Sunday, July 31, 2011

UK Singles Chart, August 6, 2011

1.(NEW) She Makes Me Wanna - JLS (feat. Dev)

JLS are straight in at #1 with "She Makes Me Wanna," the lead single from the groups forthcoming third album. It's the group's fifth #1 hit after "Beat Again," "Everybody in Love," "The Club Is Alive" and "Love You More." That's a significant milestone, for it makes JLS not just the act among X Factor alums with the most #1 hits but among all artists launched from the recent slate of UK reality singing competitions. With "Love You More," the group's fourth #1, they were already head of the X Factor pack, beating the three #1s each for Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke. Within this fifth one, they edge ahead of Pop Idol's Will Young and Gareth Gates, who each had four #1s and Girls Aloud, who formed on PopStars: The Rivals, and also have had four #1s.

8.(Re-entry) Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
[27.(Re-entry) Tears Dry on Their Own - Amy Winehouse]
[29.(Re-entry) Rehab - Amy Winehouse]
[33.(Re-entry) Love Is a Losing Game - Amy Winehouse]
[37.(Re-entry) You Know I'm No Good - Amy Winehouse]

The untimely death of Amy Winehouse brought on a predictable slate of tribute buying. Interestingly, the song overwhelming chosen by the British public to remember her most was not one of her biggest hits--2006's "Rehab" (#7) or 2007's "Valerie" (with Mark Ronson), but rather the appropriately dark single "Back to Black," which previously peaked at #25 but this week re-enters the chart at #8, becoming the singer's third top 10 hit. Joining "Back to Black" in the top 40 are four other Winehouse singles, including "Love Is a Losing Game," which appears in the top 40 for the first time, becoming her 7th top 40 hit. Two versions of "Valerie" also charted just outside the top 40.

On the albums chart, Winehouse's acclaimed 2006 album Back to Black--the source of all five of her singles in the top 40 this week--returns to #1, spending a fifth week at #1. Her first album, Frank (2003) re-enters at #5, making its first appearance in the top 10 after previously peaking at #13. Rounding out the top 10 at #10 is the double album set of Back to Black and Frank.

The tribute buying is reminiscent of what happened in the wake of Michael Jackson's death 2 years ago. In July 2009, his death saw the return of 13 of his singles into the top 40, including "Man in the Mirror" at #2. He also made a good dent in the albums chart, particularly with the compilation albums Number Ones and The Essential Michael Jackson, which both hit #1.

10.(12) Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
[19.(15) Where Them Girls At - David Guetta (feat. Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj)]

Nicki Minaj scores her first top 10 hit as a lead artist as "Super Bass" climbs two spots to #10. As a featured artist, she hit #9 last year on Jay Sean's "2012 (It Ain't the End of the World)" and #3 earlier this year on David Guetta's "Where Them Girls At," which is still in the top 20 this week.

16.(NEW) Let Me Go - Maverick Sabre

Maverick Sabre scores his first top 40 as lead artist as his "Let Me Go" debuts at #16. I'm disappointed this didn't make the top 10, as I like it quite a bit. Sabre previously hit #31 as a featured artist on Professor Green's "Jungle."

Essential Albums of the '80s: Billy Joel - Glass Houses (1980)

The cover of Billy Joel's Glass Houses is a photo of the singer, rock in hand, ready to throw it throw a modern home's large plate-glass window--shattering both the window and his image. Joel had proven he wasn't afraid to make grand statements: With "The Entertainer," de'd already taken swipes at fickle music critics and programmers intent on editing his sometimes longer songs down to "radio edits." With Glass Houses, Joel attempted to break his pop crooner image with a more rock-oriented sound.

It's an image that's well-worth exploring, cultivated at the time Joel was at the height of his career. This summit arguably began in 1977 with his fifth album, The Stranger, the first he'd record with producer Phil Ramone, with whom Joel would record six albums. The Stranger became by far Joel's biggest to date, eventually being RIAA-certified Diamond in the US. It's generally regarded as his best album. It was followed in 1978 by 52nd Street, which also achieved tremendous success, going 7-times platinum and winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. To put context to Glass Houses, I bought both of these albums and, although I've never thought myself a Joel fan, they've really won me over. Both albums feature a compelling mix of finely crafted upbeat pop songs and piano ballads, all delivered with a deft sense of showmanship. You can see why his music lent itself to becoming a Broadway musical.

That brings us to 1980's Glass Houses, which, on "You May Be Right," begins with the sound of breaking glass before breaking into a rollicking guitar-based tune. Joel's voice sounds different now--raspier, rawer and deeper. That he's taking a different tack is immediately obvious. "Sometimes a Fantasy" follows with a very '80s sounding bass line. Like a lot of Joel songs there's a story here, one about a lonely man seeking out some late-night phone sex. There's little piano here until you get to "All for Leyna," which features pounding keys and electric guitar. No crooning balladry here.

