dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Maybe If Jordin Sparks Did A Night Vision Sex Tape, Her Album Would Sell Better

Jordin Sparks should totally shoot a sex vid with Chris Brown as the official clip for their duet, "No Air," right? Imagine the hot publicity! She'd be the coolest chick in music! Her album would fly off shelves! Graduation ceremonies and heads of state would invite her to speak across the nation! Elizabeth would fly her over for tea and backhanded verbal abuse! As it is, Jordin's album is languishing at #49 on Billboard's album chart in week 10 of its release.

But in this age of poor album sales, last year's American Idol winner has at least eked out a career as a singles artist; "No Air" is currently #51 on the Hot 100, and looks to be her second hit after "Tattoo."

And speaking of pop broads who hitched their wagons to male R&B stars to have a hit, Natasha Bedingfield and Sean Kingston's "Love Like This" moves up to #11 in the same week her album Pocketful Of Sunshine debuts in the Top 5. She has combined digital sales of the official single and the song off the album to thank. Additionally, the song "Pocketful Of Sunshine" debuts on the Hot 100 at #65 after being played on The Hills' recent season finale.

In fact, all the pop dames on are on the move this week: Britney Spears jumps into the Top 20 with "Piece Of Me" (#18) the day after she's carted off (again) to the looney bin, and Miley Cyrus' "See You Again" climbs five spots to #28 as "Ready, Set, Don't Go," her duet with dad Billy Ray, trails behind at #38. (Let that sink in for a moment -- Billy Ray Cyrus is in the Top 40 again, 18 years after "Achy Breaky Heart.")

Perhaps the most scandalous new entry is the Michael Jackson's updated "Wanna Be Startin' Something 2008," at #81, wherein Akon vocally molests the classic tune like it was a thong-clad teen handpicked from the front row. The whole Thriller redux seems so unnecessary. But then, so does the whole "featuring Akon and T-Pain" trend.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Low" - Flo Rida feat. T-Pain *6 weeks*
2. "No One" - Alicia Keys
3. "With You" - Chris Brown
4. "Apologize" - Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
5. "Don't Stop The Music" - Rihanna *sales gainer*
6. "Clumsy" - Fergie
7. "Take You There" - Sean Kingston
8. "Sensual Seduction" - Snoop Dogg
9. "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles
10. "Kiss Kiss" - Chris Brown feat. T-Pain

ALSO SEE:
Maybe If Blake Lewis And Ryan Tedder Did Sex, Jordin Sparks' Album Would Sell Better
Maybe If Jordin Sparks Dropped Her Panties For TMZ.com, Her Album Would Sell Better
How Jesus Made Natasha Bedingfield A Big Star

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Mysteriously Disappearing Kylie Minogue Videos

As fast as it appeared online yesterday, the video for Kylie Minogue's "In My Arms" kept getting yanked off YouTube. One person not pleased with the disappearing act is Troystar, who runs the Kylie Canada site.

Backing up a sec, in today's Towleroad music column, I discussed the similarities between the "In My Arms" video and the one for Robyn's "Handle Me," but, boy, was it was it a bitch linking up when the motherf***er kept getting taken down.

Troystar did a video himself today, ranting about the tactics taken by EMI, wherein the label is squandering some good, free PR opportunities for the "In My Arms" single.

But, quite frankly, if it gives us a chance to see a buff Canuck get all hot and bothered, I'm glad it happened!

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How Jesus Made Natasha Bedingfield A Big Star

As a struggling up and comer, she may have once appeared on the albums Shout God's Fame and Jesus Is My Superhero, but these days Natasha Bedingfield's pop prayers have been answered, and she's become a bona fide star in the U.S.

Billboard reports this week that Natasha's new album, Pocketful Of Sunshine, has debuted at #3 on the Top 200 Albums chart, thereby trumping the #26 peak of her debut, Unwritten.

Of course, this all could have less to do with Bedingfield being a Jesus nut and more to do with her selling her soul and dueting with Sean Kingston on first Pocketful single, "Love Like This," which has already become a gold- certified Top 20 hit. And perhaps there actually is no God, because Billboard also notes the Juno soundtrack has gone to #1.

What likely won't get much attention is the fact that the Juno and Natasha Bedingfield records sold 65,000 and 50,000 copies, respectively. By comparison, when the Dreamgirls soundtrack topped the chart last January in a week where it moved 90,000 copies, it was the lowest-selling U.S. #1 of the SoundScan era at that point.

There just may have been a bit of divine intervention, though; the only other major release this month that would've posed any competition came from Radiohead, and that album dropped four weeks ago. Additionally, after title track "Pocketful Of Sunshine" got some love in an episode of The Hills, it's now surpassed "Love Like This" on the iTunes download chart. Also selling well on iTunes are "Soulmate" and oldie "Unwritten."

But there's a moral to this story, and it's a lesson that's as old as time: drop to your knees and open wide, children -- for the microphone, that is -- and one day you, too, can pull the rug out from under your brother's recording career and become a major international pop ho.

ALSO SEE:
Let's Go To Bedingfield
Sorry, Bandwagon, But Juno Can Kiss My Butt

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ace Of Base's Electro "Wheel Of Fortune 2008"

The old Ace Of Base UK fan site now links to a newer version, Ace Of Base Returns, where you'll find more update's than at AOB's official page.

The site offers a slew of live photos, such as the above one from a November St. Petersburg concert.

