Friday, June 30, 2006

I'm in Billboard!!!!

I wrote to Fred Bronson, Billboard's Chart Beat writer, about Nelly Furtado topping both the US and UK singles charts this week, and he posted my comment! Here's the link: Billboard Chart Beat Chat, 6/30/2006

Here's my comment and his response:



I can't help but be excited to see that the No. 1 singles in the United States and the United Kingdom this week are by the same artist - -Nelly Furtado -- but are different tracks ("Promiscuous" in the United States and "Maneater" in the United Kingdom).

It isn't that rare for an artist to top both charts in the same week with the same song (I think I counted seven such instances during the '00s). But for an artist to be No. 1 simultaneously in both countries with different tracks is pretty rare. The last such instance I found was nine years ago, in the week ending March 15, 1997, when the Spice Girls were No. 1 in the United States with "Wannabe" and No. 1 in the United Kingdom with "Mama" / "Who Do You Think You Are." (Some may argue Elton John did it in December 1997 with "Candle in the Wind 1997" in the United States and as one of the 29 artists featured on the U.K. No. 1 "Perfect Day").

The last time before that? Strangely, another nine years prior, when during the week ending Feb. 6, 1988 (and the week after), Tiffany topped The Billboard Hot 100 with "Could've Been" and the U.K. singles chart with "I Think We're Alone Now."

Just thought I'd share. Thanks,

Andrew Huddleston
Washington, D.C.

Dear Andrew,

It is rare, and thanks for finding examples. One thing to remember when comparing the U.S. and U.K. singles charts is that the Hot 100 is dated with the week ending date, while the date on the British singles chart is the first day of the week.

That's why you'll read in this week's Chart Beat that the most recent instance of an artist being No. 1 in both countries with different songs happened in July 2005, when Usher's "Confessions Part II" was No. 1 in America while his "Burn" topped the U.K. chart.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Scissor Sisters Update

I can't wait for the new Scissor Sisters album! The set, titled Ta-Dah, will be released Sept. 18 (Sept. 26 in US). Their first album, Scissor Sisters, was my second-favorite album of 2004 (just after Keane), and was a stunning debut. Their Official Web site is having some kind of makeover tomorrow. The first single, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" will be out Sept. 4.

I looked them up on Wikipedia and found some interesting facts:
  • Jake Shears wrote the song "Mary" about his real-life best friend Mary, who sadly died of a brain aneurysm just a couple of months ago. "Mary" was a #1 hit on the UK airplay chart 2 years ago.
  • The Scissor Sisters album was the best-selling album in the UK for 2004, beating album #2, Keane's Hopes and Fears, but just over 500 copies.
  • Ana Matronic's father was gay, resulting in the break-up of his marriage to her mother. He died of AIDS when she was young. She cites her interest in gay culture as a means of trying to be closer to him.
  • Ana Matronic fans calls themselves "nuns."
  • The fancy name for the, um, act that the band is named for is tribadism.

Billboard Hot 100 Analysis, 7/8/2006 – Nelly Furtado Pulls Amazing Chart Double

1. Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland

After 5 weeks in the top 10, Nelly Furtado ascends to #1 to score her first US #1 single with “Promiscuous.” The track is a huge hit and a new direction for the pop singer, owing to the hip-hop production courtesy of Timbaland. Furtado’s previous best was the #5 peak of “Turn Off the Light” in late 2001. “Promiscuous” is also this week’s greatest airplay gainer, which should provide some insurance for a comfortable run at the top.

The remarkable thing about this week’s chart though, is that Nelly Furtado is simultaneously #1 in both the US and the UK, but with different tracks! It’s not that uncommon for an artist to top both charts in the same week with the same song—Usher did it twice in 2004 with “Yeah!” and “Burn,” Beyonce did it in 2003 with “Crazy in Love,”—bit it’s pretty rare to do it with different songs.

The last time this happened was 9 years ago in March 1997 when the Spice Girls topped the US chart with their debut single, “Wannabe,” and the UK chart with their 4th single, “Mama / Who Do You Think You Are.” Interestingly, the next previous example was another 9 years prior, when in February 1988 Tiffany was #1 in the US with “Could’ve Been” and in the UK with “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

9. Ain’t No Other Man – Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera climbs 4 spots this week with “Ain’t No Other Man” to score her 7th top 10 hit. Last time in the top 10 for her was 3 years ago when “Beautiful,” second single from Stripped, was in the top 10, eventually peaking at #2. Four of Christina’s six other top 10 hits were #1s: “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” “Come On Over Baby,” and “Lady Marmalade.”

18. Stars Are Blind – Paris Hilton

Tabloid queen and hotel fortune heiress Paris Hilton has turned her attention to pop music of late and lands her first top 40 this week with “Stars Are Blind,” which makes an impressive debut at #18—a higher placing than most veteran artists can manage. The single is decidedly average, but Hilton’s fan base (who is that exactly?) ensures it is chart success.

37. Déjà Vu – Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z

Also entering the top 40 this week (up 7 spots to #37) is the 6th top 40 solo hit for former Destiny’s Child front woman Beyonce, who’s last single, “Check on It,” spent 5 weeks at #1. This is third chart collaboration with boyfriend Jay-Z, following his appearance on her #1 hit from 2003, “Crazy in Love,” and her appearance on his 2002/03 hit “’03 Bonnie & Clyde.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kelly Clarkson "Go"

This summer's seen a great number of big female artists release new material. Next on the list is Kelly Clarkson, with her new single "Go," currently featured in a ford commercial. The only place I could find the track was on You Tube (no video, just audio):

Monday, June 26, 2006

Singles Reviews

In The Morning - Razorlight (5/5)
Get Together - Madonna (5/5)
Valerie - The Zutons (4.5/5)
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson (4/5)
Smile - Lily Allen (4/5)
Hand on Your Heart - Jose Gonzalez (3.5/5)
Buttons - The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Snoop Dogg (2/5)

Click below to read the reviews

In The Morning - Razorlight (5/5)

What a great summer song! Razorlight first caught my attention last year with "Somewhere Else," and "In the Morning" is just as good, if not better. I love it.