"Don't Ask Me Why" is comparatively lighter, more in the spirit of his late '70s work. Despite its title, so is "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," which goes for a new wave sound and manages to sound a bit retro too. It's a great song, which became Joel's first song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Most of the songs that were singles are highlights, but even many of the album tracks are good. "Sleeping with the Television On" has a bright piano and guitar melody and among the couple of ballads that come toward the end of the album, I like the gentle "Through the Long Night," on which Joel thankfully abandons his "rock" singing voice to harmonize with himself.

Glass Houses is good, but I don't care for it as much as his previous two albums. It might not rock out as much as he'd hoped, as these are still pop songs at their core, and while I think it's admirable to attempt a new sound, his softer pop sound was so great that it's a shame he didn't hold it in higher esteem. I've read that critics weren't a fan of Joel's work at the time and many skewered this album (read Rolling Stone's scathing review). They've since come around though: Rolling Stone's 2003 list of the 500 best albums of all time lists The Stranger at #67 and 52nd Street at #348.

Best: It's Still Rock and Roll to Me, You May Be Right, Sometimes a Fantasy, Don't Ask Me Why

Friday, July 29, 2011

Personal Chart, July 30, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, August 6, 2011

1.(1) Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO (feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock)

LMFAO spends a fourth week at #1, making "Party Rock Anthem" the fifth single this year to spend at least 4 weeks at #1. I expect this will be its last week at #1, although I said that last week and was wrong.

2.(3) Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry climbs another notch to #2, once again earning Airplay Gainer. She's now #2 at Digital Songs and #3 at Radio Songs, although critically, as of today, she's #1 at top 40 radio, having just inched LMFAO out of the top spot after 1 week at #1.

10.(17) Lighters - Bad Meets Evil (feat. Bruno Mars)

Bad Meets Evil, the rap duo that is 1/2 Eminem and one half some other guy (Royce da 5'9"), climbs 7 notches to #10, scoring their first top 10 hit and earning this week's Digital Gainer. Of course Eminem is no stranger to the top 10, having been there earlier this year on Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor," two other times as a featured artist and 11 times with his own hits. Featuring vocalist Bruno Mars scores his sixth top 10 hit.

38.(NEW) The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers are gearing up to release their 10th album, I'm With You. "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie," the album's first single, is their eighth top 40 hit and this week's highest Hot 100 debut.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Singles Serving

Emeli Sande - Heaven. My favorite song at the moment. Spectacularly epic, both downbeat and upbeat at the same time. I don't know who this woman is, but she's fantastic. Can't wait to hear more.

Maverick Sabre - Let Me Go. This first single from British singer/rapper Maverick Sabre is a real gem and I hope it makes the UK top 10 this week. If the song is reminiscent of Portishead's "Glory Box," it's because, like that song, it samples Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Rap 2."

Olly Murs feat. Rizzle Kicks - Heart Skips a Beat. Olly Murs returns! The X Factor runner-up, who by now has surely out-charted the man who beat hit him, returns with the first single from his second album. With Rizzle Kicks adding a nice assist (fresh from their own hit, "Down with the Trumpets"), this is the best single from Murs yet. It's got a '90s hip-hop beat over a vaguely reggae beat. Sounds great on the radio.

JLS feat. Dev - She Makes Me Wanna. JLS's clubby summer single--released to radio like 2 month ago--is finally this week. It's no "Beat Again," but it's much, much better than their last single, "Eyes Wide Shut." I expect it will be their fifth #1 hit this weekend and deservedly so.

Rihanna - Cheers (Drink to That). After three massive hits, Rihanna's Loud has sputtered a bit in the US. "California King Bed" failed to become a major hit, and its follow-up, "Man Down," was only worked at rhythmic radio, so it seems never intended to be big. The perfectly timed release of this breezy, warm track could turn things around for her though. It's a fun song, even with the silly Avril Lavigne sample. I expect it will be welcome in the late summer mix.

The Horrors - Still Life. Do the Horrors always sound like Simple Minds? They do a pretty good impression of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" with "Still Life," the first single from their upcoming album Skying.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

UK Singles Chart, July 30, 2011

1.(1) Glad You Came - The Wanted

The Wanted lead what is probably the most boring UK singles chart I can recall. It's a completely static top 5 and the top 10 has the same 10 songs as last week. About the only thing notable about this is that "Glad You Came" is now The Wanted's longest-running #1 hit, since "All Time Low" only spent a week at the top.

13.(21) I Need a Dollar - Aloe Blacc
21.(32) Dirty Dancer - Enrique Iglesias (feat. Usher & Lil Wayne)

With so many songs moving barely or not at all, any movement beyond 5 or so places stands out this week, such as these older songs that both rebound pretty decently.

22.(44) Down with the Trumpets - Rizzle Kicks

British hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks score their first top 40 hit. I expect at the end of the summer, they will have a much bigger hit as the featured artist on Olly Murs upcoming single, "Heart Skips a Beat"--a fun song I'm rather enjoying at the moment.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Dead at 27

The UK Press Association is reporting that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment. That's all I know so far.

