she went for in her new video, according to Billboard.com. The singer shot a clip for “Out of My Head (Ay Ya Ya),” the Timbaland-produced first single from her yet-untitled March album, on Thursday. “One of my favorite artists is Salvador Dalí,” she told the site. “You’ll see a little bit of that surrealism in [the clip]. There’s a bit of ‘Being John Malkovich’ in there too. It’s a little out there.” Simpson also said she will title the album during the holidays and hopes to kick off a small-club tour in February. …

Kanye West has backed out of what would have been his first concert on U.S. soil since the unexpected death of his mother, Dr. Donda West, last month. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that West dropped off the bill for the KDWB Jingle Ball at the Target Center slated for Friday night (December 7) in Minneapolis with only a few days’ notice, due to an unspecified “family matter.” “American Idol” runner-up Blake Lewis and Fabolous will fill in for West on the bill, which also includes Avril Lavigne, Timbaland, Good Charlotte and Jordin Sparks. “We tried to get [West] on the air to explain all this to fans, but he refused,” said Rob Morris, the station’s program director. “We did everything we could to save this thing.” …

West, Avril Lavigne, Common and Coldplay are just a few of the many celebs who have pitched in for Waxploitation’s new Darfur Benefit Auction, which launched Thursday. Lavigne, Com, the Flaming Lips, Norah Jones, Nickelback and Deftones signed guitars for the auction; ‘Ye, Coldplay, Gnarls Barkley, Bloc Party, TV on the Radio, Wilco, the Decemberists, Aesop Rock, Macy Gray, Thievery Corporation and Gorillaz signed other items; and there are additional items from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lupe Fiasco, Don Cheadle, and Bam Margera. All proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam America. …

Speaking of eBay charity auctions, Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn, Robert Plant, Belle and Sebastian‘s Stuart Murdoch, PJ Harvey and others have written and signed postcards for a British one that’s currently up. One of Plant’s postcards quizzically has just two words above his John Hancock: “Mitigating circumstances.” Daddy G of Massive Attack and actress Helen Mirren also pitched in for the effort, which is raising money for Carers UK, an organization that gives financial and emotional support to individuals who provide unpaid health and social care. …

J.K. Rowling has posted a new entry on her Web site, calling out the launch of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at the National History Museum in London and insisting that the book is her fave of the series. “As for mourning Harry — and I doubt I will be believed when I say this — nobody can have felt the end as deeply as I did. The writing of ‘Harry Potter’ has been inextricably linked with my life for 17 years, and saying goodbye has been just as tough as I always knew it would be.” Rowling also revealed that a documentary surrounding her is on the way. “J.K. Rowling – A Year in the Life,” which will air later this month in the U.K., shadows the author working on “Deathly Hallows,” on tour and at the launch. …

After visa issues forced Velvet Revolver to cancel their tour of Japan, and “health issues” forced the band to postpone its Australian tour — a week after the DUI arrest of singer Scott Weiland — the group has announced a New Year’s Eve show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The band also said that part of the proceeds from a limited-edition T-shirt sold at its Wednesday benefit with Alice in Chains at Universal City, California’s Gibson Amphitheatre will be donated to victims of the recent Southern California fires. Meanwhile, the Australian tour dates have been rescheduled for February and will kick off with a show on the 15th in Brisbane. … It was a rare bit of good legal news for Kid Rock this week when a judge in New Orleans dismissed Louisiana musician Troy Landry’s claim that the rapper’s song “Somebody’s Gotta Feel This” was too similar to one of his songs. According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge May Ann Vial Lemmon said the works were not “so strikingly or substantially similar as to preclude independent creation.” Landry sued Rock (born Robert Ritchie) and Atlantic Records in 2004, claiming that an eight-second snippet of “Feel This” that was featured in a beer commercial was similar to a song Landry released on a 1994 record. …

Madonna is suing the board and management company of her luxury New York apartment — which includes a 6,000-square-foot duplex, a gym and a beauty salon — for not allowing her to expand it into a neighboring apartment, according to the Daily News. In a recently filed summons, the singer reportedly accuses the board and management company of breach of contract for holding up the sale of the other apartment. … In other Madge news, Billboard.com reported Thursday that her new album would be called Licorice and drop in late April, but her label is saying not so fast. “Wrong title. Release date wrong etc.,” Warner Bros. spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg told Reuters. She did not, however, appear to deny the reported participation of Kanye West and Pharrell on the effort. … Björk has reunited with director Michel Gondry — who got behind the camera for some of the singer’s best-known videos, including “Human Behaviour” and “Army of Me” — for a new clip, RollingStone.com reports. The collaboration, for her song “Declare Independence,” marks their first hookup in 10 years. …

