30 June 2023

30 June 2023 - Madonna - Like A Prayer

This song started life like most others.

As a Pepsi commercial.

No, seriously.

Madonna wanted to use the commercial to launch her song, before its release to MTV and radio as a single.  She had somewhat stepped back from music for a couple of years, but in 1989, she was ready to make a splash. 

The commercial was a hit.

The next day, she released this video to MTV.

Because of the controversial use of religous imagery, an immediate boycott of Pepsi, including their brands like KFC and Taco Bell, was called by Christian groups.  Pepsi resonded by dropping Madonna.

MTV responded by playing the video even more.  

The song is widely regarded as one of Madonna's best, and its chart performance supports that - it was a #1 song in the US for three weeks and a huge hit worldwide.  

As huge a hit as it was, the song itself was also huge, and never is that more apparent than when performed live - like this performance in Miami.  The song employs the use of a choir, and having that choir in the room, live, just adds to the depth and majesty of the song.

(Update: 13 September 2023) Pepsi has now reversed course and do recognize the genius of the commercial - with an updated commercial.

29 June 2023

29 June 2023 - The Cranberries - Zombie

On the 20th of March in 1993, the second of two bomb attacks happened in Warrington, Cheshire, England.  The Irish Republican Army, a group who was trying to pressure the UK into pulling out of Northern Ireland, claimed responsibilty for the attack, which killed Johnathan Ball, aged 3, and Tim Parry, aged 12.

Why am I opening this post like this?   

Because "Zombie" was written in response to that attack,   

You see, Irish band The Cranberries were on a tour bus near the explosion. so it really hit home for Dolores O'Riordan.  She wrote this song very quickly and the band immediately started performing it live, also adding it to their second album.  In fact, here they are, performing the song in January 1994, a full nine months before the song was on any album.

While all this was going on, the band's first album was blowing up (figuratively) and they were becoming the band of the moment, with videos in heavy rotation on MTV and hits on the pop charts - so their second album was hotly anticipated.  When it was released, it became a smash hit, topping charts worldwide and bringing the band's second album, No Need To Argue, with it.

The song, a grungy departure from the band's style, was loaded with political overtones that were largely lost on the US audience.  They were NOT lost on the UK audience, and the band was heavily criticized by some for them in the press.  Who did NOT criticize the band were the families of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, who thanked the band for their song and for its magesty and real lyrics.  

The Cranberries are no more, ending with the 2018 death of Dolores O'Riordan, but she didn't lose a bit of passion right up until the moment she died (which was during a recording session).  Here's the band in 2016, more than 20 years after the song was written, performing the song with equal passion as the day it was first performed.

28 June 2023

28 June 2023 - Metallica - Nothing Else Matters

This is a week of a lot of firsts for us.  Here's another: our first Metallica post.

We chose a well-known and relatively not-metal song for this first post, for reasons.  But it's a song with a story.

Written by James Hetfield (who also gave Lars Ulrich a credit for insisting upon bringing it to the band), it wasn't intended to be for Metallica - and in fact, Hetfield was hesitant to bring it forward, as it's a love song (about his girlfriend at the time).  On the recording, Hetfield gave lead guitarist Kirk Hammett a break and took the guitaring duties himself (of course, by the time they hit the tour, Hammett had to learn the song). 

The song ended up being released as the 3rd single from Metallica's eponymous fifth album that featured a very black cover.  It was a huge hit for the band, nearly making the US Top 10 (unheard of for such a heavy band).

The song was rerecorded by the band in 1999 with an orchestral accompanyment by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.  This version ended up being a European Top 10 hit.  This version, in my opinion, does a better job at building - but there were 100 more instruments used in this version, so I guess that's a reason why.  

As part of a celebration of the 30th anniversary of what was commonly called The Black Album, Metallica recorded this song with Miley Cyrus, who had famously covered it, on Howard Stern's show.  

It was incredible.

