This week on the music beat | EW.com

Music

This week on the music beat

The Spice Girls, Rodney Jerkins, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter made music news this week

American girls
Are the Spice Girls’ 15 minutes up yet? Not if they can help it. For their third album, the ladies are bringing in 21-year-old producer du jour Rodney Jerkins, whose credits include work with Whitney Houston, Will Smith, Brandy, and BLACKstreet. Jerkins — who is currently in the studio with Michael Jackson — met the fab four recently and got on swimmingly with them. ”We talked about what kind of sound they want,” says Jerkins, who’s known for his highly commercial form of street-infused pop. ”I told them I’d like to keep to happy songs that kids can identify with, but my tracks would be a little harder and edgier. Not so Euro, but more American.” Jerkins will travel to London this summer to begin recording with the group. But can they really do it again? ”Oh yeah,” says Jerkins. ”The next album will sell over 20 million.” Ah, the confidence of youth.

Short takes
Former Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff ”Skunk” Baxter is seriously mulling a run for a seat in California’s 24th Congressional District. Turns out the freaky-looking rocker is a Republican who chairs the Civilian Advisory Board for Ballistic Missile Defense. ”I advise a few folks on the Hill on matters of national security,” says Baxter. ”I love this country.”… Pomp-rockers Styx are enjoying a minor comeback, with their first studio album in 16 years featuring the band’s classic lineup, three songs in the film Big Daddy, and another, 1983’s ”Mr. Roboto,” used in a Volkswagen ad. But singer-keyboardist Dennis DeYoung is bailing on his band’s summer tour because of an illness. ”When he’s exposed to heat and light, he gets flu-like symptoms,” says his daughter CarrieAnn. ”It’s a real hindrance to performing.”… Hitching a ride on the teen-pop craze, ABBA has given its blessing to ABBA Teens, a young Swedish quartet that — what else — sings old ABBA songs. The album ”will probably come out in America before the end of the year,” says ABBA’s U.S. rep Dennis McNamara.