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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Italy Trip: The Video

I feel like I've been traveling nonstop for the past three weeks. Oh, wait — I have been! Things will be returning back to normal here on Chart Rigger this week as far as regular posting...promise!

In the meantime, here's a clip I cut together of photos and video footage taken during my trip to Italy.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

US Chart Roundup: Katy Perry Gets Closer To Tying MIchael Jackson's Chart Record

I've been very vocal about loving Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," which climbs to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. But the fact that it might go to #1 (it deserves to do more so than, say, "Firework") and cause Katy to tie Michael Jackson's record of having five #1s off one album is borderline scandalous!

The Gloved EEEEEEEEEE Heeeeeeeee!!!!'s feat was bound to matched at some point. His five chart-topping singles all came from 1987 album Bad, so the fact that it's taken nearly 25 years for an artist to come along and equal that record is still pretty impressive.

But when I think of Katy Perry, I just think of whipped cream tits and popsicles. Then again, when I think of Michael Jackson, I think of crotch-grabbing and La Toya. Guess there are some similarities!

At any rate, I put up a poll on whether or not Katy Perry deserves to match MJ's chart record over at Idolator. Vote away, if you get the urge.

For the record: Michael's five consecutive #1s from Bad were "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man In The Mirror" and "Dirty Diana." Katy's four so far from Teenage Dream are "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream," "Firework" and "E.T."

Oh, and PS — I've been driving around L.A. in a rental car all week, stuck with just the radio. And if I ever hear "Party Rock Anthem" or "Rolling In The Deep" — two songs played at least twice an hour on KIIS FM — I'll fork my eardrums with plastic utensils.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Party Rock Anthem" - LMFAO/Lauren Bennett/GoonRock *4 weeks*
2. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry
3. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
4. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj
5. "Rolling In The Deep" - Adele
6. "How To Love" - Lil Wayne
7. "Tonight, Tonight" - Hot Chelle Rae
8. "The Edge Of Glory" - Lady Gaga
9. "Good Life" - OneRepublic
10. "Lighters" - Bad Meets Evil feat. Bruno Mars

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Viral Video Of The Year: Danish A Cappella Group Does Medley Of '90s Dance-Pop Hits

Sorry for the two-day absence — been crazy busy with more traveling and couch-surfing. Things will resume as normal tomorrow.

Until then check out this totally rad video of Local Vocal, a Danish a cappella group, doing a medley of '90s Eurodance hits like Corona's "The Rhythm Of The Night," 2 Unlimited's "No Limits" and Ace Of Base's "All That She Wants."

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

UK Chart Roundup: I'd Like To Smack The Whininess Out Of Jason Derulo

I was beginning to feel really like such a slacker for not posting the UK Top 10 here on Sunday, and letting several days go by before I got to it and, to cheat history, back-dated it. (I haven't been home for a few days).

But then I looked over it this morning and realized that, not only is this one of the most boring weeks ever on the entire UK chart — hardly any singles move around, and the ones in the Top 10 are all the same as last week — it's also probably been the dullest years for pop in general.

Too bad what we get in the wake of Lady Gaga is watered-down, generic dance songs by Pitbull and Jason Derulo. Revolt, Brits — revolt!

The UK Top 10:

1. "Glad You Came" - The Wanted *2 weeks*
2. "Louder" - DJ Fresh feat. Sian Evans
3. "The A Team" - Ed Sheeran
4. "Best Thing I Never Had" - Beyonce
5. "How We Roll" - Loick Essien feat. Tanya Lacey
6. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
7. "Don't Wanna Go Home" - Jason Derulo
8. "Bounce" - Calvin Harris feat. Kelis
9. "Changed The Way You Kiss Me" - Example
10. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry

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R.I.P. Amy Winehouse

This is my Amy Winehouse non-story. First of all, I wasn't a huge fan, like, say, Xolondon (read his thoughtful post on the British singer's too-untimely passing), though I appreciated her musical contributions.

My favorite: her Mark Ronson cover of the Zutons' "Valerie," a #2 hit in the UK nearly four years ago.

My friend Steve made me a mix CD back in December 2004 that had Amy's Frank single "Fuck Me Pumps" on it, which marked the first time I ever heard one of her songs. Of course, it wasn't until "Rehab" came along in October 2006 and became a hit first in the UK, and then, the following spring, in the US, that the world at large really opened their eyes and ears to her.

