Sunday, May 31, 2009

June New Releases

May turned out to be a pretty good month for new music, particularly with Green Day and Passion Pit. I still haven't found a 5-star album yet this year. Will any of these be the first?

Key Releases

Little Boots - Hands (June 8)
Expectations are high for the debut album from Little Boots, the British singer otherwise known as Victoria Hesketh who won the BBC Sounds of 2009 poll, making her one of the hottest new acts of the year. I've been buzzing about her for months now, ever since I discovered her early release tracks "Stuck on Repeat" and "Meddle." "New in Town" is the first official single from the upcoming album, which also includes those older tracks. Despite being a largely unknown quantity, Boots snagged Greg Kurstin for production duties, who's worked with many notable female artist of late, including producing Lily Allen's best-selling sophomore album.

La Roux - La Roux (June 29)
Speaking of hot new artists for 2009, here's another, English electro act La Roux. The group scored a massive hit with its recent single "In for the Kill," which hit #2 on the UK singles chart and stayed there for 4 weeks. This, the band's debut, also features advance single "Quicksand" and upcoming release "Bulletproof."

Wilco - Wilco (June 29/30)
I loved Wilco's last album, Sky Blue Sky. This, their seventh album, includes a duet with Canadian singer Feist, "You and I." While the title of this album is eponymous, it's also named after the first track, "Wilco (The Song)." I haven't heard anything from it yet.

Daniel Merriweather - Love & War (June 1)
Australian singer Daniel Merriweather, who first got our attention in 2007 when he appeared as featured singer on Mark Ronson's "Stop Me," releases his album Love & War. It includes the top 10 hit "Change" (feat. Wale), current single "Red," and a duet with one of last year's big breakouts, British singer Adele.

Black Eyed Peas - The E.N.D. (June 8/9)
"The E.N.D." stands for "The Energy Never Dies," so I guess this isn't a breakup album in the wake of Fergie and Will.I.Am's success away from the group. Far from it, as the band is hotter than ever, having scored an international smash with this album's first single "Boom Boom Pow." EW reported that "I Gotta Feeling" is even bolder.

Other releases

Paolo Nutini - Sunny Side Up. Scottish singer/songwriter releases his second album (June 1)

Patrick Wolf - The Bachelor. (June 1)

Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. Dave Matthews Band releases their seventh album, first in four years. (June 1/2)

Eels - Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire. The Eels put out their seventh album, a concept work about desire. (June 1/2)

Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (June 8)

Just Jack - All Night Cinema. Third album from Just Jack, which features recent single "Embers." (June 8)

The Jonas Brothers - Lines, Vines and Trying Times. The Disney boys release their fourth album; first single "Paranoid" is climbing the charts fast. (June 15/16)

The Mars Volta - Octahedron. (June 23)

Third Eye Blind - Ursa Major. There was a time Third Eye Blind was massive, but not so much anymore. This is the band's fourth album. (June 23)

Moby - Wait for Me. Moby's ninth album, following last year's Last Night. (June 29)

Rob Thomas - Cradlesong. The Matchbox Twenty frontman releases his second solo album, featuring current single "Her Diamonds." (June 30)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Album review: Daniel Merriweather - Love and War (3/5)

Australian singer Daniel Merriweather's breakthrough album manages to hit a lot of the right notes. Produced by Mark Ronson, who became a superstar producer thanks to his work in reviving '60s sounds and combining them with hip-hop elements, has taken Merriweather under his wing, first featuring him on 2007 single "Stop Me," and now producing this album. His signature sound is a good match for Merriweather, whose debut is, while uneven, mostly winning.

New York is the setting for opening track "For the Money," which begins strong without fanfare, just piano and Merriweather's soulful croon. Laced with strings and drums and backed by a choir of voices, the youthful Merriweather comes across as wise beyond his years in this winning layered piece. My only quibble with this track is the ending, which goes on too long through too many key changes, coming off as needlessly protracted and showy rather than skillful.

The album's other two best moments have already been singles. Two-tapping, piano pop number "Change" was a good re-introduction to Merriweather on his own earlier this year. Even better is "Red," a truly divine pop song that exudes a satisfying blend of restraint and soulful release as it tells its story of a relationship on the rocks. Soft guitar and strings underpin the opening verse, although the strings come forward in the chorus before the drums kick in for verse two. Merriweather harmonizes pleasantly with his backing vocalists. It more than deserves its current position in the UK Top 5--it should be #1. Also good is bluesy "Cigarettes," which sounds like it should be sung in a smoky bar while sitting at a big out-of-tune grand piano.

As he did for Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson has once again worked his magic to pull together the old and the new to make "modern soul." At times his influences are really obvious. "Impossible" owes and obvious debt to late '60s songs and "Could You" is a cookie-cutter imitation of The Mamas and the Papas "California Dreamin'." Elsewhere, the songs are fine, but there's not a lot that distinguishes itself from the pack. "Chainsaw" is very Motown-sounding and "Getting Out" sounds like the mid '70s, but don't offer much other than their mimickry of those periods. Adele shows up on "Water and a Flame," but otherwise it lacks a needed punch.

Love and War doesn't come close to approaching the quality of other Ronson productions, like Amy Winehouse's divine 2006 album Back to Black, but he's a good match for Merriweather, who finds his voice on the few strong highlights here.

Best: Red, Change, For the Money

Best of 2000s: Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (4.5/5)

Franz Ferdinand was so cool in 2004 they had a T-shirt that everyone had to have (including me). The were certainly the coolest band to come along since The Strokes--bursting forth with post punk attitude and tight little melodies that were a little less raw around the edges and more dance party-esque. "Jacqueline" opens like a quiet piece of folk with just Alex Kapranos vocal and an acoustic guitar before the bass, drums and electric guitar take over. This, like many of their songs has a memorable lyrical refrain ("it's always better on holiday, that's why we only work when we need the money") and an upbeat bass-driven tempo. Same goes for swaggering "Take Me Out" ("I know I won't be leaving here with you"), still their most memorable single. Besides the tight melodies, the album is a lot of fun, whether its exploring opposite-sex come ones ("Tell Her Tonight"), same-sex come ons ("Michael") or sex in the cinema ("The Dark of the Matinee") with...whoever. After a wild romp like this, who really cares.

