Monday, September 29, 2008

UK Singles Chart, 10/4/2008

1. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon stay on top a third week, earning a double crown as they also debut at #1 on the UK albums chart with Only By the Night. They join Duffy, Madonna, and Coldplay, all of whom also scored chart doubles.

3. Disturbia - Rihanna

Rihanna climbs back up to #3, the peak she reached 4 weeks ago. The lack of a physical release may be helping her album Good Girl Gone Bad, which is #2 this week on the albums chart, a distant second behind Kings of Leon. Her album is now the fourth best-selling album of the year in the UK, behind Duffy, Coldplay, and Nickelback.

5. In This City - Iglu & Hartly

Iglu & Hartley make an impressive nine place leap to #5, a bit of a surprise considering the physical CD was released 2 weeks ago.

7. You Make It Real - James Morrison

The new Daniel Powter may have bombed, but James Morrison proves he's got staying power with "You Make It Real," which becomes his third top 10 hit after 2006's "You Give Me Something" and "Wonderful World."

8. Girls - Sugababes

The Sugababes score their 15th top 10 hit this week. "Girls" gets its physical release next week. It's certainly a contender to become the group's 7th #1 hit.

10. There You'll Be (From "Pearl Harbor") - Faith Hill

Faith Hill's love ballad from the 2001 film Pearl Harbor makes a re-entry in the UK top 10 this week. Huh??!!! No, you're not dreaming, but rather witnesses the power X Factor has on the chart. The song was featured by a performer last weekend. Thus a 7 year-old single outsells the newly released...

13. Changes - Will Young

Ouch. Poor Will. The physical release of "Changes," which debuted at #10 on downloads last week, does nothing to improve the single's position, falling three spots this week to #13. He's outsold by a 7 year-old single from Faith Hill no less.

16. Love Lockdown - Kanye West

Kanye West's rather surprising release "Love Lockdown" makes a big debut at #16. It's a download-only release, but I expect it will climb over the next few weeks.

17. Lies - McFly

McFly are known for their big chart drops, and they make no exception with "Lies," down 13 spots from its #4 peak last week.

26. Another Way to Die - Alicia Keys and Jack White

At first I didn't care for the new James Bond them, but "Another Way to Die" is actually growing on me. It's not out in stores for another 2 weeks. The last Bond theme, Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" from Casino Royale hit #7 in late 2006.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Album Review: Ne-Yo - Year of the Gentleman (4/5)

On Year of the Gentleman, singer/songwriter/producer Ne-Yo declares that he's in a class apart from most of his other male pop/R&B contemporaries. While Usher and Lil Wayne are busy trying to get laid in clubs, acknowledging women as little more than sex objects, Ne-Yo explores a less carnal brand of female admiration.

Take, for example, "Miss Independent," the upbeat Stargate collaboration that finds Ne-Yo interested in a woman not because she needs to depend on him, but because she doesn't. "She got her own thing, that's why I love her" intones Ne-Yo in the synth-based chorus. Certainly we've heard this melodic beats, synths, and harp sound before from Ne-Yo--"Because of You" and "Sexy Love" in particular--but it's never sounded as good as it does here.

"Miss Independent" is just one of several great moments early on. First track "Closer" takes a confident step into dance pop, a genre R&B-leaning pop hasn't seemed comfortable with for years. The song took awhile to catch on in the U.S.--dance pop being a genre that the U.S. public hasn't seemed comfortable with lately either--but now it's a big hit, currently #7 on the Hot 100 and #2 at Top 40 radio. The retro-sounding "Nobody," another winner, finds Ne-Yo doing a very good impression of Michael Jackson.

Polow Da Don creates a good piano and beats production for "Single," currently a hit for New Kids on the Block (featuirng Ne-Yo). This version thankfully does not include the New Kids, and once again Ne-Yo declares the song is "for girls who got their own car, this for girls who got their own crib." "Mad" is the album's first ballad, and, while not a knockout, is a pleasant piano-based number.

Then there's "Why Does She Stay," a slow burner with piano and trippy synths that finds a self-deprecating Ne-Yo questioning why his woman stays with him when he's such a loser. "Most of the time, I'm so damn selfish, I don't even realize she treats me so well." The song's earnestness is the most it has going for it, for I find it rather lacking musically. "Fade into the Background" fulfills its name too much. Other reviewers really like these two songs, but they aren't musically assertive enough for me.

Things pick up again on "So You Can Cry," a lovely little song about consoling a woman who's just broken up with her man. Ne-Yo is the sensitive guy who will "ask the clouds to bring the rain for you today" so she can have a good cry. Even better is "Part of the List," which has a gorgeous, mature production of piano, strings, and acoustic guitar.

"Back to What You Know" is another good Stargate number, this time with a strong dose of acoustic guitar, punched up with piano and synth during the chorus. Ever the gentleman, Ne-Yo implores his girl to go back to her ex, since he can tell she's still in love with him ("I'd rather you happy, than miserable with me"). Perhaps it's the same girl from "Lie to Me," who "crept back in at 6:45," which Ne-Yo tries to believe was just a dream. While I'm not into the ballads in the middle of the album, I do like the album's lush closer, "Stop this World." When the vocals and strings soar during the chorus, it clicks nicely.

Year of the Gentleman is the first Ne-Yo album I've bought, and I was pleasantly surprised that it held up to my expectations. Ne-Yo's not the most amazing singer, but he's a great songwriter, creating melodic and rich backgrounds that showcase his strengths. Not as important on the album, but he can also dress and dance. In short, he's the whole package.

Best: Miss Independent, Closer, Nobody, Part of the List, Stop This World, Back to What You Know.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rolling Stone/Q best-reviewed albums of the decade

Rolling Stone and Q are my favorite magazines for keeping up with album reviews. Both reserve their top 5-star rating for only those albums they deem "classic." Q is a little more generous than Rolling Stone in this regard, generally giving several albums per year the highest rating, while Rolling Stone gives it to one, maybe two albums per year. Wikipedia has the list of albums Q awarded a 5-star rating, but I haven't seen a list for Rolling Stone. So I did my own going back to 2000. So far, nothing this year has gotten a 5-star rating.

5-star albums, 2000-September 2008

Bruce Springsteen – Magic (2007)
Bob Dylan – Modern Times (2006)
Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)
Damon & Naomi – The Earth Is Blue (2005)**
Brian Wilson – Smile (2004)
Beastie Boys – To the Five Boroughs (2004)
White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
Beck – Sea Change (2002)
Bruce Springsteen – The Rising (2002)
Mick Jagger – Goddess in the Doorway (2001)
Bob Dylan – Love and Theft (2001)

**This one seems a bit strange to me, but I confirmed it on Rolling Stone's Web site.

Also, since 2005, Rolling Stone has awarded a 4.5 rating as well. So far two albums have gotten it this year:

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III (2008)
Stephen Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash (2008)
Kanye West – Graduation (2007)
M.I.A. – Kala (2007)
TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
Willie Nelson – You Don’t Know Me (2006)
The Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang (2005)
Bruce Springsteen – Devils & Dust (2005)
White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan (2005)

Friday, September 26, 2008

New music I love right now

The Promise - Girls Aloud. Girls Aloud's new single is a slam dunk. I've been listening to it at least daily since it hit the Web last week and I still love it. It departs a bit from the intense electro-pop Xenomania has been creating for them lately--a style that reached its apex with "Biology," a song that lacked a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. "The Promise" is retro, frothy, and delightful. Who doesn't love that last minute key change? A final act key change always makes for a good pop song. It outshines the Sugababes' latest "Girls," which I like also, but isn't their best. Check out the stylish video:

Love Lockdown - Kanye West. This has completely grown on me the last few days. At first I was a bit taken aback by how unusual it is for him, but now I love it. I like that he's singing and does it well, although it has gone through Cher and T-Pain's computer. That little piano bit at the end may be my favorite part.