Anyway, Back To Black was released in the States in March 2007. I was working at Instinct at the time, and had an interview set up with Amy. She was staying at a hotel in New York, where she was doing promo. I remember being kind of nervous, because there were, of course, the stories: erratic behavior, boozy rants, sharp words etc.

But the conversation was being done over the phone, so I figured, what's the worst that could happen? She'd hang up on me, maybe?

I'd done many interviews at that point, but the only other one-on-one I'd been equally as nervous about in the lead-up, for all the same reasons, was Juliette Lewis, in late 2004. (For the record, Juliette wound up being awesome.)

As it turned out, Amy Winehouse never called. Later the publicist contacted me and said that all interviews for that day had been canceled. No explanation was given, and, in a way, I was kind of relieved.

A year later, Back To Black won like 3,000 Grammys, and, as with her home country, Amy had become a tabloid fixture on these shores for her late-night antics. In June 2008 I left Instinct and went to work for the celebrity gossip site Celebuzz, where writing about Amy was sometimes an hourly task — as often as the paparazzi shots of her stumbling around Camden could come in, really.

I guess, in retrospect, I'm not proud of that fact, though nothing we wrote was nasty or mean-spirited. It was just a documentation of the life she led. Still, it wasn't my bag, really, and I only stuck around for about seven months at that job.

Upon learning of Amy's death yesterday, I had a phone conversation with my friend and onetime fellow blogger-in-the-trenches during that brief stint at Celebuzz, Lisa Timmons (who wrote for Socialite Life then and sat next to me in the Buzzmedia office). We reminisced for a bit about those days and, overall, said we both just felt sad.

Ah, well — R.I.P., Amy. You're gone too soon. And I certainly enjoyed making references to your wig here on Chart Rigger back in the day.

For more on the passing of Amy Winehouse, check out Idolator:
* Amy Winehouse's Best Live Performances
* Musicians Mourn The Loss Of Amy Winehouse On Twitter
* Amy Winehouse's 9 Best Photos: In Memoriam
* Amy Winehouse's Early Death Was Unavoidable, Experts Say

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Wonder Why Steps De$ided To Reunite?

Upon reading that Steps will be getting back together for a four-part documentary for Sky News in the UK, set to air later this year,  I couldn't help thinking about how I'd wanted this reunion to happen for years.

After all, during their active years of releasing music, 1997 through 2001,  I managed to collect every one of their CD singles on import (and even the two released in the US) — the only artist I'd ever done so with. Thirteen of their single releases made the UK Top 5 in that short period (14, if we count the godawful all-star "Thank ABBA For The Music" travesty with Tina Cousins, Billie Piper and some other hookers).

There was something so undeniably cheesy about their image and repertoire (dance moves for every single, available for the kiddies to learn via a how-to sheet tucked in the CD — really), yet so subtly urgent and pop-perfect about many of their jams. Of course, the five band members had little-to-no input on said jams (though they do get a few writing credits on third and final album Buzz).

At any rate, who's to say if any new music will develop from the reunion? Says Sky exec Mark Sammon, "We'll document the in-fighting, jealousy and power struggles - it's not the sugar-coated Steps we all remember. I'm delighted this British pop phenomenon has given us access to their stories. And we can expect tears and dramatic confrontation as they attempt to put the past behind them and re-launch Steps ten years on from their split."

A quick look at their songs on my iTunes reveals the following:

Best Steps Singles: "One For Sorrow" (1998), "Better Best Forgotten" (1999), "Say You'll Be Mine" (1999), "It's The Way You Make Me Feel" (2001), "You'll Be Sorry" (2001)

Worst Steps Single: "When I Said Goodbye/Summer Of Love" (2000)"

Best Steps Album: Buzz (2000)

Worst Steps Album: Steptacular (1999)

Steps Album Tracks That Should Have Been Singles: "Back To You," "Turn Around"

Steps B-Sides That Should Have Been Singles: "Just Like The First Time," "Human Touch"


Thursday, July 21, 2011

US Chart Roundup: Demi Lovato Is Sad, Britney Spears Is On A Roll

Okay, I'm finally back on US soil after a nine-day jaunt through Italy. And I'm just now listening to Demi Lovato's post-rehab single, the weepy Toby Gad-produced power ballad "Skyscraper," which debuts on the new Billboard Hot 100 at #10.

