Tag Archives: Pharrell

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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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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The Evolution Of Jay-Z

“What people do in their own homes is their business, and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”

The above quote comes from Jay-Z. He was referring to gay rights in an interview with Poppy Harlow on CNN in May 2012. Referencing the lack of marriage equality nationwide, he said “I always thought it as something that is still holding the country back.”

He always thought this? Even in 1996, when he rapped about “Too many faggot niggas clocking my spending?” Or the following year, when he rapped ““Hate a nigga like that faggot?” How about the lyric in which he complains about “faggots” talking to the police, which is followed by his promise to kill those faggots? Or his rap “Why is you over here lookin’ at me while all these girls up in here? What you gay?” Or the song in which he calls rapper Nas, no strange to homophobic lyrics himself, a “fag?” That’s the same song in which he mocks Mobb Deep’s Prodigy with a gay implication. Was he ruminating about how gay Americans deserve the same rights accorded to straight Americans when he rapped “Now I ain’t down with who like me or who like you. That’s gay, I ain’t into liking dudes no way?” When he said “And since you infatuated with sayin’ tha gay shit, yes you was kissin’ my dick when you was kissin’ that bitch,” was he really saying “I respect you as a man, for I am a man as well, and we are all equal?”

There are rappers, specifically Eminem, who defend the use of the word “faggot” by saying it doesn’t mean gay; it means weak. Equating a gay slur with weakness or a lesser-than status isn’t homophobic? First of all, that’s bullshit. Secondly, in the case of the Jay-Z lyrics cited above, he is referring to gay men.

Perhaps, like President Obama, who endorsed marriage equality shortly before the rapper’s CNN interview, Jay-Z has evolved. I’m skeptical that he “always” felt the lack of equality was holding the country back, but I’m glad he feels that way now. He is one of the two most-famous rap artists in the world. He is not running for office and trying to garner votes. His support means a lot. As Clinton Yates wrote in the Washington Post, “Hopefully, Jay-Z’s words can lead generations of music fans out of the fog when it comes to being an open-minded and accepting citizen of the world.”

Today Jay-Z turns 45 years old. Here are twenty of his finest raps, homophobia-free. Misogynist? That’s a discussion for another time.

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Your Day Of Happiness Soundtrack

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Today is the United Nations International Day of Happiness. Our soundtrack kicks off with The Turtles’ “Happy Together.”

Ironically, this is not a happy song.

Written by Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, the song is about a one-way love affair. The singer imagines being with the girl to whom he’s singing. He’s in love with her and thinks if they were to be together the skies would be blue. He imagines how the world would be – so very fine – if they were a couple.

She doesn’t feel the same way. When this sinks in to our narrator, he makes small talk. “So how is the weather?” he asks, alternating that line with his repeated sentiment that they would be so happy together.

The song opens on a minor chord, which has a more melancholy sound than a major chord. The chorus – “I can’t see me loving nobody but you for all my life” – opens with a major chord, and the instrumentation is appropriately louder and joyous, the celebratory sound matching his feelings of ecstasy as he imagines his fantasy life with this woman.

For younger folks reading this, there used to exist public phones where one could insert a dime to make a three-minute long local call, hence the lyric “If I should call you up, invest a dime.” If the song were written today, this verse may go “If I should call you up, use up minutes from my cell phone plan / And you say you belong to me, I am your man / Imagine how the world could be, I’m hungry for flan.” Not as strong. Now I’m hungry for flan.

The Turtles recorded “Happy Together” in January 1967. Two months later it knocked The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” out of the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed on top for three weeks.

Enjoy your Day of Happiness. May all your loves be requited loves.

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#1 In Glenn’s Ten On This Day Throughout History

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Today’s playlist consists of songs that were #1 in Glenn’s Ten, the weekly tally of my favorite current songs, on this date going back to 1981, the year I started tracking such things (click here for more background).

My #1 on March 3, 1981 was Don McLean’s cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” My #1 this week is Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” It took me thirty-three years to go from “Crying” to “Happy.”

In 1981 I was a shy, skinny high school student who felt like he didn’t belong. I wished I was more popular but hard as I tried, I just wasn’t cool.

I worked to better myself. Gaining weight was a challenge, as was overcoming my shyness. To achieve the latter I ultimately turned to stand-up comedy. Getting up on stage in front of a group of strangers to express my thoughts was what I needed. It gave me confidence and got me an agent and positive reviews in publications including Backstage.

