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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

If JLS Are Coming To America, Let's Hope They Don't Butch Up

This week came the news that JLS are "thrashing out a deal" to make it stateside, since apparently Epic and Jive are in a bidding war to snag the U.S. rights to their debut album. If that's true, let's hope these gals don't axe their pop-sounding tracks and water it all down with more bottom-barrel J.R. Rotem garbage like "Everybody In Love" to please the Yanks.

At any rate, JLS are up for Best British Single and Best British Group at the BRIT Awards, so maybe a win would help seal the deal for an American release. Their third single "One Shot" also jumps up from #10 to #6 this week on the UK singles chart.

Wonder what single they'd go with as their first release over here? Akon and Kardinall Offishall would probably stab them if it was "Beat Again." Sadly, I can see it being "Everybody In Love" or "One Shot," just because those sound the most like the type of middling R&B American radio would shoot its wad over.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Fireflies" - Owl City *2 weeks*
2. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Glee Cast
3. "Replay" - Iyaz
4. "Starstrukk" - 3OH!3 feat. Katy Perry
5. "Riverside (Let's Go!)" - Sidney Samson
6. "One Shot" - JLS
7. "Empire State Of Mind (Part II)'" - Alicia Keys
8. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey
9. "Won't Go Quietly" - Example
10. "Young Forever" - Jay-Z feat. Mr Hudson

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pete Waterman Is Doing Eurovision, But Here's How He Did My iPod

Yesterday it was announced that Pete Waterman will write and produce this year's U.K. entry for the Eurovision Song Contest (by himself?). This of course prompted me to play The Sheilas —and then start hammering nails into my eardrum.

But seriously, this is the greatest thing to happen to Eurovision since Scooch's epic fail in 2007! I zipped through to see what the ten most-played songs on the iPod D'luv are that Pete Waterman had a hand in—even if he was just eating a donut and watching porn three doors down the hallway while the song was being recorded by Mike Stock.

Here's how it shook out:

1. "Take Me To Your Heart" - Rick Astley (39 plays)
2. "Say I'm Your Number One" - Princess (37)
3. "Someone Like You" - Pop! (31)
4. "Together Forever" - Rick Astley (31)
5. "Back To You" - Steps (29)
6. "Never Gonna Give You Up" - Rick Astley (26)
7. "Heartbeat" - Steps (23)
8. "You Think You're A Man" - Divine (22)
9. "Serious" - Pop! (22)
10. "One For Sorrow" - Steps (22)

And if you can't replicate the pop genius of those chestnuts, Pete, at least aim for something as classy as this jam:

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Could It Be Tragic: I Really Hope Robbie Williams Isn't Back In Take That

The Sun has been publishing a series of articles stating that Take That have been here in Los Angeles (why do I never know about these things!?) working on new material, supposedly with Robbie Williams.
"Robbie, 35, spent more than five hours in a Los Angeles studio on Tuesday working on songs with his ex-bandmates. It came 15 years after he quit the hit group in bitter circumstances."
Give me a break. It's more likely they were just laying down their vocals for Simon Cowell's "Everybody Hurts" Haiti charity single (which will actually be the first time all five original TT members have appeared on a song together in 15 years). Or maybe they just threw Mark on a table and took turns banging him sideways—just like the old days!

Anyway, do people really want Robbie back in Take That? Does Robbie's ego want Robbie back in Take That?

I'd slap cash on the table and say it isn't gonna happen.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part Four: 2008

Chart Rigger's five-year anniversary week is winding down and will conclude tomorrow. Hope you've been enjoying the trip down memory lane! Today's focus in the pop music timeline is the year 2008. As with the other years featured this week, all the facts are pulled from actual posts that appeared on the blog over the past half a decade.

* JANUARY 2008: Actor Heath Ledger dies at age 28 in New York City. New Kids On The Block announce they're reuniting after 14 years. Former American Idol winners Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks are dropped from their labels, as is Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee. The Virgin Megastore on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles closes after 15 years. Ace Of Base (minus Linn Berggren) announce that they're working on new songs. Natalie Imbruglia and husband Daniel Johns of Silverchair split.

* FEBRUARY 2008: The Spice Girls reunion tour is cut short when Victoria Beckham pulls out. Australia and China are jilted. Heidi Montag of MTV's The Hills stuns the masses—for all the wrong reasons—with her debut music video "Higher." Take That win BRIT Awards for Best Live Act and Best Single ("Shine"). Duffy tops the U.K. chart with "Mercy." Chart Rigger begins the nostalgic "Throwback" series.

* MARCH 2008: Madonna unveils the cover 11th studio album Hard Candy. It's not pretty. Leona Lewis makes her U.S. debut on The Oprah Winfrey Show and tops the Billboard Hot 100 with "Bleeding Love," making her the first U.K. female artist to do so in 21 years. Danish pop act Alphabeat land their single "Fascination" at #6 on the U.K. chart.

* APRIL 2008: Mariah Carey and Madonna duke it out on the Hot 100 after releasing new singles in the same week. The result: Mariah hits #1 with "Touch My Body," while Madonna lands at #3 with "4 Minutes." Carey moves past Elvis Presley and is now second only to The Beatles with the most American chart-toppers; the Fab Four had 20, while Mimi has 18.

