Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Katy Perry is the latest addition to a growing list of superstar performers taking the stage at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, which airs live May 20 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET from the MGM Grand Arena.
The pop star will be debuting her new song, "Wide Awake," written for her upcoming film "Katy Perry: Part of Me," live on the BBMA stage.
Previously announced performers include Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, LMFAO, CeeLo Green, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, The Wanted, Linkin Park and Nelly Furtado.
In 2011, Perry became the only woman in history to earn five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from the same album. Her "Teenage Dream" set spun off the No. 1 Hot 100 hits "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg), the title tracks, "E.T." (featuring Kanye West), "Firework" and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)." She nabbed another No. 1 this year, with "Part of Me," the first single from the special edition album "Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection."
The "Teenage Dream" album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2010 and has sold 2.2 million copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.
2011 was a banner year for the singer, as she was also the most-played artist on the radio according to Nielsen BDS (with 1.5 million detections of her songs registered on all formats) and had three of the top 10 most-played songs of the year ("E.T.," "Firework" and "Last Friday Night"). She was also the top selling artist of 2011 in terms of digital track sales, according to SoundScan, with 15.2 million sold. Last year, her "E.T." collabo with West was 2011's third-biggest selling digital song in the U.S., with 4.8 million sold. Collectively, her career digital song sales in the U.S. stand at 41.3 million.
Additional acts will be announced in the coming days.
Adele, LMFAO, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne are the leading finalists. Adele takes the lead as a finalist in 18 award categories, while LMFAO is a finalist in 17 categories. Rihanna lands in 13 categories this year, after leading the pack with 18 category appearances in 2011. Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne each snagged a spot in 10 categories.
Hosting this year's event will be "Modern Family" co-stars Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell.
Tickets for the 2012 Billboard Music Awards are now on sale at Ticketmaster.com and MGMGrand.com. The 2012 Billboard Music Awards will be co-executive produced by Richard D. Beckman, CEO of Prometheus Global Media and Don Mischer Productions.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Dr. Luke, Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams are just a few of the hitmakers who appear in the production and songwriter credits of Adam Lambert's sophomore album, "Trespassing." But it's not the impressive roster of collaborators that makes the boldest statement in the credits. It's the forthcoming set's executive producer: Lambert himself.
While it is rare for an artist to executive-produce his or her own release, Lambert, the flamboyant season eight "American Idol" runner-up, insisted on having full creative control of what he admits could be the decisive album of his career, his moment to prove himself as more than a TV-fueled seasonal sensation. "That's why I've been so obsessed and neurotic about it and why I wanted to be the executive producer and co-write a lot of it," he says of "Trespassing," due May 15 on RCA Records/19 Recordings.
"This is a big make-or-break thing for me, especially for someone who comes off of 'Idol,'" he says. "I did have a hit, which was great. That was one big step. Now what? Is that going to be it? Am I a one-hit wonder? So I wanted to get really involved in the process to make sure I was doing everything I could to create a great album." He pauses. "And I think I did."
It's a drastic change from the approach taken with the singer's 2009 debut, "For Your Entertainment," which was hastily recorded during an "American Idol" summer tour in the months following his appearance on the TV show. Despite reaching No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 838,000 copies (according to Nielsen SoundScan) and nabbing a top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Whataya Want From Me," the release felt rushed and was mostly a "guessing game" in terms of choosing songs that would properly portray his musical style and connect with fans, Lambert says.
This time around, Lambert, who turned 30 earlier this year, doesn't have to deal with the pressure of churning out an album quickly to capitalize on the promotional momentum of "Idol." He's spent more than a year writing new material and working closely with RCA senior VP of A&R Rani Hancock to bring on other collaborators, including Benny Blanco, Bonnie McKee, Nile Rodgers and Sam Sparro. The result is a 12-song set (the deluxe edition features three bonus tracks) of electro-dance-funk and dark emotional ballads that display a more contemporary pop sound and move away from the theatrical glam-rock and vocal showboating of Lambert's full-length debut.
"He's really made a record that's different than what he made coming off of 'Idol,'" says Dana Collins, one of six artist managers working with Lambert at Los Angeles-based Direct Management Group, which also helms the career of Katy Perry. "You get off that, you're on the treadmill and you jump into the studio and get presented with four dozen songs. You choose the ones you like, record them and tour at the same time. Then you go out and promote that record."