To gain weight I ate a banana split every night right before bed. I didn’t put on any pounds, but I did develop lactose-intolerance.

Eventually my metabolism slowed down and I filled out.

I also became successful in corporate America, most recently as the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music Group. That shy, introverted kid made something of himself.

In retrospect, I’ve been cool this whole time. Perhaps my fellow high school students didn’t think so, but what did they know? I’m going to rely on the impressions of 16 year-olds as to my coolness? It takes more guts to be a non-conformist. I learned to love myself as I am.

Loving yourself is the subject of a few #1 songs of this date. There’s 1991’s “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls, but that’s not the self-love to which I refer. Lady Gaga’s self-empowerment anthem “Born This Way” topped my chart for several weeks n 2011. Madonna, Gaga’s spiritual predecessor, sang “You’re frozen when your heart’s not open” in 1998.

It’s now 2014. I’m unemployed for the first time since graduating college. I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been. I am confident. I feel positive and energized about my future. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am…happy.

Here is the chronological soundtrack of my March 3 journey from “Crying” to “Happy,” with videoclips for the two entries not available on Spotify.


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A Beginner’s Guide To Pharrell

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Perhaps while you were watching the Grammy Awards this past weekend you asked “Who is this cute guy with great hats who sings “Get Lucky?” He is Pharrell Williams and he has been having hits for more than twenty years.

He first hit the Top 40 as one of the writers of Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker,” which hit #2 in 1992. Since then he has co-written and co-produced hits for many pop and hip hop superstars. He has also performed as a member of N.E.R.D. Today’s playlist is a sampler of his work. You may be surprised as to how many of his hits you already know.

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My Top 74 Songs Of 2013 – You Know You Want It!

In 2013 I found religion. I praised Yeezus. I listened to the words of Lorde. I hailed the resurrection of The Replacements. I danced apocalyptic. This year’s music fed my spirituality, though my year-end list also has sacrilege and unbelievers.

Much like I did with God, before 2013 I dismissed Robin Thicke. I never thought I’d ever see his name on my year-end song lists, let alone at #1, but “Blurred Lines” is my choice for record of the year. The song is about wannabe players hitting on a woman with awkward come-ons, though some chose to think the song celebrate sexual assaults. They coined a term for it – rapey, after Snow White’s least popular dwarf.

I never thought I’d see Daft Punk or Nile Rodgers again in Glenn’s Ten, but this year they returned on the same record. Their “Get Lucky,” which, like “Blurred Lines,” also features Pharrell Williams, is my #2 song of 2013. Daft Punk, who are French and therefore crepey, was last in Glenn’s Ten in 2001 with “Digital Love.” Nile Rodgers was in the great disco band Chic, whose hit-making days preceded the creation of Glenn’s Ten. After Chic he worked with a lot of great artists and Duran Duran. The last time he was in Glenn’s Ten was in 1990 as the co-producer of The B-52s’ “Deadbeat Club.” The Daft Punk/Nile Rodgers/Pharrell Williams combo also turn up at #8 with “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Daft Punk are also at #67 with “Doin’ It Right” and Pharrell is also at #24, assisting Azealia Banks on “ATM Jam.”

Kendrick Lamar is all over my year-end list, placing more songs on it than any other act. Besides several tracks from his terrific debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city (#3 – “Swimming Pools (Drank),” #10 – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” #39 – “Backseat Freestyle” and #44 – “Poetic Justice”), he guested on singles from Miguel (#51 – “How Many Drinks”), ScHoolboy Q (#72 – “Collard Greens”) and A$AP Rocky (#7 – “Fuckin’ Problems”). On the subject of the latter, the way A$AP talks about women is his fuckin’ problem. It’s the first time I ever purchased the so-called “clean” version of a song. The explicit version is very misogynous, though I would stop short of calling it rapey, mostly because that word is stupid (no offense to the dwarf).

While “Get Lucky” evoked the 70s disco sound, that era’s laid back Cali rock vibe was heard in Haim’s “The Wire” (#4), whose introduction sounded a lot like Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight.”

The recipient of the kiss-off that is Icona Pop’s “I Love It” (#5) is from the 70s, but she’s a 90s bitch. She’s loud. She’s angry. She’s possibly psychotic. I don’t care. I love it.

