05 December 2023

5 December 2023 - Charlotte Cardin - Feel Good

This one was sitting in drafts waiting for March.

You see, Charlotte Cardin is Canadian.  Specifically, she's from Montreal - and sings in both English and French.   It's been such a big year for Cardin, though, that it wasn't necessary to wait.

You see, her critically acclaimed 2nd album, 99 Nights, was released in Augsust.  It was a hit in the French-speaking world but really should be a hit wider, because Charlotte Cardin is one of the best pop singers on the planet at the moment.  

Now, normally, that would be enough of an achievement for an artist.  Release an album, go on tour.  Not for Charlotte Cardin.  She followed this up with an EP in September that was ALSO a hit (admittedly centered around a French version of her hit single "Confetti").  This song is from that EP and it is a pop delight, even though it's mostly in French.  

Anyway, this song has been sitting in our drafts for a couple of months, and today seemed like the right day.  Enjoy it.  

It's a new song, so she has not performed it live, and our loyal YouTube listeners have not gotten a great reording of the song live - despite several stops on a US tour.  However, she also performed it live in studio for Basique, on French television.

It sounds a LOT like the studio recording.   

OK, OK, fine.  Here's a pretty poor recording of the song performed live in Philadelphia.  You can see the energy she brings to the song.  She goes into another song - "Main Girl", which was her first hit - afterwards.

04 December 2023

4 December 2023 - Adriano Celentano - Prisencólinensináinciúsol

On Friday, I gave you my oldest draft.  Today, I give you my newest, and it started as a meme,

You might have heard about Adriano Celentano, the Italian artist who wrote a song that was complete gibberish but supposed to sound like American English, and whose absolutely bonkers song was an Italian hit.

I had to know if this was true.

It was.

Yep.  Celentano and his wife really did this, not to make fun of American English, but to show communication barriers - but also, to show that "ol rait" was a universal sound.   

The lyrics do NOT say "all right."  They say "ol rait".  

Celentano wrote the song over top of a bunch of looped drum beats in the studio and added bass guitar - and not the acoustic guitar he's playing here - and horns.  Despite making ABSOLUTELY no sense, it's a remarkably catchy song.

But how the hell do you perform such a dense song live?

In 2012, Celentano did just that, with what looks like a full orchestra.  Also, he would have been 74 when he performed this, and he's amazingly spry.

Those of you familiar with the TV show Ted Lasso may think this song sounds familliar.  

It is.  Season 3, Episode 3, over a montage of Zava.

The song was also part of an elaborate prank on Italian TV at Will Smith's expense.  No word on whether or not he smacked the host and said anything about keeping his wife's name out of anyone's mouth.

In 2016, Celentano rerecorded the song, with additional vocals from Italian star Mina and beats from Benny Benassi.  It's got a different feel, but it's clearly the same song.

This was not the first time he had done this.  In the 90s he gave his song new lyrics and turned it into the hip hop parody he didn't know he had written in 1972.

01 December 2023

1 December 2023 - The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of drafts here.   There are literally hundreds of songs in my queue - and there are a few artists that are heavily represented in that queue and will be future Hall of Fame choices, probably.

I did decide, however, that this December would be one to remember, and I would highlight some of my very oldest drafts - ones that I have been sitting on for a good long time.   My very OLDEST draft was this song from 1990, this breakthrough modern rock hit by The Sundays.  Written by David Gavurin and Harriet Wheeler (members of the band, the latter the vocalist), it is a fun and sweet jangle-pop breakup song.  

The irony is, it wasn't released as a single in their native UK, as their UK label, Rough Trade, suffered an epic business collapse soon after the release of the album and went into recievership.

Still, this song is great.  Enjoy.  

30 November 2023

30 November 2023 (Special Edition) - The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God

When I think of the Pogues, I think back to my days at St. Bonaventure University.  I ran in many different circles of friends there, each of whom frequented a different bar.  The Pogues are a band that remind me of Hickey Tavern, in Allegany, NY - the smaller of the two towns that bordered St. Bonaventure, which was not legally in Olean, either.   

I don't really have a particular reason why I associate the Pogues with the Hickey, but I do.

I do know that there was one friend I have, who passed away several years ago, to whom a lot of our mutual friends will dedicate the first play of the season of "Fairytale of New York". That friend was Jonathan Fabian.   

Jon was a really kind soul, who I got to be a better friend to after the days of SBU and as Facebook came to be.  He announced the deaths of celebrities with "*celebrity* is dead.  Long live *celebrity"!"  So, when I heard of Shane McGowan's passing, there was only one thing to say.

"Shane McGowan is dead.  Long live Shane McGowan!"

Well, since Scott posted "Fairytale" 11 years ago, I felt this was an appropriate song for today.  McGowan will be missed by those he touched, as is our friend by those he touched.

30 November 2023 - Awkwafina - Pockiez

So, yesterday, Spotify released their Spotify Wrapped 2023 to all its loyal subscribers, which shows you what you listened to in 2023.   My top song didn't surprise me - I listened to "Sugar Water" like it was going out of style.

My top artist sure did.

A woman not really known for music so much as being that Asian foul-mouthed comedian woman from Queens, Awkwafina, the stage name for Nora Lum, was my top played artist on Spotify in 2023.


How many times did I freaking play "My Vag"?

Anyway, she DOES have more than the one song.  She released an entire album, and even made some videos, mocking how poor she was - a recuring theme from her music.  This doesn't really apply to her life anymore, as she is a successful actress with a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Vag... er, Actress.  It DOES speak to her modest upbrinigng... and love of cannabis.  

29 November 2023

29 November 2023 - Rihanna - Don't Stop The Music

I'm really late getting one out today because of Spotify Wrapped.  Wow, that's a lot of fun and I'm happy to say that 4 of the top 5 songs were featured in this blog this year.   

I don't want you think I'm going to shut down anytime soon, so let's keep the music going with one of the few Rihanna songs I find bearable.

28 November 2023

28 November 2023 - Creed Bratton - Rubber Tree

This link on this should have been www.creedthoughts.gov.www\creedthoughts

It was addressed during the TV show The Office, but Creed Bratton was playing a fictionalized version of himself on the show.  You see, he used to be in a band called the Grass Roots, and is a legitimate musician.  The SAG Award-winning actor also has albums, both solo and with The Grass Roots.

