Weekly music agenda: 'Avatar,' Alicia Keys, a first look at New Year's Eve

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December sees a few major album releases in the form of Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture, Alicia's Keys's The Element of Freedom, and Eminem's Relapse: Refill. Also, an early look at some of New Year's musical offerings.

Grammy nominations concert
December 2
Los Angeles, USA

On December 2, the nominations for the 2009 Grammy Awards will be announced at a concert in Los Angeles hosted by LL Cool J and featuring Black Eyed Peas, Maxwell, and Sugarland. One of the most prestigious music award shows worldwide, the Grammys cover 31 fields, including pop, rock, classical, and a wide variety of other genres. The Grammy Awards celebration will take place on January 31. For updates and breaking news from the nominations concert and awards show, visit the Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

Paul McCartney begins European tour
December 2
Hamburg, Germany/Europe

Paul McCartney begins his first European tour since 2004, starting with a December 2 show in Hamburg. Dates follow in Arnhem, Paris, Cologne, Dublin, and London - his only UK date of the year. For information about where to buy tickets for each show, visit this link on the Paul McCartney website:


Green Day tour
December 4
Australia and New Zealand/ Asia

Green Day will perform in Perth, Australia on December 4, marking the start of a seven-date tour in that country. Two shows in New Zealand follow. In January, the band is back on the road for concerts in Thailand, Singapore, China, Korea, and Japan. On November 5, Green Day was presented with the Best Rock award at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Berlin.


The Beatles USB drive on sale
December 7

Following the September 9 debut of The Beatles' digitally remastered catalog on CD, Beatles music label Apple Corp Ltd. and EMI Music will release thirty thousand apple-shaped USB drives, each loaded with the re-mastered audio of The Beatles' 14 stereo albums. Selling for $279.99, the drives will also come loaded with the remastered CDs' visual elements, including 13 mini-documentary films, replicated original UK album art, rare photos, and expanded liner notes. Pre-order at the official Beatles Store, accessible from http://www.thebeatles.com. The drive will be available December 7 (December 8 in North America).


Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture
December 14

The score album for Cameron's upcoming film Avatar comes out internationally December 14 (December 15 in the US). The album features music composed and conducted by Titanic composer James Horner, plus the film's title song, "I See You," performed by Leona Lewis. Avatar will be out in theaters worldwide the week of December 16. The soundtrack is available for pre-order at AvatarScore.com.


Alicia Keys: The Element of Freedom
December 15

Twelve-time Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys will release The Element of Freedom (MBL/J Records), her fourth studio album, on December 15. The album will include the singles "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" and "Doesn't Mean Anything," a solo version of "Empire State of Mind," which Keys previously sang with Jay-Z, and "Put It In A Love Song," a duet with Beyoncé. Also collaborating on the album is the rapper Drake, for the track "Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)."


The Met's Les Contes d'Hoffmann in theaters worldwide
December 19

Now in its fourth season, The Met: Live in HD transmits live performances by the Metropolitan Opera in high definition to theaters around the world. On Saturday, December 19 at 1:00pm EST, the Met will transmit its fourth Live in HD broadcast of the season, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, to hundreds of movie theaters in more than 40 countries. All full list of participating theaters is on the Met Opera website.


Eminem's Relapse: Refill
December 21

Eminem will release Relapse: Refill on December 21 on Aftermath/Interscope Records in the US and Polydor in the UK. The album is a re-release of his fifth studio album, Relapse, including seven bonus tracks. New songs on the album include the single "Forever," featuring Drake, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne, "Taking My Ball," and five never-before-heard tracks. Eminem has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide. The long-awaited Relapse was his first album to be released since 2004's Encore, which has sold more than 11 million copies.


New Year's Eve
December 31

Announcements are beginning for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day concerts worldwide. Among confirmed shows:  Mariah Carey at New York's Madison Square Garden, Lady Gaga at Miami's James L. Knight Center, and Ministry of Sound Presents at London's O2 Arena. Or enjoy the festivities from home: An annual performance by the Vienna Philharmonic is broadcast in more than 50 countries, and Japan's Red and White Song Festival, a 50-year-old tradition featuring competing teams of celebrity singers, airs internationally by NHK and select cable channels. From New York, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest airs on ABC-TV, and NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly airs on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, and Bravo. To stay informed of concerts, keep an eye on artists' websites or on ticketing sites like ticketmaster.com and livenationinternational.com.


Looking ahead: SXSW offers reduced registration
Through January 15
Austin, Texas

The annual South by Southwest Music and Media Conference & Festival gathers members of the international music, film, and interactive media industries in Austin, Texas, for a weeklong convergence of ideas and talent. Founded in 1987, the music event attracts nearly 12,000 attendees; the film and interactive components, added in 1994, attract approximately 17,000 registrants. SXSW 2010 is scheduled for March 12-21. Through January 15, badges range from $475 to $675 for single festivals (music, film, or interactive). Gold and platinum badges, priced at $675 and $1050, allow entry into multiple events. After January, costs will rise by $25 to $75 per badge.