We like to highlight when bands are still performing their songs - and thanks to YouTube, we have a video from literally this month of the band performing it in Göteborg, Sweden - and not missing a beat.

27 June 2023

27 June 2023 - Ashley O - On a Roll

I know some of you are seeing the title of this post and having one and only one reaction:  We know.  There's plenty of precedent here, though. 

Ashley O was the biggest star on the planet - a huge pop star that people could not get enough of, including Rachel, her biggest fan (although Rachel's sister, Jack, wasn't really on board), so much so that there was a toy marketed that mimic's Ashley's personality. Ashley's success was orchestated by her controling aunt, who didn't pay attention to Ashley's desire to perform in a different style. Tragically, Ashley fell into a coma and her fans worldwide mourned her.  

If this sounds like an episode of Black Mirror, that's because it is.  And when I first heard "On A Roll" in the episode titled "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too", I sat right up and said "That is "Head Like A Hole"' without hesitation.  

Three things immediately came to mind.

1) It was way better than I expected it to be.  Miley Cyrus, who played Ashley O in the episode, also recorded singles as the character, which she had never ever done before,  She freaking nailed it.  And, since the song was a worldwide hit, it's clear that I'm not the only one who thought so.  Were the lyrics ridiculous? I mean, the song is full of ambition and verve, but they read like a motivational poster.  It's still a bop.

2) There's no way Trent Reznor was OK with this.  I was wrong about that.  Not only was he on board with the lyrical and stylistic rewrite of arguably his best song - by Black Mirror creator and showrunner Charlie Booker and Cyrus - he released Black Mirror-themed merchandise for sale himself.  

3) Son of a bitch, this is gonna be our third Miley post this year.  

Ashley O made an appearance at the 2019 Glastonbury music festival - complete with glitter and A hat.  Not gonna like - we're here for this.  It's really a solid performance of what was supposed to be a vapid song.

26 June 2023

26 June 2023 - Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole

This far in, and this is the first NIN we post.  Wow.  Looks like we have a long way to go here.  

(We have posts scheduled into 2026 (so far), so I wouldn't sweat us leaving anytime soon).

This song was the 2nd single from the Nine Inch Nails (which, let's face it, is Trent Reznor) debut album, Pretty Hate Machine.  It was industrial, it was metal, and yet it was unlike anything else released in 1989.  Radio didn't QUITE know what to do with so much angry, accessible energy, but it was still a US and UK alternative hit.  

Its popularity has grown over the years, of course - it is their most covered song, and it's beloved by Rachels, Jacks and Ashleys everywhere.  

This song remains popular today, and is usually the closing song at live shows.  This is the performance from the Woodstock '94 festival, and it is a doozy.  Yes, there is a full band - Trent cannot do everything live.  All he can do is embody the angry, muddy angst of the crowd,

23 June 2023

23 June 2023 - Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Pump It Up

I mean, after we posted what we did yesterday, you had to know we'd post this well-known song by Elvis Costello & The Attractions today.  A great man once said that he was OK with it and that's how rock and roll works.
This song was released in 1978, so more than 2 Olivia Rodrigos ago, but is still really well-known today.  There's a good reason for that - it's a great song.  Costello's hashtags are in reference to two songs HE himself used to influence this song.  

Costello, of course, still performs this song live.   Here he is, teamed up on an unusual live performance with Juanes, giving this timeless song a biligual refresh.

22 June 2023

22 June 2023 - Olivia Rodrigo - brutal

Wow, did Olivia Rodrigo have a couple of great years, and to her, we say "good for you!"  Her debut album, Sour, won a Grammy (Best Pop Vocal Album) and, somehow for an American artist, a Juno (there's an award for International Album of the Year given yearly).

