This has been one of the weirdest posting weeks I've ever had. So I decided to lean in and really get weird.
In 2006, this was Lily Allen's debut single. On first listen, if you ignore the lyrics, it sounds bubbly and upbeat, but it is decidedly a lyrically angry song - bitter, even. The song is great, biting, and somewhat humourous. It ended up being a huge UK hit and a minor hit worldwide.
That beat you hear is from "Free Soul" by the Soul Brothers.
This is a song that has defined Lily Allen, even if she has grown tired of it at times. She smartly still performs it live, and does it brilliantly, as she did here in a 2019 performance.
The weird part is that its anger was so polarizing, it sparked a response song, by an artist named Example. He used the same Soul Brothers sample as his background. It was almost as equally inventive and nearly as bitter.
Wait, did I say that was weird? No. That's not weird.
What IS weird is that Lily Allen recorded a second version of the song. This version of the song is not in English, but in Simlish. Simlish is the language of the video game The Sims 2, in which Lily Allen was a character. She found it silly, but also, fun. It is kind of fun. But it's also a great way to end what has been a strange blog week.
OK, I know. At this point, we know that Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana - or, was. I debated billing this post as Miley, and not as her television character. I chose Miley, because she actually performed this song live an awful lot, as Miley (although when she performed it on the show, she was Hannah).
Really, Miley was Hannah Montana, and Hannah Montana was Miley - and, in interviews recently, Miley has expressed a lot of appreciation of Hannah, in getting her to the superstardom she's achieved today..
This was the theme song to that show, and although she doesn't perform it live anymore (and hasn't, as far as I can see, since 2010), it's a part of Miley, and Miley is a part of it. The song was written by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil.
On a personal note, this was a show my daughters watched. We had the Hannah Montana CD in our car. I heard this song a lot. It brings back positive memories.
There was a second version of the song, partially live, done for a movie to wrap up the series as well.
How the hell did I come to post the theme to the daytime soap opera The Young and The Restless?
Well, if you read yesterday's post, you may have a clue, but it's not directly related. You see, a different Mary J. Blige song - "No More Drama", which happens to be the title track to the album featuring "Family Affair" - heavily samples this song. I was doing some research for a future post, and, well, I stumbled upon the history of this song, which is absolutely wild.
The song did not start off as a soap opera theme song, but rather as incidental music for the 1971 movie Bless the Beasts and Children. Barry De Vorson later extended his little piece of music for use on the soap opera.
Fast forward to 1976. ABC's Wide World of Sports used the song as part of a montage of the gymnastics of Romanian Nadia Comeneci - you know, the first one to bring perfect 10s to the Olympics (in Montreal in 1976) and also six more? She is arguably the best known gymnast of all time, and certainly the best known of her generation.
The voice-over is by famed sportscaster Jim McKay, and it cemented the positive feeling for Comeneci throughout the 1976 Olympic Games.
Well, at this point, everyone was not only hyped up over Nadia Comenci, but also "Nadia's theme", as it came to be known. I, at my very young age, knew her name - it was an effective piece.
De Vorson and Perry Botkin responded by releasing the song as a re-titled single, which became a top ten hit in 1976, five years after its composition and initial recording.
Incidentally, Comeneci never actually performed to the song that ended up bearing her name.... except during a 1997 episode of Touched By An Angel, alongside her husband and fellow gymnast Bart Conner.
This is more typical of her floor execises - this performance from the 1980 Olympics in Moscow that won Comenci her fifth Olympic gold medal (an event in which she only won bronze in Montreal).
When Mary J. Blige was a current hitmaker, I wasn't a fan. I can't tell you exactly why. I just wasn't.
But times change. Tastes change. And I can see the genius that is Mary J.
This song was co-written by a team including Blige and her brother, Bruce Miller, as well as the producer of the track, a Mr. Andre Young, who you may know as Dr. Dre. For those so inclined, the song follows a C♯m–G♯m7–C♯m–G♯m7 chord progression, written by Dre a fair bit before he sent it along to Mary J., who added lyrics. She sings all the vocals on this track, both lead and background.
This song ended up spending six weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Blige's only #1 hit and her biggest hit song by far. It was also a chart-topper worldwide. It was also the first number one song to include the word "hateration".
There are so many great live versions of this song, so I went with this in-studio one from 2005, which features a full band, including background vocalists that aren't Mary J. Blige.
I decided to include one more version - this one with a different backup vocalist who does step to lead for a few seconds.
Sorry, Swifties - she doesn't have the range of Mary J.