Get Together - Madonna (5/5)

"Get Together" is my favorite Confessions on a Dancefloor track, and I'm so glad it was chosen as 3rd single. It reminds me a lot of Kylie's "Love at First Sight"--her 3rd single from Fever--and both owe a debt of gratitute to Stardusts "Music Sounds Better With You." This is a sexy house track that really makes you want to move. So so much better than "Sorry."

Valerie - The Zutons (4.5/5)

"Valerie" unfolds like a lazy, sexy Sunday afternoon. There's a little bit of ska influence, giving it a retro-'90s (yes, it will be upon us soon enough) feel.

Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson (4/5)

Kelly Clarkson's first Breakaway single, the title track, becomes her 5th UK release from the album, almost 2 years after its US release. The mid-tempo number stills sounds great.

Smile - Lily Allen (4/5)

Sounds like Corinne Bailey Rae with a little more kick and a little more old school. Great summer track. Lily sings over a jazzy, piano-driven melody. Gets a little too repetitive at the end.

Hand on Your Heart - Jose Gonzalez (3.5/5)

Guitarist/vocalist Jose Gonzalez reworks Kylie Minogue's #1 hit "Hand on Your Heart" here, turning an '80s pop ditty into a sincere love song. Interesting choice, and when played against the original, it's a bit dull. Still, it's not bad.

Buttons - The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Snoop Dogg (2/5)

Vaguely Middle Eastern rhythms underscore this rap/sung collaboration, the fourth single from The Pussycat Dolls. It's the least interesting of their batch, which started great with "Don't Cha" and "Stickwitu," took a step down with "Beep," but really loses my interest here. The beat's not bad, but I'd really like to hear these girls do some singing that involves variation of notes.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

UK Singles Chart Analysis, 7/1/2006

1. Maneater - Nelly Furtado

A third week at #1 for Nelly Furtado, and no strong challengers next week means she'll probably be at the top for a fourth, unless the Pussycat Dolls or the Kooks can pull an upset. Since Taylor Hicks is the new #1 in the US this week, the UK continues to trail the US in the number of singles to hit #1. This would have been shocking just a few years ago. Last year, there were 9 #1s in the US, compared to 28 #1s in the UK. Both charts underwent significant rule changes earlier this year--namely to incorporate sales of digital singles--however, this has led to the unusual result of making the US singles chart more active, while slowing down the traditionally faster UK chart.

Why? I believe it has to do with the heterogeneity of the US population. The US music audience, has for sometime been divided by Genre, while the UK tends to have a stronger mainstream listening base (albeit one that is more diverse than the US mainstream). The US chart also continues to incorporate radio airplay, while the UK does not. This means that it's not just the individual singles competing for the top in the US, but also the genres, whose playlists tend to be very similar for stations within genres. Hence, if R&B has the most listeners at a given time, then R&B would tend to have the #1 hit, especially if the track was also popular at Top 40. This was why the US chart was so slow for the last few years--it became genre-driven, and therefore only the most popular genre would ever top the chart. With the introduction of downloads, suddenly genres become less important, since sales are driven by individual tastes, which tend to cross genres. Sales also tend to spike early, as buyers move on to something new. This has increased Hot 100 turnover, as well as the ability for multiple genres to top the chart. Even country could have a shot at doing at, as evidenced by the #7 placing this week for Rascal Flatts.

In the UK, on the other hand, the rapidly changing chart, which was entirely sales-driven, has slowed down because of the incorporation of downloads. The download-buying public isn't quite as trend-driven as the shop-buying public, therefore singles are staying at the top longer, as their shelf-life is expanded through the digital medium. Interesting, don't you think?

2. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean

Shakira climbs a notch this week to #2, matching the peak of her first single, "Whenever, Wherever."

4. Supermassive Black Hole - Muse

Here comes Muse, back with their industrial/hard rock sound tempered this time by some retro-electro. Sounds slightly like a demented take on Depeche Mode. At #4, it's the band's highest-charting single among their 14 top 40 hits, beating the #8 peak of 2003's "Time is Running Out."

6. Mas Que Nada - Sergio Mendes Featuring Black Eyed Peas

This is apparently popular because it appears in a British ad for Coke. It's not particularly interesting, and I'm ready for BEP to go away for awhile.

8. Rooftops - Lostprophets

This sounds old-fashioned, but I like it. Reminds me of a lighter version of the Foo Fighters. This is their second top 10 hit, matching the #8 peak of "Last Train Home."

9. Valerie - Zutons

The Zutons are sure making a big impact with their second album. Valerie is the second single and it matches the #9 peak of their last hit from 2 months ago, "Why Won't You Give Me More Love?" The track is also #1 on the UK airplay chart--an impressive achievement. It's a great song, which should finally help them breakout big.

11. Buttons - The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Snoop Dogg

Another step down from "Beep," which itself was a big step down from "Don't Cha" and "Stickwitu." Still, I expect it to jump into the top 5 next week (this is a downloads only placing).

14. She Moves in Her Own Way - The Kooks

Downloads again--top 10 next week for sure. Great follow-up to "Naive."

18. Dirty Little Secret - All-American Rejects

Hasn't this already been released in the UK? This song is so old and I'm more than a little tired of it.

21. Sexy Love - Ne-Yo

Downloads downloads. Top 10 next week! It's the follow-up to his #1 hit, "So Sick," his British handler's wisely skipping over sexist 2nd US single, "When You're Mad."

22. Stranger in Moscow - Michael Jackson

Michael would be stranger anywhere.

