Inspired by November 15 birthdays of ABBA‘s Anni-Frid Lyngstad, The Drifters’ Clyde McPhatter, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, The Trammps’ Jimmy Ellis, Little Willie John, C.W. McCall, and Soul Survivors’ Richie Ingui.
Inspired by the November 8 birthdays of Bonnie Raitt, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, Eric B., Rickie Lee Jones, Sam Sparro, Wizzard’s Roy Wood, Minnie Riperton, The Manhattans’ Gerald Alston, Leif Garrett, Khia, J.J. Jackson, Diana King, Patti Page, Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Glass Tiger’s Alan Frew.
Inspired by the May 27 birthdays of OutKast‘s Andre 3000, TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Crowded House’s Neil Finn, Siouxsie Sioux, Spoonie Gee, Ramsey Lewis, Bruce Cockburn, Detroit Emeralds’ James Mitchell, and Vincent Price.
If you’re like me, you woke up at 2:17 AM last night, wondering if any animals besides humans can dance, and then you had trouble falling back asleep. If this sounds like you, I suggest you seek therapy. If you’re in L.A., please pass on to me the name of your doctor.
I Googled “Can animals dance?”. I read about a sea lion who loves to shake it to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland.” That doesn’t prove anything. Only a corpse wouldn’t move to that song.
A neuroscientist at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California discovered that parrots and elephants can dance, but other animals cannot. He defines dance as a natural untrained reaction to music involving moving to the beat. By that definition, most humans can’t dance, either. I know. I’ve been to straight weddings.
The Week reported that scientists found that bees, cockatoos, peacock spiders, dung beetles, manikin birds and freshwater algae can dance. First off, I didn’t know algae was an animal. Secondly, doesn’t algae merely move along with the ebb and flow of the tide? By that definition, everyone’s a good dancer, even attendees at straight weddings.
Looking at dancing animals on YouTube was a depressing experience. I’m sure that sea lion at Sea World doing the “Thriller” moves would rather be in his native habitat than forced to do Michael Jackson impersonations for crowds that pay way too much money, none of which the sea lion sees. The moves probably didn’t come naturally to him. Had he been asked, I’m sure he would’ve said “No, I’m not going to be your monkey.”
Speaking of monkeys, the Daily Mail reported that bonobos like to dance to very fast music. The article was accompanied by several photos of polar bears striking Saturday Night Fever poses. Polar bears are classified as an endangered species, so I can see their concern with stayin’ alive stayin’ alive. Still, I wouldn’t confuse them for bonobos. I know a bear when I see one. I’ve been to gay weddings.
I saw a video of a cockatoo dancing to Backstreet Boys. There’s no accounting for taste, but I must admit, the moves were good. Not Michael Jackson good, but if that is the standard, then no animals can dance. By that measurement, most humans can’t dance. Most Jacksons can’t dance.
Today is the birthday of Michael Jackson’s older sisters, Rebbie and LaToya, not particularly good dancers from any video evidence I’ve seen. Rebbie had a hit song called “Centipede.” I’ve read nothing in my research about whether or not centipedes can dance, but I doubt they can, given they have fifty left feet.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. All animals are welcome to participate, whether human or centipede (though please don’t bring up The Human Centipede.)
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Jody Watley is more of a trailblazer than you may realize.
She debuted as a Soul Train dancer at 14, where she amassed many fans due to her fashion sense and her dance style, called waacking, described on her web-site as a “beat-driven cousin of voguing.” She told DiscoMusic.com that she remembers those days fondly. “The Soul Train era was a lot of fun. It’s where I received my diva training in working the camera, giving attitude and ‘working it!’ All of the gay boys on the show taught me well!”
In 1977 she became a member of the music trio Shalamar, with whom she remained until 1983. The group landed hits on the pop, r&b and dance charts with “The Second Time Around,” “Dead Giveaway,” “Make That Move,” “A Night to Remember,” “Full of Fire” and “Right in the Socket.”
In 1984 she participated in the recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” She and Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & the Gang were the only American performers in Band Aid.
Her self-titled solo debut album was released in 1986. It produced five charted singles – “Don’t You Want Me,” “”Some Kind of Lover,” “Still a Thrill,” “Most of All,” and the classic “Looking For A New Love,” which gave us the catch-phrase “Hasta la vista, baby,” later used by Tone-Loc in “Wild Thing” and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. She co-wrote all but three songs on the album, including its three top ten pop singles.
That album won Jody the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, nearly a decade after her first hit as part of Shalamar.
The music videos for “Most of All” and “Real Love,” the first single from her second solo album, were directed by David Fincher, director of the films Gone Girl, The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Zodiac and Se7en. The “Real Love” video received six MTV Video Award nominations.
The follow-up to the “Real Love” single, which hit #2, was another top ten pop hit. “Friends” was groundbreaking in that it was the first crossover hit to which a rapper, in this case Rakim, added an original verse. This formula became and remains very popular, to the extent that in 2002 the Grammy Awards added a Rap/Sung category.
That song’s music video was radical as well. In it, Jody and Rakim perform for a multicultural crowd that includes people of different races, sexual orientations and gender expressions, but not in a way that appears pandering to her base.
In 1994, Jody had a dance hit with an original song entitled “When a Man Loves a Woman.” In the UK re-edits of the song were released. “When a Man Loves a Man” was a big hit in gay clubs there. (There was also a “When a Woman Loves a Woman” mix.)
Said Jody to DiscoMusic.com, “I appreciate my gay fan base so much… I’m told they admire my individuality, style, and inner strength to persevere. I’ve also been told that my songs have helped people come out to their families or go through break ups. I’m always humbled.”
In 2004, four years before Prop 8 became a Prop, city officials in San Francisco issued about 4000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Jody Watley was there to serenade the newlyweds. (The California Supreme Court ordered the city to cease marrying same-sex partners in March 2004.)
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 56th birthday of Jody Watley by peppering our weekly dance playlist with some of her finest moments.
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There was an article on the site Gawker yesterday about a woman named Zoe Fennessy who, when she hears the music of Ne-Yo, “freezes up and begins vomiting uncontrollably.” You may say the same thing happens to you when you listen to Nickelback, but Ms. Fennessy’s reaction to Ne-Yo’s music is due to a rare medical condition called musicogenic epilepsy.
Some of you may be saying “Who’s Ne-Yo? Is he/she/they someone whose music gets played a lot?” The answer is, apparently. Since his first hit in 2006 (“So Sick,” which went to #1 on the US and UK pop charts), Ne-Yo has had 17 top forty hits on the US pop chart and a half-dozen more on the r&b chart. He has had just as many hits in the UK, where Fennessy lives.
Ne-Yo isn’t the only artist to cause seizures in people with this condition. Around ten years ago there was a report of a six-month-old who had seizures when she heard The Beatles. The Beatles! That shit ain’t right, yo. One may get a reaction from all classical music, another from the lower notes played on a brass instrument.
The reactions people with the condition have vary as well. Some have convulsions, others become incontinent, and others become incredibly sleepy.
Ms. Fennessy had part of her brain removed to try and cure the problem, but the operation was not a success. She still needs to steer clear of Ne-Yo’s music.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and if Ms. Fennessy is reading, she’ll be happy to know there is no Ne-Yo on today’s playlist, which kicks off with the Jason Nevins remix of “It’s Like That” by Run-D.M.C., whose Joseph “Run” Simmons turns 50 today.
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