You've never heard of these artists, but you know their work.
In 1989, Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel, two high school friends, wrote a song called "Opus Number 1" and recorded it using a Yamaha DX7IIFD and an Alesis Midverb. They composed it because of its specific auditory qualities - the synth, the taps. It was a pleasing sound to these high school kids - Carleton was particually into Yanni, so that was also part of the inspiration. The song is 5 minutes and 38 seconds of abslolute new-age bliss.
They went on to big rock stardom no big rock stardom, but the song was never by either of them.
Both Carleton and Deel went on to become IT professionals in the San Francisco Bay area. Deel worked for a company called Cisco, who were starting to move beyond routers and switches and into the world of IP telephony. Deel happened to be one of the engineers on the project for the first IP phones from Cisco, and knew that the project needed default on-hold music.
He happened to have the perfect song on his phone, and the rest is history.
So, to all the lazy IT professionals who have set up a Cisco phone system and left the default hold music in place - thank you. You have helped to make "Opus Number 1" the most popular on hold music in the world, by far.
This music is so pervasive, it was featured in a Super Bowl commercial for Bud Light this year.
This 2002 single is one of Eminem's most successful and award-winning - the video for the song even won a Grammy. It is the typical boastful song you expect from Marshall Mathers. But there's a few things about this song you don't know.
The song opens with the line "Two trailer park girls go 'round the outside." This is a direct reference to the 1982 single "Buffalo Gals" by Malcolm McLaren, which was an early hip-hop song and a clear influence on Eminem's music. First, it was great that he included a reference to an obscure old-school song that most of the music world had forgotten. Second, because of this, the writers of "Buffalo Gals" - Malcolm McLaren, Trevor Horn, and, believe it or not, Oscar-winning composer and Art of Noise founder Anne Dudley - got a songwriting credit on "Without Me".
The rapid-fire song and comic-inspired video bring the early 2000's pop culture references, from Dick Cheney's heart attack to his mom's lawsuit against him. One that I wanted to highlight was his diss of Moby - specifically, "You can get stomped by Obie", a reference to Obie Trice (his real name), a artist that Eminem signed to his own label and was promoting. This was also a response to Moby's very pointed criticism of Em's lyrics - specifically, Moby called him, "a misogynist, a homophobe, a racist, and an anti-Semite." In the end, there was no personal beef either way.
Anyway, this is one of Eminem's best received and most critically acclaimed songs. Enjoy it.
If you are a fan of K-Pop music and are following the news, you know that ASTRO member Moon Bin was found dead in his home.
I'd love to talk about this song, which is a pretty happy pop song from a group that was together for seven years. This is, as of right now, one of their last singles, released in 2020 and a hit on Korean radio and elsewhere, like so many songs before.
Unfortunately, because of this sad news, I'm not feelin' it. So, let's talk about Moon Bin. Moon Bin started in entertainment as a child actor when he landed a role in the 2009 TV series “Boys Over Flowers.”. His sister, Moon Sua, is also a K-pop artist, a member of the girl band Billlie.
So, try to enjoy the music and remember an artist gone too soon.
Let's just open up with the question you all have.
Who the hell is MC Scat Kat?
The answer is that they were Bruce DeShazer (also known as Tony Christian) and Marv Gunn, collectively known as the Wild Pair. MC Scat Kat just played their part in the video. Previously members of Mazerati, this was not the Wild Pair's only hit,
The video was inspired by Gene Kelly, who danced with a cartoon mouse named Jerry (yes, that Jerry) in Anchors Aweigh. Clearly, Paula thought Tom deserved some love. Abdul, a choreographer of dance first, choreographed both her moves and those of the cat, which were animated in what was considered to be a ground-breaking video.
The song hit #1 in the US, her fourth from the Forever Your Girl album, making her the fourth artist to have four number 1 hits from the same album (a feat that would be matched four more times).
The song itself is actually clever. You're fooled by the cat, but the lyrics are pretty smart and mature.
About ten years ago, I got more irrationally angry about a post than I ever had. You see, that day, Scott Colvin posted about the Icona Pop song, "I Love It (I Don't Care)". That song was essentially Icona Pop singing over top the demo track provided to them by the songwriter, a Ms. Charlotte Emma Aitchison of Cambridge, England.
I was going to post that song the next day. Literally. I had a whole post written that took a different take than Scott did. I was going to be highlighting the extra vocals, which belonged to Ms. Aitchison's. And, it probably would have ended at that - I mean, until the unignorable "Fancy", of course. Then again, I might not have been into that song so much if not for what came next.
