Each week, dozens of songs and albums from up-and-coming (or just plain unknown) bands debut on the world’s music charts. Some of these bands will never be heard from again; some may become the next little thing. That’s why we have Chuck Eddy exploring the world beyond the Billboard 200, where he’ll look for diamonds in the MySpace rough. This week out, he tackles new R & B, a few rock bands whose names seem like word jumbles, someone from the most recent season of The Real World, and a singer who dreams of winning the lottery while wearing a backwards baseball cap.
If you google “Steal My Show” by Q–a track that briefly flickered onto the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 100 last week–you get a couple of links for “Steal My Show” by Q Parker, then a few more links for “Steal My Show” by Q Amey. Tragically, neither of these Q’s is the one-letter band from Beaver Falls, Pa., that hit the Top 30 in 1977 with their rock-disco one-shot “Dancin’ Man”; two members of that quartet had previously played in the Jaggerz (of “The Rapper” fame) with Donnie Iris (of “Ah! Leah!” fame), but those were different times. This time, the Q in question is apparently Chris Hicks-discovered, Atlanta r&b rookie Q Amey, who also has a co-songwriting credit on “Last Time” by Trey Songz, this week’s No. 15 R&B/Hip-Hop track. Like the Q of three decades ago, he’s supposedly not tied to just one genre: “He mixes ‘everything possible,’ including hip-hop, country, rock and R&B,” claims his MySpace, though the songs on the page–the Bryan-Michael Cox-produced single, for instance, and the somewhat less subtle “Are We Gone Fuck”–contain no discernible rock or country elements. As for Q Parker, he is apparently a member of R & B foursome 112 and also from Atlanta–and his album, due out in September, is said to be produced by Cox as well. Some Web sites are even attributing “Steal My Show” to him, so who knows what to believe. But the title is not on his MySpace. Either way, the old “Dancin’ Man” Q kicks both new Q’s butts.
More R & B, this time from Jersey–a guy with a girl’s name, and a girlish falsetto that he pulls off well. Wish he employed it more. “Professional” enters R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at No. 98 this week. Rhythm is watered-down reggae, in the Sean Kingston sense. Steff tells a lady he can make her his wifey for lifey, and he’s suckin’ on her neck like it’s an icey; he seems respectful enough, but never lets on what her “profession” is. His more frantic “Put That On Everything,” also on his MySpace, has crazy space-synth explosions and a percussive bang both reminiscent of early Trouble Funk. Cool! He sings “Happy Birthday” real purty in an embedded video, too. Lots of girls on his page apparently saw him at Six Flags in Chicago. He’s a love rollercoaster. Step right up and get your tickets.
Two “Rock/Electronica/Thrash” dimwits already bundled up for a Boulder, Colo., winter, somehow popular enough (apparently thanks to Warped Touring) to leapfrog the entire Heatseekers chart and enter the Billboard 200 at No. 89 last week with their album Want; a week later, it’s at No. 158. “Lil Jon Beatz and Dylan Rapz,” they self-describe elsewhere. “We call it Lil Dylan.” So how come they sound more like Fred Durst with a synth player? Lyrics focus on girls with trust funds back east, and tongues between girls’teeth, and “nice legs, daisy Dukes,” “low cut, see through,” “tight jeans, double Ds,” etc. “Tell your boyfriend if he says he’s got beef that I’m a vegetarian and I ain’t fuckin’ scared of him.” Gawd. Fans on MySpace rave about “bomb as fuck dance moves you do on stage.” Non-fans on YouTube claim “these dudes suck sooo bad is this for real i wanna beat the shit out of these dudes wtf.” Take your pick. Jess on MySpace asks: “Wassup with the Mason symbol tho?”
