Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Sound Of The Sip: Serving Up Pop Potions

What's "Cup"?

What’s “Cup”?

It’s become the surprise breakout hit from a movie that’s taken on a life of its own even after it was in theaters. The song is “Cups (When I’m Gone)”, the current #30 on the Hot 100, performed by actress Anna Kendrick from the film Pitch Perfect. Interpolating the 1937 song by J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers, “Miss Me When I’m Gone”, the song is climbing in both airplay and sales thanks to a radio remix which incorporates a folk backing behind Kendrick’s vocal and, of course, the sound of cups hitting the ground and her claps. It’s a rare hit for so many reasons, including the origin of the lyrics, the fact that the movie was screening last fall, and now Kendrick is just the fourth artist born in the state of Maine to have a top 40 hit behind Rick Pinette & Oak (1980), Howie Day (2004) and Spose (2010). It’s not every day that we have a popular single that has the word “cup” in the title either, so before you go spilling the tea on this one, drink a little of this chart concoction:

“I’ll Just Have A Cup Of Coffee (Then I’ll Go)”, Claude Gray (#84, 1961)
Country singer Gray had a handful of top ten hits on the Country survey, this one going to #4. It was his only song to crossover to the pop survey, albeit in a limited fashion. He last made the top 40 on his home format in 1970.

“Another Cup Of Coffee”, Brook Benton (#47, 1964)
Benton was successful on the R&B and pop surveys between the late 50’s and early 70’s with songs like “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” (#3, 1959) and “The Boll Weevil Song” (#2, 1961), although this wasn’t a big hit on either chart. His last top 40 single was a 1970 ballad titled “Rainy Night In Georgia” (#4).

“My Cup Runneth Over”, Ed Ames (#8, 1967)
Ames, an adult standards singer, recorded a version of this Biblical-inspired song, going top ten on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The song originates from the 1966 musical I Do! I Do! Ames hit the top 40 once more in 1968 with an English translation of a Spanish song, “Who Will Answer?” (#19), but he continued to rank on the AC survey through 1970 to varying success.

“Paper Cup”, The 5th Dimension (#34, 1967)
Before the quintet from Los Angeles struck gold with two #1 singles, they struggled to get this song into the top 40. It was the followup to “Up, Up And Away”, which didn’t struggled at all and climbed to #7. Parent album The Magic Garden was a dud, failing to break the top 100 on the Billboard 200.

“The Cup Of Life (La Copa De La Vida)”, Ricky Martin (#60, 1998 / #45, 1999)
One of the more famous songs to come out of the World Cup (in this case, the 1998 FIFA World Cup), Martin’s song went to #60 on the Hot 100 in 1998. However, after “Livin’ La Vida Loca” soared to #1, “Life” was serviced back to radio and retail, going to #45 on the Hot 100 and top 30 at mainstream radio. Two versions, one recorded in English and one mixing English and Spanish, were both heard here.

“Drank In My Cup”, Kirko Bangz (#28, 2012)
This Texas rapper had one moderate single on the R&B survey before going top 5 with this hit, which also charted moderately on the Hot 100. It was certified Platinum for sales of 1 million copies. He is prepping for the release of his first studio album, Bigger Than Me, which is due out later this summer. A single from it should be available soon.

“Red Solo Cup”, Toby Keith (#15, 2012)
It’s perhaps one of the silliest songs to make the charts, but both the song and video went viral, and thus, radio had to pick up on it. It went to #9 on the Country chart. A version performed on Glee by Chord Overstreet went to #92 in late 2011. Keith’s label tried unsuccessfully to market the song to mainstream radio as a Spring Break anthem last year, but the format wasn’t sipping the Kool Aid.

In addition, two songs about the “buttercup” flower went top 40: “Pucker Up Buttercup” by Jr. Walker & The All-Stars from 1967 (#31) and the classic “Build Me Up Buttercup“, a #3 single for the The Foundations in 1969. Let’s not forget about the most successful “cup” act to hit the charts, The Dixie Cups. The trio had a handful of top 40 hits in the 60’s, including the #1 “Chapel Of Love” in 1964 and the first charting version of the song “Iko Iko” a year later (#20) which would also make the Hot 100 for Dr. John (#71, 1972) and The Belle Stars (#14, 1989).

Hope you enjoyed your fill of these poppin’ pieces and don’t forget to follow the blog below and find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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PROFILE: Danny Mercer Goes From “Nowhere” To The Big Leagues

The dynamic duo of the moment.

The dynamic duo of the moment.

