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Adam’s Top 100 of 2014: #07 – Neon Trees, “Sleeping With A Friend”

The cream of the pop!

The cream of the pop for 2014.

Another year is in the books and it’s time for the annual listing of the 100 biggest songs that ranked among my weekly top 40 chart from December 2013 to November 2014. It was magical year full of MAGIC! and “Magic” and a lovely twelve months of lovable hits from James Blunt and The Fray. We went “home” with A Great Big World and Andy Grammer, spun around in a “dance” with Milky Chance and Walk The Moon and ended up here with all that was awesome in the year we called 2014.

Peak positions listed are as of the last chart included in the year dated November 30, 2014. Those entries marked with a plus sign (+) had not yet reached their peak position as of the date. Ties in points were broken based on peak, number of weeks at peak and number of weeks in the top 40.

Were you "Sleeping" on this one?

Were you “Sleeping” on this one?

007. NEON TREES, “Sleeping With A Friend” (715 points)
Writers: Tyler Glenn, Tim Pagnotta / Producer: Pagnotta
Label: Island/Republic

Debut Date: January 12, 2014
Peak Date: March 2 to April 6, 2014
Peak: #1 for six weeks
Weeks on Chart: 26

After ruling my chart for four weeks in 2010 with “Animal”, the Utah quartet led by Tyler Glenn cooled off a bit as their next four singles, two from 2010’s Habits and the two from 2012’s Picture Show, all failed to break into my top ten. By the fall of 2013, things came to a halt once again when Glenn posted a frustrated social media rant regarding the executives responsible for the group’s artist development deal. It could’ve been pretty ugly. Luckily, they came back with a pretty great song, a tune that took them to the top for the second time.

“Sleeping” was an instant impact record on the countdown when it debuted at #39 during the second week of January, hitting #1 in its eighth week on the chart. Though it logged six weeks at the top, two weeks more than the run for “Animal”, it quickly fell and lacked in the longevity department. However, at 26 weeks, it did manage to spend half a year on the survey. Its chart peaks nationally in both the U.S. and Canada were not as notable, though it did rank on five distinct radio format lists.

Though the Pop Psychology era was derailed over the summer by a last-minute single change (“Love In The 21st Century” to “Text Me In The Morning”, which ultimately bombed) and a lightly promoted third single, “First Things First”, the Trees still grew their roots and their audience in the States. The album did go top ten upon its debut. The new year may not be the most active one for the band on the charts, but I’m sure that neon will be glowing even brighter soon.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Neon Trees – Pop Psychology

Catching ZZZ's and the #1 spot.

Pop goes the album (and the charts.)

Almost six years ago, the Utah band Neon Trees signed to Mercury Records, beginning their trek onto the pop charts with smashes like “Animal”, “Everybody Talks” and their latest radio cut (and former #1 on my personal chart) “Sleeping With A Friend”. The quartet, consisting of Chris Allen, Elaine Bradley, Branden Campbell and Tyler Glenn, have been a favorite of mine since their major label debut; they also played Spring Weekend during my junior year of college in 2011. Firmly rooted in the golden age of new wave and dance, our masters students in music are now teaching a course in Pop Psychology, their third full-length album, out on Tuesday.

Of course, the group’s promoted their latest release through live appearances and such, but several moves on lead singer Glenn’s part have kept their name in the press, including a now deleted rant last October in which he called out members of the band’s management and his recent coming out last month to magazine Rolling Stone. How much these actions will affect the debut week sales of Pop Psychology (which has a good chance of debuting in the top ten regardless thanks to a low sales threshold) has yet to be fully determined. Luckily, the album itself is pretty solid. I think I’ll let the music speak for itself, as we take a ride into the electronic sonic atmosphere of Neon Trees‘s latest effort.

Highlights of the set include the pulsating pop opener “Love In The 21st Century”, which sets the mood with its portrayal of “broken heart technology”, a future concept of love that’s become material rather than physical. (This is also followed by the even more technologically savvy “Text Me In The Morning”, a 90’s Alternative-inspired ode to cellular crushes.) “Century” could lend itself well as a good followup to the aforementioned “Friend”, as well as fourth track “Teenager In Love”. With a power pop meets early 80’s rock vibe, much like a Greg Kihn or Tom Petty record, the glossy number takes a more negative outlook on the protagonist’s world: “He’s a teenager in love/What a tragic attraction/What’s the point of romance?” While not necessarily the darkest moment on here, it does seem to put a damper on things.

