31 March 2012

31 March 2012 - Olivia Newton-John - A Little More Love

In the late 70's, Olivia was everywhere.  From the radio, to television, to movies with ELO and roller skates.  Oh, and she played Sandy in Grease.

Olivia's music was country-infused - she was one of the first Australian artists to have a US Country hit - but in the late 70's, she moved to more straight-ahead pop.   This was one of her earlier pop hits, around the time of the release of Grease.   I love her innocent sound, even though her songs are borderline dirty.  I hope you enjoy it.

30 March 2012

30 March 2012 - BulletBoys - Smooth Up In Ya

So a few weeks ago, on one of these Hair Metal Friday posts, I mentioned that the first concert I ever went to was Cinderella. What I failed to mention that day was that the BulletBoys were the opening act (I still haven't come to terms with the middle band...maybe in time). Here's the only BulletBoys song I remember. A ringing endorsement. Right?

29 March 2012

29 March 2012 - Paris Hilton - Stars Are Blind

The pleasures don't get much guiltier than this.  But hear me out.

Paris Hilton certainly doesn't need a recording career.  She's got the Hilton Hotel billions behind her.  And her career as a party girl.  And her sex tape.   But she did it anyway.  Well, some people say she didn't actually do the singing.  I actually think it sounds like her.

Now, the song itself isn't about to win any awards.  It's straight-ahead pop music.  But it's also not pretending to be.  Lyrically, it's a sweet song, and one that appears diametrically opposed to the public persona of Paris Hilton herself.

Now, everyone, sit down and enjoy the video.

28 March 2012

28 March 2012 - Information Society - What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)

Wicked Guilty Pleasures seem to pop up so often when I least expect them to. While at a party this weekend I was talking to a friend about WGP when this song played on our friend's 80s mix. I looked at him and said, "talk about a Wicked Guilty Pleasure." He agreed and we sort of laughed it off. Deep down though, we both knew I'd end up posting the video. So here it is. Forgive me for what I have done.

27 March 2012

27 March 2012 - Tegan and Sara - Where Does The Good Go

Two folky young women, singing very earnestly.  Their harmonies bring to mind thoughts of Simon and Garfunkel.  And for some reason, despite all this, they still feel like a guilty pleasure.  I am not sure why that is - perhaps a discussion in the comments might help illuminate this matter - but it does.

This particular song has been featured quite prominently on the television series "Grey's Anatomy", as have songs from the previous two days.  Perhaps it's that fact that makes it a guilty pleasure.  At any rate, it's a song that always makes me smile, for its simplicity in music and vocals, and its raw lyrical honesty.

And yes, I did chose a fan-made video using footage from Grey's Anatomy on purpose.

26 March 2012

26 March 2012 - Anna Nalick - Breathe (2 AM)

I've been wanting to post this video for a long time now. I've been reluctant to do so because I find it hard to think of Anna Nalick's Breathe (2 AM) as a guilty pleasure. It's simply a pleasure. Thanks to an almost unhealthy late-night YouTube video watching habit, I can probably also act out this video scene-by-scene as I watch it at least a few times a week.




25 March 2012

25 March 2012 - Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes/Breakin' Up

OK, so we decided to change Non-Guilty Sunday to Guilt-Free Sunday.  I do hope you'll forgive us.

To celebrate the change in moniker, here are a couple of songs by one of my co-author Scott Colvin's favorite artists - Rilo Kiley.  Formed by a couple of former child actors - Jenny Lewis, best known for her work in the epic Shelley Long vehicle Troop Beverly Hills - and Blake Sennett, best known for the Nickelodeon series Salute Your Shorts - which was pretty funny, by the way.

Well, now they are best known for being in Rilo Kiley.  The closest this band - who had a large cult following -ever got to a hit was this song, which has been featured on the television series Grey's Anatomy on no less than two occasions.  It's a terrific straight-ahead rock song, the lyrics are clever, and I think you'll enjoy it.



Rilo Kiley got a major label deal and released Under The Blacklight (which Scott dislikes) on Warner Bros. Records in 2007.  Their cult following is enough that some fans got together and made this relatively well-produced and extremely well-choreographed video by themselves for a popular track off that album.  I think it's a lot of fun (even though Scott dislikes this album).  This is my second-favorite song by them, and the cheeriest song about a breakup I've ever heard.  I hope everyone not named Scott Colvin enjoys it.



