MAMMA MIA, HERE THEY GO AGAIN… Forget The Dark Knight. Oh sure, it’s raking it in at the box office, on track to break even more records than simply biggest opening weekend ever. But cut through all the hoopla, and it’s just a movie. Meanwhile, the No. 2 film last weekend is having a wider impact. And we don’t just mean the excitement that comes from knowing Meryl Streep can do anything and everything, including sing. She can! The real impact of Mamma Mia! is the resurge in interest in one of pop music’s most maligned and most enduring acts. Yep, ABBA‘s back! Well, not back, as in back together — they notoriously declined to regroup for a million dollars years ago. But the Tony Award-nominated stage musical that inspired the film continues to shine on Broadway after almost seven years, and now there’s the film and its soundtrack, which features new cast vocals and slightly tweaked original productions from group co-founder Benny Andersson. Andersson told Billboard he wanted to stay true to the originals but keep it interesting to those who know the music by heart. He succeeded: The soundtrack debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard‘s main album chart last week. It actually topped the British album chart, and the quartet’s songs are getting action on the singles chart across the pond, too. Plus, sales of the ABBA Gold compilation are on the rise again. Billboard reports it’s already sold over 4 million total copies in the U.S. — and that’s just among the gay population. (It’s not actually, but doesn’t every gay man own one?) Thank you for the music, ABBA….
SAY MY NAME, SAY MY NAME… Now that Destiny’s Child is really over, all those previously associated with the pop-hitmaking behemoth can finally get some attention without Beyonce hogging the limelight. Oh, wait, not so fast: The Bootylicious-est of them all is said to be readying a new album for release in November. It’s a set inspired in part by yet another upcoming film, Cadillac Records, in which Beyonce plays blues singer Etta James. Pop’s most ubiquitous producer, Timbaland, is on tap for the album, along with Rodney Jerkins….
MICHELLE’S DANCING TILL DAWN… But enough about Beyonce. What about Michelle? Michelle Williams was a gospel singer before and after her eight years in the group, and she also starred in The Color Purple musical. But now, as previously reported, she’s becoming a dance-popper. During New York Pride she performed one night at Splash, and in a new About.com interview she gushes about getting more involved with dance music and having just met one of her favorite DJs, Junior Vasquez. Well, okay then! Her dance album, Unexpected, is due in just a couple weeks. ”And we ain’t stopping till the morning light,” Williams sings about clubbing on first single ”We Break The Dawn,” which is slowly working its way up the Billboard Club Play chart and already topped the Dance Airplay chart….
KELLY’S JUST GETTING IN… Williams isn’t the only Destiny’s Child newly devoted to dance music and clubbing. Earlier this year, Kelly Rowland had a hit with ”Daylight,” a remake of a ’70s R&B song by Bobby Womack and added to a reissue this spring of Rowland’s lackluster-selling solo album from last year, Miss Kelly. ”Daylight” cracked the Top 5 of the Billboard Club Play chart earlier in the year, but it should have gone all the way — and surely would have if more people had heard the Hex Hector remix. Hector, who seems to be quietly returning to remixland, throws a little darkness and shade to what is an otherwise deceptively light and simple song, about the lure of nightlife that goes on all night. ”Most people are just getting up, when I’m just getting in,” Rowland sings. Rowland is reportedly in the studio working on her third solo set, though no word on its planned release….
THE INDEPENDENT WOMEN… And what about the earlier members of Destiny’s Child, the ones who didn’t survive the wrath of Beyonce’s dad, the group’s manager? Well, LeToya Luckett is expected to release her second solo album in the fall. It’s said to be influenced by music from the ’80s. She’s worked on it with some familiar R&B producers, from Rodney Jerkins to Babyface, as well as many of today’s biggest pop and hip-hop heavyweights, from Danjahandz to Pharell Williams to, yes, Timbaland.
Meanwhile, LaTavia Roberson is also working on a solo album with many of today’s biggest hip-hop producers, including Scott Storch, Swizz Beats and Outkast’s Andre 3000. Roberson’s album may also see light before the year’s out….
LITTLE SISTER DECIDED… And then there’s Beyonce’s little sister. Did you know Solange Knowles co-wrote Beyonce’s ”Get Me Bodied” and ”Upgrade U” as well as Williams’ ”We Break the Dawn?” Well, five years after her disappointing debut, Solo Star, maybe Solange will actually impress us the second time around. Her new album, due in late August, is awkwardly titled Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams. The set kicks off with cute, jazzy first single ”I Decided,” co-written by Pharell Williams. Aside from the expected Neptunes production, a second version, ”I Decided Part 2,” was produced by hot British dance production duo Freemasons. And the Freemasons’ more dramatic version is quickly ascending the dance charts and will be the main version released in Europe….
We Break The Dawn