Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, October 8, 2011

1.(1) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (feat. Christina Aguilera)

Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera spend a fourth week at #1. It's the 6th single to spend at least 4 weeks at #1 this year.

2.(2) Someone Like You - Adele

Adele is still stalled at #2, but probably not for long. The track is this week's airplay gainer and it's up to #2 at both Digital Songs and Radio Songs. A return for #1 is definitely coming soon.

10.(25) Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO

"Party Rock Anthem" felt like a one-hit wonder, so it's surprising to see LMFAO quickly pull off a second hit with "Sexy and I Know It," which has exploded in sales, but is catching up in airplay too (it's #21 at top 40 radio).

16.(NEW) We Found Love - Rihanna (feat. Calvin Harris)

Rihanna unexpectedly unleashed her new single late last week, so it missed out on the full week of sales that could have propelled it into the top 10. Since she elevated her producer to co-artist status, this gives Calvin Harris his first top 40 hit.

21.(32) Just a Kiss - Lady Antebellum

After starting off high on the basis of strong sales and generally falling the last few weeks, Lady Antebellum's latest single rebounds this week, up 11 notches.

??? Glee

A year ago, the second season premiere of Glee generated four top 40 hits, led by "Empire State of Mind" at #21. The third season premiere...produced none. The Glee tracks from last week's episode are down at #65 and #67. At this point, it's hard to tell whether it was the episode's lack of pop hits or the general decline in the show that's responsible for this. It will be interesting to see if the show can recover this year. After a wonderful first season, the second season was uneven, and ended on a low note, so much so that I lost interest in doing a weekly blog entry about it. So far, the third season started with a tepid first episode but a better second one.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

UK Singles Chart, October 1, 2011

1. (NEW) No Regrets - Dappy

Another week, another #1 single. This week it's British singer/rapper Dappy with his solo debut single "No Regrets." Dappy is no stranger to the charts, having appeared on 13 top 40 hits as one-third of the hip-hop group N-Dubz.

As I implied at the beginning, this is the 9th consecutive week with a new song at #1. That's pretty remarkable, but not unheard of. Just last year there was a string of 10 weeks with a new #1 song every week--a run that ended just this time last year in fact. And in 2000, there was a run of 13 weeks with a new #1 hit every week. So this is definitely cool, but not any kind of record.

Way more notable in my opinion is that this is the 11th #1 hit in a row by a British act. At no point during the 59-year history of the British singles chart has this happened before. The closest was a run of 10 British #1s in early 1963 if you count Frank Ifield, who was born in Britain but whose family moved to Australia when he was 9. I just went through the full list of UK #1 hits, and there was always an American, Irish or Australian act to break up such a potential streak--even in the heyday of the Beatles, the Bee Gees and '80s new wave, there were always foreigners in the mix. But not now, with Americans Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera knocking on #2 for 4 weeks in a row now, failing to break through to the top spot.

2.(2) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (feat. Christina Aguilera)

Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera spent a fourth week at #2. If they are chartwatchers--presumably if not, their label bosses are--it must be pretty frustrating to see a constant turnover of brides, with your own track planted firmly as the bridesmaid. They might get their shot next week, with Sak Noel's "Loca People" probably the biggest new single this week. Even if it doesn't happen, spending a lot of time at #2 can be its own reward. Last year's #1 single, Eminem & Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" was never a #1 hit. If you had to choose, wouldn't you rather be the year's biggest hit than just for a week?

4.(NEW) It Girl - Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo follows his #1 hit "Don't Wanna Go Home"--incidentally the last non-British #1 hit--with another top 5 tune, his fifth so far.

5.(NEW) I Won't Let You Go - James Morrison

British singer-songwriter James Morrison returns with the first single from his third album. It's his fifth top 10 hit and third to reach the top 5, bested in peak position only by his #2 hit with Nelly Furtado, "Broken Strings." The album, The Awakening, is out tomorrow.

7.(14) The A Team - Ed Sheeran

Sheeran's latest single, "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" falls to #20 this week, but its his previous release that's his biggest hit this week. It's the oldest single in the top 20 actually. Still surprises me how this one endures.

9.(39) Cannonball - Damien Rice

Reality show shenanigans are no doubt responsible for giving Damien Rice his first top 10 hit. "Cannonball" had previously been Rice's biggest hit, reaching #19 in 2004. This is actually the song's third chart run. It was initially released in 2003, at which time it hit #32.

10.(9) Jealousy - Will Young

Nice to see Will Young is still in the top 10. This is "Jealousy's" fifth week on the chart and its fourth in the top 10. That's a pretty good run for Young, whose singles have had a tendency to fall rather quickly. Only three of his singles have spent this much time in the top 10: "All Time Love" (#3) spent 4 weeks and "Evergreen" (#1) and "Leave Right Now" (#1) each spent 6 weeks in the top 10.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Album Reviews

I'm shamefully behind in reviewing albums this year. In an effort to knock a few out, here are some shorter reviews.

The Weeknd - House of Balloons (4/5)

Canadian singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, caused quite a stir when he released his debut album, House of Balloons, earlier this year. Not so much for the fact that it was put out free of charge from his website, but for the fact that it made critics swoon. Anyone tired of the usual suspects in R&B should take note of the growing revolution in sound born by the likes of The XX, James Blake and now this haunting, often beautiful, sometimes nasty work. It manages a nice balance between indie experimentalism and pop sensibility, although it definitely has a dark side too. "What You Need" is a clear highlight--a smooth, late-night jam that seduces as much with its sharp beats and liquidy synths as it does with Tesfaye's (surely knowingly) dated lyrics about "knocking boots." But then there's "Wicked Games," with its sad melody and bitter lyrics making a potent, jaded song ("Bring the drugs baby, I can bring the pain"). And I'm not even going to get into "House of Balloons"/"Glass Table Girls"--let's just say these girls aren't playing pinochle on that glass-top table of theirs. Best: What You Need, High for This, Wicked Games, The Knowing.

Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch the Throne (3.5/5)

So much starpower and ego come together on Watch the Throne, the long-awaited collaboration between rap superstars Kanye West and Jay-Z. With a combination like that, it had the potential to be a masterpiece or a disaster, so it's almost surprising that instead it falls somewhere in the middle. "No Church in the Wild" serves as a subdued if somewhat ominous opener, with auto-tuned vocals from Frank Ocean. Ocean also provides vocals on the album's other track with heavy religious references, the uplifting "Made in America," an ode to successful African-Americans (including themselves) during which they thank "sweet baby Jesus" for their success. As gracious as that song may seem, the duo doesn't escape typical boastfulness, as they have in fact adopted "The Throne" as their nickname throughout this work. Shameless as that may be, they probably deserve it. And after all, when Jay-Z uses "Beyonce" as a slang term to refer to a fine woman (as he does in "That's My Bitch"), he's talking about the Beyonce...his Beyonce. Too bad when the lady herself shows up on "Lift Off" the song stays grounded. Mr. Hudson has a nice guest turn though on "Why I Love You," the kind of grand track that could have felt at home on West's comparatively superior My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Best: Why I Love You, Made in America, Otis.

Hard-Fi - Killer Sounds (3.5/5)

Remember when Hard-Fi were hot stuff back in 2005? Their debut, Stars of CCTV, was NME's album of the year and a Mercury Prize nominee. Then, although I greatly enjoyed their 2007 follow-up, Once Upon a Time in the West, it received a lukewarm reception. After a 4-year break, they finally return with their third album, Killer Sounds, which, despite the lapse of time, manages to sound not unlike their earlier work. And that's not a criticism necessarily. The album opens strong with upbeat "Good for Nothing," followed by the even better "Fire in the House," with its bristling, electronic arrangement. "Give It Up" pushes along with an insistent tempo and guitars to match. After that though, I find it hard to muster much enthusiasm for the rest of this. It's not bad, but it's missing a "wow" factor present on their other albums. Even the songs from one of my favorite producers, Stuart Price--the man responsible for last year's pop trifecta of brilliant albums from Take That, Scissor Sisters, and Kylie Minogue--fails to bring much originality to songs like "Bring It On," which I just find ho-hum, "Feels Good," which sounds like "Cash Machine" recycled with some Middle Eastern instruments, and "Love Song," which seems to curb from Roger Sanchez's "Another Chance" (Price does deserve credit for "Fire in the House," my favorite track, which he produced with Richard Archer). Best: Fire in the House, Give It Up, Good for Nothing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rihanna (feat. Calvin Harris) 'We Found Love'

When Rihanna says she has new album on the way, she doesn't mess around. It's first single, "We Found Love" is out TODAY! Get it at iTunes. I wonder what this means for "Cheers (Drink to That)," still climbing strong on the charts. Perhaps it means nothing--she'll just have two hits at once.

Billboard Hot 100, October 1, 2011

1.(1) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (feat. Christina Aguilera)

Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera spend a third week at #1, after having bumped Adele from the top spot last week. "Moves Like Jagger" is the third #1 hit this year to spend nonconsecutive weeks at #1, after Bruno Mars' "Grenade" and Katy Perry's "E.T." It's a phenomenon that feels much more common in recent years. Last year there were 3 such #1 hits, 2 in 2009, 5 in 2008, and 2 in 2007. But none in 2006 and 2003 and only 1 in 2005 and 2004.

2.(2) Someone Like You - Adele

Adele holds at #2, still bulleted though, earning this week's Airplay Gainer. I'm still thinking this will return to #1 sometime soon. The song's airplay has quickly caught up with its sales: it's #2 on Digital Songs and #9 on Radio Songs this week.

5.(6) Stereo Hearts - Gym Class Heroes (feat. Adam Levine)

Gym Class Heroes moves into the top 5, giving Adam Levine two top 5 this week. One more notch and it will tie the peak of the 'Heroes biggest hit, "Cupid's Chokehold."

7.(11) You Make Me Feel... - Cobra Starship (feat. Sabi)

They fell out of the top 10 last week only to return this week at a new peak. This now ties "Good Girl Gone Bad" as their highest-charting single.

8.(10) Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna

Could Rihanna be any hotter? After scoring her 10th #1 hit earlier this year with "S&M," the singer continued to churn out hit singles from Loud. But she's not stopping there! Her 6th album is coming November 21, and its first single, "We Found Love," was just released today. Meanwhile, "Cheers," her 19th top 10 hit, continues to climb the chart, up two spots this week.

15.(23) Without You - David Guetta (feat. Usher)

David Guetta may be on his way to scoring his biggest US hit. His current high-water mark is "Sexy Bitch/Chick," which hit #5 last year. Teaming up with Usher was a smart move. "Without You" is the most winning single I've heard from Guetta this year (and he's all over the place, so that's really saying something). The track is this week's Digital Gainer.

16.(NEW) Paradise - Coldplay

The British singles chart may not be able to figure out how to credit Coldplay with its sales of "Paradise," but thankfully Billboard doesn't have that problem, and thus "Paradise" becomes the band's 8th top 40 hit.

