Saturday, April 30, 2011
NBC's The Voice seem to be turning heads last week as the audiences loved watching the four coaches turn their chairs based on what they heard, just to the could get a peak at who they were listening to. The show holds the interesting premise that the Coaches are going to define the sound of The Voice of the next generation. So I thought it might be nice to spotlight the music of the Coaches before we head into the second episode. I must admit, they are an impressive lot.
I'm going to start off with Country star Blake Shelton. To say he towers over the others is no joke - at 6'5" tall, he's got the them all by at least 6". He made his record debut 10 years ago, when his first single, Austin, hit #1 on the country chart. He has not looked back since, scoring eight #1 County songs, including one earlier this year. But one I really like, She Wouldn't Be Gone, was released in 2009.
I don't know what it is about Adam Levine, but he sure is a sexy beast. As frontman for the band Maroon 5, they have sold over 15 million album with only three studio albums out, starting with 2002's Songs About Jane. They were awarded the Grammy as Best New Artist in 2005, and have had several chart-topping song. Their latest, Misery, made it to #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in the summer of 2010.
Cee Lo Green is a quiet yet potent tour de force in music today. He broke onto the scene in 1995 as part of the Goodie Mob, rapping and singing on songs he had written. The group was well-received by the critics and the audience. He went on to formm Gnarls Barkley with Danger Mouse, and co-write the monster hit Crazy. As a solo artist, he just recently had the huge single, Forget You, the "PG" version of the song F*ck You. He was featured on the Grammy Awards in a glittery production that featured muppets and Gweneth Paltrow.
It is hard to figure out just what to say about Christina Aguilera that hasn't been said by countless others. For the last 12 years, her voice has been taking up top spots on all the charts, ever since her first single, Genie In A Bottle, went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. When the girl sings, there is no mistaking the talent and ability she has. Check out her singing Ain't No Other Man, which went to #6 on the Pop chart.
To open the first show, the four coaches did a great version of the Gnarls Barkley mega-hit, Crazy.
Catch the second episode of The Voice this Tuesday, May 3, on NBC at 9PM/8Central. Looks like there several more performers who will score big with the audiences once again. I am looking at you, Nakia!
OK, Tom, your birthday was yesterday, but somehow or another, I screwed up. So, as I sit here listening to Sigue Sigue Sputnik, cause I was in just one of those moods, you know, I decided I would try to keep it simple, so for starters, here is a beautiful rendition of Tom's Till The End.
Next is another of my favorite songs, King of Something Right. While I love the song itself, I also love how you have managed to change it up over time, always keeping it fresh.
And, finally, I had to include a song from your latest album, Turn It Around, cause it is just so freaking good. I Do is a sweet song, cause even if you are picking on Micheal just a little, I know it is just in fun. After all, he is your husband!
So, after this little homage to you with videos I took at the last show in Philly, and some of my favorite pictures I have taken over the years, I figure I should also give all my favorite links, you know? Like people can go here and purchase this Turn It Around on iTunes. You can order an actual CD from Amazon.Com here. To learn more about Tom, other than what you can learn here, like he is just adorable, talented and sweet, you can check him out at his official website, here. There you can listen to his music for free before you buy it. And speaking of free, you can download some free music here. And before I finish, I thought one more picture from Delaware Pride.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Clockwise from Top Left: Amii Stewart, McFadden & Whitehead, Patrick Hernandez, Chic and Anita Ward.
Friday night was a party night, after a long week of work or school. You just wanted to cut loose, and have some fun. If you were going to let loose in the clubs in 1979, this is a sample of some of the great music you would be dancing to. While some were declaring that disco was dead, the Billboard charts and the radio was saying something different, as these songs came up big. While 4 of 5 of the acts could be considered 1-hit-wonders, if you make music this good, you will be remembered. Like Amii Stewart when she is singing Knock On Wood.
