Saturday, October 31, 2009

Album Review: Cheryl Cole - 3 Words (4/5)

Strike when the iron is hot they say, and there was no hotter time than now for Cheryl Cole to step out with her solo debut. As a judge on The X Factor the last 2 years, Cole has built a strong public following, rehabilitating her image after an infamous fight with a restroom attendant 2003. And Girls Aloud, the group of which she is one-fifth, remains as hot as ever, having scored a #1 hit this time last year with "The Promise."

The immediately striking thing about 3 Words is how un-like Girls Aloud it is. Gone is the group's edgy electro-pop sound, generally produced by Xenomania. The producer du jour here is Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am, who produces or co-produces five of the album's tracks and appears on three of them (also included as a bonus is Will.I.Am's single "Heartbreaker," on which Cheryl provided guest vocals). It's a winning match, producing many of the album's best moments, such as bubbly "Heaven," which pairs various vocal processing techniques over a warm synth melody, and "Boy Like You," which samples Fleetwood Mac and recycles the beat from Fergie's "Glamorous." "Parachute" is also good, an upbeat pop ditty with a beat reminiscent of Nelly Furrtado's "Promiscuous."

The highlight from their collaboration though is the title track, "3 Words," which I'm absolutely crazy about. The song is highly repetitive, its subtle sound forming from the shifting layers of guitar and keyboards. Although this is a love song of the typically confessional order, the ominous melody provides a surprising contrast to the lyrical subject. Add in the shifting beat, which varies between the verses, chorus and bridge, and you've got something that's original, surprising and unlike anything I've heard Will.I.Am produce for his group or anyone else. I doubt this would make a good single, but it makes a hell of an opening track.

Beyond the Will.I.Am stuff, the other highlights are the understated hit single "Fight for This Love," which is on its way to passing the 400,000 sales mark in the UK this weekend, and clubby "Stand Up," co-produced and co-written by current British R&B favorite Taio Cruz. I like that it's got a bit of an '80s beat to it paired with modern synths.

While the album hits some really great high notes, it also delivers some major disappointments. In particular, it sags in the middle. "Rain on Me" is a rather mediocre mid-tempo number. "Make Me Cry," the only Will.I.Am effort I don't like, lacks a distinguishing melody. Beat-heavy "Happy Hour" also fails to find its melody and makes a mockery of the rest of the album's earnest romantic themes by using a drunken happy hour as a metaphor for love. Also disappointing is Cheryl's only stab at a ballad, "Don't Talk About This Love," which never soars like it should.

I seem to be in the minority, in that I generally like this album. I've been going back and forth all week about whether to give it a 3.5 or 4 rating, since that's the threshold for whether I recommend it or not. Ultimately, I'm giving Cheryl the benefit of the doubt, for even though there are a number of bland tracks, there are also a number of good ones (and one particularly brilliant one).

Best: 3 Words, Heaven, Fight for This Love, Parachute, Stand Up

Best of 2000s: Hard-Fi - Once Upon a Time in the West (4.5/5)

To follow their acclaimed debut, Stars of CCTV, English band Hard-Fi went for a grander, more mainstream sound on their second album. It seems every band still wants to be the next U2--a distinction only Coldplay can reliably lay claim to. That said, Once Upon a Time in the West's big melodies still largely succeed, punctuated as they are by enough quiet spaces to distinguish the louder ones. First single "Suburban Knights" bristles with energy, while second single "Can't Get Along (Without You)" swaggers like a brassy Smash Mouth track. Piano ballad "Tonight" is my favorite though, a classic build-to-the-big moment sing-along of a song.

Best: Tonight, Suburban Knights, Can't Get Along, I Shall Overcome, We Need Love, Television

Friday, October 30, 2009

Personal Chart, 10/31/2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke (2 weeks @ #1)
2 ... 10 ... Fight for This Love - Cheryl Cole
3 .... 2 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams (1 wk @ #1)
4 .... 3 .... Happy - Leona Lewis
5 .... 7 .... Want - Natalie Imbruglia
6 .... 9 .... Oopsy Daisy - Chipmunk
7 .... 8 .... Sweet Dreams - Beyonce
8 .... 5 .... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston (1 wk @ #1)
9 .... 4 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
10 ... 12 .. Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, November 7, 2009

1. Fireflies - Owl City

Well, isn't this a surprise? When I checked the Hot 100 this morning I though if Jay Sean wasn't #1 again, perhaps it would be Jason DeRulo or maybe Miley Cyrus. But rather unexpectedly, Owl City leaps 6 spots to score their first #1 hit. I say "their" but really Owl City is just a "him"--Adam Young of Minnesota. "Fireflies" is the 10th #1 hit of 2009.

10. Sweet Dreams - Beyonce

"Sweet Dreams" becomes Beyonce's 13th top 10 hit this week and the fourth from her album I Am...Sasha Fierce. That matches the four top 10 hits she had with her first album, Dangerously in Love.

22. Tik Tok - Ke$ha

Ke$ha, the featured vocalist on Flo Rida's #1 hit from earlier this year, "Right Round," steps out with her first solo top 40 hit, "Tik Tok," which makes an impressive 33-spot jump into the top 40 at #22 this week.

31. Papers - Usher

Usher returns with "Papers," the first single from his upcoming album, Raymond vs. Raymond. For an artist as big as Usher, debuting at only #31 is kind of underwhelming. Frankly, as is the song, which is about divorce--not the most winning of pop music subjects.

34. Sweet Caroline - Glee Cast Featuring Mark Selling

A few of us recently had a little Puck lovefest in the comment section of my November new releases post. Now he has a top 40 hit! Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" was performed by Mark Selling, a.k.a. Puck, on Glee last week. As far as I know, this is the first Glee recording in the top 40 that's credited not just to the cast in general. This is the fifth Glee top 40 hit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

November New Releases

The usual autumn glut of big-name releases continues. In particular, I'm quite excited about Robbie Williams' new album, which I hope will be excellent. I'm also hopeful that Leona Lewis, like Kelly Clarkson, will really shine on her second outing. Rihanna's promised a racy fourth album. And then there's Glee...swoon. What a month!


