Thursday, May 31, 2007

Personal Chart, 6/2/2007

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 3 .... Real Girl - Mutya Buena (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5 (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 2 .... Me and My Imagination - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
4 .... 4 .... U + Ur Hand - Pink (2 wks @ #1)
5 .... 6 .... Everything Is Average Nowadays - Kaiser Chiefs
6 .... 5 .... Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
7 .... 7 .... Signal Fire - Snow Patrol
8 ... 10 ... Summer Love - Justin Timberlake
9 .... 9 .... Glamorous - Fergie (1 wk @ #1)
10 .. 12 .. Never Again - Kelly Clarkson

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Enrique Returns

Enrique Iglesias is back with his first top 40 hit in 5 years, "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)." The first time I heard the song, I thought the ping pong thing was dumb, but I actually kind of like it now, and I do like how seamlessly in the video the sound from the ping pong game becomes the opening ping pong effect of the song. Well done.

Kelly Clarkson, My December

I just wanted to post the album cover because it's surprisingly striking. Out June 25 in the UK, June 26 in the US.

Billboard Hot 100 Analysis, June 2, 2007

1. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5

Maroon 5 reclaim the #1 spot from T-Pain and Yung Joc, making "Makes Me Wonder" the longest-running #1 single of the nine we've had this year so far with 3 non-consecutive weeks at the top. It's the longest stay since Beyoncé spent 10 weeks at #1 with "Irreplaceable."

5. Home - Daughtry

Daughtry lands his second top 10 single this week with "Home," moving up a forceful 8 spots. It's also his second top 5 hit; last single "It's Not Over" peaked at #4. Daughtry becomes the third American Idol alumnus to land two top 5 singles following Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson.

8. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood

Speaking of American Idol alumns, Carrie Underwood scores her third top 10 hit with "Before He Cheats." Originally a country hit last year, the song has been renewed by its great popularity now at pop radio. It also earns this distinction of--at 38 weeks--holding the record for the longest journey of any single to land in the top 10.

9. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake scores his 6th top 10 hit (7th if you count his appearance on Timbaland's "Give It to Me," currently #4) with "Summer Love." All five of his previous top 10 hits made it the top 5, and the last three (or four, again with "Give It to ME) went all the way to #1.

12. What I've Done - Linkin Park
14. Thnks fr th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy

Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy position themselves to enter the top 10 soon, moving up 11 and 10 spots respectively with their latest singles. "What I've Done" actually debuted on the chart at #7 on its first week sales, and then fell to #28 two weeks ago.

21. Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie

Fergie makes an impressive entry into the top 40, up 20 spots with her fourth solo single, "Big Girls Don't Cry." Two of Fergie's singles have hit #1 ("London Bridge" and "Glamorous") and "Fergalicious" hit #2.

33. Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song) - Enrique Iglesias

After a 5 year gap, Enrique Iglesias returns to the top 40 this week. He launched his English-singing career spectacularly in 1999 with #1 hit "Bailamos," followed in 2000 with another #1, "Be With You." His momentum waned a bit on his second album, but he did land in the top 10 late in 2001 with "Hero." His third album though failed to generate any Hot 100 singles, despite scoring top 5 hit in Britain with "Not in Love."

Album Review: Travis - The Boy with No Name (4/5)

Oasis-Radiohead-Travis-Coldplay-Franz Ferdinand. That's pretty much the key progression of British rock music over the last 12 or so years. Travis, though easily the least successful of this list across the pond in America, was the "it" band of 1999, breaking out big with their second album, The Man Who, which went on to win the Brit Award for Best Album. Eight years on and not much has changed, which has created a love 'em or hate 'em divide among the critics.

Those that love them praise the gentle laid-back melodies and the high production values. Those that hate them try to blame them for having ushered in the era of "adult indie" that dominates the British music scene with the likes of Keane, Snow Patrol, James Blunt, KT Tunstall, and most spectacularly, the above-mentioned Coldplay. Whether or not you love or loath the adult indies, Travis would no doubt snigger at the suggestion that way back in 1999 they should be responsible for opening some sort of floodgate for imitators.

