Author Archive


The History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in 25 Songs: Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats – "Rocket 88"

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music


The history of rock ‘n’ roll could fill volumes. It isn’t neat, it isn’t tidy, and it didn’t arrive suddenly in the form of Bill Haley and His Comets or Elvis Presley. Instead, it evolved from a number of sources over time. It was created as the lines between blues, country and gospel music slowly blurred until, by the mid-1950s, a completely new form of music had been created. As rock ‘n’ roll progressed, it continued to grow and change, splintering into countless genres and sub-genres.

It is because of rock’s complexity that I was struck by an encounter between David Bowie and the Killers. According to a 2005 Rolling Stone interview, Bowie saw the Killers perform in New York City and went to meet them backstage after the show where he told them, “I felt like I just saw the history of rock & roll.”

I assume that Bowie was referring to all the different influences evident in the Killer’s music, but it got me thinking about taking something as vast and unmanageable as the history of rock and boiling it down to something bite-sized, like a show or a mixtape.


CHART WATCH: Lady Gaga Leads Grammy Performer-Filled Top Ten

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.

The 2011 Grammy awards drew more than 26 million viewers, its biggest audience in over a decade, and it shows on this week’s Hot 100. The entire top five is comprised of songs performed during the show, led by Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” The fact that “Born This Way” is No. 1 for a second week is significant, and we’ll get to that in a second.


The Meaning Behind Britney Spears’ "Hold It Against Me" Music Video

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

It’s Britney vs. Britney in her music video for “Hold It Against Me.”

If it hadn’t been for the two weeks worth of teaser clips released on Britney Spears’ Twitter account, the Jonas Akerlund-directed music video for “Hold It Against Me” would have been a complete shock when it was released. Rather than portray the song literally by setting it in a club or having Spears chase a love interest, Akerlund took the video in a different direction and created something unlike any else in Britney’s catalog of videos.

The video is dark, deep, and can be interpreted many ways, as her manager Larry Rudolph pointed out in an MTV broadcast after the video premiered. Regardless, the overriding theme of the piece is the trials and trappings of celebrity.


Highlights from Billboard Hot 100′s 1,000 No. 1 Hits: 20 Songs that Broke Records, Made History

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

This week, the Billboard Hot 100 crowned Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” the 1,000th song to top its chart since it was created in 1958. Here are some of the highlights from the past 1,000 No. 1s, including songs by the Beatles, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey.

1958: “Poor Little Fool” — Ricky Nelson

First No. 1

Ricky Nelson, a star on the television show The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, began his recording career to impress his girlfriend and was lucky enough to have the top song in the country the week Billboard introduced the Hot 100.



CHART WATCH: Born To Reign: Lady Gaga Lands Billboard’s 1,000th No. 1

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.

This week, Lady Gaga scores her third No. 1 single as “Born This Way” storms the Hot 100, debuting at No. 1 and earning the distinction of being the 1,000th No. 1 in Billboard history. What makes it all the more impressive was that she did it in less than three days.

Billboard was so excited about its 1,000th No. 1 that they leaked news of the occasion three days before the new charts are posted. And what better time is there to be excited and take a look back at the Hot 100 — the Dow Jones of music.

The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show

Shock and Surprise at the 2011 Grammy Awards

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Montreal band Arcade Fire were shocked after winning the coveted Album of the Year award for The Suburbs. They lost out in the Alternative Album category earlier in the night, and beat the likes of Eminem and Lady Gaga for the honor.

The 53rd annual Grammy Awards were broadcast Sunday, and Lady Antebellum, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga walked away the big winners. Lady Antebellum won five Grammy awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Need You Now.” Although Jay-Z and Lady Gaga didn’t win in any of the general categories, each took home three Grammys apiece in the rap and pop categories, respectively. Arcade Fire won Album of the Year for The Suburbs, shocking everyone who assumed Eminem’s Recovery was a shew-in. Slim Shady was nominated for 10 Grammys — the most of any artist — but he only won two, one for Best Rap Album and the other for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Not Afraid.”


CHART WATCH: Consolation Prize: Wiz Khalifa’s "Black and Yellow" Tops Chart

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.

This Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers accepted the Vince Lombardi trophy for winning Super Bowl XLV, I thought it was a forgone conclusion that Wiz Khalifa’s Pittsburgh Steelers anthem, “Black and Yellow,” would not be going No. 1. I estimated that the only way the song could top the Hot 100 was if the Steelers won the Super Bowl which would inevitably lead to fans flocking to iTunes to download the track as a post-game memento. But on Sunday, the Packers won, Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” was on the rise, and I thought I’d spend this week’s edition of Chart Watch writing about the very first explicatively titled No. 1. I’m not a Pink fan though, so I am not complaining.


American Idol To Release Greatest Hits Album, Remind America How Much It’s Underperformed

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music, TV

‘American Idol’ plans to release a greatest hits album despite the fact that very few ‘Idol’ artists have made an impact on the charts. Season One winner Kelly Clarkson is an exception. Clarkson has scored two No. 1s and eight top ten hits since winning the show in 2002.

American Idol is celebrating a decade of television dominance by releasing a greatest hits album. The album features songs by the winners of each season, as well as songs from some of the more successful contestants who didn’t take home the Idol crown. Although there are some big hits on the compilation, a scan through the track listing is a painful reminder of how American Idol‘s alumni have severely underperformed.

Don’t blame the show though. Idol has been a ratings juggernaut ever since it debuted in 2002. For six of the past nine seasons, in fact, it was the No. 1 show on television. You sure can’t tell that from the 12-track album. Here are the songs:

Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show

The Black Eyed Peas Storm iTunes Despite Halftime Fumble

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Where is the love? More like where is the talent? The Black Eyes Peas’ halftime show during Super Bowl XLV was universally panned, but the group is still raking in the cash as sales of their singles skyrocket.

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t the only losers at this year’s Super Bowl. The Black Eyed Peas were universally panned for their half time show performance where they stuffed every hit they had into a 12 minute set. But while the Steelers went home as first losers, the Peas have pulled off an upset.

The Black Eyed Peas defied the naysayers as their latest single, the pre-remixed, bad-80s-song-sampling mess that is “The Time (Dirty Bit),” has surged to the top of the iTunes sales chart. A slew of their other smash hits have re-entered the digital store’s top downloaded songs list as well including “Where Is The Love?,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “Boom Boom Pow.”


CHART WATCH: Third and Long for Wiz Khalifa’s "Black and Yellow"

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.

Bruno Mars sits atop the Hot 100 for a fourth week with “Grenade,” fending off Pink’s “F*ckin’ Perfect” which moves 11-2. What’s more interesting, however, is the song that occupies the No. 4 spot, “Black and Yellow.” The song is an ode to the AFC champion Steelers and the breakthrough single for a Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa.

Over the past two years, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena on the Hot 100 where songs about specific geographic areas topped the chart at the same time that a team from that area won a championship. In 2009, Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys went No. 1 as Yankees won their 27th World Series, and in 2010, Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” [sic] featuring Snoop Dogg went No. 1 as the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA Championship.