22 October 2021

22 October 2021 - Lights - Prodigal Daughter

I was going to have a moratorium on any Lights posts for a while.  

But then she goes and releases THIS.

And if I did it for Lorde, I have to do it for #1000

But yeah. New Lights song. The video itself is... provocative. Let's call it that. Drenched in red, it matches this blog. 

The song, expected to be the first single off her next album (due next year) is described by the artist herself as "a banger about finding yourself." Which is absolutely something I would say. 

21 October 2021

21 October 2021 - Lush - Sweetness and Light

As many of you know, I was really into shoegaze music in the 90's.  Still am, in fact. When Lush started out, they were the epitome of shoegaze.  Like, open the dictionary, turn to "shoegaze", and a picture of Lush is right there.  

This was one of their first singles - and their first in the US when they finally released all their UK music here.   When released, the song was actually a turn towards shoegaze - their earlier music had more of a post-punk feeling - with a lighter sound.  In the mix, Miki Berenyi (lead) and Emma Anderson (backing (and songwriter, by the way)) were styled with slightly obscured vocals to invoke a dreamy feel.  

20 October 2021

20 October 2021 - The National - Slow Show / 29 Years

This song is a deep cut from the 2007 album Boxer by Cincinatti band The National.  It is widely considered to be one of the greatest modern love songs ever written.  And, yet, it wasn't a single.  Go figure.  

The song is classic indie-pop, with a dark and brooding accompanyment alongside the sweet lyrics about what real love looks like. 

A personal joy I get is when the live performance sounds so much like the studio one.  On one hand, you want to see some unique elements - and you get that with this 2010 live performance - but also, you can see how tight the band is, and how much an extension of themselves this performance is.

"Slow Show" incorporated lyrics from their 2001 song, "29 Years", which was a more country-tinged song, but you can hear the future sound starting to develop.

19 October 2021

19 October 2021 - We The Kings - Check Yes Juliet

It's pretty common that a band's debut single is their biggest.  This is the case with We The Kings, a Florida power pop-rock band that hit glod - no, platinum - with their very first single.  Released in 2008, the song spent THREE YEARS on charts all over the world.  

Anyone who knows the Romeo and Juliet story - about a strong new love - can figure out the plot of this song without too much thought.  The boy knows what he has with the girl and is fighting so hard for it.  Not only lyrically, but the rises and falls of the pop-punk song in a musical manner convey the feeling of urgency and desperation.  

18 October 2021

18 October 2021 - Vance Joy - Missing Piece

Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy wrote a song that spoke to a lot of us as we were forcibly separated during the COVID-19 global pandemic.  In his words:
“Missing Piece is a song about being separated from someone you love. It can be tough but when what you have is good you know that these separations are just small stuff; you’re both holding the line. It’s about the stillness you find when you are together." - Vance Joy
Written on a Zoom call with Joel Little - how pandemic of them - the song and video both capture that feeling of separation and the joy of reunion with the person that completes you.  

15 October 2021

15 October 2021 - Phantogram - Into Happiness

The pride of Saratoga Springs, Phantogram, have evolved throughout their history.  Their fourth album, Ceremony, released in 2020, was richer and more nuanced than their previous work, while still retaining an electronic edge.  

This song, the first single of that album, was co-written by the two members of Phantogram - Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter - along with producer Boots and William Patrick Corgan - he usually goes by Billy - and was something of an alternative radio hit.  Both Carter and usual vocalist Barthel contribute lead vocal to this song.

Lyrically, the song is brighter than most prior Phantogram fare, although it still teeters strongly on the dark side.  It shows a maturity not seen before. 

14 October 2021

14 October 2021 - BØRNS - Electric Love

I am sitting here, writing this a week in advance.  I have a very busy week next week, so I want to make sure I get every last post to you.  

This 2014 song - which was certified platinum and has hit the charts a FEW times - was the debut single by BØRNS, who is, with that special character, American.  Go figure.  More recently, this song was featured in a TikTok challenge to kiss your best friend.  That is something I wholeheartedly recommend.  

The song has been described as "viral".  It is a funky, strangely beautiful love song, a throwback to the days of glam rock.  It grabs the listener with a haunting rhythm and drops right into a throbbing bassline.

Somehow, with a full band in a live performance, the song is even funkier and grander.

13 October 2021

13 October 2021 - The Box Tops - The Letter

Do you know that feeling when your baby is back at home and you're not, and she lets you know she's missing you as badly as you are missing her, and you have to just get to her as fast as possible - so fast that a train won't cut it?

So does Alex Chilton, who perfectly put that feeling to music. He didn't write the song - Wayne Carson did - but the gruff, bluesy take that Chilton had on the song is the first and still the greatest.  

12 October 2021

12 October 2021 - MGMT - Electric Feel

Look, I still say the Katy Perry version is better.  It objectively is. 

That does not make the MGMT version of this song, the original, not good.  It is.  Really good.  It is a trippy, fuzzed up trip that served as the group's first worldwide hit.  

The song - an electric tale of love - is incredibly complex, and takes a fair bit of skill to perform.  Which is why it's really impressive to see performed live.  

11 October 2021

11 October 2021 - Carpenters - Top Of The World

This song, co-written by Richard Carpenter, went to #1 for 2 weeks in 1973.  And, it wasn't even supposed to be a single -  it was an album cut that ended up being a COUNTRY hit for Lynn Anderson when she covered it herself.   

Lyrically, it's little more than a really simple love song - but isn't that what love is all about?  Musically, although there's a full orchestra as part of the backing band, the song is dominated by the Wurlizer electric piano.  Karen Carpenter's earnest, wholesome delivery really sells the song.  

08 October 2021

8 October 2021 - Love Positions - Into Your Arms

However, Robyn St. Clare of Australian jangle-pop band The Hummingbirds wrote the song.  She and fellow Hummingbird and future Lemonhead (he brought the song with him) Nic Dalton recorded this song as part of their side project, Love Positions.  The song is incredible simple.  It's a love song that succintly expresses the feeling of warmth and security one finds in true love.

The original arrangement of the song is sparse - St. Clare on vocal, Dalton on guitar.  There's a lot of beauty in the light arrangement.

07 October 2021

7 October 2021 - Berlin - Take My Breath Away

When this song came out, Berlin hadn't been heard from much in a couple of years - and had never had a top 20 hit, although a few of their songs (most recently "No More Words") had been minor US hits. 

This song was different.  The love theme from the movie Top Gun, it won the Academy Award for songwriter Giorgio Moroder - who was asked by Jerry Bruckheimer to write the song for the film.

