Tag Archives: Vengaboys

Throwback Thursday – 1999

Eminem has often been accused of being homophobic. Maybe it’s because he rapped “I’ll still be able to break a motha-fuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Maybe it’s because he rapped “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez.” And “All you lil’ faggots can suck it / No homo, but I’ma stick it to ’em like refrigerator magnets.” And “Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.” And “You fags think it’s all a game.” Anyone can see how the artist born Marshall Mathers got labeled a homophobe, even if he pretends he doesn’t see it.

So it’s ironic that in his first hit single, the song that put him on the map and into the international consciousness, the music bed is based around a sample from an openly gay singer-songwriter.

“My Name Is” became Eminem’s first single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #36. Its music is taken from a 1975 release called “I Got the…,” written and performed by Labi Siffre. Siffre, who was born in England in 1945, says he knew he was gay since age four. He met his life partner, Peter John Carver Lloyd, in 1964. They remained a couple for 49 years, until Lloyd’s death in 2013.

Before Siffre would allow Eminem to use the sample, he made the rapper change some of the words on “My Name Is.” The lyric “My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high / The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy” became “My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high / Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be 35.” The lyric “Extraterrestrial killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’” became “Extraterrestrial running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”.” Said Siffre, “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated “all versions” but at that time knew little about rap’s “clean” & “explicit” modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album.”

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour revisits some of the musical highlights of 1999, kicking off with Eminem’s “My Name Is.”


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Who was the first woman to be on ten #1 singles in the UK? Was it Madonna? No. Was it Dusty Springfield? No. Was it Paris Hilton? Fuck no.

The first woman to have ten #1 singles in the UK was Geri Halliwell. The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger Spice first hit #1 in 1996 with “Wannabe,” which she performed as part of her fellow proponents of Girl Power, the Spice Girls. The quintet was the first act in the UK to see their first six singles go to #1, which is why they are better than The Beatles. After “Wannabe,” they topped the UK singles chart with “Say You’ll Be There,” “2 Become 1,” the double-sided hits “Mama” and “Who Do You Think You Are,” “Spice up Your Life,” “Too Much” and “Viva Forever.” 1998 single “Stop” er, stopped at #2. Halliwell left the group in 1998. The then quartet said goodbye to Ginger with “Goodbye,” another #1 single, and the double-sided hits “Holler” and “Let Love Lead the Way,” their final #1 single to date, in 2000.

While the quartet continued to make hits, Halliwell wasn’t just sitting around in her Union Jack leotard. Her debut solo single, “Look at Me,” peaked at #2, but then came four consecutive chart-toppers: “Mi Chico Latino,” “Lift Me Up,” “Bag It Up,” and a cover of “It’s Raining Men.” Hallelujah! She is the only act in the UK to have had at least four #1s as part of a group and as a solo artist.

Some additional trivia:
– Madonna’s tenth UK #1 single,”Music,” peaked a few months after Halliwell’s tenth UK #1 single, which was #1 on this day in 2000.
– Dusty Springfield had twenty-five top 40 hits on the UK singles chart. Only one, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” went all the way to the top.
– Paris Hilton has topped the UK singles chart zero times thus far.
– The Spice Girls have their moments, but they are not better than The Beatles. C’mon!
– In the US, Halliwell has had ten fewer #1s than she had in the UK. We kick off our weekly dance party with her only US #1, Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”

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Happy Britney Spears’ Birthday!

Britney Spears was the first recording artist to thank me in her CD booklet liner notes. The album was 2000’s Oops!…I Did It Again, which set a record when it sold over 1.3 million copies in the US its first week. At the time I was running the licensing department at Zomba Recording Corporation, parent company of Jive Records, to which Britney was signed. It was a great time to be at that company. I worked with smart, creative people, and I got to apply my skills to our superstar roster (Britney, Backstreet Boys, R. Kelly, NSYNC), enabling us to increase licensing revenue four-fold during my four years of employment there.

Britney plaque

When I started at Zomba, Britney was 17 years old and was on her second hit single, “Sometimes.” Today she turns 32. To date she has had 23 top forty hits in the US. Her latest album, Britney Jean, was released last week.

Enjoy today’s Britney-inspired playlist.

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