I’m going to make an attempt to blog more frequently this year. To that end, I’ll posts playlists of eclectic music several times per week. Give them a listen. Skip the songs you don’t like. Heart the ones you do.
Today’s playlist is inspired by the January 6 birthdays of Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett, Sister Sledge’s Kathy Sledge, Van McCoy, the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ Kim Wilson, Nino Tempo and Earl Scruggs.
My favorite song of 2019 came out in 2016. Like most people, I slept on Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” upon its initial release three years ago. I also slept on her “Truth Hurts,” my #4 song of 2019, when it was released in 2017. Lizzo’s first track to make Glenn’s Ten was “Boys,” which hit #1 in July 2018, just two months before my favorite 2019 artist after Lizzo, Billie Eilish, made her Glenn’s Ten debut with “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Eilish’s “Bad Guy” is my #3 song of this year, breaking up Lizzo’s hold on the top four. L-to-the-izzo’s “Juice,” my #2 song of 2019, debuted on Glenn’s Ten on January 12, kicking off 49 consecutive weeks with at least one Lizzo track in my top ten, 22 of those weeks at #1. I’m sure both of those are records, something I would confirm if I weren’t too lazy to look it up.
At #5 for
the year sits the only artist in my year end top ten who made their Glenn’s Ten
debut in 2019, Megan Thee Stallion. (Megan’s her real first name; Thee is not
her actual middle name and Stallion is not on her birth certificate. I’m a
Megan Thee Stallion truther.) On that hit, “Hot Girl Summer,” Megan T. Stallion
is assisted by Nicki Minaj, who is also at #55 with a solo number, and Ty Dolla
$ign (Ty is short for Tyrone, his real first name; Dolla is not his actual
middle name and $ign is not on his birth certificate. I’m a Ty Dolla $ign
truther.), who is also at #100 assisting Kehlani. If you need assistance, call
Ty D. $ign.
remainder of the top ten boasts career bests for 21 Savage, Ariana Grande, Teyana
Taylor, and Vince Staples, plus the first Glenn’s Ten entry for Vampire Weekend
since 2013. Other Glenn’s Ten veterans making appearances this year include Bruce Springsteen, Liz Phair, Beck, Missy
Elliott, Morrissey, Beyoncé,
Rufus Wainwright, Smokey Robinson (yes, Smokey Robinson!), and Belle
& Sebastian. Recent favorites such as Courtney Barnett, Cardi B, Grimes,
Christine and the Queens, Robyn, Miranda Lambert, 21 Savage, BROCKHAMPTON,
First Aid Kit, Chance the Rapper, Angel Olsen, The National and Kacey Musgraves
are represented as well.
Enough blather. Here is my top 105 songs (5 by Lizzo, 100 by others,
though one of those others with an assist from Lizzo) of 2019:
Good as Hell – Lizzo
Juice – Lizzo
bad guy – Billie Eilish
Truth Hurts – Lizzo
Hot Girl Summer – Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign
WTP – Teyana Taylor
FUN. – Vince Staples
thank u, next – Ariana Grande
Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend
A Lot – 21 Savage
bury a friend – Billie Eilish
Land of the Free – the Killers
Before I Let Go – Beyoncé
Keep the Change – Mattiel
Blame It on Your Love – Charli XCX featuring Lizzo
Drogba (Joanna) – Afro B
Hot Shower – Chance the Rapper featuring MadeinTYO & DaBaby
Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
Wedding Bell Blues – Morrissey
Trip – Ella Mai
Tempo – Lizzo featuring Missy Elliott
Almeda – Solange
Melody of Love – Hot Chip
Anybody – Burna Boy
Young Republicans – Lower Dens
Motivation – Normani
Throw It Back – Missy Elliott
People – The 1975
Rylan – The National
Doin’ Time – Lana Del Rey
BOY BYE – BROCKHAMPTON
Hello Sunshine – Bruce Springsteen
Summer Girl – HAIM
Good Side – Liz Phair
Saw Lightning – Beck
Fukk Sleep – A$AP Rocky featuring FKA twigs
It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You) – The 1975
Binz – Solange
Something Keeps Calling – Raphael Saadiq featuring Rob Bacon
This Life – Vampire Weekend
wish you were gay – Billie Eilish
My Type – Saweetie
Sing Along – Sturgill Simpson
Now I’m In It – HAIM
Oh What a World – Kacey Musgraves
Lark – Angel Olsen
Sister Buddha – Belle & Sebastian
Uneventful Days – Beck
I’ve Been Waiting – Lil Peep & ILoveMakonnen featuring Fall Out Boy
Love Yourself – Sufjan Stevens
Nothing Breaks Like a Heart – Mark Ronson featuring Miley Cyrus
Drip Too Hard – Lil Baby featuring Gunna
Ibtihaj – Rapsody featuring D’Angelo & GZA
Cuz I Love You – Lizzo
Megatron – Nicki Minaj
It All Comes out in the Wash – Miranda Lambert
Sunflower – Vampire Weekend featuring Steve Lacy
Blaxploitation – Noname
Hurry on Home – Sleater-Kinney
Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen
Seventeen – Sharon Van Etten
Crazy Classic Life – Janelle Monae
Unshaken – D’Angelo
7 Rings – Ariana Grande
Way Too Pretty for Prison – Miranda Lambert with Maren Morris
Hey Brother (Do Unto Others) – The Family Daptone
Earth – Lil Dicky
Make It Better – Anderson .Paak featuring Smokey Robinson
Lo/Hi – the Black Keys
Tarantula – Beck
all the good girls go to hell – Billie Eilish
Trouble in Paradise – Rufus Wainwright
The greatest – Lana Del Rey
Ordinary Pleasure – Toro y Moi
Twerk – City Girls featuring Cardi B
Ever Again – Robyn
BLACKJACK – Aminé
Red Bull and Hennessy – Jenny Lewis
I BEEN BORN AGAIN – BROCKHAMPTON
Money – Cardi B
Brown Skin Girl – Beyoncé, SAINt JHN, WizKid and Blue Ivy
Fucking Crazy – Robert Ellis
Eye in the Wall – Perfume Genius
sad day – FKA twigs
Between the Lines – Robyn
Nothing Is Safe – clipping.
Redesigning Women – the Highwomen
Tell Me (Doko Mien) – Ibibio Sound Machine
Sofia – Clairo
With My Whole Heart – Sufjan Stevens
Go – the Black Keys
Turn the Light – Karen O and Danger Mouse
Fortune – Wye Oak
holy terrain – FKA twigs featuring Future
Young Enough – Charly Bliss
Everybody Here Hates You – Courtney Barnett
Gone – Charli XCX featuring Christine and the Queens
Everyday – Weyes Blood
Capacity – Charly Bliss
Nights Like This – Kehlani featuring Ty Dolla $ign
No Bullets Spent – Spoon
Gonna Love Me – Teyana Taylor feat. Ghostface Killa, Method Man & Raekwon
2019. I’d understand if you spent the year in your bed
curled up in the fetal position, shutting out the world, gorging on gluten.
That sounds like a splendid idea, as the year was an endless barrage of horror.
Mass shootings, human rights abuses, fires, forced family separations, suicide
bombers, extreme weather, bald-faced racism, the US government keeping children
in cages, wars, unscrupulous politicians, sexual assaults, and a Jonas Brothers
reunion. It’s enough to push someone over the edge. Coupling all that with my
personal issues of anxiety, diminishing self-confidence, uncertainty about my
future, feelings of isolation and helplessness, and a desire to spend my days
in my bed curled up in the fetal position gorging on gluten, and it’s clear I
could use a therapist.
Lizzo is 100% that shrink. She told me “You know you’re a
star, you can touch the sky. I know it’s hard but you have to try.” She advised
me to “Boss up and change your life; you can have it all, no sacrifice.” She
said “it’s time to focus on you.” She convinced me to “Keep pushing like
ay-yi-yi.” I’ll admit I don’t know how ay-yi-yi pushes, though it sounded like
good advice. “Go on, dust your shoulders off, keep it moving,” she told me at
more than one session, and I did. I said to her “Dr. Lizzo, I envy you. You’re
so smart and so cute!” You know what she said? You know what she said. “That’s
cool, baby, so is you.” That’s how she rolls.
Lizzo made my 2019 infinitely better. I sing along with her
songs and for those three or four minutes, my feelings of anxiety and low self-worth
subside and I feel good as hell.
Years ago Chris Rock had a routine about how nobody likes who they are except fat black women. Said Chris a fat black woman doesn’t care what you think. She’s getting done up and going out on Friday night. That’s Lizzo, though it must be said that being a fat black woman doesn’t inherently make one self-confident. Not seeing people who look like you represented in ads or in the arts can make someone feel there is something wrong with them. For Lizzo, add to that being broke and living in her car. Add losing her father, who encouraged her flute playing and was extremely supportive of her musical pursuits, when she was 21. Add years of releasing music that mostly went unheard, and her struggles with depression are more understandable than the self-confident star with whom we’re now familiar. The realization that she’s not going to look like the women in ads and the advice from her producer to make music for herself and not the world at large helped flip her mindset. Lizzo has been and is on the road to self-love and wants all of us to be on that road. She wants people to love the person they see in the mirror. In a culture where people are jealous of others who have more “likes” or followers, where people get dragged for expressing an opinion that not everyone shares, Lizzo tells us that we are more than okay being who we are. As she said at this year’s MTV Awards, “It’s hard to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back, am I right? So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell. Because you deserve to feel good as hell.”
