Tag Archives: christmas

ADAM’S TOP 40 FLASHBACK: Sounds Of The Season

Chilly cuts for Christmas.

Chilly cuts for Christmas.

It’s the start of another weekend, which means it’s time for another trip back into the archives on Adam’s Top 40 Flashback! Every Saturday, the day before my latest top 40 goes up for the week, I feature the highlights of a past countdown. 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, we present a special Christmas-themed flashback, featuring the top ten seasonal songs to hit my chart during the last decade. Between the holiday hits and other winter wonders, quite a few titles have hit the 40 over the last ten years. Get your sleigh ready, because here come those pop presents, all wrapped up in one neat list:

10. COLDPLAY, “Christmas Lights”
Album: Christmas Lights – Single (2010, Capitol Records)
Peak: #37

09. FUN., “Sleigh Ride”
Album: Holidays Rule (2012, Hear Music Records)
Peak: #37

08. TRAIN, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Album: Christmas In Tahoe (2015, Sunken Forest Records)
Peak: #37

07. TRAIN, “Shake Up Christmas”
Album: Shake Up Christmas – Single (2010, Columbia Records)
Peak: #36

06. GERALDINE MCQUEEN, “Once Upon A Christmas Song”
Album: Once Upon A Christmas Song – Single (2008, Polydor Records)
Peak: #35

05. COLBIE CAILLAT, “Christmas In The Sand”
Album: Christmas In The Sand (2012, Universal Republic Records)
Peak: #35

04. MICHAEL BUBLÉ, “The More You Give (The More You’ll Have)”
Album: The More You Give (The More You’ll Have) – Single (2015, Warner Bros. Records)
Peak: #34

03. ENYA, “Trains And Winter Rains”
Album: And Winter Came… (2008, Warner Bros. Records)
Peak: #30

02. A GREAT BIG WORLD, “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”
Album: I’ll Be Home For Christmas (2014, Epic Records)
Peak: #22

01. KELLY CLARKSON, “Underneath The Tree”
Album: Wrapped In Red (2013, RCA Records)
Peak: #12

Check back next Saturday for another Adam’s Top 40 Flashback countdown 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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If Only… The Christmas Songs Left Off The Record (A Parody)

Wrapper's delight.

Wrapper’s delight.

Your holiday playlist may be filled with lots of Christmas standards, but unfortunately, the A&R department over at Santa’s music HQ didn’t approve these could-have-been classics. Alas, with a little bit of fun and imagination, we can remember these ten songs left on the cutting room floor.

ADELE – “Rudolph Has It”
Off her cancelled Christmas release, 25, this foot-stopper of a track, producer by Ryan Sledder, maybe just have broken up the reindeer when they found out that Rudolph was stalling the sleigh from leaving the North Pole. Bless his nose, he’s really got his head in the clouds, and this one got a head-start at being chopped off the tracklisting.

BRUNO MARS – “It Will Reindeer”
An alternative remix from the film soundtrack to Twlight: Breaking Down, in which the weight of Santa’s sleigh becomes too heavy to handle, this moody track sets the stage for a bummer of a holiday when Dominic The Donkey couldn’t join the lineup in dragging the sled full of toys. If you want a more upbeat track, check out his newest release, a frustrating romp for presents entitled “Locked Out Of Walmart”.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Coal Me Maybe”
With a hit song that was just about as catchy as the common cold, this Christmas remix about a girl who really wants her bad boy elf is enough to send her straight back to Canada. Trust me, it’s not always a good time. Better load up on the medicine.

DEMI LOVATO – “Give Your Hearth A Break”
Lovato had a starring role as a judge on The X Factor this year, but the girl needs to give it a rest with factoring in all the decorating. It’s campier than Camp Rock and that is saying something. She is certainly a Disney girl no more.

FLO RIDA – “Mistle (Toe)”
“Whistle” may have made “Ring My Bell” look tame, but “Mistle (Toe)” is ringing all the bells once again as Flo raps about the holidays in Dade County. Just watch out when the mistletoe is hanging real low, low, low, low. You’ll turn right round and that’ll be something else.

