Scottish singer/songwriter turns up the beat on third album
Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall remains best known in the U.S. for her hits, “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See” from her multi-platinum debut, 2004’s “Eye to the Telescope.” But that could change with “Tiger Suit,” her third album, out Oct. 4.
“Tiger Suit,” so named after a recurring childhood dream of Tunstall’s about seeing a tiger in her garden, blends her established acoustic roots with dance textures for an overall upbeat throbbing album. Though it may be a bid to make her sound more contemporary (especially after her second album stalled in the U.S.), the surprise is it works in a totally organic way.
First single, “Fade Like a Shadow” a bouncy track about the end of a relationship, is climbing Billboard’s Triple A chart. It stands as the catchiest song on “Tiger Suit,” but is far from its only top tapper.
Tunstall announces that there’s a new girl in town with album opener, “Uummannaq Song,” which pulses with world music rhythms and backing vocals (The singalong backing vocals return on the aggressive "Madame Trudeaux"). From there, she propels into “Glamour Puss,” a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Adele or Duffy record (or Peter, Bjorn and John, given all the whistling). She also bares a striking resemblance to ingrid Michaelson on a number of cuts.
Tunstall turned to Linda Perry and The Bird & The Bee’s Greg Kurstin (also known for his work with Lily Allen) to co-write with her for “Tiger Suit” and they’ve kept her work tight and punchy. Producer Jim Abbiss, who has worked with Adele and Arctic Monkey, among others, focuses on Tunstall’s lilting soprano in a way that hasn’t always been evident in past albums, especially on the mid-tempo “Difficulty,” which is a awash with synthesizers.
The album’s most endearing track has to be “(Still a) Weirdo,” the first single in the U.K., in which Tunstall declares, in a gently swaying way, that she’s still a weirdo after all these years. Thank goodness for that.
Show airs on Oct. 12
Nicki Minaj was the big winner at the BET Hip Hop Awards on Saturday. The show, which will air Oct. 12 at 8 p.m., honors the biggest acts in Hip Hop through a variety of often oddly-named awards.
For example, even though she has yet to release a full album, Minaj took home Rookie of the year award, as well as the People’s Champ award and the Made You Look Award which is given to the most fashion forward artist. She deserves that one for her wigs alone. Minaj’s debut album, “Pink Friday,” comes out Nov. 23.
Perhaps forgetting the women who have come before her, such as Missy Elliott, Lil Kim and Queen Latifah, Minaj said, “I’m paving the way for girls,” according to MTV. “I want to thank all the girls of hip hop.” To be fair, we have been in a tremendously fallow period for women in the genre, so we’re hoping that Minaj’s success ushers in a new era. Minaj’s “Your Love” was the first song by an unaccompanied female solo artist to top the Billboard Rap Songs chart in eight years.
The night’s other big winner at the Atlanta ceremony was Jay-Z, who won three awards: He and Alicia Keys shared the Perfect Combo award for “Empire State of Mind,” which he captured CD of the year for “The Blueprint 3” and best live performer.
Other key winners included Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, Diddy and DJ Khaled. Salt-N-Pepa won the I Am Hip-Hop award.
KT Tunstall, Fistful of Mercy and Avett Bros. also bring new offerings
New albums from an “American Idol,” a country superstar, a group composed of three well-known solo artists, and a star in the making are Oct. 5’s top offerings. David Archuleta tries his hand at pop radio again as Toby Keith, Fistful of Mercy and Bruno Mars all release new efforts. Joining the release-week fun are the Avett Bros., with a live set, Travis’s Fran Healy and guitar god Joe Satriani.
David Archuleta, “The Other Side of Down” (19/Jive): “American Idol” finalist comes back and shows off his songwriting chops: the 19-year old penned 10 of the 12 songs on the pop effort. Read more here.
Avett Brothers, “Live, Vol. 3” (American/Columbia): North Carolina band of brothers (okay, two brothers) turns in a live set full of vibrant, roots rock American, recorded during a 2009 show in Charlotte, N.C., down the road from their hometown of Concord.
Finger Eleven, “Life Turns Electric” (Wind-Up): Rock band follow ups 2007 “Them vs. You vs. Me” with a 10-track set recorded in New York. First single, “Living in a Dream,” is No. 20 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and rising.
Fistful of Mercy, “As I Call You Down” (Hot/Vagrant): New group composed of Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison comes together for a folk-based set with soothing harmonies.
Guster, “Easy Wonderful” (Aware/Universal): Boston rockers release their sixth album full of easy-going, shimmering melodies. Plus, they perform in their long underwear in the video for delicious, ringing first single, “Do You Love Me?” What’s not to love?
