You know, after ‘working’ so hard, Britney Spears had the most lackadaisical sales week of her lengthy career. Sure, there are artists who would salivate over the 107,000 copies Ms. Spears moved with Britney Jean, but if you look contextually, you’ll see ole girl had a tepid showing on the sales front. 107,000 copies in a more robust December would barely give Spears a top ten bow. She manages to land at no. 4, preserving her run of top four bows. Still, 107,000 copies is a very small ceiling for Spears, or any artist.
But the headline is not Britney Spears – it’s Garth Brooks. After debuting at no. 3 with Blame it All On My Roots, he ascends to no. 1 moving nearly as many copies… whoa! After selling a strong 164,000 copies last week for a no. 3 bow, Brooks sells 146,000 more copies, a very small percentage drop. Brooks’ continued success is definitely a bright spot for country music, who save for a few artists/albums (Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton namely) hasn’t had its greatest showing in 2013.
Other than Britney and Garth, things are relatively boring. One Direction plummets in sales after moving a robust 546,000 copies of Midnight Memories its first week. 117,000 copies is the grand total within the second week, but it’s enough to hold off Britney and just slip one spot to no. 2. Kelly Clarkson also managed to scoot ahead of Britney Jean, just compounding Britney’s not-so-good week. No, there’s no animosity between the pop stars, but Clarkson’s album has now been out for several weeks and is a Christmas album (Wrapped in Red).
With holdovers playing their usual role within the top ten, the most notable movements worth mentioning are the ascent of Pentatonix (PTXmas) at no. 7, the re-entrance of Michael Buble (Christmas) at no. 8, and an ascent by Mary J. Blige (A Mary Christmas) at no. 10. Blige’s sales increases are likely attributed to not only the holiday, but also quite possibly the $3.99 amazon.com deal going on with the mp3 version of the effort.
After a return to the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, Miley Cyrus is once more dethroned, but not by Lorde. After several weeks of hovering near the top, Eminem and his favorite female collaborator, Rihanna crown the singles chart with “The Monster”. Does Em have another “Love the Way You Lie” on his hands? We’ll see!
Whose got next? Good question. R. Kelly (Black Panties) and Childish Gambino (Because the Internet) were the two most notable releases of the week, but contextually, I’m not sure that that means much. R. Kelly would be a lock for a no. 1 years back, but his sales have dwindled tremendously in recent times. As for Childish Gambino, I’m curious to see what the sales figures are like. I hope he over-performs, but who knows. I expect a holdover will top the chart.
- On the Charts: Like Old Times for Britney and Garth (rollingstone.com)
- ‘Britney Jean’ nets Britney Spears her worst opening week ever; Garth Brooks and Duck Dynasty carry on (music-mix.ew.com)
- One Direction Claim Yet Another No. 1 With ‘Midnight Memories’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Britney Spears Scores Worst Debut Yet With Britney Jean (Roll Call) – ARTICLE (entertainably.com)
- Oops … The Album ‘Bombed!’ Britney Spears’ New Album Set To Debut At #4 With Her Worst-Ever First Week Sales (radaronline.com)
So the Grammy nominations just came out, and guess who is already putting his two cents in about who’s gonna win? This guy is! Yep it is technically ‘way too early’, but who cares? How about some December predictions for what’s gonna go down in January?
The Big Four
Record of the Year
“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons
“Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell
This is one of the most competitive categories, period. All five of these are worthy records, which isn’t always true. If one feels like it’s out of place, it is Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven”, mostly because it is the ‘oldest’ of the bunch.
Both “Blurred Lines” and “Royals” are deserving of love based on their impact, but just because you ruled the Hot 100 certainly doesn’t equate to a Grammy. If one of these two wins, I’d give the edge to Lorde, who doesn’t have various controversies on her back. Still, rock would get a huge recognition if Imagine Dragons’ mammoth hit “Radioactive” was awarded here. Still, doesn’t Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” seem unavoidable here, particularly if the duo is victorious in the Album of the Year category?
