21 September 2023

21 September 2023 - Kansas - Portrait (He Knew)

This song is prog rock at its finest.

Written by Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh, this song was featured on the band's fifth album, the huge hit Point of Know Return.  It is the single that had the job of following the band's huge hit, "Dust in the Wind".  

What better way to follow that song with Biblical references than with a song about Albert Einstein?

The song is absolutely huge, starting off with a vaguely orchestral opener, with straight-ahead rock and violin in the main part - and a frenzy of hard rock in the third act.  It did end up getting radio airplay, and I just heard it in the grocery store the other day, so you know it had impact.  

This version is from the band's 1978 live double album Two For The Show and is, in my humble opinion, the definitive version. 

Famously, Steve Walsh left Kansas in 1981 due to creative differences, and was replaced by John Elefante - an excellent vocalist in his own right who did Walsh proud with his version of this classic song. 

Walsh returned to the band in 1985, and the band went through various lineup changes.  This was a verison in 1992 that included a lot of the original band, but lacked Livgren - who had been in and out for a while.

Walsh didn't quite have as huge a voice as he once did, but he didn't do badly.

When I saw Kansas in 2012, Steve Walsh had lost his voice completely and could not hit these notes.  So, he adapted.  

He would retire soon after.  

In 2014, Ronnie Platt would take over as Kansas vocalist and remains so to this day - and yes, they are releasing new music, still.

In 2018, the band toured in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Point of Know Return by performing the album in its entirety.  And it was really good.  

20 September 2023

20 September 2023 - King Missile - Detachable Penis

I rarely start by talking about the video, but I'm going to here.

You see, this video is directed by Richard Kern, who is best known for cutting-edge erotic stuff like Submit To Me and Fingered, the latter of which features Lydia Lunch in a portrayal of being sexually assaulted by a revolver.   

He's known to be showy.  

So, this video, which fits right into his style, is a natural choice for him.  

The song, which is a heavy guitar riff and organ over John S. Hall's trademark deadpan delivery, ended up being the band's biggest hit - and a song that was hard for them to follow up.  I mean, it's objectively hilarious.  How do you follow that?

It did make their 1992 album Happy Hour a commercial success.  It, however, did lead to the end of King Missile's second incarnation.

Most people who watched MTV only saw the censored version of the video, which is above.  The uncensored version features a dildo, and not a particularly realistic one.  Still, it beats a black bar.

There have been various incarnations of King Missile over the years, but in 2015, this lineup reunited and performed a show at Shea Stadium.

Yes.  That Shea Staduim.

I mean, not on the field.  Clearly under the bleachers.  But still.

They had not lost a single beat.  

19 September 2023

19 September 2023 - St. Vincent - Masseduction

"Masseduction" was the fourth single off St. Vincent's late 2017 Grammy-nominated album (check notes) Masseduction.   

Co-written by Annie Clark (who, if you've been paying attention, IS St. Vincent) (by the way, Krist Novocelic didn't pay attention) and Jack Antonoff (they also co-wrote another song with someone else), the song is just.... beyond cool and beyond hot.  It was critically acclaimed (more on that in a minute) with the whole album appearing on a lot of year-end lists.

This song might just be the best thing from that great album.  

I have to be honest.

I was going to post St. Vincent today.  I wasn't going to post this song. Then I found this performance, which was St. Vincent performing this song at the 2019 Grammys leading right into being joined by Dua Lipa for her song "One Kiss" and weaving the two songs together.  Annie's very simple performance of the song is, in my opinion, better than the original - and yes, Dua Lipa's backing vocals help.

I mentioned Masseduction was nominated for a Grammy.  So was "Masseduction" - Best Rock Song - and it won that Grammy.  

Dua Lipa also won - for Best New Artist - that same night.  That's not a coincidence.  

Annie Clark does not, however, need Dua Lipa to be a rock goddess.  We offer this performance from the 2018 Austin City Limits Festival as evidence to that fact.

18 September 2023

18 September 2023 - Elton John - I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

A lot of you were expecting an Elton John song last week.

Not this one, of course.  

With lyrics by Bernie Taupin, and music by John and Davey Johnson, the song has a 50s feel, but the lyrics.... wow.  They are emotional and evocative.  The video tells a story of a couple separated and then reunited.   

It's a beautiful song, and it went to #4 on the US charts in 1983, with similar performance elsewhere in the world.  

There really isn't a lot to say about this song.  It's just a good song.

Except there's a lot more to say.  Mary J. Blige re-recorded the song with Elton John, and versions done by both of them have appeared on BOTH of their albums - this one from a 2000 live album by Elton John (it also appeared on a 2006 album by Blige).  

Mary J. isn't the only partner John has sung this song with.

Elton John has famously toured with Billy Joel a couple of times, and in 1998, this song was done by them, together, on TWO pianos.

In 1983, I was 11.  

I didn't appreciate a slow-paced emotional love song in 1983.

In 2023, I appreciate that Elton John has stuck with music long enough for me to appreciate and even like the song.  He's on what seems like his 94th farewell tour now, and this is him performing the song in 2022.  Yes, his voice has lost a little.  Yes, the song still hits.  

15 September 2023

15 September 2023 - Doja Cat - Boss Bitch

This song was the third single from the soundtrack album for the movie, and brace yourself for this title, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

I cannot endorse the movie, but this song, which is clearly tied to the titular Harley Quinn, is incredible.  It's an anti-hero anthem, it uses COWBELL, and you will be singing the chorus to yourself all day long.  

Also, "boss bitch" is a term of endearment.  Isn't language fun?

It's like racquetball for your mouth!

The song was a Billboard Hot 100 hit, peaking at number 100.  So, barely.  But it's still a banger, so here it is.  

Doja Cat rarely performs this song live, but when she does, it's spectacular.  

14 September 2023

14 September 2023 - Meredith Brooks - Bitch

Did you expect us to end this clearly themed week on this song?

We do not roll like that.