Other inspired tracks include the Depeche Mode flavor of “Unavoidable”, featuring a shared lead vocal by Bradley and Glenn. The lyrical content is oversimplified to an extent (“You are the magnet/I am metallic/So do what you do to me”) but overall, it does pop in the lineup. Next to it is the more mysterious “Voices In The Hall”, a song that wouldn’t sound out-of-place mashed with Alphaville‘s “Forever Young”. The synth-driven melody mixed with the recollections from a relationship long departed ends far too soon; it’s a more minimalist side to the band that isn’t really heard elsewhere on the album, and certainly would’ve benefitted from other vulnerable moments like this.

Although Pop Psychology is full of fun sounds and playful lyrics, the biggest downside to it all is that unlike some of the experiences in love detailed on here, the album suffers from material which isn’t so remarkable outside of the first listen. Now, this isn’t to say that the quartet plays it safe. They do have a comfortable zone musically, but they go outside it and generally have no huge issues. Unfortunately, songs like “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)” and “Foolish Behavior”, though worthy of being heard in the first place, are just not the most memorable pieces. They blend in quite easily to the Alternative musical movement at hand. Single “Sleeping With A Friend”, a lovable jam when it comes to my tastes, is also a victim of the same fate, struggling to break the top ten at the radio format. Does this mean the saturation point is near for 80’s pop on the airwaves? It could be. I hope it isn’t, but it isn’t helping these guys on a national level.

At this time, both Habits and Picture Show rank as stronger records for me, but this new album from Neon Trees could always be a grower. The concept of it is loud and clear: passion and romance have their ups and downs, as judged by the sequencing on here, but all in all, it’s a matter of taking care of yourself and finding “what you deserve”, as Glenn sings on “First Things First”. However, as far as “choosing where to go” in this album’s run on the charts, it’s only a matter of time before this follows a path similar to the first few eras. All is fair in love and worn out.

(Pre-order and stream Neon Trees’s Pop Psychology, due in stores on April 22)

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SINGLE PREMIERE: Neon Trees – “Sleeping With A Friend” (+ Lyrics)

Don't sleep on this hot single.

Don’t sleep on this hot single.

Utah electro-rockers Neon Trees are back with the first single from their third major-label studio album due April 22, Pop Psychology, and that is “Sleeping With A Friend”. The slick, INXS-influenced single (think “Original Sin”) runs 3:40 in length for the radio cut, and is sure to be an easy sell for both Alternative and Hot AC radio.

(Listen to “Sleeping With A Friend” — Download “Sleeping With A Friend on iTunes)

“SLEEPING WITH A FRIEND”

[Verse 1]
All my friends, they’re different people
Anxious like the ocean in a storm
When we go out, yeah, we’re electric
Coursing through our bodies ’til we’re one

[Bridge 1]
And why mess up a good thing, baby?
It’s a risk to even fall in love
So, when you give that look to me
I better look back carefully
‘Cause this is trouble, yeah this is trouble

[Chorus]
I said ooh, ooh
You got me in the mood, mood
I’m scared
But if my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend, sleeping with a friend

[Verse 2]
All my friends, stay up past midnight
Looking for the thing to fill the void
I don’t go out much like I used to
Something ’bout the strangers and the noise

[Bridge 2]
And why leave when I got you, baby?
It’s a risk but babe, I need the thrill
I never said you’d be easy
But if it was all up to me
It’d be no trouble, hell, we’re in trouble

[Chorus]
I said ooh, ooh
You got me in the mood, mood
I’m scared
But if my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend, sleeping with a friend

[Middle 8]
We are both young, hot-blooded people
We don’t wanna die alone
Two become one, it could be lethal
Sleeping with a friend

All my friends (x4)

[Chorus]
I said ooh, ooh
You got me in the mood, mood
I’m scared
But if my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend

[End]
(All my friends) Sleeping with a friend
(All my friends)
If my heart’s gonna break before the night will end
I said, ooh, ooh we’re in danger
Sleeping with a friend

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