Monthly Archives: October 2013

Too Cool For Ghoul: A Happening Halloween Playlist

Pumpin' up the pumpkins.

Pumpin’ up the pumpkins.

Alright, all you twerk or treaters, gather ’round because it’s time to crank up the jukebox for this year’s Halloween festivities. Of course, there will be the all-time classics: “The Monster Mash”, “Thriller”, “Werewolves Of London”, etc. Those are just dandy, but how about some more current songs to add into the mix? After all, we’ve got to flavor this playlist sweeter than a bag of candy corn. These ten songs will definitely set the mood for the party, whether big or small. So, if you’re up for some ghoulish grabs from the top of today’s pops, listen to these spooky sounds that the scarecrows and skeletons approve of this eve:

BASTILLE – “Of The Night”
This dark, moody single from All This Bad Blood haunts with strange vocal effects and an eerie set of bells. Released in the U.K. in three weeks, the video (see above) fits the theme perfectly: a series of crime scene investigations and singing corpses. Lovely.

BONNIE MCKEE – “Sleepwalker”
This “inbetwingle” (so says McKee) between her single “American Girl” and whatever her next release is an edgy dance piece created for the zealous zombies of the night: “You wake me up/I was just a sleepwalker/Bring me back to the land of the living.”

EMINEM featuring RIHANNA – “The Monster”
Just released earlier this week, the latest from the dynamic “Love The Way You Lie” duo has a big hook from the Barbadian singer and deals lyrically with the fear and paranoia of the unknown that lies beneath. It’s not very dark, but it’s still powerful.

First a hit on Alternative radio, this single from the quartet is now all over the popular airwaves, a song that comes from a dark place and flourishes with that pounding beat. Their trademark sound on this and “Radioactive” is tailor made for the holiday.

One of the highlights of The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, “Blood” takes its cues from “Thriller”, itself a thrilling track with a prominent guitar solo and freaky reversed violin lines. Timberlake attempting to do his best Vincent Price? I will pass on that.

KATY PERRY – “Ghost”
The ballad lifted from her recent #1 album, PRISM, is technically about an ex-lover breaking it off, but the Phantom Of The Popera still lives on and slows down the tempo a bit. While not the strongest song on the album, it won’t soon be disappearing.

KE$HA – “Supernatural”
She just premiered the second season of My Crazy Beautiful Life on MTV last night, and rumor has it there’s a video in the works for this song. This slick pop anthem is all about getting crazy and freaky; I do think she knows a thing or two about that.

MAYER HAWTHORNE – “The Innocent”
“You want it/She’s got it/The innocent are never seen again,” sings Hawthorne on this spooky jam about a mysterious lady about a girl who charms her suitors to the point of no return. Taken from Where Does This Door Go, the album track is hot one.

SIA featuring THE WEEKND and DIPLO – “Elastic Heart”
With a shrill but captivating vocal from both Sia and The Weeknd against a drum-heavy experimental backing, “Heart” has an intriguing and mysterious sensibility to it. Pretty soon, you’ll find it on the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

THE KILLERS – “Shot At The Night”
Straight out of the Steve Winwood songbook of catchy 80’s pop ditties, this “Higher Love”-influenced track, produced by the French band M83, is spacey synthesizer heaven. The Direct Hits single is a solid inclusion on here for that groovy get-together.

If you have any more suggestions, feel free to comment below, and follow PGTC by clicking the “Get Social!” tab above or the “Follow” tab at the bottom of this page.

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Storybook Children: Tales Of The Top 10 Titles

Read all about 'em.

Read all about ’em.

If you’ve taken a peek at iTunes in the last day or two, you’ve probably noticed that the new One Direction single, “Story Of My Life”, is absolutely dominating the sales charts. (I covered the premiere last Friday.) With two versions of the song up for sale, there’s no doubt that it has the makings of another top ten smash on the Hot 100 for the boys. Where it actually debuts, however, will be a mystery until next week’s revelation of the chart. Until then, it’s time to open the chart files to the chapter on sensational stories that sizzled on the music surveys. From country to rock to pop, they’re all page turners indeed. Read on:

“My True Story”, The Jive Five (#3, 1961)
The quintet from Brooklyn formed in the 50’s with that smooth a cappella sound. In addition to hitting #3 on the Hot 100, this debut single also topped the R&B charts for three weeks. The soul group charted on the Hot 100 a handful of times, but only made the top 40 one other time with 1965’s “I’m A Happy Man”, which went to #26. After their hit days were over, they notably worked with Nickelodeon on a ad campaign in the 80’s and they still occasionally perform today under a different formation.

