Monthly Archives: June 2010

Miranda Lambert, "Only Prettier"

With her brilliant single, “The House That Built Me,” spending four weeks at number one, Miranda Lambert is releasing her fourth single from her ACM award-winning album, Revolution. Is the rowdy anthem “Only Prettier” good enough to extend Lambert’s streak of number ones to three in a row?

Written by Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby, “Only Prettier” is a twang-filled, southern rocker that finds Lambert singing about the comparison between charmful southern girls and those girls that are not so charmful. The song opens with a twangy guitar hook, which unfortunately, is the production’s highlight. Once the vocals kick in so does a wild production which includes blaring guitars that all but drown out the steel guitar riffs and Lambert’s vocal performance.

That said vocal performance has what it takes to be one of Miranda’s finest had it been paired with a lighter production. However, she is still able to deliver the song with plenty of her signature sass and tough girl attitude.

Overall, the song is saved by the songwriting which is done brilliantly. From the opening verse about Miranda having a “mouth like a sailor” while other girls are “more like a Hallmark card” to the catchy chorus about the two cliques reaching across party lines and shaking hands. Though the entire song is brilliantly written, its the last couple of lines in the chorus that I personally love: “…we got a lot a common you will see/we’re just like you/only prettier.”

This is a fantastic follow-up to the sure to be award-winning “The House That Built Me.” Not only does it stick true to Miranda’s views as an artist, but it once again shows her willingness to take risks with her song choices. Unlike most country artists who choose to release more “radio-friendly” songs over their finest work, Miranda keeps going against the trend and releasing brilliant tracks from Revolution. I believe this will be another smash hit from Miranda and could possibly all but wrap up the Female Vocalist award at this fall’s CMA awards.

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of June 14 – 20

For the fourth straight week in a row, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert stay put atop the Billboard country charts. Read the Flash to find out who follows them this week.

Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now spends its 21st week atop the Billboard Country Albums chart by seling an additional 40,000 copies. The album’s total sales are now just under the 2.3 million mark. Returning to the runner-up spot this week is the Zac Brown Band with its album, The Foundation. Last week’s number 2 album, Dierks Bentley’s Up on the Ride, slides down into the third spot. Miranda Lambert’s Revolution jumps back into the top 5 at number 4 on the heels of her single, “The House That Built Me,” holding strong at number one on the songs chart. Rounding out the top 5 is Carrie Underwood’s platinum seller, Play On.

On the Hot Country Songs chart, Miranda Lambert resides in the number one spot for a fourth week with “The House That Built Me.” The single becomes the year’s longest running number song to date. Jason Aldean’s “Crazy Town” spends another week at number 2 while Brad Paisley’s “Water” maintains its hold on the number 3 spot. Inching closer to the number 1 spot is Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing” which climbs up one spot to number 4. After cracking the top four last week, Clay Walker slides back to the number 5 spot with his comeback hit, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.”

This week debut songs are led by the Randy Rogers Band’s “Too Late For Goodbye” which bows in at no. 55. Other debut songs include Bomshel’s “Just Fine” (no. 56), Steel Magnolia’s “Just By Being You (Halos and Wings)” (no. 57), and George Strait’s “The Breath You Take” (no. 58). This week’s largest leap comes from Toby Keith who jumps up nine spots to no. 46 with “Trailerhood.”

That’s it for this week’s Chart Flash, I would try to build some suspense for next week’s charts but more than likely Lady A and Miranda Lambert will occupy the top spots for a fifth week. But, someone could pull off an upset. Come back next week to find out!

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of June 7 – 13

The big story on this week’s Billboard country charts was the dogfight between Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now and Dierks Bentley’s latest release, Up on the Ridge, for the top spot on the Albums chart. It was a fight to the finish and the winner barely snuck past the runner-up by less than 800 copies. Find out who finished atop the albums chart as well as the Hot Country Songs chart.

