Thursday, March 29, 2012

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

"WRECKING BALL" - BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN


"The Boss" is back with his seventeenth album, "Wrecking Ball", a collection of music that was partially inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. His songs continue to reflect on the struggles of the average man and rallying against the injustice and greed that is prevalent in our current society. The sound is pure rock and roll with elements of folk and gospel and on the track, "Rocky Ground", Springsteen has even written a brief rap in the song that is performed by guest vocalist, Michelle Moore.

Here is the rousing first single from the album:

"We Take Care Of Our Own" - Bruce Springsteen

"MDNA" - MADONNA


Madonna has returned to the scene with her twelfth CD, "MDNA". She has assembled together some of the top producers working today in dance/electronic music to work on this project such as Martin Solveig, Benny Benassi, The Wrecking Crew and her long-time collaborator, William Orbit. Although the music combines her classic pop sounds with big, crunchy beats but the end results still don't feel inspired or fully developed. It's disappointing because Madonna has made her career by moving pop music forward but instead she seems to be just blending in with what is currently happening.

The first single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'" not only became her thirty-eighth top-ten pop single on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the artist with the most in chart history but the song also became her forty-first number one song on the Dance Chart with her being the performer was the most on that chart.

This is a song that I like off the new album:

"Some Girls" - Madonna

"ALL OF ME" - ESTELLE


British r&b singer, Estelle, who seems to have a soft spot for American boys, is back with her third album, "All Of Me". The record is another solid release filled with fun pop-soul tunes with guest performers, Rick Ross, Trey Songz, Chris Brown and Janelle Monae on board to lend a hand.

"Back To Love" - Estelle

"TEENAGE DREAM: THE COMPLETE CONFECTION" - KATY PERRY


Everyone is very familiar with Katy Perry and her hugely successful 2010 album, "Teenage Dream".  It has sold over five million albums worldwide with the first five singles each topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart, tying a record set by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson with his album, "Bad". Now, the album has been repackaged and entitled, "Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection".

I have never understood the point of re-releasing an album so soon and simply adding a few new songs. It just seems shady to me and the artist should just wait until they enough material to release a brand new record. Having said that, the new tracks are actually good with the first single, "Part of Me" debuting at number one. Other tracks include an acoustic version of "The One That Got Away", the remixed single of "E.T." featuring Kanye West and Tommie Sunshine's mega-mash-up of six of her hit songs.

This is one of the new tracks from the album:

"Wide Awake" - Katy Perry

"HAPPY TO YOU" - MIIKE SNOW


This pop collaboration consists of New York musician/vocalist Andrew Wyatt and the Swedish production team of Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg or as they are better known, Bloodshy & Avant.

After Miike Snow received plenty of buzz and minor success with the single, "Animal" off of their self-titled debut, the group is back with their follow-up, "Happy To You". The album features more of their moody and esoteric electropop sounds with two singles, "Paddling Out" and "The Wave" already released and a track features fellow Swede, Lykke Li.

"The Wave" - Miike Snow

"RADIO MUSIC SOCIETY" - ESPERANZA SPALDING


Esperanza Spalding seemed to come from nowhere to create the biggest upset of the 2011 Grammys by winning the award for Best New Artist (also becoming the first jazz performer to ever win this honor) but she was hardly a novice. She has been playing bass and performing since she was fifteen and had released two previous recordings before her win.

With "Radio Music Society", the twenty-seven year old jazz artist is back with new music that features almost all original compositions. The album incorporates touches of soul and hip-hop to her jazz sound and includes a cover of the Michael Jackson classic, "I Can't Help It".

Sample a track from the album:

 "Cinnamon Tree" - Esperanza Spalding

Jack White, formerly of the White Stripes is about to release his first solo album, "Blunderbuss" in April. This is the music video for his great first single, "Love Interruption":



This is a fun video from a young, new hip-hop artist, Rye Rye for her latest single, "Boom Boom" in which the set-up is like a vintage video game:



Friday, March 23, 2012

"GIRL GONE WILD" MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERE


The new video for Madonna's next single, "Girl Gone Wild" from her forthcoming album, "MDNA"  is now out after an enticing sneak peek was released last week. This sexy clip does not disappoint as the true Queen of Pop is back with a vengeance as she captures the spirit of her past while staying one step ahead.

