Thursday, March 31, 2011

Album Reviews

The Strokes - Angles (4/5). Is This It? The much acclaimed debut album from American rock band The Strokes represents an extraordinary height of '70s influenced new-wave rock revival that would take more than a re-hash of sound to reach again. Their charm has always been simplicity and their minimalist approach to rock, which they demonstrate nicely on Angles, the bands fourth album--almost recapturing the same rock simplicity that made It? such a winning set, but not entirely. The incomplex guitar melodies and assisting drum-lined undercut of lead single "Under Cover of Darkness," "Gratisfaction" and "Taken for a Fool" do tread the same waters as their early work, however where the album gets a little more interesting is its more experimental moments, such as the empirical rock of "You're So Right" layered guitaric undertones, prominent synth-beats beneath a wall of electronic-coated vocal mumblings. Very Radiohead. "Metabolism" is a little darker, sueging into the dramatic chimerical rock of Muse. The downbeat rock of "Games" takes a detour from The Strokes signature guitar melodies and drum sound--attaining a laid-back, spacey-synths, kinetic handclaps and fluorescent keyboards induced sound. Another highlight is the dejected tempo of "Call Me Back" which has a great simplistic vocal, guitars and delicate soundscape matching. Angles is a satisfying mix of their signiture sound as well an expansion of that, so it's good but not Is This It? good--It's there Hail to the Theif if you will. Best: Under Cover of Darkness, You're So Right, Metabolism, Games, Call Me Back, Taken for a Fool, Gratisfaction

The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From the Vaccines? (3.5/5). So what did I expect from the Vaccines? Well, from the fun, light tuneful rock of "Post Break-Up Sex" I wasn't expecting anything particularly new within the confines of that standard post-punk rock sound and the debut album from the British band doesn't try to establish any new ground--in fact the sound they pursue has been driven into the ground by just about every other British rockers you can name, but that's fine--while it becomes tiresome for some, I quite enjoy it--there's quite a few belters on here, including the short, but high-energy rock of opening track "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)" and the layered guitar-melodies of following track "If You Wanna," however my biggest gripe with the album is how obnoxiously short some of the songs are ("Wreckin' Bar" and "Nørgaard" another high-energy number, are just over 60 seconds long) almost as if they were trying to re-create Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, the debut album from alternative rock band Arctic Monkeys. While I do enjoy the sound, they could have branched out a bit and explored different sounds instead of sticking to the same formula--even just a little bit. However, even with that the album has a handful of great tracks. Best: Post-Break Up Sex, Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra), If You Wanna, Nørgaard, A Lack of Understanding, Wolf Pack

Personal Airplay, 31st March, 2011

TW LW Title - Artist
1.... (2).... The Whilhem Scream - James Blake (1 week @ #1)
2... (10)... Neat Little Rows - Elbow
3.... (1).... Someone Like You - Adele (1 wk @ 1)
4... (13)... Undercover of Darkness - The Strokes
5.... (8).... Rocketeer - Far East Movement
6... (15)... Tighten Up - The Black Keys
7.... (3).... Born This Way - Lady Gaga (1 wk @ #1)
8.... (4).... Till the World Ends - Britney Spears
9... (14)... This is Why We Fight - The Decemberists
10.. (6).... Don't Hold Your Breath - Nicole Scherzinger

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Album Reviews

Jessie J - Who You Are (3.5/5). British pop's latest newcomer Jessie J deliverers her much-anticipated debut album, Who You Are, following her triumph on the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll and the release of her boisterous, electro-guitar studded, slang-drenched lead single "Do it Like a Dude," which should have been an indication to the rugged, unyielding pop I thought Jessie would pursue on here--then came the more laid back, Caribbean flavored "Price Tag" which threw that notion out of the window, and suggested that this would be more of a mixed bag of various different approaches to pop--which is exactly what it is. You have the drum-heavy, melody-strung, mid-2000s R&B of "Abracadabra," the sweet soulful balladry of "Casualty of Love," the beat-driven hip-hop influenced sounds of "Rainbow" and "Who's Laughing Now." The old-fashioned, high-octane, horn-showcasing "Mama Knows Best" reminds me a lot of something Christina Aguilera would do--Jessie's vocal acrobatics on here, definitely re-calls that of Aguilera's. Then of course you have the obligatory piano, strings and drums ("I Need This") or piano, strings and guitars ("Who You Are") ballads. Often cited as the UK's answer to Lady Gaga--on here Jessie J sounds more a mix between Natasha Bedingfield and Pixie Lott--only yet to discover a distinctive sound of her own, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, that's what the second albums for. Best: Do it Like a Dude, Price Tag, Casualty of Love, Mama Knows Best, Rainbow, I Need This, Nobody's Perfect.

