Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Singles Reviews!

I'm on a roll...

Love Sensation '06 (Hi-Tack Remix) - Loleatta Holloway (3.5/5)

"Love Sensation" has to be the most recognizable '70s disco track that was never a hit. I checked the Billboard and UK singles chart records--no history of this charting. Yet it's been sampled time and again in cuts such as "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark, "(You Got Me) Burning Up" by Cevin Fisher, "Ride on Time" by Black Box, and "We All Feel Better in the Dark" by Pet Shop Boys. This new version comes courtesy of Hi-Tack, the dance artists/remixers responsible for tooling with Michael Jackson tracks "Say Say Say" and "Somebody's Watching Me." Take a listen and you'll start thinking of all these others songs. This new version is pretty good, although a bit much. I bet it gets dance floors up in a real frothy stake.

Fill My Little World - The Feeling (5/5)

The Feeling is a really cool band. Trust me! Need proof? Just listen to second single "Fill My Little World," which is just as good as their debut, "Sewn." The album is out next week. It's jaunty, has piano-backed choruses, and Beatlesesque harmonic singing. Love it!

Trouble Sleeping - Corinne Bailey Rae (4.5/5)

"Put Your Records On" was good, but this makes me want the album. It's bluesy, sexy, good stuff. More mellow and less immediate than last single, but quite gratifying. Joss Stone would've killed for this track.

Follow Me Home - Sugababes (4/5)

This song, as originally intended to be sung by former member Mutya, was about Mutya and her daughter. Now that Mutya is gone and Amelle's in place, the group seemed to have reimagined this as some sort of hooker survival anthem (Just see the video--old men waiting in cars, etc.). The song is the stepchild of "Stronger," their fabulous (best) third single from 2002's Angels With Dirty Faces. Since then, they've managed to clone "Stronger" into "Too Lost in You," "Conversation's Over," "Caught In A Moment," and now this. It's a great song, great sound, but they've done it so many times now, that I feel like it lacks creativity. "Push the Button" was a fabulous new sound for them. This just revisits the same dark and swirling downbeat pop territory they've already conquered.

Who Knew - Pink (4/5)

Not as fun as "Stupid Girls," just as "Don't Let Me Get Me" wasn't as fun as "Get The Party Started," but it's still a good follow-up. Pink is back. This is mid-tempo, guitar-driven, big chorus, pop/rock stuff. Her forte.

Singles Reviews

Maneater - Nelly Furtado (4/5)

While Americans are getting drunk on Furtado's brilliant "Promiscuous," Brits instead get "Maneater," a good track--great in fact--but not as much fun as "Promiscuous." The Hip-hop and '80s influences are present here too, but the harsh beats aren't as enjoyable as the hyperactive percussion of "Promiscuous." Certainly both tracks will be the second single where they haven't yet been released.

All Over Again - Ronan Keating Featuring Kate Rusby (2.5/5)

Accomplished and bombastic as expected. It sounds country, but I cannot confirm that like his other hits (When You Say Nothing At All, If Tomorrow Never Comes, We've Got Tonight, I Hope You Dance) whether or not it is actually a country remake. I don't know who Kate Rusby is, but she's no Lulu, so there's another strike against this already. Ronan is now 7 years past Boyzone, but still hasn't moved passed karaoke.

She Moves in Her Own Way - The Kooks (4/5)

Another winner from the Kooks. Anyone heard about them? "Naive" was cool, and this is too, a good dose of retro-rock swagger and hand claps.

Hips Don't Lie - Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean (4.5/5)

After a regrettable delay, iTunes finally added this for sale this week--hence I get to listen over and over and review for you. Well, Shakira has finally put out a single I like. It's fun, great beat, great hooks, interesting horns and hip-hop influences. "She makes a man want to speak Spanish," as the guest rapper says. Makes up for the disappointing "Don't Bother."

Bright Idea - Orson (4.5/5)

Orson is turning out to be the second-coolest new band of 2006 (The Feeling is still my favorite). Yes cool, despite the fact that no one in the band is under 30, and they profess to making "soft rock." They're from LA, but like the Scissor Sisters and the Killers, are building their popularity in Britain before hitting the U.S. This track is just a great as their #1 hit, "No Tomorrow." It's guitar-driven rock with a great chorus. What more could one want for a hot May day?

World at Your Feet (The Official England Song for World Cup 2006) - Embrace (3.5/5)

Embrace was both fortunate and unfortunate to be chosen to record this year's England World Cup anthem. A great honor yes, but coming right after they released their great album, This New Day, I can't help but feel it's a bit of a distraction. It's good, but not as good as the singles waiting in the wings but were delayed so this could come out instead. Sounds like typical Embrace--big sound, big guitars, choir-backed chorus, etc.