Instead, Scott's post got me looking into the other music Ms. Aitchison had made, which at the time, was a simgle album and a bunch of mixtapes. The album, True Romance, was on heavy rotation for me for a couple of years. There were a ton of great singles on that album, and I posted about a lot of them. At last count, there were approximately 18 Charli XCX posts on this blog, which doesn't include the ones on the other one.
Somehow, I missed this one, and it's a good thing I did. You see, "I Love It (I Don't Care)" is one of two songs she wrote on a particular day in 2011, based off beats given to her by producer Patrik Berger. The other was a song called "In The Dark", later titled "Dancing In The Dark". You can still here that early demo version. It still exists.
When it made it onto True Romance in its final form, it was called "You're The One". And, somehow, I never talked about what was one of my favorite songs from that album until today. It's a synth-pop goth love song, and it is a gem.
Today, Charli XCX uses a lot of autotune, reportedly because she doesn't like her voice. She seems to have found her sound.
She's wrong about her voice. Here's a performance of this song with just a piano, some drumsticks, and a river in Austin, TX.
I was really just lacking for a blog post for today, and for some reason, I mentioned Nelly Furtado yesterday, and, well, here we are.
This song was released as the lead single from her debut album, "Whoa, Nelly!" in 2000, and it quickly became a massive commercial successworldwide. Right off the bat, she hits a home run,
The song was written by Furtado herself, and it was produced by Brian West and Gerald Eaton of the duo Track & Field. "I'm Like a Bird" was a departure from the typical pop songs of its time, with its unique blend of acoustic and electronic elements, as well as its introspective lyrics.
"I'm Like a Bird" received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with many critics praising Furtado's unique voice and her ability to blend various musical genres into a cohesive whole. The song went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2002 (the last Canadian to win that award as of this writing, by the way), further cementing Furtado's status as a rising star in the music industry.
The song is an expression of freedom and self-discovery, with Furtado singing about her desire to be free like a bird and to follow her dreams wherever they may lead her. The chorus, with its soaring melody and catchy hook, became an instant classic, and it remains one of Furtado's signature songs to this day.
You're probably wondering why I'm sharing March content in April.
There's two reasons for that. First, I didn't know what to do with this song, which isn't officially released, and I have no songwriting or recording information about this song. I just know this recording, which is amazing, which brings me to the second reason, and that is that the music and the story behind the genesis of this song was far too cool to make you wait 11 months to hear it.
The East Pointers & Vishtèn are bands with a lot of things in common.
They are both folk groups that were originally trios.
They're both from Prince Edward Island and have known each other for decades, since childhood - in fact, The East Pointers recorded their first EP in the living room of two members of Vishtèn - the very same room that the video below was recorded.
And, each has a member that's passed away tragically in the last year or so - each a sibling of another member of the group, and in the case of Vishtèn, also a partner - Pastelle LeBlanc. We spoke about Koady Chiasson last month. Pastelle passed away at age 42 of breast cancer.
Cancer sucks, people.
In the memories of Koady Chaisson and Pastelle LeBlanc, the four surviving members of these two groups got together in Pastelle and Pascal Miousse's living room and made some uplifting, beautiful music.
Will the four of them get together and make a superband? Was this a one-off? No one knows that today except the four people making these beatiful sounds, but I hope the music helped to heal them, at least part-way.
Yes, I have a Vishtèn post queued up for next March. Don't fret.
I don't like lying to my readers, so I'm going to be upfront.
I use Wikipedia for a lot of my research.
And this song, by Wikipedia, is described as "a retro-futuristic dance-pop and disco-funk song with elements of house and 1980s music that is set to a Europop beat." Which, really, is a pretty accurate description.
Here's something else WIkipedia taught me. The song was written by Dua Lipa, Melissa Webb, Andrew Wotman, Ali Tamposi, Stefan Johnson, Jordan K. Johnson..... Andrew Farriss? Michael Hutchence? How did Dua Lipa collaborate with someone who died when she was 2?
It turns out that the songwriting team - minus Farris and Hutchence -wrote this song feverishly, and immediately recorded and produced it. Then, they all played it back, and once they heard the bassline from "Need You Tonight" clearly, they knew what they had to do - credit the songwriters and give INXS a publishing credit.
Which Andrew Farriss very much appreciated.
