Saturday, March 31, 2012

WGO: Mel's Top 10, New Releases, Chart Watch (4/7/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Top 40 Radio (US), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles & Albums Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) harts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

New Additions to the US Hot 100:
19. Taylor Swift - Eyes Open
"Eyes Open" is the second official Taylor Swift sngle from the soundtrack to The Hunger Games. It has more of a straight-ahead pop feel than previous material, and is very heavy-handed with the rock-esque drums. "Eyes Open" is the first of two new debuts from the soundtrack this week. The soundtrack itself is currently #1 on the US Albums chart. While I do think vocally Taylor really shines here, it sounds much more generic than the rest of her trademark singles and in that sense kind of forgettable.

68. Alex Clare - Too Close
A relative unknown here in the US, Clare's single "Too Close" was featured in a Microsoft commercial and two seconds later, it bounced here into the Hot 100. The song, along with the rest of Clare's debut album, The Lateness of the Hour, was produced by Robyn's go-to guy in Diplo, in collaboration with Switch (M.I.A., Santigold, Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)", Christina Aguilera's "Bionic"), and has slight dubsteppy undertones beneath Clare's soft, straight-ahead ballad feel. It's an immediate grower.

83. Maroon 5 - Come Away To The Water (feat. Rozzi Crane)
"Come Away To the Water" is the other Hunger Games feature. While it's great to hear new tunes from Adam Levine and the boys in Maroon 5 (you can only hear "Moves Like Jagger" so many times without getting sick of it, and I think I passed that threshold back in...say...December), this, like most of Maroon's ballad material, kind of left me wanting. The song is beautifully subtle and tender, don't get me wrong -- I guess I just prefer my Maroon "movin'."

92. Craig Morgan - This Ole Boy
My knowledge of country records is admittedly small -- it's just not my thing -- and this one is no different. Although it is notable to state that "This Ole Boy" is the lead single from Morgan's seventh album (since 2000!). I suppose that's all I have to say about that.

94. Shinedown - Bully
While I'm hardly Shinedown's biggest fan, I quite enjoyed their most commercially successful single, "Second Chance", back in 2008. Their most recent offering, "Bully", is the lead from their fourth album, Amaryllis, and was produced by Rob Cavallo (responsible for much of Green Day's mainstream material, David Cook's underappreciated debut, Adam Lambert's Queen-inspired "Music Again"...I could go on and on). In my opinion, it's their most commercially viable single since "Second Chance", and instantly singable and hooky without comprimising their hard rock sound. It has already topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.

99. Havana Brown - We Run the Night (feat. Pitbull)
Another day, another RedOne-influenced, Pitbull-assisted dance single (usually of the latino persuasian). Still, not hating it. Already a bonafide smash on the Billboard Dance Charts, "We Run the Night" is Australian pop artist Havana Brown's debut single. Folks on this side of the pond are quick to call her an overnight succss, but Havana has already toured in her home country as an DJ opener for the likes of Britney Spears and Rihanna so I suppose it was only a matter of time till she impacted here.

100. Drake - Crew Love (feat. The Weeknd)
Is it just me or is every song from Drake's sophomore record, Take Care, being serviced to some radio format? "Crew Love" features a fellow Canadian artist in the much-hyped The Weeknd (who also co-produces the song). Unfortunately for Drake, I find The Weeknd's contributions to the song much more compelling...

Mel's Current Top 10:
1. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
2. The Wanted - Glad You Came
3. SHINee - Stranger
4. Jay Saint - Boom Boom Vroom

5. EXO-K - History
6. SHINee - Sherlock (Clue + Note)
7. miss A - Lips

8. Bella Thorne - TTYLXOX
9. Skrillex - Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites
10. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

Upcoming Album Releases (US):
Florence + The Machine - MTV Unplugged
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday...Roman Reloaded
Of Monsters & Men - My Head Is An Animal
Rascal Flatts - Changed

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
3. The Wanted - Glad You Came
4. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)

5. Nicki Minaj - Starships
6. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
7. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
8. Katy Perry - Part Of Me
9. Drake - Take Care (feat. Rihanna)
10. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)

Thursday, March 29, 2012


And apparently they are so curious, cheeeeahhhhh.