If you’ve made it this far in 2019 (if you’ve made it this far in this blog post!) without being exposed to Lizzo (or having Lizzo expose herself to you), here’s a few things to know: 1) she’s a fat black woman, and none of those descriptors are negatives; 2) her album Cuz I Love You was released in April and peaked on the Billboard 200 at #4; 3) her single “Truth Hurts,” released in 2017, hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this past September; 4) her single “Good as Hell,” released in 2016, currently stands at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100; and 5) she’s my artist of the year, having spent a staggering 22 weeks at #1 on Glenn’s Ten, the only chart that really matters.
Other tidbits about Lizzo: She’s been playing the flute since sixth grade and went to the University of Houston to study classical music on a music scholarship; while she was living in Minneapolis earlier this decade, Prince invited her group GRRRL PRTY to perform at his Paisley Park compound and on his album Plectrumelectrum; she received eight Grammy Award nominations this year, more than any other artist; in 2014, Time magazine named her an artist to watch; in 2019, Time magazine named her Entertainer of the Year.
There is a Lizzo playlist at the end of this post. Check it
out, though I should note that she sometimes uses a certain word that starts
with “n” (not nectarine) and a certain word that starts with “b” (not
I heard someone say that the only reason Lizzo is so successful is because of her size. Right. Society places so much pressure on women, particularly in entertainment, to become and stay heavy. That’s why the pop chart is full of plus-size women. Nectarine, please, the broccolini has talent! She can sing. She can write. She can rap. She can twerk. She can play the flute. She can twerk and play the flute at the same time. In your face, James Galway! On top of that, she’s charming. She’s intelligent. She’s funny. She’s my therapist. She’s my cheerleader. She’s my rabbi, my role model, and my best friend. She empowers me. I’ll just come out and say it – I’m proud to be a Lizbian.
Born LaDonna Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts on the last day of 1948, Donna Summer became a worldwide superstar in the 1970s. She earned the title “The Queen of Disco,” which is accurate and limiting at the same time. Sure, she scored over two dozen top forty hits on Billboard magazine’s Disco/Dance chart; however, her voice and repertoire were not bound by genre, and she placed entries on the Rhythm & Blues and Adult Contemporary charts and has 14 US top ten pop hits to her name.
The first of those pop hits was “Love to Love You Baby,” which reached #2 in 1976. Our playlist begins before that hit, with vocals she provided for a Peter Thomas recording around the beginning of the decade.
Performing musical theater, she joined the cast of a road version of Hair, which brought her to Germany, where she performed in that country’s language. You can hear her German version of “Aquarius” on the YouTube playlist that accompanies this post. (The YouTube playlist encompasses recordings that cannot be found on Spotify at this time.)
Two other significant things happened to LaDonna Gaines in Germany: She married fellow actor Helmut Sommer, and she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Moroder and Bellotte signed her to their record label, and the trio began work on her debut album, on which her name was misspelled on the front cover, giving us Donna Summer.
Donna Summer’s debut album, Lady of the Night, produced the singles “The Hostage” and the title track, with the former going to #1 in Belgium and #2 in The Netherlands and the latter cracking the top 40 in Germany as well as being another top five single for her in The Netherlands.
Then came “Love to Love You Baby.” Initially released in The Netherlands as “Love to Love You,” the song was heard by Casablanca Records head Neil Bogart, who suggested they extend the song. The nearly seventeen-minute version was serviced to US clubs in September 1975. Record World magazine’s disco reporter Vince Aletti wrote it sounds “like nothing else I’ve heard before.” Clubgoers shared his enthusiasm, sending the song to #1 on the disco chart for four weeks beginning the month after its release.
While “Love to Love You Baby” was rocketing up the pop chart, Summer’s follow-up became her second #1 disco hit. “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It” is actually four songs: “Try Me,” “I Know,” “We Can Make It,” and “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It.” Those four songs encompassed side one of Summer’s A Love Trilogy album, with side two providing three more top ten disco hits: “Could It Be Magic” (a cover of Barry Manilow’s pop hit from the previous year), “Wasted” and “Come with Me.”
Later in 1976 came yet another album from Summer, Four Seasons of Love. Billboard listed every cut from the album as #1 on the disco chart, where they remained for six weeks. A few months later she released I Remember Yesterday, where once again, all cuts were listed in the #1 position on the disco chart. From that album came the classic “I Feel Love,” about which Brian Eno said to David Bowie “This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.” Bowie agreed.
