U2, Eminem or Lady GaGa?


Even with a bad back, Bono still has more power than the rest of us. He and his Irish band mates in U2 land at the top of Forbes annual Top-Earning Musicians with net earnings of $130 million for July 1-June 31. The only new artist to make the Forbes list is Lady GaGa, but she makes our list this week for a totally different reason that has nothing to do with money or fame, but with humanity.

1. U2: The Irish rockers top Forbes list of top-earning musicians. I believe they’ve found what they’re looking for.

2. Eminem (No. 1): Not only does “Recovery” log its fourth week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, for the first time in his career, Eminem lands back to back No. 1s. After “Not Afraid” went to No. 1 in May, “Love the Way You Lie” goes to No. 1 this week, bumping Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” out of the top spot after six weeks.

3. Rihanna (not ranked): The news is good for Eminem, but it’s great for Rihanna. “Love the Way You Lie” is her seventh No. 1 since she first debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2005, giving her more No. 1s in that time frame than any other artist. Lady GaGa is plotting as we speak.

4. James Taylor and Carole King (not ranked): In a summer of tour cancellations and poor sales, James Taylor and Carole King proved that there’s a lot of life left in acts that deliver the goods. Both in their 60s, the pair completed a 58-date world tour this week that grossed $63 million and averaged 95% capacity. They’ve got a friend…lots of them.

5. Lady GaGa (not ranked): This week Lady GaGa did something much more significant than sell tickets: She stood up, loudly and proudly, against anti-gay protesters from Westboro Baptist Church, who picketed her show in St. Louis. She asked her fans not to engage the protesters and, instead to pray for them. At the show’s conclusion, she tweeted: “Tonight love and hate met in St. Louis….Hate left but love stayed + together we sang.” Instead of WWJD, maybe we should ask ourselves WWLGD?

6. Big Champagne (not ranked): The media metrics company launches the “Ultimate Chart” to measure a single’s popularity and to challenge Billboard’s Hot 100. Like the Hot 100, the Ultimate Chart measures radio play and tracks sales, but also includes data from social networking sites such as YouTube. Be prepared for Justin Bieber to be No. 1 until he turns 25.

7. Roger Faxon (not ranked): The new EMI chief makes his first visit to LA in his new capacity to review the U.S. operation. The question is what will he change. Despite the parent company, Terra Firma’s woes, EMI looks strong with Lady Antebellum and Katy Perry. Do we see more synergies between EMI’s publishing powerhouse and the label side?

8.New Music Seminar (not ranked): The revived music conference, which ruled supreme in the ‘80s, made news this week primarily for a session that laid out by the number revealing just how tragic album sales are. We won’t run down all the sobering stats, but here’s one to wrap your brain around: Number of albums selling more than 250,000 copies in 2009: 85. Number of albums selling more than 250,000 copies in 2001: 214. But who’s counting…

9. Chris Isaak and Harry Connick Jr. (not ranked):  Bret Michael, Elton John, Steve Lilywhite and even Donald Trump were among the names bandied about to replace Simon Cowell as an “American Idol” judge. While nothing is official, Isaak and Connick appear to be the last two standing.  Both are great choices, but we’re casting our vote for Isaak.

10. Joss Stone (not ranked): She’s the new Bond girl.  Even though it looks like it may be a hot minute before we get a new 007 film, she appears alongside Daniel Craig and Judi Dench in the new video game, “James Bond 007: Blood Stone.” She also sings an original song, “I’ll Take It All.”