Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RIP Davy Jones

Davy Jones

It was announced that Davy Jones, the handsome English rocker/actor, passed away after suffering a heart attack on his ranch in Florida. He was 66 years old. Jones was perhaps best know as the lead singer of The Monkees, a band cast for a television series that went far beyond expectations, with many hits after the television series itself was cancelled. One of the great songs was Daydream Believer.

While they might have been "cast" for a TV show, Davy, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz all were musicians, and jumped at the chance to play live concerts to prove their musicianship. And all the while, Davy Jones, with his good looks and charming British accent, was just charming the girls, becoming a heartthrob.

Monkees Logo
L to R: Peter, Michael, Micky and Davy.

When I think back on the show, which I definitely remember watching, it was just brilliant. It was as if the Beat Generation needed their own version of the Three Stooges. The comedy was broad and often become slapstick. An adult could watch it and be amused, and see a different meaning to the same thing. When you heard the theme song playing, you knew you were in for something fun. Here it is.

When he wasn't singing the lead, Davy would often be found playing a mean tambourine, and, on occasion, the drums. Here he is with the rest of his Monkee buddies, singing Valleri.

Davy is the first of the Monkees to pass. He and Micky Dolenz were the youngest, and Mike Nesmith is 69, and Peter Tork is 70. Davy leaves behind four daughters. Rest In Peace, Davy!

American Idol Season 7

As we approach the competition starting up on the most recent season of American Idol, it allows me to do something the other similar shows can't do. That is to look back over the last decade of the show, and visit with the performers I really thought were due another look and listen. Hard to believe it has been a decade, but this summer, it will be 10 years since Fox aired the show that caught the imagination of the viewers.

American Idol Season 7

Season 7 in many ways couldn't be much more different than the previous two seasons. In other ways, it couldn't be more the same. For many, when you think of this season, it is the "Battle of the Davids" that comes into mind first, but there was plenty that took place on the show before that finale came to be. After the rumored curly-haired Irish girl was rumored for a while, she was finally going to appear on the show. In interviews during the season, the producers were also giving the behind-the-scenes stories, but they weren't always good. But they were always about American Idol and designed to keep the #1 show in the headlines. And overshadow when the world was abuzz with a story they didn't like. There are several people I don't mention in this report, but there is only so much space. So I focused on people who released music, and hope that includes your favorite. Which brings us to the first story that unfolded on the Idol stage, that of the third David of Season 7.

David Hernandez I Am What I Am

David Hernandez was a handsome young man making his way on the program, when news broke of a past. That past was said to involve making his living stripping in all-male clubs. There was lots of rumors of him being gay, too. Quickly, the producers stepped up and cut off the press on the matter, refusing to comment. Sites like Vote For The Worst were featuring him, as if being gay or having a past made him a bad candidate for the singing program. Just as quickly, the handsome singer went from being a contender to going home in 12th place. And as they have always done, the show neutered him, trying to trip him of his innate sexuality. The buzz was all over the internet, but there was only conjecture, with Idol steering clear of comment, which many felt was a comment in itself. When he left the show, stories of a conspiracy were everywhere, including on The View. But soon the powers that be had him banished to the shadows, waiting for the next controversy to erupt. Over the next few year, Hernandez released a few singles. Finally, last December, he released an EP named I Am What I Am, which I just discovered, and think is really quite good. Here is the title single, I Am What I Am.

After finding this, I thought this was David's poking back at the rumors about his private life. After listening, I think it is just a damn good song. You can purchase the I Am What I Am EP from iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. You can find David Hernandez on Twitter and Facebook. And I might be writing more about his EP now that I have heard it!

Kristy Lee Cook Why Wait

Kristy Lee Cook showed up to the audition with dreams of Carrie Underwood driving her. But this was not her first time at the rodeo, so to speak, for she had previously been signed by BMI and RCA/Arista Records, but had never released an album. So she auditioned and made it through to the show. However, inconsistent performances had her in the bottom three three times before leaving in seventh place. Not long afterwards, it was announced she was signed once again to Arista/Nashville. She released Why Wait, which had limited success. The lead single, 15 Minutes of Shame, saw some success, taking it to #28 on the Billboard Country chart.

Kristy and Arista once again parted ways, and left her shopping her music to other labels. She went on to host some television programs, including Outdoors 10 Best for the Outdoors Channel. She has since signed with Broken Bow Records. For more about Kristy Lee, visit her official website here or on Twitter here. You can find her album Why Wait on iTunes and on Amazon.

