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Music News: 11 Contestants to Compete in <i>World Idol</i>


December 18, the District Attorney's office in Santa Barbara County, California filed formal charges in their case against Michael Jackson. According to the Associated Press, "the documents specified seven counts alleging violation of a statute involving lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under age 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent." Jackson's arraignment, originally scheduled for January 9, has been delayed one week and will now take place on January 16. Authorities have returned his passport so that he can travel to the U.K. for the holidays. In other recent news, Jackson has accepted an offer from the Nation of Islam to serve as his bodyguards.

2003 American Idol winner Ruben Studdard sold more than 416,000 copies of his debut album, Soulful, its first week of release. The collection enters this week's Billboard 200 chart at Number One. Last year's American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson also debuted in the top spot of that chart by selling 297,000 copies of her first album Thankful. And, this year's runner-up Clay Aiken surpassed sales of 600,000 to enter at Number One with his debut album, Measure of A Man.

Eleven contestants will compete in an upcoming World Idol talent contest. The U.S. will be represented by 2002 American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Other participating countries include South Africa, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Lebanon, Belgium, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. One judge from each country will comment on each performance, but the world's television audience will vote to decide the winner. World Idol will air as a two-part special December 25 and January 1. Elton John will perform on the January 1 episode.

Ozzy Osbourne began breathing on his own one week after being injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. The singer was taken off a ventilator on December 15 and is reportedly making progress with his recovery. However, his wife Sharon Osbourne says it could take up to six months for Ozzy to fully recuperate from his injuries, which included broken ribs and a fractured vertebra and collarbone. Changes, his new duet with daughter Kelly Osbourne, debuted at Number One on the U.K. chart for the week ending December 20. It marks Ozzy's first chart-topper. Osbourne was to begin a European concert tour next month to play shows he postponed in October due to health problems.

On December 21, Country singer Craig Morgan will head to the Middle East to perform for U.S. military troops stationed in Iraq and Kuwait. He'll be joined by Warner Brothers recording artist Jolie Edwards. Morgan served 11 years of active duty in the U.S. Army before pursuing a career in music. He's now a Staff Sergeant in the Army Reserves.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES / DEC. 23:

LOOK WHO'S GOING ON TOUR !

The Rolling Stones' "Licks" tour grossed $299.5 million to rank as the Number One tour of 2003. At Number 2 is Bruce Springsteen, who brought in $181.7 million. Rounding out the Top 5 are Cher ($76.3 million), Fleetwood Mac ($69.2 million) and the Dixie Chicks ($62.2 million). Country acts were particularly popular during the past year, with five names listed among the Top 25 tours. Besides the Dixie Chicks, they include Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Shania Twain.

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