Directed by the photographic team of Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, it features some steamy, homoerotic images with a few of the current top male models, the dance troupe from the Ukraine, Kazaky whose claim to fame is that these boys impressively strut in high heels and a highly-energized performance by Madonna herself.

I have to admit that I'm not particularly crazy about the song itself but perhaps the tune will grow on me after repeated viewings of the video.



As a bonus, here is Kazaky in their own music video performing their song, "Dance and Change":

 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

THE RETURN OF THE MUSIC VIDEO?

I assumed the music video as a creative outlet was pretty much a dead idea, most especially since the record labels have been slowly vanishing and the companies that are left certainly don't want to be bothered spending too much time and energy making something even remotely artistic. Even the original music video channel, MTV barely show them any more but recently I have noticed some actual inventive, fascinating and visually stimulating videos.

Now, none of these are from mainstream artists as they tend to play it very safe these days (with the possible exception of Lady Gaga). With the advancement of technology, it has made some of these new videos look like they've spent a million bucks but I'm certain it was much, much less.













Tuesday, March 13, 2012

THE FIRST TIME: PART FIFTEEN

"BILLY IDOL" - BILLY IDOL (1982)


In 1955, William Broad was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, England. His family moved to New York when William was two to pursue the American dream but the Broads returned to England four years later with his new baby sister, Jane in tow.

After completing a year of college at Sussex University for an English degree, Billy dropped out to join a gang of hardcore Sex Pistols fans who followed the band wherever they played. He shortly joined his first punk band as a guitarist and renamed himself, "Billy Idol" which was inspired from a teacher who described Billy as "idle". This band featured the future members of Siouxsie & The Banshees but Idol left to join another punk band, Chelsea in 1977.

Billy soon formed his own band with Chelsea band mate, Tony James, the bass player and added guitarist, Bob Andrews and Mark Laff on drums. They called themselves Generation X with Idol becoming the lead vocalist. Although they were very much a punk band but they were also influenced by the sounds of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Generation X signed with Chrysalis Records and recorded three albums, became one of the first punk bands to perform on the popular British television program, "Top Of The Pops" and were featured in the 1980 documentary,  "D.O.A." about the beginning of the punk movement before the group disbanded.

In 1981, Idol moved to New York to begin work as a solo artist. He first released a four-track EP called "Don't Stop" later that year with the purpose of generating some interest in the new rock artist. It featured a remake of Tommy James & The Shondells' hit, "Mony, Mony" and "Dancing With Myself" which was first recorded with his former band, Generation X.

The plan proved to be a success as there was high anticipation for his full-length, self-tilted debut released the following year. The first single, "Hot In The City" peaked at number twenty-three on the U.S. pop charts and although the next single, "White Wedding" only made it to number thirty-six but because of the popular music video, the song benefited by the influence of the new music channel, MTV. The video helped establish Idol's punk image and "White Wedding" has become his signature song.

His follow-up album, "Rebel Yell" in 1983 would become the biggest album of his career, selling well over two million copies. There were three hit singles with the ballad, "Eyes Without A Face" reaching number four on the charts.

After continued success over the next few years with the following albums, "Whiplash Smile" and the 1987 remix "Vital Idol", tragedy struck Billy Idol in 1990 as he was in a serious motorcycle accident in which he almost lost his leg and required a steel rod to be placed in it. Idol released "Charmed Life" later that year and despite his injuries, he went out to promote the album against his doctor's advice. The first single from the album, "Cradle of Love" would become Idol's highest charting, reaching number two on the pop charts.

Billy Idol has released seven studio albums to date including 1993's, "Cyberpunk" which was an experimental album and one of the first to be recorded using only a MAC computer and a Christmas album (?), "Happy Holidays" in 2006.

Billy Idol has never been married but has two children;  a son, William, born in 1988 with his long-time girlfriend, Perri Lister who was a dancer and appeared in the "White Wedding" video and a daughter, Bonnie Blue, who was born in 1989 from another relationship.

Check out Billy's first song to hit the U.S. charts:

 "Hot In The City" - Billy Idol (1982)

Here is the music video for "Dancing With Myself":



"BIG FUN" - SHALAMAR (1979)


Shalamar was originally created to capitalize on the popularity of the disco craze by Soul Train producer, Don Cornelius and the show's booker, Dick Griffey. The group was initially made up of session singers with Gary Mumford as the lead vocalist. Shalamar released their first album, "Uptown Festival" in 1975 with the title track, a melody of Motown hits set to a disco beat, that became a top forty pop hit in the U.S and Britain.

