22 September 2021

22 September 2021 - Fugazi - Waiting Room

This is probably Fugazi's best known song.  The band's debut single is an absolute classic, still remembered fondly more than 30 years after its initial release.  

Written by Ian MacKaye about not making the same mistakes he made with his previous band, Embrace (you hear it now, don't you), it combines elements of punk, ska, and straight ahead rock.  Fugazi helped define the Washington DC hardcore scene of the 80s and 90s, with this song being a major reason for that.  

21 September 2021

21 September 2021 - Foo Fighters - Big Me

Look, sometimes, the post is about the song - and this one, an early single by Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana band is certainly a gem in and of itself.  It's a lighthearted pop-rock song, and a top 20 hit in the US at that.

But c'mon.  This post is all about this video.  It's a huge Mentos commercial parody, and a damned near perfect one at that.  

To compare, here's the 2nd commerical they parody.

And here's the first.

The band certainly played this fun and happy song live, but they stopped for a while.  If you watched this live video, you can probably understand why, as many rolls of Mentos are thrown on stage.  I don't know if you've ever had a roll of Mentos thrown at you, but they hurt.

They do perform it now, probably because people don't get the reference anymore.

20 September 2021

20 September 2021 - Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - Mama Help Me

In 1990, it was time for Edie Brickell & New Bohemians to release their second album, Ghost of a Dog. Their debut album, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, was a blockbuster, but also, that put a lot of pressure on the band to follow up that unexpectedly successful album.

Which, in my opinion, they did brilliantly. I personally think the 2nd album was better than the 1st.  Unfortunately, it didn't sell nearly as well, and ended up, at least temporarily, breaking up the band.     

This song was the lead single from the 2nd album, and while it got a fair bit of MTV airplay, it didn't lead to a whole lot more than that.  Still, the song is complex and interesting, grabbing your ears tightly and not letting go.  It remains one of my favorites to this day.  

Note:  This song had previously been posted in 2012 - as part of a larger post.  It's important enough that it deserves its own treatment.

17 September 2021

17 September 2021 - Louane - Game Girl

For once, I didn't need a special character for French words.   

You see, this song was commissed by The Pokémon Company to commemorate 25 years of  Pokémon.  Why?  Because Louane fit the fun image of Pokémon - in the words of Colin Palmer, vice president of marketing for The Pokémon Company International
“Louane is an exciting addition to the growing roster of talented artists from around the world helping us celebrate 25 years of Pokémon. Game Girl,’ with its French and English lyrics, is not only an amazing pop anthem for Pokémon Trainers, but also represents the global resonance of Pokémon with international fans.” 
And, Louane - real name Anne Peichert - grew up playing the game.  She did write this lighthearted, lovely pop song expressly for the occasion of the anniversary, with bilingual lyrics, both of which she sings without foreign accent in either, which takes talent.  The song's title is clearly a play on the Nintendo Game Boy, for which several Pokémon games were quite popular. 

The song will be included on Pokémon 25: The Album, released worldwide in October, so hopefully Louane will get some deserved attention outside of France, where she is a superstar.  

16 September 2021

16 September 2021 - Cats On Trees - Sirens Call

"Sirens Call" was the 2013 debut single by Toulouse, France duo Cats On Trees, and it's a delight.  

It's also their biggest hit to date, a top 5 hit in both Belgium and their native France.

The duo consists of Nina Goern, on vocals and piano, and Yohan Hennequin, on drums.  The two of them take those instruments to the fullest, filling all the aural space with their music.  Lyrically, it's in English, but passionate and longing.  

It is very tempting to think that a duo might be resorting to studio tricks to give their song such a rich sound.  Here they are, live in 2014, proving that they are not doing that.  They are just that talented.  

15 September 2021

15 September 2021 - Lilly Wood And The Prick - Middle Of The Night

"But this song is in English?!"

Yep.  It is.  Lilly Wood and the Prick are definitely French, but they perform primarily in English.  

"But I thought this was artists you discovered because that French Canadian woman you constantly post about is in heavy rotation.  However, you've posted Lilly Wood and the Prick before."

Yes, yes I have.  Thanks for reading.   However, you may recall that post was mostly about Robin Schulz.  This one isn't. This post is about a band that keeps getting suggested to me, and not about a Robin Schulz remix (although, to be completely fair, that song is included in the suggestions).  

Can I get on with it, please?

Thank you.

Lilly Wood and the Prick are a folk duo formed in France.  Neither of them is named Lilly Wood.  They got together in 2006 to be a songwriting duo, and ended up making a lot of great music.  Their first big hit was their first single - "Prayer In C" (see above link) - released two years prior to this, but their biggest and best known hit worldwide - "Prayer In C" (see above link.  I explain it all there) - was yet to come.  

By the time they released this song, a minor hit for them, in 2012, they had migrated a bit from the folk sound and branched out into a more disco sound.  It worked for them here, and it continued to work for them.  

14 September 2021

14 September 2021 - Hoshi - Et même après je t'aimerai

Happy birthday to Mathilde Gerner, who turns 25 today.  

Who is Mathilde Gerner?  She is the French singer better known by her stage name, Hoshi.  But you probably guessed that already.  

So named because of her love of Japanese culture, Hoshi writes and performs songs with deep and complex emotion. She's been part of the music scene in France for a decade, between reality music competitions, street music, and finally recording her own music on her own terms.  

She's an underappreciated gem, and thanks to Spotify for pointing her out to me. 

13 September 2021

13 September 2021 - Kyo - Mon époque

I'm just going to put it out there.  

Spotify has noticed whose music I'm playing lately.  And they're suggesting other music I might like.  Not surprisingly, all of these suggestions are in French.  Some of them are old.  Some of them are new.  Some of them are Vanessa ParadisSome of them require me to figure out how to type special characters because I stubbornly refuse to separate the O from the E..

So, this week, I decided to share it all with you.  So, without further ado, music I've discovered solely because Cœur de Pirate is in heavy rotation.

We start with Kyo, a group of French guys who shared a love of American grunge and decided to make a band out of it.  They formed in the early 2000's, took an extended hiatus, and have now come back.  This is their latest single, and it is a banger.  The opening rift is a clear lookback to "Lithium", with the rest of the song hitting some 90's alternative vibes.  Lyrically, it's something of a sad and painful song, with the sentiment "Je ne veux pas rester seul" - I don't want to be alone - repeated throughout.

It was a little cruel of me to start with this song, because the video is actually Chapter 2 in a story.  You would have met the characters in Chapter 1.  I'll have to post that sometime.   

10 September 2021

10 September 2021 - Maria McKee - To Miss Someone & I've Forgotten What It Was In You (That Put The Need In Me)

Imagine 17 year old me, rushing to the record store on the day that Maria McKee released her first solo album.  

Yes, this is what I was listening to as a teenager.  And that album was really the third Lone Justice album - with a lot of the same personnel.  I was a huge Lone Justice fan (still am).  So, I had high expectations of this, and it did not let me down.  The first two songs were a heck of a one-two punch.  This was the 2nd single and 2nd track.  It was a slower, but beautiful and emotion-filled song. 

