Tag Archives: Somebody That I Used To Know

PROFILE: Will Passenger “Go” On To The U.S.?

Driving his way around the world.

Driving his way around the world.

Seems like for at least the past few years, we’ve always had an international solo act that writes and sings their own material and dominates the charts with a breakup anthem that you just can’t escape. In 2011, it was Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep”. In 2012, it was Gotye‘s duet with Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Both sold bucket loads and won awards for their compositions, even if each act didn’t have the same level of success after their signature songs. While we have acts like Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sandé climbing the national surveys today, I’m inclined to think that there may be another act in the wings waiting to breakout and attain that same level of success. With that, let me introduce you to the singer and song that may do it: Passenger and his international hit, “Let Her Go”.

Passenger is a one-man band, 28-year-old British singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg. He started performing at age 16. Rosenberg previously fronted a band baring the same name that broke up in 2009, and he decided to carry the name with him as he began his solo career that same year. His first albums came and went with little notice, but it’s his third album, All The Little Lights, that seems to have everyone interested him. (It’s been out in the U.S. since late August of last year via Nettwerk Records.) A first single, “The Wrong Direction”, didn’t chart in any territory, but his second release, the aforementioned “Go”, became a major hit in Europe beginning in the summer of 2012. It’s already gone to #1 in Austria, Sweden and The Netherlands and now it’s securely at #1 on iTunes in Australia, which will likely take it to the top of the ARIA Singles Chart there. (UPDATE: It rose 23-2 in its second week on the chart, but is still #1 on iTunes.) In total, it’s charted in over a dozen countries so far, most within the top ten. His album has also been a top ten seller in countries like Germany and Ireland. He recently toured in Australia and New Zealand as the opening act for Ed Sheeran and is now on his own headlining tour in the same region. How fast those things seem to grow.

As for the song itself, it’s a really pretty one. It has a minimal arrangement, at times entirely a capella, but is still commercial sounding in its own way. What really drives the song is that Rosenberg has a really distinctive voice, one that would especially stand out here, but in a good sense. It sort of reminds me of a mix of Ben Howard and Paolo Nutini, both of whom have had some degree of success here. It’s one of those songs you just want to listen to if you’re feeling down and can’t shake the memories of an old flame. In fact, that’s reflected in the lyrics pretty elegantly: “You see her when you fall asleep/But never to touch and never to keep.” As the expression goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. You realize that you need some essential quality, but it doesn’t happen until after it’s gone. He can put it better than I can: “You only need the light when it’s burning low/Only miss the sun when it starts to snow/Only know you love her when you let her go.” It’s a song that can touch a lot of people, like “Rolling” and “Somebody” did during their respective years in the spotlights. Watch out for Passenger to fill that void at some point.

So, what happens from here? It may be that the sudden sales in Australia translates into Nettwerk promoting “Go” to both Canada and the United States later this spring. It could be longer. It’s currently being considered for only Triple A radio here, but that could easily be expanded. Regardless of what it happens, it will happen, and then maybe you’ll be tired of it by the 200th time you hear it on the radio. For now, it’s a fresh sound that may be the next to pop on the mainstream circuit. You may “let her go”, but don’t let this one do the same.

Download “Let Her Go” on iTunes. / Download All The Little Lights on iTunes.

Are you already enjoying Passenger’s music? Think he can break the U.S. market successfully? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

UPDATE: “Let Her Go” goes for adds at hot adult contemporary radio on April 29! Here’s to a great U.S. run for it.

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Easy Ryders: Crossing Over From Canada

There are two particular new releases that came to mind from two new acts from Ontario, Canada. I say new acts in the sense that they haven’t issued a radio release in the States before, but both have been around for a few years and are ready to take on the States. Can these artists from up north travel the same way on the charts? Bring it on! (Oh, and bring down some maple syrup, would ya?)

She's got a ticket to Ryde.

She’s got a ticket to Ryde.

