Monday, January 30, 2006

Single Reviews

Thunder In My Heart Again - Meck (4/5)
Grow - Kubb (4/5)
Ride a White Horse - Goldfrapp (4/5)
Analogue (All I Want) - A-Ha (4/5)
Do You Ever Think of Me? - Antony Costa (2/5)
Slipping Away - Moby (3.5/5)

Click below to read the full reviews.
Thunder In My Heart Again - Meck (4/5)

Here's a fun slice of retro, and I'm not talking all the '80s stuff, but pure '70s disco. Quite fun. I think this is either a remake or a remix, not sure which. (2/6)

Grow - Kubb (4/5)

The piano and Keane-like vocals announce that this is clearly in the Coldplay/Keane & Co. vein. Unlike Starsailor's recent single though, this is quite welcome. The piano is great, and I like the singer. Sounds a bit treacly, but it's nice enough to not make one ill. The band is quite good looking too--check out their site. (2/6)

Ride a White Horse - Goldfrapp (4/5)

"Number One" was a disappointing choice for a single I thought, so it's with open arms that I embrace "Ride a White Horse," a great beat-driven thumping Goldfrapp stomper. Very glam and very hot. (2/13)

Analogue (All I Want) - A-Ha (4/5)

Remember "Take On Me?" A-Ha is back and in good form. If you're expecting something light and frothy, you're in for a pleasant surprise. This track opens with a somber bass, keyboard, and piano combo and guitars drive home the chorus. It's surprisingly quite good. (1/23)

Do You Ever Think of Me? - Antony Costa (2/5)

Antony Costa always held a special place in my heart while in Blue. He seemed to be their Joey Fatone--the one that made you laugh, but you weren't sure if he'd make it. This sounds like a Ronan Keating reject. Costa is the last of the Blue boys to record something away from the band, and sadly, it's the most disappointing. Lee Ryan may be getting the most attention, but my money's with Simon Webbe. (2/6)

Slipping Away - Moby (3.5/5)

We all know Moby's a musical genius, so of course this is great, and oh-so Moby, but really not that different from the mellow stuff from Play or 18. Not bad, but not special. If you've heard "Rushing," "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad," "Porcelain," "Signs of Love," "One of These Mornings," or "Sunday (The Day Before My Birthday)," then you've heard this. (1/23)

Sugababes Do Arctic Monkeys

No, it's not an orgy, but a cover of "I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor," slated as a B-side for their upcoming third Taller in More Ways single, "Red Dress." I assume this will be the first recording to feature the voice of new member Amelle Berrabah.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 2/4/2006

A posthumous release from the Notorious B.I.G. gives the dead rapper his first UK #1, while very much alive Arctic Monkeys take the album chart by storm with their debut release. Will Young remains at the top of the airplay chart for a second week. Click below to read more.


1. Nasty Girl - The Notorious BIG Featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge, and Avery Storm

Here's a surprise #1, for several reasons. First, the principal artist has been dead nearly 9 years now, yet manages to keep churning out hits from some mysterious back catalogue of material (2Pac manages a similar feat, well over 10 years since his death). Second, this single debuted at #2 last week and manages the rare feat of climbing up to #1. It happens every once in awhile--last I believe was James Blunt's climb to #1 with "You're Beautiful" last summer. This is the first #1 hit for The Notorious BIG, whose previous best was the #6 placing of "Mo Money, Mo Problems," a US #1.

9. Boys Will Be Boys - The Ordinary Boys

In the old days this would be a debut, but because of the integration of downloads and the rule that says a single can chart as long as its not over a year old, this track entered the top 40 two weeks ago based on early download sales before the re-release of the official single this week. Therefore, the "new" single climbes up from #30 to #9, the original having been released in June 2005. Of further interest here is that the lead singer, Preston, almost had no idea that he would have a top 10 hit this week. If the rules of reality TV are to be believed, Preston was until Friday in the Celebrity Big Brother house, and therefore lacked the knowledge of the outside world that would inform him that his band was releasing a single last week to cash in on his appearance on the show. I suppose it would easily squelch any bad feelings he may have had upon his eviction.

10. Analogue (All I Want) - A-Ha

Remember A-Ha? They were the '80s hitmakers responsible for "Take On Me," a #1 hit in the US and #2 in the UK. They also had a UK #1 at that time, "The Sun Always Shines on TV," and a string of 6 other top 10 singles that lasted until 1988. They kept at it in the '90s, completely forgotten in the US, but scored only a handful of top 10 hits. This week they're back with a hot new track that's their biggest hit in 18 years. Although not as blissfully poppy as "Take On Me," "Analogue" does manage to cash in on the retro trend a bit, even though it's sound is quite fresh. Good work.

15. Angel - Pharrell

This must be a disappointment. After scoring his highest charting hit ever (#3) with Gwen Stefani in December with "Can I Have It Like That," Pharrell's latest lands outside the top 10. I can't say I'm surprised, as it's really not that great.

24. This Time - Starsailor

Also disappointing is the low placement for Starsailor. Once critically acclaimed, there sound lately has turned too bland and this single, while okay, is really nothing special.

30. You Get What You Give - LMC Featuring Rachel McFarlane

Now this really is a surprise. LMC's first single, "Take Me to the Clouds Above," spent 2 weeks at #1 about 2 years ago. Surely this remake of New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" would have logically followed in its footsteps as at least a top 10 hit, but alas, it's not to be. Another victim in the current dance downturn. It will be interested to see how The Source Feat. Candi Staton fares in 2 weeks with the re-release of "You Got The Love," which still sounds fresh and has some great new remixes.

40. Fire - Ferry Corsten

Another decent dance track that is destined for the clearance bin, since the audience just isn't there at the moment.


Get out the champagne. Arctic Monkeys has the first major new hit album of the year with Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. Heralded as the new Oasis, Arctic Monkeys have taken the music world by storm over the last few months. The album sold a whopping 360,000 copies last week, breaking the record previously held by Hear'Say for best first week sales of a debut album. The record for overall first week sales still belongs to Oasis for their third album, Be Here Now. Arctic Monkeys have been around for some time, playing gigs and distributing their music on the web. With record deal in hand, the band had a surprise #1 hit last October with their first single, "I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor." They followed it up last week with a second #1, "When The Sun Goes Down." Now they have a huge huge album. Time well tell about the Oasis comparison though, as some reviews suggest the album is overhyped.

Almost forgettable with such a big #1 is the debut at #2 of Richard Aschroft's third solo album, Keys to the World. Ashcroft, formerly of The Verve, has crafted what is being called his most accessible effort yet, and features "Break the Night With Colour," a big airplay hit. Lame Daniel O'Donnell debuts at #5 with From Daniel With Love, billed as "A Collection of 20 Great Love Songs." Right. At #9 is a debut from The Kooks, Inside In/Inside Out. The Ordinary Boys, benefiting from a member's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother and the re-release of "Boys Will Be Boys" re-enters the chart at #22 with Brassbound, which previously peaked at #31. A-Ha is back and debuts at #24 with Analogue, which features current top 10 hit "Analogue (All I Want)."


Will Young spends a second week at #1 with "All Time Love," but it looks like his days are numbered, as a handful of contenders make big strides into the top 10. At #4, up from #15 is the disco-infused remix of "Thunder in My Heart Again" by Meck Featuring Leo Sayer. It's not out until Feb. 20, but Madonna's "Sorry," the follow-up to her massive "Hung Up," is already #5 in airplay, up from #27. Surely a strong bet for #1. Kubb had a minor top 40 last year, but look set to have a big one in "Grow," which moves up from #23 to #6. Beyonce moves up 3 spots to #7 with "Check on It" and Starsailor moves back into the top 10 at #10 with "This Time."

Keane's Rice-Oxley Looking Good

Tim Rice-Oxley has always been my favorite member of Keane. He's their principal songwriter and piano/keyboard player. IMO, the most talented of the group. He's also the best looking, and it looks like he's trimmed his mop of hair of possibly slimmed down a bit (all that touring must be a great diet, looks like hard work). Go here, select "gallery" and pic #16.

This month's Q Magazine affirms that Keane's new album will be out in May. Although annoying that they get compared to Coldplay so much, it's been described as their Rush of Blood to the Head--darker and more expansive than Hopes and Fears.