25.(50) Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO

LMFAO follows up their recent #1 hit, "Party Rock Anthem," with this new track, which makes a surprising surge into the top 40 this week, up 25 spots. This is a mostly sales-driven move, as the track hasn't really impacted at radio yet.

35.(18) Mr. Know It All - Kelly Clarkson

After debuting at #18 last week, Kelly Clarkson takes a big tumble down 17 spots to #35 this week. This could still rebound and be a hit, but I'm not sure. It's really taking off at radio like you'd expect it would.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sugababes 'Freedom'

I don't see this on the Radio 1 or Capital FM playlists. What a shame. The single is out next week, and I actually think it's not bad, but without any airplay, I wonder how it will do.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

UK Singles Chart, September 24, 2011

1.(NEW) What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction

The field of new hit boybands dominated so far by JLS and The Wanted just got a new contender in One Direction. Like JLS, they originated on The X Factor, placing third in last year's contest. Their first #1 hit is a big one--over 150,000 copies sold--the biggest #1 sales tally so far this year. The production on this has more of a "California" sound to my ears--along the lines of something from McFly or Busted. Not a bad song actually.

4.(6) Heart Skips a Beat - Olly Murs (feat. Rizzle Kicks)
9.(12) Jealousy - Will Young

Both of these tracks climb back up a bit this week, including a return to the top 10 for Will Young. I'm surprised, but pleased, to see the turnaround. Was a reality show performance responsible for this?

15.(26) Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna

Rihanna climbs 11 notches this week but misses the top 10 with "Cheers (Drink to That)," the latest single from her album Loud. Never fear--Rihanna has announced she'll put out her next (sixth) album before the end of the year. So a new Rihanna single is all but certain to be coming in just a few weeks.

20.(NEW) AKA...What a Life - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

Lots of head-scratchers on the chart this week. Here's another--the second top 20 in a month's time from former Oasis-man Noel Gallagher and his new band. The album is due October 17, and a third single is forthcoming before that. Did this even get much promotion? It's not on Radio 1's playlist.

28.(NEW) Days Are Forgotten - Kasabian

British rockers Kasabian scores their 12th top 40, the first single from their new album Velociraptor!, out this week. This is a much quieter launch than what their last album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, enjoyed, when its first single, "Fire" hit #3 just over 2 years ago.

31.(NEW) Without You - David Guetta (feat. Usher)

Doesn't it feel like David Guetta puts out a new single every week? He's put out lots of tracks from Nothing But the Beat album as promotional releases, following the official release from earlier this year--"Where My Girls At" and "Little Bad Girl"--both of which reached the top 5. So I'm a bit surprised to see this apparently official single charting so low, as it's actually a decent release and featuring one of the biggest guest vocalists he's ever had. Perhaps it's fallen victim to overkill.

38.(NEW) You and I - Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga scores her 13th top 40, the fifth track from her album Born This Way to do so. The single is out this week, so I expect a good climb on next weekend's chart.

40.(NEW) Body & Soul - Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

I'd have thought this, the last recording by Amy Winehouse, would have charted higher. The track is from Tony Bennett's new album Duets II, out this week. It's a remake of the '30s-era jazz standard covered many times, although as far as I can tell, it's never been in the top 40 before (a song called "Body and Soul" by Mai Tai hit #10 in 1985, but it's not the same song).

This is Tony Bennett's first top 40 hit in quite a long time. He had string of hits in the '50s and '60s, including the #1 hit "Stranger in Paradise." Bennett's career revived quite nicely in the U.S. in the mid '90s with the release of the live album MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett, which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. His 2006 Duets album was also a decent hit.

This the 9th top 40 for Bennett and the 7th for Winehouse.

??? Paradise - Coldplay

If you expected to see Coldplay in the top 40 this week, you'll be disappointed, because they aren't there. Apparently, since "Paradise" was offered as a "freebie" for pre-ordering their album, the song's sales weren't tracked for the chart, even though it was also sold as a standalone download. Seems a bit ridiculous to me, as this would possibly have been a top 10 hit otherwise.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: Kylie Minogue - Kylie (1988), Risk Astley - Whenever You Need Somebody (1987)

Is there a more defining late ‘80s British dance pop sound than Stock/Aitken/Waterman? They were huge and their breezy tunes, kissed by rat-a-tat drum programming, staccato keyboards and studio-perfected voices from fresh-faced artists generated a plethora of hits. Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley were their poster children, particularly these debut albums.

Both albums had their signature hits—her “I Should Be So Lucky,” his “Never Gonna Give You Up”—plus quite a few other singles. Those two songs, which are essentially the same, begin each album, which both unfurl with similar dance pop after. They both down for some mid-tempo numbers but not really any ballads, save for Astley's terribly misguided remake of “When I Fall in Love.”

Much of Kylie’s songs have a laid-back feel, such as “Je Nais Sa Pas Pourquoi” and “It’s No Secret,” a minor US hit. It’s front-loaded with the better songs (and singles) and loses steam once you reach “I Miss You,” although I do like “Look My Way,” which bears more than a passing resemblance to The Whispers’ “Rock Steady.” The album concludes with perky “Love at First Sight,” which bears no resemblance to the vastly superior track of the same name from Minogue’s 2001 album, Fever.