“Love Story (Where Do I Begin)”, Andy Williams (#9, 1971)
First screened in December 1970, the movie Love Story, starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, became an instant success and grossed over $100 million at the U.S. box office. The theme from it became the last top ten single on the pop survey for the then 43-year-old Williams, his first in nearly a decade. The singer and television host passed away last year at the age of 84. Two instrumental versions of the same song charted concurrently with the Williams version, which you can listen to below.

“Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)”, Nine Days (#6, 2000)
Led by singer and guitarist John Hampson, the five-man band out of Long Island struck gold in 2000 with this catchy number and parent album The Madding Crowd. The group would chart again later that year with “If I Am”, which made the top 40 at a few radio formats, but barely edged into the top 70 on the Hot 100. After a shelved followup album with 550 Music (which was eventually released digitally), the band’s recorded on and off together independently, last putting out an EP earlier this year.

“Love Story”, Taylor Swift (#4, 2008)
She’s still on top after all these years, selling out worldwide tours and making lots of money. This was Swift’s first and only song to top both Billboard’s pop and country airplay charts (although she also pulled off the trick on Mediabase with “You Belong With Me”) and remains one of her more enduring songs in terms of radio presence today. She’s currently racking airplay at the mainstream formats with “Everything Has Changed”, a duet with Ed Sheeran, and at country stations with a solo song, “Red”.

Ah, but in the library of love songs and lyrical masterpieces, there are other top 40 stories from over the decades:
“(Theme From) Love Story”, Henry Mancini & His Orchestra (#13, 1971)
“The Story Of My Love”, Paul Anka (#16, 1971)
“Neverending Story”, Limahl (#17, 1985)
“The Story In Your Eyes”, The Moody Blues (#23, 1971)
“Both Sides Of The Story”, Phil Collins (#25, 1993)
“The Story Of My Love”, Conway Twitty (#28, 1959)
“(Theme From) Love Story”, Francis Lai & His Orchestra (#31, 1971)

…and if you really want to dig deep into depths of the dramatic, check out these two hits that pre-dated the Hot 100 (then the Billboard Top 100): “A Story Untold” by The Crew Cuts (#16, 1955) and “The Story Of My Life” by Marty Robbins (#15, 1958).

For more of the music you love, from bookworms to earworms, keep it locked on PGTC by clicking the “Get Social!” tab above or the “Follow” tab at the bottom of the page.

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

That's a Wrap.

That’s a Wrap.

Another week of hot and big new releases? Snow way! The flakes are gonna fly and so are some of these albums (up the chart), all out today, October 29:

  • This one won’t have its biggest sales week until just before the holidays wrap up, but you know Kelly Clarkson‘s Wrapped In Red will be stuffed in a lot of stockings around the globe this year. The disc is garnering rave reviews and first single “Underneath The Tree” is an absolute gem. Way to go, Kelly! (iTunes)
  • Three years after the release of their GRAMMY-winning The Suburbs, indie rockers Arcade Fire are back with Reflektor, with the title song in the top 20 at Alternative radio. Look for it to be the highest debut on next week’s chart. (iTunes)
  • Coming off the electro rockin’ “A Light That Never Comes” with DJ and producer Steve Aoki, Linkin Park is out with Recharged, a remixes album featuring that single and other tracks from their album of last year, Living Things. (iTunes)
  • Mixing hip-hop, jazz and soul music, the Robert Glasper Experiment releases a sequel to his Black Radio album, this one being Black Radio 2. The leadoff single from it, “Calls”, featuring vocalist Jill Scott, is a top 30 single at Urban AC radio. (iTunes)
  • Looking to twang things up this week? Newcomer Thomas Rhett is coming off a #1 Country radio single and title track of It Goes Like This (iTunes) and superstar Toby Keith is packing the bar for his 17th studio album, Drinks After Work (iTunes).
  • …and on the Christmas circuit this week, beyond the aforementioned Wrapped In Red by Kelly Clarkson, are a whole bunch of these tasty treats: Bad Religion‘s Christmas Songs (iTunes), Johnny Mathis‘s Sending You A Little Christmas (iTunes), Nick Lowe‘s Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family (iTunes), Susan Boyle‘s Home For Christmas (iTunes), Trace Adkins‘s The King’s Gift (iTunes) and the soundtrack to The Best Man Holiday (iTunes).
  • Other albums out this week include Ed Kowalczyk‘s The Flood And The Mercy (iTunes), Hellogoodbye‘s Everything Is Debatable (iTunes), Seether‘s 2002-2013 (iTunes), Sky Ferriera‘s Night Time, My Time (iTunes) and Yuna‘s Nocturnal (iTunes).

