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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Pop Shots - A Look At The Charts
Monday, January 06, 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. We’ve reached the icy heart of winter, which means more people are staying in than heading out, and this is represented on the charts by dance songs taking a backseat to slower fare. The indie rock sound is making its presence felt, and even pop princesses Katy Perry and Britney Spears have released singles that aren’t quite as high energy. The chart positions I’m using to take a look at all of these songs 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.

5) A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera - Say Something

You’d be hard pressed to find an artist who’s having a better career resurgence than Christina Aguilera. The secret to her incredible turnaround? Great collaborations (and no longer being a bitch on The Voice). She’s had huge hits with Pitbull, and Blake Shelton (thankfully not on the same song), and her latest collaboration, “Say Something,” which features her joining forces with A Great Big World, might be her best yet. The song is a beautiful ballad, and Aguilera seems to no longer feel the need to constantly attempt to out-sing everyone she works with. Instead, her vocals, and the vocals of A Great Big World’s Ian Axel, mesh perfectly together on this emotional song that’s a winner.

7) Passenger - Let Her Go

I have to admit, the first few times I heard Passenger’s “Let Her Go” I thought, “what’s up with that guy’s voice!?” Much like Dave Matthews, the vocals of Mike Rosenberg are an acquired taste. Thankfully, Top 40 radio has played “Let Her Go” so often, and the lyrics are so damned good, that his voice has become not just palatable, but enjoyable (I’ve never said the same thing about Dave Matthews, no matter how many times I hear his music). Much like “Say Something,” “Let Her Go” is a fantastic winter ballad that will probably be in playlists until the weather warms up again.

11) Katy Perry w/ Juicy J - Dark Horse

Some may have thought Katy Perry caught lightning in a bottle with “E.T.” back in 2010/2011. The beat was reportedly originally made for Three 6 Mafia, but ended up in Perry’s hands, resulting in one of the coolest songs she’s ever done. With “Dark Horse” she’s managed to top it. Not only does “Dark Horse” have an even better beat (which has a sample in it that I keep thinking comes from an Enya song, or something of that nature/era), it also features Three 6 Mafia co-founder Juicy J, making it the dopest thing on Top 40 radio right now. I crank up “Dark Horse” every time it’s on, even if Juicy J damns Katy Perry to never be in the baseball hall of fame when he raps, “Shorty heart is on steroids, cuz her love is so strong.”

16) The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather

Every once in a while a song with a distinctly indie rock sound captures a mainstream pop audience’s attention. A few years ago it was Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” Today we have The Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather” (despite both songs being about articles of clothing, I don’t think that’s a necessary element for an indie rock sounding band to have mainstream success). “Sweater Weather” is a sweet song, but not a saccharine one. It might be the first hipster love song to reach pop radio. Thankfully, it’s not just for the hipsters, as it’s a really beautiful song that most everyone can relate to. Here’s hoping The Neighbourhood has more singles like this in their arsenal, and won’t end up a one hit wonder like their predecessors.

19) Lorde - Team

I know I risk serious hate mail for saying this, but I’m not really all that enamored with Lorde. “Team” features her singing the exact same way as she did on her previous single, “Royals,” showing very little range, and the same disaffected, know it all, teen attitude. That being said, as a stand alone song, “Team” is, remarkably, still enjoyable, and I actually prefer it to “Royals.” The beat is fantastic, and works really well with Lorde’s voice, proving that a singer doesn’t have to possess the best voice as long as they, or their producers, know how to use it correctly. While her act will wear thin eventually, Lorde is currently pop music’s it-girl, so I don’t see her disappearing anytime soon.

91) Britney Spears - Perfume

The good news – “Perfume” is reminiscent of some of Britney’s older songs. There’s no fake British accent, no excessive Auto-Tune, and she’s a bit emo (remember, back in the day, sometimes she ran, sometimes she hid). The bad news – The songwriting meanders between questionable, and laughable, and sometimes the emotion she’s displaying is downright crazy. Marking a guy with your perfume? Umm, what?!?! When measuring the pros and cons of “Perfume,” however, the pros win out, just by a hair, as classic Britney is the Britney we all knew and loved. It’s hard, however, not to imagine how much better “Perfume” would be had Max Martin and Shellback had a hand in writing it.

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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