The Boy with No Name, so named because vocalist Fran Healy and his wife were unable to find a suitable name for their son for 4 weeks, is not a revelatory about face for the band nor is it the Satan spawn of British music as some suggest. It is merely a lovely collection of songs from a band that has become adept at churning out lovely collections and that suits them just fine thank you very much.

"3 Times and You Lose" is a lovely opener--cracking the door just a bit with only a plaintive vocal and acoustic guitar before the rest of the band kicks in. It's a bit brooding, with a good mix of acoustic and electric guitar interplay.

"Selfish Jean" is an obvious highlight and a bit of a departure, if only because it's actually uptempo. It's the most fun Travis has probably ever had on a song. It's been chosen as the second single, and could give the band something a hit, which they haven't really had since 2001's "Sing." Third track and first single "Closer" is vintage Travis: lovely and inoffensive.

"Big Chair" opens with bass and dreamy piano over drums and then soars with strings during the chorus. It's really good, although it doesn't quite reach the grandeur it seems it should. String-laden "Battleships" is fine; it has a good production, although a little too sweet.

Better is "Eyes Wide Open," which weaves some classic rock elements into the fold. It's a mid-tempo burner with a nice jolt of energy behind it. Upbeat, piano-driven "My Eyes" is also good and manages to rejoice in fatherhood without being too treacly, which is saying something from a band many accuse of being schmaltzy.

"One Night" seems pretty typical, dark and dreamy. "Under the Moonlight" is also typical, upbeat and dreamy. "Out in Space" by contrast is quieter and mostly acoustic, punctuated by the sound of explosions. This would seem to channeling Radiohead. All three are fine, but not standouts.

"Colder" has a bit too much going on for my taste, including harmonica and vocoder. Final official track "New Amsterdam" is lovely, although it doesn't quite come together I think.
The bonus tracks, which I usually don't discuss, are actually pretty decent. First there's upbeat "Sailing Away" that has a really great mix of acoustic guitar, sharp piano chords, and staccato bass. Then there's "Perfect Heaven Space," which features a lovely piano melody.

Overall, the album is surprisingly uptempo for Travis, and the first half is particularly good. Finally, I think the album cover art is really cool. Love the architectural emphasis.

Best: Selfish Jean, Closer, My Eyes, Eyes Wide Open, Big Chair, 3 Times and You Lose

Saturday, May 26, 2007

More Summer Albums - UK Releases

Here's other upcoming releases from Britain:

Mutya Buena - Real Girl (June 4). Debut album from former Sugababes member with new first single "Real Girl," followed by buzzworthy second single featuring Groove Armada, "Song 4 Mutya." I'm really hoping this is really good.

The Editors - An End Has a Start (June 25). Second album following 2005's great "The Back Room."

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Trip the Light Fantastic (May 21). Out last Monday was Sophie Ellis-Bextor third album, featuring great current single "Me and My Imagination" as well as "Catch You."

Hard-Fi - Once Upon a Time in the West (July 2). Their second album, follows Star of CCTV.

The Twang - Love It When It Feels Like This (June 4). Their debut I believe. Features "Wide Awake" and "Either Way."

Gareth Gates - Pictures of the Other Side (June 25). Presumably referring to what life is like now that he is no longer famous? Expect this one to crash and burn--maybe even not get a release.

Album Review: Blonde Redhead - 23 (4/5)

New York-based band Blonde Redhead has been making music for nearly 15 years now. I hadn't heard of them before this year, so I can't comment on how their latest album, 23, compares to their previous work. But I can tell you that it's really good.

First track "23" sets the stage perfectly: Lush electronic soundscape, keyboards/guitars/drums, and layered ethereal vocals. It's a lovely song, even a little sad. "Dr. Strangeluv" is similar, but with a more prominent bass line.

