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Loop De Loop: Sampling The Latest Dance Hits

If you’re ready to dust off your boogie shoes and dance ’til the morning light to the soundtrack of some hot sounds, look no further than these two singles to get the party jumping. Both jams are flipping some older records around and making them fresh once more. Impacting U.K.-based digital retailers within the next few weeks, the U.S. will surely be missing out if these don’t reach our shores. Here’s a little sampler of the samples and the new songs that accompany them:

Leaders of the Quack.

Leaders of the Quack.

Release Date: June 23 (U.K.)

Never did I think that Melissa Manchester‘s name would ever come up in 2014, but here we are with the latest single from the New York DJ duo of Armand Van Helden and A-Trak. Just under four years since “Barbra Streisand” got a quack at the top of the charts in Europe (and just a minor peak on the pop survey here in the U.S.), the two are back with a dance song that samples a forgotten release from the former Bette Midler backup singer turned soloist. “Energy” was originally issued in 1985 as the second single from her album Mathematics; since the title track didn’t do a whole lot of damage on the Hot 100, it was never expected to do well. However, these two guys just happened to find something cool in that hook to play around with, and now it’s the basis for the massive tune. It may be that the project remains a one hit wonder given the novelty of “Barbra”, but this is a really fun way to spin a lost 80’s gem (and rock that neon gym outfit.)

Bringin' the Illinoise.

Tunes from that toddlin’ town.

SECONDCITY – “I Wanna Feel”
Release Date: May 25 (U.K.) / at U.K. radio now

I’ve been following this single since the end of last month and I’m quite excited at how it’s progressed since then. In four weeks, you will absolutely see this track dominating the U.K. charts; both pre-orders and Shazam counts are rising. This DJ and producer was born in Chicago before moving to London, where he’s currently based and making the rounds at all of the top dance clubs. “Feel” is his first single to be released on Ministry Of Sound, the well-known dance and electronic label from across the pond. His song is based around an interpolation of the 1995 hit by Toni Braxton, “You’re Makin’ Me High”. (You can find the original line sampled in the song’s middle eight.) Not only is the original version lovely, but a remix by the Brookes Brothers is excellent as well. Between the sample, the piano and that beat that just gets you back on the floor, it’s a winner. Last week, it entered my chart at #36. “I wanna feel” that it’ll be making some big moves soon.

Which of these two new singles will you be dancing to all summer long? Let me know! Comment below or click on the “Get Social!” tab above to find PGTC on Facebook and Twitter.

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Are You Afraid Of The “Dark”? Songs In The Shadows

Lighting up the charts.

Lighting up the charts.

In the middle of a U.S. promotional tour and raking in some new stations at both the AAA and Hot AC formats, the singer and songwriter known as Passenger (born Mike Rosenberg) is looking to score his second big Stateside hit with “Scare Away The Dark”. Now, of course, when he’s had three #1 singles in a row on my personal chart, you can probably figure that “Scare” is bound to be another big record on my top 40. (Spoiler Alert: it looks like it’s going to be just outside the top ten on my next update.) However, when it comes to a national audience, things could look mighty different.

Sometimes, it’s a dark world out there, and in the world of charts, it can also be a “dark” one. Since the Hot 100 began back in 1958, there have been plenty of murky musical sensations to rank, but only a handful of them have cast their shadows up into the top ten. Grab a flashlight as we take a look back:

“Reach Out Of The Darkness”, Friend And Lover (#10, 1968)
This was only big single for this once-married duo of Cathy and Jim Post, the latter of whom was inspired to write this song from his experience at a peaceful gathering in New York City. The folky “Reach” spent three straight weeks at #10 in June.

“Dark Lady”, Cher (#1, 1974)
Nearly a decade after first charting as one half of Sonny & Cher, the legendary Mrs. Sarkisian put her solo career into full gear with two consecutive #1 singles, 1973’s “Half-Breed” and this. She’s currently performing on her Dressed To Kill tour.

