Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

25 Chart Takeaways: Taylor Swift Spends A Second Week At The Penthouse


Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

The title says it all. Here are 25 Chart Takeaways, led by one ubiquitous Taylor Swift – she’s everywhere, she’s everywhere!

1) Taylor Swift had another fantastic week on the Billboard 200, selling 402,000 copies – 343,000 copies more than the runner-up, Now 52. Also, Swift won’t be budging next week as another 300,000 copies are in her sales forecast.

2) Bette Midler had a bigger first week than artists who have been ‘bigger’ than her lately. The 40,000 copies of It’s The Girls wasn’t earth shattering, but those numbers are great for an act that hadn’t released a studio album in years.

Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes © Republic Nashville 3) Country music prospers on the Billboard 200 Top 10 thanks in part to the Academy of Country Music Awards. Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt sits at #4, Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes at #6, Brantley Gilbert’s Just As I Am at #62, and newbie Sam Hunt’s Montevallo at #10.

4) …There’s more to country’s success in the top 10 than just the ACAs. Google play offered Gilbert for $.99, which I actually took them up on their offer.   Aldean and FGL were already top 10 staples, while Hunt actually dropped from his #3 debut spot to #10.

5) Calvin HarrisMotion gives the Scottish DJ a top five album on the charts. The numbers aren’t world beating ones at 35,000 copies, but most electronic artists in particular would be happy with that.

Barbra Streisand, Partners © Columbia

6) Albums keep hanging around or return to the top 10 such as Barbra Streisand’s Partners and Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour. Both took a hiatus from the top 10 this past week, but have made a valiant return at #s 7 and 8.

7) Slipknot falls out of the top 10 this week as .5 The Gray Chapter slips from #9 to #12.

8) Barry Manilow’s My Dream Duets falls from #4 to #14.

9) Miranda Lambert’s Platinum must be making a push for ‘platinum’ status as the ACA female entertainer of the year ascends from #87 to #15.

10) Teyana Taylor’s VII is yet another R&B bomb from the start. Taylor’s debut landed at a modest #19.

T.I., Paperwork © Columbia

11) Paperwork is not doing too hot for T.I. After three weeks, Paperwork went from #2 to #13 to #20. It’s a shame, considering it’s the ATL MC’s best album in years.

12) Chris Tomlin couldn’t muster a #1 album out of Love Ran Red. He also couldn’t muster up a great second week on the charts, as the album tumbles from #8 to #25.

13) Azealia Banks finally released an album – that’s something in itself as the rap artist usually frequents twitter to beef with everybody. That said, Broke With Expensive Taste debuts modestly at #30. Poetic justice?

14) No big debut for Canadian vet Neil YoungStorytone also modestly debuts at #33.

15) Some boy bands break through, while others struggle. For One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer it’s seemed so easy. For The Vamps, well not so much.   There is only room for a couple of pop bands making pre-teen and teen girls swoon apparently. #40 definitely doesn’t have breakthrough written anywhere in the least.

16) Bob Dylan and The Band do pretty well for themselves debuting at #41 and #42 with The Basement Tapes Raw / The Basement Tapes Complete. The Basement Tapes Complete retails for $60 digitally and $120 in CD format.

17) Jake Miller’s major label EP Lion Heart debuts at #51. Perhaps had more been made of the project, it could’ve produced more buzz and bigger numbers.

Chris Brown, X © RCA

18) Put a big old “X” on Chris Brown’s X, which is selling as modestly as everything else. X is in it’s eight week on the Billboard 200, currently sitting at #52.

19) The Hope is not great for Susan Boyle. It’s to the tune of a #16 start, followed by #33 in its second week, and currently #55.   That’s a drop of 17 spots, followed by 22 more spots. OUCH Susie, ouch!

20) People must’ve been turned off by those Black Veil Brides – or scared. They indulged for one week (#10) and then shunned them the next (#59).

21) Vance Joy’s dreams of commercial success have some optimism this week, albeit it small. Dream Your Life Away ascends 26 spots (#89 to #63).

