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Music Review: Patrick Stump ‘This City’

PatrickStumpThisCity

Photo | Lockerz

Patrick Stump (Lead Singer, Fall Out Boy) recently finished up his first complete solo album ‘Soul Punk’, due in October, and I recently got the chance to hear his first single ‘This City’.

‘This City’ featuring Lupe Fiasco is a pop tribute to his hometown of Chicago. I wanted to write a quick post about this track purely because it’s obvious to me that it’s going to be big. How do I know that? Well, the song isn’t life changing but it is written by someone who obviously understands what it takes to write a hit song. He chose to use a chord progression that has been featured in countless pop singles. Most recently in Jay Sean’s ‘Down’ and Chris Brown’s ‘Forever’… which both became massive hits. It’s simple, it’s repetitive and it’s exactly what he needs to break through the preconceptions of becoming a solo act. Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments section (below).

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhTYFuRWheU[/youtube]

A New Radio Format: ‘Millennial Hits’

BritneySpearsNsync

Photo | She-speakeasy.tumblr

This week, it hit me! What have I never heard on the radio? Before I explain, I should probably let you know that I grew up in a house with 4 sisters… meaning my childhood was a musical cocktail of boy bands and pop sensations.

Back to my point, what haven’t I heard on the radio? To understand what I mean, you should know that there are many different types of radio formats. From ‘Active Rock’ and ‘Contemporary Hit Radio’ to ‘Adult Album Alternative’ and ‘Top 40’, these formats define the station’s musical identity, which ultimately defines their audience. I currently work at a ‘Hot AC’ station. Most ‘Hot AC’ stations play commercial pop and rock music released within the last fifteen to twenty years and focus on appealing to general listeners rather than people who are solely interested in hearing only current releases.

Alright, so why am I giving you a lesson on radio formats? Basically, I discovered a format that hasn’t been tapped yet. When I was 9 years old (1999 to be exact), my older sisters (like most teenage girls at the time) were crazy about the current boy bands and pop idols. I’m talking about Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees, Britney Spears and TLC (trust me just wait, I’ll name more later). My point is that no radio station (that I know of) has committed their format to this style. Why? Have they forgotten that these groups dominated Top 40 radio for almost 7 years (1997 to about 2003)?! It feels to me that some programmers haven’t considered creating a new format like this due solely to the fact that radio was so overly saturated with these bands back-in-the-day, so they assume listeners are still sick of it. Plain and simple, who cares what you ‘assume’? Musical taste is subjective. Instead of studying your ‘market research’ revealing how huge conglomerations feel about ‘what the listener really wants’, how about using some common sense! You can’t deny that these bands absolutely owned the airwaves in the late 90s and early 2000s. Mr. Radio Exec, remember turning on the radio in 1999? Remember how listeners used to call and request songs all the time?! Remember how you used to make a lot of money? Hmm… seems like some things just kinda work. My sidetracked point here is… stop relying on your ‘research’ and start relying on your gut. The second you choose to do that, you’ll finally start genuinely enjoying your job.

So Andrew, how would this new station sound? Well, thanks for asking, imaginary man. Remember the huge hits, including ‘one-hit-wonders’ from these few years? That’s it! Only play those hits. Well Andrew, isn’t this a small selection of music? Hmmm, thank you again for asking, imaginary gentleman! I consider a song a ‘hit’ if it makes it to #40 (or below) on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles chart. Obviously, we still have some playable ‘break out hits’ that charted much lower BUT right now let’s just say that each year we have AT LEAST 40 hits to play with. Seven years multiplied by 40 songs per year = 280 songs. Plenty of songs for a well balanced rotation. All I’m imagining here is a format that plays all that crazy hooky, crazy poppy, teen madness music. I would name more bands, but I’ve created an iTunes playlist (below) to help illustrate my point. Every single song on that playlist is a hit. For people above the age of 20, every single song on that playlist is a hit because it recalls memories of their adolescence. This is the sole reason that this format would absolutely succeed. Unfortunately, the majority of music-based radio stations are glorified jukeboxes. No personality combined with a selection of music that sounds exactly the same as each similar format around the country. The minute you inspire an emotion by helping the listener recall fond memories is the minute you develop a personal relationship with that listener. That personal relationship equals success.

