Thursday, December 15, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Wins and Fails: 12/24/2011

Hey guys, it's been awhile since I've posted in this field- and a lot has happened. Let's get into it.


#1 Rihanna f/ Calvin Harris- We Found Love

This song has done a complete 180- from initial disappointment to one of the biggest hits of Rihanna's career. In fact, as it spends its 7th week at #1, it now ties "Umbrella" as her biggest hit ever. As it's still locked in the #1 position on iTunes, I don't see "It Will Rain" or "Sexy and I Know It" stealing the top spot from her- officially making the song Rihanna's biggest hit ever. The song has actually landed on a lot of critics' year end lists, and seems to be just a down and out, genuine, career-defining smash. We'll see how the very mediocre "You Da One" performs before the instant radio hit "Talk That Talk" gets released as the 3rd single.

#4 Katy Perry- The One That Got Away

Capitol records pulled the same trick this week with the 6th single off of Teenage Dream as they did with T.G.I.F.- slashing the price to 69 cents in the iTunes store at the song's peak interest time in order to boost sales. While I'm sure Capitol was hoping the song would vault to #1, they have to be excited about a 6th single getting a release, let alone reaching the top 5. I don't think it will have the momentum to get to #1, though it provides yet another hit for her catalog and is still an absolute bonafide hit. However, we'll see what happens when her label unleashes their 2nd sneaky tactic- releasing a remix with B.o.B. to iTunes next week. I just wish the song wasn't so damn depressing.

#24 Gavin DeGraw- Not Over You

It looks like middle America is giving Gavin DeGraw his third top 40 hit with "Not Over You", a formulaic song to cater to the VH1 crowd. I have to give credit where it's due, as his contemporaries and former top 40 staples Nickleback, Daughtry, and 3 Doors Down have struggled immensely at pop radio this year. The song probably won't make it too much higher on the charts, but it should at least keep him from the brink of irrelevancy for a little while longer.

#57 Tyga- Rack City

If you're unfamiliar, Tyga is a Young Money signee that's poised to be next in line after the blockbuster success of Drake and Nicki Minaj. Problem is, while he's a decent rapper, he doesn't have the personality or individualism to come anywhere close to their level of success. Tyga has dropped countless promotional singles and mixtapes, and it looks like he might finally have some success with "Rack City", as it darts from #73-57. The song isn't really anything to write home about, so who knows if we'll see it hit the top 40- I'm just kind of surprised that it's already received more support than I ever would have thought. Apparently- just make a song for the strip club and you're golden.


#29 Lady Gaga- Marry the Night

Yes, Gaga's 5th single (well, 4th if you don't want to count the flop known as "Judas") from "Born This Way" is still on its ascent- but the reason it's in the fail column this week is that the song is showing early indications of missing the top 10. iTunes sales have remained relatively stagnant as it now sits at #37- and while it's perfect for the current top 40 format, that alone can't propel it into massive success. Billboard just released their year end charts, which doesn't take into account weeks at #1, but weeks and concurrent positions a song charted. Though "Born This Way" on paper is Gaga's biggest hit ever, it came in at a measly #18 on the year end charts, as it peaked with huge interest initially but dropped like a rock afterward. Radio hasn't supported the "Born This Way" singles like they did "The Fame"- is Gaga just too polarizing now for the south, or do the singles just not add up to "Bad Romance" or "Pokerface"? I think it's a little bit of both, as the video for the song feels bloated and overthought. Nevertheless, "Marry the Night" is classic Gaga, and its performance should be a representation of where she stands at this very moment with top 40.

#55 Beyonce f/ Andre 3000- Party

It is with deep and utter sadness for me to report on the relative failure of the "4" project from a commercial standpoint. It's the first actual Beyonce album I've taken the time to listen to all the way through, and the artistry, growth, and timelessness of the sound pretty much made it the album of my summer. Unfortunately, it looks like two of the three songs I thought would be absolute smashes have been failures. "Countdown"'s frequent rhythm changes proves too challenging for top 40 radio, and while the R&B format supported "Party" (current peak of #2) it looks like it either wasn't promoted to top 40 or was met with little interest. It's really a shame, as this song is one of my favorites of the year and deserves success. Beyonce took a huge risk with "4", and it looks like the decision to release the wrong songs as lead singles killed any momentum the project had going.

#80 Avicii- Levels

This is the song that Flo Rida took the 1962 Etta James sample from, used in his chorus and made his biggest hit since his other borrowed-inspiration smash, "Right Round". "Levels" was one of the biggest strictly dance music success stories of 2011, and for a minute there- I thought it might actually cross over. Which would have been awesome, because this song is SO MUCH better than "Good Feeling". 2011 was the year that dance music exploded in the underground, and the fact that this song is charting at all is a testament to that movement. It would just be super cool if they played the song at top 40. "Mr. Saxobeat" and "Take Over Control" were played every 15 minutes on KIIS-FM- why can't this one too?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top 25 Songs of 2011: 10-6

10. M83- Midnight City
I heard the song played on KROQ the other day, and now I’m watching its chart performance like a hawk. French based “laptronica” band M83 has been making the rounds for years, but it looks like they might have their first major success on the rock charts with “Midnight City”, the lead single from the acclaimed “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”. It’s the perfect example of what M83 does best- taking the basic song structures of electro and 80’s pop music and adding a My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegazing element. The result is an air-drum worthy chorus with all the nostalgia of a John Hughes movie.

9. Adele- Rolling in the Deep
It’s hard for me to retroactively give props to songs that I’m (everyone) completely tired of, but in 2011- no one could escape this damn song. To say that 2011 was Adele’s year is an understatement- it’s like she took the year 2011 and gave it the best sex of its life. We always wonder what songs will be played 20, 50, 100 years from now- “Rolling in the Deep” is certainly one for the time capsule. Everything that needs to be said about the blues/rock/soul smash has already been said- and with the current house/electro/dubstep/hip-hop craze that radio is currently welcoming, Adele’s sound was a surprising welcome. “Deep” is not only the biggest song of 2011, but will also be the most fondly remembered.

8. Tyler, the Creator- Yonkers
While Adele was the biggest story of 2011, the rise of Odd Future might be the most interesting. I’ve written quite a bit about the blogosphere phenomenon on this blog, as lead member Tyler, the Creator’s sound has given me something very few artists have this year- something completely new under the sun. We are now experiencing the direct influence of the early 2000’s rise of Eminem and the sound of The Neptunes, as the rap collectives’ average age of 20 makes them the first generation to truly be raised on those aforementioned influences. Take a Neptunes beat and place them in hell with Satan, and you might get a sound half as gloomy and introspective as that found on Tyler’s first major release, “Goblin”. With lead single “Yonkers”, a dark and menacing yet minimal beat glides while Tyler spits insane wordplay, offensive introspection on religion, and some rather interesting things he’d like to do to B.o.B and Bruno Mars. Also- my vote for video of the year. Disgusting, provocative, and interesting- just like Tyler himself.

7. Lil B- I Seen That Light
It’s hard to say if Lil B is a mad genius or makes absolutely no sense at all- and it has critics and blogs cut straight down the middle. It’s hard to find middle ground, as it’s difficult to rummage through his 1500+ songs posted online- but I invested quite a bit of time this summer into B’s first charting album, ‘I’m Gay.” (tongue in cheek purposes) B possesses both the naivety and cockiness of a 20 year old new to fame- but from an instrumental standpoint- it’s one of the most gorgeous rap albums I’ve heard. I mean, shit straight out of a Disney movie. Most of the tracks are laced with strings, horns, the works- and “I Seen That Light” demonstrates what the album does best. After a good 30 listens, I can still only recite the first few lines from each verse from memory- but who cares when the beat fills you with this much joy?

6. Cults- Go Outside
New York indie duo Cults rose to indie prominence this year on the back of a sweet Columbia record deal. The sound is about half reverb-heavy indie pop, half Shangri La’s inspired girl-group pop. The nostalgic, hook-heavy melodies with standard indie reverb made groups like Cults along with Wild Flag and Dum Dum Girls their own trendy subgenre this year. “Go Outside”, their debut single that launched them to their present deal, is quite simple. In fact, the song rarely strays from the hook presented within the first second. In fact, I can’t think of too many songs that are so reliant on a single hook, but I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be humming the tune after it finishes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Top 25 Songs of 2011: 15-11

15. Lady Gaga- Hair
Say what you want about Gaga, but there really doesn’t seem to be many others out there that work as hard as she does. Here we have a mainstream pop star that writes her own material, relentlessly tours, does insane amounts of philanthropy and advocacy, and consistently seems to have a hit in the Billboard top 10. Sure- she’s influenced by Madonna, but since when has an artist not been inspired by another? Gaga has captured the pop culture zeitgeist over the past few years and has created a dedicated fanbase that will be with her for the rest of her career. Her sophomore effort “Born This Way” isn’t perfect by any means. It’s just like her- over indulgent, theatrical, and egocentric- but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Hair”, an absolute standout track (and hopefully future single) contains borderline silly lyrics about her hair representing her personal freedom, but it’s incredibly catchy and perfectly fits the dance-pop mold that made Gaga Gaga.

14. Kanye West & Jay-Z- Otis
Thank God that the collaborative effort from Kanye and Jay didn’t end up like the ill-fated Jay and R. Kelly collaboration “Best of Both Worlds” about 10 years ago. Everything Kanye ever releases is met with critical adoration (justifiably so) and it doesn’t stop with the lead single from one of the most anticipated releases of the year- “Watch the Throne”. If we dissect the song “Otis” itself, it plays to Kanye’s strengths- but it seems like a very bold and assertive statement to release this as the lead single off the album. Radio supported the song somewhat, but when’s the last time you’ve heard a song on the radio with no chorus and very little bass? (Besides Adele of course) “Otis” mine as well have been billed as Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, as it feels more like “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” or “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”- a promotional single not intended to make huge waves, showcasing artistic integrity before the real money-making “Gold Digger” or “Stronger” is released. In this case, it’s “Ni**as in Paris”, which should hit the top 10 in a week or two.

