Foster the People return with dreamy 'Coming of Age': Listen
Credit: Columbia Records

Foster the People return with dreamy 'Coming of Age': Listen

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New album, 'Supermodel,' headed for stores in March

It’s been more than a minute since Foster the People broke through in 2011 with “Pumped Up Kicks” from its major label debut, “Torches.”

The trio, led by Mark Foster, returns with a new album, the Paul Epworth-produced “Supermodel,” on March 18. First single, “Coming of Age,” hits airwaves today.

Foster the People have shifted slightly away from their Beach Boys obsession (although only slightly given how the tune ends) and moved on to new wave and  late-‘80s Brit Pop for “Coming of Age,” a shimmering, yet propulsive guitar-and-synth driven track.

“I try to live without regrets,” Mark Foster sings, though he knows that’s easier said than done, especially “when my fear pulls me out to sea,” leading him to hurt the ones he cares about the most. It’s a more personal, reflective tune than their previous hits.

Bolstered by sweet backing vocals and a nice bridge three-quarters of the way in, the track has staying power and could build to be a nice winter/spring time hit.  Foster shows Brian Wilson a little love with the ending vocals.

Coachella-bound Foster the People recorded the album in Morocco, Los Angeles and London with Epworth, best known for his work with Adele.  In addition to Coachella, the group is also confirmed for two club dates this month: Seattle, Jan. 19, and Portland, Jan 20.

The video below is time-lapse footage of a mural painting of the cover art in downtown Los Angeles. Below the video is the tracklisting for "Supermodel." 

 

"Supermodel" track listing

1. Are You What You Want to Be
2. Ask Yourself
3. Coming of Age
4. Nevermind
5. Pseudologia Fantastica
6. The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones
7. Best Friend
8. A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon
9. Goats in Trees
10. The Truth
11. Fire Escape

 

 

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Lea Michele's title track, 'Louder': Listen
Credit: Columbia Records

Lea Michele's title track, 'Louder': Listen

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Don't let anyone turn out your heartlight

 After the video for Lea Michele’s new  single, “Cannonball,” bowed last week, the “Glee” singer is back with the title track from her upcoming album, out March 4.

If “Cannonball’s” message is about starting to live today, “Louder’s” take-away is to ignore anyone who’s trying to extinguish your inner flame.

“Louder” is similarly anthemic and mid-tempo, but has a softer approach than “Cannonball,” despite its exhortation to “scream a little louder.”  The song is an inspirational ode to “come out of the shadow, step into the light, this could be the moment that could change your life.” While it could be a single, it's melodically too close to "Cannonball" to be the follow-up.

The “Glee” star told Billboard, which debuted the track, the song’s mission statement resonated with her. "I always think it's so important to live your life to the fullest, and love as hard as you can love, and fight as hard as you can fight. Be loud, be bold, be yourself, whether or not people understand that message. That's what I think of when I think of the song and album."

What do you think of “Louder?”

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 Shakira and Rihanna's 'Can't Remember To Forget You': Listen

Shakira and Rihanna's 'Can't Remember To Forget You': Listen

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You can certainly shake your hips to it

Shakira and Rihanna bounce through their heartache on “Can’t Remember To Forget You,” an ode to a guy who is bad in all the good ways.

The two play off each other, trading parts about the boy who makes them forget everything other than “kissing in the moonlight.”

The track, which premiered today on “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,”  is relentlessly and aggressively upbeat, bringing in Latin beats in homage to Shakira’s Colombian background, and Caribbean touches, as tribute to Rihanna, who is from Barbados. Plus, it adds in an ‘80s, Police-like rhythm, similar to that heard on Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” as MTV and other outlets also noted.

It’s loud and in your face and it comes out in time to be hitting its stride when Shakira returns as a coach on “The Voice” on Feb. 24. The song will be on Shakira’s new album, out March 25.

Given that the song credits list six songwriters — Shakira, Rihanna, John Hill, Tom Hull, Daniel Ledinsky and Erik Hassle — you’d think they would have come up with a more memorable chorus. Instead they seemed to rely on the star appeal of their names and lots of bells and whistles. Having said that, it’s certainly better than another recent superstar collaboration: Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears’  paste-up on “SMS (Bangerz).”

What do you think of “Can’t Remember To Forget You?”
How do you like it compared to Shakira’s 2007 collaboration with Beyonce,  “Beautiful Liar,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100?

 

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: AP Photo

Beyonce headed back to No. 1 next week

Rapper Kid Ink poised for a big bow

Beyonce returns to dominance on the Billboard 200 next week as “Beyonce” is poised to thaw “Frozen” out of the top spot.