"The Dress," which has a strong emphasis on soundscape, starts mysteriously with electronic keyboards and hushed vocals, picking up in intensity by the first chorus. Great beat. Vaguely reminds me of t.A.T.u., only good. Depeche Mode-like "SW" is another highlight with a dark pulsing melody. Melody is really the emphasis on the whole album, with the vocals fading into the background. "SW's" vocalist is male (Guy Picciotto, I believe), a nice contrast to the high-pitched female lead (Kazu Makino) on the first few songs, whose voice can actually get a bit grating.

"Spring and By Summer Fall" opens with a burst of feedback but quickly becomes an uptempo '80s-ish number. It's not so much a song as it is a mood. Uptempo "Silently" is a lovely melody, another highlight.

"Publisher" also sounds vaguely Depeche Mode-like. "Heroine" is fine, but not as special. "Top Ranking" is better though. By the end, a lot of it seems to run together, as the songs aren't all that different, but that seems to be the idea--evoking a mood more than a set of songs. And it's a lovely mood at that.

Best tracks: 23, Dr. Strangeluv, The Dress, SW, Silently, Top Ranking

Reverend and the Makers

Reverend and the Makers are a new British band, and judging from their first single "Heavyweight Champion of the World" (out Monday) they sounds really cool. Check out their myspace page and video:

Friday, May 25, 2007

Personal Chart, 5/26/2007

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5 (1 wk @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Me and My Imagination - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
3 .... 6 .... Real Girl - Mutya Buena
4 .... 1 .... U + Ur Hand - Pink (2 wks @ #1)
5 .... 3 ... Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
6 ... 10 .. Everyting Is Average Nowadays - Kaiser Chiefs
7 ... 11 ... Signal Fire - Snow Patrol
8 .... 8 .... Closer - Travis
9 .... 5 .... Glamorous - Fergie (1 wk @ #1)
1o .. 14 .. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake

Monday, May 21, 2007

UK Single Chart Analysis, 5/26/2007

1. Umbrella - Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z)

It's a surprise #1 for Rihanna this week, who earns her first #1 hit with "Umbrella," which gets its physical release today. As such, it's only the third single to reach #1 on downloads only, following last year's "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley and Mika's "Grace Kelly" from earlier this year. It must certainly be a satisfying chart-topper for Rihanna, who thus far has played second fiddle three times with "Pon Da Replay," "SOS," and "Unfaithful," all of which made #2 (for 2 weeks each).

2. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5

This then was the expected #1, the return after a 2-year hiatus for US rock band Maroon 5. The band scored five top 40 hits from their first album between January 2004 and April 2005 including top 10 hits "This Love" (#3) and "She Will Be Loved" (#4). At #2, "Makes Me Wonder" becomes their biggest hit, but #1 still eludes them.

4. Signal Fire - Snow Patrol

The career bests keep coming this week with the highest-charting single yet from Snow Patrol. They'd been around for years before hitting it big in 2004 with "Run," which hit #5. Last year, they followed it up with two bigger hits, which, although charting lower, displayed amazing chart longevity. First there was rocking "You're All I Have" (#7), and then, the hit of their career, "Chasing Cars" (#6), which has been basically ubiquitous for the last 8 months, and remains on the chart. "Signal Fire" reaches a new peak at #4, although I doubt it will reach the classic status of "Chasing Cars" or even their other two top 10 hits. It comes courtesy of the soundtrack for Spider-Man 3.

5. Here (In Your Arms) - HelloGoodbye

This retro, dancy pop/rock song reached #14 in the US earlier in the year, and I was surprised it wasn't a bigger hit. That it becomes one in the UK should be no surprise, as it fits in nicely alongside the lot of retro/pop/rockish tracks that have been big lately.

10. Shine - Booty Luv

Second top 10 hit for Booty Luv, who hit #2 in December with "Boogie 2Nite." "Shine" is decidedly so-so as dance pop goes, so it's a real disappointment (and head scratcher) that it beats out a superior dance-pop track down at #23.