13. Cut Copy- Take me Over
Aussie band Cut Copy has been one of my absolute favorites over the years, and while 2011’s “Zonoscope” didn’t quite measure up to their astounding 2008 effort, “In Ghost Colours”, it’s still a fucking solid album. My favorite song from the effort is “Take Me Over”, a carefree, mid-tempo, sugary pop record tweaked to perfection. Cut Copy takes the best elements of 80’s pop music and mixes that nostalgia with killer hooks, creating a sound that in 2011 seems ultimately timeless. Why does Rihanna have to be the face of 2011 pop music when we have bands like this?

12. Terius Nash (The-Dream)- Long Gone
I’ve probably spent more time listening to The-Dream than any other artist over the past few years. Yes, really. The guy who infamously wrote Rihanna’s “Umbrella” in 15 minutes has an ear for perfection in R&B production, and it results in endless replay value. Every track he’s ever produced sounds like it’s been meticulously thought over- every sound coming out of the speaker is there for a very important reason. “Long Gone” takes on a new subject- his breakup from former R&B B-lister Christina Milian. Nothing from “1977”, the free mixtape from which this song is spawned, (much to the dismay of his label) compares to the highlights from his first 3 albums, but it’s still held to a much higher caliber than any of his contemporaries.

11. PJ Harvey- The Words that Maketh Murder
Where do I start with PJ Harvey? I’m the ultimate fanboy. I bought her 2000 album “Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea” when I was 14, and not long thereafter- 1993’s “Rid of Me” became my quintessential high school angst album of choice. Almost 10 albums in, she makes it a point for every release to be completely different from the last. After 2007’s sparse, piano-based “White Chalk”, Harvey taught herself yet another instrument (harpsichord) and released the very politically charged “Let England Shake” in February. The album garnered outstanding critical reviews, and will be in most critics’ top 10 lists. The single from the album, the mid-tempo “The Words That Maketh Murder”, makes blatant political references and is an instant classic addition to the Harvey library. Almost 20 years in, Harvey has consistently gained the respect of critics and fans with her brilliance. For the sake of popular music, let’s hope it continues.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Top 25 Songs of 2011: 20-16

20. Miguel- Sure Thing
I’ll start off the countdown with a smash R&B #1 that didn’t ever connect with pop audiences. LA raised Miguel helped J. Cole gain his first top 40 appearance on the pop charts in 2010 with “All I Want Is You”, but the follow up single, “Sure Thing”, proved what the hype was about. Though the lyrics are somewhat generic with that PG-13 edge that delicately pushes the envelope, (“If you the blunt/ I’ll be the lighter baby/burn it up”) the mid-tempo production and clever incorporation of a “chopped and screwed” line as part of the chorus allowed it to become one of the standout R&B smashes of 2011. After almost a year on the charts, it still sits comfortably in the R&B/Hip Hop charts’ top 20, which is a testament to the song’s replay value.

19. Toro y Moi- Still Sound
The electronic and hip-hop genres have fascinated me like no other these past two years. I’m not sure if it’s because percussion is my ultimate fetish with pop music, or that they are the two genres that seem to be continually evolving. 2010 saw the emergence of the electronic subgenre “chillwave”- a laptop induced, sampling and loop based new genre that allowed the introduction of new bands like Washed Out, Twin Sister, and… Toro y Moi. As a genre that would have never existed (or been possible) before this current era of technology, “Still Sound” s retro vibe, swanky lounge elements and abstract lyrical content make it a particular standout. For me, Toro y Moi works like Air’s music does- perfect to fall into the background at a swanky cocktail party or to be carefully dissected listening on headphones.

18. Holy Ghost- Hold Your Breath
2011 was Holy Ghost’s breakout year , and tended to be my consensus pick when needing something upbeat, poppy, and melodic. Particularly, “Hold Your Breath” is the standout track that exposes their strengths and turns them up to 11. Holy Ghost certainly aren’t the most original band around- there’s a whole generation of Depeche Mode/Cure synth-pop bands out there currently. They just seem to do it more effectively than anyone else. I’m sure that we’ll be getting lots of bands with similar sounds over the next 10 years, but there’s something special about these guys.

17. Drake- Marvin’s Room
I really don’t believe there is a mainstream artist I’ve ever personally identified more with than Drake. If I were suddenly rich and famous, my thoughts and feelings would directly reflect what Drake introspectively achieves on his sophomore effort, “Take Care”. One of the clearest examples is “Marvin’s Room”- a rude yet completely sincere drunk dial to a former flame. There’s a sense of space and atmosphere in the beats that frequent Drake collaborator Noah “40” Shebib composes, and it’s comforting to know that one of the most forward thinking R&B releases of 2011 had some legitimate airplay on the radio this year.

16. Kreayshawn- Gucci Gucci
And now for my guilty pleasure release of 2011. I know this isn’t the most artistic of tracks, but like 20 other people this year, I couldn’t stop watching the damn video on YouTube. The sheer divisiveness of the white female rapper from Oakland lit up the blogosphere this summer, and the lucrative record deal to Columbia records positioned the song to become a huge hit. It didn’t catch on like I’m sure they hoped it would, peaking outside of the top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, I can’t think of a lyric I’ve enjoyed more this year than “Bitch you ain’t a Barbie/I see you work at Arby’s/#2 super size/Hurry up I’m starving”. Kreayshawn creates a debate for the authenticity of the genre as most white rappers do. Given that our generation has been fully immersed in hip hop since we were in diapers, this was bound to happen. Plus, future gay icon.

Top 25 Songs of 2011: 25-21

25. Bon Iver- Holocene
I know, I know… why is one of the biggest critical and commercial indie success stories of 2011 just barely getting a mention? It’s weird for me. Bon Iver’s debut effort, “For Emma, Forever Ago” touched people (including myself) in a way few albums do- the sheer intimacy, meticulously layered vocal harmonies and incredible backstory had me completely obsessed in 2008. For me, when I personally invest so much into an album- it doesn’t matter how good or bad the next album is- it just doesn’t feel as special. The National’s “High Violet” is probably every bit as good as “Boxer”, but the latter holds a special place in my heart that the former will never be able to touch. The same happened this year with Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. I know it’s lazy to just pick the song that… oh, just got nominated for record and song of the year at the Grammys, (no big deal, really) but it looks as if Bon Iver will soon be a household name.

24. Penguin Prison- Don’t Fuck with My Money
An attention grabbing title I first heard on XM radio, I’m surprised the blogosphere and hipsterazzi hasn’t jumped on this group a bit more. It seems that 80’s throwback synth-pop in the indie world is dime a dozen these days, but there’s something special about this song. As I found out watching the music video, the song takes on a new meaning with referencing the Occupy Wall Street movement. Not sure if that was the original intent for the song or if it was an opportunistic move, but it does make perfect sense. They did fuck with our money after all.

23. J. Cole f/ Drake- In the Morning
I was almost convinced that J. Cole wasn’t going to happen. After endless industry hype, deafening mixtape buzz, and countless promotional singles, none of the singles seemed to gain any traction. It wasn’t until last month that Cole scored his first top 40 hit on his own with “Work Out”. “In the Morning” was supposed to be the hit to break him- a delicate, definitely Drake inspired rap ballad about, well, hitting it in the morning. The beat is irresistible after a few listens, great bars by Drake and J. Cole alike- what else is there to say? It truly shows testament to how Kanye West’s introspective soul-searching style of rap has influenced a new generation of lyricists that aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeve.

22. Wiz Khalifa- The Race
I dare you to find a better beat than this. An album track off of America’s favorite new stoner, “The Race” doesn’t exactly cover new territory for the newly famous rapper, but the song just works so well. It’s been a banner year for the “Black and Yellow” lyricist, but it genuinely puzzles me as to why this wasn’t released as a single while the painfully average “Roll Up” was. “The Race” is a relatively formulaic track that is buoyed to greatness via its beat alone. Someone give producer I.D. Labs a raise.

21. Girls- Saying I Love You
Timelessness in music is an ultimate virtue. Lo-fi indie band Girls released their first album (appropriately titled “Album”) to critical adoration in 2009, but their sound was a bit too… well, lo-fi and muddled for me to sincerely love the release despite effort. They cleaned up their sound on their sophomore effort, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”, an album that gives 2011 the middle finger and devotes itself classic 60’s and 70’s rock music. “Saying I Love You” hasn’t received the most attention off the album from critics, but I could honestly see the track being sandwiched in on The Beatles’ folk-rock influenced “Rubber Soul”. In every form of media, if I hear something composed today that could have been released any time over the past 40 years, you’ve won me over.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Summary: Wins and Fails- 11/12/11


#1 Rihanna f/ Calvin Harris- We Found Love

Rihanna has now collected her 11th #1, and it's taken her a short 6 years to do so. She's now tied Janet Jackson, and will match Madonna and Whitney Houston with her next #1. It's baffling to realize she's done all of this in a short 6 years, but she really has the perfect formula. I mean, she's completly inoffensive and her songs are pleasant listens, but really- it's difficult for me to take her seriously as an artist. Her label recruits the hottest producers, capitalizes on current trends, and creates easy consensus music. If we were to put the current state of pop music in a time capsule, Rihanna would be the best representative. The era of auto-tune and glossy hit factories have been kind to Ms. Fenty despite having absolutley no charisma or stage presence- a feat in any other era that would be unacceptable.

#10 Kelly Clarkson- Mr. Know it All

I've been following this song's chart ascent and descent very closely, as Clarkson's lead singles tend to set the stage for subsequent singles released. "Mr. Know it All" finally breaks the top 10 with a surge in digital sales from the album release, and is still growing rapidly at radio. If the song can jump one more spot, it will no longer be her weakest lead single, passing 2002's "Miss Independent"'s #9 peak. Digital sales buoyed the 2nd single from the album to #64 this week, and only time will tell how successful of a chart run she'll have from here.