But that first track - I think I wore my cassette out on this track.  It was the powerhouse vocal I had come to expect from Maria McKee.  There is no video for this song that I could find, but I couldn't not share it, because it's spectacular - right from the first guitar that predated "Laid" by James by several years.   The song just builds and builds, and showcases McKee's vocal range throughout.   

09 September 2021

9 September 2021 - Cœur de Pirate - On s'aimera toujours

I held out as long as I could.

Literally.  This song has been out for a WEEK.  It was a midnight release on September 2nd, and I had listened to it no less than 30 times by 2am.   I even tweeted about it.
If you had asked me in February if the term "la chanson française" was going to be used more than once on this blog in 2021, I would have said you were crazy.  And yet, here I am, copying and pasting that damn œ for like the fifth time this year.  (I went back and looked.  It's the seventh time, which might even beat my Charli XCX rate of posting).  

But now I am going to tell you why this one is different and it has absolutely nothing to do with Béatrice Martin's pregnancy.  You see, I started down this journey into francophone music near the end of February, when I really wanted to find an artist that sang in French who was also Canadian to feature in my little #MapleLeafMarch thing.  And, I stumbled about this one accidentally - when I was researching another post by another artist that I'll gush over another day - and did a deeper dive. 

What I found was an incredibly complex artist that had a foot in the modern world and another in a classic French music world.  Her entire catalog was spectacular and unlike anything I had ever heard - a lot of piano, for sure, and a lot of words I did not understand.  In fact, French had been a language that completely baffled me, despite my background in romance languages.  

During this deep dive, some new music was released, literally all of which has been covered on this blog.  It's all been exceptional.  

Then came September 2nd, and a new song was released, and I was excited to hear it.  What I heard, however....  it was far far far more than I expected.  You see, in a life, there are songs you may hear that just make you stop and remember where you are.  These are songs that you can hear over and over again, and never get sick of them. They are songs that change the way you look at music forever.  

I've had that feeling a few times in my life, and I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard each one of them.  From the disco-tinged opening violin strains of this song, to the very last "tremble", this song had me.  I urge you to listen to this song.  You are going to forget it's entirely in French.  

The video was recorded in Lachine, QC, Canada, at the famous lighthouse there, and no, none of those balloons went in the water.  It also looks to me like it was done in one take, without edits, but I have no proof of that.

(Update: 9 September): Since I wrote this, literally today, her new album Impossible à aimer was announced, including this song, to be released October 15th.  

08 September 2021

8 September 2021 - Cyndi Lauper - She Bop

12 year old me did not know this song was about female masturbation.  I just knew that I loved the song.  And yet this song was on the PMRC's "Filthiest 15" list of truly filthy, filthy songs.  That's right.  The "Parental Advisory" sticker on some albums is largely due to this song.  

It was, despite that, a huge hit song.  And why wouldn't it be?  It's darned catchy.  The video, which is probably part of the song's overall appeal, is considerably more wholesome than this filthy, filthy song. 

Is it more obviously filthy in its acoustic version?  Maybe.   It's more obvious to me that I should have realized what the song was about at 12.  

07 September 2021

7 September 2021 - Dire Straits - Money For Nothing

I seriously, SERIOUSLY debated whether or not to post this song.  The 2nd verse, in a modern era, is really troubling.  Indeed, the Canadian Broadcast Services Council has banned the song in an unedited form, because of that lyric.  And I don't really disagree with that decision.  

In context, I decided to do it.  Here's why:  

1) the narrator of the song is intended to be an ignorant man.  The use of that one slur IS intentional, and not complementary to the narrator. Mark Knopfler intentionally wrote an ignorant character you are supposed to despise.  

2) from a historical standpoint, coming four years after the advent of MTV, it was the first big hit song to acknowledge that channel's influence.

3) MTV still uses Sting's "I Want My MTV" that he sang for this song in their promotional materials.  

4) I wanted to illustrate how far we have come as a society since 1985.  That slur was just casually tossed about in the 1980s - and today, it's horrifying to hear.  

Forgetting that lyric for a moment, the song itself is great, combining the 80s synth sound with some terrific guitar work.  The song itself is a gem, the video iconic.  

06 September 2021

6 September 2021 - GTR - When The Heart Rules The Mind

What happens when a couple of prog-rock veteran guitarists get together and make a straight-ahead rock album?  Well, that's what Steve Howe of Yes and Steve Hackett of Genesis did when they got together and formed GTR.   

The project was short-lived, but yielded one pretty good album.  Also featuring Jonathan Mover from Marillion on drums and Max Bacon on vocals, it was quite the superproject.  This was their debut single and went to #14 in 1986.  The band fell apart when their studio sound - sans keyboards (because Steve Howe was sick of that sound from his time in Asia) - didn't work live.  

But let's go back to this song.  It's a standard 80's rock song - less prog, more straightahead - but that doesn't make it bad.  It's a good song.  Co-written by Hackett and Howe, and produced by another Yes/Asia alum, Geoff Downes, it's a song that sounds dated and yet still present.  

03 September 2021

3 September 2021 - Mary's Danish - Underwater

It is rare that I can share one of my favorite songs of all time, by one of my favorite bands of all time.  I know that's not true, but just listen.  Then I'll talk about it.  The song is that good.

Mary's Danish was a LA band that released three studio albums and a live EP.  Yes, I own all of them.  This is from their last, 1992's American Standard. The band was short-lived, which is odd (and completely the fault of their record label, Morgan Creek), because the dual lead vocals from Gretchen Seager and Julie Ritter were legendary - they didn't both sing lead on EVERY song, as their voices tended to hit different styles - Grethen tended towards the harder pop/rock songs, whereas Julie had a bit of a twang that lent itself to a folksier/bluesier sound - but they sure did on this one.  Guitarist David King passed away this summer, so they are unlikely to reform again.  

But they left behind many versions of this song. Take this one, a B-side to this very single.  It's an alternate take that some call "acoustic" but was probably the demo.


The band made the rounds of the late night talk shows, and performed this song many times.   Let's start with Leno.  The Tonight Show was recorded in the band's hometown Los Angeles, and boy, did Jay ever look uncomfortable introducing them.... 

Get out of here with your Burbank propaganda.

Next, we go to Letterman.  Dave was far more comfortable introducing them.  I know that because I watched it live.  This recording cuts off his intro.

Also, do you remember CD longboxes?!  Man, those were the days.  

(postscript: if you want to read the heartbreaking story of why Mary's Danish broke up, go here.  They say it far better than we could)

02 September 2021

2 September 2021 - Transvision Vamp - Born To Be Sold

People who know me well know what my favorite albums are.  If you read this blog last year, I revealed that Velveteen by UK hitmakers (who did next to nothing Stateside) Transvision Vamp is high on that list.  At that time, I posted a really REALLY angry song - my favorite song on that album.

But here's the thing that makes that album so perfect.  There are no bad songs on there.  NONE.  They released two other albums - this was their second - and they were all good.  This one was borderline perfect.  

This song was a hit in the UK and Australia in 1989 and 1990, respectively - and it's a quiet tribute to a lot of pop icons throughout the ages - it's a song full of name drops.  Wendy James can deliver quiet and she can deliver loud, and she proves it on this album.      

