Tag Archives: Culture Club

A Hint Of Mint – Volume 75: LGBTQ Music From 1982 To 1983

The British invasion of the early 80s continues! Welcome Boy George! Welcome George Michael! Welcome Morrissey (I’m claiming him as one of us; I don’t care what he has to say about it)!

This playlist consists of twenty songs, some performed by artists who fall somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella, others with queer lyrical content. Some of the acts are American.


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It’s Pete Burns’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Dead or Alive

Early in the career of the group Dead or Alive, UK music magazine Melody Maker described their lead singer Pete Burns as “a cross between Bette Midler and Jim Morrison.” Sure.

At the time Burns was sharing a home and a bed with his wife Lynne and his lover Steve. His marriage with Lynne dissolved in 2006, the year he announced his engagement to a man named Michael.

Today Burns celebrates his 57th birthday. Tunes du Jour kicks off its weekly dance party with Dead or Alive’s “Brand New Lover,” with lead vocals by the man Melody Maker called a “transvestite sex symbol.” Sure.


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It’s Curt Smith’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Tears for Fears, the duo consisting of Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith, released their debut album, The Hurting, in 1983. In their native England the album spawned three top five singles, “Mad World,” “Change” and “Pale Shelter.” In the US, their most successful single, “Change,” peaked at #73 on the Billboard Hot 100.

When it came time to do their second album, they wanted to break the US market. Needing one more song to round out the record, the duo’s producer, Chris Hughes, suggested Orzabel flesh out a song sketch he brought into the studio. Orzabel did so, and while he didn’t think much of the finished piece, Smith and Hughes thought this is the song that would change their fortunes stateside.

This song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” was the first single released in the US from Songs from the Big Chair. It went to #1. The song that was the album’s first single in much of the world, “Shout,” was the second US single from the album, and the duo’s second #1.

Ringo + T4F
Today, Curt Smith of Tears for Fears turns 55 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with a song on which Smith sings lead, Tears for Fears’ #1 breakthrough hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”


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It’s LGBT Pride Month And I Need To Dance!

Because there are millions of people who tell us we shouldn’t be who we are because it doesn’t conform to who they think we should be;

Because this “government of the people, by the people and for the people” often isn’t for all the people;

Because “All men are created equal” doesn’t include those in the LGBT populations per many politicians and their constituents;

Because our Pride parades are attended not only by LGBT peoples are their allies, but by “counter protestors” who shout hateful rhetoric through megaphones in the name of religion, as these self-proclaimed Christians have no place better to be on a Sunday morning;

Because LGBT youth represent 7% of the youth population, while LGBT homeless youth make up 40% of the homeless youth population;

Because LGB and questioning youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-LGB youth;

Because queer youth need to see there are many people like them;

Because if we don’t celebrate who we are, then we tacitly say we are not worthy of celebration and things are fine as they are, neither of which is true;

Because there is strength in numbers;

Because in many parts of the world one is killed for the suspicion of being gay or lesbian;

Because in many parts of the world it is illegal and/or dangerous to show your LGBT pride;

Because nobody should live in fear of expressing their authentic self, including the asshats who attempt to intimidate us from doing so;

Because it is empowering to be able to express one’s sexuality or gender identity in a supportive environment;

Because coming together brings about positive change;

Because while marrying someone of the opposite gender has been legal throughout US history, the right to marry someone of the same gender is coming on just one year;

Because we still have a ways to get to before we reach true equality, and we’ve come too far to stop now;

Because it’s fun!;

Because diversity should be celebrated;

Because pride is respect for yourself and you deserve respect;

Because men in Speedos;

Because despite all of the bull feces, we persevere. That is why

We still need LGBT Pride Month celebrations.

Here is your expanded soundtrack:


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

In the early 1990s a demo of a song written by four men circulated through Warner Bros. Records. Though people at the label appreciated the song’s chorus, nobody wanted to record it.

Thinking that with some work the song may be good for Cher, whose last top ten pop hit was 1989’s “Just Like Jesse James,” Warner sent the demo to London’s Metro Studio, where two additional songwriters took a stab at improving the composition. Producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling created a dance track for the revised song, which they presented to Cher. She liked it.

She recorded the song. She and her producers played with a new technology called Auto-Tune, which added a robotic sound effect to her voice. When Warner heard that, they asked that it be removed, but Cher was adamant it stay.

In October of 1998, more than a half-decade after the composition’s original incarnation, Warner released Cher’s recording of “Believe.” On March 13, 1999, the song, the first pop tune to feature Auto-Tune, became Cher’s fifth #1 single in the United States, making her, then age 52, the oldest woman to top the US charts. It was her first #1 single since “Dark Lady” in 1974, the longest span ever between #1 records. It was the biggest-selling single stateside of 1999.

The record hit #1 in the UK, where it became the best-selling single of all-time by a female artist. It also topped the charts in Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand and Ireland.

Today the woman born Cherilyn Sarkisian turns 70 years old. Our weekly dance party kicks off with “Believe.” Have a superb weekend!


