30 August 2013

30 August 2013 - Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness

August is ending.  School is starting again.  So why not a super depressing song to end the summer?!

That would be the end of this post, except this song has become kind of a big hit.... because it's kind of good and deep and beautifully done.  Sure, we are still talking about Lana Del Rey's Saturday Night Live debacle (which I think was overblown, but that's opinion), but this song.... so stirring.

As of this writing, this song, at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, is Ms. Del Rey's biggest hit to date.

To be fair, it is this remixed version by Cedric Gervais that has been getting all the airplay.... it's kind of a depressing song to get a lot of club airplay, and yet that's exactly what has happened.

29 August 2013

29 August 2013 - The B-52's - Rock Lobster

Yeah, I could have easily posted the campy original Rock Lobster video by The B-52's, but this even campier "live" in-studio performance from Countdown is WAY better. I've watched this video three times today and I still can't stop laughing . . . Man, I'd kill for Fred Schneider's mad dance skills.

Five years ago I saw The B-52's in Virginia Beach on the beach. This weekend I get to see Daughtry at the same venue. Not quite the same now is it?

28 August 2013

28 August 2013 - Cher Lloyd - Swagger Jagger

I don't quite know what it is about this song that makes me freaking love it so much.  Perhaps it is the bravado that this young woman practically bleeds with every note.  Perhaps it's because Cher Lloyd is so very clearly under the influence of the X Factor producers for this clearly overproduced song..... which, amazingly, doesn't make it a bad song.  Maybe it's the nod and wink to "Oh My Darling Clemetine" that the chorus of this song clearly takes.

Oh, and there is the fact that it was used in a milk commercial..... I think that must be it.

(By the way, you'll want to check out our prior Cher Lloyd post, which we updated today, too)

27 August 2013

27 August 2013 - Eve 6 - Inside Out

Every Labor Day weekend the Mrs. and I head down to Virginia Beach for an extra long weekend. We hit the same bars and restaurants we like, my wife runs the half marathon and there's the American Music Festival, which is why I started going.

The festival has concerts every night on seven stages (the main-stage is on the beach and there are six free side stages near the boardwalk). Over the years I've seen some great bands there: The B-52s, Cheap Trick, Soul Asylum, Billy Idol, ZZ Top, Bret Michaels, Southern Culture On The Skids, Joan Jett, Train, Jamey Johnson, Warrant (one of Jani Lane's last shows before getting kicked out of the band), and dozens of others. Beer is cheap and the money goes to local charities. It's always a fun time.

Well this year it's going to take A LOT of beer because the line-up is to put it kindly -- a crapfest. The main-stage looks like this: Fuel/Daughtry on Friday, Smash Mouth/Barenaked Ladies on Saturday and Third Eye Blind on Sunday. Sounds like a killer festival . . . 15 years ago. The free stages are no better. On Saturday I have the option of seeing Eve 6/Sugar Ray. OR Eve 6 and then walk 5 blocks to see Modern English. Or say "screw it," find a bar and watch Georgia vs. Clemson. It's almost a no-brainer. Anyway here's the "Tender Heart in a Blender" song by Eve 6. I'm sorry.

26 August 2013

26 August 2013 - P!nk - True Love (featuring Lily Allen (Lily Rose Cooper?))

We haven't done a Hall of Famer in awhile, have we?  No, we haven't.  We really should.  In the meantime, enjoy the latest single by our last HoF honoree, P!nk, who duets with potential future HoF honoree and co-author Lily Allen (who we featured on Friday).

Except that Lily Allen had changed her professional name to her real (married) name, Lily Rose Cooper (why she added the middle name I don't know), so my confusion was in the billing of this song, which clearly uses the old professional name.  So, when Mrs. Cooper's new album finally drops... who knows who it will be billed to.

But I digress.  This song is brilliantly and darkly crafted, and speaks to what a real relationship might look like in Pink's world... Plus, it stars her kid.  And Carey Hart.  And a bunch of toys from Ikea.  And Lily... whoever she is.... with a blender and a knife.  Despite the darkness of the song, it's generally happy and enjoyable, and not as dark as a couple of her recent hits.

23 August 2013

23 August 2013 - Lily Allen - LDN

It is unbelievable to me that I haven't posted this yet.  It's a chipper-sounding song, but lyrically really dark.  And it's one of my favorite songs of all time.   And it's a song my eight year old daughter knows, word for word.

A "love song" to London, of sorts, it's a catchy pop achievement, with great beats and catchy horns.
This version of the video is version 2, which matches well with the lyrics.... where Ms. Allen sees a rosy London but a darker version of the city appears behind her - right down to the old lady being hit over the head by the kid seeking her jewelry and wallet.

It's important to note that Lily Allen is asking for her own album in the record store in the beginning of the video.  All the terms she used were ones used to describe her debut, Alright, Still....

Sadly, Version 1, which is also pretty cool, only shows the nice side of London. Filmed on a shoestring budget, it follows our intrepid artist around London on a bicycle, in fast forward.  And it's all rosy - no crack whores to be found.  Still, it's a fun video.

22 August 2013

22 August 2013 - KISS - Heaven's On Fire

. . . And for no particular reason, here's the video for Heaven's On Fire by KISS.
Party on!

21 August 2013

21 August 2013 - Coldplay - Clocks (with a Röyksopp bonus)

I cannot f&*%ing stand Coldplay.

Except for this song.  A classic. Simple.  Sparse. Piano-based.  Moderately nonsensical.  And instantly recognizable. Even when covered by others.

So what drove me to post this today?  This remix, by Röyksopp, which I recently discovered.  It's almost like it's a different song from a different era.  And perhaps it is the timeless quality of Coldplay's one decent song that makes this work.

20 August 2013

20 August 2013 - Lady Gaga - Applause

I finally checked out the new Lady Gaga song Applause and it's out-there and might I add very cool video. I just have one question: Did I dream about all of the recent online angst about the song? Did that happen? Because Applause sure seems like a winner to me. I'd even call it one of her finest songs and she's already written a ton of them in her short career. I'm even detecting for the first time a small trace of Siouxsie Sioux in her voice which I never really picked up on before (not saying it's intentional or not, just kind of an odd observation). Anyway, her new full-length ARTPOP comes out in November . . . it's going to be a long wait for this guy.

19 August 2013

19 August 2013 - Robin Thicke (featuring T.I. and Pharrell - Blurred Lines



OK, OK, OK..... that may have been a little bit of an exaggeration.  However, this is one of the most requested songs we've ever had.  And, to be fair, it took awhile to grow on me, even though I was already a fan of Alan's son - this is his third appearance on this blog (here as a tandem with Walter Murphy, and here as 1/2 of a surprisingly compelling duet with a Gossip Girl star).

But this song - there's something about it.  It's paced differently than a typical pop song.  It's much sparser than a song you'd expect to hear on pop radio.  Lyrically, it's racy - some have called it slightly rape-y - and pushes the limits of what one might expect to hear on the radio.

Of course, the song famously has two videos, one of which is marginally safe for work (and the other which is completely NSFW, but look after the jump for that one).

Interesting side note: despite my earlier statements about the originality of the work..... Robin Thicke and his people are suing Marvin Gaye's estate and the rightsholders of Funkadelic songs.... because those parties are both claiming that this song ripped them off.  The case was filed to preempt a potential copyright claim.  In my opinion, this song - the Marvin Gaye song "Got To Give It Up (Part 1)" has a similar, but not nearly identical, sound.   "Blurred Lines" is evocative without completely lifting the tune.

16 August 2013

16 August 2013 - Charli XCX - What I Like

This post is 100% pandering.

You see, THIS POST is the 2nd biggest one we've ever had.... by far.  And if you want my opinion, it's for good reason - Charli XCX is a fantastic talent.  If the year were to end today, her True Romance album would be my hands-down pick for Album of the Year.  I honestly think she's going to get some Grammy love for her hand in writing "I Love It (I Don't Care)."

But let's talk about this video.  It feels a little gratuitously jailbait-y to me.  The song is actually quite a sweet love song, and more mature than a woman who JUST turned 21 two weeks ago (and therefore, this one was written when she was in her teens) should be writing.  But this video.... I feel like I shouldn't be watching this....

15 August 2013

15 August 2013 - David J - I'll Be Your Chauffeur

Well here's a song that I haven't thought about in very LONG time. I'll Be Your Chauffeur by David J (Love & Rockets and Bauhaus) was the lead single of his third solo album Songs For Another Season, which I probably still have on tape somewhere in my basement. I'm not sure if this was a popular thought back in the day, but I actually preferred David's solo work to his Love & Rockets/Bauhaus cohort Daniel Ash. But then again, neither compared to Peter Murphy's (Bauhaus) solo work.

14 August 2013

14 August 2013 - Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop

Scott told me yesterday that he was waiting for my post about this song. Well, here it is.

This is quite possibly the most disturbing video I've ever seen.  I mean, what's up with the french fry skull? And the giant stuffed bears? Making out with the giant Barbie doll in the pool?  Eating dollar bills? Cutting off fingers and bleeding Pepto Bismol? All that damn twerking? Pick your favorite disturbing imagery, I guess.

Now, close your eyes and just listen to the song.  The song - which is pretty clearly a party anthem - isn't really all that far off lyrically from her Hannah Montana days (albeit a little more hedonistic).  But the performance is mature and passionate and subtle.  Little Miley has truly grown up, and it's not a bad thing.

Even more disturbing?  The Director's Cut! Well, really, it's just different disturbing stuff..... It's a slightly different mix of the song.  I mean, I don't really see how it's a director's cut, but hey!  It's just Miley being Miley.

OK, if you really can't get past the video.... here's a live performance.  Trust me.  It's a solid song.

13 August 2013

13 August 2013 - Men At Work - Down Under

It's a shame bands today don't make goofy videos like they did in the 80s (work with me here and pretend Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup video never happened). Don't get me wrong, Men At Work had some great songs, but I seriously doubt they would have been as huge as they were if it wasn't for their off-the-wall kookiness in their videos.

12 August 2013

12 August 2013 - Missing Persons - Destination Unknown

Little known fact: even though MTV played their videos a lot - including the one we're featuring today - Missing Persons never had a Top 40 hit in the US.  This song made it to #42 on the Billboard Hot 100, but wasn't a big hit.

And yet, their songs and videos endure.  Everyone remembers Dale Bozzio's fishbowl bra.  But this keyboard/drum driven sound, complemented with Dale's quirky, emotive vocal, draws me in every time, more so than her boobs under clear acrylic.

They're back together, too.  And Dale - who co-wrote the song - calls it one of her favorites.   Mine, too, Dale.  Mine, too.

08 August 2013

8 August 2013 - Electronic - Feel Every Beat

It’s kind of hard to believe that a band featuring members of New Order, The Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys could be considered a guilty pleasure, but here we are. I actually liked Electronic back in the day, but their debut album sounds really dated in 2013, especially on the songs that New Order’s Bernard Sumner “raps.” I thought that kind of thing was sort of cool at the time, but now . . . eh, not so much. Anyway, it’s still fun to check out those tunes again. Here’s the video for Feel Every Beat.

07 August 2013

7 August 2013 - R.E.M. - Stand / Throwing Muses - Dizzy

A odd pairing of songs for this post?  Not really.  Let me explain.

In September 1989, Mark Whittier and I went to see R.E.M. at the Hartford Civic Center.  It was my first concert.  They opened the show with this song.  And a lot of people left right after.  Which I thought was odd.  It ended up being a great show.  A GREAT show.  We had a fantastic time.

There was a time I was really sick of this song.   But I don't know why.  It's a great pop/rock song, no matter how much airplay it got in 1989.  And it got a LOT of airplay in 1989!

Actually.... this is pretty much how I remember it.

Those who know me know I really went to see the opening act, Throwing Muses. They were, and remain to this day, my favorite band.  And they were really awesome live.  I also saw them in 1995, in Northampton, MA. And like 1989, I knew the only way to get people into a Throwing Muses song was to entice them with R.E.M.  However, I can safely say I have gotten a lot of people into this great, underrated band,  Give them a chance.  You won't be disappointed.

(Also, Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe did do a little duet together later.... which was a bigger hit than anything Throwing Muses ever did)

And actually.... this is pretty much how I remember it.

06 August 2013

6 August 2013 - Morcheeba - Trigger Hippie

I saw Morcheeba at a music festival shortly after their second album came out in the late 90s. I have no idea which festival though. Could be Lilith Fair. Or maybe it was a radio station show. It doesn't really matter. I do remember that they had a very cool trip-hop/jazz vibe to them so I picked up both of their albums (at the time) shortly after the show. This video is from their first album Who Can You Trust?.

05 August 2013

5 August 2013 - The Dandy Warhols - Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth

By now, you probably know that I love a song with a good title.  There's a reason for that.  These songs are usually lyrically complex and interesting, the songs constructed brilliantly around these lyrics.  

Take this 1998 song by MTV darlings The Dandy Warhols.  This straight-ahead pop-rock song so deeply and smoothly moves from Verse 1 to chorus to Verse 2 to chorus to bridge to chorus.  The (video) performance by the band is very emotionless, even with the excitement and chaos of the video around them and the gratuitous shots of a seemingly ambivilent Zia McCabe.
Now, let's talk about the title for a moment.  This is one of those songs in which the title is frequently misquoted.  The song is not called "Heroin is So Passe", contrary to popular belief.  It was a song written for a friend of theirs - an appeal of sorts.

As an added bonus, here is the band performing the song live in 2012.  It's important to note that this is the original lineup - they are still together.  And they are still rockin' this song!

02 August 2013

2 August 2013 - Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks

For weeks, I heard this song.   I found it annoying.  I found it even more annoying that I didn't know who it was.

And then it kept eating at me.  Why is this song stuck in my head and who the hell is performing it?  It was driving me batty.

So I pulled out Soundhound one day.  Usually, that app is brilliant, but on this day, it was failing me.  

And finally, on the third try, one of my co-workers walked by.  And said just four words.

"Of Monsters and Men."


Anyway, it's a sweet song that probably wouldn't be getting as much airplay as it does if not for the Mumford and Sons effect - atypical pop song, horns - but it's a good thing that it does.  It's a real gem that I no longer find annoying.  And I hope you don't, either.

01 August 2013

1 August 2013 - Hoodoo Gurus - Come Anytime

I learned two things while "researching" this post: The Hoodoo Gurus are Australian AND they are still playing together. Not that it matters one way or another, but I always thought they were from the mid-west (clearly, I had the Violent Femmes on the brain). As for the second lesson, good for them, they were always a lot of fun. Here's one of their more well-known songs from 1989's Magnum Cum Louder.