Here's a little uncredited bonus for you.  This song, with a video courtesy of the CSU Chico film department,  is for my favorite song by Rilo Kiley.  Jenny Lewis, who has gone onto a solo career, does a terrific version of this song by herself, but with a full band backing her, it's so much richer and a little darker.

24 March 2012

24 March 2012 - Sir Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back

Sir Mix-A-Lot was a talented hip hop artist from Seattle, but he just wasn't getting any hits.  So he went highbrow.

Or not.

This song, a tribute to a woman's rear end that was clean enough to play on radio without editing - it didn't use the a-word even once! - has more double entendres than any I've ever heard.  Sir Mix-A-Lot was one of the last old school hip hop artists to get a chart hit, and he did it because he was - and is - a clever songwriter.  This very clever song is his magnum opus.

Also, I learned that red beans and rice go directly to the derriere.  Who knew?!

23 March 2012

Kix - Cold Blood

It's Hair Metal Friday!!! Here's a classic video by Maryland's Kix.

22 March 2012

22 March 2012 - Los Del Rio - Macarena

Do they still play this song at weddings?  You know, before it was played at weddings, and before I learned that silly dance (although it beats the hell out of the Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide).  A big hit, that just kind of happened by accident to a couple of old lounge singers.  The version you all know is the remix as done by a couple of DJs called the Bayside Boys.


For the record, Vittorino is a brand of meat.  That girl's boyfriend is named Meat.

For those of you so compelled, here is the song before it was remixed.  It's still a beautifully done song by a couple of old lounge singers.  It's not quite the same song - at all.  There's no women and no boyfriend named Meat.  Just a girl named Macarena.




21 March 2012

21 March 2012 - Counting Crows - Hanginaround

So while I've never considered myself a Counting Crows fan, I somehow have three of their cds. Not sure how this happened. I can only guess I acquired them after buying random people's cd collections. It certainly wasn't out of a curiosity to hear their inoffensive middle-of-the-road rock. Although, if I was forced at gunpoint (or a guilty pleasure blog) to name a Crows song I liked, it would have to be Hanginaround. It's got a nice groove to it.

20 March 2012

20 March 2012 - The Kendalls - Heaven's Just A Sin Away

The Kendalls were a father-daughter country music duo from Pennsylvania. I always found it slightly strange that they were a father-daughter combination singing songs about couples, such as their minor hit "Pittsburgh Steelers", but that's not what we're talking about today.  Their biggest hit by far was a song with a great title, second only to "Dropkick Me, Jesus (Through The Goalposts of Life)", and one that was earnestly and, perhaps ironically, given the title, innocently sung.

And you can laugh at me, but as cheesy as this song was, even in the mid-70's, I always loved it.  I found it to be clever and fun.  Just don't tell my mother - she'll never let me live it down.



We have a bonus treat for you today. Those of you who are so inclined, we do have a blog dedicated to cover tunes, and today, we feature a cover of this very song. So, after you listen to it here, listen to it there, and let us know in the comments which you like better!

19 March 2012

19 March 2012 - Depeche Mode - The Meaning of Love

I started listening to Depeche Mode around the time Music For The Masses came out. Of course I became a big fan and bought all of their previous records. While I loved the darkness of Masses and Black Celebration, nothing could have shocked me more than hearing the first two records. Bouncy synth pop? Really? To be honest, I'm surprised my teeanage mind didn't flip out and burn ALL of their records. However rational I may or may not have been, I kept those first two records (but didn't listen to them again). A few years ago I gave them another shot (after about 20 years...so I guess we can throw out the thought of me being rational). And sure, it's still all sorts of cheesy, but it's in a good guilty pleasure kind of way.

18 March 2012

18 March 2012 - Jenny Toomey - Baby Would It Matter

Every musician wishes they had Jenny Toomey's career.  In addition to her solo work - which is brilliant and what we are showcasing today - she has led no less than five really cool bands - I'm going to try to list them from memory without looking them up - Tsunami, Geek, Choke, Grenadine, Liquorice.... I know I'm missing one, but no matter.   AND she founded her own record label - Simple Machines - which ended up being a major player in the DC punk/indie scene, along with Dischord and Teen Beat Records.

And she walked away from musical brilliance to join the Ford Foundation, where she is a Senior Program Officer.  She is sorely missed in the music world, but she is doing good work.