Carly Smithson We Are The Fallen

For much of Season 7, Carly Smithson was my favorite singer. I loved the tone and fullness of her voice, and she had an interesting phrasing. However, it seemed she was the center of a bit of an Idol hurricane, all in the blogosphere. Word had come out that Carly had been signed by MCA, as Carly Hennessy. She was the focus, although Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White, and Michael Johns can all say the same. After that contract ended, she went on to marry Todd Smithson. After taking some time for herself, she auditioned for Idol. However, it seemed Carly never really caught on with the viewers, and she went out in 6th place. After Idol she was talking to several producers about a solo album, one of whom was Ben Moody. He was fresh from a break up of his last band, Evanescence. Soon Carly was the lead singer on his next band, We Are The Fallen. In 2010, they released Tear The World Down. The album featured the first single, Bury Me Alive.

The sales on the new stuff were not what was expected, and soon it was announced that the band was dropped by the label. Not long after that, it was announced that Moody had reunited with Amy Lee, and released new Evanescence music. That said, there is still talk of more music from We Are The Fallen. You can find Tear The World Down on iTunes and Amazon. You can currently find Carly singing 8 shows a week in Las Vegas, for the Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis. Myspace and Twitter.

Jason Castro Who I Am

There was a period of time in the middle of the season that it seemed as if Jason Castro was an unstoppable force is the competition. The nadsome guy with the dreadlocks and beautiful blue eyes was pulling out his own brand of folk, pop and rock, all with an easygoing twist. But soon there were rumors spread of need for naps, and perhaps a lack of drive. In weekly Producer interviews, it was suggested perhaps Jason wasn't meant for the hard work. His fans didn't agree, and kept him in the competition to finish fourth. After the tour, it seemed like there were a couple of labels looking to sign him, and soon he was under contract with Atlantic Records. In November of 2010, he released Jason Castro, a wonderful collection of music that really speaks to the artist he is. It blends his music with his strong faith. The first single was Let's Just Fall In Love Again.

And while the album as met with reviews that were good to very good, the sales were somewhat disappointing. But Jason continues to tour and write new music, and looks to another release. You can find Jason on Facebook and Twitter. You can find his eponymous debut album on iTunes and Amazon.

David Archuleta The Other Side of Down

But by the time the season hit midway, all the talk was about the two Davids, the first being the very talented 17-year-old, David Archuleta. From his audition to the finale, the beauty of his voice was unmistakable. When he sang John Lennon's Imagine, the nation stopped to listen. When he sang Robbie Williams' Angels as his Inspirational song, he brought many to tears. But by the middle of the season, it seemed as though David would be upstaged by his father, who the producers let on was causing some issues backstage. Soon he was banned, and the focus returned to the talented young singer, who finished second. Soon he released a self-titled debut, which featured the first single, Crush. The song was amazing, and made it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album was certified Gold, selling over 760,000 in the US alone. In 2010, he released a second album, The Other Side Of Down, but had much less success for that one. He is looking to release another album later this year, and then take a two-year hiatus from the music business as he embarks on a mission in accordance with his Mormon faith. For more about David, visit his official website here. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter. You can find The Other Side Of Down on iTunes and Amazon.

David Cook This Loud Morning

This, of course, meant the winner of the season was another David, rocker David Cook. The self-confessed word-nerd charmed and delighted his fans throughout the season, and never landed in the bottom three. Part of the charm was the obvious close ties to his family, especially his brother Adam, who was struggling with his cancer battle, but still managed to cheer on his brother. David was the first rocker to take the title, building off the success of Season 3's Bo Bice. Cook took command of the stage whenever he was on it, and looked like he was loving making music. After winning the title, his first single was the Idol song, The Time of My Life. It wsa hugely successful, largely a testament to his skills as a singer and musician. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over 236,000 copies the first week alone. The eponymous first album made it to #3 on the Billboard Top 200 albums, certified Platinum with sales of over 1.3 million copies in the US alone. Last year he released his long-awaited sophomore effort, This Loud Morning. The last single off the album was Fade Into You. Watch the video here.

In the year following his win, David took some time off following the passing of his brother. But that is some of the rare points during the last several years when he was not hard at work. He has continued to tour and bring his music to fans old and new. For more about David Cook, visit his official website here. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook. You can find his latest album, This Loud Morning, on iTunes and Amazon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tommy Tune

Tommy Tune Tommy Tune
Tommy Tune Tommy Tune Tommy Tune

Today, the actor/dancer/director Tommy Tune turns 73. My own earliest memories of Tune are that he is exceedingly tall, and most of that height was in his legs! I would guess the first time I was him was when he played Ambrose Kemper in the movie musical Hello Dolly!, starring Barbra Streisand and directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly.