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

  • Overtime (EP), a six song release from Cash Cash; single “Take Me Home”, featuring Bebe Rexha, is on here. (iTunes)
  • Peace Sword (EP), a five song release from rockers The Flaming Lips; the title song is off the soundtrack to Ender’s Game. (iTunes)
  • “It’s About Time”, the leadoff release from Young The Giant‘s newest studio album, Mind Over Matter. (iTunes)
  • “Recovery”, the latest Music Mondays track from Justin Bieber. (iTunes)
  • “Story Of My Life”, a new single from boy band One Direction. (iTunes)
  • “The Monster”, the second radio single from Eminem‘s forthcoming album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. It features Rihanna. (iTunes)
  • “Venus”, another digital single from Lady Gaga‘s forthcoming ARTPOP album. (iTunes)

Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion and Eminem light up the schedule next week — see a preview of who lands where in seven.

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Sharpening Their Claus: Christmas Carols Ready To Sleigh

Singles all the way.

Singles all the way.

November 1. It’s the day after Halloween, but it’s also that dreaded day when radio stations around the U.S., specifically Adult Contemporary and Classic Hits ones, could make that call to flip their station to all-Christmas music. The horror! The holiday tunes are coming earlier than ever this year, so I guess it makes sense to highlight what’s happening before the mistletoe madness begins. Here are three singles I’m looking forward to hearing on the air as that great flip of formats marches on:

EMELI SANDÉ – “Winter Wonderland”
Label: Capitol Records / Adds Date: n/a

Here’s a gal who is having a great 2013 in America, responsible for three top 40 singles across the various airplay charts – two on her own, “My Kind Of Love” and “Next To Me”, along with the Labrinth duet “Beneath Your Beautiful”. Originally featured on an EMI sampler from last year, Sandé’s take on the nearly 70-year-old song sees a reissue this year as a part of the soundtrack to the upcoming film The Best Man Holiday, which opens on November 15. It was recorded as part of the 1 Mic, 1 Take series along with other acts like Graffiti6 and Tristan Prettyman. Understated but powerful, she’s at her best on this with that dramatic, soul-drenched voice of hers. It definitely has the potential to become the biggest Urban hit of the season.

KELLY CLARKSON – “Underneath The Tree”
Label: RCA Records / Adds Date: November 4 (AC)

Over the years, the former American Idol winner has issued renditions of Christmas classics on several compilations, including “My Grown Up Christmas List” and “O Holy Night”; now comes the ultimate test. Clarkson’s first full-length album of both original songs and remakes, Wrapped In Red, is the most anticipated holiday-themed release of the season; it hits stores tomorrow, October 29. Her first single from the effort is a masterpiece, channeling Darlene Love and Phil Spector‘s Wall Of Sound era in a perfect pop record. Produced and co-written by Greg Kurstin, the future multi-format smash is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. By the end of this holiday season, you may be asking, “Uh, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” who?”

MATTHEW MORRISON – “This Christmas”
Label: 222 Records / Adds Date: October 28 (AC)

You know him best from the television show Glee as the lovable Will Schuester, but earlier this year, Morrison released his first album with the newly formed 222 Records (from Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine), a standards album entitled Where It All Began. It did not chart. This latest single from the actor and singer comes from a forthcoming six song EP, A Classic Christmas, which looks to be a digital-only release available on November 19. Morrison’s version is a pretty faithful take on the Donny Hathaway release of four decades ago, with a lush brass section and a fantastic saxophonist paired with his vocal. Look for this one to garner a bit on Adult Contemporary play like his original 2011 single, “Summer Rain”. (No stream is up at this time.)

For even more early Christmas singles, check out all these tracks delivered to radio in the past few weeks along with their intended formats for play or are being prepped for release overseas:
CHARLIE WILSON“I Still Have You” (Urban AC)
COURTNEY RAU – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (AC)
HEART – “All Through The Night” and “Please Come Home For Christmas” (AC / Classic Rock)
OWL CITY featuring TOBYMAC“Light Of Christmas” (Christian AC / Christian CHR)

ERASURE – “Gaudete” (Europe – December 16)
LEONA LEWIS“One More Sleep” (Europe – December 2)
RICHARD & ADAM – “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In (On Christmas Day)” (Europe – December 16)
THE BIG REUNION – “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” (Europe – December 16)

Also watch out for singles from Christmas albums and EPs by Ariana Grande, Mary J. Blige, Susan Boyle, Tamar Braxton, Trace Adkins and more coming soon.

