Smackdown at the Billboard!

Nicki MinajHallo!

It’s smackdown time!  Same day last week I wrote: “If we . . . have any sense or taste, ‘Tuskegee’ will bump Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’ from its top spot next week!”  Well, I was half right!  It wasn’t ‘Tuskegee’ by Nicki Minaj’s ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ that booted Mad-onna’s album from top spot – and how: ‘MDNA’ has been booted all the way down to no. 8!

‘Tuskegee’, as a matter of fact, has dropped to no. 4 with ’21′, after over a year in the charts, ascending one place to take its no. 2 spot.

I had blogged earlier about Nicki’s frenetic activity paying off by keeping her in the news and enhancing her popularity.  A single from her no. 1 album, ‘Starships’, is still on the Singles Top Ten at no. 6 to go with her no. 1 album.  The girl’s really done it!  (Though the album just may end up being a one-week wonder.)

What with all the hype swirling around Mad-onna and the media slavering over Nicki, Rascal Flatts’ new album ‘Changed’ has flown under the radar to debut at no. 3.

Something else I had written is borne out by ‘MDNA’s steep drop.  Last week I had explained ‘MDNA’s debut at no. 1 thusly: “It’s quite incredible what publicity and the media can do.”  Well, it all seems to be catching up: Billboard reports that ‘MDNA”s dizzying drop, saleswise, is the *biggest one week decline of all time.*  First week sales of 359,000, driving by “publicity and the media” shrunk to 48,000 in the second week for an 86.7 percent drop-off – a new record.  (Mad-onna and her people – of course – are not going to take it lying down and their publicity machine will probably swing into action to try to push their product.)

On to the Hot 100 (Singles) Chart.  I gotta say that it has become an amazingly static chart – correct me if I’m wrong but *seven* of the Top Ten have either held their position or changed by a single rung.

One noteworthy point is that with ‘Roman Reloaded’ in the albums Top Ten, Nicki Minaj has joined One Direction as the only performers in the Top Ten on both charts.  (One Direction’s ‘Up All Night’ has risen one spot to no. 5 and their single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ has jumped from no. 9 to 4.)

fun’s and Gotye’s singles are still parked in their usual places, give or take a rung.  My sources tell me that they and Billboard have signed a secret long-term lease.

Justin Bieber’s fan-atics will be distraught to see their ‘Boyfriend’ slide from no. 2 to no. 5 in only the second week of release.  Well, Beliebers, how about another Twitter campaign? (translation: onslaught!)

Cheerio,

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

A mother, a woman, a girl, and a [deleted by ISP censor]

BeyonceHello Men,

Take a back seat: for Ladies Night at the Lyrster is a day early this week.  We’ll look at a mother, a woman, a girl, and a [deleted by ISP censor].

Two chanteuses of rather different musical persuasions have made news splashes for exactly the same dual reasons: new album and a series of shows.  Hello Mama Beyonce and Woman Nicki Minaj.

Beyonce, the mother, is apparently devouring a host of ideas from which to choose her upcoming album, which is in its incipient stages.  What’s a done deal is the shows.  Beyonce will be one of the performers to inaugurate the new Revel Entertainment Center in Atlantic City.  She will give three concerts during the end of May at the Revel’s Ovation Hall with its ‘immersive sound’.  Tickets on sale in April.  Do you have the dough and the luck to score them?

The woman Nicki Minaj’s new album is in a much more advanced stage.  The tracks for ‘Roman Reloaded’ were just revealed.  It has something in common with her debut album ‘Punk Friday’ – oops, I meant ‘*Pink* Friday’! – many tracks are duets and feature guest artistes.  One of them is Chris Brown.  One way or another, Nicki’s face may suffer: either Chris Brown may punch her in the nose or Rihanna may scratch her eyes out.  Minaj’s European fans have something to celebrate: between 8th June and 19th August she’s hitting thirteen cities in nine countries.

Next to the girl, Carly Rae Jepsen.  Carly Who?  Cue Justin Bieber.  Bieber and friends made a video on a track she had recorded; as a consequence, Carly Rae found fifteen minutes of fame.  Now, she and Bieber have had a work date and may rustle up a collaboration for her next album.

In an earlier post I slammed [deleted by ISP censor] Mad-onna’s album ‘MDNA’ as being the same ole, same ole tired stuff (which means a C- grade).  Turns out that the so-called ‘deluxe edition’ of that album has a track titled ‘I F—d Up’.  So the lapsed Catholic has recorded a confessional song!  Finally she’s got it.  Let’s all sing in chorus: “Yes, Mad-onna, you f—d up, yes you have – big time!”

