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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

US Chart Roundup: So, About Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney's "FourFiveSeconds"...

Over the past week I've been preoccupied with whipping together Chart Rigger's epic 10-year anniversary Round Table feature (not to mention the 10-year anniversary playlist), so I didn't get a chance to comment on Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney's weekend bombshell, "FourFiveSeconds." And it's probably for the best that I let several days pass before chiming in, since I thought the song sounded like alley cats fucking in a garbage can the first time I listened.

But now that I've given it a few plays (three total, really), this trash doesn't sound like a bad song. In fact, I can actually hear a throng of RiRi fans chanting the chorus of this one in unison from their seats at some stadium venue while she has a down-tempo moment on stage.

Alas, right now we're not at a Rihanna concert. We just have this song to listen to from our computers. It's not conventional, as far as bombastic lead singles from Ms. Fenty go. In fact, I feel like the last time she turned out a ballad featuring guitars for a single was "California King Bed," back in Spring 2011, but that one had a far glossier production than the stripped-back "FourFiveSeconds."

I don't know — I guess it's growing on me. There's something charming about Rihanna chirping and warbling like a newly-hatched chickadee over McCartney's minimal guitar strumming here. Kanye, on the other hand, should just never attempt to sing.

This classy trash debuts at #54 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, which is pretty impressive considering "FourFiveSeconds" was only added to iTunes last Saturday night, and the chart cut-off for the week is Sunday evening.

Anyway, two interesting things to point out:

1. Out of Rihanna's seven released studio albums so far, only two have contained lead singles that missed out on topping the Billboard Hot 100: debut album Music Of The Sun ("Pon de Replay," #2) and Rated R ("Russian Roulette, "#9).

2. This year marks a full decade of RiRi. Her very first single, "Pon de Replay," arrived in May 2005.

P.S. everyone: It's 2015, and Fall Out Boy have a Top 10 single.  

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *4 weeks*
2. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
5. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
6. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
7. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
8. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
9. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
10. "Centuries" - Fall Out Boy

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chart Rigger's 10-Year Anniversary Round Table: 15 Writers On How Blogging Changed Music Consumption & Created A Community (+ What The Hell Ever Happened To Pop Poster Girl?)

Ten years. How do you sum that up, and do so eloquently? Well, eleganza has never been my forte.

This space on the Internet sparked into being a decade ago (on January 22, 2005) in Los Angeles, after I was driving home in the evening from my job at Instinct Magazine and had the notion to create a forum to talk about pop music in everyday, Average Joe speak — none of this referring to my singular self as "we," calling my fucking couch "Chart Rigger HQ" or acting like a pompous know-it-all. Reading sites that employed that type of lingo always made me want to power-drill my dick to a tree.

I stopped at a Ralph's grocery store on the way home that evening, and, by the time I hit the parking lot to leave, decided that I'd head straigiht back to my apartment and create a blog. The name "Chart Rigger" just popped into my head as I climbed into my car.

One thing I remember clearly from very early on, once I had a fair amount of posts up here, is e-mailing a nice British girl named Jessica and asking her to pretty-please include Chart Rigger in the list of "ace pop blogs" on her own site, Dirrrty Pop. She did so, and I have never forgotten it. The second week of January 2006, local L.A. publication Frontiers included Chart Rigger in its list of "11 Essential Gay Blogs" (thanks, Alex!). Sometime also in early 2006, another blogger out of the UK named Paul Reynolds (then doing The Zapping) and a guy out of Washington D.C. named Stephen Sears (The Middle Eight) began commenting here regularly.

Through Paul and Stephen's own sites, I began to interact with an array of commentators possessing the same nerdy passion for pop. Music was all of our common ground in those days before Twitter, Facebook an Instagram. As the years have rolled by, I've even met several of these once-faceless online entities in person here and there, in cities far and wide. Hell, I work side-by-side with two of them today at Idolator, while a few others are in my pool of freelancers.

And then there's one of my very best friends for the past 20 years, John Hamilton (you know him as Moogaboo) — I've dragged the poor guy over to Chart Rigger to take part in countless gems such as Madonna: Banterview With The Vampyre, best lists, worst lists and even our infamous Hillary Clinton Mixtape. For that he deserves to be sainted.

So this brings us back to the original question: How exactly do you sum up ten years? In this case, I'm doing so with a little help from my friends.