For more ho, ho, hot tracks from the snowy side of pop music, keep it locked on PGTC by clicking the “Get Social!” tab above or the “Follow” tab at the bottom of the page.

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

The Hunger for more.

A story straight out of the movies.

40. Fitz & The Tantrums – The Walker
38. One Direction – Story Of My Life | HIGHEST DEBUT

26. The Fray – Love Don’t Die (40) | BIGGEST MOVER
23. A Great Big World – Say Something (29)
17. The 1975 – Girls (24)
15. Keane – Higher Than The Sun (20)

10. Emeli Sandé – My Kind Of Love (12) | PEAK: #10
09. Bastille – Pompeii (09) | PEAK: #01 for two weeks
08. Passenger – The Wrong Direction (11) | PEAK: #08
07. New Politics – Harlem (07) | PEAK: #07
06. Katy Perry – Roar (03) | PEAK: #03
05. Imagine Dragons – On Top Of The World (04) | PEAK: #04
04. American Authors – Best Day Of My Life (06) | PEAK: #04
03. Passenger – Holes (02) | PEAK: #01 for five weeks
02. Sheppard – Hold My Tongue (05) | PEAK: #02
01. Coldplay – Atlas (01) | PEAK: #01 for three weeks

Top 10 Next In Line:
1. Bastille – Of The Night (8)
2. Tom Odell – Hold Me (2)
3. Gary Barlow – Let Me Go (7)
4. Robbie Williams – Go Gentle (10)
5. Matt Cardle – When You Were My Girl (5)
6. Switchfoot – Who We Are (4)
7. Basic Vacation – I Believe (9)
8. NONONO – Pumpin’ Blood (6)
9. Kelly Clarkson – Underneath The Tree (-)
10. Olly Murs – Hand On Heart (-)

In The Mix:
AJR – I’m Ready
Andrew Ripp – Falling For The Beat (new)
Avril Lavigne featuring Chad Kroeger – Let Me Go
Cher – I Hope You Find It (new)
Cub Sport – Paradise
Emblem3 – 3,000 Miles
Erik Hassle – Talk About It (new)
Gavin DeGraw – Make A Move (new)
HAIM – The Wire (new)
Honor By August – Already Yours (new)
Hunter Hunted – Keep Together
Katy Perry – Unconditionally
Lily Kershaw – As It Seems
Lorde – Team
Plain White T’s – The Giving Tree
Taylor Swift featuring Gary Lightbody – The Last Time
The Griswolds – Heart Of A Lion
The Killers – Shot At The Night
The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?
Vance Joy – Riptide
Yuna – Rescue

Chart Notes:

  • He couldn’t quite get three of his songs together in the top ten at one time, but that’s no problem for 29-year-old Passenger. His third hit in a row from All The Little Lights, “The Wrong Direction”, jumps from 11-8 this week. It’s currently a minor hit in The Netherlands; no word on whether the song will be released beyond that country in the coming weeks or months.
  • “Well, she can’t be what you need if she’s seventeen,” sings vocalist Matthew Healy of The 1975 on their latest hit, “Girls”, yet their single lands at #17 on the countdown after a jump from #24. It’s looking to become the second top ten entry from the band following “Chocolate”, which peaked at #2 and falls out of the top ten this week.
  • Biggest Mover of the Week takes a huge 14 spot leap from 40-26. The Fray takes ownership of that one with “Love Don’t Die”, their tenth top 40 hit and first in about a year and a half. It was co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
  • They’re just about to fall off with “Best Song Ever”, but never fear, One Direction is here with their followup single. In at #38 this week is the debut of “Story Of My Life”, the second release from Midnight Memories. The single was co-written by Jamie Scott of Graffiti6, who had my #1 song of last year with “Free”.
  • The second of two entries at #40 comes from a group I saw earlier this week for an acoustic loft show. That would be Fitz & The Tantrums with “The Walker”, the third entry to make my chart. Last time around, the sextet spent five weeks at #2 with “Out Of My League”.

See my full chart on the M4BCC message board.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne

Time to "Rock" it.