It's such a shame. Her second album, Back to Black, is one of my all-time favorite albums--a true pop masterpiece.Now we'll never know if she had an even better set to give us.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Personal Chart, July 23, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 40 Airplay - Close Race for #1

I mentioned that it's possible LMFAO won't get a week at #1 at top 40 radio, since Katy Perry is gaining faster. But it's hard to say. Here's the Mediabase chart right now. Look at the current spins and spin gains. This is a close one!

Billboard Hot 100, July 23, 2011

1.(1) Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO (feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock)

LMFAO spends a third week at #1. It's still #1 on Digital Sales, despite declining this week. At radio, it's #3. At top 40 radio it's #2 but looks like it's going to be overtaken by Katy Perry and thus will miss #1.

3.(4) Last Friday Night - Katy Perry

Katy Perry earns the Airplay Gainer again and climbs a notch to #3. Can't you just feel #1 for this song? It's palpable. Next week...gotta be. It will definitely be #1 at top 40 radio next week, which will be her 7th #1 on that chart.

10.(NEW) Skyscraper - Demi Lovato

Fueled by very strong sales--she's #2 at Digital Songs--Disney star Demi Lovato makes a strong debut at #10 with her emotional ballad, "Skyscraper." This is her second top 10 hit, following her #9 single "This Is Me" with Joe Jonas from a couple years ago. Although the song barely had any airplay for this week, it's catching on at radio--at top 40, it's #73, up from #175, today. So there's definitely interest. Could probably become her first real mainstream hit.

17.(33) Lighters - Bad Meets Evil (feat. Bruno Mars)

Bad Meets Evil, which to most people is really Eminem and some other guy, is this week's Digital Gainer, climbing 16 notches to #17. It's also doing well at radio. This is Bruno Mars' sixth appearance in the top 20.

38.(46) Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People

This year's breakout indie pop group scores its first top 40 hit. I can't say I'm really into Foster the People, although for perhaps the most shallow of reasons, I am slightly more interested after looking them up this after noon (the bassist is hot).

39.(52) Right There - Nicole Scherzinger (feat. 50 Cent)

Nicole Scherzinger scores her first proper top 40 hit this week. She previously had a guest turn on Diddy's "Come to Me," which reached #9. "Right There" has cooled at top 40 lately, so I don't have high expectations for this going very far, although it's 13-notch move this week is pretty impressive. Maybe it's really picking up at rhythmic radio. Even if "Right There" isn't a major hit, it's still given people a taste of her away from PCD, and could well position "Don't Hold Your Breath," if it's released as the follow-up (which surely it will be, right?).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: Girl Groups

It was nearly impossible to look at a pop chart in the '90s and not see a girl pop group. From Wilson Phillips to Destiny's Child (and En Vogue, TLC, Spice Girls and All Saints in between), it was the decade where a trio or foursome of ladies was a ticket to chart gold. In the '00s, the concept faded in the US, although it remained big in the UK, thanks to Atomic Kitten, Sugababes, Girls Aloud and The Saturdays.

Although girl groups weren't as big in the '80s, there are a few great examples. Now, I'm not talking about girl bands--the territory of acts like The Bangles and The Go-Gos are a whole separate issue. These acts are singers only, like most of the acts I named above. Two albums, in particular, rise up as great examples of dance pop from both the decade's early post-disco era and its later, higher-paced sound that helped set the template for early '90s dance pop.

The Pointer Sisters - Break Out (1983)
The Pointer Sisters had quite a few hits in the '70s, but their biggest success came with the release of this album. Six tracks were released as singles, four of which reached the top 10 in the US. "Jump (for My Love)" was the album's biggest single, hitting #3 in 1984. The bubbly, synthesizer-heavy song was memorably used in the 2003 film Love Actually, which coincided with a remake by British girl group Girls Aloud. "Automatic" hit #2 in the UK and #5 in the US. It's a little more subdued and as such, I don't think it's quite as fun. I'm more a fan of "I'm So Excited," a song they brought forward to Break Out from their previous album. Although it had been a single and hit #30 earlier, it was re-released and it did even better, hitting #9 on the Hot 100. The song blends obviously synthetic and more natural keyboard sounds, which form the song's insistent melody. "Neutron Dance" was another top 10 hit, although it sounds the most dated of the album's big singles. Funky "Dance Electric" is also worth a spin, Best: I'm So Excited, Jump (for My Love), Dance Electric.