This song was Meredith Brooks's debut SOLO single (she previously had a hit with the band The Graces) and her biggest hit by far, becoming a worldwide sensation and a #2 song on the US pop charts.   She was 38 when the song was released - which, in a youth-centered industry like the music industry, is incredible.  

The song's single word title is frequently used as an insult, but Brooks, who co-wrote the song, was looking to reclaim the word as a term of endearment.  She certainly did not feel ashamed to release this as her debut single, although Capitol Records was hesitant, as, well, "bitch" is a naughty word.  She was right and they were wrong - and they did eventually relent.   

The video, by the way, is super-flowery.

"Bitch" was released in a time when Lilith Fair was a thing.  That probably helped the song's popularity, and definitely gave her a place to be to promote the song on tour.

The 1997 crowd loved it, by the way.

I appreciate an artist that doesn't make a crowd wait.  In this 2022 performance - when she's 64 and still freaking rocks - she performed the hell out of this song as the OPENING of her set.  By the way, stick around and watch the whole video - because she's got more than one song.

13 September 2023

13 September 2023 - Megan Thee Stallion - B.I.T.C.H.

Megan Thee Stallion is an artist who is pretty tough.  Her lyrics are empowering and sometimes angry.  This song, when she takes ownership of the word "bitch" and uses it in response to a not-so-great suitor.  The song is very much inspired by 2Pac's "Rather Be Ya Nigga", which she heavily samples.

This song also predates the time that she was shot by Tory Lanez.  Yes, that is a thing that happened.  

I have to tell you, it took me a while to get Megan Thee Stallion - I didn't like her much at first - but I'm on board now.   The more music she makes, the better she gets - and she's only 28.   She's got a lot of years go great music ahead of her.  We are here for it.

Anyway, back to the song.  It was a top 40 hit, even with the coarse language.  

12 September 2023

11 September 2023

11 September 2023 - Ludacris - Move Bitch

I know.  It's a sacred day for a lot of people.  Some people are going to think it is wholly inappropriate for us to start this week like this.  

I promise you there's a tie-in to what happened on this date in 2001.   

This single was released in 2002, the fourth single from Ludacris's 2001 album, Word of Mouf. The crass title - a reference to a common pejorative that either refers to a loud mouth woman or, more likely, just someone who was pissing Ludacris off that day - was frequently changed to "Move" to get it some radio airplay.  

Which it got.  The song was Ludacris's first Top 10 hit.  

Now, the song is at least potentially misogynistic, and is absolutely violent.  You can't sugarcoat that.

In 2004, the song was adopted by Democrats, with the titular pejorative changed to "Bush" - which made it the perfect song for people who were opposed to the Patriot Act and other slights to our liberties, as well as our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan regime change wards, that happened in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

Move, Bush, get out the way.

In 2017, with Ludacris's support, the lyrics were changed AGAIN to target someone different.

The song, steeped in violence, became a non-violent way to protest a president who declined to denounce the racists in Charlottesville, VA. and fostered division in our courtry.  

08 September 2023

8 September 2023 - Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland - Dilemma

This duet was a bigger deal than you remember.

It spent ten weeks on the tops of the charts - replacing another Nelly song, by the way.  

The songwriting team behind the song was the same team that defined the Philadelphia Soul sound in the 1970s.

It won a Grammy.  

It brought the term "boo" into the vernacular.   

It gave Kelly Rowland her biggest post-Destiny's Child hit and made people remember that the group was a lot more than just Beyoncé. 

This single caused Beyoncé to delay HER album release, in order to get out of Kelly's way.  

It sparked a SEQUEL!  Yes, there's a sequel song.  

So yeah.  It was a big deal.    

But none of that matters, really.  It's a good song that tells the story of two people infatuated with each other, and does so in a smooth way.  

When you have two huge stars like Nelly and Kelly Rowland involved, it's not easy to get them together live, but it does happen occasionally.  

And when it does, it is spectacular.  

07 September 2023

7 September 2023 - R.E.M. - What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

In 1986, TV journalist Dan Rather was assaulted by 2 men in New York City - and these assailants kept repeating the phrase, "Kenneth, What's the frequency?"   

This phrase translated into a 1994 single, the first from R.E.M.'s 9th album, Monster. According to lead singer Michael Stipe, the lyrics are from the point of view an old guy who knows everything about Generation X based solely on what he's reading in the media, which, of course, is utter and complete bullshit.  

The song is a cautionary tale, people.  

It's also a complex song, with a lot of fuzzy guitar... but you might notice the pace slows down at the end, almost as if they are running out of breath. Well, that's partly true - as they were recording the song, bassist Mike Mills slowed down his pace... and the rest of the band followed along.  Well, it turns out that Mike Mills had appendicitis and was in a lot of freaking pain.  Rather than rerecord the song at full speed, the band chose to rush him to the hospital.

See if you can find the point where Mike's appendix started to burst.

Normally, I try to sprinkle in a live performance, but in this case, they all sound like the studio.  R.E.M. is funny that way. 

I figured you'd like to see what it looks like when Dan Rather tries to sing with the band.  Seriously.  This is Dan Rather, singing with R.E.M. He would go on to tour with R.E.M. keep his day job.

06 September 2023

6 September 2023 - Haddaway - What Is Love

What, indeed, is love?

Baby, don't hurt me..

This infectious song was #11 pop hit in the US in 1993, and again was a hit in 2008.   Written by a couple of producers, they drafted a guy named Nestor to sing the song.

Nestor Haddaway.  His name was Nestor Haddaway.   

It would be Haddaway's only significant hit, but if you;'re only going to have one hit, this is the one to have. Of German and Trinidadian descent, Haddaway created a hell of a Europop club classic that endures to this day.

You knew we had to get there, right?

That's right.  Haddaway performing his hit live in 2022.  And the crowd loves it!

No, no, you wanted Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell, didn't you?

Indeed, the two of them created a popular Saturday Night Live sketch about a couple of idiot club rats from Boston who had their own head-bobbing dance style when it came to this song.

