Monday, June 30, 2008
"Stop Me Medley (Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before/You Keep Me Hanging On)" - Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather Version
Mark Ronson's blend of sixties pop and modern beats fascinated me last year. Besides his own album, his production work on albums by Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse solidified his reputation as a whiz-kid producer. The medley of songs by The Smiths and The Supremes is awesome, the horns and beat make it funky, but also sweet and slow.
"Can't Complain" - Nickel Creek Reasons Why: The Very Best
In this passionate ballad, Chris Thile tells of going with a girl who his buddy stands up, then things get sour. They move in together, he cheats, but he told her "I could love her/I told her I could lie/so she can't complain"
"4 Minutes" - Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake 4 Minutes (Single)
The second this track was available for legal download, I was on it like white on rice. How could I resist the siren call of Madonna working with production master Timbaland on a brassy marching band beat, while getting an assist from my boyfriend Justin Timberlake. Mmmm... Justin Timberlake ::eyes glaze over:: Wait, where was I? Oh, this song rocks!
"Breaking Free" - Porter Block Guilt By Association
I have no idea who Porter Block are, but by covering the top ten single from Disney Channel sensation High School Musical, they have taken over my iPod. Who thought you could take a cheesy duet and turn it into a three minute modern rock jam? I'm guessing they are slightly embarrassed by this contribution to the Guilt By Association album of indie rock groups covering pop guilty pleasures, since they don't mention it on their official website. Be proud! You done good.
"Kiss Me" - Sixpence None The Richer Kiss Me/Love (Single)
This jangly bit of dreamy modern rock blew up after showing up on Dawson's Creek and She's All That. But Sixpence None The Richer started life as a Christian Rock band with minor hits, but a devoted following. But even a Christian Rock fanatic like me knew them best for "Kiss Me" and that's OK.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Let's rewind a couple weeks: June 15th, 2008. I worked that day, which is nothing unusual, and about halfway through the workday I just got angry and annoyed. I didn't know why, for some stupid reason I didn't connect the dots that any dimwit could. It was Father Day, and guess who still doesn't have a daddy? I felt the lowest I had for a while, and it wasn't until a few days later someone else figured it out. It's like I tried to mentally guard myself, and it didn't work.
How does one cope with the loss of a father at age sixteen? It colors my entire being, whether that's right or wrong. At an age when most dads are teaching their sons how to drive, my father was thinner than I had ever seen him; wisps of his dark hair all the chemo had left him with; helplessly confined to a bed with a catheter. He had less than half his upper jaw, his right eye cover with a patch, the painkillers making him think Boy George had visited him in the hospital. Seeing the man who was my hero reduced to this was shattering.
A man at church asked me if I was angry with God for letting this happen, and I wasn't. I was full of self-righteous anger at those who I felt deserved the blame: those who had given a smoker's cancer to a man who never smoked. My mother, his mother, his coworkers, how dare they leave me fatherless? Maybe this anger was improperly directed, but it has kept me from picking up the habit. I can't say the same for my mother, who after many years away returned to that smoky addiction a few years after my dad passed.
But that is only a tiny wedge of the pie chart of ways his death affected me. I don't have a male figure in my life I can talk about the important things in my life. When I came out to my mother, one of her first reactions was "I don't know how your dad would have handled this" To be honest, neither do I. Aunt Laura said that she doesn't really know what his position on gays was, but she does know he loved his kids. And I know that, I really do know that. But I want to be able to tell him, ask him for advice, ask him what I should do. Should I stay at my job? Should I try for college? He worked full time and took classes, he would have advice on how to make that work. And relationships, I don't have many sane peoples to discuss them with, and no males at all. I was at the earliest moments of coming to terms with my sexuality when he was snatched from us, and I know for a fact his death pushed me into a two-plus year funk that created a strange sideways growth; a confused stagnation. Emotionally, intellectually and sexually, it took a long time for me to move past where I was at sixteen, there are still days when I feel like that same fat dumpy kid.
In closing, I didn't forget it was Father's Day, I stopped to see my Pappy after work for the very reason that it was Father's Day. I just forgot that Father's Day is not a day I will truly be happy on for many years, maybe not even once I have children of my own. One doesn't forget, even when you think you do.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Example: on "No Pause" Jimi Hendrix asks us to "excuse me while I kiss the sky" before Yael Naim tickles the ivories under Eminiem's rap from "Shake That Ass" turning a misogynistic rap about vomiting in a strip club into an almost religious experience. Later MIMS asks us if we "want it like this" while Karen Carpenter reminds us "you told me you loved me baby" before Metallica's guitars grind under Lil' Mama's ode to beauty products.
