At What Age Do You Stop Shakin’ Dat Booty?


Seems like a LOT of pop music today is concerned with one thang…and that’s how you shake dat ass. Now…I’m 45 years old AND a dude so…if I go shakin’ MY booty, there’s gonna be a lot of broken parts to pick up. But there are quite a few artists that are singing about your derriere and how it should move and I understand that in order to dance you have to kinda know how to move your body but there sure is enough of it to go around these days. For example…Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.” I wouldn’t call this a Minaj song because, quite frankly, it’s not. Sure…she adds her rap in it, but for the most part, it’s Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” from 1992. It’s not the song that concerns me but the video that goes with it. It’s mostly a bunch of scantily clad women and Nicki herself, shaking what they got in the jungle to that famous Sir Mix-A-Lot background music. Now…from an artist like Nicki Minaj, I get it. She has shot to the top of the pop charts being outrageous and has used her ample bottom to create quite a stir on the internet over whether or not it’s a real butt or a fake one. For the record, I don’t really care. I’m not a Minaj fan nor do I follow her on the Twitter, however she’s hard to miss with her fake Barbi doll makeup and day-glo outfits.

Nicki Minaj

What I AM concerned about and why I’m even writing about this topic is because of the OTHER booty shakin’ song that has hit the world wide web by one of the more famous and popular artists in the world, Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer Lopez is a 44 year old pop culture phenomenon. She is an American actress, author, fashion designer, dancer, producer, singer, and songwriter. She has taken her place among the upper echelon of superstars in American & Latino cultures. She’s a judge on one of the biggest television shows in the past 15 years. She’s had countless hit singles, made plenty of entertaining movies (except for “Gigli,” which is commonly placed as one of the worst films in movie history) and has been credited with breaking racial barriers in the entertainment industry. She is on top of the world…and then she goes and releases her new single, “Booty.”

Actually…it’s not even the song that I find disturbing. The song, by itself, isn’t a great song, but I can see how it might be popular in dance clubs and why she would choose to include it on her latest album, “A.K.A.” Originally the song was with rap artist, Pitbull, but for whatever reason, she had it remixed with the latest “hot” thang, Iggy Azalea, and released a soft core porn video to go with it. It’s the video I want to put up for debate here today because I’m not sure I get it. I’ve watched the video, I’ve listened to the song and now I’m wondering…why?

Why does a 44 year old woman at the top of her game, with millions of adoring fans (mostly young women, I imagine) want to make a video of herself shaking her butt in the camera while dripping wet or covered in honey? What kind of message does this send our young ladies?

Look…I’m all for making a buck. I understand that, as an artist these days, you really have to be at the forefront when it comes to promoting yourself and keeping yourself relevant. But Jennifer Lopez? Who DOESN’T know who Jennifer Lopez is? Now Iggy Azalea shaking her butt at the camera I kinda get. She’s what…22? She just hit the scene over the last 8 months or so? So I imagine the music industry EXPECTS her to make this kind of video, much like Nicki Minaj and a slew of other popular R&B/Pop artists today. Sex sells…and Hollywood and the music industry often take every opportunity they can to market the latest and greatest booty they can find. But JENNIFER LOPEZ?

C’mon J-Lo. You can be ABOVE all of this. If YOU don’t stand up and say, “This is bullshit! I don’t NEED to shake MY butt at the camera because I am J-Lo!”, then who will?

All I hear and read about these days is how women are tired of being objectified. Tired of dealing with the over-sexualization of our culture here in America. Tired of not being equal in the workplace and in their homes and among their male friends. Women NEED a strong voice. Women need someone to set an example. I’m not saying leave your sexuality at the door. That’s not what I’m talking about. Beyonce made an excellent album last winter that included some pretty sexual lyrics and then she included videos to go with the songs and they were pretty racy. Admittedly I haven’t watched all of them but the couple I DID see I found myself blushing a little bit and wondering…why does she feel the need to put herself out there like that? In music, one can use their imaginations. But once a video is included, it kind of takes away that sexual edge. Then it just becomes an artist exposing themselves for the sake of making money. Jennifer Lopez has done exactly that with this new single and for some reason it makes me sad. Although I’m not a big fan of J-Lo, I have always found her to be an artist that I would want my daughter to listen too and to look up too. My family enjoys American Idol and Jenny From The Block has been one of the main reasons we enjoy the show. I know she has used her beauty and her body to create a niche for herself. But at the age of 44, does she NEED to be making videos like this one anymore?

