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    Imogen Heap Shares New Tunes in NYC

    On Thursday night (April 23), ethereal electro-pop singer Imogen Heap debuted a handful of songs from her upcoming album, Ellipse, at an intimate listening session in a plush, red velvet-curtained penthouse suite at New York's Gramercy Park Hotel. While guests sipped glasses of gin-spiked sangria, Heap fired up her laptop and pushed play on opening track, "First Train Home," a song inspired by a lackluster evening with friends in Brighton, England. She even turned on the iTunes "Visualizer" function, unleashing psychedelic spinning planets and brightly colored stars on a screen that perfectly synched up to the space-age blips and bleeps of the richly layered, melancholic song. In between tracks, Heap talked about the album's evolution. It began in the same place she did: her childhood home in Essex, England.

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    7 Reasons to Love 'Rock of Ages'

    Rock of Ages - the arena-rock jukebox musical that mixes songs by the likes of Bon Jovi, Foreigner, and Journey with a story about "dreaming big, playing loud and partying on" - just opened on Broadway. Even though I had heard good things, I was skeptical that it was going to be a total cheesefest peppered with jokes about Aqua Net and Bartles & James. Turns out that's exactly what it is. Which is to say, awesome! Here are seven reasons why it's a must see: 7. The follow your dreams/true love conquers all plotline is as thin as a Whitesnake groupie's g-string -- and it works. Set in the '80s in L.A. ("If a fella had a dream and a decent amount of hair, there was nowhere else to be"), it follows Drew (American Idol's Constantine Maroulis), a wannabe rocker working at a club on the Sunset Strip that's set to be demolished to make way for a Footlocker.

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    Lip-Synching As If Your Life Depends On It

    Of all the taglines coming from current reality TV -- "Make it work," "Pack your knives and go," "Your shot at love is over" -- by far the fiercest and most resonant is RuPaul's pump-stomping command, "It's time to l-l-l-lip-synch for your lives!" Thus, with a haughty head toss and menacing grin, does the six-foot-four, platinum-blond diva announce the final elimination challenge on Logo's must-see show RuPaul's Drag Race (Mon. 10 p.m.) -- with a phrase that sets the two lowest-ranking drag queens trembling in their size-12 stilettos as they stand at catwalk's edge. The music starts -- be it Mary Mary's "Shackles" or Britney Spears' "Stronger" -- and the silent death match begins. There are wide-open-mouthed bellows. Body-quaking high C's.

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    Neko Case: Pet Sounds

    Neko Case's biggest fans bum-rush her at her front door. "Hi, guys!" she singsongs as four large dogs come clattering over floorboards to fill the entrance of her Tucson, Arizona home with sheer body-wiggling desperation. You'd think she'd been on tour for weeks, not at alocal café for two hours. Dropping a canvas tote, Case bends to bestow kisses and back scratches. "Oh, Travis, you're such a ham," she says to one of her three greyhounds. "I made the mistake of feeding the dogs bacon yesterday," she warned earlier, prepping me for potential toxic blowback. "Greyhounds are really talented in that area." Happily, though, the only aroma here is a good one: the lingering scent of fudge cookies with white chocolate chips, which Case made last night.

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    Mark Hoppus Responds to SPIN Editor's Blog

    On his website, blink-182 singer/bassist Mark Hoppus responded to something I posted in a blog yesterday. I had blithely suggested that his band receive a slice of the economic stimulus package so they wouldn't have to reunite and release one subpar album. More blink-182 on SPIN.com: >> Rock Stars Benefit from Obama Stimulus Plan! >> Mark Hoppus on blink-182 Reunion >> Travis Barker Talks Plane Crash, RecoveryHoppus was adamant: "More like SEVERAL TERRIBLY subpar albums," he corrected me. Here, I must take issue. Blink-182 are well above par. As scores of their outraged fans were quick to remind me, this band does indeed rock -- and did for twelve years and seven albums. My (light-hearted) suggestion was not prompted by the quality of their catalogue, but the shotgun-wedding looks on their faces when they announced reunion plans onstage at this year's Grammy Awards.

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    Rock Stars Benefit from Obama Stimulus Plan!

    Given all the new beneficiaries of President Obama's economic stimulus package -- first-time home-buyers, small business owners, unemployed bloggers -- the American rock music industry seems to have been cruelly overlooked. For just a fraction of that $787 billion, many singers and rappers at risk could be pulled from the brink of ruin. Here are some targets for the Obama/SPIN.com stimulus spending plan: MAKEOVER BY CELEB-STYLIST SALLY HERSHBERGERBeneficiary: Kanye WestCost to taxpayers: $700Why dude thought a Larry Blackmon-style mullet-fade was a good idea is beyond me. I'm sure the reason is even beyond LeVare Burton, who sported a similar 'do when he was cruising on the Starfleet wearing his electromagnetic spectrum visor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. To prevent a nation of Dolce-clad hipsters from shaving off their sideburns, we need to get Kanye in the barber's chair.

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    Jacko on Broadway: Genius or Sign of Apocalypse?

    A few signs that the end of the world is near: One: Rampant greed has brought a great nation to its knees. Two: A recipe calling for "two pounds bacon, two pounds sausage" has inflamed America's kitchens. Three: The video for "Thriller" is being made into a Broadway musical. Yes, it's true. You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it. Or in my case, you clamp your hands over your mouth and struggle to conceal your joy. Because your deep, dark secret is that you love Broadway musicals, have as much Sondheim as Franz Ferdinand on your Nano, and can't wait to see a 26-year-old, 14-minute music video explode before footlights in a flurry of moonwalks and jazz hands. The funny thing is, I don't like the subgenre that such an endeavor seems to fit.

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    Ladyhawke: The Ingenue

    She may be a bottle blonde with a taut midriff, but Pip Brown is sick of getting pegged as a would-be Britney. "People assume when they see me live for the first time that my drummer wrote all the music," says Brown, a.k.a. Ladyhawke. "If it was a guy standing up there with a guitar singing, nobody would assume he wasn't the writer." Brown does have some cause for resentment. Far from a fluffy pop avatar, the 28-year-old singer-songwriter not only played guitar, bass, and synths on her self-titled debut album, but also cowrote every one of its giddy dance-pop gems -- songs whose sound and preoccupations flow straight from the '80s, with a modern bloggish sass.

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    Kelly Clarkson: Is Her New Music Any Good?

    Kelly Clarkson and I have never met, but I bet if we did, we'd totally hit it off. We'd go out for drinks -- but end up ordering pear-tinis and chocolate mousse -- and we'd talk about old high school crushes, the first time we got drunk, and how it's so weird that we still like Brad Pitt but hate Angelina. She'd dish on Clive Davis and I'd trash my coworkers and then, after a couple of pear-tinis, I'd dare her to send a drink to the cute hoodie-clad loner at the bar. ("Look, he's, like, writing in a journal!" I'd goad her. "OMG, he must be deep," Kelly'd pretend to gush -- so loud he'd turn and look, causing us both to erupt into giggles.) By midnight, we'd be making plans to see Marley and Me and go shopping at Anthropologie the next day. Total slumber party. But while I like to imagine that Kelly and I would be bosom buddies, I honestly believe anybody would hit it off with her.

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    7 Best Dressed Musicians of 2008

    Rock'n'roll fashion in 2008 was clouded by a fog of plaid flannel, neon leggings, and boat shoes. Even so, we at SPIN.com can find reasons to celebrate -- seven of them, in fact. Below, see our ranking of the intrepid artists who rose above the conventional horde. These musicians deserve special mention for their ability to hone a distinctive look -- while also managing to leave their musical mark on the year. 7)MGMTAndrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser don't always look good, but they always look like rock stars. Instead of the cardigans and skinny jeans that plague most electro-Brooklynites, they opt for brocade jackets, jewelry, feathered headbands, multi-colored robes, and several boatloads of scarves. Then they go ahead and smudge neon face-paint under their eyes and let their curls run wild across their foreheads. Is this trying too hard?

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