Tag Archives: Black Box

Playlist For January 9, 2020

One of these guys goes by the name AJ

While grocery shopping yesterday I was struck by an announcement that came over the loudspeaker. I can’t recall it verbatim, but it was something like “Attention shoppers: Signing up for our rewards program is the greatest thing you will do in your life.” I thought about that as I stood in front of the frozen pizzas. How sad a life that must be! I put some frozen pizzas in my cart, then asked a clerk where I can get a rewards program application. It’s too early to know if filling it out was the first step to the greatest thing in my life, but it certainly was the greatest thing to happen to me thus far in this young year.

Lots of music birthdays to celebrate today. On the playlist you’ll find music from celebrants Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Joan Baez, AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys, Sean Paul, Crystal Gayle, Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth, David Johansen (a/k/a Buster Poindexter), Bill Cowsill, Scott Walker, Haddaway, Paolo Nutini, Domenico Modugno, Vic Mizzy and Mic Murphy of The System. It’s also the birthday of Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll, but I left his music off as I’m not too familiar with it. In addition, it’s Dave Matthews’ birthday. I left his music off as I am familiar with it.

As there are so many birthdayees, each of them got only one song in the playlist, except for Bill Cowsill, because come on! Also, I should confess that although I worked at Backstreet Boys’ record label for four years and while there licensed their music at least 734 times per day, I don’t know one Backstreet Boy from another. I selected “I Want It That Way” for the playlist. Hopefully the lead vocalist on that cut is Birthday Boy AJ and not one of those other Backstreet Boys, like Justin or Donnie or Peter or Blitzen.

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Throwback Thursday – 1989

During the February 22, 1989 telecast of the Grammy Awards, Pepsi premiered a thirty-second spot that featured a new song by Madonna, “Like a Prayer.” It was the first time a major artist’s new single was used in a television commercial prior to being released to radio or record stores.

The following week, a two-minute version of the commercial aired during The Cosby Show, at the time a highly-rated program starring America’s favorite dad, Bill Cosby. The ad, part of a $5 million endorsement deal Pepsi struck with Madonna that also included tour sponsorship, featured Madonna dancing in the street, in a school hallway, and in a church.

The song’s music video premiered the following day on MTV. In the video, Madonna witnesses the murder of a white girl by white supremacists. A black man gets arrested for the killing. Madonna seeks refuge in a church, where she has a dream that includes stigmata on her hands, kissing a black saint, and dancing in front of burning crosses.

The Vatican and other religions organizations condemned the video and threatened a protest against Pepsi products. Pepsi dropped its sponsorship of Madonna, never again aired the television spot, and let Madonna keep the $5 million they paid her.

“Like a Prayer” became Madonna’s seventh #1 pop hit in the United States. It also topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, and Switzerland.

“Like a Prayer” won the Viewers Choice award at the 1989 MTV Music Video Awards, a program that incidentally was sponsored by Pepsi. In her speech, Madonna said “I would really like to thank Pepsi for causing so much controversy.”

Tunes du Jour’s playlist this Throwback Thursday spotlights the year 1989, and kicks off with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”


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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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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

“You’re gettin’ busy like a bee and that’s the troof
I got a feeling there’s a fire on the roof.”

– “Wiggle It” by 2 in a Room

The phrase “busy like a bee,” or at least a variation thereof, dates back to the 14th century, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in his The Canterbury Tales:
Ey! Goddes mercy!” sayd our Hoste tho,
Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro.
Lo, suche sleightes and subtilitees
In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve,
And from a soth ever a lie thay weyve.
And by this Marchaundes tale it proveth wel.

What on earth is he banging on about? Next time, Chaucer, use Spellcheck.

Per Wiktionary, the phrase “busy as a bee” means very active, working constantly.

The phrase is a bit of a misnomer, though. Not all bees work constantly. Take the drone. Unlike other bees, the drone does not collect nectar or pollen. The drone does not participate in the construction of the hive. Drones don’t have stingers so they are unable to cause pain to the frightened blogger who runs shrieking at the site of a bee. Per Slate.com, drones “don’t leave the hive until early afternoon, at which time they carouse around in packs, and when they get home just a few hours later, they rely on the worker bees to feed them.” Drones are assholes.

