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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (October 22)

The pop princess of Prism.

A little more “Roar”.

Time to let the light in on these heavy albums hitting the streets today; some big names in here. Check out the releases for the week of October 22:

  • She’s got the eye of the tiger and she’s fully ready to pounce on that top spot on next week’s Billboard 200 album chart. It’s the third studio album from pop princess Katy Perry, who releases Prism, featuring the #1 “Roar” and new single “Unconditionally”. How high will her first frame stack up? Stay tuned. (iTunes)
  • California rockers AFI just missed the top ten with their last studio album; now, four years later, they return with Burials, with singles like “17 Crimes” and “I Hope You Suffer”. Well, so much for the positive vibes. (iTunes)
  • Former X Factor contestants Fifth Harmony are out with an EP this week titled Better Together, a poppy affair featuring single “Miss Movin’ On”. (iTunes)
  • Hot off his top ten AAA hit, “Wild Child”, which currently resides at #6, singer-songwriter Brett Dennen releases Smoke And Mirrors, his fifth studio album since 2004. (iTunes)
  • His album Passione went to #2 earlier this year; will the runner-up spot be his again or can he make it to the top? Sure to be a hot seller this holiday season is Andrea Bocelli‘s Love In Portofino, which also comes with a DVD in the physical component. (iTunes)
  • Also hot on the opera circuit this week is Italian trio Il Volo, who enter the ring of Christmas contenders with Buon Natale: The Christmas Album. There are strong pre-orders on this one, which features covers of all the classics. (iTunes).
  • If you miss the late Donna Summer, you’ll be sure to love Love To Love You Donna, a collection of remixes as done by Afrojack, Laidback Luke and more. (iTunes).
  • Other albums out this week include Anoushka Shankar‘s Traces Of You (iTunes), Def Leppard‘s Viva! Hysteria – Live At The Joint, Las Vegas (iTunes), Lita Ford‘s The Bitch Is Back… Live (iTunes), Motörhead‘s Aftershock (iTunes) and Tori Kelly‘s Foreword EP (iTunes).

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

  • “Do What U Want”, an album track from Lady Gaga‘s forthcoming ARTPOP featuring R. Kelly. (iTunes)
  • “Hold Tight”, the latest Music Mondays single from Justin Bieber. (iTunes)
  • “Love Don’t Die”, the leadoff single from The Fray‘s forthcoming studio album. (iTunes) (Lyrics here!)
  • “Sweeter Than Fiction”, an 80’s inspired soundtrack single from One Chance by Taylor Swift. (iTunes)
  • “The Outsiders”, a brand new song from Country superstar Eric Church. (iTunes)
  • “Wait For A Minute”, a new single from rapper Tyga featuring Justin Bieber. (iTunes)

With new albums from Arcade Fire, Kelly Clarkson and Toby Keith next week, as well as many more acts, it’s going to be a full house. See who lands where in a preview in seven!

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Filed under Album Reviews, Music News

Turn It On Again: Spending A While On The Dial

Active on the airwaves.

Active on the airwaves.

By now, you’re probably familiar with the Las Vegas band Imagine Dragons. Their first single, “It’s Time”, was a decent-sized hit nationally, and now they’ll at least be a two-hit wonder with their latest release, “Radioactive”. It’s already gone to #1 on the Alternative survey and to #7 on the Hot 100, making it the tenth such title to make the Hot 100’s top 40 portion with the word “radio” in it. Whether it’s on AM, FM, or satellite, millions of us turn to the radio every day for music, news, sports and more. Let’s see what songs freshened up the frequencies from the 1970’s up until now.

Joni Mitchell, “You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio” (#25)
She’s probably best known for originating the song “Big Yellow Taxi” back in 1970, but it was “Turn” that was Mitchell’s first of three top 40 hits in the U.S., peaking at #25 for two weeks in early 1973. Parent album For The Roses went to #11, and she would do even better with her next release, the #2 Court And Spark, featuring top ten single “Help Me”. She last recorded original material in 2007.

Reunion, “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” (#8)
One of the big one-hit wonders from the 70’s, the band consisted of studio musicians and led by vocalist Joey Levine, who previously sang with groups like The Ohio Express. The unusual song was essentially rap-sung, with Levine name-dropping over 100 references in music history from the 50’s to the 70’s, including disc jockeys, singers, songs and musical instruments. It was the only song to chart for the group.