Way Too Early Pick:
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Album of the Year
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar
The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red, Taylor Swift
I’m not even going to curb my biases – I’m rooting for Kendrick Lamar’s rap opus Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. But I won’t even begin to act like it has a shot after hip-hop has been avoided like a plague in this coveted category; its only been a decade since OutKast’s undeniable masterpiece Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was awarded AOTY. But Kendrick also has killer competition within his own genre with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ breakthrough The Heist, which is certainly considered more ‘friendly’ hip-hop. I think both cancel each other out, which leaves Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and Daft Punk. As good as Red is, Taylor Swift has already won for her career-breakthrough, Fearless. Sara Bareilles’ inclusion over bigger pop albums is shocking, but never count out the surprise nominee… sometimes that’s the album that wins. Personally, I think Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is the frontrunner.
Way Too Early Pick:
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Song of the Year
“Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)
“Roar” (Katy Perry)
“Same Love” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)
Another big-time category, my goodness! All of the nominees here should be jumping for joy that “Get Lucky” wasn’t nominated in this category. Again, I’m going to eliminate “Locked Out Of Heaven”, no matter how good it is; I don’t think it’s Bruno’s year. While I love Pink and approved of “Just Give Me The Reason” (with Nate Ruess of fun.), I’m not sure the no. 1 hit is the best song of the year. If the voters want to go bold (and political), they vote for the fine “Same Love”, courtesy of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. If they don’t, they’re left with the inspirational breakthrough “Roar” and the ubiquitous “Royals”. If Katy Perry was ever to win a Grammy, “Royals” would be the perfect song. However, that “Royals” is one unique song contrasting its fellow nominees.
Way Too Early Pick
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Another category where I’m biased to one artist – Kendrick Lamar! Again though, Lamar is up against heavyweights Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Kacey Musgraves unapologetic brand of country is notable from what I heard, but I’m not sure she outpaces the huge hip-hop nominees. Ed Sheeran feels either a year late or a year early, depending on your perspective, but could certainly play spoils. James Blake’s nod is a ‘trap’ for the hip-hop favorites, amplified by his Mercury Prize victory for superb sophomore album Overgrown. I’m truly torn here, so I’ll go with who I think is most deserving, even if it doesn’t come to pass.
Way Too Early Pick
Justin Bieber • “Confident” – Single • Island • US Release Date: December 9, 2013
Justin Biebers’ Music Mondays is the gift that keeps on giving to Beliebers, pop-cultural buffs, and music journalists alike. I mean, I thought Kanye West had something good going with Good Fridays back-when, but my boy Biebz just keeps on surprising and outperforming expectations. The blogosphere goes ape-sh*t with each new excerpt from JB’s ‘journals’. Speaking of those journals, it was recently reported on billboard.com the Justin Bieber will be packaging his Music Mondays releases temporarily as an iTunes only set called Journals beginning on December 16th, 2013. Basically, the teen-pop star is rolling in the dough, and will likely continue to roll with the singles growing more mature. His latest track, “Confident”, definitely shakes off any remnants that might’ve remained from “Baby” or dare I say “One Time”. Chance the Rapper matches his collaboration with R. Kelly (“PYD”), definitely ‘keepin’ it one hunna’.
So how confident is “Confident”? Well, let’s say the self-esteem and self-efficacy are top-notch for sure. Bieber isn’t referring to his own confidence or swagger (for once), but rather the hot lady’s confidence that he’s got his eye on. Throughout, Bieber’s hormones are going crazy evidenced by lyrical moments such as “Then she started dancing, sexual romancing / nasty but she fancy, lipstick on my satin sheets / what’s your nationality / I wonder if there’s more of you” or the later “She said it’s her first time / I think she might have lied…I’m addicted, something like an addict / got me twisted, but I still gotta have it…” Sure, Bieber doesn’t come right out and say it in R. Kelly fashion, but like “PYD”, the suggestiveness is steered more towards sex than not, a clear change of pace in Bieber’s career.
