It’s a good time to be Billy Currington, with one--well, perhaps two-- exceptions. As the country singer’s career has soared and he’s moved from playing rough-and-tumble clubs to bigger venues, there’s been one downside: fewer women flashing him from the audience. “I saw a lot more boobs in my earlier days,” he laughs.
It’s all a trade-off he’s more than willing to make. Currington’s last four singles have gone straight to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. His most recent, the humorous “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer,” is the first single from “Enjoy Yourself,” his upbeat new album that comes out today, Sept. 21.
Hitfix talked to Currington about his fourth studio album and more.
In the video for “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer,” the lead has a hidden talent for Beer Pong. What’s one of your hidden talents?
I’m pretty good at casting a net for [fishing]. I only fish with a net. It’s a lot more fun. One of the last dinners I had, I caught with a cast net. A flounder and red fish. That’s who you’re talking to (laughs).
You set an attendance record this summer at the Kentucky State Fair. What was going through your mind when you’re looking out and seeing more than 20,000 people all there for you?
For me it was a visual of growth. I got to see it and let it in settle in: ‘Wow, we did get somewhere. We are making progress.’ All these things that we thought will never get here, we got here. That’s what was going through my mind... It’s an experience that I know a lot of people won’t get to have. I wish I could share it with anyone.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen, looking out into the audience?
A tornado in Canada. That was kind of weird, not fun. That was a mess... [Ed.’s note: Currington is being typically understated here. He suffered a concussion when the stage collapsed as he was performing, his bassist was injured and a spectator was killed.]
That had to be really frightening. What about something just odd, like women flashing you. That’s an evergreen, it seems.
I saw a lot more boobs in the earlier years (laughs). I don’t know, I think the places we’re playing [now], there’s a lot more security so you don’t see them getting as rowdy. There are shows every now and then.
Next up for you is touring with Carrie Underwood. What are you looking forward to on that tour?
What I’m looking forward to the most is playing before all these people she brings night after night, people that haven’t seen us before. It’s probably all girls coming to see her...That’s not a bad thing for us. We definitely hope there are some dudes there that can enjoy ‘Pretty Good at Drinking Beer’ and ‘People are Crazy.’
You duetted with Shania Twain a number of years ago. Whom would you most like to duet with now?
I’d say Colbie Caillat. I don’t know of any country artist that I would want to do one with more than her...I’d like to do one that we wrote together. [She’s] someone I’ve wanted to work with for awhile.
Four years ago, you did a video for “Must Be Doing Something Right” that was very sexy. You’ve stayed away from the really sexy videos lately. Was that on purpose?
‘Must Be Doing Something Right” was the first one with love scenes. There was a lot of sex involved. It definitely came off that way and I did a lot of interviews and I had to talk about that a bunch and [having] my shirt off. That was tied around the Playgirl interview. I felt like people thought I was this dude with his shirt off. I didn’t purposefully start recording hard core country songs,I just asked that those be the ones [my label put out as singles].
The sheer volume of releases slows slightly this week from last, but there are plenty of heavy hitters out Sept. 21 including new albums from Zac Brown Band, Maroon 5, Santana, Billy Currington and John Legend.
Zac Brown Band, “You Get What You Give” (Atlantic): The reigning Grammy best new artist winner follows up the double-platinum “The Foundation by continuing with its melange of country, rock, soul and blues that appeals to country and jam fans alike.
Paula Cole, “Ithaca” (Decca): After 2007’s jazz-oriented “Courage,” singer/songwriter Cole returns to her confessional song stylings, this time singing about motherhood, her divorce and finding love again.
Billy Currington, “Enjoy Yourself” (Mercury Nashville): Country singer landed his sixth straight No. 1 with first single, “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer.” The rest of the set follows the upbeat, feel-good tone fun. Michael Franti & Spearhead, “The Sound of Sunshine” (Boo Boo Wax/Capitol): Coming off the biggest pop hit of his career, last year’s feel-good ditty “Say Hey (I Love You),” Franti and Spearhead fill-up their seventh studio album with feel-good tunes inspired by Franti’s recovery from a burst appendix. http://www.hitfix.com/events/michael-franti-and-spearhead-the-sound-of-sunshine Selena Gomez & the Scene, “A Year Without Rain” (Hollywood): Disney starlet’s second studio album is off to a strong start with the title track climbing the Hot 100. The music is mainly meant for the teen and tween girl set, but she never panders to her audience.
