Monthly Archives: April 2010

Billboard Chart Flash: Week of April 19 – 25

For the first time in 2010, one artist can say they finally bumped power trio Lady Antebellum from the top of the charts. Which chart was Lady A dethroned from and who is the lucky artist who did it? Find out in this week’s Billboard Chart Flash.

If you thought Lady A was finally overtaken on the albums chart, you’d be wrong. For the thirteenth consecutive week, Lady Antebellum’s now double platinum album, Need You Now, holds the top spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. The trio sold nearly 82,800 copies bringing the albums total units sold to 1.852 million. Holding steady at number two is Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation. After claiming the Album of the Year award during the ACM awards, Miranda Lambert’s Revolution vaults from six to number three this week while the latest single, “The House That Built Me,” also jumps from thirteen to number nine on the singles chart. Debuting at number four is Willie Nelson with his latest release, Country Music. Rounding out the top five this week is reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year, Carrie Underwood with her album Play On.

Over on the singles chart, Joe Nichols leaps from number three to the top spot with his smash hit, “Gimme that Girl.” Nichols bumps Lady Antebellum’s recent number one, “American Honey,” down to the second spot. Climbing up one to the number three spot is Kenny Chesney with “Ain’t Back Yet” while Chris Young’s “That Man I Want to Be” continues its steady climb up the charts to land at number four. Sliding down three spots to round out the top five singles is Zac Brown Band’s “Highway 20 Ride.”

Leading this week’s debut singles is Kellie Pickler’s “Makin’ Me Fall In Love Again” which comes in at no. 53. Following Pickler is Montgomery Gentry’s “While You’re Still Young” (no. 59), and LoCash Cowboys’ “Here Comes Summer” (no. 60).

In a week where, once again, no big albums were released, look to Lady A’s Need You Now to spend a fourteenth week at number one on the albums chart. The big story will be if Joe Nichols can hold onto the number one spot on the singles chart or if someone will dethrone him after just one week. Find out on next week’s Billboard Chart Flash.

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Josh Turner, "All Over Me"

Country crooner Josh Turner recently reached the top of the charts with his hit, “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” With hopes to once again reach that position, he’s released the second single off his album Haywire. During the summer radio season, the airwaves will be filled with fun, uptempo songs that paint images of various summer activities (i.e “Water,” and “Roll With It”). Following the trend, Turner has released “All Over Me” to radio. Is the song original enough to seperate itself from the other songs of summer?

With “All Over Me,” Josh Turner has nailed the formula of what a summer radio song should be. Beginning with the production, Turner conjures up a sound that’s a little bit of blues, a little bit of traditional country, and just mainstream enough to be played on today’s country radio. While most other summer song productions choose to use country-pop beats for an intro, Turner uses a unique blend of piano and guitar that will no doubt cause a bit of shock at country radio. Once the intro finishes, the full band comes in and provides a unique sound that leads you to imagine yourself driving along the beach or ocean with the windows rolled down and blasting this song.

The upbeat production leads right into a song that is most definitely in Turner’s wheel house. The song’s about Turner and his lover heading down to the river to have some fun on a hot day. Lyrically, the song includes some extremely simple, yet catchy, lyrics like the first line of the chorus (bring on the sunshine/bring on a good time/girl let me look at you) and the line about coppertone 45 (grab your shades and your string bikini/and your coppertone 45).

The combination of the lyrics and the production allows Josh to show off his personality and charm that have melted the hearts of many of his female fans. His vocal performance is fairly simple but it only adds to the carefree theme of the song. Overall, the song is a breath of fresh air at country radio and provides the diversity that is lacking among this season’s singles.

To purchase Turner’s “All Over Me,” click on the image below.
All Over Me

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Keith Urban, "I’m In"

For the fifth single from his latest album Defying Gravity Keith Urban has chosen his cover of the Radney Foster song, “I’m In.” With the previous four singles from the album all peaking within the top five, does Keith do enough with this song to make it a hit on today’s mainstream radio?