SERENA RYDER – “Stompa”
Release Date: February 25 (AAA radio)

30-year-old Ryder hails from Toronto and has been recording for over a decade, but it’s been just within the past few years that she’s been putting out material to a larger audience thanks to her record deal with EMI’s Canada division. She first made Canada’s Singles Chart in 2007 with “Weak In The Knees”, the first release from If Your Memory Serves You Well, which was introduced to me by my friend Mike from The Max Online. It was more of a folk-driven song, but I liked it for a while, and it ended up peaking at #49 in her native country and went Gold, as did the album. (It never ended up making my personal chart.) Followup single “Calling To Say” did better, edging up to #40. 2008 brought her next album, Is It O.K., which also went Gold but didn’t place any singles really highly. I remember listening to “Little Bit Of Red”, the first single, for a few weeks before eventually tiring of it, and it peaked at a disappointing #82. I’m guessing that people thought that was it for her given her diminishing peaks, but she came roaring back in 2012 with a major hit in “Stompa”, which marked a significant change in style for the singer into a more rock-influenced sound. It worked; the song’s gone top ten in Canada and garnered her another Gold certification for both the song and parent album Harmony. With that success behind her, her U.S. label, Capitol Records, is ready to bring her into the United States and onto adult album alternative radio, where the song will be a perfect fit. It meets nicely in the middle between a Joan Jett & The Blackhearts record from the mid-80’s and Adele‘s soulful yet biting song that is 2011’s “Rumour Has It”. With lyrics about putting away your troubles and getting lost in the sound of the music, everyone should be able to like it. Look for the song to have quick ride (or ryde if we’re still going for puns) up the charts. I’m certainly rooting for it.

Don't Walk away from this one.

Don’t Walk away from this one.

WALK OFF THE EARTH – “Red Hands”
Release Date: March 18 (Hot AC radio)

Remember when Gotye and Kimbra‘s “Somebody That I Used To Know” blew up and a video went viral of a quintet singing along to the song while all of them played the guitar at the same time? Look no further than this group out of Burlington, who first got together in 2006 and recorded two independent albums together. When their cover video made them an internet sensation, they landed a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and got signed to Columbia Records, who picked up the song and distributed it digitally. It became a top-20 hit in Canada and went Platinum, though it didn’t out peak the original composition, of course. In terms of bigger projects, the label has thus far released a four song EP by the band called R.E.V.O. in October. A full-length album, also bearing the same name, will be out on March 19. At same time, the band has been continually putting up new videos of both original songs and cover versions of popular songs, like Taylor Swift‘s “I Knew You Were Trouble”, which was recognized by the artist last month. Their first song to be issued to radio here in the States is “Hands”, which has already been a minor entry in their native country. While not an acoustic track like most of the material they seem to be synonymous with, it should be a hit with those listeners who like fun., Jason Mraz and Michael Franti & Spearhead. It has the same sort of organic but full studio sound that those acts do well, with a heavy drum beat and sing along chorus. Although, given our sensitivity to gun control and shootings in the news lately, a line like “that gun is loaded/but it’s not in my hand” may be a little much for some people at radio at the current time. Otherwise, it’s a fun and playful tune that will get you clapping along this summer.

What do you think of these two songs? Are they hits in the making or will they not make the rankings? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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ADAM’S TOP 100 OF 2012 – #02 and #01 (Post 11 of 11)

So, by now, you know that I’ve been counting down my top 100 singles of 2012 for the past week and a half and we’re finally up to what you’ve been waiting for. These are the top two songs on my year-end chart based on my weekly top 40 charts. For yet another year, the top two songs have managed to accumulate over 1,000 points each (both are higher than last year’s top two), and neither one of them was the longest-running #1 song of the year. Still, they’re both classics in my book, both by newcomers with their first top-40 hit that peaked early on during the chart year and just stayed a while. They are the only two songs to spend thirty plus weeks on during this specific Dec. 2011-Nov. 2012 chart year.

