30 December 2013

30 December 2013 - Charli XCX - Take My Hand

This is most likely my last post of 2013.  So I chose to feature an artist that's been on this blog no less than four times already (including once with Icona Pop).  And each time, you've reacted with zeal - all of them have gotten you reading, and three of them rank among our ten biggest posts of all time - including the top two.

Charlotte Aitchison took four years to write, record and release what would be her fantastic debut album (and my pick for 2013 album of the year), True Romance.  She released singles from the album as she recorded them, and made videos for many of them.  This was the sixth (and final) video from that album, commissioned by Urban Outfitters and released in the wake of "I Love It (I Don't Care)" (a personal finalist for 2013 single of the year, by the way).  

That's right.  You didn't think Charli XCX was her real name, did you?  Supposedly, the XCX came from an early signoff fo from her MySpace/YouTube releases - the X's are kisses, and the C is, well, Charli.  And it stuck.

The more you know.

In my opinion, this is the poppiest song from the album - and even it's a little dark.  Some people have compared it to Madonna's "Holiday" in energy level and subject matter. I agree - and I think this is the beginning of something big.

You might notice, if you are familiar with her other videos - specifically "What I Like" - some of the same background actors in this one.  They're Charli's friends, people.  She's only JUST 21.  Let's not forget how young she is and how accomplished.... and let's admire the fact that she's taking her mates along for the ride.

This is a live show from Philadelphia, recorded June 2, 2013.  Let's all be clear - this is someone who has not been top-billed on any pop hits.  The Icona Pop song doesn't count - because, let's be honest, most of the time "feat. Charli XCX" is dropped from that description (even though she wrote the song - but I'm not bitter) - so this is someone who doesn't have any American pop hits.

And yet the crowd is singing along.

This isn't a fluke.  This is from the very next night in Brooklyn.  June 3rd.  Even more energetic singing.

My point - watch for more Charli XCX in 2014.  Her new album is expected to be released in June.  Her time is coming.  And you can gloat and say that you heard her first.

23 December 2013

23 December 2013 - Sky Ferreira - Everything is Embarassing

Let's take a trip back in time.... way back to 2012.  A Calvin Klein model started writing songs.  She even recorded some of them for a future album (which would come in 2013 and be great).  Material that didn't work for the album... she could release on EPs and as singles.

And that's what she did.   This dark gem, which would be her breakthrough, was part of that result.   

Just in case you thought I was kidding about her working on that album.... This is a Swan7/Newtown Radio production from 2012, when "Everything is Embarrassing" was a new song.  Note that the second song was the first single from her new album, which we featured previously, and which would not be released for another year.  So, enjoy this!

20 December 2013

20 December 2013 - Kanye West - Black Skinhead

Sure, he's full of himself, and we all know it.  I don't even think HE can believe all that hype.  And I really don't want to like Kanye West.

However, Yeezus is an amazing album - full of  raw emotion and compelling performance, combined with accompaniment not seen in hip hop. This was not only the first single, but also a Motorola commercial.

As a bonus, here is Ye's performance of this song from SNL.  As strong and powerful as it was on the album, he someone manages to outdo that when performing it live.  Say what you want about the man, but he has stage presence down pat!

19 December 2013

19 December 2013 - Kellie Pickler - The Man With The Bag

I'll admit it. Last year we went way overboard with the Christmas music here at Wicked Guilty Pleasures (I think we did one for every weekday in December). So when Tony asked me if we were going to do Christmas videos again this year, I suggested that maybe we just post a couple. I could tell he was relieved by my response.

Anyway, seeing that this is likely my last WGP post before Christmas (I should probably do that whole spend time with the family thing on Christmas Eve), here's the wonderful Kellie Pickler singing The Man With The Bag from this year's CMA Country Christmas. Enjoy, and have a safe and happy holidays!

18 December 2013

18 December 2013 - Phantogram - Don't Move

I was at a complete loss for what I was going to post today.  So I started going through my Spotify playlists.....

..... and I found this.  And I was just feeling it.  So here it is. It's a dark, hypnotic song.   By the way, their new album drops February 18th.

And here they are, performing this song two weeks ago.

17 December 2013

17 December 2013 - Ellie Goulding - Burn

I was listening to the pop station a couple days ago in my truck when this "new" song by Ellie Goulding played. I didn't remember hearing it off her debut album Lights or last year's Halcyon. Excited for new music by Ellie, I went online when I got home and found out that it's on a recently released expanded version of Halcyon called Halcyon Days. Of course it is. Well, I probably won't shell out the dough to re-purchase the album for 8 additional songs, but I'll likely buy the single. Mission partially accomplished record label marketing department.

16 December 2013

16 December 2013 - The Toadies - Possum Kingdom

Mid 90's alternative music was a different breed. It was straight-ahead rock music, with different pacing and subject matter.

Take this song, for example.  The Toadies were a rock band.  They still are, in fact.  This song, their biggest hit by far, started quiet and slow-paced, with a guitar and rhythm track ping-ponging back and forth between left and right balance.  It made for a very rich sound, despite the streaght-ahead rock instruments they used.

And the song is about a romance between possums.  Now THAT'S subject matter not visited since "Muskrat Love".

13 December 2013

13 December 2013 - Kacey Musgraves - Follow Your Arrow

Do not adjust your TV.  This isn't a Scott post.

Kacey Musgraves' album Same Trailer, Different Park was showing up on a lot of "Best-of-2013" year-end lists.  A lot of them - NPR, Rolling Stone, SPIN...... the list goes on.  So, I decided to check it out. 

Believe the hype. 

First of all, Kacey can sing.  She's got a smoky, genuine voice that works for country.  Second, and more important, her lyrics are not the typical subject matter you would expect from a country artist.  End to end, the album is interesting, every track pulling you in.

So, without further ado - 4-time Grammy nominee (including Best New Artist), and 2013 CMA winner for Best New Artist, Kacey Musgraves, with her latest single, an anthem for dancing to the beat of your own drum.

12 December 2013

12 December 2013 - The Band Perry - Don't Let Me Be Lonely

There's no guilt here. I really dig The Band Perry. Their self-titled debut was one of my favorite albums of 2010 and their latest, Pioneer, will likely be in my top 10 of 2014 based solely on its first two red-hot singles -- Better Dig Two and Done (Better Dig Two just might be one of my favorite songs of the year). Pioneer's third single, for the ballad Don't Let Me Be Lonely, is steadily climbing up the country charts. Here's the recently released video.

11 December 2013

11 December 2013 - Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers - Get Lucky

Pharrell Williams is having a good year as a guest star in 2013.  He's had two top 10 US hits, including today's feature hit - the other is "Blurred Lines", of course.  And both songs have a lot more in common than might be apparent on the surface. 

Both are clearly overtly sexual in nature, although they both approach their subject matter in different ways. 

Both are clearly derivative of classic artists from a previous era - "Blurred Lines" of Marvin Gaye, and "Get Lucky" of 70's super disco funk group Chic.  However, where Robin Thicke ran legally afoul of the Gaye estate, Daft Punk also recruited Nile Rogers, who was a member of Chic and the mastermind of their sound, thoroughly avoiding litigation.

And this song is funky and fun and an instant classic.  It would be a little out of place at Studio 54, because of the clear electronic slant of Daft Punk, but not terribly so out of place that Truman Capote would have to stop snorting blow.  In all seriousness, they have a lot of respect for the disco era, and it shows, clearly, in this song.

10 December 2013

10 December 2013 - Jesus Jones - Info Freako

OK. I'll admit it. There was a time back in high school (and a year or so in college) when I was into Jesus Jones. I even saw them in concert at the height of their popularity. This of course was years before Right Here, Right Now was WAY TOO over-played and the band themselves became an over-used punchline. Thankfully, Nickelback came along to steal that thunder. Anyway, here's the video for Jesus Jones' first single Info Freako. It may sound a bit dated in 2013, but in 1989 it was way ahead of its time with the buzzsaw guitars and electronic beats.

09 December 2013

9 December 2013 - LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out

Don't call it a comeback.

But, for reals, it was part of a comeback - more on that in a minute.  LL Cool J had dropped out of sight for years.  Gangsta rap was dominating the scene.  And LL was being dissed - DISSED - by other artists.    So, he did what any big hip hop star would do.

