Inside Music with Melinda Newman
Can a deeply personal album resonate with the masses?
One day, history will look back at Beyonce’s “4,” out June 28, and view it in much more favorable light than it’s going to get now. In some ways, like Lady Gaga with “Born This Way,” Bey’s made her least accessible album.
Unlike Lady Gaga, however, who tends to take big anthems and make them even bigger through her dramatics and persona, Beyonce is focused primarily on the smaller, deeply personal romantic relationships that mark our lives. They’re the ones the first unite us and then later blow our hearts apart. The girl who was blithely, giddily “Crazy in Love” has now found that love can drive you insane.
Beyonce signals that she is not traveling down her usual sassy, beat-laden, catchy musical path by opening the album with “1 (Plus) 1.” It’s an intimate Alicia Keys-type ballad, despite the rock guitar solo, but with a weird vocal up-hollar at the end of several of the lines that are slightly jarring. The first track of an album is usually an invitation to come on a journey, to ride shotgun with the artist through the next 10 songs or so. Instead, we get a deep album track about realizing the depth of her romantic bond (I’m guessing to Jay-Z) that sounds like it would normally be in the later half of a set.
Rhythmically, she gets back on a pop track, somewhat, with “I Care.” It’s a wide-open, straight from the ‘80s, production with big, echo-y drums and reverberating synth keys. She’s still clinging to a relationship, though her partner has turned his back...so much so that he revels in her pain. By the third song, “I Miss You,” ; they’ve parted, but she still can’t let go and her needs are vexing her.
It feels like Beyonce wrote a mission statement for this album with three goals that she passed out to her raft of producers and co-writers: 1) Show she is grown up and is dealing with the complexities of love and life and is much more than a one-dimensional dancing doll 2) Prove that she really can sing by overloading the album with repeated emotional wallops that allow for full-on belting and 3) Make an highly percussive album that sonically combines rhythms and synths from the ‘70s and ‘80s with modern technology.
[More after the jump...]
What happens to Lady Gaga and Adele?
The cover of Jill Scott's 'The Light of the Sun'
There’s a windfall of new debuts headed for the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 next week, led by Jill Scott’s “The Light of the Sun,” which looks like a lock to come in at No. 1.
The title, her first chart topper, is on her own label, Blues Babe, following her departure from Hidden Beach. The set is poised to sell 135,000 copies. Coming in at No. 3 is Bon Iver’s second set, “Bon Iver.” That’s a far superior position than Bon Iver’s debut, “For Emma, Forever Ago,” which peaked at No. 64.
Country singer Justin Moore’s “Outlaws Like Me” looks good for No. 5, while “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Alpocalypse” is in a tight race with Pitbull’s “Planet Pit” to bow at No. 8.
As far as returning faves, after dropping to No. 3, Adele’s “21” will likely bounce back to No. 2 with sales of up to 105,000.
Jackie Evancho’s “Dream With Me” drops from No. 2 to 4. This week’s No. 1 set, Bad Meets Evil’s “Hell: The Sequel” drops to No. 6, while Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” falls to No. 7. Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” slides 5-10.
Who sings 'Rainbow Connection?'
The awesomeness of “The Muppets” movie just keeps growing. Though the movie doesn’t open until Nov. 23, Disney will release “Muppets: The Green Album” (get it? ) on Aug. 23.
Among the primarily alt rock artists covering classic Muppets tunes, according to Pitchfork, are My Morning Jacket (“Our World”), Sondre Lerche (“Mr. Bassman”), Weezer and Paramore’s Hayley Williams (“Rainbow Connection”) and The Fray (Mahna Mahna”).
Hitfix has already posted too many amazing stories about the Muppets movie to link to all of them here, but here are two great pieces from the set here and here by Greg Ellwood. In addition to this tribute album, the movie will have its own soundtrack with Muppet classics and new tracks from James Bobin and Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie.
Muppets: The Green Album Tracklist:â€¨
1. OK Go – Muppet Show Theme
â€¨2. Weezer and Paramore’s Hayley Williams – Rainbow Connection
â€¨3. The Fray – Mahna Mahna
â€¨4. Alkaline Trio – Moving Right Alongâ€¨
5. My Morning Jacket – Our World
â€¨6. Amy Lee – Halfway Down the Stairsâ€¨
7. Sondre Lerche – Mr. Bassman
â€¨8. The Airborne Toxic Event – Wishing Songâ€¨
9. Atreyu’s Brandon Saller and Good Charlotte’s Billy Martin – Night Lifeâ€¨
10. Andrew Bird – Bein’ Greenâ€¨
11. Matt Nathanson – I Hope That Something Better Comes Along
â€¨12. Rachael Yamagata – I’m Going to Go Back There Someday
Who should play the troubled genius?
Credit: Matt Sayles
River Road Entertainment, the production company behind the Runaways biopic, is planning to tell Brian Wilson’s story.
The Beach Boys’ co-founder is rife with drama, from growing up with his abusive father, Murray, to his psychotic breakdown to his relationship with his now-deceased svengali Eugene Landy to his latter-day recovery. And that’s without even mentioning the glorious music.