Mariah Carey has released around 75 singles during her career. I’ve enjoyed approximately none of them. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my satellite radio display to see the song I was enjoying was credited to Mariah, all the more unexpected because it was a guy singing. I prefer to think of “#Beautiful” (#36) as a Miguel track.

Like Mariah, the last time Shabba Ranks was in Glenn’s Ten was never, but he was there this year, not as an artist, but as a song title/inspiration for an A$AP Rocky/A$AP Ferg’s collaboration (#43 – “Shabba”).

Kanye West is too humble and reserved to say it, but his Yeezus is the year’s best album. It produced three Glenn’s Ten hits (#27 – “Black Skinhead,” #66 – “Blood on the Leaves” and #69 – “Bound 2”). My other favorite albums of the year are Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady (#16 – “Dance Apocalyptic,” #30 – “Q.U.E.E.N.” and #35 – “Primetime”), Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City (#13 – “Diane Young” and #68 – “Unbelievers”), Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (#21 – “San Francisco” and #42 – “No Destruction) and Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which she snuck out two weeks ago, too recent for any of its tracks to make this year’s list.

Check out the tunes and let me know if you make any discoveries.

1) “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell
2) “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
3) “Swimming Pools (Drank)” – Kendrick Lamar
4) “The Wire” – Haim
5) “I Love It” – Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
6) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake
7) “Fuckin’ Problems” – A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
8) “Lose Yourself to Dance” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
9) “Put the Gun Down” – ZZ Ward
10) “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” – Kendrick Lamar
11) “Wicked Games” – The Weeknd
12) “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
13) “Diane Young” – Vampire Weekend
14) “Royals” – Lorde
15) “Man” – Neko Case
16) “Dance Apocalyptic” – Janelle Monae
17) “Just Give Me a Reason” – P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
18) “Default” – Django Django
19) “Lightning Bolt” – Jake Bugg
20) “High School Lover” – Cayucas
21) “San Francisco” – Foxygen
22) “Lysandre” – Christopher Owens
23) “Right Action” – Franz Ferdinand
24) “ATM Jam” – Azealia Banks featuring Pharrell
25) “Hard Out Here” – Lily Allen
26) “Do You…” – Miguel
27) “Black Skinhead” – Kanye West
28) “Stare at the Sun” – Eleanor Friedberger
29) “Sacrilege” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
30) “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu
31) “Mama Told Me” – Big Boi featuring Kelly Rowland
32) “White Walls” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring ScHoolboy Q and Hollis
33) “Y.A.L.A.” – M.I.A.
34) “I’m Not Sayin’” – The Replacements
35) “Primetime” – Janelle Monae featuring Miguel
36) “#Beautiful” – Mariah Carey featuring Miguel
37) “Stompa” – Serena Ryder
38) “Bubble Butt” – Major Lazer featuring Bruno Mars, Tyga & Mystic
39) “Backseat Freestyle” – Kendrick Lamar
40) “Applause” – Lady Gaga
41) “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
42) “No Destruction” – Foxygen
43) “Shabba” – A$AP Ferg featuring A$AP Rocky
44) “Poetic Justice” – Kendrick Lamar featuring Drake
45) “Sunset” – the xx
46) “Wenu Wenu” – Omar Souleyman
47) “Change” – Churchill
48) “Hang Loose” – Alabama Shakes
49) “Dark and Stormy” – Hot Chip
50) “Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
51) “How Many Drinks” – Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar
52) “The Ceiling” – The Wild Feathers
53) “Love is Blindness” – Jack White
54) “Dream Baby Dream” – Bruce Springsteen
55) “I Won’t Be Long” – Beck
56) “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” – Ylvis
57) “Super Rich Kids” – Frank Ocean with Earl Sweatshirt
58) “Here We Go” – Christopher Owens
59) “Afterlife” – Arcade Fire
60) “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent
61) “FUCKMYLIFE666” – Against Me!
62) “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys
63) “Blowin’ Smoke” – Kacey Musgraves
64) “Don’t Swallow the Cap” – the National
65) “Perfume” – Britney Spears
66) “Blood on the Leaves” – Kanye West
67) “Doin’ It Right” – Daft Punk featuring Panda Bear
68) “Unbelievers” – Vampire Weekend
69) “Bound 2” – Kanye West
70) “Lies” – Chvrches
71) “Work Bitch” – Britney Spears
72) “Collard Greens” – ScHoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar
73) “Ain’t That the Way” – Divine Fits
74) “You’re Not the One” – Sky Ferreira


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