31 October 2012

31 October 2012 (part 2) - Concrete Blonde - Bloodletting

Concrete Blonde might be the most underrated cheesy band of all time. (Discuss.)  Born from the ashes of Dream 6, they released several albums but only had one hit.

I've always loved Johnette Napolitano's gravely voice, and it sounds extra creepy on this song, a tribute to author Anne Rice.  It's not my favorite song of theirs, but it's one of them - this isn't the last you'll see of these guys on here - and it's appropriate for today!

31 October 2012 - Ministry - Everyday is Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone!  We'll have multiple posts throughout the day, celebrating the day in song.

There's no better way to start the day than this early Ministry tune.  Later music by Alain Jourgenen's industrial project would be much harder edged than this early, 808-influenced song, but we still hear echoes of dark themes here.    Sure, the song sounds like it was largely composed on a Casio keyboard, but it's still aurally interesting, especially given Ministry's later history.

The video is fan-made and not for the squeamish.

30 October 2012

30 October 2012 - Spacehog - In The Meantime

Had to scrap the post I painstakingly pre-wrote yesterday as none of it thankfully turned out to be true. So instead, here's Spacehog and their hit single from 1995.

29 October 2012

29 October 2012 - The Carpenters - Rainy Days and Mondays

In the threat of Hurricane Sandy, is this a little bit of a cruel joke of a song choice?  Yes.  Yes it is.

But c'mon - face it.  It's a nice song.  Talented drummer Karen Carpenter pulls out her big vocals for this song, a classic from the early 1970's, a song that grows in intensity as it wears on.  I was never a huge fan of The Carpenters, but this song is one of their best.

26 October 2012

26 October 2012 - The Firm - Radioactive

When I was a wee lad in the mid 80's, this was a minor MTV hit song.  At the time, I was really into what would later be called "alternative" music.

A supergroup featuring members of Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heap, Manfred Mann and Bad Company did not fit into those musical tastes.  And yet, this song had powerful vocals, a great jangling guitar hook, and a fantastic baseline.  All in all, it was - and is - a really cool song, no matter which rock dinosaurs might be performing it.

So, now, enjoy your dinosaurs of rock supergroup.

 

25 October 2012

25 October 2012 - Adam & The Ants - Ant Rap

I can't even imagine the massive amounts of drugs that were consumed in the story conception and production of this video. I'd try to analyze it to make some jokes, but my head's still spinning after two views. See for yourself. And if you can make any sense of what's going on, please clue me in.

24 October 2012

24 October 2012 - Kanye West - Golddigger (ft. Jamie Foxx) / Stronger

Scott, imma let you finish, but this is one of the best videos of all time.

In all seriousness, Kanye West might be a gigantic jackass, but he makes some catchy, compelling music.  This song is really sparse musically - a little horn, mostly heavy bass and drum - but combines the hip-hop rap style of Kanye with the soulfulness of Jamie Foxx's voice.  It's a nearly perfect song.



Kanye has a tendency to make perfect songs.  This one, a tribute to his bravado, is far less sparse, and still, despite the fact that he's a complete jackass lyrically, is brilliantly catchy.  Lyrically, it's cocky, but any song that can make an Apollonia reference is OK with me.

23 October 2012

23 October 2012 - Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

OK, I've written about Taylor Swift here at Wicked Guilty Pleasures before, so there's no need to rehash my fandom (you can click on that happy little link to see that post). No, today I have a different tale to tell.

Taylor's fourth cd Red was released yesterday. That big box store with the red bulls-eye logo had a deluxe version with extra songs and I was like, so there.

Of course, like a sit-com character buying condoms or porn, I had to be discreet, even if I was shopping at a box-store and not a record store where every musical purchase is scrutinized. Regardless, it still looks weird for a dude in his late-30s to be buying a cd most people presume is for teenage girls (they'd be mostly wrong if they just listened...but that's another post in and of itself). No one is ever going to buy the "yeah, it's for a friend" excuse, so I needed a "cover." So there I was, shopping for other items to make it look like I didn't just go to the store to get the new Taylor Swift cd (as I said, in sit-com character mode). I started in the men's clothing section. Nothing. Not good, as I really didn't need any groceries, household decorations or small appliances. I was going to have to hit the CD section with no "cover." Great...