River Road, which also produced “The Tree of Life,” revealed in a statement that the film will take “an unconventional look at Wilson’s unique music process as well as his struggles with mental illness,” Whatever that means, according to a blurb in the New York Times.
No word yet on if River Road has secured the rights to use the Beach Boys’ music. Oren Moverman, who directed and co-wrote “The Messeng
Thought we haven’t heard much about it lately, last summer filmmaking partners Randall Miller and Jody Savin (“Bottle Shock,” “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School”) announced their plans to develop a movie based on the life of Wilson’s brother, Dennis. His story is less well known and in many way more fascinating.
I could see Zach Galifinakis or Jack Black playing Brian Wilson. Whom do you see?
Eminem, Adele, Prince and Clarence Clemons also make the list
Credit: AP Photo/PictureGroup, Kristian Dowling
1) Katy Perry (not ranked): The pop princess keeps breaking her own records. She already was the only artist to land four No. 1s on Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs chart from one album and now she just increased her lead as “Last Friday Night” brings her tally to five.
2) Bad Meets Evil (not ranked): The dark side triumphs as this project featuring Eminem and Royce da 5’9” enters the Billboard 200 at No. 1, keeping that angelic 11-year old Jackie Evancho out of the top spot. Hey, if they can duet with Bruno Mars, why not Evancho?
3) EMI (not ranked): The label goes back up on the block. Regardless of what happens, it can’t be worse than the Terra Firma/Citigroup years. We suggest Chris Martin, Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum buy it. It worked for Frank Sinatra and Reprise.
4) Prince (not ranked): The Purple One tells London newspaper The Guardian that he will not record any new material until there is better regulation of online distribution. “We made money [online] before piracy was real crazy,” he says. “Nobody’s making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google.”
What year does he think it is? 1999?
5) Gee Robinson (not ranked): Longtime co-head of management company for Kanye West, Lil Wayne and others moves back to label ranks as chairman of Geffen Records.
[More after the jump...]
Does she bust a move or just go bust?
Jennifer Hudson on "The Early Show"
Credit: AP Photo
Jennifer Hudson’s “No One Gonna Love You” is full of fake-outs. Some of them sweet, some of them a little less so.
The Diane Martel-directed video starts with Hudson wanted a little sumthin-sumthin from her man, but he leaves their bed anyway, which would put any girl in a bad mood, you know what I’m saying? Then, to compound matters, he doesn’t remember that it’s there anniversary.
So what’s a girl to do other than go to the local dance studio, put on her best Bob Fosse outfit and top hat, and sit in a chair backward, “Cabaret” style, and tease us with the possibility that she might actually turn into Beyonce and dance. Instead, we see her playing the piano from the back, like she’s morphed into Alicia Keys, and then she later, around the 2:10 mark, gets up out of that chair and does a few shoulder shrugs and a few simple moves later on.. Major tease with absolutely no payoff. Disappointment.
[More after the jump...]
Why is it sinking like a stone?
Credit: AP Photo
Is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” a quickly sinking bomb? In its first week, it sold more than 1.1 million copies in the U.S. alone, but by week four, its numbers have dropped to 66,000. This week it drops to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 with total sales of 1.45 million (Worldwide, it has reached 5 million copies, the singer tweeted yesterday).
By contrast, Adele’s “21,” after selling 352,000 in its first week, keeps steadily chugging along. It quickly replaced “Born This Way” back at the top spot and has spent 10 weeks at No. 1. In its 17 weeks on the Billboard 200, it has sold more than 2 million copies and has never dropped below No. 3.
How do we even measure this stuff anymore anyway in the age of iTunes? I’m not so sure, but I can’t believe that Interscope executives are dancing with delight over Lady Gaga’s steeply falling weekly album numbers, especially given the near 24/7 perpetual motion promotion machine. If this were 2001 instead of 2011, “Born This Way” would likely still be selling 250,000-300,000/week at this stage. But that was before digital downloading and just at the start of album sales diving precipitously.
The numbers do tell us a few things:
*The initial rush and excitement very quickly fell off at a staggering rate for “Born This Way.” After months of build-up and leaking tracks, it’s possible that fans are simply experiencing Lady Gaga fatigue or her biggest fans snap up anything in the first week and her moderate followers don’t feel moved to purchase.
*The Amazon promotion that offered the entire album for 99 cents for two days of the first week was great for fans, but was a gimmick. Lady Gaga would have still had an amazing first week—more than 700,000 copies sold—without the Amazon promotion. But the 1.1 million will forever have an asterisk by it since Interscope achieved the numbers by practically giving it away (we’re quite sure the label would have done that if Nielsen SoundScan counted giveways, but it doesn’t).
