Dierks Bentley, Black © Capitol

Dierks Bentley Takes ‘Black’ To No. 2, Drake Still Tops (25 Chart Takeaways)

25 Chart Takeaways is a column that examines 25 of biggest stories of the Billboard 200 Albums Chart weekly. 

It seems that Dierks Bentley is in the same predicament as Ariana Grande last week.  Dierks Bentley takes Black to no. 2, but finds himself stuck behind Drake’s juggernaut Views.  Interestingly, Bentley outsold Drake by a country mile, but Drake’s killing the streaming game.  But it’s not only the Drake-Dierks show – there are 23 more chart takeaways to go along with Drake and Dierks’ chart stories, dated June 18, 2016.

Drake, Views © Cash Money

1) Drake is unstoppable.  Views has yet to leave the no. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.  Interestingly, most of Drake’s catalogue sees an improvement in peak position with What A Time To Be Alive (with Future) being the exception (slips from no. 39 to no. 41).

2) Dierks Bentley’s Black lands at no. 2, the country singer’s best showing on the Billboard 200.  Too bad that albums sales couldn’t propel him to the no. 1 spot – oh wait, he sold more than anybody else this week…

3) Fifth Harmony’s 7/27 debuts respectably at no. 4.  Even though it debuted in fourth place, 7/27 still managed to outsell Drake’s Views.

4) Blake Shelton’s If I’m Honest slips two spots from no. 3 to no. 5 in its second week on the charts.

5) Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman slides from no. 2 to no. 6 in its second week on the charts.

6) Electronic music producer Flume’s Skin debuts at no. 8.

Kevin Gates, Islah © Bread Winners’ Association/Atlantic

7) Kevin GatesMurder for Hire II enters at no. 12 on the Billboard 200.  This marks Gates’ second charting effort this year following the no. 2 bow of Islah.  Currently, Islah sits at no. 19 in its 18th week.

8) The MonkeesGood Times! Starts at no. 14, followed by Thrice’s To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere at no. 15.

The Very Best of Prince © Rhino

9) Prince still represents the top 20 as The Very Best of Prince slips four spots from no. 12 to no. 16.  The next closes Prince album, Purple Rain, slides from no. 32 to no. 38.

10) Catfish And The Bottlemen’s The Ride enters quietly at no. 28.  Likewise, Lacuna Coil’s Delirium also starts its chart life modestly at no. 33.

11) Eric Clapton’s I Still Do certainly can’t hold on to its top-10 status. Clapton’s latest album dips 23 spots in week two, falling from no. 6 to no. 29.

Chance The Rapper, Coloring Book © Chance The Rapper

12) Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book continues to lose some steam, falling 15 spots from no. 17 to no. 32 in week three.

13) Perhaps the heavy innuendo of Zayn’s “Pillotalk” and album Mind of Mine are wearing off.  This week, Mind of Mine slipped nine spots from no. 35 to no. 44 in its 10th charting week.

14) It’s better news for another pop artist. Selena Gomez sees a “revival” of her album Revival (see how I did that?).  The LP ascends 13 spots from no. 58 to no. 45 in its 34th charting week.

15) Jeremih’s Late Nights: The Album has been a quiet selling affair.  This week, the set improves seven spots from no. 65 to no. 58, amazingly its 26th week on the charts.  Late Nights peaked modestly at no. 42.

Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered. © Aftermath/Interscope

16) Kendrick Lamar sees Untitled Unmastered improve 70 spots from no. 134 to no. 64 in its 13th week on the charts.

17) Ro JamesEldorado debuts at no. 71.  Yeah, that’s pretty crappy.  Problem is, Eldorado wasn’t widely available, at least in Kentucky…

18) Day-um Bob Dylan! Fallen Angels definitely “fell” this week.  Dylan’s latest album dropped a staggering 75 spots from no. 7 to no. 82.  To quote Panic! At The Disco’s “Nicotine,” “it’s a f*cking drag.”  Indeed!

Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool © XL Recordings

19) Radiohead didn’t have a much better week than Bob Dylan.  A Moon Shaped Pool slipped 47 spots from no. 36 to no. 83 in week four.

20) Logic has had some chart staying power with The Incredible True Story, even if it hasn’t been a ‘magnificent’ seller to say the least.  This week, the set improves 72 spots from no. 164 to no. 92.  The Incredible True Story has now charted 29 weeks.

21) In the midst of a bad chart run, A$AP Ferg manages to see a week of gains with Always Strive and Prosper.  The set improves 12 spots from no. 123 to no. 111.

22) Lil Uzi Vert’s Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World debuts modestly at no. 122.  A shame that such a colorful album title with such colorful album artwork started so tepidly.

K. Michelle, More Issues Than Vogue © Atlantic

23) K. Michelle’s More Issues Than Vogue re-enters the charts at no. 129 marking only its seventh charting week.