Serving as the confirmation to the newfound adult themes is Chance the Rapper, who basically does the ‘dirty work’ for Bieber lyrically on his guest verse. “She the first mate wanna rock the boat / she never forget to ride like a bicycle,” certainly would’ve received some flack had Bieber delivered such suggestive slang. Even so, “Confident” seems like an eye-freak sort of a track if I ever heard one. Ultimately, I’m pretty confident that Bieber’s artistic direction is on an upswing – yep, I really just said that.
- Bieber Strikes Gold on Surprising “PYD” (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Justin Bieber Will Release His #MusicMondays Songs As an Album (celebuzz.com)
- #HYPE Justin Bieber F. Chance The Rapper “Confident” (omitlimitation.com)
- Listen to Justin Bieber’s Collaboration With Chance The Rapper “Confident” (complex.com)
- Justin Bieber ft. Chance the Rapper – “Confident” [LISTEN] (hiphopwired.com)
- Justin Bieber teams up with Chance the Rapper for New Jam ‘Confident’ (news.radio.com)
Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet is one of 2013’s most ambitious albums
Childish Gambino • Because The Internet • Glassnote • US Release Date: December 10, 2013
The saying in basketball is “you live by the three, you die by the three.” What does a basketball saying have to do with a hip-hop you ask? Well, instead of living or dying from shot selection, Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) thrives more often than not from his ambition on his 2013 effort Because of the Internet. Just how ambitious is this affair that hails from the same label that houses Mumford and Sons? Well, it is accompanied by 75-page script featured on the site http://becausetheinter.net. Ultimately, I appreciate Gambino’s willingness to go outside of the box in what sometimes can be a very single dimensional genre only concerned with materialistic things. That said, if there is a rub, it is that Because The Internet is overambitious and sometimes requires multiple listens to completely comprehend. Still, isn’t that part of the fun of a conceptual affair?
I won’t rely on Gambino’s script for this review – you can seek that out for yourself (“ain’t nobody got time for that!”, LOL). But following the anticipatory intro “The Library”, things kick off in, well, WTF mode. From a first listen, deciphering “I. Crawl” is an adventure because it isn’t what the ear expects, period. Because of its uniqueness, it is incredibly appealing after a couple of spins. Gambino contributes plenty of solid lyrics, many filled with clever pop-cultural allusions. In verse one, he slaughters from the onset, eventually referencing Clarissa Explains It All: “Who am I? / Rec League, I ain’t payin’ to ball / y’all B-string like a broke guitar / and I still put it down like the family dog / Yeah I murder some, I murder one / explain it all Ferguson.” Verse two continues to ‘murder’ as Gambino “…scorch[es] winters, I burn autumns / gut n***as, so Kurt Vonne / Elle Varner, got a crush on her / I gotta wait in line for that / ain’t nobody got time for that…” Far-reaching, “Crawl” is a gem.
“II. Worldstar” is no slouch itself, sporting hardcore production work and electrifying rhymes from Gambino. “Blow up / World Star before rap / you already know that / so Fresh Prince, they are about to bring the show back,” CG raps, arguably referencing his acting career prior to rap (Community being his big claim to fame). He’s edgier when talking about his “girl” on the second verse in which he spits “My girl ain’t bad, she more like evil… on Hollywood and Vine / thinkin’ that she Hollywood on Vine / Making movies with her friends all the time / showin’ off her a$$, that’s a net twerk / but I saw through it like a wet shirt …” Low blow? Perhaps, but CG’s word play is undeniable; Donald Glover can rap.
Following a brief 0:44 interlude “Dial Up”, Gambino taps Chance The Rapper for one of the album’s best, “I. The Worst Guys.” Just how bad are these dudes? Well, they leave a cliffhanger on the hook, but it’s obvious where they’re going (“All she needed was some…”). Throughout, CG alludes to the ‘three-letter word’ throughout his verses: “At a Clippers game on the courtside / watch a n***a shoot like a 4-5 / they mad at me too, I got more fire / when these b**ches see you, ‘go home, Roger’.” Yep, you got it; it’s a Sister Sister allusion. Later, Gambino gets rawer, bragging about “…a ménage and murdered the… but, afterwards, it was awkward… I couldn’t finish, got the Uber from her place…” He ends up smoking and “listening to the neighbors” after his sexual mishap… read into that how you wish.
