Monthly Archives: January 2013

PROFILE: A Great Big World Get A Gleeful Gain

"New" kids in town.

“New” kids in town.

Say hello to two guys who call themselves A Great Big World. Don’t know this duo yet? Well, they’re about to get their big introduction to the mainstream via a cover on the television show Glee. You may remember that a little song called “We Are Young” made its debut to a large audience on the same television show in December 2011, and now fun. is practically a household name with several GRAMMY nominations and two million-selling singles. Will the same overnight success happen with this duo’s “This Is The New Year”? The year is still young. Here’s a little background on the group and the song that you may be adding on your next playlist.

The duo of Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino formed at New York University a few years back and they eventually formed a friendship while playing at the piano in the college’s practice spaces. Vaccarino found that Axel had a natural ability to sing and helped him to perfect his craft, going so far as to pay for his first professional vocal lesson. Axel started off as a solo artist, with Vaccarino managing him and writing his material. Axel put out “New Year” in a studio version to Adult Album Alternative, or AAA radio at this time last year, but the song never gained any traction on the airwaves and like a lot of songs, faded away, at least in the world of radio programmers. (The song dates back to at least 2008.) The song, however, provided them some online attention and the two set out on the road, opening for singer-songwriters like Five For Fighting and Ingrid Michaelson. It also got Axel’s material licensed to television shows like ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s The Amazing Race, among other well-known programs.

Last summer, Axel’s solo act turned into both performers being credit as a duo, A Great Big World, and the two created and released a six-song EP funded on the popular site Kickstarter. Vaccarino states, “It’s optimistic, hopeful pop music. There are fewer songs about heartbreak and more about the meaning of life, but even the most painful of our songs are hopeful.” That hopefulness is definitely heard in “New Year”, as Axel and Vaccarino sing, “‘Cause in the end we have each other/And that’s at least one thing worth living for.” It’s a soaring piano-lead number that recalls the classic mid-80s Americana anthem mixed with a contemporary vocal and other melodic elements. It would certainly fit in with the current sound of adult contemporary radio and also has big crossover potential. The Glee version doesn’t really compare to it, but the group does a decent rendition of it. There’s a lot of expectations following the sudden exposure of the song on a major TV show, but I think the boys will be able to follow through and deliver one of this year’s first big breakout singles.

Tune in and see the cast of Glee perform the song on the episode entitled “Naked”. It airs tonight at 9PM Eastern/8PM Central on FOX. Meanwhile, look for the original version on the charts in the next few weeks. By the way, if you get the chance, check out their whole EP, which is also available digitally. “I Really Want It” is another solid song from the effort, as well as “There Is The Answer”. Let’s hope that the answer is a good one following the show’s airing.

Buy “This Is The New Year” on iTunes:
A GREAT BIG WORLD VERSION
GLEE VERSION

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Girls, Girls, Girls: New Singles About To Pop

Before the Radio Report goes up tomorrow, here’s a few of the fierce females releasing new singles to mainstream radio in the next few weeks. From the straight-up sounds of pop to the electronic eargasms of tomorrow, here’s a few of my choices that you may see climbing up the charts this spring.

Ready or not, she's back.

Ready or not, she’s back.

BRIDGIT MENDLER – “Hurricane” (Radio Edit)

Former Disney kid Mendler made a successful transition into the world of mainstream music when her debut single, “Ready Or Not”, hit the CHR top 40 several months ago. Though it wasn’t the biggest of hits for the young singer, Hollywood Records is trying again with this second single from Hello My Name Is…, a song called “Hurricane”. It’s another rap-sung track from the singer, with the same sort of reggae-influenced vibe as Jessie J‘s “Price Tag” or Skylar Grey‘s “C’mon Let Me Ride”. “Hurricane” was co-written by Mendler, Evan Bogart, Andrew Goldstein and Emanuel Kiriakou and produced by the latter two gentlemen. All three previously worked together on Hot Chelle Rae‘s 2011 album Whatever. Mendler once again brings out the cringeworthy, juvenile lyrics. Remember “I like your face, do you like my song?” from “Ready”? This time around, it’s “I’m flopping on my bed like a flying squirrel.” I mean, I just don’t know what to do with that, so I’m going to move on and pretend it never happened. She’s 20. I guess I can deal with it. Otherwise, it’s a harmless and cute little song with a lot of vocal stuttering about a girl who compares her noticing a boy she really likes to “standing in the eye of a hurricane” because of her emotions gone haywire. Young girls can relate to it. It’s not the strongest song from her debut album, but the breezy nature of it could hold it on radio until the warmer months arrive. I would hate to see the effort go to waste just because the wrong single was selected.

Quicker than a Rae of light.