01 September 2021

1 September 2021 - Santigold - The Keepers

We have come to Santigold.

Santigold is one of a new wave of avant garde artists that have given new life to traditional genres, like pop, rock, and R&B, fusing them all with an electronic sound and lyrical depth not seen previously.  This fusion brings a new sound - one that eschews genre.

This song - co-written by Santigold - dives into the subject of the degradation of American culture while we, the keepers, are asleep at the wheel. I do encourage you to not listen to the lyrics the first time you listen.  It's an aurally interesting upbeat pop song, different than anything you've heard before.  

31 August 2021

31 August 2021 - Brie Larson - She Said

In 2005, a discouraged actress from Sacramento, CA made an album with a couple of singles that got MTV airplay.  She was 16 at the time, and since this was her only full-length album, it seems early for her career to peak.....

The song itself is pretty standard fair bubblegum pop/rock, but it's earnestly performed.  Larson co-wrote about half the album, but not this song.

OK, let's stop being coy.  We all saw Captain Marvel.  We all saw Avengers: EndgameWe all read this post so we know Brie Larson can sing.  

I said she was 16.  The album was released in October 2005, about two weeks after her 16th birthday, but was originally slated to be released in 2004..... so, do the math, people.  This performance from January 2005 would put this future Academy Award winner at 15.  Her stage presence is a bellweather for the greatness to come.  

30 August 2021

30 August 2021 - Min x Erik ft. Khắc Hưng - Ghen | Ghen Cô Vy

In 2017, Vietnamese artists Min x Erik released a song called "Ghen" to YouTube.  It was a pretty popular song.  Everyone know "Ghen", the Vietnamese word for jealous.  The song was written by Khắc Hưng.  It's a catchy song about... well, jealousy.  

Fast forward to 2020.  The Vietnam National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH) were looking to commission a song that would help Vietnamese people learn how to stop the spread of Coronavirus, as it was called at the time (it became better known as COVID-19).   The timeline to write and record this was short.... so Khắc Hưng just went back to his old catalog and put new lyrics on his well-known song.  Hence, "Ghen Cô Vy", or jealous coronavirus.  

The song and accompanying dance challenge were a worldwide hit.  And who can blame people for loving this?  It's darned catchy.  And, even if you don't know Vietnamese 1) turn on the subtitles, because you'll find it's been translated into many languages 2) the video will give you a good idea as to what's going on here.

Of course, you could also listen to the English translation.

27 August 2021

27 August 2021 - The Minutemen - Corona

Here's a song all your jackasses will surely know.

No, seriously, this song was the theme for the MTV show Jackass.  That opening guitar lick was the perfect one to capture the essence of that show.  

But it's also a very simple protest song about injustice and greed, with d. Boon's guitar riff, George Hurley keeping time, and Mike Watt on the boom stick.  

That's it.  I went econo with this post.

26 August 2021

26 August 2021 - The Police - Synchronicity II

Let's just put this out there.  If you have heard the whole Synchronicity album, you know that there is a song called "Synchronicity I".  Both that song and this one were written by Sting, and he has refused to reveal the connection between the two.  

This song was a worldwide single for The Police, hitting the Top 20 in both the US and UK.  While the video was somewhat post-apocalyptic, the song itself is rooted in Carl Jung;'s theory of (guess what) synchronicity - which rejects chaos and seeks connection between unrelated events.  It remains my favorite Police song, possibly because it is so unlike anything else they ever did.

25 August 2021

25 Aug 2021 - Lionel Richie - All Night Long (All Night)

Lionel Richie left the Commodores to start a solo career.  It turned out to be a great move.  This song, the lead single from his second solo album, was a huge part of making Richie a superstar - even forcing MTV's hand in getting him more airplay, because the Carribean-tinged song was so popular with listeners. 

The song was written by Richie himself.... including the different language piece at about the 2:00 point of the song.  Fun fact: those weren't actually words.  He wanted African lyrics in his song, but didn't have time for a translator, so, well, he made up a bunch of African-sounding words.  

That's right.  He did that.  

The video was produced by Michael Nesmith, who used to be one of the Monkees and ended up being quite the music video pioneer.

24 August 2021

24 August 2021 - deadmau5 & Lights - When The Summer Dies

We're in the waning days of summer, so I felt like this was the day.  

This song from this summer, by two Canadian superstars (including the one that will forever be known around here as #1000), is a real banger.  Let's just start there. The song starts with pretty typical deadmau5 house beats - upbeat, danceable.  The addition of the (God help me for what I am about to say) light (sigh) poppy Lights vocal really sells the song.  It is the summer anthem we needed. 

This song is so cool, there was an official remix released two days after this came out, and it was amazing.  I don't usually share remixes here, but this one is that good.  

23 August 2021

23 August 2021 - Big Grams - Fell In the Sun

This is something of a supergroup - a one-off collaboration between Phantogram and Big Boi from Outkast, with Sarah Barthel and Big Boi providing primary vocals and Josh Carter serving as primary producer. 

Big Boi famously accidentally discovered Phantogram when their song "Mouthful of Diamonds" was used in a popup ad he saw, and he immediately started promoting them.  That led to a friendship and professional relationship that included the Big Grams project.  

Did the entire project work?  No, of course not.  It's a weird mix of the distinctive Phantogram electronic sound and Big Boi's signature hip hop.  Where it DID work, like this song, it was sonic gold.  

21 August 2021

21 August 2021 - Kristin Hersh - Sundrops

This is the stepsister I told you about yesterday.  

This performance is from MTV and I remember watching it in 1994 when it first aired.  I was quite excited about the Kristin Hersh debut solo album, Hips and Makers.  You see, her previous band, Throwing Muses, was my favorite (still is), so I was expecting another album like that, maybe with less drums.

Lyrically, that's exactly what it was, but musically, it was far more acoustic-guitar driven.  This song exists in both an original version, which is pretty much Kristin with a guitar, and a "strings" version, which adds a few more, well, strings.  This performance is the former.   

20 August 2021

20 August 2021 - Belly - Now They'll Sleep

Look, I know.  I said yesterday that all the pieces were important.   However, today, we're going to dive a little deeper into one of those pieces.  

That piece is Belly lead vocalist, guitarist, principal songwriter, and postpartum doula Tanya Donelly.  This song, the second single off the band's second album, King, it was co-written with fellow band member Tom Gorman.  

Prior to Belly, Tanya was in a band with her stepsister who shall not be named here because we are talking about Tanya (and who I've written about pretty extensively).  Her songs with Throwing Muses were excellent - her songs with Belly better showcase her unique voice and signature guitar style, an instrument for which she is criminally underrated.  

This song was not terribly commercially successful, but history has been kind to it.  It is a classic power-pop song that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1995.  

19 August 2021

19 August 2021 - The Breeders - When I Was A Painter

So, I know what you are thinking.  I mean, I know what I'm thinking.

There's nothing at all guilty about this pleasure.  

Or, maybe, this isn't the Breeders song I know.  

