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Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the Grammy Goes to..Steve?

And the Grammy for Best Album goes to…Steve? Wait a minute. Let’s do a quick perusal of the nominee list. BeyoncĂ©’s I Am…Sasha Fierce, The Black Eyed Peas’ The E.N.D., Lady Gaga’s The Fame, Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, and Taylor Swift’s Fearless. Hmm…not a Steve amongst the batch. Oh wait – there’s a question mark on the end of that sentence. What does that mean?

In my highly scientific study of previous Best Album Grammy winners, I’ve found that the best determinant is which album Steve owns, or is most likely to own. Steve and I have been buddies more than 25 years, going back to high school. Now in his early ‘40s, he’s appropriately settled into his musical demographic. He buys less than a handful of new albums each year, listens to something in between adult alternative and adult contemporary radio, and won’t be picking up Lil’ Wayne albums any time soon.

Before this disintegrates into a Steve trashfest, I assure you he has positively influenced my tastes over the years. His love of Dire Straits and the Moody Blues has much to do with their presence in my collection and our mutual affection for the Alan Parsons Project has always given us common musical ground. You can count on both of us to prick up our ears at the mention of a quality singer/songwriter with ‘80s roots.

However, in the last decade I’ve continued to add new and upcoming bands to my collection – stuff like the White Stripes, the Strokes, the Killers, and the Arctic Monkeys. In that same span, Steve has picked up Norah Jones and Alison Krauss. In a nutshell, I’m still looking for guitar solos in the middle of songs while Steve is grabbing up…well, Grammy fare.

Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me and Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raising Sand are two Best Album Grammy winners that I know are part of Steve’s collection. More importantly, he didn’t buy them in the after-Grammy hype or even because of nominations, but long before either. Hence my theory that Steve’s musical taste makes for the best determinant of the Grammy winner-to-be. However, Steve didn’t buy any of this year’s crop so as we flipped through stacks of albums (yes, ACTUAL albums) at Streetside Records last week, I asked him which he’d buy if he had to. “Well,” he finally decided, “if I had to go with one, I guess it would be Taylor Swift.” There you go. You can bank on that as tonight’s winner.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ke$ha hit #1 with "Tik Tok": January 2, 2010

Orginally posted January 2, 2012.

“Tik Tok” was not Ke$ha’s first run at the charts; it wasn’t even her first #1. Earlier in 2009, she did a guest vocal on rapper Flo Rida’s “Right Round”, a Billboard Hot 100 chart topper for six weeks. However, “Tik Tok” marked her debut as a lead solo artist and proved to be 2009’s biggest hit not by the Black Eyed Peas (they ruled the top of the charts that year with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling” at 12 and 14 weeks respectively). The song spent nine weeks at #1 and sold nearly 13 million worldwide.

The song marked a collaboration with producer/songwriter Dr. Luke, who had worked with Ke$ha on “Right Round”. Dr. Luke had become the notable go-to-guy for female pop divas having done notable work for Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, and Pink. He has said he was drawn to her via a demo in which she had both sung and rapped.

Naysayers critiqued the upbeat dance-pop sound as too similar to tracks such as Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance”. Slate magazine’s Jonah Weiner said the song falls between “charmingly daft and deeply irritating” WK as it details the story of a girl who “wakes up drunk, stays drunk, finds a dance floor and (spoiler alert) gets even drunker.” WK

However, most critics praised the song’s celebration of partying. Digital Spy’s Nick Levin called it “completely trashy in the best possible way.” WK Drowned in Sound’s David Renshaw said, “world rocking it might not be, but as a piece of disposable pop it captures a moment and boasts a huge hook.” WK

Rapper and mogul P. Diddy appeared on the track, thanks to coincidence. Ke$ha references him in the first line of the song (“Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy”). The same day she shared the song with Dr. Luke, Diddy called him for the first time ever to suggest they work together. According to Ke$ha, he came in that same day to rap a couple lines for the song. SF




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Friday, January 1, 2010

My Top 100 Songs of 2000-2009

Here's my list of favorite songs from the last decade, because I know your life just somehow won't be complete until you've seen it. There are comments on the first 10 and just a list after that.

1. Gary Jules/Michael Andrews…Mad World (2003)

It isn’t often that a cover song makes the original obsolete, but this stripped down version of a Tears for Fears song gives these poignant lyrics a more appropriately slowed-down tempo.

2. Alan Jackson…Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (2001)

I’m not much of a country music fan, but no song summed up the anguish of 9/11 better.

3. Dresden Dolls…Sing (2006)

Are there any other lyrics that better sum up that absolute need to sing?: “There is this thing it's like talking except you don't talk/ You sing/ You sing…Sing for the teachers who told you that you couldn't sing, Just sing.”

4. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole…Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World (2001)

Technically, this medley dates back to 1990, but it didn’t really gain any attention until after Iz’s death in 1997 and it showed up in a variety of movies, TV shows, and commercials this decade.

5. Arnold McCuller…Free Bird (2000)

Yeah, yeah, another cover. This stripped-down, shortened version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic closed out the little-seen movie Duets, leaving a lump in the throat as the singer realizes the fate before him.

6. Johnny Cash…Hurt (2002)

Has anyone ever recorded a better obituary for himself? And doing it with a Nine Inch Nails’ song? Beautiful.

7. Limp Bizkit with Johnny Reznik…Wish You Were Here (2001)

Before the Tribute to Heroes telethon to benefit the families of victims of 9/11, I remember reading some diss on Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit) about he’d never be able to sing a moving tribute. His take on a Pink Floyd classic made this song feel like it was written about 9/11. Take that, critics!

