– I’ve been talking a lot about Taio Cruz and JLS crossing over to the US, and it appears that the first half of my prediction is starting to come true. Taio is making a pretty strong move at Top 40 radio, almost doubling its airplay in one week’s time and already getting airplay on 112 stations. “Break Your Heart” has “hit” stamped all over it, especially with the hit-prone Ludacris on board. Now let’s see if that airplay translates into sales…there’s a good chance it will, given that single #2 has to be “Dirty Picture” with Ke$ha.
– Another test of whether airplay converts to sales will be the upcoming full-length for Jason DeRulo, whose “In My Head” makes him two-for-two on Top 10 hits (“Whatcha Say” hit #1 in 2009). JR Rotem has the touch when it comes to producing hit singles, but that doesn’t always translate on the sales side. Sean Kingston has had several singles go platinum or higher in the US, but his first album only went Gold, and the second album debuted and peaked way down at #37. Having said that, I don’t think that Sean and Jason are fully comparable, since Jason’s music is a bit more distinct, while Sean’s singles almost always have the same vibe. I have high hopes for Jason…let’s hope the record-buying public has the same desire.
– I would be remiss in not mentioning that the strongest song at Top 40 right now is Lady A’s “Need You Now”, which blasts past the Top 20 and into the Top 15 this week. Making this move even more impressive is that it has the greatest gain in airplay with about 15-20 stations less than all of the songs around it on the chart. It may sound like a smash to the more mainstream stations, but it appears that the urban-leaning stations are not quite sold on it yet. I guarantee they will come around, and that this will lead to even more longevity on the chart as they realize just how well the song will resonate with their listeners. I’ve already got plans to see them here in Denver in October as they open for Tim McGraw, along with Love and Theft, whose “Runaway” ranked among my favorite songs of 2009. Check it out below:
I saw this pop up earlier today, but Bill over at about.com gets props for sharing the new Janet track “Heartbeat Love”. A similar version of this song called “Not My Love” surfaced about a month ago, but that version was credited to Pitbull with Janet listed as “featured”. It’s pretty cool to hear the evolution of a song through these leaks, although I am sure that wasn’t producer Darkchild’s plan. Anyway, here’s the version that leaked last month. Notice the prominent Pitbull rap:
And then here’s the verison that came out today. Not a ton of difference, but you can hear some shifting around in how things are pieced together, with some elements showing up in different spots.
I’m not sure what I am more shocked at…that Paloma got a fourth single released in the form of “Upside Down”, that said single is not “Stargazer”, or that she would willingly appear in a video for this single where there is next to no budget whatsoever. I have loved the visual aspects of her first few videos, but this one just falls flat. However, any Paloma Faith single is a good thing, so let’s be glad that the record label is still behind her.
The past few days have brought some seriously hot jams across my radar, so I’ve gotta share them with all of you, ’cause that’s what I do.
– Toni Braxton “Make My Heart” – I already shined a light on “Yesterday“, single #1 from Toni’s upcoming CD Pulse, but single #2 just takes it to another level. While “Yesterday” was the sound of the moment that you could have just as easily heard Leona Lewis or Jordin Sparks singing, “Heart” is a serious club-banger that I don’t think sounds quite like anything out in the marketplace right now, and that is a good thing. Pulse comes out May 4th, and if this is the direction it is going, I’m right on board. Check out this clip of her performing on the Wendy Williams Show with some slammin’ choreography going on. You can also check out her interview here. Seriously, she tears it up!
– Tania Foster “SupaWoman” – There has been a LOT of Sugababes-slagging going on over the past few months, and based on how the singles from the still-upcoming release Sweet 7 are going, this may be their last gasp. So it’s encouraging to see someone actually pick up the torch that the ‘Babes should have been carrying and run with it like they know what they are doing. Tania has done back-up work for several folks in the UK including Tinchy Stryder, who she has sang and written with. Within a day of each other, I received an email from her management, along with reading Mike’s praise-filled post, and I was hooked. While some might take the Sugababes comparison as a slight, I mean it as a compliment. The trio working with RedOne looked like a good plan on paper, but the execution has been less than stellar. Tania’s sound is more authentic, and if this is only the first taste of things to come, count me in. “SupaWoman” deserves to be a hit, and hopefully she can do it with an assist from some of the connections she has already forged.