To commemorate this classy milestone, I asked the below online personalities, all of whom I first connected with a decade or nearly a decade ago (save for John...see above), to give their unfiltered answers to a short set of specific questions. Some of them have gone on to actually work in the music business since the previous decade, or pursue writing professionally, or seek out an entirely different path altogether. But they are people I myself, and maybe you, remember as the champions of good pop in a thing that, not so long ago, was called the "blogosphere."

In alphabetical order:

Adem Ali (Audio Out, @AdemWithAnE)
Bobby Pop (Don't Stop The Pop, @Bobbypop)
Bradley Stern (MuuMuse / Idolator, @MuuMuse)
Dan Cullinan (This Man's World, @dancpharmd)
Jason Brady (Olga Loves Yuri, @olgalovesyuri)
Jessica Poptastic (This Must Be Pop, @Poptastic
John Hamilton (Chart Rigger, @foreverhamilton)
John Hill (Pop Music Notes, @ConstantLearnin)
Mike Sturm (Mobius News Blog, @SAWPWL
Mike Wass (Pop Trash Addicts / Idolator, @mikewassmusic)
Paul Reynolds (My Fizzy Pop, @myfizzypop)
Phil Robinson (Worrapolava, @phileastend)
Richard Chapman (RichardPchapman.com, @richardpchapman)
Stephen Sears (The Middle Eight, @xolondon) 

...and, of course, yours truly: Robbie Daw (Chart Rigger / Idolator, @chartrigger)

So pull up a chair, pour a glass (or, if you're like me on any given night, the entire bottle) and settle in for  Chart Rigger's 10-Year Anniversary Round Table!
Read more »

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Shayne Ward's 'Closer': See The Tracklist For The Mike Stock-Produced Album

In case you've not been paying attention to the goings-on with Closer, the upcoming fourth studio album by one of pop's hottest pieces of tail Shayne Ward, here's a quick catch-up: The album has been entirely produced by pop luminary Mike Stock, onetime member of former British hit-making production trio Stock Aitken Waterman, and is being funded via PledgeMusic. That said, not only has the goal for Closer been met, Shayne's fans keep pouring in cash and now the whole damn thing is at 171%!

While Ward's album was originally due out in February, the release date got pushed late last year to April 13. Kind of a downer, but here's some good news: Over the past 10 days, one song title at a time was revealed. Yesterday brought the final one, so here now is the full tracklist:

1. Moving Target
2. My Heart Would Take You Back
3. I Never Said
4. The Way You Were
5. Too Much To Lose
6. Crying, Lying Eyes
7. I'm So Proud Of You
8. Make It Simple
9. Fake
10. I Let You Get Away

Given the Mike Stock connection, there may be speculation among PWL fanatics that "I'm So Proud Of You" is a cover of "So Proud Of You," a 1991 dance-pop number by former Yell! member Paul Varney that was produced by SAW.

I'll go out on a limb and predict that it's not — I mean, it's a great early '90s sugary house jam, but "So Proud Of You" flopped spectacularly upon release (only making it to #105 on the UK singles chart).

Also, there are only so many phrases to be used in song titles and lyrics. Just ask Kylie, who seems content to reuse "Love At First Sight" and "Right Here, Right Now" over and over again.

Hey-o, look at that — two more SAW references for you, kiddos!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Chart Rigger 10-Year Anniversary Playlist: 20 Best Pop Singles From 2005 To 2014

Good god, somehow this ultra-classy corner of the Internet called Chart Rigger has been online for 10 years, as of yesterday (January 22). It's hard to fathom that I've been typing this trash out for a full decade (or that you've been reading it), and I actually have a lot more to say on the subject — there's a very special, somewhat large project I have coming, possibly tomorrow, possibly on Monday, to commemorate the occasion.

But until then, I thought I'd share the below anniversary playlist of 20 songs I whipped up on Spotify. It's actually all of mine and Moogaboo's picks for the #1 and #2 best singles of the year from our annual list each December, beginning with the top two choices in 2005 (#1 being Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and #2 being — wait for it — Kelly Osbourne's "One Word") up through 2014 (#1 was Clean Bandit's "Rather Be" and #2 was Nick Jonas' "Jealous").

I think these 20 songs actually make for a nice soundtrack to the past decade. I hope you enjoy!

And thanks again so much for reading my twisted takes on pop each day over the past 10 years. Like I said, there's a special feature I'm putting together for the occasion, so stay tuned!

