Tag Archives: 2013 in music

CMJ PREVIEW: Ten Acts On My List To See

Start spreading the news… yes, if you haven’t heard already, I’ll be attending my first CMJ Music Marathon this year in New York City. I’m very excited for the conference and can’t wait to see (and maybe even meet) some emerging artists and bands as well as some Adam’s Top 40 favorites. There’s a few of them in the mix! In the meantime, take a look at these ten acts I definitely want to check out before the week is over.

NOTE: A full list of panels and showcases is available on the CMJ website. Please be aware some times may change and that not all events have been updated, so be sure to check back for more updates.

On the Holiday Road to stardom.

Vacation, all we ever wanted.

BASIC VACATION

I wrote about this trio last week in anticipation for their performance at CMJ. Chris Greatti, Jon Paul and Mike Montalbano are signed to a relatively new label, Atom Factory Music, which will be working in conjunction with Capitol’s radio department to break their single, “I Believe”, at Alternative radio into early next year. A likely pop crossover should follow.

Performing at: Bowery Ballroom (Wednesday night)

Who's that girl.

Who’s that girl.

BETTY WHO

Remember this viral marriage proposal of a few weeks ago? Who’s pop anthem “Somebody Loves You” was featured in it, and 10 million views later, Who is the most recent signee of RCA Records, who rereleased her EP The Movement and put her on a small radio tour recently. The 22-year-old looks forward to releasing a full-length album next year under her new label.

Performing at: Pianos (Wednesday night) and Westway (Friday night)

The Birch is back.

The Birch is back.

DIANE BIRCH

I was a fan of Birch’s 2009 single “Nothing But A Miracle” and enjoyed the song’s parent album, Bible Belt. You might also remember her song “Valentino”, which was promoted in conjunction with the 2010 film Valentine’s Day. Fusing jazz and soul music, her album was a critical success, and she returns with Speak A Little Louder, her second release for S Curve Records.

Performing at: Gramercy Theater (Wednesday night)

Caught in the "Sun".

They’re Hall the rage around here.

GENTLEMEN HALL

I covered these Boston boys back in January as they released “Sail Into The Sun”. You may recognize it as the song featured in a Target campaign this past Spring and it picked up some airplay at Alternative radio. A handful of their songs have been considered for my chart, but “Sun” was the first to hit the top 40. Their bright pop sound is awesome and translates well live.

Performing at: The Studio at Webster Hall (Friday night)

"High Hopes" for a solid performance.

“High Hopes” for a solid performance.

KODALINE

Out of Dublin, Ireland, this four-man band was first known as 21 Demands before changing their name. Although they’ve done particularly well in their native country with singles like “High Hopes” and achieved some additional success in Europe, they have yet to find a following in the United States. Perhaps this will change after a few showcases in the next week or so.

Performing at: Bowery Ballroom (Wednesday night) and Santos Party House (Thursday night)

Yes, yes, yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

NONONO

Time to whistle while you work your first single, am I right? The two man, one woman group from Sweden is getting pumped for a U.S. performance, which is sure to include their current single on the Alternative chart, “Pumpin’ Blood”. It stands in the top 30 at the moment. Their label, Warner Bros. Records, is also prepping a pop crossover for the song later this month.

Performing at: Mercury Lounge (Tuesday night)

Orbiting the musical planets.

Orbiting the musical planets.

SATELLITE

This quartet is yet another PGTC Profile act with their post coming in July; it was just a few weeks before the radio servicing of their single “Say The Words”, which just missed the top 30 on the AAA survey last month. It’s now declining in spins, but still in the top 50. Featuring band member Mitch Allan, formerly of the rock band SR-71, I’m really liking their sound so far.

Performing at: Arlene’s Grocery and Rockwood Music Hall – Stage 1 (Saturday night)

Everybody's flocking to them.

An “Easy” decision to make.

SHEPPARD

These guys are the reason I found out about CMJ in the first place. They first got my attention back in late April, then I took a few listens to their self-titled EP and I’ve been loving them since. The sextet has charted two consecutive top ten singles on my top 40: “Let Me Down Easy” (#10) and now “Hold My Tongue” (#8 and climbing). I can’t wait to finally see them live!

Performing at: The Studio at Webster Hall (Tuesday night)Pianos (Friday afternoon), Sullivan Hall (Friday night) and The Delancey (Saturday afternoon)

"Heart" of the chart.

In the “Heart” of the city.

