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MIKE'S DAILY JUKEBOX

MIKE'S DAILY JUKEBOX: August 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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Have You Changed The World? new Beyonce, Ryan Star, Yellowcard

"I WAS HERE"          BEYONCE'
Have you made a difference in the world?   What have you done in your life that you can look back at one day and proclaim, "I Was Here"?  Diane Warren penned this three minute opus as a declaration of "the hearts you touched" as proof that you helped make the world a better place.   Beyonce' recorded the song for her latest CD and just released the video for World Humanitarian Day.   Beyonce' performed the song in front of the United Nations! Can you imagine her thrill of being asked to sing in front of "the world" on its biggest stage?     The video highlights some humanitarian workers doing incredible things but often it's the smallest things we do that leave a lasting impression on someone's live.   We ALL make a difference.


"STAY AWHILE"     RYAN STAR
One of the finalists on the reality show, Rock Star: Supernova, looking for the new lead singer for INXS, Ryan Starr has continued making records looking for his big break.   He may have finally found it!   Just signed to Island Records, his new single, "Stay Awhile" has gone viral on YouTube this past week.    Ryan's previous label wasn't promoting him well, so he self-produced this sensual, inspirational video, caught the attention of Island Records, and after consulting with his friend, Jon Bon Jovi, made the jump.   One of Ryan's early tracks, Last Train Home, is one of my all-time movie soundtrack songs.

"ALMOST SUMMER"    YELLOWCARD
The Orlando pop punk band with the violin player are back!   Songs like "Oceans Avenue" and "Only One" generated a lot of buzz a few years ago but a couple of disappointing follow-up cd's took Yellowcard off our radar.  "Here I Am Alive", their new single feels like a Cobra Starship reject, a pop ditty that's fun but no substance.  Just when I think they've lost that edge that made them special, "Almost Summer" rocks a little harder, brings back their signature violin sound, and "Southern Air", their new CD, looks like it could be a return to their glory days.


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Woo Hoo! Led Zeppelin Goes Reggae: Blur, Mushmellow (Britney Cover), Led Zeppelin

"SONG #2"           BLUR
Clocking in at only 2:02, one of the 90's greatest indie rock anthems has two verses, two choruses, and two bridges.    It's the second song, second single on their second album.    Hmmmm, I'm getting a good idea how their title "Song #2" was chosen.     Let's see how good you are at trivia, how high did this song make it to on the UK charts?   Yes, you guessed right (#2!)   Woo Hoo!    The song has lived on in video games, movies (great Charlies Angel's scene with Drew Barrymore), and commercials.   "Song #2" was actually conceived as a parody song of the grunge explosion and ironically began knocking those types of songs off the radio.



"D'YER MAKER"     LED ZEPPELIN
Zeppelin fans didn't love this track when it first came out.  Led Zeppelin does reggae?    When Houses Of The Holy was released, fans were surprised to hear their change in style, bassist John Paul Jones was embarrassed by it, and Zep never played it live in concert.   Yet, the song has become a classic rock favorite.    The song was recorded at Mick Jagger's Stargroves home in England and John Bonham tried to mix a 50's doo wop beat with a little Jamaican soul.   If you want to hear a travesty, google Sheryl Crow's cover version of the song complete with an accordion solo.


"TOXIC"     MUSHMELLOW
The Beatles recorded "Back In The USSR" with the line, "The Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the west behind....."  well, a real life Ukranian rock band show us how special those girls are in this video.   Alex Mushmellow Zhuravel lived in Seattle during the grunge period and mixed that sound with his Russian rock band roots for a dynamic cover of the Britney Spears #1 hit.   The video maintains the theme of enticing girls except this time it's on a Russian train instead of a plane.  I was introduced to this song by a special mix CD given to me a couple of years ago, great song to play at high volume!







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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mikesdailyjukebox.com is the new website address

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Roll Up The Windows, Don't Let Them Hear: Queen, MC Hammer, Air Supply, Rehab with Hank Williams Jr.