SM Entertainment's reigning flagship five-piece boy band (yeah, that's the reality folks), SHINee have made their grand comeback to the music scene in Korea in full force. They've returned to their debut form a la "Love Like Oxygen" with a more grandiose, almost Motown-esque swing, over the more electro-infused epicness that was "Lucifer" or Auto-Tuned "Ring Ding Dong". In short -- it's kind of where polished SHINee shines (pun very much intended).

The EP, Sherlock, is seven tracks in length, which is rather long for an EP at first glance, until you realize it is is built around the single "Sherlock", which is allegedly a "mashup" of two songs that are included in the set in addition, dubbed "Clue" and "Note" respectively (playing into the whole 'Sherlock Holmes'-esque concept they are gunning for this time 'round -- complete with 19th century London-esque garb). In my opinion, the mashup idea is a bit superfluous, as "Clue" and"Note" don't really stand apart sonically, so fusing them together as "Sherlock" really should have been enough.

"Sherlock" the single is a fun one to be sure. While it lacks the instant gratification that "Lucifer" brought almost two years ago (can you believe it was that long?!), "Sherlock" is more heavy-handed without the fuzzy synth. However, "Sherlock" is one humdinger of a loud cut. It's one of those songs that sounds awesome turned up loud in your headphones, but you just know it'll be a breath-draining killer to be performed live (kind of like, say, Katy Perry's "Firework"), even by a strong and capable vocalist like SHINee's lead go-to, Jonghyun. When watching some of the the live performances, this much is very obvious as, while the boys manage to pull through it without looking too wilted, the chorus is clearly murder on the vocal chords.

Friday, March 23, 2012

WGO: Mel's Top 10, Upcoming Releases, Chart Watch (3/31/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Top 40 Radio (US), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles & Albums Charts (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) harts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Mel's Current Top 10:
1. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
2. fun. - Some Nights
3. The Wanted - Glad You Came
4. JoJo - Sexy To Me
5. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
6. SHINee - SHERLOCK (Clue+Note)
7. Big Time Rush - Elevate
8. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
9. The Saturdays - Move On U
10. Carrie Underwood - Good Girl
Four of these are boy bands, which, as I'm sure you'll agree, is a *sort of* boy band number. Well done, me.

Upcoming Album Releases (US):
All-American Rejects - Kids In the Street
Dev - Night the Sun Came Up
Lionel Richie - Tuskegee
Madonna - MDNA
Katy Perry - Teenage Dream: Complete Confection

New Additions to the Hot 100:
73. Rascal Flatts - Changed
74. Neon Trees - Everybody Talks
90. One Direction - One Thing
91. Eli Young Band - Even If It Breaks Your Heart
95. Young Jeezy - Leave You Alone (DEBUT)
98. Bella Thorne - TTYLXOX (DEBUT)

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
3. The Wanted - Glad You Came (STREAMING GAINER)
4. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
5. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
6. Nicki Minaj - Starships
7. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)
8. Drake - Take Care (feat. Rihanna)
9. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
10. Katy Perry - Part Of Me

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

COUNTRY CROONIN': Carrie's a "Good Girl"/Civil Wars break with "Barton Hollow"

Hey Good Girl
Get out while you can
I know you think you got a good man
Why, why you gotta be so blind?
Won't you open your eyes
Just a matter of time
Til you find
He's no good, girl
No good for you
You better get to gettin'
On your goodbye shoes and go
-"Good Girl", Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood's got a new single, and -- shock and awe -- it's about how a fella is no damn good (no good for you).

Did you feel that? Was it an earthquake? I know it seems unbelievable that Carrie would come out full guns blazing with a catchy, sing-along pop meets country jam putting the male species down for being a triflin' hounddog. (Can you sense my sarcasm?) "Good Girl" is good fun, but it's also essentially Part Two to her last uptempo pop radio single, "Cowboy Casanova", (which I also fell shamelessly for).

Let's face it -- Carrie's got a killer voice, a great look, and is the ideal country-popstar. She's strong, she's relatable, and she ain't afraid of telling you off. ("Before He Cheats", anyone?) She realizes she's got a winning formula with this. I don't blame her for following the phrase 'If it ain't broke....' "Good Girl" is the lead single from Carrie's upcoming fourth album, Blown Away, which is slated to explore darker themes -- so perhaps girlfriend is gunning for more "he's no good" gems?

PS - I want every single outfit she wears in this video. Seriously. Every single one.


