Jack Johnson, From Here To Now To You © Brushfire

Chart Moves, September 25, 2013: Jack Johnson, Miley Cyrus and Drake

Jack Johnson, From Here To Now To You © Brushfire

Jack Johnson Tops Without A Hitch 

Every time there is supposed to be a slugfest for the no. 1 spot, that just fails to happen.  Again, after it was prognosticated that no. 1 was a toss up – this time between Jack Johnson and Justin Moore (seemed odd being honest), Jack Johnson did what he does – scores no. 1 albums.  From Here To Now To You opened at the penthouse with 117,000 copies.  Blah numbers right? His previous album sold more than twice as much as that, moving 243,000 copies its first week.  As for the bridesmaid Justin Moore, he debuted at no. 2 with Off The Beaten Path to respectable numbers (97,000 copies).  Hey, when you have never come near six figures, you’re doint something when you just miss by a smidgen, right?

Justin Moore, Off The Beaten Path © Valory

Besides Moore, country shined this week on the Billboard albums chart.  Chris Young can probably thank single “Aw Naw” for the no. 3 bow of A.M. With 54,000 copies.  Sure that makes for a low ceiling, but when you’re not exactly a household country name, those are some solid numbers.  Maybach Music Group (MMG) finds themselves in a familiar spot at no. 4 as Self Made 3 sells 50,000 copies.  That’s healthy for a compilation, but just not a MMG one necessarily.  The fine Self Made 2 sold 98,000 copies, nearly twice as many as this less heralded one. Avicii did well to land at no. 5 with 50,000 copies of debut TRUE sold.  However, another country brother didn’t get it done; Billy Currington found himself at no. 10 with only 26,000 copies of We Are Tonight sold.  Wonder if being charged with terroristic threatening played a role in the cool reception?

Miley, Miley, Miley

Wasn’t it just weeks ago that Robin Thicke was on top the world for like twelve weeks with “Blurred Lines”? Katy Perry knocked him down, but her plan to stay atop the roost didn’t materialize as one Miley Cyrus shut that down with a nude video for actually likable song “Wrecking Ball”.  “Wrecking Ball” has already done something that popular first single “We Can’t Stop” or even earlier career single “Party in the U.S.A.” was unable to do – landed at no. 1.  I’m not really into Miley’s shock value, but I’ll give credit where it is do.  I’m onboard with “Wrecking Ball”… the song. Congrats on another week at no. 1.

Who’s Got Next?

Some of the releases from Tuesday, September 24 should definitely put some numbers on the chart… but you just never know with the way album sales have waned.  Drake should definitely make the top truly top heavy with his highly anticipated third album Nothing Was The Same.  Then there’s that southern rock band Kings of Leon who are releasing their first album in a couple of years (Mechanical Bull).  What about the oldies? Elton John, Sting, and Cher also dropped.  What about a newbie like Icona Pop? Hopefully, these albums move units and don’t disappoint. Drake, we’re counting on you!

Keith Urban, Fuse © Capitol Nashville

Chart Moves, September 18, 2013: Keith Urban’s Narrow No. 1

Keith Urban, Fuse © Capitol NashvilleChart Rewind: Highlights from Last Week (September 11, 2013) 

Ariana Grande found her debut album Yours Truly debuting at no. 1 with 138,000 copies sold.  Tamar Braxton followed behind her in the no. 2 spot with Love and War selling an impressive 114,000 copies.  Nine Inch Nails returned with their first major label effort in a couple of years, selling 107,000 copies.  John Legend arrives to a cooler reception as Love in the Future sells a somewhat underwhelming 68,000 copies good for a no. 4 start.  Jaheim’s numbers are also modest, as Appreciation Day enters at no. 6 with 58,000 copies sold.  As for others charting, Bastille’s Bad Blood bowed at no. 11, Neko Case’s Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight…  lands at no. 12,  while former typical top ten R&B artist Raheem DeVaughn found his fine A Place Called Love Land debuting outside the top 20 at no. 22. Ouch!

Keith Urban Debuts At No. 1, By A Smidgen 

Keith Urban debuts at no. 1 with latest album Fuse, but it was no landslide.  Urban’s latest sold under its 100,000 prognostication, selling 98,000 copies.  Respectable in an age where few albums are wowing with their sales figures, but certainly not ‘juggernaut’ status.  The Weeknd really just needed a little more firepower behind it with its 95,000 copies to top the charts with Kiss Land. But no. 2 ain’t bad, especially when his last album the compilation Trilogy debuted at no. 4 with 86,000 copies.  He came up… a little.  As for Urban, well, he’s had better charting days – much better.

