Monthly Archives: December 2012

If Only… The Christmas Songs Left Off The Record (A Parody)

Wrapper's delight.

Wrapper’s delight.

Your holiday playlist may be filled with lots of Christmas standards, but unfortunately, the A&R department over at Santa’s music HQ didn’t approve these could-have-been classics. Alas, with a little bit of fun and imagination, we can remember these ten songs left on the cutting room floor.

ADELE – “Rudolph Has It”
Off her cancelled Christmas release, 25, this foot-stopper of a track, producer by Ryan Sledder, maybe just have broken up the reindeer when they found out that Rudolph was stalling the sleigh from leaving the North Pole. Bless his nose, he’s really got his head in the clouds, and this one got a head-start at being chopped off the tracklisting.

BRUNO MARS – “It Will Reindeer”
An alternative remix from the film soundtrack to Twlight: Breaking Down, in which the weight of Santa’s sleigh becomes too heavy to handle, this moody track sets the stage for a bummer of a holiday when Dominic The Donkey couldn’t join the lineup in dragging the sled full of toys. If you want a more upbeat track, check out his newest release, a frustrating romp for presents entitled “Locked Out Of Walmart”.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Coal Me Maybe”
With a hit song that was just about as catchy as the common cold, this Christmas remix about a girl who really wants her bad boy elf is enough to send her straight back to Canada. Trust me, it’s not always a good time. Better load up on the medicine.

DEMI LOVATO – “Give Your Hearth A Break”
Lovato had a starring role as a judge on The X Factor this year, but the girl needs to give it a rest with factoring in all the decorating. It’s campier than Camp Rock and that is saying something. She is certainly a Disney girl no more.

FLO RIDA – “Mistle (Toe)”
“Whistle” may have made “Ring My Bell” look tame, but “Mistle (Toe)” is ringing all the bells once again as Flo raps about the holidays in Dade County. Just watch out when the mistletoe is hanging real low, low, low, low. You’ll turn right round and that’ll be something else.

FUN. – “Some Flights”
Ever waited countless hours at the airport for the flight home for Christmas? Listen to these horrible tales from the group of crying children, no leg room and cheap programming on the overhead pull-out television. Most flight attendants, they don’t know any more. Civil War reenactment not included.

GOTYE featuring KIMBRA – “Somebody That I Used To Noel”
Talk about “The Worst Noel”. This duet, with lyrics more loaded than fruitcake, will give you a punch as hard as the three glasses of eggnog you just wolfed down. Yes, they did have to cut you off; at least the tree was trimmed already.

TAYLOR SWIFT – “We Are Never Ever Getting Ugly Sweaters”
Instead of tearing her boyfriends to pieces this holiday season, Miss Swift will have to pull out fiber by fiber her most hated Christmas gift. Even if people don’t know her fashion sense, she’s sure got a whole lot of cents to make up for it.

Bonus cuts:
KE$HA – “Do You Hurl What I Hurl?”
An annual Christmas anthem turned twisted, this hammered hit would’ve quickly compensated for all the radio stations that are dropping “Die Young”. Don’t you wanna hear what the barefoot girl said to the mighty police officer? This song’s about to blow. (I first mentioned this one on a blog last year.)

ROD STEWART – “Da Ya Think I’m Santa?”
He makes a whole album of Christmas songs and he can’t even sing this gem? From the top album of the season, this track, marrying the disco strings of the late 1970’s with a children’s choir, would’ve been the dance hit that ruled the airwaves. Unfortunately, he’ll have to settle for another round of “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” for a few more days. Bah humbug.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this look back at these songs that will never happen, but hey, maybe a little wishful thinking and a letter to ol’ Saint Nick could help the process along a bit. You’ll be seeing many of these titles, in regular form, of course, on my year-end chart, being posted right here on the blog starting tomorrow. Until then, happy shopping! (Merry Christmas, too.)

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Going For Gold: The Justice Collective Bring In “Heavy” Sales

A #1 single isn't "impossible."

A #1 single isn’t “impossible.”

