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.