23 May 2024

23 May 2024 - Nelly Furtado - Turn Off The Light

The Juno Awards happened back in March.  For those not familiar and who don't read this damn blog, that's basically the Canadian Grammys, for Canadian artists (with one award exception).  

Nelly Furtado was the host of the 2024 Junos.  She also hosted the 2007 ceremony.  

And, with more than 45 million records sold, she is one of the most successful Canadian artists in history.

Her debut album - Whoa, Nelly! - was a huge hit - generating two top 10 singles in the US.  Her first, "I'm Like A Bird", is well-known, and hit #9 on the US charts in 2001.  Its follow-up, this song, written by Furtado, hit #5 and was a bigger hit in the States.  

Neither song was as big a chart hit in Canada (the former did hit the top 20, and both got a fair amount of airplay), but she would continue to record hit after hit on both sides of the border, and also in other countries.  

This is a song for which two official videos exist, and yes, we have them both. Same song, sparser video.

Nelly has been known as something of a musical shapeshifter, bridging pop, rock, folk, hip hop and even Latin music.  In 2006, she was in her hip hop period, and this live version of the song surfaced.

It's actually pretty much the same song.

Furtado, whose parents were Portuguese immigrants to Canada, performed the song for a very small audience - the cast of Big Brother Brasil.   Yes, she speaks Portuguese.

When she recorded the song in 2012 for Walmart Soundcheck... well, it was harder and slower.  Still, very cool version of the song, even if it was comissioned by Walmart.

Guys, this is our last post until next week.  Please stay safe this weekend.

16 May 2024

16 May 2024 - Emei - That Girl

Meet Emei.  She was born in California (as Emily Li) and raised in New Jersey to Chinese immigrants.

She also competed on Chinese Idol and Dancing With The Stars China.  She was enough of a star in China to be on THAT show.  

She's an angry pop-rock artist with some great songwriting chops, like this 2022 single by her.  Did it chart? No.  Did it make an impact?  Yuppers.  This song is fun and angry and empowering and you will be dancing by the end of it.  

14 May 2024

14 May 2024 (special edition) - Mélanie Renaud - J'm'en veux

For most of you, you don't know who Mélanie Renaud is.  

Born in Haiti in 1982, she was adopted at 8 months to parents from Quebec.  She built a hell of a career as a singer and a stage performer.  Today's song won the Félix Prize, an award for Quebec songwriters, for in 2002.  Her debut album, Ma Liberté, won the Canadian Independent Spirit Award for Francophone Album the same year. She fought and beat substance abuse.  Her huge voice never suffered.

Renaud passed away today at age 42, from overian cancer.  Her legacy and her music remain. 

A few months before she passed, Renaud did a beautiful acoustic version of this same song.  It is breathtaking and haunting.

14 May 2024 - Marie-Mai - Tu t'en fous

I tried like HELL to get this song into Maple Leaf March this year.  Since we featured Marie-Mai as part of a Simple Plan post in 2023, I've been trying to slot her in.

Marie-Mai is not that well known outside of Quebec, but inside Quebec, she's a star.  She got her start on a Quebec-based singing competition show, finishing third, and followed that with a part in the musical Rent

It's been a lot of music over the last twenty years as well, with hits in francophone Canada and France.  She has gravitated a little more pop nowadays, but she was always pop/rock.  This is one of her earliest, from her debut album, Inoxydable, from 2004

Of course she performed one of her biggest early hits live.  By this time, she had gone a little mellower and more towards a poppier direction, but the rock edge is still here. 

09 May 2024

9 May 2024 - Big Black - The Power of Independent Trucking

Had I not woken up to the news that Steve Albini had passed away on Tuesday, I would have made this a Special Edition.

Steve Albini wasn't best known for his music with Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac, although all three bands were great, and what will likely be the last Shellac album is coming out next week.  He was best known as a great record producer - producing such albums as Surfer Rosa by the Pixies, Pod by the Breeders, In Utero by Nirvana, Rid of Me by PJ Harvey, and so, so many others. He was notoriously not easy to work with, but also, down to earth, even personally answering the phone in his recording studio.

Big Black's second and final album, Songs About Fucking, probably the most honestly titled album ever, was a masterpiece, and it opened with this minute and a half long ode to, well, independent trucking... and absolutely about fucking. Released in 1987, it was probably a little ahead of its time.  Albini layers distorted power chords with atonal squeals, creating a relentless feeling of claustrophobia that perfectly captures the cramped confines of a diesel cab.  

His voice, his guitar, and his production will be missed.  

08 May 2024

8 May 2024 - Tara Slone - My Little Secret

Born in Quebec and raised in Nova Scotia, Tara Slone isn't exactly a household name outside of the San Francisco Bay area, and even then mostly with hockey fans.  She has been a longtime hockey commentator - first with Sportsnet in Canada and now with NBC Sports Bay Area.

