Friday, April 29, 2005

You Oughta Know: Billboard Chart Update

Here are the Top 10 albums and Top 10 singles on the Billboard charts this week:

The Billboard 200:
1. Rob Thomas - ...Something To Be
2. Mariah Carey - The Emancipation Of Mimi
3. Mike Jones - Who Is Mike Jones?
4. Il Divo - Il Divo
5. 50 Cent - The Massacre
6. Gwen Stefani - Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
7. The Killers - Hot Fuss
8. Green Day - American Idiot
9. Various Artistes - Now 18
10. Soundtrack - Three 6 Mafias Presents Choices II: The Setup

The Billboard Hot 100:
1. Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani
2. Hate It Or Love It - The Game Featuring 50 Cent
3. Candy Shop - 50 Cent Featuring Olivia
4. Lonely - Akon
5. Oh - Ciara Featuring Ludacris
6. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
7. Lonely No More - Rob Thomas
8. Speed Of Sound - Coldplay
9. Obsessions (No Es Amor) - Frankie J Featuring Baby Bash
10. 1 Thing - Amerie

I'm glad Gwen Stefani ended 50 Cent's 9-week reign on the Hot 100...simply can't stand Candy Shop! It's a tuneless song, just beats and mumbling. How can that be considered a song? And worse still, how can that be at #1 for 9 weeks?

I cannot understand the appeal of 50 Cent man. His earlier hits from the first album,
In Da Club, 21 Questions and P.I.M.P. were still not bad, but Candy Shop? Anyway, I think something is very wrong with 50 Cent and the way kids these days worship him. The way he spews the N-word, it's as if it doesn't matter anymore. He's delivering the wrong message to little kids man, as Eminem would say.

But anyway, I don't really like
Hollaback Girl too. It's not as melodious as What You Waiting For? or even Rich Girl, but somehow it's there at #1. Gwen is doing really well as a solo artiste, but I hope she will still record stuff with No Doubt in the future.

Speed Of Sound is the Hot Shot Debut this week. According to Fred Bronson's column Chart Beat, Coldplay is the only the second U.K. group in the history of the Hot 100 to have a single debut inside the Top 10, the first being The Beatles of course. If it goes to #1, it will be Coldplay's first #1 single.

Anyway, I'm sure you've noticed that the music landscape has changed over the years. The charts are now dominated by Hip-Hop/pseudo R&B songs and acts. Why pseudo R&B? Cos the real R&B isn't like that. The only mainstream artiste who is pure R&B right now is Alicia Keys. She evokes memories of the golden era of the 60's, where Aretha Franklin was queen. And her voice is sooo smooth.
If I Ain't Got You has got to be my favourite song last year.

Also, collaborations are now part-and-parcel of the business. In the past, the pairing up of 2 big artistes would be like heaven and it was a one-in-a-million thing. These days, we hardly get excited anymore that Ludacris is teaming up with Justin Timberlake, or everyone else with 50 Cent (not again?!).

CD sales are on a downward trend, but I don't see much hope for the music industry if it keeps churning out all these Hip-Hop acts that are really, all the same. Sensations like Usher, Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Outkast (notice they're all black) come only once every few years. Let's see who will be the next real breakout star.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

You Oughta Know: Upcoming Releases That Matter

Summer is not only a time for Hollywood blockbusters but it is also a time when the biggest acts in music release their guns. Here are the upcoming albums that matter (to me at least):

Dave Matthews Band: Stand Up
Release date: May 10th
This is Dave Matthews Band's (DMB) 6th studio album since they first came onto the scene with their breakthrough album Under The Table And Dreaming in 1994. Comprised of frontman Dave Matthews, drummer Carter Beauford, bassist Stefan Lessard, violinist Boyd Tinsley and saxophonist/flautist LeRoi Mooore, DMB has been touring the US every summer and they are one of the most consistent and electrifying live acts around.

They have released more live albums than studio albums, a testament to their amazing musicianship, where they play a different set list every night. You could go watch 2 shows in the same town and you'll get 2 different sets of songs on both nights. I wonder how many bands can afford to do that.

Stand Up will be released as a standard CD as well as a dual-disc, which is a new CD technology that is fast gaining popularity in the music industry. According to the website, the dual-disc is a DVD that includes a short feature of the making of Stand Up plus the album in 24-bit stereo; the audio side contains the full-length album. This means that you get more value for your money and you have the best of both worlds, all on 1 disc. So make sure you get the dual-disc version!