There's a podcast, called Office Ladies, which is hosted by Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela), who are also best friends in real life (and wrote a book together).  The theme song, if you listen to the end of each episode, is a song called "Rubber Tree" by Creed Bratton.  I always figured it was because they were supporting their good friend - and Creed has been a guest on their podcast.

But it's more than that.  You see, Creed performed this song with The Scrantones - who are best known for their big hit "The Theme Song to the Office (U.S.)" and their appearance on the episode titled "Booze Cruise" - at the wrap party for The Office.   Here is that performance.

Here is Creed performing the song live with special guest Ed Helms (Andy Bernard) on the banjo.   It's a sweet little song. 

27 November 2023

27 November 2023 - Daniel Moore - Shambala

We took a Thansgiving break.   We deserved it.

We're back with a lesser-known song by singer-songwriter Daniel Moore.  Released in 1973, there;s a reason why I call this huge hit song "lesser-known."  You seen the song went to #3 on the pop charts in 1973, and everyone was singing about this mythical place, supposedly in Peru.

This was not the version that made it to #3.  It's still a pretty good version, though.  The version that DID was covered very quickly after this release by Three Dog Night.  

If you know the Three Dog Night version (and you should - it's on Totally Covered today) you can hear a slight difference.  This version rhymes the title with "Ham Bala", and not "Prom Bala", as the Three Dog Night version does.

Still, it's good.  Here is Moore with JJ Cale live in 1993.

22 November 2023

22 November 2023 - Evanescence - Call Me When You're Sober

This song, Evanescence's third top ten hit in the US (and three years after their 2nd), was co-written by Amy Lee and Terry Balsamo - who started off working on very different songs musically.  They played what they were working on and decided to merge the songs.

What emerged was arguably their most heartfelt single, with both the heavy sound that was the band's hallmark and very emotional lyrics. The lyrics were clearly written by Lee, and were very clearly about her ex-boyfriend, Shaun Morgan of the band Seether - who didn't really appreciate a song that painted him under the influence of an addiction as a bad guy.  

I have to be honest - I was not a fan of Evanescence's 2003 debut, despite recognizing Amy Lee's huge voice.   Their 2006 album changed things for me.   It was simply better, more mature.  

This live performance form 2007, which starts with a quiet Lee on piano and ends with her whippin' her hair back and forth mid-stage, really showcases the power of the entire band - the ability to do the quiet and the loud, and that''s probably one of the things I like te most about this song.

Fast forward to 2021 - the band is still rocking hard, although Amy Lee is whipping her hair less.  The performance is largely identical, fifteen years after the initial single release.

21 November 2023

21 November 2023 - The Who - Behind Blue Eyes

I was never a huge fan of The Who.

This song is a noteworthy exception.  Written by Pete Townsend, it was originally meant to be part of a rock opera follow up to Tommy.  It's a beautiful song, and it was a top 40 hit in the US in 1971.  Was it their biggest hit? No.  It is, however, one of their best known songs today.

The Who are, believe it or not, still together, and still perform one of their fans' favorites.  Here they are from 2022.

20 November 2023

20 November 2023 - Tin Machine - Under the God

One day, David Bowie decided he didn't want to play alone anymore, so he put together a band.   It was a supergroup, too - with Reeves Gabrels, Tony and Hunt Sales - these were guys with illustrious resumes.  

This was their first single, from their 1989 eponymous debut, and their biggest hit.  They would stay together for two albums and a live set, before disbanding for good in the early 1990s.  

The music they made was noisy, and fuzzy, and energetic, the sound bordering on punk with obvious post-punk influence.  

Bowie, who wrote the song, is pretty clear in this live version what his song is about - racism.  I wonder if he'd think his song still applies today (hint: yes)?

17 November 2023

17 November 2023 - Alice In Chains - Angry Chair

Short one today.

This one is stuck in my head, and it was one of my favorite AiC songs when it was released, so I thought, hey, why not write a post that's all about it?

The song is kind of a slow burn of anger.  Written entirely by Layne Staley, the song is about a guy who is angry and has been for a while.... and has come to accept it.    It's brilliant, and showcases Staley's talents beautifully.

16 November 2023

16 November 2023 - Pat Benatar - Heartbreaker

Pat Benatar made her debut in 1979 - a hard rocking solo woman act who debuted just as music videos were taking off.

This was her second single, and the first of hers to hit the pop charts - reaching the top 30 in early 1980, while also sticking around for more than four months.  Is it her most recognizable song?  No, of course not.  But without "Heartbreaker", a great, hard-rocking song that also hit it big on rock radio - we might not have all the rest of the Pat Benatar early catalog that helped launch MTV.  

You know I always love to put a live nugget into these posts.  I felt the duet Benatar did with the country version of Pat Benatar - Martina McBride - was a good choice.  

No word if the country fans watching became apoplectic, but the fans in the audience loved it.

15 November 2023

15 November 2023 - Françoise Hardy - Tous les garçons et les filles

This song - a song of a lonely person looking in envy at those in love around her - was a massive hit in France in 1962 and 1963 - where it spent 15 weeks at number 1..... strangely non-consecutively, as it kept coming back to the top spot four times.   

What's really noteworthy about this isn't Hardy, who was and is a French icon.   I mean, she is - she was a leader of the yé-yé wave of music in France in the 1960s, and was a fashion icon as well.  No, what's noteworthy is that Jimmy Page - THAT Jimmy Page - was a session muscian on this song.

What's more noteworthy is that the song is absolutely beautiful and you know what the subject is wihtout being told, or knowing French.

After its success throughout Europe, Hardy rerecorded the song in several languages.  I personally think it translates well to English.  Titled "Find Me A Boy" in English, it's still the same theme, in an easier to understand language for English speakers.

The German version - "Peter und Lou" - tells a similar story, and brings a beauty that you don't normally see in German singing.  The song didn't do AS well in Germany, but was still a top 20 hit.

In Italian, the song is "Quelli della mia età:, which literally translates to "Those my age."  Again, same themes, different language, top 5 hit.