– Livvi Franc “Automatik” – Mike’s going to get a double-shot of props from me today, because he also tipped me off to the new Livvi Franc track “Automatik”. What is it with this girl that she changes up her k’s and her c’s? Doesn’t matter, though, because this track picks right up where Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor” left off. The song on a lyrical level isn’t brain surgery, but it is fun. After a couple of listens, that chorus will be wedged into your head.
– First off, Happy Valentines Day to all of you. You don’t need to have a special someone to enjoy the people around you that you love. And a good romantic ballad is ALWAYS a good thing. Speaking of romantic music, congrats to Trav in Michigan and Amy in Pennsylvania for leaving comments that got them a copy of the Now Love CD compilation. Those CDs will be in the mail soon. Hope y’all enjoy!
– Finally saw Avatar yesterday (on IMAX 3D…wow), and I am still stunned that James Cameron would have thought that “I See You” by Leona Lewis would be a worthy successor to “My Heart Will Go On”. While the melody worked very well in instrumental form for the scenes between Jake and Neytiri, the actual song itself is so limp and lifeless that it is probably a good thing that it is hidden at the end of the movie. No wonder this song has not charted anywhere. Oh wait…looks like it made it to #47 in Ireland. My bad.
– I feel like I need to post a small disclaimer about my We Are the World post. While I may be severely disappointed in the way this song and video came out, it does not change the fact that the people of Haiti need help, and buying “We Are the World” is not the only way to do so. There are multiple organizations out there (including Unicef, which is specifically helping the children in need) that can effectively use your donation to get resources where they are most needed. While I am sure it is great to say you supported the same charity that Susan Boyle or Jeff Bridges sang for, I would rather eliminate all of that middleman stuff and go straight to the source.
– There has been a lot of news about the music business recently, and one of the more interesting bits I have come across is that Warner Brothers is testing out a “Six Pak” format that allows an artist to put out new music faster to their fans. Country singer Blake Shelton will be the first artist to get the six-song treatment for his Hillbilly Bone CD, and it will be released on March 2nd. The single of the same name is currently at #9 and climbing on this week’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Speaking of country artists getting creative with releases, Rascal Flatts released on February 9th a limited-time digital collection called Fourteen Love Songs for the Fourteenth. The package will only be available for two weeks’ time, and contains some of their biggest ballads, including “Bless the Broken Road” and “I Melt”. You can find the collection at online shops like Amazon, but get it before the 23rd.
Is it even remotely possible for the new incarnation of “We Are the World” to live up to the legend that the original initiated? Probably not, but I am even more disappointed by the final result than even expected. Justin Bieber starting off the song was a bad omen, but wow…the spiral was quick and deep. Michael Jackson’s inclusion could have been a nice touch, but instead, it was marred by poor editing. The video of Janet singing along was so poorly edited that for a moment you assume it is a LaToya video. Top it off with a hip-hop inclusion that sounds like a trainwreck, and you wonder why they even bothered. Check out the video and see for yourself…
After a wintry start to the week here in Denver, it’s a pretty glorious mid-winter day, with temps well above average, and bright sunny skies to reflect off of the leftover snow. All you really need on a day like this is some good music in the car, and if you know me, you KNOW I’ve got that covered!
– Paulo Nutini “10/10” – Every time that this song comes up on Radio 1, I instantly turn up the radio and start beating my steering wheel into submission. There’s just something so upbeat and positive about this song that I can’t imagine how you would be mad about anything while listening to it. And in the “what did he say” category, I honestly thought he was singing “can’t get out of debt” for the first 20 or so times I heard the song.
– Cheryl Cole “Parachute” – Okay, I concede defeat. “3 Words” had some of the lamest lyrics of 2009, and “Fight For This Love” had a brilliant track with a limp vocal delivery, so I figured that Cheryl Cole would not make it to single #3. Oh, how wrong I was! “Parachute” is the first good song that Cheryl has released that matches her good-but-not-great voice. Look for this one to make it three in a row for Ms. Cole in the UK Top 10 within a couple of weeks (it debuted at #46 this week), and if Jay-Z and will.i.am have their way, wait for the inevitable US release as well. [Ed. note – it appears that Ne-Yo is on the bandwagon as well]
– Jason DeRulo “In My Head” – There are songs that grow on you, and then there are ones that smack you upside the head and demand that you love them instantly, and “In My Head” earns the respect it demands. The production is a bit more stripped than many of its counterparts, and for the first time in a long time, I catch myself wondering what this song would sound like live. I could see a band just rocking out to the chorus on this track.