Best Films of 2005

It's off topic, I know, but I can't resist. Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday. Here are my 10 favorite movies of 2005 in order:

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Munich
3. Walk The Line
4. Match Point
5. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
6. Pride & Prejudice
7. Capote
8. Crash
9. Good Night, and Good Luck
10. Transamerica

Thursday, January 26, 2006

US Chart Analysis, 2/4/2006

Beyonce racks up her third #1 solo hit, while James Blunt gets a top 10 single and album. Jamie Foxx tops the albums chart and The Pussycat Dolls top the airplay chart. Click below for full details.

Billboard Hot 100:

Beyonce (Featuring Slim Thug) steals #1 from Nelly and earns her third #1 hit as a soloist with "Check On It." Beyonce had 2 big #1 hits in 2003, "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy," and is now 1 #1 hit shy of the four #1s racked up by her former group, Destiny's Child. The track was also this week's Airplay Gainer winner. Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" makes a strong move within the top 10, up 6 to #4. James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" moves into the top 10 at #8 (up from #15).

A large group of singles make moves of 10 spots or greater outside the top 10. Natasha Bedingfield moves up 14 spots this week to #14 with "Unwritten," besting the #17 peak of "These Words." In the UK, "These Words" was a #1 hit, while "Unwritten" peaked at #6. "Unwritten" was the biggest Sales Gainer of the week. Chris Brown's "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)," his follow-up to #1 hit "Run It," moves up 11 spots to #19. "I'm in Love With a Stripper" by T-Pain (Featuring Mike Jones) is up 10 to #21 and Ashlee Simpson's "L.O.V.E." is up 11 to #22. Why anyone is buying/listening to this song is a mystery to me. Eminem's "Shake That" at #23 also moves up 11 spots. Lastly, Gavin DeGraw's "We Belong Together," which is not a Mariah Carey remake, is up 12 to #26.

Just 2 new entries in the top 40 this week. Leading the pack at #29 (up from #49) is Sean Paul with "Temperature," his 7th top 40 hit and the follow-up to the top 10 hit "We Be Burnin'." His biggest solo hit is "Get Busy," which spent 3 weeks at #1 in 2003, but his biggest hit overall is Beyonce's "Baby Boy" where he was the featured rapper. The other new entry is hi-NRG dance cut "Everytime We Touch" by Cascada.

Billboard 200:

Jamie Foxx's Unpredictable returns to #1 for a third non-consecutive week at the top. The Legend of Johnny Cash, the fabulous Johnny Cash greatest hits collection, is up 5 to #5, a new peak for the album. It's success was no doubt buoyed by Best Picture, Actor, and Actress (all Comedy/Musical) Golden Globe wins for "Walk The Line" Monday evening. The Walk The Line Soundtrack moves up 9 spots to #29. James Blunt has a lot to celebrate this week. In addition to getting his first US top 10 hit, he's also got his first top 10 album, as Back to Bedlam moves up 4 spots to #9 this week. Destiny's Child's #1s gets a slight bump off the success of "Check On It," moving up 6 spots to #19.

Radio & Records Top 40 airplay:

The Pussycat Dolls spent a second week at #1 with "Stickwitu." It's likely their last week at the top, as Beyonce's "Check On It" moves up 2 to #2 with an eye for #1. Fall Out Boy scores their second top 10 hit with "Dance, Dance," up 2 to #11. Nelly and Eminem are tied for this week's biggest mover. Nelly's "Grillz" moves up 7 to #14, while Eminem's "Shake That" is up 7 to #24. Also making good moves are Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away," up 5 to #19 and Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It," up 5 to #17. As I predicted earlier in the week, Gwen Stefani scores her 6th top 40 from Love.Angel.Music.Baby this week, as "Crash" enters the top 40 at #38 (up from #50). Also entering the top 40 at #40 is Mary J. Blige with "Be Without You," her 9th top 40 hit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Scissor Sisters Prep New Album

The Scissor Sisters are back in the studio, prepping the follow-up to their massive debut, Scissor Sisters, Britain's best-selling album of 2004.

See exclusive photos at Thought Not. (Above photo courtesy of

Singles Reviews

Reviewed this week:

"You Got The Love" - The Source Featuring Candi Staton (4.5/5)
"Doctor Pressure" - Mylo vs. Miami Sound Machine (4/5)
"Conceived" - Beth Orton (3/5)
"Run It!" - Chris Brown (2.5/5)

Click below to read the reviews.

"You Got The Love" - The Source Featuring Candi Staton (4.5/5)

Some listeners will be annoyed that this is the third re-release of this single, but since I wasn't really into it until now, I don't mind. Sex And The City fans will recognize it instantly--it's the music playing in the final scene of the series finale. Since it's a dance track, there's probably lots of remixes kicking around, but the Now Voyager Remix is the one from SATC and I think it's great. I've only heard a sample of the new remix, but it sounds like it doesn't stray far from the Now Voyager Remix. Great house dance classic. (2/6)

"Doctor Pressure" - Mylo (4/5)

"Drop the Pressure" was an underground dance hit that crossed over into the mainstream to hit #19 in October 2004. Word of his hip, miminalist dance music spread and two more top 20 hits followed. Finally, Mylo's growing fame reached a critical mass in September 2005 with the release of "Doctor Pressure," a mash-up of his first single and Miami Sound Machine's (back before Gloria got top billing) "Dr. Beat." As mash-ups go, it's a match made in heaven, as the two songs sound like they are made for each other. And the minimalist "Drop the Pressure" benefits from having an injection of sass, couresty of Ms. Estefan's classic. (US release)

"Conceived" - Beth Orton (3/5)

Beth Orton returns with this early release from her upcoming fourth album, Comfort of Strangers (out Feb. 13). It unfolds like an optimistic sunny afternoon, bass and piano driven with a smattering of other stringed instruments. Enjoyable, but not Earth-shattering. (1/30)

Run It!" - Chris Brown (Featuring Juelz Santana) (2.5/5)

After Usher and Ciara it seemed that crunk had played itself out--then came teenager Chris Brown to carry the torch of the R&B minimalist-beat driven trend. This was a big hit in the U.S., and probably will be in the UK too. I find myself craving the bridge because it provides some actual melody. Not bad, but it's just not my cuppa tea. (1/30)

Confessions on a Stadium Tour

Rumor has it that Madonna is planning to tour this summer to support Confessions on a Dancefloor. More details when they become available.

Massive Collection

Massive Attack are set to release their greatest hits collection March 27. Collected will feature:

1. Safe From Harm (#25, from Blue Lines)
2. Karmacoma (#28, from Protection)
3. Angel (#30, from Mezzanine)
4. Teardrop (#10, from Mezzanine)
5. Inertia Creeps (from Mezzanine)
6. Protection (#14, from Protection)
7. Butterfly Caught (from 100th Window)
8. Unfinished Sympathy (#13 from Blue Lines)
9. Risingson (#11, from Mezzanine)
10. Future Proof (from 100th Window)
11. Five Man Army (from Blue Lines)
12. What Your Soul Sings (from 100th Window)
13. Sly (#24, from Protection)
14. Live With Me (new)

Monday, January 23, 2006

All Things Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys' debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, is out today in UK stores (Feb. 21 in the US) and it's set to be the year's first massive album, since The Strokes' third album underwhelmed. The album is anticipated to break Oasis' sales record for first week sales of a new album and is hitting shelves on the back of their second #1 hit, "When The Sun Goes Down."

Read the Dotmusic review of Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.

See the video for "When the Sun Goes Down."