Album Review: Orson - Bright Idea (4 / 5)

Orson is the biggest new band of the year coming out of Hollywood, but don’t surprised if nobody in Hollywood has heard of them. Like the Scissor Sisters and the Killers 2 years ago, Orson is taking their show to Britain first—solidifying their UK fan base before trying (presumably again) to make it big at home. The buzz abroad has been intense for this band, who’s first single, “No Tomorrow,” was a #1 hit earlier this year. Bright Idea delivers what you’d expect—a 10-song collection of the kind of retro/funk/pop/rock reminiscent of Maroon 5 or the Killers. I’d place them somewhere in-between those bands too, in terms of quality. Bright Idea starts out strong, but backs down for its second half. It’s never bad, but nothing really interesting happens after track 5.

The album begins with its three strongest tracks. “Bright Idea” opens with drums and guitar, like the band swaggering onstage, and plods along enjoyably. “No Tomorrow,” their first single, is instantly likeable. “Happiness” initially sounds like it’s going to be a retro ‘70s exercise, with a Marvin Gaye-like choral background—but mostly dispenses with that in favor of straight-up guitar rock. “Already Over,” also a great cut, oozes soulful appeal with powerful choruses. “Tryin’ to Help” is good too; melody-driven and slightly retro.

The second half of the album lacks the excitement of the first, but never delivers a bad tune—just nothing that’s really exciting. “So Ahead of Me” also owes a great debt to the ‘70s, and sounds like it could have been borrowed from a disco diva and given a rock makeover. “Last Night’s” slight scratchy guitar underlying the central melody is reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,”—fabulously redone by the Scissor Sisters 3 years ago—but lacks the latter’s gift for presentation.

“Look Around” is the obligatory piano-driven ballad, which predictably adds guitars for verse 2, gets quiet and let’s loose for the bridge. Yes, we’ve heard it before, and it’s not unwelcome, but just kind of boring. “Save the World” provides a good jolt of retro rush before the closer, “OK Song,” which, as the title implies, is just “OK.” Bright Idea is a solid debut, and if my crystal ball is correct, expect “No Tomorrow” to be a big hit in the US next year.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Kylie Minogue is planning to resume her Showgirls tour in Australia this fall. Renamed The Showgirl Homecoming, sources indicated that Minogue's workload will be lighter, but she will be back.

Will Young is flexing his acting muscles again. He's to play the lead role in the upcoming production of Noel Coward's The Vortex. Will made his acting debut last year in the Oscar-nominated film Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Seal and Heidi Klum are expecting a second child. Klum, star of Bravo's Project Runway, already has a son, Henry (9 months), with the singer, as well as a daughter, Leni (2), from a previous relationship. Seal recently lost a £1 million lawsuit from his ex-manager. Not what you want when you've got one on the way.

Justin Timberlake has dumped Cameron Diaz, citing her weight and age as reasons. "You're tearing up my heart!" shrieked Diaz, to which the singer replied, "Senorita, like, I love you, but cry me a river, cuz I'm gone."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Billboard Hot 100 Chart Analysis, 7/1/2006

1. Do I Make You Proud? - Taylor Hicks

American Idol works its chart magic, sending 5th season winner Taylor Hicks to the top of the chart with his debut single, "Do I Make You Proud?" This is the 5th American Idol-generated artist to top the Billboard Hot 100, following winner Kelly Clarkson in 2002 ("A Moment Like This"), runner-up Clay Aiken in 2003 ("This Is The Night"), winner Fantasia in 2004 ("I Believe"), and winner Carrie Underwood in 2005 ("Inside Your Heaven"). Two other artists, 2003's winner Ruben Studdard and 2005's runner-up Bo Bice have had #2 hits: "Flying Without Wings" and "Inside Your Heaven" respectively. Only two American Idol artists have hit the top 10 twice: Clay Aiken, who also hit #4 in 2004 with "Solitaire," and Kelly Clarkson, who's way out in front with six top 10 hits, including last year's #2 smash "Since U Been Gone."

Hicks's single is charting almost solely on sales--as of this writing, "Do I Make You Proud" is #98 on the Mediabase mainstream airplay chart--and I expect it will drop fast next week, as the single has already fallen to #19 on the iTunes sales chart today.

So who will be #1 next week then? Shakira, down at #2 this week, could reclaim the top with "Hips Don't Lie," but my $$$ is on #3...

3. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland

With Shakira declining and Taylor Hicks certain to drop out of the top 10 with a big thud next week, Canadian-Portuguese singer Nelly Furtado is poised to score her first #1 hit next week. "Promiscuous," despite having spent a month in the top 10, is this weeks greatest Airplay Gainer and it tops the iTunes sales chart today. Furtado's "Maneater" spends a 2nd week at #1 in the UK this week.

6. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

Speaking of the UK, that country's biggest hit of '06 so far, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," crashes into the top 10 this week, up 9 spots. It's also a strong contender to hit #1 soon, as it's airplay is picking up signficantly.

7. Life is a Highway - Rascal Flatts

Country act Rascal Flatts scores their second top 10 hit this year with their remake of Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway," not bad for a genre that until recently rarely crossed into the top 20. Fueled by sales--it's this weeks Sales Gainer--"Life is a Highway" climbs 18 spots this week. If it climbs any higher, it could surpass the #6 peak of the original version. Rascal Flatts hit #6 earlier year with "What Hurts the Most."

13. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera's up 6 spots this week in her 2nd week on the chart. I thought it would be top 10. Hmmm... Perhaps the sales will pick up when she's top 10 in airplay.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Personal Chart (With Video!) 6/24/2006

I'm know I'm late, but I just figured out how to link YouTube videos into my blog. Here's this week's top 10 with their videos...

TW LW Wks Title - Artist

1 .... 1 .... 6 .... Hips Don't Lie - Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean (2 wks @ #1)

2 .... 2 .... 9 ..... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (3 wks @ #1)

3 .... 4 .... 6 ..... Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland

4 .... 6 .... 3 ..... Maneater - Nelly Furtado

5 .... 3 .... 8 ..... Fill My Little World - The Feeling

6 .... 8 .... 9 ..... Who Knew - Pink

7 ... 10 ... 4 ..... World at Your Feet - Embrace

8 .... 5 ... 13 .... SOS - Rihanna (1 wk @ #1)

9 .... 7 .... 6 ..... Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot

10 . 19 ... 2 ..... Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Madonna - Get Together

Check out Madonna's trippy animated video for "Get Together."