Granite - Pendulum. At first, until the vocal comes in, this sounds like a space age James Bond theme. Great energy, fun sound effects, and cool horn refrain.

Changes - Will Young. It's unclear whether Will's going to land in the top 10 this weekend, which is a shame--it should be a #1 contender. Still, it's a great song, and I am looking forward to his new album next week.

Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs. I love the call-and-response format of the verses and the "My Sharona"-esque guitar. Great new single--much more fun than "Ruby." Their new album comes courtesy of producer Mark Ronson, so my expectations are high.

Miss Independent - Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo + Stargate is a winning combination, and they've put out another winner with "Miss Independent," a song that extols the virtues of a woman's talent rather than her body. How sad that such a thing passes for novel in music these days.

Forgive Me - Leona Lewis. Nice to hear something upbeat from Leona. And nice to hear anything--finally--since "Better in Time," which was released 7 months ago in the UK. I Cant' find the video anymore, but here's the song:

Green Light - John Legend Featuring Andre 3000. I'm intrigued by John Legend lately, and aside from "Save Room," I haven't been a fan as yet. This is really good though.

Don't Believe in Love - Dido. So nice to have Dido back and with a great, understated first single. Dark and lovely just like we like her.

Daddy's Gone - Glasvegas. I recently reviewed their album and really liked it. This, their latest single, is one of my favorite tracks on it.

Personal Chart, 9/27/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Changes - Will Young (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
4 .... 6 .... Girls - Sugababes
5 .... 3 .... Forever - Chris Brown (3 wks @ #1)
6 ... 12 ... Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
7 .... 7 .... Closer - Ne-Yo
8 ... 10 ... One Step at a Time - Jordin Sparks
9 ... 11 ... So What - Pink
10 .. 14 .. Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 10/4/2008

1. Whatever You Like - T.I.

T.I. climbs back up to #1, scoring his fourth nonconsecutive week at #1. Interrupted runs at the top, which were fairly rare in the '90s, have been much more common lately. In addition to T.I., Lil Wayne had two runs at #1 this "Lollipop" and Leona Lewis had three with "Bleeding Love." Last year, Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder" and Soulja Boy Tell Em's "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" both had interrupted runs. The best has to be in 2001 though, when Alicia Key's "Fallin" was #1 for 3 weeks, then Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real" for 3 weeks, then 3 more weeks for "Fallin," and finally 2 more for "I'm Real."

3. Love Lockdown - Kanye West
10. American Boy - Estelle Featuring Kanye West

Kanye West makes an impressive debut at #3 this week with "Lock Lockdown," the first single from his upcoming fourth album 808s and Heartbreak--his first without a college-themed title. This is Kanye's fifth top 10 hit, eighth counting guest appearances, one of which--Estelle's "American Boy"--is #10 this week.

5. Love Story - Taylor Swift

Country sensation Taylor Swift jumps 11 spots to #5 with "Love Story," the first official release from her forthcoming second album Fearless. Swift hit #10 in August with "Change," a special release that will also appear on the album. She is best known for last year's #13 hit "Teardrops on My Guitar," which spent 48 weeks on the Hot 100. Swift earns this week's sales gainer award--not sure why that didn't go to Kanye West.

9. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

Katy Perry is no one-hit wonder, scoring her second top 10 hit this week with "Hot N Cold," up three spots to #9.

15. Crush - David Archuleta

American Idol runner-up David Archuleta makes an impressive 17-spot leap to #15 this week. "Crush" initially peaked at #2 on its first-week sales and spent the last few weeks in the '30s. Now it's moving back up with combined sales and airplay.

38. All Summer Long - The Rock Heroes

Another remake band cashes in on the lack of iTunes availability for Kid Rock's hit single "All Summer Long." Kid Rock's version hit #23, while the highest-charting version of the song is by The Hit Masters, who peaked at #19.

41-45. Just outside the top 40 are a handful of singles from pretty big names, all, I imagine, hoping to be in the top 40 next week, including Jennifer Hudson, Nelly with Akon and Ashanti, Carrie Underwood, John Legend with Andre 3000, and Savage with Soulja Boy Tell Em.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Album Review: Glasvegas - Glasvegas (4.5 / 5)

Music critics are always on the lookout for the "next BIG thing," and Glasvegas (Glasgow + Las Vegas) have certainly filled more than a few inches of copy on that subject this year. Nine months ago they made the BBC Sounds of 2008 list along with the likes of a number of other newcomers who have since become household names around the world like Duffy, The Tings Tings, and Adele. They may be the last act on that list to put out their debut, and it's worth the wait.

The album opens with "Flowers and Football Tops," building slowly from sustained synth chords and shimmering guitars. At 7 minutes, it's the album's longest track--most are much shorter. The song has a sweeping rock sound reminiscent of U2 and tells a rather tragic domestic story of a family who's 6 year-old boy is murdered. A refrain from the schoolhouse song "You are My Sunshine" is tacked on the end to punch up the melancholy, lest someone not paying attention to the lyrics were to think that is supposed to just be uplifting stadium rock. And if they didn't understand the lyrics, they could be forgiven for there's no question this is a Scottish band--singer James Allan's accent comes through loud and thick.

"Geraldine" must certainly be the most poetic song ever written about a social worker, holding up the profession as providing a troubled youth an "angel on your shoulder." Then there's a seamless transition to "It's My Own Cheating Heart that Makes Me Cry" an epic of self-loathing despair that manages to be just serious enough to make a point but not so over the top that it can't include a playground taunt ("liar liar pants on fire") and a nod to Oasis ("What's the story morning glory"). Besides all that, it's a lovely song to boot, one of the album's best.

"Lonesome Swan" is more upbeat and provides a good showcase for Rab Allan's guitar playing. It also transitions smoothly into "Go Square Go," the story of a young man who must face a bully in a fight, but the real bully may be his father, who told him not to come home until he'd "killed the bastard." "Polmont on My Mind" seems unremarkable at first, until it unleashes its wall of sound at the end, bathing is in the high-reverb guitars, bass guitar, and drums.

