Tag Archives: Gangnam Style

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood: A Multitude Of Musical Languages

They' can "Rock"; they have "Style".

Ready to “Rock” out one more.

I thought he was over, but he’s not going quietly, is he? PSY, the hit maker behind the #2 smash, “Gangnam Style”, is back with a new song that’s already burning up social media and climbing on iTunes. The new single, entitled “Gentleman”, is another catchy ditty from the performer that’s primarily sung in Korean, but has a few lines in English, at least more so than what’s in “Style”. Plus, it has its own dance and quirky video, etc., so expect that to at least be another top-40 hit for me. With Billboard changing their Hot 100 formula several months ago to include data from YouTube, it may even go to #1, meaning the magazine will essentially “right their wrongs” for denying “Style” a place at the top. (Although, who knows? With that kind of strategy, every single by him could shoot up to the top now.)

Plenty of performers have sent one song into the top 40 that’s sung in a foreign language: “Dominique” by The Singing Nun, “Macarena” by Los Del Rio, and others. It would basically look like the One-Hit Wonder Hall Of Fame. However, now that PSY is on the verge of another massive success, shall we take a look at those acts who had at least two top-40 hits in another language? It’s quite rare. I could only find three of them since the Hot 100 began in 1958, and like “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman”, they all have some English lyrics in them. They all charted about twenty years apart from one another. Let’s see who the South Korean singer may be joining in the next few weeks.

THE SANDPIPERS
This trio turned quartet based out of California went through a few name changes before they hit it big, including The Four Seasons (another group took that one  first), The Four Grads and The Grads. However, it was The Sandpipers that gave them success, even though at least one other group at the time was recording under the name. They’re best known for their 1966 remake of the “Guantanamera” (“Woman From Guantánamo”), a Spanish song, which went to #9 in a version adding one middle section in English. Their second single,  a version of “Louie Louie” that was slowed down and translated into Spanish, went to #30. The group had one other top 40 single completely sung in English: “Come Saturday Morning”, from the movie The Sterile Cuckoo. It went to #17 in early 1970. They broke up in 1975.

FALCO
From Austria, Falco had a very successful career in Europe starting in the early 80’s. One of his first hits, 1981’s “Der Kommissar” (“The Commissioner”), couldn’t crack the Hot 100, but an English version by the group After The Fire went to #5 in 1983. It wasn’t until 1986 that he became huge in the U.S. with his #1 smash, “Rock Me Amadeus”, sung primarily in German with some English. It spent three weeks at the top. His followup single, “Vienna Calling”, was remixed for the U.S. market with more background vocalists, one less verse in German and an updated instrumental track, though the album version played in the music video (see above; you can hear the single mix here.) It went to #18, his final charting single here. He died in 1998 at the age of 40 from the injuries he suffered in a motor vehicle accident.

DADDY YANKEE
36-year-old Daddy Yankee (born Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez) has been recording since the early 90’s, but began charting in the U.S. nearly a decade later. The rapper was first featured on the 2004 hit “Oye Mi Canto” by New York rapper N.O.R.E., which went to #12 on the Hot 100. However, that song was essentially a half-English, half-Spanish collaboration record, with his rap falling into the latter category. In addition, he only appears on one version of it. His first solo single to make the Billboard charts, “Gasolina” (“Gasoline”), rose as high as #32 the next year. In 2006, he went a tad higher to #24 with “Rompe” (“Break It”), which was also issued with a remix featuring G-Unit rappers Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, as well as singer Nelly Furtado. He’s bubbled under the Hot 100 as recently as last year.

(NOTE: I was going to include Shakira on the list for her 2005 single “La Tortura” featuring Alejandro Sanz (#23) and her 2010 single “Loca” (#32), but the latter release has an English version and Spanish version that are both credited on the Hot 100 with their respective featured rappers (Dizzee Rascal for the English; El Cata for the Spanish.) Though both went to retail, the English edit was the only one serviced to radio here, so it’s a hard call. She’s still great, though!)

Keep your eye on the charts to see what goes on from here! If any of you can think of any acts that I missed, let me know! Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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“Shake” It Up: Will Baauer Bounce At Radio?

Eh, close enough, but not quite.

Eh, close enough, but not quite.

It’s exploded all over the Internet; in fact, your office may be next to upload a version on YouTube. One person is casually grooving to a funky-sounding song, and fifteen seconds in, a whole group of people are swaying to the beat in crazy costumes. In just thirty seconds, a viral sensation was born. Jimmy Fallon’s crew did it; so did Ryan Seacrest’s morning show. In fact, various versions have been popping up over the last two weeks, but it’s turned into a phenomenon over the last four or five days, totaling thousands of separate videos. It’s based off of the song “Harlem Shake”, credited to a 23-year-old producer from New York whose real name is Harry Rodrigues, but who goes by the stage name Baauer. It originally was released last spring but went largely unnoticed outside of a few compilation albums featuring mainly underground material. Now, it’s suddenly been rediscovered by millions of people watching all over the world, ready to boogie down to the infectious beat of the song and laugh a little bit at people’s creativity when it comes to making an Internet video.