UK Singles Chart Analysis, 6/24/2006

1. Maneater - Nelly Furtado

It's a second week at #1 for Nelly Furtado, and a third week at the top looks likely for the Portuguese-Canadian songstress. Her album, Loose, hit US record stores this week, backed by her US single, currently #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Promiscuous."

3. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean

It's topping the charts in the U.S., but can't quite reach the top in the UK. Still, at #3, it's the second-biggest hit she's had in Britain, next to the #2 peak of her debut, "Whenever, Wherever."

5. Who Says You Can't Come Home? - Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in the UK. "Have a Nice Day" hit #6 last year, and 2 singles later he has his top 5 hit since "Everyday" hit #5 in 2002. The same can't be said for his home country, where this single peaked at #23.

10. Hurry Up England (The People's Anthem) - Sham 69 & The Special Assembly

Yes, another one of those. Baddiel & Skinner's "3 Lions" is up to #9. World cup songs take up positions 8 (Embrace), 9 (Baddiel/Skinner & Lightning Seeds), 10 (Sham 69), 11 (Tony Christie), 15 (Crazy Frog), 17 (Stan Boardman), and 40 (Trinidad & Tobago Tartan Army).

12. My My My - Armand Van Helden

I think this might have a World Cup connection too, although not in an official capacity. It's the dance artists biggest hit since he went to #4 in May 2000 with "Koochy." It's also a re-release, and went to #15 in 2004. This version is credited as a "Funktuary Mix."

20. So Under Pressure - Dannii Minogue

Dannii Minogue seems to have run out of steam. "So Under Pressure" is her second release in a row to miss the top 10--last time she went to #11 with "Perfection"--after a 5-single run of solid top 10 hits, including the #2 hit "I Begin to Wonder." This is one of the new tracks from her greatest hits collection out this week.

26. They Don't Care About Us - Michael Jackson

And we don't care about you.

29. Mas Que Nada - Sergio Mendes Featuring Black Eyed Peas

This charts on downloads and should be top 10 next week. It's featured in a Nike ad in Britain, hence it's sole popularity there.

39. Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast) - Lostprophets

Another one charting on first-week downloads. Great track--I hope it goes top 10 next week with physical release.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Billboard Hot 100 Chart Analysis, 6/24/2006

1. Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean

“Hips Don’t Lie” spends a second week at #1. It loses its bullet, but how could it not have, given that its first week digital sales broke the one-week record. It’s airplay may be waning too, although it still also tops the Pop 100 and Pop 100 Airplay charts in addition to the R&R’s Top 40.

2. Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland

“Promiscuous” climbs another notch this week and could challenge Shakira for #1 over the next few weeks if it continues to post solid airplay gains. It’s this week’s Airplay Gainer.

3. It’s Goin’ Down – Young Joc

Close behind is this week’s Sales’ Gainer, “It’s Goin’ Down, which moves up 1 spot to #3.

7. Unfaithful – Rihanna

Rihanna continues to climb, up 2 to #7, while her last release, “SOS,” falls out of the top 10 this week.

10. Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Dani California” climbs back into the top 10, matching it’s current peak at #10.

15. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

“Crazy” is the biggest mover within the top 40, up 11 spots this week to #15.

19. Ain’t No Other Man – Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera has the highest new entry on the entire Hot 100 all the way up at #19 this week with “Ain’t No Other Man.” It’s her biggest new entry to date, and in a single week, manages to vastly outperform the chart record of the first single from her last album, “Dirrty,” which peaked at #48. Her last top 40 hit was the final single from that album, “The Voice Within,” which peaked at #33 in 2004. In total, this is her 12th top 40:

1. Genie in a Bottle (#1)
2. What a Girl Wants (#1)
3. The Christmas Song (#18)
4. I Turn to You (#3)
5. Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You) (#1)
6. Nobody Wants to Be Lonely (Ricky Martin featuring Christina Aguilera) (#13)
7. Lady Marmalade (with Pink, Lil Kim, and Mya) (#1)
8. Beautiful (#2)
9. Fighter (#20)
10. Can’t Hold Us Down (#12)
11. The Voice Within (#33)
12. Ain’t No Other Man

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Madonna tops the Dance Chart

Madonna extends her record for the most #1 Billboard Dance/Club Play singles to 36 this week as "Get Together" ascends to the top of the dance chart. The dance chart would probably fizzle up and die if it wasn't for Madonna, who's now spent 66 weeks atop it. Here's the full list of her dance #1s....

1. Holiday / Lucky Star (5 weeks), September 1983
2. Like a Virgin (4 wks), December 1984
3. Material Girl (1 wk), March 1985
4. Into the Groove / Angel (1 wk), June 1985
5. Open Your Heart (1 wk), February 1987
6. Causing a Commotion (1 wk), October 1987
7. You Can Dance (all cuts) (1 wk), February 1988
8. Like a Prayer (2 wks), April 1989
9. Express Yourself (3 wks), July 1989
10. Keep It Together (1 wk), March 1990
11. Vogue (2 wks), May 1990
12. Justify My Love (2 wks), January 1991
13. Erotica (1 wk), November 1992
14. Deeper and Deeper (1 wk), January 1993
15. Fever (1 wk), May 1993
16. Secret (2 wks), November 1994
17. Bedtime Story (1 wk), May 1995
18. Don't Cry For Me Argentina (1 wk), February 1997
19. Frozen (2 wks), April 1998
20. Ray of Light (4 wks), June 1998
21. Nothing Really Matter (2 wks), March 1999
22. Beautiful Stranger (2 wks), July 1999
23. American Pie (1 wk), April 2000
24. Music (5 wks), September 2000
25. Don't Tell Me (1 wk), January 2001
26. What It Feels Like for A Girl (1 wk), June 2001
27. Impressive Instant (2 wks), November 2001
28. Die Another Day (2 wks), November 2002
29. American Life (1 wk), May 2003
30. Hollywood (1 wk), August 2003
31. Me Against the Music (Britney Spears Feat. Madonna) (2 wks), December 2003
32. Nothing Fails (1 wk), February 2004
33. Love Profusion (1 wk), April 2004
34. Hung Up (4 wks), November 2005
35. Sorry (2 wks), March 2006
36. Get Togther (? wks), June 2006

