So just on a whim, I swung by shayne-ward.com yesterday, and was rewarded with a new blog entry. Lots of sun, blah blah blah…depressing World Cup result, blah blah blah…and then the good stuff:
My recording sessions are coming to a close and the next step is to choose the first single..exciting! Once the first single has been decided things will fall into place very soon! That’s when all systems are go. There’s a real buzz from myself and the label and we’re very excited about my return to the stage. Seeing all of you again is a huge deal for me. I miss you all like crazy and I’m really looking forward to this.
Post goes on to mention training, Temper Trap, and Glastonbury. If you got back a bit on Twitter, Shayne told a fan over the weekend that he will probably be playing a gig in London in September or October, which seems about right to get a project off the ground that has just been finished up. In the meantime, we will just have to listen to the new Maroon 5 track “Misery” over and over. I’m convinced that if the song had come out earlier, Katy Perry would not be #1 on the charts right now. Consolation comes with a pic of Shayne at the driving range, showing off the results of his training.
– Recently, I had the pleasure of penning a guest post for Brad over at Wacky On the Junk. He got the idea of asking some of his actual and virtual friends to submit five albums or songs that “changed their lives”, and I was flattered to have him ask me to contribute. Since I don’t ever do anything the easy way, I struggled for a week or so to pull together something that made sense to me until Adele’s “Hometown Glory” came up on my iTunes. From there, it was clear that I would be talking about ballads, and I came up with Five Ballads that Left a Mark.
Among the titles on that list is Prince’s “Adore”, which I described as “my favorite song from my favorite album of all time (Sign o’ the Times).” There’s a reason that BET paid homage to Prince on its BET Awards show last night, and that song, although never a single, to this day gets played on any self-respecting “Quiet Storm” show on R&B stations across the country. While it wasn’t my favorite Prince tribute (that honor goes to Janelle Monae, who I will address in the next couple of days), Alicia Keys did a pretty great version of “Adore” complete with piano climbing and some pretty impressive high notes.
– Tomorrow sees the release of the Scissor Sisters’ Night Work, which looks to be a return to form after the brief diversion that was Ta-Dah. Don’t get me wrong…Ta was a good album, but it wasn’t the stellar work that we were spoiled with on their debut. From what I’ve heard, I really like the more grimy and gritty vibe on Night Work, and a highlight so far has been “Any Which Way”. From what I’ve been told, their performance of “Any” at Glastonbury was one to remember, but maybe that’s because Kylie Minogue showed up and tore it up. Personally, I love Ana Matronic channeling Sandra Bernhard on the bridge.
– With all the musical disappointments in the world (the failure of Mini Viva, Xtina’s new album, Katy Perry at #1), we could use a surprise to cheer us up. Enter Sophie Ellis Bextor, who showed up at NYC Pride yesterday and performed for (and with) the hot, sweaty boys on the Pier. Does this mean that she is going to give the US a go when she releases the next full-length album? Or was she just in the neighborhood and thought she’d just hang out with her gay fans? Either way, who woulda thought?
So a few days of downtime to get life and everything that goes with it in order turned into almost 2 weeks away. My 94-year-old grandfather passed away, and while I wasn’t able to get back to see the family right away (that’s coming in July), I have had to take some time and process everything. Life is chaotic but still okay. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads that stuck around and did the right thing. You know who you are…
– Billboard posted an excellent retrospective last week of the 50 biggest hits of Michael Jackson on the Hot 100. These types of reviews are always interesting to me, but when you have all of the chart data at your fingertips, it’s the chart version of catnip to a music dork like me. I was very surprised by the song atop the listing, but once you break it down it makes perfect sense. Here’s a little fact I never knew: Michael recorded “State of Shock” with Freddie Mercury before he teamed up with Mick Jagger.
– PMN favorite Tino Coury is on course to score his first Top 40 pop hit, as “Diary” is poised to move from #45 to #40 on this week’s Pop Radio airplay chart. Final numbers aren’t in quite yet, but this has been a long time coming. The guy has been travelling all over the country, playing shows wherever they will have him, and it seems like that hard work has finally paid off. With several songs ahead of his dropping rapidly, Tino should be able to cover some decent ground in a short amount of time. Here’s a short clip of Tino singing a song I assume will be on his debut album this fall called “Miss America”.
– Speaking of slow-building hits, VV Brown is at #49 as of this evening on iTunes with “Shark in the Water”. I won’t lie…I thought this track was dead in the water, but it has been hanging around and popping up in unusual places. I walked into a fast-food restaurant a few weeks ago, and the video for “Shark” was playing on the in-store TV network. I’m sure that opening for Maroon 5 this summer won’t hurt her profile one bit. Here’s hoping that the trend of talented British artists finding success here in the US continues.
In addition to her music, VV also has a series of comics out called The City of Abacus. Being a big fan of comics from an early age, my ears perked up a bit when I heard about it. Check out the video below where she talks about her favorites, as well as the inspiration for the series. For more info, you can check out thecityofabacus.com.
– Upcoming posts will feature reviews of concerts by La Roux, Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu. The summer hasn’t even formally started, and it is already a hot one.