Patrick Hernandez seemed like an unlikely candidate to have a hit dance track, at least on paper. His looks were a bit on the quirky side, with floppy curly hair and puppy-dog eyes. Patrick was born in France to a Spanish father and a mother who was both Austrian and Italian, pretty much hitting all the European ancestries. Somehow, the singer turned all this into his lone hit, Born To Be Alive. When touring in the US for the first time, a crew of young dancers were hired. One of said dancers was the young Madonna, before anyone knew who she was.
Fronted by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Chic set the tone for both R&B and dance music of the time. Rodgers had already established himself as a songwriter and musician, making incredible music with his guitar. Edwards played the bass alongside him, making cool and smooth sounds. In 1979, Good Times was their second song to top the Pop and R&B charts, as Le Freak had done it the year prior.
With a degree in psychology and a job as a teacher, Anita Ward was discovered and recorded an album. The owner of the label, Frederick Knight, approached her with a song she didn't care for, but he was insistent. That song was Ring My Bell, which became a huge song for Ward.
McFadden & Whitehead sprang from the Philadelphia sound of Gamble & Huff,as perfectly exemplified by Ain't No Stopping Us Now. They worked together as songwriters and record producers, as well as recording their own music.
Looking at those pictures, whodda thunk Paul Young would have been the hottest UK import in the 80s? But the moment his music touched our shores, the hearts of little New Wave boys and girls went aflutter. The first time I remember hearing his music was with the 1983 release, Come Back And Stay. #22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 from the album No Parlez. I think it is still my favorite of all his songs.
Things really started to break big for him with the 1985 release of Everytime You Go Away. It was #1 on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. It was off The Secret of Association album. The song was written by Daryl Hall of the great duo, Hall and Oates. The stars all aligned, and produced a hit for the perfect combination of great song and strong voice.
I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down reached #13 on the Hot 100. It was also from the The Secret of Association album. The song, written by Earl Randle and recorded in 1974 by Ann Peebles. The song made it to #31 on the Billboard R&B chart, but did not make any noise on the Pop chart. The little-known song was covered by Young, and became a hit.
Young had more hits in the 90s, which I will discuss sometime next week. For more information about Paul Young, check in with his official website here. Listen to his music, as it was most definitely part of the sound of the 80s.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tonight could be an interesting night on American Idol, because there has been an overwhelming general consensus about the contestant leaving tonight, and that can be where Producer Nigel Lythgoe can be a bit more creative, and insert some drama. But you never know for sure until it happens
Crusty tells us that a big group of fans will be disappointed their favorite is going home. The judges have their moment, with the focus on Steven. And they announce their guests tonight, Bruno Mars and Crystal Bowersox.
They have a segment on the Royal Wedding, with far too many bad British accents flying. This leads to a medley of Carole King songs, with hits like Go Away Little Girl, One Fine Day and It's Too Late, among others. After a commercial break, we get to see the Ford Music video, in which the Idols sing Our House by Madness.
The runner up from last year, Crystal Bowersox, comes out to sing her fantastic song, Ridin' With The Radio, from her debut album Farmer's Daughter.
There are questions for the Idols, and Casey is first, saying he would duet with Oscar Peterson because, well, would we expect any differently? Jacob discovered the range in his voice when he was 6 or 7, via a park ranger. Lauren said the hardest part of being an Idol is missing her friends or family, especially in the South. Scotty answered a question I couldn't understand, either Crusty's asking it, or Scotty answering it. James has been in several bands, including one with Casey, Stefano, and Paul. Haley says her favorite past Idols were Adam Lambert, Siobhan Magnus, and, of course, Kelly Clarkson. Ryan atttempts to make a Taylor Hicks joke, which seems overly petty to me.
Haley is up first, and Jimmy Iovine says she has the best voice, but her indecision as an artist might cause her to go home. After the vote, she is safe. Scotty is up next, and Jimmy says he has a subtlety that might be overlooked. We don't get an answer on him, but Crusty asks him to have a seat. Lauren is up next, and Iovine talks about her insecurities, but he thinks she is in the game for the long haul. Casey is next, and after the judge's lovefest, Iovine talks about the angry growl Casey uses every week, and that the family dog doesn't vote... But Iovine thinks he will be safe. Casey is also on hold for the results, and we take a break.
