Wednesday


Career Bio for Entertainment Journalist Chuck Taylor
Contact: blueplanetpub@yahoo.com

CHUCK TAYLOR
"Words Neatly Arranged"
* 30+ years as a career journalist
* More than 2,000 published articles and interviews
* Billboard magazine writer/editor/critic/columnist
* Grammy voting member

* Award-winning journalist for Spot News & Feature Writing, SPJ
* Published BMI songwriter
* On-air DJ WWOD/Lynchburg, Va., Host Billboard Radio 

   Countdown for 8 years
* Voiceovers, commercials: "That guy has a macho, commandeering voice!"
* Established media commentator
* Artist CD liner notes and career bios by the dozen (including Celine Dion, 

'N Sync, Backstreet Boys)
* Blogger, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

* Freelance writer: Words Neatly Arranged, LLC
* No relation to Converse All-Star sneakers: “I’m the other Chuck Taylor.”

Saturday

WHAT'S HAPPENING: NOW & NEW

With 1,500+ professional bio assignments and music critiques, I'm pleased to have garnered PRO SELLER status on fiverr.com. This webbie has proved to be more than supplemental income... with a steady flow of gig orders, thanks to stellar feedback, fiverr has become a means to pay the bills. I'm mighty proud of my good work for the site.

On Friday, June 13, 2014, I appeared on ABC News' "20/20" in a segment on lip-syncing. Please find a link to the show here! (The segment appears in the last 10 minutes of the episode.)

February 2014: New life last month, from NYC to Norfolk VA, where the sun shines, meaning my WORDS NEATLY ARRANGED for you have all the more effervescence!
718 260 9004: Here to serve all writing needs.


November 2013: Check out my appearance on Russian TV Moscow's "Truthseeker" series, yakking about lip-syncing (just after the 8-minute mark). 




August 2013: Now available on Music XRay: Professional music critiques! Thrilled to have been accepted into this quickly burgeoning music community. See more on the MusicXRay.com site.


May 24, 2013: A little more than a week to go before launch! See Boomer-Livingplus.com...



May 15, 2013: FUSE NEWS, segment on how Celine Dion has changed the face of Las Vegas. Thursday, May 9...


May 5, 2013: Launched in JUNE 2013 and continuing throughout 2014!



April 30, 2013: CONTRIBUTING TO BOOMER LIVING PLUS



THE 10 BEST SPOKEN-WORD SONGS OF ALL TIME

ArchetypeMe.com: LINK HERE.

February 2013 appearance on Fuse News... Click for link!

Tuesday

BIOGRAPHY

Entertainment journalist Chuck Taylor served as a writer, editor and critic for Billboard magazine in New York for more than a dozen years, where his roles included Senior Editor/Talent, Senior Writer, Radio Editor, AirWaves columnist and Single Reviews Editor. In addition, he co-launched and hosted the Billboard Radio weekly online countdown from 1998 to 2006. The show was scripted by legendary Billboard veteran and author Fred Bronson.

For Billboard, Taylor has written profiles on such artists as Celine Dion (seven page 1 stories), Britney Spears, Elton John, Bette Midler, James Taylor, Tony Bennett, Barry White and many more. In all, he has interviewed more than 1,000 entertainers and music executives. He also penned liner notes for Jive Records’ “N Sync's Greatest Hits,” and Celine Dion’s “These Are Special Times” and “A New Day Has Come” for Sony.

Taylor has been interviewed on an array of music and pop culture topics on ABC's “20/20,” “CBS Evening News,” CNN, VH1's “Behind the Music,” MTV, A&E's Biography," Fuse News and E!; and has been quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, TV Guide, People, Entertainment Weekly and numerous others.

He is a voting member of NARAS (the Grammy Awards) and a published songwriter for Young Pals Music/BMI. Taylor has also co-authored full-length memoirs with Liz Derringer, the "rock wife" of musician Rick Derringer and an acclaimed music writer for such publications as Interview, Oui and High Times; and with singer/songwriter Tinatin Japaridze, whose Eurovision entry “Is It True," was voted the global competition’s Best Song Ever. Both book projects are aligned with literary agencies, with pending book publishing deals.

Other broadcasting experience includes an on-air stint at country WWOD-AM and adult contemporary WKZZ-FM in Lynchburg Va., his hometown, as well as voiceover work for commercials, theater and musical recordings.


Taylor graduated with honors from James Madison University (journalism & speech/English), then lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for 11 years, including journalism jobs at the Washington Business Journal and Radio World. He lives in Hampton Roads, Va.

For Wikipedia entry, please click here.

RESUME

CHUCK TAYLOR
Brooklyn, NY 11201 / nystrele@yahoo.com

CAREER
WORDS NEATLY ARRANGED, 2009-current
Proprietor solo freelance LLC, reporting, writing bios and press releases for countless music acts, New York clubs, businesses and the like.

FEATURES EDITOR, BROOKLYN HEIGHTS BLOG, 2010-2013
Part-time writer, editor and photographer for leading Brooklyn neighborhood blog, reporting pop culture, real estate, activities, food, nightlife, etc.

REPORTER, RADIO-INFO.COM, NYC, 2012
News reporter & feature writer for leading radio industry online website.

THE SMOKING NUN BLOG, 2008-current
Name-brand daily blog TheSmokingNun.com:“Pop Culture With A Saucy Slant.” Upwards of 800 hits a day.

AUTHOR, "West Meets East: Behind The Iron Curtain," 2011-2012. Co-author of non-fiction 75,000-word memoir with singer/songwriter Tinatin. Digital publishing deal signed via Robert Astle & Associates, due for release in 2015.

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE/BILLBOARD.COM, NYC, 1995-2009.
Senior Correspondent. Reported, wrote long-form entrepreneurial music business trend stories, artist profiles, spot news, Web scoops for industry’s leading weekly print/online trade publication. Profiled 2,000+ entertainers and music executives. 2003-2009.

Single Reviews Editor. Lead critic: Wrote, assigned, edited critiques of pop, country, rock, triple-A, dance, AC, urban/hip hop, Christian releases. 1998-2009.

Host Billboard Radio online countdown; 485,000 hits per week. 1999-2006.

Senior Editor Features/Music Editor. Reporting, writing, copy flow, deadlines, line editing, headlines, artwork, proofing, style/grammar; assisted managing editor with content direction; synergy between edit/copy/production desks; conceived and wrote BackBeat society page; news and feature reporting for multiple sections. 2001-2003.

Senior Writer. Conceived, reported, wrote feature-length page 1 enterprise stories on industry trends and personalities. Spot newswriting at deadline. Liaison on all coverage and voice of publication with Editor in Chief. 2000-2001.

Radio Editor/Columnist. Commandeered five-page section on radio programming’s impact on music business; editing, production, newswriting for other sections; launched weekly “AirWaves” column, comprising artist profiles & industry perspective on hit records: third most-read column. Supervised annual Billboard Radio Conference, lined up speakers, scripted awards ceremony, coordinated with events staff, moderated panels for 1,000 attendees. 1995-2000.

