Tag Archives: Irene Cara

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (3-18-20)

Inspired by the March 18 birthdays of Wilson Pickett, Irene Cara, Queen Latifah, Lykke Li, the Alan Parsons Project’s Eric Woolfson, Vanessa Williams, Sutton Foster and Adam Levine.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.”


Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!
Follow me on Twitter: @TunesDuJour

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

Luther Vandross Was Here

In 1974, David Bowie hired Luther Vandross to sing background vocals and do vocal arrangements for his Young Americans album. Bowie told the then 23-year-old singer “You’re going to make it…next year is your year!”

Bowie’s timing was a little off (depending on how you define “making it”). Luther cracked the top 40 as a solo artist for the first time with “Never Too Much” in 1981. Before then, he was a much in-demand session vocalist and arranger.

Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Luther Vandross with twenty tracks on which the soul great is the lead singer, a backup singer, the arranger, the producer, the songwriter, or some combination thereof.


Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!
Follow me on Twitter:@TunesDuJour

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I knew I was in trouble when the doctor walked into the examination room, looked at me, and said “Mrs. Garcia?”

Unfortunately, I was forced to change health care plans this year. By doing so, I could not longer see the doctor I’ve been going to for the past eleven years. Of those affiliated with my new insurance provider, I selected the doctor who was closest to my home.

I went to his office today because of my eyes. My eyelids are itchy and flaky, and beneath my eyes is swollen and red. I asked him how I should treat them, and he answered “I don’t know. I’m not a dermatologist.” Per the rules of the plan, I had to see him before I could go to a specialist, which seems to me to be a silly waste of time. He took a photograph of my eyes, instructing me to close my eyes for an effective photo. I didn’t go to medical school, but I could have figured out on my own that the best way to photograph my eyelids is for me to have my eyes shut. He’ll send the photos into headquarters, who will then contact me with the name of a dermatologist I can see. Until then, all I can do is scratch my eyelids until they bleed.

On the plus side, the doctor said I’m not pregnant. That calls for a dance.

Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Neneh Cherry’s “Kisses on the Wind.”


Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!
Follow me on Twitter: @TunesDuJour

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

Giorgio By Moroder

“What the hell is this, Giorgio?”

That is what Donna Summer asked Giorgio Moroder, the producer who brought her to international fame with the track “Love to Love You Baby,” upon hearing a song Moroder intended for her 1977 album I Remember Yesterday. The album’s concept was to combine modern sounds with sounds reminiscent of past musical eras. The title track opens the album with a 1920s feel, which is followed by a fifties throwback and a sixties throwback. The song that perplexed Donna was intended to signify the future.

The synthesizer-based futuristic track was the b-side of the album’s first single, a ballad entitled “Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over).” Releasing a ballad as the first single for the Disco Queen’s new album was a strange move. The song failed to make the pop charts, though it did the top twenty of the r&b chart, Summer’s first single to do so since “Love to Love You Baby.”

In some foreign markets, the synth track was the single’s A-side. It made noise, ultimately topping the charts in the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Australia, Italy, Belgium, and Austria. It reached #3 in Germany, where David Bowie was recording with produce Brian Eno. Bowie remembered Eno running into the studio with a copy of the song. Eno played it for Bowie, who recalled him saying “’This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.’ Which was more or less right.”

In the U.S. this B-side became the A-side, and reached #6 on the pop chart. Rolling Stone magazine included the track, entitled “I Feel Love,” on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Today, Giorgio Moroder, who has four Grammy Awards and three Academy Awards to his credit, turns 75 years old. He has a new album, Déjà Vu, featuring guest vocalists such as Britney Spears (on a cover of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”), Kylie Minogue, Sia, Kelis, and Charli XCX, due to be released this June. Here are twenty career highlights.


Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!
Follow me on Facebook: @TunesDuJour

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

It’s Friday And I Need To Dance! – College Reunion Edition

Brandeis ID
On the Facebook page for my thirty-year college reunion, which is coming up this June, someone brought up the music that reminds them of our college days. Many posts followed, naming songs that remind us of shared experiences at Brandeis University in the first half of the 1980s.

That post inspired today’s playlist. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and today I present 50 songs we danced to in the Usdan Ballroom at Brandeis University between the fall of 1981 and the spring of 1985. It was a great time for popular music. These songs have stood the test of time.

Have a great weekend!

Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter: @TunesDuJour

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

Click here to follow Tunes du Jour on Facebook!
Follow me on Twitter: @TunesDuJour

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

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

John “Jellybean” Benitez, along with Arthur Baker, was the pre-eminent remixer of the 1980s. If I saw his name on a 12-inch single, I knew I was going to get something good. He worked with many big names in that decade and beyond. Artists whose work he remixed include Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Donna Summer, Santana, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Afrika Bambaataa, Whitney Houston, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Sting, Bangles, A-ha, Cher, Shakira, Bonnie Tyler, The Romantics and, most famously, Madonna.

These days Jellybean deejays parties around the world and is the Executive Producer of Sirius XM’s disco/dance station, Studio 54 radio. A couple of years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, Jellybean and I were discussing a project he wanted to do. I was very into the idea and told him I was confident I could get the big names he wanted on board. We also talked about a radio show he conceived for the Sirius XM channel in which new mixes of classic dance songs were played. To help him with that show I sent him a package with some modern mixes we had done of disco classics by Chic, Ashford & Simpson and others.

He never said thank you. I sent him a follow-up email to be sure he received the package, but he didn’t reply. Oh, well. So he is lacking manners. That doesn’t affect the joy I get listening to his classic remix work. (By the by, he never got around to launching the project he wanted to do about which I was excited.)

Today is Jellybean’s 57th birthday. Many of his mixes are not on Spotify, so today’s dance playlist consists of some of his mixes that are, of Madonna, David Bowie, Irene Cara, The Pointer Sisters, Shalamar and Whitney Houston, alongside other records I love to dance to.

You’re welcome.

Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists

It’s Olivia Newton-John’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

I celebrated my thirteenth birthday in 1976. I was your typical heterosexual teenager. My bedroom was plastered with posters of the girls I loved. Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Joan Collins, Joan Rivers, Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer. Miss Piggy. Girls, girls, girls!

Ringo + Livvy 2014-09-25 19.24I’m not going to mention that I still have the 27 O N-J posters that adorned my childhood bedroom walls. That may sound weird.

Olivia was my favorite. I had a major crush on her. I was in her fan club. I even invited her to my bar mitzvah. On her invitation I wrote “They named a country after you called Bolivia. The ‘b’ is for beautiful.”

She didn’t come.

yearbooks 2014-09-25 11.19My friends in elementary and high school were very encouraging regarding my relationship with Livvy.

In 1984, Olivia married Matt Lattanzi, a muscular dance eleven years younger than she. They met on the set of the 1980 smash film Xanadu. By chance at the newsstand I noticed that Matt was mentioned in Playgirl, a women’s magazine. It was in an article about up-and-coming actors. There was a photo of him leaning against a wall in jeans, no shirt. Nice-looking guy. Good for you, Olivia! Good for you! Out of my devotion to my favorite female singer, I bought a copy of this issue. Sure, as I had the magazine, I browsed though it a handful of times. There were some interesting articles that gave me insight into how females think. Also, I thought the guys were nice-looking, objectively speaking. I can see why girls would like the magazine.

Matt Lattanzi001It could have been me!

In 2008 Olivia performed at West Hollywood Gay Pride. I watched her along with a few hundred other guys who I’m sure also learned a lot browsing Playgirl.

Olivia 106I found many of the guys watching Livvy at Gay Pride nice-looking, objectively speaking.

Today is Olivia’s 66th birthday. We kick off this week’s dance playlist with her smash “Physical.” The song’s video featured Olivia surrounded by a bunch of men who turn out to be gay. Can you imagine?

Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!

3 Comments

Filed under playlists

It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I recently came across the following piece of advice:

We tend to beat ourselves up when we fail and fail to celebrate when we succeed. Strengthen your belief in yourself by reflecting on each decade of your life and every success you’ve experienced. You can begin as early as age five when you learned how to ride a bike. Write it all down. You’ll be inspired, motivated and amazed by your list and how and can be used to face your fear.
(from lifehack.org: 13 Tips To Face Your Fear and Enjoy the Ride)

My list includes:
Cast as the second male lead in high school production of Fiddler on the Roof
First person in my family to graduate college
Became a Vice President at Warner Music
Performed stand-up comedy – won contests, was mentioned in Backstage cover stories and secured an agent
Became a homeowner at 30
Adopted two rescue dogs (previously I had a fear of dogs)
Second place in Toastmasters humorous speech contest
Named President of ImprovMasters
Successfully sued landlord
Paid off student loans
Skied down the Swiss Alps
Learned how to ride a bike

I recommend doing this exercise. You’ll remember many things you haven’t thought about in a while or perhaps take for granted. Look at the list whenever you need a reminder of your fabulousness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Friday and I need to dance!

Like Tunes du Jour on Facebook. Click here!

Leave a Comment

Filed under playlists