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Jess Glynne's "Hold My Hand" Deserves To Be A Big Hit

It feels like Jess Glynne is incapable of releasing a bad song at this point. Her collaborative Clean Bandit smash "Rather Be" topped Chart Rigger's 10 Best Pop Singles Of 2014 list in December, and "My Love," Glynne's pair-up with Route 94, also made it into the same roundup. And let's not forget her follow-up showing on Clean Bandit's "Real Love," which made it to #2 on the UK chart late last year, or Jess' own debut single "Right Here," produced by Gorgon City.

Following up with all of that, Glynne's second proper single outside of all the features is "Hold My Hand," and solid house-pop number that instantly feels like a hit. It's a bit more pop than house, but there's a nice balance of both here.

"Hold My Hand" has a release date of March 23.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do" Enters The Top 40 & Now There's A Video

Do we care at all about Kelly Clarkson's new, Jimmy Eat World-ripping single "Heartbeat Song"? It's a question I'm still trying to answer for myself. I heard it on the radio when I was at Midtown Comics on Monday, and I guess it sounded okay in that context — background noise in a store full of geeks. But at the end of the day, "Heartbeat Song" is no "My Life Would Suck Without You"...or even "Catch My Breath," for that matter.

At any rate, Kelly's latest debuts this week at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100. Top debut honors go to Maroon 5, whose third V single "Sugar" goes straight in at #8. To be honest, living in a world where Maroon 5 have had eight consecutive Top 10 hits (and 11 overall) makes me want to jam a 12-guage flare gun in my mouth and pull the trigger.

Naturally, this brings us to Ellie Goulding and "Love Me Like You Do," her contribution to the Shit Sex Book, Even Shittier Movie soundtrack. (In some circles, that trash is referred to as Fifty Shades Of Grey.) The song jumps into the Top 40, at #36, and now there's a music video for us all to Barbie Doll-leg ourselves to.

I like this song. It's maybe what Kelly Clarkson should have aimed for this time around. But she chose to work with Greg Kurstin and Kara DioGuardi and Ellie went with Max Martin. So there you have it.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *3 weeks*
2. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
3. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
4. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
5. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
6. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
7. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
8. "Sugar" - Maroon 5 *new*
9. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
10. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

HBO's 'Looking' Is Just A Bad Show, But...

So my January-to-March TV watching includes Looking, which is a really, really bland show that I sometimes feel is more about nothing than Seinfeld ever was, but it somehow, at the last minute each week, manages to show some stylistic flourish — maybe it's a music choice, or the set design, or the credit treatment — that makes me think, Well, okay — I'll tune in to this trash just one more time.

Anyway, this past week's episode, the second one of the second season, had a whole bit where the Russell Tovey character (Kevin) confessed to Jonathan Groff's character (Patrick) that he had a crush on Take That whilst while growing up.

There's even a whole self-aware exchange about how the boy band weren't so big here in the States. Later, Patrick sheds his embarrassment and shows Kevin his tweenage Take That "Do What U Like" dance.

Here's Take That's "Do What U Like" video — the uncensored one where they wear a bunch of leather and then get mops jammed up their naked butts after rubbing whipped cream all over themselves.

Looking showrunner Andrew Haigh also did the infinitely more watchable 2010 flick Weekend.

By the way, the final moments of this past week's Looking episode also had Pet Shop Boys' "Thursday" playing in the background.

See what I mean? It's those last minute hooks that keep you coming back...

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My Ella Henderson Interview

As the headline suggests, I interviewed "Ghost" singer Ella Henderson (back in December), and our full chat was published last week right here.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's Giorgio Moroder & Kylie Minogue's "Right Here, Right Now"!

For the record, Giorgio Moroder and Kylie Minogue's "Right Here, Right Now," the first song we've heard from iconic dance music producer Giorgio's upcoming 74 Is The New 24 album (out in the spring from RCA), is a jam.

No, it's not going to change the pop game. But the song is bright and breezy house-disco that's charming enough to warm even the coldest of hearts in the winter time. Awww.

ALSO for the record, "Right Here, Right Now" has nothing to do with Kylie's same-titled album track off her 1991 Rhythm Of Love LP — but that is a damn fine jam, too.

Giorgio and Kylie's "Right Here, Right Now" is available now on US iTunes.

If you're interested, you can read my interview with Moroder from two years ago here, and my interview with Minogue from last February here.