Personal Chart, 6/17/2006

TW LW Wks Title - Artist
1 .... 8 .... 5 .... Hips Don't Lie - Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... 8 .... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (3 wks @ #1)
3 .... 2 .... 7 .... Fill My Little World - The Feeling
4 .... 5 .... 5 .... Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland
5 .... 4 ... 12 ... SOS - Rihanna (1 wk @ #1)
6 ... 23 ... 2 .... Maneater - Nelly Furtado
7 .... 3 .... 5 ..... Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot
8 ... 10 ... 8 .... Who Knew - Pink
9 .... 6 .... 8 ..... Bright Idea - Orson
10 .. 20 .. 3 .... World at Your Feet - Embrace

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

UK Chart Analysis, 6/17/2006

Nelly Furtado earns her first #1 single this week, but the real star of the chart is the World Cup tie-ins, of which no less than six debut or climb up the chart this week. Click below to read it all.

1. Maneater – Nelly Furtado Nelly Furtado’s 7th top 40 hit becomes her first to go all the way to #1. “Maneater” is the first single from her forthcoming LP Loose. The album, much of which is produced by US hip-hop producer Timbaland, is a new direction for the pop singer, whose last set, Folklore, failed to generate any top 10 UK hits. Things are different this time, as Nelly has effectively latched onto the R&B/pop bandwagon, while still retaining a unique sound. It was a close race to #1 too. Midweeks had Nelly and Sandi Thom neck and neck for this week’s top spot. 3. World at Your Feet – Embrace

Embrace had their biggest hit ever with their last single, "Nature's Law," which peaked at #2. Now they have their second-biggest hit with "World at Your Feet," the official England anthem for this year's World Cup. If England does well at the event, this could even climb the chart over the next few weeks. Although not as good as if they had released another single off their current album, this song is still very "Embrace," with its soaring, anthemic choruses. It rightfully leads this week's pack of World Cup tie-ins.

4. Monster – The Automatic

They almost got lost amid World Cup fever, but rock band The Automatic score a decent-sized hit with their first single, “Monster.”

8. (Is This the Way to) The World Cup – Tony Christie

I can’t imagine this is any good at all, but World Cup songs aren’t always about quality. It climbs up 3 spots this week.

10. 3 Lions – Baddiel / Skinner / Lightning Seeds

“3 Lions” takes the cake as the classic World Cup theme. It was introduced in 1996, recorded as the official England theme of the 1996 European football championships, and spent 2 weeks at #1. Two years later, a new version, “3 Lions ’98,” became England’s official World Cup anthem, sending the only 2-year old track back to #1 for 3 weeks. Ever since, a World Cup release has been obligatory. In 2002, it managed only #16, but this year it’s back in the top 10 at #10 on the 10th anniversary of its release—three 10’s for “3 Lions,” cool eh?

11. We Are the Champions - Crazy Frog

Like Tony Christie, Crazy Frog’s three biggest recent hits have been a novelty release, a Christmas song, and a World Cup anthem. Perhaps they are one in the same?

13. Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann – Tonedef All Stars

Clearly this is a very insiderish World Cup reference. It has something to do with the tabloids and the “old football rivalry” between England and Germany. Okay…

14. The Youngest Was the Most Loved – Morrissey

So, as World Cup fever hits fever pitch, both on and off the pitch, (too many double entendres there), singles by legitimate artists are relegated to the sidelines (okay—enough with the football references!!) Morrissey’s second single from his latest LP falls far below the #3 peak of his last release, “You Have Killed Me.” Expect it to drop like a stone next week, as all of his singles tend to do.

15. Stan’s World Cup Song – Stan Boardman

Yes, there’s one more. I have no idea who Stan Boardman is and I don’t care, but there you have it—this week’s crop of World Cup singles—all in the top 15.

18. John the Revelator / Lilian – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode’s fourth Playing the Angel single joins the last 2 in making the top 20 but missing the top 10. It’s not a bad track, but only “Precious” scored chart gold among their latest releases. Kinda weird really.

20. Never Went to Church – The Streets

This has to be quite a disappointment. Seems there’s been a backlash against the Streets lately, as this seemed poised to be a big top 10 hit. It’s no “Dry Your Eyes,” but it is as sweet a song as Mike Skinner is probably able to put out. And just in time for Father’s Day too, as the track is a tribute to his dad.

32. Follow Me Home – Sugababes

Ouch! That’s gotta hurt. After a streak of seven top hits, the last three of which (all from current album Taller in More Ways) made the top 5, “Follow Me Home” whimpers onto the chart at #32 to become to lowest-charting Sugababes single ever, besting the lowly #30 peak of their 4th single, “Soul Sound.”

34. Earth Song – Michael Jackson

Too bad he can’t write “Mars Song” from personal experience.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Single Review: Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man (5/5)

This gets its own review. Why? Because it's going to be the summer's biggest hit. It's been 4 years since Christina Aguilera released her last album, Stripped, between which she managed to avoid starring in tabloid stories, get hitched, and lend her voice to the Shark Tales soundtrack (her "Car Wash" remake), and collaborate with Nelly and Herbie Hancock. Not bad. While her contemporary Britney Spears falls further into embarrasing self-parody, Aguilera has emerged as the class act in pop--the one they all want to emulate.

