Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy Donna Summer’s Birthday!

In the Gregorian calendar, Donna Summer’s birthday (also Paul Westerberg’s birthday and Psy’s birthday), the last day of the year, is on December 31. In many countries, Donna Summer’s birthday is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the former disco queen’s birthday. Some people attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into January 1 (Grandmaster Flash’s birthday).

Source: Wikipedia

I thought about calling this post Happy Summer’s Eve, but that sounded douchey.

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My Top 74 Songs Of 2013 – You Know You Want It!

In 2013 I found religion. I praised Yeezus. I listened to the words of Lorde. I hailed the resurrection of The Replacements. I danced apocalyptic. This year’s music fed my spirituality, though my year-end list also has sacrilege and unbelievers.

Much like I did with God, before 2013 I dismissed Robin Thicke. I never thought I’d ever see his name on my year-end song lists, let alone at #1, but “Blurred Lines” is my choice for record of the year. The song is about wannabe players hitting on a woman with awkward come-ons, though some chose to think the song celebrate sexual assaults. They coined a term for it – rapey, after Snow White’s least popular dwarf.

I never thought I’d see Daft Punk or Nile Rodgers again in Glenn’s Ten, but this year they returned on the same record. Their “Get Lucky,” which, like “Blurred Lines,” also features Pharrell Williams, is my #2 song of 2013. Daft Punk, who are French and therefore crepey, was last in Glenn’s Ten in 2001 with “Digital Love.” Nile Rodgers was in the great disco band Chic, whose hit-making days preceded the creation of Glenn’s Ten. After Chic he worked with a lot of great artists and Duran Duran. The last time he was in Glenn’s Ten was in 1990 as the co-producer of The B-52s’ “Deadbeat Club.” The Daft Punk/Nile Rodgers/Pharrell Williams combo also turn up at #8 with “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Daft Punk are also at #67 with “Doin’ It Right” and Pharrell is also at #24, assisting Azealia Banks on “ATM Jam.”

Kendrick Lamar is all over my year-end list, placing more songs on it than any other act. Besides several tracks from his terrific debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city (#3 – “Swimming Pools (Drank),” #10 – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” #39 – “Backseat Freestyle” and #44 – “Poetic Justice”), he guested on singles from Miguel (#51 – “How Many Drinks”), ScHoolboy Q (#72 – “Collard Greens”) and A$AP Rocky (#7 – “Fuckin’ Problems”). On the subject of the latter, the way A$AP talks about women is his fuckin’ problem. It’s the first time I ever purchased the so-called “clean” version of a song. The explicit version is very misogynous, though I would stop short of calling it rapey, mostly because that word is stupid (no offense to the dwarf).

While “Get Lucky” evoked the 70s disco sound, that era’s laid back Cali rock vibe was heard in Haim’s “The Wire” (#4), whose introduction sounded a lot like Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight.”

The recipient of the kiss-off that is Icona Pop’s “I Love It” (#5) is from the 70s, but she’s a 90s bitch. She’s loud. She’s angry. She’s possibly psychotic. I don’t care. I love it.

Mariah Carey has released around 75 singles during her career. I’ve enjoyed approximately none of them. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my satellite radio display to see the song I was enjoying was credited to Mariah, all the more unexpected because it was a guy singing. I prefer to think of “#Beautiful” (#36) as a Miguel track.

Like Mariah, the last time Shabba Ranks was in Glenn’s Ten was never, but he was there this year, not as an artist, but as a song title/inspiration for an A$AP Rocky/A$AP Ferg’s collaboration (#43 – “Shabba”).

Kanye West is too humble and reserved to say it, but his Yeezus is the year’s best album. It produced three Glenn’s Ten hits (#27 – “Black Skinhead,” #66 – “Blood on the Leaves” and #69 – “Bound 2”). My other favorite albums of the year are Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady (#16 – “Dance Apocalyptic,” #30 – “Q.U.E.E.N.” and #35 – “Primetime”), Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City (#13 – “Diane Young” and #68 – “Unbelievers”), Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (#21 – “San Francisco” and #42 – “No Destruction) and Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which she snuck out two weeks ago, too recent for any of its tracks to make this year’s list.