22) Aretha Franklin may have landed her biggest debut ever with Sings The Diva Classics at #13, but she’s since fallen to #41 and now #69. Still in her 70s, she definitely “can’t complain.”

Logic, Under Pressure © Def Jam 23) I feel bad for my boy Logic, who sees his exceptional Under Pressure continue to plummet, this week from #31 to #73. That sucks man – really sucks.

24) Stevie Nicks24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault has been greatly underappreciated, but this week, she sees a spike from #106 to #83. You go girl!

U2, Songs of Innocence © Interscope

25) It’s a continuous struggle for U2; Songs of Innocence free falls from #63 to #93. SMH!

Photo Credits: © Big Machine, © Interscope, © RCA, © Def Jam, © Republic

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

10 Memorable Tracks from November


Justin Bieber performs live in concert as part of his 'Believe Tour' at the Jos Miguel Agrelot Coliseum Carolina 10/20/2013 © WENN

Need ten jams to spin? Here’s my list of ten of November 2013’s hottest joints!

1)  Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly, Do What U Want” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga seen leaving her hotel carrying a large seashell umbrella in London London 10/31/2013 © Palace Lee, PacificCoastNewsApplause” may have been a bust of sorts, but Gaga got herself together with the help of one of R&B’s most salacious presences, R. Kelly.  Playing on words, “Do What U Want” accomplishes Gaga’s love for double meanings.  If examined sexually, Gaga presents herself as, well easy.  But when examined less pervertedly, Gaga is suggesting she is more than her body and could care less how you scrutinize it, etc.

2) Bun B featuring Pimp C, Lil Boosie & Big KRIT, “Cake”  (Trill O.G.: The Epilogue)

 

Bun B probably isn’t most of the present generation’s ‘go to’ MC, but the veteran UGK MC is nothing short of a beast.  Here, his late, great partner Pimp C delivers a masterful hook, while Bun is joined by Lil Boosie and Mississippi underrated MC Big KRIT.  KRIT also handles the production work, which seems like the perfect match for the 42-year old Bun B. My favorite catch line, “Them thighs come with that shake / b**ch in yo mind, ho I got cake.”

3) Justin Bieber featuring R. Kelly, PYD

Justin Bieber, PYD

R. Kelly may just be R&B’s most popular commodity again as Justin Bieber taps him for arguably his best Music Mondays release to date, “PYD” (“Put You Down”).  Previously, the Biebz has been whining about heartbreak and Selena Gomez namely, but on “PYD” he wants to get… well, down. No more of the G- and PG-rated Bieber where “damn” is as far as he’ll step from his teen-pop roots… he’s ready to step it up a notch.  And if we didn’t understand his intentions, him and Kelly repeatedly iterate the acronym throughout (“P-Y-D, P-Y-D”)

4) Jhene Aiko featuring Vince Staples, Vapors”  (Sail Out – EP)

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

From the first track “Vapors”, one knows that  Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out is something special.  Playing doubly as a weed-smoking joint as well as a yearning for an ex- who was good in bed, “Vapors” is both brilliant and highly representative of the newfound alternative R&B movement.  “Can you hit it again?” never sound more telling from Aiko’s cool, calm, and collected vocal perspective.

5) Celine Dion, Water And A Flame” (Loved Me Back To Life)

Celine Dion, Loved Me Back To Life

Celine Dion’s latest album has plenty of strong songs that tickled my fancy, with the Daniel Merriweather cover “Water And A Flame” amongst ‘em.  The original is little known as Merriweather isn’t a big name in the United States.  Regardless, if Merriweather never receives his deserved recognition, at least one of the greatest pop singers provides a stirring rendition here.

6) Eminem, “Rap God”, (The Marshall Mathers LP 2)

Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP2

What more is there to say, Eminem delivered the hottest rap track of the year this side of Kanye West’s “Blood On the Leaves” and Kendrick Lamar’s epic rap verse on Big Sean’s “Control”.  If I’d been Big Sean, I would’ve fought to have gotten “Control” on Hall of Fame, even if it meant delaying it (it’s sold abysmally anyways).  But this is Eminem’s moment and quite an electrifying moment it is indeed.