Were you watching the television show Katie recently? You may have noticed a performance on the show by rapper Pitbull and a new singer named Danny Mercer, who performed a track together. It’s a major change in style for the rapper and it’s a major shift in lifestyle for Mercer, a recent college graduate who is now making a huge splash into the world of music. If the song’s a hit, the payoff will be huge, but it helps that Mercer has some major backing already at such a young age. He’s got the chops and the charisma and he’s ready to pop.

Mercer was born Danny Murcia in Bogotá, Colombia and moved to Weston, FL at 6 months with his family. He developed a liking for music at an early age, learning the guitar at age 7 and writing songs by age 14. He joined the class of 2014 at Columbia University in New York City, and that big city adventure led him to an internship at Atlantic Records in the spring of 2011. That role provided him with a few contacts and he sent his demo tapes out, one of which came to Pitbull‘s attention via his manager. After some initial hesitation, Mercer lent his voice to the chorus of the rapper’s song, “Outta Nowhere”, which has now become the fifth single from the rapper’s album Global Warming. It was just announced as a single last week and went to radio this week at the CHR format, picking up 21 adds in total, including commitments in major cities like New York City, Las Vegas, Sacramento and San Francisco. It’s sure to pick up more next week as programmers return from the Memorial Day weekend.

In addition to his single of his, Mercer co-penned two other tracks on Pitbull‘s album Global Warming. He also co-wrote Nicole Scherzinger‘s “Boomerang”, which went to #6 in the United Kingdom in March. Singer Frankie J‘s current top ten hit on Spanish radio, “No Te Quiero Ver Con Él”? He was also involved with that song. According to his Twitter profile, Mercer has also worked Akon, The Wanted and, providing him a lot of exposure to a great crop of artists as a newcomer in the industry. There’s more – he’s also signed as a solo artists with Columbia Records, with an EP due late this summer. Like college, like label, I guess. He’s a busy guy, but he’s ready to take over and his perseverance and drive are definitely appreciated.

As a “hook singer” (though he’s only known for one song at this point) with a looming solo career ahead of him, there will surely be an attempt to pigeonhole him into the Bruno Mars or Mikky Ekko category, maybe even a Mike Posner type as he’s coming straight out of college into the industry. However, I’d argue that he’s even more well-rounded than even these hit singers. He can obviously play the piano and sing, but he also has jazz aspirations, having initially wanted to study jazz guitar before choosing to go to New York City. He also has a Latin appeal having written songs in Spanish, which could prove really useful down the line. Plenty of singers like Enrique Iglesias and Shakira have used the technique of recording singles in both English and Spanish versions to great success; who says Mercer can’t be next? He writes R&B music, he writes dance music… and let’s face it, the hook of “Outta Nowhere” sounds sonically like it belongs in a OneRepublic song, so he can easily transition into rock. Dare I say he’s a musical chameleon? It’s clear that the guy can work across the spectrum and get the job done while balancing all he has to do in college. Now that he’s graduated early, he can focus solely on his music without any other distractions.

It will be interesting to see what kind of trajectory happens for Mercer, but with Pitbull to help him out for the ride, the dog-eat-dog world of the biz may as well be muzzled while he’s unleashed on the charts.

Liking the sounds of Danny Mercer so far? Let me know! Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.


Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News

Start Spreading The News: Grouplove Have A “Ways To Go” With Second LP

Their name's on the tip of my "Tongue".

At least their fans will be Happy.

They were one of my top discoveries last year with their biggest U.S. single to date and now, they’ve returned with a potentially new sound. That would be Grouplove, the rock band out of Los Angeles. The beginning of their second era is dawning on us and expectations are high for the band to deliver another solid record. Well, at least my expectations are. Before their new stuff makes its way onto the ‘net, I’ll be providing you with some dates and a little information on some things to come. First, a little bit of history.

The group formed back in 2009, putting out a self-titled six song EP in the summer of 2010 and opening for several big acts before gaining the attention of Atlantic Records and the sub-label Canvasback, most notable for a few other indie acts. After signing with them later that year, their EP was re-released and a single from it, “Colours”, gained some minor attention on Alternative radio, peaking at #25 in the fall of 2011. That could’ve been it for them. However, their big break came last summer when the group’s “Tongue Tied” was featured on an episode of the television show Glee at the same time that it was climbing in airplay. That resulted in a #1 on the Alternative chart in June. It also achieved a top ten peak at AAA radio (#6), while become a moderate crossover on both the Hot AC (#18) and CHR (#20) radio surveys. Followup single “Itchin’ On A Photograph” moseyed its way to #10 by November at Alternative, but didn’t seem to catch on anywhere else, and that was the end of the era. Luckily, the group’s been on tour since then, and they have a few dates planned at festivals and other events through the month of June. Next month is when we’ll also be having our first taste of some new music from the quintet.