Far from “Over”.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Tonight I’m Getting Over You”

27-year-old Jepsen had a big breakthrough last year with hits like “Call Me Maybe” and “Good Time”, a collaboration with Owl City. Third single “This Kiss” failed to make a significant impact on the charts, so she’s dusted herself off and moved on to a fourth single from Kiss, “Tonight I’m Getting Over You”. The song has a long list of writers on it: in addition to Jepsen, there is Clarence Coffee Jr. (part of a production team called The Monsters and The Strangerz… jeez, who came up with that?) Lukas Hibert (German producer new to the U.S. market), Shiloh Hoganson (Canadian singer whose U.S. crossover failed a few years ago), Katerina Loules (German songwriter with her first big credit) and Max Martin (super-producer behind the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, etc.), with production duties handled by Hibert and Martin. The sound is a little more dance-driven than Jepsen’s other singles, with an unnecessary dubstep post-chorus that’s just grating on the ears. Nothing too hard to understand lyrically; the girl is gonna “keep dancing ’til the morning with somebody new” as she gets over her old flame. It’s a decent song, but unfortunately, it comes across as a throwaway track. I’m not quite sure how “Curiosity” got passed over again or even the duet with Justin Bieber, “Beautiful”. With everyone releasing lighter songs as of late, it would’ve fit right in. Alas, a video has been shot and the song’s been sent to radio, so I guess we’re stuck with it. Coming off a flop, I’m not expecting big things from it, but expect it to be a mid-charting hit before Jepsen moves onto recording a new album.

One step "Closer" to a hit.

One step “Closer” to a hit.

TEGAN & SARA – “Closer”

If this is going to be one of the first big Alternative crossover hits on the year, I approve. The two Quin sisters have been singing together since 1999 and are probably best known for their 2004 single, “Walking With A Ghost”. They also had a pair of minor chart successes in Canada as featured vocalists on singles by producers Morgan Page and Tiësto. Their days of dance have rubbed off on their new sound as found on their recent release, Heartthrob, expected to debut in the top ten on the Billboard 200 album chart, and this first single. It was written and produced by the Quins as well as Greg Kurstin, who worked on hits by Kelly Clarkson and Pink. The song itself is about the boundaries of a relationship, with the protagonist egging on her lover to “come a little closer,” but it isn’t just a sexual notion she desires. She explains: “It’s not just all physical/I’m the type who won’t get oh-so-critical/So let’s make things physical/I won’t treat you like you’re oh-so-typical.” This, combined with a glittering electro-pop beat, is the perfect combination for a great song with just the right amount of attitude. Will mainstream radio take a liking to the duo? I sure hope so. The song’s already been a top-20 national hit in Canada and it’s still in the top 100 on the overall chart on iTunes here in the States. It should also be their second song to make my personal chart in just a few weeks. The girls certainly deserve, but it’s up to programmers to decide whether to pump it or dump it.

Are there any other good pop tracks by the ladies that I should be listening to? Let me know! Post your thoughts in the comments or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Touchdown! The Super Bowl of Singles

Everyday they're shufflin'.

Everyday they’re shufflin’.

Are you ready for Super Bowl XLVII? It all goes down on Sunday, February 3 as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers face off in a battle of the brothers: John Harbaugh, who coaches the Ravens, and Jim Harburgh, who coaches the 49ers. Plus, the star of Lip-Sync Gate, Beyoncé, will be performing on the halftime show.

Lots of songs about sports have made the charts, from baseball to basketball to boxing, and even a few singles about football have been released. Though they’re few and far between, three such songs to mention either the game, the league or a team have scored first-downs on top of the turf we like to call the Billboard Hot 100. Chances are, you probably only remember the last one highlighted here, and it’s probably not in a good way. Regardless, people bought them (even if it was only a few people) and here how’s they positioned themselves in the lineup. Hut, hut, hike!

“THE FOOTBALL CARD”, Glenn Sutton (1979) (#46)
This country and folk singer got a novelty hit in 1979 talking about his unhealthy relationship with betting on football games, which ends up with him sobbing at the end of the song. I’m guessing you can figure out how that ended up. Sutton’s song debuted on the Hot 100 on January 6 at #70 before climbing to #46 two weeks later. It spent another week there, then nose-dived to #91, and all bets were off when the record dropped straight out of the countdown. He never charted again, though he did continue to write songs for other artists. Sutton passed away in 2007.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS IN THE NFL”, Willis “The Guard” & Vigorish (1980) (#82)
If you’re a fan of pop music and video games, you’re probably familiar with “Pac-Man Fever” by Buckner & Garcia. The duo took that song to #9 on the Hot 100 in 1982 largely from big sales. About a year and a half prior to that song, the duo recorded this novelty record as Willis The Guard & Vigorish, which was a rewrite of the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. You know the one: “‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,” yada yada yada. Well, imagine that with football-related references circa 1980. The song entered the Hot 100 on December 26, 1980, debuting at #82, and that was it. It was gone the next week as if it was never there at all. Of course, with the duo’s arcade action in 1982, no wonder this song is forgotten about. Garcia passed away in 2011, though he and Buckner are credited for a song on the Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack.

“THE SUPER BOWL SHUFFLE”, Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew (1986) (#41)
Before LMFAO shuffled their way into our hearts, it was Da Bears who recorded this nearly six-minute rap record in anticipation for their appearance in Super Bowl XX. A portion of the sales from it went to charity, benefitting needy families in the Chicago area. The song debuted on the Hot 100 on January 11 in the #92 position and slowly moved up the chart. Well, the Chicago Bears ending up beating the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl that year by a score of 46-10, and after the game was played on January 26, the record exploded. By the chart dated February 8, it took a leap from 56-41, almost exclusively through sales points. In fact, it broke the top 30 on the sales chart for that one week. Alas, after spending another week at #41, the song started falling and was out of the top 100 by March. It was one of the only singles during that era to be certified Platinum without becoming a top-40 hit. Today, I suppose it’s just fun to laugh at, and remember that for a hot minute, a whole football team could rise to the occasion and rap their way to one of the biggest sports-related songs ever.

