27 January 2022

27 January 2022- Bonde do Rolê - Picolé

I originally posted about this song, and really about its video with 45 directors, more than three years ago.  

I stated that the word "picolé" loosely translated to popsicle in English, although a picolé tends to be alcoholic.  I also inferred that the song might not be about popsicles.  Mostly because I didn't want to overtly make a sexual reference - and I still don't.

What I did NOT say is that this was part of a larger effort, from their album Tropical/Bacanal, to move away from the funky sound of With Lasers and into a sound that more represented their Brazilian roots.  They did so quite successfully and to great critical acclaim.  

Also, this song is really, REALLY dirty.  Yes, it is about exactly what you think it is. If you can't figure it out from the video, I can't help you here.    

26 January 2022

26 January 2022 - The White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl

Not all my short changes were long ago.  This one happened in 2020

It wasn't hard to short-change it, though.  The song is less than two minutes long.  How much can you say about a song by a drum/guitar duo that is so short? 

A lot, actually.  

The song is incredibly fast - Jack White fits a LOT of words - breathlessly at times, which give the song a desperate feeling - in those two minutes.  Despite the frantic guitar and dense drumming, the vocals are the highlight of the song - the music is there for rhythm, with the guitar taking a rhythm guitar role, rather than lead.  

Lyrically, it's somewhat beautiful, illustrating perfectly the feeling of falling in love, hard.

Also, about that video.  It is mostly REALLY Lego bricks, purchased by Jack White.  There is a small computer animated section of the video, but it's mostly really Lego bricks.  Don't call them Legos.  That's a brand.  


This alternate interpretation of the song, from a live performance in Nova Scotia... I'm going to not focus on Jack, but on Meg White.  She's got such subtly to her drumming - she doesn't get enough credit for that - but it certainly shows here.

25 January 2022

25 January 2022 - Toto - Africa

I know, it's surprising, but in 2012, I shortchanged this song.  
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In my original post, I talked about the lyrical gymnastics of the 2nd verse of the song.  They are great, but what is greater is the story of the composition of this love letter to a continent.  David Paich wrote the lyrics, which came to him in a flash, and initial brassy flutey synth intro.  Jeff Porcaro wrote the rest of the music - and it was a long process..... to write a love letter to a continent.  

You see, the song is not romantic.  It is about Africa.  And it was their biggest hit - even as others got more critical acclaim - and it is still beloved.


A sound installation in the Namib Desert in Africa plays this song on an infinite loop.  It is run by solar batteries and designed to be durable against the environment, and although the desert landscape will eventually swallow it whole, it will, until then, play for eternity.   

24 January 2022

24 January 2022 - Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite

This week, I'm revisiting songs that I gave not nearly attention to on the first go around.  

I originally posted about this song in 2013, after I heard it in a Food Lion in Delaware.  I wrote a really short post about it, with a couple of small details, such as chart position.  

What I neglected to address was the subject matter of the song.  Overtly, it's about the Apollo missions to the moon - the moon being the titular satellite.  And, there are a lot of moonscape references - the eagles fly, the dry seas.   However, the song is also a metaphor for anything one might want to shoot for - the stars, a goal, anything.  

It is also one of those songs that is a persistent favorite of mine, since its release in 1992.   


I wanted to include a live version here - Tasmin Archer is still performing, and of course performs her biggest hit.  I did not find a more beautiful version than this one from 1993, with less production and a simple acoustic accompaniment.  

21 January 2022

21 January 2022 - Ringo Starr - It Don't Come Easy

Nothing worth having comes easy.  Life is a tough trial, and so is love, but it gets better.  Push forward.  "Use a little love and we will make it work out better."

So is the message from Ringo Starr's first post-Beatles single, produced by George Harrison.  It remains one of Ringo's biggest solo hits - and no one expected him to have solo hits.  Starting and ending somewhat quietly, the tune gets more bombastic, becoming a beautiful, uplifting song - and one of my personal favorites.


Ringo Starr and George Harrison famously performed this song at the Convert for Bangladesh, the first time that any two Beatles had performed together since the breakup.  Ringo did forget the words..... but everyone still loved him, because how could you not?

20 January 2022

20 January 2022 - Aimee Mann - Wise Up

From the Paul Thomas Anderson movie Magnolia, for which Aimee Mann did most of the soundtrack, this song comes at a sad, emotional crossroad in the movie. In fact, let's open this post with that very sad, emotional crossroad.  The moment could have been absurd, but it wasn't.  


But this song is so so much more than a soundtrack song - especially since it wasn't written for the soundtrack and had PREVIOUSLY appeared on the Jerry MaGuire soundtrack.  It is in and of itself an emotional powerhouse with a real downer of an ending.  P.T. Anderson has said that Aimee Mann's music inspired Magnolia, so it is likely that this song was part of that inspiration. 

Listen to Aimee sing it herself, without the cast accompaniment.   


She still performs the song, which is a fan favorite. Because of course it is.  

