Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ed Sheeran’s X hit #1 in UK for first of 13 weeks

X (Multiply)

Ed Sheeran

Released: June 20, 2014

Charted: June 29, 2014

Peak: 11 US, 113 UK, 1 3 CN, 18 AU

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 3.55 UK, 10.89 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. One (5/31/14, 87 US, 18 UK, 32 CN, 72 AU, worldwide sales: 0.9 million)
  2. I’m a Mess (49 UK, UK sales: 0.2 million)
  3. Sing (4/7/14, 13 US, 14 AC, 4 A40, 11 UK, 4 CN, 11 AU, worldwide sales: 2 million)
  4. Don’t (6/28/14, 9 US, 24 AC, 10 A40, 8 UK, 7 CN, 4 AU, worldwide sales: 2.66 million)
  5. Nina (57 UK, UK sales: 0.2 million)
  6. Photograph (5/11/15, 10 US, 3 AC, 16 A40, 15 UK, 4 CN, 9 AU, worldwide sales: 2.85 million)
  7. Bloodstream (2/11/15, 2 UK, 60 CN, with Rudimental, worldwide sales: 1.28 million)
  8. Tenerife Sea (62 UK, UK sales 0.4 million)
  9. Runaway (UK sales 0.2 million)
  10. The Man (82 UK)
  11. Thinking Out Loud (9/24/14, 2 US, 119 AC, 16 A40, 26 AAA, 11 UK, 2 CN, 15 AU, worldwide sales: 11.28 million)
  12. Afire Love (7/5/14, 37 US, 59 UK, 41 CN, UK sales: 0.2 million)

Total Running Time: 50:23


3.738 out of 5.00 (average of 27 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

X, Sheeran’s second album, was nominated for Grammys for Album of the Year and Pop Vocal Album. It also took home the Brit Award for British Album of the Year. It was supported by five official singles, although everything from the album either hit the UK charts or sold at least 200,000 copies.

Sheeran said he “started off making another acoustic record, and it turned into a neo-soul-funk record.” WK He credited producers like Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco for pulling him out of his comfort zone. WK All Music Guide glibly called Ed Sheeran “the UK’s answer to Jason Mraz,” AMG noting that Sheeran, like, Mraz, “plays around with hip-hop cadences but at his core he’s a singer/songwriter…who prefers love tunes to songs of protest.” AMG Not only can Sheeran “ramble out a rap, but he’s also quite comfortable with luxurious, shimmering textures and buoyant melodies.” AMG

“Naturally, these traits surface clearly on Sing, a collaboration with Pharrell Williams that contains some of the natural ebullience of ‘Happy.” AMG Sheeran noted that he tried to channel Justin Timberlake’s debut album, Justified. WK It ended up as the first single from the album.

Sheeran wrote the second single, Don’t, about a girlfriend, singer Elle Goulding, who cheated on him with a close friend. He said he played the song for his friend Taylor Swift and her response is that she would never want to piss him off that much. WK Sheeran first recorded it with Blanco, then again with Rubin, and finally the two producers came together for the final version. WK

The ballad Thinking Out Loud was released as the third single. Sheeran said the song, written about his then-girlfriend, was his favorite from the album. He said it was a soul song and “the only happy song on the album.” WK However, All Music Guide said, “When Sheeran sings slow, he rarely sings sad: he’s a hybrid of Chris Martin and David Grey, a boy next door who hasn’t lost his shaggy romanticism. His sweetness isn’t cloying, not even when the productions are aimed straight down the middle of the road, which they often are on.” AMG

Photograph, the fifth single from the album, was written with Johnny McDaid of Snow Patrol, as was Nina. McDaid called the latter a “self-deprecating” love song about “heartbreak.” WK Sheeran referred to “Photograph” as the song “that will change my career path,” WK believing it to be the one song that would sell the album. WK