He whined to his grandma.

Who told him to "knock out" his critics and dissers.

So he wrote this and proceeded to dis Kool Moe Dee.  "How you like me now?!"

This was by no means LL Cool J's biggest hit - it actually was the single that preceded this one, "Around The Way Girl", which was the ACTUAL comeback - but it is one of his most bombastic and memorable songs. 

And yes, that's Grandma at the end, asking Tom to take out the garbage.

06 December 2013

6 December 2013 - Kitten - Like A Stranger

2014 will be the year for Kitten - really, Chloe Chaidez, the sole current member of the band.  Fresh off an opening stint with Charli XCX, here is their latest single.  It's a pop-rock L.A. sound, to be sure, a throwback to the 80's, but it's also fresh and new-sounding.  I urge you to check them out, and now.

05 December 2013

5 December 2013 - Nitzer Ebb - Hearts and Minds

I always liked Nitzer Ebb. Just abrasive enough to be cool, but melodic enough for the clubs. Not many electronic bands back in the 80s could say that. Here's the video for Hearts and Minds off their 1989 album Belief. They certainly don't make videos like this anymore. I'm not quite sure if that's a good thing or not.

04 December 2013

4 December 2013 - Tanya Donelly - Pretty Deep

After Belly, and before her career as a doula - I'm not joking about that, by the way - Tanya Donelly had a brief solo career.  It wasn't bad.  Enjoy her first single and biggest hit.

03 December 2013

3 December 2013 - Rachel Griffin - Over The Moon For You

Discovering new music is one of my favorite things about Twitter. One of the many simple rules I abide by is to always follow back musicians who follow me and then make an effort to check out their music (that last part sometimes takes a while, but I usually get around to it). My most recent "Twitter discovery," Rachel Griffin, is a fantastic singer/songwriter from Maine who now resides in New York City. She just released her first "official" video for the title track to her latest EP Over The Moon For You. When I first heard this song I was immediately reminded of the pop goodness of Kat Parsons (an artist who I discovered last year on Twitter and ended up making my Top 10 best of 2012 list). Will Rachel make my list for 2013? Only time will tell. I'm certainly enjoying the heck out of this song/video and plan on picking up the EP as soon as possible.

02 December 2013

2 December 2013 - Mala Rodríguez - 33

You know, American males do not have the market on angry cuss-filled hip-hop cornered. 

Mala Rodriguez is from Spain - Sevilla, in Andalucia, for those trying to identify the accent - and she's definitely not a male.  And those of you who understand Spanish know that she's using a LOT of swear words.  For those of you who don't understand a word she's saying - it's an angry, boastful song, with quite a bit of reference to having casual sex and talking an awful lot of mierda.

For the record, she's 34. I assume she was 33 when she wrote this. 

26 November 2013

26 November 2013 - Scotty McCreery - See You Tonight

Season 10 American Idol champ Scotty McCreery released his sophomore album See You Tonight last month. I think those who are tiring of the current trend of "frat boy" country performed by mostly 30-somethings will be pleasantly surprised to hear this remarkably mature set, ironically enough, by a 20-year-old college student. Go figure. Anyway, it's a solid album and I'd highly recommend it to fans of country artists like Josh Turner or Easton Corbin. Check out the video for the very catchy first single See You Tonight.

22 November 2013

22 November 2013 - The Timelords - Doctorin' The Tardis

A song that heavily samples the Doctor Who theme and references that show in both band and song title?  Yeah, there was no other choice for today, Day of the Doctor Eve.

21 November 2013

21 November 2013 - World Party - Ship of Fools

As is the case with many of my 80s Thursday posts, World Party is hardly a guilty pleasure. They were a great band and the music still sounds good today. But, as is the case with many of my 80s Thursday's posts, this video is SOOOOOO cheesy (those special effects, are certainly . . . ummm special) that it kind of becomes a guilty pleasure. I'm sure it was cutting edge back in 1987.

20 November 2013

20 November 2013 - Cher Lloyd - I Wish (feat. T.I.) / Skee-Lo - I Wish

Cher Lloyd will release her new album, "Sorry I'm Late" next year.  However, in advance of that, her new single is already out. 

And it's clever and humble, even with T.I. guest starring.  It's not quite as bombastic as "Want U Back", and not nearly as full of itself as "Swagger Jagger", but it certainly suits her well.

Of course, when I first heard the title of the new song, I thought "Hey, is this a cover of the Skee-Lo song?"  It isn't, but the two songs share a similar humility.

19 November 2013

19 November 2013 - Machines of Loving Grace - Butterfly Wings

While I was a much bigger fan of Machines of Loving Grace's self-titled debut, I have to admit that their second album Concentration had their best song - Butterfly Wings. And yeah, it does sound a little bit dated today, but then again it should, seeing that it came out 20 years ago.

18 November 2013

18 November 2013 - Ke$ha - Your Love Is My Drug

So, picture that you are in 2010.  You're familiar with "Tik Tok" and that drunk girl with the dollar sign in her name.  You're listening to the radio... and this song, full of emotion but still light and fun, comes on the radio.

You, like I, are probably a little surprised you're listening to the same artist.  You probably aren't as offended as I was by the similarity in title to a Roxy Music title, but you're probably at least a little impressed.... even if she does refer to herself as a "lovesick crackhead."

One thing you probably didn't know about this song - Kesha (Sebert - it's her real name, without the dollar sign) co-wrote this song with her mother, Pebe.  Ke$ha actually started off as a songwriter for other people, and so she is the rare pop artist who writers her own music.  Which I would find more impressive, I guess, if she didn't have the lyric "Brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack" to her credit.

Anyway, I was eventually sold on Ke$ha as a truly talented artist who, thanks in large part to her first single, doesn't get enough credit for her talent.  So, enjoy this.

By the way, here is her SNL performance of the song.  Very little AutoTune appears to have been used (she does some vocal playing pretty openly at about 1:48 for effect, not correction)..... just a lot of Day-Glo body paint.  My point is, pretty strong performance for someone who doesn't get credit for her talent....

(Update: 18 Dec 2020) Sometimes, YouTube takes down videos.  So I replaced this one with a version in which Ke-Dollar Sign-Ha is still singing, clearly.

15 November 2013

15 November 2013 - The Cardigans - Been It

Most people can name the biggest U.S. hit by The Cardigans.


On both its original issue in Europe and its reissue in the United States, this was the follow-up single.   In both cases, it didn't do well on the charts - it did OK in the UK, but not elsewhere.  My theory is that most people were expecting a light, fluffy song (even though their 2nd biggest hit here is far far darker), and they didn't get it.

Either that, or the use of the word "whore."

But what everyone missed was a gem of a dark pop hit that broke the mold of all expectations of a female-fronted band. A woman-driven pop sound that could be dark and bass-heavy - who knew that could happen?!?  The song tells a story of someone who is regretting a lot of the stupid things she has done in relationships, and owning what she has been.  Enjoy!

Update (10 July 2016) - All these years later, we found another version of this video!!!!

14 November 2013

14 November 2013 - Stray Cats - Rock This Town

I've got the perfect* video for today's 80s Thursday post. Here's the Stray Cats with Rock This Town off of their self-titled debut from 1981.

*Please note the self-control I showed by not saying the "purrfect video." Of course by making this point, I am admitting that I considered it and instead felt that this "footnote" would be more amusing.

13 November 2013

13 November 2013 - Terence Trent D'Arby - Wishing Well

Sure, he was really cocky when he came on the scene.

Sure, he changed his name to Sananda Maitreya, a name that came to him in a dream.

Sure, he had a ridiculous hairdo.

But damn, this was, and still is, a catchy song.

11 November 2013

11 November 2013 - MNDR - #1 In Heaven

I love doing this blog.   Because of some of the guilty pleasures that have been posted here, I have actually learned about new artists that I would not have otherwise heard.  Today's artist is one of these examples.

A few weeks ago, I posted a song by RAC, called "Let Go."  Excellent song.  Go ahead and listen to it.  At the time, I noted that the song featured two additional artists, Kele and MNDR - the stage name/band name of Amanda Warner.  I was familiar at the time with neither artist, and so I started making myself familiar.

