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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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Top Songs Of 2016

Herewith, my top 99 tracks of 2016 (playlist below the written list):
1. “Sorry” – Beyoncé
2. “Happy” – Mitski
3. “Wasn’t My Fault” – Christie and the Dream Beats
4. “WTF (Where They From)” – Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell
5. “Starboy” – The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk
6. “Hold Up” – Beyoncé
7. “Tilted” – Christine and the Queens
8. “Lazarus” – David Bowie
9. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Justin Timberlake
10. “The Community of Hope” – PJ Harvey
11. “Broccoli” – D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty
12. “No Problem” – Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
13. “Formation” – Beyoncé
14. “Sister” – Angel Olsen
15. “On My Heart” – School of Seven Bells
16. “Augustine” – Blood Orange
17. “The Wheel” – PJ Harvey
18. “Here” – Alessia Cara
19. “Kill v. Maim” – Grimes
20. “The Pop Kids” – Pet Shop Boys
21. “Wow” – Beck
22. “Nikes” – Frank Ocean
23. “Lipslap” – Kero Kero Bonito
24. “California” – Grimes
25. “T5” – Swet Shop Boys
26. “Work from Home” – Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign
27. “Gardenia” – Iggy Pop
28. “Player” – Tinashe featuring Chris Brown
29. “Flesh Without Blood” – Grimes
30. “Frankie Sinatra” – the Avalanches
31. “Floridada – Animal Collective
32. “When We Were Young” – Adele
33. “Borders” – M.I.A.
34. “Wide Open” – the Chemical Brothers featuring Beck
35. “Highway Vagabond” – Miranda Lambert
36. “Boy Problems” – Carly Rae Jepsen
37. “I Have Been to the Mountain” – Kevin Morby
38. “Crisis” – Anohni
39. “Rich” – Maren Morris
40. “Hands of Time” – Margo Price
41. “Mercy” – Eric Bachmann
42. “The Big Big Beat” – Azealia Banks
43. “Too Good” – Drake featuring Rihanna
44. “Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow
45. “Straight Outta Vagina” – Pussy Riot featuring Desi Mo & Leikeli47
46. “All the Way Up” – Fat Joe featuring Remy Ma, Jay-Z & French Montana
47. “Knickers” – Jidenna
48. “Little Bit of This” – GTA featuring Vince Staples
49. “River” – Leon Bridges
50. “Radio” – Sylvan Esso
51. “Giant” – Banks & Steelz
52. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” – David Bowie
53. “Daddy Lessons” – Beyoncé featuring Dixie Chicks
54. “In Bloom” – Sturgill Simpson
55. “You Want It Darker” – Leonard Cohen
56. “Come Down” – Anderson .Paak
57. “Lake by the Ocean” – Maxwell
58. “One Dance” – Drake featuring WizKid and Kyla
59. “Life Itself” – Glass Animals
60. “Runnin’” – Pharrell Williams
61. “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars
62. “Real Love Baby” – Father John Misty
63. “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” – Adele
64. “Boyfriend” – Tegan & Sara
65. “Cranes in the Sky” – Solange
66. “Really Doe” – Danny Brown featuring Kendrick Lamar & Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt
67. “Bike Engine” – Stylo G x Jacob Plant
68. “Burn the Witch” – Radiohead
69. “I Wanna Boi” – PWR BTTM
70. “Work” – Rihanna featuring Drake
71. “Fuck Donald Trump” – YG & Nipsey Hussle
72. “Guns of Hysteria” – Annalie Prime
73. “Born Again Teen” – Lucius
74. “City Lights” – the White Stripes
75. “Somewhere in Paradise” – Chance the Rapper featuring Jeremih
76. “Sister of Pearl” – Baio
77. “U-Turn” – Tegan & Sara
78. “Shut Up Kiss Me” – Angel Olsen
79. “Moth to a Flame” – Chairlift
80. “Blackstar” – David Bowie
81. “A Burning Hill” – Mitski
82. “Pretty Pimpin’” – Kurt Vile
83. “Break” – Kero Kero Bonito
84. “In the Night” – the Weeknd
85. “Elevator Operator” – Courtney Barnett
86. “Piece of Me” – MK featuring Becky Hill
87. “Love and War” – Banks & Steelz featuring Ghostface Killah
88. “Cold Light” – Operators
89. “Vice” – Miranda Lambert
90. “Water under the Bridge” – Adele
91. “Dorothy” – Kevin Morby
92. “Say U Want Me” – Chris Farren
93. “Lifted” – CL
94. “Sound & Color” – Alabama Shakes
95. “Cash Machine” – D.R.A.M.
96. “Drone Bomb Me” – Anohni
97. “Who’s Gonna Miss Me?” – Loretta Lynn
98. “Lift Me Up” – Vince Staples
99. “Cool Out” – Matthew White and Natalie Press