“Dancing In The Dark”, Bruce Springsteen (#2, 1984)
They call him The Boss, and given the seven top ten singles in a row from Born In The U.S.A., that nickname was especially true then. “Dancing” stalled out in the #2 spot on the Hot 100 for four weeks, but it spent two weeks at #1 on rival Cashbox.

“On The Dark Side”, John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band (#7, 1984)
Originally from the soundtrack to Eddie And The Cruisers, “On” originally peaked at a lowly #64 in 1983 and the film didn’t do much better. Thanks to some help from HBO, the song earned a second run based on the repeat airings and went top ten.

“Piano In The Dark”, Brenda Russell featuring Joe Esposito (#6, 1988)
In perhaps one of the most interesting comeback stories of the 80’s, Russell trumped her #30 peak for 1979’s “So Good, So Right” with this big top ten ballad in 1988. It hit the top ten once again in 2012 as a sample on rapper Flo Rida‘s hit “I Cry”.

“Coming Out Of The Dark”, Gloria Estefan (#1, 1991)
After a pretty serious bus accident in March 1990 during the promotion of her Cuts Both Ways album, Estefan spent much time in rehabilitation before returning the studio to record Into The Light. “Coming” is her last #1 on the Hot 100 thus far.

“Dark Horse”, Katy Perry featuring Juicy J (#1, 2014)
Just a few weeks ago, this was the #1 single on both CHR radio and the Hot 100. It was the third to be released from Perry’s PRISM and is the biggest of the era so far. However, it’s now falling as “Birthday” unwraps the gift of fresh airplay and sales.

For more ditties that keep it “dark” and lyrics that let the light in, follow the blog below or find PGTC on social media by clicking the “Get Social!” tab.

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Be Good Johnny: The “Doe” Re Mi Of Chart Ditties

From dusk 'til "John".

From dusk ’til “John”.

The latest single from B.o.B is a collaboration with Priscilla on a song called “John Doe”. For the North Carolina rapper, it’s his sixth top 40 hit on the CHR chart as a main credit act, while it becomes the second for the singer who once charted as Priscilla Renea. (You may remember her minor 2009 entry called “Dollhouse”.) Sometimes, it’s all in the name, and in this case, a first name that’s been used in a lot of other hit singles throughout the decades. Considering that it was the 75th most popular name for boys last year, there’s quite a few more of them in the world.

So, with all the “John” song titles out there, I’ve limited it to just those that hit the top ten. After all, we can only hope that “John Doe” rises to the same region this summer. There’s some classic tunes among the handful of titles, plus a few fluffy numbers that are just so sugary sweet. Get ready to take attendance, because the pop pupils are all here:

Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode” (#8, 1958)
He’s an icon and a pioneer of early rock ‘n’ roll music in the 1950’s. Released during the summer of 1958, “Goode” peaked just a few weeks before Billboard introduced its Hot 100 chart and climbed to #8 on what was then known as the Top 100.

Jimmy Dean, “Big Bad John” (#1, 1961)
Before breaking into the Breakfast business, Dean was a Country singer, and his biggest single topped that chart along with the Hot 100. After a string of hits in the 60’s, he would last break the Hot 100 in 1975. Dean passed away in 2010 at age 81.

Shelley Fabares, “Johnny Angel” (#1, 1962)
Known for her role on The Donna Reed Show, Fabares went from actress to singer and scored a #1 hit with her debut chart single. She managed another moderate hit for Colpix Records, a followup called “Johnny Loves Me”, which peaked at #21.

Joanie Sommers, “Johnny Get Angry” (#7, 1962)
The singer from Buffalo, NY broke into Billboard’s top ten in 1962 with what’s considered one of the more unusual songs in her catalogue of jazz and standards. It was her only top 40 single, and by the 1970’s, she began to pursue commercial work.

