Posts Tagged ‘Britney Spears’


Top 25 Pop Songs of 2011

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

2011 didn’t turn out like it was supposed to.

It was supposed to be the year that the electro-Europop ushered in by Lady Gaga completed its rise to total airwave domination. It was supposed to be the year hip-hop gave up trying to be as relevant as it was in the ’00s. It was supposed to be the year rock staged a comeback. But none of those things happened.


Help us LMFAO, you’re our only hope

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Twenty-three summers ago, a song by a rising pop act reached the summit of the Hot 100 before being steamrolled by one of the biggest recording artists of the decades achieving an unrivaled chart feat. The song was “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson, and the steamrolling superstar was Michael Jackson whose “Dirty Diana” became the fifth No. 1 from his Bad album. A handful of albums have pulled off four chart toppers, but for more than two decades, Bad has been the sole album with a quintet of No. 1s. That could all change next week, however.

This summer, the foolish beat is “Party Rock Anthem” by rising pop act LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock. Katy Perry takes the role of pop juggernaut. Singles from her Teenage Dream album have been unstoppable in their march to No. 1. Last summer, she began her assault with “California Gurls [sic]” featuring Snoop Dogg followed by “Teenage Dream,” “Firework” and “E.T.” featuring Kanye West.


CHART WATCH: On A Roll: Adele Building Steam on Hot 100

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.

Katy Perry clenches the No. 1  spot for a fifth non-consecutive week with “E.T.” featuring Kanye West, and it’s become painfully obvious that Perry’s fourth Teenage Dream chart topping single is not a flash-in-the-pan.

“E.T.” is coming off its best sales week ever two weeks ago (344,000) and is down slightly this week with figures slightly north of 300,000.  In total, “E.T.” is on track to be the top-selling song of 2011 to date. Its 2.48 million sales are hot on the tail of Cee Lo Green’s 2.49 million sales of “F**k You.” Sales of “E.T.” are on par with last summer’s smash “California Gurls” feat. Snoop Dogg, and they might even eclipse her ode to the Golden State, becoming her best-selling single ever.


CHART WATCH: It’s Game Change Alright: Britney Goes Rogue, Beyonce Flops and Rihanna’s Maverick Wears Off

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.

After spending a single week at the summit, Rihanna’s “S&M” featuring Britney Spears slides to No. 4 as Katy Perry’s “E.T.” featuring Kanye West retakes the No. 1 position with an impressive burst of sales and radio airplay.

In my last Chart Watch column, I compared the battle between Perry/West and Fenty/Spears to a presidential campaign, and likened Spears to the Sarah Palin of pop. Those comparisons aren’t that far off. Def Jam’s last minute decision to add Spears to “S&M” was a calculated Hail Mary. The label correctly assumed that by courting Britney’s rabid fan base, the song could finally break from its No.2  position and overtake “E.T.”

Remember when McCain picked Palin and suddenly, the disgruntled Republican base had someone to cheer for on the ticket? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.


CHART WATCH: What’s the Difference Between a Pitbull and a Femme Fatale? Lipstick…

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.

Kelly Clarkson announced the completion of her fifth studio album this March, but RCA is pushing the release date to September. One could assume the delay is due to the overcrowded pop market right now. If RCA wants Clarkson to make the biggest splash possible, they’re doing themselves a favor by waiting until the airwaves have calmed down a bit.

For the past several months, the upper echelons of the Hot 100 have been dominated by female pop stars. Katy Perry stays at No. 1 this week with “E.T.” featuring Kanye West, Rihanna comes up short once again with “S&M” at No. 2, and both Britney Spears and Lady Gaga have songs in the top 10.


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: Britney, Look What You Gone Done!

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.

Britney Spears shattered download records this week as the Max Martin/Dr. Luke creation “Hold It Against Me” debuts atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the singer’s fourth No. 1 single. “Hold It Against Me” has sold 411,000 digital downloads, marking not only Spears’ best one-week sales, but also the best first week sales for a female artist. The previous record was held by Taylor Swift, who shifted 325,000 downloads of “Today Was A Fairytale” last February.

Spears also had radio on her side. “Hold It Against Me” was the 23rd most played song in the country — extremely impressive for a week old song. With stats like that, a No. 1 debut on the Hot 100 was inevitable. It used to be rare for songs to make their first chart appearance at No. 1 — only 19 have done it in the 51-year history of the charts — but expect them to become a lot more common. Spears already did it in 2009 with “3,” making Spears the third artist to have multiple songs debut at the top spot (Mariah Carey and Celine Dion accomplished the feat in 1995 and 1998, respectively), and don’t be surprised if it’s not her last. In the age of iTunes, huge one-week sales and high debuts are more common then ever.