19 January 2022

19 January 2022 - The Replacements - I'll Be You

The Replacements had been indie darlings for the better parts of a decade in 1989.  This song was the closest they got to breaking out of that.

From the album Don't Tell A Soul, this video was in heavy MTV rotation, even during the day.  Which is good.  Because The Replacements were actively seeking a hit after many years of that indie fame.  They didn't quite make it there - this song peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 - but it did spread their sound to a broader audience.

18 January 2022

18 January 2022 - Roberta Flack - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

This might be one of the most beautiful songs ever written.  Written by Ewan MacColl about his third wife, Peggy Seeger (he was still married to his second wife), this is a cover - but a cover that was the biggest hit of 1972 and won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. 

What was written as a folk song was reinvented with soul by Flack, and for that, the song was her own. Originally released in 1969, it went nowhere until Clint Eastwood found it and used it in his movie Play Misty For Me.  After that, Atlantic Records released it as a single and it exploded. 

17 January 2022

17 January 2022 - The Pursuit of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now

Moe Berg and Dave Gilby moved from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and formed a band called The Pursuit of Happiness in 1985.  Since then, they've been making fun, power-pop music.

One of their first singles was this one.  This song was self-produced and self-pressed, and became a grassroots hit.  This led to their major label record deal and some measure of success.  It was eventually released in 1989 as a single in the US, and amazingly, it was a minor hit.  

Also, it's great to be an adult.  

14 January 2022

14 January 2022 - Guided by Voices - Bulldog Skin

 Do you know who would be really happy to be called a guilty pleasure?

Robert Pollard.

From the Dayton, OH band's 1997 album, Mag Earwhig!, this song and video are probably about as close as Guided by Voices has gotten to actual guilty pleasure territory.  It's a song that clocks in at 3:00 on the dot, has a significant guitar solo, and a video with significant production value.  

The title is in reference to being tough - having a thick skin.  Clearly, the video's protagonist, Larkey Parka, had to have a thick skin as he was bullied in his pursuit of the girl, eventually winning her over at the Rock Show Tonight.  


Thankfully, after all these years, Guided by Voices is a band that still tours, and still performs this song.  Here they are in 2017, with Bob Pollard acting like the rock star he absolutely is.  


13 January 2022

13 January 2022 - Iggy Azalea - Iam The Stripclub

Amethyst Kelly is back.  And she came back with a really good album in 2021 - The End of an Era - preceded by three good singles.  The best was this, the third single that was a short club banger.   

Admit it, you're dancing right now.   I am!  

By the way, watch for the "Work" throwbacks in the video.  This album in general and this song in particular was meant to bookend the first phase of her career - kind of a recap of the last decade, if you will.  In that context, it really works.  

12 January 2022

12 January 2022 - Hoobastank - The Reason

In 2004, this song was absolutely everywhere.  It's a hard rockin' song that brings the melancholy hard.  A worldwide hit, it was Hoobastank's high water mark from a chart success standpoint - reaching #2 in the US and #1 in several other countries. 

Nominated for two Grammys, the song was probably made more popular by the iconic video, which tells an elaborate story of what looks like an accident but ends up being a heist.  It, of course, has zero to do with the subject matter of the song - but it's a cool story.  

11 January 2022

11 January 2022 - Georgio feat. Cœur de Pirate - Concept Flou

For once, I'm going to ignore the œ here - and it's for this reason I've held off on posting this. How much Cœur de Pirate do you actually need?  She adds a little to the song, but it's Georgio's song.  

The song is about the uncertainty of love in the modern era - a fuzzy concept in the narrator's eyes.  He's been waiting for a sign from the girl he loves - someone he should probably just let go of.  He eventually gets there, but the song is painful and sad while he does.  

10 January 2022

10 January 2022 - Olivia Newton-John - Magic

Most of you know that I am a huge ONJ fan.  Always have been. Perhaps part of it is the greatest movie musical involving roller-skating.  I am, of course, speaking about Xanadu

This song, a huge hit for Newton-John in 1980, was used in the movie when her character, Kira, whose origin you don't know at the time, meets Sonny, the Michael Beck character, and they fall in love.  The song, although, in the context of the movie, is a lot more than this, stands alone as a love song - a love that's always been there, predestined.  

Wikipedia considers this song "disco" and "soft rock".  OK, I guess so, but it came at the tail end of the disco era, and still spent 4 weeks at #1 - finishing 1980 as the 3rd biggest hit of the year.  


DJ Dan Murphy and Steve Peach remixed the song in 2011, for ONJ's charity, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre.  She did reenter the studio to rerecord the vocals for this project, which also featured a music video with a large cast.

07 January 2022

7 January 2022 - Paramore - Misery Business

I didn't want to let the day go by without acknowledging this.

You might have noticed in my last post, about an hour ago, that I included a songwriting credit.  All I have to say that, if you noticed that, good 4 u.  