* MAY 2008: David Cook wins American Idol. Mariah Carey confirms that she secretly married Nick Cannon on the Bahamian island of Windermere. Boy band mogul Louis Pearlman is sentenced to 25 years in the clink for money laundering and tricking me into buying shit albums that only had two good songs apiece on them in the late '90s. Rihanna tops the U.S. chart with "Take A Bow."

* JUNE 2008: Hillary Clinton concedes the Democratic Primary race to Barack Obama. Coldplay top both the U.S. and U.K. singles charts with "Viva La Vida." A week later the song is bumped off the Billboard Hot 100 by Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl." After nearly six-and-a-half years, I quit my job at Instinct magazine.

* JULY 2008: Christopher Ciccone releases boring tell-all Life With My Sister Madonna.

* AUGUST 2008: Both Madonna and Michael Jackson turn 50. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi is announced as the new fourth judge being added to American Idol. Rihanna hits the top of the U.S. chart for a fourth time with "Disturbia." Pink releases "So What" and U.K. girl group The Saturdays release debut single "If This Is Love."

* SEPTEMBER 2008: Clay Aiken shocks no one by coming out in a People cover story. Britney Spears wins three MTV VMAs. Christina Aguilera cops Lady Gaga's look and Goldfrapp's sound for new single "Keeps Gettin' Better." The Killers release "Human." Pink tops the U.S. chart with "So What" while Kings Of Leon top the U.K. chart with "Sex On Fire."

* OCTOBER 2008: Britney Spears' "Womanizer" becomes her first single to top the U.S. chart since "Baby...One More Time" in 1999. High School Musical 3 is released in theaters. Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew are murdered. Irish boy band Boyzone release "I Love You Anyway," their first single in nine years. Girls Aloud top the U.K. chart with "The Promise."

* NOVEMBER 2008: Senator Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States. Indie vampire movie Twilight takes a bite out of pop culture. MTV pulls the plug on Total Request Live after 10 years. Guns N' Roses release Chinese Democracy, an album that took 13 years and $13 million to record. It tanks. Christina Aguilera tells the Los Angeles Times she doesn't know if Lady Gaga is a man or a woman. Meanwhile, Lady Gaga's debut single "Just Dance" cracks the U.S. Top 10. Rick Astley rickrolls the entire Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade by appearing on a float. Take That debut at #1 on the U.K. chart with new single "Greatest Day."

* DECEMBER 2008: Britney Spears releases her sixth album Circus. Madonna reaches a divorce settlement with husband of ten years Guy Ritchie. Beyonce tops the U.S. chart with "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." Alexandra Burke wins The X Factor. Chart Rigger selects Pussycat Dolls' "When I Grow Up" as the Worst Single Of 2008, and Chris Brown's "Forever" as the Best Pop Single Of 2008.

* The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part One: 2005
* The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part Two: 2006
* The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part Three: 2007

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Mariah Carey Needs To Do Every Video With Nicki Minaj From This Point Forward

Mariah Carey's music career may be woefully off track, but this camp-as-fuck new video for "Up Out My Face" featuring Nicki Minaj makes up for at least four of Mimi's shitty singles over the past two years. (Not including "Touch My Body" or "Obsessed"—those were jams.)

Not sure who the two drag queens are playing Mimi and Nicki in this overblown Target commercial, but they have the mannerisms down pat.

Mariah's remix album Angel's Advocate (release date: sometime between now and 2017) didn't seem worth the effort until the above video popped up today. This is almost as good as her last video for her hit "Mimi's Three Sheets To The Wind And Mumbling Some Bullshit At The Palm Springs International Film Festival." Now that was a jam.

* Nicki Minaj Samples Annie Lennox's "No More 'I Love You's'"

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Justin Bieber's Hair Makes Me Want To Go Into The Woods And Start Shooting Things

So the week Owl City tops the U.K. chart with "Fireflies" is the same one the chipper synth jam finally drops out of the Top 10 in the U.S. "Fireflies," which hit #1 here three months ago, and Ludacris' "Low" say adios and make room for two singles that debut in the upper tenth of the Billboard Hot 100 this week—Taylor Swift's Valentine's Day soundtrack song "Today Was a Fairytale," and Justin Bieber's "Baby."

Don't you just wanna take that Bieber kid's hair and Swiffer your kitchen floor with it?

The Hope For Haiti Now compilation sold 171,000 copies on iTunes between Saturday and Sunday alone, and thus tops the Billboard Top 200 Albums this week. This marks the first time a digital-only album has reached #1. And from it comes Justin Timberlake, Matt Morris and Charlie Sexton's cover of "Hallelujah," which debuts on the Hot 100 Singles at #48.

Fizzy Pop Paul has a full assessment of Matt Morris' album up today. And in case you're one of the four people in existence who've yet to see this...

Further up the chart, Timbaland and Timberlake's "Carry Out" climbs up from #32 to #14. Meanwhile, another duet, Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone," stays lodged at #20. They're both scheduled to shoot for the video the song today. Let's pray for scissoring.

