Tag Archives: Radioactive

Rock On, Radio: The Latest Alternative Releases

From singer-songwriters to pop/rock bands, these latest singles are all Adam Approved (always a good thing) and going to Alternative or AAA (Adult Album Alternative) radio within the next few weeks. They are just a small sample of the songs you may be seeing on next week’s Radio Report for the month of February. I give you these four great new tracks as an appetizer:

Can't get it out of my "Head".

Can’t get it out of my “Head”.

BEN HOWARD – “Keep Your Head Up”
Adds Date: January 28 (AAA)

25-year-old Howard is originally from West London and released his only album to date, Every Kingdom, back in the fall of 2011. His biggest single thus far in the States, “Only Love”, recently went to #5 on the adult alternative chart. “Love” was also his only single to place in the top 40 in the U.K. Singles Chart. Howard is following it up in the States with the song “Keep Your Head Up”, which went to #74 in the U.K. in September 2011. For you pop music fans out there, no, this is not a hot Andy Grammer cover. Howard’s track is more along the lines of a David Gray or a Paolo Nutini song; a really organic sound with an emotive vocal as Howard appeals to the listener to “keep your head up, keep your heart strong/keep your mind set in your ways.” It’s a boost of encouragement when the protagonist is lost in his wicked ways and looking for a way out, only find that “all I was searchin’ for was me.” The song’s much more immediate for me than “Love” ever was. Since that slowly broke him on the AAA format, I would hope that this next release will rise a little bit faster and get Howard back to the top ten. He’s a hidden jewel in the world of singer-songwriters; you’ll keep coming back for another listen.

The element of "Freedom".

The element of “Freedom”.

DIDO – “No Freedom”
Adds Date: February 18 (AAA)

Hello there, old friend. The hitmaker behind “Thankyou” and “White Flag” came back with a not-so-eventful album in 2008 called Safe Trip Home. First single “Don’t Believe In Love” never saw any significant radio action and the album quickly faded away. Dido hopes that this will be a big return for her, which comes nearly ten years after their release of her last big chart hit in the States, “White Flag”. The first official single from her forthcoming album, Girl Who Got Away, is “No Freedom”, which sees the singer back to her familiar sound with perhaps a touch of an older R&B sound in elements of the composition. The song is about being constricted by a relationship, with the protagonist seemingly at the end of one: “Take it by your silence/I’m free to walk out the door/By the look of your eyes, I can tell/You don’t think I’ll be back for more.” She realizes that there’s “no love without freedom”, even if the two of them pass by each other in a more indirect way. The song will at least be enough to get her back on the airwaves, but, is it too little too late in the States or will she get the full embrace that she did in previous eras? Keep looking out on the charts to see what happens.

No need to horse around.

No need to horse around.

FUN. – “Why Am I The One?”
Adds Date: February 25 (Alternative)

What’s fun of having no new fun. songs on the radio? Good question. The band poses another one with “Why Am I The One?”, the fourth single from their album, Some Nights, and the followup to recent hit “Carry On”. It comes just in time for the GRAMMY Awards, where they’re up for a number of awards and will be performing on the live broadcast. (I’ll be posting all my picks for the ceremony in two weeks.) “One” sounds like an Elton John song hit the production of a mid-90’s rock band. I don’t know what it is, but there’s one distinctive part of the chorus that reminds me a lot of John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” in the melody that Ruess is singing. The protagonist is bored of his situation, until he gets the “feeling that I’m right where I belong”, but he still manages to be on the losing end of a situation with his girl, asking “Why am I the one always packing all my stuff?” This may very well be the fourth top ten hit in a row for the group on the Alternative chart, which almost never happens with an act’s first four radio releases. We’ll see what happens! The radio adds date is still a month away, so “Carry” could still make some upward movement in the meantime. (It’s currently top ten on the Alternative chart and also charting on mainstream radio.)

Imagination's got the best of you.

Imagination’s got the best of you.

IMAGINE DRAGONS – “Demons”
Adds Date: at radio now (AAA/Alternative)

This quartet from Las Vegas has garnered two big hits on alternative radio within the past year: “It’s Time” and ‘Radioactive”, the former of which has become a sizeable crossover hit. This third release, also from their 2012 release Night Visions, the band’s debut album, is a little more mellow overall than their past two releases, but still finds the right amount of energy during the chorus to keep the song going. This isn’t exactly light stuff, taking place in a world where “days are cold” and “your dreams all fail”, but it’s the pre-chorus that really hits the message home in a very thought-provoking way: “No matter what we breed/We are still made of greed.” It’s sort of disturbing in a sense, but it rings frighteningly true given the world’s situation today. Still, there are demons present even in the protagonist’s eyes, even as he tries to “save the light” of another presence that he can make him pure again. It’s an outstanding lyric, and alternative radio will definitely make this another big hit for the band. They’ll be on tour for much of the first half of 2013 before potentially returning to the studio to record their second full-length album.

Do you have a favorite song out of the four highlighted here? Is there another artist that you think I should cover? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Troublemakers and Heartbreakers: Will These Brits Breakthrough Big in 2013?

Murs and Marina: don't sit on them any longer.

Murs and Marina: don’t sit on them any longer.