I’m leaving this open to debate. I am NOT a religious fanatic. I am not condemning her to hell for it. I’m just curious…why? I hope this will open up some interesting discussion and not a bunch of hate-spewing angst but that always seems to go along with this type of post so…

What do YOU say? Here’s the video (conveniently attached to an American Idol promo). Just an FYI…it’s not safe for work. There’s no nudity but there IS a lot of gluteus maximus being thrown at your computer screen…

Top 40 Favorite Songs Of 2013

twentyonepilotsI bet you have no idea who these guys are…but you should! (Twenty-One Pilots)

Another year, come & gone. And MAN was there a LOT of music!!! I spent a lot of time and a LOT of money on the iTunes, downloading and loving all the new music that is available these days. I remember when I would have to spend hours at the local record store, scouring albums, CD’s or cassettes (dating myself there, ain’t I?), frantically looking for the hottest new tunes. Nowadays, it’s as simple as a mouse click. Unfortunately, it’s also that easy to SPEND a lot of money…dammit. Anyway, without further adieu, here are MY personal favorites from the past year. Are they the HOTTEST SONGS according to Billboard? No. Did they sell a gazillion copies? Uh…no. But these are the songs that found themselves in constant rotation on my iPhone, iPad, Mac and whatever other freakin’ Apple product I got laying around…

40. Until The Ribbon Breaks – “Pressure”
“There’s a riot in the town, a wolf at the door.
Pressure, pressure, poison at the core.
Quick storm coming, god save the queen.
Wake up from your dream.
There’s a riot in the town, smoke in your lungs,
Pressure, pressure, blocking out the sun.
Send me down a rope, lost out to sea
Trouble now coming, coming for me.”

39. Blue October – “Sway”
“I only wanna dance with you
Every time I try
We only get an hour or so
It’s time to get personal
We’ve got these times of our lives
Lets take this time to let it show
these are ours.”
(Other featured tracks off the album “Sway”: Bleed Out, Things We Don’t Know About)

38. Keith Urban – “Somewhere In My Car”
With country music you usually get 2 types of songs…ones that deal with love and those that deal with heartbreak. This one is a heartbreaker. But Urban is a pretty damn good guitarist in his own right and this one has moments where it really rocks. And I like the visuals that go with this one. We’ve all been there and this brings back some painful memories…“So, I’ve been sleeping til noon in the same bedroom
Where I once held you and its breaking my heart
I should take down all those pictures from my wall
Promises we made won’t fill this empty space.”
(Other featured tracks off the album “Fuse”: Cop Car, Lucky Charm, Even The Stars Fall 4 U)

37. Kings Of Leon – “Wait For Me”
I have to admit, I wasn’t all that impressed with the Kings latest outing, “Mechanical Bull.” But their last 2 or 3 albums have been SO DAMN GOOD that they were due for a slight letdown. That being said, I loved this track as an early release and I still find myself swaying to it whenever it finds its way into my ears…

36. U2 – “Ordinary Love”
It’s about time! It’s been 3 long years since the end of the 360 Tour and Bono & Co. have given us nothing but memories from that great show! Now…I want more! And finally it happened. Featured on the “Mandela – Long Walk To Freedom” soundtrack, this isn’t their best song but it IS very much a U2 song. Bono’s vocals, The Edge’s guitar work. It’s all in place here and I love it!

35. OneRepublic – “Counting Stars”
Despite the fact that pop radio has worn this one out, I found it WAY before it was being abused and loved it from the beginning. Now? I’m tired of it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that in a couple of years, whenever I hear it on the radio, I’ll turn it up and love it all over again.

34. AWOLNATION – “Burn It Down”
With an album called “Megalithic Symphony,” you expect bombastic rock and this song gives you that in spades! A great workout song that will keep ya moving til your legs give out!

33. Washed Out – “All I Know”
This song is all glittery and soft, it makes you wanna take a nap. And then, in your dreams, you will dream about kittens and clouds and pretty rainbows. And then when you wake? You’ll be refreshed and ready to start your day. Weird? Maybe. But it’s oh so good….

32. Sky Ferreira – “24 Hours”
“If this is new
Just can deal with it
In a way you could say
I was always the same
Hopeful for a while,
Lost in denial
I wish this could last forever.”

31. Thomas Rhett – “It Goes Like This”
Another country song? Well…when my daughter tells me she loves a song and I listen to it over & over again, I tend to start to appreciate what she likes about it. Although this song isn’t anything different than most songs that Nashville is putting out these days, it gets an added boost for a pretty good hook and it gets Ava’s thumbs up so….for those 2 reasons….it makes the list!

30. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Let The Day Begin”
Here’s to the babies in a brand new world
Here’s to the beauty of the stars
Here’s to the travellers on the open road
Here’s to the dreamers in the bars

Here’s to the teachers in the crowded rooms
Here’s to the workers in the fields
Here’s to the preachers of the sacred words
Here’s to the drivers at the wheel

Here’s to you my little love
Let the day begin
Here’s to you my little love with blessings from above
Let the day begin

29. Atlas Genius – “Symptoms”
Straight outta south Australia, this alt-pop band knows a good hook when it plays it! I like how simple this song is and it sports some great lyrics as well!
“So we soldier on, with burning feet we run.
And here our bodies lay with our own road so far away.
Water cool these bones down, it’s so hot.
Waves can break these feelings like they’re not.”

