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Music Is My King Size Bed

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'American Idol' Finalist Pia Toscano Lands Interscope Record Deal

Well this isn't a shock. American Idol season 10 finalist, Pia Toscano seemingly has a record deal. Toscano's ninth place elimination left the live audience as well as the judges in complete shock, but I wasn't really surprised. Week after week Toscano came to the stage with, essentially, the same song - a boring, schmaltzy, over-the-top, nicely sung ballad. While there was no question that the girl could sing, she clearly wasn't making a connection with the viewing audience and that's what counts on American Idol.

Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly & The Hollywood Reporter both confirmed that Toscano, 22, had signed a deal with Interscope Records and will digitally release her debut single, "This Time," on July 12th, just before Toscano hits the road with the American Idol Live! Tour. The song has been described as an "acoustic-guitar and beat-driven track" penned by hitmaker Ester Dean (Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Beyoncé).  According to a press statement issued by Toscano and printed on
“I am thrilled to be joining the Interscope and 19 Recordings family. [Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman] Jimmy Iovine was an amazing mentor during my time on Idol and I’m looking forward to working with him and everyone at Interscope Records and 19 Recordings. This is a dream come true.” {SOURCE}
As previously reported by People Magazine, Toscano's debut album will have a something for everyone, including those trademark ballads, but also some more up-tempo dancier fare. Toscano reportedly already hit the studio with Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins (Aaliyah, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson) which is HUGE.  According to Jerkins, who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter back in May, fans can expect a "big, diva-sounding record."

The fact that a Toscano, the shows ninth runner up already has a record deal certainly bodes well for the rest of the Season 10 contestants.  Admittedly, of the contestants with record deals in place - Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Pia -  the only album I would consider supporting would be Pia's...assuming that she sticks to her word and makes a diverse sounding record.  While it sounds like Haley Reinhart and James Durbin both have management deals in place, there's no word whether or not they've signed to a label.  If she tries to put out a boring Leona Lewis ballad album, I will absolutely flip my sh*t.  No joke. Look out for "This Time" July 12th and while you're waiting, check out Toscano's American Idol releases on U.S. iTunes HERE.

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Vanessa Carlton Premieres New Song, Sets New Album Release Date

So...yeah. Vanessa Carlton had a gig here in Boston and I missed it. So bummed! I've seen Vanessa live two or three times now, so missing out on a live gig makes me super super sad. Oh well. I'll get over it and she'll undoubtedly be back. Carlton is currently wrapping up a small club tour, promoting her forthcoming new album, Rabbits On The Run, due out July 26th (originally due a month earlier) on Razor & Tie Records, as well as two supporting gigs, one with Matchbox 20 and one with Five For Fighting. Carlton released the album's first single, "Carousel" back on May 3rd. Check out the stunning video, directed by Jake Davis (Flyleaf, My Chemical Romance) HERE.

Calling the single "a hopeful song that came out of a very dark place," and "a tune I just woke up singing" {SOURCE} Carlton continues along the musical path that she started with her last album, incorporating layered vocals over sleepy little piano-driven melodies. You can hear Carlton's harmonies distinctly throughout the song, which creates a cool effect, especially with the addition of The Capital Children's Choir, who can be heard singing in the background. "Carousel" was written by Carlton and produced by Steve Osborne (U2, B-52's, KT Tunstall). "Carousel" failed to impact any of the Billboard charts. Disappointing, considering Carlton hasn't had a charting single since 2008's "Hands On Me." Even more discouraging...Carlton's last time on the Hot 100 was 2004's "White Houses." Perhaps "Carousel"'s failure to chart had something to do with why the release date was pushed back?

The album was recorded in Peter Gabriel's world renowned Real World Studios with producer Osborne and additional collaborators including Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket and Ari Ingber of The Upwelling (all of whom play on the album).
"Partly inspired by two books, Richard Adams' Watership Down and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Rabbits on the Run is 10 song set of gorgeous, haunting melodies and finely crafted stories, including the lush first single "Carousel,” the ambient and “Hear the Bells” and the propulsive “London.”
Three-time Grammy nominee Vanessa Carlton first emerged onto the scene back in 2002 with her debut album, Be Not Nobody. Featuring the hit single "A Thousand Miles" Carlton dazzled the world with her deep, meaningful songwriting and her brilliant kills on the piano. What Carlton lacks in the vocal department, she more than makes up for in engaging storytelling and skillful musicianship. Playing the piano since she was a toddler, Carlton attended the School of American Ballet in New York, ultimately abandoning a career as a dancer in favor of one as a songwriter. After signing to A&M/Interscope Records, Carlton released her first two albums.