Once again, the year flew by and the end of it is here again, which means there’s a massive competition brewing for the #1 single in the United Kingdom this week, traditionally dubbed The Christmas Chart as it falls just before the national holiday on Tuesday. Of course, that country’s Singles Chart is fully determined by sales, whereas our Billboard Hot 100 takes in multiple aspects (airplay, sales, streaming), so a digital release won’t always rise to the top; thus, artists lead big campaigns in order to secure the title. This year, however, isn’t looking as crazy overall as in many past years. Last week, X Factor winner James Arthur sold nearly 500,000 copies of his debut single, a cover of Shontelle‘s “Impossible”, which easily gave him the #1 spot. It is now the fastest selling single of the year. Proceeds from Arthur’s single are going to Together For Short Lives, a U.K.-based children’s charity for young ones with life-threatening conditions. However, another charity single has emerged with a slight lead over Arthur and may just deny him of a second week at the top of the charts.

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a remake of the old The Hollies tune which became a top ten hit here in the States back in 1970. It was also a #3 hit on the other side of the pond. This version is done by The Justice Collective, benefitting charities associated with the Hillsborough Disaster, a 1989 tragedy in which 96 people were killed in a giant stampede in order to gain entrance to Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. Back in September, an independent panel reviewing the incident stated that nearly half of the victims that lost their lives on that day could have been saved had the police presence not neglected to calm the crowd, who toppled over one another when a barrier broke loose. This charity effort was intended to help cover the legal costs of those families who wanted justice from losing a family member or members during the event. Quite a few musicians were recruited for the effort, including a few we know here in the U.S., like Melanie C of the Spice Girls, Paloma Faith, Paul McCartney (who also plays electric guitar), Rebecca Ferguson, Robbie Williams and several members of The Hollies themselves. It was recorded in October and a music video featuring the recording sessions was premiered two weeks ago. Instrumentally, it stays pretty faithful to the original sound of it; it’s even in the same key. However, the addition of a full orchestra definitely opens things up and combined with the soulful vocals provided by the participants, makes it a very emotional song. It truly is a great rendition of it all going towards a good cause.

Here’s the situation: both songs have sold over 100,000 copies a piece since the tracking week began on Sunday. Both are available as digital and physical CD singles, which complicates estimations a bit seeing as iTunes freely displays a chart on their front page while brick-and-mortar retailers don’t. As of now, The Justice Crew are ahead by about 3,000 copies combined, and anything could happen in what could be one of the closest Christmas Chart races in history. (As of Thursday, there’s now a 13,000 copy separation.) Both support worthwhile organizations, but there’s a certain glory in achieving that coveted #1 spot on such a notable week. Though the X Factor contestants traditionally released their winning single on the Week for several years, it was changed last year when winners Little Mix debuted at #1 on the chart before the Christmas Week, giving the Military Wives and Gareth Malone a huge sales week and the #1 Christmas Chart record of last year, “Wherever You Are”, which spent just one week there. I would say that gives a group charity single like “Brother” the advantage in this race, but you never know what Arthur has up his sleeve. With book and CD signings, he may just be able to come back and take the top spot by a few thousand or even hundred copies. Plus, he was just on one of most watched television shows over here. Everything is up in the air.

So, it’s up to you over in the United Kingdom to buy up what you think is worthy enough to grab the #1 spot of the week. We’ll be able to view the final result on Sunday. Arthur has already had his turn at the peak of the pop survey. If there’s any justice out there, take a minute to download The Justice Collective to help them provide a sense of justice to the 96 lives lost on that spring day back in 1989.

Buy “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” on AmazonMP3.

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From The Stage To The Summit: Hits From Musicals

Blamin' it all on the nights on Broadway.

Playin’ it all on the nights on Broadway.