"TURN THIS MUTHA OUT"   MC HAMMER
When I first moved to Florida, I went to a concert at the Thunderdome, as it was known at the time, now it's Tropicana Field, home of the Rays.   SWV, Oaktown 357, Boyz II Men, and the headliner, MC Hammer.   If you're into old school rap, you've got to love this 1990 jam.   "Hammer, You ain't hitting in New York, So what you gonna do about that, Hammer??" ---- "I'm gonna turn this mutha out!!!"     A total entertainer, the man with the best moves of the decade (well up there with Michael Jackson), and a rapper for the fans.    It may not be cool anymore but I always crank this one up!



"SOMEBODY TO LOVE"    QUEEN

When you pull up next to a guy's car, you can learn a lot  from the music blasting from his stereo.   Queen is one of those bands that probably every guy loves a bunch of their songs but  doesn't go around telling anyone.   "Somebody To Love" opens with a Freddie Mercury falsetto, an operatic choir, and a twinkling of piano keys.   But you have to crank up one of the best rock songs of the 70's!


"BARTENDER SONG"   REHAB
You've got to smile at how this band got their name.  Three musicians with drug and alcohol issues met in rehab, decided to form a band, and guess what they chose!   In 2008, they re-wrote an earlier song of theirs called "Sittin In A Bar", remixed it with Hank Williams Jr. and scored a top 40 hit.   It's a little twangy and corny but it's so much fun!


 

"SWEET DREAMS"    AIR SUPPLY
On Saturday Night Live, they loved to make fun of the effeminate guys in Air Supply.  But give this song a listen and there is so much going on!  Great musical textures, layering of vocals with keyboards, mixed with timeless lyrics, "Sweet Dreams" is 80's gold.  Plus the vintage video set in their native Australia perfectly captured the time period.  The band is still alive and well, although their audience is older.  I even caught them selling CDs on Home Shopping Network or QVC one time.
 

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Billy Corgan Takes A Shot At Soundgarden, Stick A Fork In Limp Bizkit: Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Limp Bizkit


"DISARM"              SMASHING PUMPKINS
The Smashing Pumpkins released a new CD, Oceania, last month that has received excellent reviews.  Their new music adds to their legacy with an updated sound that is as relevant as any new bands in 2012.   While they're back in the spotlight, Billy Corgan took a moment to take a shot at Chris Cornell's band this week.   With Soundgarden ready to release their first new CD in what feels like forever, Billy said, " When Soundgarden came back and they just played their old songs, great. I was a fan of Soundgarden, but call it for what it is. They’re just out there to have one more round at the till; same with Pavement and these other bands."   Here's looking back at two of the best videos of the 90's.

"SPOONMAN"           SOUNDGARDEN

This summer, the latest Soundgarden song, "Live To Rise", was released on the Avengers soundtrack.  Hmmm, it was ok, typical.   I'm hoping Billy's wrong and Chris Cornell steps it up and conjures another grunge classic.   Their album is scheduled for November 13th.   Guitarist, Kim Thayil, said the music will reestablish that Soundgarden is "still heavy and a little weird".   Two track titles leaked are:  "A Thousand Days Before" and "Blood On The Valley Floor".

"REARRANGED"      LIMP BIZKIT

Fred Durst announced this week that Limp Bizkit is over.   Fred said, "Here's the deal: say in 2000, there were 35 million people who connected to this band. Twelve years later, lots of those people have moved on. We were a moment in time and it's over."    Limp Bizkit signed with Lil Wayne's Cash Money records in May and plans to release 2 more CD's but Fred acknowledges their time in the spotlight has passed them by. Here's a favorite of mine back in the day, a retired TRL video classic.  Fred's sporting his signature red Yankees cap, quoting the now ironic line, "Thank God it's over!" 




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Friday, August 24, 2012

Bob Marley's Legacy: Bob Marley, Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley, Damian Marley, Rohan Marley

Name any genre of music and you'll never find another artist who dominated their style more than Bob Marley embodies Reggae.   Time Magazine named Exodus, the greatest album of the 20th Century.    His greatest hits CD, Legend, has been one of the top selling albums each year since 1984.  Bob Marley's influence on the culture of Jamaica cannot be understated.
  