Looks like Demi is working through some major issues with the song (or at least the tune's three co-writers are). But a quick glance at iTunes, where "Skyscraper" was #1 for a stretch last week, shows that the single has now quickly fallen to #26. Sorry, Demi — it's a party rock world.

Anyway, "Skyscraper" is the only new song to crack the Top 10, and just outside it, Britney Spears' "I Wanna Go" climbs up to #13. If the Max Martin/Shellback-produced jam makes it into the Top 10, it will mark Wigney's third consecutive Top 10 single off Femme Fatale, and her 12th Top 10 single overall (including the remix of Rihanna's "S&M" she appears on, which peaked at #1 in April).

If "I Wanna Go" doesn't enter the Top 10, it'll be one of a few Britney singles to peak in the teens, including "If U Seek Amy" (#19), "Piece Of Me" (#18), "Everytime" (#15) and "From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart" (#14).

And that, folks, is fascinating.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Party Rock Anthem" - LMFAO/Lauren Bennett/GoonRock *3 weeks*
2. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
3. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry
4. "Rolling In The Deep" - Adele
5. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj 
6. "How To Love" - Lil Wayne
7. "The Edge Of Glory" - Lady Gaga
8. "Good Life" - OneRepublic
9. "Tonight, Tonight" - Hot Chelle Rae
10. "Skyscraper" - Demi Lovato *new*

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Monday, July 18, 2011

UK Chart Roundup: The Wanted Are Glad You Came

This past week truly is one of the longest stretches I've gone without blogging on a regular basis. Been zipping around Rome since Saturday. Barring any overdoses of gelato and/or prosecco, all will be back to normal around her on Thursday.

Anyway, here's the new UK #1 single, "Glad You Came" by The Wanted. Is it me or is the "woah-oh-oh" on the chorus more than slightly "Till The World Ends"-esque?

The UK Top 10:

1. "Glad You Came" - The Wanted *new* *1 week*
2. "Louder" - DJ Fresh feat. Sian Evans
3. "The A Team" - Ed Sheeran
4. "Best Thing I Never Had" - Beyonce
5. "How We Roll" - Loick Essien feat. Tanya Lacey
6. "Don't Wanna Go Home" - Jason Derulo
7. "Changed The Way You Kiss Me" - Example
8. "Bounce" - Calvin Harris feat. Kelis
9. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
10. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Take That Take A Bow, Bid The 'Progress' Era Farewell With "When We Were Young" Video

Two nights after I caught Take That in Milan, along comes the "When We Were Young" music video. It's the last single from the quintet's Progress/Progressed album, and, as mentioned before, will feature in the upcoming film The Three Musketeers.

The video is basically a black and white affair shot around their Progress Tour. Thankfully it's not all concert footage.

Just a quick note on the concert, because I don't have much time here in my room (I'm in Venice) — it was pretty spectacular, even from way up in the peanut gallery, where I was sitting.

The Robbie Williams solo bit in the second act (the first act being the other four doing songs from Beautiful World and The Circus plus "Rule The World") was way too long, and he's way too obnoxious for my d'luvvly taste. He was fine, though, when he was eventually joined up with the other TT members and singing their less self-centered material.

The guys skipped the Beatles medley they'd (apparently?) been doing at the UK shows, too. My favorite bit was "Love Love," when they were riding on the giant mechanical "universal man." Other good parts: "The Flood," "Pray," "Never Forget" and, of course, the entire stadium of 78,500 people singing along to "Back For Good."

Here are three of the pics I snapped of the stage (go here to see the hot security guard I was fixated on before the show began):


US Chart Roundup: Hot Cops, Guards And Gondoliers In Italy

There are no new entries in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, nor are there any decent debuts on the chart in full, save for Avril Lavigne's "Smile" way down at #94

So above is a classy snap of a hot Italian firefighter at the Take That concert in Milan on Tuesday night, and below are two hot policemen outside the Duomo Cathedral in Milan.

By the way, did I mention the hot gondolier around the corner from where I'm staying in Venice?

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Party Rock Anthem" - LMFAO/Lauren Bennett/GoonRock *2 weeks*
2. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
3. "Rolling In The Deep" - Adele
4. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry
5. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj 
6. "The Edge Of Glory" - Lady Gaga
7. "How To Love" - Lil Wayne
8. "Good Life" - OneRepublic
9. "Tonight, Tonight" - Hot Chelle Rae
10. "E.T." - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Off To Italy

Hey, all — sorry for the quiet few days here on the blog. I've been prepping for this trip to Italy pretty intensively for the past week since, you know, I basically had been putting it off since I booked the damn vacation seven months ago.