7)  Jake Miller, “Homeless” (Us Against Them)

Jake Miller, Us Against Them

Homeless” is among the cream of the crop from Jake Miller’s debut album Us Against Them.  Vocally, Miller sounds solid as he sings plaintively on the chorus: “Here I stand in the cold / I try to knock as you change the locks / now I’m all alone / where am I supposed to go / if you are where my home is, I guess that makes me homeless.”  The serious vibe of the sung vocals is matched by Miller’s more agile, rhythmic rapped vocals. While  it’s a ‘bummer’ as far as its overall tone, it is at least a standout ‘bummer’.

8) Mariah Carey, “The Art of Letting Go” 

Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse

Mimi’s latest single, “The Art of Letting Go”, finds one of R&B’s preeminent divas doing what she does best, BALLADS.  Whether she’s singing in her lower register or ascending to her upper register with every bit of her emotion, Carey compels the listener and makes us think of our own moments when we’ve struggled to let go.  “The Art of Letting Go” is filled with exceptional, memorable, and prudent lyrical moments including “Evidently your words were merely lies / reverberating in my ears / and the echo won’t subside / there’s a deep deep loss of hope…” from verse two.  The bridge confirms that “Baby letting go, baby letting go / ain’t easy…”

9) Jake Bugg, “A Song About Love” (Shangri La)

Jake Bugg, Shangri La

Recently I reviewed Jake Bugg’s sophomore effort, Shangri La.  While I had mixed feelings, I certainly had rave reviews for one particular standout in “A Song About Love”:

“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album.  The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection  Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.

10) Lady Gaga, Dope” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP

Another Lady Gaga track really? Yep.  “Dope” is completely different from “Do What U Want”.  Sure, it sounds as if it shouldn’t be a substantive track, but Gaga’s intents are quite notable, more so than some of ARTPOP’s ‘looser’ cuts. On the sole ballad from the album, Gaga opens herself up to vulnerability, suggesting that despite her past screw-ups with substances, she needs her man “more than dope”.  Sure she’s literal and dope doesn’t lend itself to the greatest heart-warming moment ever, but her personalized touch truly shines here.

Jake Miller, Us Against Them

Review: Jake Miller, ‘Us Against Them’


Us Against Them

Miller eschews the trap in favor for the pop-side of rap 

Jake Miller • Us Against Them • eOne • US Release Date: November 5, 2013

Pop-rap doesn’t get the same respect that edgier, more ‘trill’ rap receives.  Why? Because generally, pop-rap loses the “rap” label at all regardless if the artists actually raps.  Pop-rappers are thought to be the biggest sellouts of a genre that seems more focused about the ‘trap’, not commercial crossover.  However, some folk fit the mold to be a pop-rapper and what’s wrong with that? More pop-oriented rap artist Jake Miller pretty much lays out exactly where he stands artistically on full-length debut Us Against Them –  somewhere between pop and rap, duh!

Jake MillerAfter listening to the overall enjoyable, well produced effort, I don’t think Miller is too concerned about popping bottles or “bands making her dance” like gangsta rappers.  Spring break on the beach with his boo may be more up his alley… or even on his couch.  LOL.

Collide” opens Us Against Them with more ‘pop’ than ‘rap’.  Sure, there some pop-rapping going down, but “Collide” is that big pop crossover record meant to ideally give the independently signed artist commercial aspirations.  “Me and you stoppin’ time / all of the stars align / this is what it feels like… when we collide”, he sings on the big-time chorus.  It’s a shame that more people don’t know about Jake Miller yet as “Collide” isn’t a bad record – particularly if you’re into that crossover pop/rap scene.