Check out the tunes and let me know if you make any discoveries.

1) “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell
2) “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
3) “Swimming Pools (Drank)” – Kendrick Lamar
4) “The Wire” – Haim
5) “I Love It” – Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
6) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake
7) “Fuckin’ Problems” – A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
8) “Lose Yourself to Dance” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
9) “Put the Gun Down” – ZZ Ward
10) “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” – Kendrick Lamar
11) “Wicked Games” – The Weeknd
12) “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
13) “Diane Young” – Vampire Weekend
14) “Royals” – Lorde
15) “Man” – Neko Case
16) “Dance Apocalyptic” – Janelle Monae
17) “Just Give Me a Reason” – P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
18) “Default” – Django Django
19) “Lightning Bolt” – Jake Bugg
20) “High School Lover” – Cayucas
21) “San Francisco” – Foxygen
22) “Lysandre” – Christopher Owens
23) “Right Action” – Franz Ferdinand
24) “ATM Jam” – Azealia Banks featuring Pharrell
25) “Hard Out Here” – Lily Allen
26) “Do You…” – Miguel
27) “Black Skinhead” – Kanye West
28) “Stare at the Sun” – Eleanor Friedberger
29) “Sacrilege” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
30) “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu
31) “Mama Told Me” – Big Boi featuring Kelly Rowland
32) “White Walls” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring ScHoolboy Q and Hollis
33) “Y.A.L.A.” – M.I.A.
34) “I’m Not Sayin’” – The Replacements
35) “Primetime” – Janelle Monae featuring Miguel
36) “#Beautiful” – Mariah Carey featuring Miguel
37) “Stompa” – Serena Ryder
38) “Bubble Butt” – Major Lazer featuring Bruno Mars, Tyga & Mystic
39) “Backseat Freestyle” – Kendrick Lamar
40) “Applause” – Lady Gaga
41) “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
42) “No Destruction” – Foxygen
43) “Shabba” – A$AP Ferg featuring A$AP Rocky
44) “Poetic Justice” – Kendrick Lamar featuring Drake
45) “Sunset” – the xx
46) “Wenu Wenu” – Omar Souleyman
47) “Change” – Churchill
48) “Hang Loose” – Alabama Shakes
49) “Dark and Stormy” – Hot Chip
50) “Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
51) “How Many Drinks” – Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar
52) “The Ceiling” – The Wild Feathers
53) “Love is Blindness” – Jack White
54) “Dream Baby Dream” – Bruce Springsteen
55) “I Won’t Be Long” – Beck
56) “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” – Ylvis
57) “Super Rich Kids” – Frank Ocean with Earl Sweatshirt
58) “Here We Go” – Christopher Owens
59) “Afterlife” – Arcade Fire
60) “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent
61) “FUCKMYLIFE666” – Against Me!
62) “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys
63) “Blowin’ Smoke” – Kacey Musgraves
64) “Don’t Swallow the Cap” – the National
65) “Perfume” – Britney Spears
66) “Blood on the Leaves” – Kanye West
67) “Doin’ It Right” – Daft Punk featuring Panda Bear
68) “Unbelievers” – Vampire Weekend
69) “Bound 2” – Kanye West
70) “Lies” – Chvrches
71) “Work Bitch” – Britney Spears
72) “Collard Greens” – ScHoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar
73) “Ain’t That the Way” – Divine Fits
74) “You’re Not the One” – Sky Ferreira


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Our weekly dance party kicks off with the Beatmasters’ remix of Moby’s “Everytime You Touch Me,” a track that appears in its original form on Moby’s third studio album, Everything Is Wrong. Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A-; The New Rolling Stone Album Guide gave it 4 stars.

Get your groove on. I’ll be back Sunday with part one of my top tracks of 2013 list.

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He’s A Rebel

crystals 003

Some time in my teen years I feel in love with the girl group sound. My favorite was The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel.” The music and the vocals hooked me. The singer tells of how others don’t approve of the boy she loves as he’s a non-conformist, but he treats her well and that’s all that matters.

The story behind the record is as interesting as the record itself. The song was written by Gene Pitney, who had several hits of his own, including “Town Without Pity” and “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valence.” “He’s a Rebel” was slated to be the debut single for Vikki Carr, but when Spector heard Pitney’s demo he knew he wanted it for one of his acts, The Crystals.

He needed to record it quickly in order to challenge Carr’s version at the stores. The Crystals, however, were on the road in New York and unable to make the recording sessions in Los Angeles. No problem. Spector hired a local group called The Blossoms, led by Darlene Wright, to record the song. Wright was paid $3000 for the session. Spector released the record under the name The Crystals, as his label owned the name. The actual Crystals first learned of their new hit song when they heard it on the radio. It became their first #1 single, meaning The Crystals had to learn this song so they could perform it at their shows. The group’s lead singer, Barbara Alston, could not match Wright’s vocal performance, so fellow Crystal LaLa Brooks moved into the lead vocalist slot. Coincidentally, the week The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel” was #1, Gene Pitney was #2 as a singer with “Only Love Can Break a Heart,” a song he didn’t write.

As “He’s a Rebel” was so successful, Spector needed to get a follow-up single out quickly. Again, he turned to The Blossoms to record “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.” Wright, however, was angry that her name was not on “He’s a Rebel” and told Spector she would only do this song if she were singed to a recording agreement and was properly credited for her vocals on the track. Spector agreed, changing her name in the agreement to Darlene Love. He released “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.” It was credited to The Crystals.

Spector used the money he made from “He’s a Rebel” to buy out his business partners in the Philles Records label. In addition to the financial settlement, Spector had to give his two ex-partners a share of the royalties of the next Philles single release, so Spector got the real Crystals into the studio and recorded “(Let’s Dance) The Screw,” a silly number clearly not intended to be a hit. A copy was sent to one of the ex-partners. No royalties were generated.

Today is Phil Spector’s 74th birthday. He’s spending it in jail, convicted in 2009 for the 2003 murder of Lana Clarkson. What happened to Clarkson is horrible and unforgivable. That this is how many people know of Spector these days is tragic. This playlist recalls the years that Spector was known as one of the greatest producers in the history of rock and roll. Besides the tracks presented below, Spector also worked with John Lennon, producing with him, among others, a little ditty called “Imagine;” with George Harrison, producing, among others, a song you may have heard called “My Sweet Lord;” and with The Beatles, producing an album named Let It Be.

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Merry Annie Lennox’s Birthday!

Today marks the annual commemoration of the birth of Annie Lennox, a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated in Western Christianity every December 25 by millions of people around the world. Annie Lennox’s birthday is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-new wave fans, and is an integral part of the holiday season.

The birth year of Lennox is estimated among modern historians to have been between 1953 and 1955 AD.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Annie Lennox’s birthday have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Eurythmics music and caroling, an angel playing with your heart, walking on broken glass, rain again, and sweet dreams. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of Annie Lennox’s birthday involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, her birthday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Annie Lennox’s birthday is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Source: Wikipedia

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An Atheist Jew’s Guide To Christmas Music, Part 4

In the grocery store yesterday I heard the most joyless version of “Joy to the World.” I heard a dull version of “White Christmas” that made me glad it was 77 degrees outside. I heard a rendition “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” so lifeless it would make Kris Kringle say “Fuck this – I’m staying home.”

My fourth and final Christmas playlist for 2013 includes more festive fare. Mostly it consists of Christmas songs that have not been overplayed. Some of the holiday classics are represented – “The Little Drummer Boy” as performed by Iggy Pop and RuPaul’s twist on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in which mommy is not the parent doing the kissing.

Enjoy!

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Happy Anniversary, Ringo + Winston!

Three years ago I adopted Ringo and Winston from a nearby dog rescue shelter. Ringo was abandoned by his previous owner(s). He was micro-chipped but they never sought him. He was fending for himself on the streets of L.A. When I met him he was malnourished, weighing six pounds. His fur was shaved as it was all knotted when he was found. He sat next to me and shook for a half hour.

My intention was to adopt one dog. While meeting Ringo someone dropped off Winston. I don’t remember his background, except that the person who dropped him off was looking after him for a few days and said he’s a great dog but his previous owners couldn’t keep him.

I couldn’t decide between the two so I adopted both. They are opposites in almost every way but they get on great.

Ringo wasn’t named Ringo when I met him. I changed his name so he would have a new identity for a new, happy life. I chose Ringo after the drummer in my favorite group. Winston was already named Winston when I met him. I recall that John Lennon’s middle name was Winston, which would go well with Ringo. My next two dogs will be Harrison and Mac.

Dec 2013 si9a1833Ringo, Glenn and Winston

Here is a dog-themed playlist for my two kids, Ringo and Winston.

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But Then Again, No

Sometimes an awkward lyric shows up and mars an otherwise perfectly reasonable song. I don’t mean songs such as Paul McCartney’s “Spies Like Us” or Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” or Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory.” Those songs are just plain bad.

Wings’ “Live and Let Die” is one of my favorite of Sir Paul’s post-Beatles songs, but I refuse to sing along with the phrase “this ever changing world in which we live in.” Poor grammar makes me want to give in and cry.

John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” pays tribute to many rock and soul greats of the 1960s. It’s a crackin’ little number but I always cringe when he sings “let’s don’t forget James Brown.” “Let’s not” uses just as many syllables, is grammatically-correct, and doesn’t detract from the message of not forgetting James Brown.

There are times when lyrics are bad not because of their grammar, but because they sound like place holders that remained in the song because the lyricist couldn’t come up with anything with which to replace them. Take Elton John’s classic hit “Your Song.” “If I was a sculptor, but then again, no.” Why is that in the song? You’re not a sculptor. You weren’t a sculptor. What would happen if you were a sculptor? Instead of giving the object of your affection the gift of song, would you make a bust of their face, a la Lionel Richie’s “Hello” video?

One of my favorite bad lyrics is in the Diana Ross and the Supremes hit “I’m Livin’ in Shame,” in which Diana sings “Came the telegram – Ma passed away while making homemade jam.” Telegram messages were charged by the letter, so including the details of what Ma was doing when she died is a bad choice lyrically and financially. What lyrics were discarded in favor of that? “Came the telegram – Ma passed away while carving up the ham?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away with her finger in a dam?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away serving in Viet Nam?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away from an attack by a ram?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away from choking on a yam?” That last one is good, but then again, no.

“I Started a Joke” by the Bee Gees is an okay song that would be better if Johnny Marr played guitar on it. Then it may sound like a Smiths song. Not a Smiths single. Maybe an album track. I’m not sure what the over-the-top lyrics are about. It seems Robin Gibb is not a gifted comedian and his joke made everyone cry and then he cried and everyone started laughing and then he died but kept singing this song. That’s all well and good. The line that made me include it in this blog entry is “I fell out of bed hurting my head from things that I said.” I think you hurt your head when you fell out of bed and banged said head on a jar of homemade jam.

Let’s don’t forget Robin and Maurice Gibb on their birthday.

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Wild Honey

Stevie Wonder is dating a girl he likes a lot, but his mother doesn’t approve, so he says to her ….

That’s how Beach Boy Mike Love explained the lyrics to the group’s hit “Wild Honey,” named after something sold in Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s health food shop.

The lead singer on this track is the late Carl Wilson, whose birthday is today.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

A Wisconsin artist named Molly Evans started an art project in which she stitches Lionel Richie lyrics on discarded furniture. She calls the project Lionel Stitchie. You can view her tumblr here.

hello

Today’s Friday dance party kicks off with Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night).” I want a couch that says “Tom bo li de say de moi ya,” which means exactly what you think it means. To get his Jamaican accent down, Alabama-born Richie phoned his wife’s gynecologist, who is Jamaican. The doctor asked Lionel to not interrupt his appointments.

Enjoy!

h/t mollyeeeee.com via Dangerous Minds

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