Berlin was not the first choice for the song - The Motels, actually - but when they passed, Moroder thought of Berlin - he had produced "No More Words".  and, frankly, he made the right choice. Teri Nunn was more than capable of what is considered to be one of the greatest key changes in music history (time code: 2:48), something Martha Davis of The Motels could not do. 

The song itself is one that is well known to this day.

06 October 2021

6 October 2021 - Lights - Timing Is Everything

I wasn't planning on a Lights post for a while.  I mean, #1000

Then she posted this on Instagram:

HOW can I ignore this?  Even if I'm a couple of days late.  

You see, Lights's sophmore album, Siberia, was released on October 4th, 2011.  It's ten years old. And I had a complete blind spot to it - largely because I didn't really (at the time) love her first album.  My former co-author Scott quite famously called me out on this.  In fact, I didn't discover this record until THIS YEAR

Before I wrote this post, I did something I don't do very often anymore to any album.  I listened to Siberia end to end.   It has quickly become one of my favorite albums, ever, and this listening didn't do anything to change that.  It is both dark and, well, light at the same time.  The music is stark and brooding at points, but Lights's vocal and lyrics bring the tone way up.

This is a song I often forget is on Siberia and was reminded of on my listening. The title gives the subject away - often in life, things happen - LOVE happens - when the timing is right and two people with different trajectories come together in the same point in time.  It is a beautiful and meaningful work of art.

05 October 2021

5 October 2021 - Barry Manilow - Can't Smile Without You

Let's not bury the sotry here.

This is a cover.   

It should be on Totally Covered.

It's here.  Here is where it's going to stay.   

The Barry Manilow version of this song was not the first - David Martin did that.  But Manilow made this song his own, and this is how he did it. First, he sang the hell out of it.  He just did.  No argument.  But what he added - the sweet whistle at the beginning, a few lyrical changes - really made the song into the classic song that it is.  

Credit, however, needs to go to the original songwriters - Christian Arnold, Geoff Morrow, and David Martin - who really captured in their lyrics what being in love really is.  It is one of the most pure and beautiful representations of this in music.

04 October 2021

4 October 2021 - Cher Lloyd - Sirens

It's been a long time since we visited Cher Lloyd, performer of the most perfect pop song.   Fight me.  

But she actually did that twice, because with her second album, Sorry I'm Late, the 3rd place finisher on X Factor really found a new maturity and strength in her already strong voice.  It was a little weird to hear the words "Cher Lloyd" and "critical acclaim" in the same sentence, and yet, with this song.....

So, maybe I have to say she's got two perfect and very different pop songs.  

So, I was curious.  I mean, this is a great and emotional tour de force of a song - that, by the way, she co-wrote.  But, what happens if you strip all the production out - if you have Cher and a microphone and a sparser accompanyment?

You hear her emotion more.  You hear everything she threw into this song so much more.

01 October 2021

1 October 2021 - Lucinda Williams - Changed the Locks

In 2017, I wrote a post about one of the songs that made me start the Totally Covered blog.  I wrote it from the cover perspective.   Today, I wanted to give you the other side.   

In 1988, Austin TX singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams released a self-titled album.  There were a lot of great songs you know (The Grammy-winning "Passionate Kisses", famously covered by Mary Chapin Carpenter, comes to mind). However, few songs reach the influence of this song, released as a single in 1989.  

The story of the song, with harmonica, guitar and a sharp drum backing, is simple - a woman is taking increasingly absurd measures to prevent herself from falling in love with someone.  The brilliance of this song is that the object of her affection is not assigned any fault, anywhere - it's just an internal fight she's having with herself.  It is the truest musical representation of fighting one's personal feelings I've ever heard.

I called the song "achy" and "desperate" when I wrote about it on the covers blog.  Both are accurate terms, but it's a lot more than that.  

30 September 2021

30 September 2021 - Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

This might be the first spoken word piece I've ever posted here.   

What a lot of people don't know is that this poem, written and performed by Gil Scott-Heron, was a response to someone else's poem.  Poetry group The Last Poets had released a piece called "When The Revolution Comes", in which they implied, and by implied, I mean, said right out, that most people will watch the revolution on TV.

What Gil Scott-Heron didn't realize is that he had written a rallying cry, using a phrase from the 1960's Black Power movement.  He wrote a poem that resonated far greater than Black Power, or any one movement.  He wrote and performed a piece that is used to this day to motivate crowds and drive protests, despite its dated 1970 references.  

Listen to the line repeated twice at about 1:30 and tell me this song doesn't still resonate today.

29 September 2021

29 September 2021 - Julia Volkova - Didn't Wanna Do It

We've spoken in the past about the ladies of t.A.T.u.  We've spoken about the solo career of Lena Katina. Julia Volkova has one as well.   Unfortunately, this is where we have to jump break......

28 September 2021

28 September 2021 - Bonjour Brumaire - Brooklyn

Let's start with the obvious reason I'm posting this.  

It's a Quebec band writing about Brooklyn.  There is no other reason

Youri Zaragoza is an excellent and unusual vocalist who brings a pained tone to this interesting and deep song.  The song was co-written by the four gentlemen/band members, and it's not so much about one of the four best boroughs of New York City, but more of a love song.  

Here's the band performing the song live in 2008.  From what we can tell from social media and subsequent videos, the keyboardist left soon after to do other things.  

27 September 2021

27 September 2021 - The Easybeats - Good Times

The Easybeats were the first Australian band to have a hit outside of Australia.  

This was not that hit, but it was a minor international hit for another band.  This version, featuring a guest vocal by Steve Marriott of the group Small Faces, hit #22 in Australia in 1968.  The song itself is a lot of fun and oft-covered for that very reason.

It's also one of my favorite songs from the 1960's, and not just because of INXS and Jimmy Barnes.  

24 September 2021

24 September 2021 - Billy Joel - A Matter of Trust

Billy Joel followed up his huge HUGE hit album An Innocent Man with a greatest hits album, which, for someone supposedly in the prime of their career, is a lame move.  But, at that time, I considered Billy Joel to be pretty lame.   

When he followed that with 1986's The Bridge, I didn't consider him quite so lame.  You see, this song came out at a time when I was starting to branch out in musical taste - and discovering new artists that were outside the mainstream.  I had already rejected Billy Joel's music as pretty boring and bland.  When I first heard this song, however, it changed my perception a little.  It was a song with a little soul - a little emotion.  Perhaps it's the fact that it's a guitar-driven and not piano-driven song - but it resonated with me.  

I'm not a Billy Joel fan to this day.  This song, however, still hits.

23 September 2021

23 September 2021 - Fine, It's Pink - Sailor

Last week, my favorite Romanian band, Fine, It's Pink, released a new single.   