But my first real memory is when I was still in college in Reading, Pennsylvania. We took yearly trips to New York City to see shows, both Broadway and off-Broadway. It was organized by the late Dr. Lynn Morrow, head of the Albright College Theater Department. We'd go by bus on Thursday, catch five shows, stay at the Empire Hotel, and return to Reading on Sunday after catching a matinee. I saw so many amazing shows on those trips, and among them was A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine. The musical featured Priscilla Lopez, who I had seen in A Chorus Line, and David Garrison, who I just fell in love with. He was funny and danced so well. This was long before I saw him in as Steve, the neighbor in Married...With Children. The show was directed by Tommy Tune, who also choreographed it with Thommie Walsh. Here is a number from the show, The Production Code.

I started working in Greenwich Village at the Circle Repertory Theatre in 1983, and he had a show running down the street at the Lucille Lortel Theater. The show, Cloud Nine, was winning all the awards that year, the Drama Desk and the Obies, and when they had some extra tickets, they offered them to the theater, so I saw it a couple of times. Begrudgingly, I have to say it was great. And since The Lortel was just down Christopher Street, I would sometimes see Tune walking down the block - well, he was hard to miss! He also had another show running at the time, a Broadway musical. Nine took the world by storm, and also the Tony Awards.

The next year, Tune was back out there, this time taking center stage in the musical My One And Only. He costarred in the show with Twiggy and Charles "Honi" Coles.The show was brilliant, using the music of George & Ira Gershwin. The show was the talk of the theater community, for it featured model turned star Twiggy, singing and dancing. During the out-of-town tryouts, it was rumored to be fraught with problems, and in turmoil. By the time it hit New York, it was in tune and amazing, complete with a dance taking place in an on stage pool. Tune and Coles won Tony Awards for their performances, and Twiggy was nominated. Here is a performance from the Tony Awards of 1983.

Tune also appeared on Broadway's Best With The Pops, a special with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1998. He sings and dances to Tap Your Troubles Away, the song by Jerry Herman from Mack And Mabel.

So, Happy Birthday, Tommy Tune! You have given much over your career, and your work has inspired many.

New Music • SIRPAUL™ & Loco Ninja

SIRPAUL Body Connection

SIRPAUL™ has a released his new single, Body Connection. The song, the first off the upcoming album The Horse, features gay Hip-Hop sensation Loco Ninja. If you need to give a listen before you buy, hit play!

Body Connection (Feat. Loco Ninja) by SIRPAUL

You know you want it, right? There is no sense in fighting it, cause it will sound great on your iPod, when you are working out. And amazing to run to. You can purchase this great song off iTunes and Amazon. To discover more about SIRPAUL, check out his official website here. For more about Loco Ninja, visit his official website here.

New Music • Matthew Duffy

Matthew Duffy Album Cover, Spunk Pumpers Unite

This morning marks the date of the release of the latest album by gay electro-rocker Matthew Duffy. Spunk Pumpers Unite! is now available worldwide on any number of musical outlets. With the 9-song collection, Duffy attacks the music with a gusto, combining the electronic sound of the dance floor with a sharp vocals, leaving the songs with a razor edge. Check out, for instance, the fifth song offered up, Homosapien. The song was written by Pete Shelley, the title track for his 1981 debut solo album. I had gotten to know Pete as the frontman for the British Punk band Buzzcocks. Shelley, who was somewhat notorious in the early 1980s for his declaration of his bisexuality, at a time when even Elton John was married to a woman, although claiming to be bisexual. Gave new meaning to the Buzzcock songs when you go back to listen. The song is a great one, and Matthew does a great job updating and making it his.

And you know, I just loved Pete Shelley and I loved the Buzzcocks. Matthew's work does remind me a bit Shelley's songs as well as others from the Punk and New Romantics of the 1970s and '80s, with a frankness in the lyrics, and they way they both combined a real edge to the inherent "Pop" nature of the songs. I recently featured the first video for this collection, for the song Man Out of U. The video features the sexy model/actor Ronnie Kroell.

I like Matthew Duffy's music, and can't wait to spend some time with this release. I haven't been able to give it a few listens like I would like, but love the two songs above, so that means something's right about the album. To find out more about Matthew, check out his official website here. You can also find him on Facebook. To check out or purchase Spunk Pumpers Unite!, the album can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dark Monday • Before The Parade Passes By

Carol Channing • Hello Dolly!