This first popped up under the radar about two weeks ago, so it came as a surprise to me when I heard about it. In another two weeks, we’ll be able to hear Grouplove‘s leadoff single from their forthcoming effort, titled “Ways To Go”. It’ll be on iTunes on June 11 and goes for adds at Adult Alternative and Alternative radio two weeks after that (though it’ll likely pick up a lot of action pre-adds date.) There are a few videos of the songs on YouTube from their concerts this past spring, with this one being a more recent clip of the full song. On first listen, the song seems to be a little more electro than some of their prior stuff, which was more straight-forward rock. I don’t think we really need another MGMT or Passion Pit at the moment, but let’s face it, every band is having their 80’s synthfest phase: Fitz & The Tantrums, Neon Trees, Phoenix, etc. There’s nothing wrong with it, but that being said, I wasn’t expecting it from Grouplove. I guess we’ll see if anything changes when the studio version comes out. It does seem like it could be a catchy song. I’m putting it in my “OK” category for now just because of the overall sound and the repetitiveness of it. (If you don’t know your name by now, you will never never never know it. Woo-ooh-ooh.)

The band’s second full-length album, Spreading Rumors, will be in stores on September 17 on Canvasback/Atlantic. This comes nearly two years to date from the release of their first album, Never Trust A Happy Song, released on September 13, 2011. Coincidence? Perhaps. I haven’t really seen any news on the direction of the album, tracklisting, and other general information, but a date is good enough for now. A pre-order for the album should hopefully be available soon. Sounds like the label is invested in it if there’s a three-month window from the single premiere to the album release. Let’s hope for the best.

Start marking your calendars up because time will fly and pretty soon, “Ways To Go” and Spreading Rumors may just be flying up the charts.

For more news on your favorite artists in the pop and rock world, follow the blog below and find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (May 28)

It's all in the Mix.

Mixing it up.

The day after Memorial Day isn’t the most eventful for new music, but if you’re looking for something to freshen up your playlist, here are the new album and single releases for May 28:

  • My pick of the week is the first album by U.K. girl group Little Mix, titled DNA. It’s been out in Europe since November, where the group has now had four top-40 singles off the effort. The 12-track (standard) or 16-track (deluxe) album features the recent single “Wings”, which made the top 30 on CHR radio. (iTunes)
  • Rocker John Fogerty is back with his first album in four years, Wrote A Song For Everyone. It’s an album of collaborations with artists like Bob Seger and Keith Urban covering Fogerty’s classic cuts. (iTunes)
  • Seattle band Alice In Chains release their second album with singer William DuVall entitled The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Two songs have made the top 5 at Active Rock radio for the band, including newest single “Stone”, which is at #3. (iTunes)
  • R&B singer and hit songwriter The-Dream is out with his IV Play album. The current single is the title track, which is struggling at Urban radio. (iTunes)
  • A remastered edition of the classic 1976 album by Paul McCartney and Wings, the live Wings Over America, is out in several different digital and physical combinations this week. It went to #1 on the U.S. album chart back in 1977. (iTunes)
  • The Tony-nominated soundtrack to the play Kinky Boots, with music by Cyndi Lauper, is released this week. The production has a total of thirteen nominations. (iTunes)
  • The television show True Blood is out with a fourth compilation of songs from the series, including acts like Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket. (iTunes)
  • Legend Tony Bennett and late jazz icon Dave Brubeck release Bennett & Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962, which features songs like ‘”I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and “Take Five”. (iTunes)
  • Lastly, British act BΔSTILLE are out with a new EP for the States, Haunt, featuring their international hit “Pompeii”. (iTunes)

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

  • “L.A. Story”, new from rapper Sammy Adams and singer Mike Posner. (iTunes)
  • “Walks Like Rihanna”, the latest single from boy band The Wanted. (iTunes)
  • “Wild”, a fresh new single from Jessie J featuring rapper Big Sean. A European version also features rapper Dizzee Rascal. (iTunes)

Next week features a ton of rock acts: Filter, Queens Of The Stone Age and Portugal. The Man are among them. Can any of them rock it to the top? A preview is coming in seven!

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Coming Back ‘Round: A Bevy Of “Boomerangs”

Popular words in song titles come and go based on crazes or merely coincidence. Sometimes two songs are released at the same time with the exact same title, but with different lyrics and melodies. For example, in 1979, “Crazy Love” by The Allman Brothers Band and Poco were out at the same time and both in the top 40 for a week in April, both completely unique songs. So, it was surprising when I saw a song going to one particular radio format recently and remembered this is not the first or second, but the fourth time this same song title has been issued as a single globally in just the past few months. That would be “Boomerang”, like the one you throw in the air that whirls around and comes back. Recently, it’s come back into our musical consciousness in a rare event. Three are currently out now, while one peaked out a few months back. Here they are:

What a Doll.