Exposé - Exposure (1987)
Miami-based Exposé got their start with this high-energy outing, which, like the Pointer Sisters' album, generated four top 10 hits. The album is mostly dance pop, drawing also from the Latin "freestyle" sound that was big at the time. "Come Go with Me," "Point of No Return" and "Let Me Be The One" are all similar and all similarly fun uptempo pop songs. "Point of No Return" is particularly good with its stabbing synthesized bass notes. Lots of other songs on the album fall in this vein. The biggest departure though is "Seasons Change," a saxophone-backed pop ballad which, when released as the album's fourth and final single, became the group's biggest hit when it topped the Billboard Hot 100. Best: Seasons Change, Point of No Return, Come Go with Me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

UK Singles Chart, July 23, 2011

1.(NEW) Glad You Came - The Wanted

The Wanted lead a rather boring top 40 this week. Theirs is the only single to debut in the top 10, with the next closest new entry coming at #16. This is their second new single released this year from their forthcoming second album, although it's not expected to be released until November, making it likely that there will be a third single preceding the album. "Glad You Came" follows "Gold Forever," their spring Comic Relief single, which hit #3. This new single is quite a bit better than their last in my opinion and, as "Gold Forever" followed the flukish #19 peak of their third single, "Lose My Mind," "Glad You Came" sees the group solidly back on track chart-wise. It's 117,000 sales tally is pretty impressive too; as it follows last week's 141,000 haul by DJ Fresh, this is the first two we've had back-to-back #1 hits selling over 100,000 this year.

11.(12) Set Fire to the Rain - Adele

She didn't make the top 10, but she did climb a notch to #11 this week. However, the song is #1 on the airplay chart this week and, probably most importantly, her album 21 is back on top the albums chart, where it spends a 17th nonconsecutive week at #1. It's no record, but in recent years, it's pretty significant. To put it in perspective, during the last decade (2000-2009), only two artists spent as many week at #1--Dido (17 weeks) and Robbie Williams (23 weeks)--and of course, they did it with multiple albums (2 for Dido, 6 for Robbie).

16.(NEW) Little Bad Girl - David Guetta feat. Taio Cruz & Ludacris

Is anyone else feel like David Guetta is getting badly overexposed? I'm also getting tired of his sound. I didn't have to listen to this song to know what it sounds like--which is everything else he's done. "Where Them Girls At" was only 2 months ago--his "Sweat" remix with Snoop Dogg just 2 months before that. And lyrically, there's a real obvious trend to his song titles too ("Sexy Bitch/Chick," "Who's that Chick," "Where Them Girls At" and "Little Bad Girl").

17.(NEW) Love How It Hurts - Scouting for Girls

I'm surprised this didn't do better. It's a rather lovely song--the kind of song you expect will soon grace trailers for romance films. "This Ain't a Love Song" was a #1 single last year, but otherwise their recent stuff has not become bit hits.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Introducing Emeli Sandé

Scottish singer Emeli Sandé is no stranger to the top 10, having been a guest vocalist on Chipmunk's 2009 hit "Diamond Rings" and Wiley's 2010 release "Never Be Your Woman." Now she's gearing up for the real thing with the release of her first solo single, "Heaven." It's a really great dance track flavored with a big dose of downbeat trip-hop, obviously inspired by Massive Attack's 1991 trip-hop classic, "Unfinished Sympathy," a sound which has gone on to inspire many great pop songs (Madonna's "Frozen," Sugababes' "Stronger," for starters). "Heaven," will be released in the UK on August 14.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, July 23, 2011

1.(1) Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO (feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock)

It's a second week at #1 for "Party Rock Anthem," which is still selling well and gaining at radio. It's not yet #1 at top 40 radio, and it's going to be a close call whether it gets a week at #1 there, where Pitbull is still reigning supreme, but both LMFAO and Katy Perry are within striking distance--with Perry gaining over 2,000 spins per week, week after week, for a pretty meteoric rise.

4.(4) Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry spends a fourth week at #4, which is kind of shocking, but really it's actually kind of cool how the song has managed to stay in place while it's initial sales surge declined at the same time its airplay has been building very quickly. Once LMFAO begins to cool, this could slingshot to #1, since the only songs in its way now are former #1s by Pitbull and Adele.

7.(8) How to Love - Lil Wayne

A rapper as airplay gainer? For sure, when it's a song as great as this. "How to Love" has really caught on at top 40 this week. It's been hovering around the 30s the last few weeks, but suddenly it's got a 1200 spin gain and jumped up to #21. Of course, it's big at rhythmic and urban, so all that adds up to this week's Airplay Gainer.

8.(9) Good Life - OneRepublic

I'm kind of tired of this song, but apparently others aren't, since they are buying it like hotcakes--it's this week's Digital Gainer, surprisingly.

17.(22) I Wanna Go - Britney Spears

Britney Spears climbs into the top 20 "I Wanna Go." It's her fourth consecutive top 20 hit, a record run for her. It's album, Femme Fatale, is her third album to score three top 20 hits, following her 1999 debut and 2008's Circus.