This song, the fifth and final single from the album, is not a pop song at all.  It's more grnuge than pop, and actually got a lot of rock and alternative radio airplay.  Because it is an Olivia Rodrigo song, it was STILL a top 20 pop hit, peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Written by Rodrigo and producer Dan Nigro, the song is simply dripping with teen angst (almost as if she was in some sort of misery business) and frustration.  The guitar riff sounds like something straight out of an Elvis Costello song - specifically, "Pump It Up" - but don't worry.  He doesn't care (and is on record saying that).  At any rate, the song is not what one would expect out of a 17-year-old songwriter, who is mature beyond her years and is destined for a long and acclaimed career (we hope).

The video is a Gen Z surreal masterpiece.  Just.... watch.


 In 2022, Rodrigo recorded a documentary, recorded on a road trip from Salt Lake City, called Olivia Rodrigo: Driving Home 2 U, for Disney+. As part of this, she recorded new versions of several songs with her live band, including this one.  We think this performance is a true masterpiece, and shows better than the video the raw angst that the song is trying to capture. 

We probably should have ended the post there, but instead, here's a 2021 performance of the song showing Rodrigo showing the exact opposite of angst - she clearly enjoys performing this song.

21 June 2023

21 June 2023 - Tini ft. La Joaqui & Steve Aoki - Muñecas

Martina Stoessel was an Argentine child star who got her start on a show called Patito Feo, which translates to "ugly duckling".

At some point, she moved from TV to music.  She was an instant hit in Argentina and the Spanish-speaking world.  

With her fourth album, Cupido, released in 2023, Tini, as she is known professionally, has hit an international audience. This was the NINTH single from the album..... which was released a month after the single.  No, I'm not kidding.   

Tini teamed with La Joaqui on the song, which is a women's empowerment anthem specifically tied to the dance floor, which is appropriate, because Steve Aoki's beats make this an absolute banger.  The song was a hit in the Spanish-speaking world but also on Hulu, where ads for the song were EVERYWHERE.

20 June 2023

20 June 2023 - Heavenly - Touching Everything

I stumbled across this album by Heavenly, called Tragic Tiger's Sad Meltdown, which is really just a few songs and a lot of sonic experimentation.  This song itself is part of an 11 minute long track that includes a recording of the ocean, which is absolutely amazing.  I've supported Heavenly on Bandcamp, and you can as well

The whole album, including this song, is luscious and minimalish ambient folk music with a hint of spoken word.  

But who is Heavenly?

Looking at the credits on the track (courtesy of Spotify) gives us some clues.

Heavenly is Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily Hutchence-Geldof, the daughter of the late Michael Hutchence of WGP Hall of Fame inductee INXS and British television personality Paula Yates.  Her father passed away when she was 1, and her mother when she was 4. At that time, the father of Paula Yates's three elder children, Bob Geldof, took foster and eventually adoptive custody of Heavenly - hence the hyphenate.  

Given the deaths of her parents (as well as her half sister Peaches), that makes that album title hit a little harder (I presume she's the titular tragic Tiger).  

Anyway, she's made some beautiful music and we hope to hear more. 

19 June 2023

19 June 2023 - Throwing Muses - Fish

This may very well be one of the strangest songs we've ever posted on here.

In 1987, influential British label 4AD Records released a compilation album containing a bunch of songs their artists had recorded.   That alsum was called Lonely Is An Eyesore, and it is a classic.  The vision of label head Ivo Watts-Russell, it was intended to introduce the small label to the masses, and included a videocassette version of the album, with a music video to accompany each song.  Put a pin in that, because it's important later.

4AD had featured mostly British and European artists (before you go there, yes, Dead Can Dance was Australian) but had not signed an American band until soon before this compilation was released.  In 1986, they signed a four-piece minimalist pop-rock band from Newport, Rhode Island and broke that streak.  

Let's rewind now, to 1985.   Throwing Muses had released a cassette called The Doghouse Cassette, with a lot of their early songs, many of which the band ended up rerecording for a number of albums for years to come.  One of the songs on this album was called "Fish", and it was a surreal masterpiece.   As the story goes, it quickly became Ivo Watts-Russell's favorite song, and he couldn't get enough of the song.... so much so, that he made a lyric from the song the title of his prized cornerstone of a compilation album.

