Getting better

The follow-up to last year's warmly received all-local Fab Four tribute album, "Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 2," will boast bigger names and even more clever covers when it lands Dec. 7 online and in stores (including Target). Soul Asylum's first new recording in almost five years leads off the 16-song collection, a wild, horn-filled version of "Good Morning Good Morning." It also features one of Lookbook's last recordings before its split, a surprisingly non-electronic spin on "Real Love." Two well-known non-Minnesotan acts also contributed, the Meat Puppets and Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons. The Puppets' track ("Tomorrow Never Knows") features local gal Alison Scott, though, and Chisel ("Fixing a Hole") has family and roots in the Iron Range. Other participants include Mason Jennings, P.O.S., the New Standards, Polara, Sounds of Blackness, Communist Daughter, Pert Near Sandstone and Curtiss A, whose annual John Lennon tribute show Dec. 8 at First Ave will serve as the release party. More details at the CD beneficiary's site, VegaProductions.org.

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Serving muffins at Orchestra Hall

Idina Menzel may be a sophisticated Broadway diva, but she got downright giddy while performing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" with the Minnesota Orchestra last Friday at Orchestra Hall. "This is what you went to Juilliard for," she joked to the musicians. She had even more fun with sign-language interpreter Stephen Medlicott. While introducing the Gaga ditty, which she sang on TV's "Glee" last year, she watched to see how he'd translate an anecdote about pumping breast milk for her 14-month-old son in her trailer during filming of the Fox network hit. Then, as she sang the lyric "I'm bluffin' with my muffin," she thrust her body toward Medlicott, but suddenly stopped in mid-song to offer a disclaimer: "It's what the kids say."

JON BREAM

Got talent?

Does the Twin Cities have talent? NBC is banking on it. "America's Got Talent," one of the summer's hottest shows, will start its nationwide audition process Jan. 22-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It's one of the rare times the show has looked north of Chicago for jugglers, animal acts, singers, magicians and others who want to vie for a chance to win $1 million and get close to Howie Mandel. To pre-register, you can visit AGTauditions.com.

NEAL JUSTIN

Going to college on Prince

Rolling Stone has asked 50 music stars to compile their personal Top 10 lists. Bono picks the best of David Bowie. Annie Lennox salutes women of soul. And ?uestlove of the Roots bows to Prince. Among his picks are an extended 12-inch of "Little Red Corvette," "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" and "Baby, I'm a Star" (live on the Purple Rain Tour in 1984). His most curious choice? A 1983 rehearsal demo of "The Bird," later made famous by the Time in the movie "Purple Rain." Of the bootlegged demo, ?uestlove writes: "Practicing and absorbing this song has shaped many a musician's life, including mine -- it was all the college I needed. He builds a groove here from the ground up, note by note. This one shows that even the smallest detail is crucial to a song."

JON BREAM

'Millionaire' anchors

KSTP, Channel 5, news anchors may not be the most popular in town, but they'll try to prove they're the smartest. Megan Newquist and Patrick Hammer will be a two-person team vying for $1 million on special editions of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," airing at 4 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 6 on KSTP. Their winnings will go to the Children's Hospital Association in St. Paul. Hammer will host a viewing party Dec. 6 at Mad Jacks Sports Cafe in Vadnais Heights.

NEAL JUSTIN