Blog Posts by Paul Grein

  • Meghan Trainor's Debut Album Arrives at #1

    Four months after Meghan Trainor's debut single, “All About That Bass,” reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100, her debut album, Title, enters The Billboard 200 album chart at #1. Trainor is the first artist in nearly five years to reach #1 with both his/her first single and his/her first album. Just two other artists have achieved this feat so far in the 2010s. Ke$ha scored in January 2010 with “TiK ToK” (her first single as a lead artist) and Animal. B.o.B followed suit in May 2010 with “Nothin’ on You” (featuring Bruno Mars) and B.o.B Presents: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray.

    Title moved 238K “equivalent units” this week (which includes 195K in actual album sales). (The rest of the tally reflects digital track sales and streaming activity.) That 195K sales tally is the highest first-week sales tally for a debut album since 5 Seconds of Summer's first full-length album opened in July with 259K. It's the highest for a debut album by a female artist since Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday bowed in

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  • Remembering Robin Williams, Recording Star

    (AP Photo/Touchstone Pictures)(AP Photo/Touchstone Pictures)Robin Williams, who died Monday at age 63, was of course best known for his work in film and television. But he also had a meaningful recording career. In September 1979, he had a top 10 album on the Billboard 200, Reality…What a Concept, which brought him a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. Williams was even nominated for Best New Artist that year, but lost to Rickie Lee Jones.

    [Related: Robin Williams's Most Memorable TV Roles]

    Williams went on to win four more Grammys. He actually won two in 1988: The soundtrack from his movie Good Morning, Vietnam (which reached the top 10 in March 1988) won for Best Comedy Recording, and Pecos Bill, a collaboration with Ry Cooder, won for Best Recording for Children.

    Williams's other two Grammys were for a pair of live albums: A Night at the Met (Best Comedy Recording of 1987) and Robin Williams — Live 2002 (Best Spoken Comedy Album of 2002). Peter Asher, best known for his work with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, produced the latter album.

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  • Chart Watch: Tom Petty's Record-Setting American Band

    (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)(Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

    Nearly 37 years after first cracking The Billboard 200 with their eponymous debut album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have finally landed their first No. 1 album with Hypnotic Eye. This constitutes a new record for an American band. That's fitting, because Petty and the Heartbreakers, which formed in Florida and found their footing in Los Angeles, are a quintessential American band. Their debut album included the classic "American Girl."

    This is the 15th top 10 album of Petty's career. That tally that includes nine albums with the Heartbreakers, three solo albums, two albums as a member of Traveling Wilburys, and one as a member of Mudcrutch. Hypnotic Eye is Petty's first No. 1, period, with or without the Heartbreakers.

    Among all acts, Petty and the Heartbreakers are in fourth place for the longest wait between first chart album and first No. 1, behind Tony Bennett (54 years and eight months), Black Sabbath (42 years and 10 months), and Neil Diamond (41 years and seven months).

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  • Casey Kasem: The Friendly, Yet Demanding Voice Behind 'American Top 40'

    Starting the week off on a bit of a sad note, legendary radio DJ Casey Kasem has passed away at the age of 82.Starting the week off on a bit of a sad note, legendary radio DJ Casey Kasem has passed away at the age of 82.

    I'm one of millions of people who grew up listening to American Top 40. The countdown show got me hooked on pop music in general and the music charts in particular. I was a faithful AT40 listener for more than a year before I ever so much as saw Billboard magazine, on whose charts the show was based (from 1970 through 1991). I even worked on the show for about a year as a part-time production assistant while I was in college.

    Casey had an on-air manner reminiscent of Arthur Godfrey, a top TV and radio personality of the 1950s. Eschewing the snark of many DJs, Casey treated fans as friends or neighbors. As Billboard's Gary Trust notes, Casey had a gift for "communicating genuinely and unhurriedly, traits that seem increasingly endearing and valuable in an era of largely disposable social media messages."

    The Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Trounson calls Casey "earnest, upbeat and just a little bit square." That sounds just about right. And I don't think Casey would mind that description a

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  • Casey Kasem: R.I.P. (and Thanks, Casey)

    It's fitting, somehow, that Casey Kasem died on a Sunday. His "American Top 40" was a Sunday ritual for millions of music fans for decades. Casey hosted the syndicated radio show from 1970 to 1988 and again from 1998 to 2004.

    I'm one of millions of people who grew up listening to "AT 40." The countdown show got me hooked on pop music in general and the music charts in particular. I was a faithful "AT 40" listener for more than a year before I ever so much as saw Billboard magazine, on whose charts the show was based. I even worked on the show for about a year as a part-time production assistant when I was in college.