Nine Inch Nails: With Teeth
Release Date: May 3rd
This 7th album by Nine Inch Nails (NIN) is very exciting because it features the amazing Dave Grohl as the guest drummer. I've never been a fan of NIN. In fact, I don't recall any NIN song at all. But Dave Grohl's presence has made me all excited about this album.

Look what he did with Queens of the Stone Age's (QOTSA) Songs For The Deaf. He guest drummed on it as well and it elevated QOTSA to superstardom. So I'll be watching very closely to NIN's With Teeth to see if Dave Grohl can work his wonders again. I'm not counting on him to disappoint me.

And With Teeth will be released as a dual-disc as well (see what I told you about dual-discs getting more popular?), so don't buy the wrong edition!

Coldplay: X&Y
Release date: June 7th
The 2nd biggest band in the world (after U2) releases its highly-anticipated 3rd album this summer. With just 2 albums under its belt, Coldplay has established itself as a credible rock act and survived the sophomore curse with their excellent A Rush Of Blood To The Head [which head? :0) ] 3 years ago.

First single Speed Of Sound premiered this Monday and early reviews describe it as being in the same vein as their previous hit Clocks, and a catchy melody to boot. Expectations are sky-high for this release and you can expect it to be one of the biggest sellers this year.

Anyway, there have been reports that the colourful album cover contains a secret code...trying to ride on the public's fascination with Da Vinci Code I guess...anything with a code sells! Let's see how it'll do.

Oasis: Don't Believe The Truth

Release date: May 30th
With an album title like this, it seems like Oasis is trying to make a statement about the world we live in today. The album appears in this column not because I am super interested in it, but it's more like a wait-and-see thing.

Oasis hasn't lived up to their claim of being the "biggest band in the world", especially after they flopped so magnificently with their Be Here Now album in 1997. Sure, (What's The Story) Morning Glory? still remains a great album, but Oasis has struggled to reproduce the form that catapulted them to success, with their past few efforts being mediocre at best.

However, fan anticipation for this album is still high, and surprisingly in the US, some of their tour dates sold out in an hour. Perhaps they will play Singapore again after their failed attempt 3 years ago, because of the unrest in the region (which I bought tickets to and had to get them refunded).

Foo Fighters: In Your Honor
Release date: June 14th
This album is right on top of my list following DMB's Stand Up. And fans will be rewarded with not one, but two CDs of new material from the Foos. Yes, In Your Honor will be a double CD album!

This is Foo Fighter's (FF) 5th album and it comes almost exactly 10 years after their debut self-titled album. FF has become a credible rock act and Dave Grohl has successfully emerged from Nirvana's shadow to be a rock genius in his own right. This multi-talented musician was the drummer for the biggest band in the 90's and he is now the frontman cum guitarist of one of America's most exciting bands.

FF has grown with each album release and they aim to break new ground with each new album. The first CD of In Your Honor will be a head-banging, no-holds-barred rock album, while the second disc takes a mellow turn. Gasp, Norah Jones even lends her vocals to one of the tracks! However, it should be very exciting to see how it turns out, and I'm very sure FF will not disappoint.

Monday, April 25, 2005

You Oughta Know: Singapore's 20 Greatest Gigs Ever

Pick up this week's issue of I-S contains an interesting list of Singapore's top 20 gigs. Here are the Top 20 according to I-S mag:

1. Michael Jackson, Dangerous World Tour, Aug 29-30, 1993
2. The Rolling Stones, Mar 24 & 26, 2004
3. Buena Vista Social Club, Feb 18, 2001
4. Bjork, Feb 23, 1996
5. Tortoise, Mar 17, 2005
6. David Bowie, Reality Tour, Mar 4, 2004
7. Robbie Williams, Oct 21, 2002
8. Tina Turner, Apr 13, 1996
9. Santana, Apr 18, 1994
10. Pet Shop Boys, Discovery Tour, Oct 26, 1994
11. Travis/Coldplay, Jul 29, 2001
12. Grace Jones, Jun 26, 1997
13. Suede, Mar 7, 1997
14. Metallica, Apr 13, 1993
15. Asian Dub Foundation, WOMAD, Sep 2, 2000
16. Depeche Mode, Devotional Tour, Mar 1, 1994
17. Ryuichi Sakamoto, Trio World Tour, Aug 8, 1996
18. R.E.M., Feb 7, 1995
19. Jay Chou, Incomparable to Jay World Tour, Nov 26-27, 2004
20. Sonic Youth/Foo Fighters, Jan 16, 1996

Number One is Michael Jackson's Dangerous World Tour...why am I not surprised? It was the biggest concert Singapore ever had, no doubt about it. MJ performed at the National Stadium for 2 nights and both nights were sold out. 90,000 people watched him perform and he earned a reported $9 million from the gigs.

