Thursday, June 30, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, July 9, 2011

1. Give Me Everything - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer

I didn't think we'd see this. I was sure when "Give Me Everything" failed to top the chart last week that it's chance at #1 was over. But I'm proven wrong, as the single climbs a notch to #1, ending Adele's 7-week run at #1 with "Rolling in the Deep."

"Give Me Everything" is Pitbull's first #1 hit, surpassing the #2 peak of his previous biggest hit, 2009's "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)." Counting his guest appearances, the song is the Cuban-American rapper's 7th top 10 hit. It's the first top 10 and #1 hit for Afrojack (the song's producer) and Nayer, and Ne-Yo's second #1.

4. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

If you thought this would be #1 this week, don't feel too let down. The song's upward sales momentum cooled a bit this week--it still #1 on Digital Songs, but lost its bullet. It's airplay is really picking up though, as the song jumps from #21 to #11 on Radio Songs as this week's Airplay Gainer. This song is definitely still a #1 contender.

5. Super Bass - Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj scores her first top 5 hit this week as "Super Bass" rises three notches to #5. It's rare that an album's fifth single becomes its biggest hit, but not unprecedented. In fact, it could bode rather well for Minaj, if you consider that none other than Madonna saw the fifth single from her first album--Madonna's "Lucky Star"--become the singer's biggest hit at the time when it also became her first top 5 hit.

8. Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera

I'm not watching The Voice, but apparently it's become a pretty big hit. Certainly re-energizing the career of Christina Aguilera, who lost year bombed quite spectacularly with the release of her fourth album, Bionic, which yielded not a single top 10 hit. It's not hurting Maroon 5's Adam Levine either, who sees his band score its fourth top 10 hit, a feat none of the singles from last year's album has achieved. This is Aguilera's ninth top 10 hit.

10. How to Love - Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne's most pop-oriented single yet climbs into the top 10, up three this week to #10.

29. I Wanna Go - Britney Spears

Videos seem to be really working magic again lately. Britney released her video for "I Wanna Go" this last week, and suddenly her new single is an instant hit, climbing 60 notches this week to enter the top 40 at #29 as this week's Digital Gainer. This is Spears's 20th top 40 hit (that doesn't count her appearance on the remix of Rihanna's "S&M," which I don't think should count).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boyband Summer Hits

JLS and The Wanted have, in the last year, emerged as the pre-eminent British boybands (I'm not counting Take That, since they are not anywhere close to being boys anymore). Both groups have new singles this summer, both of which really want to be #1 hits next month.

Of the two, I think I prefer The Wanted's "Glad You Came." It's quite clubby, riding a similar sound as Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor" and Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love." Steve Mac produces, who has produced hits for both The Wanted ("All Time Low," "Gold Forever") and JLS ("Beat Again," "The Club Is Alive").

"She Makes Me Wanna" is clubby too, although more oriented toward the current dominant sound that mixes dance, pop and R&B into one frothy concoction. So it sounds a lot like their last single, "Eyes Wide Shut," which I wasn't wild about.

"Glad You Came" is out July 10. "She Makes Me Wanna" follows a couple weeks later July 24. Both songs started getting airplay in early June, which puts quite a long time between that and when the singles come out. Definitely not following the on-air-on-sale movement with these.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

UK Singles Chart, July 2, 2011

1. Don't Wanna Go Home - Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo scores his second #1 hit with the first single from his forthcoming second album. "Don't Wanna Go Home" is the singer's fourth single to reach the top 3, a set that includes his first #1 hit--last year's "In My Head."

We're halfway through the year now. This week last year, Katy Perry's "California Gurls" was #1--the year's 15th #1 hit. YTD, "Don't Wanna Go Home" is only the year's 12th #1 hit, meaning the #1s are coming a bit slower so far this year, a condition brought on by having a #1 hit that spent 6 weeks at #1 (Adele's "Someone Like You") and one that spent 4 weeks (LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem").

7. Badman Riddum (Jump) - Vato Gonzales feat. Foreign Beggars

This is the kind of never-heard-of-'em dance act that used to routinely top the UK singles chart. In fact, this really sounds like something from the mid '90s. Of course, it's a Ministry of Sound release.

8. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga enjoy a nice revival this week, with "The Edge of Glory" climbing 8 spots to return to the top 10. Was it just the video that brought it renewed interest? Perhaps, although it's interesting to note that her album returns to #1 too, knocking Take That from its 1-week return with Progressed.

11. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry has the biggest mover in the top 40, up 13 notches this week. She's also the beneficiary of increased buzz thanks to an impressive music video release. Certainly we can expect to see this in the top 10 next week.

21. Notorious - The Saturdays

Lady Gaga's turnaround is surprisingly, but not too bizarre. That The Saturday's "Notorious" has made a turnaround is much more of a surprise. After debuting at #8, the single quickly fell to #21 and then #33. Presumably, it would have been gone last week, except that it wasn't, instead climbing 7 notches to #26 and this week another 5 to #21. Apparently, this is due to its physical release, which didn't coincide with its digital release. Still, it looks pretty odd.

23. Set Fire to the Rain - Adele

Only a slight bump for Adele this week, who's up 2 notches to #23, despite her new single being #4 on the airplay chart last week. I hope this has a strong showing after its single release next week. It's another great song from her.

27. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People

American indie pop group Foster the People scores their first top 40 hit as their single "Pumped Up Kicks" debuts at #27. This band arrived with little fanfare (at least I didn't see any), but has built quite a bit of late.

31. Judas - Lady Gaga

In the US, this fell like a rock after attention shifted to "The Edge of Glory." Interesting that in Britain it's managed to hold on a bit longer.

40. Fast Car - Tracy Chapman

Worth noting only because it's probably the only time one of my entries in the Essential Albums of the '80s is going to also have a mention as generating a current top 40 single.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman (1988)

In 1988, were people really talking about a revolution? Reagan was enjoying the last year of his popular presidency, the cold war was still on, the Berlin Wall was still up and AIDS was a scary thing few people understood (and many many fewer people had than today). I suppose revolution was just around the corner, and while Miss Chapman was already talking about it, I guess the rest of us weren't but should've been (hey, my excuse is that I was only 11). On her compelling debut, she sings about that and a lot of other things. It's cornerstone is still "Fast Car," Chapman's biggest early-career hit that's an African-American woman's answer to Bruce Springsteen, riding similar themes of working class angst, romance and escape. It's a moving song that endures today (it hit #4 in Britain just a few weeks ago, enjoying a surprising revival). Almost is good is "Baby Can I Hold You," which Boyzone would turn into a hit 9 years later.

On "Across the Lines," the album's lush acoustic arrangement might mask the fact that the song is about racial tension if you're not listening carefully. There's no pretty arrangement to mask the bitter sadness of "Behind the Wall," a powerful a cappella moment about a woman who can hear the screaming of a neighbor woman being beaten by her husband. Other highlights include the warm, African rhythms of "Mountains O' Things" and the burning guitar rock of "For My Lover."

Best: Fast Car, Talkin' Bout a Revolution, Behind the Wall, Baby Can I Hold You, For My Lover

New Album Releases - July 2011

July is usually not a good month for new albums. This year, it's downright depressing. I mean really. There aren't any albums coming out that really interest me and only a few that I think are even worth mentioning.


None....unless the rumors that the Kanye West and Jay-Z collaboration, Watch the Throne, are proven true (it's speculated that the album will be released on the 4th of July).

Other releases

Jay Sean - Freeze Time (July 5). British R&B singer puts out his fourth album, featuring recent hit with Nicki Minaj, "2012 (It Ain't the End)."

Dionne Bromfield - Good for the Soul (July 5). British R&B singer releases her second album, featuring recent singles "Yeah Right" and "Foolin'."

3 Doors Down - Time of My Life (July 19). Snoozer of a rock band releases its fifth album.

August looks better, with the debut album from Wretch 32 and new albums from Hard-Fi, Will Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Taio Cruz and possibly The Ting Tings. Plus Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV, which got pushed from June.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, July 2, 2011

1. Rolling in the Deep - Adele

Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" stays at #1 for a 7th week, officially making it the longest-running #1 hit of 2011 and the second-longest running #1 hit so far this decade behind Kesha's 10-week run for "Tik Tok." This is surely Adele's last week at #1, as three #1 hopefuls are breathing hotly (very hotly) down her back. Of course, she's had an amazing run with this song which, in addition to topping the Hot 100, has been #1 on Digital Songs, Radio Songs, Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs, Adult Contemporary, Triple A and, as the year's biggest multi-format smash, has also shown up on the charts for alternative songs, rock songs, dance club/play songs--even hip-hop/R&B songs and Latin songs. Wow!