On breaking Oasis' sales record: Dotmusic News

Personal Chart, 1/28/2006

TW LW WKS Title -Artist
1 .... 1 ..... 8 ..... All Time Love - Will Young (2 wks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... 12 .... Ugly - Sugababes
3 .... 2 .... 15 .... Stickwitu - The Pussycat Dolls (2 wks @ #1)
4 .... 4 .... 12 .... Talk - Coldplay (1 wk @ #1)
5 .... 5 .... 15 .... Hung Up - Madonna (6 wks @ #1)
6 .... 10 ... 3 ..... Sleep - Texas
7 ..... 7 ..... 7 ..... Cash Machine - Hard-Fi
8 .... 13 .. 12 .... Check on It - Beyonce Featuring Slim Thug
9 .... 9 .... 6 ...... That's My Goal - Shayne Ward
10 ... 14 .. 3 ..... Break The Night With Colour - Richard Ashcroft

It's a second week at #1 for Will Young. If it spends a third, it will be only his second single (after "Evergreen") to spend 3 weeks at the top. Sugababes reach a new peak at #2 with "Ugly." Beyonce scores her 4th top 10 solo single on my chart and Richard Ashcroft earns his first.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 1/28/2006

Shayne Ward is finally knocked from #1 on the singles chart by the Arctic Monkeys' second single. A tepid albums chart with no top 40 debuts nonetheless sees a great album by Hard-Fi reach #1. And Will Young scores another #1 airplay hit with "All Time Love." Click below to read more.

1. When The Sun Goes Down - Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys score their second #1 with their second single. It's not quite as loud as their first single, but still very immediate. Their album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not out tomorrow is sure to be the year's first major seller--many predict it will break Oasis' first week sales record for their third album, Be Here Now. It's also nice to see something other than Shayne Ward at #1, and you'll find he tumbled down to #5.

2. Nasty Girl - The Notorious B.I.G. (Featuring P. Diddy & Nelly)

Although he's been deceased nearly 9 years now, The Notorious B.I.G.'s career is quite alive. Of the 7 top 40 hits he's had, 6 of them have been since his death in March 1997. By debuting at #2, this easily becomes his biggest hit, and only his third top 10 after "Mo Money Mo Problems" (#6) and "Hypnotize" (#10), both from 1997.

3. All Time Love - Will Young

Will Young scores his 9th straight top 10 hit with "All Time Love," a return to form after the brilliant, but decidedly "un-Will Young-like" single, "Switch It On. " "All Time Love" is a classic ballad, and managed to reach 2 places higher on the chart than his last single.

4. Check On It - Beyonce (Featuring Slim Thug)

Beyonce has earned her 7th top 40 hit apart from Destiny's Child this week with "Check On It." It's actually a bit surprising this didn't chart a little higher, but in truth, it's not nearly as strong as her work from Dangerously In Love from 3 years ago.

8. Say Say Say (Waiting 4 U) - Hi-Tack

Hi-Tack scores their first top 10 hit with a tepid house remake of "Say Say Say," a #2 hit for Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney in 1983. Although I've been bemoaning the fact that few dance singles have charted well recently, this is one that I did not welcome in the top 10.

10. Eddie's Song - Son of Dork

Son of Dork, or rather son of Busted, scores their second top 10 hit, which hits quite a bit lower than the #3 entry of their first single, "Ticket Outta Loserville."

13. Funny Little Frog - Belle and Sebastian

Belle and Sebastian had their first top 40 hit 9 years ago, and amazing score their highest charting one with this single. Previous best was 2004's "I'm a Cuckoo," which hit #14.


The albums chart remains a bit tepid, with no new entries, although I'm very pleased to see that Hard-Fi has climbed up to the top with Stars of CCTV, an excellent album in the vein of The Killers or Franz Ferdinand. Will Young's Keep On also rebounds up to #4 on the strength of his current single.


Will Young tops the airplay chart this week with "All Time Love," his second single after "Leave Right Now" to reach the airplay peak. Richard Ashcroft also climbs up another notch to #2 with "Break the Night With Colour." A-Ha moves into the top 10 with "Analogue," up from #16 to #9, while Beyonce also moves up 1 into the top 10 with "Check On It" at #10. Highest new entry in the top 40 is Madonna at #27 with "Sorry."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Gwen Stefani - Top 40 Goddess

As of today, Gwen Stefani has scored her 6th top 40 (airplay) hit from Love.Angel.Music.Baby., "Crash." Whatever you think of Gwen, this is a remarkable feat. Her 6 releases from this album and their R&R Top 40 peaks:
1. What You Waiting For (#18)
2. Rich Girl (#4)
3. Hollaback Girl (#1, 6wks)
4. Cool (#10)
5. Luxurious (#10)
6. Crash (just entering the top 40)

Click below for more.

A handful of artists have recently had 5 top 40 hits off one album, namely Kelly Clarkson and Usher. The last artist I'm aware of having 6 top 40 hits from one album was Janet Jackson, who had 6 top 40 hits (all top 10s actually) from Janet in 1993-1994. Along with her brother Michael, the Jacksons are notorious for squeezing as many singles as possible off their albums. Janet had 6 top 40 hits off of Control, and 8 off of Rhythm Nation 1814. Michael Jackson had 7 top 40 each off of Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous. Bruce Springsteen had 7 top 40 hits off of Born in the USA. George Michael had 6 top 40 hits off of Faith. That's all I'm aware of for the last 20 years or so. Post a comment if you can think of others (remember, this is only the airplay top 40, not the Billboard Hot 100, which can be differently, particularly after 1991).

Here's the full lists of albums with 6 or more top 40 hits:

Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814 (8):

1. Miss You Much (#1, 3 wks)
2. Rhythm Nation (#2)
3. Escapade (#1, 4 wks)
4. Alright (#2)
5. Come Back to Me (#1, 1 wk)
6. Black Cat (#1, 1 wk)
7. Love Will Never Do (Without You) (#1, 3 wks)
8. State of the World (#4)

Michael Jackson, Thriller (7):

1. The Girl is Mine (#4)
2. Billie Jean (#1, 2 wks)
3. Beat It (#1, 1 wk)
4. Wanna Be Startin' Something (#2)
5. Human Nature (#2)
6. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (#10)
7. Thriller (#1, 1 wk)

Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA (7):

1. Dancing in the Dark (#1, 1 wk)
2. Cover Me (#6)
3. Born in the USA (#10)
4. I'm On Fire (#5)
5. Glory Days (#3)
6. I'm Goin' Down (#9)
7. My Hometown (#7)

Michael Jackson, Bad (7):

1. I Just Can't Stop Loving You (#1, 2 wks)
2. Bad (#1, 2 wks)
3. The Way You Make Me Feel (#1, 1 wk)
4. Man In The Mirror (#1, 3 wks)
5. Dirty Diana (#1, 1 wk)
6. Another Part of Me (#10)
7. Smooth Criminal (#8)

Michael Jackson, Dangerous (7):

1. Black or White (#1, 2 wks)
2. Remember the Time (#1, 3 wks)
3. In the Closet (#2)
4. Jam (#9)
5. Heal The World (#20)
6. Who Is It (#4)
7. Will You Be There (#5)

Janet Jackson, Control (6):

1. What Have You Done For Me Lately (#8)
2. Nasty (#5)
3. When I Think of You (#1, 1 wk)
4. Control (#5)
5. Let's Wait Awhile (#3)
6. The Pleasure Principle (#11)

George Michael, Faith (6):

1. I Want Your Sex (#8)
2. Faith (#1, 3 wks)
3. Father Figure (#1, 4 wks)
4. One More Try (#1, 4 wks)
5. Monkey (#1, 3 wks)
6. Kissing a Fool (#6)

Janet Jackson, Janet (6):

1. That's The Way Love Goes (#1, 6 wks)
2. If (#2)
3. Again (#1, 5 wks)
4. Because of Love (#2)
5. Any Time, Any Place (#8)
6. You Want This (#10)

Upcoming Album Releases

Arctic Monkeys are set to release their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, on Monday in Britain. Apparently it's going to shatter sales records. In death as in life they say, therefore Boyzone is following in the footsteps of Take That and releasing Key to My Life: Collection on Jan. 30. Nevermind that Boyzone, like Take That, has already released a comprehensive greatest hits collection, By Request. Mylo's Destroy Rock & Roll gets a US release on Feb. 7. Let's hope it includes "Doctor Pressure," the cool mash-up of Mylo's "Drop The Perssure" and Gloria Estefan's "Dr. Beat." James Blunt is putting out a CD/DVD set called The Bedlam Sessions on Feb.13, which I assume is a live album. So nothing much of interest for the next month, but there is hope on the horizon.