Best: Take Me Out, The Dark of the Matinee, This Fire, Jacqueline, Tell Her Tonight, Michael, Darts of Pleasure

Friday, May 29, 2009

Personal Chart, 5/30/2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas (2 wks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Halo - Beyonce (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
4 .... 4 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (5 wks @ #1)
5 .... 7 .... Number 1 - Tinchy Stryder feat. N-Dubz
6 ... 15 ... Red - Daniel Merriweather
7 ... 14 ... New in Town - Little Boots
8 .... 6 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
9 ... 12 ... I Do Not Hook Up - Kelly Clarkson
10 .. 10 .. Please Don't Leave Me - Pink

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, June 6, 2009

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

It's an American Idol week on the Hot 100 this week, but Black Eyed Peas shows no sign of relinquishing the #1 spot, spending an 8th week there and earning the sales gainer award this week to boot. With no obvious competition in the top 10, I expect it's here to stay for some time. This is the longest stay at #10 since Flo Rida's "Low" spent 10 weeks at the top in the beginning of 2008.

4. Don't Stop Believin' - Glee Cast

I missed the debut of Glee (it conflicted with the 90210 season finale), but I heard it was pretty good, and figured Fox would repeat it. The show followed the American Idol performance show last week, so it's no surprise that the show's cast's remake of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" lands in the top 10 this week. Expect it to vanish the next week. I hear they're going to make it a habit of releasing songs from the show once it's season begins in the fall.

6. New Divide - Linkin Park

Linkin Park makes a rather impressive top 10 debut with "New Divide," their single from the upcoming Transformers film. This is actually the second-highest a Linkin Park single has ever reached, behind the #2 peak of the band's biggest hit, "In the End."

8. Halo - Beyonce

"Halo" has slipped now for a second week. It's top 40 airplay has been really strong--it's currently the most likely contender to succeed Black Eyed Peas at #1 there. I'm surprised it's falling off on the Hot 100 right now.

10. Waking Up in Vegas - Katy Perry

Katy Perry lands her third top 10 hit with "Waking Up in Vegas," following her #1 hit "I Kissed a Girl" and #3 hit "Hot N Cold."

11. No Boundaries - Kris Allen
16. Heartless - Kris Allen

American Idol winner Kris Allen scores his victory lap with "No Boundaries," his first hit single. Time will tell if this becomes an enduring hit, but as a start, it's the second-worst debut for an American Idol winner. Here's how he matches up against the other AI winners' first singles:

1. Kelly Clarkson - A Moment Like This, #1
2. Ruben Studdard - Flying without Wings, #2
3. Fantasia - I Believe, #1
4. Carrie Underwood - Inside Your Heaven, #1
5. Taylor Hicks - Do I Make You Proud, #1
6. Jordin Sparks - This Is My Now, #15
7. David Cook - The Time of My Life, #3

Allen is also #16 with his version of Kanye West's "Heartless," which he performed on the show.

19. Mad World - Adam Lambert

Also scoring his top 40 debut this week is Adam Lambert, the American Idol runner-up, with his studio recording of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," a song he performed on the show. Brits will instantly recognize this song--a haunting remake by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules was Christmas #1 in 2003. Lambert's version definitely adheres closer to the Gary Jules remake than the Tears for Fears original. Not a bad thing.

20. Kiss a Girl - Keith Urban

Australian country singer and Nicole Kidman spouse slides up 31 spots to #20 with "Kiss a Girl," the second single from his latest album, Defying Gravity. This also has an American Idol connection--Urban performed it live on the show with Kris Allen.

24. Permanent - David Cook

More AI. David Cook, last year's winner, performed his new single "Permanent" on the AI finale, and thus it becomes his sixth top 40 hit. This is actually not a bad song. It's a dark piano ballad. Reminds me of what Brian McFadden's "Demons."

32. I Do Not Hook Up - Kelly Clarkson

It only peaked at #23, but "I Do Not Hook Up" seems to have cooled off really fast. I noticed its top 40 airplay flagging earlier this week, but it seems to have recovered. I'm surprised this wasn't a bigger hit.

37. Ain't No Sunshine - Kris Allen

Him again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

L.A. Times goes Bonkers

Pop & Hiss, The Los Angeles Times' music blog has an item today about Dizzee Rascal and Armand Van Helden's "Bonkers." The article muses about whether this will be a hit in the U.S., given that dance pop is making a comeback with hits from Lady GaGa, Black Eyed Peas, etc.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Preview Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest

MySpace is streaming Grizzly Bear's new album, Veckatimest. I'm listening to first track "Southern Point" right now, which has a cinematic sweep to it. "Two Weeks" is more conventional. Both are quite lovely.

Album Review: Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (4.5/5)

In the wake of expectations raised by the massive critical and commercial success of American Idiot, Green Day ducked the pressure last year by coyly releasing a fun garage rock album under the name Foxboro Hottubs. That release valve may have been just the ticket for the band, for 21st Century Breakdown finds them back in full-on epic, rock opera mode having created an album that is no less an equal to its predecessor. In fact, in some ways, Breakdown surpasses American Idiot--its narrative works better this time, while still not sacrificing the music, and the music is broader too, incorporating a wider variety of styles. Although it isn't yet clear whether the album will generate a hit on par with "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," there's certainly a lot to like--and a lot to choose from over the course of 18 tracks.

Let's start with the story. This time our heroes are Christian and Gloria, a young couple struggling in modern-day America, railing against the various structures that get them down (politics, religion, corporate America, etc.). Ultimately though, this story leads not to failure (as American Idiot did), but to hope. The theme of closing track "See the Light" seems to be that while we can't change the past, it's never too late to change in general. As a narrative, this one is much looser, which frankly makes it easier to swallow, for it did get rather confusing keeping track of American Idiot's Jesus of Suburbia and St. Jimmy and whether or not they were the same person. Perhaps conscious of how Breakdown might play out as an actual opera (a possibility, given that American Idiot is currently being given the stage treatment), the album is structured in three acts.

