Friday, October 31, 2008

Personal Chart, 11/1/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... The Promise - Girls Aloud (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... So What - Pink (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... Take Back the City - Snow Patrol
4 .... 4 .... Girls - Sugababes (2 wks @ #1)
5 .... 6 .... Forgive Me - Leona Lewis
6 .... 7 .... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
7 .... 5 .... Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs
8 .... 9 .... Love You Anyway - Boyzone
9 ... 12 ... Human - The Killers
10 .. 10 .. The Shock of the Lightning - Oasis
11 ... 11 ... Miss Independent - Ne-Yo
12 .. 16 ... The Lovers Are Losing - Keane
13 ... 8 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (2 wks @ #1)
14 .. 20 .. Womanizer - Britney Spears
15 .. 15 ... Don't Believe in Love - Dido
16 .. 14 ... You Make It Real - James Morrison
17 .. 19 ... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
18 .. 35 ... Up - The Saturdays
19 .. 34 ... Wire to Wire - Razorlight
20 .. 30 .. If I Were a Boy - Beyonce
21 .. 24 ... Keeps Gettin' Better - Christina Aguilera
22 .. 23 ... Another Way to Die - Jack White & Alicia Keys
23 .. 39 ... Greatest Day - Take That
24 .. 21 ... Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
25 .. 25 ... Kids - MGMT
26 .. 18 ... Don't Call This Love - Leon Jackson
27 .. 26 ... Beggin' - Madcon
28 .. 29 ... Lost! - Coldplay
29 NEW> Rain on Your Parade - Duffy
30 .. 31 ... I Can Feel You - Anastacia
31 NEW> Infinity 2008 - The Guru Josh Project
32 .. 33 ... Raindrops (Encore Une Fois) - Sash! Featuring Stunt
33 .. 17 ... Changes - Will Young (2 wks @ #1)
34 .. 22 ... Green Light - John Legend Featuring Andre 3000
35 .. 38 ... I'm Outta Time - Oasis
36 .. 28 ... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
37 .. 27 ... Closer - Ne-Yo
38 .. 13 ... Be the One - The Ting Tings
39 NEW> Make You Feel My Love - Adele
40 NEW> Miles Away - Madonna

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 11/8/2008

1. Whatever You Want - T.I.
2. Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna

T.I. continues to dominate the Hot 100, holding the top 2 spots for a second week--third week in the last month. I'm really surprised that the single at #3 wasn't #1 this week.

3. If I Were a Boy - Beyonce

Beyonce makes a big jump up 65 spots this week. The dramatic leap is owed to "If I Were a Boy" going on sale at iTunes last week. It is the first single from her upcoming album I Am...Sasha Fierce, a two-disc set. "Boy" comes from disc 1, the more downtempo personal music. Beyonce's also put a single from the second disc--the upbeat "Sasha Fierce" set--called "Single Ladies," but it's only available on iTunes as a video for the moment. That Beyonce couldn't replicate Britney's recent feat and launch this up to #1 is a bit disappointing. Still, this is Beyonce's 10th top 5 hit, of which 3 have hit #4, 3 have hit #3 and 4 have gone all the way to #1.

24. Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson

"Spotlight" was recently a #11 hit in the UK, but hasn't really taken off in the US. This week its up four places, some sales no doubt in sympathy for the singer's unbelievable recent tragedy.

? High School Musical 3. The soundtrack to HSM3 went on sale this week, but unlike with the previous albums, fans don't appear to be "cherry picking" any tracks enough to launch them into the top 40.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Celine Dion - My Love: Essential Collection

For almost 18 years Celine Dion's been a major star. In 1990, the French-Canadian singer, who already had a career singing in French, released her first English-language album, Unison. "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" became her first major English single, hitting #4 in the US and #6 in Canada. The rest as they say is history, as Dion's subsequent releases during the 1990s climbed higher in the charts, broke her in Europe, and won her many Grammy Awards. Her star began to fade in 2000s, not helped by the fact that she spent most of the decade in Vegas' Caesar's Palace and away from top 40 and AC radio.

My Love: Essential Collection is Dion's first comprehensive hits collection. In 1999 she released All the Way - A Decade of Song, which was half a greatest hits and half a new album, neither of which was really that satisfying due to the obvious omissions (like the aforementioned "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" which is included on My Love). The 17 tracks cover all her major US hits ("I Want You to Need Me," which was a Canadian #1 is not included) and include a new song, "There Comes a Time." There's also a live version of her current single, "My Love," which first appeared on her last album, Taking Chances, and her 1996 Olympics theme "The Power of the Dream." With the exception of "My Love," the tracks are sequenced chronologically, which I generally prefer. All the big ones are here--"The Power of Love," "Because You Loved Me," "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," "My Heart Will Go On," etc.

Notably, the European release is completely different, a testament to the fact that her career didn't take off there as quickly as it did in North America. Gone are the early singles "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" and "If You Asked Me To," which were not major hits in Europe, as well as the Olympic theme and her R. Kelly duet, "I'm Your Angel." Instead there is "Think Twice," which was her first UK #1 (but a flop in the US), her Barbra Streisand duet "Tell Him," "Falling Into You" (which wasn't released in North America), her Bee Gees Collaboration "Immortality," and her Heart remake "Alone." Interestingly, the European version is not sequenced in the order the singles were released, but all mixed up, with the bigger hits generally up front. There's yet another version just for France that includes no French-language songs, has an entirely different track order, and includes "One Heart" and "Ten Days."

As if that's not enough, there are also 2-disc "Ultimate Essential Collection" releases in all three of those territories. The North American version adds in her upbeat "Love Can Move Mountains," her French release "Pour que Tu M'aimes Encore," "To Love You More," "River Deep, Mountain High (which was not a single)," "The Prayer," "Tell Him," the studio version of "My Love," "I Knew I Loved You" (a new track, not a remake of the Savage Garden hit), and Luther Vandross' "Dance with My Father." Best of all though, this set includes "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)," which until now has never appeared on a Dion album in the US.

The European version is much more expanded, which 36 tracks over the two discs. The first disc is the single-disc version of the album and the second has all the additional material, including "You and I" from Dion's live Vegas album, which was chosen by Hillary Rodham Clinton as her presidential campaign song, "Only One Road," "Have You Ever Been in Love," "Call the Man," "The Reason," and "Eyes on Me," among others. The French two disc set is chronologically sequenced, has 30 tracks, and doesn't include any tracks that don't appear on the US and European versions, other than "Ten Days."

In sum, these sets gather 43 different tracks. Yet, despite that, there are still gaps for completists, even if you bought all 3 "ultimate sets." Her 1994 duet with Clive Griffin from Sleepless in Seattle, "When I Fall in Love," is an obvious omission, as is her Canadian #1 "I Want You to Need Me." Also missing are US top 40 hits "(If There Was) Any Other Way" and "Nothing Broken But My Heart"--neither of which have yet to appear on a Dion collection--her version of "At Last," which as a US AC hit, and "Stand By Your Side," which was also an AC hit. Still, any version is pretty comprehensive, particularly the nicely sequenced North American version.