Robbie Williams - Reality Killed the Video Star (Nov. 9). Robbie Williams returns after a 3-year absence with his 8th studio album. It's produced by Trevor Horn, formerly of the Bubbles (from whom the title comes, a reference to their MTV classic "Video Killed the Radio Star"), who also produced the last Pet Shop Boys album (and the Pet Shop Boys in turn appeared on Robbie's last album Rudebox--see the connections?). Back in the mix this time as songwriter is Guy Chambers, the longtime Williams collaborator who did not appear on Rudebox or Intensive Care. First single "Bodies" is already an international smash.

Rihanna - Rated R (Nov. 23). Rihanna returns with her fourth studio album, following up the massively successful Good Girl Gone Bad that produced three US #1 hits and four other top 40 singles. Dark first single "Russian Roulette" is co-written with Ne-Yo, whose said the album overall is edgier than her previous work. Justin Timberlake, The Dream, and Tricky Stewart also collaborated with the Barbadian singer.

Leona Lewis - Echo (Nov. 16). The 2006 X Factor winner, who became the first British reality-TV-launched artist to crack the US (as well as the rest of the world) with massive hit "Bleeding Love," returns with her second album. Expect more finely crafted pop from all the industry's biggest craftsmen--Simon Cowell, Clive Davis, Ryan Tedder, Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Xenomania, Etc. First single "Happy" was released in the US weeks ago.

Glee: The Music Volume (Nov. 3). Anybody who loves pop music, musicals, high school romance, teacher feuds, and is gay (or has plenty of gay friends) should be watching Glee. It's fall's best new show. I'm absolutely infatuated with this show (and the hot teacher, played by Matthew Morrison). The hit mash-ups are missing, but all the show's other major musical moments are here, such as the pilot's "Don't Stop Believin," and memorable fall moments like "Somebody to Love," "No Air," "Gold Digger," "Keep Holding On" and "Bust a Move."

Norah Jones - The Fall (Nov. 17). For her fourth album, Norah Jones has reportedly taken a new direction. How far she'll stray from her winning formula of jazz-influenced pop/folk is anybody's guess. First single "Chasing Pirates" has a bit of an '80s feel to it I think. However she swings it, Grammy nominations will undoubtedly follow next year.

John Mayer - Battle Studies (Nov. 17). Yet another Grammy favorite releases his fourth album. Mayer's last album, Continuum, was a contender for Album of the Year, so expectations are high for Battle Studies, which the singer has said will take a new direction (see a trend?). The album's first single, "Who Says" is off to a good start at iTunes.

Carrie Underwood - Play On (Nov. 2/3). The former American Idol turned major country star releases her third album featuring first single "Cowboy Casanova." Most of the album is produced by Mark Bright, with one track from Swedish pop producer extraordinaire Max Martin. Pop songwriters Kara DioGuardi and Chantal Kreviazuk also lend a hand.

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment (Nov. 24). Last season's American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert is expected to release his debut this month. Lambert's latest single, "Time for Miracles," will reportedly not appear on the album (its from the dreadful looking film 2012). Given the relative mystery and lack of first single, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets pushed back to next year (despite certain record company pressure to get this in stores for the holidays).

Other releases

Nov. 2/3

Amerie - In Love & War. The R&B singer puts out her fourth album.

Weezer - Raditude. Weezer's not very hot at the moment, but they have a new album.

Nov. 9/10

JLS - JLS. The X Factor contestants release their debut album featuring #1 hit "Beat Again" and new single "Everybody in Love."

Britney Spears - The Singles Collection. Britney Spears releases a career-spanning greatest hits collection, featuring all her major hits plus new single "3," which recently topped the US singles chart.

Snow Patrol - Up to Now. Snow Patrol releases its greatest hits, featuring new single "Just Say Yes" plus hits like "Chasing Cars," "Run," and "Take Back the City."

Bon Jovi - The Circle. The famous '80s "hair" band releases its 11th album.

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions. Scottish band releases its fifth album.

Nov. 16/17

Janet Jackson - Number Ones/The Best. Janet Jackson releases a 2-CD career-spanning greatest collection, uniting her singles under A&M, Virgin and Island Records. Includes 33 hits plus new single "Make Me."

Will Young - The Hits. Will Young collects his 12 biggest hits plus two new songs including current single "Hopes and Fears."

Kris Allen - Kris Allen. This year's American Idol winner releases his debut album featuring first single "Live Like We're Dying," not to be confused with Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying."

Stereophonics - Keep Calm and Carry On. British rock band known for hits like "Dakota" and "Handbags and Gladrags" releases their 7th studio album. First single is "Innocent."

Nov. 23/24

Timbaland - Shock Value 2. This was slated for release months ago, then it vanished, and now it's back on the docket. Expect a similar slate of high-profile guests such as Justin Timberlake (of course), Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, Keri Hilson, Chris Brown, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Missy Elliott, Drake, and Brandy.

Sugababes - Sweet 7. The decade's ruling girlgroup (well, tied with Girls Aloud in any case) releases their 7th album. Not bad for a pop act whose first album scored only one top 10 hit. The hits don't seem to be coming as easily these days--their last two albums scored only one top 10 hit each. This album was rush re-recorded to replace departing member Keisha Buchanan's vocals with those of new member Jade Ewen (except for "Get Sexy," which had already been released).

Jay Sean - All or Nothing. British R&B artists releases his third album, which is also his American debut, featuring US #1 hit "Down."

Lady GaGa - The Fame Monster. Lady GaGa re-releases her mega-successful album with new material.

Mary J. Blige - Stronger. R&B singer releases her ninth album.

50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct. It really will be a miracle of this gets releases before his career implodes. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy (note: When I started drafting this article a couple of weeks ago, the release date was Nov. 2, note the 3 week slip...already.)

Nov. 30

Westlife - Where We Are. The Irish boyband has been together 10 years now. Unlike other boybands, they've never needed a comeback, because they've never gone away. This year Westlife releases its 10th album. First single is the Daughtry remake "What About Now."