Christmas Day marks the premiere of the film version of Les Misérables, based off of the stage play which won many awards when it stormed Broadway in 1987. The most well-known song from the play, “I Dreamed A Dream”, has been remade countless times over the years, most notably by Susan Boyle in 2009 when she auditioned with it on the British version of The X Factor. (A later studio version just missed the top 60 on the Hot 100 later that year.) Though nothing from the show was able to break into the top 40, perhaps something from the film version will carry the digital strength to do it. Until then, here are several more examples of national top-40 hits from musicals, from the 1960’s until now.

The first to do it in the 1960’s was one of the greatest entertainers of all time, Sammy Davis, Jr., who recorded his own version of “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” from the soundtrack to the play Stop The World – I Want To Get Off. It went to #17 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

In May 1964, Louis Armstrong took his version of “Hello, Dolly!” (title track from the musical of the same name) all the way to #1 on the Hot 100, becoming the oldest performer to ever achieve a chart-topping record. He was 63 at the time, knocking out “Can’t Buy Me Love” by The Beatles. During that same year, a performer born in Brooklyn that was featured in the several off-Broadway and Broadway productions in the late 50’s and early 60’s, had a major breakout in her role as Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl. Released as a single at the beginning of the year, the beautiful song “People” became Barbra Streisand‘s first top-40 hit, peaking at #5, while also topping the adult contemporary chart. She scored several other top 100 entries from musicals during the decade, but nothing made the top 40.

From the 1966 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Man Of La Mancha, “The Impossible Dream” became a minor top-40 hit for Jack Jones in 1966. The next year, Ed Ames, best known as an adult standards singer, recorded his version of the Biblical-inspired “My Cup Runneth Over”, which went as high as #8 on the Hot 100. It was featured in then-musical I Do! I Do!

1968 saw the first musical in which two songs from the soundtrack became charting singles, both recorded by superstar Dionne Warwick and written by the hit songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The title track from Promises, Promises just cracked the top twenty, but it was “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” that became the bigger hit, peaking at #6 in 1969. It’s been recorded a number of times since then.

Also in 1969, the most successful musical chart-wise launched four singles into the top five, Hair. Hailed as a modern-day rock opera of the day, mainstream artists covered individual compositions by the dozens. One of them, a medley of “Aquarius” and “Let The Sunshine In”, spent six weeks at #1 in April and May for The 5th Dimension, becoming the biggest hit by far of their career. For those last two weeks in May, the title song, as performed by The Cowsills, locked down the #2 spot, making it the only time during the rock era that two songs originally performed in a musical dominated the top two. In July, Oliver reached a high of #3 with his version of “Good Morning Starshine”. Finally, in September, Three Dog Night went to #4 for several weeks with “Easy To Be Hard”, meaning that each of these soundtrack hits went, in successive order, 1-2-3-4. Surprisingly enough, Hair didn’t win the Tony Award that year for Best Musical, going instead to 1776.

Initially conceived as a concept album, then turned into a musical, Jesus Christ Superstar swept the nation beginning in 1970, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The first single from it, “Superstar”, sung by Murray Head, took three chart runs to become a hit, but eventually made it to #14 on the Hot 100 during the summer of 1971. During that same period, two versions of the show’s biggest number, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”, were simultaneously in the top 40 for a month and a half. One version, the original by Yvonne Elliman, went to #28. However, another version, recorded by Australian singer Helen Reddy, became a regional hit in the northeast before breaking nationally, hitting #13. Both Elliman and Reddy would hit #1 later in their careers.

Two songs originally from The Me Nobody Knows also made the top 100. In 1971, The 5th Dimension just missed the top 40 with their #44, “Light Sings”, but in the summer of 1972, The Staple Singers did a few spots better, peaking at #38 with “This World”. During that same summer, the cast of Godspell rose into the top 20 with the show’s standout number, “Day By Day”.

From there, things dropped off dramatically, with the rise in country and r&b, later disco, music taking over the top of the charts. The only musical hit of note in that period was in 1977, when Judy Collins hit the top twenty with her version of “Send In The Clowns”, originally featured in the 1973 musical, A Little Night Music. In 1978, a film version of Grease became an international success, but only one of the original songs from the 1972 musical, “Summer Nights”, became a hit, peaking at #10.