It will mark “Beyonce’s” fourth non-consecutive week at No. 1, as the soundtrack to the Disney animated features slides to No. 2.  

With the holidays over and no new releases from major artists, no title will top the 100,000 mark, with “Beyonce” slated to sell around 85,000 units and “Frozen” reaching for 75,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

The one debut in the Top 10 in the slow release week will belong to rapper Kid Ink with his major label bow, “My Own Lane,” at No. 3 (50,000).

The rest of the Top 10 belongs to major acts who have been lodged in the Top 10: At No. 4 will be Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” (40,000), Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” at No. 5 (35,000); One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” at No. 6 (26,000), Katy Perry’s “Prism” at No. 7 (22,000), Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz” at No. 8 (21,000) and Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same" and Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” in a dead heat for No. 9, with each moving up to 19,000 copies.








 

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<p>Tom Morello</p>

Tom Morello

Credit: nightwatchmenmusic.com

Inspired by Springsteen, Tom Morello's ready to rock on solo album

His stint in the E Street Band paved the way

Becoming a temporary member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band has so inspired Tom Morello that he now intends to make his first solo rock record.

Though Morello certainly let his rock god out with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, his four solo sets have been gentler, folkier outings under the moniker The Nightwatchman.

After touring with Springsteen in Australia this past summer as the replacement for Steven Van Zandt, who was filming “Lilyhammer,”  Morello tells Billboard he was inspired to rock out. “The first time I ever sang with an electric guitar in my hands was 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' [with Springsteen] at the Anaheim (Calif.) Pond in 2008. Until then I'd kept my folk singing career and my electric guitar shredding career completely separate," Morello told Billboard. "It was on that (Anaheim) stage that I realized there might be a way to combine all the things I do as a songwriter and a guitar player, and this record is going to be that."

Morello has a number of songs already written but he’ll have to wait to hit the studio until he returns from playing South Africa, New Zealand and Australia (again)  with the E Street Band.  “I want to make the craziest guitar record that anyone’s ever heard,” he says.

Morello can be heard on Springsteen's new album, "High Hopes," out Jan. 14. The guitarist is on eight of the tracks.

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<p>U2 at the premiere of 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'</p>

U2 at the premiere of 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'

Credit: AP Photo

Predictions: Will Justin Timberlake or U2 win a Golden Globe Sunday?

In a year with no frontrunners, who takes home the statue?

My colleagues on the film and television side posted their Golden Globe predictions in all categories yesterday and I’m happy to see that they had as tough a time as I did when it came to picking who they felt would win in the two music categories. Both races seem wide open as we head into the final days before the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night (10).  Will the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. members go for the biggest pop star over the best song when it comes to Best Original Song as they have in the past? How much of an advantage does John Williams have for Best Original just because he’s John Williams?
Here are my predictions for the music winners:

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

“Atlas” (“Hunger Games: Catching Fire”)
“Let It Go” (“Frozen”)
“Ordinary Love” (“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”)
“Please Mr. Kennedy” (“Inside Llewyn Davis”)
“Sweeter Than Fiction” (“One Chance”)


Unlike last year when Adele’s “Skyfall” was the clear frontrunner, there’s no obvious winner this year. In the past, the HFPA. members have been starstruck and picked the biggest name... how else do you explain Madonna’s victory for “Masterpiece” (“W.E.”) in 2011? If the voters go traditional, then “Let It Go” from “Frozen” will win. Otherwise it could come down to which music superstars they want to honor:  Coldplay for “Atlas,” Taylor Swift for “Sweeter Than Fiction,” Justin Timberlake for “Please Mr. Kennedy” or U2 for “Ordinary Love.” Between Bono’s appeal and Mandela’s passing (and the fact that it’s a nice song), the winner will be “Ordinary Love.”

Winner: “Ordinary Love”



Best Original Score

“All is Lost,”  Alex Ebert
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Alex Heffes
Gravity,” Steven Price
“The Book Thief,” John Williams
12 Years a Slave,” Hans Zimmer


Williams has been nominated a staggering 25 times in this category so while it’s tempting to think he’s the automatic leader, he’s only won four times, so he’s not a shoo-in. Both Ebert and Price had the more interesting composing challenges here since their films had so little dialogue for long stretches. Looking over past winners, HFPA has honored both sweeping, orchestral scores and very of-the-moment, pop-oriented scores.  All the nominees here did their jobs very well, but there are parts of Zimmer’s score that were especially haunting and memorable.

Winner: “12 Years a Slave”
 

Who do you think will win? 

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<p>Jason Aldean</p>

Jason Aldean

Credit: AP Photo

Jason Aldean ignites Burn It Down tour

Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr will join him on 50-date outing

We smell pyro... Country superstar Jason Aldean will hit the road with his 2014 Burn It Down tour starting May 1.

