Billboard, *Boring* Billboard!

musicHey all,

After the early demises of one-week wonders ‘The Hunger Games’ OST, Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’, and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Reloaded’, Lionel Richie’s ‘Tuskegee’ has surprised even me – who expected it to reach the apex – by clinging on to the top.  Part of the reason is a lack of competition but the other part is that this is a good album that’s at the top on merit.  It’s low on track overlaying, synthetic beats and the whole rest of it, and is heavy on real singing, which is becoming a rarity these days.

This is not an earth-shaking week on the Billboard charts otherwise.  Billboard, don’t be so boring!

No. 2 spot on the Albums Chart is occupied by Jason Mraz’s new album ‘Love is a Four Letter Word’ in its debut week and that has knocked down Adele’s ’21′ to no. 3.  Most noteworthy is Future’s debut studio album landing at no. 8 on its debut week.

Other than that, we have the usual suspects – Nicki Minaj’s ‘Reloaded’, One Direction’s ‘Up All Night’, and Gotye’s ‘Making Mirrors’ in . . . their usual positions! (or close enough).

Over on the Singles Hot 100 Chart, Gotye (‘Somebody that I used to Know’) and fun (‘We are Young’) remain in the top two positions per the long-term lease they’ve signed with Billboard (as I reported on earlier).  In fact these two singles have so caught listeners’ fancy that they have kept Maroon 5′s hotly-anticipated new single featuring Wiz Khalifa, ‘Payphone’ at no. 3.  That’s an interesting stat because ‘Payphone’ is the clear winner on the Digital Singles Charts.  Perhaps that’s a signal that Gotye or fun’s lease is about to expire in a week . . . .

Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’ is still in the Top Ten, but only just, being at no. 10 after eighteen weeks on the charts, a longevity statistic it shares with ‘We Are Young’

What with the stagnant singles charts, I wonder if Richie & Pals didn’t miss a trick: they could’ve put out extended play versions or alternate cuts of a couple of songs from ‘Tuskegee’; they might have livened things up on the Hot 100 and also the Digital Charts.

Oh well, live and learn!

Ta ta,

Shane

‘Tuskegee’ ascends to Billboard’s peak

Lionel Richie TuskegeeHello

Because of the sad demise of Dick Clark yesterday, our weekly review of Billboard has been pushed back to today.

Well, blow me down!  Last week I reported that I had been half-right on my expectation from two weeks back, i.e. that Lionel Richie’s ‘Tuskegee’ would bump Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’ from the peak on Billboard’s album charts.  Well, I was half-right last week and am half-right this week: ‘Tuskegee’ has indeed taken pole position!  The only surprise for me is that it didn’t happen earlier.  ‘Tuskegee’ is also no. 1 on Country Albums as well as Digital Albums.

Billboard attributes ‘Tuskegee’s climb to the CBS special “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie & Friends in Concert” airing on Friday and sparking a demand for Richie’s album.  However, the fact is that it is on hype and manufactured publicity that heavily-promoted artistes’ albums, such as ‘MDNA’, take top spot upon release and then plummet.  ‘Tuskegee’, on the other hand, rose over two weeks and such a rise must primarily be attributed to quality and merit.  Bravo!

‘Tuskegee’s rise bumps Nicki Minaj’s ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ to no. 3 with Adele’s ’21′ holding at no. 2, as does One Direction’s ‘Up All Night’ at no. 5.  ‘MDNA’?  Don’t know where it’s gone; can’t find it!  Worthy of note, country singer Bonnie Raitt’s new album ‘Slipstream’ has debuted at no. 6 on the (‘open’) album charts.

On the topic of Billboard, the nominees for the Billboard Music Awards on 20th May have been announced.  Adele is in ‘win’ with eighteen, followed by LMFAO in ‘place’ with just one fewer.  Rihanna, with thirteen, is in ‘show position’.  Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne will be vying with Adele and Rihanna for the Top Artist award.  This award ceremony will have plenty of star-power as Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber and LMFAO are already scheduled to perform.  As for the awards, I have a feeling that Adele will be feeling veeery happy one month from now.

Nothing of note on the still-static Singles Charts except that fun’s ‘We are Young’ and Gotye’s ‘Somebody that I used to Know’ have swapped places at the top.  Hmm, I wonder if I was on to something when I had blogged that fun and Gotye have taken out “a long-term lease” with Billboard . . . .

TGIF,

Shane

It’s a Bad News ‘Blue Monday’

LionelHiya Music-Lovers,

What a way to start the week – bad news, bad news and bad news!  Reminds me of the Fats Domino hit, ‘Blue Monday’.

Lionel Richie has made welcome and unwelcome news in one and the same month.  You know the welcome news if you’ve been reading this blog – it’s a hit album, ‘Tuskegee’.  The unwelcome news is that the country’s official Mob – er, I mean the IRS – say he owes them a cool million bucks and that they’ll start seizing his possessions if doesn’t cough up the extorted ransom – er, I mean the ‘owed taxes’.  Lucky for Richie he just scored a hit with ‘Tuskegee’; it should clear up his ‘misunderstanding’ with the extortionists and gangsters – er, I mean ‘the Feds’.

This past Saturday The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held a ceremony to induct this year’s honorees. What made the news were two notable absentees: Rod Stewart and Axl Rose.  They stayed away for extremely different reasons.