The Bravery - Stir the Blood. New York band releases its third album.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cheryl Cole, 3 Words

I've been listening to Cheryl Cole's 3 Words today. It's pretty good, although not nearly as good as Alexandra Burke's album, Overcome. The first track, "3 Words," is really quite interesting--so far it is by far my favorite. I'll do a full review later in the week. Check out "3 Words":

Sunday, October 25, 2009

UK Singles Chart, October 31, 2009

1. Fight for This Love - Cheryl Cole
2. Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke feat. Flo Rida

One would think that having the year's biggest sales week would guarantee a single a second week at #1. The only that could stop it would be...another single coming along and breaking that record. Such is the case with Cheryl Cole, who stomps all over Alexandra's 187k sold of "Bad Boys" last week with a much more impressive 293K sold of "Fight For This Love." Thus, "Bad Boys'" run at #1 is limited to just one week, with sales dropping to about 122k--still a pretty impressive haul and more than any other #1 hit has sold this year other than "Bad Boys" and "Fight for This Love."

Enough about the sales stats. "Fight for This Love" is the solo debut for Cheryl Cole, one of the five members of Britain's reigning girl group, Girls Aloud. As such, she's been in the limelight for quite some time. During the 7 years since winning in a place in the group on the show Popstars, Cheryl has been on trial for a restroom brawl, married a famous soccer player and become a popular judge on Britain's current reality show singing competition, The X Factor. Of course she's also scored 21 top 40 hits with her group, 20 of which were top 10s (the 21st just missed it at #11), and four went all the way to #1 (but none of those #1s sold as many copies in their first week at the top as "Fight for This Love" has this week--more sales stats for ya).

5. Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston

Speaking of X Factor, the show continues to assert its massive influence on the pop charts. Last week "Million Dollar Bill" had dipped two places to #14 after debuting the previous week at #12. This week, following Houston's performance on the show last weekend, the single surges up 9 spots to #5, becoming her 17th top 10 hit and first top 5 single in 10 years. The song is certainly worthy of it--it's a great comeback--although it is a bit of a shame that it took a TV show appearance to convince the public it was so worthwhile.

1o. I Got Soul - Young Soul Rebels

A charity single! The War Child, a British charity that provides aid to children in war-torn areas of the world, put out this track recorded by supergroup Young Soul Rebels, consisting of a number of currently popular acts like Pixie Lott, Tinchy Stryder, N-Dubz, Frankmusic, VV Brown, and Chipmunk, among others. The song heavily reworks The Killers' 2004 hit "All These Things that I've Done."

11. Meet Me Halfway - Black Eyed Peas

BEPs jump 15 places to #11, on the verge of scoring their 10th top 10 hit. The single is out November 2.

20. The Spell - Alphabeat

At one point Alphabeat was being heralded as the next Scissor Sisters. Although their chart prospects have dimmed, they are still quite a bit of fun, and this is another good single from them--the first from their second album of the same name.

25. Hurt - Christina Aguilera

Someone must have sang this on X Factor last week. No other reason it would be here.

Westlife "What About Now"

Westlife is back with a new single, "What About Now," a remake of Daughtry's 7th single from their debut album. Although other songs like "It's Now Over" and "Home" were bigger hits in the United States, "What About Now" is Daughtry's only hit in Britiain to date, hitting #11 just 2 weeks ago. Driven, I believe, from exposure on The X Factor and possibly anticipation of Westlife's upcoming release.

Deride Westlife if you like, but their achievements on the British singles chart has been pretty amazing. Unlike all the other major boybands who split up or took a hiatus, Westlife weathered the un-boyband mid 2000s, actually scoring a few hits during that time. With Take That back and kicking and now JLS on the scene, boybands appear to be making a comeback, so the timing of their new album, Where We Are, their 10th(!), seems apt.

I used to be a big Westlife fan, having been hooked right from the start with "Swear It Again," which my friend Erin and I used to sing to each other. Although I haven't bought a Westlife album since their 2002 greatest hits collection, Unbreakable, I have bought all their singles.

Surely next weekend it will become their 24th top 40 single. Their chart record is uncomparable among recently popular acts: they've had 14 #1 hits, tying them with Cliff Richard as the act with the third most #1 hits ever (behind Elvis's 21 and the Beatles' 17). Their other 10 singles have all been top 10s (all but one were top 5s). Ten of their #1 hits were this decade, making them the artist with the most UK #1s in the 2000s. They've also had 14 #1 hits in their Irish homeland.

That "What About Now" is a remake is certainly nothing new for the band. Among their previous 23 singles, 8.5 were remakes: "I Have a Dream" (Abba)/"Seasons in the Sun" (Terry Jacks), "Against All Odds" (Phil Collins), "Uptown Girl" (Billy Joel), "Miss You Nights" (Cliff Richard)--a double A-side with original song "Tonight", "Mandy" (Barry Manilow), "You Raise Me Up" (Secret Garden, also covered by Daniel O'Donnell an Josh Groban), "When You Tell Me that You Love Me" (Diana Ross, remade with her), "The Rose" (Bette Midler), "Home" (Michael Buble),

Some of their songs have been remade: "Flying Without Wings" was a #2 hit in the US when remade by the second American Idol winner, Ruben Studdard. "Evergreen," an album cut from World of Our Own, was remade by the first Pop Idol winner Will Young and is the biggest-selling single in the UK this decade.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Best of 2000s: Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight (4.5/5)

All music calls Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight a "sleazy crawl through L.A. nightlife, teaming with sex and tattered dreams." It's hard to believe the subject is so bleak, when the music is so upbeat and enjoyable. Although their fourth album, this was my first exposure to the band, and it remains my favorite. Sweet "Silver Lining," darker "Close Call," strutting "Moneymaker," and shoulda-been-a-major-hit "Under the Blacklight" are the standouts, but there are lots of gems here. The band received a lot of Fleetwood Mac comparisons with this disc, most apparent on "Dreams"-like "Dreamworld." Jaunty "Breaking Up" sounds a bit like No Doubt (and "Give a Little Love" like post-No Doubt Gwen Stefani). "Smoke Detector" is quite '70s. If that makes for an interesting mix of influences, it certainly makes for a good listen. This is one of the less mainstream entries in my best of 2000s series, so for those of you who have never heard of them, I highly recommend giving this a spin.

Best: Under the Black Light, Silver Lining, Close Call, The Moneymaker, Dreamworld, Give a Little Love

Friday, October 23, 2009

Personal Chart, Oct. 24, 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 5 .... Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke Feat. Flo Rida (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 4 .... Happy - Leona Lewis
4 .... 3 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
5 .... 2 .... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston (1 wk @ #1)
6 .... 8 .... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
7 ... 12 .... Want - Natalie Imbruglia
8 ... 10 ... Sweet Dreams - Beyonce
9 ... 20 ... Oopsy Daisy - Chipmunk
10 .. 21 ... Fight for This Love - Cheryl Cole

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Billboard Hot 100, Oct. 31, 2009

1. Down - Jay Sean Feat. Lil Wayne

Jay Sean returns to #1 this week. It's the first single this year to have an interrupted run at #1. Last year it happened quite a bit: Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love" had 3 turns at #1, as did T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" and "Live Your Life." Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies" had two turns at #1 each.