But, despite the obvious influence, this song isn't "Need You Tonight". It IS a bold song about a woman questioning her choices in men, and it is a poppy gem. Surprisingly, despite being one of her best known songs worldwide - topping charts worldwide - it didn't quite crack the Top 10 in the states.
Nine years, in fact - which is the last time she released music.
This is her new single. It is the best single released this year by a former vice president of equity research for Bank of America (a job she left in 2000 - this is true). Toiling for more than 20 years in the music industry, she has achieved a lot of critical acclaim and deserves a lot more than that.
Her new album, Just Like A Rose: The Anniversary Sessions, celebrating her more than 20 years of work, comes out in June. It is almost guaranteed to be great. The first single, the title song from that album, is here.
There's a reason I'm posting this today, and it has to do with Friday's post.
A cover of this song by the Breeders, produced by J Mascis, appeared on the Head to Toe EP. When I sat back and thought about this, I laughed heartily.
"The Freed Pig" , in its original form, is a song from Sebadoh's 1991 album "III" that was directed towards J Mascis, the frontman of Dinosaur Jr., a band that Lou Barlow, the founder of Sebadoh, was previously a part of. The song's lyrics were meant to be a biting commentary on the strained relationship between Barlow and Mascis, and their musical and personal differences.
The song's opening lines, "You were right, I was battling you, trying to prove myself," reflect Barlow's feelings of frustration and insecurity in his relationship with Mascis. The lyrics, "I tried to bury you with guilt; I wanted to prove you wrong," suggest a sense of resentment towards Mascis, who had a dominant presence in Dinosaur Jr.
Throughout the song, Barlow's lyrics continue to express a mix of anger and vulnerability. The lines, "I'm self-righteous, but never right, so laid back, but so uptight," highlight the contradictions in his personality, while the chorus, with its repeated line "Now you will be free," suggests a sense of liberation from the constraints of his relationship with Mascis.
The song itself is a lo-fi classic. Barlow delivers the vocals over fuzzy guitar with a bit of detachment (it had been a few years) and that's kind of the point.
I don't like doing special edition posts. I do them because someone has passed away.
In this case, it's Luscious Jackson songwriter, keyboardist and mostly backup vocalist Vivian Trimble, who passed on April 4th after a long battle with cancer.
First off, that's sad, and my thoughts go out to her family and loved ones. Cancer is terrible and she was only 59 - far too young.
The loss goes beyond her family, too - she was a fantastic musician. Trimble's ability to seamlessly blend different genres and experiment with different sounds made her a sought-after collaborator and producer, with her work being featured on projects by artists such as Kate Pierson, the Black Keys, and David Byrne.
Trimble's musical prowess aside, she was also a vocal advocate for women in the music industry. Trimble's commitment to empowering women in music and amplifying their voices was a testament to her character and her commitment to making a difference.
Second, this isn't a Luscious Jackson song, but rather, a song from her side projects with Luscious Jackson bandmate Jill Cuniff, Kostars. The other members of Luscious Jackson do also appear on the project, which was recorded at Kate Schellenbach's home studio along with the rest of the Klassics With a "K" album.
Cowritten by Trimble and Cuniff, "Red Umbrella" is a beautiful and heartbreaking song that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved and lost. It's a testament to the power of music to evoke emotions and memories, and a reminder that even in heartbreak, there is still beauty to be found. Strongly featuring Trimble's vocals, it serves as a reminder of what we as fans are going to miss.
You know, they had more songs than "Cannonball", right?
This was the single that came two singles later, the last issued off the Last Splash album. Weirdly, though, it's a different take of the song - not the album version. This version and its key shift are aligned with their live versions of the song.
You could say this was the first single released from the Head To Toe EP, which included this version.
In both versions of the song, the instrumental arrangement is minimal and fuzzy. This version, produced by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., is in a better register for Kim Deal's gravely delivery and the background vocals of Kelley Deal and Josephine Wiggs.
The song received fairly solid airplay on alternative radio.
Today, we talk about s a song that tells the story of the chaotic adventures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. From getting marriedm to dealing with the media's unrelenting scrutiny, the song covers a lot of ground. It's a tale of two people deeply in love, doing whatever it takes to be together. And as a bonus, it's kind of a fun song.
The song starts with John lamenting the fact that he and his beloved Yoko can't seem to catch a break. They're constantly in the public eye, and everyone seems to have an opinion about their relationship. But despite the criticism, John and Yoko remain steadfast in their love for each other.
One of the standout lines in the song is "Christ, you know it ain't easy / You know how hard it can be / The way things are going / They're gonna crucify me." It's a tongue-in-cheek reference, comparing John and Yoko's relationship to that of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The media had a field day with that one.
