Sunday, October 27, 2013

TLC: 20


TLC was a hip-hop pop group that ruled the charts in the '90's. This trio of young women who blazed a trail with songs of bold sexuality and female empowerment are now back in the news. The VH1 biopic, "Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story" just recently aired and became the top rated television film premiere of the year.

The surviving members of the band, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins (Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes passed away in 2002) have just reappeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time in ten years as TLC provided the hook for J. Cole's track, "Crooked Smile". The group has just signed with Sony Music and are in the process of recording a new studio album.

In the meantime, another hits collection has just been released entitled, "20" which features all the songs you loved by TLC plus a new track, "Meant To Be", a ballad written by Ne-Yo. Let's celebrate the group's return to the music scene with a look back at their past. Enjoy a couple of my favorite songs by TLC:

"Diggin' On You" - TLC (1995)

"No Scrubs" - TLC (1999)

Here is the video for "Waterfalls" which won the MTV award for Video of The Year back in 1995:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NEW SOUNDS

LAURYN HILL


After serving a three month jail sentence for tax evasion,  Lauryn Hill has decided the time was right to release some music. Over the years there has been new material dropped sporadically (including an ill-fated reunion with The Fugees) since the mega-success of her 1998 solo debut, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" but it now seems like she could possibly be ready to seriously refocus on her career although it still might only be financially motivated.

"Consumerism" is the title of her latest and Ms Hill spits out rapid fire verses about her views of the current state of the world. This edgy tune is far from catchy or memorable but still serves as a reminder of her great talent. Hopefully, this is just a taste to whet our appetite for something bigger and better to come.

 "Consumerism" - Ms Lauryn Hill (2013)

JENNIFER HUDSON


Oscar-winner, Jennifer Hudson has been spending most of her time making films and showing off her new figure but has now put some of that energy back in to music. She has teamed up with the hot producer of the moment, Pharrell Williams and together have created a sizzling new track, "I Can't Describe (The Way I Feel).  I'm not sure if this is for her upcoming new album or some other project but no matter. What I do know is that I'm really loving this funky jam.

"I Can't Describe (The Way I Feel)" - Jennifer Hudson (2013)

HAIM


Born and raised in the Southern California valley, the Haim sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana have been performing music together professionally since they were little girls along with their parents in a classic rock band.  Since leaving the family nest, the sisters (now in their 20's) are a band known by their surname, Haim and have been creating some serious buzz by opening for such acts as Rihanna and Mumford & Sons as well as making a splash at some of the top music festivals.

Haim have recently released their debut album, "Days Are Gone" which features a solid collection of songs that are a clever mash-up of the type of music they listened to on L.A. radio in their youth; soft rock, r&b grooves and '80's pop.

"Forever" - Haim (2013)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


When I first heard the top-ten hit,"They Don't Know" by Tracey Ullman back in 1983, I just thought she was simply some new British singer. She would later quickly become much more than that.

After her short-lived singing career, Ullman turned her attention to acting, particularly comedy and found great success on several English skit shows. The next time I heard about Tracey Ullman, she was premiering an American variety program, "The Tracey Ullman Show" that hit the airwaves in 1987.  It became a popular show, winning several Emmys and introduced the animated characters, "The Simpsons" to the world (which spun-off to their own show in 1989 and now celebrating twenty-five years on the air). The talented Ullman would move on to films and HBO comedy specials and never looked back on her brief moment in music.

Today's tune was actually a cover of a song written and performed by Kirsty MacColl. Her version was also a hit, reaching number two on the U.K pop chart in 1979. There isn't a major difference between the two songs although Ullman's take has a more fun, poppy feel. MacColl passed away in 2000 during a freak boating accident in Mexico.

"They Don't Know" - Tracey Ullman (1983)

Here is a bonus of Kirsty MacColl's performance of the same tune:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

HOT AND FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

"THIS IS. . ." - ICONA POP


Icona Pop burst on to the scene in 2012 with their worldwide smash, "I Love It" , although the song didn't reach these shores until this year. This tasty bit of Europop has the duo sing-shouting together that makes them sound like this generation's version of Bananarama.  The group, made-up of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, released their self-titled debut in their native Sweden two years ago and have just delivered their official international first album, "This Is . . .".  The album includes three tracks form the "Icona Pop" debut while the rest consists of new material that features production from fellow hit-making Scandinavians, Stargate and Shellback. If you love big electrobeats and wild, party-anthems, this is a record you should definitely check out.

"All Night" - Icona Pop (2013)

"NOTHING WAS THE SAME"  - DRAKE


With his third full-length album, "Nothing Was The Same", Drake has made a thrilling work of bold artistic achievement. The twenty-six year old Canadian performer has confidently merged hip-hop and classic r&b to create a slick production that offers sounds that are richly textured and musically adventurous. Lyrically, Drake has even made some advancements as he has touched more on personal views in addition to the usual self-aggrandizing found in rap.

"For Time" - Drake featuring Jhene Aiko (2013)

 "YOURS TRULY" - ARIANA GRANDE


Ariana Grande first achieved fame as a child star on the Nickelodeon television series, "Victorious" and the now twenty-year old has found recent success as a singer. Her first album, "Yours Truly" has been released and debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 Chart, thanks to her first two singles, "Baby I" and the top-ten hit, "The Way".  Ms Grande has stated that her musical influences included such artists as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, so it's no surprise that you hear that on this record. While the young vocalist is not exactly in the same league as her idols, she shows great potential and delivers a strong set of songs.

"You'll Never Know" - Ariana Grande (2013)

"PURE HEROINE" - LORDE


A sixteen year old singer from New Zealand has come out of nowhere and made the most unlikely pop hit of the year. Ella Yelich-O'Connor or as she is known professionally, Lorde has taken the world by storm with her dark and moody tune, "Royals". What makes the song stand out is the minimalist sound, quirky, poetic lyrics and Lorde's mature vocals. "Pure Heroine" is the title of her first album and features a captivating collection written by Lorde and her producer, Joel Little. This is an impressive debut and one of the best records of the year.

"Ribs" - Lorde (2013)

Here is the U.S. version of the music video for "Royals" with the major difference between this and the original is that we see much more of the singer:



"THE DIVING BOARD" - ELTON JOHN


Elton John has returned to making the spare, reflective music that first made audiences stop and take notice of his amazing talent over forty years ago. He has re-teamed with producer, T-Bone Burnett and his long-time writing partner, Bernie Taupin and together have made "The Diving Board", his thirty-first (!) studio album. Mr. John has got nothing more to prove and has made a refreshing record that moves and inspires him with no interest in catering to the current trends in pop music.

"Take This Dirty Water" - Elton John (2013)

While we're still waiting for the release of her first full-length CD, Sky Ferreira has dropped another hot single. "You're Not The One" is a guitar-driven, electro-tune that has a sexy music video to enhance this great song:



The thing that amazes me the most about the career of Britney Spears is that she's managed to achieve so much by offering so little. There's no need to add any more to that statement and just present the video for "Work Bitch" the first single from her next musical endeavour due out in December. This is around the time Ms Spears will begin her residency at Planet Hollywood in Vegas:

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. ...