Tag Archives: Matthew Morrison

Sharpening Their Claus: Christmas Carols Ready To Sleigh

Singles all the way.

Singles all the way.

November 1. It’s the day after Halloween, but it’s also that dreaded day when radio stations around the U.S., specifically Adult Contemporary and Classic Hits ones, could make that call to flip their station to all-Christmas music. The horror! The holiday tunes are coming earlier than ever this year, so I guess it makes sense to highlight what’s happening before the mistletoe madness begins. Here are three singles I’m looking forward to hearing on the air as that great flip of formats marches on:

EMELI SANDÉ – “Winter Wonderland”
Label: Capitol Records / Adds Date: n/a

Here’s a gal who is having a great 2013 in America, responsible for three top 40 singles across the various airplay charts – two on her own, “My Kind Of Love” and “Next To Me”, along with the Labrinth duet “Beneath Your Beautiful”. Originally featured on an EMI sampler from last year, Sandé’s take on the nearly 70-year-old song sees a reissue this year as a part of the soundtrack to the upcoming film The Best Man Holiday, which opens on November 15. It was recorded as part of the 1 Mic, 1 Take series along with other acts like Graffiti6 and Tristan Prettyman. Understated but powerful, she’s at her best on this with that dramatic, soul-drenched voice of hers. It definitely has the potential to become the biggest Urban hit of the season.

KELLY CLARKSON – “Underneath The Tree”
Label: RCA Records / Adds Date: November 4 (AC)

Over the years, the former American Idol winner has issued renditions of Christmas classics on several compilations, including “My Grown Up Christmas List” and “O Holy Night”; now comes the ultimate test. Clarkson’s first full-length album of both original songs and remakes, Wrapped In Red, is the most anticipated holiday-themed release of the season; it hits stores tomorrow, October 29. Her first single from the effort is a masterpiece, channeling Darlene Love and Phil Spector‘s Wall Of Sound era in a perfect pop record. Produced and co-written by Greg Kurstin, the future multi-format smash is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. By the end of this holiday season, you may be asking, “Uh, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” who?”

MATTHEW MORRISON – “This Christmas”
Label: 222 Records / Adds Date: October 28 (AC)

You know him best from the television show Glee as the lovable Will Schuester, but earlier this year, Morrison released his first album with the newly formed 222 Records (from Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine), a standards album entitled Where It All Began. It did not chart. This latest single from the actor and singer comes from a forthcoming six song EP, A Classic Christmas, which looks to be a digital-only release available on November 19. Morrison’s version is a pretty faithful take on the Donny Hathaway release of four decades ago, with a lush brass section and a fantastic saxophonist paired with his vocal. Look for this one to garner a bit on Adult Contemporary play like his original 2011 single, “Summer Rain”. (No stream is up at this time.)

For even more early Christmas singles, check out all these tracks delivered to radio in the past few weeks along with their intended formats for play or are being prepped for release overseas:
CHARLIE WILSON“I Still Have You” (Urban AC)
COURTNEY RAU – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (AC)
HEART – “All Through The Night” and “Please Come Home For Christmas” (AC / Classic Rock)
OWL CITY featuring TOBYMAC“Light Of Christmas” (Christian AC / Christian CHR)

ERASURE – “Gaudete” (Europe – December 16)
LEONA LEWIS“One More Sleep” (Europe – December 2)
RICHARD & ADAM – “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In (On Christmas Day)” (Europe – December 16)
THE BIG REUNION – “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” (Europe – December 16)

Also watch out for singles from Christmas albums and EPs by Ariana Grande, Mary J. Blige, Susan Boyle, Tamar Braxton, Trace Adkins and more coming soon.

For more ho, ho, hot tracks from the snowy side of pop music, keep it locked on PGTC by clicking the “Get Social!” tab above or the “Follow” tab at the bottom of the page.

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (June 4)

A "Safe" bet for some sales.

A “Safe” bet for some sales.

Five months down and we’re just getting started. Here’s your roundup of new releases out for the week of June 4:

  • In a week full of not-so-big releases, this is one of the larger ones. It’s the debut album from the duo Capital Cities, In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery. First single “Safe And Sound” is big at Alternative radio and is crossing over this summer. (iTunes)
  • My pick of the week belongs to Canada’s Barenaked Ladies, who are out with their first album since 2010, Grinning Streak. The lead single is “Boomerang”, a current top 20 single on my chart. (iTunes)
  • Queens Of The Stone Age are back together and putting out their first album in six years, …Like Clockwork. The ten track album contains current Alternative hit, “My God Is The Sun”. (iTunes)
  • Country singer turned tabloid item LeAnn Rimes is out with Spitfire, which was released in Australia and the United Kingdom back in April. There’s been limited promotion for the effort, which has pretty much been doomed from the start. (iTunes)
  • Heavy metal band Megadeth return with Super Collider, their fourteenth studio album since 1985. (iTunes)
  • The sixth studio album from the rock band Filter, Sun Comes Out Tonight, comes out today, featuring the single “What Do You Say”. (iTunes)
  • Oregon-based quintet Portugal. The Man man up once again for their second album on Atlantic Records, Evil Friends. (iTunes)
  • Another of the Tony nominees has an original soundtrack out this week: Motown: The Musical. The award show airs on Sunday night. (iTunes)
  • Glee star and singer Matthew Morrison does his take on some standard tunes on his second album, Where It All Began. (iTunes)
  • Other albums out this week include: Disclosure‘s Settle (iTunes), George Benson‘s Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole (iTunes), Ivy Levan‘s Introducing The Dame EP (iTunes), Lonestar‘s Life As We Know It (iTunes) and Quadron‘s Avalanche (iTunes).

