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

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Brandon Flowers' "Can't Deny My Love" Is The Second Great Pop Single Of 2015

Happy April Fool's Day! Really, what better time to return after a three week absence here? Spring is in the air, fools are all around...and Brandon Flowers is back and in fine form!

So, yes, one month ago today I declared that Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" was the first great pop single of 2015. I still kind of maintain that, although the rest of the music-buying and radio-programming public seems to so far disagree, sadly. Poor Carly Rae. (We'll see what happens after she performs on Saturday Night Live this weekend, I guess?)

But now I'd like to officially say that maybe I should have waited until Brandon Flowers' "Can't Deny My Love" came along before prematurely anointing the first great single of the year. Because Brando's song is pretty fantastic, from Ariel Rechtshaid's bombastic '80s-pop production to the creepy, demonic cult video based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1835 short story Young Goodman Brown.

You'll note that Richard Butler, singer from The Psychedelic Furs, plays the cult leader, while Evan Rachel Wood (whose music video credits stretch back to 10 years ago, when she starred in Green Day's "When September Ends") is Brandon's wife.

Flowers is looking quite dapper on the single cover...

...as well as in the artwork for his upcoming second solo album, The Desired Effect (out May 18).

On a final note, I've probably played "Can't Deny My Love" about 47 times over the past week, and I'm still not sick of it. When was the last time you could say that about a song?

Oh, Brandon...you were Chart Rigger's first big crush, way back in 2005. And I'll always come running back to you.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Howard Stern Interviewed Madonna, And The Whole Thing Was Pretty Great

Madonna is pulling out all the stops for just-released album Rebel Heart, because, after all, the goddamn thing leaked five weeks early (not to mention the demo leak in December), and it's now going toe-to-toe with the Empire soundtrack for topping the Billboard 200 next week.

And so Ye Olde Vampyre swung by Howard Stern's radio show yesterday for the first time ever, and it was a fascinating hour-and-a-half listen. Howard "went there" on several topics — including Madonna being raped when she first arrived in New York, her father marrying their housekeeper, boinking Lenny Kravitz when they worked together on "Justify My Love" and her relationship with Warren Beatty.

Also, when Stern zeroed in on "Ghosttown" being one of his favorite tracks on Rebel Heart, Madge said she just shot the video this week for it — so there's your "Living For Love" follow-up single.

The whole thing is pretty good stuff, and it's nice to actually hear an interview in full — something you don't get with print or online or taped television chats.


Sunday, March 08, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Years & Years Hit The Top With Aptly-Titled Jam "King"

Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do" had literally been tops on the UK chart for a full month, until today, and that's fine. I kind of like that trash — it's reminiscent of Ellie's first album...you know, before she started making watered-down sellout tracks for teen sluts in the suburbs who suck cock for Wednesday night kicks in the back of some van in the high school football stadium parking lot — but let's face it: after 4 weeks, time to take a hike, baby.

That brings us to Years & Years. Previous single "Desire" was a jam, and it scraped its way to #26 last fall, but "King" is a jam-jam, and molto deserving of kicking Ellie's marshmallow arse off the top of the chart and claiming the #1 position. Quite simply, "King" just feels like a big song, with it's synth-up air of mystery and pop perfection, and with a little luck, hopefully it can cross over to the States sometime before 2015 ends.

That brings us to another great track that (finally) makes its way into the UK Top 10 this week: Marlon Roudette's dreamy "When The Beat Drops Out," originally a summer 2014 hit in various other reaches of Europe.

And hey — "King" and "When The Beat Drops Out" brought me out of my weeks-long moratorium on writing about the boring log-jam on the chart, so there's something good going on.

The UK Top 10:

1. "King" - Years & Years *new* *1 week*
2. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
3. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
4. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
5. "Earned It" - The Weeknd 
6. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
7. "When The Beat Drops Out" - Marlon Roudette *new*
8. "Hold Back The River" - James Bay
9. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
10. "Heartbeat Song" - Kelly Clarkson

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

US Chart Roundup: All I Can Think Of To Get Through Is Nick Jonas

Every once in awhile, when the Hot 100 gets too jam-packed with garbage, I have to take a week or two off from commenting on it. And look — three weeks after we last met up here, "Uptown Funk" is still #1 and "Thinking Out Loud" is still just behind it. Yippee!