Nicole Scherzinger - Killer Love (3/5). Following several failed attepts to launch a solo career away from the Pussycat Dolls, It seems Nicole Scherzinger has finally found a sound that works for her, unlike the diffusing guitar-pop of "Baby Love," Scherzinger re-launched her career with the high-energy pop of "Poison" following it up with the just as bold "Don't Hold Your Breath." However, similar to Jessie J, Scherzinger's debut doesn't seem to have a distinctive direction of sound, also making it sound like a mixed bag of different sounds--almost like throwing muck (or sounds) at the wall to see how much of it sticks, but when she's on point, it really works, such as the high-powered pop of title track "Killer Love," the pulsating, synth-driven pop of "Wet" and the aptly titled "Club Banger Nation." Scherzinger also shows that subtlety is one of her strengths too, particularly on the impassioned, guitar-backed mid-tempo "Desperate" and the rather dramatic piano balladry of "AmenJena." But where the banal light R&B of "You Will Be Loved" and plodding collaboration with Sting on "Power's Out" are concerned--they just lead a string of duds wedged in between the albums biggest highlights. Best: Don't Hold Your Breath, Poison, Killer Love, Wet, Desperate

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fugees - The Score (1996)

I should be giving close listens to the Vaccines, Strokes and a couple other new releases to write up reviews for, however I've been self-diagnosed with a little '90s hip-hop fever this week. Digging through my music collection, re-listening to albums that I'd neglected for awhile, such as Common's Resurrection, Nas' Illmatic, De La Soul's 3 Feet and Rising (an '80s set, but whatever) and of course the obligatory landmarks, 2Pac's All Eyez on Me, BIG's Ready to Die and Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt.

But what record have I been listening to most? The Fugees second and final album The Score, home of signature numbers "Killing Me Softly" and "Ready or Not" and top 40 hits "Fu-Gee-La" and "No Woman, No Cry." Being a '90s baby, my fascination with this album worked in reverse--Indulging in the bewitching poetic hip-hop/R&B of Lauryn Hill's Miseducation before exploring its origins, which I guess originates from here, The Score. From the laid-back delivery, the smooth conscience beats and intelligent lyrical affirmations, the album works on a lot of levels, particularly it's embedded skits highlighting its dramatic cinematic feel.

Yes, it's main highlight's are the singles and the tracks with Hill singing the hooks. But surprisingly, listening to this again and being a little more open minded, the dark, downbeat, chilling rap of opening track "How Many Mics" sounds a lot more appealing than it did before. Currently, my most played song of the week--according to Last.Fm and even more surprisingly, Hill and Wyclef Jean verses are not the highlights, but arguably the lessor known of the trio, Pras Michel's closing verse, showcasing flow that would make the Atlantic jealous. Also, it's funny listening to this now and hearing Jean say: "never tango with Haitian-Sicilians," considering he got shot in the hand by a Haitian recently. Check the song below:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Personal Airplay, March 24, 2011

TW LW Title - Artist
1.... (2).... Someone Like You - Adele (1 week @ #1)
2.... (5).... The Whilhem Scream - James Blake
3.... (1).... Born This Way - Lady Gaga (1 wk @ #1)
4.... (4).... Till the World Ends - Britney Spears
5.... (3).... Price Tag - Jessie J feat. B.o.B. (3 wks @ #1)
6... (19)... Don't Hold Your Breath - Nicole Scherzinger
7.... (9).... More - Usher
8.... (8).... Rocketeer - Far East Movement
9.... (6).... Heart On My Sleeve - Olly Murs
10.. (13).. Neat Little Rows - Elbow

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rihanna "California King Bed"

The fourth single released from Barbadian singer Rihanna's latest album Loud, is "California King Bed." Awesome choice! It's a great guitar-driven pop ballad in the same vein as "Fire Bomb" a similar song from the last labum Rated R which unfortunately didn't make it as a single.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Previewing Vaccines and Strokes

I've been looking forward to British inide rock band The Vaccines for a while now. Lead single "Post Break-Up Sex" was great and from I'm hearing so far, the album definitely doesn't disappoint. Like I pointed out before, their sound is definitely reminiscent of a watered down Strokes. Opening track "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)" is less hook-laden than "Sex" demonstrating their love of layered muffled-guitar driven rock.