24) Has it been mentioned that Gwen Stefani has had a bad chart run with This Is What The Truth Feels Like? Perhaps it would’ve been better had Gwen lied as Truth slips from no. 82 to no. 133 in only week 11.

25) Robert Glasper’s Miles Davis tribute album Everything’s Beautiful unfortunately couldn’t muster up a beautiful start on the charts.  Everything’s Beautiful settled for no. 152.  OUCH! That’s a pretty “ugly” start!

Corinne Bailey Rae, The Heart Speaks in Whispers © Virgin

BONUS: Corinne Bailey Rae’s The Heart Speaks In Whispers slides from no. 127 to no. 199 in week three. It’s been a bad run for CBR.

Selena Gomez, Revival © Interscope

11 Songs Where the Innuendo is Out of Control

uSelena Gomez told the world that she “couldn’t keep her hands to herself.” Isn’t keep your hands and your feet to yourself one of the basic rules taught in every elementary classroom? Regardless, Gomez’s lack of control perfectly captures the sentiment of the 11 songs selected on this playlist that lack control of their sexual appetites. The innuendo is front and center and inescapable, even if the particular song has more transcendent aspirations.  One Direction say it best: “No Control.”

1) Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “Work From Home” (7/27, 2016)

Fifth Harmony, 7/27 © Epic

There’s no covering it up in the least; Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” is drenched in innuendo from start to finish.  Liken “Work From Home” to mashed potatoes smothered in brown gravy, or gravy of preference. How absurd is this irresistible pop hit? Absurd as your choice of a four-letter word. These girls essentially tell their boyfriends they “don’t gotta go to work” – a source of bread mind you – because they can “work from home.” UGH, really?  It’s further illustrated in the official music video with construction workers and parodied in hilarious fashion in Bart Baker’s twisted interpretation.

Sure, what guy wouldn’t want to oblige Fifth Harmony’s suggestiveness in an ideal, utopian world? Still, no matter how much “work” Fifth Harmony are willing to do with their bodies, is it realistically going to pay the rent, the car payment, the electric bill?  “Bills, Bills, Bills!” Destiny’s Child emphasized that back in 1999 with their The Writings on the Wall  classic! “Can you pay my bills…If you did then maybe we could chill / I don’t think you do / So, you and me are through.”

Get real Fifth Harmony – “tighten up” those harmonies! Lacking in substance or authentic emotion, “Work From Home” is the exemplification of sex on the track, built upon slang and swagger, and ultimately constructed tastefully if ridiculously and unrealistically.  It’s good for flirty, and suggestive fun, but prominent innuendo inhibits it from being transcendent.

2) Rihanna, “Kiss It Better” (Anti, 2016)

Rihanna, Anti © Roc Nation (1)

Simply say the title “Kiss It Better” to yourself.  Then, ask yourself, doesn’t it totally sound like child’s play? Of course it does because as children, many of us can remember mommy saying that she’ll “kiss it better,” referring to a “boo boo!” BUT the all-powerful innuendo gods and/or the pop songwriting/producing gods definitely weren’t writing an innocent pop song. Are there many innocent pop songs anymore? That’s a big, fat, bloated NO. Innocence in modern day pop? NEVER!

“Boy, ya know that you always do it right” definitely isn’t referencing morality but rather the quality of “the act.”  Face it, the double entendre is amplified to the nth degree, causing every lyric to be “read into.” “Do” simply isn’t do anymore, it’s “doing it.” “What are you willing to do? / Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do / (Kiss it, kiss it better, baby).” Translation – that three-letter word, sex.  Yeah, Rihanna’s “Been waitin’ on that sunshine” alright!

3) One Direction, “No Control” (Four, 2014)

One Direction, Four © Columbia

After a while, don’t all boy banders get sick of all the sweet bubblegum mess? Still, every boyband has to save face, particularly if it’s at a transitional point of their career – the great in-between of the tween years and young adulthood.  That young adulthood means that they are just dying to sing about sex, likely something many have already been “doing” beyond closed doors.  To cut to the chase, if “No Control” is supposed to be masking One Direction’s horniness, it does a poor job.

It’s clear lyrically that One Direction mean business.  They aren’t singing about emotions but rather lust and the physical reactions, rather stimulation behind it.  There’s no way that One Direction gets an “innocence” pass on lyric, “Waking up, beside you I’m a loaded gun, I can’t contain this anymore / I’m all yours, I’ve got no control.”  “Loaded gun” hey? Doesn’t seem to be one that shoots bullets…

It gets even more sensual, unsurprisingly.  “Taste, on my tongue / I don’t want to wash away the night before.” What is that taste, pray tell?  Maybe there’s less sexually-oriented activities that can be interpreted from such a line, but does that even seem possible from twentysomethings? Nah! This is Generation Y after all.