28. Serengeti – “Directions”
A friend recommended this and I was hooked! A rapper out of Chicago, he dabbles in all sorts of musical genres and has said that he considers most modern rap to be depressing. So…he gives us his album “Kenny Dennis LP” this year. This is a pretty good track but the lyrics get a little nonsensical at the end…LOL
“You go right, you go right
You go left, you go right
You go right, you go right
You go left, you go right
Go right, go left
Go right, go right
You go right, you go left
You go left, you go right
You go left, you go right
You go right, you go left
You go up, you go down
You go left, you go right
You go left, you go up
And then down, and then left, a left………”
(Other featured tracks off the album: Laser Tag, Bang Em)

27. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young”
A bouncy, noisy jaunt of a song with so many twists and turns it’s like riding a roller coaster. Rolling Stone picked the album “Modern Vampires Of The City” as their album of the year. I don’t think it’s as good as their previous albums but…whatever. THIS track IS awesome!
“Nobody knows what the future holds
And it’s bad enough just getting old
Live my life in self-defense
You know I love the past, ’cause I hate suspense…

If Diane Young won’t change your mind,
Baby, baby, baby, baby right on time”

26. Bad Suns – “Salt”
I can’t deny it…I’m a pop music junky. I’ve tried to get away from it but I was raised on it so…I gotta go with what feels good. And this song just FEELS good! It’s infectious with its beat and bounce and I’ve been listening to it for a couple days now (released December 17).

25. The 1975 – “Girls”
Yeah, yeah…I know…ANOTHER pop nugget? Geez…MAN UP! But…it’s just…SO DAMN GOOD! I crank this song when it’s on in my car! It’s amazing to me that I haven’t heard this on the radio. Seriously…why do we have to suffer through the same 12 songs over & over when there is such good pop tunes out there these days? I don’t get it…

pearl-jam-cover_650Better do what they tell ya.

24. Pearl Jam – “Mind Your Manners”
Oh yeah…the BOYS ARE BACK! With another outstanding release, this was the first initial track that was put out there and DAMN! It rocks!!! And these lyrics? A+.
“I caught myself believin’
That I needed God
And if it’s hard for some
We sure could use it now
Try my patience
My patience tried
This world’s no longer good enough
That makes me wanna cry.”

23. White Lies – “Goldmine”
Remember the 1980’s? Yeah…so do I. And so does Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown. Who are they, you ask? They ARE White Lies. Hailing from Ealing, London, this band regularly makes an appearance in my favorites of the year. They’re very much a throwback to Depeche Mode and some of the great bands of that era!

22. Clutch – “Cyborg Betty”
Straight out rock. There’s no other way to describe it. Loud, bluesy and rockin’. Oh…and the lyrics kick ass!
“Cyborg Bette
You done me
Wrong for the last time
I got a new girl
The latest model
And she’s mine oh mine
Superior programming
Superior hardware
Superior firepower
Superior hardware”

21. The Neighborhood – “Sweater Weather”
Straight up, the sexiest song of this past year. You can list all the R. Kelly crap that you want, but the imagery in this track is as sexy as ANYTHING that came out. It got a little radio play here in Cincinnati but not what it deserved…
“And if I may just take your breath away
I don’t mind if there’s not much to say
Sometimes the silence guides our minds
So move to a place so far away
The goose bumps start to raise
The minute that my left hand meets your waist
And then I watch your face
Put my finger on your tongue
‘Cause you love to taste, yeah”

20. Boston – “Life, Love & Hope”
Remember the little story I told up at the top of me sorting through albums and CD’s and cassettes? yeah…THIS band takes me back to those days. Unfortunately the voice of the band, Brad Delp, passed away in 2007. Fortunately for us, he DID sing some tracks on the latest album. This song is the best on the album and reminds me of Boston in their heyday. A classic band with a classic sound. I love it!

JustinTimberlake_900-600-02-28-13Shakin’…not stirred.

19. Justin Timberlake – “Drink You Away”
I dunno about you…but I’m a JT fan. That being said, this year was a little much. How can you have too much Justin Timberlake? Well…release 2 albums of music that include several songs that clock in over 8 minutes each, plaster your face all over television, star in a couple of movies, and have several of your songs played non-stop all year long on pop radio. There were some high points though: the MTV VMA’s were pretty cool, I hear “Inside Llewyn Davis” is excellent and then there was THIS song. Not saying I didn’t like his other stuff but…maybe next time he will hire some producers that know how to show some restraint. A 4 minute song CAN be just as good as one that rambles on for 9. Just sayin’…
(Other tracks to sample off either of his 2 albums: Suit & Tie, Blue Ocean Floor, True Blood, Only When I Walk Away)

18. Rick Springfield featuring Dave Grohl & others – “The Man That Never Was”
If you haven’t seen “Sound City” yet…you should. And if you haven’t listened to the last album by Rick Springfield called “Songs For The End Of The World,” you should. And if you’ve never heard this track featuring Dave Grohl and several other rockers? Shame on you.

