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Cool New Music

I interrupt my interruption to bring you twenty new(ish) songs that are rocking my world these days. Let me know which ones hit you.

Regular blogging will resume at some point this year.


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Meet Oscar Nominee Anohni

In a moment I’ll introduce you to Anohni, who was nominated for an Oscar this year in the category of Best Original Song, but first I want to talk a little about Kesha, Grimes and Sam Smith.

You may have heard about Kesha’s much-publicized battle to get out of her recording agreement. She claims that Dr. Luke, the producer to whose company, Kemosabe Records, she is signed, drugged and sexually assaulted her on several occasions. As a courtroom proceeding about those allegations had not yet been tried, a New York Supreme Court justice denied Kesha’s motion for a preliminary inunction extraditing her from recording for Kemosabe.

This led to the proliferation of the hashtag #FreeKesha. A group of fans protested outside Sony Music’s headquarters, demanding that the music corporation free Kesha. Kesha isn’t signed to Sony Music, but no matter. Sony should cease distribution of Kemosabe Records, which would leave Kesha still signed to Kemosabe, but hey – it was a nice day for a good protest, and what else is there in the world to complain about? Ongoing wars? Poisoned public water supplies? Human rights violations? More important to get a pop star out of her recording agreement. #Priorities

Many public figures offered support to Kesha, among them Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Adele, Janelle Monáe, Fiona Apple, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Tegan and Sara, HAIM, Alessia Cara, Lorde, Wale, Best Coast, George Takei, Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Mariska Hargitay, Troye Sivan, Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Sara Bareilles, JoJo, Adam Lambert, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Margaret Cho, Zedd, and Jack Antonoff. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha to help with her financial needs.

Also supporting Kesha is Claire Elise Boucher, the Canadian singer-songwriter who records under the name Grimes. In response to a question from a Time Out reporter about Kesha’s legal situation, Grimes, whose “Kill v. Maim” is #3 this week in Glenn’s Ten, said the following about recording agreements: “You shouldn’t be allowed to sign a human being, regardless of what the allegations are or what anyone said or did. It’s basically like slavery.” Yes, making millions of dollars doing your dream job is basically the same as being forcibly taken from your home and forced to do a job you don’t want to do for no pay, much like Spaghetti Carbonara is basically the same thing as a nuclear missile, which is to say, both exist. (Grimes’ two most recent albums were released by the 4AD label, with whom, I assume, she is signed to a recording agreement.)

If Kesha’s allegations against Dr. Luke are true, then I hope at the very least she is let out of her agreement with Kemosabe, as being forced to aid your rapist make money is unconscionable, and that is where the slavery comparison applies.

British singer-songwriter Sam Smith may or may not know what slavery is, but he exhibited a lack of grasp on history last weekend at the Academy Awards. As he couldn’t pronounce Anohni or The Weeknd, Common announced as the winner of the Best Original Song award the easiest name to remember and pronounce, Sam Smith.

In his acceptance speech, Smith claimed to be the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin, Pedro Almodovar and the other openly gay people who have won. Maybe Smith meant to say he’s the first openly gay person to win an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2016. He says he got his information from actor Sir Ian McKellen via an interview Smith read, which is true, if you leave out the part where McKellen refers to no openly gay winners in the Acting categories.

It was pointed out to Smith that he is not the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, to which he responded “I think I’m the second openly gay person to win it,” which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin and the other openly gay people who have won less one. In the real world, Smith is not even the first openly gay person in the category of Best Original Song. When told that openly gay Howard Ashman won that category twice, Smith replied “I should know him. We should date.” Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, the year for which his title song from Beauty and the Beast won, but sure, Sam, date him. You’ll be the first openly necrophiliac to win an Oscar. #Trailblazer. I do agree with one thing Smith said. He should know of Ashman.