This weekend's UK #1

This is on course to have the biggest 1-week sales of the year in Britain. It's a remake of Mariah Carey's "Hero" by the finalists from this season's The X Factor. It's for charity too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

UK Singles Chart, 11/1/2008

1. The Promise - Girls Aloud

British pop act Girls Aloud dethrones Pink's "So What" from the top of the UK singles charting, ending the 12-week run of Americans at #1. "The Promise" sold over 77,000 units--the most units sold in 1 week for any #1 hit this year, besting the 72,000 units Duffy's "Mercy" moved in its 3rd week at #1. That's better than they did with their last two #1s--last year's "Walk This Way" and 2004's "I'll Stand by You," but well short of the over 200,000 copies sold of "The Sound of the Underground" in its first week. Girls Aloud are the first British group to top the chart since Coldplay did it in June with "Viva la Vida" and the first all-girl group at #1 since the Sugababes hit the top about a year ago with "About You Now." This is the group's fourth #1 hit.

3. Infinity 2008 - Guru Josh Project

A dance remake scores rather well this week, actually besting the original. "Infinity" was a #5 hit in 1989 for Guru Josh, now this remake charts two spots higher. Surprisingly high for a dance single.

5. Wire to Wire - Razorlight

"Wire to Wire," the first single from Razorlight's upcoming third album Slipway Fires jumps 25 spots to become their fifth top 10 hit. Their previous top 10 hit was their biggest, #1 single "America" about 2 years ago.

7. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

This isn't out as a single until late next month, but already Katy Perry has scored her second top 10 hit with "Hot N Cold." It's also a big hit in the U.S.--#5 right now on the Billboard Hot 100.

8. Love Lockdown - Kanye West

Still creeping up and still a week away from a single release is Kanye West's latest, up 3 spots.

18. Another Way to Die - Jack White & Alicia Keys

The Quantum of Solace Bond theme jumps up 9 spots to #18 with its physical release out this week. If it doesn't go any higher this will be a rather poor showing for a bond theme, the last two of which by Chris Cornell and Madonna were both top 10 hits.

52. The Lovers Are Losing - Keane

Poor Keane's latest single misses the top 40 altogether. Ouch. The album just came out too--it's not like this is the fourth release.

Album Review: Keane - Perfect Symmetry (4/5)

The dreaded sophomore slump hit Keane pretty hard. It wasn't the music that suffered--Under the Iron Sea, while not as good as Hopes and Fears, was an accomplished album--but the band itself, with drug addiction and creative differences threatening to tear it apart. It was a shock to behold from such a seemingly mild-mannered group of guys, but such is the narcotic influence of fame.

By all accounts lead singer Tom Chaplin is clean and sober now, and the band has a renewed spirit. It's certainly evident on Perfect Symmetry. While Iron Sea had a similar albeit darker sound to Hopes and Fears, the album finds the band taking new directions, incorporating '80s new wave influences and (gasp) guitar.

"Spiralling," clearly influenced by David Bowie's "Let's Dance," leads the set with a confident strut. Tim Rice-Oxley's piano arrangement is still here but combined by a heavy synth bass line. It's brasher than we're used to hearing the band, which has been plagued by detractors' accusations that they are boring and too quiet (to which I read they once suggested, why not turn up the volume then?). "The Lovers are Losing" is musically more similar to their previous work--melodic, piano-driven pop rock, although this time there are guitars in the mix as well.

"Better Than This" is an odd track. It has a folksier sound owing to the handclaps and banjo (synthesized I believe, as there is no banjo listed in the liner notes). The '80s synths and drum machine beats come out on "You Haven't Told Me Anything." While I do love "Spiralling," neitehr of these two tracks really grab me. Perhaps I'm missing the good ol' Keane?

Not to fear, "Perfect Symmetry" is as lovely as ever a traditional Keane track--mid-tempo with a sharp piano refrain backing the soaring chorus. They tack on a sing-along at the end, the choir and Tom declaring "I dream in emails, worn out phrases." While I like the song, the ending is a bit over the the top. "You Don't See Me" is more understated and also lovely, and again has a particularly good piano part.

"Again and Again" moves the tempo back up and brings back some '80s-sounding synths into the big melody. The band catches its breath briefly in the middle before releashing the full onslaught of synths, piano, and guitar at the end. Stuart Price co-produced this track, along with "Black Burning Heart," which finds Tom in earnest belter mode. His influence on these is very slight--neither feels like a Confessions on the Dancefloor retreated like the album he produced last year for Seal did (will be interesting to see what he does with the Killers next month).

"Playing Along" is another odd one. It feels rather slight until it releases a brief volley of raspy electric guitar, but then goes back to its plodding melodic self. Then there's another burst and the song surges with Tom singing "I'm going to turn up the volume 'til I can't even think." It's about shutting out the world, but I can't help thinking is also a slap to those Keane detractors I mentioned earlier. "Pretend that You're Alone" is sort of...jaunty I guess is the word, throwing in saxophone--a Keane first. They wrap it up with tastefully restrained "Love is the End"--a predictable finale.

So here's the rub. I can't say I love this album, which is sad, since I've been such a champion of the band. Hopes and Fears was my favorite album of 2004--I loved it and listened to it constantly. And I liked Under the Iron Sea a lot, particularly "A Bad Dream," which I listen to all the time. I can't find fault with Perfect Symmetry--it's a great album--but it's not going down as a personal favorite. Despite their experimentation, which I applaud, much of this feels very familiar without being as interesting as what they've done before. There's no "Everybody's Changing" or "A Bad Dream" to really grab hold and make me feel the music. I feel like I'm breaking up with them, while urging "it's not's me."

Best: Spiralling, Perfect Symmetry, The Lovers Are Losing, You Don't See Me, Again and Again

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Album Review: Sugababes - Catfights and Spotlights (4/5)

The Spice Girls continue to remembered as the royalty of British pop girl groups, a shame really, when you consider that the Spices were active for only 4 years, and the Sugababes have been going strong for twice that time now. Lately their star is in danger of being eclipsed by Girls Aloud, who have gotten better (and now have more top 10 hits), while the Sugababes' latest albums haven't been their best.

But Catfights and Spotlights, the group's sixth album and second with latest member Amelle Berrabah is a decent outing. Even if it doesn't reach the heights of their 2002 album Angels with Dirty Faces or their 2003 work Three, it is their best work since then.

Catfights immediately jumps on a retro soul bandwagon recently popularized by Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and others. "Girls," the fantastic first single, is a throttling, horn-drenched affair. "You on a Good Day" gives us a good dose of soulful '60s girlgroup swing. "No Can Do" skips to the next decade, for a funkier but equally upbeat sound. It's a got a cool vocal and horn breakdown about 2 minutes in. I think this will be the second single, and it's a good choice. "Hanging on a Star" continues in the '70s vein, adding a disco stomp and mixing sung and spoken vocal delivery.

