Jay-Z‘s Magna Carta Holy Grail dropped exactly one week ago today, but unless you: A) Had a Samsung Galaxy or B) Pirated the album, you weren’t able to hear it until it officially was released on Tuesday. Reactions to the album have been pretty mixed, but one thing is certain: Whatever you think of the lyrical/thematic content, Hova had a world-class lineup of producers —including multiplatinum hitmakers like Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, The-Dream, and Hit-Boy— cranking out beats for him to lay down verses over. So, which of these producers were responsible for the LP’s most memorable beats? Let’s break it down.
Those “Blurred Lines” are becoming a little clearer now that Robin #THICKE’s summer jam has climbed to the top of Nielsen SoundScan’s Digital Songs chart. Here’s a look at that and the rest of this week’s chart action in this week’s SoundScanner round-up:
Like many BeyHive members, The-Dream remembers the exact moment he realized Beyoncé was something special. “There was just something in her attitude that came across,” he told VH1 of early Destiny’s Child video “Bills, Bills, Bills.” “It was something about that song and something about her persona that made me say, ‘Oh, wow. That girl’s gonna be out of here.’” Still waiting on your take on whether or not she’s the next to MJ, Terius, but this’ll do.
Now that 2012 is firmly in the rearviewmirror, it’s time to look forward with hope and optimism as to what the year 2013 holds in store for music fans like us. Considering that we’re not even three weeks into January and we’ve already been blessed with two delightful surprises —A new Destiny’s Child song! A new Timberlake jam!— we feel confident that this is going to be another banner year filled with an abundance of both monster pop smashes and crossover gems.
With that in mind, the VH1 Tuner team has put together this list of 13 of our most anticipated albums for 2013, which includes a healthy mix of familiar faces (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga) and artists on the come-up (Big Sean, Diane Birch), brought to you in the order of when we expect them to release their new material.
Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (Expected Release Date: January 29): Sisters Tegan and Sara Quin have long been staples at alternative radio, but the synth-driven Heartthrob appears like it might be the LP that finally breaks them into the mainstream consciousness. “We really look at this as an opportunity to stretch into a world that we’ve been just outside of for a long time,” Sara recently told our VH1 News crew, and one listen to the album’s lead single, “Closer,” seems to be indicative of the fact that they’ve reached their goal.—Mark Graham
Contrary to popular belief, the music most celebrated on the charts isn’t always the best. Okay, that was sarcasm. But even artists with hits on the charts have a slew of singles that fall by the wayside. Not every album is a Katy Perry string of #1s. Thus, here is a list of artists whose albums were certainly recognized, but had singles that didn’t quite get the attention they deserved.
Rye Rye’s delayed and delayed album Go! Pop! Bang! finally came out in May of this year–and is really fantastic. An upbeat, eletro-pop banger that not only samples the Vengaboys‘ “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom”, but also elevates Rye Rye’s signature sound. Unfortunately, it didn’t do so well on the charts, only hitting #9 on Dance Songs.
Queen Bey is back, baby! In her first performance in four months– since the birth of Blue Ivy– Beyoncé Knowles returned to the stage for a Memorial Day weekend extravaganza at Revel Resort & Casino in Atlantic City for four nights of exhilarating performances. During the two hour set one of the biggest stars in the world performed nearly two dozen crowd favorites like “Single Ladies,” “Get Me Bodied,” “Halo,” “Love On Top” and others. Celebrities from near and far traveled to Atlantic City to see the return of the Queen. It’s not like we didn’t know pals Michelle Obama and Beyoncé gush over one another all the time, but we weren’t expecting the First Lady to show up to Bey’s concert with daughters Sasha and Malia. It’s pretty major when the First Lady of the United States, with Secret Service in tow, comes to see you. Read more…
The-Dream‘s highly anticipated Love IV LP was originally scheduled to come out last fall, but thanks to some beef with his label Def Jam, the record’s release has been significantly delayed. The Radio Killa’s passionate (and exceedingly patient) fanbase was temporarily satiated when The-Dream released his 1977 mixtape last fall using his birthname, Terius Nash. And now, there’s seemingly more evidence to suggest that Love IV is on the way, as an official video for “Kill The Lights,” presumably the first single off the album, has just dropped.
