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It’s Max Martin’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

As a songwriter, Max Martin has a credit on 21 number one singles on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Only Paul McCartney and John Lennon have more. He has had 60 top tens as a writer. On top of that, he has had a hand in producing a slew of hits. Some of them are good.

Today, Max Martin turns 45 years old. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our playlist consists of twenty songs Max Martin had a hand in writing and/or producing. Some of them are good.


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The Grammys Are Coming And I Need To Dance!

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Today’s playlist includes the five recordings nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Dance Recording. Those nominated recordings are:

“We’re All We Need” – Above & Beyond Featuring Zoë Johnston
“Go” – The Chemical Brothers Featuring Q-Tip
“Never Catch Me” – Flying Lotus Featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Runaway (U & I)” – Galantis
“Where Are Ü Now” – Skrillex And Diplo With Justin Bieber

The Best Dance Recording category was introduced in 1998. It hasn’t been the most accurate barometer of innovations in dance music. The nominating committee has a thing for Gloria Estefan, who was well past her prime in 1998, as she was in 1999, when she was nominated, and 2000, when she was nominated, and 2002, when she was nominated.

In 2001, the Grammy for Best Dance Recording was awarded to “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men. I admit that I love that song, but Best Dance Recording? What the fur? Other tracks nominated that year were performed by Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Eiffel 65, which suggests that 2000 was a very bad year for dance music. It was not. The fifth nominee, Moby’s “Natural Blues,” is the kind of record that should win. It sets itself apart from the other recordings in this field. Of course, one could say “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is unlike the other dance recordings of 2000, mostly because it is not a dance recording.

There are no embarrassing nominees this year in this category. Tune in Monday evening to see who wins. Actually, this may not be one of the four or so awards presented in the telecast, so you may have to find out who won online.

For now, enjoy this playlist consisting of this year’s nominees plus fifteen of the better recordings nominated in this category in past years.


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Throwback Thursday – 1999

Eminem has often been accused of being homophobic. Maybe it’s because he rapped “I’ll still be able to break a motha-fuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Maybe it’s because he rapped “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez.” And “All you lil’ faggots can suck it / No homo, but I’ma stick it to ’em like refrigerator magnets.” And “Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.” And “You fags think it’s all a game.” Anyone can see how the artist born Marshall Mathers got labeled a homophobe, even if he pretends he doesn’t see it.

So it’s ironic that in his first hit single, the song that put him on the map and into the international consciousness, the music bed is based around a sample from an openly gay singer-songwriter.

“My Name Is” became Eminem’s first single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #36. Its music is taken from a 1975 release called “I Got the…,” written and performed by Labi Siffre. Siffre, who was born in England in 1945, says he knew he was gay since age four. He met his life partner, Peter John Carver Lloyd, in 1964. They remained a couple for 49 years, until Lloyd’s death in 2013.

Before Siffre would allow Eminem to use the sample, he made the rapper change some of the words on “My Name Is.” The lyric “My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high / The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy” became “My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high / Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be 35.” The lyric “Extraterrestrial killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’” became “Extraterrestrial running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”.” Said Siffre, “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated “all versions” but at that time knew little about rap’s “clean” & “explicit” modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album.”

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour revisits some of the musical highlights of 1999, kicking off with Eminem’s “My Name Is.”


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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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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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It Really Shoulda…

Sam + Ringo
It’s that time of year when music geeks such as I think about the I.R.S. I.R.S. as in It Really Shoulda, as in it really should been a top ten hit.

Eight years ago, a colleague from my Sony Music days, Rich Appel, created the I.R.S. countdown. Music fans submitted a list of songs that didn’t make the top ten on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 but should have, in their opinion. Rich compiled the tallies to create the overall I.R.S. top 104. He’s been compiling this survey each year since.

As for why a song should have been a top ten hit, that’s left entirely up to the list-maker. On my list, I included records that are perfect or near-perfect melodically, lyrically and/or production-wise. I included songs that have withstood the test of time and are still part of the public consciousness years later. I included records that everybody thinks were top ten hits. I included tracks that would have been top ten hits except they didn’t conform to Billboard’s rules for chart placement at their time of release (e.g. they weren’t available on commercial 7-inch singles or viral video play didn’t count in metric measurements). I included singles by artists who hit the top ten with lesser songs. I focused on tracks that have pop appeal, leaving out fantastic recordings from some of my favorite acts, such as The Replacements and The Smiths – they were called “alternative” because they weren’t pop.

My list for 2015 is below, followed by a Spotify playlist of those songs. Rich asks people submitting lists to put them in order, with #1 being the record one feels should have, more than any other, been a top ten hit. Ask me to do so tomorrow and my list will likely be in a different order.

For today, here is my I.R.S. 104. After the artist name I listed how high the song charted during its initial release. If the single hit the Hot 100 at a later date, I included that information as well.