Follow-up cut “Hollywood” certainly doesn’t paint Miller as an OG or a nu-gangsta, but there is a bit more rap-sensibility compared to “Collide”.  Miller gets some bragging in: “Said sayonara to my old life / cause that sh*t started borin’ me / got Caviar on my plate now / feelin’ like the man / I don’t even think that it tastes good / I’m just eatin’ it cause I can, b*tch!” The concept is nothing new, evidenced by the ‘I came up’ hook (“We livin’ the dream (we goin’ Hollywood)..”), but everyone likes a good success story I suppose.  Doesn’t hurt to have that pop-urban Drake-like Bridge going on either.

Jake Miller

Me and You” opens with pop-driven piano, signaling a return to more of a pop flavor.  Miller pulls it off without a hitch.  Don’t let Miller’s bright and optimistic performance make you think he’s too soft, he gets an f-bomb in there (“‘Cause I’ve been up for days / thinkin‘ ‘bout escaping now / we can have it made / f*ck this place, we’re breaking out / so peace out ‘cause we gone / girl I know you’re nervous / but we can take ‘em on / us against them, the whole world versus…”).  How would I describe the vibe of this cut? Pleasant and enjoyable.  Sure, he’s not rapping about popping bottles in the club or how his “drop is sick”, but does he really need to? Seems like he’s found his niche.  Follow-up “High Life” featuring Jeremy Thurber keeps Miller’s joyful, sunny pop-rapping afloat. Yes, that means there’s definitely guitar involved.  My favorite lyric? “Yeah I need some Nutrisystem, ‘cause my pockets lookin’ fat now…” #Swag

On the frat-rap delight “My Couch”,  Miller certainly insinuates sexual endeavors, but does so playfully, if cornily.  Sure, the hook is innocent enough (“She don’t wanna go out / she’d rather chill in my house… her friends are in the VIP but she don’t need an ID to come and kick it on my couch”), but you know a three letter word is insinuated through lines like  “‘Cause you ain’t got nothing on but my tank and yo undies / so get on the floor and just tackle me, rugby…” or “High heels, black dress, you could say goodbye to that…”  There it is.

Jake Miller

Miller’s tone contrasts on the excellent “Homeless”, which sports some of the album’s most respectable sung vocals.  Vocally, Miller sounds particularly nice, even if he sings in a more plaintive tone on the chorus: “Here I stand in the cold / I try to knock as you change the locks / now I’m all alone / where am I supposed to go / if you are where my home is, I guess that makes me homeless.”  The serious vibe of the sung vocals is matched by Miller’s more agile, rhythmic rapped vocals, particularly moments like “I need some help, I’m feelin’ stranded, losin’ my damn mind / I’m blindfolded by you, girl you took everything that I own / I keep callin’ your phone but all I get is the tone…” It’s a ‘bummer’ you might say, but at least its a standout bummer.

Carry On” finds Miller calling his girl “the bomb” basically.  It reminds me of a quicker-paced “See You Soon” from The Road Less Traveled EP (I previously reviewed the EP here).  “Heaven” should definitely please the less pop-rap oriented crowd who likes something that goes a bit ‘harder’.  Additionally, “Heaven” sounds like the contemporary, more commercialized rap-sound epitomized… well without sounding like say Flo Rida. Yes, the hook is still sung, but Miller aims for an edgier sound on the verses.  Sure the celestial is not exactly what you expect to sport more profanities, but that exactly what Miller does.

A reprisal of “A Million Lives” feels right at home from The Road Less Traveled EP.  For those who haven’t heard the inspiring fan ode about the effect of Miller’s music, it is definitely the ‘Jake Miller brand’ at its best.  “You help me find my inner strength deep inside me / through all the bad times, you helped me find the light / believe or not, you saved my life…” Well written and performed for sure.

Jake Miller

On “Puppet”, Miller is “…feelin’ like a puppet / a god damn puppet / being pulled in a million different ways…” Why? Apparently the cost of fame, the affect on family and relationships, and the psychological effect of putting out the perfect album.  Why does it work? Because Miller is candid, something so many artists aren’t.  I mean, the dude “… don’t even have time to take a sh*t…” that’s deep right there.  “Number One Rule” ends the album with a nice, relatively quick pace.  Optimistic and positive, “Number One Rule” closes much like “Collide” opened.  What’s the rule? “…Never be number two!”