While her sophomore release, Harmonium was critically acclaimed, it was not a chart success, peaking at #33 on the Billboard 200, a far cry from her debut which peaked at #5. Carlton released her third album, 2007's Heroes & Thieves on Irv Gotti's The Inc label (distributed by Universal Motown), quite unexpected considering Gotti's association with hip-hop and R&B music. The album was yet again critically acclaimed but failed to connect with the music-buying public, stalling out at #44. After releasing the album's final single, "Hands On Me" in 2008, Carlton seemingly dropped out of sight, only surfacing again recently, with the announcement of her record deal with Razor & Tie.  So nice to have one of my favorite artists back.

Carlton recently premiered a new album, "Dear California," on The "70's-sun-drenched" song is less sleepy than "Carousel," featuring more in the way of instrumentation (drums, guitar, piano) and hauntingly beautiful harmonies by Carlton, who can be heard singing both lead and backing vocals.  Rabbits On The Run, available for pre-order now on U.S. iTunes so get it done HERE and stay tuned for word on a live performance on The Jay Leno show later this month.

Tour Dates:

July 7: San Francisco, CA – Swedish American Hall
July 8: Los Angeles, CA – Largo
July 9: Temecula, CA – Pechanga Resort & Casino w/ Matchbox 20
July 22: Highland Park, IL – Ravinia Festival w/ Five For Fighting

Check out Vanessa Carlton on the web:

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Darren Hayes Is Back: New Single, New Video, New Album In The Fall

No question about it. Darren Hayes is one of my favorite male vocalists of all time. Ever since I first heard him on the radio, singing as 1/2 of pop duo Savage Garden, I've been mesmerized by his flawless tenor, unique sound and flawless falsetto.  My adoration continued with the release of his sophomore solo album, The Tension and The Spark and subsequent singles "Pop!ular," and "Darkness."  While I somehow missed the 2002 release of Spin,  Hayes' first foray into solo popstardom, I've since educated myself and count "Insatiable" as one of my favorites in his catalog.  Now, with the release of "Talk Talk Talk," I am mentally preparing myself for another classic Darren Hayes album.  I am so freakin' excited!

Following the split up of Savage Garden, Darren Hayes recorded his debut solo album Spin, produced by Walter Afanasieff, who had previously worked with Hayes on Savage Garden's sophomore album, Affirmation.  First single, "Insatiable" peaked at #3 in Hayes' native Australia and #1 in New Zealand.  Internationally, "Insatiable" was a top ten hit in both Sweden and the UK, even peaking at #77 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #11 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Chart.  Hayes went on to release 3 more singles from the album, "Strange Relationship," "I Miss You," and "Crush (1980 Me)," all of which were top twenty hits in the UK.  The album itself did alright on the charts as well, coming in at #3 on the ARIA Album Charts, #2 on the UK Albums Charts and #35 on the Billboard 200 chart.

By the time I realized Darren Hayes was recording solo music, he was already gearing up for the release of his second album, 2004's The Tension and the Spark, produced by Hayes and Robert Conley.  The album was decidedly more electronica-influenced than his debut, which more teetered on the edge between pop and R&B.  Released in September by Hayes' long time label Columbia Records, The Tension and The Spark failed to have the same impact as his debut, peaking at #8 in Australia and #13 in the UK.  While first single, "Pop!ular" was a hit at home (peaking at #3), over the in the UK it just missed the top ten, coming in at #12.  Over in the States, "Pop!ular" earned Darren Hayes his first and only Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play #1, thanks to a remix package that included mixes by Almighty, Wayne G, Peter Presta, Jason Nevins, Guido Osorio, Johnny Budz and more.

