16 April 2024

16 April 2024 - DRAMAS - Coma Call

Sometime soon, we are going to have a week of nothing but non-English songs.  

It was a search for those songs that led me to DRAMAS, an Austrian band that is making some of the most interesting music on the planet.  And thank Courtney for this one - she found it and introduced it to me.

Formed in 2016, they made a splash in Europe right from the get go. Viktoria Winter and Mario Wienerroither are the whole band, and they bring a lot of noise and emotion.  This song, their latest single, was inspired by old French music.... and yeah, I can hear it.  

"Coma Call" isn't going to win awards for lyrical complexity, but that's precisely the beauty of it.  It's a track that revels in pure sonic pleasure.  It's the kind of song you crank up while cruising down a nighttime highway, windows down, feeling the wind whip through your hair.

So please, enjoy my family's current earworm.

15 April 2024

15 April 2024 - Labi Siffre - I Got The...

Labi Siffre built himself a long and illustrious soul career with classic songs and great beats that live on.

This was the opening track of Siffre's 1975 album, Remember My Song.  It is probably the song for which he is best known.

However, it was never a hit song on his own.  

Nope, it was a hit because Emimen sampled it as a singificant part of his song, "My Name Is", in 1999.  Siffre was initially not allowing this song, which he wrote and performed, to be sampled, as the original Eminem track contained a lot of derrogatory language againsts women and gay people (Siffre is openly gay).  Eminem changed his lyrics and submitted a clean version, and the sample was approved.  (Eminem DID release the other version as well, as a dirty version).  

The song, however, was pretty great as is, even if it was a bit obscure.  Here.  Enjoy it.

Since then, the song is no longer obscure, even getting use in an episode of Better Call Saul.

15 April 2024 - Eminem - My Name Is

This 1999 single is likely the first thing you heard by Eminem unless you saw him as a freestyle rapper in Detroit as a kid.  

It earned Eminem his first Grammy, for best Rap Solo Performance.  Cowritten by Marshall Mathers (Eminem), Andre Young (Dr. Dre) and Labi Siffre (Labi Siffre,who was credited because of the significant sample of his song "I Got The..."), the song was meant to be humorous and light-hearted, but ended up being also pretty groundbreaking.  

That was the version that Labi Siffre approved.

He expressly did NOT approve this version, which contains some homophobic slurs - calling it "lazy writing".  But we'll talk more about that another day.

Eminem released it anyway.

Yes, of course, he did perform ths song live, like in this performance at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on the fabulous Sunset Strip.

12 April 2024

12 April 2024 - Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation

We don't have enough Elvis on this blog, right?  

Well, this song.... it wasn't a hit when Elvis recorded it in 1968.  It was a minor hit when rerecorded later that year for a TV special.... but it wasn't a hit, despite being a fun and energetic song.  Written by Mac Davis (who wrote and later rerecorded a lot of Elvis songs) and Billy Strange, it was perhaps more than people were expecting.

Here's a video of the original, from the movie Live a Little, Love a Little, where the song first appeared.

You likely know this song, but that version you just heard doesn't sound right, right?

Fast forward to 2001. The song was featured in the movie Oceans 11, and then Junkie XL remixed it.  

THIS SONG was a worldwide hit in 2002, everywhere... except the United States, where it was still a MINOR hit, but not to the level of everywhere else, where it was a top 5 hit. Even in the US, it was his first visit to the Billboard Hot 100 in twenty years.

11 April 2024

11 April 2024 - Chappell Roan - Naked in Manhattan

It was only a matter of time until I got to Oliva Rodrigo's opening act, right?

But Chappell Roan is so much more than just an opener.  She's a singer/songwriter from the middle of Missouri, who makes campy, poppy music with a drag-queen inspired aesthestic.  This song, a 2022 song that ended up on her acclaimed album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, co-written by Chappel Roan, Daniel Nigro and Skyler Stonestreet, and its video, with all its pop culture references and over-the-top fashion is a perfect illustation of that aesthetic.  

To be sure, she is unique, and so is this song.  I'm genuinely impressed.

I could have very easily found a GUTS tour opening act performance of this song - and I did. I chose INSTEAD to share a more intimate club perforance of this song, which sounds better anyway. She engages the crowd, and they respond.  She doesn't even need a background vocalist (she supplied her own on the album anyway).   

10 April 2024

10 April 2024 - Sylvester - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

This 1978 disco classic was co-written by Sylvester and James Wirrick.  It was not more than a minor hit in the US - not nearly his biggest - and was a huge hit in Europe.

But that is only the start of the story.

The song was also a hit in discos - a club hit, as we would call it today.  It is here where his star would truly shine - and endure.  The song has been used as an anthem for LGBTQ+ pride in the years since the song was released - the magazine Time Out ranked it #8 on a list of songs to celebrate Pride all year long.  

Sylvester himself, with his androgynous looks and the fact that he was, in fact, gay, was propelled by this song into icon status within the gay communitiy, and beyond, because the man was fabulous.  Sadly, he passed away in 1988 from complications from HIV - I'm so grateful that that disease is not the killer it was in the 1980s but we still need a cure. 

We are so happy to bring you a live version of this - not every disco song has that, but Sylvester did perform live. The laser sounds in the song are replaced with horns, and my goodness, it's a fantastic sound. 

09 April 2024

9 April 2024 - Olivia Rodrigo - obsessed

I want to scream.

Olivia Rodrigo released one of my 2 or 3 favorite albums of 2023 - GUTS - in September.

Last week, she released GUTS (spilled) with five more songs.

Do I buy the new vinyl? Probably not.  But this, the first new single, is pretty spectacular.  Co-written by Rodrigo, Dan Nigro, and Annie Clark, it rocks hard and is already a top 20 hit.  Fun fact - this is the 2nd Olivia Rodrigo song on which Annie Clark is listed as a songwriter ("deja vu", which borrows heavilty from "Cruel Summer" being the first), but the first on which they truly collaborated.

Anyway, it's a banger.  Check it out.  

Even before the expanded album, the song existed - and was on some special versions of GUTS (although not the one I own, dammit).  It is included on the GUTS tour playlist.