But before that, Tara Slone was a musician.  She got her biggest break with a band called Joydrop (yes, we've featured them before) and then she went solo.  She did take a slight turn in trying to be the lead vocalist for INXS - that's not a joke - but did some credible solo work in her own right. 

She had a pretty solid straight-ahead rock sound that was compelling - an extension of Joydrop, but even heavier.  

07 May 2024

7 May 2024 - Teya & Salena - Who The Hell Is Edgar?

Meet Austria's 2023 Eurovision entry.  Teya and Salena are separate Austrian musical artists - both quite talented.  They met on the TV show Starmania 21, which is a music competiton in Austria.

This ended up being a hit song in many countries, and the 15th place finisher in Eurovision.  It is the biggest hit to date by either artist, and they've gone on to continue to record and release singles together.  

By the way, the titular "Edgar" is Edgar Allen Poe, who has possessed the songwriters, these women, along with their producers, Ronald Janeček and Pele Loriano.  The song was written during the last hour of a songwriting camp in 2022, and was always intended for Eurovision... for Salena to sing solo.  It just worked better with both of them.

Just have fun with it.

Eurovision is, of course, about the performance, and this is their performance. Again, it's a fun, goofy song.

Of course they continue to play the song, like during this charity play in Austria.

They've even done a stropped down - I refuse to call it "acoustic" - version of the song.

06 May 2024

6 May 2024 - The Darling Buds - If I Said

I was REALLY SCARED we wouldn't have something to continue this.  I mean, it's going to have to end someday, right?  The Darling Buds only released so much music.  

This is not the year it ends.  But I scared you, didn't I?

There have been rumours of new Darling Buds music coming soon.  I will let you know if I see it anytime soon, but we won't post it here until next May 6th.  We have to conserve our Darling Buds, you know. 

03 May 2024

3 May 2024 - Manel - Per la bona gent

Manel are a Spanish band.

But that ain't Spanish that they are singing.

You see, Manel are from Barcelona, in Catalonia, in the north of Spain.   The native language there, banned for so many years by Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from the end of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s until 1975, is Catalan.  

Manel are a band who perform in Catalan.  

This song was the title song from the 5th album, released in 2019.  They use a sample from the song "Alenar" by Maria del Mar Bonet, a Majorcan singer who stood in defiance of Franco by singing in Catalan in the late 1960 - the native language of Majorca, strangely enough, is a dialect of Catalan as well. 

If this is the first time you've heard Catalan, it may sound a little strange, like someone is pronouncing Spanish with extra h's.  It is a beautiful language and this song is a banger.


The song is just as cool live, if not cooler.

02 May 2024

2 May 2024 - Daoko × Kenshi Yonezu - 打上花火 (Fireworks)

Daoko is a young Japanese singer and rapper who first hit the scene in 2012, at age 15, when she uploaded her songs on the video streaming site called Nico Nico Douga at the time (now it's NicoNico). 

This single, a collaboration with Kenshi Yonezu, who wrote the song.  Featured on her 2017 album, Thank You Blue as well as the anime Fireworks, Should We See It From The Side or The Bottom, it would go on to top the Japan Hot 100.  It would go on to be the 3rd biggest hit on the 2017 Billboard Japan year-end chart.

Here's where it gets crazy.

It would also go on to be the 4th biggest hit on the 2018 Billboard Japan year-end chart.

It would also go on to be the 21th biggest hit on the 2019 Billboard Japan year-end chart.

OK, so now I'm done.

No, wait. It was the 75th biggest hit on the same chart in 2020.

In an all-time hit chart released in 2022, it was the 13th biggest Billboard Japan hit of all time.

The song is sad and beautiful at the same time, and was heralded for that dichotomy.  The video is, well, anime.

Daoko isn't an anime, though.  She's a real person, who really performs live, as she did in 2018.

01 May 2024

1 May 2024 - Jennifer Rostock - K.B.A.G.

The Bundesvision Song Contest is a German competition between the 16 states of Germany that is loosely based on Eurovision's concept.  

In 2008, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern band Jennifer Rostock didn't win, but they did get noticed and a record deal followed.

Oh, we should probably address this for our non-German readers.  Jennifer Rostock is a band, fronted by Jennifer Weist.  The name came from an earlier studio misunderstanding, where notes to the band were directed at Jennifer, and since they didn't know her name, but only that the band was from the coast, they just put the only coastal town they knew, Rostock - which was not where the band was from, but close enough, I guess? - and the screwed-up name stuck.

The band rocked hard and they continue to rock hard.  This single, from 2014, is a great example of that.

They rock just as hard live.