Tag Archives: Bonnie Tyler

Presidents Day Top 40

Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson – they’re here. This Presidents Day playlist kicks off with one of the Bushes. Kate.

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Throwback Thursday – 1983

Winston + MJ
MTV debuted on August 1, 1981. Back then it was a music video network. It positioned itself as a rock station. Most of the videos shown were of songs made by Caucasian performers, though rock-leaning black acts such as Joan Armatrading and the Bus Boys got some play.

Then came “Billie Jean.” The second single from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, “Billie Jean” was accompanied by a stylish video featuring a mesmerizing performance from Jackson. However, it wasn’t a rock song. It didn’t fit the format of rock radio stations, and it didn’t fit the format of MTV either.

But there is a big difference between radio and music television. There were plenty of radio stations and many different formats. You may not hear “Billie Jean” on the rock stations, but you could hear it on r&b stations and pop stations and dance-leaning stations. However, there was only one music television – MTV.

In his autobiography, Howling at the Moon, Walter Yetnikoff, head of CBS Records, for whom Jackson recorded (and where I worked in my first music business job), wrote “I screamed bloody murder when MTV refused to air [Jackson’s] videos. They argued that their format, white rock, excluded Michael’s music. I argued they were racist assholes – and I’d trumpet it to the world if they didn’t relent. I’ve never been more forceful or obnoxious. I’ve also never been as effective, threatening to pull all our videos. With added pressure from [Thriller producer] Quincy Jones, they caved in, and in doing so the MTV color line came crashing down.”

Jackson’s video for “Billie Jean” aired on MTV, followed just weeks later by his video for “Beat It,” a song whose guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen helped make it a hit on rock radio. These two videos made Jackson, already a superstar, a worldwide phenomenon with a humongous fan base that transcended race, age and location in a way never seen before. These two videos made MTV, a year and a half old and fairly popular in white suburban areas, a cultural institution. These two videos made the music video, then not something done for many singles, particularly those performed by artists of color, an art form and a necessary marketing tool.

Some people tuned in to MTV to see the Michael Jackson videos, and while watching the channel, discovered other acts. Some people tuned in to MTV to watch “white rock” videos, and while watching the channel, discovered Michael Jackson.

MTV went to showcase more “non-rock” videos. In 1988, they launched their hugely popular program Yo! MTV Raps, something that would have been completely unexpected just five years earlier, pre-“Billie Jean.”

While MTV deserves credit for making “Billie Jean” and Thriller successful, the person most responsible is Jackson himself. He wrote the song. He sang the song. He danced the song. Quincy Jones did not want “Billie Jean” to appear on Thriller. He didn’t like the title. He didn’t like the bassline. He felt the song’s introduction was too long. Jackson argued “But that’s the jelly!…That’s what makes me want to dance.” Jones wasn’t ready for this jelly, but Jackson stood his ground.

In May of 1983, NBC aired a tribute to Motown Records. Motown: Yesterday, Today, Forever featuring many legends who recorded for the storied label performing their classics. We saw Diana Ross, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Mary Wells, Junior Walker and then some. It was a terrific show, but the talk of the town following its airing was the performance of a song not from the Motown catalogue – Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” The iconic performance, during which Jackson brought the famous moonwalk to the world at large, pushed him that much more ahead of any other performer working in music back then.

Following “Beat It,” CBS Records released four more singles from Thriller. All seven of the singles released (the album had only nine songs!) went top ten, breaking the record of most top ten hits from a single-artist album that was set a few years earlier by…Michael Jackson, whose Off the Wall gave us four. Before Thriller, four singles for one album was considered a lot. Thriller raised the bar for blockbuster albums, and subsequent releases such as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Prince’s Purple Rain, Def Leppard’s Hysteria and Janet Jackson’s Control each produced more than four hits.

“Billie Jean” changed everything.

On this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour spotlights 1983, kicking off with Michael Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean.”

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It’s Ray Parker, Jr.’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

“Which song is better – ‘Ghostbusters’ or ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart?’”

That question was posed by a co-worker. Are you fudgetown kidding me? It’s like asking “Which movie is better – The Godfather or Paul Blart-Mall Cop 2?”

Okay. That comparison is unfair. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is far more enjoyable than Paul Blart-Mall Cop 2. I haven’t seen Paul Blart-Mall Cop 2, but I’m confident that “Total Eclipse…” is funnier. “I don’t know what to do, I’m always in the dark / We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks.” Ha! And how ‘bout dem sleigh bells?!? How many other summer hits employed sleigh bells?

So yes, I love “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” because it’s so delightfully awful. “Ghostbusters,” on the other hand, is genius. If you were called to write the theme song for a Bill Murray/Ernie Hudson feature film entitled Ghostbusters, would you turn in “Ghostbusters” or “Total Eclipse of the Heart?” Exactly!

