Monthly Archives: December 2012

BREAKING & ENTERING

Havana Brown had a hit this summer with “We Run the Night,” but we could be hearing from another female Aussie in 2013. Samantha Jade won this season of The X Factor in Australia, but isn’t’ exactly a stranger to the music industry. She’s written songs for JoJo and Ashley Tisdale, was signed to Jive Records, and is featured on David Guetta’s album “One Love.” However, I’m all for not-so-amateur contestants appearing on singing competition shows (see: Cassadee Pope) and getting a second shot at success. Samantha’s winning single, “What You’ve Done to Me,” is far better than what most winners get to release following their coronation. The song was co-written by Jörgen Elofsson, who, by no surprise, is Swedish and a product of Cheiron Studios. He’s been penning hits for well over a decade, spanning from Britney Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy” to Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” Samantha’s song is the catchy pop we’ve come to expect, with a carefree electropop sound reminiscent of “Call Me Maybe.” Of course, the track has already hit #1 in her native Australia–but is the rest of the world next? This definitely sounds like it could be a hit worldwide, so it will be interesting to see if Sony gives it a push in 2013. She’s also really hot (see above) and the kind of commercial artist that wouldn’t have a shot in hell at winning The X Factor in the US, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Filed under Future, Music on TV, New Music, New Singles

A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, A LITTLE BIT ROCK & ROLL

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In 2010, I featured Hey Monday in a “…Should be More Famous” post. Fast forward a couple years, and the band’s lead singer, Cassadee Pope, just won The Voice. I’m a sucker for music competition shows, but the previous two seasons of The Voice didn’t possess a single competitor who had star quality. Cassadee does. Now, let’s hope they don’t screw it up.

During her stint on the show, three of Cassadee’s cover songs hit #1 on iTunes. All three of them were country tunes. With the success of those singles and Blake Shelton as her mentor, there’s undoubtedly going to be some push for her to go country. But, Cassadee’s not a country artist. Given her history with Hey Monday and (apparently unconditional) love of Avril Lavigne, it’s pretty clear her heart lies in pop/rock. And let’s face it–Blake’s legion of fans were probably the ones more apt to download “Over You” as opposed to “Not Over You.” Having her record a country album would be like Carrie Underwood releasing a rock record based on the popularity of her Idol performance of “Alone.” Even with Blake’s blessing, it would probably be an uphill battle for Cassadee on country radio. First and foremost, she’s a female. She also has tattoos and used to front a pop/rock band. Cue the shock and horror. All the country starpower in the world won’t change the minds of country radio’s staunchy PDs. But, I digress and will save that rant for another post.

Although it wouldn’t be in her best interest to release a full on country album, that doesn’t mean country songwriters shouldn’t be commissioned to work on her debut. In fact, they absolutely should. Above all, it’s Cassadee interpretation of the lyrics that sold those songs. Something like an updated version of her cover of Faith Hill’s “Cry” would work–and based on what I’ve heard Cassadee tell the press, that’s exactly what she’s looking for. Songs with solid stories can be backed by instruments besides fiddle, banjo or steel guitar. It’s also a given that Blake will appear on her debut album and a duet in the vein of “Just a Fool,” would be just as perfect for him and Cassadee as it was for him and Christina. Pairing well-written songs with Cassadee’s signature sound would be an appealing compromise for both the pop/rock and country fans she’s attracted throughout the course of her career and the show.

When it all comes down to it, Cassadee just needs a great song–and quick. On one hand, there’s nothing worse than a rushed album with lackluster singles and a bunch of filler; I’m not saying her album has to be out in a month (even though Cassadee is apparently ready to release something as soon as January). But, they need to, at the very least, release the lead single during the spring season of The Voice. If the previous winner doesn’t have any original material out before the next cycle’s champion, then they run the risk of quickly being forgotten. The album doesn’t have to be her “Breakaway,” just her “Thankful.” She can try on some different sounds and genres, but the first single has to be great. I understand why talent show winners, like The Voice’s very own Jermaine Paul or The X Factor’s Melanie Amaro, didn’t get good material to release. Their success was confined to the few months within the show and they never really had a shot on mainstream relevancy. Cassadee does. Based on what I’ve heard, it seems like Cassadee has a clear, and ambitious, sense of what she needs to do and when she needs to do it by. I hope that once more people (i.e. the label) start getting involved in the project, it doesn’t stray off course. In fact, I hope she’s writing a hit song with her roommate, Alli Tamposi, of “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” as I’m posting this…