FUN. – “Some Flights”
Ever waited countless hours at the airport for the flight home for Christmas? Listen to these horrible tales from the group of crying children, no leg room and cheap programming on the overhead pull-out television. Most flight attendants, they don’t know any more. Civil War reenactment not included.

GOTYE featuring KIMBRA – “Somebody That I Used To Noel”
Talk about “The Worst Noel”. This duet, with lyrics more loaded than fruitcake, will give you a punch as hard as the three glasses of eggnog you just wolfed down. Yes, they did have to cut you off; at least the tree was trimmed already.

TAYLOR SWIFT – “We Are Never Ever Getting Ugly Sweaters”
Instead of tearing her boyfriends to pieces this holiday season, Miss Swift will have to pull out fiber by fiber her most hated Christmas gift. Even if people don’t know her fashion sense, she’s sure got a whole lot of cents to make up for it.

Bonus cuts:
KE$HA – “Do You Hurl What I Hurl?”
An annual Christmas anthem turned twisted, this hammered hit would’ve quickly compensated for all the radio stations that are dropping “Die Young”. Don’t you wanna hear what the barefoot girl said to the mighty police officer? This song’s about to blow. (I first mentioned this one on a blog last year.)

ROD STEWART – “Da Ya Think I’m Santa?”
He makes a whole album of Christmas songs and he can’t even sing this gem? From the top album of the season, this track, marrying the disco strings of the late 1970’s with a children’s choir, would’ve been the dance hit that ruled the airwaves. Unfortunately, he’ll have to settle for another round of “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” for a few more days. Bah humbug.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this look back at these songs that will never happen, but hey, maybe a little wishful thinking and a letter to ol’ Saint Nick could help the process along a bit. You’ll be seeing many of these titles, in regular form, of course, on my year-end chart, being posted right here on the blog starting tomorrow. Until then, happy shopping! (Merry Christmas, too.)

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Going For Gold: The Justice Collective Bring In “Heavy” Sales

A #1 single isn't "impossible."

A #1 single isn’t “impossible.”

Once again, the year flew by and the end of it is here again, which means there’s a massive competition brewing for the #1 single in the United Kingdom this week, traditionally dubbed The Christmas Chart as it falls just before the national holiday on Tuesday. Of course, that country’s Singles Chart is fully determined by sales, whereas our Billboard Hot 100 takes in multiple aspects (airplay, sales, streaming), so a digital release won’t always rise to the top; thus, artists lead big campaigns in order to secure the title. This year, however, isn’t looking as crazy overall as in many past years. Last week, X Factor winner James Arthur sold nearly 500,000 copies of his debut single, a cover of Shontelle‘s “Impossible”, which easily gave him the #1 spot. It is now the fastest selling single of the year. Proceeds from Arthur’s single are going to Together For Short Lives, a U.K.-based children’s charity for young ones with life-threatening conditions. However, another charity single has emerged with a slight lead over Arthur and may just deny him of a second week at the top of the charts.

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a remake of the old The Hollies tune which became a top ten hit here in the States back in 1970. It was also a #3 hit on the other side of the pond. This version is done by The Justice Collective, benefitting charities associated with the Hillsborough Disaster, a 1989 tragedy in which 96 people were killed in a giant stampede in order to gain entrance to Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. Back in September, an independent panel reviewing the incident stated that nearly half of the victims that lost their lives on that day could have been saved had the police presence not neglected to calm the crowd, who toppled over one another when a barrier broke loose. This charity effort was intended to help cover the legal costs of those families who wanted justice from losing a family member or members during the event. Quite a few musicians were recruited for the effort, including a few we know here in the U.S., like Melanie C of the Spice Girls, Paloma Faith, Paul McCartney (who also plays electric guitar), Rebecca Ferguson, Robbie Williams and several members of The Hollies themselves. It was recorded in October and a music video featuring the recording sessions was premiered two weeks ago. Instrumentally, it stays pretty faithful to the original sound of it; it’s even in the same key. However, the addition of a full orchestra definitely opens things up and combined with the soulful vocals provided by the participants, makes it a very emotional song. It truly is a great rendition of it all going towards a good cause.

