30 June 2012

29 June 2012 - Nikka Costa - Like A Feather

I caught this video once on MTV2, many years ago.  I was intrigued.  And then, for years, I could not remember the artist.  I did remember the outstanding bassline hook - one of the best I've ever heard - and the huge, huge voice.  And the clapping!  It was one of my favorite pop songs of all time.

Fast forward a couple of years.  "Desperate Housewives" was on the air and using a song called "Everybody Got Their Something" in their advertising.  I didn't know who performed it, but I knew some of the lyrics, of course. I went looking for that song to download and found the whole album of the same name.

Guess what was track 1?

I never forgot again.

28 June 2012

28 June 2012 - Kellie Pickler - Best Days of Your Life

Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be 80s Thursday, but we'll have to blow that off for a week as today is the birthday of one of my favorite country singers - Kellie Pickler. So let's celebrate with this fine pop country tune she co-wrote and performed with Taylor Swift.

And when you're done watching this one, keep the birthday party rolling at Your Forgotten Favorite as I have more Kellie Pickler goodness going on over there.

27 June 2012

27 June 2012 - Goyte (Featuring Kimbra) - Somebody That I Used To Know

It was a #1 song for eight weeks, until it got dethroned by you know what. This song is so quiet and cool, it's hard to believe that Top 40 radio embraced it.  Then again, a good xylophone solo makes for good radio.

The song, which sounds like a pretty good Sting impersonation, is both angry and heartbreaking. So well crafted.  Such a big pop hit.  Kimbra, who does look and sound a little like Katy Perry in this video (but is NOT Katy Perry) is a fantastic add to the song and a great new talent that I think we'll be seeing more of on this blog.

26 June 2012

26 June 2012 - Sara Evans - Suds in the Bucket

THE Wicked Guilty Pleasures guru warned me yesterday that he was in a 70s country mood and started the week off with a Glen Campbell classic. Sounds good to me. But I'll leave the 70s to the old fella (I kid, I kid).

I'll keep the country going, but will go modern instead. I've actually been meaning to post this fun Sara Evans video for some time. It was my introduction to Sara and has continued to be one of my favorite songs by her.

25 June 2012

25 June 2012 - Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy

Tomorrow, on Totally Covered, I'm going to share with you my Favorite Song of All Time. Bar none. I will give you a hint today.

Glen Campbell made the 2nd biggest hit of his career in sales with this mid-70's campy crossover classic.  He had already proven himself to be capable of greatness in his career, with both earlier hits and his work as a Beach Boy.    This song was pure camp.  It was well-written camp, but it was camp. Here he is, performing the song on Midnight Special

A little bonus: Here is the OFFICIAL video for the song.  Tell me that's not a little campy. I dare you.  Did he really need to be riding a white horse and wearing the white hat?  Still, it's a fun and well-written song.

22 June 2012

22 June 2012 - Lone Justice - Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)

Some songs have a distinct shelf life. Some songs never wear out.

Despite being ridiculed for it in 1985, when I was 13, I have loved this song from the first time I heard it.  The whole country/rock thing isn't something that usually appeals to me - most of what I post here is, let's face it, bubblegum pop - but Maria McKee's vocals sell it, every time.  Maria McKee co-wrote the song with Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band (he later played Silvio on The Sopranos).  

A little added bonus - here is a true live performance of the song, a little more mellow.  Still works.

21 June 2012

21 June 2012 - Squeeze - Black Coffee in Bed

It's 80s Thursdays!!! Here's a classic video by Squeeze. I saw singer Glenn Tilbrook perform a couple years ago. Before he played Black Coffee in Bed he poked some fun at himself and his former bandmates for this video. A couple songs later he led the crowd outside the club for a quick walk around the block while playing Pulling Mussels (From the Shell). Definitely a fun night.

20 June 2012

20 June 2012 - Boston - Let Me Take You Home Tonight

When Boston released their third album, Third Stage, in 1986, it was a pretty big deal.  First, they hadn't released anything in eight years, so it was hotly anticipated.  Second, they used no synthesizers to get their signature dreamy sound.  Tom Scholz was the heart of the band, and invented the Rockman amplifier to replace literal tons of soaks and stacks and retain the Boston sound.