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Filed under More Famous, Music on TV, Successes

IN DOUBT

NoDoubt

Less than three months after releasing their “comeback” album, No Doubt is back in the studio with Shellback, one of the industry’s go-to radio friendly pop producers (see: “Moves Like Jagger,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Wanna Go”). After a decade-long hiatus between albums, No Doubt’s “Push and Shove” didn’t incite any of the excitement as suggested by the album’s title and failed to reestablish the band as hitmakers. So, what went wrong?

The first signs of trouble came with the album’s numerous push backs. After reuniting in 2009, No Doubt went on tour after hitting a snag in the studio. Following the tour, the album finally came to fruition, but was held back for release until the fall of this year. Any time a label sits on an album for an extended period of time, it’s an indication that something is wrong. It’s likely Interscope didn’t hear any surefire hits and were pushing for a collaboration with Shellbeck (or one of his cohorts, like Max Martin or Dr. Luke) in the first place. At this point, No Doubt has certainly earned the right to record and release the music they want. However, the rush back to the studio with one of today’s hottest mainstream producers is certainly telling. The majority of “Push and Shove” was produced by Mike “Spike” Stent, who also produced a bulk of No Doubt’s 2001 release, “Rock Steady,” including the hit singles “Hey Baby” and “Underneath It All.” That album went double platinum. “Push and Shove” is struggling to cross 200,000 units, which even in today’s climate, is pretty abysmal for an “eagerly awaited” (or apparently not so) comeback.

It comes down to more than just the music that stalled No Doubt’s return. Yes, the majority of the album lacks the qualities of both the music popular today and what made their past hits huge successes. The project’s first single, “Settle Down,” had the most potential to reintroduce No Doubt to the mainstream market. While it wasn’t an ear worm in the “Call Me Maybe” sense, it was catchy enough and reminiscent of the band’s past hits. Unfortunately, the release was botched from the get go. Instead of releasing a radio edit to iTunes, only the six minute album version was released. While I legally downloaded the (unnecessarily long) single, I also illegally downloaded the radio edit and listened to that far more often. In today’s culture of iPod playlists (whether it be for a party, car ride or the gym), a six minute song drags. It’s fine to include on the album, but not so much for a digital single. Additionally, the single’s debut performance was on the Teen Choice Awards. While this may have been a desperate bid to capture the tween market, it was just… out of place. The 12-year-olds watching the Teen Choice Awards for Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are not going to download No Doubt’s new single. Although Gwen looks great for her age, a band of 40-year-olds isn’t going to pique the interest of today’s teens who weren’t even alive for No Doubt’s heyday. The Teen Choice Awards was not the right venue to stage a comeback performance for No Doubt.

The release of the album’s second single was just as messy. After “Settle Down” slid down the chart, the album was released without a current single to support it. The title track, produced by Diplo, was put on iTunes and supported by a video, but never actually pushed as a single (and likely wouldn’t have worked on any format at radio). Instead, “Looking Hot” was released, complete with a Native American-themed video. As you can image, that didn’t go over well and was almost immediately pulled. While this probably resulted in more publicity for No Doubt than they received the entire era, it didn’t translate into sales or radio play. As “Settle Down” was to “Hey Baby,” “Looking Hot” was to “Hella Good”–a less catchy, watered down version of a past hit. Even after the video was pulled, No Doubt performed the single on the American Music Awards and The X Factor in the UK. But, all the controversies and promotion in the world couldn’t save the song or album. So, here we are.

Before the release of this album, No Doubt embarked on a successful greatest hits/comeback tour. But, they can’t go on another one. Unless No Doubt is content with being a legacy act and living off old hits, they need to repackage “Push and Shove” in the first quarter of 2013 and score a hit to support a tour. There is enough material on the album to occupy their fans without having to record an entirely new record. At this point, “No Doubt” needs to tack on their own “Moves Like Jagger.” As history has shown, one hit single is all that’s needed to reignite interest in a faltering project. No Doubt and Gwen still have name recognition and with the right song, could garner support from radio and the music buying public. I believe No Doubt can have a comeback. This just wasn’t it.

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Filed under Comebacks, Mistakes