19.(21) Motivation - Kelly Rowland (feat. Lil Wayne)

Also moving into the top 20 this week is Kelly Rowland, who hasn't appeared in the top 20 in 6 years. Apart from Destiny's Child, Rowland has had rather few hits in the US, although she has had some luck in the UK, where she's had eight top 10 hits. At home though she's had only the one really big hit, "Dilemma," a #1 in 2002 with Nelly. She hit #17 with Trina on "Here We Go" in 2005. So this is Rowland's biggest hit as a lead artist.

36.(43) Firework - Katy Perry

This looked about ready to make its Hot 100 exit last week, but now it inexplicably rebounds back into the top 40 in its 38th week, giving Perry three top 40 hits this week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Album Review: Beyoncé - 4 (4/5)

I Am...Sasha Fierce was a big album. Literally--depending on what version you bought (and there were several)--you could have as many as 20 tracks to listen to. The album was calculated to be a success and it was, showcasing the singer as a versatile goddess of pop music, comfortably moving from sweet balladry ("If I Were a Boy"), funky pop workouts ("Single Ladies"), epic love songs ("Halo") and retro dance pop ("Sweet Dreams"). As much as the dual-disc/dual-personality concept felt a little forced, it worked, as Beyoncé conquered charts all over the world, racking up a few awards in the process (including the Song of the Year Grammy for "Singles Ladies").

4 is not that album, but it does draw successfully from what made Sasha good. Although not the greatest vocalist when she was in Destiny's Child, Beyoncé has improved her pipes over the years, which she showed to great effect on Sasha's first disc of ballads. On 4, she sounds even better, delivering a more nuanced vocal performance. That way she dissolves her strongest notes into a vocal growl serves to highlight the raw desire she expresses on opening track "1+1," which was produced by The Dream and Tricky Stewart but sounds like vintage Prince.

Truthfully, the songs that have been released as singles haven't impressed me much, although they aren't unwelcome here. "Run the World (Girls)" closes the album with a drumline rhythm and deep, clubby bass, but its general lack of melody never sounded that great on the radio. As uptempo songs on the album go, it's upstaged by the vocal acrobatics and funky horns of "End of Time." I'm also really enjoying the '80s-era Whitney Houston-esque "Love on Top," which rolls along with a jolly, warm melody that I'm sure would serve as a great Broadway-themed music video. "Countdown" samples the countdown from Boyz II Men's "Uhh Ahh," and it's a real oddball of a song, but I enjoy it too, chock full as it is with brassy horn blasts, layered breakdowns and goofy lyrics.

On the slower side, "Best Thing I Never Had" is a serviceable piano pop ballad, even if its chorus devolves into the same lyrical inelegance Kelly Clarkson displayed on her last album ("It sucks to be you right now"). Most of the other ballads are more interesting, like "I Care," which starts simply with synthesizer notes and booming percussion, before building to its soulful chorus. "I Miss You" also opens gently with synthesizers but has a more restrained vocal. Restraint goes out the door on "Start Over," this album's "Halo."

My favorite ballad though is the retro-leaning "I'd Rather Die Young," a sultry tune with a funky '70s guitar, old-school keyboards, piano and horns. It's an interesting song--way too interesting to make a good single. Also good is the moody penultimate track, "I Was Here." Written by Diane Warren and produced by Ryan Tedder, it has the best pedigree of any powerhouse pop ballad has ever had. It's also the only song Beyoncé doesn't get a co-songwriter credit on and it's nice to see she continues to develop as a songwriting talent.

Although the songs on Sasha Fierce seemed to scream "make me a hit," the songs here don't feel quite so calculated. Despite the cadre of big-name producers, she doesn't chase current trends as much as she did on her last album. There's no attempt to sound like Lady Gaga or Black Eyed Peas (thank god). Credit also goes to the sound engineers, who made this sound really, really slick. I didn't love this album at first--it's charms aren't so obvious, but they're definitely there. After Sasha, 4 showcases a Beyoncé that has nothing to prove, except maybe that she's a legitimate artistic talent.

Best: 1+1, I'd Rather Die Young, Love on Top, End of Time, I Was Here, Best Thing I Never Had

Sunday, July 10, 2011

UK Singles Chart, July 16, 2011

1. (NEW) Louder - DJ Fresh (feat. Sian Evans)
2. (NEW) How We Roll - Loick Essien (feat. Tanya Lacey)

It's not the liveliest chart week this week, except at the very top, where (for a change) there was a nice contest for #1 featuring two relatively unknown acts. It reminds me of the good ol' days (i.e. the late '90s/early '00s) when the UK singles chart was a competitive showcase of new songs frequently by new names. Lately, it's been trending toward having pretty much the same songs at the top that are big in the US, with few surprises. This week then is a nice change with two new songs by relatively unexposed artists (both have been in the top 40 before, but with nothing nearly as big as these songs) duking it out for #1.