With twelve years under her belt, Britney Spears has reached icon status. Want proof? Look no further than the 2010 Forbes list of top earning musicians where Spears landed at No. 5. She might have released a clothing line and made a cameo appearance in a Britney-themed Glee episode, but 2010 was a quiet year for Spears. Compare that with Lady Gaga who was only the seventh biggest earning artist, despite spending virtually the entire year on the road and selling millions of dollars worth of albums, digital downloads and merchandise. Comparing the two pop stars highlights an important fact: Britney Spears makes waves without having to put in that much effort.

“Hold It Against Me” might be better than the phoned-in vocals and cheesy (and completely inappropriate for the mother of two) sexuality of “3,” but it doesn’t hold a candle to some of Spears’ previous work. So how exactly has Spears reached No. 1 with songs like “Hold It Against Me” and “3,” while far superior tracks haven’t been so lucky? The answer is digital downloads. The bulk of Spears’ career has been during a time of transition for the Hot 100 — the time in between the death of the physical single but before the rise of iTunes.

Her first No. 1 was her debut single, “…Baby One More Time,” released in October 1998. Benefiting from a provocative music video that quickly became a TRL staple, the song spent two weeks in the penthouse three months later and helped launch her album of the same name that went to sell over 12 million copies in the United States alone. But Spears’ teen pop anthem was to be her last chart-topping single for a full decade. At the end of 1998, Billboard fundamentally altered the Hot 100. No longer would it be exclusively a singles chart, but it would be a songs chart, meaning album cuts and promotional songs not available for purchase were eligible for charting. Billboard’s move killed the already dying physical single, and the Hot 100 became a radio-dominated chart.

In any other time, an artist like Spears still would have an impressive record in a radio-heavy chart climate, but the mid-2000s were not friendly to pop. Hip-hop and R&B songs spent weeks and weeks at No. 1, and from 2000-2006, Spears only scored two top ten hits (“Oops!…I Did It Again” and “Toxic” both went No. 9 in 2000 and 2004, respectively). Some artists might be pleased with a track record like that, but more should be expected for an artist who was arguably the defining pop star of the 2000s.

Her big break came in 2005 when Billboard began counting digital downloads when calculating the Hot 100. Unfortunately, Spears was less interested in making music by mid-decade and soon descended into her “fat Elvis” period. The effects of Billboard’s changes became apparent when her dark and danceable breakdown opus “Gimme More” went No. 3 in 2007. Her only promotion was a botched VMA performance, but Spears scored the second highest charting song of her career. Such is the power of Britney.

In 2008, nearly a decade after her first No. 1, Spears went No. 1 for a second time with “Womanizer.” The song pole-vaulted 96-1 thanks to massive first week digital downloads. The same chart rules that held back Britney for most of her career helped her disproportionately as she scored her last three chart toppers. Spears has legions of tireless and devoted fans who will buy anything and everything she puts out. It’s to be expected from fans who have seen their star go from being on top of the world to bald and batshit crazy and back again.

“Hold It Against Me” remains the top selling song on iTunes but expect its sales figures to drop next week. If radio airplay continues to grow for the track, however, it will be more than able to make up the difference and keep Britney at No. 1 for a second week, something Spears hasn’t been able to do since “…Baby One More Time.”

Here’s what’s happening on the rest of the Hot 100:

  • How ironic is it that the “anti-Britney” is sharing producers with Miss Spears herself? Avril Lavigne’s “What The Hell” even features a Britney-esque pronunciation of the word “me” (You’re on your knees/begging please/stay with maaaaaay) The song makes it debut at No. 13.
  • The chart’s third highest new debut is Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “H*A*M” from their forthcoming joint LP, Watch The Throne, which opens at No. 23.
  • Wiz Khalifa takes “Black and Yellow” to its highest peak ever — No. 5 — as various parodies of his tribute to the Pittsburgh Steelers pop up around the net. White and purple? Pink and purple?

Here’s this week’s top ten:

1. “Hold It Against Me” – Britney Spears (1st week at No. 1, debut)

2. “Grenade” – Bruno Mars

3. “Firework” – Katy Perry

4. “What’s My Name?” – Rihanna feat. Drake

5. “Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa

6. “Tonight I’m Lovin’ You” -Enrique Iglesias feat. Ludacris

7. “We R Who We R” – Ke$ha

8. “Raise Your Glass” – Pink

9. The Time (Dirty Bit)” – Black Eyed Peas

10. “Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars

2011 Rock & Roll User's Guide: Everything You'll Need to Hear in The New Year

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Coldplay are all among the artists planning on releasing new music in 2011.