Isn't it natural to have a favorite Romanian band?  It isn't?  Well, maybe we need to normalize that. 

Anyway, they're a terrific band no matter where they are from.  Ioana Lefter has a unique, rich voice unlike any other I've heard.  The song is deep and also accessible. I hope this is the song that is their bridge to acceptance outside of Romania, but if not, at least you can enjoy it.

22 September 2021

22 September 2021 - Fugazi - Waiting Room

This is probably Fugazi's best known song.  The band's debut single is an absolute classic, still remembered fondly more than 30 years after its initial release.  

Written by Ian MacKaye about not making the same mistakes he made with his previous band, Embrace (you hear it now, don't you), it combines elements of punk, ska, and straight ahead rock.  Fugazi helped define the Washington DC hardcore scene of the 80s and 90s, with this song being a major reason for that.  

21 September 2021

21 September 2021 - Foo Fighters - Big Me

Look, sometimes, the post is about the song - and this one, an early single by Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana band is certainly a gem in and of itself.  It's a lighthearted pop-rock song, and a top 20 hit in the US at that.

But c'mon.  This post is all about this video.  It's a huge Mentos commercial parody, and a damned near perfect one at that.  

To compare, here's the 2nd commerical they parody.

And here's the first.

The band certainly played this fun and happy song live, but they stopped for a while.  If you watched this live video, you can probably understand why, as many rolls of Mentos are thrown on stage.  I don't know if you've ever had a roll of Mentos thrown at you, but they hurt.

They do perform it now, probably because people don't get the reference anymore.

20 September 2021

20 September 2021 - Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - Mama Help Me

In 1990, it was time for Edie Brickell & New Bohemians to release their second album, Ghost of a Dog. Their debut album, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, was a blockbuster, but also, that put a lot of pressure on the band to follow up that unexpectedly successful album.

Which, in my opinion, they did brilliantly. I personally think the 2nd album was better than the 1st.  Unfortunately, it didn't sell nearly as well, and ended up, at least temporarily, breaking up the band.     

This song was the lead single from the 2nd album, and while it got a fair bit of MTV airplay, it didn't lead to a whole lot more than that.  Still, the song is complex and interesting, grabbing your ears tightly and not letting go.  It remains one of my favorites to this day.  

Note:  This song had previously been posted in 2012 - as part of a larger post.  It's important enough that it deserves its own treatment.

17 September 2021

17 September 2021 - Louane - Game Girl

For once, I didn't need a special character for French words.   

You see, this song was commissed by The Pokémon Company to commemorate 25 years of  Pokémon.  Why?  Because Louane fit the fun image of Pokémon - in the words of Colin Palmer, vice president of marketing for The Pokémon Company International
“Louane is an exciting addition to the growing roster of talented artists from around the world helping us celebrate 25 years of Pokémon. Game Girl,’ with its French and English lyrics, is not only an amazing pop anthem for Pokémon Trainers, but also represents the global resonance of Pokémon with international fans.” 
And, Louane - real name Anne Peichert - grew up playing the game.  She did write this lighthearted, lovely pop song expressly for the occasion of the anniversary, with bilingual lyrics, both of which she sings without foreign accent in either, which takes talent.  The song's title is clearly a play on the Nintendo Game Boy, for which several Pokémon games were quite popular. 

The song will be included on Pokémon 25: The Album, released worldwide in October, so hopefully Louane will get some deserved attention outside of France, where she is a superstar.  

16 September 2021

16 September 2021 - Cats On Trees - Sirens Call

"Sirens Call" was the 2013 debut single by Toulouse, France duo Cats On Trees, and it's a delight.  

It's also their biggest hit to date, a top 5 hit in both Belgium and their native France.

The duo consists of Nina Goern, on vocals and piano, and Yohan Hennequin, on drums.  The two of them take those instruments to the fullest, filling all the aural space with their music.  Lyrically, it's in English, but passionate and longing.  

It is very tempting to think that a duo might be resorting to studio tricks to give their song such a rich sound.  Here they are, live in 2014, proving that they are not doing that.  They are just that talented.  

15 September 2021

15 September 2021 - Lilly Wood And The Prick - Middle Of The Night

"But this song is in English?!"

Yep.  It is.  Lilly Wood and the Prick are definitely French, but they perform primarily in English.  

"But I thought this was artists you discovered because that French Canadian woman you constantly post about is in heavy rotation.  However, you've posted Lilly Wood and the Prick before."

Yes, yes I have.  Thanks for reading.   However, you may recall that post was mostly about Robin Schulz.  This one isn't. This post is about a band that keeps getting suggested to me, and not about a Robin Schulz remix (although, to be completely fair, that song is included in the suggestions).  

Can I get on with it, please?

Thank you.

Lilly Wood and the Prick are a folk duo formed in France.  Neither of them is named Lilly Wood.  They got together in 2006 to be a songwriting duo, and ended up making a lot of great music.  Their first big hit was their first single - "Prayer In C" (see above link) - released two years prior to this, but their biggest and best known hit worldwide - "Prayer In C" (see above link.  I explain it all there) - was yet to come.  

By the time they released this song, a minor hit for them, in 2012, they had migrated a bit from the folk sound and branched out into a more disco sound.  It worked for them here, and it continued to work for them.  

14 September 2021

14 September 2021 - Hoshi - Et même après je t'aimerai

Happy birthday to Mathilde Gerner, who turns 25 today.  

Who is Mathilde Gerner?  She is the French singer better known by her stage name, Hoshi.  But you probably guessed that already.  

So named because of her love of Japanese culture, Hoshi writes and performs songs with deep and complex emotion. She's been part of the music scene in France for a decade, between reality music competitions, street music, and finally recording her own music on her own terms.  

She's an underappreciated gem, and thanks to Spotify for pointing her out to me. 

13 September 2021

13 September 2021 - Kyo - Mon époque

I'm just going to put it out there.  

Spotify has noticed whose music I'm playing lately.  And they're suggesting other music I might like.  Not surprisingly, all of these suggestions are in French.  Some of them are old.  Some of them are new.  Some of them are Vanessa ParadisSome of them require me to figure out how to type special characters because I stubbornly refuse to separate the O from the E..

So, this week, I decided to share it all with you.  So, without further ado, music I've discovered solely because Cœur de Pirate is in heavy rotation.

We start with Kyo, a group of French guys who shared a love of American grunge and decided to make a band out of it.  They formed in the early 2000's, took an extended hiatus, and have now come back.  This is their latest single, and it is a banger.  The opening rift is a clear lookback to "Lithium", with the rest of the song hitting some 90's alternative vibes.  Lyrically, it's something of a sad and painful song, with the sentiment "Je ne veux pas rester seul" - I don't want to be alone - repeated throughout.