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a #1 song on the Hot 100 from 2011, “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa. Though the title doesn’t specifically mention football, the NFL or the Super Bowl, Khalifa wrote the song with the Pittsburgh Steelers in mind, whose team colors are, technically, black and gold. Hey, I’m not going to fault him if his shade of color is off. The Steelers went to Super Bowl XLV that year, but lost to the Green Bay Packers, 31-25. You might wanna take a listen to “The Boys Of Fall” by Kenny Chesney as well. Written about playing high school football, it went to #1 on the Country chart in 2010.

Have any other football songs that you enjoy leading up to the big game? Let me know! You can post in the comments or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (Jan. 29)

Just can't get enough of 'em.

Just can’t get enough of ’em.

From pop to soul to rock and even a little acoustic music, here are the new releases out in stores on Tuesday, January 29:

  • My pick of the week this week is an easy one: it’s the Chasing The Saturdays EP from British girl group The Saturdays. It’s their first album release in the States, which has followed a successful career in the United Kingdom for the girls. The five-track EP features new single, “What About Us?”, as well as four single releases from various efforts, my favorite being their 2011 single, “All Fired Up”. The television show that bares the same name as the EP is current airing on the E! network. (iTunes)
  • In a shock to absolutely no one, Justin Bieber will likely score next week’s #1 album with Believe Acoustic, an album’s worth of acoustic versions of songs from his last album, Believe, and two additional new tracks. It’s sale priced at $7.99 for the week, so, I guess the label really wants a big week out of it. (iTunes)
  • Duo Tegan & Sara release their seventh studio album, Heartthrob. Lead single “Closer” is top 40 on Alternative radio. (iTunes)
  • Former American Idol contestant Colton Dixon releases his first album, A Messenger. Lead single “You Are” is a top ten record on the Christian CHR airplay survey. (iTunes)
  • As the lead singer of The Gap Band, he led the group to big hits like “You Dropped A Bomb On Me”. Charlie Wilson releases his latest solo effort, Love, Charlie, featuring the Urban AC hit “My Love Is All I Have”. (iTunes)
  • Hardcore metal band Hatebreed release their first album since 2009, The Divinity of Purpose. (iTunes)
  • Singer-songwriter Ben Harper collaborates with harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite on his newest album, Get Up!, which comes with a bonus DVD in its physical release. (iTunes)
  • A special multi-disc deluxe edition of Fleetwood Mac‘s landmark album Rumours comes out today, featuring the original album, selections from the 1977 Rumours World Tour, plus demos and instrumentals. (iTunes)
  • Classical and opera singer Andrea Bocelli puts out a new album, Passione, which features duets with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado. (Amazon)
  • Did you miss her? She missed you. Lisa Loeb‘s new studio set, No Fairy Tale, is out today. (Amazon)
  • Destiny’s Child releases a cash-in compilation, Love Songs, featuring new track “Nuclear” as well as mix of mostly album tracks. (Amazon)

New digital-only singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “Remix (I Like The)”, the latest offering from Boston’s New Kids On The Block. It leads off 10, which is in stores April 2. (iTunes)
  • “By Your Side”, a remake of the Sade hit as done by Ben Taylor, the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon. Taylor performed the song on Monday night’s edition of The Bachelor. (iTunes)

See you for the pre-GRAMMY edition next week!

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What “Child” Is This? Youngsters In The Top Ten

Burning down the House.

Burning down the House.

Swedish House Mafia finally have their first big hit in the States as “Don’t You Worry Child”, featuring vocalist John Martin, sits at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Though this may be the only time the group charts together (they’re currently on a farewell tour), they’ve it done with a song that becomes the first top ten title since the 90’s to feature the word “child” in it.

In total, 59 song titles with the word “child” (or some variation like “children”) in them have made the Hot 100 since it began in 1958, 27 of those making the top 40. The first of them, in early 1959, was “The Children’s Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Whack)” by Cyril Stapleton and His Orchestra, which was quickly followed by a version from Mitch Miller and his “Sing Along With Mitch” Chorus. The Stapleton version rose to #13 and the Miller version got to #16.

Just eleven of those nearly sixty top-40 hits made it into the top ten. Here are the other ten besides “Worry”:

“Little Children”, Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas (#7, 1964)
This English band came to the States as a part of the British Invasion in 1964 and launched four songs into the top 40, this one being the biggest. After two additional Hot 100 singles in 1965, the group experienced several membership changes and ultimately folded several years later. They’ve reunited since, but haven’t charted again.

“Love Child”, Diana Ross & The Supremes (#1, 1968)
Girl groups don’t come bigger than this. In just about five years, they accumulated twelve #1 singles on the Hot 100, this two-week topper being the eleventh of them. Ross departed the group roughly a year after this single and they had several years of top-40 hits without her, including two top tens. Ross, of course, did quite a bit better, with six additional #1 hits on her own. Dance group Sweet Sensation took their version onto the charts in 1990, just missing the top ten with a peak of #13.