This song was from their debut album, Pod.   At this point, the band was essentially the trio of women you see here - Josephine Wiggs (of the Perfect Disaster) on bass, the incomparable Tanya Donelly (of Throwing Muses and later Belly) on lead guitar, and Kim Deal (of the Pixies) on vocal.  If you look closely, you'll see fourth member Britt Walford (of the Slint) on drums in the other room. 

This very fuzzy rock song is lesser if you take any of these pieces away.  Without Deal's desperate vocal, Wiggs's perfect bass, or Donelly's distinctive guitar, it's a lesser song.  Together, it was pure magic.   

18 August 2021

18 August 2021 - Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever

Boy, isn't it a shame that no one makes good, complex music anymore?

Anyone who knows this blog knows we don't actually believe that.  There is excellent music being created, and Billie Eilish's latest single - released July 30th, from her 2nd album of the same name - is what we'd use as Exhibit A.  It starts off quietly - a cool throwback to 60s vocal-heavy ensembles like The Mamas and The Papas. Getting a real Mama Cass vibe here.  At about the 2:30 mark, it smoothly switches genres to be more of a 90s alternative tribute, before really exploding at the 3:00 mark and ending with a huge sonic deconstuction.

Lyrically, it's not a happy song, despite the title.  Not only is the music complex, but the words express complex emotion - being happier without someone than with them, and articulating that in a way that captures the true range of emotions related to that. 

As with most of her music, this song was co-written by Billie and her brother/producer Finneas.  She's only 19, folks.  She's likely to have a long career ahead of her, and she's ALREADY flexible enough to reinvent herself.

As you do when you are the biggest star on the planet, it is customary to perform your hit songs on late night talk shows.  Which Billie did - last week, on The Tonight Show.  

17 August 2021

17 August 2021 - The GAP Band - You Dropped A Bomb On Me

I was thinking over this past weekend that I had been remiss in posting 80's R&B on this blog.  It's woefully underrepresented, and that's wrong.  

The Wilson Brothers from the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, OK were The GAP Band.  Despite urban legend, this song is not about the 1921 bombing of that neighborhood, but rather about a surprising end to a relationship.  The song WAS considering questionable because of this - and the origin of the band's name, as "GAP" in the bands names came about from the names of the streets where the bombs were actually dropped, Green, Archer, and Pine.

Yeah.  I went dark.  But this song went a different kind of dark - sadness sung over synth.  It ended up sparking one of their biggest hits, hitting the Top 40 on the pop charts and #2 on what was known as the Black Singles chart - and is now the R&B chart - in 1982.  

16 August 2021

16 August 2021 - Sam Phillips - I Need Love

This song, the first single from Sam Phillips's critically acclaimed Martinis and Bikinis album - her 3rd as Sam and 7th overall - was a true departure from her Christian music days.  The line "I need God, not the political church" is really a slap in the face to that world.  However, it's also some of the most critically acclaimed music of her career, and a revelation of what was to come.  

And by a revelation of what was to come, I mean it is said that the photos of Sam used in the album art directly led to her role as a mute terrorist in Die Hard With A Vengeance.  Yep, that was her.  You didn't know that, did you?  You learned something today.

Now listen to this and learn some new good music.  

Did you like that?  Well, here she is performing the song on late night television in 1994. It sounds strange to hear the song without the background vocals (which were also Sam, by the way), but it's also a pure rendition.

14 August 2021

14 August 2021 - Pixies - Isla de Encanta

Story here. 

So when I was younger, I studied Spanish linguistics.  That's true.  One of my classes was about the evolution of the language, and an assignment of ours was to choose a Spanish language song from a different part of the world and run with it - basically dig into the different dialects.

This was the song I chose.  Los Angeles Spanish from a Massachusetts band.  

I was ridiculed because it's a little Spanglishy, but really, that's what LA Spanish IS - there is English mixed into the Spanish.  

Plus, it's a great song.  

13 August 2021

13 August 2021 - Elvis Crespo - Suavemente

I guess this kind of turned into a thing.  Well, it is a good thing.  This has been a great music week.  

You know what else is great?  This 1998 single by Elvis Crespo, which actually crossed over onto the English-language pop charts for a couple of weeks.  For many, this was the first introduction to the horn-heavy merengue style.  For Elvis Crespo, this was his debut solo single, having been a member of a couple of Puerto Rican merengue ensembles prior to this.   

On a personal note, this is one of my very favorite songs in any language.  It is not remarkable lyrically (he's asking a girl to kiss him.  A lot) or musically (it's merengue), but together, it is a fun, energetic song.  By the end of the song, you're going to be singing "Besándome otra vez" too!

For now, sit back and enjoy this great tune, and try not to dance.

12 August 2021

12 August 2021 - Ritchie Valens - La Bamba

I really am not doing a thing here.   I just want to put it out there.  This classic song wasn't completely written by Richie Valens. But it's not a cover.  He took a traditional Mexican folk song and set them to a rock line - that he, at his very young age, wrote himself.  

The song was to #22 on the pop charts in 1958.  He died in February 1959, in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, aged 17 - so he was younger than that when he wrote this simple but perfect verse-chorus-verse rock song.

Now, what Los Lobos did when they took the song to #1 on the pop charts - THAT was a cover.

11 August 2021

11 August 2021 - Carlos Vives & Shakira - La Bicicleta

I promise you there are no plans for a weekly theme here.  But when Columbian superstars Carlos Vives and Shakira collaborate on a song that they cowrote and put on BOTH of their albums, I can't ignore that.  

The song, which was decades in the making, musically pays tribute to their native Columbia - bringing in many elements of Columbia traditional music.  The lyrics do as well - it is absolutely about a bicycle ride, but it's a nostalgic trip through their hometowns - a sweet, reflective song.   The video reflects the locales mentioned in the lyrics, as the two of them bicycle through their respective hometowns seeking out dance battles.   As you do.  

10 August 2021

10 August 2021 - Julieta Venegas - Todo Está Aquí

I mean, she's got albums besides Limón y Sal.  She's got a lot of them.  

I've been talking for years about the unsung greatness of Julieta Venegas - which I stand by.  I mean, it's not really unsung - she's got a Grammy (for Limón y Sal, to be fair) and six Latin Grammys sitting on her shelf.  One of those Latin Grammys was for Algo Sucede, the 2015 album from which this song is taken. 

The song itself is a simple love song - talking about the happiness of love and how you really need nothing else.  Because, well, everything is here.  It is brilliantly written and performed.

Julieta herself is multiinstrumental.  The original version of this song was, of course, piano-centered.  However, that doesn't mean she can't perform it on guitar, too.

OK, I feel better now.  

10 August 2021 - Julieta Venegas - Limón Y Sal

Don't worry.  We're not doing a Spanish week.  We ARE going to post Julieta Venegas whenever she pops up on our radar, though, because she is a delight, and she DID when we started writing yesterday's post - because, of course, all Spanish-language artists are the same, right?

Wrong.  Really, really wrong.  

This song, the title song from her Grammy Award-winning hit album of the same name from 2006, deals with the acceptance of a loved one for everything they are - the good and the bad - fitting in thematically with the whole album's theme of the ups and downs of relationships.

That's right, English speakers.  These theme exist in songs in other languages.  And few write them better than Julieta Venegas.  She has forged a quiet and understated, yet very successful, career writing thoughtful music in Spanish - and, thirty years into her career, continues to do so.  

