Ed Sheeran has scored his first U.S. number one album with the fourth biggest sales week of the year. The British singer/songwriter's x has debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 with 210,000 sales. Only Coldplay, Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert have landed bigger first weeks in 2014.
Sheeran also claims the largest sales week for a British male artist in almost a decade - Rod Stewart's Stardust... The Great American Songbook Vol. III debuted at number one with 240,000 sales in October, 2004.
Sam Smith makes it a one-two for the Brits at the top of the countdown - his debut In the Lonely Hour stays put at two for a second week, while rapper G-Eazy enters the chart at three with These Things Happen.
Last week's number one, Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence, and the Frozen soundtrack round out the new top five.
Rocker Jack White has returned to the top of the U.S. album charts with the biggest vinyl sales week since 1991. Lazaretto bows atop the Billboard 200 with 138,000 first-week sales and 40,000 of those were old school records - 6,000 more than Pearl Jam's Vitalogy back in 1994.
The vinyl release of the album features unique qualities - it plays at three different speeds, has a hidden track under the centre label and features an angel hologram effect.
Last week's Billboard 200 chart-topper, Miranda Lambert's Platinum, slips to a distant number two, while the Frozen soundtrack slides a spot to three, and Brantley Gilbert's Just As I Am and the soundtrack to The Fault in Our Stars round out the new top five.
Miranda Lambert has landed her first U.S. number one album, becoming only the 11th country artist to make it to the top of the Billboard 200 countdown. Her fifth release, Platinum, has rocketed to the top of the charts with 179,000 first-week sales.
It's also her fifth straight number one on America's Top Country Albums countdown.
Meanwhile, the Frozen soundtrack is on the rise again, moving from four to two on the new Billboard 200, while Brantley Gilbert's Just As I Am slips a spot to three.
50 Cent's new album Animal Ambition debuts at four and last week's number one, Coldplay's Ghost Stories, falls to five.
Meanwhile, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea scores a third week atop the Hot 100 singles chart with Fancy, keeping Problem, her own collaboration with Ariana Grande, at number two.
John Legend's All of Me is also unmoved at three, while British star Sam Smith scores his first top 10 at 10.
He tells Billboard.com, "I am genuinely gobsmacked (amazed). I keep asking my team if they've made a mistake. Thank you so much, America, for everything."
British thespian Kenneth Branagh is the new darling of the New York theatre scene after winning rave reviews for his "epic" and "breathtaking" stage debut in the Big Apple. The actor/director took his production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth across the Atlantic after launching it in Manchester, England last summer (13), and the curtain went up at the Park Avenue Armory's Drill Hall on Thursday night (05Jun14).
Branagh, who co-directed the show with Rob Ashford and stars alongside Alex Kingston, has won rave reviews for his turn as the tragic Scottish king and for the immersive production. Peter Marks of the Washington Post calls the show "epic", adding, "Forget the pesky glasses. You want a movielike experience in 3D? Feast your eyes on Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford's breathtakingly visual new staging of Macbeth."
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney praises the "sensational" stage set and describes the production as a "medieval, mystical blockbuster that combines superlative, fuss-free classical theatre acting with muscular storytelling, visceral physicality and propulsive rollercoaster pacing. Oh, and lots of mud."
Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News gave the show five stars out of five, writing, "Any Macbeth rises or falls on the actor in the title role. Silver-tongued, sexy and deft with a sword, Branagh oozes charisma and carnality as his Macbeth murders his way to the throne - and his undoing. It's about time Branagh graced New York audiences with a flesh-and-blood Shakespeare star turn. It was worth the wait."
The New York Times' Ben Brantley writes, "This is the summer blockbuster that we wait for every year and too seldom find at the multiplexes, one of those action-packed, spectacle-drenched shows that sweep you right into their fraught, churning worlds and refuse to release you until the lights come up - and maybe not even then."
Coldplay have scored a second week at number one on the U.S. album chart with Ghost Stories. Chris Martin and his bandmates keep country star Brantley Gilbert off the top of the Billboard 200 for a second week, while Mariah Carey debuts at three with Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse.
Ghost Stories has already sold a total of 466,000 copies in the U.S., making it the sixth biggest-selling album of 2014.
Carey's new entry is her 17th top 10 album.
Meanwhile, on the Hot 100 singles countdown, rapper Iggy Azalea enjoys a second week in the top two spots as her solo hit Fancy scores a second week at number one and her collaboration with Ariana Grande on Problem holds at two.
Last week (ends30May14), Azalea became the first artist since the Beatles to rank at number one and number two in the same week with their first two Hot 100 entries.
John Legend's former number one, All of Me, rounds out the new top three.
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea has matched a U.S. pop chart record set by the Beatles after taking her hit Fancy to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The hip-hop star also lands a spot at number two as a guest on Ariana Grande's Problem, making her the first artist since the Fab Four in 1964 to land the top two places on the chart with her first two Hot 100 hits.