They turned their characters into a terrible 1998 movie, A Night at the Roxbury, that ended up making about $30 million at the box office.  It also brought this song back into prominence again, as it featured on their briskly-selling soundtrack.

So, here you go.  A compilation of Chris Kattan and Wll Ferrell dancing like morons.

05 September 2023

5 September 2023 - Smash Mouth - Walkin' On The Sun

I have to be honest.

Going into the weekend, I had no plans to post Smash Mouth songs.  I mean, I did post ther biggest hit a couple of years ago.   

Then, on Sunday, news broke that Steve Harwell was in hospice care and near death.  I didn't read that news until Monday morning, and that news was quickly followed by news of Harwell's passing.  

So, that changed some plans for the week.

I saw Smash Mouth live several years ago, with Steve Harwell on vocals.  This song was, of course, a highlight of that show - it being their first single and a pretty big hit.  From San Jose, California, this song was written by guitarist Greg Camp and heavily influenced by the then-recent Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles - I have to imagine that hit differently in California, even in San Jose, which isn't all that close to LA.  

Of course, record labels will push songs with a little social consciousness with an organ accompanyment as a party song.  Even though it wasn't - the lyrics are a little darker than the music lets on - Steve Harwell sold it and made it a top-tapping classic.  His live performance of the song was always a highlight, and it was a highlight on this 1997 Tonight Show clip.  

01 September 2023

1 September 2023 - Willow - Whip My Hair

Willow was billed as Willow, but her name is Willow Smith,  She is the daughter of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith.  This single was released in October 2010.   She was born on Halloween, in the year 2000. 

So, do the math.  She recorded and released this single when she was 9.  



I was still playing with my Hot Wheels at age 9.

Willow Smith was recording a top 20 song.  

And not just any song.  "Whip My Hair" was her debut single, and it not only was a hit, the song is absolutely a bop.  It was a club hit.  It was a kid's radio hit.  It was everywhere.  The song was, and is, iconic.  

And she did this at 9.

In this live performance five years later, I think it is clearer than in the original video just how talented a hip-hop artist Willow Smith is. She's got stage presence, and a command of the microphone.  

As of 2022, she wasn't really playing the song live with her band anymore - she's gone in a more rock direction - but does do it acapella on request at her shows, like this one at the iHeart Radio festival.

One thing Willow always wanted to do was shave her hair during a performance of this song, and, with her full gand playing, she did just that.

Also, this version really really rocks. Willow is a hell of a frontwoman and should still have a long career ahead of her. 

31 August 2023

31 August 2023 - Deadboy & the Elephantmen - Stop, I'm Already Dead

Deadboy & the Elephantmen were a band from Louisiana until 2007, when they broke up.  And then, no one really thought about them. 

Until 2015.  On The CW.  Tuesday, March 17th, 2015, at 9PM ET - or, really, probably about three minutes after that.  That's when this happened.

That, you see, was the night of the debut of a new series on The CW called iZombie.  It lasted five seasons and it's on Netflix - and it's better than the title makes it sound.  Highly recommended.  

Immediately, this became the best known song by Deadboy & the Elephantmen.  

It's not quite a zombie song, but it works as such.  The song is very simply constructed - just guitar and drums.  The band was, at this point in 2005 when the song was released, a 2-piece.   

It's worth noting that Henry Rollins was a fan of Deadboy & the Elephantmen, so he used his radio and TV platforms to promote the band.  You can see the 2-piece at work on Rollins's IFC show.  

30 August 2023

30 August 2023 - Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer

Summer is almost over, and we're finally getting to this song.  

We've been largely avoiding the hits on top of the pop chart this summer, mostly because it's been strange and partly because some of it has been terrible. But, now that we're at the end of the summer, we feel like we should address it.

How is a four year old song that had a run on the pop charts and was a top 30 hit in 2019 suddenly a top 5 hit in 2023?!  

If you weren't aware, Taylor Swift is on tour.  I know.  She's kept it pretty low-key.  But yes.  And this song from 2019's Lover album, not released as a single but still a minor hit in 2019, was featured prominently on her tour this year.  It makes sense - in a summer dominated by country music, a song that bridges her origins in country (the 2nd half of this song is clearly country-music influenced) and her current pop focus (this song is incredibly synth-heavy) fits in well.   

Co-written by Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, and Annie Clark (who is St. Vincent and we hear clear shadows of "Los Ageless", which was also written by Jack Antonoff and Annie Clark, by the way), the song is not a Bananarama song, but rather a song about a summer romance and the associated pain. 

The song became so popular as part of the tour that Republic Records rereleased it as a single and it took off, peaking at number 3 on the pop charts. 

Those who read this blog know that I'm not a huge Taylor Swift fan and I did not attend this tour.  This song, however, is fantastic. 

Her current tour has a remarkable similar setlist every single night.  Every show opens with a couple of songs from the Lover album, and this song is the 2nd song in almost every show.

Shockingly, people have recorded this song live on the tour.  This is from her stop in Santa Clara, California.

29 August 2023

29 August 2023 - MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Why yes, that is a Rick James sample that dominates this song.  In fact, Rick James and Alonzo Miller - the original writers of "Super Freak" - are listed as co-writers of the song.  

But let's be clear.  This song was written and produced by MC Hammer.  

How big a hit was it?  Well, in the short term, it was a big, but not mega-big, hit.  It was the THIRD single from MC Hammer's 3rd album, 1990's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em. This song, however, got airplay long before it was released as a single, and that drove album sales - to the point where it was the longtime best selling rap album of all time (it has since fallen to 5th on that list).  

The single itself was a top 10 hit on the pop charts - never making it to the top spot, though.  It was also a number 1 R&B hit, and a hit worldwide.  Moreover, it brought rap to a much broader audience, including many in my group of friends at the time.  

You know the song.  Now, it's Hammer time.  