It was a little cruel of me to start with this song, because the video is actually Chapter 2 in a story.  You would have met the characters in Chapter 1.  I'll have to post that sometime.   

10 September 2021

10 September 2021 - Maria McKee - To Miss Someone & I've Forgotten What It Was In You (That Put The Need In Me)

Imagine 17 year old me, rushing to the record store on the day that Maria McKee released her first solo album.  

Yes, this is what I was listening to as a teenager.  And that album was really the third Lone Justice album - with a lot of the same personnel.  I was a huge Lone Justice fan (still am).  So, I had high expectations of this, and it did not let me down.  The first two songs were a heck of a one-two punch.  This was the 2nd single and 2nd track.  It was a slower, but beautiful and emotion-filled song. 

But that first track - I think I wore my cassette out on this track.  It was the powerhouse vocal I had come to expect from Maria McKee.  There is no video for this song that I could find, but I couldn't not share it, because it's spectacular - right from the first guitar that predated "Laid" by James by several years.   The song just builds and builds, and showcases McKee's vocal range throughout.   

09 September 2021

9 September 2021 - Cœur de Pirate - On s'aimera toujours

I held out as long as I could.

Literally.  This song has been out for a WEEK.  It was a midnight release on September 2nd, and I had listened to it no less than 30 times by 2am.   I even tweeted about it.
If you had asked me in February if the term "la chanson française" was going to be used more than once on this blog in 2021, I would have said you were crazy.  And yet, here I am, copying and pasting that damn œ for like the fifth time this year.  (I went back and looked.  It's the seventh time, which might even beat my Charli XCX rate of posting).  

But now I am going to tell you why this one is different and it has absolutely nothing to do with Béatrice Martin's pregnancy.  You see, I started down this journey into francophone music near the end of February, when I really wanted to find an artist that sang in French who was also Canadian to feature in my little #MapleLeafMarch thing.  And, I stumbled about this one accidentally - when I was researching another post by another artist that I'll gush over another day - and did a deeper dive. 

What I found was an incredibly complex artist that had a foot in the modern world and another in a classic French music world.  Her entire catalog was spectacular and unlike anything I had ever heard - a lot of piano, for sure, and a lot of words I did not understand.  In fact, French had been a language that completely baffled me, despite my background in romance languages.  

During this deep dive, some new music was released, literally all of which has been covered on this blog.  It's all been exceptional.  

Then came September 2nd, and a new song was released, and I was excited to hear it.  What I heard, however....  it was far far far more than I expected.  You see, in a life, there are songs you may hear that just make you stop and remember where you are.  These are songs that you can hear over and over again, and never get sick of them. They are songs that change the way you look at music forever.  

I've had that feeling a few times in my life, and I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard each one of them.  From the disco-tinged opening violin strains of this song, to the very last "tremble", this song had me.  I urge you to listen to this song.  You are going to forget it's entirely in French.  

The video was recorded in Lachine, QC, Canada, at the famous lighthouse there, and no, none of those balloons went in the water.  It also looks to me like it was done in one take, without edits, but I have no proof of that.

(Update: 9 September): Since I wrote this, literally today, her new album Impossible à aimer was announced, including this song, to be released October 15th.  

08 September 2021

8 September 2021 - Cyndi Lauper - She Bop

12 year old me did not know this song was about female masturbation.  I just knew that I loved the song.  And yet this song was on the PMRC's "Filthiest 15" list of truly filthy, filthy songs.  That's right.  The "Parental Advisory" sticker on some albums is largely due to this song.  

It was, despite that, a huge hit song.  And why wouldn't it be?  It's darned catchy.  The video, which is probably part of the song's overall appeal, is considerably more wholesome than this filthy, filthy song. 

Is it more obviously filthy in its acoustic version?  Maybe.   It's more obvious to me that I should have realized what the song was about at 12.  

07 September 2021

7 September 2021 - Dire Straits - Money For Nothing

I seriously, SERIOUSLY debated whether or not to post this song.  The 2nd verse, in a modern era, is really troubling.  Indeed, the Canadian Broadcast Services Council has banned the song in an unedited form, because of that lyric.  And I don't really disagree with that decision.  

In context, I decided to do it.  Here's why:  

1) the narrator of the song is intended to be an ignorant man.  The use of that one slur IS intentional, and not complementary to the narrator. Mark Knopfler intentionally wrote an ignorant character you are supposed to despise.  

2) from a historical standpoint, coming four years after the advent of MTV, it was the first big hit song to acknowledge that channel's influence.

3) MTV still uses Sting's "I Want My MTV" that he sang for this song in their promotional materials.  

4) I wanted to illustrate how far we have come as a society since 1985.  That slur was just casually tossed about in the 1980s - and today, it's horrifying to hear.  

Forgetting that lyric for a moment, the song itself is great, combining the 80s synth sound with some terrific guitar work.  The song itself is a gem, the video iconic.  

06 September 2021

6 September 2021 - GTR - When The Heart Rules The Mind

What happens when a couple of prog-rock veteran guitarists get together and make a straight-ahead rock album?  Well, that's what Steve Howe of Yes and Steve Hackett of Genesis did when they got together and formed GTR.   

The project was short-lived, but yielded one pretty good album.  Also featuring Jonathan Mover from Marillion on drums and Max Bacon on vocals, it was quite the superproject.  This was their debut single and went to #14 in 1986.  The band fell apart when their studio sound - sans keyboards (because Steve Howe was sick of that sound from his time in Asia) - didn't work live.  

But let's go back to this song.  It's a standard 80's rock song - less prog, more straightahead - but that doesn't make it bad.  It's a good song.  Co-written by Hackett and Howe, and produced by another Yes/Asia alum, Geoff Downes, it's a song that sounds dated and yet still present.  

03 September 2021

3 September 2021 - Mary's Danish - Underwater

It is rare that I can share one of my favorite songs of all time, by one of my favorite bands of all time.  I know that's not true, but just listen.  Then I'll talk about it.  The song is that good.

Mary's Danish was a LA band that released three studio albums and a live EP.  Yes, I own all of them.  This is from their last, 1992's American Standard. The band was short-lived, which is odd (and completely the fault of their record label, Morgan Creek), because the dual lead vocals from Gretchen Seager and Julie Ritter were legendary - they didn't both sing lead on EVERY song, as their voices tended to hit different styles - Grethen tended towards the harder pop/rock songs, whereas Julie had a bit of a twang that lent itself to a folksier/bluesier sound - but they sure did on this one.  Guitarist David King passed away this summer, so they are unlikely to reform again.  