Then the album takes a bit of a dip with "Side Chick," a sudden shift from the retro pop to contemporary urban stylings. It's a good but not great track, with decent vocal harmonizing and a darker style reminiscent of the group's early days. The Max Martin-penned "Unbreakable Heart" shimmers with vibrating guitars and a repetitive piano riff. These songs are good, but not as good as the four tracks that open the album.

The album recovers with the next two tracks, which are both excellent. "Sunday Rain" is the first ballad, and it's the most obvious step in the Amy Winehouse direction, employing a big '60s-ish wall-of-sound production of strings, brass, and keyboards. The track was co-written by Steve Booker who worked with Duffy to write her hits "Mercy" and "Stepping Stone." The result is quite satisfying, and the girls sound particularly good here. Even better is "Every Heart Broken," an earnest, powerful ballad that starts with a bare vocal and piano and builds to a big string-backed chorus. The blend of the classical stylings of the strings and modern beats is well done, and I would expect this to be a future hit.

The album's last act is its weakest, which has generally been the case for all of the group's albums, but it still reveals some interesting work. It opens with "Beware," a rather unusual track, with a darker sound and an unusual (but interesting) verse-to-chorus transition. "Nothing's as Good as You" is rather slight, definitely my least favorite track on the album. "Sound of Goodbye" is a delightfully melodramatic breakup song, with a heavy piano, strings, and bass production. It's the best of the last four tracks. "Can We Call a Truce" has a repetitive string melody that's too reminiscent of Pachelbel's Canon.

There's two bonus tracks here also, which are worth mentioning. First is an acoustic piano version of "About You Now," popularized over the summer when it aired during a funeral scene in the British soap opera Hollyoaks. "About You Now" was as frothy and upbeat as any Sugababes single, so it's remarkable how well it translates to a stripped down ballad (the girls performed it in this manner on Radio 1's Live Lounge). Then there's a version of Taio Cruz's recent hit "She's Like a Star," which here also includes the 'Babes.

I'm pleased to say that Catfights and Spotlights is an improvement their last album Change, which became their first since their debut to net them no more than one top 10 hit, and more consistent than Taller in More Ways, which had a great first half and pretty unmemorable second one. There were posters for Catfights all over London last week (especially in the tube), so of course, I had to buy it, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the album offered more treats than just "Girls." The question now is whether the upcoming releases from Girls Aloud and new girl group The Saturdays can top this.

Best: Girls, No Can Do, Every Heart Broken, Sunday Rain, You on a Good Day, Hanging on a Star, Sound of Goodbye

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 11/1/2008

1. Whatever You Like - T.I.
2. Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna

T.I. regains the top 2 positions on the Hot 100 this week, as Britney's "Womanizer" tumbles to #4 after its big first week of sales. "Whatever You Like" spends a 6th week at #1. Both of these singles were in the #1 and #2 positions 2 weeks ago but were flipped, with the Rihanna collaboration in the top spot.

9. Fearless - Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift debuts at #9 with "Fearless," the third single and title track from her second album out next month. This is her third top 10 hit in the last 3 months, following "Change" (#10) and "Love Story" (#5).

Really not much else of interest this week.

Boyzone - Back Again...No Matter What

Boyzone are back...on tour and with this new greatest hits package. The Irish group was the UK's biggest boyband from 1995 to 1999, filling the void between Take That and Westlife, both of whom were arguably more popular. While Take That had a trendier sound, Boyzone favored a more mature approach, despite a name that sounds like a supply store for gay clubbers.

Boyzone's 1999 greatest hits, By Request, was pretty comprehensive, so with this new set you get the three new singles: "Love You Anyway," the upbeat current single, "Better," a remake of Tom Baxter's recent hit, and "Can't Stop Thinking About You," which sounds a lot like Sugababes' "About You Now" and "Push the Button." Plus there's the group's final single before they split up (or took a break, since I'm not sure they ever officially broke) "Everyday I Love You." There's also a live version of Ronan Keating's "Life Is a Rollercoaster." Missing are two of the singles from their first album, "Key to My Life" and "So Good," although the better tracks from that work--"Love Me for a Reason" and "Coming Home Now" are included.

The group scored five top 5 hits from that first album, but their first #1s would come from their second album, the better of which is the soaring love ballad "Words." In 1998 they released their third album, which includes yet more #1 hits, such as "All that I Need" and the band's biggest hit ever "No Matter What," which was their only single to be popular in the US.

Still, as I said above, these are were all included on By Request, so if you've got that, just cherry pick the new tracks that interest you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Duffy "Rain on Your Parade"

Check out Duffy's new video "Rain on Your Parade." The single comes from the upcoming re-released special edition of Rockferry.

UK Singles Chart, 10/25/2008

1. So What - Pink

Pink rules the UK singles chart for the third week with "So What." American acts have now ruled the top spot in the UK singles chart for 12 weeks--almost a quarter of 2008. That beats the 11-week run for Americans in 2006 when Orson, Ne-Yo and Gnarls Barkley spent 11 weeks in a row at #1 (9 of which were from Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," Britain's #1 single of 2006). As far as I can tell, this is the longest stretch of Americans ruling the #1 spot in the UK in over 20 years. Girls Aloud look set to end that reign next week, returning Brits to the top of the UK chart with their latest, "The Promise." Pink's album Funhouse is out next week.

2. The Winner's Song - Geraldine
3. Don't Call This Love - Leon Jackson

Now for some fun. British comedian Peter Kay is no stranger to the singles chart. His 2005 collaboration with Tony Christie, "(Is This the Way to) Amarillo" was the year's #1 hit, and his 2007 remake/collaboration with the Proclaimers on "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was a major #1 last year. Now he's gone and teamed up with Gary Barlow to create a parody of UK reality TV show pop singers, "The Winner's Song," from "Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice," which aired last week on Channel 4. "The Winner's Song" is the victory lap so to speak of that show's "winner" Geraldine McQueen. And it hits all the pop cliches we've come to know and love from songs like "A Moment Like This," "That's My Goal," or "All This Time" like the plodding opening piano chords, self-actualizing lyrics and the last chorus key change (of which this song actually has two).

What's most fun perhaps is that this "parody" of reality TV-produced pop stars has actually trumped a genuine one. Last year's X Factor winner Leon Jackson released his first proper single last week, "Don't Call This Love." Surely he hoped this would be his "Bleeding Love," the similarly positioned record that Leona Lewis has carried to #1 all over the world. Sadly for Mr. Jackson his new single has underperformed, landing at a mere #3. Even Shayne Ward managed better when he hit #2 with "No Promises," his first single after his #1 victory lap. This confirms what I had suspected--while Leona Lewis has gone on to be a international pop superstar, Leon Jackson is going to have to settle for regional (and less substantial) success. I see birthday parties in his future (really great parties though).

