Monthly Archives: August 2010

HIT & MISS

HIT

It will be interesting to see how they edit this for radio, but this will smash, regardless. Even if radio is a little reluctant to play it at first, this will be a big iTunes hit. I love the feel good sound contrasted with the angry lyrics. Its already logged over 1.4 million hits on YouTube in just a couple of days, so things are definitely looking good for “Fuck You”. Cee-Lo always comes up with a unique, but radio friendly sound, and it looks like he is going to score his first hit since “Crazy” with this one!

MISS

I really like Natasha and I think she has a great voice, but this song just isn’t doing it for me. While Ryan Tedder has been changing his sound up lately (Check Sky Ferreira’s “Obsession” and BC Jean’s “Just a Guy”), this is a mediocre rehash of his typical mid-tempo production. While it has an inspirational theme similar to “Unwritten” and “Pocketful of Sunshine”, it’s not nearly as catchy or anthemic. I’m reluctant to call this a “miss” since it will most definitely outperform (the superior) “Touch” and could even be a moderate hit, it’s one of my least favorite Natasha singles.

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VMAS 2000-2009

With a new decade of Video Music Awards approaching in less than a month, I think it’s time to look back at the best performances from the 2000s. Appropriately, I first tuned in to the VMAs in 2000, so these are my personal favorites from the past 10 years.

10. “Hips Don’t Lie”
Shakira

VMA 2006

This performance showcases everything I love about Shakira. I want my Shakira to embrace her Latin and Middle Eastern influences, not only because it sets here apart from the rest of the blonde pop stars, but because it's what she does best. Unfortunately, she ditched this schtick for "She Wolf" and went for a more sleek image and dance-oriented sound. This didn't work, but I have a feeling Shakira will be returning to her roots very soon, and I've heard we may even see it come to fruition at the VMAs...

9. "Sober"
P!nk

VMA 2009

Although this high-flying performance doesn't compare to her breathtaking rendition of "Glitter In the Air" at the Grammy Awards, it's still P!nk at her best. Many artists couldn't even stand in one spot without moving and sound this good, but P!nk does it with ease while flying throughout the air. I'm glad she is finally getting some more recognition for her performances, as she is easily one of the most versatile and talented performers.

8. "The Real Slim Shady"
Eminem

VMA 2000

I first watched the VMAs in 2000, and while it may be nostalgia at work, it still remains my favorite year for the award show. This is the first of two performances from that year. Who could forget the parade of Eminem look-a-likes busting through the doors of Radio City? This performance was a true testament to Eminem as more than just a rap artist, but a cultural icon. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

7. "Wall to Wall"/"Umbrella"/"Billie Jean"/"Kiss Kiss"
Chris Brown & Rihanna

VMA 2007

Ah, happier times. Although Rihanna has gone on to become the bigger star, (which may or may not be due to an incident that occurred months after this collaboration) Chris Brown certainly stole the show with this performance. Although the 2007 VMAs were memorable for a few reasons, ("It's Britney, bitch" anyone?) I think this performance will actually be remembered for the right reasons.

6. "Since U Been Gone"
Kelly Clarkson

VMA 2005

Although this is far from Kelly's best vocal performance, it doesn't matter. Kelly was the star of the 2005 VMAs and closed the show with this fun, soaking performance. Not only did she look great, but she truly commanded the stage. Kelly was definitely the "it" girl at the time and proved with this performance she was worthy of the title.

5. "Ring the Alarm"
Beyoncé

VMA 2006

While I have a feeling many people would choose Beyoncé's performances of "Baby Boy/Crazy In Love" or "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" from the VMAs, this was by far my favorite. Sasha Fierce truly came out in this one and she looked more than determined to ring the alarm on someone!

4. "Like a Virgin"/"Hollywood"
Madonna, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera & Missy Elliot

VMA 2003

The best opening performance the VMAs have ever had. What happens when you put the two hottest female pop stars and the "Queen of Pop" herself on stage? This. The Britney and Madonna kiss (sorry Christina, but no one really even remembers you were there) is undoubtedly one of the most classic VMA moments in history. Even Missy Elliot popping out at the end makes sense, kind of. Well, it doesn't really matter--Britney and Madonna just kissed!

3. "I'm A Slave 4 U"
Britney Spears

VMA 2001

From the kiss to the snake, Britney has given always given the most memorable VMA performances. With "I'm a Slave 4 U", Britney proved she wasn't that innocent. While Miley tried to recreate this magic with "Can't Be Tamed", no one quite did the barely legal jungle princess like Britney. Plus, who else could pull off a giant, albino snake around their neck? Beyoncé would end up killing it to make a Deréon purse.

2. Paparazzi
Lady GaGa

VMA 2009

Last year, Lady GaGa brought the shock and awe back to the VMAs that had been missing since 2003, in my opinion. While this performance may have been slightly overshadowed by the infamous Taylor/Kanye moment, this was a career defining moment for GaGa. Supposedly she's not performing this year, which is both odd and disappointing given her record number of nominations…

1. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"/"Oops!… I Did It Again"
Britney Spears

VMA 2000

Out of all the performances on the list, this one surprisingly has the least theatrics. It's just Britney doing what she does best. In my opinion, this performance transcended Britney from bubblegum pop phenomenon to legitimate star. At only eighteen years old, she completely owned the stage and commanded attention. I haven't seen a performance since with so much pure charisma and drive. You can really see how bad Britney wanted it with this performance.

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THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND


This post was inspired by a topic I recently saw on a forum I frequent, where one poster hailed Max Martin as the godfather of modern pop. I can’t say I disagree. No producer has been able to both set and adapt to the trends and changes in pop music quite like Max Martin. He is responsible for iconic first singles (“…Baby One More Time”), career-reviving comeback tracks (“It’s My Life”), and songs that become instant classics (“Since U Been Gone”). Before I say anymore, take a look at these songs and try not to bust out the chorus to all, if not most, of them.