“Runaway Child, Running Wild”, The Temptations (#6, 1969)
Another of Motown’s biggest acts makes the list with this single, which also spent two weeks at #1 on the R&B chart in March. All five members sang lead on the song. The quintet scored Hot 100 and R&B hits for several decades to come, including songs like the #1 “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”.

“O-O-H Child”, The Five Stairsteps (#8, 1970)
After years of top-40 misses, this song from the Chicago group featuring the Burke siblings cracked the top ten during the summertime. They made the Hot 100 several other times after this song hit, but nothing placed within the top 40. A remake by Dino in 1993 hit the top ten in CHR airplay, but managed a lower #27 on the Hot 100. One other cover, done by Daryl Hall and John Oates, became a minor adult contemporary hit in 2005.

“Mother And Child Reunion”, Paul Simon (#4, 1972)
After his partnership with Art Garfunkel dissolved in 1970, Simon began his string of solo successes with this first hit, which also made the top 5 in countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Simon would soon eclipse this solo peak with bigger entries like his only #1, 1976’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”.

“Hot Child In The City”, Nick Gilder (#1, 1978)
English-born, Canadian-raised Gilder only made the top-40 once in the States with this #1 hit. He scored several other big singles in Canada, including a #1 with his former group Sweeney Todd, “Roxy Roller”, in 1976.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine”, Guns N’ Roses (#1, 1988)
Axl Rose and the boys garnered their first and only chart-topper with their first single to make the Hot 100, spending two weeks at #1 in September. The Los Angeles band took five other songs into the top ten through 1992. Their long-awaited Chinese Democracy album was finally released in 2008 and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame just last year.

“When The Children Cry”, White Lion (#3, 1989)
This ballad was the second and final top-40 hit for this rock band from Denmark, placing just behind songs from Paula Abdul and Sheriff. The first, “Wait”, hit the top ten the previous year. They continued to make the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S. until 1991.

“This One’s For The Children”, New Kids On The Block (#7, 1989)
In 1989, one of the biggest bands out of Boston managed to place six songs in the top 40, all within that one chart year. This was the last of them, from the album Merry, Merry Christmas, and appropriately peaked during the week of Christmas. NKOTB managed two other top ten hits after this, then broke up in 1994 and experienced a successful reunion in 2008. They release a new studio album, 10, in April.

“Jesus To A Child”, George Michael (#7, 1996)
From his album Older, the single marked a major comeback for Michael, his first top ten hit in four years on the Hot 100. Followup single “Fastlove” would be his last single to make the Hot 100, peaking at #8, though he’s had a top-40 single in the United Kingdom as recent as last year.

For the young at heart and on the charts, make sure to click the follow button to get updates from POP! Goes The Charts and follow me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Highlights from Adam’s Top 40: January 27, 2013

Life on Murs.

Life on Murs.

DEBUTS
38. Lady Antebellum – Downtown
37. Gentlemen Hall – Sail Into The Sun
34. One Direction – Kiss You | HIGHEST DEBUT

TOP GAINERS
32. Olly Murs – Army Of Two (38)
26. Bon Jovi – Because We Can (31)
21. Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie (30) | BIGGEST MOVER

THIS WEEK’S TOP TEN
10. One Direction – Little Things (11) | PEAK: #10
09. Ed Sheeran – Lego House (13) | PEAK: #09
08. Maroon 5 – Daylight (09) | PEAK: #08
07. Hunter Hayes – Wanted (07) | PEAK: #07
06. The Script – Six Degrees Of Separation (06) | PEAK: #06
05. Train – Mermaid (05) | PEAK: #05
04. Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble (04) | PEAK: #04
03. Pink – Try (03) | PEAK: #02
02. fun. – Carry On (01) | PEAK: #01 for eight weeks
01. Olly Murs – Troublemaker (02) | PEAK: #01 for one week | NEW #1

Top 10 Next In Line:
1. The Saturdays – What About Us (2)
2. Little Mix – Wings (7)
3. Aerosmith featuring Carrie Underwood – Can’t Stop Lovin’ You (1)
4. New Kids On The Block – Remix (I Like The) (-)
5. Cassadee Pope – Over You (6)
6. Of Monsters And Men – Mountain Sound (3)
7. Goo Goo Dolls – Rebel Beat (-)
8. Robbie Williams – Be A Boy (-)
9. Jewel – Two Hearts Breaking (-)
10. Maroon 5 – Love Somebody (10)

In The Mix:
Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up (new)
Bridgit Mendler – Hurricane (new)
Carly Rae Jepsen – Tonight I’m Getting Over You
Caro Emerald – Back It Up
Cher Lloyd – With Ur Love
Conor Maynard – Animal
Dido – No Freedom (new)
Emeli Sandé – Clown
fun. – Why Am I The One? (new)
Hot Chelle Rae – Hung Up (new)
Imagine Dragons – Demons (new)
Jilette Johnson – Torpedo
Kelly Clarkson – People Like Us
Kenny Chesney – El Cerrito Place
Shiny Toy Guns – Somewhere To Hide
Stefano – Yes To Love
Train – This’ll Be My Year
Tristan Prettyman – Say Anything
Zedd featuring Foxes – Clarity (new)

See my full chart on the M4BCC message board.

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Clash Of The Tourmates: Olly vs. Robbie

It takes "Two" to make a thing go right.

It takes “Two” to make a thing go right.

