Can You ID These Pop Stars 2 (Answers)

1 Jim Morrison

2 Neil Young

3 Snoop Dogg

4 Debbie Harry

5 Eddie Van Halen

6 Stevie Nicks

7 Tom Petty

8 Johnny Cash

9 Bruce Springsteen

10 Steven Tyler

Recommended Albums #15

Body Talk

Robyn: Body Talk (2010)

Swedish dance-pop queen Robyn Miriam Carlsson released her Body Talk album in the form of three separate EPs over the course of 2010. Finally the complete album was released, combining most of the material from the three EPs.

The most attractive elements of Robyn’s music are precisely those not normally found in Eurodance pop: strong melodic hooks and a powerful emotional connection. This music evokes classic disco songs like “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, which packed an emotional punch. Thus it isn’t just great for dancing, but makes great listening too, as much as any other pop. Robyn is on a very short list of dance music artists I actually listen to for pleasure.

As for the artist, there’s a free-spirited freakiness about Robyn that, in terms of comparison to her stateside counterparts, is more Pink than Madonna. Her dancing isn’t the smoothly choreographed stuff typical of American dance-pop divas. In fact, it’s choreography that might make you wonder if there is any choreography, which I think fits the from-the-heart vibe of the songwriting.

In this interview snippet Robyn discusses her fellow Swedes ABBA and specifically that element that I’ve always felt was the magic formula of their music. Her words, in English:

…I like to work with contrasts. It can show in many ways, but i.e. the contrast between something that gives you energy to wanna dance to it and something that at the same time is also sad. That is exciting for me…

I think Abba is great. They may not belong to a genre oft associated with realness, but I really believe so in the highest sense. When you take their songs out of their productions, you’ll get an eye for what it was that made it all so big.

Both ABBA and Robyn’s music contain both sadness and an ebullient energy. ABBA’s gift for creating melodic pop earworms is undisputed, but somewhat overlooked at times are the autobiographical lyrics which chronicled the demise of two marriages within the group. Lyrical angst was always counterpoint to joyful melody, which is why their songs have a timeless appeal and aren’t considered today to be mere 70’s bubblegum. Robyn deals in the same type of sad “realness”, counterpointed similarly by melody and irresistible beats. Robyn wants you to take your angst to the dance floor. But her quieter readings of the same songs in alternate versions bring the sadness into stark relief, just in case you didn’t get that she isn’t some superficial Ke$ha. It’s as if she wants to show that her songs can be “taken out of their productions” just as she suggests we do with ABBA’s songs, to reveal the song’s soft center.

Not a fan of dance pop? You might want to give Body Talk a chance despite. Because under those dance beats you’ll hear a heart beating too.

Listen to: “Hang With Me”

Listen to: “Call Your Girlfriend”

Listen to: “Dancing On My Own”

“Hang With Me”–a live ballad version:

“Call Your Girlfriend” live on SNL:

The Beatles’ First U.S. Show to Screen in Theaters

he Beatles’ first show in the United States took place at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 11, 1964. Beatlemania unveiled its fresh face on the packed crowd of 8,092 fans in attendance over the course of a 12-song set that included “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout.”

Over 40 years the footage of the historical event was lost, found and has yet to be seen by audiences—until now.

On May 17, Screenvision, in partnership with Ace Arts and Iambic Media will present a 92-minute documentary which features The Beatles’ first-ever U.S. concert, titled The Beatles: The Lost Concert. The documentary will be shown in theaters across America between May 17-22.

(Reprinted from Paste magazine)


Idols, Yes. American? No.

“The Queen Extravaganza” do a fair impersonation of Queen, and their singer does the best Freddie Mercury I’ve heard.
The Roger Taylor/Brian May finale will quicken the pulse of old fans of the band.
It’s just a little weird to see it all on a show named American Idol.


Songs You May Have Missed #92


Air: “Cherry Blossom Girl” (2004)

The French duo known as Air (JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin) create atmospheric, ethereal and slightly psychedelic sounds. This is music to bring the nervous system back to base line after a hard day at work, or to set the mood for a chilled-out evening.

Songs You May Have Missed #91


Dave Edmunds: “Warmed Over Kisses (Left Over Love)” (1982)

While never known for his songwriting–and never prolific in that regard–Dave Edmunds is a preeminent and extremely reverential cover artist.

His stomping bluegrass take on Brian Hyland’s 1962 hit “Warmed Over Kisses (Left Over Love)” is a gem from a guy whose musical career path is littered with them.

Can You ID These Pop Stars 2

All Hail the Beat: How the 1980 Roland TR-808 Drum Machine Changed Pop Music

When the Roland TR-808 rhythm machine first came out in late 1980 most musicians were not impressed. It was a drum machine that didn’t sound like drums, with a handclap feature that didn’t sound like hands clapping. One reviewer said the machine sounded like marching anteaters. But as Rhodri Marsden wrote in a 2008 article for The Independent, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

For some, the 808 was so bad it was good. They embraced the sheer artificiality of the thing. Its idiosyncratic noises began showing up on hit records like the 1982′s “Sexual Healing,” by Marvin Gaye. “Booming bass kicks, crispy snares and that annoying cowbell sound made famous during the 80′s are all part of the 808 and it’s famous sound,” writes Vintage Synth Explorer. Yes, that annoying cowbell sound. On Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” writes Marsden, the effect is like that of “a distressed woodpecker.”

But as Nelson George explains in his new video, All Hail the Beat (above), the 808 has remained a vital element in much of the pop music since the 1980s, in genres like hip hop, techno and house. Even though Roland stopped making the 808 in 1984 and many young musicans today have never even seen one (a vintage 808 can cost over $2,000 on eBay) the machine’s 16 drum sounds have been widely sampled, and have been built into many of the machines that have come later.

Even the phony handclaps have become indispensable. “Of course, they don’t sound like handclaps,” producer Jyoti Mishra told Marsden, “but strangely, they have somehow become the sound of handclaps. Every drum machine produced since then has had to feature that same kind of noise.”

(Reprinted from Open Culture)


Rocky Top: The Shower Dance

Clearly I’m a man of simple pleasures. Because no matter how many times I watch this, I still laugh out loud.

I give you: Rocky Top: The Shower Dance


Songs You May Have Missed #90


Rilo Kiley: “Breakin’ Up” (2007)

The original video is entertaining. Much more so are several on YouTube that feature Jenny Lewis making the cowbell unexpectedly sexy:

“Ooh!…it!…feels good to be free!”

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