Plus, now there's the added bonus of Pitbull and Ne-Yo being in the Top 10! That's about as welcome as three icicles up the cunt, to be honest.

And so, let's just look a bit further down, where Nick Jonas has jumped into the Top 40, at #34, with "Jealous" follow-up single "Chains" (which, actually, was the single before "Jealous," but why be technical?). I'm hoping that trash makes it into the Top 10 by the thick of spring, because it's a pretty decent pop jam, and right now it's snowing heavily in New York, and all I can think about to get me through is warm days and Nick Jonas naked...

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars *9 weeks*
2. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
3. "Sugar" - Maroon 5
4. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding
5. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
6. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
7. "Style" - Taylor Swift
8. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift
9. "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)" - The Weeknd
10. "Time Of Our Lives" - Pitbull & Ne-Yo

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You": Listen To The First Great Pop Single Of 2015

Three years ago, Carly Rae Jepsen owned the spring and summer airwaves with her inescapable radio behemoth "Call Me Maybe" (and, to a lesser extent, the Owl City pair-up "Good Time"). The Canadian singer's first US album Kiss was largely ignored, however, and that's a shame — because from opening track "Tiny Little Bows" and onward, it was a pretty solid collection of pop.

Cut to now, and Carly Rae is releasing her brand new single "I Really Like You" this coming Tuesday (March 2). The song is basically the best Top 40-leaning thing we've heard in this first quarter of the year, and if you don't believe me, then listen below.

Now do you believe me?


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Danielle Jane Minogue Is Returning To Music!

2015 finally got interesting this week as news of Dannii Minogue's impending return to music was confirmed by none other than the Aussie pop queen herself! Next month Kylie's sister is scheduled to perform at Sydney Mardi Gras, along with Nick Jonas, Jake Shears and Betty Who. So basically this is going to be the musical comeback of the century.

“I’ve been wanting to do music for ages but something was holding me back,” D. Minogue said in a new Australian interview. “Now I feel really settled. I feel like I’m in a personal space where I can do it and it’s going to be fun. Physically I’m really well right now, I had all these health issues in the last few years, I just want to get out there and enjoy it. Mardi Gras makes sense. I just have to brush off the dust and get back out there.”

Dannii hasn't released a studio album since 2003's Neon Nights — which, in hindsight, is pretty much one of the finest pop classics of the new millennium. Some one-off singles, the 2006 Hits & Beyond collection, album reissues and umpteen stints on shows like The X Factor UK and Australia's Got Talent followed, but all Dannii's horde of faithful fans have wanted all these years is a new fucking album!

Anyway, in the interview, she goes on and on and on about Mardi Gras, then offers this non-answer about her plans for the rest of the year: "I have to make decisions on a lot of things but I don’t want to think of anything else except Mardi Gras right now."

That said, the writeup points out that she's been quietly recording music for two years: “When I used to sing when [my son] Ethan was really little he’d go ‘Mum, stop’ so I just didn’t sing. He’s only heard my new stuff, he’s in the know with all that. There’s a duet I’ve written that is really badass funky that he loves.”

Take a hike, Beyonce. You're about to be made irrelevant. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Kiddin's "Always There" Is A Warm House Delight For A Cold February Day

Just Kiddin are a UK house duo who haven't gained the prominence just yet of, say, Disclosure or Gorgon City, but they've been releasing a steady, solid array of jams like "Feel Better" and last fall's "Thinking About It."

The pair are back with "Always There," one half of their upcoming two-track release "Getaway/Always There," which is due out March 2. It's a dreamy dance gem, the kind that usually comes along this frosty time of year and conjures up magical images of more summery days ahead.


Calvin Harris' Bulge, For Emporio Armani

Calvin Harris is the new face and crotch of Emporio Armani's spring and summer 2015 line. That means we get photos like these...which are much better than his musical output lately.

