Plus, listen to Best Coast reinvent Fleetwood Mac's 'Rhiannon'
Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and Iggy Pop have paired together for “Let’s Boot and Rally,” a song that will be featured in the July 8 episode of HBO’s “True Blood.”
The tune, co-written by “True Blood’s” music supervisor Gary Calamar and James Combs, will premiere on Santa Monica’s KCRW (where Calamar also DJs) on July 5 at 10:20 a.m. Not much word on how it sounds yet, other than KCRW calls it a “punk rock duet.”
Cosentino expressed her excitement over recording with Iggy Pop on Best Coast’s twitter feed, while Iggy Pop said in a statement, “I’ve always liked to bit. I guess that means me a vampire. Does this mean I have a license to suck?” Oh, Iggy....
While we have to wait a hot minute to hear the collaboration, fans can listen to Best Coast’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” right now right here. The song is on the “Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac,” a tribute album out Aug. 14 that also features MGMT, Lykke Li and others. NIcks' swirl has been replaced by Consentino's pep-rally perkiness.
As you can hear here, Best Coast takes the mystery and drama Stevie Nicks infused in the song and reinvents the tune as a complete pop turn filtered through a girl-group sensibility complete with hand claps. You’re either going to love it or hate it, but you have to give BC credit: they made the song their own.
Top 40 radio sounds better than it has in years: Carly Rae Jepsen, Bieber, Adele, fun.
Are we in a golden era of pop music?
Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen the tide turn from the hip-hop/urban cycle that had dominated pop radio for several years to a hybrid of pop/hip-hop. Now, we’re in the full flush of a pure pop resurgence. Beats were king for a very long time, now melody is pushing through again and the two are nestled comfortably together on the Hot 100 in the most diverse roster of artists and sounds to co-exist on the chart in decades.
Plus, there’s an influx of new artists pouring into pop, which is crucial for any movement to expand: Two weeks ago, we saw a harmonic convergence that hasn’t occurred in 35 years: As Billboard noted, fun., Gotye, and Carly Rae Jepson logged consecutive No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time since 1977 that baby acts have succeeded themselves in the top spot with their first charting single. Furthermore, these songs, all straight-ahead pop songs with melodies that you can sing to, are sticky with each spending multiple weeks at No. 1.
Throw in One Direction and The Wanted, plus Justin Bieber’s coming into his own as a pop artist so you have the all-important teen/tween idol factor covered; the continuation of success by strong R&B and rap-leaning artists like Nicki Minaj and Usher, and the ongoing integration of dance into Top 40 via artists like David Guetta (and his revolving line-up of guests) and there’s something for everyone.
How did the shift occur? First off, it happened simply because pop has always moved in trends. This current pop cycle won’t last forever: something more exciting will come in and replace it. I credit two artists with starting this round: Adele and Bruno Mars provided Top 40 radio with singles whose sound wasn’t in fashion with what was clogging playlists yet were too good to be denied. And props also go to Katy Perry and Rihanna for continually feeding the pop monster with non-stop hits. They have totally owned pop radio for the last two years and seldom been out of the Top 10.
So let’s rewind a bit and turn back the clock to the end of 2010: Mars’ massive “Just The Way You Are,” a soulful ballad with a chugging R&B beat (you can hear the shift starting there) was headed straight to No. 1 as Adele’s stomping (and also very rhythmic) “Rolling In the Deep” was hitting the airwaves, making inroads on a chart that had recently had little tolerance for straight-ahead singers.
If there had been no “Rollin in the Deep,” which debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 exactly 18 months ago, I’m fairly convinced there would have been no “Somebody That I Used To Know” at No. 1. The biggest crossover hit in the last 25 years was a total game changer when it came to pop radio because it gave radio stations the freedom to expand their playlists. “People never stopped liking pop records. [Top 40 program directors] stopped thinking pop records fit,” says Sean Ross. Ross was radio editor at Billboard during part of my time there and now writes the insightful “Ross on Radio” column for Radio-Info.com. He knows more about trends in radio than anyone else I know, so I asked him why he thought this was happening. “After Adele, playing something seemingly exotic no longer felt like jeopardizing one’s job,” he says.