The crackling radio effect of "Song of the Century" is the brief introduction before Heroes and Cons, the first act. It opens dramatically with the strong title track, a buoyantly upbeat rant that establishes the background of our first character, Christian, a member of "generation zero" who "never made it as a working class hero." The piano chords and distant-but-approaching guitar opening evoke U2, before slamming into the first segment of the song. About halfway through, it shifts gears, amping up the guitars into punkier and faster territory. Then in the last minute, the song shifts again, slowing the tempo with sustained guitar flourishes. The multi-movement track evokes Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" more than the multi-part songs on American Idiot, for rather than stretching on for nine minutes, it's over in five and holds together without sounding disjointed. It's followed by the comparatively simple, but enjoyable first single "Know Your Enemy," a call to arms for the protest-minded.

"¡Viva La Gloria!" introduces Gloria, beginning sweetly with piano and strings before switching into rock mode. Meditative "Before the Lobotomy" takes longer to makes its switch, but is similarly structured with a quiet first third followed by the hard-hitting middle section, and then a final also hard-hitting section that picks up the melody from the first. It reminds me of American Idiot's "Wake Me Up When September Ends," which similarly, and also effectively, channeled the same melody through different arrangements. The overlapping acoustic guitars come through crystal clear, thanks to the crisp, clean Bruce Vig production (Nirvana's Nevermind). Those who like their punk rock rough around the edges be warned: 21st Century Breakdown is recorded and processed to perfection. Both of these songs are also highlights, particularly the lovely "Before the Lobotomy," told from Gloria's point of view.

"Christian's Inferno" is an angry punk rant; it's probably the least interesting song so far, but it's followed by the piano-based love ballad "Last Night on Earth." I'm gonna go out on a limb (and probably get in trouble for it), but I believe these two songs are related and meant to show the contrasting temperaments of these characters. Both songs include fire references, presumably to represent the struggles they face, however in "Christian's Inferno" (the Christian song) he responds with anger, while in "Last Night on Earth" (assuming it's from Gloria's POV), she reacts by finding a glimmer of hope in knowing that she still has Christian. Aww.

Another radio effect announces the beginning of Act II, Charlatans and Saints, which kicks off with "East Jesus Nowhere," a good old-fashioned guitar rocker with a march-like snare beat. It takes its aim against organized religion. Next up is "Peacemaker," which is very cool song. It's upbeat and fast with a delicious Latin guitar and strings flavor. "The Last of the American Girls" is a bit of a break from these hard-hitting songs, a breezier pop affair that sounds like a nice summer rocker. However, its lyrics still remind us of the album's dark themes ("she wears her overcoat for the coming of the nuclear winter"). Warm melody, chilly lyrics.

"Murder City" is a tight little guitar rocker in the punk indie vein. "¿Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)" starts with a jaunty yet foreboding piano melody, retaining its dark feel once it shifts to guitar rock mode. It also has a bit of a Latin vibe to it. "Restless Heart Syndrome" is another piano and strings ballad, but this time the band sounds remarkably like Oasis. Clearly, this album doesn't hide its varied influences.

Act III, Horseshoes and Handgrenades, begins without the radio interlude jumping right into the song of the same name, another angry punk track with a repetitive guitar chord progression. "The Static Age" is lighter, radio-friendly pop rock. At this point, the album does seem to be dragging a bit, showing its over 70-minute running length. Thankfully, there's a big finish ahead though. "21 Guns" is the epic put-down-your-guns rocker I'd hoped would be here, the closest thing to a "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." That crackling radio song returns to kick off "American Eulogy," a rollicking two-part summation of the album's themes--"Mass Hysteria" followed by "Modern World." "See the Light" closes the whole package with a final note of uplift.

Green Day's new album is certainly ambitious--an 18-track concept album, multiple concepts really--a 3-part rock opera, a modern political rant, a journey through 4 decades of musical styles, even a love story. With all that thrown in, it can't help but be a little bloated, but the fact that there's so many good songs here makes it worthwhile.

Best: 21st Century Breakdown, Before the Lobotomy, 21 Guns, Peacemaker, Know Your Enemy, Viva la Gloria, Last of the American Girls, Last Night on Earth, Murder City

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Preview Daniel Merriweather's Love and War

Daniel Merriweather's album, Love and War, can be heard in full on MySpace. What do you think? I'm interested, but not overwhelmed from what I've heard (apart from the singles "Red" and "Change," which I think are fantastic).

UK Singles Chart, May 30, 2009

1. Bonkers - Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden

There's a big brand new #1 hit in the UK this week as "Bonkers" debuts at #1. It cleared more than 100,000 units (114,000 according to my source), making it the biggest 1-week sales figure so far this year and the first #1 hit to clear 100K since Alexandra Burke's "Hallelujah" was #1 the first week of the year. This is British rapper Dizzee Rascal's second major dance collaboration. Last summer he teamed up with Calvin Harris and scored a big #1 hit with "Dance Wiv Me." Now he's teamed up with American DJ Armand Van Helden to shape his second major hit. Rascal's had only one top 10 hit prior to these collaborations--2004's "Stand Up All," which hit #10. Van Helden is well known to UK audiences. He made his splash in 1997 having remixed Tori Amos' "Professional Widow," which was a UK #1. He hit #1 again 2 years later under his own name with "You Don't Know Me." Conventional wisdom says that "Bonkers" is here to stay at #1 for some time, so expect a long ride for this one.

5. Red - Daniel Merriweather

Daniel Merriweather scores an impressive top 5 debut with "Red," the second single from his forthcoming album Love and War, out June 1. "Red" follows "Change," which hit #8 earlier this year. Nice to see an artist's chart prospects increase with a subsequent release, building the buzz for the album, which I'm hoping will be really good. This is Merriweather's fourth UK top 40 hit. He also hit #2 with Mark Ronson on "Stop Me" and #18 with Wiley on "Cash in My Pocket."