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Cool New Music

Looking for some new music to check out? Here are twenty recently-released tracks that are in heavy rotation at Chez Schwartz:


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It’s Jay-Z’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Back in July of this year, Morrissey, who used to make news for his music, posted on fan site True to You that a Transportation Security Administration official at the San Francisco International Airport touched his junk (i.e. his genitals, not his recently-published novel, List of the Lost). This week, Morrissey continued the one-sided conversation, saying about the TSA “It is unlikely that ISIS would stoop so low.” ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, frequently makes the news for bombings, shooting people, beheading people, and throwing people off of buildings to their death, among other things. All horrible things, to be sure, but not as horrible as having someone touch your testicles. Morrissey for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

This week Thom Yorke of Radiohead compared YouTube to Nazis, as YouTube makes its money from the work of artists, “like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.” He asked “What’s the difference?” Hmmm…I’m stumped. What is the difference between the political party that put Jews, homosexuals, Africans, the disabled and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps and murdered eleven million of them and the Internet site that gave people the opportunity to watch and share “Gangnam Style?” You’re right, Thom. There is no difference. YouTube are monsters! Thom Yorke for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

Though Morrissey and Yorke cannot run for president of the United States of America, they remind me of someone who can and is running for president, Dr. Ben Carson. Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” He’s right! One consisted of being kidnapped from one’s home, separated from one’s family, shackled, treated as someone else’s property, being forced to work in inhumane conditions, and being abused, while the other provides Americans with health insurance. I bet you don’t know which one is which! They’re practically the same thing! Ben Carson for president! Oh, wait – he’s a fucking moron. Darn!

Until one of these geniuses becomes president, or until YouTube puts me in a camp, a TSA agent throws me off a building or Blue Shield forces me to pick their cotton, I’m going to keep on dancing. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu,” which features Jay-Z, who turns 46 today.


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I Love Kanye West Almost As Much As He Loves Himself

I recently attended a conference where I was asked to fill in a questionnaire. Amongst the questions about my favorite television program and favorite beverage, I was asked to name a person who inspires me. My answer was chocolate malt. For favorite beverage, that is. All in the Family is my favorite TV show. My inspiration? Kanye West a/k/a Yeezy a/k/a Ye a/k/a Yeezus.

I have much admiration for Mr. West. People mock his ego, but I think the world would be a better place if more people believed in themselves the way Kanye does himself.

I admire that he pursues his dreams, including those outside his music. He may not be the best fashion designer, but he goes after it instead of staying in a rapper/producer box.

I admire that he pursued the woman he believes to be the world’s most beautiful and married her.

I admire him because he says what he thinks and what he believes. I find his honesty and candor refreshing.

And then there’s the music. His body of work holds its own against any artist working today. He continually challenges himself musically. After issuing three fine albums of his rapping, he surprised us with an album of singing, and while he’s no Marvin Gaye, that album turned out to be damn good. I like that he’s equally comfortable and innovative using classic soul samples and using obscure rock samples.