There is also a live, updated mix of Ace Of Base's "Wheel Of Fortune" floating around that's pretty rad and completely electro. No official word yet as to whether this will be a single off the forthcoming Global Remix Project album.

At first the whole "remixing old songs" thing seemed kind of sketchy, but this is pretty good. Here's a creative clip of "Wheel Of Fortune 2008" someone put together using both old and new footage of the band.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Return Of 10-Legged Ho Machine Danity Kane

Remember Z-grade hookers, Danity Kane? Probably not... they had one hit ("Show Stopper") two years ago, then skittered away like a caterpussy.

But the cash must be gone, so now Sean "Puff Diddly" Combs is trotting out the 10-legged ho machine for yet another season of Making The Band -- from whence they were created, in season 3 -- and this time it's sure to be a trashfest.

Come to think of it, they were first on that show five years ago. They've all gotta be about 40 by now. Anyway, the low-rent concept this time is that Danity Kane have to live in a house with the last boy band who won the show and some guy named Donnie, while they all record their albums.

Naturally, the music doesn't matter -- it's all about who's gonna hook up and do sex in the house. One would assume Puff Daddy already screwed all 11 of them -- you know, to make sure they were "in tune."

At any rate, Danity Kane's new single, "Damaged", will be made available on iTunes tomorrow. It's actually a pretty decent electro-pop number. A full album is expected in March. The premiere of Making The Band 4 airs tonight on MTV at 10 p.m.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Teenage Wasteland: Are The New Kids On The Block Reuniting?

The U.K. chart remains basically the same, so let's instead turn to the big news: New Kids On The Block are getting back together, says People.

To be honest, I never liked New Kids. They always remind me of being the awkward ages of 15 and 16. More importantly, I just never liked their songs... well, save for that Christmas trash, "This One's For The Children," for maybe a day or two.

Luckily, they were here and gone in a blur, or at least what seemed like a blur. Their arrival coincided with my first flirtation with the dirty words "Top 40 music," since up to that point I'd mostly walked around the halls of high school pretending to mope around while listeneing to The Smiths and The Cure on my $10 K-Mart walkman.

Suddenly, it was March 1989 and this new crop of MTV stars were doling out upbeat dance/pop -- Roxette, Paula Abdul, Milli Vanilli, Fine Young Cannibals. There were also some good singles by pop veterans out at that point, too -- Howard Jones' "Everlasting Love" and Donna Summer's "This Time I Know It's For Real."

But smack in the middle of it all was New Kids On The Block with their generic "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" and "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," the latter of which was so bland, yet somehow became the template for every boy band that followed on how to make in insipid, mind-numbing ballad. (Jesus, now that I think about it, I really hated them.)

And while the Brits had Stock Aitken Waterman cranking out singles left and right, we had to deal with the pop plastic of Maurice Starr, the impresario behind New Edition and New Kids, along with other acts, like Perfect Gentlman, who often vanished into obscurity after one hit.

Every girl in high school had a tsunami in their panties over these dorks, and I just didn't get it. In fact, it just fueled the loathing. I couldn't go over to one of my gal pal's houses without their being some kind of New Kids concert video or notebook being flaunted in my face. I spent the summer of '89 hangin' tough at the local pool, and those f***ers were constantly on the radio. It was enough to make you walk around moping to The Smiths again.

Famously, at my high school, there was a girl who finally gave up her candy shop to her boyfriend of a year in return for New Kids concert tickets. Do kids still have sex at 15? Or is it 12 now?

Right, so then something odd happened. They kind of went away for, like, a month or two, and popped up out of nowhere with "Step By Step" in spring of 1990. Suddenly, there was an NKOTB single that didn't grate on my skull. It was like, Shit! The New Kids discovered house music! They followed that up with the charming, Beatles-esque "Tonight," the video for which might have benefited from a more retro theme to match the tune.

And then they were gone. Just like that. It was as if radio and MTV yanked the fivesome off the stage with a cane just as quickly as they'd sent them synchronized-dancing down our throats. There was some minor hit with a banal ballad in spring/summer of 1992 ("If You Go Away"), and then a failed attempt at a more hip-hop return for them in 1994, but by then they were a complete joke.

At any rate, the Boston fivesome, now ranging in age from 35 to 40, appear to be staging a comeback. And, why not? If Paula Abdul can do it... In fact, if Take That -- a British boy band whose manager modeled them after New Kids -- and Spice Girls, in turn modeled after Take That, can do it, then New Kids have ever right to reform for a bit of nostalgia cash-in.

All that said, here's a naughty disclosure: Jordan Knight's spring 1999 solo hit, "Give It To You" -- which I blogged about in 2006 -- will always be a jam in my book. And here's a bit of trivia: it was co-written by Jordan and Robin Thicke(!). Also, Joey McIntyre's "Stay The Same," which was out at the same time, is still one of my guilty pleasures.

Plus, if there's anything good out of this reunion, it's that Joey still looks like a hot boff.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Now You're Gone" - Basshunter *3 weeks*
2. "Chasing Pavements" - Adele
3. "Rockstar" - Nickelback
4. "Don't Stop The Music" - Rihanna
5. "Superstar" - Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos
6. "Piece Of Me" - Britney Spears
7. "Work" - Kelly Rowland
8. "Elvis Ain't Dead" - Scouting For Girls
9. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" - Soulja Boy Tell'em
10. "Be Mine!" - Robyn

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Friday, January 25, 2008

The Week That Was: January 25, 2008

It's been pouring rain here all week -- which I love -- and yesterday I trekked out in it to grab some magazines. But I wasn't expecting the speed at which the Heath Ledger cover stories would hit newstands: two days!