THE GRISWOLDS

I guess I have a thing for those Australian acts, don’t I? I did a small bit on these guys when “Heart Of A Lion” went to Alternative radio back in August, although it never actually did any damage. They recently uploaded a video for their second single, “Mississippi”, which originates from the same EP as “Lion”. Sorry, there’s no colored powder party in this one.

Performing at: Pianos (Tuesday night), Pianos (Wednesday night), Santos Party House (Thursday night) and The Delancey (Saturday afternoon)

Traveling across the "Miles".

Traveling across the “Miles”.

VANESSA CARLTON

You know her well for hits like “A Thousand Miles” and “Ordinary Day”, the latter going to #1 on my chart in the fall of 2002. An album, Be Not Nobody, was certified Platinum that year. Carlton’s major label career declined quickly after her debut era, but she’s been releasing independently for several years now. Now, she takes to stage to play the hits and more.

Performing at: Highline Ballroom (Tuesday night)

Who else will make my schedule? A little Sisqo belting out “Thong Song” on Thursday night? Maybe the pop sounds of Sweden’s Like Swimming on Friday? I’ll be sure to recap all my adventures here on POP! Goes The Charts as the week goes on. See you in New York City!

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ALBUM REVIEW: Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2

Are you Experienced?

Are you Experienced?

Stream The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2 via iTunes.

Just a six months ago, Justin Timberlake blasted onto the Billboard 200 at #1 with The 20/20 Experience, selling 968,000 copies in its first week. As if this wasn’t enough, now he delivers a second album this year, the second half of that Experience. Unlike its partner in crime, The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2, is a more contemporary affair, filled with a much more hard-hitting urban sound rather than the breezy nature of the last album. Still, there are a few lighter numbers and pretty love songs to appease you. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

On the A side:

  • C-C-C-Changes in Genres: The most notable change between these two eras is that there’s a little more experimenting of this half, which results in a mixed bag. One of the standouts is “Drink You Away”, with its poppy-sounding arrangement that verges on late 60’s/early 70’s psychadelic music, particularly with the prominent organ. However, Timberlake also seems to channel a Raphael Saadiq/D’Angelo style vocal as he sings, “I can’t drink you away/On these rocks, I can’t swim/Out of this skin I’m living in.” “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)” is essentially the “Don’t Hold The Wall” of this album, with an animalistic feel and spacey vibe out of the 90’s, complete with samples of elephants and birds, oh my. No wonder that he, himself, wants to get animal: “Take me to your jungle, I’m not afraid… come here, gimme what I don’t know/I want.” I also enjoy the reggae influence and knocking beat on “Only When I Walk Away”, as well as the pop/rock “Not A Bad Thing”, which is the direction Timberlake should be going in in the future.
  • Dark Side of the Tune: Timberlake and Timbaland work best on some of the darker ditties, which seems to be a common theme at least on the first half of this. “True Blood” is a modern-day take on Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller”, an air of mystery surrounding it. The nine-and-a-half minute song is too long (it held my attention for the first five minutes) but it does several things really well, including that prominent guitar solo and the eerie violin reversed for even more effect. Timberlake attempts to do his best Vincent Price (I give it a C), but it is one of the more inviting songs on the album and is perfect with Halloween next month. In the same way, “Murder”, featuring Jay Z, is a hot banger flourished with the occasional brass boost. Yet, its lyrics are rooted in an evil woman on the prowl: “Ooh, that girl is murder/Everybody get down.” The rap break is actually enjoyable too, as Jay name-checks John Lennon, Yoko Ono and The Beatles. These are probably the two most inspired and best-sounding tracks on here and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them becomes a single at one point.
  • Vulnerability on Vinyl: Saying that Timberlake thinks highly of himself is an understatement. Now, whether you call that confidence or cockiness, I’ll leave that up to you. However, it is nice to see him leave that on the back burner enough to be a little sensitive. Ballad “You Got It On” shows this tenderness off nicely, which verges into R. Kelly‘s steppin’ songs for a hot minute, but is also very much Timberlake. It’s a little old school for his younger listeners, but at the same time, it’s a heartfelt ode dedicated to his wife, Jessica Biel. The same is true of hidden track “Pair Of Wings”, with an understated guitar and vocal arrangement, a nice change of pace as Timberlake goes down the James Taylor/Jim Croce route. No wonder it isn’t listed just because it’s so different. He coos, “We keep getting older, the world keeps getting colder/Tell me when did we lose our way? … But if I had one wish, I know what I’d wish for/There’s only one thing that would do/I’d fly away on this pair of wings with you.” Hello! It’s sentimental enough without getting too cheesy. That’s the way to do it.