Now, let's talk about this video.  It is a bit of a throwback, visually, and also very much in-your-face.  MNDR has very much created an in-your-face electronic sound, with a young, fresh, happy sound. And clearly, Amanda has a fair amount of swagger, which helps her sell a song that a lesser artists might not have been capable of.

As I frequently like to do, here is MNDR performing this song live at SXSW 2012. Notice how, whereas in the video she has a band, here she is alone on stage.  She has made it very clear that she is MNDR, and it is not a band, even though she has a collaborator.

08 November 2013

8 November 2013 - OneRepublic - Counting Stars

I didn't really think I'd like this song at first.  But, really, I don't know why not.  It's a song that starts slow and works to a frantic pace, pretty quickly, which is exactly what I go for musically. These guys also mix traditional electric rock with acoustic instruments, which makes for a rich, interesting sound.

Finally, this song seems to have a higher purpose - almost like they're trying to be the next U2.  Other stuff they've done - using heartbeats of children in need for the rhythm of songs and doing PSAs about that, for example - point to a social awareness higher than their contemporaries.

07 November 2013

7 November 2013 - Moonpools & Caterpillars - Hear

I've wanted to post this Moonpools & Caterpillars video for some time, but it was "unavailable to embed" which likely means that it will be blocked very shortly due to some sort of record label nonsense. Enjoy this 1995 feel-good song while you can. I know I will.

05 November 2013

5 November 2013 - Avril Lavigne - Rock N Roll

Well, well, well, it appears that Canada's oldest teenager Avril Lavigne has a brand new self-titled record out today which I'm sure will find it's way into my collection (they all seem to now, don't they?). The self-titled album's second single Rock N Roll is classic Avril at her bratty pop punk (mostly pop of course) best. As for the Tank Girl inspired video . . . you need to see it to believe it. Oh yeah, it also features Winnie Cooper so it's got that going for it as well. Before playing the video, please note that Avril uses a couple naughty words so make sure to crank it up for your bosses, coworkers or kiddies.

04 November 2013

4 November 2013 - Lorde - Royals

This might be the most unlikely #1 hit song of the year.  A sixteen-year old woman from New Zealand - no New Zealander has ever had a #1 hit in the US, by the way - and the song is really percussion-heavy, with some synth in for highlight.  But it's brilliant, and I am really proud of commercial pop radio for embracing such a different song.

Scott and I have been kind of dragging our heels on posting this one.  For me, it's because I didn't really like the song.  It bored me.  But it grew on me.  And then I caught this live performance, as played in the studios of the legendary KCRW.

Pretty much indistinguishable from the studio version, isn't it?  That's the mark of a solid artist. This version of the video is the one for the rest of the world, and not the US......

.....and this is the US version.  Not much different.

Update: 21 June 2014: The Japanese version..... well, that's VERY different.

01 November 2013

1 November 2013 - Bertie Higgins - Key Largo

Here's lookin' at you, kid!  Perhaps the cheesiest song and video of the last thirty-five years.... it's a classic.  Full of emotions, and truly evocative of an era gone by.  

But did you know it was also an homage to a movie of the same name? Strangely enough, that movie stared Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. 

And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

31 October 2013

31 October 2013 - David Bowie - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

Happy Halloween! I thought I'd try to get in the spirit and find a "spooky" video. I figured, "Ooooh, I can post Ministry's Every Day Is Halloween video." Then I checked our logs and saw that Tony did that one last year. I posted a Groovie Ghoulies video last month (great planning genius). I could have done The Misfits, but I just can't accept them without Danzig and the videos with Danzig were pretty much unlistenable. I give up. Here's a live video of David Bowie playing Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) even though the song has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween scariness.

30 October 2013

30 October 2013 - Phantogram - When I'm Small

It only seems like we've posted this song about 12 times.  We haven't.  But it's been a long time coming.

Casual readers of our blogs - specifically Totally Covered - will know that this song is a favorite of mine.  I have thrice - here by Antique Firearms, here by Lizzy Land, and here by Fine It's Pink - posted covers of this song, all of which blew me away in different ways.

In that last post, I mentioned that I was upstairs in my house while a football game was on downstairs, and I heard this very song. And wondered why the hell Phantogram was playing during a Bills game.  Of course, I came downstairs and saw that Clay Mathews was doing a Gillette commercial with that as the background music.

But enough about other people's versions of this song.  This song blows me away every time I hear it, be it their original studio version or one of the many live versions they've done.  The sparse drum beat - a machine when recorded and in this video - to start the song, followed by the guitar/keyboard wall of sound, joined quickly by Sarah Barthel's breathy and increasingly intense vocal - it's damned near musical perfection.  The song is intensely angry at its crescendo.  If you've never heard this song before in its entirely, I urge you to listen right now.

This live performance is from SxSW 2010.  Here, as in a lot of live versions of the song, Sarah's breathy vocal jumps in before the wall of instrumental sound.  It's a little different, but it still works.

When I first heard this version of the song - which features Josh Carter on an acoustic guitar along with a slighty less breathy Sarah Barthel, but no drums or bombastics - I didn't like it.  It is nothing but raw emotion, and for that reason, it has grown on me. I hope it grows on you, too.

OK, one last version, this is a remix of the song done by Remix Artists Collective - RAC , who we featured here as artists a couple of weeks ago - which brings in their signature keyboard sound.  It's a completely different song - a little dreamier, if you can imagine that - and less angry.

29 October 2013

29 October 2013 - Sandi Thom - I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)

A mention of this hopeful Sandi Thom song popped into my Twitter feed over the weekend. I haven't heard it in years. It still sounds good to me.

28 October 2013

28 October 2013 - Iggy Azalea - Change Your Life (feat. T.I.)

You know what I think about when I think hip-hop?

Blonde Australian women who make us use the jump break so kids who stumble upon this blog won't accidentally see nipples.

25 October 2013

25 October 2013 - Soho - Hippychick

When I first heard this on the radio, my first thought was "hey, finally 'How Soon Is Now' is a hit!"  That opening guitar rift - famously played by Johnny Marr of the Smiths - was used with permission (and 25% royalty - no lawsuit necessary).  The Soul II Soul track playing in the background - yes, that's "Back To Life" - isn't as frequently mentioned, but it's also sampled heavily.

No one ever talks about how the Smiths lifted the rift from Bo Diddley, either, but.....

Anyway, this song is poppy and dancy and pure fun.   It doesn't matter how many samples they use - this trio (the Cuff sisters who are the vocalists, along with musician Timothy London) makes them all their own.

In my opinion, live, when musicians fill in for the samples, the song really pops.

24 October 2013

24 October 2013 - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Perfect Skin

Sometime during my high school years I picked up the Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, 1984-1989 tape. I must have read about him in Spin magazine (back when people actually cared about Spin magazine) because I certainly wasn't hearing smart, well-written music like his on the radio. When I bought the tape Lloyd had already begun his solo career which is still going strong today. I've seen him a few times in the last 12 years and it's always a great show (he's a tremendous story teller). And it's always a treat hearing him play today's track Perfect Skin.

22 October 2013

22 October 2013 - Sondre Lerche - Two Way Monologue

Two Way Monologue by Sondre Lerche pops into my head every so often and I can't shake it until I actually hear this shimmery slice of indie pop goodness. Song be gone . . . Now bring back the usual voices that inhabit my noggin'.

21 October 2013

21 October 2013 - Los Lonely Boys - Heaven

I always thought that Los Lonely Boys was the dumbest name for a band.

Their biggest hit, on the other hand, is strangely adult contemporary and bluesy from a band with clearly Latin roots.  At the same time, it is a clever and catchy song.  It was also their debut single in 2004, so they started big, I guess....

17 October 2013

17 October 2013 - Toad the Wet Sprocket - One Little Girl

It's once again time for me to dig deep into the past for another 80s Thursday. Here's the One Little Girl video off Toad the Wet Sprockets 1989 debut Bread & Circus which I actually had on cassette (OK, I had their first three releases on cassette . . . I've since upgraded to CD). The band just released New Constellation, their first album in 16 years, and I'm hearing a lot of good things about it. I've seen them a couple times since they reformed and the shows were a lot of fun. I'd definitely see them again, especially since they now have new material to play.