Lambert says the subject matter of "Trespassing" is much more personal than "For Your Entertainment." "I wanted it to reflect my social scene, not just what I knew my fans were going through," he says. "So I'm writing about my gay friends-you know, going out and getting laid. I'm in a relationship right now, so I'm exploring monogamy and a serious thing, which is really cool. But I was single before that and there's a lot of joy in that, too. So there are songs about going out and getting freaky."
Lambert also feels the new album showcases his maturity as an artist. "Going into album two, I know who I am as an artist now," he says. "The last time I felt like I had to do all this stuff to prove something. With ['Trespassing'] it's a bit more like, 'Oh, that's a dope song. That's a cool melody. That's a cool groove. That's a cool song.' Not, 'Look how high I can sing that note 30 or 40 times in one song.'"
RCA's promotional campaign for "Trespassing" includes a heavy push at mainstream and adult top 40 radio, numerous summer radio station concert bookings and a May 17 performance of Lambert's newest single, "Never Close Our Eyes" (co-written by Mars and produced by Dr. Luke), on "American Idol." To superserve Lambert's hardcore fans, known as Glamberts, the label offered preorder deluxe packages of "Trespassing" exclusively through his website, AdamOfficial.com. The most expensive of them-a limited-edition $274.99 boxed set that includes six lithographs, a deluxe version of the CD, a vinyl copy of the album and a behind-the-scenes DVD of Lambert in the studio-sold out the 100 available copies in minutes.
But even with a fan base that reaches many parts of the world, Lambert and his team say that it'll be a challenge releasing a second album without the benefit of having 20 million people seeing him on "American Idol" twice per week for three months. "I'm sure it's going to reflect in things. It's a different climb right now," Lambert says. "It's through the music that I'll have to get on people's radar. Not based on the TV show."
Direct Management Group's Martin Kirkup, whose firm began working with Lambert last summer after the singer's departure from 19 Entertainment, says the process of reintroducing the artist to the marketplace will simply revolve around getting as many eyeballs on him as possible and then allowing the music to speak for itself. That started earlier this year with performances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Logo's NewNowNext Awards and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
"We feel he has good recognition because of 'American Idol,' but really when you get to your second record everything is starting off fresh. Whatever audience you brought with you from 'Idol,' whatever the perception you have-some of that remains," Kirkup says. "But basically you're now going to thrive or fail based on your own talent or skills. The most important thing we can be doing is getting people to see Adam, whether that's on TV, live or on video."
RCA VP of marketing Nick Pirovano says that Lambert is still very much in the artist development stage. "We're breaking an artist," he says. "We want him to be more than just an 'American Idol,' and that takes time."
But there's still the matter of where Lambert fits into the current musical landscape. Although he performed classic rock songs from Led Zeppelin, U2 and others during his stint on "Idol" and will front upcoming international dates with Queen, the artist mostly identifies himself as a pop act. It's been challenging finding his place in the female-dominated genre, he says.
"There's not a blueprint for me to follow," Lambert says, referencing how Justin Bieber seems to be following a path mapped by Justin Timberlake. "There are female artists I can look at that I find more in common with than the male artists, because they're blending the pop, dance and theatricality . . . but currently there aren't a lot of guys who go there."
RCA hopes to expand on Lambert's pop appeal through radio. Senior VP of promotion Adrian Moreira says the singer's strongest format is adult top 40, whose listeners tend to be females age 18-34. To build on that demographic, Lambert visited mainstream and adult top 40 stations across the country in March to meet with programmers and music directors and perform acoustically for listeners.
"With the first album you're committed so much to stuff around 'Idol' that there wasn't really an opportunity to get him into these stations," Moreira says. Additionally, Lambert will record a live performance in New York on May 15 that will later stream on more than 100 Clear Channel station websites.
The promotional campaign for "Trespassing" began in December with the release of first single "Better Than I Know Myself." Despite some national TV performances that followed the release, the single failed to garner much attention at radio, peaking at No. 18 on the Adult Top 40 chart in late April. Moreira believes the label will have more success with the uptempo "Never Close Our Eyes," which will be supported by performances on "Good Morning America" (May 14) and "American Idol" (May 17). The single goes to stations on May 28.
