The initial offerings from Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 3” haven’t done much to compel me to pick up the disc, but Hova’s remake of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” may have just changed that. If ever there was a track that Mr Hudson’s voice was destined to cover, this would be the one. And although I don’t think it will happen, “Young Forever” is just SCREAMING for a remix.
And just for good measure, here’s the original (peaked at #93 in ’85, got to #65 from a re-release in ’88)…
I’ve been meaning to get back to my Mixed Tapes series for a couple of weeks, but it got shuffled to the back of my brain, and my memory got jogged this morning as I heard New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give” on Radio 1.
Besides being a reminder that Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too has been on my to-do list for a while, hearing “Get” on the radio made me feel old, because I thought to myself “really solid songs don’t make it on to pop radio anymore”. Of course that’s not true, but the timelessness of that single and the rest of the record just doesn’t happen quite as much in the here and now, where people are constantly chasing the hottest featured artist, producer, or writer. I know I am painting with a broad stroke here, but it sure feels like it at times.
Brainwashed opens with “Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough”, and really sets the anti-establishment tone of the album. The song itself talks about a love (to my ears, I’m not sure if it’s a person or a drug, but these songs are open to interpretation), and “mother” is referenced in a way to say that she doesn’t approve, but she better get used to it. The ending, though, gets to the social commentary, talking about how everything in society is tied to numbers and money, as an automated recording says
Social Security Number please
Credit card number please
That flows right into the hit single “You Get What You Give”. Lead man (and only consistent member) Gregg Alexander yells out the count, and the song takes flight off of it, soaring throughout as Alexander sings about living life to the fullest. The infamous rap at the end name-checks Courtney Love, Hanson, Beck, and Marilyn Manson, and got more attention at the time, but in the full context, it’s an indictment of not only celebrity, but also government and big business. Alexander also rages against the machine and pop culture on other tracks, including highlight “I Hope I Didn’t Just Give Away the Ending”:
We caught a fey taxi driver
I smiled the ride was free
I felt like Amsterdam
She wanted more drugs and maybe me
I told her dealer I was broke
He hired a camera man
We did a porno film for coke
I hear I’m big in Japan
The highlight for me on this disc, though, is the ballad “Someday We’ll Know”, which describes the aftermath of a relationship, and uses a series of analogies to question why the relationship didn’t work out. As a twenty-something questioning why relationships never seemed to last for me, this song connected personally as well as musically.
Other strong tracks on the disc include “Jehovah Made This Whole Joint For You”, “Crying Like A Church On Monday”, and “Technicolor Lover”. In listening to the tape from start to finish, I’m struck first by how good it consistently is, but also by the cohesion between tracks. This is an album, not just a bunch of singles strung together. It’s good to know that in the midst of all the mediocre tapes that I still own, there are at least a couple that have stood the test of time.
– Alexander is the producer behind “The Game of Love”, which nabbed Santana a Grammy.
– “Someday We’ll Know” was covered by Hall and Oates.
– Danielle Brisebois, who co-wrote “Someday” and worked on other tracks, played Stephanie, Edith Bunker’s niece’s daughter who Archie took in on Archie Bunker’s Place.
I have been in a slow drift away from country music recently, but on the recommendation of my friend Buck in Atlanta (who is currently writing for Project Q Atlanta), I checked out the new live disc from Sugarland. This duo, who actually began as a trio, started off as a breath of fresh air in country music, but got a bit stale for me on their last disc, Love on the Inside. Their live disc, Live on the Inside, proves that they can still be contemporary and relevant while remaining true to their country base. The record is primarily covers, but it’s what they choose that really makes it stand out. Two REM songs, the B-52s, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians, Beyonce (whose “Irreplaceable” they dueted on at the Grammys), and even Kings of Leon. It’s stunning how they can take a post-modern classic like Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and reveal the country side of the track, but they do it over and over. If you don’t believe me, here is their version of REM’s “Nightswimming”, combined with their current single “Joey”.
I am pretty impressed that the first we are hearing of a new Saturdays single is via an official video, rather than a leaked track. The video is pretty throwaway, but the song is a good start for their upcoming CD. The song itself would seem to loan itself well to a ballad style, but after the first verse, a driving beat propels the track into the pop stratosphere, and there’s no looking back. If “Forever Is Over” is a sign of what’s to come on disc #2, sign me up!
No matter how much a person says they are open to all kinds of music, there is always going to be some kind of bias that keeps them from embracing every piece of music they hear with open arms, and I am no exception to that. Here are a few of the (possibly irrational) biases that I bring to the music-listening experience, for better or worse.
– Banjos in pop music – If someone can find a way to legitimately utilize a banjo in a pop song, I’m right on board. [See: “Rainbow Connection”, Jason Mraz] There is something about a banjo that just can’t sound depressing, and when you hear a banjo, chances are good someone’s having a good time. Except if you’re on the wrong end of the Deliverance equation.