What a Doll.

Release Date: March 10 (U.K.)

She’s the former lead singer with Eden’s Crush and the Pussycat Dolls and she’s had some decent success as a solo act over in Europe. Her album Killer Love produced several hits there a few years back. Her latest song was co-produced by Scherzinger’s song and music video premiered in late January, while a digital download was made available in early March. Though the song went top ten in Ireland, Scotland and the United Kingdom, it generally didn’t perform well anywhere else it was released. No album followed it, but she is in the process of recording one, which could be out as she judges on the tenth season of the U.K.’s version of The X Factor, which will likely return at the end of August. Scherzinger’s solo run in the U.S. never took off besides some minor airplay, so don’t expect this one to get promoted here. Look for more information on new music from Scherzinger, including a music video for an Italian single with Eros Ramazzotti that will premiere next month.

Download Scherzinger’s “Boomerang” on iTunes (U.K. only.)

Just like that title, they keep comin' around.

Release Date: March 22 (United States)

We’ve loved them for over two decades now as they climbed the charts with hits like “One Week” and “Pinch Me”. Their latest album, their first in three years, is titled Grinning Streak and it’s their second without founding member Steven Page. However, the band has soldiered on and looks to have produced another solid album full of goodies. It’ll be in stores next week and I’ll be picking up my copy. I did a review of the song back in March when I first heard it, which you can view here. (Hint: I really like it.) It was co-written by band member Ed Robertson and Zac Maloy and went to AAA radio in the U.S. earlier this month. The song is doing well in the group’s native Canada, where it’s approaching the top ten on their Adult Contemporary chart and is just below the top 50 at Hot Adult Contemporary radio. It’s been added to handful of stations here in the U.S., but not enough to make a significant impact yet. However, it’s just getting started, so stay tuned to hear it on your local station.

Download BNL’s “Boomerang” on iTunes.

The stage is Set.

The stage is Set.

THE SUMMER SET – “Boomerang”
Release Date: April 16 (United States)

This quintet is originally from Scottsdale, AZ and have been together since 2007. They’re now with their third label, Fearless Records, which is known for housing other alternative and independent acts like Breathe Carolina and Mayday Parade. The group recently competed in a contest sponsored by Macy’s for the chance to win a performance spot at the third annual iHeartRadio Music Festival among two dozen other acts. Pop duo Megan & Liz ended up as the winners last year. Well, it turns out that they indeed won it. Congrats guys! That’ll be taking place in mid-September. In the meantime, this single of theirs went to CHR radio back in April and has about 20 stations on it thus far, including one of the top stations in Chicago. It may be sticking around as the label looks to boost their presence on the airwaves in anticipation for their gig in Las Vegas. We shall see, but the song’s catchy enough to be a summer hit. Check out a preview of their forthcoming music video.

Download Summer Set’s “Boomerang” on iTunes.

No monkeying around.

No monkeying around.

LUCY SCHWARTZ – “Boomerang”
Release Date: May 22 (United States)

From Los Angeles, this 23-year-old singer has been recording since 2007 when she was still in high school. She’s been involved in a lot of charity efforts in her time in the industry. She’s been in lucky in that she’s been able to place songs on the soundtracks to many movies during this time, including Shrek Forever After and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. One of her songs is currently being used in the film What Maisie Knew, which had a limited opening a few weeks back. This time around, her composition is being featured on the new Netflix-only season of the once-cancelled FOX show Arrested Development, which just debuted on the service yesterday and has already received a ton of buzz. This is Schwartz’s first single not to be independently released by herself, which is true of her first two albums and EPs. Instead, she’s opted for a deal with Red Light Management for airplay purposes. Schwartz’s song is being serviced to AAA radio on July 1. Her album, Timekeeper, is out in stores on August 6.

Download Schwartz’s “Boomerang” on iTunes.

Just in case you were wondering, only two songs with the word “boomerang” in them have hit the top 40 on the Hot 100 since its 1958 start. In 1962, Charlie Drake went to #21 with “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”, and in 1965, Jr. Walker & The All-Stars got to #36 with “Do The Boomerang”. I also liked a 2011 single by the Plain White T’s called “Boomerang”, but nobody really remembers that one. Maybe you’ll remember one of these songs listed above a little more.

Which one of these four “Boomerang” songs is your favorite? Let me know! Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.


Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News

Highlights from Adam’s Top 40: May 26, 2013

Third time lucky.

Third time lucky.

38. Hunter Hayes – Somebody’s Heartbreak
37. Mayer Hawthorne – Her Favorite Song | HIGHEST DEBUT

30. Maroon 5 – Love Somebody (37)
21. Sheppard – Let Me Down Easy (27)
17. Barenaked Ladies – Boomerang (22)
16. Bruno Mars – Treasure (24) | BIGGEST MOVER — two weeks
06. Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky (13)

10. Walk Off The Earth – Red Hands (11) | PEAK: #10
09. Matt Hires – Restless Heart (07) | PEAK: #07
08. Kelly Clarkson – People Like Us (08) | PEAK: #08
07. Fitz & The Tantrums – Out Of My League (05) | PEAK: #02
06. Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky (13) | PEAK: #06
05. Michael Bublé – It’s A Beautiful Day (04) | PEAK: #01 for four weeks
04. Florida-Georgia Line featuring Nelly – Cruise (06) | PEAK: #04
03. Daniel Powter – Crazy All My Life (03) | PEAK: #03
02. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors (02) | PEAK: #02
01. Passenger – Let Her Go (01) | PEAK: #01 for three weeks

Top 10 Next In Line:
1. Lee DeWyze – Silver Lining (1)
2. Pink featuring Lily Rose Cooper – True Love (2)
3. Jillette Johnson – Cameron (4)
4. Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments (5)
5. Andy Grammer – Crazy Beautiful (-)
6. One Direction – Rock Me (3)
7. Sammy Adams featuring Mike Posner – L.A. Story (10)
8. Mika featuring Ariana Grande – Popular Song (8)
9. Lawson featuring B.o.B – Brokenhearted (-)
10. Lana Del Rey – Young And Beautiful (-)

In The Mix:
98 Degrees – Impossible Things (new)
Alpha Rev – Sing Loud (new)
Bon Jovi – What About Now
Britney Spears – Ooh La La
David Cook – Laying Me Low
Demi Lovato – Made In The USA
Gin Wigmore – Black Sheep (new)
John Newman – Love Me Again (new)
Michael Bublé – Close Your Eyes (new)
OneRepublic – Counting Stars
Parachute – Can’t Help (new)
Paramore – Still Into You
Quadron – Hey Love
Shinedown – I’ll Follow You
Taylor Swift featuring Ed Sheeran – Everything Has Changed
Tegan & Sara – I Was A Fool
The Cab – Angel With A Shotgun (new)
The Script – Millionaires
The Villians – (My) Rainy Day Girl

Chart Notes:

  • Passenger‘s “Let Her Go” is now up to three weeks at #1 on my chart after continuing its worldwide domination. The last time a song held the top spot for less than three weeks was in October, when Andy Grammer spent two weeks at #1 with “Miss Me”. Grammer’s potential fourth top-40 hit, “Crazy Beautiful”, debuted on iTunes this week and could make my chart as early as next week.
  • Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the luckiest of them all? Could be Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams, who take “Get Lucky” up another seven spots to #6. Two “Lucky” songs have gone to #2 by Britney Spears (2000) and a duet from Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat (2009). Also new to the top ten is Walk Off The Earth, who rise 11-10 with their first charting single, “Red Hands”. Looks like they only thing they’re guilty of is having a great song.
  • Canada’s Barenaked Ladies move up from 22-17 this week with “Boomerang”, their first song to make my chart in three years. That was “You Run Away”, which went to #5 and spent twenty weeks in the top 40. Their newest hit is also featured in a post that I’ll be putting up early this week. Don’t miss it.
  • Another two songs debut this week, the Highest of them at #37. “Her Favorite Song” becomes the first song to make my chart for 34-year-old Mayer Hawthorne and it also features backup vocals from British musician Jessie Ware. Hawthorne narrowly missed my top 40 last year with “The Walk”; Ware is in my Top 10 Next In Line with “Wildest Moments”.
  • With his second single to make my chart, young Country singer Hunter Hayes enters at #38 with “Somebody’s Heartbreak”. It went to #1 on Country radio earlier this year; it’s now crossing over. First single “Wanted” peaked at #5.

See my full chart on the M4BCC message board.

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SINGLE PREMIERE: Jessie J featuring Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal – “Wild” (+ Lyrics)

Young, "Wild" and free.

Young, “Wild” and free.

It’s not about the money, money, money… but it is about the new single. British singer Jessie J, best known for songs like “Domino” and “Price Tag” and her judging role the U.K. version of The Voice, is back with a new single, the first from her forthcoming second album. The song, “Wild”, features rapper Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal for a more urban flavor. It also sounds a bit like “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyoncé. Will the change in direction help her or hurt her on the charts? We’ll see in the next few weeks. Check out the song and lyrics below. Enjoy!

