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New iTunes Top 100 Albums Section

iTunes Top 100 Albums section has now gone live. For all music lovers who want to track which albums are hot sellers in each country, just use the Albums dropdown at the top of each page.

It was a quick and easy feature to add since most of the heavy lifting of templating and data processing has been done last week when the audiobooks section was added.

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New iTunes Top 100 Audiobooks Section Now Live!

A new section – audiobooks – has just been added to hotmusiccharts!

Audiobooks are great to have especially if you sometimes would rather want to listen to a material rather than reading it. Most of us drive to work everyday and spend so much time in between commutes, and listening or learning from an audiobook is definitely a great way of using those times.
Continue reading New iTunes Top 100 Audiobooks Section Now Live!

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Tegan and Sara – Closer

tegan and sara closerWhile Canadian musical twins Tegan and Sara have never really shied away from experimenting with their song’s textures, the single “Closer” may be a little bit surprising to fans, with its unabashed, synth-based bubblegum pop anthem stylings. The song still features the sisters’ trademark catchy melodies and snappy harmonies, but now they’re sharing sonic space with various synth bells, whistles, flangers, and phasers that bring to mind late 80s dance music.

The video for Closer is a throwback to the 80s, showing the sisters singing karaoke (with Sara singing like a teen who’s been drinking way too many Red Bulls), interspersed with footage of a group of friends partying via different means – from dancing and singing, to spin the bottle, to simply bouncing around on a trampoline.

While Closer, due to its club-friendly danceable tune and lyrics that lend itself well to physical intimacy, is considered by many fans as a good song to make out to, Tegan Quin herself clarified that it was actually written as a reminder of a time when sex, complicated relationships, drama, and heartbreak are not yet part of her life, in a more innocent time when getting closer meant linking arms and walking down the school hallway.

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Matchbox Twenty – Overjoyed

matchbox-twenty-north-album-coverOverjoyed is the second single off of Matchbox Twenty’s fourth studio album, North. Unlike most of the songs that have built up Matchbox 20’s career, Overjoyed is not about heartbreak or a broken relationship or any negative emotion. As the title implies, the song is all about being happy and there’s nothing but sweet, sweet love involved.

Rob Thomas’ voice, along with his uncanny ability to sing a mid-tempo ballad while incorporating intensity reserved for a rock song makes Overjoyed one of the more unique ballads out there, as the emotions Thomas is able to express melds well with the slow, simple melody punctuated by cymbal crashes as the chorus enters.

If the initial video (the placeholder one with the picture of a bride and groom, not the official one) is any indication, Matchbox 20 knows that Overjoyed is going to work well as a wedding song. It certainly provides more options, so that people will have something else to march along to during matrimony instead of adding to the multitudes of couples who tied the knot to Adele and Bruno Mars.

Those of you who don’t plan on getting married soon (or at all) will still find plenty to like in Overjoyed, especially if you were one of those teens who wore out the stereo’s Play button to Unwell, If You’re Gone, and Push.

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Linkin Park – Lost in the Echo

Linkin_Park_-_Living_ThingsLost in the Echo is one of the singles from American rock band Linkin Park’s fifth studio album, Living Things. It marks the return of the sextet after a few years of laying low. The track is also the band’s first attempt at taking advantage of social media, by releasing an interactive music video.

Lost in the Echo’s interactive music video takes advantage of a user’s facebook account in order to pull pictures from the user’s gallery, which are then made part of a pre-shot video footate, featuring a mysterious man carrying a briefcase full of photos (which contains the sourced pictures), which he then hands out to various people who cry over the pictures then turn to dust.

As for the music itself, Lost in Echo shows what seems to be a little forward progression in the band’s musical stylings. It’s still their trademark alternative rock with slow sections punctuated by crunching bridges and hard guitar-driven choruses, and Chester Bennington’s crooning still melds well with Shinoda’s simple rapping. What’s different is that the song is now less formulaic than their previous efforts (which used to be simple ballads riding on a descending chord progression), and they have abandoned the passe symphonic organ and orchestra in favor of synthesizers that bring to mind dubstep acts like Skrillex, resulting in slightly more refreshing Linkin Park song.

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Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas

3_Band_Aid_431x300The song Do They Know It’s Christmas? was written by Mdige Ure and Bob Geldof in 1984 in order to raise money for the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia. In order to raise a lot of media interest in the single, and the cause it supports, Ure and Geldof recruited several leading British and Irish musicians who were popular at the time and formed them under the name “Band Aid”.

The song is the standard inspirational anthem, with the main selling point being that each of the participating artists – all of them popular at the time – sing one line each, until it culminates into the outro “Feed The World, let them know it’s Christmas time again.” sung by everyone in unison.