5. Up - The Saturdays

Pop girl group The Saturdays prove they weren't a one-hit wonder with "If This Is Love," beating that single to become their first top 5 hit. It comes a week after Sugababes, the reigning queens of British girl group pop hit #3 with "Girls" and a week before Girls Aloud come out with their latest, "The Promise." This is another great track, further piquing my interest. It's got quite an '80s groove, with a deep synth bass line akin to something Michael Jackson would have done. Their debut album Chasing Lights has already garnered a 5-star review from Britain's gay newspaper, Pink Paper, saying "Stop! You might want to remember where you were when you heard that The Saturdays were actually very good indeed."

6. Take Back the City - Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol jump up nine spots to #6 this week with "Take Back the City," the first single from their new album A Hundred Million Suns, out next week. As such, it becomes the group's fifth top 10 single, besting by one place the #7 peak of the first single from their last album, "You're All I Have" from Eyes Open. While last year's "Signal Fire" is their highest charting single (#4), they are best remembered by their 2006 #6 hit "Chasing Cars."

9. Raindrops (Encore Une Fois) - Sash! Featuring Stunt

I'm kicking myself for not having bought this in London last week, for it is not available on US iTunes nor any other download store I know of. Sash! became popular in the UK in 1997, scoring top 3 hits with all of their first four singles, all in different languages. Their very first single, Encore Une Fois hit #2 in March of 1997. They followed with seven other top 10 hits, my favorites of which were "Stay" (#2 in 1997) and "Mysterious Times" (#2 in 1998). It's been 7 years now since they've had a major hit, and "Raindrops" comes from their latest greatest hits collection (they've already had a couple of other ones). It's a mashup with Stunt's, "Raindrops," and frankly I fail to see how it's different from that song other than a woman announcing "Encore Une Fois" before the chorus. Still, it's a fun dance track, giving the German dance artist his 9th UK top 10 hit.

11. Love Lockdown - Kanye West

It's a "grower not a shower" as Reggie keeps reminding us annoying during the Radio 1 UK top 40 chart show. Kanye West is up another three spots to #11 this week and should crack the top 10 next week. This is slated to get a physical release in 2 weeks.

23. Spiralling - Keane

The release of Keane's new album Perfect Symmetry, which tops the UK albums chart this week (their third to do so), send that album's first single "Spiralling" back up the chart 11 spots to the #23 peak position it reached 6 weeks ago.

25. Kids - MGMT

MGMT's "Kids" is proving to be another hit for them, jumping 10 spots to #25. Their last single, "Electric Feel," peaked at #22.

28. Be the One - The Ting Tings

The Ting Tings see diminishing returns from their fourth single, which falls well short of the #1 and #6 placings of their last two singles, "That's Not My Name" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Album Review: Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul (4.5 / 5)

Oasis are an institution in Britain. They were in the '90s what Nirvana was to America--a driving force that helped reshaped the sound of rock. Back then they were leaders of the Britpop movement, Britain's answer to grunge that hearkened back to the guitar and melody based rock of the late '60s. They were like the new Beatles, and their first two albums, Definitely Maybe and What's the Story Morning Glory were met with almost universal acclaim.

Then things took a bit of a bad turn. Be Here Now, their third album, saw the band go too over the top, and although it sold very well, was not as well regarded. Their fourth and fifth albums fell into a similar vein (but with fewer sales)--fine, but not their best. Still, they managed to continue scoring #1 hits, so they were never far from the limelight, and the hope was always that the next one would return them to form. Their last, 2005's Don't Believe the Truth, was largely heralded as a step in that direction, giving us stomping hits like "Lyla" and the gorgeous winter ballad "Let There Be Love."

Dig Out Your Soul finds the band continuing to reclaim their lost ground, putting forth a great set of rocking tunes. There are a few ballads here, but most of the songs are charging rock numbers that retain a mostly standard simple formula. "Bag It Up" is a great opening track--simple, driving and melodic, with a proper emphasis on the guitar, the occasional harmonized vocal and the big orchestra-backed finish. "The Turning" starts a bit quieter, but ends up just as satisfying, tinged with hints of psychedelia and big choruses.

Stomping "Waiting for the Rapture" turns the electric and bass guitars way up, especially after the first chorus. Noel Gallagher sings on this one, and really, it's shame he doesn't do it more, although then I guess the band would have to be called Noel Gallagher's Oasis, given that he is the band's principal songwriter. His voice has more heft but less personality than brother Liam's. It's a nice contrast. Liam returns then on "The Shock of the Lightning," the pulsing first single that sadly missed #1 a couple of weeks ago. The lyrics don't make much sense ("love is a time machine up on the silver screen") but who cares, this is great toe-tapping head-nodding rock.

"I'm Outta Time" is the first and best of three tracks penned by Liam, and it's one of the best slow songs Oasis have ever done--up there with "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Let There Be Love" from their last album. The always-present Beatles influence is particularly strong here. Piano, guitar, bass, and Liam's voice blend together like the smoothest dessert cocktail--dark and delicious. It's the last of the brilliant five-track opening to Dig Out Your Soul.

And the good news is that the rest of album is good too, although it loses a little steam toward the end. "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady" plods forth with a strutting bass line borrowed from the Old West. Noel shows up for vocal duty again on "Falling Down," the dark and charging track that was offered on iTunes as an early download for buying the album. Ominous piano chords underpin the strong bass and guitar and the downer lyrics ("We live a dying's all that I've ever known"). Don't let it get you down too much though, as it's really good.

Like the Beatles, whose songwriting was dominated by Lennon and McCartney, the Gallagher brothers continue to outshine their bandmates' efforts. Guitarist Gem Archer offers up "To Be Where There's Life." That it has a bit of Middle Eastern flavor is interesting, but this is not as good as anything to preceded it. I like bassist Andy Bell's "The Nature of Reality" better. No surprise, the bass is really prominent here, giving it a swaggering stomp not unlike "High Horse Lady." Liam's other two songs are buried here near the end, although that's really fine. "Ain't Got Nothin'" is loud, but unremarkable. Better is closing track "Soldier On," which finds Liam's vocals so reverbed as to constitute a self duet.

Until now I've been a pretty casual Oasis fan (this is only my third album from them, after Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory), but this has really piqued my interest in exploring the band further. I'm happy to report that I like Dig Out Your Soul quite a bit.

Best: I'm Outta Time, The Shock of the Lightning, Falling Down, Bag It Up, The Turning, Waiting for the Rapture, The Nature of Reality

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 10/25/2008

1. Womanizer - Britney Spears

Who'd have thought a year ago this would be possible? The year 2007 saw Britney on a dizzying downward spiral, when the once respectable teen pop star had become tabloid fodder of the worst order--flashing her privates, shaving her head, busting up cars, etc. She turned in a bizarrely wooden MTV Music Video Awards performance. She released a dreadful album that produced only mildly interesting singles "Gimme More" and "Piece of Me." The album was called Blackout, a surprisingly honest assessment of the disaster her life had become.