Upside Down - Jack Johnson (4/5)

Jack Johnson is adorable. Curious George is sweet. Despite the fact that pairing them might make one want to wretch, this is actually a really great treat. It's a breazy dose of Caribbean beach time joy. Where's my pina colada? The simple instrumentation makes Jack's vocals and guitars really shine.

Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks (4/5)

Good for them! Green Day records a whole album bashing Bush and the war and they win an armload of Grammies. Dixie Chicks make 1 political comment against Bush during a concert and receive a shunning. It's nice to seem them not pander to such treatment and stand up for themselves. Moving past the politics, it's a pretty song too. Dark, haunting, with bass piano chords, strings, and great vocals. Is this really country? Sounds like pop to me.

Borderline - Jody Watley (4/5)

Jody Watley came onto the scene in the late '80s, scored 6 top 10 hits, won the Best New Artist Grammy (a jinxed award), and then was never heard from again. What's an has been '80s pop star to do? She could A) throw in the towel, B) resign herself to playing weddings and bar mitzvahs, or C) steal a hit from one of her '80s pop star peers that actually managed to keep her spotlight. Choosing C, wisely, Jody Watley has taken Madonna's first top 10 hit, given it a mellow, soulful twist, and re-emerged with something quite enjoyable that may return her to the spotlight, or at the very least, give her something to do other than appearing at elementary schools touting the importance of music education.

Monday, May 29, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 6/3/2006

1. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

So it’s a 9th week at #1 for Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Is there an end in sight? Apparently yes, and this could be it. The record company has decided to delete the single, removing it from their sales catalogue, so shops will only have remaining supplies to sell. Also, as the new rules state, deleted singles can only remain on the chart for 2 more weeks, so after next week, there will be no more “Crazy” on the chart at all. I’m hoping for Keane to finally unseat Gnarls come next Sunday.

2. I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker with Flowers in My Hair – Sandi Thom

Earlier this year, struggling singer Sandi Thom decided to stop playing clubs and instead perform from her flat via webcam. First night brought only 70 viewers, but by the middle of her second week of “gigs,” she had an audience of over 160,000—greater than the capacity of Wembley Stadium. Since then she’s become a hot property, signed with RCA, and how has her first single, at #2 no less.

5. Country Girl – Primal Scream

It’s a return to form for Primal Scream, the British indie rock band that first charted in 1990 at #16 with “Loaded.” Since then they’ve scored about 20 top 40 hits and a couple of top 10s, but this is their highest-charting entry. They haven’t had a hit at all for 4 years, so fans were rabid for something new and good, and the band delivered.

6. Nine2Five – Ordinary Boys vs. Lady Sovereign

Let’s set the stage. Two years ago Ordinary Boys hit the scene, scored a few top 20 hits, but didn’t appear destined for greatness. Last year, amidst rumblings that she was the “next big thing” in rap, Lady Sovereign appeared with a worthy single, “9 to 5,” which limped into the chart at #33, a sore disappointment. One of the remixes of the track was from the barely known band Ordinary Boys, whose ska sound fit well with Lady Sovereign’s track. Fast forward to this year, one of Ordinary Boys appears on Big Brother, the band subsequently re-releases “Boys Will Be Boys,” which catapults the band to fame as the single climbs the chart to #3. Now that they’re famous, why not share the wealth with Ms. Sovereign and release a proper new version of “9 to 5,” hence with have “Nine2Five,” the first top 10 hit for Lady Sovereign and the second for Ordinary Boys. Done deal.

7. Up All Night – Matt Willis

Between 2002 and 2004, boy/rock band Busted scored 8 top 3 hits, including 4 #1s. Despite such great success, the band split 2 years ago to pursue other projects. First Charlie came out with band Fightstar, hitting #9 with “Paint Your Target,” and them James scored with his band Son of Dork, hitting #3 with “Ticket Outta Loserville.” Landing between those peaks is third member Matt Willis, going solo rather than with a new band, but easily the most recognizable of the group, since he was the unofficial lead voice. He’s got a stomper of an 80s-inspired hit, quite good actually.

8. Teenage Life – Daz Simpson

Daz was this year’s UK entry in Eurovision. Lost, of course. And now we’re tortured by his single, which despite being the first top 10 hit by a UK Eurovision contestant since 1999, manages to sound like rubbish.

10. Fill My Little World – The Feeling

Rounding out the crop of strong top 10 movers (in the old days it would have been 6 debuts, but under current rules only Matt Willis is a debut, as everyone else charted last week on downloads) is the 2nd top 10 hit for The Feeling. I predicted great success for them upon the release of “Sewn,” #7 earlier this year, and still think they will be big. This a great follow-up, it’s #3 on the airplay chart, and their album comes out next week. Can’t wait!

14. Everybody’s Gone to War – Nerina Pallot

This is disappointing—I thought for sure this would be a top 10 hit (if not a contender for #1). It’s a great song, and it’s gotten massive airplay (it’s #4 this week). Too bad Nerina.