They both have millions of fans on social media, combined to do a tour together, but now, the heat is on as both Olly Murs and Robbie Williams release their newest singles on the same day. Drama! On March 10, both “Army Of Two” by Murs from Right Place, Right Time and “Be A Boy” by Williams from Take The Crown will be out on iTunes in the United Kingdom with new digital EPs. So, let’s put them to the test in a bit of a battle. Which single knocks the other one out of the ring? Jolly Olly or Wreck-It Robbie? Somebody ring the bell…

ROUND ONE: WHO HAS THE BETTER COVER ART?
Alright, this one’s fairly easy for me. Though I appreciate the creativity that went into building the “Army of Two” title out of the smaller “army of two” bits, I’m not a fan of the salmon-colored background and Murs, himself, just looks like a combination of bored and upset. Was that an outtake shot? I mean, would it hurt to give him a marching band leader outfit? This is supposed to be fun! I love the Williams cover, however. Yes, it’s a white base, but the paint oozing down his face and onto his neck is an awesome effect and pops really well. Oh, and he’s smiling too. At least, I think he is. It has a boyish charm about it. Even if I didn’t know who he was or what he sang, I would totally stare at it in a record shop. Good times.

Verdict: This one for sure goes to Robbie. That puts him up 1-0.

ROUND TWO: WHO HAS THE BETTER SINGLE?
Let’s start off with Williams this time around and his third single, “Be A Boy”. Williams wrote the single with Tim Metcalfe and Flynn Francis and it was produced by Jackknife Lee; that combination is pretty much responsible for much of the album. Metcalfe and Francis are relative newcomers, both from Australia, while Lee has produced for acts like R.E.M. and U2, among others. “Boy” is an 80’s-inspired effort and yes, I am a sucker for a sassy saxophone solo, so that’s a plus. The message of it is what you probably expect it to be: the dreams of youth and the “magic” that goes away when you grow older. As Williams sings, “They said it was leaving/They said it with joy/Now I can make this last forever/And be a boy.” Yet, there is also a desire to find comfort in knowing that you can still find the boy in yourself as you age: “I’m half your age and lived twice your life/Now I don’t sleep alone at night/Your time did come but it’s long gone/Takes a big man to be someone.” It’s a relatable tune, and you can still dance to it with all those fluffy pop synths and chants.

On the other side of the ring, we have the second single from Murs, “Army Of Two”. He penned the song with Wayne Hector, Iyiola Babalola and Darren Lewis while it was produced by Future Cut. Hector’s worked with a number of pop acts over the years and previously hooked up with Murs on his 2010 single, “Thinking Of Me”, which went top 5 in the U.K. in November. Babalola and Lewis are both a part of Future Cut, who previously worked with Lily Allen on hit singles “LDN” and “Smile”. It begins with a lush crescendo of strings, the tap of a drum, and, oh, hey, let this pop confection take over. The song itself is a dedication to his fans, with lyrics about staying together as a troop (“we’ll be swimming in the same direction/and we’ll never lose this connection”), the goals and standards of the mission (“Oh, faith is the bullet/Hope is the gun/Love is all we need”) and perseverance in the battle (“Now, march with the band/Raise your right hand/We’ve only just begun.”) Yes, it’s a tad cheesy, but I think the sentiment works, plus the arrangement is a nice fusion of the traditional and modern-day popular sounds. I think you’ll want to join the gang too. Those snare drums are pretty hot.

Verdict: I do like both, but I’ll give the edge to Olly; it’s a strong song and it’s already on my personal chart. Each is tied at 1.

ROUND THREE: WHO’S MORE LIKELY TO GET A HIT?
This is a hard one. Both Murs and Williams started off their respective eras with a #1 single that spent two frames at the top; “Troublemaker” and “Candy”, respectively. Williams went onto release “Different” during the Christmas Week, but it wasn’t promoted well and ended up missing the top 40. I would hope his label would rethink their strategy for this release. Murs, on the other hand, would be coming off that #1 single. Now, you may assume that this would give him the upper hand, but, he’s waited months to release a second single and he’s currently on a radio tour with some additional television performances in the States. Since his album is out here in April, he may be spending some additional time here rather than focusing his efforts across the pond. In short, it’s pretty much anyone’s guess as to how both of these releases will actually chart. (I’m rooting for both, but one has to top the other one, you know?)

Verdict: Gonna leave this one at a tie. Too tough to decide.

Let’s add up all the points… jeez, I was never good at math. Oh, you say they both have two points a piece? Well, well. I guess that means you’ll have to help me out. Which one do you like better: “Army Of Two” or “Be A Boy”? Or, are you stuck like me and enjoy both? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Rock On, Radio: The Latest Alternative Releases

From singer-songwriters to pop/rock bands, these latest singles are all Adam Approved (always a good thing) and going to Alternative or AAA (Adult Album Alternative) radio within the next few weeks. They are just a small sample of the songs you may be seeing on next week’s Radio Report for the month of February. I give you these four great new tracks as an appetizer:

Can't get it out of my "Head".

Can’t get it out of my “Head”.