On a final note, Adam Lambert finally scores a Top 40 single as "Whataya Want From Me" jumps 18 positions to #37. Meanwhile, his American Idol pal Kris Allen drops one spot to #26 with "Live Like We're Dying," one of Chart Rigger's Worst Singles Of 2009. Again, a prayer for scissoring, children.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "TiK ToK" - Ke$ha *6 weeks*
2. "Today Was A Fairytale" - Taylor Swift *new*
3. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
4. "Bedrock" - Young Money feat. Lloyd
5. "Baby" - Justin Bieber feat. Ludacris *new*
6. "Replay" - Iyaz
7. "Sexy Chick" - David Guetta feat. Akon
8. "Empire State Of Mind" - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
9. "Hard" - Rihanna feat. Jeezy
10. "Hey, Soul Sister" - Train

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Off Topic: Goodbye, 'Ugly Betty'

Admittedly, I only first delved into Ugly Betty this past spring when I got a freelance gig interviewing Vanessa Williams. I'd never seen a single episode of the show, but did a bit of brushing up by watching some of the first season before the one-on-one.

Needless to say, I got sucked into the series. Betty's bumbling, Mark's bitchiness, Daniel's man-whoring and Wilhelmina's conniving were just too good to abandon after only a few viewings. And then there's Amanda...

Anyway, imagine my delight when I landed a three-month freelance job in June writing episode recaps for the ABC network's website. Between that and Netflix, I flew through nearly three seasons of Betty by September.

I'm ashamed to say that I didn't catch any of Season 4 once it began airing this past fall. But it wasn't because I lost interest—I was still busy getting through Season 3 on DVD.

So today comes the news that the show has been canceled, and that its final episodes will air in April. You don't need a degree in rocket science to pinpoint that the move to Friday nights in September torpedoed the ratings. By the time ABC switched it over to Wednesdays earlier this month, it was sadly too little, too late.

Heavy sigh. I'm happy that I have a full unwatched season ahead of me. (These characters really do feel like old friends after 60+ episodes.) But I'm utterly gutted that, sadly, it's hasta la vista for Betty Suarez.

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Check Out My David Guetta Interview

Yesterday I interviewed DJ/producer David Guetta just before he hopped on a plane in France to headed over to L.A. for the Grammys. (He's up for five awards.) Oh, to be a sought-after international jetsetter.

Read my interview with "When Love Takes Over" and "I Gotta Feeling" producer David Guetta at Idolator, and catch him talking about his work on the upcoming Kelly Rowland, Madonna and Kelis albums.

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The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part Three: 2007

It's day three of Chart Rigger's look back at pop history over the past half decade, to commemorate the blog's five-year anniversary. Today's timeline focuses on the year 2007.

* JANUARY 2007: Mika hits the scene, tops the U.K. chart with "Grace Kelly." Former Steps member Ian "H" Watkins comes out just before his stint on Celebrity Big Brother begins.

* FEBRUARY 2007: Britney Spears, now separated from Kevin Federline, shaves her head at a Tarzana, California hair salon. Days later she enters rehab. After ten weeks at #1, Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" is replaced (ha!) by Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right." 'The Dixie Chicks win all five Grammy Awards they're nominated for. Take That wins the Best Single BRIT Award for "Patience." Kylie Minogue enlists fledgling 23-year-old bedroom DJ Calvin Harris to work on her new album after finding him on MySpace. Dannii Minogue goes on Simon Cowell's payroll by becoming a judge on Australia's Got Talent. Leona Lewis signs a U.S. record deal worth $9.7 million.

* MARCH 2007: Fergie tops the U.S. chart with "Glamorous." Take That top the U.K. chart with "Shine." MTV's Total Request Live is no longer taped live every day. Short-lived British pop quartet Scooch, who disbanded after their 2000 album Four Sure, reunite and win the vote to represent England in the Eurovision Song Contest.

* APRIL 2007: Alanis Morissette's cover of the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" becomes a viral video hit. Timbaland releases Shock Value, and OneRepublic and Keri Hilson are introduced to the masses. Reports surface that boy band mogul Louis Pearlman is wanted by the FBI for orchestrating a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme over the years. Avril Lavigne scores her first #1 single in the U.S. with "Girlfriend." Rihanna releases a little something called "Umbrella."

* MAY 2007: British Prime Minister Tony Blair announces his resignation. Dannii Minogue is hired as a judge on The X Factor. Kelly Clarkson publicly catfights with label boss Clive Davis over her latest album My December. Rihanna tops both the U.S. and U.K. charts with "Umbrella." Scooch place 24th (out of 25) at Eurovision, but land their song "Flying The Flag (For You)" at #5 in the U.K. chart. The Feeling pick up the "Songwriter Of The Year" honor at England's Ivor Novello Awards.

* JUNE 2007: All five original Spice Girls announce they're reuniting for a world tour later in the year. Troubled British soul singer Amy Winehouse cracks the U.S. Top 10 with "Rehab."

* JULY 2007: After seven weeks, Rihanna's "Umbrella" is bumped off the top of the Billboard Hot 100 by Plain White T's' "Hey There Delilah." A band called the Rubinoos sue Avril Lavigne for alleged similarities between her hit "Girlfriend" and their song "I Want To Be Your Boyfriend." The video for "If That's OK With You," the first single off Shayne Ward's sophomore album surfaces. Simon Cowell is reportedly unhappy with the track.