The Beach Boys, “Sloop John B” (#3, 1966)
Now, this “John” obviously isn’t a person; it refers to a sail boat of sorts, and it cruised through the chart waters to the high tides of the top 5. The origins of the song date back to the 1920’s. “Sloop” has been covered by several acts since it charted.

Dion, “Abraham, Martin and John” (#4, 1968)
After a string of flops, the former teen idol turned to religion, got clean, and recorded the original version of this tribute to four important American figures. It was a much-needed comeback, becoming his biggest song in five years and going Gold.

In 1971, a medley of this song along with “What The World Needs Now Is Love” went to #8 in a unique composition by disc jockey Tom Clay. It also featured interviews and clips from political figures of the time.

The Beatles, “The Ballad Of John and Yoko” (#8, 1969)
As “Get Back” topped the Hot 100 for five weeks, this tune was released as a followup to it, spending three straight weeks at #8 in July. Some radio stations at the time objected to playing the song due to religious issues. Of course, it’s all fine today.

El DeBarge, “Who’s Johnny?” (#3, 1986)
After leaving his family group at the end of their most successful era, he scored as a solo act in 1986 with a single from the film Short Circuit. Neither of the two followups from a self-titled album out later that year on Gordy Records went top 40.

For more games with names and titles with titles, follow the blog below or find PGTC on social media by clicking the “Get Social!” tab.

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Change Of Hart: “Give” Some Love To Emerson Hart’s Latest

If you could only see him now...

If only you could see him now…

44-year-old singer/songwriter Emerson Hart, originally from Washington, PA, has been through a lot in his 15+ years in the music industry, from Tonic‘s mainstream success with 1997’s “If You Could Only See” and album Lemon Parade to co-writing the theme to NBC’s American Dreams and creating his own album just a few years ago. However, it’s been a while since anything new from him or his band has popped up on my radar, and considering his past history on my top 40 chart, his return has been highly anticipated for the last four years or so. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Hart’s first solo album, Cigarettes and Gasoline, was issued on Manhattan Records back in the summer of 2007. It was huge for me during my senior year of high school. The album placed two consecutive #1 singles on my chart: “If You’re Gonna Leave” (eight weeks) and “I Wish The Best For You” (four weeks, 2008.) “Leave” would also rank as the #1 song on my Top 100 of 2007, while “Wish” ended up in 5th for 2008. It was the start of a huge success story for the singer on my survey, though radio wasn’t playing as nicely; “Leave” peaked at #19 on Hot AC radio, while “Wish” stalled out in the 20’s.

In 2010, a reformed Tonic issued a self-titled album on 429 Records; lead single “Release Me” (with that kind of title, it was bound to be released) rose to #7 on my top 40 in the summer of that year, while it received minimal Hot AC airplay once again. No other singles were serviced, and at the point, Hart and the band disappeared from the charts. They still played live, but I was always curious about when a new band or solo single would see the light of day. Well, it’s finally here.

“The Best That I Can Give” leads off Hart’s second solo album, Beauty In Disrepair, and goes to the Hot AC airwaves on February 3 via his new label BMG. During a premiere with USA Today last week, Hart stated the song was inspired by a relationship with his now wife that almost turned sour given his past baggage going into it. He says, “That was the song I wrote when I almost blew it — but I didn’t.” Luckily enough, he didn’t blow the song either; it’s a fantastic and sincere tune.

Co-written by David Hodges, “Best” sees Hart embrace a pop-driven sound with a hint of rock, similar to the direction of his last album. The performer sings, “Back when we started before the storm came/I gave you sometimes, you needed always/Thought we were fine, but you saw it first/Now, I can give you the life you deserve.” It’s pretty touching and it certainly means a lot to him personally. At the same time, it’s also pleasant melodically and will likely pick up a lot of support from his and his band’s base. Plus, it may be just worthy enough for a debut on my personal chart this weekend.

