31 December 2022

31 December 2022 - Mary's Danish - Leave It Alone

So, here's some questions:

Why post a band that hasn't been together since the mid-1990's as your last song of 2022?  Why post a 30 year old song that isn't even available on Spotify?

I've stated earlier that I am a fan of Mary's Danish - one of my favorite bands of all time.  This despite the fact that the band only had three albums and a live EP (with a version of "Foxy Lady" as a bonus).  None of these albums were available on any streaming service.... and there was a good reason for that. 

You see, the masters were lost.  All of them.  

In 2022, the masters for their EP, Live + Experienced, and their first album, There Goes The Wondertruck, (some thought to be lost in the famous Capitol Records fire of 2008), originally released on the defunct Chameleon Records, were found in the Warner Brothers archives by Gretchen Seeger herself. So, now, we can stream "Don't Crash The Car Tonight".

This song is from their third album, American Standard.  That and their second album, Circa, are still missing, as they were part of the Morgan Creek records archives - a record label that doesn't exist anymore, although Morgan Creek FILMS does, and they do license music.  

So, in very much the John Oliver style, I have personally asked Morgan Creek Films for the licensing rights for these two albums - just in the hopes that they were open up their archives and find these masters.  Let's see if this gets us anywhere.  

30 December 2022

30 December 2022 - Soundgarden - Rusty Cage

This isn't the last post of 2022.  

It is a good completion of a grunge tribute week.

This was the 3rd single off the Soundgarden album Badmotorfinger and it was an instant hit.  Featuring an odd tuning (the E string on Kim Thayil's guitar was tuned down to B) and really erratic musical time signatures and tempo changes, it had a unique sound that's very difficult to replicate - but that's what Soundgarden did - create unique sounds that were difficult to replicate.  

It's a song that endures, too.

As Chris Cornell moved onto solo artistry, he still performed his songs.  This particular song, however, was famously covered in the interim by country music legend Johnny Cash.... who absolutely took the song and made it his own, so much so that Cornell used Johnny's version of his song when performing it live.

29 December 2022

29 December 2022 - Temple Of The Dog - Hunger Strike

If you didn't see this coming, you aren't paying attention.

The Temple of the Dog self-titled debut album, their only release, was issues in April of 1991, a project featuring what would end up becoming Pearl Jam along with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden.  It would remain largely unnoticed until 1992, when Pearl Jam hit it big and their whole story, including how Eddie Vedder joined them, came to light.  

So, you could consider this to be Pearl Jam's debut album.

This was their best known song, written by Chris Cornell. 

I do, however, want to paint a picture for you.

Here's this gas station attendant from San Diego who happens to be a basketball buddy of a Red Hot Chili Pepper, who was recommended for this project by said Chili Pepper, just walking into a studio with some giants of grunge who knew each other pretty well.  Yes, at this point, Chris Cornell was well known.  Soundgarden was a hit band.  Mother Love Bone was iconic.  

This gas station attendant steps up to the mic and turns this song into a duet, which he was unaware Cornell was already looking to do, and constructed the duet you see here, and cemented his own career. 

None of this matters if  A&M Records don't wake up and see they have a collaboration between two of their biggest hit bands a year after this album's release.  None of this matters if this isn't an instant classic of a song.

The song and album were reissued in 2016, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the initial release.  A new video for this song was released, compiled from old footage of Cornell and Vedder.

28 December 2022

28 December 2022 - Pearl Jam - Alive

Yesterday, we talked briefly about Mother Love Bone.  But what happened to the rest of Mother Love Bone after the death of Andrew Wood?

Many of you know the answer to this, at least partially.  Stone Gossard, guitarist for the band, started writing some hard-edged stuff in reaction, and started revisiting other stuff he had written as a member of MLB.  One of these songs was an instrumental named "Dollar Short".  He and Jeff Ament were taking part in a tribute project (to Wood) called Temple of the Dog with Chris Cornell from Soundgarden, and a San Diego vocalist who I'm sure you've never heard of named Eddie Vedder was recruited to do some vocals for this.  

Anyway, Vedder got his hands on "Dollar Short" and came up with lyrics.  Those lyrics were "Alive".  After Temple of the Dog, Vedder stuck with Ament and Gossard, along with other participant Mike McCready (who was already playing with Gossard and Ament with the goal of a new band) formed a new band, Pearl Jam, which would become one of the biggest and most influential bands in the Seattle scene.

This single, the band's first, was, believe it or not, only a minor hit - bubbling under the Hot 100 and getting some commercial airplay - but it set the table for their bigger follow-up songs.  And, clearly, the song (with the added McCready outro, considered one of the best guitar solos of all time) endures.