And from there, it gave artists the courage to try different things. Ross notes Taylor Swift’s “Eyes Open” from “The Hunger Games” and Katy Perry’s current shapeshifting single “Wide Awake,” which is already in the Top 10. Though “Eyes Open” peaked at No. 19, and its predecessor, the gorgeous “Safe & Sound” by Swift featuring the Civil Wars, stalled at No. 30 (and were driven more by downloads than airplay), they still made inroads and their radio spins helped give Swift’s career some additional heft.
Ross also points out that the connection between TV licensing and Top 40 radio has never been stronger: Exhibit A, of course, being fun.’s “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae, which leapt straight from a Chevy commercial onto the upper reaches of the pop charts. Cast members of both “Glee” and “Smash” covered Adele’s “Rumour Has It” before it hit radio, plus the song logged several other placements, making it familiar to many before it ever went to radio.
Furthermore, while part of Top 40’s charm is its ability to produce one-hit wonders, it feels like many of the songs in this current era will age well: Most of Adele’s hits sound timeless, and “Somebody That I Used To Know” still sounds inventive and like nothing else around it with virtually no burnout factor. To be sure, the electroclash of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” already screams summer of 2011, but, sometimes, sounding dated isn’t a bad thing.
While it's tempting to ask how many of these artists will we still be hearing from five years from now, that's not the point of Top 40. The genre, now more so than it has ever been, is about the song, not the artist. That's what makes the strings of hits that artists like Rihanna and Katy Perry have been able to cobble together all the more impressive. By its very nature, pop music has a fleeting, of-the-moment, ephemeral quality that captures a certain moment.
Where do we go from here? I’d like to make a bold prediction: I bet six months from now, we see the totally abused and overused “featured artist” phenomenon greatly wane. Rappers are the ones who really started the culture for it by adding their friends and label mates on to tracks, often as a way to introduce new acts (Fun fact: Lil Wayne just logged his 100th (!!!) tune on the R&B chart not only because of his own success but because he’s been featured on so many songs by other artists). The trend caught hold and many pop acts started doing it because they wanted to work with certain rappers or they wanted their records to stand a better shot while Top 40 was so urban-leaning. It still has its place, but hopefully artists will be featured on a song because of creative and artistic decisions instead of solely marketing ones.
But in the meantime, for my fellow pop fans, join me as we hop in the car, put down the windows and hear Minaj’s “Starships” (a song that I love no matter what anyone else thinks) roll into “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which segues into “Call Me Maybe” and then Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” and let’s sing along at the top of our lungs.
What do you think?
Follow Melinda Newman on Twitter @HitfixMelinda
British group penned the songs for Aug. 12 Hyde Park gig
Blur will debut two songs via Twitter, we presume not 140 characters at a time, on July 2.
The British band wrote the new tracks, “Under the Westway” and “The Puritan,” for its upcoming Hyde Park show on Aug. 12, which will close the London Olympics.
Fans can go to @blurofficial at 6:15 p.m. British Standard Time (that would be 1:15 p.m. EDT and 10:15 a.m. PDT, we think...) on July 2 to hear and watch the band play the songs, as well as listen to an interview--all beaming from an undisclosed London rooftop. Immediately following the performances, the songs will be available for download. A limited edition 7-inch single will come out Aug. 6.
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Check out what else they get their hands on
Sophistication means different things to different people. For rapper Rick Ross, according to the video for “So Sophisticated,” it means hanging out with Meek Mill near his two Maybachs, giving a shout-out to the prison population, spending time in an abattoir with a sharp knife, rapping in a semi-undressed state, name dropping the late, great Walter Payton, shilling Ciroc, and talking about women’s lady parts with words we can’t print. Different strokes...
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The tale of a man and his goldfish
Love is a battlefield. At least for Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. In the group’s new video for “One More Night, “ he and his baby mama can’t live with each other but can’t live apart. Or at least she feels that way.
Even though Levine is singing about not being able to do this anymore, it turns out it’s his wife, who has leaving on her mind. And when your wife is played by "Friday Night Lights'" Minka Kelly, that’s a pretty big loss. And the "FNL" connection doesn't end there: "FNL" developer Peter Berg directed the video.
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Summer set includes career-spanning DV
Jennifer Lopez will shimmy her way back into record stores with “Dance Again...The Hits,” out July 24 on Epic Records.