This is a song from their first album, and features the soul of the band, Brad Delp, on vocals. It is, and always has been, my favorite Boston song.  Of course, in 1986, I was too naive to realize that it was a protracted cheesy pickup line - now that I do, I appreciate the song even more.   As an aside, this was recorded almost thirty years after the original recording in 1976, and Brad Delp still sounded fantastic. Sadly, he would commit suicide less than three years after this 2004 performance.

19 June 2012

19 June 2012 - Kate Nash - Foundations & Under-estimate The Girl

Kate Nash has been all over the music news lately (and trending more than a few times on Twitter). Here's why in a nutshell: her pop fans hate the riot grrrl sound of her new song and the punk/alternative snobs find it insulting that a pop star would dare enter their music world. It's all just silly. While I love her old sound and hope she doesn't ditch it entirely, Under-estimate the Girl might be the coolest freakin' song I've heard in years. So I present to you both sides of Kate Nash.

First up is a song from her debut record that hooked me the first time I heard it.

And here's the new song...which I've listened to about 8 zillion times since it was released last Friday.

18 June 2012

18 June 2012 - Adrian Belew - Oh Daddy

A happy belated Father's Day to all you fathers out there.  Adrian Belew (from King Crimson, and later David Bowie's musical director on tour) released this single in 1989, and featured his 11-year-old daughter Audie.  Since I have an 11-year-old daughter, this seemed appropriate.

No, I am not releasing a single with my daughter.

16 June 2012

16 June 2012 - OMC - How Bizarre

The biggest hit to come out of New Zealand, ever, How Bizarre was a huge, unexpected hit in 1996.  HUGE.  The song was everywhere.  It was a cool, laid-back summer song, perfect for cruising down the road.  Which they do in this video. A lot.  Some people love it; some people hate it.  No one can deny that it was huge, and huge everywhere.

Sadly, Pauly Fuemana, the lead vocalist of this band, passed away in 2010 at the age of 40, a vicitim of a rare respiratory disorder.  His death caused a resurgence of interest in this song.

15 June 2012

15 June 2012- Lady Sovereign - So Human

I've been a fan of Lady Sovereign from her very first single, even as she was trying really really hard to be offensive and in-your-face.  Needless to say, as she was trying to be like that, the press (in the UK) was not kind.

This song, which talks about the depression of being slammed publicly, is from her 2nd album, and heavily samples The Cure.  She's clearly playing in a genre not typically attempted by short, white British girls.  Having said that, she clearly understands hip-hop and performs it well, yet still remains true to herself and her own style.  I enjoy her, and I hope you do too!

Also, Lady Sov, if you are reading this, please come to the States and tour.  I'd come see you!

14 June 2012

14 June 2012 - Split Enz - I Got You

Thankfully, I decided to kill off the name New Wave Thursdays (it was just a horrible name). New Wave Wednesdays would have worked, but I don't post here on Wednesdays so that obviously would have been an even dumber name. What to do? Plus, there was some question as to what was New Wave and what wasn't. Too much of a mess for me to handle. In the end, I decided that 80s Thursdays is a bit better (emphasis on "bit").

So, let's kick off the "new and improved" 80s Thursdays with New Zealand's Split Enz and their 1980 pop classic I Got You.

13 June 2012

13 June 2012 - INXS - Not Enough Time / Suicide Blonde

I was, at one time, married to the biggest INXS fan this side of the Mississippi River.  A truly underrated 6-piece band from Australia, they were really big hit makers for awhile.  I got a great chance to appreciate all of their music, including the stuff that no one else heard because it came outside their hitmaking window.

One of these songs was the 2nd single off their 1992 album - which I think is their absolute high water maker - Welcome To Wherever You Are.  It peaked at #28 on the US charts, and was also featured on the official 1992 Summer Olympics CD.  It's also a densely layered, clever pop-rock power ballad. Instant, underappreciated classic.

That's not to say that some of their hits weren't really fun songs.  Take this one, one of their last big hits, from their album X - it was meant to designate a ten year anniversary.  This song, which peaked at #9 in the US - it would be their penultimate top 10 hit here - is a great, jangly, fun song. The title was reported coined by fellow Wicked Guilty Pleasure Kylie Minogue (who Michael Hutchence dated for awhile) who had to bleach her hair for a movie role.