A recent documentary, MARLEY, has received amazing reviews and I'm sure it will be nominated for a documentary Oscar  in 2013.   His influence and legend grows exponentially thanks to his talented children who share his love of reggae and carry on the Rastafari movement.  

Like a giant tree with many branches, the Marley name continues to grow yearly. Here's a tribute to the Marley Family.

 
"NO WOMAN, NO CRY"    BOB MARLEY



"TRUE TO MYSELF"    ZIGGY (oldest son)

"IN LOVE WITH YOU"  STEPHEN MARLEY with ERYKAH BADU

"AFFAIRS OF THE HEART"   DAMIAN MARLEY

MIAMI HURRICANES LINEBACKER, ROHAN MARLEY!!!!   Rammstein's Du Hast with big hits by Rohan, FYI #94 is Dwayne Johnson, The Rock.

"COULD YOU BE LOVED"     ALL 5 MARLEY BOYS!


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Daughtry Song For Famine Relief: AFI, Deepfield

"RESCUE ME"       DAUGHTRY
On his 2012 American Tour, Chris Daughtry has been playing an uplifiting new song, "Rescue Me", track #10 on "Break The Spell".   The song has been remixed with an intro from Chris asking if you want to be a superhero, here's your chance.   It's been released as a charity single for African famine relief.  You can contribute to the worthy cause:  Here's the link:  "The International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and Mercy Corps are partnering with DC Entertainment as part of We Can be Heroes. Together, we aim to help millions of people suffering the effects of drought and famine in Africa."


"DON'T LET GO"     DEEPFIELD
As you can tell from my blog, I love a great cover song.  Here's a newer hard rock band tackling an emotional R&B 90's jam from En Vogue.    Dawn Robinson's soulful vocals are replaced by the grungy vocals of Deepfield's Baxter Teal.    This cover song was never released as a single but radio played it a few times.   Deepfield hasn't hit it big yet but has received a lot of exposure as the opening act for bands like Puddle of Mudd, Tantric, and Shinedown.   Don't get fooled by the video, it's not Deepfield, they didn't feel the song deserved a video :(   So some fans rocked out a home version and it's really good!

 "THE LEAVING SONG PART ii"     AFI
In 2011, lead singer, Davey Haduk announced online that AFI had split up. Shortly later, the online post was deleted and rumors were the band was still together.  It's been almost a year and the band still hasn't performed together so the mystery of AFI's future remains.   Back in the mid 2000's, A Fire Inside was dominating rock radio with hits like Miss Murder, Love Like Winter, and The Girl's Not Grey.  Their biggest hit, "The Leaving Song Part II", was prominently featured in the Madden 2004 NFL video game.   In a brilliant marketing move, bands have been adding songs to video game soundtracks for years and introduced themselves to hardcore fans.  I can say first-hand that it definitely introduced me to bands like Seether, Yellowcard, and AFI.





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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting For The New Justin Timberlake CD?: Monica, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith

"SENORITA"     JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
Why isn't Justin Timberlake releasing a new CD?   It's been rumored that he's working on a follow up to his 2006 FutureSex/LoveSounds multi-platinum CD.   Yet, in an interview with Playboy Magazine, Justin said he loves writing music but he's jaded by how "making music becomes a total life-sucking commitment".   There is no definite update about a new CD, but I'm sure many like me would love to see some new JT this upcoming year!   Here's Senorita from his debut disc, complete with a Latin flavored Pharell beat, cowbell in the chorus, and a bevy of hot female dancers in the video.


"1000 KISSES"    WILL SMITH and JADA PINKETT SMITH
Despite the divorce rumors, Jada Pinkett Smith says of her husband, Will, they're "still heavily in love" and "these silly rumors get started every year or two".   For fifteen years, Will and Jada have been a Hollywood couple you want to root for.   Hear them talk about their kids, Jaden and Willow, and you can see that they're strict but loving.    Will even got Jada to SING on a 2003 record called "1000 Kisses".   The playful, sexy video is adorable with the happy couple bringing back some silly 80's dance moves.   Jada has always looked stunningly beautiful, but especially so in this hidden treasure song!