Ain't going back to Barton Hollow
Devil gonna follow me where'er I go
Won't do me no good
Washing in the river
Can't no preacher man save my soul
-"Barton Hollow", The Civil Wars

I've got to say, I'm really liking this shift to more folk country breaking through into the mainstream! First with The Band Perry, and now with John Paul White & Joy Williams, the duo behind The Civil Wars, a Nashville-based outfit that broke through to the big time with their debut full-length LP Barton Hollow, released in early 2011. The album earned them a couple Grammys. The visibility led to a collab session with pop's resident country darling Taylor Swift on the Hot 100 charter "Safe & Sound", a soundtrack cut from the upcoming blockbuster film "The Hunger Games". The Civil Wars also have another song on the soundtrack (out today) called "Kingdom Come."

"Barton Hollow" is gorgeous for its simplicity, a perfect mixture of harmony guitars and White & Williams voices. It's not too country for the country-phobic, but it's hardly a pop record either. It's somewhere in between, opening with an ominous acapella harmony, seguing into heavy guitar strumming. The dark, Wild West-esque feel of the duo's harmony line is the most fascinating bit of the whole record. It walks the line between comfortable and spine-tinglingly uncomfortable, grabbing all of your attention.

Monday, March 19, 2012

WATCH THIS: Travis Garland makes John Mayer look good...

Excuse me, everyone, while I turn once again into a broken record, but -- why hasn't Travis Garland become a major star yet? Hmm? Are the Music Gods sleeping or something? BB has released his latest of a smattering of acoustic covers, this time round of arguably John Mayer's most beautiful ballad ever, "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room". Let the swooning commence.

Recorded in one shot full of warm fuzzy feeling-inducing falcetto and melismas galore (as that's just Trav's way). The guitar was provided by 'Dancing with the Stars' pro hunk dancer, Mark Ballas, who is another underappreciated musician on the side. His record HurtLoveBox is full of happy suprises -- trust.

Fallen for Trav's gorgeous pipes but don't know where to start? May I suggest his incredible mixtape Last Man Standing or perhaps the latest of his collaborations with the equally talented JoJo in "Paint".

Sunday, March 18, 2012

WGO: Mel's Top 10, New Releases, Chart Watch (3/24/12)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Top 40 Radio (US), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles Chart (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Mel's Current Top 10:
1. JoJo - Sexy To Me (LW: #6)
2. Stooshe - Love Me (feat. Travie McCoy) (LW: -)
3. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful (LW: #2)
4. Big Time Rush - Elevate (LW: -)
5. James Morrison - Slave To the Music (LW: -)
6. The Ting Tings - Hang It Up (LW: -)
7. Rye Rye - Boom Boom (LW: -)
8. Super Junior - Opera (LW: -)
9. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (LW: -)
10. fun. - Some Nights (LW: #1)

Upcoming Album Releases (US): (3/20)
Hunger Games (Soundtrack)
Melanie Fiona - The MF Life
Shake It Up: Live 2 Dance (Soundtrack)
The Shins - Port of Morrow

New Additions to the Hot 100:
42. John Mayer - Shadow Days
74. M83. - Midnight City
84. Karmin - Brokenhearted
96. Zac Brown Band - No Hurry
97. Trey Songz - Sex Ain't Better Than Love

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) (AIRPLAY + STREAMING GAINER)
2. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You...)
3. Adele - Set Fire To the Rain
4. The Wanted - Glad You Came
5. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
6. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)

7. Drake - Take Care (feat. Rihanna)
8. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild & Free (feat. Bruno Mars)
9. Nicki Minaj - Starships
10. Katy Perry - Part of Me

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

MIXTAPE: March Is A Lion...

There's a reason why I love March. While January and February tend to be "slower" months in the music industry, March tends to be when release schedules get back into full swing. Rather than miss out in extending the love, here's a smattering of what's been getting a ridiculous amount of replay on my Spotify recently...

K'NAAN - Is Anybody Out There? (feat. Nelly Furtado)
Music Video Here
Being at label ground zero for the promotional period of K'NAAN's Troubador record was easily my favorite part of my 2009 internship at A&M/Octone Records. He's truly an innovative, creative, musical soul. "Is Anybody Out There?" is the lead single from the More Beautiful Than Silence EP, released back in January as the hold over before his third record release in Country, God or the Girl. It pairs him with his friend (and fellow Canadian) Nelly Furtado, who really can do no wrong in my eyes, for the second time with beautiful results.