Interestingly, Astley’s album was the bigger of the two in the US, where “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever” were #1 hits. Minogue scored a top 10 hit with her remake of “The Loco-Motion,” but that was her only major American hit until “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” struck gold 13 years later (“I Should Be So Lucky,” despite its pop brilliance, couldn’t even reach the top 20). Globally speaking though, Minogue is by far the bigger artist, having used this album to launch a successful dance pop career that continues to today, whereas Astley seems a fine candidate for a “where are they now” special. Yet, it could have easily gone the other way, as his album is no less a guilty pop pleasure than hers. The aforementioned #1 hits, plus the title track and “It Would Take a Strong, Strong Man” are all worthwhile, semi-disposable pop that can get stuck in your head to this day (walking on the beach earlier today I couldn’t get “Together Forever” out of my head). His album tracks aren’t as strong as hers. “The Love Has Gone” has more of a mature, adult feel to it, but “Don’t Say Goodbye” could have been a boyband hit. Most of the other few tracks aren’t very distinct, particularly “You Move Me,” which has about the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard for a pop song.

Kylie best: I Should Be So Lucky, The Loco-Motion, Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi, Got to Be Certain, It’s No Secret.

Whenever You Need Somebody best: Never Gonna Give You Up, Together Forever, It Would Take a Strong Strong Man, Whenever You Need Somebody.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse 'Body and Soul'

I read about this on today. I'm not exactly a Tony Bennett fan, but it's nice to hear Amy Winehouse one last time doing what she did so well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

UK Singles Chart, September 17, 2011

1.(NEW) All About Tonight - Pixie Lott

It was an exciting week on the chart with three new singles all having the potential to be this week's #1 hit. In the end, the victor is Pixie Lott, the 20 year-old British pop singer who made a big splash in 2009 with her debut album. With Turn It Up, Lott scored six top 20 hits, including #1s with her first two singles, "Mama Do" and "Boys and Girls." Despite such success, I always had the feeling she was viewed as somewhat of a lightweight. Her second album, which I expect will appear before year's end, is a chance to prove herself ready for the big leagues. As a first move in that direction, "All About Tonight" hits the right buttons with its bubbly, upbeat production. Even if it's not my personal favorite of the trio, I've heard it enough to enjoy it (it's gotten the biggest boost at radio, having started airplay back in mid July).

2.(2) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (feat. Christina Aguilera)

This is not one of the trio of big new hits this week, but nonetheless manages to out-sell two of them, as well as last week's #1 hit (Example's "Stay Awake," down to #5 this week). In the US, it is also #2, having been bumped from #1 after just a week by Adele's "Someone Like You." It does, however, remain #1 on the UK airplay chart for a second week.

3.(NEW) All Fired Up - The Saturdays

The Saturdays have, for better or worse, been the stopgap British girl group while Girls Aloud takes a hiatus and Sugababes do things besides make good pop music. As such, sometimes they succeed ("If This Is Love," "Just Can't Get Enough," "Higher") and sometimes they don't ("Notorious"), but they keep trying. With "All Fired Up" they get a major boost from super producers Xenomania, the team responsible for many of the aforementioned groups' best hits. This is their first single for The Saturdays, and it performs in kind, becoming the group's fourth single to reach the top 3.

4.(NEW) Collide - Leona Lewis/Avicii

On paper, this would be the one you would probably say would have had the best shot at #1. But knowing the songs and some of the history, and I'm sorry to say I'm not surprised it is the smallest of this week's three big new singles. Four years ago, Leona Lewis was on fire. Having won the third season of X Factor, she launched her debut album with "Bleeding Love," with which she achieved global popularity--the only X Factor act to do so. Then in 2009, she released her follow-up, and rather than repeat the success of her debut, it fell short, selling less than half the copies her debut did. Notably, the album's first single, "Happy," which should have been an easy #1, peaked at #2. So, with faded starpower, Lewis tries again with album #3, Glassheart. Dance pop-oriented first single, "Collide" is a different sound than we've heard from the singer before, who's preferred Ryan Tedder-penned power ballads. Due to some legal wrangling, the song is co-credited with Swedish DJ Avicii, whose instrumental dance composition "Penguin" forms the backbone of the song.

11.(NEW) Called Out in the Dark - Snow Patrol

At #11 is a band who have also had experience with seeing their music retooled by Leona Lewis. Snow Patrol's first top 5 hit, 2004's "Run," was a #1 hit when remade by Lewis in 2008. "Called Out in the Dark" is the first single from their forthcoming sixth album, Fallen Empires. It becomes their 12th top 40 hit. The lighter, more electronic touch of this song recalls "Just Say Yes," the first single from their 2009 hits collection.

17.(27) Someone Like You - Adele

It's been on the chart for 33 weeks, further proving it is the hit of the year, up 10 notches this week. Her other singles are at #20 ("Set Fire to the Rain") and #40 ("Rolling in the Deep"). All three of her singles also appeared together in the top 40 in late July.

26.(44) Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna

Rihanna makes a nice jump into the top 40 with "Cheers," her fifth top 40 hit from her album Loud. All previous singles from the album reached the top 10, and I expect this one will too, once it reaches its official release week. As if this isn't enough, she's also down at #38 on Nicki Minaj's "Fly," also entering the top 40 this week and due for release in a few weeks.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Billboard Hot 100, September 17, 2011

1.(19) Someone Like You - Adele

Nice to see that the Hot 100 can still surprise sometimes. British pop singer Adele scores her second #1 hit as "Someone Like You" unexpectedly rockets to #1, thanks to her captivating performance of the song at last week's MTV Music Video Awards. She the third artist after Britney Spears and Katy Perry to score a second #1 hit this year. Thanks to its boost in sales, the song is this week's Digital Gainer, but it's also been tracking well at radio even before the MTV exposure, so she also is this week's Airplay Gainer.