So, for its inclusion on Lonely Is An Eyesore, a video for this song was recorded in a loft in Boston and also at the New England Aquarium (that's where the fish came from).  It shows the song and band in all its glory: David Narcizo with his military drumming (note the lack of cymbals), Leslie Langston's heavier-than-expected bassline, Tanya Donelly's ringing guitar and perfect harmonies that almost don't sound like harmonies.....

I can't just put Kristin Hersh in a list.  Hersh's haunting vocals weave through the verses paint a vivid picture of vulnerability and introspection. The lyrics are poetic and enigmatic, to say the least.  Her (and Donelly's) guitar to open the song and throughout are both delicate and relentless, and are a lot more complex than they sound. The most noteworthy thing about this completely surreal song is that she wrote the whole thing. It all started off with a hand-made Jesus on a crucifix on the wall of an apartment Hersh crashed in.  Apparently, ir looked like a fish to her.

That speaks directly to her unparallel songwriting genius. Who else could turn I remember this quote someone once wrote about her.
"Kristin wrote the song...  She is one of the most overlooked songwriters of her generation (which also happens to be my generation)". - Me, 4 March 2012
Is it hard to pick a favorite song by my favorite band? Absolutely it is.  This song floats to the top - for all the reasons I've mentioned and so much more.   It is a song that encapsulates the band - the minimalist yet technically tricky style, the surreal lyrics open to broad intrepretation, the award-winning video.  

As I've said before, Throwing Muses were the first band I saw live, in 1989, and this song was absolutely on their setlist.  I saw them in Hartford, indoors, in September, and not at a summer outdoor music festival in Glastonbury, but the song and performance were the same.  

16 June 2023

16 June 2023 - Tribe - Here At The Home

This is our 1,400th post, and for that, I wanted to share a story with y'all.  

I was a DJ at WSBU, the Saint Bonaventure University college radio station, from 1990 until 1993.  

Now, we were a classic rock formatted station - not the so-called "alternative" or "college music" format you saw at most university radio stations of that time period.  The classic rock format was underrepresented in the rural Southern Tier of New York state - we literally had a country station on the university's front lawn - and so that decision was made.  However, as a concession to all us punks, the late night hours - 11PM until 7AM - were dedicated to that fringe music that wasn't so popular on rock radio in the early 90's.   

We used to get all the best fringe music from all the record labels, including all the Warner Bros. imprints.  I already talked about the greatest thing we ever got from Elektra Records (apologies to Jonathan Falls, who was kind enough to hand me our station's copy of  the "Counting Backwards" single by Throwing Muses (who were signed to Sire Records, which was also a Warner imprint) so I could debut it on my show (and lent me his copy of Lonely Is An Eyesore which I'm going to have to write about someday soon)).  

As I came back to school for my second year, in the fall of 1991, the album Abort by a band from Boston called Tribe that I had never heard of showed up at the station.  I don't know that I was the first to play this album, but when I did, I played the very first track, which was not the single, but rather a song called "Here At The Home."  This was a band with harmonzied vocals that still managed to rock really hard.  

I was blown away, needless to say, and played that song a lot for the next couple of years.   And, well, we're still talking about it now, so I guess I'm still playing it.  

What I didn't know then was that this was their 2nd album - mostly made up of songs from their self-produced first album.  The title of that album?  Here At The Home.  

Here they are at Boston College performing the song in 1993.

15 June 2023

15 June 2023 - Everclear - I Will Buy You A New Life

You probably know Everclear's biggest hit.

Anyone who answered anything besides "Santa Monica" can sit down.  It legitimately was.

You've probably heard their 2nd biggest hit, and might be surprised to know that that song - this song - was really not that far behind "Santa Monica" in airplay - Santa Monica popped into the top 30 on pop radio, whereas this song bubbled just under - and actually did BETTER on alternative music charts.  