The outing, which includes Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr, will alight in 50 cities, including stops at several baseball stadiums across the country, making Aldean one of the few country artists with an audience big enough to play stadiums.

Stops include Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park, Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.

“It’s no secret that I grew up dreaming of playing baseball stadiums, I just thought it would be as a first basemen,” Aldean said in a statement.

Aldean is no stranger to stadiums, having played University of Georgia’s Sandford Stadium, Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Boston’s Fenway Park last year.

Tickets for the tour go on sale Jan. 24. While exact dates haven’t been announced, below are the cities Aldean will visit.

2014 BURN IT DOWN TOUR Stops:

Roanoke, VA                       
State College, PA                      
Atlantic City, NJ                     
Birmingham, AL
Atlanta, GA
Baton Rouge, LA**                            
Jacksonville, FL**                 
Darien, NY                 
Cincinnati, OH                     
Washington, D.C.               
Pittsburgh, PA
Twin Lakes, WI*  **              
Philadelphia, PA
Hartford, CT
Detroit Lakes, MN **
Prairie du Chien, WI*  **
Chicago, IL
St. Louis, MO
Toronto, ONT
Saratoga Springs, NY
Bangor, ME
Charlotte, NC
Raleigh, NC
Virginia Beach, VA
Knoxville, TN
Lexington, KY
Denver, CO
Albuquerque, NM
Phoenix, AZ
San Diego, CA
Irvine, CA
Mountain View, CA
Sacramento, CA
Winnipeg, MB
Bismarck, ND
Sioux Falls, SD
Erie, PA
Detroit, MI
Tampa, FL
West Palm Beach, FL
San Antonio, TX
Houston, TX
Dallas, TX

* Florida Georgia Line will not appear
** Tyler Farr will not appear            

 

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<p>Eminem and Rihanna</p>

Eminem and Rihanna

Who says no black artists scored No. 1s in 2013?

Dive a little deeper into the methodology

For the first time in the Billboard Hot 100’s 55-year history, no black act as the lead artist took a song to No. 1 in 2013.

Yesterday, New York public radio station WNYC published a piece on its website about the interesting development. I want to dive a little bit deeper.

Part of the issue is semantics. WNYC chose to not include featured artists in the list, which, if they had, the stats would have instantly made it a non-story. For example, Eminem’s “The Monster,” featuring Rihanna reached the top of the chart in mid-December.  Similarly, Wanz hit No. 1 with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as the featured artist on “Thrift Shop,” as did Ray Dalton with “The Heist” duo on “Can’t Hold Us,” and, of course, “Blurred Lines” from Robin Thicke featuring Pharell and T.I. spent a whole season at No. 1.

Even if WYNC chose not to include featured artists (and I can somewhat see its rationale), it’s a strange distinction to make, especially since Billboard counts a feature on a record  in that artist’s tally of chart toppers.  For example, “The Monster” is Rihanna’s 13th No. 1.

Speaking of Rihanna, she made WYNC’s whole story possible when she failed to reach No. 1 with “Stay,” which peaked at No. 3. It marked the first time in three years she missed having not only one Hot 100 chart topper, but several:  She took two songs to No. 1 in 2012 and 2011 and three in 2009.

Playing by WYNC’s rules, three black acts hit the top in 2012 and 2011, and five in 2010. For 2009, when Top 40 radio was much more rhythmic leaning than it is now, it was 10. But again, some of this is wording: because “Empire State of Mind” is listed as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, as opposed to Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys,  that counts as two black artists.

The bigger question is if the methodology by which the Hot 100 is calculated now had an effect. Last year, The Hot 100 added YouTube streaming into the mix. Chartwatchers saw the immediate impact of the move when Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” vaulted to No. 1, despite relatively little radio airplay. Same with Ylvis’s “What Does The Fox Say.”   The three components that go into determining chart position are radio airplay, digital sales and streaming (Billboard--or, to be more precise, Nielsen-- already counted a number of streaming outlets, but adding megamonster YouTube did have an effect).

To give a little bit of a more well-rounded picture, five black artists registered Top 10 hits in 2013 as lead artists, compared with seven in 2012, and 14 in 2011.

The milestone is worth noting, but I don’t think it’s alarming or a signal of same great shift other than that we are in a cycle where mid-tempo pop songs are dominating radio. Some other pop sub-genre will swing into vogue in a year or two. That’s how it always happens.

What do you think?

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<p>Kesha and Pitbull</p>

Kesha and Pitbull

Credit: AP Photo

Pitbull and Kesha slay Eminem's 'Monster' to reach No. 1

'Timber' knocks the Rihanna duet out of the top spot

One duo replaces another Pitbull and Ke$ha reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week with “Timber.”
The pair displaces Eminem and Rihanna’s “The Monster,” which ruled for four weeks, keeping “Timber” at bay.  “The Monster” falls to No. 3.