Here is a live performance of two of my favorite songs by her, "Baby Would It Matter" and "Artful Dodger".  In addition to the coolness of the songs, I love the cowboy hat.  I hope you enjoy the music.

Because I am doing this as a public service, I wanted to offer a 2nd performance, from the famed Fort Reno in Washington, DC.  Again, she opens with "Baby Would It Matter."  No cowboy hat this time but, in my opinion, a richer performance.



(Update: 15 May 2013) I just discovered this version of the same song from two years earlier, done by Jenny's band Liquorice.  It's a more melancholy interpretation, but it still is pretty damned awesome.  More organ on this version, but it fits the mood.

17 March 2012

17 March 2012 - Hanson - MMMBop

You cannot possibly listen to this song and NOT smile.

This song was so easy to make fun of, but I don't think I've met a single person who doesn't love this song.  It's always the same line, too. "I know it isn't cool to like Hanson, but that was just a fun song."   Because it was.  And still is.  And the band was so easy to make fun of - a lot of people weren't sure if Taylor Hanson was a boy or a girl! - but they were three earnest brothers making fun music and doing it well.    I admire that.

16 March 2012

16 March 2012 - Whitesnake - Still of the Night

I like Hair Metal Fridays. I get to watch videos that I haven't seen since they were originally released. And while I always dug today's song, I DO NOT remember it being so freaking long. AND THIS WAS AN EDITED VERSION!!!! Y'all may want to grab a snack, you know, just in case you get hungry in the middle of it.

15 March 2012

15 March 2012 - CSS - Music Is My Hot Hot Sex

It's a little strange for me to be featuring English-language songs on International Thursday, but I did it again.

Cansei de Ser Sexy - literally translated as "tired of being sexy" - is a Brazilian 6-piece made up of club DJs who happen to know how to play instruments. The lead vocalist goes by the name Lovefoxx, so they can't be all that tired of being sexy.

They have had some moderate success in this country, largely on the strength of a song that has a salacious title that no one knows but, thanks to Apple, everyone has heard.  Thanks to Apple and this fantastically entertaining band, this song ranks among my top 10 favorites of all time.


Yes, there is some Portuguese at the end of the song.  So, international.

This song would have been relegated to club hit if not for a man named Nick Haley, who entered a contest to make an iPod Touch commercial.  And used this song.  He won the contest, and Apple used the commercial.


To be fair, Nick Haley probably heard the song in this Zune commercial, which came a year earlier.

14 March 2012

14 March 2012 - Robyn - Cobrastyle

Never being one to toot my own horn, but for the past 3 years I've been riding my bike 15 to 20 miles a day. Sadly, from late October to early March I'm stuck doing so inside which is incredibly boring (even if I do get to watch TV or DVDs). Well today was a big happy, as I got in my first outdoor ride of the year (I have a strict 70 degree or higher rule and it was pushing 80 today here in Maryland). So what the hell does this have to do with musical guilty pleasures? Plenty.

Like many who ride outdoors, I do so with headphones on. Instead of the usual pump up music most guys look to for workouts (metal/punk/rock), I prefer to ride with a contemporary country and pop soundtrack. And yes, you guessed it there is plenty of Robyn on my playlist (see, I tied it all together...eventually). While none of her songs played on today's 18-mile ride (TOOT, TOOT), her high energy tunes get my crazy legs pedaling a little bit faster every time. Here's one such song.

13 March 2012

13 March 2012 - Walter Murphy - A Fifth of Beethoven / Robin Thicke - When I Get You Alone

I was a kid in the late 70's.  So, everywhere I turned, there was disco.  Saturday Night Fever was exploding, and even I, in my young years, knew it.  And my favorite song of all, the young music geek that I was, was Walter Murphy's take on Beethoven's 5th Symphony.  So, so, so cool!

This video is from the TV show Midnight Special.  On the recording, for the movie Saturday Night Fever, Walter Murphy played all the instruments himself, but he could not do that live.



Of course, this song, a timeless classic, did not need lyrics.  At least, I didn't think it did.  Fast forward about thirty years.  Alan Thicke's kid proves to the world that he has a really solid, soulful voice by adding lyrics to a sampled version of this disco classic.  And it worked - it really did.  It was just a different song.  I promised you that we would bring Robin Thicke back on this blog, so, without further ado......