17. Santigold – “Shooting Arrows At The Sky”
Featured on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack, this is a diamond in the rough for me. I’ve always appreciated Santigold but this is the first track by her that I think really connected for me. Not sure why but it is what it is and this is a great song!

16. Ha Ha Tonka – “Colorful Kids”
I find this song to be depressing…but in a really good way. It’s got a pop sensibility to it but the lyrics? Well…YOU decide…
“That’s just the way it is
Even the colorful kids eventually will fade
Into the black and white come out
The other side the early shade of grey.

I see me as I was, you as you were
Me as I was, you as you were
Before the color began to bleed out of us.”
15. Lydia – “The Exit”
Straight outta the desert heat, this band from Gilbert, AZ has been together since high school and have developed a fan base mostly from their appearances at Vans Warped Tour and The Bamboozle Festival. This song is super smooth with Leighton Antelman’s cool vocals and a tinge of 90’s retro. I dig this track a lot!
14. The Student Teachers – “Channel 13”
Ok, ok…The Student Teachers aren’t really a modern band. They were actually around in the late 70’s that played in clubs like CBGB and opened for Blondie, Iggy Pop & The Jerks. So you can probably imagine the sound of this short-lived band. Although I bought the entire album, this is the song I keep coming back to. It could have easily been featured in a John Hughes film! Most of the tracks have only been released on vinyl so there is a simplicity to their sound that I find refreshing…
13. Phantogram – “Fall In Love”
Ya know that simplicity that I liked about The Student Teachers? Yeah…well it’s exactly the opposite in regards to Phantogram. Layer upon layer in this particular track with overdubs & underdubs galore! But damn it sounds sweet!!
12. Bear Hands – “Giants”
Pick up the perfect card
Slip into smiling wildly
After the rest have gone
We become beyond timeless
Give you everything that I have ever owned
Soon I will have bought us up a house and home
Up on the seventh floor
I know you love me, I am loving you more
11. Tegan & Sara – “Love They Say”
I know…I know…”Closer” was the pick hit off this excellent new album by everyone’s favorite sister duo…but I don’t care. If there is anything that can be said about this track, it’s that it is a perfectly concocted pop song. And I love me a good pop song. It’s about love. And it’s sweet and classy and I love it!
eminemStill angry after all these years…
10. Eminem – “Berzerk” OR “Love Game”
Okay…once again I’m changing the rules. Here’s the deal…I really dig the new Marshall Mathers album and so there are PLENTY of great tracks here. That being said…”Berzerk” is the only one that I have that isn’t littered with vulgarity and some pretty angry lyrics. So I am going to go with BOTH of these songs simply because I equally dig “Love Game,” with its “Game Of Love” sample and Kendrick Lamar highlight!
9. The Colourist – “Fix This”
I’ll be curious to see what this band does in the future. Right now they’re on a whirlwind tour with anybody from Metric to Panic At The Disco but they managed to squeeze out a 4 song EP this past summer and every song was worthy of a listen! This song is my favorite of them all though…
8. They Might Be Giants – “You’re On Fire”
One funky jam. What it means? I have no idea…
Hi, I forgot your name
My point is
Hi, your head’s on fire Oh damn, you must’ve got one of them
Combustible heads
I read an article all about them You’re on fire
You’re on fire
I won’t lie
You’re on fire

7. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know”
It was only a matter of time until this English alt-rock band caught an audience and got a hit. And this was it! A slow, methodical backbeat that slowly works its way into your head. This one is a classic!
(Other featured tracks off the album “AM”: Download the whole thing. It’s great!)
6. Reliant K – “Gloria”
One of my favorite albums this year was from this band from northern Ohio. Despite being around a while, I have never really bothered listening to Reliant K until I stumbled across their new album back in July and it was stuck on repeat through most of the fall. “Gloria” is my favorite track but there are several to choose from!
(Other featured tracks off the album”Collapsible Lung”: Boomarang, PTL, Can’t Complain)
5. Victory – “Play It”
Featured in a car commercial last winter, I was instantly taken in by the catchy beat and the lyrics! My favorite pure pop song of the year! And ya gotta love the 80’s throwback video that goes with it! LOL
4. HAIM – “If I Could Change Your Mind”
Speaking of the 80’s, I played this track from this all-sister band from Los Angeles for my wife and she said…”It sounds like it’s from the 80’s.” So….there ya go. Once again my love for all things 80’s strikes. This one sounds like a Fleetwood Mac track from their 1987 album “Tango In The Night.” 1987 is also the year I graduated from high school. So…there ya go.
3. The Boxer Rebellion – “Keep Moving”
Initially I fell in love with their song “Diamonds.” Then, after they released their album “Promises,” I couldn’t help but be moved by the lyrics of this song along with it’s soaring vocals a la U2.
(Other featured tracks off the album “Promises”: Diamonds, Take Me Back)
2. Boy & Bear – “Southern Sun”
Do ya like Gordon Lightfoot? Ok…how about a cross between Lightfoot & The Shins? Well…that’s what this song kind of reminds me of. Anyway…Wikipedia lists them as indie rock-folk music. I’ll go along with that. Here’s a sampling of the lyrics…
In all you’ve seen
Was it that came down on me that night
A conjuring, I held on to that moment and lie
Just to make it aliveI stood out there in the covering
In the baskings of a holy night
Oh I was lucid and conscious
And hovering like a firefly