2 Chainz
certainly didn’t make the impact on the charts that his debut Based On A T.R.U. Story did in 2012 (no. 1, 147,000 copies).  2 Chainz suffers from the sophomore slump as B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME lands at no. 3 with 63,000 copies.  Those are better numbers than anticipated, but still, maybe dumbness isn’t paying off for ol’ boy. Janelle Monáe has a solid debut as The Electric Lady lands at no. 5 with 47,000 copies.  The Arctic Monkeys do relatively well all things considered, landing at no. 6 with 42,000 copies sold of album AM.  As for Ms. Sheryl Crow, she’s had better days as Feels Like Home debuts at no. 7 with only 36,000 copies.

Top 10 holdovers rule the rest of the chart including Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party at no. 4, Tamar Braxton’s Love and War at no. 8, Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly at no. 9, and John Legend’s Love in the Future at no. 10.

Miley Hits No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

There is plenty to scrutinize about Miley Cyrus (like a crap-ton), but “Wrecking Ball” gives the rebellious twenty-year old her first no. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  Honestly, the song itself is quite likable… yes I said it.  It’s the video that raised eyebrows, specifically some tongue/sledgehammer action and the nudity.  But regardless, Miley came up.  I could make a Katy Perry joke in regards to “Roar”, but I won’t.

Who’s Got Next?

519q2dveFcL._SL500_AA280_The fall is always rich with new albums.  This week is no different. Jack Johnson seems to be leading the charge as From Here To Now To You wouldn’t be a shocking chart topper come next week. Maybach Music Group return with a third compilation set Self Made 3, while MGMT return with their third, self-titled effort.  Elvis Costello and The Roots have a thing going on with collaborative album Wise Up Ghost, while a country trifecta of Chris Young (A.M.), Justin Moore (Off The Beaten Path), and Billy Currington (We Are Tonight).  Johnny Lang also bows with his latest (Fight For My Soul) as does power-pop favorite Five For Fighting (Bookmarks). Need some electronica/dance? How about Avicii’s debut True?  Or some alternative goodness – Grouplove’s Spreading Rumours.  Jam-packed week, but Jack Johnson seems like he’ll be hard to beat.

Forthcoming Albums To Anticipate (August 2013 Onward)


As we are transitioning into the late summer, the album releases become increasingly more ‘blockbuster’ like.  Face it, the end of the year is always loaded.  We don’t know all of the releases that will materialize yet, but we already have a rich group of new albums we will be spinning beginning in August.


Lady Gaga, ARTPOP 

Genre: Pop / Dance

Anticipated U.S. Release date: November 11, 2013

lady-gaga-artpop-650-430“Let’s have some fun this beat is sick / I wanna take a ride on your disco stick!” Whenever a new Gaga album is released, watch out.  Details will come soon enough, but after a two year hiatus (Born This Way, 2011), is the world ready for nu Gaga? (That’s rhetorical). I’ll tell you one thing though, go ahead an sign, seal, and deliver another triumphant number one bow on the album charts.


Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 2, etc. 

Genre: Pop

Anticipated U.S. Release date: N/A

Had we not already gotten our first taste of Justin Timberlake returning in a big way earlier this year, then JT probably would’ve topped this list.  2013 has been the year of Justin Timberlake, and it should continue this fall.  We’ve already be introduced to the set’s first single, “Take Back The Night”.


Arcade Fire, N/A

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: October 29, 2013

Arcade-Fire-006Right now the details are few about Arcade Fire’s follow up to The Suburbs (2010).  The Suburbs was a triumph, debuting at number one on the albums chart with 156,000 copies and selling 765,000 copies total. Numbers aside, The Suburbs won the coveted Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2011.


Elton John, The Diving Board

Genre: Pop / Rock

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 24, 2013

This is a BIG Elton John release.  The 66 year old veteran is releasing his first solo album in seven years.  Ain’t much changed… he co-writes with his homeboy Bennie Taupin and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Cher, Closer To The Truth

Genre: Pop / Dance

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 24, 2013

Premiere Of "The Zookeeper" - ArrivalsIt’s been eleven years since Cher’s last studio album (Living Proof, 2002).  Can the 67 year old rekindle the fire after such a long hiatus? Let’s hope there’s another “Believe” in her!


John Mayer, Paradise Valley

Genre: Pop / Rock

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 20, 2013

XXX _JOHN MAYER GAP 1669.JPG A FEAEvery John Mayer album seems to make a nice dent in the charts.  I have no doubt that Paradise Valley will follow suit and likely find itself at the penthouse.  That said, wasn’t it surprising that his 2012 effort Born and Raised missed out on the Grammy love he usually gets?


Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks 

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 3, 2013

trent-reznor_1358298cThis is Nine Inch Nails’ first album since The Slip from 2008.  The Slip was given away for free is memory serves me correctly.  If you want to get technical, their last proper album via major label was 2007’s Year Zero, which debuted at number two (187,000) behind Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing.


Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 17, 2013

mgmt1Who does trippy much better than MGMT? The duo’s third album arrives after a three year hiatus. 2010 effort Congratulations debuted triumphantly at number two with 66,000 copies sold.


Earth, Wind & Fire, Now, Then & Forever

Genre: R&B

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 10, 2013

It’s the legendary soul band’s first album in eight years (Illumination, 2005)! Explanation enough!


Panic! At The Disco, Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die 

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. release date: October 8, 2013

panic-2013-400Panic! At The Disco return with their fourth album, led by Janet Jackson alluding poppy single “Miss Jackson”.  “Miss Jackson are you nasty?” LOL.  Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die follows up 2011 effort, Vices & Virtues.  


Raheem DeVaughn, A Place Called Loveland

Genre: R&B

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 20, 2013

The neo-soul hippie returns after a three year hiatus (The Love & War MasterPeace, 2010).


Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action 

Genre: Alternative

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 27, 2013

Franz-Ferdinand-in-2009-002The band returns with their first studio album in four years (Tonight, 2009).  Here’s hoping the Scottish band can get back on their debut album’s swag (Franz Ferdinand, 2004).


Elvis Costello & The Roots, Wake Up Ghost

Genre: Rock

Anticipated U.S. Release date: September 17, 2013

I know very little about this album as of yet, but who cares? Elvis Costello AND The Roots? Count me in.


TGT, Three Kings

Genre: R&B

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 20, 2013

71SLN8s527L._SL1425_Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank? That’s some kind of adult contemporary R&B album!


The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars

Genre: Country / Folk

Anticipated U.S. Release date: August 6, 2013

Sophomore follow-up to the duo’s Grammy-winning Barton Hollow (Folk Album, Country Duo/Performance (“Barton Hollow”)).


Many, many more releases will be announced as the year progresses.  Here’s some other notable upcoming releases:

KT Tunstall, Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon (August 6, 2013)

Glen Campbell,  See You There (August 13, 2013)

Washed Out, Paracosm (August 13, 2013)

Allen Toussaint, Songbook August 20, 2013)

Jimmy Buffett, Songs From St. Somewhere (August 20, 2013)

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind (August 20, 2013)

Avenged Sevenfold, Hail to the King  (August 27, 2013)

Ashanti, BraveHeart (September 3, 2013)

Arctic Monkeys, AM (September 10, 2013)

Gloria Estefan, The Standards  (September 10, 2013)

Goldfrapp, Tales of Us  (September 10, 2013)

Billy Currington, We Are Tonight (September 17, 2013)

Chris Young, A.M. (September 17, 2013)

Jack Johnson, From Here To Now To You (September 17, 2013)

Johnny Lang, Fight For My Soul (September 17, 2013)

Placebo, Loud Like Love  (September 17, 2013)

Sting, The Last Ship (September 24, 2013)

Candice Glover, Music Speaks (TBA)

Austin Mahone, What About Love © Chase/Republic

Ranking 7 New Singles from June 11, 2013

Ah, the ‘summer single’… not really since it’s not officially summer, but close enough.  Robin Thicke accomplished a huge career feat this week, claiming the top spot of the Bilboard Hot 100 with “Blurred Lines”.  When a new single is released, you always wonder, who’s got next.  I’ve listened to seven new singles released on June 10th/11th and recorded my thoughts.  One separated itself from the rest, one surprised, and one might grow on me.  Regardless, these are my opinions and if you like a single I bashed criticized, we all have differing tastes and opinions.

7) Five For Fighting, “What If” (Wind Up Records)

I’m not a hater – or that much of one, but Five For Fighting seems to do much of the same thing quite often. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re selling singles/albums or have a devoted fan base, but if you ask me, it wouldn’t hurt for John Ondrasik to shake things up.  “What If” is solid, but it’s also predictable.  Yeah, the acoustic piano and acoustic guitars coupled with percussive drums sounds great, but the record itself is what we expect from FFF.

Status: Take it or leave it.