Here’s the situation: both songs have sold over 100,000 copies a piece since the tracking week began on Sunday. Both are available as digital and physical CD singles, which complicates estimations a bit seeing as iTunes freely displays a chart on their front page while brick-and-mortar retailers don’t. As of now, The Justice Crew are ahead by about 3,000 copies combined, and anything could happen in what could be one of the closest Christmas Chart races in history. (As of Thursday, there’s now a 13,000 copy separation.) Both support worthwhile organizations, but there’s a certain glory in achieving that coveted #1 spot on such a notable week. Though the X Factor contestants traditionally released their winning single on the Week for several years, it was changed last year when winners Little Mix debuted at #1 on the chart before the Christmas Week, giving the Military Wives and Gareth Malone a huge sales week and the #1 Christmas Chart record of last year, “Wherever You Are”, which spent just one week there. I would say that gives a group charity single like “Brother” the advantage in this race, but you never know what Arthur has up his sleeve. With book and CD signings, he may just be able to come back and take the top spot by a few thousand or even hundred copies. Plus, he was just on one of most watched television shows over here. Everything is up in the air.

So, it’s up to you over in the United Kingdom to buy up what you think is worthy enough to grab the #1 spot of the week. We’ll be able to view the final result on Sunday. Arthur has already had his turn at the peak of the pop survey. If there’s any justice out there, take a minute to download The Justice Collective to help them provide a sense of justice to the 96 lives lost on that spring day back in 1989.

Buy “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” on AmazonMP3.

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CONCERT: Acoustic Christmas, 12/10/12 – Worcester, MA

"Head" of the pack.

“Head” of the pack.

For a part-time job, I’m lucky enough to work in radio, and last night was our station’s annual Acoustic Christmas concert, featuring Gavin DeGraw, Andy Grammer, Tristan Prettyman and Sam James, who was on the television show, The Voice. Everything went really smoothly, which was awesome. We got a few group photos with some of the artists. That was the easy part. Of course, there was the driving of the station’s van, setting up signs and tables, all the soundchecks, screaming young girls (and soccer moms), etc, but our team pulled it off. However, this isn’t a blog post about us. I mean, I could make it about us, but then you would probably flip the page and look at something else. It’s time to actually talk about the great music coming out of the concert tonight, which I was very much impressed with.

First off, the venue. Mechanics Hall. I’ve now been there a total of… three times, I believe, even though I pass right by quite a bit more often. Great space, the acoustics are phenomenal, and the staff was totally fine. We hold a few events at the place every year, so it’s always a nice time there.

Sam James opened with a small set, including some of the songs he performed on his television debut, like “Imagine”, a John Lennon remake. I remember being upset because the night he got kicked off the show was the night that Hurricane Sandy hit, and thus, the power was out and I couldn’t watch him sadly get knocked out by Christina Perri, Jr., Melanie Martinez, with her soft-serve twist looking hair. (P.S. He’s far better. I can’t speak for him about his favorite ice cream flavor, however.) He’s definitely a great talent with a strong voice, so I hope that he does continue to pursue music. The studio versions of his song choices from The Voice are still available on iTunes.

Next up was Tristan Prettyman, who is as cute as a button, plus she’s super nice. I only really got into the singles from her last studio release, so I wasn’t sure how exactly things were going to pan out for her latest album, Cedar + Gold. She won me over. Big time. Plus, she’s not afraid to have some girl talk, because sometimes you have to spill the tea and I totally understand that. Highlights were for sure “The Rebound” (and the explanation of the Trader Joe’s incident, that was funny) as well as a pretty ballad that didn’t make the album titled “Unconditional”. Of course, the crowd went wild for “My Oh My” as well. I’ve seen her perform in acoustic setting before an even smaller audience and was good, but she absolutely knocked it out of the park tonight. She was the only one to sign autographs, take pictures, and really talk to people afterwards. That’s dedication, and I think her fan base grew a little bit bigger tonight. Her care really shows through. Outstanding job.