She also continues to perform this song.  Here she is, on piano in 2000, giving a heartfelt rendition of the tune in a live performance to a pandemic-driven empty room.  I haven't mentioned here that she's multiinstrumental (I did here) but, she's multiinstrumental.  

09 August 2021

9 August 2021 - Mala Rodríguez - La Niña

I had to go ahead and just use all the special characters in this one.  

You see, this was a breakthrough single for Mala Rodríguez in Spain, but Spanish TV banned this video.  Something about a child as a drug dealer didn't sit well with the censors.  However, that's what the song is about - a kid who wants to be a drug dealer like her dad.  

I've said it before - people aren't used to a girl from Sevilla being so in-your-face with hip hop and talking about such taboo subjects - and so brilliantly. 

This song is from 2003.  So many years later, La Mala still performs it.  Here she is in April, taking a break from her yoga content on Twitter, to perform the song live.  Her performance at 42 is a little more laid back and subtle than at 24, but it's still epic and powerful, painting a colourful picture.  

06 August 2021

6 August 2021 - Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi

I had SO MUCH material for #MapleLeafMarch that I literally posted every day - and we rarely do weekend posts here - and even double posted for a couple of days.

I STILL have material.

Maybe I should make it an annual thing.  Hmmmm.....

I somehow didn't get to Joni Mitchell, from Fort Macleod, Alberta. That's right.  She's not only from Canada, she's from the part of Canada that 90% of the country doesn't live in.  Clearly, she is a legend - winning many Grammys and Juno Awards.  This song, from 1970, was one of her first hit singles, and it's a cheery-sounding song that actually decries the suburban sprawl that was happening at the time.  It is still one of her best-known songs, and the message still resonates, more than a half century later.  

That's right.  Joni Mitchell has been making music for more than a half century.  She's slowed down in her late 70's - largely due to a brain aneurysm rupture she suffered in 2015 - but she has not stopped.

05 August 2021

5 August 2021 - Blake Babies - Out There

Growing up, the Blake Babies were one of my very favorite bands.   And, well, the solo stuff that came out of that band - the Lemonheads, Antenna, of course Juliana Hatfield, Some Girls - that was all excellent, but I always felt the Blake Babies ended too soon.

I was lucky enough to see the band live once, at the Iron Horse Cafe, where they performed this song but did cut their set short because 3/4 of the place left after fans of their opening act didn't stick around.  Which is a shame, because I loved the show and made sure I told all of them I did.  Freda Love (their drummer) was super nice.  

Anyway, this was their first "big budget" video, and this is what they did.  It got them some MTV airplay, anyway.  The song itself was co-written by Hatfield and guitarist John Strohm and reads like the aspirational dreams of a painfully shy person - so I relate.   

In early 2020, by pure chance (and by pure chance, I mean that Freda Love's band was opening for Juliana Hatfield in John Strohm's hometown), the band reunited for this song.  They had lost NOT a single beat.

04 August 2021

4 August 2021 - Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion

Classic music videos for songs released in 1975 don't often exist.  

But then again, the male protagonist in this video would have been 1 in 1975.....

The song peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, making this the first top 40 hit for the band and kicking off a string of hit songs.  I'm not going to talk about that.  I'm going to talk about the drums.  Now, you hardcore musicians know that, in a song in 4/4 time, the drum usually hits on the 2nd and 4th beat.  In this song, it hits on 1 and 3.  It's upside down, and it works, brilliantly.  

The band broke up in the early 1980's but reformed in the mid 1980's and enjoyed a resurgence, leading to a release of this single, alongside this video, in 1991.  

All these years later, the band still tours and still brings high energy.  Here they are in a 2011 performance.  Joe Perry's unusual background vocal is more pronounced here.

03 August 2021

3 August 2021 - Moby - Honey

Sure, this is probably the second best known song by Moby, and it was released three years after I saw him live, which means he didn't perform the song. 

This song is pretty heavily reliant on a sample - "Sometimes" by Bessie Jones - to the point that the the writers of that song are listed as co-writers on "Honey".  It is very clearly Bessie Jones singing all the lyrics on this song.  A later remix of the song included vocals from Kelis, but Jones is still central to the song.  It doesn't exist without her.

To his credit, Moby adds a lot to the samples with his forte, and that's electronic music.  

02 August 2021

2 August 2021 - Madonna - Beautiful Stranger

On days when we run out of ideas, we post about Madonna.

But she has had such a long career and so many guilty pleasures.   So it's hard to avoid her.  

Maybe we should have made her a Hall of Famer, instead.  Oh well. 

This song is from the soundtrack of the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and ended up being a pretty big worldwide hit.  Ironically, because we were entering a digital era that the Billboard Charts had not yet accounted for, this song only reached #19 in the US, but that was WITHOUT single sales, which were a large aspect of the chart at the time.  It was a much bigger hit in almost every other country.

On a personal note, I've been a fan of Madonna since her first album, and this was a high water mark for her, in my view.

The song has become something of a staple of hers live, even to this day. Madonna does not alter her voice much in studio (and it's a little on the huskier side so hitting notes isn't usually an issue).

01 August 2021

1 August 2021 - The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star

40 years ago, at 12:01am on August 1, 1981, a new cable television station went on the air.  That channel was, of course, Music Television, or MTV, for short.  

You remember.

Famously, this was the very first video played on MTV.  Although a 1979 release by Trevor Horn's project, The Buggles, it did have a small resurgence in 1981 because of this.  

Technically, we posted this on the wrong blog.  Here's why I'm giving it a pass.   It was written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, and Bruce Wooley - who were The Buggles.   Wooley left to form Bruce Wooley and the Camera Club and released his version of the song FIRST.  It's not the only song he took, but in the end, the Buggles version persisted.

Here is the Bruce Wooley and the Camera Club version of the song.  The recording features another "one-hit wonder", Thomas Dolby, on keyboard. 

Trevor Horn is still making music.  Here he is with his band The Producers in 2014, performing the hit that made Trevor Horn a worldwide star.   He's showing a bit more expression in this performance......

30 July 2021

30 July 2021 - Basia - New Day for You

In the late 1980s, Basia Trzetrzelewska was the hottest thing on adult contemporary radio, thanks largely to the rise of VH1 in that period.  What a lot of people in the US audience DON'T know is that Basia was previous vocalist for a popular UK jazz band called Matt Bianco.  She left that group not acrimoniously, but to pursue the very solo career that would define her internationally. 

This song, a top 5 AC hit in the US, was also a huge rallying song as apartheid was ending in South Africa.  Basia's style has been described as a mix between samba, bossa nova, and jazz, and you can hear that shine through here.  She has a three-octave range that is tested in this vocal exercise.   

The video above, for the worldwide audience, shows how comfortable Basia is with a band.  However, US music marketing dictates that a female vocalist must be the focus of ANY music video.  Also, a wind machine is required by US Code.  Look it up.  It's true.  

So, her record label commissioned a new video for the US market.  

29 July 2021

29 July 2021 - ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man

ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill died this week, aged 72.  