Al Stewart, “Song On The Radio” (#29)
Scotsman Stewart was already known for the top ten hits “Year Of The Cat” (1977) and “Time Passages” (1978) at this point in his career, but the followup single to “Passages” wouldn’t do so well, just making the top 30 at #29. It was written by Stewart and produced by Alan Parsons. Though he continued to record well into the 2000’s on different labels, his charting days were over on the Hot 100 by the end of 1980.

The Buggles, “Video Killed The Radio Star” (#40)
Ah, yes, the first video ever to be played on MTV. That was in August 1981. “Video” actually charted at the end of 1979, peaking at #40 for one week in December. Though several minor followup singles charted in European territories, nothing ever matched the success of their most well-known single release. It was also sampled in the 2010 hit by will.i.am and Nicki Minaj, “Check It Out”, peaking at #24.

Donna Summer, “On The Radio” (#5)
This is the biggest song with the word “radio” in it to make the Hot 100 so far in its nearly 55-year history. Even as disco experienced a backlash by the fall of 1979, the late Summer was able to hit the charts with a string of thumping dance numbers, including this one, co-written by her and longtime collaborator Giorgio Moroder. A greatest hits album named after the song went to #1 in January 1980.

Queen, “Radio Ga Ga” (#16)
From their album The Works, this is one of the group’s most remembered hits, even influencing Lady Gaga‘s stage name. “Ga Ga” was ultimately the last top 40 single for the band while lead singer Freddy Mercury was alive, though a handful of other songs made the Hot 100 before he died in 1991. Following his passing, a 1992 rerelease of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which appeared in Wayne’s World, went to #2.

The Firm, “Radioactive” (#28)
This British supergroup combined the rockin’ powers of Paul Rodgers (Bad Company/Free), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Chris Slade (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band/Urian Heep) and Tony Franklin. Their self-titled 1985 album hit the top 20, and this song became their only top 40 hit on the Hot 100, peaking at #28. They charted three songs in total. They group split up the next year.

Autograph, “Turn Up The Radio” (#29)
Out of Pasadena, CA, this quintet released this single as the first from their Gold-certified debut album, Sign In Please. The album peaked at #29 and single peaked at the same spot on the Hot 100. The band was dropped from RCA Records after three albums and broke up in 1989, but they recorded a few records together independently with different lineups years later. They last played together in 2003.

Tiffany, “Radio Romance” (#35)
After taking ballad “All This Time” to #6 earlier that year, Tiffany decided to dance it up with her fifth and final top 40 hit. It leapt into the top 40 at the #35 spot during the first week of April and then crashed immediately afterward, spending one forgettable week in the top 40. Luckily, radio is still love with her #1 hits like “I Think We’re Alone Now”, which still get some play on 80’s mix shows now and again.

Some other “radio” ready titles I like:
“Who Listens To The Radio?”, The Sports (#45, 1978)
“Mexican Radio”, Wall Of Voodoo (#58, 1983)
“AM Radio”, Everclear (#101, 2000)
“…On The Radio (Remember The Days)”, Nelly Furtado (DNC, 2002)
“Radio Nowhere”, Bruce Springsteen (#102, 2007)

What’s your favorite tune that I highlighted in this salute to the stations? Any other “radio” song that I forgot to rank among the rest? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Filed under Charts/Trade Papers

Frolicking Through The Factory: PWL, SAW and the USA

Never gonna give them up.

Never gonna give them up.

If you’re a fan of Peter Waterman and his days with the writing team Stock, Aitken and Waterman, as well as his record label, Pete Waterman Entertainment, you probably know that many of his acts are participating in a winter extravaganza called PWL Hit Factory Live, a star-studded one-off concert featuring acts like Dead Or Alive, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Sonia and more. It’ll be taking place on December 21 at London’s O2 arena, a twenty-fifth celebration party of Waterman’s label. If you were living in the United Kingdom in the 1980’s, his compositions were inescapable, from television to the radio. If you were in the United States, maybe you know a handful of them, the bigger ones. Here’s a history of the damage they did in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Stock, Aitken and Waterman began their musical partnership in 1984, writing and producing songs for many newcomers, successfully delivering them their biggest singles yet. SAW’s first big number to hit the U.S. shores was in the summer of 1985. That’s when Dead Or Alive‘s blockbuster single, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, hit #11 on the Hot 100, though it hit the top spot in the group’s native United Kingdom a few months prior. Just as in the U.K., they scored their first #1 on the charts within a year, when a remake of Shocking Blue‘s “Venus” performed by female trio Bananarama hit #1 on the Hot 100 in September 1986. However, not everything the trio touched turned to gold in the States. A U.S. release of Mel & Kim‘s “Showing Out”, an easy top 5 in the U.K., only managed a #78 on the Hot 100 in early 1987. Several of their artists only managed to hit the dance chart before leaving the U.S. market, like Hazell Dean and Princess. However, things began to turn around rather quickly as the year went on.

In the spring of ’87, Dead Or Alive‘s second and final U.S. hit, “Brand New Lover”, became another top ten hit, which was followed by another top ten hit for SAW in the fall in the form of “I Heard A Rumour”, which would also be Bananarama‘s last top-40 single on the Hot 100, though SAW-engineered followups “I Can’t Help It” and “Love In The First Degree” just missed the top 40 several months later. 1988 was perhaps the biggest year for SAW and Pete Waterman in the States when their most successful act, Rick Astley, made his debut with two back-to-back number-one hits, “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever”, followed by a #10 hit, “It Would Take A Strong, Strong Man”. ’88 also saw the debut of a little miss by the name of Kylie Minogue. Her first single, “I Should Be So Lucky”, barely scraped the top 30, but her followup, a remake of “The Loco-Motion”, hit #3 on the Hot 100. (By the way, around this time, some parodies started to pour in from people who were fed up with the Factory’s sound. “This Is The Chorus” by Morris Minor and the Majors comes to mind, which makes fun of SAW artist music videos, songs and how they were written. It was only a minor hit in Australia, just missing the top twenty.)

1989 started off relatively disappointing for the trio with two underperforming singles: “It’s No Secret” by the aforementioned Minogue, which topped out at #37 (her last U.S. entry until 2002), and a cover of “I Only Want To Be With You” done by Samantha Fox, her last charting song which hit a dismal #31. (Her other SAW single, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now”, did worse a year earlier.) That was no issue for the trio, who were still producing and writing for Minogue and acts like Jason Donovan, another Dance-only act in the States. Later in the year, they managed to take Donna Summer back to the top ten for the first time in six years with “This Time I Know It’s For Real”, which went as high as #6 on the Hot 100. It was her last top-40 smash in the U.S., though she managed several other minor entries into the 1990’s. (Noticing a pattern here?) PWL attempted a U.S. branch of their label around this time, skewing towards more Urban acts, but it folded within a few years time.

No PWL acts or SAW-produced singles managed to break the Hot 100’s top 40 from 1990 to 1992, a pretty sharp drop, though Lonnie Gordon and Pat & Mick scored really minor entries in-between that were far bigger U.K. hits. However, in 1993, the last Pete Waterman co-produced hit charted in the U.S., reaching #18 on the Hot 100, and #1 on the CHR airplay chart as reported by now-defunct Radio & Records (#2 on the corresponding Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart.) “That’s What Love Can Do”, a major disappointment in the U.K. for girl group Boy Krazy, somehow managed to become a breakout hit in the U.S. in a remixed version, though their fame was short-lived when “Good Times With Bad Boys” missed Billboard’s top 40 (though, again, Radio & Records reported it as a top-30 airplay hit.)

Long after the songwriting trio dissolved, Waterman’s last productions to hit the U.S. market altogether came in the fall of 1999, when hot quintet at the time Steps released “One For Sorrow”, followed by a cover of “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees in the spring of 2000. Despite an opening spot on Britney Spears‘s tour at the time, the group never garnered any significant airplay, and went back to the U.K., where they ruled the charts until early 2002. The debut single by Tina Cousins, “Pray”, another Waterman production, was sent to radio in the U.S. towards early summer 2000, but didn’t catch on, and that was basically it as far as Waterman productions being issued in the States.

He’s obviously done more work since then, working as a judge on Pop Idol and Popstars: The Rivals across the pond, but to many over here, the British version of Motown is a long distant memory, even though a lot of their hits are still in rotation today on the radio. Obviously, a concert of this magnitude would never work over here, but good on him for putting together what should be an awesome showcase. As his acts band together to hit the stage one more time as a group, it’s time to bust out the synthesizers and the jelly bands and jam out like it’s the electronic 80’s all over again.

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Filed under Playlists, Retro, Uncategorized