The song was written by the band and co-producted by Neal Avron (this was something of a breakthrough for him) and lead vocalist Art Alexakis, whose last name I had to literally look at three times to make sure I spelled it correctly (I did).  Alexakis was the primary lyricist here, and he wrote this as a romantic song - which it is. Released in 1997, it became a fan favorite in a hurry.  

Because it's a great song.  

The West Hills he is referencing in this song are the Southwest Hills neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, which happens to be in the Tualatin Mountains, also known as the West Hills.  We hear it's a really nice neighborhood.  

Everclear is a band that is still touring and still making music.  This video is from a show in Harrisburg, PA, recorded in March 2023.  Two things of note:

1) Art makes it very clear this song is about love, and it is.  It absolutely is.
2) Art was disagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016 - that's a disease that statistically hits women more but hits men much harder.  It likely took a lot of energy to perform, and he did so without compromise, which I greatly respect.  

More impressively, they performed the song twice that day.  Here's an acoustic performance of the same song during a meet and greet on the SAME DAY.   I've always loved acoustic versions of this song, because I think its strength is in the raw and loving emotion of its lyrics, and they shine more here.  

14 June 2023

14 June 2023 - Andy Gibb - I Just Want To Be Your Everything

This post has been sitting in draft for over three years.  It was by far our oldest draft.

The song, however, is too good to stay in draft forever. 

Andy Gibb, the younger brother of the Bee Gees, passed away in 1988 at the age of 30.   He was 19 when this was released and 18 when he recorded it.  Written and co-produced by his brother Barry, the song features Joe Walsh of the Eagles on guitar and a clear Barry background vocal.  The song was Grammy-nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male (which it lost to a James Taylor song).

Andy Gibb himself recieved a Best New Artist nomination in 1978 on the strength of this song - another award he lost, this to Debby Boone (which we get. "You Light Up My Life" was the biggest theft of a hit song of all time and NO, Kasey Cisyk was NOT nominated, and that's not really Boone's fault, which we already said here.). The song spent 16 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 - a record at the time - and four non-contiguous weeks on top of the charts.  He was also a frequent subject of the covers and centerfolds of the teen magazines of the time, like Tiger Beat.  He was the Johnathan Taylor Thomas or whoever the kids like nowadays of his time.  

Unfortunately, with his fame came the temptations of drug use - which he defeated, but not before they damaged his heart.  He passed away of natural causes in 1988, while attempting a comeback, and his huge voice, which impressed most who heard it, is missed.   

13 June 2023

13 June 2023 - Kris Kross - Warm It Up

It's been said it is nearly impossible to follow up a gigantic hit debut single with anything nearly as successful.

Kris Kross had a monstrous debut single with "Jump" and faced the nearly impossible.  They followed it up with a top 20 worldwide hit that got a ton of airplay and sold more than a half million copies. They did it not simply by wearing their pants backwards, but by dropping dope rhymes written by Jermaine Dupri, who also produced their track.  

The Daddy Mac and the late Mac Daddy had skills.  They were better at dropping rhymes than people twice their ages (they were 12 when they recorded this).  They brought pride to Atlanta, and their music, even their second single, endures to this day.

They were 12 when they recorded this, but they didn't stay 12, and their voices changed, and, as can be seen by this video, they didn't change at the same times.  One Chris had his deeper voice already here - but the other didn't really.  

That did not impact their mad skillz.

12 June 2023

12 June 2023 - Jax - Victoria’s Secret

On June 12, 1977, Victoria's Secret was founded by Roy Raymond and his wife, Gaye, in Delaware.  The first store was opened in Palo Alto, California.  The Victoria in the name is a reference to Queen Victoria (because her undergarments would be classy, right?).

In 1982, the Raymonds sold Victoria's Secret to Leslie Wexner, founder of both Bath & Body Works and clothing company The Limited.  

Leslie Wexner is a dude.  

From Ohio.  