14 November 2023

14 November 2023 - The Cure - Fascination Street

The Cure are a British band, but this song was only released as a single in the States.  It was most noteworthy for what came next.

Written by the band, the lyrics describe a night on what appears to be Bourbon Street in New Orleans, which is probably why it was a US-only single.  It opens with an extended instumental opening, which was shortened for the radio edit.

The song hit #46 on the US pop charts, but was followed by their massive "Lovesong".  

I like this song better. 

13 November 2023

13 November 2023 - Malcolm McLaren and the World Famous Supreme Team - Buffalo Gals

This one might take some explaining.

You see, Malcolm McLaren was a manager to a lot of punk and post-punk bands, like the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow.  It was the latter that brought him to New York City in the 1980s, where he went to an outdoor block party by Aftrika Bambaataa.  There, he discovered hip hop and scratching.

So he, Trevor Horn, and Anne Dudley got together, wrote a song that replaced guitars with scratching, got a whole bunch of then-unknown DJs and MCs to perform on it, and made a hip hop classic.

How a punk manager made a hip hop record might be strange, but there's no doubting its influence. Eminem made reference to it in one of his biggest hits.   Neneh Cherry based her biggest hit on this song.  The song was, and is, beloved and revered.

In 1998, McLaren rereleased the song as part of a larger record that featured songs based on and interpolated from "Buffalo Gals".  Our favorite reimagination of the song was by Rakim.

10 November 2023

10 November 2023 - The Go-Go's - Head Over Heels

The Go-Go's were rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.  This was the pinacle of their career, and they wrapped up their time as a band in 2022 - if Belinda Carlisle is to be believed.  They've broken up before, though, so we'll see.

At any rate, let's feature the band's last Top 20 hit - from 1984 - and the song Jane Wiedlin calls her "favorite Go-Go's song."   Written by Charlotte Caffey (the only one without a short haircut in this video) and Kathy Valentine (the bassist - who wrote herself a somewhat iconic solo), the song is pop-rock perfection.

In this 2001 performnace at Central Park, we get to see the problem with Go-Go's live performances - the camera is almost never on Gina Schock..... but when it is, you can see she's a bad-ass drummer.

09 November 2023

9 November 2023 - Deee-Lite - Groove Is In The Heart

I'm never really sure if anyone reads any of this anymore - because Google has changed how they measure stuff.  On some metrics, it looks like people definitely read this.  Using others, it's clear they do not.

Anyway, that doesn't mean I'll stop shouting into the void.  Here's an early 1990s dance hit.  This song is widely considered a classic, but it really started when a couple of DJs - Super DJ Dmitry and Jungle DJ Towa Tei - got together with a vocalist who went by Lady Miss Kier and formed a wild collective.  

Their first single off their first album was a huge hit and is widely considered a classic.

08 November 2023

8 November 2023 - RBD - Ser O(u) Parecer

For a while about a decade and a half ago, this song somehow popped into my consciousness.  I'm not entirely sure why - despite my Spanish language studies, I don't usually listen to radio that isn't English-language based.  I don't watch much Univision or Telemundo.

And I certainly don't watch telenovelas, and since this is a band that got its start ON a telenovela, on the Televisa network in Mexico, I have absolutely no idea.

And yet this 2006 single is so damn catchy even the most fervent gringos will be singing along.  A song about unrequited love, you don't need to speak the language to understand the emotion.

The song DID end up making the Billboard Hot 100 (read: English-language charts) on its strength in markets with large Spanish-speaking populations.It was, of course, a top Latin radio hit.

Like I said, I studied Spanish.... so when I hear the Portguese version they also released in 1996, it kind of messes with me a little.  It enjoyed some success in Brazil.

RBD (short for "Rebelde") broke up for a bit, but they are back together and touring. This version was recorded a month ago in SC.   They still sound great and the crowd loves them.

07 November 2023

7 November 2023 - Suzanne Vega - Left Of Center

Today is Election Day in the United States.   Suzanne Vega's song from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack perfectly reflects a widely held political philosophy not held by either of the two major parties.  

Seriously, this was one of Suzanne Vega's first hits, reaching charts overseas but not in the US.  The piano in the background is brought to you courtesy of Joe Jackson.   

It's also one of my favorite Suzanne Vega songs.  

06 November 2023

6 November 2023 - The Decemberists - Sons and Daughters

Every day, it gets harder and harder to come up with new material for this blog.  

Thank God we have a lot of pop culture to digest.  Take the Season 9 episode of the popular NBC sitcom The Office - titled "The Farm" - where the Schrute family siblings inherit a farm.  In one poignant scene, they perform a song together as a family.

So that got me thinking - is this some sort of traditional folk song I should know?

It was not.   It was the 2006 song "Sons and Daughters" by The Decembrists, closing their fourth album, The Crane Wife.  It is a live favorite.  Which really shouldn't be a surprise - it's a beautiful song and it was on The Office.  

The song may not have been a traditional folk song, but it sure as hell is now.  The Decembrists are still bringing folk music to new and great places, and, all these years later, the Portand, Oregon band is still blazing new trails.

That doesn't mean audiences don't want to hear this song, though.....

03 November 2023

3 November 2023 - fIREHOSE - Time With You

I was bound to get here.   

fIREHOSE, which grew out of the ashes of The Minutemen after d.boon's tragic death, was never a huge band commercially, but they made a lot of great music.  This song, from their 3rd album fROMOHIO, was recorded in Ohio, which is where vocalist/guitarist Ed Crawford is from (the rest of the band is famously from San Pedro, California).  

The song is something of a love song - a simple, sweet love song.  You don't expect that out of fIREHOSE, who are usually all about the boom stick, but here we are. 

The band, which helped to bust Mike Watt out a deep depression over the death of his best friend, never really broke up - they just went into mothballs at times while everyone was doing other stuff.  In 2012, they toured and of course played this song.

Ed Crawford still looks like he's living his dream.

02 November 2023

2 November 2023 - Flower Face - Cornflower Blue

It's a little known fact that I have a lot of draft posts already written.  However, I have many MORE that are completely unwritten except for a video.  There exist a subset of those posts that have a date attached to them.

This one was in that subset.   It had "2024" attached to it.  It was slated for next March.  