#30 Big Sean- Dance (A$$)

The song with the most poignant chorus of the year benefits from the Nicki Minaj assisted remix this week, now passing "My Last" and "Marvin & Chardonnay" to become his biggest single thus far. I still can't figure out what people like about Big Sean- other than his good looks, his voice is completley indistinguishable, and his singles have been mediocre at best. The remix with Nicki Minaj (smart move) is taking off at iTunes, and the song will probably take another big jump next week. As "Dance (A$$)" is a catchy Bangladesh ripoff. (8 measures at a time alternating between bass and snare- e.g. "A Milli" by Lil Wayne, "Lemonade" by Gucci Mane) Nicki's verse runs laps around Sean's- though the song is the most interesting thing we've heard from Sean yet. The best part about the song? It's kind of fun to imitate the "ass ass ass ass ass ass" chorus.

#57 Beyonce f/ J. Cole or Andre 3000- Party

In what could be my absolute favorite single of 2011, with the strong support of R&B radio, "Party" looks like a solidified hit for queen B. Columbia is promoting the song "Countdown" to top 40 while pushing "Party" to R&B, which is a similar set-up with her last album, when "Ego" was promoted to R&B while "Halo" reached for top 40. Easily the strongest single from her "4" record, the song should have been released as the lead single, though label politics keep the ever rare and completely awesome Andre 3000 from music video treatment. OK fine, I'll stop gushing about how much I love this song now. Just watch the equally awesome music vid.

#87 Wale f/ Miguel- Lotus Flower Bomb

Wale is honestly the last artist I'd ever expect to be moving 150K in a week, but it happened last week. The DC rapper's first single was the Lady Gaga assisted "Chillin", (which no one ever really heard) amongst other subsequent attempts. The album that followed, "Attention Deficit", spent two weeks on the chart and ultimately flopped. However, fake-it-til-you-make-it Rick Ross had an ear for him, and signed him to his Maybach Music label, moving his image from left field hipster rapper to mainstream R&B hooks. The "washed up" label is no longer relevant, as it looks to be his 2nd bonafide R&B chart smash. The first single, "That Way", has been hovering around the top 5 of the R&B charts for over a month, and this single rockets to #14 on the R&B charts while still being a very new single. The momentum the song is showing predicts a future R&B #1.


#11 Dev- In the Dark

It's quite sad when a song ends its chart run peaking at #11. The song is still a huge hit single, (you can't listen to LA radio for 20 mintues without hearing it) but will never earn that bold distinction of hitting the top 10. "In the Dark" has been flirting with the top 10 for a month now, but it never quite gained the perfect combination of downloads and airplay to launch it into that stratosphere. While the song is at its current peak position of #11, the growth has stopped and will most likely tumble next week. While her sheer talent is debatable, Interscope has succeeded in launching a hit single from the post-Ke$ha sing-talk diva, and it's guarenteed we'll be hearing more from her in the future.

#78 Mindless Behavior f/ Diggy- Mrs. Right

Since the 1960's, boy bands have been one of the biggest tactics of major labels to sell records. Mindless Behavior is no exception, as the R&B genre's answer to the Justin Bieber craze comes to fruition. After opening for superstar acts like Janet Jackson and Justin Bieber, "Mrs. Right" became a moderate hit on the R&B charts landing in the top 10, but didn't exactly translate to pop success. While a catchy song, it's gonna take another gimick to make these guys a household name.

#96 Lloyd f/ Andre 3000- Dedication to my Ex (Miss That)

It is with great sadness that I start the funeral march for one of the best singles of the year. A quasi-sequel to Cee-Lo's "Fuck You", the naughty retro-vibe single first stalled at R&B peaking outside of the top 40, and has now failed to catch on at top 40 as well, peaking at #79. Lloyd left Murder Inc (the "it" label from 2001-2005) after 2009's flop album "Lessons in Love" for chart titans Interscope. The resulting album, "King of Hearts", was entirely produced by A-lister Polow Da Don, as I'm sure they felt they had a blockbuster on their hands. Instead, none of the singles have gained traction, and will keep Lloyd as R&B's go-to B-lister. I've honestly given more spins to "King of Hearts" than any other release this year, and will definitely find a spot on my year-end top 10 list.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Summary: Wins and Fails- 10/29/2011

Sorry for the delay... I've been investing my time in other things- e.g. finding another job! We'll get right into it.


#6 Rihanna f/ Calvin Harris- We Found Love

After a rather slow start compared to other lead singles from Rihanna, it looks like "We Found Love" just may have a shot at #1. The cut finally made #1 on iTunes and is continually a greatest gainer on the airplay charts. It hasn't even made top 10 at radio yet and keeps climbing. While the song sounds like it took about 15 minutes to make, I suppose the sheer simplicity of the song and vocal-less chorus serves the junk food palate of today's current trend.

#25 T-Pain f/ Lily Allen & Wiz Khalifa- 5 O'Clock

The charts haven't been kind to T-Pain over the past two years, aside from an occasional guest feature from DJ Khaled or Pitbull. After 5 (yes, count them- 5! Reverse Cowgirl, Rap Song, Take Yo Shirt Off, Best Love Song, Booty Wurk) failed initial startup singles from the autotuner's 4th album, "rEVOLVEr", it looks like he's finally caught some momentum with the "first single" from the album. It's a new interpolation of a minor overseas Lily Allen hit from 2 years ago, and I'm honestly a bit confused as to how this song is gaining so much more momentum than "Booty Wurk" ever did. It's obvious that T-Pain's heyday peaked in 2008, but it looks like radio doesn't want to forget about him just yet.

#42 Flo Rida- Good Feeling

It turns out that the last Flo Rida album tanked so badly that it completely went beneath my radar. Anchored by the mediocre "Club Can't Handle Me", the album "Only One Flo (Part 1)" peaked at a miserable #107 on the charts, buried beneath the onslaught of major label black Friday releases. Carrying on in the tradition of Flo being the least interesting thing about his hits, "Good Feeling" takes an uncredited sample from Swedish artist Avicii. Flo Rida simply does his uninteresting, monotone rap between the sample just to take up space. The song jumped more than 30 spots to this peak, so I'm sure this will be a huge hit during the lucrative shopping season. It looks as if part 2 to "Only One Flo" (so creative!) might peak within the top 100 of the album charts.

#69 Big Sean- Dance (A$$)

As we continue to feel the influence of Lil Wayne's "A Milli", anothe copycat beat has reached the hands of another copycat artist. The Bangladesh produced landmark beat of 8 bars of snare with 8 bars of bass has been copied relentlessly by Bangladesh himself amongst other artists, but the fact is- it's still one of the hottest concepts in hip hop. The minimalist, bass driven production is easily the most appealing Big Sean has put out (which isn't saying much at all) and the remix featuring Nicki Minaj is downright lovely. I feel that I don't really get Big Sean's appeal- his style, enunciation, and overall image feels extremely bland and too normal. The first two singles from his debut, "Finally Famous", are immediate skip-over tracks for me ("My All" with Chris Brown and "Marvin & Chardonnay" with Kanye & Roscoe Dash) and definitely didn't deserve the love they recieved on the R&B charts. We'll have to see how long Big Sean lasts without the big name associates.


#61 Afrojack f/ Eva Simons- Take Over Control

I always categorize this song with Alexandra Stan's "Mr. Saxobeat", as they are two club-ready songs that earned enormous success overseas last year trying to capitalize on US radio's current house fetish. While "Saxobeat" bullets to #21 this week, "Take Over Control" tumbles beneath the onslaught of country music singles in positions 50-59, dropping 16 spots to #60. Don't count out the whole euro-dance phase just yet, as there will be plenty more of these to come. It's a rare time when there are so many similarities in what works in the US and Europe.

#88 Sean Paul f/ Alexis Jordan- Got 2 Luv U

Like Flo Rida previously mentioned, Sean Paul is coming off of an all-out failure of an album from 2 years ago, as the lead single "So Fine" only made it to #50 on the charts. Looks like the follow up to his new album will go down in the books as an even less successful performer. It's a big risk coming from a flop with a new, untested artist (Alexis Jordan from "America's Got Talent" has experienced success in Europe but remains unknown in the US) and I admire the fact that he didn't just get Nicki Minaj or Bruno Mars for an A-list guest feature- but it looks like Atlantic's gamble isn't going to pay off with this song.

#98 Jennifer Lopez- Papi

While I'm sure the video for "Papi" is selling Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep a ton of Fiat 500's, it's not exactly electrifying the charts. Def Jam shouldn't have released "I'm Into You" as the 2nd single from the album, as it seems that all of the momentum from "On the Floor" was wasted on a single that would have been a success 3 years ago. I honestly thought that "Papi" would be a more of a success than a failure, but we must remember that JLo is currently more relevant than any time since 2003- and given her limited talent- it should be considered a success.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Summary: Wins and Fails- 10/15/2011


#7 B.O.B. f/ Lil Wayne- Strange Clouds

I'm slightly taken aback that B.O.B.'s new song could have that much of a stronger chart showing than Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson's new digital singles, but I guess we shouldn't underestimate the power of Weezy talking about weed. B.o.B. is one of those artists that is continually the least interesting part of his songs- his guest features (Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo) have continually outshined his bland, been-there-before verses, but apparently the public was hungry for a B.o.B. comeback. It's catchy enough and will gain some traction on rhythmic stations, but I do feel that #7 will be the song's peak. I see the song performing similarly to last year's "Right Above It" with Weezy and Drake, debuting strongly at #6, with significant gains in airplay over the next few months, though the tapering of the digital sales will keep the song hovering around the lower rungs of the top 20 for awhile.

#26 Alexandra Stan- Mr. Saxobeat

As I've already heard the song about 1,000 times on LA radio, it looks like it's gaining traction everywhere in America. Capitalizing on two new fads- european dj meets pop radio and the resurgence of the saxophone, (see "Edge of Glory", "T.G.I.F. (Last Friday Night)" and "In The Dark") the song that 2 years ago would have only been successful across the pond is now a legitimate force to be reckoned with. As there doesn't seem to be much of an identity behind Alexandra Stan, as the voice seems quite interchangeable, I expect her to be a one hit wonder.