My mind stretched out on the canopy
It put its arms out slow
I heard the whispers of silence
Floating down from the radio

1. Twenty-One Pilots – “Holding Onto You”
Not even gonna bother with a favorite albums post this year because there wasn’t anything close to “Vessel”, Twenty-One Pilots’ awesome initial release with Atlantic Records. Despite having a couple other albums and an EP, this album from this Columbus band was exactly what I was needing this year. It’s a cross of rap and rock, thought-provoking lyrics and lots of energy. So many great songs on this album but this was the one that grabbed me initially and so I’m gonna stick with it. However I will say, there’s a case to be made for “Migraine,” “Guns For hands” & “Screen.” Anyway…this song was a big hit on alternative radio and it is the reason I bought the album. It is my favorite album of 2013 and this song is Twenty-One Pilots at their best!
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The Go-Go’s & The B-52’s (Cincinnati_6.26.13)

The 80’s were in full effect here in Cincinnati last night as I took my daughter to her first live concert! The B-52’s and The Go-Go’s were in town and what better way to introduce my 8-year old to the concert scene than with 2 groundbreaking bands from my youth? So…on a drizzly, swampy night down at Riverbend’s PNC Pavilion, we walked through puddles and the rain to get to our seats before the B-52’s took the stage. Despite the weather, both bands were fun and on top of their games and were a genuine pleasure to see live!

The B-52’s, one of the quirkiest bands to ever grace the stage, came right out and got into the mood with “Planet Claire,” a track from their 1979 self-titled album. From there they ripped through song after classic song, with the highlights being “Roam,” “Rock Lobster” and (obviously) “Love Shack,” their biggest hit from 1989. My personal favorite was “Whammy Kiss,” a song that sounds MUCH better live than it does on their album, “Whammy!” from 1983.

After a 30 minute layoff for set changes, The Go-Go’s came out and opened with “Get Up & Go” and the title track from their 1982 album, “Vacation.” From there they did mostly songs from the groundbreaking 1981 album “Beauty & The Beat” as they ripped through “Tonight,” “How Much More,” “Automatic” and “Fading Fast.” After a brief interlude where they mixed in lead singer Brenda Carlisle’s big hit “Mad About You,” the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” and Jane Weidlin’s “Cool Places,” they proceeded to finish the album off with “This Town,” “Skidmarks On My Heart,” Our Lips Are Sealed” and a cool mashup of “We Got The Beat” and Kiss’ trademark song “(I Wanna) Rock N Roll All Night.” It was at this point that my daughter & I left the show. Despite having a good time, Ava was getting a little tired and so…we decided to beat the rush. At the point that we left, they had done most of their hits anyway (although I have to imagine they did “Head Over Heels” in the encore) so it didn’t bother me to leave a little early.

I can say this about both of these bands…they have aged very well. Despite not having hits for many years, they both definitely have a great setlist from their past. The B-52’s, being one of the quirkiest acts in the history of music, still have a stylish sense of who they are and what their sound is. They have always been the odd band out from Athens, GA but seem to relish the fact that they helped develop the alternative pop scene from their era. Their unique brand of music mixed with their flamboyant wardrobe (Kate Pierson wore a 60’s throwback one-piece polka dot outfit last night, Cindy Wilson had her trademark beehive hairdo) and Fred Schnieder’s unique vocals have made that band hard to dislike through the years. They are the ultimate party band and EVERY college student from 1978 through today know who the B-52’s are.

The Go-Go’s, despite not having the flourishing history of the B-52’s, still have enough personality and hits to keep your attention during their hour and 45 minute set. I know “Beauty & The Beat” almost by heart (that album and REO Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity” were on constant rotation at the local video arcade) and all of the bandmates have gone on to have success in one form or another. Belinda Carlisle is absolutely captivating as she dances around on stage. Despite her attire (she was simply dressed in a black top and jeans and sported a ponytail. Not that there is anything wrong with that but she could have very easily blended in with anyone in the crowd!), she has a certain flair that keeps you watching her even when she’s not singing, much like Stevie Nicks. Jane Weidlin wore a hat with cat ears and her signature outfit. She also had a brace on her knee from her surgery a couple of years ago but that didn’t slow her down as she walked the stage and had fun with the crowd. A few times during the show, Gina Schock came out from behind her drum kit to joined the band in front of the stage. It is obvious that she is very much a leader in the band and an entertainer who likes to joke around and have fun. Guitarist & keyboardist Charlotte Caffey also had her moment when she mentioned that it was nice to see such a large crowd that WANTED to see live music…not the recorded lip-synching bands of today. This made me chuckle a little bit as they went to start a song and then flubbed it up. I don’t know if that was on purpose or not but it was a funny moment and it was nice to see the band having such a good time together despite some hard times both individually and as a group.