Continue reading “11 Songs Where the Innuendo is Out of Control”

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman © Republic (1)

Ariana Grande Can’t Stop Drake on the Billboard 200 (25 Chart Takeaways)

25 Chart Takeaways is a column that examines 25 of biggest stories of the Billboard 200 Albums Chart weekly.

Ariana Grande has failed at something.  No, it’s not her voice – she’s still the one to beat.  No, it’s not the quality of album Dangerous Woman – Grande was on-point, most critics agree. Where she failed was topping the Billboard 200, where ubiquitous “6God” Drake won’t relinquish the throne.  His Views, hence, remain firmly planted.  But those are just two of 25 chart takeaways for the Billboard 200 chart dated June 11, so let’s waste no more time!

Drake, Views © Cash Money

1) Drake remains the no. 1 pick in the draft…err the Billboard 200 that is.  Views wasn’t even the top selling album of the week but managed to hold on relatively comfortably to no. 1.  Drake’s a winner thanks to the SPS (streams plus sales) formula.  Four weeks’ strong baby!

2) Ariana Grande probably isn’t too thrilled with Drake, but she also wouldn’t be too thrilled with Blake Shelton either (more on that in a moment).  Dangerous Woman couldn’t best Views in the streams department, essentially the new approach that drives the Billboard 200, so she lands at no. 2 for the first time in her career.

3) Blake Shelton is probably pissed at both Drake and Ariana Grande, while Ariana Grande is probably giving Blake Shelton the side eye.  Shelton had the week’s bestselling album (If I’m Honest), hence beating Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman on the Top Albums Sales chart. Drake and Grande both outpaced him in streams/track sales, hence his placement at no. 3 on the Billboard 200.

Beyoncé, Lemonade © Parkwood Entertainment

4) With so much drama surrounding Drake, Ariana, and Blake, Beyoncé’s Lemonade slips quietly to no. 4.  No big deal – the Queen is still packing a punch.

5) Eric Clapton debuts at no. 6 with I Still Do.  Indeed, Eric – you “still do!” Get it, get it!

6) Bob Dylan wants in on the top 10 debut fun and he gets in.  Fallen Angels lands at no. 7.

7) Meghan Trainor didn’t have the most triumphant week as Thank You slid from no. 3 to no. 8 in its sophomore frame.

8) Mudcrutch ekes out a top-10 debut as 2 debuts at no. 10.

The Very Best of Prince © Rhino

9) For the first time since his death, there is no Prince album in the top 10.  The Very Best of Prince slips from no. 7 to no. 12, while his next highest charting album, Purple Rain, slipped from no. 19 to no. 32.

10) Interestingly, Kevin Gates has remained a ‘mainstay’ in the top 20 of the Billboard 200.  Gates’ Islah moves up three spots from no. 18 to no. 15 in its 17th week.

11) Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book slips from no. 8 to no. 17 in its second week.

Issues, Headspace © Rise

12) IssuesHeadspace debuts modestly at no. 20.   The band’s previous album performed better, scoring a top 10 debut.

13) Sia sees album This Is Acting improve seven spots from no. 28 to no. 21.

14) Jennifer NettlesPlaying With Fire definitely doesn’t perform in fiery fashion this week.  The album slips 20 spots from no. 10 to no. 30.

15) Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool takes a might tumble in week three from no. 9 to no. 36.

16) Mike Posner’s At Night, Alone continues to perform lukewarmly.  The album slips 11 more spots this week from no. 29 to no. 40.

17) Saosin’s Along The Shadow debuts modestly at no. 45.

Pierce The Veil, Misadventures © Fearless

18) What a ‘misadventure’ for Pierce The Veil’s Misadventures this week! The album free falls 44 spots from no. 4 to no. 48!

19) Day of the Dead, the Grateful Dead tribute compilation debuts at no. 49.

20) Kygo had a poor second week.  Cloud Nine plummeted 52 spots from no. 11 to no. 63.

21) Sick PuppiesFury debuts at no. 92.  Yeah, this album is going nowhere and fast!

22) Maybe God sensed that Montana of 300 probably wasn’t talking about the ‘sanctuary’ when he titled his album Fire In The Church.  It modestly enters the Billboard 200 at no. 95. Yeah, Montana of 300 is certainly experiencing “chart hell” and yes, such a thing exists.

23) Ziggy Marley ekes out a top-100 debut with his self-titled album, which enters at no. 99.

ASAP Rocky, Always Strive and Prosper © RCA

24) Has it been mentioned that A$AP Ferg’s Always Strive And Prosper isn’t selling? This week it slips from no. 105 to no. 123 in only its fifth week.

25) Who had the worst week? Poor Corinne Bailey Rae! The Heart Speaks In Whispers fell 96 spots in its sophomore week from no. 31 to no. 127.  Phew!!!

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman © Republic (1)

‘Dangerous Woman’ Showcases a New, More Mature Ariana Grande

“If you want it, boy, you got it / ain’t you ever seen a princess be a bad b*tch?” Yes, if you mouth is agape to the floor, the aforementioned lyrical quote comes from the “potty mouth” (rather the “potty voice”) of former Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande. On her third studio album Dangerous Woman, Grande exemplifies the hip-hop/Urban Dictionary slang that she “gives no f*cks.” In other words – more respectable, less crude words at that – Ariana Grande is indeed a “Dangerous Woman” and no longer an innocent girl. Remember when Britney Spears said, “I’m not that innocent?” Well, that describes the new, “more mature” Ariana Grande.