On the flip side:

  • Tiring of Timbaland (and Timberlake): The main criticism of this album, and I think enough people have already picked up on this, is that the Timbaland production sound is already starting to get really old and isn’t too much different from what we were hearing on FutureSex/LoveSounds back in 2006. “TKO” could have been on there; same with “Murder”, as well as “Amnesia”. It’s tired. There’s nothing new to discover. It’s likable to an extent, especially “Murder”, but some of these songs sound so phoned in that it’s frustrating. Timberlake’s songwriting is also not where it needs to be at this point in his career, and although it’s never been his strongest suit, there are some cringeworthy lines that just ruin the experience. This is a line in the song “Cabaret”: “I got you saying Jesus so much, it’s like we’re laying in a manger.” That’s an actual lyric, people. Stop the madness and stop getting trying to get your sexy on, you two. Go ‘head, be gone with it.
  • Song That Go Too Long: The interludes. Cut the interludes already. Some of them, especially the one on “True Blood” which extends it over nine minutes, are unnecessary and clog up the album. I don’t want to go on for too long about this since I already complained enough about it on the first album, but really? Since when do album cuts nowadays go six, seven, even nine minutes in length? I guess I wouldn’t have a problem with the concept so much if the ones on this album had some substance and weren’t just for show. You can still be a real artist without making things crazy long. I know Timberlake’s made some comments in the past about figuring out the single edits after the album is done, but why not be more conscious about it in the process? I’m just glad that this isn’t going to be a trend. Otherwise, everyone would be zoning out sooner rather than later.
  • RCA = Really Can’t Articulate (A Strategy): This whole era had some major problems which I think prevented it from being just a little bit bigger than it could’ve been. First of all, whomever decided to rush release a second part of the album in September to get it eligible for the GRAMMY Awards only to find that RCA didn’t submit the individual packages as entries and bundled them up needs to be canned. Whenever that person decided that, you ultimately didn’t factor in that “Take Back The Night” would be treated as a third radio single and not a first, and because of the hesitance radio had with “Suit & Tie” for a number of weeks before it went top ten because of the sound, it was doomed from day one. “TKO” is a forgettable followup single that, again, radio can’t behind fully because your editing skills need some improvement. Then again, maybe the men behind the song are responsible for that. Also, what was with not releasing the radio edits, or 7″ edits if we’re truly talking, of the songs digitally? Those single sales would’ve been so much higher. I could go on and on, but man, if only I was in charge… I guess I’ll have to daydream away on that one.

Verdict: At this point, I’m not ready to make a call on which of these two albums is the stronger half, but I guess I’ll sum it up this way: this may be The 20/20 Experience, but the vision is still cloudy. If having 20/20 vision means you have a normal vision, then with all the blurring of music tastes wrapped in two albums, I’m totally lost. This isn’t even a half-throwback, half-modern sort of album. Both parts of the era are so equally unbalanced and unfortunately, on the whole, that leaves this Experience as less than satisfying in the end result. Don’t get me wrong, this album is still worth a listen and purchase for everything that does it right. There are some really well-constructed songs. Next time around, however, I would suggest that Timberlake works with other producers and focuses on writing more quality material than leaving it up to the arrangers and musicians to save these songs. It was a nice try, it really was, but pack that top hat and shined shoes away for a while after the tour is over. You won’t realize it now, but we’ll all be thanking you for it later.

Download: “Drink You Away”, “Murder” (featuring Jay Z), “Pair Of Wings”, “Take Back The Night”, “True Blood”

Stream The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2 via iTunes.

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Things That Need To Stop: #HashtagsInSongTitles

#thatisjustnotright.

#thatisjustnotright.

If you’re an act that’s looking to make a new single and deciding on a title for it, please reflect on this post for a moment, because it will spare you the embarrassment of years to come. Now, I know it’s trendy to trend yourself on Twitter using a hashtag and get some attention by finding your tag listed on the worldwide topics list according to the social media service. It’s fun and great if it works, but please, please spare yourself and don’t put a hashtag in your soon-to-be-hit’s title. When we look back on this era in song titles, it’ll rank up there with those awful ideas like the double r in “Dirrty” or “Hot In Herre” and songs with no vowels like “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”. It’s just all shades of wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I get the feeling you’ve probably seen that several songs lately on the charts that have hashtags in them. A hashtag, for those of you still confused, is the use of a “#” symbol followed by a short word of phrase, like #whyamiwritingaboutthis or #thisissodumbguys. For example, “#Beautiful” by Mariah Carey and Miguel just debuted on the radio last week and “#thatPOWER” by will.i.am and Justin Bieber is doing well at both radio and retail. Pretty soon, Miley Cyrus will be collaborating with Pharrell Williams on a track from her new album, “#GetItRight”, and who knows what else will come after that. Point is, if this doesn’t stop now, the top 40 will be full of songs with hashtags, and do you really want to see a chart filled with songs titles and phrases that aren’t actually trending anywhere on Twitter? Plus, what was the problem with not calling them “Beautiful” or “Get It Right” or “That Power” in the first place?