2. Give Me Everything - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer
3. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock

These have been the strongest contenders to unseat Adele, and one of them may get their shot next week, although the song at #4 this week may steal their thunder. Pitbull, in particular, looks to be slipping, with his sales down 5 percent this week. LMFAO earns Airplay Gainer this week.

4. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry rockets up 27 notches to #4 with "Last Friday Night (TGIF)," the fifth single from her album Teenage Dream, which follows in the wake of the albums previous four #1 hits to becomes its fifth straight top 5 single. With the song's video out this week, it's showing amazing momentum, and there is little doubt in my mind it will be at #1 hit, if not next week, then the week after. It's currently the fastest-growing track at top 40 radio, where it has quickly climbed up to #12.

Teenage Dream is the first album since Fergie's The Dutchess (2006) to score five top 5 hits. Fergie did it with "London Bridge" (#1), "Fergalicious" (#2), "Glamorous" (#1), "Big Girls Don't Cry" (#1), and "Clumsy" (#5). If "Last Friday Night" hits #1, it will become only the second album ever to score five #1 hits. Only Michael Jackson's Bad has ever achieved that feat.

6. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga

Not much to report on the song this week, which holds at #6 with a bullet (although with its video out, expect some growth next week). Just wanted to note the passing of the song's saxophone soloist, Clarence Clemons, a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band who died Saturday at age 69.

16. Lighters - Bad Meets Evil featuring Bruno Mars

I saw this on the UK chart this week and just shrugged it off as some sort of dance act with a Bruno Mars vocal. Well that was pretty dumb, since 1) it's a decent song and 2) it's by Eminem, not some anonymous dance act. Oops! Bad Meets Evil is a collaboration between Eminem and Detroit rapper Royce da 5'9". "Lighters" is the highest entry in the Hot 100 this week, in at #16. This is Bruno Mars' 6th top 40 hit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lady Gaga: The Edge of Glory

The video for "The Edge of Glory" came out late last week. It's probably the least interesting video she's made. It's certainly simple by comparison to most of her others, which maybe serves to actually make it seem pretty unique for her. Definitely fits in with the '80s influence--videos were generally so much simpler then and we still loved them.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: The Police - Synchronicity (1983)

"Every Breath You Take" is The Police's most well-known hit and widely misunderstood as a love song when it's really about obsession, jealousy and surveillance (i.e. stalking). It's also not very representative of its parent album, which is much more experimental and new wave-oriented than that pop tune would suggest. "Synchronicity I" opens the album with an insistent keyboard refrain reminiscent of what might start an evening newscast, followed by the more tribal sounding "Walking in Your Footsteps," both of which have a repetitious character that reminds me of the Talking Heads album I covered a few months ago. By the time you get to manic, off-kilter "Mother" and "Miss Gradenko," you know you're in fairly experimental territory.

But then on the second half of the album, it shifts towards more conventional pop territory. "Synchronicity II" has a strong guitar melody, making it the most assertive of the album's hit singles. "King of Pain" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" are softer, with the former scored prominently at first with piano and then synths, with the latter starting quietly, almost ominously as it builds toward its bolder chorus. "Every Breath You Take" requires little explanation--it is a timeless, classic pop record, even if it is erroneously appropriated for wedding reception music (Dido's "Don't Leave Home" would later suffer the same fate). The moody, jazzy tracks "Tea in the Sahara" and "Murder By Numbers" shift the album away from its pop core for the closing.

An interesting and exciting album, that I'm sure for fans was a real disappointment to have never been followed up, since it was the band's final album.

Best: Every Breath You Take, Synchronicity II, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Synchronicity I

Kaiser Chiefs - The Future Is Medieval

Ever since Radiohead offered In Rainbows online for whatever price one was willing to pay, the race has been on to see who could come up with the next clever way to market a new album.

I think Kaiser Chiefs have found it in the creative strategy for their new album, The Future Is Medieval. On their official site, there is a tool that allows you to preview 20 potential tracks for the album, from which can select 10 songs in any order to form your own personalized version of The Future Is Medieval. From there, you get to design the album's cover art and then, using Paypal, you can purchase your customized album for about $12 (£7.50). Finally, your special version of the album--complete with custom artwork--is available for other people to buy (for those who presumably don't want to be bothered with the work of choosing and ordering the songs).

If you click on the banner below you can see (and buy) my custom version of the album. A full physical release is due to follow in a couple of weeks, although not all 20 tracks will appear on it. The cover above is the custom artwork I designed.