"BELIEVING IN ME"     MONICA
Back in the mid 90's, a thirteen year old Monica was taking the R&B world by storm.   "Don't Take It Personal" and "The Boy Is Mine" with Brandy topped the charts.   Every new CD brought more personal issues into Monica's life and by 2003 she took a break from the music industry.  She stormed back in 2010 with a BET reality TV show documenting her comeback and a new CD, Still Standing.   The album featured many songs of empowerment and taking back your life, here's the haunting break-up song "Believing In Me":

LYRICS:  
Didn't know that I was selling my soul
To someone who didn't care at all
Couldn't see that you were bad for me
Gave so much that it was making me weak
Now I can't believe the way that it feels to finally be free
[Chorus:]
I've moved on
And I'm strong
I'm going back to the place
Where I know I belong
And I'm glad that your gone
Cause your not what I need
I'm believing in me

 


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Next Adele? : Emeli Sande', Three Days Grace, Pistol Annies,Green Day

"MY KIND OF LOVE"  EMELI SANDE'
The "next Beyonce"?   The "next Adele"?    Emeli Sande released her debut CD in England and it shot straight to #1.   Internationally, she is one of the biggest selling artists of 2012.  She writes and composes all of her music and doesn't use her image or sexuality to sell it, just her incredible vocal skills. Here in the States she's still a relative unknown.   Check out her slow jam, "My Kind Of Love" and you feel the emotional impact of Adele's Someone Like You especially with the cancer theme of the video.  "Next To Me" reminds me of Adele's Rolling In The Deep.  She'll be performing on Jay Leno Wednesday night. Mark my words, Emeli Sande' will be nominated for a lot of Grammy Awards in 2013!  


"OH LOVE"     GREEN DAY  


"TAKIN' PILLS"   PISTOL ANNIES
Traditional country music twang is alive and well with Miranda Lambert leading the way.  Coming off their smash debut single, "Hell On Heels", the trio is back with another sly come-on, "Takin' Pills".   Give the song more than one listen and you're hooked!   Besides Miranda, Ashley Monroe ("I Don't Want To") and Angeleena Presley make up the all-girl country band.   You've got to respect that they wrote every song on the CD, play guitar, and  challenge country music with their mix of classic country with a splash of sexy attitude.


"CHALK OUTLINE"   THREE DAYS GRACE
"Transit Of Venus" will be released on October 2nd, marking the 4th CD for the Canadian modern rock band, Three Days Grace.    Basing the album off of "Chalk Outline", we can expect another album of aggressive hard rock riffs, radio friendly hooks, and hopefully a tour to support the CD.  The band promises they took some chances and got experimental this time around.   "Transit Of Venus" refers to a once in a lifetime experience when Venus and the moon align in a certain way.




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Monday, August 20, 2012

Teen Suicide Hits Home: Judas Priest, Staind, Kix, Good Charlotte

"YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER THING COMING"   JUDAS PRIEST

I've recently heard of two local teenagers who chose to end their lives. Suicide is #3 on the cause of deaths for those 15 to 24 yrs old.  It's estimated that there are 25 failed attempts for every 1 death.  It's hard to even imagine how someone could be SO depressed to make this eternal decision. Even after their death, questions remain.  These are young people with years of life ahead, so much potential, amazing opportunities yet unknown to them!  Heavy Metal has often been slammed in the press for their lyrics.  Yet, Judas Priest's 80's metal anthem describes living life to the max, "you think I'll sit around and let life pass me by, you're thinking like a fool".   The energy and passion in Rob Halford's performance gets your heart beating fast, your fist pumping, and you're ready to take on the world!  Life takes turns we don't always see coming but things always eventually get better.  "Out there is a fortune waiting to be had, if you think I'll let you go, you're mad!  You've got another thing coming!"