Which brings us to Anohni. Along with her collaborator, J. Ralph, Anohni was nominated for Best Original Song for “Manta Ray” from the film Racing Extinction. Unlike Sam Smith, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, Anohni, a transsexual woman, was not invited to perform her nominated song at the Oscar ceremony. In a year in which The Academy was taken to task for a lack of diversity among the nominees, the producers felt it was more important for the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to give a speech on the show about the importance of diversity in Hollywood than it was to allow only the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar to perform (not a Sam Smith second person, but truly the second). Besides, The Danish Girl received nominations, including one for Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne as the titular character Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender correction surgery, and who better to represent trans women at the Oscars than a heterosexual cisgender man? Also, the award show needed time for clueless Clueless actress Stacey Dash insult the .04% of viewers who know who she is. #Priorities

Here’s your chance to get to know Anohni, who previously recorded under the name Antony. Her distinctive voice will grab you and her songs will move you. Check out twenty of her best, including guest appearances on other artists’ tracks:


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Best Songs Of 2014

I don’t understand Beyoncé. She spells her name with an accent over the second e, but she pronounces her name with the accent on the second syllable. That makes no sense to me. Musically, however, I was down with Cé in 2014. She challenged herself artistically with her latest album, snuck out at the tail end of 2013, and for the most part she succeeded. Yonc places four songs in my year-end list, more than anybody else, with two of those songs in my top ten. And to think, she owes her whole career to me.

The big trend that nobody talks about is that Sweden has invaded in a big way. Tove Lo and Neneh Cherry (welcome back!) are on my year-end list, and First Aid Kit are in this week’s top ten. Three acts may not look like a big trend to you, but let’s encourage Sweden. They still have a ways to go to make up for Ace of Base. Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Norway is represented by Röyksopp, Annie and Bjarne Melgaard. Come on, Denmark and Finland – let’s step it up! Other foreign acts representing this year are Britain’s George Ezra, Katy B, Disclosure, Sam Smith, SBTRKT and alt-J; Scotland’s Paolo Nutini and Belle & Sebastian; Canada’s Mac DeMarco, Tegan & Sara and Arcade Fire; Australia’s Courtney Barnett and Sia; France’s Daft Punk, Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and Neverland’s Michael Jackson.

There’s little hip hop on my 2014 list. Very little. Two songs, both performed by Kendrick Lamar. This is the poorest showing for rap in a year-end list since the early eighties, I think. I’m too lazy to look for my old listings, but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. Was hip hop really that lame this year or am I turning into my mother?

Country music fared a little better than hip hop. Three songs, two of those performed by Miranda Lambert. The third song is “Follow Your Arrow,” performed by Kasey Musgraves, which is my #1 song of 2014. This is the first time a country song has topped my year-end list, I think. I’m too lazy to look for my old listings, but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. The song, about being true to yourself and not letting others dictate your path, resonated with me when I was at a crossroads in my professional life. Do I continue working for the man in a soul-sucking job or do I pursue my passions? I opted to follow my arrow. If I crash and burn, Musgraves will hear from my lawyer. Also, it was rad to hear a simple, catchy tune coupled with the lyrics “Kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s what you’re into.” It was radder that this song won the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year award, despite being only a modest hit on the country chart. Raddest was that two male country singers, Billy Gilman and Ty Hendon, who each have sold hundreds of thousands of records, announced that they kissed lots of boys and that’s what they’re into. I’m paraphrasing.

I now present to you my favorite songs of 2014. The list was compiled from my weekly top ten lists. I crunched the numbers and this is the result. Songs that are in Glenn’s Ten at the present time (e.g. First Aid Kit’s “Cedar Lane,” Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk!,” Perfume Genius’ “Queen”) are not included; I’ll put them on my 2015 list. Here are the 83 tracks that made my weekly top ten in 2014:

1. “Follow Your Arrow” – Kacey Musgraves
2. “Ain’t It Fun” – Paramore
3. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
4. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
5. “Do You” – Spoon
6. “Partition” – Beyoncé
7. “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
8. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
9. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” – Future Islands
10. “Beggin for Thread” – Banks
11. “Avant Gardener” – Courtney Barnett
12. “Budapest” – George Ezra
13. “Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo
14. “Gotta Get Away” – The Black Keys
15. “Love Never Felt So Good” – Michael Jackson
16. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert featuring Carrie Underwood
17. “Hundreds of Ways” – Conor Oberst
18. “Step” – Vampire Weekend featuring Danny Brown, Heems and Despot
19. “Put Your Number In My Phone” – Ariel Pink
20. “Blue Moon” – Beck
21. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
22. “i” – Kendrick Lamar
23. “5 AM” – Katy B
24. “Secrets” – Mary Lambert
25. “Cinnamon and Lesbians” – Stephen Malkmus
26. “Just One Drink” – Jack White
27. “Chandelier” – Sia
28. “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
29. “How Can You Really” – Foxygen
30. “Out of the Black” – Neneh Cherry featuring Robyn
31. “XO” – Beyoncé
32. “Wait for a Minute” – Tune-Yards
33. “Control” – Broken Bells
34. “Bored in the U.S.A.” – Father John Misty
35. “Latch” – Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
36. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
37. “All About that Bass” – Meghan Trainor
38. “I Blame Myself” – Sky Ferreira
39. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp and Robyn
40. “Birth in Reverse” – St. Vincent
41. “Prince Johnny” – St. Vincent
42. “Bother” – Les Sins
43. “Brother” – Mac DeMarco
44. “Everything Is Awesome!!” – Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island
45. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
46. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
47. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” – Kendrick Lamar
48. “Let Me Down Easy” – Paolo Nutini
49. “Talking Backwards” – Real Estate
50. “Stranger to My Happiness” – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
51. “High Hopes” – Bruce Springsteen
52. “Electric Lady” – Janelle Monae featuring Solange
53. “Crying for No Reason” – Katy B
54. “After the Disco” – Broken Bells
55. “***Flawless” – Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
56. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey
57. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
58. “Left Hand Free” – alt-J
59. “The Party Line” – Belle & Sebastian
60. “Low Key” – Tweedy
61. “Come Get It Bae” – Pharrell Williams
62. “Do What U Want” – Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly
63. “Alone in My Home” – Jack White
64. “Fever” – The Black Keys
65. “Me and Liza” – Rufus Wainwright
66. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Conor Oberst
67. “Inside Out” – Spoon
68. “Instant Crush” – Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas
69. “I Wanna Know” – Best Coast
70. “Eyes to the Wind” – The War on Drugs
71. “Forever” – Haim
72. “It Comes Back to You” – Christopher Owens
73. “Just One of the Guys” – Jenny Lewis
74. “My Own World” – Eleanor Friedberger
75. “Spit Three Times” – Neneh Cherry
76. “Lazaretto” – Jack White
77. “Russian Kiss” – Annie featuring Bjarne Melgaard
78. “Another Night” – The Men
79. “Dangerous” – Big Data featuring Joywave
80. “Gust of Wind” – Pharrell Williams
81. “A Place with No Name” – Michael Jackson
82. “Give Life Back to Music” – Daft Punk
83. “We Exist” – Arcade Fire

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Grammy Nominees Were Announced And I Need To Dance!

This year’s Grammy nominations were announced this morning. Here they are:

Record of the Year
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”
Sia – “Chandelier”
Sam Smith – “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)”
Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
Meghan Trainor – “All About That Bass”

Song of the Year
Same as Record of the Year, except instead of “Fancy” you’ve got Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”

Album of the Year
They plan on announcing the nominees in this category tonight during the A Very Grammy Christmas television special. Ariana Grande, Maroon 5 and Album of the Year nominations? Cancel your Friday night plans!

Best New Artist
Bastille
Iggy Azalea
Haim
Sam Smith
Some lady I’ve never heard of

Best Pop Vocal Album
Coldplay – Zzzzz
Miley Cyrus – Zzzzz
Ariana Grande – Zzzzz
Katy Perry – Zzzzz
Ed Sheeran – Zzzzz
Sam Smith – Zzzzz

Best Rock Album
Beck – Morning Phase
Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
U2 – Are You Fucking Kidding Me?!?!

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Jhené Aiko – How Do You Pronounce That?
Beyoncé – I’m Now The Most Nominated Woman In Grammy History, So Bow Down Bitches
Chris Brown – Undeserved
Mali Music – Who?
Pharrell Williams – Gurl!

Best Country Album
Miranda Lambert – Platinum
+ four others

Best Spoken Word Album (a/k/a Best Audiobook)
Forget the titles; look at this list of nominated performers – James Franco, John Waters, Joan Rivers, Gloria Gaynor, Elizabeth Warren and Jimmy Carter! They better present this one on the telecast! Gurl!