#35 Jay-Z & Kanye West- Ni**as in Paris

I'm still waiting to see how a live DJ refers to the unadulterated title- it's already entertaining enough to see how they alter the last part of the song when the beat breaks. As true 100% hip-hop becomes more scarce at top 40, leave it to the kings of the genre to keep servicing quality hip-hop to the masses. It's their second top 40 from "Watch the Throne", as "Otis" barely missed the top 10 on the back of digital sales. Oh, much props to Jay-Z for finally exposing the term "cray" to the masses.

#62 T-Pain f/ Lily Allen & Wiz Khalifa- 5 O'Clock

T-Pain has had an awfully rough time trying to gain traction for his new album. This seems like the 100th single released- lets see... Take Your Shirt Off, Reverse Cowgirl, Rap Song, Best Love Song, and Booty Wurk. It looks like the troubles aren't over, as just a few days ago- Jive Records dissolved into its parent record label, RCA. So who knows if we'll ever get his forthcoming studio album (almost 2 years delayed) "rEVOLVEr", but really- are there that many hardcore T-Pain fans out there? The actual song "5 O'Clock" borrows from a Lily Allen single from the UK- and the end result really isn't bad at all- but as I thought "Booty Wurk" was a surefire smash- I'm not really sure what audience reaction to expect from T-Pain's singles anymore.

#81 Lloyd f/ Andre 3000- Dedication to my Ex (Miss That)

One of my favorite singles of the year, a quasi-sequel to Cee-lo's "Fuck You!", has finally made its debut on the Hot 100. It's been getting airplay in LA for a few months now, but it seems that it's struggling to gain traction at R&B radio as it seems to have stalled just outside of the top 40 on that chart for now. The radio edit takes away a bit of the song's novelty and edge, but it's still a great, classic sounding tune with an all too rare and underappreciated Andre 3000 guest spot.


#12 Lady Gaga- You & I

OK, so it's not really a "fail" per se- but we now know for a fact that "You & I" has reached its final peak at #6 on the charts. I had a few fabricated high hopes for this song- after all, the sound has massive appeal for middle America, and the general public seems to be starved for something other than the four-on-the-floor music Gaga ironically helped usher in. Don't get me wrong- the song had a successful chart run- but the song's chart performance lets us know that the song isn't exactly going to be a career defining song for her.

#48 Nickelback- When We Stand Together

Any new Nickelback chart debut is a fail for America. Especially with such a calculated, glossed over song, and such a lousy, pandering song title like this. I mean, these Canadians have been exploiting the wallets of the red states for a good while- why don't we go ahead and get a Rick Perry feature on here? Peaking with 2005's "All the Right Reasons", Nickelback has diminished with the coinciding depletion of top 40 rock music from the airwaves. At least they're one of the many casualties I'm thankful for.

#72 Iyaz f/ Travie McCoy- Pretty Girls

I wrote a few weeks back about this single being the one to anchor the all-important sophomore album, but it looks like this one's a no-go. After tumbling from 51-72 this week on the Hot 100, it looks as if initial audience reaction is tepid. Iyaz doesn't have a very distinguishable voice, and will need another gimmick or stronger guest feature to land a hit worthy of the sophomore album.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Summary: Wins and Fails- 10/08/2011

It's been a relatively slow week this week, with most of the top 10 remaining stagnant. Let's get right into it:


#2 Adele- Someone Like You

Yes, the song has already peaked and has spent the past few weeks at this very position. However, the piano-driven ballad soars 9-2 on the usually stagnant Radio Songs chart, while holding firmly at #1 currently on iTunes. Adele continues to break every single rule in the Pop Music 2011 instruction guide as it seems the song will continue into a lengthy chart run at #1 after this week. As the major labels and big players contin ue to unravel their big guns for the holiday shopping season, I don't expect the song to pass "Rolling in the Deep"'s 7-week stint. But again, you never know. As I found on another website, "Someone Like You" is the first ever piano and vocal only song to ever hit #1 in Rock & Roll history. 2011 is the year of Adele.

#10 LFMAO- Sexy and I Know It

It took this song 4 weeks to get into the top 10. A second single from an established duo's sophomore "album" goes top 10 in less than a month- even more notable in the fact that the song has been available for download since the album came out this summer. Even more notable and puzzling is the fact that the song has no redeeming quality, no memorable hook- not even a memorable BASSLINE! Seriously, I guess stupidly self-empowering chorus and the Lonely-Island esque "I Work Out!" line is enough to push the greek kids and coke abusers over the edge. I get that they are coming off the biggest song of the year with "Party Rock Anthem", but when we look back in 20 years-(like Starship, Milli Vanilli, and Jessica Simpson before them)- we will all question why the hell we were listening to this in the first place. OK, I'll stop hating. Congrats LMFAO. But your 15 minutes are ticking.

#42 New Boyz f/Chris Brown- Better With the Lights Off

The California teen hip-hop duo New Boyz scored their first hit by capitalizing on a popular west coast dance movement, "jerking", (I kid you not) with 2009's "You're a Jerk", similar to Cali Swag District's 2010 hit "Teach me How to Dougie". They were able to somehow continue their success with a B-R&B song with B-list R&B star Ray J, "Tie Me Down", at the very least erasing any one-hit wonder labels. Like their first single, their second album's singles have been a blatant attempt to exploit current pop trends. While, the first single, "Break my Bank" w/ Iyaz didn't catch on, the Cataracs-(Like a G6) produced-"Backseat", complete with a cameo from Dev, scraped the top 40 earlier this year. Now it looks as if the third single, with help from Chris Brown, will break the top 40. I don't see the song keeping the momentum into the top 20, as it's very Pop&B by numbers, but these guys have a pretty big urban teen folowing- so I'm not counting anything out.


#16 Rihanna f/Calvin Harris- We Found Love

It looks like it's a bit too much too soon, as people seem to be suffering from Rihanna fatigue. Let's take a look at where her past lead singles have vaulted to the week they became available:

A Girl Like Me- S.O.S.- #1
Good Girl Gone Bad- Umbrella- #1
Rated R- Russian Roulette- #9
Loud- Only Girl (In the World)- #3

Given, with the exception of last year's "Only Girl", the previous three had a few weeks to gain exposure at radio- I'll give you that. But also given the fact that a new Rihanna lead single is usually all but guarenteed a top 10 debut, this matches Kelly Clarkson's "Mr. Know it All" debut 3 weeks ago, which has since almost fallen out of the top 40. I don't expect that to happen with this song, as it's so blatantly club driven that the Europop producer of the song is listed on the feature. It's not a bad song- a typical fist-pumping club beat with a simple, repetitive chorus. Rihanna will still sell tons of records and continue to be one of the biggest forces in pop music- I just think that the song would have been a bit more successful if Def Jam hadn't rushed into this project. It's proven that people will buy and support the Rihanna brand no matter what time of year.

#33 Colplay- Paradise

I really don't mean to hate on Coldplay so much. Their first 2 albums were fantastic before they went the stadium rock route- but who can blame them? Either way, it's looking less and less evident that Coldplay will get any support from Top 40 radio for their forthcoming album, and is proving that "Viva La Vida" was the exception and not the rule. The release date for "Mylo Xyloto" nears in about 3 weeks, Capitol must be worried. As the first single, "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" was serviced to top 40 and didn't gain traction, I don't see any difference with "Paradise", as both songs share a similar aesthetic. It's a pleasant, introspective, typical Coldplay- and it could do quite well if the timing is right. But if I had to make a bet as to if this would ever get KIIS 102.7 exposure, I wouldn't take it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Song of the Day: 9/25/11- Lana Del Rey- Video Games

I've noticed the blog has become very R&B/Hip-Hop centric, so I felt the need to change things up a bit with a currently huge song in the indie community.

Lana Del Rey has taken a few fashion hints from Nancy Sinatra and has quickly become one of the most blogged about and buzzed about new artists of the past few months. Think Dusty Springfield or Cat Power meets today's influx of British throwback artists. While her authenticity has been questioned and has been accused of being a manufactured studio creation, the hipsterazzi (heard this clever new term on XM radio- I think I'll use it now) always finds flaws in buzzed about artists. Who cares? She (or whomever else) is making fantastic music. She's apparently been a struggling artist for 5 or 6 years now, so I'm sure she's more than paid her dues.

The overall vibe and music video for "Video Games" has a very 60's, Melrose Avenue feel with a modern twist, and like the video- the lyrics mix classic themes of being in love and being on cloud nine even while being ignored with modern lyrical references to items like, well, obviously video games. Not too much more I can say about the ballad- look for it on many year-end top 10 lists.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Chart Analysis- Wins and Fails- 10/01/2011


#1 Maroon 5 f/ Christina Aguilera- Moves Like Jagger

The song is now spending its third week at the pinnacle of the Hot 100, tying "Makes Me Wonder" as Maroon 5's biggest hit ever. What's significant about this week imparticularly is that it blasts from #5-#1 on the radio airplay chart, meanwhile continuing its lock at #1 on the digital charts. This is a huge indicator that this song will have a very lengthy run at the top of the charts. There aren't really too many songs with the momentum to take it down currently, though if Rihanna's new single "We Found Love" has enough downloads when it debuts on iTunes next week, its reign could be briefly interrupted. I'm not thinking that will happen as it hasn't exactly been a long time as the public has to show Rihanna fatigue at some point.

#15 David Guetta f/ Usher- Without You

Former R&B superstar turned bland dance-pop singer Usher looks like he'll collect another top 10 under his belt next week with the 2nd single from David Guetta's sophomore album. It's an immediately catchy song that plays perfectly to the current state of pop music, so surely we will be hearing a lot more of this song and many more imitators to follow. The first single with Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida, "Where Them Girls At" peaked only one position higher than where this song currently is. That's all I'm gonna say about this one for now.

#30 Jason DeRulo- It Girl

A few weeks ago, this was mistakenly in the "fails" column as the bland single initially failed to gain traction at iTunes- where it now comfortably sits at #3. Looks like DeRulo is about to collect his 4th top 10, providing momentum for his ever-important-in-a-new-artist's-career sophomore album. Personally, I'm not really getting the appeal for this song, especially after his previous single, the club/top 40 ready "Don't Wanna Go Home" performed slightly below expectations. Due to its sudden massive popularity on iTunes, look for this song to jump at least into the top 15 next week.