The Beatles managed the feat with I Want to Hold Your Hand and She Loves You over 50 years ago, following their breakthrough appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Azalea also becomes only the 15th act to score a one-two punch at the top of the countdown in the same week, and just the third woman behind Mariah Carey in 2005 and Ashanti in 2002. She also becomes only the fourth solo female rapper ever to top the Hot 100 - Lauryn Hill, Lil' Kim and Ludacris' sidekick Shawnna previously landed at number one.
It's a great early birthday gift for Azalea, who turns 24 on 7 June (14). Her Fancy ends John Legend's reign at the top of the Hot 100 with All of Me. The ballad slips two spots to three on the new chart, while Pharrell Williams' Happy and DJ Snake and Lil Jon's Turn Down for What round out the top five.
Meanwhile, Coldplay have stormed to the top of the U.S. album charts with the biggest first-week sales of 2014. Their new release, Ghost Stories, sold 383,000 copies to become the band's fourth Billboard 200 number one. It's also the first release to top 300,000 sales in a week this year. Country star Brantley Gilbert's Just As I Am debuts at two with impressive first-week sales of 211,000, and Michael Jackson's posthumous release Xscape slides a spot to three. Former number ones the Frozen soundtrack and the Black Keys' Turn Blue round out the new top five.
Country singer Brantley Gilbert is hitting the road with a military charity for a motorcycle ride up the U.S. east coast to promote his new album. The star will kick off the trip in Athens, Georgia, not far from his hometown of Jefferson, on 21 May (14), two days after the release of his upcoming record, Just As I Am.
Gilbert, an avid motorcycle fan, will be joined by representatives from Harley-Davidson and military charity Folds of Honor Foundation, an organisation which helps families whose family members have been disabled or killed in active duty.
In addition, the foundation's organisers asked Gilbert's fans to submit names of family members who have died in service, and they will be displayed on the side of a tour bus which will follow Gilbert on his trek.
The singer's ride will end on 26 May (14) in Washington, D.C. at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Singers Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert battled through technical problems and strong winds on Friday (25Apr14) as they headlined the 2014 Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California. The opening day of the annual event was a blustery affair, and Gilbert, who bounced back from recent hernia troubles to perform, had to contend with sound issues too as he belted out hits like Bottoms Up, Kick It in the Sticks, You Don't Know Her Like I Do and Dirt Road Anthem.
The technical problems had been resolved by the time Church kicked off his set, but the brewing dust storm caused some fans to leave early and even prompted the country star to curse the winds after having to wipe off a layer of dirt and sweat from his face, saying, "This wind is p**sing me off!"
However, he refused to let the chill rush him offstage and treated his diehard fans to renditions of tracks including Drink in My Hand, These Boots, Give Me Back My Hometown and Jack Daniels.
He even defied his producers' advice to cut his encore due to the weather conditions, revealing, "They said it was too windy, but they can kiss my a**!" before launching into Creepin' and his smash hit Springsteen.
Despite the winds, an estimated 50,000 people, including celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, turned out for Friday's events. The weekend line-up also included performances from Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes and Jennifer Nettles, while Lee Brice, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan closed out Sunday's (27Apr14) festivities.
Country star Brantley Gilbert has been ordered to cut down on his rigorous workout regimen after suffering an umbilical hernia. The You Don't Know Her Like I Do singer has been hitting the gym five days a week, but his penchant for lifting heavy weights on a daily basis has resulted in a painful abdominal injury.
He tells TasteofCountry.com, "I've got four tears in my stomach."
However, Gilbert isn't convinced his physical exercise is to blame for the ailment as he has always felt a strain on his stomach when he belts out a tune.
He says, "I think I really, legitimately got it from singing."
Michelle Williams' Broadway debut in Cabaret opened on Thursday (24Apr14) to mixed reviews from critics who were impressed with the production but disappointed with the Hollywood actress' performance.
Moviemakers Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall are co-directing a revival of the classic musical at the Studio 54 theatre, and following opening night, critics praised the production, with Terry Teachout from The Wall Street Journal branding it "fabulously good" while David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter hailed the "electrifying revival" and Ben Brantley from the New York Times approved of the "successful formula".
However, Williams' turn as English cabaret performer Sally Bowles, made famous by Liza Minnelli in the 1972 film adaptation, failed to impress some reviewers, with Brantley writing that the actress, "doesn't look all that happy to be there. I'm assuming that's more a matter of character interpretation than of personal discomfort, but it does put sort of a damper on the festivities."
Variety's Marilyn Stasio adds, "It's obvious that this ladylike thesp (thespian) isn't comfortable in the skin of this impulsive, irresponsible and utterly irresistible girl," and Tom Teodorczuk from Britain's The Independent insists her portrayal "lacks desperation and edge" and is "devoid of depth".
However, not all those watching were disappointed with Williams - Rooney called her performance "riveting", Teachout described it as "poignant", and Elysa Gardner from USA Today hailed the actress as a "real revelation". Williams' co-star Alan Cumming, reprising his Tony award-winning role as the Master of Ceremonies, was singled out for praise, with Rooney calling his performance "a knockout" and "fiercely alive".
The opening night was watched by Hollywood couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, plus Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon and 30 Rock actress Jane Krakowski