The CD/DVD collection spans her entire career including her latest tracks, ?“Dance Again” featuring Pitbull and “Goin’ In” featuring Flo Rida. The deluxe edition includes three bonus tracks: “All I Have,” “Que Hiciste,” and Let’s Get Loud.”
The "American Idol" judge starts a summer tour with Enrique Iglesias July 14. She performed in Brazil on June 23.
"DANCE AGAIN….THE HITS"
1. Dance Again featuring Pitbull
2. Goin' In featuring Flo Rida
3. I'm Into You featuring Lil Wayne
4. On The Floor featuring Pitbull?
5. Love Don't Cost A Thing?
6. If You Had My Love?
7. Waiting For Tonight?
8. Get Right featuring Fabolous?
9. Jenny From The Block (Track Masters Remix featuring Styles P. & Jadakiss)?
10. I'm Real (Remix featuring Ja Rule)?
11. Do It Well?
12. Ain't It Funny (Remix featuring Ja Rule & Caddillac Tah)?
13. Feelin' So Good (Remix featuring Big Pun & Fat Joe)
14. All I Have featuring LL Cool J
15. Que Hiciste
16. Let's Get Loud
1. Dance Again featuring Pitbull?
2. On The Floor featuring Pitbull
3. Love Don't Cost A Thing
4. If You Had My Love
5. Waiting For Tonight?
6. Get Right?
7. Jenny From The Block
8. I'm Real (Remix featuring Ja Rule)?
9. Do It Well?
10. Ain't It Funny (Remix featuring Ja Rule & Caddillac Tah)
11. Feelin' So Good (Remix featuring Big Pun & Fat Joe)
SoCal rock group adds some fresh elements to its thrash
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating A
On their last two albums— 2007’s “Minutes To Midnight” and 2010’s “A Thousand Suns”— the members of Linkin Park were feeling their oats a little, bucking the musical conventions that had made them a multi-platinum act, but now felt confining instead of defining.
For “Living Things,” out Tuesday (26), the Los Angeles band took a breath, regrouped, and returns with an album that pulls in all the elements that made millions of rock/rap fans love them initially, but they manage to shake it up plenty in fresh and sometimes surprising ways.
The angry young men on 2000’s “Hybrid Theory” may all now well be on the far side of 30, but they’ve still found plenty to get their dander up. Whether it’s betrayal or loss, as on opening track, “Lost in the Echo” or on the mindbendingly vitriolic “Lies Greed Misery,” there’s always some blistering screed they need to get off their collective chest that has been festering.
For fans of the Linkin Park template —Chester Bennington sings and then usually starts to scream his lungs out, before or after Mike Shinoda has rapped and some keyboards have tinkered around— that is still intact to great effect, as on “Burn It Down,” the album’s wildly successful first single.
However, then comes something like the aforementioned “Lies Greed Misery,” which sounds like an unholy alliance between Erasure, Kanye West, Skrillex and M.I.A. before it explodes wide open as Bennington repeatedly screams “You did it to yourself” at a level that will peel paint off the walls. “Castle of Glass” begins with a genial chugging that sounds downright countrified, as the band sings “I’m only a crack in this castle of glass” with a lulling resignation.
Linkin Park’s appeal to its followers, or this fan at least, is the catharsis its songs often provide. I was a recent transplant to Los Angeles from New York when Linkin Park broke through with “Hybrid Theory.” I remember playing songs like “Crawling” or “In The End” in my car and they matched every bit of anxiety and angst that comes with starting over. There has always been something about Linkin Park’s music from that day on that has always tapped into an underlying, hidden hurt and rage that feels left over from adolescence. It scabs over, but never heals.
As producer Rick Rubin, who worked with the band for the third time, explained at a Q&A and listening party for the band last week, they write piecemeal. He compared them more to programmers than a traditional band: each member brings in his part and they songs are Frankensteined together. For Linkin Park’s detractors, that means the songs sound disjointed with disparate elements coming out of nowhere and shape shift with seemingly no rhyme or reason, but given how much pop radio now throws in a rap on almost every pop song, in some ways it sounds like everyone else finally caught up with Linkin Park’s way of doing things.
One of the constants that holds “Living Things” together is Rob Bourdon’s drumming. He bring a military-like rat-a-tat to such songs as on “In My Remains” or “Until It Breaks,” especially when it feels like all the parts could come unhinged at any minute unless tied down.