Overall, both bands were exactly what I expected to see. Neither over-extended their song lists and they seemed to be having a good time. This translated over to the audience which sang along to their bigger hits, clapped along to some songs they probably didn’t know and remained standing through most of their sets. I would have liked to have seen the Go-Go’s perform more of their solo songs such as Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” or Weidlin’s “Rush Hour” and possibly even letting Gina Schock do a song from her solo album, but for the amount of time they were on stage, they did were tight and kept the hits coming! It was a good show for my daughter’s first concert experience and it was blast seeing the 80’s revisited one more time with her.

My Top 13 At The Halfway Point Of 2013

Twenty_One_Pilots_-_VesselBest album by FAR this year…in my opinion…

At year’s end, I always post my favorite songs from each year. This year I was thinking I would hook you up with my Top 13 favorites SO FAR this 2013 and get a head start on the process. Here ya go!

13. Goo Goo Dolls – “Last Hot Night”
It’s a return to what got them there for the Dolls. This soaring track has all the elements of a big hit…in 1991. Here’s hoping it catches on and gets some radio play. The radio NEEDS a good pop track like this one.

12. Clutch – “Gone Cold”
Talk about grim & bare it. This song is a brooding, stalking menace with a bassline that beats like a dying heartbeat. Neil Fallons baritone vocals are as depressing as any you’ll ever hear. Remember that time you broke up with the one true love in your life? Yeah well…this will remind you how it felt.

11. Jimmy Eat World – “I Will Steal You Back”
Stereotypical Jimmy and, being a fan, that’s all good by me!

10. The National – “Humiliation”
Originally from Cincinnati (and I wish all the sources I see would STOP saying they’re from Brooklyn), the brooding sound of Matt Berninger always resonates with me. Totally dig this track that adds a little bit of a pace and references Guns N Roses. Ya GOTTA love that!

9. Barenaked Ladies – “Odds Are”
The best track from the new album “Grinning Streak,” Ladies co-founder Ed Robertson takes over the lead singer role from dearly departed former lead Steven Page and lands on both feet! Love this track! I hope it picks up some stream on pop radio…

8. Justin Timberlake – “Blue Ocean Floor”
I can’t lie…this is my favorite track on the latest from JT. Put away your suit and tie and chill to this beautiful and somewhat otherwordly track from one of the premier superstars today. If there is one downside, it’s the length. Clocking in at 7:23, it’s a little long but it’s still a keeper.

7. David Bowie – “(You Will) Set The World On Fire”
Bowie comes ROARING back on this one. It seems to be a look at the underground 60’s music scene. I guess I could look into it in more detail however I just find the cryptic lyrics to be entertaining in their own way. Awesome guitar work in this one. Welcome back Mr Bowie!

6. Rick Springfield, David Grohl & Others – “The Man That Never Was”
As I stated not too long ago, I am a Rick Springfield fan. That being said, his role in Grohl’s “Sound City” was what grounded the movie for me and this track rocks the way we all know Mr. Springfield can. Throw in some heavy duty guitar work and a hand from a cast of rockers and this one is worth repeated listenings!

5. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young”
Why they didn’t do more upbeat music on their latest album, “Modern Vampires Of The City,” is beyond me. The crazy beat changes, the bleeps and bloops…everything in this track is AWESOME! Check it out…

4. The Boxer Rebellion – “Diamonds”
This takes me back to the late 80’s/early 90’s. Seriously…it sounds like the band Icehouse at first (you remember…”Crazy?”). But then the landscape changes with the chorus and the guitar work breaks into a U2-like blend. Very nice…

3. Middle Class Rut – “Aunt Betty”
This one simply kicks ass. I dare you to crank it up to 11 and blow out your speakers. Go ahead…dare ya. For those who like a heavy beat. Check out the video also. Pretty weird. Can’t wait for the whole album to drop at the end of the month!

2. Twenty-One Pilots – “Guns For Hands”
Straight outta Columbus, Ohio, this super cool band has made a BIG splash on my stereo with their latest release, “Vessel.” For MY money, you can’t go wrong buying the entire thing and putting it on repeat. That being said, this is my FAVORITE track off this album which is on course to be my favorite of the year.

1. They Might Be Giants – “You’re On Fire”
Don’t try to understand it…just go with it. Poppy as hell and it makes me wanna dance like a maniac! LOVE IT!!!!!