RADIO & RECORDS/BILLBOARD RADIO MONITOR, NYC, 2004-2009.
Senior Editor, Features/Managing Editor. Integral role in Billboard Radio Monitor’s 2006 buyout of heritage radio industry weekly R&R. Breaking news for 24/7 web sites, in-depth coverage of broadcast issues, intensive line editing, proofing. Oversaw copy flow, enforced deadlines, staff tutorials in style, consistency and voice. 2004-2009.
Top 40/AC Format Editor/Columnist. Print and online coverage, industry ambassador for nation’s leading top 40/adult contemporary programmers/personalities. 2004-2007.

RADIO WORLD NEWSPAPERS, Washington, D.C., 1988-1995.
Editor Tuned In magazine. Conceived content, timbre of radio management/programming monthly. All editing, production, budget, editor’s column. A one-man show. 1994-1995. Managing Editor Radio World International (RWI). Direction of management/technology bi-weekly, editing, production, design. Columnist “USAirplay” on stateside radio programming trends in RWI and Radio World (RW). Reporter RWI/RW. Coverage of FCC, business, technology, industry trends.

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, Arlington, Va., 1985-1988.
Sections Editor/Reporter. Wrote, edited, layout of weekly focus on regional industries; covered media, technology, finance, real estate, regional business news.

FUND FOR AMERICAN STUDIES, Washington, D.C., 1984-1985.
Director Georgetown University’s American Political Journalism Conference, Faculty/Director Institute on Political Journalism. Lined up Washington media elite as speakers, screened/recruited 100 students.

ON-AIR RADIO PERSONALITY, Lynchburg, Va. 1980-1983.
DJ for the market’s top-rated country WWOD and sister AC WKZZ. News writing and reporting.

ACTIVITIES & ACCOLADES
 Voting member NARAS (Grammy Awards).
 Media commentator ABC’s “20/20” (‘N Sync), CNN (radio technology), “CBS Evening News” (Michael Jackson), A&E’s “Biography” (Donny & Marie Osmond, Wahlberg Brothers, Celine Dion, Vanilla Ice, Shaun Cassidy), VH1’s “Behind the
Music” (Celine Dion), “E! True Hollywood Story” (Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Nelly Furtado), MTV, BBC, NPR, many more.
 Quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, Time, London Observer, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parade, TV Guide, Seventeen, People, Us, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, many more.
 Published songwriter, affiliated with Young Pals Music/BMI.
 Authored liner notes for 2008 reissue of Celine Dion’s “A New Day Has Come,” 2007, “These Are Special Times,” 2005 “N Sync Greatest Hits,” two dozen Time-Life compilations. Wrote foreword for Celine Dion biography "Passion Celine" (2002).
 Editor In Chief for start-up travel/tourism website NY2C.com, 2011-2012.
 Advisory Board, New York Ronald McDonald House, 2008; Backstage Bistro Awards, 2008-2009.
 Entertainment correspondent BBC Radio (2002-2004).
 Editor In Chief, initiating all editorial content for online start-up WeLoveFreeMusic.com.
 Full chapter profile in "How to Get a Job in the Music Industry," Keith Hatschek/Berklee College of Music, second edition (2007).
 Contributor "Billboard Book Of No. 1 Hits" (2008), "Billboard Book Of No. 1 Adult Contemporary Hits" (1999),  "Musichound Lounge, The Essential Album Guide" (1998).
 “Single Slice” columnist Pro Audio Review magazine (2001-2005).
 News/features reporter for Lynchburg, Va., News & Daily Advance (1983-1984).
• Society of Professional Journalists awards for spot news and feature reporting.
 Crew Leader 2010 U.S. Census Bureau: Supervised 45 enumerators during field ops, conducted training, number crunching, payroll, countless reports. Fell in love with Brooklyn while canvassing 12 distinct neighborhoods.
 Proficient in Quark (QPS), Teamsite web posting, HTML, digital photo editing,
intimate knowledge of AP Style.
 Active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, 500-800 daily hits on pop culture/opinion blog (“The Smoking Nun,” TheSmokingNun.com).
 Ordained Minister in the five boroughs of New York City.
 No relation to Converse All-Star sneakers: “I’m the other Chuck Taylor.”

EDUCATION
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., Bachelor’s degree Journalism/Speech, English minor, cum laude.

Editor "Curio" magazine, Features Editor "The Breeze" newspaper, contributor "Bluestone" yearbook, award-winning Forensics (public speaking) team member.

Sunday

CLIPS

LIONEL RICHIE STILL ON THE "GO" AFTER 30 YEARS
"Hello" may be among Lionel Richie's signature No. 1 songs, but for more than 30 years, the singer-songwriter hasn't so much as paused for a "bye for now."
The five-time Grammy Award recipient and Academy Award winner has been a fixture on the pop, R&B, adult contemporary and dance charts -- beginning in 1974 as a founding member of the Commodores, then as a solo artist and producer from 1981 on -- with a consistency seldom seem in the music business.
A quick count: six R&B chart-toppers with the group, then five No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs -- and on the adult contemporary (AC) list, 11 No. 1s that have spent a staggering total of 51 weeks riding the chart's crest, including "Endless Love" (with Diana Ross), "Truly," "All Night Long (All Night)" and "Say You, Say Me."
Now, the title track and first single from Richie's new album, "Just Go," due May 19 on Island, has catapulted into the AC top 20 in only three weeks, a rare feat for a radio format that is not known for chart momentum. The song is also gaining on the adult R&B tally, where it is No. 31 for the week ended February 22.
"What freaking year is this?" asks Richie with a laugh. "This opens up a wonderful feeling of 'I remember this.' Times like these make it all the more exciting. In a way, this feels better than the days when everything was still ahead, with 'Brick House,'" the Commodores' top-five 1977 hit.
Collaborating with Richie on the new album are contemporary hitmakers The-Dream, Tricky Stewart and, on the playful reggae-splashed single, Akon.
"You never know how these things are going to go, but we could have recorded a whole side of the album," Richie says of hip-hop singer-songwriter Akon. "I am used to being the control guy -- the writer, producer, arranger and singer. But Akon understands melody, he's a storyteller. We wrote this song in two and a half hours. It was a love fest. I told him, 'You are Lionel Richie 2009.'"
Richie's recipe for longevity? "If you've got a good tune, you've got a couple of years to work it. If you've got a song, you can have a career. Songs stick," he says. "Somewhere along the line, parents played my records over and over again for their children. Now their kids are showing up. It's college time all over again, which is amazing."
In addition, long-term success requires adapting to an ever-evolving industry. "There's a difference between the music business and the business of music. You can go to bed tonight with a No. 1 record and wake up tomorrow ice cold. Survival is about taking time to make record labels and radio understand who you are -- your brand. This is a business of relationships, and it's still my responsibility to go meet the DJs. A lot of artists forget that."
Richie will extend his hand to audiences with a 100-date European tour launching in March in Dublin and wrapping in May in Belgium. Stops in the United States and Australia follow.
"I'm kind of laughing at getting to go through this whole process again," Richie says. "It's been an unbelievable journey. In my head, I'm just getting started. Call me in 20 years and we'll talk about the next chapter."