11. Real Girl - Mutya Buena

Bet your money this will be sitting on top of the pile last week, despite the rather heavy competition it will face from Rihanna and Maroon 5. Mutya was one of the founding members of the Sugababes, the coolest, if not most successful, British girl group of the last 7 years. Hers was the voice considered the heart of the group, seeing them through #1 hits like "Freak Like Me," "Hole in the Head," and "Push the Button." Around the time "Ugly" was released in December 2005, she announced she was leaving the group, and was replaced by Amelle Berrabah by the time the group's next single, "Red Dress" was released. Everyone expected Mutya to launch her own solo career, and, given her cred, it is satisfying to see it launched in such a classy manner. First up was the teaser--a duet with George Michael for his greatest hits album single, "This Is Not Real Love" (#15 in November). Now we have the real deal in "Real Girl," a winning pop single built around the strings arrangement from Lenny Kravitz's "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over." It debuts on downloads this week.

23. Me and My Imagination - Sophie Ellis-Bextor

After a hiatus of over 3 years, dance/pop act Sophie Ellis-Bextor tried to reboot her career this year. First up was "Catch You," a more pop/rock affair that made #8. "Me and My Imagination" follows, and represents a delicious return to the disco/dance sound of her earliest hits. But sadly, the pubic isn't buying this time, as the track--even with physical sales--manages only #23, her lowest chart placing ever. Sad sad sad.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Single Reviews

"Me and My Imagination" Sophie Ellis-Bextor (5/5). Real return to form for the British dance-pop singer. The sultry disco beat with deep bass keyboards and synth strings harkens back to her best work from 6 years ago. From forthcoming album, Tripping the Light Fantastic.

"Real Girl" Mutya Buena (5/5). Former Sugababes member steps out on her own with this debut solo single, an engaging reworking of Lenny Kravitz's "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over." Has #1 stamped all over it.

"Makes Me Wonder" Maroon 5 (5/5). First single from Maroon 5's second album is a retro-funk pop gem. Think Jamiroquai at his very best but with Adam Levine's swagger. Is currently #1 on the UK airplay and the US singles charts.

"4 in the Morning" Gwen Stefani (5/5). As I've said before, Gwen Stefani works best when she does retro (rather than hip-hop) and uses her full range, which is what you get here, the best Sweet Escape track.

"Never Again" Kelly Clarkson (4.5/5). Kelly Clarkson's first single in 2 years finds her angry--mining a bad relationship for this rocky track. Lacks the obvious hooks of the Breakaway-era singles, but still sounds great.

"Big Girls Don't Cry" Fergie (4.5/5). Silly lyrics aside ("I'm gonna miss you like a child misses its blanket") this gentle guitar-and-strings ballad is a nice departure from the sassy R&B pop she's given us so far. I'm totally won over now.

"Closer" Travis (4.5/5). Travis's best single since 2002's "Flowers in the Window" is a lovely, atmospheric rock ballad. They were the Coldplay of British rock before Coldplay.

"Everything Is Average Nowadays" Kaiser Chiefs (4/5). Surprisingly choice for second Yours Truly, Angry Mob single is short slice of frantic rock akin to (but not as good as) "I Predict a Riot."

"The Living Tree" Shirley Bassey (4/5). Is Bassey auditioning to make the next Bond theme? (She's done 3: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker). This could certainly qualify, with its bombastic '60s-ish sound, vaguely reminiscent of the Bond Theme itself.

"Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" Manic Street Preachers (4/5). I've never been into this band, but this is a pretty fun song, a rolicking back and forth between male and female leads. Surely sounds great live in a pub.

"I Won't Be Crying" Infernal (4/5). This band is quickly becoming underappreciated. This is a great dance single, liberally sampling Depeche Mode's "Strangelove."

"Signal Fire" Snow Patrol (3.5/5). Snow Patrol, still unable to get back "Chasing Cars," offers this Spider-Man 3 soundtrack single, a starts-slow-but-picks-up single. Decent, but no "Chasing Cars" or "You're All I Have."

