Thursday, September 28, 2006

George Michael 25

Billboard revealed the tracklist for George Michael's upcoming greatest hits collection, Twenty Five. The album will be sold as a 2-disc or 3-disc set. There will also be a DVD videos collection. The collection does include some good stuff left off his previous hits collection, 1998's Ladies and Gentlemen, but as is usually the case with these things, there are some obvious omissions.

On the plus side:
1. This collection includes four Wham! hits.
2. Almost all of his singles since the 1998 set are here (the six Patience singles, plus the two newer singles recorded for the album, "An Easier Affair" and "This Is Not Real Love (with Mutya Buena)."
3. There's a new version of "Heal the Pain," re-recorded as a duet with Paul McCartney
4. "As" is included. "As" is a duet with Mary J. Blige that was included as a new song on the UK version of the Ladies and Gentlemen set, but omitted from the US version. I presume this was because her record company didn't want her associated with him so soon after his toilet incident. Pity, because it was a fantastic single, hitting #4 in Britain.
5. "Older," which was omitted from the last collection, is included here.

On the minus side:
1. The single version of "I Want Your Sex," which was missing from Ladies and Gentlemen, is once again missing here.
2. Several other big hits that made the last set are missing, including #1 hits like "I'm Your Man," "Edge of Heaven," "I Knew You Were Waiting," and "Monkey."
3. Nothing from the Five Live EP was included.
4. George Michael's duet with Whitney Houston, "If I Told You That," a top 10 hit for them, is not here.

Disc 3 seems like kind of waste. It's made up of mostly album cuts, including seven tracks from Patience and three tracks from his 1999 covers album, Songs from the Last Century.

Here's the track list for the 2-discs of hits:

"Everything She Wants," Wham!
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," Wham!
"Freedom," Wham!
"Too Funky"
"Freedom '90"
"Spinning the Wheel"
"As" with Mary J. Blige
"Shoot the Dog"
"Flawless (radio edition)"
"An Easier Affair"

Disc two:
"Careless Whisper"
"Last Christmas," Wham!
"A Different Corner"
"Father Figure"
"One More Try"
"Praying for Time"
"Heal the Pain" with Paul McCartney
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" with Elton John
"Jesus to a Child"
"Round Here"
"You Have Been Loved"
"John and Elvis Are Dead"
"This Is Not Real Love" with Mutya

Monday, September 25, 2006

Kayne = Scissor Sisters?

Both the Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly compare the Scissor Sisters' new album Ta-Dah to contestant Kayne from this season's Project Runway. Weird coincidence? Probably not, given that Entertainment Weekly loves the album (A-) and Rolling Stone thinks it's so-so (3/5). Actually, Rolling Stone says it sounds like disco Kayne would design, while Entertainment Weekly says that it could have sounded like something Kayne would do, but transcends his lack of taste. Quit ragging on Kayne! Kayne was a fantastic Project Runway contestant. He made it pretty far and even won a contest.

New music this week

The Scissor Sisters release their second album, Ta-Dah, in the US tomorrow. It came out last week in the UK and easily topped the UK albums chart. Their single, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" is spending its third week at #1 on the UK sales chart and its sixth week at #1 on the UK airplay chart. The album is getting rave reviews. Entertainment Weekly gave it an A- saying it's about as much fun as you can have on an album while still delivering an unexpected emotional punch.

UK pop singer Jamelia's third album, Walk with Me, came out today in Britain. It features the fantastic first single "Something About You." I think the album is really good, particularly the second half. In a world of tuneless beat-driven R&B, it's nice to hear something that actually focuses on the music.

Also out tomorrow is Janet Jackson's ninth studio album, 20 Y.O., the title being a nod to her third album, Control, which came out 20 years ago and really launched her career as a music superstar. Sadly, 20 Y.O. will do nothing to return her to such status. I listened to the song clips, and the only thing that interested me was a track called "Enjoy." Just like every other Janet Jackson album there's a rainstorm blowing through--this time it's during the track 13 interlude.

There's also a handful of great singles out in the UK. My favorite is "Changes," by Chris Lake Featuring Laura V, a really great House dance that sounds like it comes right from the late '90s. It's been on the BBC Radio 1 A-list for the last few weeks. Lily Allen's second single, "LDN" is the best track from her album Alright, Still. The Pussycat Dolls release the 5th (!) single from their album PCD, "I Don't Need a Man," which will likely go top 10 just like the other four. It's a good song--more immediately likable than "Buttons," which took awhile to grow on me.Evanescence returns with "Call Me When You're Sober," which is more of the same kind of sound they delivered last time. Roger Sanchez returns with "Lost," a decent, but not that interesting dance track. Paolo Nutini releases his second single, "Jenny Don't Be Hasty," which doesn't live up to his last track, "Last Request." Leann Rimes and Brian McFadden team up on "Everybody's Someone," a thoroughly boring ballad that sounds like they forgot half their lyrics to. It doesn't soar where it should, but just dribbles out. Boring. Where's Guy Chambers when you need him? Chris Lake (5/5), Lily Allen (5/5), The Pussycat Dolls (4/5), Evanescence (4/5), Roger Sanchez (3/5), Paolo Nutini (3/5), Leann Rimes and Brian McFadden (2/5).

Friday, September 22, 2006

All Saints Comeback

The All Saints are reported to be staging a comeback. The band, made up of Nicole and Natalie Appleton, Melanie Blatt and Shaznay Lewis, broke up five years ago after two albums and a greatest hits collection. The first single entitled "Rock Steady", is due for release on November 6th, followed by the album "Studio 1" released on November 20th.

Viewed as the anti-Spice Girls, a sort of early Sugababes, the All Saints were the '90s "respectable" UK girl group. They were quite successful, scoring two massive #1 hits: "Never Ever," which was released in 1997, hit #1 early in 1998, and won the Brit Award for best single that year, and "Pure Shores" in 2000, which was the second-biggest seller that year. Other notable hits included their remake of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge," (#1 in '98), the downbeat "Black Coffee" (#1 in '00), "Bootie Call" (#1 in '98), and "I Know Where It's At," the group's first single.

