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Not Your Typical LGBTQ+ Pride Playlist

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Tune du Jour celebrates with this playlist consisting of two hundred songs by and/or about Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts and Qs. Happy Pride!

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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 74: LGBTQ Music From 1981 To 1982

The British are coming! Not that they ever left, but the early eighties brought the U.S. pop charts another British invasion, this one queerer than the previous ones. Half of the twenty songs on this playlist come from UK artists, including new acts such as Soft Cell and Depeche Mode, plus some folks we’ve heard from on previous playlists in this series.

Also debuting in this edition is Luther Vandross. He didn’t come out publicly during his lifetime, but that doesn’t mean his place in queer music history should be left out.


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Throwback Thursday – 1982

As a songwriter, Gloria Jones charted with Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “If I Were Your Woman,” the Four Tops’ “Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life),” and Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross’ “My Mistake (Was to Love You).” As a producer, Gloria Jones hit the top ten on the disco chart with Gonzalez’s “Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet.” But as a lead singer, Jones failed to make the pop, r&b or dance charts.

In 1973, while on a trip to the United States, British DJ Richard Searling purchased a copy of a Gloria Jones single from 1965. The A-side was a song called “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home,” but it was the B-side that really got Searling’s attention.

Northern soul music (uptempo American soul music in a sixties Motown vein yet without commercial success) had a large cult following in the northern England at that time, and Searling played the Gloria Jones b-side during his sets.

Northern soul fan David Ball loved the song. When he and his musical partner, Mark Almond, who together comprised the duo Soft Cell, were looking for a song to cover, they went with the Jones song, thinking it would be interesting for a synth band to cover a soul tune. Their record label asked them to add guitar, bass and drums to the track, but the duo refused. Despite this, the label put out the singer. Almond told Rolling Stone magazine “We thought if we were really lucky, we’d scrape into the top 75 in Britain. We didn’t think anything would happen over here [in the US].”

Soft Cell’s recording of “Tainted Love” became a smash worldwide. In the US, it spent 43 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100, a record at that time. Said Gloria Jones of the Soft Cell recording “Their version was far better than mine.”

Winston + Soft Cell
This week, Tunes du Jour celebrates Throwback Thursday with twenty great tunes from 1982, kicking off with Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love,” but first, check out Gloria Jones’ original:



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Grammy Nominations!

It seems that last week I was busy doing something close to nothing, so I didn’t get a chance to tell you who was nominated for Grammys this year. Here is the list, with my random thoughts thrown in:

Record of the Year
“Really Love” — D’Angelo and the Vanguard
“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

I’d give it to The Weeknd, but I wouldn’t mind if Mark Ronson or D’Angelo won. I’ve never heard this Taylor Swift fella so I can’t vote for him. I have heard Ed Sheeran so I can’t vote for him.

Song of the Year
“Alright” — Kendrick Lamar (written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams)
“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift (written by Max Martin, Shellback and Taylor Swift)
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town (written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose)
“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (written by Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth and Cameron Thomaz)
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran (written by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge)

Kendrick’s “Alright” is more than alright and I have a boy crush on Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” As for “See You Again,” I hope I never hear it again. I’m not going to say what I think of Ed Sheeran out loud. This Taylor Swift fella’s songs are not on Spotify, which is why nobody knows who he is.

Album of the Year
Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
To Pimp a Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar
Traveller — Chris Stapleton
1989 — Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind the Madness — The Weeknd

To Pimp a Butterfly is the best album of 2015, but the category is called Album of the Year, not Best Album of the Year. The Weeknd’s album had its moments, and I have no beef with Alabama Shakes. I wouldn’t know a Chris Stapleton song if it hit me in the ears, but I loved Jean Stapleton on All in the Family. And there’s that Taylor Swift fella again, who will probably win Album of the Year as he named his album after a year, the sneaky devil. Maybe then he’ll finally start getting some press.

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Last year Meghan Trainor was nominated for Record of the Year for “All About That Bass.” However, per the Recording Academy, to be eligible for a Best New Artist nomination “a person or band must have or have not released an album, song, or spoken a single word any time during their life, after their life, or never.” I’m voting for Courtney Barnett, who has been putting out music since 2012, for Best New Artist of 2015. Regarding the others up for this award, I’ve heard of Sam Hunt but haven’t heard any of his or her music, and James Bay and Tori Kelly are names the Academy made up so there would be five nominees.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Ship to Wreck” — Florence + The Machine
“Sugar” — Maroon 5
“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Bad Blood” — Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth

Are they going to have this Taylor Swift fella perform on the Grammy Awards telecast so the world can see what he looks like? I’d give this award to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. If Maroon 5 or Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth win, somebody’s going to get hurt.