In 1964, the original Broadway production of Hello Dolly! premiered on January 16, at the St. James Theater. The show was based on Thorton Wilder's 1938 play The Merchant of Yonkers, itself a failure. In 1955, Wilder was adapted the play and renamed it The Matchmaker, which was successful both on the stage and screen, starring Ruth Gordon and Shirley Booth, respectively. In the early 60s, Jerry Herman was working on musical remake of the show, and wrote the lead role of Dolly Levi for the great Ethel Merman. It was then offered to Mary Martin, who also turned it down. After many auditions of some of the top Broadway stars of the day, Carol Channing was cast in the lead, and will be forever remembered for this iconic role. Here she is singing the song that closes the first act with a huge exclamation point. This is Carol singing Before The Parade Passes By.

Interestingly enough, Before The Parade Passes By was not in the original tryout version of the show. The Producers and Herman thought the show needed a better end to Act 1, and the song was added. In 1967, an all-black version of the show was on Broadway, featuring the gifted Pearl Bailey as Dolly Levi. Here the two Dollys, Carol and Pearl, singing a few of the songs from the show. This was a clip from the 1969 television special Carol Channing & Pearl Bailey: On Broadway.

To purchase the soundtrack, you can find Carol's original Broadway cast recording on Amazon and on iTunes. You can find Pearl's on Amazon and iTunes. Interestingly enough, Mary Martin played the role in the London production, and Merman took the role in a replacement cast. But none were the choice for the movie version, as the studio cast Barbra Streisand, who was just 27 years old, much younger than the role was played before.

Being Human SyFy • The Ties That Blind

Being Human SyFy

As a gentle reminder that tonight at 9PM/8PM Central time on the SyFy channel, the latest episode of Being Human will be playing. The episode is called The Ties That Blind, so I knew instantly I had to run Bruce Springsteen's brilliant song The Ties That Bind off the 1980 release The River.

This is the seventh of 13 episodes this season. At this point, the show has completely departed form the original BBC show, and is telling a story that has grown out of situation, something I truly appreciate. This is a preview for tonight's episode.

Don't forget to tune in at 9PM/8PM Central Monday night on SyFy! For more about the show, visit the official website here. You can purchase previous episodes from the second season both iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Morning with Matt Alber

There are many sides to most of the singers, just like there is to most people. I recently came across this video of one of my favorites, Matt Alber, singing a classical piece several years ago. Before Matt became known for making great Pop music, Matt was making great chamber music, including with the amazing Chanticleer. But this is Matt singing But Who May Abide from Handel's The Messiah.

The next video was recorded in June of 2009, at the Viper Room in Los Angeles. Having the benefit of an upright bass for a show, it seems Matt couldn't resist this bluesy cover of George Michael's Faith.

The final video this morning will be Matt doing what he truly does best, which is singing beautiful songs he writes. This is Matt singing Monarch in 2009 at the World Cafe Live! in Philadelphia.

For more information about Matt Alber, visit his official website here. You can find Constant Crows on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Miss Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy Dandridge Dorothy Dandridge

Well, tonight I thought we would feature some clips of a gorgeous and talented lady, Dorothy Dandridge. Some might know her as the character played by Halle Berry in 1999. The beauty of that is Miss Berry became the first woman of color wot win the award for Best Actress, and many thought Dandridge should have son the award when she was nominated in 1954 for her work in Carmen Jones, 55 years before. However, to get to the point she was earning nominations for her acting in films, the gorgeous Miss Dandridge made her way by showing off her talent with big bands and the like, often singing with music great Louis Armstrong. What this clip of Dorothy singing Whatcha Say? with Louis.

In 1944, you could catch the singing of Miss Dandridge in this movie clip, where she sang the lead. The clip also features the talented of Louis Armstrong and the great Buck & Bubbles.

Here she appeared with Count Basie and his orchestra to sing Harlem Sandman. This was part of the film musical Hit Parade of 1943. While the quality of this clip is not great, her beauty is still unmistakable.

Paul White and Dandridge sing in a movie short, Zoot Suit, in 1942. This was from one of the "Soundies", the earliest version of music videos known. They were three-minute musical films, produced in New York City, Chicago, and Hollywood between 1940 and 1946, often including short dance sequences. Thanks to them, some great talent was captured that might not have been remembered later. This was particularly true for the artists of African American heritage, for they were often not in major films due to the prevailing mores of the time.

In 1951, Dandridge appeared on the Colgate Comedy Hour, sponsored by the soap company and featuring some great talent of the day. In this clip, she is introduced by a young Jerry Lewis, and comes out to sing Blow Out The Candles.

