Michael Jackson was born sixty years ago today. Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of one of the greatest artists of our lifetime with sixty of his finest.
Tag Archives: Janet Jackson
This playlist consists of twenty songs, most performed by artists who fall somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella, with a few straight allies whose songs have queer lyrical content. Artists include Green Day, Janet Jackson and Weezer.
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One of 1987’s most popular and critically-acclaimed hits began its life as a demo recording named after the duo who sang “It’s Raining Men.”
It’s by the band U2, who referred to the track as “The Weather Girls” or “Under the Weather.” Their guitarist, The Edge, told Rolling Stone magazine that the song sounded like a reggae band’s version of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” Over time they developed the song. Instruments were added to the initial drum pattern. When it came time to come up with lyrics, The Edge gave singer Bono a piece of paper on which he had written a phrase that came to him earlier that day – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
That became the song’s title, with lyrics inspired by the gospel music Bono was listening to at the time. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was U2’s second consecutive #1 single, following “With or Without You,” which was included on part 1 of Tunes du Jour’s Throwback Thursday – 1987 playlist.
Here are twenty of 1987’s best, kicking off not with The Weather Girls, but with U2.
July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Seriously. I didn’t make that up.
The fact that we need a National Cell Phone Courtesy Month says a lot about our country. Cell phones are ubiquitous. People are self-centered sphincters. You need to be courteous for only one month per year.
We use cell phones to text people we don’t feel like talking to. We use them to show the world what food looks like. We use them to film police officers murdering unarmed black citizens. Sometimes we use them as phones. Naomi Campbell has been known to use hers as a weapon.
Here are some cell phone courtesy tips:
Don’t use your cell phone during business meetings! Those meetings are set by executives who need their egos stroked by having people gather in a room to hear them bloviate and accomplish nothing. How can they adequately waste your time if you’re getting things done on your cell phone? That’s cheating. Put the phone away, unless you’re one of the senior execs who need the ego stroking. Then by all means check your phone while people sit in the conference room waiting for the meeting to be over. They already think you’re rude, so why not take that as far as you can? Sphincter!
Reply to your text messages promptly! Don’t keep someone in suspense who needs to know what you think of their alleged witticism. Send an emoji. They’ll probably then respond with a different emoji, meaning you’ll have to answer that as well. Next thing you know, the whole day is shot, you got nothing done, but the insecure person who initiated the text conversation feels a little bit better about themselves, so it’s all worth it. If you’re at a meeting when a text message comes in, don’t respond right away! Wait until the egomaniacal sphincter who called the meeting isn’t looking at you, which will be most of the meeting as his only concern is the sound of his own voice. Hold your phone under the table and reply. That works every time.
Don’t use your phone while on a date! That is so rude! Someone is taking the time to get to know you and try to enjoy a meal with you. Not paying attention to them demonstrates your complete lack of manners. There are exceptions to this rule. If the person bores you to tears, text your best friend and tell him to call you with a made-up emergency. If your best friend doesn’t reply promptly (rude!) and your date is droning on and on about how “all lives matter” or how great the band Chicago is, break the monotony of his or her blather by photographing your food and showing the pic to your date. He or she will be astonished at how much the food in the photo looks like the food on the table in front of him or her, and for a moment, will cease his or her otherwise endless babble. If that doesn’t work, just run out of the restaurant. What do you care? You have no intention of seeing him/her again anyway. Don’t forget to block them on your phone so they can’t text or call you again.
Set your phone to silent or vibrate while in a movie theater, a Broadway show, or a house of worship on your wedding day. Do the same thing if you die. It’s so awkward to be at a funeral and hear “Thong Song” emanate from the deceased. Mourners won’t know if it’s okay to laugh, and that song will be stuck in everyone’s head for the rest of the day, just like it will be stuck in yours for the next few hours. That thong-th-thong-thong-thong.
Don’t be staring at your cellular device while walking on a crowded sidewalk or while in a shopping mall with a large fountain. I take that back. Stare at it in the mall. I can never get enough of that video of that woman who fell into the mall fountain while staring at her device. Remember her? Then she sued the mall! LOL! If you see someone at the mall who is so busy staring at their device that they’re about to fall into the fountain, PLEASE, take out your phone and film it! Post it on the Internet. Humiliate them so they learn proper cell phone etiquette, but only do so if it is July.
I hope these tips help you avoid being a complete sphincter while out in public.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our weekly dance party kicks off with the Lady Gaga/Beyoncé collaboration, “Telephone.”
On the fourth of July in 1776, the Declaration of Independence, in which the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, was adopted.
None of the songs in today’s playlist address the events of 1776 directly. However, the song selection is inspired by our 4th of July holiday.
Besides being great songs on their own, the collection represents one of the great things about the United States – its diversity. Long considered a melting pot where people of different backgrounds and beliefs could come to achieve their dreams and goals, the U.S. of A. is powerful and innovative as a result of this blend of people. Today’s playlist represents this diversity with a blend of genres – rock, funk, pop, Broadway, new wave, soul, and then some. Despite our differences, we are one nation, under a groove, with liberty and justice for all.
Whether or not you celebrate Independence Day, enjoy this Fourth of July-inspired playlist.
Randy Badazz Alpert received many requests to license “Rise,” a song he co-wrote that became a #1 hit for his uncle Herb in 1979, as a sample in hip hop tracks. He said no to Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice, Eazy-E, and the others who requested permission. However, when he received a cassette from the producer then known as Puff Daddy of a new song utilizing the sample, he consented. He loved the new tune and felt it could make his song go to #1 again.
He was right. The new recording was “Hypnotize” and it was performed by the Notorious B.I.G. “Hypnotize” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1997, less than two months after the rapper was killed in Los Angeles.
This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1997, kicking off with The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which uses a sample from a songwriter whose middle name really is Badazz.
By 1986, Aerosmith appeared to have had their best years behind them. Sales of their releases that decade lagged significantly behind their hits in the 1970s, and the group’s members were struggling with drug addictions.
They did have fans, though. One was music producer Rick Rubin. He was working with rap group Run-D.M.C., who were known in hip hop circles and with music critics for incorporating rock guitars and beats in their boastful raps, such as “Rock Box” and “King of Rock.”
Rubin suggested Run-D.M.C. do a remake of Aerosmith’s 1977 hit “Walk This Way,” but the rappers had no interest in doing a cover. However, the group’s DJ, Jam Master Jay, was open to the idea, and Rubin called Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to come into the studio. Perry was familiar with the rappers, as his stepson was a fan. Jam Master Jay convinced Run and D.M.C. to give the remake a shot, seeing as Tyler and Perry were in the studio with Rubin.
The Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith version of “Walk This Way” was not only massively successful, but highly influential as well. It became Run-D.M.C.’s first crossover hit, and the first rap track to make the top ten of Billboard’s Hit 100, peaking at #4, six notches higher than Aerosmith’s original peaked. It opened the door to future song/rap collaborations, something that continues to dominate the charts to this day, not to mention bringing “rock rap” to a wide audience.
Steven Tyler went to rehab in 1986, and the other members of Aerosmith also sought treatment for their drug addictions. On the heels of the success of the “Walk This Way” remake, Aerosmith released the Permanent Vacation album in the late summer of 1987. Its first single, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” became the group’s first hit single outside the Run-D.M.C. collaboration since 1978’s “Come Together.” They followed that single with a string of big hits over the next few years, including “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” and “Jaded.”
This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1986, kicking off with the groundbreaking “Walk This Way,” performed by Run-D.M.C. and featuring Aerosmith’s “Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
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:
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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