Inspired by the November 11 birthdays of XTC’s Andy Partridge, LaVern Baker, Wu-Tang Clan’s U-God, Marshall Crenshaw, Stubby Kaye, Peaches, Mose Allison, Raveonettes’ Sharin Foo, Dennis Coffey, Chris Smither, Static Major, The Ides of March’s Jim Peterik, and The Blasters’ Dave Alvin.
Inspired by the March 2 birthdays of Lou Reed, Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, Karen Carpenter, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Jay Osmond, Boogie Down Productions’ Scott La Rock, Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio, Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton, UTFO’s Doctor Ice, the Kooks’ Luke Pritchard, and composer Kurt Weill (“Mack the Knife”).
During the February 22, 1989 telecast of the Grammy Awards, Pepsi premiered a thirty-second spot that featured a new song by Madonna, “Like a Prayer.” It was the first time a major artist’s new single was used in a television commercial prior to being released to radio or record stores.
The following week, a two-minute version of the commercial aired during The Cosby Show, at the time a highly-rated program starring America’s favorite dad, Bill Cosby. The ad, part of a $5 million endorsement deal Pepsi struck with Madonna that also included tour sponsorship, featured Madonna dancing in the street, in a school hallway, and in a church.
The song’s music video premiered the following day on MTV. In the video, Madonna witnesses the murder of a white girl by white supremacists. A black man gets arrested for the killing. Madonna seeks refuge in a church, where she has a dream that includes stigmata on her hands, kissing a black saint, and dancing in front of burning crosses.
The Vatican and other religions organizations condemned the video and threatened a protest against Pepsi products. Pepsi dropped its sponsorship of Madonna, never again aired the television spot, and let Madonna keep the $5 million they paid her.
“Like a Prayer” became Madonna’s seventh #1 pop hit in the United States. It also topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, and Switzerland.
“Like a Prayer” won the Viewers Choice award at the 1989 MTV Music Video Awards, a program that incidentally was sponsored by Pepsi. In her speech, Madonna said “I would really like to thank Pepsi for causing so much controversy.”
Tunes du Jour’s playlist this Throwback Thursday spotlights the year 1989, and kicks off with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”
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At brunch with friends this morning, music was discussed (as it always is) and it was mentioned that I’m not a lyrics person. I often don’t pay much attention to the words of a song (notable exceptions being “Fast Car,” “One” and “MacArthur Park”). I can sing along with a song and have no idea about what I’m singing.
Today is the birthday of Liam Gallagher, usual lead singer of the band Oasis. I was trying to figure out what to write about this band (besides mentioning that their album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is presently ranked at #28 on my Top Albums of All-Time list). My favorite Oasis track may be “Champagne Supernova.” In line with our brunch conversation, I haven’t the foggiest what this song is about.
Liam’s brother Noel, the band’s chief songwriter, explained where the song’s title came from – he misheard someone who mentioned the Pixies album Bossanova while he was watching a documentary about champagne. Okay then. What about the rest of the words? “Some of the lyrics were written when I was out of it,” Noel said in a 2005 interview. He went on to explain that “some of the words are about nothing. One is about Bracket The Butler who used to be on Camberwick Green, or Chipley or Trumpton or something. He used to take about 20 minutes to go down the hall. And then I couldn’t think of anything that rhymed with ‘hall’ apart from ‘cannonball’. so I wrote ‘Slowly walking down the hall/ Faster than a cannonball’ and people were like, ‘Wow, fuck , man’. There’s also the line ‘Where were you while we were getting high?’ because that’s what we always say to each other.”
Here are ten great Oasis tracks for you to sing along with Liam.
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In February 2002 my friend Sophie and I auditioned to be the hosts of a new US television series based on the successful UK show Pop Idol. On American Idol, amateur singers competed against each other and the public voted for the winner.
I’ve never seen American Idol. It’s not because I’m bitter I didn’t get the job. I have a different opinion than many of the show’s viewers as to what constitutes good singing. Being loud and hitting high notes do not necessarily make for great singing. A great singer is expressive, feeling the words they are singing. Aretha Franklin and Adele are two singers who can belt and hit a wide range of notes. They also know when to sing softly or when not to let vocal gymnastics get in the way of the song. They are great singers. Bob Dylan and Tom Waits are also great singers. They own their material. They feel their material. They live their material (more accurately, the personas they put forth for each song lives the material).
Dylan and Waits are also great songwriters. Dylan is the better-known of the two, but as today is Waits’ birthday, I’m going to focus on him. His songs have been recorded by a diverse group of artists, including Elvis Costello, Eagles, The Ramones, Johnny Cash, The Pogues, Solomon Burke, Steve Earle, Marianne Faithfull, The Neville Brothers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Norah Jones, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen and Neko Case, the latter two appearing on today’s playlist with Waits covers. His sole US top forty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was not as an artist, but as the writer of “Downtown Train,” which Rod Stewart took to the top ten in 1990.
Today’s Tom Waits-inspired playlist kicks off with the singer-songwriter’s version of that one hit. Enjoy!
Today is the 14th annual International Men’s Day. Per the holiday’s website, “It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care while highlighting the discrimination against them.”
We at TunesDuJour are taking this day to pay tribute to the many types of men out there. Whether you’re a soul man, a trouble man, a rocket man, a monkey, tambourine, candy, love, carpet, watermelon, egg, sixty minute or hurdy gurdy man, we have a song for you.
To kick off this blog in a silly fashion, we present to you a playlist of songs with the word “men” or “man” in the title, performed by men. This list is by no means comprehensive. Dare I say there are MANy more. Sorry, I shouldn’t have dared.
Give it a listen and let us know in the comments section how you are celebrating International Men’s Day and if you discovered or rediscovered any worthwhile tunes from our list.