"Daddy's Gone" is a clear highlight. It's vaguely sixties sounding and tells the story of a boy whose father has left the family and the kid's not happy about it, lamenting that "all i wanted was a kick-a-bout in the park, for you to race me home when it was nearly getting dark," but now has to settle for seeing his dad only on Saturdays. Closing number "Ice Cream Van" sounds a note of revolution to "bring back the glory days, active citizenship, and pure community...freedom of faith." It's mostly synth organ chords, which build in intensity near the end.

If there's a misstep here, it's "Stabbed," a spoken word piece about wanting to stand up to a knife-wielding gang but running away instead. While certainly a timely topic as any here, it's done over Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. While it may be one of the most beautiful and melancholic pieces of classical piano, appropriating it in this manner feels lazy. Why not write your own piano backing?

The band's earnestness sets it apart from the popular pack of current indie rockers (as does having a female drummer, Caroline McKay). Earlier this year I complained about Vampire Weekend and other such bands singing about nonsense. This album is about as far away from that as is possible, taking much of its inspiration from a host of urban social problems. And even if you can't decipher the song's lyrical meaning (no offense to you lovely Scots, but to us Americans your accent can be a challenge), Glasvegas offers more than enough melody, hooks and rocking guitars to be enjoyed purely as a musical experience. One of the year's most exciting debuts.

Best: Daddy's Gone, It's My Own Cheating Heart that Makes Me Cry, Geraldine, Flowers and Football Tops, Go Square Go, Lonesome Swan

Killers new single "Human" on the air tomorrow

Arjan Writes has posted that The Killers new single "Human" will get its airplay debut on Radio 1 tomorrow. I can't wait to hear it. The band's forthcoming album, Day & Age, will be released at the end of November.

George up to his old tricks

George Michael has once again been arrested for committing a crime in public. This time it was possession of drugs in a public restroom. Oh dear. He once sang about his fondness for doing such things away from his home, perhaps he can't avoid it:

UK Singles Chart, 9/27/2008

1. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon spend a second week at the top with "Sex on Fire." Kings of Leon are the third American act in a row to top the UK chart, following Katy Perry and Kid Rock. It was just about 2 years ago the last time this happened, when Beyonce ("Deja Vu"), Justin Timberlake ("Sexyback"), and Scissor Sisters ("I Don't Feel Like Dancin'") all hit the top in a row.

4. Lies - McFly

Now fully released, McFly's latest "Lies" zooms up 19 spots to #4. This was a bit unusual, given that McFly singles generally zoom down the chart, not up. Still, at #4 it keeps up their impressive streak of top 10 singles--all 15 of which have gone top 10 and 14 have landed in the top 5 (all but "Ultraviolet"/"Ballad of Paul K" which peaked at #9).

6. Cookie Jar - Gym Class Heroes

Gym Class Heroes climb six spots into the top 10 at #6. Still just shy of giving them their third top 5 hit.

9. Miss Independent - Ne-Yo

With his physical release still 2 weeks away, he's already in the top 10--a good sign this could be a #1 contender. This is Ne-Yo's fifth top 10 hit.

10. Changes - Will Young
(#1 airplay)

The top 10 welcomes back Will Young, who's taken a 2-year chart hiatus following the promotion of his third album, Keep On. "Changes" is a great single from him, and this week lands at #10 on downloads, with the CD single out Monday. "Changes" tops the UK airplay chart this week, Young's third single to do so following "Leave Right Now" and "All Time Love." His new album, Let It Go, is out September 29.

15. Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson

After Kelly Clarkson and Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson becomes the third American Idol alum to score a UK top 40 hit. Although not a series winner like Clarkson and Sparks, Hudson has the advantage of her exposure in the hit films Dreamgirls and Sex and the City.

87. Join With Us - The Feeling

Missing the top 40 for the third time in a row is The Feeling, who's been hit by the sophomore slump particularly hard. They had a good start in "I Thought It Was Over" which hit #9 and topped the airplay chart, but sadly, follow-ups "Without You," "Turn It Up," and now "Join With Us" failed to connect with the record-buying public.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Personal Chart, 9/20/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Changes - Will Young
3 .... 1 .... Forever - Chris Brown (3 wks @ #1)
4 .... 5 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
5 .... 3 .... Viva la Vida - Coldplay (4 wks @ #1)
6 .... 9 .... Girls - Sugababes
7 .... 6 .... Closer - Ne-Yo
8 .... 8 .... Boyfriend - Alphabeat
9 .... 7 .... Stepping Stone - Duffy
10 .. 14 ... One Step at a Time - Jordin Sparks

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kanye's Surprise: Love Lockdown

I just went into the iTunes store and was greeted by Kanye West's new single "Love Lockdown." Released today, it is the first single from his forthcoming fourth album, 808 & Heartbreak.

Billboard Hot 100, 10/27/2008

1. So What - P!nk

Pink climbs a notch to #1 scoring her first solo #1 hit and second #1 after her 2001 collaboration "Lady Marmalade" with Christina Aguilera, Mya and Lil Kim. "So What" hits #1 mostly on its sales strength--the single is the Hot 100's sales gainer for the second week, moving about 250,000 copies this week. That's halfway to gold in one week. This is one of two entries in the top 10 this week showcasing the current power of sales in the Hot 100 (more on that at #9). It's amazing to think that just a few years ago the Hot 100 was basically an airplay chart, with singles sales having declined to nearly nothing and the digital market not having taken off yet.

"So What" is produced by Swedish pop music extraordinaire Max Martin. Best-known for making Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys household names in the late '90s, Martin has since turned his attention from euro-influenced teen pop to a more rock-influenced pop sound, having worked recently with Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, and Bo Bice. I believe this is only the second single to hit #1 produced by Martin after Britney Spear's "...Baby One More Time" in 1999. Other notable hits he produced that didn't hit #1 include "I Want It that Way (Backstreet Boys)," "Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)," and "That's the Way It Is (Celine Dion)."

4. Paper Plane - M.I.A.

British hip-hop artist M.I.A. continues to climb up one to #4 this week. This song is growing on me.

9. American Boy - Estelle Featuring Kanye West

Speaking of British female artists, another one makes her top 10 debut this week. Estelle climbs an incredible 44 spots to #9, landing her first Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit. The gigantic leap isn't so unexpected if you've been paying attention. A few weeks ago, her record company announced that "American Boy's" parent album Shine would no longer be offered on iTunes, deciding it in Estelle's best interest to sell her album only as a physical CD (Um, where again am I supposed to buy one of those these days?). In a few short weeks, a bulleted single on the verge of entering the top 10 fell from #11 down to #57. Ouch. Clearly the error of this decision was realized by the wise record company, and last week, as if by magic, Shine appeared on iTunes again, with a rather generous banner advertisement. It is no surprise then that "American Boy's" return to the chart is owed by its iTunes sales, another indicator of the current strength of sales in the Hot 100, and in particular, the heavy influence Apple's store plays in todays popular music market.

Before I move on, it's worth nothing that Estelle is the fourth British female artist to score a top 10 hit in the U.S. this year, after Leona Lewis ("Bleeding Love," #1), Natasha Bedingfield ("Pocketful of Sunshine," #5), and M.I.A. at #4 this week. Madonna doesn't count.