Stewart was, in his words, “devastated” to be unable to attend the induction as a member of the band ‘Faces’.  Not too big a deal since he has already been inducted as a solo artist a long time back.  Rod ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ Stewart could not attend because he is down with flu and if you’ve got a dripping nose, nobody thinks you’re ‘sexy’ . . .

Though all the other Guns ‘n’ Roses band members were present at the ceremony, erstwhile leader Axl Rose was absent.  He made good on his promise to give it a miss.  As with everything about that volatile, edgy band, Rose’s exact reasons are unknown – his confused statement did not shed much light on the ‘whys’.  Let’s just say he was put-out about something.

The worst news is about Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.  I had mentioned that he was in a London hospital, suffering from pneumonia.  Now, he has taken a turn for the worse and is comatose with his wife and immediate family members keeping vigil by his bedside.  Gibb’s health has taken quite a battering, what with his cancer and tumour-removal operation, and now his current illness.  All one can do is what his son Robin-John is doing: “pray for him . . .” as the prognosis appears increasingly bleak.

It’s a ‘Blue Monday’ – Fats, take it away.

Till tomorrow,

Shane

Midweek Medley with Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie“Hello,” did you stumble across this by chance, or was “it me you’re looking for?”

It’s midweek, and it’s another medley: Mad-onna, Gaga, and Lionel Richie on the menu.

Remember, you heard it here first!  A week or two back didn’t I give the thumbs down to Mad-onna, our ‘Granny Gone Wild’, didn’t I predict that ‘MDNA’ was same ole, same ole, and didn’t I question Billboard’s integrity in pushing it?  Well, here are some choice quotes from Yahoo Music News about ‘MDNA’:–

“. . . some music critics haven’t exactly been blown away despite Madonna recruiting a bevy of top dance music producers . . . . Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times gave the album two out of four stars, saying it doesn’t ‘offer much in the way of innovation,’ and that the iconic singer had ‘fallen behind’ . . . . Alexis Petridis of British newspaper The Guardian, gave the album three out of five stars, calling it ‘business as usual’ for the pop star. . . . Nitsuh Abebe of New York Magazine said ‘a lot of the music here feels hollow and strained’ . . . .”

You see, very little about Mad-onna was ever about music; much of it was about sexual self-exploitation, razzle-dazzle, sensationalism and controversy, and now, finally, it looks like a few people are catching on to it.

Another artiste who gets 9/10 on sensationalism and controversy is Lady Gaga!  But she’s got freshness and new ideas on her side.  And we can hardly be hard on her today because . . . it’s her birthday!  Anyone up for singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to birthday girl?  Considering that half-a-century back the bleach-blonde icon of that age famously sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the then-president (Marilyn Monroe to JFK), could a long-overdue favour be returned?  Perhaps musical Prez Barrack Obama will sing Happy Birthday to the Gaga One!

And now to Tuskegee.  “What’s ‘Tuskegee’?” you ask.  We know it’s a town but what’s it to this blog?  The name of Lionel Richie’s new album, that’s what.  So now you ask, “Why ‘Tuskegee’?”  That’s because the smooth R&B stylist of the 80s is paying homage to his childhood hometown and is marking the genre of his album – Country.  Lionel Richie, not exactly new to country, has collaborated with several country stars on his old songs (including a few classics).  Duets on ‘Hello’, ‘Endless Love’, and ‘Sail On’ with singers like Shania Twain, Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney promise to be a tasty treat that a large cross-section of music-lovers may groove to . . . groove to ‘all night long’ . . . .

Yours “Truly”, Yours “Forever”,

Shane

From the SXSW to DC; Lionel to Legend

Howdy Folks!

An apt way to greet y’all today ’cause we’re talkin’ Texas.  That’s because the SXSW (‘South by South-West’) music festival has kicked off in Austin, Texas.  A plethora of bands – up-and-comers to established acts – will ply their trade in Austin.  It’s musical mayhem down there with a band in every bar and a party on every patio.

Yesterday, a few bands opened at one of the upscale venues for the star of the show, Lionel Richie.  He wowed the audience, both fronting a band and comping himself on the piano (the true test for a singer).  Lionel Richie, a musician’s musician, doesn’t need to hide behind a mixer or a console, or rely on overproduced tracks – he’s the real thing.  That said, I think Richie forgot he was in Texas: he said (and sang) ‘Hello’.  Lionel, that should’ve been ‘Howdy’!

On the subject of ‘real things’, another one is Bruce Springsteen.  Springsteen is also at the SXSW and is slated to keynote.  Now whaddaya know— the veteran rocker also did in the U.S. what he did in the U.K.: he stormed onto the charts.  His ‘Wrecking Ball’ debuted at no. 1 on Billboard’s album charts, ‘wrecking’ any hopes Adele may have had for setting a new Billboard record.  ’21′ has finally been bumped off the top spot.

While some top names in music are in Austin, one was at (or, more correctly, just outside) the White House yesterday, mixing and mingling with the Obamas and the Camerons – that’s the Prime Minister of the U.K. and his old lady.  Barack Obama hosted a State Dinner for his counterpart from the U.K. at the White House Lawn.  Mumford & Sons, a little-known British band, was present to open for the headline act; apparently the Camerons’ taste runs to this band, which sounds more like a grain merchant in some village in Olde England.  The headliner was John Legend, who came with arm-candy Chrissy Teigen in tow.  It appears Legend was left alone to do his thing – unlike three weeks back, the President did not pick up the mic.  Perhaps he’s already got a record deal!

See ya,

Shane