Conveniently, American rock band The Strokes' fourth album Angles, is another album I've been looking forward to. I haven't heard this one yet, however early reviews for it indicate to another winner for the band. Rolling Stone awarded the record 4 stars, calling it "10 songs built mostly from basic rock-combo parts, charged and scarred with an exacting attention to musically and romantically turbulent detail."

Spin give the album 8 out of 10 stars, calling the band "a group of reunited rock stars somehow come on like wide-eyed kids." My reviews on both albums will be up soon.

Billboard Hot 100, March 26, 2011

1. Born this Way - Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga spends a fifth week at #1 with "Born This Way," making it the longest consecutive run at #1 since Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" featuring Rihanna, which spend 7 weeks at the pinnacle August, last year. While it's still #1, "Born" loses its bullet this week--droping considerably in sales but still gaining quite solidly in airplay, currently being blocked from #1 on top 40 radio by P!nk's "Fuckin' Perfect."

3. E.T. - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West

Pop singer Katy Perry climbs 5 spots up to #3 with "E.T." featuring Kanye West, making it the fourth consecutive top 5 from Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. Surely, this is going to be another #1 for the singer, which would make Perry the first artist in 8 years to land 4 consecutive #1's.

4. S&M - Rihanna
5. On the Floor - Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull

Rihanna's "S&M" falls a spot down to #4, however is still this weeks airplay gainer, while Jennifer Lopez stays bulleted at #5 with "On the Floor" featuring Pitbull.

9. Till the World Ends - Britney Spears

After it's first whole week of sales, Britney's new single "Till the World Ends" climbs 11 spots up to #9, scoring her 10th top 10 hit. While it seemed to have slowed down on sales, it's gaining quite considerably on top 40 radio.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nicole Scherzinger "Don't Hold Your Breath"

Like the rest of the UK, I'm in love with the new Nicole Scherzinger single "Don't Hold Your Hold Breath," an awesome beat and synth diven uplifting pop number in the same vein as last single "Poison." It's looking to unseat Adele at the top of the UK singles chart this week. Go Schezza!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Album Review: Britney Spears - Femme Fatale (4/5)

Britney's last album, Circus, saw the pop singer re-establish a presence at the top of the charts; appropriately landing her first #1 single in 9 years (“Womanizer”)—since then, Spears has embarked on a successful world tour and landed two more #1's (“3” and recently “Hold it Against Me”) and now returns with her highly-anticipated seventh album, Femme Fatale; weaning together the enthralling pop of 2003's genre-hopping In the Zone and the thrilling electro-pop of 2007's acclaimed Blackout, plus its own engrossing edge—possibly amongst her best work.

Where Circus sounded a little bland, Femme Fatale ups the production anti—with executive producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin showcasing a solid body of hard-hitting dance numbers, just as striking mid-tempos and doesn't shy away from the more experimental either. The albums opens strong with singles “Till the World Ends” a charging slice of Kesha co-written anthemic pop, followed swiftly by “Hold it Against Me,” drenched with pounding bass lines and heavy underlining sawing club-ready beats—all just a build up to its numbing metallic dub-step breakdown.

It's a great opening to the album, however the real dirty-minded fun begins with third track “Inside Out,” a churning electro-R&B number—undercut with clobbering beats and warbling rigid bleepy electronic undertones—depicting a relationship on the brink of destruction, however gross, animalistic sex that involves turning Spears “inside out” is its saviour. Following is the frothy dance-pop of “I Wanna Go;” choppy vocal effects and penetrating synths, exuding the same joyous aura as Kylie Minogue's “Get Outta My Way” only, I think this is about masturbation (“I wanna show all the dirt, I got running through my mind”)--it makes sense, didn't she just go through a break up on the last track?

