Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
BACK TO DECEMBER (AND THE 11 PRIOR MONTHS …)
Per “Ask Billboard” last week, in which you invited e-mails about readers’ top picks for 2010, there were so many favorite musical moments of mine that it was hard to pick just one. But I did.
On Nov. 10, 2010, Brad Paisley finally won the CMA’s prestigious Entertainer of the Year award after being nominated for the honor five previous times. During his emotional acceptance speech, he talked about how his late maternal grandfather inspired him to love country music and play the guitar. This moment will always stand out for me in 2010.
Happy new year!
Beachwood, New Jersey
I love reading and look forward to “Ask Billboard” every week. Here are my five favorite songs of the past 12 months. Best wishes for 2011!
5, “All the Lovers,” Kylie Minogue
The lead single from Kylie’s 11th album, “Aphrodite,” is a spellbinding, euphoric, glimmering trip through pure pop perfection.
4, “Dancing On My Own,” Robyn
The first single from Robyn’s “Body Talk” showcases the Swedish doll’s penchant for crafting a hook, line and (heart)sinker. If you aren’t devastated by the song’s lyrics, I’d check for a pulse.
3, “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry
Words can’t describe the nostalgic feelings conjured up by this song, an ode to days gone by and first crushes (including the “Glee” cast version that flipped the song on its head with its a cappella all-male vocals).
2, “Get Outta My Way,” Kylie Minogue
Ms. Minogue’s disco-fied dance floor filler is awash in swirly synths, pulsing beats and a sassy chorus. Kylie knows her heart and fans belong in the clubs.
1, “The House That Built Me,” Miranda Lambert
If I were a songwriter, this is the song I wish I had the talent to write. Striking, immediate and poignant, it takes such an ordinary memory and creates a visual that is melancholy, wistful and just plain beautiful. While Lambert didn’t write the song, I can’t picture anyone else singing it, as her vocals lend just the right amount of vulnerability without becoming overly sentimental. A perfect performance of a perfect song.
Happy 2011! I hope it’s treating you well so far! When you put out the call for our best of 2010, I thought I’d take you up on it.
5, “The Love You Give,” Dave Wakeling of the English Beat (recorded for the charity “Acoustic for Autism”)
4, “Love Come (Piano Version),” Sarah McLachlan (from “Laws of Illusion”)
3, “California Gurls,” Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg (from “Teenage Dream”), my guilty pleasure song of the year
2, “What We Do,” Devo (from “Something for Everybody”)
1, “Heroes,” Peter Gabriel (from “Scratch My Back”)
Favorite Anti-’80s Song (from someone who LOVES the ’80s!)
The Vaselines, “I Hate the ’80s” (from “Sex With an X”)
Favorite ’80s Covers
5, “Jessie’s Girl,” Craig Robinson (from “Hot Tub Time Machine”)
4, “Physical,” the “Glee” cast featuring Olivia Newton-John
3, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Evelyn Evelyn featuring Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls (from “Evelyn Evelyn”)
2. “I Can’t Go for That,” the Bird & the Bee featuring Inara George (from “Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates”)
1. “As the World Falls Down,” Girl in a Coma (from “Adventures in Coverland”)
Released on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records label, “Adventures in Coverland” from the girls from San Antonio, Texas, is just that. The album also features eclectic covers of songs by the Beatles, Joy Division, Patsy Cline, Selena and the Velvet Underground.
I didn’t see many shows in 2010, but they were all unique and fun in their own ways. In April, I saw Bryan Adams perform acoustic at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. Women still swoon over the 51-year-old. In August, I saw filmmaker Kevin Smith in his hometown of Red Bank, N.J., for a memorable five-and-a-half hour show on his 40th birthday. September in Atlantic City is always fun, especially if you’re seeing Fishbone for the first time. And, for the second time in two years, I saw another memorable show in Portland, Maine, by Dave Wakeling and the English Beat. Good times were had by all.