Keane is rumored to be prepping a new album for a May 15th release!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Singles Reviews

Few singles I want review this week, but here they are:

"When The Sun Goes Down" - Arctic Monkeys (3.5/5
"When I Think of You" - Lee Ryan (2/5)
"You're Beautiful" - James Blunt (5/5)
"Heartbeats" - Jose Gonzales (4/5)

"When The Sun Goes Down" - Arctic Monkeys (3.5/5)

Second single from the Arctic Monkeys isn't as frenetic as the first--it starts acapella--but quickly takes off from there with driving electric guitars. No ones going to accuse their lead singer of being a good vocalist, but this is overall pretty good stuff. A likely second #1 for them. (1/16)

"When I Think of You" - Lee Ryan (2/5)

His last single wasn't bad, but this is is pretty borning saccharine stuff. Sounds remotely '60s-ish, but lacks much personality. Haven't yet heard his former Blue bandmate Antony Costa's first solo effort yet, but I'm hoping it's better than this. (1/30)

"You're Beautiful" - James Blunt (5/5)

Americans are just discovering--and taking quite a liking to--James Blunt, last year's biggest new artist in Britian. "You're Beautiful," which just cracked the top 40, is a simple, pure love song driven by melancholy acoustic guitars, piano, and strong production. Blunt himself sounds a bit like Will Young crossed with Chris Martin. Check out the video where he takes off his clothes! (U.S. release)

"Heartbeats" - Jose Gonzales (4/5)

Here's something new to discover--soft, understated vocals over acoustic guitar. Gonzales, who is surprisingly Swedish (Argentine parents), weaves a gentle love story here. At under 3 mintues it's sure afraid to wear out its welcome--and welcome it is. (1/9)

US Chart Analysis, 1/28/2006

It's another week at #1 for Nelly & Co with "Grillz," while Mary J. Blige climbs back to the top of the albums chart. The Pussycat Dolls score their first #1 hit on the top 40 chart. Click below for the full analysis.

Billboard Hot 100:

Nelly (Featuring Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp) spends a second week at #1 with "Grillz," which is a rap about either A) outdoor barbecue devices, B) male toddlers speaking of the opposite sex, or C) designer teeth covers. Whichever it may be, it's enough to hold Beyonce (Featuring Slim Thug) at bay, as "Check On It," this week's Airplay Gainer, moves up a spot to #2. The Pussycat Dolls move back up to #5 with "Stickwitu;" any higher and the single will reach a new peak. Mary J. Blige is the only new entry in the top 10 with "Be Without You." Although it feels like she's had stacks of hits, this is only her 5th top 10 and the first since her biggest, "Family Affair," which spent 6 weeks at #1 at the end of 2001.

Five singles enter the top 40 this week, led by Chris Brown at #30 (up from #59) with "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)," his follow-up to his debut #1 single, "Run It!" Just below that at #31 is this week's sales gainer, "I'm N Luv (With a Stripper)" by T Pain (Featuring Mike Jones) up from #48. Eminem scores his 15th top 40 hit with "Shake That," up this week from #50; it's the follow-up to "When I'm Gone," which reached #8. Purple Ribbon All Stars are up 5 spots to #37 with "Kryptonite (I'm On It)." Finally, at #38 is a debut in the Hot 100 for Gavin DeGraw with "We Belong Together," from the film Tristan & Isolde. It's not a remake of the Mariah Carey.

Billboard 200:Mary J Blige returns to the top of the albums chart with The Breakthrough, while Jamie Foxx is knocked down a spot to #2. The Strokes First Impressions of Earth, last weeks highest debut at #4, takes a big dive down to #18. The highest debut of the week is the lowly #48 placing for Bleeding Through's The Truth.

R&R Top 40: The Pussycat Dolls score their first #1 top 40 with "Stickwitu," which moves up from #2, knocking Chris Brown's "Run It" from #1. Ne-Yo moves into the top 10, up from #15 to #9 with "So Sick," which is shockingly not available at iTunes. Big moves this week by Black Eyes Peas and "Pump It," up 6 spots to #22 and Kelly Clarkson, up 7 places to #24 with "Walk Away," the 5th top 40 from Breakaway. Two tracks enter the top 40: James Blunt at #38 with "You're Beautiful" and Dem Franchize Boys with "I Think They Like Me" at #39.

Personal chart, 1/21/2006

TW LW WKS Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... 7 ..... All Time Love - Will Young (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 ... 14 .... Stickwitu - The Pussycat Dolls (2 weeks @ #1)
3 .... 5 ... 11 .... Ugly - Sugababes
4 .... 3 ... 11 .... Talk - Coldplay (1 week @ #1)
5 .... 4 ... 14 .... Hung Up - Madonna (6 weeks @ #1)
6 .... 6 ... 10 .... Advertising Space - Robbie Williams
7 .... 9 .... 6 ..... Cash Machine - Hard-Fi
8 .... 7 .... 8 ..... Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
9 .... 10 .. 5 ..... That's My Goal - Shayne Ward
10 .. 23 .. 2 ..... Sleep - Texas

Will Young does what "Switch It On" couldn't, ascending to the top of the chart to become Will's 5th #1 single on my chart (following "Evergreen," "Light My Fire," "The Long And Winding Road (with Gareth Gates)," and "Leave Right Now." It's his 9th top 10 hit. Pussycat Dolls fall to #2 after 2 weeks at the top. Although I didn't expect it, Will may be settling in for a decent stay at the top, as challengers are few and far between. "Sleep" makes a big move into the top 10, but mostly because I didn't pay attention to it until recently. I don't expect it will go top 5. Shayne Ward will probably lose steam quickly too.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

All Things Will Young

Will Young's 8th single, "All Time Love," is released tomorrow in the UK. It's a beautiful piano and strings ballad, and Will has never sounded better. It's a long shot for #1, but certainly deserving. Here are some links of interest on Will:

Listen to his recent live appearance on BBC Radio One, where he chatted with Jo Whiley, performed "All Time Love," and did his own take on The Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha."

See the very cool, cryptic video for "All Time Love," which Will discusses on his Web site and during the Radio 1 appearance. Apparently he's the leader of a radical student group, but I also believe he's in some love triangle with the girl and the other guy.

Read my reviews of "All Time Love" and his album, Keep On.

UK Chart Analysis, 1/21/2006

The post-holiday slump is still in effect, although starting to look up a bit. Shayne Ward tops the singles chart for a fourth week, James Blunt returns to #1 on the albums chart, and an older track makes a surprise move to the top of the airplay chart. Expect next week to be the week we finally see some new hits. Click below for full analysis.


1. That's My Goal - Shayne Ward

As promised, it's a fourth week at #1 for Shayne Ward. Blah.

3. Break The Night With Colour - Richard Ashcroft

Richard Ashcroft lands at a respectable #3, matching the debut of his first solo single, "A Song For The Lovers." This track is the lead single from his forthcoming third solo album, Keys to the World, out January 23.

4. I'll Be Ready - Sunblock

Much higher than I expected for this schlock--a dance remake of the Baywatch theme. As if the original isn't uninteresting enough, this uses a limited vocal loop, thus jettisoning much of the of the song in favor of repetition.

6. Sleep - Texas

Texas earns their 13th top 10 hit with "Sleep," third single from current album Red Book, which matches the debut of the album's first release, "Getaway." It's a decent mid-tempo track, and a much better choice for a single than their last, "Can't Resist," which apparently listeners could resist, as it only managed #13.

54. Sugar, We're Going Down - Fall Out Boy

America really warmed to Fall Out Boy last year, but apparently the Brits won't have any of it, as their first single falls outside the top 40.


James Blunt's Back to Bedlam returns to #1 after having kicked around the top 10 for three months. It's the album's 10th nonconsecutive week at #1. On the strength of their single "Munich," the Editors charge into the top 10 at #3 (up from #18) with The Back Room. The album had previously debuted at #13. Will Young returns to the top 10 at #10 (up from #17) with Keep On, bolstered by second single "All Time Love," which is released tomorrow. Fabulous video for "All Time Love," by the way.


Sugababes climb up to #1 with "Ugly," in their 9th week on the chart. "Push The Button," a former #1 airplay hit (and #1 selling single), is still quite strong, moving down from #11 to #22. Richard Ashcroft makes a big move within the top 10, up 7 spots to #3 with "Break The Night With Colour." Also moving up within the top 10 are Will Young's "All Time Love," up 2 to #5 and Texas' "Sleep," up 1 to #8. Shayne Ward's "That's My Goal" also moves into the top 10 at #10, up from #29.