Calvin Harris bulges in underwear for Emporio Armani


Sunday, February 15, 2015

UK Chart Roundup: Kylie's First Three Albums Re-Enter The Album Chart

In case you didn't know, the Cherry Red label, quite adept at whipping up reissued and remastered albums, recently put together some pretty impressive collectors' edition box sets for Kylie Minogue's four PWL albums: Kylie (1988), Enjoy Yourself (1989), Rhythm Of Love (1990) and Let's Get To It (1991).
Personally, if I'm to be honest, I bought all this stuff remastered back in 1999 (all the remixes) on those Aussie remix CDs that come in four volumes, and then again in 2009 when a huge slew of the PWL stuff was thrown onto iTunes. So at first I was all, fuck splashing out the $92 (yep, that's what the 59.99 pounds converts to, kids) for each of these box sets, PLUS the $77 for shipping...
...and then I started seeing all the photos people were tweeting when they received the box sets this past week (they were released on February 9), and feeling quite envious. I mean, the vinyl picture discs alone...!
So, yeah, I totally ordered the first two. And then I figure once I build up the courage to take a hacksaw and remove my left arm and sell it on the black market, I'll rake over the cash for Rhythm Of Love and Let's Get To It.
At any rate, Kylie re-entered the UK album chart this week at #85, while Enjoy Yourself went back in at #94 and Rhythm Of Love showed up again at #96.

Turn it into love, bitchface.

The UK Top 10:

1. "Love Me Like You Do" - Ellie Goulding *2 weeks*
2. "Take Me To Church" - Hozier
3. "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
4. "Gravity" - DJ Fresh feat. Ella Eyre *new*
5. "FourFiveSeconds" - Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney 
6. "Ayo" - Chris Brown & Tyga *new*
7. "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran
8. "Doing It" - Charli XCX feat. Rita Ora *new*
9. "The Nights" - Avicii
10. "Earned It" - The Weeknd

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shayne Ward's 'Closer' Album: Listen To Extended Song Clips, See The Deluxe Edition Tracklist

Okay, so here's everything you need to know so far about Shayne Ward's upcoming album Closer (out April 13), which is produced by Mike Stock:

1. Mike Stock was obviously one third of the legendary Stock Aitken Waterman pop production team. This past week, I got Shayne to rattle off his five favorite SAW songs (including two by Sybil!) and give a few anecdotes on each. Check that out over at Idolator.

2. There are now song snippets available online for each of the 10 tracks on the standard edition of Closer. You can hear them at Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, etc. and each of those channels' clips pulls from different parts of the song. But by far, the lengthiest clips are the ones in the below YouTube video put together by a Vietnamese fan of the singer's.

Early personal favorites: "Moving Target," "The Way You Were," "I'm So Proud Of You" and "Fake."

3. Shayne revealed the extra tracks that will appear on the deluxe edition of Closer this week on Instagram. Basically, there's one more original song ("Rendezvous, The Place I Love"), two covers (Sugababes' "About You Now" and Alexander O' Neal's "If You Were Here Tonight"), an acoustic version of "No Promises" (a #2 UK hit for Ward in 2006), a remix of the album's lead single "My Heart Would Take You Back" and "voice memo" versions of "My Heart Would Take You Back," "Make It Simple" and "Moving Target."

So the full deluxe edition tracklist for Closer is as follows:

1. Moving Target
2. My Heart Would Take You Back
3. I Never Said
4. The Way You Were
5. Too Much To Lose
6. Crying, Lying Eyes
7. I'm So Proud Of You
8. Make It Simple
9. Fake
10. I Let You Get Away
11.  Rendezvous, The Place I Love
12. About You Now
13. If You Were Here Tonight
14. No Promises (Acoustic)
15. My Heart Would Take You Back (JRMX Club Mix)
16. My Heart Would Take You Back (Voice Memo)
17. Make It Simple (Voice Memo)
18. Moving Target (Voice Memo)

Ironically, "About You Now" was released the same week as Shayne's double A-side Breathless single "No U Hang Up/If That's OK With You" back in 2007, and Sugababes thus took the top spot on the UK chart and kept Ward stuck at #2. 

And finally...

4. The video for first single "My Heart Would Take You Back" is being shot in London on February 25.

PS Closer, which is being funded through PledgeMusic, is now at 195% of of it's goal. A hundred and nintey-five percent! There's your retirement money, Shayne...or at least enough to go on a lost-weekend hooker bender some time.

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