But they left behind many versions of this song. Take this one, a B-side to this very single.  It's an alternate take that some call "acoustic" but was probably the demo.


The band made the rounds of the late night talk shows, and performed this song many times.   Let's start with Leno.  The Tonight Show was recorded in the band's hometown Los Angeles, and boy, did Jay ever look uncomfortable introducing them.... 

Get out of here with your Burbank propaganda.

Next, we go to Letterman.  Dave was far more comfortable introducing them.  I know that because I watched it live.  This recording cuts off his intro.

Also, do you remember CD longboxes?!  Man, those were the days.  

(postscript: if you want to read the heartbreaking story of why Mary's Danish broke up, go here.  They say it far better than we could)

02 September 2021

2 September 2021 - Transvision Vamp - Born To Be Sold

People who know me well know what my favorite albums are.  If you read this blog last year, I revealed that Velveteen by UK hitmakers (who did next to nothing Stateside) Transvision Vamp is high on that list.  At that time, I posted a really REALLY angry song - my favorite song on that album.

But here's the thing that makes that album so perfect.  There are no bad songs on there.  NONE.  They released two other albums - this was their second - and they were all good.  This one was borderline perfect.  

This song was a hit in the UK and Australia in 1989 and 1990, respectively - and it's a quiet tribute to a lot of pop icons throughout the ages - it's a song full of name drops.  Wendy James can deliver quiet and she can deliver loud, and she proves it on this album.      

01 September 2021

1 September 2021 - Santigold - The Keepers

We have come to Santigold.

Santigold is one of a new wave of avant garde artists that have given new life to traditional genres, like pop, rock, and R&B, fusing them all with an electronic sound and lyrical depth not seen previously.  This fusion brings a new sound - one that eschews genre.

This song - co-written by Santigold - dives into the subject of the degradation of American culture while we, the keepers, are asleep at the wheel. I do encourage you to not listen to the lyrics the first time you listen.  It's an aurally interesting upbeat pop song, different than anything you've heard before.  

31 August 2021

31 August 2021 - Brie Larson - She Said

In 2005, a discouraged actress from Sacramento, CA made an album with a couple of singles that got MTV airplay.  She was 16 at the time, and since this was her only full-length album, it seems early for her career to peak.....

The song itself is pretty standard fair bubblegum pop/rock, but it's earnestly performed.  Larson co-wrote about half the album, but not this song.

OK, let's stop being coy.  We all saw Captain Marvel.  We all saw Avengers: EndgameWe all read this post so we know Brie Larson can sing.  

I said she was 16.  The album was released in October 2005, about two weeks after her 16th birthday, but was originally slated to be released in 2004..... so, do the math, people.  This performance from January 2005 would put this future Academy Award winner at 15.  Her stage presence is a bellweather for the greatness to come.  

30 August 2021

30 August 2021 - Min x Erik ft. Khắc Hưng - Ghen | Ghen Cô Vy

In 2017, Vietnamese artists Min x Erik released a song called "Ghen" to YouTube.  It was a pretty popular song.  Everyone know "Ghen", the Vietnamese word for jealous.  The song was written by Khắc Hưng.  It's a catchy song about... well, jealousy.  

Fast forward to 2020.  The Vietnam National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH) were looking to commission a song that would help Vietnamese people learn how to stop the spread of Coronavirus, as it was called at the time (it became better known as COVID-19).   The timeline to write and record this was short.... so Khắc Hưng just went back to his old catalog and put new lyrics on his well-known song.  Hence, "Ghen Cô Vy", or jealous coronavirus.  

The song and accompanying dance challenge were a worldwide hit.  And who can blame people for loving this?  It's darned catchy.  And, even if you don't know Vietnamese 1) turn on the subtitles, because you'll find it's been translated into many languages 2) the video will give you a good idea as to what's going on here.

Of course, you could also listen to the English translation.

27 August 2021

27 August 2021 - The Minutemen - Corona

Here's a song all your jackasses will surely know.

No, seriously, this song was the theme for the MTV show Jackass.  That opening guitar lick was the perfect one to capture the essence of that show.  

But it's also a very simple protest song about injustice and greed, with d. Boon's guitar riff, George Hurley keeping time, and Mike Watt on the boom stick.  

That's it.  I went econo with this post.

26 August 2021

26 August 2021 - The Police - Synchronicity II

Let's just put this out there.  If you have heard the whole Synchronicity album, you know that there is a song called "Synchronicity I".  Both that song and this one were written by Sting, and he has refused to reveal the connection between the two.  

This song was a worldwide single for The Police, hitting the Top 20 in both the US and UK.  While the video was somewhat post-apocalyptic, the song itself is rooted in Carl Jung;'s theory of (guess what) synchronicity - which rejects chaos and seeks connection between unrelated events.  It remains my favorite Police song, possibly because it is so unlike anything else they ever did.

25 August 2021

25 Aug 2021 - Lionel Richie - All Night Long (All Night)

Lionel Richie left the Commodores to start a solo career.  It turned out to be a great move.  This song, the lead single from his second solo album, was a huge part of making Richie a superstar - even forcing MTV's hand in getting him more airplay, because the Carribean-tinged song was so popular with listeners. 

The song was written by Richie himself.... including the different language piece at about the 2:00 point of the song.  Fun fact: those weren't actually words.  He wanted African lyrics in his song, but didn't have time for a translator, so, well, he made up a bunch of African-sounding words.  

That's right.  He did that.  

The video was produced by Michael Nesmith, who used to be one of the Monkees and ended up being quite the music video pioneer.

24 August 2021

24 August 2021 - deadmau5 & Lights - When The Summer Dies

We're in the waning days of summer, so I felt like this was the day.  

This song from this summer, by two Canadian superstars (including the one that will forever be known around here as #1000), is a real banger.  Let's just start there. The song starts with pretty typical deadmau5 house beats - upbeat, danceable.  The addition of the (God help me for what I am about to say) light (sigh) poppy Lights vocal really sells the song.  It is the summer anthem we needed. 

This song is so cool, there was an official remix released two days after this came out, and it was amazing.  I don't usually share remixes here, but this one is that good.  

(Update: 7 Oct 2021) 'bout time we got an official video, folks.

23 August 2021

23 August 2021 - Big Grams - Fell In the Sun

This is something of a supergroup - a one-off collaboration between Phantogram and Big Boi from Outkast, with Sarah Barthel and Big Boi providing primary vocals and Josh Carter serving as primary producer. 

Big Boi famously accidentally discovered Phantogram when their song "Mouthful of Diamonds" was used in a popup ad he saw, and he immediately started promoting them.  That led to a friendship and professional relationship that included the Big Grams project.  