The drone exists to fertilize a queen bee. The mating takes place while the bees are in flight. Literally, they give a flying fuck. From penetration to ejaculation takes about two seconds, which to me is forty seconds shorter than sex should last. The drone dies soon after, as his penis and other much-loved body parts are ripped off during sexual intercourse. Any drones reading this, take it from me – no woman is worth that aggravation, and that’s the troof.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. This week’s party kicks off with 2 in a Room’s “Wiggle It.”


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It’s Ana Matronic’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

“A kiki is a party, for calming all your nerves
We’re spilling tea, and dishing just deserts when they deserve
And though the sun is rising, few may choose to leave”

It’s Friday and I need to dance, but you already know that.

I’ve always enjoyed going out clubbing, especially in the early nineties. Some Fridays and many Saturdays I’d go with whoever I was then dating or a good friend to The Roxy or The Limelight or Twilo (though Twilo may have come into being a few years into the nineties) or that club on Sixth Avenue around 15th Street whose name escapes me at the moment or that bar/club/fire hazard in the East Village or The Saint. In New York, the clubs didn’t close at 2 AM or 4 AM. They stayed open. There were times we wouldn’t leave until 8 or 9 the next morning. As that was breakfast time, we’d head for a diner (a “coffee shop” in the local parlance, before coffee shop meant a place like Starbucks) to eat before heading home to sleep. Watching people start their Sunday before we even finished our Saturday made me feel so alive. I’m here on this earth and taking advantage of it.

It’s been a long time since I stayed out all night. Though I cherish the memories, I can’t say I miss doing so. That may be because I haven’t hit upon a club that plays music I’d like to dance to for hours on end. The exception is Oil Can Harry’s, a dive in Studio City that hosts classic disco night on Saturdays. I love me some classic disco, and can stay there until closing if classic disco and post-disco 80s house was all that was played. For some reason, the DJ throws on Rihanna or other contemporary acts between midnight and 1. That’s my cue to leave. Nothing against Rihanna – she has many fun club songs – but it throws me off after I’ve been grooving to Donna Summer and KC & the Sunshine Band and Chic to suddenly be brought back to the 2010s.

If they didn’t call it Classic Disco Night, if they mixed up the eras and genres throughout the evening, that would be welcome. Seventies disco, eighties house, nineties alternative, aughts pop – take the best of each and mix ‘em up. I’ll leave when the sun comes up.

I’d love to DJ there. This way I can play the music that would keep me going all night.

Every Friday Tunes du Jour posts a slice of such playlists. Today’s slice kicks off with “Let’s Have a Kiki,” performed by Scissor Sisters, whose Ana Matronic turns 41 today.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Who was the first woman to be on ten #1 singles in the UK? Was it Madonna? No. Was it Dusty Springfield? No. Was it Paris Hilton? Fuck no.

The first woman to have ten #1 singles in the UK was Geri Halliwell. The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger Spice first hit #1 in 1996 with “Wannabe,” which she performed as part of her fellow proponents of Girl Power, the Spice Girls. The quintet was the first act in the UK to see their first six singles go to #1, which is why they are better than The Beatles. After “Wannabe,” they topped the UK singles chart with “Say You’ll Be There,” “2 Become 1,” the double-sided hits “Mama” and “Who Do You Think You Are,” “Spice up Your Life,” “Too Much” and “Viva Forever.” 1998 single “Stop” er, stopped at #2. Halliwell left the group in 1998. The then quartet said goodbye to Ginger with “Goodbye,” another #1 single, and the double-sided hits “Holler” and “Let Love Lead the Way,” their final #1 single to date, in 2000.

While the quartet continued to make hits, Halliwell wasn’t just sitting around in her Union Jack leotard. Her debut solo single, “Look at Me,” peaked at #2, but then came four consecutive chart-toppers: “Mi Chico Latino,” “Lift Me Up,” “Bag It Up,” and a cover of “It’s Raining Men.” Hallelujah! She is the only act in the UK to have had at least four #1s as part of a group and as a solo artist.