I think it's a cryin' shame. I saw 10 Things I Hate About You in the movie theater nine years ago, as I did Four Feathers, Monster's Ball and Brokeback Mountain (twice!). I must admit, I skipped A Knight's Tale and The Patriot. But not that it all means anything. I guess when these things happen, folks just want to find some way to relate to the tragic events.

But, being gay, Brokeback Mountain will always resonate as a film that changed attitudes and, really, the times. As much as it had nothing to do with music, I couldn't help blog about it two years ago. You just couldn't escape the climate of that film then. Heath Ledger was very much one of the main reasons for that.

And the cynics and haters can kiss it. It's a damn shame to see him go.

OTHER STUFF FROM THIS WEEK:

* "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow," the Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson single, hit iTunes. That's some good ol'-fashioned pop.

* Natasha Bedingfield's sophomore U.S. album, Pocketful Of Sunshine, was also released. Three songs are good. It might be a grower.

* The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial on Tuesday called "EMI's Change In Tune." Here's an interesting bit:
Consumers are entertaining themselves outside the industry's reach, influenced by peers instead of marketing dollars. If the major record companies can't count on hit albums selling enough copies to subsidize a whole roster of money-losing artists, how much longer will Hollywood be able to generate a summer blockbuster that can cover for several expensive flops? What will box-office grosses and home video sales look llike when people can download a high-definition movie in as little time as it takes to featch a song online today?
* According to the new issue of In Touch Weekly, which is what I ran out to buy yesterday before stumbling on the Heath Ledger magazine covers, Britney Spears' next single will be "Hot As Ice." (Forgive me, Britneyphiles, if this is common knowledge already.)

* Hey, some good news: Chart Rigger turned three! Even better, Chart Rigger mascots, Miss Pussy and Cracker -- perhaps the harshest judges of all -- approve of my liking Cascada's "What Hurts The Most" cover.

Here's a clip of them strutting around to it:

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Robyn's Sensual Seduction Of Snoop Dogg

Talk of a remix of Snoop Dogg's current hit, "Sensual Seduction," now featuring Robyn, started popping up the other day. Re-titled "Sexual Eruption," you can hear a short clip of the mix in the thread linked above.

"Sensual Seduction" is currently #11 this week on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. As of now, there's not much news as far as an official release of "Sexual Eruption" between Robyn and Snoop, though this could all change when she's in L.A. next month and gets hungry for a hot Dogg.

Still, gotta love the hotness she sings:

Sexual eruption, cuddle up little pup,
Sexual eruption, mama's gonna sex you up!

Elsewhere, Rihanna's 26th single off Good Girl Gone Bad, "Don't Stop The Music," hops into the Top 10 at #7, while Britney Spears' "Piece Of Me" -- which also features Robyn, on backing vocals -- inches closer to the Top 20, moving up two positions to #21.

On the Top 200 Albums chart, Spice Girls' Greatest Hits debuts at #93 after finally hitting all retail outlets. The collection had only been available stateside at Victoria's Secret and on iTunes for the previous two months.

And that, folks, is as sexually eruptive as it gets with this week's chart.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Low" - Flo Rida feat. T-Pain *5 weeks*
2. "No One" - Alicia Keys
3. "Apologize" - Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
4. "With You" - Chris Brown *sales/airplay gainer*
5. "Clumsy" - Fergie
6. "Kiss Kiss" - Chris Brown feat. T-Pain
7. "Don't Stop The Music" - Rihanna
8. "Take You There" - Sean Kingston
9. "Paralyzer" - Finger Eleven
10. "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles

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Britney Spears' Low-Rent Ace Of Base Cover

Have you heard this shit yet? It's Britney Spears doing a semi-cover of Ace Of Base's 1993 jam, "All That She Wants."

Now, God bless AOB's Jenny and Linn, but anyone that can make those two broads sound like Aretha Franklin by comparison deserves to have their recording contract tossed into a combine.

"All That She Wants" was originally produced by Max Martin's mentor, Denniz Pop, who also worked on Britney's first album shortly before his death in 1998. Did you hear that thud coming from the ground, by chance...?

Turn up the base with more Ace Of Base news on Chart Rigger:
* Ace Of Base Officially A Trio, Working With "Famous American Producers"
* Ace Of Base Planning Global Tour For 2008
* Ace Of Base? I Always Have And Always Will

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Two Really Big, Perky Reasons Cascada Made It In America

Look, I get it. The gay kids of America need Cascada. They're kind of like this generation's Real McCoy or Ace Of Base. Okay, that' s maybe stretching it... let's go with 2 Unlimited. And, hey, I was right there cheering on "Everytime We Touch" when it became a surprising Top 10 U.S. hit two years ago. But then the full album came out and every single song had the same bells and the same beat and basically sounded like chopped-out parts from an extended version of "Everytime We Touch."

It's like their big hit caught them off guard and the label put the screws to them to record an album with a forced one-week time limit. So, anyway, along comes this cover of "What Hurts The Most" in November, a chestnut that, via the Rascal Flatts version, made my Best Pop Tunes Of 2006 list.

A hit in Europe? That was a no-brainer. A hit in the States? Sorry, Cascada, but drum machines make farm hicks dizzy.