In the States, Baauer is on Mad Decent Records, a company started by the producer Diplo, and its sub-label Jeffrees. He’s also signed to LuckyMe Records, a small company based out of the United Kingdom, where an EP of his is in production and will be out later this year. The song isn’t his first official release (a song called “Dum Dum” was issued last year) but it is the rising star’s first song to get some attention and in a big way. The song is obviously a hit at retail. “Harlem Shake” is now #3 on iTunes in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom. (Look for a top 5 placing on the U.K. Singles Chart this weekend, which is purely sales-based.) It’s also #2 in Canada and #1 in Australia. Yet, with every huge song to come off of YouTube, there also a few problems associated with it.

First of all, it’s a viral hit and a novelty song all rolled into one. I mean, we just got over PSY‘s “Gangnam Style” recently, do we really need another one of these singles to blow up? It’s certainly not going to be easy following a music video that has over 1.3 billion hits on the web. Yet, they are two different songs incorporating two different styles of music. I guess we have no choice. The song’s already doomed to have a short shelf life, so we may as well enjoy it while it lasts and of course, prepare a spot for “Harlem” and Baauer on the list of the biggest one-hit wonders of all-time.

Then, there’s the composition itself. It’s a grimey-sounding record that’s largely instrumental in nature despite the “do the harlem shake” line and a few sound effects. Plus, people generally only know it from the first thirty seconds of the song; why would they be inclined to listen to the whole thing? That’s going to really hurt it, especially in leading into my last point. The last fully instrumental single to make the top 40 at CHR was “Sandstorm” by Darude in 2001. We’ve also had singles crossover from Europe to the States that are largely instrumental, but have a limited vocal in either a foreign or nonsensical language, like 2005’s “Axel F” by Crazy Frog and 2011’s “We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP. The thing is, neither of those three songs have made it out of the 30’s at this specific format despite a decent pace at retail. “Harlem Shake”, which is far bigger sales hit than any of these were, could likely do the same if the trend dies down faster than we think.

Lastly, as I began to explain, there’s the issue of radio. It’s not accumulating airplay very quickly here in the States, possibly because it hasn’t officially been serviced yet. It’s also on a really small label, so it would need to be picked up by a major one in order to get the proper promotion. The leader thus far at top-40 radio is WNOW-FM in New York City, with nine detections recorded in the past few days, followed by KHTT-FM/Tulsa and KSXY/Santa Rosa, CA with six, with additional small airplay in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Diego and Washington, DC. With all the electronic dance music on playlists at the format, it probably won’t struggle to fit in on the airwaves, but a #56 placing on the Hot 100 isn’t going to cut it when “Gangnam” just went to #2 for a month and a half on the Hot 100.

Whatever you may think of the song, it’s going to be around for a while and pushed to the point where you can’t stand it any longer. Hey, we could always have a rerelease of the “Harlem Shuffle” to counter it, couldn’t we?

Let me know what you think of the song and the trend based off of it in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Wondering About One-Hit Wonders: 2012’s Potential List

That's just his "Style".

That’s just his “Style”.

As 2012 draws to a close, some singers and acts have been more successful than their counterparts. Of course, established acts like Adele, Flo Rida and Maroon 5, who have consistently done well, once again showed that they have some major chart muscle. Others, like Jessie J, LMFAO and Owl City, artists who were generally considered one-hit wonders in the U.S. despite minor entries and/or international success, scored a second big hit, thus, opening up the possibility for more success in the future. Then, there is a category of artists who will be doomed to one big hit only… the dreaded title of one-hit wonder.

Now, not everybody who gets predicted to be a one-hit wonder actually ends up being one. I, myself, thought Carly Rae Jepsen would score her only hit with the catchy “Call Me Maybe”, but she made it to the top ten once again with, now, another two-hit wonder, Owl City, on “Good Time”. I was also wrong about a certain girl’s whose first major single was “Pon De Replay”. Look at Rihanna now. Look at that song now; you barely hear it. So, bloggers, fans, artists, take these predictions with a grain of salt, but prepare yourselves just in case it does happen. Also, remember, I’m strictly talking about one-hit wonders in the United States and mainly on mainstream and Top 40 stations; some may apply worldwide, but I’ll elaborate on everything as I go through each example.

Several acts on the charts at this moment are looking for their second big single. On CHR radio, Ellie Goulding is up to #25 with “Anything Could Happen”, her second top-40 hit following “Lights”. Even though her current single has brick walled right now, she’s most likely capable of securing another hit, especially with her collaboration with Calvin Harris, “I Need Your Love”. Cher Lloyd is up to #28 with “Oath” featuring Becky G, her followup to a top ten record, “Want U Back”. It’s not doing amazingly at the moment, but Lloyd is young and has a lot of potential, so she’ll probably stay around for a while. Both Goulding and Lloyd have been much bigger in the United Kingdom.

