Friday, January 28, 2011

SPANISH TEENAGER


Casey Spooner, one half of the electro-dance outfit, Fischerspooner, has just released his first solo project, "Adult Contemporary" that is currently available on Itunes. The album has more of a definite pop/rock-edge than his previous work with his group.

The first single, "Spanish Teenager" which features guest vocals from Jake Shears of The Scissor Sisters, has a music video directed by photographer, Luke Gilford. The video has a trippy, hallucinogenic feel that combines projected images of beach goers of various ages and genders enjoying a day in the sun over shots of Mr. Spooner and a variety of nude young men. This certainly feels more like an art project than a music video but it is still very fascinating and sexy as well as a little odd.


Spanish Teenager on Nowness.com.

If you're not familiar with Fischerspooner, here is a sample of their sound:

Never Win - Fischerspooner (2005)

Monday, January 24, 2011

FOCUS ON: DIONNE WARWICK


It would be easy to simply classify Dionne Warwick as a just a pop singer but that would be completely inaccurate. She transformed seemingly simple songs and elevated them with that sultry alto and infused them with sass, style, and class but most importantly, passionate soul. As a performer, she was subtle and low-key but that didn't make her any less of a powerfully, dynamic entertainer. Dionne Warwick, with the invaluable assistance of composers, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, best represented the pop sound of the 1960's

She was born Marie Dionne Warrick in 1940 and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. Her family was heavily involved in the music industry as her father, Mancel Warrick was a gospel record promoter for Chess Records and her mother, Lee Drinkard Warrick was the manager of her family gospel act, The Drinkard Singers (which included Lee's sister, Emily or "Cissy", who later became the mother of Whitney Houston).

It was inevitable that Dionne would begin singing and she performed her first solo at the age of six in church as well as occasionally performing with the Drinkard Singers.

In 1958, Dionne formed a gospel group called The Gospelaires with Myrna Utle, Carol Slade and Warrick's younger sister, Delia who would later become professionally known as "Dee Dee" Warwick. They first performed at the famous Apollo Theater and won the weekly contest. Various singers came and went including Cissy Houston and Doris Troy, who had a solo hit in 1963 with "Just One Look" that featured the group on background vocals. The Gospelaires would eventually evolve into The Sweet Inspiration and would become much sought after background singers, most notably for Elvis Presley.

While recording background vocals for The Drifters's song, "Mexican Divorce (Single/LP Version)", the composer, Burt Bacharach was impressed by Dionne's voice and her presence and asked if she was interested in doing some demos to be used to pitch the songs to record labels. Florence Greenberg, president of Spector Records heard the demos but was much more excited about signing the girl who was singing them.

Dionne released her first single, "Don't Make Me Over" in 1962 and it became a top forty hit as well as reaching the top five on the r&b charts. Dionne Warrick became "Warwick" when her single had her name misspelled and she decided to keep it. With the help of Mr. Bacharach and his writing partner, Hal David, she would go on to have many other popular, chart-topping hits throughout the rest of the sixties, including "Anyone Who Had A Heart", "I Say A Little Prayer", "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" and "Walk On By" which would become her signature song.

By 1971, Dionne left Spector and signed with Warner Bros. Records for five million dollars which, at the time, was the most ever received by a female recording artist. However, her reliable writers and producers, David and Bacharach had a falling out and ended their partnership. So Dionne was forced to work with a variety of other producers which led to five unsuccessful albums, most likely due to the fact that they didn't know how to properly use Ms Warwick. The only significant hit she had during this period was, "Then Came You (Remastered LP Version)", a duet with The Spinners in 1974 that actually became Dionne's first number one pop song.

Her contract with Warner Bros. ended in 1977 and was not renewed. Frustrated and ready to leave the music business, Dionne received an offer from Clive Davis to join his label, Arista Records. Her first album was simply titled, "Dionne" and was released in 1979. The first single, "I'll Never Love This Way Again", which was produced by Barry Manilow, returned Dionne back to the top ten, reaching number five on the charts. The next single, "Deja Vu", co-written by Issac Hayes, also became a hit. She would go on to win two Grammy Awards that year for both songs.

Her next albums on Arista were best sellers due to Clive Davis cleverly teaming Dionne up with top producers who could properly guide her music including Barry Gibb, Luther Vandross (a huge fan) as well as reuniting her with Burt Bacharach. He also had her perform musical collaborations with other artists who respected and admired her such as Jeffrey Osborne, Johnny Mathis and the team of Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John for the number one smash hit, "That's What Friends Are For", a charity single which the proceeds went to benefit AIDS research.

In 1980, Dionne was approached to host a television special called, "Solid Gold "79" which counted down the top fifty hits of that year. In the fall of that year, "Solid Gold" became a weekly series in which she hosted the first season and would later return to host another season in 1985.

Dionne Warwick has completed thirty-five albums to date and she is, second only to Aretha Franklin, the most charted female vocalist with 56 songs hitting the Billboard Hot 100 from 1962 and 1998.

Dionne married actor, William Elliott in 1966 but they divorced less than a year later. The couple reconciled and remarried in 1967 before divorcing again in 1975. They had two children who have followed in the family musical tradition; David is a singer/songwriter and Damon is a music producer.