“II. Shadows” possesses a quicker pace than “The Worst Guys”, with a more soulful, driving groove. S-E-X is still on the brain, as Gambino keeps it simple on the hook: “Tuesday afternoon, I ain’t got sh*t to do / but fall in love with you / love me better, kiss me back, listen more…” If that wasn’t enough, he makes the obligatory Jay-Z and Beyoncé power couple reference, though detours twistedly in the same line when he raps “…My aunt say ‘keep the sex game picante’ / the Aunt May and Mary Jane that I was hitting on / we were trying to forget that there was something wrong…” Um Yeah… Like many other cuts, there is a production switch-up, which keeps things fresh and very much alt-minded.
“III. Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd)” fits this effort as perfectly as everything else because of its unorthodox nature. R&B singer Lloyd handles the first portion of this cut, before Childish Gambino takes over. He references the album title and theme within his rapped verse: “All the girlfriends saying ‘ here we go again’ / rich kid but he act like a gentleman / last one didn’t end like it should’ve been / tow dates and he still wanna get it in / and you’re saying it’s because of the Internet / try once again and it’s on to the next chick / X-O the O face on your exes right…”
Child Gambino is on autopilot on both “Sweatpants”, featuring Problem, and on promo single “3005.” The most memorable line from “Sweatpants” has to be the repeated gem “Rich kid, a$$hole: paint me as a villain”. Gambino confirms he’s an “a-hole”, epitomized by his cocky, confidence (“Don’t be mad cause I’m doing me better than you doing you…” or “I’m winning so they had to dump the Gatorade / and I don’t give a f**k ‘bout my family name”). On “3005”, Childish Gambino is dedicated through the end of time – specifically year 3005 – to his boo. “…F**k these other n***as, I’ll be right by your side / ‘til 3005, hol’ up,” he proclaims on the hook. Gambino playfully illustrates the ‘play’ between him and his ‘ride or die’, which is, well bold. Ultimately, “Sweatpants” and “3005” make a sick, one-two punch.
“Playing Around Before the Party Starts” is literal; there is only a piano playing, LOL. “I. The Party” the follows is pretty brief, but despite being only a minute and a half in length, it allures. How does CG cap it off? Like this: “I invite all these people to my mother f**kin’ house / Get the f**k out of my house!” After the party comes a horrible druggy, mental state of sorts, via “II. No Exit.” The focus of the track’s protagonist is a spider… specifically a “brown recluse”. The spider itself doesn’t seem important, but what’s more disturbing is just how f**ked up Gambino sounds here; he literally has “no exit” mentally. Of course, brief instrumental interlude “Death By Numbers” proceeds… hmm. Yet another suite follows.
“I. Flight of the Navigator” is all about love and romance. Honestly, if you’d heard the earlier “Worst Guys”, you’d wonder if this was the same guy. “Just hold me close my darling,” Gambino sings on this alt-R&B number. Hey, emo-rap is the new gangsta, right? If “Flight of the Navigator” was too ‘sensitive’, “II. Zealots of Stockholm [Free Information]” is easily the album’s most manic and possibly creative showing. At first, it seems that Gambino seems content slated in the alt-R&B/alt-rap sub-style, but a change of pace makes what seems to be a predictable cut much more unpredictable. After rapping, even more surprises grace “Zealots” including an uncredited female guest spot, and another production switch-up. Gambino’s second verse yields some of his best rhymes: “Heathen, it is a struggle just to keep breathing / existential asthmatic, puff puff pass addict… making moves but they sleeping on me / we can kick it like it’s FIFA, homie…” He even gets socially conscious: “I never understood the hate on a n***a’s preference / when every marriage is a same sex marriage / same sex everyday, monotonous…” “Zealots” rocks. “III. Urn”, an interlude, closes the album’s final suite.