Wrong! That shit's been climbing the iTunes download chart like a hooker scaling a flag pole with ten dollar bills Scotch-taped to the top. And if you've never read the furiously passionate comments posted by Cascada fans on iTunes, it's a hoot. They're like Claymates with glow sticks.

At this point, I'm chalking up Cascada's American crossover appeal to Natalie Horler's boobs. A curvy Euro-ho with hot knockers and a ripped shirt is always gonna win. Just ask Samantha Fox. Plus, the heavy eye makeup and flannel really secure the U.S. white trash consumer base.

The German marketing team behind this act really learned from the mistakes of Eurodance artists gone by. Yes, the gays will come-a-calling, but you also gotta sell it to Middle America. Amber in a trench coat just doesn't cut it these days.

So, yeah, I finally gave in and love "What Hurts The Most." I can't help it -- her fried blonde-on-black weave really appeals to my Pennsylvania roots.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chart Rigger Turns Three Years Old

Thanks so much... x



* Check out more videos on the Chart Rigger YouTube channel.
* New Towleroad column up now.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

First Pics From The New X-Files Flick!

The only thing more exciting than '08 being a year we elect a new a President is that Mulder and Scully will finally be back together on screen this July! Here are the first pics from the set of the X-Files 2 film.

Yowza! Some guys just age really well. Oh, and David Duchovny looks good, too. But screw the Sex & The City movie -- seeing these two back in action makes my heart go pitter-pat!

Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson is now the new host for Masterpiece Theater on PBS. Wouldn't it be kinda hot if, during one of her intro monologues, a UFO flew out of her haunted box? Then she could be all like, "Sorry, this happens all the time..."

X-Files 2 began filming last month, and is due in theaters on July 25.

Thanks to my buddy Michael for pointing out these pics on Popoholic!

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Adele Seems Like A Nice Broad, But Then There's The Whole Singing Thing

XO did a nice post about Adele, the ho with the new #2 U.K. single. I'm using the pic he used, because I like that coat (she probably shoplifted).

There seems to be some brouhaha because music fans are taking sides in an Adele vs. Duffy drama. I don't see why. Duffy sounds like a Kate Nash knock-off who spent too many years riding her thumb with the lights out to old Dusty Springfield records, and Adele perfectly apes Norah Jones. She probably dreams of the day they can slam vadge.

Speaking of which -- Robyn! "Be Mine!" climbs to #10! Her second U.K. Top 10 single in five months! I remember predicting "Be Mine!" would do well, as there typically ain't much competition as far as new singles in the market in January. But that's not to take away from the radness of the song. It peaked at #3 in Sweden in '05, and, having played it to death myself back then, it's funny to see the song have a whole new life in England. Funny... but sexy.

Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat" is still hanging in there at #39, as well. Plus, her full self-titled LP moves up to a new peak of #15 on the album chart. Topping it all off, my new jam, "Some Kinda Rush" by Booty Luv, holds steady at #19 for a second week.

On a final note, it's worth mentioning that, 14 months after its release, Take That's Beautiful World album is at #3. It's gotta be because of either the fact that it was re-released a month or so ago with "Rule The World" now attached, or folks who initially held out from buying it are giving in and using their Christmas cash/iTunes gift cards to get it.

Either way, Take That seem to be the U.K. equivalent of Nickelback, who you can't chase away with a broom 'round these parts. Maybe a sharp stick, though. That might work.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Now You're Gone" - Basshunter *2 weeks*
2. "Chasing Pavements" - Adele *new*
3. "Piece Of Me" - Britney Spears
4. "Superstar" - Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos
5. "Don't Stop The Music" - Rihanna
6. "Rockstar" - Nickelback
7. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" - Soulja Boy Tell'em
8. "Elvis Ain't Dead" - Scouting For Girls
9. "Homecoming" - Kanye West feat. Chris Martin
10. "Be Mine!" - Robyn

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Feels Like Some Kinda Rush

The other day when I hit Virgin before it closes this weekend, I picked up the DVDs for Flashdance (the "Special Collector's Edition," mind you) and Pulp Fiction (also a majorly loaded-up "Collector's Edition"), as well as the Sara Bareilles CD and Spandau Ballet's Gold: The Best Of. Feeling like there might be some hidden gem I'd missed, I went back last night -- and I was right!

I took a stroll through the dance section and there was Booty Luv's full-length Boogie 2Nite on import staring back! These two broads kinda cheesed me off off when they criticized Scooch for beating them to represent the U.K. at Eurovision last spring -- sour grapes, and all. But goddamn, if this CD isn't total radness!

I'm not really one for remixes or pure dance music myself, but Boogie 2Nite is just the right blend of beats and pop, much like the Angel City album was a couple years back.

U.S. iTunes has the single EPs for "Boogie 2Nite" and "Don't Mess With My Man," so I was familiar with those. And "Shine" was passable, if not a tad limp. But their latest single -- and the first one that isn't a cover -- "Some Kinda Rush" is pretty awesome. At least it sounded that way at 11:30 p.m. blasting in the car, driving home after eating lackluster sushi!

It's currently at #19 on the U.K. singles chart.



Hopefully there's more original material and less covers on the next album. But, that said, Boogie 2Nite is a none-too-shabby debut.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Ace Of Base Officially A Trio, Working With "Famous American Producers"

True story: I was at a bar about six years ago and told this guy that Ace Of Base would end up being one of the most respected bands of the '90s. He walked away from me laughing. Just misunderstood in my time, I suppose.