Usher - Climax
Music Video Here

The biggest male voice in Mainstream R&B continues to return to form, in a mega single produced by Diplo full of dreamy, suggestive falcetto. I think that just about says it all, right? I'm loving Usher's choice to dally with dancey producers. It's really serving him well while still suiting his own style.

The Ting Tings - Hang It Up
Music Video Here
It's been two years since we first heard "Hands", the supposed lead single from The Ting Tings' sophomore record. Fast forward to now and the duo have re-emerged with a more crunchy New Wave sound, that still feels reminiscent of previous hits like "That's Not My Name" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go". Still quirky, still petulant, still Ting Tings.

Rye Rye - Boom Boom
Listen Here
The pace of femme rapper Rye Rye's debut project is really upsetting, especially given how much airplay reign Nicki Minaj has at Mainstream Top 40. She follows up her excellent bow with Robyn via "Never Will Be Mine" with another sample-smuggler in "Boom Boom", which, you guessed it, samples the Venga Boys's 1999 #1 hit (in the UK, at least) "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!" (VengaBoys are back in town!) It's total cheesy fluff, but it feels good for nostalgia purposes alone.

Grimes - Oblivion
Music Video Here
Grimes is an indie Canadian electro do-it-all-yourself artist creating a lot of noise who reminds me of Goldfrapp, Oh Land, Lykke Li and Lights thrown in a blender. "Oblivion" is the first single from her third EP, Visions, out now.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
Music Video Here
File this one under "overnight sensations" here in the US (mostly thanks to "parody" video by Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez, amongst others). Jepsen placed third on Canadian Idol a few years back, and recently inked a deal internationally with Schoolboy Records, whose CEO is the Biebs' manager. Hurrah for synergy! Still, the song is super catchy and relatable, Carly is super adorbs, and introduces the world to model Holden Nowell, aka the hot guy in the video. *.*

James Morrison - Slave to the Music
Music Video Here
Oh, James Morrison. Oh. Oh. His velvety, husky, melismatic pipes are coupled with a swingin' sound that feels like something out of another era entirely. They just don't make jams like this in the Mainstream anymore, and what a sad fact that is. My only complaint is we barely get to see James jam out on the acoustic at all in the video. You're just gonna sing with it slung on your shoulder? Really?

Yuna - Live Your Life
Gorgeous Yuna (from Malaysia, produced by Pharell)  and her gorgeous pipes continue to amaze long after I first saw her live at the MTV Iggy Best New Bands Showcase a few months back. I'm loving the mellow vibe, and especially the subtle bongo drum-esque beatline.

Big Time Rush - Elevate
Lyric Video Here
Behold America's main contender in the burgeoning boy band brawl (ooh, alliteration!). Big Time Rush may have gotten their start as velveetalicious TV stars on Nick (seriously, I can't even sit through that show), but they've been cranking out some decent jams of late, especially this one, the title track from their sophomore album release. Honestly, it's a mix of One Direction and The Wanted's summer sound with America's current love affair with synthy club pop. So of course, I dig it unabashedly.

Jin Akanishi - Sun Burns Down
Music Video Here
The Japanese Justin Timberlake strikes again with his followup single to the dance hit "Test Drive" (featuring ch-AY-son Da-RULE-oh) with another synth jam, promising to "make love until the sun goes down". Zow.

Chiddy Bang - Manners (feat. Icona Pop)
Lyric Video Here

Combine the most hyped American rap duo who has a keen penchant for sampling quality underground (in America at least) electro with Sweden's hottest new electro-wizzlers, and Mel will always be a happy camper. Pretty much amazing doesn't even cover it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

HEAR THIS: JoJo Gets "Sexy"

The beat came on
The ground just shook
And it feels so good...
Wanna be mad? Well, OK-K
I'll be in the booth with the DJ
Free shots all around
It's my B-Day
Get a little He-He like MJ
-"Sexy To Me," JoJo

The process for Jumping Trains, JoJo's long awaited third record, remains to be painstakingly slow, but the second official single from the project, the dark "Sexy To Me" has officially launched at iTunes. Produced by Mr. Danja, "Sexy To Me" is one of the handful of demos that leaked recently that I immediately jumped on. The finished version is slightly different than the demo that leaked, decidedly more adult and perfect for the clubs with lyrics that are a bit more "me"-centric, as opposed to the more "you"-focused demo. Meet Adult JoJo: cool, calm, collected and sexy -- and the ultimate in strong role models for young women.