And I've been staring at this post, at the top of my draft queue, thinking about busting it out early.  

Over the past two weeks, I have gotten repeated notifications that Flower Face - real name Ruby McKinnon - is recording the followup to her brilliant 2022 album The Shark In Your Water - released on Nettwork Records, her first experience with a record label  

This song, which reminds me slightly of my old Magnus Chord Organ, is beautiful and melancholy and deeply layered.   This song, which came out of a long writer's block and a depressed period for the singer/songwriter, makes me think of Mazzy Star, or even a little bit of a Cocteau Twins influence.  It's haunting, and fitting for today..   

Also, the sharp tone shift at about 1:36 will wake you up.              

The Shark In Your Water has made me a pretty big fan of what Flower Face is doing in music, and I find myself listening to her music a lot lately.   This is why I uncorked this one for post #1500.  It took me more than eight years to get to 1000.  It took me a little over two to get to 1500 - and I wanted to feature a great artist I had discovered in that time frame.  

So, I guess I need a new Flower Face post for next March.

Anyway, here she is, performing the song live.  You can see the emotion she brings to the song a lot more clearly here on her face, even as you hear it in her voice.  

01 November 2023

1 November 2023 - Wyclef Jean - Gone Till November

I have been waiting for YEARS to post this song.  

It finally happens today. 

Released in 1997, Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean, ex of the Fugees, crafted a laid-back top 10 hit for himself.   

More impressive is the video, which features a cameo from Destiny's Child (who provide backing vocals).  The best part?  Bob Dylan showing up at the very moment he's mentioned in the lyrics - at about 2:27 of the video.

Of course, it being so laid-back and mellow, the song sounds great live and stripped down, with just Wyclef singing and playing guitar like Bob Dylan.

31 October 2023

31 October 2023 - Cliff Richard - Devil Woman

If you know me, you know how much I love Halloween.

Not in the slightest.  

But I do love Cliff Richard, and this song, one of his biggest hits - and absolutely his biggest US hit - was a top 10 hit all over the world.  It sold two million copies worldwide, which was a staggering amount even when album and single sales mattered.  

The song is quite literally about a guy bewitched by a cat who goes to a medium - who, as it turns out, was the devil woman responsible for the bewitching in the first place.   There's no metaphor here.  It tells a story.   

30 October 2023

30 October 2023 - DJ Casper - Cha-Cha Slide

Did you even know this song had a name?

You might have, but more likely, you have danced to it at a wedding at some point.

Wikipedia says it best.  "As a line dance song, "Cha-Cha Slide" is often played at dance clubs, school dances, prom nights, birthday parties, ice-skating rinks and roller rinks, B’nai mitzvahs, Quinceañeras, weddings, and sporting events....."   

Let's face it.  It's a song with a group dance you don't need to think about much.  Mr. C tells you what to do.  Slide to the left.  Slide to the right.  Everybody, clap your hands.  Even your Aunt Tillie can do that one.

The song ended up being a legitimate chart hit in the early 2000s, all around the world.  It is, however, better known for making your grandma cha cha at your cousin's wedding.  

Sometimes, this song is billed to DJ Casper, and sometimes to Mr. C The Slide Man.  It's the same guy.  Either way, he passed away earlier this year, but his big hit lives on.  

It's such an enduring cultural phenomenon, it was featured on Orange Is The New Black.  Don't worry - Mr. C was there and he was safe.

27 October 2023

27 October 2023 - Pink Floyd - Learning To Fly

This song was the lead single from Pink Floyd's 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and was primarily written by David Gilmour, like so much of this era of Pink Floyd music.  

The song is often seen as a metaphor for David Gilmour taking over leadership of the band following Roger Waters's departure, and in that sense, it works.  But also, Nick Mason, Pink Floyd's drummer and a pilot, can be heard in the middle of the song, as if on an airplane radio.

The video was largely filmed in the mountains near Canmore, Alberta, which is a place I have been and mountains I have seen.  

The song was a big hit in the US - on the rock and, to a lesser extent, the pop charts.  This was due to a lot of MTV airplay.  It was NOT, however, a hit in their native UK.

In the post-Waters era, this song was a centerpiece of Pink Floyd shows.  It plays spectacularly live.

26 October 2023

26 October 2023 - Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet with Butterfly Wings

This is the last Smashing Pumpkins song I remember liking a lot.  I was a huge fan of theirs... for their first two albums.  Then they released the utterly self-indulgent Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness double album.

I was really excited to purchase that album until I heard it.  It was uneven and, well, overproduced.  

But the lead single from that album.... that was - is - a masterpiece.  It opens with Billy Corgan in acapella, as if to punctuate his sentence "the world is a vampire" with James Iha's guitar coming in on the last syllable.  The origins of the song do come from the Siamese Dream sessions, which probably explains why it's so much better than anything else on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

It also became a hit song - surprisinging, their first top 40 hit, reaching number 22 on the Billboard charts and rising on other pop and alternative charts worldwide.

This video is the last time Billy Corgan was seen with hair.  That's actually true - he shaved his head soon after the filming.

They did tour in support of this album, but the band self-destructed soon after.  This is a performance from 1995 that seems to interpolate their new sound as well - but it's still a great performance, one of the last with the classic lineup.

The band eventually broke up in 2000 only to reform in 2006 - and went through some lineup changes.  This iteration from 2023 does include the entire classic lineup except for D'Arcy Wretzky, who I , for one, miss - but that reunion is not likely to happen.

Despite using a different bassist, the band still sounds great, nearly 30 years after this song's initial release.

25 October 2023

25 October 2023 - T.I. ft. Kanye West, Jay Z, and Li'l Wayne - Swagga Like Us

If you know me in real life, you probably know where I'm eventually going with this post.  

This song is really T.I.'s by title, but it was written by all four artists - and there's a long list of people with songwriting credits on this one, including one Mathangi Arulpragasam, who goes by a stage name we're getting to - the song was written around a sample that includes her voice - and all the members of The Clash - because THAT sample contains a sample of one of THEIR songs.  We'll talk about Ms. Arulpragasam's song at another point.

The song was produced by T.I. and is pretty much nothing but a lot of boasting.  But it's a collaboration of four rap superstars and their massive egos sharing a song.  