"WASTE"    STAIND
Those who commit suicide have written in their final letters that they wanted to end all of the pain.   Yet, by making a selfish decision to end their precious life, this reeks havoc on all of those in your life who live on with the tragic memory of what you did.   One young man in Peoria, Illinois, hung himself and died while listening to a continous loop of another Staind song, "Outside".  For more on the story check on this link.  Aaron Lewis didn't hold back any punches or emotion when he wrote "Waste" as a sort of retaliation for that young man's decision.   

"HOLD ON"   GOOD CHARLOTTE
Christmas 2003, Good Charlotte was the flavor of the month pop punk band.  Capitalizing on their success, they reached out to help their fans and truly make a difference with the fifth single on the Young & Hopeless CD.  "Hold On" was written in response to letters from their fans who had contemplated suicide.   The song is great but the video with clips of parents, best friends, and brothers/sisters describing their experiences will wake up anyone with thoughts of death.  Good Charlotte has become a "whatever happened to" band.   Now, the twin brothers, Joel and Benji Madden, are probably most known for their dating exploits with Hillary Duff, Sophie Monk, Holly Madison, Paris Hilton, and one of them is now married to Nicole Richie. 

 
"DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES"   KIX
As the 80's glam metal era was ending, Kix was gaining their popularity.   "Cold Blood", "Blow My Fuse", and "Don't Close Your Eyes" were staples on MTV's Headbanger's Ball.   The power ballad I chose is an anti-suicide hard rock classic. Haters want to slam metal's lyrics, but you've got to love a  hook line that comforts:   "Don't close your eyes, don't sing your last lullaby, hold on, hold on tight, I'll make everything alright".   As I start another year teaching, I hope my students take advantage of their opportunities ahead, enjoy their youthful energy, and make the absolute most out of life.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Election, Rock The Vote: Rage Against The Machine, One Less Reason, Royal Bliss

"BULLS ON PARADE"    RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

With the 2012 election around the corner, actors and musicians will be taking sides supporting the candidate of their choice.    Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against The Machine, has always been not only one of the greatest guitarists of all-time but one of music's leading political activists.   Tom supported the Occupy Wall Street movement, actively campaigned for political candidates, sued the U.S. government over the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and has kept up the fight for increased immigration rights.    On the classic RATM track, "Bulls On Parade", Tom asks how extravagant sums of money can be spent on the military when their own people suffer and starve.   It's a biting statement when you learn the U.S. spends almost more on their military (42% of worldwide expenditures) than ALL other countries combined.  Yet,our country is facing record unemployment, rising gas prices, and an ever-growing debt.   "They rally around the family with a pocket full of shells". 


"A DAY TO BE ALONE"          ONE LESS REASON
Prepare yourself, your jaw will drop in awe and your heart will sink after hearing this uber-emotional song by the Tennessee indie band, One Less Reason.   They're currently unsigned, how is that possible?   Dealing with a bad breakup or a relationship with an individual who drains your energy, perfect song for you.  Here's some of the lyrics: 
"Tell me about those nights you stayed awake,
Tell me about those days you hated me,
Tell me how you'd rather die alone
Than being stuck here with me
And maybe you've fallen down
And maybe you just took the long way home
But baby you could never love you like me
And one day this will fade away
In the mirror you'll see a smiling face
And standing next to you will always be me, yeah me
"



"CRAZY"    ROYAL BLISS
"Yeah, I'm crazy for you baby, can't you see?   I'm wondering if you're crazy just like me?"   Not sure if you're going to win many points with your girlfriend asking if she's crazy, but I love the slow build and how Royal Bliss create a love song with an edge.    This comes from the 2012 CD, "Waiting Out The Storm".   It's a GOOD CD but I highly recommend their previous GREAT CD, "Life In-Between".   Royal Bliss is based out of the Northwest U.S. and they've been called the "unluckiest band in the world" for all of the personal tragedies they've dealt with.  I'm a big fan and still keeping an eye open for their major breakthrough. 

