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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Band Aid 30's "Do They Know It's Christmas" Video: Watch...It's Not As Bad As Band Aid 20

So here we have the 30th anniversary of "Do They Know It's Christmas," by Band Aid 30, naturally. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure altered the lyrics from the original version of the charity tune to switch the focus from the African drought of the 1980s to the current ebola crisis. The single goes on sale at midnight tonight.

If you ask me, it's miles ahead of the 2004 Band Aid 20 version, which featured Daniel Bedingfield, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Sugababes, etc. — a song, mind you, that inspired me to create Chart Rigger due to the overall awfulness of music in general at the time. (Jesus Christ — that version of the song was released 10 years ago, and Chart Rigger itself turns 10 in January.)

If I had to rank the four versions of this holiday chestnut, it'd go like this:

1. The 1984 original
2. The 2014 Band Aid 30 version
3. The 1989 Band Aid II version
4. The 2004 Band Aid 20 version

Anyway, here's the video, which premiered on The X Factor UK tonight:

And here are the lyrics, with who is singing what noted:

It’s Christmas time, and there’s no need to be afraid (One Direction)
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade (Ed Sheeran)
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy (Rita Ora)
Throw your arms around the world, at Christmas time (Sam Smith)
But say a prayer; Pray for the other ones (Paloma Faith)
At Christmas time it’s hard, but when you’re having fun (Emeli Sande)
There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear (Guy Garvey from Elbow)
Where a kiss of love can kill you (Dan Smith from Bastille)
And there’s death in every tear (Angélique Kidjo)
And the Christmas bells that ring there, are the clanging chimes of doom (Chris Martin from Coldplay)
Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you (Bono from U2)
No peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa (Seal)
A song of hope, when there’s no hope tonight (Ellie Goulding)
Why is to comfort to be feared, why is to touch to be scared (Sinead O’Connor)
How can they know it’s Christmas time at all? (Bono from U2)
Here’s to you (All)
Raise a glass for everyone (Olly Murs)
And Here’s to them (All)
And all their years to come (Sam Smith)
Can they know it’s Christmas time at all? (Rita Ora)
Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again (All)
Feel the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again (All)
Heal the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again (All)

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UK Chart Roundup: The Veronicas Return To The Top 10 After A Seven Year Absence

Geez, you take two months off from writing about the UK singles chart, because it's become as utterly depressing as the US one, and, well, not much has changed.

I guess it's nice to see The Veronicas popping in at #8 this week with "You Ruin Me," the Aussie duo's first UK single to chart since 2007, when "Untouched" reached the same position. Just behind those broads is Sam Smith with his umpteenth (fifth) Top 10 single "Like I Can," which debuts at #9.

Actually, "Like I Can" is my favorite cut off Sam's album In The Lonely Hour, next to the Target-only bonus track "Reminds Me Of You."

Everything else? Sheer pussy.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Wake Me Up" - Gareth Malone's All Star Choir *new* *1 week*
2. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
3. "Steal My Girl" - One Direction *new*
4. "I Don't Care" - Cheryl
5. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
6. "Outside" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding
7. "Real Love" - Tom Odell
8. "You Ruin Me" - Veronicas *new* 
9. "Like I Can" - Sam Smith *new*
10. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith

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Friday, November 14, 2014

It's A*Base's "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry": Listen

Initial news of A*Base's impending arrival came last weekend, and today the teenage Ace Of Base tribute act from Stockholm released their first single, a cover of "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry." This rather faithful interpretation has already shot up to #6 on Swedish iTunes (bonus: there's an extended mix available, as well), foreshadowing a promising start for the new quartet. It's available worldwide, FYI.

Ultimately, I think it's going to be interesting to see which songs are chosen for the full album (titled, per a press release, Happy Generation).

For now, though, this is an impossibly catchy jam that underscores the fact that, while A*Base might not be the most necessary act out there, resistance is futile.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Nick Jonas...Better Bust Out The Sex Tape, Kid

With Ariana Grande and The Weeknd's "Love Me Harder" now at #7 of the Billboard Hot 100, this gives Max Martin three songs in the Top 10 at the same time — the other two you being "Shake It Off" (#1...ugh) and "Bang Bang" (#5...UGH). Likewise, Max's "Shake It Off" studio partner Shellback has two Top 10 singles, as he also produced Maroon 5's "Animals" (#3).


Outside of the Top 10, Sam Smith continues to dominate your entire existence, with "I'm Not The Only One" moving up to #11. He needs to just skip this part and get on with "Like I Can" already.

At #22 for a second week is Mr. Probz with "Waves, while my third current boyfriend Nick Jonas jumps up to #23 with "Jealous." What's taking so long with that one? Hasn't he taken off enough clothes to get that shit in the Top 10 yet?