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The Guy In Jimmy Napes' "Give It Up" Video Is Hot, But Where's Jimmy Napes?

You may recall me recently rambling about the proper outing as a pop star for Jimmy Napes, the British songwriter behind Disclosure's "Latch," Sam Smith's "I'm Not The Only One" and Clean Bandit's "Rather Be." His song "Give It Up" previews his upcoming EP, and now we have a music video for the funky track (which is produced by Howard from Disclosure).

The visual itself isn't really what I was expecting — it's one of these "artist is nowhere to be seen" affairs that tells the story of some random guy (pictured above) who has a drug addiction, is spiralling out of control, etc. etc. How very Sia of Jimmy.

At the very least, the guy has a nice mouth. And the track is still pretty rad.


Watch Charli XCX & Rita Ora's Skin-Filled "Doing It" Video

I liked Charli XCX from the get-go. My favorite jam off her debut LP in 2013 was not one of the singles, but album track "Take My Hand." For a moment I liked "Fancy" last year, before it became pounded into all of our eardrums relentlessly. In 2012, her Icona Pop collab "I Love It" topped Chart Rigger's 10 Best Pop Singles roundup for that year. And I still like "Boom Clap."

All of that said, her Sucker album, released in December, has passed me by so far. I guess I'll chalk it up to being way too busy with holiday shit to take notice of it. (And given its #28 debut on the Billboard 200, and the fact that it quickly dropped after that, I guess I'm not alone there.)

At any rate, her video for "Doing It," now with Rita Ora slapped on the second verse, premiered today, and it's quite a fun visual that matches perfectly with an equally enjoyable song.

I don't really know what, if much Rita adds to the mix, but I guess it brings the whole Iggy/Charli/Rita thing full circle — so yay for that?

PS Love all the tits and ass in this vid, both male and female. We need more over the top sex to be added into pop music. Oh, wait...

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Madonna's 'Rebel Heart' Tracklist Is A Horror

Lo, fair mortals, for The Wycked Vampyre hath propped open the weather-worn lid of her sarcophagus and unleashed photos of her undead boobs!

She also revealed to the trembling planet her tracklist for upcoming album Rebel Heart (via iTunes), and if I had to narrow it down to a single gripe, it's that "Borrowed Time," the best of the songs from the first batch of demos that leaked in mid-December, did not make the cut. But at least Mike Tyson has a feature.

Nineteen other songs are represented here, however, so yay for fangs and garlic and coffins and tits...and Mike Tyson.

1. Living for Love
2. Devil Pray
3. Ghosttown
4. Unapologetic Bitch
5. Illuminati
6. Bitch I’m Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj)
7. Hold Tight
8. Joan of Arc
9. Iconic (feat. Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson)
10. HeartBreakCity
11. Body Shop
12. Holy Water
13. Inside Out
14. Wash All Over Me
15. Best Night
16. Veni Vedi Vici (feat. Nas)
17. S.E.X.
18. Messiah
19. Rebel Heart


It's Years & Years' "King" Video

I was absolutely here for Years & Years' previous single, "Desire," a UK Top 30 hit that saw the group exploring a more house sound. But their new one, "King" (out March 1), feels like the trio's first proper moment.

They're still a bit housey here, but "King" leans a bit more toward straight-up synth-pop. By all rights, this dreamy gem should be the song that blows Years & Years up big.


If You Didn't Buy That Donna Summer 'Another Place And Time' Reissue, You Should Get On That

My belated two cents on this one...

As far as reissues go, you could do infinitely worse than the one for Donna Summer's 1989 foray into PWL land, Another Place And Time. It's the album that gave the world her last true chart hit, "This Time I Know It's For Real," and wound up being the single greatest start-to-finish LP Stock Aitken Waterman had their hands in.

The reissue was released in December. The crown jewel here is Pete Hammond's Original 12" Mix of "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt."

The song itself opens the proper LP, and was always a complete gem in its album version form. For whatever reason, it was given a single remix for radio in 1989 that watered down a lot of the high-energy flourishes found in the album version. Hammond's unreleased original mix, however, punches up every heavenly aspect of said version.

Anyway, the whole things is a masterpiece, from "Whatever Your Heart Desires" — a song that got thrown around a few times in the PWL stable, but never turned out as good as when Donna did it — to "Love's About To Change My Heart."