One thing about MC Hammer... you probably know him for what he recorded.  His live performances were full of energy.  He was one of the most dynamic performers of his generation - which made him an excellent bridge from the old school sound that dominated the 1980s to the more in-your-face rap style of the 1990s.

Did I say "were"?  MC Hammer famously lost all his money from "U Can't Touch This" pretty quickly, which means he didn't get to just retire (although all indications seem to be that he recovered from that).   Twenty years after the song came out, he was still touring and still putting on a hell of a show. 

Here he is in 2018, STILL performing this song.  Yes, he's got other people doing his dancing, but he's still putting on a hell of a show.

28 August 2023

28 August 2023 - Nine Inch Nails - Only

Look, I know.  It hasn't been that long since we published our first Nine Inch Nails song.

Anyway, this is a different, not so loud song.  It's not quiet, mind you - but it's less in-your-face angry and more synth-pop-rock angry.  It's about Trent Reznor's job - as a musician, with real business pressures - and how that clashes with his desires - as a musical artist, and keeping his integrity.  

In 2005, this was the first single off of Nine Inch Nails's fourth album, With Teeth.  That's sixteen years after their - his? - debut, and six years since the previous album.  The video is almost completely CGI - no, Trent Reznor did not stick his face into a pinscreen repeatedly - and the only non-CGI pieces are the hand belonging to David Fincher, who directed the video, and the fuzzy cars you occasionally see in the background.  

As should be no shock, this has become a live performance favorite, and it hits so much louder and harder live.

25 August 2023

25 August 2023 - The Beatles - We Can Work it Out

So, this is a weird song in how it's constructed.  Let's breat it down.

Paul McCartney took the first stab at it, writing the lyrics - probably about a relationship he was having with British actress Jane Asher at the time.  She been happily married for forty years, so don't ask her.   He then took it to John Lennon, with whom he came up with the middle part ("Life is very short...")

But you might notice a tempo change in the middle.   That's more than a tempo change.  That's a change to 3/4 time - and that was the brainchild of the uncredited George Harrison.  It, by design, sounds like a waltz, in contrast to the pop-rock sound of the rest of the song.  

The song also goes from optimism in the verse and chorus to a slightly less optimistic and more philosophical tone in the middle.  It's quite interesting to listen to the song go thematically and muscally back and forth.  Paul took the lead vocal roles, with John joining with harmonies in the middle. 

"We Can Work It Out" was release in December 1965 as a double A-side single - along with "Day Tripper" - and quickly became a #1 hit,   It's worth noting that Stevie Wonder also had a hit with the song in the early 1970s with the song.  

24 August 2023

24 August 2023 - Charly Bliss - Capacity

"Weezer with Tommy Pickles as a lead singer"

I wrote about Charly Bliss a couple of years ago, and then, I promised to revisit them.  I didn't think it would take me this long - but I got really sick of their earlier stuff, which was very much like Weezer.

This 2019 single by Charly Bliss is possibly their best known song.  Written by the band, the song is sung by lead vocalist Eva Hendricks, and not E.G. Daily.  The lead single from their 2nd album, Young Enough, it's a lot poppier than their earlier work.  

It's an interesting song, about the power of saying no, because, well, you're at capacity.

If you're familiar with their earlier work, you know that Eva Hendricks plays guitar on top of her vocals. As you can see - and pointing to their move from rock to pop - she has moved to keyboard during live performances.  Also, I wish my dining room was this cool.

23 August 2023

23 August 2023 - Echosmith - Lonely Generation

"Echosmith Is Back, and Wants Us to Put Our Phones Down."

That's what the Billboard headline read.  

Of course, ignore the lyrics and this sounds like a chipper pop ditty.  You could be forgiven for hearing this as some bright pop song, like "Cool Kids". Lyrically, though - it's not chipper at all.  It's dark and sad, and really does encourage real connection.

The kicker here is that this song was written and released by Echosmith in 2019.... before the pandemic.  That made the lonely generation even lonlier - and makes this song more poignant. 

By the way, I'm not sure if I've said it before, but Echosmith is a sibling band - originally 4, but now 3.  How they fit all that musical talent in one family is a marvel.

Anyway, here they are performing the song live.

22 August 2023

22 August 2023 - Big Data ft. Joywave - Dangerous

Big Data is Alan Wilkis, a producer.  His music project is an electronic one.  This song is billed to him and billed as featuring Joywave.  

Wilkis co-wrote the song, but so did Daniel Armbruster, who used to be the other half of Big Data and was, at the time, the vocalist for a Rochester, NY band called Joywave, and its his voice and the band's music you hear in this version.  The song is super bass-heavy, which is cool as heck.

You knew I had to drop Rochester in there.  I lived there for 26 years, after all.  

It's kind of blurry who this should be billed to.  What isn't blurry is that this collaboration is both the biggest hit Big Data ever had, but also the biggest hit Joywave ever had.  

The video is violent and depicts the marketing of an athletic shoe that incites violence.  

The lyrics video took a different approach - showing the dangers of, well, big data.  An accompanying app - which seems to not work anymore - would make a video out of your Facebook timeline.  Seriously.

What also is not blurry is that Joywave doesn't perform with Big Data.  They are separate bands, with separate members.  The male vocalist (who's doing a lot of the electronic work as well) is Alan Wilkis. Not gonna lie, I like this version, too.   

21 August 2023

21 August 2023 - Siouxsie & the Banshees - Kiss Them for Me

It took ten albums for Siouxsie & the Banshees to find commercial success in the United States, but they did it in 1991 - with this single.  Yes, it was a more mainstream pop move - some called it a sellout, but they already had a major label deal, so I don't think it was.   

The song took its title from a 1957 Jayne Manfield film - and the song was very much about Mansfield.  It's full of references to her, from the word "divoon" in the 2nd verse (a word Ms. Mansfield was known to use frequently) (notice that Siouxsie is in a heart-shaped swimming pool when she sang that lyric in the video, as that's one of the things the term was in reference to) to the third verse reference to the car crash that killed her (while sparing Mariska Hargitay for a future as Olivia Benson).