DION TAKES "CHANCES" WITH HARDER SOUND AS "DAY" ENDS
It's the fourth standing ovation of the evening as Celine Dion soars through another of her signature hits. The reverent audience at Las Vegas' Colosseum at Caesars Palace -- many of whom have planned their vacations around these 90 minutes -- appears to be in awe.
She has lived this moment for some 700 nights since launching her "A New Day" residency at the resort in March 2003, but Dion still appears stunned by the reception. She bows gracefully before the 4,000 fans, then raises her arm to share the moment with the troupe of 70 dancers and musicians who fill the stage with her.
"A New Day" is credited with helping catapult Las Vegas' reputation as a destination for A-level talent. Dion has sold 3 million tickets there, according to Billboard Boxscore -- and grossed $370.4 million through mid-September 2007.
But come December 15, Dion will have left the building.
"Five years ago, I had done it all. I needed a new challenge," Dion says. "I wanted to offer my fans something more theatrical and spectacular than anything we'd done before. I never felt I had anything to lose."
She consistently filled 4,000 seats five nights per week at the Colosseum, a $95 million theater custom-built for the show. Billboard Boxscore ranked the AEG Live residency among the top five grossing concerts worldwide each year.
But at first not everyone had high hopes for the undertaking, she recalls. "People were still questioning us after one week, two months, the first year," Dion says. "Now we can say we've changed something. It's hard to leave behind, because we started a family with everyone involved in the show. But it's time for something else."

ROCKING OUT
Enter "Taking Chances," her first English-language album in three years. Due November 13 via Columbia, the set signals a sonic left turn for Dion. In a 25-year career often trademarked by hits that soar, the adult-contemporary immortal here more often roars, accompanied by an abundance of guitars and a tempo that's brisker, with a deliberate rock tint.
"It's not a new Celine," she says. "There was no deliberate plan after five years to do something else. But I'm like everyone. I'm 39 now. I don't look like I did 10 years ago, I dress differently -- and I don't sing the same. I have more edge and felt like doing something different."
Dion offers a candid view of her perceived reputation, suggesting that as she was building her career, perhaps she was steered in a direction that kept her stylistically staid.
"When people sent me all those romantic songs to make people feel better or to cry, I went there because I had to prove myself," she says. "Those songs are great and made me who I am today. It wasn't a mistake, but I didn't have a lot of choices. Do you think I wanted to hold those long notes forever and kill myself onstage every night? But everybody always sent the hardest songs to sing to me: 'If somebody can hit those notes, it's Celine Dion.' And I can do it; I can hit them, baby.
"Now maybe we're all tired of those 10-second notes -- the writers, the people -- and they've evolved, too," she continues. "Maybe no one thought I was capable of doing anything else, but I've got Heart and Doobie Brothers and Janis Joplin and Creedence Clearwater Revival inside of me, too."

IN JOPLIN MODE
An electrifying standout among the album's 16 tracks is "That's Just the Woman in Me," a song Dion has considered recording for 20 years. But she never felt it was the right fit for previous albums. Written by Kimberly Rew, it implores, "I need a man to love/Respect me, protect me, rule over, drool over/That's the woman in me, baby."
Dion says, "I was amazed that song waited for me, that no one had recorded it. But now I was scared -- I'm used to such control, and this needs to be sung like Joplin. I got myself into a character and put myself into abuse mode and started to sing through my soul and not my vocal chords. I sang it through twice; I didn't want to work on it, because its honesty needed to be felt. When we played it back, I began to tremble, because I could not believe it was me."
On the album's dramatic cover art, Dion wears her hair teased with extensions into a near-lioness mane, her facial expression curiously cryptic. The idea was all hers.
"Maybe there's a look that people expect, but this is show business. Come on, it's still the same me, but I decided that I don't have to paint on a smile to show what's inside," Dion says. "Don't look at my lips and my hair; look into my eyes and feel me, baby. I am smiling there and giving more than ever before. Come with me. Listen and imagine me however you want."
Fans will be able to do just that on the arena/stadium tour in support of "Taking Chances," which kicks off February 14, 2008, in Johannesburg with eight shows there that month. (Proceeds go to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.) Dion then treks to the Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America. The yearlong outing will cover five continents, 25 countries and more than 100 cities.
These shows will be far less intimate than "A New Day," which Caesars Palace president Gary Selesner says "reinvented how entertainment is perceived in Las Vegas."
Dion is primed for this next chapter in a stellar career.
"This is the best album of my life," she says. "If you have a child with all the potential in the world and you don't give him or her the chance to explore, it's a loss. My voice and my body are in the best shape ever. I'm more mature and grounded. I need to express myself and show that I feel great and beautiful."



MIDLER RETEAMS WITH MANILOW
Barry Manilow recalls waking from a dream earlier this year with Bette Midler on his mind.
"It was the 1950s in my dream, and Bette was singing Rosemary Clooney songs," Manilow says with a smile. "Bette and I hadn't spoken in years, but I picked up the phone and told her I had an idea for a tribute album. I knew there was absolutely no one else who could do this."
Midler says, "The concept was absolutely brilliant. I loved Rosemary. I had a lot of respect for her, and I missed Barry. And those songs are magical."
The resulting "Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook," released Sept. 30 under a one-album deal with Columbia, is a loving tribute to the singer, who died June 29, 2002.
It also showcases some of the most intimate and cultivated vocals of Midler's lengthy career.
The set clearly has connected with fans, too. "Songbook" debuted at No. 14 on this week's Billboard 200, boasting Midler's biggest opening week ever, with 71,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
For Midler, the timing couldn't have been better. Her longtime contract with Atlantic ended in 2000, and Midler hadn't made a record in a couple of years. "It was time," she says.
"I'm a big believer that coincidences happen for a reason. I just decided it was meant to be; there was no reason to pluck the idea to death and think it to dust," she explains.
Shifting easily from reverent elegance to a loose, frolicsome swagger, the 11-track disc -- Midler's 19th -- covers Clooney's heyday, from 1951 to 1958.
It includes her No. 1 Hot 100 hits "Hey There" and "This Ole House," along with "Sisters," originally recorded with Clooney's sister Betty and now a jamming big-band duet between Midler and Linda Ronstadt.
For "On a Slow Boat to China," Clooney's pairing with Bing Crosby, Manilow sings playfully with Midler. She also daintily covers "White Christmas," from the 1954 film starring Clooney and Crosby.
"Songbook" opens a new chapter for the world-class entertainer. Her 35-year sojourn in show business has taken her from New York's bawdy bathhouses to an Academy Award-nominated role as a drug-addled blues rocker in 1979's "The Rose." From there, it was double Grammy Award wins for song of the year with power ballads "Wind Beneath My Wings" (1989) and "From a Distance" (1990).