Backstreet Boys – “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”, “I Want It That Way”
*NSYNC – “Tearin’ Up My Heart”
Britney Spears – “…Baby One More Time”, “Oops!… I Did It Again”, “3”
Bon Jovi – “It’s My Life”
Kelly Clarkson – “Since U Been Gone”, “Behind These Hazel Eyes”, “My Life Would Suck Without You”
P!nk – “U + Ur Hand”, “Who Knew”, “So What”
Katy Perry – “I Kissed a Girl”, “Hot N Cold”

In addition to those tracks (which are only a select few from his huge catalog of hits), just this summer he had both Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream”, Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”, and Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” dominating the airwaves. Max Martin successfully rode the wave of bubblegum teen pop, to infectious pop/rock, and is now responsible for some of the biggest electro-pop hits. Regardless of how the pop music is influenced, Max Martin is the quintessential pop producer and songwriter, creating the catchiest songs tailor-made for radio. Here’s to another decade of Martin produced hits!

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THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS


I’ve currently got my eye on two young, female singers: Sky Ferreria, 18, and Taylor Momsen, 17, of The Pretty Reckless. I think they will both be ones to watch this fall…

Let’s start with Sky. She released “17”, an underage ode to clubbing, as a teaser single this spring. While definitely not a pop hit, the video for this promo single certainly played up Sky’s Lolita-esque vibe. I have a feeling her age will play an important role in her marketing campaign, similar to Britney’s days as a naughty school girl in “…Baby One More Time”. Her first single in the UK, “One”, produced by Bloodshy & Avant, is perfect for the European market. With its highly stylized video and electro-pop vibe, it should do well on the charts. However, I don’t think it would do well in the US and her label seems to be on the same page. Last week, a clip of “Obsession”, Sky’s first proper American single, leaked. Not only is it her first non-numeric titled release, it sounds like a bonafide pop smash. Although it’s produced by Ryan Tedder, it (thankfully) doesn’t sound anything like a typical Ryan Tedder production. I don’t like to draw comparisons, but I will anyways. It sounds a bit like a hybrid of “Womanizer” and “Cooler Than Me”, and I’d be surprised if top 40 didn’t jump on it. She’s Miley Cyrus without the Disney sheen and a throwback to Britney’s jail bait days. What more could someone ask for?

Besides their age, Taylor Momsen and Sky Ferreira don’t have much in common. While I said Sky was like Miley without the Disney sheen, Taylor is more likely to set Disney World on fire (literally). While I heard about some of her “eccentric” interview responses before I actually listened to her music, I was impressed with what I finally heard. Looking beyond some of her kooky quotes, she actually has a great voice. She sounds much older and more mature than 17, and actually has a really interesting tone and quality. I was especially impressed with her acoustic version of “Just Tonight”, the only song on her album that I think has any legitimate chance of becoming a top 40 hit. I honestly don’t even know if a top 40 hit is something she’s vying for, but this could do the trick. (The 30-second album clip of “Just Tonight” sounds even better with fuller instrumentation.) While Taylor’s definitely seems a little out there, her voice and songs certainly speak for themselves. Even though a lot of her music is a little heavier than what I usually listen to, the songs are well written and some even border on legitimately catchy. She’s certainly not Cindy Lou Who anymore, that’s for sure!

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…SHOULD BE MORE FAMOUS

Sometimes, I’m baffled as to how an artist didn’t make it big (or even score a legitimate hit). Jon McLaughlin is one of those artists. He’s a great singer, songwriter, pianist, and also has a great look. While his first album was a little dull, I really like quite a few tracks on his more pop-oriented sophomore effort. Check out both “Dance Your Life Away” and “Four Years”, two tracks which could have easily followed “Beating My Heart”. I honestly don’t know what he’s up to at the moment, but IDJ never really gave him the push he deserved. I feel like IDJ had two perfect package artists, Jessie James and Jon McLaughlin, but weren’t able to break either of them. What’s up with that?

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SHOULDA, COULDA, WOULDA

This will be another recurring post, because a lot of great songs often go unreleased. For whatever reason, labels rarely choose singles wisely. Almost every album has that one song that should have been a single, but wasn’t. In Leona’s case, the label gave up on “Echo” after “Happy” underperformed and “I Got You” flopped. I personally like “Echo” more than “Spirit”, but unfortunately things didn’t get off to a great start with the first two singles and most people still only know Leona as the girl who sings “Bleeding Love”. While I can see why they were reluctant to release “Outta My Head” in the US, it would have undoubtedly been huge internationally. Leona needed a change of pace to reignite interest and this track could have definitely done the trick. I know it’s hard to turn things around after two unsuccessful singles, but I hate when labels (and artists) give up on an album after only a few months. There were definitely more singles on “Echo”, and “Outta My Head” could have been another pop hit for Leona. I guess she’ll just be singing “Bleeding Love” for a couple more years…

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BREAKING & ENTERING

I rarely hear songs for the first time on the radio, but this was an exception. Although “If I Die Young” isn’t usually the sound I gravitate towards, there was something about the lyrics and Kimberly Perry’s vocal delivery that really made me stop and listen. I love that this song has a unique subject matter and I think the lyrics are actually very clever. I admit, I’m not one to pay too much attention to lyrics, but they really make this song. I think this will end up being a big hit for The Band Perry, relative newcomers to the country music scene. It is #34 on iTunes (#4 on country iTunes behind Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Sugarland), which is very impressive for a new country act. I’ve also seen the songs lyrics on some Facebook statuses, which is a sure sign that it’s connecting. Could The Band Perry be the next big thing in country music?

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