Three tracks remain on Because of the Internet. “Pink Toes” finds Gambino collaborating exceptionally with Jhené Aiko. “Pink Toes” ends up being fascinating because basically the protagonist is ‘slanging’ drugs and his girl (played by Aiko) rides with him regardless. Gambino and Aiko seem to have similar attitudes, perhaps best summed up by the outro: “I never worry ‘bout it / I have my n***a count it / she’s dressed up in gold…” On “Earth: The Oldest Computer”, the memorable year 3005 returns once more: “3005, the year that we fear, only God will survive / to be alone is alive.” Most unique (or odd) about this track is a guest spot by the brash Azelia Banks, who is controlled here…
Closer “Life: The Biggest Troll” has one of the more interesting hooks of the year as follows: “Andrew Auernheimer / pulling on her weave / it’s that Andrew Auernheimer.” Who is Mr. Auernheimer you ask? He is famous hacker known by the name weev; there has been plenty of press in regards to Auernheimer. This allusion definitely matches the title of the effort, Because the Internet. While the internet and weev are both associated with ‘trolling’, Gambino considers life itself and perhaps even his character within this narrative to be the biggest troll. “Man made the web, you don’t need a name / man made of faults, I ain’t too ashamed… trolling, trolling, trolling these n***as /rick rolling these n***as, they mad cause they don’t know any better…” As ambitious and perhaps even as confounding as other cuts, “Life: The Biggest Troll” closes Because the Internet exceptionally.
Ultimately, Because the Internet ends up being one of the year’s more interesting, creative efforts. While it overreaches with its script and concept, there is plenty of wealth for the listener, particularly the multidimensional listener to embrace. Childish Gambino is an incredibly underrated MC and musician, but he shouldn’t be following this enjoyable affair.
“I. Crawl”; “I. The Worst Guys”; “IV. Sweatpants”; “V. 3005”; “II. Zealots of Stockholm”; “Pink Toes”
- Childish Gambino “Because the Internet” Album Review (neverdielame.com)
- Childish Gambino – Because the Internet Review (http://www.youtube.com/user/brooksurbanleakz/videos)
- Video: Childish Gambino Feat. Chance The Rapper “The Worst Guys” (neverdielame.com)
- New Post: Childish Gambino- SweatPants (deadendhiphop.com)
- Childish Gambino: because the internet – review (theguardian.com)
So some things went down in music this past weekend, as they always do. But being December, it’s naturally busier within the holiday season, with more ‘hustle and bustling’ happening. Some of the hustling and bustling was just too colorful not to mention, so watch me ‘go to work’ folks!
Selena Gomez’s Bad Night
Friday, December 6, 2013
Apparently, Selena Gomez got incredibly frustrated on stage at the Jingle Ball 2013 and left her set early after microphone issues. According the Us Weekly, this involved a colorful f-word many frequent during those rebellious teen and collegiate years. Ultimately, from what I gather, didn’t seem like the greatest moment for the young star… I wouldn’t have wanted to “Come & Get It” anyways – remember my review of Stars Dance? Just saying!
Does Carrie Underwood Have an Even Worse One?
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Carrie Underwood apparently didn’t do The Sound of Music justice, or at least the critics give it the big thumbs down. Actually, no only was it the critics, but also one of the original cast members, Kym Karath. I mean, all I have to do is do a Google search of “Carrie Underwood Sound of Music” and the links of reviews and buzz are infinite. USA Today features an article entitled Carrie Underwood ‘proud’ of ‘Sound of Music’, certainly a defense from the country superstar to the critical panning. An obvious sign of frustration from the usually cool, collected singer? Killing ‘em with Jesus via tweet:
Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight… 1 Peter 2:1-25—
Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) December 07, 2013
Personally, I enjoy Carrie Underwood, but one of her shortcomings for me is how her personality translates artistically. She definitely has a voice on her, but few could also be a credible replacement for Julie Andrews. Classics are difficult to remake for a reason –their classics. I was not privy to the NBC performance, however it didn’t sound like a good idea when I heard it was going to occur.