2. Whatcha Say - Jason DeRulo

Jason DeRulo climbs to a new peak at #2. He looks most likely to be the next #1, with Miley Cyrus having lost her bullet this week.

3. Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
4. Run This Town - Jay-Z Feat. Rihanna & Kanye West
5. 3 - Britney Spears

In "Party in the USA," Miley Cyrus makes reference to Jay-Z and Britney songs being on the radio. Well here they are all lined up in a row at numbers 3, 4 and 5. It's like fate, isn't it? I was hoping this would happened.

6. Paparazzi - Lady GaGa

"Paparazzi" rebounds to #6 and is this week's airplay gainer. This looks set to be GaGa's fourth #1 hit at top 40 radio very soon.

8. I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
9. Meet Me Halfway - Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas have back-to-back top 10 hits this week. At #9, "Meet Me Halfway" becomes the third top 10 hit from The E.N.D. It's their 6th top 10 hit.

17. Who Says - John Mayer

John Mayer scores his 8th top 40 hit with "Who Says," first single from his upcoming fourth studio album. Interesting fact: 7 of Mayer's 8 top 40 hits have peaked in the teens. He's never had a top 10 hit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Album Review: Alexandra Burke - Overcome (4.5/5)

First albums from former reality show winners (and notable contestants) are always a turning point--do they prove they have what it takes to make it in the real world or was their fame a fleeting TV-only product? It's been said before, but I'll say it again: For every Leona Lewis and Will Young there's a Michelle McManus and a Leon Jackson; for every Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, a Justin Guarini and a Taylor Hicks. The first single doesn't tell the tale--it's almost always a smash hit, even if radio ignores it.

"Hallelujah," the first single from Alexandra Burke, last year's X Factor winner, was an unqualified hit. It become Christmas #1 and the decade's fifth best-selling single in the United Kingdom, making it so far the biggest domestic hit from a X Factor alum. It was a gorgeous, soaring ballad that showcased the singer's substantial vocal ability. But even on the basis of such a hit, scoring a hit album is a whole different game.

With tremendous pleasure, I'm happy to report that Burke's debut, Overcome, is a knockout of a pop album that comfortably showcases the singer as an adept pop vocalist whether she's singing an epic ballad, an '80s-styled dance pop tune, or a modern R&B-influenced number. Overcome is actually quite diverse, ranging from Amy Winehouse- and Duffy-esque '60s styled songs to modern dance pop featuring hot American guests.

"Bad Boys," the UK's current #1 hit is perfect counter-programming to "Hallelujah," included here as a bonus track. Where "Hallelujah" was graceful and soaring, "Bad Boys" is down and dirty--a dance pop stomper that announces itself with sirens blazing. Burke exudes an awful lot of personality here, much more so than Leona Lewis, the other major X Factor winner (and yes, there will be lots of comparisons between the two). While Lewis generally seems pleasant, albeit a bit proper, Burke is the life of the party. She gets down quite properly on the frothy RedOne (Lady GaGa, Little Boots) dance pop productions "Broken Heels" and "Dumb" and Stargate's "Nothing But the Girl."

On the other end of the spectrum, she also excels at the ballads, several of which clearly want to be the next "Bleeding Love," with their big choruses and slow drum beats that sound like they were pounded out on skins the size of the moon. "The Silence" and "Overcome" are the showcase power ballads. As big as these productions are, Burke is never overpowered, although it's nice to hear her ably apply more restraint on "They Don't Know," the quieter closing track soulfully rendered with piano and strings.

Falling somewhere in the middle are my favorite tracks. Her Ne-Yo collaboration, "Good Night Good Morning" is a really cool track with a seductive pop melody and the great hooks we've come to expect from a Ne-Yo penned song. "All Night Long" is fun bubbly dance pop. The '60s-styled tracks both work well too. "Bury Me (Six Feet Under)" is sweet and fun, while "You Broke My Heart," co-penned by Pixie Lott, is big and brassy.

My only gripe is that many of the productions sound too similar to other songs. "All Night Long" is almost identical to Chris Brown's "Forever" (I assume they have the same producer, but have not been able to confirm it), "Broken Heels" sounds a lot like Alesha Dixon's "The Boy Does Nothing," "You Broke My Heart" a lot like Duffy's "Mercy," and "Overcome" is so similar to Kelly Clarkson's From Justin to Kelly ballad, "Anytime" that you can just about sing along with either set of lyrics (both songs were written by Louis Biancaniello and Sam Watters).

This would be more of a problem if Burke was just phoning in her performance or if these varying songs' styles didn't suit her. As it is, it's a bit of playing-it-safe, which is to be expected for a project like this. More importantly, she sounds great on every song here, regardless of how familiar they may sound.

Overcome is the first in a series of albums released in the next few weeks from female pop stars that got their starts on British reality TV singing competitions. Cheryl Cole and Leona Lewis take notice--Alexandra Burke has thrown down the gauntlet, and it's going to be a hard act to follow.

Best: Bad Boys, Good Night Good Morning, Bury Me (Six Feet Under), You Broke My Heart, Broken Heels, They Don't Know, All Night Long, Overcome, The Silence

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cheryl Cole to dominate UK singles chart

Before seeing today's midweek sales figures, I thought Alexandra Burke had a very strong chance at spending a second week at #1. After all, she'd just wracked up the year's biggest one-week sales tally, selling 187,000 copies.

Well, brace yourselves for Cheryl Cole, who's "Fight for This Love" has already sold 134,000, about 45,000 more than Alexandra sold this time last week. With a start that good, she might clear 200K.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rihanna returns

Although she's not been far from our minds, given the 28 singles released from Good Girls Gone Bad, the T.I. and Jay-Z collaborations, and the unfortunate incident in the spring, Rihanna is back with the first single from her upcoming as-yet-untitled fourth album. Rumor has it that "Russian Roulette" will be released tomorrow and will be available on iTunes.