It sounds frenetic, but that's because it is. It's beautifully rapid-fire, stopping from time to time to slow it down, like when Radiohead backs Jay-Z on "Set It Off" or when the album ends with Journey's "Faithfully" propping up Andre 3000's pro-commitment rhymes from "International Player's Anthem" or Trina telling us "I Gotta Thang For You" over Fleetwood Mac guitars. I could go on, but why don't you just download it already? It's insanity of the highest degree, but what's wrong with that?
This is the sixteenth installments of my weekly blog entry series "5 Songs On Shuffle." I’ll put my iTunes on shuffle and blog about the first five songs that play.
"Summertime" - Nina Simone Trouble On My Mind
This jazzy interpretation of the Gershwin classic has one of the longest instrumental intros of any song on my iPod. The vocals don't start until about halfway through the song. It has a more free form style than her version on Verve Jazz Masters 17 disc, or the Billie Holiday, Sandi Patty or Fantasia versions that are also on my iPod. I do love me some jazz standards!
"Lucky Star" - Madonna The Immaculate Collection
One of the Material Girl's earliest hits, "Lucky Star" is just post-disco fun. Bubblegummy and sweet, it just makes you want to bop around the kitchen while you do the dishes or sing along at the top of your lungs in the car. While she has had better pop hits, this one started it all and I must give my props.
"Stronger" - Britney Spears Greatest Hits: My Perogative
Not one of my favorites among Brit's pop hits, but an OK girl power/breakup song. I much prefer Kanye's Stronger to Britney's, though.
"Big Girls Don't Cry" - Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons Malt Shop Memories: Save The Last Dance [Disc 1]
I just downloaded this box set on my iTunes this afternoon. I borrowed it from my Grammy, cause I don't have enough old school music in my iPod, and that just won't do. I listened to the oldies stations a lot as a teenager, and I have no patience for those who dislike the "old junk." The boy bands of today couldn't have happened with out the blueprint of groups like this, the "indie" rock scene takes a lot from the garage bands of the sixties. As Solomon said in, "There is no new thing under the sun."
"The Lighthouses Tale" - Nickel Creek Reasons Why: The Very Best
This is a sad bluegrass ballad, which tells the tale of lighthouse keeper meets girl, girl falls for keeper, girl dies at sea, keeper jumps off lighthouse. I love the more non-traditional bluegrass-meets-alternative songs of Nickel Creek, but there is nothing wrong with something more traditional and folksy.
Paulbo's Top 10 American Idol Performances 2008
10. David Cook - "Little Sparrow" (Dolly Parton Week)
How is it that my beloved Cookie can do such wonderous things with "chick" music? Dolly Parton's tale of heartbreak at the hands of a fickle man is not meant for a man to sing, lyrically or vocally. But DC rocks the house and stuns a nation. Or maybe just me...
9. Alexandria Lushington - "Spinning Wheel" ('60s Week)
While the quirky Ms. Lushington didn't make it into the top 12, this delighfully funky slice of AI history will live on. In crazy clothes and fine vocal form, Alexandria rocked the house and heralded a much more mucially diverse year for Idol.
8. Syesha Mercado - "One Rock And Roll Too Many" (Sir Andrew Llyod Webber Week)
This was the week Syesha told us who she was: a Broadway diva and gay icon in the making. With feirce hair, and a sexy attitude she took a song I never heard of and made me love it.
7. Carly Smithson - "Blackbird" (The Beatles Week)
One of the very few highlights of the second week of Beatles tunes, Carly's emotional reading of this song, and her explaination of why it meant so much, worked in her favor. She always seemed to be almost there, her songs never quite getting to the right place. But for one shining moment she was the star I always thought she could be.
6. Chikeke - "She's A Woman" (Lennon/McCartney Week)
Taking a Beatles song and making it a bluegrass/rock hybrid is just one of the many surprises this season brought us. This was one of the biggest, from a contestant didn't surprise us that often.
5. David Cook - "Eleanor Rigby" (Lennon/McCartney Week)
Another of the surprising arrangments, David Cook continued his hot streak with a symphonic rock take on this Beatles classic. His tracks always sound as good or better in the studio versions on iTunes, and this one is a prime example. When his hits the 1:57 mark, and it goes quiet and the background vocals flare up? Genius!