Time to “Rock” it.

Why’d she have to go and make things so complicated? Canadian pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne is no stranger to the headlines, having just married Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, nor is she a stranger to the charts. However, at least for the past few years, single and album releases from her have felt like a non-event; something that should wake up the public only to stall out and fade away, now locked up somewhere in the top 40 graveyard. Here comes a delayed fifth full-length effort from her, self-titled, which accurately maintains her teen queen image (strengths and the weaknesses) but also shows some needed growth and variety in musical tastes. This one will fly under the radar, but it could be the best music she’s put out in years.

One of the first highlights is “17”, a fun and bouncy pop number reminiscing about a time when “we were livin’ so wild and free” and “it was you and me/We were living our dream/And we were 17”. The track was co-written with Martin Johnson and Jacob Kasher, who were also involved on first single “Here’s To Never Growing Up”, but this is the stronger of the two songs. It certainly holds more substance; it’s cute without being juvenile and would have performed better at radio as the leadoff single if given the chance. That was a major mistake on Epic’s part, and unfortunately, both the label and Lavigne have paid a bit for it.

Also ranking high on my list is track six, “Give You What You Like”, co-written with Kroeger and David Hodges. The darker, more understated song about a girl questioning the notion of love and her commitment to it plays nicely off an arrangement of guitar, hand claps and tambourine, as Lavigne tempts her counterpart: “I’ve got a brand new cure for lonely/And if you give me what I want, then I’ll give you what you like.” This one is better left as album material, but it wouldn’t sound out-of-place on 2004’s Under My Skin, which may be my favorite album from her. The tone of it is really likable and her character is strong.

Elsewhere, “Bad Girl”, featuring a guest appearance from Marilyn Manson, radiates shades of Blondie and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. By far the hardest sounding track on the album, it’s the flavor that counts. “Hello Heartache” seems to be a fan favorite, which I also enjoy, a mid-tempo record in which Lavigne takes a few vocal risks and the more experimental nature of it makes it a standout. Finally, there’s “Falling Fast”, which is fairly textbook, a vulnerable acoustic-sounding ballad that builds gently as she sings, “Let’s take a chance/Take it while we can/I know you feel it too/I’m falling fast.” Straight out of the late 90’s, it can easily be compared to similar tracks in Alanis Morissette or Sarah McLachlan’s catalogues.

Unfortunately, this album also suffers some major missteps along the way. Cue “Hello Kitty”, track eight, which indeed proves that curiosity killed the cat. The “Gangnam Style” turned trashy dubstep number is loaded up “like a fat kid on a pack of Smarties” and I have no words, except perhaps that a Japanese audience will probably eat this up. After all, she has a significant fan base in that part of the world. The unnecessary cursing is also an issue on this one, just because it’s sounds so awkward. “Bitchin’ Summer”, I’m looking at you. Lastly, there’s the filler tracks – now granted, this was supposed to be released at the end of summer and maybe I would’ve given songs like “Sippin’ On Sunshine” a pass then, but that and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” bring the lineup down as a whole. I’m surprised there weren’t other considerations when it came to compiling a track listing.

Despite the lackluster tracks, I’m pleasantly surprised with how Avril Lavigne turned out. There’s a charm on this album, at least more so than on 2007’s The Best Damn Thing or 2011’s Goodbye Lullaby. However, it’s way too late to repair the damage of those two eras when it comes to the numbers. Lavigne’s audience has grown up, and though she has her moments of maturity, it can be lost considering its first two singles were childish and ran their course without making a significant impact. Couple that with the fact that Epic’s radio department has shrunk significantly this year and a general frustration of the record group from even its own acts like Cher Lloyd and Karmin and this will likely be an effort that fades from the charts pretty quickly. Nevertheless, it is one of the singer’s stronger albums to date, so I do wish her the best. Perhaps current single “Let Me Go” will act a rallying cry from the singer; after all the push backs and singles indecision, she deserves a better team behind her.

Listen to Avril Lavigne on BCharts. / Pre-order Avril Lavigne on iTunes.


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ADAM’S TOP 40 FLASHBACK: October 24, 1999

A little bit of... what's on the charts.

A little bit of… what’s on the charts.