Be on the lookout for Beauty In Disrepair later this Spring (a date has yet to be announced.) Meanwhile, Hart’s current solo tour continues through mid-February before a string of date with Tonic from later that month into March. Also, you’ll find my latest top 40 listing up on Sunday morning where you can see if “The Best That I Can Give” gives the chart life with its entrance. I think that would be “best”, wouldn’t you? Emerson Hart has still got it — welcome back, sir.

(Listen to “The Best That I Can Give” on SoundCloud)

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SINGLE PREMIERE: Neon Trees – “Sleeping With A Friend” (+ Lyrics)

Don't sleep on this hot single.

Don’t sleep on this hot single.

Utah electro-rockers Neon Trees are back with the first single from their third major-label studio album due April 22, Pop Psychology, and that is “Sleeping With A Friend”. The slick, INXS-influenced single (think “Original Sin”) runs 3:40 in length for the radio cut, and is sure to be an easy sell for both Alternative and Hot AC radio.

(Listen to “Sleeping With A Friend” — Download “Sleeping With A Friend on iTunes)


[Verse 1]
All my friends, they’re different people
Anxious like the ocean in a storm
When we go out, yeah, we’re electric
Coursing through our bodies ’til we’re one

[Bridge 1]
And why mess up a good thing, baby?
It’s a risk to even fall in love
So, when you give that look to me
I better look back carefully
‘Cause this is trouble, yeah this is trouble

I said ooh, ooh
You got me in the mood, mood
I’m scared
But if my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend, sleeping with a friend

[Verse 2]
All my friends, stay up past midnight
Looking for the thing to fill the void
I don’t go out much like I used to
Something ’bout the strangers and the noise

[Bridge 2]
And why leave when I got you, baby?
It’s a risk but babe, I need the thrill
I never said you’d be easy
But if it was all up to me
It’d be no trouble, hell, we’re in trouble

I said ooh, ooh
You got me in the mood, mood
I’m scared
But if my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend, sleeping with a friend

[Middle 8]
We are both young, hot-blooded people
We don’t wanna die alone
Two become one, it could be lethal
Sleeping with a friend

All my friends (x4)

I said ooh, ooh
You got me in the mood, mood
I’m scared
But if my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend

(All my friends) Sleeping with a friend
(All my friends)
If my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend

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TOP TEN: Wondering About One Hit Wonders — 2013 Edition

The end of 2013 is just a few weeks away, and unfortunately, some acts just won’t be able to carry another single onto the charts in the new year. It’s the sad truth. Some may find success on genre-specific surveys or on small market panels, but it just isn’t the same. So, I must tackle the inevitable: acts who could be past their glory days, as small a time window as it was. Only one big song can do the trick, and for these artists and bands, that could be it. (Nothing to look down upon, however, some people can’t even get to that point.)

(NOTE: I did not include several acts who still have active singles at the moment. Those include American AuthorsEmblem3, NONONO and Zendaya, among others. You better watch out for 2014!)

Let’s start the top ten of the could-be one hit wonders of 2013 when it comes to popular music and the Hot 100…

That's "the way" to sample.

Her team has a Grande problem.

The horror! Yes, as much as I know how many you like her, Grande’s team really can’t get it together when it comes to second significant radio hit. Though she will have an album out next year, I don’t feel she’ll have as big a hit as “The Way”.

Don't "Miss" this new track.

From #9 to Five.

The X Factor gals had a good 2013 with a top ten EP. However, “Miss Movin’ On” is the only charting single from Better Together and I don’t think Syco/Epic know what to do with them. I am not expecting much from their full-length album.

That's "Who" he is.

That’s “Who” he is.

This is another Epic act who seems to have been lost in the shuffle. His hit “Who Booty” managed some airplay at the Rhythmic and Urban formats, plus a minor CHR crossover. Baby got back, but he hasn’t been back on the charts since.

Darling Nikki.

Darling Nikki.

The South African singer took “Glowing” onto the pop airwaves but had its lights turned out midway up the survey. She plans to release a song called “Thank God It’s Friday” to CHR radio next year, but it’s very average and will underperform.

Livin' the life.

Not so “Alive” on the charts right now.