It was decided to add popular Soul Train dancers, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel with a new lead vocalist, Gerald Brown to the group and the new line-up released, "Disco Gardens" in 1978 on Dick Griffey's new label, SOLAR Records. The album had a hit song, "Take That To The Bank" that reached number eleven on the r&b charts. Brown, unhappy over a lack of payment, left Shalamar and was replaced by Howard Hewett in 1979.

The group was teamed up for with producer, Leon Sylver III (who was a member of the r&b family singing group, The Sylvers) who co-wrote and produced their next album, "Big Fun" released later in '79. The second single, "The Second Time Around" became a smash hit, reaching number eight on the pop chart and topping the r&b and dance charts. Due to this single, the album went gold.

Shalamar would record four more successful studio albums (with three of them also selling over a half a million copies) that featured several hits songs including, "Make That Move", "A Night To Remember" and "This Is For The Lover In You".

Shortly after the release of the 1983 album, "The Look", Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel both decided to leave the group due to creative differences and their increasing frustrations with Dick Griffey and his label. Two new members were recruited, Delisa Davis and Miki Free, to join Howard Hewett in a new version of Shalamar.  In 1984, Shalamar released "Heartbreak" which featured a song, "Dancing In The Sheets" that was also featured on the soundtrack to the hit film, "Footloose" and it brought the group back to the top twenty of the pop charts.

Hewett left Shalamar the following year to pursue a solo career and was replaced by singer, Sydney Justin but after two disappointing albums, the group faded away by 1990.

Howard Hewett has recorded ten solo albums to date with his debut, "I Commit To Love" being his most successful which featured two top-ten r&b hits. Hewett has been married three times; he married Mari Molina in 1986 but divorced two years later. He then wedded actress/singer Nia Peeples in 1989 and they have a son, Christopher but the couple separated by 1993. Hewett is currently married to wife, Angela and they have a daughter, Anissa.

Even before he joined Shalamar, Jeffrey Daniel was a renowned and respected dancer. He is credited for popularizing West Coast street dance movement which included popping, locking and robotics. During a performance of "A Night To Remember" on the British show, "Top Of The Pops", Daniel performed a dance move he called, "The Backslide". Michael Jackson had been a fan of Daniel's since he was on "Soul Train" and sought him out to teach him that move. Jackson premiered the dance on the "Motown 25" television special and it was renamed "The Moonwalk". Daniel became a sought after choreographer and dancer on a variety of film and television projects and worked with Jackson again on the "Bad" and "Smooth  Criminal" music videos. Jeffrey Daniel is currently a judge on the "Nigerian Idol" music competition program. He married r&b singer, Stephanie Mills in 1980 but they separated shortly after.

Jody Watley is clearly the most successful of all of the former members of Shalamar with her winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1987. She released nine studio albums with six top-ten U.S. pop hits, eight top-ten r&b singles (including two at number one), seven number one songs on the dance chart and has sold well over fifty million albums worldwide. Watley married singer/writer/producer, Andre Cymone but the marriage ended in 1994 and she has two children.

This popular line-up of Shalamar has only come together once in 1996 to record background vocals to Babyface's cover of the band's hit, "This Is For The Lover In You" and also appeared in the music video of the song.

Enjoy Shalamar's first big single:

 "The Second Time Around" - Shalamar (1979)

This is a vintage music video for one of my favorite Shalamar songs, "A Night To Remember":

 

"FLOWING RIVERS" - ANDY GIBB (1977)


He was born Andrew Roy Gibb in 1958, the youngest of  five children of Hugh and Barbara Gibb. His siblings were sister, Lesley and brothers, (who would later be known to the world as part of the singing group, The Bee Gees) Barry and twins, Maurice and Robin. The family moved to Australia six months after Andy was born but they returned to England in 1967 when The Bee Gees, already finding some success down under, were looking to further their music career.

As a teenager, Andy formed his own singing group, Melody Fayre, which was managed by his mother, and they performed around clubs in England and Spain. In 1974, Andy returned to Australia to further pursue his career due to the advice of brother, Barry who felt it was a good location to sharpen his skills as a musician.

