Friday, September 19, 2014

JANET JACKSON'S RHYTHM NATION 1814 WAS RELEASED 25 YEARS AGO TODAY

Janet Jackson had a lot to prove. Not only was her brother the reigning King of Pop, she was coming off of her first #1 album, 1986's Control, which had five top 5 singles and one more top 20 single, and she was competing with the likes of Madonna, Whitney Houston and Paula Abdul on the charts. What Janet, along with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, put together was a concept album about social injustice, racism, substance abuse and poverty. Of course, there was a little fun thrown in there too. The result was the mega-smash album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. The name was explained by Janet like this:
"The use of the number "1814" is twofold. First, R (Rhythm) is the 18th letter of the alphabet and N (Nation) is the 14th. The second is that while writing [Rhythm Nation] I was kidding around, saying, 'God, you guys, I feel like this could be the national anthem for the '90s' ... Just by a crazy chance we decided to look up when Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem, and it was September 14, 1814."
A mix of R&B, jazz, dance music and straight up rock and roll, Rhythm Nation would chart singles for the next two years, have seven top 5 singles, with four of those hitting #1. That is the most top 5 singles from an album EVER. Booming with stylish, black and white, often military inspired music videos, Rhythm Nation took over MTV and the charts starting with the classically Janet track Miss You Much. Released just ahead of the album, Miss You Much rocketed to the top of the Hot 100 on October 7, 1989. The black and white video introduced us to her troop of dancers, the "rhythm nation", and set us up for a barrage of fantastic videos and singles. Rhythm Nation (#2 US) followed with one of the most iconic dance videos of all time, and lead to her third single and second #1 from the album Escapade. Escapade took a more gentle, playful tone and spent three weeks at #1 in March of 1990. Alright, featuring Heavy D, came next, hitting #4 in the spring and #2 with the ballad Come Back to Me in the summer. Janet was back at #1 with the self-written rock number Black Cat by the end of summer. Finally, on January 19, 1991, over two years after the release of the album, Janet revamped her style, her body and the seventh single and fourth #1 song from Rhythm Nation, Love Will Never Do (Without You) hit #1. With that, Rhythm Nation 1814 became the first album to score #1 hits in three consecutive years. Suck on that, Michael! OH, and the album actually had an eighth hit on the US Dance and R&B charts with the promotional release of State of the World hitting #9 and #23 respectively. BAM! Rhythm Nation changed the way Janet was seen, the way women of color were perceived in the music industry and the way music videos were used to promote albums. It was a stellar follow up to a strong album that cemented Janet as more than just Michael's little sister and put here in the big leagues for good. Listening to the tracks today, they still are as fresh and exciting as they were 25 years ago. Take a look and listen below and enjoy Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ANNIE LENNOX SINGS THAT SHIZ OUT OF "I PUT A SPELL ON YOU"

As I wrote about a couple of days ago, Annie Lennox has a new album, Nostalgia, coming out October 21st (September 30th on vinyl) and the lead single is her boner-inducing rendition of the 1956 classic I Put A Spell On You. Now, Annie is never one to give a lazy-ass vocal, but bitch sings this right from the kitty, y'all!! Here she is, singing live with her band at 59 years of age and sounding like a B-O-S-S! Enjoy below and pass it along to anyone with ear-holes. And now, you're hers.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: THE HUMAN LEAGUE