I always knew that Alan Thicke's last name was good for something....

12 March 2012

12 March 2012 - Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time

Everyone, please join me in wishing my Wicked Guilty Pleasures co-conspirator a very Happy Birthday! My present to you Tony old friend (and by old I'm referring to how long we've been friends, and well, you're also old) is of course a video featuring a SMOKING HOT 18 year old Britney Spears dancing in a schoolgirl outfit. Totally appropriate!

11 March 2012

11 March 2012 - Jonathan Coulton - Curl / Code Monkey

So, two weeks ago, we posted the Non-Guilty Pleasure to celebrate the end of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women's national curling championships.

Today, the Tim Hortons Brier, the Canadian men's national curling championship, comes to an exciting conclusion.  Glenn Howard, from Ontario, the curler with the most Brier matches of all time (his brother Russ is 2nd), takes on Kevin Koe, the 2010 Brier and world champion, from Alberta.  If you care, I predict a Howard victory, as I have all season.

But we're not a curling blog (I do have one of those), but a music blog.  And so, today, I highlight the 2nd greatest song ever written about curling.  Mr. Coulton - an American, by the way - has four times embarked on Thing-A-Week projects, where he writes and records a different song every week.  You probably know his song "Code Monkey", which has been a viral hit and was part of Thing-A-Week Three.

Thing-A-Week Two was released in November 2006.  Track 7 was this gem:



Yes, I know, this is a fan-made video.  It's still pretty fantastic.  Not only do you get the 2nd best song ever written about curling, you get Colbert curling!

And, since I teased you earlier, here is the video for his biggest hit as well.  I am not a code monkey, but this is a pretty fun song for all of us in IT.



10 March 2012

10 March 2012 - Starland Vocal Band - Afternoon Delight

Over the past 50 years, only three artists that have won the Best New Artist Grammy have gone on to win Song, Record, or Album of the Year, ever.  It's seen as something of a curse.

The Starland Vocal Band, 1977 winners of that award, are not included in those three artists.  Perhaps the filthiest song ever to propel any artist to a Grammy.... and everyone thought it was a happy-go-lucky feel-good song of the summer of 1976.  So there is no dispute, it is a song about having sex in the afternoon, as opposed to waiting until after sunset.



Even though they never won another Grammy - or had another hit - this song was so huge, it still makes appearances in pop culture.  Take this scene, from the movie Good Will Hunting.  You'll want to pay attention at the 1:30 mark.


The song also appeared in the closing credits.

As huge as it is, the song also played into a storyline on the television show Glee.  One of the Gleeks thought that Afternoon Delight was a dessert.  Well, I guess.....



All in all, a very influential song.  Not bad for a curse.

Oh, and to answer your question, Natalie Cole, Norah Jones, and, this year, Adele.  Now you know.

09 March 2012

9 March 2012 - Britny Fox - Girlschool

It's Hair Metal Friday. Does it get any more hair metally than Britny Fox? I think not. Have a rockin' weekend everyone!

8 March 2012 - Positive K - I Got A Man

Perhaps one of the best known call-and-answer hip-hop jams of the early 90's.... except not really.  This song, +K's only hit, was born out of a duet he did with MC Lyte, called "I'm Not Havin' It."  That was good - this is better.

So who was the unknown female artist paired up with Positive K?  Well, it was not the woman appearing in the video.  In fact, thanks to the magic of pitch changing technology, Positive K sang the female portion of this tune as well.

That's right.  He was calling and answering with himself.  It's still really entertaining.

07 March 2012

7 March 2012 - Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape

When No Doubt broke in 1995, I was in love. Fun music and good times. A decade later, the band was on hiatus and spitfire singer Gwen Stefani started a solo career...making pop music. Needless to say I was doubtful about it being any good. Thankfully, I wasn't listening to pop radio at the time and magically missed the whole Hollaback Girl thing. To be honest, my head might have exploded if I heard it back then. Fast forward to 2010, I found myself listening to a local pop station when The Sweet Escape came on (four years after its release). I immediately, recognized Gwen's voice and thought to myself, "hey, this isn't that bad." Which upon further listens went to "I like this song." And finally, "crank it up!!!"

That said, here's to hoping the new No Doubt record is Tragic Kingdom II.

06 March 2012

6 March 2012 - David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj - Turn Me On

It was only a matter of time before we cracked open a tiny peek at dubstep, wasn't it?