Some additional trivia:
– Madonna’s tenth UK #1 single,”Music,” peaked a few months after Halliwell’s tenth UK #1 single, which was #1 on this day in 2000.
– Dusty Springfield had twenty-five top 40 hits on the UK singles chart. Only one, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” went all the way to the top.
– Paris Hilton has topped the UK singles chart zero times thus far.
– The Spice Girls have their moments, but they are not better than The Beatles. C’mon!
– In the US, Halliwell has had ten fewer #1s than she had in the UK. We kick off our weekly dance party with her only US #1, Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”

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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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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Every Friday Tunes du Jour presents a dance playlist to get your weekend started on an upbeat note. This week’s party kicks off with Haddaway, who turns 50 today. That’s right – I know Haddaway’s birthday. Have a great weekend!

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It’s My Birthday And I Need To Dance!

doggies + New Edition
Every April, to coincide with Tax Day, my former Sony colleague Rich Appel creates the IRS countdown. In this case, IRS stands for It Really Shoulda, as in It Really Shoulda been a top ten hit. People vote for songs that they feel should have but didn’t make the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100. Rich collates all of the entries and comes out with the Top 100 IRS songs.

Today is my birthday. Usually on birthdays, Tunes du Jour creates a playlist around the music of the birthday boy or girl. As Friday is dance day in these parts, I decided I would take inspiration from Rich’s IRS countdown and present to you a playlist of songs that I love to dance to that didn’t crack the pop top ten. Here are fifty such IRS tracks. (Actually, fifty-one, not because that’s how old I am but because the Diana Ross entry is two songs.) It’s my birthday and I need to dance!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Lily 002
“I love to have that conflict of something sounding so sweet but actually being really quite dark.”

That quote from Lily Allen summarizes one of my favorite attributes of her music – sunny melodies coupled with not-quite-sunny lyrics, a juxtaposition that makes for some wonderfully subversive pop tunes.

The song that put her on the map, “Smile,” exemplifies this. It’s a catchy song – upbeat, major chords. Lily wrote it about an ex-boyfriend who was cheating on her. Then the ex got dumped by his new girlfriend and he called Lily to console him, which brings us to the awesome chorus: “At first when I see you cry, it makes me smile. Yeah, it makes me smile / At worse I feel bad for a while, but then I just smile. I go ahead and smile.”

“Smile” appeared on Allen’s debut album Alright, Still, released in 2006. Her follow-up album, 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You, contains another brilliant example of this style, this time aimed at a well-known public figure.

The song was initially released by Allen on her MySpace page in 2008 as “Guess Who, Batman.” The song is not about anyone connected with Batman, but rather, someone whose initials match the first letter of each word in this title. If you’re still not sure, I’ll let Lily give you a clue: “It was originally written about this fucking arsehole who used to be the President of the United States of America. His name is George W. Bush.”

She made that comment after Bush left office and after the song was released with an additional verse and a new title, “Fuck You.”

Among the things for which she takes Bush to task is his perceived homophobia: “So you say it’s not okay to be gay / Well, I think you’re just evil.”

Shortly after the second album’s release an Australia guy with the YouTube moniker steviebeebishop created a video for the song that featured members of the L, G, B and T populations and their supporters around the world lip-synching the tune. It became a phenomenon that spread to other countries, with lip-synched versions emanating from countries such as France, Croatia, New Zealand, Hungary, Mexico and Brazil.

The song was no longer specifically about Bush, but directed towards anyone who expresses anti-gay sentiments. As steviebeebishop explained when he posted his video:

theres a disgusting amount of hate on the internet (especially on youtube!) directed at minority groups (especially the LGBT community) so i was inspired to organize this collab video. i never set out to change the world. i did not make this for the gay haters to see. i wanted to make something light hearted and funny for the victims of gay hate, to teach them to brush off the hate and stand strong and confident as who they are. you’re not alone! stevie loves you 🙂

Today is Lily Allen’s 29th birthday. As Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, we’ll kick off our playlist with a remix of “Fuck You.” By the way, Lily’s third album, Sheezus, is out today.

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