Better bust out the sex tape, kid.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift *4 weeks*
2. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
3. "Animals" - Maroon 5
4. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo
5. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
6. "Hot Boy" - Bobby Shmurda
7. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd
8. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
9. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
10. "Don't Tell 'Em" - Jeremih feat. YG

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

XO's "Pulling Me Under" Is Good House You Should Know: Listen

I know, I know — this house stuff coming out of the UK is a dime a dozen at this point. But young producer XO (aka Sunil Heera) out of Staffordshire has quite a gem on his hands with "Pulling Me Under," a cut off his upcoming EP.

Annie Mac premiered it on her BBC radio show over the weekend, and it's quite a subtle little knockout.


Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk"

Mark Ronson was behind Bruno Mars' mega hit "Locked Out Of Heaven" and lesser hit "Gorilla," so it makes sense that the boys would come together for at least one track off Ronson's upcoming album. And so now we have "Uptown Funk," a slice of Prince-channeling-James-Brown soul that's not exactly "Locked Out Of Heaven," but still pretty decent.

The two will perform the song on Saturday Night Live in two weeks, and I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into an inescapable, "Happy"-sized smash.

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Just As A*Teens Were To ABBA, There Is Now A*Base, A Teenage Version Of Ace Of Base

Yesterday I received a press release for something that is literally going to reshape all of our lives: A*Base, a teenage Ace Of Base tribute act from Sweden, is a something that is actually happening.

"The project that has been surrounded by hard work and secrecy for over two years is now ready to be revealed," sayeth the press info. "A*Base is a pop music group from Stockholm, Sweden, formed by Ari Letennen & Martin Orrenbrink in 2012 as an ACE OF BASE tribute band. They are composed of four teens from Stockholm,  beginning their work on the debut album Happy Generation in 2012, two years later the group signed with Ninetone..."

First of all, let me state how both utterly depressing and completely fascinating this whole thing is. I say depressing because this makes me feel old as fuck. (But bottom line on that: I'm still thin, so whatever.) I say fascinating because I was an absolute A*Teens stan circa 2000 through 2003, so this feels a bit like deja vu...except, wait — that also makes me feel old. Fuck.

Anyway, A*Base will arrive this coming week (on November 14) with their cover of Ace Of Base's "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry." Interesting choice, going with the third single off AOB's 1995 The Bridge album, considering it bubbled under (read: flopped) at #106 here in the States in summer '96, and even in Sweden only got to #24 on the pop chart. But why go for the obvious hits right off the bat?

For those dying to know, the members of this new Swede-pop package are Matilda Lundberg (age 15), Malin Enstedt (15), Alexander Beyer (16) and Emil Henrohn (17)... I will point out that only one of these children was actually alive — but barely — when Ace Of Base were still having hits.

So young and proud.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne's "Real Love" Video Features A Lot Of Kissing In L.A.

Clean Bandit probably figured they'll never top the success of worldwide Top 10 smash "Rather Be" with anything else off their debut album New Eyes, and so "Real Love," a single off the upcoming repackaged edition of the LP, finds them reuniting with singer Jess Glynne.

The video was shot in Los Angeles recently. You've basically got three things going on here: Clean Bandit performing live; the band decked out in nice threads on a sound stage with Glynne; and people of different ages, ethnicity and sexualities kissing all around L.A.

"Real Love" is available now on US iTunes. The UK will have to wait until November.

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It's Kiesza's "No Enemiesz" Video

Kiesza has been performing "No Enemiesz" live since the spring, and on the stage, it had a much more "Vogue"-sounding intro. The recorded version was finally made available to purchase last week, along with the rest of the flame-haired diva's full Sound Of A Woman album, and it's got a lot more sounds going on than just the reference to Madge's 1990 hit.

A few notes: "No Enemiesz" will be Kiesza's third UK single, following  "Hideaway" and "Giant In My Heart." Also, the video features the singer taking off various pieces of clothing, which each turn into a different dancer she works out some impressive moves with. Then she finally strips off and takes a shower.

Yay, nudity!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

US Chart Roundup: "L.A. Love (La La)" Is No Madonna "Secret"

It's a pretty sad week when the only exciting things happening on the Billboard Hot 100 are Ed Sheeran landing his first Top 10 single (with "Don't" at #10) and Fergie somehow climbing to the soaring heights of #81 with her shit comeback single "L.A. Love (La La)".

Quite frankly, it makes you yearn for the same chart 20 years ago this week, when the #1 song was this:

And the #4 song was this:

And the #7 song was this:

Oh, well — yay Meghan Trainor!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor *7 weeks*
2. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
3. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
4. "Black Widow" - Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
5. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo
6. "Don't Tell 'Em" - Jeremih feat. YG
7. "Animals" - Maroon 5
8. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith
9. "Hot Boy" - Bobby Shmurda
10. "Don't" - Ed Sheeran

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