The Grammy Nominations Are In…
Friday, December 6, 2013
On Friday night, the Grammy nominations were announced at the annual Grammy Nomination Concert. This was the first concert I missed and for two reasons – (1) I forgot and (2) I was more focused on watching my Kentucky Wildcats play a basketball game versus Baylor, which they dropped 67-62. Oh well, at least the nominations were much more up my alley than they have been in previous years, which is shocking. Among the nods that most pleased me were big time nominations for Kendrick Lamar (Good Kid M.A.A.D. City), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Thrift Shop), Daft Punk (Random Access Memories), and Lorde (“Royals”). Among puzzlements were an album of the year nomination for Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest and Justin Timberlake’s snubs in the biggest categories of record, album, and song of the year. Sigh, you win some, you lose some I guess. By the way, Billboard has an interesting read on Grammy Nominations Concert: Things You Didn’t See on TV.
Robin Thicke Gets Support from Soul Vet in Defense of “Blurred Lines”
Saturday, December 7, 2003
There’s been a ton of controversy surrounding “Blurred Lines” despite its monstrous popularity. Before the cool “Royals” came along and dominated the single headlines, there was “Blurred Lines” which just kept on going and going and going – yeah sorta like the Energizer Bunny. Anyways, with a lawsuit pending over whether Thicke ‘lifted’ “Blurred Lines” from Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got to Give It Up”, Earth Wind & Fire’s Verdine White provided his two cents, defending the same point that I made that Thicke did not ‘cop’ “Blurred Lines”. I’ve always said the inspiration was there, but there are differences where the music theory is concerned between both songs.
Disappointing Pending Album Sales for Britney Spears?
Friday, December 6, 2013
Britney Spears’ new effort Britney Jean hasn’t exactly been a critical smash (see Metacritic), but does that always matter if you can offset the bashing with album sales? Why Of course not as money is money! The problem is, Britney Jean’s pending numbers are looking pretty skinny. And we thought that Lady Gaga had a bad week contextually with ARTPOP. According to billboard.com, Spears is expected to sell between 115,000 and 120,000 copies of her latest. While there are artists who’d kill for those numbers, they don’t match the singers past triumphs and may hold her from no. 1. Going back to the critical thing, well, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Britney Jean, but it had its moments. Single “Work B**ch” was among ‘em.
Joe Jonas’ Confessions
December 1, 2013
So Joe Jonas has revealed he is “not that innocent” this past week via a New York Magazine article, Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother. Someone get Usher’s 2004 Confessions album cued up, will ya? What is more surprising is just how rebellious the former Disney star has been considering the façade being ‘put on’. Sure, if any other 20 year old discussed losing his virginity it wouldn’t be shocking (probably just another notch on the belt as they say), but it becomes sensational news with a Jo Bro. I mean, did were we ready for such a brash tone from Joe throughout the article? While Jonas’ sexual history is ultimately his business, perhaps it was his Miley Cyrus / Demi Lovato marijuana dare that is more troubling, considering they are couple of years younger than Jonas and at the time of the great ‘lighting up’, they would’ve been like 14… Hmm. The Hollywood Reporter did a fine job of summing up the confessions.
As far as the reactions, well they range as to be expeced. Dylan Sprouse and Zendaya, both of Disney fame had reactions (Former Disney Stars Respond To Joe Jonas’ Confessional). Personally, I’m both interested yet apathetic. It is interesting to find out that Joe Jonas was more like your normal young adult than Disney wanted to present, but the other side of that is, so what?