Facing its biggest challenge since its release 20 weeks ago, Lady Antebellum’s huge sophomore album, Need You Now, barely hung onto the top spot on the Country Albums chart over Dierks Bentley’s Up on the Ridge. Lady A sold another 38,865 copies to remain at number 1 while Bentley sold 38,097 copies to come in second. Lady A brings its total sales for Need You Now to just past 2.25 million copies which means it could see triple platinum status before year’s end. Debuting in third is Jewel’s latest release, Sweet and Wild, while Zac Brown Band slides to number 4 with The Foundation. Rounding out the top five is Clay Walker with his newest release, She Won’t Be Lonely Long.

Over on the Hot Country Songs chart, Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” stays atop the chart for a third straight week. Jason Aldean’s “Crazy Town” and Brad Paisley’s “Water” remain in their same positions, no. 2 and 3 respectively, for the second week. Climbing up one to number 4 is Clay Walker with his smash hit, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.” Making its first appearance in the top five is Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing” which climbs up two from 7 to 5. That gives Bryan his third top five single of his growing career.

Leading this week’s debut singles is Toby Keith’s “Trailerhood” which bows in a no. 55 while Sunny Sweeney’s latest, “From A Table Away,” debuts at no. 58. Eric Church’s “Smoke A Little Smoke” makes an impressive 11 spot leap from no. 57 to no. 46.

With Lady Antebellum holding off four debut albums this week, it might be safe to say they’ll extend their run at number one to 21 weeks next week. Over on the singles chart, we’ll see if Miranda Lambert can occupy the top spot for a fourth straight week or if Jason Aldean will nab his fourth consecutive number one hit. Find out what happens in next week’s Chart Flash.

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Julianne Hough, "Is That So Wrong?"

Julianne Hough first hit the country radio airwaves back in 2008 with her debut single, “That Song in My Head.” The single was somewhat successful on the charts (it peaked inside the top 20), but wasn’t the smash hit Hough and her label, Mercury Records, were hoping for. Now Hough is back with her newest single, “Is That So Wrong?” Will this song serve as Julianne’s breakthrough, career-making hit or will it be a career-breaking single?

Julianne Hough’s transition to country music has been well documented. She first came to light on the hit reality show, Dancing with the Stars, as a professional dancer. After becoming a fan favorite on the show, Hough decided to venture into her true passion: country music. After her debut self-titled album hit number one on the country albums chart, she decided to temporarily hang up her dancing shoes to fully invest in her music career. During that time she connected and began dating fellow country newcomer, Chuck Wicks. Ultimately, the relationship came to an end and now Hough finds herself as just another single gal.

On “Is That So Wrong?” it’s hard to wonder if her failed relationship with Wicks was the inspiration behind the song. Written by Julianne with Sarah Buxton and Blair Daily, this mid-tempo song deals with its narrator just wanting love and someone to hold after going through a breakup. Julianne does an excellent job at delivering lines about not wanting to be alone and just wanting someone to hold. Though the lyrics aren’t spectacular, they do what they’re supposed to and that’s deliver a message.

The production producer Dann Huff comes up with fits both Julianne’s new found style as well as the song. The booming sound of drums, electric guitar, and steel blend well together and deliver a great current, mainstream sound. Julianne’s vocal performance is controlled and stays within her vocal range. She does a great job at making sure her voice is the center of attention and not the booming production.

Her debut album gave us the sweet innocent Julianne we all fell in love with on Dancing with the Stars, but it became clear that country music didn’t really care for that side of Hough. Now by changing producers and singing more mature songs, it should be interesting to see how she’ll be accepted at country radio. However, she’s taking a step in the right direction with this song and it could turn out to be the door busting song she needs to get to the next level.

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Steel Magnolia, "Just By Being You (Halo and Wings)"

Steel Magnolia bursted onto the scene last year after winning CMT’s Can You Duet? talent competition. After their first song hit the top five, the duo is releasing its follow up single, “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),” to radio. Will the single be able to match the success of their smash debut single, “Keep on Lovin’ You?”

