A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Fefe Dobson & Ferry Corsten.
BLAME CANADA: Two years ago a Canadian teenager stormed the American charts. Her name was Avril Lavigne and her hook-filled songs about teenage life offered punk feminism as distilled by Hot Topic. Now the country is bringing us Fefe Dobson, whose self-titled debut for Island Records is filled with the kind of anthems fit for another remake of "Josie & the Pussycats."
Single "Take Me Away," with its stop-and-go metal guitars and an over-magnified rhythm, is slowly working its way onto American radio. A tale of rebellious teenage love, "Take Me Away" spent six weeks on Billboard's Hot 100, and peaked at No. 87 last month.
The song is one of a dozen dance-ready, arena-rock worthy songs on her debut. Party tracks such as "Rock It Till You Drop It" meld Shania Twain-like choruses with guitar riffs that owe a heavy debt to '80s hair metal, while Dobson's rant against her absent father in "Unforgiven" revs up the guitars in its attempt to reach Pink territory.
The singer, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, the daughter of a Jamaican father and a mother of English/Irish/Dutch descent, recently spoke to Billboard about her influences. She credits her mother for introducing her to acts such as the Bee Gees and Lionel Ritchie, and her sister for exposing her to Nirvana, but it was her brother who gave her the album that changed her life: Siverchair's "Neon Ballroom" (Sony).
"That album made me realize you shouldn't be afraid to write your feelings on paper and put it to music," Dobson told the magazine."
The 18 year-old Dobson is already a bit of an industry veteran. When she was 15, she signed to Zomba Records Canada, but the artist and the label were unable to pick a direction and parted ways. Yet it was at Zomba where she met producer Jay Levine, and the two formed working on a musical partnership.
With Levine and James McCollum, who aside from appearing with Levine in the Philosopher Kings has worked with Nelly Furtado, Dobson crafted her debut. The singer inked a deal with Island after performing earlier this year at a showcase in Toronto.
Last week, the self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, selling more than 29,000 copies in its first week of release in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. On The Billboard 200, the album weighed in at No. 111.
ABOARD THE FERRY: Over the last few years Ferry Corsten has risen to the top of the U.K. trance scene. A successful DJ/Producer, Corsten won acclaim for his mixes on Ministry of Sound's numerous volumes of the "Trance Nation" compilation series. Last year, the artist inked a deal with Moonshine Records, which has been busy prepping Corsten's introduction to U.S. markets.
A live mix album was released last year, and contained two Corsten originals: "Indigo" and "Punk." The latter became a club hit, thanks, in part, to the way it latched onto the '80s-influenced electro movement, featuring distorted, robotic vocals and vintage keyboard sounds. The song spent 10 weeks on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart earlier this year, peaking at No. 33 and giving Corsten his fist chart success in the U.S.
At the end of February, Moonshine will release the Dutch DJ's first collection of originals, "Right of Way." There's growing signs that the track will break Corsten, who also performs as System F, on these shores. The album's lead single, "Rock Your Body," a house-influenced party cut, debuted last week on Billboard's Hot Dance/Singles Sales chart. With its entry at No. 15, Corsten snared his first appearance on one of the magazine's retail charts.
"Rock Your Body" is also enjoying a fair amount of success on the Club Play tally. The single is entering its second week on that chart, up this week to No. 45 after debuting at No. 52.