Then an amazing thing happened--Britney cleaned up. She managed to stay out of the tabloids and appears to have taken herself seriously for a moment. Now we have the results: "Womanizer," Britney's first single from her upcoming sixth album Circus. The single is a power pop romp in the same vein as Rihanna's charging "S.O.S.," and gives Britney her first #1 hit since her first single "...Baby One More Time" topped the chart nearly 10 years ago. "Womanizer" also breaks the record set last week by T.I. and Rihanna as it leaps 95 spots from #96 to #1--now the biggest leap to #1 in the Hot 100's history. The single is Britney's 6th top 10 hit. Finally, Ms. Spears appears to be back in form. Check out the steamy (literally) video on YouTube.

2. Whatever You Like - T.I.
3. Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna

So T.I.'s not #1 this week, but he shows impressively at #2 and #3, garnering both the sales gainer (for "Whatever You Like") and airplay gainer (for "Live Your Life") awards.

5. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

Katy Perry slips into the top 5 this week. "Hot N Cold" is #3 at top 40 radio and looking likely to hit #1 there.

9. Miss Independent - Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent" climbs into the top 10 at #9 this week, giving him his 8th top 10 hit.

UK Singles Chart, 10/18/2008

1. So What - Pink

Pink holds onto the top spot on the UK singles chart for a second week. As "Lady Marmalade" and "Just Like a Pill" only held #1 for a week each, "So What" now becomes Pink's longest running UK #1.

3. Girls - Sugababes

Fully released now, the Sugababes' "Girls" manages to rise only one spot to land at #3. Like what happened to Oasis last week, this effectively ruins their run of having their album's first single reach #1, a feat achieved by their last four albums--Angels with Dirty Faces' "Freak Like Me," Three's "Hole in the Head," Taller in More Ways' "Push the Button," and Change's "About You Now."

5. Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs return to the chart with "Never Miss a Beat," the first single from their upcoming third album Off with Their Heads. This falls a bit short of last year's #1 placing of "Ruby," the first single from their last album, Yours Truly Angry Mob; however, at #5 it becomes their second highest charting single to date, just beating out the #6 peak of "Oh My God." Let's hope their new album's successive singles fare batter than those from Angry Mob--none of which (other than Ruby) charted higher than #19.

15. Take Back the City - Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol also returns with a new single, "Take Back the City," this week selling on downloads. Surely this will be in the top 10 next week--but will it be top 5?

16. The Shock of the Lightning - Oasis

Oasis takes a spectacular second week dive from #3 down to #16. Still, they did manage to hit #1 on the albums chart this week with Dig Out Your Soul--all 7 of their albums have hit #1.

Personal Chart, 10/18/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Girls - Sugababes (2 wks @ #1)
2 .... 3 .... So What - Pink
3 .... 6 .... Take Back the City - Snow Patrol
4 .... 5 .... Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs
5 .... 2 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (2 wks @ #1)
6 .... 8 .... Forgive Me - Leona Lewis
7 .... 9 .... The Promise - Girls Aloud
8 .... 4 .... Changes - Will Young (1 wk @ #1)
9 ... 10 ... Hold N Cold - Katy Perry
10 .. 12 .. The Shock of the Lightning - Oasis

I'm back

I just returned from a wonderful 6 days in London. I hadn't been since my visit as a student in 1998. It was a great week to be in London as the weather was rather decent for October, including a hot and sunny last Sunday. Here were the pop music highlights:

Pink topped the UK singles chart for a second week with "So What." I got to listen to the chart show via FM rather than Web stream, which was a nice change. I was hoping the Sugababes would've been #1 with "Girls." There were advertisements everywhere for their new album Catflights and Spotlights, and the reviews make it sound like it's pretty good. Despite having held out when it released, I finally picked up a copy of their last album, Change.

The Virgin Megastore chain is gone, replace with Zavvi, which is a poor substitute. I was particularly disappointed by the store at Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, which had been my favorite. When I asked where the singles where, the store clerk told me they'd stopped selling them just 10 days ago. Great. I did pick up Keane's new album, and it's fantastic. I popped over to HMV to get my singles (Leon Jackson, Boyzone, and Madcon).

Madonna announced her divorce from Guy Ritchie, which was big news in London. I have a knack for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to Madonna. I was in London when she met Guy Ritchie, and I was in Los Angeles (across the street in fact) when she gave birth to Rocco at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

It was fun to be in a bar that played both Sugababes and Girls Aloud while I was there (briefly, as it was not that great a bar). The bar was G-A-Y, which used to be the gay dance night at the London Astoria, but has now moved into its own space on Old Compton Street. I felt a bit old for it, to be honest. Better was the Ku Bar, which used to be on Charing Cross road in a box-like space but has moved to a better multi-level location down a side street in Soho.

Finally, I got to hear the first play of Take That's new single, "Greatest Day," on Radio 1. I'm hoping it's a grower.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Billboard Hot 100, 10/18/2008

The US singles chart is looking more like the UK singles chart this week, with lots of debuts in the upper half of the chart. Lots of exciting movement and milestones this week.

1. Live Your Life - T.I. Featuring Rihanna

First up is T.I. at #1 who is responsible for several notable chart feats this week. First, he scores the biggest leap to #1 in Hot 100 history, rising 79 spots from #80 to #1. Eventually someone will debut at #100 and move to #1, but until then artists keep chipping away at this record. The previous record holder was--drumroll--T.I. himself! He moved 71-1 with his previous #1 hit "Whatever You Like." That single was #1 last week for the 5th non-consecutive week, so T.I. actually replaces himself at #1. This is only the 10th time that's even happened. Interestingly, it's been much more common in the last 15 years, which accounts for all but 2 of the occurrences (which were notably Elvis Presley and The Beatles, full list on Wikipedia).

"Live Your Life" is the third #1 for T.I. and fifth #1 for Rihanna, who has already scored two #1 hits this year with "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia." Fred Bronson points out that Rihanna is also known for her big leaps to #1--all of her previous #1s rose from at least #34 or lower. Rihanna inches ahead of Beyonce and Mariah Carey to become the female artist with the most #1 hits this decade.

5. Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf Featuring Lil Wayne

Let It Rock climbs 10 spots to #5, becoming this week's sales gainer. This is Lil Wayne's 6th appearance in the top 10 this year.

7. Keeps Gettin' Better - Christina Aguilera.

Christina Aguilera leads the pack of Hot 100 debuts within the top 40 with "Keeps Gettin' Better," the single from her upcoming greatest hits collection. This is Aguilera's 8th top 10 hit. Her last was "Ain't No Other Man," which hit #6 in 2006.

10. Gotta Be Somebody - Nickelback

Also debuting in the top 10 is Nickelback with "Gotta Be Somebody," the first single from their upcoming album Dark Horse, which follows up their massively successful 2005 album All The Right Reasons. This is their 6th top 10 hit, there last being "Rock Star," which hit #6 late in 2007.