Personal Chart, 9/23/2006

TW LW Wks Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 8 .... I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters (6 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 ... 10 .. Sexyback - Justin Timberlake
3 .... 5 .... 7 .... When You Were Young - The Killers
4 .... 3 .... 9 .... Never Be Lonely - The Feeling
5 .... 4 .... 4 .... It's Not That Easy - Lemar
6 ... 18 ... 2 .... Something About You - Jamelia
7 .... 7 .... 7 .... Too Little, Too Late - Jojo
8 .... 9 ... 16 ... Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
9 .... 6 ... 11 ... Buttons - The Pussycat Dolls
10 .. 12 .. 7 ... Rudebox - Robbie Williams

Monday, September 18, 2006

Scissor Sisters Preview

My Space has a limited time preview of the Scissor Sisters' new album, Ta-Dah, out today in Britain (out next Tuesday in the US). Here are my first impressions....

I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’

Opens with a guitar intro not on the single version—then into the hit song we all love. Perfect.

She’s My Man

Sounds like someone turned on a jukebox at the honky tonk. This is a fun song, lots of staccato piano chords. It’s more rocky than we usually get from them. Some girl’s drinking “rusty razorblades.” Yikes!

I Can’t Decide

This has an almost folksy beginning. It’s jaunty and fun. “It’s a bitch convincing people to like you.” That’s true. Short song, but good.


This is more funky ‘70s sounding than the other songs so far. Jake sounds weird, but doesn’t he always?

Land of a Thousand Words

The ballad. This is nice. Sounds like the last album’s ballad, “Mary,” although not as sad. It’s nice. I like that they can turn around a serious song amidst all the camp. That they have such a range is what makes Scissor Sisters such a cool band. They’re not one note hacks. They have real talent. Great ending too. Really good song.


Strings? Ooh… this is really weird. Has that whole carnival sound to it that annoys me about Goldfrapp’s first album and Christina Aguilera’s new one. Not that great, but not a deal killer.

Kiss You Off

This sounds cool. Got some ‘80s pop and rock influence. Ana’s singing! Such a rarity (Jake really steals her thunder, don’t you think?). I like this. Good song.


Back to the dance floor. Kinda strange, but decent. Good beat.

Paul McCartney

Opens with a very ‘80s keyboards rift. Sounds like they borrowed Madonna’s drum machine too. What does this have to do with Paul McCartney? Reminds me of “The Music Is the Victim.”

The Other Side

Another ballad? I hear some pianos and darkness. Cool guitar work Babydaddy. This has a really different sound to it for them. I like it.

Might Tell You Tonight

This sounds like the typical Scissor Sisters sound. Retro-ish, with piano and drums. Sounds good.

Everybody Wants the Same Thing

How to describe this? Rocky? Retro? More of the same? Sure, but it works well.

Sounds good. Really good. Definitely keeping up the party, that’s for sure. I’m excited to get the album. I ordered the special edition, so there’s some more songs on it, including “Hair Baby,” which is about something kind of disgusting, so I won’t describe it here.

UK Singles Chart, 9/23/2006

1. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters

The Scissor Sisters hold on to #1 for a second week. Their second album, Ta-Dah is out today in the UK--an easy, EASY #1 for the album's chart next week. But will that spell disaster for the single? With The Killers' "When You Were Young" single out today, it seems the 'Sisters' run at the top may have come to an end. They also spend a 6th week atop the airplay chart, tying it with Lily Allen's "Smile" for second-longest run on the chart (Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" spent 8 weeks at #1).

3. London Bridge - Fergie

Making a big leap on the back of her street release for "London Bridge" is Fergie, the Black Eyed Peas female member who goes it solo this week. Fergie joined the 'Peas for the release of their third album, Elephunk, which launched their career into soaring heights due to the international #1 hit "Where Is The Love." Fergie shined more on their fourth album, notable for hits like "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and "My Humps." At #3, this ties the peak of those 2 singles (it did better in the US, spending 3 weeks at #1 this summer). A good first release from her.

5. When You Were Young - The Killers

The Killers return this week debuting at #5 on downloads only with "When You Were Young," a fantastic comeback single for them. It's a strong contender for #1 next week. It's their third top 10 single, bested so far only by the #3 peak of "Somebody Told Me."

10. Something About You - Jamelia

This is pathetic! This is a great pop song. It should be much MUCH higher. C'mon! It's Jamelia's 6th top 10 hit and first single from her forthcoming third album, which I've heard is really really good. Can't wait.

29. Target - Embrace

Well I guess the Brits have had enough of them for now. Jeez. This is a good song too. This is the follow-up to their World Cup song, "World At Your Feet," which hit #3.

Confessions on Couch

So, I've been ragging on Fergie's "London Bridge" saying it's stupid, tuneless, has a picture of the Tower Bridge on the cover (not the London Bridge), etc... And a funny thing happened through it all... I actually like the song. ARG!!! It pains me to admit it, but after listening to it a few times (so my criticism could be informed, of course), it grew on me. Yes, it's really more like a chant than a song. Yes, some guy says "Oh Shit" over and over, but, I like it. "How come every time you come around my London London Bridge wanna go down like London London London." She wins.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Album Review: Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Ballad of the Broken Seas (4.5 / 5)

“Beauty and the Beast” is the obvious literary parallel for the collaboration between Belle and Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell and former Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan—her youthful, angelic voice is a stark constrast to his low and raspy one. Together, mostly under her influence, they have crafted a surprisingly beautiful collection of old-fashioned dark pop/folk songs. It recalls the 1960s collaboration between Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, which Campbell names as an influence on her Web site, along with Johnny Cash’s “American Recordings,” (Johnny Cash is an easy comparison; when I bought this album I remarked that it sounded like what would’ve happened if Kylie and Johnny had gotten together).