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have lined up three gigs he’ll play in the summer at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, according to Billboard.com. Sixty-six Springsteen concerts have reportedly sold out at the venue in the past, and the upcoming gigs will be held July 27, 28 and 31. … So is that much-rumored new studio album by the Pixies still in the works? “Helll no,” Kim Deal recently told RollingStone.com about participating on a potential new effort. “Because I don’t want to,” she added. She said she didn’t think her bandmates wanted to make one either. “I was kind of waiting for [Frank Black and guitarist Joey Santiago] to get together and do demos, and they never did.” … “Wire” fans, there’s another reason to get psyched, beyond the upcoming launch of the show’s new season: Two soundtracks are on the way, Pitchfork reports. … And All the Pieces Matter – Five Years of Music From “The Wire” will include music and dialogue from the lauded HBO show; tracks by Steve Earle, Solomon Burke and others; as well as variations of Tom Waits‘ “Down in the Hole” theme sung by the Blind Boys of Alabama and others. Beyond Hamsterdam: Baltimore Club Tracks From “The Wire” will highlight underground B-More rappers like Rod Lee, Tyree Colion and Diablo. Both discs drop January 8, two days after the new season starts airing. …

Will Smith, Ralph Macchio wannabe? Believe it or not, the “I Am Legend” actor is entertaining the idea of a “Karate Kid” remake, according to AP. While there aren’t many more details yet on that shocker, there is some more news on the “I Am Legend” front: The flick’s theatrical release in China is being held up due to the country’s plan to temporarily ban American movies in an effort to help China’s domestic-film industry. … Kiefer Sutherland, who has served three of the 48 days he has been sentenced to spend in jail, is a “model prisoner,” said Officer John Balian, a spokesman for the Glendale City Jail in California, according to People.com. Sutherland reportedly spent Thursday folding jail laundry and has been assigned to serve meals to the other inmates. “He’s not happy to be here,” Balian said. “But you can tell from his demeanor that he’s sorry and takes responsibility for what he’s done.” …

A fifth person has been charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice in the case involving Amy Winehouse‘s husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, BBC News reports. James Kennedy is due in court Friday. … Billy Joel has released a new anti-war song — though the piano man isn’t heard singing on the track. Instead, 21-year-old New York singer/songwriter Cass Dillon handled the duties. Joel thought “somebody young, about a soldier’s age,” should be heard on “Christmas in Fallujah,” he recently told AP. The track went on sale on iTunes starting Tuesday, and net proceeds are going to Homes for Our Troops, a charity group that constructs homes for wounded Iraq and Afghanistan vets. …

Hip-hop icon MC Lyte is prepping the debut from her new group, Almost September, which also features producer/DJ Jared Lee and singer Whitey White. Manager “Blue” Williams said the trio have a “grown-up rap” feel that mixes Lyte’s rhymes with soulful funk akin to the Brand New Heavies. The group’s first single, “Beautiful,” will be available on iTunes before the end of the year. …

Drowning Pool bassist Stevie Benton has been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, an often-temporary neurological disorder that causes paralysis of the face, after being rushed to the hospital Thursday. According to a statement from his publicist, Benton felt ill during the band’s Wednesday night show in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and has been ordered to stay off the road for at least six weeks. “I’m really bummed that because of this, we can’t perform this last string of shows,” he said in the statement. “I want to thank the fans for their continued support.”

12.6.07

Time to pucker up for Madonna‘s next album — Billboard.com reports that the singer has settled on the title for it: Licorice. The effort, which will reportedly feature “Candy Shop” and “The Beat Goes On” (featuring Pharrell), is due in late April and will be Madge’s last effort for longtime label Warner Bros. Kanye West is said to be a guest on “The Beat Goes On,” according to the site, which also reports that Madonna’s vintage track “The Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” will get an update on the new disc. …

Jessica Sierra pleaded not guilty on Thursday (December 6) to charges of disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest and violating conditions of her parole on earlier felony battery and possession charges, according to The Associated Press. The former “American Idol” finalist was arrested early Sunday morning outside a bar in Ybor City, near Tampa, Florida, after causing an unspecified disturbance while working inside the establishment. Sierra’s lawyer reportedly said he is consulting with doctors to map out a comprehensive drug and alcohol plan for the ex-”Idol” contestant, who is currently being held without bail. Sierra is to remain in jail at least until her next hearing on December 20. …

Gym Class Heroes, the Academy Is … and Relient K will help anchor next year’s Warped Tour, according to Alternative Press. Every Time I Die, From First to Last and the Bronx are also among the first 18 bands named for the summer trek, with the dates yet to be announced. … Speaking of summer fests, Bonnaroo will take place June 12-15 in Manchester, Tennessee, Billboard.com reports. The lineup will be revealed in late January or early February. … Your chance to download Radiohead‘s In Rainbows is about to end. The band has announced that the InRainbows.com Web site will close Saturday. But you can still plunk down $80 for the box set at Radiohead’s online w.a.s.t.e. store, while supplies last. …

