Sunday, December 29, 2013

TAKE TWO: BILLY OCEAN


Billy Ocean made his first appearance on the pop charts in 1984 with the international smash, "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)". After a number of follow-up hit singles, this popular singer seemed to just vanish from the music scene.

Born Leslie Charles in Trinidad and Tobago in 1950, his family moved to England when he was a young child. As a teenager, Leslie decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a musician. He took his stage name from the Ocean Estate in London's East End and sang in clubs before getting a recording contract. His self-titled debut was released in 1976 and was a modest success with a single, "Love Really Hurts Without You" reaching number two on the UK Pop Chart. Ocean recorded other albums which received much less attention and wrote songs for a variety of artists.  With the release of his fifth album, "Suddenly" in 1984, this was Ocean's commercial breakthrough with "Caribbean Queen" (recorded as "European Queen" for Europe's release) reaching number one in the U.S.  The singles, "Loverboy" and the title track also made it to the U.S. top five on the pop chart.

The song, "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" was used in the film, "The Jewel of The Nile" in 1985 and became a top five hit across the globe. After his last major hit "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" in 1988, Billy Ocean fell out of favor and failed to receive significant radio play. That certainly hasn't stopped Ocean from making music with "Here You Are", his eleventh studio album, was released last April. He continues to perform and tour across Europe.

Let's go back and listen to two of my favorite songs from Billy Ocean:

"Suddenly" - Billy Ocean (1985)

"Mystery Lady" - Billy Ocean (1985)

Friday, December 20, 2013

BEYONCE'S BIG SURPRISE


I'm quite impressed, especially in this day and age, where a secret was actually kept from the public until it was ready to be revealed. Leave it to Beyonce to be able to pull off this seemingly impossible feat and it's paid off quite nicely for this inventive pop star.

On December 13, Queen B dropped her latest self-titled release exclusively for download on Itunes with no fanfare or advanced warning. Dubbed a "visual album", the record features 14 music tracks and 17 videos with Beyonce wanting to change how her music is presented to the world and how she connects with her fans. And her fans have been waiting for this as the worldwide sales have reached over 800,000 copies in the first three days alone. The traditional CD was released today as well as individual track/video downloads becoming available.

No surprise that Beyonce has managed to get some big name talent to give her a helping hand on this project such as Justin Timberlake, Miguel, Sia, Frank Ocean and her hubby, Jay Z.

Here are the complete vids for the first singles, "XO" and "Drunk In Love" and a few sneak peaks of additional clips:










Sunday, December 15, 2013

56TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

Proof that Jay Z has had a very good year is that he leads the pack with the most Grammy Award nominations at nine. Fellow hip-hop artists, Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Jay's touring partner, Justin Timberlake and the one to beat in the Producer of The Year category, Pharrell Williams all received seven nominations each.

The 56th Annunal Grammy Awards will presented on January 26, 2014 at the Staples Center in L.A. For the complete list of nominees, please go to: Grammy.com


ALBUM OF THE YEAR 

Sara Bareilles – "The Blessed Unrest"
Daft Punk – "Random Access Memories"
Kendrick Lamar – "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – "The Heist"
Taylor Swift – "Red"

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams – “Get Lucky”
Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive”
Lorde – “Royals”
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven”
Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell Williams & T.I. – “Blurred Lines”

SONG OF THE YEAR

Pink featuring Nate Reuss – “Just Give Me a Reason”
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven”
Katy Perry – “Roar”
Lorde – “Royals”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert – “Same Love”

BEST NEW ARTIST 

James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

Sara Bareilles – “Brave”
Lorde – “Royals”
Bruno Mars – “When I Was Your Man”
Katy Perry – “Roar”
Justin Timberlake “Mirrors”

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE 

Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams – “Get Lucky”
Pink featuring Nate Reuss – “Just Give Me a Reason”
Rihanna featuring Mikky Eiko – “Stay”
Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell Williams & T.I. – “Blurred Lines”
Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z – “Suit & Tie”

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM 

Lana Del Rey – "Paradise"
Lorde – "Pure Heroine"
Bruno Mars – "Unorthodox Jukebox"
Robin Thicke – "Blurred Lines"
Justin Timberlake – "The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience"

BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM

Tony Bennett & Various Artists – "Viva Duets"
Michael Buble – "To Be Loved"
Gloria Estefan – "The Standards"
Cee Lo Green – "Cee Lo’s Magic Moment"
Dionne Warwick – "Now"

BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE 

Lee Price – “I Drive Your Truck”
Hunter Hayes – “I Want Crazy”
Miranda Lambert – “Mama’s Broken Heart”
Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”
Blake Shelton – “Mine Would Be You”

BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

The Civil Wars – "From This Valley"
Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush”
Little Big Town – “Your Side of the Bed”
Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”
Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton – “You Can’t Make Old Friends”

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Jason Aldean – "Night Train"
Tim McGraw – "Two Lanes of Freedom"
Kacey Musgraves – "Same Trailer, Different Park"
Blake Shelton – "Based on a True Story"
Taylor Swift – "Red"

BEST DANCE RECORDING 

Duke Dumont featuring AME & MNEK – “Need U”
Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch – “Sweet Nothing”
Kaskade – “Atmosphere”
Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie – “This Is What It Feels Like”
Zedd featuring Foxes – “Clarity”

BEST DANCE ALBUM 

Daft Punk – "Random Access Memories"
Disclosure – "Settle"
Calvin Harris – "18 Months"
Kaskade – "Atmosphere"
Pretty Lights – "A Color Map of the Sun"

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE

Alabama Shakes – “Always Alright”
David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive”
Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir”
Queens of the Stone Age – “My God is the Sun”
Jack White – “I’m Shakin’”

BEST ROCK ALBUM 

Black Sabbath – "13"
David Bowie – "The Next Day"
Kings of Leon – "Mechanical Bull"
Led Zeppelin – "Celebration Day"
Queens of the Stone Age – "…Like Clockwork"
Neil Young With Crazy Horse – "Psychedelic Pill"

BEST R&B PERFORMANCE

Tamar Braxton – “Love and War”
Anthony Hamilton – “Best of Me”
Hiatus Kaiyote featuring Q-Tip – “Nakamarra”
Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar – “How Many Drinks?”
Snark Puppy with Lalah Hathaway – “Something”

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Tamar Braxton – "Love and War"
Fantasia – "Side Effects of You"
Salaam Remi – "One: In the Chamber"
Rihanna – "Unapologetic"
Mack Wilds – "New York: A Love Story"

BEST R&B ALBUM

Faith Evans – "R&B Divas"
Alicia Keys – "Girl on Fire"
John Legend – "Love in the Future"
Chrisette Michele – "Better"
TGT – "Three Kings"

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE

Drake – “Started From the Bottom”
Eminem – “Berzerk”
Jay Z – “Tom Ford”
Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz – “Thrift Shop”

BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION

J. Cole featuring Miguel – “Power Trip”
Jay Z featuring Beyonce – “Part II (On the Run)”
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail”
Kendrick Lamar featuring Mary J. Blige – “Now or Never”
Wiz Khalifa featuring The Weeknd – “Remember You”

BEST RAP ALBUM

Drake – "Nothing Was the Same"
Jay Z – "Magna Carta… Holy Grail"
Kendrick Lamar – "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – "The Heist"
Kanye West – "Yeezus"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

MY TUNE OF THE DAY


Due to a sad and unfortunate circumstance, I am now in Michigan and to me, it's just too cold. Although I grew-up here, I have lived in Los Angeles for over twenty-five years and have managed to avoid the bitter winter season. The song that keeps popping in my head is that classic, "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and The Papas. This is probably the first time in my life that the lyrics actually connect to me.

Written by group members, John Phillips and his then-wife, Michelle shortly before getting signed to a recording contract by Lou Adler with Denny Doherty and "Mama" Cass Elliot. This song was first recorded by Barry McGuire which they provided background vocals. The Mamas and The Papas later recorded their own version using the original backing track with additional instrumentation. Their take of "California Dreamin'" didn't exactly get much attention initially but after a Boston radio station started spinning the record, the song broke through nationally. The record became their first major hit with it peaking at number four on the Billboard pop chart. This song has continued to endure in popularity with it being recorded by many different artists.

"California Dreamin'" - The Mamas & The Papas (1965)

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