A couple weeks ago I filmed an interview for Russian TV’s “Truthseeker” series. First time I have ever used Skype for an interview—how cool! Not as cool… the fact that I kept on my reading glasses for the shoot. Yikes, almighty! I come in just after the eight-minute mark. Enjoy!
Our monthly look at magazine covers around the world reveals somewhat slim pickings for the beginning of fall 2012… Where are all the sexy guys? We do have David Beckham on Europe’s Esquire, but really, can’t we do better… while Colin Farrell—looking a bit overly airbrushed—casts an odd expression on Men’s Health overseas (also appearing on Details). Adele continues to dazzle on Rolling Stone. And Brazil’s edition of Billboard offers a fun mash-up of Lady Gaga and Madonna. On the cover of Elle, Britney Spears has never looked more comely.
The celeb that appears on more covers this month than any other: Blake Lively, who begins a new season of Gossip Girl, in addition to her recent nuptials with perpetually gorgeous Ryan Reynolds. Daniel Craig is runner-up, as promotional wheels start turning for upcoming bond flick Skyfall (whose kickass new theme is sung by Adele).
Looking ahead, here’s hoping that as the WB’s Arrow gains traction, we’ll be seeing Stephen Amell begin to grace covers of Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness… and The Smoking Nun’s roster of candidates for 2012’s Sexiest Men Alive.
Madonna’s new single. “Turn Up the Radio.” Lame. Goes nowhere. She squeaks. Wholly forgettable. See here for yourself. The video’s cute: Madonna in car trying to escape paparazzi, starts picking up strangers & cruising down the road. She looks quite good. All the same, put on some pants, lady. But the song. Empty. Devoid of anything more than a single loop. G’bye, career. Should have stayed in the 80s. Not worth writing any more than… this. *
As expected, Carrie Underwood has “Blown Away” the competition, as her fourth album launches atop the Billboard 200, and the Country and Digital album charts this week. This marks the second best sales week for any 2012 debut so far: With sales of 267K , Carrie comes in behind Madonna’s LiveNation-assisted “MDNA,” which opened with 358K.
Fun factoids: “Blown Away” is the third chart-topping album for five-time Grammy winner Underwood, alongside 2007’s “Carnival Ride” and 2009’s “Play On.” She is only the third female to score three No. 1 country albums, with Linda Ronstadt and Faith Hill.
All of Underwood’s albums have launched at No. 1 on Country, making her the second act—with Miranda Lambert—to achieve the feat with their first four sets.
Among the top 10 albums this week, six are new, including a surprisingly high runner-up bow for Norah Jones’ “Little Broken Hearts,” which hasn’t fostered a single note of radio airplay. Mind you, her fifth album’s debut sales week is also the humblest since “Come Away With Me” launched pre-Grammys in 2002. The “Now 42” hits compilation enters the fray at No. 3, meaning that the top three are all fresh meat on the chart.
That puts Adele’s “21” at No. 4, the first time it has slipped as far since mid-December 2011, although in its 63 chart weeks, it has never departed the top 10. Back to the new: B.o.B’s sophomore “Strange Clouds,” launches at No. 5, following the No. 1 debut of 2010’s “The Adventures of Bobby Ray.” Lionel Richie’s former chart-topping “Tuskegee” edges 3-6 (down 18%), Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” tumbles 1-7 (down 60%) and One Direction’s “Up All Night” falls 4-8 (down 10%).
Nos. 9 and 10 on the Billboard 200 are also new: the soundtrack to NBC’s hit musical series “Smash”; and Marilyn Manson’s “Born Villain,” his seventh top 10 album.
One backward glance here: Richie’s “Tuskegee” is thus far 2012’s biggest-selling new album, with 679K copies, ahead of “Now 41,” with 658K. The only two sets to move more are previous-year releases: Adele’s 2011 “21” (3.2M) and Whitney Houston’s 2000 “Whitney: The Greatest Hits” (765K this year).
One notch below the top 10, “The Avengers: Assemble” soundtrack debuts at No. 11, featuring new songs from Soundgarden, Scott Weiland, Evanescence and Shinedown. And not surprisingly, seven Beastie Boys albums return to the Billboard 200 following group member Adam “MCA” Yauch’s death last week. Leading is 1986 debut “Licensed To Ill,” at No. 18, which also captures the Top Catalog Albums top spot.