The first single off her last album, "Dirrty" was a hit in Europe, but faltered in the US. No chance of that here. "Ain't No Other Man" is classy, ballsy, bluesy pure pop fun. Horns blare between lyrical blasts from Aguilera's powerful pipes. It bristles with retro (and I mean '30s, not the '70s) cool and modern sensibility. It appears sample-laden, but is supposedly entirely a new recording. This track is presumably from the first of the two discs that will comprise her hotly anticipated upcoming album. "Just do your thing honey," intones some cheerleading woman between verses. Christina does her thing it indeed.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Album Review: Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental (4/5)

The Pet Shop Boys and I have an interesting history. I wasn’t a fan of them in the ‘80s-- really the only time they were popular in the US with hits like “West End Girls” and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” My introduction to the band came in 1995 during college freshman year when a friend loaned me their brilliant 1993 gay/dance album, Very. Instantly it was one of my favorites and I declared them my favorite musical act for a few years (sorry Madonna). I sought out their back catalogue, conveniently collected in Discography, their first singles collection. Then Bilingual came out in 1996, and although the Latin-flavored disc was not as good as Very, It was still pretty good, and I was happy to be a fan of something current from them.

Things went downhill from there. 1999’s campy Nightlife had some great moments, but was uneven. Then 2002’s Release was a real letdown, which I barely listened to. It was the nail in the coffin for my fandome with the boys. Gone they were from my “ten best” lists, and of course, I completely ignored their ridiculous Battleship Potemkin “soundtrack.”

I’m happy to report the group is back on track with Fundamental, a moody synth-driven collection that takes the Pet Shop Boys back to their ‘80s roots. “Psychological,” a dark brooding track plods along, at first seemingly fine but not thrilling, until you get about halfway through the song. Then the song takes a break before erupting with strong synth chords at the end. The deep bass beat is reminiscent of Depeche Mode, another ‘80s synth group enjoying a resurrection and revisitation of their roots with their recent album.

From there, things get campy with “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show,” which opens with a heartbeat, carnival noise, “sun, sex, sin, divine intervention, death, and destruction.” It’s an enjoyable romp of a song, and sounds like it could have been a Very single B-side. “I Made My Excuses and Left” is a melodramatic tale of finding one’s man with another man, and thus feeling like a “supplicant” i.e. someone replaced. Is it meant to be funny? serious? both? Who knows—that’s one of the best aspects of the Pet Shop Boys—their tongue-in-cheek demeanor that manages to also evoke actual emotion while wrapping the story in lovely layers of electronica, a genre often criticized for being emotionally detached. The song’s string bridge is probably the most beautiful moment in any PSB song to date.

Fundamental also visits a few political themes, no stranger to any good PSB disc. “I’m With Stupid,” the album’s first single, is written as a monologue by Tony Blair talking about George W. Bush as if the former has been seduced (literally? Figuratively?) by the latter’s power. Clever and far subtler than Pink’s “Dear Mr. President.” Musically, it’s a great lead-in for the album’s retro back-to-PSB-basics approach.

Other great moments include “Minimal,” the album’s best pure dance track, and as writing this slated to be the second single (good choice!). “Luna Park” is a calm, mysterious number. “Casanova in Hell,” is underscored with ‘80s video game-like sounds, and is lyrically quite creative—it tells the story of Casanova, the famous lover, who in truth can’t “get it up” and is therefore a laughingstock. His solution? Have “the last laugh” Become a famous writer casting himself as the great lover he really isn’t, so that history can remember him for what he wants to be and not what he is. “Indefinite Leave to Remain” appears to be devoid of irony; it’s just a straight-up enjoyable love ballad punctuated with long vocabulary words. Closing track “Integral” instantly comes to life and never calms down. It’s also a political message, spoken in the voice of an unforgiving political machine that, having secured a “mandate” and catalogued all of its citizens with ID codes, marches along eliminating so-called threats to make the world sterile, immaculate, rational, and perfect.

Low points? Yes, there are a few, namely Diane Warren’s tepid ballad “Numb,” which is perhaps trying to make a political statement, but lacks the lyrical depth to express any meaning other than the desire for bliss ignorance. “Indefinite Leave to Remain” appears to be devoid of irony; it’s just a straight-up love ballad punctuated with long vocabulary words. I grow a bit tired of having to look lyrics up in the dictionary. Overall, however, Fundamental is their best album since Very. It sometimes sounds too much like that brilliant collection of 13 years ago that made me first embrace the group, but I’ll let that go, because it works so well. This is classic PSB the way they should be.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Billboard Hot 100 Analysis, 6/17/2006

1. Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean

Finally! After 12 weeks on the chart, Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” finally ascends to the top, thanks to a record-breaking week of digital sales (over 266,000 paid downloads). “Hips Don’t Lie” is perhaps the most exciting #1 single of the year so far and the culmination of Shakira’s career up to this point, despite the fact that it was an afterthought. The Colombian singer’s international pop career exploded in 2002 with the release of her first English-language album, Laundry Service, which gave her two top 10 hits in the US, “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes.” The set was also a massive hit in Europe. For her next move, Shakira devised a 1-2 punch, the Oral Fixation project, which would consist of a Spanish-language album, Fijacion Oral Vol 1, followed in 6 months by its English companion, Oral Fixation Vol 2. Fijacion Oral Vol 1 was a surprise hit, landing at #4 on the album’s chart, despite its expected limited appeal as a foreign language set. It’s first single, “La Tortura,” was a top 40 hit. In comparison, Oral Fixation Vol 2 was a disappointment. It’s first single, “Don’t Bother,” was taken as advice by the music public, and the track missed the top 40. Enter Wyclef Jean, hip-hop performer/producer and former member of The Fugees who gave Whitney Houston her last big hit (“My Love is Your Love”). A new track was created to try to give Oral Fixation Vol 2 a second chance. “Hips Don’t Lie” was born, a hook-laden blend of latin and R&B sounds ready-made to become a multiformat smash. And so it did. “Hips Don’t Lie” instantly climbed airplay playlists and has topped the R&R Top 40 chart for the last month. Yet the single was languishing on the Billboard Hot 100, on which sales had become increasingly important in factoring the chart. Hoping to fuel album sales, Shakira’s record company withheld the track from being sold in digital outlets. Last week though, that changed. “Hips Don’t Lie” was instantly the best-selling download ever and easily climbed to the top spot, where it’s likely to stay for some time.

3. Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland

Here’s the other pop star whose career was recently saved by a hip-hop producer/performer. It holds at #3 this week, and might have had a shot at #1 if “Hips Don’t Lie” hadn’t been released. Still, at #3, it’s Nelly Furtado’s biggest hit to date. Her third album, Loose, hits US stores June 20.

4. It’s Goin’ Down – Yung Joc

Yung Joc leaps 20 spots to #4 with his first single “It’s Goin’ Down.” I wish it was, as I just listened to it and was not impressed.

9. Unfaithful – Rihanna

“Unfaithful” climbs 3 spots to #9 this week, giving Rihanna her third top 10 hit. Last single, the #1 smash “SOS,” is still in the top 10 at #7. This song is okay, but I can’t help but think it would sound much better in the hands of a more formidable singer like Christina Aguilera. “SOS” is more Rihanna’s speed.

26. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

After conquering Britain, where “Crazy” spent 9 weeks at #1, Gnarls Barkley is turning their eyes toward the US market. “Crazy” is up 9 spots this week in its second week in the top 40.

27. Buttons – The Pussycat Dolls

The 4th Pussycat Dolls single pales in comparison to their others, yet it rises 10 spots this week.

39. Torn – LeToya

Don’t know much about her and haven’t heard this yet, but it’s this week’s airplay gainer, up 9 spots.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Personal Chart 6/10/2006

TW LW Wks Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 7 ..... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (3 wks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... 6 .... Fill My Little World - The Feeling
3 .... 4 .... 4 .... Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot
4 .... 2 ... 11 ... SOS Rihanna (1 wk @ #1)
5 .... 8 .... 4 .... Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland
6 .... 6 .... 7 .... Bright Idea - Orson
7 .... 5 ... 12 ... You're All I Have - Snow Patrol (2 wks @ #1)
8 ... 21 ... 4 .... Hips Don't Lie - Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean
9 .... 9 .... 6 .... Trouble Sleeping - Corinne Bailey Rae
10 . 14 ... 7 .... Who Knew - Pink

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

News Tidbits

Scissor Sisters - Scissors Sisters have confirmed plans to release their second album. Named Ta-dah, the album will be preceded by first single "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'," a collaboration with Elton John. The album is out Sept. 18.

Christina Aguilera - iTunes has added her new single, "Ain't No Other Man," the advance release from her forthcoming album--her first release since 2002's Stripped. Aguilera announced that the album has been divided into 2 discs--the first featuring a retro jazz/R&B sound and the second featuring her work with producer Linda Perry, best known for her recent work with Pink. The album, Back to Basics, is out August 15.

Kylie Minogue - Kylie was named "Woman of the Year" at the recent Glamour Awards in London. While she could not attend, she thanked her fans for their support during the last year. Kylie also announced recently that she'd like to have a baby with boyfriend-actor Olivier Martinez.

Sugababes - The Sugababes have announced they will release their greatest hits this winter. Dispelling the inevitable break-up discussions, they also announced plans for a fifth album in 2007.

Billy Preston - The keyboardist, nicknamed "the fifth Beatle" for his work with the band, died in Phoenix at age 59. He'd been in a coma since November while battling kidney failure.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dannii Minogue Preps Greatest Hits

Dannii Minogue, Kylie's younger sister who is also a pop star, is releasing her greatest hits collection, The Hits and Beyond, on June 19th. The disc has 20 tracks, 6 of which are new. The other 14 include all of her recent hits and some of her earlier hits as well (for a comprehensive collection of her early releases, get 1999's Singles).

Dannii's career has never been as consistent or successful as her older sister's. She's released only 4 albums in the last 15 years, the last of which, Neon Nights (2003), was the most successful, giving her 4 top 10 hits. Although grounded in pop, Dannii is more a dance club artist than her sister, and some of her most interesting work has been remixes, mash-ups, or overlays (my term for laying a new vocal track over an existing instrumental track).

My 5 favorite Dannii moments:

1. Don't Wanna Lose This Groove (2003)

This track was a B-side of "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling," and mashed up that track with Madonna's "Into the Groove," an unexpected but effective marriage of the '80s and today.

2. Who Do You Love Now (Stringer) (2001)

"Stringer" was an existing instrumental dance track by Riva, which was combined with a new vocal track by Dannii to create "Who Do You Love Now," her most stomping house composition.

3. I Begin to Wonder (2003)

Neon Night's third single was a bass-rich track that clearly evoked Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round," which was later mashed-up with the track. Here, I prefer the original for its simplicity.

4. All I Wanna Do (1997)

From Dannii's third album, Girl, "All I Wanna Do" was my introduction to her. It's a great '90s dance track, and her biggest hit to date at the time it was released.

5. You Won't Forget About Me (2004)

Another overlay, this time with Dannii's vocals over "Flower Power." Great dance track.

New Keane Web site

Keane has updated their official Web site and it's much cooler now. In case you need a reminder, Under the Iron Sea is out next Monday, June 12th (June 20th in the US).

UK Chart Analysis, 6/10/2006

Sandi Thom climbs to the top ending Gnarls Barkley's amazing 9-week run at #1, while Orson's debut disc tops the albums chart. Click below for more details.

UK Singles:

1. I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) - Sandi Thom

Last week I wrote about how Sandi launched herself on the internet, so I won't bore you with those details now. The singer tops the chart with her debut, "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker." She climbs up a notch in her third week, ending Gnarls Barkley's run at #1 after 9 weeks at the top. Barkley's "Crazy" was deleted by record companies, and thus can remain on the chart for only 1 more week.

3. Is It Any Wonder? - Keane

My prediction was that these guys would be the ones to end "Crazy's" run at the top, but instead have to settle in at #3, matching the peak of their debut single, "Somewhere Only We Know." "Is It Any Wonder?" is the first single from their forthcoming Under the Iron Sea, out in 1 week and 1 day.

