The Rundown

An angelic Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan's birthday, RIAA shenanigans and more in the week's biggest music news.

Published May 25, 2007 12:31PM (EDT)

"American Idol's" bloated, nonsensical finale saw Jordin Sparks of Glendale, Ariz., declared this season's winner, beating out Bothell, Wash.'s Blake Lewis. In what might be a bad omen for 17-year-old Sparks' future success, the "Idol" capper drew 7 million fewer viewers than last year's finale, when Taylor Hicks took home the prize.

Never underestimate the market for teen angst. Long after their rap metal brethren like Korn and Limp Bizkit have been relegated to the margins of popular success, Linkin Park continues to roll along. The band's "Minutes to Midnight" scored the biggest first-week sales of the year with a whopping 623,000 albums sold. That number outdistanced the week's second-best-selling album, Tank's "Sex, Love & Pain," by more than 520,000 and bested the year's previous first-week high, notched by Norah Jones' "Not Too Late," by more than 200,000. "Midnight" marks the band's third No. 1 album.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Recording Industry Association of America is challenging a federal exemption that allows radio stations to pay royalties only to song publishers and composers and not to performers and record labels. If the RIAA is able to persuade Congress to repeal the exemption, which is based on the argument that airplay provides labels and artists with free promotion, broadcasters will be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties. The reason for the RIAA's push? "The creation of music is suffering because of declining sales," RIAA chief executive Mitch Bainwol told the Times. "We clearly have a more difficult time tolerating gaps in revenues that should be there."

Tuesday night in Paris, the Smashing Pumpkins took to the stage for the first time since the band's "farewell" show in 2000. Actually, it was a weird, reconstituted version of the band that appeared, as founding members James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky did not participate. Songwriter-guitarist Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin were joined by newbies Jeff Schroeder (guitar), Ginger Reyes (bass) and Lisa Harriton (keyboards) for an endurance-testing three-hour, 29-song set.

If only for a moment, Marilyn Manson surely bridged some sort of high school social divide by performing a cover version of Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around."

After Courtney Love publicly complained, bulky-boot maker Dr. Martens canceled a planned ad campaign that was set to feature the image of her late husband, Kurt Cobain, as well as those of deceased rock icons Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious, wearing the famous footwear while draped in white robes and standing amid some decidedly heavenlike clouds. Airwair Ltd., the company behind Dr. Martens, has since fired Saatchi and Saatchi, the agency responsible for the campaign.

Bob Dylan turned 66 on Thursday. Ever wonder what it would be like to hear Zimmy sing "Happy Birthday"? Wonder no more.

-- David Marchese

By Salon Staff

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