Drake, Views © Cash Money

Drake, Beyoncé and Radiohead Rule The Top of the Billboard 200 (25 Chart Takeaways)

What A Time To Be Alive! Yep, that’s surely what Drake must be saying to himself – he can probably throw “HYFR (Hell Ya F**king Right)” into the mix as well. Drake holds the no. 1 spot, besting Beyoncé for second consecutive week, and holding off Radiohead’s surprise album A Moon Shaped Pool from no. 1. Believe it or not, there are even more chart takeaways to be “taken away” here, sigh.

1) Drake’s Views spends a second week at no. 1, narrowly outselling Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool.

2) Beyoncé’s former no. 1, Lemonade, spends a second consecutive week at no. 2. Interestingly, Drake’s Views didn’t best Lemonade’s SPS’s (streams plus sales) by very much.

3) Radiohead settles for a no. 3 start with A Moon Shaped Pool. While Radiohead couldn’t reach no. 1 like 2007 effort In Rainbows, in pure sales, A Moon Shaped Pool gives the alternative band its most robust numbers in years.

4) Keith Urban sees Ripcord debut respectably at no. 4.

5) Prince continues to dominate the charts, with The Very Best of Prince retaining a spot in the top 5 (no. 4) and Purple Rain slipping from no. 3 to no. 8 this week.

6) Cole Swindell sees his sophomore album You Should Be Here debut at no. 6.

7) Adele extends her return to the top 10 as 25 improves from no. 10 to no. 9.

8) Hamilton reaches a new peak position, ascending from no. 13 to no. 11 this week, the Broadway soundtrack’s 33rd week on the charts.

9) Mike Posner couldn’t score a second top-10 album. At Night, Alone debuts at no. 12. 31 Minutes To Takeoff, on the other hand, debuted at no. 8.

10) Justin Bieber exits the top 10! Purpose slips four spots from no. 9 to no. 13.

11) Rittz lands at no. 19 on the BB200 with Top Of The Line. Who is Rittz? Good question.

12) Andy Black had a disappointing debut week. The Black Veil Brides frontman’s solo debut The Shadow Side lands at no. 22.

13) Goo Goo Dolls see their latest album, Boxes, debut unimpressively at no. 27.

14) Cyndi Lauper hasn’t been “big” for years. Considering that fact, her latest album’s (Detour) debut at no. 29 is sort of impressive.

15) James Blake’s third full-length album, The Colour In Anything, debuts at no. 36.

16) Gwen Stefani’s third solo album, This Is What The Truth Feels Like hasn’t sold very well. However, the album sees an uptick this week, improving 23 spots from no. 82 to no. 59.

17) Rob Zombie’s “satanic orgy celebration” must not have went over too well. Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser slips 56 spots from no. 6 to no. 62.

18) Kaytranada’s 99.9% debuts at no. 73. Again, who? What?

19) Safe to say that A$AP Ferg definitely isn’t “striving” or “prospering” based upon the chart performance of his sophomore album, Always Strive and Prosper. The album slips 31 spots in its third week from no. 46 to no. 77.

20) Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter sees his latest album, Take Me To The Alley, debut at no. 82.

21) Santana’s latest album continues to fly…down the chart that is! Santana IV slips 40 spots from no. 71 to no. 111 in just four short weeks on the chart.

22) ANOHNI’s HOPELESSNESS debuts quietly at no. 121.

23) Andra Day sees her Cheers To The Fall re-enter the charts at no. 126. Day peaked at no. 48 earlier this year.

24) The way that Martina McBride’s latest album fell down the charts was nothing short of Reckless, as it slid 107 spots from no. 31 to no. 138.

25) Two more notable Prince albums re-enter the Billboard 200: Controversy (no. 162) and Dirty Mind (no. 184).

Cole Swindell, You Should Be Here © Warner Music Nashville

Whose New Album Is Better – Keith Urban Or Cole Swindell?