Watch the premiere of “Wild”. / Download “Wild” on iTunes.

(P.S. If anybody wants to help me out on Dizzee’s rap, that would be helpful…)


[Verse 1]
If I go hard let me tell you that it’s worth it
Play the right cards, I ain’t afraid to work it
Brush them right off when they say I don’t deserve it
Hands on my heart, you keep my fire burning

Oh it feels so crazy when you scream my name
Love it when you rock me over every day
When I think about it I could go insane
And we are as beautiful, I’m blown away

[Chorus x2]
If this is a dream, won’t open my eyes
Am I asleep? No I’m alive
I just can’t believe that this is my life
In my fantasy, we’re running wild

[Verse 2]
When it gets rough and the rain starts pouring
I turn up the heat ’cause the drama ain’t important
Let ’em all talk-talk, I’mma just ignore it
Hands on my heart, you keep me moving forward

Oh it feels so crazy when you scream my name

[Rap – Big Sean]
B I G Sean don, OK
Today I woke up feeling like the mayor
Spent about an hour looking in the mirror
As I should, as much as I been through
It’s a wonder I look this damn good
Probably make it out any situation
That you try to put me into
If I swim with the piranhas guaranteed
That I’mma probably have a fish dinner
Met a young girl with a sexy shape
But like Jessie J, that we escapade where it’s extra shade
She make me wanna give and not take like collection plates
Wow, all the awards, brawls, call, wall to wall was all a mirage
And I could lose it all tonight
Just to show the world I could do it twice, live my life

[Chorus x2]
If this is a dream, won’t open my eyes
Am I asleep? No I’m alive
I just can’t believe that this is my life
In my fantasy, we’re running wild

[Rap – Dizzee Rascal]
… double the dollar
On my jetsettin’ rhythm, more hits than a white collar
But I can’t be buffed, flow tight like Bob Marley’s locks (I can’t be dropped)
I’m at the peak and I can’t be touched, I’m wil n’ out
… I can’t be stopped
Pull up the gnarly …
Opposite of calmly, I bet I get the party hard, I can’t be bluffed
Ten years plus runnin’ the game, you brothers just come in the game
But now I’m coming again, to get the people goin, …insane
100,000 people going bonkers when I’m out in the rain
Women on shoulders, … shouting my name
I’m willing to reign, why would I complain?
I thought I was the boy in the corner
But I’m in the penthouse and your boy is a baller
I believe in

[Chorus x2]
If this is a dream, won’t open my eyes
Am I asleep? No I’m alive
I just can’t believe that this is my life
In my fantasy, we’re running wild

Wild wild w-whoa (x4)

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REWIND: The Quintessential Summer Song Turns 50

The true Boys of Summer.

The true Boys of Summer.

When you think summer, especially the music of the summer, you might think of a reggae act, like Bob Marley. He transcends the generations with his classic songs like “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Three Little Birds”, which fill the senses with summer even in the coldest months. You may also think of a country act, like Jimmy Buffett. His catalogue of fun novelties like “Cheeseburger In Paradise” and “Margaritaville” could make anyone want to join the nation of Parrotheads in their eternal poolside party. However, at least for me, the act most synonymous with the summertime is The Beach Boys, those five guys from Hawthorne, California who crowded the radio and the beaches with their hot mix of surf pop and psychedelic sounds beginning in the 1960’s. Today, we reach a milestone for one of their first big hits, a rocking and rolling boogie on a boogie board down the coast of the Golden State.

On this date back in 1963, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” reached its highest peak on the Hot 100, climbing a notch to #3, ultimately blocked out by Little Peggy March‘s “I Will Follow Him” (#2) and “If You Wanna Be Happy” by Jimmy Soul (#1). At the time, it was the group’s biggest single to date, having just hit the top 40 the previous year for the first time with “Surfin’ Safari” (#14). “Surfin’ U.S.A.” was the only song from the parent album of the same name to hit the Billboard charts, while the album itself did one spot better with a #2 peak on the Billboard 200.

If you’re a fan of music from the 50’s, you know that this classic is based around the melody of the Chuck Berry hit titled “Sweet Little Sixteen”. It went to #2 in 1958. The song was published under the same company that Berry used, Arc Music, except the only songwriter listed was member Brian Wilson. Wilson states, “I started humming the melody to ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and I got fascinated with the fact of doing it, and I thought to myself, ‘God! What about trying to put surf lyrics to ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’s melody? The concept was about, ‘They are doing this in this city, and they’re doing that in that city.'” Several years later, the song’s writing credits were updated to include Berry. Arc still holds the copyright to the song. (Berry also says that he likes it.)

