Tag Archives: Shontelle

Striving For Perfection: The Chase For Chart Excellence

Flawless fellows and females.

Flawless fellows and females.

As expected, boy band One Direction‘s latest single “Perfect” is already a worldwide hit and currently sits at #1 on iTunes here in the States. Co-written by two of the quartet’s members (among its seven listed co-writers), it follows “Drag Me Down” (now at #3 on my top 40) as the second radio single from their upcoming Made In The A.M. album, due on November 13. Of course, like the majority of their singles, a splashy opening doesn’t guarantee that it’s an automatic top ten on the pop radio survey, but we’ll have to wait and see how this one does in the long run.

Speaking of the pop radio chart, we’ve had a bunch of “perfect” pop titles hit both the Radio & Records and Mediabase listings. I think it’s time to relive some of those musical moments. From the beginning of the archives in the fall of 1973 and into 2015, this list of seven splendid singles (which will soon be growing to eight) keeps it ideal:

1985
“Perfect Way”, Scritti Politti (#10, December 10)
A variation on the Italian phrase scritti politici, or political writings, this English act wrote a place for themselves on the charts in 1985 with this fun synthpop sound. “Way” remains the group’s only top 40 hit in the U.S., though their had five in the U.K. (with this single, surprisingly, a miss on that side of the pond.)

1988
“Perfect World”, Huey Lewis & The News (#2, August 26 – September 9)
They dominated the national charts in the 80’s with huge top ten singles over several album cycles, though it was Small World in 1988 that essentially marked a downturn in popularity for the California act. “World” remains their last top five single. The guys still play together, but not at the rate they did years ago.

2003
“Perfect”, Simple Plan (#4, December 19)
It may be one of the best album titles of the 00’s: No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls. Taken from it, this tune is still their highest-charting release at the format, and though the Canadian band hasn’t ranked on this particular survey in years, they’re continuing to crank out the jams ahead of a forthcoming studio set.

2010
“The Perfect Mistake”, Cartel (#39, June 10)
Two minor titles made the top 40 during 2010, with this single being one of them. It was the second of two songs to chart for the band from Georgia, who peaked with their previous albums. Though Will Pugh and the guys built up a sizable following, it never fully translated into the best radio play or sales numbers.

“Perfect Nightmare”, Shontelle (#38, October 17)
After a not-so-“Impossible” run up to the top ten that summer, this performer from Barbados couldn’t pull off the same trick, as her follow-up single barely edged into the top 40 at the format. She’s been absent from pop radio since the conclusion of her No Gravity era in 2011, though it appears she is still singing.

2011
“F**kin’ Perfect”, Pink (#1, March 20)
Two number-one singles from a hits compilation doesn’t happen too often nowadays, but this Pennsylvania singer did it in 2010 and 2011 with “Raise Your Glass” and this song. Her newest release is called “Today’s The Day”, and it was recently picked as the new theme song of daytime’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

2014
“She Looks So Perfect”, 5 Seconds Of Summer (#17, June 8)
Hey everybody, it wasn’t too long ago that this release was cruising up radio lists everywhere as the first major label single from the young and popular Aussie band. To date, it’s their only multi-Platinum hit in the U.S., but that can obviously change. Fans of the act have under a week until their newest album release.

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PROFILE: James Arthur’s Nearly “Impossible” Trek To America

He's got the hit Factor.

He’s got the hit Factor.

James Arthur‘s life has changed significantly in the past few months. The 25-year-old born in Middlesbrough, England was in and out of bands and projects for most of his teens before deciding to tryout for the U.K. version of The X Factor. He was picked up by mentor Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of Eden’s Crush and the Pussycat Dolls, and he won the competition, beating another member of Scherzinger’s team, Jahméne Douglas. This was back on December 9 of last year. It was only just the beginning.

As in any singing competition, Arthur had a winning single to record, which for that season of the show was a remake of Shontelle‘s “Impossible”, which made her a hit in the U.S. for a hot minute before disappearing off the radar. It just missed the top ten on the Hot 100, though it crept in there on the Singles Chart in the United Kingdom, so it was already recognizable to most people before this new cover came out. Arthur’s version of the song was made for download almost immediately after his win on the show. No surprise there. It shot straight to #1 in countries like Ireland and Scotland, and spent three non-consecutive weeks at #1 in the United Kingdom with first week sales of 490,000 copies. It has since become the largest-selling winner’s single in the history of the show, with download sales over 1.3 million copies in that country alone. “Impossible” is also currently a Platinum-certified hit in Australia, where it recently peaked at #2 on the ARIA Singles Chart. (It’s top 5 on iTunes there currently.) It’s been great for the franchise, but it’s also been great for the singer himself. He’ll be putting out a followup single in Europe in May, no title determined yet. However, he’s not quite done with his first smash… yet.

There are now signs that James Arthur‘s hit overseas may be impacting North America this summer. The song is already being pushed to adult contemporary radio in Canada. It’s been added to four stations in Montreal and one in Ottawa in the past few weeks. Weekly detections currently put it just below the top 50 on Canada’s AC format chart with about 40 spins in the past seven days. This is small compared to the dozens of other current songs that are played on radio there every week. However, it’s a start, and an important one at that. A lot of Canadian releases that originate from overseas tend to make their way into the United States at some point or another. What I’m saying is, prepare yourselves. We may have another round of “Impossible” playing on our airwaves here in the next few months.

Should he successfully make it over here, he would only be the third X Factor winner to break the American market. We had Leona Lewis several years ago of “Bleeding Love” fame, a number-one hit back in 2008, but she’s been long gone from our shores after her second album was a dud. We now have Little Mix‘s “Wings” at our CHR format and it’s picking up a bit of steam, so perhaps they’ll be able to go ever higher. These two are, of course, in addition to the many finalists from that show who have come the United States. Some became big, like Cher Lloyd, Olly Murs and One Direction. Others faltered, like JLS and Rebecca Ferguson. Point is, it can go either way with these kinds of artists, but with the hype he currently has from the U.K., I’m guessing his label thinks that he could do pretty well here. I agree.

While it’s odd to hear an already popular and commercial song switch perspectives from female to male, Arthur has a good take on the song. His raspy and rough vocal make it an emotional experience, which is dramatized just enough without being too sappy. The arrangement itself is also augmented into a pop/rock feel, which does well against Arthur’s more soulful tone. It’s not dated in any particular way, it’s just pleasant. There will likely better songs on his album, but Arthur does all he can with his version of the song to turn it into a full-fledged power ballad that is honest and pure to the core. With slower songs doing well at the moment, it’s best to strike when the iron’s hot, and James Arthur is still boiling at the moment. Hopefully that’s the one thing that will make this trip to America a little less “impossible” and a lot more plausible.

Buy the music video for “Impossible”. (U.S. only – only the video is available here.)

Who will be the next X Factor finalist or winner from the United Kingdom to make it across the pond? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Single Reviews