4. Jason Castro - "Hallelujah" ('80s Week)
Jason always just did his own thing, right? Just a stoner singing away with a guitar in one hand and his dreads and everything. Never again would he capture the brilliance of his emotion-drench take on the Leonard Cohen modern standard, but that was enough.
3. David Cook - "Hello" ('80s Week)
This was the week we were introduced to the brilliant arrangments that David Cook would become known for. So he stole the arrangment from Doxology? Who cares, I never heard it before so it's new to me... and hot. So very, very hot.
2. Brooke White - "Love Is A Battlefield" ('80s Week)
Putting her all behind every lyric of this Pat Benatar classic, Brooke White made me fall in love with her and her acoustic guitar ways. Her vocal power may not have matched Carly or Syesha, but she had heart and ALWAYS connected to the lyrics.
1. David Cook - "Always Be My Baby" (Mariah Carey Week)
Even Mariah was taken aback by this brilliant take on her song. He turned a diva classic into a modern rock ballad, and the world was made a better place for it. Also, he looked fuckin' hot doing it!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Paulbo's Top 15 Non-Hits of 2006.5
15. Petra Haden - "An American Crime (End Credits Theme)" (non-charting)
Composer Ari Alan Lazer creates a brilliant "instrumental" piece to cover the end credits of the true crime film An American Crime. The instruments in question are Petra Haden's vocals, all A Capella and layered to create on of the scariest sounding themes I've heard, before breaking into an even creepier piano line. I've never seen the film, but if the music is this terrifying, who knows what the images will do to my brain.
14. Madonna - "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" (non-charting)
From the opening bars to Timbaland's scattershot beat to the creepy pianos, this modern ballad (ala "Cry Me A River") is as haunting as possible. It wasn't easy to pick just one track off Hard Candy for this list, but besides the single "4 Minutes" this one of the very best.
13. CSS - "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex" (#63, Hot 100 Chart)
The thumping beat, the grinding guitar riff, the provocative lyrics, the obvious iPod commercial. Why this isn't a much bigger hit, I don't know. Besides perfectly describing my life (music is not only my hot, hot sex, it's my boyfriend; my imaginary friend; from all the shit, the one I gotta buy is music) it's just an great dance-rock/art-rock track.
12. Duffy - "Mercy" (#27 Hot 100 Chart)
If the organs and the strange drum track at the beginning of the song aren't enough to convince you that Duffy is part of the revived Northern Soul scene in the British Isles, then the throwback Dusty/Aretha smoky vocals should. Calling Duffy an Amy Winehouse without the crack pipe is overkill, for sure. But while her songs don't have the torrid strength of "Back To Black" between this minor US hit and the gorgeous ballad "Warwick Avenue" there is definite possibilities in the blond Welsh's future.
11. Robyn - "Be Mine! (Ballad Version)" (non-charting mix)
As if the original version of this song, from the brilliant album Robyn, wasn't heartbreaking enough, along comes this piano ballad version from The Rakamonie EP. The torch-fueled lyrics reveal further anguish through the broken vocals of the Swedish sensation. Either version should be on your iPod.
10. Katy Perry - "UR So Gay" (#1 Hot Dance Singles Sales)
In this biting indictment of a emo boyfriend who wears H&M scarves, MySpaces all day and is "so indie-rock it's almost an art" Katy Perry sashays her way into the hearts of fans of Lily Allen's breed of bratty pop. The kicker, while her boyfriend is so gay, he doesn't even like penis!
9. Sam Sparro - "Black & Gold" (non-charting in US, UK #2)
This electro-funk track from gay techno star Sam Sparro deserves some spin on his home turf, not just on Euro charts. The chorus is catchy as hell and a little nonsensical, but the synth beat is where it's at!
8. Santogold - "L.E.S. Artistes" (US B-side, UK #27)
Former A&R rep Santi White is a friend of one of my favorites, M.I.A., and appeared on one of my top 14 albums of last year, Mark Ronson's Version. So little wonder I'm in love with her future/retro-fetishizing album, and the B-side to lead single "Creator" which is also quite good. You can dance to it, sing along to the chorus "I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up" and laugh along with Santi at modern hipsters, those "fast talkers."