Wassup with rock bands (or, at least, bands with rock audiences) still claiming they play “electronica,” anyway? Wasn’t that word retired, like, a decade ago? Anyway, here’s another one, from Santa Cruz–apparently jam-band-identified, given fans namedropping Umphrey’s McGee on their MySpace. (Actually, I also just noticed that STS9 stands for Sound Tribe Sector 9, who, yeah, have been doing the jamtronica thang for a while now. Plus, Wikipedia helpfully informs us, “STS9 is also known for their affiliation with the Mayan Calendar and The Law of Time”!) Their album Peaceblaster just spent seven days on Heatseekers last week, at No. 27. Their MySpace tracks, predominantly and quite possibly exclusively instrumental, are just… doodly. Not exactly jazzy, not exactly funky, not exactly new-agey, but with half a toenail in each camp. And though fusing rave swill with hippie-rock swill must rank among the dumbest brainstorms in the history of modern music (talk about taking clumsy dancing to a whole new level), this stuff still sounds halfway pleasant in the background–a couple of patches even vaguely recall Engima’s less Gregorian stuff. No personality to speak of, though; hard to figure out why anybody would shell out money for it. Still, I suppose we should be thankful that “STS9 has developed peaceblaster.com, an informational Web site where fans will find copies of the Bill of Rights, speeches by Dwight Eisenhower and Martin Luther King, and links to alternative media outlets.” About time Ike became a countercultural hero!
So does it still indicate a rabid local following when dime-a-dozen bands that nobody over the age of 25 ever heard of from third-tier markets like Boulder (like 3Oh!3) or Lexington (like Emarosa) enter the charts out of nowhere? Just curious. Last week, Emarosa’s Relativity checked in at No. 15 on Heatseekers and 191 on the Billboard 200; this week, it slips to No. 33 on the former. Either way, the band is playing Pontiac, Mich., and Joplin, Mo., and Evansville, Ind., and Syracuse this month, so their third-tier-market appeal may be broadening. Their screamo is perhaps a pinch proggier and more dramatic than the complaint-rock norm, thanks to a singer named Jonny Craig with a decent range. But I have no idea what’s supposed to make them “experimental,” unless maybe having two guitarists and a keyboard player is considered radical these days.
Brianna’s self-titled “debut EP available on iTunes” entered Heatseekers at No. 46 last week and climbs to No. 34 this week, which kind of seems like cheating, seeing how it’s digital-only and not a whole album, but hey, I don’t make the rules. Seems her key to the kingdom was “appearing on The Real World (Hollywood), on which she is a sought-after housemate”–honest, that’s the most interesting thing her MySpace bio could come up with, even though it also insists that “controversy seems to follow the 20-year-old Philadelphia native around wherever she goes.” Uh, maybe everybody just wants a controversial housemate? Either way, that’s definitely a higher chart debut than Rebecca Blasband, another highly controversial native Philadelphian who starred on The Real World, managed with her Mercury debut in 1996. No wonder everybody wants to live with her! Brianna’s “early favorites–Natalie Cole, Anita Baker, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Judy Garland, Lena Horne–laid the groundwork for her singing style,” we’re told. And now, naturally, she admires Amy Winehouse. None of which explains why the least dull song on her page by far, “Tragic,” is the one that sounds like ’80s Benatar-style pop-rock rather than “soulful” ballad snooze. “Summertime,” in contrast, ranks with the least summery songs given that title you will ever hear.
“One day I stopped to pee, got some gas, and won the lottery,” this South Carolinan’s hit says. Now, his “trailer park’s full of Cadillacs,” and he watches “NASCAR on a 60-inch plasma screen.” The song, “Upper Middle Class White Trash,” sits at No. 15 on Hot Singles Sales after debuting at No. 7 last week; it’s also at No. 49 on Hot Country Songs after five weeks. Not as ingenious a concept as its title makes you hope–Toby Keith had an album called White Trash With Money two years ago, after all. But it’s also not the only notable number on Lee’s MySpace; “Sumter County Friday Night” and “Carolina Boys” are even sorta funky, in a swamp-rock way, and the one about the girl who follows some musician she met from Myrtle Beach to L.A. has a sweet tune. Plus, according to a YouTube commenter named Rishnai, “Upper Middle Class White Trash” is about real life: “Dang, that’s just about described my cousin! He stopped to take a leak and fill up his truck and hit a $4.5 million jackpot on the quick pick. And that’s about what the family did, ‘cept Danny keeps frogs in his pool, not a bass.” Now if only Lee didn’t insist on always wearing his baseball cap backwards.