Next week: Finally some big singles releases to compete for spots in the top 10: Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce, Son of Dork, Notorious BIG, Hi-Tack, and of course, Will Young.

Personal Chart, 1/14/2006

TW LW WKS Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 13 .... Stickwitu - The Pussycat Dolls (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 5 .... 6 ..... All Time Love - Will Young
3 .... 2 .... 10 ... Talk - Coldplay (1 week @ #1)
4 .... 3 .... 13 ... Hung Up - Madonna (6 weeks @ #1)
5 .... 4 .... 10 ... Ugly - Sugababes
6 .... 6 .... 9 ..... Advertising Space - Robbie Williams
7 .... 8 ..... 7 .... Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
8 .... 7 ..... 8 .... Don't Forget About Us - Mariah Carey
9 ... 12 .... 5 .... Cash Machine - Hard-Fi
10 .. 11 ... 4 .... That's My Goal - Shayne Ward

Saturday, January 14, 2006

US Chart Analysis, 1/21/2006

The Billboard Hot 100 sees continued quick turnover as Nelly dislodges D4L to score his fourth #1 hit. The Strokes has the highest album debut of the week, but it's not enough to unseat Jamie Foxx from a second week at #1. Radio & Records' Top 40 airplay chart returns after the holiday hiatus, and Chris Brown is still #1. Click below to read more.

Billboard Hot 100:

Nelly (Featuring Paul Wall Ali & Gipp) earns his fourth #1 single with "Grillz." The track is an extra on Nelly's Sweatsuit compilation, a slimmed down combination of key tracks from his Sweat and Suit albums of 2004 released last year. The track dislodges last week's #1, "Laffy Taffy" by D4L, which tumbles down to #6. Beyonce (Featuring Slim Thug) moves into striking position for the top with "Check On It," up 7 spots to #3. Two tracks enter the top 10: All-American Rejects "Dirty Little Secret" at #9, up from #11, and Juelz Santana with "There It Go" up from #12 to #10.

Just outside the top 10 are two tracks surely to be within the top 10 next week. Ray J moves up 8 spots to #13 with "One Wish" and Mary J. Blige earns the Airplay Gainer award with "Be Without You," up 12 places to #15. Also looking good is James Blunt's "You're Beautiful," which moves up from #25 to #17.

Three tracks enter the top 40; Ne-Yo at #26 (up from #45) with "So Sick," Trina Featuring Kelly Rowland at #35 (up from #41) with "Here We Go," and The Black Eyed Peas with their fourth top 40 hit from Monkey Business at #40 (up from #52) with "Pump It."

Billboard 200:

Jamie Foxx hangs on to #1 for a second week with Unforgettable. The Strokes' First Impressions of Earth debuts at #4. Despite good reviews it fails the chart any higher than their last album, Room on Fire. Kelly Clarkson continues to prove her longevity power, moving back into the top 10 at #8 with Breakaway in its 58th week. No other significant debuts.

Radio and Records Top 40 (airplay):

Chris Brown's "Run It" is still #1, but The Pussycat Dolls' "Stickwitu" is hot on his tail. There's no "last week" information, so it makes saying much difficult. More next week.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Brit Award Nominees

James Blunt and Coldplay scored double nominations for British album and single categories, while Oasis was shut out of both. Click below to the see the nominees and my predictions for the winners.

British Single:

You're Beautiful - James Blunt
(Is This The Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie
Speed of Sound - Coldplay
Push The Button - Sugababes
That's My Goal - Shayne Ward

Who knows what the criteria are for this category. It appears to be some amalgamation of sales and airplay, which sometimes results in 5 nominees and sometimes 10. This year we have 5, with Christie clearly being the sales leader, followed by Ward and Blunt; while Coldplay and Sugababes are included as decent sellers with big airplay. This is Coldplay's 2nd nomination, after 2000's for "Yellow." Thank god Crazy Frog was not included, although it's a bit surprising to be missing Oasis' "The Importance of Being Idle" or Robbie Williams' "Tripping." Surely they'd be here if this year had seen 10 nominees, along with Charlotte Church's "Crazy Chick" and McFly's "All About You." This award never goes to the best-seller, usually favoring a non-novelty track with some modicum of credibility. Will Young won it last year for "Your Game," beating out 5 #1 singles, including mega-seller "Do They Know It's Christmas." In 2003, it went to Dido's #2 single, "White Flag," and in 2002 to Liberty X's "Just a Little." I'd rule out Christie and Ward as novelty acts. The remaining three have their fans and their detractors--really this award could easily go to any of them--but I'm putting my money with the Sugababes, who were nominated last year for "In The Middle" and in 2000 for "Overload."

British Album:

James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
Kate Bush - Aerial
X&Y - Coldplay
Demon Days - Gorillaz
Kaiser Chiefs - Unemployment

Coldplay, James Blunt, and Kaiser Chiefs were givens for this category, and it's good to see Gorillaz here, but Kate Bush? That was a surprise. Definitely shocking not to see Oasis's Don't Believe The Truth here, which was heralded somewhat as a comeback for them. I'd also have thought KT Tunstall would've been a likely nominee over Kate Bush. In any case, Coldplay won this award twice before, in 2000 for Parachutes and 2002 for A Rush of Blood to the Head. X&Y is every bit as strong as those albums, but voters may choose to spread the joy around. For Kate Bush, it's an honor just being nominated, and Gorillaz, although critcally acclaimed, isn't quite classic enough for this award. Expect it to go to James Blunt, who was the year's biggest new artist and had the best-selling album of the year.

International Album:

Arcade Fire - Funeral
Green Day - American Idiot
Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor
U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Kanye West - Late Registration

The Brits have an annoying tendency every once in awhile to repeat nominees form a prior year (the worst was 2001, in which 2 British Albums nominated in 2000 were nominated again). U2 was here last year, which I think rules them out automatically. Arcade Fire was a critics favorite, but lacks widespread appeal. I see this going to Green Day.

To see nominees and winners for prior years best British Single and Album categories, check out this post I made to the UKMix message board Web site.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Singles Reviews

Reviewed this week:

This Time - Starsailor (3.5/5)
Sleep - Texas (4/5)
Just Like the Rain - Richard Hawley (3/5)
You Get What You Give - LMC Featuring Rachel McFarlane (3.5/5)
I'll Be Ready - Sunblock (1/5)

Click below to read in full.

This Time - Starsailor (3.5/5)

This is a good single, but doesn't offer anything new. It's the same mid-tempo, piano-driven rock you can hear anywhere. The singer sounds a lot like Maroon 5's Adam Levine. Decent but not earth shattering. (Released Jan. 23)

Sleep - Texas (4/5)

After the stunning first Red Book single, "Getaway," Texas faltered a bit with "Can't Resist." They're back on track with "Sleep," a mid-tempo number (their specialty, ala "Say What You Want") with some extra vocal help from Paul MacDonald (not sure who he is, but he's not in band). (1/9)

Just Like the Rain - Richard Hawley (3/5)

A bit folkish and his voice sounds like he's about to keel over. Pleasant adult pop stuff. (1/23)

You Get What You Give - LMC Featuring Rachel McFarlane (3.5/5)

It's a given now that most dance music being produced is going to remake/sample/loop something familiar. LMC brought us the cool 2004 Whitney Houston/U2 mashup "Take Me To The Clouds Above." This is more just a straightup House semi-remake of New Radicals' "You Get What You Give." The result is danceable and decent, and better than a lot of the other recent remake efforts going around. (1/23)

I'll Be Ready - Sunblock (1/5)

Speaking of remakes, whoever thought we needed a series (yes, a series!) of dance remakes built around loops of the Baywatch Theme is clearly in the running for the 2006 Enemy of Pop Music award. What utter dreck! (1/9)

UK Chart Analysis, 1/14/2006

It's still somewhat boring and stagnant, but the airplay chart offers hope that some good new releases are just around the corner. Shayne Ward tops the singles chart fora third week, while The Strokes score their first #1 album. Click below for the full article.


1. That's My Goal - Shayne Ward

It's a third week at #1 for The X-Factor winner Shayne Ward's first single. Snooze. Time for something new, but unfortunately, I don't think we'll be getting it next week, as it appears Mr. Ward is on target for a 4th week at #1 with the only possible competition coming from Richard Ashcroft, who's never had a solo #1.