7. Doe Deere - "One Touch" (non-charting)
Brooklyn-based disco diva Doe Deere has been burning up the pop blogs, topping Electroqueer's chart for four weeks. Her music sounds like Blondie and Madonna fighting over a Depeche Mode cover band gig, or like every '80s hit ever. Plus, she has a free download of this stunning dance track on her MySpace, click on the link above to get there. Free music that's good? I'm so there...
6. Robyn feat. Kleerup - "With Every Heartbeat" (UK #1, Hot Singles Sales, #4)
It never fails to make my hair stand on end, this gorgeous techno ballad; emo-tronic if you will. The strings swirl around Robyn's voice and the beat underscores the sadness of the lyrics. When the string quartet gives way to the keyboard tones and Robyn bursts forth with "And it hurts with every heartbeat..." on the bridge I just want to cry. Seriously, I know I say this every week or so, you NEED to buy the Robyn album. It's finally available in all the record shops here in the states, not just as an import.
5. Estelle feat. Kanye West - "American Boy" (#35)
It's weird, but Estelle sounds like what Corrine Bailey Rae would sound like as a hip-hop artist. The electric guitar is used more as beat than melody, which is intriguing, and the line "Don't like his baggy jeans/but I'ma like what's underneath 'em" makes me chuckle. Sure Estelle, I'll be your American boy...
4. Amy Winehouse - "F*** Me Pumps" (UK #65, US non-charting)
From the US release of Amy's 2003 UK debut, Frank, comes this sassy R&B track about gold-digging hos who "walk in the bar/dressed like a star/rockin' those F-me pumps" but never find love. While her debut doesn't have the same number of insanely well-written songs on it as Back to Black this song ranks as high as "Rehab" in attitude and hooks.
3. Kerli - "Love Is Dead" (non-charting)
Kerli is from Estonia, which I understand is not as mud-and-swine filled as Dilbert would have us believe. Her stunning video for "Love Is Dead" is what first drew me to her, in it she ages backwards from an ancient crone to a young blond with lebre and tongue piercings. But the song, oh the song! Kerli's emotional meditation on the end if a relationship melds so perfectly with the huge drum loop and strings before bursting into the chorus of "Love is dead/love is gone/love don't live here anymore" sung by a creepy chorus. It sounds like she should be soundtracking Tim Burton films, which is a total compliment. The Kerli EP is available now on iTunes.
2. Goldfrapp - "A&E" (Hot Dance Singles Sales #1)
Wikipedia describes this as a folk-tronica song, and that fits as well any description. It's techno, but much more organic sounding. But the lyrics are what have me hooked. Intensely descriptive of a trip to the Accident & Emergency ward (hence the title) after a post breakup suicide attempt. At least that's what I get out of "I'm in a backless gown/on a pastel ward that's shining/think I want you still/but there may be pills at work"
1. Snoop Dogg feat. Robyn - "Sexual Eruption (Fyre Department Remix)" (non-charting mix)
All the best parts of the original are here: the absolutely filthy lyrics, Snoop's vocoded singing, the rap. But add in a new chorus by Robyn (making her third entry on my chart, cause she rocks so fucking hard!) plus a greatly improved beat (dropping the flutes, adding the funk guitars) and you have the best remix of the year. "Sexual eruption/cuddle up little pup/sexual eruption/mama's gonna sex you up" is so hard core, and miles ahead of Lil' Kim's remix.
I've decided to make two lists. The first is a top 15 list of just pop hits. These are the songs with heavy radio airplay and charted high on the Hot 100. Last year, a lot of these songs got buried at the back of my top 50, because I get so sick of hearing them they become less hot than the album tracks and indie stuff. But my number one pop hit may end up being my number one song of the year, it just depends on what the rest of the year holds. It's most played on my iPod, despite also being a massive radio hit. The peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 (per Wikipedia) is listed after the title.
List number two, which you will get later this week, is the non-hits. Maybe they got light airplay or are totally not radio-friendly indie-type stuff. Or perhaps they are remixes or album tracks, but my love for them is as strong or stronger than the radio hits. For my year end list, I will probably not do the separate lists, but who knows? That's six months away...
Paulbo's Top 15 Pop Hits 2008.5
15. Miley Cyrus - "See You Again" (#10)
For a song that I hated the first few weeks of radio play, Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus's biggest pop hit sure is high on my chart. I still think some of the lyrics are shit ("My best friend Leslie said oh she's just being Miley" is one of the most obnoxious lines in pop music history) but it's got a killer beat, funky surf guitars and a chorus that is catchy as hell. More worth cranking in the car than I want to admit.
