A Beyoncé Playlist

I was working in the international licensing department at Sony Music when Destiny’s Child released their debut album in 1998. I would field requests to include their first single, “No, No, No,” on compilation CDs. Matthew Knowles, the group’s manager and father of their usual lead singer, Beyoncé, was in favor of granting all the license requests. “I want them to become a household name” he told me. Look how far Beyoncé has come. Today’s playlist consists of my 30 favorite Beyoncé tracks. She’s had bigger hits than some of the songs included, though if I must choose, I’d choose these.

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Queer Music of the 2010s

Wrapping up Pride Month with the sixth and final installment of my Queer Music playlist series. Compare this playlist to the first one in the series and look at how far we’ve come in terms of representation and living openly. Coming up with 30 songs was challenging for the fifties/sixties program; limiting the tens program to 30 songs is tough. Much respect to all of the artists under the LGBTQ+ umbrella who didn’t make the cut. Keep on doing what you’re doing, and thank you.

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A Kanye West Playlist

My favorite artist to emerge in the 2000s is Kanye West. Not only has he released so many great tracks, he also tries new things with each release, not content to repeat himself or rest on his laurels. Unfortunately, his public shenanigans – some non-music-related, some gimmicky promotional stunts – have distracted from his talent, especially these last few years. This playlist will remind you of his merits. Big fan that I am, I hadn’t heard some of these songs in a while. It was nice to hear them again.

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Throwback Thursday: 1999

The music of 1999 shows the century coming to a close in grand style, as if to say the next year the party will be over, oops, out of time, so this year we better party. Latinx artists were crossing over to the mainstream pop chart. Cher and Santana, who first charted in the 1960s, scored the biggest hits of their careers. Artists who made their chart debuts include Eminem and Britney Spears. Pure pop exploded, though the charts made room for country, hip hop, electronica, and big beat. As one who values diversity, I loved hearing all these different genres and styles bump up against each other on the radio. Here are 30 prime examples of the music that hit in 1999.

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A Pharrell Williams Playlist

In 2001 HBO aired a Britney Spears concert around the time Jive Records released the singer’s album Britney. A few days before the first promo for the concert was to run on HBO, Jive’s head of publicity had the idea that Britney’s then-brand new single “I’m a Slave 4 U” should be used in the promo spots. The song was written (and produced) by the team of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. I was running the licensing department at Jive at that time. I went to Pharrell and Chad’s publishers, EMI, to secure the necessary permissions. It was on a Wednesday. The spot was scheduled to premier the coming Saturday. The person at EMI with whom I spoke told me the song is so new that it is not yet in their system, and therefore she couldn’t license it. “Can’t you just add it to your system? You know they’re signed to your company.” “No. You won’t be able to use the song.”

Oh, really? A song cannot be licensed simply because someone at that company can’t think outside the box and figure out a way to effect the deal before the usual ingestion process is complete? That explanation doesn’t work for me. EMI will forego a license fee if the song isn’t used, which is fine, as their employee is the one not allowing it. Also, standing to forego revenue? Pharrell and Chad, who rely on EMI to make the deals for their music so they can get paid.

I called the Jive executive who paired Pharrell and Chad with Britney and told him EMI’s stance. He called Pharrell and/or Chad. Pharrell and/or Chad called EMI. On Thursday I got EMI’s approval to proceed. Don’t tell me something can’t be done.

Producer/Songwriter/NERD Pharrell Williams turns 47 today. In his honor I present to you this playlist of thirty songs Pharrell, often with Chad Hugo, had a hand in writing and/or producing and/or performing. You may be surprised at how many of these you know.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (3-6-21)

Inspired by the March 6 birthdays of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Tyler the Creator, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Bubba Sparxxx, Betty Boo, Beanie Sigel, Lou Costello, Kiki Dee, Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick and The Blasters’ Phil Alvin.

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