And speaking of veteran acts: Two whose latest albums launched at No. 1 earlier this year are suffering in silence. First, Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball,” after only nine weeks, is buried at No. 53. He hasn’t been close to the top 10 singles in 15 years, when “Secret Garden” reached No. 19.
Likewise, Madonna has tanked with her much-hyped “MDNA,” which fares even more poorly: After only six weeks, it’s at No. 65 on the Billboard 200. First single “Give Me All Your Luvin’” grazed the top 10, while follow-up “Girl Gone Wild,” a No. 1 Dance Club Song, never reached the Hot 100.
Let’s get happy again: On the singles side this week, Belgian/Aussie solo artist Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” not only remains at No. 1 on the Hot 100 (with Top Airplay Gainer honors) for a fourth week, but is tops on the Digital Songs, On-Demand, Alternative (10 weeks), Dance/Club Play and Dance/Mix Show Airplay charts. It rises 3-2 on the all-format Radio Songs.
The track has reached No. 1 in more than a dozen countries, including eight weeks in Australia (where Gotye has won five Aria awards) and five in the U.K. With his continued dominance, it’s time we all learned how to correctly pronounce the 31-year-old musician and singer/songwriter’s name: “Gauthier.” So now you know.
That’s the biggest news among the Hot 100’s top 5, as fun.’s “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, holds at No. 2 for a fourth week; and Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, remains at No. 3, where it debuted two weeks ago. The latter roars up Radio Songs 19-11, with a 19% increase in all-format airplay, and holds at No. 2 on Digital Songs sales, reaching 1 million downloads this week. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” moves 5-4; and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones,” featuring Sia, inches 6-5.
Elsewhere, there are no major shake-ups in the top 10: The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” moves 4-6; Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” 8-7; Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” 7-8; One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” 9- 9; and, Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” 10-10. In fact, the highest debut on the Hot 100 is B.o.B’s oddball collaboration with Taylor Swift, “Both of Us,” launching at No. 18.
Next week: Few new high-profile albums are coming out in May, so for Mother’s Day, Adele could capture the album lead again, although Carrie Underwood is just as appealing to the Mommy crowd.
L.A.-based alternative Silversun Pickups’ third album “Neck Of The Woods” will likely be next week’s highest new debut. Keane’s “Strangeland” and Tank’s “This Is How I Feel” are also due. The following week perhaps looks more promising, with new sets from Adam Lambert, Garbage and Santana. *
(Originally written for Radio-Info.com)
Pop group Maroon 5 rings up a download record this week with new single “Payphone,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, which moves a walloping 493,000 downloads in week one. That is the most singles ever sold by a group or duo in one week—and also good for a No.1 launch on Digital Songs. It marks the eighth-best sales week for any single since Nielsen SoundScan began tallying downloads in 2003.
The preview track from Maroon 5’s fourth studio album, “Overexposed,” on June 26, also dials in a No. 3 debut on the Hot 100, making it the group’s fifth top 10 hit, a worthy contender to previous No. 1 “Moves Like Jagger,” with Christina Aguilera. It’s making big noise on the airwaves, too, entering Radio Songs at No. 36, with 33 million first-week audience impressions. Fueling the strong chart action for “Payphone” is a performance of the song April 16 on NBC’s “The Voice” (where Maroon 5 lead Adam Levine is a coach).
Meanwhile, leading the Hot 100 for a second week is Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” featuring Kimbra. It is the Hot 100’s top Airplay Gainer, up 8-6 on Radio Songs, and tops both the Streaming and On-Demand charts. Fun.’s “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, holds at No. 2 for a second week after its previous six weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100. It leads Radio Songs for a second week.
Below “Payphone” at No. 3, Justin Bieber, rebounds 5-4 on the Hot 100 in its fourth week, with “Boyfriend,” which is tops as the week’s Streaming Gainer, rising 10-6 on On-Demand Songs. It escalates 15-13 on Radio Songs, despite a slight 2% drop in airplay.