#79 J. Cole- Work Out

After what seems like countless singles over the past few years that have been serviced to radio, post-Drake rapper J. Cole finally seems to have a winner. As his collaboration song with Jay Z and another with Trey Songz, it doesn't seem that they are taking any chances with his major label launch. He's created insane amounts of buzz on the mixtape circuit, and I'm puzzled as to why last year's single with Drake, "In the Morning", never caught on. As a John Hopkins magna cum laude graduate and self-producer, it's interesting to see this new breed of smart artists with middle class backgrounds launched into the spotlight. Hip hop is a genre evolving more than any other genre right now, and I believe that Drake has had more influence over the entire industry than anyone gives him credit for.


#35 Kelly Clarkson- Mr. Know it All

I'm not dismissing the song immediately. It's catchy enough to become a staple at pop radio, and I wouldn't be surprised if the song went top 10. It should just alarm Clive Davis a bit, as the lead single from her last album, "My Life Would Suck Without You", immediately shot to #1 when released to iTunes. This is the weakest start for a Kelly Clarkson single in her entire career if you don't count "Miss Independent". Weak performances from lead singles hinder the chance of subsequent singles finding success, so my eyes will be on this song's chart performance like a hawk.

#68 Kreayshawn- Gucci Gucci

Maybe it's a bit too soon to dismiss this song, but it's fallen for two weeks in a row now and is looking like it might have reached its peak already at #57. It's kind of a disappointment as the song has almost 20 million hits on YouTube and is a total guilty pleasure. Maybe the song is a bit too risque even in this day and age? Once Kreayshawn catches on (think R-rated, drugged out, vintage clothing Ke$ha as a rapper) I predict big things for her, but we'll see where this one goes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Just like Michael Jackson in the 80's and Mariah Carey in the 90's, Usher is officially the most successful pop artist of the 00's. He has the second most successful single of the decade under his belt with "Yeah!", (behind Mariah's "We Belong Together") has become a pop culture icon, and was resposible for shaping R&B this past decade more than anyone else. In other words, he's pretty much as big as you can possibly get.

There's also no denying that Usher is the prime example of the way radio has changed since 2005. During the 00's, pure R&B/hip hop influenced music dominated the airwaves more than anything else. Though rock bands like 3 Doors Down and Linkin Park found success on the airwaves, the Lilth Fair type musician that dominated the late 90's was almost completely absent.

In the fall of 2009, Usher released the divorce ballad "Papers" almost a half year before the heavily anticipated "Raymond Vs. Raymond", and shot to #1 on the R&B charts with ease. However, the song was noticeably completely absent from pop radio. Like multi-week reigning R&B smashes such as Maxwell's "Pretty Wings" or Monica's "Everything to Me", its entire chart performance on the Hot 100 came solely from heavy play on R&B stations. There's never been a time period in pop music where the Hot 100 and R&B charts have been so synonymous than in the 00's, but the signs started to show that R&B was all of a sudden an endangered species on pop radio.

The second single released, "Lil Freak" featuring a pre-superstar Nicki Minaj wasn't as successful on the pop or R&B charts, which still puzzles me today as it was undoubtedly one of the best singles released in 2010. By this time, L.A. Reid must have been shaking in his boots. "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)" was slightly more successful around the time the album was released- then one of the most pivotal points in Usher's career happened.

"OMG" was released and rocketed to the top of the charts. As a club-ready anthem, the song was a complete departure for him and unlike anything he'd done before. It became one of the biggest hits of 2010 and is still played regularly on top 40, while his next single, "There Goes My Baby" became one of the biggest R&B songs of 2010, being mostly ignored by top 40. It was now fully realized that the entire pop music paradigm had shifted. It's not because the songs were subpar- hell, they were some of the best singles released in 2010- but because pop music had officially replaced R&B with club-ready house inspired music.

This obviously sparked an idea- if he can measure his unprecedented 00's success and all he has to do is change his genre of music, than why not? That fall, the EP/companion album "Versus" was released as quickly as possible with an almost as successful lead single, "DJ Got us Fallin' in Love". Usher went as far as to go on the record saying that his focus now would not be R&B, but this newer shift that fit the current pop music landscape, much to the dismay of his loyal fans that had been there for years.

If anything, the guy still has it all- the looks, voice, dance moves, and proven track record. It's just a shame that he (well, more or less L.A. Reid) would put the precedence of completely changing his sound in a desperate attempt to stay relevant over pleasing his fans. R&B still supports him more than pretty much any other artist, and the format will be losing one of its crucial voices from the airwaves. Perhaps once pop music comes down from its cocaine binge we'll get the real Usher back. However, let's remember that the downfall of Michael Jackson came when he stopped innovating and started following.

Song of the Day: 9/20/2011- Bilal- Little One

Bilal is an extremely talented R&B artist that basically got stuck in major label hell. As a classically trained opera singer, there are very few voices I've heard in R&B with quite the caliber as his. While earning all the critical respect in the world from his major label debut, 2001's "1st Born Second", even the roster of big-name producers- with little promotion he was buried beneath the neo-soul explosion of Maxwell, India Arie, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu. Since then, he's gained quite the cult following, continuing to tour and work with other artists. His second album, "Love for Sale", was shelved by Interscope to the dismay of many fans, despite the entire album leaking on the internet.

In 2009, he finally signed with an indie label, and the following year released his second official album, the universally lauded "Airtight's Revenge". Unbound by major label pressure, the album showcases massive creativity and classic sounding soul music. Bilal has a falsetto that will send chills down your spine. It's a shame that one of the absolute best voices of the past decade is continually ignored by the mainstream.

One of the singles from the album, torchlight ballad "Little One", is a perfect example of his sound- flawless vocals, Stevie Wonder influence, strong melody, and meaningful lyrics. The video is quite powerful, as a couple learns that their child is autistic. The mainstream has not been a welcoming place for Bilal over the past decade, but at least those of us that are aware of his presence are continually rewarded with stellar classic soul music.

Monday, September 19, 2011

OPINION: Nicole Scherzinger

Side note: So apparently my blog is Sam Raimi approved. Just throwing that out there because, well, it's pretty fucking awesome and flattering.

As The X Factor US is about to make its debut on Wednesday, so will Nicole Scherzinger's breakthrough as a solo artist in the US. Reality singing competitions seem to be an absolute goldmine for pop artists that have lost their luster in recent years. Christina Aguilera has the goodwill of the public back after the disastrous flop "Bionic", Jennifer Lopez completely revived her music career when she debuted "On the Floor" on American Idol, and though Maroon 5's most recent album, "Hands All Over", was initially considered a disappointment, it vaults back into the top 10 on the Billboard 200 this week on the back of their current #1 single that debuted on... you guessed it- The Voice.

Though Nicole's solo success is finally just getting started, she's an industry veteran. If she weren't obligated to the reality band Eden's Crush back in 2003, she would have had Fergie's spot in the Black Eyed Peas. (Seems like a gigantic missed opportunity as Fergie already has 3 solo #1's)
The Pussycat Dolls, her second manufactured girl group, broke in 2006 with their version of "Don't Cha" (it was originally a very minor R&B hit by a now obsolete artist) and had a massive string of hits from their debut self-titled album. The quick follow-up, "Doll Domination", dropped like a rock on the charts but produced 2 moderate hits.

The first attempt at solo success was to be her solo album titled "Her Name is Nicole". The first single, "Whatever U Like" had everything going for it to ensure a surefire hit- production from A-list producer Polow Da Don, and a T.I. feature at his zenith. However, the song lacked a memorable chorus and went nowhere. The produced and featured second single, "Baby Love", was a substantial success in Europe, but again- went nowhere in the US. The album was eventually shelved as it turned from one of Interscope's most promising debuts to one of its biggest financial disappointments of 2007. An album track originally intended for the album, "I Hate This Part", was put on 2008's "Doll Domination" and became The Pussycat Dolls' last major US hit. (other than the "Jai Ho" remix that was ridden on the Slumdog Millionaire wave) Most recently, she's released another catchy pop-R&B Rihanna-esque hybrid with "Right There", puzzlingly featuring washed-up rapper 50 Cent. While it's performed much better than any of her other solo singles, it's not gaining anywhere near the traction I'm certain was anticipated.

So, what happened? A major marketing push from Interscope, exposure and proven success with The Pussycat Dolls, A-list rap features, great voice, and stunningly good looks? Perhaps it's because she simply fit the mold all too well. As the internet becomes more influential in breaking and signing artists to majors, the public has much more weight than it ever has before in determining stars. Individuality and identifiability are absolutely crucial among her peers, and when you can't see the personality behind the singer, they become less relevant.

Interscope believed that if you simply put an artist on the assembly line to manufacture the perfect pop star, you can launch a successful career- and that business model just doesn't work anymore. With Twitter and Facebook, we are more connected to the artists we listen to than ever, and we now feel a stronger urge to identify with them than ever before. Even before the social networking craze- look at Jessica Simpson. Her career was on the way out when the first single from her 3rd album, "The Sweetest Sin", tanked on the charts. Then the reality show with Nick Lachey happened. She had absolutely no way to distinguish herself on her first two albums, and simply rode the teen pop train as a G-rated Christina Aguilera. After the show became a hit, portraying her as a human going through every day life and a lovable ditz, the song "With You" jumpstarted her resurgance and became an A-list figure in music.