The song won a Grammy for best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group - so all four of them are Grammy winners - and was nominated for Best Rap Song - so ALL those songwriters got nominations.

The song has only been performed live by all four of them one time by my knowledge, but here's where the fun of this post starts.

You know how I mentioned that song sampled by them that led to a songwriting credit for Mathangi Arulpragasam?  Well, that song was "Paper Planes", and Mathangi Arulpragasam is better known as M.I.A.  "Paper Planes", as it turns out, was nominated for Record of the Year at the same Grammy Awards as "Swagga Like Us".   

The same ceremony.

So wouldn't it make sense that she'd just do her sample for them live?

Slight issue: the Grammys happened to be on the same night as the night she was due to give birth.  

Which she did, a day and a half later.

So, you'd expect she'd do her little piece from the corner of the stage and rest?


She OUTSHINED those four gigantic egos with a massive pregnancy belly in what is arguably the greatest Grammy performance of all time.  She opened with "Paper Planes" and stayed center stage with the 4 of them the WHOLE time.   

24 October 2023

24 October 2023 - System Of A Down - Chop Suey!

Chop suey is a dish in American Chinese cuisine and other forms of overseas Chinese cuisine, consisting of meat and eggs, cooked quickly with vegetables ...

Oh, wait, that's not quite what we're writing about.  No, we're writing about "Chop Suey!"

This song is 22 years old as of this writing, which is probably a huge surprise to many of you.  It was released in 2001, and earned System of a Down a Grammy nomination - their first.  It is full of Biblical references - quoting Jesus on the cross at several points.  

But that title?  The song has nothing to do with Chinese food.  No, in fact, the song was originally titled, strangely enough, "Self Righteous Suicide"..... but they went with "Suey" - half of the word "Suicide" - or, in other words, "Chop"ped in half.  

Yep.  It's just that level of logic that makes for classic songwriting.

We haven't even talked about the song - which has several SERIOUS tempo changes, going back and forth between rock ballad and really fast speed metal.  It's like audio whiplash, and it's just fantastic.  

At the 2003 Reading Festival, the crowd seemed to enjoy the song.

When System of a Down performed the song in Armenia in 2015, they had not lost a single beat. The song seems to have softened ever so slightly - but still, the energy is really high.  

And also, the crowd is feeling it - in the rain!!!

23 October 2023

23 October 2023 - INXS - Devil Inside

Oh, crap, we're late on getting a post out.

Well, since so many of you love this spooky season so much (I very much do NOT), here's a spooky song for you. 

Written by Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence, it was the followup single to the breakthrough "Need You Tonight" in the US and became a worldwide hit, again.   It uses a super breathy Hutchence vocal over what Farriss called a ""Daytripper"-like guitar sound", which I don't really hear, but hey! I'm a blogger, not a musician.  Just enjoy the song.

Look at them go.

Look at them Kick.

This live version should also drive home that, although not the title song from the album, that the band was Kicking all over the place.

Also, the Hutchence stage presence is amazing, as always.

20 October 2023

20 October 2023 - The Rentals - Friends Of P.

The Rentals started off as a Weezer/that dog side project.  It turned into Matt Sharp's full time band.  

But who was P?  Who are they friends with?

Yes, P is not only a person, but a famous one. 

The debut album by Weezer was produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek.  He did a great job on that album, and it was a bit of a family affair.  Frequently, Ocasek's wife, supermodel Paulina Porizkova, would join him.  In one of her conversations with Matt Sharp, Porizkova talked about how she had songs written about her... by bad metal bands.

So, Matt Sharp, friend of P., wrote a song about her.  

Turns out, she was better friends with Rivers Cuomo - at least according to Ric Ocasek, who called the song "silly".   He was not wrong.  

:Let's talk about the video.  None of these people were wearing glasses that actually matched their prescription.  If you go to about 2:40, you can see Petra Haden playing viola with a terrible headache because she was wearing such crazy glasses.  Ah, the pains of art.

Matt Sharp is the only constant in The Rentals, a project that still exists.  This live performance is from 1996, soon after the release of this song, and there were ALREADY lineup changes.

But also, live, the Moog synthesizer really shines through.  

19 October 2023

19 October 2023 - Santigold - I'm a Lady

It's weird that I start a post with a live version of a song, especially one that I have to start in the middle of a video because it's part of a longer performance - in this case, an NPR Tiny Desk live set.

Santigold is something of a weird artist.  She's a black artist making music that's a little punk, a little pop, a little rock, a little folk - not necessarily what is considered traditional black music - which, given that she started her career working for Epic Records's urban music division, is even more interesting.

She's pretty clear that this song isn't punk, though.  It's a song that wouldn't sound out of place in the Siouxsie and the Banshees catalog, or the Pixies - as would the rest of her debut album, Santogold.  That's not misspelled - that was her stage name at the time (her real name is Santi White).  

It makes sense to have you hear the studio version of the song, which features co-writer Trouble Andrew (probably better known as a snowboarder than a musician) as a second vocalist.  Since the song was never an official single, it was never released in an official video format - but that's OK, because these people in this video made one.

The video is wild.  The song is super cool.

Since this was her debut album, she immediately toured in support of it.  This performance is from the 2009 Lowlands festival in the Netherlands. Her stage presence is already felt at this point in her career.

Ten years later, she still had that stage presence.

It's important to note that she doesn't have Trouble Andrew and his husky voice to do his part of the song, so she has to adapt it to her voice.  She does so effortlessly.

18 October 2023

18 October 2023 - Sugar - Helpless

Once upon a time, there was a band called Hüsker Dü.  They were huge and then they broke up in 1988, because Bob Mould and Grant Hart had creative differences.  That happens.

Bob Mould went on to release two not-so-well-received solo albums.... but then, he formed a new band, Sugar.  Their debut album, Copper Blue, was grungy and dark and heavy. In 1990, the album would have been criminally ignored.   In a post-Nevermind world, it was a minor hit.  

This song was the big single from the album.It would be the band's biggest hit, rising on alternative charts worldwide.   It's a song that frequently gets stuck in my head, thirty years after its release.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album, Bob Mould went on a solo tour and played Copper Blue in its entirely.   Of course, that includes this song - and, in this performance, you can hear that the song was really all his.

