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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Flop-A-Doodle Fuck

At this point, Mr. Probz's single "Waves" has sold about a million copies worldwide, thanks in large part to the Robin Shulz remix. And the sooner this fucking breezy dance-pop jam gets moving into the Top 40 of the Billboard Top 40 here in the States, that number should double. This week "Waves" moves up to #52 on the chart, a new peak.

One downer: Kiesza drops to #60 with "Hideaway." The fuck? Another downer: Nick Jonas' absolute fucking jam "Jealous" drops to #80.

Everything else is total pussy.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor *3 weeks*
2. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
3. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
4. "Anaconda" - Nicki Minaj
5. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
6. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith
7. "Break Free" - Ariana Grande feat. Zedd
8. "Boom Clap" - Charli XCX
9. "Chandelier" - Sia
10. "Don't Tell 'Em" - Jeremih feat. YG

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Nick Jonas' "Jealous" Is My Jam

Meghan Trainor continues to gyrate her bass at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, while Charli XCX yo-yos once again and jumps back into the Top 10 (at #10). Meanwhile, Calvin Harris and John Newman's "Blame" debuts at #31, marking the fastest-growing single (so far) for either of those two in the States. In the UK, "Blame" is at the top of the singles chart.

Outside of the Top 40, Dutch rapper-turned-crooner Mr. Probz climbs to #58 with the Robin Shulz remix of his song "Waves." And that brings us to Nick Jonas, who sees his very first solo single chart on the Hot 100 (minus features and songs that didn't have an official single release) with "Jealous," at #78. And, I have to say — "Jealous" has totally become my jam over the past week, so I completely approve of his Jonas-ing.



The U.S. Top 10:

1. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor *2 weeks*
2. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
3. "Anaconda" - Nicki Minaj
4. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
5. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
6. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith
7. "Break Free" - Ariana Grande feat. Zedd
8. "Maps" - Maroon 5
9. "Rude" - MAGIC!
10. "Boom Clap" - Charli XCX

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Kiesza's 'Sound Of A Woman' Album Cover

Well, the first great album of 2014 is finally getting a release on October 21.

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Shayne Ward X Mike Stock Album Update: February Release, Song Titles, Etc.

Shayne Ward and producer Mike Stock have gotten underway with recording Shayne's fourth album, and while Shayne posted the above photo on Twitter earlier this week, Mike put forth the following bit of info about the sessions on Facebook:
This week Shayne and I were in the studio to record 8 brand new songs for his upcoming fourth studio album.
'Too Much To Lose' and 'My Heart Would Take You Back' are two songs due to appear on the forthcoming album out in February.
Stock also tweeted that the album will be out in February, with an official announcement coming on Friday.

Bottom line: Shayne Ward, still a hot piece. And possibly one of the best voices Mike Stock has worked with, as far as range goes?

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kiesza's New Single "No Enemiesz" Is Perfect

"Hideaway" is a single whose crossover appeal was evident from the beginning, despite the house track's low-key, indie sensibilities. And Kiesza's (European) follow-up, "Giant In My Heart," felt a bit like more of the same. It was good, and it kept the sound established with "Hideaway" going...it just didn't really move things up the road much.

But last night Kiesza's new single "No Enemiesz" premiered on Annie Mac's BBC radio show in the UK. (Actually, if you've caught the Canadian singer live in the past five months, you'll have heard her belt this one out.) And, good news: It feels like it's her first proper song.



You could plunk down at a piano or strap on an acoustic guitar and strip this one down into a nice "unplugged" number, or crank it up and blow the fucking windows out. (I prefer the latter, myself.)

"No Enemiesz" in its live form had a bit more of a Madonna "Vogue" feel to it, especially with the house piano intro and, well, Kiesza stepping on stage and voguing.



Anyway, Kiesza's debut LP, Sound Of A Woman, can't get here soon enough. It's out on October 21.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Calvin Harris & John Newman's "Blame" Video

I've watched Calvin Harris and John Newman's "Blame" video twice now and I'm still not able to fully wrap my head around what's going on.

Overall, it seems like an excuse to parade a bunch of scantily-clad broads around in Victoria's Secret's finest. I guess if you scratch the surface, John (and, briefly, Calvin) are supposed to be emotionally troubled over said ladies, who, by the end of this whole shebang, leave the club they've been hookin' in, jump into a puddle of water and resurface in some far off land.