So is maturity measured by poise or by embracing the spirit of one’s particular age group or demographic? Maturity can be measured in both ways. On her balladry, with her debut and sophomore albums (Your Truly and My Everything), the maturity was already beyond Grande’s years vocally, hence why she drew comparisons to Mariah Carey. The material, arguably, was listenable by a more mature audience but targeted more to Grande’s younger demographic, hence the lack of over sexualizing.

The maturity that Grande makes isn’t vocally (she was already there in that department), but rather her image, ensuring that she moves beyond a younger fan base and paints herself as a credible artist as opposed to a teen-pop artist. Hey, she’s nearly 23 years of age – she’s grown! The way that most musicians do that is by going for a more rebellious, more profane sound (Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez come to mind). Ariana Grande conforms to such approaches on Dangerous Woman.

How does Ariana Grande reconstruct her image? Well for one, like the opening quote, she’s profane over the course of the album in numerous instances. On “Everyday,” she makes it clear that “He giving me that good sh*t…/oh give it to me (everyday, everyday, everyday).” For teen-pop artists, sh*t, though uttered by teenagers (and younger) more often than not, is not considered part of the bag of tricks for music catered to that age. It gets even deeper with Grande dropping the f-bomb on “I Don’t Care” (“then f*ck’s the point?”) and “Bad Decisions” (“Don’t you know I ain’t f*cking with them good boys?”).

Another way that Grande reconstructs her image is through innuendo and sexuality. “Bad Decisions” is a hotbed for it, referenced earlier. Grande doesn’t necessarily cross the line compared to some pop and urban artists, but her suggestiveness is particularly suggestive. “Side To Side” can be interpreted as being more metaphorical than literal, but had Grande and her writers opted against that golden opportunity of innuendo, it seems disappointing (“I’ve been here all night / I’ve been here all day / and boy, got me walkin’ side to side”). Yeah, “Bang Bang” gave us a taste of this, but “Side To Side,” not to mention “Bad Decisions” and the fantastic “Touch It” take it next level.

The final way that Grande reconstructs her image is the most mature way because Grande doesn’t have to ‘compromise’ morals – playing devil’s advocate of course (AG is grown from my personal perspective and free to do as she pleases). The use of minor keys, as opposed to major keys, gives Grande more fierceness. Even had Grande nipped the profanity, the darker quality of the minor key production would’ve propelled her to the dangerousness she desired.

So to make one last point – rather, raise one last question – does being conformist to rebelliousness in pop music really represent maturity in the long run? The answer is a resounding no. It seems like many popular artists are embracing the ability to flex their potty mouths and amplify sex, even more, these days. While it’s mature musically because it’s considered to be badass, it’s not mature morally, nor does it accurately represent everybody’s way of life. Sure, we’re in an age where openness and bluntness about sex are perceived to be okay but is that notion been blown out of proportion? Deep food for thought to say the least.

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman © Republic (1)

2016: The Year Of Ridiculous Innuendo

This case study examines the ridiculous innuendo utilized in songs by Ariana Grande, DNCE, and Fifth Harmony in 2015/2016.

“I’ve been here all night / I’ve been here all day / and boy, got me walkin’ side to side.” Sigh, that’s a key line – the chorus to be precise – from Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side,” featuring Nicki Minaj, from her latest album, Dangerous Woman. It’s one of many songs where the innuendo is simply “larger than life” to say the least. In 2016, innuendo has been “kind of a big deal,” fueling a number of popular songs. Are they ridiculous? Yes. Are they catchy AF? To quote Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” or Ginuwine’s “Hell Yeah,” “hell yeah” They are!

Starting with the cited example, Grande’s “Side To Side,” if you take the sex out of it, perhaps Grande is being metaphorical about the relationship with this guy. She’s clearly tempted by him (“…I know you got a bad reputation / doesn’t matter, cause you give me temptation…”), so perhaps he indeed has her “side to side” because she’s torn between a reasonable decision and temptation. It’s not an unreasonable interpretation mind you – some of the Genius annotations fall in line with this – but it’s also giving the writers and Grande too much credit if you don’t believe they didn’t see the remarkable opportunity to deliver incredible, ridiculous innuendo.

“Side to Side” is best seen as being shallow. Why? Pop music as of late is shallow, with the abundance of profanity, selfishness and overindulgence, and of course lust. The references to Grande’s love interest’s body, alongside with the repetition of lyric, “And we don’t gotta think ‘bout nothin’,” seems to suggests this is a passionate night of… – fill in the blank.

