dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

US Chart Roundup: A Look Back At The Year In #1 Singles

It's officially the final chart week of 2014, with Taylor Swift ruling yet again on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Blank Space." The music industry publication dates this thing as December 27, so that's what we'll go by then.

Now, how about a stroll down memory lane? Altogether, here's how the year went as far as chart-topping singles:

* Eminem feat. Rihanna, "The Monster" (2 weeks at #1 in 2014, 2 in 2013)
* Pitbull feat. Kesha, "Timber" (3 weeks)
* Katy Perry feat. Juicy J, "Dark Horse" (4 weeks)
* Pharrell Williams, "Happy" (10 weeks)
* John Legend, "All Of Me" (3 weeks)
* Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX, "Fancy" (7 weeks)
* MAGIC!, "Rude" (6 weeks)
* Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off (4 weeks)
* Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass" (8 weeks)
* Taylor Swift, "Blank Space" (5 weeks)

Gosh, what a fantastic year for music.

Okay, that was sarcasm. What would have been nice to see is, say, "Rather Be," "Habits," "Hideaway" and "Jealous" up there on that list somewhere. But that's me, always rooting for the underdogs of pop. I will say, hats off go to Max Martin, who, as a producer, spent 13 weeks at #1 thanks to "Dark Horse," "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space." Who ought to be clocked in the head, though, for the latter two.

I think if I had to pick my personal favorites from that motley crew above — i.e. the songs that don't make me want to push my face through a closed window at this point — they would be "Timber" (face it — it's a fucking jam) and "Dark Horse." The rest can all go fuck themselves.

At any rate, even though Sam Smith didn't make it to the top of the chart this year with "Stay With Me" or "Latch," he does manage to squeeze in his second Top 5 single here in the States at the very end of 2014, as "I'm Not The Only One" climbs up to #5 this week.

On that note, I'll sign off with all these chart shenanigans for now. I've got a bit of a break from work coming up, so expect this place to actually get filled up with posts sometime very soon (tonight, even)...what a novel concept!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *5 weeks*
2. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
3. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
4. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
5. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
6. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
7. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
8. "Animals" - Maroon 5
9. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd
10. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars Funk Each Other

Mark Ronson came close to topping the UK chart twice before, with 2007 singles "Stop Me" (featuring Daniel Merriweather...what ever happened to him and his nice mouth?) and "Valerie" (featuring Amy Winehouse), which each landed at #2. But here we are at the tail-end of 2014, and the 39-year-old producer has finally hit the top of the chart in his home country.

Ronson does so with his latest Bruno Mars collaboration, "Uptown Funk." Catchy little tune, this one. Of course, it's currently in the Top 5 here in the States, and by February I'll want to shoot my face every time I hear it.

Oh well, for a bit of nice counter-programming, Oliver Heldens and KStewart's new version of "Koala" (now with the added "Last All Night" in the title) goes into the chart at #5.


The UK Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *new* *1 week*
2. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
3. "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Band Aid 30
4. "These Days" - Take That
5. "Last All Night (Koala)" - Oliver Heldens feat. KStewart *new*
6. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
7. "Night Changes" - One Direction
8. "Wrapped Up" - Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy
9. "Outside" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding
10. "Real Love" - Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Here Are A Bunch Of Asses

We've now reached the point in time where Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor are tied for female with the most weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014. Can you think of two more worthy artistes? Can you?

Meghan has the slight edge since she racked up all eight of those weeks with one song, "All About That Bass." Honestly, I think I'd rather nail my tongue to a piece of plywood and drill my eyeballs out of my head than ever hear that song again, so my goal is to at least make it to 2015 without doing so.

Taylor, whose "Blank Space" has been #1 for four weeks now, also had a four-week run with "Shake It Off."

Have a super depressing day!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *4 weeks*
2. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
3. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
4. "Animals" - Maroon 5
5. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
6. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
7. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
8. "Lips Are Movin" - Meghan Trainor
9. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
10. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Take That's 'III' Is #1

With Ed Sheeran's snoozefest "Thinking Out Loud" returning to the top of the UK chart five weeks after it initially went to #1, Take That's "These Days" gets pushed down to #3.

Meanwhile, the That's seventh album III becomes their sixth to hit the top the album chart after selling 145,000 copies. That's a far cry from the 520,000 the band's last album, Progress, racked up in its first week back in 2010 (250,000 of which was done in the first day alone), but they had the benefit of people jamming Barbie Doll legs up themselves back then over the return of Robbie Williams.