One of the disadvantages of being a British pop music fan living in a different country is that sometimes you have to play catch-up with the social context of some chart entries. For example, every year there is at least one novelty charity single where I haven’t heard of someone featured on the track, and yet it’s a top five smash. Such was also the case with Fyfe Dangerfield’s recent Top 10 UK hit “She’s Always a Woman”, featured in a John Lewis TV advert. Besides the fact that I’m not even familiar with the department store, I had never heard of Fyfe, who was also a member of Guillemots, a group whose sole song I knew prior was “Get Over It”.
Despite how much separation there has been of music from mainstream media in the US recently (just look at the pitiful music coverage in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly if you don’t believe it), there are occasionally powerful moments of music and TV meeting that are undeniable. I remember the overwhelming emotion that took me over as I watched the final scene of the final episode of Six Feet Under, or the perfection of using Dirty Vegas’ “Days Go By” for a car commercial shot at night. Such is the power of Fyfe’s version of the Billy Joel classic “She’s Always a Woman”. And before you even think about trashing Mr Joel, please know that I was born and raised in New York State. Respect.
Although “Woman” will always be first and foremost a Billy Joel song, there’s something in Fyfe’s delivery and tone that sounds genuine and authentic to me. To take a song as iconic as “Woman” and to instantly own it is an ability that not many artists can do once, let alone multiple times. If you are wondering if Fyfe is capable of doing it more than once, check out his take on “Call the Shots” from Girls Aloud, which he has been performing live recently.
So he can do covers, but can he carry a whole CD? The answer is absolutely yes. His US debut Fly Yellow Moon is a mix of moody ballads and happy upbeat tracks that draw influences from all over the place. You can hear the 60s in the harmonies on “So Brand New” and the 80s in the drum machine-driven “Any Direction”, which begs the question “does there need to be a musical cohesion to make a solid album”? For me, the answer is “maybe”. While I really enjoy the music on Fly Yellow Moon, I can play it straight through or on shuffle and still feel the same disconnect between tracks. So it’s not Dark Side of the Moon…big deal. The music is solid, and Fyfe has a strong, emotive vocal throughout. I was immediately drawn to “She Needs Me”, as it is very reminiscent of James Morrison, but “When You Walk In the Room” has an irresistible joy to it, and “Barricades” is a gorgeous ballad that reminds me of some classic 70s sound that makes brooding feel appealing. Sadly, “She’s Always a Woman” is not on the US release, but maybe a department store chain in the US can buy the rights for a commercial, and another hit might be born. Whether or not “Woman” see a release, Fyfe deserves a shot at winning over the US.
A couple of weeks ago, there was some Twitter banter between Robyn and Kelis about a tour occurring, but there weren’t any specific details. Turns out that the tour is actually happening, and it’s coming sooner rather than later. Robyn posted tour dates this morning, and you can even get advanced purchase tickets. Two tickets for the San Francisco show also only cost $5 in service charges for a grand total of $55. For this show, that’s a bargain, so it looks like I am taking a weekend trip to the SFO on July 24th. Here is the full calendar for Robyn’s dates:
07-16 Chicago, IL – Pitchfork Music Festival
07-17 Detroit, MI – Crofoot Ballroom – Buy Tickets
07-22 Solana Beach – Belly Up Tavern – Buy Tickets
07-23 Los Angeles, CA – The Music Box (w/Kelis)
07-24 San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine (w/Kelis)
07-27 Boston, MA – House of Blues (w/Kelis)
07-30 Toronto, Ontario – Disco Lemonade: Summer Mashup Festival (did someone tell Paul about this?)
07-31 Montreal, Quebec – Osheaga Festival – Buy Tickets
08-02 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club (w/Kelis)
08-03 Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero (w/Kelis)
08-05 New York, NY – Webster Hall (w/Kelis)
Anyone else planning on catching her live? You can always celebrate the announcement of the tour dates by picking up the “Dancing on My Own” single on iTunes. For those of you in the UK, you can pre-order the single, but it won’t be available for download until July 13th.
It has been more than six months now since Lady GaGa released The Fame Monster upon the world, and it’s clear that her dominance on the pop charts has only been cemented by the diversity of sounds and influences that she incorporates into her ever-expanding palate. While The Fame was primarily a RedOne-driven vibe, Monster is much more sonically diverse, even if lyrically it doesn’t stray too much from the themes of its predecessor. I mean, who would have expected a tribute to Ace of Base on a Lady GaGa record? Then again, who even knows what to expect from GaGa anymore?
So the video for Alejandro will premiere next week, but the Lady will be on Larry King this evening, and reports have her bringing along a clip from the video. Her folks have really done a great job of promoting videos, although I wonder about the need for these clips to promote singles, as they come out well after the singles are ascending the charts. That can only meant that she must actually LIKE making videos, which is refreshing after hearing so many artists talk about videos being a necessary evil. Here’s a preview of tonight’s interview where GaGa talks about the Lupus rumors, as well as what was in the works with Michael Jackson. Gotta love the Larry King tribute outfit.
I haven’t heard anything official about the next single from The Fame Monster, but if I ruled the world, it would be a no-brainer that “Monster” would finally see a formal release. David Fudge, the guy behind the “Party in the F.I.P” video that caused a stir a few months back, put together a pretty impressive clip that has a “Monster” for just about anybody’s taste.