, I commented on how remarkable the circumstances are that the song is #1 this week. There's more to the story though. Certainly that MTV had a hand in this #1 hit is interesting. Over the past decade the "M" in MTV has seen its importance decline significantly. As a former fan of MTV (in the early '90s I watched daily), it's been sad to see the network decline from a cultural cornerstone to a depository of bad reality shows. The MTV Music Video Awards is perhaps the most significant show left on MTV that's actually about music. It's nice to see MTV claim some of its former glory as an influential tastemaker.

Also interesting is Adele's performance in the overall context of awards shows. Musical performances at such events have become noted for their spectacle. Starting with Madonna and continuing with acts today like Lady Gaga, staging a big, bold, flashy musical number has become a big deal, with lots of pre-show buzz about what he-she-they-it will do. It's cool to see though that the most significant of such performances in recent memory isn't a woman with thorns for shoulders or a snake around her neck, but just a plain woman dressed simply singing with a piano. And she scores a #1 hit for it. That's true talent.

6.(16) You and I - Lady Gaga

But spectacle has its place too, as another MTV awards show performer sees her recent single become her 11th straight top 10 hit. After "Born This Way" (#1), "Judas" (#10), and "The Edge of Glory" (#3), "You and I" is the fourth top 10 hit from Lady Gaga's Born This Way album, making it only the third album this decade after Ke$ha's Animal and Katy Perry's Teenage Dream to achieve that.

8.(18) You Make Me Feel... - Cobra Starship (feat. Sabi)

Cobra Starship climbs 10 notches to score their second top 10 hit, following 2009's "Good Girls Go Bad," which reached #7.

10.(5) Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Looks like this will be the last week in the top 10 for "Last Friday Night (TGIF)," which will bring to close Katy Perry's record run of consecutive weeks in the top 10. Her 69-week run began May 29, 2010 with "California Gurls," followed in late summer by "Teenage Dream," then "Firework" in the winter, "E.T." this spring, and then "Last Friday Night" this summer--all of them #1 hits. That's a pretty amazing run.

11.(11) Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna

Rihanna stalls at #11 but keeps her bullet. If she can reach the top 10, her album Loud will be added to the aforementioned list of albums released this decade with four or more top 10 hits.

16.(NEW) Mirror - Lil Wayne (feat. Bruno Mars)

With the release of Lil Wayne's album, Tha Carter IV, last week, fans got to cherry tracks from it, resulting in 8 of this week's 16 Hot 100 debuts coming from Wayne. This proved to be the most popular, probably thanks in part to its big-name guest star.

20.(NEW) Love on Top - Beyonce

The first two singles from Beyonce's 4, "Run the World (Girls)" and "Best Thing I Never Had" didn't exactly set the chart on fire. Following her performance of the song on the MTV show, during which she also announced her pregnancy, the song has charted almost as high as "Best Thing." As far as I can tell, an official third single hasn't been selected yet, but I think they could do worse than choosing this lively ditty. One of my favorites on the album.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Adele's 'Someone Like You' Tops Billboard Hot 100

Adele continues to prove she's the hottest pop artist of 2011 by topping the new Billboard Hot 100 chart, out tomorrow, with "Someone Like You," her second #1 this year after "Rolling in the Deep." "Someone Like You" was also a chart-topper earlier this year in Britain.

What's really cool is that the unusual reason it is America's new #1 hit is almost identical to why it was such a sensation in Britain: fans flocking to buy the single after a rousing live performance at an awards show. It her her performance of the song during the UK's Brit Awards that propelled the song to #1--weeks before it was to be officially released, since "Rolling in the Deep" was the song being promoted at the time. In the US, the song has been steadily climbing the charts, both in sales and airplay, but it was her performance of it at the MTV Music Video Awards that ignited a fire under its sales. It's been #1 on iTunes ever since.

Here's a video of the performance:

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Adele

To compare, here's her Brit Awards performance from earlier this year:

Complete Hot 100 rundown tomorrow.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

UK Singles Chart, September 10, 2011

1.(NEW) Stay Awake - Example

British dance/rap artist Example scores his second #1 hit with "Stay Awake," my favorite single from him yet. His last #1, "Changed the Way You Kiss Me," was just two and a half months ago, and with "Stay Awake," Example becomes the third act after Bruno Mars and Pitbull to have a second #1 hit this year. This is Example's sixth top 40 hit overall.

2.(3) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (feat. Christina Aguilera)

After spending 2 weeks at #3, "Moves Like Jagger" ascends to a new peak at #2. For Maroon 5, this ties it with "Makes Me Wonder" as their highest-charting hit. For Aguilera, it becomes her sixth top 2 hit. As nice as it would be to hope this song could climb again and hit #1 next week, given the competition of new singles this week, it's not going to happen.

4.(NEW) You Need Me, I Don't Need You - Ed Sheeran

If you thought, like me, that Ed Sheeran's massive summer hit "The A Team" was just a fluke, then apparently we were wrong, as Sheeran roars onto the chart this week with a second top 5 hit. Although it only reached #3, "The A Team" is the 15th biggest hit of the year so far and surely one of the surprises of summer. "You Need Me" is more upbeat, and really a better pop song, I think. "You Need Me.." enters the top 10 the same week that "The A Team" exits it after 11 weeks in the top 10, giving Sheeran now 12 consecutive weeks in the top 10. Only Adele and Jessie J have had more consecutive weeks in the top 10 this year, with 13 each.