EW Summer Music Preview

Entertainment Weekly put out its annual summer music preview issue this week. Top of the pile is the third album from Kelly Clarkson, My December, due June 26 (first single, "Never Again" debuted on the Hot 100 at #8). Apparently label boss Clive Davis is on record as not liking it, but Clarkson is insistent that she wanted to make a darker, more personal album, and not a copy of mega-successful Breakaway. Other highlights:

The White Stripes, Icky Thump (June 19). Sixth album from the White Stripes, which the writer praises as "an extraordinary throwback to the band's beginnings." First single "Icky Thump" became th band's first top 40 hit on the Hot 100.

Natasha Bedingfield, NB (August 7). Already out in the UK, first single "I Wanna Have Your Babies" performed poorly on the British chart, reaching only #7. Will be interesting to see if that's chosen to promote the American release.

Interpol, Our Love to Admire (July 10). Third album and major label debut for the New York band.

Kelly Rowland, Ms. Kelly (July 3). Second album from former Destiny's Child member, preceded by single "Like This"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Free Madonna Song on MSN

It's a tie-in to Live Earth called "Hey You." Get it here:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Personal Chart, 5/19/2007

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... U + Ur Hand - Pink (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
3 .... 5 .... Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
4 ... 15 ... Me and My Imagination - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
5 .... 3 .... Glamorous - Fergie (1 wk @ #1)
6 ... 16 ... Real Girl - Mutya Buena
7 .... 2 .... Back to Black - Amy Winehouse (2 wks @ #1)
8 ... 10 ... Closer - Travis
9 .... 9 .... Because of You - Ne-Yo
10 . 21 ... Everything Is Average Nowadays - Kaiser Chiefs

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gwen Stefani "4 in the Morning"

"4 in the Morning" is the third single from Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape. It's my favorite track from the album. Check out the video:

Friday, May 11, 2007

The album review queue

Here's what I intend to (hopefully) review within the next few weeks:

23 - Blonde Redhead
The Boy with No Name - Travis
Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
Beautiful World - Take That
Hats Off to the Buskers - The View

Album Review: Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare (3.5 / 5)

Second album then from the Arctic Monkeys. Of course, I bought it, even though I found their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That' What I'm Not to be overrated. It achieved a number of impressive accolades, was a fast-seller in the UK, and won the Mercury Music Prize. Go Monkeys. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but it's just not my thing, and I think I've put my finger on it:

Arctic Monkeys are a band for rock music fans. I am a pop music fan. Although I like a lot of rock music, this is where we diverge. Rock music critics revel in technical proficiency, tight songs, and could care less whether the lead singer's voice sounds like an old rusty pipe. As a pop music fan, I do care about things like melody, singing ability, and drama, and the Arctic Monkeys just don't do those.

Most of the their songs are too short to build any kind of drama. They exist as single-concept songs; just like on their first album, having of the Favourite Worst Nightmare tracks are over in less than 3 minutes. I recognize that their musical ability is top notch, but I long for some interesting melodies to carry me away, not just proficient guitar solos. And their lead singer--let's face it, he can barely sing, but in the rock music critics world, that's just fine, as long as shows up with a dose of style and swagger, which Alex Turner--all of 21--has in abundance.

"Brianstorm," the first single is high on energy, but the vocals sound like they were recorded in a box. "Teddy Picker" sounds about the same, but better--there's some variation in the buildup to the chorus. "D Is for Dangerous" is so short, that it passed me by before I could think of something to say about it. "Balaclava" is pretty decent, has some explosive parts followed by a fairly subdued percussion-laden section.

"Fluorescent Adolescent" sounds like it could be a single. "The boy's a slag, the best you ever had" is a fun line. This might be my favorite track thus far. "Only One Who Knows" is actually a ballad, such a switch. Kind of ghostly sounding. Not bad. "If You Were There, Beware" is also pretty good. "505" is an eerie closer, but not very interesting melodically.

Overall, it's better than their first album, but as British bands go, despite it's admirable attempts, it's just not my cuppa tea.