The Human League may be best known for their #1 hit Don't You Want Me, but their influence on modern electronic music is actually quite important. Formed initially in 1977 in Sheffield, the group was originally an all-male, avant-garde, synth band. After gaining some momentum through innovative live performances and touring as the opening act for Iggy Pop in 1979, two of the founding members, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, left the group when lead singer Philip Oakey insisted on incorporating more pop elements into their electronic sound. Retaining the name The Human League, Oakley had only a few weeks to enlist more members into the group to go on tour for their now record label, Virgin. While out scouting for a female backup singer/dancer to join him on tour, Oakey went to the Crazy Daisy Nightclub on High Street and saw two young girls dancing with abandon and immediately, without asking for any performing experience, asked them to join him on tour as backup singers and dancers. From that time to date Susan Anne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, then 17 and 18 respectively, have been an integral part of The Human League. After touring and releasing two singles from their 1981 #1 album Dare!, the UK #3 Love Action (I Believe In Love) and UK #6 Open Your Heart,  record execs were keen to release one more single from the album to capitalize on the band's growing popularity. They chose the album track Don't You Want Me as the fourth single over Oakey's objection. He thought the track was weak and would damage the band's image. A very expensive (for the time) video was shot for the track and the rest is history. The song hit #1 on the UK charts over Christmas 1981 and later in 1982 hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US as well. What followed was a string of eclectic, dramatic and singular songs that were groundbreaking in their sound and influence: Mirror Man (#2 UK, #30 US), (Keep Feeling) Fascination (#2 UK, #8 US), and even another US #1 with the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Human (#8 UK). The band has stayed together, even posting more songs on the charts with 1990's Heart Like a Wheel (#29 UK, #32 US) and 1995's Tell Me When (#6 UK, #31 US). The group's last full album of original songs, Credo, was released in 2011 and received favorable reviews from critics but The Human League will more than likely be remembered for their fantastic 80s/90s output, and that is nothing to sneeze at. Such artists as Utah Saints, Ministry of Sound, Craig David, George Michael, KMFDM and Robbie Williams have all cited The Human League as influences on their work. I'd say that is a legacy that will keep running for a long, long time. Here are some of The Human League's biggest hits and best videos. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HUMPDAY SEXY SONG: U GOT THE LOOK - PRINCE & SHEENA EASTON

"Ur face is jammin'. Ur body's hecka-slammin'. If love is good let's get 2 rammin'" Ouch! In 1987 Prince released what some argue is his most ambitious and epic album ever, Sign O' The Times. The second and highest charting single from that double album was one of Prince's most radio-friendly singles of the 80s, the amazing U Got The Look. A duet with his then-love-interest Sheena Easton, U Got The Look reached #2 on the Hot 100 and stayed in the top 10 for six weeks. Prince sings in his sped-up, alter ego voice which he calls "Camille" (who seems to be making a comeback this year), but unlike other the songs credited to Camille from Sign O' The Times  (If I Was Your Girlfriend and Housequake) U Got The Look was not intended for the unreleased/abandoned album project Camille, The video for the song was filmed in Paris, France during Prince's Sign O' The Times Tour and was included in the documentary film of the tour as a dream sequence. In the plethora of sexed up songs released by Prince over the years, I would have to say this is one of the sexiest and certainly the sexiest to be released commercially as a single. So here it is, the song for you to hump something to all day. Enjoy U Got The Look.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR STEVIE NICKS' NEW SONG, LADY

Stevie Nicks' new album, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, will be out October 7th and she's been previewing clips of her unreleased classics that will be on the album for a couple of months. Here is the first official video for the single Lady, a beautiful and simple ballad with a beautiful and simple video. Lady was originally written for inclusion on the Buckingham Nicks project that she and former boyfriend and Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham released pre-Fleetwood Mac in 1973. All the songs on the album were written in the 70s or 80s and have never been officially released by Stevie. Can't wait for this!!!! Enjoy the gorgeous Lady and head over the iTunes to pre-order 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault.

Monday, September 15, 2014

ANNIE LENNOX TALKS ABOUT HER UPCOMING ALBUM, NOSTALGIA

YES, GAWD!!!! Annie Lennox is the goddess of blue-eyed soul, and this year she is taking that golden voice and wrapping it around some of her favorite songs from her childhood. On the upcoming album Nostalgia (out on vinyl September 30th, with a full release October 21st in the US and 27th internationally) Lennox delivers such standards as I Put A Spell On You, Georgia On My Mind, Summertime and Strange Fruit. Most of the collection are songs written in the 30s, 40s and 50s with Lennox bringing her individual stamp to modernize them. You can hear snippets of a few of the songs in the preview clip below (which looks like the first in a series of previews) and hear Annie talk about what to expect from the album. I can't wait!!! I worship Annie Lennox and I know this is going to be a stunning set. Watch below. Here is the full track listing for Nostalgia.