15. Is It Any Wonder? – Keane

Keane gets a big push from its first week digital sales to land at #15, putting them in excellent position to leap into the top 10 next week—possibly to #1.

19. Who Knew – Pink

Also coming in on downloads is Pink’s second single from current album I’m Not Dead. “Who Knew” is another winner for her, and should hit the top 10 next week.

22. Sin Sin Sin – Robbie Williams

Ouch! What happened here? Robbie Williams is a UK hit machine, but lands at a lowly #22 with “Sin Sin Sin.” And no, this isn’t on just downloads—this was its official first week of physical sales. This is Robbie’s 25th single, a collection that includes 6 #1s, and up until now, only 1 that didn’t go top 10 (1997’s #14 single, “South of the Border).” Who messed up? I think, for one, that they waited way too long to follow-up “Advertising Space,” (#8 last December), which got over-played on the radio, and wore people out. “Sin, Sin, Sin” isn’t a bad song, but it’s not that exciting either. I wonder if a 4th Intensive Care single will be forthcoming?

27. Heal the World – Michael Jackson

This one was also a real sore spot. The lowpoint of the Dangerous album, but yet Michael seems to have an affinity for it, since despite not even hitting the top 10 in the US, it was included in his 1995 History collection.

30. Upside Down – Jack Johnson

It’s a second top 40 hit for Jack Johnson, following the #24 release of “Better Together.” This one from the Curious George soundtrack.

37. Faster Kill Pussycat – Oakenfold Featuring Brittany Murphy

Paul Oakenfold, famous for “Starry Eyed Surprise,” is back, on downloads this week, and yes, that is the actress from Uptown Girls.

Crowded field next week… New singles from Keane, Pink, Oakenfold, Corinne Bailey Rae, Ronan Keating, and Loleata Holloway.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

George Michael returns

George Michael is preparing to release another album, his fifth solo release following Faith (1987), Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 (1990), Older (1996), and Patience (2004). The first single, "An Easier Affair," is apparently dedicated to female fans who didn't realize he was gay. If the album in fact comes out this year, it will be the shortest timespan between albums from him.

Hear a sample on his Web site:

Personal Chart, 5/27/2006

TW LW WKS Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... 5 ..... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... 9 ..... SOS - Rihanna (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 3 ... 10 ... You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (2 wks @ #1)
4 .... 6 .... 6 ..... Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers
5 .... 4 ... 10 ... Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (2 wks @ #1)
6 .... 9 .... 4 ..... Fill My Little World - The Feeling
7 .... 8 .... 7 ..... From Paris to Berlin - Infernal
8 ... 10 ... 5 ..... Bright Idea - Orson
9 ... 23 ... 2 ..... Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot
10 . 12 ... 3 ..... I'm With Stupid - Pet Shop Boys

US Chart Analysis, 6/3/2006

Billboard Hot 100:

1. Ridin' - Chamillionaire Featuring Krayzie Bone

Chamillionaire's first top 40 hit, "Ridin'" becomes his first #1 hit, ending the 3-week run at the top for Rihanna's "SOS." Chamillionaire's last single, "Turn It Up," just missed the top 40 when it peaked at #41 in January. "Ridin'" is the 9th #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 this year, and it marks an interesting turning point between the US and UK singles charts, in that, year-to-date, the traditionally slower US chart has had more #1 hits than that traditionally faster UK chart. Chamillionaire is the first American act to top the chart since Ne-Yo--the last three chart-toppers were by foreign artists from Jamaica (Sean Paul), Canada (Daniel Powter), and Barbados (Rihanna). Incidentally, these former #1s occupy places 2 through 4 on the chart this week.

5. Where'd You Go - Fort Minor Featuring Holly Brook

Fort Minor is the alter ego/pet project of Linkin Park founder Mike Shinoda. His act blends hip-hop, electronica, and rock elements--not unlike the alter ego/pet project of Blur founder Damon Albarn (Gorillaz). Holly Brook is a singer-songwriter. "Where'd You Go" holds at #5 this week.

6. Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers

"Dani California" has topped the modern rock chart for awhile now, but appears to be reaching its peak at #6 on the Hot 100. Still, that marks their second-best performance on the singles chart, bested only by #2 hit "Under the Bridge."

8. Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray

The Fray moves up 2 to #8 with their debut single, "Over My Head (Cable Car)." The Denver-based band also charted on the Hot 100 with their album's title track, "How to Save a Life."

9. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland

Up 21 spots this week and winning the Sales Gainer award is Nelly Furtado's 3rd top 40 single and 3rd top 10 hit, "Promiscuous." At #9, it matches the peak of her first single, "I'm Like a Bird." Given the single's strength, I'm predicting it will be her first #1. It's also the first top 40 appearance as an artist for well-known producer Timbaland, famous for his work with many hip-hop and pop artists, including Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake, and Snoop Dogg.