If you recall, I was a bit more psyched for "Lie to Me" than I was for "Sexy to Me", but given "Sexy"'s production tag of Danja, I'm not surprised its given a bit more leverage. Despite having a mainstream producer (while as "Lie" was produced by Da Internz, a little more under the radar), "Sexy" still sounds fresh out the club oven -- a unique piece of sex appeal that will fit in quite nice to the influx of dance-oriented singles currently dominating the market.

"Sexy" was released in tandem thanks to the folks at Clearasil at the end of February, but don't think this means first single "Disaster" is already Dead in the Water. The song is reportedly gunning for remix releases, also for the clubs. Jumping Trains is scheduled for release in April per Interscope Records.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

WGO: Mel's Top 10, New Releases,Chart Watch (3/17/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Top 40 Radio (US), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles Chart (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Mel's (Current*) Top 10:
1. fun. - Some Nights
2. One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
3. Chris Brown - Turn Up the Music
4. Neon Hitch - F*ck U Betta
5. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
6. JoJo - Sexy To Me
7. miss A - Lips
8. Carrie Underwood - Good Girl
9. Usher - Climax
10. miss A - Touch
*='Current' as in released recently or currently promoted

Upcoming Album Releases (US): (3/13)
One Direction - Up All Night (Columbia Records)
Ting Tings - Sounds From Nowheresville (Columbia Records)

New Additions to the Hot 100:
21. Far East Movement - Live My Life (feat. Justin Bieber) (DEBUT)
70. Nicki Minaj - Roman Reloaded (feat. Lil Wayne) (DEBUT)
79. Eric Church - Springsteen (DEBUT)
88. Travis Porter - Ayy Ladies (feat. Tyga) (DEBUT)
92. LoveRance - UP! (feat. IamSu & Skipper) (DEBUT)
94. Future - Magic (feat. T.I.) (DEBUT)
100. Estelle - Thank You (DEBUT)

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You...)
3. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
4. The Wanted - Glad You Came
5. Katy Perry - Part Of Me
6. Nicki Minaj - Starships
7. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild & Free (feat. Bruno Mars)
8. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)
9. Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra)
10. Rihanna - We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)

Friday, March 09, 2012


The boys in Benatton have just dropped the music video for their hype song "KickRocks", an unrelenting burst of bravado that comes much harder than their party material I first associated them with. The results are substantial, especially coming from an indie trio, offering up a video component complete with intense visual effects makeup (zombie and monster menagerie a-go-go, think a darker synth/rap version of "Thriller") that echoes the dark and more-than-a-little-bit ominous synth beat, sounding a bit like an ambulance wail chopped up and screwed. This one is not to be played with. Ring the alarm -- Benatton wants to be noticed, and quickly! Go get it, boys!

Check out the video below. Warning, not for the too faint of heart. ;) Hurrah for taking chances and creativity in a music market that is starting to stagnate when it comes to what's important. Team Benatton!

Because the boys are generous with their goods, you can download "KickRocks" for free here, along with several other ace party jams like "Can I Get a $5 Regular Please?" and their re-dub of Tyga's "Rack City" or LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" (the latter being my personal fave).

For more on Benatton, you can check out my review from when I first stumbled upon them and caught them live alongside Jay Saint, Flawless and my girl, Pastele, here.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Bizarre Inc is "Gonna Get You"

Yo DJ, pump this party!

Joining the Throwback Thursdays party is UK dance group Bizarre Inc, with their 1992 hit "I'm Gonna Get You", from their sophomore album Energique. The song went to #3 in the UK and topped the chart on the US Dance Charts. The group went on to release two more albums before splitting.

"I'm Gonna Get You" fits right into that 90's dance sound aesthetic which always sounds like a plan to yours truly. The song debuted the use of session singer Angie Brown to perform the now famous vocals -- during a time when using session singer without proper credit got some awesome people into a lot of trouble (::cough::C + C Music Factory::cough::). I was first introduced to it thanks to a cover, performed by a then pint-sized version of a popstar you've probably never heard of -- Britney Spears. Oh yeah. I went there. (To watch the full "Mickey Mouse Club" version, featuring Ms. Spears, along with Innosense/MTV's Awkward Nikki DeLoach, click here.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

HEAR THIS: Have Some Fun. "Some Nights"

"Why don't we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype
Save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked
But here they come again to jack my style
And that's alright...
What do I stand for?
What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know..."
-"Some Nights", fun.