They hit the top ten at pop radio in May with “Alive”, though sales of the songs were tepid. I actually thought the followup titled “Live For The Night” was a stronger song, but radio wasn’t a big fan. At least they’ll have DJ’ing gigs to fall back on.

I like it, "I Love It".

I like it, “I Love It”.

They crashed their car into the bridge and wound up with a hit, “I Love It”, but when they wanted to do it “All Night”, radio and retail weren’t buying into it. Their album tanked and their buzz is largely gone. These two could only Pop for so long.

A "Safe" bet for some sales.

Their one and only “Safe” hit.

The Los Angeles based duo had a major Alternative crossover smash in “Safe And Sound”. Its longevity was the main reason why followup “Kangaroo Court” quickly hopped on radio and was then pulled. I doubt they’re due for another hit.

Cup, cup and away.

Cup, cup and away.

This one should be no surprise as no one expected “Cups (When I’m Gone)” from Pitch Perfect to blow up. Even though there’s a sequel in the works, Kendrick is focused on making films. Plus, “Plates” or “Utensils” couldn’t follow it up, right?

He really shook it up in 2013.

Really shook it up in 2013.

He captivated work places everywhere to film their staff shaking it out to the “Harlem Shake”, and a large change in the Billboard Hot 100 methodology lifted it to a #1 debut. Unfortunately, the DJ hasn’t busted out any chart moves recently.

"Fox" on the run.

“Fox” on the run.

Admit it, you watched the video for “The Fox” a few times and tried to howl along. It was a viral sensation for the duo from Norway, who lit up YouTube and iTunes and cracked the Hot 100’s top ten. Though this song is over now, the two keep churning out videos on the ‘net, even if they don’t get the attention their one big hit received. At least they’re consistent.

Agree with my picks? Totally disagree? Want to make a suggestion for another act you think will be known for just one song? Comment below or find PGTC on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the “Get Social!” tab.

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TOP TEN + 1: Adam’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

2014 is almost upon us, and so, it’s only fitting to get excited about the new music that’s coming in the new year. Before I reveal my top 20 albums of 2013 on Thursday and Friday, I thought it would be cool to give you a list of some of the acts I’m definitely looking forward to hearing from next year. Now, there are endless options when it comes to forthcoming albums in the works by pop divas like Gwen Stefani and Lea Michele, groups like Karmin and One Direction, newcomers like Betty Who and Sam Smith, etc. However, as far as my pop/rock tastes go, these are who I am craving…

Some close calls to start…
15. Olly Murs – TBA (Summer)
14. Colbie CaillatTBA (Spring)
13. American AuthorsTBA (March)
12. Christina PerriHead Or Heart (March)
11. SheppardTBA (Spring)

…and now, on with the countdown.

"Here" for this new album.

“Here” for this new album.

10. Lily Allen – TBA (unknown)
Can you believe it’s been nearly five years since the release of It’s Not Me, It’s You? After a feature on Pink‘s single “True Love” earlier this year, Allen hit the studio once again, and is preparing a new album under Warner Bros. Records, her first with them. Lead single “Hard Out Here” recently went top ten in the United Kingdom. She’s just as saucy and biting as ever.

Number "One" on the list.

U need 2 check this one out.

9. U2 – 10 Reasons To Exist (April)
If you’re planning to watch the Super Bowl, you want to watch out for an advertisement from these guys promoting their new material. This will be the band’s first album since 2009’s No Line On The Horizon, which debuted at #1 but didn’t have much longevity. Only one single, “Magnificent” entered my top 40. Three decades after their debut, they are still rocking it.

A girl in "Trouble" is a temporary thing.

A Swift return for her.

8. Taylor Swift – TBA (unknown)
After the tremendous success of her album Red and corresponding tour, Swift’s been back in the studio and was quoted as saying her next album is “way ahead of schedule”, according to publication Rolling Stone. It may end up as another fall release given her past Q4 experiences. The poppy Red polarized her country audience to an extent; will this do the same?