In 1982, the first major musical hit of the 1980’s climbed into the top 40, peaking at #22 for three weeks in August and September of that year. “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” would become a signature song and only crossover hit for Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls. It would become a hit all over again 25 years later by Jennifer Hudson from the movie version of the play. Oh, did I mention that every diva now has this as a part of their repertoire for whatever audition they’re going on? Give me a break. It’s a great song, don’t get me wrong, but hearing a million times in the past few years just makes me want to turn it off. A second single, “I Am Changing”, would become a minor R&B hit.

Several months later, two versions of the song “Memory” from the show Cats hit the top 100. One version, done by Barbra Streisand, just missed the top 50, but the other, by balladeer Barry Manilow, snuck into the #39 spot for several weeks in January 1983. Both versions made the top ten on the Adult Contemporary chart.

The last of the musical compositions to hit the top-40 went all the way up to #3 in the spring of 1985. It was Murray Head striking again with his version of “One Night In Bangkok”, my favorite of the 80’s selections, featured in the musical Chess. It was written and produced by Tim Rice, along with Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. An additional version by Canadian actress and singer Robey made the Hot 100, but missed the top 40, probably because it just sounded so weird from a female perspective and that odd third verse change with her singing on the off beat. It did become a hit on the Dance Chart, however.

Streisand came very close to hitting the top 40 the next year with a rendition of “Somewhere” from the musical West Side Story, but it stopped at #42, and that was it as far as the 1980’s went.

It wasn’t until 1999 that the story picks up again, when Elton John and LeAnn Rimes went to #2 on the adult contemporary survey with a mainstream version of a song from Aida, “Written In The Stars”. It made the top thirty on the Hot 100. Six years later, in the summer of 2005, the movie version of Rent produced a digital hit out of “Seasons Of Love”, which went to #33 on the Hot 100. It quickly dropped off the chart with no radio play backing it up. Other songs from movie versions of musicals have been promoted to radio since, like “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from 2007 film Hairspray, but none have managed to hit the charts. We’ll see if Les Misérables can break that dry spell. Look for the soundtrack on iTunes on December 21.

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SINGLE REVIEW: OneRepublic – “If I Lose Myself”

They've lost that lovin' feeling (again.)

They’ve lost that lovin’ feeling (again.)

It was five years ago this week that OneRepublic was ruling for their last of seven weeks on the CHR chart with “Apologize”, their very first mainstream hit. Back then, it was credited to Timbaland presents OneRepublic, even though the producer just added an extra percussive beat and “eh, eh, eh” repetitions to it. It launched them into superstardom and made Ryan Tedder was of the most used writers and producers of pop music over the last few years. Six top-40 hits on the format later, including “Stop and Stare” and “Good Life”, they’re about to deliver their newest hit, the second single from the forthcoming album, Native. It’s entitled “If I Lose Myself”, and once you take a listen to it, you’ll understand why.

“Myself” is the followup to the non-traditional charity single “Feel Again”, which crept into the CHR top twenty and Hot AC top ten several weeks ago. Some of the proceeds from the sales of the track went to the Save The Children Fund. A lot of critics noted at the time that the heavy drums and clapping syncopation was reminiscent of Florence + The Machine‘s “Dog Days Are Over”, which was quite possibly one of the reasons it’s been stalling on the charts. “Days” wasn’t a big U.S. hit beyond the Hot AC chart, and even then, it was a slow-rising top twenty hit. It was also better. While OneRepublic are a core format artist now, it just wasn’t the same sonically as their past material, and now, it’s begun to crash down. Personally, I thought it was way better than their last leadoff single, “All The Right Moves”, which sounded like it was about three songs jumbled into one and just burned really quickly for me. Plus, the single cover was essentially an artistic version of fellatio; not that you needed to know that, but just think about it. Yeah, we are going down.