Steel Magnolia’s first single, “Keep On Lovin’ You,” was an infectious country-pop tune about a couple’s love. On the follow up single, “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),” the duo delivers a ballad about – at least I think it’s about – loving someone just the way they are. The lyrics don’t clearly spell out a certain theme so that’s why it’s hard to determine one.

The problem I’m having with this song is the lack of purpose. After reading the lyrics, I find myself a bit puzzled in the fact that there’s no message being delivered in the song other than the one that’s delivered in the title itself. Other than that, the song is basically filled with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t need to be there. The production is decent but lacks any originality that is needed to standout on country radio. The song’s only saving grace is the vocal performance the twosome delivers.

I’ll admit that I’m a fan of Steel Magnolia and have been since their run on Can You Duet? but I’m a little disappointed that their talent is being wasted on songs like this. Hopefully their label president Scott Borchetta will stop investing everything he has into Taylor Swift and spend some time with this fantastic duo. Widgets

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of May 31 – June 6

For the second straight week, 2010’s biggest country artists occupy the top of Billboard’s Country Albums and Hot Country Songs Charts. Find out who trails Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert on this week’s charts.

On the albums chart, Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now spends its 19th week at number one on the chart. The last album that was number one this year was Taylor Swift’s Fearless way back in the last week of January. Follow Lady A is The Foundation by Zac Brown Band who reclaim the number two spot this week. After spending a week oustide the top five, Miranda Lambert’s Revolution leaps back into the number three spot. Climbing up one spot to number four is Carrie Underwood with Play On while Taylor Swift’s Fearless rounds out the top five.

On the Hot Country Songs chart, Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” spends its second week atop the chart, becoming her first multi-week number one single. Leaping two spots to second is Jason Aldean, who is looking for his fourth consecutive number one single, with “Crazy Town.” Making its first appearance in the top five after climbing to number three is Brad Paisley’s “Water.” Slipping two spots to number four is Chris Young’s former number one, “The Man I Want to Be.” Rounding out the top five is Clay Walker with “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.” This is Walker’s first trip to the top five since 2007’s “Fall” peaked at number five.

Making their debuts this week are James Wesley’s “Real” at no. 56 and Jewel’s “Satisfied” at no. 59. Making this week’s biggest jump is Lady Antebellum with their newest single, “Our Kind of Love,” which jumps up 9 spots to no. 29.

This week saw the release of Dierks Bentley’s bluegrass-influenced album, Up on the Ridge, so we could see the end of Lady Antebellum’s amazing run atop the Albums chart. Meanwhile, Jason Aldean’s “Crazy Town” has been gaining momentum at radio so we could also see Miranda Lambert’s run atop the Hot Country Songs chart come to an end as well. See if anyone can pull off the upsets in next week’s Chart Flash. Widgets

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Leann Rimes, "Swingin’"

Leann Rimes hasn’t reached the top ten on the charts since she nearly hit number one back in 2006 with “Something’s Gotta Give.” With her career in a bit of a slump, it’s a bit of a surprise that she’s chosen to release an album of cover songs rather than delivering new music. The first single off her upcoming Lady and Gentlemen album is a cover of John Anderson’s flirty 1983 classic, “Swingin’.” Does Leann do enough with the song to make it a hit for this generation of country fans?

On “Swingin’,” Leann Rimes takes a fearless plunge into recreating the song and making it fit her style and personality. Obviously Leann had to go from singing about Charlotte Johnson to Charlie Johnson instead. The song has always been a flirtatious ditty about a young infatuation but Rimes manages to make the song more energetic and flirtatious with her delivery and production changes.

Rather than being filled with horns and organ are left behind and are replaced by killer guitar playing from producer Vince Gill and fantastic steel riffs. In fact, it’s easy to see this song being played back in the 1990’s because the production is similiar to some of Gill’s uptempo classics from that decade. The tempo of the song has been increased to become more energetic and playful. Meanwhile Leann provides excellent articulation and avoids slurring words together to keep up with the song’s quicker tempo.