You may think all this product in quick succession would create a glut from which the public would want a break, but the stats show the exact opposite. Summer’s “Theme from The Deep” (on the YouTube playlist) became a disco hit. “Last Dance” became a disco and pop hit. The double album Once Upon a Time went to #1 on the disco chart (again with all cuts listed). She followed this up with another double album, Live and More (which includes “MacArthur Park” and “Heaven Knows”). Then came another double album, Bad Girls, her commercial and artistic pinnacle.
An interesting piece of trivia for chart geeks: Up to this
point every Donna Summer single serviced to dance clubs hit the disco top ten,
with her spending 29 weeks at #1 on the chart between 1975 and 1979. Her first
entry to make the disco chart but miss its top ten? “Dim All the Lights,” which
peaked at #54. Go figure. You may know that song. It performed way better on
the pop and rhythm & blues charts.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider not only the quantity of material Summer released and struck gold with. Let’s also look at the quality. These are great records. (Okay, the Live part of Live and More is good, not great.) Disco was predominantly a singles medium, yet Summer cranked out albums that sustained interest throughout. Double albums at that.
A double greatest hits album wrapped up her tenure at
Casablanca Records, producing what would be her final #1 on the Disco/Dance
Club chart for 15 years, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),” a collaboration
with Barbra Streisand.
Her star cooled a bit when she released her first post-Casablanca record in 1980. Several factors contributed to this, including the (US) backlash against disco and disparaging remarks attributed to her about gay people, a core and loyal audience until that point. (In 1989 she denied making this comments, saying she would have addressed the controversy earlier but her publicist shielded her from any negative press, so she was unaware. I’m not saying I buy that; I am glad she addressed it.) Also, at the request of her new label’s head, David Geffen, she split with producers Moroder and Bellote following her 1980 album The Wanderer (actually, following that album’s follow-up, I’m a Rainbow, which was shelved until a slim-downed version’s release in 1992).
Despite the dip in popularity, she was far from over. In the
eighties she hit the pop top ten with “The Wanderer,” “Love Is In Control
(Finger on the Trigger),” “She Works Hard for the Money” and “This Time I Know
It’s for Real,” all of which also made the dance top ten. Her pop chart success
in the US ended with 1989’s “This Time I Know It’s for Real.”
While she never again hit the US pop top forty, back in the
dance clubs she returned to the apex again and again, scoring seven #1s and
three additional top tens between 1995 and her death in 2012.
The Donna Summer playlists below include her pop hits, her dance hits, the best non-singles from her studio albums, cuts from compilation albums, songs from soundtrack albums, and some of her guest appearances on other artists’ albums. It may be Labor Day weekend, but Summer never ends at Tunes du Jour!
The YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTkV-h9qkYAyB3JvP5yiWJC6Kf8Lknvc0
Around ten years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, we were trying to think of catalogue projects that may engage Prince. One of my suggestions was a two-disc set in which one disc consisted of Prince songs recorded by others and the second disc was Prince’s demo versions of songs made famous by others.
Two weeks ago Warner released on Tidal Prince’s Originals, demo versions of songs Prince
wrote that were recorded by other acts. (It hits others streaming services
tomorrow, with CD and vinyl releases coming as well.) I’m not saying Warner
took my idea without giving me credit; I’d be surprised if I were the only
person who thought of it.
Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist is the concept of the other
disc of my proposed set – songs Prince wrote or co-wrote performed by other
acts. It’s not exactly what I envisioned that disc to be, as many (MANY!!) of
the songs I would choose are not available on Spotify. There’s all the Paisley
Park material that reverted to Prince (Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Mazarati, Jill Jones,
The Family, Ingrid Chavez, etc.), as well as commercially-released covers that
for whatever reason are missing, by artists such as Foo Fighters, Robyn, Jesus
and Mary Chain, Mavis Staples, Eels, and Living Colour.
Even with those limitations, not a bad list. Enjoy!
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter declared June Black Music Month. In 2016, President Barack Obama, who recognized the month as African-American Music Appreciation Month, said the music of African-American artists helped the country “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.” Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist embodies that sentiment.
On June 28, 1969, what was supposed to be a routine raid on a gay bar by the New York City police turned violent when patrons at the Stonewall Inn fought back, thus setting off the gay liberation movement. That pivotal moment was recognized one year later with a gathering in New York’s Greenwich Village, where the Stonewall Inn is located, and Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago. The following year, Gay Pride marches sprang up in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin and Stockholm. The Pride movement grew with each passing year, and it continues to expand to this day.
Tunes du Jour celebrates 50 years of Pride with today’s playlist. Be seen. Be heard. Be proud. Celebrate. Love.