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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mariah Carey's New Single "Infinity", AKA Her Latest "We Belong Together" Remake: Listen

I get it: When your career starts sliding off the rails and crashing into a ditch, it's best to return to doing what you do best. And I really want Mariah to win when all is said and done in this super floptastic phase she's been going through for the past six years.

Alas, I don't know if "Infinity" is going to be the song that returns her to former glory, despite the fact that it's being tacked onto her upcoming #1 To Infinity collection (out May 18) of all her chart-topping hits. (Pulling a lofty stunt like that is always a gamble.)

Basically, the pacing of "Infinity" is set to High Snooze, it sounds easily like it could have been a leftover from last year's disastrous Me. I Am Mariah album and the whole thing has way too many not-nearly-as-good echoes of Carey's 2005 comeback smash "We Belong Together."

I guess the upside is that Mimi's got a new team behind her, a new label deal and this is essentially nothing more than an extra track on a collection of already-released material.

Lyrically, some of her tell-offs (aimed at Nick Cannon?) are comical here. But musically, we've heard this one before from Mariah. Roll on the true Mimi 3.0, with a whole new sound, dahling.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Clean Bandit Add To Their Hit Collection, Alex Newell Finally Breaks Out

Nearly a year after Clean Bandit's "Extraordinary" featuring Sharna Bass on vocals followed up the Jess Glynne-fronted smash "Rather Be in the UK, the band's Sean Bass-featuring "Stronger" follows up the Jess Glynne-fronted "Real Love," and becomes the Grammy-winning act's fourth Top 5 hit in their home country.

"Stronger," which goes into the UK chart at #4 this week, also features wailing by Alex Newell, who you may know from his transgendered character "Unique" on Glee. That one has been whoring his vocals out left and right — he also features on Blonde's new single "All Cried Out"...

...and he recently collaborated with Russian DJ Matvey Emerson on a cover of Robin S' '90s staple "Show Me Love."

Get it, kiddo.

The UK Top 10:

1. "See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth *2 weeks*
2. "Cheerleader" - OMI
3. "Hold My Hand" - Jess Glynne
4. "Stronger" - Clean Bandit *new*
5. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
6. "Lean On" - Major Lazer feat. MO & DJ Snake
7. "King" - Years & Years
8. "Firestone" - Kygo feat. Conrad Sewell
9. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
10. "Can't Stop Playing" - Dr. Kucho, Gregor Salto & Ane Brun

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Adam Lambert's 'The Original High' Album & "Ghost Town" Single: A Few Thoughts

Adam Lambert's previous two post-American Idol albums had some good moments — "Whataya Want From Me" is an undeniable classic, for instance — but as a whole, neither really came across like a set of cohesive tunes. ("Whataya Want From Me" wasn't even originally written for him.) You know how it goes, though — you're on Idol, you get slapped into some label deal and you work with 50 difference producers and 200 writers on 175 tracks that get whittled down by a bunch of cooks in the kitchen to a 10-track LP.

So the fact that Adam now has a new label deal (he moved from RCA to Warner Bros.) and his upcoming album The Original High (out June 16) will be executive-produced by Max Martin and Shellback seems pretty promising. In fact, in the wasteland that is pop in 2015 so far, The Original High is the one (and only, I guess) upcoming record I'm really looking forward to.

Having an exec producer like Max is what Adam has needed all along — someone with the reputation and gravitas to believe in him, the clout to tell the label execs to fuck off until the product is finished and to steer the ship in the right direction.

Anyway, this week we got the lead single from the project, "Ghost Town." It's a weird blend of Quentin Tarantino soundtrack-esque guitar-pop and '90s house music, and the lyrics are a dark warning about the emptiness of Hollywood. (You can grab it off iTunes now, by the way.)

So, yeah — "weird"...that's exactly what's been missing from Adam Lambert's music until now. If you look at him while he's commanding a stage, listen to him in interviews and stare in a sparkly trance at his overall glamness, you know there's something deeper there than what's come through in the plastic pop tracks on his previous two albums.

Here's hoping The Original High is full of more musical curve balls, and even stranger than "Ghost Town."


Thursday, April 23, 2015

US Chart Roundup: "I Really Like You" Is Officially Carly Rae Jepsen's Third Top 40 Single

Thanks to what is quite possibly the most annoying viral video ever, Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" has finally clawed its way into the Top 40. This week the song is up 44 positions to #39, following the premiere of a YouTube lipdub featuring basically the entire roster of artists managed by Scooter Braun — plus Lance Bass and Kendall Jenner — mouthing the words to "I Really Like You."