– Toby Keith – Early on in his career, Toby Keith was the man. He came across as an everyman who was just trying to get through life without too many missteps, and songs like “Who’s That Man” and “He Ain’t Worth Missing” made for great country music in the 90s. And then 9/11 occurred. “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” is supposed to be a tribute to his dad and the United States in the aftermath of his father’s death and the terrorist attacks of September 11th. By his own description, he didn’t want to originally release the song himself, but at the request of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, he did record it, and the rest is history. What I DON’T think he had to do was wrap himself up in the flag as much as he did, and then attack the Dixie Chicks for Natalie Maines’s comment about being ashamed of then-President Bush while performing in England. By getting involved in that rumble, he ended up with a lot of people saying the same thing about him. Shouldn’t performers be able to express their own opinions, just like anyone else?
How much do I dislike Toby Keith? I won’t even buy a record by an artist on his record label.
– Perez Hilton – So stupid is this man that anything he touches is like Kryptonite to me. For example, PMN favorite Ida Maria, whose “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” was one of the jams of last summer, is about to embark on a tour of the US, and normally this would be cause for rejoicing. However, she’s on the bill for a “Perez Hilton Presents” tour, and no amount of love would get me to purchase a ticket that his name appears on.
What caused this hatred? Take your pick…the whole Will.I.Am altercation in Toronto, the way he handled the fallout from the Miss America gay marriage controversy, his amazingly juvenile and vile website. As long as someone thinks that he is the spokesperson for the LGBT population, he will continue to be among my least-liked people. But you know who I like better because of him? Kelly Clarkson, who was also in Toronto at the time, and called a punk a punk in an interview the next day. We REALLY love Kelly.
– Internet buzz – Yes, I know I am a part of it at times, but there have been times where so much buzz has surrounded an artist that I find myself instantly against that artist, which isn’t fair, but it is what it is. A good example of that is LaRoux, who I didn’t get right away, and the chorus of angels bloggers singing her praises. It didn’t help that an unneeded rivalry was set up in the blogosphere between Roux and Boots, just like they did with Duffy and Adele a year earlier. (BTW, Team Adele FTW!) I know it happens, and I’m at least admitting that I succomb to it, but I doubt it will ever fully go away, given all of the info overload I get from my daily blogroll.
Speaking of Internet buzz, I think the new V Factory track has a chance at being their breakthrough single. But then again, I thought that about “Love Struck”. Props to Mel for sharing “Get Up”.
There are certain moments in my musical history that I remember very vividly: sitting with my mom as she observed the 10 minutes of silence after the death of John Lennon; my first concert (Level 42 opening for Steve Winwood); and two moments tied to George Michael and Andrew Ridgley, otherwise known as Wham! The first was the first time I heard “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”, and the second was the moment I heard (via MTV) that they were breaking up.
First contact with Wham! occurred in the shower (stop that!), where I would always have the radio on in the morning. I turned on the radio, hopped in the shower, and “Go Go” was about halfway done. Instantly, I was hooked, and I practically tripped over myself to get to the radio to hear who had created this revelation of a song. Really, when you get down to it, the song structure is classic, and there is a definite retro vibe going on, but in a sea of New Wave and Hairy Metal, the song stood out like a diamond in a pile of coal. I owned that 45 within a week of hearing it the first time, although it took a while to get the full-length. That would come with “Careless Whisper”, which I could not get enough of.
Speed ahead about a year, and a Boy Scout trip to Philadelphia. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Everything She Wants” seemed to be on the radio every hour, and I was loving it. I was in full-on geek fandom mode, although being a boy in high school, I tended to keep it in check until I got home from school or my part-time job. I remember riding with my grandmother to go cross-country skiing that following winter, and she had the Wham! tape and the Woman In Red (because she loved “Part Time Lover”) soundtrack in her truck. Pretty cool grandma, eh? Even the “I’m Your Man” EP, which probably was my first maxi-cassingle, was completely played out. (“He’s great! He’s tough! Mr Ridgeley, do your stuff! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”) I forgot how much I loved that video, even with the cheesy subliminals.
In between Make It Big and Music from the Edge of Heaven, I discovered Fantastic, which didn’t quite have the same impact of Big, but it still had me with “Wham Rap”, “Young Guns”, “Club Tropicana”, and “Bad Boys”. It was as if they had released another album, although I was several years behind the curve on that one. However, I caught up fast after the MTV report on the breakup of the band. While I didn’t do anything stupid or get all emotional, I remember really being struck by this. It was if two newly-acquired friends had moved away, and I didn’t have any idea if I would see them again. This feeling has occurred a few times since then, but as cliched as it is, I guess you never forget your first favorite band breakup.
So here we are, almost two-thirds of the way through the summer, but in some ways, it just hasn’t felt like summer to me, with a full-time course load in school and a pretty stressful work situation. But the elements wait for no man, so I might as well embrace it, even if it is belated. Everyone seems hell-bent to identify the song of the summer, and I’m just as guilty of that practice, so without further delay, here are a few of the songs that have been keeping me jamming in the car, at the gym, and at my desk this summer.
– Jordin Sparks/”S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)” – On paper, it looks like a trainwreck just waiting to happen, but on my iPod, it’s pretty brilliant. Single #2 on Jordin’s first CD was the superstar duet, but this time around, it’s a cover of a dancefloor classic. We all know the base song from Shannon that Sparks is paying tribute to, but there’s an extra somethin’ somethin’ going on here to keep you coming back for more.
– Mini Viva/”I Left My Heart In Tokyo” – Thanks to Paul at Fizzy Pop for bringing this one to my attention. It only took one listen for me to embrace this Xenomania-produced duo’s contribution to the summer soundtrack, but it was the Mike Waterman remix that sounds like a dead ringer for Mel and Kim that brought it home. Is there ANY chance they will see an American release? Methinks not.
– The Gossip/”Pop Goes the World” – Duane over at duanemoody.com and I have been singing this song’s praises since Music for Men was released, and while I was initially disappointed that it was not chosen as single #2 (see “Love Long Distance”), I am encouraged by the fact that it could be used as the song to break the band wide open here in the States.
– Pitbull/”Hotel Room Service” – It has been my experience the past few months that I am pretty much on my own when it comes to Mr 305, but he keeps coming out with these kickin’ jams that sample some great ’90s dance music, so I will keep on flying the flag for him. This one finds him picking up on the Bucketheads jam “The Bomb”, and while I don’t need some of the more crude lyrics, it’s really all about the choruses, and they are awesome.
– Don’t you hate it when a song comes along that you can’t get out of your head, and yet you can’t buy it to throw on your iPod? For me, that song this week is the soon-to-be second single from the Sugababes entitled “About A Girl”, courtesy of Idolator. I am digging this one much more than “Get Sexy”, even though that single has kind of grown on me, too. Here’s a live clip from Birmingham last weekend:
– Does it seem possible that Sandra Bernhard hasn’t released an album of new music in 15 years? Continuing to give credit where it’s due, Towleroad (and Modern Tonic) gave us a sneak peak of Sandra’s upcoming CD Whatever It Takes. Click through for a free sample of “All Around”, featuring Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.
– Why is it that great albums like The Saturdays’ Chasing Lights can’t get a release in the States, but a mediocre record that didn’t even do that great in England like Gary Go does? I love “Wonderful”, but the rest of it just doesn’t sound all that distinct.
One last paper, and the summer semester is done. I love my schoolwork, but this degree can’t be over with soon enough.
– First MJ, then John Hughes. I was a bit stunned when the headline came up, then had a moment of denial, since “John Hughes” is a somewhat common name. But the man who single-handedly kept me at movie theaters through high school passed away today. Of course the movies were great, but for me, it was always about the music. How brilliant is the placement of Yello’s “Oh Yeah” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Would Sixteen Candles have had the same punch without mood-setting music like the Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here”? And is it possible that a group like Simple Minds would never have broken in the US with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” without the help of The Breakfast Club? I seriously doubt it. Rest in peace, John, and thanks for inspiring me to hang around for the credits.
– If you haven’t checked it out yet, Yuri has our most recent dissdiscussion of Kelly Clarkson, Ryan Tedder, Beyonce, Mimi and Eminem. I’ve now been dubbed the “radio and records guy”, and I will wear that badge proudly. As a little epilogue to the Mariah saga, let me share with you the lame performance of “Obsessed” from last night’s episode of America’s Got Talent. Let’s just say the photo montage on the back wall had more life in it than she did.
– Almost two months later, I am still loving the Gossip’s Music For Men, and they have already unleashed single number two on the world in the form of “Love Long Distance”. The video premiered a few days ago, and it’s a very simple premise with some cool effects. Hopefully they are holding back on “Pop Goes the World” to coincide with the physical release of the CD here in the States in October.
– Paul’s already beaten me to the punch on this, but I fell in love with Elouise yesterday as she spoke with Larry Flick on Sirius-XM’s Out Q. She could not have been any sweeter or cuter if she tried, and I’m just as excited as Paul is for the release of “Another Day”, which is almost as epic as a song by her idol Shirley Bassey. And if you’re not checking Larry out in the morning, you really should. He had a great (and raunchy) interview with Nelly Furtado this morning in advance of her upcoming Spanish CD Mi Plan, and he plays a great mix of music from both sides of the Atlantic.
– One last video, and it’s our fine friend Chris Richardson. It would be great if it were new music, but instead, it’s a little comedy to end your day with.