Update: Apparently this will appear at radio today but not iTunes.

Alexandra Burke 'Overcome'

I'm really enjoying Alexandra Burke's debut album, Overcome. It's really great! Better than I expected. I'll do a full review soon. In addition to "Bad Boys," I'm really into "Good Night Good Morning," "All Night Long," "Bury Me," "Broken Heels," "Overcome," and "You Broke My Heart." Each those showcase a different pop style, and they all seem to suit her just fine. Of course the Leona comparisons are inevitable, and this is easily a vastly superior album to Spirit. It's certainly a lot more fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

UK Singles Chart, October 24, 2009

1. Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke feat. Flo Rida
2. Bodies - Robbie Williams

So this week's chart battle is over, and the victor is...Alexandra Burke, whose "Bad Boys" becomes her second #1 hit following "Hallelujah," her victory single after winner the 2008 X Factor and last year's Christmas #1. Burke managed to sell a rather impressive 187,000 copies of "Bad Boys," the highest 1-week tally so far this year and most since "Hallelujah" moved over 311,000 copies the last week of 2008 during its second week in release (it sold over 576,000 in its first week).

That means that Robbie Williams has to settle for #2, making "Bodies" his fifth #2 solo hit after "Freedom," "Old Before I Die," "Kids," and "Tripping." Bodies sold over 89,000 copies, still more than most #1 hits have done this year, but almost 100,000 less than Burke. In all, it's his 27th top 10 hit.

9. Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble

Michael Buble earns his first top 10 UK hit this week. Although "Home" is probably his best-known song, it only got as high as #31 (it took Westlife to get it to #3 a couple of years ago). Buble's previous high-water-mark was "Lost," which peaked at #19 in 2007.

20. White Lies - Mr. Hudson

Without Kanye West in tow, Mr. Hudson doesn't chart as well, as "White Lies" debuts at #20, far below the #2 debut of his last single, "Supernova" feat. Mr. West.

23. Papillon - The Editors

The Editors made the unusual choice to release this single the same week their new album was released. And since they are more an albums artist, the decision likely dashed any prospect of "Papillon" being a top 10 hit. Counting the re-release of "Munich," this is their 9th top 40 single.

26. Meet Me Halfway - Black Eyed Peas

Getting a head start on its official release in November is the third single from Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. It follows mega mega mega hit "I Gotta Feeling," which itself climbs back up two spots to #6 this week.

Album Review: Taylor Swift - Fearless (4/5)

Few teen pop stars are willing to tackle personal, age-appropriate topics in their songs. Singers like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears delivered a salvo of pop trifles in their youth, but weren't interested in giving us any soul-revealing lyrics ("E-mail My Heart" anyone?). on Fearless, then 18-year old Taylor Swift takes a different tack.

Fearless is a concept album, as explained in her liner notes: "Fearless is not the absence of fear...(but) living in spite of those things that scare you death." Swift's songs largely adhere to this idea, tackling with remarkable honesty a number of key moments in a teenage girl's life--her first kiss ("Fearless"), the first day of high school, ("Fifteen"), and unrequited awful lot of unrequited love. But wasn't that what defined the teen years for most of us?

Taylor wrote or co-wrote every song here, and it's clear that she's already an uncannily gifted songwriter with a knack for both revealing country story-telling and catchy pop hooks. Both of this album's major hits--"Love Story" and "You Belong with Me"--achieve both quite effectively. "You were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter, and Daddy said stay away from Juliet" intones Swift on the former, a clever literary-inspired tale of forbidden love. "You Belong with Me" is particularly charming--the story of a somewhat awkward girl (normal, in other words), in love with a male friend who's dating the homecoming queen and doesn't notice her affections. (Is it wrong that I still tear up at the end of the super cute video when they show each other the "I love you" signs?)

Most of the songs are pretty mid-tempo, save for the more upbeat "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me," but there are also a few good ballads. "White Horse" is a touching lost love story that invokes similar fairy-tale imagery to that of "Love Story," but without the happily ever after. "You're Not Sorry," scored with piano and violins, is gorgeous and tragic as it relates the end of a doomed relationship.

There are few songs on the album that don't live up to its potential. I'm not particularly keen on "Breathe," a duet with Colbie Caillat, partly because Caillat's voice isn't that different from Swift's, so it's hard to tell the two apart, plus it's rather ho-hum musically. Parents everywhere must be cheering In "The Best Day," Swift reflects on how important her parents have been to her--a message I imagine many of her friends aren't old enough to appreciate yet.

Although billed as country, Fearless is a pop album through and through. If it weren't for the "small town" references and occasional banjo, it would be hard to hear this as country, a genre that finds many of its artists blending with AC more and more. What sets it apart from most other teen pop is its honesty and unpretentiousness, and that's what makes it special.

Best: You Belong with Me, Love Story, Fifteen, Fearless, White Horse, You're Not Sorry

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Best of 2000s: Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad (4.5/5)

Every artist who becomes a major star had that moment where they went from being merely popular to being an icon. This was Rihanna's. Following two albums that together produced a handful of hits, Good Girl Gone Bad came on the scene and produced no less than seven top 40 hits (if you count both the original and "reloaded" versions) plus one other great song that should have been a top 40 hit, a remix of Maroon 5's "If I Never See Your Face Again." "Umbrella," the album's driving first single became her signature hit. Following that were four hard-hitting dance pop songs--one of which, "Dont Stop the Music," became a major international hit. Then there's the lovely mid-tempo duet with Ne-Yo, "Hate that I Love You." Often when an album gets re-released with new songs the results are underwhelming, but here they were spot on, with the pumping "Disturbia" and understated ballad "Take a Bow" that showed finally that Rihanna could nail a good ballad (it's much much better than "Unfaithful"). At the time of its release, I certainly did not expect it would become one of the decade's biggest pop albums.

Best: Umbrella, Push Up on Me, Hate that I Love You, Disturbia, Don't Stop the Music, If I Never See Your Face Again, Take a Bow

Album review: The Flaming Lips - Embryonic (3.5/5)

The Flaming Lips have been around for a long time, and like many people I was new to the party. I'm familiar with only the most recent 4 of the band's 12 studio albums. From what I've read, The Soft Bulletin (1999) was a shift toward a more mainstream sound. The album that followed it, Yoshimi Battles the Robots (2002), is one of my favorite albums of the decade. At War with the Mystics (2005) is good, but not as strong.

