Keith discusses Expose, Alanis' take on "My Humps," Macy Gray and more!
Due to a technical snafu, "Ask Billboard" was not posted to the Web site last week. So, this week, we've got nearly twice the amount of questions and answers for you!
I really love reading your column. I recently read that my favorite female vocal group, Expose, reunited for a tour. Is this true? How well did they do on the charts here in the U.S.?
Expose has indeed reunited. (And honestly, I'm stoked.) The trio, made up of vocalists Ann Curless, Jeanette Jurado and Gioia Bruno, are back on the road together after nearly 15 years apart. The three ladies were members of the group during its heyday, from 1986 through 1992.
The group racked up eight top 10 hits on The Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1987 and 1993, including the No. 1 hit "Seasons Change." They're also fondly remembered for such dance smashes as "Come Go With Me" (No. 5), "Point of No Return" (No. 5), "Let Me Be The One" (No. 7) along with ballads like "When I Looked At Him" (No. 10) and "I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)" (No. 8).
Bruno departed the group in 1992 when she began having throat problems, which was later determined to be due to a benign tumor on her vocal chords. She has since recovered. However, when she left Expose, she was replaced by Kelly Moneymaker.
After Expose and its record label, Arista, parted ways in the mid '90s, the ladies have all kept themselves busy. Bruno has been actively recording and touring for a number of years as a solo act, while Curless focused on her family and children. Jurado also started a family, recorded as a solo artist and starred in a Las Vegas musical production.
For more information, visit the group's official Web site at exposeonline.net. The group's next scheduled concert is slated for April 14 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
BLACK EYE FOR BLACK EYED PEAS?
I am in love with Alanis Morissette's remarkably clever rendition of the Black Eyed Peas' otherwise awful "My Humps." It's one of the best commentaries (unintentional or not) on the state of "popular" music today.
Now don't get me wrong I'm hardly a music snob. But at the ripe old age of 31, most top 40 music lately is like nails on a chalkboard to me (BEPs/Fergie, especially).
My question is this: Alanis obviously had to get the rights to do this. Were the Peas oblivious to her intentions? Or are they so devoid of any "artistic" integrity that all they cared about was the paycheck? I would LOVE to see her do an entire album mocking many of the big hits of recent days, but now that the joke's out, I can't exactly see people willingly volunteering to be skewered.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
I asked Billboard's Legal and Publishing Correspondent, Susan Butler, for her expertise on this topic.
Normally, Morissette would require what is called a synchronization license. The license pays copyright owners when their music is used in combination with visual images (like a music video on YouTube.com, or when that video is then played on VH1's "Best Week Ever"). In order to obtain this license, you have to get permission by the publisher of the song who accounts directly to the writer. For "My Humps," the publishers are Cherry River Music Co., Jimi Mac Music, OG Music and Will I Am Music Inc.
Butler also said that Morissette could claim that her recording is a permissible parody and therefore not be required to license it. But that's risky, especially if you get drawn into a copyright infringement claim.
For what it's worth, Morissette released the video on April Fools Day.
Sounds like parody to me (especially when you've seen the video).
HOW 'BIG' IS MACY GRAY?
I must inquire about Macy Gray. Her new album ("Big") just hit stores and I have heard very little promotion done for the album. Has her single "Finally Made Me Happy" impacted radio at all? Has it even made it on any chart?
Should the failure of this great album be blamed on poor promotion from her label will.i.am/Geffen or has the public lost interest in such a talented singer? Also, Billboard, a major music media (publication), hasn't even had an article on the new release. I was wondering why not?
Thanks for any help on these matters.
It seems there are two singles from "Big" - "Finally Made Me Happy" featuring Natalie Cole and "Shoo Be Doo (No Words)." The latter moves up to No. 66 the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart this week - her first appearance on that chart since 2001 when she was featured on the Black Eyed Peas single "Request Line."
Not so coincidentally, the Peas' will.i.am co-produced the "Finally Made Me Happy" single and can be seen playing piano in its music video. The song was recently released as a digital single and has already sold 14,000.
Other producers and collaborators on the album include Ron Fair, Justin Timberlake, Fergie, Jared Gosselin, Phillip White and Noiztrip.
Nathan, you're too quick to call this album a failure. It debuted this past week at No. 39 on The Billboard 200 albums chart, selling 23,000. While that's about 1,000 less than the figure that greeted her last studio effort, 2003's "The Trouble With Being Myself," it's still a pretty great achievement, considering she's been off the radar for a few years.
During the album's week of release, she performed on both "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "The View." Both TV shows should help the album's debut placement on the charts.
Why hasn't Billboard magazine published a story about Gray's new album? I'm not sure. Keep in mind that many artists and albums never get an article devoted to them in our magazine. With so much news competing for space in our magazine and online at Billboard.com and Billboard.biz, we have to weigh and consider our coverage carefully.
However, in February we did have a news story at Billboard.com covering the release of "Big," so it's not like we've ignored Gray.
Next, we have an update on a question that was first asked back in May of 2006.
Christopher Brisson of Culver City, Calif. asked about what Paula Cole was up to. At the time, we reported that "Cole departed Warner Bros. in 2003 and later signed with Columbia Records" and was working on a new album.
As it turns out, Paula Cole is back, finally, officially. While she's no longer on Columbia - she's moved over to Decca Records - her new album is due out June 12. The set is titled "Courage" and its lead single, "14," just hit U.S. radio. The tune was co-written by Cole and Patrick Leonard and produced by Bobby Colomby. As far as we can tell, the album isn't a jazz effort, despite the fact that a year ago she was
Leonard has of course helped write Billboard Hot 100 hits for Madonna, Jewel and Elton John, among others. Colomby is perhaps best known as the drummer for the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears. He has more recently produced Chris Botti's albums "When I Fall In Love" and "To Love Again: The Duets."
For more information visit Cole's MySpace
(http://www.myspace.com/officialpaulacole) where you can hear a snippet of her "14" single and her official Web site, www.paulacole.com.
SOUNTRACKS OF OUR LIVES
While rummaging through Amazon.com for the "Pride" movie soundtrack, I was taken at the description for the disc was: "Original Film Soundtrack." I began conducting a bit of research after I pulled out my 2004 "Shark Tale" soundtrack which was described as: "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and the "Music and Lyrics" soundtrack which is "Music From The Motion Picture."
Some soundtracks pull songs from unknown bands with music they have already recorded and put on their own album (which go unnoticed) like the "Alpha Dog" soundtrack and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" soundtrack and still be claimed as original soundtracks.
Others contain music from around the same period close to its release; like "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" soundtrack which still classifies itself as "The Original Soundtrack" even though Beyonce's "Crazy In Love," Joss Stone's "Supa Dupa Love" and The Darkness' "I Believe in A Thing Call Love"
appear on the CD.
What's so "original" about a soundtrack when it's not? And why are their so many descriptions for a soundtrack?
Nevis, West Indies
It's an interesting question you bring up. Sometimes, as you point out, soundtrack albums often have very little to do with the film they are supposedly the soundtrack for. It's not entirely uncommon to find a soundtrack where only one or two songs were actually heard in the film, while the rest of the album may be filled out by songs that compliment the movie's theme.
As for the terminology used on a soundtrack album, it is indeed very confusing when albums are titled everything from "original music," "original soundtrack," "music from" and "music inspired by."
In your example for "Bridget Jones," I'm sure the soundtrack album producers and compilers felt they were putting together an original collection of music that enhanced the film. They weren't thinking "original" in terms of "new music written specifically for the movie." They were just thinking "original concept" perhaps.