The artists that participated in Band Aid include Wham!, U2, Bananarama, The Police,  Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Kool & the Gang, Big Country, Culture Club, The Boomtown Rats, Genesis, Ultravox, David Bowie, Paul Young, and Paul McCartney, making up a veritable Who’s Who of the billboard top charts at the time. Do they know it’s Christmas was revived twice since then, featuring new sets of artists and a few returning ones, dubbed Band Aid II in 1989 and Band Aid 20 in 2004.

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AWOLNATION – Kill Your Heroes

kill-your-heroesAWOLNATION’s Kill Your Heroes is one of those songs that tend to get overlooked because people see the title, look at the genre, and write it off as just another one of those heavy, guitar-driven alternative rock full of juvenile hate and angst, but the truth is that it’s actually the opposite.

For starters, Kill Your Heroes is synth-pop, featuring minimalist production elements instead of distorted guitars and crash cymbal-happy arrangements. The overall sound of the song is danceable, upbeat, and catchy. That’s not to say that there’s no strong emotions present – vocalist Aaron Bruno manages to show how strong his voice can be with some parts straddling the fine line between singing and shouting, all the while remaining melodic enough to still be singable even if you have no intentions of shouting.

Another aspect of Kill Your Heroes that runs contrary to expectations is the lyrics and the underlying message. Instead of a fist-pumping call for listeners to murder someone, the “Kill Your Heroes” part is actually just a figurative advice to let go of idolatry, to stop putting other people on the pedestal  and instead try to reach heights on your own accord.

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Melanie Martinez – Toxic

Melanie Martinez’s folk-inspired rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which was originally performed on the Sept. 17 episode of The Voice Season 3, is quite possibly one of the rare cases of a cover version not just improving on the original, but being so good that it stands well on its own, making the original obsolete.

The original version of Toxic was nothing special. The song was too simple, and does not justify even Spears’ limited vocal prowess. What it has going for it is the thumping, heavy beats framed by a gritty guitar hook. With Melanie Martinez’ version, it is the opposite – the slightly-danceable, rock riff is gone. What’s left in place is an acoustic guitar and a tambourine serving as backup. However, Martinez compensates for the thinner sonic framework by replacing Spears’ barely-considered-as-singing parts with a soulful, melodic, and ranged performance that brings the song to places that Spears can never reach even on her prime.

There are actually two versions of Melanie Martinez’ cover of Toxic. The first is the one she originally performed on The Voice, which only had an acoustic guitar and a tambourine as a backup, making it more rooted in folk, while the other version, dubbed as the Studio Version, has a more sophisticated and polished backup, resulting in the song sounding like something from Kelly Dayton-era Sneaker Pimps.

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AC/DC – Back in Black

Back in Black is one of the most recognizable tracks out of AC/DC’s 1980 album of the same name, and is also notable for being the band’s tribute song to their former vocalist Bon Scott, who died of acute alcohol poisoning earlier in the year.

The lyrics were written by his replacement, Brian Johnson, who was asked by the band to ensure that the lyrics be a celebration instead of a morbid remembrance. Which led Brian to pen lyrics that he described as “mumbo jumbo”. And it worked. Nine Lives, Cats eyes, Abusing every one of them and running wild” does not have any deep connotation. It was just fun to sing and fun to listen to. Exactly the same attitude that Bon Scott had with performing when he was alive.

As far as the backbone of the song, Back in Black represents AC/DC’s trademark sound: straightforward, no frills hard rock serving as an antithesis to the pompous art rock and overly complicated arena rock that became prevalent during the early 80s. The power chord-backed riffs are tense and aggressive, without being too self-conscious.

Clocking in at 4 minutes and featuring a guitar solo that’s superlatively played yet didn’t overstay its welcome, Back in Black doesn’t require a lot of commitment to enjoy, making it one of the first songs you should check out if you want to sample the best that the Hard Rock genre has on offer, but don’t want to be buried under too much genre baggage.

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The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”, off of their “Elephant” Album, was released as a single back in 2003, and is most notable for reaching the top spot on the Modern Rock Tracks for 3 consecutive weeks, as well as winning the Best Rock Song award at the 2004 Grammy Awards.

Seven Nation Army’s most recognizable part is the underlying riff that plays throughout the major parts of the song, which sounded like a bass guitar. This is worth noting because The White Stripes is famous for never using a bass guitar up until that point (the band is made up of a single guitarist/vocalist, Jack White, and a drummer, Meg White). The bass-like sound is actually Jack White’s semi-acoustic 1950s style Kay Hollowbody guitar, run through a digitech whammy pedal and set down an octave lower.

Seven Nation Army is possibly the best representation of The White Stripes trademark minimalist, garage rock style – no bass guitar, no keyboards, no overdubs. Just a guitar, a thumping drumbeat, and Jack White’s strained, yet powerful vocals. If there ever was a good reason why the White Stripes are credited as the frontrunners for the garage rock revival during the early 2000s, it would be this song.