Next up is the downbeat “How I Roll,” probably the weirdest song on here, mainly down its layered skeletal production—prominent kinetic handclaps beneath the collage of popping bass, bursts of piano chords and synths—still very clubby—it's unorthodox production and laid back mentality did remind me a little of the more experimental moments on In the Zone and “Freakshow” from Blackout. Urban-tinged “(Dop Dead) Beautiful” is another winner; 808's and great swaggering beats. It features new female rapper Sabi—who's rap really didn't really need to be on here.

Will.I.Am lends his producing talents on “Big Fat Bass” the longest song on here and the most unorthodox—firstly, because it's called “Big Fat Bass” (not even “Big Phat Bass”) and the bass isn't particularly fat, despite both Britney and Will's claims of (“it's getting bigger, the bass is getting bigger”), but in spite of this, along with “Roll,” is the most invigorating a Britney track has sounded in awhile—the production on here is flawless—layered soundcapes, synths, pounding bass lines and piano chords and then heavier frantic beats towards its mid-section.

Downbeat “Trip to Your Heart,” is appropriately trancey; distorted vocal, clubby beats beneath a spacey dream-like overtone. It's a sound that's been done the last two albums, in the form of “Unusual You” on Circus and “Heaven on Earth” on Blackout—however still feels at home on here. Guitar-strung “Gasoline” sounds like a little like “Lace and Leather”—it's pretty good—she sounds way more engaged on here. There are moments where things become a little generic, such as the retro-sounding pop of “Seal it with a Kiss,” it dissolves into a dub-step breakdown, only not as captivating as “Hold it Against Me,” and the chorus doesn't hit that hard either. “Trouble for Me” isn't bad—but not a highlight.

Where Circus ended on a sour note on the trite dedication to her kids (“My Baby”), Femme Fatale closes on a particularly strong note with “Criminal;” guitar-backed and distinctive bass lines beneath its guitaric front. It's very Madonna, circa American Life, 2003. While Femme Fatale definitely sounds like one of Britney's strongest album so far—a solid body of dance-pop—the question of how much she was actually involved in making it keeps cropping up. I think, this is her first album not to have any writing credits since her debut. To that I say: it's a flawed argument—how much involvement do today's popular female pop singers have in their work? Rihanna had no writing credits on Loud, why should Britney be penalized? No-one looks back and discredits Elvis Presley for not writing the majority his own material.

Best: I Wanna Go, Inside Out, Hold it Against Me, How I Roll, (Drop Dead) Beautiful, Criminal, Trip to Your Heart

Personal Airplay, March 17, 2011

TW LW Title - Artist
1.... (2).... Born This Way - Lady Gaga (1 week @ #1)
2.... (3).... Someone Like You - Adele
3.... (1).... Price Tag - Jessie J (2 wks @ #1)
4.... (6).... Till The World Ends - Britney Spears
5.... (7).... The Whilhem Scream - James Blake
6.... (8).... Heart On My Sleeve - Olly Murs
7.... (4).... Good Girl - Alexis Jordan
8.... (5).... Rocketeer - Far East Movement
9... (11)... More - Usher
10... (9)... S&M - Rihanna

Monday, March 14, 2011

Singles Reviews

Til the World Ends - Britney Spears (4/5). Britney's new single is a nice slice of fun Kesha co-written dance-pop in the same vein as Kesha's own hits "TiK ToK" and "Blow"--It's definitely catchy, however I don't think it's as commanding as "Hold it Against Me." And while it's been under performing in certain territories, particularly the UK (debuting at #21 this week), I'm still convinced it'll be a big hit soon enough.

E.T. - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West (4/5). I didn't like Teenage Dream much and apart from the 3 singles prior, I was convinced Katy Perry wouldn't be able to pull out anymore hits from it but oh! how wrong I was. #1 on iTunes right now is it's 4th single--this slightly dark, beat-heavy number lined with electronic undertones and an awesome pouncing chorus. I distinctively remember not liking this at all upon the first couple listens, but I think there's something about an album track transforming into a single that just makes it likable.

Super Bass - Nicki Minaj (4/5). Rapper Nicki Minaj has been quite consistent with her single releases. I thought "Your Love" was okay and loved "Right Thru Me" and "Moment 4 Life," however this new release is her best yet; skittering drums, clobbering beats with a spacey-pop undertone and punchy chorus. This was originally a bonus track on Pink Friday and has been covered by Seleena Gomez and Taylor Swift--which might indicate as to why it was chosen a single, after all it did reach #68 on iTunes following their renditions.