Andy recorded a single, "Words and Music" for ATA Records and it would reach the top-twenty of the Australian charts in 1976. Robert Stigwood, who was the manager of The Bee Gees, signed Gibb to his label, RSO Records and was soon in Miami working on his first album, writing with Barry and with producers, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson.

"I Just Want To be Your Everything" was the first single and kicked things off with a bang, with the song hitting number one in Australia and the U.S in 1977. The follow-up single, "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" also went to number one which together helped Andy Gibb's debut album, "Flowing Rivers" sell well over a million copies. This success was happening around the same time as his brothers' group, The Bee Gees were conquering the charts with their contributions to the soundtrack of the film, "Saturday Night Fever".

Andy Gibb's second album, "Shadow Dancing" was released in 1978 with the title track (written by all four of the Gibb brothers) spending seven weeks at number one on the U.S. pop charts. Two other singles, "An Everlasting Love" and "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" both made it to the top-ten on the charts and Gibb had another million selling album.

In 1980, "After Dark" was Andy's third studio album released and while this was not as successful as his previous albums but it did contain a top-twenty hit, "I Can't Help It", a duet with family friend, Olivia Newton-John and what would be his final top-ten song, "Desire".

Shortly after this album, Gibb began pursing other career opportunities such as acting in theater with the shows, "The Pirates of Penzance" and "Joesph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", co-hosting the musical variety show, "Solid Gold" with Marilyn McCoo of The 5th Dimension and began a high-profile romance with actress, Victoria Principal who was best known for the night-time soap opera, "Dallas". However, Gibb was fired from both "Joseph" and the television program because of excessive absences as well as Principal ending their relationship, all due to his drug binges.

Andy's family convinced him to seek treatment and he went to the Betty Ford Clinic for help. After his stint in rehab, Gibb attempted to resume his career with concerts and television appearances. He also went back in to the recording studio working with his brothers on new material.

On March 5th, 1988, Andy Gibb was celebrating his thirtieth birthday when he complained of chest pains. He was rushed to the hospital but five days later, Gibb died of myocarditis, an inflammation of a heart muscle caused by a viral infection.

Andy Gibb was married to Kim Reeder in 1976 and had a daughter, Peta Jaye in 1978 but the couple divorced later that year.

This is Andy Gibb's first hit single:

 "I Just Want To be Your Everything" - Andy Gibb (1977)

Here is a clip of the youngest Gibb brother performing one of  his biggest hits, "Shadow Dancing":":

Sunday, March 11, 2012

BRANDY & MONICA - REUNITED


It's been nineteen years since Brandy Norwood and Monica Arnold teamed-up to record the worldwide smash, "The Boy Is Mine" and the ladies have reunited for a new song, "It All Belongs To Me".  The song will appear on both of their upcoming albums, Brandy's "Two Eleven" and Monica's "New Life".

While I think the ballad is just okay but the music video for the song is smoking hot with Brandy and Monica both looking really fantastic.

Take a look:



As an added bonus, here is Brandy & Monica's first time together:

"The Boy Is Mine" - Brandy & Monica (1993)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DAVEY JONES (1945-2012)


Davey Jones, a member of the 60's pop/rock group, The Monkees passed away yesterday from a heart attack at the age of sixty-six.

Known as "the cute one" in the group, the British actor/singer became a popular teen idol. He was the reason why another up-and-coming British rock singer named David Jones had to change his name and became David Bowie.

Although the group was created specifically for a television show but all four members where actual musicians and along with band mates, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith, The Monkees managed to have several hits including three number one songs on the U.S. pop charts.

"The Monkees" was on the air from 1965 to 1968 and shortly after the group made a feature film, "Head" (co-written by actor, Jack Nicholson), The Monkees disbanded in 1971. Jones continued to perform as a solo act and later would be a part of several Monkees reunion tours over the years. He was a great talent who will be missed.

This was one of The Monkees' number one songs which featured Davey Jones singing lead:

"Daydream Believer" - The Monkees (1967)

ICONA POP ARE "GIRLS GIRLS"

Those Swedish musical party-girls, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, otherwise known as  Icona Pop are back with a new club-banging anthem. ...