John Legend & the Roots, “Wake Up” (Sony Music): Legend and the Roots combine to record some of the best-known soul songs from the 60s and ‘70s, all of which share a theme of activism and engagement, including Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes’ “Wake Up Everybody, and Marvin Gaye’s “Wholly Holy.”
Maroon 5, “Hands All Over” (A&M/Interscope): Adam Levine-led group returns with third album, produced by legendary producer Mutt Lange. It’s another collection of clean, upbeat pop, rock and funk lead by first single, “Misery.” Read review here. r
Methods of Mayhem, “A Public Disservice Announcement (Roadrunner): Tommy Lee-fronted band releases its second album in 11 years. The songs include demos the band posted online and fans then contributed to (We’re curious how the songwriting credits look).
Santana, “Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time” (Arista): Legendary guitarist pairs with the likes of Chris Cornell, Rob Thomas, Chris Daughtry, Gavin Rossdale, Pat Monahan and several others for this set of classic rock guitar tracks such as “Whole Lotta Love,” Sunshine of Your Love” and “Photograph.”
Serj Tankian, “Imperfect Harmonies” (Reprise): System of a Down’s Tankian’s second solo album is a rock set with elements of electronic and orchestral music. As usual, he doesn’t shy away from politics: “Yes, It’s Genocide” addresses last century’s Armenian genocide by the Turkish.
Ever since Maroon 5 arrived in 2002 with its multi-platinum debut “Songs About Jane,” the group has blended pop, rock and funk in a pleasing, but unedgy fashion. For third album, “Hands All Over” (and its first since 2007’s “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long”) the quintet enlisted producer Mutt Lange, best known for his work with Def Leppard and Shania Twain, who brings a pristine, high-gloss sheen to the band’s already crisp sound.
First single, “Misery,” took some time to grow on me, but the Top 10 hit showcases the best of Maroon 5: nimble, clean playing, catchy choruses and lead singer Adam Levine’s distinctive, high-pitched vocals. As evidenced since the band’s first hit, “This Love,” Maroon 5’s strength is its light touch. The members’ instruments seem to skip happily over the melodies in a way that some bands would confuse with lack of abiity. Instead, Maroon 5 is canny enough to know what each song needs and brings a fun bounce to the tracks.
The group’s weak point remains its lyrics, which are fairly forgettable, run the gamut from love found, love lost, love found again, and seldom rise about standard pop cliche. (Levine saves the drama for the band’s psycho-sexual videos, some notions of which we wish he’d reserve for his therapist).
Therefore, it’s best to judge Maroon 5 primarily on the songs’ feel and tone and there’s plenty on “Hands All Over” to keep the listener’s toes tapping, including “Stutter,” a nice, breezy shuffler, and “Don’t Know Nothin,’” a catchy, instant earworm of a song that has a bit of a Motown feel. It’s the best thing on the album. There’s nothing here that’s terrible, by any means, but there’s also nothing here that made me crave more Maroon 5.
For better or worse (and for us, it’s always been better), Lange’s signature is his ability to make a huge, layered pop sound and that is largely absent here, save two tunes. The title track, “Hands All Over” is a heavy thump of a song that sounds pure Lange with a big kick drum propelling it forward. “How” features a more layered sound that is vintage Lange. Maroon 5 also moves out of its comfort zone--easily so-- on “Out of Goodbyes,” a lovely mid-tempo ballad featuring Lady Antebellum that will work on current country radio as well as AC. Lady A Hilary Scott’s and Levine’s voices blend beautifully together.
Not everything succeeds: other than closing track ‘Out of Goodbyes,” the album runs out of steam after about two-thirds, but it’s an overall strong candidate. Maroon 5 doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, but expands its musical arc just enough to make fans feel like they aren’t buying a rehash of the first two albums.
Are the Black Eyed Peas playing the halftime show at the 2011 Super Bowl? Sports blog Sports by Brooks
wrote today that a source had confirmed the selection to him. The NFL declined to comment, but, as he notes, the Peas have a solid history with the NFL, including performing at the 2005 Super Bowl pre-game and at the 2009 NFL Kick-off Concert.
The last few years, the NFL has relied on veteran acts (and all males) such as The Who, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Prince. The BEP’s Fergie would be the first female to play the half-time since Janet Jackson in 2004. It's a good, mainstream choice that would keep the energy level up and draw in non-football playing fans and men who want to see Fergie.