Who, by the way, was a friend and associate of Jeffrey Epstein (who didn't kill himself) and the subject of an not-so-complimentary documentary on Hulu, Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons.

Victoria's Secret is one of the few retail chains that has been the subject of scolarly research, but they probably wish they weren't.  For example, in a 2008 article sponsored by the University of Waterloo and authored by Erin J. Strahan, Adèle Lafrance, Anne E. Wilson, Nicole Ethier, Steven J. Spencer, and Mark P. Zanna, they state, ""Women's body dissatisfaction is influenced by socio-cultural norms for ideal appearance that are pervasive in society and particularly directed at women." Their study was quite interesting.  Participants were randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition. In the control condition, participants viewed four neutral commercials containing no people. In the experimental condition, participants viewed the same four neutral advertisements intermixed with two additional commercials conveying sociocultural norms. One commercial featured supermodels wearing Victoria’s Secret bras, and the other featured a very thin, attractive woman promoting Dove soap.  Their clear conclusion, based on their study, was that "[e]xposure to societal messages that reflect the socio-cultural norm for ideal appearance has a negative effect on women."

The article was titled "Victoria's Dirty Secret: How Sociocultural Norms Influence Adolescent Girls and Women" and yes.  I read it.  You can, too.  

So, fast forward to 2022.  3rd Place finisher on American Idol Jaclyn Miskanic, known professionally as Jax, co-wrote a song that was rather critical of body image projection by companies like Victoria's Secret. She made a lot of solid points about Victoria's Secret - Roy Raymond wasn't from Ohio, but a lot of their modern marketing sure was made up by a dude from Ohio - and it was Les Wexner who was Jax's clear target.  

Her larger target, of course, was the culture, not a brand.  It resonated, becoming a top 40 US hit in the summer of 2022, and also charting worldwide.  That is no surprise - the song is catchy and witty.  

Flash mobs featuring the song popped up in front of Victoria's Secret stores everywhere.  This one, led by Jax herself, may be my favorite. 

Of course, Victoria's Secret has tried to do damage control caused by the song, praising Jax for raising these issues, and has distanced themselves as far from Les Wexner as possible, but the damage is done.  And by damage, I mean their sales are up since this song came out.  That's true.  They dipped slighty year over year in the 4th quarter of 2022, but, really, this song was a net positive for them. 

09 June 2023

9 June 2023 - Lionel Richie & Diana Ross (& Shania Twain) - Endless Love

What is the greatest song duet of all time?

Well, that something that I would call "subjective" but Billboard Magazine has other ideas.   In 2011, they named today's song, "Endless Love", a song written for a movie of the same name starring Brooke Shields, as the greatest duet ever recorded.  

They've got a pretty solid case.  Penned by Lionel Richie, it ended up being the biggest hit of his career.  It was also the biggest hit of Diana Ross's career, and it wasn't close in either case.   In a time before SoundScan, this song spent nine weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and surpassed "Wake Up, Little Susie" by the Everly Brothers as the biggest hit by a duet in the rock era i.e. post-1955, spending six MONTHS on the charts. 

It was even a bigger hit than the movie, which was a modest but not blockbuster hit. The song was a blockbuster.   It was nominated for the 1981 Oscar, losing to "Arthur's Theme" - but it was nominated from a movie that was nominated for six Golden Raspberries (none for the music), which is kind of like the opposite of the Oscars.  Richie was also part of a nomination for the 1982 Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media - losing to the team from Raiders of the Lost Ark, which, admittedly, deserved it even though it didn't have a love theme.  

The song is a monster, a ballad of epic proportions, a love song sung from both sides.  At the time, it was the most successful soundtrack single ever (The Bodyguard put that to rest).  There aren't enough superlatives for this song, which is a powerful duet showcasing two huge voices.

It is, of course, Lionel's song, and he has rerecorded it a couple of times.  Most notably, he recorded it in 2011 with country music superstar and noteworthy Canadian Shania Twain - and ended up turning it into an adult contemporary hit.   