* AUGUST 2007: High School Musical 2 airs on the Disney Channel, and Zac Efron appears on the cover of Rolling Stone in a white T-shirt (that he's tearing off). Fergie lands her third #1 solo single in the U.S. with "Big Girls Don't Cry." Robyn and Kleerup's "With Every Heartbeat" tops the U.K. chart.

* SEPTEMBER 2007: World famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti dies at 71. Britney Spears lip syncs and stumbles through an embarrassingly disastrous performance of "Gimme More" at the MTV VMAs. 50 Cent and Kanye West enter into a much-hyped chart battle when their albums are released the same week. Kanye wins. Sugababes' "About You Now" goes to #1 in the U.K.

* OCTOBER 2007: Despite hardly any promotion (other than a godawful appearance at the VMAs), Britney Spears' "Gimme More" charts at #3 on the Hot 100. Madonna signs a $120 million deal with Live Nation. Leona Lewis releases "Bleeding Love" in the U.K. and it hits #1, keeping Take That held at #2 for an entire month with "Rule The World." Danish pop act Aqua announce they're reuniting seven years after the release of their last album.

* NOVEMBER 2007: The week Britney Spears' fifth album Blackout is released, Billboard revises its chart rules so that The Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden—which is only available at Walmart—is eligible for the Top 200 Albums. It ends up blocking Britney from hitting #1. The Spice Girls release "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)," their first new single in seven years. Kylie Minogue releases tenth studio album X around the globe (except in the States).

* DECEMBER 2007: The Spice Girls' reunion tour hits Los Angeles. I am wowed. Timbaland premieres new Madonna song "4 Minutes" at the Philadelphia Jingle Ball, months before the single is released. Kylie Minogue perfoms on The X Factor the night Leon Jackson wins. Chart Rigger names Soulja Boy Tell 'Em's "Crank That" as the Worst Single Of 2007, and Robyn and Kleerup's "With Every Heartbeat" as the Best Pop Single Of 2007.

* The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part One: 2005
* The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part Two: 2006

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shanye Ward In A Video With His Shirt On Asking People To Donate To Haiti

Here's U.K. hottie and 2005 X Factor winner Shayne Ward in a video (sadly, fully clothed—unlike when he posed for this photo) asking folks to donate money to Haiti relief efforts. Good for him.

And since that's out of the way, Shayne needs to get his third album out—or put the video camera in his shower. Hmmm. Which do we want more....?

P.S. Did we ever find out if the Heidi Range/Shayne Ward duet was just a rumor? So many questions, Shayne. (At least things seem to be going well for his upcoming music, according to his latest tweet: "Had a great meeting @syco, rounded off with Japanese food in wholefood place.")

P.S.S. You can give to Haiti relief by purchasing the Hope For Haiti Now album—like I did!—from iTunes.


The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part Two: 2006

Chart Rigger turned five last week. To commemorate the occasion, here now is Part Two of a year-by-year timeline of some of the more significant events in pop history over the past half decade—today being from the year 2006. (Read Part One: 2005.) All items mentioned are derived from actual blog posts on the site, tough, obviously, not everything will get a mention. But if there's an extremely glaring omission—and by all means, let me know in the comments if there is—well, I probably just didn't give a flying leap at the time.

Anyway, on to 2006:

* JANUARY 2006: High School Musical—starring virtually unknown actors Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale—airs on the Disney Channel. Arctic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not becomes the U.K.'s fastest-selling debut album by a band after moving 360,000 copies. Fledgling rapper Kevin Federline unveils the universally-reviled "PopoZao." Six years after splitting, Savage Garden's Best Of is released, and Darren Hayes tells a Malaysian newspaper he'd never work with former bandmate Daniel Jones again "unless it would cure cancer." Los Angeles publication Frontiers includes Chart Rigger—which has now been online for a full year—in its roundup of "11 Essential Gay Blogs."

* FEBRUARY 2006: British pop institution Smash Hits announces it will cease publication after 28 years. Climactic High School Musical song "Breaking Free" jumps from #86 to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Gorillaz and Madonna open the Grammys with a "Feel Good Inc./Hung Up" mashup. I post the very first YouTube video to appear on Chart Rigger—Divine's "I'm So Beautiful."

* MARCH 2006: Daniel Powter cements his one-hit wonder status by landing "Bad Day" atop the Hot 100. Pete Wentz's Sidekicked is hacked, and photos of his package (not too bad!) end up online. High School Musical spawns the first TV soundtrack to top the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart since Miami Vice. Director Lee Daniels casts Mariah Carey as a waitress in Tennessee, which later only plays on one screen before disappearing (though it's actually finally due out today on DVD!) Daniels will go on to cast Carey once more—in the award-winning 2009 film Precious.

* APRIL 2006: Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" becomes the first song to top the U.K. chart based on digital sales alone. American Idol contestant Mandisa, who Chart Rigger declares looks like six Christmas trees in one, disses the gays in The Advocate and is promptly voted off the show once the story breaks. Back on the other side of the pond, Gareth Gates, who in 2001 came in second to Will Young on the very first season of Pop Idol, is dropped by Sony. Meanwhile, the newly-reunited Take That (minus Robbie Williams) set out on their first U.K. tour in over a decade.