We pay tribute with a feature of their breakthrough song/video from 1983, the lead single form their Eliminator album, which brought them to a new audience.  Fun fact:  the guitar solo is a guitar DUO, played on two different guitars with different tunings.  

This song was really my introduction to ZZ Top as well.  And what an introduction!!!

28 July 2021

28 July 2021 - Lita Ford - Kiss Me Deadly

You don't usually affiliate hard rock music with keyboards.  However, that's exactly what Lita Ford did, when she moved from hard rocking music with the Runaways to her more glam-rock solo career, and it helped the song gain crossover appeal.  The song itself starts slow and builds quickly to a chaotic, energetic conclusion.  

This song, a breakthrough for her in 1988, came after a management change to Sharon Osbourne Management - yes, that Sharon Osbourne.  It hit #12 on the US charts and kicked off a period of generally strong success.  Lyrically, the song is somewhat sexually charged - she's singing about getting laid - or not - which wasn't a typical subject women tackled in 1988.  

It was Ford's boldness that made her something of a feminist icon - and probably contributed to this song being featured in the movie Captain Marvel.  

Ford did take a long hiatus from the mid-90s until about 2010, but she is back and still performs this song.....

27 July 2021

27 July 2021 - Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill

The first single from 1985's Hounds of Love, this was Kate Bush's most successful single in the 1980's  - and her first of the decade in the States.  But why is she making a deal with God and running up hills??!

Well, the original title of the song was "A Deal With God", which her record label balked at, because, well, that title doesn't get airplay in some countries (probably including the United States).  Her point was, men and women don't always understand each other, so making a deal with God to swap places.... well, that might help.

The video is interpretive dance.  That's not something you see every day.  

The original song is very synth-heavy, which, well, 1980s.  When she finally performed the song live, Kate Bush appeared with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, a frequent collaborator - and the synth was replaced with guitar.... and it still worked.  You'd never think a keyboard solo would work on guitar, and it does, seamlessly.  

In 2012, Kate Bush released a new mix of the song, in conjunction with the Olympic Games in London.  This version, which debuted at the opening ceremony, was also a chart hit for Bush. (EDITOR'S NOTE: but the IOC won't let us share it, so here's audio)  

26 July 2021

26 July 2021 - Limp Bizkit - Nookie

For about 20 minutes in the 1990s, Fred Durst was everywhere.   This song, released in 1999, vaulted hs band, Limp Bizkit, into superstardom (they were already moderately known), and was a big rock radio hit with some pop radio crossover.

This is despite some of the most abysmal reviews in history.  

The song was a bitter breakup song, dealing with a rough relationship that Durst had with a recent ex.  

If you were were not aware, also in 1999, Limp Bizkit played Woodstock 1999, where a riot broke out during and after their performance.  This was not the song that incited that riot, but Fred Durst and the rest of the band were wanted for and in fact arrested for inciting that riot with their words and actions, when he told people to keep breaking stuff.   

But this performance does show their energy.  Also, no one was breaking stuff at this point. 

23 July 2021

23 July 2021 - Cypress Hill - How I Could Just Kill a Man

You'd think that Cypress Hill would have risen to prominence on something having to do with weed.

You would be wrong.  This song was their first hit, their debut single, and featured homages to many popular hip hop and punk artists of the day, with Q-Tip and Ice Cube making cameos in the video.  See if you can hear the Suicidal Tendencies reference near the end of the song.  

I mentioned homage.  This was the height of the popularity of so called "gangsta rap" groups such as NWA - and I really hate typing that name out, because it generalizes and minimizes such a broad category of music.  The violence referenced here by three very high guys is absolutely homage, and having these guest stars in the video drives that home.

At any rate, it's an enjoyable tune, and I hope you give it a listen.  

22 July 2021

22 July 2021 - Debbie Gibson - Only in My Dreams

Remember when Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were two artists you had to choose between?   They never bought into that, so neither did I.  Besides, they did different things.  Tiffany is best known for, well, a cover. Clearly, I have zero issue with that - and if you have not seen Totally Covered, you need to.

But this was different.  Whereas you'd expect a young pop artist to be singing songs written by others, especially in the mid-1980's, that's not what Debbie Gibson did.  She WROTE this song in 1984 - when she was 14 - and recorded it in 1986.  

The video was recorded in Asbury Park, near where she lived.  The song was a top 5 hit in September 1987.

In 1998, Deborah Gibson re-released the song, with a different remix, after she left Atlantic Records.  The new version is 1) more mature, and 2) notice the name change.  

21 July 2021

21 July 2021 - Suzanne Vega - Luka

The breakout music hit of 1987 was "Luka" by Suzanne Vega.  A singer/songwriter from Greenwich Village, the song was from her second album, Solitude Standing. Some albums, you remember where you were when you bought them.  I bought this one at Record Town at the McKinley Mall in suburban Buffalo.  It is the last cassette I ever bought in a cardboard longbox.  And, it was a revelation.

This song is written and performed from the point of view of an abused child.  This isn't something that was common in 1987, let alone for a hit song - #3 on the pop charts, and her 2nd biggest worldwide hit.  Give it a listen.    

20 July 2021

20 July 2021 - Agnetha Fältskog - Can't Shake Loose

You didn't know Agnetha from ABBA had a solo career, did you?

I say "had". She's still releasing music.  In fact, she reached her high water mark in 2013, with her album A. This song is not from that album, but rather from her 1983 English language debut solo album (she had Swedish language albums prior to ABBA, beginning in the late 1960's, and did have some major hits in her home country), Wrap Your Arms Around Me.  It is Agnetha's biggest US solo hit to date, reaching #29 in 1983.  

The song is a pretty typical 1980's pop/rock song, penned by Russ Ballard.  

19 July 2021

19 July 2021 - Eddie Murphy - Party All the Time

You all remember Eddie Murphy from all his movies, or maybe from Saturday Night Live.

Did you remember that he make music, too?!  His biggest hit was this single, written and produced by the late great Rick James and recorded in James's Buffalo NY studio.  My biggest surprise in researching this post was that Rick James had a Buffalo, NY studio.  

The lore of the song is more interesting, though.  The story goes, it was the result of a $100,000 bet between Murphy and Richard Pryor, over whether or not he had musical talent.  No word on whether or not the bet was paid out, but the song reached #2 on the Billboard charts.

16 July 2021

16 July 2021 - The Bangles - Manic Monday

So, let's get the things I know I'm going to hear out of the way.  

"Why are you posting THIS SONG on a Friday!?"   Because it's a great song any day of the week.  I won't fit inside your box.   

"Wait, didn't Apollonia 6 record this first?"  Well, yes, they did, with Prince - the songwriter - but he pulled the song from their album - that version would not be released until 2019.  So, this was the first released version of the song.  And it's amazing - showcasing the harmonies of which the Bangles are capable, as well as giving Susanna Hoffs a chance to shine on lead vocal, as opposed to Debbi Peterson.  

"But wait. Their VERY NEXT SINGLE 'If She Knew What She Wants' was essentially the same situation, except Jules Shear wrote that, and that was on Totally Covered, so why not put this there?"  Jules Shear released his version a year before the Bangles did.  Come on, now.  We do our research.  