James is up first, and following the recap, Jimmy Iovine finds him believable not with heavy metal, but with Pop/Rock. And he is safe. Finally, we have Jacob and his recap, and Iovine takes a shot at the wardrobe choice, and thinks he is not safe. Crusty calls Scotty, Casey and Lauren to join Jacob, only to send Lauren to safety. As we go to a commercial break, I realize he never really mentions if this is the bottom 3 or not, so I don't know what this means. Only that we will find out who is leaving after a performance by Bruno Mars.
When we return, we get to hear Bruno singing The Lazy Song. I find the reggae beat used to be a bit overly cute, but then remember no one is voting no anyway, and just sit back to enjoy. It's not like he is singing live tonight... Come on, you know they tape some of them in advance, using multiple takes, right? You didn't? Whoops...
So we are back, hopefully learning the fate of Jacob, Casey and Scotty. This, I can assure you, is live. However, I will admit I am distracted by the commercial that says he sometimes goes commando. I wake up to hear that Jacob is safe! Going home tonight, we find out Casey Abrams is heading home, and there is no judges save to help him. Scotty is safe. There is a recap of his stay on Idol, and his plan to single-handedly bring Jazz back. Crusty reminds us that Casey is what talent looks like. I manage to roll my eyes as Casey starts singing I Put A Spell On You. He runs around, kissing ladies and young girls. And the contestants.
I saw this clip on Out.Com, and was immediately fascinated by it. I am not sure if I have just never paid attention, but in less than 60 seconds, this clip shows you how a billboard is born. I could not stop watching!
So there you have it, it seems like some Billboards are painted, while I thought in this day and age, everything was printed and pasted into shape. But the actual process shown in the clip is way more cool. I think the billboard was loosely-based on the top photograph, although I have no way of really knowing. But I hope you enjoyed it.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Left to right: Haley, Scotty, James, Lauren, Casey & Jacob.
Normally I would run a photo of the judges directly below the kids, but thought about it, and with the terrible job the judges have done, I would let the kids stand alone at the top of the post, and then bring Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, along with little buddy Ryan "Crusty" Seacrest down here.
Tonight we are going to be hearing the music of legendary singer/songwriter Carole King. In the late 50s and early 60s, King partnered in music and in life with Gerry Goffin, and together they wrote some of the great music of the 60s. The list includes such hits as Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Loco-Motion, Go Away Little Girl, Don't Say Nothing Bad (About My Baby,), One Fine Day, Up On The Roof, Oh, No Not My Baby, Don't Bring Me Down, Pleasant Valley Sunday, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, You've Got A Friend, So Far Away, It's Too Late and countless others. Her songs ruled the charts in the 60s and 70s, and continued on. Tonight, not only will each contestant get the chance to sing a song of their choice, we will also be seeing three duets, making for 9 performances this evening. All songs part of the Carole King songbook.
Crusty comes on and introduces the kids one at a time, trying to heighten the excitement level. Soon, the judges are introduced, as is Crusty as he comes out on to the stage. He introduces a video that highlights the incredible success King has had since starting out some 50 years ago. We also discover Jimmy Iovine will have another friend joining him, Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds. That should mix it up a bit. I think he was a great choice for the night. Or any night, for that matter.
Jacob sings Oh No Not My Baby, originally sung by Maxine Brown in 1964. We get the "Lusky stank" on it, with the over-singing and endless runs. He buried a great song with a vocal floor show. When he fails, he tend to go sharp with his notes, which happened a few times tonight. As I would expect, Steven tells him it was beautiful, just what they were looking for. Jennifer acknowledges imperfection, but whitewashes it with praise. Randy tries the same, but speaks a bit more to the mistakes, and even points out the notes as sharp.
Lauren sings Where You Lead (I Will Follow), with music by King and lyrics by Toni Stern. I thought it was a nice choice, and pulled a song from the Tapestry album that held the Country flavor. Her voice did break a time or two, but she was extending herself more than ever before. I wouldn't say great, but I would say this was good. The judges seem to dwell on the voice cracking, coming off as a lukewarm endorsement.