In lieu of immediately touring behind "Trespassing," Lambert's summer plans include eight North American radio station concerts and six overseas shows singing for Queen. Direct Management Group's Kirkup says the management team wanted to keep the artist's schedule open as press and media opportunities arise in global markets. Lambert cites the Philippines, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the United Kingdom and parts of Scandinavia as international markets where he's had the most success. A proper tour will likely occur at the end of this year or in early 2013. The singer's last North American tour of primarily clubs and theaters in 2010 grossed $2.7 million from 30 concerts that attracted nearly 65,000 people, according to Billboard Boxscore.
Kirkup hopes that the upcoming Queen performances in Russia and Europe expose Lambert to an audience that might not discover him as immediately a pop artist. Lambert notes that there aren't any plans to perform additional concerts with Queen but says he's open to any type of collaboration with the rock band, including recording an album together like Queen + Paul Rodgers' The Cosmos Rocks in 2008.
For now, Lambert is focusing on pushing his career forward with "Trespassing." "There are people in the industry or fans who will look at that statement and say, 'But it's Queen!'" he says. "I know that, and I know it's a big honor. But the most important thing for me is to be authentic. And I'll be the most authentic doing the music I wrote."
Katy Perry has been a very busy pop star over the past two years, scoring five Hot 100 No. 1s off her 2010 effort "Teenage Dream" and another topper in February with "Part of Me," off the "Complete Confection" collection. She'll try to do it again with "Wide Awake," which hits radio later this month.
"I swear, after this song, I'm taking a fucking vacation," Perry said following her acceptance speech for artist of the year the NARM Music Awards on May 10.
The mid-tempo "Wide Awake," written expressly for her "Part of Me 3D" movie hitting theaters July 5, is the second single off "Complete Confection." At NARM, Perry went out of her way to thank the music industry for helping her succeed, but she also allowed some of the credit to land on her.
"I have to say that I do a lot to sell my records," she said with a smile. "I do the right things… I work very hard! I like to sell out in all the best ways."
Perry, who began her music career as a Christian artist, relayed a story about growing up not being able to listen to secular music -- her parents are ministers -- and recalled when she first decided she wanted to be "what I am today."
" I wasn't allowed to listen to secular music, so every time I would go over to my friends house I would make them turn on MTV real quick. And one of my friends… one day pulled out a record, a song in particular called "Killer Queen" by Queen.
I remember hearing that song and -- I don't know if you have that moment in your memory because you work in the music industry -- there was that one song that hit you like a shockwave and I remember falling down in what felt like slow motion in my bed listening to the lyrics of "Killer Queen." And I thought to myself, 'Oh my gosh, this music is incredible. These lyrics speak to me…' and that's what made me want to be what I am today.
So thank you for selling that record to her, so that I could have that one moment, that epiphany that led me to this place today. "
As previously reported, Perry, who said she's going through a "goth" phase right now, also made a business-related comment to her label during her acceptance speech, referring to the still-pending merger of Universal and EMI.
"I would like to thank my amazing record label team at EMI/Capitol Records. Long live EMI!" she said, before switching to a low growl, "You haven't taken us down yet Universal."
Saturday, April 14, 2012
"It's a shame, in a way," the Scottish-born producer/singer/songwriter says, calling in after DJ'ing to a jam-packed crowd at Chile's Lollapalooza as his biggest solo hit to date, "Feel So Close," climbs the Billboard Hot 100. (The single rises 14-13 this week, its ninth on the chart, and has sold more than 500,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.) "Now America seems to like the song, and I'm getting offered things like 'Letterman' or whatever. Two years ago I would've been there in a shot, but now I don't want to do that. I don't want to be the man in the front with a microphone."
Even in today's explosive electronic dance music (EDM) scene, with cult favorites becoming superstars ( David Guetta, Skrillex, Deadmau5) and emerging producers becoming arena headliners ( Avicii, Swedish House Mafia), Harris' ascent is unique.
A vocalist-cum-producer, Harris first made noise with his 2007 Columbia U.K. debut, "I Created Disco," on which he sang lead on self-produced electro-dance cuts like "The Girls" and "Acceptable in the 80s." The cover of the album was featured as part of a multicolored 2008 iPod nano campaign on TV and in print in the United States. The project shifted 250,000 copies in the United Kingdom, according to the Official Charts Co. That success secured him touring slots with fellow electronic acts Faithless and Groove Armada, led to studio time with artists like Kylie Minogue ("In My Arms") and Dizzee Rascal ("Dance Wiv Me") and, eventually, a U.S. deal with Ultra Records.