Two of the tracks weigh in under two minutes each and all 12 songs amount to less than 38 minutes, but there’s a density and a thrash to the songs that make any stretching or filler not only unnecessary but undesirable. By the time the album wraps with the echo-y, throbbing “Powerless” (also the end title for “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”), you’ll be ready for a little breather.
Which two 70 year-olds make this week's list?
1. Justin Bieber: “Believe” may have received mixed reviews, but his legions of fans will propel the new album not only to the top of the Billboard 200 next week, but give it the biggest opening week of 2012. Fun fact: Bieber has 23.7 million Twitter followers: that’s more than the population of Australia.
2. Coachella: The desert festival grosses $47 million by expanding to two weekends; $44 million of that is from water sales.
3. Lil Wayne: The rapper logs his 100th song on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart as the featured artist on French Montana’s “Pop That.” Up next, he will be the featured artist on my cat’s next single, “Furrrrballin’.”
4.Universal- EMI Merger: The Senate Judiciary committee anti-trust subcommittee holds often testy hearings on the proposed union, while news hits that New Zealand has approved the deal. Next up: Luxembourg!
5. David Lowery: The Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker frontman breaks down the mechanics of downloading music for free and how it hurts artists and songwriters and, ultimately, you, the fan. Not quite as catchy as CVB’s cover of “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” but equally compelling.
6. Katy Perry: The pop princess tells The Hollywood Reporter that she plans to launch her own label. She hasn’t picked a name, but we’re rooting for Kitty Purry Records.
7. Fiona Apple: She can’t come up with a short album title to save her life, but “The Idler Wheel (blah, blah, blah...), her first album in several years, sends sensitive critics rushing to their boxes of tissues as she manages to reopen every scabbed-over wound.
8. Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson: Who knew these musical titans were born two days apart! They turned 70 this week and are both still selling out shows like kids one-third their age. Rock on.
9. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: Will the lovebirds be the next superstar act headed for Las Vegas? Robin Leach says yes, and even though a rumored announcement was scotched on Thursday, that’s good enough for me.
10. Jimmy Fallon: The late night talk show host lands at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 with “Blow Your Pants Off,” his first appearance in 10 years on the chart. The title sells 15,000, which might not sound like much until you realize it’s nearly twice as much as Hot Chip’s new set. Perspective.
Which album holds the title now?
Justin Bieber’s "Beliebers" will handily propel his new studio album, “Believe” to the top of the Billboard 200 next week, providing the teen sensation with the largest opening numbers of any set this year.
“Believe” will be the first album of 2012 to surpass 400,000 in opening week sales, with projections catapulting the set as high as 425,000, according to Hits Daily Double. The previous best first week frame this year belonged to Madonna’s “MDNA.”
The top three title will all be new: Kenny Chesney’s “Welcome To The Fishbowl” will likely to the 200,000 mark to come in at No. 2 and Fiona Apple’s “Idler Wheel...,” her first set in seven years, will bow at No. 3 with sales of around 70,000 copies.
The only other debut in the Top 10 will belong to Smashing Pumpkins’ “Oceania,” which looks good for No. 7.
This week’s No. 1, Usher’s “Looking 4 Myself,” tumbles to No. 4, while Adele’s “21,” slips to No. 5, its lowest position since it debuted 16 months ago.
Despite poor box office numbers, the soundtrack to “Rock of Ages” remains a steady seller at No. 6, moving up to 50,000 copies.
One Direction’s “Up All Night” will be at No. 8, while Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” and Alan Jackson’s “Thirty Miles West” look good for No. 9 and 10, but are running neck and neck with two days left before the charts close on Sunday night.
Lead singer works on his boxing skills in new clip
Maroon 5’s video for new single, “One More Night,” will bow Monday at 7:53 p.m. ET on MTV, but in the meantime, you can enjoy a sneak preview.
It looks like lead singer/"The Voice" mentor Adam Levine continues to exercise his acting chops and prep for his upcoming roles in "American Horror Story" and "Can A Song Save Your Life.". After playing a bank robber in the clip for “Payphone,” he’s a boxer here. Any reason to show off those abs, right Adam? To be fair, the song, which deals with Levine trying to get out of a bad relationship that leaves him feeling horrible, until the next time he crawls back.
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