So here's an update to the news that Ace Of Base are staging a full return to pop music this year. Jenny Berggren (the brunette broad) wrote on the band's MySpace blog in August that she was in Nashville writing new songs. According to Wikipedia, Jenny confirmed in an interview with Danish Mag Se & Hor that her sister Linn (the blonde broad) "hasn't been part of Ace Of Base in years," while Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg (the hot blond guy) said in an interview in November that Linn definitely doesn't feature on the new album they're recording.

Now, I haven't bothered to look all to look all this up, because I've got cereal to eat, folks. But it's on Wikipedia, so it's gotta be true, right?

Anyway, after a December 14 concert in Lithuania, Jonas "Joker" Berggren (the hot-in-a-weird-way stocky guy) apparently told fans the band is working with "famous American producers," but did not reveal who they were. The album has an apparent September release date.

Of course, as my pal Steve said yesterday, "it just won't be the same without Linn standing about three feet behind the other three, faded and staring off into the distance in the background." Sigh. So true. But the good news is that a new album is in the works. And, hey, maybe they're working with Timbaland! With 23 million copies sold worldwide of Happy Nation/The Sign alone, they've certainly got the cash to afford him.

Plus, come on -- Timbaland? That'd make everyone happy, right? (Ho! Ho!)

It all goes a bit sketchy, though, with the upcoming plans for earlier in the year, before the new studio album is to come out:
The plan is to release a remix album in 5 different editions worldwide; each edition will be released in different territories according to whom has remixed the tracks (for example, the Asian edition will contain remixes only by Asian DJs, etc). This is quite unusual for the band in comparison with previous releases. Other plans mention that a first [remix] single is to be released in February or March 2008, followed by a second single in May.
Oh, why do they have to go the "safe" route? This just smacks of a whole "reminding people of who Ace Of Base are" marketing plan. And, remix album? To quote fellow Swedes Roxette, don't bore us, get to the chorus.

Nonetheless, exciting news about the new studio album!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sean Kingston's Free To Sound Like Rozalla

Okay, I'm just sayin'...



Yes, there've been some soundalike conspiracy theories flying 'round here lately, particularly dealing with Janet Jackson, but I really think I'm onto something with this whole Sean Kingston "Take You There"/Rozalla "Everybody's Free" thing -- especially the intros to both. Anyone? Hello?

"Take You There," #10 this week on Billboard's Hot 100, is a pretty good jam, though. It's a strange mix of '80s pop, '90s Euro and just plain ghetto that I first heard on the radio last fall. I like that today's new crop of artists are getting things back to melody and catchy hooks. And ghetto.

Other decent pop singles on the move are Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music" (up from #26 to #13), Natasha Bedingfield and Sean Kingston's "Love Like This" (certified gold, at #19) and Britney Spears' "Piece Of Me" (up five positions to #23).

I'm slightly proud to say my new fave jam, Miley Cyrus' "See You Again," lands in the Top 40 at #35 this sweek. She's a firecracker, that broad.

A bit of a flashback: Two years ago tomorrow a movie called High School Musical first aired on the Disney Channel. I first noted the odd phenomenon that was happening, particularly with the massive downloads on iTunes, in the following week's chart post in late January 2006. Now Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens are household names. And they're doing sex.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Low" - Flo Rida feat. T-Pain *4 weeks*
2. "No One" - Alicia Keys
3. "Apologize" - Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
4. "Kiss Kiss" - Chris Brown feat. T-Pain
5. "Clumsy" - Fergie
6. "With You" - Chris Brown *airplay gainer*
7. "Paralyzer" - Finger Eleven
8. "Bubbly" - Colbie Caillat
9. "Tattoo" - Jordin Sparks
10. "Take You There" - Sean Kingston *sales gainer*

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

R.I.P. Virgin Megastore, Los Angeles

My pal Mike and I went to the Sunset Blvd. Virgin Megastore today for the last time and shot this clip. It's closing this weekend after 15 years.



I have a lot of good memories of shopping there and then hitting the Laemmle Sunset 5 movie theater, which is in the same shopping center, on Friday nights over the past decade.

This was the first Virgin Megastore I'd ever been to. I was visiting L.A. before I moved here, back in March of 1998, and I walked through the doors for the first time and bought Kylie Minogue's Impossible Princess on import that day.

A year later I'd moved here. In June 1999, probably the second week I was living here, I went up and met Sarah Cracknell and Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, who were signing the Places To Visit EP. I've seen Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Minnie Driver, Josh Brolin, Donald Faison and the Pet Shop Boys shopping in the store over the years, on just random visits. Virgin was always the place I bought all my imports in the old days, and even this past November I picked up Kylie's X there.

To give an idea of the utter decline of the record industry just within the microcosm of this particular store, in 1999 and 2000 you'd walk into Virgin on a Friday or Saturday night and there would easily be 125 people or so shopping at any given moment. By contrast, I was in there on a Friday night in the fall and saw maybe 7 customers total.

There's still a Virgin Megastore at the Hollywood & Highland complex, next to Mann's Chinese Theater. It opened two years ago, and it's always booming because of the sheer volume of tourists that swarm that area. But this was like the Virgin Megastore here in L.A.

Sidenote: I wrote an article for a local magazine in 2005 on the six best record stores in Los Angeles. After this weekend, only one of those will still be open.

Watch other clips on the Chart Rigger YouTube channel!
New Towleroad column up now!