So I sauntered over to the new release section. There was a clearly marked Taylor Swift Red Oct. 22 sign. The cd wasn't there. Walked to the country section. Nope. Walked to the pop/rock section. Nada. This damn store always screws up their new release orders so I wasn't surprised. I was mildly annoyed though and for more than having to wait to get the new record. Now I was going to have to ask some questions. So much for being discreet.

Naturally, the first person in a red vest that I see is a 20-something metal looking dude. Fantastic. Here's a brief transcript of the conversation.

Me (pointing at the aforementioned Taylor Swift sign): "Excuse me, did you not get this in today?"
Metal Dude In Red Vest (smirking): "yeah, follow me."
Me (muttering): "it's uhhh, for a friend." (why did I not say for my daughter? That would have been totally plausible)
MDIRV walks me to the huge display not even remotely near the cd section. Makes total sense to me.
MDIRV (smugly): "Here you go, we also have Taylor Swift shirts, books, school supplies and make-up if you're interested."
Me: "uhh, thanks, the cd is all I was looking for." Jerk.

After that exchange, paying for it was no problem (after of course finding the little old lady cashier). The moral of the story -- next time, pre-order it online.

As for the cd itself, I'll hold off on my review as I've only listened to it once, but I pretty much like it. I will warn that it's not a country record or even a pop-country record (kind of a bummer). It's mostly pop and rock. There's really only one song that I hated on first listen. There's a couple more that I need to give a couple more spins before I make up my mind. Time will tell if it makes any top-10 lists (including my own), but it's certainly a very good record.

Wow, that may be my longest post ever, and I still haven't even talked about the video. Here's the truly awesomely fun video for the first single, the extremely catchy We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Cool fact about this video: It was shot in just one take.

22 October 2012

22 October 2012 - Amy Winehouse - Rehab / You Know I'm No Good / F*** Me Pumps

We've never done a proper tribute to the late and troubled Amy Winehouse.  That poor, troubled woman had a huge voice, and she is missed.

There is some (intentional) irony to her biggest hit song.  Amy's gigantic, husky, achy voice makes the song, of course, but the horns from her backing band - the Dap-Kings - make the tune even bigger.



The Dap-Kings also add something to this song, which was my first exposure to Ms. Winehouse. However, whereas "Rehab" is straight-ahead soul singing, this song brings a darker, hip-hop feel, and show a little versatility in her voice.



The Dap-Kings were on loan from a singer named Sharon Jones, who is a woman with an equally huge voice - and who we will feature some other time.  But Amy Winehouse had a singing career before she hooked up with them. This is my favorite tune from her first album - it really gives Amy's torch song qualities shine over a hip-hop beat, with a much jazzier song, as opposed to the deep, heavy soul of her later work.

I also want you to look at how Amy looks. There were four years between her first and second album, and you can see how she transformed and aged.  Drugs are bad, kids, and they took this talent far too soon.



19 October 2012

19 Octubre 2012 - Julieta Venegas - Me Voy

Julieta Venegas started off life as a Latin alternative star - a female singer/songwriter who happened to be mejicana.

Somewhere along the way, she became a big hitmaker.  Mostly, this involved a big balloon and Julieta's accordion skills.... and this song, a huge hit in Mexico and on Latin radio in the United States.


So, her name should ring a bell by now.  Recall that she wrote and provided background vocals to Monday's song, and also performed on one of Wednesday's songs.

She also did an MTV Unplugged performance that was really strong.  This is the song with which she closed.... Even more than the studio version, this captures the true ranchero feeling that the song is supposed to convey.