8. Can't Believe It - T-Pain featuring Lil Wayne
10. Got Money - Lil Wayne featuring T-Pain

Lil Wayne scores his forth and fifth top 10 hits this week, while T-Pain scores his 10th and 11th. If these singles keep climbing wouldn't it make a great duel for #1? Can't really call it a battle like Kanye West and 50 Cent last year, since no matter what you both win.

21. I Don't Care - Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy has their 6th top 40 hit this week with "I Don't Care," the first single from their forthcoming album. They had a one-off earlier this year--"Beat It" with John Mayer, which hit #19. Their biggest hit was last year's "It's Not a Scene, It's an Arms Race," which spent 2 weeks at #2.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leona Lewis "Forgive Me"

The video for Leona Lewis's new single, "Forgive Me" is out. Click here to check it out. Just like Mariah Carey did back in 1991 with "Someday," Leona has followed up her two ballad singles with something more upbeat for her debut's third single. This is another great release from her.

Since this is from the American release of Spirit, Leona will of course release a special edition of the album in the UK featuring this and the other new track on the US release "Misses Glass," coming November 17.

Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent"

I've had this song stuck in my head the last 3 days. I love it. Ne-Yo is completely hot right now. He's a good singer, writes great songs, can dance, can dress, and to top it off, seems like a genuinely nice guy, not a jerk. His new album, Year of the Gentleman, is getting great reviews.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Preview Will Young's "Let It Go"

7Digital added Will Young's upcoming album Let It Go for pre-sale today. Check it out here, where you can hear 30 second clips. Some first impressions...

1. Changes. The single we know and love.
2. Grace. Threatens to be Broadway-ish at first but then sounds like a decent string-laden balled.
3. Won't Look Down. Retro, strings, horns, upbeat. sounds good.
4. Tell Me the Worst. Guitar ballad, tender, sounds nice.
5. I Won't Give Up. Retro, horns, upbeat. I think I see a trend. Not a bad one though.
6. Disconnected. '70s-style ballad, quite melodic. Also sounds good.
7. If Love Equals Nothing. Soulful ballad with a horn solo.
8. Love. Ooh...sounds disco-ish, but subdued. Cool.
9. Simple Philosophy. Sounds okay, probably the first sample that hasn't really grabbed me.
10. Let It Go. Strings, piano, acoustic guitar ballad. Nice.
11. Are You Happy. Funky 70s beat, horns, upbeat. Another winner.
12. You Don't Know. Piano, strings, and guitar ballad. Sounds like its really pretty.
13. Free Your Mind. Guitar, very slow. Hard to tell from a sample if this is a good one.

This is very very promising. Maybe his best yet? I'll have to hear the whole thing to be sure, but I'm even more excited now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Girls Aloud "The Promise"

Girls Aloud's new single, "The Promise," got its first play on Radio 1 this afternoon. Someone made a rip for YouTube so we, who tuned out after the Chart Show, can listen:

What do you think? Not quite as Hi-NRG as we're used to from them. I think I like it though. A lot. They haven't had a #1 hit for awhile--maybe this could correct that?

UK Singles Chart, 9/20/2008 (5-1)

5 (4). Disturbia - Rihanna

It's the second week she's dropped, and I'm not sure if this is getting a physical release anymore, as it's missing from the schedule this week. Still #3 isn't bad, if it never ends up going higher.

4 (3). When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls

Early in the week they were doing a lot better, but end up at #4, despite the CD single coming out this week.

3 (new). Thank You for a Lifetime - Cliff Richard.

No one in the U.S. would know who he is (he had a few hits in the '70s), but in the UK Cliff Richard is a pop music institution. This year he celebrates his 50th year in the limelight with a special compilation and this single. He's had 14 #1 hits, tied with Westlife at third after Elvis and the Beatles. This is his 69th top 10 hit. Wow.

2 (1). I Kissed a Girl - Katy Perry

After 5 weeks at #1, Katy Perry relinquishes, tying her with Basshunter and Duffy for the longest-running #1 hit of the year.

1 (new). Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon

American indie band Kings of Leon have been a hit in the UK for 5 years now. Last year they had their highest charting single at #13 with "Fans," but this week score their first #1 hit. It's the first single from their upcoming fourth album, Only by the Night.

UK Singles Chart, 9/20/2008 (10-6)

10 (8). Mountains - Biffy Clyro

9 (7). All Summer Long - Kid Rock

8 (6). Beggin' - Madcon

7 (5). The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script

6 (2). Pjanoo - Eric Prydz

Not much news in the bottom half of the top 10.

UK Singles Chart, 9/20/2008 (20-11)

Halfway point already. Live blogging makes the show go faster it seems.

20 (17). Paddy's Revenge - Steve Mac

Down three after debuting last week on downloads. The physical release is out tomorrow. This is an instrumental dance track with an Irish flavor. Not such a common thing. Still, it's not really impressing me.

19 (11). 5 Years Time - Noah & The Whale

Big drop for Noah & The Whale this week. I liked this song briefly, but now I'm tired of it.

18 (35). Handlebars - Flobots

Big jump for Flobots and "Handlebars." I hadn't heard this yet; it's interesting. Not sure what I think yet. This is out September 22.

17 (13). Viva la Vida - Coldplay

Their former #1 edges down a bit.

16 (12). No Air - Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown

I still love this song. Great single.

15 (10). Love Is Noise - The Verve

The Verve falls out of the top 10. I reviewed their album earlier today, which I found to be pretty ho-hum. This is definitely one of the better tracks on it. The 5 weeks this spent in the top 10 is actually the band's longest run there--"The Drugs Don't Work" spent 4 weeks and "Bitter Sweet Symphony" spent 3.

14 (18). Miss Independent - Ne-Yo

It's not out until the end of the month, but already selling strong on downloads, up 4 this week. Great song.

13 (9). Dance Wiv Me - Dizzee Rascal Featuring Calvin Harris & Chrome

12 (16). Cookie Jar - Gym Class Heroes Featuring The Dream

Gym Class heroes new single fails to reach the top 10. Last year they were in the top 10 twice with "Cupid's Chokehold" at #3 and "Clothes Off" at #5. So it turns out Travis in the band is Katy Perry's boyfriend. Fearne and Reg asked him if he minds it (referring to Katy's "I Kissed a Girl" line "hope my boyfriend don't mind it"). He said he doesn't as long as he remains her priority.

11 (14). See You Again (Remix) - Miley Cyrus

Miley climbs a bit, but still not a top 10 hit.

? I think it's pretty clear that Daniel Powter's new single "Next Plane Out" has missed the top 40. Sorry Daniel. "Bad Day" was great, but that seems to be all the public wants from you. I bet the record company will be dropping him soon. Also missing the top 40 is The Zutons' "What's Your Problem."

So who's #1? It looked like Kings of Leon going into the weekend, but it also looked like Glasvegas would top the albums chart and that didn't happen. It's pretty competitive week with Katy Perry hoping for a 6th week at #1, while Kings of Leon, Cliff Richard, The Pussycat Dolls, and Rihanna are all strong challengers for the top spot.