FULL CIRCLE
The new project brings Midler full circle. Manilow was her arranger in the early New York days, and he produced her first two albums: "The Divine Miss M," which won her the first Grammy for best new artist in 1973, and "Bette Midler," the platinum follow-up.
"Barry was with me for the whole ride up," Midler says. "We didn't talk about what was happening to us at the time. We just kept doing this date and that date. We never once stopped to say how amazing it all was."
The two perfectionists also gained infamy for their fuel-injected disagreements. Midler smiles and recalls, "Epic battles. Very stressful times. We argued a lot, especially during the live shows.
"There were also some wonderful times, but we ended badly. He sort of stomped off -- really to start his own career -- and I said, 'Ah, let him go,"' she adds, waving her hand. "I was pissed off, and I didn't want to confront what had happened," Midler says. "I figured that if Barry was irreplaceable, I couldn't go on."
Manilow adds, "We're both high-strung and passionate and opinionated." And 30 years later, he remains a man with a clear vision: "I put the 'p' in prepared," he says.
Manilow assembled an 84-piece orchestra in Los Angeles and recorded the bulk of the instrumentals in three days. Midler rehearsed and then stepped in to record her vocals in only two days.
"Two days!" Midler exclaims. "I tell you, Barry took all of the agony out of it. He chose the material, hired the band, called the arrangers, booked the studio, did the mixes. It was like I was the girl singer -- like Rosemary was at one time.

ONLY ONE BETTE
A central goal was to conjure the magic of Clooney's original songs while gently stamping them with Midler's signature.
"I didn't want to annoy anybody by taking on these songs," she says. "But these arrangements are more contemporary. The tempos are quicker. And I added my own humor and sarcasm."
Manilow adds, "There is only one Bette. She's just as inventive and creative and as talented as ever. ... She was able to interpret these songs so uniquely that you always know she's there."
For Midler, there was also the self-conscious edge that came from being friends with Clooney. The two met in the early 1980s at the Fairmont in San Francisco, where the latter was performing.
Midler remembers, "She was kind enough to see me backstage, and we just sat down and started talking and kept on for a couple hours. She was as lovely as they came -- generous, warm, affectionate, with no attitude."
Manilow also knew Clooney; they met at a surprise birthday party for her hosted by Midler. She dueted with him on "Green Eyes" for his 1994 album, "Singin' With the Big Bands."
Midler, currently filming Paramount's remake of 1975's "The Stepford Wives" (co-starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close and Faith Hill), will bring the "Songbook" to life with her upcoming Kiss My Brass tour of North America. It opens Dec. 10 in Chicago and is scheduled to run through February. The tour, her first extended run in four years, comprises 40 dates so far, including two nights at New York's Madison Square Garden.

DIVA DEVOTION
For Manilow, the creation of "Songbook" with Midler is a dream come true and marks the latest in a line of creative endeavors with some of the world's most-prized divas.
Previous collaborations with Dionne Warwick and Nancy Wilson garnered Grammy nominations.
Just before reteaming with Midler, he produced (with Eddie Arkin) Diane Schuur's "Midnight," an album of original songs co-written by Manilow for the jazz great.
Manilow is pleased with this latest experience. "Bette is still funny as hell and inventive and just a doll to work with," he says. "We laughed, and we learned a lot from each other."
And, he adds with a wink, "We're still talking to each other afterward."
Midler says, "We had a fabulous, fun-filled time. This album makes me very happy. If Rosemary could hear it, I think she'd say, 'Nice try, kid."'


WHOOPI GOLDBERG THRIVES IN RADIO
Whoopi Goldberg surrounds herself with little formality, so the conversational, down-to-earth bent of her nationally syndicated radio morning show, "Wake Up With Whoopi," is what fans have come to expect. The show, distributed by Clear Channel-owned Premiere Radio Networks, airs in 12 markets, including four of the top five.
The Grammy, Academy, Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner has been a public figure for more than 20 years, but she obviously regards her new gig as seriously as anything she has ever taken on. Since the show launched last August, individual stations have seen overall audience growth of more than 30%, while the total number of listeners aged 12 and older has swelled 30% to 1.55 million, according to Arbitron.
During a recent interview, she guided a reporter into the cement stairwell 20 paces from her radio studio on the 18th floor of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper, where she could steal the occasional smoke.

WHO DO YOU AIM TO REACH WITH YOUR SHOW?
GOLDBERG: I don't know who the audience is, but somebody's listening because people keep calling. That's all I depend on. My job is to talk for four hours and try to be amusing.

WHAT SORT OF REACTION HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM LISTENERS?
GOLDBERG: People stop me on the street and say it's nice to hear a show their kids can listen to. They know now that I'm not going to bamboozle them and throw something in that's going to make them uncomfortable driving with their kids.

HOW HAS THE RADIO INDUSTRY PERCEIVED YOU, AS ONE OF FEW WOMEN TAKING ON THE MEDIUM -- AND A CELEBRITY -- DIPPING INTO BROADCASTING?
GOLDBERG: I know that there's been very little faith, except with (Clear Channel senior VP) Jim Ryan (who hired Goldberg and placed her on WKTU New York) and the folks at Clear Channel. People have their idea of what celebrities are and, unfortunately, I'm kind of painted with a celebrity brush.

OBVIOUSLY, YOUR EXTEMPORANEOUS SKILL AS A COMEDIAN MUST LEND ITSELF TO BROADCASTING.

GOLDBERG: I don't come from just the world of films. I'm from the stage, where I communicate as one person to a group of people out there. I'm writing my stuff, and if things go wrong, you handle it.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HISTORY WITH THE RADIO BUSINESS, AS WELL AS THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE THAT YOU'VE ALREADY COME FACE TO FACE WITH.
GOLDBERG: I've always held radio people in very high esteem. Back in the day you listened to (R&B) WWRL (New York) and then went over to (top 40 WINS) 1010 before they went to news. Everybody listened to music because we all carried a transistor.
There's this small contingent out there that feels I've infringed on their space. I've been a star for 20 f---ing years. I don't need to prove that or compete with anybody. I wasn't prepared for the negative, the nastiness. I've loved Howard Stern for years, but he made a comment on his show, and I wrote him and said, "I haven't worked in three years. Do you realize there is no safety net for me? You have satellite, but I didn't have anybody, so, yeah, I am glad to have a job, honey. What's the matter with you?" And he went on-air the next day and said, "You know what? I got a note from Whoopi, and I'm really glad she's doing this."

WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THOSE WHO QUESTION YOUR LONG-TERM COMMITMENT TO GETTING UP AT 4 A.M AND SITTING IN THE
STUDIO ALL MORNING?
GOLDBERG: This is my job. Why would I take it any less seriously than anything else I have done? I have to prove myself over again, and that's fine. That's what I signed on to do. There's no other singular female voice in the morning, so we have our niche. Hopefully, we'll be able to make it last a little while.


NYC CLUB KINGS JOHN BLAIR, BETO SUTTER & BRANDON VOSS LAUNCH NEW YORK’S XL NIGHTCLUB, CABARET & LOUNGE

Cutting-Edge Venue First To Open In Urban Gay Resort THE OUT NYC; Cabaret Redefines Genre With Unprecedented Production Values

The boys are back in town. New York nightlife impresarios John Blair & Beto Sutter, alongside party promoter Brandon Voss, now launch their grandest and most ambitious project yet. The 11,000-square-foot XL Nightclub, Cabaret & Lounge is poised to again redefine the queer experience in the nation’s largest metropolis.