Lyrically he explores love, racism, art, sex, religion, drugs, self-destruction, and redemption. He can be thought-provoking; he can be funny.

He aims high and more often than not delivers.

He has a vision and is not afraid to execute on it. He won’t settle for just okay in his pursuit of perfection.

I’ll let the man himself sum up what I admire most about him: “If everything I did failed — which it doesn’t, it actually succeeds — just the fact that I’m willing to fail is an inspiration. People are so scared to lose that they don’t even try. Like, one thing people can’t say is that I’m not trying, and not I’m not trying my hardest, and I’m not trying to do the best way I know how.” (May, 2012)

Music is better with artists who consistently aim high and try to expand their boundaries. Such creative types are what keeps me passionate about new music year after year. The way Kathie Lee needed Regis is the way I need Yeezus.

Today is Kanye West’s 38th birthday. In a career full of high points, here are twenty of my favorites.


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How Empire Changed Timbaland

After Empire creator Lee Daniels hired music producer Timbaland to be the television program’s Executive Music Producer, the Grammy Award winner sent the Academy Award nominee music to be used in the pilot episode.

As he recounted to Out.com, Daniels brought a copy of that first episode to Timbaland to show him how his music was used. Daniels was out of the room during the scene where Jamal and his boyfriend kiss. Said Daniels “I knew he was fascinated by seeing his music in the work, but he said, ‘Those guys kissing, man. Wow.’” When the music producer showed his family the pilot, he made his children leave the room during that kissing scene.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. This was the man who said “Some people listen to a song like ‘SexyBack’ and think, am I queer? Am I funny? If you are that way, you’re just that way. But if you’re a masculine man, embrace it. Have a glass of wine, put the record on and invite your girl over to get sexy.”

He has a point. When I listen to “SexyBack,” I ask “Am I queer?” That’s because Justin Timberlake doesn’t do anything for me. If I were a masculine man who drank, I’d have a girl over and get sexy for the song’s four minutes and three seconds. But I’m funny.

Per Daniels, who is openly-gay, Timbaland is singing a new tune. “[Working on this show has] changed his opinion on how he feels about gays. He said it. And I remember hanging up the phone and being very emotional after talking to him, and after him telling me that. And how he really had this epiphany. It was beautiful, and it deepened our friendship.”

That must have been some conversation. “Hi, Lee? It’s Timbaland. I’ve worked with many gay people in my twenty-five years producing music, and every one of them disgusted me with their talent and work ethic. But after seeing a fictional gay character recite scripted lines and give his, uh, male friend a quick kiss, I’ve had a change of heart. I can handle a gay person for a few scenes one hour a week, provided my kids aren’t in the room. Let’s have dinner soon. Feel free to not bring your boyfriend. Love ya (in a platonic way)!”

Today the man born Timothy Mosley turns 43 years old. There’s still time for him to continue evolving. Here are twenty tracks he produced or co-produced. WARNING: This playlist includes “SexyBack.” Be sure you’re masculine enough to listen! (Before anyone asks, his stellar work with Aaliyah is not available on Spotify.)

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

As much as I miss so many things about living in New York City, during the winter months I’m glad I moved to Los Angeles. I spent the first forty winters of my life on the east coast. I’m fine never again seeing snow or experiencing temperatures below 35 degrees.

When I was living in Manhattan I would take one week every winter to escape the city and head to the Caribbean or Mexico. I needed that time to thaw out. I didn’t take that trip the winter of 2002/2003, using my vacation fund to purchase a laptop instead. When LA-based Rhino Records called me in March 2003 to see if I’d consider moving out west to work for them, it was the fifth month of winter and I hadn’t a break. I said yes.