RPJ + Winston
“Ghostbusters” is so danged catchy. A lot of people thought so. Huey Lewis thought so. Lewis accused Parker, Jr. of ripping off the Huey Lewis and the News hit “I Want a New Drug” for the melody of “Ghostbusters.” I hear a similarity, but to me it’s like “Hey, Ray – there’s a shitty song called ‘I Want a New Drug.’ Can you make it better, please?” And he did.

“I Want a New Drug” isn’t even fun bad. “I want a new drug – one that won’t make me sick / One that won’t make me crash my car, or make me feel three feet thick.” Really? Did someone misplace their rhyming dictionary?

“Ghostbusters” has no clumsy lyrics. It’s all very efficient. “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I think you better call. Ghostbusters! Ha ha. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I can’t hear you. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Louder! Ghostbusters! Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Who can you call? Ghostbusters! Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Ha ha ha. Uh, it likes the girls, too. Ghostbusters!” Then fade, way too soon if you ask me.

“Ghostbusters” was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song, but it lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” a far shittier song than “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “I Want a New Drug.” I’m not going to quote any lyrics from “I Just Called…,” as I’m pissed off that someone wrote and recorded that atrocity and then Motown stuck Stevie Wonder’s name on it. There’s no way the man who wrote “Maybe Your Baby” also wrote “I Just Called….” By the way, who plays guitar on Stevie Wonder’s “Maybe Your Baby?” Ray Parker, Jr.

Today is Ray Parker, Jr.’s 61st birthday. His hits, solo and with his band Raydio, include “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do),” “Jack and Jill,” “You Can’t Change That” and “The Other Woman.” He also wrote or co-wrote hits for Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and New Edition and has appeared on records by Aretha Franklin, The Carpenters, Barry White, Bill Withers, Deniece Williams, yes I said The Carpenters, The Temptations, Spinners, Boz Scaggs, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Tina Turner, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Cheryl Lynn, LaToya Jackson and Jack Wagner. Jack Wagner. Hey, Jack Wagner – who you gonna call? Ray Parker, Jr.

Our weekly dance party kicks off with Parker, Jr.’s most beloved song, “Ghostbusters.” Try dancing to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” You can’t! Another point for “Ghostbusters.” (Let’s not discuss Nicki French’s hi-NRG remake of “Eclipse” at this time.)

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Giorgio By Moroder

“What the hell is this, Giorgio?”

That is what Donna Summer asked Giorgio Moroder, the producer who brought her to international fame with the track “Love to Love You Baby,” upon hearing a song Moroder intended for her 1977 album I Remember Yesterday. The album’s concept was to combine modern sounds with sounds reminiscent of past musical eras. The title track opens the album with a 1920s feel, which is followed by a fifties throwback and a sixties throwback. The song that perplexed Donna was intended to signify the future.

The synthesizer-based futuristic track was the b-side of the album’s first single, a ballad entitled “Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over).” Releasing a ballad as the first single for the Disco Queen’s new album was a strange move. The song failed to make the pop charts, though it did the top twenty of the r&b chart, Summer’s first single to do so since “Love to Love You Baby.”

In some foreign markets, the synth track was the single’s A-side. It made noise, ultimately topping the charts in the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Australia, Italy, Belgium, and Austria. It reached #3 in Germany, where David Bowie was recording with produce Brian Eno. Bowie remembered Eno running into the studio with a copy of the song. Eno played it for Bowie, who recalled him saying “’This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.’ Which was more or less right.”

In the U.S. this B-side became the A-side, and reached #6 on the pop chart. Rolling Stone magazine included the track, entitled “I Feel Love,” on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Today, Giorgio Moroder, who has four Grammy Awards and three Academy Awards to his credit, turns 75 years old. He has a new album, Déjà Vu, featuring guest vocalists such as Britney Spears (on a cover of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”), Kylie Minogue, Sia, Kelis, and Charli XCX, due to be released this June. Here are twenty career highlights.

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Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s Conversion Therapy

Much has been written about “reparative therapy,” procedures that attempt to turn gay people straight. There is a growing movement to ban the practice. But what about the reverse conversion therapy?

Leading sociologists such as Anita Bryant have long claimed that gay people recruit straight people into the homosexual lifestyle, a way of living that de-emphasizes sports, prayer and vaginas and instead focuses on appearance, hygiene and brunch. Recently de-classified documents show that there may be truth to this.

In 1984, three scientists – Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman – wanted to see if they can convert millions of heterosexual men to homosexuals. Recognizing that doing this conversion one man at a time would be a time-consuming endeavor, they came up with a way to convert large swaths of men simultaneously. They did this through music.

Their experiment was a smashing success. They produced records that turned any man listening gay and any woman listening to a “fag hag.” Their hits include Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and Bananarama’s “Venus.” Have you ever heard any of these songs? Have you ever had brunch? Coinkidink?