But here I sit at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany on a two-hour layover before heading to Milan for a couple days. After that I hope a train to Venice for the latter half of the week and then finally I'll be in Rome for four days.

I'm super amped to see Take That and Pet Shop Boys on Tuesday night, and equally as excited to see all the ridiculously hot 22-year-old policemen milling around the cities (a highlight from my last trip to Italy).

I'll probably be posting some highlights from the trip, as well as pics, along with anything music-related that is interesting enough to keep me away from the cops sights here .

Anyway, the Top 10 from the UK chart this week is below. I will note that every time I play "Did I Say 'Ti Amo?'" by Fresh, that fucking DJ Fresh — who has the new #1 this week with "Louder — pops up on my damn last.fm profile instead.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Louder" - DJ Fresh feat. Sian Evans *new* *1 week*
2. "How We Roll" - Loick Essien feat. Tanya Lacey *new*
3. "The A Team" - Ed Sheeran
4. "Changed The Way You Kiss Me" - Example
5. "Don't Wanna Go Home" - Jason Derulo
6. "Best Thing I Never Had" - Beyonce
7. "Bounce" - Calvin Harris feat. Kelis
8. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
9. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry
10. "Mr. Saxobeat" - Alexandra Stan

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Rihanna Concert In Dallas Was Fun...UNTIL THE STAGE CAUGHT ON FIRE

Well, Rihanna performed in Dallas tonight for about an hour. But when she finished up with "California King Bed" and exited the stage, the pyrotechnics caught fire up above the big screen at the back of the stage, and, well, everyone bolted.

With the concert cut short, that means I didn't get to hear "Rude Boy," "SOS," "Umbrella" or "What's My Name." Dammit!

Rihanna fired (ahem) off a couple tweets right after:
"DALLAS!!! We set the stage on FYAH tonight!!! LITERALLY!!! I'm so pissed, I was havin so much fun wit yall too!!! I gotta come back man!!"

"Heading into a production meeting to find out exactly what happened!!! Keep u posted #LOUDtourDALLAS"
I snapped the above pics of the firetrucks as they arrived. Oh, well — I'm off to Italy for a week-and-a-half on Sunday, then L.A. and then Pittsburgh. Way to close out my Dallas stint with a bang, RiRi.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Miss Pussy Approves Of The Gregory Brothers' "Can't Hug Every Cat"

Online Auto Tune pranksters The Gregory Brothers turned awe-inspiring diva Antoine Dodson into a star last year with "Bed Intruder Song," and their latest project was turning cat-loving eHarmony ho Debbie (aka Debbie The Online Dater) in a singing wonder via "Can't Hug Every Cat."

Miss Pussy has sat here on my lap through three viewings of this hot trash. Either she's hungry, or she's totally vibing on Deb's soulmate potential.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Beyonce's "Best Thing I Never Had" Video Is Class

After the colossal mega-flop that was "Run The World (Girls)," Beyonce's fourth album 4 had a disappointing debut at #1 after meager first-week sales of 317,000. Yes, I said disappointing and #1 — given that it's Beyonce, this shit should have charted even higher!

Anyway, it's total turn-around time, as "Best Thing I Never Had" gets its video premiere today, and it features a kinder, gentler Bey. Plus, she's showing her T & A in classy Victoria's Secret's finest garb. Bonus points!

Hopefully Bey can ride on the coattails of massively-talented soul legend Michelle Williams, who unleashed her new buzz single "Love Gun" yesterday.

Truth be told, this is my favorite song from this broad since "Halo."  On the new Billboard Hot 100 chart published today, "Best Thing I Never Had" climbed to #29.

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Take That's Next Single Is "When We Were Young"

Folks, my ass lands in Italy in four days, and I'll be seeing Take That in concert in Milan the day after that. Ahead of my plans to touch Howard Donald's bare chest backstage thoroughly enjoy the live spectacle, the band announced today that Progressed track "When We Were Young" is to be their next single — official release date, August 22.

And looks like the That are continuing with their movie tie-ins, following X-Men: The Last Stand jam "Love Love."

