Tag Archives: Donna Summer

Throwback Thursday – 1976 (Part II)

In October of 1975, the band Queen played for their manager, John Reid, a song they recently finished recording that they wanted to release as their next single. Reid told them the track would not get any airplay. He played it for another artist he managed, Elton John, who reportedly said “Are you mad? You’ll never get that on the radio!”

Queen stayed firm, not relenting when their record company begged them to at least edit the song down from its nearly six-minute duration.

To promote the song, the band was invited to play on England’s hugely successful Top of the Pops television program. They were unable to appear due to tour commitments, so they did something that wasn’t very common in 1975 – they filmed a videoclip. Top of the Pops aired the clip. As the song rose up the charts, the video was shown repeatedly. Soon other artists in the UK made videos for their records, which is why when MTV launched in the United States in 1981, many of the clips they aired were of UK acts.

The single, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” went to #1 in England in December of that year, where it stayed for nine weeks. It got knocked from the top spot by a song whose title consisted of a phrase used in “Bohemian Rhapsody” – ABBA’s “Mamma Mia.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit #1 again there in December of 1991, a few weeks after the death of the band’s lead singer and the song’s composer, Freddie Mercury.

Winston & queen

In the United States, the song didn’t go to #1, but it did hit the top ten in 1976 and 1992.

For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour revisits 1976 (part I can be found here), kicking off with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”


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It’s Alicia Bridges’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Alicia
“I will never do a disco album. I’d prefer to do deodorant commercials. I didn’t sing since I was ten years old so I could stand up like a moron and go ‘Getfunkynow, getfunkynow, getboogie-woogie, getfunkynow’.”
– Alicia Bridges, Sounds magazine

Alicia Bridges. You know, the lady who sang “I love the nightlife, I gotta boogie on the disco round.” She co-wrote that song as well. That record is a disco classic, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Disco chart. It crossed over to the pop chart, hitting #5, and the r&b chart, where it reached #31. It was Bridges’ only top 40 hit on any chart. Nowadays she shills for Arrid Extra Dry. Not really.

Today, Alicia Bridges turns 63 years old. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and we’ll celebrate Ms. Bridges’ birthday with a playlist she’s bound to hate, full of disco hits, kicking off with “I Love the Nightlife (Disco ‘Round).” Getboogiewoogie!

Oh, and what is a disco round?


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Throwback Thursday – 1980

Winston + Blondie
In 1979, Giorgio Moroder, famous mostly for his production work on Donna Summer records, composed the score for the film American Gigolo. He asked Stevie Nicks to sing the movie’s theme song, for which Moroder wrote the music, but she had to decline for contractual reasons. He next turned to Deborah Harry of Blondie.

Harry write the lyrics to the song that became “Call Me,” the second #1 single for her band. Of her experience with Moroder, she told Billboard “He’s very nice to work with, very easy, (but) I don’t think he has a lot of patience with people who fool around or don’t take what they do seriously. I think he’s very serious about what he does and he’s intense and he’s a perfectionist and he’s very talented, so I think that people who are less talented or less concentrated bore him quickly…you really have to pay attention.”

Said Moroder of working with Blondie, “There were always fights. I was supposed to do an album with them after that. We went to the studio, and the guitarist was fighting with the keyboard player. I called their manager and quit.”

Moroder did end up working with Deborah Harry again years later on another soundtrack song, producing “Rush Rush” from Scarface, and in 2004 remixed Blondie’s single “Good Boys.”

Tunes du Jour’s Throwback Thursday playlist this week spotlights the best of 1980, kicking off with Blondie’s “Call Me.”


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It’s Friday And We Need To Dance!

They came to dance. They came to celebrate. They came to enjoy life. They came to love.

They went to a place where they would feel comfortable. They went to a place where they would feel safe and supported. They went to a place where they could be themselves. They went to a place where they could be as gay as they truly are and wanted to be. They went to a place where they could escape the shitty world outside, with shitty jobs and shitty people with shitty views of those who are different than they are.

It was a Saturday night, and they needed to dance.

Children didn’t stop going to school, African Americans didn’t stop going to church, and we won’t stop going to clubs.

We will mourn. We will cry. We will persevere. We will win.

It’s Friday, and we need to dance. Don’t think you can stop us. Our Pulse is strong.


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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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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

“If disco had stuck around, we don’t how much less terrorism we might have in the world now.”
– Gloria Gaynor

Recently, Bono, the singer with U2, made headlines when he suggested that to fight ISIS we send comedians to entertain them, which is his stupidest idea since foisting U2’s most recent album on unsuspecting people by automatically including it in their iTunes libraries. Talk about a sneak attack!

To her credit, Gloria Gaynor didn’t go as far as suggesting we deploy KC & the Sunshine Band to the Middle East. She merely wondered aloud if more disco equals less terrorism.

She may be onto something. Case in point – I listen to a lot of disco, and I’ve never killed anyone.

Do you need more evidence? I’ve gone to many a classic disco night, and I’ve yet to witness a single beheading.

People have claimed that playing heavy metal albums backwards reveals satanic messages. You know what happens when you play a Village People album backwards? It sounds exactly the same!

To do my part in fighting terrorism, I present to you some of my favorite disco tunes of all time, with “all time” meaning the years 1975 thru 1979. To show how serious I am in this fight against evil, today’s playlist includes twenty-five songs instead of the usual twenty. You’re welcome.


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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 Earth Day And I Need To Dance!

“I remember writing ‘Earth Song’ when I was in Austria, in a hotel. And I was feeling so much pain and so much suffering of the plight of the Planet Earth. And for me, this is Earth’s Song, because I think nature is trying so hard to compensate for man’s mismanagement of the Earth. And with the ecological unbalance going on, and a lot of the problems in the environment, I think earth feels the pain, and she has wounds, and it’s about some of the joys of the planet as well. But this is my chance to pretty much let people hear the voice of the planet. And this is ‘Earth Song.’ And that’s what inspired it. And it just suddenly dropped into my lap when I was on tour in Austria.”
– Michael Jackson

Ringo + MJ
Today is Earth Day. Our weekly dance party kicks off with Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” which spent six weeks at #1 in the UK beginning in December 1995, but didn’t chart on the US Hot 100.


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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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