Ne-Yo and Macy Gray are joining Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and others as they pitch in for presidential aspirant Senator Barack Obama. Ne-Yo and the Goo Goo Dolls will play at an Obama fundraiser in Universal City, California, on Monday, while Gray, Tweedy and others will perform at the senator’s Friday event in Obama’s hometown of Chicago. On a related note, Wilco will set out for a two-week U.S. tour in February. … Paris, you’ve got nothing on Britney — Spears outdid Hilton on eBay in terms of related items sold this year. AP reports that 34,345 Brit-related items were sold, compared with 27,377 for Paris. A mere 8,099 items related to Lindsay Lohan were auctioned, while on the movies front, “Transformers” beat out Harry Potter with 442,342 and 344,825 related items sold, respectively. …

Indie-rockers, state attorneys general and anti-smoking activists are finding themselves on the same side, oddly enough — some of them are reportedly peeved about an ad for Camel cigarettes that appeared alongside a cartoon-heavy indie-rock feature in the magazine’s November 15 issue, Pitchfork reports. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has stopped promotions for its “The Farm” marketing campaign after nine attorneys general sued the company over the ads, according to North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal. More states are reportedly expected to also sue R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which could face a fine of more than $100 million for violating a 1998 agreement between 46 states and tobacco manufacturers. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement banned the use of cartoons to sell market cigarettes in 1997, effectively killing off Joe Camel. Also being debated, according to Pitchfork, are Camel-sponsored concerts that have featured the Flaming Lips, Band of Horses and the Faint. …

Alicia Keys will ring in the new year with a performance on the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center as part of Carson Daly‘s shindig on NBC. The show, which will air December 31 at 11:35 p.m. ET, will also feature Lenny Kravitz performing in Times Square. Keys will sing two songs from her latest album, As I Am.LL Cool J, Rev Run, Petra Nemcova, Brett Ratner and other celebs are participating in an ongoing online charity auction staged by Russell Simmons‘ Diamond Empowerment Fund. “Diamonds Give” features 15 lots of donated diamond pieces and runs through December 16 on eBay.

It sounds like U2 might be going back to the future on their upcoming album. The band, which flirted with dance beats and techno on such albums as 1991′s Achtung Baby, is incorporating trance, metal and Moroccan influences on its new disc, according to an interview with Bono in The Independent. The singer said fans will “feel the difference. … Normally when you play a U2 tune, it clears the dance floor. And that may not be true of this. There’s some trance influences.” He also said the yet-untitled and unscheduled album has some “very hardcore guitar” and “real molten metal” from guitarist the Edge that doesn’t sound “like anything we’ve ever done before, and we don’t think it sounds like anything anyone else has done either.” Though he wouldn’t categorize the album as “world” music, Bono said its sound was inspired in part by a religious music festival the guys attended in Fez, Morocco, where they were exposed to Sufi music. “It was a real humbling thing for a punk-rock shouter, listening to these people who just close their eyes for 40 minutes and sing the most sophisticated melodies.” So far, U2 have recorded enough material for two records, he added. …

Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson recently hung with locals, bathed in an irrigation ditch in their boxers and visited an orphanage in Peru this week, according to AP. An image that surfaced shows the two, who reportedly stayed at a cheap hotel room that cost less than $50 per night, smiling and waving in Cuzco. Cameron Diaz, Bill Gates and others visited the area earlier this year. … Courtney Love has a new video on her hands … kind of. A clip featuring manga character Princess Ai — whose universe of properties was co-created by Love — will premiere at the New York Anime Festival on Saturday. “Princess Ai: Broken Leash,” which includes live action, animation and music, will appear as part of a CD/DVD anthology due in fall 2008. … It’s hard to keep old punks down. After their recent reunion tour of England this year, punk grandfathers the Sex Pistols will hit the road again next summer, according to Reuters. Guitarist Steve Jones did not give any specifics about the 2008 tour on his Los Angeles radio show on Wednesday, other than to say that the group might play an upcoming charity show at London’s Royal Albert Hall organized by Who singer Roger Daltrey. …

And the battle over James Brown‘s estate goes on. According to AP, two former trustees for the late singer’s estate say the judge who is handling the disputes made them resign in late November. In recently filed court documents, Buddy Dallas and Alford Bradley reportedly said they want to retract their resignations and that South Carolina Circuit Judge Jack Early used “improper judicial influence.” They are also seeking for the appointment of their successors to be overturned.