Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. 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. There’s a really interesting mix of music gaining steam right now. We have the dance pop of will.i.am and Britney Spears, the folk rock of Of Monsters and Men, the return of Fall Out Boy, the emergence of Olly Murs, the country of Carrie Underwood, and lots more Macklemore. The chart positions I'm using are from the Billboard Hot 100 as it was listed on Billboard.com this past Thursday, and since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
3) will.i.am & Britney Spears - Scream & Shout
The first time I heard this song I said “this is terrible, but after 20 listens it’s going to be one of my favorite songs.” Honestly, it didn’t even take 20 listens, it was more like ten. will.i.am’s production is always like that, slightly annoying at first, but then you start to hear everything that went into it, the hook grabs you, and you can’t help but, in Britney’s words (sung in a Madonna-like fake British accent), “turn this shit up.” By sampling the infamous “Britney, bitch” line from “Gimme More,” will.i.am also gave the song a reference point to something else we enjoyed, and all the memories associated with it, even if one of those memories is Britney’s train wreck of a performance at the VMAs. It’s kinda genius.
22) Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks
Folk rock has made a huge comeback in recent years, with quite a few songs making a significant impact on the charts, but “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men is on another level altogether. The combination of the horns, the back and forth between the two singers, the ebb and flow of the song changing pace numerous times, and the chorus that gets stuck in your head, make this something so much bigger than just another folk rock song. “Little Talks” is a little nugget of musical perfection that is impossible not to like, and with the way it never stays in one place musically, it not only grabs hold of your attention, it keeps it throughout the entire song.
26) Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)
Damn you Fall Out Boy! Damn you for making such incredibly addictive, and awesome tunes. It’s not the cool thing to like Fall Out Boy, but with songs like “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up),” how can you not? It’s the kind of song you can listen to on repeat for an entire day, and, quite frankly, I’m happy to see rock making a comeback in the pop scene. Thanks to tunes like this one, radio is sounding more and more like it did when we had the very varied playlists of the 90s. Side Note - Whenever this song comes on while I’m driving it causes me to put the pedal to the metal, so if you ever see me speeding, it’s totally Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump’s fault.
49) Olly Murs w/ Flo Rida - Troublemaker
If you’ve ever thought, “I really like Adam Levine, but I just wish he was British,” the universe has answered your prayers with Olly Murs, a man with the voice of Adam Levine, and the sound of Maroon 5. I'm not sure if this is a marketing ploy, and there’s more to the former X-Factor UK contestant than we’re hearing on “Troublemaker,” but even if there isn’t, sounding similar to one of the biggest acts in pop music today isn’t exactly a bad thing. It will be interesting to see how America reacts to him, because his voice is better than Justin Timberlake’s, and with “Troublemaker” he’s doing the exact kind of song we wish Timberlake would do. Could Murs possibly bump JT down a notch in the pop world? It’s something worth keeping an eye, and an ear on.
50) Carrie Underwood - Two Black Cadillacs
If you thought Carrie Underwood had the angry lover thing on lock with “Before He Cheats,” she makes the girl from that song sound positively serene compared to the women of “Two Black Cadillacs.” “Two Black Cadillacs” weaves an unbelievably dark tale of deception and revenge, and the entire story is told flawlessly by Underwood, who perfectly captures the anger, and confidence, of the characters she’s singing about. Her voice is, once again, perfect, as she continues to prove she’s one of the best in the biz. As an aside, I’m guessing Underwood’s husband has ZERO adulterous thoughts after hearing this one. Actually, it would have been kind of fun to be a fly on the wall the first time she played it for him. “Hey honey, here’s this song about... ah well, just listen.”
89) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis w/ Mary Lambert - Same Love
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis currently have the number one song in the country with “Thrift Shop.” The happy, fun tune about poppin tags at the local second hand store has launched the duo into the stratosphere. One fantastic result of this is that people are now discovering some of the duo’s other, more socially charged, songs, like “Same Love,” which is suddenly climbing the charts after being released five months ago. “Same Love” covers an area most rappers shy away from - the treatment of homosexuals in America. It’s an incredibly bold statement, led by an admission by Macklemore that at one point, as a child, he thought he might be gay due to misconceived preconceptions of what makes a person gay. If “Same Love” continues to climb the charts, and let’s hope it does, expect Macklemore to be at the center of quite the national discussion.
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.