* MAY 2006: Britney Spears appears on Late Night With David Letterman and confirms that she's pregnant again. Taylor Hicks wins American Idol. Barbadian singer Rihanna tops the U.S. chart for the first time with "SOS." Brandon Flowers announces that the next Killers album will leave behind the Smiths and Pet Shop Boys influences for Bruce Springsteen. Meanwhile, Pet Shop Boys score their 21st U.K. Top 10 hit with "I'm With Stupid," and, yes, Gnarls Barkley are still #1 for a ninth and final week with "Crazy."

* JUNE 2006: Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" and Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" duke it out on the charts. Eventually both reach #1 on the Hot 100. Backstreet Boys issue a statement saying that Kevin Richardson has left the group. Paris Hilton lands a Top 20 single when "Stars Are Blind" enters the U.S. chart at #18. Reports surface that ownership of London's Astoria Theatre has changed hands, and that famous club night G-A-Y's days are numbered. More trouble: the BBC announces that after 42 years, Top Of The Pops is leaving the air. My cats Miss Pussy and Cracker make their first appearance on Chart Rigger.

* JULY 2006: It's a gay ol' month as Darren Hayes publicly comes out, announcing on his website that he married Richard Cullen the month prior in London. A week later, former *NSYNC member Lance Bass comes out in a People magazine cover story. On a less classy note, George Michael is busted (again) for public sex—or something (I've lost track). As for music, Lily Allen tops the U.K. chart with debut single "Smile," while the final episode of Top Of The Pops airs on July 29.

* AUGUST 2006: To commemorate MTV's 25th anniversary, Chart Rigger posts its first-ever "banterview" between D'luv and Moogaboo. Fergie tops the U.S. chart with "London Bridge." Christina Aguilera releases Back To Basics. Kelly Clarkson turns up at L.A.'s Metal Skool in capri pants (and with the lead singer of Yellowcard) and belts out Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" while completely hammered. The whole thing is inevitably uploaded to YouTube. The month ends on a sultry note, as Justin Timberlake earns his first #1 single as a solo artist with "SexyBack."

* SEPTEMBER 2006: Beyonce releases second solo album B'Day. Scissor Sisters top the U.K. chart with "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'." Chart Rigger does a Clay Aiken banterview and the Claymates strike back—to hilarious effect—in the comments.

* OCTOBER 2006: After a long slog up and down the chart, "When You Were Young" finally becomes the Killers' second Top 20 in the U.S. when it peaks at #14. The band signs my Sam's Town CD at the Virgin Megastore. Alas, at this point they've been replaced by my new obsession—U.K. band The Feeling (who I meet a week after the Killers at a Borders bookstore appearance in Hollywood). In the U.K., Robbie Williams' Rudebox album comes and flops.

* NOVEMBER 2006: Producer George Martin and his son Giles revamp the Beatles' back catalog for the Cirque du Soleil theatrical production Love. The first soundtrack to appear from Miley Cyrus-starring Disney Channel series Hannah Montana tops the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. "My Love" becomes Justin Timberlake's second #1 single in a row. U.K. girl group All Saints reunite and land a Top 10 hit in their home country with "Rock Steady." However, a much more significant British institution smashes expectations a few weeks later when Take That release "Patience," their first single in 10 years. It tops the U.K. chart and stays at #1 for four weeks.

* DECEMBER 2006: Take That's comeback album Beautiful World tops the British chart. Leona Lewis wins The X Factor. Back in the States, Beyonce's third B'Day single "Irreplaceable" hits #1, where it will stay for ten weeks. Gwen Stefani releases second solo album The Sweet Escape. Chart Rigger labels Fergie's "London Bridge" the Worst Single Of 2006, and Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Drew Seeley's High School Musical jam "Breaking Free" the Best Pop Single Of 2006.

* The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part One: 2005

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Monday, January 25, 2010

The Chart Rigger Timeline, Part One: 2005

Chart Rigger turned five last week. To celebrate the occasion, I've trawled through the trenches (i.e. every single post on here going back to the very beginning) and I'll be posting a year-by-year timeline of some of the more significant events in pop history each day this week—kicking off today with 2005. All items mentioned are derived from actual blog posts on the site, tough, obviously, not everything will get a mention. But if there's an extremely glaring omission—and by all means, let me know in the comments if there is—well, I probably just didn't give a flying leap at the time.

So, without further adieu:

* Winter 2005: Billboard begins factoring sales of paid digital downloads into its charts.

* January 22, 2005: Chart Rigger goes online.

* February 2005: 50 Cent tops the U.S. chart with "Candy Shop" and keeps far better singles like Green Day's "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" stuck at #2 over the next few weeks. British producer Pete Waterman tells PopJustice "nobody wants to be in the pop industry anymore." Incidentally, his latest act Pop! had just flopped...and been dropped.

* March 2005: Backstreet Boys return after a four-year break with new song "Incomplete." A global hit, it reaches #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becomes the group's last Top 40 American single to date.

* April 2005: Britney Spears confirms she's pregnant, y'all! Gwen Stefani tops the U.S. chart with cheerleader jam "Hollaback Girl."

* May 2005: Kylie Minogue is diagnosed with breast cancer. Carrie Underwood wins American Idol. Mariah Carey lands her first #1 single ("We Belong Together") in five years. Crazy Frog's "Axel F" tops the U.K. chart, keeping Coldplay's "Speed Of Sound" stuck at #2.