Album Review: Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys (4/5)

A friend of mine recently asked me if I liked The Postal Service (the band, not the government agency), and I said no, and then she asked me if I liked Death Cab for Cutie and I said "of course," to which she replied "you know they're the same guy?" I didn't, although it makes me appreciate the musical talent of the band's singer Ben Gibbard even more that he can make electronic indie pop with one act and indie rock with another that, at least to me, sound pretty different.

I'm not a long-term devotee of the band, although I did enjoy their fifth album, Plans (2005). Codes and Keys has a lighter, less folksy touch than that record, but still possesses a gentle, almost tentative sound that's welcoming in an age of so much musical bombast. Even in its most propulsive moments, the album never goes too. "Codes and Keys" has a layered rock sound with prominent piano and strings, pushing them toward a sound like Arcade Fire's, but not quite as grandiose. "Some Boys" stays in a lush rock vein, although with a more laid back tempo and more emphasis on the guitar. Same with "Underneath the Sycamore," which swells to include guitar, keyboards, drums, strings and horns by the end. Speaking of epic swells, nothing beats "St. Peter's Cathedral," which provides the album's moments of greatest grandeur.

Several songs have long instrumental passages, so long in fact that you almost expect they won't actually be songs. "Doors Unlocked and Open" doesn't introduce its vocals until 1:30 into it. "Unobstructed Views" takes even longer, 3:05! Not that I'm complaining, for these instrumental segments that slowing build the songs melody, allowing for a certain kind of deconstructed approach. It creates a lot of repetition, although I don't mind that. Gibbard can sound a bit like a drama queen at times, like he really should be on a stage and not in the recording studio. That's the sense I get with "Portable Television," which sounds a bit "musical theater" to me.

"Home Is a Fire" has a repetitious, laid-back feel not unlike the electronic music I love by Air or Radiohead in a not-too-weird moment. The album's first single, "You Are a Tourist" has a similar vibe. It's a nice sound: guitar and keyboard rock that gently pulls you in rather than hits you over the head. It's the kind of song you expect could get selected for an iTunes ad. Same for the wistful, acoustic-guitar backed closer "Stay Young, Go Dancing," which is almost too happy for its own good. But if you were a straight guy married to Zooey Deschanel, you'd probably be pretty happy too.

Best: Codes and Keys, You Are a Tourist, Some Boys, Home Is a Fire

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, June 25, 2011

1. Rolling in the Deep - Adele (1)

Adele spends a sixth week at #1 on the Hot 100, equaling Lady Gaga's 6-week run for "Born This Way," and thus tying Gaga for longest-running #1 hit so far this year. Based on what I reported last week, this makes "Rolling in the Deep" the longest-running US #1 for a British female artist. "Rolling in the Deep" continues to be #1 on Radio Songs, Digital Songs, Pop Songs and Adult Pop Songs. Is there any doubt that we're looking at the defining hit of 2011? Unless something pretty amazing comes along in the 2nd half of the year, I think this is it.

Her album, 21, unseats Lady Gaga's Born This Way after 2 weeks at #1, giving 21 now 10 weeks total at the top. That's a pretty amazing run on the albums chart, considering that it's turnover at #1 is generally a weekly occurrence.

2. Give Me Everything - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer (2)
3. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock (6)

Pitbull and LMFAO are starting to look competitive as possible songs to succeed Adele at #1. "Give Me Everything" is #2 at Radio Songs and Digital Songs, although he's still getting about 15 percent fewer audience impressions at radio and, although his sales are only 6 percent behind hers, they are now slipping (as are hers and faster though).

"Party Rock Anthem," a song that originally annoyed me but has grown on me, climbs three notches to #3 and is this week's Airplay Gainer.

6. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga (7)

Lady Gaga climbs another notch to #6. The song has turned into a significant hit at Top 40 radio, where it is currently the second-fastest gainer behind Katy Perry's new single "Last Friday Night (TGIF)." Gaga's video is set to debut tonight on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance reality show.

9. Dirt Road Anthem - Jason Aldean (feat. Ludacris) (23)

A country song in the top 10? That doesn't happen these days unless it's Taylor Swift, but Jason Aldean, who's best known for his John Deere ode "Big Green Tractor," has shown he's got an eye for pop sensibility too (his second-biggest hit was last year's Kelly Clarkson duet, "Don't You Wanna Stay"). This time he teams up with rapper Ludacris for a remix of this single, the sales of which accounts for about half of its total. Rappers and country artists don't sound like a typical combination, but remember that Nelly and Tim McGraw hit pay dirt with their 2004 collaboration, "Over and Over," which hit #3 on the Hot 100 and was a massive, massive hit at top 40 radio (10 weeks at #1). This is Aldean's first top 10 hit and this week's Digital Gainer.

