Today’s playlist celebrates the August 17 birthdays of Dexys Midnight Runners’ Kevin Rowland, The Go-Go’s’ Belinda Carlisle, Phoebe Bridgers, Mark Dining, Luscious Jackson’s Jill Cunniff, The Revolution/Wendy & Lisa’s Lisa Coleman, Maria McKee, The Pack’s Lil B, and Robert DeNiro; and the August 18 birthdays of Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne, Aphex Twin, the xx’s Romy, Wu-Tang Clan’s Masta Killa, The Orioles’ Sonny Til, Clairo, House of Pain’s Everlast, The Primitives’ Tracy Tracy, The Move’s Carl Wayne, Mika, The Toys’ Barbara Harris, Johnny Preston, Maxine Brown, The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Martin Mull, and Denis Leary.
Today’s playlist celebrates the August 2 birthdays of The Band’s Garth Hudson, Traffic’s Jim Capaldi, Charli XCX, The La’s’ Lee Mavers, The Shirelles’ Doris Coley, Johnny Kemp, The Cascades’ John Claude Gummoe, Mojo Nixon, Apollonia, Jacob Collier, and Andrew Gold; and the August 3 birthdays of Metallica’s James Hetfield, Tony Bennett, Scroobius Pip, Nice & Smooth’s Smooth B, Skunk Anansie’s Skin, Lucky Dube, Syreeta, and Ricky Blaze.
Prince, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Kool & the Gang. It must be my list of favorite songs of 198-, uh, 2021. The aforementioned veterans rub elbows with Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Wet Leg, serpentwithfeet, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, The Avalanches, Adele and Little Simz.
Here are my top 100 songs of 2021:
Same Size Shoe – serpentwithfeet
Love Again – Dua Lipa
Body – Megan Thee Stallion
Black Like Me – Mickey Guyton
Easy On Me – Adele
Thot Shit – Megan Thee Stallion
Up – Cardi B
Save Your Tears – The Weeknd
Good Days – SZA
Under the Table – Fiona Apple
Wet Dream – Wet Leg
Rumors – Lizzo & Cardi B
Find My Way – Paul McCartney
Levitating – Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby
Chaise Longue – Wet Leg
I Love You, I Hate You – Little Simz
Best Friend – Saweetie feat. Doja Cat
Brando – Lucy Dacus
So I Lie – Miguel
We Go On – the Avalanches feat. Cola Boyyy & Mick Jones
Twerkulator – City Girls
MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X
Butter – BTS
Cold Heart – Elton John & Dua Lipa
Therefore I Am – Billie Eilish
Your Power – Billie Eilish
INDUSTRY BABY – Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow
Point and Kill – Little Simz feat. Obongjayar
Scratchcard Lanyard – Dry Cleaning
Security – Amyl and the Sniffers
Puppy and a Truck – Jenny Lewis
Don’t Judge Me – FKA twigs, Headie One, Fred again…
Pursuit of Happiness – Kool & the Gang
Savage Good Boy – Japanese Breakfast
Pay Your Way in Pain – St. Vincent
ARE YOU WITH THAT? – Vince Staples
Hot Summer – Prince
Diamond Studded Shoes – Yola
Solar Power – Lorde
chinatown – Bleachers feat. Bruce Springsteen
The Divine Chord – the Avalanches feat. MGMT & Johnny Marr
Don’t Go Yet – Camila Cabello
Strong Feelings – Dry Cleaning
Rainforest – Noname
Working for the Knife – Mitski
Take My Breath – The Weeknd
Boomerang – Yebba
ooh la la – Run the Jewels feat. Santa Fe Klan & Mexican Institute of Sound
Candypaint – Joey Purp
Free from Gravity – Django Django
Spanish Doors – Liz Phair
Roaring 20s – Flo Milli
Rhetorical Figure – John Grant
THAT’S WHAT I WANT – Lil Nas X
The Doll – Audiobooks
Strange – Celeste
WUSYANAME – Tyler, the Creator feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign
White Dress – Lana Del Rey
family ties – Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar
Starlight – Yola
The Melting of the Sun – St. Vincent
Pick up Your Feelings – Jazmine Sullivan
I am not a woman, I’m a god – Halsey
Hertz – Amyl and the Sniffers
Please – Jessie Ware
The Adults Are Talking – the Strokes
Got Me – Laura Mvula
We’re Good – Dua Lipa
Kiss Me More – Doja Cat feat. SZA
I Don’t Live Here Anymore – The War on Drugs feat. Lucius
For many years I’ve been saying that 1986 was a crap year for music. I prove myself wrong with this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist. Listen to these gems! How did I get this so wrong until now? My theory is this: In 1986 I was still listening to top 40 radio more than other formats. While there were many great hit songs in ’86 (as evidenced by the playlist below), there was also a lot of garbage songs that were successful on the pop chart. My thoughts of all those garbage songs outweighed my fond memories of all of the good songs. Well, no more, missy! Nineteen eighty-six was a good year for music. The proof is in the pudding (pudding meaning this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist).