Best Pop Solo Performance
“Heartbeat Song” — Kelly Clarkson
“Love Me Like You Do” — Ellie Goulding
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space”— Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

Is Taylor Swift that guy from the Twilight movies?

Best Pop Vocal Album
Piece By Piece — Kelly Clarkson
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful — Florence + The Machine
Uptown Special — Mark Ronson
1989 — Taylor Swift
Before This World — James Taylor

James Taylor? What just happened? Is Taylor Swift the guy who wrote Gulliver’s Travels back in the 1700s?

Best Rap Collaboration
“One Man Can Change The World” — Big Sean featuring Kanye West and John Legend
“Glory” — Common and John Legend
“Classic Man” — Jidenna featuring Roman GianArthur
“These Walls” — Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat
“Only” — Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown

Where’s Taylor Swift’s nomination?

Best Rap Song
“All Day” — Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney (written by Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Tyler Bryant, Kendrick Duckworth, Karim Kharbouch, Ernest Brown, Cydel Young, Victor Mensah, Allan Kyariga, Mike Dean, Che Pope, Noah Goldstein, Allen Ritter, Mario Winans, Charles Njapa, Malik Yusef Jones, Patrick Reynolds, Rennard East and Noel Ellis)
“Alright — Kendrick Lamar (written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams)
“Energy” — Drake (written by Richard Dorfmeister, A. Graham, Markus Kienzl, M. O’Brien, M. Samuels and Phillip Thomas)
“Glory” — Common and John Legend (written by Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith and John Stephens)
“Trap Queen” — Fetty Wap (written by Tony Fadd & Willie J. Maxwell)

It’s about time Grandmaster Paul McCartney was nominated for Best Rap Song, though the fact that it took 19 people to write it diminishes what is otherwise a perfectly so-so track. MC Paul McC is up against some heavyweights, so he’ll need to keep trying for the rap trophy because this won’t be his year.

Best Rap Album
2014 Forest Hills Drive — J. Cole
Compton — Dr. Dre
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late — Drake
To Pimp a Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar
The Pinkprint — Nicki Minaj

Kendrick. Anna Kendrick.

Best Rap Performance
“Apparently” — J. Cole
“Back to Back” — Drake
“Trap Queen” — Fetty Wap
“Alright” — Kendrick Lamar
“Truffle Butter” — Nicki Minaj featuring Drake and Lil Wayne
“All Day” – Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney

Eddie Kendricks.

Best Country Album
Montevallo — Sam Hunt
Pain Killer — Little Big Town
The Blade — Ashley Monroe
Pageant Material — Kacey Musgraves
Traveller — Chris Stapleton

Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift.

Best Country Solo Performance
“Burning House” — Cam
“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton
“Little Toy Guns” — Carrie Underwood
“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ — Keith Urban
“Chances Are” — Lee Ann Womack

Hedy Lamarr or Elizabeth Taylor.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Stay a Little Longer” — Brothers Osborne
“If I Needed You” — Joey + Rory
“The Driver” — Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley, Eric Paslay
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town
“Lonely Tonight” — Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe

Hedley Lamarr or Motel the Tailor.

Best Country Song
“Chances Are” — Lee Ann Womack (written by Hayes Carll)
“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” — Tim McGraw (written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton)
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town (written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose)
“Hold My Hand” — Brandy Clark (written by Brandy Clark and Mark Stephen Jones)
“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton (written by Chris Stapleton)

Swifty Lazar or Lord and Taylor.

Best Rock Album
Chaos and the Calm — James Bay
Kintsugi — Death Cab for Cutie
Mister Asylum — Highly Suspect
Drones — Muse
.5: The Gray Chapter — Slipknot

Laser Hair Removal or Tailor On Premises.

Best Dance Recording
“We’re All We Need” — Above and Beyond featuring Zoë Johnston
“Go” — The Chemical Brothers
“Never Catch Me” — Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Runaway (U & I)” — Galantis
“Where Are Ü Now” — Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber

Laser Beams – oh, wait. Kendrick Lamar really is nominated in this category.

Best Rock Performance
“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes
“What Kind of Man” — Florence + The Machine
“Something From Nothing” — Foo Fighters
“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King
“Moaning Lisa Smile” — Wolf Alice

What happened to that Taylor Swift fella? He hasn’t been nominated in the last few categories. The Academy built him up and then knocked him right back down.

Best Rock Song
“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes (written by Alabama Shakes)
“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King (written by Dave Bassett and Elle King)
“Hold Back the River” — James Bay (written by Iain Archer and James Bay)
“Lydia” — Highly Suspect (written by Richard Meyer, Ryan Meyer and Johnny Stevens)
“What Kind of Man” — Florence + The Machine (written John Hill, Tom Hull and Florence Welch)

I find these nominees highly suspect. Who is Highly Suspect? Isn’t James Bay the guy who directed Avatar and Transformers? I like the Elle King song, but she’s Rob Schneider’s daughter (seriously!), so give the award to Alabama Shakes or Florence.