BEN HOWARD – “Keep Your Head Up”
Adds Date: January 28 (AAA)

25-year-old Howard is originally from West London and released his only album to date, Every Kingdom, back in the fall of 2011. His biggest single thus far in the States, “Only Love”, recently went to #5 on the adult alternative chart. “Love” was also his only single to place in the top 40 in the U.K. Singles Chart. Howard is following it up in the States with the song “Keep Your Head Up”, which went to #74 in the U.K. in September 2011. For you pop music fans out there, no, this is not a hot Andy Grammer cover. Howard’s track is more along the lines of a David Gray or a Paolo Nutini song; a really organic sound with an emotive vocal as Howard appeals to the listener to “keep your head up, keep your heart strong/keep your mind set in your ways.” It’s a boost of encouragement when the protagonist is lost in his wicked ways and looking for a way out, only find that “all I was searchin’ for was me.” The song’s much more immediate for me than “Love” ever was. Since that slowly broke him on the AAA format, I would hope that this next release will rise a little bit faster and get Howard back to the top ten. He’s a hidden jewel in the world of singer-songwriters; you’ll keep coming back for another listen.

The element of "Freedom".

The element of “Freedom”.

DIDO – “No Freedom”
Adds Date: February 18 (AAA)

Hello there, old friend. The hitmaker behind “Thankyou” and “White Flag” came back with a not-so-eventful album in 2008 called Safe Trip Home. First single “Don’t Believe In Love” never saw any significant radio action and the album quickly faded away. Dido hopes that this will be a big return for her, which comes nearly ten years after their release of her last big chart hit in the States, “White Flag”. The first official single from her forthcoming album, Girl Who Got Away, is “No Freedom”, which sees the singer back to her familiar sound with perhaps a touch of an older R&B sound in elements of the composition. The song is about being constricted by a relationship, with the protagonist seemingly at the end of one: “Take it by your silence/I’m free to walk out the door/By the look of your eyes, I can tell/You don’t think I’ll be back for more.” She realizes that there’s “no love without freedom”, even if the two of them pass by each other in a more indirect way. The song will at least be enough to get her back on the airwaves, but, is it too little too late in the States or will she get the full embrace that she did in previous eras? Keep looking out on the charts to see what happens.

No need to horse around.

No need to horse around.

FUN. – “Why Am I The One?”
Adds Date: February 25 (Alternative)

What’s fun of having no new fun. songs on the radio? Good question. The band poses another one with “Why Am I The One?”, the fourth single from their album, Some Nights, and the followup to recent hit “Carry On”. It comes just in time for the GRAMMY Awards, where they’re up for a number of awards and will be performing on the live broadcast. (I’ll be posting all my picks for the ceremony in two weeks.) “One” sounds like an Elton John song hit the production of a mid-90’s rock band. I don’t know what it is, but there’s one distinctive part of the chorus that reminds me a lot of John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” in the melody that Ruess is singing. The protagonist is bored of his situation, until he gets the “feeling that I’m right where I belong”, but he still manages to be on the losing end of a situation with his girl, asking “Why am I the one always packing all my stuff?” This may very well be the fourth top ten hit in a row for the group on the Alternative chart, which almost never happens with an act’s first four radio releases. We’ll see what happens! The radio adds date is still a month away, so “Carry” could still make some upward movement in the meantime. (It’s currently top ten on the Alternative chart and also charting on mainstream radio.)

Imagination's got the best of you.

Imagination’s got the best of you.

IMAGINE DRAGONS – “Demons”
Adds Date: at radio now (AAA/Alternative)

This quartet from Las Vegas has garnered two big hits on alternative radio within the past year: “It’s Time” and ‘Radioactive”, the former of which has become a sizeable crossover hit. This third release, also from their 2012 release Night Visions, the band’s debut album, is a little more mellow overall than their past two releases, but still finds the right amount of energy during the chorus to keep the song going. This isn’t exactly light stuff, taking place in a world where “days are cold” and “your dreams all fail”, but it’s the pre-chorus that really hits the message home in a very thought-provoking way: “No matter what we breed/We are still made of greed.” It’s sort of disturbing in a sense, but it rings frighteningly true given the world’s situation today. Still, there are demons present even in the protagonist’s eyes, even as he tries to “save the light” of another presence that he can make him pure again. It’s an outstanding lyric, and alternative radio will definitely make this another big hit for the band. They’ll be on tour for much of the first half of 2013 before potentially returning to the studio to record their second full-length album.

Do you have a favorite song out of the four highlighted here? Is there another artist that you think I should cover? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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REWIND: 1989’s Adventures In The Musical Lost & Found Bin

Where are they now?

Where are they now?

Some songs by big artists naturally become hits. Others take a little more promotional push to rise up the charts. Some flop outright, but then, there are the lucky few that get a second chance and see that single revived on the national charts. For example, you might remember that “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & The Beaters went to #1 in early 1987, but you may not know that in its initial release, it peaked at a dismal #79 on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1981. This was, of course, before it was used on Family Ties and subsequently rereleased by Rhino Records.

Though this kind of thing happened periodically in the 80’s, 1989 for some strange reason became the breakout year for this re-releasing of underperforming singles. A few programmers of note helped to influence the trend; other singles were released just for the sake of being released. Prepare for a trip down memory lane as we take a look into our mystical and musical lost and found bin to see which treasures got plucked out again for a second spin.

