Monthly Archives: January 2015

John Lydon – Still Rotten?

doggies + Pistols
I don’t know what to make of John Lydon, formerly Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. I read that he is a firm believer in women’s rights. However, during a 2013 interview with a female television hostess he told her to shut up and not interrupt when a man is speaking. I read that he is a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage. However, in a 2012 interview with The New Yorker he said gay marriage is “stupid.” Back in 2001 on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect program he said gay men want to be woman, lesbians are dark and terrible and mocked transgender folks. He claims to be fiercely opposed to racism. However, singer Kele Okereke, who is black and gay, claims that racist epithets were hurled at him when he tried to meet his then-idol Lydon following a 2008 performance at Barcelona’s Summercase festival.

Part of his saying such things may be to draw attention to himself. After all, who’s been paying attention to any of his musical output over the past couple of decades? That’s not a good reason, though. He has demonstrated his intelligence and thoughtfulness on many occasions. I get that he finds political correctness confining, but that doesn’t mean that being an asshole is the best alternative. Am I asking too much of a man who introduced himself to the world as Rotten?

Today Lydon turns 59. I’ll separate these twenty fine recordings from the jerk who sang on them.

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It’s Jody Watley’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Jody W

Jody Watley is more of a trailblazer than you may realize.

She debuted as a Soul Train dancer at 14, where she amassed many fans due to her fashion sense and her dance style, called waacking, described on her web-site as a “beat-driven cousin of voguing.” She told DiscoMusic.com that she remembers those days fondly. “The Soul Train era was a lot of fun. It’s where I received my diva training in working the camera, giving attitude and ‘working it!’ All of the gay boys on the show taught me well!”

In 1977 she became a member of the music trio Shalamar, with whom she remained until 1983. The group landed hits on the pop, r&b and dance charts with “The Second Time Around,” “Dead Giveaway,” “Make That Move,” “A Night to Remember,” “Full of Fire” and “Right in the Socket.”

In 1984 she participated in the recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” She and Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & the Gang were the only American performers in Band Aid.

Her self-titled solo debut album was released in 1986. It produced five charted singles – “Don’t You Want Me,” “”Some Kind of Lover,” “Still a Thrill,” “Most of All,” and the classic “Looking For A New Love,” which gave us the catch-phrase “Hasta la vista, baby,” later used by Tone-Loc in “Wild Thing” and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. She co-wrote all but three songs on the album, including its three top ten pop singles.

That album won Jody the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, nearly a decade after her first hit as part of Shalamar.

The music videos for “Most of All” and “Real Love,” the first single from her second solo album, were directed by David Fincher, director of the films Gone Girl, The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Zodiac and Se7en. The “Real Love” video received six MTV Video Award nominations.

The follow-up to the “Real Love” single, which hit #2, was another top ten pop hit. “Friends” was groundbreaking in that it was the first crossover hit to which a rapper, in this case Rakim, added an original verse. This formula became and remains very popular, to the extent that in 2002 the Grammy Awards added a Rap/Sung category.

That song’s music video was radical as well. In it, Jody and Rakim perform for a multicultural crowd that includes people of different races, sexual orientations and gender expressions, but not in a way that appears pandering to her base.

In 1994, Jody had a dance hit with an original song entitled “When a Man Loves a Woman.” In the UK re-edits of the song were released. “When a Man Loves a Man” was a big hit in gay clubs there. (There was also a “When a Woman Loves a Woman” mix.)

Said Jody to DiscoMusic.com, “I appreciate my gay fan base so much… I’m told they admire my individuality, style, and inner strength to persevere. I’ve also been told that my songs have helped people come out to their families or go through break ups. I’m always humbled.”

In 2004, four years before Prop 8 became a Prop, city officials in San Francisco issued about 4000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Jody Watley was there to serenade the newlyweds. (The California Supreme Court ordered the city to cease marrying same-sex partners in March 2004.)

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 56th birthday of Jody Watley by peppering our weekly dance playlist with some of her finest moments.

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Glenn’s Ten – January 28, 2015

It’s been awhile since I posted Glenn’s Ten, the ranking of my ten favorite songs of the week, so let me rectify that.

At number one is Elle Varner with “Fuck It All,” which will be my wedding song. Elle is the only act in Glenn’s Ten this week who is there for the first time. Long-missing D’Angelo surprise released an album in December, from which two tracks are in this week’s tally. Kanye West surprise-released a single on New Year’s Eve. That song, “Only One” was last week’s #1. On it he is helped by Sir Paul McCartney, who makes his first Glenn’s Ten appearance since “No More Lonely Nights” in 1984. Mary J. Blige has also been absent from Glenn’s Ten for a number of years, but she is there now with “Therapy,” a former #1.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1 – “Fuck It All” – Elle Varner
2 – “Sugah Daddy” – D’Angelo
3 – “Only One” – Kanye West featuring Paul McCartney
4 – “Therapy” – Mary J. Blige
5 – “Break the Rules” – Charli XCX
6 – “Little Red Wagon” – Miranda Lambert
7 – “Really Love” – D’Angelo
8 – “Earned It” – The Weeknd
9 – “Stay Gold” – First Aid Kit
10 – “She’s Not Me” – Jenny Lewis

Today’s playlist consists of those ten songs, followed by ten songs that were #1 on Glenn’s Ten on this date in past years.

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Happy Australia Day – Twenty Australian Music Acts You Should Know

Today is Australia Day, unless you are in Australia, in which case it was yesterday, because by the time I post this it will be tomorrow there, which is their today but our tomorrow. Therefore, our today is Australia Day, which makes no sense, really, as the holiday is celebrated in Australia, where, as I pointed out, today is tomorrow, the day after Australia Day.

Australia Day commemorates the day the British proclaimed sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of the country/continent, or at least that’s what someone entered in Wikipedia.

Today’s playlist is made up of twenty acts that hail from Australia. Before anyone asks, AC/DC’s music is not on Spotify, hence their exclusion.

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Ten Facts About Neil Diamond

Ringo + Neil Diamond
1) “Sweet Caroline” has been played during every Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park since 2002. Over the past couple of years it has been played in tribute to the city of Boston and those directly affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.
2) The Monkees’ cover of Diamond’s “I’m a Believer” was the biggest hit of 1966 in the US. It remained at #1 for seven weeks. The Monkees also had a hit with Diamond’s “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.” Other hit versions of Diamond compositions include UB40’s “Red Red Wine,” Deep Purple’s “Kentucky Woman” and Jay & the Americans’ “Sunday and Me.”
3) In 1977 Diamond released a solo version of a song he wrote entitled “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Shortly after, Barbra Streisand released her version of the song. An employee at a Kentucky radio station spliced the two versions together, creating a virtual duet. An official release of a duet version by Columbia Records, for whom both artists recorded, resulted in a #1 record. It was produced by Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons.
4) “Solitary Man” was Diamond’s first charting single as a performer. In 2005 Rolling Stone magazine called it Diamond’s best, saying “There’s not a wasted word or chord in this two-and-a-half minute anthem of heartbreak and self-affirmation, which introduced the melancholy loner persona that he’s repeatedly returned to throughout his career.”
5) He starred in the 1980 version of the film The Jazz Singer, for which he was a nominee for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and the winner of the Razzie for Worst Actor. The film’s soundtrack became Diamond’s best-selling album and spawned three top ten singles: “Love on the Rocks,” “Hello Again” and bad song I love “America.”
6) “Cracklin’ Rosie” is slang used by a Canadian Indian tribe for a bottle of wine. The tribe had more men than women, so the men that didn’t get a girl got with Cracklin’ Rosie. The song “Cracklin’ Rosie” became Diamond’s first #1 single as a performer.
7) “Heartlight” was inspired by the film E.T., The Extraterrestrial.
8) Urge Overkill’s version of Diamond’s “Girl, You‘ll Be a Woman Soon” became a hit on the Modern Rock chart due to its inclusion in Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction. Diamond initially withheld the right for Tarantino to use the song in the film as he found the script too violent.
9) In the mid-sixties Diamond was working on a song he called “Money Money.” The head of his record label, Bert Berns, and songwriter Jeff Barry convinced him to change the title to something more teen-friendly. The result became Diamond’s first top ten single as a performer, “Cherry, Cherry.”
10) It took Diamond four months to write “I Am…I Said,” my favorite song about hearing-impaired furniture.

Today Diamond turns 74. Here is your Diamond Day soundtrack.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Hey, reader(s), Tunes du Jour is now on Twitter! Engage me in a way that only a tweeter can! You can find me at @TunesDuJour.

Ringo + Pointers
Friday is dance day ‘round these parts. Today’s party playlist kicks off with birthday woman Anita Pointer, who leads her sisters in telling us how excited she is to turn 67 today.

Have a terrific weekend!

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50 Songs Named After Real People

Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.

I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”

Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.

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King Holiday

Winston + King

There was a trend in eighties pop music of superstars banding together for a cause. As trends go, it was certainly better than the medley craze of that same decade. Its high points included “We Are the World,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” “Sun City” and “King Holiday.”

“King Holiday” was the result of a conversation rapper Kurtis Blow had with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s son Dexter. The civil rights leader’s birthday was celebrated as a national holiday for the first time on January 20, 1986. To commemorate the occasion, Blow, along with Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bill Adler and Phillip Jones, composed “King Holiday,” which Blow and Jones produced.

To perform the song, they gathered an impressive list of crossover stars of the day. Joining Kurtis Blow and Melle Mel on the record were Run-D.M.C., Whitney Houston, Lisa Lisa, Full Force, James “JT” Taylor (of Kool & the Gang), Teena Marie, Whodini, Fat Boys, El DeBarge, Stephanie Mills, New Edition, Stacy Lattisaw and Menudo (featuring Ricky Martin). The single made the top 30 on Billboard’s Black Music chart. All proceeds from its sale were donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Today Tunes du Jour jumps back in time to sing celebrate sing sing celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (+ It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!)

25 Things You Don’t Know About Me:
1. I never wear flip-flops in public, except on the beach.
2. The first time I met Chaka Khan, I said to her “You are the ultimate sex goddess of life.” Her mouth said “Thanks.” Her eyes said “SECURITY!!!”
3. I have two eyes and two ears, but only one nose.
4. I can name every letter of the alphabet.
5. I sleep in a bed.
6. I can bench press over 18 pounds.
7. I eat solid food.
8. I’m an American citizen.
9. I know every word to the theme from S.W.A.T.
10. I celebrate my birthday once a year.
11. I’m always listening to music, except when I’m not.
12. I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance by heart.
13. Some of my best friends are gay.
14. I know how to say hello in English.
15. Everyone in my family is a homo sapien.
16. I’ve never met Barack Obama or Millard Fillmore; however, I did meet Jermaine Stewart, the guy who sang “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.”
17. I’ll often wear the same jeans two or three times in a given month.
18. I’ve never gotten high, drunk, or a legendary engram.
19. I have no idea what a legendary engram is.
20. I am 5’9½” tall, though I was shorter at the time of my birth.
21. If I’m outside in the rain and I don’t have an umbrella, I usually end up getting wet.
22. I’ve never been pregnant.
23. I’m unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
24. I was not in the movies Star Wars, Rear Window or Beethoven 2.
25. I don’t know what a slide rule is for.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our party kicks off with Sade. Sade, the lead singer of Sade, turns 56 today, which reminds me: 26. I once rode in an elevator with Sade, the lead singer of Sade.

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Let’s Twist!

Ringo + Chubby
On January 13, 1962, Chubby Checker returned to #1 with “The Twist,” a record he previously took to #1 in September of 1960, making it the only record to hit #1 in two separate chart runs.

The song was originally recorded and released in 1959 by its writer, Hank Ballard, and his band, The Midnighters, as the b-side to their single “Teardrops on Your Letter.” A Baltimore DJ named Buddy Deane played “The Twist” on his television dance party program and got a good response. He told Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand about the tune.

Depending on what account you read, Ballard was unavailable to appear on American Bandstand or Clark was wary of Ballard, who previously hit with such lascivious songs as “Work with Me, Annie” and “Sexy Ways.” Either way, Clark had Chubby Checker (born Earnest Evans; his stage name was a take-off on popular singer Fats Domino) record “The Twist.”

Checker’s version is an extremely faithful cover of the Ballard recording. It is difficult to tell them apart; even Ballard thought the Checker recording was his!

In its 1960 release, Chubby Checker’s record launched a national dance craze. On the second release of the Chubby Checker version, “The Twist” became a worldwide phenomenon. Other twist hits included “Slow Twistin’,” “Dear Lady Twist,” “Twist, Twist Señora,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Percolator (Twist),” “Soul Twist,” “Twist and Shout,” “Hey, Let’s Twist,” “Twistin’ Matilda (and the Channel),” “Twist-Her,” “Bristol Twistin’ Annie,” “Twistin’ Postman” and The Chipmunks’ “The Alvin Twist” – and that was just in 1962!

Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” spent one week at #1 in 1960 and two more weeks at #1 in 1962 before it was knocked from the top by…”The Peppermint Twist,” by Joey Dee & the Starlighters.

Here are twenty twistin’ favorites.

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