Says their official site:
"'When We Were Young' will be the theme song in the upcoming feature film adaptation, The Three Musketeers. The highly anticipated 3D action-adventure has a impressive cast, including the likes of Logan Lerman, Milla Jovoich and Matthew Macfadyen and will be coming coming to cinemas in the UK on 14 October.

"Gary, Howard, Jason, Mark and Robbie were inspired to write the song after a private screening of the flm in LA with the director Paul W.S. Anderson. Here's what Gary had to say about the new single: 'The film is visually so rich and beautiful that our main challenge was to then match it musically. We've returned to guitars, real pianos and a conventional song structure to achieve this. We also thought that the Musketeers reminded us of ourselves.'"
Interestingly, Logan Lerman is playing Charlie, the main character in the movie adaptation of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (co-starring Emma Watson), which only happens to be my favorite book of all time, and is currently being shot in my hometown of Pittsburgh.

Anyway, here's "When We Were Young":

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The Black Eyes Peas Thankfully Taking Break

After several years of stunning achievements, including landing on Chart Rigger's Worst Singles Of The Year lists in 2009 and 2010, the Black Eyed Peas are going on a hiatus once they wind up their current The Beginning Tour.

“The @Bep will take a break after the beginning…just like we did from monkey business to the e.n.d…but it doesn’t mean we stop creating,” will.i.am tweeted yesterday.

This can only mean one thing: Fergie will likely follow up 2006 offering The Dutchess — the most mind-boggling album with singles both utterly brilliant ("Glamorous") and totally shit ("London Bridge") — with another set of solo jams.


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U.S. Chart Roundup: Lauren Bennett, LMFAO & The Diminishing Returns Of 'The Voice'

If I had been more up on flop girl groups, I'd have realized that Lauren Bennett, who features on LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" — the new #1 single in the country — was a member of Paradiso Girls. Of course, I see LMFAO and my eyes just glaze over before I can make it to the rest of the featured artists on that bill.

Lauren also features on Cee Lo Green's Lady Killer track "Love Gun" — and album I have but clearly haven't paid much attention to.

Anyway, as we know, "Party Rock Anthem" spent four weeks at the top of the UK chart in the spring, as well as the charts in 10 other countries. I'm just trying to figure out how the guys who did "I'm In Miami Bitch" actually have a hit this big.

Another puzzler: OneRepublic having a second Top 10 hit after "Apologize." I figured these guys were relegated to forever landing their lackluster mid-tempo fodder in the middle-to-low end of the Top 40. Granted, "Good Life" (#9 this week) is their best single since the mentioned "Apologize."

That brings us to Javier Colon and Dia Frampton, the winner and runner-up, respectively of Season 1 of NBC's The Voice. Javier's "Stitch By Stitch" debuts at #17, while Dia's "Inventing Shadows" goes in at #20 — impressive numbers, as both songs spent time at the top of the iTunes download chart last week.

That said, with no major airplay behind the songs and the show now over for the season, Javier's single is already down to #62 on the digital store's roundup, while Dia's is #105. Good luck in the real world, kids!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Party Rock Anthem" - LMFAO/Lauren Bennett/GoonRock *1 week*
2. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
3. "Rolling In The Deep" - Adele
4. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry
5. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj 
6. "The Edge Of Glory" - Lady Gaga
7. "E.T." - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West
8. "How To Love" - Lil Wayne
9. "Good Life" - OneRepublic
10. "Tonight, Tonight" - Hot Chelle Rae

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Michelle Williams' "Love Gun" Is Totally My Jam

I actually caught Michelle Williams in a touring production of a play called What My Husband Doesn't Know a couple months back (I know — super classy) because a friend had a role in it. As for her performance, let me just say that, Michelle, girl, I'm glad you're back to music.

Below is her Druski-produced new buzz single "Love Gun" (download for free here) from her forthcoming album. And 2:14 - 2:28 is totally ABBA by way of Erasure.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Yuna's "Come As You Are" Cover Doesn't Suck

Yuna's is the second "not bad" rendition of Nirvana's 1991 song "Come As You Are" to come along in recent months, the first being Rebecca Loebe's on The Voice.

Yuna has an EP called Decorate on iTunes. "Come As You Are" is, alas, not on it.