8. Kiss Me Thru the Phone - Soulja Boy feat. Sammie

Soulja Boy jumps eight spots to #8, landing his second UK top 10 hit. "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" hit #3 in the US a couple months ago. The track is produced by Jim Jonsin, who also produced "Whatever You Like" for T.I., "Lollipop" for Lil Wayne, and a couple of tracks on Beyonce's latest album.

10. Fairytale - Alexander Rybak

Congratulations go to Norway and their Alexander Rybak for winning this year's Eurovision contest. The winning entry, "Fairytale" debuts in the top 10 this week. This is the first Eurovision winner to land in the UK top 40 since the 2006 winner, Lordi from Finland hit #25 with "Hard Rock Hallelujah." It's been 12 years though since a Eurovision winner has been a UK top 10 hit. Back in 1997, it was, in fact Britain which won Eurovision with Katrina and the Waves' "Love Shine a Light." The single peaked at #3.

19. Candy - Paolo Nutini

Scottish singer Paolo Nutini returns to the top 40 this week with "Candy," the first single from his second album. The singer's debut, "Last Request," hit #5 in 2006. He followed it with a string of top 40 hits, although all charted in the twenties.

21. In the Heat of the Night - Star Pilots

Swedish dance act Star Pilots debut at #21 with "In the Heat of the Night." It's a shamelessly '80s-styled single, one of those songs that sounds so '80s you'd swear it had been a hit then, but it's actually a new song that's just cleverly produced to make it sound like an oldie. I actually rather like this song--I wish it had charted higher.

27. It's My Time - Jade Ewen

Here's the UK's Eurovision entry, which placed 5th in the contest. Frankly, it's not spectacular. Better luck next year.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Best of 2000s: Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters (5/5)

Just when you think pop music has become as sanitized and corporatized as possible, along comes an act like Scissor Sisters to stir things up and remind us just how much fun a big dose of high camp can be when laid out on such a winning set of melodic, '70s and '80s-loving pop songs. Scissor Sisters became the biggest selling album of 2004 in the UK and for good reason--it's perhaps the most purely fun album of the decade. "Take Your Mama" sings of the joys of taking your mom out with him for a evening of gay nightlife sounding like an updated take on Elton John, while "Comfortably Numb" remakes Pink Floyd for the dance floor. While great campy songs like "Filthy/Gorgeous," "Tits on the Radio" and Wham!-like "Lovers in the Backseat" are delivered with a wink and a nod, the band proves it can engender genuine emotion too on the emotional ballad "Mary." While all the members of the band have something to offer, credit is owed in particular to frontman Jake Spears and his songwriting partner Babydaddy, who went on to prove their production chops for lending a hand to Kylie's hit "I Believe in You."

Best: Take Your Mama, Laura, Comfortably Numb, Filthy/Gorgeous, Mary, The Music is the Victim, It Can't Come Quickly Enough

Friday, May 22, 2009

Personal Chart, May 23, 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 4 .... Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Halo - Beyonce (2 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
4 .... 2 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (5 wks @ #1)
5 .... 5 .... I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris
6 .... 6 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
7 ... 10 ... Number 1 - Tinchy Stryder Feat. N-Dubz
8 .... 8 .... How Do You Sleep? - Jesse McCartney
9 .... 9 .... Magnificent - U2
10 .. 12 ... Please Don't Leave Me - Pink

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Mariah Carey and Usher albums on the way

Billboard is reporting that both Mariah Carey and Usher have new albums planned for fall, both of which announced their titles today (Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and Monster respectively). This is an interesting choice for both artists, who seem to be on parallel tracks these days. Both released albums last spring (E=MC2 and Here I Stand) that both had one big hit ("Touch My Body" and "Love in This Club") and failed to generate any significantly popular follow-up singles. Both albums were years in the making following massive hit albums (The Emancipation of Mimi and Confessions) that were both Grammy Album of the Year nominees (and Grammy Contemporary R&B Album winners) that scored multiple #1 hits ("We Belong Together" and "Don't Forget About Us" for her; "Yeah!," "Burn," "Confessions," and "My Boo" for him--with the last #1 hit in both cases being available only on subsequent special edition re-releases) as well as Grammy Record of the Year nominees ("We Belong Together" and "Yeah!").

Clearly they need to record a duet.

Billboard Hot 100, May 30, 2009

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas reign supreme for a 7th week, making "Boom Boom Pow" now the longest-running #1 hit so far this year. The single caps a rather busy chart this week (although most of the excitement is outside the top 10).

4. I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) - Pitbull

Cuban-American rapper Pitbull makes a big jump into the top 10, climbing 7 spots to #4 with his latest release. "I Know You Want Me" is by far his biggest hit; although it's his 4th top 40 hit, his previous high-water mark was the #30 peak of his last single, "Krazy."

6. Halo - Beyonce

Halo slides a notch to #6 but still has a bullet. Hopefully it will be up next week.

9. Birthday Sex - Jeremih

Jeremih enters the top 10 with "Birthday Sex," a truly dreadful song.

13. Waking Up in Vegas - Katy Perry

Wow! What a rise. "Thinking of You" may have been a minor flop when it peaked at #29, but "Waking Up in Vegas" clearly shows that Ms. Perry is not ready to call it quits yet. The single makes an impressive 38-spot leap to #13, scoring this week's sales gainer. Of course, American Idol has a hand in this--the singer appeared on the show last week. When it comes to influence on the singles chart, American Idol is matched perhaps only by Apple (and maybe Disney).

14. Knock You Down - Keri Hilson Featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo

Right behind Katy at #14 is Keri, Miss Hilson that is, with this week's sales gainer, up three spots to #14.

17. Beautiful - Eminem

The last of the promos leading up to this week's release of Eminem's Relapse makes a rather impressive debut at #17, the highest of the three non-single promos. I could actually see this as a future single proper. The promo thing seems to be the latest trend--Taylor Swift certainly used it effectively, and I hear Black Eyed Peas are going to do it too for The E.N.D.

18. Fire Burning - Sean Kingston

Sean Kingston climbs 11 spots to #18 with "Fire Burning," the biggest move within the top 40 this week. This is his fifth top 20 hit.