10. Super Bass - Nicki Minaj (11)

A big round of applause is due Nicki Minaj this week, who finally scores her first top 10 hit as lead artist. Starting with last year's "Your Love," the singer has had four singles reach the top 40 (with "Your Love" and "Moment 4 Life" reaching the top 20), but none have breached the top 10, although Minaj has appeared in the top 10 on Trey Songz "Bottoms Up" (#6) and Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" remix (#3).

14. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay (29)

Last week I erroneously identified this as Coldplay's sixth top 40 hit. It is in fact their seventh (I forgot about "Lost+," which hit #40). This week the track climbs 15 notches to become their third top 20 hit. I expect it will drop next week, since it's not really showing well at radio. This climb is attributed to it getting a full week of sales, whereas last week was only a partial.

21. Honey Bee - Blake Shelton (19)
28. Country Girl - Luke Bryan (41)
29. Knee Deep - Zac Brown Band feat. Jimmy Buffett (38)

Lots of country in the top 40 this week. Must be selling well.

31. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry (63)

Katy Perry scores her 10th top 40 this week as her fifth Teenage Dream single ascends 32 places to #31. I expect the track will rocket up the chart--it could even become another #1. It's the fastest growing track at top 40 radio and is currently #1 at iTunes. With "E.T." still in the top 10 and "Firework" at #40, Perry has three tracks in the top 40 this week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Katy Perry "Last Friday Night (TGIF)"

So what's Debbie Gibson doing these days? Apparently starring in Katy Perry's latest video, along with Corey Feldman, Glee's Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, Rebecca Black, Kenny G and Hanson. I thought this song was pretty ridiculous on the album, but as a single, it's actually pretty fun and this video is great. Who's that hot guy Katy beds?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Album Review: Take That - Progressed (4.5/5)

Take That's Progress was a remarkable pop album, surprisingly forward-facing with its smart Stuart Price production. It was the Christmas season's biggest seller in the UK--spending 6 weeks at #1 to become the year's best-selling album. As wonderful as it is though, it's shelf-life has proven to be remarkably short, with the album's singles after "The Flood" failing to gain much traction.

So here comes an EP, Progressed, to rejuvenate the project just in time for Take That's summer tour. Sold as a double album, Progressed contains an EP of eight new songs plus Progress as a second disc. Here on in, I'm referring to Progressed only as the new material.

These are obviously leftovers from the recording of Progress, but as that album was so great, these cuts are in no way inferior, although they do at times sound like the Progress songs that made the cut. The opening synth chords of "The Day the Work Is Done," recalls the opening of "SOS," although it proceeds on a smoother melody, making it more like "Wait." "Love Love" has a stomping beat similar to "Kidz."

There's a bit more '80s flavor present here. "Aliens" in particular, which borrows its beat from Michael Jackson's "Thriller." It's certainly got a quick pulse to it. As does "Man," which, like some of Progress, recalls Pet Shop Boys.

The biggest departure from the Progress sound comes on first track, a gentle guitar-backed ballad "When We Were Young," which sounds like a very Robbie-esque song. It's an epic song that reminisces about the group's youthful years of massive popularity in the '90s. It's the only track that Williams provides lead vocal on.

Like the album, it's hard to pick standouts, since all the tracks are good, although I must say there's no hands-down standout like "The Flood." "Don't Say Goodbye" has a rather epic sweep to it, with sweeping cinematic strings blending with buzzing synths and a dance beat. It's moodiness is balanced by the breezier "Beautiful" and the gentle grandeur of closing track "Wonderful World."

As an EP, Progressed is not quite a wonderful as a full new album would be, but it's pretty amazing nonetheless and almost as satisfying as Progress was in its breadth, willingness to experiment (a bit) and top-notch production.

Best: When We Were Young, Love Love, The Day the Work Is Done, Man, Don't Say Goodbye

Shania Twain Returns

Country/pop singer Shania Twain released a new single yesterday, "Today Is Your Day," her first single in 6 years. It's the first release from her forthcoming fifth studio album. The ballad hits all the right notes to garner AC radio, with its big piano and strings production, but with just a touch of banjo to let country stations know it's okay if they play it too.