Check out the playlist below and let me know in the comments section how you feel about it.

Skylar Grey’s Near Future

Skylar Grey Invisible

Photo | CheckTheBlog.net

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about Skylar Grey and I said a few things in the podcast in anticipation of her writing her own single sometime in the near future. Well, “the near future” came much sooner than I thought. Skylar recently finished up her new album ‘Invincible’ and I got the chance to hear her leading single ‘Invisible’ yesterday. (Not yet available for download)

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWMjUbdOw9M&feature=related[/youtube]

 

I work as a Local Producer for Kidd Kraddick in the Morning and believe it or not they had Skylar in as a guest yesterday morning. She did an amazing acoustic medley of ‘Coming Home‘, ‘I Need A Doctor‘ and ‘Love The Way You Lie‘ (Below).

 

She’s such an incredible musician and I’m excited to see where this new album takes her. As soon as I get info on the release date, I’ll post it.

Staying Power: Kanye West

Kanye West

Photo | angelonfire

Who has that “it” factor… that certain something that separates the fads from the truly talented? Who are those certain celebrities today that will be just as relevant in 20 years? ‘Staying Power’ is a column that delves into the past to reveal the immortal artists of the future.

Kanye West is my next choice for an artist with ‘Staying Power‘. It’s not just his solo career that impresses me; It’s his incredible talent as a producer. Over the past decade, Kanye has produced tracks for some of the biggest names in hip hop music.

From 1996 to 2000, Kanye produced tracks for Jermaine Dupri and Foxy Brown (to name a few). He gained great commercial success from his work on Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’. After this, he became one of the most sought-after producers in the industry. Within the next year, Kanye ended up producing tracks for T.I, Ludacris, DMX and Monica. From 2004 to today, Kanye has managed to release 22 solo singles as well as continuing to serve as a producer.

His history as an artist isn’t what impresses me. It’s his constant push to stay relevant. He was producing when Diddy was still “Puff Daddy”… when Snoop and Dre dominated hip hop music… and listeners were still trying to figure out what hip hop music really was. Few rap artists manage to maintain their celebrity status for longer than a few years due to a music industry that’s constantly changing. In fifteen years, Kanye has managed to stay extremely relevant by learning to adjust to these changes. Not only has he adjusted to these new industry standards, he’s actually ended up creating a completely new industry himself. His obsession for the highest production standards in his own studio has actually forced his competition to produce a new level of quality, which then created a “new sound” that listeners crave.

Kanye’s success at not only staying relevant, but also becoming the “industry standard” is what gives him ‘Staying Power’. He’s managed to adjust to the industry over the past 15 years, and I can see him adjusting to the next 20 without any trouble.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWDr0f2k2kc&feature=related[/youtube]

Who Wrote It? – The Messengers and Justin Bieber, ‘Never Say Never’

Justin Bieber

Photo | Our-Style

‘Who Wrote It?’ is a Hungry Cliff column dedicated to seeking out and giving credit to the original creators of our favorite content.

Justin Bieber’s track ‘Never Say Never’ is such a textbook pop hit. I still believe that it could have (and should have) been as big of a hit as ‘Baby‘ or ‘One Time‘, but I’ll let bygones be bygones. Did you know that it was originally performed by another artist? No? Well, sit back and relax while I explain the creative process behind yet another hit!

The Messengers, a group of songwriters based out of L.A., wrote a track called ‘Sexy Together‘ a few years ago. Up-and-coming artist Travis Garland demoed the single. Justin’s producer had been working with The Messengers in the recording process of ‘My World 2.0‘, heard the track ‘Sexy Together’, bought it, tweaked the lyrics to be a little more age appropriate and ‘Never Say Never’ was officially birthed.

Wow, I wish this story was more complex, but in reality a good majority of hit singles are created this way. There are teams of songwriters all around the country that dedicate their lives to writing “hits” and selling them to artists and producers looking for “that song”. Check out Travis’ and Justin’s versions below!

Videos after the break.

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