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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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (6-21-20)

Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, and the June 21 birthdays of The Kinks‘ Ray Davies, The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Lana Del Rey, Shakespear’s Sister’s Marcella Detroit, Pete Rock, John Paul Young, Sonique, Brenda Holloway, Rebecca Black, O.C. Smith, Strawberry Alarm Clock’s Greg Munford and Jussie Smollett.

Meet Oscar Nominee Anohni

In a moment I’ll introduce you to Anohni, who was nominated for an Oscar this year in the category of Best Original Song, but first I want to talk a little about Kesha, Grimes and Sam Smith.

You may have heard about Kesha’s much-publicized battle to get out of her recording agreement. She claims that Dr. Luke, the producer to whose company, Kemosabe Records, she is signed, drugged and sexually assaulted her on several occasions. As a courtroom proceeding about those allegations had not yet been tried, a New York Supreme Court justice denied Kesha’s motion for a preliminary inunction extraditing her from recording for Kemosabe.

This led to the proliferation of the hashtag #FreeKesha. A group of fans protested outside Sony Music’s headquarters, demanding that the music corporation free Kesha. Kesha isn’t signed to Sony Music, but no matter. Sony should cease distribution of Kemosabe Records, which would leave Kesha still signed to Kemosabe, but hey – it was a nice day for a good protest, and what else is there in the world to complain about? Ongoing wars? Poisoned public water supplies? Human rights violations? More important to get a pop star out of her recording agreement. #Priorities

Many public figures offered support to Kesha, among them Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Adele, Janelle Monáe, Fiona Apple, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Tegan and Sara, HAIM, Alessia Cara, Lorde, Wale, Best Coast, George Takei, Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Mariska Hargitay, Troye Sivan, Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Sara Bareilles, JoJo, Adam Lambert, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Margaret Cho, Zedd, and Jack Antonoff. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha to help with her financial needs.

Also supporting Kesha is Claire Elise Boucher, the Canadian singer-songwriter who records under the name Grimes. In response to a question from a Time Out reporter about Kesha’s legal situation, Grimes, whose “Kill v. Maim” is #3 this week in Glenn’s Ten, said the following about recording agreements: “You shouldn’t be allowed to sign a human being, regardless of what the allegations are or what anyone said or did. It’s basically like slavery.” Yes, making millions of dollars doing your dream job is basically the same as being forcibly taken from your home and forced to do a job you don’t want to do for no pay, much like Spaghetti Carbonara is basically the same thing as a nuclear missile, which is to say, both exist. (Grimes’ two most recent albums were released by the 4AD label, with whom, I assume, she is signed to a recording agreement.)

If Kesha’s allegations against Dr. Luke are true, then I hope at the very least she is let out of her agreement with Kemosabe, as being forced to aid your rapist make money is unconscionable, and that is where the slavery comparison applies.

British singer-songwriter Sam Smith may or may not know what slavery is, but he exhibited a lack of grasp on history last weekend at the Academy Awards. As he couldn’t pronounce Anohni or The Weeknd, Common announced as the winner of the Best Original Song award the easiest name to remember and pronounce, Sam Smith.

In his acceptance speech, Smith claimed to be the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin, Pedro Almodovar and the other openly gay people who have won. Maybe Smith meant to say he’s the first openly gay person to win an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2016. He says he got his information from actor Sir Ian McKellen via an interview Smith read, which is true, if you leave out the part where McKellen refers to no openly gay winners in the Acting categories.

It was pointed out to Smith that he is not the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, to which he responded “I think I’m the second openly gay person to win it,” which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin and the other openly gay people who have won less one. In the real world, Smith is not even the first openly gay person in the category of Best Original Song. When told that openly gay Howard Ashman won that category twice, Smith replied “I should know him. We should date.” Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, the year for which his title song from Beauty and the Beast won, but sure, Sam, date him. You’ll be the first openly necrophiliac to win an Oscar. #Trailblazer. I do agree with one thing Smith said. He should know of Ashman.

Which brings us to Anohni. Along with her collaborator, J. Ralph, Anohni was nominated for Best Original Song for “Manta Ray” from the film Racing Extinction. Unlike Sam Smith, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, Anohni, a transsexual woman, was not invited to perform her nominated song at the Oscar ceremony. In a year in which The Academy was taken to task for a lack of diversity among the nominees, the producers felt it was more important for the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to give a speech on the show about the importance of diversity in Hollywood than it was to allow only the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar to perform (not a Sam Smith second person, but truly the second). Besides, The Danish Girl received nominations, including one for Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne as the titular character Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender correction surgery, and who better to represent trans women at the Oscars than a heterosexual cisgender man? Also, the award show needed time for clueless Clueless actress Stacey Dash insult the .04% of viewers who know who she is. #Priorities

Here’s your chance to get to know Anohni, who previously recorded under the name Antony. Her distinctive voice will grab you and her songs will move you. Check out twenty of her best, including guest appearances on other artists’ tracks:


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My Top 99 Songs Of 2015

Herewith, my 99 favorite tracks of this year:

1. Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
2. Sugah Daddy – D’Angelo & the Vanguard
3. Peanut Butter Jelly – Galantis
4. Downtown – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee & Grandmaster Kaz
5. Fuck It All – Elle Varner
6. Therapy – Mary J. Blige
7. Coffee (Fucking) – Miguel
8. What Do You Mean? – Justin Bieber
9. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) – Run the Jewels featuring Zack De La Rocha
10. Hello – Adele
11. Only One – Kanye West featuring Paul McCartney
12. Depreston – Courtney Barnett
13. On the Regular – Shamir
14. Lampshades on Fire – Modest Mouse
15. Shine – Years & Years
16. Hotline Bling – Drake
17. Truffle Butter – Nicki Minaj featuring Drake and Lil Wayne
18. The Blacker the Berry – Kendrick Lamar
19. Dead Fox – Courtney Barnett
20. The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box – Modest Mouse
21. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
22. FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna featuring Kanye West and Paul McCartney
23. Teenage Talk – St. Vincent
24. Alright – Kendrick Lamar
25. Who U? – Dynas featuring Slick Rick
26. Friday I’m in Love – Yo La Tengo
27. Queen – Perfume Genius
28. King Kunta – Kendrick Lamar
29. Yoga – Janelle Monae featuring Jidenna
30. Dreams – Beck
31. Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo) – EL VY
32. The Love Within – Bloc Party
33. The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt. – Father John Misty
34. Huarache Lights – Hot Chip
35. Dancing in the Dark – Hot Chip
36. B.O.B. – Macy Gray
37. Break the Rules – Charli XCX
38. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
39. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit
40. Cool for the Summer – Demi Lovato
41. Girl Crush – Little Big Town
42. Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party – Courtney Barnett
43. Little Red Wagon – Miranda Lambert
44. Cedar Lane – First Aid Kit
45. Jonathan – Christine and the Queens featuring Perfume Genius
46. Boxing Day Blues (Revisited) – Courtney Barnett
47. In for the Kill – Shamir
48. Biscuits – Kacey Musgraves
49. Can’t Get Enough of Myself – Santigold featuring BC
50. You’re So Beautiful – Empire Cast featuring Jussie Smollett
51. Ugly Cherries – PWR BTTM
52. Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey) – The Weeknd
53. Leave a Trace – CHVRCHES
54. Freedom – Pharrell Williams
55. Betray My Heart – D’Angelo & the Vanguard
56. Snakeskin – Deerhunter
57. Really Love – D’Angelo & the Vanguard
58. I Can’t Lose – Mark Ronson featuring Keyone Starr
59. Outta My Mind – the Arcs
60. Happy Idiot – TV on the Radio
61. Bad Blood – Ryan Adams
62. Nobody’s Empire – Belle & Sebastian
63. Come – Jain
64. Stonemilker – Björk
65. Holding On – Julio Bashmore featuring Sam Dew
66. Go Out – Blur
67. Weight in Gold – Gallant
68. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) – Father John Misty
69. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
70. All Day – Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney
71. Glory – Common and John Legend
72. Need You Now – Hot Chip
73. Sausage – Lil Mama
74. Déjà Vu – Giorgio Moroder featuring Sia
75. Alone on Christmas Day – Phoenix featuring Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzmann, Buster Poindexter and Paul Shaffer
76. Smokin’ & Drinkin’ – Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
77. She’s Not Me – Jenny Lewis
78. Omen – Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
79. For Sale – Kendrick Lamar
80. NWA – Miguel featuring Kurupt
81. Times Square – Destroyer
82. I Put a Spell on You – Annie Lennox
83. 4 Degrees – ANOHNI
84. Go – The Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip
85. Sometimes – Heems
86. Bitch Better Have My Money – Rihanna
87. Runnin’ (Lose It All) – Naughty Boy featuring Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin
88. Smooth Sailin’ – Leon Bridges
89. Hell – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
90. Simple Things – Miguel
91. Shivers – Courtney Barnett
92. Tom’s Diner – Giorgio Moroder featuring Britney Spears
93. Trap Queen – Fetty Wap
94. Tell Your Friends – The Weeknd
95. L$D – A$AP Rocky
96. These Walls – Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat
97. Love is Free – Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique
98. Country Down – Beck
99. Better in the Morning – Little Boots


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Beck, Kanye and Beyoncé

“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists, to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé. Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place.” – Kanye West on the Grammy Award for Album of the Year going to Beck’s Morning Phase rather than Beyoncé’s self-titled release

“I thought she was going to win. Come on, she’s Beyoncé! You can’t please everybody, man. I still love [West] and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does.” – Beck

“I wasn’t saying Beck; I said the Grammys. Beck knows that Beyoncé should have won; you know that. Come on, man. I love Beck! But he didn’t have the Album of the Year.” – Kanye West

Kanye West, official spokesperson for the Bey Nation, gave his opinion and the Internet blew up! It was a repeat of 2009, when West announced that Taylor Swift stole the MTV Best Female Video Award that should have gone to Beyoncé. The American people were up in arms! So much vitriol was sent West-ward and his detractors found plenty of reasons to go after him the ensuing years. As the wise trophy thief said, “the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.”