Twain hasn't put out an album since 2002's Up!, which was her second album to score with both country and pop audiences after her landmark 1997 album, Come on Over. The singer has scored seven #1 hits on the US country chart, starting with "Any Man of Mine" from her 1995 album, The Woman in Me. She is best known for her Come on Over singles that were big crossover hits: "You're Still the One," "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman."

Divorce seems to agree with Twain, who looks quite content on the single's cover. I suppose being showered with money (royalty checks) every once in awhile can't hurt.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

UK Singles Chart, June 18, 2011

1. Changed the Way You Kiss Me - Example (NEW)

British dance/hip-hop act Example lands his first #1 hit with the first single from his forthcoming third album. More of a club record than a rap track--its rapped verses with sung choruses recalls the early '90s dance tracks where this was quite popular (Snap! and C&C Music Factory, for example). Example's career on the chart has been steadily building. He scored his first top 40 hit in 2009 with "Watch the Sun Come Up" (#19). The following year, he hit #6 with "Won't Go Quietly" and then scored his best-known hit to date, "Kickstarts" (#3). Earlier this year he reached #2 as guest on Wretch 32's big hit single, "Unorthodox."

3. Right There - Nicole Scherzinger feat. 50 Cent (14)

Ms. Scherzinger climbs 11 notches to #3, scoring her third straight solo top 10 hit. The new single matches the success of her album's first single, "Poison," even if it falls slightly short of the #1 placing of her last single, "Don't Hold Your Breath," which is still in the top 40 at #36 this week.

6. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay (NEW)

Coldplay's new single "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" storms onto the chart at #6, becoming the group's 11th top 10 hit. While to some this may look like a disappointment to not be in the top 5, but actually Coldplay has never performed like gangbusters on the singles chart. They've had only the one #1 hit ("Viva La Vida") and in fact this #6 placing is better than they did with their last album's first single, "Violet Hill," which reached only #8. Coldplay's strength is on the albums chart, where their new disc will likely take on Adele for 2011's biggest-seller.

13. Fast Car - Tracy Chapman (28)

When this 1988 single got its recent resurgence, it went as high as #4. Then 2 weeks ago it was back down to #40. Now back up to #13. It just won't die. It must be this year's "Make Me Feel My Love" (which mercifully is not in the top 40 this week).

17. Don't Stop the Party - Black Eyed Peas (30)

The Peas are up 13 spots this week with their new single, the follow-up to "Just Can't Get Enough." This single has not yet taken off in the US.

21. Monster - Paramore (NEW)

Paramore scores their fourth top 40 hit. They hit #31 last year with "The Only Exception," a song that was a comparatively bigger hit in the US, where it seemed to stick around forever.

25. Easy Please Me - Katy B (41)

Katy B scores her fifth top 40 hit, although falls short of the top 10 placings she's achieved with her previous three singles. Perhaps this will rise a bit, but I'm not expecting anything dramatic, as frankly this wasn't one of the album's standout tracks for me.

27. Beat of My Drum - Nicola Roberts (NEW)

Nicola becomes the fourth member of Girls Aloud to reach the top 40 solo. Of course Cheryl Cole remains the most successful--by a wide margin--having scored two #1 hits plus several other top 10s. Kimberly Walsh reached the top 10 early this year as a featured vocalist on Aggro Santos' "Like U Like," and Nadine Coyle, who hit #26 last year with he first single.

32. I Giorni - Ludovico Einaudi (NEW)

An instrumental piano composition in the top 40? How extraordinary. Einaudi is an Italian composer and pianist. Not sure why it's appearing on the chart, but nice to hear something different.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: Bobby Brown - Don't Be Cruel (1988)

New Jack Swing was a style of pop music that came to prominence in the late '80s thanks to producer Teddy Riley, as well as Babyface, who with L.A. Reid produced this album. The sound combined elements of pop, R&B and hip-hop--not too dissimilar to what's been popular in recent years. While Keith Sweat's 1987 hit "I Want Her" was the first major hit to use the sound, Bobby Brown's second album, Don't Be Cruel, became the sound's flagship when it became the best-selling album of 1989, generating five top 10 hits. The album's singles are all front-loaded and generally the album's best moments, with the upbeat tracks like #1 single "My Prerogative" and bouncy "Every Little Step" aging better than the treacly ballads "Roni" and "Rock Wit'Cha." As was the common practice back then, most of the album's later singles were slightly remixed when released, which means "Every Little Step" and "Roni," in particular, don't sound as fresh as you might remember. However, they are better than the album's second half, which can be disregarded.