Here she is captured in a night club performance. Dandridge sang Taking a Chance On Love at the Velvet Nightclub in 1953. The song was written by Vernon Duke with lyrics by John Latouche and Ted Fetter, and was originally featured in Cabin In The Sky, a musical featuring an African-American cast.

In some ways, the similarities of the lives of Dandridge and the late Whitney Houston are sad. Dandridge certainly a star, but one who had no luck in love. Her first marriage to dancer Harold Nicholas resulted in a child born with brain damage, adding pressure on the couple and driving them apart. Her second marriage also ended, with reports of abuse involved. And while Dandridge was an Academy Award-nominated actress, she was also a woman of color at a time of inequality. She also discovered the men handling her finances had taken much of her money, and left her in great debt. She had to sell her home, place her daughter in a State hospital, and take a small apartment in hopes of earning the money to pay her debts. All this lead to Dandridge struggling with her demons, and dying of an overdose at the age of 42. A natural beauty whose talent left us far too soon. Rest In Peace, Miss Dandridge.

Being Human BBC • Eve Of War Tonight!

Tonight at 9PM/8PM Central, the fourth season of Being Human will premiere the episode Eve Of War. This comes on the cusp of the Season 3 finale, and the loss of one of the main characters, vampire John Mitchell. He was staked by werewolf George as as werewolf Nina and ghost Annie looked on.

Photobucket Photobucket

This season opens in the year 2037, and her learn the war on vampires is being lost by the humans. The vampires are taking over New York, and the UK is in a bad way. Back to today, we see Tom working at a cafe. I guess even young handsome werewolves need to earn a living. While waiting on a customer, he notices the telltale signs of bite marks and pranks of the walking dead nature, and decides to take action. So he grabs the stake and takes off.

Being Human Season 4 Episode 1 Being Human Season 4 Episode 1
Being Human Season 4 Episode 1 Being Human Season 4 Episode 1

He picks off a couple of Asian vamps, and questions the boy, and we learn the awful news. Nina is gone, killed by vampires. The hit was ordered by a vampire called Griffin, and Tom wants to find him. Back at the house, we see George struggling to understand it all, and trying to protect his daughter, apparently born just before Nina was killed. Annie is trying to help, but George is inconsolable. He has yet to tell anyone the baby's name. As the opening bars to Timbuk 3's The Future's So Bright comes on, we follow a young man walking around the docks to a building.

He passes the guard wearing a "Stoker Moving" uniform, a nod to Irish novelist Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, on the way to the fridge, and pops open a bottle of blood. He is there to attend a meeting, where they are talking about getting George, and taking the baby. Cutler, a sarcastic vampire with cutting remarks, questions the need to take over the world, starting with the baby. He will be trouble for them, to be sure.

Photobucket Photobucket

Tom goes to visit George, and meets the baby for the first time. He finds the brooding werewolf, and tells him he knows where Griffin is going to be. He wants revenge for Nina. Annie pulls him away, and smacks Tom for suggesting going after the vampires, and she fears losing her remaining friend. George interrupts, and wants to go ahead with the plan, even though he fears it is a trap.

Being Human Season 4 Episode 1 Being Human Season 4 Episode 1

The action cuts away to another town, Southend-On-Sea, to a barber shop. There were discover Leo giving Hal a trim, and discussing health issues. The blues are playing in the background, and it sounds like Little Red Rooster by blues artist Howlin' Wolf.

It seems Hal is a vampire, and Leo is an aging werewolf, and both are worried about Leo's health. And about the reaction of another friend, Pearl. Back in Barry, Wales, George is preparing to venture out with Tom, and Annie is not pleased. But he will go out, and leaves Annie with the baby. Back to Southend-On-Sea, we find Pearl strapping Leo down, preparing for the transformation. She refuses to think of his dying, but he wants to celebrate the fact that the vampire, the werewolf and a ghost banded together, to try to save humanity. Hmmmm.

Being Human Season 4 Episode 1 Being Human Season 4 Episode 1

Back in Barry, George is telling Tom about Nina's murder, and how the vampires beat her to death. And then sent flowers to George. They come up to the warehouse on the coast. The charge in, only to discover a trap has been set. Back at the house, Annie is cuddling with the baby. There is a knock on the door, and it is Children's Services, there to check for the baby. She has a cop with her, who needs her to invite him in... The boys are on their way home, only the transformation starts, and they can't make it home. Tom admits he wanted to help him, with the hope of staying with George and Annie, to help out. Back at the house, the welfare agent is taking the baby away, and the policeman threatens Annie. She now knows he is a vampire. He takes the baby away. Annie chases them, only to be stopped by the welfare agent, who has seen her own body bleeding in the alley. They get away. But the time of transformation has arrived, and all the vampires are changing. Will the baby transform the first time without anyone to guide her? George and Tom are transforming together, and are being watched by Cutler. This can't be good.