Now, after all this, I'm going to tell you a little secret about Spanish-language artists in general, and Julieta Venegas specifically.  This is a performance she did for the NPR station KCRW, on their popular show Morning Becomes Eclectic. She performs Me Voy at about the 32:30 mark, but I encourage you to take some time and listen to the whole thing.  Notice that she proves that she is multiinstrumental - she's playing keyboard, and not accordion, in this version.

And she speaks perfect, unaccented English.



(Update: 20 May 2013) I decided to get gimmicky and add a 3D video.  Not kidding.  Get your glasses.


18 October 2012

18 October 2012 - Kajagoogoo - Too Shy

It's 80s Thursday!!! We're going do something a little different today. Here are 10 thoughts I had while watching this video:

1. Is there anything more 80s than Kajagoogoo?
2. Who does your hair and who are you wearing?
3. There was someone in 1983 who considered Kajagoogoo to be the greatest band in the world.
4. That person probably had at least two posters of the band on their bedroom wall.
5. That person was not me.
6. Am I the only one confused by the premise of this video?
7. Can I actually have 10 thoughts in 3:42 minutes?
8. These guys likely had groupies. A ton of them. (Gnaw on that one for a bit)
9. Should I make veggie tacos for lunch?
10. Thank god it's over.

17 October 2012

17 October 2012 - Ana Tijoux - 1977 / Julieta Venegas feat. Ana Tijoux - Eres Para Mí

Ana Tijoux is perhaps the best-known hip-hop artist from Chile. Of Chilean ancestry, she was born in France, because her parents lived in exile during the oppressive reign of Augusto Pinochet, arguably one of the worst dictators to ever walk this planet.

This song in particular, and the album (of the same name) that it is from, is both an homage to old school hip-hop and an autobiography of Ana's life.  It's a bit on the slow tip, and adopts horns alongside the beats, but it still has an early rap feel, both in cadence and subject matter.

Plus, this song got the endorsement of Thom Yorke, so it must be good.



Fans of the AMC show Breaking Bad have already heard this tune...... For the record, I think it was used well here.

UPDATE: Something happened to the video from Breaking Bad, so here's a video of Ana performing the song live instead.  It's really sparse in parts but shows her skills.

 Ana Tijoux - real name Anita - wasn't really Ana Tijoux, but Anita Tijoux of Makiza, a Chilean hip hop group.  That changed when she teamed up with Mexican superstar Julieta Venegas for this tune. The pop style of Venegas matched well with the hip hop of Tijoux, and raised the star value of both artists.


We've now mentioned Julieta Venegas twice this week, the first time over here. Don't think we didn't notice. Come back on Friday if you would like to hear Part III.

16 October 2012

16 October 2012 - Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag

1999-2001 was a pretty dark time for alternative rock radio (it's only starting to recover in the last few years). While it's easy (and fun) to blame it all on the rise of Neu Metal, that wasn't the death-knell entirely. The airwaves were also flooded with a crap-load of cookie-cutter one-hit wonder bands that mostly sounded the same (many of which were quite forgettable). Not to solely pick on Wheatus (there were plenty of others), but without looking it up, name another song by them. Yeah, I can't do it either, and I actually owned their record (past-tense). That said, there was a reason why I owned this record. The song's a ton of fun and besides...I'm an Iron Maiden fan...baby.

15 October 2012

15 October 2012 - Nelly Furtado feat. Mala Rodríguez - Bajo Otra Vez

That's right.  Nelly Furtado has done stuff besides "I'm Like A Bird" and "Promiscuous".

Nelly Furtado, in 2010, released an album entirely in Spanish.  Normally, she writes all her own stuff, or at least co-writes it.  This song, however, was not written by Nelly at all.  Rather, it was largely written by Mexican pop star Julietta Venegas, with Mala Rodríguez writing her part of the tune.   The combination of the voice of Furtado and the hip-hop of La Mala make for an interesting combination that I am sure you'll be humming for the rest of the day.

You might notice that the two ladies billed on this tune appear in this video in many fun costumes.  That enough is worth the price of admission for me.  There is a 3rd voice in this song who you don't see.  Julieta Venegas was featured vocally, but not in the video because of her pregnancy.

Long time readers of this blog will know that I think everything Mala Rodríguez touches is pure gold. I can't overstate that enough.



Here are La Nelly and La Mala at the Latin Grammys, performing this song live.  It sounds completely different and less sparse. Also, even though it is billed as her song, Nelly knows that that this audience knows Mala Rodríguez a whole lot better than her, and defers more to her in the chorus

12 October 2012

12 October 2012 - The Spin Doctors - Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

Today, we feature a song that was way overplayed in the early 90's.And still, I always kind of liked this song, even though I disliked this band and their brand of hippiesque music.

Yes, I just invented the word "hippiesque".  Pronounce it "Hippie-Esk", and make sure you credit me when you use it.

But back to the song.  This song is fun, fast-paced, and clever in its happy snarkiness.  What makes it even better - it was based on someone specific. This song wasn't their biggest hit - the incessantly annoying "Two Princes" holds that honor - but it is the song that, after a year of release, finally kickstarted the sales of their eventually platinum album "Pocket Full of Kryptonite."  MTV started playing this song, and, as was their habit when they used to play music videos on MTV, they kept playing it on a continuous loop.

And I heard it on the radio the other day, which is why you're hearing it now.

 

11 October 2012

11 October 2012 - Psychedelic Furs - Heaven

Happy 80s Thursday WGPers!!! We'll get back to some truly embarrassing 80s videos next Thursday. You see, I pretty much have to post this video because I cannot get this Psychedlic Furs tune out of my head. Seriously, I heard it a week ago for the first time in a while and it is just not leaving. Granted, it's not a bad song to have stuck in one's head (I've had much worse), but I'm hoping that this post will exorcise the earworm.



Earworm be gone!!!

10 October 2012

10 October 2012 - Aqua - Barbie Girl

This song, on the surface, does not seem to be high art.  It seems to be synth-heavy derivative Euro dance pop music.  However, this Swedish quartet brought us a song that was so much more than that.

Lyrically, this is one of the cleverest songs of the last thirty years.  Balancing the little-girlish innocence with the adolescent sexuality is something that Mattel has done for more that 50 years with the Barbie doll.  Aqua brings both of those feelings to this song in a lyrical sense.  They did a good enough job at it to speak a lawsuit by Mattel (which Mattel lost) to protect the Barbie image...

The irony is that Mattel now licenses the song for use in promoting Barbie.



A lot of you are scoffing at my love of this song and my belief that it is clever.  Perhaps it's the presentation.  To prove to you that it is far more than just synth-heavy derivative Euro dance pop music, here is a clip of Aqua performing a far more rock-and-roll version of the song.



And, so you know they actually ARE musicians, here's their folksy version..... Actually, maybe it's more bossa nova.


You know what? I can't decide which version I like best.  I like them all.  Let me know in the comments what you think!

09 October 2012

9 October 2012 - The Cardigans - Lovefool

I've never really felt guilty about loving The Cardigans. I've been a fan since the first time I heard today's song and picked up their First Band On The Moon record in 1996. I do have to say though that compared to the rest of their catalog, that Lovefool could certainly be considered a guilty pleasure with all of its bubble gum goodness.



08 October 2012

8 October 2012 - Bananarama - Cruel Summer

Am I a little late with this post? Yes.  Does it make the song less catchy? No.

I remember defending my love of Bananarama in 1986, even before the release of "Venus".  My love of these three ladies was not solely based on this interesting song with beautifully dark harmonies, but it was a prime example.  It was a sad, dark song, but it still managed to be fun and catchy.

The wardrobe choice for this video, on the other hand.... what was the obsession with overalls in the early to mid 80's?!

05 October 2012

5 October 2012 - MSTRKRFT (feat. N.O.R.E.) - Bounce / Death From Above 1979 - Going Steady & Romantic Rights / CSS - Let's Make Love and Listen To Death From Above

This is going to be kind of a backwards constructed post, but go with me here.

MSTRKRFT are a fantastic electronic group from Toronto, featuring a guy named Jesse Keeler and a producer named Al-P. They are best known for their remixes of other people's songs, but have released a few of their own.  I love this high-energy tune.  I can't help but... well, bounce every time I hear it.  I hope you enjoy this great party tune as much as I do.


Keeler and Al-P met when the latter was producing an album for Keeler's former group, Death From Above 1979.  The two groups could not seem more different - DFA 1979 had their roots firmly in the punk scene, whereas MSTRKRFT are more electronic - but you can see, in this live clip from 2005, there was a fair amount of electronic sonic experimentation - Jesse Keeler is on keyboards and guitar - even back then.

It was in DFA 1979 that Keeler learned about infringing on other people's names for things - a lawsuit was threatened by a band called Death From Above until these guys added 1979 (the birth year of Sebastian Grainger, the other half of the group) to their name.  MSTRKRFT is spelled without vowels to avoid a similar lawsuit by a Canadian toolmaking company.


I would know about neither of these bands if not for CSS.  I have professed my love for CSS in the past. Here is another great hit, a tribute to DFA 1979.  You see in the video two people wearing elephant masks. This is a reference to the cover of the DFA 1979 album "You're A Woman, I'm A Machine".... the album Al-P produced.  And now, we have come full circle.

This song is a great dance tune in its own right, and you should enjoy it as well. In fact, when I started writing this post, this was the song I was featuring.  Clearly, I changed my mind, but I wanted to make sure CSS still got their credit.

04 October 2012

4 October 2012 - Modern English - I Melt With You

The problem with doing 80s Thursday is that I realize how old I am. I Melt With You is 30 years old?!? Really? Yikes. The song has certainly aged well. Has the video? You be the judge.



I should mention that while doing "research" for this post (and yes, I do some minor research if only to not screw up what little facts I use), I discovered that Modern English is still playing together. I had no idea.

03 October 2012

3 October 2012 - Lynn Anderson - Rose Garden

Little known fact - Lynn Anderson got her big break on the Lawrence Welk Show.  Lesser known fact - Lynn Anderson had a very successful equestrian career.

Well known fact - this is one of the biggest pop/country crossover hits in history.  It's pretty easy to see why - it's a catchy song with lyrics that work even forty years after its initial success.



Country music is largely an American phenomenon.  Outside of the States, it usually doesn't play as well, but here, it is the most popular genre.  This song is one of the exceptions to the rule.  Here is Anderson performing the song in 2009, in Norway. It looks like the Norwegians are enjoying it, even if they had trouble saying "Howdy"!

02 October 2012

2 October 2012 - Kimbra - Cameo Lover & Settle Down

For those who are living under a rock, Kimbra is far more than "the chick from the Gotye song." She's an award-winning singer/songwriter (in fact, Cameo Lover won a song-writing competition over Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know...this was before she added her vocals to his uber-hit).

Kimbra's debut album, last year's Vows, is a blast of indie pop goodness with a little bit of jazz and soul. To me it sounds like a fine mix of The Bird and the Bee, Bjork, Lenka and maybe some Florence and the Machine. Heck, I'd even add a dash of Katy Perry as well (particularly on the poppier songs). If you haven't given her a shot yet, here's your chance with these two very cool videos.

First up is the pop-heavy Cameo Lover.



Here's the more "indie" sounding Settle Down.

01 October 2012

1 October 2012 - Carl Anderson - Jesus Christ Superstar

This version of this song, written for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name, gives me chills.  Carl Anderson's huge voice, which must have filled a theater, was perfect for this song, sung by the Judas character in this telling of the Passion Play.

This is an example of a movie getting a stage musical right, from the first scene to the last.  The movie clearly had a late 60's/early 70's vibe, and this movie didn't forget that, right down to the last detail.  And while movie sets get to be a lot bigger than theater stages, this movie didn't get overly extravagant in using that extra space.  They did get to use some better scene splicing, though.

Enjoy this scene from near the end of the movie.