17. Light On - David Cook

American Idol winner David Cook debuts at #17 with "Light On." This is the first single from his forthcoming debut album, out this November.

32. Human - The Killers

The fourth debut within the top 40 is from The Killers. "Human" is the first single from their third album Day and Age. This is their third top 10 hit, following "Mr. Brightside," which hit #10, and "When You Were Young," which hit #14.

Personal Chart, 10/11/08

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 3 .... Girls - Sugababes (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 6 .... So What - Pink
4 .... 2 .... Changes - Will Young (1 wk @ #1)
5 .... 7 .... Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs
6 .... 8 .... Take Back This City - Snow Patrol
7 .... 5 .... Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
8 ... 13 ... Forgive Me - Leona Lewis
9 ... 16 ... The Promise - Girls Aloud
10 .. 12 .. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry

Wild Hot 100

Despite my vacation hiatus (which really doesn't start until tomorrow), if I can I'll post about the Hot 100 tonight. This week's chart is wild. At least one chart record was broken (biggest jump ever to #1). More later.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Beyonce's If I Were a Boy

Beyonce has unveiled "If I Were a Boy," the first single from her forthcoming third album, reportedly titled I Am... Check out the single at Myspace Music. I'm surprised it's a ballad, since her first two albums led with upbeat tracks. There's also a second track, an upbeat one, called "Single Ladies Put a Ring on It."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vacation Hiatus

I'm away on vacation next week, so except for my personal chart that will post Friday, don't expect anything new until next Friday. Cheers.

Boyzone returns

Following in the footsteps of All Saints, Take That, Spice Girls, and New Kids on the Block, Irish boyband Boyzone have reunited to tour and release an updated greatest hits collection. Boyzone was big in the late '90s, and while they never achieved the level of success of Take That or their successor group Westlife, they did hold their own, scoring six UK #1 hits. Their new single, "Love You Anyway," was a top 5 hit over the weekend, and it's pretty decent.

They had a #1 while I was in London, "All that I Need," their third #1 hit and a personal favorite.

Shortly thereafter they scored what would remain their biggest UK hit, "No Matter What," the fourth biggest selling single of 1998. It even cracked the US top 40 airplay chart.

Three of the band members have had some solo success on the charts. Mikey Graham had a #13 hit in 2000, "You're My Angel," and Stephen Gately had three top 40 hits, including #3 hit "New Beginning." Ronan Keating has been far and away the most successful though, scoring 15 top 40 hits including three #1s. He's had several good singles, including "Lovin' Each Day" and "Life Is a Rollercoaster," but my favorite has to be his first solo single, "When You Say Nothing At All," which was featured in the movie Notting Hill.

Britney's Womanizer

At first I didn't like this, but it's growing on me. She seems to be more into it than she was for "Gimme More." Blackout was the definition of a "phoned in" performance.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

UK Singles Chart, 10/11/2008

1. So What - Pink

Fall, the season of great chart battles, has definitely arrived. This was a very competitive week, seeing the release of new singles from Pink, Oasis and the return of Boyzone. In the end, Pink is triumphant, scoring her third UK #1, first since "Just Like a Pill," the third single from her second album Missundaztood, hit #1 in September 2002. "So What" is quickly proving to be another career high water mark for the 29 year-old singer, having hit #1 recently also in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It's from her forthcoming fifth album Funhouse, out at the end of the month.

3. The Shock of the Lightning - Oasis

Trailing behind at #3 is British rock band Oasis. During the '90s, they ruled Britain, more or less as heir-apparent to the Beatles, being heavily influenced by the Fab Four, while also honing their own modern sound as head of the Britpop pack. Tomorrow they put out their seventh album, Dig Out Your Soul, which is already garnering positive reviews about them maintaining their "comeback" momentum from 2005's Don't Believe the Truth. "The Shock of the Lightning" delivers a chart shock this week by not hitting #1, and in doing so, becomes the first time that a first single from an Oasis album (other than their very first before they made it big) is not a #1 hit. "Some Might Say," "D'You What I Mean," "Go Let It Out," "The Hindu Times," and "Lyla" all made it to the top.

4. Girls - Sugababes

The Sugababes climb four spots to #4, still selling on downloads in advance of this single's physical release tomorrow. It's a strong contender for #1 next week.

5. Love You Anyway - Boyzone

Following in the footsteps of the tremendously successful comeback of Take That from 2 years ago, Irish boyband Boyzone have now also reunited to give it a go. Theirs is modeled more off the Spice Girls comeback attempt of last year, the reunion being centered around a tour and greatest hits collection. Didn't Boyzone already release a greatest hits collection? Of course, and this collection offers very little new besides this new single recorded for the ocasion. The boys have certainly fared a lot better than the Spice Girls on the singles chart, landing at #5 to maintain their perfect striking record of having every one of their now 17 singles land in the top 5 (Spice Girls saw their perfect record of top 2 hits shattered when "Headlines" peaked at an embarassing #11). While they never quite achieved the level of success of Take That, or their own successors Westlife, they did score a respectable six #1 hits between 1996 and 1999.

14. Angel in the Night - Basshunter

Despite hovering in the 20s on pre-release downloads, the fully released "Angel in the Night" fails to catapult Basshunter into the top 10, making his third single to miss out on the honor.

20. Love Shy (Thinking About You) - Platnum

Dance act Platnum made a name for themselves earlier this year, when they were featured on H Two O's "What's It Gonna Be," which spent 3 weeks at #2 in March. Now they're back with their own single, selling this week on downloads, out in full next week.

39. Kids - MGMT

Finally, a quick mention of MGMT, who score their third UK top 40 with "Kids."

Next week Sugababes will challenge Pink for the top spot, while new singles from Kaiser Chiefs and Platnum hope to land in the top 10.

Album Review: TV on the Radio - Dear Science, (3.5/5)

I think I may be missing the boat on this one. While critics are raving about Dear Science, the third album from New York's TV on the Radio, I'm kind of ho-hum about it. Q Magazine gave it five stars--the only new album they've given that too so far this year--and Metacritic has it at 90. I'm not saying it's bad, but I don't see why it's the album of the year.

Opening track "Halfway Home" gets things off to a good start, layering varied percussion, guitar and synth sounds under the falsetto of lead singer Tunde Adebimpe. The song nicely ups its urgency when it breaks into an electric guitar bridge. "Crying" is less modern, more funky, and features a brass section of sax, trumpet and trombone amongst the keyboard programming. Upbeat "Dancing Choose" has a heavy electronic bass line, more funky horns, and a rap-like vocal delivery.

"Stork & Owl" is mellower and sparser, little more than electronic beats and a stringed orchestra. It's rather plodding though, and the poetic lyrics aren't enough to win me over. It's the own drawback of the first half of the album though. "Golden Age" is a good mix of electronic keyboards and acoustic brass and strings. "Family Tree" is a lovely standout--a tender ballad about a marriage proposal graced by strings and piano keyboards.