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Erasure Announce New Frankmusik-Produced Album 'Tomorrow's World'

Yesterday Erasure announced on their site that their first studio LP in four years, Tomorrow's World, will be released on October 3 overseas, and October 4 here in the States. A quick glance at Wikipedia notes that the album is produced by the busier-than-ever Frankmusik.

Today the duo's site revealed that the LP will be preceded by the single "When I Start To (Break It All Down)."

Interesting, though I think the days of me getting excited over a new Erasure album have come and gone, given their output in the recent decade (save for the rad Total Pop! box set).

I'm actually more thrown for a loop that this summer marks 20 years since "Chorus" (the single) was released.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

UK Chart Roundup: Beyonce Is On The Rebound

Looks like Beyonce's UK fans have forgiven her for the fail that was "Run The World (Girls)" in the wake of her well-received Glastonbury performance last week, as her latest single "Best Thing I Never Had" lands a solid debut at #3 on the singles chart.

Likewise, Bey's new album 4 debuts at #1, giving her a second chart-topping album in the UK, and her first since her debut Dangerously In Love.

One act not faring as well on their home country's album chart is The Feeling. Sadly, their third LP Together We Were Made plummets from last week's disappointing debut position of #22 to #71.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Don't Wanna Go Home" - Jason Derulo *2 weeks*
2. "Changed The Way You Kiss Me" - Example
3. "Best Thing I Never Had" - Beyonce *new*
4. "Bounce" - Calvin Harris feat. Kelis
5. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, AfroJack & Nayer
6. "The A Team" - Ed Sheeran
7. "The Edge Of Glory" - Lady Gaga
8. "Mr. Saxobeat" - Alexandra Stan
9. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry
10. "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" - Coldplay

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday Trashback 2: Waterlillies

For this week's Friday Trashback, we move on to dreamy dance duo Waterlillies, who, despite crafting what I consider to be some of the best jams of the 1990s, sadly disbanded after releasing only two albums on Warner Bros. imprint Sire: Evoluptuousity (1992) and Tempted (1994).

As they broke up just on the cusp of the Internet coming into widespread use the world over, there's actually not a whole lot of info out there about the onetime New York-based duo, which consisted of vocalist Sandra Jill Alikas (now going by her married name Jill Alikas-St. Thomas) and producer/instrumentalist Ray Carroll.

When stacked up against their pop/house music contemporaries at the time, Waterlillies were more than just an American Saint Etienne, far more mysterious than Deee-Lite and in a different league than Sunscreem. Their first LP was packed with solid tunes like "Hip To My Way," "Day And Age" and the sadly-overlooked single "Tired Of You."

Waterlillies, "Tired Of You"

Their second album, Tempted, arrived two years later, and its singles fared far better — in dance clubs at least. The title track hit #4 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1994, while Junior Vasquez's "Deep Factory Mix" of second single "Never Get Enough" sent the track to the top of the same chart in '95.

Waterlillies, "Tempted"

While I was always aware of Waterlillies, I actually didn't own either of their albums until this year. I stumbled upon Tempted while doing a bit of research on songs that topped the dance charts, and downloaded it off iTunes in January. Unfortunately, Envoluptuosity isn't available on the digital store, but I found a CD copy for a couple bucks on eBay.

Personally, I can live without the Vasquez mix of "Never Get Enough." That said, the album version is my favorite song by the duo. It's so subtle, housey and of its time:

Waterlillies, "Never Get Enough"

Side note: I've had and on-again, off-again subscription to Entertainment Weekly since I was 19, and grabbed a bunch of old issues from my parents' attic last year to bring back with me after a visit. I finally got around to opening up the August 12, 1994 issue a couple months ago, and imagine my surprise when I found that Waterlillies' Tempted was the main music review in that issue.

Said EW:
"...Waterlillies, a New York duo whose thoroughly alluring second album Tempted could be the future of dance — or one of its futures anyway. The concept is stunningly simple: put a human on techno by layering a female voice and pop hooks onto this most electronic and inhuman of musics... you don't come to club music for lyrics, but rather for a charged sonic rush, and that's where Tempted delivers the goods. In the hands of folks like the Waterlillies, dance music will continue to catch us off-balance just when we thought we knew all the stops. A-"
I should also point out that Tempted made Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Albums list at the end of 1994.

Anyway, personally, I'm glad Waterlillies had their brief day in the sun. They've certainly sound-tracked many solitary walks and drives through the night for me all these years later.

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