13. Me & U - Cassie

The biggest move within the top 40 was made by Cassie this week, up 25 spots to #13 with her first single "Me & U." She's not much of a singer (and frankly this isn't much of a song). Why is she so popular? Who knows.

14. Unfaithful - Rihanna

Rihanna moves up 2 to #14 with "Unfaithful," which appears to be losing chart steam faster than anticipated. She should stick with dance pop--SOS is fantastic--but this is just so-so.

16. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira

What should be a #1 hit for Shakira slides back 3 spots after peaking at #13. Her label's decision of not making this available as a digital single has robbed Shakira from having her first #1 hit. There's still time, as the single's airplay is peaking right now (she's currently #1 at top 40 airplay).

29. Let U Go - Ashley Parker Angel

The biggest entry in the top 40 this week is actually a re-entry. Ashley Parker Angel's "Let U Go" hit #12 in its second week, but quickly fell. Now it's back, possibly on airplay this time after an initial sales spike.

31. So What - Field Mob Featuring Ciara

It's up only 2 spots this week, but still manages to win the Airplay Gainer award. How can that be?

38. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

So then the only legitimate debut in the top 40 comes in at #38 (up from #54) from Gnarls Barkley. As I've written about extensively, "Crazy" is already a massive hit in the UK, where it spends an 8th week at #1 this week, and is responsible for the above-mentioned tidbit about how slow the UK chart has been in comparison to the US chart. Surely destined to be a big hit in the US this summer.

Singles Reviews

Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (5/5)

Keane's first single from upcoming Under the Iron Sea retains the bands tight piano-driven sound, but amps it up louder and faster than anything we've previously heard from them. "Is It Any Wonder?" also features electric guitar, which was completely absent from first album Hopes & Fears. While upbeat and thoroughly enjoyable, this song has an undercurrent of the political--namely disillusionment with one's leaders (i.e. Blair and Labour). Quite quite good.

Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland (5/5)

Wow! I liked Nelly Furtado's "Turn Off The Light" and "Try," but nothing she's put out comes close to being as enjoyable as this single. Promiscuous plays out like a flirtation between its two horny performers--Canadian pop singer Furtado and American rapper Timbaland. The relentless beat underscores a happy fusion of hip-hop of '80s electro. It's not unlike a lot of what Gwen Stefani's last album was about, but it manages to be much more enjoyable. I think we have our summer of '06 hit.

Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot (5/5)

Politics has become a recurring theme in recent pop releases, none more so than in Nerina Pallot's "Everybody's Gone to War," a mid-tempo, pop/rock number that's chock full of great lines and hooks. "I've got a friend--he's a pure-bread killing machine...I think he might be dead by Christmas." Sounds dark--and it is--but it works. The British single begs easy comparison to KT Tunstall, but still delivers an effective and enjoyable pop tune.

I'm With Stupid - Pet Shop Boys (4.5/5)

I used to be big Pet Shop Boys fan, but for the last few years, they haven't been that interesting. This could change with their forthcoming album, Fundamental. "I'm With Stupid," its first single, reaches back to their late '80s/early '90s sound that made their albums Behaviour and Very their best. In doing so, they've put out their best single in a very long time. It's also quite political, as a reference to the relationship between Blair and Bush.

Up All Night - Matt Willis (4/5)

Former Busted member Matt Willis delivers a great pop single, charged with pulsing '80s keyboards and electric guitars. The Busted sound rarely did it for me, but this is great fun.

I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker With Flowers in My Hair - Sandi Thom (4/5)

Sandi Thom is a British pop artist whose fame was self-generated by becoming one of the early internet-only broadcast artists. Now she's got a legit release, a short, sweet, pop number with nostalgia for '69 and '77--when "revolution" was in the air. Ignore the obvious error that punk rockers have dye and gel--not flowers--in their hair. This is a fun first release.

Monday, May 22, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 5/27/2006

1. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

Crack open the record books. Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" tops the British singles chart this week for the 8th straight week, making it the longest-running #1 single in the UK in over 12 years. Last time there was a longer-running #1 hit was in 1994 when Wet Wet Wet's "Love Is All Around" spent an amazing 15 weeks at the top. In crossing the 7-week threshhold, it spends longer at #1 than recent pop "classics," by the Spice Girls ("Wannabe"), Cher ("Believe"), and Tony Christie ["Is This the Way to (Amarillo)"].

2. From Paris to Berlin - Infernal

In its 6th week in the top 40, Infernal reaches a new peak of #2, up from #3. The track has become the surprise dance hit of the year.

4. Say I - Christina Milian Featuring Young Jeezy

American Pop/R&B Singer Christina Milian is back, scoring her 5th top 10 hit with "Say I," (her 6th if you count vocals on Romeo's "It's All Gravy"). Not quite as good as her 2004 smash, "Dip It Low," but it's still pretty decent R&B Dance Pop.