15 October 2013

15 October 2013 - Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals

I was mostly confused by Sleigh Bells' debut album Treats when it came out in 2010. What I read about them and what they sounded like seemed to be two COMPLETELY different things. I didn't hate it, but I never really gave it another listen. It just wasn't my thing. Then this summer I somehow acquired their second album Reign of Terror, but I still haven't made the time to listen to it. So why am I writing about a band that I've been pretty much indifferent about? Well, my curiosity got the best of me after a friend suggested that I check out the first single/title track off of their latest album Bitter Rivals. I have to say it's a pretty cool tune. I still don't know if this noise-pop thing is for me (I just can't see myself sitting around listening to it for hours), but I'm starting to think that I should seriously give Treats a second chance and finally listen to Reign of Terror.

14 October 2013

14 October 2013 - RAC - Let Go

The Remix Artists Collective has been around for several years, remixing other people's songs.  So it only made sense that they'd start releasing their own stuff, even if they did partner with Kele from Bloc Party and the great MNDR (the female vocal is Amanda Warner) to do it.

And they've created a catchy sound.... and a kind of disturbing video. Enjoy!

(Update: 15 April 2014):  So, you know we like to update these posts from time to time.  Here is a live performance by RAC - who, let's be honest, is André Allen Anjos, who you can see in the background.  And while Kele's vocal is recorded, MNDR's isn't - that's her, front and center.

11 October 2013

11 October 2013 - Ylvis - The Fox

I like it when my music answers burning questions.  What is love? Where does the good go? How am I supposed to live without you?

And, of course, what does the fox say?

Ok, so this may be the biggest international earworm since Gangnam Style.  It is still an infectious, catchy dance tune.  And there's nothing wrong with enjoying it (no matter what they might say on ESPN Radio morning talk shows).

And let's all be thankful that Ylvis, unlike Psy, included lyrics in their video.

We know the evening television talk shows are a fan.  Here are Ylvis on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, recreating their video in studio.  Frankly, I've never quite seen anything like this....

10 October 2013

10 October 2013 - The Sugarcubes - Cold Sweat

Life's Too Good -- the ground-breaking debut by The Sugarcubes -- is one of the finest albums the 80s had to offer. The wild abandon in Bjork's voice can never be replicated. She would go from childlike coos to primal screams faster than you can say "Iceland's greatest band." Their subsequent albums Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! and Stick Around For Joy were great in their own right, but could never compare to the brilliance of that first record. Cold Sweat was the second single on Life's Too Good (after the amazing Birthday) and it's among my favorites. Check out the video.

09 October 2013

9 October 2013 - Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch - Good Vibrations

It's such a sweet sensation.

Seriously one of the greatest hit songs of the last 20 years, Marky Mark (Wahlberg, as we know him now) started off as a hip-hop hanger-on to New Kids on the Block (his older brother Donnie was a member).  It's energetic, it's fun, and you cannot deny it is catchy.

So c'mon, c'mon.  Feel it! Feel it!

08 October 2013

8 October 2013 - Oh Land - Pyromaniac

When Borders went out of business a couple years ago I had myself a bit of a feeding frenzy when the entire stock of CDs went on sale for 75% off. Among the dozens of records that I bought was the self-titled U.S. debut by Oh Land. It looked interesting. And before you say it, yes, I still judge CDs (and books) by their covers. The album itself was filled with smart and catchy electro-pop tunes sung with a dreamy wonder (almost reminiscent of Regina Spektor, but without the quirky vocal phrasings). Well she (yes, Oh Land is the stage name for Danish singer/songwriter Nanna Øland Fabricius) recently released her latest album Wish Bone which I'm looking forward to checking out, especially after hearing the too cool first single Pyromaniac. Here's the video.

07 October 2013

7 October 2013 - Cobra Starship - Good Girls Go Bad (feat. Leighton Meester)

Their first hit single, featuring a Gossip Girl star (who really did play a good girl gone bad) (and has been here before), Cobra Starship are fun and interesting and exciting.

And clearly have a club complete with a craps table in their industrial freezer.  Why are they giving club goers actual packs of meat?  And how are the cops getting in and still people are able to flee? That's a pretty narrow staircase....

03 October 2013

3 October 2013 - HAIM - The Wire

The hype machine has certainly been working overtime for California indie poppers HAIM. I've been hearing about them for months, which was beyond me since their debut album Days Are Gone came out this Monday (I do see now that they released a couple EPs last year, but how often do bands get so much press for an EP?). Well, I finally caved in earlier this week and checked out a few of their songs. I like them. They sound like a cross between Bananarama and Wilson Phillips . . . or I should say, a hip version of those 80s and 90s hit makers.

02 October 2013

2 October 2013 - Sky Ferreira - You're Not The One

You know what we don't have enough of on this blog?

Young women doing pop/electronic music.

Sky Ferriera is another new artist playing in that genre.  But her music, while clearly electronic. has elements of pure rock.  She's released two EPs of solid material so far, and finally has a full length album coming 29 October.  The first single from this new album is our post today - it's a darkly poppy song with a hard undertone.

By the way, watch the whole video for the really dark and slightly gross ending.

01 October 2013

1 October 2013 - Grouplove - Ways To Go

How is it possible that we haven't done a Grouplove post here at Wicked Guilty Pleasures? I figured one of us would have hit upon their ubiquitous hit Tongue Tied at some point. Nope. I guess it's up to me to once again save the day. I'm used to it.

Grouplove's latest album Spreading Rumours came out a couple weeks ago. I haven't had a chance to listen to yet but I imagine it will be just as effervescent as their debut Never Trust A Happy Song. The first single Ways To Go certainly brings the indie pop joy. The video's kind of kooky too.

30 September 2013

30 September 2013 - Belle and Sebastian - Step Into My Office, Baby

Ah, the ultimate ode to office harassment....

Seriously, this Welsh folky group came up with a creative way to communicate the complexity of inter-office romance, using as many double entendres as possible.  And it's a riot, complete with appropriate horns.

27 September 2013

27 September 2013 - Charli XCX - Superlove

Yesterday - 26 September 2013 - Charli XCX released her new video to YouTube.  And since then, it's been on heavy rotation in my office.  Which mean that, even though I was quite cognizant of the fact that I've posted an awful lot of Charli XCX over the last few months (and Scott posted one, too, but that song was popularly misbilled.....), I knew what I had to do.

It's a public service.

To be fair, it was not expected - the single, the first off her second album, isn't out until 1 December on iTunes (unless it gets moved up like I think it will), and she just released her excellent debut album in April.  But it's just SO GOOD!!!!  Not nearly as dark as anything off the first album - or even as much as "I Love It (I Don't Care)" - yeah, I said it! - she still shows off her electronic pop chops and a love of minor chords.

If I'm being totally honest, Charli XCX is clearly heavily influenced by (onetime collaborator and close friend) Marina and the Diamonds.  Gee, we like that electronic grunge-pop music on here, don't we?

I was serious when I said they collaborated...... Now tell me where Charli stops and Marina starts.  It's hard to tell in parts.

UPDATE: (30 September 2013):  This post has been so hugely popular - about twice as much as any prior - that I added some bonus footage.  Here is Charli performing this song, live.  I was a little surprised to see this already.  The biggest surprise: the performance is from September 20th, a full week before the video was released.

UPDATE: (28 June 2014). Yes, I am updating this post. Because I am, for the time being, denying the existence of "Boom Clap".   And this performance from "The Fault In Our Stars" premiere is brilliant without losing the energy of the song.

26 September 2013

26 September 2013 - Madness - One Step Beyond

Yeah, I know it's 80s Thursday, but I was in the mood for some Madness today and One Step Beyond released in 1979 will always beat out 1982's Our House. So click play, crank it up and start skankin'!

25 September 2013

25 September 2013 - The Bangles - Hero Takes A Fall (and Gilmore Girls)

The Bangles are one of my favorite bands of all time.  Those four women are among the most underrated musicians of all time.  This early song, which isn't as big a hit as some of their others, including ones we might have featured on this blog previously, but it's a fun, off-kilter romp with clever wordplay.