It’ll be interesting to see if Leann can compete with the current country-pop fluff that is filling the airwaves right now with this country ditty. But, whether it gains radio play or not, this is probably one of Leann Rimes’ strongest singles to date.

Listen to the song below.

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Danny Gokey, "I Will Not Say Goodbye"

American Idol alum Danny Gokey first hit the charts last year with his debut single, “My Best Days are Ahead of Me.” After the single barely cracked the top 25 on the country songs chart, Gokey is hoping his latest release, “I Will Not Say Goodbye,” will help push him further up the charts. Does “Goodbye” have what it takes to resonate among country’s radio audience?
What I love about country music is that it has the potential to help its listeners deal and overcome the pain of heartache. On Danny Gokey’s latest single, “I Will Not Say Goodbye,” he delivers a song that does just that. However, instead of having to overcome the pain of a breakup like most songs do, this one deals with the pain of losing someone unexpectedly and how hard it is to say goodbye.

Having lost his wife Sophia back in 2008, it’s no wonder why he pours every bit of heart and soul he has into this Lari White, Chuck Cannon, and Vicky McGehee song. With lyrics as heartbreaking as the ones found in the chorus (I don’t want to feel better/I don’t to not remember/I will always see your face/In the shadows of this haunted place/I will laugh, I will cry/Shake my fist at the sky/but I will not say goodbye) it’s extremely hard to not find yourself feeling the emotion that Danny’s vocal performance evokes.The production that producer Mark Bright conjures up is extremely haunting and allows Gokey’s vocals to take center stage and never overshadows them.

His ability to emote emotions into every viewer on American Idol was what helped him reach the final three and proved what kind of artist he should be. Though the other songs on his debut album, My Best Days, lacks the soulfulness he showed on Idol, he more than makes up for it with this song which I feel is definitely the highlight of the album.  

Among today’s country radio hits, it’s extremely difficult to find a song that is delivered with as much heart, soul, and emotion like this song. I have a feeling this will be Gokey’s breakout hit and will most likely become the signature song off his debut album. Widgets

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Southern Voice Tour 2010: Tim McGraw with Lady Antebellum and Love and Theft

Tim McGraw was the headliner during his Southern Voice Tour 2010 stop in Phoenix, Arizona, but it was super-trio Lady Antebellum who stole the show.

Country music superstar Tim McGraw brought his Southern Voice Tour to Phoenix’s Cricket Wireless Pavillion last night as well as special guests Lady Antebellum and Love and Theft.

It was newcomers Love and Theft who got the night started with a short five song set that included current single “Dancing In Circles” as well as their smash hit “Runaway.” Also, the group threw in their version of Martina McBride’s single “Wrong Baby Wrong,” which they helped write. Though the group only had a 15 minute set, they were able to get the small crowd ready for the main opening act, Lady Antebellum.
After a quick 15 minute intermisison, country’s newest superstars Lady Antebellum took the stage with their song “Stars Tonight, ” which is off their double platinum album, Need You Now. “Stars” proved to be the perfect opener as it got the near capacity crowd on their feet rocking out. They continued with their debut smash single, “Love Don’t Live Here” as well as the soulful ballad “When You Got a Good Thing.” The group mainly pulled songs from their Need You Now album to fill their 50 minute set including the smash singles “Need You Now” and “American Honey.” Other songs included the set’s highlight, “Hello World,” as well as “Perfect Day,” and their current single, “Our Kind of Love.” Lady A is no stranger to cover songs and they threw in one for kicks which was “R.O.C.K in the USA,” which was a great sing-along-song for the crowd. The only songs they performed from their debut self-titled album were the lead off single as well as “Lookin’ For A Good Time” and their award-winning, number one “I Run to You,” which they closed their set with.