"Red Dress" draws a sharp contrast in an instant, profanely denouncing the war. The funky, upbeat track again adds a brass section over the active beats and electric guitar. Hearing the guitar here is particularly nice, as it generally gets buried (or is maybe absent?) in the layered sound mixes. Melancholic "Love Dog" brings back the electronic sounds, with horns and strings breaking through during the first chorus. This is a lovely song--one of the standouts of the second half.

"Shout Me Out" has a prominent, rapid-fire bass line, but is otherwise pretty laid back. I like the beat here and how it changes several times during the electric guitar bridge. Then there's "DLZ"--not sure what that stands for, but it's dark and one of the more electronic sounding songs. "Lover's Day," about an afternoon delight, is too busy for my liking, again throwing in a hefty mix of percussion, vibrating guitars, and brass instruments. ITunes bonus track "Dogs of Light" is worth noting. It's actually one of my favorites--a soulful, laid back ballad performed as a duet between Adebimpe and a female vocalist.

I'm not a devotee of this group. I bought their last album, Return to Cookie Mountain, because Spin named it the best album of 2006, but I didn't care for it. Critics have written that Dear Science is more accessible, and while I certainly like it better too, I'm not willing to shower it with accolades to the degree they are. It's kind of like a funkier Arcade Fire, another band that critics love that I'm not that into. Good, but not wonderful, in my opinion.

Best: Family Tree, Halfway Home, Dancing Choose, Golden Age, Love Dog, Dogs of Light

Friday, October 03, 2008

Personal Chart, 10/4/2008

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Disturbia - Rihanna (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Changes - Will Young (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... Girls - Sugababes
4 .... 7 .... Closer - Ne-Yo
5 .... 6 .... Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
6 .... 9 .... So What - Pink
7 ... 10 ... Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs
8 ... 19 ... Take Back the City - Snow Patrol
9 .... 8 .... One Step at a Time - Jordin Sparks
10 .. 3 .... The Man Who Can't Be Moved - The Script
11 ... 5 .... Forever - Chris Brown (3 wks @ #1)
12 .. 16 ... Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
13 .. 13 ... The Shock of the Lightning - Oasis
14 .. 14 ... Better in Time - Leona Lewis
15 .. 18 ... Miss Independent - Ne-Yo
16 .. 22 ... The Promise - Girls Aloud
17 .. 20 ... Forgive Me - Leona Lewis
18 .. 17 ... Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
19 .. 11 .... Viva la Vida - Coldplay (4 wks @ #1)
20 .. 28 ... In This City - Iglu & Hartly
21 .. 26 ... Crush - David Archuleta
22 NEW> You Make It Real - James Morrison
23 .. 37 ... Be the One - The Ting Tings
24 .. 32 ... Granite - Pendulum
25 .. 33 ... Paper Plane - M.I.A.
26 .. 36 ... Green Light - John Legend Featuring Andre 3000
27 .. 39 ... Love Lockdown - Kanye West
28 .. 12 ... Stepping Stone - Duffy
29 .. 30 ... Lies - McFly
30 .. 31 ... Angel - Natasha Bedingfield
31 .. 21 ... Magic - Robin Thicke
32 .. 24 ... I Kissed a Girl - Katy Perry (2 wks @ #1)
33 .. 34 ... It's Over - Jesse McCartney
34 NEW> Human - The Killers
35 .. 40 ... Lovers Are Losing - Keane
36 .. 23 ... Leavin' - Jesse McCartney
37 .. 15 ... Boyfriend - Alphabeat
38 NEW> Don't Believe in Love - Dido
39 .. 27 ... Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo) - Black Kids
40 NEW> Don't Call This Love - Leon Jackson

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Album Review: Will Young - Let It Go (4.5 / 5)

It's a sad truth that painful breakups are the fodder of great music, a point proven yet again by Will Young's fourth album, Let It Go, a brilliant exercise in retro soul-drenched modern pop that is at times uplifting, at time sad, and genuinely affecting. On the upbeat, frequently '70s-esque numbers Will is confident and assured, while on the acoustic guitar and string-laden ballads he is reflective, even sad. The highlights of the album encompass both styles, representing some of his best work yet.

On Let It Go, Young takes a big step forward in bringing his personal life into his work. While he co-wrote a handful of the tracks on each of his first three albums, here he co-writes all but two songs, and even those two seem like they're telling the same story. During the course of writing this album, Will Young broke up with his boyfriend Conor, and the strains of that story echo throughout most of the songs here--the desire to save a failing relationship, the pain of it ending, and finding the strength to move on.

The album opens with its first two singles, current single "Changes" and due-for-release "Grace." Both are good, particularly "Changes," which is propelled along with an assertive piano and synth brass. "Grace" isn't as upbeat, but has a similarly rich production of keyboards, strings, and electric guitar. While good, these tracks are pretty conventional pop compared to the more retro and soulful numbers that follow.

Upbeat "Won't Look Down" gets the full brass section of trombone, trumpet, saxophone and french horn, plus a undercurrent of strings. It's good, but even better tracks follow, like "I Won't Give Up," which has a slight disco feel courtesy of a mix by the Freemasons. Best of the retro pack though goes to "Love," that seamlessly transitions its brass opening through synthesizers to a "Billie Jean"-like synth bass line. Will Young gives Ne-Yo a run for his money in the "next Michael Jackson" race with this. He's also clearly also gunning for the "next George Michael" tag, and makes a good case. Sure they're both British, gay, and sing contemporary soul/pop, but like Michael, Young delivers his songs with conviction. He's maybe not quite as convincing as the former Wham! man, but he's getting closer.

He shines on many of the album's ballads. Often a sore spot for other performers, Will manages to hold my interest on most all of them, which reflect a refreshing variety of styles. "Tell Me the Worst" is pretty contemporary sounding--piano and strings enveloped in a synth-enriched production with soaring choruses and bridge. Acoustic "Let It Go" is better--an amazing beautiful song that opens softly with just Will and an acoustic guitar, with piano and strings coming in later, building appropriately at the end of the second verse. "I have never been afraid of being alone, It's somehow typical of being a man I know," muses Will. It's a statement of denial though, looking back on a broken relationship and deciding to "Let it go." This so deserves to be a single--I hope it's chosen over something more conventional.

My favorite slow song--favorite song period--on this album is "You Don't Know." It benefits from a crystal clear production that makes the sound of the acoustic guitar player's fingers sliding along the strings make that wonderful squeaky noise. Then there's the lush orchestra that sound like it was borrowed from some heartbreaking film. Will sounds great too, especially when he provides his own back up on the line "took my broken bones and put them back together." I think I'm going to cry now.

"Disconnected" is another highlight, a mellow reflection on the turning point where he realizes his relationship isn't working. "Love should be easier, it should be the time of our lives," he says, urging "we gotta talk baby boy, this can't go on." Baby boy? Was that a male pronoun? Yay! Finally, a gay pop artist who doesn't just address the object of his affection with the neutered "you." Imagine that. Wonder how long it will Clay Aiken to record such a song.