Those of you who don't know me so well are going to be a little surprised by this next statement. Those who do know that I think Gilmore Girls is the greatest television show of all time.  I will argue that point with anyone.  Neatly walked the line between drama and comedy better than any other show in history.  Expertly and complexly developed and imperfect characters.  Lauren Freaking Graham!

Anyway, the Bangles appeared on the show, and performed two songs - this one, and, coincidentally, Eternal Flame. From Season 1, Episode 13.  And yeah.  I just knew that.

By the way, here they are on Letterman performing the song live in 1984.  You know, when music on TV was actually live.

24 September 2013

24 September 2013 - Danielle Bradbery - The Heart of Dixie

Season 5 of The Voice started last night and I got totally sucked in within the first 15 minutes. It's good to see that we're starting to see some "payoff" from the show as Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope is climbing the charts with her first single Wasting All These Tears. I have a feeling Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery will be joining her very soon as her first single Heart of Dixie has recently hit radio and the video was just released yesterday. Check out this refreshing young talent.

23 September 2013

23 September 2013 - Huey Lewis and The News - I Want A New Drug

The story is, this was supposed to be an anti-drug song.  Because NO DRUG could do all this.

The video is a mess.  The story of the video is Huey Lewis racing across San Francisco to get to a concert.  So, why, after racing across San Francisco, does Huey Lewis hop on a ferry in Marin County toward San Francisco? And then catch a helicopter back to Marin County?!

Really, I am probably overthinking that.

The song was a #6 hit for the band in 1984.  And it's still a lot of fun today!  I'm no longer ashamed to admit that I love this song.  Because I was in 1984.

20 September 2013

20 September 2013 - Kylie Minogue - WOW & I Should Be So Lucky & Timebomb

It amazes me how some people who are stars when they are really young - Kylie started acting when she was 11, and recording when she was 18, instantly making hits - can continue to be such huge hitmakers so many years later - Kylie is 45 now.

It amazes me how someone who is such a HUGE star in just about every other country has only had 2 Top 10 hits in the US (2 additional top 40 hits), and neither of them are this, a worldwide hit from 2008.  It's funky, it's danceable, and it lends itself to really good remixes.

It amazes me how much some songs lend themselves so easily to really good remixes.

It amazes me how much Kylie has changed since she was 18.....This song was a US Top 30 hit, but #1 just about everywhere else.

It amazes me that Kylie is still making music. Good electronic dance music.  And she still has time to join the next season of The Voice UK!

19 September 2013

19 September 2013 - Groovie Ghoulies - Running With Bigfoot

I know I usually do an 80s post on Thursdays, but I was in desperate need of a good laugh and this song never fails to cheer me up. So here's Sacramento pop punkers the Groovie Ghoulies and their fun video for Running With Bigfoot off of their World Contact Day album from 1996.

18 September 2013

18 September 2013 - Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball

I know, I know, we did a Miley post not so long ago.  However:

  1. Since that post, Miley twerked all over Robin Thicke.
  2. I'm really lazy, and
  3. Miley really redeeemed herself musically with this song (although she did still see fit to ride a wrecking ball in the nude).
And, in all seriousness, this song is a deep, passionate, well-performed song.  As showy and seemingly out of control that Miley gets, no one can deny that.

17 September 2013

17 September 2013 - INXS - Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)

When I first bought the Listen Like Thieves album in 1985 or 1986, this was instantly my favorite song.  It remains one of my favorites to this day.  The jangly guitar, Michael Hutchence and his powerful vocal.

But what makes this a classic is the sudden tempo change at about 2:15.  It's a completely different song - more urgent.  The new tempo lasts for about a minute and then returns you to the original speed and mood.  It's expertly done, and it's a shame this song wasn't a bigger hit.

16 September 2013

16 September 2013 - Hall & Oates - I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)

Really surprised I hadn't done this one yet, but here we are.

A lot of you know that I had a very good friend growing up.  His name was Mark Whittier.  He was funny, and mostly kind, and sarcastic, and all around a really nice guy.

I believe it was August 31, 1995 that was the last time I spoke with Mark.  I had lost touch with him, and had just recently found him.  Which is good, because I was getting married in a couple of weeks and really wanted to make sure he was not only there, but a part of the wedding (he was going to do a reading).  He asked me to point him to campgrounds in the Rochester, NY area - I, of course, made sure he knew he was staying with me as much as he could.

We talked about music - his favorite artists, Hall & Oates, for sure, and others.  We talked about some experiences we had over the years prior.  He talked about having a flu that he was having trouble shaking, but he thought he would be OK for my wedding. It was a great conversation, a natural conversation.

Those who know Mark know that he passed on September 14th, 1995.  So I am really thankful I had that conversation with him when I did.  I found out September 15th, at my rehearsal dinner - I had gotten word that he was ill and in the hospital previously, so I did find an excellent friend to take his place.  Dan Deyell, thank you - that he had passed away. And on September 16th, I was married.  Mark pretty much had the only acceptable excuse not to show up.  In all seriousness, he was missed by me and by others that day.  And we paid tribute during the ceremony, remembering him.

And so it seems appropriate to me today that I post some Hall and Oates.  Perhaps their most iconic song, but, really, that's not the point today.  Still, great tune.

If you want to read more about the great young man that Mark was, and how he passed, you can check that out here. And please, consider giving to the Wilson Disease Association - the disease that took him from us far, far, far too soon - in Mark's name.

13 September 2013

13 September 2013 - Brooke Candy - Everybody Does

There's so, so many things I could say about this song. I could talk about the tiny little chameleons, most of which I think are CGI, but I cannot confirm.  I could talk about the outrageous outfits and super-long dreadlocks.  I could talk about Brooke Candy's connections to other artists we've featured on this blog.

I could talk about how Wikipedia states that Brooke Candy - her real name, by the way - is best known for appearing in a Grimes video. ("Genesis".  Another day for that song)

Or I could talk about the over-sexualized music and this clearly censored video. And yet, despite the fact that she's talking about clubbing and stripping (she is a former stripper, after all) and having sex, and despite the fact that she's clearly topless in parts of this video.... this video doesn't seem quite as whoreish as it could have.  In fact, this foul-mouthed woman comes off as smart and empowered.

Plus, she's got skills.

12 September 2013

12 August 2013 - Buckner & Garcia - Pac-Man Fever

I'm fairly certain that a song called The Grand Theft Auto Blues would not be a hit in 2013. But if the game existed in the 80s the song would have totally happened, Buckner & Garcia would have written it, and it would have been freakin' awesome. Just try to tell me that The Grand Theft Auto Blues would not have fit in perfectly on an album with Froggy's Lament, Ode to a Centipede, Do the Donkey Kong, Goin' Berzerk, and of course Pac-Man Fever.

11 September 2013

11 September 2013 - Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite

You were thisclose to forgetting this song, right?

Not to worry - this #1 UK single - top 40 in the US - wasn't forgotten by us.  It's a simple song - starts with a jangly guitar, builds with drums, keyboards and Fairlight - with strong references to the moon landing.  The titular satellite, in fact, is the Moon.

So, remember.  And enjoy.

10 September 2013

10 August 2013 - Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do

Sheryl Crow's eighth album Feels Like Home came out today. I'm looking forward to playing it on a long sunny walk this afternoon that will no doubt end up with me visiting my favorite tavern for what I like to call "Office Hours." (*I've since listened to it, and it's up there with her finest albums).

But let's go back to where it all began. The first time I heard her remarkable debut Tuesday Night Music Club I became an instant fan. It's such a perfect summer album that I still play often. I finally got to see her perform about five or six years ago and it was a blast singing along to all of her hits. Well, I'm happy to say I'm going to see Sheryl again next month as I just got tickets to see her in Baltimore for WPOC's annual Girls With Guitars benefit show along with Jennifer Nettles, Kellie Pickler and Cassadee Pope. I'm thinking there's a pretty good chance that Sheryl will play this classic.


You can see the first video from Feels Like Home right here.

09 September 2013

9 September 2013 - The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name

Katie.  Her name is Katie.

And this song by 2 people is a lot of fun.  I love two piece bands, and maybe the Ting Tings most of all.  They keep the energy high, the beat strong, and the names unknown.  In fact, even though there is a little musical accompaniment, the song is mostly bass drum and vocal, with Katie harmonizing with herself at points.