14. Janet Jackson - "Feedback" (#19)
Another beat-heavy track, only this time with a far more urban flair and mature lyric content. Featuring one of my favorite lines of the year: "My swag is serious/something heavy like a first day period" So gross, but so funny.
13. Rihanna - "Please Don't Stop The Music" (#3)
This Michael-Jackson-sampling club hit puts me in serious dance floor mode. Originally gaining major play in dance clubs in 2007 causing "Please Don't Stop The Music" to hit the top of the Billboard Clubplay Charts before it's official radio release in January 2008. But enough chart chat, it's a dance song. So shake that booty people!
12. Mariah Carey - "Touch My Body" (#1)
Sexy, flirty, fun. And that's just Jack McBrayer in the the video! Mimi emancipates herself from ballads and brings a naughty pop track to the masses. Apparently booty calls are her style, and a piano-driven beat is too. But she's not totally kinky, if there's a camera up here, then she best not catch this flick on YouTube. But the hilarious music video? That's all up in YouTube's bidness like a Wendy interview...
11. Coldplay - "Viva La Vida" (#1)
"Viva La Vida" is the first ever number one hit for the British band, and my favorite Coldplay track since "Yellow." I love symphonic rock, and this is a prime example of why.
10. Rihanna - "Take A Bow" (#1)
Many have tried to rip off "Irreplaceable" but leave it to that hit's songwriter (Ne-Yo) and production team (Stargate) to turn the new Beyonce into, well, the new Beyonce. It may not be as catchy as "umbrella-ella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh" but it's still a stunning pop ballad.
9. Danity Kane - "Damaged" (#10)
I never really liked Danity Kane, they seemed like the Spice Girls for the '00s, only without the hits. While "Show Stopper" was an OK club track, "Damaged" is like "The First Cut Is The Deepest" only as a club banger! The lyrics are actually moving, but the girls don't park on the dance floor no matter how damaged their hearts are.
8. Natasha Bedingfeild - "Pocketful of Sunshine" (#6)
It's just a sweet little pop song, not as cloying as previous single "Love Like This" but not as brilliant as "Unwritten" or "These Words (I Love You, I Love You)" I love the downbeat of the track, reminiscent of fellow Brit-poppers Dido or Seal, which makes it a perfectly chill summer song.
7. Colbie Caillat - "Realize" (#20)
On this track Caillat's lyrics cut like a knife, which is something I never thought I'd say about the songwriter who described love as giving her "tingles in a silly place." It perfectly describes the tentative love one has for a friend, especially one that may be unavailable :coughstraightguyscough: Colbie wants her man to meet her halfway, to realize which she just realized, but we never find out if he does. I hope so, I know the pain of unrequited love and nothing spoils your peanut butter sandwiches more than it.
6. Chris Brown - "Forever" (#8)
I haven't heard a techno track get this much airplay since Cascada's "Everytime We Touch" but I'm not complaining. The beat insists on making you dance, the euro-synths shimmer like they should, the chorus is amazing: "It feel like I waited my whole life for this one night/It's only me, you and the dance floor" They may need a new word to describe this genre-blending on songs like this or Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop The Music" and much of Madonna's Hard Candy, perhaps techno-hop?
5. Katy Perry - "I Kissed A Girl" (#2)
A new-wavey nod to lesbian experimentation, with naughty lyrics like "I kissed a girl and I liked it/The taste of her cherry chap stick" and a synthy rock beat. It's an instant pop classic, from a girl whose worked with Matthew Thiessen of Relient K in the past and appeared in the Gym Class Heroes video "Cupid Chokehold" Emo enough for ya?
4. Jordin Sparks feat. Chris Brown "No Air" (#3)
The youngest American Idol winner completes her takeover of the pop charts with this torchy duet with R&B superstar Chris Brown. The runs-to-actual-lyrics ratio is pretty high, making it perfect for a chest-thumping lip sync in the bathroom mirror. I highly recommend it.