While “Side to Side” may be the preeminent example, Grande didn’t stop there on her Dangerous Woman album. “Touch It” ends up being a fantastic double entendre which definitely doesn’t require the mind to stretch exactly WHAT is being “touched.” Sure, there is more legitimacy to the metaphorical in this instance, but lyrics like, “I’m tired of being patient, so let’s pick up the pace / take me all the way / ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it,” definitely signal sex without any doubt.

Another perfect example of ridiculous innuendo comes by way of DNCE’s “Cake By The Ocean.” Clearly, the title is a play on “sex on the beach,” hence, the lyrics illustrate a clear sexual fantasy. “Talk to me baby / I’m going blind from this sweet, sweet craving, whoa-oh,” Joe Jonas sings on the naughty hook, continuing, “Let’s lose our minds and go f*cking crazy / ah yay a yay, I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake on the ocean.” Interpretation: “S-E-X.,” to quote Lyfe Jennings.

Need more evidence of the dirty mind of DNCE? “God damn / see you licking frosting from your own hands / want another taste, I’m begging yes ma’am / I’m tired of all this candy on the dry land, dry land.” Licking is clearly erotic, while “frosting” – typically white – seems to be synonymous with bodily fluids, clearly exchanged…we’ll leave it there.

One last example of the ridiculous innuendo might just be the best: Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home.” This song is hella catchy, yet utterly ridiculous. Just look at the hook and the innuendo is out of the bag quick: “You don’t gotta go to work, work, work… / but you gotta put in work, work, work…/let my body do the work, work, work… / you can work from home, oh, oh, oh-oh.”

Essentially, Fifth Harmony suggests that their men don’t have to work, but by working their bodies (aka sex) is sufficient. The problem is, if that’s the case, where’s the money coming from? It takes money to live and lust and carnal pleasures won’t supplant the bill money, right? Is Fifth Harmony going to cover the lights, the rent, the car payment? Sheesh!

So ultimately, case(s) in point…innuendo has gone plumb wild – truly crazy – in 2016. Yes, songwriters may be able to tie in a more moral, meaningful message, but when they are formulating catchy lyrics and song titles, don’t think that sex, which sells, isn’t a motivating factor. Be as moral as you want in interpreting any of the four above-mentioned joints, but all of them is chocked full of sex without question.

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman © Republic

Quick Thoughts: Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman”

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman © Republic

After taking a year off in 2015 (Yours Truly dropped in 2013 and My Everything in 2014), Ariana Grande returns with her third studio album, Dangerous Woman. After “Focus” materialized in 2015, personal sentiments were that Grande was going for a similar direction to the past. “Focus” wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t career changing or far-fetched for Grande. Thankfully, we have another single to gauge what Dangerous Woman might sound like. What’s more fitting than the title track, “Dangerous Woman”?

From the jump, this is clearly different from what Grande has released up to this point – that alone bodes well in her favor. Set in six-eight meter and a minor key (E minor to be precise), “Dangerous Woman” has a throwback soul edge coupled with pop sensibilities. The sound is actually surprising, unexpected, and refreshing all in one. The pop facets of this song actually show up on the big chorus, where Grande doesn’t opt for the big notes she’s been known for (until the end, which is far game), but rather sheer power.

In regards to the song itself, it’s not a game changer. Grande certainly accomplishes ferociousness and certainly sounds a lot more dangerous than “The Way” or “Problem,” but this power joint doesn’t and won’t best those two, period. This song just doesn’t have that extra something…maybe this critic will evolve and maybe not…





Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

57th Annual Grammy Notes

Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

So, I spent the better part of my Sunday night watching the 57th annual Grammys – better known as wasting my time. Why do I indulge in music’s Super Bowl every year when I know that there’s always going to be Grammys given to the wrong folks? I guess it’s the hunger to see how the Recording Academy votes, even if I know the album of the year is likely going to go against the grain.   This year, the album of the year wasn’t even saved as the last award – what does that tell you?

Anyways, here are some notes I took while partaking of the Grammys. Yes, they are literally notes!

1) What better way to open up the Grammys than a rocking performance from veteran rockers AC/DC. There was nothing blasé about the Aussie rockers, whose second song was “Highway To Hell” hell heck yeah!

2) Taylor Swift comes to present the first award of the night, Best New Artist. She does reference the fact she didn’t win the Best New Artist in 2008, and quotes her hit song “Shake It Off.” Make of it what you will, but when the small talk is done, it’s no surprise that Sam Smith came out on top. I mean, who was going to stop him?

3) Anna Kendrick introduces Ariana Grande, who performs “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” from My Everything. The performance is definitely more restrained, with Grande getting off to a bit of a shaky start. Once Grande hits her power register, it’s on.

4) Jessie J and Sir Tom Jones take the stage, honoring the recipients of the Trustees Award (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). J and Jones perform a duet of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Then came the award for best pop solo performance. The result was a shock, as Pharrell Williams took home the Grammy for “Happy,” something of an upset against heavyweights like John Legend (“All of Me”) and Sam Smith (“Stay With Me”).