Here are a few of Ms Warwick's greatest hits:

Anyone Who Had a Heart (1963)

I Say A Little Prayer (1967)

Are You There (With Another Girl)? (1965)

I'll Never Love This Way Again (1979)

Heartbreaker (1982)

This is Dionne and her famous friends performing "That's What Friends Are For" in 1985:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

AMERICAN IDOL: NEW AND IMPROVED?


The tenth season of "American Idol" premieres tonight but the real question still remains: "How will the show do without Simon?"

With the addition of two new judges, musicians, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez (?) as well as Jimmy Iovine in the new position as a supervising producer/mentor for the contestants, Nigel Lythgoe, the program's executive producer who has returned to the show, has promised many more exciting changes for "American Idol" in a way to bring the focus back on discovering a bright new pop star.

We'll have to wait and see if all of this will be an improvement but I won't be watching until the contestants have been selected and are in Hollywood.

I can't stand watching all of those awful auditions with these delusional people ruining perfectly good songs.

Let's hope this season's eventual winner will have the same amount of success as "American Idol"'s  very first winner, Kelly Clarkson.

A Moment Like This - Kelly Clarkson

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BRITNEY OR BETH





















I'm sure you have heard by now (if not the actual song, then at least the news) the new single from pop princess, Britney Spears's upcoming album. "Hold It Against Me" was released on Tuesday, January 11 and it has reached the top of the itunes digital singles charts.

While the song is fun, catchy and has got a great crunchy beat, "Hold It Against Me" is more about the production, done by current pop kings, Max Martin and Dr.Luke than by the actual vocals by Ms Spears, who ably provides her trademark breathy chirp but this song could have been done by pretty much anyone who can carry a tune (and with today's technology, it really could truly be anybody, since being able to actually sing is no longer a requirement).

On  the other hand, the lead singer of the band, Gossip, Beth Ditto has just released her first solo project. For this four song EP, she has teamed up with electronica band, Simian Mobile Disco, moving from punk rocker to disco chanteuse. She also offers some heavy dance tunes plus she can truly sing with that soulful, powerful wail but it's highly unlikely that she will attract anywhere near the same amount of attention as Ms Spears, which is a shame.

So who should it be, Britney or Beth?

No need to make any real decsion since both ladies have some interesting and different music to offer and besides, there is plenty of room for both artists in this wide musical landscape.

Britney Spears - "Hold It Against Me"

Beth Ditto - "I Wrote The Book"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MY FAVORITE MOMENTS IN MUSIC OF 2010

I was planning on rambling on about what a great year 2010 was in music but I have decided to simply just let the songs speak for themselves (although I can't resist making a comment or two here and there).

So, let's go back and hear (and see) just a few of my favorite songs from the past twelve months:

Mavis Staples - "Wrote A Song For Everyone" from "You Are Not Alone"

Miami Horror - "Holidays" from "Illumination"

Katy Perry - "California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)" from "Teenage Dream [Explicit]"

Kanye West - "Lost In The World [Explicit]" from "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Explicit]"

Hot Chip - "One Life Stand" from "One Life Stand"

Cee-Lo Green - "Fuck You" from "The Lady Killer [Explicit]"

Erykah Badu - "Get MuNNY" from " New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh"

Here is the controversial music video for the first single off of the album, "Window Seat" that worked up a lot of people. It is a great art piece which was shot in Dallas in the location where President Kennedy was assassinated but is caused Ms Badu to be charged with disorderly conduct and fined $500 dollars. It just shows how people are more freaked out about the human body than by violence:



Lady Antebellum - "Need You Now" from "Need You Now [+digital booklet]"


Sade - "Soldier of Love" from "Soldier of Love"

Broken Bells - "The Ghost Inside" from "Broken Bells"

Goldfrapp - "Believer" from "Head First [+Digital Booklet]"

Nikki Minaj - "Your Love" from "Pink Friday [Explicit]"

Gorillaz - "Rhinestone Eyes" from "Plastic Beach"

Bruno Mars - "Just The Way You Are" from "Doo-Wops & Hooligans"

Janelle Monae"Wondaland" from "The ArchAndroid"

Florence + The Machine - "Dog Days Are Over" from "Lungs"

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl - "You Gave Me Nothing" from "Record Collection [Explicit]"

Corinne Bailey Rae - "Closer" from "The Sea"

The Knocks - "Dancing With The DJ"

Karen Elson - "The Ghost Who Walks" from "The Ghost Who Walks"

Cut Copy - "Take Me Over" from "Zonoscope"

Robyn - "Body Talk" trilogy

This project was, for the most part, criminally ignore on the pop charts in the U.S and these songs should have been played on the radio. Shame on U.S radio programmers!

Robyn - "Dancing On My Own" from "Body Talk Pt 1"

Robyn - "Hang With Me" from "Body Talk Pt. 2 [Explicit]"

Robyn - "Stars 4-Ever" from "Body Talk Pt. 3"

Rihanna had a very good year with four singles hitting the top ten, with three of those going all the way to number one. I really like all of the songs but I love the music video for the song, "Rude Boy". It's got a great wild and colorful look plus it pays a brief homage to the outrageous Miss Grace Jones and artist Keith Haring:

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

Miley Cyrus has certainly caused a little whiplash with her drastic image shifts. She was introduced as the cute "Hannah Montana&quo...