17 October 2023

17 October 2023 - Ice Spice ft. Rema - Pretty Girl

Where the hell did Ice Spice come from?

She's everywhere now, even at your local Dunkin' Donuts.

I mean, who the hell thought to pair her with Ben Affleck?  But it works!

But really, she's making music - good, compelling hip-hop that she's writing (or, in this case, co-writing).  She does not shy away from bold collaborations, like this one with Nigerian artist Rema.  This song is both hot and cool at the same time.  Her current single - she's made four trips to the top 10 and this is sure to follow - it's got all the markings of a hit song.  

You know why I'm posting this, though.

She was on SNL this weekend.  She performed this song.  And her bestie interoduced her.

She's young,  she's new to the music business... and THAT is her new best buddy.  That should tell you everything you need to know about Ice Spice.

16 October 2023

16 October 2023 - Kendrick Lamar - Alright

Kendrick Lamar is possibly the most celebrated hip hop artist of his generation.  He's earned that, too - his rhymes hit a little harder than most, with a musical style that is unmatched.

This song, from his third album, To Pimp A Butterfly, was inspired by a trip he took to South Africa.  Co-written by Lamar, Pharrell Williams and Sounwave, it opens with lines from The Color Purple.  

The song's social consciousness and real beats brought Lamar two Grammy awards on its own in 2016 - the album won a third and another song won a 4th.  Lamar's performance in this video also earned a nomination - it's almost as if he's really rising above.

I don't usually like this generation of hip hop, but Kendrick Lamar is a notable exception, and "Alright" is a big reason why.

13 October 2023

13 October 2023 - U2 - Numb / Down All The Days

This is exactly what this blog was made for.

The Edge getting harassed.  

We keed, we keed.

When this song came out in 1993, the world was used to Bono as lead vocalist for U2 - so it was a little jarring for this song and video to be released with The Edge as lead vocalist (and Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. as backing vocalists).  He was also the lyricist, with the band writing the rather sparse backing music.  

The song actually started off as another song from the Achtung Baby sessions, but the band hated that song, sung by Bono. It wasn't until Flood and Brian Eno started remixing it and producing it with The Edge that it turned into this absolute masterpiece of minimalism and unhinged electronics.  It ended up being a centerpiece of the Zooropa album.  

I remember listening to this song with my girlfriend at the time, who I don't think quite liked the song at first.  (If my memory serves me correctly, she came around)  I always liked it - it was weird and interesting.

By the way, if you listen closely, you'll hear the song of a cassette tape in a Walkman rewinding - one of many samples included in the song.  

The video itself was so iconic, it was the subject of many parodies.   This one, made by VH1 to promote The New WKRP in Cincinatti.  The show was terrible.  The commercial was amazing.

This isn't a song that the band has performed live much - but they did on the 1993 Zoo TV tour.

The band did eventually release the original song they hated - "Down All The Days" - as part of the 30th anniversary reissue of Achtung Baby in 2021.  

They were probably right to not go with that song originally.  You can really hear the "Numb" in there, though. 

12 October 2023

12 October 2023 - Van Halen - Poundcake

This week has been a bit of a struggle for me.  Usually, posts come to me so quickly and easily.   This week, not so much.

For weeks like this, I like to have songs queued up - ones that appear to me in some way, shape or form.  Sometimes, that's helpful.  Today, that was helpful, because this is one of those songs.  

And this song really deserves to be queued.  Written by the band, it was the lead single of their 1991 album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which every kid on every playground knows spells "fuck" - you've tried to justify using the F-bomb because you were told it was a legal term, right?

That sound you hear at the beginning of the song is not Eddie Van Halen's Frankencaster (how the hell he played that thing, I'll never know), but a Makita power drill.  

Lyrically, this song ain't great.  Musically, the song is dense and interesting and one of the best guitar songs ever written and performed.  

Oh yes.  Eddie did use that drill live.  Take this performance from the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards - where the FrankenMakita is on full display.  

11 October 2023

11 October 2023 - Fatboy Slim - The Rockafeller Skank

It's been this long, and this is the FIRST time we've talked about Fatboy Slim in any real way.  Well, there was this remix, but that's it.  

Once upon a time, there was a band called The Housemartins.  They were a major label signed band that lost their bassist right before their debut, so Norman Cook stepped in for their five year existence.  The Housemartins were a guitar band, and that wasn't really what Cook wanted to do.

So, when The Housemartins broke up in 1988, a lot of the rest of the band formed another band called The Beautiful South, but Cook wanted to go electronic, so he formed Beats International, which was a loose collective of musicians.  That loose collective morphed into being just Norman Cook, and so he took on a stage name....

Fatboy Slim.

He hit his commercial success peak in 1998, starting with this song that everyone thinks is called "Funk Soul Brother", but it's not.  It's "The Rockafeller Skank".  In fact, the only lyrics is a sample from some Lord Finesse spoken word stuff.   The song features samples from eight different song.  

This song ended up being a top 10 hit in the US and worldwide, becoming Fatboy Slim's first major hit.

It's also impossible to not dance to this song......

.... which is clearly on display at the 2012 Olympic closing ceremonies. Yes, that's Fatboy Slim on the turntables.  

10 October 2023

10 October 2023 - Pixies - Velouria

I can confidently say this is probably the video that was filmed in the shortest amount of time.

23 seconds.

The band is running through a quarry.

You'd have to play it at about 10x speed to see it in real time.

MTV hated it SO MUCH they refused to play it.

It was made to be played on Top of the Pops, a UK show that required a video to list a song on their chart.

They didn't play it, either.  

Which is too bad.  The lead single from their Bossanova album was amazing.  It's got this alien surf sound going on, which is amazing.  The lyrics are odd, based in 1920's Rosicrucians folklore.  How Charles Thompson Iv - a.k.a. Black Francis - got his hands on 1920's Rosicrucian folklore is beyond me, but it makes for an interesting song.  

Yes, someone published the video at real speed.

Yes, they made another video.  No, it's not better.  Yes, it's the same quarry.

Yes, the song sounded amazing when the band performed it live in 2005 in an acoustic setting.