5) Miranda Lambert performed “Little Red Wagon”… that was something! Then, Pentatonix and Gibb presented the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album to Sam Smith for In The Lonely Hour. Again, was there that much doubt? Well, there was some after the previous upset.

6) Kanye West takes the Grammy stage for the first time in six years performing his new song, “Only One.” Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj introduce Madonna, who performs her single “Living For Love.” As expected, she shows off that thigh – LOL! Oh and yeah, it was as theatrical as you would expect. She is Madonna after all – 56 or not! Oh and that gospel choir – on point!

7) Joshua Duhamel, Malcolm Butler, and Julian Edelman present the Grammy for Best Rock Album to Beck for Morning Phase.

8) Nile Rodgers and Smokey Robinson celebrate George Harrison by awarding him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Best R&B Performance is awarded to Beyoncé & Jay-Z for “Drunk in Love” – predictable.

9) Ed Sheeran performs “Thinking Out Loud” alongside John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. Hands down, it ranks among the night’s best performances. Herbie Hancock’s thoughtful tinkling on the piano, Mayer’s brilliant guitar (and backing vocals), and of course Sheeran’s pitch-perfect vocals. Chilling to say the least! The Electric Light Orchestra on after Ed Sheeran – can things get any better “Mr. Blue Sky?”

10) Ryan Seacrest introduces Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, who perform their ‘duet’ “My Heart Is Open” from V. Well it is technically a duet. If nothing else, both are dressed to kill, particularly Stefani in that red dress.

11) Hozier peforms his epic Song of the year nominated “Take Me To Church.” Later, Annie Lennox joins him to sing the harmony atop – she’s definitely still got it! “Take Me To Church” transforms into “I Put A Spell On You” from her Grammy-nominated effort Nostalgia.

12 ) Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor present the Grammy for Best Country Album to Miranda Lambert for Platinum.

13) The Weeknd introduces Pharrell Williams, who performs his Grammy-winning hit, “Happy.” Williams gets a little help from virtuoso pianist, Lang Lang.

14) Following a segment on the significance of domestic violence and awareness, etc., Katy Perry performs her ballad “By The Grace of God,” definitely an unexpected choice by the pop singer. While the power is felt, the pitch wasn’t always rock solid, but definitely better than expected. Not an easy song to perform in a live setting by any means.

15) Katherine McPhee introduces Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The chemistry between the two is fantastic. Makes that win for Cheek To Cheek seem like the right choice – at least for one performance.

16) Usher performs “If It’s Magic” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life. He does a magnificent job, accompanied by harp. Stevie Wonder ends up joining on the harmonica.

17) Keith Urban introduces a Grammy-less Eric Church, who performs “Give Me Back My Hometown” from The Outsiders. You’ve got to appreciate how different Eric Church is from a multitude of country artists, though that pitch at times was shaky. Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam proceed. Keeping an overabundance of performances (with no awards given) going, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna perform their new single, “FourFive Seconds.”

18) Taylor Swift introduces Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, who perform “Stay With Me.” In yet another performance on an awards show where the awards seem secondary, Juanes follows in yet another performance. Sheesh!

Beck, Morning Phase © Capitol

19) Prince presents the ‘album of the year’ award to the ‘dark horse,’ Beck. Yeah, that’s about where the notes stopped – my mouth was agape.

But there was more after album of the year, like the awards for song/record of the year, which both went to Sam Smith. And Beyoncé performed “Precious Lord” (didn’t suit her in my opinion) and John Legend/Common teamed up to perform “Glory” from Selma.



Meghan Trainor, Title © Epic

25 Chart Takeaways: It’s “All About That Bass” 

Meghan Trainor, Title © Epic

It takes a big album to knock off Taylor Swift, and that’s exactly what Meghan Trainor did. It also takes a special R&B album to debut within the Billboard 200 top 10, and Jazmine Sullivan’s superb Reality Show was unable to do so. The aforementioned observations and more make up this week’s 25 chart takeaways.

1) It’s “all about” those numbers as Meghan Trainor debuts with sizable sells (and streams) at #1 on the Billboard 200.

2) Do we really need to mention who sits at #2? Her name is Taylor Swift and her album 1989 is ‘the second coming’ – well not literally.

3) As Blink-182 once sang, “Stay Together For the Kids.” That really has little/nothing to do with Kidz Bop 27 debuting at #3, but it felt appropriate to say.

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA

4) It’s an Uptown Special for Mark Ronson at #5. Do you “Feel Right”?

5) Maroon 5 can probably thank “Sugar” for their rise from #15 to #8 this week. Back in the top 10 baby!

6) Former British X-Factor contestant Ella Henderson finds her US debut Chapter One debuting just outside of the top 10 at #11.

Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show © RCA

7) For the comeback kid Jazmine Sullivan, the #12 debut of her third effort Reality Show has to suck a little. That said only her debut album Fearless hit the top 10 back in 2008.