4. George Best - A Tribute - Brian Kennedy

With Nizlopi and Madonna holding again at #2 and #3, the next interesting item is at #4, a tribute EP that debuted at #21 two weeks ago, and this weeks moves up from #11 to #4. The Brian Kennedy you can find on iTunes is a jazz singer--not sure if that is in fact the Brian Kennedy this single is credited to. He's actually 1 of 2 artists on the EP. Along with Kennedy's rendition of "You Raise Me Up," you also get Peter Corry singing "The Long and Winding Road" and the both of them singing "Bring Him Home/Vincent." Forgive my ignorance, but it appears George Best was a football (i.e. soccer) player who died recently.

10. Munich - Editors

This is a re-release of an earlier single that didn't chart so high. Can't say I've heard it.

The rest of the top 10 isn't that interesting. Some older tracks continue to move up a bit, but will surely plummet once some decent new releases come out.

20. Dancin' - Aaron Smith Featuring Luvli

Another clubby track to take the edge off of all the year-end/new year ballads. Sounds slightly like Jamiroquai--both in style and in the singer's voice. Not bad, but not memorable for sure.

36. Phat Beach (I'll Be Ready) - Naughty Boy

I haven't heard this, but I can only assume it is the first in the series of this year's competition to make the worst vocal-loop house remix of a bad '80s song. Last year, we had Sunset Strippers, Cabin Crew, and Mylo duking it out over remakes of Boy Meets Girl's "Waiting for A Star To Fall." This year, the perennial favorite them to the TV show Baywatch is the victim. Next week, Sunblock's version, which has been getting significantly more attention, will be out.


The Strokes' third album, First Impressions of Earth becomes their first to top the UK albums chart. The groups previous two albums, 2001's Is This It and 2003's Room on Fire, both managed to reach #2. Two Katies move back into the top 10; KT Tunstall at #6 with Eye to the Telescope and Katie Melua at #9 with Piece By Piece. No other debuts in the top 50.


While the singles chart is still stagnating and recovering from the holidays, radio is already moving on and priming us with some forthcoming new releases. The top 5 remains about the same as it has for a month (Coldplay's "Talk" is this weeks #1, having finally supplanted Madonna's "Hung Up" last week; Sugababes, The Pussycat Dolls, and Robbie Williams are still hanging around). The bottom half of the top 10 is much more interesting. Starsailor makes a strong debut in the top 50 a5 #6 with "This Time," out Jan. 23. Starsailor's biggest hit remains their 2003 release, "Silence is Easy." At #7, Will Young is up from #20 with "All Time Love," the beautiful second single from Keep On, out Jan. 16. Texas is at #9 with "Sleep," the third single from their recent album, which I believe will chart much better than their last release, "Can't Resist." At #10 is Richard Ashcroft's upcoming "Break the Night With Colour."

Updates Coming!

I've been out of town on business this week. Over the weekend, expect undated US and UK chart analyses and singles review for new tracks from Starsailor, Texas, and LMC.

Friday, January 06, 2006

US Chart Analysis, 1/14/2006

D4L earns their first #1 hit with "Laffy Taffy," while Mariah Carey takes a big tumble from #1 to #7. Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx's debut album, Unpredictable, which debuted at #2 last week climbs to #1 this week, unseating Mary J. Blige. Radio & Records Top 40 airplay chart is on hiatus, so instead, I'll see what's going on at the Mediabase Mainstream Hit airplay chart. Click below to continue reading.

Billboard Hot 100

D4L scores the first #1 single of the year on the first week of the year with "Laffy Taffy." (It's nice not to have a #1 straddling between years, I always hate that). D4L, which stands for "Down For Life" are up from #4 and are this week's Sales Gainer. Chris Brown remains in pole position for a third week, and could possibly reclaim #1 with "Run It," as the single is bulleted (meaning gaining airplay and/or sales). Nickelback's "Photograph," which 12 weeks ago peaked at #2, move back up 2 places to #3, still with a bullet. Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps," also both move back up within the top 10, although without bullets, at #4 and #6 respectively. After 2 weeks at #1, Mariah Carey takes a big tumble down to #7 with "Don't Forget About Us," the second #1 single from her album The Emancipation of Mimi. Fall Out Boy scores their second top 10 single with "Dance, Dance" up 6 to #9. It's just one place shy of the peak of their first single, "Sugar, We're Going Doing," which is #13 this week, up from #17. Just outside the top 10, All-American Rejects makes a big 10 place move up to #11 with "Dirty Little Secret."

The UK chart had some pretty unsual moves last week due to post-Chrismas downloads, and I suspect the same phenomenon is responsible for some unsual moves on the US chart this week. At #15, Weezer moves back up 14 places with "Beverly Hills;" at #15 its just 5 places shy of its #10 peak 14 weeks ago. Another alternative rock band that was big last year, Green Day, moves up 12 places to #19 with "Wake Me Up When September Ends." Older tracks by Lifehouse, Gorillaz, and The Pussycat Dolls also move up, but nothing is more shocking than the 41 place move up the chart at #34 for Ashlee Simpson and her old single "Boyfriend." 41 spots!! In the process, Ashlee leapfrogs over her newer single, "L.O.V.E.," which itself makes an impressive move up 20 places to #36.

Natasha Bedingfield is up 8 places to #32 with "Unwritten." The other new entry in the top 40 besides Simpson is Ludacris & Field Mob Feat. Jamie Foxx, up 4 to #39 with "Georgia." Mariah Carey also re-enters the top 40 at #37 with "We Belong Together," recently crowned the biggest hit of 2005. "We Belong Together" is actually this week's airplay gainer, probably due to figuring prominently in year-end radio charts.

Billboard 200 (Albums):

Two weeks ago I remarked on the prevalence of bulleted albums in top 50 (37 that week) and predicted there would be few this week. Sure enough, only 10 of the top 50 albums earn bullets, including this week's #1 album, Jamie Foxx's first album, Unpredictable, which debuted at #2 last week. Otherwise there's very little going on, although I was excited to see James Blunt's Back to Bedlam climb up another 19 places to #30. It was just announced that "Wisemen" would be re-released in the UK in a few months. Highest debut of the week is Ying Yang Twins (sic) at #45 with U.S.A. Still United.

Top 40 Airplay

Radio and Records' chart is still on hiatus, so I took a look instead at Mediabase, which everday keeps a rolling tally of the most-played songs over the last 7 days. Lots of songs are bulleted this week, due to regaining their airplay before last week's year-end shows displaced airplay of current tracks. Chris Brown is still #1 with "Run It," but The Pussycat Dolls could overtake him within 2 weeks with "Stickwitu." Beyonce's "Check on It" and All-American Rejects' "Dirty Little Secret" continue to gain strongly within the top 10. Kelly Clarkson's fifth Breakaway single, "Walk Away" is up 5 to #35.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Personal Chart, 1/7/2006

TW LW WKS Title - Artist
1 .... 3 .... 12 .... Stickwitu - The Pussycat Dolls (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... 9 ...... Talk - Coldplay (1 week @ #1)
3 .... 2 .... 12 .... Hung Up - Madonna (6 weeks @ #1)
4 .... 6 .... 9 ...... Ugly - Sugababes
5 .... 8 .... 5 ...... All Time Love - Will Young
6 .... 4 .... 8 ...... Advertising Space - Robbie Williams
7 .... 7 ..... 7 ...... Don't Forget About Us - Mariah Carey
8 .... 9 .... 6 ...... Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
9 .... 5 .... 4 ...... JCB Song - Nizlopi
10 .. 10 .. 4 ...... See The Day - Girls Aloud

New year, new #1: The Pussycat Dolls score their first #1 single with their second release, "Stickwitu." No new top 10 entries. Will Young moves up 3 to #5, hoping "All Time Love" will become his 5th #1 on my chart.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Single Reviews

January is always a slow time for new releases, but there's at least one gem in this bunch.