Plus, Howard Donald is still a super sexy piece of hot tail, so whatever.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran *2 weeks*
2. "You Got It All" - Union J *new*
3. "These Days" - Take That
4. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
5. "Wrapped Up" - Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy
6. "Real Love" - Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
7. "I Loved You" - Blonde feat. Melissa Steel *new*
8. "Steal My Girl" - One Direction
9. "Dangerous" - David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
10. "Outside" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

US Chart Roundup: "Hanging Tree" Chanteuse Jennifer Lawrence Is The Pop Star You've Been Waiting For

There are some new chart rules or something where album streams are going to now count toward Billboard 200 chart positions in addition to sales, but, honestly, the real news is that Jennifer Lawrence is now a pop music superstar with a hit single at #12 on the Hot 100.

JLaw's hot jam comes courtesy of the latest Hunger Games flick, and it's just a matter of time before this broad does the inevitable and gets in the studio with Pharrell to cut an album.

And look — there's even a dance remix.


The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *3 weeks*
2. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
5. "Animals" - Maroon 5
6. "The Heart Wants What It Wants" - Selena Gomez
7. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
8. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
9. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo
10. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Take That's "These Days" Becomes The DILF Troupe's 12th #1 Single

They may be down to only three members, but DILF gods Take That have secured their 12th chart-topping single in the UK with "These Days." The band's string of #1s began back in summer 1993 with the release of "Pray." Back then the That were comprised of the classic lineup: Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange.

Six more #1s followed between 1993 and 1995, and after Williams' departure (in '95), Take That managed to hit the top one last time in 1996, with a cover of the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love," before splitting.

Cut to 10 years later, when the group returned in November 2006 as a four-piece (sans Williams) with comeback single "Patience." (I can't believe that was eight years ago.) The song became Take That's ninth UK #1, and was followed in the chart-topping department by "Shine" in 2007 and "Greatest Day" in 2008.

"These Days" performance On 'The Graham Norton Show'

TT have the distinction of hitting #1 as a quintet, a quartet and, now, a trio. It's all very surprising, as I thought for sure the guys were bound for flopdom this time around. Oh, well — long live Howard's pecs!

The band's new album III goes on sale tomorrow.

The UK Top 10:

1. "These Days" - Take That *new* *1 week*
2. "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Band Aid 30
3. "Wrapped Up" - Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy
4. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
5. "Real Love" - Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
6. "Steal My Girl" - One Direction
7. "Jealous" - Labrinth *new*
8. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
9. "Dangerous" - David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
10. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

US Chart Roundup: Nick Jonas Hasn't Taken His Dick Out...Yet (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Happy Thanksgiving! 

This year, we should all give thanks to the fact that Taylor Swift appears to have been set on fire, and is indeed going insane. Also, Nick Jonas is climbing higher each week on the Billboard Hot 100 ("Jealous" is at #8), and once he reaches #1, I'm convinced he'll do full frontal for the cover of Newsweek.

Final note before I go chew bird and get hammered: Mr. Probz is up to #14 with "Waves." At this point, expect him to crack the Top 5 by May 2015 — i.e. a full year after the song topped the charts everywhere else in the world.

Have a great holiday!

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift *2 weeks*
2. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
3. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
4. "Animals" - Maroon 5
5. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
6. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo
7. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith
8. "Jealous" - Nick Jonas
9. "Love Me Harder" - Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd
10. "Don't" - Ed Sheeran

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shayne Ward's Mike Stock-Produced Album 'Closer' Now Out In April: Here's The Cover Art

At the end of the summer, Shayne Ward gifted those of us who've lusted after his perfect ass enjoyed his music for the past eight years with the news that he would be recording his fourth album with producer legend Mike Stock, of onetime dominant pop triumvirate Stock Aitken Waterman. It turned out that the album was funded through Pledge Music, and — good news! — since September, when donations began pouring in, 124% of the pledging goal has been met.

While the the album was originally scheduled for a February release date, today Shayne gave the following update (along with the above album cover art):
Thank you for your support so far – it means the world to me. I’m so excited to finally give you guys a first look at my album cover and reveal the title: Closer.