2011 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year. Several bands are returning from prolonged hibernations with what they say is their best material yet. Two of the biggest names in hip-hop are planning a joint LP that could be out as soon as next week while two of the biggest names in pop are releasing records months apart from each other. And Amy Winehouse might even get herself together enough to give us the follow-up to Back To Black we’ve been wanting for nearly half a decade now. And that’s to say nothing about the game-changing albums by bands none of us have even heard of yet.

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Watch the Throne, due January

What they’re saying: Kanye West isn’t that big of a douchebag. The rapper offered 15 songs for free on his website during the second half of 2010. Some of those songs landed on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and others are rumored to be on an upcoming release with Jay-Z. Originally planned as an EP, it has grown to a full blown album. “We’re putting out a whole album now,” said West to Entertainment Weekly. “We did like five [songs] so far, and then a few of them kind of were out there, and I put them on my album. Sorry, Jay! [...] But we’ve got some more, and we’re going to the south of France at the end of this month just to record our ideas.”

Bright Eyes

The People’s Key, February 11

What they’re saying: Although singer and guitarist Conor Oberst hasn’t stopped making music, Bright Eyes hasn’t released a record since 2007′s Cassadaga. But for what Oberst says is their last album, the band is leaning toward more of a rock sound. “We’re over the Americana, rootsy, whatever that sound is,” he said. “People say country but I never thought we were very country at all. But whatever that element is or that aesthetic is, I guess it’s worn a little thin for me these days. So we very much wanted it to be rocking and, for lack of a better term, contemporary, or modern.”

Avril Lavigne

Goodbye Lullaby, due March 8

What they’re saying: Fergie introduced Avril Lavigne on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve by saying, “She grows and changes with every album she releases. Now she’s ready to take another bold step.” Not exactly. Lead single “What The Hell” is the same faux punk-rock style Lavigne has been singing since the teen pop bubble burst nearly a decade ago, but make no mistake, it will sell just as well as it did then.

Britney Spears

As yet untitled, due March

What they’re saying: Stakes are high for Spears as she prepares to release her first album in a post-Gaga world. “There’s a lot for us to live up to,” says songwriter and the album’s co-executive producer, Dr. Luke. “I want to get harder in some ways and maybe a little more deep into electronic and grimier.” Unfortunately, Luke’s recent material like “TiK ToK,” “Party In The U.S.A.,” and “California Gurls” [sic] doesn’t seem like the kind of music that can go up against Mother Monster and win. For Britney’s sake, let’s hope he’s got some tricks up his sleeve. Luke has been tweeting lyrics from the lead single, “Hold It Against Me,” and so far, all we know is “Hey, over there, please forgive me.” Sounds promising.

Lady Gaga

Born This Way, due May 23

What they’re saying: Anticipation has been building for Gaga’s next release ever since the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards when the singer announced its title, Born This Way, and sang a snippet from the title track. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Gaga tweeted an image of her bearing her bare ass with the album’s release date. Elton John has been able to hear the album and said, “This is the new ‘I Will Survive.’ That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem — it can apply to anybody.” The first single is set to drop February 13, the day of the 2011 Grammy Awards. Coincidence? I think not.

Death Cab for Cutie

As yet untitled, due spring

What they’re saying: Despite the amazing music Death Cab has already put out, frontman Ben Gibbard says he’s more confident as a songwriter and musician than he ever has been. “I strangely feel closer to my bandmates than I ever have before,” said Gibbard. “We’ve all kind of landed in a place in our lives, personally and professionally, where we can all get together and enjoy each other’s company and enjoy making music.”


As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: Lead singer Chris Martin says that the band’s next album, a concept album, is their “last big shot,” but he also describes it as more intimate as some of their previous material. “It’s from the point of view of two people who are a bit lost,” Martin said.  ”Two like-minded outsiders who meet in a very difficult environment and therefore have a journey together.”

No Doubt

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: No Doubt has hinted at new music for some time now. While Gwen Stefani was still promoting her second solo album, the band allegedly began working on a record of their own. It never saw the light of day, but guitarist Tom Dumont promises that 2011 will be different. “Holidays over. 2010 done. 10 new songs written. No Doubt’s 2011 New Years resolution: to record our new album…beginning TODAY!” tweeted Dumont.