There's not a bad moment here. Slower "If Love Equals Nothing" has a warm production and a bit of a swagger. Lavish "Simple Philosophy" is good, although unremarkable next to better, similar songs. "Are You Happy" is another funky number with a strong brass section. Gentle closer "Free My Mind" is a nice reflective ending.

Let It Go is, in short, Will Young's best album yet, and while it may not score him a #1 hit, it will certainly please fans that have followed him and watched him grow since he released his first post (not mentioning the name of the show) single "Evergreen."

Best: You Don't Know, Love, Let It Go, Changes, Disconnected, I Won't Give Up, Tell Me The Worst, Won't Look Down, Grace

Billboard Hot 100, 10/11/2008

1. Whatever You Like - T.I.

T.I. leads a rather boring top 10 this week. He spends a fifth week at the top with "Whatever You Like." There's some shuffling, but no movement in or out of the top 10.

7. Can't Believe It - T-Pain Featuring Lil Wayne
14. Got Money - Lil Wayne Featuring T-Pain
15. Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolph Featuring Lil Wayne
22. Mrs. Officer - Lil Wayne Featuring Bobby Valentino and Kidd Kidd
24. My Life - The Game Featuring Lil Wayne
26. Swagga Like Us - Jay-Z & T.I. Featuring Lil Wayne & Kanye West

Lil Wayne has 6 of the top 40 singles this week, and last week, he actually had 7 ("A Milli" falls out of the top 40 this week). That's a pretty impressive haul.

36. Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson finally cracks into the top 40 this week with "Spotlight," becoming the 18th American Idol contestant to score a top 40 hit. Two other alums are curently in the top 40: David Archuleta at #20 and Jordin Sparks at #21. Hudson remains the only former Idol to have won an Oscar--a distinction I imagine she'll always enjoy.

Oasis on Myspace

MySpace Music is previewing the new Oasis album. Check it out here: I'll have to check it out later tonight--before the debate. MySpace Music seems like a pretty cool feature. Lots of full albums are available to listen to, and some part albums. I listened to most of Kanye West's Late Registration over the weekend. They also offer some free downloads.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October New Releases

October is a very promising month of new releases--perhaps the best of the year. Lots of albums coming out that I'm excited about.

October 6
Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul. Oasis's career has been a bit rollercoaster. Lately its been on the up though, so I'm hopeful this, their seventh album, will be really great. Last album, Don't Believe the Truth, gave us the great singles "Lyla," "The Importance of Being Idle," and "Let There Be Love," and this new album has already produced an upbeat first single, "The Shock of the Lightning" and the dark album cut currently offered by iTunes "Falling Down."

Peter Bjorn & John - Seaside Rock. Swedish Indie band that had a hit last year with "Young Folks" offers their fourth album.

Sarah McLachlan – Closer: The Best Of. Sarah McLachlan isn't a major star, but she did have her moment with her 1997 album Surfacing, which included "Adia" and "Angel," both of which are here in a sequentially sequenced album.

Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping.

October 13/14
Keane - Perfect Symmetry. They've been around since just 2004 and already Keane are poised to release their third album. They fell prey a bit to the dreaded sophomore slump for Under the Iron Sea--great album, but not as successful as the band's debut Hopes and Fears, the UK's second best-selling album of 2004. Known for their piano-backed guitarless pop/rock, the first singles from this album, "Spiralling" and "The Lovers Are Losing," already point to a new and exciting direction, heavy with synths and even featuring electric guitar.

Chris Cornell - Scream. Timbaland produced--no joke. First single "Long Gone" is, as expected, a bit reminiscent of OneRepublic's "Apologize" from last year. From Nelly Furtado, to Justin Timberlake, to Madonna, Timbaland is positively the hottest producer in popular music right now, if not this whole decade. Struggling has-beens everywhere are selling their souls to have him produce their next hit, although he doesn't seem to be as good at launching new artists (see Nicole Scherzinger).

Boyzone – Back Again... No Matter What: The Greatest Hits. Boyzone haven't had a hit in years, but since Backstreet Boys, Take That, and New Kids on the Block have reformed, it seems they didn't want to be left out. Sure, this includes new single "Love Me Anyway," but it excludes "So Good" and "Key to My Life." 1999's By Request did the job, and without more new material, this seems unnecessary.

October 20

Kaiser Chiefs - Off with Their Heads. Another band that had a bit of a sophomore slump (although they did hit #1 with "Ruby") is back for album number three. This time they've enlisted hot retro soul producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse) to steer their sound in a new direction. First single "Never Miss a Beat" is a great start. This just got pushed back a week.

Sugababes - Catfights and Spotlights. The 'babes stumbled a bit with their fifth album Change, which scored only one major hit (the #1 "About You Now") and became their first album not to have a fourth single. First single "Girls" is currently #2 on the UK airplay chart, and looks set to enter the top 10 on downloads this week. Buzz is that they turned things around after the disappointment of Change.

High School Musical 3 Soundtrack (10/20) With the Disney gang hitting the big screen for outing #3, this is sure to be one of the best-sellers of the year, considering that HSM1 was the best-selling album in the US for 2006 and HSM2 was #2 for 2007.

October 27

Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns. Until 2004, Snow Patrol were a little-known band. Then their third album Final Straw produced a major UK hit, "Run," and then their fourth album Eyes Open, which was the best-selling album in the UK in 2006, produced an even bigger international smash, "Chasing Cars." The album's first single, "Take Back the City," gets its UK radio premiere next week.

Pink - Funhouse. Pink is back with her fifth album. It's first single "So What" finds the singer in her usual punkish pop/rock vein, and already it's a massive hit, debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and the Australian ARIA chart this week. Max Martin, who helmed her last album's two major hits "U + UR Hand" and "Who Knew" produces the track.

John Legend - Evolver. Soulful R&B singer John Legend puts out his third album. Excellent first single "Green Light" finds him teamed with Outkast's Andre 3000, exploring a more modern sound than we've heard from him before. John Legend has been a critics' favorite, but not a mainstream success. "Green Light" could turn that around.

Bloc Party - Intimacy. The British indie band offers their third album. Already available as a download, the CD gets its release in late October with a few bonus tracks. First track "Mercury" sounds a lot like their previous stuff. Reviews are good, but not great.

Celine Dion - My Love: Essential Collection. Celine Dion releases her greatest hits collection, featuring first single "My Love," a slight reworking of the Taking Chances track. North America and Europe get different tracklists--The North American version is mostly chronologically sequenced, which is nice and includes "Where Does My Heart Beat Now," which wasn't on her 1999 hits release. 2 CD versions appear to be pretty comprehensive.

Anastacia - Heavy Rotation. Anastacia had great singles "Left Outside Alone" and "Sick and Tired" in 2004, so it's a bit puzzling why she's waited so long to release a follow-up. First single is "I Can Feel You," which I haven't heard yet.