At this time last year, hopes for Maroon 5‘s third studio album, Hands All Over, were high. The lead single, “Misery,” had hit #1 on Billboard‘s Adult Pop chart, and since the band had convinced famed superproducer Robert “Mutt” Lange to come out of semi-retirement to produce their album, everyone looked for the band to take the leap from a well-liked, fairly popular M.O.R. band to the next level and a spot among the world’s most commercially successful bands. However, once the album finally hit streets in October 2010, the masses shrugged their shoulders and largely ignored the album. The record was certified gold by the RIAA for shipping over 500,000 copies, but worldwide sales stalled out at just 529,000 total units.
Perceived failures like this have sunk many a band in the past, but thanks to charismatic frontman Adam Levine and ten weeks of national TV exposure courtesy of NBC/Universal’s The Voice (corporate synergy at its finest!), the band has totally reversed their fortunes in less than a year. Their new track, “Moves Like Jagger,” hit #1 on the iTunes chart this week, and Levine’s featured hook on Gym Class Heroes‘ “Stereo Hearts” propelled the song to a Top 20 finish in this week’s Song Of The Summer countdown. No wonder artists like Mariah Carey (The X-Factor), Sara Bareilles (The Sing Off) and more are looking to land prime positions as judges on televised singing competition shows; it’s exactly the kind of exposure to Middle America that the flagging music business is no longer in a position to give these artists using “traditional” music channels. As Maroon 5 has proved, it’s great work if you can get it!
As for the rest of our Song Of The Summer chart —only two more weeks until we crown a champion!— kudos to Katy Perry for her ninth consecutive week in the #1 spot.
The long reign of Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep”?on the radio and on the charts?may soon be coming to an end, but even though it seems like everyone has tried their hand at a cover of the song, this performance by a group of American military personnel serving in the Middle East is well-executed enough that the song seemed almost fresh again. The video was uploaded by AreYouSuprised [sic], an anonymous serviceman who has been anonymously video-blogging his struggle with coming out in the military as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell winds down. Judging from his friend’s non-reaction, the uploader might get more flak (pardon the pun) for capturing some of his peers on film not wearing their requisite reflective safety belts.
Electro-sleaze goofballs LMFAO are, at this moment, the only thing standing between Katy Perry and the history books. As we told you last week, their smash single “Party Rock Anthem” is blocking “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” from ascending to the top of the Billboard 100 chart (which would be Perry’s fifth Number One off her Teenage Dream LP). LMFAO is also currently besting Perry on the YouTube and iTunes charts, while Katy is maintaining dominance on Last.fm as well as airplay on our station. And our friends over at New York Magazine‘s Vulture just named “Party Rock Anthem”—a song they described as “a contrived, effective bit of nonsense about how ‘everybody?s gonna have a good time'”—as their current Song of the Summer.
Despite this onslaught from the progeny of Motown records founder Berry Gordy, our highly scientific formula still shows Perry atop our charts for the seventh consecutive week. While it will be incredibly difficult to topple her, it’s good to see Foster The People making a run at the Top Five. After a standout performance at Lollapalooza this weekend, their outstanding single “Pumped Up Kicks” is quickly climbing the charts; if the word “alternative” still carried any weight as a genre, there’s little doubt that Mark Foster could lay claim to the “alternative” Song of the Summer crown.
The dog days of summer are upon us, people. It’s August, it’s hot outside, and the news cycle is starting to slow to a crawl. The general sluggishness of the season is even affecting the music industry, as music fans don’t seem to be gravitating towards any new material. Instead, they seem to be content to play the same songs that they’ve had on repeat all summer long.
Case in point: Katy Perry‘s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” which has exhibited a stranglehold on the top of our Song of the Summer Countdown for six consecutive weeks. Her song looks to have a lock on the prize at this point, but then again, maybe The Throne (aka Jay-Z and Kanye West) can mount a last-minute challenge when their highly anticipated collaboration Watch The Throne drops next week? Stay tuned!
When Michael Jackson tragically and unexpectedly passed away two summers ago after an overdose of Propofol (which may or may not have been administered by Dr. Conrad Murray), the primary coping mechanism that people utilized while dealing with their grief was rekindling their love of his extensive musical legacy. People who hadn’t visited record stores in years flocked to purchase his back catalog, radio stations worldwide spun his songs for months on end and, as a result, Michael Jackson became a bigger star in death than he had been during the last 15 years of his life.
Well, in terms of her cultural relevance, it’s safe to say that Amy Winehouse was no Michael Jackson. However, her untimely (if somewhat expected) death this weekend at the age of 27 has done a lot to rekindle people’s interest in her musical output, which consists of two studio albums (2003’s Frank and 2006’s Back To Black) and a handful of B-sides. Not surprisingly, she currently occupies three of the top six spots on the iTunes album charts (see below), and “Rehab” —sadly, the song that will now forever define her career— has sold enough and been spun enough in the past three days to land it at #15 on this week’s Song Of The Summer Countdown.
As for the rest of the chart, there’s not much to say this week. The top seven spots in this week’s countdown are identical to the top seven songs from last week’s countdown; Katy Perry is still holding court at the top of the charts, and Adele is still nipping at her heels, closely trailed by Pitbull, LMFAO and Lady Gaga.