UK Singles Chart, 9/20/2008 (30-21)

30 (20). Daddy's Gone - Glasvegas

Glasvegas is down 10 this week. The band's eponymous debut album was released Monday, and I expect it will be the UK's #1 album this week. I'd like to check it out, as this is pretty decent rock.

29 (new). In The Ayer - Flo Rida Featuring Will.I.Am

Flo Rida scores his third UK top 40 single this week. Just as in the U.S., his first single "Low" was a big hit (#2), and his second, "Elevator," was not (#2). This is a debut with a physical release, so I think this will be topping out here. Sorry Flo. I haven't listened to the Chart Show in quite some time--Fearne and Reggie are quite funny.

28 (21). Stepping Stone - Duffy

Poor Duffy. Struck out with her fourth single. Pity. It's a great song, just like all her others.

27 (22). Closer - Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo on the way down; "Miss Independent" will surely be on the way up later.

26 (39). Just Stand Up - Stand Up to Cancer

The cancer charity single, also a hit in the U.S., is up 13 this week.

25 (23). Spiralling - Keane

After peaking at #23 last week, Keane's preview single from their forthcoming third album Perfect Symmetry falls two spots. The album's first official single, "The Lovers Are Losing," will be out Oct. 20, a week after the album's release. Odd timing I think.

24 (new). Angel in the Night - Basshunter

And here is the new Basshunter single as promised, selling on downloads in advance of its September 29 release. It's got more of a rocky vibe, but no one would mistake this for rock. It's solidly Swedish eurodisco...and not that great.

23 (new). Lies - McFly

McFly follow up their recent #2 hit "One for the Radio" with "Lies." The physical release is out tomorrow. This is the band's 15th top 40 hit. All the 14 others were top 10, including seven #1 singles. This is actually pretty good.

22 (15). Boyfriend - Alphabeat

Alphabeat slipping down after 2 weeks at #15. Shame this wasn't top 10. It's one of my favorite songs at the moment and definitely the best thing the Danish band has released so far.

21 (new). In This City - Iglu & Hartly

This is a cool song. Physical release out tomorrow. This is the band's first top 40 hit.

Albums chart update: So Metallica has the UK's new #1 album this week with "Death Magnetic" and Glasvegas is in at #2 with their debut. Elbow rebounds to #7 thanks to their Mercury Award.

UK Singles Chart, 9/20/2008 (40-31)

I'm listening to the Radio 1 chart show today, so this will be in reverse. I'll bold the highlights.

40 (new). Can't Stop Moving (Mirwais Remix) - Sonny J

Sonny J slides into the top 40 just barely with "Can't Stop Moving." I thought this would go higher, as it's pretty decent. The Mirwais Remix really doesn't sound that much different than the original mix (so if you already have the original this is worth getting only if you're a Mirwais fanatic--Mirwais, of course, being principal producer for Madonna's Music and American Life albums).

39 (27). All I Ever Wanted - Basshunter

Basshunter's second single takes a big plunge this week. Fearne and Reggie said Basshunter's new single, "Angel in the Night" will be coming up.

38 (19) The World Should Revolve Around Me - Little Jackie

Little Jackie takes an even bigger plunge this week. I'm surprised this wasn't a bigger hit. It's a pretty decent song. Maybe it wore out its welcome (I've been skipping it on my iPod lately).

37 (new). Paper Planes - M.I.A.

Acclaimed UK rapper M.I.A. scores her first top 40 hit with "Paper Planes." Already a major hit in the U.S. (it's currently #5 on the Hot 100), she finally lands a hit at home--and major hit this could be. It's already charting on downloads, but it's not due for release until Oct. 13.

36 (re-entry). Black and Gold - Sam Sparro

35 (re-entry). One Day Like This - Elbow

Elbow makes a re-entry with their most recent single, "One Day Like This." The track made #39 when it released over the summer, so it improves its peak position a bit. The reappearance is of course due to Elbow having won the Mercury Prize this week for their album Seldom Seen Kid. It's also a great song, my favorite from the album. The band's new single "The Bones of You" will be out later this month.

34 (24). Give It 2 Me - Madonna

Madonna, on the way out. "Miles Away" is expected to be her next single, but I haven't seen a release date yet.

33 (new). C-Lebrity - Queen + Paul Rodgers

Queen's made their first album since 1995, with new singer Paul Rodgers. "C-Lebrity" is the second single from The Cosmos Rocks, out tomorrow. The album's first single, "Say It's Not True," failed to crack the top 40.

32 (28). Forever - Chris Brown

31 (25). She's Like a Star - Taio Cruz

I hadn't heard this yet. It's okay, but I can see why it wasn't a big hit like "Come on Girl."

Album review: The Verve - Forth (2.5/5)

In 1997 on the eve of splitting up for the second time, The Verve released their career-defining masterpiece, Urban Hymns, best known for the Rolling Stones-sampling "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and UK #1 "The Drugs Don't Work." This was gorgeous melodic rock music at its best. The album was a big hit, beating Radiohead's iconic OK Computer to win the Brit Award for best British album of the year. Talk about going out in style.

Eleven years later and The Verve have finally reunited and released their fourth album, Forth. Sadly, nothing comes close to the grandeur of those two hits, or even the album's other two great singles "Lucky Man" or "Sonnet." The songs are long (about 6 minutes on average) and plodding and mostly lacking in energy. A real disappointment. I've been listening to this a lot the last couple of weeks, hoping that repeated listens would reveal its charms, sadly that's not the case.

Some of the songs have a good sound, but just wear out their welcomes. "Rather Be" is case in point. I like the warm piano, strings and guitar vibe, but after the five and a half minutes are up (and that's on the shorter side among these songs), I feel like it's failed to deliver anything more interesting than what I heard in the first few bars. Same goes for the dark opening track "Sit and Wonder"--great concept, but needs editing, although not as bad as "Rather Be," for at least it delivers an interesting instrumental middle section. "Judas" has a nice ethereal sound and actually builds toward something at the end.

Other tracks plod along without giving much of anything. "Numbness" has a dark, meditative quality, but again, after the first 3 minutes, I was hoping the second 3 minutes would give me something more apart from a brief increase in the guitar tempo around 3:36. "I See Houses" has a meditative quality to it--swirls of bass, piano and guitar over a mid-tempo drum routine.

There are a few bright spots. The lead single "Love Is Noise" is pretty good, the album's most uptempo track. "Noise Epic" has a great opening, slowly layering in the guitar and then the drums and spoken-word vocal, before hitting full tilt in the first chorus. This song, despite being the longest at over 8 minutes, actually doesn't bother me, because unlike the other languid tracks, this actually has variety and momentum to it, pushing through to an explosive guitar ending. "Valium Skies" is pretty good too--more song-like than many other tracks.

Forth's songs have the ingredients of the songs from Urban Hymns--the lush multi-layered sound of guitar, piano, strings, and Ashcroft--but, with a few exceptions, seem to have been left on the stove too long.