Brown would go on to marry Whitney Houston, put out another semi-successful album, 1992's Bobby, which featured a couple of big hits ("Humpin' Around" and "Good Enough"), and then slowly decline amid tabloid stories of his tumultuous relationship with Houston and an ill-conceived reality TV show.

Best: My Prerogative, Every Little Step, Don't Be Cruel, Roni

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, June 18, 2011

1. Rolling in the Deep - Adele

Adele spends a fifth week at #1 with "Rolling in the Deep." That's the longest stay atop the Hot 100 for a British artist in 14 years. Back in 1997, Elton John topped the list for 14 weeks with "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight," which is the longest a song by a British artist has been #1 (and is tied with 5 other songs for the second-longest run ever). Among British female artists, Adele is tied with Lulu's "To Sir with Love," which also spent 5 weeks at #1 back in 1967 (for a great rundown of British ladies with American #1s, check out The Billboard Files).

British artists in general may be enjoying a comeback on the Hot 100. Back in the '80s, it was very common for Brits to top the Hot 100. That decade saw 67 #1 hits from British artists, including 13 in the year 1985 (half the year's #1s). Since then, there's been a big drop off however, with 10 #1s during the '90s and only four during the '00s. And in fact there were none at all for an over 8-year stretch between the beginning of 1998 and early 2006. But since 2006, there have been six, most of which were also #1s in the UK ("Rolling in the Deep" is one of the two that weren't, along with Jay Sean's "Down").

2. Give Me Everything - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer
4. The Lazy Song - Bruno Mars
6. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & Goonrock

Pitbull & Co. hold at #2. The song is #2 on Digital Songs and #3 at radio (as well as this week's Airplay Gainer), so while it's still a potential #1 challenger, it's just not quite there yet. Expect another week at #1 for Adele. Bruno Mars and LMFAO are also climbing in the top 10. Take note that, while a British song that didn't hit #1 in Britain tops the US chart, the next three songs currently climbing the chart are all former (or current) UK #1s by Americans. Interesting.

7. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga

The Lady climbs another notch to #7, regaining her ground on her initial debut at #3. She's actually climbing on Digital Songs this week and making great strides at radio. She'll probably get back into the top 5 for sure, but #1 will be a big stretch.

12. How to Love - Lil Wayne

I think I said something about Lil Wayne's new album, Tha Carter IV, lacking a launch hit single. He rectifies that this week with "How to Love," which marches up 57 notches this week thanks to strong sales (it's this week's Sales Gainer). Not a bad song either actually. Softer, more pop-oriented than we're used to hearing from him.

29. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay

This week's highest debut on the Hot 100 comes from British band Coldplay, with "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall," presumably the first single from their soon-expected fifth album. This is the group's sixth top 40 hit, following "Clocks" (#29), "Speed of Sound" (#8), "Violet Hill" (#40), "Viva La Vida" (#1) and "Christmas Lights" (#25).

40. She Ain't You - Chris Brown

Chris Brown scores his third top 40 hit from his recent album F.A.M.E. with "She Ain't You," follow-up to recent top 10 hit "Look at Me Now." "She Ain't You" includes a sample-within-a-sample, as it samples SWV's 1993 #2 hit "Right Here/Human Nature," which itself sampled Michael Jackson's 1983 #7 hit "Human Nature."

Sunday, June 05, 2011

UK Singles Chart, June 11, 2011

1. Give Me Everything - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer

Pitbull spends a third week at #1 with "Give Me Everything," only the third single so far this year to lodge that much time in the top spot. Both of the prior two--Adele's "Someone Like You" and LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"--both went on to spend a fourth week at #1.

2. I Need a Dollar - Aloe Blacc
3. Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan

Most of the songs that have been popular on the British singles chart this year have also been hits in the US. These two singles are notable exceptions. As far as I know, neither have been promoted much in the US yet. I'd say they could be contenders for #1 next week, although Coldplay's new single may prevent that (we'll see--Coldplay doesn't exactly have a strong record of #1s).

6. What a Feeling - Alex Gaudino feat. Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland continues to show she can nab hits so long as she's paired up with another hot act--either from hip-hop or dance pop. David Guetta, in particular, has given her a #1 hit with "When Love Takes Over" and a top 10 hit last year, "Commander." This time she's paired up with Italian DJ Alex Gaudino, giving Rowland her 8th top 10 hit while scoring his third.