Something is inevitably going to replace Twitter someday, and when that service doesn’t use hashtags as a way of promotion, you know that people will stop referencing to these songs without the “#” sign in them. Sure, you could argue that a song with a hashtag is “trending” up the charts when it rises; why can’t all of them be that way? The national charts, the genre charts, the digital charts, etc. do not equal Twitter. A hashtag is free to tweet out; buying a song isn’t, and while there are several hundred million accounts active on Twitter worldwide, not all of them use hashtags. Plus, the United States population far surpasses that. It looks odd on the charts when the majority of songs use a normal title. It looks odd on a compact disc case because it’s not like you can trend a song title up or down a tracklisting. However, I would think it would be most awkward for the disc jockey on the duty to properly front-sell or back-sell a song as “Hashtag Beautiful” or “Hashtag That Power”. That just screams unnecessary. Plus, like a Twitter trend, what happens when the number of times the DJ says the title goes up? Do they raise their voice an octave? (Please don’t do this, I beg of you.)

Before this Twitter phenomenon, the “#” was rarely used in a top 40 hit, and it was meant to signify a number, of course. Take a look at this list of those credits with the symbol as opposed to a “Number One” or a “No. 1”:

“Hashtags” in top 40 hits prior to 2013:
“Fool #1”, Brenda Lee (#3, 1961)
“Love Potion #9”, The Searchers (#3, 1964)
“Engine Engine #9”, Roger Miller (#7, 1965)
“Rainy Day Women #12 & #35”, Bob Dylan (#2, 1966)
“Westbound #9”, The Flaming Ember (#24, 1970)
“#9 Dream”, John Lennon (#9, 1975)
“#1 Crush”, Garbage (#29 Airplay, 1997)
“#1”, Nelly (#22, 2002)

So to you cowboys and crooners, divas and disc jockeys and all you bands out there, stop the madness. Yes, you have the artistic license to do whatever you want, but this isn’t art. It’s a shameless plug. If hashtags keep being integrated into song titles, you know acts will start creating songs with 140 characters total, then Billboard will start adding hashtags into their formulas for compiling their charts, and then the RIAA will take them into account for certifications. OK, some of this may not actually happen, but I’m keeping my eye for them. Let’s be honest, though, nobody wants to see #StairwayToHeaven to show up on the charts or a media player in that form. Why do that to yourself and make yourself instantly dated? It’s not worth it.

#HashtagsInSongTitles. They’re not stopping anytime soon, but they may be gone just around the trend.

Let me know what you think about this in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

He's a Soul survivor.

He’s a Soul survivor.

Stream The 20/20 Experience via iTunes.

Listen to singles “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors”.

Hungry for some new tunes from Justin Timberlake? You may as well call this stoned soul picnic, because he’s ready to serve it down. The 20/20 Experience is Timberlake’s first album in nearly seven years and he’s ready to bring SoulBack this time around. With a lush orchestra, production by his pal Timbaland, and a fresh falsetto, it certainly sounds good on paper. Is the Experience worth it? Read my review and let me know your thoughts on the album.

On the A side:

  • Authenticity: Call it what you want: Blue-eyed soul, white soul… Timberlake is an expert at the sub-genre. Not only can he execute a contemporary urban sound, but he’s also able to transform his image back to the 70’s and give the listener an authentic old-school R&B recording. Whether it’s shades of Al Green and Prince found in “Pusher Love Girl”, a near-sample of The Stylistics‘ “You Are Everything” at the end of “Spaceship Coupe” (it actually samples “Baby Let’s Rap Now” by The Moments, see below), the blissful Staple Singers inspired “That Girl” or the Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall flavor in “Let The Groove Get In”, he knows his roots and displays them without disappointment. You’re certainly going to be enraptured in this LP if you’re a fan of the Motown sound and the fuller arrangements of that era. While songs like the two more obvious singles, “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors”, as well as the jungle fever of potential club-banger “Don’t Hold The Wall”, don’t exactly follow this formula, they mesh well enough to be enjoyed by a wider audience. It’s a good balance in terms of eras and paying homage to them through Timberlake’s artistry. It’s an artist’s record. That’s something that a lot of people can’t say they did.
  • Timbaland’s back: Just when we thought he was over, ding dong, here comes Timbaland knocking at the door. This is probably the most creative he’s been as a producer since at least Shock Value II, but definitely since FutureSex/LoveSounds. There’s something about this combination of he and Timberlake that really produces some magic. All his beats are on point. I can’t really think of a track that I dislike entirely. He’s best with his more modern-sounding affairs like the electronic “Strawberry Bubblegum”, the classic “Tunnel Vision” and the poppy “Mirrors”. It’s a step in the right direction for the producer, who hasn’t seen any big action on the charts in years. Will this help put him back as the most sought-after producer and arranger out there? Time will tell. It won’t be as easy for him this time around, but I’m sure he’ll be putting in a few more hours at the office.
  • It’s all in the details: I guess the ironic thing about The 20/20 Experience is that its title is misleading. Though it would imply that it gives you a complete vision of something, it actually doesn’t, which isn’t bad at all. It has to do with the idea of the background instrumentation and the amount of layers in each song. You’re bound to miss something along the way on the first listen, but identify it on the second listen. It may be the crescendo of a string section, a key change or a beat-boxing moment that you didn’t realize was there before. This notion will probably be a little more obvious with a physical edition of the album, especially a version on vinyl with its enhanced sound quality. There are highs and lows out there that you still haven’t picked up on yet. It’s really neat.

On the flip side:

  • Song Length: This is probably the biggest reaction to the album, but on the standard edition, only one song is under five minutes in length. (The two bonus tracks on the deluxe edition from Target are just under it.) This isn’t something new; in fact, a lot of his prior album, FutureSex/Love Sounds, had the same sort of interludes and extended outros in the song structure. However, that album didn’t seem to drag as much as this one does. The twelve tracks on that album ran a little over 66 minutes compared to the ten tracks on this album that run about 70. Point is, with seven tracks over seven minutes long, this is not an album for the typical pop consumer. It gives it a pretentious and unlikable quality, as if he and Timbaland purposely wanted to extend songs just for the hell of it. I mean, come on now, I could have used an extra track or two. Queen and Pink Floyd may have made long songs, but not on every single album of theirs. I’d like to think Timberlake, as a pop artist, has an obligation to record some radio-ready material that’s actually radio-ready in all aspects, from sound to length, on something that’s commercially available to the masses, even if it’s going to be a largely artist-driven album. That isn’t present there. Maybe he thinks an exclusively R&B singer now. Who knows?
  • Lack of Uptempo Songs: Perhaps more puzzling to me is the choice to provide us with a collection of songs that are slower and midtempo numbers. “Let The Groove Get In” is essentially the only uptempo, fast and furious song on here, and thus, it’s one of the highlights for me. It’ll likely be the third single just because it genuinely sounds like a pop hit, albeit with a radio edit. I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind it, but it definitely contributes to the snail’s pace of the album. There should have been a few more to break things up, but the sequencing as it is doesn’t work for me right now. “Blue Ocean Floor” is confusing as a final glimpse of the album; it’s a good song in itself, but after so many long and drawn-out ballads, do I really need to hear another one? It should’ve at least been a mid-tempo song, or even a reprise of “Pusher Love Girl” for all I care. Instead, this Titanic of an album aptly ends with a few gurgles of water and a sinking ship.
  • Timberlake as a Lyricist: Just… stop. “Spaceship Coupe”? Really? I think one of the big issues I have with the album is that it totally relies on Timbaland‘s production, which is fantastic, but the words themselves are just not doing it for me. Now, granted, he won’t ever be Bob Dylan, but there’s nothing I’m particularly invested in with it comes to Timberlake’s lyrics. He can basically sing anything and get away with it. I wish there were more stories behind the songs, or at least a little more personal reflection on his behalf. It’s sort of all been said before, and even when he tries to be a little more inventive, it comes off as flimsy.

Verdict: Though the album is a cohesive effort that Timberlake wanted to make, I don’t know if it was necessarily worth the seven-year wait for his fans. The hype behind it will lead to some strong opening weeks, but beyond that, a lack of mainstream single choices will probably bring it down. The dated sound and song lengths don’t help either. If the album is meant to appeal to an older audience, then it’s achieved its goal. If the album is meant to bring an urban revival to popular music for all other artists to follow, I don’t see that happening. Maybe some acts will include a more big band sound in their tracks, but they surely won’t run more than four or five minutes and the pop audience will get tired of them quickly before moving back to bubblegum and electro-pop. Personally, I enjoyed the effort. As I mentioned before, it’s a detail-oriented release, so you won’t necessarily have the same Experience during the first listen as you will during the second. He shines when he shines, but it’s not the same as the days of *NSYNC or Justified. The 20/20 Experience isn’t a complete mastering of a concept album, but it’s as close as he’s going to get, so it should be celebrated for what it does right. After all, it’s not every day that a Justin Timberlake solo album comes to rock ‘n’ soul.

