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Sound And Vision: Why Bieber Fever Can’t Touch Beatlemania?

Don’t believe everything you read.

No matter what the media say—and for more than a year now, they’ve been declaring Justin Bieber as big as, if not bigger than, the Beatles—Bieber Fever is no match for Beatlemania. Even if Bieber’s new holiday album, Under the Mistletoe, which was released November 1, ends up being the biggest one ever (the first single, “Mistletoe,” just debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 11, immediately making it the seventeen-year-old’s biggest solo hit yet), remember this: The Beatles never released a Christmas album. (Thank God!)

Obviously, Bieber Fever does have one thing in common with Beatlemania, a movement launched by The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 that continued long after the Beatles broke up in 1970: girls, girls, girls (all screaming at the top of their lungs). They are the cornerstone of Bieber’s success, but Beatlemania involved so much more than overzealous female fans caught up in the rapture of hot musical act.

Thanks to his largely underage female following, Bieber does reasonably well commercially, though he lacks the opening-week clout of Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne or even Coldplay (to name the artists behind the Top 3 debuts of 2011). In the US, he’s sold some 5 million copies of one full-length studio album, three compilations and one EP. That may barely be on par with the sales standards set by pop’s top divas, but it would put him in the running for modern pop’s most commercially viable male star.

Still, Bieber is no chart phenomenon. For all of the hysteria he spawned in his first two and a half years in circulation, he only hit the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 twice in his first eight tries. The highest-peaking of those was “Baby” (No. 5 in 2010), and both were collaborations with rappers (Ludacris on “Baby,” Jaden Smith on “Never Say Never”), which means Bieber has yet to score a massive hit based on his star power alone.

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Vocal Points: A Voice That Trumps All Else

Susan Boyle. Discovered on Britain’s Got Talent, she shocked the judges with her incredible voice and became a worldwide sensation just weeks after the show’s airing. And she continues to build her success, with another album which was released November 1st.  What wows fans about Boyle is the fact that she is a simple, middle-aged woman who came out of nowhere. She is not the most beautiful nor is she thin, she does not put on a crazy pop show with insane choreography. She offers fans one thing, her voice, and that voice continues to be enough.

Not many stories like Boyle’s exist. Sure, there are variations between singers. Some have a better stage presence than others, some are more glamorous. But we rarely get the chance to see performers raw, uncut, and without all the other stuff that makes them stars. Many times, we don’t want to see our favorite singers without all the extras (full band, cool clothes and dramatic effects). We want all of it.  After all, that’s what we’re paying the big bucks for. And yet, when Susan Boyle sings, we don’t care about any of the other details.

Adele is similar to Boyle in that she is a simple performer. Without a crazy backdrop or fancy moves, Adele wows audiences with her voice (that is, when she’s not canceling tours because of recurrent health problems). It truly seems that her simplicity is what makes her fans so crazy about her. Despite not looking like your stereotypical pop star, her killer voice shines through.

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The Real McCoy


Paris Montgomery

No matter how much money is spent on grooming and promotion, an artist is only as good as his or her material. Even a sub-par singer can enjoy hit after hit when partnered with the right songwriting team (ahem, Ms. Spears). This makes someone like Paris Montgomery a hot commodity to studios and labels. The LA native has penned songs for artists such as Steph Jones, Usher, D’Angelo and D. Woods. But he doesn’t give all the good ones away. Tracks like “Do You Ever Wonder” and “Smile” are swelling, synth-driven R&B—upbeat and ardent. “Roller Coaster” is more somber fare, piano and digital beats swaying together before the chorus goes airborne. Montgomery is like Chris Brown 2.0—an artist with all the looks and talent who chooses to inspire instead of giving into his demons. Whether he’s writing behind the scenes or taking center stage himself, Montgomery is destined for high demand.

“Do You Ever Wonder” – Paris Montgomery



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Soundcheck: When Hip-Hop Goes Pop

Mash-ups are a mainstay on the hip hop scene with rappers constantly collaborating to deliver fresh material.  Even the most vicious emcee paired up with the current R&B diva has a natural charm, and we’ve come to expect Rihanna, Beyoncé or Kelly Rowland backing up big verses from big rappers.  Now, it seems that hip hop has crossed over into the pop star realm, blurring the lines between the sugary sweet stylings of pop icons like Britney, Katy and Bieber with the hard-hitting sound of the streets.

We got our biggest dose of the crossover craze when Nicki Minaj announced she would join Britney Spears on her Femme Fatale Tour this year. In a groundbreaking move, fans of pop music’s reigning queen would be shoulder to shoulder with fans of the hottest thing to hit hip hop in years.  What resulted was one hell of a party!

Now, other singers are following suit, and pairing up with some unlikely collaborators. Justin Bieber will throw a little hip hop into the holidays when he releases Under The Mistletoe, on November 1.  The fifteen-track holiday album features a version of “The Little Drummer Boy” with none other than Busta Rhymes. We can’t imagine Rhymes’ grimy, gruff voice singing about the birth of Christ, but we’re all ears.  Other guests on the album will include Usher, Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey.

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The EditoriaList: Top Eight Music Video Fight Scenes

Our wonderful Managing Editor Alison is dangerously obsessed with violence and, I hear, is actually in an underground fight club, though she doesn’t talk about that. One day she suggested to me that I do a list based on fight scenes in music videos. It was hard to understand her at first, since her jaw was mysteriously wired shut, but we eventually got on the same page. Let’s start with a pair of pop divas who have a history of working out their problems in public:

8. “Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey beating the hell out of herself is just about the best thing that can happen in a Mariah Carey video, so there you go. Bonus: The song stops during the crucial scene. I also like it when her boyfriend overhears his brother talking to his hoodlum friends about finding that body down by the tracks.

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Sound And Vision: Rihanna Promises a New Album “This Fall” — Too Soon?

As Benjamin Franklin once said (and I’m about to paraphrase dramatically), only two things in life are certain: death and taxes.

Now we can add to that party of two another certainty: a new Rihanna album before the end of every year. Since making her debut with Music of the Sun in 2005, the singer has taken only one year off, 2008, during which she dealt with the fallout from the Chris Brown mess and still remained in circulation with an expanded second edition of Good Girl Gone Bad called Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded.

Her fifth album, Loud, which was only released last November, is still going fairly strong on the charts. It just spun off its fourth Top 10 single, “Cheers (Drink to That),” and one suspects that Rihanna and her label, Def Jam Records, could possibly milk it for at least one more. But she’s already making plans to move on to studio album No. 6. On September 15, Rihanna tweeted to fans that it’ll be in stores “this fall.” Four days later, again via Twitter, she revealed the title of the first single, “We Found Love.” As of September 23, an album title hadn’t been announced but an official release date was: November 21.

Enough already?

I suppose this gives die-hard Rihanna fans—and lord knows there must be tons of them out there to send 10 of her singles to No. 1 in five short years—but it also threatens to render her dangerously overexposed. And considering the fact that she’s set to make her film debut next May in the board-game-turned-action-flick Battleship, might we soon be in for Rihanna overload?

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Rihanna Promises a New Album “This Fall” — Too Soon?’


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