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Sorry, Bandwagon, But Juno Can Kiss My Butt

In a piss-poor sales week due to lack of new releases (though, any week during the past year or two has been piss-poor for the music biz) Billboard reports that the Juno soundtrack has jumped up from #8 to #3 on the Top 200 Albums chart. But I really can't just sit by anymore and keep quiet while this whole Juno orgy goes down.

First of all, I saw a screener DVD of the movie and fell asleep on the couch sometime around when Juno said she wasn't interested in banging the twice-her-age character played by Jason Bateman after she spent the entire film leading him on. What the hell!? That was the only reason I stayed awake that far into the movie -- I thought maybe I'd finally get to see David Hogan strip off!

So I don't know what happens after that. I'm told Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman -- the couple who plan on adopting Juno's baby -- split up, Juno pops out the kid and gives it to Jennifer Garner anyway. Great.

My whole problem with the plausibility of all the Juno fanfare is that I sat there the entire time thinking, What an unlikeable main character. She's a bitch to everyone around her, and NOBODY in the real world talks in the too-self-aware, smarmy, pop-culture-riddled lingo Juno speaks in . The only places you hear that kind of douchebaggery is on Dawson's Creek and in the Scream movies. And Tarantino films. All of which, this Diablo Cody chick that wrote the screenplay and everyone's wetting themselves over now that she has an Entertainment Weekly column must have O.D.'d on over the past decade.

If there's a sweet or relateable side to Juno, one that would explain why her best friend endures the sarcasm or why anyone would tolerate her the two minutes it took to impregnate her, she must have shown it those last 10 minutes I missed.

If Juno is a sympathetic character, it was somehow lost on me. And sitting there and watching an angry teen whine for an hour and a half and blaming her problems on the rest of the world is not good entertainment.

Or, apparently, it is. The film has made $73 million so far. The soundtrack is at #3. So what the hell do I know?

There is, however, a "Why I Hate Juno" message thread on RottenTomatoes.com. That gives me some comfort. I'd check it out, but you have to set up an account with a username and password to access it, and frankly, I don't have time -- I gotta go watch High School Musical.

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I've Got A Crush On This Guy Who Wants To Bang Angry Pussy

Following last week's "Angry Pussy" post, here's Dave Days with "I've Got A Crush... On Hillary," itself a response to that Obama Girl broad.



Thanks to Towleroad for pointing this classy trash out.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Pop Scores Big In Brits Nominations, But Here's How They Coulda Been Slightly Better

With four nominations apiece for Take That and Leona Lewis, two for Kylie Minogue and one each for Girls Aloud, Sugababes and Mutya Buena, pop is definitely representin' along with the usual indie rock fare in the 2008 Brit Awards nominations that were announced today.

But pop fans being the fickle lot that we are, naturally there were a few glaring instances where the nods could have been a tad better.

1. British Male Solo Artist

Nominees:

Jamie T
Mark Ronson
Mika
Newton Faulkner
Richard Hawley

Probably the weakest category this year, as far as the nominees. One surefire way to sex it up a bit would have been to scrap Jamie T in lieu of Shayne Ward, who deserves some props for not falling by the sophomore slump wayside.


2. British Breakthrough Act

Nominees:

Bat For Lashes
Kate Nash
Klaxons
Leona Lewis
Mika

Bat For Lashes? Honestly! Where are Ghosts? Maybe since their two singles didn't chart in the Top 20 they don't qualify as "breakthrough," but why not acknowledge Calvin Harris or Booty Luv, who had a couple big hits each in 2007?

3. International Female Solo Artist

Nominees:
Alicia Keys
Björk

Feist

Kylie Minogue

Rihanna


They almost got it right here, save for Alicia Keys, who just feels tacked-on and too obvious. And you know where I'm going here -- where the hell is Robyn!?

4. International Male Solo Artist

Nominees:
Bruce Springsteen
Kanye West
Michael Bublé
Rufus Wainwright
Timbaland

Chuck Kanye West -- he's a big baby -- and replace him with Darren Hayes. He did it on his own without a big-label budget or a table of trendy producers at his disposal. Or, lose Springsteen. Yeah, yeah -- he's a legend. But he could fill his swimming pool with awards at this point.

5. International Group

Nominees:
Arcade Fire
Eagles
Foo Fighters
Kings Of Leon
The White Stripes

If any category smacks of blindly filling in the blanks with any old act, it's this one. Why play it safe with The White Stripes or Foo Fighters? Shame on the Brits for not nominating Hellogoodbye, after their global hit -- particularly in the U.K. -- with "Here (In Your Arms)" last year.

* The full list of nominees

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Gary Barlow Writing Tunes For The Brit Version Of High School Musical

Take That frontman Gary Barlow -- looking here like the hottest dad you'd ever wanna pour a glass of rohypnol Kool-Aid at the monthly PTA meeting and then drag to the school cafeteria after hours for a game of triple-X Twister and major low-rent boffing basked in the light of the Hi-C vending machine -- is writing songs for eight-part series Britannia High, a British version of High School Musical. Naturally, today's television being the cesspool of reality television that it is, the musical drama series will be preceded by another series revolving around the teenagers invited to audition for the show at a London casting call. So basically it's two series about one -- and Gary Barlow won't be naked for either of them. Plus you'll have to edure his either brilliant or brilliantly awful HSM rip-off tracks.

Either way, Britannia High already sounds 10 times more interesting than High School Musical 2 was. Filming begins in June.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Swedes Take Over The U.K. Chart

It took a Swedish bedroom DJ who found his big break on MySpace to knock Leon Jackson's X Factor cack off the top of the U.K. singles chart.