Heart On My Sleeve - Olly Murs (3.5/5). Pop singer Olly Murs steps back from the jaunty pop of his previous 2 singles for the more grand Robbie Williams/Take That inspired balladry of "Heart On My Sleeve." It's not that really that great but not too bad either.

Yeah Yeah - Cheryl Cole feat. Travie McCoy (2.5/5). It feels like it's been quite some time since we heard from UK sweetheart Cheryl Cole, I didn't think we'd even get a 3rd single from Messy Little Raindrops following the under performance of 2nd single "The Flood," but here we are with the more upbeat, frothy but distinctively flimsy piece of dance-pop.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Album Review: Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys! (4.5/5)

British alternative rock band Elbow's last album The Seldom Seen Kid was an undeniable breakthrough for the band—winning the 2008 Mercury Music Prize, becoming one of the most acclaimed rock albums of the year, with critics applauding the record for its bracing balance of the early dispirited rock of Radiohead and the more pop-friendly rock of Coldplay.

So how does this fifth album, Build a Rocket Boys! follow up? Well, similarly to the new Radiohead album The King of Limbs, which I said was “an extension of their highly-regarded moody, electronic coated, atmospheric musical experimentation,” this album definitely capitalizes on the layered, grand atmospheric rock of The Seldom Seen Kid—perhaps working even better on here. “The Birds” is a downbeat 8-minute opener. It's quite layered in its production; clattering beats beneath the sheet of muffled guitar chords and pacing drums, progressively diffusing into the oncoming discharge of orchestration, buzzing electronic undertones and piano keys.

“Lippy Kids” highlights a distinct sensitivity in Guy Garvey's throaty vocal—laced with poignant piano keys, with leisurely emerging soft guitar patterns towards its middle. Immersed with caressing melodies and mellifluous whistles that contributes to the song's melancholic core. It's a clear standout—It's also responsible for the albums title. “With Love” which isn't so subtle—engaging in a more voiceferous production—heavy choir endorsed vocals and championed with, what I think is, decelerating harp strings and kinetic handclaps. It's exciting, but it's not a highlight. Better is “Neat Little Rows” which discharges a rawer rock edge—abrasive guitars which sound suffocated beneath the obnoxious echoing clanging of piano chords and the layer of distortion on the chorus.

“Jesus is a Rochdale Girl” quickly reigns in the rock induced theatrics for a more rootsy, prominent guitar-fiddling, minimalist approach. I like the random bursts of keyboards throughout the song, highlighting the subtlety of the song. “The Night Will Always Win,” sounds slightly gothic—Garvey's vocal are boisterous and brawling, effectively contrasting the rather minimal production behind it; plodding keyboards and hollowing soundscapes. More interesting is “High Ideals” which sounds more fulfilled in its production—layers of rollicking horns, heavy orchestratic strings, engaging atmospherics and an aberrant tribal drum beats and clicking, which sounds a little unorthodox for the band. “The River” is a grand piano backed ballad, with a manifesting backdrop. It's a little melancholic too—which now seems like an obvious theme running through this album.

Thankfully, the album doesn't falter towards the album, which is what I expected. “Open Arms” (which is not a Journey cover) has a great anthemic theme, a very crowd-embracing number with a big, blusterous, chant-like chorus backed with prominent, heavily-strummed acoustic guitars. Ending on a more subtle note is “Dear Friends” a breezy guitar-driven number with that distinctive countryside accommodating sound. I can already imagine taking a bus ride to Parliament Hill Fields as the trees casually cruise by, while listening to this on-repeat on my iPod.

There's a lot I like about Rocket, but in particular I think it works best on its more subtle moments, where it's just vocal, subtle instrumentation and sweet atmospherics. However, where the rock gets harder and more assertive is great too—the balance between the delicate and sonorous sounds is awesome on here and possible way more compelling than The Seldom Seen Kid and to answer my opening question, follows it up very well.