You really should own this if you don't.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Sophia Grace Brownlee, 11, Is The New Queen Of Pop

The is week number two for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, with little shuffling going on in the rest of the Top 10. A bit lower, however, we see Sia debut at #17 with "Elastic Heart," which is now her second Top 20 single in less than a year (and overall in the US). She'll probably keep climbing if her weekend performance on Saturday Night Live goes well tomorrow.

Further down, 2012 X Factor UK contestant Ella Henderson finally cracks the Top 40 with "Ghost" as the song jumps 13 positions to #28. Her debut album Chapter One was released overseas in November, and hit American shores on Tuesday. (Also, I posted my interview with Ella over on Idolator this past Monday, so be sure to go marvel at that.)

All of this brings us to glamourous new chart goddess Sophia Grace Brownlee, a pre-teen Brit you may recall from four years back when she and her young cousin Rosie uploaded a YouTube cover of Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" that went viral. Ellen DeGeneres subsequently had the two mini divas on her show about 7,462 times between 2011 and 2012, which I wrote about each and every time on Idolator, and now Sophia is a full grown 11-year-old with a #87 smash on the Hot 100 called "Best Friends."

The video has gotten over 5 million views since it premiered last week. And it even has the ubiquitous Beats By Dre product placement in it.

"Best Friends" is seriously my new jam. All hail Amazing Grace.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *2 weeks*
2. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
5. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
6. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
7. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
8. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande & The Weeknd
9. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
10. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kelly Clarkson's New Single "Heartbeat Song" Sounds Like Jimmy Eats World's "The Middle"

Kelly Clarkson's upcoming album is titled Piece By Piece, and it will apparently be out in March. Ahead of that, we now have single "Heartbeat Song."

If it sounds a bit familiar, well, that's probably because of this 2001 chestnut, which eventually reached the Top 10 around the time when Kelly was a contestant on American Idol:

Surely she was aware the above song existed? If not, I wonder if she'll throw a Ryan Tedder/"Already Gone"-like fit when she realizes?


Take That's "Get Ready For It" Video: Secret Service DILFs Look Spiffy

The three current members of Take That are looking quite dapper in their video for "Get Ready For It," the second single off III which doubles as a soundtrack contribution to the film Kingsman: The Secret Service (out in theaters January 29 in the UK and February 13 in the States). Basically what you get here is Gary, Howard and Mark in nice suits while scenes from the movie flash by.

Typically in the modern era, the second single of a Take That album doesn't fare as well as the first one (unless we go back to 2007 when "Shine" followed up "Patience" by also going to #1 in the UK). So the pressure is on to see how this song does after the chart-topping performance of "These Days."

At any rate...get ready for it!


Thursday, January 08, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars Are #1, But Everything Comes Back To JoJo

Thank fucking Christ for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars knocking Taylor Swift off the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It's a new year, and good riddance to "Blank Space."

Now let's see — what did I say about "Uptown Funk" when it premiered back in November?
[It's] a slice of Prince-channeling-James-Brown soul that's not exactly "Locked Out Of Heaven," but still pretty decent.
Okay, sure. Honestly, compared to "Blank Space," it might as well be JoJo's "Too Little Too Late," i.e. The Greatest Song Every Recorded In The History Of Pop.

Speaking of that classic, hang tight for something fun coming up with Chart Rigger's upcoming 10th anniversary!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *1 week*
2. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
5. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
6. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
7. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
8. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
9. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
10. "Animals" - Maroon 5

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It's Sia's "Elastic Heart" Video

Sia's "Elastic Heart" video comes about 15 months after the song first appeared on the soundtrack for the second Hunger Games film — i.e. two Hunger Games movies ago — but who's keeping track?

Now with The Weeknd's vocals stripped out, the song's video keeps with Sia's current tradition of staying away from the camera. Instead, a grimy-looking Shia LaBoeuf and Maddie Ziegler (the little girl from the "Chandelier" video) do some interpretive dance inside a giant cage.

The ending is a tear-jerker that just might symbolize Sia's own inner conflict over her pop stardom...or it might just be button-pushing bullshit...and while it's perhaps more of the same after "Chandelier," that doesn't detract from the fact that it's still powerful stuff.


Jimmy Napes Steps Out With Single "Give It Up," Produced By Howard From Disclosure

You had to know this was coming. British songwriter extraordinaire James Napier, aka Jimmy Napes, is finally taking his stab at pop stardom in his own right with an upcoming EP. The first offering from that is Jimmy's debut single "Give It Up," which was produced by Howard from Disclosure. I'm not sure which of the two Howard is from that duo, because they look like an indiscernible twink sandwich if you ask me.