All Time Love - Will Young (5/5)
Check On It - Beyonce (3/5)
Break The Night With Colour - Richard Ashcroft (4/5)
Jimmy Gets High - Daniel Powter (3.5/5)
Dancin' - Aaron Smith Featuring Luvli (3/5)
Something Got Me Started - Simply Red (4/5)
Say Say Say - Hi Tack (2/5)
Fin - Supergrass (2/5/5)

All Time Love - Will Young (rating: 5 out of 5)

It seems Will Young can do no wrong these days. His new album, Keep On, is fabulous, and "All Time Love" is one of its crowning moments--a stately yet understated ballad backed with a classy arrangement of piano and strings. Will himself sounds really good on this track too, restrained when needed, full throttle at other times. The video is quite cool too, although I can't figure out what it's about. This really deserves to be #1. (Out 1/16).

Check On It - Beyonce (Featuring Slim Thug) (3/5)

This is a bit disappointing. It's not bad, but nearly as good as the party strutting singles we got from her in 2003. The rhtyhms are fun, but get grating by the end as they are way too repetitive. It also hardly seems fair that this Beyonce single was included on the Destiny's Child's greatest hits collection without the other girls getting solo tracks as well. (1/16)

Jimmy Gets High - Daniel Powter (3.5/5)

It's not unlike "Bad Day" or "Free Loop," but also not quite as good as either. I know he gets compared to James Blunt a lot, but I think Blunt is much more interesting. It does start off interesting, with the music under his vocals sounding like its coming out of an old radio, but it goes on too long. Once the music really comes in, it's mid-tempo drums, keyboards, and other various glossy production techniques. A bit much, but still enjoyable. (1/16)

Break The Night With Colour - Richard Ashcroft (4/5)

It's balladry again for Richard Ashcroft, who's been going it solo since his band The Verve, made famous by their 1997 hits "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and "The Drugs Don't Work" broke up. This radio friendly release doesn't stray too far from the territory covered by his previous solo hits. It's a minor-keyed plodding melody overlain with electronic effects and some light electric guitar. Good stuff. (1/9)

Dancin' - Aaron Smith Featuring Luvli (3/5)

A couple of fun dance tracks are out to lighten up dreary January a bit. Aaron Smith's is out first. It sounds a bit like Jamiroquai, although not quite as enjoyable. Still, it's not bad--probably sounds great in a club. (1/2)

Say Say Say (Waiting 4 U) - Hi Tack (2/5)

Pretty by the numbers House track. Very repetitive with deep bassy keyboards. Sounds slightly like Stardust, but then again so does half of all house tracks out today. And of course, like Stardust, and Kylie, and countless others, the music fades out and mutes halfway through and gradually comes back. Bland. (1/16)

Something Got Me Started - Simply Red (4/5)

Americans remember Simply Red only for "If You Don't Know Me By Now," but in Britain the band is hugely successful, having scored 30 top 40 hits in their 20 year career. For their latest album, Simplified, the band recorded new acoustic arrangements of some of their greatest hits. I know it sounds kind of Alanis-y, but the results are much better. This Latin-tinged version of "Something Got Me Started," a top 40 hit in 1991, seethes with energy and pep. (1/2)

Fin - Supergrass (2.5/5)

Third single from Supergrass' brilliant Road to Rouen has the lead singer sounding like he's singing through a fishbowl. I guess it's called "Fin" because he's supposed to sound like a fish. Outside the context of the album, this is just a little too mellow to matter. (1/2, 7" only)

Monday, January 02, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 2005 Year-End

Top singles:
1. (Is This The Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie (7 weeks @ #1)
2. That's My Goal - Shayne Ward (2 wks @ #1)
3. Axel F - Crazy Frog (4 wks @ #1)
4. You're Beautiful - James Blunt (5 wks @ #1)
5. All About You - McFly (1 wk @ #1)
6. Lonely - Akon (2 wks @ #1)
7. Don't Cha - The Pussycat Dolls (2 wks @ #1)
8. You Raise Me Up - Westlife (2 wks @ #1)
9. JCB Song - Nizlopi (1 wk @ #1)
10. Hung Up - Madonna (3 wks @ #1)

Top Albums:
1. Back to Bedlam - James Blunt (9 wks @ #1)
2. X&Y - Coldplay (4 wks @ #1)
3. Intensive Care - Robbie Williams (1 wk @ #1)
4. Employment - Kaiser Chiefs
5. Demon Days - Gorillaz (1 wk @ #1)
6. Face to Face - Westlife (1 wk @ #1)
7. Eye to the Telescope - KT Tunstall
8. Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
9. Curtain Call: The Hits - Eminem (5 wks @ #1)
10. Forever Faithless: The Greatest Hits - Faithless (1 wk @ #1)

Click below for analyses of the year and top 10 charts.

This year marked a significant change in the way the UK singles chart was formulated: for the first time, downloads were counted in single's sales tally, but only after an official physical single was released. This created some unusual circumstances. Gorillaz, for example, released "Feel Good Inc." as a limited maxi-single ahead of the standard single release, but because it was already being downloaded, it charted fairly high and then vaulted up to #2 upon official release. Kaiser Chiefs re-released "I Predict a Riot" in August, but since its initial release occured within a year of that time, the single started to chart based on downloads before the physical release. And finally, the last week of the year posted some very unusual upward moves of older singles, based mostly on downloads.


1. (Is This The Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie

And so ends the 6th year of this decade, and for the fourth time the top seller of the year was a novelty track. In fact, the top 3 were novelty tracks. Tony Christie wasn't meant to be the official Comic Relief single (that honor was to go to the track at #5, McFly), but his rendition of "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo," performed live with comedian Peter Kay, became so popular that it far outpaced McFly's track to not only become this year's Comic Relief single but the biggest hit of the year, spending an inexplicable 7 weeks at #1, the most weeks a single has spent at the top since Cher's 1998 smash, "Believe." The single is actually a re-release; Christie first put it out in 1971, and peaked at #18 early in 1972. Thus a 33 year-old song is 2005's biggest seller.

2. That's My Goal - Shayne Ward

Reality music competitions are still alive and well, and no one is more pleased about that than Shayne Ward, who just 2 weeks ago was crowned winner of the 2005 Simon Cowell competition, The X Factor. Over the last 5 years, these types of shows have generated a surprising number of viable music acts, including Will Young, Liberty X, and Girls Aloud. Of course, there are were also the less-than pack: Gareth Gates, Hear'Say, Michelle McManus, etc. Time will tell which group will welcome Mr. Ward. By my count, 9 of the 60 singles that have been in the year-end top 10 lists this decade were by acts that were the products of such contests.

3. Axel F - Crazy Frog

Time will hopefully hold this up as a monumental embarassment: A bland remake of instrumental track "Axel F" over which unintelligible bleeps from an electronic frog were superimposed. The frog in question, Crazy Frog, was first an annoying computer pop-up and then a ring tone. Why why why???

4. You're Beautiful - James Blunt

Finally, a proper single, and 2005's biggest success story. James Blunt first appeared on the music scene at the end of 2004, but failed to generate much heat with his first singles, "High" and "Wisemen." Things changed dramatically in May 2005 when this track, an earnest unironic love song, was released. In an era when 99% of all singles debut at their peak position, this track really bucked the trend. The single debuted outside the top 10 (at #12), climbed into the top 10, and hit #1 in its 7th week, where it stayed for 5 weeks. The single also vaulted the album to #1, where it spent 9 weeks at the top and became the year's top seller. Without a doubt James Blunt is 2005's biggest new artist.

5. All About You - McFly

McFly first launched in 2003 and returned this year with this #1 Comic Relief single, which although overshadowed by Tony Christie, was still a major hit in its own right. The ballad was followed-up in August with another #1 hit, "I'll Be OK" and the release of their second album, Wonderland.

6. Lonely - Akon

A Bobby Darin sample from "Mr. Lonely" was resonsible for this year's biggest rap hit, Akon's "Lonely." The track was Akon's third single and his biggest to date.

7. Don't Cha - The Pussycat Dolls

More Spice Girls than Sugababes, The Pussycat Dolls were this year's big new "girl group," although it's recently come to light that only 1 of the 6 girls actually does any singing--the rest just provide sex appeal. "Don't Cha," spent 3 weeks at the top and was followed by the #1 hit "Stickwitu."

8. You Raise Me Up - Westlife

By all accounts, Westlife's popularly should be long gone by now--the boyband craze now 5 years past its peak. Yet they endure, and had a major hit this year in "You Raise Me Up," their 13th #1 single, which spent more weeks in the top 10 than any of their previous hits. The track is only their second to land within the year-end top 10, after 2001's "Uptown Girl."