8. Gnarls Barkley…Crazy (2006)

Was there any better pop song this decade?

9. Crowded House…Silent House (2007)

Originally recorded by the Dixie Chicks, but written by Neil Finn (of Crowded House). While the song appears to be about going through his grandmother’s belongings after her death, it took on another meaning after bandmate Paul Hester committed suicide.

10. Sandi Thom…I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker with Flowers in My Hair (2006)

Pretty much unknown on American shores, this clever song about missing out on the hippie and punk generations hit #1 in the U.K.

11. Evanescence with Paul McCoy…Bring Me to Life (2003)
12. Sheryl Crow…Safe and Sound (2001)
13. Pink with Indigo Girls…Dear Mr. President (2006)
14. KT Tunstall…Black Horse and Cherry Tree (2005)
15. Bruce Springsteen…American Skin (41 Shots) (2000)
16. Eminem…Lose Yourself (2002)
17. Plain White T’s…Hey There Delilah (2005)
18. OutKast…Hey Ya! (2003)
19. Eminem with Dido…Stan (2000)
20. Queensryche…Home Again (2009)
21. John Mellencamp…If I Die Sudden (2008)
22. Mika…Grace Kelly (2007)
23. Bruce Springsteen…When the Saints Go Marching In (2006)
24. Dixie Chicks…Travelin’ Soldier (2002)
25. Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova…Falling Slowly (2006)
26. Death Cab for Cutie…I Will Follow You into the Dark (2005)
27. Bruce Hornsby…Gonna Be Some Changes Made (2004)
28. Bruce Springsteen…My City of Ruins (2001)
29. David Baerwald…I Won’t Back Down (2006)
30. Chris Cornell…Billie Jean (2007)
31. Bowling for Soup…1985 (2004)
32. Beck…Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime (2004)
33. Eagles…Hole in the World (2003)
34. Alanis Morissette…My Humps (2007)
35. Blur…Out of Time (2003)
36. Fountains of Wayne…Stacy’s Mom (2003)
37. Eagles…No More Walks in the Wood (2007)
38. Eminem…Sing for the Moment (2002)
39. Tori Amos…’97 Bonnie and Clyde (2001)
40. Arnold McCuller/Paul Giamatti…Try a Little Tenderness (2000)
41. Bright Eyes…Road to Joy (2005)
42. No Doubt…Simple Kind of Life (2000)
43. Tracy Chapman…I Did It All (2008)
44. Bruce Springsteen…Empty Sky (2002)
45. Sierra Swan…Mother (2006)
46. The White Stripes…Hotel Yorba (2001)
47. Green Day…Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2004)
48. U2…Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own (2004)
49. Uncle Kracker…Follow Me (2000)
50. Eminem…Like Toy Soldiers (2004)
51. Pearl Jam…Love Reign O’er Me (2007)
52. Hooters…The Boys of Summer (2007)
53. Sheryl Crow…Lullaby for Wyatt (2008)
54. Bruce Springsteen…Radio Nowhere (2007)
55. The Killers…All These Things That I’ve Done (2004)
56. Alanis Morissette…Crazy (2005)
57. Tim Finn…Salt to the Sea (2006)
58. David Baerwald…If Wishes Were Horses (2004)
59. Mindy Smith…Come to Jesus (2004)
60. Dixie Chicks…I Hope (2005)
61. Pink…Don’t Let Me Get Me (2001)
62. Tricky with Ed Kowalczyk & Hawkman…Evolution Revolution Love (2001)
63. Youth Group…Forever Young (2005)
64. Amy Winehouse…Rehab (2006)
65. John Mellencamp…To Washington (2003)
66. Gorillaz…Clint Eastwood (2001)
67. Five for Fighting…Superman (It’s Not Easy) (2000)
68. The Airborne Toxic Event…Sometime Around Midnight (2008)
69. Amanda Ghost…Silver Lining (2000)
70. Del Amitri…Jesus Saves (2002)
71. Green Day…Wake Me Up When September Ends (2004)
72. Damien Rice…The Blower’s Daughter (2003)
73. Eddie Vedder…Hard Sun (2007)
74. Hooters…White Jeans (2007)
75. Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow…Picture (2001)
76. Eminem…Mosh (2004)
77. Eddie Vedder…Guaranteed (2007)
78. Eagles…How Long (2007)
79. Bruce Springsteen…The Wrestler (2008)
80. Sting…Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing) (2003)
81. Mika…Over My Shoulder (2007)
82. Badly Drawn Boy…Something to Talk About (2002)
83. Bob Walkenhorst…Primitivo Garcia (2003)
84. Nine Inch Nails…Only (2005)
85. Bruce Springsteen…The Rising (2002)
86. Avril Lavigne…Sk8er Boi (2002)
87. Eminem…Cleanin’ Out My Closet (2002)
88. Kelly Sweet…Dream On (2007)
89. Tears for Fears…The Devil (2004)
90. Lucinda Williams…Righteously (2003)
91. Hooters…Morning Buzz (2007)
92. Marillion…Half-Full Jam (2008)
93. Bruce Springsteen…Devil’s Arcade (2007)
94. Foo Fighters…Darling Nikki (2003)
95. Adele…Hometown Glory (2008)
96. Bruce Springsteen…Terry’s Song (2007)
97. The Killers…Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town (2005)
98. Eddie Vedder…Long Nights (2007)
99. D’Angelo…Untitled (How Does It Feel) (2000)
100. Blue October…Into the Ocean (2006)