Being Human Season 4 Episode 1 Being Human Season 4 Episode 1

A gaggle of vampires hang around the baby, wanting to see her change. Nothing happens. Might she just be human after all? When George and Tom arrive at home, they find Annie crying and explaining how they stole the baby. Back in the barber shop, it seems Leo survived the full moon, but just barely. Back in Wales, vampire Griffin is out front, calling for George. He wants George to come with him, and then he will set the baby free. They will most likely kill George. He goes with Griffin, and is chained in the warehouse. They taunt George by playing with the baby in front of him, although he can do nothing to help her. Cutler tries once again to speak to Griffin, but his rebuffed, Then the Vampire of Records comes in, to talk about an ancient prophesy he has found. It seems there are old scrolls that predict the baby born of a supernatural triad will kill all the vampires.

Being Human Season 4 Episode 1 Being Human Season 4 Episode 1

What will happen in the final 20 minutes of the show? You'll have to tune in to find out. Who comes out alive, and who doesn't? What is to become of our friends? Find out at 9PM/8PM Central time on BBC America!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Party Graham •

The Graham Norton Show
Scooch The Proclaimers
Heloise & the Savoir Faire Mika
Graham Norton Show guests (Clockwise): Scooch, The Proclaimers, Mika, and Heloise & the Savoir Faire.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do for a Friday night, and the thought occurred to me that I should do something I hadn't before, like maybe introducing new music, or different music. Well, I love watching the Graham Norton Show on BBC America, and I am often intrigued by the guests, especially the musical ones. They are some of the new names in British Pop, and I have to look some up. So I went off to do a little research, and found a list of Graham's guest, and just picked four musical guests from the Spring of 2007, and gave them this post. I will start off with someone I hadn't heard of, and that is doubly silly for they are a band out of Brooklyn, New York. Heloise & the Savoir Faire performed this song on February 22nd, and I can't really tell you the actual name of the song, just that it was pretty good!

For more about Heloise & Savoir Faire, check out the official website here. Scooch was the 2007 entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, and appeared on an episode of Graham's show. I couldn't find that, but I did find them singing the Eurovision Contest song, the hilarious Flying The Flag.

For more about Schooch, visit their official Facebook page here. The Proclaimers went on to the show to promote an appearance on Comic Relief, a charity fundraiser. The duo appeared on a video put together by comedian Matt Lucas and featuring some of Britain's biggest names, including the 10th Doctor, David Tennant. Here is 500 Miles.

For more about the Proclaimers, visit their official website here. On April 26, 2007, Mika was a guest of Graham, and he had a fun and lovely interview with Dustin Hoffman and Graham, and then sang a current release, Love Today! Well, I couldn't find a good clip - it seems the show ended halfway through the song, so I found another live version. Enjoy!

To learn more about Mika, check out his official website here.

Earth, Wind & Fire • Part 2

Earth Wind & Fire

Several weeks ago, I had a post about the great band Earth, Wind & Fire, which you can see here. I was planning to run a second post, and the time just escaped me. So, six or so weeks later, here we go with more songs that just make my soul a little lighter, my day a little brighter. If you remember, I can't think of the band without thinking of a high school teacher, Ms. Pinkett, who said they were her favorite band, and called the "the elements." That said, I will start with my memories of the Elements, and I know that dancing to Boogie Wonderland (featuring The Emotions) in 1979 is a good one, to be sure. The song, off the double Platinum-selling album I Am, soared up the charts, and made it to #6 on the US chart, and #4 on the Billboard UK chart.

Now, I remember this song so very well, but, to tell the truth, didn't from the title. But once I hit play on the video, I was up on my feet to dance, and snapping my fingers like I was an original member of the band. Sing a Song is a great song, but the title makes me the of the Carpenters first. By the second bar, I have forgotten that band, and focused all on the Elements. The song was off their 1975 live album Gratitude, which made it to #1 on the album charts. Gratitude sales went through the roof, as the album was certified triple Platinum. The single went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The band stretched their success into another decade with the 1981 hit, Let's Groove. If this doesn't get you off your butt and dancing, I don't know if anything could. The song was off the Platinum album Raise!. The single made it to #1 on the US R&B chart, #3 on the US Hot 100, and #3 on the UK Pop chart.