06 September 2013

6 September 2013 - Ashlee Simpson - L.O.V.E.

It's been a good week.  You've been very good to this blog.  You've earned yourself some Ashlee Simpson.

You know, for someone who lived in the shadow of her supposedly prettier (whatever), more talented (not true), bigger hitmaker (who actually had exactly as many top 10 hits as her), reality show (who had exactly as many MTV reality shows as her sister (we aren't counting Fashion Star)) acting superstar (Big deal. Jessica did "The Dukes of Hazzard" terrible piece of crap movie. Ashlee was on "Melrose Place" and "7th Heaven"!), we think Ashlee's done pretty well for herself.   Besides, we aren't putting any Jessica Simpson on here..... yet.

So let's listen to the slightly funky Gwen Stefani influence in this song, a minor hit in 2005, and celebrate the great talent that is Ashlee Simpson.

Trust me.  This isn't the last time we're featuring Ms. Simpson on here.

05 September 2013

5 September 2013 - 808 State (featuring Bjork) - Oops

Believe it or not I used to actually like electronic music in the 90s and Manchester's 808 State were one of my favorites. I saw them live twice when they toured for their fourth album Gorgeous in 1993 (one show they opened for New Order and the other they opened for Meat Beat Manifesto). Sadly, I never saw them play my favorite song Oops, which featured vocals by Bjork, but I'm equally relieved that bands back in the day had the sense not to play a tacky video of the not present vocalist which is all the rage these days . . . well that and holograms. OK, maybe a Bjork hologram would be cool. Or not. I really don't know. Just watch the video.

04 September 2013

4 September 2013 - Nu Shooz - I Can't Wait

This remix was a hit for one hit wonders Nu Shooz in 1986, and a boon for Casio keyboards everywhere.

And now the song is stuck in your head, too.  You're welcome.

Seriously, this is a song that has always made me smile, and I hope it does the same for you.

Did you know that Nu Shooz were actually a husband and wife team?  And that they're still together? Here they are, performing the song live, and still sounding great and happy and upbeat.

03 September 2013

3 September 2013 - One Direction - Best Song Ever

The 2013 VMA Award Winner for Song of the Summer.  And this angered a lot of people.  I don't understand why.  And so, I am going to embark upon my defense of One Direction.

When I was a kid, we had boy bands.  Specifically, we had a singing group named New Kids on The Block.  Those five kids from Boston made boy bands a little cool.  The next generation of kids had N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees and Take That and a whole bunch of boy bands that will probably all be featured on this blog sometime.

These boy bands all had two things in common.  First of all, they were made up of a bunch of mates who harmonized well together, VOCALLY, but were primarily vocal groups.  Second, they sang nice, quiet, sanitized pop songs, with little variation.

These five guys who just barely beat Cher Lloyd on X Factor (she came in 4th, they came in 3rd) have become a huge worldwide sensation, for real.  But they did it a little differently than boy bands that came before.  There's a pop sensibility -sure - but these guys clearly have a stronger rock influence than the boy bands that came before them. I'm not saying they're AC/DC here, but there is more of an edge than we've seen before.

More to the point, though - these guys are five very powerful vocalists who advanced on X Factor as soloists in their own right.  And some of them even played and play instruments.  They aren't just a vocal group.  They've got musical talent.

I mean, there's no doubt they were a little manufactured by Simon Cowell.  But they've grown much better than that.

And if you doubt my claim on them playing instruments.... well, here they are, some of them with instruments.  That they are actually playing.

Now that you've seen this, go over to Totally Covered and check out a cover by these guys.

02 September 2013

2 September 2013 - Grimes - Oblivion

My path to discovering this artist, who has been around for a few years, is a bit of a convoluted one.  You see, this post started off life as a post by another artist.  That artist's name is Brooke Candy.  She's quite the character, with long pink dreadlocks, a wild wardrobe, and a foul mouth.   And, in my research about her, I found out that she is best known for appearing in a video by Grimes.

Well, that got me thinking - who is Grimes?  And I checked out that video - the song is called "Genesis", and it's a decent song in its own right, but it's not the song we're posting today - and it was good.  Then I found out she was signed to 4AD Records.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a 4AD junkie.  (There's a special post coming someday dedicated just to that record label.  But that's for another day)

That got me investigating more music by Grimes, and it led me to our song today.  Born Claire Boucher, and raised in Vancouver, meet your 2013 Juno Award winner for Electronic Album of the Year.  This video was filmed at McGill University, in Montreal, where the artist attended. And yes, this is a real football game and a real motocross exhibition, where she's walking around with headphones and a keyboard and singing.

And now that you've enjoyed Grimes, check out Totally Covered today for an acoustic version of this song by Franz Ferdiannd

(Update: 10 Jan 2014): I had the song stuck in my head.  So here's a live version.

30 August 2013

30 August 2013 - Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness

August is ending.  School is starting again.  So why not a super depressing song to end the summer?!

That would be the end of this post, except this song has become kind of a big hit.... because it's kind of good and deep and beautifully done.  Sure, we are still talking about Lana Del Rey's Saturday Night Live debacle (which I think was overblown, but that's opinion), but this song.... so stirring.

As of this writing, this song, at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, is Ms. Del Rey's biggest hit to date.

To be fair, it is this remixed version by Cedric Gervais that has been getting all the airplay.... it's kind of a depressing song to get a lot of club airplay, and yet that's exactly what has happened.

29 August 2013

29 August 2013 - The B-52's - Rock Lobster

Yeah, I could have easily posted the campy original Rock Lobster video by The B-52's, but this even campier "live" in-studio performance from Countdown is WAY better. I've watched this video three times today and I still can't stop laughing . . . Man, I'd kill for Fred Schneider's mad dance skills.

Five years ago I saw The B-52's in Virginia Beach on the beach. This weekend I get to see Daughtry at the same venue. Not quite the same now is it?

28 August 2013

28 August 2013 - Cher Lloyd - Swagger Jagger

I don't quite know what it is about this song that makes me freaking love it so much.  Perhaps it is the bravado that this young woman practically bleeds with every note.  Perhaps it's because Cher Lloyd is so very clearly under the influence of the X Factor producers for this clearly overproduced song..... which, amazingly, doesn't make it a bad song.  Maybe it's the nod and wink to "Oh My Darling Clemetine" that the chorus of this song clearly takes.

Oh, and there is the fact that it was used in a milk commercial..... I think that must be it.

(By the way, you'll want to check out our prior Cher Lloyd post, which we updated today, too)

27 August 2013

27 August 2013 - Eve 6 - Inside Out

Every Labor Day weekend the Mrs. and I head down to Virginia Beach for an extra long weekend. We hit the same bars and restaurants we like, my wife runs the half marathon and there's the American Music Festival, which is why I started going.

The festival has concerts every night on seven stages (the main-stage is on the beach and there are six free side stages near the boardwalk). Over the years I've seen some great bands there: The B-52s, Cheap Trick, Soul Asylum, Billy Idol, ZZ Top, Bret Michaels, Southern Culture On The Skids, Joan Jett, Train, Jamey Johnson, Warrant (one of Jani Lane's last shows before getting kicked out of the band), and dozens of others. Beer is cheap and the money goes to local charities. It's always a fun time.

Well this year it's going to take A LOT of beer because the line-up is to put it kindly -- a crapfest. The main-stage looks like this: Fuel/Daughtry on Friday, Smash Mouth/Barenaked Ladies on Saturday and Third Eye Blind on Sunday. Sounds like a killer festival . . . 15 years ago. The free stages are no better. On Saturday I have the option of seeing Eve 6/Sugar Ray. OR Eve 6 and then walk 5 blocks to see Modern English. Or say "screw it," find a bar and watch Georgia vs. Clemson. It's almost a no-brainer. Anyway here's the "Tender Heart in a Blender" song by Eve 6. I'm sorry.

26 August 2013

26 August 2013 - P!nk - True Love (featuring Lily Allen (Lily Rose Cooper?))

We haven't done a Hall of Famer in awhile, have we?  No, we haven't.  We really should.  In the meantime, enjoy the latest single by our last HoF honoree, P!nk, who duets with potential future HoF honoree and co-author Lily Allen (who we featured on Friday).