27 December 2022

27 December 2022 - Alice In Chains - Would?

When everyone in the music business discovered Seattle and their "grunge" music scene, one of the first bands signed (after Soundgarden, who really opened that door) was Mother Love Bone.  Unfortunately, Mother Love Bone didn't get very far, as their lead vocalist, Andrew Wood, passed away in 1990 from a heroin overdose.  

The influence of Mother Love Bone was felt throughout the scene, even after Wood's death.  His friend, Jerry Cantrell, vocalist and guitarist for Alice in Chains, wrote "Would?" as a tribute to his friend.  Originally appearing on the soundtrack for the movie Singles (the band also appeared in the film), which also featured a Mother Love Bone song, it would go on to be one of AiC's best known songs

The unusual makeup of Alice in Chains allowed for some interesting harmonies.  Cantrell sings the verses on this song, and the late Layne Staley - lead vocalist - sings the chorus.  

As was commonplace in the 1990s, the band appeared on the TV show MTV Unplugged and did a version of the song that was.... well, Layne Staley gave this version a very different feel.

Staley himself passed away from a heroin and cocaine overdose in 2002, but the band eventually persevered, reforming a few years later.  In 2006, AiC got together to pay tribute to Staley and performed this song, with Phil Anselmo of Pantera (themselves also dealing with the tragic loss of Dimebag Darrell, to whom this performance is also tributed) taking his vocal role and Duff McKagan of Guns 'n' Roses joining in on guitar.  With the new tribute, this song becomes even more poignant.

24 December 2022

24 December 2022 - Cœur de Pirate - Noël Blanc

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas Eve as much as we are here.   To celebrate, we have "Noël Blanc" - a French version of "White Christmas."   

And you know I'm posting this only because I have the œ on my clipboard..... 

22 December 2022

22 December 2022 - Phantogram - As Far As I Can See

It's been a while since we featured Phanotgram.  We're featuring this because we had a draft of this post already written for such a time like this - when we were too lazy to go hunting for a new song and research it.

Nevertheless, here we are.  And, since we forgot to add that research piece, we saved almost nothing.

The band's third single from their great debut album, Eyelid Movies, it wasn't quite as well-known as the two previous singles - but it still got a video and a bit of label backing.   The song itself is a bit of a sonic experiment in this format, although it is one of the band's older songs.   

21 December 2022

21 December 2022 - Shampoo - Delicious

Why does it seem like I'm getting all my music from perfume commercials lately?

Mostly because I am.

This song was covered by Miley Cyrus in a Gucci perfume ad, but it's really Shampoo who originally recorded the song.   Shampoo, a 90's girl duo who started off more riot grrrl and ended up more Cher Horowitz, had a few hits in the UK but never sit fire on this side of the pond.  

It's pretty standard 90's power pop, but it's catchy so I don't care.  Let's just enjoy it together.  

20 December 2022

20 December 2022 - kenzie - 100 degrees

The only thing I am seeing more than ads for perfume on Hulu these days are ads for this song.

This isn't a joke.  There's been a pretty aggressive marketing campaign surrounding this particular song in the last month of the year.  I'm sure I'm going to see the ad 100 more times before it's done.

I'm not sure she needs it.  You see, "kenzie" is Mackenzie Ziegler, best known for the six years she spent on the Lifetime series Dance Moms with her older sister Maddie.  We've discussed Maddie before - but only in terms of Sia.  

Now, Sia didn't write this song (she has written for kenzie in the past),- the younger Ms. Ziegler did co-write this breakup song, which was loosely based off a text a friend of hers sent to her - a friend who hated the summer, but broke up with her boyfriend in the winter so she longed for the summer.

Despite the fact that this song made this blog solely off the power of a Hulu ad, it's pretty darned catchy.

19 December 2022

19 December 2022 - Natalie Merchant - Carnival

I've been hesitant to post any Natalie Merchant music.  I found the work she did with 10,000 Maniacs to be more significant and more successful....

However, this, her debut single in 1995 after her split with 10,000 Maniacs, was a top 10 hit, and the accompanying album, Tigerlily, sold 5 million copies, more than any 10,000 Maniacs album.  This single made the top 10, which is higher than any 10,000 Maniacs song did (their cover of "Because The Night" fell just short).

So I was wrong about the successful.

And this song is a deep yet lighthearted look at city life, inspired by a trip Merchant took to New York City as a young child.  So, maybe this is also pretty significant. 

At any rate, it's a great song that established Natalie Mercahnt as a solo artist, and for that reason, I decided it was time.  

14 December 2022

14 December 2022 - Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz and the Encanto Cast - We Don't Talk About Bruno

It's not rare that a song from a Disney movie makes the pop charts.  

