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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Danielle Jane Minogue Is Returning To Music!

2015 finally got interesting this week as news of Dannii Minogue's impending return to music was confirmed by none other than the Aussie pop queen herself! Next month Kylie's sister is scheduled to perform at Sydney Mardi Gras, along with Nick Jonas, Jake Shears and Betty Who. So basically this is going to be the musical comeback of the century.

“I’ve been wanting to do music for ages but something was holding me back,” D. Minogue said in a new Australian interview. “Now I feel really settled. I feel like I’m in a personal space where I can do it and it’s going to be fun. Physically I’m really well right now, I had all these health issues in the last few years, I just want to get out there and enjoy it. Mardi Gras makes sense. I just have to brush off the dust and get back out there.”

Dannii hasn't released a studio album since 2003's Neon Nights — which, in hindsight, is pretty much one of the finest pop classics of the new millennium. Some one-off singles, the 2006 Hits & Beyond collection, album reissues and umpteen stints on shows like The X Factor UK and Australia's Got Talent followed, but all Dannii's horde of faithful fans have wanted all these years is a new fucking album!

Anyway, in the interview, she goes on and on and on about Mardi Gras, then offers this non-answer about her plans for the rest of the year: "I have to make decisions on a lot of things but I don’t want to think of anything else except Mardi Gras right now."

That said, the writeup points out that she's been quietly recording music for two years: “When I used to sing when [my son] Ethan was really little he’d go ‘Mum, stop’ so I just didn’t sing. He’s only heard my new stuff, he’s in the know with all that. There’s a duet I’ve written that is really badass funky that he loves.”

Take a hike, Beyonce. You're about to be made irrelevant. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Kiddin's "Always There" Is A Warm House Delight For A Cold February Day

Just Kiddin are a UK house duo who haven't gained the prominence just yet of, say, Disclosure or Gorgon City, but they've been releasing a steady, solid array of jams like "Feel Better" and last fall's "Thinking About It."

The pair are back with "Always There," one half of their upcoming two-track release "Getaway/Always There," which is due out March 2. It's a dreamy dance gem, the kind that usually comes along this frosty time of year and conjures up magical images of more summery days ahead.


Calvin Harris' Bulge, For Emporio Armani

Calvin Harris is the new face and crotch of Emporio Armani's spring and summer 2015 line. That means we get photos like these...which are much better than his musical output lately.

Calvin Harris bulges in underwear for Emporio Armani


Sunday, February 15, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Kylie's First Three Albums Re-Enter The Album Chart

In case you didn't know, the Cherry Red label, quite adept at whipping up reissued and remastered albums, recently put together some pretty impressive collectors' edition box sets for Kylie Minogue's four PWL albums: Kylie (1988), Enjoy Yourself (1989), Rhythm Of Love (1990) and Let's Get To It (1991).
Personally, if I'm to be honest, I bought all this stuff remastered back in 1999 (all the remixes) on those Aussie remix CDs that come in four volumes, and then again in 2009 when a huge slew of the PWL stuff was thrown onto iTunes. So at first I was all, fuck splashing out the $92 (yep, that's what the 59.99 pounds converts to, kids) for each of these box sets, PLUS the $77 for shipping...
...and then I started seeing all the photos people were tweeting when they received the box sets this past week (they were released on February 9), and feeling quite envious. I mean, the vinyl picture discs alone...!
So, yeah, I totally ordered the first two. And then I figure once I build up the courage to take a hacksaw and remove my left arm and sell it on the black market, I'll rake over the cash for Rhythm Of Love and Let's Get To It.
At any rate, Kylie re-entered the UK album chart this week at #85, while Enjoy Yourself went back in at #94 and Rhythm Of Love showed up again at #96.

Turn it into love, bitchface.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding *2 weeks*
2. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
3. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
4. "Gravity" - DJ Fresh feat. Ella Eyre *new*
5. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney 
6. "Ayo" - Chris Brown & Tyga *new*
7. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
8. "Doing It" - Charli XCX feat. Rita Ora *new*
9. "The Nights" - Avicii
10. "Earned It" - The Weeknd

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shayne Ward's 'Closer' Album: Listen To Extended Song Clips, See The Deluxe Edition Tracklist

Okay, so here's everything you need to know so far about Shayne Ward's upcoming album Closer (out April 13), which is produced by Mike Stock:

1. Mike Stock was obviously one third of the legendary Stock Aitken Waterman pop production team. This past week, I got Shayne to rattle off his five favorite SAW songs (including two by Sybil!) and give a few anecdotes on each. Check that out over at Idolator.