Did the entire project work?  No, of course not.  It's a weird mix of the distinctive Phantogram electronic sound and Big Boi's signature hip hop.  Where it DID work, like this song, it was sonic gold.  

21 August 2021

21 August 2021 - Kristin Hersh - Sundrops

This is the stepsister I told you about yesterday.  

This performance is from MTV and I remember watching it in 1994 when it first aired.  I was quite excited about the Kristin Hersh debut solo album, Hips and Makers.  You see, her previous band, Throwing Muses, was my favorite (still is), so I was expecting another album like that, maybe with less drums.

Lyrically, that's exactly what it was, but musically, it was far more acoustic-guitar driven.  This song exists in both an original version, which is pretty much Kristin with a guitar, and a "strings" version, which adds a few more, well, strings.  This performance is the former.   

20 August 2021

20 August 2021 - Belly - Now They'll Sleep

Look, I know.  I said yesterday that all the pieces were important.   However, today, we're going to dive a little deeper into one of those pieces.  

That piece is Belly lead vocalist, guitarist, principal songwriter, and postpartum doula Tanya Donelly.  This song, the second single off the band's second album, King, it was co-written with fellow band member Tom Gorman.  

Prior to Belly, Tanya was in a band with her stepsister who shall not be named here because we are talking about Tanya (and who I've written about pretty extensively).  Her songs with Throwing Muses were excellent - her songs with Belly better showcase her unique voice and signature guitar style, an instrument for which she is criminally underrated.  

This song was not terribly commercially successful, but history has been kind to it.  It is a classic power-pop song that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1995.  

19 August 2021

19 August 2021 - The Breeders - When I Was A Painter

So, I know what you are thinking.  I mean, I know what I'm thinking.

There's nothing at all guilty about this pleasure.  

Or, maybe, this isn't the Breeders song I know.  

This song was from their debut album, Pod.   At this point, the band was essentially the trio of women you see here - Josephine Wiggs (of the Perfect Disaster) on bass, the incomparable Tanya Donelly (of Throwing Muses and later Belly) on lead guitar, and Kim Deal (of the Pixies) on vocal.  If you look closely, you'll see fourth member Britt Walford (of the Slint) on drums in the other room. 

This very fuzzy rock song is lesser if you take any of these pieces away.  Without Deal's desperate vocal, Wiggs's perfect bass, or Donelly's distinctive guitar, it's a lesser song.  Together, it was pure magic.   

18 August 2021

18 August 2021 - Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever

Boy, isn't it a shame that no one makes good, complex music anymore?

Anyone who knows this blog knows we don't actually believe that.  There is excellent music being created, and Billie Eilish's latest single - released July 30th, from her 2nd album of the same name - is what we'd use as Exhibit A.  It starts off quietly - a cool throwback to 60s vocal-heavy ensembles like The Mamas and The Papas. Getting a real Mama Cass vibe here.  At about the 2:30 mark, it smoothly switches genres to be more of a 90s alternative tribute, before really exploding at the 3:00 mark and ending with a huge sonic deconstuction.

Lyrically, it's not a happy song, despite the title.  Not only is the music complex, but the words express complex emotion - being happier without someone than with them, and articulating that in a way that captures the true range of emotions related to that. 

As with most of her music, this song was co-written by Billie and her brother/producer Finneas.  She's only 19, folks.  She's likely to have a long career ahead of her, and she's ALREADY flexible enough to reinvent herself.

As you do when you are the biggest star on the planet, it is customary to perform your hit songs on late night talk shows.  Which Billie did - last week, on The Tonight Show.  

17 August 2021

17 August 2021 - The GAP Band - You Dropped A Bomb On Me

I was thinking over this past weekend that I had been remiss in posting 80's R&B on this blog.  It's woefully underrepresented, and that's wrong.  

The Wilson Brothers from the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, OK were The GAP Band.  Despite urban legend, this song is not about the 1921 bombing of that neighborhood, but rather about a surprising end to a relationship.  The song WAS considering questionable because of this - and the origin of the band's name, as "GAP" in the bands names came about from the names of the streets where the bombs were actually dropped, Green, Archer, and Pine.

Yeah.  I went dark.  But this song went a different kind of dark - sadness sung over synth.  It ended up sparking one of their biggest hits, hitting the Top 40 on the pop charts and #2 on what was known as the Black Singles chart - and is now the R&B chart - in 1982.  

16 August 2021

16 August 2021 - Sam Phillips - I Need Love

This song, the first single from Sam Phillips's critically acclaimed Martinis and Bikinis album - her 3rd as Sam and 7th overall - was a true departure from her Christian music days.  The line "I need God, not the political church" is really a slap in the face to that world.  However, it's also some of the most critically acclaimed music of her career, and a revelation of what was to come.  

And by a revelation of what was to come, I mean it is said that the photos of Sam used in the album art directly led to her role as a mute terrorist in Die Hard With A Vengeance.  Yep, that was her.  You didn't know that, did you?  You learned something today.

Now listen to this and learn some new good music.  

Did you like that?  Well, here she is performing the song on late night television in 1994. It sounds strange to hear the song without the background vocals (which were also Sam, by the way), but it's also a pure rendition.

14 August 2021

14 August 2021 - Pixies - Isla de Encanta

Story here. 

So when I was younger, I studied Spanish linguistics.  That's true.  One of my classes was about the evolution of the language, and an assignment of ours was to choose a Spanish language song from a different part of the world and run with it - basically dig into the different dialects.

This was the song I chose.  Los Angeles Spanish from a Massachusetts band.  

I was ridiculed because it's a little Spanglishy, but really, that's what LA Spanish IS - there is English mixed into the Spanish.  

Plus, it's a great song.  

13 August 2021

13 August 2021 - Elvis Crespo - Suavemente

I guess this kind of turned into a thing.  Well, it is a good thing.  This has been a great music week.  

You know what else is great?  This 1998 single by Elvis Crespo, which actually crossed over onto the English-language pop charts for a couple of weeks.  For many, this was the first introduction to the horn-heavy merengue style.  For Elvis Crespo, this was his debut solo single, having been a member of a couple of Puerto Rican merengue ensembles prior to this.   

On a personal note, this is one of my very favorite songs in any language.  It is not remarkable lyrically (he's asking a girl to kiss him.  A lot) or musically (it's merengue), but together, it is a fun, energetic song.  By the end of the song, you're going to be singing "Besándome otra vez" too!

For now, sit back and enjoy this great tune, and try not to dance.

12 August 2021

12 August 2021 - Ritchie Valens - La Bamba

I really am not doing a thing here.   I just want to put it out there.  This classic song wasn't completely written by Richie Valens. But it's not a cover.  He took a traditional Mexican folk song and set them to a rock line - that he, at his very young age, wrote himself.  