OK, David Guetta isn't quite dubstep, but he certainly includes aspects of dubstep - especially the repetitive nature of the backbeat - in his music.  He also partners himself with really compelling personalities.  This is the 2nd time we've seen Nicki Minaj on this blog - recall that she also partnered with Madonna on a single - and I can guarantee we'll see her again.

But back to David Guetta.  He's in this video, for sure, but he doesn't take front-and-center on his own music.  He's a DJ by nature, and a pretty good one at that.  And this is clearly his music.  He just chooses to express his music using the voices of other artists.  I, for one, applaud that!

05 March 2012

5 March 2012 - Natalie Imbruglia - Torn

I've had Natalie Imbruglia's Left of the Middle CD since it came out in 1998. To this day though, the only song I can name by her is Torn. I suppose I should give the whole record another spin. If the other songs are even half as good as this one I imagine it would be a pretty good listen.

4 March 2012 - 50 Foot Wave/Kristin Hersh - Your Ghost

My favorite band is a little band from Newport, Rhode Island called Throwing Muses.  Led by Kristin Hersh, a paranoid schitzophrenic and teen mother, the band continued through 2003, with a number of personnel changes, but with the same drummer - David Narcizo.  The last lineup included those two and bassist Bernard Georges, who had toured with the band an awful lot before he joined them full-time.

But Kristin had a growing solo career, and David a growing art business, so the band broke up.  They've gotten back together a few times since then - and made another album.  But they've also kept themselves busy with other projects, in addition to their primary careers.

Kristin started a band that was NOTHING like Throwing Muses, nor like her art-folk solo sound.  She did recruit Bernard for the new band - 50 Foot Wave - but a new drummer.  The band's music is completely available through Kristin's Cash Music project, which is essentially an open source artist's royalties platform that has worked pretty well for a few artists, including Kristin.

The hard-edged band even covered Kristin's best known song.  Even though it isn't as folky as the original, it works.



For reference, here is Kristin's original version, a duet with Michael Stipe.  It got MTV airplay, and was featured in the movie With Honors. It also works, but is a completely different song.



Kristin wrote the song, as well as the reinterpretation.  She is one of the most underlooked songwriters of her generation (which also happens to be my generation). Last year, she wrote an excellent book - Rat Girl - that I recommend you read, if you want to hear the genesis of a musical genius.

03 March 2012

3 March 2012 - N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton

Before I start here, I want to make sure my daughter, Juliana, STOPS now.  This song is not appropriate for you, so don't read this post.

I was introduced to N.W.A. while I was in college.  I enjoyed their music, and its hard edge - remember, hip hop was all about Run D.M.C. and sucka M.C.s in the late 80's and early 90's - clean and boastful.  This was not clean, and it went beyond boastful to somewhat threatening.  But, as critically acclaimed as it was, I always felt a little guilty listening to this.  You know, because I am a white boy, as far from this Compton experience as I could be.

And I could never sing along with the song.  I couldn't even speak what N.W.A. stands for.  I still can't, but you all know.

As it turns out, most of these guys really weren't from the streets of Compton, either.  Let's be honest - they were and are musicians, not really gangsters.  Still, they spoke of that experience and sounded like they had some sort of authority to do so.


I'd be incomplete in my posting if I didn't included Nina Gordon's cover. Parody? Or tribute?  I'm not entirely sure.

02 March 2012

2 March 2012 - Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak

Ahhh yes, it's time for another Hair Metal Friday. Let's go way back to 1981 for a classic off of Def Leppard's High 'n' Dry record.

01 March 2012

1 March 2012 - Lady Gaga - Poker Face

Today, we feature a big hit by one of the most flamboyant stars of today.  You all know this song.  I know you all know this song.  So, maybe I'll just share it and let you enjoy.



You all know me better than that.  This is one of the best-written, pure pop songs of the past forty years.  I'm not exaggerating.  It's a nearly perfect song - great dance beat, huge personality performing, clever analogies, and a naughty muffin analogy.  Now, if only Lady Gaga didn't have to rely on all that electronic music to sell the song.  Right?

Wrong.



OK, OK, but it's still in a studio.  There's no way she could pull both of them off, live, right?

Wrong again.


It is a nearly perfect pop song. Can we all agree on that? Chris Daughtry, what do you say about that?