1. Memphis In June
2. Georgia On My Mind
3. I Put A Spell On You
4. Summertime
5. I Cover The Waterfront
6. Strange Fruit
7. God Bless The Child
8. September In The Rain
9. You Belong To Me
10. I Can Dream, Can't I?
11. The Nearness of You
12. Mood Indigo

HAPPY MONDAY SONG: GOOD STUFF - THE B-52'S

You can't NOT smile when you hear The B-52's. (unless you are completely dead inside, in which case I'm sorry.) For this Monday's pick-me-up I thought I'd favor you with one of their shiniest, silliest of the group's songs, Good Stuff. This little gem from 1992 was the lead single off of their sixth studio album of the same name and reached #28 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #21 in the UK. The video is just as delightfully campy as the song and features a cameo by none other than RuPaul, who also featured in their video for Love Shack. FYI, the album Good Stuff was nominated for a Grammy in 1993 for Best Alternative Music Album. It lost, but still..... Here is the wonderfully weird Happy Monday Song, Good Stuff!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

MADONNA FRIDAY: JUMP

First of all, I must preface this by saying this is my fave Madonna song of all time.... and that is not easy for me to pick, girl! Jump was the fourth and final single from Madge's awesome Confessions on a Dance Floor album and was released on October 31, 2006. Time flies. Written by Madonna, Stuart Price and Joe Henry (who is Madonna's brother-in-law, by the way), the song is about empowerment and self-motivation and has a crazy upbeat, clubby vibe to it. Jump was often compared to Madonna's big, dancable 80s hits. It became her 37th No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart and her 7th No. 1 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales Chart (the one that REALLY matters), #1 on the Hot Dance Airplay chart and was also a highlight of the Confessions tour with the dancers jumping off platforms and swinging through an aparatus set up in the middle of the stage. I absolutely worship this song. I cannot gym without it. Enjoy the jaunty, lively video for Jump and I dare you not to shake your ass to it. I FUCKING DARE YOU! FINE! I'll include the concert clip too. Happy?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THROWBACK THURSDAY: BANANARAMA

THESE BITCHES!! British girl group Bananarama started off as a lark. Three goodtime friends having a blast, getting drunk,  hanging out with some of the soon-to-be legends of the punk and post-punk scene and falling into pop super-stardom. Sarah Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey made their mark in the pop world starting with their debut album Deep Sea Skiving and their UK No. 5 hit Really Saying Something. They didn't look back. They are the 4th best selling girl group of all time with 40 million records sold and they CURRENTLY hold the record for the most chart entries by a girl group  in the world!! Not bad for three girls who started off living in a rehearsal room and, unlike classic girl groups, eschewed harmonies and sang all in unison. Their biggest US hit, Venus, topped the charts for the girls in 1986 and became one of the most beloved Hi-NRG tracks of the 80s and their first US top 10 hit, Cruel Summer, has been remade and re-released countless times and is a classic by any standards. An impressive string of hits produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman followed.  If you want to know more about the ladies watch their story of fame and debauchery in three parts HERE, HERE and HERE. It's a fun, sassy story, I must say. These gals still record and tour to this day, although Fahey no longer is with the group, and is 2012 released a career spanning greatest hits entitled 30 Years of Bananarama. 30 YEARS!!! They have several memorable hits that still get radio play and they're showing no signs of slowing down. Here are some of Bananarama's biggest hits spanning the decades. Enjoy and dance around like no one is watching!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

THE #1 SONG 25 YEARS AGO TODAY WAS......

.....Hangin' Tough by New Kids on the Block.  Can you believe how tough they were? Five kids from Boston who probably had about three pubes between them released a song talking smack about how rough they were in the voices of child sopranos and we all bought the shit out of it. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 9, 1989 and was there for a week. I guess we couldn't take any more hard-as-nails masculinity than one week. The boys were in the midst of their part in the 80s boy band craze, so it makes total sense that girls (and us gay boys) were swooning over this track. And boy could they do the running man like nobody's business. The video is NKOTB doing some very 80s dance moves in front of an audience of girls dressed like Elizabeth Shue from Adventures in Babysitting. As a bonus, Donnie Wahlberg is thrusting his barely post-pubescent wiener at said girls in overly-distressed stonewashed jeans. What do you want? It was 1989. Anyhoozers, here is the #1 song from 25 years ago today, Hangin' Tough by New Kids on the Block.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOUR FREE U2 ALBUM?