XL, which opened in January 2012, is the first phase of what is perhaps the world’s most expansive, all-encompassing urban gay resort, THE OUT NYC, comprising a posh three-story, 105-room boutique hotel with three outdoor courtyards, a 24/7 café and upscale restaurant Kitchen 510, business & conference facilities, a wellness center, and function space for major events and weddings. The $30 million, 90,000-square-foot oasis was developed by New York-based Parkview Developers, with managing partners Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass.

Located at 510 West 42nd Street between 10th and 11th avenues in the heart of New York’s theater district and flanking Hell’s Kitchen “gayborhood,” THE OUT NYC is designed to be a consummate destination for travelers and locals, alike.

The XL Cabaret, in particular, raises the bar on what has historically defined the age-old genre. Sutter explains, “I came from Brazil as an actor and producer. When I moved to New York, I was surprised to find that the center of the world in terms of theatrical production offered nothing comparable on the cabaret level.” Their mandate was to design a room for rising theater, cabaret and comedic talent to classical acts and rock bands that offers not only spectacular sound, but a comparable level of production: “Cabaret performers looking to step it up had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent equipment at a major venue in the city, which made it unfeasible for most.”

No longer. XL Cabaret’s roomy stage offers fully customizable theatrical lighting and a multimedia system unmatched in New York by any venue catering to the genre. With seating for up to 200 and standing room capacity for 650, the space can be customized for the most intimate setting or a full-on concert. “We provide the technical goodies for every performer,” including rear-projection LED effects or a high-definition video screen, Sutter assures. “That’s been the fun part of this process.”

Here’s how a visitor’s experience progresses: The XL Lounge is open seven days a week at 4 p.m. Three hours later, at 7 p.m., a dramatic drape opens to reveal the expansive candle-lit Cabaret space, which provides entertainment until 11 p.m. (When the restaurant opens in May, tapas and light fare will be offered.) The setting then transforms into the Nightclub, open daily until 4 a.m. Naturally, disco balls abound—six in all—along with three fog machines that infiltrate either floor-level, mid-level or a full glow encompassing the room; and a futuristic light show that infuses the dancefloor with hi-def 3D images via six space-age moving-head projectors.

Ancillary areas are just as gob-smacked: Two bars to each side of XL are intimately lighted, while dramatic handrails create luminescent white stripes throughout the space. And let’s not forget the restrooms… Blair and Sutter’s previous success, the sleek, upscale XL Bar in New York’s Chelsea, which thrived from 2001 to 2006 (until it lost its lease), was renowned for a giant fish-tank in the men’s room. The duo recognized that space as a call to arms to create a comparably provocative parallel for the new XL (in fact, that is among the reasons the name was reborn). The bathroom is adorned in glossy black with a bi-level flamboyant ambiance that must be experienced to believe.

Blair notes, “When we were designing and planning this club, we wanted to put together all the best from every space we’ve experienced. The lounge is very upscale for the early hotel crowd, while the dance floor is very Roxy. Our bottle service area has been a staple of straight clubs for years, but is brand new for gay nightclubs.”

Indeed, it takes a trip 30 years back in time to comprehend Blair and Sutter’s impact on New York nightlife. In the 1980s, the pair created the city’s biggest weekly gay dance night, Roxy Saturdays, which remains legendary in the pantheon of queer culture. Before that, Blair owned two gay gyms in Los Angeles in the ‘70s, and launched a successful Sunday tea dance there at gay club Studio One, fostering local renown. After arriving in New York, he opened another fitness center and pawned out gym passes at the iconic Studio 54, which, with owner Steve Rubell’s encouragement, quickly garnered him a rep as a grade-A promoter.

Partnering with Sutter, the pair became the Who’s Who of New York gay nightlife, aligning with clubs Palladium, Tunnel, Club USA, Limelight and Splash, as well as nightlife magazine NEXT, JB’s restaurant and, in the millennium, their own XL. With Voss now by their side, we have gay New York’s ultimate entrepreneurial power trio.

“Everything has its time,” Sutter reflects. “In the ‘80s, these venues were like church: Gays were protective about having a safe haven. There was a lot of death and discrimination.” Today, he acknowledges the community has evolved: “We are more welcoming of a straight crowd, and vice versa. There’s the loyalty of our core customers, but the barriers have come down. That’s progress. A new generation wants to share, socialize, to see new and different things, whereas before, perhaps the nightlife represented a sense of escape.”

Voss adds that appealing to that new generation of club-goers was top of mind in devising all areas of XL. “Before the advent of online dating and social media, people had to go to bars and clubs to meet others or to hook-up,” he says. “Gone are the days you could open a big room, call it a gay club and fill it up since it was the only place they could get laid. Now they can do it all from the convenience of their home. We recognized that we have to offer something special to get people out: great DJs, entertainment and a fabulous venue like XL.”

Blair adds that because New York systemically closed down many of the city’s dance clubs over the past eight years, “we were left with venues that were not really built as nightclubs. The younger generation really never experienced places like the Roxy or Sound Factory, so XL will be new and exciting for them. And the generation that did know those clubs in the past are bored with what has been out there more recently. It all comes down to XL filling needs for both of these different generations.”

The new XL brings the best of the partners’ past experience into their vision for the future, as they honor a number of their best staffers from previous ventures. Partner Voss was once a bartender at the original XL Chelsea; Roxy’s former GM serves as XL’s day manager; Roxy’s head bartender is XL’s bar manager; and a waiter from the original XL in Chelsea is now a manager. In a word, Sutter says, “It’s family.”

As of February, XL Cabaret already has a versatile roster of performers on the books, including No. 1 Billboard dance act Kristine W; MAC Award winner Gary Hall as Jessye Normous: The World’s Biggest Opera Diva and High Fashion Model; Broadway’s Shoshana Bean (Wicked, Hairspray ); and drag legends Lady Bunny & Bianca in “Hot Mess.”

Sutter says, “Of course, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past, but like everyone else, we’re ready to move on. After three years of planning, it’s exciting to walk through the space and realize it’s exactly what we imaged, and that we might have had a part in creating the future of New York entertainment. We’ve had fun; I hope everyone else will, too.”

Adds Blair, “I love the creation process. It’s long, hard and sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding. And now here we are. The younger generation likes to think they are unique, but let’s face it: Peoples’ likes and needs are the same now as they’ve always been. Hopefully, they will all be met at XL.”