Just press Fray.

Just press Fray.

7. The Fray – Helios (February 25)
Their popularity was waning with me over the past few years; however, the first single from this, “Love Don’t Die”, got me interested in the guys once again. Originally due to be released on January 14, it’s been pushed back to work on a CHR radio run for the single, which is at #11 on Hot AC. While the entire album won’t be full of Mumford-lite songs, it should be solid.

He's a "Beautiful" boy.

Writing up some Rad songs.

6. Andy Grammer – TBA (unknown)
Beginning in the fall of 2010, Grammer and his playful lyrics landed him hits like “Fine By Me” and “Keep Your Head Up”. Over the summer, he released a new EP. It’s unclear whether this will be issued on S-Curve, like his debut, or ThinkSay, a label run by Brad Davidson (S-Curve’s EVP of Promotion) and Ben Singer (his manager.) Regardless, it’ll be great, and if you read my interview with producer and writer Matt Rad, he’s once again teamed with him. We’ll see what makes it on.

Sheer genius.

Sheer genius.

5. Ed Sheeran – TBA (Fall)
2013’s been another great year for Sheeran, with U.S. hits in “Lego House” and a duet with Taylor Swift, “Everything Has Changed”. He’s also up for Best New Artist at this year’s GRAMMY Awards, which he could very well win despite being a peculiar choice on the panel’s part. (He was nominated for Song Of The Year last year for “The A Team”.) Collaborating with superstar producer Rick Rubin, this will be huge. Given the release date, look out for a first single to come in January.

"New" kids in town.

There to stay.

4. A Great Big World – Is There Anybody Out There? (January 14)
Just a year ago, Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino were prepping for “This Is The New Year” to be featured on Glee. Now, they’re all over the place thanks a duet version of their song “Say Something” with Christina Aguilera. The duo’s album is one of the first big releases of the year and should be a big deal for Epic, especially in a slow sales period. If “Say” could rank as the top digital song in the U.S., who says their album can’t? Their pop/rock sound will make for an awesome set.

She sets fire to the reign.

She sets fire to the reign.

3. Adele – TBA (Summer)
The girl who saved the music biz with just her voice and, oh yeah, a Diamond-certified album in the U.S. will be returning to the throne in 2014 with her third studio release. Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic is confirmed to be involved with it, and we’ll likely see Paul Epworth return for the project. Coming off a monumental album in 21, there’s an immense amount of pressure for this to do well. If everything goes as planned, we may be witnessing the biggest first week sales in some time.

It's not easy being green.

Not so Little anymore.

2. Passenger – TBA (April/May)
Arguably the biggest act to hit my chart in some time, the 29-year-old singer and songwriter from Brighton, England managed three consecutive #1’s on my survey in 2013, totaling 19 weeks at the top. His album All The Little Lights was a favorite of mine this year, and I’ll have much more to say about the guy during the revelation of my year-end chart. Needless to say, I’m very excited to hear his next studio album on Nettwerk, due to be released in April or May. Will we see studio versions of some live favorites like “Riding To New York” or “Scare Away The Dark”? We’ll find out in a few months.

"Free" the music.

“Free” the music.

1. Graffiti6 – TBA (unknown) + Jamie Scott & The Town – TBA (unknown)
This one isn’t a surprise, but man, I am waiting on these two albums. 2014 will hopefully see the release of the duo’s next album (all mastered, but has yet to see a release on Capitol) but there will also be another effort by lead singer Scott and his old band. You may remember that they released Park Bench Theories in the U.K. in 2007. Overall, it’s going to be a big year full of some BiGLuV, or at least I hope it is. They didn’t get a chance to pull a repeat on my year-end chart, where “Free” was my #1 song last year, so keep checking on the status of these two projects; nothing means nothing at all without your love.

For more on the hottest records launching in 2014, follow the blog below or hit the “Get Social!” tab to find out how you can connect with PGTC on social media.


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