8. California King Bed - Rihanna

Rihanna scores her 18th top 10 hit as "California King Bed" climbs 12 notches to #8. It's the fourth top 10 hit from her fifth album, Loud, which is the most top 10 hits she's launched off an album without the benefit of a re-release (her 2007 album, Good Girl Gone Bad, had three top 10 hits and then two more with new songs off its 2008 special edition).

10. I'm Into You - Jennifer Lopez feat. Lil Wayne

Jennifer Lopez scores her 16th top 10 hit, up three notches this week and just three rungs above her previous release, #1 single "On the Floor," which drops a notch to #13. The track gives Lil Wayne a rare top 10 hit. He's never had one on his own, and as far I can tell, has only appeared in the top 10 twice before--on Destiny's Child's "Soldier" (#4 in 2005) and on Jay Sean's "Down" (#3 in 2009).

11. Nobody's Perfect - Jessie J

A bit of a rebound for this one, up three spots, but not enough to send it back into the top 10. Compared with "Do It Like a Dude" and "Price Tag," which were such big hits, this single isn't nearly on par. Time will tell whether that's a one-off or a correction.

21. Notorious - The Saturdays

Drops like a stone--down 13 this week. Further proof that their time may be done unless they can make up for this poor single with an excellent follow-up.

26. One Big Family - Templecloud

I discovered this great single this week. It debuted at #24 last week, and drops just a bit this week. Really gorgeous, epic pop song. I'd love to see this really catch on. A bit Adele-like, but has its own charms for sure.

34. Make You Feel My Love - Adele

Adele's third single from 21, "Set Fire to the Rain," was added to Radio 1's playlist within the last couple weeks. It's a really fantastic song. Yet it's not the single Adele enters the top 40 with this week, but rather another turn for this oldie, which refuses to die.

40. Love Love - Take That

Usually when a single falls 42 notches over the course of 2 weeks, you can rest assured that it's over. Yet, "Love Love" inexplicably rebounds 17 notches to reappear in the top 40 this week. Not that I mind, as I'm sure you're all aware I'm a Take That fan. What's behind it? The movie coming out? Some appearance?

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: Madonna - Like a Virgin (1984)

All of Madonna's '80s output is well regarded, but Like a Virgin gets the least amount of love among the four albums. Madonna has been riding a retro popularity wave for being most like the '80s sound that's currently en vogue, Like a Prayer is generally regarded as one of her best albums of any era and True Blue is considered better by comparison. But Like a Virgin should not be disregarded, for I find it offers up a lot of charm.

It certainly has a special place in my heart and historically, it's probably Madonna's most important album, since it's the one that made her a superstar. Madonna was a hit, but not a megahit, producing a couple of top 10 hits. That's on par with a launch of the likes of Pink in 2000 or Rihanna in 2005, but not a star-making turn on par with what Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce or Lady Gaga achieved with their debuts. That success came with Like a Virgin, which shifted ever so slightly away from the pure dance pop territory of Madonna toward a more mainstream sound.

It's also the first album where Madonna showed she had some sass, dressing up as an over-sexualized bride on the album's cover, a iconic image captured by Steven Meisel (who would later shoot her 1992 controversial coffee table book, Sex). The title track may have "virgin" in its title, but it's got sex on its mind with Madonna delivering her most kittenish vocal over the memorable hook. It was her first US #1, spending 6 weeks in the top spot. Almost as memorable was the album's second single, "Material Girl," a satirical take on the '80s obsession with equating money and love that, for better or worse, gave the singer a long-lasting nickname.

It's two lesser singles are decent too. Although I used to find the name-dropping fashion-focused "Dress You Up" to be more appealing, these days I'm more into "Angel," which sounds most stuck-in-time of any of this album's singles. It couldn't have come from any other time other than 1984 and I love it for that. Madonna co-wrote the song with Stephen Bray, who would go on to collaborate with her on True Blue, Who's That Girl Soundtrack and Like a Prayer. Among the album cuts, the two closing numbers, "Stay" and "Pretender" are better than the slower songs. I used to really be into "Over and Over," but after 25 years, I'm a little tired of it.

Like a Virgin is Madonna's best-selling album in the US. It was certified diamond for 10 million copies shipped, a feat equaled only by her greatest hits set, The Immaculate Collection. Sure, the Nile Rodgers production is really dated, but for it's time, it was great pop music. A true '80s classic.

Best: Like a Virgin, Material Girl, Angel, Dress You Up, Stay

Friday, June 03, 2011