Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard‘s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed below 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 Pop Shop Podcast, Nile Rodgers is our special guest! The music legend — famed for producing everyone from Madonna to David Bowie and Duran Duran, as well as his own chart-topping music with his group Chic — joins the show to discuss his new album with Chic: It’s About Time. (Listen to our conversation, below.)
The set is fittingly titled, as it comes a little more than 26 years after the release of the last Chic album, CHIC-ism in 1992. The long-awaited new effort, which was first announced in 2015, will be released on Sept. 28 via Virgin Records/UMe.
It’s About Time is the latest installment in a career renaissance for Rodgers, who found a new generation of fans in 2013, courtesy of his work with Daft Punk on its Random Access Memories album and the set’s hit singles “Get Lucky,” “Lose Yourself to Dance” and “Give Life Back to Music.” The album topped the Billboard 200 chart, and Rodgers’ work on the project earned him his first three Grammy Awards. Since then, he’s been a tireless road warrior, playing concerts around the globe with Chic, and also finding time to record and collaborate with a bevy of guest stars for the It’s About Time album. Artists ranging from Elton John and Lady Gaga to Mura Masa and Hailee Steinfeld are featured on the set, which Rodgers says is the first album in a two-part collection, where the story will continue on a second album, tentatively due next February.
“This is the most self-indulgent album I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t normally make records like this because I don’t have the power to say ‘this is how it’s gonna go and I’m gonna tell this really big story.’ So now that I do, I can do it my way and this is happening my way exactly. And I just hope people get it and like it and understand it. It’s a geeky record, and a very idealistic record.”
So, what’s the concept of the two-part album? There’s a disco, the apocalypse, and… Lady Gaga.
He describes the concept of the project thusly: “Right now the world just seems like we don’t know where the hell we’re going, everything is all over the map, politics… and you know people are saying the wackiest stuff so what I do is I paint a picture of an apocalypse. We go to a disco one night and we are in there partying having the time of our lives and then when we walk out, boom, everything’s like blown up and it was almost as if the disco was our bunker that protected us from the radiation and the destruction. So now us few people that are left have to fix it all.”
And what song closes out the It’s About Time album – the first installment in this two-part project? Nile Rodgers and Chic covering their classic “I Want Your Love,” featuring Lady Gaga on vocals.
Why does the set end with “I Want Your Love” and Gaga? Well, Rodgers reminds us: “The first album should leave you scratching your head thinking, ‘Oh, what’s gonna happen?’”
“Every album that I’ve ever made, that I’ve ever controlled, is a film. And because this film has two parts, I have to leave you with this sort of cliffhanger. ‘How does the next part start?’ ‘Where do they pick up?’”
Fans will be able to find out where the story ends possibly as early as Feb. 14, 2019. That’s the date Rodgers is targeting for the release of the next album.
Also in our conversation with Rodgers, he talks about what happened to his previously announced record deal with Warner Bros. Records, how the first iteration of the It’s About Time album was “scrapped,” and what his Chic partner Bernard Edwards — who died in 1996 — would think about the new album.
Plus, on top of the chat with Rodgers, the Pop Shop team dives into news about Paul McCartney, Drake, Mac Miller, and Kanye West and Lil Pump’s viral hit “I Love It.”
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