Professor Nicolai Баграмя́н teaches Psychological Environmental Neurological Intertwined Studies at Moscow University. His extensive research brought the effects of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s work to light. “Many factors contribute toward giving a man a homosexual disposition. An alcoholic parent, attending boarding school, listening to Kylie Minogue sing ‘The Loco-motion.’ Gurl.”

Ringo + Rick AstleyRick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” has the power to turn dogs gay.

SAW sold 40 million records. In their home country of the United Kingdom they landed over 100 top 40 singles. If you’re an American and you’ve always wondered why every British man you meet seems gay, now you know why. They are.

The trio’s scientific formula also had an effect on the acts they produced. Kylie Minogue went from Australian soap opera star to gay icon. Samantha Fox went from being a nice teenage girl whose topless photos, taken by her father, appeared in British newspapers to being one-half of a same-sex marriage. Pete Burns of Dead or Alive has yet to be an L, but he has variously been a G, B or T. Divine became more divine.

SAW produced UK top ten hits for such unforgettable performers as Hazell Dean, Princess, Phil Fearon, Pepsi & Shirlie, Sinitta, Jason Donovan, Pat & Mick, and Brother Beyond. Emboldened by their success, in 1989 the trio tried their hand at producing someone talented. The result was Donna Summer’s first US top ten single in six years, “This Time I Know It’s For Real.” America was gayer.

Their work now done, the trio split up their partnership. In 1994, Stock and Aitken reunited for one more experiment – to up the gay factor of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” This resulted in a worldwide top ten single for the inimitable Nicki French, who went on to perform at Gay Pride events around the globe.

Per Dr. Баграмя́н, during the ten years between 1984 and 1994 Stock, Aitken and Waterman are responsible for making 577.1 million men around the world gay, thus increasing the popularity of mimosas.

The pop charts have been less gay over the last twenty years, due to a variety of factors (lawsuits, government intervention, Hinder). Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Mike Stock and salutes his groundbreaking work in gay recruitment. Listen to this playlist of twenty of his records and be transformed. See you Sunday at The Abbey.

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

John “Jellybean” Benitez, along with Arthur Baker, was the pre-eminent remixer of the 1980s. If I saw his name on a 12-inch single, I knew I was going to get something good. He worked with many big names in that decade and beyond. Artists whose work he remixed include Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Donna Summer, Santana, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Afrika Bambaataa, Whitney Houston, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Sting, Bangles, A-ha, Cher, Shakira, Bonnie Tyler, The Romantics and, most famously, Madonna.

These days Jellybean deejays parties around the world and is the Executive Producer of Sirius XM’s disco/dance station, Studio 54 radio. A couple of years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, Jellybean and I were discussing a project he wanted to do. I was very into the idea and told him I was confident I could get the big names he wanted on board. We also talked about a radio show he conceived for the Sirius XM channel in which new mixes of classic dance songs were played. To help him with that show I sent him a package with some modern mixes we had done of disco classics by Chic, Ashford & Simpson and others.

He never said thank you. I sent him a follow-up email to be sure he received the package, but he didn’t reply. Oh, well. So he is lacking manners. That doesn’t affect the joy I get listening to his classic remix work. (By the by, he never got around to launching the project he wanted to do about which I was excited.)

Today is Jellybean’s 57th birthday. Many of his mixes are not on Spotify, so today’s dance playlist consists of some of his mixes that are, of Madonna, David Bowie, Irene Cara, The Pointer Sisters, Shalamar and Whitney Houston, alongside other records I love to dance to.

You’re welcome.

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In Which A Group Of Multi-Millionaires Sings Of Wishing They Had A Little Money

I didn’t get the film Muriel’s Wedding. Not as in I didn’t get the Blu-Ray of this movie for Hanukkah. I don’t even own a Blu-Ray player. No, I mean I didn’t understand it. Or rather, I didn’t buy it. Muriel, the ugly duckling girl who is mocked and abused, ends up marrying a beautiful South African swimmer and then splits up with him because of some self-esteem bullshit. WHAT? For fuck’s sake, Muriel! The man has beautiful eyes, a great body and doesn’t beat you. What more could you want? If this means I’m shallow and superficial then I don’t want to be right. She says to him “I don’t love you” and he replies “I don’t love you either but I think I could like having you around.” He’s so sweet! I dream of the day someone says something so romantic to me! Someone attractive, that is. Oh, um, SPOILER ALERT. I should have said that a few sentences ago. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and plan to (which you should, just to see what Muriel walked away from) then forget what you just read.

daniel lapaineThis is what Muriel left. This. THIS! It stretches all credibility.

Muriel’s Wedding had its good points: a) David (Muriel’s husband), b) it introduced us to Toni Collette as Muriel, c) it introduced us to Rachel Griffiths, and d) along with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, it brought ABBA back into the public consciousness.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of ABBA’s Benny Andersson who, along with the group’s Björn Ulvaeus, co-wrote and co-produced most of their hits.

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