Rock gods U2, in conjunction with the release of the new iPhone 6 and iWatch thingy, have released their brand new album, Songs of Innocence, for FREE on iTunes. Check your computer or device because it might already be there, girl! If not, go to your iTunes home page and click "downloads" and then click the little cloud and it's yours!! Of the album, Bono explained, "We wanted to make a very personal album. Let's try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys—first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that's hard. But we went there." The album is, true to form, big, melodic, bombastic and emotional. U2 are still the reigning rock band to follow. Go get your free copy! DO IT!! Don't be a little bitch about it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

THE #1 SONG 30 YEARS AGO TODAY WAS.....

....What's Love Got To Do With It by Tina Turner. Ms. Turner, though legendary in the rock and blues world, was all but washed up by 1984. She hadn't had a hit in years and was touring and recording as, basically, a nostalgia act. 1984 would certainly change all of that. Along with her new manager, Roger Davies, Turner got to work on some hard rock and roll material and released the mega-smash album Private Dancer. There was no denying that Tina was BACK!!! The second single from Private Dancer (the first was a moderately successful cover of Al Green's Let's Stay Together (#26 US)) was the now-classic What's Love Got To Do With It. The song was released on June 4, 1984 and climbed steadily up the charts until it peaked at #1 on September 1st and held on for three weeks. Tina hadn't had a top 10 hit in the US since the early 70s, but What's Love Got To Do With It kicked her back onto the top of the charts, becoming the #2 song of the year behind When Doves Cry by Prince & the Revolution, and was followed by a string of classic hits. The song also earned Tina three Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012. Needless to say, Tina Turner is a legendary star and this song has MUCH to do, much to do with it. Here is the #1 song from this day in 1984, What's Love Got To Do With It.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LISTEN TO TWO UNRELEASED ADELE TRACKS

Recorded for her massively successful album 21, Adele has decided to leak/release a couple of gems that didn't make the cut for the 2011 album. Why? Who know. They are certainly quality tracks and could have easily fit in with the songs on 21. No matter, we have them now. Here are You'll Never See Me Again and Never Gonna Leave You. There's not a lot to say hear except that these are pretty impressive tracks to be left on the cutting room floor. Adele is rumored to be releasing new music in October in the form of a digital single with an album, 25, to follow sometime at the end of the year. Can't wait for more Adele!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

MADONNA FRIDAY: WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL

Madonna is a tough chick. What It Feels Like for a Girl is a sweet song. The video for the song, however, is anything BUT. The third single from Madonna's #1 album, Music, What It Feels Like For A Girl is one of the highlights of the disc. It reached #23 on the Hot 100 in the Spring of 2001. The song itself finds Madonna talking to her fella about how the world is different and if he wondered what it feels like for a girl...... in this world. Starting off with a sample from the movie The Cement Garden using the voice of actress  Charlotte Gainsbourg, the song rolls along at a lilting pace, drawing you in seductively to every line. BUT when Madonna was ready to make a video, she took that girl power and amped it up to 11 by using a pulsing, mostly instrumental version of the song and, with then-husband Guy Richie, producing a video with such violent images it was banned from MTV. Now this was controversial because overt sexuality and male violence was never a problem for MTV before, but to see a woman taser a man or run into a car or light a gas station on fire... well that was too hot for tv! Ha. The video is amazy, to say the least, and I love the old woman who plays her grandmother that she rescues form the "Ol Kuntz Guest Home" (hilarious) in her car with the plates that say "PUSSY" and "CAT". I truly think this video is one of the best ever made. Take a look at Madonna's What It Feels Like for a Girl.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

THE #1 SONG 30 YEARS AGO TODAY WAS....

......Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. In 1984 Cyndi Lauper was THE female pop star. Her debut album, She's So Unusual, was a bona fide hit, changing the game in pop music, especially for women, and her single Girls Just Want To Have Fun had already burned up the charts earlier that year. Instead of releasing another dance floor burner, Cyndi and her label decided to show her versatility and release a ballad as her second single. Time After Time was a smash and topped the chart on June 9, 1984, staying there for two weeks and proving that A) Cyndi was no one-hit wonder and B) the girl had chops. The song is an absolute classic and has been covered by countless artists. Time After Time was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 1985 Grammy Awards, at which Cyndi took home the trophy for Best New Artist. Unlike other 80s ballads, Time After Time is ageless and seems to transcend all musical styles to remain fresh as ever 30 years later. Here is Cyndi Lauper's timeless classic, Time After Time, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 exactly 30 years ago today.