The exact same will happen with Nicole on The X Factor. Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller were incredibly smart in picking her over, say, Mariah Carey- whom probably won't find too much more success on the pop charts. As referenced before, Nicole is the complete and total package- the US simply needs to see her personality and identify with her as a human being. Nicole is an incredibly hard worker that in any other time period would be one of the biggest of her generation. I'm especially invested in her success as she has Louisville ties and shares a mutual friend with me. Just as so many other artists have increasingly used multimedia formats to market themselves, this tactic is certain to work for Nicole. Look for a conveniently placed new single from her towards the end of The X Factor run.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Chart Analysis- Wins and Fails- 9/24/2011

I apologize for the delay- I flew home yesterday so lots of packing and travel!\


#10 Rihanna- Cheers (Drink to That)

One of the more obvious wins of the week comes from Rihanna, whom has now collected her 4th top 10 off of "Loud", and her 19th top 10 single overall. The song inched up to #10 after a few weeks at #11, so I really don't think the song has the momentum for #1 as iTunes sales seem to have plateaued. With a new album already on the horizon for this fall, she'll most likely create lots more chart ink before years end. Hell, she's one of the very few sure things in top 40 today, why not milk it for all its worth?

#46 Iyaz f/ Travie McCoy- Pretty Girls

Looks like former potential one-hit-wonder Iyaz (of "Replay" fame a few years ago) is gaining traction and has a good shot at cracking top 40 when the charts refresh next week. For a guy with such an undistinct voice that caught lightning in a bottle in 2009, this guy better be glad it's happening again. The followup to "Replay", "Solo", didn't fare well in the US and subsequent attempt "So Big" last summer went absolutely nowhere. This guy has all the right people behind him, but without some kind of distinction he's gonna have to fight for his top 40 hits A-list guest features. (I don't consider McCoy A-list by any means, but he's getting there)

#50 LMFAO- Sexy and I Know It

Well, here we go again. LMFAO now not only has the #1 single of the year in "Party Rock Anthem", but has captured the cultural zeitgest of 2011 radio. Smash after smash this year has been a hodgepodge of hip hop, house, pop, getting drunk, one night stands, and partying. This new single is strikingly similar- the aforementioned subjects over a thumping club beat, but lacks a memorable chorus. They'll ride the momentum of "Party Rock Anthem" into the top 10 with this one, but definitely wouldn't be a smash without the former.

#81. Wiz Khalifa- No Sleep

An obvious choice for 4th single (3rd promoted to top 40) off of "Rolling Papers", this song is going to be huge. When released, it immediately shot to #1 on the iTunes charts back in early March, and subsequently dropped in the following weeks while Atlantic promoted other singles. Instantly catchy and covering popular subject matter, (drinking and getting high, what else would he rap about?) this will be one to watch. I'm very curious to see if the song has the momentum to best its original peak of #6 on the Hot 100.


(ME for dismissing Big Sean's "Marvin and Chardonnay" last week after it dipped, as it jumps back from #49-#42 this week)


#97 Pistol Annies- Hell on Heels

I'm kind of puzzled by this one. I don't mention country acts a lot on this blog, A) because it doesn't really appeal to me and B) the songs contain the most boring, predictable chart runs of any genre outside of Adult Contemporary. Once you're "in" at country radio, you can pretty much guarentee you're gonna have a few more hits. Perennials like George Strait can release practically anything and go top 10, and Carrie Underwood is always an automatic shoe-in for #1 on the country charts. So why is mainstream country music's brightest and best star, (sorry, there's no room for debate, I won't be having it) Miranda Lambert, having trouble with her supergroup side project's lead single? The album debuted high on the charts, had lots of hype surrounding it, yet the single only managed to peak at #55 on the Hot 100 when hit country songs typically peak in the #25-#40 range. Is it because Miranda Lambert subsequently released her own single around the same time, "Baggage Claim"? Did country radio just not warm up to it? It's nowhere to be found on the country charts- are there some stations too conservative to play a song with "hell" in the title? (hey- you never know with the bible belt)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Song of the Day: 9/11/11- Jay Z- Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 also coincidentally marks the release of one of the most influential albums of any genre this past decade- Jay Z's The Blueprint. Unbenknownst to listeners when the lead single debuted, Izzo (H.O.V.A.) that it would be launching arguably the most game-changing artist of the past decade- Kanye West. Though he was featured on Jay Z's album released the previous year, his first massive exposure and shaping of an album coincided with The Blueprint. Kanye's vision of using old-school soul samples like J Dilla and No ID before him and looping them into accessible, modern beats is a typical practice used today, but an underground concept at the time.

I never really appreciated "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" when it was released. In 2001, the only hip-hop I really listened to were the backpacker, socially conscious sounds of The Roots and Black Star. Jay-Z was merely another typical mainstream rapper that released a #1 album every fall, and "Izzo" was no different. Sure, it was catchy, and the Blueprint was on every critic's year-end list, but did anyone realize at the time the influence Kanye's production would have on the entire world? The song still holds up incredibly well today thanks to its sample of one of pop's undisputed classics- Jackson 5's I Want You Back.

So, here we are... 10 years later in a country much darker, paranoid, fear-mongering, pessimistic, and generally worse off. At least this lead single from the album that spent 3 weeks at #1 on the album charts post 9/11 (only to be knocked off by a 9/11 tribute album) provides a bit of escapism.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Summary- Wins and Fails- September 17, 2011


#1. Adele- Someone Like You

Adele fever continues across the nation as the 2nd proper single from "21" rockets from #19-#1 in its 9th week on the charts. As I read on today, the song sets the record for the loftiest jump to #1 without the brand new release of the physical or digital single. Given- she had a handicap with her VMA performance, but this type of chart behavior is still very rare and should be noted. I'm not going to go too far into this as I'm still working on an opinion article on Adele, but seriously. A year ago, who would have thought Adele, a perceived Amy Winehouse clone would have, by far, the world's best selling album of 2011 with 2 #1's on the Hot 100? Stranger things have happened, but still. I'm curious to see how the obvious third single, "Set Fire to the Rain" will fare on the charts unsolicited without the VMA bump.

#8. Cobra Starship f/Sabi- You Make Me Feel

UGH I had pegged these guys as one hit wonders! I've heard the song a few times on the radio and it does absolutely nothing for me. But as it rockets from #18-8 this week, it's cemented itself as an iTunes top 10 mainstay for the time being, and as radio airplay drastically increases, we will be hearing a lot more of this tune in the next few months. Why does everything over 120 BPM get an automatic handicap? I swear the world is strung out on uppers.

#64. Nicki Minaj f/ Rihanna- Fly

I love Nicki Minaj, but mostly for reasons unknown to the mainstream public. Before she was churning out sugary pop shit like this, she released 3 astounding mixtapes. Like lots of artists in history, there is a complete dichotomy between what is commercially viable for her and what she is truly good at and acclaimed for. "Fly" is one of the many songs on "Pink Friday" that I begrudgingly skip with a groan. It's so contrived and calculated for top 40 with its surface-level inspirational lyrics and pre-packaged Rihanna chorus. The video for the single was released just a short while ago, and radio is obviously latching onto this song with its strong debut on the charts at #64. Look for this one to hit at least the top 20, giving Nicki another huge hit, and unfortunately encouraging her to stray away even further from the glorious mixtape days. So instead "Fly", I'm posting my favorite song from her mixtape "Beam Me Up Scotty": Itty Bitty Piggy.


#49. Big Sean f/ Kanye West & Roscoe Dash- Marvin & Chardonnay

I don't really get the whole Big Sean craze- his voice isn't distinctive enough for me to immediately recognize- and that seems to be template for successful hip hop artists these days. As a followup to the painfully mediocre "My All" f/ Chris Brown, (In the running with Lupe's "The Show Goes On" for blandest hit of the year) it's gained quite a bit of buzz with hip-hop radio, but pop radio seems to be ignoring it. It falls from 46-49 this week on the Hot 100, but bullets to #7 this week on the R&B charts. I really don't see Big Sean ever becoming an A-List pop star, but at least his guest features will keep him afloat for awhile. I'm very interested to see what happens with his sophomore release.

#56. Coldplay- Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

I have a long, complicated history with Coldplay. I was obsessed with their first 2 albums, until "X&Y" came out and felt like the ultimate cash grab. This was confirmed when I saw them that summer in Indianapolis. $35 dollar T-Shirts, sponsor logos everywhere- I mean they had suddenly transformed from charming, self-realized rock artists to the next mega-stadium U2. Coldplay's zenith is undeniably their sophomore breakthrough, "A Rush of Blood to the Head", and the stars aligned for a massive fluke #1 a few years later- "Viva la Vida". Since their 2nd album, I've dismissed them the same way I've dismissed Kings of Leon- artistic, adventurous music- then money gets in the way. Their lead single from their 5th album never really gained traction at radio, and simply doesn't match the caliber of any of their other debut singles from their prior 4 albums. Can we please now categorize Coldplay as the furthest thing from the next U2? At least they had/have the music to back it up.

#77. Miguel- Quickie

Wasn't a fan of his first single, "All I Want is You," despite that fact that it gave J. Cole (Think Drake's sequel) his first top 40 hit. The follow-up, "Sure Thing", was deservedly a massive #1 smash on the R&B charts, but as a perfect example of the dance-floor fueled state of radio, barely scratched the top 40 on the pop charts. His third single, and first real ballad- "Quickie", rode the momentum of the first two singles, but the song seems to have lost steam. It's a pretty typical Chris Brown/Trey Songz sex ballad which pop radio avoids more than Vanilla Ice post 1991. It definitely sounds like an album cut, and might be an unexpected single to be released due to Miguel's unprecedented success on the R&B charts. It's also notable that not a lot of Hispanic artists (ok ok, I know- he's half black half Hispanic) are marketable on the R&B charts, nonetheless having 2 smash hits off of a debut album. If this guy comes around with a strong sophomore release, he could be around for awhile.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Billboard Hot 100 Summary: Wins and Fails- 09/10/2011

#1. Maroon 5 f/ Christina Aguilera- Moves Like Jagger

In a nice little surprise for this week, Maroon 5 have captured just the right amount of airplay and digital sails to rocket their hit to #1. As the song is currently out of the top 10 on iTunes and bullets to a #11 position on the airplay chart- it seems like the sheer coincidence of sales and airplay coinciding more than any other single this week propelled it to #1. Just to note- there are many other songs with a stronger combination of the two that haven't reached #1- the spot was simply vacant this week as two of summer's dominant aging titles ("Last Friday Night" and "Party Rock Anthem") have finally started to show some wear and tear. Nevertheless, I'm happy for Maroon 5 to accomplish their second #1 hit. Like I've said previously, Adam Levine's decision to judge on "The Voice" was the best career decision the band has made since signing for Clive Davis.