* June 2005: Destiny's Child officially break up. Michael Jackson is found not guilty of sexually abusing Gavin Arvizo. The Killers score their first (and only to date) Top 10 hit in the U.S. with "Mr. Brightside."

* July 2005: The Live 8 concerts, organized by Bob Geldof, are staged around the globe. Five days later, a series of suicide bomber terrorist attacks occur in the London Underground and on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square.

* August 2005: Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast, and ends up becoming the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Brandon Flowers marries Tana Mundkowsky. Mark Feehily of Irish boy band Westlife comes out, telling The Sun, "I am gay and I'm very proud of who I am." The FOX network enacts an "enhanced non-fraternization policy" after former American Idol contestant Corey Clark alleges he and judge Paula Abdul had an affair during Season 2 . Madonna is thrown from a horse and breaks her hand, ribs and collar bone.

* September 2005: Britney Spears gives birth to Sean Preston Federline.

* October 2005: Sugababes top the U.K. chart with "Push The Button." They are eventually knocked off by Arctic Monkeys' debut single "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor." Madonna's "Hung Up" is released, and marks the first second time ABBA have allowed a sample of one of their songs to be used.

[UPDATE: Regarding Joshua's comment on the 98 Degrees song and Anonymous pointing out that The Tamperer used an ABBA sample in "Hammer To My Heart," I addressed those in the comments. What I did forget is that this was the *second* time ABBA let a sample be used, the first being the Fugees' "Rumble In The Jungle" having a bit of "The Name Of The Game" in it.]

* November 2005: British production team Stock Aitken Waterman reform to promote their Gold box set, and I fly to London to see Jason Donovan, Sinitta and Sonia perform at G-A-Y. Madonna releases Confessions On A Dancefloor. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey separate. Chris Brown tops the U.S. chart at age 16 with debut single "Run It!"

* December 2005: While Sugababes are riding a wave of success with Taller In More Ways, Mutya Buena leaves the group and is replaced by Amelle Berrabah. Shayne Ward wins The X Factor. Mariah Carey tops the U.S. chart with "Don't Forget About Us" and ties with Elvis Presley for having a total of 17 #1 singles. Chart Rigger picks Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" as the Top Single Of 2005.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dumb Owl City Jokes, Because 'Fireflies' Is #1 In The U.K.

Okay, I got one for you: Owl City flies to #1 this week on the U.K. singles chart. Get it? Like an owl, and it has wings so it, like, flies?

Or wait, wait—Whoooooo? Whooooooo could be #1 this week, I wonder? Why, it's Owl City!

Or maybe... It's a bird! It's a plane! No, you were right the first time—it's a bird! An OWL to be exact, as in Owl City, at #1!! Or you could always do: Whoooooo?? built this city on rock and roll? Why, it was OWL CITY, who is #1 with "Fireflies!"

What about: Owl bet you can't guess who topped the chart this week. That's right, Owl City!

On a less hilarious note, Girls Can't Catch debut at #19 with "Echo." The vocals sound like alley cats moaning into a cell phone with a wet towel draped over it, so screw that trash.

But wait, I got more Owl City jokes...

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Fireflies" - Owl City *1 week*
2. "Replay" - Iyaz
3. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Glee Cast
4. "Starstrukk" - 3OH!3 feat. Katy Perry
5. "Riverside (Let's Go!)" - Sidney Samson
6. "Won't Go Quietly" - Example *new*
"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey
8. "Broken Heels" - Alexandra Burke
9. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
10. "One Shot" - JLS

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It's Official: Lady Gaga Has Become Madonna

One of those pics above (courtesy of GagaDaily) is Lady Gaga, taken yesterday in New York and one is Madonna—I can't tell which broad is which at this point anymore, though.

Gaga had better watch it. Next thing you know, she'll be BFFs with Sting and Trudie (Stingdie?) and wind up married to Guy Ritchie. Oh, wait...

On a far classier note, all ticket and merchandise sales from Lady Gaga's NYC concert tonight are being donated to Haiti earthquake relief. All merchandise purchased from her official website today will benefit Haiti, as well.

Here's Ye Olde Vampyre performing "Like A Prayer" at Friday's Hope For Haiti Now telethon:

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

PWL On iTunes: Erik's 'Real' Album

Erik's Real is the unreleased Holy Grail of the PWL back catalog—well, okay, one of them at least. Last night the fully remastered 1994 album was added to iTunes.

It's not the best thing to come out of the Stock Aitken Waterman stable (or even the Stock Waterman one, as Matt Aitken had departed a few years prior to the recording of Real). In fact, there are far too many snoozy ballads on there. But if you're a fan of early '90s house and Euro-pop, you could do a lot, lot worse. And Erik (real name: Erica Maggs—she's on MySpace) was at least one of the strongest vocalists to emerge from the Hit Factory.

Real was eventually shelved after four singles failed to reach the U.K. Top 40. Was it because Mike Stock finally left PWL around that same time? The label itself was certainly in financial trouble at that point.

WHAT TO DOWNLOAD: One of the singles, the withdrawn "The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea," is probably one of the finest PWL tracks ever recorded. Mike Stock was clearly firing on all cylinders one last time before hitting the road to start his short-lived Love This label.