You can hear the official I.R.S. 104 tally for 2015 on Rich Appel’s radio show, That Thing, this coming weekend on RewoundRadio.com. Friday at 6PM Eastern he’ll go from #104 to around #53 and Sunday starting at 6PM Eastern he’ll pick up from where he left off and go to #1.

1. Wonderful World – Sam Cooke (#12, 1960)
2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#19, 1967)
3. River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner (#88, 1966)
4. I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield (#12, 1964)
5. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#14, 1969)
6. Cupid – Sam Cooke (#17, 1961)
7. Holiday – Madonna (#16, 1984)
8. Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder (did not chart, 1977)
9. 1999 – Prince (#44, 1982; #12, 1983; #40, 1999)
10. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (#23, 1975)
11. It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (#14, 1967)
12. Little Egypt (Ying Yang) – The Coasters (#23, 1961)
13. I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & the Family Stone (#60, 1969; #38, 1970)
14. Into the Groove – Madonna (did not chart, 1985)
15. We Will Rock You – Queen (did not chart, 1978; #52, 1992)
16. S.O.S. – Abba (#15, 1975)
17. You’ve Got a Friend – Carole King (did not chart, 1971)
18. Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave (#21, 1966)
19. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding (#25, 1967)
20. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (#11, 1964)
21. It’s a Shame – Spinners (#14, 1970)
22. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – Ike & Tina Turner (#14, 1961)
23. Under My Thumb – the Rolling Stones (did not chart, 1966)
24. Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) – Four Seasons (#13, 1966)
25. Me and Julio down by the School Yard – Paul Simon (#22, 1972)
26. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John & Yoko & the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir (did not chart, 1971)
27. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan (#21, 1978)
28. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley (#29, 1964)
29. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (#13, 1984)
30. Super Freak – Rick James (#16, 1981)
31. Mighty Love – Spinners (#20, 1974)
32. Stan – Eminem featuring Dido (#51, 2000)
33. So Far Away – Carole King (#14, 1971)
34. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love (did not chart, 1963)
35. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group (#13, 1978)
36. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (#67, 1970)
37. Candy Girl – New Edition (#46, 1983)
38. Brass in Pocket (I’m Special) – Pretenders (#14, 1980)
39. Everybody Hurts – R.E.M. (#29, 1993)
40. It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (#36, 1988)
41. Heartbreak Hotel – the Jacksons (#22, 1981)
42. Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton (#20, 1976)
43. Valerie – Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (did not chart, 2007)
44. Rock and Roll All Nite (live) – Kiss (#12, 1976)
45. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester (#36, 1979)
46. L-O-V-E (Love) – Al Green (#13, 1975)
47. It’s Raining Men – the Weather Girls (#46, 1983)
48. I’m a Slave 4 U – Britney Spears (#27, 2001)
49. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (#35, 1980)
50. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (#12, 1976)
51. Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed (#16, 1973)
52. Bring It on Home to Me – Sam Cooke (#13, 1962)
53. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2 (#33, 1984)
54. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead (#13, 1979)
55. Move Your Feet – Junior Senior (did not chart, 2003)
56. Heroes – David Bowie (did not chart, 1977)
57. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon (#21, 1978)
58. One Way or Another – Blondie (#24, 1979)
59. You Get What You Give – New Radicals (#36, 1999)
60. Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel – Tavares (#15, 1976)
61. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (#22, 1983)
62. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon (#44, 1986, #23, 1987)
63. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt (#18, 1992)
64. Young Americans – David Bowie (#28, 1975)
65. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (#31, 1965)
66. Respect Yourself – the Staple Singers (#12, 1971)
67. Moondance – Van Morrison (did not chart, 1970; #92, 1977)
68. Where’s the Love – Hanson (did not chart, 1997)
69. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder (#16, 1974)
70. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow (#62, 1982)
71. Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club (#31, 1982)
72. Beautiful Stranger – Madonna (#19, 1999)
73. Shame, Shame, Shame – Shirley (& Company) (#12, 1975)
74. The Way I Am – Eminem (#58, 2000)
75. Jungle Love – The Time (#20, 1985)
76. Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac (#12, 1982)
77. Smile – Lily Allen (#49, 2007)
78. Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk) – Parliament (#15, 1976)
79. Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert (#11, 2013)
80. Solid – Ashford & Simpson (#12, 1985)
81. Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (#36, 1980)
82. The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin (#60, 1998; #45, 1999)
83. Me, Myself and I – De La Soul (#34, 1989)
84. Bad Luck – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#15, 1975)
85. Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (did not chart, 1981)
86. Fuck You – Lily Allen (#68, 2009)
87. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service (did not chart, 2003)
88. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (movie version) – Lauryn Hill (did not chart, 1998)
89. Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) – Lloyd featuring Andre 3000 (#79, 2011)
90. Jump To It – Aretha Franklin (#24, 1982)
91. Mamma Mia – Abba (#32, 1976)
92. Space Oddity – David Bowie (did not chart, 1969; #15, 1973)
93. P Control – O{+> (Prince) (did not chart, 1995)
94. Got Your Money – Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis (#33, 1999)
95. LDN – Lily Allen (did not chart, 2007)
96. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly (#13, 1959)
97. Does Your Mother Know – Abba (#19, 1979)
98. Up in a Puff of Smoke – Polly Brown (#16, 1975)
99. Blue Limousine – Apollonia 6 (did not chart, 1984)
100. All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople (#37, 1972)
101. Fight the Power – Public Enemy (did not chart, 1989)
102. Pass That Dutch – Missy Elliott (#27, 2003)
103. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne (#21, 2003)
104. You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse (#78, 2007; #77, 2008)