SHERIFF – “When I’m With You” (#1 — February 4, 1989)
This Canadian band formed in 1979 and released only one self-titled album. The biggest single from it, “When I’m With You”, charted on the Hot 100 for seven weeks between May and June 1983, peaking at #61. The band proceeded to break up two years later. It was in the fall of 1988 that a disc jockey named Jay Taylor at KLUC-FM in Las Vegas that put the song back on the air again, stating that, “I always thought it should have been a big hit.” Well, the phones began to light up, and the word spread to nearby stations, who promptly put it into rotation. Eventually, Capitol Records began pressing the single again, and it re-charted in November 1988, reaching the top 40 on the chart dated December 17. By January of 1989, it was in the top ten, and then it hit the top spot for one glorious week. This, while lead singer Freddy Curci left the business and paid the bills by becoming a letter carrier in Canada, often hearing his voice on the radio when delivering the mail to workplaces. Of course, his customers didn’t actually believe it was him. With the success of the long-forgotten single, Curci and another former Sheriff member, Steve DeMarchi, formed another band, Alias, who hit the next year with the big hit “More Than I Can Say”.

THE BELLE STARS – “Iko Iko” (#14 — May 13, 1989)
This all-female group from England released a remake of this much covered song (probably best known in a 1965 version by The Dixie Cups) and it became their debut single in the United Kingdom, peaking at #35 in June 1982. Their biggest success was with the song “Sign Of The Times”, which got to #3 in the U.K., but only went as high as #75 on the Hot 100 later that year. After a few more single releases that weren’t nearly as big, the band broke up in 1986. However, the song unexpectedly found new life when it was featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 movie Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. A major hit at the box office, Capitol Records promoted the single release in the States, which made the Hot 100 starting in March 1989 before peaking at #14 in May. The group didn’t chart again.

JIMMY HARNEN with SYNCH – “Where Are You Now?” (#10 — June 10, 1989)
Well, look who it is! Jay Taylor and KLUC-FM struck again with this song, originally just a regional hit in the midwest, especially in Harnen’s home state of Pennsylvania. After being signed to Columbia Records, the label promoted the single, which debuted on the Hot 100 in March 1986 before climbing to a peak of #77 in April. It slowly descended the survey, spending a total of twelve weeks on. Taylor put it on the air again and listener response was once again big, so a sub-label of Epic Records, WTG, picked up the song, re-credited it to Jimmy Harnen with Synch (rather than just Synch as in the 1986 release) and sent it out to shops. It hit the Hot 100 once again in late February 1989, slowly climbing to a peak of #10 in June. (This is an interesting news reel clip which highlights the song and some members of the group as “Now” hit the top 40 in late April.) Harnen released a solo album, but it didn’t catch on, though he continued writing for a number of years afterward. Harnen is now the president of Republic Nashville Records, as well as the executive vice president for Big Machine Records.

BENNY MARDONES – “Into The Night” (#20 — July 1, 1989)
Ohio-born Mardones originally signed to Private Stock Records in 1978 before the label shut down, but was picked up by Polydor shortly afterward. They released his second album, Never Run, Never Hide, which featured “Into The Night”. It peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 in September 1980 during a long (at least for the time) twenty week chart run. Mardones fell off the radar almost immediately afterward due to drug abuse from his sudden fame. In 1989, KZZP-FM in Phoenix aired a “Where Are They Now?” type feature, the most popular artist covered on the segment being Mardones. Many people were intrigued to know about what was happening with him. This caught the attention of then-program director at Los Angeles radio station KQLZ-FM, “Pirate Radio”, Scott Shannon. When he was a disc jockey at WRBQ-FM in Tampa, Shannon had successfully returned Charlene‘s atrocious ballad “I’ve Never Been To Me” to the charts after flopping five years prior, which went to #3 in 1982. He thought he could do it again with yet another ballad, and so, he added it into rotation and soon it became a big hit once again. Re-entering in May 1989, it hit the #20 spot in a newer version, and though it didn’t top its original run, it propelled the song to become one of the most-played songs on FM radio of all-time. Mardones recorded new material after his brief resurgence, but nothing made the national charts.

REAL LIFE – “Send Me An Angel ’89” (#26 — July 22, 1989)
In 1983, this quartet from Melbourne, Australia managed a top ten hit in their native country, as well as two weeks in the #1 spot in New Zealand, with the original release of “Angel”. In the States, it crossed over several months later, debuting on the Hot 100 in mid-November before peaking at #29 for two weeks in February 1984 during a nineteen week chart run. Followup single “Catch Me I’m Falling” tanked, only reaching as high as #40. In 1989, as the band prepared a greatest hits package, the song was remixed slightly for a single release with some harder drums and a variation of the synth line (perhaps an updated keyboard) and once again, it climbed the charts. Returning to Hot 100 in May, it peaked in July at #26, three spots higher than the original release, before falling off by the end of the next month. The group had some success on Dance/Club Play chart after “Angel” got a second wind, but it was their last release to make the Hot 100.

Two other songs were rereleased in 1989, but just missed the top 40 on their second try despite becoming minor hits in their first run on the charts. In the summer, Peter Gabriel‘s “In Your Eyes” went as high as #41 after being featured in the film Say Anything, starring John Cusack. Maybe you held up a boombox or two over your head and blasted the song so your significant other could hear it. (Actually, scratch that, the neighbors would probably call the police.) Then, in the fall, Australian band Moving Pictures returned to the #46 spot what “What About Me?”, a song that took its sweet time peaking during its original run from 1982 into 1983. It spent nearly half a year in the Hot 100 and peaked at #29, enough to make it on to the 1983 year-end countdown. Gabriel is still making music; Moving Pictures never made the Hot 100 again.