In the end, British dance act DJ Fresh scores his first #1 with Louder, an awfully fun throwback drum-n-bass dance track. He's had singles out as far back as 2003, but scored his first top 10 last year with "Gold Dust" (#24). Loick Essien, settles for #2. His song is more typical of the current R&B-pop sound, is a British singer who also had his first top 40 hit last year ("Stuttering," #36).

12. (21) Set Fire to the Rain - Adele

Well, it came close to the top 10, closer than it looked at midweek. Still, would love to see this climb a bit higher. I was also surprised it wasn't this week's airplay #1, an honor that went to Coldplay's "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall," which fell out of the top 10 this week.

24. (39) Next to You - Chris Brown (feat. Justin Bieber)

Brown and Bieber make a big 15-spot leap this week. Will they follow previous hits "Beautiful People" and "Yeah 3X" into the top 10? Perhaps, although Bieber has only seen the top 10 twice before, hitting #3 with his "Baby" and #9 with Sean Kingston with "Eenie Meenie."

28. (NEW) The Mack - Mann (feat. Snoop Dogg & Iyaz)

Mann's first single, "Buzzin'" cribbed heavily from Nu Shooz's '80s hit, "I Can Wait." For the follow-up, Mann advances the clock 10 years, mining Mark Morrison's '90s hit "Return of the Mack" for the more obviously titled "The Mack." It's not quite as loveable as "Buzzin'," so it will be interesting to see if the song ends up taking off over time like "Buzzin'" did (it debuted at #24 and 3 weeks later peaked at #6).

Friday, July 08, 2011

Personal Chart, July 9, 2011

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, July 16, 2011

1. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock

I can't say I'm surprised to see this track at #1. It seemed inevitable that 2011's most hedonistic pop hit would prove to be a summer #1. LMFAO knocks Pitbull from #1 after just 1 week. Like that track, this song has already been #1 in the UK and looks like it will likely be #1 at top 40 radio quite soon. The group had minor hits with "I'm in Miami Bitch" and "La La La," which both peaked in the 50s. That makes this song by far their biggest hit, and it's a hit that seemed inevitable for them to have, considering that they started their career with the EP "Party Rock EP" in 2008, followed by the album Party Rock in 2009 and their new album Sorry for Party Rocking.

4. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry holds at #4, but don't think this is no longer a #1 contender. I think it still has a shot, if not next week, then in late July once LMFAO's airplay starts to fade a bit. Katy Perry's track is red-hot at radio as this week's Airplay Gainer. It's #5 at top 40 radio, where it's been the fastest gaining track for some time (with LMFAO just behind).

9. Good Life - OneRepublic

OneRepublic gets a nice boost up nine places to #9 this week. Surprisingly, this is only the group's second top 10 hit, after their massive 2007 #2 hit "Apologize" with Timbaland. Although they didn't reach the top 10, the group has had three other really big hits that, despite not charting as high, showed amazing chart longevity: "Stop and Stare," "All the Rights Moves" and "Secrets."

10. Tonight Tonight - Hot Chelle Rae

The first time I heard this song, I thought it was really ridiculous. But like many such things, it's managed to grow on me, so I don't disparage the fact that the Nashville-based pop band has scored its first top 10 hit. Bit of trivia: the band's guitarist, Nash Overstreet, is brother to (former) Glee cast member Chord Overstreet.

[Pause to express annoyance over the fact that is showing last week's chart for #11-#20. Plus there's some really annoying candy ad wrapped around the whole page. Billboard's website sometimes is really REALLY annoying.]

29. Best Thing I Never Had - Beyonce

Remarkably, this song hasn't appeared in the top 40 until this week, when it jumped 29 places to #29. This is exactly the peak position of her last single, "Run the World (Girls)." "Best Thing I Never Had" is Beyonce's 21st top 40 hit.

[Can I say again how thoroughly annoyed I am that thinks it's more important to advertise candy than tell me what songs are at #11 through #20 this week. What a bunch of amateurs.]

Loick Essien "How We Roll"

London-based R&B singer Loick Essien is set to score his first big hit on the UK singles chart this week, with "How We Roll," which is duking it out for #1 with DJ Fresh's "Louder." Essien hit #36 earlier this year with his last single, "Stuttering." Love the London-filmed video for this (filmed in Hackney which you can make out on the dumpster--you can also just see the tip of the Gherkin in the distance).

Monday, July 04, 2011

UK Singles Chart, July 9, 2011

1. Don't Wanna Go Home - Jason Derulo

Second week at #1 for Derulo's "Don't Wanna Go Home." Since his "In My Head" only got 1 week at #1, this is now his biggest chart performer.

3. Best Thing I Never Had - Beyonce

Beyonce lands at #1 on the albums chart this week, while simultaneously scoring a top 5 hit with the album's second single, "Best Thing I Never Had," which outperforms the rather disappointing #11 peak of its first single, "Run the World (Girls)." This is Beyonce's 16th top 10 hit.

7. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga

Gaga's up another notch to #7. One more notch up and she'll match the song's original #6 peak when it came out 7 weeks ago.

9. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry scores her fifth top 10 hit from Teenage Dream--9th top 10 single overall.

10. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay
(40. In My Place - Coldplay)

Coldplay's latest does quite the boomerang this week. After debuting at #6 just 3 weeks ago, the song had plummeted to #42 last week, now it shoots up 32 spots to #10. Credit for the feat goes to the band's Saturday night appearance at this year's Glastonbury music festival (for which Beyonce's chart fortunes this week were surely also helped). In addition to sending them back into the top 10, the band's catalog got mined quite a bit making several chart appearances this week, even sending 2002's #2 hit "In My Place" back into the top 40 at #40.

18. Notorious - The Saturdays

Up another 3 notches. Apparently this song has staying power after all.

21. Set Fire to the Rain - Adele

This single is out officially this week. Will be interesting to see what that does for the song. From what I've seen, it's not expected to reach the top 10, although I really hope it does.

23. Run the World (Girls) - Beyonce
33. Irreplaceable - Beyonce

Beyonce's other singles in the top 40, no doubt Glastonbury faves.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Female Pop Stars - The 4th Album

Beyonce released her fourth album this week. appropriately titled 4. Critics generally seem to like it, but I haven't read anyone who claims it's a conventional album. Most say it's surprising--for its minimalism, it's lack of focus, it's blatant disregard for current pop trends (and therefore it's lack of an attempt to contain multiple hit singles, which it likely doesn't). It's a bold move for sure from an established female pop star who has managed to make it to album 4 with lots of goodwill and so far no stumble to speak of. What has the fourth album meant for other big female pop stars? Many different things apparently. Here's a look ordered subjectively from what I consider to be the most successful to the least among a crop of major female pop stars of the 25 or so years.

1. Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). Jackson's third album, Control, was her breakthrough hit, after her first two albums largely failed. Album #4 pretty much road its coattails and upped the ante, delivery more and bigger hits (a record seven top 4 hits, including four #1s), as well as a less subtle social issues concept. Janet. may have sold more globally, but it wasn't as significant an artistic statement at this. Bottom line: Control made her a superstar; Rhythm Nation proved there was a lot more where that came from.

2. Celine Dion - Falling Into You (1996). Technically, this is like her 15th album, but it's her fourth album for the English-speaking world, who didn't really know Celine Dion until 1991's Unison. Already on an upward trajectory with her first three English albums, the fourth one sent her into the stratosphere, selling 32 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling pop albums of all time. In the US, it went diamond, spawned three big hits--including #1 single "Because You Loved Me"--and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Bottom line: This was one of the '90s biggest pop artists at her commercial and creative peak.

3. Mariah Carey - Daydream (1995). Mariah Carey broke out big in 1990 and stayed that way through the mid-'90s. Her fourth album, Daydream, was a crossroads of sort, both reaching back to the pop-AC sound she'd cultivating while looking ahead to the pop-R&B sound she was moving toward. Given what was hot at the time, that meant pop music gold, as the album sent up three US #1 hits, including history's longest-running #1 hit, "One Sweet Day." The album sold 25 million copies globally, went diamond in the US and was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy Award. Bottom line: Daydream was Carey at her mid-90s peak, featuring three singles that combined spent 6 months atop the Hot 100.

Madonna - Like a Prayer (1989). Although it didn't match the sales of Like a Virgin or True Blue, Like a Prayer was still a big hit and arguably the more notable among those records in Madonna's discography. The album hailed a shift away from appealing but impersonal pop and dance pop toward a broader spectrum of sounds that made her music more experimental as well as more personal. Bottom line: Like a Prayer was Madonna's first true artistic statement and is widely regarded as her best album.

Shania Twain - Up! (2002). When her third album, Come On Over, became the best-selling album ever by woman or a country artist, it almost didn't matter what she followed it up with, but Twain's Up! was just as ambitious a release. It's uptempo country-pop was like a musical equivalent of Prozac (there are nine exclamation points among the songs' titles) and, aware of her multi-format appeal, Twain released the album in three versions, consisting of country, pop and Indian arrangements of the same 19 songs. Bottom line: It sold like crazy, but wasn't the massive crossover success that Come on Over was.

Whitney Houston - My Love Is Your Love (1998). Whitney Houston was one of the '90s biggest stars, but ironically released few albums during that period while she instead relied on a series of hit soundtracks to keep her music on the radio. My Love Is Your Love ended that 8-year period since she released I'm Your Baby Tonight with an exciting push toward more contemporary R&B, a surprising twist after she'd topped the charts with her AC-leaning pop. Although there were no #1 hits off this album, it scored three big top 10 singles, all of which when remixed were also massive dance club hits. Bottom line: An exciting album that sees a major star effectively explore new musical styles.