It took time, due dilligence and requisite hard knocks but the NYC alt-rockers in fun. have finally earned their big break. Officially formed in 2008, the band released their debut album Aim and Ignite in 2009 and toured alongside Jack's Manniequn, Relient K and Paramore before officially signing with now notorious emo/alt label Fueled By Ramen Records (Paramore, Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship, Panic! At the Disco, and most infamously, the currently on pause Fall Out Boy). Their sophomore phase has arrived in a blur, thanks to Fueled By Ramen's wicked penchant for catchy alt pop, displayed in Some Nights, one of the best "rock"-esque pop offerings of the past few years. Lead single, "We Are Young," which features fellow underrated musician Janelle Monae, positively exploded overnight, appearing in several commercial advertisments and that coveted cover spot on Glee. This past week, it broke through to the #3 position on the Hot 100.

However, fun. is much more than a one-trick pony, and if "We Are Young" is starting to chafe your eardrums from overplay, fear not. Some Nights the album has lots of "hidden gems", but none stand out so poignantly than its title cut, which positively hits you over the head with its Queen-inspired, singalong bravado. It opens with an acapella harmony and vaugely gospel-esque feel before the beat drops out and lead singer Nate Ruess wails on the microphone.

The vocal comparisons to Freddie Mercury abound and are very well founded, in a good way. Clearly, Queen is a huge influence to the fun. boys, who have covered Queen in the past, including "Radio Gaga". In fact, the band is somewhat notorious for their "surprising" chose in live covers, ranging from Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" to Elton John's "Rocket Man" to Dexys Midnight Runners's "Come On Eileen". For fans of pop music in general, these guys totally live up to their name. Cheesy but true.

"Some Nights" to me is one of those songs that you barely get through a minute and a half before wanting to hit repeat. Listen to the cut here. A music video for "Some Nights Intro" is available here, leading me to believe one for "Some Nights" might also be coming down the pike shortly?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Big Bang is "Blue" / Miss A "Touch"es Me

A monster in the KPOP idol industry returns to the charts and a quartet of sophomore rookies prove they are worth their salt in this edition of NOW KPOPPING...

BIG BANG - "Blue"
The winter has passed and spring has come
We have withered and our hearts are bruised from longing
(I'm singing my blues)
Used to the blue tears, blue sorrow
(I'm singing my blues)
The love that I have sent away with the floating clouds

B-I-G to the BANG is back on the KPOP scene with a surprising bow via their fifth EP release in ALIVE, following up last year's fantastic TONIGHT. The "lead" single is titled "Blue" (in quotes because the group will be promoting several different songs from the project across their promotional period, rather than only featuring one -- a mentality that it seems only YG Entertainment can do truly successfully) and recently debuted at #1 on the Billboard KPOP Chart and the Korean Gaon Chart. The video was filmed here in New York City.

"Blue," a breakup swooner, showcases a softer side to their party-time bad boy image I so often associate them with. My emotions are torn because I count on Big Bang to create a floor stomper (they are the big brother band to my girls in 2NE1, after all). Still, the subtlety applied in "Blue" is aptly chosen and chosen well.

To just label it as a ballad would be a total misnomer -- its one of those midtempos that are pushed along by a steady, toe-tapping beat (and G-Dragon/TOP's requisite, albeit mellowed-out, rhyme lines). Tte result is very enjoyable lament, relatively unassuming and yet powerful in execution. It's hard not to be impressed by how effortlessly Big Bang can pull off any number of genres and have it still sound inheriently Big Bang.


MISS A - "Touch"
My closed heart cannot love anyone
I believed so my heart is opening before I realized
My hardened heart cannot be thrilled again
I believed so but my heart pounds everytime I see you
You touched my heart, baby (touch touch)
You touched my heart, baby (touch touch)
You touched my heart with your soft hands (touch)

Quartet miss A, the most recent off the JYP (Wonder Girls, 2PM, 2AM) assembly line, have taught me that while the KPOP Idol World can at times be completely predictable and somewhat derivative, that doesn't mean a group can't surprise you effectively. Enter their latest release, "Touch", from their third EP of the same name.