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Alicia Keys Discography: Favorite Song On Each CD

2001  "A WOMAN'S WORTH" from Songs In A Minor
Five Grammy wins for Alicia's debut album!   Comparisons to Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, and Stevie Wonder after only one CD.   Alicia didn't jump on the hip hop rap bandwagon, she faithfully stuck to her classically trained roots and released an album that crossed multiple genres.   Jazzy tones, 70's funk, neo-soul styling, piano ballads, old school New York hip hop beats, yet kept it all contemporary and urban.   She even threw in a Prince cover.  It felt vintage and new at the same time.  The two singles are legendary, the gospel-tinged advice to the guys, "A Woman's Worth" and "Falling" with Alicia showing off her vocal capabilities. Alicia said she wrote Falling to describe the roller coaster nature of a relationship when she said, "Sometimes, you're completely head-over-heels in love with someone, and sometimes you can't stand that person. You fall in and out".  The remix of the CD including a Top 10 Hip Hop jam with Eve called "Gangsta Lovin" which only added to her mystique. 


2003  "IF I WERE YOUR WOMAN / WALK ON BY"  from       The Diary Of Alicia Keys
No sophomore slump for Alicia.  Her 2nd CD debuted at #1, sold eight million copies worldwide, and three more Grammy awards including Best R&B album.   "If I Ain't Got You", "You Don't Know My Name" (written with a young Kanye West), and "Karma" all exploded on the pop charts.   My two favorite songs are a sexy two minute interlude called "Feeling You, Feeling Me" (previous blog) and her mashup of "If I Were Your Woman/Walk On By".  Paying homage to Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick, Alicia updated the beats and increased the urgency of the lyrics.   

DAILY MUSIC TRIVIA:  I was asked this question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, what 80's TV show did a six year old Alicia Keys guest star on?   Yesterday: 

2007  "LIKE YOU'LL NEVER SEE ME AGAIN" from As I Am
Alicia's third album lived up to lofty expectations becoming the the Number One selling CD of 2008.  You couldn't turn on the radio and not hear her optimistic love song, "No One".   She teamed up with John Mayer for "Lesson Learned" and "Teenage Love Affair" became two more R&B hits.  Like some critics, I found Alicia's third album a little poppy and overall not as strong as her first two releases.   But there was still some amazing songs on it like "Tell You Something" (Nana's Theme) which featured Alicia crooning at the piano.  My favorite song, "Like You'll Never See Me Again" was enhanced by an award winning video with Common.  The visuals are as amazing as the record's message. 

 
2009 "DISTANCE AND TIME" from The Element Of Freedom
Perhaps a backlash or an audience looking for Alicia to challenge her potential more, The Element Of Freedom, became her first release to NOT hit #1.    Many of the songs were sensitive ballads, the words "moody" and "delicate" describe the feel of the album as a whole.   One bright spot was the production by Swiss Beatz, who fell in love with Alicia during the recording session.   Their affair ignited a media frenzy, yet, they have since married and welcomed a beautiful boy into the world.  Her version of Jay-Z's tribute to NYC, "Empire State of Mind Part 2" and "Wait Until You See My Smile" are stand out tracks.   The pinnacle of the disc, "Distance And Time", perfectly describes those lonely moments when the one you love is away from you and you're counting the moments until they return, the tone harkens back to her dynamic debut CD.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Deliver Me: Opera mixes with modern music: U2, Pavarotti, Sarah Brightman, Elton John, Martina McBride, Jim Brickman

"DELIVER ME"     SARAH BRIGHTMAN

One of the most accomplished and powerful voices in music history, Sarah Brightman can hit THREE octaves and has recorded in almost a dozen different languages.   She's the voice of "Phantom Of The Opera", "Evita", "Cats", and is the go-to soprano for many of Andrew Lloyd Webber's epic productions.    I'm not a big fan of classical music or Broadway but I caught a duet of Sarah with of all people, KISS' Paul Stanley, and wanted to learn more.    I was reminded of her breathtaking earthquake charity single, Deliver Me, complete with a angelic choir and backing by Enya.    