6. Touch It - Busta Rhymes

After hitting #1 as guest rapper on last year's Pussycat Dolls' hit, "Don't Cha," Busta Rhymes is back on his own, scoring his 5th top 10 hit. His most notable UK hit remains "Turn It Up/Fire It Up" which hit #2 while I was living in London in 1998.

9. First Time - Sunblock Featuring Robin Beck

Thought Sunblock would be a one-hit wonder with their Baywatch retread "I'll Be Ready?" Think again. The dance act is back with "First Time," now with vocals from Robin Beck. Whoever that is.

11. Bright Idea - Orson

I thought for sure this would go top 10, following in the footsteps of their great first single, "No Tomorrow." Their debut album, Bright Idea, is out today.

15. I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker - Sandi Thom
37. Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot

Here's a treat. With summer coming, and public opinion in the UK (as well as the US) is turning against foreign war efforts, the '60s are making a comeback. Sandi Thom's fun pop/folk song reminisces--lightly--about '69 and '77 when "revolution" was in the air. Along with Nerina Pallot's "Everybody's Gone to War," another great pop track (very KT Tunstall-ish), these singles are in stores today. Expect both in the top 10 next week--perhaps finally topping Gnarls Barkley for #1.

22. Jam - Michael Jackson

It's a shame he never recorded a "Peanut Butter" or "Toast" to go with it.

23. Country Girl - Primal Scream

Haven't heard it --but interested!

28. Fill My Little World - The Feeling

Second single from The Feeling is just is satisfying as the first. This could go top 10 next week, although the competition is fierce. Great song though--as samples from their forthcoming debut album are great too.

Personal Chart, 5/20/2006

TW LW WKS Title Artist
1 .... 3 .... 8 ..... SOS - Rihanna (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... 4 ..... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane
3 .... 1 .... 9 ..... You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (2 wks @ #1)
4 .... 2 .... 9 ..... Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (2 wks @ #1)
5 .... 6 ... 46 .... Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
6 ... 12 ... 5 ..... Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers
7 .... 5 .... 9 ..... Who Am I - Will Young
8 .... 9 .... 6 ..... From Paris to Berlin - Infernal
9 ... 18 ... 3 ..... Fill My Little World - The Feeling
10 .. 15 .. 4 ..... Bright Idea - Orson

Back from Vacation

My blog's been silent because I was on vacation. Got some catching up to do!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Personal Chart, 5/13/2006

TW LW Wks Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 8 .... You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (2 wks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... 8 .... Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... 7 .... SOS - Rihanna
4 ... 10 ... 3 .... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane
5 .... 4 .... 8 .... Who Am I - Will Young
6 .... 6 ... 45 ... Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield (3 wks @ #1)
7 .... 8 .... 6 .... Naive - The Kooks
8 .... 5 ... 11 ... The Hardest Part - Coldplay
9 ... 11 ... 5 .... From Paris to Berlin - Infernal
10 .. 14 .. 4 .... Get Together - Madonna

May I Introduce: Orson

If you haven't heard of Orson yet, you really should. They're this year's breakout American rock band. Still not ringing a bell? Orson, just like The Killers and the Scissor Sisters, are building up a fanbase in the UK first before hitting the streets of their homeland. They've already had a big top 10 hit there, "No Tomorrow," (#3 last month on my chart), and are set for another top 10 hit this month with "Bright Idea," the title track of their forthcoming album (Out May 29 in Britain).

Here's their Web site:

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Feeder to Release The Singles

Feeder is coming out with their greatest hits collection, The Singles, on May 15. While this sounds like an all-inclusive collection, as usual, some things are missing. Here's a look at the tracklist:

1. Come Back Around - #14 in 2002
2. Buck Rogers - Their first top 10, #5 in 2001
3. Shatter - Double A-side with "Tender," #11 in 2005
4. Just The Way I'm Feeling - 2nd top 10, #10 in 2003
5. Lost And Found - The new track, #12 this week
6. Just A Day - #12 in 2001
7. High - #24 in 1997
8. Comfort In Sound - Released in 2003, but didn't chart
9. Feeling A Moment - #13 in 2005
10. Burn The Bridges - Despite the title, not a single.
11. Tumble And Fall - #5 in 2005, their other big hit
12. Forget About Tomorrow - #12 in 2003
13. Tender - #11 (with "Shatter") in 2005
14. Pushing The Senses - #30 in 2005
15. Save Us - Also not a single, what's going on here?!
16. Seven Days In The Sun - #14 in 2001
17. Insomnia - #22 in 1999
18. Turn - #27 in 2001
19. Yesterday Went Too Soon - #20 in 1999
20. Suffocate - #37 in 1998

So what's missing? Their first three singles--Tangerine, Cement, and Crash; Day in Day Out (#31 in 1999); Paper Faces (#41 in 1999), and Find The Colour (#24 in 2003).