Best: Lippy Kids, Neat Little Arrows, Jesus is a Rochdale Girl, High Ideals, The River, Dear Friends, Open Arms

Preview Britney's Femme Fatale

Myspace have the new Britney album, Femme Fatale up. It sounds great! Very upbeat and clubby backed with some great beats--way more assertive than Circus. I think the frothy dance-pop of "I Wanna Go" and the churning electro-R&B of "Inside Out" are my favorites so far. My review will be up sometime next week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Album Review: Bright Eyes - The People's Key (4/5)

American indie rock band Bright Eyes have been around for quite a while, however this seventh album, The People's Key, is my first exposure to them. Their sound is very refined melodic alternative rock with fluorescent pop-studded undertones. It's a little hard to compare, but they remind me of a stripped down, more rootsy Editors or an unconventional Killers—it's a bit of a misguided comparison, since they were established way before those bands existed.

Opening number “Firewall” suggests that this album is more than just a solid rock album—opening with a lengthy narrative that dictates religious and spiritual progression, presenting an argument between good and evil, name-dropping famous historic figures such as Albert Einstein, Satan and Adolf Hitler. The speech is beamed with layers of disquieting soundscape and hollowing textures which segues into its second half, where the singing begins—Conor Oberst's bold, but effectively raspy vocal over lumbering guitar chords, before the moody backdrop and rapid drum beats become stronger for its climatic play out.

Whereas “Firewall” ends on a doleful note, following tracks “Shell Games” and “Jejune Stars” delivers a nice slice of fun upbeat rock, with a fresh pop edge drenched with melody; layered electronic guitars, piano keys, drums and '80s inspired synths. Looking at the band's history, they've never seemed too keen on breaking into the mainstream, however this sounds distinctively radio-friendly.

Reigning in the upbeat, the moody textures resurfaces on “Approximate Sunlight,” a little darker and stripped-down; a murky drub of plodding drums and haunting, rayless guitar chords. It's brilliant—highlighting the lurking depressing mood both musically and lyrically (“Such opulence, such misery. Unwinding, unwinding”). Similarly, emotional piano-laced “Ladder Song” captures that mood quite nicely too, perhaps on a more sensitive note.

“A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)” recalls slightly a galloping, guitar-driven western-styled rock—very stripped-down, cutting from the same vein as “Sunlight” with less moody atmospherics. On the albums weaker second half, distorted guitars and pounding, layered drum work take the forefront on “Haile Selassie,” bleeding with piercing electronic undertones—it's not that interesting “Triple Spiral” is a return to the upbeat indie rock, in the same vein as “Shell Games” whereas “Beginner's Mind” also recaptures that melodic upbeat rock, but more guitar-driven.

The album comes to a close with “One for You, One for Me” which surprisingly sports a spacey, warbling synth-induced backdrop working well against its guitaric front. It's bookended by another extensive narrative speech. The People's Key was a nice find—it's great to hear something out of the ordinary once in awhile and for me out of the ordinary is anything that isn't produced by Dr. Luke, RedOne or JR. It's a strong alternative rock album, with some pop influences, how I like it—there could be a little more variety but in all a good record. It's a shame it's their last though.

Best: Approximate Sunlight, Shell Games, Jejune Stars, One for You, One for Me, Firewall, The Ladder Song

Billboard Hot 100, March 19, 2011

1. Born this Way - Lady Gaga

It's a 4th week at #1 for Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," becoming the first song to debut at #1 and remain there for 4 weeks since American rock band Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," which also spent 4 weeks at #1 in 1998. Only 4 other #1-debuting songs have pushed passed the 4 week mark: Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" (8 weeks) and "One Sweet Day" with Boyz II Men (16 weeks), P Diddy and Faith Evans' "I'll Be Missing You" (11 weeks) and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (14 weeks). Billboard note that "Born" is the only song to achieve this feat in the digital era.

2. Fuck You! (Forget You!) - Cee Lo Green
3. S&M - Rihanna

Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You!" is this weeks airplay gainer, remaining bulleted at #2. Barbadian singer Rihanna climbs 2 spots up to #3 with "S&M," scoring itself a new peak as well as scoring her 10th top 3 single.

5. On the Floor - Jennifer Lopez (feat. Pitbull)

Thing keep getting better for this years comeback kid, Jennifer Lopez. "One the Floor," which debuted at #9 last week, climbs 4 spots up to #5 this week, landing the singer her first solo top 5 since 2003's "All I Have" with LL Cool J. Admittedly it's airplay isn't that great yet, however "Floor" has been #1 on iTunes for almost a week now (holding off Lady Gaga and Britney Spears in the process), could this be her first #1 in God know how long? It's also this weeks digital gainer, selling 221k in downloads.