The Cash-like “Deus Ibi Est” opens the album, starting off with a simple, plodding guitar and bass drum melody with Lanegan chanting, then Campbell’s ethereal vocals come in for the chorus. It’s a great simple song and a perfect opening for what’s to follow. String and acoustic guitar form the foundation of “Black Mountain” which has a meditative quality courtesy of Campbell’s repetitive lyrics. I’m guess the cello bridge of courtesy of Campbell herself. “The False Husband” opens like lovers confronting each other at the O.K. Corrral and sounds like should be the missing ballad from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. The dark western verses (his vocals) break into string-backed mysterious choruses (her vocals). As if the first two songs weren’t great enough, this is the best so far.

“Revolver” is the sole track penned by Lanegan, and it fits in perfectly alongside Campbell’s compositions as another dark, country-ish song. “Ramblin’ Man,” a cover of the Hank Williams classic, sounds like it should be played live in a country bar over a few beers. “(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me” has the lightest touch of any of these songs, and the two sing together here over just acoustic guitar. This may sound silly, but it recalls visions of Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy from A Mighty Wind.

Despite all the darkness, there are some uplifting tracks too, like “It’s Hard to Kill a Bad Thing,” and “Honey Child What I Can Do,” the album’s most energetic track, which comes closest to the ‘60s Sinatra/Hazlewood influence.

Nominated for the Mercury Prize, Ballad of the Broken Seas is not to be missed. It’s a great collaboration between two talented singer songwriters from seemingly different spheres who have come together to make something quite wonderful.

Album Review: The Feeling - Twelve Stops and Home (4 /5)

The Feeling emerged early this year with hot buzz they would become one of the year’s major new UK bands. The buzz was right, as the group has released a handful of infectious pop/rock singles, each one more enjoyable than the last. Twelve Stops and Home is thoroughly enjoyable, despite its overly derivative nature. Each song produces the same nagging feeling: “doesn’t that sound a lot like…,” without always being able to fill in the “….” Indeed the band, who’s own Web site describes itself making “music for the masses” with “sunshine hooks and killer choruses that everyone can hum, from plumbers to professors,” has been compared to a host of influences, including Supertramp, 10cc, and Electric Light Orchestra.

Opening track “I Want You Now” is good, but second track and third single “Never Be Lonely” is the album’s highlight. It’s an epic summer pop single full of insistent synth staccato, sweet vocal delivery, and a perfect sing-along melody. Piano-driven “Fill My Little World” is a similarly upbeat pop track, just as enjoyable. “Love it When You Call” also drives home a fun retro 70’s rock vibe.

Slower songs are enjoyable too, like “Kettle’s On,” that adds classical flourishes between choruses, and “Sewn,” the Coldplay-ish band’s first single. Although these are followed by two weaker slow tracks, “Anyone” and “Strange,” the latter of which sounds like it could have come from Savage Garden.

Despite its big sound, which plays out in the retro pop and grand ballads, The Feeling can do quiet moments too, showcased best on “Rose,” a tender, piano-driven love song with interesting percussive moments.

Twelve Stops and Home refers to the 12 stops on London’s Tube between Leicester Square and Bounds Green, where the band’s lead singer, Dan Gillespie, grew up. Because of its obvious influences, the album’s sound has a sort of timeless quality that is very London. Save for bit of a sag in the middle, this is a strong album, particularly its ‘70s-influenced songs like “Never Be Lonely” and its tender ballads like “Sewn.” The trick will be pulling off a second album that retains the band’s sense of fun, melody, and balance of majesty and tenderness without being culled from the same influences as this collection.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sugababes Greatest Hits

There's lots of rumors swirling around about this. Principally, and I think quite disturbing is that Heidi will be re-recording Siobhan's vocals on their earliest singles (Heidi replaced Siobhan after the group's first album). It was rumored that Amelle would record over Mutya's vocals too, but now I hear that this is not the case (Amelle replaced Mutya after the band's fourth album), although Amelle had already re-recorded a few tracks from their fourth album, Taller in More Ways, in anticipation of selecting one or more of them as singles. "Red Dress" and "Follow Me Home" were released with Amelle singing Mutya's parts.

The first single from the collection has been leaked. Listen to "Easy" on My Space.

Here then is the rumored tracklisting for Overloaded: The Singles Collection:

1. Freak Like Me
2. Round Round
3. Red Dress (Amelle version)
4. In The Middle
5. Stronger
6. Shape
7. Overload (Heidi version)
8. Good to Be Gone (new)
9. Caught in a Moment
10. Ugly
11. Easy (new)
12. Too Lost in You
13. Run For Cover (Heidi version)
14. Hole in the Head
15. Push the Button

So no "New Year," "Soul Sound," or "Follow Me Home," which isn't a big loss, as they are their weakest singles. Glad "Run For Cover" made it, as it's a cool song, despite charting outside the top 10. My favorite Sugababes tracks are 1) Stronger, 2) Push the Button, and 3) Freak Like Me.

Worried about Keane

So, I have this terrible nagging feeling that Keane is going to break up. Just as "Is It Any Wonder" begins climbing the U.S. Hot AC radio charts, Tom (of all people) goes into rehab, and the band postpones and then cancels their U.S. dates. Meanwhile, no UK follow-up to "Crystal Ball" has been announced, and "Crystal Ball" didn't chart that well anyway, coming in at #20 (their lowest ever). The song's plummeted on the airplay chart too. Bad signs all around, particularly since the band has openly discussed that they had a lot of problems even making this second album.