UK Chart Analysis, 5/13/2006

It's a sixth straight week at the top for Gnarls Barkley, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers score their second #2 single. Click below for more.

1. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

It's 6 weeks at the top for Gnarls Barkley. Their album, St. Elsewhere, was #1 last week on the albums chart, but succumbed to Snow Patrol's new album, Eyes Open, this week. It's biggest challenger for #1 next week: LL Cool J and Jennifer Lopez.

2. Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers' 18th top 40 hit ties with "By The Way" to become their biggest--their second (along with the aforementioned) to hit #2. "Dani California" is their first release from Stadium Arcadium, out tomorrow.

3. Somebody's Watching Me - Beatfreakz

After a lousy first quarter, dance music is making a comeback this spring. Beatfreakz joins Infernal and Chicane in the top 10 as the latest hit dance track, which uses a liberal looped-vocal sample of Michael Jackson from Rockwell's '80s hit, "Somebody's Watching Me."

7. Stoned in Love - Chicane Featuring Tom Jones

It debuted last week at #7 and this week it's up to #8. The formerly uncommon sight of a single actually rising on the chart is no longer so uncommon.

12. Lost & Found - Feeder

Feeder score their 18th top 40 hit this week with "Lost & Found," the obligatorily new track from their forthcoming greatest hits package, The Singles (out May 15). I thought it might go top 10, as it's a pretty good track--more upbeat than the releases from their last album, the mellow Pushing the Senses. Considering they've only had 3 top 10 hits though, #12 isn't bad for them.

15. Control Myself - LL Cool J Featuring Jennifer Lopez

Good download sales lands LL Cool J Featuring Jennifer Lopez's "Control Myself" at #15--watch it contend for #1 next week.

22. Remember the Time - Michael Jackson

Lowest placing yet for these re-releases. Snooze.

23. But It's Better If You Do - Panic at the Disco

Okay. So this group sounds like it would be interesting. And by its name, you'd think it was a Scissor Sisters clone. But it's really nothing of the sort, as they don't sound anything like disco at all. What a let down.

24. Hoppipolla - Sigur Ros

This hit #45 in December, and since then has apparently been shown on TV in Britain, so it gets a re-release to let it land at #24. Better, but still not a slam dunk.

26. Fly Me Away - Goldfrapp

By the law of diminishing returns, the fouth Supernature single becomes the first to fall outside the top 20. Sounds lowsy, but consider that prior to this album, the group had scored only 1 top 20 single (and it peaked at #20). "Fly Me Away" is a lightweight track--a disappointing choice from a hard-hitting album that had lots of other good choices.

Preview Pet Shop Boys' Fundamental

Click here to preview the Pet Shop Boys' promising new album, Fundamental, out May 22:

I'm With Stupid - the cool retro first single.
Psychological - sounds weird, but interesting.
The Soddom and Gomorrah Show - great title, sounds like a good song.
I Made My Excuses and Left - an electronic ballad with real strings, sounds pretty.
Minimal - Set to be second single, dancy, sounds good.
Numb - Another ballad, almost Moby-like, sounds okay.
God Willing - Sounds dramatic, lots of crescendo.
Luna Park - A reflective ballad, sounds good.
Casanova in Hell - Weird ballad with video game-like sounds, cool.
Twentieth Century - Interesting, electronic bass, but not a fast song, then switches to guitars.
Indefinite Leave to Remain - A ballad, sounds okay. My least favorite of the bunch.
Integral - Fast track, a bit bombastic, okay.

US Chart Analysis, 5/13/2006

Rihanna, finally on sale, ousts Daniel Powter from #1 after a 5-week run at at the top. Nick Lachey also scores big. Lots of diversity in the top 10 too. Click below to read the analysis.

Billboard Hot 100:

1. S.O.S. - Rihanna

For weeks I complained that Rihanna was losing money since S.O.S. wasn't for sale, despite it having huge amounts of airplay. As such, it languished in the '30s, but now, finally available as a download, the single shoots up the chart--33 places--to land at #1. This is the second-greatest jump to #1 ever, bested only by Kelly Clarksons 51 place move to #1 with her 2002 debut single, "A Moment Like This." "S.O.S." is Rihanna's biggest hit to date, besting the #2 peak of her debut last summer, "Pon Da Replay." Rihanna knocks Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" from #1, where it stayed for 5 weeks.

6. What's Left of Me - Nick Lachey

Nick Lachey makes a powerful 27 spot jump into the top 10 with "What's Left of Me," this week's Sales Gainer winner. The soaring track is by far his most successful solo accomplishment, and as a PR move, delivers sympathy from his recent divorce from Jessica Simpson. He'll have to keep rising to improve upon the chart performance he had with his former bandmates in 98 Degrees--the group had 3 top 5 hits.

8. Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

After peaking last week at #5, "Unwritten" begins its descent. Next up for her--"Single."

Finally, some comments on the top 10 in general. Last week I posted a comment about how charts used to be more diverse than they are today, but I'll have to eat my words in looking at this week's top 10. Perhaps the increasingly relevance of sales over airplay has encouraged greater diversity of musical styles. This week there is dance pop, dancehall, adult pop, teen pop, southern rap, and alternative; an even split between black and white artists; and artists from the US, UK, Canada, Barbados, and Jamaica. Not bad.

19. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira

Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" would be in the top 10, maybe even #1, if it was for sale, but it's not doing bad, climbing 8 places to #19.

23. Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks stick to their guns with "Not Ready to Make Nice," which is up 5 to #23.

25. Gimme That - Chris Brown

Chris Brown has this week's highest top 40 entry, up 17 spots from #42. "Gimme That" is his 3rd top 40 hit, following the #1 "Run It" and #7 "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 5/6/2006

UK Singles:

1. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

It's a fifth week at #1 for Gnarls Barkley, which also tops the airplay chart for a fifth week. Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California" is the strongest contender to unseat Gnarls tomorrow.

3. From Paris to Berlin - Infernal

In it's 3rd week on the chart (2nd with physical release), Infernal manages that rare feat of actually climbing the chart (more common these days with the downloads sales rules), but still, in a fairly competitive sales week, and for a dance track, it's impressive.

4. Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs

White Stripes member Jack White's new band scores gold this week with their debut single, which manages to best the highest peak of any White Stripes release--"7 Nation Army" made #7.

5. Bang Bang You're Dead - Dirty Pretty Things

Another band created from other bands debuts at #5 with their first single, "Bang Bang You're Dead." The group includes Gary Powell, formerly of the Libertines, making it the second spin-off band from that group, following Pete Doherty's Babyshambles.

7. You're All I Have - Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol is back this week, up 23 spots with "You're All I Have," the first single from their fabulous new album, Eyes Open. (I'll be reviewing it soon, and it's really really good). This is their second top 10 hit. The group has been around for a few years, but didn't make it big until the release of "Run" in 2004, which hit #5. "Run" was a soaring piece of anthemic rock that fit perfectly in the void created between Coldplay albums. Snow Patrol wasn't the only band to benefit from the Coldplay draught (Keane, Athlete, Feeder, Starsailor, Supergrass etc. all came out with similarly emotional, piano-driven works in that time), but it was one of the better ones. Unlike "Run," "You're All I Have" is upbeat and fast. A great get-goin-in-the-morning song.

8. Stoned in Love - Chicane Featuring Tom Jones

It's a dirty little secret that Tom Jones still scores hits in the UK every once in awhile (he had 3 top 10s in 1999-2000). Back now with Chicane, the dance act that gave Marie Brennan of Clannad a top 10 hit, "Saltwater," in 1999 and then a #1 hit for Bryan Adams, "Don't Give Up," in 2000. Chicane had been struggling for a hit lately--there last 2 releases were re-releases of the aforementioned "Saltwater" and "Don't Give Up,"--both of which landed eerily at #43.

11. Who Am I - Will Young

After seeing his first 9 singles hit the top 10, including 4 #1s, Will Young misses out this week with "Who Am I," the third single from Keep On. It's too bad, as it's a decent song--almost as good as "All Time Love." Still, he's certainly doing better than his former Pop Idol competitor Gareth Gates, who was recently dropped from his record label.

12. Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers

First single from new album Stadium Arcadium sells well on digital sales only. Top 10 next week with physical sales? You betcha. Great return single for the 'Peppers.

13. Yo! (Excuse Me Miss) - Chris Brown

After hitting #2 with debut single, "Run It!," he's got to be a bit disappointed with this low placing. Better luck next time Chris.

18. Black or White - Michael Jackson

I'm sure he asks this question while looking in the mirror each morning.

21. Somebody's Watching Me - Beatfreakz

Speaking of Michael Jackson, here he is again at #21. '80s group Rockwell, a project for Barry Gordy's son, had 1 hit--"Somebody's Watching Me," which featured prominent backing vocals from Michael and Jermaine Jackson. This dance single--another in the looped-vocal sample genre--drops Rockwell in favor of Jackson's vocals to great effect. This is charting on digital only, so it should go top 10 next week.