So, now that their album has been pushed back to March, the label has enough to promote this second single, which is released to iTunes on January 8. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Halfway through the fourteen second synthesizer intro and you’re like, “A dance song? By a rock band? Sheesh. #Sellout.” First of all, please don’t embarrass yourself by talking in hashtags. That’s just awkward. Second of all, you’re sort of right, if you didn’t realize that lead singer Tedder has been featured on several dance tracks in the past year, including one on Zedd‘s recent album. Yes, this is probably the most electro-pop that the band has trended towards, but it was the natural next step for them given what becomes a hit today. Face it, kids, electro-pop singles by a band with an alternative background is the new one-off rock band disco single. Listen to “Goodnight Tonight” by Wings, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” by KISS, etc. and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Lyrically, this starts off as an introspective piece, Tedder staring off into the sun and looking at all the faces before him, glancing at his “life out the window”, which I’m assuming means that this is taken from the perspective of an older man looking back on his youth. Then, bizarrely, he sings that “if I lose myself tonight, it’ll be by your side,” which now makes me think he’s younger and inexperienced and hooking up with a girl for the first time. Come again, guys? I remember one time during their debut era that the label purchased some banners for them on ProBoards, describing the band’s songs as “lyrical journeys”, but the only journey I’m taking is one that’s running around in circles. Remember when they talked about sending their album straight to Gold status in “Secrets”? Yeah, that certification took over two years, let’s not jump the gun, boys. That’s basically it in the lyrics department, as the second verse is essentially a repeat of the first, save for a few word changes. This is, except for a middle eight where an overdubbed group keeps chanting “Take us down and we keep trying / 40,000 feet, keep flying”, which makes me think that they’re giving up on music to become jet pilots. That’s a really big career change, guys, I would think about that one a little bit. Seriously, though, sort of a cheap shot at their critics if you take it that way. “Hey, we know you hate on our music, but we’re still flying on airplanes to the next gig, holla.” I think that’s all I have to say on that. Youngblood Hawke‘s “We Come Running” does the whole chanting thing better if you want a current example, plus it’s children doing it.

Despite my nitpicking, this is exactly what the band needs to have a successful CHR hit as well as their regular Hot AC airplay; a repetitive, quick keyboard section that sounds like it’s done by David Guetta (though it’s obviously not), their signature drums, and Tedder’s usually solid emotive vocal, maybe a tad bit less whiny than usual. I still think they can do better than this Maroon 5 and Neon Trees lite material they’ve been releasing as of late, and I’m sure there’s some more diverse material on their forthcoming album, Native. At least they don’t need Donald Duck doing the background vocals. (I’m looking at you “One More Night”.) That being said, this will do as a single, and should rank higher on the charts than “Feel” did, as well as chug along at a faster rate. I’ll say it’ll be a solid top 15 single at CHR and a top 5 hit at Hot AC. However, they’re still a faceless band to me, which is a problem, and they’re straying away from a pure pop sound that gave them their biggest hit of their last era. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing else left to “lose” — until we see how the general public responds to it. –AFS


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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (Dec. 18)

Looking to smoke the competition.

Looking to smoke the competition.

It’s the week before Christmas. Are your favorites gearing up for a big sales week? Here’s what’s new in stores this week on December 18:

  • Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head is the latest release from rapper T.I., which includes the R&B hit “Ball”, featuring Lil Wayne. He’s been gaining plenty of exposure on a VH1 reality show, but will it translate into first week sales? Look for this one to at least make the top ten on the Album Chart, but it will struggle to sneak into the top five. After all, his album sales sharply dropped with his last release, No Mercy.
  • A digital release of 12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief is out on Wednesday, featuring live performances from Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and more. A CD release is expected in January. It should vie for the #1 spot with over 50,000 pre-orders for the album.
  • Another rapper, Chief Keef, puts out Finally Rich, led off by the single “I Don’t Like”. This should definitely enter in the top twenty.
  • Initially released as a free album two summers ago, The-Dream returns with 1977, which includes a few additional tracks tacked onto the original tracklisting.
  • The soundtracks from Django UnchainedLes Misérables, and Not Fade Away are all out this week, with the middle album carrying a Friday release date.
  • The 35th anniversary edition of Eric Clapton‘s Slowhand is out, including a super deluxe edition with a bonus DVD and vinyl LP. The album features core 70’s hits for Clapton like “Lay Down Sally” and “Wonderful Tonight.”
  • Synthetica: Deluxe is a rerelease of Metric‘s album from earlier this year, featuring five new tracks.