23. I Do Not Hook Up - Kelly Clarkson

After dipping a bit last week, Kelly Clarkson is back up three this week to #23.

27. Lovegame - Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa scores her third top 40 hit this week as her latest single, "Lovegame," jumps 34 spots to #27. Her previous two hits--both #1s--are also still in the top 40, with "Poker Face" at #2 and "Just Dance" at #21.

28. Know Your Enemy - Green Day

Green Day makes a nice 13-spot rise to #28, coinciding with the release last Friday of 21st Century Breakdown.

32. Battlefield - Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks returns with the first single from her upcoming second album. "Battlefield" debuts at #32, becoming her fifth top 40 hit. The single is produced by Ryan Tedder, one of the current masters of pop music, who's brought us hits like Beyonce's "Halo," Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" as well as his band One Republic's "Apologize" and "Stop and Stare." While many of those songs have been criticized for sounding too similar, "Battlefield" actually does not, which is a nice change. Battlefield the album is due July 14.

35. Heartless - Kanye West

Kanye West's "Heartless" gets a reprieve, climbing 10 spots back into the top 40 this week. Again, it's the American Idol power at work--Kris Allen performed this on the show last week.

37. Paranoid - Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers debut at #37 with "Paranoid," the first single from their upcoming fourth album. This is the group's 9th top 40 hit.

40. Please Don't Leave Me - Pink

Finally, Pink scores her 14th top 40 hit with "Please Don't Leave Me," the third single from Funhouse and follow-up to #15 hit "Sober."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Passion Pit - Manners

This morning I bought Passion Pit's current single "The Reeling" and after listening to it several times today (and loving it), I was convinced by the time I got home to buy the whole album, Manners. To my great delight, is selling it for $3 (!), so how could I really refuse?

Check out The Reeling:

Carole King - Tapestry (1971)

Last night I listened to Carole King's Tapestry, inspired by the book I'm currently reading (Lee Martin's The Bright Forever), in which the album plays a minor role in a major plot point: A 9-year old girl sneaks into her older brother's room and listens to his Carole King album, leaving a scratch on the album's hit track "It's Too Late" (he finds out, gets his revenge by telling his parents she hasn't returned her overdue library books, she then leaves to do so and never returns). I've heard about this album before--it won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1972 and "It's Too Late" won Record of the Year. It's really quite good, particularly the opening tracks, the jaunty "I Feel the Earth Move," piano ballad "So Far Away," and jazz-influenced "It's Too Late." Tapestry, I've read, was quite influential in defining a new generation of female singer-songwriters (Carly Simon comes to mind, who broke out big the year after Tapestry with her No Secrets and major hit "You're So Vain"). Worth a listen if you're interested in an oldie but goodie.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

UK Singles Chart, 5/23/2009

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

The parallelism between the UK and US charts continues this week as Black Eyed Peas debut at #1 in the UK with "Boom Boom Pow," now the fifth single so far this year to be #1 on both the UK Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100. When "Poker Face" topped the Hot 100 I did a little analysis of how many singles by year had been #1 in both countries. Now that there's been 5 this year (Lady Gaga, Flo Rida, Kelly Clarkson, Lady GaGa again and BEP), 2009 has had the most trans-Atlantic chart-toppers of any year this decade. And its still only May, so there must be others to come. Although "Boom Boom Pow" was the Peas' first US #1, its their second UK chart topper, following 2003's massive massive hit "Where Is The Love," which was 2003's biggest hit. All together, this is their 9th top 10 hit. That's not counting Will.I.Am's eight top 40 hits or Fergie's three.

4. We Made You - Eminem

Eminem's new album Relapse is out tomorrow, but until then fans have been snatching up his latest single "We Made You," with climbs to #4 this week, the peak position of his last single, "Crack a Bottle," also from said forthcoming release. In all Eminem's now had 15 UK top 10 hits (not including the one with his band D12), 7 of which were #1s.

5. Not Fair - Lily Allen

Lily Allen's album is still selling well (it's #2 this week behind Green Day, which of course wasn't available until Friday), so consequently it seems "Not Fair" isn't destined to follow "The Fear" to #1. Still, a second top 5 hit ain't bad these days, when more often it seems follow-up singles are just tanking. It outranks "LDN," the second single from her first album, by one notch (it peaked at #6).

9. Warrior's Dance - The Prodigy

And it's a second top 10 hit for The Prodigy off their latest album, Invaders Must Die. Hmmm...what was I saying about follow-up singles not doing so well? This is only the band's third top 10 hit this decade.

13. Let's Get Excited - Alesha Dixon

Apparently her sentiment didn't reach her fans, who aren't excited enough to make this a top 10 hit. #13 is probably as high as it will go.

16. Kiss Me Thru the Phone - Soulja Boy Tell 'Em

Soulja Boy climbs 14 spots to #16. This is out on CD tomorrow, so I expect it to go top 10 next week. Soulja Boy hit #2 in 2007 with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)."

??? Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
??? Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon

Wait...where are the Kings of Leon singles? I checked the chart and yes, for the first time in like forever, there are no Kings of Leon singles in the top 40 this week. Amazing.

Album review: Eminem - Relapse (1/5)

I know Eminem is an important musical force, and the critics seem to be praising Relapse as a return to form, following his drug- and depression-fueled 5-year "break." But I'm not just not buying it, for how many times do I have to listen to lines like "I'll pee on Rihanna" (from "Medicine Ball") for me to believe it's cleverly funny rather than inane? And that's one of the tamest lines from this work, which intentionally pushes every button imaginable, exploring truly depraved subjects.

No matter how well crafted the beats and lyrical turns, the content is truly disturbing whether exploring the hatred for a mentally abusive mother ("My Mom"), sexually abusive stepfather ("Insane"), or other celebrities ("Same Song and Dance"), all of which also reveals a kind of self hatred, as Eminem admits he's turned into his mother, and of course, he can't escape criticism of celebrity, being one himself. "Same Song and Dance" is particular twisted, where Eminem fancies himself as a stalker-killer going after a young actress.