Favorite Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hit by a Southern Maine rapper
Spose, “I’m Awesome” (No. 37)
5, Bobby McFerrin, “VOCAbuLarieS”
The first album in eight years for the multi-Grammy Award winner, featuring more than 50 guest artists. Just a beautiful recording all around.
4, the Secret Sisters, “The Secret Sisters”
The classy debut album from these Alabama sisters, revisiting an old country style and many covers, such as George Jones’ “Why Baby Why,” and produced by T-Bone Burnett.
3, Devo, “Something for Everybody”
Devo came back in a big way in 2010, complete with reissues. A return to Warner Bros. Records with the act’s best album in decades.
2, Cyndi Lauper, “Memphis Blues”
Lauper surprised many (yours truly included) by releasing a blues album 30 years into her memorable music career. And, recruiting blues legends including B.B. King and Ann Peebles paid off. Not only was the album impressive, but it also earned her a Grammy nomination, her first No. 1 album on a Billboard chart (also surprising) and Billboard’s top title on Blues Albums for 2010.
1, Peter Gabriel, “Scratch My Back”
Since 1977, Peter Gabriel has recorded just eight studio albums (and only three since 1992). So, whenever he releases a solo album, you just know it’ll be worth the wait. This 12-song orchestral covers album passionately takes on songs by the likes of Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Radiohead, Neil Young, Regina Spektor, the Magnetic Fields (“The Book Of Love,” featured in the 2009 “My Finale” episode of “Scrubs”) and David Bowie (an incredible cover of “Heroes”).
Thanks for letting me share and for everything you do for us chart fans with Chart Beat!
Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
Thanks Lisa, Jamie and Ron!
Your rankings echo Billboard’s consensus that 2010 was clearly a standout year for uptempo mainstream pop, while recognizing other genres.
I agree that Gabriel, Lauper and Minogue are just three veteran artists who returned as strong as ever with new releases in 2010.
Your e-mails inspired me to add a few more thoughts about the past year (and the brand new one) in music and charts.
As always, please feel welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section below or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Five Likely 2010 Radio Hits … If They’d Been Released to Radio
5, “Dance in the Dark,” Lady Gaga
4, “For Your Entertainment,” Adam Lambert
3, “Men in This Town,” Shakira
2, “You’re Not Sorry,” Taylor Swift
1, “Kiss and Tell,” Ke$ha
As the digital era blurs the lines between traditional singles and often equally-priced a la carte album cuts, Lambert’s (No. 61) and Swift’s (No. 11, released as a “Fearless” preview track) songs charted on the Hot 100 on the strength of download sales.
Perry could mine multiple more smashes from “Teenage Dream,” as Swift will likely do from “Speak Now” (at pop and country radio) and Ke$ha, from “Cannibal.”
Song That Pop Radio Overlooked in 2010
“Skin & Bones,” Romance on a Rocketship
Though this catchy track never reached Billboard’s Pop Songs chart, its sound, from vocals to production, eventually found favor … in the form of Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me.”
Most Talented Comedian We Lost Last Year
Following the passing of Giraldo, best known for his uproarious “Comedy Central Roast” routines, at age 44, his 2009 album “Midlife Vices” re-entered the Comedy Albums chart at No. 2.
10 More Personal Favorite Concerts From ’10
10, Lady Antebellum, Best Buy Theater, New York
9, Brad Paisley, “Live on Letterman,” Ed Sullivan Theater, New York
8, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Berklee Performance Center, Boston
7, Vedera, Epic Records showcase, New York
6, Karmina, the Living Room, New York
5, Linkin Park, Best Buy Theater, New York
4, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Madison Square Garden, New York
3, Lady Gaga, Madison Square Garden, New York
2, Josh Groban, Town Hall, New York
1, “Z100 Jingle Ball,” Madison Square Garden, New York
Katy Perry played the longest set at “Jingle Ball,” whose superstar lineup also included, among others, Taio Cruz, Jay Sean, Paramore, Michael Buble and closer Justin Bieber. Not only was the annual celebration a who’s-who of current pop royalty, but it also reinforced the influence that, in an age of iPods and online streaming, a radio station – especially a powerhouse like Z100 – can continue to command.