9.(NEW) Like Ya Down - Cover Drive

Barbados continues to prove itself a consistent, if unusual, source of pop talent. Barbadian group Cover Drive follow in the footsteps of Rihanna and Shontelle to score their first top 10 hit. The sounds strikes me as being not unlike what we're hearing from Jessie J. The telltale horn at the end tells us the song is produced by JR Rotem, the man behind recent hits by Jason Derulo, Iyaz and JLS.

10.(18) Party All Night (Sleep All Day) - Sean Kingston

Sean Kingston climbs 8 notches to scores his third top 10 hit.

15.(17) Set Fire to the Rain - Adele
27.(43) Someone Like You - Adele

Although it never reached the top 10, Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" has sure hung around a long time, climbing two notches this week in its 12th week in the top 40. Meanwhile, Adele's last single, "Someone Like You," makes a return to the top 40, likely due to her MTV Music Video Awards performance. I think the effect will be even more dramatic in the US, where "Someone Like You" has been #1 at iTunes ever since the performance.


Next week is shaking up to be a very competitive week on the chart. Three new releases from major acts will be vying for #1. And from where I'm sitting, it isn't at all clear who will have the upper hand. Pixie Lott's "All About Tonight" has had the most pre-release exposure on the radio. It's a decent song, but not on par with her best. Meanwhile, Leona Lewis shifts gears toward dance pop with her new single, "Collide." Will that pay off or have audiences lost interest? Finally The Saturdays release what is probably their most exciting single yet, the frothy Xenomania-produced blur that is "All Fired Up." Can't wait to see how this turns out.

Fall Albums Preview

Here comes the onslaught of new albums that is the fall. As usual, November and December are still a little hazy, and release dates are bound to change. I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to get 10 albums into my highlights for fall. Such is the state of the album, I suppose.


Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (Oct. 24).

No doubt this is the biggest fall release, if not for me personally than for the industry generally. Anticipation began building in earnest in June with the release of the album's advance single, "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall." Reminiscent of their recent #1 hit, "Viva la Vida," the upbeat track whetted appetites for more of the band's signature swirl of bright, tuneful melodies. A couple of other tracks released later that month signaled perhaps a different direction: the markedly darker "Major Minus" and the markedly melancholy "Moving to Mars." The band has hinted that these tracks may or may not make the cut to the album, but have confirmed that the album's first "official" single will be "Paradise," out in September. Once again the band worked with longtime U2 producer Brian Eno.

Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (Oct. 25).

Like Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson is putting out her fifth studio album this year. I'm expecting it to sound a lot like her last album, 2009's All I Ever Wanted, which was a winning mix of upbeat and ballad pop that helped Clarkson recover from the commercial stumble of her gutsy 2007 album, My December. First single, "Mr Know It All" is already out at radio. As produced by Brian Kennedy, Ester Dean and Brett James--a group that has been involved with a diverse list of hits from Katy Perry's "Firework" to Rihanna's "Rude Boy" to Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel"--it's a pleasingly assertive melody for Clarkson.

Lady Antebellum - Own the Night (Sept 13).

Although Taylor Swift is the biggest country-crossover star at the moment, Lady Antebellum made a strong case for second fiddle with their second album, last year's Need You Now, which nabbed a Grammy Album of the Year nomination and scored a monster hit with "Need You Now," which went on to win both the Record and Song of the Year Grammys. So, no pressure to get it right again on this third album. So far, they seem up to the task: it's first single, "Just a Kiss," became their fifth country #1, although it did not crossover to the pop chart.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Oct. 17).

The question of who was the real creative force behind Oasis--if you don't think it hasn't been answered yet--may become even clearer this year as former member Noel Gallagher follows his former bandmates' new group, Beady Eye, by releasing his solo effort. Beady Eye's album Different Gear, Still Speeding, although generally well-reviewed, wasn't exactly a major hit, and Noel's absence was definitely noticed by many. So how will Noel sound on his own? Pretty good on first single, "The Death of You and Me," which finds Gallagher in his typically Beatles-esque songwriting mode. The album will include "Stop the Clocks," an unreleased Oasis track for which their 2006 hits compilation was named.

Estelle - All of Me (TBD).

British R&B/hip-hop performer Estelle has really taken her time with her third album, All of Me, the follow-up to her breakthrough second album, Shine (2008), which spawned the international hit "American Boy" with Kanye West. Singles that may appear on the album have been coming out since early 2010, such as the David Guetta-produced "Freak" with Kardinal Offishall, which interpolated Soul II Soul's '80s classic "Back to Life," and the upbeat, soulful "Fall in Love," which sounded an awful lot like "American Boy." I haven't seen a firm date for this yet, but it is rumored to be coming sometime before the end of the year.

Black Keys - TBD (TBD).

Also without firm information is the seventh studio album from blues rockers The Black Keys, the follow-up to their grand Brothers of last year. All I've heard about this is that the songs are going to be really fast, so much so that the band's worried about playing them live. Sounds cool.

Kasabian - Velociraptor (Sept. 19).

British rock band Kasabian has continued to ride an upward trajectory. Their third and most recent album, 2009's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, was a Mercury Prize nominee, Q Magazine's best album of 2009 and double-platinum in Britain. It also delivered the #3 hit "Fire," the band highest-charting single. For this fourth album, the band has once again worked with American producer Dan the Automator. I haven't heard anything from this yet, although a few tracks have apparently surfaced. The first single, "Days Are Forgotten," will be released a week before the album.