The U.S. music scene can be a cruel place for artists trying to make the jump over the Atlantic and onto our shores. Even if it’s a hit in the artist’s home country, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a hit in the States. Songs by acts like Cover Drive, Sak Noel and Tulisa became big number-ones in the U.K. without ever making it over here, while others by Example and Florence + The Machine made it on the Dance Chart, but not on Pop playlists. Some of these British acts have never released here before and others have underperformed on the national charts here this year, but that’s alright. They’ll have another chance to impress American audiences with some new sounds in 2013. Here’s a preview of what’s to come from a few of these acts, still praying for a big breakthrough.

JAKE BUGG
18-year-old Bugg’s been huge on the U.K.’s independent scene, so much so that his self-titled debut album went to #1 in that country. Only one single from his album made it into the top 40 of the Singles Chart there and it’s the same one being tested on the U.S. market. “Two Fingers” goes for Alternative adds at the end of January. Like much of his album, it’s country and folk-tinged tune that you can clap and tap your feet to. It’s a song about longing for independence and leaving all the non-essentials behind. It’ll take you a while before you come to the realization that this is indeed a young person singing and writing this and not an older, more experienced performer. This one has zero chance of crossing over to the mainstream formats, but if Bugg gets the recognition at Alternative and AAA radio, he should be very proud of himself.

MARINA & THE DIAMONDS
This one-woman band, originally born in Wales, has been a strong seller on Album Chart in the United Kingdom. Debut album The Family Jewels attained a peak of #5 and shipped Gold and her latest release, Electra Heart, was certified Silver earlier this year after hitting the top spot. The leadoff single, “Primadonna”, went to #11 on the U.K. Singles Chart, and made a minor splash on the U.S. Pop airplay chart, rising to #39. It was most likely dismissed as a Katy Perry sound-alike by radio programmers, though Marina’s roots go deeper than that. She has a socially-conscious dance-pop sound, especially on her latest release, a concept album of sorts about the American Dream and the negative shades of it as seen through the lens of a ruthless young female. She’ll be trying again in the U.S. in 2013 with second single “How To Be A Heartbreaker”, which is even more radio-friendly and will hopefully her first big single in the States. It goes for adds in January. I’ve certainly enjoyed listening to it over the past few months. With a rocking guitar line mixed with her rule book-style lyrics, it should entice a wider audience to her music. Sometimes you gotta go more simple to break the scene: that’ll teach ’em how to be a chartbreaker.

OLLY MURS
Since placing second on his season of The X Factor, Murs has been a consistent seller on the charts, racking up four number-one singles in the United Kingdom in a period of two years. One of those, “Heart Skips A Beat”, was released in the U.K. in a version featuring rap duo Rizzle Kicks. When the song was sent to the U.S., a new version was recorded featuring a rap break from duo Chiddy Bang. Despite two videos filmed and numerous appearances, the song couldn’t make it past the top 30 on CHR radio. His album, Right Place, Right Time, has been pushed back until April here (though a certain someone already ordered the U.K. deluxe edition, I wonder who) but for good reason. His recent #1 hit in his native U.K., “Troublemaker”, will be released to CHR radio here in the States in early January. It bears a similar guitar line to Maroon 5‘s “Misery” from 2009 but in a different key, and knowing the tween audience, I would doubt they’d remember it. Bottom line is, it’s insanely catchy and even an appearance by Flo Rida is harmless in the general scheme of things. Murs deserves a chance to have a successful career in the States. Will he successfully cause some Trouble in 2013? It remains to be seen.

RITA ORA
You’ve probably heard about this lady in the press recently after an ex-boyfriend blasted her on Twitter, but since that other party is irrelevant and just wants attention (it runs in that family), that’s as far as I’ll go with that one. Luckily, Ora has far more talent than he does, racking up three number-one singles and one number-one album in the United Kingdom. Two of her singles, “How We Do (Party)” and “R.I.P.”, became minor radio hits here in the States. The latter single was initially issued with rapper Tinie Tempah, but Drake replaced him for the U.S. version. Stuck in a rut and on the verge of getting her album shelved here in the States, Ora is now releasing a third single, “Radioactive”, due at U.S. radio early next week. The chorus has an anthem-like quality and the dance-pop sound of it would fit in neatly on today’s radio. If not a Pop smash, it’ll certainly take the Dance chart by storm. As the old saying goes, third time is the charm. Let’s see if it’s really true for Ora and her U.S. standing.

SAM & THE WOMP
File this one in the same folder with Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP‘s “We No Speak Americano”. A #1 hit in the United Kingdom in July 2010, it took until November to peak in the United States, and it only became a minor-charting hit mainly because it was such a polarizing Dance single. The debut single from this trio, “Bom Bom”, which hit the top in the U.K. back in August, casually strutted into the CHR top 50 just a few days ago. You’re either going to love or hate this one; it’s in-your-face and features a pulsating rapped vocal as well as some trumpet solos that almost sound African-influenced. The duo hasn’t charted in the U.K. since, so expect this one to be their only charting record on both shores. Radio might be on the fence with this one, but if consumers start catching onto it, it may just become inescapable in the new year.

Of course, more U.K. sensations will be taking their chance on the U.S. as the year goes on. I’ve noted Stateside efforts by Conor Maynard and The Saturdays in earlier posts. Here’s to you, British acts. May the odds ever be in your favor.

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