In it, The-Dream teams up with his new(ish) protégé Casha (not to be confused with Ke$ha) for a video treatment that takes the song’s title quite literally. For the video’s four-minute-and-seven-second run time, we see dozens of light bulbs explode, filaments flying around the screen like shrapnel. However, when paired with The-Dream’s falsetto and luxurious synths, it certainly succeeds in its mission — By the end of the video, even the most Green-conscious eco-warriors won’t find that their panties are in a bunch; rather, they’ll be dropping to the floor.
Diane Birch‘s 2009 album, Bible Belt, was one of the most promising debut LPs to emerge in the last five years. Her voice and songwriting style eschews the kind of tawdry, disposable fluff that tends to get traction on Top 40 radio, and instead hearkens back to the confessional singer-songwriter style of legends like Carole King and Laura Nyro. Aside from her 2010 digital-only cover album The Velveteen Age, she’s been holed up in the studio for the last few years working on her sophomore record. So when we heard that she would be road testing songs from her forthcoming LP (due out summer-ish) at an intimate showcase show during Day Three of the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival, we dropped our previous plans and made our way over to the Intercontinental Hotel.
It turned out to be an awesome decision.
Birch played seven songs in her roughly 40 minute set, all of which were new to our ears. Whereas her work on Bible Belt alternated between torch songs and jaunty melodies, her new material was considerably more layered and widescreen in its sound. Take her first single, “Speak A Little Louder” (which premiered on Idolator yesterday), for example: She layers reverbed vocals over a bed of warm, atmospheric synths, creating a mood that we saw RCRD Label describe perfectly as “vintage chill.” Over the last few years, she seems to have spent considerable time and effort honing her songwriting craft, particularly when it comes to penning choruses that instantly get stuck in your brain. Birch even proved capable of writing anthemic melodies; the last song of her set last night contained a refrain that promised “We’re superstars tonight.” Considering the way the crowd reacted to her set, that line is certainly prophetic of Birch’s future in 2012.
Now that we’re done with reflecting on 2011, it’s time to start projecting into 2012. With the reign of Adele perhaps taking a brief hiatus, and buzz building around several newcomers, some legendary reunions and highly anticipated sophomore albums, 2012 is already shaping up to be a year filled with some pretty amazing music. We’ve put together a list of 20 of our most anticipated albums for 2012 — what are you looking forward to in 2012?
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die (Expected Release Date: 01/27): Possibly the most hyped artist of 2011, we’re excited for the record to finally come out so we can stop judging the hype and start judging the material! She landed a highly coveted spot as the musical guest on the January 14th episode of Saturday Night Live, so expect the clamor to grow.
Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth (Expected Release Date: 02/07): Aside from a couple of songs that made it onto the band’s 1996 Best Of set, the band hasn’t cut any new material in the studio with original lead singer David Lee Roth since 1984, so anticipation for this project is through the roof. After a blistering reunion set at Cafe Wha? in New York City last night, there’s a good chance the boys still have it in ‘em.
Sleigh Bells – Reign Of Terror (Expected Release Date: 02/14): After Sleigh Bells’ killer debut with Treats, we’re biting our nails to find out whether their sophomore effort will be just as good. If the release of the first single off the new album, “Born To Lose”, is anything to go by, we won’t be disappointed.
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Expected Release Date: 02/14): Since Nicki Minaj Tweeted that the new album will feature all new material (as opposed to a re-release), we’ve been painting everything pink in anticipation. Barbz at the ready!
Actually, scratch that. Rihanna‘s new record, Talk That Talk, is the dirtiest “pop” record we have ever heard. We listened to the entirety of the 11-song album, which will hit stores on Monday, November 21, earlier this afternoon here at our Times Square headquarters and can confirm that everyone in attendance left the room with flushed cheeks after experiencing extensive periods of blushing.
Now, this is not to say that Rihanna has gone out and recorded the female As Nasty As They Wanna Be; it’s not simply a sexually-explicit affair (although, at one point during The-Dream produced track “Birthday Cake,” she does proclaim “I wanna f*** you right now”). Rather, Talk That Talk continues the conversation that Rihanna began with her single “S&M” (off Loud) and, if you’ll pardon the Spinal Tap reference, turns it up to 11. Rihanna and her chief partner-in-crime, songwriter Ester Dean (who either wrote or co-wrote at least six songs on the LP), have put together a record that not only oozes sex, but also revolves almost exclusively around it.