Duet time, and there is Haley & Casey singing I Feel The Earth Move, also from Tapestry. This is not a song I thought would be a good idea to perform tonight, especially as a duet. Honestly, Haley sang rather well, and really expanded her comfort zone, adding jazz and real emotion. Casey does his thing, which I sincerely don't get. To me, he is cheese personified. Steven is the only judge to make a comment, and he loved it. Stunning news, right?
Scotty tries to do the unexpected, so he picks You've Got A Friend. I thought this song was bound to be a duet, mimicking what Carole and James Taylor do with it. Babyface tells him to soften the opening, which is a great idea. It is a great song, one that lends itself to a Country interpretation, but I am not sure about the performance. It got a little needy at the end, at least to my ear. Randy loved it, as did Steven. Jennifer was crazy about it too, saying storytelling is his strength.
James is going with a love song tonight. He picks Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, the first hit for Goffin/King in 1961. He is bringing out the electric guitar, and plans to rock out with it. While the song started nicely for him, the bridge was too low, and suffered. The last note also went awry for me as well. On the whole, I found it rather pedestrian. The crowd goes wild, as do the judges. Jennifer calls it the best of the night, and Randy says the best of the season, which already had two of the best performances ever, right? Ryan forces a moment when Randy says James might just win it all. Instead, I shall offer a cover of the song by the great Bryan Ferry.
Lauren and Scotty are teaming up, singing Up On The Roof. I really thought this would be a great song for Jacob. Scotty struggles with duets, and Lauren seems to to shine. It happens again tonight, and Jennifer points out Lauren sung her butt off, and that Scotty was there in support.
Casey sings Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll), originally sung by Blood, Sweat & Tears. This was so predictable for me. He takes a blues number and makes it into a 30s period jazz piece. As usual, I find his vocals to lack musicality. I struggle to hear the quality the judges seem to hear. Again, the
Next up is Haley, who is singing the Beautiful from the Tapestry album. It is an interesting choice, one I hadn't really thought about. A shortened edit on the song makes it a little frenetic, but Haley sings it well. OMG, I am thinking Haley is the best of the night tonight. Steven loved it - he's loved everything tonight so far - and Jennifer says she has the best voice on the show. Randy thought it started weakly, but ended well.
I'm Into Something Good is sung by James and Jacob, and it was originally performed by Herman & the Hermits. They had a hit in 1965. For me, this was a train wreck. I mean, was there a point in the slightest?
Even Steven Tyler has to admit that was not good, seeing the folly of that performance. Crusty calls for the recap of the solo performances, and I realize with only six, I should be rating them. I'd have to give the top spot to Haley, and #2 to Lauren. As for the boys, I am having a tough time. I didn't love any of their songs tonight, but if push comes to shove, I'd place James in the 3rd spot, and leave Scotty, Casey and Jacob in the bottom three. On the lasting effect of that duet, I'd have to think it is Jacob who will be leaving us this week. Of course, I might be wrong.
Lucky me. I have been without John Barrowman on my TV for far too long, and my sister sent me a link to the latest preview of the Torchwood series, Miracle Day. The fourth season is being coproduced by the BBC and Starz, who have done an excellent job with the Spartacus series, as well as the new Camelot. I only have one teeny-weeny request. Could there be a seen with Captain Jack kissing Oswald Danes, played by Bill Pullman?
July 8, 2011. I am so there!
It is with a true sadness that I say Rest In Peace, Phoebe Snow. Such an amazing singer, a true talent with a gift of a vocal instrument and a true elegance when using that gift. She manage to seamlessly marry Jazz and Pop music in a way that few have been able to. The miraculous things she could do with her voice, at once sporty and agile, yet subtle and pliant when needed. There was no mistaking her voice once you hear it, so definitive her style. Take, for example, her 1975 hit, Poetry Man. There was nothing to compare it to then, nor has there been since.