There's also a deep misogyny at work here, and that's a real turn off. Rap frequently objectifies women, but on Relapse Eminem's turned the effort into an exercise in sheer degradation, violently dispatching women (often by name) like a bad Friday the 13th. One positive thing I can say about this is that there are few references to his daughter Hailie, which is a good thing, considering how loaded this album is with references to drug abuse, murder and sexual degradation (she shows up on "Deja Vu," but that was about it I think).

With all the smut and anger on display here, there's little, if anything that's joyous. Em's always tried to get a rise out of us, but he also served up some good times like "The Real Slim Shady" and "Without Me." "We Made You" comes closest, since, while trashing a parade of famous women from Jessica Simpson to Kim Kardashian to Sarah Palin, is at least not about murdering them. Ne-Yo's Year of the Gentleman this is not.

Much of Relapse serves to reinforce how insular Eminem's world is, but at least he's still aware of what he's doing. Eminem's skit "Paul," where an acquaintance calls Eminem up and tells him that this album is too offensive to get behind shows at least that he's aware that this album's mockery of Christopher Reeve and endless references to rape are offensive. So what's the point then? Isn't it easy to be offensive? Isn't it harder to be original and revealing? If Eminem does have something to say here, its too buried by horror-porn to be evident.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Best of 2000s: Air - Talkie Walkie (4.5/5)

I picked up Air's Talkie Walkie in early 2004 during a time when I decided I needed to branch out and try different kinds of music, so I turned to electronic pop (it was during this time I also discovered Goldfrapp). Air can be hit or miss--their most recent album, Pocket Symphony, was a disappointment--but on Talkie Walkie they create a fantastic set of thoroughly modern but accessible electronic pop. Sonically, these songs are not drastically different, but there is some range. "Cherry Blossom Girl" is laidback, sunny and mellow; "Run" is particularly repetitive, but has a cool futuristic vibe. "Mike Mills" is quite repetitive too, with a piano part that recalls Moby. "Surfing a Rocket" is the most song-like song here, and the album's most upbeat moment with an '80s beat. "Alone in Kyoto," which was featured in Lost in Translation, is an ambient instrumental with a sense of urgency. All in all, this is a cool set of electronic pop laced with lovely melodies and just enough drama to keep it interesting.

Best: Surfing on a Rocket, Cherry Blossom Girl, Venus, Alone in Kyoto, Run, Alpha Beta Gaga

Friday, May 15, 2009

Personal Chart, 5/16/2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Halo - Beyonce (2 wks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (5 wks @ #1)
3 .... 5 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
4 .... 7 .... Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
5 .... 3 .... I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris
6 .... 4 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
7 .... 6 .... Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny) - A.R. Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls
8 ... 10 ... How Do You Sleep? - Jesse McCartney
9 ... 11 .... Magnificent - U2
10 .. 15 ... Number 1 - Tinchy Stryder & N-Dubz

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 5/23/2009

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas spend a sixth week at #1 with "Boom Boom Pow," tying Flo Rida's "Right Round" for the longest stay at #1 so far this year. I must admit, when "Boom Boom Pow" first hit #1, I thought it was a sales boom fluke, but the track has certainly demonstrated that its one of the year's biggest hits, certainly the biggest hit stateside for this group.

5. Halo - Beyonce

Beyonce's "Halo" climbs three spots to #5, becoming her 12th top 5 hit. It's great to see this single really performing well now, since it took so long to take off. There was a time I didn't think this would become a major hit.

13. Birthday Sex - Jeremih

"Birthday Sex" climbs 10 spots to #13 and is this week's airplay gainer. I listened to this song and wasn't impressed.

15. No Surprise - Daughtry

Daughtry's first single from their second album debuts at #15 this week. "No Surprise" appears to be an instant success--it's quickly moving up the top 40 airplay chart too. It's already the band's third-highest charting single, behind their two top 5 hits, "It's Not Over" and "Home."

29. Fire Burning - Kingston

Sean Kingston, who two years ago hit #1 with "Beautiful Girls," returns with the first single from his second album, debuting at #29.

30. Goodbye - Kristinia DeBarge

Remember DeBarge? Neither do I, but I have heard of the '80s R&B group that had a #3 hit with "Rhythm of the Night." Kristinia is the daughter of that band's member James DeBarge. It's been 22 years since a DeBarge had a top 40 hit. Another group member, El DeBarge, had a #3 hit in 1986 ("Who's Johnny"), and another sibling who wasn't in the group, Chico DeBarge, hit #21 in 1987 with "Talk to Me."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Green Day Tomorrow

Just a reminder that Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown is out tomorrow (easy to forget, since it's not a Monday/Tuesday release).

Update: Okay, I need to learn to read a calendar--this is out Friday (not today).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Pilots "In the Heat of the Night"

This is a fun '80s dance retreat, but after Will Young's "Switch it On" did we really need another Top Gun-themed video?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

UK Singles Chart, 5/16/2009

1. Number 1 - Tinchy Stryder & N-Dubz

So Tinchy Stryder leads what has to be about the crummiest UK singles chart since I started following it 11 years ago. While this column is generally about why I'm excited about what's going on in the charts, today, unfortunately, it is quite the opposite. Tinchy gets a third week at #1, which, in itself, isn't that bad, since this song is growing on me.

The rest of the top 10 is completely uninteresting, in fact, its the same 10 songs we had in the top 10 last week, of which 7 songs do not move at all (1-6, 10). "Jai Ho" drops 2 spots to #9 so that "Not Fair" and "We Made You" each move up a spot (they are, by the way, potential contenders to unseat Stryder for #1 next week. My money's on Allen to have a slight edge over Em. Black Eyed Peas are also in the mix).

20. If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears

Britney climbs three spots to #20 with "If U Seek Amy," the third single from her album Circus. It got its physical release this week, which I was hoping would bump it into the top 10, but alas, it isn't so. While it could go a little higher, top 10 looks unlikely. As it sits now, it's currently her lowest charting single, below the #15 peak of "Break the Ice," the third single from her last album.

22. She's Got Me Dancing - Tommy Sparks

This is a little cheerier--the top 40 debut of Tommy Sparks with "She's Got Me Dancing," although for such a fun song, I was hoping for higher. Maybe this will be a grower?