His first Ultra release, 2009's "Ready for the Weekend," yielded the Dance Airplay chart hits "I'm Not Alone" and the title track (Nos. 23 and 15, respectively), but didn't quite match the same commercial success stateside as his debut -- "Ready for the Weekend" has sold 16,000 copies domestically, according to Nielsen SoundScan, compared with 18,000 for "I Created Disco." He spent the coming year handling a handful of remixes for the likes of the Ting Tings ("Great DJ"), Shakira ("She Wolf") and Katy Perry ("Waking Up in Vegas"), touring as a solo artist and building a reputation in the EDM scene as an electro-pop production whiz.
But shortly after his "Ready for the Weekend" tour wrapped in mid-2010, Harris found himself at a crossroads-should he pursue his still-burgeoning career as a vocalist, or take his talents to other artists as a producer? "I want each track to be as good as it can possibly be, and that usually means me not singing on it," Harris says. "I thought I'd exhausted every avenue [on the two albums] and it takes a long time to make me sound good, which is why I stopped singing live as well. I'd like to think of someone who's better-looking, a better singer, better dancer to be the frontperson for the song."
Mark Gillespie, a founding partner of dance-artist management company Three Six Zero Group and Harris' manager since 2006, says, "Everything he's ever done has always been a minute ahead of its time."
That all changed in late 2010 when Harris accepted an offer to tour Australia with Rihanna, a deal struck between Gillespie and Roc Nation co-founder/president Jay Brown that eventually led to a formal partnership between the two companies in January 2011. Before heading out on the road, Brown pushed Harris to bring his "best beats," as Harris remembers it, to his client Rihanna.
"It took me about eight months to get it together and give her something that was good enough," Harris says, but when he did present it to her, while Rihanna was on the road wrapping her 2011 Loud tour, Harris was suddenly at the right place at the right time. The song was Rihanna's smash "We Found Love," which Harris wrote and produced. (He receives sole credit.) It appeared on Rihanna's "Talk That Talk" and spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 on its way to selling 4.2 million downloads so far (according to SoundScan) and becoming Rihanna's biggest chart hit to date. Another Harris collaboration, "Where Have You Been," will be "Talk That Talk's" fifth single.
Much like "We Found Love," "Feel So Close" showcases Harris' skills as a topline writer and producer-making him a one-stop shop. Ultra Records founder Patrick Moxey likens Harris' talents to those of Pharrell Williams, whose band N*E*R*D he signed to Virgin Records in 2001.
"There are a lot of guys we work with in dance and electronic music where if you try to make their stuff pop or cross to the mainstream it just sounds wrong and contrived," Moxey says. "But Calvin effortlessly makes records with credibility that are embraced by all kinds of people. He's just got a natural feel of the organic sense of making feel-good, successful records."
Riding the momentum from "We Found Love," Ultra launched its campaign for "Feel So Close," which had been available digitally since August 2011, on Jan. 1. The strategy was helmed by Moxey and Richard Palmese, a veteran marketing executive at RCA and Arista (now a consultant for Front Line, whose parent company Live Nation also owns Roc Nation), and centered on a major artist-integration program with Clear Channel that featured Harris talking about the song in custom spots. The spots aired on 104 mainstream and rhythmic top 40 stations from March 4-18.
"Calvin wasn't here to do television to do 'GMA' or make an appearance on 'Glee' or something, so one of our concerns was we needed to identify the song to Calvin," Palmese says. The campaign delivered close to 15,000 spots and 51 million on-air impressions, according to Clear Channel national programming platforms president Tom Poleman, which helped yield a major sales spike from No. 54 to No. 13 on Hot Digital Songs during the course of its two-week run.
"What's interesting was that people started to respond not to just the song but to Calvin Harris," Poleman says. "It was really instrumental in putting that face to the music."
Still, after singing lead on every track of his first two albums, Harris is happy to leave the vocal duties to a growing roster of superstar guests for his upcoming third album, tentatively slated for a late summer release on Ultra. But his newfound credibility as a solo artist could also turn him into a superstar producer/DJ on par with Guetta.
"Calvin can make hits either way," Moxey says. "It was very exciting to have a record with his voice on it, but it's also equally exciting to hear him working with Ne-Yo or the other records he's making for this album."
