Monthly Archives: July 2010

…SHOULD BE MORE FAMOUS

This will be a reoccurring post, and no one is more deserving than Jessie James to be highlighted first. If there was ever a “total package” artist, it is Jessie James. First and foremost, she can actually sing. She doesn’t even do any vocal warm-ups, it just comes out like that. She also has a great look, personality, stage presence, and writes all of her own music. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Jessie James is awesome and deserves to be more famous. Check out an acoustic performance of her current single, “Boys In the Summer”, here.

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Filed under More Famous

SWIFT SALES?

For the past few months, I’ve been suffering from Taylor Swift fatigue. She was on every radio station. She was on every award show. She was in every magazine. I couldn’t even fast-forward through the commercials on my DVR without seeing her face hawking some product. While I don’t quite miss her yet, I am interested in hearing her first single and looking forward to seeing how her third album, “Speak Now,” fares. The big question is can Taylor Swift scan a million copies in her first week? This may seem like a crazy notion in the post-digital climate, but if anyone can, it will be Taylor Swift.

Taylor has quite a few things going for her. First and foremost, she’s coming off of a huge album era with “Fearless,” which sold over half a million copies its first week in back in November 2008. Since then, it has been certified 6x Platinum, spawned two huge crossover hits, and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In addition, as I referenced earlier, Taylor has been literally everywhere these past two years. While I was doing my best to shield my eyes from everything Taylor Swift these past few months, millions of other people attended her sold out Fearless Tour. While radio hits and album sales are nice, I believe touring shows the true testament of an artist’s fan base. Requesting a song on the radio is free and buying an album may set you back $12.99, but if you’re willing shell out $100 concert ticket, that’s dedication. And with 63 sold out cities in four different countries, Taylor Swift has a lot of people hooked.

However, it’s the kind of people that are hooked that will really make the difference when “Speak Now” is released on October 25th. Taylor appeals to two hugely important demographics: tweens and country music fans. Believe it or not, both of these publics still buy albums. She also has undeniable crossover appeal, which will also help when the album hits shelves.

Do I honestly think Taylor will cross the magic million mark when her album is released? No. But it will be pretty damn close and you may even have to get back to me after I hear her first single and see what kind of promotion Borchetta has lined up for her over at Big Machine.

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YOU LOST US

Since Christina Aguilera released “Back to Basics”, a 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz and soul-inspired record in 2006, she has become a wife, mother, and apparently time traveled a few decades to record her self-proclaimed “futuristic” fourth album, “Bionic”. Unfortunately, this process took four years and all but made Christina Aguilera an afterthought in the world of pop music.

Sure, she had done it before. She released her last studio effort, “Back to Basics”, four years after her sophomore hit, “Stripped”. However, “Stripped” went 4x Platinum and spawned six successful singles, including the international smash, “Beautiful”. “Back to Basics” only generated one moderate hit, followed by a string of disappointing single releases. I understand the need to build anticipation and hype between projects, but “Back to Basics” simply wasn’t successful enough to keep her momentum going for another four years.

Have artists rebounded from even longer hiatuses? Of course, but the material needs to be equally strong, if not stronger, than their previous releases and also their current contemporaries. I knew things weren’t going well when “Not Myself Tonight” was recorded and being tacked on to an already finished body of work and being released as the first single. While this is a somewhat common practice, it indicates two things: the album does not contain any hits and the first single is a quick, cheap attempt to push a radio-friendly song that does not necessarily reveal the direction of the entire album. My indication was right.

“Not Myself Tonight” sounded like the same dance-tinged music dominating pop radio at the moment, but without anything to truly make it “special.” While I don’t necessarily like that literally everything and everyone is being compared to Lady GaGa at the moment, Christina, more than anyone, really needed to come out with something to set her apart from GaGa. They are both platinum-blonde pop stars known for both their voices and tendency to go against the grain. However, GaGa out Christina-ed Christina in the less than two years, and unfortunately Chirstina did nothing to retaliate except release a watered down retread with an uninspired, overly provocative video to match. Everything surrounding “Not Myself Tonight” screamed for attention and resulted in her looking more desperate, than innovative.

Before the release of “Bionic”, it was evident RCA was scrambling to salvage the era. Christina made her promotional rounds, singing a variety of songs from the album, once again proving the lack of surefire hits. After waiting almost two months for “Not Myself Tonight” to plummet down the charts, RCA finally announced, “You Lost Me” as the second single. On one hand, I understand the choice. It returned the focus to Christina’s voice and offered no Lady GaGa comparisons. However, it’s July. Radio is not going to touch a dreary, almost old-fashioned ballad in the middle of the summer. I honestly don’t even know if it would have worked in the fall or winter. While it’s not a bad song, it lacks the universal theme of most successful ballads and is certainly no “Beautiful”.

Throughout the promotion of “Bionic”, Christina constantly reminded us that she had been in the business for over a decade. However, I still don’t know who Christina Aguilera is. While I do appreciate a consistent theme throughout an album era, Christina Aguilera first jumped from wholesome teenybopper, to “dirrty” girl X-Tina, then to flapper-esque Baby Jane, and finally to a bondage-loving, bionic space alien. So, what will be Aguilera’s next incarnation? I’m not sure, but I suspect it won’t take another four years, and she will be working with some guaranteed hit makers this time around.

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