But despite the scrutiny, John and Yoko remained devoted to each other. They even got married in Gibraltar, much to the surprise of their fans and the media. In the song, John sings about the couple's trip to Paris and their attempts to find a place to stay. "Finally made the plane into Paris / Honeymooning down by the Seine / Peter Brown called to say / 'You can make it okay, you can get married in Gibraltar near Spain.'" Of course, the line about Peter Brown is a reference to the Beatles' assistant of the same name. Peter helped John and Yoko navigate the logistics of getting married in Gibraltar, and it's clear that John was grateful for his help.
The Ballad of John and Yoko is a song that celebrates love in all its messy, complicated glory. It's a reminder that even when the world seems to be against you, love can conquer all. And it's also a reminder that even the Beatles had their fair share of drama.
It's worth noting that The Ballad of John and Yoko was recorded by only two Beatles: John Lennon and Paul McCartney. George Harrison and Ringo Starr were either on vacation or working on other projects. But John and Paul didn't let that stop them from creating a hit song. It was released as a single on May 30, 1969, and quickly climbed the charts. The song reached number one in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and several other countries. In the United States, it peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
Although the song only featured John and Paul, Ringo and George DO appear with them in the video, playing instruments. It would be the last single on which all four Beatles would appear together.
This is probably the longest single music video we've ever posted here. But it's worth it.
Bad Bunny is arguably the biggest star to come out of Puerto Rico in a generation, and he's very proud and very defensive of his roots and his home. HIs reggaeton-infused music has made him an international superstar. He uses his huge platform for good - highlighting issues that are plaguing Puerto Rico.
One of the biggest issues that has plagued Puerto Rico over the last decade has been the weakness of their power grid. LUMA Energy, the company that primarily controls the grid that took over the grid in 2021 from the government for $115 million, has been under fire for mismanaging exactly that. A joint venture between Texas company Quanta Services and Alberta company ATCO for the express purpose of managing and improving the grid, it serves the further benefit for those two companies of being a tax shelter, as it was established as a result of Act 22 of 2012, which exempts external investors from taxation on passive income. LUMA is by far not the only beneficiary of Act 22, as a lot of real estate investors are also injecting their money into the territory and displacing residents.
So, you're thinking, "Well, that paragraph was quite the left turn. What the hell does that have to do with reggaeton?"
"El Apagón" literally translates to "The Blackout". 53 seconds into this video for his song, you are introduced to a 20-minute documentary on LUMA Energy and Act 22 - and it's really, really well done. The reporter, Bianca Graulau, is eloquent and well-researched, and passionate about the subject.- she does a LOT more videos on her YouTube channel, on both the power grid and Act 22, as well as other issues that impact Puerto Rico (and, also, interestingly, Hawaii, which has a similar history of United States colonization).
I encourage you to watch this video. If you don't know Spanish, turn captions on - it has English subtitiles. Also, please go check out Bianca Graulau's other videos, many of them in English, as they give a lot more detail than this video can.
I am going to talk about the music, but talking about that video first was important.
Lyrically, the song is typically boastful - he talks about how he is a particular fan of the Puerto Rican variety of a particular body part only found on a woman, but in a somewhat vulgar manner ("Me gusta la chocha de Puerto Rico") - but it's also a fun song, incorporating pop and trap sounds in with the reggaeton. It's a song that expresses pride about Puerto Rico - about being proud of his homeland. It's NOT the political song you think it is - but he DID use the title and song to suck people into a bigger message.
Gabriela Berlingeri, his former girlfriend, provides the outro song, which is a pure pop contrast. She's not a famous musician in her own right (although she has worked on several of Bad Bunny's song, including recording reference vocals for Jennifer Lopez on another song) - and the selection of her as a singer here is by design and not just because Bad Bunny and her had adopted a puppy together - but she, just a citizen, sings passionately about HER homeland.
If you think Prince sounds a little squeakier than usual, you're right - he's using a sped-up voice on the recording of this song. You see, Prince recorded an album in 1986 as an artist named Camille - with sped-up vocals feminizing his voice. It was never released (although it looks like it is getting a release, possibly as part of a Sign O' The Times rerelease), but he still had the technology and used it on this song, which he DID release.
The song went to #2 on the US pop charts and ended up being a worldwide hit, immortalizing the World Series of Love. By the way, the year this was released, 1987, the World Series came to Minneapolis, Prince's hometown.