- NBC’s “The Sound Of Music” – Starring Carrie Underwood – Is a Massive Rating Success (roughstock.com)
- Carrie Underwood ‘Proud’ Of ‘Sound Of Music Live!’ Performance After Original Star Blasts Her (contactmusic.com)
- Who the Von Trapps Wish Could Replace Carrie Underwood in ‘The Sound of Music Live’ (abcnews.go.com)
- In Defense of Carrie Underwood (entertainment.time.com)
- ‘Sound of Music’ — and Underwood — largely a success (newsday.com)
One Direction do the predictable – debut at no. 1 and move lots of albums. Midnight Memories managed to sell 546,000 copies, giving the Brit-Irish boy band its largest sales week ever. 2012 sophomore album Take Me Home moved 540,000 copies to give the band a second no. 1 in the US. It was history when their debut effort, Up All Night, debuted in the top spot in early 2012, though its numbers were just a fraction of what the last two studio albums have sold (176,000). As for newbies on the chart, Garth Brooks does some work as Blame It All on My Roots sold 164,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. That is awesome considering it’s a box set. Box sets tend to be more expensive and generally move less copies. Given it’s release during the Black Friday hubbub and its exclusivity via Walmart, it’s not shocking Brooks had some takers. Besides One Direction and Brooks, the week was all about previously releases efforts.
Eminem once more was forced from the top perch to no. 2, but sold 199,000 more copies of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (already platinum). Others holding over include The Robertsons’ Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), Katy Perry’s Prism (no. 5), Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 6), Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP (no. 7) and Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party. What is significant about those albums? They all sold > 100,000 copies. Miley Cyrus also and Now 48 close out the top ten at nos. 9 and 10 respectively, but sold 79,000 and 77,000 copies, breaking the >100,000 copies sold.
Lorde’s Hot 100 reign is officially over with “Royals” – well at least for the time being. It was a nice nine weeks for Lorde, who has no reason to hang her teenage head. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” climbs it way back to the no. 1 spot. “Wrecking Ball” is the song that just can’t keep people from talking, really! Better yet, it can’t keep people from making their own versions…
Whose Got Next? Britney Spears of course, but the numbers are looking relatively small, with Billboard prognosticating between 115,000 to 120,000 copies sold. Yuck Britney! Why those numbers suck? Well, Britney is usually a lock for no. 1 or at worst no. 2 like Blackout, however, the numbers may not be strong enough to hold back previously released (aka holdovers) from charting ahead of the pop diva. Could Spears be blocked out of the top 3? Possibly. Besides Britney, it’s a pretty boring week for new releases.
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- One Direction’s ‘Midnight Memories’ Tops U.S. Album Charts (variety.com)
- On the Charts: One Direction Making ‘Memories’ at Number One (rollingstone.com)
- One Direction land a third US number one album with “Midnight Memories” (thecelebculture.com)
On December 10th, R. Kelly will release what seems to be the return of ‘nasty’ R. Kelly with album Black Panties. Kelly is easily among R&B’s most preeminent artists. Sure, his sales have falling off much like his contemporaries, but no one can deny the salacious singer/songwriter has a long and illustrious career. This particular post won’t discuss Kelly’s earlier successes with tracks like “Bump and Grind” or his Grammy-winning track “I Believe I Can Fly”, but will instead focus on his post- new millennial success. The early part of the millennium was kind to R. Kelly, much like it was to a number of neo-soul artists. But as Nelly Furtado asks on her 2005 album Loose, “why do all good things come to an end?”
Tie – 10th
The Best of Both Worlds & Unfinished Business (with Jay-Z)
I was only actually privy to Unfinished Business (2004), which managed to debut at no. 1 on the Billboard Albums chart (215,000 copies) – don’t ask me how. That said, I didn’t hear too many good things about R. Kelly and Jay-Z’s previous collaborative effort The Best of Both Worlds (2002), which landed at no. 2 with 223,000 copies sold itself. I’ll only speak for Unfinished Business to be fair, but I’ll just tell you I thought it was an undercooked affair. Sure there were some bearable moments – emphasis on ‘some’ – but ultimately, the album just felt second-rate for both musicians with such shimmering careers. Balling these two were not…SMH.