After the release of Truly Madly Completely: The Best of Savage Garden in 2005, which featured two solo tracks by Hayes' including one of my favorites, "So Beautiful," Hayes announced that he had parted ways with his label, Columbia Records, and started his own indie label Powdered Sugar.  2007 saw the release of Hayes' third album, This Delicate Thing We've Made, much of which was co-written by Conley and produced by Justin Shave.  The album was preceded by a promotional single, "Step Into The Light," which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart with remixes from Dave Pezza, Hook N Sling, Moto Blanco, Shave and Sugar, Tony Moran and Wayne G & Andy Allder.  The first official single, "On The Verge Of Something Wonderful" was an electropop gem co-written and co-produced by Hayes and Conley, featuring remixes by Wayne G and Justin Shave.  The single was a top twenty hit in the UK and peaked at #29 on the ARIA Singles Chart.

"Talk Talk Talk" is Hayes' first single since 2008's "Casey," off his third album.  Co-written and produced by Carl Falk (Delta Goodrem, Nicole Scherzinger, Gavin DeGraw), mixed by Robert Orton (Lady Gaga) and mastered by Bob Ludwig, "Talk Talk Talk" is a brilliant and very welcome comeback for Darren Hayes, who's been out of the spotlight entirely too long if you ask me.  According to Hayes, "Talk Talk Talk" can be described as "peace talks between two lovers at war," and is "a slice of glorious synth-laden modern pop with swirling live strings and heartfelt lyrics" according to the press release.  The single, released worldwide on June 23rd is the first to be taken from Hayes' fourth album, Secret Codes and Battleships, due out in October through Mercury Records/Universal Music Australia.  Surprisingly, the single only managed to peak at #79 on the ARIA Singles Chart, which isn't promising at all.  Check out the visually stunning video below, directed by Hayes' longtime partner Richard Cullen.
Check out Darren Hayes on the web:

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Melody Thornton Goes From Singing Riffs, To Singing Songs

Melody Thornton is arguably the second most talented SINGING-member of Robin Antin's Pussycat Dolls pop group (although Kimberly Wyatt has certainly proved herself with new band Her Majesty and The Wolves) and after many past rumblings about a solo career, the time has finally come for Thornton to shine. Released independently on June 16th, Thornton's first single, "Sweet Vendetta" is a lovely Motown throwback that really showcases her vocals. This retro-inspired pop song really goes to show how just under-utilized Thornton was as a member of The Pussycat Dolls. Sure, Melody would chime in on the occasional riff or two, but everybody knows that PCD was the Nicole Scherzinger show. Now that she's solo, she seems ready for the inevitable journey from member of a highly successful pop group to struggling solo artist. Thornton recently took the time to speak to Rap-Up TV, saying:
"I’m hoping by next year I should have something together as far as an album goes, but we’re just doing it song by song. I did ‘Sweet Vendetta’ on a shoestring budget. I’m funding it myself, independent artist." {SOURCE}
In an interview with The Source, Thornton explained her influences for the new album, reportedly called Hit The Ground Running, as being 60s influenced, citing influences like James Brown, BB King, Aretha Franklin and the Jackson 5.  While working on the new album, Thornton has collaborated with the likes of Cee-Lo Green, Polow Da Don and Lil Wayne and expects an album release sometime in early 2012.  Thornton recently finished up a stint on UK reality series, Popstar to Operastar, being eliminated third.  Listen to "Sweet Vendetta" below and download it on U.S. iTunes HERE.
Check out Melody Thornton on the web:

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Hot Video Alert: Ulrik Munther - Moments Ago

17-year Ulrik Munther has been called Sweden's answer to Justin Bieber, due mainly to his immense talent and young age. While I definitely see the similarities, Munther appears to posses a certain innocence that Justin Bieber lacks. In addition to being a gifted singer/songwriter, this multi-talented musician plays both the guitar and the harp.  While I think that the Bieber comparisons are flattering, Munther is absolutely his own artist, and a talented one at that.

At the age of 17, Munther is already a bonafied YouTube phenomenon, with over 5 million views on YouTube following the release of his debut single "Boys Don't Cry" and his fabulous cover of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." "Moments Ago," released June 17th in Sweden, is Munther's latest single taken from his forthcoming debut album, due out August 24th via Universal Music Sweden. Check out the video that Munther made for his song "Moments Ago" while visiting record companies in LA earlier this year. You can download the new single on Swedish iTunes HERE, including an acoustic version of the track.
Check out Ulrik Munther on the web:

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