You may recall this shameless similar tactic is what got Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" noticed here in the States three years ago, only then it was Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and friends in the video.

Alas, the lineup may have rotated a bit (out with Selena; in with Kendall and Ariana Grande!), but the Bieber remains the same...just more lame.


The U.S. Top 10:

1. "See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth *2 weeks*
2. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
3. "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)" - The Weeknd
4. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
5. "Trap Queen" - Fetty Wap
6. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
7. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
8. "Shut Up And Dance" - Walk The Moon 
9. "G.D.F.R." - Flo Rida feat. Sage The Gemini & Lookas
10. "Somebody" - Natalie La Rose feat. Jeremih

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Shayne Ward's Fan-Funded Return & 'Furious 7's High Octane Reign

First thing's first: Let's pause for a moment and pour one out for The Voice UK winner Steve McCrorie, whose cover of Adam Levine's Begin Again soundtrack song "Lost Stars" debuted at #6 one week ago, and, seven days later, has dropped to #68. I never understand why these TV singing competition hopefuls don't just take the easy way out and resort to porn?

That brings us to 2005 X Factor winner Shayne Ward, who this week makes a bit of history as his fan-funded fourth album Closer debuts on the UK album chart at #17 — the highest chart position for a record done through the PledgeMusic platform. Not bad for an album devoid of any major label backing, and all in all, it winds up being Shayne's fourth Top 20 album. Unless I'm missing something, this also marks the first album Mike Stock had a hand in producing to reach the Top 20 since Robson & Jerome's Take Two hit #1 in 1996.

Oh, well, and would you look at that...

Last but not least, we should note the significance of the Furious 7 juggernaut. Over the weekend, the film reached $1.1 billion at the global box office after only two full weeks of release. Likewise, the soundtrack topped the US album chart this week, while lead single "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth achieved the same feat on the Billboard Hot 100. The song follows suit now in the UK, ending the three-week reign of Jess Glynne's second single as a lead artist, "Hold My Hand."

"See You Again" is now the fifth single to top the UK chart in 2015 (if we discount "Uptown Funk," which first reached #1 in 2014, fell off and then returned to the top in January).

The UK Top 10:

1. "See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth *1 week*
2. "Cheerleader" - OMI
3. "Hold My Hand" - Jess Glynne
4. "Can't Stop Playing" - Dr. Kucho, Gregor Salto & Ane Brun *new*
5. "King" - Years & Years
6. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
7. "Hold Back The River" - James Bay
8. "Bloodstream" - Ed Sheeran & Rudimental 
9. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
10. "Firestone" - Kygo feat. Conrad Sewell

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Wiz Khalifa's 'Furious 7' Hit Ends The Reign Of "Uptown Funk"

Awwww, poor "Uptown Funk"... it will have to remain relegated to runner-up for the longest stretch at #1 along with "I Gotta Feeling," "We Belong Together," "Macarena," "I Will Always Love You" and all the rest of it after having its reign atop the Billboard Hot 100 come to end after 14 weeks. That means Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's record 16-week run with "One Sweet Day" remains intact.

Wiz Khalifa is the one who manages to kick "Funk" to the curb, with his Charlie Puth-featuring Furious 7 soundtrack cut "See You Again." The movie itself is a smash, having raked in $803 million at the global box office ($255 million in the States alone) in just under two weeks. Wiz's "See You Again" video plays on viewers' emotions, as it's pretty heavy on the Paul Walker footage.

If you think that's the type of manipulative thing people don't want to see, then consider this: Yesterday afternoon when I checked the "See You Again" video on YouTube, it had 46 million views. (It's only been on the video-viewing site since April 6, by the way). This morning it's up to 52 million views.

Anyway, congrats, Wiz, on your second chart-topping single. Pittsburgh represent!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth *1 week*
2. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
3. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
4. "Trap Queen" - Fetty Wap
5. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
6. "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)" - The Weeknd
7. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
8. "G.D.F.R." - Flo Rida feat. Sage The Gemini & Lookas
9. "Shut Up And Dance" - Walk The Moon
10. "Style" - Taylor Swift

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Nick Jonas Can't Quite Get On Top Of Jess Glynne

The past week was the first time it seemed there was a real chart battle happening in the UK in quite some time, and in the end, Jess Glynne won out by sticking around at #1 for a third week with "Hold My Hand." If she holds out for one more week, she'll match the stretch at the top of the UK chart "Rather Be," her Grammy-winning pair-up with Clean Bandit, had last year. (It's all money in the bank for Clean Bandit's Jack Patterson, really, since he co-wrote and produced "Hold My Hand.")