"Now You're Gone" by Jonas Erik Altberg, aka Basshunter, is #1 after originally becoming a hit across Scandanavia two years ago (then called "Botten Anna"). I dunno, I'm not really seeing the appeal. It sounds like any by-the-book trance number from eight years ago with an Eiffel 65 vocal layed over top.



But this being January -- typically a virtual dry-spell as far as new releases are concerned -- anything goes usually on the charts. Case in point being the fact that Britney Spears manages to hit #2 with "Piece Of Me," which is actually one notch higher than she eked out in the U.K. with "Gimme More." "Piece Of Me" is a quality single, though, which has more to do with the fact that there are some savvy Swede writers and producers behind it, rather than any major contribution from Britney herself.

And while we're on a Swedish kick, it's worth mentioning that Robyn nicely flies up from #55 to #23 this week with "Be Mine!" based on downloads alone. The physical single gets a release in stores tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see, what with the lack of major competition this month, if "Be Mine!" can trump the #17 peak of Robyn's previous single, "Handle Me."

Additionally, Robyn's self-titled album re-enters the chart at #18, which bests its original U.K. peak position of #19.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Now You're Gone" - Basshunter *1 week*
2. "Piece Of Me" - Britney Spears
3. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" - Soulja Boy Tell'em
4. "Rockstar" - Nickelback
5. "When You Believe" - Leon Jackson
6. "Don't Stop The Music" - Rihanna
7. "Superstar" - Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos
8. "Apologize" - Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
9. "Rule The World" - Take That
10. "Elvis Ain't Dead" - Scouting For Girls

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Robyn Heads To The States

With her third single ("Be Mine!") off her major comeback album out in the U.K. at the moment, Swedish vamp Robyn next heads off to the U.S. Just like overseas, she's preceding the release of her self-titled album with The Rakamonie EP, out on Cherry Tree/Interscope January 29. "Be Mine!" and "With Every Heartbeat" are included on the EP, but unfortunately they're in slowed-down acoustic form. Plus "Konichiwa Bitches," "Cobrastyle" and "Jack U Off" are on there, but they've also been on U.S. iTunes since last spring.

Oh well, at least she's doing three live dates over here:

2/5/08 - Highline Ballroom, New York, NY
2/7/08 - Popscene, San Francisco, CA
2/9/08 - Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Off Topic: Angry Pussy

This is hands-down the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. Forget the tearsy moment last Monday -- she might get my vote for this shit alone.

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Janet Jackson's Single Is Sounding More And More Like Everyone But Janet Jackson

I expected Janet Jackson's "Feedback" to land in the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100 this week -- which I bet Camp Jackson was hoping for, too -- but, alas, no. Now that the video's premiered, here's another soundalike.



Last week I pointed out how the vocals in the song -- particularly during the bridge and the chorus -- were similar to Lisa Scott-Lee's "Electric." Now the music track is sounding more and more like Richard X vs. Liberty X's "Being Nobody" each time I hear "Feedback."

So whatta we got going on in the Hot 100 this week, anyway? Rihanna's got her 17th single off Good Girl Gone Bad in the Top 40 ("Don't Stop The Music" at #26), and yet the album has yet to be certified more than platinum. Meanwhile, Josh Groban is quadruple platinum with that Christmas shit and The Eagles are (and this has to be a typo on Billboard's part) seven times platinum!?

Psychotic walking disaster that she is, I still like Britney Spears' "Piece Of Me," which sits at #28 for a second week. And I finally caved in and downloaded Miley Cyrus' "See You Again," which inches up to #47. Goddamn Hannah Montana! It's the synths. They do it every dang time. Miley's also got the Hot Shot Debut at #68 with "Start All Over Again."

Finally, Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown's not-too-shabby duet, "No Air," enters the Hot 100 at #95.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Low" - Flo Rida feat. T-Pain *3 weeks* *airplay gainer*
2. "No One" - Alicia Keys
3. "Apologize" - Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
4. "Kiss Kiss" - Chris Brown feat. T-Pain
5. "Clumsy" - Fergie
6. "Bubbly" - Colbie Caillat
7. "Paralyzer" - Finger Eleven
8. "Tattoo" - Jordin Sparks
9. "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles
10. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" - Soulja Boy Tell'em

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Slew Of Idols Get Axed From Sony BMG

It was reported yesterday that Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard were dropped by J Records. Now add Katharine McPhee to the scrap heap.

Taylor and Katharine were the respective winner and runner-up from the 2006 season of American Idol, and Ruben won about 46 years ago.

But none of this is really any loss. With the exception of McPhee's single "Over It" -- which I was over the moon about for about a week last year -- these three were about as exciting as reading the labels on Paula Abdul's pill bottles. Actually, that might be kind of fascinating, come to think of it.

Anyway, Ruben, Taylor and Katharine had better make room for Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis in the unemployement line, at the rate their albums have been selling these past two months.

The new season of dream-destroying machine American Idol begins next week on Tuesday.

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Menudo And Saint Etienne Have Nothing In Common, But Here's Some Junk About Both

Oh, boys! With the sudden influx of modern-day boy bands -- NLT, Varsity and now the new Menudo -- it's time to dust off the ol' stylized dance moves and start reading J14... again. Target began exclusively selling Menudo 2.0's "More Than Words (A E I O U)" EP last month, and iTunes added both an English and Spanish version of the single last week. But the more I type about this, the dirtier I'm feeling.