On “I’m In,” Keith Urban returns to the sounds that have helped launch him to superstardom. Urban uses a killer guitar melody along with a very country pop production that takes you on a bit of a ride. The production is at its softest during the first verse with the full band kicking in during the chorus. Once the song hits the bridge the band all but stops and leaves Keith with just his vocal presence and an accompanying guitar line that builds and builds to a full blown climax with a massive guitar riff. As the song winds down, so does the production until all you hear at the end is Urban delivering the final line of the song.

Keith is no stranger to covering Radney Foster songs. With “Raining on Sunday” being his best, Urban fails to match the connection he made on “Sunday” with “I’m In.” His vocal performance seems a bit lazy and little on the safe side. Even when the production builds to a climax during the bridge, Urban fails to match that rise vocally and relies on the production to execute that climax.

Overall, it’s an unenthusiastic cover of a song. Though he makes an attempt at making the song more current and mainstream, Keith falls a bit short and, instead, delivers a disconnected and tepid country pop song. Though it’s not his best artistically, it’ll most likely be another big hit for Urban.

To purchase the song, click the image below.

I'm In


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Laura Bell Bundy, Achin’ and Shakin’

Last Tuesday, broadway-turned-country star Laura Bell Bundy released her first album on Mercury Records Nashville titled Achin’ and Shakin’. In an effort to seperate herself from other newcomers, Bundy’s album takes a massive risk in delivering two six pack albums in one. Is the risk executed well enough to make Bundy a country superstar, or does it fall flat?

The first half of this twelve song set is the Achin’ portion of the album, which focuses on some finely executed pop country ballads. The album opens with the sultry “Drop On By” which Laura Bell shows off her intimate, soulful vocal tone. She uses that tone and a bit of a soulful growl on most of the songs on this portion including “Cigarette” and the heartbreaking “Please.”

The production of the Achin’ portion is very soft and intimate. Producer Nathan Chapman does an excellent job at making sure the production isn’t over done and allows the focal point to be Bundy’s voice and nothing else. She’s rarely accompanied by more than just a few instruments in each song which allows you to image her just sitting there in a studio surrounded by a few musicians recording with one microphone. The more country songs include plenty of steel and acoustic guitar often mixed with a fiddle or a small string group.

The highlight of this portion is the fantastic “Curse the Bed.” This song allows Bundy to not only show off her sultry voice, but also to show off what could be her acting skills as she wails the song with so much pain and emotion. Accompanied by light strings and acoustic guitar, she sings about destroying the bed where the love of an old relationship was made in an effort to rid herself of the memories.

The <i>Achin'</i> portion of the album closes with “When It All Goes South” which sticks to the production of the previous songs; thus, resulting in a fantastic first of a two part album. Nathan Chapman, who has also produced for Taylor Swift and Jewel, sets the bar really high for Shakin’ producers Mike Shimshack and Kyle Kelso. Unfortunately, Shimshack and Kelso fail to reach that bar with the second portion of the album.

Although Shakin’ shows off more of Bundy’s bubbly personality, it also loses the tight and controlled production that Achin’ acheived. Lead by the her debut single, “Giddy On Up,” this second set of songs has Bundy loosely singing her way through an incohesive set of sassy uptempo numbers. Unlike the first half of the album, the production of this set includes many, if not all, instruments which have been mashed together in attempt to walk the fine line between country-pop and pop-country.

The over-production further makes a mess out of songs like “Rebound” and the out of control “If You Want My Love.” If I had to choose a highlight of the Shakin’ portion of this album, it would have to be “I’m No Good (For Ya Baby)” mainly based on the fact that it’s the least over produced of the six songs. Other than that, this portion of the album, though a tad more enjoyable from a tempo standpoint, is a complete mess. However, I have to give big props to Bundy for allowing her big personality to show through on this set.

Overall, this is a solid album. It’ll be interesting to see what songs Bundy and her label choose to release as singles after “Giddy On Up” because it’s hard to imagine most of these songs on the radio. It’s clear that Bundy has the goods to become a star in country music but may need to ditch producers Shimshack and Kelso in the future to avoid another carwreck that is Shakin’.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Click on the link below to purchase Achin’ and Shakin’

Achin' And Shakin'

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of April 12 – 18

After having an amazing week that ended with five ACM award wins, Lady Antebellum continues to dominate both the Country Albums and Hot Country Songs charts for the second straight week. So, in what’s become a weekly ritual, we’ll be focusing on who came in behind Lady A on both charts.