Welcome back for another edition of Adam’s Top 40 Flashback! Every Saturday, the day before my new top 40 goes up for the week, I’ll be featuring a past countdown straight from chart files of Adam’s Top 40. They’re all here — the hit songs, the songs that flopped, and the songs that may be a little embarrassing to reflect on. This week, it’s one of my earliest official charts from the fall of 1999. I was 9, in fourth grade, and writing down all my charts on paper in my room. Those were the days. Here’s my chart from October 24, 1999:

40. STROKE 9, “Little Black Backpack”
39. 98 DEGREES, “This Gift”
37. VITAMIN C, “Me, Myself & I”

Biggest Mover(s):
WILL SMITH featuring K-CI, “Will 2K” (35-23) (12 spots)

10. JENNIFER LOPEZ, “Waiting For Tonight”
She’s an actress, a dancer, a reality TV judge, and most importantly when it comes to this post, a singer. Coming off of debut single “If You Had My Love”, Lopez struck again with “Waiting”, taken from her 1999 album On The 6. Dancing her way to another success, the song landed at #8 on the Hot 100 later that year and also charted well internationally. Lopez is back judging on American Idol this season.

09. SAVAGE GARDEN, “I Knew I Loved You”
The duo of Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones based out of Brisbane, Australia, racked up some major hits beginning in 1997 with “I Want You”. This big ballad was their last #1, spending four weeks atop the Hot 100 and five weeks leading the CHR airplay chart. It would also rank as the top song on my chart in December. The duo broke up in 2001, but Hayes has been charting solo on my top 40 since 2002.

08. SUGAR RAY, “Someday”
Mark McGrath and the boys from Newport Beach, CA, dominated the charts earlier that year with an Alternative and CHR radio smash, “Every Morning”, and this third single from 14:59 also provided a bit of airtime for them. Paired with a black-and-white video set on the beach, it had that perfect summer and early fall vibe. The group last made my chart in the summer of 2005 with “Shot Of Laughter”.

07. MANDY MOORE, “Candy”
Don’t you love those compositions from the confectionery? Moore was always one of the lessers in the Pop Princess Class of ’99 (with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson) but I liked her music, both as a pop act and singer-songwriter. She’s since publicly come out and trashed her first few albums. Still, we treasure that precious message of I’ll be forever yours, love always, Mandy.

06. CHRISTINA AGUILERA, “Genie In A Bottle”
From The Mickey Mouse Club to the Dance/Club Play charts, Aguilera is a superstar. She charted on the Adult Contemporary chart a year prior with “Reflection”, from the Disney movie Mulan, but “Genie” really put her on the map. Released in early summer, it was all over the radio by the fall and helped her self-titled debut album to sell over 9 million copies in the U.S. alone. It was my first official #1 in September.

05. BRITNEY SPEARS, “(You Drive Me) Crazy”
STOP! The needle spun out of the groove for a hot second, but then it was back to a poppin’ party hit for Spears, the third in a row from her …Baby One More Time album. It was also featured in the movie Drive Me Crazy, starring Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier. “Crazy” would spend one week at #1 on my chart in November. Spears is currently promoting a new album, Britney Jean, due December 3.

04. LEN, “Steal My Sunshine”
From their album You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush (what a title) comes this lone hit of the band’s career, led by siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo. It’s a great summer song and became a top ten hit in many countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and in the band’s native Canada, where “Steal” went to #1. They reunited in 2012 and released an album together; however, it did not chart.

03. BACKSTREET BOYS, “Larger Than Life”
Someone might have been glued to the TV when this music video came on Total Request Live, though I’m afraid I never quite learned the dance sequence. It was one of the most expensive clips in history, but it served its purpose. “Larger” was another big top ten radio single for the Boys, and would replace the song at #1 on this chart in two weeks. Parent album Millenium went 13x Platinum. Robot suit not included.

02. SANTANA featuring ROB THOMAS, “Smooth”
Everyone and their mother wanted a copy of Supernatural in 1999, leading to one of the greatest comebacks in pop music history for Santana. “Smooth” was one of the reasons for that, a huge #1 airplay and sales hit that you could not escape for some time. On my chart, it only went to #2. Shock, horror! Three years later, “The Game Of Love”, featuring Michelle Branch, went to #1 on my survey for three weeks.

01. LOU BEGA, “Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…)”
German-born David Lubega was just 24-years-old when he conquered the global music surveys with his infectious anthem, a remake of an old Pérez Prado instrumental from 50 years prior. “Mambo” would end up with a total of eight weeks at #1, this being his fifth, and would stay on through the spring of 2000. Followup single “Tricky Tricky” would also go top ten, and that would mark the end of his career on my top 40. He’s still active in his native country, releasing A Little Bit Of 80’s, a covers album, this past June.