Fran Healy, “Wreckorder” (Ryko): Travis frontman gets some pretty nifty guests on his latest solo project: Paul McCartney and Neko Case.
Toby Keith, “Bullets in the Gun” (Show Dog Nashville/Universal): Country superstar unloads another set of tunes about what it means to be country, including the tongue-in-cheek salute to life in the trailer park, first single “Trailerhood.”
Leland Sundries, “The Apothecary EP” (L’Echiquier): Brooklyn indie act’s debut recalls Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen fronting a lo-fi Americana band complete with smart, literate lyrics.
Bruno Mars, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” (Elektra): First he had success producing other folks, then appearing as a featured artist on such records as B.o.B.’s “Nothin‘ On You” and now (drug charges aside), Mars seems poised to unhitch his wagon to other people’s dreams and make his own come true if first single, the smooth No. 1 smash “Just the Way You Are” is any indication.
Joe Satriani, “Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards” (Epic): Guitarist extraordinaire, who is now part of Chickenfoot, along with Sammy Hagar, returns to his solo roots for his 14th studio album.
The Corin Tucker Band, “1,000 Years” (Kill Rock Stars): Slater-Kinney’s co-founder, Corin Tucker, steps out for for a solo record with a little help from Unwound’s Sara Lund and Golden Bears’ Seth Lorinczi. Tucker described the music as a “middle-aged mom record.” We just call it rawwwk.
KT Tunstall, “Tiger Suit” (Virgin): Scottish lass’s third album combines her familiar acoustic rock with some electronic textures for a completely contemporary sounds. She also gets some help in the songwriting department from Linda Perry and The Bird & The Bee’s Greg Kurstin.
And we'll throw in a 'Kenny Chesney: Greatest Hits ll'
We’ve got four copies of Kenny Chesney’s brand new album, “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” autographed by Kenny, and four copies of “Greatest Hits II” to give away.
“Hemingway’s Whiskey,” which is garnering Chesney some of the best reviews of his career, is a lock to come in at No. 1 on next week’s Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums. The set contains “Boys of Fall,” Chesney’s 18th No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. And you can have it for free!
Since Chesney’s first No. 1 in 1997, no other artist has landed as many No. 1s (other than Tim McGraw, who also has 18) on the Billboard country charts.
Chesney’s “Greatest Hits II” includes such smashes as “Out Last Night,” “Young,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” and “I Go Back.”
Here’s how you enter:
1) If you aren’t already doing to, sign up to follow Hitfix on Twitter and Melinda Newman on Twitter by clicking on the links and friend Hitfix on Facebook.
2) Send an email to Melinda@hitfix.com with the following information:
*The name of Kenny Chesney’s first No. 1 single on the Billboard country charts
*Your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and email address
The first four folks to do the above correctly, will receive the autographed copy of “Hemingway’s Whiskey” and “Greatest Hits II.”
Will it make it into your stocking?
We’re normally adverse to artists trying to create new holiday songs as they always fall flat and we count on one hand the number of really great Christmas songs that have been written since, oh, 1940 (that would be the year that Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas.”
However, Mariah Carey has decided to deliver a little Christmas bundle early (she’s still keeping mum on that other bundle she supposedly has going on) with “Oh Santa!,” from “Merry Christmas II You.”
The song is one of six(!!) originals on the set, Carey’s second (obviously) holiday collection created especially for her little lambs. It follows 1994’s “Merry Christmas,” which featured the new standard “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (we can’t hear that song without thinking of “Love Actually.”)
“Oh Santa” is a fast-paced little ditty about Santa checking his list and deciding to make you mine for Xmas because I can be both naughty and nice. It opens with a “Hey Mickey”-type chant before giving way to a hand-clapper that recalls the Motown-era (sped up a little). We wish she’d held off on the high notes at the end, but they’re in the background so you can try to ignore them. It must be in her contract that she has to do the dog-whistle, high-pitched stuff at least once an album.
Eminem surges ahead, while Katy Perry is just right
Only a few years ago, she was a train wreck. Now Britney Spears is an unstoppable locomotive. Tuesday night’s Spears’-themed “Glee” episode was the highest-rated episode in the show’s history among 18-49 year olds. The cast-version of “Toxic” soars up the iTunes chart, as does the six-pack of tunes from the show.
Our little boy is growing up in a sweet video for his best song
Given how much he lusts after her in a slightly creepy way, we’re delighted that Kim Kardashian is not in Justin Bieber’s new video for “U Smile.”