#10. Gym Class Heroes f/ Adam Levine- Stereo Hearts

At this time last year, Maroon 5's "Misery" was struggling to gain mere top 20 status on the charts as the lead single for their heavily anticipated, underperforming album "Hands All Over". Now, not only does Maroon 5 occupy the coveted #1 position on the chart, but on the back of digital sales, his featured chorus for a band I had already dismissed, Gym Class Heroes, has become a solid hit. To give a history- Gym Class Heroes had a hit a few years ago with the miserable hit "Cupid's Chokehold" with Fallout Boy's Patrick Stump. They released another album that completely tanked. Then, Travie McCoy, the lead singer/rapper/whatever- released a solo album with Bruno Mars on the chorus and of course became a huge hit with wanting to become a "millionaire so freaking bad". Following that unfortunate success, they have scored another hit on the back of another of-the-moment pop star singing the hook. Why can't these bands just die?!

#19. Adele- Someone Like You

I've already addressed my opinion on this song in my previous blog, but the fact that a piano driven ballad has not only hit top 20 but is #1 at iTunes is a really big deal. Please let this become a trend. Thank God for whomever broke Adele's little heart into pieces, because it's currently serving us the freshest top 40 music we can get.

#79. Wiz Khalifa- No Sleep

Riding off of the "Black and Yellow" fame, this song debuted strongly at #6 on the charts due to digital sales before rapidly descending the charts due to lack of label promotion for the single. Now that they are promoting this as the 4th official single from the album, it should start to take off from here. Like all of Wiz Khalifa's songs, it's about drinking, getting high, and partying- which fits in perfectly with radio's current sentiment. I don't think the song has reached it's peak- the song is immediately addictive, should perform very well, and will probably achieve a new peak position with its promotion to radio.


#73. Jason DeRulo- It Girl

I havent' even heard this song yet to be quite honest with you, but Jason DeRulo to me is so irrelevant that I frankly don't care. I dismissed him as a one hit wonder when his blatant Imogen Heap sampled "Whatcha Say" hit #1, but he rode the wave to two additional US top 10's. The first single before his sophomore album, "Don't Wanna Go Home", was a moderate hit peaking just outside of the top 10. His latest desparate attempt at a huge hit barely scraped the top 40 and is now on its way down into oblivion. It's a snoozy mid-tempo acoustic guitar driven shot at a hit- and belive me- he really tries. Jason DeRulo is pretty much as bland of a pop star as they come, and I'm glad his demise and the void he creates will make room for more interesting freshman acts.

#99. Tinie Tempah f/ Wiz Khalifa- Till I'm Gone

Tinie Tempah is a UK rap artist (the first I might add to break the US mainstream) that recently scored a decent sized hit with "Written in the Stars". Though it's one of those songs where the chorus outshines the verses so much that the artist rapping could be interchangeable, Tinie Tempah has scored hit after hit overseas. It looks as if he's losing traction, as his sophomore US single release "Till I'm Gone" barely scraped the bottom of the Hot 100, peaking at #90. Again- looks like you need to have a distinct voice and personality (or legacy) to make it on today's charts, (Pitbull not included) and it's certain now that "Written in the Stars" was a fluke hit due to the catchy chorus.

Songs that Changed Everything: Mariah Carey- Fantasy (1995)

In a new segment, I thought it'd be cool to address familiar pop songs that have had an extremely significant impact on pop music and culture in general. My first idea was for the most influential pop song of the 2000's- Daft Punk's "One More Time", but I decided to focus on one of the most influential songs of the 90's, (I haven't forgotten about the obvious "Smells Like Teen Spirit" choice) and one you wouldn't even really think was highly influential- Mariah Carey's "Fantasy".

Can you imagine a time when pop, R&B, and hip-hop were three distinct genres that were never crossed? Today's current radio is a hodgepodge of pop, house, r&b, and hip hop, with DJ sets literally being broadcasted on LA's most popular radio station. So when "Fantasy" exploded in the winter of 1995, it was a foreign idea for a white artist known for power ballads and midtempo pop tunes to take on a beat endlessly sampled by hip-hop artists, (Tom Tom Club's classic "Genius of Love") create a remix with Ol Dirty Bastard, and thus becoming not only one of her most recognized, but one of the most transformative pop songs of the decade. Shortly after the success of "Fantasy" ushered in the true hip-hop takeover of the music landscape with Puff Daddy, (as he was known then) Mase, the posthumous Notorious B.I.G., and more. By the time of Carey's next lead single from an album, "Honey", in the fall of 1997, Puff Daddy had claimed the year's #1 with "I'll be Missing You".

In today's world, the pop artist with the rap feature is the one of the tried and true formulas of hitmaking. You could say that Carey accidentally bridged the gap seeing hip-hop's . Today's most successful pop artist, Katy Perry, gained her 4th and historic 5th #1 singles off the backs of rap remixes featuring Kanye West and Missy Elliott. Given, they were hits in the beginning- but we now live in an era where a rap feature proves beneficial to the artist at stake. Back in the late 1990's, I remember rap features being edited out on radio. I vividly remember Lil Kim's part in "Lady Marmalade" in 2001 getting edited out because of a phobia to hip hop- now it's glorified to the extent that artists like Katy Perry get Kanye West for "E.T." and Missy Elliot for "Last Friday Night" for remixes to help propel her songs to #1.

Very few pop artists today have contained as much a dominant, commanding presence on the airwaves as Carey in the mid-90's. She followed this song with (on paper) the biggest Hot 100 song ever- "One Sweet Day". To this day, every success she's had since "Fantasy" can be directly traced back to the song- and when she's strayed away- like releasing the pop ballad "Through the Rain" off of 2003's "Charmbracelet", she's flopped. Her success since "Fantasy" has been directly correlated with how R&B/Hip Hop flavored her songs have been. To sum it all up, "Fantasy" played a huge part in top 40 music throwing a few genres in a blender, creating a fresh new sound and giving the pop music landscape a facelift.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

iTunes watch: 8/31/2011

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Work's been cray.

ANYWAY, so the VMA's perenially have a big effect on vaulting new singles from major artists into instant hits, and this year is no different. It looks like we have three obvious beneficiaries to this.

>1. Adele- Someone like You- This song was HUGE in the UK back in the springtime, but never thought I'd see the day when this song was at #1 on iTunes. In a time period where catalog titles are edited to take out slow parts, and songs like "No Hands" by Waka Flocka Flame and "Birthday Sex" get sped up, a piano ballad seems like a foreign concept. (the last ballad to hit #1? "Take a Bow" by Rhianna) Maybe this signals that top 40 radio is finally ready to come down from their cocaine-induced dance party?

>4. Lady Gaga- You and I- It's ironic that the same artist that ushered in the club years on top 40 radio is boldly breaking the mold again at radio with a midtempo Springsteen ballad. I honestly thought she'd benefit the most from the VMA's due to her large presence, but I'm happy that Adele might get another number 1. Another top 10 under Gaga's belt is well deserved.

>8. Beyonce- Love on Top- FINALLY A GOOD SINGLE FROM "4" IS BEING RELEASED! Seriously I can't gush enough about this song. It's 100% Michael Jackson/Whitney Houston head to toe. I thought "Party" or "Countdown" would be the next single as she shot music videos for both- but now I know why with the PREGNANCY!!! I always wonder what catalog titles will be played on the oldies station 30 years from now, and most stuff out right now is very current and probably won't hold up- look at the New Jack Swing genre from the early 90's- but these 3 will be played regularly 20 years from now.

OK, I've calmed down. Some other notables:

>5. Lil Wayne ft. Bruno Mars- Mirrors- Well, maybe "She Will" is more of a "She Won't" at this point. Of course any hook that Bruno Mars shits on right now becomes a hit, we'll see if this one sticks around.

>11. Lil Wayne- Blunt Blowin- Obviously this one won't. On any major release, the most explicit or funny song title will always get the most downloads out of sheer curiosity.

>32. Drake- Headlines- As this was #2 just 2 weeks ago, it's in the period where all the fans have bought it but hasn't had enough exposure at radio. It's a good enough song that it'll crawl back into the top 10.

>41. Nicki Minaj f/Rhianna- Fly- Ok, I love Nicki Minaj. I was bumping her "Beam Me Up Scotty" mixtape a year before anyone in the mainstream knew who she was. But seriously, her album "Pink Friday" is awful and panders to the masses. (I don't blame her though!) "Fly" makes me cringe. And it'll be a huge single due to the artist billings. Another mediocre Nicki Minaj song to hit top 40. Nicki, can you please release another mixtape? Pretty please?

>45. Red Hot Chili Peppers- The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggy- I immediately dismissed this one in one of my previous blog posts, but it seems to be gaining traction. There seems to be enough general goodwill toward the RHCP that it should be a durable enough single for the album release.

>51. Pitbull f/ Marc Anthony- Rain Over Me- The song has officially already reached its peak. SWWEEEEEEEEEEEET

>62. Tyler, the Creator- Yonkers- WHAAAAAT?! This might actually have a chance at some chart ink. I know this song is way to inaccessible for radio, but we can dream, right?

>81. Jessie J f/B.O.B.- Price Tag- I'm sorry honey- the trend is that current pop stars have distinct personalities to compliment their music, and you just don't have it. No matter how much cash the majors throw at the public on your behalf, you're not gonna make it. Sorry.

>114. Kanye West & Jay Z- Ni**as in Paris- Is there a more obvious choice for a second single? It's not even released and has been hovering around the iTunes charts since "Watch the Throne" was released. I don't find the song any better than the other tracks on the album, but hey- at least it popularizes the term "cray". My friends and I have been using the term "cray cray" for years.