I am rarely surprised by my blog.  I knew Siouxie & the Banshees broke up in the 90's and, that was it for them, save for a brief reunion in the early 2000's/   What I did NOT know is that Siouxie Sioux herself is back to performing, after a long hiatus (although she did have a solo career as well), and headlined the Cruel World Festival in Pasadena, CA, this year.

The performance is in a different key than the original, but her stage presence is undeniable.

18 August 2023

18 August 2023 - Roxette - The Look

Something I think you didn't know - Roxette had four number one hits in the United States - which is one more than they had in their home country, Sweden.

This song, from 1988's Look Sharp album, was their first in the US (it did not reach #1 in Sweden - the only song, in fact, to top both the US and Swedish charts by the band was "Joyride", which, despite my prior attempt at humour, was not only a minor hit - ironically both their last US #1 and their first Swedish one). 

Dual vocalist/guitarists Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson played togeher from the mid 1980s until 2019, when Fredriksson passed away from complications from a brain tumor.  Gessle wrote this song as an exercise when he got a new synthesizer and was learning how to operate it.  It's an oddly consructed song, with weird chord progressions that no one reading this blog is going to hear about from me.   

I loved this song from first listen, and yes, I have the 12" single of the song around here somewhere.

As I stated earlier, the band performed together for a long time - until a few years before Marie's death.  This performance is from 2009 - with less epic hair, but just as epic performance.  

The band rerecorded the song in 2015, as part of an advertising campaign - with a new mix and new vocals.  It would be a Swedish Top 40 hit.

It's a different song - far more focused on electronic music and tuned to the slightly reduced vocal ranges of Fredriksson and Gisele.  It wasn't the last thing Fredriksson would record (they released another album in 2016) but it's one of the last, and that makes it somewhat sad.  

Marie toured with Roxette and announced that she could not any longer in 2016.  You can see her still performing her heart out, even sitting down, in 2015, which was one of her last live performances.

Per Gessle briefly reuinted the band in tribute to Marie under the name PG Roxette.  They did a tribute show for her and of course included this song - with him singing some of her part and other background singers picking up the rest.

17 August 2023

17 August 2023 - Björk - Big Time Sensuality

Let's talk about Björk Guðmundsdóttir.  

She's not your typical pop star, and yet, you know who she is..... and not just because she wore a swan dress to the Oscars. 

No joke, this dress has its own Wikipedia page.  Photo credit: Cristiano del Riccio

She got her start at the age of 11, as a children's artist, and then started and joined a bunch of bands in her native Iceland.  Eventually, she joined a supergroup called Sykurmolarnir, which in English translates to The Sugarcubes.  That band released three albums to worldwide acclaim before breaking up... partly because their record label - Smekkleysa, or Bad Taste in English - was taking a lot of time (and still does - the band members still run it today) and mostly because Björk was a hot commodity and in demand for a solo career.

Her adult solo debut, called Debut, was an international smash hit.  This song, which was very much in the style of house music, was a huge club hit and a minor pop hit, her first to hit the US Billboard Hot 100.  Co-written by Björk and producer Nellie Hooper, it is a song not necessarily about sexuality but about bravery.  

Björk was - is - known for her unusual voice and ability to incorporate primal scream into her performance.  Nowhere is that more apparent than in the live performance of this song, which is of course a staple of her performances.

I wanted to share this rare performance with Talvin Singh (he's the guy on the Indian drums 0and a well-knwon virtuoso on them) & Guy Sigsworth. which is a lot more stripped down and quieter.  Björk's childlike raspiness really shines through here. 

The version she did for MTV Unglugged was different still - with more Indian-influenced instuments and less of the synthesizers that were the hallmark of the original.  

16 August 2023

16 August 2023 - Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls

I like to chose songs with an intresting story.  This is one of those songs.

If you are reading this in the United States, this is not the Pet Shop Boys song that hit the top of the charts.  This is the original version of the song, released by the group in 1984, produced by Bobby Orlando.  

If you are reading this in the UK, or were a clubgoer in the mid-1980's, you may recognize Bobby Orlando's attempt at British rap.  

In 1985, the Pet Shop Boys got signed to EMI records and rerecorded this song.  Whereas the original featured Orlando's instruments and samples, this version featured none of that - and was mostly created on synthesizers.  It was also less rap and more Neil Tennant talk-singing.  

This version resonated better, topping both the US and UK charts.  

This version is also a little darker and more haunting - kind of like audio film noir - and an objectively better song.  

It should come as no surprise that this is their best known song and biggest hit, although they've certainly had other hits.

The audience still knew the song a full 25 years after its initial release.

In 2022, the Pet Shop Boys changed the lyrics of the song, from "Finland Station", which is in Russia, to "Kviv Station", in Ukraine - by the way, it was called Kiev in 1984 - in solidarity with Ukraine in light of the invation by Russia.

Also, Neil Tennant has not lost a BEAT off this song or off his voice - after performing it for 40 years!

15 August 2023

15 August 2023 - They Eat Their Own - Like A Drug

As many of you know, I was a college radio DJ.  As such, I had early access to music, some of which was on the fringe of music in the early 1990s.

That includes They Eat Their Own, an LA-based band founded by vocalist Laura B. (Baricevic) in or around 1989, which was together until about 1994.  They didn't have a lot of success, but they had that ONE SONG and that ONE VIDEO.

This is that song.  Released in 1990 or 1991, it got a fair bit of airplay and got the band a major label deal with Geffen Records.... that ended up imploding before anything came of it.  This song, however, is absolutely amazing.

Of course, they wouldn't have gotten their single released at all if they didn't perform live extremely well.  This version, performed live at the LA Music Factory, predates the studio recording, and it's sparser, but still great.  Laura is a terrific frontwoman.