For the best of everything that’s retro, keep it here on POP! Goes The Charts! Follow the blog and follow me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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ON THE REBOUND: Bands On The Comeback Trail

Bring on the bands! Here are two groups that ended their last eras on a sour note, but are ready to bring it back hard with their latest singles. Will they rise up the charts or stall out in the midst of heavy competition? Only time will tell, but I enjoy them both. They’re two more releases to add to what has already been a very diverse first quarter in the music biz. Let’s start this thing with a little twang…

Treat her like a Lady.

Treat her like a Lady.

LADY ANTEBELLUM – “Downtown”
Lady A’s been hitting the charts for about five years now, but their last ballad-heavy effort wasn’t as successful as their previous albums. Own The Night produced two number-one singles on the Country Chart, “Just A Kiss” and “We Owned The Night”, but it also gave them their lowest-peaking commercial release ever on the survey, “Wanted You More”, which only went as high as #20. Again, this might have been due to the adult contemporary trending sound of the record; country radio just didn’t want to embrace the more middle-of-the-road and not very, well, “country” material from the band after all the soft singles. Their latest single, the leadoff from their forthcoming album, is a song called “Downtown”, which is pretty much the most country-sounding thing from them in a while. (Although, watch me say that and then weeks down the line, the label remixes it for crossover airplay. Just an assumption, not a fact.) This is a bit of a new side to the group, originally recorded in demo form by Natalie Hemby. The lead vocal is done by Hillary Scott, with the background provided by Charles Kelley, and there’s a newfound spunk and attitude in them with lyrics like “knew the band, so we never paid our cover / Wrote our names on the bathroom tile,” while Scott appeals to her boyfriend or close friend, “I don’t know why you don’t take me downtown anymore.” Look at them being angst-ridden teenagers once again. Lady A, we hardly knew ye. She isn’t the most persuading gal in the world when she urges her significant other to “talk it up and give me the go ’round-round like a good time tease”, but the song overall is definitely a step in the right direction for the band after some misfires. I just sort of wish we had a Kelley lead vocal for the first single, but I’m sure there will be plenty of those on the new album. Look for it to become their next #1 record on the Country survey when it gets a digital release on February 5. (Listen) (Lyric Video)

Turn the "Beat" around.

Turn the “Beat” around.

THE GOO GOO DOLLS – “Rebel Beat”
It’s been almost eighteen years since this band out of Buffalo released their first hit single, “Name”, a #1 song on mainstream radio at a time when alternative rock dominated the charts. Obviously, things have changed a lot since then, but the trio continues on long after their biggest commercial peak. Their last album, 2010’s Something For The Rest Of Us, provided some uninspired and bland singles in “Home” and “Notbroken”, the former of which barely hit the top ten and the latter of which struggled to make the top 30 at the Hot AC format. Two years ago, their theme from Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, “All That You Are”, made the top 15 on the same chart, and that was a vast improvement. Still, it was bound to have a short chart life being from a film. Fast forward to 2013 and the band is back with a new track, “Rebel Beat”. It’s the first single from the band’s forthcoming album, Magnetic, out on May 7. “Whoa! Did Ryan Tedder produce this?” is probably the first thought out of the listener’s head when hearing the song for the first time. As far as I know, he didn’t, but yes, it does sound like OneRepublic‘s sound influence this particular song, specifically their 2011 hit “Good Life”. Hey, they’re going to need to do whatever they need to do to get a hit, and if that means shedding their edgier side once again to appeal to soccer moms, they’ll get at least one more chart hit. I’m sure there will be rockier stuff on the album to appease those long-time fans who still desire it. Anyways, the song itself is pretty good. The lyrics are nothing special, though they seem to explode in a well-engineered chorus: “Hey, you, look around / Can you hear that noise? It’s the rebel sound / We got nowhere else to go / And when the sun goes down and we fill the streets / We’re gonna dance ’til the morning to the rebel’s beat / You can take everything from me, ’cause this is all I need.” Yes, it’s ironic that the song is called “Rebel Beat” when the beat isn’t rebellious and more on the generic side, but give the guys credit for heading in a new direction. It’s a cool tune. It’ll probably take them into at least the top 30 again at Hot AC, though I’m not sure at this time how any followup singles are going to fare. At least we have this for now. (Listen)

Also look out for these new singles coming in the next few weeks:
* NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK – “Remix (I Like The)”: the new single from one of the biggest boy bands of all-time goes to radio on January 25 and to iTunes on January 28. Their new album, 10, is released on April 2. They’ll be touring with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men this summer. Will the potential success of the band’s new single spur the other two bands to try out new material at mainstream radio? Those rumors will be swirling… (Listen)
* VAMPIRE WEEKEND – “[title TBA]”: the band led by Ezra Koenig returns with their third album on May 7. A single should be at Alternative radio by March.

As always, find out all the information you need right here at POP! Goes The Charts — don’t forget to follow the blog and my personal Twitter handle, @AdamFSoybel.

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