Except that Lily Allen had changed her professional name to her real (married) name, Lily Rose Cooper (why she added the middle name I don't know), so my confusion was in the billing of this song, which clearly uses the old professional name.  So, when Mrs. Cooper's new album finally drops... who knows who it will be billed to.

But I digress.  This song is brilliantly and darkly crafted, and speaks to what a real relationship might look like in Pink's world... Plus, it stars her kid.  And Carey Hart.  And a bunch of toys from Ikea.  And Lily... whoever she is.... with a blender and a knife.  Despite the darkness of the song, it's generally happy and enjoyable, and not as dark as a couple of her recent hits.

23 August 2013

23 August 2013 - Lily Allen - LDN

It is unbelievable to me that I haven't posted this yet.  It's a chipper-sounding song, but lyrically really dark.  And it's one of my favorite songs of all time.   And it's a song my eight year old daughter knows, word for word.

A "love song" to London, of sorts, it's a catchy pop achievement, with great beats and catchy horns.
This version of the video is version 2, which matches well with the lyrics.... where Ms. Allen sees a rosy London but a darker version of the city appears behind her - right down to the old lady being hit over the head by the kid seeking her jewelry and wallet.

It's important to note that Lily Allen is asking for her own album in the record store in the beginning of the video.  All the terms she used were ones used to describe her debut, Alright, Still....

Sadly, Version 1, which is also pretty cool, only shows the nice side of London. Filmed on a shoestring budget, it follows our intrepid artist around London on a bicycle, in fast forward.  And it's all rosy - no crack whores to be found.  Still, it's a fun video.

22 August 2013

22 August 2013 - KISS - Heaven's On Fire

. . . And for no particular reason, here's the video for Heaven's On Fire by KISS.
Party on!

21 August 2013

21 August 2013 - Coldplay - Clocks (with a Röyksopp bonus)

I cannot f&*%ing stand Coldplay.

Except for this song.  A classic. Simple.  Sparse. Piano-based.  Moderately nonsensical.  And instantly recognizable. Even when covered by others.

So what drove me to post this today?  This remix, by Röyksopp, which I recently discovered.  It's almost like it's a different song from a different era.  And perhaps it is the timeless quality of Coldplay's one decent song that makes this work.

20 August 2013

20 August 2013 - Lady Gaga - Applause

I finally checked out the new Lady Gaga song Applause and it's out-there and might I add very cool video. I just have one question: Did I dream about all of the recent online angst about the song? Did that happen? Because Applause sure seems like a winner to me. I'd even call it one of her finest songs and she's already written a ton of them in her short career. I'm even detecting for the first time a small trace of Siouxsie Sioux in her voice which I never really picked up on before (not saying it's intentional or not, just kind of an odd observation). Anyway, her new full-length ARTPOP comes out in November . . . it's going to be a long wait for this guy.

19 August 2013

19 August 2013 - Robin Thicke (featuring T.I. and Pharrell - Blurred Lines



OK, OK, OK..... that may have been a little bit of an exaggeration.  However, this is one of the most requested songs we've ever had.  And, to be fair, it took awhile to grow on me, even though I was already a fan of Alan's son - this is his third appearance on this blog (here as a tandem with Walter Murphy, and here as 1/2 of a surprisingly compelling duet with a Gossip Girl star).

But this song - there's something about it.  It's paced differently than a typical pop song.  It's much sparser than a song you'd expect to hear on pop radio.  Lyrically, it's racy - some have called it slightly rape-y - and pushes the limits of what one might expect to hear on the radio.

Of course, the song famously has two videos, one of which is marginally safe for work (and the other which is completely NSFW, but look after the jump for that one).

Interesting side note: despite my earlier statements about the originality of the work..... Robin Thicke and his people are suing Marvin Gaye's estate and the rightsholders of Funkadelic songs.... because those parties are both claiming that this song ripped them off.  The case was filed to preempt a potential copyright claim.  In my opinion, this song - the Marvin Gaye song "Got To Give It Up (Part 1)" has a similar, but not nearly identical, sound.   "Blurred Lines" is evocative without completely lifting the tune.

16 August 2013

16 August 2013 - Charli XCX - What I Like

This post is 100% pandering.

You see, THIS POST is the 2nd biggest one we've ever had.... by far.  And if you want my opinion, it's for good reason - Charli XCX is a fantastic talent.  If the year were to end today, her True Romance album would be my hands-down pick for Album of the Year.  I honestly think she's going to get some Grammy love for her hand in writing "I Love It (I Don't Care)."

But let's talk about this video.  It feels a little gratuitously jailbait-y to me.  The song is actually quite a sweet love song, and more mature than a woman who JUST turned 21 two weeks ago (and therefore, this one was written when she was in her teens) should be writing.  But this video.... I feel like I shouldn't be watching this....

15 August 2013

15 August 2013 - David J - I'll Be Your Chauffeur

Well here's a song that I haven't thought about in very LONG time. I'll Be Your Chauffeur by David J (Love & Rockets and Bauhaus) was the lead single of his third solo album Songs For Another Season, which I probably still have on tape somewhere in my basement. I'm not sure if this was a popular thought back in the day, but I actually preferred David's solo work to his Love & Rockets/Bauhaus cohort Daniel Ash. But then again, neither compared to Peter Murphy's (Bauhaus) solo work.

14 August 2013

14 August 2013 - Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop

Scott told me yesterday that he was waiting for my post about this song. Well, here it is.

This is quite possibly the most disturbing video I've ever seen.  I mean, what's up with the french fry skull? And the giant stuffed bears? Making out with the giant Barbie doll in the pool?  Eating dollar bills? Cutting off fingers and bleeding Pepto Bismol? All that damn twerking? Pick your favorite disturbing imagery, I guess.

Now, close your eyes and just listen to the song.  The song - which is pretty clearly a party anthem - isn't really all that far off lyrically from her Hannah Montana days (albeit a little more hedonistic).  But the performance is mature and passionate and subtle.  Little Miley has truly grown up, and it's not a bad thing.

Even more disturbing?  The Director's Cut! Well, really, it's just different disturbing stuff..... It's a slightly different mix of the song.  I mean, I don't really see how it's a director's cut, but hey!  It's just Miley being Miley.

OK, if you really can't get past the video.... here's a live performance.  Trust me.  It's a solid song.

13 August 2013

13 August 2013 - Men At Work - Down Under

It's a shame bands today don't make goofy videos like they did in the 80s (work with me here and pretend Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup video never happened). Don't get me wrong, Men At Work had some great songs, but I seriously doubt they would have been as huge as they were if it wasn't for their off-the-wall kookiness in their videos.

12 August 2013

12 August 2013 - Missing Persons - Destination Unknown

Little known fact: even though MTV played their videos a lot - including the one we're featuring today - Missing Persons never had a Top 40 hit in the US.  This song made it to #42 on the Billboard Hot 100, but wasn't a big hit.

And yet, their songs and videos endure.  Everyone remembers Dale Bozzio's fishbowl bra.  But this keyboard/drum driven sound, complemented with Dale's quirky, emotive vocal, draws me in every time, more so than her boobs under clear acrylic.

They're back together, too.  And Dale - who co-wrote the song - calls it one of her favorites.   Mine, too, Dale.  Mine, too.

08 August 2013

8 August 2013 - Electronic - Feel Every Beat

It’s kind of hard to believe that a band featuring members of New Order, The Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys could be considered a guilty pleasure, but here we are. I actually liked Electronic back in the day, but their debut album sounds really dated in 2013, especially on the songs that New Order’s Bernard Sumner “raps.” I thought that kind of thing was sort of cool at the time, but now . . . eh, not so much. Anyway, it’s still fun to check out those tunes again. Here’s the video for Feel Every Beat.

07 August 2013

7 August 2013 - R.E.M. - Stand / Throwing Muses - Dizzy

A odd pairing of songs for this post?  Not really.  Let me explain.

In September 1989, Mark Whittier and I went to see R.E.M. at the Hartford Civic Center.  It was my first concert.  They opened the show with this song.  And a lot of people left right after.  Which I thought was odd.  It ended up being a great show.  A GREAT show.  We had a fantastic time.