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 53: Johnny, Are You…You Know

Play this mix for Johnny. If he responds to it with the enthusiasm that I do, then he is…you know. Have him contact me.


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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 Samantha Fox’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

In 1982, Carole Ann Wilken of London sent photos she took of her 16-year-old daughter wearing lingerie to the newspaper The Sunday People as part of an amateur modeling contest. The girl, Samantha, placed second. Newspaper The Sun took note of the pics and, with her parents’ permission, soon published topless photos of the teenager on page three of the paper. News. England.

Before long Samantha Fox became a household name in the United Kingdom. In 1986 she released the single “Touch Me (I Want Your Body),” which went to #1 in 17 countries. In the U.S. it peaked at #4.

Her music career graced us with four top 40 hits stateside and nine in her home country. England.

For my money, her best single is easily 1989’s “I Wanna Have Some Fun,” which hit #8 in the U.S., but only reached #63 in the U.K. It was her last solo single to chart there.

In 2009, Fox announced her engagement to her longtime girlfriend/manager, Myra Stratton. Stratton lost her battle with cancer last summer.

Ringo + Sam Fox
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 50th birthday of Samantha Fox. Our party playlist should kick off with her best track, “I Wanna Have Some Fun.” However, that track is not on Spotify. Spotify. England. Sheesh.


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It’s Irene Cara’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Irene Cara

Fame! I’m gonna live forever! Baby, remember my name!

Though she hasn’t had a hit song in more than thirty years, people still remember Irene Cara’s name. Between 1980 and 1984, she had more hit songs than the two you can name off the top of your head.

First came the song “Fame,” taken from the movie Fame, in which Cara played Coco Hernandez. “Fame,” written by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore and featuring backing vocals from Luther Vandross and Vicki Sue Robinson, hit #4, and won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. In addition, Cara’s performance in the film earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

Also vying for the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year was “Out Here on My Own,” written by Michael Gore and his sister Lesley. Also performed by Cara in the film, it became her second consecutive top 40 single.

She didn’t appear in the movie Flashdance, but her theme song, “Flashdance…What a Feeling!,” was #1 in the US for six weeks, and won Cara, one of its writers, the Oscar for Best Original Song. “What a Feeling” also won Cara the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female and a nomination for Record of the Year, which she lost to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (fair enough!). The single topped charts around the world.

Given the song’s massive success, Cara found it odd that per her record label, her royalties from sales of the record amounted to $183. In 1985, following a few more hit songs (“The Dream,” from the movie D.C. Cab, in which she played Irene Cara; “Why Me?,” and “”Breakdance”), she sued the head of that label (which had since gone under) for $10 million for breach of contract. Eight years later, a jury awarded her $1.5 million. By then, her time in the spotlight was long over. She never hit the charts again after filing her lawsuit.

Take your passion and make it happen, but make sure you have people you trust looking after your affairs.

Today, Irene Cara turns 57 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with “Flashdance…What a Feeling!”


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It’s Michael Hutchence’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

There’s a dead bird on my balcony. I don’t know the bird. I don’t know how he or she died. I raised the shades on Tuesday morning and saw the bird underneath one of the two lounge chairs I bought at Ikea ten years ago.

I don’t know what to do with the dead bird. I’d like to alert his or her family, who for all I know are keeping a vigil, hoping to see their loved one come home to roost, or whatever non-chicken birds do when they return home. More so, I’d like the dead bird off my balcony, as it makes me sad to see him or her whenever I have the shades up. Dead bird aside, I like to have the shades up.

It would be great if a huge breeze came along and blew the dead bird off of my balcony and into a neighbor’s backyard, where he or she would no longer be my problem, but that seems unlikely. We were promised that El Niño would hit Los Angeles in mid-January and wreak havoc through mid-May, also bringing about some much-needed rain to our drought-ridden state, but our hopes for miserable weather have been dashed. Yesterday was sunny and in the mid-seventies with nary a breeze in sight (in feel?), and today is a mere five degrees cooler.

If I were still living on the east coast, I’d be preparing for a huge blizzard right now, one in which dead birds are blown far away, or at the very least covered in snow, where they can’t be seen when one raises their shades. Count your blessings, east coasters. Each and every morning I’m forced to face a dead bird, and by extension my own mortality, while you get to lock yourselves up inside your tiny apartments, never to again set foot outdoors. Lucky.

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with the late Michael Hutchence, who was born on this date in 1960. I’ll tell you. Michael Hutchence was the original lead singer of INXS, and New York is expecting INXS of ten inches of snow over the next twenty-four or so hours.

If you’re in New York, or elsewhere on the east coast where blizzards are expected, stay inside and dance. If you’re on the west coast, where dead birds mysteriously show up on your balcony beneath one of the two lounge chairs you bought at Ikea ten years ago, stay inside and dance. Everyone else should stay inside and dance. Here is your Michael Hutchence-inspired Friday dance playlist.


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