7. Blow - Kesha

Auto-tuned pop scarlet Kesha climbs 4 spots up to #7, scoring her 6th top 10 single (out of 6 singles) with "Blow."

13. Moment 4 Life - Nicki Minaj feat. Drake

Rapper Nicki Minaj edges closer to the top 10 with "Moment 4 Life" featuring Drake. It out-peaked her highest single thus far "Your Love," this week, which peaked at #14 last year. I hope this will be a top 10 for the rapper--It's long overdue.

20. Till the World Ends - Britney Spears

Following its three days of release, pop singer Britney Spears debuts at #20 with "Till the World Ends" the second single lifted from her forthcoming 7th LP Femme Fatale, selling 117k. Billboard note that this is Spears' 5th highest debut on the chart, but I can only count 4, with the others being "Circus," "3" and "Hold it Against Me" which all debuted in the top 3. What's the other one?

38. Just Can't Get Enough - Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas score their 14th top 40 single with "Just Can't Get Enough" climbing 28 spots up to #38 this week.

Personal Airplay, March 10, 2011

TW LW Title - Artist
1.... (1).... Price Tag - Jessie J feat. B.o.B. (3 weeks @ #1)
2.... (3).... Born This Way - Lady Gaga
3.... (2).... Someone Like You - Adele
4.... (5).... Good Girl - Alexis Jordan
5.... (6).... Rocketeer - Far East Movement
6 NEW> Till the World Ends - Britney Spears
7.... (36)... The Whilhem Scream - James Blake
8.... (14)... Heart On My Sleeve - Olly Murs
9.... (7).... S&M - Rihanna
10.. (4).... Hold it Against Me - Britney Spears

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Album Reviews

Chase & Status - No More Idols (4/5). British electronic/dance/dub-step duo Chase & Status release their first full length album, No More Idols, a collection of hard-hitting genre-hopping anthemic sounds--mainly cultured around their signature frenetic electronic drenched compositions--featuring a host of mainstream, mainly British musical guests, including rappers Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal and Tempa T who appropriately bring an unyielding hip-hop edge on each of their tracks, "Hitz," "Heavy" and "Hypets Hype," which in particular courts a heavy grime induced sound, however the best of British rap on here is "End Credits," which features Plan B, clobbering with heavy drum'n'bass beats with light rock-studded overtone. The blaring electronic bass lines of "Brixton Breifcase" with Cee Lo Green is another winner, so is "Embrace" with alternative rock band White Lies, which has a heavy baroscopic bearing. Reining in the frantic beats; there are some calmer moments, such as "Midnight Caller" with English singer/songwriter Clare Maguire, a haunting mid-tempo; very atmospheric with a calm drum backing. There are a couple more songs that capitalize heavily on the dub-step sound, which can be a little overkill at times, but it's a strong record and merely an extension of the sound they pursued on their last record, More than Alot, with a distinctive mainstream edge. Best: End Credits, Hypest Hype, Embrace, Midnight Caller, Hitz, Brixton Briefcase

James Blake (3.5/5). British electronic/dub-step producer James Blake has a very interesting and distinctive sound--built around heavy vocal layering and choppy vocal effects--his self-titled debut, demonstrates a collage of electronic-influenced sounds with seeping soulful undertones--almost similar to fellow British dub-step producer Burial. It's a little hit and miss, however when it's on point it works very well, such as opening track "Unluck" which lays down intricate tongue-clicking beats buried under gentle piano chords and heavy accelerating synths and the one-lyric "I Never Learnt to Share" which begins as a soulful Acapella, before the warbling soundcapes and progressive synth-chords flourish in the backdrop before the plodding bass line kick in for it's erratic electronic induced climax. Blake strikes an emotional chord on the Star Wars inspired "The Wilhelm's Scream" beginning quite illuminated and undimmed before bleeding progressively into its lurid and aphotic second half. Blake cited fellow British indie/pop band The XX as an influence for his sound, this becomes apparent on the two-parter "Lindesfarne" 1 and 2, which both capitalize on that rootsy, minimalist approach to his music. The electronic beat-driven tracks are fun, but I also enjoy the back to back piano-laced balladry of "Give Me My Mouth" and "Limit to Your Love," one of the few tracks on here that strips the auto-tune down to raw vocal. This a strong record with a handful of highlights, but also quite a bit that doesn't quite stick, particularly on its second half. Best: Unluck, I Never Learnt to Share, Limit to Your Love, Lindesfarne 2, Give Me My Mouth.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Arctic Monkeys "Brick By Brick"