5. Who Knew - Pink

Pink scores her 7th top 5 hit with "Who Knew," the second release from I'm Not Dead, which manages to chart just 1 place lower than her previous, "Stupid Girls." By hitting the top 5, "Who Knew" bests the performance of second singles from her last 2 albums--"God Is A DJ" hit #11 and "Don't Let Me Get Me" hit #6.

6. All Over Again - Ronan Keating Featuring Kate Rusby

Ronan Keating scores his 14th top 10 hit this week with "All Over Again," a sappy by-the-numbers ballad to join all the others he's put out. Thank god he hasn't tortured us yet with his remake of Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris," which was the first single chosen for some countries. At #6, "All Over Again" does better than the first single from his last album, "Lost For Words," which gave him a career low peak of #9. I don't know who Kate Rusby is, but she can't be that interesting if she's singing with Ronan. I liked Ronan at one time--still love "Lovin' Each Day"--but he's gotten so boring now.

7. Faster Kill Pussycat - Oakenfold Featuring Brittany Murphy

Oakenfold, the performance name of DJ Paul Oakenfold, had a huge dance hit in 2002 with "Starry Eyed Surprise," which hit #6 in August of that year. He's back now with actress Brittany Murphy (Clueless, Uptown Girls) and has another hit on his hands with the sultry "Faster Kill Pussycat," which is up from its downloads-only debut last week at #37.

8. Maneater - Nelly Furtado

Speaking of downloads, Nelly Furtado scores a massive debut on downloads alone this week with "Maneater," in all the way up at #8. In doing so, the track has already out-charted all 3 singles from her last album, and has a strong shot of being #1 next week. The folksy-pop sound of her last 2 albums has been replaced with a strong urban-pop sound, featuring tracks produced (and even guest starring) Timbaland.

11. (Is This The Way To) The World Cup - Tony Christie
19. Stan's World Cup Song - Stan Boardman
38. World at Your Feet - Embrace

World Cup fever is here, and the inevitable batch of cheezy tie-in songs will assault the charts over the next few weeks. First impact is here with Tony Christie milking last year's surprise novelty hit for all its worth with a World Cup sendup of the same song (Is This The Way to Amarillo). Gag. At least Embrace's song is a respectable original track that can stand on its own merits, charting this week at #38 on downloads.

22. And It Feels Like - Leann Rimes

Feel's like what Leann? Certainly not another hit like "How Do I Live."

23. Monster - Automatic

A downloads debut for the new rock band, sure to vault top 10 next week.

30. You Are Not Alone - Michael Jackson

That's right Michael, I'm not alone. But you really should be.

37. Love Sensation '06 - Loleatta Holloway

I thought this would do better. Oh well, such is life.

40. Trouble Sleeping - Corinne Bailey Rae

Now here's a real disappointing debut. I had to look up this track's release date again, just to be sure this wasn't a downloads-only debut. Nope. This is its official full week of physical sales debut. Her last single, "Put Your Records On," was a massive #2 hit that spent more than a month at #1 on the airplay chart and propelled her debut album to #1. Follow-up "Trouble Sleeping" limps onto the top 40 at #40. Ouch!

Album Review: Snow Patrol - Eyes Open (4.5 / 5)

In 2004, Snow Patrol jumped on the prevailing bandwagon of British rock (i.e. entering the "who can fill the void between Coldplay albums" contest). "Run" was lush and memorable; "Chocolate" and "Spitting Games" were memorable too, but too much of Final Straw suffered from an obvious sameness between cuts. Eyes Open bucks that tendency, delivering a great set of 11 coherent rock cuts that chronicle a story a relationship journey from love through dysfunction to ultimate resolution. And did I mention that this time they really rock? Eyes Open kicks off with the double punch of "You're All I Have" and "Hands Open," the first singles in the UK and US respectively. "You're All I Have," is energetic, fun, put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of rock. "Hands Open" is too, and for whatever reason, namechecks Sufjan Stevens (although the song sounds nothing like Stevens, but it's still fun).

Following those tracks is "Chasing Cars," another of the album's highlights. It's a tender rock ballad--a slow-builder--with a simplicity and tenderness that manages to be affecting and quite touching. "Shut Your Eyes" evokes mystery, while reminding a lover to remember a happy place "when the worrying starts to hurt." "It's Beginning to Get to Me," a enjoyable mid-tempo number in the Killers vein of synth-layered rock that chronicles the collapse of a relationship. Lyrically, the entire album is clearly the result of the songwriter (not sure who does the duty for the band) having put everything on the line for a relationship that didn't work out. "I can only give you everything I got" croons the leader singer in "Make This Go On Forever," a piano and strings ballad with vocals. Unlike Embrace's bombastic tendency to turn such songs over the top, this track retains its intimacy and impact.

Martha Wainwright shows up on "Set the Fire to the Third Bar," an interesting and dramatic number that almost sounds like something Moby might have done in the mid-90s. "Open Your Eyes," an obvious bookend to "Shut Your Eyes," builds up slowly to an optimistic conclusion ("I won't waste a minute without you"). Mellow "The Finish Line" closes the album, declaring that "the finish line's a good place we could start." Despite their depency and dysfunction, the couple seems to have decided to turn the page and give it another go. Eyes Open is thoroughly enjoyable--a worthy effort and the best I've heard so far this year.

Personal Chart, 6/3/2006

TW LW Wks Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 6 ..... Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 ... 10 ... SOS - Rihanna (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 6 .... 5 .... Fill My Little World - The Feeling
4 .... 9 .... 3 .... Everybody's Gone to War - Nerina Pallot
5 .... 3 ... 11 ... You're All I Have - Snow Patrol
6 .... 8 .... 6 .... Bright Idea - Orson
7 ... 10 ... 4 .... I'm With Stupid - Pet Shop Boys
8 ... 14 ... 3 .... Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland
9 ... 11 ... 5 .... Trouble Sleping - Corinne Bailey Rae
10 .. 4 .... 7 .... Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers