30 November 2012

30 November 2012 - Karmin - Sleigh Ride

I think, by this point, I have sufficiently declared myself a fan of Karmin. You might want to take a look at this, this, this, and of course this for evidence of that.

So, when I found out that they did a Christmas song..... and released it two days ago (after I did my last post on this blog!), I had to seek it out and share it with you.   It is certainly an off-kilter, interesting arrangement of a song that I think we've already featured three times.   Between the change-of-tempo horns and the Nebraskan white girl hip hop that we love so much, this is an interesting and fun arrangement that has quickly become one of my favorite Christmas songs.

By the way, this song is available for FREE download, from Coach.... the people that bring you very expensive but very good purses.  Go here to get it, and also find out what Amy and Nick are getting each other for Christmas.  

29 November 2012

29 November 2012 - Los Straitjackets - Here Comes Santa Claus

Nothing screams the holidays more than four dudes wearing lucha masks and playing some seriously righteous rockabilly. So of course I had to witness the Los Straitjackets Christmas Pageant with The World Famous Pontani Sisters in 2005. It was a rockin' good time daddy-o. I ended up buying two copies of their Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets Christmas CD. One for me and one to give away as a Christmas present.

28 November 2012

28 November 2012 - Luscious Jackson - Let It Snow

Today is the day that I, once again, set my ringtone for the holiday season.  This is my ringtone, straight from a Gap commercial.

Here is Luscious Jackson, performing their fantastic "Let It Snow", interpolating a little play on Gary Numan's "Cars".  This was performed live on Jay Leno's Tonight Show.  It's not the same without Carson.

They did release a real live video for this song.   It's cute, but it doesn't include "Sleds", which is pretty amazing.  Still, here it is.  It's a cute video - Jill Cunniff and Gabby Glaser make sure we know they aren't REALLY in snow thanks to their wardrobe - and a good version of the song.

Of course, this song was first performed as part of a Gap Christmas ad campaign, where Gap took artists they used through the year in their hip commercials and had them reinterpret Christmas tunes (This is Luscious Jackson's original commercial).  It is THIS version that is my ringtone, and has been for many Decembers.  30 seconds is enough to realize genius on this song.

27 November 2012

27 November 2012 - KT Tunstall - Sleigh Ride

In case y'all haven't figured it out, Wicked Guilty Pleasures is celebrating the holidays for the next month. I for one support this plan (well, seeing that it was kind of my idea it's hard not to get behind it). Like Tony, I can't wait for Thanksgiving so I can bust out my Christmas music collection. The first song I listened to Thanksgiving night was KT Tunstall's cool version of Sleigh Bells. Here's an live acoustic version.

And now here's the awesome version from The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs album (I imagine I'll be posting a few more from this record as the month goes on). Just try not dancing around the room like a happy fool when you hear this one. I dare ya!

26 November 2012 - The Sonics - Santa Claus

A little late? Yes.

But here is a garage band classic of a Christmas song that everyone should know - especially if you read Totally Covered - but hasn't gotten enough attention by anyone that isn't my 8 year old daughter.  Enjoy!

23 November 2012

23 November 2012 - Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops - Sleigh Ride

Christmas begins now.

What better way to celebrate Black Friday than the song that defined the Christmas season for me as a kid, and still does today?  Arthur Fielder's interpretation of Leroy Anderson's 1940's classic - the two often worked together - is both delightful and bombastic, and remains the gold standard for orchestral holiday music to this day.

Even The Gap found this version cool enough to feature in holiday commercials.  Here it is, slightly remixed.

21 November 2012

21 November 2012 - The Divinyls - I Touch Myself & Temperamental (& Pleasure and Pain)

In 1991 - I think - I saw the DiVinyls live.  Riverside Park (now Six Flags New England), Agawam, MA.  I went with Heather Deane, and we were right up next to the stage.  Her ears are probably still ringing from that show.  They put on a great one, too! Sure, they were playing all their new songs.... but they weren't all that bad.  Straight-ahead pop rock, and the gravelly vocals of Christina Amphlett really sold it all.  That was great fun with a great friend (who I really should call sometime).

This was the DiVinyls only hit single in the United States, but it was a doozy that everyone - EVERYONE - knows.  We all know what it's about.  It's mildly naughty.

The one thing that bothered me is that they didn't do much of their older catalog - they used a familiar old song during sound check that I heard when I was on the amusement park rides.  They did do one older song, which I was not as familiar with before, but has become one of my favorite songs by them afterwards.  Here it is, performed live.

Update (22 April 2013): Christina Amphlett will be missed.  She passed away over the past weekend from complications from MS and breast cancer.  In tribute, I have added that song they played during the sound check.

Not surprisingly, she sings about getting off.

20 November 2012

20 November 2012 - Abra Moore - Four Leaf Clover

Seeing that I posted Jen Trynin and Heather Nova last week, I might as well keep the 90s alternative female singer/songwriter party going. Here's Abra's most well-known song off of 1997's Strangest Places record.

19 November 2012

19 November 2012 - Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - What I Am / Mama Help Me / Edie Brickell - Good Times

I remember when "Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars", the debut album by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians, came out.  It was different than anything else on the radio - a little lazy, a little light-hearted.  I had never seen anyone open their mouth as far as Edie Brickell when she sang.  All in all, this brought a new, fresh sound to radio, and it was fantastic.

And, by the way.... it's Edie Brickell and New Bohemians.  If Edie had her way (and many years later, she did), her name would not have been above the title.

By the time their second album - "Ghost of a Dog" - came out, listeners had moved on, and it flopped commercially.  However, the first single from that great album deserves some notice.  They retained their hippieesque sound, while adding a more rock feel, and it worked well.

Well, that 2nd album's failure was enough to bust up the band, and so, Edie went on her own.  She married Paul Simon, too, but that's not important right now. What is important is that she recorded a solo album, the first single of which was a song called "Good Times".  It's a much more adult-contemporary song than anything New Bohemians did.  And, really, it wasn't a hit song.....

...... but it did come with Windows 95.  This video is on your Windows 95 CD.  Go ahead.  Take a look. I'll wait while you dig it out.

16 November 2012

16 November 2012 - Cornershop - Brimful of Asha

In 1997, I decided to get a satellite dish. My satellite provider offered MTV2 as an option.  Now, for those who don't know, MTV used to play music videos.  In the mid 90's, MTV got tired of people complaining about how they no longer played videos, so they made MTV2.  Eventually, MTV2 became just like MTV and stopped playing videos, but in 1997, they played a lot of them.  It was then that I discovered Cornershop.  Cornershop were a UK band, led by men of Indian descent.

Turns out, in the UK, there are a lot of corner shops owned by people of Indian descent.  Hence, the irony of their name.

Their name wasn't the only influence that the band took from Indian culture.  From their use of instruments not normal used in the West - like a sitar - to rapid-fire Bollywood pop culture references, they relied heavily on their heritage for their sound.  In particular, this song is full of them, starting with the title - a tribute to Bollywood vocalist (rarely seen, but her voice is in more Bollywood movies than just about anyone else's) Asha Bhosle.  If you care about the rest of the references, read on after the video.

Early in the song, you hear references to someone - saddi rani - dancing behind movie screens.  That phrase is the Punjabi phrase meaning "our queen", and, because Asha Bhosle was rarely seen, she was BEHIND movie screens.  And, as is made clear in the video, many of her song were released on 45 RPM singles.  Finally, concerning her, you notice Tjinder Singh pronounces her name "Asher" quite a bit.  That's not accidental.  It is homage to Indian pronunciation.

There are several other icons of Bollywood mentioned in this song - people like Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, who also did singing behind the scenes for Bollywood film.  But there are other pop culture references, to All-India Radio, which is India's public radio station where a lot of these songs are played, and 2-in-1s, which were combination cassette player/radio devices popular in India.

There's one other reference I want to explain.  "We don't care about no government warnings, about their promotion of a simple life, and the dams they are building."  These are very specific references to things that were going on in Indian government, and this references makes this something of a protest song.  The Indian government - their culture in general - tends to be conservative, and so not always fond of the "obscene" and grandiose Bollywood movies.  The dams are a reference to a typical corrupt project undertaken by government contractors - to use up tax dollars, the government would order the building of ridiculous dams.

I won't insult your intelligence by explaining why everyone needs a bosom for a pillow.  Single greatest lyric ever written.

And now, your patience is rewarded with a live version of this song.

Norman Cook - AKA Fatboy Slim - was so taken by this song that he did a remix that became a huge hit in the UK.  He loved the song so much, he did it for free.  And he did it well, too.  Here it is, in a fan-made video. Frankly, I found the video creative and well-made, so I decided to feature it here. Enjoy.

15 November 2012

15 November 2012 - Jen Trynin - Better Than Nothing

I know it's supposed to be 80s Thursday, but I had a feeling Tony was going to steal this one away from me after my Heather Nova post a couple days ago. He's sneaky like that. And I couldn't let that happen. So we'll hit the 80s cheese again next week.

Like Heather Nova, I was a big Jen Trynin fan. Sadly Jen's solo career only lasted two records before she got sick of the playing the music industry game. She was probably smart to get out, even if I do miss hearing her songs. At least we have those two fine albums which I still play from time to time. Here's the video for her breakthrough hit from 1994's Cockamamie album. I still put this one on pretty much every roadtrip mix I make.

14 November 2012

14 November 2012 - Paula Abdul - Vibeology

Before she was an American Idol judge, and after she was the Laker Girl main choreographer, Paula Abdul had a singing career.  This was the 4th single from her 2nd album, and was a top 20 hit in 1992.  Strangely, it was an even bigger hit in Canada, where it remained on the charts for 26 weeks, reaching #3, It's different than the songs she released before and after, insofar that it is even more up-tempo.

Also, any song that features "horny horns" is OK by me.

13 November 2012

13 November 2012 - Heather Nova - Walk This World

I don't know if today's song is a guilty pleasure or not, but Heather Nova was a mild obsession of mine in the mid 90s through the mid 00s. Somehow she dropped off my new music buying radar, which is unfortunate. I think I'll have to remedy that and check out her last couple records as soon as possible.

Anyway, here's the very cool video for her highest charting song (No. 13 on Billboard Modern Rock Track) which appeared on 1994's fantastic Oyster record.

12 November 2012

12 November 2012 - The Archies - Sugar Sugar

Perhaps the greatest single to ever come from a cartoon.

Oh, you didn't realize that, when we say The Archies performed this song, we were referring to THE Archies, from the Archie comic books and popular television series?  Don't be embarrassed.  Most people don't.

But it's true.  Reggie plays bass, Jughead is on the drums, Veronica Lodge is on the keyboards, and Betty Cooper is on the tambourine.  Of course, Archie plays lead guitar and sings.  I mean, the band does carry his name, right?  It's a simple song, with simple chord progressions, but it builds - it is quiet at points, but it moves to frantic as the song wears on.

Of course, we all know that cartoons require voices.  In this case, the singing voice of Archie Andrews was provided by a man named Ron Dante.  Here he is, singing his signature hit in real life.  The real musicians were session musician, recruited by none other than the great Don Kirshner.  As you can see and hear, it is the same song, but Ron Dante just doesn't look as appealing as an animated Archie Andrews.

09 November 2012

9 November 2012 - Ke$ha - Die Young


I know we've written about Ke-Dollar Sign-Ha before - and that was a completely worthy tune. When I found out her new single was out, I sought it out, listened to it.... and found it to be the most catchy and complex song she's ever released.  An acoustic opening..... an acapella middle.  And the song itself - danceable, catchy... and just plain fun!

Plus, part of the video is in 3-D, so get your glasses ready.

08 November 2012

8 November 2012 - Blondie - Rapture

Faithful readers, I'm sorry I'm late with today's post (I like to have them ready for your lunch breaks). Oddly enough, I was ACTUALLY working in an office in DC all day, as opposed to my usual couch office where the commute is much better and the co-workers (the cats) are WAY more fun. Anyway, when I got on the DC Metro this morning Rapture popped into my head (Yeah, I know, you'd think it should have been The Metro by Berlin ... as I always say it's best not to analyze what actually goes on in my head). So get up and groove to the Blondie beat. I'm not watching you, don't worry.

07 November 2012

7 November 2012 - Belly - Feed The Tree / Slow Dog & Throwing Muses - Not Too Soon

This band is a particularly strong guilty pleasure for me, more so than most others.

Since the mid 1980's, my favorite band, ever, has been a band from Newport, RI called Throwing Muses.  Its leader and usual lead vocalist - and since 1992, only lead vocalist - Kristin Hersh is a truly unique musical voice.  I cannot say enough nice things about her. I've written about her other ventures as a solo artist and in another band previously.

Her stepsister was Tanya Donelly, and they started Throwing Muses together.  Kristin was the primary songwriter and lead vocalist, and Tanya took lead guitar and occasional songwriter and vocalist.  Eventually, Tanya became a better songwriter, finding her own voice instead of trying to emulate her stepsister's. Once that happened, she started branch out on her own, first as a founding member of The Breeders (although she never got anywhere near a Cannonball), and then as leader of her own band, Belly.

Belly was a really good pop/rock band.  However, anyone expecting the dark feel of Throwing Muses were sorely disappointed.  Tanya wrote jangly pop songs that fit her voice and style.  This was her first American single (she released an EP overseas before returning to the States), and it was a bigger hit than anything Throwing Muses had ever done... which really pissed me off for awhile.  I've made my peace with it.  Tanya wrote some good songs during this era, and I still enjoy them.  I hope you do, too!

That aforementioned EP, by the way, was called "Slow Dust", based on two of the songs on there - "Dusted" and "Slow Dog".  Belly later released a remixed version of the later song in this country, and they even made a fun video for it.  Check out Tanya's jangly guitar work.  And lyrically, the song loaded with enough metaphor to make Kristin Hersh proud.

As a little bonus, here is the last song that Tanya did with Throwing Muses - a full year before any work with Belly - and the only one written by her that the band ever made a video for.  It's not my favorite Muses song, but you can see that Tanya is clearly on the path to Belly.  The bassist with Throwing Muses at this time - Fred Abong, who was not an original member - left with Tanya to form Belly three months after the album this was on was released.

By the way, this was one of the first songs Tanya wrote, and was on some early Muses demos.  Trust me.  This version is better than the earlier ones.

06 November 2012

6 November 2012 - Miranda Lambert - Only Prettier

I've had the chorus to this song in my head pretty much all morning. Gosh, I wonder why? Anyway, here's one of my favorite videos by one of my favorite singers. You gotta love the good girl/bad girl thing she and her friends Kellie, Hillary and Laura have going on in this one.

05 November 2012

5 November 2012 - Hyun-A - Ice Cream & Bubble Pop

Those of you who follow K-Pop must have known this post was coming.

By now, you've all heard the last great Korean pop classic (and read my post about it), "Gangnam Style".   At this point, it's our second biggest post ever.  And it's the #2 pop song in the country as of this writing, even this long after its initial discovery here.

Look back at that video, and you'll see that PSY has a female protagonist in his video.  That female is Hyun-A.  She also did a version of "Gangnam Style", callled "Oppa Is Just My Style" - that was also featured on our previous post, by the way - that has also gotten a lot of attention.  So, PSY really owes a lot of his success to Hyun-A, one could say.

Which is why he makes a cameo appearance at the beginning of this video.

But don't let that cameo fool you.  This song is all Hyun-A.  It's the in-your-face power K-Pop that she is well-known for in her home country, complete with envelope-pushing themes and outfits.  Her cleavage in this video is something of a minor scandal in Korea. She also weaves a little bit of English into her song and her video - check out the signs that the crowd is holding in the video.  And try not to laugh - English isn't their first language here.

Plus she runs over a clown with her ice cream truck.

Now, here's a little trivia.  What's the most seen K-Pop video of all time?  Easy one, right? It's "Gangnam Style."

So, what's the video it dethroned?

It was another Hyun-A song!  Here, she exhibits the same power pop - a little more pop, and a little less power, but both are still there.  More importantly, she exhibits a skill not often seen in K-Pop - rump shaking.  Seriously, this song borrows heavily from American hip hop, in both style and music.  Check out the breakdown at 2:18.

04 November 2012

4 November 2012 (Special Standard Time Edition) - Night Ranger - The Secret of My Success

Would you like to know the secret of Night Ranger's success?

They're alive 25 hours a day.

Seriously, I couldn't pass up posting this song, a fun 80's rock romp from the movie of the same name, starring Michael J. Fox and Helen Slater.  Their music ain't Tchaikovsky - it's just fun rock and roll music.  With keyboards.  And lines like "The secret of my success is I'm alive 25 hours a day" seem especially appropriate today.

02 November 2012

2 November 2012 - Prince - Raspberry Beret

I am a huge Prince fan, and I have been for a very long time.  There's not much that this man has done that isn't brilliant on some level.

This single, one of my favorites - and a song that I can sing word for word unprompted - was one that Prince, a perfectionist, worked on for almost four years, before he released it as a single.  And, for a song first recorded in 1982 and released in 1985, it still sounds fresh and new and unique.  This is a testament to the musical genius of Prince - he is multi-instrumental, deals with themes in his lyrics that no one else does, has a tremendous grasp of how to properly use a metaphor, and surrounds himself with musicians that are as strong as he is.

To that last point, look at how prominently Wendy Melvoin, on guitar, is featured in this video.  In fact, the entire Revolution - including a strings section - are featured at several points.  To those who claim Prince to be an egomaniac, I point you to the 3:38 point in this video, when it is made clear that Lisa Coleman is the 2nd vocalist.  This is a theme that recurs through several Prince videos.  The man knows music, and he knows he can't do it alone.

01 November 2012

1 November 2012 - Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science

It's time for another 80s Thursday. Here's a gem with an interesting, if not sometimes confusing storyline. I'd take the time to analyze it and make some funnies, but my head hurts. Regardless, I always thought this was a pretty rad tune. Hate to admit it, but it's probably the only song by him that I know...I think.