Other assorted music DVDs and books out this week include:

  • The movie Pitch Perfect, about dueling a cappella groups.
  • Rihanna‘s Loud Tour: Live At The O2 DVD, filmed back in 2011 in London.
  • We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston DVD, a special concert which aired about a month ago.

Lastly, the new digital-only singles that you can buy this week:

  • Singer Dido, notable for hits like “Thank You” and “White Flag”, returns with “Let Us Move On”, featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar.
  • Josh Groban, who goes for a poppier sound on “Brave”, the first single from All That Echoes.
  • Rapper Kid Cudi releases a new track, “King Wizard”.
  • Country star turned tabloid darling LeAnn Rimes releases “Borrowed”, currently at Country radio.

Enjoy all the new music out this week! Turn It Up Tuesday will return on January 8 due to Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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Frolicking Through The Factory: PWL, SAW and the USA

Never gonna give them up.

Never gonna give them up.

If you’re a fan of Peter Waterman and his days with the writing team Stock, Aitken and Waterman, as well as his record label, Pete Waterman Entertainment, you probably know that many of his acts are participating in a winter extravaganza called PWL Hit Factory Live, a star-studded one-off concert featuring acts like Dead Or Alive, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Sonia and more. It’ll be taking place on December 21 at London’s O2 arena, a twenty-fifth celebration party of Waterman’s label. If you were living in the United Kingdom in the 1980’s, his compositions were inescapable, from television to the radio. If you were in the United States, maybe you know a handful of them, the bigger ones. Here’s a history of the damage they did in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Stock, Aitken and Waterman began their musical partnership in 1984, writing and producing songs for many newcomers, successfully delivering them their biggest singles yet. SAW’s first big number to hit the U.S. shores was in the summer of 1985. That’s when Dead Or Alive‘s blockbuster single, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, hit #11 on the Hot 100, though it hit the top spot in the group’s native United Kingdom a few months prior. Just as in the U.K., they scored their first #1 on the charts within a year, when a remake of Shocking Blue‘s “Venus” performed by female trio Bananarama hit #1 on the Hot 100 in September 1986. However, not everything the trio touched turned to gold in the States. A U.S. release of Mel & Kim‘s “Showing Out”, an easy top 5 in the U.K., only managed a #78 on the Hot 100 in early 1987. Several of their artists only managed to hit the dance chart before leaving the U.S. market, like Hazell Dean and Princess. However, things began to turn around rather quickly as the year went on.

In the spring of ’87, Dead Or Alive‘s second and final U.S. hit, “Brand New Lover”, became another top ten hit, which was followed by another top ten hit for SAW in the fall in the form of “I Heard A Rumour”, which would also be Bananarama‘s last top-40 single on the Hot 100, though SAW-engineered followups “I Can’t Help It” and “Love In The First Degree” just missed the top 40 several months later. 1988 was perhaps the biggest year for SAW and Pete Waterman in the States when their most successful act, Rick Astley, made his debut with two back-to-back number-one hits, “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever”, followed by a #10 hit, “It Would Take A Strong, Strong Man”. ’88 also saw the debut of a little miss by the name of Kylie Minogue. Her first single, “I Should Be So Lucky”, barely scraped the top 30, but her followup, a remake of “The Loco-Motion”, hit #3 on the Hot 100. (By the way, around this time, some parodies started to pour in from people who were fed up with the Factory’s sound. “This Is The Chorus” by Morris Minor and the Majors comes to mind, which makes fun of SAW artist music videos, songs and how they were written. It was only a minor hit in Australia, just missing the top twenty.)