    Casey had a friendly on-air manner that was reminiscent of Arthur Godfrey, a top TV and radio personality of the 1950s. While many DJs act snarky and hip, Casey talked to you like you were a friend or neighbor. Billboard's Gary Trust notes that Casey had a gift for "communicating genuinely and unhurriedly, traits that seem increasingly endearing and valuable in an era of largely disposable social media messages."

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  • Grammy Rule Change Allows Samples

    The Grammys have decided that "sampling" is here to stay.

    Going forward, the Grammys will allow songs that contain samples of previous songs to compete in all songwriting categories, including Song of the Year. (Until now, songs that contain samples were allowed to compete only for Best Rap Song.) This is an overdue acknowledgment that many songs nowadays contain samples or interpolations of previously-written songs.

    At the Grammys earlier this year, "Holy Grail" by Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake wasn't eligible to compete for Song of the Year because it interpolates a bit of Nirvana's 1991 grunge classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

    That usage didn't show any lack of originality. To the contrary, it was a creative and interesting choice and usage. And it was precisely the kind of reaching across genre lines that the Grammys usually champion. "Holy Grail" is mostly new, but that brief snippet automatically disqualified it from Song of the Year consideration. (The song was allowed to compete for Best Rap Song, where it was nominated.)

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  • Wanna See George Strait’s Final Show? It’ll Cost Ya.

    You say you want to get in to see George Strait's sold-old final concert next month, but you don't have tickets? You're in luck—if you're loaded. The average ticket price is $681, according to secondary ticket marketplace, Vivid Seats. The median price is $426.

    If you're on a budget, General Admission tickets are more affordable. The average there is $228. The median is $186.

    Of course, if money is no object, you might as well go all out. Floor-level seats have an average ticket price of $1,642, and a median price of $1,050.

    Now you know why they call him King George.

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  • Billboard Music Awards Preview: Your Top 12 Questions Answered

    With the Billboard Music Awards coming up on this Sunday, you're bound to have questions about this year's nominations. Here, I answer 12 of them.

    1. Jennifer Lopez is set to receive the Icon Award, which is a lifetime achievement award. Where does she fit in with past winners of this award? Well, she hasn't been around as long, for starters. And she's a woman. The previous winners were Neil Diamond, who first cracked the Hot 100 in 1966; Stevie Wonder, who landed his first hit in 1963; and Prince, who first charted in 1978. Compared to these artists, J.Lo is a newbie. She first charted in 1999. I think being a woman weighed in her favor in the selection process, as did having a connection to a genre (Latin music) that had not been represented in this category before. It will be interesting to see who they choose next year — if they'll stick with artists of recent vintage, or go back to honoring artists who have been around longer.

    2. Rihanna was named Artist of the Year at the

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  • Billboard Music Awards Predictions: Sure Things and Oddities

    Want to know a few sure-things at the upcoming Billboard Music Awards? Imagine Dragons is a lock to win for both Top Duo or Group and Top Rock Artist when the awards are telecast on ABC on May 18. Justin Timberlake is a cinch to win for Top R&B Artist. Luke Bryan can't miss for Top Country Album. And Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell have it in the bag for Top R&B Song.

    I'm not a seer, but because some categories at the Billboard Music Awards are subsets of other categories, it makes it obvious who's going to win in the "subordinate" categories. Imagine Dragons is the only duo or group, and the only rock artist, nominated for the night's biggest award, Top Artist. Timberlake is the only R&B artist (so defined by Billboard) nominated in that category. Bryan's "Crash My Party" is the only country album nominated for Top Billboard 200 Album. And Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is the only R&B song (again, so defined by Billboard) nominated for Top Hot 100 Single.

    In other categories, we can use

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  • Billboard Music Awards Preview: When Artists Compete Against Themselves

    Miley Cyrus's dominance in the streaming world in the past year is seen in the nominations for Top Streaming Song (Video) at this year's Billboard Music Awards. Cyrus has two of the five finalists: "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball."

    The other nominees are Baauer's "Harlem Shake," Katy Perry's "Roar" and "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.

    Seven other artists are competing with themselves at this year's Billboard Music Awards, which will be telecast May 18 on ABC. That's the ultimate sign of an artist's dominance in his or her category.

    Pharrell Williams is competing with himself in two categories. His smash "Happy" is nominated for Top R&B Song. It's vying with Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," on which he is featured. And both "Blurred Lines" and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," on which Williams is also featured, are vying for Top Streaming Song (Audio).


    Justin Timberlake has two of the five finalists for Top R&B Album: "The 20/20 Experience" and its sequel, subtitled

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