"But wait. Their IMMEDIATE PRIOR SINGLE was 'Going Down To Liverpool' by Katrina and the Waves.  I read Totally Covered.  I know the score."  Again, Katrina and the Waves recorded and released that song years before - and RERELEASED it after this as the B side to "Walking on Sunshine". 

"You've called songs covers for a lot less.  Did you think we'd forget the whole 'One of Us' debate?"  Yes.  You may remember the agony over that decision.  

Great.  Now I'm out of time.  Let's just get to the song.

"But wait.  Don't you traditionally include a live version of these songs?"  Well, yeah.  We do like to do that.   Here's one from 1986.  

15 July 2021

15 July 2021 - Amy Grant - Baby, Baby

As many of you know, Amy Grant is a Christian music superstar. Her first seven studio albums, plus the compilation The Collection, which was something of a crossover breakthrough, were quite overtly Christian in themes, with some of her songs taking lyrics right from the Bible.  And they were hits - many of them went gold or platinum, despite primarily being sold in Christian bookstores.  

Her eight studio album, Lead Me On, was the one that really started the wiggle to secular music, but it was still pretty Christian.  

On March 5, 1991, Amy Grant's ninth studio album, Heart In Motion, was released. It was a very strong secular turn - but still did well on Christian charts. This song remains her biggest hit to date -it's a standard, cheerful pop song that will make you smile.  

14 July 2021

14 July 2021 - Cibo Matto - Know Your Chicken

By now, you probably think you see a pattern.  However, despite what you might think, Cibo Matto was an AMERICAN band.... formed by Japanese expatriates.  They tended to be avant garde in their musical style, mostly singing about food.  

This song is from their debut album, Viva! La Woman.  It's about knowing your chicken.   

This version of the song was recorded live in 1996.  This iteration of the band featured Sean Lennon - son of John and Yoko - on bass.  It's glorious.

13 July 2021

13 July 2021 - Shonen Knife - Like A Cat

Yesterday, I talked about BABYMETAL.  There would be no BABYMETAL without Shonen Knife, the three Japanese housewives who decided to form a Beach Boys/Ramones influenced band in the early 1980's.  Their songs tended to address pretty mundane subjects, like how much fun cycling is and riding on rockets.  

They still rock today.  From their 2014 album Overdrive, this song does a pretty good job of explaining itself.  For a song about spending your days like a cat, it has a Ramones-esque feel.

Yes, a Japanese version of this musical cat video exists. They are, after all, Japanese.  It also does an excellent job of explaining itself. 

Here is the band performing the song live in 2014.  I can tell you they are still going strong.

12 July 2021

12 July 2021 - BABYMETAL - ギミチョコ!! (Gimme chocolate!!)

Like most of you, my initial reaction when hearing BABYMETAL was "What the hell did I just watch?"

The group is really the women singing and dancing in front.  The backing band is session musicians - consistent, known ones, but they aren't the focus.  The focus is the women that you are expecting to sing light pop music, and who instead blow your expectations out of the water.  

The music is metal.  It's metal that's a throwback to early 1990's bands that rocked this hard.  They got their start in 2010 as a subunit of the Japanese idol group Sakura Gakuin,, but broke away and became so so much bigger than that.  

The concept was originally a traditional idol fusion with metal music - but it has evolved into something of a reverent metal tribute.  This song, which was something of a worldwide breakthrough for them in 2015, deals with a woman's desire to... well, eat chocolate, along with the pressures of maintaining one's figure.  I'm not kidding.   Enjoy.  

09 July 2021

9 July 2021 - Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson - Relator

Today, I'm phoning it in.   

You see, today is the day that the Marvel Cinematic Universe returns from its forced pandemic hiatus, with the movie Black Widow.  The title character is, of course, played by actress Scarlett Johansson, and it is a movie everyone wanted for YEARS.

What you didn't know you wanted was to hear her musical collaboration with Pete Yorn.  Recorded in 2006, the album was not released until 2009 - the year before Iron Man 2 was released.   Their collaboration was seriously good - and as much as I am making more Black Widow jokes than Captain Marvel jokes that I made yesterday, Scarlett Johansson is an excellent, nuanced vocalist.

Their album didn't do great in the States, but was certified gold in France.  Here they are performing the song for French television in 2009. 

08 July 2021

8 July 2021 - Metric - Black Sheep

In 2010, the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was released.  With it came a pretty epic soundtrack.  At the center of the film was a song called was "Black Sheep", by Toronto band Metric.  This wasn't a new song of theirs - they had performed it live for years.  The song, belted by Metric lead vocalist Emily Haines, was included on the soundtrack.

Here is the original version from the soundtrack.  It's a great song in its own right.

This live performance of what is possibly their best known song from 2015 is absolutely amazing.  Right?

If you have seen the movie, you know where this post is about to go.  

You see, Emily Haines didn't sing the song in the movie.  The song in the movie was performed by fictional band Clash at Demonhead - who were admittedly based on Metric - fronted by Envy Adams, who was played by real-life actress who can sing and future Captain Marvel, Brie Larson.

In 2010, Metric insisted that the original version, with Haines on vocal, be included on the soundtrack.  As they should.  It's their song.  However, this made a lot of fans of the movie - and the Brie Larson vocal - very unhappy.  

Fast forward to December 24, 2020.  After much fan encouragement, Brie Larson released this video on her YouTube channel...  I won't make you sit through the first 6 1/2 minutes....

Also, yes, those are sheep on her sweater..

Finally, in June 2021, Metric released the song as a single, accompanying an extended version of the film's soundtrack.  There was much rejoicing and something of a resurgence in interest in the movie.... and it's still on the US Rock charts as I write this.  

07 July 2021

7 July 2021 - Big Pig - Breakaway

This song has a lot of percussion.

And no guitars.  Some synth.  But mostly percussion.

Just like every other Big Pig song.

In 1988, this song became the band's biggest hit worldwide, reaching the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time and doing significantly better elsewhere in the world.  

06 July 2021

6 July 2021 - Smashing Pumpkins - Rhinoceros

A lot of people like to request Smashing Pumpkins as posts on this blog.

What they don't know is that I was a fan from the very beginning.  This song, one of the few the band still performs live from their debut album, Gish, was their second single - although the "single" was really the EP Lull.  It remains to this day one of my favorite songs.  It starts slow and quiet and builds to a frenzied wall of noise.  

By the way, D'arcy isn't really throwing the ball backwards, people.  It was filmed in slow motion and run backwards.   

I did not choose a modern performance of the song for the live showcase.  I *did* choose one from 1991, which highlights just how important D'Arcy's bass was to the band's sound. The song is more subdued than the original for a longer time, but eventually builds to the noise.   

05 July 2021

5 July 2021 - Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion - WAP

The most infamous song of 2020 is finally here on Wicked Guilty Pleasures.  

The song itself was a huge hit worldwide, both commercially and critically, but let's look at it a little closer.

It is a collaboration between two women who rap, a field largely dominated by men.  It is, in fact, arguably the biggest hit by two collaborating rap artists.

It is a very explicit song, almost to the point of absurdity.  And, it is unapologetically so - neither of these women care if you're offended.

And the song is a true collaboration.  As much as their music demands a bit of bravado, neither upstages the other.  