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Our Love — Caribou
Born in the Echoes — The Chemical Brothers
Caracal — Disclosure
In Colour — Jamie XX
Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü — Skrillex And Diplo

I’m rooting for – hold on, the phone is ringing.

Best R&B Song
“Coffee” — Miguel (written by Brook Davis and Miguel Pimente)
“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” — The Weeknd (written by Ahmad Balshe, Stephan Moccio, Jason Quenneville and Abel Tesfaye)
“Let It Burn” — Jazmine Sullivan (written by Kenny B. Edmonds, Jazmine Sullivan and Dwane M. Weir II)
“Really Love” — D’Angelo and the Vanguard (written by D’Angelo and Kendra Foster)
“Shame” — Tyrese (written by Warryn Campbell, Tyrese Gibson and DJ Rogers Jr,)

Jazmine Sullivan put out a record this year? I don’t think so. Tyrese put out a record this year? Yeah, sure he did! I’m okay with any of the folks who actually released a record this year winning.

Best R&B Performance
“If I Don’t Have You” — Tamar Braxton
“Rise Up” — Andra Day
“Breathing Underwater” — Hiatus Kaiyote
“Planes” — Jeremih featuring J. Cole
“Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” — The Weeknd

This is The Weeknd’s to lose. I don’t know the other nominated songs, but I imagine they’re boring and Hiatus Kaiyote is not a real thing.

Best R&B Album
Coming Home — Leon Bridges
Black Messiah — D’Angelo and the Vanguard
Cheers to the Fall — Andra Day
Reality Show — Jazmine Sullivan
Forever Charlie — Charlie Wilson

If D’Angelo doesn’t win then the terrorists have won.

Best Alternative Music Album
Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
Vulnicura — Björk
The Waterfall — My Morning Jacket
Currents — Tame Impala
Star Wars — Wilco

[Insert play on names Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift here.]

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Ego Death — The Internet
You Should Be Here — Kehlani
Blood — Lianne La Havas
Wildheart — Miguel
Beauty Behind the Madness — The Weeknd

You can Google Kehlani and found out who or what that is. You can Google Lianne La Havas and find out who or what that is. You can Google The Internet and NOT LEARN A GODDAMN THING ABOUT WHO OR WHAT THAT IS. When you’re done Googling, face the fact that this category is a two-person contest between Miguel and The Weeknd.

Best Spoken Word Album
Blood On Snow (Jo Nesbø) – Patti Smith
Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, And Assorted Hijinks – Dick Cavett
A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety – Jimmy Carter
Patience And Sarah (Isabel Miller) – Janis Ian and Jean Smart
Yes Please – Amy Poehler

This is Patti Smith’s first Grammy nomination. The woman who co-wrote “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen and made it a top fifteen pop hit and classic rock staple has never been nominated previously for a Grammy. The woman whose 1975 release Horses consistently appears on All Time Best Albums lists receives her first Grammy nomination in 2015 for reading a book out loud, a book somebody else wrote at that! This is a real category??? Too bad Smith is going to lose this award to former president Jimmy Carter who, great man that he is, does not have a “Piss Factory” in him.

Today’s playlists is made up of twenty selections that were not nominated for Grammy Awards. Not for Song of the Year, not for Record of the year, not for vocal performance in any genre, nor were the albums on which these tracks initially appeared nominated under any genre. Listen to these losers!


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It’s Black Friday And I Need To Dance!

What do people want more than anything else? Love, perhaps. When songwriter/Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. asked “What do people want most?,” his writing partner Janie Bradford answered “Money. That’s what I want.”

A song was born, a classic that became the first hit for Gordy’s Motown Records, with singer Barrett Strong taking “Money (That’s What I Want)” to #23 in 1960.

Ringo + Lizards
Twenty years after Strong hit with it, UK band The Flying Lizards took a cover of “Money” to #50 on the US pop chart. Their version also made the dance chart. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance! – College Reunion Edition

Brandeis ID
On the Facebook page for my thirty-year college reunion, which is coming up this June, someone brought up the music that reminds them of our college days. Many posts followed, naming songs that remind us of shared experiences at Brandeis University in the first half of the 1980s.

That post inspired today’s playlist. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and today I present 50 songs we danced to in the Usdan Ballroom at Brandeis University between the fall of 1981 and the spring of 1985. It was a great time for popular music. These songs have stood the test of time.

Have a great weekend!

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It’s Limahl’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Limahl
Young Chris Hamill was not popular at school. Expelled for disrupting class, the teen boy transferred to a new school, where the kids pointed out his effeminacy. Always the last one picked in sports, Hamill’s confidence level dropped. Discovering he was gay didn’t help. Unhappy at school, he became a loner, escaping into his music.