You can count on one hand the number of songs from Disney movies that topped the pop charts for five weeks.

Actually, you can count them on one finger, and it is this critically-acclaimed densely layered traditional Latin pop song.  Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda - the guy who wrote Hamilton, yes - it is a complex and extremely well-constructed song that moves forward the story of Encanto, a movie that Miranda was integrally involved in the development of (and we wrote the entire soundtrack).  

So many people - a who's-who of Latin actors and musicians (we will revisit several of them soon) - performed on this dense track - and we listed a lot of them, but there were more.  This is probably the longest WGP title ever, but I ain't apologizing.

Of course, for a song called "We Don't Talk About Bruno", they sure do talk a lot about Bruno.  

Because I did list out all those cast members and represented them with animation, it's only right that I give you a live performance, with the cast performing the song live at Disney's D23 Expo.  Notice how Rhenzy Feliz sings ALL the male parts.  

The cast made another appearance at the 2022 Oscars (the song wasn't nominated but c'mon).  It was introduced by John Leguizamo, who literally played Bruno.  Pay attention at the 1:45 mark.  No, Megan Thee Stallion was not in Encanto.  

13 December 2022

13 December 2022 - Bella Poarch - Build a Bitch

Remember yesterday when we talked about Bella Poarch lipsyncing to grime?

Turns out she has a music career herself.  This was her debut single, from 2021 - and it's really good.  That's not just me saying that.  That's critics, who praised its body positivity message.  

The video is some sort of a twisted take on Build-A-Bear workshop, where men could come and pick out the parts on women they might want - which, of course, is the point of the song (love yourself, you can't build a.... well, you can read the title). 

12 December 2022

12 December 2022 - Millie B - Sophie Aspin Send | Soph Aspin - Are You Mad

So, a lot of you have seen this little viral TikTok video that came out a couple years ago.  I know a lot of you have seen it, because it is the most viewed video on TikTok.

Sixty million likes for a little head bobbing.  What did I do wrong in my life?

As it turns out, this was part of a series of lip sync videos released by TikTok star Bella Poarch, and this one just took off.  The story behind the song is a bit unexpected, though.

You see, Millie B was a 16 year old kid from Blackpool who inserted herself in the grime scene - which was (is) all about freestyle, with a focus on diss tracks.  That's right - this song is a complete and total diss track, and if you look at the title of this post - I used the original title and not what it's popularly called on TikTok - it's directed at the queen of the Blackpool grime scene, Sophie Aspin.  

You know, to get that information, I had to listen to a lot of grime.  Some of it is awful.  Some of these artists - including Millie B and, frankly, Sophie Aspin - are really really good. And, let's be clear - none of these children talking about "shitte head" are at all serious (Aspin and Millie B have collaborated on tracks after this was released).  

I felt it only fair to post Soph Aspin's reply.

09 December 2022

9 December 2022 - Suicide - Cheree

It's the holiday season, which means it's time for a significant uptick in perfume ads.   So, how you you sell something that smells in a visual medium that doesn't have an odor component?

In the case of Marc Jacobs, when selling the perfume Daisy (as in "fresh as a"), this is what they chose (for a 2019 commercial that seems to be getting a lot of airplay this year).  .

Creepy, right?

However terrifying I found this commercial, I found the music underneath compelling.  So, I had to do some digging, and found that it was a remix of the the song "Cheree" by the band Suicide. From 1978, the synth-heavy oft-covered song is considered "important" and influential, but isn't necessarily a song that was a hit.  Still, we'll take interesting.

Here's the remix they used in the commercial, by the way:

06 December 2022

6 December 2022 - Missy Elliott - Work It

"Call before you come.  I gotta shave my cha cha."

By 2002, it was starting to not be so taboo for a woman to talk about sex in such an explicit manner.... but it was still a big deal for this song to hit #2 on the POP charts (for 10 weeks, which is a record, by the way).... which means it was getting a lot of radio airplay for a sexually explicit song....which Missy Elliott hid with sound effects (the elephant trumpeting, for example), but everyone knew what she was saying.  

But this song isn't just a bold sexual triumph.  It features some old school samples ("Peter Piper", "Request Line") as well as other classic songs ("Heart of Glass").  

And, let's be honest - we know why you're here.  It's not for Missy's badonkadonk.  It's the line "Ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gnaht ym tup i."  Guys, she's not talking backwards.  It's backmasked.  And it sounds really cool, doesn't it?  

Whereas a lot of artists wouldn't have the guts to perform such a heavily produced song live, Missy Elliott did... many times.  Of note is her 2003 American Music Awards appearance, which turned it into a call-and-answer and featured a male artist doing her backmasking for her.