>180. J.Cole- Work Out- Seriously. This guy graduated magna cum laude at St Johns, writes and produces all of his own music, and can't get a damn break. He has everything Drake has, (maybe the less distinctive voice is the problem) but has release single after single after single to no avail. "In the Morning" should have been a hit on the R&B charts. Why is there only room for one intelligent, relatable, extremely self aware artist in the mainstream?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Commentary: How music subscription services have changed my listening habits

I own over 1500 CD's. Since proudly showing my collection of 10 CD's off in show and tell during the 3rd grade, til my arrival in LA last year where I would spend about 75 dollars on music monthly, the CD has been my ultimate favorite past time. The whole anticipation of eagerly unwrapping the cellophane, the disappointment or surprise of the album booklet, and the mere listening to something new for the first time brought me so much joy. Weekly trips with my dad to Circuit City (RIP) to purchase those 2 albums for $13.99 apiece was my absolute favorite way to spend my free time. When Napster pretty much fucked the music industry back in 2000, I dabbled with it but dismissed it. The actual tangible album- the artwork, the lyrics- the whole package was essentially a part of the music itself.

Then Rhapsody happened. All the music in the world (aside from unofficial releases) available to me on my computer and my iPhone for a mere 9.99- the cost of a CD? I had to go for it... and... it is to my great disbelief and sorrow that I have yet to purchase a physical compact disc this year. The moment I realized my listening habits had changed was when I went to Amoeba Music and held PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake" in my hands for a good two minutes, deciding to buy it or not. I ultimately put it back, considering I had complete access to it on Rhapsody. I realized I had now contributed to a completely unfortunate trend- the ultimate decline of the tangible album.

For the first time, as soon as a song popped into my head, I could look for it on my phone and have it within access in 5 seconds. It blew my mind that I had immediate access to TLC's "Creep" and Ne-Yo's "Because of You", two of my favorite top 40 songs ever, within a few heartbeats. A song can appear on the radio that reminds you of that other song you absolutely love- and you're playing it in the car full blast 10 seconds later.

That being said, I feel that my music attention span has truly become a bit shorter. I've unconsciously started to gravitate towards music that is instantly gratifying to me. While I have a completely open mind about all types of music, and have found albums I love pretty much in all genres other than world or death metal, rhythm is the ultimate ear worm for me. I love percussion, bass... just the whole rhythmic aspect to songs. Given that, it seems almost alarming to me that the only album's I've given a whole lot of attention to this year are electronic and hip hop acts.

Not to say I don't love down-tempo stuff. I'm obsessed with psych folk, indie rock, and the classic artists as well. It's just interesting that Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, two of my absolute favorite indie acts that released superb sophomore albums this summer to much avail, have taken a backseat to Odd Future, The Weeknd, Junior Boys, and Hercules & Love Affair. In any other music period, I would have never purchased an album by Lloyd. But because I was intrigued by his first 2 singles off the album, I downloaded the whole thing and it unexpectedly became the soundtrack for my summer. (I still highly recommend "King of Hearts"!!!)

Just like the general public, I feel that the immediate access and instant gratification from these subscription services have immediately served what we, in point... instantly gratify ourselves with. Even for me, the concept of hating the song the first time but letting it grow on you is still completely legitimate- it just seems that I'm less willing at this time to put forth the effort.

During my glorified wonderful awesome (insert any other positive adjective here) conversation with Nigel Godrich- I told him that I hadn't heard Radiohead's new album, "The King of Limbs", entirely yet. He didn't have good things to say about it- stating that it's killing the music industry. Apparently, it's an attempt for major labels to collect revenue on catalog releases while in turn sacrificing a bit of revenue for current releases. The whole business model makes sense- the music industry is desperate for cash, and will do anything for it.

It's just odd, because now you can listen to any album in one listen, not like it, and move on. You didn't fork over 15 bucks for the album, so there's no type of investment in it for you- who cares if you might like it 5 listens from now? Subscription sites like Rhapsody have saved me a WHOLE LOT of money over the past 6 months, but I feel that my drive for listening to challenging, provocative, and thought provoking music has seriously diminished. Not that it's not out there- aside from unofficial releases like mixtapes, you can bet your ass that a band will have their album on Rhapsody. It's just having that dedication- that determination- to solve the mystery of complicated albums that you'll feel rewarded more than any other type of instant gratification.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

iTunes watch: 8/25/2011

In my first segment of iTunes watch, I will be sporadically recording significant movement on the iTunes charts. As most downloads in America come from iTunes, and digital downloads are now probably the most significant factors in predicting a hit song. This allows for predictions on next week's charts.

This is as of 5:10 PM Pacific time zone on Thursday 8/25/2011

>#3 "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes reaches bonafide hit territory as Adam Levine has obviously been the one that has benefitted from "The Voice" the most. Look for this one in the top 10 really soon.

>#4 "Cheers (Drink to That)" by Rihanna was a smash the first time I heard it, and it didn't take too long to reach upper-tier download territory. Also look for a rapid ascent up the charts next week as this gains momentum for a potential 11th #1 for the singer.

>#8 "You and I" by Lady Gaga will enter the upper realms next week- wouldn't be surprised if it hits #1 on the iTunes chart following her VMA performance on Sunday.

>#13 "Someone Like You" by Adele is gaining lots of momentum- looks like we might finally have a top 10 ballad again, folks.

>#47 "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" by Coldplay officially won't reach the success of "Viva La Vida". Was gonna give it awhile to sink in for people, but as the album's release is approaching- looks like this one is a relative dud.

>#62 "Gucci Gucci" by Kreayshawn is a direct result of Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha breaking down barriers. Naughty white girl rapper- what other time period would this have ever worked? I can see this turning into a cheeky guilty pleasure.

>#137 "Work Out" by J. Cole seems like yet another song by the very talented producer and lyricist that hasn't gained much traction. He has deafening buzz in the hip hop community- I wonder when this guy's breakthrough will finally come.

Billboard Hot 100 Summary: Wins and Fails- 09/03/2011

#3- Lil Wayne feat. Drake- She Will

It's weird in this period of pop music that stars will release 4 singles prior to an album's release. The first two singles, 6 Foot 7 Foot and John were a bit too street for middle America, but performed decently anyway with peaks inside the top 10 and top 20. In contrast, third single, Detail-produced How to Love might be his softest, most blatant attempt at a radio hit. That's been a considerable success hovering in the middle of the top 10 for the past month or two. As we approach the release of The Carter IV Sunday night at midnight, the debut of "She Will" reminds me a lot of the chart performance of Gaga's "Edge of Glory". That song, as the 3rd buzz single from Born This Way, debuted at #3 just prior to the release of the album. Like Edge of Glory, She Will is probably going to slide down the charts for a few weeks until radio kicks in, prompting it back into the top 10. However, unless this song catches absolute fire, I think this most likely will be the song's peak position. While none of his singles have matched the success or catchiness of "Lollipop", this is setting up Weezy for another blockbuster.

#14 The Band Perry- If I Die Young

Just as Lady Antebellum paved the way 2 years ago with the 2-guys-1-girl formula with their breakout success "Need You Now", the country music industry saw a winning formula and signed another act with a very similar look and feel. "If I Die Young" has been hovering around the top 40 for some time now- it debuted on the Hot 100 back in late November, but is now crossing over to top 40/pop radio. Though LA would never play this, (they barely played "Need You Now") the song is catching fire everywhere else. I've seen this song show up on my facebook news feed multiple times over the past week as an indicator. Who knows if this will be as big as "Need You Now", but this whole 2-guys-1-girl thing is the new in thing with country crossovers. I will admit, there could be a lot worse songs crossing over to pop.

#35 Lady Gaga- You and I

This is probably the most obvious win of the week. With the release of her music video, Gaga's fourth single form "Born This Way" rockets from 96-35 in its 2nd real week of a chart run. As this was one of the top performing album tracks on iTunes when "Born This Way" was released, audience and fan reception seem to be extremely positive for this song. As it seems kind of like a homage to the style of Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Queen, 90's mainstream country/pop, it sounds completely different than anything else on house-hop obsessed top 40 radio, and I think people are ready for a change of pace as well. I'm really curious to see if country radio warms up to the song, as it definitely would fit in with the format. Her opening VMA performance will most likely contain some kind of rendition of this song- also a tactic that launched "Paparazzi" in 2009. If this plays out right, I can see this being a future #1 multi-format smash.


#32 Pitbull ft. Marc Anthony- Rain Over Me

I am proud to announce that I am 80% sure that Pitbull's third single from "Planet Pit" (ugh, given LA radio the title is probably accurate) won't achieve the status of "Give Me Everything" or even "Hey Baby (Drop it to the Floor)". Though it was climbing at a swift pace to #30, this week it drops to #32 without a bullet. That should hopefully indicate the peak position. What happened here? Is Marc Anthony simply too washed up for American artists and not as appealing of a feature? I respect the bold cause to try to relaunch his career, but maybe it's also because it's just not as strong of a song. For an album that was intentionally made so that every song could be made a radio single, we'll have to see what happens in the coming weeks and how fast RCA follows it up. However, I could be totally wrong about this. We'll see in the coming weeks. Any type of momentum Pitbull has- I want killed right now with the Kodak endorsements and everything.

#51 Lupe Fiasco ft. Trey Songz- Out of My Head

Possibly since late May or early April, Power 106 (LA's "hip hop" station) has been playing a super mediocre song with two completely indistinguishable voices. I found out about a month ago it was actually this song, and it made total sense. No rapper I can think of has descended so quickly in terms of quality, yet achieved that much more popular success. I listened to his first album, "Food & Liquor", maybe 100 times over, but he didn't achieve commercial success until the, again, mediocre "Superstar" made a decently sized dent in the charts. I am aware that record label politics came into play with the album this song is taken from, and that Lupe Fiasco really didn't want some of these singles released. "Out of My Head" barely scratched the #40 position before sliding down the charts. What I don't understand is why this song tests so well for LA radio- it's been on heavy rotation for months on all top 40 stations. Lupe Fiasco is a true talent, but one better served off of a major label. It's just a shame the quality of music vs. commerical appeal are like a see-saw rather than going hand in hand.