8) After reasserting her Grande-ness in the top 10, Ariana Grande falls from her perch from #10 to #15. Sometimes you just can have your Everything.

9) The Sremmlife must only be good for one week – Rae Sremmurd’s debut album falls from #5 to #17.

10) Is Frozen finally beginning to melt? The ubiquitous soundtrack falls from #16 to #25 this week.

11) After seeing a spike last week, Iggy Azalea’s Reclassified ‘reclassifies’ from the top 20 to the top 40 moving from #18 to #31.

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah © RCA

12) Need it be mentioned that D’Angelo’s Black Messiah continues to see a drop in sales/impact? Black Messiah falls from #34 to #43 this week.

13) Fabolous’s The Young OG Project also hasn’t experienced good fortunes on the Billboard 200. This week, Loso drops from #33 to #50.

14) American Apparel must be hot again. 5 Seconds of Summer’s self-titled debut rises from #78 to #55. Hey, nothing wrong with the fact that “She Looks So Perfect.”

Chase Rice, Ignite the Night © Columbia Nashville

15) The night is back on fire y’all as Chase Rice’s Ignite The Night rises from #115 to #63.

16) Nobody is buying K. Michelle’s heart, or more accurately her album. Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart? falls from #47 to #70. Abysmal.

17) A steep fall for a legend as Barbra Streisand’s once preeminent Partners albums tumbles from #58 to #81 this week.

18) Another bad week for Charli XCX as Sucker slips from #72 to #94 five short weeks in.

Tyler Carter, Leave Your Love © Rise

19) Tyler Carter’s contemporary R&B effort, Leave Your Love EP, debuts at #110.

20) The soundtrack to the Academy Award-nominated Boyhood enters the Billboard 200 at #128.

21) Remember when I said that American Apparel was hot again? Well only to an extent as 5 Second of Summer’s second album on the charts, LIVESOS falls nearly 100 spots from #37 to #132.

Pink Floyd, The Endless River © Columbia

22) Down 33 more spots for Pink Floyd’s Endless River (#100 to #133). 

23) I know nothing about this group, but anybody named Cody Canada And The Departed deserves a mention right? Hippielovepunk lands at #136. 

24) Jhené Aiko reenters the Billboard 200 at #169 with her 2014 debut LP, Souled Out. The album, which debuted solidly at #3, has only spent 11 weeks on the Billboard 200.

25) Donny Osmond has seen better days. The Soundtrack of My Life starts at a modest #181 on the charts.

Rae Sremmurd, Sremmlife © Interscope

Chart Takeaways: The ‘SremmLife’ is Upon Us At Number Five

Rae Sremmurd, Sremmlife © InterscopeIt was a quiet week, but there are still takeaways to be made so HERE THEY ARE!

1) Taylor Swift makes it nine weeks at number one with 1989. Shocker right?

2) The new Billboard 200 tabulation formula has been great for Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande, whose respective albums sit at #2 and #10 this week.

3) Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint has spent its entire first month in the top three, this week dropping one spot to #3 after three consecutive weeks at #2. Guess “Anaconda” paid off…

4) Youthful, fun southern rap duo Rae Sremmurd land at #5 with their debut album, SremmLife. “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” baby!

Sam Hunt, Montevallo © MCA Nashville5) Sam Hunt continues to do some things on the Billboard 200. Montevallo rises from #19 to #12.

6) Sia’s 1000 Forms of Fear jumps astoundingly from #94 to #20. Wonder if latest single “Elastic Heart” plays a part?

7) It was a good week for Jessie J, whose Sweet Talker rises from #75 to #22. Yep, she’s “Burnin’ Up” for sure!

8) It’s no “Lituation” for Fabolous as The Young OG Project drops it’s third straight week on the chart from #20 to #33.

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah © RCA

9) Despite releasing one the best albums of the new millennium, D’Angelo’s Black Messiah has yet to gain momentum on the chart since debuting at #5. It only drops minimally from #32 to #34 this week.

10) Empire: Music From The Pilot (EP) lands at #36 on the tally. If you haven’t seen the Fox hip-hop soap opera, well – you’re missing out!

11) “We Dem Boyz” Wiz Khalifa’s former #1 album, Blacc Hollywood rises from #52 to #43.

12) To quote the late, great Andraé Crouch “Finally!” While Crouch was referencing God’s love, ‘finally’ in this context means that Mary J. Blige has made a gain on the chart after a modest beginning for The London Sessions. It rises from #59 to #45.

Joshua Radin, Onward and Sideways © Glass Bead

13) Singer/Songwriter Joshua Radin debuts at #49 with Onward And Sideways.

14) Foo Fighters fall as Sonic Highways drops from #53 to #65 in its 9th week.

15) After 62 weeks on the chart, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 sees a spike from #74 to #67. Similarly, so does Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, which rises from #88 to #68.

16) Ugly chart geography for the excellent Charli XCX. Sucker falls from #56 to #72.

17) Kendrick Lamar keeps doing damage 115 weeks in. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City rises from #98 to #77. KL just keeps on winning!