Yes, Hayley Williams and Josh Farro from Paramore got a songwriting credit on Olivia Rodrigo's song because Olivia Rodrigo interpolated the chorus of "Misery Business" into "good 4 u".  The two songs are distinct enough that there isn't overt stealing - but the right thing was done by giving the songwriting credit to Williams and Farro.  

The lyrics of THIS song were written by Williams, about Farro, on whom she had a crush.  


If you still don't hear it....

7 January 2022 - Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u

Olivia Rodrigo is PRESENTLY nominated for seven Grammy awards, including one for this angry, sarcastic, biting song that she wrote - more specifically, THIS music video.  


The song itself, co-written by Rodrigo along with Dan Nigro, Hayley Williams and Josh Farro, was her 2nd #1 hit from her debut album, Sour - a feat that had never happened before.  Musically, it flows between pop-punk, grunge, and, well, music that Taylor Swift could be making.  In addition to its #1 performance on the US pop charts (where it also spent 11 weeks at #2, tying the record), it topped charts around the world and cemented Olivia Rodrigo as a superstar.

Here she is, performing the song on Saturday Night Live in 2021. Clearly, she couldn't drop the crowd-pleasing f-bomb in the 2nd verse, but her laugh right after stayed in.  

06 January 2022

6 January 2022 - R.E.M. - Pop Song 89

Released on their 1988 album Green but intended for 1989 single release (hence the title), the story of this song isn't really the song - which is a pretty standard pop song parody lyrically, and unimaginative in its simplicity musically. The video featured three topless women and a topless Michael Stipe dancing.  This is the age restricted video you can't see below.   


However, you can't show nipples on MTV.  So, Michael Stipe put black bars on all the nipples, including his - because, as he said, "a nipple is a nipple."  


It's rare that a B-side to a single is the same as the A-side, and yet, an acoustic version of "Pop Song 89" was the B-side.  It is, in my opinion, a better version of the song - showing the beauty of the arrangement and the biting parody of the lyrics a little more pointedly.  

05 January 2022

5 January 2022 - Ashlee Simpson - Boyfriend

Ten years ago from this very point - 3:36 PM, Eastern Standard Time, January 5, 2012 - I started a blog.  It was born of a shared appreciation of a particular former sister-in-law of Nick Lachey and star of Melrose Place 2.0, and a thought that she got way too much shit for the SNL debacle.  

I didn't know what the hell I was doing back then.  I made a few sus style choices that I've stuck with (I'm not changing the font, people). I didn't know that I should be researching these songs a lot more.  So, this is what I said:

"Let's open up this blog with one of the guiltiest pleasure songs ever performed.  It's hard to be bad-ass in argyle, but Ashlee Simpson tries, and pulls it off to some extent.   It's really hard to say "Ashlee Simpson" and "bad-ass" in the same sentence while keeping a straight face."

For our tenth anniversary, I am PURPOSEFULLY revisiting this song that started it all.  It deserves a full treatment.

This song was based on real life experience, and is being sung to a very specific person. When you hear Ashlee singing "I didn't steal your boyfriend", she's singing it to Lindsay Lohan.  And the boyfriend in question was Wilmer Valderama.  That's right.  THAT Lindsay Lohan.  Simpson did deny it for many years, but she has finally come clean.  

The song, which came after her "career-ending" turn on Saturday Night Live, would be a worldwide hit, reaching the top 20 in many countries.  

You know what?  Before we get into this video, I'd like to address the SNL thing, directly.  Ashlee had a  SECOND SNL performance.  That's right.  She came back after the debacle.  And performed THIS SONG.  This song, the second biggest hit she had, came AFTER her career was supposedly destroyed.  Video of that performance appears on nbc.com - but they keep their rights pretty tight, so I can't post it here. 

I also want to apologize to Ms. Simpson-Ross (Diana Ross is her mother-in-law now).  I no longer have trouble calling her a bad-ass, argyle or no argyle.  


Also, I wish a video existed that included the original lyric. Because, it's important to note, Lindsay Lohan bought a lot of shit to Ashlee's door. 


Stop hating on Ashlee, people.  She's the Simpson we all need. 

04 January 2022

4 January 2022 - Randy Newman - Short People

Despite what you might have heard, this song is NOT at all against short people.  You are not supposed to sympathize with the narrator.  He's supposed to be seen as a bigot.

But a lot of people didn't understand that.  Including the Maryland legislature, who attempted to BAN the song. Clearly, on First Amendment grounds, that was a failure. 

Still, this was Newman's first big hit. And it endures to this day. 

03 January 2022

3 January 2022 - Asia - Heat Of The Moment

John Wetton was the lead vocalist for King Crimson.   Geoff Downes was in a band called the Buggles.  They both wrote this song - John Wetton as a lyrical apology to a woman he had wronged.  Together with members of Yes and ELP, they made up Asia, a prog rock supergroup.

This was their biggest and only major hit - but it was a really big hit, making the top 5 in the US and charts around the world.  I mentioned the lyrics earlier - it was a lyrical apology - but you might notice that it has a very country feel.  That's because it was originally written as a country song.