If there is a some that really appeals to my sentimental side, it has to be the 1978 hit, Fantasy. That was the year I graduated high school, and moved on to college, and Fantasy was playing everywhere, be it the parties of that summer, to the early dance/parties in my freshman year of college. I was stunned when I saw the song only made it to #32 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #12 on the R&B chart. It is a great song, and really deserved better. It was off the triple-Platinum All 'N All album. With no further delay, here is Earth, Wind & Fire singing Fantasy.

The band continues to tour today, although some of the original members have moved on, while others moved and and returned! To find out more about Earth, Wind & Fire, visit their official website here. You can find their music on iTunes, and on Amazon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Worth Another Listen • Lesley Gore

Leslie Gore

In the early and mid 1960s, the music scene was flourishing in a way it hadn't before. Part of the reason is a change that began in the 50s, which kids becoming more and more interested in popular music, and getting involved. And it was at this time a pretty high school junior in Tenafly, New Jersey, was recording some music, and it was making a big impact. Lesley Gore was going to school in Englewood, NJ, and recording in her free time. With a blink of an eye, her first single see to take off on the charts, and clearly connecting with her fellow teens. It's My Party went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. The song, written by Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., and Herb Weiner, was the tale of young love gone wrong, and it felt so right to the listeners. Of course, she also had some help in the studio from her producer, a man starting to make a name for himself, Quincy Jones.

It only seemed natural that the next sing would be the sequel to her first hit, at least to those at the record company. The song was written by Beverly Ross and Edna Lewis, and further told the story of the teen and the girl who took her boy, Judy. The record was again produced by Quincy Jones, and make it to #5 on the Billboard charts. Here is Lesley Gore singing Judy's Turn To Cry.

The following year, Lesley was still singing the songs the public wanted to hear. Gore was a senior in 1964, and was again at the top of the charts. Written by songwriters John Madara and David White, You Don't Own Me went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was really one of the early pro-woman songs, asking to be taken seriously as a person, not someone's possession. And once again, Jones was the producer on the song.

The next song made it's official debut in the 1965 film Ski Party, a beach-style film starring Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Yvonne Craig, and Deborah Walley. The song was written by Marvin Hamlisch, and Howard Liebling, long before Marvin was working on his most famous work, Broadway's A Chorus Line. But in keeping with the bright and light motif of the film, Gore sang Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows, which went to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Gore continued to make music that was in the charts for the rest of the 1960s. During the 70s, 80s and 90s, she made appearances on oldie tours and television shows. And in 2004, Gore co-hosted the PBS show In The Life, and came out as a lesbian, having been with her partner for more than 20 years. To learn more about Lesley Gore, visit her official website here. You can also find her 2005 release, Ever Since, on iTunes and Amazon. You can also find The Best of Lesley Gore on iTunes and Amazon.

American Idol Season 6

American Idol Season 6

As we approach the competition starting up on the most recent season of American Idol, it allows me to do something the other similar shows can't do. That is to look back over the last decade of the show, and visit with the performers I really thought were due another look and listen. Hard to believe it has been a decade, but this summer, it will be 10 years since Fox aired the show that caught the imagination of the viewers.

Season 6 came to life just as we were starting to get the music of Season 5 out there, so the flood of songs by Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Elliott Yamin, Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, and Bucky Covington was playing on the radio around the country, we were getting to know this group. And speaking of getting to know the group, the first name on my list is a name you had to learn fast, for he was a surprise elimination and not around for the finals.

Jared Cotter

Handsome Jared Cotter came to the attention of everyone pretty quickly, when he auditioned singing Stevie Wonder's Lately. Immediately fans were lining up, enamored by his dashing good looks. So when it was time to name the Top 12, many were stunned when other made it through, and Jared did not. And it was rather ironic that his Stevie audition got him on the show, and his performance of If You Really Love Me got him voted off. And while this might have sent some off into oblivion, it was not the case for Jared. He rebounded with a job on TV, hosting The Sauce on Fuse TV. He wasn't stepping away from music, and had, in fact, written some songs for artists, including for Jay Sean. He wrote Jay Sean's Down, a huge hit, the 9th best-selling song of 2009.

Yes, in this case, you are watching the video to a song he wrote, not that he recorded. Jared has continued to host for Fuse TV, and write music. In 2010, he wrote Do You Remember, which went to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. To learn more about Jared, check him out on Facebook or Twitter. You can download Jay Sean's album All Or Nothing on iTunes or Amazon. And Jared was not the only writer on the show. Chris Sligh, who finished in tenth place, co-wrote Here Comes Goodbye, which made it to #1 on the Billboard Country chart with Rascal Flatts.