“Timber” is Pitbull’s second No. 1, following 2011’s “Give Me Everything,” featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer. It’s Ke$ha’s third climb to the top, after “Tik Tok” and “We R Who We R,” both in 2010, according to Billboard.

OneRepublic, who will appear on The People’s Choice Awards tonight, move one spot closer to the top as “Counting Stars” advances 3-2. Otherwise, the top 5 remains the same as last week with Lorde’s “Royals” at No. 4 and A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something” at No. 5.

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J, is the lone new entry into the Top 10, riding in at No. 6, a leap of five spots. It is her 13th Top 10 hit.

 Passenger’s “Let Her Go”  stays at No. 7, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” rises 10-8, Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” rebounds 12-9, and Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” slides 6-10.

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: NBC

Why I'm not buying Lady Gaga's apology

Here's what's really bothering me about her blame game

Was Lady Gaga right to apologize to her fans? Yes, but maybe she didn’t apologize for the right thing. I’ve been thinking about that since I posted yesterday about the missive Momma Monster wrote to her fans on LittleMonster.com.

You can read the message in its entirety here, but she started by blaming others for the delay in her “Do What U Want” video with R. Kelly and then spreads to broader blame for “Artpop’s” disappointing performance so far. She ended by apologizing for how “Artpop” has rolled out and asked for a second chance from her fans as she plans a relaunch.

Lady Gaga is an artist I like and that I admire. The fact that she took this extraordinary measure on her fan site isn’t that surprising. Lady Gaga and her most ardent fans have a very close, co-dependent relationship. She seems almost to not exist outside of their sight; she is a reflection of their adoration for her. Part of that is because she is an artist who has come to prominence in the age of social media and can communicate directly with her fans, but it is also due to canny promotion on her part to make her fans feel like they are family members.


Here’s are a few things that struck me as off base about the apology:


*How did she not realize the train had derailed until now? The first half of the message she is passing the buck to those she feel betrayed her. This is an artist who from her first burst of fame has made it clear that she is a proud control freak; she oversees everything and nothing happens without her approval.  There are plenty of artists who were swindled by their team, but they didn't keep their eye on the ball like Lady Gaga claims she does. Artists like Lady Gaga and Garth Brooks have teams around them that help facilitate the artist's vision and enhance it because these artists know 100% what they want and they have their fingerprints on every decision made about their career. Yes, she says she, understandably, focused on recovering from her hip surgery last February, but when interviewed previously about her recovery, she talked about what a creative time it was for her, not the “hands-off the wheel” she describes  in the apology. “I had six months to beef up my brain and my body. I got to put a giant white or black sheet of paint over my whole canvas and I got to review ‘Artpop’ again,” she told USA Today last August after the November release of “Artpop” was announced.” “I was given the time to really be creative because it's a gazing process, it really is. I have to gaze into the work for long periods of time for it to be good.”

*How was her label, as she claims, unaware of the issues with the “Do What U Want” video and other problems? Unless she’s working under something far different from the normal arrangement, Interscope is bankrolling such things as radio promotion, marketing, and music videos (in the traditional structure, the label fronts the money and then recoups a percentage from album sales). Even if she is now simply licensing her music and videos to the label and paying for everything upfront herself, the label is still a resource for her and her decision to exclude them was a mistake.

*Finally, here’s what’s really bothering me. Maybe the problem with “Artpop” isn’t everything that came after its release or the fault of her now ex-team. Maybe it’s something that Lady Gaga doesn’t dare mention in her apology: Maybe it’s the music and the fact that the album just isn’t good enough.  That seems to be something she can't conceive of as an issue as spreads the blame around to others and then promises to right her ship.

The album received mixed reviews and nothing that Lady Gaga has done to promote it, including a network special on Thanksgiving night with the Muppets, has done much to move the needle (when the Muppets can't help you, then you really are in trouble). “Applause” did well, but “Do What U Want” has stalled at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Maybe flashing her backside on the cover art wasn’t the best message.

The album, to many reviewers, including me, felt too insular and delivered from the rarified air of fame, and, therefore, much less relatable that her previous efforts. Only so many of us can imagine—or care— what hanging with Donatella Versace is like. There are some strong songs on the album, especially “Dope” and “Gypsy,” that could lift the album back up, so, hopefully, they can provide a strong second half.

It’s nice that Lady Gaga apologized and I don’t doubt her sincerity and the depth of her anguish over what has happened to her latest labor of love, but maybe when she’s looking at who to blame, she needs to look in the mirror.

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