Don’t let the inclusion of “Trapped in the Closet” fool you folks – TP.3 Reloaded (2005) found R. Kelly doing what he does best pretty mediocrely. Yeah, I was one of the 491,000 who purchased it when it came out, but looking back, its just not my favorite album by R. “In The Kitchen” adds a freaky bright spot, as do risqué sex-inciters like “Remote Control” or “Put My T-Shirt On”, but otherwise, Kells is a lil’ too freaky for his own good. I mean for a man who seems to be able to make some incredibly outlandish references to S-E-X, TP.3 Reloaded just was so-so.
Write Me Back
You could lump Kelly’s Love Letter and Write Me Back albums as one in many respects. Both are Kelly back in conservative, neo-soul mode as opposed to cutting edge, “let’s get down” mode. Write Me Back isn’t a bad album, but it is pretty conservative. There’s nothing wrong with singles like “Share My Love” or “Feelin’ Single” save for the fact they sound incredibly similar to Kells a la Chocolate Factory (that was 2003). “Clipped Wings” is a nice moment, though Write Me Back could’ve used a few more like that to truly make it a signature R. Kelly showing.
Like the fine Write Me Back, my main issue lies with the conservative nature of Love Letter. It’s not bad, but it may fall a shade short of Kelly’s more balanced albums, specifically Chocolate Factory, which manages to balance the freak and the soul. “When A Woman Loves” is a nice addition to Kelly’s collection, though he milks it for every bit it’s worth. “Love Letter” is smooth as silk while “Radio Message” appeals as well. Still, I believe I speak for many R. Kelly fans in saying we remember his bedroom work more than his more refined, less risqué offerings.
Justin Bieber – “Change Me” – Single – Label: Island – US Release Date: December 2, 2013
“Girl I’m ready if you’re ready now / oh, as I’m ever gonna be / if you’re with it then I’m with it now / to accept all responsibility…I don’t wanna be the same…” Whoa! For his most recent installment of Music Mondays, Justin Bieber delivers a thoughtful, mostly piano-accompanied ballad entitled “Change Me”. Lacking the sensuality of his pivotal “PYD” featuring R. Kelly and the funkiness of last week’s “Rollercoaster”, Bieber is definitely more moody here and heartbroken for sure. The tempo is slow, matching the drag of Bieber’s own emotions.
A definite pro about “Change Me” is that Bieber shows, perhaps for the first time, his willingness to ‘bend’ within the relationship. It appears to be overdue mind you, but at least it seems Bieber has soul-searched and arrived at that point. This is evidenced by the chorus: “Maybe you could change me / maybe you could change me / maybe you could be the light that opens up my eyes / make all my wrongs right / change me, change me.” That newfound ability to listen and grow is further shown on the second verse, with lyrics like “If I’m screaming, talk quieter / understanding and patient…” or “Be like serenity / help reposition my mind / take a chance, make a difference, in my life.” Say what you will about Bieber, but he’s definitely thinking and aiming deeper than before.
“Change Me” may not possess the same swagger of his two previous offerings, but still Bieber sounds mature and much more ‘grown’ than anything he offered on 2012 studio effort Believe. For once, you feel that at least the ‘bad boy’ is backing up his desire to be a man with more masculine, grown music to match. Another possible takeaway is that Bieber is actually trying to get his act and life sorted out. Maybe that’s reading to much, but the Music Mondays lyrics are his journals correct? Overall, I’m on board.
- Justin Bieber Releases New Song “Change Me” – Listen Now (popnewsint.wordpress.com)
- Justin Bieber Releases New Song “Change Me”–Listen Now! (eonline.com)
- Justin Bieber Is Here With a New Song Called ‘Change Me’ (celebuzz.com)
- Music Monday: Justin Bieber Drops Soulful Ballad “Change Me” (popdust.com)
- Justin Bieber Has a “Bad Day” (Music Mondays) (brentmusicreviews.com)