42. Magnificent - U2

Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a chart disaster. Last time we caught up with U2 on the charts it was with No Line on the Horizon's first single "Get on Your Boots," which was a chart disappointment because it was the first time a U2 album's first single didn't hit #1 and in fact missed the top 10 altogether, landing at #12 (not counting Zooropa, which didn't have typical single releases). Well, a #12 placing looks positively swimming next to the comparable failure of the album's second single to even crack the top 40. Ouch! "Get on Your Boots" was the band's first single in 12 years to miss the top 10. Now "Magnificent" is their first since the early '80s (i.e. before they were really big) to miss the top 40. What's going on? U2's always been good for big hits, and "Magnificent" is a great song from a great album. I really don't get it.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Best of 2000s: Will Young - Friday's Child (4.5/5)

As has frequently been the case, while many of the popular acts that get their starts on reality shows have had decent first albums, their second albums are almost always better. It's certainly the case with Will Young, who's 2002 debut From Now On had some good moments but found the talented young singer trying out various styles as if seeing which one fit (Kelly Clarkson would do the same with her debut a year later). On second album Friday's Child he finds his signature sound, which he's stuck to mostly--a sort of soulful, upbeat crooner. Opening confidently with "Love the One You're With" and "Your Game," Friday's Child immediately establishes that Will Young is more than boyband ballad remakes. The ballads here are much better than "Evergreen," particularly "Leave Right Now," arguably Will's biggest hit, as well as "Love's Is a Matter of Distance," which should have been a single, and the understated "Stronger."

Best: Leave Right Now, Love is a Matter of Distance, Your Game, Love the One You're With, Friday's Child, Stronger

Friday, May 08, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, 5/16/2009

1. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas extends their run at #1 with "Boom Boom Pow" to 5 weeks.

2. Blame It - Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain
4. Day 'n' Nite - Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi was looking good as a potential challenger to the Black Eyed Peas last week, but slips to #4 this week, while Jamie Foxx jumps two spots to #2 with "Blame It." Will it be #1 next week? We'll see. "Boom Boom Pow" looks set to top the top 40 radio chart soon, but Jamie Foxx has been doing well at airplay on multiple formats. However, BBP is still #1 at iTunes, so I imagine it's good for another week at #1.

9. Don't Trust Me - 3Oh!3

I haven't paid much attention this this song, but it's been gradually climbing up the chart, and becomes the group's first top 10 hit this week. I just bought it and listened to it---not bad. The band hails from Boulder, Colorado, and they look like a couple goofy but fun guys.

23. Birthday Sex - Jeremih

"Birthday Sex" climbs 17 spots to #23 and is this week's airplay gainer. This is one of those slow grinding R&B sex ballads, a genre which had its heydey over 10 years ago. Even if it was a good song, I really can't get behind this.

24. I Do Not Hook Up - Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson scores her 10th top 40 hits this week, climbing 22 spots to debut in the top 40 at #24. "I Do Not Hook Up" is the follow-up to her recent #1 hit, "My Life Would Suck Without You."

32. 3 am - Eminem

Eminem appears to be following Taylor Swift's lead in releasing a new track each week in advane of his album release later this month. "3 am" was last weeks new single, and it debuts at #32 this week. "Old Time's Sake" is this week's single and is sure to follow into the top 40 next week.

Personal Chart, May 9, 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 2 .... Halo - Beyonce (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (5 wks @ #1)
3 .... 3 .... I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris
4 .... 4 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
5 .... 6 .... Not Fair - Lily Allen
6 .... 5 .... Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny) - A.R. Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls
7 ... 11 .... Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
8 .... 7 .... In for the Kill - La Roux
9 .... 8 .... Untouchable - Girls Aloud
10 .. 13 ... How Do You Sleep - Jesse McCartney

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Agnes "Release Me"

This has been on the BBC Radio 1 playlist a little while (B list this week). What do you think? I think it's pretty decent dance pop. Reminds me of Anastacia.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Best albums of the decade

Over at the Billboard Files, J. Mensah is counting down his favorite albums of the decade in batches of 10. I won't do my own list until the end of the year--there's (hopefully) some really classic albums just waiting to be released in 2009--but I'm enjoying reading about his selections.

I'm up to 2004 for my own weekly retrospective of essential albums released this decade. There's one more album from 2003 you'll read about this weekend (Who could it be?!)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Introducing Tommy Sparks

Filling the void for campy retro pop currently created by the lack of new albums from Scissor Sisters and Mika (and not filled adequately by Empire of the Sun) is Tommy Sparks. Born in Sweden and residing in the UK, the singer is releasing his self-titled debut album next week. Advance single "I'm a Rope" failed to generate heat in February, but his new single out today, "She's Got Me Dancing" is getting attention. Check out the goofy video:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

UK Singles Chart, 5/9/2009

1. Number 1 - Tinchy Stryder Featuring N-Dubz

Tinchy Stryder and N-Dubz hold the top spot for a second week. With few major releases coming out next week, a third week looks likely, unless La Roux or Ironik can rouse up enough sales to dethrone them. Just like last year, we're now into May with no bands having had #1 hits--just soloists and collaborations of soloists. A key difference is that there have been 8 #1 hits so far this year, versus just four by this point last year. Every other year this decade a band has had a #1 hit in either January or February.

3. Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer) - Ironik featuring Chipmunk & Elton John

Elton John first released "Tiny Dancer" in 1971. Thirty-eight years later it finally becomes a hit, thanks to a remix from Ironik, a British DJ, and Chipmunk, a British rapper. The song just missed the US top 40, peaking at #41, but didn't crack the UK singles chart at all. This is the fourth time in the 2000s Elton John has hit the top 10 with a remake of one of his older hits. He hit #4 in 2002 with Alessandro Safina on "Your Song" and #1 with Blue on "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word," and #1 in 2003 with "Are You Ready for Love." This is Ironik's second top 10 hit; he had #5 last summer with "Stay with Me." This is Chipmunk's first top 10 hit. Elton John has had too many top 10 hits for me to count.