Part of the miracle was not only the sound, but at the time Snow was signed with a 'minor' label, not one the the usual suspects. There was no PR machine behind the song making it a hit, it was all word of mouth and radio play. Today, how much airplay could an artist like that get? Little to none. The single went to #5 on the Billbaord Hot 100, and Snow was pursued and signed by Columbia Records. In 1977 Snow released her fourth album, Never Letting Go, and released the spicy cut Love Makes A Woman.
The title cut off that album is a favorite of mine. Written by Stephen Bishop, Never Letting Go, this is a beautiful song sung perfectly by Phoebe, even better than by Bishop himself.
There was an amazing comaraderie among some artist at the time, including one of my all-time favorites, Linda Ronstadt. She was one of the top=selling acts of the 70s, and was always willing to share her success, hiring some incredible talents to tour with her. In 1979, she appeared on Saturday Night Live and brought Snow with her, and they did an incredible cover of The Married Men, a song by the gifted sister trio, The Roches.
Snow left us far too soon, with a rich yet limited archive of music. She had all but left the music business to take care of a special needs child, who passed in 2007. She started making more appearances in 2008, including a guest spot in the movie Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom, which featured her music in the soundtrack. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in January 2010, and has been battling since. She passed away in New Jersey on April 26, 2011.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Tonight's episode features the music of Patti LuPone, Lady GaGa, TLC, Keane, West Side Story, Duck Sauce & Sammy Davis, Jr.
After the recap brings us up to date per usual, we jump into the show, with Mr. Shu wanting to get a booty camp going to help the dancing, but quickly Finn picks off Rachel with a stray arm, and breaks her nose. The doctor suggests she think about a nose job, and she is tempted. When she tells the other kids about it, Santana voices her thoughts that everyone has something they would change if they could, so Rachel should seek surgery. While heling Miss Pillsbury polish her food, Mr. Shu mentions he needs to teach the kids self-acceptance, and it occurs to him this is something Miss P could help with, as she has her own OCD issues. There will be an assignment that will feature Lad GaGa's Born This Way and Miss P. will help with the costumed.
After class, Santana contemplates what it would take to win the homecoming queen title. She thinks she needs the jocks, and see Dave Karovsky, and her gaydar alarm sounds. At a lunch with the kids and Kurt and Blaine, Santana has a brilliant idea, and hopefully will bring Kurt back to McKinley!
Lauren starts putting up signs to run for homecoming queen herself, which does not sit well with Quinn. After telling Puck she was a champion pageant kid, he is strangely turned on. He will help her. Quinn goes with Rachel to the doctor, cause Rachel wants her nose. They are inspired and sing their mash-up for the class, Unpretty by TLC and I Feel Pretty from West Side Story.
I Feel Pretty
Santana meets up with Karovsky, wanting to be his beard. She tells him she knows he was gay - she caught him checking out Sam's ass in the hallway. She thinks they can work together, become the homecoming king and queen, and be general heroes to the school, all the while hiding the fact they are gay and lesbian.
Quinn is not liking the lesson being taught this week, and points it out to Finn. He, on the other hand, is loving the lesson this week, and sings I've Gotta Be Me by Sammy Davis Jr. while dancing with the sexy and handsome Mike Chang.
Rachel brings out a a composite made by the doctor, and the kids all tell her it is a bad idea. Puck points out the girls with the nose jobs are always less hot, and Tina, with her blue contacts in, speaks of self-hatred in the self-mutilation.
Will tries to help Miss P by having her eat unwashed fruit. [Oddly, after the segment, there is a commercial about germs and biofilm in the mouth, unless you use Listerine. Go figure.] She doesn't see the humor,
Back in the chorus room, Karovsky is standing up in front of everyone, apologizing to a disgruntled group who dislike and distrust him. He also announces the change was due to the help of Santana. She comes up, and announces their 'love.' Both want to try to get Kurt back in the school, and they will start the Bully-Whips, to counteract the bullying in the school. There is much confusion.