While I originally wrote off miss A for being a petulant younger sister to the already petulant 4minute (case in point: "Bad Girl, Good Girl" or "Breathe"), they had to go and make me eat my words with the English dancey single "Love Alone" and their 2011 big hit, the retro-esque "Goodbye Baby". "Touch" continues the retro feel (which is all the rage at the 'mo in Korea...well, it's kind of always the rage in Korea) coupled with a thematic horror feel (again, another fad in Korea, especially with girl groups - see T-Ara's "Lovey Dovey", Brown Eyed Girls' 'Sixth Sense'/Narsha's solo project, etc. etc.). While I do long for an original stance from a girl group with the power to pull it off (and miss A might just have the chops), "Touch" is an enjoyable fusion of that subtle darkness without feeling like a temporary costume change until a new "concept" is ushered in for the next single.

"Touch" feels relatively organic and refreshingly sophisticated for the fashion-forward group, with the lush melody mixed with a harsher synth backdrop. A slightly harder dancey remix would be appreciated, but even still, "Touch" does the job to help further perpetuate miss A's staying power in the crowed KPOP marketplace. To be completely honest, I think "Touch" might be the weakest cut on the Touch EP, and that's really saying something.

Side Note: I'm a bit surprised the album cut "Lips" was given to miss A over their big sisters in the Wonder Girls. The ditty mixes elements of dancefloor and dubstep with a slight salsa swing and was produced by American producer Fuego (who recently gave us Chris Brown's "Turn Up the Music" -- in fact, it sounds quite a lot like it), and was co-written by one of my favorite slept-on soloists, Nikki Flores. Hey JYP, if you want an English cut for miss A for US release, this one is it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

HEAR THIS: One Direction is "Beautiful"

"When you smile at the ground, it ain't hard to tell
You don't don't know you're beautiful
If only you saw what I could see
You'll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't don't know you're beautiful
That's what makes you beautiful"
-"What Makes You Beautiful", One Direction

Well, 2012, bravo. You're officially carving yourself out to be the year that heralds the Return of the Boy Band to the pop music ether in America, and for that I couldn't be more grateful.

While the US inevitably scambles to put together a popalicious concoction of genially handsome boys singing cute songs that hit line-and-sinker to the heart of the everygirl (paging Big Time Rush to Stage 2, please), UK seems to have that ish on lock (and they have accents, to boot!). This week, the babes in The Wanted soared up to the Top 5 on the Hot 100 with their US debut "Glad You Came," a feat not even Canada's national treasure in Justin Bieber could do (and to this day, despite his omnicience, he only has one Top 5 hit to his name in the US in 2010's "Baby"). And already, yet another Brit boy band is starting to make moves to get the hearts pumping of American tweens (and um...not so tween..unless you could me as "tween" 24 and 25) -- One Direction.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

BACK IN THE DAY: Kylie Minogue "Love At First Sight"

My illness taking me out of commision forced me to miss an important anniversary that I purposely didn't want to miss. Allow me to offer this belated Happy Anniversary message to the Queen of Pop/Dance, Ms. Kylie Minogue, as her landmark album Fever recently celebrated it's ten year anniversary in the US last week.

Fever is an important piece of pop to me, mostly because it was my real introduction to Kylie via the jugguernaut that is/was/will always be "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". It was new-age Kylie's first big hit in the US and would remain to be one of her most commercially viable singles. Rather than take the easy way out, however, and celebrate the epicness that is "Head", I'd rather instead shine the spotlight on Fever's other big gem in follow-up single "Love At First Sight" -- which I count in my Top 3 of my Favorite Kylie Tracks of All Time (the others being "Aphrodite" and "Red Blooded Woman").

Man, if that doesn't make you want to dance around your bedroom in cargo pants and teal eyeshadow, I don't know what will.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

WGO: Chart Watch (3/10/2012)

Below denotes songs and artists of note featured on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA), Hot Dance/Club Play (USA), Heatseekers Singles Chart (USA), UK Hot (UK), Japan and KPOP (South Korea) Charts. Italicized items have been discussed on Melismatic.

Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart:
1. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You...) (AIRPLAY GAINER)
2. Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
3. fun. - We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
4. Katy Perry - Part of Me
5. The Wanted - Glad You Came (DIGITAL GAINER)
6. Rihanna - We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris)

7. Flo Rida - Good Feeling
8. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)
9. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild & Free (feat. Bruno Mars)
10. Nicki Minaj - Starships

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