Anyway, you know Jimmy Napes from his songwriting for Clean Bandit ("Rather Be," Chart Rigger's top pick for 2014's best pop singles), Sam Smith ("Stay With Me") and Gorgon City ("Unmissable"). He also had a hand in writing on one of my favorite albums of last year, Mary J. Blige's The London Sessions.

The good news is that "Give It Up" is pretty great. It's a slow and slinky synth-R&B number that sounds a bit like 2013 Disclosure x Sam Smith x Jimmy Napes x Nile Rodgers collaboration "Together." Imagine that.

A press release notes that Napes' EP is coming in "early 2015" via Method Records.

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Kiesza On The Cover Of 'Citizen K' Magazine

I would like to have this in my hands very much.


Sunday, January 04, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Philip George Whips Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" Into A House Hit

Grab a Motown classic, speed up the vocals and slap it over a house beat — et voila, you have Philip George's "Wish You Were Mine."

The Stevie Wonder-sampling single debuts at #2 this week on the UK chart, benefiting from the January doldrums when not much new music is seeing the light of day just yet.

Sacrilege or brilliance? You decide.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *3 weeks*
2. "Wish You Were Mine" - Philip George *new*
3. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
4. "Something I Need" - Ben Haenow
5. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
6. "Up" - Olly Murs feat. Demi Lovato
7. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
8. "These Days" - Take That
9. "Heroes (We Could Be)" - Alesso feat. Tove Lo
10. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier

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Marina And The Diamonds And I Are Finally Seeing Eye-To-Eye With Her Upcoming 'Froot'

Around the time when Marina Diamandis released her first LP in 2010, The Family Jewels, I was going through some major life upheaval. It was my final days of living in Los Angeles. And so that album kind of passed me by.

Two years later, along came Marina's sophomore effort Electra Heart, which was when I was in the midst of living briefly in Dallas, and so life for me was even more of an abyss of despair. Again, I missed out on taking in that album — although I did get into it at the tail-end of her tour, when she hit up Central Part here in NYC in spring of 2013 (where I had moved to by that point).

I liked much of Electra Heart, but I didn't fully connect with the album. And so that brings us to Froot, Marina's upcoming third album, which is due out on April 5. Maybe it's the fact that she worked with one producer on this one (David Kosten), or that I'm finally free and clear of personal relocation drama enough to take in Marina with open arms, but there's something pretty wonderful about the three tracks released so far.

Marina's plan is to release a song a month during the lead-up to Froot, and so far we've gotten the title track, "Happy" and "Immortal." Personally, "Happy" is my favorite. It's got the perfect blend of chilly melancholy and hope wrapped into it, no?

Her latest, "Immortal," just goes straight for melancholy, as Marina contemplates life and the time we have on this trying planet. Best line: "No, I don't want to be afraid, afraid of dying, I just want to be able to say that I have lived life."

Deep stuff that's perfect for the dead of winter. Bring on the April thaw.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Fifth Harmony Finally Crack The Top 40, Plus 2014's Best-Selling Singles

Third time has proved to be a charm for vyxyn troupe Fifth Harmony, who finally cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 this week with single number three. The Meghan Trainor co-write "Sledgehammer" climbs to #40 in its fifth week on the chart, besting the #76 and #43 positions of 5H's respective previous singles, "Miss Movin' On" and "BO$$".

To be honest, it's their best effort to-date, so well done, dolls.

The rest of the chart remains pretty stagnant this week, so why not take a look at what wound up being the 10 best-selling singles of 2014:

* "Happy" - Pharrell Williams (6.45 million downloads)
* "All Of Me" - John Legend (4.67 million)
* "Dark Horse" - Katy Perry feat. Juicy J (4.43 million)
* "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor (4.36 million)
* "Fancy" - Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX (3.97 million)
* "Talk Dirty" - Jason Derulo feat. 2 Chainz (3.96 million)
* "Turn Down For What" - DJ Snake & Lil Jon (3.45 million)
* "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift (3.43 million)
* "Let It Go" - Idina Menzel (3.37 million)
* "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith (3.34 million)

And below is this week's Top 10. Have a grand New Year's Day!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *7 weeks*
2. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
5. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
6. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
7. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
8. "Animals" - Maroon 5
9. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
10. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas

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