Instead, the film opens in black and white, almost like “A Hard Day’s Night,” with the Bieb surrounded by a few fans (although the girls are calm instead of causing a frenzy). It switches to color as we see JB performing in a beautiful theater, playing piano. We alternate back and forth between the solo performance shot and Bieber hanging with his girlfriend, an adorable blonde. They hold hands, goof around in the theater, cuddle a little. In other words, it’s the perfect little video for Bieber’s tween fans, who can imagine they are the ones out cavorting with Bieber instead of the blonde.
There’s very little dancing and the song and video seem to be presenting a more mature Bieber. (He still looks like he’s nine, but compare how he looks in “U Smile” to “Baby,” and it’s clear our little boy is growing up).
Plus, may we add, the the mid-tempo ballad is the best song on “My World 2.0.” It’s sweet with a great hook and amelody that is redolent of something a very young Michael Jackson would sing. It features one of Bieber’s best vocal performance. If you’re into the beat-heavy Bieber, it may not be for you, but we’re predicting a 100% approval rate by his female fans. If I were that blonde girlfriend in the video though, I’d prepare for some hate mail.
'Glee' has a quintet of reasons to celebrate
Bruno Mars makes it two weeks in a row as “Just the Way You Are” stays right where it as: at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The tune also returns to the top of Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs after dropping to No. 2 last week.
We admit, we thought Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)” was on such an upward trajectory that it would bounce Bruno from the pinnacle, but her song drops in both digital sales and airplay, according to both Billboard. Instead, it looks like Far East Movement may be the one to rise to the top with “Like a G6.” The song, featuring Cataracs and Dev, jumps 10-6 via major gains on both the digital sale front and in airplay.
All the “Glee” talk shifted to Britney this week, but the chart reflects the tremendous gains from last week’s season two premiere. The five songs made available from the episode sold 409,000 downloads. Leading the pack was New Directions’ version of “Empire State of Mind,” barely beating Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone.”
Travie McCoy benefits twice as his hit, “Billionaire” sees his original version soar 44-22 on Hot Digital Songs following its appearance on “Glee,” while the “Glee” cover lands at No. 13 on the Hot Digital Songs chart.
Lastly, Maroon 5 may have had to settle for coming in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, bested by Zac Brown Band, but “Misery,” the first single from “Hands All Over,” continues its climb up the Hot 100 to No. 14, while fun album cut “Stutter” comes in at No. 2 (we wonder if that will lead to the band opting to go with “Stutter” as the second single and pull the plug on the boring “Give a Little More.”
If only the song matched her impressive stomach
Forget about The Situation, Shakira’s abs are ridiculous in her new video for “Loca” featuring Dizzee Rascal. Not only are her abs ripped, they’re versatile. She can take them for a day at the beach, roller skating, for a quick hop into a fountain and even for on the spin on the back of a motorcycle... not before changing into leather pants. Safety first, of course.
The Colombian superstar is coming off a massive worldwide (ex-U.S.) hit, “Waka, Waka (This Time for Africa)”, from the World Cup, but is looking to regain a little ground in the U.S. after last year’s “She Wolf” died a fairly quick death. “Loca” is the new single from “Sale el Sol (The Sun Comes Out),” out Oct. 19.
It’s a frivolous, horn-filled frolic filmed in Barcelona, but we can’t help wishing she’d spend as much time on her music as her abs. Other than the cool rap exchange between Shakira and Dizzee, this sounds like a Ricky Martin reject. She is immensely capable of releasing songs that capture a moment in time like “Hips Don’t Lie” with Wyclef Jean or even back to “Whenever, Wherever.” This song feels like it will be huge in Europe, but probably not in the U.S.
No free music from West for at least one week as he punishes all of us
Kayne West is pissed... and we know that can lead to trouble.
After "Lost in the World," West’s collaboration with Bon Iver leaked onto the internet earlier this week, West took to Twitter to announce that he was taking a hiatus from his Good Friday practice of releasing a new song each week--at least for this week.
Over a several hour period on Wednesday, he tweeted (we’re running all these together): “Due to blogs leaking unfinished songs from my actual album I’ve decided to pass [on] Good Fridays this week...It’s messed up that one hacker can mess everything up for everyone...I love to take a year to finish my songs and deliver them to you in there [sic] more completed form...It would have seemed like since I give free music every week even the lowest form of human being would respect that enough not to leak unfinished songs from my real album.”
[More after the jump...]
Also, despite the word that West’s new album would drop Nov. 22, on Tuesday, as we reported Wednesday, West isn't so sure about that. “I’m still contemplating my album date," he tweeted. "I’m finished with it, but when should I drop?” He also admitted he couldn’t decide on an album title. May we suggest “Leaker?”
West appears on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.
Does Kanye have a right to be mad? Share your thoughts below.