Overall, Jake Miller assembles an enjoyable rap album in which he is true to himself and specifically the artist he wishes to be.  This is not your  hardcore rap album with bangers championing irresponsibilities such as using drugs, casual sex, and guns.  It is what it is – a sunny, pop-rap album by a youthful college dude with big dreams.  Ultimately, from my perspective, that is enough to capture my attention and receive my approval.

Favorites:  “Hollywood”; “Homeless”; “Heaven”; “A Million Lives”; “Puppet”

★★★½

Arcade Fire Launch at No. 1 With Reflektor


51wzw69ySAL._SL500_AA280_

Arcade-Fire-mr01Arcade Fire return to a familiar place, the number one spot on the Billboard Album Charts.  The Montreal band’s most recent album, Reflektor moves a respectable 140,000 copies.  Compared to 2010 effort The Suburbs, the most recent figure is just slightly less (The Suburbs moved 156,000 copies).  Arcade Fire knocks Katie Perry off of her perch, sending PRISM to settle for no. 2 selling 92,000 copies.  According to billboard.com, Perry had a solid second week considering how much huge debuts tend to wane in sales.  That said, what is more noticeable to me is that only one album sells over 100,000 copies.  It’s November y’all… shouldn’t we be seeing multiple albums at least reaching that 100K threshold?

51+FjDqGtcLOther albums debuted in the top ten, though no bigger than ReflektorKelly Clarkson’s first Christmas effort Wrapped in Red moved 70,000 copies, good for a no. 3 bow.  Not far behind numerically was Robertsons’ Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas, which sold 69,000 copies at no. 4.  Honestly, I wasn’t even aware of the Duck Dynasty release, so those numbers are exceptional contextually.  Then again, I’ve also never seen Duck Dynasty.  Oh well.

Country doesn’t have a great week from a numbers perspective otherwise (with the Duck Dynasty compilation being considered ‘country’). Newbie Thomas Rhett and tried-and-true vet Toby Keith land at nos. 6 and 7 with 36,000 and 35,000 copies sold respectively. Yuck! Remember those days where Toby Keith used to be one of country’s preeminent artists? Then again, the dude is 52… Don’t believe it when they say “age ain’t nothin’ but a number!”  Linkin Park’s remixed compilation effort bows at no. 10 with 33,000 copies sold.  Compare that to new country studio efforts and we know that something is amiss… just saying!

Holdovers: Katy Perry (@ no. 2); Drake (@ no. 5); Lorde (@ no. 8);  Miley Cyrus (@ no. 9)

91C6DnbKH1L._SL1500_Eminem’s single “The Monster” makes a big splash, but can’t dethrone queen Lorde’s “Royals” on the Billboard Hot 100 throne.  According to billboard, that makes six weeks.  So after two brief stints with “Roar” and “Wrecking Ball” crowning the chart, Lorde has made it her queendom.  All hail!

Who’s Got Next? Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, no questions asked.  It’s already being prognosticated by Billboard between 700- and 750,000.  Among other albums released next week are Avril Lavigne’s Avril LavigneCeline Dion’s Loved Me Back to LifeThe Wanted’s Word of Mouth,  and Jake Miller’s Us Against Them.

Chart Moves, 4.24.13: Fall Out Boy, Kid Cudi, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Michael Bublé


Fall Out Boy had a pretty good week, debuting at no. 1 and all…

Chart Rewind

Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg

Last week (April 17), Paramore crowned the Billboard Albums chart with 106,000 copies sold of Paramore.  Settling for the runner-up spot was Brad Paisley, who sold 100,000 copies of Wheelhouse.  Outside of the top ten, there was some action I’d like to highlight. On last Thursday (April 18) when the full chart materialized, some newbies saw their efforts bow.  Jake Miller, whom I wrote a post about saw his The Road Less Traveled EP bow at no. 55 (New Music: Jake Miller, The Road Less Traveled).  British alt teen Jake Bugg arrived in the U.S., hitting the charts at no. 75 with his self-titled debut Jake Bugg. Bugg’s album was released in his native Britain back on October 15, 2012, when he was just 18.  A ‘New Music’ post on Bugg is set to be published tomorrow.