MÖTLEY CRÜE CELEBRATES THREE DECADES OF DECADENCE
Perhaps the most momentous accomplishment of Mötley Crüe’s rock n’roll legacy is the fact that its original members have survived to tell their tale. Piled alongside the grinding guitar riffs and ball-busting lyrics that have long defined the rabble-rousing heavy metal quartet are enough bottles of booze, anthills of coke, bail bonds, willing women, body brandings and dysfunctional decadence to fell many a lesser man.
And yet—30 years in—vocalist Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee commandeer the rock pantheon not as a nostalgia act hearkening the rancid good ole days, but instead as one of the most enduring musical ensembles in history. Mötley Crüe’s rock royalty emanates with as much kickass iridescent relevance in the millennium as it did in the 1980s.
Historically, The Crüe’s bragging rights comprise worldwide album sales exceeding 80 million—25 million in the U.S.—seven platinum or multi-platinum albums, 22 top 40 mainstream rock hits, six top 20 pop singles, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Grammy nominations for Best Hard Rock Performance, a bestselling memoir, and two dozen turf tours logging more than 1,350 live gigs across the globe, to date. The band’s output encompasses nine studio and two live albums, six compilation CDs, three box sets, nine DVDs, and 24 singles with accompanying music videos.
Individually, the gang of four is as notorious as its collective. Over the decades, Neil has released three solo albums, including the top 15 “Exposed” in 1993. He was married to mud wrestler and fashion model Sharise Ruddell, while business ventures have included Japanese strip club Girls, Girls, Girls, a Las Vegas tattoo parlor, winemaking and tequila ventures, and the Vegas Off The Strip Poker Tournament.
Lee formed platinum-selling nu metal band Methods of Mayhem in 1999, and released 2002 top 10 solo album “Never a Dull Moment,” followed in 2005 by “Tommyland: The Ride,” which reached No. 1 in Australia and the U.K. He was married to Heather Locklear for eight years, then Pamela Anderson for five years—gaining infamy via their well-traveled sex tape. Lee also judged CBS reality series “Rock Star,” and wrote his autobiography “Tommyland” in 2004.
Sixx’s best-known personal exploit is his publicized life-threatening addiction to heroin, before he cleaned up in the late 1980s, illustrated in brutal detail in the best-selling 2007 autobiography “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star.” Musically, side acts include 58, Brides of Destruction and Sixx:AM; while he has co-written songs for Alice Cooper, Saliva, Meat Loaf and Faith Hill & Tim McGraw. In 2010, Sixx became a syndicated radio host of weeknight show “Sixx Sense” and weekend “The Side Show.”
Mars, meanwhile, maintains a more private persona, in part because of a lifetime battle with a chronic form of arthritis. Except for contributions to albums by Hinder, Murderdolls and Papa Roach, he remains the quiet one among The Crüe. Murmurs continue to circulate that he is preparing a solo album.
Mötley Crüe first catapulted into public view in 1981, as the foursome distinguished themselves from the punk- and New Wave-soaked Sunset Strip, donning New York Dolls-debauched leather, raccoon eyeliner and metal-studded jewelry, courting glam adornment as much as its barbaric musical signature. Stylistically suggesting Alice Cooper, Kiss and Aerosmith, Neil’s caterwauling vocals and Mars’ melodic guitar riffs prompted a management contract with Allan Coffman, who financed indie debut “Too Fast For Love” that year. With the group’s burgeoning Southern Cali popularity and first tour, Crüesing Through Canada, the album sold 20,000 copies—enough to spur interest from Elektra Records, which remastered “Too Fast” for release in 1982, followed by sophomore “Shout at the Devil” in 1983, produced by Tom Werman, who helmed three Crüe projects.
That album propelled the band nationally, with three hits at rock radio, including the raucous title track—which became The Crüe’s first calling card, frightening the bejesus out of parents across the land—and “Looks That Kill,” whose bombastic fire-breathing music video was championed by MTV. Within a year, the sleaze-infused album was certified platinum, reaching the Billboard 200 top 20, as the band embarked on its first year-long headlining tour, while supporting rock gods Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Van Halen.
From there, Mötley Crüe’s trajectory soared like a rocket. In 1985, third effort “Theatre of Pain” became the first of five consecutive top 10 albums. An undeniably mass-appeal cover of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ In the Boys Room” introduced the band to the mainstream, reaching No. 16 at top 40 radio, followed by power metal ballad “Home Sweet Home,” and multi-platinum home video “Uncensored” in 1986. “Theatre” ultimately reached 4X platinum—as did 1987’s fourth studio disc “Girls, Girls, Girls,” which debuted at No. 2, while the raunchy title track peaked at No. 12 at pop radio and No. 20 at mainstream rock. The album was notably confessional, divulging the darker side of the group’s indulgent lifestyle—and its potential pitfalls—made all the more poignant when Sixx’s heart stopped for 2 minutes after one of several heroin overdoses.
The band returned in 1989—clean and sober—with “Dr. Feelgood,” replacing Werman with producer Bob Rock, who proffered a slicker, more refined rock sound. It became Mötley Crüe’s first and only No. 1 U.S. album, selling 6x platinum while churning out six rock and four top 40 hits, including the grimy title track, its biggest pop smash at No. 6 on the Hot 100; power ballad “Without You,” its second top 10 pop hit; and chug-along rock smash “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).”
In addition to Mötley Crüe’s strongest critical acclaim yet, “Dr. Feelgood” and “Kickstart My Heart” were both nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy Awards, as the group embarked on a third year-long worldwide tour. At this point, Neil, Lee, Sixx and Mars had ascended to the top of the hard rock heap—mind you, with two decades of achievement still ahead.
The 1990s began with compilation album “Decade of Decadence,” which debuted at No. 2 in 1991 and reached 2x platinum, fueled by a remix of the band’s final top 40 hit, “Home Sweet Home”—a sweet ballad in comparison to its earlier output, with a music video showing emotional footage from Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, the group launched its own imprint, Mötley Records, and renewed with Elektra for a staggering $25 million.
It would be five years before Mötley Crüe recorded its self-titled sixth album, after taking a break from the madness, money and music that pervaded their lives. For the 1994 project, the group adhered to its regimen of clean living—no drugs, liquor, smoking, red meat or caffeine—with new lead singer John Corabi on board, following a bitter feud between Neil and Sixx. Ultimately, Corabi’s contributions infused The Crüe with decidedly introspective lyrics, but despite positive critical reviews, fans reacted with disdain over Neil’s departure and the band’s grungier sound; so while the set launched at No. 7, it failed to achieve platinum status, scoring a single rock radio hit, the top 10 “Hooligan’s Holiday.”
In 1997, Elektra encouraged the band-mates to lick their wounds, and Neil returned to the line-up for seventh album “Generation Swine.” New manager Allen Kovac joined the team, as well as producer Scott Humphrey, who engineered a more alternative direction. It launched at No. 4, but with radio indulging all things grunge, the disc produced only one rock hit, the top 10 “Afraid,” featuring Hustler Magazine founder Larry Flynt in the video.
“Greatest Hits” was issued in 1998—marking the band’s alliance with Kovac’s Eleven Seven Music—and included two new tracks sans Lee, who was in jail after an arrest for spousal abuse against Pamela Anderson. With sales waning, Mötley Crüe called it quits with Elektra after 17 years, although it acquired rights to its catalog and publishing in the exit negotiations—an industry rarity. Crüe infighting continued, with Lee departing, even as the group continued to ignite the marketplace, with a remastered reissue of its entire catalog, rarities collection “Supersonic and Demonic Relics” and the live “Entertainment or Death,” a collage of stage performances, in 1999.
In 2000, eighth studio album “New Tattoo” signaled a welcome return to the group’s glam metal signature, with former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo sitting in for Lee. The set fostered rock hit “Hell On High Heels”—followed by eight years of sonic down time. In May 2001, confessional, no-holds-barred memoir “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” was released, written by the four original members with Rolling Stone’s Neil Strauss. It became a sensation, spending a month of The New York Times bestseller list.
While the group members busied themselves with personal projects, output moved ever forward. With ownership of its master recordings, Mötley Records issued a three-series box set, “Music To Crash Your Car To,” in 2003 and 2004, along with a first-ever greatest hits DVD, “Mötley Crüe: Greatest Video Hits.”
At last, in late 2004, the four original members of Mötley Crüe agreed to a full-scale reunion tour—their first outing since the latter part of the 1990s—to coincide with the February 2005 release of two-disc greatest-hits collection “Red, White & Crüe.” The top 10 disc, which featured three new studio tracks, was certified platinum within six months, and served up the band’s biggest mainstream rock hit ever, the No. 4 eight-cylinder-fueled “If I Die Tomorrow.” Their Carnival of Sins outing was the No. 7 grossing tour of the year, accompanied by a VH1 behind-the-scenes documentary illustrating how management company Tenth Street Entertainment—the parent of Eleven Seven Music—reassembled the feuding members of the group.
A second live album, “Carnival of Sins Live,” complemented the tour in 2006, accompanied by a concert DVD. To celebrate their release, L.A. deemed July 30, 2006 “Mötley Crüe’s Saints of Los Angeles Day.” That year, the boys in the band were also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and co-headlined the Route of All Evil tour with Aerosmith.
In mid-2008, a reinvigorated Mötley Crüe released “Saints of Los Angeles” on Eleven Seven. The group’s ninth album and first studio release in more than a decade—thematically based on memoir “The Dirt”—reunited the classic line-up of Neil, Mars, Sixx and Lee for the first time since 1997. And fans were frothing: It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart and scored the top debut of the week on the Billboard 200, at No. 4, also reaching the top 5 in Sweden, Canada and Finland.
The title track, the first song ever released simultaneously on iTunes and as a downloadable track for music video game Rock Band—demonstrating The Crüe’s affinity for a new generation of fans—garnered a third Grammy nod for Best Hard Rock Performance, and reached No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock chart, the band’s second-highest showing—proving that you can go home again.
Mötley Crüe supported the album with its first-annual Crüe Fest American rock festival in the summer of 2008. Nearly three decades since the release of the band’s first album, the outing was the highest-grossing of the year, netting $40 million and playing to nearly half a million fans in 40+ North American cities. The Crüe Fest Tour’s partnership with Rock Band also received a nomination for Best Marketing and Promotion at the 2008 Billboard Touring Awards. The band followed in early 2009 with a second leg, the Saints Of Los Angeles Tour.
In September 2008, with Eleven Seven Music, Mötley Crüe repackaged and reissued its studio catalog of eight albums originally released between 1981 and 2000. It also issued 17 music videos, available via digital download.
Crüe Fest 2 rocked the continent in summer 2009, as the band enlisted Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool and Charm City Devils to join it on the road. During the tour, the original four members celebrated the 20th anniversary of their iconic “Dr. Feelgood” by playing the entire album from start to finish—including two tracks, “Sticky Sweet” and “Slice of Your Pie,” which they had never performed live.
The group that formed in 1981 with its glam rock sonic signature, waist-length hair and a bounty of baubles is now prepared to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2011 with a befitting tempest of fanfare, in tandem with Eleven Seven Music, including a press conference in January, before embarking on Crüe Fest 3 in the spring. In addition, a film adaptation of “The Dirt” is imminent, with an accompanying soundtrack.
Indeed, after three decades of decadence, Mötley Crüe has celebrated every possible victory—and endured all imaginable obstacles—but more so, defined the essence of stadium rock for millions of fans around the world and a new generation of rock protégés who might never have picked up an instrument if not for “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood” or “If I Die Tomorrow.” Imagine the impact… of immortality.