Rolling Stone chimed in after Brooks’ report showed up and suggested that the Super Bowl may be leaning more in a country direction, quoting Fox Sports president David Hill, who said, “it’s kick-ass country down in Texas.” We’re not so sure he wasn’t speaking geographically, as opposed to musical genre.
Rolling Stone says the rumor mill includes Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks and Bon Jovi. Here’s our take on those three. McGraw: would be great as part of a package, but probably not on his own. Kenny Chesney, who has a new album out this fall, would be a better bet. Bring Jimmy Buffett and Dave Matthews on and now you’re cooking. Brooks: No. Not the right time. First, he and the NFL tussled when he did the “Star Spangled Banner” in 1993. We’re sure that riff is all healed, but Brooks is going to wait until he’s got something new to push and that means waiting until he’s done with his Vegas deal and his youngest is through high school. Look for him to possible do this in January 2015. In fact, if the NFL is smart, go ahead and book him now. Bon Jovi: Great, populist choice. They have a greatest hits coming out this November that is getting a huge worldwide push, so why not give them one of the biggest worldwide platforms. Plus, they can rock the house in a way that works perfectly with football fans. If, as some speculate, the half-time show is for all the non-football fans out there, then that still makes Bon Jovi the perfect choice.
We’re reached out to a representative for Black Eyed Peas and haven’t heard back. We’ll update when we do.
Who do you want to see perform at this year's Super Bowl half time show?
Linkin Park is back with "A Thousand Songs." Well, not literally...
Linkin Park’s “A Thousand Suns” has a slight edge over Trey Songz’ “Passion, Pain & Pleasure” for a close battle over No. 1 on the Billboard 200 going into the weekend.
Eminem’s “Recovery” is the only holdover from this week’s chart as six of the top seven slots are filled with newbies. Linkin Park and Songz will both handily top the 200,000 mark, but no other title will even approach 100,000.
Welcome to this week’s Music Power Rankings: the MTV Video Music Awards edition (or at least the first half, anyway). The show drew massive ratings and made instant stars out of Florence + the Machine. Lady Gaga used her VMA platform to repeatedly endorse gay rights and to announce the title of her forthcoming album. Taylor Swift graciously responded---one year later-- to Kanye’s dis at last year’s awards and the Bieb... well, he's starting to make us a Belieber. That’s all we’re saying.
To our mind, Kelly Rowland has never gotten the post- Destiny’s Chid mainstream stardom she deserves. Sure, she’s had her moments and experienced strong dance club support, but maybe “Rose-Colored Glasses” will finally do it.
The mid-tempo ballad details a horrible relationship that all her friends don’t see. “They see the lies/I see the truth,” she sings, later adding, “I can’t believe all this time my pain just brought you pleasure.”
The video is mainly a fashion showcase for Rowland instead of any kind of literal telling of the story. She changes outfits and hairstyles about a million times and looks fantastic throughout. We see the villain a few times, but mainly he just glowers at her.
Fresh off her eight wins at MTV’s Video Music Awards Sunday night, Lady Gaga, revealed details about “Born This Way,” at a concert in Philadelphia Tuesday night.
“It was killing me, I wanted to tell you my new album title so bad... it was almost like I was having trouble coming out on stage. The new album is finished...And I’m so proud of it. You know how I am about everything whether it’s this song. I just get so wrapped up in the ideas and the music and the imagery and what I want to do. I’m living in the new album," she says in the video we found on gagadaily.com.
“I’ve never worked so hard on anything my whole life,” she continues. “I just can’t wait for you to hear it,” describing the creation process as all-consuming.
She then launches into “You and I,” which she debuted in concert earlier this summer. “It’s going to get real heavy in here,” she said, so if so inclined, “you might want to light up a joint about right now,” before quickly adding, “I’m not promoting drug use.”
As you’ll see below, the song has morphed a little from its earlier unveiling, including a crazy part where she plays guitar with her boot.
Katy Perry’s “Dream” continues as “Teenage Dream,” stays at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row. This means she and Eminem have had a lot on the No. 1 spot for the last four months between “California Gurls,” “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna, and now “Dreams.”
Who’s in position to end their stranglehold? It could be Bruno Mars, whose “Just the Way You Are” moves 4-3 on the Hot 100 and into the top spot on Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs chart. The song is also gaining radio listeners which bodes well for its continued ascension, according to Billboard.biz.
