Life is full of surprises, and sometimes, so is pop music. In recent weeks, it’s recovered its long-dormant ability to shock, or at least catch us off guard with the unlikely hit, or the unexpected comeback.
Several months ago, I never dreamed I would ever ask the question that is the title of this article. It had been more than twenty-five years since Lionel Richie’s commercial heyday, and on the charts, he had been succeeded by younger romantic leads in pop and R&B many times over (Babyface, Usher, Ne-Yo, among others).
Then came one of those surprise developments seldom seen in pop anymore: On Billboard magazine’s Top 200 album chart for the week following the March 26 release of Tuskegee, Richie’s first studio album since 2009’s Just Go (which didn’t make the US Top 20 and failed to go gold), he debuted at No. 2 with first-week sales of 199,000 copies, right behind Madonna’s latest, MDNA.
“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.
On the charts, that is.
In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger”and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards”was probably the one that nobody saw coming.
Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records”even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand”are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.
How do you like your country music? Served with a spice of pop-rock goodness? Perfect, because that’s just what WYATT brings to the table. The Saskatoon four-piece won the “Capital Hoedown Showdown” Competition Grand Prize in May and recently rocked the festival main stage alongside Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney and more.
From get-go the group was treated to the superstar lifestyle, complete with VIP festival passes, baller hotel room, personal driver and more. During their performance, the audience of thousands devoured every minute of their set igniting sing-alongs and cheering loudly throughout. Afterwards they were escorted by security to a meet and greet, their only line of defense from masses of eager fans demanding pictures and autographs.
For the full performance of their winning song “Ride On” and more, check out the video below.
Eric Church has never been one to keep his mouth closed. He prides himself on speaking his mind, no matter what. And in the past, this trait has cost him quite a bit. Back in 2006, he was kicked off the Rascal Flatts tour for playing longer and louder than he was allowed, which caused the headliner to start late and violated the rules of the venue. Additionally, he dealt with a great deal of backlash after his song, “Two Pink Lines” was released. Fans didn’t like the fact that the song seemed so relaxed on the topic of teenage pregnancy.
But controversy has never stopped Church. After being kicked off the Rascal Flatts tour, instead of going home, he followed the tour for eight stops, playing free shows at clubs and bars for his fans. As he said in an interview, “We did it because we said we would. It’s a great thing to come and say, ‘Hey, man, we got fired from across the street, but we said we were coming, so we’re here anyway'”. And because of his perseverance, and his fun and exciting live shows, he has cultivated a strong fan base. These fans care about what Church has to say, and they have been eagerly anticipating his new record, Chief, for some time.
The album, which was released on July 26th, stays very true to the outspoken, wild Church that his fans have grown to love. With songs like “Jack Daniels” and “I’m Getting Stoned” he shows that he is willing to tell the real story, not skim over the tough parts. Chief is a hit because it is made up of well-crafted songs with a lot of attitude. As he will tell you, “I’m a guy who’s going to tell you what I think. I’m going to rub you the wrong way”. But somehow this works for him. Now that nobody is expecting him to hold back or keep his opinions to himself, he is able to make the kind of music he’s always wanted to. And the music is phenomenal, which explains why the album just hit Number 1 on the Billboard 200.
Watch the video for his hit single “Homeboy” below.
As we’ve recently discovered, great Canadian country music is in no short supply. The Capital Hoedown Showdown Competition on OurStage sought to bring out the best of the bunch, and boy did we find them.
Saskatoon natives WYATT, Calgary duo Pear and Sharon, Ontario songwriter Danielle Bourjeaurd all performed in Ottawa last night for a chance to live every country artist’s dream”a main stage performance at a major country music festival. The battle was hard fought to say the least, with each artist bringing their A-game to a packed crowd. By the time the dust settled however, judges Amanda Wilkinson, Nick Meinema and Denis Benoit landed on WYATT. The country quartet is no stranger to the OurStage spotlight, having previously placed Number 2 in “Bon Jovi’s Wanted: A SuperBAND Tonight!” Competition in Canada last year.
Now they’ll be rocking the same stage as Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and more at the Capital Hoedown Country Music Festival in Ottawa from August 11-13! Don’t forget to check back for our post-performance followup with them.
Country music fans”can you say free festival tickets? We’re not just talking about tickets to any ol’ backyard country jig either. Judge in the “Capital Hoedown Showdown” Competition on OurStage and you could win a pair of three-day passes to Capital Hoedown 2011! This year’s lineup includes country giants Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts and more.
Do your part to help Canada’s best country artist win a performance on the festival main stage this year, and you could be there to witness all the action. All you need to do is make your voice heard by July 11, 2011. For a taste of what you’ll find while judging, check out the playlist below, it’s packed with country gems.