Best Rock Song
Paramore – “Ain’t It Fun”
Beck – “Blue Moon”
The Black Keys – “Jack White Better Not Be Nominated”
Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”
Jack White – “The Black Keys Better Not Be Nominated”

Best R&B Song
Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z – “Drunk In Love”
Usher – “I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”
Chris Brown featuring Usher and Rick Ross – “I Don’t Deserve a Nomination and I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”
Luke James featuring Rick Ross – “You Never Heard of Me and I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”
Jhené Aiko – “Though I Also Have an Accent over the Second E in My First Name I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”

Best Country Song
Miranda Lambert – “Automatic”
+ four others

Best Dance Recording
Seriously, there is a category for the best audiobook. The Grammy Awards’ tag-line is “Music’s Biggest Night.” Unless Elizabeth Warren sang her memoirs this category should not exist.

This post doesn’t cover all nominations. In total, the Grammy Awards have nominees in 12,623 categories, three of which are presented on the air. Tune in sometime in January or February to see who wins as well as a rare live television appearance from the reclusive Taylor Swift!

As for now, it’s Friday, which is dance day on Tunes du Jour. As tomorrow is Ira Gershwin’s 118th birthday, we’ll kick off this week’s dance party with Donna Summer, who by now may have dined with the famed lyricist.

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My Top 74 Songs Of 2013 – You Know You Want It!

In 2013 I found religion. I praised Yeezus. I listened to the words of Lorde. I hailed the resurrection of The Replacements. I danced apocalyptic. This year’s music fed my spirituality, though my year-end list also has sacrilege and unbelievers.

Much like I did with God, before 2013 I dismissed Robin Thicke. I never thought I’d ever see his name on my year-end song lists, let alone at #1, but “Blurred Lines” is my choice for record of the year. The song is about wannabe players hitting on a woman with awkward come-ons, though some chose to think the song celebrate sexual assaults. They coined a term for it – rapey, after Snow White’s least popular dwarf.

I never thought I’d see Daft Punk or Nile Rodgers again in Glenn’s Ten, but this year they returned on the same record. Their “Get Lucky,” which, like “Blurred Lines,” also features Pharrell Williams, is my #2 song of 2013. Daft Punk, who are French and therefore crepey, was last in Glenn’s Ten in 2001 with “Digital Love.” Nile Rodgers was in the great disco band Chic, whose hit-making days preceded the creation of Glenn’s Ten. After Chic he worked with a lot of great artists and Duran Duran. The last time he was in Glenn’s Ten was in 1990 as the co-producer of The B-52s’ “Deadbeat Club.” The Daft Punk/Nile Rodgers/Pharrell Williams combo also turn up at #8 with “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Daft Punk are also at #67 with “Doin’ It Right” and Pharrell is also at #24, assisting Azealia Banks on “ATM Jam.”

Kendrick Lamar is all over my year-end list, placing more songs on it than any other act. Besides several tracks from his terrific debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city (#3 – “Swimming Pools (Drank),” #10 – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” #39 – “Backseat Freestyle” and #44 – “Poetic Justice”), he guested on singles from Miguel (#51 – “How Many Drinks”), ScHoolboy Q (#72 – “Collard Greens”) and A$AP Rocky (#7 – “Fuckin’ Problems”). On the subject of the latter, the way A$AP talks about women is his fuckin’ problem. It’s the first time I ever purchased the so-called “clean” version of a song. The explicit version is very misogynous, though I would stop short of calling it rapey, mostly because that word is stupid (no offense to the dwarf).

While “Get Lucky” evoked the 70s disco sound, that era’s laid back Cali rock vibe was heard in Haim’s “The Wire” (#4), whose introduction sounded a lot like Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight.”

The recipient of the kiss-off that is Icona Pop’s “I Love It” (#5) is from the 70s, but she’s a 90s bitch. She’s loud. She’s angry. She’s possibly psychotic. I don’t care. I love it.

Mariah Carey has released around 75 singles during her career. I’ve enjoyed approximately none of them. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my satellite radio display to see the song I was enjoying was credited to Mariah, all the more unexpected because it was a guy singing. I prefer to think of “#Beautiful” (#36) as a Miguel track.