Embryonic is a shift back toward their more experimental roots. Thus, those of us seduced by their conventional work--such as the 2002 hit "Do You Realize?"--may be put off by the lack of traditional songs here.

"Convinced of the Hex" and "The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine" open the album along somewhat conventional lines--these songs do have discernible melodies, as well as driving beats. "See the Lights" is also pretty charged and transitions in the middle to a synth instrumental. Drum-heavy "Your Bats" is so lo-fi it sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage, or perhaps a shuttle bay, given the pervasive retro science fiction vibe.

Instrumental "Aquarius Sabotage," the first of the five Zodiac-themed numbers, bursts first with frenetic drumming, harp effects and other squelching before simmering down about halfway through. "Gemini Syringes" is better--a meditative track with a prominent bassline and synth melody featuring a scientist lecturing in the background. The sound expands in the song's second half, as the guitar and vocals (not the scientist) come to the fore. "Powerless," the nearly 7-minute closing track of the album's first half, sets a fairly static bass and drums background over which raw electric guitar riffs play and intensify. "The Impulse" is another mostly instrumental track, with vocals so distorted as to lose their coherence.

The album is not without its oddities. "Evil," a plodding melody of piano and synths intoning that "those people are evil, and it's hard to understand." Gentle "If" provides a counterpoint: "People are evil it's true, but on the other side they can be gentle too if they decide...but they don't always decide." The album's strangest moment though is hands down "I Can Be a Frog," during which singer Wayne Coyne suggests a number of sounds (mostly animals) for singer Karen O to imitate (which she does). MGMT also make a guest appearance on "Worm Mountain," a big-sounding track.

The album's final act contains a couple of winning tracks. "Silver Trembling Hands" picks up the tempo after a couple of slower numbers. "Watching the Planets" marches forth with a charging bass beat.

My take is that Embryonic is not bad, but it's not as enjoyable as their previous albums, and it's certainly not as accessible. It's also quite long, with 18 tracks spread over 2 discs. The materials flows well, as many of the songs have similar elements. The sound is like a lo-fi soundtrack to a psychedelic 1960s sci-fi film (not coincidentally, the band's last project was the science fiction musical Christmas on Mars). Raspy guitar and fuzzy, distant vocals blend with smoother keyboard notes and effects. It works well as a whole piece though, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment for something so long and varied.

Best: Convinced of the Hex, The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine, Gemini Syringes, Watching the Planets

Friday, October 16, 2009

Personal Chart, October 10, 2009

1 .... 2 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 1 .... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston (1 wk @ #1)
3 .... 5 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
4 .... 6 .... Happy - Leona Lewis
5 .... 9 .... Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke feat. Flo Rida
6 .... 3 .... I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (6 wks @ #1)
7 .... 7 .... Obsessed - Mariah Carey
8 .... 8 .... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
9 ... 10 ... I'm Not Your Toy - La Roux
10 .. 11 ... Sweet Dreams - Beyonce
11 .. 18 ... Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
12 .. 21 ... Want - Natalie Imbruglia
13 .. 14 ... Run This Town - Jay-Z feat. Rihanna and Kanye West
14 .. 19 ... Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson
15 .. 15 ... Down - Jay Sean feat. Lil Wayne
16 .. 13 ... You Belong with Me - Taylor Swift (1 week @ #1)
17 .. 17 ... Whatcha Say - Jason DeRulo
18 .. 26 ... Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
19 .. 27 ... Forever Is Over - The Saturdays
20 NEW> Oopsy Daisy - Chipmunk
21 .. 23 ... Fight For This Love - Cheryl Cole
22 .. 20 ... Love Drunk - Boys Like Girls
23 ... 4 .... Celebration - Madonna (2 wks @ #1)
24 .. 25 ... Fireflies - Owl City
25 .. 31 ... Dirtee Cash - Dizzee Rascal
26 .. 12 ... Boys and Girls - Pixie Lott
27 .. 30 ... Meet Me Halfway - Black Eyed Peas
28 .. 29 ... Paparazzi - Lady GaGa
29 .. 16 ... Holiday - Dizzee Rascal
30 .. 34 ... 4ever - The Veronicas
31 .. 22 ... Sexy Bitch - David Guetta feat. Akon
32 .. 28 ... Knock You Down - Keri Hilson Feat. Kanye West & Ne-Yo
33 NEW> 3 - Britney Spears
34 .. 39 ... You're Not Alone - Tinchy Stryder
35 .. 38 ... Funhouse - Pink
36 .. 24 ... New York - Paloma Faith
37 .. 40 ... I What to Know What Love Is - Mariah Carey
38 NEW> Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble
39 NEW> Papillon - The Editors
40 NEW> Hopes and Fears - Will Young

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Leona Lewis Echo

Leona Lewis' new album Echo is coming out November 16 in the UK and the next day in the US. It has slightly different tracklists in both places:

Tracks that appear on both versions:

1. Happy
2. I Got You
3. Love Letter
4. Can't Breathe
5. Brave
6. Outta My Head
7. My Hands
8. Broken
9. Don't Let Me Down
10. Alive
11. Lost Then Found (feat. OneRepublic)

UK (and other countries) only:

1. Naked (available in the US as an iTunes pre-order bonus)
2. Stop Crying Your Heart Out

US and Canada only:

1. You Don't Care
2. Fly Here Now (available in the UK as an iTunes pre-order bonus)

Janet Jackson's Greatest Hits

Not wanting to be outdone by Madonna, Janet Jackson is set to release her own 2-CD career-spanning greatest hits collection on November 17 titled "Number Ones" in the US and "Janet Jackson: The Best" elsewhere (I guess because she hasn't had as many #1s outside the states--including NEVER having hit #1 in the UK).

Janet Jackson's Web site has the tracklist for the set, which includes a number of fantastic inclusions, most notably her top 10 1987 hit "Diamonds" (with Herb Alpert), which did not appear on a Janet Jackson album or her 1995 hits collection.

Disc 1
1. What Have You Done for Me Lately
2. Nasty
3. When I Think of You
4. Control
5. Let's Wait Awhile
6. The Pleasure Principle
7. Diamonds (with Herb Alpert)
8. Miss You Much
9. Rhythm Nation
10. Escapade
11. Alright
12. Come Back to Me
13. Black Cat
14. Love Will Never Do
15. The Best Things in Life Are Free (with Luther Vandross)
16. That's the Way Love Goes

Disc 2

1. If
2. Again
3. Because of Love
4. Any Time, Any Place
5. Scream (with Michael Jackson)
6. Runaway
7. Got 'til It's Gone (with Joni Mitchell & Q-Tip)
8. Together Again
9. I Get Lonely (with BLACKstreet)
10. Go Deep
11. What's It Gonna Be (with Busta Rhymes)
12. Doesn't Really Matter
13. All For You
14. Someone to Call My Lover
15. All Nite (Don't Stop)
16. Call on Me (with Nelly)
17. Feedback
18. Make Me

Natalie Imbruglia "Want"

I am so into Natalie Imbruglia's new single "Want." The more I listen, the more I like it (and want it). It's such a great sultry, adult pop sound--not too far from that of her fellow Australian Kylie Minogue. Sadly, it debuted at a rather lowsy #88 on the UK singles chart, although it is top 10 in Italy.

Billboard Hot 100, October 24, 2009

1. 3 - Britney Spears

Look at Britney go! "3," the new single from Spears' upcoming greatest hits set, The Singles Collection, bows at #1, the first single to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 since Taylor Hicks' American Idol victory lap, "Do I Make You Proud" entered at #1 in the summer of 2006. Considering that Clay Aiken, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood all had #1 debuts, the last time a non-Idol-related single debuted at #1 was in December 1998 with Celine Dion and R. Kelly's "I'm Your Angel." Three is appropriately Britney's third #1 hit, coming within a year of her second #1, "Womanizer," a significantly shorter amount of time than passed between her first and second #1s. It was almost 10 years between when "...Baby One More Time" held the top spot in early 1999 and when "Womanizer" did it late in 2008.

9. Fireflies - Owl City

Owl City scores their first top 10 hit as "Fireflies" rises two spots to #9.

16. One Less Lonely Girl - Justin Bieber
21. One Time - Justin Bieber

Okay, clearly it is time to pay attention to Justin Bieber. He's a 15 year-old Canadian singer and former YouTube sensation who has made it big fast. "One Time," his first single, which is produced by Tricky Stewart, is up 5 spots to #21 this week. It's also a top 20 hit at pop radio. His new single, "One Less Lonely Girl," makes an impressive Hot 100 debut at #16.

30. It's My Life/Confessions Part II - Glee Cast (boys)
40. Halo/Walking on Sunshine - Glee Cast (girls)

That Glee is starting to catch on in a major way is being reflected now in the Hot 100, which is quite good fun if you're a fan of a) pop music, b) music charts, and c) Glee--like me. This week there are two debuts inside the top 40 from last week's episode where Mr. Schuester challenged the group to divide by gender and compete with one another in performing mashups of their choosing. The girls chose Beyonce's "Halo" and Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine," a fun choice, and they did well, but the boys were better (in my opinion) with their Bon Jovi/Usher mashup of "It's My Life" and "Confessions." Apparently consumers agree, as the boys debut 10 spots higher than the ladies. This is the first week that two Glee tracks appear in the top 40 and the second week in a row for a Glee showing after last week's #28 placing of "Somebody to Love." Oh, and if you're not watching Glee, you really should be, as it's a fantastic show. Imagine if this show becomes really big, just think about the chart potential for the season finale performances.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

UK Chart Battle

There's a big battle brewing on the UK singles chart this weekend as relative newcomer Alexandra Burke offers up the first single from her debut album, pop megastar Robbie Williams releases his first single in 3 years, and last week's #1, Chipmunk, tries to stay on top. What a great week.

Alexandra Burke (feat. Flo Rida) - "Bad Boys"

Miss Burke has the upper hand, and based on preliminary midweek reports, is already outselling Robbie by 2 to 1. Pity really, for although this song is fine, "Bodies" is vastly superior. But Robbie didn't win X Factor last year.

Robbie Williams - "Bodies"

Here's "Bodies," possibly the best song Robbie has released in a long time--certainly better than any Rudebox single.

Chipmunk - "Oopsy Daisy"

I was a little skeptical about a rap act named after a rodent, but this song is actually pretty good. It topped the UK singles chart last week, and would like to do so again, but that's very unlikely.

Monday, October 12, 2009

TV Time Capsule

My partner has re-launched his TV blog, TV Time Capsule. The site, a nostalgia blog for TV fans, reviews this week's TV listings from years past, with a focus on the '80s and '90s. It's a mix of articles that reprint listings, provide historical context and give his personal reflections of the shows. If you're an avid TV viewer or just want a trip down memory lane, it's definitely worth a look.

Album Review: Air - Love 2 (4/5)

Some musicians prefer center stage, while others take to the background. Air's music seems so tailor-made to be the latter that it may feel out-of-character to confront it head on. But doing so yields its own rewards, especially with Love 2, a winning entry in the band's discography, far better than 2007's disappointing Pocket Symphony. It's more like Talkie Walkie or Moon Safari--the band's best works--favoring warm melodies and an accessible blend of acoustic and synthetic sounds.

"Do the Joy" starts us off with a mix of warm synth melodies, harsh guitar feedback and disjointed vocal samples, followed by "Love," which blends xylophone, synths and choir vocals. "So Light Is Her Footfall" is the first traditionally structured song with a brooding melody scored by synth strings, piano, guitar and the duo's typical hushed vocals. These tracks utilize the group's usual cool, repetitious melodies, making them great for late night ambiance.

Despite mining mostly familiar territory, there's lots to like on Love 2. "Heaven's Light" is a gorgeous track, with warm, cinematic synths and a more upbeat rhythm. Its melody is vaguely reminiscent of 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" (a song that those of you who are 35 will credit to Will to Power and those of you who are 25 to Olive). Instrumental "African Velvet" is another standout, with its electric guitar backbone and delightful woodwinds bridge.

One of my complaints about Pocket Symphony was its lack of tempo. Love 2 picks up the pace on songs like "Be a Bee," which edges into rock territory, and disco-ish instrumental "Tropical Disease." But even the slower songs work well, like the sweetly retro "Sing Sang Sung."