Then, gracing the stage with his skinny red pants and leather jacket was Andy Grammer. Now, I remember hearing “Keep Your Head Up” for the first time around Halloween back in 2010 and I thought, “Man, this is going to be big.” So, it was. His debut album has launched three big hits on the Hot AC chart, all of which were performed during the set along with a few album cuts. “Miss Me” was probably the best of the three, just because it was so stylistically different in an acoustic setting. His choice of cover songs was straight up his alley; the best of them was “Chasing Cars”, the Snow Patrol tune, in which he beat-boxed and sang. His cover of Maroon 5‘s “Sunday Morning” almost, and I mean, almost out-did the original. I’m not going to start over-analyzing singers because Grammer did his thing with a lot of charisma and pizzazz. I mean, I would never attempt to do a trumpet impression during a song, but even he went for that. (He mentioned that he played the instrument when he was younger.) Also, it’s probably worth mentioning that “Head” closed out his set, with a 16-year-old girl coming out of the crowd with “oh” and “eh” signs, which she gracefully flashed at the audience so that they could know what two syllables they needed to sing during the chorus. I’m assuming that they probably didn’t, but, you know, I’m not going to judge people. Oh, and Grammer dawned a Santa hat. Festive, he was. No big white beard, however. He can save that for his next album cover. I would definitely see him live again. He has the chops and the presence to make it a while in the industry.

Side note: there was a Brad Davidson sighting in the building later in the night. You might know his work as the co-owner of ThinkSay Records; their only act on the roster at this point, Chris Wallace, has been in the top 50 on the CHR chart for about four months now with his solo single, “Remember When (Push Rewind)”. I follow him on a few social media sites. Somehow, I imagined that we would have a half an hour conversation, talking about everything from his success with the new record label to his pets, the music industry, my personal chart and how his acts were doing on it, living in Massachusetts, if the Patriots would win the Super Bowl, and then I think it ended with me on all fours begging and pleading with him to take a chance on me, though I didn’t belt out any ABBA. Let’s face it, I’m no Agnetha Fältskog. Well, it turns out that the conversation never happened (though somehow, I still have the rug burn) and I was reduced to seeing him from afar, which is better than nothing, I suppose. I still very much respect his work and I’m sure Grammer and everybody else are lucky to work with him. (Here’s hoping for 2013. Alright, enough of about me trying to find full-time work.)

So, by this time, everybody’s on their feet and maybe a little bit tipsy (lotta bit tipsy) when Mr. Red Fedora, Gavin DeGraw, struts on the stage and takes us to church, the first time I have been there since Sister Patterson screamed “PRAISE HIM!” out of her lungs on an episode of I Love New York. Also, I like songs that make fun of televangelists. Alright, but seriously, he’s a very good live performer, much better than on the record. You were hard-pressed to find one of his singles that he didn’t perform. (OK, I found one, but again, I’m not going to judge because everything else was there. Plus, I doubt people would remember it.) Best ones for me were some of his earlier hits: “Follow Through”, which featured a nice little sing along with the crowd, and “Chariot”. “In Love With A Girl” was another highlight, just DeGraw plugging away at his piano. He also packed a lot of energy into “Sweeter”, which is 10x better live than as an album track (with a slight upgrade on the radio remix.) He was the most interactive of the performers, moving around the stage a lot and getting people pumped up for whatever song he was playing next. He was going into his rendition of a Christmas song (which I don’t remember what it was at the moment) when I was starting to pack things away and get them back to the studio, so I missed about the last quarter of his set, but I’m sure people were loving him. Oh, and I’m sure it was chaos trying to get out of the place afterwards. He was very nice, though, and people appreciated it. Good ending to a great night in classy ol’ Worcester.

Overall, the concert was a huge upgrade from last year’s snoozefest, which was headlined by The Fray, who, as you can see right now, are sort of in the twilight of their career three albums in. These four musicians, however, are still going to be on the scene, at least for a little while. Lastly, to the two girls with their Andy Grammer t-shirts plastered in glitter-drawn song titles who were on the verge of tears and hyperventilating in line when they saw him sing “Happy Birthday” to another fan, you would rival Taylor Swift‘s surprised face any day of the week, and that’s a huge accomplishment. Oh, and I hope you kept your heads up to look at the camera. Otherwise, your photo probably wouldn’t have turned out well. I think they had a good night. Another successful night.

(This post may be updated with photos and video as they appear online.)

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