There were two highly anticipated country albums released on May 6, 2016: Keith Urban’s Ripcord and Cole Swindell’s You Should Be Here. Urban is well established in country circles, releasing his debut album back in 1997 (The Ranch). As far as Swindell is concerned, he’s the “new kid on the block” as You Should Be Here is his sophomore album.

So, with the aforementioned information considered, it’s not possible for two male country artists to release albums on the same day and there be no competition. Besides, what would life be like without healthy competition, right? Right. So, after hearing both albums, one clearly MUST trump the other! Who wins the head to head between Keith Urban and Cole Swindell?

Keith Urban, Ripcord © Capitol

Let’s just say that it’s good to be…DRUM ROLL PLEASE… KEITH URBAN. Yes, Keith Urban’s Ripcord bests Cole Swindell’s You Should Be Here. Here’s the deal. Swindell plays truer to country music on You Should Be Here, which may play better to more traditional country music listeners. Still, to call Cole Swindell a traditionalist would be a massive overstatement. Contextually, You Should Be Here is the safer album.

Those who don’t mind stretching their ears will appreciate and enjoy Keith Urban’s Ripcord better. While Urban takes lots of liberties throughout the album, it’s more exciting than Swindell’s by a mile. That’s not to write off You Should Be Here, but the album simply has one too many ballads – actually more than one – and too few times lacks that rousing “oomph” to take it to the next level. Even if Ripcord failed to rouse vocally in regards to Urban’s performance, he has brilliant, eclectic music backgrounds to make up for the slack.

When it’s all said and done, Keith Urban wins. Not only is he more experienced – he’s 48 and Swindell is 32 – he’s already defined himself as an artist and is at the stage of reinvention as opposed to ‘invention.’ Swindell still seems to be searching for his niche and distinctive personality. Save for fun songs like “Flatliner” featuring Dierks Bentley and “No Can Left Behind” and excellent ballad “You Should Be Here,” the verdict is still out on Cole Swindell artistically speaking, platinum debut album or not.

Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece © RCA

The Death Of American Idol: Celebration of Life or Celebration of the End?

Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece © RCA

Time to break out the bubbly – like now! Has everyone heard the good news yet? American Idol has been canned. Somebody oughta shout right now! Yes, the show that was once a juggernaut but turned into nothing short of a boring, hot mess will survive just one more season. As to why a 15th season of the show is necessary might be the question of the year, but after 2016, Idol will be no more. To quote Madea, “Hallelujer!”

Is my jubilance – celebration of the end of American Idol – too much? NOPE. Idol has long lost its luster with its best, most profitable artists behind it. No longer are artists the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson or Fantasia coming out of the show. It’s grown stale and the lack of the original judges whose personalities were tied to the show’s success only hurt the show’s cause. No that’s no shade to Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, or Harry Connick, Jr. but still – there’s a whole group who felt the lack of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson just hasn’t worked.

Honestly, the show just grew predictable. Formerly a dedicated fan who voted and shook my head each and every time the wrong person was victorious (cough* cough* Kris Allen), beginning around season 12 (when Candice Glover won), I lost interest. I can’t say the same about other reality obsessions such as Survivor, Big Brother, or The Amazing Race. But these singing competitions (The Voice included) have lost a former believer. Wait, that sounds a bit atheistic – but you catch my drift!

Anyways, the decision producers made to end AI was the RIGHT one. It has BEEN time to move on from American Idol. The ratings have nose-dived, as has the talent. Maybe it is unfair to criticize talent I’ve eschewed for the past two seasons, but finding a pop idol doesn’t seem to be American Idol’s forte anymore. It really has never been the show’s strong suit, despite the artists who established a career after the show. And just look at how the guys have performed compared to the girls…now that indeed is a hot mess!

What is the best way to say goodbye to American Idol – how about “Bye, Felicia!”

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.