– Jay Sean “Do You Remember” – I already issued my mea culpa for sleeping on “Down“, but that hasn’t been an issue with Jay Sean’s follow-up. He may have Sean Paul (sounding more inspired than he did on his own recent release that died a quick death) and Lil’ Jon (continuing his slide away from gettin’ crunk) on the track, but Jay has found a successful formula, and he’s already taken his second trip into the Top 10 with “Do You Remember”.
I was not going to comment on American Idol until they got past Hollywood week, but tonight saw what I would argue is the best first audition in the history of Hollywood Week. Andrew Garcia took a well-known pop song and changed it into something much more crunchy and edgy. It is because of moments like this that I love this show. Let’s see how long the clip stays up to be viewed:
I’ve talked about them in the past, but those funky white boys from The Real came back strong this week after a brief sabbattical with a new clip celebrating the life (and loss) of one of hip-hop’s biggest stars.
I have a fluctuating interest in Valentine’s Day, and that may come from conflicting feelings about it from my youth. For those of you who do not normally celebrate it, Valentine’s Day starts out as a reason to sugar kids up and give out Disney Princesses or Transformer valentines to all of your classmates, but evolves into that one-on-one declaration of love that many adults struggle over. For me, Valentine’s Day always manifests itself musically, either as a celebration of the love I am currently experiencing, or as a balm for those times when being single and Cupid collide. Based on selections from this year’s Country-leaning playlist, I think you will be able to tell where my heart is at currently.
– Brad Paisley “Then” – Paisley normally has the critics in the palm of his hand, but when “Then” was released in advance of American Saturday Night, it was derided by many as a bit bland and not as clever as he normally is. However, for myself and a lot of other music fans, “Then” is a sweet and real tale about how the love between two people grows farther and further than you can ever imagine. Picture being in the early weeks and months of a relationship, and having someone play this song for you and telling you that these lyrics remind them of you:
I remember, trying not to stare the night that I first met you.
You had me mesmerized.
And three weeks later in the front porch light, taking forty five minutes to kiss goodnight.
I hadn’t told you yet, but I thought I loved you then
– Ty Herndon “Loved Too Much” – There were two types of country hits in the 90s…those “New Traditional” songs that harkened back to the Golden Age of Country Music, and those that could be played on Top 40 radio stations almost as easily as they could be on Country radio. Ty Herndon’s music definitely leaned toward the pop side of country, although he only barely hit the Top 40 on the Hot 100 chart one time (“It Must Be Love” at #38). A perfect example of Ty’s pop-country sound can be found on “Loved Too Much”, which tells the story of a man who isn’t able to casually be in a relationship.
I need to be loved too much I need to be held too tight
I need to hear someone say at the end of day
I’ll make everything right.
– Dixie Chicks “Never Say Die” – Way back on their major label debut, the Chicks already had some of the best writers in Nashville offering up their wares to be Dixiefied. George Ducas and Radney Foster capture the minutiae of a relationship that has seen some pretty big moments, because sometimes you don’t realize what you have until life slows to a crawl for a moment. Martie Maguire can milk some amazing emotion out of a few violin strings, and this song is a perfect example of that. “Die” is one of multiple highlights on Wide Open Spaces, and occasionally it will drift up to the surface for no apparent reason.
We’ve both had our share of doubts
Waited out those ole storm clouds
Boy it’s nights like this that I know why
Lovers like you and me will never say die
– Norah Jones “Come Away With Me” – So the mix closes with a request to run away to anywhere but here. Has a 3-minute song ever sounded as lush as this song does? Within those three minutes, you are transported to a cabin in the woods, a mountaintop, a field on the plains, and a bus heading for points unknown. The amazing thing to me is how much of a classic this song sounded like upon its release, and it was from Norah’s debut album. I have enjoyed music from each of her successive records, but I fear that lightning may not strike twice for Norah. Then again, wouldn’t most artists beg, borrow or steal to have one record like Come Away With Me?
And I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come?
So speaking of “Come Away With Me”, it appears on the new Now That’s What I Call Love collection that came out last week. The cool thing about this collection is that it has a variety of sounds, including rock, country, pop, and R&B. Coolest inclusion? Howie Day’s “Collide”, which remains one of my favorite songs from the late 90s. There’s even one for the potential adulterer in your life, courtesy of Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel”.
Is your interest piqued? Well, thanks to the folks at EMI, I have 2 copies of this 20-song collection to give away. If you leave a comment between now and Tuesday afternoon, you will be entered to win a copy of the CD. Comment away!