I said "is" for a reason.  You see, after TETO broke up, Laura B. hopped around the country for a bit, settling in Pittsburgh, PA.  She started a band called The Off Labels, and they performed a lot of her old stuff.... like this song.  Have a listen to this performance from 2014. 

14 August 2023

14 August 2023 - Trey Parker ft. Matt Stone - Kyle's Mom's a Bitch (in B flat minor)

This was an outtake from last week, where there was a lot of sugary sweet songs.  Plus Metallica.

We had to combat the saccharine.

So, we did it with South Park.  Season 1, Episode 10.

The song is far from politically correct, and features Eric Cartman (voiced by Trey Parker) repeating an insult about Sheila Broflovski, who happens to be Kyle's mom.

Kyle, voiced by Matt Stone, did not appreciate the song.  

In 1999, the Academy Award nominiated film South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, was released.  An extended, uncensored version of this opus was included with the movie, as it should be.  

By the way, there's almost one "bitch" per second in this version.

Of course, it's more meaningful to see Trey Parket and Matt Stone actually perform this thing of beauty live.  They did just that at the 25th anniversary concert.

Yes.  South Park is old enough to rent a car.

The testimonial to this song is how many people know and love this song.  It's a classic - more so than the theme song.   

It's also incredibly crude.

The orchestral rendition is only a little bit less crude.

11 August 2023

11 August 2023 - CHAII - LIghtswitch

The very first line of her biography on last.fm reads as follows:
Persian-Kiwi rapper CHAII has carved out a corner in the hip hop scene that is fresh, diverse and extremely exciting, drawing from her Iranian heritage as well as the multi-faceted and multi-cultural world of hip hop burgeoning in Australia and New Zealand.
Not wrong.

This video - for the title song of her debut EP - is self-directed, filmed in California (where a lot of her family and, indeed, a large Persian popluation, lives).  You can see the signs in Farsi - in CALIFORNIA. Everything you see and hear is all CHAII's vision - and she is clearly proud of her heritage.

OK, so yeah.  This song is objectively cool as f.

But why this week?

Because this song was featured, along with a lot of other modern Middle Eastern music, on the television series Ms. Marvel. I absolutely can easily make an entire week - a MONTH - out of great music from that one series alone.  It was hard to choose just one.  

I think I chose right.  

10 August 2023

10 August 2023 - Metallica - Master of Puppets

By popular request, I'm posting this song.

In 1986, a band that was growing in popularity (but not getting much airplay) released their third albun, Master of Puppets.  The only single they released from that album was the title song, and it was a goddamn masterpiece.  The song is about their frustration with the music business how drugs can control your life. 

It was also the last album and therefore the band's last single that featured original bassist Cliff Burton, who passed away later in 1986.  This was his favorite song on that album, and its mine as well. The band all co-wrote the song, which features long instrumental breaks, dramatic tempo changes, and even an homage to David Bowie.

Those of you who know television know where I'm going here.

That's right.  James Hetfield's appearance on American Dad, which features this song.


No, no, that's not what you were looking for.

Of course, it was The Simpsons, where the band appears and featured this song and a super diss on the bus driver.


Ohhhh, no.  You meant Billions, the Showtime series.   You know, its seventh season comes tomorrow to Paramount+ (with Showtime).


OK, fine, 

Stranger Things generated TWO Billboard Hot 100 hits last year.  "Running Up That Hill" was a huge hit, but "Master of Puppets" featured prominently in the season finale, and made this song a top 40 hit - with airplay finally coming ON POP RADIO -(although rock radio played them even more) - in the United States, nearly 40 years after its initial release.

According to my sister, Eddie played this song on his guitar in the Upside Down to destract the demobats away from Venca's house, so Steve, Robin and Nancy could sneak in to try and hurt/kill Vecna before he got Max.

This is Eddie.   It's he who played the song.

There's no way in hell I'm posting a picture of Vecna.  I Googled that so you don't have to. 

I understood none of that, so I hope you did.


I just wanted to remind you that this song is 37 years old and the band still performs live, and they ALWAYS, to my knowledge, include this song, which is one of their most popular amonsgt fans (including my sister).

In current concerts, they actually use some of the Stranger Things images on the screen. Which you can see in this video, taken when they played in Western New York in 2022.  August 11, Highmark Staduim (which used to be called Rich Stadium and that's what it will always be to me).  I know this because my sister, Dawn, actually recorded this video.

The song is also featured in my favorite TikTok post... of mine.
@argylederojo This is @McRoblox17 ♬ Master of Puppets - Metallica

09 August 2023

9 August 2023 (Special Edition) - The Band - The Weight

Some songs, you just save for someone to pass away.  This is one of them.   

This song, quite likely the best known song by Canadian-American band The Band, was written by Robbie Robertson, who has passed away.  He was 80 and had been ill for quite some time.

He had a career as a backing musician for Bob Dylan, with the Band, and a solo career.  I personally loved his solo stuff.

Rick Danko and Levon Helm provide vocals on this song, of course, while Robertson plays guitar.  The song is a tale of a traveller passing through a town called Nazareth and finding some kind folks along the way.  I certainly hope he's met with kindness whereever he is now.

When he went solo, Robertson did play his best known song live.  It hit a little differently without The Band - a little more of a slow jam - but it still worked, and was full of just as much emotion and appreciation.

9 August 2023 - Billy Vera and the Beaters - At This Moment

In 1981, Billy Vera, along with his live band The Beaters, released a single called "I Can Take Care of Myself", which ended up being a top 40 hit - Billy Vera's second, but also his first since 1968.  His follow-up song was an over-the-top sad love song called "At This Moment."

It would peak at #79 on the Billboard Charts in 1981 - a minor hit, but nothing spectacular.  


Fast forward to 1985.  During the 1985-1986 season of the popular TV show Family Ties,  the character of Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox, was given a love interest, Ellen Reed, played by Tracy Pollan (who would soon become Fox's wife (she still is)). It was a great on-screen relationship, probably because they had that real-life connection.