Chart Moves, September 11, 2013: Ariana Grande Tops


Chart Rewind (Highlights), September 04, 2013

51yRS7ThmxL._SL500_AA280_Avenged Sevenfold found themselves in a familiar place, no. 1, with 159,000 copies sold of Hail To The King.  Hip hop had another showing, but definitely not comparable to the summer trifecta of Kanye West, J. Cole, and Mac MillerBig Sean debuted at no. 3 with 72,000 copies of Hall of Fame while Juicy J landed right behind him at no. 4 with 64,000 copies of Stay Trippy.

By the way, what about those acts that got no love? Franz Ferdinand debuted at no. 24 with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Mandisa’s latest Overcomer landed at no. 29.  Goodie Mob’s comeback effort (Age Against The Machine) truly received nada, debuting at no. 30.  I suppose you win some and you lose some.

Grande Leads The Charge

Ariana Grande-GFR-020808Ariana Grande debuts atop the Billboard Albums Chart with 138,000 copies of Yours Truly sold.  For most of the week, it seemed that Grande would be dueling with a reintroduced Tamar Braxton for the number one spot. In the end, the young Mariah Carey-favoring singer/actress takes her rightful crown. Tamar Braxton debuts at no. 2 with Love & War selling 114,000 copies.  For an adult contemporary R&B album, that ain’t bad at all folks.  Honestly, I’m shocked that Braxton moved six figures… you just never know.

Nine Inch Nails debuts expectedly at no. 3 with 107,000 copies of Hesitation Marks sold.  Unfortunately, the 107,000 copies is a far cry from Nine Inch Nails’ previous major label efforts.  Still, six figures in this day and age is respectable.  Maybe these new kiddos just don’t know about Trent Reznor. Sigh.

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend lands at no. 4 with with Love in the FutureLove in the Future sold only 68,000 copies, down from the 133,000 copies that graced his last solo effort, Evolver (2008).  That said, Love in the Future did sell more than Legend’s collaborative album with The Roots, Wake Up! According to Billboard.com.  For an artist with such soul and talent, it is sad that 68,000 copies was the ceiling.  Better than the 55,000 copies prognosticated originally.

Jaheim doesn’t have his greatest sales week either, as Appreciation Day received little appreciation ultimately moving only 58,000 copies good for a no. 6 bow.  Jaheim has never moved gargantuan numbers, but in 2006, Ghetto Classics did debut atop the Billboard 200 with 152,000 copies sold.  2007 effort The Makings of a Man just missed the top ten (it was a December release), but sold a career best 176,000 copies.  Even 2010 effort Another Round had little to hold it’s head down about; it sold 112,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. But 58,000 copies? That ain’t going nowhere.

Katy Perry Roars On

Really, what else is their to say… Katy Perry already told you we’d hear her roar. And she’s roaring at no. 1 a second week.  Case closed.

Who’s Got Next?

51gNJ-wAuTL._SL500_AA280_Several new efforts materialized on Tuesday, September 10.  This includes Keith Urban’s Fuse,   2 Chainz’s B.O.A.T.S. II, Janelle Monáe’s The Electric Lady, The Weeknd’s Kiss Land, Sheryl Crow’s Feels Like Home, Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us, Trombone Shorty’s Say That To Say This, Sean Kingston’s Back 2 Life, Kaskade’s Atmosphere Earth Wind & Fire’s Now, Then & Forever, Gloria Estefan’s The Standards and Arctic Monkey’s AM Ones to watch? Keith Urban, 2 Chainz, Sheryl Crow, and possibly The Weeknd.  Curious to see how the sales come out for these albums.

American Idol: Epitomization of a Train-wreck?

Louisiana’s Burnell Taylor is one of the standouts amongst the guys this season.

American Idol, Reality TV’s vocal juggernaut, continues to age – and NOT gracefully.  You could argue having the somewhat annoying (I’m being

kind) Nicki Minaj adds some spice to the judging panel – or not. Regardless, watching Thursday night’s (February 28, 2013) Sudden Death round with the last remaining guys was a testament to how weak the talent seems to be this year. It just was a mess.  In fact, I wondered how they were going to find 5 guys out of the 10 that ultimately deserved to be there aside from standouts Burnell Taylor (performed John Legend‘s “This Time“), Victor Powell (went old school with Lenny Williams‘s “I Love You”) and arguably Cortez Shaw (on the potential shown by David Guetta/Sia‘s hit “Titanium“).  Lazaro Arbos consistently pulls at heart strings, particularly given his backstory and ability to sing effortlessly, but his performance was mediocre at best. Tennessee bred Nick Boddington has showcased the beauty of his voice (as Keith Urban is always quick to state), but his performance definitely left more to be desired.  Even so, if you had to choose, I suppose those five were as good as any.

