Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard.com Pop Shop Podcast, Billboard’s weekly audio breakdown of the Billboard charts, hottest music news and year’s biggest musical events. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every Tuesday on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in iTunes (click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on Billboard.com).
On the latest show, two-time Grammy Award-winner Dan Wilson joins us to discuss his new album, Re-Covered. Wilson has written songs with everyone from Taylor Swift to John Legend and offers up his own solo interpretations of some of those tunes on the new LP. Among them are his renditions of Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” and Adele’s No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit “Someone Like You.”
We sat down with Wilson to talk about some of his most famous collaborations, his classic Semisonic hit “Closing Time” (which is also featured on Re-Covered), cold-calling pop stars and asking if they’d like to write together and what it’s really like working with Adele.
While some of Wilson’s best known collaborations (Adele and Dixie Chicks) came through an introduction by producer Rick Rubin (who executive produced Wilson’s 2007 solo album Free Life), others have come by way of Wilson simply picking up the phone and reaching out.
“I cold-call people,” Wilson tells Billboard, “and sometimes they say ‘no’ and sometimes they say ‘yes.’ I’ll get a friend to give me an email address and I’ll say ‘hey, I’m Dan Wilson, I wrote this-and-this-and-this and of your records I love this-and-this-and-this and should we hang out? Let’s like, write something.’ It doesn’t always have to happen through channels.”
“I think the reason I know Andrew Bird now,” Wilson says, “is because somebody told me Tony Berg was producing a record for him and I know Tony and I sent Tony an email and I said, ‘Yo! can you send me Andrew Bird’s email address because I wanna tell him that we gotta write a song together!’ And Tony’s like, ‘Oookay…’ Like, he knows I’m not a freak so I’m not going to be weird. And then I wrote to Andrew and we’ve had a lot of real positive experiences in the studio now because of it. But it’s like, probably that would not have been as likely to happen if it had felt more like a business-driven (set up).”
As for Adele, is the pop superstar as hilarious, warm and charming as we assume?
“Did you see her on carpool karaoke?” Wilson asks. “Literally, (she’s) totally like that. Seriously. Just completely like that.”
“But then she also holds you and her to the highest possible artistic standards while your eyes are running with tears of laughter,” Wilson adds. “She’s super funny as you can guess, and super charming… But she’s also… She just knows right away if something doesn’t work. Or she’s willing to say if something isn’t working very, very directly. In a way that’s like, because she’s so honest, it’s never hurtful. She and I have kind of had disagreements during sessions about what was cool to do and what was not and, you know, every once in a while, she’s willing to give it a go. Which is also a really good sign. She’s just looking for excellence at all times… And she has a good laugh doing it too.”
In addition to our discussion with Wilson, we’ve also got chart news updates about Arcade Fire topping the Billboard 200 chart with Everything Now, Cardi B’s fast-rising hit “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” and how Nicki Minaj clocks her 41st top 40-charting hit on the Hot 100 with her featured turn on Future’s “You Da Baddest.” Plus, we’ve got a chart stat of the week about Madonna topping the Hot 100 with “This Used To Be My Playground” 25 years ago!
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