Lamenting The Death Of…The Cassette

Everyone I know who is an audiophile will tell you…there’s no better way to listen to music than on vinyl. Placing the record onto the player, dropping the stylus onto the record, kicking back and listening to the music as it pours from your stereophonic speakers, pops and scratches and all. I get it. Everything about records is cool. With their black, circular grooves, sweet cover art and their stackability. EVERYONE loves records! But what about the evil stepchild? In the 80’s, prior to the vinyl record spawning into a much smaller and shinier CD, there was a boom of a different form. It wasn’t round, it wasn’t flashy and it wasn’t cool. It came in a small box, was made primarily of plastic and tape and had a history of the oxide tape getting caught in it’s player. It would occasionally pop and hiss and make odd squeaky noises. It was the cassette…and I owned HUNDREDS of them.

Listening to music today, most people my age cannot argue that, in most cases, everything IS clearer and cleaner these days. MP3’s and WAVS, the digital age has cleaned up all the pops & hisses. There are no more fantastically beautiful large, square covers to have to stack. There are no more small square boxes, be they cassette or CD, to have to store. Everything is ON your computer! Despite the fact that nostalgia is normally reserved for the vinyl LP, I have to tell you…sometimes I miss the cassette. I miss how small it was. I miss how it smelled when I unwrapped it. I miss sitting in front of my radio for hours on end, waiting to press “record” when the local radio station FINALLY played that one song that I HAD to hear and I finally caught it on tape so I could play it over & over again. I don’t miss the cassette for the audio quality because truthfully? It was kind of dreadful. But for my generation that grew up ordering 10 cassettes for a penny (and I’m pretty sure I STILL owe Columbia House thousands of dollars!), making mix tapes and running out of recording room on that VERY LAST SONG and hearing the squeak, squeak, squeak of the wheel turning on a tape that was just about to crap out, I can say…I miss that old plastic box. It was a good friend for 12 years or so.

I remember have drawers full of tapes and this morning, when I fired up the Facebook, an 80’s music and memories site that I enjoy called EMF (Eighties Music Forever) had posted the photo above and I HAD to count how many of the featured cassettes hanging on the wall I used to have. Surprisingly, it was a lot lower than I would have thought. Now…MOST of them I have now on CD or on my hard drive for whenever the mood strikes me to fire up some The The or Clash, but I was never cool enough to know who The Specials were and I never listened to Jane’s Addiction until I reached college in the early 90’s. My cassette collection consisted of mostly pop and R&B. So looking at the photo above, I remember owning maybe 23 of them on cassette.

In the 90’s, the CD had started to wipe out my cassette collection by TKO. The fall of the cassette was not painful. It was a swift and merciless changing of the guard as the compact disc blew away the little plastic box and, despite the fact that cassette decks were still being implemented into cars and trucks up until the late 1990’s, most of MY collection had found itself in the trash by 1995. Oh sure…I kept a couple and I imagine I have a few stored away in a box somewhere (gotta keep that first copy of U2’s “The Joshua Tree”…right?) but for the most part, my love affair with the cassette format has died and now I am a straight audio file kind of guy. They’re just easier and it takes a LOT less time to download a song on the internet than it does to get in my car, drive to the store, sift through racks of albums, buy the few I want (at FULL price?) and then drive home. Being a father of 2 and having to pay the bills, I don’t have the time to enjoy that process anymore. But I have to tell you…I DO miss those lazy days, sitting in front of my cassette player and sorting through my old cassette tape boxes, looking for the one song that was gonna make my day and then having to rewind the tape to the beginning because I FORGOT TO REWIND IT the night before. Those were the days, my friends. Those were the days…

My buddy, Newman, posted the following on his Facebook site the other day. I think it is an extremely well written and it has gotten me to reflect on the “good old days.” I’m going to re-post it here because I think it should be seen by whoever might appreciate it like I did. The cassette will always be dear to me, more so than vinyl or CD, because it reminds me of MY youth. Would I ever want to throw in an old cassette and pine away for the days gone by? Probably not. But for memories sake, I love the cassette and all of it’s weaknesses and I remember those days before its demise with great affection.


The first album I ever purchased was “Sports” by Huey Lewis and the News. I can remember buying it on cassette at Sam Goody’s in Columbus for $5.99 and thinking how grown-up I felt when I took it to the counter. I was 15, I think, circa 1985. Now there’s a 30 year-anniversary edition out which I have no interest in other than nostalgia but it is as good a time as any to reflect on an obsession that has only grown since that day. In fact behind my family it ranks surprisingly high as something I value even though the ubiquitous nature of music and media has made owning music less of a treasure than it used to be. It has always been about discovery for me, I can hear a song a million times but its meaning or sound can change depending on anything from the weather that day or my level of maturity (also on that day, but that’s another issue). Music I didn’t like in the 80’s (if it didn’t have guitar riffs count me out) has new found prominence in my collection like Depeche Mode or an album with mature themes like Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits makes much more impact now as a 40ish father of three than it did as a teen. I still get giddy (yes giddy) over finding newer artists I like such as !!! or rediscovering Queen and how amazingly rich their albums are and wonder how they never were quite the sensation in the U.S. they should have been. I also get obsessed over their biographies (God help me if “Behind The Music” ends up on Netflix) especially over The Beach Boys or The Who or some other equally volatile yet creative force that continues to fascinate me. I own safe to say a thousand, two thousand, three I don’t know really, albums and surprisingly I can actually pick a favorite. (Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blue, for the record).