I don't care that Suicide Blonde was a big hit.  I still love the song.

12 June 2012

12 June 2012 - Janelle Monáe (featuring Big Boi) - Tightrope

I don't listen to a lot of soul/R&B artists, but there are a few acts these days that are pretty freaking rad. I'd put Janelle Monáe in that category. This song is so freaking infectious...and the video's way cool too.

11 June 2012

11 June 2012 - Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend

I am not a fan of Avril Lavigne.  At least, I wasn't until five years ago.   Her early stuff was a little too emo for me.

With Girlfriend, Avril did 3 things.  First, she found her inner rock goddess.  The song simply rocks.  Second - this one is going to be very hard to understand for any of you that aren't either Canadian or old fans of You Can't Do That On Television - she sounds more Canadian than she had previously.  It's her tone and her vernacular.

Finally, she recorded the song in at least eight different languages.  Here is the English version.

The results? The biggest hit of her career to date.  No coincidence.  Not at all.

For those who are so inclined, here is a video that gives you a sampling of several of the languages in which this was recorded.

10 June 2012 - Game Theory - The Waist And The Knees / Look Away / Wyoming / The Real Sheila / Erica's Word

Game Theory were a band led by Scott Miller of Davis, CA.  The rest of the band was rotating, but this lineup, featuring Donnette Thayer (more on her in a bit), was the classic one.  Despite catchy pop/rock tunes and aural experimentation, and the greatest double album ever released - Lolita Nation, from which album this first song is plucked - they never achieved big time success.

This song, one of my favorites, is from a live performance in 1988, soon before their final breakup. It was a harder rocking song, with a little bit of experimentation built in.

Scott Miller, who went on to found the long-lasting Loud Family (who are equally good), gave up the microphone and the songwriting very little.  In a few cases, he did cede that to Donnette, who was really talented in her own right - she would leave Game Theory to found Hex with Steve Kilbey from The Church - and when he did, it was magical between the two of them.  Here is a live performance of one of her tunes, performed live. And, when you see her hair, remember that it was 1986.

OK, let's do one more.  This is another Donnette song, with a better harmony with Scott, and is my absolute favorite Game Theory song. From their last, and second-best album, Two Steps From The Middle Ages, it is worth hearing, even without a video.

I urge you to seek out more Game Theory music.  It isn't easy to find, but it's worth the time and effort to find it.

Update (19 April 2013): Scott Miller has passed away this week. In tribute, here is the band's biggest hit, from Lolita Nation.

And here is the first Game Theory song I ever heard.  I heard them first on the Enigma Records compilation The Enigma Variations 2.  (They also appeared on the classic Enigma Variations).  Arguably the best power pop song ever written.

08 June 2012

8 June 2012 - Katy Hudson - Search Me

Katy Hudson was a reasonably popular Christian recording artist in the early 2000's.  She had a powerful voice, and was well-regarded as an artist.  Russ Breimeier told us in 2001 that we'd be hearing more and more from her.

Russ was right.  However, this record didn't do well, mostly because the record label she was signed to folded.   We'd just have to wait a little longer.

By now, I am sure you have figured out this is Katy Perry. After this record, she changed her name to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.

07 June 2012

7 June 2012 - Men Without Hats - Pop Goes The World

OK, I'm going to give Hair Metal Thursdays a break for a while. I knew it was time when I couldn't decide on whether to post a White Lion or a Stryper video. Frightening thought. Never fear though as I'm proud to bring you NEW WAVE THURSDAYS. Wow, I'm just horrible at naming things. I swear if it wasn't for my wife, my cats would be named Orange Cat, Grey Cat and Other Orange Cat. Someone please hit me up with a name that isn't so lame (for New Wave Thursdays, not the cats, we're pretty settled on Jeter, Posey and Joey in that regard).

Anyway, for the debut New Wave Wednesday post here's Canada's Men Without Hats with a song that has recently popped up on a laundry commercial. Believe it or not, I always liked this song more than Safety Dance.