5 Seconds of Summer © Capitol

18) 5 Seconds of Summer, summer has long been over. 5 Seconds of Summer drops 40 spots from #38 to #78, after 25 weeks on the chart.

19) Pink Floyd’s The Endless River seems like it’s done – it falls from #80 to #100 in only its 9th week.

20) Logic sees a rise: Under Pressure rises modestly from #106 to #101. It’s the little things.

21) “Rude” seems like it’s faded as Magic!’s Don’t Kill The Magic falls from #87 to #107 in week #16. Maybe people don’t care if they “marry that girl.” Just saying!

Brantley Gilbert, Just As I Am © VALORY

22) Brantley Gilbert has done well from himself, but Just As I Am slips from #82 to #116 this week, his 34th.

23) People missing a surprisingly quiet Rihanna – apparently! Unapologetic reenters the Billboard 200 at #120. Unapologetic originally debuted at #1.

24) The news continues to be bad for Rick Ross. Hood Billionaire drops again, falling from #93 to #122. Not a good album for RR.

25) Look who else reenters the charts! Lauryn Hill’s classic The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill returns at #131. It is a former #1, multiplatinum affair that won multiple Grammys including Album of the Year.

One Direction, Four © Columbia

25 Chart Takeaways: “No New Friends”

One Direction, Four ©  Columbia

The theme of this week’s chart takeaways – “No New Friends.” Why “No New Friends” you ask? Because there are no new debuts of note on the Billboard 200 – it was a quiet week.

Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint © Motown/Universal

1) Taylor Swift and Nick Minaj remain atop the Billboard 200. This marks Swift’s eighth nonconsecutive week atop the Billboard 200 and Minaj’s third consecutive week at #2.

2) Ed Sheeran’s X ascends from #7 to #3 in its 28th week on chart.

3) Sam Smith, shockingly (sarcasm) remains strong moving up one spot from #5 to #4. The hour’s not been that lonely Sam…

Hozier © Columbia

4) Hozier keeps on getting some respect as his self-titled debut rises from #8 to #6. Interestingly, it sits ahead of J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which actually sold more albums. Weird new Billboard tabulation formula!

5) Into The Woods’ soundtrack rises up from #19 to #8. Top 10 bae!

6) Four falls to #9. That said, likely One Direction will be just fine.

7) Who’s having a “Grande” time back in the top 10 – Ariana Grande’s My Everything of course, which stays put at #10.

8) The Annie Soundtrack rises from #29 to #12.

Iggy Azalea, Reclassified © Def Jam

9) Iggy Azalea’s Reclassified achieves its highest peak yet at #16. The previous week, the album sat at #67.

10) Sam Hunt’s debut album Montevello rises from #32 to #19.

11) Fabolous’ Christmas Day issued The Young OG Project has a small fall from its debut position of #12 to #20.

Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas © Island

12) Nick Jonas rises again, as his self-titled album moves up from #28 to #24.

13) Pitbull’s quietly issued Globalization sees a spike from #42 to #26. The album debuted modestly at #18 six weeks ago.

14) D’Angelo’s Black Messiah continues its slide, though its gentler this week – #25 to #32. The album debuted at #5 three weeks ago.

15) Big drop for AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust. The former #3 bowing album falls from #17 to #33, it’s steepest fall yet.

Pentatonix, That's Christmas To Me © RCA

16) Unsurprisingly, Pentatonix’s platinum Christmas album That’s Christmas To Me free falls from #3 to #49.

17) Foo Fighters have seen better days as Sonic Highways tumbles from #33 to #53.

18) G-Eazy rises once more as These Things Happen moves from #91 to #58. These Things Happen initially debuted at #3.

19) Mary J. Blige’s excellent The London Sessions just can’t pick up any momentum. Mary’s soulful set falls from #50 to #59 in only its fifth week, shocking for an MJB album.

Barbra Streisand, Partners © Columbia

20) Barbra Streisand’s former #1 bowing Partners drops 44 spots from #22 to #66.

21) Barbra Streisand isn’t the only veteran artist to suffer a big loss. Pink Floyd’s The Endless River spends its eighth week on the chart in unimpressive fashion, tumbling from #38 to #80. Ouch!

22) Some good news for Rick RossHood Billionaire rises from #127 to #93. Still, after only six weeks on the chart, that’s horrid chart geography.

Logic, Under Pressure © Def Jam23) We’re rooting for you kid! Logic’s under appreciated Under Pressure sees a modest boost at #106, following a rise the previous week at #117. A shame that the album that debuted solidly at #4 has been such a flop commercially…

24) Nico & Vinz get a lift as Black Star Elephant rises from #186 to #112. Still, the album debuted modestly at #45 and has only been on the chart for four short weeks.

25) Sitting at #116 this week, Adele’s Grammy-winning 21 logged its 202nd week on the Billboard 200. Adele has also sold more than 11 million copies of 21.