So, here's a live clip of the song and now let's be done with it.



Moving on, here's a nice promo shot of Mark Brown and Sarah Cracknell for their upcoming "The Journey Continues" single, which gets discussed in this week's new Towleroad guest column.

As well, here's a pic of the insides of Saint Etienne's limited edition Boxette that the group e-mailed out the other day in their fan newsletter.

Saint Etienne stated there are still about 400 copies of Boxette left. You simply have to sign up with their fan club to purchase.

Also, check out the band's new-ish track, "This Is Tomorrow."

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Like Millions Of Others Before Her, Posh Is On Top For Mr. Blackwell

Who the F still gives a stitch about Mr. Blackwell and his damn "Worst Dressed List"? Oh -- what? Victoria Beckham is on it? Time to blog!

Ten years ago this month, all five Spice Girls topped that old hooker's tally of the most scandalously-clad broads in entertainment, and now Posh lands atop the list on her own. Maybe if she'd just shoved a riding crop down her cleavage in that pic above, the shame could have been avoided.

"Forget the fashion spice, wearing a skirt would suffice! In one skinny-mini monstrosity after another, pouty posh can really wreck-em," grumpy old Blackwell said in a statement.

He also wrote, "I felt that it was inappropriate at this time to [include Britney Spears on the list], when her personal life is in such upheaval. I hope 2008 is a better year for her."

How dignified and generous. Guess boozed-out Amy Winehouse is still fair game, though, since she made #2, just below Posh: "Exploding beehives above, tacky polka-dots below, she's part 50's carhop horror."

Meanwhile, here's Mr. Blackwell. It would be so much easier to make fun of him and his own attire if he didn't have such a hot mouth.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Gay-Friendly Morrissey Negotiating To Play In Gay-Hanging Iran

On 2004's You Are Quarry, Morrissey laments in "America Is Not The World" that the U.S. "President is never black, female or gay" (though, four years later, two of those are looking to be strong possibilities for next year).

So it's odd, then, that Le Moz's manager is quoted by The Independent saying that they're negotiating with Iran's Ministry Of Culture and Islamic Guidance to get Morrissey a concert date in Tehran, where you're publicly hung if found guilty of partaking in gay sexual activity.

Then again, Morrissey is likely still reeling from the recent PR disaster after an interview with U.K. rock mag NME last month all but found him branded across the world as a racist for a second time. "If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won't hear an English accent. You'll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent," he was quoted as saying in response to a question of whether immigration is enriching or diluting the British identiy.

It should be noted that Morrissey is taking legal action against the publication for allegedly twisting his words out of context, and that the writer of the piece requested his name be removed.

So who knows whether Morrissey wanting to play in Iran -- and also Beirut and Jerusalem, his manager is quoted as saying -- is a move to counter him being labeled an anti-immigration racist or just some long-harbored artistic desire? Incidentally, singer Chris De Burgh ("Lady In Red") was recently granted permission to play Iran, which will make him the first Western artist to perform in the country since the 1979 Revolution.

In the meantime, Morrissey's got a greatest hits collection coming out February 4, which gathers mostly tracks from his past two albums along with a couple of his bigger hits from days of yore and two new songs.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

When You Die And Go To Hell, It's Actually A Never-Ending Nickelback Concert

The Top 10 of the U.K. singles chart has flirted with (disaster!!) Nickelback's low-rent "Rockstar" for months now, and it initially peaked at #15 in November. This week the Canadian rockers manage to get to #8 with "Rockstar," but were James At War's parody, "Popstar" to get released, surely it would trump the original.



The stuff magic is made of. Here in the States, Nickelback have sold seven million copies of their latest album. God bless America.

Chartwise, January is always the dullest month. Well, unless you want to talk about Leon Jackson. Then it's like a pack of firecrackers going off down your pants. The stuff magic is made of.

On a final note, Robyn's third U.K. single of late, "Be Mine!" lands at #55 this week on downloads alone. The physical single is out next Monday.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "When You Believe" - Leon Jackson *3 weeks*
2. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" - Soulja Boy Tell'em
3. "Bleeding Love" - Leona Lewis
4. "Apologize" - Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
5. "Rule The World" - Take That
6. "Valerie" - Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse
7. "Call The Shots" - Girls Aloud
8. "Rockstar" - Nickelback
9. "Heartbroken" - T2 feat. Jodie Aysha
10. "No One" - Alicia Keys

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Natalie Imbruglia Splits From Her Husband

First off, I got the old lady Natalie Imbruglia's Glorious: The Singles 1997 - 2007 for Christmas, and the five new songs on there are pretty rad. The '80s-sounding, Blondie-esque "Be With You" and eerie "Amelia" are especially worth checking out. But anyway, it's sad to hear that Natalie and husband Daniel Johns of Silverchair have split after four years of marriage. That picture of the two of them to the right was apparently only taken about a week and a half ago.

Back when I was working at the E! Entertainment channel, Natalie came and filmed a taped performance in the lobby. I held her bottled water for her in between songs. I think she winked at me, and had I played my cards right, I could have worked myself into a cushy David Gest-type position. Christ, the classy opportunities that have slipped through my fingers...

This was in March of 2002, when White Lilies Island was released. Kylie Minogue's Fever was just out as well, and the U.S. press was pitting the two Aussie babes and former Neighbours stars against each other.

Anyway, "Beauty On The Fire" was always one of my favorite songs off White Lilies Island, and it's also on the Glorious singles collection.

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