The song was to #22 on the pop charts in 1958.  He died in February 1959, in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, aged 17 - so he was younger than that when he wrote this simple but perfect verse-chorus-verse rock song.

Now, what Los Lobos did when they took the song to #1 on the pop charts - THAT was a cover.

11 August 2021

11 August 2021 - Carlos Vives & Shakira - La Bicicleta

I promise you there are no plans for a weekly theme here.  But when Columbian superstars Carlos Vives and Shakira collaborate on a song that they cowrote and put on BOTH of their albums, I can't ignore that.  

The song, which was decades in the making, musically pays tribute to their native Columbia - bringing in many elements of Columbia traditional music.  The lyrics do as well - it is absolutely about a bicycle ride, but it's a nostalgic trip through their hometowns - a sweet, reflective song.   The video reflects the locales mentioned in the lyrics, as the two of them bicycle through their respective hometowns seeking out dance battles.   As you do.  

10 August 2021

10 August 2021 - Julieta Venegas - Todo Está Aquí

I mean, she's got albums besides Limón y Sal.  She's got a lot of them.  

I've been talking for years about the unsung greatness of Julieta Venegas - which I stand by.  I mean, it's not really unsung - she's got a Grammy (for Limón y Sal, to be fair) and six Latin Grammys sitting on her shelf.  One of those Latin Grammys was for Algo Sucede, the 2015 album from which this song is taken. 

The song itself is a simple love song - talking about the happiness of love and how you really need nothing else.  Because, well, everything is here.  It is brilliantly written and performed.

Julieta herself is multiinstrumental.  The original version of this song was, of course, piano-centered.  However, that doesn't mean she can't perform it on guitar, too.

OK, I feel better now.  

10 August 2021 - Julieta Venegas - Limón Y Sal

Don't worry.  We're not doing a Spanish week.  We ARE going to post Julieta Venegas whenever she pops up on our radar, though, because she is a delight, and she DID when we started writing yesterday's post - because, of course, all Spanish-language artists are the same, right?

Wrong.  Really, really wrong.  

This song, the title song from her Grammy Award-winning hit album of the same name from 2006, deals with the acceptance of a loved one for everything they are - the good and the bad - fitting in thematically with the whole album's theme of the ups and downs of relationships.

That's right, English speakers.  These theme exist in songs in other languages.  And few write them better than Julieta Venegas.  She has forged a quiet and understated, yet very successful, career writing thoughtful music in Spanish - and, thirty years into her career, continues to do so.  

She also continues to perform this song.  Here she is, on piano in 2000, giving a heartfelt rendition of the tune in a live performance to a pandemic-driven empty room.  I haven't mentioned here that she's multiinstrumental (I did here) but, she's multiinstrumental.  

09 August 2021

9 August 2021 - Mala Rodríguez - La Niña

I had to go ahead and just use all the special characters in this one.  

You see, this was a breakthrough single for Mala Rodríguez in Spain, but Spanish TV banned this video.  Something about a child as a drug dealer didn't sit well with the censors.  However, that's what the song is about - a kid who wants to be a drug dealer like her dad.  

I've said it before - people aren't used to a girl from Sevilla being so in-your-face with hip hop and talking about such taboo subjects - and so brilliantly. 

This song is from 2003.  So many years later, La Mala still performs it.  Here she is in April, taking a break from her yoga content on Twitter, to perform the song live.  Her performance at 42 is a little more laid back and subtle than at 24, but it's still epic and powerful, painting a colourful picture.  

06 August 2021

6 August 2021 - Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi

I had SO MUCH material for #MapleLeafMarch that I literally posted every day - and we rarely do weekend posts here - and even double posted for a couple of days.

I STILL have material.

Maybe I should make it an annual thing.  Hmmmm.....

I somehow didn't get to Joni Mitchell, from Fort Macleod, Alberta. That's right.  She's not only from Canada, she's from the part of Canada that 90% of the country doesn't live in.  Clearly, she is a legend - winning many Grammys and Juno Awards.  This song, from 1970, was one of her first hit singles, and it's a cheery-sounding song that actually decries the suburban sprawl that was happening at the time.  It is still one of her best-known songs, and the message still resonates, more than a half century later.  

That's right.  Joni Mitchell has been making music for more than a half century.  She's slowed down in her late 70's - largely due to a brain aneurysm rupture she suffered in 2015 - but she has not stopped.

05 August 2021

5 August 2021 - Blake Babies - Out There

Growing up, the Blake Babies were one of my very favorite bands.   And, well, the solo stuff that came out of that band - the Lemonheads, Antenna, of course Juliana Hatfield, Some Girls - that was all excellent, but I always felt the Blake Babies ended too soon.

I was lucky enough to see the band live once, at the Iron Horse Cafe, where they performed this song but did cut their set short because 3/4 of the place left after fans of their opening act didn't stick around.  Which is a shame, because I loved the show and made sure I told all of them I did.  Freda Love (their drummer) was super nice.  

Anyway, this was their first "big budget" video, and this is what they did.  It got them some MTV airplay, anyway.  The song itself was co-written by Hatfield and guitarist John Strohm and reads like the aspirational dreams of a painfully shy person - so I relate.   

In early 2020, by pure chance (and by pure chance, I mean that Freda Love's band was opening for Juliana Hatfield in John Strohm's hometown), the band reunited for this song.  They had lost NOT a single beat.

04 August 2021

4 August 2021 - Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion

Classic music videos for songs released in 1975 don't often exist.  

But then again, the male protagonist in this video would have been 1 in 1975.....

The song peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, making this the first top 40 hit for the band and kicking off a string of hit songs.  I'm not going to talk about that.  I'm going to talk about the drums.  Now, you hardcore musicians know that, in a song in 4/4 time, the drum usually hits on the 2nd and 4th beat.  In this song, it hits on 1 and 3.  It's upside down, and it works, brilliantly.  

The band broke up in the early 1980's but reformed in the mid 1980's and enjoyed a resurgence, leading to a release of this single, alongside this video, in 1991.  

All these years later, the band still tours and still brings high energy.  Here they are in a 2011 performance.  Joe Perry's unusual background vocal is more pronounced here.

03 August 2021

3 August 2021 - Moby - Honey

Sure, this is probably the second best known song by Moby, and it was released three years after I saw him live, which means he didn't perform the song. 

This song is pretty heavily reliant on a sample - "Sometimes" by Bessie Jones - to the point that the the writers of that song are listed as co-writers on "Honey".  It is very clearly Bessie Jones singing all the lyrics on this song.  A later remix of the song included vocals from Kelis, but Jones is still central to the song.  It doesn't exist without her.