Download: “Mirrors”, “Pusher Love Girl”, “Tunnel Vision”

Stream The 20/20 Experience via iTunes.

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SINGLE PREMIERE: Jessica Sanchez featuring Ne-Yo – “Tonight” (+ Lyrics)

Get down "Tonight".

“Tonight” is the night.

LISTEN/WATCH “Tonight”.

BUY “Tonight” on iTunes / BUY “Tonight” on AmazonMP3

Well, what do you know? A few days ago, I posted a preview of Jessica Sanchez‘s new single in a topic about forthcoming songs going to radio in the next month. I just mentioned some general details about the releases and that there was a video in production, which has now been filmed. I was thinking it would be out during the last week of the month. After all, her album is out April 30; I was figuring the label would at least give her song six weeks at radio before putting out a full-length release. Around 5:30 Eastern time, a promotional account for Interscope Records posted the song on their SoundCloud account, which was then sent to me by a friend. Several hundred views later, I guess the label made a little error. The song is no longer available to listen to. However, keep this link here handy just in case they decide to put it back up. So, now, let’s see what I can remember from hearing the song about five times.

It’s an electropop and dance song that’s very different for Sanchez, with her impressive range that usually shines on ballads and slower songs, yet it still showcases her vocals pretty well and stays familiar with Ne-Yo‘s sound shift as of recent. I wouldn’t be surprised if StarGate had some sort of credit for production on the track. It vaguely reminds me vocal-wise of several of his past singles: 2008’s “Closer” and his feature on Conor Maynard‘s “Turn Around” from last year. It’s a very sassy song in terms of lyrics, as evidenced by the chorus that Sanchez pounds out, totally shedding that clean-cut image of her. I’m not sure I necessarily believe her when she sings about a place “where the dudes got money and they’re not afraid to spend it”, but I guess it could be worse. Otherwise, it’s a pretty harmless song with a length of just under four minutes (if I remember correctly.) It has an intro of about twenty seconds. Just to let you know, I am expecting a video in outer space with dancers in spacesuits and aliens ready to pounce, so these two better not let me down. (OK, they probably will.)

“TONIGHT”
(The two trade off vocals in the song, so Jessica‘s part is italicized and Ne-Yo‘s part is bolded.)

[VERSE]
It seems like every day is something else
Another reason to be stressing

And you wanna run away, said you just wanna run away
You try to get out and enjoy yourself
But everybody’s acting so depressing

And you wanna run away, yeah, said you just wanna run away

[BRIDGE]
Though we ’bout to hop up on this rocket
Get up outta here

Go somewhere where nothing ever goes wrong
‘Bout to hop up on this rocket
Take to the sky
Everything is fine

[CHORUS]
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
We on a planet where the dudes got money and they’re not afraid to spend it
Hey-oh, Hey-oh, and everything is alright, hey-oh hey-oh
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
We on a planet where there ain’t no drama and the party’s never ending
Hey-oh, Hey-oh, and everything is alright, hey-oh hey-oh

[VERSE]
It seems like every day is something else
Another reason to be stressing

And you wanna run away, said you just wanna run away, woah-oh
You try to get out and enjoy yourself
But everybody’s acting so depressing

And you wanna run away, (oh oh), said you just wanna run away

[BRIDGE]
Though we ’bout to hop up on this rocket
Get up outta here
Go somewhere where nothing ever goes wrong
‘Bout to hop up on this rocket
Take to the sky
Everything is fine

[CHORUS]
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
We on a planet where the dudes got money and they’re not afraid to spend it
Hey-oh, Hey-oh, and everything is alright, hey-oh hey-oh
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
We on a planet where there ain’t no drama and the party’s never ending
Hey-oh, Hey-oh, and everything is alright, hey-oh hey-oh

[POST-CHORUS]
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
Pretty baby, babe
No oh-oh-oh
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
Oh oh-oh

[MIDDLE 8]
And we’ll be dancing through the moments
Got my girls ’round me, just grab your boys from Mars
And we’ll get away, go somewhere and just get right

[CHORUS]
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
We on a planet where the dudes got money and they’re not afraid to spend it
Hey-oh, Hey-oh, and everything is alright, hey-oh hey-oh
‘Cause we ain’t even on Earth tonight
We on a planet where there ain’t no drama and the party’s never ending
Hey-oh, Hey-oh, and everything is alright, hey-oh hey-oh

Sanchez’s album will be released on April 30 through Interscope Records entitled Me, You and The Music. Enjoy!