I missed Prince’s debut album, For You, when it was released in 1978. My first exposure to him was hearing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on the radio. It became a hit when I was in high school. Good song. Then I saw the video. Not what I expected. Before then I thought Prince was a trio of Black women, like The Emotions. My first visual exposure to Prince and already he was throwing my expectations.
His third album, 1980’s Dirty Mind, got a fair amount of press in music magazines, and its cover art made an impression. I was interested in the guy.
“Controversy” was a single my freshman year in college. The song grabbed me, and so I bought the 45, my first Prince record.
The life-changing moment came the following year, when I heard “1999” on KISS-FM in Boston. Holy crap! It blew my mind. It sounded like nothing else on the radio at that time or any other time. At that moment I became a big fan. I got a ride into Harvard Square, went to the Harvard Coop (the university’s bookstore/ record store/ probably other things I can’t remember store) and bought the 1999 album. (The same day I bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Can you believe the two albums came out a month apart? What a time to be alive!)
From that point on I was a certified Prince fanatic. I bought the first four albums. I bought subsequent albums on the days of release. I bought the twelve-inch singles, and eventually the CD singles. And for quite a stretch there Prince continued to blow my mind. I’m still awed by his genius and marvel at how he thought to do unconventional things with his music, such as removing the bassline from “When Doves Cry,” the only number one on the dance chart to not have a bassline.
I’ve met many great talents over the years. Brian Wilson. Tina Turner. Smokey Robinson. Norman Fell. But nothing compared 2 meeting Prince. It was in 1988. He didn’t say a word, though he did sign my work stationery:
Putting together a Prince playlist and disciplining myself to keep it to thirty songs is a tough task, especially as a Prince fanatic, but I persevered. I’m not saying these are his thirty best songs, nor are they his thirty most popular songs, nor are they my thirty favorites of his songs. It’s a mixture of all three of those categories (which, of course, have a lot of overlap). I threw in some of the hits others had with songs he wrote. It’s by no means complete, but it’s a start.
(The Spotify embed feature is STILL broken. Here is the link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3TrbpWDHR6CzcYRHmvSrRA?si=4367f868ddcf4e52)
Nineteen eighty wasn’t a game changing year on the US pop chart. It wasn’t 1964. It wasn’t 1991. For the most part it was music business as usual. The death of disco was greatly exaggerated. Just ask any member of Lipps, Inc., should you have any idea what any member of Lipps, Inc. looks like. Seventies hit makers stayed on the charts. Paul McCartney. Diana Ross. Stevie Wonder. Barbra Streisand. The Captain & Tennille did it to us one more time, it meaning having a hit single. A few outsiders snuck into the top 40 with sounds unlike the rest – Devo hit with “Whip It,” Gary Numan with “Cars,” and The Vapors with “Turning Japanese.” In the coming years more such weirdos would make their presence known.
While many of 1980’s hits were great singles, many classics were born outside of the mainstream. Releases such as Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Redemption Song,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Peter Gabriel’s “Biko,” Prince’s “When You Were Mine,” David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” and Funky 4 + 1’s “That’s the Joint” are often referred to as classics these days. In 1980, not a single one of them troubled the US Hot 100. Change was on its way. In 1980, rap wasn’t a fixture on the top 40, though its influence was heard in Queen’s #1 smash “Another One Bites the Dust.” The next few years saw #1 hits from Peter Gabriel, Prince, David Bowie and a rap song, plus a top ten reggae song.
Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist shines a spotlight on 1980.