There is a meeting in Principal Figgins' with Karovsky, Kurt, Mr. Hummel, Finn, Mr. Karovsky, and Mr. Shu, all trying to get Kurt back. After much talk, Kurt asks for a moment with Dave, and asks for the truth. Karovsky spills about Santana's involvement. Kurt demands Dave start a PFlag chapter at the school, cause Karovsky needs to be educated. But he will return. Puck demands an hour of Rachel's time before she makes a final decision about the surgery. On the courtyard, Mercedes announces that Kurt is back, and he is greeted by his McKinley friends. But there is another group that would like to talk to him, The Warblers. While Blaine will still have him in the evenings and on weekends, they will miss him. They sing Somewhere Only We Know by Keane.
To signal he is not only back, but he is ready to join the others, even if there is some nervousness. Kurt sings As If We Never Said Goodbye from the show Sunset Boulevard. The songs was first sung by Patti LuPone in the original London production. I gotta say, he nails this!
After a commercial break and I wipe a tear from my eye from Kurt's performance, we come back to Lauren pulling Quinn aside, and we discover her name is really Lucy Quinn Fabray, prior to a nose job and losing 70 pounds. Will Lauren release the photo-proof, and kill Quinn's chance to be homecoming queen? Continuing the fight for self-acceptance, Puck delivers Rachel to Kurt, who tells her show must think about remaining the amazing and singularly spectacular self, as he performs the viral hit Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce. With the help of the other kids, he performs it in the mall.
We return to Miss P going to a therapist, and she spends the entire session disinfecting the chair. This a light and steady voice, she tells her she needs to treat her illness once she accepts it. There is an air of acceptance in Miss P. Back in the hallways of the school, we find the girls in the school are now looking up to "Lucy" and she is leading the polls. And Quinn respects Lauren cause she walks the halls like she owns them, just he way she was born.
Brittany gives Santana a "Lebanese" t-shirt, cause of Santana's girl-loving-ways. She is disappointed Santana doesn't love her enough to wear the shirt. The kids get together to perform, all with a t-shirt with the perceived weakness they want to own. Rachel comes in to show off her "Nose" t-shirt, and announces she will not be getting the nose job. Kurt starts the song with the t-shirt that says "Likes Boys" and things like "four eyes," "big mouth," and "bad attitude," among others. Miss P joins the group with her "OCD" shirt, matching Mr. Shu's "Butt Chin" shirt. Kurt is singing Born This Way by Lady GaGa.
There is much joy as the kids perform on the stage, while there is a lack of joy with Santana and Dave, who were watching from the seats, restrained by their own imposed handcuffs.
To commemorate the recent heatwave that settled into the area, I thought I would offer up the new video from Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter/filmmaker, Dave Patten. I am a fan of his music, and thought this would be a great time to watch his latest video, Melt.
Yes, it has been scorching hot here since Easter Sunday, and it was a bit abrupt. That is, however, something that is never said about Patten's music, which is sweet, smooth and rolls up up in it. Melt is off his latest album, Exposure. You can get it on iTunes here. You can find his official website here, and his FaceBook page here. I am thinking Dave made the video thinking that the young blond woman would make his fans melt, but I tam thinking it was the handsome young guitar player who can be seen shirtless for part of the video.
Today is a special day for a special friend of the blog, so it only seems fitting to celebrate it accordingly. Happy Birthday, Chad Cavanaugh. Chad is a Sand Diego-based singer/songwriter, who does an awfully nice job on the guitar. I was directed to him by my friend, Bounmy, and it has been a non-stop love affair since. Take, for example, his brilliant song We Got Love. From the first time I started listening to him, I have been fascinated by his used of rhythm and percussion, as you can see here.
That song can be found on the album of the same name. You can find it on iTunes here or at Amazon.Com here. The next song, Opportunity, can be found on his Live On Adams Ave album, a cherished part of my collection.
The final video fro this morning, Dead Man Walkin', was from the first album I added, Coffeehouse Rebellion. You can find it on iTunes here, and on Amazon.Com here.
As you can see from the pictures, chad is a handsome guy, but the music proves he is more than just a pretty face. For more about Chad, you can check him out on MySpace page here, and on FaceBook here. You can also check out his blog here. Or you can find him on Twitter here. You can offer him your wishes for his day at any of those sites, or you can click on one of the links above, and purchase his music. Either way, I am sure Chad will be pleased!