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?”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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:
State College, PA
Atlantic City, NJ
Baton Rouge, LA**
Twin Lakes, WI* **
Detroit Lakes, MN **
Prairie du Chien, WI* **
St. Louis, MO
Saratoga Springs, NY
Virginia Beach, VA
San Diego, CA
Mountain View, CA
Sioux Falls, SD
West Palm Beach, FL
San Antonio, TX
* Florida Georgia Line will not appear
** Tyler Farr will not appear
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?
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.
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.
For Bruce Springsteen fans— and I am an unabashed, unapologetic one— dropping the needle on a new album is a moment full of excitement, hopeful expectation, and not a small amount of anxiety. For longtime fans, we have a lot— perhaps too much— invested in Springsteen because we know how good his music can make us feel and the deliverance it can provide at its peak.
With “High Hopes,” out officially Jan. 14, but streaming on CBS.com now, fans didn’t know quite what to expect since the album is a mix of three covers, some already familiar songs newly recorded with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and a handful of never released tunes.
Such an odds-and-sods collection can be just an excuse to dump old material, but here, Springsteen has created an album that, surprisingly, hangs together pretty well (despite a few bumpy transitions such as from “American Skin” into “Just Like Fire Would”). Springsteen has written about dashed hopes and disappointments his entire career, so bringing together a number of songs on the topic that span more than a decade doesn’t provide any major conceptual challenge.
Produced largely by “Wrecking Ball’s” Ron Aniello, “High Hopes” marks the first time Springsteen has recorded a studio album while he was on tour and the result is an energy that leaps out from much of the material, including the title track. Plus, he’s excited as a puppy with a new pal over the freshness he feels Morello, who filled in for Steven Van Zandt on the Australian leg last year, brings to the band. Even if you don’t agree with his assessment of Morello, who plays on eight tracks here, there’s no denying the pep Morello adds to Springsteen’s already damn peppy step.
Not every album has to be a masterpiece —and this is not one— but nor should it be discounted as a placeholder or a throwaway. Instead, it’s as Springsteen called it in his own words, a bit of an “anomaly.” For hardcore fans, you’ll hear traces of previously recorded songs in most of these and part of the fun is figuring out where you would have sequenced them on past albums.
As Springsteen showed on 1998’s “Tracks,” the excellent 4-CD box set of songs that didn’t make earlier albums, a tune doesn’t always get cut because it’s bad—most of the tracks here are far above average—they just needed to wait a little longer for their time in the spotlight.
“High Hopes” doesn’t bring the rush of a new album full of a batch of recently-birthed songs, but it still has plenty of delights.
Below is a track-by-track review of “High Hopes”:
“High Hopes”: The title track and first single, a cover of a song by LA-based band The Havalinas written by Tim Scott McConnell, is a tight, percussion and horn-driven mid-tempo rocker that is a good shuffler for concert. Lyrically it kicks off the album with a certain amount of world weariness-yet-hopefulness- that hints at what’s to come. GRADE: B
“Harry’s Place”: Gritty and propulsive, “Harry’s Place” has some good lyrics, but thematically and production wise, it sounds like it would have fit in perfectly to an episode of “Miami Vice” in the mid-‘80s, which is strange since it was written around 2007 about the Bush administration for the excellent “Magic” album. Singing part of the song through a bullet mike and the rest in a gravelly, mysterious voice does the tune no favors (though it worked great on "Reason To Believe"). Morello’s shredding is somewhat wasted here. Admit it, you can hear Glenn Frey singing this right after he finishes “You Belong To the City.” GRADE: C
“American Skin (41 Shots)”: Originally written to protest the brutal 1999 police killing of Amadou Ballo Diallo —he was an unarmed black immigrant whom the police shot at 41 times—and first performed on the reunion tour in 2000, “American Skin” has matured gracefully. On the newly recorded version, Springsteen trades in some of the anger of the original for a sense of melancholy and resignation, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin killing. The verse about the mother reminding her son to never talk back to the police retains its initial sadness, although the song still feels unwieldy. GRADE: B-
“Just Like Fire Would”: Originally recorded by Australian band The Saints (and covered by Springsteen during this tour down under), this jangly upbeat track will thrill fans of tunes like “Girls In Their Summer Clothes.” It’s about as pop as Springsteen gets and is a reminder of how great he sounds when he indulges his pure pop side. Nice Beatlesque horns life the track even higher. GRADE: B
“Down In The Hole”: Produced by Brendan O’Brien and originally written for “The Rising,” the mid-tempo, organ-drenched tune is about 9/11 as he sings about “wake to find my city’s gone to black...” and “I’m going to dig right here until I get you back.” There’s a chugging beat similar to “I’m on Fire.” Quietly devastating. GRADE: B
“Heaven’s Wall”: A repetitive, clap-along, gospel-inflected song that consists mainly of “Raise your hands, raise your hands, raise your hands... “ for lyrics. Springsteen does biblical references and gospel well, especially in the refrain of songs like “The Rising,” and this is more of a chance for him to do that without the heaviness. You don’t find yourself saying this often about a Springsteen tune, but there’s a great dance remix in here dying to be made. GRADE: B
“Frankie Fell In Love”: A loose-limbed track that starts acoustic and then bursts into a full-on band tune originally recorded for “Magic.” Between Springsteen’s relaxed vocals, country inflections, and generally upbeat tone: “it all starts with a kiss,” as he reminds us, “Frankie” is a fun, lightweight track that’s not meant to have any deeper meaning. GRADE: B-
“This Is Your Sword”: Celtic-flavored “This Is Your Sword” is an upbeat sweet song about “giving all the love you have in your soul” on the battlefield of love. Musically, it’s redolent of “American Land” and fans of “The Seeger Sessions” will love it for its acoustic drive. It’s good on record, but it’s one of those tracks that could really soar live. GRADE: B
“Hunter of Invisible Game”: One of the best tracks on the album, produced by Brendan O’Brien. The lilting, string-laden waltz beat is in contrast to the lyrics that are quite dark as he sinks down to the valley “where the beast has its throne.” It’s a track where everything gels about the passage of time and love. It’s easy to get lost in and it features one of his best, if Dylanesque, vocals. GRADE: A-
“The Ghost of Tom Joad”: As fans who have witnessed it in person know, Morello’s addition on the title track from the 1995 album turns it into a ferocious monster with Morello and Springsteen trading guitar licks between singing about the loss of the American Dream. Morello started performing the tune with the band in 2008 and the version here is pretty similar to the one fans hear live with Springsteen generously handing the keys to the car to Morello, who soars off into prog-rock territory during this last extended solo. Despite the pyrotechnics, the song still retains its original poignancy and call for justice. GRADE: B+
“The Wall”: A mournful track about Vietnam that even references Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who led the escalation of U.S. troops in that war. Elegant and ghostly, Springsteen sings in the track about the wall that built up around the soldiers and their families and about the Vietnam Wall memorial in D.C. Stark and haunting and unforgiving: not toward the soldiers who fought, but to those who sent them there. GRADE: A-
“Dream Baby Dream”: Springsteen began performing a hypnotic version of the Suicide tune around 2005 with just him and an organ on the “Devils & Dust” solo tour. This studio version is shorter and loses a little of the mesmerizing intensity of the live version with some added instrumentation. It’s more of a sweet benediction than the magnetic solo version, but compelling nonetheless. Plus, from “The Wall” to “Dream Baby Dream” is the album’s best transition. GRADE: B
Will you buy "High Hopes?"