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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Take That's "These Days" Becomes The DILF Troupe's 12th #1 Single

They may be down to only three members, but DILF gods Take That have secured their 12th chart-topping single in the UK with "These Days." The band's string of #1s began back in summer 1993 with the release of "Pray." Back then the That were comprised of the classic lineup: Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange.

Six more #1s followed between 1993 and 1995, and after Williams' departure (in '95), Take That managed to hit the top one last time in 1996, with a cover of the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love," before splitting.

Cut to 10 years later, when the group returned in November 2006 as a four-piece (sans Williams) with comeback single "Patience." (I can't believe that was eight years ago.) The song became Take That's ninth UK #1, and was followed in the chart-topping department by "Shine" in 2007 and "Greatest Day" in 2008.

"These Days" performance On 'The Graham Norton Show'

TT have the distinction of hitting #1 as a quintet, a quartet and, now, a trio. It's all very surprising, as I thought for sure the guys were bound for flopdom this time around. Oh, well — long live Howard's pecs!

The band's new album III goes on sale tomorrow.

The UK Top 10:

1. "These Days" - Take That *new* *1 week*
2. "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Band Aid 30
3. "Wrapped Up" - Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy
4. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
5. "Real Love" - Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
6. "Steal My Girl" - One Direction
7. "Jealous" - Labrinth *new*
8. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
9. "Dangerous" - David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
10. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Nick Jonas Hasn't Taken His Dick Out...Yet (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Happy Thanksgiving! 

This year, we should all give thanks to the fact that Taylor Swift appears to have been set on fire, and is indeed going insane. Also, Nick Jonas is climbing higher each week on the Billboard Hot 100 ("Jealous" is at #8), and once he reaches #1, I'm convinced he'll do full frontal for the cover of Newsweek.

Final note before I go chew bird and get hammered: Mr. Probz is up to #14 with "Waves." At this point, expect him to crack the Top 5 by May 2015 — i.e. a full year after the song topped the charts everywhere else in the world.

Have a great holiday!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *2 weeks*
2. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Animals" - Maroon 5
5. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
6. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo
7. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
8. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
9. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd
10. "Don't" - Ed Sheeran

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shayne Ward's Mike Stock-Produced Album 'Closer' Now Out In April: Here's The Cover Art

At the end of the summer, Shayne Ward gifted those of us who've lusted after his perfect ass enjoyed his music for the past eight years with the news that he would be recording his fourth album with producer legend Mike Stock, of onetime dominant pop triumvirate Stock Aitken Waterman. It turned out that the album was funded through Pledge Music, and — good news! — since September, when donations began pouring in, 124% of the pledging goal has been met.

While the the album was originally scheduled for a February release date, today Shayne gave the following update (along with the above album cover art):
Thank you for your support so far – it means the world to me. I’m so excited to finally give you guys a first look at my album cover and reveal the title: Closer.

I’m currently working on a really special deluxe edition of the album with lots of additional tracks not found on the standard CD or download. I didn’t get to finish recording before rehearsals started for War of The Worlds so I’m heading back into the studio in January, which means that sadly the album will now be out on 13 April 2015... Sorry it’s going to be a little longer wait but I hope it will all be worthwhile when you hear the new music.
As you can tell by the cover art, this album campaign seems to be a much classier affair than that for his previous LP, Obsession, and his subsequent stint on Dancing On Ice, when Shayne was stripping his clothes off at the drop of a hat. Visually, I kind of miss those days. But musically, the only way is up.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Band Aid 30 Blocks Clean Bandit With "Do They Know It's Christmas"

The fourth rendition of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid 30 debuts at #1 on the UK chart this week, thus following the 1984 original, 1989's Band Aid II version and 2004's atrocious Band Aid 20 disaster. The Official Charts Company notes that the song sold 312,000 downloads since its release on Monday, and could stick pretty close to the top through the holidays once the physical version of the single is released on December 8.

All of this forces Clean Bandit's second pairing with Jess Glynne, "Real Love," to debut at #2. All involved topped the chart earlier this year for four weeks with "Rather Be," a song that went on to peak at #10 here in the States. This gives Clean Bandit three Top 5 singles in the UK, including "Extraordinary" (though half of the band are also in the Band Aid 30 lineup).

That leaves Olly Murs to go in at #3 with "Wrapped Up," the lead single from his upcoming fourth album Never Been Better. Good ol' Olly.