MUSIC REVIEWS

JOSH GROBAN
Awake143/RepriseReprise certainly had its work cut out for it five years ago when it aimed to break a young pop-classical singer named Josh Groban. Sixteen million copies of two albums later, it would be easy enough for the 25-year-old to rest easy with more of the same. But on “Awake,” Groban bounds forward via a handful of innovative collaborations with the likes of Dave Matthews, John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, Herbie Hancock, Imogen Heap and—most notably—Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Paul Simon’s “Graceland”), whom he met while touring in South Africa. There’s still plenty here to soothe and seduce his grown-up fan base—certainly first single “Don’t Give Up (You Are Loved)” and melancholy “February Song” are destined to join his greatest hits—but this collection proves that the momentous talent is just finding his footing. Already No. 1 at amazon.com based on pre-orders a week before release,  “Awake” is destined to again prove the might of the adult consumer. A retail and artistic titan.—CT

LEONA LEWIS
I Will Be
Grammys be damned for not rewarding Leona Lewis a Best New Artist nod. Despite NARAS’ embarrassment, Billboard’s No. 1 new artist of 2008 has plenty to celebrate: Alongside No. 1 album “Spirit,” bestselling single of the year “Bleeding Love,” and top 40 radio top 10 follow-up “Better in Time,” third single “I Will Be” is again paved in gold—a straight-up power ballad, which FM radio has at last recalled that the public treasures (thank you iTunes and Rihanna). The song is powered by a killer vocal that Mariah would adore, gargantuan production that scoops up a heap of cumulus clouds and a chorus and bridge that boast indelible pop songwriting. Overseas, Leona’s cover of Snow Patrol’s “Run,” added to an enhanced version of the album, became the fastest-selling download in British history and promptly shot to No. 1 last month. Alongside her consummate “Footprints in the Sand” (a bonus track on the current U.S. version),
2009 is sounding like a superlative second act for Lewis.

KATY PERRY
Thinking of You (3:57)
Producers: Butch Walker
Writer: K. Perry
Capitol
One year ago, Katy Perry’s bemusing debut single “Ur So Gay” was met with trepidation by radio (though embraced by the club community and applauded on this page). Now look at her: Grammy-nominated with No. 1 “I Kissed a Girl” and frolicking top 5 sophomore single “Hot N Cold.” Down-tempo “Thinking of You” is decidedly more earnest, as the singer/songwriter reflects on settling for second best: “You said move on, where do I go/Cause when I’m with him, I am thinking of you.” Perry maintains distinct vocal inflection, while production conjures a mid-‘90’s No Doubt pop/rock palette. Much like Pink, who credibly flip-flops from playgirl to pondering, this is an essential transition for Katy to mutate beyond party girl novelty into savvy staple hitmaker. As a woman who has played the game for longer than most realize, she has earned her keep. “Thinking” is certainly a no-brainer.