08 June 2023

8 June 2023 - The Naked And Famous - Young Blood

I'm not going to be able to do this blog forever.  Let's all be honest.  I'm nowhere near done, but sometime, I have to slow down.

I wanted to make sure I didn't forget this song before I did that.  This song was released soon before this blog started, and got a free US distribution in 2011 on iTunes, soon after we started.  I am embarrased to say I didn't know the song or artist name.

One day, a few weeks ago, I got this song stuck in my head.  So it became my goal - my mission - to figure out what this song was called and post about it.   Clearly, I was successful.

"Young Blood' was a big hit for The Naked and Famous, a 2-piece electronic band from New Zealand that relocated to Los Angeles after the success of this song and its follow-up single.   Their success hasn't been as stratospheric as this song, but it hasn't been non-existent, either.  

07 June 2023

7 June 2023 - The Black Keys - Everlasting Light

This is the story of an RIAA Gold-certified song with a long shelf life.

In 2010, Ohio duo The Black Keys released an album called Brothers.  It had the best cover artwork.

I wonder who made this album or what it's called.

That album also won a Grammy.  So did this album packaging.  That's a true story.  

They released three singles off that album.  The first was a minor hit, making it to the Billboard Hot 100 and achieving Gold status - a notation celebrating 500,000 sales of the single by the Recording Industry Association of America (the aforementioned RIAA) in late 2011.   

That song was, of course, called "Tighten Up" - itself a Grammy-winning song - and was not this song. In fact, none of the three singles was this song.  
This song was the leading track on the Brothers album but not released to radio as a single.  And, in 2010 and 2011, since singles (mostly digital at this point) got radio airplay, and that was what determined song longevity, as well as chart performance, that was that.   

Two years later, that was different.  Billboard put less weight on single sales - no longer making a physical single a requirement - and more on streaming, with YouTube streams and others including the song being included in the charts. This means that songs could hang around longer, and different songs could get attention.

In late 2014, Electronic Arts released their yearly version of their NBA video game.  This game was NBA2K15 and it was a hit.  

I figured at this point, you'd want to see the Dunk of the Year from that game.

Yes, this song featured prominently on that soundtrack, and videos from that game got shared to YouTube, which means this song got listens, which translated to listens on services like Spotify and iTunes, which led to sales of the single.

In 2019, "Everlasting Light" was finally certified gold (a year after "Tighten Up" was certified platinum) and remains a fan favorite song.  

Let's talk about this song.   It's a bluesy three-chord masterpiece, with a lot of fuzzy guitar.  But what is the song about?  Some people think it's a love song, and I can see that intepretation.   I see it differently.  I point you to Isaiah 60:19
The sun will no more be your light by day,
    nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.

The song is about God.  In fact, many of the songs on Brothers were clearly about the band's faith.  

However you see the song and its meaning, it's an absolute masterpiece.  

06 June 2023

6 June 2023 - Demi Lovato - Heart Attack & Cool For The Summer (Rock Versions)

In 2013, Demi Lovato would release what would be a top 10 single - "Heart Attack".  Scott WROTE about this song in 2013.  

In 2015, Demi Lovato would release what would be a top 11 single - "Cool For The Summer".  I WROTE about this song in 2015.

I have to say, in the spirit of Wicked Guilty Pleasures, I love both of these songs.  We could have just as easily based this blog over our mutual appreciation of Demi Lovato as we could have over Ashlee Simpson.

Fast forward to 2022. In anticipation of changing styles, Demi held a funeral for her pop career.

That does not mean that she forgets all her old music, though.  In celebration of the 10th anniversary of one of her biggest hits - "Heart Attack" - Demi rerecorded and rereleased it, in her new style.

I have to say, it works.  Clearly, you can hear the song's old style, but also, you can hear a new reading of the lyrics, sung by someone who, in 2023, has a lot more life experience.  In 2013, she was 20, a kid with a Disney career and not much life experience.  Now, she's 30, and she's had some struggles - in love, with drugs (she famously overdosed in 2018 and I'm quite thankful she pulled through), and in life.  She's singing from a different point of view now.  She, quite literally, has HAD a heart attack.  And it is, in many ways, a better song for it.