11. Untouchable - Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud jump 26 spots to #11 upon the CD release of "Untouchable." While there's a chance the band may climb into the top 10 next week, frankly it's unlikely. If it doesn't happen, this will become the group's first single to miss the top 10, after an amazing run of 20 consecutive top 10 hits. Still, no other act has had 20 top 10 hits this decade. Westlife is closest with 19, followed by Eminem with 18, and Robbie Williams with 17.

12. Please Don't Leave Me - Pink

Pink climbs a notch to #12 with "Please Don't Leave Me," so far failing to follow "So What" and "Sober" into the top 10.

23. If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears

Britney climbs a notch to #23 with "If U Seek Amy," her heavily edited (at radio) current single. This track gets a physical release tomorrow. Will it push it into the top 10? "Circus" failed to go there, peaking at #13. If it doesn't, Circus could go down as being the first Britney album to land only one UK top 10 hit. Her others netted her 4-3-4-3-2 respectively. In the US, Circus is her first album since her debut to give a second top 10, and if "Amy" goes top 10 there, it will be her first to have had three.

26. I Remember - Deadmau5 & Kaskade

Fantastic dance track, pity the poor chart performance, possibly owing to no physical release (dance fans do like to get those remixes). It climbs 13 spots to #26 this week. I learned listening to UK top 40 on Radio 1 this morning that "Deadmau5" is pronounced "dead mouse" not "dead maw five" (good to know).

31. Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
40. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon

At 32 and 34 weeks respectively, these two singles are still hanging on to the top 40. Pretty impressive runs for back-to-back releases.

Album Review: Kings of Leon - Only By the Night (4.5/5)

When Only By the Night was released in September, I didn't pay it much mind. Eight months later and the album is still going strong: it's currently in the top 20 in the US and the top 5 in the UK (where it's the biggest selling album of the year so far). The album's first two singles--"Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody"--have become firmly rooted in the UK top 40 having spent now 33 and 31 weeks there respectively. Having only given the album a cursory listen on MySpace, I decided to give this album a real chance.

And I'm glad I did, for I found that, after a few listens, I like it quite a bit. This isn't ground breaking music, but it is a great set of melody-driven rock running through a series of different moods and tempos. "Closer" is a dark, haunting opener. "Crawl" that follows is a fuzzy rocker. Things really get going with the upbeat rocker "Sex on Fire," the aforementioned single that became the band's first UK #1 hit last year, and its follow-up "Use Somebody." "Use Somebody" in particular takes its cues from U2, building up a big anthemic rock sound by layering in the instruments through the choruses and following instrumental section.

"Manhattan" is a bit slower, but still goes for a big sound. The guitar is reverbed and distorted in a way that makes it sound further away from the bass, drums and vocals that are in sharper relief. "Revelry" is a lovely rock ballad; shame that it wasn't a big hit like the first two singles. "17" opens big with mix of sounds including chimes--the kind you'd expect in a rock Christmas carol--but then throttles back to a electric guitar melody that pushes through in waves. "Notion" is on a more even keel, with piano added to the guitar mix. Lyrically there's not much to this track (pretty much just repetition of "I just wanted to know if I could go home" and "don't knock it don't knock it, you've been here before"), but I like the sound.

Cowbell features prominently in the percussion to "I Want You," a slow burner that brings its instruments into focus gradually--bass in the first verse, guitar in the second, etc. I like the layered guitar work here too. "Be Somebody" is more assertive and is remarkably lacking in melody during the verses, which makes its warm choruses really stand out. "Cold Desert" goes for the big finish: at 5:35 it's the album's longest song and it really strives (quite obviously) for that rock-music-as-landscape-painting aesthetic.

It's interesting to note that while the new wave loving post-punk indie scene gets a lot of buzz, it's not getting the bulk of the sales. Hence, while the latest high-profile projects from bands like Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs failed to really take off, its the U2-loving rockers like Kings of Leon and Coldplay (and of course, U2 themselves) that are reaping the sales. Perhaps we've had enough irony for the time being and just want to rock.

Best: Sex on Fire, Use Somebody, Revelry, Manhattan, Crawl, Be Somebody

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Best of 2000s: Dannii Minogue - Neon Nights (4.5/5)

Dannii Minogue's music career never took off like it did for big sister Kylie, but the closest she came was her fifth album Neon Nights, from which the Australian singer had three UK top 10 hits. Looking back, it's incredible the extent to which this album was a harbinger of upcoming pop music trends. While her sister and just about every other dance pop singer were still thriving on disco, Neon Nights jumps ahead to the '80s and electro--stylings that are omnipresent now, but not in mainstream yet in 2003. The upbeat set has a lot going for it: it's cohesive but avoid excessive repetition, wisely avoids balladry until the very end ("It Won't Work Out"), and never runs out of energy. "I Begin to Wonder" is clearly inspired by Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me 'Round" (an effective mash-up later proved it) and "Push" samples Laid Back's "White Horse." "For the Record," "On the Loop," and "Mystified" pulse with '80s synths. "Don't Wanna Miss This Feeling" benefited from a better single mix, and an even cooler approved mashup with Madonna's "Into the Groove." The best cut on the album is a bonus: Dannii's fantastic 2001 "trance pop" single "Who Do You Love Now." All in all, the work showed that Dannii was a serious contender to rank among the decade's most prominent dance pop singers. A shame she didn't keep it up.

Best: Who Do You Love Now?, I Begin to Wonder, Creep, Don't Wanna Miss This Feeling, For the Record, Mystified

Friday, May 01, 2009

Personal Chart, 5/2/2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Poker Face - Lady GaGa (5 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... Halo - Beyonce
3 .... 4 .... I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris
4 .... 5 .... If U Seek Amy - Britney Spears
5 .... 3 .... Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny) - A.R. Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls
6 ... 10 ... Not Fair - Lily Allen
7 .... 8 .... In for the Kill - La Roux
8 ... 12 ... Untouchable - Girls Aloud
9 .... 6 .... My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson (3 wks @ #1)
10 ... 7 .... Please Don't Stop the Rain - James Morrison