Kanye’s point was about creating art and reaching new heights in one’s craft. The only intelligent responses to further this discourse, per the many comments I saw on Facebook and Twitter, are “You’re classless” and “You’re garbage.” One person who didn’t call Kanye garbage was Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the band Garbage. She called him “a complete twat.”

At least all of us can sleep better knowing that Kanye loves Beck. They are two of my favorite all-time artists for many of the same reasons. They seldom repeat themselves, making each album they release different than the previous one. Neither follows trends. Both challenge themselves. Both are masters of their craft. Both can be sincere. Both can be funny. Neither has released a bad record.

However…

Beyoncé should have gotten the Album of the Year Grammy. Her self-titled album was a revelation. Following up her uneven 4, she took a giant leap forward and strived to make something more artistic than what we were used to from her. She succeeded. The Beck record, Morning Phase, sounds beautiful, but there were no surprises. It was announced early in 2014 that Beck would be releasing a new album that was in a mellow vein. I got what I expected. It was as fine as I thought it would be, and stronger than his last couple of releases. I like Morning Phase very much, more than the other nominated Albums of the Year performed by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard Beck do before. Ironically, in Beyoncé’s quest to be more artistic, her album outsold its predecessor. Like Kanye said, she had the Album of the Year.

Enough of the Grammy voters felt otherwise and awarded Beck. That’s fine. There have been worse slights in the Grammy Album of the Year category than Beyoncé losing to Beck. What about the 1996 awards, when Beck’s Odelay lost to Celine Dion’s Falling into You? Or in 2000, when Beck’s Midnight Vultures lost to Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature? Or in 2005, when U2’s Hot to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb beat Kanye’s Late Registration and in 2004, when Ray Charles & Friends’ Genius Loves Company beat Kanye’s The College Dropout and Green Day’s American Idiot? Steely Dan, U2 and Ray Charles have released many albums deserving of Album of the Year. These weren’t them. U2 should have won 1992’s Album of the Year for Achtung Baby. They lost to Eric Clapton Unplugged. In 2007, Kanye’s Graduation and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black both lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, a record that literally nobody has ever heard. In 1980, Christopher Cross’ self-titled debut beat Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In 1966, The Beatles’ Revolver lost to Frank Sinatra’s A Man and His Music. In 2012, Mumford & Sons’ Babel beat albums by Frank Ocean, Jack White and The Black Keys. The nominees for 1984’s Album of the Year Grammy were Prince’s Purple Rain, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, and Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Four classic albums plus one by Lionel Richie. The winner? Lionel Richie! WTF on a stick?!?! In 1991 the Album of the Year Grammy didn’t go to R.E.M., nominated for Out of Time. It went to Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable…with Love. Eligible but not nominated that year? A little album called Nevermind by a band named Nirvana. Oh well, whatever. In 1982, Toto IV beat…it doesn’t matter who else was nominated. It’s Toto Fuckin’ IV, people.

It looks like Beyoncé will have to wait longer before she is in the same hallowed company as Toto.

In less contentious news this week, ISIS killed U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller, Boko Haram killed thirteen soldiers and 81 civilians in Chad, and the Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court forbade probate judges in that state to issue marriage license to same-sex couples, despite a judge’s ruling that such unions are legal and the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to issue a stay on that ruling.

Congratulations, Beck!

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Grammy Predictions

The 2014 Grammy Awards will be handed out tomorrow night. Here are my fearless predictions:

RECORD OF THE YEAR – “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Beyoncé – Beyoncé
SONG OF THE YEAR – “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
BEST NEW ARTIST – Sam Smith
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE – “All of Me” – John Legend
BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE – “A Sky Full of Stars” – Coldplay
BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM – Cheek to Cheek – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM – X – Ed Sheeran
BEST DANCE RECORDING – “F for You” – Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige
BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM – While(1<2) – Deadmau5
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE – “Fever” – The Black Keys
BEST ROCK SONG – “Blue Moon” – Beck
BEST ROCK ALBUM – Turn Blue – The Black Keys
BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM – Reflektor – Arcade Fire
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE – “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
BEST R&B SONG – “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
BEST URBAN COMTEMPORARY ALBUM – Beyoncé – Beyoncé
BEST R&B ALBUM – Give the People What They Want – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION – “The Monster” – Eminem featuring Rihanna
BEST RAP SONG – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
BEST RAP ALBUM – Oxymoron – ScHoolboy Q
BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE – “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE – “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
BEST COUNTRY SONG – “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM – Platinum – Miranda Lambert
BEST COMEDY ALBUM – Mandatory Fun – “Weird Al” Yankovic
BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA – “Let It Go” – Adele Dazeem
BEST BOXED OR SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE – The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One
BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM (NON-CLASSICAL) – Morning Phase – Beck
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR (NON-CLASSICAL) – Max Martin
BEST REMIXED RECORDING (NON-CLASSICAL) – “All of Me” (Tiesto’s Birthday Treatment Remix) – John Legend

Enjoy the show!

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Winston + Bobby Brown

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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