Check back next Saturday for another Adam’s Top 40 Flashback and don’t forget to follow the blog by using the tab below or find PGTC on social media by clicking the “Get Social!” tab at the top of the page.

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SINGLE PREMIERE: One Direction – “Story Of My Life” (+ Lyrics)

Read up on this "Story".

Read up on this “Story”.

“Story Of My Life” serves as the second single from One Direction‘s forthcoming album, Midnight Memories, due in November. The song was co-written by Jamie Scott of duo Graffiti6. “Story” will be premiering around 11:00 AM Eastern.

Listen to “Story Of My Life”. / View the lyric sheet.


[Verse 1]
Written in these walls
Are the stories that I can’t explain
I leave my heart open
But it stays right here empty for days
She told me in the morning
She don’t feel the same about us in her bones
It seems to me that when I die
These words will be written on my stone

And I’ll be gone gone tonight
The ground beneath my feet is open wide
The way that I been holdin’ on too tight
With nothing in between

The story of my life, I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm
And time is frozen (the story of, the story of)
The story of my life, I give her hope
I spend her love until she’s broke
Inside the story of my life (the story of, the story of)

[Verse 2]
Written on these walls
Are the colors that I can’t change
Leave my heart open
But it stays right here in its cage

And I’ll be gone gone tonight
The ground beneath my feet is open wide
The way that I been holdin’ on too tight
With nothing in between

The story of my life, I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm
And time is frozen (the story of, the story of)
The story of my life, I give her hope
I spend her love until she’s broke
Inside the story of my life (the story of, the story of)

[Middle 8]
And I been waiting for this time to come around
But baby running after you is like chasing the clouds

The story of my life, I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm
And time is frozen
The story of my life, I give her hope (give her hope)
I spend her love until she’s broke (until she’s broke inside)
Inside the story of my life (the story of, the story of)

The story of my life (x3)

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What’s The Hassle? Erik Hassle’s All “About It”

"Talk" about a comeback.

“Talk about” a comeback.

Several years ago, Erik Hassle made a spectacular debut onto the music scene with a pop and dance fusion that led to some big hype from the blogosphere. You can include me as one of those fans as well. His smooth vocals combined with some progressive-sounding arrangements was relatively new at the time, and although it garnered mixed reaction on the national surveys, it was very much ahead of its time. Sadly, his career largely dropped off after his first single, but now the performer returns with a track ready to deliver him a second chance at stardom, “Talk About It”, released on his new American home of RCA Records. It’s fresh and a banger ready to smash. First, a bit about Hassle’s story so far in the biz.

Hassle was born in 1988 in Katrineholm, Sweden, originally wanting to get into sports before going to a secondary school primarily focused around music. Taken with this new direction, he signed a deal with the TEN Music Group out of Sweden in his teens. His debut single, “Hurtful”, off of his eventual #2 album in that country, Hassle, was released in the fall of 2008 and went as high as #11 in his native land and to #2 in Denmark. This was followed by “Don’t Bring Flowers”, which went to #25 and #11, respectively, and then a few other minor singles from an EP entitled Taken.

Meanwhile, in the United States, “Hurtful” saw a radio release to the Hot AC format during the spring of 2010 on Universal Republic, landing at #30 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs survey at a peak of about 30 radio stations at the format. It initially crossed my radar in October 2009 before making my top 40 in February 2010, climbing as high as #8 for two frames. After a 20-week run on my chart, it ranked on my Top 100 of 2010 at #36, his only charting release to date. An international reworking of his album, Pieces, never made the Billboard 200 but I quite liked it. No followup single was issued in the States; there was no need given how little “Hurtful” actually accumulated both in airplay and sales, which is still a shame to this day.

Since then, Hassle’s continued to record for label Roxy Recordings over in Sweden, and although some his additional EPs and albums have achieved minor chart peaks outside the top ten, no singles from them have charted and these recordings generally aren’t remembered as well as his debut material. He was also featured as a vocalist on an English version of Stromae‘s “Alors On Danse”, which was a hit in its original form internationally, though the remix with Hassle did garner some airplay in various parts of Europe. Again, it never would’ve done well in the U.S. in any form. Otherwise, Hassle’s been on a break, still writing music, but mostly just lying low as he tells blog Pigeons and Planes in a recent chat. That is, until now.