Britney Spears - In the Zone (2003). Britney's first two albums came straight from the jaws of the teen pop machine, so her venture into different musical territory for her third album yielded mixed results. This fourth set got her back on track though, pushing her back to solid pop territory but with a more cutting edge sound. Spears also co-wrote most of the album's songs, representing her biggest dip into songwriting among her albums. Bottom line: Spears' most experimental and satisfying album, which got her back on top the pop charts with "Toxic."

Rihanna - Rated R (2009). Good Girl Gone Bad was a massive pop album--three #1 hits (including "Umbrella," one of the decade's biggest pop hits), several other top 10s, lots of sales, a big re-release. Etc. Then came the Chris Brown incident, forever changing how pop audiences thought of her (him as well). For anyone who considered Rihanna just a pretty face singing bubbly producer-driven dance pop, Rated R was a bold, artistic statement with darker themes, edgier sounds and emotions ranging from anger to vulnerability. Not as big a hit of course, but it still generated some big singles, most notably "Rude Boy." Bottom line: A dark, exciting album that proved Rihanna had substance.

Pink - I'm Not Dead (2006). Pink's third album, Try This, was a punk-oriented departure, and like many such departures, took the singer out of the mainstream spotlight. I'm Not Dead was a nice return to pop territory. In the US, it took about a year for it to catch on, but eventually "U +Ur Hand" and "Who Knew" became major hits. Bottom line: Return to pop form after a less-than-successful punkish departure.

Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted (2009). Similarly, Kelly Clarkson's third album, My December, was a dramatic departure, meant to be a darker, more personal pop album. It resulted it a lot of animosity between Clarkson and her record company and, although not a complete failure, it was not a major hit. Predictably All I Ever Wanted was a damage control album meant to bring back the singer's pop audience. As such, it's not the most exciting album, but it did the trick of returning her to pop radio with some decent hits, such as "My Life Would Suck without You." Bottom line: It's no Breakaway, but it effectively made up for the weaker reception of My December.

Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby (2011). If Lavigne doesn't generate a true hit from this album, it may indeed live up to its name. "What the Hell" was a modest hit, but all of her previous albums have had at least one biggie. New single "Smile" doesn't appear to fit that bill. Bottom line: Unless it comes up with a hit fast, this could see Lavigne fade from the mainstream.

Christina Aguilera - Bionic (2010). While Goodbye Lullaby is stumbling, this one fell and hard. Bionic's first single "Not Myself Tonight," couldn't even reach the top 20 in the US and its follow-up, "Woohoo" couldn't even crack the top 40. The album received bad reviews and sold poorly. She followed it with the musical film Burlesque, which was also a flop. Aguilera should be thanking her lucky stars that The Voice came along and helped salvage her career. Bottom line: There is nothing good to say about this album--total disaster.

Essential Albums of the '80s: Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual (1983)

It's common that when one major female pop artist appears on the scene, you actually get two that are similar enough to draw instant comparisons. Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. Lady Gaga and Ke$ha. Etc. Sometimes it's the one you don't expect that becomes the bigger star.

That was certainly the case in 1984, which saw the emergence of Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. Both worked outrageous looks over cutting edge pop--Madonna treading more in dance pop waters while Lauper had a broader sound, encompassing dance pop, synth pop, even rock. And initially, Lauper was the biggest star. Madonna struggled to find a top 10 hit, which finally came with "Borderline" and then her biggest hit at that point, #4 single "Lucky Star." Although Lauper took awhile to catch on too, when she did, she was even bigger, scoring four top 5 singles from She's So Unusual, including #1 hit "Time After Time" and #2 "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"--both of which are easily '80s classics.

Of course, we all know that Madonna became the much, much bigger star, but in 1984, that outcome wasn't so obvious. In fact, I remember commentators at the time discussing how clearly Lauper would go on to bigger fame, since she the more creative of the two, and that Madonna lacked sufficient talent to have much staying power.

If She's So Unusual was all you had to go on, this wasn't such a bad assumption. The album was a massive pop success, jumping from the buoyant pop of "Girl Just Wanna Have Fun" to the goofy/dirty pop of "She Bop," to the synth-rock vibe of "Money Changes Everything." Lauper didn't have the best voice--it can be quite grating--but she had a lot of style, convincingly fitting into all of these styles. With her bright clothes and even brighter red hair, you'd think she couldn't nail a convincing ballad, but "Time After Time" was the album's biggest hit, and it remains a remarkable '80s pop ballad. Less impressive, but still enjoyable, is the album's other hit ballad, "All Through the Night." The production is very of the moment, but the songs themselves have proven to have staying power, especially "Time After Time," which is always being remade.

Lauper's follow-up, True Colors, gave her another #1 hit in the title track and a top 5 single, "Change of Heart," but the sales were a significant drop off, and then by the time she put out her third album in 1989 (which did yield the impressive single "I Drove All Night"), pop music had moved on.

Best: Time After Time, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, She Bop, All Through the Night

Friday, July 01, 2011

Personal Chart, July 2, 2011