Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rihanna's Back... a featured artist.

Apparently Saturday was the day that "Run This Town" was released to the hip-hop and R&B stations, because I heard it several times. The blogs are already off and running about who owned which verse, Jay-Z or Kanye. But, after getting over the surprise of hearing a new Rihanna song, even if she was adding hot female flavor, I noticed that her section is similar in tone to her last "single", T.I.'s "Live Your Life".

In "Live Your Life", she sings of just livin' your life, being ambitious, and basically, being true to yourself (though that is implied). T.I. raps about haters and the game, criticizing the scene for being artificial (which Kanye does as well throughout his oerve), and Rihanna's vocals underscore the theme of the track. On "Run This Town", she is hardened (or at least it seems that way, especially with her recent history looming in the background), but she has the courage of her convictions and does her thing. She's earned it. Her successes have proved that she is at the top of her game and can run with the big boys, that she does indeed "Run This Town".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Billboard Opening Up Their Website

Billboard is opening up their charts to everyone.

For chart junkies like me, this is great. No longer are we beholden to firewalls; now we can track songs as much as we like! Bwah!

Billboard is also going to spruce up their other online offerings (downloads, streaming, the like), and start a new chart based on user-generated ratings. This could be interesting, as it's possible we can see some funky outliers not represented on other charts. But it's been pretty well-established that top iTunes downloads mirror other top hits on the Hot 100, and even the Hot 200 Albums (though they do not necessarily reflect top singles). Most likely, the online buzz will be representative of things that are already out there--and the current listing bears that out. Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, and some American Idols are already all over the airways, and this mix--taken from any Top 20 currently played on the hit stations--is standard. Even the "breakaway" songs--from ads or soundtracks--quickly get swallowed up and become staples.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quick Hits

Maybe I should make this recurring…there are always songs I want to comment on:

Michael Jackson: I am not a fan. Never was. Weirdo, creep, you name it—get him away from me. I couldn’t understand the outpouring of affection, especially as to me, he had no relevance to my generation; I felt we were all pretty young, if alive at all, when he was big. I liked “Billie Jean” (but not the video); that was basically it. But, the week he died, I caught some of the videos, and I sat through them obligatorily. I knew I was the only one in the world who hated "Thriller" (yes, the video)…long, long, lots of boring dancing. I came away unchanged. Michael Jackson preferred dark alleys, menacing looks, bullies and confrontation in his videos, and they all were the same to me. He needed to move on, badly.

As superstars go, I am very clearly in Madonna’s camp: She has one hell of an exciting, cool life, she’s rich, not in debt, is not crazy or weird, has in fact a reputation for being a hard-ass, usually credited to her monstrous success, and has a career that is still intact. But in all the eulogies for Michael Jackson’s camp, they keep saying that he was the last superstar left, an argument that is complete bunk. Madonna is his direct competitor, and she most definitely outlasted him in pretty much every measurable way.

I will concede one thing, though. Nobody dances like Michael Jackson anymore. He’s the only one who can get away with high-water pants and white socks, and he’s the only one who glides (though he has to ruin it by jerking and touching his crotch).

3Oh!3: Dumb band name, but "Don't Trust Me" is a fun song (and fun video). I am always a fan of people who dress up and make it fun. I am very surprised that my friend at Art at the Auction didn’t rip the Colorado boys apart for their very sexist “Shush girl, shut your lips/Do the Helen Keller, and talk with your hips.” Horrible, but hilarious.

Flo Rida, Right Round”: The universal reaction: OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THIS SONG!!! Horror. Complete horror, but you listen. This is AWFUL. And SO FILTHY! How is this on the air?!?!? The next time: Oh, it’s that abominable remix. A travesty! Who in the world allowed Flo Rida to do this? Shock. The third time: Ugh, I’m not going to…hmm, it’s catchy. And then: OH MY GOD THIS IS GENIUS. Flo Rida is a GENIUS! Amazing! I love this song!!

Beyoncé, "Halo": Considering I’ve been pretty hard here on Beyoncé, I have to admit that she did take my advice and release “Halo”, a song that is male-positive, as she soaringly sings the praises of her baby. The video features lots of nuzzling by a ballerina Beyoncé and her light-eyed boy, but no, absolutely no, kissing…

…unlike Kelly Clarkson, who does in fact hook up despite the title of her second single off of All I Ever Wanted. I dislike “I Do Not Hook Up” because it’s one of those songs that girls use as an example; it’ll come on and several of them will find a girl who, in their mind, is the definition of the song and they will point at her, showing the rest of the world, that indeed, she does not hook up. This girl is usually single, and the songs are also usually about single women or opinionated women or independent women or women that need an declarative adjective before being announced. See “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” or other Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child songs.

Shinedown: I briefly considered “Second Chance” to be in the running for top song of the year, one of the big hits of the summer, but it peaked already. The video, despite being a basic story, continues to intrigue: I still love the casting of the parents and the daughter, but the young blonde boy? And, we will assume he is her much younger brother, because if he is her son (very possible in music video land), then well, escaping your seafaring Maine town is very irresponsible, and that is not the message of the song! The other central question: Who decided that the video should revolve around a fishmonger’s daughter?