06 June 2012

6 June 2012 - Gym Class Heroes - Cupid's Chokehold / Supertramp - Breakfast in America

I remember several years ago, when this song was new, that it sounded strangely familiar.  These upstate NY boys - Geneva, NY, to be precise - had found a way to be both classic and fresh.

Plus, in 2006, everyone was wondering who that girl was next to Travie McCoy.  Well, it was his girlfriend, Katy Hudson.  Of course, we all know her better as Wicked Guilty Pleasures Hall of Famer Katy Perry, but at the time this video was released, she had not yet adopted that name.

We're all about the gratuitous Katy Perry mentions, but this is a great song, combining rock and hip-hop in exactly the opposite way I would have expected.  And their use of samples - more on that in a minute - was clever and unexpected as well.

Little known fact: This was version #2 of the video.  The video below? Version 1.0.  Without Katy Perry, of course. The song itself is a little different, but only subtly.  Also, this version is far, far, far darker!

Update: This video was removed, and I can't find it, so here's a live version.

Of course, that sample from the beginning of the tune is not an obscure Katy Perry tune, but rather the Supertramp classic Breakfast In America.  Here's the songwriter and Supertramp lead vocalist, Roger Hodgson, performing the song.

The song is both celebratory and sad.  You don't know if Roger is happy or sad about his girlfriend.  She is, after all, the only one he's got. But, she's not much of a girlfriend - he never seems to get a lot.

Here's the rest of Supertramp performing it without Roger Hodgson. And without Katy Perry.  You know, neither version really sounds complete to me.

05 June 2012

5 June 2012 - Brandi Carlile - What Can I Say and The Story

I've been a big Brandi Carlile fan since the first time I heard today's song. Her voice just blows me away. So much passion. Needless to say, I'm excited to hear her new record - Bear Creek - which hits stores today. Until then, I suppose this video will have to do.

And this one too! My favorite song of 2007.

04 June 2012

4 June 2012 - The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony

This is a terrific song.  It's just so.... pretentious and opulent.   To call your humble little song a "Symphony" is a bit arrogant.  And the video! Richard Ashcroft is pretty much a jerk to everyone on the street, and they all express their displeasure.

Oh, and the little fact that they lifted a huge part of the song.  That was proven in court.  Which is why the song is officially credited to Jagger/Richards.  But more on that in a moment.

Still, the song, in all its opulence, is instantly catchy.  I bet you're singing it to yourself right now.  The combination of the angry, depressed cadence and the orchestral grandeur make for a truly moving song.

But did they actually steal the vocal stylings, like the courts said?  Here is the Rolling Stones song in question.  I, personally, don't think they actually did steal it.  The cadence is similar, but the tempo is completely different.

What IS true is that The Verve, with permission, sampled the Andrew Oldham Orchestra cover of this very same song. The violins and tubular bells you hear in Bitter Sweet Symphony are a sample.  The rest of the cover is a snoozer that no one would have noticed if not for The Verve.

(Update: 2 September 2020): In 2019, Richards and Jagger gave up their rights to this song, acknowledging that Richard Ashcroft really wrote a masterpiece.  

In celebration, here's a live version.  It's a pretty moving version.  

03 June 2012

3 June 2012 - Curve - Coast Is Clear / Fait Accompli

Today, we enjoy a band - a two-piece, led by the fantastically talented Toni Halliday - that never enjoyed enough success in this country.  It's a shame they aren't together anymore - Toni and Dean Garcia made some great, hard-edged music.  This was the first song of theirs I heard - I never understood why it wasn't a hit.

This was the 2nd song of theirs that I heard.  They had a song that was both contemporary for their time and the shoegazing scene that was so popular then AND intensely hard-edged.   Was it hard rock? Was it electronica?  Curve somewhat defied labels, which might have been their problem.

Listen to this song.  Now, try to picture some of Garbage's big hits.  This predated them by several years.  I like Garbage, but they owe a huge debt to Curve.

01 June 2012

1 June 2012 - Toto - Africa

"As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti"  might be the greatest lyric ever written.  This song takes me back to a particular time.  Specifically, it takes me back to 1982, when this song was released.  I wasn't really a fan of it at the time, but I appreciate it for the lyrical gymnastics now.