Best: Love Is Noise, Noise Epic, Valium Skies

Happy Birthday Hot 100

This week's issue of Billboard celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication's most prominent char, the Hot 100, a weekly tabulation of the most popular songs in the United States based on airplay and sales. The formula has changed through the years, accommodating changes in media formats and more recently what "airplay" means, but it remains the best national barometer of popular music.

The issue has a lot of special charts and articles, including a new "definitive" list of the top Hot 100 hits of the last 50 years. A great improvement in this chart over previous such charts--it's been weighted to take into account periods when chart turnover increases or decreases. This was a problem with some of the previous methodologies, where you'd see, for example, lots of entries from the mid '90s when the chart slowed down (so songs stayed around a long time racking up chart "points") and very few from 1987-1991 (when songs rotated through the chart much faster).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leon Jackson returns

Leon Jackson, who won Britain's X Factor reality singing contest last year, is back with the first single from his debut album Right Now (Oct. 20). It's a lovely, old fashioned single called "Don't Call This Love," but it's certainly no "Bleeding Love." Jackson may have a great career in the UK, but so far, I don't see him having the international appeal that Leona Lewis does. Check out the single:

Billboard Hot 100, 9/20/2008

1. Whatever You Like - T.I.

T.I. spends a third week at #1 with "Whatever You Like." I listened to the track last week, and I don't care for it. Come on Pink! Score your first solo #1!

2. So What - Pink

Yes, the Pink I was referring to is indeed up one spot to #2 this week. Pink replaces T.I. atop the Hot 100 digital sales chart, but T.I. is unfortunately still way ahead in airplay (he's #5, she's not in the top 25). Pink's airplay at top 40 radio though is quite strong, where she'll likely be in the top 10 next week.

3. Disturbia - Rihanna
4. Forever - Chris Brown
5. Paper Planes - M.I.A.

The top 5 is all jammed up this week. All 5 songs were in the top 5 last week and all are bulleted. Actually, tracks 6 through 9 are bulleted too, making the entire top 9 comprised of tracks with chart gains this week. That's pretty unusual.

9. In the Ayer - Flo Rida Featuring Will.I.Am

Flo Rida scores his second top 10 hit this week with "In the Ayer," up 12 spots to #9. His first hit, "Low" is still this year's longest-running #1 hit, having spent the year's first 10 weeks at #1. This is Will.I.Am's second credited appearance in the top 10 (outside of Black Eyed Peas). His first was being featured on Fergie's 2006 hit "Fergalicious," which went to #2.

11. Just Stand Up - Artists Stand Up to Cancer

"Just Stand Up," the cancer charity record featuring an amazing lineup of 15 of the biggest female singers of the English-speaking world, rockets up 67 spots to #11 this week. The featured singers are Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, Miley Cyrus, Keyshia Cole, Leann Rimes, Ashanti, and Ciara.

While popular charity records are fairly common in the UK, such as for Comic Relief or Children in Need, they are pretty rare in the U.S. The only other major one this decade was "What's Going On" in 2001 to benefits AIDS charities, which peaked at #27. In the '90s there were some big charity records, although I'm not sure the public was necessarily aware they were such, like Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" and Elton and George Michael's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

The last major U.S. charity release like this--where someone got a big choir of people together--was "Voices that Care" in 1991, which peaked at #11. It included lead vocals from acts like Garth Brooks, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, and Will Smith, and then a huge backup choir of singers, TV and film stars, and athletes, including Kevin Coster, Cindy Crawford, Ted Danson, Sally Field, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, William Shatner, Meryl Streep, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. The single was created as a way to support the troops during the Gulf War and benefit the Red Cross.

13. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

Katy Perry looks set to score her second top 10 hit quite soon, as "Hot N Cold" rises 7 spots to #13 this week. It's a worthy follow-up, perhaps even better than "I Kissed a Girl." That single, which spent 7 weeks at #1, is currently #1 in the UK for a fifth week.

53. American Boy - Estelle Featuring Kanye West

Over the past month Estelle's single "American Boy" has fallen from #11 to #37 to #57 and rebounds slightly to #53 this week. The rather dramatic freefall was due to her record company, in their infinite wisdom, cancelling the single (and album) from iTunes, pretty much the only place anyone buys singles from anymore. Apparently that wisdom wasn't infinite though, and this week Estelle's album is back on iTunes, and "American Boy" is currently #5 in iTunes sales. So next week, I expect a dramatic resurge, potentially into the top 10.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dido "Don't Believe in Love"

Here's Dido's new single "Don't Believe in Love," from the forthcoming Safe Trip Home album. It's a new sound for her, definitely less produced than her previous. That picture below is the album's cover, by the way.

Glasvegas curb from John Updike

So I'm reading Rabbit, Run right now, the first in John Updike's acclaimed four-part series about Harry Armstrong, and then today, I read in NME how Glasvegas's debut album, which is heading toward #1 on the UK albums chart this week, is absolutely amazing, and they single out this track "Stabbed," so I listen to it on YouTube, and there's a part where they sing "run rabbit run" over and over, which made me think of the book. Amazing how it all comes together.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Personal Chart, 9/13/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Forever - Chris Brown (3 wks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... Disturbia - Rihanna
3 .... 2 .... Viva la Vida - Coldplay (4 wks @ #1)
4 .... 5 .... Changes - Will Young
5 .... 6 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
6 .... 4 .... Closer - Ne-Yo
7 ... 10 ... Stepping Stone - Duffy
8 ... 18 ... Boyfriend - Alphabeat
9 ... 21 ... Girls - Sugababes
10 .. 14 .. Spiralling - Keane

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Elbow wins the Mercury

Elbow claimed the Mercury Prize for their album Seldom Seen Kid. This is a surprise win over Radiohead's In Rainbows, although the Mercury has often gone to more offbeat choices. My ranking of the nominees:

1. Radiohead
2. The Last Shadow Puppets
3. Estelle
4. Adele
5. Elbow
6. Alison Krauss & Robert Plan
7. British Sea Power
8. Neon Neon

Estelle's back on iTunes

After a ridiculous 2-week absence, Estelle's album Shine is back for sale at iTunes. Apparently, whatever record exec thought it was a good idea to pull the plug to make people buy the album realized the error of his ways (or was sacked).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Coldplay new EP this December

Coldplay has announced it will release an EP of new material this December titled Prospekt's March, that will include a collaboration with Kylie Minogue. They also say they will release a new album next December, bucking the usual 3-year wait we've had between their albums. Read the Spin article here. Also, if you go to their official site, they are offering a free track right now called "Death Will Never Conquer."

Christina Aguilera - Keeps Getting Better

Christina Aguilera is back with a new single "Keeps Getting Better," which she apparently performed last night on the MTV VMAs (I didn't watch this year, sorry). It's got an electro stomp to it, a la Goldfrapp's "Ooh La La" or Kylie's "2 Hearts." It's not bad, although I don't think it's as good as either of those. Check it out:

This is a from a new greatest hits album of the same name. I saw a track list on Wikipedia, which has since been pulled. I hope the set improves from what I saw, because it was really disappointing. It had only the bigger hits from her three albums, which any fan would already own. Why not spruce it up with some of her other non-album hits, like the Moulin Rouge #1 hit soundtrack single she did with Pink, Lil Kim, and Mya, "Lil Marmalade?" or her top 10 duet with Ricky Martin "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely?" Or even "Car Wash?"