1989 started off relatively disappointing for the trio with two underperforming singles: “It’s No Secret” by the aforementioned Minogue, which topped out at #37 (her last U.S. entry until 2002), and a cover of “I Only Want To Be With You” done by Samantha Fox, her last charting song which hit a dismal #31. (Her other SAW single, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now”, did worse a year earlier.) That was no issue for the trio, who were still producing and writing for Minogue and acts like Jason Donovan, another Dance-only act in the States. Later in the year, they managed to take Donna Summer back to the top ten for the first time in six years with “This Time I Know It’s For Real”, which went as high as #6 on the Hot 100. It was her last top-40 smash in the U.S., though she managed several other minor entries into the 1990’s. (Noticing a pattern here?) PWL attempted a U.S. branch of their label around this time, skewing towards more Urban acts, but it folded within a few years time.

No PWL acts or SAW-produced singles managed to break the Hot 100’s top 40 from 1990 to 1992, a pretty sharp drop, though Lonnie Gordon and Pat & Mick scored really minor entries in-between that were far bigger U.K. hits. However, in 1993, the last Pete Waterman co-produced hit charted in the U.S., reaching #18 on the Hot 100, and #1 on the CHR airplay chart as reported by now-defunct Radio & Records (#2 on the corresponding Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart.) “That’s What Love Can Do”, a major disappointment in the U.K. for girl group Boy Krazy, somehow managed to become a breakout hit in the U.S. in a remixed version, though their fame was short-lived when “Good Times With Bad Boys” missed Billboard’s top 40 (though, again, Radio & Records reported it as a top-30 airplay hit.)

Long after the songwriting trio dissolved, Waterman’s last productions to hit the U.S. market altogether came in the fall of 1999, when hot quintet at the time Steps released “One For Sorrow”, followed by a cover of “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees in the spring of 2000. Despite an opening spot on Britney Spears‘s tour at the time, the group never garnered any significant airplay, and went back to the U.K., where they ruled the charts until early 2002. The debut single by Tina Cousins, “Pray”, another Waterman production, was sent to radio in the U.S. towards early summer 2000, but didn’t catch on, and that was basically it as far as Waterman productions being issued in the States.

He’s obviously done more work since then, working as a judge on Pop Idol and Popstars: The Rivals across the pond, but to many over here, the British version of Motown is a long distant memory, even though a lot of their hits are still in rotation today on the radio. Obviously, a concert of this magnitude would never work over here, but good on him for putting together what should be an awesome showcase. As his acts band together to hit the stage one more time as a group, it’s time to bust out the synthesizers and the jelly bands and jam out like it’s the electronic 80’s all over again.

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Radio’s Response: Songs Pulled In The Wake Of Tragedy

From Pop to dropped.

From Pop to dropped.

At times, we are faced with heartbreaking situations that affect our lives, even if we don’t know anyone involved or don’t live anywhere near where the incident happened. On Friday morning, a 20-year-old in Newtown, Connecticut, killed 20 young students, six adults and his mother before turning the gun on himself in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. We can easily offer up our sympathy and condolences, but it’s unimaginable to know what those families who lost a loved one are going through. Though the grieving process has begun for them, it’s going to take a long time to heal, and, no doubt, the coverage of the story is going to be overwhelming for many days to come. Music can be seen as a way to find renewal in these kinds of occurrences, though some songs that were yesterday’s innocent tunes are today insulting to some audiences. Here’s a look at some of those examples, including one that’s lost quite a bit of ground after Friday’s massacre.

In 1989, former Kids Incorporated star Martika was on top of the charts with her big hit, “Toy Soldiers”, and as a result, she and her record label, CBS Records, released a followup single, an electronic remake of Carole King‘s “I Feel The Earth Move”. It was a harmless, throwaway version of the pop song. “Move” entered the airplay top 40 on September 15, 1989 (though it hit the Hot 100 a few weeks earlier.) It was at #28 on the survey dated October 13, 1989 before disappearing altogether the next week. On the Hot 100, it experienced some similar action, peaking at #25 on the October 21 chart (which reflected data from that previous week), then dropping to #40 on October 28 and off the chart within a few weeks time. This was because of the Oakland Earthquake, which occurred on October 17, a 6.9 magnitude quake that killed over 60 people and destroyed a number of homes and businesses. It even affected the World Series that year. News coverage was understandably immense during this time. Though this was a voluntary pull by most radio stations nationally, it was seen by most as insensitive at the time, and who wouldn’t feel that way hearing “I feel the earth move under my feet / I feel the sky tumbling down”? Promotion of her album was halted at this point and no more singles were released. Martika had one additional top ten hit in the U.S. in 1991 before fading entirely from the charts.