Though Poleman thinks "Feel So Close" could climb well into the summer, videos for Harris' upcoming single "Let's Go," featuring Ne-Yo (out April 30), are already logging hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Harris says he's "two-thirds" complete with the new album, and hints that there are at least three more single-worthy tracks featuring "some of my ultimate pop star idols," none of whom he would confirm.
Harris also recently collaborated with Cheryl Cole and Scissor Sisters on tracks for their respective next albums. In addition, rumored ex-flame Ke$ha reportedly has several Harris-helmed tracks on her upcoming third LP, and Coldplay's Chris Martin and Guy Berryman reportedly tapped him for a new single.
How Harris' next album is distributed remains a question mark-Sony is prepping a global push through Columbia U.K. (where Harris also has an A&R role through his Fly Eye imprint), but Ultra is expected to play a key role in the U.S. rollout.
"They get what we do," Gillespie says of Ultra. "As far as electronic independent labels go they're probably the best in the world."
But one thing isn't up for debate. Singing or not, Harris will tour the festival circuit well into the summer beginning with a high-profile slot at Coachella on April 15 and 22, and continuing with gigs at Apache Pass in Austin (April 27), Elements Music Festival in Edmonton, Alberta (April 28) and Landstreffet in Norway (May 5). He'll also make a few stateside appearances at the VIP grand opening of Atlantic City, N.J.'s new Revel Casino (May 19), Electric Daisy New York (May 20) and WIOQ Philadelphia's Springle Ball on May 22, and he was just announced as a featured DJ at Lollapalooza in August.
Perhaps most notably, he's the top-billed DJ at iHeartRadio's first Ultimate Pool Party at Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hotel (June 29-30), which should further boost his name recognition among pop audiences on a bill that includes Enrique Iglesias, Maroon 5 and Flo Rida. He'll also make frequent trips in between gigs to Las Vegas, where he's scheduled to play 30 dates throughout 2012 as part of his ongoing residencies at nightclubs XS and Surrender. Beyond that, plans for a proper headlining tour are on hold until at least the fall as Harris' recording schedule shows no signs of letting up.
But even as Harris finds himself at the forefront of today's pop-meets-EDM moment-with Nicki Minaj packing her new release Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded with several Ibiza-worthy singles from producers like RedOne, and Poleman pointing to Usher's upcoming work with Swedish House Mafia as potentially massive-he aspires to be less David Guetta and more Norman Cook. Best-known as Fatboy Slim, Cook can still jump from projects with collaborators like David Byrne to spinning for massive crowds at electronic music festivals nearly 15 years after his "Rockefeller Skank" heyday.
"Nobody knew what he looked like, but every song kind of sounded different," Harris says of Cook. "He made this kind of catchy dance music where there was vocals in it, it wasn't all instrumental and still had an identity. There just wasn't necessarily a human face that you attached to it."
Friday, January 6, 2012
It's no secret that rock 'n' roll has fallen behind chart competitors such as pop and hip-hop in recent years, but one unlikely artist says she's ready to return the genre to its former glory.
"I feel like I don't necessarily agree, but people say that rock and roll is dead, and it is my mission and my goal to resurrect it in the form of my pop music," Ke$ha told MTV News. "That's the goal. We'll see what happens. That's a very ambitious and lofty goal, but that's my goal."
While critics of the glitter-loving singer might call that a "Mission: Impossible," Ke$ha is starting 2012 by showing her range: her stripped-down cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" will appear on Amnesty International's "Chimes of Freedom" tribute compilation, due Jan. 24. The acoustic effort is far from the club-centric singles that led 2010's "Animal" to the peak of the Billboard 200.
"You might hear a little bit more vulnerability on the next record 'cause I have realized just from this Dylan cover coming out that it can be such a strength and a nice balance to humanize the other side of my personality," Ke$ha said. "I have learned over the past three years of doing this that being vulnerable doesn't mean you're weak. I very much want to be seen as a strong woman, but I realize that vulnerability can also be a strength. So on my next record, you are going to hear probably a little more of that. I'm not going to make an acoustic, sad entire record."
She added that she and producer Dr. Luke have been working on new material independently and will "go into the studio" together this month to begin recording.
In the meantime, fans of Ke$ha's less sensitive side can hear her in her element on the December-released second "Sleazy" remix, which landed Lil Wayne, T.I., Wiz Khalifa and another appearance by "Sleazy" remix veteran Andre 3000.