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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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Make The Yuletide Gay

Today is December 24. It’s the date when people around the world celebrate Ricky Martin’s birthday. What’s the first thing you think of when someone says Ricky Martin? Gay? I thought so. Hold that thought.

Christmas Eve is tonight. Many people around the world celebrate that as well, possibly almost as many people as the number that celebrate Ricky Martin’s birthday. He’s turning 43, by the way.

Anyhoosle, I decided to combine the two celebrations. Tunes du Jour hereby presents the gayest Christmas playlist ever. Fifty songs that will bring you cheer and fabulousity and get you arrested if you listen to them in Russia.

Have a festive day!

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Ten Facts About Britney Spears’s “Toxic”

Ten Facts About Britney Spears’s “Toxic”:
• It was Britney’s fourth top ten single in the US, after “…Baby One More Time,” “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” “Oops! I Did It Again.” Four years passed between “Oops” and “Toxic.”
• It went to #1 in the UK, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Norway, Argentina, Ireland and Iceland, and went top ten in sixteen other countries.
• It won Britney her first Grammy Award, for Best Dance Recording.
• Initially the song was offered to Kylie Minogue, but she passed.
• One of its four writers is Cathy Dennis, who had hits as a singer in the late 1980s/early 90s with “Touch Me (All Night Long),” “Just Another Dream,” “Too Many Walls,” and “C’mon and Get My Love.” Dennis is a writer on Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You out of My Head,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Before Your Love” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.”
• “Toxic” was produced by the Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Advant, who also produced Spears’ “Piece of Me” and “My Prerogative.”
Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NME and The Telegraph named “Toxic” one of the best singles of the first decade of this millennium. Pitchfork ranked it at #3 on their Best Singles of 2004 list, while the Village Voice critics poll had it at #5.
• Naming it one of the best tracks of the decade, NME wrote “It’s the song that little girls dance to at discos. It’s the standard soundtrack to gay clubs and hen nights. And it basically soundtracked all fun in the last decade from the moment it was released.”
• In 2010, Britney Spears said that “Toxic” was her favorite song from her catalogue.
• In 2013, Jay-Z said that “Toxic” was his favorite song from the Britney Spears oeuvre.

Today Britney Spears celebrates her 33rd birthday. 33! Here are twenty career highlights.

More about Britney Spears here.

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In Which I Inquire With Madonna’s Office About A Pig

Winston + Madonna 2014-08-16 12.25

In the middle of last decade, when I was the VP of Licensing at Warner Music, we received a request from a toy manufacturer. They created a plush toy in which they wished to include a music chip. The plush was a pig meant to look like Madonna, circa Truth or Dare. The pig had a blond ponytail and wore a headset and a pointy bra. They wanted it to play “Like a Virgin.”

I knew Madonna wouldn’t be into this. “They made a pig that looks like you! Cool, huh?” However, I had to run it by her. At that time, Madonna was fighting with Warner. This isn’t a secret I’m revealing; it was public knowledge. I didn’t want to give her something else to complain about. “They don’t present me with all the business opportunities that come for me.”

The trick was, how do I present this license request to Madonna’s office without looking like an idiot? “Why would you send this to us? What makes you think for a second we would consider this? Moron!” Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

I figured out it’s all in the wording. I emailed Madonna’s manager. “I received a request that I doubt you will want to approve, but I want to be sure you are aware of it. It’s a plush pig designed to look like Madonna. It plays ‘Like a Virgin.’” To my surprise, instead of saying no outright, Madonna’s manager asked to see a prototype of the toy. The toy company made one prototype, which they sent to me. I didn’t want to part with it, as I was sure Madonna’s office would eventually say no to their request and then I would own the only Madonna “Like a Virgin” pig. I asked Madonna’s manager if I can swing by her office with the pig to show her. “No, but you can send it to me.”

I knew I’d never see the pig again. As expected, Madonna’s office turned down the license request. On the plus side, they were appreciative that I looped them in. It’s nice to be respected by Madonna’s team, but I really wanted that Madonna “Like a Virgin” plush pig.

Today, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Penn Ritchie turns 56 years old. Here are twenty of my favorite Madonna tracks.

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