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PROFILE: Nikki Williams Is “Glowing” And Growing

Darling Nikki.

Darling Nikki.

Meet Nikki Williams, a budding singer and songwriter who is rising among the ranks of pop music’s biggest stars. You may not know her name now, but in several months, she may just be blowing up on the charts with her debut single, “Glowing”. (Listen to the full song on YouTube.)

24-year-old Williams was born in the large city of Port Elizabeth on the coast of South Africa and made the leap to the United States at the age of sixteen, settling for a while in Nashville before moving to Los Angeles. Now, you’re probably thinking, when was the last time a new South African act broke here in the States? We’ve had soloists like Hugh Masekela of “Grazing In The Grass” fame and Dave Matthews, whose band continues to put out new material twenty years into their career, but dance and pop acts from the country crossing over to our market are virtually nonexistent. Williams is definitely hoping to change that.

She’s picked up a few years experience as a songwriter, most recently co-writing Demi Lovato’s new hit, “Heart Attack”. The song’s already gone to #1 on iTunes. She’s currently signed to Island Def Jam Music Group in the U.S., who are handling the promotion of her debut album. No title has been released. Several months ago, a video was released for the promotional single “Kill, F***, Marry”, which has accumulated nearly 800,000 views on YouTube. The atmospheric pop song may be an indication of where her full-length release is headed, with a lush vocal and a slightly subdued production. It’s not brash and in-your-face; it just seeps in and grabs a hold of you.

We’re at the point where the label is readying her first radio release, “Glowing”, which goes to the CHR format on March 19, though the song’s been readily available on the internet since November through her official YouTube account. It’s more of a dance song than “Marry”, almost similar to an Avicii composition, but for good reason. It all has to do with who’s behind the song. The single was co-written by Arnthor Birgisson, Daniel James, Leah Pringle, Bebe Rexha and Sandy Vee. Birgisson is an Iceland songwriter/producer who has been in the industry for at least fifteen years, creating hits for 98 Degrees, Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson. James and Pringle are a married couple, the latter herself being a former top ten artist on the ARIA Singles Chart in Australia. Both have done work with acts like Miley Cyrus and The Wanted, among others. Rexha is a little more unknown, but she worked with some members of Fall Out Boy when they went on hiatus on a side project called Black Cards. She sang lead for them until early 2012. You’re probably most familiar with Vee’s work, as the French producer has been behind big singles for David Guetta, Katy Perry, Pitbull and Rihanna.

With all that history, you know it’s going to be a catchy song, regardless of whether you’ve heard it or not. Lyrically, it’s your standard boy comes into a girl’s life, she falls head over heels in love kind of story line. He saves her life, then she states that, “A million hearts, but you’re the only one / Who lights it up, like I’m glowing in the dark.” It’s cute, but it’s also familiar. It’s largely a repetition of one solid verse and the strong chorus that I’ve pointed out. It’s leaves a little to be desired, compared to her first overall single release. However, she has a great voice and a striking image that will carry her far. A little bit of depth could’ve helped, but it’s not the most essential thing about getting her out there. Plus, if she becomes a big star, I’m sure she’ll get around to releasing more material that showcases the variety that she’s very much capable of. For now, “Glowing” is a good introduction for her in the States, and while it may get some comparisons to current female pop singers of the day like Carly Rae Jepsen or Jessie J, Williams can hold her own.

The success of the song thus far has been reduced to Canada, where it continues to gain airplay on their Hot AC format. With a Stateside takeover just a few months away, a boost in airplay and sales will be coming in no time. Watch out for Williams coming to a radio station near you.

Buy “Glowing” on iTunes.

CONTEST: Williams’s label, Island Def Jam, is giving producers and DJs access to the stems of her song “Kill F*ck Marry” for their newest contest, which enables you to remix her song for a chance to appear on her official home page and social media sites. However, the deadline is March 25, so you better act quickly. Here are the official rules:

1. All the stems you need are at this link.
2. Create your remix of the song using these stems and the original vocals from the song (no cover versions.)
3. Upload your creation and title it as “KFM Remix – (insert your name here)” as response to this video and don’t forget to make it public. In the description of your video, include your preferred name, an email address, Facebook URL (music page or personal) and Twitter handle.