The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” rounds out the Hot 100’s top five, easing 3-5. Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones,” featuring Sia, is stable at No. 6; and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” rises to a new peak of No. 7 (while spending a third week at No. 1 in the U.K.); One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” falls 4-8; Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” dips 7-9; and, Kelly Clarkson’s three-week No. 1 “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” slides 9-10.
On the long-play side of this week’s chart action, it appears the South has indeed risen again. For the second week, “Tuskegee” by Lionel Richie commands the summit of the Billboard 200, moving 114,000 copies, down a mere 11% from the previous week. This is the first album released in 2012 to claim a second week at the top of the album chart—something Madonna and Bruce Springsteen couldn’t manage. The duets collection, which pairs Richie with Nashville musical royalty, also spends a third frame at No. 1 on Top Country Albums.
Richie’s lead keeps pop vet Jason Mraz from an expected No. 1 debut, as his “Love Is a Four Letter Word” opens at 2 on the Billboard 200, with sales of 102,000—still his highest rank ever, following 2008’s No. 3 “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.” It’s also his third consecutive top 5 album, alongside 2005’s “Mr. A-Z.” Mraz is also in the top 40 with single “I Won’t Give Up,” which rebounds to No. 36, up from 49, in its 16th week, after peaking at No. 8. One caveat: Mraz is No.1 on the Rock Albums chart.
Adele dips from 2 to 3 on the Billboard 200, as “21” continues to wipe out previous chart records. Paul Grein’s Yahoo! Music “Chart Watch” column notes that the set is the first to log 61 weeks in the top 10 since Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You,” from March 1996 to June 1997. As well, when “21” merits one more week in the top 10, it will be the longest-running top 10 album since Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” which spent 72 weeks in the top 10 from August 1995 to January 1997. Note that all three won Grammys as Album of the Year. And in the U.K., “21” tallies a 23rd week at No. 1, the same number of weeks it has topped the U.S. chart.
Moving along, Train tracks its first-ever top 5 album (and fourth top 10) with the No. 4 debut of “California 37”; One Direction’s former No. 1 “Up All Night” holds at. 5; Nicki Minaj’s previous No. 1 “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” falls 3-6 (while topping both R&B/Hip Hop and Rap Albums); Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” holds at No. 7; rapper Future launches at 8 with debut studio collection “Pluto”; Bonnie Raitt’s “Slipstream” eases 6-9; and Luke Bryan’s “Tailgates & Tanlines” returns to the top 10 for the first time since September, up from No. 13, in its 37th chart week.
Coming up: Jack White’s solo debut “Blunderbuss” is sniffing a chart-topping debut on next week’s Billboard 200. And following that, look for a chart hurricane the next week as Carrie Underwood’s fourth album “Blown Away,” released May 1, tallies first-week sales. Other big releases in the coming month: May 1: B.o.B, Marilyn Manson, Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright, “Smash” soundtrack. May 8: Barenaked Ladies, Keane, “Liza Minnelli Live At Winter Garden.” May 15: Adam Lambert, Garbage, Tenacious D. May 22: Joey Ramone, John Mayer, Kris Allen, Slash, The Cult. May 29: Regina Spektor.
And finally a sentimental send-off to the legendary Dick Clark, who died Wednesday at the age of 82. He brought the biggest hits into America’s households for so many years as host of “American Bandstand,” allowing me to see the personalities behind so many ‘70s and ‘80s favorites. I had the pleasure of working with Dick when he hosted the 1998 Billboard Radio Awards in Phoenix. As Radio Editor at Billboard, I actually wrote a script for him and worked with him on flow and the pronunciation of names… humbling, huh? He could not have been kinder, more gracious and, of course, a total pro—and sent a signed thank you letter after the fact It hangs in my office to this day. R.I.P. *
This column originally appeared on Radio-Info.com here.
As if it weren’t momentous enough when Lionel Richie debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 two weeks ago—30 years after his first solo album charted—the long-lived singer/songwriter has now done one better. This week, his country duets album “Tuskegee” rises to No. 1 on the album chart. The collection has also topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Country Albums charts.