Wilco - The Whole Love (Sept. 26).

Alternative band Wilco has been on my radar screen the last few years, ever since I became particularly taken by their sixth album, Sky Blue Sky (2007). It's self-titled follow-up from 2009 was less satisfying, but still worthwhile. For this eighth album, the band departed longtime label Nonesuch to release their first recording on their own label, dBpm. First single, "I Might," is fairly upbeat and tastefully retro with doses of '60s-styled guitar effects.

Nirvana - Nevermind 20th Anniversary Edition (Sept. 26).

A re-release makes my list of fall's most essential albums? When it's a remastered version of the most significant rock album released in my lifetime, then yes, it's a must. Nevermind has been remastered and greatly expanded with B-sides and live tracks, plus a second disc of additional studio and live material. A "super deluxe" version includes two more discs: one of the producer's rough cuts of the song and a second disc of live cuts.



Example - Playing in the Shadows (Sept. 5). British rapper-singer, hip-hop/dance artist Example releases his third album, featuring recent #1 hit "Changed the Way You Kiss Me" and new Nero-produced single, "Stay Awake."

Melanie C - The Sea (Sept. 5) - Although it may sound like it if you just hear its name, this is not a self-titled album. The former Spice Girl is up to album #5. Even if she's not a major chart name anymore, she's still enjoying the most enduring solo career of any of her former bandmates. First single, "Think About It" is a charged, upbeat affair that I imagine will sound quite nice on British radio.

Ladytron - Gravity the Seducer (Sept. 9). British synthpop group releases its fifth album, the follow-up to 2008's Velocifero.

The Kooks - Junk of the Heart (Sept. 12). English indie band, best known for their first albums' hits "Naive" and "She Moves in Her Own Way," return with their third album, the follow-up to 2008's Konk.

Ed Sheeran - + (Sept. 12). British singer-songwriter releases his debut featuring recent surprise hit "The A Team" and new single "You Need Me."

Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know (Sept. 12). English folk singer Laura Marling achieved a fair level of mainstream success with her second album, last year's winning I Speak Because I Can. Now she returns with her third album.

Demi Lovato - Unbroken (Sept. 20). The Disney star had her first major mainstream hit this summer with "Skyscraper." Expect Unbroken, her third solo album, to follow suit with a more mature although clearly pop-oriented sound, with production assists from the likes of Timbaland and Ryan Tedder.

Tori Amos - Night of Hunters (Sept. 20). Amos goes totally acoustic on her 12th album, a release coming from a German label.

James Morrison - The Awakening (Sept. 26). The British troubadour had his biggest hit yet about 2 years ago with his last album's second single, "Broken Strings," a collaboration with Nelly Furtado. This is his third album. Don't know much about it yet.

Blink-182 - Neighborhoods (Sept. 27). The pop-punk band has been missing for the last 5 or so years, but returns to release this sixth studio album, featuring current single "Up All Night."


Feist - Metals (Oct. 3). Canadian Feist broke out big in 2007 with her third album, The Reminder. Even though I wasn't bowled over by it, it had quite a few decent songs, like "1,2,3,4," which Feist remade into a kiddie version for her appearance on Sesame Street, and "Limit to Your Love," beautifully remade by James Blake earlier this year. Feist even appeared on the last Wilco album. The first single, "How Come You Never Go There," will be released in late September.

Erasure - Tomorrow's World (Oct. 3). Incredibly, Erasure are still making music. This is their 14th album! I actually rather like the first single, "When I Start to (Break It All Down)," which is already out. Frankmusik, whose own second album, Do It in the AM, is out September 26, is the producer.

You Me at Six - Sinners Never Sleep (Oct. 3). English rock band releases its third album.

Mary J. Blige - My Life II...The Journey Continues (Oct. 4). For her tenth studio album, Blige is billing this as a sequel to her 1994 album, My Life. According to the album's Wikipedia entry, she's collaborated with just about everybody to deliver it.

Radiohead - TKOL RMX 1234567 (Oct. 10). Radiohead gather up remixes from their latest album, The King of Limbs.

Bjork - Biophilia (Oct. 10). With Steve Jobs leaving Apple, the technology super-giant will need new starpower to sell its brand. Bjork will attempt to do so with her seventh album, which was recorded, in part, using an iPad and will reportedly be billed as an "app album."

Steps - The Ultimate Collection (Oct. 10). If you already own Gold, their pretty comprehensive 2001 greatest hits set, then there's little point in this, which is pretty much the same lineup except it offers "You'll Be Sorry," "I Know Him So Well" and "Dancing Queen" instead of "Baby Don't Dance," "Words Are Not Enough" and "Only in My Dreams."

Evanescence (Oct. 11). There was a time this band was huge, back in 2003-2004 when they had massive hits with "Bring Me to Life" and "My Immortal." Seven years later, they aren't exactly a household name anymore, and it's been 5 years since they've put out anything. First single "What You Want" is already out. It's on the harder end of what we've heard from the band. Reminds me a lot of Linkin Park.

Patrick Stump - Soul Punk (Oct. 17). Fall Out Boy's lead singer goes solo, turning more towards pop for this debut. First single, "This City," featuring rapper Lupe Fiasco, is already out and it sounds great. Looking forward to this.

Taio Cruz - Troublemaker (Oct. 17). The man behind recent super-hits "Break Your Heart" and "Dynamite" puts out his third album. I'm a little surprised nothing has appeared on radio from this yet though, which signals to me that it might be pushed back.