Growing up my parents would take us on vacations every winter. We went to the US Virgin Islands, Mexico, Puerto Rico and other warm places. We visited not-so-warm places as well. One year we went to Switzerland, where we skied down the Swiss Alps. One afternoon after we finished skiing for the day we took a walk. We heard what sounded like a loud rumble of thunder, but the sky was blue. Looking up, we saw an avalanche coming down the mountain right toward where we were. We ran for shelter in an igloo that was nearby (I have no idea why there was an igloo there), but not before I snapped some photos. Who knew when I would next see an avalanche?

avalancheAvalanche!

Similar things happened in other places I traveled with my family. I think it was on St. Thomas where we were told the evening we arrived that we had to leave our beachside bungalow and move into a room further up the hill, as a tidal wave was expected. The day we arrived in Barbados it was raining, which surprised and pleased our cab driver from the airport, who said they had been experiencing a very long drought. Fret no more, sir; the Schwartzes are here and we bring weather.

Traveling alone as an adult I didn’t have such weather-related events in the places I visited, but I more than made up for that with other misadventures. There was the time I accidentally hired a hooker to show me around Prague. There was the time in Puerto Vallarta where I signed up for a nature trek that turned out to be an orgy. There was that time in Istanbul where looking for an authentic Turkish bath I stumbled upon an underground sex club. I would have preferred a tour guide, a nature trek and a Turkish bath, but such is life.

I love to travel, but these days I’m not compelled to do so during the winter, where in LA we’ve enjoyed seventy-something degree weather the last few weeks. For those of you who are having a winter, do your best to stay warm and healthy.

To help you heat up, this week’s Tunes du Jour dance playlist features twenty-tracks from Barbados-born Rihanna. Did you know that Rihanna has had more #1 hits on the US Dance chart than any female artist save Madonna? She’s hit the top spot on that chart 21 times. This week, Madonna has her 44th #1 dance hit, “Living for Love,” so Rihanna has a way to go to overtake her. However, Rihanna can take solace in knowing that she has the #1 song in Glenn’s Ten this week, “FourFiveSeconds.”

Here are twenty Rihanna club bangers.

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Beck, Kanye and Beyoncé

“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists, to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé. Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place.” – Kanye West on the Grammy Award for Album of the Year going to Beck’s Morning Phase rather than Beyoncé’s self-titled release

“I thought she was going to win. Come on, she’s Beyoncé! You can’t please everybody, man. I still love [West] and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does.” – Beck

“I wasn’t saying Beck; I said the Grammys. Beck knows that Beyoncé should have won; you know that. Come on, man. I love Beck! But he didn’t have the Album of the Year.” – Kanye West

Kanye West, official spokesperson for the Bey Nation, gave his opinion and the Internet blew up! It was a repeat of 2009, when West announced that Taylor Swift stole the MTV Best Female Video Award that should have gone to Beyoncé. The American people were up in arms! So much vitriol was sent West-ward and his detractors found plenty of reasons to go after him the ensuing years. As the wise trophy thief said, “the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.”

Kanye’s point was about creating art and reaching new heights in one’s craft. The only intelligent responses to further this discourse, per the many comments I saw on Facebook and Twitter, are “You’re classless” and “You’re garbage.” One person who didn’t call Kanye garbage was Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the band Garbage. She called him “a complete twat.”

At least all of us can sleep better knowing that Kanye loves Beck. They are two of my favorite all-time artists for many of the same reasons. They seldom repeat themselves, making each album they release different than the previous one. Neither follows trends. Both challenge themselves. Both are masters of their craft. Both can be sincere. Both can be funny. Neither has released a bad record.

However…

Beyoncé should have gotten the Album of the Year Grammy. Her self-titled album was a revelation. Following up her uneven 4, she took a giant leap forward and strived to make something more artistic than what we were used to from her. She succeeded. The Beck record, Morning Phase, sounds beautiful, but there were no surprises. It was announced early in 2014 that Beck would be releasing a new album that was in a mellow vein. I got what I expected. It was as fine as I thought it would be, and stronger than his last couple of releases. I like Morning Phase very much, more than the other nominated Albums of the Year performed by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard Beck do before. Ironically, in Beyoncé’s quest to be more artistic, her album outsold its predecessor. Like Kanye said, she had the Album of the Year.