There’s a reason I called this The Year Of The G. The letter G, that is. Three acts or performers, all with their first hit(s) and all beginning with the letter G, were in the top spot for sixteen out of the fifty-two weeks in the year. We’ve heard from Grouplove, who were at #10 with “Tongue Tied”, and two other acts who charted lower with their followup singles to the two records left in the countdown.

Let’s get to those two biggies.

Don't let him be the last to "Know".

Don’t let him be the last to “Know”.

002. GOTYE featuring KIMBRA – “Somebody That I Used To Know”
ALBUM: Making Mirrors // LABEL: Samples ‘n’ Seconds/Universal
PEAK: #1 for seven weeks // WEEKS ON: 33 // POINTS: 1,071
CHART RUN: 36-29-24-22-14-11-06-05-01010101010101-02-02-03-04-03-05-04-04-06-09-11-16-19-21-24-27-29-33-off

Belgian-born and Australian-raised Wally de Backer likely never expected a song of his to blow up like this. He showed a liking for music from an early age, playing in a band before beginning a solo career. The singer, who calls himself Gotye, had achieved some minor success on the Albums Chart in Australia and Belgium, as expected, but nothing of his managed to garner any high positions on the charts. That was, until this song came around. Originally intended to be recorded with a “high-profile female artist”, she dropped out at the last-minute and a suitable replacement was found in Kimbra, a New Zealand-based artist who was also a relative unknown in her homeland. It was a highly personal song about a relationship gone wrong, where personalities shifted to the point that each of the counterparts were strangers to one another. Upon impact, it stormed the Singles Chart in Australia, lasting eight weeks in the top spot there in August, September, and October 2011. The video was a huge selling point for the track, where both artists appeared as if they were painted into the wall, before Kimbra‘s paint disappeared, symbolic of the lover’s removal from the picture. Now, not every artist from Australia automatically becomes a superstar in the United States as well; in fact, an indie pop artist, as Gotye may classified as, would probably be the least likely candidate to get a full-fledged backing for a successful U.S. crossover. However, in the midst of Adelemania, we needed a male counterpart to balance out all the slower songs on the radio, and “Somebody” fit the role perfectly. As it began blowing up at Alternative radio, I knew that I had to get on it. On the chart for December 11, 2012, it entered into my Next In Line, and then debuted the following week, December 18, at the #36 position. Its run slowed from there, but it suddenly picked up the pace in January and on the chart of February 12, the song zoomed from 5-1, the second largest leap to the top of the year, and stayed there for seven weeks. After a long top ten stay of nineteen weeks that lasted into the early summer, and thirty-three in the top 40, it managed to fall out of the countdown in mid-August. Followup single “Eyes Wide Open” made it to #7 and was back at #40 on the year-end countdown. Both artists are almost certainly not going to repeat the success of this international smash ever again, but I’m sure they enjoyed the world watching their every move while it lasted.

Now, the most popular song of the year. May I present to you:

(Credit: ArtistApproach, Flickr)

Young hearts run “Free”.

001. GRAFFITI6 – “Free”
ALBUM: Colours // LABEL: N.W. Free/Capitol
PEAK: #1 for four weeks // WEEKS ON: 48 // POINTS: 1,290
CHART RUN: 39-35-32-29-21-14-10-06-02-02-01010101-02-02-04-04-04-05-05-05-06-09-10-10-10-11-15-15-18-18-21-23-21-21-16-14-14-17-17-22-22-22-27-29-29-34-off

This is the story of how one little song trumped the competition with a chart run of four weeks at #1, five months in the top ten, and nearly a year in the top 40. OK, but before I even try to dissect that massive line of numbers, a little background on the band and how I first heard the song that is now my top song of 2012.