I missed Wednesday night’s telecast with the group of girls (Survivor and Kentucky Basketball), but I was ‘treated’ to watching cray cray Zoanette Johnson‘s manic rendition of “The Circle Of Life“. To her credit, it was better than “Ba Ba Da Ba” or whatever that original was that she sung in Hollywood that had me rolling in the floor.  I wouldn’t be dying to buy a potential album by her nor see her live, but I also couldn’t say that about any of these contestants. Hey, I wasn’t a Phillip Phillips fan either.  But whatever.

But anyways, there isn’t much of a draw to Idol – it’s blasé. Mariah Carey and Nicki‘s bickering has taken a backseat, Keith Urban’s Aussie charm can only go so far, and Randy is predictable 12 seasons in. There may be talent, but after 12 seasons, nothing just blows you away.  Maybe I’ve listened to too many albums being a music critic or seen the supreme talents of Idol come and pass in the earliest seasons, but I don’t find myself that interested.  But whatever’s clever I guess.

Brent Rants: Why American Idol Should Be “Canned”

Maybe at times I too critical of things – I chalk it up to being a liberal twenty-something male with a lot to say about everything from the ‘enjoyable’ state of Kentucky (had to get that out, sigh*). But anyways, I knew in my cerebrum and in my heart that American Idol was going to be a HOTT (with two t’s) MESS! Sho nuff, it epitomized and exceeded that benchmark times two billion. The question that might be asked if you didn’t watch last nights tepid season premiere why was it such a mess? Well being the loud-mouthed central Kentuckian that I am, I’m going to explain.


The judges are a spectacle within themselves.  Mariah Carey is certainly qualified to be a judge, as me and many of my friends would agree upon. However, I have to question if Carey’s judging ‘game’ is hurt by an ‘X factor’ (no pun intended) in the unpredictably, eccentric Nicki Minaj.  The bickering was present between the two to some extent, but one has to feel that producers are ‘saving up’ to provide more juice throughout the season.  Believe me, I’m all about drama and occasional controversy, but what does this have to do with finding a potential gold-/platinum-selling superstar?



Another issue. Don’t you find it weird that Carey and Minaj have collaborated on a remix of  Carey’s “Up Out My Face” song from Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel ? Is it show, genuine jealousy (Mariah’s sold tons more but currently it’s Nicki’s moment), or just diva tactics? Why do I start humming Beyoncé‘s “Diva” as I reflect on the two?  As for Keith Urban, his Australian charm is bland as of yet and Randy Jacksonthe elder statesmen is blah. Simon Cowell, come back – X Factor‘s a bust anyways!



As for the talent, there were some voices, but none that initially rivaled the likes of Kelly Clarkson. Also you know you got problems when your aspiration as a vocalist is to be the next Justin Bieber. And yes I know I have been critical of ‘his highness’, but generally, isn’t the high watermark the likes of Michael JacksonWhitney Houston, Mariah CareyAretha Franklin, etc? I mean “As Long As You Love Me” is a catchy, schmaltzy pop song and all, but shouldn’t be the basis of sound artistry, am I wrong? I mean, yes, there is plenty of untapped talent in the U.S., but who’s to say it even comes and auditions for a talent show that has long lost it’s luster?

The other thing about last night – I found myself constantly switching back to college basketball. Yes,  I love basketball anyways, but there were times I felt bored as shhhhh! I mean even the good singers they put through didn’t wow me after 600 seasons of this aging juggernaut. I mean I plan to partake tonight (Thursday), but much like I eventually dropped The Voice and X Factor off my TV viewing schedule, American Idol is ‘this’ close to enduring the same fate.