"MISS SARAJAVO"     U2 with PAVAROTTI
When people tell me they hate country music or they hate rap,......I often tell them, it may not be your favorite genre but I take as a challenge to find some crossover song that they'd love.  For me, operatic music can be painful to my ears.   My iPod of 20,000 songs has about 15 opera type songs on it, but there is something so magical about the collaboration with Bono and Pavarotti on "Miss Sarajavo".    A song about the war-torn starving people who struggled to survive while the Serbian/Bosnian political conflict raged on for years.   During a Miss Bosnia beauty pageant, one contestant held up a sign saying "Don't Let Them Kill Us".     The imagery is striking and captured in this video.
   
"VALENTINE"    JIM BRICKMAN Ft. MARTINA McBRIDE
Flipping channels on your TV, you might have stumbled across the PBS Telethons to raise money to keep their network on the air.   Jim Brickman was featured on a PBS special, Jim is a subtle master at the piano and has created some of most beautiful romantic love songs of all-time.    He's collaborated with artists as diverse as Olivia Newton John, Christian artist Michael W. Smith, Lady Antebellum, even Wayne Brady had a big hit with Brickman.   His music has been described as "new age", greeting card music, but there is no denying the power of his first and biggest hit with Martina McBride.

"YOUR SONG"  (Charity Single)   ELTON JOHN with ALESSANDRO SAFINA
In case you missed my very first blog, here's Elton John singing one of my all-time favorite songs, remixed with a children's choir and opera superstar, Alessandro Safina.  Click the above link to see an incredible piece of music history.



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Thursday, August 16, 2012

80's Rock Songs That Deserved Better: Journey, Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, Twisted Sister

"STONE IN LOVE"     JOURNEY
"Those crazy nights I do remember in my youth, those were the best times".  When you think of Journey, the Escape album and their three massive hits, Don't Stop Believin', Open Arms, and Who's Crying Now, are probably the first songs that come to your mind.   Escape (actually titled E5C4P3) sold close to 10 million copies, heck, they even made an Atari video game based on the album.    The fourth single was "Still They Ride", a song that didn't fare as well.   For me, I would have released "Stone In Love", one of my favorite tracks on the album.  Never released as a single although mainstream rock radio stations would often play it, Neil Schon's guitar solo and Steve Perry really shined here.


"YOU'RE SO VAIN"    FASTER PUSSYCAT
One of the more creative but fitting cover songs of the 80's, Carly Simon's #1 classic from the 1972 gets roughed up by Faster Pussycat.  You can just feel the grime of the Sunset Strip  and the sleaze of the Whiskey A Go Go with this glammed up cover.   Faster Pussycat are best known for their power ballad "House Of Pain" and their sexual romp, "Bathroom Wall".   "You're So Vain" was released on a tribute to Elektra Records compilation disc called Rubaiyat (The Cure covers the Doors on it too) and the band followed up by re-releasing the song on an EP.  "You're So Vain" never became a hit, another lost opportunity for an underrated 80's glam band.  Marilyn Manson and Johnny Depp took a stab at the Carly Simon tune, you may also want to check it out on my site.


"CRYSTAL EYES"       L.A. GUNS
Oh what could have been!   Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan, and Slash got their start with L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, when disagreements over the band's direction and in-fighting among the guys took over, a breakup was inevitable.   Most of the guys formed Guns N Roses, perhaps the greatest glam band of all-time, while Tracii Guns reformed L.A. Guns, a group that always seemed like a little brother on the scene.   "Never Enough" and "The Ballad of Jayne" hit big before Tracii changed up the band's lineup again.   In 1991, Seattle grunge bands were taking over and 80's hair bands lost their appeal.   During this time, a new version of the L.A. Guns released Hollywood Vampire, a great album released at the wrong time.  Crystal Eyes was chosen as the second single, it crashed and burned, yet remains one of the best unknown power ballads of all-time. 