Anyway, this song was used by the show as their love theme - and it became a huge, HUGE hit on its second run.   It topped the charts in 1987, and also hit the country charts - such a crossover by a chart-topping pop song wouldn't happen again for another 13 years. 

It would be Vera's last Top 40 hit (to date).

Despite the song hanuting Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan for a few years, they, and all the cast, appreciated the song, and he the show.  In 2011, he performed the song at the TV Land Awards - and yes, the cast of Family Ties were there... and clearly enjoyed it.

I will take any excuse to take a screen grab of Michael Gross and Justine Bateman enjoying a Billy Vera jam (you weren't expecting Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, were you?)

Here is his performance from that night.  You can see all the main cast members from the show's run watching and enjoying. 

08 August 2023

8 August 2023 - Joey Scarbury - Believe It Or Not

Sometimes, it isn't just a random song from an episode that hits just right.

Sometimes, it's the theme song.  

Take this song, from the 1981 series The Greatest American Hero. Starring William Katt and Connie Sellecca, and I guess William Culp, and created by the legendary Stephen Cannell, it would last for three seasons... and the theme song was inspiring.

Joey Scarbury's biggest hit peaked at #2 on the greatest American pop charts in 1981, being kept from the top spot by the juggernaut that was "Endless Love". Steven Geyer wrote the music, with producer Mike Post providing the music.  

Of course, the tune would be repopularized by George Constanza's answering machine on Seinfeld

07 August 2023

7 August 2023 - Lily Kershaw - As It Seems

This week on Wicked Guilty Pleasures, we are going to dedicate our list to "What the hell is that song that I just heard on my favorite TV show?"

Today, we go to the end of Season 7, Episode 24 of Criminal Minds.  This song was played as JJ and Will got married, if you know the show.   If you don't know the show, that's a meaningless reference and this is just a really pretty song.

Lily Kershaw, of course, is a singer-songwriter best known for, well, this song.  Her mom is actress Whitney Kershaw, so she knows show business.  This song is from her 2013 debut album, Midnight in the Garden.  The episode this song was featured on, however, was from 2012 - and it, along with another appearance in a season 8 episode by another of her songs - led directly to her record deal.  

Anyway, it's an awfully pretty song and I hope you enjoy it.

Yes, she performs it live, and she performs it beautifully.

And, for those interested in the song in the context of the show.....


04 August 2023

4 August 2023 - J. Geils Band - Centerfold

Seth Justman wrote and produced this song.  Not coincidentally for this keyboard-heavy song, Seth Justman was also the keyboard player for the J. Geils Band.  

He was not J. Geils, though.   

Neither was Peter Wolf, although a lot of casual fans of this song, the band's biggest hit (six weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982) sure thought he was.  He was the vocalist and most prominent publc face of the band.

No, no.  J. Geils was the guitarist for the band.  And their leader, I suppose.

This is Jay.  John Warren Geils, Jr.

 A little strangely, the video takes place in a high school classroom full of young women who end up being relatively scantily clad.  It makes sense to the plot of the song - the narrator has discovered his high school crush has appeared as a centerfold in an unspecified men's magazine that we can only assume is Playboy.  He's both titilated and, well, confused, I guess is the right word.  

I don't have any explanation for the milky drum, though.

The band did have some hiatuses - hiati? - but remained mostly intact until 2013, when J. Geils passed away.  They did tour through 2015 at least - as shown in this live performance from that year.

Contrast that with this performance from 2009, with J. Geils still on guitar.  I think it's a better performance, frankly.

03 August 2023

3 August 2023 - Lyle Lovett - Church

Perhaps my favorite album title of all time is Lyle Lovett's 1992 album, Joshua Judges Ruth. For those Chritians out there, they are the 3 books immediately following the Torah (the first five books) in the Old Testament.

That is a pretty cool way to title your album. 

The former Mr. Julia Roberts has carved out a nice alternative country career that has recieved a lot of critical acclaim, and with good reason - he writes and performs good, unique country music.  Take this song, from the aforementioned album.  It would not be out of place at a Southern revival, or on country music radio.  It's a spirited song.

The beauty of Lovett's music is when it is performed live.  You can see just how much of this song is powered not by musical accompaniment - which is sparse but ever-present - but by the power of his voice and of his backing vocalists.  This song really and truly takes on a spiritual feeling - and you actually hear the lyrics.  It's really not a terribly spiritual song.  

02 August 2023

2 August 2023 - Madonna - Music

If I ever go back to adding artists to our Hall of Fame, I have a list of potential inductees.  

Madonna tops that list.  She's a prolific performer, who has had a very long career - spanning about 40 years, during which time she's frequently released albums and performed live.

What a lot of people DON'T know is that she also has written a lot of her music.  Take this song, a single she co-wrote and co-produced with Mirwais.  She's also all the voices in this song - she's the one asking if you like to boogie woogie throughout.

More than fifteen years into her career, this song was yet another #1 song for Madonna, in 2000 - and remains one of her largest worldwide hits.

The video features a pre-Borat Sacha Baron Cohen, who was largely unknown to the US audience at that time, in full Da Ali G Show character.  Amazingly, Madonna was pregnant during the filming of this video.  

The real reason we're posting this?  In a live version, Madonna interlaced this song with "Disco Inferno".  It's way more incredible than it deserves to be.

In 2012, Madonna did the Super Bowl halftime show, which was epic and full of guest stars.  Here, she merged "Music' with LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It".  Also, at the :31 second mark, she almost falls.

01 August 2023

1 August 2023 - Kacey Musgraves - Blowin' Smoke

I'm haivng a little trouble believing that Same Trailer, Different Park, the debut album by Kacey Musgraves, is ten years old this year.  

This was one of the singles off that album.  It was a relatively big country radio hit and even bubbled under the Hot 100, which means it got a lot of POP radio airplay - in a era when such a crossover was uncommon

The song is a clever play on words - the "Blowin' Smoke" is both a reference to the protagonist of the song smoking and also to the phrase "blowing smoke up one's ass", or in other words, talking trash and generally doing a lot of talking - her words.  And, there's a lot of blowin' smoke in this song - mostly about her co-workers, one of whom just left for Vegas (so there's a little jealousy going on here). It's clever and witty - and a little dark.