Matt Cardle - Letters (Oct. 17). Like clockwork, last year's X Factor winner will release his debut album this fall. First single, the Gary Barlow-penned "Run for Your Life" will accompany it.

Drake - Take Care (Oct. 24). Canadian R&B singer Drake releases his second album, featuring first single "Headlines," already a top 40 hit in the US.

Justice - Audio, Video, Disco (Oct. 25) French electronic group who scored the hit "D.A.N.C.E." off their first album, Cross, returns with a second.


Florence + the Machine (Nov. 7). Second album from the one-time indie singer who scored quite a few hits from her first album, Lungs (most notably"Dog Days Are Over," "Rabbit Heart" and "You've Got the Love"). First single, "What the Water Gave Me," is already out.

Olly Murs (TBD). All I know about this second album from Murs will feature recent #1 hit "Heart Skips a Beat," but otherwise no details yet.

Pixie Lott (Nov. 7). Also putting out a second album, featuring new single "All About Tonight."

The Wanted (Nov. 7). Also putting out a second album, featuring recent #1 hit "Glad You Came" and Comic Relief single "Gold Forever."

Maverick Sabre (Nov. 7). Debut album for the British singer/rapper and parent album of his recent hit single "Let Me Go."

JLS (TBD). Third album, featuring recent #1 hit "She Makes Me Wanna."

Leona Lewis - Glassheart (Nov. 28). After a somewhat disappointing reception for her second album, Echo (2009), Lewis tries again with this third album, featuring Avicii-stealing sampling single "Collide."

Loick Essien - Identity (TBD). His debut, featuring recent British #2 hit "How We Roll."

Westlife - Greatest Hits II (TBD). Their first hits compilation, 2002's Unbreakable, spanned the group's first 3 years and featured 11 UK #1s. By comparison, during the last 9 years for which this set will span, they've only had 3 #1s ("Mandy," "You Raise Me Up" and "The Rose"), but nevertheless those plus their 8 other top 10 hits during that time and a sprinkling of new tracks should be enough to make this worthwhile for fans.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 - September 10, 2011

1.(4) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 (feat. Christina Aguilera)

It's almost the end of summer, and we get an appropriately summery song to close it in "Moves Like Jagger," the second #1 hit for Maroon 5. It's a pretty remarkable turnaround for them. While their first two albums generated monster hits, their last album, Hands All Over, managed to yield only the #14 single "Misery." Until now that is, since the album was re-released in July with this track added.

This is also the fifth #1 hit for Christina Aguilera, who hasn't been at #1 in 10 years since she topped the quart as part of the "Lady Marmalade" quartet. She also scored three #1 hits from her self-titled 1999 debut. Not that they are rivals, but this puts Aguilera tied with Britney Spears in terms of #1s, after Spears has scored four of her five #1s in the last 3 years.

3.(7) Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People

Ever wonder what it looks like to transition from being an "indie" pop band to just being a pop band? Well, here's your answer, as Foster the People makes another nice jump to #3. I just reviewed their album this week, which is really great. I think there are definitely more hits to come.

4.(6) Lighters - Bad Meets Evil (feat. Bruno Mars)

"Lighters" reaches a new peak position at #4.

5.(1) Last Friday Night (TGIF) - Katy Perry

Katy Perry takes a big dive from #1 this week. Frankly, I'm not surprised, as I think the song was probably barely #1 last week. Perry's had a single in the top 10 every week for the last 15 months. With no follow-up in sight yet, I think she's probably going to be ending that streak soon.

10.(15) Stereo Hearts - Gym Class Heroes (feat. Adam Levine)

Adam Levine pulls a nice trick this week, bookending the top 10 with his band's #1 hit and his solo guest turn on Gym Class Heroes' latest single at #10. This is the group's second top 10 hit after "Cupid's Chokehold," which hit #4 in 2007.

11.(17) Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna

"Moves Like Jagger" is the only perfect end-of-summer hit on the chart this week. Here's another, Rihanna's fifth top 40 from her fifth album Loud, which looks set to become another top 10 hit for her soon. The song is this week's digital gainer. It's certainly making up for Rihanna's last single, "California King Bed," which was a surprising flop in the US, peaking at #37.

12.(10) I Wanna Go - Britney Spears

I'm surprised to see this fall out of the top 10. It peaked at #7 a few weeks ago and although it's still climbing steadily at top 40 radio--where it may even become #1 soon--overall, it's not doing as well.

16.(35) You and I - Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is the biggest mover within the top 40 this week, making a 19-spot jump to #16 with her 11th top 40 hit.

19.(34) Someone Like You - Adele

Also making a nice jump this week is Adele, with her follow-up to the recent #1 hit "Rolling in the Deep." "Someone Like You" was a #1 hit in Britain earlier this year, and now looks sure to be a big hit in the US too. I expect it will have a big jump again next week, since it's currently the #1 single at iTunes.

37.(56) In the Dark - Dev

American singer Dev scores her first solo top 40 hit this week as "In the Dark" makes a nice 19-point jump to #37. Prior to "In the Dark," Dev is best known for her vocal on last year's #1 hit from Far*East Movement, "Like a G6."

38.(44) Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan

I can't imagine there have been very many Romanians to score top 40 hits in the US. So it's pretty remarkable that there have been two this year. Late last year and early this year Romanians Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina had a top 20 hit with "Stereo Love." Now fellow countrywoman Alexandra Stan scores a top 40 hit with "Mr. Saxobeat," a song that's been #1 in many countries.