As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: Considering the way the band surprised the world and released their last album, 2007′s In Rainbows, anything is possible for Radiohead this year. Word on the street is they’ve finished a new record and had a “wrap party” in LA after a three-week recording session. “It’s genuinely exciting. It’s very different from what we did last time,” said guitarist Ed O’Brian. “It’s really nice to be doing this. It’s so good to be making music with the band that you feel is still as good as it’s ever been.”


Tentatively entitled Songs of Ascent, early 2011

What they’re saying: Originally, U2 had plans to release material from their No Line on the Horizon sessions that, for one reason or another, didn’t fit on the record. It’s unsure if that’s still the plan, but Gnarls Barkley producer Danger Mouse and Black Eyed Pea have been confirmed as co-producers on the band’s next LP. “”I went to Bono’s house for lunch and George Clooney and Cindy Crawford were there,” said  ”I played some of the songs we’d been working on together and everyone was blown away. They all left the finger food to come and hear.”

Amy Winehouse

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: It’s been over four years since Amy Winehouse wowed the world with Back to Black, and considering the drug and legal issues she’s been facing, it’s not surprising that she hasn’t released any new music since then. Still, things are beginning to look more promising than ever as a cover of Leslie Gore’s “It’s My Party” surfaced and Winehouse completed her first performance in two years at a private party in Russia. The singer was paid 1.5 million pounds to sing for an unnamed Russian business man. “‘It was certainly a lot of money for such a short trip, but she is clearly glad to be back on stage. 2011 is going to be a big year for her,” a friend of hers told The Mail.


As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: Beyonce’s third solo record should have something for everyone, according to the singer. “I’m mixing every type of genre that I love,” she said. “It’s not R&B. It’s not typically pop. It’s not rock. It’s just everything I love all mixed together in my own little gumbo of music.” Rumored to be on board for the next record is songwriter and producer The-Dream, the man behind “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).”

MUSIC: Britney Spears: Still "Not Yet a Woman?"

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Music

After all these years, Britneys still not a girl, not yet a woman.

After all these years, Britney's still "not a girl, not yet a woman."

The much beleaguered Britney Spears has reason to celebrate this week: for only the third time in her career, she’ll have a song debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is called “3” and addresses the singer’s desire to participate in a threesome. Risqué, yes, but also not surprising given that other current top pop songs debate the merits of “disco sticks” (“LoveGame”), girl-on-girl action (“I Kissed a Girl”), and redeemable lechery (“Whatcha Say”).

For Spears’ song to debut on top of the charts, a lot of people have to want to listen to it, but that doesn’t mean she can pull off the extroverted sexuality as well as her slightly younger contemporaries. While the instrumentation in “3” is reasonably interesting and the lyrics seem like they should fit right in, there’s still a lot of Spears’ characteristic voice in the song.

Overall, it’s fast, fun and danceable, but that voice — especially during the breakdown in the song’s final third — still seems way too girlish to be interested in a ménage a trois. If you’re a diehard fan, that’s probably a good thing; but it left me feeling confused and slightly disconcerted that, even layered with heavy robot-voice effects, Britney sounds more like a girl about to have her first kiss than a woman who’s down with promiscuity.

To be fair, “3” suffers less from this problem than other recent Spears singles like “Womanizer” or “Circus.” In fact, with its catchy hooks, “3” is really a fair-to-middling effort from someone who has stumbled in recent years. Still, the song serves as a subtle reminder that Britney is something of a relic in today’s pop world; when she started out, ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys were pumping out fairly innocent, safe hits about teeny-bopper love.

Those artists who began in the late ’90s and have managed to stay relevant — people like Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé — have done so by maturing. They didn’t just release increasingly more marketable techno-pop songs, they actually cultivated a grown-up image. (Timberlake, for example, has shown a surprising sense of irony by starring in all those Lonely Island/SNL videos, and Beyoncé seemed downright matronly next to Taylor Swift at this year’s VMAs.)

In that environment, even a relatively strong single from Britney Spears like “3” seems outdated, mostly because it sounds like Britney Spears. If you can listen to the edgy collaborations between Jay-Z and Alicia Keys or Rihanna, or the intentionally absurd sex-pastiche of Lady Gaga, why listen to Britney when she sounds like she’s still “not a girl, not yet a woman?” Her songs have recently shown development, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into maturity or artistic progress. As someone who (to my own endless surprise) has lately developed an affinity for mainstream dance music, I can only hope that Britney Spears will take what works from “3” and figure out a way to translate it into some legitimate maturity.

Jim Dalrymple is a pop culture writer for Rhombus. He thinks more about Britney Spears than anyone else has in at least five years.