30. Ain't Got No - I Got Life - Nina Simone vs. Groovefinder

No audience for Nina Simone--too bad, it's silly fun.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Personal Chart, 5/6/2006

TW LW WKS Title - Artist
1 .... 6 .... 7 .... You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... 7 .... Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... 6 .... S.O.S. (Rescue Me) - Rihanna
4 .... 4 .... 7 .... Who Am I - Will Young
5 .... 2 ... 10 ... The Hardest Part - Coldplay
6 .... 5 ... 44 ... Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield (3 wks @ #1)
7 .... 9 ... 25 ... Bad Day - Daniel Powter (2 wks @ #1)
8 ... 12 ... 5 .... Naive - The Kooks
9 .... 7 ... 10 ... No Tomorrow - Orson
10 . 22 ... 2 .... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane

Scissor Sisterrs News

Kudos to Robin for bringing this to my attention:
Rolling Stone update on Scissor Sisters upcoming album.

Cannot wait!!!!

Singles Reviews

I haven't done these for awhile, so there's quite a few. Snow Patrol is definitely pick of the week.

You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (5/5)
Who Am I - Will Young (4.5/5)
Most Precious Love (Freemasons Remix) - Blaze Featuring Barbara Tucker (4/5)
Faster Kill Pussycat - Oakenfold Featuring Brittany Murphy (4/5)
Yo! (Excuse Me Miss) - Chris Brown (4/5)
Ain't Got No - I Got Life - Nina Simone vs. Groovefinder (3.5/5)
Steady As She Goes - Raconteurs (4.5/5)
Somebody's Watching Me - Beatfreakz (4/5)
Fly Me Away - Goldrapp (3/5)
Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers (4.5)

Click below for the reviews.

You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (5/5)

Snow Patrol still feel like a new band, since they didn't break through big until they released their 3rd album, Final Straw, 2 years ago. Hot on its heels, and the success of if its two brilliant top 10 singles--"Run" and "Chocolate" comes the first single from their new album Eyes Open. "You're All I Have" is energetic, tight, instantly memorable--in short, brilliant. I just got the album, and it's really quite good. This is a good band at its peak.

Who Am I - Will Young (4.5/5)

Will Young follows up the fabulous "All Time Love" with another winner from his 3rd album, Keep On. "Who Am I" is another ballad, and although more traditionally pop than "All Time Love," it's still pretty decent sensitive, piano-driven stuff. Will's made a pretty wacky video for it too, complete with some Star Wars cameos.

Most Precious Love (Freemasons Remix) - Blaze Featuring Barbara Tucker (4/5)

Here's yet another decent house track trying for success in the current house unfriendly chart environment. It sort of sounds like another current dance track, Joey Negro's "Make on a Move On Me," but who cares. The Freemasons Remix puts a fresh spin on this year-old track.

Faster Kill Pussycat - Oakenfold Featuring Brittany Murphy (4/5)

It's been 4 years since "Starry Eyed Surprise" made DJ/remixer Paul Oakenfold into an artist in his own right. Back now with Brittany Murphy (not sure if it's the actress, let's hope not), he's got a slick, sexy electro/dance number. Not as good as "Starry Eyed," but not bad.

Yo! (Excuse Me Miss) - Chris Brown (4/5)

I didn't care for "Run It!," but I actually like "Yo!" It's got a cool retro R&B groove, it's kind of sexy, and Chris Brown sounds pretty good. It didn't do that great chartwise--failed to make the top 10 if both the US and UK, despite "Run It!" being a big hit in both countries.

Ain't Got No - I Got Life - Nina Simone vs. Groovefinder (3.5/5)

This is worth listening to for its kitsch value. French singer Nina Simone was a jazz, soul, and pop singer notorious for being feisty both on and off the stage. DJ Groovefinder has upgraded one of her classic tracks, an inventory of her body parts that includes her "boobies" as a celebration of what she has--despite the odds. Historical and fun.

Steady As She Goes - Raconteurs (4.5/5)

Jack White's new band, sans Meg White, drops the soulful minimalism of White Stripes in favor of more traditional indie rock territory. There's an obligatory rock swagger present, and some decent guitar work. The album should be interesting too.

Somebody's Watching Me - Beatfreakz (4/5)

The looped-vocal '80s thing is getting old, but yet, I find it oddly appealing, especially when it samples Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me," an '80s track recording by Barry Gordy's son featuring vocals from Michael and Jermaine Jackson. The video is a great animated sendup of "Thriller."

Fly Me Away - Goldrapp (3/5)

I love Goldfrapp's latest album, but this is a really uninsipired choice for a single. It's one of my least favorite tracks on the album, a mellow mid-tempo pop number, that really isn't that memorable. It's also destined to become fodder for an airline or travel web site advertisement. Alison Goldfrapp is probably accepting offers as I write this. Why didn't they choose "Satin Chic" with its edge electronic player-piano backing? Oh well.

Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers (4.5)

The 'Peppers are hotter than ever lately, and "Dani California," first track from forthcoming Stadium Arcadium is classic RHCP stuff. Heaven forbid they ever sang about one of the other 49 states, but they do the modern CA rock thing better than anyone. They've certainly been through a lot too, so it's great that they've managed to be relevant again.