The winner will be picked based on originality, creativity, and commercial satisfaction. Again, your submission must be in by March 25. Good luck!

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SINGLE PREMIERE: Michael Bublé – “It’s A Beautiful Day” (+ Lyrics)

That's what makes you "Beautiful".

That’s what makes you “Beautiful”.

Our favorite Canadian crooner is back! 37-year-old Michael Bublé returns with his first regular studio album in three-and-a-half years, To Be Loved, which is out on April 23 here in the States. Of course, his 2011 seasonal release, Christmas, rocked the charts once again this past holiday season, with two singles from it being released to radio: “Cold December Night” and a virtual duet with Bing Crosby, “White Christmas”. They both did particularly well on his core format, adult contemporary radio. I’m sure you caught his NBC special as well. However, we’ve been due for some original music from the guy for a few years now. It’s been over two years since “Hollywood” was released and I loved that one a lot. It peaked at #1 on my chart for two weeks, his third song to make it to the top. Now, our first taste of some new selections from the album comes via the first single from the effort, a sunny little single called “It’s A Beautiful Day”. It’s one of several original songs on the album, which includes duets with Bryan Adams, Naturally 7 and Reese Witherspoon. There are some interesting cover choices as well, though it appears we’re getting more original content from him this time around than on previous albums. More information about that is on iTunes, which you’ll see a link for below.

This song essentially picks up where “Haven’t Met You Yet” left off, except that now Bublé has met the girl, it sounds like she ain’t all that. She wants to be friends, but he’s played that game before and he’s heard it all. Plus, she ends up running off! Rude. I mean, too bad for her. Even if this ends up being your new soft rock break-up song, it’s surprisingly cheerful. He’s happy that she’s out of his life. He wants to be free. It’s like everything around him turns into a musical where he’s the star. I can see the video already. He struts through the streets, patrons twirling out of restaurants with plates in hand, cyclists in formation on each side of him. It would be a flash mob like no other. Hey, maybe it will happen. In the end, I guess he got his wish. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood and Mr. Rogers didn’t even need to stop by. How charming. He has a smooth mix of drum, guitar, piano and some strings behind him at times, but it all blends together into a musical masterpiece that will please all of Bublé’s fans. I mean, how can you not smile when he’s smiling too?

Look for this one to, not shockingly at all, be a huge seller and a good-sized hit on the adult contemporary survey. If “Yet” could crossover to CHR radio, maybe this one will have a chance closer to the summer months. The format’s taking more chances now then when that prior single was a hit, so it bodes well for him. Until then, get your fill with the link and lyrics below. Have a “beautiful” time listening!

BUY “IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY” ON ITUNES.
Listen to a 90 second preview of the song.

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY

[VERSE 1]
I don’t know why
You think that you could hold me
When you can’t get by by yourself
And I don’t know who
Would ever want to tear the seam of someone’s dream
Baby, it’s fine, you said that we should just be friends
Well, I came up with that line and I’m sure
That it’s for the best
If you ever change your mind, don’t hold your breath

[PRE-CHORUS]
‘Cause you may not believe
That baby, I’m relieved
When you said goodbye, my whole world shined

[CHORUS]
Hey hey hey
It’s a beautiful day and I can’t stop myself from smiling
If I’m drinking, then I’m buying
And I know there’s no denying
It’s a beautiful day, the sun is up, the music’s playing
And even if it started raining
You won’t hear this boy complaining
‘Cause I’m glad that you’re the one that got away
It’s a beautiful day

[VERSE 2]
It’s my turn to fly, so girls, get in line
‘Cause I’m easy, no playing this guy like a fool
Now I’m alright
Might’ve had me caged before, but not tonight

[PRE-CHORUS]
‘Cause you may not believe
That baby, I’m relieved
This fire inside, it burns too bright
I don’t want to say “so long”, I just want to say “goodbye”

[CHORUS]
It’s a beautiful day and I can’t stop myself from smiling
If I’m drinking, then I’m buying
And I know there’s no denying
It’s a beautiful day, the sun is up, the music’s playing
And even if it started raining
You won’t hear this boy complaining
‘Cause I’m glad that you’re the one who got away

[MIDDLE 8 + END]
‘Cause if you ever think I’ll take up
My time with thinking of our break-up
Then, you’ve got another thing coming your way
‘Cause it’s a beautiful day
Beautiful day
Oh, baby, any day that you’re gone away
It’s a beautiful day

For more song premieres, follow the blog by clicking the tab below or follow me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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