This album works well, and I'm glad, for I love Talkie Walkie, Moon Safari and Premiers Symptomes, and was concerned that Pocket Symphony was taking them in the wrong direction. I've been listening to Love 2 while lounging and working around the house the last couple days, and while it works great just playing in the background, it's a satisfying listen head on as well.

Best: Heaven's Light, African Velvet, So Light Is Her Footfall, Tropical Disease

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stephen Gately Dead

I'm back from my trip, but unfortunately greeted with this bad news. Stephen Gately of Boyzone was found dead today while on vacation in Majorca, Spain. He was 33.

Gately came out of the closet in the summer of 1999, becoming the first openly gay member of a major boyband. He and his partner Andrew Cowles entered into a civil union in 2006.

Boyzone was a major success, scoring 17 top 5 hits in the UK, including 6 #1s. Most recently, the band reunited for a reunion tour and greatest hits set last year, hitting #5 with new single "Love You Anyway." In 2000, Gately tried his hand at a solo career, hitting #3 in the UK with his first single "New Beginning."

My favorite Gately song was from Boyzone's third album Where We Belong. "You Flew Away," although credited to the band, features lead vocals from Gately, who also wrote it. It's rather apt way to remember him at the moment.

Best of 2000s: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (5/5)

If the retro-'60s sound was the bandwagon all British pop acts wanted to be on late this decade, this was the horse pulling it. Back to Black is a stunning blend of old and modern soulful sounds--a delicious contrast of gorgeous melodies and filthy lyrics. There are no bad songs in the bunch, and Winehouse is as effective pouring her heart out in "Love Is a Losing Game" as she is playfully refusing alcohol abuse treatment in "Rehab" (proving that such a thing actually can be done playfully). Since the album came out in 2006, Winehouse became tabloid fodder in the worst sense. It's still unclear whether she can pull herself together enough to craft a worthy follow-up to this masterpiece.

Best: Back to Black, Rehab, Tears Dry on Their Own, Love Is a Losing Game, Me and Mr. Jones, You Know I'm No Good

Friday, October 09, 2009

Personal Chart, Oct. 10, 2009

Hello from Vancouver, BC!

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 3 .... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston (1 week @ #1)
2 .... 4 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams
3 .... 2 .... I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (6 wks @ #1)
4 .... 1 .... Celebration - Madonna (2 wks @ #1)
5 ... 10 .... Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
6 .... 8 .... Happy - Leona Lewis
7 .... 7 .... Obsessed - Mariah Carey
8 .... 9 .... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
9 ... 15 .... Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke ft. Flo Rida
10 .. 11 ... I'm Not Your Toy - La Roux

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Best of 2000s: Justin TImberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds (4/5)

If Justified was Justin Timberlake's Over the Wall--the album where he firmly established himself apart from NSYNC--then FutureSex/LoveSounds was his Thriller--the album that made him a superstar. The set scored well among both fans and critics, earning a Grammy Album of the Year nomination, and produced six top 40 hits, including three #1s. The first of which, "Sexyback," became a minor pop culture phenomenon in 2006, and "What Goes Around...Comes Around" got a Record of the Year nomination. Produced principally by Timbaland, Danja and Timberlake himself, the album embodies the best of the time's cutting edge pop/R&B. Thoroughly modern though it is, it finds time to give us an old school Prince-style song in "Until the End of Time," a smooth ballad that was later re-recorded with Beyonce.

Best: What Goes Around...Comes Around, Sexyback, My Love, Until the End of Time, FutureSex/LoveSounds, Summer Love

Friday, October 02, 2009

Personal Chart, October 3, 2009

TW LW Title - Artist
1 .... 1 .... Celebration - Madonna (2 weeks @ #1)
2 .... 2 .... I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (6 wks @ #1)
3 .... 6 .... Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston
4 .... 8 .... Bodies - Robbie Williams
5 .... 3 .... You Belong with Me - Taylor Swift
6 .... 5 .... Boys and Girls - Pixie Lott
7 ... 10 ... Obsessed - Mariah Carey
8 ... 11 .... Happy - Leona Lewis
9 .... 9 .... Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
10 .. 27 .. Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Vacation Hiatus

I'm going on vacation tomorrow and won't be back until next Saturday, so other than tomorrow's personal chart and Best of 2000s reviews both Saturdays, I won't be posting anything until then.

Billboard Hot 100, October 3, 2009

1. I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas

Black Eyed Peas hold the #1 spot for an amazing 14th week. That ties them with Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" for the longest stay at #1 this decade, and puts them in a six-way tie for the second longest run at #1 ever with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You," Los Del Rio's "Macarena, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight," and "We Belong Together." Only Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's 1995 hit "One Sweet Day" has spent more time at #1, with a record-breaking 16 weeks. Put together with "Boom Boom Pow's" 12 weeks, Black Eyed Peas has now spent the last 26 weeks at #1--a full 6-month stretch!

2. Down - Jay Sean Featuring Lil Wayne
3. Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus

Eventually something else will be #1, and these two look like the best candidates at the moment. Both are selling well and have strong airplay.

5. Whatcha Say - Jason DeRulo

Here's another candidate for a future #1. "Whatcha Say" has become a massive hit, up 5 spots this week and the digital gainer.

7. Paparazzi - Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa holds steady this week, but earns the airplay gainer, so I suspect this will become a top 5 hit shortly.

9. Obsessed - Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey's "Obsessed" climbs back into the top 10. The track has been a slow-builder, but has finally really caught on. It's now #7 at top 40 radio, with a healthy almost 600-spin gain this week. Meanwhile "I Want to Know What Love Is," which was supposed to be massive, doesn't appear to be catching on, as it tumbles 9 places to #75 this week. At top 40 radio, her spin gain, while initially good, has suddenly fallen off, to just 56 gained spins over the last 7 days (as of today).

11. Cowboy Casanova - Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood's first single from her upcoming third album makes a healthy leap into the top 40, up 85 spots. The single was released earlier than planned after it leaked on the Internet.

24. Fireflies - Owl City

This song has suddenly become huge. It's really taken off at top 40 radio, and its currently top 10 at iTunes. This one-time free track from iTunes is up 22 spots this week (just think, all you people that are buying this could have had it for free if you'd been paying attention).

48. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

So, after making a pretty big dive to #49 last week, it looked like "I'm Yours" had finally had its last week on the Hot 100. Not so fast--it's up 1 spot to #48 this week, in its 76th week on the chart.