So, why is it the quintessential summer song? Look at any list of the definitive songs of the season and you’ll find this tune on it. It’s the energetic guitar line. It’s Mike Love’s vocal. It’s the “inside, outside, U.S.A.” chants by the other members on background. It’s all those hip hangouts they namecheck. It’s the high harmonies at the end of the chorus. It’s Carl Wilson’s guitar solo. It’s the kind of song that will leave you “pickin’ out a route” to feel the warmth of the sun and all of summer’s positivity. Even if you didn’t grow up in California or didn’t know how to surf, the song made you want to. If you were a young boy back in those days, you know you wanted to impress the girl you had a crush on by hanging on the most waves. Admit it. Yes, there were other popular songs about surfing: “Surf City” by Jan & Dean (co-written by Brian Wilson), “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen, etc., but “Surfin’ U.S.A.” was the one that popularized the genre and led to all the other hit songs ranking highly on the charts during that year. In fact, in 1963 alone, ten titles to the Hot 100 contained the word “surf” or a variant, up from three the year before. It was a phenomenon and a youth anthem all in one.

Even though it achieved its greatest fame in 1963, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” charted several other times, including cover versions. The song was re-released in the summer of 1974 to promote the compilation Endless Summer, a twenty-song effort of the group’s biggest hits and then some. It included a new b-side. The album was #1 for a week on the album chart while the single itself managed a #36 peak in its second go-around. A cover by then-teen singer Leif Garrett became his first top 40 hit in 1977, rising as high as #20. It’s been covered a number of times since then and on most of The Beach Boys tours ever since the song came out. I mean, it’s hard to overlook a song that started a top ten streak for them and remains popular fifty years after the song peaked out.

It may have missed the #1 spot by a few positions, but you know you wanna wax down your board and run to the crystal blue water when you hear it. Happy 50th anniversary, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, and keep serving up those tasty waves on the airwaves.

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PROFILE: John Newman Looks For “Love” In The U.K. And Beyond

He's not giving in.

He’s not giving in.

He became one of last year’s breakout stars on the scene in the United Kingdom with one of the top 20 selling singles of 2012: quite the introduction to the industry from someone who was planning on being a mechanic after his schooling. Meet 23-year-old John Newman, a singer I hope is going to make 2013 shake, rattle and soul with his first release as a solo artist. It’s only a matter of time before he makes the United States fall in “love” with him.

Newman was born in the small town of Settle in the country of North Yorkshire in England and was largely into house music through his early teens, though he soon developed an affection for his mother’s record collection full of R&B music of the 70’s and 80’s. He also found a liking for singer-songwriters like Ben Harper and Damien Rice, so, he learned the guitar and built a small studio in his home in 2005. He went to the College Of Music in Leeds, then moved to London where he played live and was eventually signed by Island Records last year. It was also in 2012 that he got his big break singing on a number-one record.

Newman was approached by the British electronic quartet Rudimental to appear on two of their songs from their album released a few weeks ago, Home. They both became singles from the effort. The first, “Feel The Love”, a dubstep number with a jazzy twist, easily claimed the #1 spot on the Singles Chart in the United Kingdom for a week in May of last year. It also did well in Australia, Belgium and Netherlands. It was never released in the United States. This also occurred with the followup single, “Not Giving In”, which also featured a vocal from Alex Clare. That only rose to #14, but it did feature similar jazz and dubstep elements. Newman could’ve chosen to gone that route with his new solo deal, but he’s decided to go in a more traditional direction, and it serves him well.

With a full-length album in the pipeline and a couple of dates scheduled in July for performances in the United Kingdom, Island Records is releasing the first single from the effort, a song called “Love Me Again”. It gets a U.K. release on July 1. “Love” is one of the songs that represents a huge musical melting pot that doesn’t particularly represent one particular era or style. His voice has the grit and soul of the south in the 60’s, like James Brown or Alex Chilton of The Box Tops. The strings that come in at the end of the chorus are easily late 70’s disco, very much reminiscent of the 1979 hit for Gloria Gaynor, the classic “I Will Survive”. The keys give off an early 90’s house vibe, similar to “How To Dance” by the Bingoboys and Princessa (1991) or “What Is Love?” by Haddaway (1993). Then, there’s the drum, which I attribute to a more modern approach; listen to the 2011 single by Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks, “Heart Skips A Beat” and you’ll recognize the percussion line.