I’m currently working on a really special deluxe edition of the album with lots of additional tracks not found on the standard CD or download. I didn’t get to finish recording before rehearsals started for War of The Worlds so I’m heading back into the studio in January, which means that sadly the album will now be out on 13 April 2015... Sorry it’s going to be a little longer wait but I hope it will all be worthwhile when you hear the new music.
As you can tell by the cover art, this album campaign seems to be a much classier affair than that for his previous LP, Obsession, and his subsequent stint on Dancing On Ice, when Shayne was stripping his clothes off at the drop of a hat. Visually, I kind of miss those days. But musically, the only way is up.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

UK Chart Roundup: Band Aid 30 Blocks Clean Bandit With "Do They Know It's Christmas"

The fourth rendition of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid 30 debuts at #1 on the UK chart this week, thus following the 1984 original, 1989's Band Aid II version and 2004's atrocious Band Aid 20 disaster. The Official Charts Company notes that the song sold 312,000 downloads since its release on Monday, and could stick pretty close to the top through the holidays once the physical version of the single is released on December 8.

All of this forces Clean Bandit's second pairing with Jess Glynne, "Real Love," to debut at #2. All involved topped the chart earlier this year for four weeks with "Rather Be," a song that went on to peak at #10 here in the States. This gives Clean Bandit three Top 5 singles in the UK, including "Extraordinary" (though half of the band are also in the Band Aid 30 lineup).

That leaves Olly Murs to go in at #3 with "Wrapped Up," the lead single from his upcoming fourth album Never Been Better. Good ol' Olly.

Up next week: Band Aid vs. Take That, whose new single "These Days" was released today.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Band Aid 30 *new* *1 week*
2. "Real Love" - Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne *new*
3. "Wrapped Up" - Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy *new*
4. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
5. "Dangerous" - David Guetta feat. Sam Martin *new*
6. "Steal My Girl" - One Direction
7. "Wake Me Up" - Gareth Malone's All Star Choir
8. "6 Words" - Wretch 32 *new* 
9. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
10. "Outside" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

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I Interviewed Ace Of Base & Real McCoy For Idolator's 50 Best Singles Of 1994 Roundup

One day in mid-October, I was sitting in Margot Patisserie here in New York's Upper West Side, and it hit me that it's been 20 years since my favorite year for music in the 1990s — that would be 1994 — and so I thought it might be fun to round up the 20 best pop singles from that time period on Idolator. Simple, right? Well, not so much.

As it turned out, there were far too many great songs released as singles in '94 (or in late '93 that spilled into '94) to exclude, and as the staff and I were bouncing around ideas for what to include, suddenly our list grew to 30 singles...then 40...then, finally, 50.

I didn't want this to be some throwaway Buzzfeed-esque list, so aside from myself, I gathered up 10 writers, including Idolator staffers Mike Wass (@mikewassmusic), Bradley Stern (@muumuse) and Bianca Gracie (@BiancaEnRouge), plus longstanding Chart Rigger sidekick John Hamilton (@foreverhamilton), Steve Sears (@xolondon) and my friends/old Instinct Magazine colleagues Jonathan Riggs (@farleyflavors), Mike Wood (@mikewoodwriter) and Alex Cho (@alexcho47). Rounding it all out was Idolator freelancers Christina Lee (@MinaAnnLee) and Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000).

Once everyone was on board, I had the surprisingly tough task of ranking all 50 of our single choices from 1994, and then dividing the songs up amongst the 11 writers. Then, because life isn't nearly difficult enough, I decided we should get quotes from at least the artists who made up the top five on our big list. I first reached out to Olaf "O-Jay" Jeglitza, from Real McCoy, as he and I have been friends for nearly a decade now. I hadn't seen him since we had a fun drunken night in Berlin while I was on the Rihanna 777 Tour two years ago, and my email asking for a couple general quotes about 1994 turned into us having an hour-long phone conversation. Once O-Jay was on board, the rest fell into place: Chilli from TLC, Lisa Loeb, Haddaway and Jonas Berggren from Ace Of Base (who proved to be a bit tough to track down — but I found him!).

Anyway, all of this took took five weeks to put together, but it's now posted online! What you have, then, is what I call "mini essays" on the songs we ranked #50 through #6, and then full interviews for #5 through #1 (again, with Ace Of Base, TLC, Real McCoy, Lisa Loeb and Haddaway).

So do me a solid and go check out Idolator's roundup of The 50 Best Singles Of 1994. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Well, maybe with some of the ranking, but you now me — I love to stir it up a bit.

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