3. Flyleaf - "All Around Me" (#40, Hot Modern Rock Tracks Chart: #6)
With a stunning cry of "I'm alive!" over a bed of modern rock guitars, Flyleaf lead singer Lacey Mosely leaped into my heart. The smallest and most fragile looking rocker I've seen, her voice chills me, and the line from the chorus "I can feel you all around me/thickening the air I'm breathing" is one of the most amazing things I've heard all year. The album may be three years old, and the track may have debuted on the modern rock charts last year before finally entering the pop charts this year, but that only proves the longevity of this appealing rock smash.
2. Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake "4 Minutes" (#3)
This song was created just for me to love. My goddess, the Divine Madonna, and my boyfriend/stalkee, the Adonis-like Justin Timberlake, together? How could I hate? From the second the French radio rip hit the interwebs, I was all over it. The brassy beat, courtesy of pop-mastermind Timbaland and the self-referential hooky chorus were enough to have me in it's grips. The best dance single so far this year, with many other hit-worthy tracks on the parent album Hard Candy. I'm out of time, and I've only got four minutes...
1. Leona Lewis - "Bleeding Love" (#1, four non-consecutive weeks)
It's hard to believe this soaring ballad was written by former teen-pop star Jesse McCartney, and that the eighties-style beat wasn't a Timbaland production. The organ and strings put me in mind of Sinead O'Conner's "Nothing Compares 2 U" only with the vocals of Mariah Carey. I gorgeous pop ballad, perfect for singing along to, but you can't outsing the new diva in town, Ms. Leona Lewis.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
"A Deeper Love" - Aretha Franklin Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit Soundtrack
This is actually my favorite movie of all time, mostly due to Lauryn Hill's amazing version of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and the stupid/funny opening Vegas number. This song is a dance track which was produced by '90s superproducers C & C Music Factory. It's fun to dance to, but nothing more than that.
"She's Not Me" - Madonna Hard Candy
This is the longest track of the new Madonna album, produced by the Neptunes and featuring funky basswork from Prince protege Wendy Melvoin. It's a funktified disco track about a girl who tries inmitate Madge while stealing her man. Perfect for a rollerdisco!
"A Foggy Day" - Sandi Patty Together
I borrowed this album from the library when I was 19, and learned the glories of the Gershwin brothers masterful creations. Gospel superstar's Sandi Patty and Kathy Trocolli performed standards on the disc, Patty did mostly compsitions by the Gershwin's and Trocolli did songs performed by Judy Garland as well as a few duets and original jazz songs. While my favorite Ira Gershwin lyrics are from "The Man I Love" I do enjoy this one to. It's makes me want to move to London even more than I usually do.
"Smell Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana Nevermind
One of the most iconic tracks from the most iconic album by the iconic grunge band. I may be a pop fan through and through, but who can deny the power and emotion behind the vocals, despite the fact the lyrics make no sense, and the title was an insult about smelling like chick deoderant. The guitars and drums and vocals combine on a serious pop record dressed in grungy flannel. Seriously, if Kelly Rowland loves it, why can't I?
"No" - Shakira Fijicion Oral Vol. One
The English language Volume Two may have yeilded the monster hit "Hips Don't Lie" but on this disc one finds pop tracks worth hearing like the original Spanish version of the minor hit "Don't Bother" and this gorgous acoustic ballad. I have no idea what Shakira is saying on the follow up single to "La Tortura" but her vocals convey enough emotion and power to let you know something painful is happening. I really love this song.
"Must Have Done Something Right" - Relient K Five Score And Seven Years Ago
The first single from the latest studio album by the Ohio natives, it's not one of my favorites from the album. It's a little cheesy, but with a catchy Sound Of Music-quoting chorus. The rest of the album is better.
"Immigrant Song" - Led Zeppelin Early Days: Best Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 1
I'm not much of a classic rock fan, but the opening riff is so memorable you almost have to have this song on your iPod. So I do.
"Stuntin' Like A Black Rock" - Birdman & Lil' Wayne vs Black Rock The Hood Internet Mixtape Vol. 1
Black Rock provide a funky garage-pop backing to Birdman and Lil' Wayne's boastful raps that put me in mind of Nancy Sintatra as a thug. Don't ask, my mind goes places it shouldn't when the music is bumping.
"Crash And Burn Girl" - Robyn Robyn
"I should write a song about you/and all the shit you do" is the opening line of this track off Robyn's stellar pop record, current front-runner for my album of the year. So Robyn does write a song about a girl who fucks up her love life over and over again, but not without admitting: "Everytime you mess it up like that I see myself in you"
"Gimme More" - Britney Spears Blackout
It's Britney, bitch! The comeback single from the pop-diva-cum-tabloid-baby zigs with quirky synth lines, zags with vocoded vocals and a beat to cause gaysted club boys and girls to lose their shirt and grind on the nearest pole. You want more? I've give you more!
I grew up without air conditioning. I grew up in the country, in a big old German farmhouse with windows on every wall. It was quite simple to open them all and let a glorious cross breeze cool the house. So I never thought AC was a necessity until I moved to the 'burg. The pavement everywhere radiates heat and these "new" houses with no windows on the side walls and tiny little windows with walls between them preventing a breeze from flowing through the house. Plus, I've been using it for four years now, so I've gotten spoiled.
Of course, the central air in my apartment had to got out right before the heat wave that started on the 30th, so it was the most sweltering time for it. They couldn't make it out to fix it until the following Monday, and when they came (four hours late, naturally) they couldn't fix it. They came back next day, still no luck. Rescheduled for Friday to replace the whole darn thing, finally air again! But I went a whole week without wanting to even sit in my house for more than ten minutes, let alone sit in front of the computer and think. So I managed to post the two new videos that came out last Monday and spent the rest of the week at the movies, shopping and working.
I didn't spend much, I just browsed Borders, Target, Walmart and Salvation Army Store, played Mario Kart for Wii at Best Buy, saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the theatre (ending was a bit much, but I enjoyed it anyway) hit the Colonial Park Diner, Arby's, Tonino's Pizza and Sheetz for food and chilled (literally) at A'Melanie's pad playing Guitar Hero (finally made it through about four songs with out crashing! Holla!) and Kareoke Revolution. So I had a lovely weekend avoiding the heat before working all week. Fun!
But now the cool has been reborn like a Miles Davis LP and I'm back to blogging on a regular basis, I hope.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Violent Femmes - "Crazy"
After Gnarls Barkley covered the Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone" it only seems right they should return the favor with the most covered song of 2006: "Crazy" Hey, if it's good enough for Nelly Furtado... The full song isn't available yet, but you here a scant minute of the track at the MySpace. The description on the page fits, in my opinion: "like a Morricone-style dirge recorded by The Mamas and The Papas" Listen and judge for yourself, and either get it on iTunes or buy the limited edition vinyl on June 24th. (Sweet vinyl action, yes!)
Doe Deere - "One Touch"
Thanks to the techno music blog Electroqueer (link to the right, yo!) I've been turned onto NYC based disco diva Doe Deere and her eighties-style dance music. "One Touch" topped the EQ chart for a month, and little wonder: it sounds like every eighties pop song ever, which from me is a Ron Jeremy sized compliment. Plus, you can download the hotness for free on her MySpace, which you should totes do! Do it now, I'll wait. OK, you're back. I know! Sooooo good, right?
Sam Sparro - "Black & Gold"
I can thank both EQ again and Towleroad (again, link to the right) for hooking a brother up with some more smooth dance house fun, courtesy of American boy Sam Sparro. He has a following in the UK, but he should be heating up US gay clubs, too. It's nothing original, just synthy pop with a sing a long chorus. It's finally available on US iTunes, go download it! Or just watch the video...
Jai Rodrieguez - "Broken"
OK, enough gushing from me, there has to be something sucky coming out, right? Correct! Queer Eye's Jai is trying out a singing career, and I don't approve. The singing is passable, but it has a "Do I Make You Proud?" vibe, and only American Idol contestants can get away with that level of lyrical schmaltz. Stick to your day job, whatever the hell that was.
Metro Station - "Shake It"
Aww, Miley Cyrus's big bro wants to sing too! But wait, his band's track is a fierce emotronic HelloGoodbye rip off? Sign me up!
And finally, just a huge Congratulations to David Cook, for having 11 songs debut in the Hot 100! He beat out Miley Cyrus's six debuts, and it's the first time the same artist has had that many tracks in the Hot 100 since The Beatles had 14 during the heyday of Beatlemania. Looks like Cookie fever is spreading! Of course, whining boomers had to complain that it's not the same, but seriously, let the boy have his moment in the sun! Stay tuned for my rant on that later this week...