So, why rerecord ANOTHER song on its not-as-momentous 8th anniversary?

The rock version of "Cool For The Summer" was released on May 25, 2023 - just in time for Memorial Day and the summer season.  Having already expressed a desire to rerecord this song in a rock format for her last album, Holy Fvck, she finally did it - and as a song that pop-rocked in its original version, I didn't have high expectations that this would be better.  Or that she'd still be whispering "don't tell your mother" in a rock style.  

Holy Fvck, this song absolutely rocks.  The synthesizers from the original are gone and replaced with fuzzy guitars.  I was completely blown away by this.  It's a mature take by an adult on a matureish song sung by a not-quite-adult.  

By the way, I was right.  She changed the lyrics to "Go tell your mother", which is a more mature lyric. 

05 June 2023

5 June 2023 - Donna Summer - I Feel Love

Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte (with Donna Summer herself) wrote AND produced this disco classic.  It helped cement Moroder's status as the King of Disco and Summer's as its Queen.

The song is pretty much a synth loop with simple vocals and a bangin' bassline, which seems pretty standard, but it was about a decade ahead of its time from a musical standpoint.  The combination made for a huge hit, hitting top 10 charts worldwide throughout 1977 and playing in clubs for decades after disco "died".

The song, in a remixed version, would once again be a chart hit in Europe in 1995 following the release of a remix by Rollo and Sister Bliss, with rerecorded vocals by Summer. Remember that I said that the song was a decade ahead of its time.  Here, nearly two decades later, it still sounded modern and in-place.  

02 June 2023

2 June 2023 - Kim Petras - Coconuts

In a prior post, I mentioned that Kim Petras had a cancelled album, and once that happened, she started leaking the music from that album.

Since I posted that, Petras won a couple of Grammys for her collaboration with Sam Smith, "Unholy".  

The single she released between "Future Starts Now" and "Unholy" was a song about her tits.  

Yeah.  I said it.  "Coconuts", in this song, do not refer to the tree fruit known for its white flesh and creamy milk.  There's no tree mentioned at all.  She is very much encouraging you to take a look at her margarita-tas.  

There are a ton of double-entendre jokes made throughout this song, which is super dirty - but because of the rapid-fire jokes, I felt sharing the lyric video was wisest.  

01 June 2023

1 June 2023 - CeCe Peniston - Finally

CeCe Peniston's debut single was released in September 1991, ahead of her debut album.  It would go on to become her biggest hit by far, becoming a top 5 hit in the US and topping charts worldwide.

Not only was it Peniston's first single, it was the first song she ever wrote, starting as a poem she had written.  While it was her biggest hit by far, it was far from her only hit, as she had a run of top 30 hits that followed this megahit.

The song is an upbeat delight, and you should enjoy it.

We're talking about this song in 2023, still, more than thirty years after its release. Surely, there must be something that kept the song in our collective consciousness that is appropriate for June 1st.

June is Pride Month, a month where we celebrate LGBTQ+ pride.  I'll talk more about WHY it's June later in the month, but know that this is a month where festivals and parades pop up around the world.  

So, why this song?

In 1994, there was a groundbreaking movie released out of Australia.  That movie was called The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  The movie follows three drag queens as they drive a bus across Australia to Alice Springs and a huge booking. 1) I cannot recommend this movie enough. 2) This song features prominently in an emotional climax in the movie, as our heroes perform to this song in Alice Springs.  On the strength of that scene, and the iconic nature of the movie in the gay community, this song has become something of an anthem.

Anyway, here's the scene.   

Penniston has embraced her biggest hit's status as iconic song and her expanded audience.  Here she is performing the song at 2018 Vegas Pride.

Here she is at LA Pride in 2011.