Maybe it's the land where this trash has a plot. Oh, well — still a decent jam, "Blame" is.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Meghan Trainor Thankfully Kicks Taylor Swift To The Curb

Oh, look — here's a nice, grainy picture of me with "All About That Bass" chanteuse Meghan Trainor, who now has the #1 single in the country. I interviewed her in the lobby of the Ace Hotel here in New York City last month, and you can read that particular gem over at Idolator.

As for stuff on the Billboard Hot 100 this week that doesn't involve the #1 single, British pop act Clean Bandit climb to a new high of #12 with "Rather Be," while Swedish songbird Tove Lo also reaches a new peak of #18 with "Habits (Stay High)".

And if you never saw the interview I did with Tove Lo...

You can watch that right here.



And that brings us to the one and only Kiesza, whose "Hideaway" squeaks up four positions to #51 this week. Oh, look...

Well, you know.



The U.S. Top 10:

1. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor *1 week*
2. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
3. "Anaconda" - Nicki Minaj
4. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
5. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
6. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith
7. "Rude" - MAGIC!
8. "Break Free" - Ariana Grande feat. Zedd
9. "Maps" - Maroon 5
10. "Chandelier" - Sia

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Pet Shop Boys Announce They'll Start Working On A New Album In November

Pop kings the Pet Shop Boys are somehow still trekking around the globe on their Electric Tour (which just had its 100th show), but over the weekend on their official site, it was announced that the pair "are planning to start work on a new album in November."

Their last LP was the Stuart Price-produced Electric — which, if you've not yet heard it, you should first punch yourself in the dick, and then hit up Spotify or iTunes or Amazon or a CD bin and do so immediately. It's literally their best (and highest charting) album since 1993's Very.

Anyway, a new Pet Shop Boys album possibly being released in 2015 is an exciting thing.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Duke Dumont Just Misses Out On His Third Consecutive #1

Is Duke Dumont's "Won't Look Back" an homage to or a knockoff of Black Box's "Ride On Time"? Oh, who cares. Black Box were shady as fuck themselves. The important thing is that now Dumont has let it be known that the vocalist on the track is Yolanda Quartey.

"Won't Look Back" flies up the UK singles chart to #2 this week, thus becoming Duke's third Top 10 single, but first to not reach #1.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Prayer In C" - Lilly Wood & Robin Shulz *2 weeks*
2. "Won't Look Back" - Duke Dumont
3. "Superheroes" - The Script *new*
4. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
5. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
6. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
7. "Lovers On The Sun" - David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
8. "Maps" - Maroon 5
9. "Rude" - MAGIC!
10. "Am I Wrong" - Nico & Vinz

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Saturday, September 06, 2014

My Gorgon City Interview: Watch

As mentioned last week, Matt and Kye from Gorgon City stop by the Idolator studio recently, just ahead of their (canceled because of weather) appearance at Electric Zoo.

The resulting video interview wound up being one of my favorites ever. Up there with Kiesza, probably. And actually, Kiesza factors into this one, too. It turns out she co-wrote the track "Go All Night" — aka the one Jennifer Hudson features on — for Gorgon City's upcoming album Sirens (out October 7), and she even was meant to be the vocalist on it at one point.

Anyway, you can read the full writeup I did here, and watch the video below.

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Mary J. Blige's Disclosure & Sam Smith Collab "Right Now" Is Here, And It's Pretty Great

If you've yet to read the Guardian's big piece from last weekend on Mary J. Blige spending a month in the UK making new LP The London Sessions with the likes of Disclosure, Naughty Boy, Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith, then you'd best hop to it — because the first fruit of all their labo(u)r is here.

"Right Now" is a track co-written by Smith and produced by Disclosure, and it falls somewhere between the latter duo's branded house sound (think "Latch" and "White Noise") and branded R&B sound (like their Nile Rodgers & Sam Smith collaboration "Together"). Actually, it probably leans more toward R&B, but with house flourishes.



Anyway, as mentioned, it's pretty great. I didn't realize music from this project would be coming so soon, so here's hoping the album is out before the end of the year!

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Friday, September 05, 2014

The Shayne Ward x Mike Stock Album Is Underway


 Here's Shayne on morning TV last week talking a bit about the album.

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Betty Who's Second Video For "Somebody Loves You" Stars Kevin McHale From 'Glee': Watch

When a pop song as good and as loved as Betty Who's "Somebody Loves You" still hasn't cracked the main pop charts of the world, we have a problem. One possible solution? A brand new video for the track, which, hey — might at least rack up sky high YouTube views all over again and get this thing into the Hot 100, ahead of the release of BW's debut LP Take Me When You Go on October 7.