Enough of the Grammy voters felt otherwise and awarded Beck. That’s fine. There have been worse slights in the Grammy Album of the Year category than Beyoncé losing to Beck. What about the 1996 awards, when Beck’s Odelay lost to Celine Dion’s Falling into You? Or in 2000, when Beck’s Midnight Vultures lost to Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature? Or in 2005, when U2’s Hot to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb beat Kanye’s Late Registration and in 2004, when Ray Charles & Friends’ Genius Loves Company beat Kanye’s The College Dropout and Green Day’s American Idiot? Steely Dan, U2 and Ray Charles have released many albums deserving of Album of the Year. These weren’t them. U2 should have won 1992’s Album of the Year for Achtung Baby. They lost to Eric Clapton Unplugged. In 2007, Kanye’s Graduation and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black both lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, a record that literally nobody has ever heard. In 1980, Christopher Cross’ self-titled debut beat Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In 1966, The Beatles’ Revolver lost to Frank Sinatra’s A Man and His Music. In 2012, Mumford & Sons’ Babel beat albums by Frank Ocean, Jack White and The Black Keys. The nominees for 1984’s Album of the Year Grammy were Prince’s Purple Rain, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, and Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Four classic albums plus one by Lionel Richie. The winner? Lionel Richie! WTF on a stick?!?! In 1991 the Album of the Year Grammy didn’t go to R.E.M., nominated for Out of Time. It went to Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable…with Love. Eligible but not nominated that year? A little album called Nevermind by a band named Nirvana. Oh well, whatever. In 1982, Toto IV beat…it doesn’t matter who else was nominated. It’s Toto Fuckin’ IV, people.

It looks like Beyoncé will have to wait longer before she is in the same hallowed company as Toto.

In less contentious news this week, ISIS killed U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller, Boko Haram killed thirteen soldiers and 81 civilians in Chad, and the Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court forbade probate judges in that state to issue marriage license to same-sex couples, despite a judge’s ruling that such unions are legal and the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to issue a stay on that ruling.

Congratulations, Beck!

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Grammy Predictions

The 2014 Grammy Awards will be handed out tomorrow night. Here are my fearless predictions:

RECORD OF THE YEAR – “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Beyoncé – Beyoncé
SONG OF THE YEAR – “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
BEST NEW ARTIST – Sam Smith
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE – “All of Me” – John Legend
BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE – “A Sky Full of Stars” – Coldplay
BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM – Cheek to Cheek – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM – X – Ed Sheeran
BEST DANCE RECORDING – “F for You” – Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige
BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM – While(1<2) – Deadmau5
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE – “Fever” – The Black Keys
BEST ROCK SONG – “Blue Moon” – Beck
BEST ROCK ALBUM – Turn Blue – The Black Keys
BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM – Reflektor – Arcade Fire
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE – “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
BEST R&B SONG – “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
BEST URBAN COMTEMPORARY ALBUM – Beyoncé – Beyoncé
BEST R&B ALBUM – Give the People What They Want – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION – “The Monster” – Eminem featuring Rihanna
BEST RAP SONG – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
BEST RAP ALBUM – Oxymoron – ScHoolboy Q
BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE – “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE – “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
BEST COUNTRY SONG – “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM – Platinum – Miranda Lambert
BEST COMEDY ALBUM – Mandatory Fun – “Weird Al” Yankovic
BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA – “Let It Go” – Adele Dazeem
BEST BOXED OR SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE – The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One
BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM (NON-CLASSICAL) – Morning Phase – Beck
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR (NON-CLASSICAL) – Max Martin
BEST REMIXED RECORDING (NON-CLASSICAL) – “All of Me” (Tiesto’s Birthday Treatment Remix) – John Legend

Enjoy the show!

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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.)

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