A$AP Rocky‘s single title “F**kin’ Problems” from the MC’s debut album Long.Live.A$AP perhaps best describes American Idol’s issues.  Have a listen…CAUTION, dirty words (you should assume so from the title, right?).  As for AMERICAN IDOL, as my friends and I used to say in college #EPICFAIL


American Idol Unveils Judging Panel…#SMH

American Idol

American Idol is the king of singing competitions. It has been ‘tried and true’ throughout its tenure as far as having a consistent audience, even if that audience has dropped off with successive seasons.  It is like what Survivor is to the extreme adventure reality shows – King.  Well, the king has unveiled that the judges this season are Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and perhaps most surprisingly Randy Jackson, following speculation he would be given another role.  Dawg, what happened?!? 

So my take is that American Idol is so far gone that producers are doing any and everything to keep the juggernaut still being, WELL a juggernaut.  I’m now going to evaluate each of the judges as to why they were chosen for the show.

  1. Nicki Minaj: Nicki Minaj is this year’s Steven Tyler, only perhaps more extreme.  Minaj’s filter is,
    Nicki Minaj, in all her craziness… She “Beez in the Trap”

    well, doesn’t exists making her primed for being unpredictable on the panel.  She is both a rapper and a singer, therefore she represents the ‘NOW’ generation, which often incorporates elements of several genres. She’s an electric, although liberal performer, which is probably why producers wanted her.  Some may question her ‘experience’ given releasing only two albums, BUT both ended up peaking a #1 and both have been certified platinum.  VERDICT: personality and well-roundedness, as scary as that may be.

  2. Mariah Carey: This was a no brainer.  Carey possesses arguably one of the most electric, technical voices of a generation.  A proven
    Mariah Carey, the prodigious diva

    veteran and multi-Grammy nominee/winner, Carey is the complete package, even more so than J. Lo who she replaces.  Sure, she does not dance and shake her boo-tay like “Jenny on the Block” (she’s more of a diva and she might break something, LOL), but she could out sing Mrs. Casp – eh Ms. Lopez for days, years, eons!  She doesn’t click with Nicki Minaj, which could create some positive ‘ratings friction’ much like on The Voice with all the judges vs. Christina Aguilera. VERDICT: Diva-ness, Brilliant voice/Veteran experience

  3. Keith Urban: OK, I always thought this was going to be the weakest, most boring choice. And it is.  Keith Urban is a proven country artists with gold/platinum credibility.  There is always one or two country presences (much to my chagrin, no offense), so that’s
    Keith Urban, a better choice than Nick Jonas, but still B-O-R-I-N-G

    where Keith Urban comes in. Add to this that Blake Shelton holds down the country end on competing show The Voice, which will materialize for a spring season, so the country dudes can go ahead.  My issue is I don’t feel I can pinpoint Urban’s personality like I can Shelton, who is a ‘character-and-a-half.’ VERDICTBalanced/Safe Judge; Country Representative

  4. Randy Jackson: So basically they were about to screw a homie.  Jackson was going to be demoted to a ‘mentoring’ position after being the elder statesmen of the show.  My dawg was about to get screwed over.  Ain’t that some $… Well I don’t know what the terms are actually of Randy’s
    Randy Jackson is the “Cellophane” Man… Remember when John C. Reilly sung the song in ‘Chicago,’ he he he

    reappearance.  I suppose he is the ‘anchor’ considering the panel is 75% new.  I personally believe it goes to the format of X Factor, The Voice and Duets where there are 4 judges. In other words, Randy, DAWG, you were a ‘afterthought,’ congratulations.  VERDICT: Afterthought; Filler 4th Judge

So there it is. What are your thoughts? In other vocal competition news, The Voice will get two temporary judge placeholders in Usher and Shakira in their upcoming spring season, in which X-Tina and Cee Lo are taking a ‘siesta.’ There it is. :-))