2. There are now song snippets available online for each of the 10 tracks on the standard edition of Closer. You can hear them at Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, etc. and each of those channels' clips pulls from different parts of the song. But by far, the lengthiest clips are the ones in the below YouTube video put together by a Vietnamese fan of the singer's.

Early personal favorites: "Moving Target," "The Way You Were," "I'm So Proud Of You" and "Fake."

3. Shayne revealed the extra tracks that will appear on the deluxe edition of Closer this week on Instagram. Basically, there's one more original song ("Rendezvous, The Place I Love"), two covers (Sugababes' "About You Now" and Alexander O' Neal's "If You Were Here Tonight"), an acoustic version of "No Promises" (a #2 UK hit for Ward in 2006), a remix of the album's lead single "My Heart Would Take You Back" and "voice memo" versions of "My Heart Would Take You Back," "Make It Simple" and "Moving Target."

So the full deluxe edition tracklist for Closer is as follows:

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
11.  Rendezvous, The Place I Love
12. About You Now
13. If You Were Here Tonight
14. No Promises (Acoustic)
15. My Heart Would Take You Back (JRMX Club Mix)
16. My Heart Would Take You Back (Voice Memo)
17. Make It Simple (Voice Memo)
18. Moving Target (Voice Memo)

Ironically, "About You Now" was released the same week as Shayne's double A-side Breathless single "No U Hang Up/If That's OK With You" back in 2007, and Sugababes thus took the top spot on the UK chart and kept Ward stuck at #2. 

And finally...

4. The video for first single "My Heart Would Take You Back" is being shot in London on February 25.

PS Closer, which is being funded through PledgeMusic, is now at 195% of of it's goal. A hundred and nintey-five percent! There's your retirement money, Shayne...or at least enough to go on a lost-weekend hooker bender some time.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 12, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Missy Works It (Again), Rihanna, Kanye & Paul Accomplish A Lot

First up, the non-Rihanna related chart news this week: Following her sexy cameo during Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime show performance the other Sunday, Missy Elliott sees two of her classic jams re-enter the Billboard Hot 100. The first, at #35, is 2002 single "Work It," a song that originally peaked at #2. Next we have "Get Ur Freak On" at #40. That Timbaland-produced number climbed to #7 in 2001.

Meanwhile, Ellie Goulding's Shit Sex Book, Even Shittier Movie soundtrack song didn't take too long to crack the Top 10. While "Love Me Like You Do" is currently #1 in the UK, it slides up to #9 this week, marking her second Top 10 single in the States (after #2 hit "Lights"), her third Top 20 single as a lead artist ("Burn" made it to #13) and fourth Top 20 single overall (she featured on Calvin Harris' "I Need Your Love," which peaked at #16).

That all brings us to Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney's "FourFiveSeconds." It flew up to #6 this week, and thus signals a slew of achievements for each of those hoes involved. Normally, I'd list out said feats in some sassy manner, but I'm feeling extremely under the weather, so forgive me for pulling a rare, naughty trick and simply copying and pasting what I wrote on Idolator yesterday:

"FourFiveSeconds" is now...

:: Paul McCartney’s first solo (meaning non-Beatles and non-Wings) Top 10 hit in the States in 29 years. His last one was 1986’s “Spies Like Us,” from the Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd film of the same name.

:: Paul McCartney’s first solo Top 40 hit in the States in 26 years. Macca last dented the upper region of the Hot 100 in 1989, with the Elvis Costello co-write “My Brave Face.”

:: Paul McCartney’s highest-charting solo single in the States in 31 years, since his rather fantastic 1984 Give My Regards To Broad Street soundtrack ballad “No More Lonely Nights” peaked at #6. Dig that David Gilmour guitar work!

:: Paul McCartney’s overall highest-charting single in the States in roughly 20 years. Prior to this, The Beatles’ Anthology singles “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” peaked at #6 (1995) and #11 (1996), respectively.

:: Paul McCartney’s highest-charting non-Beatles collaboration in the States since 1983, when Michael Jackson pair-up “Say Say Say” went to #1.

:: Kanye West’s highest-charting overall single in four years, when he featured on Katy Perry’s 2011 chart-topper “E.T.”

:: Kanye West’s highest-charting single as a lead artist in four years, when he and Jay Z’s “Niggas In Paris” climbed to #5.