This Week’s Chart Storylines…

Fall Out Boy Earns Second Career No. 1

Fall Out Boy had a fight on their hands, supposedly as they were duking it out with hip-hop left-fielder Kid Cudi.  When it

Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy

was all said and done, Fall Out Boy’s goal to Save Rock and Roll was just too much for Indicuds umm… Cudiness.  Save Rock and Roll debuted at the penthouse with 154,000 copies (Fall Out Boy Debuts at No. 1, Tops Kid Cudi on Billboard 200 Albums Chart).  Here’s what’s significant about that number – it’s only 4,000 copies more than 2008’s Folie á Deux sold during a crowded holiday week to bow at no. 8.  While the inflation and competitiveness of the holiday week must be kept in mind, Save Rock and Roll selling just 154,000 shows how much smaller music sales weeks are these days.  Being there second career no. 1, one has to go back to 2007’s Infinity on High to compare the numbers.  Infinity sold 106,000 more copies its first week – yikes.  Only time will tell if Save Rock and

Paramore's stock dropping?
Paramore’s stock dropping?

Roll can ultimately get the job done.  154,000 copies is not looking all that promising when you look at it from that perspective, right? BTW, I penned a review for the Chicago band’s comeback album which you can read here.

Oh and by the way, you know how I mentioned Paramore had a good week last week? If they were also trying to ‘save rock and roll’, their progress has been derailed by a giant descent from the penthouse to… well no. 12.  But think about it in this regards… if an album debuts at no. 1 with 106,000 copies, usually a 60% drop (often more) is common.  A 60% dip from 106,000 is ~42,000 copies, which in this day and age, would’ve kept the album in the top ten.  Unfortunately for Hayley Williams and company, billboard.com states the album sold a tepid 27,000 copies… Ewwww. I smell commercial troubles brewing. It was good to be on top for one week…

Kid Cudi Settles for No. 2

As some like to say, “he tried it!” Kid Cudi tried to endear enough odd-balls like himself to win the national championship – well win the battle with

Indicud slightly underperformed expectations, but still pulled out a solid debut at no. 2.

some punks from Chicago for the top spot on the charts.  He was in it for a while, but when it was said and done, he fell 18,000 copies short… Wasn’t really that close was it? 136,000 copies isn’t bad for a rap album in 2013.  A$AP Rocky was able to pull in 136,000.  Lil Wayne did 217,000. Tyga only 54,000. Cudi’s right in there basically.  How does it compare to previous releases? 2009’s Man on the Moon debuted at no. 4 with 104,000 copies while 2010’s Man on the Moon II debuted at no. 3 with 169,000.  The difference? 33,000 copies.  It’s a bit disappointing given Cudi was projected closer to FOB’s numbers, but with albums NOT selling, who can complain about a no. 2 debut? He outsold Bon Jovi – hard to believe right?  As always, if you haven’t purchased/listened to Indicud and would like an opinion, here’s my review here.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Get Some Top 10 Action

Yeah Yeah Yeahs find themselves in the top 10. The numbers aren’t impressive, but it’s the little victories.

Most things were predictable this week.  Fall Out Boy and Kid Cudi celebrate relative successes while others continue to hope they’ll breakthrough.  While Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Mosquito might not exactly be touted as a ‘breakthrough’, a no. 5 debut is celebration worthy.  38,000 copies doesn’t do to much, especially considering the formula of an album losing more than half of its sales after the first week traditionally, but no need to rain on the parade for Karen O. and company, right?

Who’s Got Next?

