Tunes Du Jour Presents 1997

Music in 1997 was a true reflection of the decade’s diversity and boundary-pushing spirit. From the era’s biggest mainstream pop acts to the underground scenes bubbling up, the hits of ’97 showcased an exciting range of styles and genres commingling.

On the one hand, you had the unstoppable rise of wildly popular all-female groups like the Spice Girls with their debut smash “Wannabe” and the soaring vocals of Whitney Houston on “Step by Step.” At the same time, 1997 was also the year that brought the world jarring yet brilliant alt-rock statements like Radiohead’s sci-fi epic “Paranoid Android” and the dark, literary narratives of acts like Nick Cave.

Hip-hop continued evolving in dozens of directions, from the stunning lyricism of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” to the early flashes of what would become the dominant sound of the 2000s with Missy Elliott’s groundbreaking “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).” The year’s electronic/dance highlights came in all tempos and styles, whether the gritty yet blissful big beat of The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” or the sleek Daft Punk groover “Around the World.”

While teenager pop captured the mainstream with acts like Hanson’s “MMMBop,” the alternative/indie realm gifted 1997 with timeless gems spanning rockist earnestness (Ben Folds Five), fuzz-pop dreaminess (The Cardigans’ “Lovefool”), and idiosyncratic lo-fi (Elliot Smith, Yo La Tengo). It was an era of strange but beautiful hybrids, like the trip-hop soul of Erykah Badu’s “On & On.”

Looking back at 1997’s musical landscape, you’re struck by not just the sheer quality of the output, but the vibrant plurality of styles. It was a moment when the underground and the overground were engaged in an intriguing conversation, shaping what came next.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson has long been a force in the world of popular music, carving out a distinct legacy that spans decades. Her impact can be seen not only in her numerous chart-topping hits but also in the cultural shifts she helped to inspire through her music and public presence. From the assertive beats of “Rhythm Nation” to the smooth, sultry tones of “That’s the Way Love Goes,” Jackson’s versatility as an artist has made her a pivotal figure in shaping the sound and style of contemporary pop and R&B.

Starting her career at a young age under the watchful eyes of the public, Janet Jackson quickly emerged from the shadow of her famous brothers to forge her own path. With the release of her breakthrough album, Control, in 1986, she established herself as a powerhouse in the music industry. Hits like “Nasty” and “What Have You Done for Me Lately” showcased her assertive new persona and introduced the world to a young woman taking charge of her destiny both professionally and personally. This album not only solidified her place in the music industry but also became a cultural milestone, empowering a generation of listeners.

Jackson’s contributions to music extend far beyond her powerful voice and infectious beats. Her albums, particularly Rhythm Nation 1814, are noted for their social consciousness. With songs like “Rhythm Nation” and “State of the World,” she addressed pressing issues such as racism, poverty, and substance abuse. These tracks became anthems for social change, illustrating how pop music could be both entertaining and enlightening. The album’s commercial success, coupled with its profound messages, cemented Janet Jackson’s reputation as an artist with both substance and style.

Throughout her career, Jackson has amassed a multitude of accolades, reflecting her influence and success. She has received numerous awards, including Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and Billboard Music Awards. Her innovative music videos and dynamic stage performances have also earned her the MTV Video Vanguard Award, recognizing her profound impact on the music video landscape.

Beyond her musical achievements, Janet Jackson is also known for her philanthropic efforts. She has supported a variety of causes, from AIDS research and cancer awareness to child education and poverty alleviation. Her involvement in these causes underscores her commitment to using her platform for positive change, further enhancing her legacy as not only an entertainer but also a humanitarian. Janet Jackson’s career is a testament to her enduring talent, her willingness to tackle significant social issues, and her generosity offstage. With a catalog of hits that have shaped the sound of modern music, and a heart dedicated to making the world a better place, Jackson’s contributions are both vast and profound. She remains a luminary in the music world, inspiring future generations to find their own voices and make their own impacts.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents Q-Tip & A Tribe Called Quest

If you’re looking to delve into some classic hip-hop with a sophisticated twist, then look no further than Q-Tip and his legendary group, A Tribe Called Quest. This playlist offers an introduction to their work, blending catchy rhymes with smooth jazz influences that will have you tapping your foot in no time.

Q-Tip, the group’s mastermind, is a true artist. His rapping style is intelligent and witty, avoiding the braggadocio that can sometimes dominate the genre. Tracks like “Can I Kick It?” and “Scenario” showcase his playful wordplay and knack for storytelling. But A Tribe Called Quest is more than just clever lyrics. The production, often featuring jazzy samples and soulful melodies, creates a laid-back atmosphere that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day.

This playlist goes beyond just A Tribe Called Quest, though. It highlights Q-Tip’s collaborations with other artists, demonstrating his versatility. Tracks like “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” with Janet Jackson and “Go” with The Chemical Brothers proves his influence extends beyond hip-hop.

So, whether you’re a longtime hip-hop fan or just curious to explore the genre’s more thoughtful side, this playlist is a great place to start. With its infectious grooves and insightful lyrics, A Tribe Called Quest’s music is sure to become a new favorite for listeners of all ages.

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A Joni Mitchell Playlist

Around ten years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, I tried to get Joni Mitchell to allow audiophile reissue label Mobile Fidelity to remaster and reissue her albums, but she wasn’t having it. Her concern was that they would clean up the sound too much and thereby change the experience of listening to it. I’m glad she’s finally come around on the idea of remastering.

Today’s playlist consists of 30 songs from Mitchell’s catalogue.

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Throwback Thursday: 1974

In 1974 Grandpa Abe gave ten-year-old me a radio. Very quickly that radio became shy me’s best friend. I hadn’t paid much attention to music previously, only hearing what played in the family care when we went out to eat or to Sunday school or the orthodontist. With my best friend Radio by my side I was exposed to so much more. Mostly I listened to the top 40 station WABC. By the autumn of 1974 I was making weekly treks on my bicycle to Melody Manor to buy whatever single entered the top 40 that week, unless it was something truly heinous like “Cat’s in the Cradle.” It’s a habit I kept up until the mid to late eighties, when “Lady in Red,” “The Final Countdown,” “Hip To Be Square” and Milli Vanilli convinced me to eschew that habit and only buy records that were tolerable. Today’s playlist celebrates the music of the year I started collecting records.

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Throwback Thursday: 1997

“I wanna really really really wanna zig-a-zig-ah”

“Beep beep, who got the keys to the Jeep? Vroom”

“Pissin’ the night away”

“Joni Mitchell never lies”

“Poppa been smooth since days of Underoos”

“Love me, love me / Pretend that you love me”

“What I look like? Patti LaBelle or somebody?”

“Kiss me here, touch me there, hanky-panky”

“Mmm bop ba duba dop / Ba du bop ba duba dop / Ba du bop ba duba dop / Ba du yeah yeah”

“Woo-hoo!”

So many memorable lyrics emerged in 1997. Hear the ones above and then some below:

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