:: Kanye West’s third collaboration with Rihanna to land in the Top 20. Previously, “Run This Town” (also with Jay Z) made it to #2 in 2009 while “All Of The Lights” peaked at #18 in 2011.

:: Kanye West’s second collaboration with Paul McCartney to make the Top 40 in 2015. Prior to “FourFiveSeconds,” the Rihanna-less “Only One” charted at #35.

:: Rihanna’s 21st Top 10 single as a lead artist.

:: Rihanna’s 26h Top 10 single overall, including her features on T.I.’s “Live Your Life” (2008), Jay Z’s “Run This Town” (2009), Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” (2010 ) and “The Monster” (2013), and Drake’s “Take Care” (2012).

:: Rihanna’s highest-charting collaboration since early last year, when the Grammy-winning “The Monster” with Eminem climbed to #1.

:: Rihanna’s third collaboration to hang out in the Top 40 over the past 12 months. In addition to “The Monster,” her duet with Shakira, “Can’t Remember To Forget You,” slinked its way to #15 in 2014.

:: Rihanna’s highest-charting single as a lead artist since “Stay” peaked at #3 in 2013.

:: Rihanna’s eighth of eight lead singles to land in the Top 10. Prior to this, “Pon de Replay” peaked at #2 (2005), “SOS” peaked at #1 (2006), “Umbrella” peaked at #1 (2007), “Russian Roulette” peaked at #9 (2009), “Only Girl In The World” peaked at #1 (2010), “We Found Love” peaked at #1 (2011) and “Diamonds” peaked at #1 (2012).

:: Last but not least, “FourFiveSeconds” marks an impressive 10 years of Rihanna in the Top 10 — a stretch that began way back in 2005 with “Pon de Replay,” the lead single from her debut LP Music Of The Sun.

And there you have it.
The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *6 weeks*
2. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
5. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
6. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
7. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
8. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
9. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
10. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jimmy Napes' "The Making Of Me" Is A House-Pop Delight

Jimmy Napes is on a roll with the songs from his upcoming The Making Of Me EP. The British songwriter, who won four Grammys on Sunday for his work with Sam Smith and Clean Bandit, has followed up funky R&B-pop number "Give It Up" with the housey title song from his four-track release.

It's not moving pop miles ahead by any means, but "The Making Of Me," if anything, finds Napes sticking to his winning formula and cranking out another shiny strobelight gem in the process.


Calvin Harris And Haim's "Pray To God" Video Should Properly Freak You Out

I used to really love Calvin Harris' musical output, and that all changed with this past album, whateveritscalled. I bought his first two CDs on import as soon as they were released, in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and also picked up his third, hit-packed one, 18 Months, domestically, as he'd become quite a pop force in America by that point.

But by the time his fourth album rolled around, Calvin went from being the scruffy-cute Scottish kid who looked like he'd just rolled out of bed to something of a perceived pop lothario, content with banging models and strippers on yachts and in racing cars and on jets. Sure, "Summer" was a decent track and a huge hit. But most of this last album sunk beneath the weight of Calvin's penchant for bland, passed-its-sell-by-date EDM trappings.

Anyway, one of the three good tracks on the set is the Haim pair-up "Pray To God." The song finds the Grammy nominees singing atop a blatant Stevie Nicks "Edge Of Seventeen" riff, and its accompanying music video sees the trio paying homage to said Iconic Witch, via their acts of sorcery and shawl-twirling. Hell, there are even white-winged doves in there!

It's a super creepy video, and one that will no doubt get raked over the coals for its heavy usage of animals...but an interesting watch, nonetheless.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My John Carpenter Interview

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I'm a huge horror buff. Growing up as a pre-teen kid in the '80s, the movies made by John CarpenterHalloween, The Fog, The Thing, Prince Of Darkness, They Live, etc. — scared the living fuck out of me when they'd come on TV. And a large part of their potency was the electronic scores Carpenter himself provided to each film.

Cut to this past fall, when it was announced that the director would be releasing his first album, titled Lost Themes — not because it's newly discovered music from some shelved horror flick, but rather because it's atmospheric tracks that simply sound like they belong in some lost, creepy Carpenter epic.

I jumped at the chance to interview John, one of my childhood heroes, for Idolator. Lost Themes was released last week, and you can catch my chat with him here.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Week That Was: February 8, 2015

Late last week, I took up brief residence in glamourous Los Angeles (I miss that city so!) for my birthday weekend!

It started off as a downer of a week — my grandfather passed away last Monday, so I was back in Pennsylvania for three days. He lived a very long 90 years, so my family and I just focused on the fact that he had a lucky, full life.