After leaving school Hamill pursued acting. He landed a few roles, but music was where his passion truly lied. Hamill reinvented himself. He rearranged the letters of his last name and became Limahl, the cutieface pop singer. He was recruited by a band named Art Nouveau. With Limahl on board, the group changed their name to KajaGooGoo.

While working as a waiter at London’s Embassy Club, Limahl met Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. He gave Rhodes the group’s demo tape. Rhodes took it to his record label, EMI, who signed them.

In January 1983, EMI released the group’s Rhodes-produced debut single, “Too Shy.” It went to #1 in the UK and reached #5 in the US. At this time, Limahl kept his sexual orientation secret. “I wasn’t embarrassed about being gay, but my role as Limahl, my pop star role, had to be more enigmatic. I didn’t want to start talking about gay sex and gays in 1983 when most of our following was teenage girls.”

While “Too Shy” was on the US charts, the band completed a successful tour playing to 40,000 people in Finland. The following day, Limahl was fired from the group by its other members. About Limahl, KajaGooGoo guitarist Steve Askew said “His lifestyle is so different from ours. We’re very normal people whereas Limahl likes the bright lights.” Limahl, shocked by his dismissal, felt he was let go for being too cute and turning the group into a pop band solely for teens.

Following his sacking from KajaGooGoo, Limahl had a solo hit in 1985 with the theme from the film The NeverEnding Story. That song will kick off the dance playlist for today, Limahl’s 56th birthday.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

In 2003, Rhino Entertainment moved me from New York City to Los Angeles to head up their Licensing department. I miss Manhattan’s energy and fashion sense and anything-at-any-hour way of life, but most of all, I miss my friends. And I miss our Bad Movie Days.

Not only do I love a good bad song; I also enjoy a good bad movie, as do a core group of my friends. We would meet at either my place or Kathy’s place every few Sundays and stay in, even if it was beautiful outside, and enjoy Glitter or Staying Alive or Body of Evidence, followed by a second feature, usually Showgirls.

Unlike a bad song, which I can enjoy in my solitude, a bad movie usually is more enjoyable with company. I’m not sure I would be able to sit through Skyscaper, in which Anna Nicole Smith starred as a hostage negotiator, if I didn’t have my friends with me to razz the screen, particularly during the scenes where Anna Nicole walked past an office and the film would dissolve to a flashback sequence of the time she had sex on that office’s desk.

I can enjoy a bad musical on my own. While my friends enjoyed Grease 2, with its extended production number about bowling, they were not as enamored as I am of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Still, when I watched Mamma Mia on HBO alone in my Los Angeles condo, I knew my friends would share my joy at this amazing cinematic feat, particularly when Pierce Brosnan sang “S.O.S.”

One of my favorite bad movies is Can’t Stop the Music. It stars the Village People. I’ll let that sink in before I go on. Ready? It also stars Bruce Jenner, in a cropped t-shirt and Daisy Dukes. And Steve Guttenberg and Valerie Perrine, with “special guests” (as they are billed in the credits) The Ritchie Family. The Ritchie Family, whose hits were “Best Disco in Town” and “Brazil,” get “special guest” billing. That’s how amazing this movie is. But wait, there’s more! The film was directed by Nancy Walker. Ida Morgenstern. Rosie, the Bounty Paper Towel shill. That Nancy Walker. Now you know you’re in for a treat.

Before I get into the movie, let me make clear that I LOVE The Village People, and not in a I love bad music way. I unabashedly enjoy their music. Not just the hits singles; there are Village People album cuts that have five stars in my iTunes library. I love this movie’s theme song.

As for the rest of the movie, well…. It’s sort of about the formation of the Village People, though 90 minutes into it you may ask “Will there be a plot anytime soon?” Then you’ll ask “Why is a Village People movie more than 90 minutes long?” We see the group’s auditions. I would have hired the guy in the blue jumpsuit who sang “Macho Man.” That said, I can’t deny the leatherman, whose profession we learn is toll collector at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (talk about a macho man!), sings a mean “Danny Boy.” We see the guys shoot a commercial for milk. We see..I’m going to lift a line from this movie’s Wikipedia entry – “Initially reluctant, Helen seduces Steve with her kreplach and before long they’re negotiating the T-shirt merchandising for the Japanese market.” We see them perform for an ecstatic crowd in San Francisco (oh, um, spoiler alert. That’s how it ends.) Best of all, we see a “Y.M.C.A.” production number as envisioned by Busby Berkeley and Esther Williams while vacationing on Fire Island.

Every Friday is dance music day on Tunes du Jour. Today we kick off the playlist with the timeless “Y.M.C.A.” Because it is still LGBT Pride Month, I made our dance party extra gay. Twirl!

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