09 October 2023

9 October 2023 - Becky G x Karol G - MAMIII

Both Becky G and Karol G were at risk of becoming one-hit wonders in the US, with each of them individually managing a single top 40 hit - Karol with El Chombo and "Dame tu Cosita", and Becky with the out-of-character "Shower".

Surprisingly, this collaboration became the biggest hit to date for BOTH of them - Karol G would go on to have even bigger ones - but this song was a top 20 hit in the US, peaking at #15, and that's on English-language radio, so it's quite the achievement.  Additionally, the song was also one of the biggest hits of 2022 on Latin radio in the US and a huge worldwide hit, especially in the Spanish-speaking world.

The two artists co-wrote the song with Venezuelan artist Elena Rose. It is considered one of the greatest reggaton songs of all time.  That's not me saying that.  That's Rolling Stone.

The two artists have performed the song several times together live, the first time at the Coachella music festival in 2022.  I'd love to tell you it was groundbreaking, but it was pretty much as recorded, which speaks to the vocal strength of both women.

Becky G performed the song solo at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in 2023.  It hits a little differently as a solo song, but she's got a huge voice and can carry it.

06 October 2023

6 October 2023 - Olivia Rodrigo - bad idea right?

Posting about Olivia Rodrigo again?

It's a bad idea, right?

Fuck it, it's fine.

I've been posting a lot of Olivia Rodrigo lately.  I mean, a lot a lot!  I'm even considering pushing this post back as I write it.

But this song is just SO good.  It brings a strong 90's pop/rock vibe that still sounds fresh.  Written by Rodrigo and Dan Nigro, this instant classic keeps you involved to the end - and Petra Collins made a great video.

The whole Guts album is really solid and a strong contender for my favorite of 2023.  Literally every song on the album has been a US top 40 hit ALREADY, with this one making it into the top 10.   

05 October 2023

5 October 2023 - The Narcissist Cookbook - Courtney

I was in the car one day with my significant other and, well, her name happens to be Courtney.  We were browsing Spotify looking for songs with our names.  Of course, we found "Tony's Theme" but when we got to her name... we found this gem.

Matt Johnston is the folksinger who goes by the name The Narcissist Cookbook.   He writes some really sarcastic stuff.  After listening to this song and the spoken word diatribe after, I think he is convinced that Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain, but I cannot be sure.  

I am not convinced of that.  

I am convinced that this song is hilarious and will make you think.

Matt Johnston is also clearly a fan of In Utero. He also does a more stripped-down version of this song. 

04 October 2023

4 October 2023 - Phantogram - You Don’t Get Me High Anymore

It's been a while since we posted anything by Phantogram.  It's not because we aren't listening to them.  It's because we don't want to bore you with them.  

And yes, we know it hasn't been that long.  But we've posted Lights songs like three times since then.

Anyway, this was the lead single from their 2016 album, Three.  It was a minor radio hit - crossing over to mainstream charts and getting airplay in my hometown Rochester NY - on classic rock radio.  It was a more straight-ahead rock than their prior offerings, which were keyboard heavy.

You know, I don't remember Rochester radio ever mentioning that they were from Saratoga Springs....

Written by a team including Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel of Phantogram, the song is one to remember and is about relationships that get a little stale, as opposed to relationships tainted by getting high on one's own supply.  It's accompanied by a Grant Singer-directed video that's just great and leans heavily into the S&M imagery.  

As you all know, I saw Phantogram live when they toured in support of Three.  They are easily the second best band I've ever seen live.  (Elastica to answer the inevitable question).

I'd absolutely see them again, and they do actively tour.  Here they are in August 2023, performing this song... and following it with "When I'm Small" seamlessly.

03 October 2023

3 October 2023 - Minnie Riperton - Lovin' You

This is Minnie Riperton.  She was taken from us way too soon, dying of breast cancer in her early 30's.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1976, less than a year after this single was released.  She was given only months to live.  

Despite that diagnosis, she continued to tour and record music, up until her death in 1979.  She did not tell the public she was terminally ill.  

But let's talk about this absolute masterpiece of a song.  Written by Riperton and her husband, Richard Rudolph,  The range she exhibits here is incredible, hanging out significantly in the whistle register.  It's a classic song that is remembered well, nearly 50 years after its release.  

It would be Riperton's biggest hit, reaching the top of the charts worldwide, and it remains in the culture to this day.

Also, she sings her kid's names in her songs.  In this one, she ends with the name of her daughter, Maya - who is pretty well known in her own right.   This song's melody was actually written to distract a baby Maya Rudolph, and that was a mom singing to her daughter to get her to settle down.   

This is the last known performance of this song, in 1979, just weeks before her death.  Her voice certainly didn't suffer.  Her right arm was paralyzed from complications to the cancer, but you won't notice that.  You'll just notice that exquisite voice.  And the addition of her son's name at the end.  

02 October 2023

2 October 2023 - The Muffs - Oh Nina

Four years ago today, the music world lost Kim Shattuck to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  What were we doing that day?

Nothing.  We didn't publish a goddamn thing in October 2019.  Partially because of Shattuck's death (seriously), I started posting on this blog more regularly.  I should have done an earlier tribute to her and her greatest achievement - not her couple of months with The Pixies, not The Pandoras - The Muffs.

The Muffs were a 4- or 3-piece band - depending on time period, but at the time of the recording of this song and their 2nd album, Blonder and Blonder, a 3-piece.  This recording here is not from the 1995 album, but 9 years later - but it sounds exactly the same.  Seriously.  Kim's voice was timeless.

I chose this song not because it was a big hit - it wasn't.  I chose this song because it was bombastic, and showcased Kim's raspy growl like few Muffs songs did.  

The Muffs toured until 2017, presumably stopping because of Kim's health.

She still had not lost a beat.

This is from the 2nd to last show the Muffs ever did. It sounds just as great as the first time they recorded it.

If you'd like to donate to the ALS Association, here's where to do that.  

29 September 2023

29 September 2023 - Bobbie Gentry - Fancy

I grew up on country music.  My parents were big fans.   So, in the 1970s, I spent a lot of time hearing that music.   

Bobbie Gentry was one artist that came up over and over.   This was one of her biggest hits, reaching the top 40 on the pop charts - the second time she had done that - and the top 30 on the country charts - well, she did that a lot.