*Radio still matters. Yes, listenership is down and more and more people discover music through the internet and from friends, but a radio hit is still important for massive sales to reach the widest possible audience. For example, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” has been No. 1 on the Hot 100 for seven weeks. That’s not only because it’s receiving Top 40 airplay: the song is a cross-format smash at rock and AC as well. First single “Born This Way” debuted at No. 1, but second single “Judas” never ignited at radio and third single, “The Edge of Glory” is doing well, but isn’t burning up the chart. It is No. 6 with a bullet this week on the Billboard Hot 100, bolstered, sadly, by the death of Clarence Clemons, who appears on the track and video.
*We have to look at the full picture. Yes, album sales have slowed to a trickle of what they were, but the digital downloads have already surpassed the 5 million mark in the U.S. alone. There are some people who feel that iTunes ruined the albums market. Others believe it simply has allowed consumers to purchase in a way that works for them. To me, it’s a bit of both. By the numbers: “Born This Way,” 2.94 million; “The Edge of Glory,” 996,000; “Judas,” 720,000; “You and I,” 124,000 (downloads of other songs on the album get the tally up to 5,098,000).
So how’s the scorecard look? I’d say mixed. We can no longer look at album sales in a vacuum to gauge a project’s success. On the plus side, there is plenty that Interscope can tout to signal excitement, including the album and single resoundingly debuting at No. 1. Her “Fame Monster” tour was one of the highest grossing tours of the years and she has gone from club act to arena headliner in remarkably short time. On the downside, it seems almost impossible that someone could work as hard as Lady Gaga has (she has an inhuman work ethic) and that can only translate to 66,000 people feeling moved to purchase her album this week. Her fame far eclipses her buying audience at this point. The challenge for her label is how to convert all the looky-loos to consumers.
Does Adele make it seven weeks atop Billboard's singles chart?
Credit: AP Photo
Adele makes it a lucky 7 as “Rolling in the Deep” stays at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for its 7th frame, but will Katy Perry spoil the party?
Perry is going for her fifth No. 1 from her album, “Teenage Dream” and it looks like nothing is going to stand in her way. “Last Friday Night (TGIF),” leaps from 31 to No. 4. As it gains both airplay and single sales momentum, it could leap to the top spot. Who does she push out of the No. 4 slot? Herself. Former chart topper “E.T.” featuring Kanye West slips from 4-5.
Hanging at the same slot as last week, Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” featuring Ne-Yo, Afro Jack and Nayer is No. 2, while LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock is No. 3, according to Billboard. Also holding steady is Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” at No. 6.
Elsewhere in the Top 10, Jason Aldena’s “Dirt Road Anthem” climbs two spots 9-7, while Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” similarly moves up two, 10-8. Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” winds down four spots, 5-9, while Lupe Fiasco slides up one to No. 10 with “The Show Goes On.”
In other news, Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor” featuring Pitbull finally falls out of the Top 10 at 16 weeks as it moves 7-12.
The biggest entry on the chart belongs to Bad Meets Evil (i.e. Eminem and Royce da 5’9), whose “Lighters” featuring Bruno Mars rockets onto the Hot 100 at No. 16. The duo’s album, “Hell: The Sequel,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week.
Also, a big welcome back to Shania Twain. “Today Is Your Day,” which enters the Hot 100 at No. 66, is her first appearance on the chart since 2005.
British singer makes up postponed dates and adds shows
After canceling a number of June tour dates due to laryngitis, Adele has rescheduled those shows plus thrown in six more.
The dates will take place in two shifts: August and October, starting Aug. 9 at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theater.
Adele’s “21,” which drops to No xx this week, has spent 10 weeks atop the BIllboard 200 album chart and has sold more than 2 million copies since its February release making it the top seller of 2011. First single, “Rolling in the Deep” is No. 1 for the 7th week on the Billboard Hot 100. Though she is only 23, Adele has spent more time in the top spot in her native UK than any other female artist in history, according to her label.
August 9 Vancouver, BC Orpheum Theatre*
August 11 Troutdale, Or Edgefield**
August 12 Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre*
August 14 Berkeley, CA The Greek Theatre*
August 15 Los Angeles, CA The Greek Theatre*
August 17 Los Angeles, CA The Palladium*
August 18 San Diego, CA Open Air Theater***
August 20 Las Vegas, NV The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas****
August 21 Salt Lake City, UT Gallivan Center**
August 24 Saint Paul, MN Theater at Xcel Energy Center**
October 7 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Spa & Resort****
October 8 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center****
October 10 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium*
October 11 Asheville, NC Thomas Wolfe Auditorium*
October 13 Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live****
October 14 Miami, FL Waterfront Theater at American Airlines Arena****
October 16 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre***
October 18 Spring, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion****
October 19 Austin, TX Frank Erwin Center***
October 21 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie**
*All original tickets honored
**Venue change, original tickets honored
***Venue change, check with point of purchase for ticket information
****Newly added show
Can't you just guess what it's about with that title?
So as I’m watching the video for Enrique Iglesias’s “Dirty Dancer” featuring Usher and Lil Wayne, I’m thinking, as I watch one more stripper spread her legs, “Hmmm. I wonder if she waxes or shaves?” I don’t think this is the reaction he was going for.