On the albums chart, Lady A’s unstoppable sophomore album, Need You Now, sold another 65,300 copies to hold on to the number one spot. This week’s sales lifts the album’s total to over 1.7 million albums sold, which means the album could be double platinum in about a month or so. Moving up to the number two spot his week is Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation which pushes Alan Jackson’s Freight Train down to the number three spot. Holding strong at number four is Taylor Swift’s sophomore effort, Fearless. Rounding out the top five is the debut album from Laura Bell Bundy, Achin’ and Shakin’, which sold nearly 15,000 copies in its first week out.

Meanwhile on the Hot Country Songs chart, Lady Antebellum spends another week at number one with their hit single, “American Honey.” Holding steady at number two is Zac Brown Band’s “Highway 20 Ride” while Joe Nichols’ hit “Gimme That Girl” jumps up two spots to number three. Spending a second week at number four is Kenny Chesney with his latest hit, “Ain’t Back Yet.” Finally, Chris Young scores his second consecutive top five hit with “The Man I Want to Be,” which climbs up to the number five spot.

This week a whopping seven songs made their debuts and leading the way is Carrie Underwood with her latest, “Undo It,” which comes in at number 43. Underwood is follwed by Kevin Fowler’s “Pound Sign” (no. 52), Zac Brown Band’s “Free” (no. 54), Chris Janson’s “‘Til A Woman Comes Along” (no. 56), Alan Jackson’s “Hard Hat and a Hammer” (no. 57), Easton Corbin’s “Roll With It” (no. 58), and Dierks Bentley’s “Up on the Ridge” (no. 59).

With some albums expected to get a boost from last week’s ACM awards, it’ll be interesting to see if any album can come close to knocking off Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now. Over on the singles chart, we’ll see if Joe Nichols can make a leap to number one or if the Zac Brown Band will end Lady A’s streak. Find out on next week’s Billboard Chart Flash.

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Concert Review: Country Thunder 2010

Every year Country Thunder rolls into the small Arizona town of Florence and turns it into one of the hottest places to be. Some of country music’s biggest stars have played the four day festival during their careers and this year’s lineup was one of the best Arizona has seen. The nightly headliners included Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and Kid Rock. I was able to get away from the city of Mesa to go catch a few artists performing on Friday.

The entire Friday lineup included newcomers Love and Theft, Trailor Choir, and Randy Houser as well as fan favorite Luke Bryan. In a rather odd choice, Kevin Costner and Modern West performed in the slot immediately before headliner Keith Urban. Usually I’m able to enjoy a full day of music but this year I was only able to catch Bryan, Costner, and Urban.

While walking onto the grounds Luke Bryan was getting his one hour set started with the title song of his second album, “Doin’ My Thing.” Having seen Bryan for the first time a couple years ago at Country Thunder, I knew what to expect. His set included radio favorites “Country Man,” “We Rode in Trucks,” and his current single, “Rain is a Good Thing.” The highlight of his set came when he delivered his first number one hit, “Do I,” which had most of the rowdy crowd singing right along. Bryan closed his set with his debut single, “All My Friends Say,” which he mashed up with Metallica’s hit, “Enter Sandman.” Though he made the most of his one hour time limit, it’s a little strange to wonder why he didn’t occupy the slot right before Keith Urban.

After a fairly short intermission, Kevin Costner and Modern West took the stage. To be honest, I didn’t really pay attention to his set. However, judging by the remarks of the drunk people behind us, he didn’t quite live up to the final opening slot. From what I saw and heard, Costner spent most of his set talking about the songs rather than just singing them. As far as the music’s concerned, it sounding most like southern rock than country.