Bobbie Gentry was also a feminist.  This song was about turning to prostitution to escape poverty - but also, more than that.  It was about a woman gaining financial independence.  The song was released in 1969, so it was a little racy for its time.  

Bobbie Gentry is still around, but she disappeared from the music business in the 1980s.  If you want the other half of that story, you'll want to head over to Totally Covered.  

28 September 2023

28 September 2023 - The B-52's - Private Idaho

Why did a band from Georgia do a song about Idaho in 1980 - a state that they did not play in live until 2011 -  and why did they take it private?

Written by the band, the song reflects the mystery that is the state of Idaho to these beatniks from Athens, Georgia.  It's just that simple.  They didn't understand Idaho - so beautiful! so conservative!!  They kind of romanticized the state - it's not parody.   It ended up being their second Hot 100 hit, and became a dance club staple as well.

Plus, Gus Van Sant was a fan of the song - so much so that he titled a movie of his My Own Private Idaho. He first heard the song while he was visiting Idaho - apparently, they like the song the B-52's wrote for them - and the movie takes place largely in Idaho....

....unlike the band, who, as I previously stated, did not visit the state until 2011.  

Idahoans actually attended that 2011 show and took video.... of "Private Idaho" in Idaho, where you probably needed a ticket to see them live.... so, yeah, private.

27 September 2023

27 September 2023 - Boston - Amanda

What was Boston's biggest hit song?

I know you probably thought "More Than A Feeling".


It was the lead single from their third album, released in 1986 after an 8-year recording time, Third Stage. Guitarist Tom Scholz really built an epic album - and one that didn't use synthesizers.  All over the liner notes.  Tom Scholz really wouldn't shut up about that.

Written in 1980, the song existed as soon as 1981 and in a leaked demo version in 1984 - which raised the anticipation for Third Stage - which ended up being a massive hit.  

The song entered the US Hot 100 on September 27th, 1986, and I swear I didn't know that date when I chose this date to publish this.   In the era of MTV dominance, this song reached #1 - for two weeks - without a music video (although one is rumoured to exist).  

"Amanda" isn't a real person.  The name fits with the flow of the song.  It's also a power ballad - which isn't something Boston really did, so they were a little embarassed by the song.   Nevertheless, Brad Delp belted the hell out of this song.  

Brad Delp tragically took his own life in 2007 - and the band did go on after that, but it wasn't the same.  This performance from 2004 shows he still had the ability to sing such a beautiful song with the proper level of emotion. 

26 September 2023

26 September 2023 - Butthole Surfers - Pepper

This song is, believe it or not, a parody.  

Of Beck. 

This is the Butthole Surfers writing the type of song - complete with slowed-down guitar riffs, spoken-work verses, and backmasked endings a la "Loser".  

It ended up being the biggest thing this very fringe band ever did - reaching the top 40 and getting POP RADIO airplay in 1996.

Pop radio airplay.  Wow, I cannot imagine those pop DJs having to say "Butthole Surfers" every day.

Worse, Capitol Records expected them to follow their success - which, of course, they could not, so they got dropped.  Which, artistically, was a good thing.  Although on a 7-year hiatus, the band, which formed in 1976 and had their biggest hit in 1996, is still together and not broken up.

A song like this is not exactly built for a live performance - but they did it.  They sure did it.

On French TV.  And other places, too, but this was my favorite.

25 September 2023

25 September 2023 - Belly - Slow Dog

I know what you're going to say.

I sure did.  This is what I said.
"(The) EP (that was released overseas prior to the band's US debut), by the way, was called "Slow Dust", based on two of the songs on there - "Dusted" and "Slow Dog".  Belly later released a remixed version of the latter song in this country, and they even made a fun video for it.  Check out Tanya's jangly guitar work.  And lyrically, the song loaded with enough metaphor to make Kristin Hersh proud."  - Literally me, 7 November 2012 
C'mon.  That was a "Feed The Tree" post, though.

Plus, I was less than a year into this thing, and I didn't know I would still be writing this a decade later.

So, let's give "Slow Dog" its due.  Written by Tanya Donelly, she's also your vocalist here.  The lyrics are loosely based on a Chinese folk story about an adulteress who has a decomposing dog tied to her for punishment. 

But it wasn't meant to be a Belly song.   None of the songs on Star, Belly's debut album, were meant to be Belly songs. Belly never should have been.

No, this was originally demoed as a song from the Breeder's second album.  This demo didn't feature Kim Deal, but some of the Star demos did.  These weren't intended for a post-Throwing Muses band.  The timing didn't work out on that album, so The Breeders did Safari with Tanya and moved on, and then Tanya did this with Belly.

This wasn't a song that Tanya had recently written, so the name in the chorus was "Mariah" in this version.  Well, the label loved the song about Mariah Carey - who wasn't a thing when the song was written but sure was when the demo was recorded - so "Mariah" became "Maria".   

The Slow Dust version of the song is a little different than the one that was released in the US on Star.  It's a little more lo-fi - maybe a little more Muses-y.  

I do prefer this version, but only because I heard it first.  

Belly has not been consistently together since the 1990s - Tanya has been working on other stuff, like occasional returns to Throwing Muses and The Breeders, a lot of solo stuff, and being a doula - but in 2016, they were, and they were spectacular.

This performance is from Newport, RI - where Tanya grew up.  

22 September 2023

22 September 2023 - Sky Ferreira - I Blame Myself

Free Sky Ferreira.

In 2013, she released her first album, Night Time, My Time, which was excellent.  This was the second single off the album, which is about Sky's public image - and her taking control and ownership of that (even though this wasn't a single chosen by her to follow "You're Not The One").

It's a great pop song.

So she recorded a second album, Masochism, which she finished in 2015.  

Depending on who you talk to, Capitol Records or Sky Ferreira are holding up the release of this album, which was due in 2015, 2018, and then 2022.  

It's been so delayed that, in August, fans bought a billboard in Times Square to ask for her freedom from Capitol Records.

Well, we hope to hear the new album soon, but in the meantime, she's got her first album's music to sustain us.  

No, we're serious.  She hasn't disappeared.  She's performing.  This is from July of this year.  And her voice is still strong.