Like Mariah, the last time Shabba Ranks was in Glenn’s Ten was never, but he was there this year, not as an artist, but as a song title/inspiration for an A$AP Rocky/A$AP Ferg’s collaboration (#43 – “Shabba”).

Kanye West is too humble and reserved to say it, but his Yeezus is the year’s best album. It produced three Glenn’s Ten hits (#27 – “Black Skinhead,” #66 – “Blood on the Leaves” and #69 – “Bound 2”). My other favorite albums of the year are Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady (#16 – “Dance Apocalyptic,” #30 – “Q.U.E.E.N.” and #35 – “Primetime”), Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City (#13 – “Diane Young” and #68 – “Unbelievers”), Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (#21 – “San Francisco” and #42 – “No Destruction) and Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which she snuck out two weeks ago, too recent for any of its tracks to make this year’s list.

Check out the tunes and let me know if you make any discoveries.

1) “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell
2) “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
3) “Swimming Pools (Drank)” – Kendrick Lamar
4) “The Wire” – Haim
5) “I Love It” – Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
6) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake
7) “Fuckin’ Problems” – A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
8) “Lose Yourself to Dance” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
9) “Put the Gun Down” – ZZ Ward
10) “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” – Kendrick Lamar
11) “Wicked Games” – The Weeknd
12) “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
13) “Diane Young” – Vampire Weekend
14) “Royals” – Lorde
15) “Man” – Neko Case
16) “Dance Apocalyptic” – Janelle Monae
17) “Just Give Me a Reason” – P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
18) “Default” – Django Django
19) “Lightning Bolt” – Jake Bugg
20) “High School Lover” – Cayucas
21) “San Francisco” – Foxygen
22) “Lysandre” – Christopher Owens
23) “Right Action” – Franz Ferdinand
24) “ATM Jam” – Azealia Banks featuring Pharrell
25) “Hard Out Here” – Lily Allen
26) “Do You…” – Miguel
27) “Black Skinhead” – Kanye West
28) “Stare at the Sun” – Eleanor Friedberger
29) “Sacrilege” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
30) “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu
31) “Mama Told Me” – Big Boi featuring Kelly Rowland
32) “White Walls” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring ScHoolboy Q and Hollis
33) “Y.A.L.A.” – M.I.A.
34) “I’m Not Sayin’” – The Replacements
35) “Primetime” – Janelle Monae featuring Miguel
36) “#Beautiful” – Mariah Carey featuring Miguel
37) “Stompa” – Serena Ryder
38) “Bubble Butt” – Major Lazer featuring Bruno Mars, Tyga & Mystic
39) “Backseat Freestyle” – Kendrick Lamar
40) “Applause” – Lady Gaga
41) “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
42) “No Destruction” – Foxygen
43) “Shabba” – A$AP Ferg featuring A$AP Rocky
44) “Poetic Justice” – Kendrick Lamar featuring Drake
45) “Sunset” – the xx
46) “Wenu Wenu” – Omar Souleyman
47) “Change” – Churchill
48) “Hang Loose” – Alabama Shakes
49) “Dark and Stormy” – Hot Chip
50) “Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
51) “How Many Drinks” – Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar
52) “The Ceiling” – The Wild Feathers
53) “Love is Blindness” – Jack White
54) “Dream Baby Dream” – Bruce Springsteen
55) “I Won’t Be Long” – Beck
56) “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” – Ylvis
57) “Super Rich Kids” – Frank Ocean with Earl Sweatshirt
58) “Here We Go” – Christopher Owens
59) “Afterlife” – Arcade Fire
60) “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent
61) “FUCKMYLIFE666” – Against Me!
62) “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys
63) “Blowin’ Smoke” – Kacey Musgraves
64) “Don’t Swallow the Cap” – the National
65) “Perfume” – Britney Spears
66) “Blood on the Leaves” – Kanye West
67) “Doin’ It Right” – Daft Punk featuring Panda Bear
68) “Unbelievers” – Vampire Weekend
69) “Bound 2” – Kanye West
70) “Lies” – Chvrches
71) “Work Bitch” – Britney Spears
72) “Collard Greens” – ScHoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar
73) “Ain’t That the Way” – Divine Fits
74) “You’re Not the One” – Sky Ferreira


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