British indie rock band Arctic Monkeys are back with "Brick By Brick," the lead single from their forthcoming fourth album due this summer; a rapid, high-energy rock-studded production--layered accelerating guitar chords and light-footed drum work, recapturing the energetic rock of their earlier work. It's definitely not the more experimental, moodier sound of their last album Humbug. Check it out below:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New Britney Track

The next single "Til the World Ends," from Britney's forthcoming seventh album Femme Fatale is out. Produced by Dr. Luke and penned by Kesha. Listen here.

Billboard Hot 100, March 12, 2010

1. Born this Way - Lady Gaga

It's a third week at the top for Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," tying "Just Dance" for the singer's longest run at #1 thus far. It's also the first song to debut at #1 and stay there for 3 weeks since Mariah Carey's "Honey" September, 1997. "Born," crosses the million digital sales mark this week, becoming the 4th best selling single of year so far, according to Billboard.

4. Fuckin' Perfect - P!nk
5. S&M - Rihanna

P!nk rebounds 2 spots back up to #4 with "Fuckin' Perfect," currently still gaining heavily on top 40 radio. Barbadian singer Rihanna's "S&M" also climbs up 2 spots, up to #5, scoring the singer her 10th top 5 hit.

8. E.T. - Katy Perry feat. Kanye West

Where did this come from? I wasn't aware Katy Perry had a new single out, but she does and "E.T." climbs a staggering 20 spots up to #8, the 4th top 10 from Teenage Dream and her 7th overall. Another #1? Probably. It's this week's digital gainer.

9. On the Floor - Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull

Now a "surprise" I did expect this week, was the chart-comeback from American pop singer Jennifer Lopez, who's latest single "On the Floor" featuring Cuban rapper Pitbulls debuts in the top 10 at #9. This is Lopez's first solo top 10 since "All I Have" featuring rapper LL Cool J--that was 8 years ago, peaking at #1 in 2003. The last time she appeared in the top 10 was as a guest on LL Cool J's "Control Myself," which peaked at #4 in 2006. "Floor" sold a respectable 171k this week. American Idol can do wonders for ones career.

11. Blow - Kesha

Landing just outside the top 10 is the latest single from pop singer Kesha, "Blow" charges up 21 spots up to #11 this week, scoring her 6th top 20... which is basically all of her singles thus far.

15. Moment 4 Life - Nicki Minaj feat. Drake

Can rapper Nicki Minaj out-peak her high-peaking single, "Your Love," with "Moment 4 Life," featuring Drake, which climbs 3 spots up to #15 just 1 notch away from the #14 peak of "Love."

31. All of the Lights - Kanye West & co.

Rapper Kanye West and the ocean of other artists featured on the single, "All of the Lights," surges into the top 40, climbing 23 spots up to #31, scoring his 14th top 40 single.

Personal Airplay, March 3, 2011

TW LW Title - Artist
1.... (1).... Price Tag - Jessie J feat. B.o.B. (2 weeks @ #1)
2.... (7).... Someone Like You - Adele
3.... (3).... Born this Way - Lady Gaga
4.... (2).... Hold it Against Me - Britney Spears (1 wk @ #1)
5... (15)... Good Girl - Alexis Jordan
6.... (9).... Rocketeer - Far East Movement
7.... (4).... S&M - Rihanna
8.... (5).... Fuckin' Perfect - P!nk (2 wks @ #1)
9.... (8).... Rolling in the Deep - Adele
10.. (6).... Post Break-Up Sex - The Vaccines

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

NY Post Pokes Fun at a Drunken Xtina

A little off-topic, but I can't resist. As you may have heard, pop singer Christina Aguilera was recently arrested for driving while intoxicated this week--but more interesting is the lack of sympathy following the event from the press, such as this article from the New York Post, who took it upon themselves to alter Aguilera's song titles into drunken puns, with artwork too! My favorite is "Ain't No Other Man (Like Jack Daniels)." But in all seriousness, I feel for her, I hope she gets it together soon.