Album Review: The Script - The Script (4/5)

The Script is a surprisingly hard album to get my head around. On its surface, it's the debut album from just another MOR pop band, a la Maroon 5. But a closer listen reveals there's more going on with this Irish trio. The Script ends up being an eclectic mix of sounds, settling someplace between the socially conscious R&B of Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is the Love" and the modern AC sound of David Gray. It reminds me a lot of Daniel Bedingfield's 2002 debut, Gotta Get Thru This, which explored a range of pop sounds such as hip-hip, dance club, guitar pop, and AC balladry. Lead singer Danny O’Donoghue sounds a bit like Daniel too.

"We Cry," the band's first single, takes itself quite seriously. It tells the story of a drug-addicted pregnant teen, a drug-addicted aspiring pop singer, an idealistic woman wasting away in a dead-end marriage, scored with strings and acoustic guitars tuned to a minor key. With lyrical phrasing verging on rap (and a few stray sirens), the song's urban influence is obvious. It doesn't quite hit the mark, but it's not bad.

The album quickly improves though with "Before the Worst." Although incorporating urban influences into a band like this is novel, The Script works best when they stick to just being a melodic pop band. This track has a beautiful piano underpinning and surprisingly dynamic drumming. Another of the album's standout tracks, "Fall for Anything" has a similar pedigree. Piano and warm synth chords take center stage on "Talk You Down," which exhibits a welcome, although obvious David Gray influence.

Then there's the album's showstopper, the lovely "The Man Who Can't Be Moved." It opens simply with a plucked electric guitar and vocals before the bass and drums kick in. It's a lovely song and a nice sentiment too--a guy whose girl has recently dumped him returns to the street corner where they first met and refuses to leave that spot until she changes her mind. People try to give him handouts to which he replies "I'm not broke, I'm just a broken-hearted man."

"Breakeven" is another winner--understated with a guitar focus livened up with strings and synths during the chorus. I also really like "The End Where I Begin," which starts with a nice guitar-based first verse and follows with an even better guitar-and-piano second verse.

It would be really great, if it wasn't for the remaining three songs that don't stack up. "Rusty Halo" annoys me. "If You See Kay"--well, just say the title out loud a few times and you'll see that this is way too juvenile a song title for a band that wants to be taken seriously. Then there's "I'm Yours," which is too syrupy.

While most band's first albums wouldn't dare show such range, nor boast such a polished production, it's no surprise really, given that O'Donoghue and guitarist Mark Sheehan formerly worked as pop producers alongside big names like Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes and Teddy Riley. While the album does have the aforementioned downsides, it's mostly a hit, and when it works it sounds really great. They got the music part of songwriting down pat, but need to work on the lyrics. That's what album #2 will be for.

Best: The Man Who Can't Be Moved, The End Where I Begin, Before the Worst, Breakeven, Talk You Down, Fall for Anything

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 9/13/2008

1. Whatever You Like - T.I.

T.I. holds the top spot for a second week. "Whatever You Like" remains #1 on Digital Sales, and jumps up from #20 to #13 on the airplay chart, earning T.I. the Airplay Gainer award this week.

3. So What - Pink

Pink emerges as a potential challenger for #1 next week, bolting up six spots to #3 this week. "So What" is currently #1 at iTunes and is quickly moving up the pop airplay chart. This is the highest a solo Pink single has ever charted, beating the #4 peaks by "Most Girls" in 2000 and "Get the Party Started" in 2001. Pink's best placing ever was her 2001 #1 hit "Lady Marmalade" with Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim and Mya.

9. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

I'm not sure to what Jason Mraz owes the sudden popularity of his single "I'm Yours." Released in February, this week the single jumps 15 spots to #9, and is this week's Sales Gainer. It's now his biggest hit, eclipsing "The Remedy," which hit #15.

13. Can't Believe It - T-Pain Featuring Lil Wayne
16. Got Money - Lil Wayne Featuring T-Pain

It's a case of "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" in the teens this week, as Lil Wane and T-Pain both appear with singles featuring each other. T-Pain's got the upper hand, rising nine spots this week to #13, while Lil Wayne's "Got Money" is up two to #16.

20. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

While Katy Perry's recent #1 hit "I Kissed a Girl" is quickly losing steam (it's down from #4 to #10 this week), her new single is poised to supercede it, rising 27 spots to #20 this week, giving the singer her second top 40 and top 20 hit.

32. Miss Independent - Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo scores his 10th top 40 hit with "Miss Independent." No, it's not a remake of Kelly Clarkson's 2003 hit, but a new single.

40. Don't Think I Don't Think About It - Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker, the lead singer from Hootie & The Blowfish, the band that scored a major hit with their 1994 debut Cracked Rear View, lands his first solo top 40 hit this week with "Don't Think I Don't Think About It." Here's the real interesting part: it's a country song! It's currently #5 and rising on the country chart, a rare feat for a black artist.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Keane receive Q Award nomination, reveal cover

That's the cover of Keane's forthcoming third album Perfect Symmetry, out October 13. Very cool. My mom would like it, since it's sort of quilt-like. Keane's also been nominated for the Q Magazine Award for best track of 2008 for "Spiralling." They're up against Duffy's "Mercy," Coldplay's "Violet Hill," Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," and The Ting Tings' "That's Not My Name."

Personal Chart, 9/6/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Forever - Chris Brown (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Viva la Vida - Coldplay (4 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... Disturbia - Rihanna
4 .... 6 .... Closer - Ne-Yo
5 ... 11 ... Changes - Will Young
6 ... 12 ... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
7 .... 5 .... All Summer Long - Kid Rock
8 .... 4 .... I Kissed a Girl - Katy Perry (2 wks @ #1)
9 .... 9 .... I Decided - Solange
10 ... 14 ... Stepping Stone - Duffy

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fall Music Preview Update

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue (Sept. 23). The lead singer from Rilo Kiley releases her second solo album, the follow-up to 2006's Rabbit Fur Coat (and last year's excellent Under the Blacklight from the band).

Take That - 5th Studio Album (November). Having successfully reunited in 2006 with Beautiful World, which produced two #1 singles, "Patience" and "Shine," which both won BRIT awards for best British singles of 2006 (Patience) and 2007 (Shine), the foursome is back with the same producer John Shanks at the helm.

Girls Aloud - 5th Studio Album (November). Not to be outdone by the Sugababes, Girls Aloud will also release a new album this fall, their fifth. No first single yet.

Leon Jackson - Right Now (Oct. 20). Last year's X Factor winner, the show's fourth, releases his debut album. The first single is "Don't Call This Love," out the previous week.

The Saturdays - TBD (October). The latest girl group, who had a top 10 hit this summer in "If This Is Love," releases their debut.