Once Costner ended his set, there was a 30-minute intermisison before Keith Urban kicked off his nearly two hour set with his hit “Kiss a Girl.” As usual, the opening number lead right into his early hit, “Days Go By.” Accompanied by his usual gigantic high resolution screen in the background, Urban sampled most of his biggest hits while showing off his masterful guitar skills. Among the early songs were “Stupid Boy,” “Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me,” and “Sweet Thing.” Unlike Luke Bryan and Kevin Costner before him, Urban took full advantage of the provided cat walk throughout his entire set often finishing songs at the end of the catwalk.

Urban has become a pro at creating a setlist that not only includes plenty of his uptempo hits but also plenty of his ballads, which were among his set’s highlights. Among the ballads were his recent hit, “‘Til Summer Comes Around,” the extended version of his hit “You’ll Think of Me,” and the somber “Tonight I Wanna Cry.” The highlight was when Keith sang a couple of his hits acoustically, including “Only You Can Love Me This Way.”

The general admission crowd got a little bit closer to Keith when he ran through most of the field during his song “You Look Good In My Shirt,” which was a bit of a surprise. After closing his main set with the smash hit “Better Life,” he came back to close the night with his smash hit “Somebody Like You.” I’ve attended several Keith Urban concerts and I have to say they never get old. Though the sound is better in an arena, Keith was still able to sound fantastic at the outdoor festival. He was also able to captivate the entire audience, from the VIP seating area up front to all the partiers in the general admission area. It’s no wonder he’s been a mulitple nominee, and winner, of the Entertainer of the Year award.

If you live in Arizona, the annual Country Thunder festival is always a must-see. If you don’t live in Arizona, another festival is always held in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin every year as well. Even if you don’t want to go to the festival, you should still see Keith Urban in concert if you have a chance.

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2010 ACM’s Crown New Standard Bearers in Country Music

With Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Lady Antebellum taking home seven of the eleven total awards at the 45th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, it’s safe to say that they have become the new ambassadors for country music.

After a decade where superstars Kenny Chesney, Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill were country’s torch bearers, the Academy of Country Music presented the artists they think will represent country music this decade, and Taylor Swift isn’t one of them.

On Sunday night, Carrie Underwood continued to be a force to be reckoned with when she won her second consecutive Entertainer of the Year award, becoming the first female to win twice. Going into the show, Taylor Swift was widely considered the favorite while Underwood was predicted to be left behind. However, it was Underwood’s huge and dedicated fanbase that powered their artist to the win. After 2009 was the year of Taylor Swift, it’s easy to forget that Carrie had another solid year with her latest album, Play On, going platinum and continuing her streak of number one radio hits. It’s a great thing for country music to have such a powerhouse and widely loved artist as its leading lady, and now, leading entertainer.

Along with Underwood, the ACM’s made Miranda Lambert a big winner by rewarding her with three wins in the Video of the Year, Album of the Year, and Top Female Vocalist of the Year categories. In a decade where country music has gone more mainstream, this blonde beauty has stuck to her roots by incorporating traditional country music with a mixture of southern rock and bluegrass which has finally launched her to a new level of stardom. After finishing third in the first season of Nashville Star, Lambert has consistently been an often overlooked artist while other female artists have risen, and some fallen, from superstardom while she’s been put on the backburner. However, after finally reaching the top of the charts for the first time with her smash hit, “White Liar,” Miranda has finally earned the praise and accolades shes deserved for so long. Look to Miranda Lambert to be the new leader of the mainstream traditionalists in the genre.

The Dixie Chicks and Rascal Flatts have dominated the first decade of the new millenium, but now a new trio has emerged as country’s leading supergroup. On Sunday night, Lady Antebellum picked up three ACM awards which included both the Song of the Year and Single Record of the Year awards for their smash hit, “Need You Now.” Along with the two wins for “Need You Now,” the group won their first, of what could be many, Top Vocal Group of the Year trophy. Only two years after the release of its debut album, Lady Antebellum have already proven they have the potential to take country music by storm and dominate the vocal group category for many years to come.

With Underwood, Lambert, and Lady A as the genre’s newest superstars, the future of country music is in extremely good hands. Though it’s only a day after the awards, it’s hard to think that these three artists won’t have big nights at this fall’s Country Music Association awards.

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