“His boyishness doesn’t give these immaculate confections grit so much as a wet, wide-eyed puppy dog heart…Whenever the mildly manic rapping surfaces…it’s a bit of sand in the Vaseline, preventing X from operating as smoothly as it’d like. Nevertheless, these gangly excursions in rap are evidence of Sheeran’s youth and his generation, something that keeps X from being merely a bit of excellently crafted mature pop and gives it some appealing character.” AMG

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First posted 3/7/2019; last updated 4/30/2022.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Casey Kasem: End of the Countdown

image from

My parents drug me to church every Sunday morning, but my real religion came when we got home. I raced to my bedroom, flipped on the radio, and allowed American Top 40 to convert me into the music-list junkee I am today. Had my parents wanted someone at whom to point a finger of blame, they need look no farther than Kemel Amen Kasem.

Better known as Casey Kasem, he was the voice of American Top 40. Based on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 singles chart, the radio show counted down the hits every week. Casey peppered his broadcasts with biographical tidbits, trivia, and the simultaneously cheesy and touching long-distance dedications. That voice which challenged listeners to “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” is now permanently silent. Kasem died on June 15, 2014, at age 82. He is survived by his wife, Jean Thompson (married 1980-2014), four children, and four grandchildren. He was diagnosed in 2007 with Lewy body dementia, a condition which left him unable to speak.

He was born on April 27, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan where his Lebanese-immigrant parents worked as grocers. He had his first taste for radio covering sports at Detroit’s Northwestern High. When he went to Wayne State University for college, he voiced children on radio programs. In 1952, he was drafted by the Army to serve in Korea, where he worked as a DJ and announcer for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.

Once back in the states, he jumped around in various radio jobs in Detroit, Buffalo, New York, Cleveland, San Franciso, Oakland, and Los Angeles. He launched American Top 40 on July 4, 1970 and served as its host until 1988, as well as a second stint from 1998 to 2004. He also worked as a voice actor, most notably as Shaggy from Scooby-Doo cartoon and Robin in Super Friends.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Iggy Azalea hit #1 with “Fancy”


Iggy Azalea with Charli XCX

Writer(s): Amethyst Kelly/ Charlotte Aitchison/ George Astasio/ Jason Pebworth/ Jon Shave/ Kurtis McKenzie (see lyrics here)

Released: February 17, 2014

First Charted: March 22, 2014

Peak: 17 US, 13 RR, 21 A40, 113 RB, 5 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.6 UK, 9.1 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1160.93 video, 711.89 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Fancy” was the fourth single from Australian rapper Iggy Azalea’s debut album – and the one which made her a star. It topped the charts in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand and went top ten in Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries. The “electro hop” song was written by Azalea (real name Amethyst Kelly) and Charli XCX (real name Charlotte Aitchison) with the production teams known as “The Invisible Men” and “The Arcade.”

When the song hit #1 in the U.S., Azalea was also a guest rapper on Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” the #2 hit. This made Azlaea only the sixth artist in history to hold down the top two slots and only the third female artist – after Ashanti and Mariah Carey – to have her first two Hot 100 hits in the top five simultaneously. Only Azalea and the Beatles had the distinction of having their first two Hot 100 singles at #1 and #2 simulatenously. WK The song also topped MTV and iTunes’ lists of best songs of 2014. WK

MTV Buzzworthy’s Brad Stern said of the song, “Not since Fergie’s ‘Glamourous’ has there been such a spectactularly sass-filled ode to the glam life.” WK Idolator’s Mike Wass called it a “swag-drenched hip hop/pop delight” and Hip Hop DX’s Janice Llamoca said it was “a hip hop-slash-pop party anthem.” WK Hip Hop Wired’s Chris Tomas said Charli XCX “provides a very potent chorus that women will be chanting in their clubs, cars, and the like.” WK Not all reviews were glowing;’s Bill Lamb said the song felt a “bit too recycled” and that the lyrics had been done better by Stefani nearly a decade earlier on “Luxurious.” WK

