Tag Archives: Eurythmics

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (3-24-20)

Inspired by the March 24 birthdays of Nick Lowe, Nena, Don Covay and Billy Stewart, and the passing of Manu Dibango.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (2-24-20)

Inspired by the February 24 birthdays of N.E.R.D.’s Chad Hugo, Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones, M People’s Mike Pickering, George Thorogood, Rupert Holmes, Plastic Bertrand and Barry Bostwick.

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Playlist For January 9, 2020

One of these guys goes by the name AJ

While grocery shopping yesterday I was struck by an announcement that came over the loudspeaker. I can’t recall it verbatim, but it was something like “Attention shoppers: Signing up for our rewards program is the greatest thing you will do in your life.” I thought about that as I stood in front of the frozen pizzas. How sad a life that must be! I put some frozen pizzas in my cart, then asked a clerk where I can get a rewards program application. It’s too early to know if filling it out was the first step to the greatest thing in my life, but it certainly was the greatest thing to happen to me thus far in this young year.

Lots of music birthdays to celebrate today. On the playlist you’ll find music from celebrants Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Joan Baez, AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys, Sean Paul, Crystal Gayle, Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth, David Johansen (a/k/a Buster Poindexter), Bill Cowsill, Scott Walker, Haddaway, Paolo Nutini, Domenico Modugno, Vic Mizzy and Mic Murphy of The System. It’s also the birthday of Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll, but I left his music off as I’m not too familiar with it. In addition, it’s Dave Matthews’ birthday. I left his music off as I am familiar with it.

As there are so many birthdayees, each of them got only one song in the playlist, except for Bill Cowsill, because come on! Also, I should confess that although I worked at Backstreet Boys’ record label for four years and while there licensed their music at least 734 times per day, I don’t know one Backstreet Boy from another. I selected “I Want It That Way” for the playlist. Hopefully the lead vocalist on that cut is Birthday Boy AJ and not one of those other Backstreet Boys, like Justin or Donnie or Peter or Blitzen.

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Aretha Franklin: 1942 – 2018


When I was 13 years old I asked my parents to get me the Aretha Franklin greatest hits album Ten Years of Gold for Hanukkah. I’d heard “Until You Come Back to Me” and “Respect” and maybe one more of her songs before then. That album started a life-long love of her music. I now have 50 Aretha albums, plus many singles. One of the highlights of my professional life was working with this woman who I idolized since my teens.

I’m very sad she has left us, but so grateful for the countless hours of joy she brought. Here is my Aretha top 40.


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The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

Today is the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States of America. You’re officially allowed to start listening to holiday music now. To get you started, I compiled a playlist of what I consider to be 100 of the best Christmas songs. Okay, 98 songs, a stand-up routine and a skit. It’s a mix of standards, versions of standards with which you may not be familiar, and obscure but delightful tunes.

Enjoy!

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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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Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Here is your soundtrack:


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100 Greatest Artists

Last week my close friend Laura forward to me a link to Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Artists” and asked for my impression.

My 100 Greatest Artists list includes many of the same acts as Rolling Stone’s list; however, there is a large handful of acts on my roll that are not on that publication’s slate.

I won’t disparage their choices (but seriously, Aerosmith at #59?). Instead, I will share with you music from twenty artists that made my roster but are not among Rolling Stone’s top 100.

Feel free to share your choice acts in the Comments section.


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It’s David Bowie’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with a track that was inspired by a song from the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. In the movie, Danny Kaye performs the Frank Loesser’s “Inchworm.” While schoolchildren sing “Two and two are four / Four and four are eight” etc., Kaye sings to the titular worm “You and your arithmetic/ You’ll probably go far,” and asking “Could it be you’d stop and see
how beautiful they are?” Singer-songwriter David Bowie told Performing Songwriter magazine “You wouldn’t believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you’d really recognize it. Something like ‘Ashes to Ashes’ wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t have been for ‘Inchworm.’ There’s a child’s nursery rhyme element in it, and there’s something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they’re so identifiable even when you’re an adult. There’s a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you’re in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me.”

Today is David Bowie’s 69th birthday. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues with this playlist of club tunes.


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Throwback Thursday – The Hits of 1984

Madonna debuted “Like a Virgin” with a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1984, weeks before the record was released. Watching her on television rolling around the floor in a wedding dress with a Boy Toy belt buckle, the song’s writers, Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, thought “We’re doomed now. This is an embarrassment. This is never going to succeed.”

“Like a Virgin” spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, her first single to top that chart.

Kelly and Steinberg didn’t meet Madonna until around five years later. At a party they saw her, and asked Steve Bray, who wrote Madonna’s hit “Into the Groove,” to introduce them.

Bray did so. “Madonna, I want you to meet Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. They wrote ‘Like a Virgin.’”

Steinberg said “Oh Madonna, I’ve wanted to meet you for so long.”

Madonna replied “Well, now you did,” and walked away.

“Like a Virgin” kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, spotlighting the hits of 1984.


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