GOO GOO DOLLS  Let Love In  (4:15)
Producer: Glen BallardWriters: J. Reznik, G. Ballard, G. WattenbergWarner Bros.By the stats, Goo Goo Dolls are the most popular adult top 40 act in history—and as usual, John Reznik and company deliver a comfortable fit for the format, with a midtempo pop/rock romp big on hooks and hip enough to keep moms feeling youthful. For a while there, Reznik’s DIY accord onmaking records had put him in a rut, but thanks to some able collaborative skills from producer Glenn Ballard, the title track to the Goos’ latest album is well-crafted, plenty melodic and stands a good chance at topping the adult top 40. For good measure, a “rock” version is also included on the promo single, which turns up the guitars for hipper-leaning stations; it’s much preferred—but either way you slice it, this mild cheddar meets the taste test.—CT 

JOHN MELLENCAMP Our Country  (3:30)Producer: John Mellencamp (rock)/Tony Brown (country)Writer: J. MellencampUniversal Republic Longtime super trooper John Mellencamp returns in early 2007with his first album of new material in six years, led by “Our Country,” an appreciable fableof tolerance, hope and empowerment. Without sounding preachy, he implores, “There’s room enough here for science to live/And there’s room enough here for religion to forgive/And try to understand, all the people of this land, this is our country.” Vocally, melodically, lyrically, Mellencamp remains a master—if more for triple-A stations now than the faraway land that is today’s top 40. It’s also trendy nowadays for pop/rock artists to cross to the country charts, but as one of the original heartland performers of the past 20 years, his potential there is organic—and mighty. For the people, by the people. A jubilant return.—CT


DEPECHE MODE  Martyr  (3:07)Producer: Ben HillierWriter:  M. GoreMute/Sire/RepriseOver the past 25 years, Dave Gahan, Andy 'Fletch' Fletcher and Martin Gore have personified—defined—electronica music around the globe, with the occasional step into arena rock. Now, Depeche Mode is celebrating a notable anniversary with its “The Best of, Volume 1,” which collects memorable moments from 11 studio albums over the years. New track “Martyr” certainlymakes the mark, with its hypnotizing, synthesizer-driven imprint, urgent guitars and a sound so retro that you at first wonder if “Martyr” was pulled out of a safe, where it’s been collecting dust for two decades. Fun, reminiscent and yet fresh enough to prove that these guys are as relevant as ever. Not that there was any doubt, mind you.—CT



JASON MRAZ & COLBIE CAILLAT
Lucky (3:10)
Producer: Martin Terefe
Writers: J. Mraz, C. Caillat
Atlantic
Jason Mraz’s top 10 single “I’m Yours” transitioned the singer/songer from plucky troubadour to hitmaker at U.S. top 40, adult top 40 and AC—in addition to commanding charts in 15+ nations—not to mention a couplet of Grammy nominations. While sophomore single “Make It Mine” from gold “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.” didn’t achieve penetration, third release “Lucky” might be the charm to further propel fame, keenly aligning Mraz with co-writer and duet partner Colbie Caillat, of “Bubbly” and “Realize” notoriety. The track is again organic, dressed with some lush strings and a playful lyric about returning home from a seaside journey to true love: “I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend, lucky to have been where I have been/Lucky to be coming home again.” At this stage, both singers possess distinctively recognizable voices—and they obviously figured out kinship, because they blend beautifully. At the
least, this will conquer adult radio, but top 40 continues to at last again indulge a pliant playlist. Our bet: This pair will get “Lucky” across the board.—CT

NICK LACHEY
Patience (3:22)
Writers: G. Barlow, H. Donald, J. Orange, J. Shanks, M. Owen
Jive
Brit boy band Take That scored a career-redefining comeback with single “Patience” at the end of 2006, which spent a month at the top of the single charts at home (and in Germany, Switzerland and Spain) and won Record of the Year at the Brit Awards. It’s now recast as the first single from Nick Lachey’s third solo album—following gold 2006 album “What’s Left of Me” and the No. 6 Hot 100 title track. His reading is awfully close to the original, but it has two kudos in its corner: First, despite global acclaim, Take That is pretty much an unknown in the States, with just one hit to its credit, 1995’s “Back for Good”; and second, the song is a quintessential fit for Lachey’s record as a balladeer. His version turns up the guitars a few degrees and chugs with more urgency, showcasing a vocal that demonstrates the innate talent he proved a decade ago as a lead in 98 Degrees. While solo white males remain the exception at top 40 radio, Lachey has the (rare) advantage of a major label in his corner—and the exceptional skills of chief Barry Weiss as the day’s ultimate A&R force-field. Let’s hope FM radio realizes that its days of picking and choosing the hits with little regard for the public’s will are a thing of the past. “Patience” sounds like the start of a promising new chapter for a deserving interpreter.

SARAH McLACHLAN
U Want Me 2  (4:02)
Producer: Pierre Marchand
Writers: S. McLachlan, P. Marchand
Arista
One might think that after 20 years of melodic mastery, recently elusive Sarah McLachlan might be out of surprises. Best-of collection “Closer,” proffers midtempo ballad “U Want Me 2,” which delivers an identifiable vocal stamp and comfortably familiar production, a la “Building a Mystery.” But the sheer sonic beauty of the track’s melody at least equates previous hits, paving the way for McLachlan to reestablish as a radio staple. For all her quality output, “Want Me” is the best song she has issued this decade, a glorious return deserving adult radio reverence—and beyond, alongside Leona Lewis and Natasha Bedingfield, a Grammy bid for Female Pop Performance.

DIDO
Don’t Believe In Love (3:54)
Producer: JonBrion
Writers: D. Armstrong, J. Brion, R. Armstrong
Arista
The millennium was just blossoming when Dido catapulted in the U.S. with top 40 No. 3/AC No. 1 “Thank You” from debut disc “No Angel, followed by No. 8/AC No. 2 “White Flag” from “Life for Rent,” which sold 2.1 million copies stateside in 2003. It’s a lifetime later in pop’s pantheon, but as long as radio embraces, adults are likely to do the same—despite the fact that Dido’s musical persona remains static. Ambling, downtempo “Don’t Believe In Love” covers familiar ground and creatively, that’s disappointing—but her vocal stamp is identifiable and the song’s moody disposition conjures comfort and immediacy. Sarah McLachlan’s return with radiant “U Want Me 2” is comparable: Those searching out singers they adore will likely find kinship in Dido’s full-length upcoming “Safe Trip Home.”

TRACY CHAPMAN
Sing for You
Hard to believe it's been 20 years since Chapman drove onto the scene in her “Fast Car.” Back then she was a breath of fresh air, injecting the pop world with an earthy, folk-rock sensibility. Throughout her career, she has managed to consistently release quality albums that make the mind think and the heart feel, even managing another top 10 smash on the Hot 100  (1996’s “Give Me One Reason”) in the midst of the grunge craze, no less. Chapman's new single previews her optimistically titled “Our Bright Future” and finds the singer in pop lullaby mode, reminiscing on simpler times in her relationship when she would sing along with the radio to her lover. Interestingly, this is exactly the type of song that Jason Mraz would score big with at pop radio, with its sunny, meant-to be-sung-along-to “doo-doo-do-doo-doo do-doo’s” and a completely accessible toe tapping rhythm section. At best, this should score big at Triple A, AC, and re-introduce this fine talent to new listeners. Television placement anyone?