Also in contention is Rihanna. Her poppy “Only Girl (In the World” debuts at No. 42 on this week’s chart, but Billboard predicts digital sales of around 200,000 and airplay will propel it into the top 5 and, possibly, No. 1.
Other noteworthy moves on the Hot 100 include Flo Rida’s fifth Top 10 with “Club Can’t Handle Me” featuring David Guetta, which moves 13-9. The track has already sold 743,000 downloads. Disney cutie Selena Gomez and her group, The Scene, mark their third debut in the Top 40 with “A Year Without Rain,” the first single and title track from her Sept. 21 album.
Michael Buble, coming off his biggest pop hit yet (“Haven’t Met You Yet”), enters the Hot 100 with “Hollywood.” The track, off of the deluxe “Crazy Love Hollywood Edition,” coming Oct. 25, bows at No. 55. “Haven’t Met You Yet” peaked at No. 24.
In a sad note, the death of LFO’s Rich Cronin sends digital downloads of the trio’s biggest hit, “Summer Girls,” soaring. The track, which reached No. 3 in 1999, sees a 502% gain in downloads following his passing.
Is BC Jean the future of pop music? Clive Davis would like for you to believe so. The legendary music executive (we have him to thank for artists ranging Patti Smith to Whitney Houston) hosted a party for key music journalists and radio programmers on Monday to introduce us to the spunky newcomer. Davis, whose career spans more than five decades, is founder of Arista Records and J Records, but now holds the title of Chief Creative Office for Sony Music.
Jean’s main accomplishment is penning Beyonce’s lovely “If I Were a Boy”--no small feat considering she just turned 23. Davis believes she has the potential to be the next Alanis Morissette or Pink. He also thinks she can be an artist who sells albums, not just digital downloads.
Before he played five tracks from Jean’s forthcoming debut album, he lamented how Top 40 disenfranchises so many artists. It’s a topic most executives are too afraid to bring up for fear of pissing off programmers, but he’s absolutely right. While Top 40 is opening back up, for the last few years it has been dominated by urban-leaning pop. Trends are always cyclical, but it’s been quite a long cycle with very few rock bands breaking through (remember, we’re talking only Top 40 airplay here) or male singer/songwriters.
Davis also scoffed at the popular notion that the world no longer needs labels and that an artist can simply disseminate his or her music via the internet and achieve mainstream success. On this point, I agree with Davis. To be sure, there are acts that can make great livings and earn large followings without a label’s assistance, but at some point--for now--they reach a plateau simply because unless they are independently wealthy, they don’t have the money to promote songs to radio or produce professional videos. The landscape has been changing for the past decade, but we’re not to the point where major labels--or labels in general--have become obsolete. Jeff Castalez, who runs Dangerbird Records, best known as home of Silversun Pickups, said it best to the LA Times recently--and we’re paraphasing: instead of only a few skyscrapers (i.e.the four major record companies), we’re morphing to where there are many two-and-three story buildings. In the short term, Davis is absolutely right: to reach the mass mainstream, most artists still need to be signed to a major--or at least to a large indie. There are a handful of exceptions, like Ingrid Michaelson, but they are very rare, and even they often hire major labels for some kind of distribution or other services.
So back to Jean. Davis played tracks written by Jean with such ringers as the Matrix, Max Martin and Ryan Tedder (she also had a co-writer for “It I Were a Boy” in Toby Gad). They were straight-up pop tunes, mainly propelled by a massive beat. Davis is thinking Alanis, I’m hearing Avril Lavigne. First single, “Just A Guy,” which went to radio this week, is a galloping rush of a song that will be catnip to female-oriented Top 40. The other stand-out track was mid-tempo ballad, “Anyone,” which could be her “I’m With You.”
Jean then came out to perform the same songs that Davis had just played us, but the move served two purposes: it started to build familiarity with the material--which is key to any pop tune’s success-- and showed that Jean can deliver. In fact, she sounded better and edgier live in some cases than on the slickly-produced tracks, especially on “Narcissistic Boys,” which took on a perky, Gwen-Stefani feel live that has been washed out of the recorded version.
Do we think she’s an album artist? Davis has more knowledge in his pinkie than we have in our whole body, but we don’t think so. If nothing else, Katy Perry’s weak opening album sales for “Teenage Dream” two weeks ago--combined with her tremendously strong digital singles downloads--showed that even loyal followers of a pop artist prefer to buy a la carte on a song-by-song basis. Do we think a year from now “Just a Guy” will have sold 2 million downloads. Yes, we do.