Friday, June 26, 2015

JANET JACKSON IS BACK



After being completely out of sight for nearly five years, Janet Jackson has finally reappeared in a major way. First, a North American concert tour was announced that's going to begin in August and now we have some new music.

Reunited with her legendary producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and released on her new record label, Rhythm Nation Records, "No Sleeep" is a smooth r&b ballad with our Miss Jackson delivering a confident and sexy vocal. I am really loving this song and excited to hear more.

"No Sleeep" - Janet Jackson (2015) mp3

Monday, June 22, 2015

BITCH, I'M MADONNA


I think it's the weakest track off of Madonna's "Rebel Heart" but "Bitch, I'm Madonna" is the latest single to be released. What is probably going to bring this song much desired attention is the music video, directed by Jonas Åkerlund who has worked with the artist many times including the clip for "Ray of Light" which won them a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video .

Shot to look like one single take at the Standard Hotel in New York, the video's setting is like a wild and crazy party that Madonna is throwing with many of her famous friends in attendance. The guests feature some of the biggest female names in pop music right now like Katy Perry, Rita Ora, Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj who also performs on the song. Other more unexpected appearances include Chris Rock, fashion designer, Alexander Wang, model, Jon Kortajarena, producer/DJ, Diplo (who co-wrote and produced the track) and what would a celebrity party be without Kanye West.

This all-star video hasn't changed my opinion about the song but it does make it more interesting. It's fun, colorful and attention-grabbing but still may not succeed in getting her new music some radio play. Pop radio should play music that is inventive and inspired but it's shameful that they seriously won't play Madonna only because of her age. The excellent first single, "Livin' For Love" definitely deserved to be played on the air. But this ridiculous mindset does explain the unadventurous nature of most of what is making it on the radio. Anyway, check out the video:



Here's a video bonus of the title song from the album that gave Madonna some long and hard-earned critical respect:

Monday, June 15, 2015

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

There will be LGBT pride celebrations starting this month and throughout the summer. In honor of that, here is an classic tune from the musical, "La Cage aux Folles" that still perfectly serves as an anthem for self-love and respect. Enjoy Gloria Gaynor's dance version of "I Am What I Am":

"I Am What I Am" - Gloria Gaynor (1983) mp3

Also in time for Pride, W Hotels and the Humans Right Campaign have teamed up with Jennifer Hudson to support marriage equality with this beautiful video for her song, "I Still Love You". Share your support with #TURNITUPFORCHANGE:



I've dug up a few more vintage dance tunes that share the theme involving men. Sure, they haven't aged well but they still can get the party started right:

"Macho Man" - Village People (1978) mp3

"So Many Men, So Little Time" - Miquel Brown (1983) mp3

"I Love Men" - Eartha Kitt (1984) mp3

I have to say I strongly disliked Rihanna's latest song, "Bitch Better Have My Money" but Kelly Clarkson must of heard something she liked. The singer cleaned it up, gave it a soulful spin and managed to make it worth another listen during a live performance on the BBC Live Lounge program:



Speaking of Ms Clarkson, she does have her own new music out. Her seventh studio release, "Piece By Piece" came out in February and the first single, "Heartbeat Song" is a solid pop tune but it's chart performance was slightly underwhelming. I think the follow-up, "Invincible" should change that. This is another great song about empowerment that the big-voiced singer is well-known for but this time, it's co-written by fellow big-voiced singer, the very busy, Sia:

"Invincible" - Kelly Clarkson (2015) mp3

Finally, we have former "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant, Courtney Act serving female realness, both visually and vocally, on her new single, "Ecstasy"

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

BETTE MIDLER: DIVINE INTERVENTION


If you want to be thoroughly entertained, then I highly recommend catching Bette Midler live in concert. I have seen her many times over the years with the last was during her Las Vegas residency back in 2008. Her current show is called "Divine Intervention" and it's to promote her most recent album, "It's The Girls" which features her favorites songs from girl-groups. I caught the L.A. show at the Staples Center on May 28 and the Divine one emerged from behind a large scrim with her face in place of God's on the famous Michelangelo fresco. Midler, sounding good and looking better, was a whirlwind as she zipped across the stage virtually non-stop throughout the show.

Time seemed to weigh on the mind of the sixty-nine year old singer (and made several hilarious jokes regarding her age throughout the evening) for she's indicated that this may likely be her last spin on the road. Midler found the greatest success in her musical career by covering old favorites from other singers and making them all her own. Clearly feeling nostalgic, she decided to dig out some she hadn't done live in years. Those tunes ranged from a cover of the Rolling Stones, "Beast of Burden", "Optimistic Voices" from "The Wizard of Oz" and "I Put a Spell On You" which was done in full witch costume from her 1993 film, "Hocus Pocus".

Midler did lively takes of music from the new record including The Andrew Sisters' chestnut, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön", The Exciters, "Tell Him" and the surprising choice of TLC's "Waterfalls" which I found much more moving performed live.

Although her long-time mermaid character, Dolores Delago is now actually resting comfortably with the fishes in a funny bit, Midler did bring back Sophie Tucker where she hit the audience with a series of her infamously bawdy gags.

Midler waited until the final leg of the show to sing her crowd favorites such as "From a Distance", "Stay With Me" and "The Rose" which she instructed the audience to wait for her command to sing along while the light from cellphones in the air added a warm glow to the arena as she performed this number. She saved "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", a cover of another Andrew Sisters song that launched Midler's recording career over forty years ago, for her encore.

As I was departing from this sensational show, a wave of sadness suddenly came over me. I realized that as the Divine Miss M seemed to be winding down her illustrious career, there doesn't appear to be any young performer out there with an innovative spirit, respect for tradition or genuine fabulosity to fill her well-traveled shoes. Bette Midler is clearly a unique talent and all-around entertainer and since most of today's generation displays little interest in the music of the past, it feels unlikely that a successor is on the horizon. Hopefully, I'm wrong but in the meantime, we still have our Bette.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

BLACK MUSIC MONTH

June has been designated as Black Music Month or otherwise known under the current, more P.C. term, African-American Music Appreciation Month. Started in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, it was created as a way to celebrate and honor the long, rich history of music that is quite uniquely American.

I shall do my own personal celebration throughout the month with posts of wonderful music by some of my favorite African-American performers. I hope you enjoy this first round:




"Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl in Town)" - Jackie Wilson (1957) mp3

"Everybody Is a Star" - Sly & The Family Stone (1969) mp3
"Close the Door" - Teddy Pendergrass (1978) mp3

"Planet Rock" - Afrika Bambaataa (1982) mp3

"Let Me Return the Favor" - Andrea Martin (1998) mp3








Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WELCOME BACK


Howard and Guy Lawrence, the British brothers who make up the electronic band, Disclosure are finally back with new sounds. Their 2013 debut album, "Settle" took the world by storm and helped break-out pop sensation, Sam Smith who provided vocals on their hit, "Latch". The official first single off their upcoming release is called "Holding On" and features American jazz artist, Gregory Porter. This smoking track moves us back on to the dance floor with their distinctive wiry beats.  I, for one, can't wait to hear more:

"Holding On" - Disclosure featuring Gregory Porter (2015) mp3



Icona Pop had one of the biggest songs in 2013 with "I Love It" (which was co-written by the now-super-hot Charli XCX). The Swedish ladies, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, harmonize on their new song called "Emergency". It features their familiar brand of electro-pop while offering little sonic twists to make the tune really stand out. This has the makings to become one of the major songs of the summer:

"Emergency" - Icona Pop (2015) mp3

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. ...