Verdict: ✰✰✰

6) Mike Posner, “The Way It Used To Be” (RCA)

So this is Posner’s move to the big stage I suppose? Yes, “Cooler Than Me” was a hit, BUT 31 Minutes to Take Off didn’t go too far as an album.  Posner is an acquired vocal taste, which I happen to like. I can’t say I’m blow away with his first single after countless songwriting and collaborative experiences, but I see the potential of this single.  The pop cues are there while the groove is infectious.  Vocally, Posner sounds smooth, but he doesn’t branch out from or deliver any knockout punches.   Anthemic backing “ohs ohs ohs” incite more punch that I would’ve loved to have heard from Posner himself.  Maybe it’ll grow on me.

Status: Potential Grower.

Verdict: ✰✰✰

5) Jack Johnson, “I Got You” (Republic)

If I said I was in love with Jack Johnson as an artist, I would be lying. I hung around for In Between Dreams which sported “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” as well as a chill jam called “Banana Pancakes”.  But that’s the problem – the dude is so chill and mellow.  Wonder if trees are involved? Anyways, “I Got You” is enjoyable.  The acoustic production suits Jackson’s island sensibilities and while he’s no great, commanding presence vocally, he gives the song just what it needs.  The best part is the vocal production/arrangement, notably on the chorus: “I Got you, I got everything / I got you, I don’t need nothing more than you / I got everything, I got you…”

Status: Acoustic mellow soundness.

Verdict: ✰✰✰½

4) Skillet, “Not Gonna Die” (Atlantic)

Skillet attempt to blend Christian and rock together, straddling two very different audiences.  It works, so hats off to them. “Not Gonna Die” may not be the most profound number I’ve ever experienced, but it has many pros working for it.  It’s is edgy, but sans the profane or objectionable material some of Skillet’s more ‘secular’ brothers may opt for.  There are some delicious sounds, be it the enthusiastic string riffs or elements of dubstep. The chorus is both hooky and epic despite its simplicity: “No, not gonna die tonight / we’re gonna stand and fight forever…”  With gruff frontman John Cooper gritty, as Jason Mraz would sing, “everything is sound”.  Rise drops June 25.

Status: Rocking Christian rock.

Verdict: ✰✰✰½

3) Austin Mahone, “What About Love” (Chase / Republic)

No, I’m not big on teen-pop or teen pop stars… Lord knows I’ve had plenty of words for Justin Bieber (and everyone is justified).  But on his most recent single “What About Love”, Austin Mahone shows more maturity.  And yes, this was the ‘pleasant surprise’ I alluded to.   The teen-pop/schmaltz factor is still there, but Mahone’s vocals have grown bassier and his accompanying production work favors more urban-pop flair.  I wouldn’t call this cut ‘tough’, but it is more macho than “Say You Need A Friend” and sticks with you more than “Heart in My Hand”.  For Mahone to breakthrough, he has to record the ‘right’ record.  “What About Love” is much closer for sure.  Cody Simpson take notes…

Status: He’s got next, beware.

Verdict: ✰✰✰½

2) Sean Paul, “Other Side of Love” (VP / Atlantic)

Seems like it has been forever since Sean Paul truly dented the pop charts don’t it? Well it has.  “Other Side of Love” has plenty going for it.  It follows a formula, but does so well.  After opening tenderly with piano accompaniment and more nuanced vocals than we’re accustomed to from Sean Paul, a dance-reggae vibe establishes itself, quite mindful of modern pop. Piano becomes supplanted by slick synthetic ideas.  It’s not the ‘second coming’ mind you, but it pleased my ears.

Status: Potential comeback.

Verdict: ✰✰✰½

1) Schoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Collard Greens” (Top Dawg / Interscope)

So a rap cut about weed tops my rankings? Yes because it’s a darn good one.  From the opening establishment of a groove by the drums to the gimmicky, infectious hook, “Collard Greens” is quite distinct.  “Oh, oh luxury / chidi-chidi-ching could buy anything, cop that / oh, oh, collard greens / three degrees low, make it hot for me drop that…”, Schoolboy Q raps on the hook. With an ideal rap tone working for him, Schoolboy Q seems to be on autopilot (“Kush be my fragrance, we love marijuana / function on fire, burn the roof of this motherf*cker…” or “Weed steady blowing, pass the blunt to my Mama”).  Kendrick Lamar captivates on the second verse, providing a little bit of everything (Spanish and gun sound effects).  Sure, stoners should be pleased, but so will those who don’t necessarily indulge in ‘collards’.

P.S. This is not about the greens your grandmama cook you!

Status: Rap’s next big thing.

Verdict: ✰✰✰✰½