Celine Dion - My Love: Essential Collection (Oct. 27). Celine Dion releases her greatest hits collection, featuring first single "My Love," a reworking of the Taking Chances track, and a new track written by Kara DioGuardi and David A. Stewart, "Let Me Be Your Soldier."

Craig David - Best of (Nov. 24). Expect "Fill Me In," "7 Days," and "Rise & Fall" to get new life as David, who's career trajectory hasn't exactly been uphill lately, collects his biggest hits.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 9/6/2008

1. Whatever You Like - T.I.

Rapper T.I. vaults to #1, securing a new record for the biggest leap to #1, rising 70 spots from #71. Sooner or later someone will jump 100-1, and we'll never be troubled with this record again. Until that time, T.I. can claim it for himself, beating out Maroon 5's 64-1 jump with "Makes Me Wonder, " which had beat the previous record-holder Kelly Clarkson's 51-1 jump with "A Moment Like This." This is T.I.'s second #1 hit, following his guest appearance on Justin Timberlake's "My Love."

9. So What - Pink

Pink makes a strong Hot 100 debut at #9 with "So What," the first single from her upcoming fifth album Funhouse. Interestingly, "So What," which is #9 this week, is Pink's ninth top 10, and both top 10 hits from her last album, "U + Ur Hand" and "Who Knew" both peaked at #9.

19. All Summer Long - Hit Masters
25. All Summer Long - Kid Rock
37. American Boy - Estelle Featuring Kanye West

This week's Hot 100 provides an interesting lesson on the cost of ignoring innovation. First up at #19 is "All Summer Long" by Hit Masters, a karaoke company's remake of the song popularized by Kid Rock, which appears at #25. The Kid Rock track (and the entire album) has been withheld from iTunes. Consequently, a song that if available as a single would surely be in the top 10 right now, languishes at #25 based solely on airplay. This if course was done in hopes that fans would buy the album, which apparently has worked, as the album is #2 right now. So I guess the gamble paid off for the bottom line, even if it means that for now "Picture" continues to be Kid Rock's only top 10 hit.

In another corner is Estelle, who's record label Atlantic decided this week to discontinue offering her album Shine on iTunes. This, it turns out, was a bad decision. Last week "American Boy" was #11 with a bullet, having been steadily climbing. With the album gone from iTunes, so then is the track, and it plummets 26 spots to #37. Estelle could have had a top 10 hit this week, instead she has one of the week's biggest droppers. I suppose the rationale here was again hoping that fans would instead buy the album, but taking it off iTunes--America's #1 music retailer--really deprives fans of that opportunity too. Consequently, the album plummets from #124 to #159. If I was Estelle, I'd be more than a little bit ticked.

Why would record companies do this? They seem unable to grasp that consumers want to buy music online. They don't want to buy CDs anymore. CDs are dying. Let them die. Move on or be left behind.

"Missing" hits

J.Mensah's comment on my blog today got me thinking about hit singles that are "missing" from the Hot 100. From 1995 to 1998, US record companies began not releasing singles from major acts, preferring to market them only at radio and with videos in hopes that consumers would just buy the album. The effect on the charts were that a number of notable songs that were very popular at the time never appeared on the Hot 100--including many potential #1 or top 10 hits. Even after Billboard changed the rules in November 1998 and started allowing these non-single tracks to chart, there were still a number of erratic chart entries due to singles having airplay but no sales.

Here are some examples:

Alanis Morissette: You Oughta Know, Hand in My Pocket, Head Over Feet, and Uninvited never charted ("Thank U" appeared at #17 on its way down, as it was a hit in late 1998 when the rules changed. It probably would have been a top 10 hit, or with a single, a potential #1).

Fugees: Killing Me Softly never charted

No Doubt: Spiderwebs, Don't Speak never charted

The Cardigans: Lovefool never charted

NSync: Tearin' Up My Heart never charted ("Bye Bye Bye" hit #4 in 2000 based only on airplay, incredibly high at the time for a song without a physical single. It surely would have been a major #1 hit if a single had been released)

Backstreet Boys: As Long As You Love Me never charted ("I'll Never Break Your Heart" hit #35 when the rules changed, but surely would have charted much higher with a single; "I Want It That Way" hit #6 on airplay, but with a single would surely have been a #1)

Natalie Imbruglia/Goo Goo Dolls: "Torn" charted just below the top 40 after the rules changed--months after it was a hit. It's airplay was that strong that it was still around. Goo Goo Doll's "Iris" charted at #9 when the rules changed, but had been a #1 airplay hit over the summer.

Sugar Ray: "Fly" never charted.

UK Singles Chart, 9/6/2008

1. I Kissed a Girl - Katy Perry

Katy Perry spends a fourth week at #1 with "I Kissed a Girl." The single finally lands in shops as a physical release today, making her 4-week run at the top the longest ever without a physical release. Perry's also the sixth artist so far this year to spend at least 4 weeks at #1--four of the others (everyone but Basshunter) also hit #1 on downloads in advance of their CD releases.

2. Pjanoo - Eric Prydz

Katy will have some competition at the top next week from Eric Prydz, whose latest single also hits stores. Prydz scored a major #1 single in 2004 with "Call on Me," and hit #2 early last year with his remix of Pink Floyd's "Proper Education."

3. Disturbia - Rihanna

Rihanna is fast emerging as a potent challenger to Beyonce's title of biggest new female artist of the decade. "Disturbia" won't get a physical release for another 3 weeks, but it's already #3. This is her 8th top 5 hit.

5. Mountains - Biffy Clyro

Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro climbs five spots this week with its full release, further cementing "Mountains" as the band's biggest hit to date. The single is not tied to any album.

12. Daddy's Gone - Glasvegas

Another Scottish band, Glasvegas, gets their second top 40 hit, besting by 4 places the #16 peak of their first single from earlier this year, "Geraldine."

14. The World Should Revolve Around Me - Little Jackie

The group Little Jackie, featuring singer Imani Coppola, rises seven notches this week with the full release of "The World Should Revolve Around Me." It's a great pop single, and I'm surprised not to see this in the top 10.

15. Boyfriend - Alphabeat

Alphabeat jumps 20 spots this week to #15 with the physical release of their third single, "Boyfriend." I wouldn't be surprised if this single--a great pop track--climbs further, although it has a way to go if it's to catch their first and so far biggest hit, the #6 single "Fascination."

19. The Day that Never Comes - Metallica

Metallica is up 17 spots on download sales. This is the band's biggest single since they hit #16 in 2003 with "Frantic."

23. See You Again - Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus makes her UK debut with "See You Again." The track was Cyrus's first top 10 in the US, where she's since had a second ("7 Things"). Miley is the second Cyrus to land in the UK top 40--16 years ago her father hit #3 with "Achy Breaky Heart" and #24 with "Could've Been Me."

39. Miss Independent - Ne-Yo

Finally, Ne-Yo debuts at #39 on downloads with "Miss Independent," his 6th top 40 hit and follow-up to the #1 single "Closer."

Singles out on physical release today: Katy Perry, Eric Prydz, Duffy's "Stepping Stone" and New Kids on the Block's "Summertime." I hope Duffy can land in the top 10.