One last memory I have to share while I’m thinking about it, I also have to blame the day I heard Led Zeppelin II on launching me into the obsessive world of rock and roll. I borrowed a homemade tape from a friend of mine back in high school, Jeff Ignatius. He loaned it to me to listen to Rush but I put on the wrong side and out came Whole Lotta Love and that was the difference between thinking music was nice background noise for a date at the local roller skating rink and realizing there was an entire world out there of things I had no idea about. That’s where “discovery” began and it’s not even close to being over with any luck. But thank you to Sports and all other touchstones on the way (Journey, I admit it). I feel like a better person because of my appreciation of rock music which is ironic since I was brought up in a time where Kiss, AC/DC and others were labeled devil music among other things so I was afraid to even be around that kind of thing as a kid. I hope thirty years from now people still buy physical albums because downloads are like getting sherbet when you really wanted ice cream. As long as artists keep putting them out, I’ll keep buying them and continue to learn odd little details about their music and about my own life.

For the record…MY first cassette that I ever bought with my own cash was Supertramp’s “Paris” double album. I can’t say it’s anywhere near close to my favorite album now but at the time it seemed like a bargain because it had all of their songs on one cassette! Well…it made sense in 1980 anyway…

Confessions Of A Rick Springfield Fan


I was 11 or 12 the first time I heard “Jessie’s Girl” on the radio. Back then, there weren’t a lot of options in my little town as far as radio stations went, so I listened to the same station every day, usually while I hung out in my room, reading comics or making mix cassettes. The year was 1981 and I spent most of my summer riding my bike, playing basketball or hanging out with my friends. There wasn’t a lot else to do out on old Route 60, so I spent many hours in front of that radio, hoping to hear my favorite songs and one of those songs was definitely “Jessie’s Girl.” I eventually bought the album, “Working Class Dog,” when the second single dropped. Rick Springfield was on a roll that summer, with his newfound teeniebopper fame and his role on a network soap opera. “Working Class Dog” went platinum and everyone knew who Springfield was. Well…except those who got him confused with Bruce Springsteen. But that aside, Springfield was considered one of the top artists of that year and even won a Grammy Best Rock Vocal Performance.

From there, Springfield blew up and was all over the place. He followed up “Dog” with “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” which included several big hits including “Don’t Talk To Strangers” & “Calling All Girls.” Needless to say, I wore that album out also that following summer also. And then when he released “Living In Oz” in 1983, which included “Human Touch” and “Affair Of The Heart,” he had pretty much burned up my radio 3 summer’s of my life in a row. Obviously I listened to other artists and I bought albums from other bands but still…3 years of my life I was spending some quality time rockin’ out to with Rick Springfield. His songs were on at the pool, at the mall, on my car radio. He was everywhere! Then he made a movie in 1984 that was a critical disappointment (even though it included one of my favorite all-time pop songs, “Love Somebody”), had another couple albums that didn’t do as well and then he was gone. But I still I loved throwing on some classic Springfield tracks and his songs continually made my many mix CDs through the years.

Songs For The End

Cut to 2013. That’s almost 30 years later. Springfield reappeared in 2009 on one of my favorite Showtime series, “Californication,” playing a version of himself that was simply hysterical! Musically though, nothing he had done since the early 80’s had really connected with me until he released his album “Venus In Overdrive” in 2008. “Time Stand Still,” one of the tracks on the album, is and will always be one of my favorite songs EVER now that I have kids and have reached my 40’s. It connects with me in a way that only a really good pop song can and I couldn’t help but include it in my favorites of that year. In October of last year, Springfield released his best album (in my opinion) since “Living In Oz.” “Songs For The End Of The World” is a little darker lyrically than most of his albums but he makes a case for his style of music with amazing guitar hooks and some of his best lyrics to date. He may be getting older, but Springfield still knows a great hook when he hears it. His appearance in Dave Grohl’s documentary, “Sound City,” sealed the deal for me. Springfield is back in a BIG way! Not only is the dude reconnecting with his fans in a way that no other artist is (he used his fans as a chorus for one of the tracks on his album called “I Hate Myself”), but he understands his place in the history of rock and is reveling in it. He also recorded a track with Grohl that appears in the film that will definitely be one of my favorites this year called “The Man That Never Was” that rocks pretty hard and is just AWESOME! I hope that this resurgence keeps him in the spotlight for a while and I am totally looking forward to whatever he does next. The guy is a class act and a great spokesman for my favorite generation! Here are some tracks from his latest album and a review of his latest album by a critic from Tampa that does the album justice. You should check it out!

Here is a home video that I have edited using “Time Stand Still.” I put it together for my wife for Mother’s Day and it is the perfect song for what I wanted to express as my kids grow up and I grow older…

Rick-color-with-Guitar620Here’s lookin’ at you Rick. Thank you for all the great music!!!