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.


TV: Playing Catch Up: The Future of NBC

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

I doubt you remember Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Heck, I doubt anybody does. It was a fairly rote sitcom, unceremoniously cancelled in 2003 for its low ratings, which averaged around 8 million viewers a week. The show aired on FOX, then the fourth-place network in America. (This is a pre-American Idol world, mind you.)

In 2011, NBC’s biggest scripted hit is The Office, which averages, not kidding, 8 million viewers. The number of viewers FOX scoffed at eight years ago are now the champagne wishes of NBC executives, who hold on for dear life to any show with numbers above 4 million.

What happened to the Peacock, the network of Seinfeld, Friends and Cheers? Johnny Carson probably rolls in his grave while his beloved NBC is stuck in fourth place, only ahead of the CW (which, really, is barely a network anyway).

In NBC’s defense, there’s no denying that the TV landscape is markedly different than it was even at the conclusion of Friends in 2004. DVRs and web streaming have made appointment TV obsolete, and American Idol’s best days are still pulling in ratings that would be a disappointment for any top 20 show in the 1990s.


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:

Aaron Rodgers

Podcast: BYU Basketball, Super Bowl Preview

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

It was the best of times and the worst of times… Last week, the BYU basketball teams pulled off one of the greatest wins in school history over an undefeated San Diego State team in stunning fashion — and then followed that up by laying a total egg on the road against New Mexico. The PB&J Report crew breaks down what it all means for the Cougars’ tournament positioning and looks forward to the back half of the conference season. Also, America’s favorite sporting event is on Sunday, and you know the boys won’t send you out into the cold without giving you their Packers-Steelers Super Bowl picks. Enjoy!

Diet Coke

Are You a Diet Coke Drinker Yet?

Written by Kasey Yardley on . Posted in Food

I have long been an enthusiastic antagonist of Diet Coke. “Your mom called; she wants her drink back” was a phrase often used in my snide, anti-Diet Coke remarks. You see, I grew up in a predominately Diet Coke-drinking household, which might actually make you think I would have grown to love it — but not the case.

My disdain for the vile beverage only grew stronger as I grew older. Even worse, I was oftentimes left with no other choice in terms of beverages in my house — it was either force down the dry, bland, artificial flavor of Diet Coke, or drink Sunny D, purple stuff or tap water.

Having had that experience as a kid, it’s no wonder I grew to love the delicious, refreshing taste of Coke Classic. Once I had a sip of the “real stuff,” I was hooked. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been an avid Coke drinker. Too much caffeine seems to give me headaches — bad ones. But on certain occasions and especially when pairing a drink with a meal, in my opinion, nothing tastes better than “real” Coke. I don’t care if you’re drinking a high-quality wine with woodsy high notes, floral low notes, or any other weird, wine-describing adjective (not an alcohol drinker, can you tell?), nothing tastes better with a meal than Coke Classic. Nothing.

Andy Williams 1

Interview with Real Salt Lake’s Andy Williams

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Sports

Real Salt Lake begins meaningful play on February 22. The team is coming off its most successful season, in which they broke a number of MLS records, including least amount of goals allowed and longest streak of unbeaten matches at home.

Midfielder Andy Williams has been with the club since its founding and remains a fan favorite. He graciously agreed to participate in a recent email interview with Rhombus. You can read the full interview below:


Darkly Dreaming Dexter: Why We Root For A Serial Killer

Written by Chase Larson on . Posted in TV

“I can kill a man, dismember his body and be home in time for Letterman. But knowing what to say when my girlfriend’s feeling insecure … I’m totally lost.”

So laments the protagonist in Showtime’s critically acclaimed Dexter — originally based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter — one of the most imaginative, entertaining and haunting shows on television.

From its intoxicatingly visceral opening title sequence and accompanying score to the haunting end credits, Dexter has held widespread appeal. Originally premiering in 2006, the show has garnered a record-breaking audience of millions, resulting in multiple awards and nominations  — as well as some naturally apropos criticism from naysayers. I’m a latecomer to the macabre cult bandwagon, which just wrapped up its fifth season. (I recently finished the second).

For those of you heretofore unfamiliar with the show, here’s a brief description, faster than you can say, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

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.

A Star Without A Hit: Nicki Minaj's Big Dilemma

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Nicki Minaj might be the most important female rapper right now, but she still doesn’t have a top ten hit to her name.

Nicki Minaj is arguably the top female rapper on the planet right now. She said it best herself on Kanye West’s “Monster” when she rapped, “My features and my shows ten times your pay/50k for a verse no album out!”

Since “Monster” came out, Minaj has released an album, Pink Friday. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, behind Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Coming second to the most critically acclaimed album of the year is nothing to be ashamed of, but in the long run, Minaj has even more to celebrate as her album has outsold Mr. West’s.

But for all the success Nicki Minaj has achieved in such a short time, it still seems that Minaj is lacking something. A friend of mine encapsulated Nicki’s problem when she tweeted that she liked the idea of Nicki Minaj more than she actually liked her.

Following in the footsteps of West, Drake and Kid Cudi, Minaj is challenging preconceived notions of what a rapper should be. She is flamboyant, unapologetic and loud, and that’s just one of her many personas. (She has five so far: Nicki, Barbie, Roman, Martha, and Rosa.) Her wild outfits and ever-changing hair evoke a hip-hop Lady Gaga, and her ability to land collaborations with big names before her debut album hit stores suggests that a lot of people have high expectations of the 25-year-old Queens rapper.

The interesting thing about the vast majority of her collaborations is that the songs she’s featuring on aren’t all that good. Just take a listen to “My Chick Bad” with Ludacris, “Bottoms Up” with Trey Songz, or “Raining Men” with Rihanna. The songs aren’t very good, but Minaj’s raps are out of this world. I even have a friend who fast forwards to Nicki’s rap time and time again without even listening to the full song.

The benefit of being that prolific was that Minaj got her name out. If an eccentric rapper who uses a handful of different accents starts popping up on songs with Mariah Carey and Usher, people will start to pay attention. People have been paying attention, but this marketing technique is different than the usual methods record companies use.

Traditionally, when a record label prepares to launch a new artist, they build a brand around this artist and figure out the best way to market them to a prospective audience. One of the most important components of this is the debut single. It’s the first impression of an artist and it plays a significant role in molding how the public views them as an artist for the rest of their career.

Hip-hop has always been a little different. It relies more heavily on underground mixtapes and guest spots, but you still can’t deny the importance of those first few singles on breaking artists. Look no further than Eminem’s “My Name Is” or 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” for proof.

Nicki Minaj is missing her own “My Name Is.” Despite skads of guest appearances and a full-length album, she doesn’t have her own “In Da Club” yet. The closest she’s come is Kanye’s “Monster,” which critics have been drooling over ever since it dropped. But it still isn’t hers.

Nicki, “Massive Attack” was forgettable. “Your Love” was boring. “Right Thru Me” wasn’t strong enough. People like you. They like the idea of you. They want you to succeed, but you need to bring the goods. Stop giving out your sickest raps to sub-par songs and save them for yourself.