To his credit, Moby adds a lot to the samples with his forte, and that's electronic music.  

02 August 2021

2 August 2021 - Madonna - Beautiful Stranger

On days when we run out of ideas, we post about Madonna.

But she has had such a long career and so many guilty pleasures.   So it's hard to avoid her.  

Maybe we should have made her a Hall of Famer, instead.  Oh well. 

This song is from the soundtrack of the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and ended up being a pretty big worldwide hit.  Ironically, because we were entering a digital era that the Billboard Charts had not yet accounted for, this song only reached #19 in the US, but that was WITHOUT single sales, which were a large aspect of the chart at the time.  It was a much bigger hit in almost every other country.

On a personal note, I've been a fan of Madonna since her first album, and this was a high water mark for her, in my view.

The song has become something of a staple of hers live, even to this day. Madonna does not alter her voice much in studio (and it's a little on the huskier side so hitting notes isn't usually an issue).

01 August 2021

1 August 2021 - The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star

40 years ago, at 12:01am on August 1, 1981, a new cable television station went on the air.  That channel was, of course, Music Television, or MTV, for short.  

You remember.

Famously, this was the very first video played on MTV.  Although a 1979 release by Trevor Horn's project, The Buggles, it did have a small resurgence in 1981 because of this.  

Technically, we posted this on the wrong blog.  Here's why I'm giving it a pass.   It was written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, and Bruce Wooley - who were The Buggles.   Wooley left to form Bruce Wooley and the Camera Club and released his version of the song FIRST.  It's not the only song he took, but in the end, the Buggles version persisted.

Here is the Bruce Wooley and the Camera Club version of the song.  The recording features another "one-hit wonder", Thomas Dolby, on keyboard. 

Trevor Horn is still making music.  Here he is with his band The Producers in 2014, performing the hit that made Trevor Horn a worldwide star.   He's showing a bit more expression in this performance......

30 July 2021

30 July 2021 - Basia - New Day for You

In the late 1980s, Basia Trzetrzelewska was the hottest thing on adult contemporary radio, thanks largely to the rise of VH1 in that period.  What a lot of people in the US audience DON'T know is that Basia was previous vocalist for a popular UK jazz band called Matt Bianco.  She left that group not acrimoniously, but to pursue the very solo career that would define her internationally. 

This song, a top 5 AC hit in the US, was also a huge rallying song as apartheid was ending in South Africa.  Basia's style has been described as a mix between samba, bossa nova, and jazz, and you can hear that shine through here.  She has a three-octave range that is tested in this vocal exercise.   

The video above, for the worldwide audience, shows how comfortable Basia is with a band.  However, US music marketing dictates that a female vocalist must be the focus of ANY music video.  Also, a wind machine is required by US Code.  Look it up.  It's true.  

So, her record label commissioned a new video for the US market.  

29 July 2021

29 July 2021 - ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man

ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill died this week, aged 72.  

We pay tribute with a feature of their breakthrough song/video from 1983, the lead single form their Eliminator album, which brought them to a new audience.  Fun fact:  the guitar solo is a guitar DUO, played on two different guitars with different tunings.  

This song was really my introduction to ZZ Top as well.  And what an introduction!!!

28 July 2021

28 July 2021 - Lita Ford - Kiss Me Deadly

You don't usually affiliate hard rock music with keyboards.  However, that's exactly what Lita Ford did, when she moved from hard rocking music with the Runaways to her more glam-rock solo career, and it helped the song gain crossover appeal.  The song itself starts slow and builds quickly to a chaotic, energetic conclusion.  

This song, a breakthrough for her in 1988, came after a management change to Sharon Osbourne Management - yes, that Sharon Osbourne.  It hit #12 on the US charts and kicked off a period of generally strong success.  Lyrically, the song is somewhat sexually charged - she's singing about getting laid - or not - which wasn't a typical subject women tackled in 1988.  

It was Ford's boldness that made her something of a feminist icon - and probably contributed to this song being featured in the movie Captain Marvel.  

Ford did take a long hiatus from the mid-90s until about 2010, but she is back and still performs this song.....

27 July 2021

27 July 2021 - Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill

The first single from 1985's Hounds of Love, this was Kate Bush's most successful single in the 1980's  - and her first of the decade in the States.  But why is she making a deal with God and running up hills??!

Well, the original title of the song was "A Deal With God", which her record label balked at, because, well, that title doesn't get airplay in some countries (probably including the United States).  Her point was, men and women don't always understand each other, so making a deal with God to swap places.... well, that might help.

The video is interpretive dance.  That's not something you see every day.  

The original song is very synth-heavy, which, well, 1980s.  When she finally performed the song live, Kate Bush appeared with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, a frequent collaborator - and the synth was replaced with guitar.... and it still worked.  You'd never think a keyboard solo would work on guitar, and it does, seamlessly.  

In 2012, Kate Bush released a new mix of the song, in conjunction with the Olympic Games in London.  This version, which debuted at the opening ceremony, was also a chart hit for Bush. (EDITOR'S NOTE: but the IOC won't let us share it, so here's audio)  

26 July 2021

26 July 2021 - Limp Bizkit - Nookie

For about 20 minutes in the 1990s, Fred Durst was everywhere.   This song, released in 1999, vaulted hs band, Limp Bizkit, into superstardom (they were already moderately known), and was a big rock radio hit with some pop radio crossover.

This is despite some of the most abysmal reviews in history.  

The song was a bitter breakup song, dealing with a rough relationship that Durst had with a recent ex.  

If you were were not aware, also in 1999, Limp Bizkit played Woodstock 1999, where a riot broke out during and after their performance.  This was not the song that incited that riot, but Fred Durst and the rest of the band were wanted for and in fact arrested for inciting that riot with their words and actions, when he told people to keep breaking stuff.   

But this performance does show their energy.  Also, no one was breaking stuff at this point. 

23 July 2021

23 July 2021 - Cypress Hill - How I Could Just Kill a Man

You'd think that Cypress Hill would have risen to prominence on something having to do with weed.

You would be wrong.  This song was their first hit, their debut single, and featured homages to many popular hip hop and punk artists of the day, with Q-Tip and Ice Cube making cameos in the video.  See if you can hear the Suicidal Tendencies reference near the end of the song.  

I mentioned homage.  This was the height of the popularity of so called "gangsta rap" groups such as NWA - and I really hate typing that name out, because it generalizes and minimizes such a broad category of music.  The violence referenced here by three very high guys is absolutely homage, and having these guest stars in the video drives that home.

At any rate, it's an enjoyable tune, and I hope you give it a listen.