Now, while this setup is perfect for the United Kingdom and will likely propel his single to the top of the charts, it’s more of a puzzle for our fragmented format system here in the United States. It could be serviced to the AAA format, but it might be seen as too commercial-sounding, especially with the really polished strings part. It could go to the Hot AC format, but again, it might be seen as too edgy because of the much-layered sound of it. Then, there’s the CHR format, who would probably pass on it for sounding too dated. There in lies the problem. I may not be picky when it comes to these kinds of songs, but certainly, a lot of people would skip right over it. However, it’s his most accessible single to date when it comes to worldwide potential. I loved it from the first listen. We’ll see if a U.S. release actually comes to fruition, because we’re definitely missing out on a good thing.

He has the style in his button down and jacket and he has the sound with his seamless ability to roll through the decades without missing a beat. With a video approaching 500,000 hits on YouTube and 125,000 streams on his SoundCloud account, Newman didn’t have to wait too long for the public to love him again. It’s all right there in front of him.

Watch the video for Newman’s debut solo single, “Love Me Again”. / Pre-order “Love Me Again” on iTunes (U.K. only.)

Are you already fan of Newman’s collaborations with Rudimental and looking forward to his solo material? Are you just discovering him for the first time? Let me know! Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.


Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News, Single Reviews

“Eyes” On The Prize: Pop Goes To The Pupils

To see or not to see… that’s not really a question, but it is the subject of today’s post. Two songs are taking the field with “eyes” in their song titles: two very different artists from two very different countries going to two very different formats. Whether you’re swaying to the summer breeze of a pop melody or swaying to the dreamy flavor of a romantic rendezvous, we’ve got all sorts of mood music packed up for the beach and the boats. So, take a swim into this look at two new singles and put your goggles on. Your eyes are going to need them. Let’s go on then.

"Pretty" serious stuff.

“Pretty” serious stuff.

CODY SIMPSON – “Pretty Brown Eyes”
Release Date: at radio now

16-year-old Cody Simpson has been recording for three years now, releasing his first single in Australia back in 2010, “iYiYi”, featuring Flo Rida. He’s gained a pretty large fanbase, and since 2011, has been managed by Scooter Braun, who also manages teen singer Justin Bieber. After a few EPs and one studio album last year called Paradise, Simpson is back with a second full-length release in stores on July 16, titled Surfer’s Paradise. I guess he really likes the idea of chilling in a pleasurable place. This is the first single from it, which is not a hot Mint Condition cover (for those of you 90’s fans out there), and was issued to mainstream radio during this past week. In a world of Justin Bieber, Austin Mahone and Conor Maynard, among other young male singers, Simpson has struggled just as the latter two have to break the American scene, especially when it comes to radio. Two of his prior singles have been serviced here, one in the summer of 2011 (“On My Mind”) and one late last year (“Wish U Were Here” featuring Becky G) that have struggled to pick up airplay and never really go anywhere with limited larger market support. A video for the song premiered late last month and has amassed three million views on YouTube thus far. It’s your typical summer video with Simpson shirtless at the pool, trying to impress a few ladies that just happen to be there. We’ll see if the results for this single are “pretty” for Mr. Simpson and crew.

No way to "Close" the era.

No way to “Close” the era.

MICHAEL BUBLÉ – “Close Your Eyes”
Release Date: June 24 (U.K.)

It’s been several months since singer Michael Bublé began on a peppy note with the lead single from To Be Loved: the international hit, “It’s A Beautiful Day”. It’s still going strong here in the U.S. at several music formats. Now comes word via a weekly release schedule that Bublé is moving onto a second single overseas. “Close Your Eyes” is a change of pace from that first release, a full-fledged ballad that’s based around a piano and string accompaniment before gradually adding guitar and drum. The song was co-written by our favorite Canadian crooner, long-time collaborator Alan Chang (who has been behind all of his original song releases) and, in a bit of a surprise, Jann Arden. She’s another Canadian singer, far more successful in her native country, but best known in the States for her 1996 hit in which she looks for some advice to give on how to be “Insensitive”. It went to #12 on the Hot 100. (Sadly, Bublé has never been that high, only going to #24 with his biggest single to date, “Haven’t Met You Yet”.) This choice should come as no surprise to his diehard fans; it’s a favorite among them, with a tender lyrics about a woman who is “one of a kind… an angel dressed an armor/You’re my life and my safe harbor.” Though “Close Your Eyes” only has a release date in Europe at this point, it will likely serve as the second single in the United States as well once 143 and Reprise stop pushing “Beautiful” at radio. His American tour begins in September.

What song will you be keeping your “eyes” on this summer? Don’t blink or you might miss them topping the charts. Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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