So can the presence of Betty's pal Kevin McHale in this visual get things rolling all over again? You know I'm a diehard Gleek. And the video is a pretty fun, colorful time. Watch below and decide for yourself:

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Calvin Harris & John Newman's "Blame" Is Better Than You Expected It To Be: Listen

 
Calvin Harris and John Newman are two artists I can get behind — Calvin in more ways than one — and so when news came three months ago that Harris' follow-up to "Summer" would be a collaboration between the two, well, it was cause for party hats and Barbie Doll legs.

So here we are now with "Blame," which sounds like much more of a thought-out song than "Summer" ever did. No disrespect to "Summer," of course; I like that one. It's just that "Blame" represents something of a new melodic direction for Calvin Harris, which is something I think he needed for his fourth album, lest he veer to far off the path into Avicii/Guetta EDM Hell territory.

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Kiesza's Slow Climb

Taylor Swift continues to wrap her sturdy thighs around the top position on the Billboard Hot 100, and so we must look elsewhere for hope, pop chyldryn.

The good news is that Clean Bandit's "Rather Be" has seen its descent halted, and it holds at #15 for a second week (after initially peaking at #13). A few notches below that, Tove Lo finally cracks the Top 20 with "Habits (Stay High)", at #20.

Outside of the Top 40, Kiesza's "Hideaway" hops up five spots to #55 (god, it is taking forever with that one), while Mr. Probz's "Waves" jumps to #80 in its second week on the chart.

And with all that out of the way, it's high time for...

Me at work…daily.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift *2 weeks*
2. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
3. "Anaconda" - Nicki Minaj
4. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
5. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith
6. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
7. "Break Free" - Ariana Grande feat. Zedd
8. "Rude" - MAGIC!
9. "Chandelier" - Sia
10. "Boom Clap" - Charli XCX

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Calvin Harris & John Newman's "Blame": Here's A Preview Of The Single

Calvin Harris has been teasing his Instagram followers by posting a couple shoddy snippets of his "Summer" follow-up single "Blame," but now there's finally a clear clip where we can hear John Newman's chorus on the damn thing.

The song is set for release on September 7, while it will officially premiere (possibly via the Emil Nava-directed video) on September 4. Until then...

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Mary J. Blige Working With Disclosure, Sam Smith, Naughty Boy On 'The London Sessions'

I've never bought a Mary J. Blige album, though I've picked up a few of her singles here and there. But if ever there was a time to grab one of her full LPs, it seems like the upcoming one, The London Sessions, would be it.

Blige spent a month in London making the record, having been inspired by the sounds of Disclosure (she already appeared on a reworked version of their single "F For You") and Sam Smith (ditto with "Stay With Me"). Now she's gone into the RAK studio with what seems like a Who's Who of the British pop-house scene at the moment.



Below are excerpts from a pretty decent Guardian feature that was published yesterday:
With her vocal duties done, Blige comes into the mixing room to listen to the playbacks, sinking into a sofa next to the project's American executive producer, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, a don of the production world who has worked most notably with Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Aside from the song, the two also appear keen to talk about food, and in particular fish and chips, the consumption of which Blige feels is central to what she calls "the London-scene experience". [Jimmy] Napes meanwhile is in the RAK kitchen, which has hosted the tea breaks of everything from Radiohead's The Bends to Kim Wilde's Kids in America. I ask him how he came to be part of the album.

"It has been a little bit surreal to be honest," he says, 'I grew up listening to Mary J Blige, and then there she is with the Disclosure boys in Kentish Town, where my studio is, next to a car park. She had loved Stay With Me, which I wrote with Sam Smith for his album, and that's how I got the opportunity to work on this project. We were writing for a week or so – we've got some wicked songs. It does take time to get the confidence to say to her, 'I think you can sing that better' – but it's crucial. She is counting on me to call her on stuff, because she wants to make the best record she can."

*****
It is certainly not an out-and-out house record. Pick Me Up, produced by Watford's own Naughty Boy and co-written with Emeli Sandé, mixes sub-bass with clarinet and a percussion sound that recalls early 00s UK garage. Therapy, written by Napes and Sam Smith, has a doo-wop feel, while the Disclosure number is house plus additional squelches. Disparate as the writers and producers may be, Jerkins agrees that these all sound unquestionably like Mary J Blige tracks: 'She knows how to cement her voice to the lyric. She knows how to make you know what she's been through." The feeling that she conveys of a life lived though all its triumphs and defeats is certainly at the heart of Blige's sound.

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