Another Bad Fergie Review

My sentiments exactly:
But let it be known I pointed out the Tower Bridge issue weeks ago.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Madonna single: Gambler


Release: October 3, 1985 (Europe)

1. Gambler
2. Nature of the Beast (Black N Blue)

Producer: John “Jellybean” Benitez
Songwriter: Madonna (Arranged by Stephen Bray)

UK Singles Chart: #4

“Gambler” was the second Madonna single released from the Vision Quest soundtrack, fitting in between the releases of Like a Virgin singles “Angel” and “Dress You Up.” The track sounds much more like the music from Madonna than from Like a Virgin, owing to the fact that “Gambler” was produced by Jellybean Benitez, who had produced “Holiday” and mixed the Madonna album. “Gambler” has a sound similar to that of “Burning Up,” although the staccato keyboard of the bridge is reminiscent of later single “Causing a Commotion,” produced by Stephen Bray for the Who’s That Girl soundtrack.

“Gambler” proved to be another huge hit in Britain, giving Madonna her 8th top 5 hit in a row. The single was never released in the US, probably because Madonna’s label, Sire/Warner Bros., didn’t want Geffen getting another hit off of her. MTV did air the video, which was similar to the “Crazy For You” video in that it was made up of clips from the film, including Madonna’s performance of the song.

Oasis Greatest Hits Tracklist

Oasis has revealed the tracklisting of its upcoming greatest hits collection, Stop the Clock, out November 20. The 18 tracks are:

1: Rock 'N' Roll Star (Defintely Maybe album cut)
2: Some Might Say (#1 hit, first single from What's the Story Morning Glory)
3: Talk Tonight (From the B-sides collection, The Masterplan)
4: Lyla (#1 hit, first Don't Believe the Truth single)
5: The Importance Of Being Idle (#1 hit, second Don't Believe the Truth single)
6: Wonderwall (#2, third Morning Glory single, and the band's sole big US hit)
7: Slide Away (Definitely Maybe album cut)
8: Cigarettes & Alcohol (#7, fourth and last Definitely Maybe single)
9: The Masterplan (From the B-sides collection, The Masterplan)
10: Live Forever (First top 10 hit, third Definitely Maybe single)
11: Acquiesce (From the B-sides collection, The Masterplan)
12: Supersonic (The band's first single, from Definitely Maybe)
13: Half The World Away (From the B-sides collection, The Masterplan)
14: Go Let It Out (#1 hit, first single from Standing on the Shoulders of Giants)
15: Songbird (final and least successful Heathen Chemstry single, hit #3)
16: Morning Glory (From Morning Glory, not a UK single, was released in the US, but not a major hit)
17: Champagne Supernova (Surprisingly not released as a single in the UK, was a fairly big hit in the US)
18: Don't Look Back In Anger (Final UK single from Morning Glory, a #1 UK hit and a minor US hit)

A very odd greatest hits tracklist indeed, chock full of major omissions:

1) Three of the band's UK #1's were left off. "D'You What I Mean," "All Around the World," "The Hindu Times"
2) "Whatever" wasn't included, which is too bad, since this great single was never on an Oasis album.
3) No tracks from third album Be Here Now were included. Not the #2 "Stand By Me," the US release "Don't Go Away" or the two #1s listed above. Very ood indeed.
4) The Heathen Chemistry hits are missing, "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" and "Little By Little," in addition to the #1 listed above. Only "Songbird," the album's final (and slightest) hit was included.

If it were up to me, I would have done:

1. Supersonic
2. Shakermaker
3. Live Forever
4. Whatever
5. Some Might Say
6. Roll With It
7. Wonderwall
8. Don't Look Back in Anger
9. Champagne Supernova
10. D'You What I Mean
11. Stand By Me
12. All Around the World
13. Go Let It Out
14. The Hindu Times
15. Little By Little
16. Lyla
17. The Importance of Being Idle
18. Let There Be Love

Which still leaves off great ones like "Don't Go Away," "Morning Glory," and "Songbird." What can you do? 2 disc set?

Current Singles Reviews

I haven’t done singles reviews for a while. Rather than write out lengthy reviews, I’ve clustered current singles by rating with a few notes.

5.0 – Best of the pack

I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters. Brilliant comeback single, best release yet from them. A joyous pop record that always makes me smile and dance.

When You Were Young – The Killers. The Killers are back and deliver a forceful, inspired pop/rock comeback. Like a more confident “Mr. Brightside.” Love it.

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol. Haunting, simple ballad that builds to a satisfying rock crescendo. The single that (finally) made them international stars.

Never Be Lonely – The Feeling. The best yet from them. I predicted early this year that they would break out big, and I was right. This song is so enjoyable; a warm, poppy, fun melodic throwback.

4.5 – Very good

It’s Not That Easy – Lemar. Another beautiful British soul record from the former Fame Academy contestant. Almost as grand as “If There’s Any Justice.”

Too Little, Too Late – Jojo. In a similar vein as “Leave (Get Out),” but more polished. A sophisticated pop single from such a young performer. Great chorus.

Changes – Chris Lake Featuring Laura V. My favorite dance single at the moment, sounds like a timewarp to the mid-90s. Perfect backdrop to being a large city on a cloudy day.

Leave Before the Lights Come On – Arctic Monkeys. I was all ready to write off the Arctic Monkeys after being disappointing by their overrated album. Then they go and put out this fantastic single, by far my favorite from them. I may have to give their album a second chance now.

Target – Embrace. Another great track from Embrace, even more U2-ish than “Nature’s Law.” Hope the release of “World at Your Feet” doesn’t slow down their momentum from this great album.

4.0 – Solid

Lucy (Live Saver Remix) – Jealousy. I haven’t heard the original, as this remix is the one that Radio 1 plays, and it’s quite good, so probably a good choice. Doesn’t sound like a remix, which makes it work so well.

Right Where You Want Me – Jesse McCartney. The former WB star returns with a more soulful pop record. Much better than his previous stuff.

3.5 – Pretty good

Lost – Roger Sanchez. Roger Sanchez returns with a good, but uninspired dance track. Doesn’t cover any territory, but sounds good.