It was a real pity I wasn't a fan of him yet at that time. What a waste. But I did go for the HIStory tour in 1996, which was good, but wasn't as huge as the first time he came.

The great thing about the Dangerous Tour is that the National Stadium is a huge arena and only the biggest names can afford to stage a concert there. These days, artistes opt for smaller venues like the Indoor Stadium, which can sit about 8,000 to 11,000 people, depending on the stage layout. Even then, they hardly sell out.

Even stadium rockers like The Rolling Stones held their Forty Licks Tour at the Indoor Stadium, where the atmosphere is considerably less electrifying then an open-air venue like the National Stadium. So it's an amazing feat that MJ sold out both nights of his concerts at the National Stadium.

For those who remember, MJ was embroiled in the child-molest allegations at that time of the tour, and he was suffering from "dehydration" in Singapore, leading him to postpone one of the nights. Thousands of fans queued up for nothing but they got to watch him perform on August 29th, which was his birthday. And Singapore sang "Happy Birthday" to MJ, how cool is that!

Alright, I know I'm waxing lyrical about MJ, but then again, it's rare that he gets positive news like this, so I'm milking it for all its worth.

Anyway, regarding the list, I'm sad that No Doubt/Cranberries' double bill concert wasn't in the Top 20. To me, it was the best concert ever, so far at least. But then again, I realise that I've never been to any of them Top 20 concerts listed here, so I can't really say.

Anyone realised that there's only one Asian pop artiste in the Top 20? And it's gotta be Jay. Goes to show how far the gulf between Asian and Western pop is.

Anyway, do you agree with the list? Feel free to comment :)

Singapore's Greatest Gig: Michael Jackson's Dangerous Tour, 1993. Why am I not surprised?

You Oughta Know: Kylie Minogue - Showgirl Greatest Hits Tour on June 17th!

The first big act to arrive on our shores this year belongs to the ever-irresistable Kylie Minogue. The Showgirls tour comes in support of her latest Greatest Hits album, and you can expect her to perform her biggest hits during the show.

Anytime you have a concert advertisement taking up one full page of the Straits Times, you know it's gonna be huge, just like the last time Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey came. Check out the ad on page H5 of the Home Section today.

Tickets are going at $178, $148, $128, $98 and $58, excluding the $2 SISTIC handling fee of course.

Personally, I feel that the $148 tickets would be the best buy, if you're not intending to get the top dollar that is. The $128 seats are not that near and it's only $20 cheaper, so it's not worth it. $98 tickets would be 2nd choice. But if you're there only for the spectacle, then get the $58 tickets, but buy early, or Kylie will appear even smaller than she already is.

More About Kylie
Kylie enjoyed a revival in the past 5 years with the release of her Light Years album, which spawned the hits On A Night Like This, Please Stay, Spinning Around and Kids (with Robbie Williams). It didn't hurt that she got to perform during the Olympics Opening Ceremony either (or was it Closing Ceremony?).

It was followed by an even more successful album, Fever, which gave us the mega hit Can't Get You Out Of My Head, which prevented MJ's You Rock My World single from reaching the summit of the UK singles chart back in 2001. The album also featured the groovy In Your Eyes, sexy Come Into My World, and lovely Love At First Sight.

Her latest studio album, Body Language, didn't do as well, but I loved the song Slow, which is really sensual and seductive...Red Blooded Woman and Chocolate were minor hits as well.

Of course, Kylie's career spans more than just these 3 albums in the past 5 years. She's been around for more than 20 years, with earlier hits like Locomotion and Especially For You. The Showgirls Tour will be a nice walk down memory lane, and you can expect a top-class show with dazzling lasers and fireworks. So grab your tickets to the biggest show this year now!

Monday, April 04, 2005

First Post

Welcome to Music Haven, a new blog for all music lovers, and specifically, collectors of rare CDs and stuff. I wanted to name it Music Junkie but unfortunately, it wasn't available...too bad.

Anyway, I'll be posting pictures of my music collection here real soon, after my exams on April 22nd. So do come back and visit regularly after April 22nd ok? I'll be sharing with you my most treasured possessions, my collection over the past 10 years.

So let this be a gathering ground for all collectors of rare music and stuff, seeya soon!