Plus, the use of tigers in the video sparked a feud with Carole Baskin.... so, there's that.  

I have to admit something.

I wasn't a huge fan of this song until I heard this mashup with "We Appreciate Power" by Grimes.  Completely different song. Brilliant choice both titular (look at what that title spells) and musically.

02 July 2021

2 July 2021 - Lorde - Solar Power


Here's the new Lorde song.  

I'm really glad we have new Lorde LITERALLY THE SAME WEEK I POSTED THE LAST ONE.

Couldn't have pushed that up a little for me, Ella?

Well, people are already talking about it being the Song of the Summer.  While it's still a bit early for that, the song is really cool and mellow.  While it does bear a resemblance to the Primal Scream song "Loaded" (which yeah, we posted earlier this week), Primal Scream is surprisingly OK with it.  


01 July 2021

1 July 2021 - Cœur de Pirate - Perséides (The Whole Album)

This is something we have never done before here.   


We are posting an album in its entirety.

We may never do this again.  It's a rare album that is worthy of such a focus and such praise.  This is that rare album.  

And, on this Canada Day, I chose an album that thoroughly celebrates a part of Canada.

At the beginning of June, I mentioned in a blog post an all-piano album that I could not stop listening to.  I still can't.  I first heard the album on its day of release, thanks to Spotify, and in fact listened to it more than once that day. I was on vacation and sitting in a hotel room, and... it hit me just right.  

The artist is Cœur de Pirate, and the album is Perséides. It is, thus far, my favorite album I've heard this year.   Clocking in at just over a half hour, it is 100% piano.  There is no vocal. There is no other instrument I can hear.  

This is a woman who, because of surgery, could (temporarily) not talk, let alone sing, and yet she found a way to compose, perform and release these deeply personal songs about places in Quebec that mean so much to her.  It's truly magic.
If you are not able to hear the album using the Spotify link, here it is on YouTube.  It is a playlist that starts from the first track:

30 June 2021

30 June 2021 - Iggy Azalea ft. T.I. - Murda Bizness

Before she was all "Fancy", Iggy Azalea was establishing herself as pretty hard-edged.   We have featured Iggy Azalea on this blog several times - before AND after "Fancy".  

This song, her first collaboration with T.I., is one that we've missed, mostly because we never found a great spot to slot her in that flowed with the feeling we were going with - either in genre, or theme.  I've had this song sitting in my drafts for a couple of years.  

The song appears on her 2012 EP Glory and would serve as her debut single (although "Beat Down" came a few months earlier, that was Steve Aoki and Angger Dimas's single, not hers). For those not familiar with Steve Aoki, seeing a long-haired blonde Australian girl coming with an in-your-face style of hip hop was a bit of a shock.... but in a good way.  

Here she is performing the song live in 2013.  It is one of the first times she had ever performed live, and she absolutely brought the house DOWN.

29 June 2021

29 June 2021 - Filter - Hey Man, Nice Shot

This song sounds really cool, right?  I mean, the guitar rift is one of the greatest from the mid-1990s.  Richard Patrick's delivery of his song is spot on.

So, listen to the song first with no preconceptions about what the song is about.  Just enjoy the song.

In January 1987, Robert Budd Dwyer, Pennsylvania State Treasurer, was convicted of bribery and was due to be sentenced for up to 55 years in prison.  The day before his sentencing, he held a press conference, maintaining his evidence.  At some point during the conference, he pulled out a revolver and took his own life, without injuring anyone else.

So, that's the "Nice Shot" Filter is referring to.  This song is about that incident.  There were rumors it was about Kurt Cobain.  Those are not true - the song was written in 1991.  

So, now listen to it again, with that in mind.  But here's a live version for you.

I won't be posting video of the incident.  If you want to see that sad, tragic spectacle, you can look for it yourself.  

28 June 2021

28 June 2021 - Primal Scream - Loaded

I wanted to make sure I posted a band that Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor  has obviously never heard of.  

In all seriousness, this song, an acid house classic, was a top 20 UK hit for Primal Scream in 1990 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest dance songs of all time.  

I agree with that assessment - I played it on college radio the ONE NIGHT they let me do the dance show.  I don't think this was a contributing factor to me not doing that again (I made some questionable choices) but I thought it was great and I was certainly dancing to it in the studio, quite similarly to how I am dancing to it right now, as I write this.  

The song samples lines from the movie The Wild Angels.  

25 June 2021

25 June 2021 - ABBA - Waterloo

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus were looking to become better known songwriters.  Sure, they were known in Sweden, but not much outside.  So, how does a European group get attention for their songwriting?

Easy.  Enter the Eurovision Song Contest.  

Which this song won in 1974, as Sweden's entry.  And, it won handily.  

This single was the first credited to the group as ABBA, is is likely the only song ever to compare a relationship to a Napoleonic battle.  Usually, a song like this i.e. one that wins Eurovision isn't all that popular outside of Europe, but this song was different, igniting their fame worldwide.  

It is widely considered to be the greatest song to come out of a Eurovision competition.  

Of course, in order to QUALIFY for Eurovision, they had to perform the song for Sweden.  Which they did, at Melodifestivalen, a Swedish music festival for the purpose of picking the Eurovision competitor.  You might notice this version is a little different.  

By the way, lest you think I'm kidding about this Eurovision stuff, here are ABBA, watching the results come in, followed by them performing the song as winners.

24 June 2021

24 June 2021 - Carrie Underwood - Jesus, Take The Wheel

This is exactly the type of post that Scott would have posted.  And yet, here I am, unapologetically posting country gospel.

Look, let's get it out of the way.  It's a pretty straight-forward modern country song, with pretty blatant Christian overtones.  It's about a woman praying she doesn't die when she hits a patch of black ice.  Moreover, it's a song that demands a broad vocal range.  

This song was American Idol winner Carrie Underwood's first Country #1 hit song (she would go on to have 15, so far).  It also crossed over and became a Top 5 Christian hit (a chart she would later top, twice), and a top twenty POP hit - a chart she had previously topped with her debut single.  This was her 2nd single.  

And yeah, it won several awards, including two Grammys.

To call this song influential and important is not hyperbole.  It set the direction of Underwood's music, away from the pop idol sphere in which Simon Cowell's greatest creation usually played, and it established her as a leading cross-genre artist for a generation. 

23 June 2021

23 June 2021 - Amanda Seyfried - Little House

In 2012, I first posted music performed by Amanada Seyfried on Totally Covered.  The songs were from  a movie in which she had acted - Mamma Mia! - and inspired by another - Red Riding Hood.  These covers were, in a word, amazing.  Both of them.  The latter is still on heavy rotation for me, and the former was so good, I posted it again, unapologetically, on this blog.  

When I wrote that original post, I made a bit of a flippant comment - "A reminder that this is the same person who played the dumb blonde in Mean Girls".

Which is true.  She did.  

She has since been nominated for an Academy Award  (for Mank), and has continued to demonstrate that she is both a talented actress and musician with great depth.   Seyfried's discography is absolutely loaded with covers - many tied to her movies - but this song, from her 2010 film Dear John, is not only not a cover, SHE wrote it.