2.5 – Just so-so

Rudebox – Robbie Williams. A disappointing first single from his next album. The electronic sound is kind of fun, but his lyrical “rap” delivery sounds bored, and the lyrics themselves are inane.

2.0 – Not that great

So Excited – Janet Jackson Featuring Khia. She doesn’t sound excited at all. This is so bland. Remember when Janet could knock it out of the ballpark? Those days are history. What a let down.

1.0 – Terrible

London Bridge – Fergie. There is absolutely no music contained in this single. It’s just Fergie doing a sort of chant over a mishmash of beats. Really really bad.

Personal Chart, 9/16/2006

I'm at home sick today, so why not blog?

TW LW Wks Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 7 .... I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters (5 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... 9 .... Sexyback - Justin Timberlake
3 .... 2 .... 8 .... Never Be Lonely - The Feeling
4 .... 9 .... 3 .... It's Not That Easy - Lemar
5 .... 7 .... 6 .... When You Were Young - The Killers
6 .... 3 ... 10 ... Buttons - The Pussycat Dolls
7 .... 8 .... 6 .... Too Little, Too Late - Jojo
8 .... 6 ... 14 ... Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera (2 wks @ #1)
9 ... 14 .. 15 ... Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
10 .. 5 .... 9 .... Crystal Ball - Keane

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Killers Live on Radio 1

BBC Radio 1 had a special about the Killers this week that includes performances by the band during a Blackpool concert. The photo above is the concert playlist, but unfortunately Radio 1 didn't broadcast all of it. In fact, the first hour and 20 minutes of the clip is songs off the playlist with Killers history and interviews interspersed. You can skip ahead using the Radio 1 player. Songs performed were a mix of Hot Fuss and Sam's Town tracks, including "When You Were Young," "Somebody Told Me," "Sam's Town," "Smile Like You Mean It," "Bones," "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," "Read My Mind," and "All These Things That I've Done." Click on the link at the beginning of this post to hear it. I bet they're great live.

UK Singles Chart Analysis, 9/16/2006

1. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters

I love it! The most exciting #1 single of the year so far, at least for me. Scissor Sisters are fantastic, and while their first album spent several weeks atop the UK albums chart, their singles never performed as well, their previous best being the #5 peak of "Filthy/Gorgeous." "I Don't Feel Like Dancin," despite its title, is the Scissor Sisters most energetic dance/pop throwback yet, featuring Jake Shears' falsetto and a Shears/Babydaddy production that sounds like an ode to the BeeGees.

3. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado (featuring Timbaland)

In a stiff week of competition, Nelly Furtado has to settle for a #3 placing for "Promiscuous," her second UK single from current album Loose. It lands just 1 spot below her buddy Justin Timberlake's latest hit, "Sexyback," which, like this track, is a Timbaland production. Timberlake even appears in the "Promiscuous" video. Despite not hitting #1, which it did in the US a few months ago, this is still Furtado's second-biggest UK hit, below her last single, the #1 "Maneater."

4. Rudebox - Robbie Williams

Also suffering a lower than might be expected chart placing is Robbie Williams. "Rudebox" is the lead single from Robbie's upcoming 6th album, Rudebox 74. Most of his album's first singles have hit #1 or #2, the big exception before now being Escapology's 2002 lead single "Feel," which also hit #4. "Rudebox" is a departure for Williams, many would say in the wrong direction, as it features him "rapping" during the choruses and has an electronic background. While I don't mind the song, it does sound like it was put together pretty quickly, although I doubt that was the case. It pales in comparison to his last album's debut single, "Tripping," which hit #2 about a year ago. The singles releases from Williams has felt mismanaged lately. "Advertising Space" appeared only 2 months after "Tripping," which hadn't even fallen out of the top 40 yet. Then there was an almost 6 month gap before "Sin Sin Sin" appeared, and charted quite poorly.

6. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol

Despite a good chunk of high-profile releases, Snow Patrol manages to stay in the top 10 another week--not only that, they climb another spot to a new peak position at #6. Plus, their album, Eyes Open, climbed back to #1 on the UK albums chart this week. Who would have thought that 2006 would be the year Snow Patrol would become a chart powerhouse?

7. It's Not That Easy - Lemar

Lemar, once the 2nd runner-up in the 2002 edition of Fame Academy, returns this week with the lead single from his third album. Winner David Sneddon and runner-up Sinead Quinn are basically forgotten by now, but Lemar has managed to put together quite the pop career. His last album did well with major hit and airplay staple "If There's Any Justice," released at the end of 2004. "It's Not That Easy" is another great soul pop record, and it's a shame it didn't make the top 5, as it's quite decent.

9. Never Be Lonely - The Feeling

I guess I feel a little bit better about this now. I was upset this made only #12 last week, so it's nice to see it climb into the top 10, surpassing the peak of their last single "Fill My Little World." Seems to be an emerging trend that rock singles getting good airplay will actually climb up the chart after their physical release sales week. Who knew?

13. Starlight - Muse

Which might be the ticket for Muse to score another top 10. Their last single, "Supermassive Black Hole" peaked at #4, but didn't have nearly the airplay this track is getting. "Starlight" is a great rock single, with a nice piano backing. It would be cool to see this climb into the top 10 next week.

28. Something About You - Jamelia

R&B/Pop sensation Jamelia is back, charting at #28 this week on downloads sales. Should easily go top 10 next week, although it will have to battle obnoxious Fergie's "London Bridge" (#25 this week).

30. Lucy - Jealousy

This is a cool song and should be charting higher. I especially like the remix.

Fall Music Preview

Fall is always the most hectic time of year for new releases, marked for its plethora of greatest hits collections and key releases from big-selling artists--both of which timed to sell well during the holidays. Below is my list of highlight releases; click below for additional releases in September through November.


Scissor Sisters – Ta-Dah (9/18). The Scissor Sisters had the UK’s best-selling album of 2004, and scored 5 top 40 hits off it, including campy dance floor stompers like “Filthy/Gorgeous” and “Comfortably Numb.” If the new album’s brilliant first single, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” is any indication of what we’re in for, then this surely won’t disappoint. An advance review by Q Magazine gave it 4 stars. Could very well be my favorite album of the year.

The Killers – Sam’s Town (10/2). The Killers hotly anticipated second album rolls out in October. First single “When You Were Young” is fantastic—a lot like “Mr. Brightside,” but that’s not a bad thing.

Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds (9/11). Justin Timberlake’s 2002 debut, Justified, distanced him from boyband ‘NSync, establishing him as a powerful, instrumental pop force. Four years later, he’s back with second album, permeated by electronic beats courtesy of Timbaland. First single “Sexyback” has already topped both the US and UK singles charts.

Evanescence – The Open Door (10/2). Evanescence’s 2003 album produced two monster hits, “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal.” They’re back with second album, the follow-up to Fallen, which was nominated for the best album Grammy Award Now minus Ben Moody, who left the group 2 years ago, as well as Will Boyd. Their sound, judging from first single “Call Me When You’re Sober” hasn’t changed much though, despite the shakeup in members. It’s really Amy Lee, who has a phenomenal voice for single their brand of goth-lite rock, that’s front and center here.

Maroon 5 – The Tears of Medusa (11/14). Little news about this album yet, other than it’s supposed to be a darker affair than their first hugely successful album.

Click below for more upcoming releases.


Lemar – The Truth About Love (9/11). Former reality TV star returns with his third album, preceded by beautiful soul single “It’s Not that Easy.”

R.E.M. – And I Feel Fine: Best of the IRS Years 1982 – 1987 (9/11). Basically an expanded version of Eponymous with 42 tracks spread over 2 discs. Includes early favorites like “Driver 8,” “The One I Love,” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”

The Fratellis – Costello Music (9/11). Having already scored top 10s with “Henrietta” and “Chelsea Dagger,” rock band The Fratellis releases their debut album.

Clay Aiken – A Thousand Different Ways (9/19-US). 2003 American Idol runner-up delivers his sophomore disc—with no advance buzz. Is there even a single out? Me thinks the title will refer to how the disc will be used (other than in the CD player, coaster anyone?).

Elton John – The Captain & the Kid (9/18). Elton John is back with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin in a sequel to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Features advance single piano ballad “The Bridge.”

Fergie – The Duchess (9/18). Black Eyed Peas female lead goes solo to torture us all. Features lead single, the “song” “London Bridge,” a former US #1.

Jojo – The High Road (9/18). Jojo, who made her name with the 2004 #1 hit “Leave (Get Out)” returns with her second pop album, featuring catchy first single “Too Little Too Late.”

Kasabian – Empire (9/18). Kasabian returns with their second album, led by epic first single “Empire.”

T.A.T.U. – The Best of t.A.T.u. (9/18). Russian female duo t.A.T.u., best known for UK #1 hit “All the Things She Said” and for pretending to be lesbians. Presumably will include all 3 of their top 10 hits. Yes, All THREE!!! What a hit machine.

Gloria Estefan – The Essential (9/25). Gloria Estefan conveniently collects the singles from her 1992 and 2001 greatest hits collections, filling in some of the lesser releases that didn’t make those collections, like “Live For Loving You,” “Seal Our Fate,” “Mi Tierra,” and “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” and “Don’t Let This Moment End.” So, at $25 for 5 extra hits, you’re getting each of these for $5 a piece. Hmm…

Jamelia – Walk with Me (9/25). Jamelia returns with her third album, preceded by hot new single “Something About You.” Good, but can she live up to “Superstar?”

Janet Jackson – 20 Y.O. (9/25). Janet Jackson releases her 9th studio album and attempts to reinvigorate her career after the flop of Damita Jo. First single “Call on Me” has already sputtered off the top 40 chart. Something tells me this is no Emancipation of Mimi.


Jet – Shine On (10/2). Australian rock band Jet scored big with “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” and “Look What You’ve Done” 2 years ago, and return this year with their second album. Haven’t heard the first single yet, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.”

Ray Charles & Count Basie Orchestra – Ray Sings, Basie Swings (10/2). Ray Charles’s 2004 album, Genius Loves Company, was a best-seller and won the Best Album Grammy Award. This is the second significant posthumous release from Charles, and features archival vocals of Ray from 1973 with updated instrumentation from the current Count Basie Orchestra.

Roxette – A Collection of Roxette Hits, Their 20 Greatest Songs (10/16). Interest in class act Swedish pop duo Roxette may be renewed, thanks to last year’s popular House remake of “Listen to Your Heart” by DHT. This collection features that #1 hit, plus “The Look,” “Joyride,” “It Must Have Been Love,” plus their other major and minor hits.

Robbie Williams – Rudebox 74 (10/23). Robbie Williams releases his 6th studio album of original material, purportedly to be comprised of mostly electro-inspired pop similar to lead single “Rudebox,” which has drawn mixed reviews. Album also may feature a tribute to Madonna.

George Michael – 25: The Best of George Michael (10/30). George Michael put out a best of collection in 1998, which mostly chronicled his solo career to that date, although there was 1 notable omission: the exclusion of the standard version of “I Want Your Sex.” Hopefully this set, will correct that oversight. The “25” refers to his 25 years in the music biz, since the start of Wham. It is assumed this collection will include Wham!’s hits as well as his solo hits, plus his major singles since 1998, “Freeek!”, “Amazing,” “Flawless (Go to the City)” and news tracks, since as this summer’s “An Easier Affair.”

Girls Aloud – The Sound of Girls Aloud: Greatest Hits (10/30). Is it over for Girls Aloud? That’s what the release of a greatest hits album usually signals for pop groups (although Westlife is still kicking 4 years after their hits collection). This will include all the girls’ hits—an impressive 12 top 10 hits spanning three albums amassed over 3.5 years, plus some new tracks.

Kevin Federline – Playing with Fire (10/30). Britney’s husband releases his debut album. Will we be pleasantly surprised? His buzz from the Teen Choice Awards performance was surprisingly good, and he claims that dreadful single “Popozoa” was a joke. We shall see.


McFly – McFly (11/6). Rocker boyband McFly release their third album, already preceded by a #1 single this summer, “Please Please.” Radio has turned its back on them, but fans continue to snatch up their singles, all of which have gone top 10 and five have hit #1.

Westlife – The Love Album (11/6). Westlife’s 7th album looks set to be a collection of love song covers--even their standard “studio” albums are mostly covers, so who’ surprised by this? A duet version of “All Out of Love” with Delta Goodrem is supposedly in the works.

Gwen Stefani – L.A.M.B. 2 – The Outtakes (11/13). As if the Love.Angel.Music.Baby remix album wasn’t enough, now we get the outtakes. Wasn’t there supposed to be a second real from her due in late 2005? Guess that’s not happening.

Jamiroquai – High Times: The Singles 1992 – 2006 (11/13). Collecting the singles from Jamiroquai’s six studio albums, plus two new tracks, will complete his contract with Sony. Known mostly in the US for his third album, specifically it’s hit “Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai has had numerous UK hits, including #1 single “Deeper Underground” and top 10 hits “Canned Heat,” “Little L” and “Feels Just Like It Should.”

Sugababes – Overloaded: The Singles Collection (11/13). The title here is a misnomer, as the rumor is that this album will 1) NOT include all of their singles, and 2) will feature re-recorded versions of the group’s older singles by its current lineup, which I think is a big BIG mistake. New single “Easy” will precede the collection.

Oasis – Stop the Clocks (Greatest Hits) (11/20). Oasis will finally release a greatest hits album this fall, spanning their 12-year, 6 album career. No tracklist yet, could be 2 discs, may include all of their singles, or just the band’s favorites.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bond Theme Announced

Chris Cornell of Audioslave has been tapped to perform the theme song for the next James Bond film, Casino Royale, out this November. The track, "You Know My Name," will be a collaboration with the movie's composer, David Arnold, who has composed the score for the last three Bond Films.

"You Know My Name" will be the first Bond theme since 1983's "All Time High" (from "Octopussy") not to share the name of the film. It's really no surprise to me, as I never expected anyone to sing a song called "Casino Royale." Chris Cornell is a surprise however, as Bond hasn't had a hard rocker singer yet. I was really hoping Goldfrapp would do it, as their sound is perfect for a Bond theme. They were even rumored to be doing it at one point. Maybe for the 22nd Bond film.

While we're on the subject, why not run down my favorite Bond themes? I've been on a real Bond kick lately, and this is probably the best chance I have to write about it in my popular music blog.

Best Bond Themes:

1. We Have All the Time in the World (From "On Her Majesty's Secret Service")" - Louis Armstrong

This is an elegant, arresting song, that works perfectly in the film to underscore the rarely seen tender side of James Bond as he--for the first and only time--fell in love. It's a beautiful song with gentle acoustic guitar and lush strings.

2. Moonraker - Shirley Bassey

"Goldfinger" is more famous, but too over the top. This more restrained vocal showcases Bassey's voice better, and she sounds lovely in this lush, mysterious opening credits sequence song.

3. You Only Live Twice - Nancy Sinatra

A beautiful credits-sequence song, with a underlying Asian influence that perfectly compliments the Japanese setting of the film. The memorable string refrain was later famously sampled in Robbie Williams' #1 hit "Millennium."

4. Nobody Does it Better (From "The Spy Who Loved Me") - Carly Simon

The retro/bassnova/jazzy spy sound is usually a requirement to deliver a good Bond theme. Simon avoids that in favor of a more traditional piano/strings/band composition, that turns out to be quite effective and memorable.

5. The World is Not Enough - Garbage

Easily the best Bond theme from the Brosnan era, Garbage's track is a dramatic, dark, and swirling affair that delivers a sexy, epic sound without going over the top (for that, see Sheryl Crow's "Tomorrow Never Dies").

Also Good: For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton), Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey), Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey), Live and let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings), and A View to a Kill (Duran Duran).

Not so Good:

Thunderball - Tom Jones

This sounds too much like a male take on "Goldfinger," which was the first Bond theme to gain massive popularity. It was also a last minute replacement for "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which much of the film's score had been based upon. Apparently Tom Jones passed out from hitting the song's final high note.

The Man with the Golden Gun - Lulu

The film is often regarded as the worst Bond movie, and this uninspired theme matches it just right. The '70s electric guitars just don't match the attempt to emulate the '60s spy movie sound established by the earlier films. Lulu doesn't sound that interested in what's going either, and who could blame her?

Goldeneye - Tina Turner

Don't get me wrong--Tina Turner is a fabulous singer, but this composition just missed the mark. It's kind of boring for a Bond theme, especially for such an exciting movie as Goldeneye was.

Tomorrow Never Dies - Sheryl Crow

If "Goldeneye" was too restrained, then "Tomorrow Never Dies" was too over the top. It starts off with a cacaphonous bang that sounds like bombs dropping, before Sheryl Crow starts in with her usually lovely voice, but then she goes too far for the screeching chorus, which is almost painful to listen to. Kind of a mess.

Die Another Day - Madonna

I am, of course, a die hard Madonna fan, and I do love this song. So why's it on my "worst of" Bond list? Because it doesn't sound like a Bond theme! It sounds like a Madonna song, which is fine, but she seemed unwilling to abandon her Mirwais-electro schtick to actually attempt something Bondian. Bond doesn't dance in Euro clubs. He stalks around exotic international locals with beautiful women, martinis, and a baretta. I just don't get any of that from this song.

UK Singles Chart Analysis, 9/9/2006

1. Sexyback – Justin Timberlake

There’s an amazing amount of symmetry between the UK and US singles charts this week. Three singles occupy spots in the top 10 in both countries—two of which at the same position, Snow Patrol at #7 with “Chasing Cars,” and at #1, Justin Timberlake’s ”Sexyback” (Cassie’s “Me & U” is also in both top 10s, at #9 in the UK and #10 in the US). This is the third single this year to hit #1 in both countries, followed by Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” and Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.” It’s been an interesting year to see the US and UK singles chart become more in sync, after a period where the UK chart turned over very quickly, while singles on the US chart were quite static.

“Sexyback” is Justin Timberlake’s 5th solo top 40 hit, his 4th top 10 hit, and first #1. Three of his previous singles peaked at #2—“Like I Love You,” “Cry Me a River,” and “Rock Your Body,” while his first album’s last single, “Senorita,” settled just a little ways outside the top 10 at #13. It’s been almost 3 three years since that last solo single, although Timberlake did make a guest appearance on Snoop Dogg’s 2005 #2 hit “Signs.” “Sexyback,” with its computerized vocals and heavy electro beats, marks a change of direction for Timberlake, who’s first album was filled with hip-hop/R&B sounds and hooks courtesy of hot-as-ever producer Timbaland, who is also responsible for much of Timberlake’s new album, including this single.

4. I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters storm the top 10 on downloads-only sales for “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” first single from forthcoming sophomore album Ta-Dah. By debuting at #4, this is already the highest-charting Scissor Sisters single ever, their previous best being the #5 peak of “Filthy/Gorgeous” in the post-Christmas slump of January 2005. The track is easily on course then to become their biggest hit, as it will surely top the chart next week, despite some serious competition with new singles from Nelly Furtado, Robbie Williams, and Lemar. Despite having the UK’s best-selling album of 2004, the group’s singles fared surprisingly poorly: “Comfortably Numb,” hit #10, but “Take Your Mama” only managed #17, followed by “Laura” at #12 and “Mary” at #14, although “Mary” did manage to top the airplay chart, as did “Filthy/Gorgeous.”

7. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” manages to hold on to its peak position of #7 this week, despite this being now the single’s 7th week on the chart. In a nice bit of symmetry, as stated above, it’s also #7 in the US, where it’s climbing fast both in sales and airplay. I think it’s now official to say this is their biggest hit.

11. U + Ur Hand - Pink
12. Never Be Lonely – The Feeling

Just outside the top 10 are the third singles for two acts that have performed well on the chart this year, and, in my opinion, should have returned to the top 10 with these worthy singles. Pink, who’s career looked all but over after the disappointing performance of singles from her third album, rebounded spectacularly this year with two top 5 singles, “Stupid Girls” and “Who Knew,” both of which had long runs on the chart, scored well on the airplay chart, and were her biggest hits in 3 years. “U + Ur Hand,” a snide slap at a guy who dared to hit on pink when she wasn’t in the mood, is another great slice of power pop from Pink, who’s proven herself to be even more interesting than we thought this year with an album that dogs celebrities, explores sexuality, and even swipes at the president.

Even more devastating is that The Feeling’s “Never Be Lonely” didn’t reach the top 10. This is the third and best single from the group this year, which hit #7 in March with “Sewn” and #10 in June with “Fill My Little World.” “Never Be Lonely” is a pure joy of a pop/rock record, and it’s spent the last couple of weeks at #2 on the UK airplay chart. It should have been top 10—top 5 even this week.

15. Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland

Nelly Furtado is working her massive US #1 hit “Promiscuous” in the UK now, having selected “Maneater” as Britain’s first Loose single, which was #1 only a couple of months ago. “Promiscuous” will probably miss out on #1 next week when its physical single is released, but only because it is a very competitive week. If it had been released 2 weeks ago, it easily would have been at #1.

30. Rudebox – Robbie Williams

Also looking to score big next week is Robbie Williams, returning with the debut track to his 7th album. The outlook for “Rudebox” is actually not so good, as it has been panned by critics as a “career suicide” release. I actually don’t mind the track, but it is very odd, and not a good direction for Robbie. Too bad, since his last album launched with the brilliant release “Tripping,” probably his best single beside “Angels” and “Millennium.”

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Madonna Single: "Dress You Up" (1985)

“Dress You Up”

Release: July 24, 1985 (US)

1. Dress You Up
2. Shoo-Bee-Doo

Producer: Nile Rodgers
Songwriters: Andrea LaRusso and Peggy Stanziale

Billboard Hot 100: #5
UK Singles Chart: #5

“Dress You Up” was the fourth and final single from Like a Virgin, which became Madonna’s 4th top 5 hit in the US in 1985. In Britain, it was released just before Christmas, becoming her 8th top 5 hit for 1985, a truly amazing run that included Like a Virgin (#3 Jan.), Material Girl (#3 March), Crazy for You (#2 June), Into the Groove (#1 Aug.), Holiday (#2 Aug.), Angel (#5 Sept.), and Gambler (#4 Oct.).

The song is typical of the predominant Like a Virgin sound, hardly straying from the driving synth bass of “Angel” or the effervescent pop of “Like a Virgin.” Madonna coos in her higher range with an exceptional amount of reverb. The song uses fashion, specifically dressing a man, as a sexual metaphor. This drew the ire of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), a group formed by four influential Washington wives, including Tipper Gore. The PMRC put out a list of the “filthy fifteen” songs they found most offensive, which included “Dress You Up,” as well as Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop,” which was cited for sex and masturbation. This action by the PMRC is credited as leading to the creation of the “Parental Advisory” sticker, still used today voluntarily by record companies to warn consumers about music they may find offensive because of language or subject matter.

The video is taken from Like a Virgin Tour concert footage and was directed by Danny Kleinman.