You probably guessed that the biggest tragedy that affected all sorts of single releases was the September 11, 2001 attacks, a devastating blow to our country in which 3,000 were killed in separate suicide attacks in New York City (the World Trade Center), Washington, D.C. (the Pentagon), and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It crushed the chart runs of several upbeat and/or lyrically inappropriate songs at the time. CHR singles like “Because I Got High” by Afroman and “Start The Commotion” by The Wiseguys never recovered from their post-9/11 losses and both artists became one-hit wonders in the States. “Someone To Call My Lover” by Janet Jackson lost 2,000 spins within two weeks on the format, another upbeat song that was perhaps seen as insensitive as many lost significant others. Another Jackson, Michael Jackson, had his highly-anticipated comeback single, “You Rock My World”, lost in the shuffle, but the title of that one is a essentially why radio dropped it like a rock in the wake of the attacks. Several singles were cancelled by labels in response, including but not limited to the U.S. issue of “Don’t Stop Movin'” by S Club 7 (dance song; delayed by a year, and obviously flopped), “It Was All A Dream” by Dream (wasn’t right to release in the middle of a nightmare), and “When The World Ends” by the Dave Matthews Band (that one’s pretty self-explanatory.) The biggest release affected by the attacks was “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, an angry metal song that took a huge dive on Alternative and Active Rock stations which featured controversial lyrics like “let the bodies hit the floor.” They maintained a career at Active Rock afterwards, but their time at Alternative radio was short-lived as a result of it; two underperforming singles later and they were done. Another rock band, Bush, changed the name of their single at the time, “Speed Kills”, to “The People That We Love” after the event. It underperformed and the era drew to a close after two radio singles. There’s been enough stated out there on the memo put out by Clear Channel around that time, which listed about 160 songs that were thought to be “questionable” following the attacks and which stations were suggested not to play, though many still were, including “Bad Day” by Fuel and “Smooth Criminal” by Alien At Farm, both current on radio at the time.

Now, we come to “Die Young” by Ke$ha, the leadoff single from her album, Warrior. It’s been a huge digital seller and recently went to the top spot on CHR radio. However, the song’s been voluntarily pulled by some radio stations in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, where many children died at a young age. The song itself is about living it up and partying, but one look at the title and you know it’s going to affect people. As a result, the song has lost over 1,000 spins in two days on just that one format alone, with an additional 175 spins gone at Hot AC. (As of 12/21, that is now 4,000 spins at CHR and 1,000 at Hot AC.) There’s likely no way to stop the free fall when this story is going to be in the public eye for a while. The dance nature of the song, combined with the lyrics of it (because it’s so affirmative that death is imminent) is a lose-lose situation. Though other songs are falling normally at the moment, this one seems to be the only one affected by the tragedy, which is a bit of surprise. I mean, doesn’t Taylor Swift‘s “I knew you were trouble when you walked in” and “Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground” deserve to be taken off as well if we’re analyzing the lyrics? Out of context, sure, but it hits close to home for a lot of people. I guess you can be the judge of that. RCA Records is going to need to do some damage control pretty soon (i.e. pull it altogether and send out a second single a few weeks sooner.)

Keep it posted to the charts to see what actually becomes of “Young”. Also, let me know if there are any big cases I missed in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel. In the meantime, keep the names of those Sandy Hook victims, young and old, in your thoughts and prayers. They will always be remembered.


Filed under Music News, Playlists, Retro, Uncategorized