Helping fuel its dominance is Richie’s April 13 CBS special “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie & Friends in Concert,” which included performances by and with Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Marc Anthony, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum and others. The show attracted 7.7 million viewers, while “Tuskegee” sold 129,000 copies in its third week, up 35%, following first and second week sales of 294,000. This is his third No. 1 album, following 1986’s “Dancing on the Ceiling”—25 years ago(!)—and 1983’s “Can’t Slow Down.”
At No. 2 on the Billboard 200 is Adele with “21” (who, mind you, was not born when Richie was in his heyday), its 60th week in the top 10. It returns to No. 1 in the U.K. for a 22nd week, with 23 total weeks at the chart summit in the States. Paul Grein notes in his Yahoo! Chart Watch column that only one other album in history has logged 20 or more weeks at No. 1 in both countries: the 1958 soundtrack to the movie version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” which spent 115 weeks at the U.K. summit and 31 in the U.S.
The No. 3 album is last week’s chart-topping “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” from very credible artist Nicki Minaj, with a gargantuan 68% decline; while the highest debut is Monica’s “New Life” at No. 4, her fifth consecutive top 5 LP. The soul singer’s first hit album was 1995’s“Miss Thang,” making Monica somewhat of a veteran, as well, with 17 years of success.
Elsewhere among the top 10 albums, former No. 1 “Up All Night” from Brit boy band One Direction holds at No. 5, while Bonnie Raitt seemingly comes out of nowhere for a No. 6 debut with “Slipstream.” Gotye‘s “Making Mirrors” returns to the top 10, plumping 15-7 following a “Saturday Night Live” performance April 14; Alabama Shakes is No. 8 with “Boys & Girls”; “Changed” from Rascal Flatts is No. 9; and rapper/singer-songwriter Hoodie Allen’s debut EP “All American” bows at No. 10.
On the singles side, Goyte featuring Kimbra brings us a new No. 1 with rocker “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which sold 542,000 digital downloads—the largest one-week tally so far this year—and also tops the new On-Demand Songs chart. “Know,” which has spent 15 weeks on the Hot 100, was energized by both the act’s SNL appearance and the song’s exposure on “Glee” April 10.
“We Are Young” by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, finally slips to No. 2 on the Billboard 100 after six weeks at the top—although it remains tops at radio for the second week, ranked No. 1 on Hot 100 Airplay. Next in line: 3: The Wanted, “Glad You Came” 4. One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful” 5: Justin Bieber, “Boyfriend” 6: Flo Rida featuring Sia, “Wild Ones” 7: Nicki Minaj, “Starships” 8: Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe” 9: Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and 10: Katy Perry, “Part Of Me.”
Notably, Madonna’s 12th studio album “MDNA,” which launched at No. 1 three weeks ago, is falling fast, down to No. 8 last week and No. 18 this week. This likely has much to do with the set failing to propel a sticky single at radio. “Give Me All Your Luvin’” reached the top 10, but faded within a month, while follow-up “Girl Gone Wild” peaked at a tepid No. 38 on Pop Songs, without debuting on the Hot 100. “Turn Up the Radio” has already been designated as a hastily released third single…
Here’s a chart stat that might make musicologists wince: The cast of Fox’s “Glee” ups its total tally of charted songs on the Billboard Hot 100 to a staggering 200 titles—all in less than three years. The cast first appeared on the Hot 100 June 6, 2009, with a No. 4 cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” This week, it adds two more to the stack, for an even 200: a re-rub of Gotye’s No. 1 Hot 100 “Somebody That I Used to Know” and a mash-up of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio.”
The 200 charted “Glee” hits represents almost twice as many as next-in-line Elvis Presley (108), while the teen-targeted musical series also trumps appearances by Lil Wayne, James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Jay-Z, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. Billboard magazine notes that despite the notable tally, only 33 of “Glee’s” 200 “Glee” entries spent more than a single week on Hot 100.
Next week: *Look for a lofty launch for Jason Mraz’s mellow, relationship-based “Love Is A Four Letter Word.” * “California 37” by Train will likely railroad its way to a top 5 debut, previewed by the single “Drive By.” * Jazz trumpeter Chris Botti issues his 14th album, “Impressions.” * (This post original appeared on Radio-Info.com)