Take it easy,

Shane

The Boss and The Beib

Hello All,

Back in Old Blighty we sure love our ‘golden oldies’ – some days back I had written about old men Engelbert and Tom Jones making headlines once again.  Now witness Bruce Springsteen, who was ‘Bossing’ it in America back in the 80s, beating out all competition to rule the roost on the U.K. album charts!  Springsteen ‘Wrecking Ball’ album is no. 1 in U.K.  Not bad, Boss – and not bad, Britishers too!  You’ve got taste, for Springsteen is as genuine a rocker as they come.

But you can’t say the same about everyone.  Here in the States Billboard seems to be going ‘mad’ about Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’ album.  (Why are you trying to hype and push it, Billboard?)  I sampled a few tracks and it’s just more of the same – overproduced, synthetic, generic dance-club tracks under the ‘Madonna’ brand-name, quasi-sung in that insubstantial, thin and reedy voice we all know and love so well.  Nothing new, nothing artistic here.  How this juggernaut keeps rolling on and on escapes me.  Credit the image-makers and PR people – they can sell anything!

Something far more engaging and authentic is Fun’s ‘We Are Young’ (which, in all honesty, is too dark to be mere ‘fun’).  Billboard reports that it is the first debut single by a rock band to ascend to no. 1 on the singles chart in a gazillion years.  Not by any stretch a ‘rocker’, this appealing song, driven by a heavy backbeat, sounds as if it’s influenced by 80s and 90s Euro-Pop.  It’s driving me batty because I can’t remember just who it reminds me of!  Perhaps someone will be able to make the connection and post a comment.

Looking two weeks ahead to the 26th, Justin Bieber’s ‘Boyfriend’ should land in the Top Ten – at least.  It’s the lead track from his upcoming album, ‘Believe’, which is said to be quite a departure from his earlier work, and so much so that the boy – er, man, now – himself thought it needed some justification: “You can’t really expect anything from my album. It’s really, really different. . . . I’m not trying to lose any of my young fans.”  No worries, Justin, you probably won’t – ‘Believe’ me!

Here’s an odd couple that I wouldn’t mind seeing (and hearing): Bruce and The Bieb!  How about Bruce Springstein and Justin Bieber duetting, backed by The Boss’s band?  Intriguing thought, eh?

In closing, it’s particularly apropos to refer to Britain as ‘Old Blighty’ in a music blog – ever heard ‘Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty’?

Blithely (and Blightily) Yours,

Shane

Of Yin and Yang – i.e. of Rihanna and Taylor Swift!

Hello out there!

On this Tuesday the music news whiplashes back to Whitney – and wouldn’t you know, Rihanna is in the mix – again!  Whitney Houston’s mentor and producer Clive Davis is getting a biopic project off the ground and among the ladies who’re favourites to play the lead is – as one might expect – Jennifer Hudson.  But, somehow, Rihanna is seen as the frontrunner to land the role and she sure is angling for it.  I ain’t so sure – it sounds to me like yin wants to play yang . . .

On to the real ‘yang’, sweet and demure Miss Taylor Swift.  This news item is about Taylor’s voice and it’s also about the movies – yet it’s not about her singing nor her acting!  Fact is that Taylor Swift is doing the voice-over for a character in the animated movie The Lorax (based on the children’s book by Dr. Seuss).  Swift does the voice for Audrey in Lorax, set for release on Friday.  MTV’s take: “the character of Audrey is fun, bubbly, curious and a big fan of trees.”  If that is so, then – exactly unlike Raunchy Rihanna playing Whitney – Taylor voicing Audrey is true-to-life casting!

At last!— Madonna has broken into lyrster’s music news blog – yipee!  She has just released a single, Girl Gone Wild.  Not much to say about just another ho-hum synthesized dance track but some psychology seems to be in order:–  Seems to me like our dowager is suffering from a female Peter Pan Complex, eh?  I mean – notwithstanding the plastic and botox – at her age shouldn’t she be singing a song titled “Grandma Gone Wild”?

Only a few days back I blogged about my fellow Merseysiders, The Beatles.  Shall we update one of their songs to . . . “Granny Madonna”?

Ta ta!

Shane I. (for ‘Insightful’) Kendall