And so Nick Jonas settles for debuting in the runner-up slot with "Jealous." It's all come full circle around these parts, actually, since "Rather Be" was #1 and "Jealous" was #2 on Chart Rigger's roundup of the Best Pop Singles Of 2014 back in December.

That leaves recent The Voice UK winner Steve McCrorie to enter at #6 with his cover of Adam Levine's Begin Again soundtrack song "Lost Stars." Is this the highest-charting single for a contestant from the UK version of that show? I have no idea. They're all flops here in the States, except for maybe that dim country THOT, RaeLynn.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Hold My Hand" - Jess Glynne *3 weeks*
2. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas *new*
3. "King" - Years & Years
4. "Hold Back The River" - James Bay
5. "Bloodstream" - Ed Sheeran & Rudimental
6. "Lost Stars" - Steve McCrorie *new*
7. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
8. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars  
9. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
10. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier

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Friday, April 10, 2015

I Interviewed Shayne Ward And Mike Stock, And You Can Read That Right Now

My lengthy, in-depth interview with handsome UK singer Shayne Ward and legendary pop producer Mike Stock is now up over at Idolator.

As you may know, Mike produced Shayne's fourth album Closer, which will be available on iTunes worldwide this Sunday (April 12) and on CD Monday. I talked with the two of them together last month, on March 12, right after they'd taken part in the album playback for fans in London.

What you get with this writeup is pretty much the full, unfiltered 31 minutes of our conversation — complete with lots of great insight to the making of Closer and the songs on the album, plus some great anecdotes from Mike on Kylie, Donna Summer and Stock Aitken Waterman.

Go get it here.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

US Chart Roundup: "Uptown Funk" Rules The World + Highly Inappropriate Whitney & Nick Jonas Talk

I could be super pressed about the fact that "Uptown Funk" is now tied with the following songs for the second-longest run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, at 14 weeks...

* "I Gotta Feeling" - Black Eyed Peas (2009)
* "We Belong Together" - Mariah Carey (2005)
* "Candle In The Wind '97" - Elton John (1997)
* "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" - Los Del Rio (1996)
* "I'll Make Love To You" - Boyz II Men (1994)
* "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston (1992)

...as well as the fact that, if it sticks around for just two more weeks at #1, "Uptown Funk" will be tied with Mariah and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" for the longest stint at the top of the chart ever. But you know what — with the exception of "We Belong Together," all those other singles can kiss my ass. [Cue up Whitney's dead wig rolling over and thumping against the coffin lid.]

In fact, screw all of the above...I'm most excited about Nick Jonas' "Chains" sliding up to #13. There's a jam that should be #1 for 29 weeks. I'm telling you, once he quits fucking around with all the teasing and whips his baby stick out, it's all over. It's time to stop with the kid's play, Nick, and get serious about your career...drop the sex tape already, even if it's just you in a Whitney Houston wig, naked with nothing but a jar of Skippy in one hand and an electric toothbrush in the other.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *14 weeks*
2. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
3. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
4. "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)" - The Weeknd
5. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
6. "Trap Queen" - Fetty Wap
7. "Style" - Taylor Swift
8. "G.D.F.R." - Flo Rida feat. Sage The Gemini & Lookas
9. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
10. "See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth

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Madonna's "Ghosttown" Video Continues The Flawlessness Of Her 'Rebel Heart' Era

Have I mentioned yet that I'm totally on board with Madonna's Rebel Heart era? Because I am. I even bought this trash on vinyl! Also, one week ago I wrote up a thinkpiece-ish type thing on Idolator asking "Why Isn't This Album A Hit?", which has racked up nearly 500 comments.

So anyway, yeah — I'm totally down with Madge in her floppiest era ever, because the music is her best in 10 years (since Confessions) — or, I might argue, 17 years (since Ray Of Light).

This, then brings us to Rebel Heart's second single, "Ghosttown," the music video for which has now premiered (with no thanks going to the Meerkat app). Madonna pulls out all the usual stops for this one: a photo of her mother; a crucifix; some pretty impressive dancing; an ethnically diverse cast; and the old standby of automatic weaponry. And, you know what — it all works, and fits the song perfectly.

You can watch the visual above and see for yourself, but I'd say this is Madonna's best music video since maybe "Jump" in 2006 or even "Hung Up" in 2005.