Giving us a little taste of his forthcoming album, title yet to be announced, Hassle’s “About” is a great piece of pop, carefully put together and crafted so beautifully. Lyrically, the song tells of a male’s take on a relationship where he recognizes that he’s not been the only man in the picture and wants out, yet he can’t deny the feelings he once had and wants to carry on in his own ideal situation with his significant other. Hassle sings, “I don’t want to talk about it, no/Then nothing would be beautiful between us/I don’t want to think about it, no/Just let me know what would call this thing between us.” A crisp vocal with a strong lyrical set over a minimalist beat combine perfectly together, making for a rich composition without being overproduced or cluttered in multiple layers. It’s a great comeback for the young singer and one that should get him a lot of notice, especially with a proper backing from RCA. Let’s hope they actually go through with it.

Looking for more information regarding Erik Hassle‘s new album soon, as well as a forthcoming North American tour coming later in 2014. “Talk About It” is available at digital retailers on November 5 and look for it In The Mix for my top 40 this weekend.

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CONCERT: Fitz & The Tantrums (Acoustic), 10/22/13 – Worcester, MA

A "League" of their own.

No tantrums here, just some good ol’ music.

Hailing from Los Angeles, soulful sextet Fitz & The Tantrums has been around for nearly five years now, but are still gaining new fans on a regular basis. From their humble beginnings playing small clubs in California to a big fall tour this year around the nation with the electro-pop duo Capital Cities, the group is making their mark on popular music with an authentic old school vibe that has shone through all aspects of the band, from their material to their look. Their biggest hit to date on my chart, “MoneyGrabber”, spent a week at the top back in 2011, a song I initially didn’t like but slowly grew into over time. That was from their first LP, 2010’s Pickin’ Up The Pieces. However, with a new album making waves on the Billboard 200 and a few songs over the radio, the five men and one woman that comprise the band are more popular than ever, having played around with their sound a bit on their most recent collection to skew in a new wave direction. However, it also remains true to their R&B roots.

Playing a short set on the fourth floor at Club Maxine’s in downtown Worcester, the band was split in half as what seems to be case with most of their radio gigs, with lead vocalist (and new father!) Michael Fitzpatrick, tambourine and vocalist Noelle Scaggs and bassist Joseph Karnes at the exclusive event with a trio of songs from their latest studio album, More Than Just A Dream, available on Elektra/Atlantic Records. With a retro-themed room at the venue and a retro-sounding band to boot, you couldn’t have asked for a better fit. Of course, the band took some pictures beforehand with several fans and were courteous about it before taking to the floor and getting down to business after a nice introduction.

First off was “The Walker”, which was recently announced as the second Alternative and AAA single from the record. It’s also received a few television placements in the last few weeks. Built around some steady whistling, the more bare arrangement still gave off as much as fun as the studio cut, with Fitzpatrick taking on a different melody. I was obviously jealous that I can’t whistle. “Walker” isn’t the only current release that’s trying to bring back that trend on the Alternative survey, but in my opinion, it’s the strongest of the bunch. (Feel free to disagree.) Next up was “Fools Gold”, another great track from the effort and very much a contender for a single down the line. I almost didn’t recognize as a stripped down piece, but it was by far the best performance of the three, with Fitzpatrick sounding more energetic vocally and Karnes plugging away at his guitar.

“Gold” was followed by a steady stream of questions from both audience members and on-air personalities – a bevy of musical influences (answers included hip-hop, soul, even a little Nirvana and Rush for Scaggs), playing with musical legend Daryl Hall on the web series Live At Daryl’s House (Fitzpatrick noted that Hall’s mother told him that he sounded like Hall, to which he responded, “Can I get a witness?”) and all the talk shows they’ve been on lately (Conan, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, etc.) Finally, they dug into “Out Of My League”, the song that recently became their first #1 song on the Alternative chart and biggest over all single of their career. We got some clapping involved, a little musical direction by Scaggs leading the crowd and the people were enjoying themselves. “League” spent five weeks at #2 on my chart back in April and May, so I’ve obviously been enjoying the song for some time, and they made sure to bring the flavor even in an acoustic setting. I’m sure it would rock more if I ever saw the full six-piece band live on stage.

The band and their label rep were in a rush to drive down to Providence for a gig after the end of this, so I wasn’t able to chat with the act or get any sort of photograph with them, but that sort of thing happens sometimes. I’m still content that I managed to see them if only for a short bit. Their smooth jams are going to continue on for a long while to come. Let’s just hope they get the same kind of embrace come the next era, especially if it’s in the same league as their latest.

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