It's refreshing to hear a live version of a song sound a lot like the studio version.  The song is just as quietly cool unproduced than it is on vinyl.   Also, that tambourine playing by Kacey is epic.

But what about when the stage and crowd get a lot bigger, like at Farm Aid 30, in 2015?  By this time, her 2nd album, which had a more traditional country feeling, had been released, and so her band was tuned for that.  It sounds less pop and more country - but it's still the same old song about blowin' smoke.

31 July 2023

31 July 2023 - Loretta Lynn - One's On The Way

This was originally written for last week, but you know what they say about plans - man plans and God laughs.  I still wanted to share this post with you, and it it a fitting end to a busy July. 

I grew up in the 1970s, the son of van owners.  We had an eight track and later a cassette deck in the van.

My parents were also Columbia House Record Club members, so, well, they had a lot of 8-tracks and later cassettes.

My mother was a huge fan of Loretta Lynn, so I heard a LOT of Loretta Lynn music.  One I remember hearing is perhaps one that could have been considered my mother's theme song (although I hope not completely).  A song earnestly performed by Lynn, it was about a woman who married too early and kept getting pregnant, while envying those who were marching for women's lib.

Loretta Lynn, like my mother, was a feminist.  No doubt.  In 1971, this was controversial.  Loretta Lynn was frequently a controversial figure.  So was my mother, in some ways.  

The best part of this song - which was a huge country hit, reaching the top of the charts in 1971 - is the songwriter.

Shel Silverstein.

The Where The Sidewalk Ends guy.  

Shel Silverstein.

This performance is from the Grand Ole Opry in 1972.

Famously, she also performed the song in 1978 on The Muppet Show..... with a lot of small Muppets. 

28 July 2023

28 July 2023 - Elvis Presley - In The Ghetto

My parents were country music fans and we listened to it in our family van all the time.

One of the cassettes my parents had was a Mac Davis compilation.  Included on this was a song called "In The Ghetto", a very sad song about a child who grows up poor and completes a vicious circle of violence and poverty.  

It would be many years before I learned that was an Elvis Presley song.

It would be a few years after that before I learned that Mac Davis actually wrote the song and was covering a song HE wrote - a year after Elvis turned it into a hit song.

This was Elvis's first release after his 1968 comeback special - and it ended up being a worldwide hit.  It remans to this day one of my favorite Elvis Presley songs (don't tell my parents).  

27 July 2023

27 July 2023 - Sinead O'Connor - Take Me To Church

I felt this was a good bookend to yesterday's post - because it came from the other end of Sinead O'Connor's career.  This song was the big single from her 2014 album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, which would be her last.  

I actually found this song hoping to post a cover of hers that wasn't a Prince song over on Totally Covered.  I thought this was the Hozier song.   

It is not the Hozier song.   Sinead O'Connor wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music for this one.  

The video, directed by James Lees, is particularly striking for me.  It superimposes images of Sinead O'Connor from her "Nothing Compares 2 U" video over her in the present day - with hair (that she removes at approximately 2:00 in the video - it's a wig).  

I encourage you, however, to pay attention to the lyrics.  It's raw and honest performance by O'Connor.  

26 July 2023

26 July 2023 (Special Edition) - Sinead O'Connor - Mandinka

I really REALLY REALLY dislike having to do special edition posts.  

For those new to the blog, I do these when a musician passes away, so, you can probably figure out what's going on here.

This song was Sinead O'Connor's third single, and her first in heavy MTV rotation, from her debut album, The Lion and The Cobra, which is fantastic.  It's a straightahead rock song, and it led to her becoming an international superstar and being in the position to tear the pope's photo in half on Saturday Night Live

"Fight the real enemy." - Sinead O'Connor

I was supposed to see Sinead O'Connor live in 1995, as part of the Lollapalooza tour.  She departed about a week before I was scheduled to attend.  I'm sorry that I never got to see her live, Her eccentricity and raw spirit are going to be missed in the music world. 

26 July 2023 - Nanci Griffith - It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go

The late Nanci Griffith was quite possibly the greatest songwriter of her generation.  She released so many critical acclaimed albums throughout her long career.

At the time of its release in 1989, Storms was not one of those albums.  It was a huge departure for her stylistically - from country-folk to a more pop-folk sound, including this song, which ended up being one of the biggest personally recorded hits she had in her career (Bette Midler had a much bigger hit with one of her songs, and frankly, so did Kathy Mattea).  Critics did not like her change in style, which didn't stick, but also, these were still great songs that told great stories.  

And this song tells a fantastic story, and it does so beautifully.

And the lyrics are so poignant, even today, more than thirty years on.  Few songs give me actual chills - but this one does.  

"This will always be my, uh, my personal best favorite" - Nanci Griffith

"If we poison our children with hatred
Then, the hard life is all that they'll know" - Nanci Griffith

25 July 2023

25 July 2023 - The Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice

Remember when the (Dixie) Chicks got in a fight with George W. Bush over the Iraq War.

1) They were right (and I'm pretty sure he'd agree now).
2) This better-than-it-should-be song, which was extremely controversial at the time of its release, ended up being one of their biggest hits.

This song hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006 and REENTERED in the top 10 in 2007, after the song won three Grammys, including Song and Record of the Year (the two biggest awards).  Co-writen by the Chicks (they changed the band name in 2020 to avoid association with the Dixie Swastika) and Dan Wilson (the lead vocalist of Semisonic), it is an angry song.  Anger does, however, bring about good music.  

It was an extremely controversial song.  Controversial songs can be good songs, though, and in this case, it is.

I considered including their Grammy performance, which was excellent, but their performance on the TV show VH1 Storytellers was even better and more sublime.