"The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" at first sounds deceptively like a cookie cutter '90s-era R&B slow jam, but promptly launches into an exuberant slice of dance-pop about 30 seconds in:

Grab that now! (Side note: Back in fall 1995, I'd spend hours in my university's computer lab lost in online music forums. This law student guy from Florida sent me a few mix tapes of all PWL stuff, and "The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"—in both the single mix and the "Master Performance" extended mix—was on one of them. I used to take long strolls through my college town blasting that jam on my yellow walkman. Sigh.)


"Looks Like I'm In Love Again" (originally a single release billed as Key West featuring Erik, which charted at U.K. #46)

"Forever Now"

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The Two Standouts From 'Hope For Haiti Now'

Beyonce and Chris Martin gave the performance of the night during the Hope For Haiti Now telethon, in my opinion. Martin played piano while Bey belted out "Halo" and proved that she's at her best when she's subtle—and blonde:

And while I like the chorus of the Jay-Z, Bono, Rihanna jam "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)," the whole rap part is a bit :/

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Chart Rigger Turns Five!

Well, I racked my brain all week trying to think of a perfect commemorative post to type out for Chart Rigger's five-year anniversary (which is today, January 22)—and then I finally thought of one! Problem is, I thought of it at 10 p.m. on Thursday, and I'd have to stay up all night banging it out. I think Miss Pussy and Cracker (above) have the right idea for now. So look for that special something sometime next week.

Until then, maybe the "perfect" thing to say is THANKS. Thank you for visiting, reading and interacting with this small corner of the blogosphere over the last half decade.

I never imagined when the notion hit me while shopping for groceries one Friday night to start a pop music blog that Chart Rigger would last five weeks, let alone five years.

But thank god it has. Otherwise I'd probably actually have a life or something. And who wants to actually deal with one of those?

Thanks again for reading. Here's to 60 more months of good beats, pop hookers, stripper poles and overall chart-rigging.

My life would suck without you,



Thursday, January 21, 2010

This Song Is Rad: "Backseat" By Staygold Featuring Robyn And Spank Rock

Caught this on Stereogum today—it's Staygold performing new song "Backseat" earlier this week at Sweden's annual P3 Guld awards show, with some assistance from Spank Rock and Robyn.

Does pop get any better than that? The track appears on Staygold's upcoming album, but annoyingly Robyn isn't on the studio version.

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Dude, Seriously...The Spice Girls Musical

I mean, where do I even begin to describe the awesomeness that is the news of the forthcoming Spice Girls musical? Well, okay, I won't—because it's being done by Judy Craymer, who produced Mamma Mia!, which pretty much sucked. Yeah, I said it. SUCKED. (And, yes, I saw it on the stage.)

Here's some info from ABC on it:
"Producer Judy Craymer says her company will create and produce a new stage musical based on the songs of the girl-power group whose recordings have sold more than 75 million copies.

The show is tentatively titled, Viva Forever. No production timetable was announced Thursday. Craymer will produce Viva Forever with American Idol creator Simon Fuller..."
Well, alright, if they include "Holler" and "Tell Me Why," I'll probably go see it. But I'll be drunk.


Ke$ha And Sade Need To Take Their Shirts Off If They Want To Go Anywhere In This Business

It's a fifth week at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 for Ke$ha, who tells Entertainment Weekly this hot trash in a new interview:
"I’m sure you gathered this by now: I just do what I want. Have I made out with chicks? Hell yeah. Did I think it was awesome? Hell yeah. I wouldn’t call myself bi. Like, if I didn’t eat meat for a week, it doesn’t make me a vegetarian. So I like people, and that’s just it. I like people.”
Yeah, thanks for sharing, baby. Now get your boobs out.

Speaking of boobs, Rihanna—who is all about whipping her cans out to sell copies of Rated R these days—finally sees "Hard" make some headway. After entering the Top 10 at #9 last week, the dirge crawls up to #8, which officially means it's now charted one position better than the even more depresso "Russian Roulette."

Meanwhile, Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone" slinks up to #20, giving Gaga her sixth Top 20 hit and Beyonce her 4,930th.

Another bimbo who's gonna have to resort to nudity to sell her tracks is Adam Lambert. Despite the video for "Whataya Want From Me" premiering last week, the damn single only manages to scrape up to #55 in its fifth week on the chart. C'mon, girl—step onto the apple crate and start shakin'.

Sade debut at #58 with "Soldier Of Love." Or should it be "Sade debuts..." I never know with this broad if you should refer to her singularly or as a band. Life is hard.

Finally, The Script move up from #73 to #66 with "Breakeven." Quite frankly, it's taking these bastards too long to have a hit, and I'm losing interest in mentioning them ever week.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "TiK ToK" - Ke$ha *5 weeks*
2. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
3. "Empire State Of Mind" - Jay-Z feat. Alica Keys
4. "Bedrock" - Young Money feat. Lloyd
5. "Replay" - Iyaz
6. "Sexy Chick" - David Guetta feat. Akon
7. "Hey, Soul Sister" - Train
8. "Hard" - Rihanna feat. Jeezy
9. "Fireflies" - Owl City
10. "How Low" - Ludacris

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nine Great Quotes From The 'Take That / Take Two' Photo Book

A fellow blogger surprised me with the Take That / Take Two photo book for Christmas, and I just finished reading it this evening at the Starbucks on Melrose Avenue. What's great about it is that it picks up right where Gary Barlow's My Take autobiography leaves off.