Best: Brianstorm, Teddy Picker, Fluorescent Adolescent, Only One Who Knows, If You Were There, Beware

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Personal Chart, 5/12/2007

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 3 .... U + Ur Hand - Pink (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Back to Black - Amy Winehouse (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 2 .... Glamorous - Fergie (1 wk @ #1)
4 .... 8 .... Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
5 .... 7 .... Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
6 .... 5 .... Love Today - Mika
7 .... 4 .... The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani Feat. Akon (3 wks @ #1)
8 .... 6 .... Give It to Me - Timbaland Feat. Justin Timberlake & Nelly Furtado
9 ... 11 ... Because of You - Ne-Yo
10 . 12 ... Closer - Travis

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Billboard Hot 100, May 12, 2007

What an exciting week for Hot 100 chart watchers. This week's top 10 includes not one but two major chart rarities, including a new record. Four singles move into the top 10 this week--two of which make their Hot 100 debut within the top 10. While top 10 debuts have occurred periodically since 1995, This is only the second time in which there were two. Also, the record held by Kelly Clarkson until today for the biggest leap to #1 is broken by...

1. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5

Maroon 5 climbs a record 63 spots this week to claim their first #1 Hot 100 single. "Makes Me Wonder" is the band's first single from their forthcoming second album It Won't Be Soon Before Long, a fantastic funk/rock pop song--something Jamiroquai in his heyday would have killed to come up with. The single is the band's 5th top 40 hit and 3rd top 10. In 2004, they hit #5 with two major hit singles, "This Love" and "She Will Be Loved," both of which topped the airplay top 40 chart.

The 63 spot jump to #1 breaks a record held for the last 5 years by Kelly Clarkson, who lept from #52 to #1 with "A Moment Like This," her debut single released soon after her victory as the first American Idol winner. The previous record holder was The Beatles, who lept from #27 to #1 with "Can't Buy Me Love" in 1964.

5. Because of You - Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo makes a 34-spot jump with "Because fo You," the first signle from his second album of the same name, released last Monday. The song has been drawing comparisons to Thriller-era Michael Jackson. Ne-Yo scored three top 40 hits from his first album, including his #1 debut single "So Sick."

6. I'll Stand By You - Carrie Underwood
8. Never Again - Kelly Clarkson

Here's the other big chart news of the week, and it doesn't get any more perfect than this. Top 10 debuts have been a fairly common event since 1995, when record companies realized they could delay the sales release of singles from big-name acts a few weeks while their airplay built up and then push the single into the market during peak airplay to score headling-grabbing debuts. Michael Jackson's "Scream" was the first of such top 10 debuts, landing at its peak position of #5 in its first week. His next single, "You Are Not Alone," became the first in a string of #1 debuts, followed closely by Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" and "One Sweet Day" and Whitney Houston's "Exhale."

The phenomenon has been fueled again by two forces--perhaps the two most powerful forces in pop music today. First there's iTunes, which provides such an easy venue for the promotion and purchase of new singles by big artists in a single's first week of release that it's easy to see a chart connection between the two. Second there's American Idol. In four out of the show's five year's the winner or runner-up has debuted at #1 with their first single. Kelly Clarkson missed out on this with "A Moment Like This" only because the song was getting a good dose of airplay the week before it was released, but of course, this gave it the above-mentioned record chart leap from #52 to #1. All the other singles had poor airplay, but fantastic sales, making instant #1 hits for Clay Aiken ("This Is The Night"), Fantasia ("I Believe"), Carrie Underwood ("Inside Your Heaven"), and Taylor Hicks ("Do I Make You Proud").

This week then we have a double confluence of these two forces, creating yet another chart rarity. This is only the second instance I know of where two singles have debuted in the top 10 in the same week, the first being the week in 2003 where Clay Aiken debuted at #1 and Ruben Studdard at #2. American Idol's two hottest alumni are easily Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Both are multiple Grammy winners with crossover appeal. Clarkson's had numerous top 10 and #1 pop hits, Underwood has topped the country chart and has a big crossover pop single ("Before He Cheats") at the moment. Clarkson is an international star. Both move albums like no other current pop act.