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

  • “Can’t Help”, the second single from Virginia-based band Parachute‘s third studio album. (iTunes)
  • “Release You”, new from the pop duo Megan & Liz. (iTunes)
  • “Slow Down”, the followup single to Selena Gomez‘s potent pop ditty, “Come & Get It”. (iTunes)
  • “Wasting All These Tears”, from former Hey Monday singer and The Voice winner Cassadee Pope. (iTunes)
  • “We Can’t Stop”, the first single from Miley Cyrus‘s forthcoming album. (iTunes)

Who will lead the pack next week? Big Time Rush? Goo Goo Dolls? A preview is coming in seven!

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PROFILE: Glee‘s Matthew Morrison Serves Up Standards For Seconds

Begin again.

Begin again.

You know him well as the character of Will Schuester on Glee, which was recently renewed for not one, but two more seasons. You think it’s a little premature to come to that announcement? I do too, but the network seems to really believe in it. When he’s not teaching the students at McKinley High, Matthew Morrison is an artist himself. There’s been a little bit out there on his recent developments in the music world, but now that the first single from his second album has magically appeared online, let’s have a listen to it, shall we? First, a little bit of background on the matter.

Glee attained a pretty good audience when it premiered in the fall of 2009, but it wasn’t until the second part of the first season that things really started to pick up for the crew. As the show rocked the ratings, Morrison signed a solo deal with Mercury Records, who released his self-titled debut album in the spring of 2011. He performed one of the songs on it, “Still Got Tonight”, on an episode of Glee that season, and the radio single from the effort, “Summer Rain”, made the top 20 on Adult Contemporary radio. It also made the top 20 on my personal chart, but we know those things don’t count in the real world. Sigh. Despite duets with Elton John and Sting and a top show on the air, he couldn’t really promote the album when it came out, and thus, it debuted moderately and then crashed down, never to be seen again. He was then, understandably, dropped from the label. However, just a year later, Morrison became the first signee on 222 Records, a label put together by the lead singer of Maroon 5, Adam Levine. He’s been working on this project ever since, and now his baby is ready to be revealed to the world in just a few weeks.

Where It All Began marks Matthew Morrison‘s first full release to go in an all-standards direction rather than the pop record he put out two years ago. The twelve-song set, released on June 3, is a mix of songs from the musicals and big band era, from “The Lady Is A Tramp” (from Babes In Arms) to “Luck Be A Lady” (from Guys And Dolls) to the first single from it, a take on the Duke Ellington classic from the 30’s, “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”. (You can hear that rendition below.) The album was produced by the late Phil Ramone, so there may be some curiosity buys based on that unfortunate event. There are some peculiar choices, including a duet with Smokey Robinson on “Ease On Down The Road” from The Wiz (who made that decision?) as well as a cover of “Send In The Clowns” from A Little Night Music, which is generally sung from the female perspective, although I guess that didn’t stop Frank Sinatra from recording a version of it. This is purely based on viewing the tracklisting; we’ll see if Morrison’s collection of songs actually works when it comes out in June. (You would think the label would want to put it out for Mother’s Day to cash in on that. Way to go, kids.) The first single is decent enough and a pretty faithful version of the old song, so I have decent-sized expectations for the rest of the eleven tracks.

(Pre-order Where It All Began on Amazon.)

Morrison hasn’t announced a full tour to promote his forthcoming album yet, but he will be doing two dates with the Boston Pops on May 28 and 29, two dates at 54 Below in New York City on June 2 and 4, as well as two dates with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. on November 29 and 30. In the meantime, perhaps we’ll see him pop up on The Voice for a performance with coach Adam Levine on the show. The genre of the album may be a hard sell to younger audiences who enjoy his stuff on Glee, but should he see the older folks come out for it, he may be able to stretch this era a bit. Otherwise, he still has a television to fall back on until the spring of 2015. At least this is the kind of material he wants to do artistically rather than being forced in a studio to record something, and I’m sure that’s enough satisfaction for him.

Listen to the first single from Morrison’s Where It All Began, “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”. You can also request it at your local Adult Contemporary radio station, where the song has been serviced as of this week. Let me know what you think of it in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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