Then, we have acts who are in with their first big hit: Phillip Phillips with “Home” at #10, Ed Sheeran with “The A-Team” at #15, etc. It’s too early to call on some of the acts further down than that. These two should be safe to have at least one more hit, however. Phillips will be releasing “Gone, Gone, Gone” as his next single in early 2013, and Sheeran is already climbing at AAA radio with “Lego House”, which was a big U.K. release for him. Sheeran is also opening for Taylor Swift on her tour, which will keep him familiar with American audiences for some time. I think can both do particularly well, especially in the upcoming Spring season.

Now, the list. Well, five examples of could-be’s.

ALEX CLARE
Once upon a time, a long time ago… okay, fine, it was ten years ago, a little trio named Dirty Vegas scored a top ten record at CHR radio with a song called “Days Go By” that got widespread exposure through an advertisement for the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Though it was lyrically a breakup song, it had a danceable beat and it ascended the charts up to a high of #7 before falling off. Consider Alex Clare this decade’s version of that particular example. His song, “Too Close”, reached a high of #4 on the same airplay chart after being prominently featured in an advertisement for Internet Explorer. Though it’s lyrically a breakup song, it has a danceable beat and it ascended the charts and is just dropping in spins now. Déjà vu? Point is, his followup single in the States, “Up All Night”, is very unlikely to crossover to CHR radio, so he will likely have to settle with his one hit. This is happening globally too as none of his other singles have caught on. In other words, the coast is Clare.

As of April 2013, Clare has yet to score another mainstream hit here in the States.

GOTYE (and KIMBRA)
This one shouldn’t be any surprise considering that Gotye has basically accepted the fact that he’s going to be a one-hit wonder. In an article with NME, he said, “If I was to become a one-hit wonder, I’d be in some good company.” Well, “Somebody That I Used To Know” was a big #1 hit in the United States, and even though the followup, “Eyes Wide Open”, was a mid-charter at Alternative radio, it never became a national smash, and he hasn’t charted since. Kimbra is going to end up in the same category here in the States, but she’s managed to score a few chart singles in her native New Zealand, including one top ten earlier this year.

As of April 2013, neither singer has charted here.

HAVANA BROWN
Originally a hit in Australia in 2011, “We Run The Night” was Brown’s debut single, remixed for American audiences by successful producer RedOne and featuring rapper Pitbull. The result was a #1 Dance hit and a top twenty hit on CHR radio that was quite the slow burner. Brown has had better success as a DJ in Australian nightclubs. Her album, When The Lights Go Out, only hit a high of #16 on Australia’s Album Chart and second single, “Get It”, barely scratched the top 40 there. I guess very few people actually got it. Well, even if she gives up as a singer, she still has her other profession to fall back on.

As of April 2013, Brown managed to have another moderate single in her native Australia, the top 20 “Big Banana”. She has yet to issue any other releases here.

THE LUMINEERS
Have you turned on your radio lately to find a folky song playing? You think, “Hmmm, that’s not Mumford & Sons. It’s not Phillip Phillips either. Who could it be?” Congratulations, you’ve just found yourself another one-hit wonder, The Lumineers. Don’t blame this trio for stealing the particular sound that’s become the rage lately; “Ho Hey” has been around for a while. It, too, has been the subject of an advertisement campaign, but an online one for Bing. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this song is the shortest song to hit the CHR chart this decade. It clocks in at 2:35. It’s the shortest one to hit the top 40 since 2007, when the Jonas Brothers clocked in at 2:33 with the debut charting single, “S.O.S.”, a #23 hit. Followup single “Stubborn Love” is gaining minor airplay at Alternative radio, but it won’t do anything at Pop radio stations. “Ho Hey” is simpler and much easier to digest.

As of April 2013, “Stubborn Love” has received very little crossover play, and it peaked at a lowly #70 on the Hot 100. Who knows if the third single, “Submarines”, can do any better?

PSY
OK, guys, the fun is over: “Gangnam Style”, which will shortly be surpassing 900 million views on YouTube, is falling in both sales and airplay here in the States. Hey, it was no “Macarena”, though it did hit #2 on the Hot 100 and #10 on CHR radio. PSY has had multiple hits in South Korea for over a decade, so he won’t be a one-hit wonder there, but outside of there, he is the most obvious one-hit wonder with a dance craze-related single since Los Del Rio. Are you really expecting this guy to take the charts by storm again here in the States? Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, will try as he might to get some sort of second single on the charts, possibly featuring Bieber, but it’s not going to work whatsoever. 안녕, PSY. (That was goodbye, by the way.)

As of April 2013, PSY managed to have another hit! “Gentleman” made the top 5 on the Hot 100, but it was largely due to YouTube plays and not from airplay or sales. Oh well. He’ll still always be remembered for “Gangnam Style”.

Am I totally wrong? Right on? Missed a big one? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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