"I'll Stand By You" by Underwood debuts this week at #6, her second top 10 hit. The remake of the Pretenders '90s hit is a tie-in to last week's American Idol "Idol Gives Back" special, and proceeds from the sale of the single (available with prominent promotion from iTunes) go to charity. It's a worthy remake, superior to the 2004 effort from Girls Aloud, a charity single in Britain. "Never Again" by Kelly Clarkson debuts at #8. It is the first single from her forthcoming third album, My December, set for release next month. This is Clarkson's 7th top 10 hit.

22. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake's fourth FutureSex/LoveSounds Single, "Summer Love" makes a 12-spot jump to #22. His previous single, former #1 "What Goes Around...Comes Around" does nearly the reverse, falling from #24 to #33. Timberlake is also in the top 10 at #3 (down 1) with Timbaland and Nelly Furtado and their former #1 hit "Give It To Me."

28. Icky Thump - The White Stripes

Another iTunes benefactor, The White Stripes, debuts on the Hot 100 at #28, fueled by strong first-week sales. This is, shockingly, the first top 40 from the band, who have been a critics favorite and an indie darling, particularly for their fourth album Elephant from 2003. "Icky Thump" is the title track from the band's forthcoming sixth album, due in June.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

US/UK Chart Overlap

There's a surprisingly strong overlap between the U.S. and U.K. singles charts this week. Of course, there are always similarities, but this week half of the top 12 songs in each country appear on both charts. Breakdown:

Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne (#1 US/#3 UK)
Give It to Me - Timbaland (#2 Both)
Don't Matter - Akon (#3 US/#12 UK)
The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani (#6 US/#11 UK)
Cupid's Chokehold - Gym Class Heroes (#10 US/#8 UK)
Beautiful Liar - Beyoncé and Shakira (#12 US/#1 UK)

Others in both top 40s:

Glamorous - Fergie (#4 US/#15 UK)
Last Night - Diddy (#13 US/#27 UK)
What I've Done - Linkin Park (#17 US/#18 UK)
Like a Boy - Ciara (#19 US/#30 UK)
Say it Right - Nelly Furtado (#22 US/#24 UK)
What Goes Around... - Justin Timberlake (#24 US/#21 UK)
How to Save a Life - The Fray (#37 US/#13 UK)
Because of You - Ne-Yo (#39 US/#4 UK)

Personal Chart, 5/5/2007

TW LW WKS Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... 6 .... Back to Black - Amy Winehouse (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 4 ... 14 ... Glamorous - Fergie (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 5 ... 17 ... U + Ur Hand - Pink
4 .... 2 ... 19 ... The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani (feat. Akon) (3 wks @ #1)
5 .... 7 .... 5 .... Love Today - Mika
6 .... 6 .... 8 .... Give It to Me - Timbaland (feat. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake)
7 .... 9 .... 7 .... Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
8 ... 10 ... 4 .... Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
9 .... 3 .... 7 .... I Wanna Have Your Babies - Natasha Bedingfield
10 .. 11 .. 6 .... Beautiful Liar - Beyoncé & Shakira

Mutya Buena's debut solo single

Former Sugababes member Mutya Buena has her first official solo single out (she appeared on George Michael's "This Is Not Real Love" last fall, off of his greatest hits package). "Real Girl" liberally samples from Lenny Kravitz's 1991 top 10 hit "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over." Not bad. Should be a big hit for her--possibly a #1.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor "Me and My Imagination"

Sophie Ellis-Bextor's career seemed over earlier this year. It had been 3 years since her second album--which didn't generate a major hit--and her single from earlier this year, "Catch You," failed to generate much heat.

She's back in a big way with "Me and My Imagination," a return to the modern disco sound she rode to the top of the charts with songs like "Murder on the Dancefloor" and "Take Me Home." It's a great return to form and early UK airplay seems to be falling into place.

Check out the video: