Monthly Archives: December 2015

My Top 99 Songs Of 2015

Herewith, my 99 favorite tracks of this year:

1. Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
2. Sugah Daddy – D’Angelo & the Vanguard
3. Peanut Butter Jelly – Galantis
4. Downtown – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee & Grandmaster Kaz
5. Fuck It All – Elle Varner
6. Therapy – Mary J. Blige
7. Coffee (Fucking) – Miguel
8. What Do You Mean? – Justin Bieber
9. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) – Run the Jewels featuring Zack De La Rocha
10. Hello – Adele
11. Only One – Kanye West featuring Paul McCartney
12. Depreston – Courtney Barnett
13. On the Regular – Shamir
14. Lampshades on Fire – Modest Mouse
15. Shine – Years & Years
16. Hotline Bling – Drake
17. Truffle Butter – Nicki Minaj featuring Drake and Lil Wayne
18. The Blacker the Berry – Kendrick Lamar
19. Dead Fox – Courtney Barnett
20. The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box – Modest Mouse
21. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
22. FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna featuring Kanye West and Paul McCartney
23. Teenage Talk – St. Vincent
24. Alright – Kendrick Lamar
25. Who U? – Dynas featuring Slick Rick
26. Friday I’m in Love – Yo La Tengo
27. Queen – Perfume Genius
28. King Kunta – Kendrick Lamar
29. Yoga – Janelle Monae featuring Jidenna
30. Dreams – Beck
31. Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo) – EL VY
32. The Love Within – Bloc Party
33. The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt. – Father John Misty
34. Huarache Lights – Hot Chip
35. Dancing in the Dark – Hot Chip
36. B.O.B. – Macy Gray
37. Break the Rules – Charli XCX
38. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
39. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit
40. Cool for the Summer – Demi Lovato
41. Girl Crush – Little Big Town
42. Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party – Courtney Barnett
43. Little Red Wagon – Miranda Lambert
44. Cedar Lane – First Aid Kit
45. Jonathan – Christine and the Queens featuring Perfume Genius
46. Boxing Day Blues (Revisited) – Courtney Barnett
47. In for the Kill – Shamir
48. Biscuits – Kacey Musgraves
49. Can’t Get Enough of Myself – Santigold featuring BC
50. You’re So Beautiful – Empire Cast featuring Jussie Smollett
51. Ugly Cherries – PWR BTTM
52. Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey) – The Weeknd
53. Leave a Trace – CHVRCHES
54. Freedom – Pharrell Williams
55. Betray My Heart – D’Angelo & the Vanguard
56. Snakeskin – Deerhunter
57. Really Love – D’Angelo & the Vanguard
58. I Can’t Lose – Mark Ronson featuring Keyone Starr
59. Outta My Mind – the Arcs
60. Happy Idiot – TV on the Radio
61. Bad Blood – Ryan Adams
62. Nobody’s Empire – Belle & Sebastian
63. Come – Jain
64. Stonemilker – Björk
65. Holding On – Julio Bashmore featuring Sam Dew
66. Go Out – Blur
67. Weight in Gold – Gallant
68. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) – Father John Misty
69. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
70. All Day – Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney
71. Glory – Common and John Legend
72. Need You Now – Hot Chip
73. Sausage – Lil Mama
74. Déjà Vu – Giorgio Moroder featuring Sia
75. Alone on Christmas Day – Phoenix featuring Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzmann, Buster Poindexter and Paul Shaffer
76. Smokin’ & Drinkin’ – Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
77. She’s Not Me – Jenny Lewis
78. Omen – Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
79. For Sale – Kendrick Lamar
80. NWA – Miguel featuring Kurupt
81. Times Square – Destroyer
82. I Put a Spell on You – Annie Lennox
83. 4 Degrees – ANOHNI
84. Go – The Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip
85. Sometimes – Heems
86. Bitch Better Have My Money – Rihanna
87. Runnin’ (Lose It All) – Naughty Boy featuring Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin
88. Smooth Sailin’ – Leon Bridges
89. Hell – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
90. Simple Things – Miguel
91. Shivers – Courtney Barnett
92. Tom’s Diner – Giorgio Moroder featuring Britney Spears
93. Trap Queen – Fetty Wap
94. Tell Your Friends – The Weeknd
95. L$D – A$AP Rocky
96. These Walls – Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat
97. Love is Free – Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique
98. Country Down – Beck
99. Better in the Morning – Little Boots


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It’s Jesus’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Actually, today is not Jesus’ birthday. At least not Jesus Christ’s birthday. Maybe Jesus de la Guarda of East L.A. was born on this date in 1983 (happy birthday, Jesus!), but Jesus Christ was not.

Most likely, Jesus (Christ, not de la Guarda) was born in autumn, perhaps on November 18. Not only is December 25 not His birthday, but 0 was not His birth year, according to some scholars. The assumed year of His birth is 6 to 4 B.C. That means Christ was born six to four years before Christ! He was truly ahead of his time! Ba-dum-bump.

Regardless of when His actual birth date was, folks in many parts of the world celebrate it today, because nothing is open anyway so why not?

As for me, I need to dance! The Tunes du Jour weekly dance party kicks off with Snap!’s “Mary Had a Little Boy.” Happy birthday, Jesus de la Guarda!


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Throwback Thursday – 1967

I heard the news today. Oh boy! The Beatles’ recordings are now available on streaming platforms, including Spotify.

To celebrate, Tunes du Jour kicks off its 1967 playlist this Throwback Thursday with The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” a song that combines an unfinished song from John Lennon, inspired by newspaper articles, with one from Paul McCartney, a reflection of his school days.

Here are twenty of 1967’s finest musical moments.


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 33: One ‘Mo Christmas

The fourth and final Xmas playlist for 2015. Have a happy!


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It’s Sia’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

The Guardian described Sia’s “Chandelier” as “a warning about the pitfalls of a party lifestyle.” About the song, MTV News wrote “Sia serves party-girl darkness, toeing the line between celebration and self-destruction as it becomes increasingly more blurred.” Now sober, the singer/songwriter struggled with alcoholism in the past. She told NPR “I wrote [“Chandelier”] because there’s so many party-girl anthems in pop, and I thought it’d be interesting to do a different take on that.”

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our weekly party kicks off with “Chandelier,” co-written and performed by Sia, who turns 40 years old today.


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Throwback Thursday – The Hits Of 1977

An instrumental performed by then new Eagles member Don Felder was submitted to his bandmates Glenn Frey and Don Henley to add lyrics. The first working title the guys gave the song was “Mexican Reggae.”

Henley was determined to create the perfect song, spending eight months in the studio working on “Mexican Reggae,” which came to be called “Hotel California.” A lyric referring to the band Steely Dan was added (“They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast”) after Steely Dan included the lyric “Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening” on their song “Everything You Did.”

In 2009, music critic John Soeder asked Don Henley about the lyric “So I called up the Captain / ‘Please bring me my wine’ / He said, ‘We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969’,” pointing out that wine isn’t a spirit, as wine is fermented whereas spirits are distilled. Soeder asked the singer/composer “Do you regret that lyric?” Henley replied “Believe me, I’ve consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is….My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in songwriting and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes.” Insert steely knife here!

This week for Throwback Thursday, Tunes du Jour listens to the hits of 1977, kicking off with Eagles’ “Hotel California.”


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Grammy Nominations!

It seems that last week I was busy doing something close to nothing, so I didn’t get a chance to tell you who was nominated for Grammys this year. Here is the list, with my random thoughts thrown in:

Record of the Year
“Really Love” — D’Angelo and the Vanguard
“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

I’d give it to The Weeknd, but I wouldn’t mind if Mark Ronson or D’Angelo won. I’ve never heard this Taylor Swift fella so I can’t vote for him. I have heard Ed Sheeran so I can’t vote for him.

Song of the Year
“Alright” — Kendrick Lamar (written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams)
“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift (written by Max Martin, Shellback and Taylor Swift)
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town (written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose)
“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (written by Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth and Cameron Thomaz)
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran (written by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge)

Kendrick’s “Alright” is more than alright and I have a boy crush on Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” As for “See You Again,” I hope I never hear it again. I’m not going to say what I think of Ed Sheeran out loud. This Taylor Swift fella’s songs are not on Spotify, which is why nobody knows who he is.

Album of the Year
Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
To Pimp a Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar
Traveller — Chris Stapleton
1989 — Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind the Madness — The Weeknd

To Pimp a Butterfly is the best album of 2015, but the category is called Album of the Year, not Best Album of the Year. The Weeknd’s album had its moments, and I have no beef with Alabama Shakes. I wouldn’t know a Chris Stapleton song if it hit me in the ears, but I loved Jean Stapleton on All in the Family. And there’s that Taylor Swift fella again, who will probably win Album of the Year as he named his album after a year, the sneaky devil. Maybe then he’ll finally start getting some press.

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Last year Meghan Trainor was nominated for Record of the Year for “All About That Bass.” However, per the Recording Academy, to be eligible for a Best New Artist nomination “a person or band must have or have not released an album, song, or spoken a single word any time during their life, after their life, or never.” I’m voting for Courtney Barnett, who has been putting out music since 2012, for Best New Artist of 2015. Regarding the others up for this award, I’ve heard of Sam Hunt but haven’t heard any of his or her music, and James Bay and Tori Kelly are names the Academy made up so there would be five nominees.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Ship to Wreck” — Florence + The Machine
“Sugar” — Maroon 5
“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Bad Blood” — Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth

Are they going to have this Taylor Swift fella perform on the Grammy Awards telecast so the world can see what he looks like? I’d give this award to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. If Maroon 5 or Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth win, somebody’s going to get hurt.

Best Pop Solo Performance
“Heartbeat Song” — Kelly Clarkson
“Love Me Like You Do” — Ellie Goulding
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space”— Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

Is Taylor Swift that guy from the Twilight movies?

Best Pop Vocal Album
Piece By Piece — Kelly Clarkson
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful — Florence + The Machine
Uptown Special — Mark Ronson
1989 — Taylor Swift
Before This World — James Taylor

James Taylor? What just happened? Is Taylor Swift the guy who wrote Gulliver’s Travels back in the 1700s?

Best Rap Collaboration
“One Man Can Change The World” — Big Sean featuring Kanye West and John Legend
“Glory” — Common and John Legend
“Classic Man” — Jidenna featuring Roman GianArthur
“These Walls” — Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat
“Only” — Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown

Where’s Taylor Swift’s nomination?

Best Rap Song
“All Day” — Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney (written by Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Tyler Bryant, Kendrick Duckworth, Karim Kharbouch, Ernest Brown, Cydel Young, Victor Mensah, Allan Kyariga, Mike Dean, Che Pope, Noah Goldstein, Allen Ritter, Mario Winans, Charles Njapa, Malik Yusef Jones, Patrick Reynolds, Rennard East and Noel Ellis)
“Alright — Kendrick Lamar (written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams)
“Energy” — Drake (written by Richard Dorfmeister, A. Graham, Markus Kienzl, M. O’Brien, M. Samuels and Phillip Thomas)
“Glory” — Common and John Legend (written by Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith and John Stephens)
“Trap Queen” — Fetty Wap (written by Tony Fadd & Willie J. Maxwell)

It’s about time Grandmaster Paul McCartney was nominated for Best Rap Song, though the fact that it took 19 people to write it diminishes what is otherwise a perfectly so-so track. MC Paul McC is up against some heavyweights, so he’ll need to keep trying for the rap trophy because this won’t be his year.

Best Rap Album
2014 Forest Hills Drive — J. Cole
Compton — Dr. Dre
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late — Drake
To Pimp a Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar
The Pinkprint — Nicki Minaj

Kendrick. Anna Kendrick.

Best Rap Performance
“Apparently” — J. Cole
“Back to Back” — Drake
“Trap Queen” — Fetty Wap
“Alright” — Kendrick Lamar
“Truffle Butter” — Nicki Minaj featuring Drake and Lil Wayne
“All Day” – Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney

Eddie Kendricks.

Best Country Album
Montevallo — Sam Hunt
Pain Killer — Little Big Town
The Blade — Ashley Monroe
Pageant Material — Kacey Musgraves
Traveller — Chris Stapleton

Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift.

Best Country Solo Performance
“Burning House” — Cam
“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton
“Little Toy Guns” — Carrie Underwood
“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ — Keith Urban
“Chances Are” — Lee Ann Womack

Hedy Lamarr or Elizabeth Taylor.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Stay a Little Longer” — Brothers Osborne
“If I Needed You” — Joey + Rory
“The Driver” — Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley, Eric Paslay
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town
“Lonely Tonight” — Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe

Hedley Lamarr or Motel the Tailor.

Best Country Song
“Chances Are” — Lee Ann Womack (written by Hayes Carll)
“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” — Tim McGraw (written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton)
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town (written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose)
“Hold My Hand” — Brandy Clark (written by Brandy Clark and Mark Stephen Jones)
“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton (written by Chris Stapleton)

Swifty Lazar or Lord and Taylor.

Best Rock Album
Chaos and the Calm — James Bay
Kintsugi — Death Cab for Cutie
Mister Asylum — Highly Suspect
Drones — Muse
.5: The Gray Chapter — Slipknot

Laser Hair Removal or Tailor On Premises.

Best Dance Recording
“We’re All We Need” — Above and Beyond featuring Zoë Johnston
“Go” — The Chemical Brothers
“Never Catch Me” — Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Runaway (U & I)” — Galantis
“Where Are Ü Now” — Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber

Laser Beams – oh, wait. Kendrick Lamar really is nominated in this category.

Best Rock Performance
“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes
“What Kind of Man” — Florence + The Machine
“Something From Nothing” — Foo Fighters
“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King
“Moaning Lisa Smile” — Wolf Alice

What happened to that Taylor Swift fella? He hasn’t been nominated in the last few categories. The Academy built him up and then knocked him right back down.

Best Rock Song
“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes (written by Alabama Shakes)
“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King (written by Dave Bassett and Elle King)
“Hold Back the River” — James Bay (written by Iain Archer and James Bay)
“Lydia” — Highly Suspect (written by Richard Meyer, Ryan Meyer and Johnny Stevens)
“What Kind of Man” — Florence + The Machine (written John Hill, Tom Hull and Florence Welch)

I find these nominees highly suspect. Who is Highly Suspect? Isn’t James Bay the guy who directed Avatar and Transformers? I like the Elle King song, but she’s Rob Schneider’s daughter (seriously!), so give the award to Alabama Shakes or Florence.

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Our Love — Caribou
Born in the Echoes — The Chemical Brothers
Caracal — Disclosure
In Colour — Jamie XX
Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü — Skrillex And Diplo

I’m rooting for – hold on, the phone is ringing.

Best R&B Song
“Coffee” — Miguel (written by Brook Davis and Miguel Pimente)
“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” — The Weeknd (written by Ahmad Balshe, Stephan Moccio, Jason Quenneville and Abel Tesfaye)
“Let It Burn” — Jazmine Sullivan (written by Kenny B. Edmonds, Jazmine Sullivan and Dwane M. Weir II)
“Really Love” — D’Angelo and the Vanguard (written by D’Angelo and Kendra Foster)
“Shame” — Tyrese (written by Warryn Campbell, Tyrese Gibson and DJ Rogers Jr,)

Jazmine Sullivan put out a record this year? I don’t think so. Tyrese put out a record this year? Yeah, sure he did! I’m okay with any of the folks who actually released a record this year winning.

Best R&B Performance
“If I Don’t Have You” — Tamar Braxton
“Rise Up” — Andra Day
“Breathing Underwater” — Hiatus Kaiyote
“Planes” — Jeremih featuring J. Cole
“Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” — The Weeknd

This is The Weeknd’s to lose. I don’t know the other nominated songs, but I imagine they’re boring and Hiatus Kaiyote is not a real thing.

Best R&B Album
Coming Home — Leon Bridges
Black Messiah — D’Angelo and the Vanguard
Cheers to the Fall — Andra Day
Reality Show — Jazmine Sullivan
Forever Charlie — Charlie Wilson

If D’Angelo doesn’t win then the terrorists have won.

Best Alternative Music Album
Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
Vulnicura — Björk
The Waterfall — My Morning Jacket
Currents — Tame Impala
Star Wars — Wilco

[Insert play on names Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift here.]

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Ego Death — The Internet
You Should Be Here — Kehlani
Blood — Lianne La Havas
Wildheart — Miguel
Beauty Behind the Madness — The Weeknd

You can Google Kehlani and found out who or what that is. You can Google Lianne La Havas and find out who or what that is. You can Google The Internet and NOT LEARN A GODDAMN THING ABOUT WHO OR WHAT THAT IS. When you’re done Googling, face the fact that this category is a two-person contest between Miguel and The Weeknd.

Best Spoken Word Album
Blood On Snow (Jo Nesbø) – Patti Smith
Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, And Assorted Hijinks – Dick Cavett
A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety – Jimmy Carter
Patience And Sarah (Isabel Miller) – Janis Ian and Jean Smart
Yes Please – Amy Poehler

This is Patti Smith’s first Grammy nomination. The woman who co-wrote “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen and made it a top fifteen pop hit and classic rock staple has never been nominated previously for a Grammy. The woman whose 1975 release Horses consistently appears on All Time Best Albums lists receives her first Grammy nomination in 2015 for reading a book out loud, a book somebody else wrote at that! This is a real category??? Too bad Smith is going to lose this award to former president Jimmy Carter who, great man that he is, does not have a “Piss Factory” in him.

Today’s playlists is made up of twenty selections that were not nominated for Grammy Awards. Not for Song of the Year, not for Record of the year, not for vocal performance in any genre, nor were the albums on which these tracks initially appeared nominated under any genre. Listen to these losers!


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 32: Even ‘Mo Christmas

Make the Yuletide gay – VERY gay – with this twenty-song playlist. Openly gay folks mix with closeted folks mix with allies. Christmas classics sit alongside soon-to-be classics and never-in-a-million-years-will-this-be-a-classic. Artists include R.E.M., Devo and Cheyenne Jackson.


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When Sheila E. Met Prince

In 1978, Pete Escovedo was a member of Santana’s band. While the group was holed up in a Bay Area recording studio working on a project, a young artist from Minneapolis was in the neighboring studio. Carlos Santana and Escovedo were impressed with the kid’s abilities – writing, producing and playing all of the instruments on the album he was recording. Hearing them sing this guy’s praises, Escovedo’s daughter Sheila, a talented musician in her own right, remarked that she’d like to meet him.

She did meet him the following year. She attended a performance of his and went backstage to introduce herself. It turns out he knew who she was and was already a fan of her work. That is when Prince met percussionist Sheila Escovedo, who he later christened Sheila E.

Though she had reservations about being a lead vocalist, Prince persuaded Sheila E. to do a solo album. He wrote songs for her, including the record’s title track, a song inspired by and originally intended for Apollonia. That song, “The Glamorous Life,” hit the top ten on the US pop and r&b charts and went to #1 on the dance chart.

Ringo + Sheila E2
Tunes du Jour celebrates Sheila E’s birthday with this twenty-track playlist.


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It’s Jermaine Jackson’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Jermaine J2
When his brothers/ fellow Jackson 5 members signed with Epic Records in 1975, Jermaine Jackson stayed with the quintet’s label, Motown. After all, he was married to the label head’s daughter. While The Jacksons, as the group was now known (Motown owns the name Jackson 5), racked up hits, Jermaine’s solo recording career floundered.

In 1980, his luck changed. After seven years without a top 40 solo hit, Jermaine hit the top ten with “Let’s Get Serious,” thanks in large part to fellow Motown artist Stevie Wonder, who during the 1970s scored eighteen top 40 hits on the pop chart. Wonder produced, arranged, co-wrote, sang backup, and played keyboards and drums on the track.

Besides reaching #9 on the pop chart, “Let’s Get Serious” went to #1 on the Soul chart, where it remained for six weeks. It became Billboard’s #1 soul song of 1980. At #2 was his brother Michael’s “Rock With You.”

“Let’s Get Serious” peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Dance chart. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party on what is Jermaine Jackson’s 61st birthday.


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