 Lead singer Jamie Scott was always surrounded by music, whether it was listening to his parents’ collection of classic soul records, or performing in a duo during his college years. In his late teens, Scott sent out several demo tapes to record labels in the hopes that he could compose tracks for other performers, but the general response from these labels was that Scott himself should sing his own music. Sony Records signed him to a solo deal in 2002. His debut album, Soul Searching, was intended for a 2005 release, but was never issued commercially because of a label merger; it got lost in the shuffle. Two singles from the effort, “Just” and “Searching”, became minor top-40 entries in the United Kingdom in September 2004 and January 2005, respectively, and a third solo song, “Made”, can be found on the soundtrack to the movie Step Up. Scott signed to Polydor Records in 2006 and tried again with a band, Jamie Scott & The Town, but their only charting single was “When Will I See Your Face Again?”, which fell just short of the U.K. top 40 at #41 in September 2007. A followup, “Standing In The Rain”, as well as an album, Park Bench Theories, received little promotion and failed to chart.

Tommy Danvers, also known as TommyD, took a different route when it came to music. A multi-instrumentalist, he began on the DJ circuit at age 18, playing at local clubs and then going on to play with high-profile groups like Ministry Of Sound. He also collaborated in the group E-Zee Possee, who scored a U.K. top 20 hit in March 1990 with “Everything Starts With An ‘E'”, banned by BBC Radio 1 for its lyrical content relating to drug use. After a few other minor entries, Danvers went onto work with a new dance band on their debut album, who turned out to be Right Said Fred. Here in the States, they’re one of the biggest one-hit wonders, peaking at #1 on the Hot 100 in 1992 with “I’m Too Sexy”, but they scored several followup hits in the United Kingdom. Over the next decade and a half, Danvers engineered album tracks and remixes for several big artists, like Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue, though most of his success was achieved in Europe, with no proper U.S. breakthrough.

2008 came along and on the whim of an A&R executive, Scott agreed to meet with Danvers and the two hit it off. Scott intended the sessions to provide some fresh tracks for a solo release, but as he began writing and Danvers began mixing, it was clear that their music together was taking a different direction from what either of the two have done before. The first song they collaborated on turned out to be “Stare Into The Sun”, which was used in an advertisement campaign for The Sun newspaper. It spent three weeks at #1 on my chart this year and ended up at #7 on the year-end countdown. With their nostalgic sound established, the two produced an album in 2010 entitled Colours, which had limited success in a few European countries. Determined to break the States, they signed a deal with Capitol Records in the spring of 2011.

So, fast forward to September of the same year. I’m checking my usual music sites when I notice that a song by an artist that my friend Kurt liked was being sent to Adult Alternative radio in October, so this flawless topic was created by yours truly. Up to that point, I had only seen the video for “Annie You Save Me”, which I thought was alright, but I really enjoyed “Free”. It was a lighter track, but it was arranged really well, and featured a soaring vocal by Scott that I was really impressed with. I suppose it was sentiment of freedom that I really connected with since I was in my senior year of college and the real world was looming. It jumped straight into my Next In Line on the chart dated October 16, 2011 (a radio version of it was released the Tuesday before to iTunes) and debuted at #39 the next week, October 23. In December, it climbed into the top ten and on the chart dated New Year’s Day (January 1, 2012), “Free” became the new #1 on my chart, lasting for four weeks at the top. Colours was released in the U.S. several weeks after the song hit the top.

That should have been the end of the story, but the song just kept sticking around, thanks to the song’s release at Hot AC radio in late February. First, it was an additional eight weeks in the top 5, then thirteen weeks in the top ten, and eighteen in the top 20 before it finally looked like it was descending for good. Nope. With increased airplay at Hot AC radio and a CHR crossover coming, the song launched back into my top 20 for another five weeks, then slowly back down to the point where it fell off, but not until the middle of September, a very long chart run of 48 weeks, 32 of which (2/3 for you fraction fashionistas) were in the top 20. It goes down as the second-longest consecutive chart run in my personal chart’s history. Now, Graffiti6 joins the ranks of acts like Jason Mraz, Duran Duran, Leona Lewis, Lady Antebellum and Adele with a #1 song of the year. Congrats, guys! Best of luck with your new music coming out in 2013. We’ll see if the duo can pull off a year-end repeat. It’s never happened before.

That’s going to do it for this year’s end of the year countdown. Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed.

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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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