Tuesday, April 23 was a big day for new releases.  Michael Bublé released To Be Loved (review is coming),

Michael Bublé, in his zone...
Michael Bublé, in his zone…

Phoenix released their anticipated follow up to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix entitled Bankrupt! (review here),  Fantasia returns on a mission on Side Effects of You (Review: Fantasia, Side Effects of You), will.i.am just wants to ‘get stupid’ on #willpower, while Snoop Lion enjoys his trees on Reincarnated.  The best sure bet seems to be Michael Bublé, who has had some success with no. 1 albums (’11s Christmas’09s Crazy Love, and 07’s Call Me Irresponsible). The rest are all question marks. While Phoenix gained a higher profile with 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, sales will be hard to predict.  Fantasia’s previous album, 2010’s Back To Me debuted well at no. 2 with 117,000 copies. That said, it’s been three years since that effort and “Lose To Win” isn’t an airplay staple.  will.i.am has done the solo thing before and it really didn’t go anywhere.  And as for Snoop Lion… I wouldn’t bet on him.

New Music: Jake Miller, The Road Less Traveled


Jake Miller ⎪The Road Less Traveled EP ⎪ eOne⎪ US Release Date: April 09, 2013

Jake Miller

Jake Miller is an up-and-coming hip-hop/pop artist from Weston, Florida who plays multiple instruments – impressive right? Miller is signed to independent music powerhouse, eOne.  The 20 year old’s latest effort,  The Road Less Traveled EP is available digitally (iTunes – Music – The Road Less Traveled – EP by Jake MillerThe Road Less Traveled), released April 9, 2013.  EP’s rarely impress me, but The Road Less Traveled was quite enjoyable and made me as a listener want to listen repeatedly.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for pop-rap and crossover appeal, but I found myself nodding my head and feeling Miller’s music.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLiJ0XHE/

Here’s a little rundown of the effort’s six tracks:

Let You Go

Jake Miller

This opener screams ‘hit’.  Much like growing single “Crickets” by Drop City Yacht Club, this cut embraces a catchy pop sensible hook (“I won’t ever let you go / you ain’t gotta worry about a thing every single day / I’mma let you know you / ooh baby can’t you see you’re the one for me”), solid but not overdone production work with crossover in mind, and a nice flow from Miller.  Maybe it’s a bit schmaltzy, but it is appealing schmaltz and easygoing.

Glow” featuring Gene Noble

“Glow” may not ‘pop’ as much, but Gene Noble gives Miller a nice lift on another sensational pop hook.  The production continues in a pop/urban crossover flare while Miller’s agile rhymes sound as breezy as a Florida beach.  Excellent drum programming, bright synths, everything is crisp and clean here.

A Million Lives

A standout for sure, “A Million Lives” is laden with substance, something so much of today’s music seems to throw aside in favor of references to sex and drugs.  Instead of going ‘small’, Miller goes ‘big’ with the topic of cancer.  He sums up this meaningful number on a clever hook that is also pretty easygoing, despite it’s ‘big’ message: “I’ve met a million people, been a million places / shook a million hands / seen a million faces… No haven’t made a million but I’ve touched a million lives”.

Goodbye” featuring Britney Holmes

Miller continues to impress, rapping over animated hip-hop drum programming and getting a lift from a nuanced Britney Holmes (“Goodbye to the memories / goodbye to the dream…”)

Steven

Miller goes thoughtful once more, taking on the topic of bullying and pondering suicide because of it.  Hookless, this is a juggernaut that the MC absolutely slaughters (in a good way).

See Ya Soon

Personality helps?

Miller goes soft on the closing cut, telling his lover “Baby I can’t wait to come home to you…” He balances the singing and rapping  superbly here, much like the electrifying opener.

It is hard for new musicians to breakthrough. Being a musician myself, if you don’t have the proper ability to ‘put yourself out there’ and hardcore sell yourself, you probably won’t be noticed. Sometimes if you do, it is still difficult to attain the necessary footing.  I hope Jake Miller continues to make a name for himself.  Regardless, the EP was a great listen, particularly with the absence of too many dirty words😉.

Check out Miller’s facebook page here: Jake MillerMusician/Band150,899 like this · 12,442 talking about this as well as his site http://jakemillermusic.com.

Verdict: ✰✰✰✰