Having gone on tour with now fellow superstars like Martina McBride and Kenny Chesney, it’s easy to see how much they’ve learned when it comes to performing live. All three members of the group made sure each of them spent equal amounts of time at every end of the stage and on the catwalk extended into the crowd. Unlike some groups who rarely stick together on stage, Lady A seemingly spent most of the time standing together and feeding off each other’s energy. Their vocals, led by Charles Kelly and Hillary Scott, were spot on and their harmonies were tight. With their first headlining tour coming up this fall, it won’t be surprising to see the name Lady Antebellum show up as Entertainer of the Year nominees next year.

After Lady Antebellum got the crowd rocking and on its feet, it was time for Tim McGraw to take the stage. McGraw opened his set with his hit “Real Good Man” and started a run of uptempo hits like “Last Dollar (Fly Away),” “Down on the Farm,” “I Like It, I Love It,” and “Where the Green Grass Grows.” Throughout his 90 minute set, McGraw included hits from throughout his career from early favorites like “Just to See You Smile” to his latest single, “Still.” About halfway through his set he did acoustic renditions of hits like “Everywhere” and “If You’re Reading This,” the latter of which he sang with bandmates the Warren Brothers. Also in his set were favorites “She’s My Kind of Rain,” “Let It Go,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Something Like That.” In an attempt to “go to church,” McGraw asked for some “Amens” and “Hallelujah’s” from the crowd before singing “Things Change.” He ended his main set with “Southern Voice” and returned for an encore which included hits “Live Like You Were Dyin'” and “Cowboy in Me.”

Throughout his entire set, it was clear Tim was rather hyper, or overly excited, because he would jump up and down and ask the crowd to scream and “give it up” several times, which became rather annoying. Unlike opening act Lady Antebellum, McGraw mainly focused on staying center stage and spending most of his time on the catwalk rather than going to the sidestages. Overall, his setlist could’ve been organized better rather than loading the first third with uptempo songs and having the remainder of the show filled with slow ballads, he could’ve distributed the uptempo songs more throughout the second half of his set. All in all, his set was fairly weak, a bit boring, and he found himself being outperformed by Lady Antebellum.

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of May 24 – May 30

This week’s Billboard country charts are topped by the two artists that owned the night during this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. For an amazing 18th consecutive week, the remarkable sophomore album from five time ACM award winner, Lady Antebellum, stays put atop the Country Albums chart. Meanwhile, three time winner Miranda Lambert scores her second straight number one song as “The House That Built Me” reaches the summit on the Hot Country Songs chart. Find out who follows Lady A and Miranda in this week’s Chart Flash.

Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now sold another 46,000 copies to bring the album’s total sales to just over 2.17 million copies. Benefiting from the ACM presented tribute special, The Last Rodeo, Brooks & Dunn’s #1’s & Then Somes leapfrogs into the number two position. Slipping down to number three is the Zac Brown Band’s debut, The Foundation. Making its debut at number four is Hank III’s Rebel Within while Carrie Underwood’s Play On album holds strong in the number five position.

Over on the Hot Country Songs chart, Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” climbs up one spot to number one, bumping last week’s most played song, Chris Young’s “The Man I Want to Be,” to the second spot. Keeping a strong hold on the number three spot is George Strait with his latest smash “I Gotta Get to You” while Jason Aldean jumps up two spots to land at number four with “Crazy Town.” Rouding out the top five for another week is Joe Nichols’ former number one, “Gimme That Girl.”

Only two songs made their debut this week including Justin Moore with his latest single, “How I Got To Be This Way,” which comes in at number 54. The other song is Frankie Ballard’s “Tell Me You Get Lonely” which bows in at no. 59. Billy Currington’s “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” and Lady Antebellum’s “Our Kind of Love” both jumped up 12 spots to the number 36 and 38 positions, respectively.

Miranda Lambert now has two number ones under her belt but she hasn’t had a multi-week stay in the pole position. Will “House” become her first multiple week number one? Or will another song come from behind to knock her off? Find out if she can stay atop the charts in next week’s Billboard Chart Flash.

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