9. JCB Song - Nizlopi

It seems almost every track within the top 10 has a good story, and this is no exception. Nizlopi formed 3 years ago and released this track in May, where it failed to find an audience. Then comes the holidays and a clever video, and suddenly "JCB Song," a sentimental rock ballad about a 5 year-old and his dad, was a massive #1 hit. Go figure.

10. Hung Up - Madonna

The top 10 is bookended by veteran acts, and the woman at #10 is surely the biggest thing in pop music around. "Hung Up" was Madonna's 11th #1 hit and it spent 3 weeks at the top and 8 weeks in the top 10 (so far), making it one her biggest hits ever and the first to land in the year-end top 10 in many years (probably since "Vogue," but I can't verify what 1990's top 10 was).


1. Back to Bedlam - James Blunt

James Blunt's Back to Bedlam was 2005's biggest album, and his brilliant debut album is this year's biggest seller, eclipsing Coldplay's X&Y, which was expected by many to be on top. Blunt in fact knocked X&Y from #1 in June, and spent more than twice as long at #1. The stately collection of pop/rock generated the #1 smash, "You're Beautiful," the top 10 hit "Goodbye My Lover" and top 40 hit "High."

2. X&Y - Coldplay

Coldplay's 4th appearance in the year-end top 10 is their biggest. X&Y continued their winning streak winning over fans and critics and generating three more top 10 hits, the #2 "Speed of Sound" and "Fix You" and "Talk."

3. Intensive Care - Robbie Williams

The former Take That band member is now a veteran of pop music in his own right. Intensive Care, his 7th album (including last year's Greatest Hits), and 8th appearance in the year-end top 10, generated two top 10 hits: "Tripping" and "Advertising Space."

4. Employment - Kaiser Chiefs

They were dubbed this year's Franz Ferdinand--the retro/indie band was hot this year, and had the best-selling album of the year not to top the chart. Top 10 hits included "I Predict A Riot," "Everday I Love You Less and Less," and "Oh My God."

5. Demon Days - Gorillaz

Damon Albarn of Blur started Gorillaz in 2001 as a creative outlet for his desires to fuse hip-hop with rock and other genres. Promoted as a "cartoon band," it was seen as a vanity project that yielded positive results. But who'd have predicted he'd release a second, even better album under the moniker and score one of the year's most enduring hits, "Feel Good Inc." The album also generated the #1 hit "Dare" and top 10 hit "Dirty Harry."

6. Face to Face - Westlife

It sold surprisingly well on the back of #1 single "You Raise Me Up," and is their fourth album in the year-end top 10. Also includes the top 10 hit with Diana Ross, "When You Tell Me That You Love Me."

7. Eye to the Telescope - KT Tunstall

Tunstall was 2005's biggest new female artist and her album won many accolaides. Expect big success for her in the U.S. in 2006. Includes the hits "Suddenly I See" and "The Other Side of the World."

8. Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson

The American Idol champ found a massive UK fanbase this year with her second album, which generated 3 top 10 hits, "Since U Been Gone," "Behind These Hazel Eyes," and "Because of You."

9. Curtain Call: The Hits - Eminem

Eminem's last album was his third to land in the UK year-end top 10. Contains all his biggest tracks, such as "Stan," "Lose Yourself," "Without Me," and "Like Toy Soldiers."

10. Forever Faithless: The Greatest Hits - Faithless

The top 10 closes with Faithless, an underground dance act started by a man named Rollo, who's famous sister Dido got her start singing on some of the band's tracks. Includes such hits as "Insomnia" and "One Step Too Far."

UK Chart Analysis, 1/1/2006

Very unusual last chart for 2005. Normally, there's not much going on here, as positions stay pretty the same as what happened the week before Christmas, as stores are closed part of the time and there are no new major releases. However, this being the first time that downloads have factored into the last chart of the year, the story is quite different. It should come as no surprise that iPods and other portable MP3 players were popular gifts, resulting in a surge of downloads last week from new users. Who benefited? The big acts of 2005, such as Sugababes, James Blunt, and Kelly Clarkson, who all saw their current and previous releases make big strides on the chart.

1. That's My Goal - Shayne Ward

No surprise here--a second week at #1 for The X Factor winner, Shayne Ward. It's two-week tally was enough to make it the second best-selling single of the year.

3. Hung Up - Madonna

The first download beneficiary. After falling to #8 last week, which looked like it would be the last week in the top 10 for this track, Madonna jumps back up 5 places, earning an 8th week in the top 10. One more week and she'll tie her longest-running top 10 hit, "Vogue," which spent 9 weeks in the top 10 in 1990 (technically, "Crazy For You" spent 10 weeks, but that's spread over 2 releases of the track). This is a great longevity run for Madonna, whose last five top 10 singles all spent only 1 week in the top 10. Even Music, her last #1 hit (and a major one), spent only 3 weeks in the top 10.

4. When I'm Gone - Eminem
6. Stickwitu - The Pussycat Dolls

Madonna is one of three acts to move up within the top 10; Eminem's "When I'm Gone" moves up 1 to a new peak at #4 and The Pussycat Dolls' former #1 "Stickwitu" moves up a notch to #6.

7. My Humps - Black Eyed Peas
8. Ugly - Sugababes
9. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt

Three singles move up into the top 10, one for the first time. Black Eyed Peas make the biggest move, up 6 to #7 with "My Humps." Sugababes first of two movers on the chart this week are up 4 with "Ugly," their former top 10 hit. And James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover," which debuted last week at #11, moves up 2 to #9 to become his second top 10 hit.

11. George Best, A Tribute - Brian Kennedy

Moving up 10 places to just miss the top 1o is Brian Kennedy's EP tribute to George Best. The single was available only in Northern Ireland last week, which allowed it to debut at #21.

13. Because of You - Kelly Clarkson
36. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson

Another downloads benificiary, Kelly Clarkson sees her current single "Because of You" move up 4 to #13, and her summer single, "Since U Been Gone" re-enter the top 10 at #36. Her album, Breakaway, also did quite well this week, moving up 5 places to #3.

14. Cash Machine - Hard-Fi

Finally, a new release! Hard-Fi scores their fourth top 40 hit with "Cash Machine," which actually disappoints by missing the top 10 in what would usually be considered an easy week for a developing group like them. This is actually a re-release, as it was their first single, but it failed to chart at all when released a year ago. Since then they've had three other top 40 hits, including the top 10 "Hard to Beat." Hard-Fi is a great act, finally getting their due. The parent album, Stars of CCTV, made a spectacular 29 spot leap to #4 this week on the albums chart.

16. You're Beautiful - James Blunt
17. I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor - Arctic Monkeys
19. Push the Button - Sugababes

A trio of download benificiaries in the lower quarter of the top 20. James Blunt re-enters the top 40 at #16 with "You're Beautiful," the year's bigest non-novelty single. Arctic Monkeys move up 8 places to #17 with their former #1 hit. And the Sugababes, now minus Mutya but plus Amelle, re-enter the top 40 with their former #1, "Push the Button."

21. Bad Day - Daniel Powter
23. Don't Cha - The Pussycat Dolls
29. Gold Diggger - Kanye West
37. Fix You - Coldplay
39. I Predict a Riot - Kaiser Chiefs

You wouldn't be considered a fool for mistaking this week's chart for the year-end one, as these five singles--all big hits earlier this year, make big leaps and re-entries this week. It will be a few weeks before any major releases. Richard Ashcroft is out Jan. 9; Arctic Monkeys and Will Young on Jan. 16. And of course next month will begin the re-release of Michael Jackson singles, starting Feb. 20 with "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Thriller." Will it work like Elvis did last year? We'll see.


Eminem earns a 5th week at #1 for his greatest hits collection, Curtain Call, holding off James Blunt's Back to Bedlam at #2. I already mentioned the big moves for Hard-Fi and Kelly Clarkson, but Kaiser Chiefs, without a current single, also re-enter the top 10 with Employment, moving up 9 places to #7. Biggest surprise of the week: Robbie Williams at #5, not with Intensive Care, but with last year's Greatest Hits. Perhaps it was on sale?