"THE PRICE"      TWISTED SISTER
Back when I first started my website, I added my choice as the greatest 80's rock song to never make the charts.  Dee Snider and the boys lost the makeup, discarded any gimmicks, and showed the world that they had substance.   Check out my earlier post.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Original Princess of R&B: Aaliyah, Mary Jane Girls, Joe Budden


"MISS YOU"    AALIYAH
The first week of my first full year teaching high school, one of my students was crying at the start of class.  I asked her what was wrong?   She told me that her favorite singer, Aaliyah, had just died in a plane crash.  Twelve years ago, in the Bahamas after filming her "Rock The Boat" video, we witnessed another tragic case of a loss of an iconic artist on the rise.  Like Selena, so much unfulfilled potential, both saw major success in their short career and were on the verge of reaching their full potential.   Aaliyah was nicknamed the "princess of R&B" starting with her R Kelly produced debut CD, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, at the age of 14!  It was one of the best R&B albums of the 90's.  She only lived 22 years but sold close to 30 million records worldwide.  Here's a beautiful tribute video including so many of her peers, friends, and family.



"IN MY HOUSE"     MARY JANE GIRLS
Coming off the hits, Super Freak and Give It To Me Baby, Rick James was such a big star on Motown in the early 80's that he had almost free reign to do whatever he wanted.   Produce a song sung by Eddie Murphy?  Sure thing, Mr James!   Rick wanted to produce a solo album for one of his female backup singers.    As luck would have it, the solo record became a group project for Rick's proteges, the Mary Jane Girls.    They scored big with "All Night Long" and "Candy Man" on their first record, then came their second release and the sexy Top 10 smash, "In My House".  The PMRC (the group that wanted warning labels on records) added this song to their "Filthy Fifteen" as records to ban from radio.   Despite their efforts, the song became a worldwide best-seller.



"SURVIVOR"    JOE BUDDEN
Rap music's "beef" battles are notorious for two artists going head-to-head lyrically dissing each other.   Sometimes the stakes get high such as Tupac's "Hit Em Up", which some say played a role in his murder.   Joe Budden is a Jersey rapper who's been in countless beef battles with major rap stars including Jay-Z, The Game, Busta Rhymes, G-Unit, and the Wu Tang Clan.   "Beef" battles are fairly unique to rap, you never heard about Donnie from New Kids on The Block gunning down one of the Backstreet Boys.   "Survivor" is actually a song of hope and determination with radio friendly lyrics, wish Joe would have released more like this.


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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2012 Olympic Theme Song: Dizzee Rascal, Love And Theft, Chris Rene

"SCREAM"    DIZZEE RASCAL Ft. PEPPER
First he had the theme to the 2010 World Cup with his smash hit, "Shout", featured on a previous blog.   Now, Dizzee is back with the theme of the 2012 London Olympic Games.   For those unfamiliar with Dizzee, he's a British rapper, the son of parents from Ghana and Nigeria.    He has a fast rapping style called Garage MC'ing and experimental beats including metal guitars, ringtones, and video game sounds have been used on his songs.    Dizzee performed his song, "Bonkers" at the opening ceremony of the 2012 games in front of One Billion viewers!



"ANGEL EYES"     LOVE & THEFT
When it comes down to tough choices, finding the best of both worlds is often the ultimate option.  When it comes to the perfect woman, Usher described her as "a lady in the street and a freak in the bed".   One of hottest new country music bands, Love & Theft, describe her in a similar but more subtle way:  "Saturday night she’s rockin’ out by the bonfire, Flirting from that tail gate and crankin’ up the dial, Come Sunday mornin’ she’ll be singing with the choir,Drivin’ me crazy with that kiss me smile-------
 There’s a little bit of devil in those angel eyes
She’s a little bit of heaven with a wild side."


 

"TROUBLE"        CHRIS RENE
Simon Cowell's X-Factor is about to start their second season in the U.S.    New judges, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, have been described as divas with their biting criticism of the new singers trying out for the show.   Chris Rene stole the heart of many on the first season with his autobiographical hit, Lil Homie.   The song was dedicated to his little boy and described Chris getting clean from drugs and wanting to make his little boy proud.    He's back with a new single, Trouble, that has a perfect Jason Mraz-like Top 40 hook and will have you smiling and singing along.



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