Ever since news broke that Amy Winehouse had been found dead at 27, the outpouring of grief (including dozens of comments on our announcement) has been a stark reminder of how much, and to how many people, Winehouse continued to matter as an artist. Fans have left tribute comments not only on Winehouse’s own videos on YouTube, but also barely-related ones like Britney Spears’s “If You Seek Amy,” just because they’re looking for any outlet to grieve. As we noted earlier, a range of performers voiced tribute on Twitter, but for some, 140 characters wasn’t enough.
Big Boishared a previously unreleased Dungeon Family remix of her song “Tears Dry On Their Own”:
Several performers blogged touching tributes. Adele‘s “Amy Flies in Paradise xx”, praised the way in which both her sheer talent and her unwillingness to compromise led to a minor sea change in British pop: “Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again whilst being fearlessly hilarious and blas? about the whole thing. I don?t think she ever realised just how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her even more charming.”
And although the autopsy has just begun today, and toxicology reports will take weeks, the popular consensus is that Winehouse’s death was caused, directly or indirectly, by her struggles with addiction. Dr. Drewtweeted, “SO sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible, but sadly not for Amy Winehouse.” But perhaps the most touching tribute on this subject comes from Russell Brand, a fellow performer who famously struggled with issues of addiction. His post For Amy, about the inevitability of one of two types of “the phone call,” is a must-read. We recommend you click through to it, but the multitude of hits has swamped his site, so just in case you can’t get through, we’ve reposted his tribute in its entirety below.
“Rehab” singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment today. The cause has not yet been determined. For those who have followed her longstanding battle with depression, eating disorders and substance abuse (a constant source of fodder for tabloids), this sad news may not come as a huge surprise. In August of 2007, Amy came close to death after overdosing on a cocktail of heroin, ecstasy and cocaine – and later that year was found wondering barefoot outside in nothing but a bra and jeans. These incidents were preceded by Amy’s marriage in May of 2007 to Blake Fielder-Civil, who was quoted by a British tabloid as saying he introduced Amy to heroin and crack cocaine. Earlier that same year, Amy performed for VH1 Unplugged. Blake and Amy divorced in 2009.
The singer dominated the 2008 Grammys with five awards for Back to Black, her sophomore album, winning in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Known for her singular voice and unorthodox retro look (tattoos, extreme cat-eye makeup and beehive hairdo), Amy is said to have paved the way for artists who wouldn’t previously have fit into the mainstream. Lady Gaga, for one, famously told AOL: “Because of Amy, very strange girls like me go to prom with very good-looking guys. She’s a different kind of woman. I don’t believe that what I do is very digestible, and somehow Amy was the flu for pop music.” Regardless of whether this is true, Winehouse certainly seemed to pave the way for fellow British songbirds Adele and Duffy, both of whom share Amy’s ’60s soul vibe.
In June, YouTube videos surfaced of an intoxicated and discombobulated-looking Winehouse forgetting her own lyrics and getting booed off stage in the first stop of a European tour, which subsequently had to be canceled. Amy was reportedly working on a third album. She joins a long list of musicians who have died at 27. A phenomenon known as The 27 Club, Brian Jones, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain are among those who died at the same age. Let her legend begin.
Despite selling more than a million copies during its first week of release, Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way is being whispered about in many industry circles as both a creative and commercial disappointment. Some have even bandied around the theory that the record is suffering because the videos for the Born This Way singles thus far (“Born This Way,” “Judas” and “The Edge Of Glory”) haven’t scaled the same heights as her previous videos, like 2010’s Video Music Award winner for Video Of The year “Bad Romance.” And if the nominations for the 2011 VMAs are any indication, this theory may not be far off.
Four other artists (Katy Perry, Adele, Kanye West, and Bruno Mars) racked up more VMA nominations this year than the Mother Monster. Katy led the way with nine total nominations (including Video Of The Year and Best Female Video), followed by Adele with seven, Kanye with six and Bruno with four.
Gaga, too, must be feeling the pressure; how else to explain the recent media blitz of the last few days? As the summer progresses, no doubt more theories will emerge as to why Gaga didn’t (an idea that our own Nick Minichino touched on recently in his essay, “Ten Years Of The Strokes And The White Stripes, And The Question Of What’s Next”). But for now, we’ll leave the Gaga analysis alone, and instead share with you the complete list of nominations for the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, which will air live on Sunday, August 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
Tyler the Creator – “Yonkers”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
The Mercury Prize announced its twelve-album shortlist of the best British and Irish albums released between July 2010 and July 2011 earlier today, and Adele and PJ Harvey are the leading nominees?at least according to British bookies, who gave 4-to-1 odds for each of the two artists. Both have been nominated for a Mercury Prize before: Adele in 2008 for 19 and PJ Harvey three times, of which she won once, in 2001, for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Other nominees that have gotten some traction with United States artists include British rapper Tinie Tempah and Jamie Lidell-via-dubstep soulster James Blake, who played at this weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
The closed-door judging process for the Mercury Prize, founded to be a “Booker Prize for music,” is best explained in a 2003 Guardian piece. The shortlist ranges from the obscure and localized (localised?), like King Creosote & Jon Hopkins‘s Diamond Mine, to, well, Adele. The nominees also span ages, from neophyte rock bands like Everything Everything to UK mainstays like Elbow. And despite some of the left-field nominees, the prize’s short history has British favorites of ours like Suede and Pulp, so we’re curious who will walk away with the prize in September.