There was a time I was really sick of this song.   But I don't know why.  It's a great pop/rock song, no matter how much airplay it got in 1989.  And it got a LOT of airplay in 1989!

Actually.... this is pretty much how I remember it.

Those who know me know I really went to see the opening act, Throwing Muses. They were, and remain to this day, my favorite band.  And they were really awesome live.  I also saw them in 1995, in Northampton, MA. And like 1989, I knew the only way to get people into a Throwing Muses song was to entice them with R.E.M.  However, I can safely say I have gotten a lot of people into this great, underrated band,  Give them a chance.  You won't be disappointed.

(Also, Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe did do a little duet together later.... which was a bigger hit than anything Throwing Muses ever did)

And actually.... this is pretty much how I remember it.

06 August 2013

6 August 2013 - Morcheeba - Trigger Hippie

I saw Morcheeba at a music festival shortly after their second album came out in the late 90s. I have no idea which festival though. Could be Lilith Fair. Or maybe it was a radio station show. It doesn't really matter. I do remember that they had a very cool trip-hop/jazz vibe to them so I picked up both of their albums (at the time) shortly after the show. This video is from their first album Who Can You Trust?.

05 August 2013

5 August 2013 - The Dandy Warhols - Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth

By now, you probably know that I love a song with a good title.  There's a reason for that.  These songs are usually lyrically complex and interesting, the songs constructed brilliantly around these lyrics.  

Take this 1998 song by MTV darlings The Dandy Warhols.  This straight-ahead pop-rock song so deeply and smoothly moves from Verse 1 to chorus to Verse 2 to chorus to bridge to chorus.  The (video) performance by the band is very emotionless, even with the excitement and chaos of the video around them and the gratuitous shots of a seemingly ambivilent Zia McCabe.
Now, let's talk about the title for a moment.  This is one of those songs in which the title is frequently misquoted.  The song is not called "Heroin is So Passe", contrary to popular belief.  It was a song written for a friend of theirs - an appeal of sorts.

As an added bonus, here is the band performing the song live in 2012.  It's important to note that this is the original lineup - they are still together.  And they are still rockin' this song!

02 August 2013

2 August 2013 - Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks

For weeks, I heard this song.   I found it annoying.  I found it even more annoying that I didn't know who it was.

And then it kept eating at me.  Why is this song stuck in my head and who the hell is performing it?  It was driving me batty.

So I pulled out Soundhound one day.  Usually, that app is brilliant, but on this day, it was failing me.  

And finally, on the third try, one of my co-workers walked by.  And said just four words.

"Of Monsters and Men."


Anyway, it's a sweet song that probably wouldn't be getting as much airplay as it does if not for the Mumford and Sons effect - atypical pop song, horns - but it's a good thing that it does.  It's a real gem that I no longer find annoying.  And I hope you don't, either.

01 August 2013

1 August 2013 - Hoodoo Gurus - Come Anytime

I learned two things while "researching" this post: The Hoodoo Gurus are Australian AND they are still playing together. Not that it matters one way or another, but I always thought they were from the mid-west (clearly, I had the Violent Femmes on the brain). As for the second lesson, good for them, they were always a lot of fun. Here's one of their more well-known songs from 1989's Magnum Cum Louder.

31 July 2013

31 July 2013 - Concrete Blonde - God Is A Bullet

From their 2nd album, which was a comeback of sorts, here is what I consider to be the high water mark of Concrete Blonde's tenure. Johnette Napolitano's growl matches the dark subject matter of this song, which is, pretty apparently, an indictment of gun violence.

30 July 2013

30 July 2013 - The Pipettes - Pull Shapes and Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me

I went all kinds of bonkers for The Pipettes debut album We Are The Pipettes when it came out. That record was a ridiculously fun explosion of 50s-style girl group goodness. This is probably their "biggest" hit. Just try not dancing around the room like a maniac when you hear it.

I couldn't choose just one video so here's Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me.

Wicked Guilty Pleasure? More Like Wicked Awesome Dance Party!

26 July 2013

26 July 2013 - Billy Squier - Everybody Wants You

When it came to early 1980's MTV-era hard rock, no one beat Billy Squier.  Sure, it's not Thursday, but what a great day to play some early 1980's MTV-era hard rock.  Enjoy.

25 July 2013

25 July 2013 - Natalia Kills - Problem

I thought Natalia Kills 2011 debut album was a pretty rad slice of sytnthpop with just enough edge to it to make it cool. But while I liked Perfectionist, it never really found its way into my "heavy rotation." Well Problem, the first single off her upcoming album Trouble, won't suffer from such a fate. It's killer industrial rhythms and punchy vocals make it a can't miss summer smash. Oh, by the way, it's hot as hell and I thought that way well before I saw the video . . . be warned, it's a bit racy.

23 July 2013

23 July 2013 - Hunter Hayes - I Want Crazy

Quite frankly I've been all over the map when it comes to super-talented country singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes. I really liked the 21-year-old's first single, the up-tempo and clever Storm Warning, but quickly turned on him with the boyband-worthy ballad Wanted (his first No. 1...of course). By the time his third single Somebody's Heartbreak came out I was ambivalent at first, but started to lighten up to the point where I actually kind of like it. As I said, the kid is super-talented. He plays a ton of instruments and writes his own music so I can see the potential, even when I don't like every song.

That brings us to the most recent single, I Want Crazy. Damn. This song is ridiculously catchy due in part to great lyrics co-penned by the magnificent Lori McKenna and the rolling mandolin playing throughout the song. Oh, and I really like this video too.

22 July 2013

22 July 2013 - Blur - Song 2 / Ke$ha - Woo Hoo


Even if you don't know the name of this song, or the band, you know this song.  It's fun and energetic and practically SCREAMS mid-90's shoegazing alternative music.

But why such a lousy title?

Well, it was a working title that stuck.  However, it was the 2nd track on Blur's 5th album, and also appears as the 2nd track on Blur's greatest hits album.  The song has 2 verses and two choruses.  And the running length of the song?  2:02.

You might remember we have mentioned "Song 2" previously on this post about a Big Time Rush song. That song did not sample "Song 2", as it turns out.  It did sample Ke$ha's song "Woo Hoo", which sampled "Song 2". Here's that song, here, as a bonus.

19 July 2013

19 July 2013 - Pete Droge - If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)

One of the sweetest and most romantic songs to ever contain a suicide threat....

This song appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Dumb and Dumber. A lot of people loved that movie.  I did not love that movie.  I do love the soundtrack, thought.  The song, by singer/songwriter Pete Droge, is one of the best on a great soundtrack.  (It also appears on his fine album Necktie Second).

And really..... it is a sweet and romantic song.  Even if Pete does threaten to kill himself.

18 July 2013

18 July 2013 - Dressy Bessy - Lipstick 2013

While looking for a Dressy Bessy video to post today I got really excited coming across this one with 2013 in the title. There hasn't been a new album by this ridiculously fun Denver indie rock band since 2008. So I settled in, hit play, and then realized it was a rework of one of their early singles. Bummer (don't worry though, the song is aces, I was just hoping for new music). Curious though, I went to their website and found out that they will have a new album out next year. Cannot wait!

17 July 2013

17 July 2013 - Imperial Teen - You're One / Yoo Hoo / Shim Sham

I know what 90% of you are thinking.   Who the hell is Imperial Teen? And why the hell are they a guilty pleasure?

Imperial Teen is a veritable supergroup, featuring members of The Wrecks, Sister Double Happiness, and Faith No More.  They're all multiinstrumental (frequently switching instruments mid-show) and they all sing, making four part boy/girl harmonies possible.  

Take this first song, their first single (which MTV mistitled).  A song about Kurt Cobain, written in the wake of his death.  Notice how three of the four members are singing (Lynn Truell stick to drums in this case), making for a beautiful, densely-layered song.

This next song, from the Jawbreaker soundtrack and featuring a video starring Rose McGowan, showcases a four-part harmony and a different sound.  The breathy backing adds almost another instrument and definitely another dimension to a maturing band.

A little more recently, we have the four part harmonies going.... but with the previously silent Lynn Truell on lead.  This song, one of my favorites by any band, is a bit nosier than the prior ones.  Which might be why I like these guys so much - they're so versatile, and still sound like themselves.  And they're not afraid to grow.