Up next week: Band Aid vs. Take That, whose new single "These Days" was released today.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Band Aid 30 *new* *1 week*
2. "Real Love" - Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne *new*
3. "Wrapped Up" - Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy *new*
4. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
5. "Dangerous" - David Guetta feat. Sam Martin *new*
6. "Steal My Girl" - One Direction
7. "Wake Me Up" - Gareth Malone's All Star Choir
8. "6 Words" - Wretch 32 *new* 
9. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
10. "Outside" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

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I Interviewed Ace Of Base & Real McCoy For Idolator's 50 Best Singles Of 1994 Roundup

One day in mid-October, I was sitting in Margot Patisserie here in New York's Upper West Side, and it hit me that it's been 20 years since my favorite year for music in the 1990s — that would be 1994 — and so I thought it might be fun to round up the 20 best pop singles from that time period on Idolator. Simple, right? Well, not so much.

As it turned out, there were far too many great songs released as singles in '94 (or in late '93 that spilled into '94) to exclude, and as the staff and I were bouncing around ideas for what to include, suddenly our list grew to 30 singles...then 40...then, finally, 50.

I didn't want this to be some throwaway Buzzfeed-esque list, so aside from myself, I gathered up 10 writers, including Idolator staffers Mike Wass (@mikewassmusic), Bradley Stern (@muumuse) and Bianca Gracie (@BiancaEnRouge), plus longstanding Chart Rigger sidekick John Hamilton (@foreverhamilton), Steve Sears (@xolondon) and my friends/old Instinct Magazine colleagues Jonathan Riggs (@farleyflavors), Mike Wood (@mikewoodwriter) and Alex Cho (@alexcho47). Rounding it all out was Idolator freelancers Christina Lee (@MinaAnnLee) and Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000).

Once everyone was on board, I had the surprisingly tough task of ranking all 50 of our single choices from 1994, and then dividing the songs up amongst the 11 writers. Then, because life isn't nearly difficult enough, I decided we should get quotes from at least the artists who made up the top five on our big list. I first reached out to Olaf "O-Jay" Jeglitza, from Real McCoy, as he and I have been friends for nearly a decade now. I hadn't seen him since we had a fun drunken night in Berlin while I was on the Rihanna 777 Tour two years ago, and my email asking for a couple general quotes about 1994 turned into us having an hour-long phone conversation. Once O-Jay was on board, the rest fell into place: Chilli from TLC, Lisa Loeb, Haddaway and Jonas Berggren from Ace Of Base (who proved to be a bit tough to track down — but I found him!).

Anyway, all of this took took five weeks to put together, but it's now posted online! What you have, then, is what I call "mini essays" on the songs we ranked #50 through #6, and then full interviews for #5 through #1 (again, with Ace Of Base, TLC, Real McCoy, Lisa Loeb and Haddaway).

So do me a solid and go check out Idolator's roundup of The 50 Best Singles Of 1994. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Well, maybe with some of the ranking, but you now me — I love to stir it up a bit.

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Clean Bandit Covered Robin S's "Show Me Love" And It Doesn't Suck: Listen

You might have missed that Clean Bandit re-released their debut album New Eyes this past week with three extra tracks added: current single "Real Love" (which is another pair-up with Jess Glynne, following  "Rather Be"), "Stronger" and a cover of Robin S's early-'90s house staple "Show Me Love."

The latter features Elisabeth Troy on vocals, and sounds pretty much like you would expect a Clean Bandit cover of "Show Me Love" to sound like. Troy gives it her all, but let's face it — no skinny bitch is ever going to be able to wail like Robin. Still, not a bad cover, all in all.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Taylor Swift Is A Nightmare

The fact that Taylor Swift has followed herself up at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with "Blank Space" now the successor to "Shake It Off," makes me feel like all hope has crashed onto the rocks, its head split open and brains spilling into the dirt. The only consolation is that both Sam Smith's sad dirge "I'm Not The Only One" and Nick Jonas' "Jealous" finally crack the Top 10, at #9 and #10, respectively.

Over on the Billboard 200, Nick's self-titled album debuts at #6. But, yeah — Taylor Swift needs to take a long vacation, get knocked up and forget she ever had a music career.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *1 week*
2. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
3. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
4. "Animals" - Maroon 5
5. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo
6. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
7. "Hot Boy" - Bobby Shmurda
8. "Bang Bang" - Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
9. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
10. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas

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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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