The video was directed by Director X and featured Azalea and Charli XCX in the roles of Beverly Hills’ socialites Cher and Tai from the 1995 American comedy film Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone. Both the movie and the video used Los Angeles’ Grant High School as a filming location and outfits in the video were designed to match the film’s clothing with slight updates. The Huffington Post’s Chanel Parks offered props to Iggy for her “music video homage to our favorite movie of all time” WK and Paste magazine’s Taalur Ramsey praised the video as a combination of “a quintessential 90s culture moment with [Iggy’s] hip-hop vibes.” WK Entertainment Weekly named it the best video of 2014. WK


Last updated 4/1/2024.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour hit #1 in UK

In the Lonely Hour

Sam Smith

Released: May 26, 2014

Charted: June 1, 2014

Peak: 2 US, 18 UK, 2 CN, 12 AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/blue-eyed soul


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Money on My Mind (2/16/14, 1 UK, 51 AU)
  2. Good Thing
  3. Stay with Me (4/14/14, 2 US, 1 RR, 1 AC, 1 A40, 10a RB, 1 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU)
  4. Leave Your Lover (6/7/14, 92 US)
  5. I’m Not the Only One (6/21/14, 5 US, 4 RR, 3 AC, 3 A40, 3 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU)
  6. I’ve Told You Now
  7. Like I Can (12/5/14, 99 US, 27 RR, 17 AC, 26 A40, 9 UK, 53 CN, 20 AU)
  8. Life Support
  9. Not in That Way
  10. Lay Me Down (2/15/13, 8 US, 17 RR, 11 AC, 1 UK, 12 A40, 1: remix with John Legend)

Total Running Time: 32:47


3.578 out of 5.00 (average of 32 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Sam Smith was a London-born vocalist with a deeply emotive voice” AMG who “grew up listening to R&B giants Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, and Whitney Houston.” AMG Smith made his first impact on the charts in 2012 in the UK as the guest vocalist on “Disclosure’s loping dance-pop single,” AMG reaching #11. The “breakbeat-driven tearjerker” AMG “La La La” followed the next year. It was a #1 UK hit by Naughty Boy with Sam Smith.

It set up lofty expectations for his 2014 In the Lonely Hour album. The album was preceded by three singles. Lay Me Down initially stalled just inside the top 50 on the UK charts, but would eventually become a top 10 hit in the US and a remixed version would reach the top spot in the UK.

Money on My Mind, “an upbeat statement of purpose more about the soul than the heart,” AMG hit the UK charts in February 2014 and went all the top way to #1. However, it was Stay with Me, “a torch song with a gospel-inspired chorus,” AMG which gave Smith a worldwide hit that reached the top 10 in twenty countries, WK including #1 in the UK and #2 in the U.S.

They cast Smith as “a heartbroken balladeer” AMG and, indeed, the subsequent In the Lonely Hour album was “more about morning than movement” AMG as “deep sorrow informs most of the material.” AMG Instead of capitalizing on the dance-pop of his hits with Disclosure and Naughty Boy, Smith delivered a collection of stripped-down songs, “some with merely piano, acoustic guitar, and conservative strings.” AMG

“That puts all the more focus on Smith’s voice and words, the latter of which switch between borderline maudlin (‘What use is money when you need someone to hold?’) and disarmingly brazen (‘Just leave your lover, leave him for me’). If Smith didn’t have such a remarkable voice, they could stay busy composing songs for artists in several genres; the anthemic Like I Can could be easily adapted for a contemporary country singer, while a few others could be turned over to young pop artists in need of material that makes them sound more human. This is an understated and promising first step from an unpredictable and distinctive talent.” AMG

Notes: The deluxe edition added bonus tracks “Restart,” “Latch,” “La La La,” and “Make It to Me.” A European iTunes version also added “Reminds Me of You” while a Google Play version added acoustic versions of “In the Lonely Hour” and “Nirvana.” There was also a Target deluxe edition and Japanese versions with bonus tracks and a deluxe edition with remixes. One variation included a full second disc known as the Drowning Shadows Edition.

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First posted 4/30/2022.