Beach-loving troubadour Kenny Chesney, American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, and pop darling Taylor Swift have already nabbed multiple nominations for this year’s CMA Awards, despite the Country Music Association only announcing five categories as they trickle out the nominees over two time slots on two networks. (Five categories were announced by nominees Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack on Good Morning America; the remainder of the categories will be announced on CMT in the 10 a.m. ET hour. Hey, something has to make news on International Beatles Day, right?) The biggest prize of the night—Entertainer Of The Year—will be a contest between Swift, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and Chesney, who’s nabbed the trophy four times already. Also, Jack White is probably verystoked, since the Raconteurs’ collaboration with Ricky Skaggs and Austin Monroe, “Old Enough,” got a Music Event Of The Year nod. The full list of nominees so far after the jump. More »
The charts are in a bit of a Dog Days slumber, so let’s try a little trivia: What’s the most oft-recurring word on Billboard‘s Hot 100 over the last decade? I’m thinking of a word that appeared virtually never prior to, say, 1990 and eventually became ubiquitous. “Remix”? “Tha”/“Da”? “Dre”? “T-Pain”?
No, the most common word on the chart, pretty much every week, is “Featuring.”
This week, for example, 16 songs with “featuring” credits are on the Hot 100—17 if you count a “duet with” credit on Keyshia Cole’s latest single with Monica. (But then it goes back down to 16 if you exclude the craven Pussycat Dolls single “featuring” existing lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, a la Diana Ross in ’67 or George Michael in ’85.)
A dozen of these tracks, unsurprisingly, come from the worlds of R&B and hip-hop – genres where the team-up is standard operating procedure for both emerging acts (Drake, Kid Cudi) and veterans (T.I., Mary J. Blige). On this week’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “featuring” appears no less than 37 times.
Back on the Hot 100, three of this week’s “featurers” are in the Top 10, and two are brand-new to the winners’ circle. Examining just these three tracks, you get a sense of the power of the featured-artist credit. Simply put, in pop music, there are friends, and there are friends. All three of these singles benefit to some degree from the name(s) to the right of the magic word. More »
Darius Rucker is apparently out to prove that there is life after being a soft-rock staple/punchline: His country crossover is continuing apace, and he recently notched a second chart-topper on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs. And this weekend, the works of his pre-Nashville band, Hootie and the Blowfish, will serve as the inspiration for a jukebox ballet going up in Columbia, S.C. “I wanted to celebrate one of the positive success stories that has come out of South Carolina,” Columbia City Ballet artistic director William Starrett said of The Hootie & The Blowfish Ballet. And I wanted a story that read like an April Fool’s Day joke but was actually real! Everybody wins!
Obviously, we need to talk about the new song that takes over the top of Billboard‘s Hot 100, and the mind-blowing record it sets.
But before we do that, let’s talk about Hilary Swank.
I find Swank’s movie career totally incomprehensible: She either wins Oscars, or she tanks. Not even Meryl Streep has won two Best Actress statues, yet in under a decade Swank has gone to that podium twice, like some kind of modern-day Katharine Hepburn. You’d think that would make her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, or at least its most respected. Sure, she wins roles in some blockbuster-type stuff (The Core) or prestige-like stuff (The Black Dahlia), but these movies are invariably flops. Swank’s successes seem to have had no impact on her career, or the way she’s regarded by the general public. She’s some kind of metaphor for the in-and-out nature of post-millennial fame.
All this leaps to my mind when I consider Flo Rida, the rapper who reaches No. 1 on the Hot 100 for the second time, with the kind of sales total that you’d think would make Lil Wayne, Kanye West or Jay-Z bow respectfully.
But if I were them, I wouldn’t. Because after all, who is this clown? How did Flo Rida become the Hilary Swank of pop music?
Twelve months later, the smash holding down the No. 1 spot has changed—this time, it’s from a more seasoned hip-hop figure, T.I.—but the challenger is the same. West storms the ramparts again, this time with his all-singing hit “Love Lockdown.” An eye-popping iTunes debut gives West a No. 3 entrance on the big chart, the best start for a single in his career. It also gives him a clear shot at scoring his fourth career No. 1 single next week.
And while Kanye’s reveling in the reception his first straight-R&B joint is receiving, he can glance over to the new No. 1 single on Hot Country Songs. There, a guy 11 years his senior is showing chart historians how this whole crossover thing is done.
Atlanta hip-hop king T.I. vaults 70 places into the No. 1 spot on Billboard‘s Hot 100 this week with “Whatever You Like,” a sing-songy, smudgy Xerox of his classic 2006 hit “What You Know.”
With this move, Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. scores his first No. 1 as a lead artist (he was credited two years ago on Justin Timberlake’s chart-topper “My Love”) and sets a new Hot 100 record for biggest leap to the top spot. T.I. takes the record away from Maroon 5, who set it just 16 months ago when “Makes Me Wonder” leapt from No. 64 to No. 1 in a single bound. They, in turn, had stolen the record from Kelly Clarkson, whose only No. 1 hit, “A Moment Like This,” held the record for about four years, after she leapt from No. 52 to the top in 2002.
Before Clarkson, this record was held for 28 years, by the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” (No. 26-No. 1 in 1964). The fact that a record held for three decades has been broken thrice in the last six years says less about these songs’ popularity and more about the quirks of the modern charts and the sometimes dysfunctional relationship between sales and airplay.
And it means T.I. shouldn’t gloat for too long–this record’s likely to be broken again.
Three years after his Burger King ad (and six years after his failed R & B solo debut), Darius “Hootie” Rucker is trying make his country move legit. His new single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”‘ has broken Billboard‘s Country Top 50, and his upcoming as-yet-untitled album may be the next big pop crossover. But don’t think Darius is just following the bandwagon: His love for the genre is as true as his love for holding hands.