Some things that I didn't get to touch up on while I was off the grid:

Madonna's video for "Living For Love" premiered. Good stuff, and a vast improvement over trash like "Turn Up The Radio" and anything from Hard Candy.

Likewise, Madonna's full Rebel Heart album leaked — more on that ambitious, oddball epic when I've got the strength and energy — and she performed "Living For Love" at the Grammys with the aid of shirtles, bull-horned backup dancers and a sturdy guide track.

Speaking of the Grammys, the only award handed out this time around that a.) didn't go to Sam Smith, and 3.) I gave a fuck about was Best Dance Recording, which went to Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne for "Rather Be."

"Rather Be" topped Chart Rigger's 10 Best Pop Singles Of 2014 list, so I was really rooting for this jam to take the only Grammy award it was up for.

Other music videos that premiered last week:

Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney's "FourFiveSeconds." I kind of like this song, though Kanye can permanently fuck off to fucksville.

Giorgio Moroder and Kylie Minogue's "Right Here, Right Now." I want this song to be bigger than it is.

Kelly Clarkson's "Heartbeat Song." Sigh. It's really heard to decide whether this one is good or just super dull. That's a shame, since Kelly usually knocks it out of the park. Here's hoping there's a "Since U Been Gone" or at least a "Stronger" lying in wait on Piece By Piece.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, February 08, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Ellie Goulding Nabs Second #1 With "Love Me Like You Do"

I really liked Ellie Goulding's first album Lights when it arrived five years ago. But in that time, I moved from Los Angeles to Dallas to New York City, while Ellie moved from edgy British pop artist to American crossover star to total snooze pop shill.

And so that brings us to Goulding's Shit Sex Book, Even Shittier Movie soundtrack song "Love Me Like You Do." It's a nice return to the more understated synth leanings from Ellie's days of yore. The single debuts at #1 in the UK this week, marking her second chart-topper (after "Burn") in her home country.

Here in the States, "Love Me Like You Do" is currently at #14, making it her third Top 20 single as a lead artist stateside, after "Lights" (#2) and "Burn" (#13).

The UK Top 10:

1. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding *new* *1 week*
2. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
5. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
6. "The Nights" - Avicii
7. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
8. "Outlines" - Mike Mago & Dragonette *new*
9. "Wish You Were Mine" - Philip George
10. "L.A. Love (La La)" - Fergie

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 05, 2015

US Chart Roundup: Nick Jonas Moves On From "Jealous" By Moving Back To "Chains"

So, Nick Jonas' "Jealous," currently #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, is one of the best pop singles to come along in the past year, and anyone who doesn't think so needs to staple their dick to a piece of plywood and fall out a window. Nick's label, Island, is following that one up with the same song that preceded "Jealous," however — yes, they're re-releasing "Chains."

The song didn't do much when it was initially released as the lead single off Nick's self-titled debut solo album last summer, but this time around it's debuted on the Hot 100 at #92, at least.

Below is the video for murky, synthy slow jam "Chains," which originally premiered in July 2014.

It's not a bad song by any means — there's really no filler on Nicks' pretty excellent album — but if I were in charge of these things, I'd have maybe gone with "Teacher," Demi Lovato duet "Avalanche" or even the gorgeous "Nothing Would Be Better" as the follow-up to "Jealous."

Oh, well, oh well, oh, well.

The U.S. Top 10:

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

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Kelly Clarkson's 'Piece By Piece' Album Is An Atomic Age Disaster

Oh, fuck. Here Them! come, out of some toxic 1950s atomic fallout nightmare.
And once Them! are unleashed, they'll literally eat anything in their path, like this bedspring, for instance...
Or these toy airplanes from the 99¢ Store on Fairfax....
Or — oh god!Kelly Clarkson! She's locked in Them!'s sight, and there's truly no escape. At least we'll always have this nuclear disaster ant-vision album cover for Piece By Piece to remember her by. This trash is out March 2.

1. "Heartbeat Song"
2. "Invincible"
3. "Someone"
4. "Take You High"
5. "Piece By Piece"
6. "Run Run Run" featuring John Legend
7. "I Had a Dream"
8. "Let Your Tears Fall"
9. "Tightrope"
10. "War Paint"
11. "Dance With Me"
12. "Nostalgic"
13. "Good Goes the Bye"

Deluxe edition:
14. "Bad Reputation"
15. "In the Blue"
16. "Second Wind"