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
"Love Needs A Holiday" - Reba McEntire Reba #1's
One of the new tracks on Reba's double disc hits collection, "Love Needs A Holiday" tells of a couple who do what they can to keep love alive, like taking a vacation. I bought this CD for Rachel for Christmas a couple years ago. She loves Reba, even though she's a pretty hard core rock fan. But, really, how can you hate on a legendary redhead like her?
"High Of 75" - Relient K Mmhmm
This is an album track from the Canton, Ohio band's mainstream breakthrough, Mmhmm. Really catchy pop-punk, like most of this band's output. I love them!
"XR2" - M.I.A. Kala
I love the Baltimore club beat on this track, and the line "some people think we're stupid, but we're not" cracks me up. Not the best track from my favorite album of last year, but seriously cool anyway.
"B-A-B-Y" - Carla Thomas Something To Believe In
This soulful love song is from a CD I bought at a thrift store about six years ago, a compilation of African-American music with African art in the liner notes. The CD introduced me to the brilliant work of Nina Simone, and also includes great songs from Curtis Mayfield, Erma Franklin and Billie Holiday.
"Love Is A Battlefield" - Pat Benatar Greatest Hits
One of the best songs of the eighties, from one of the best rock vocalists ever. You can't hear this song without wanting to dance and sing into a hairbrush. That chorus! That vocal range! Those fierce shoulder shakes in the video! Clearly a classic.
Monday, June 2, 2008
She's an Oscar-winner for Dreamgirls and co-stars in the new Sex And The City movie, so you may be forgiven for forgetting that Jennifer Hudson is a singer, too. The American Idol cast-off's debut CD drops this fall, the first single will be available to download on iTunes next week. The single, "Spotlight" is available for a listen here. It has an Alicia Keys vibe, but a little slicker. Very bouncy mid-tempo pop with an R&B edge, I think it should do well at Adult Contemporary and Adult Pop radio, I don't know if it will be the mainstream Top 40 radio hit our girl deserves. I've listened to it several times now, I really enjoy it.
You may recall I posted the video of Prince covering Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella on Pictures & Conversations a few months ago. It was an amazing and sexy cover, not unlike his version of Foo Fighters' "Best of You" at the Super Bowl. Little did I know it would be yanked from YouTube following threatened legal action from the Purple One. Several media outlets have reported Radiohead were not pleased, they can't even see the footage themselves. Personally, I know that Prince has the right to take the videos down, but it is kind of a dick move, especially since the songwriters haven't objected. Nobody is making money off of the videos, and you would think he'd like to keep his profile as a master musician up, since his albums keep tanking. Rude!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Some of these are naughty hip-hop songs covered in a more earnest style, like Jill Sobule's folksy take on Nelly's "Hot In Herre" or Alanis's emo-piano version of Black Eyed Peas ode to T&A, "My Humps." Others find the emotional connection in a fluffy pop song and twist it's heartbreaking core, like Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen does to JoJo's "Too Little Too Late."
Some are just brilliant takes on brilliant songs, like k. d. lang's masterful cover of Leonard Cohen's modern standard "Hallelujah" or the way Petra Haden recreates Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (guitar solos and all) using only her voice. Mary J Blige proves that you just need to add a soulful black lady to any song to improve it, just look at her version of "One" by U2. The most beautiful nonsense song of modern times, "Stars Go Blue" by Ryan Adams gets a shimmery pop sheen from Irish group The Corrs. Bryan Adams' "Heaven" was remade into a dance floor anthem a few years ago by DJ Sammy, but the Candlelight Remix is a stunning piano ballad version that will bring a tear to your eyes.
Other's just switch up the gender vocals without disturbing the gender pronouns, like the Artic Monkey's drumtastic reading of Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" or the Of Montreal version of M.I.A.'s cover of "Jimmy" from the Bollywood film Disco Dancer. It's often just straight up fun, like Britney Spear's "Toxic" covered by Mark Ronson, with a filthy rap from the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, which defies description.
I could have done a mixtape of just David Cook's brilliant covers from American Idol, like "Little Sparrow" and "Billie Jean", but I already did that for three people this week. Instead I'm just including the cover that could have been a radio hit by Goo Goo Dolls or Lifehouse, his take on Mariah Carey's torchy stalker anthem "Always Be My Baby"
And what cover collection would be complete without Rihanna's "Umbrella"? I went with the version that conveyed the most emotion, by Manic Street Preachers, but you can find covers by Marie Digby, Tegan & Sara, Plain White T's, My Chemical Romance and Mandy Moore elsewhere online.