Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with some Billboard singles chart analysis. It’s been over two months since I last did this, and the charts look decidedly different now with monster songs from Ke$ha, Taylor Swift, and Macklemore making an impact. I’ll be taking a look at those singles, as well as the latest from Imagine Dragons, and Cher Lloyd. The chart positions I'm using are from the Billboard Hot 100 as it was listed on Billboard.com this past Friday, and since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
3) Ke$ha - Die Young
The combination of Ke$ha and Dr. Luke have proven to be a dynamic musical duo like no other. When they get together the result is always dance pop perfection, and “Die Young” is no exception. The synth-y goodness of the beat, and the YOLO inspired lyrics, make it yet another necessary addition to anyone’s party playlist. It’s almost physically impossible to not pump your fists along to the double drum beat after she sings “I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums.” What makes “Die Young” even better than its predecessors is that if one were to strip it down, and replace the synths with instruments, it would have a classic rock feel. This makes me think that even with their successful history together, the Ke$ha - Dr. Luke musical marriage might just be starting to hit its stride.
15) Taylor Swift - I Knew You Were Trouble
Taylor Swift claimed her throne as the queen of pop when Red debuted at number one with sales of 1.2 million, but holy mother of God, did anyone know she had a song as great as “I Knew You Were Trouble” waiting for us? The way it builds from its decidedly country pre-chorus to it’s synth pop, borderline dubstep, reiteration of the word “trouble” is magical. Following that by going with the synth pop for the future choruses was another stroke of genius, and is the kind of brilliance that’s pure Max Martin. Sometimes people forget that before Dr. Luke and David Guetta took over pop radio, Max Martin was both of them rolled into one (his resume includes Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Pink, and Katy Perry). The fact that he has this song, and Maroon 5’s “One More Night,” arguably two of the best pop songs of the year, out at the same time means it might still be his world after all. We already know it’s Taylor Swift’s, and that’s fine by me, because “I Knew You Were Trouble” is amazing.
21) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop
He’s gonna take your grandpa’s style and you’re gonna freakin love it. If you’re late to the Macklemore bandwagon there’s still some room, although with Top 40 radio now playing “Thrift Shop” he’s on the verge of needing an even bigger bandwagon to fit everyone. Arguably the biggest story in hip-hop in 2012, Macklemore is crossing over, and it’s a very good thing. When I hear “Thrift Shop,” and know what else Macklemore is capable of (songs like “Same Love,” and “Otherside”), I get the same feeling I had when Eminem’s “My Name Is” hit radio. This is the personality filled song that breaks Macklemore to the masses, and up next, now that Top 40 radio is playing him, comes the more serious work. The great news is, while “Thrift Shop” is funny, just like with Eminem and “My Name Is” Macklemore doesn’t sacrifice skills for laughs. This is a straight up dope song, and is worthy of being cranked at high volumes whenever it comes on.
65) Imagine Dragons - Radioactive
If you like your synth rock bass filled, and littered with apocalyptic visions in the lyrics, “Radioactive” might very well be your favorite song. When I first heard it on Imagine Dragons’ Continued Silence EP I loved it, but wondered if it was the kind of thing that would ever get airplay. Thanks to songs like Alex Clare’s “Too Close” becoming huge hits, “Radioactive” is getting its shot at mainstream popularity. It’s a bit in your face, but we’re talking about the end of the world here, did you think we were going to go out in a burst of glitter and rainbows? That’s the Care Bears version of the apocalypse. Imagine Dragons’ version is a little more intense, and a great musical achievement. Let’s hope we’re not nearing the end of the world, because I want to hear more songs like this.
99) Cher Lloyd w/ Becky G - Oath
When I first posted the video for “Oath” in Pop Shots two months ago I said it had all the potential to be next “Umbrella,” Rihanna’s song about being BFFs. Well, I may have been WAY ahead of the curve with that as “Oath” JUST hit the Hot 100. I still feel it’s a great song, and I love Cher Lloyd’s cheekiness, I’m just surprised it’s taken so long for pop radio to embrace it. Here’s hoping “Oath” climbs the charts because there are a few other songs off of Sticks & Stones that deserve radio airplay, and I’d hate to see Lloyd go down as a one hit wonder, which is exactly what would happen if “Oath” doesn’t hit and the label decides to not invest any more money in her. Cher Lloyd provides something a little different in the pop world - her tattoos, her accent, her attitude. We need a Cher Lloyd right now. Plus, she’s a hottie, so there’s really no reason for her not to make it big.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.