Sanjaya Malakar Tempted Cover

I am not exactly sure where to begin talking about Sanjaya Malakar. I think the jury is still out as to whether he was picked as cannon fodder, or if he was cast as the whipping boy, for they always manage to put both on there after seeing it work so well in the early seasons. No matter which, that child was certainly not prepared for what he was getting into, nor for flack that would be coming his way. That said, none of it, not the constant criticism from the people who picked him as one of 12 out of thousands, the mocking from online communities. But none of that seemed to get Sanjaya down, nor his rampant group of Fanjaya. It seems it was time for Sanjaya to go home in seventh place, assuring him a spot on the tour. He released an EP in 2009, Dancing To The Music In My Head. Last year, he released the single Tempted, a cover of the great song by the band Squeeze, in preparation for his album Life - Love - Music. This is a clip of him singing the song live.

To the best of my research, I can see no proof the album actually followed. In 2009, he was a contestant on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Outta Here. In early 2011, he joined the off-Broadway musical Freckleface Strawberry at New World Stages. Later in the year, he toured with the band, The Brave Chandeliers. To find out what Sanjaya has been up to, check out his official website here. You can also find his latest single, Tempted, on iTunes and Amazon.

Melinda Doolittle Coming Back To You

Many remember Melinda Doolittle as one of the best voices of Season 6, and were stunned when she went home in third place. Melinda, who had made her living singing background vocals prior to the show, was looking to step into spotlight. Her performances all had a wonderful depth, and she never seemed to let a note get away from her. After Idol, she continued to work, touring with Michael W. Smith and others, and in 2009, released Coming Back To You, an album with a retro-soul feel perfectly suited to Melinda's voice. Not only does she recall some of the great voices of Motown, but there is also a taste of Memphis soul, and a dash of Nashville, too. Check out the video for her single, It's Your Love.

In April 2010, Melinda's autobiography, Beyond Me: Finding Your Way to Life's Next Level, was published. She has also continued her work for various charities, including Malaria No More. For more about Melinda and when you could catch her singing live, check out her official website here. You can find her album Come Back To Me on iTunes and Amazon.

Blake Lewis Heartbreak On Vinyl

When it comes to breaking the mold, few have done it quite like Blake Lewis did. A beatboxer from the Pacific Northwest, the diminutive young man had a look that was more Carnaby Street than flannel, and his sound fairly eclectic, blending the sounds of the Seattle streets with the British New Wave and the sound of alternative rock spreading on the radio. Blake sailed through the competition, only hitting the bottom three once, during Country week. Two weeks later, Blake delivered an unconventional and some say brilliant performance with his beatbox interpretation of Bon Jovi's You Give Love A Bad Name. He went to the finals with Jordin Sparks, and finished in second place. After the tour, he went in to the studio and the result was A.D.D. (Audio Day Dream). The album went to #10 on the Billboard album chart. The first single, Break Another, went to #85 on the Pop charts, and the second single, How Many Words, went to #8 on the Billboard Dance chart. Late in 2009, he released his second album, Heartbreak on Vinyl. The second single was the title cut, and it reached #1 on the Billboard Dance chart. Give a listen to Heartbreak On Vinyl.

Since coming off Idol, Blake has been a strong supporter of Seattle Children's Hospital, and their cancer research efforts. For more about Blake, check out his official website here. You can find his album Heartbreak On Vinyl on iTunes, Amazon and on BeatPort.

Jordin Sparks Battlefield Cover

The amazing thing about 16-year-old Jordin Sparks was that she spent much of the season flying under the radar. But not too far, for she never hit the bottom three all season long. After being crowned the winner, she released a self-titled debut, which sold over two million worldwide. The first two singles off the album, Tattoo and No Air, both sold like crazy, and were certified Platinum. The album went to #10 on the Billboard album chart. Here she sings No Air, a duet with Chris Brown.

That was followed by Battlefield album in 2009, which went to #7 on the charts. The title song went to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Also in 2009, she had a beautiful duet with Australian star Guy Sebastian on Art Of Love, which was certified Platinum. While it appeared on Guy's album, the song is an amazing blend of two very talented singers.

Jordin spent a bit of time on Broadway, in the hit musical In The Heights. That seems to have prepared her well, for in August, the film Sparkle will premiere. Jordin plays the lead role, and early buzz has been great for her performance. Her mother will be played by Whitney Houston, in her final movie appearance, so this movie will definitely be looked at. For more about Jordin, check out her official website here. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. You can find her single The World I Knew, the theme from Disney's African Cats, on iTunes and Amazon.


Related Posts with Thumbnails