In addition to hot pics of extremely boffable Howard Donald...

...there are some really great candid quotes from the quartet inside (including, surprisingly, how much they all hated the "Greatest Day" video):

* Gary Barlow on Jason Orange: "Jason can get a bit down on the whole thing. He can have those feelings of not deserving to be there."

* Gary on "Patience": "I was feeling good about it. But I had no idea what it would do for our careers. We'd all seen bands come back and I think the one thing it's impossible to underestimate is that first piece of original work that you release."

* Mark Owen on "Rule The World": "It's a song that we're so proud of. We'd sung some melodies into a mobile phone that made up the start of the song. We went to see [Stardust, the film it appears in], and almost within a day we'd delivered it to the director."

"Rule The World"

* Jason on the "Greatest Day" video: "The concept for 'Greatest Day' was a cross between The Matrix and U2 but none of us thought that much of the end result."

* Howard on the "Greatest Day" video: "...something about this video didn't work."

* Gary on the "Greatest Day" video: "We never wanted to turn into one of those bands where the videos just degenerate and the fact was 'Greatest Day' was shit."

* Gary on TT's 2009 BRITs performance: "I felt overweight and I hated the glasses... I know a lot of people liked it, and the other guys looked great, but did feel like a tit... Because we were on that UFO the technical people said we couldn't sing live. It was right in front of the speakers and they said the mics would have fed back. I felt like a bit of a fraud."

* Jason on "The Garden": The record company in Germany wanted us to release 'The Garden' as the second single from The Circus but we weren't keen on the idea. It tanked, so we were probably right."

* Mark on the "Said It All" video: "I always look at where we started off and how much we've moved on. I think it's funny that we're clowns in the video, because, most of the time, that's how we see ourselves."

Order Take That / Take Two here.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nicki Minaj Samples Annie Lennox's "No More 'I Love You's'" To Quite A Rad Effect

On paper this sounds like the worst idea in the world: hip hop's latest up-and-coming sewer-mouthed rap minx sampling Annie Lennox's 1995 jam "No More 'I Love You's'."

But the song in question, Nicki Minaj's "Your Love," is so annoyingly infectious, one play alone will simply not suffice. Check it out:

Classiest line: "You're like a candy store, and I'm a [sic] todd-lor."

"Your Love" is said to be included on Minaj's upcoming debut album for Young Money/Universal Motown. Let's hope so, because compared to some of her other Lil' Kim-esque, expletive-laden tracks, she could use a softer tune to balance things out.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicks Rule This Year's Brits Pack, Plus A Look Back At A Decade Of Decent Nominees

Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Florence And The Machine and Pixie Lott all landed three Brit Awards nominations today. The shindig goes down on February 16, about two and a half weeks after the Grammys. Gone now is the British Live Act category.

And though Simon Cowell made out like a bandit with artists such as JLS, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and, yes, even Joe McElderry receiving nods, Susan Boyle was completely shut out. Ironically, she had the best-selling album in the U.K. last year.

Below is the full list of nominations—a bit of a ho-hum snooze if you ask me, given last year's spectacular ceremony and lineup. Following that, I posted some of the more exciting wins from the past decade.

The 2010 Brit Awards Nominations:

Calvin Harris
Dizzee Rascal
Paolo Nutini
Robbie Williams

Bat for Lashes
Florence And The Machine
Leona Lewis
Lily Allen
Pixie Lott

Florence And The Machine
Friendly Fires
La Roux
Pixie Lott

Friendly Fires

Dizzee Rascal, Tongue 'n’ Cheek
Florence And The Machine, Lungs
Kasabian, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Lily Allen, It’s Not Me, It’s You
Paolo Nutini, Sunny Side Up

Alesha Dixon, "Breathe Slow"
Alexandra Burke featuring Flo Rida, "Bad Boys"
Cheryl Cole, "Fight For This Love"
Joe McElderry, "The Climb"
JLS, "Beat Again"
La Roux, "In For The Kill"
Lily Allen, "The Fear"
Pixie Lott, "Mama Do"
Taio Cruz, "Break Your Heart"
Tinchy Stryder featuring N-Dubz, "Number 1"

Bruce Springsteen
Michael Bublé
Seasick Steve

Lady Gaga
Norah Jones

Animal Collective
Daniel Merriweather
Empire of the Sun
Lady Gaga
Taylor Swift

Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D.
Empire of the Sun, Walking on a Dream
Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3
Lady Gaga, The Fame

Pretty Decent Brits Wins From The Past Decade:

2000: Steps (Best Selling Live Act)
2001: a1 (British Breakthrough Act)
2002: Kylie Minogue (International Album, International Female)
2003: Sugababes (British Dance Act)
2004: Duran Duran (Outstanding Contribution)
2005: Scissor Sisters (International Breakthrough Act, International Album, International Group)
2006: Green Day (International Album, International Group)
2007: The Killers (International Album, International Group)
2008: Take That (British Single, British Live Act)
2009: Pet Shop Boys (Outstanding Contribution)

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