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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.
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Pop Shots - A Look At The Charts
Monday, December 01, 2014

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, as there are a bunch of returning favorites, and a few new voices, getting some major airplay right now. 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.

1) Taylor Swift - Blank Space

There have been a plethora of impressive pop releases this year, but when Taylor Swift made the move from country-pop to full on pop, and worked predominantly with pop music god Max Martin, it was a wrap. The combination of the two is like a pop music Wondertwins, and “Blank Space” is a perfect example of the kind of perfection they can achieve together. Insanely catchy, and building to a memorable chorus, “Blank Space” is exactly what a great pop song should sound like. Oh, and yes, EVERYONE thought she was singing something about “Starbucks lovers” until reading the lyrics. That particular line will go down as one of the great misheard lyrics of all-time.

3) Hozier - Take Me To Church

“Take Me To Church” was released over a year ago, but is just now starting to make an impact on Top 40 radio. It’s a great song, but screams one hit wonder, as it seems when a new artist creates something both beautiful, and unique, people only want that song from them, and aren’t super receptive to follow up singles (Alex Clare released a new single in May. Do you even remember who he is?). That said, Hozier (who, for my money, has a name far too close to already finished one hit wonder Hinder), has a really good voice, and even if “Take Me To Church” ends up his lone hit, it’s not a bad way to be remembered.

9) Ariana Grande w/ The Weeknd - Love Me Harder

I’ve never been shy about my feelings regarding Ariana Grande. I think she has an incredible voice, and impressively mixes current pop music with 90s era R&B in a way that connects with both the current generation of pop listeners, and old folks like me who will forever love the 90s. Her current single, a collaboration with R&B singer The Weeknd, is a standout, as it sees Grande dive into more adult fare. Last week Bette Midler commented that she didn’t like how Grande was sexualizing herself. Personally, while I agree that Grande doesn’t have to do that kind of stuff, she’s an adult, and she can do what she wants. That said, she should probably take the cat ears off, as it toes that early Britney Spears sexual-virgin thing a little too well.

18) Mark Ronson w/ Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are musical geniuses, but not in a good way. With their collaborative single, “Uptown Funk,” their genius is shown in their ability to find a way to be celebrated artists while being completely unoriginal. Oh it’s a funky song, but it’s funky because it samples nearly every great funk and disco song ever made. Some of the samples are obvious, while others take a far more knowledgeable ear to recognize, but the point is the song connects with people because they’ve already heard it, and loved it, in the past. A Billboard article cited ten songs that can be heard sampled, or alluded to, in “Uptown Funk,” and I found two more after just one listen, so yeah, it’s a hit, but it may also be the most derivative song of all-time.

52) Ella Henderson - Ghost

I had no idea who Ella Henderson was before this song was released. Doing a little bit of reading up on her, the 18 year old British singer-songwriter was apparently a finalist on the ninth season of the UK version of The X Factor, and was subsequently signed by Simon Cowell to his Syco Music label. After listening to “Ghost” it’s pretty obvious that Cowell still knows what he’s doing, as Henderson’s voice is phenomenal, and filled with a maturity one doesn’t normally expect to hear coming from an 18 year old. Earlier I noted that when an artist debuts with something beautiful, and unique, it can turn them into a one hit wonder. This phenomenon actually happens far more often with male artists than female artists, and with that in mind I’m holding out hope we get to hear more from Henderson.

53) Alesso w/ Tove Lo - Heroes

Tove Lo is easily my favorite new artist in pop music. Not only is her album, Queen of the Clouds one of the year’s best, her guest appearances on other people’s songs are also fantastic. This is why, even though it’s a dance track, I can’t get enough of Alesso’s “Heroes.” Tove Lo’s voice, and songwriting, are top notch (what is it with Swedish artists and pop music? Is there something in the water over there?), and when she sings, “Everyday people do everyday things, but I can’t be one of them,” I completely connect with the song. I highly recommend everything Tove Lo, and would love for “Heroes” to get even more airplay than it already does.

And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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