At What Age Do You Stop Shakin’ Dat Booty?

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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…

Lamenting The Death Of…The Cassette

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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.

CHRIS NEWMAN FACEBOOK POST (May 22, 2013):

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…
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Confessions Of A Rick Springfield Fan

Rick-Springfield

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!!!

If I Picked The Winners…(2013 Grammys)

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Well…tonight’s the night that the Grammy Awards parade out a ton of artists to perform live and will showcase quite a few acts that I’ve been listening too for the past couple years. I realize it’s late and that truthfully no one really cares, but while my kids are watching The Disney Channel, I figured I’d crank out MY picks to win a Grammy this year…

RECORD OF THE YEAR: Gotye – “Somebody I Used To Know”
Despite the fact that it came out in 2011, “Somebody” is a great song and deserves the honor. If not, then Black Keys “Lonely Boy” wins!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: The Black Keys – “El Camino”
LOVE this album and I must have worn it out…back in the summer of 2011? What is going on here?

SONG OF THE YEAR: Miguel – “Adorn”
This entire album is pretty strong and despite the fact that “Adorn” didn’t make my Top 50, I still consider it one of the best on the album.

BEST NEW ARTIST: The Lumineers
I’m not sold on the sound, but this band seems to be making waves right now.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE: Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
You kidding? It was EVERYWHERE last summer. It HAS to win.

BEST POP DUO PERFORMANCE: Maroon 5 – “Payphone”
Believe or not, I kinda liked this song before I heard it 3,789,532 times.

BEST DANCE RECORDING: Swedish House Mafia – “Don’t You Worry Child”
I kinda dig it and it WOULD have made my Top 100…if I had gone that deep into it.

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE: The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”
Loved this song, love the album, love the band!

BEST ROCK SONG: The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”
Everyone is rooting for The Boss and I kinda dug the Muse song also but Black Keys will be what I’m listening to 10 years from now.

BEST ROCK ALBUM: The Black Keys – “El Camino”
Going for the sweep…

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM: Goyte – “Making Mirrors”
It’s a really good album and despite some strong competition from Fiona Apple’s latest (which I listened to on ITunes and wasn’t impressed), I’d like to see this one take the prize!

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM: Miguel – “Kaleidoscope”
I like it better than Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” and Chris Brown is a jerk.

BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE: Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away”
Love this track (it’s in my Top 50) and it deserves to win!

BEST COUNTRY SONG: Eli Young Band – “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
Mostly because it’s written by Will Hoge and I’ve met the guy and he’s pretty cool! Other than that, I like “Blown Away” here also…

BEST TROPICAL LATIN ALBUM: Romeo Santos – “Formula Vol 1”
Just kidding….I have no idea….

So there you have it…MY picks for this year’s Grammy awards! Wonder how it will go down…

The Best Songs Of 2012

Grace PotterShe got legs for days and knows how to use ’em! Oh….and she can sing also…

So we managed to survive just by the skin of our teeth (stupid Mayans) and with the coming of 2013 comes the closing of 2012. And 2012 had plenty of good music in it! My interest in music, while wavering a little bit as I find myself steeped in work, home repair and being a daddy, is still strong and all over the map. One day I’m in a country mood, the next I’m jamming with my kids to “Gangnam Style.” It was truly bizarre in music this year. Too much EDM and not enough good riffs. But with that being said, there was still enough great music out there…I just had to go find it sometimes! So without further adieu…here are my Top 50 Favorite Singles of 2012 and my Top 10 Favorite Albums! Enjoy and just a reminder…these are MY choices. They do not reflect record sales or popularity on any record charts. They are simply the top songs that burned a hole in my ears all year…and I believe they are all equally awesome!

50. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe” (pop)
I’m just gonna get this out of the way right off the bat. Look…it’s annoying now but back in the early summer? EVERYONE loved this song and it was played and played and overplayed until no one could stand it anymore! However, that being said, whenever I hear this track I will be instantly transported back to the summer, watching my son play baseball and listening to my daughter sing this song at the pool.

49. The Darkness – “Cannonball” (rock)
I dunno why but I still hear Queen whenever I listen to The Darkness but this track, off their album “Hot Cakes”, is more AC/DC than Queen! I love it!

48. Half Moon Run – “Nerve” (alt-pop)
They opened for Metric in St. Louis and I was struck by the multiple layers of this song. Very 80’s sounding and watching this band perform it was mesmerizing.

47. Brad Paisley – “Southern Comfort Zone” (country)
Being from a small town, I remember when I moved to Dayton then Cincinnati and then began traveling for a living for my job. This song captures that wonder of leaving your “comfort zone” and visiting places that you never dreamed you would ever see. That is my life to a tee and this track says everything I would say if I had any songwriting ability whatsoever.

46. Green Day – “F%$# Time” (rock)
A little bit rockabilly that is all about…well…um….sex. As you can imagine, Billie Joe & company blow this one out with thunderous drums and a rocking chorus. If it wasn’t so X-rated it would probably do well on rock radio!

45. Wild Nothing – “Nocturne” (alt-pop)
Light & fluffy, this song could sit on a cloud with no problem. It’s got lots of synthesizer and sort of floats in your ears. I like it!

RaveonettesWhaddaya mean we didn’t make the Top 5?!?!

44. The Raveonettes – “Night Comes Out” (alternative)
Although they aren’t charting in my Top 5 this year like last year, I still consider them to be one of my favorite bands. I just love how dark they are and I would love to see them live someday…

43. Tegan & Sara – “Closer” (alt-pop)
With their new album dropping in early 2013, I’m expecting great things if it’s as good as this first single! This duo has always had my ear but I really like the path they’re taking, going a little more upbeat and less mopey. I’ll take it!

42. Rascal Flatts – “Hot In Here” (country)
This band is always good for a hot summer single and this one SHOULD have been a hit! Nevertheless, it hasn’t been released to country radio but I found it and I LOVE it! Great track from a perennial country pop band!

41. Slightly Stoopid – “Top Of The World” (pop reggae)
Trippy and bouncy. Nothing too heavy but catchy as hell and I played this one through most of the summer. Grab a pina colada and relax…

40. Alex Clare – “Too Close” (pop)
Featured on a commercial last spring, I actually “Shazam”-ed it to find out who it was. Then…a little while later, it blew up and you couldn’t turn the radio dial without hearing it. Did I grow tired of it? Sure. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the “wah wah wah” of this song resonates deep in my chest whenever I crank it up!

39. Greg Laswell feat. Sara Bareilles – “Come Back Down” (alternative)
Laswell has limited vocal range but having Bareilles join him gives this song the lift it needs to take it to another level. Nice pace with a fast beat and high production value makes this a great track for this inspiring artist!

38. The Fixx – “Take A Risk” (alt-rock)
Seriously…a show of hands of those who even knew these guys were still recording??? ‘Cause I didn’t! But here they are and despite the fact that they could be considered an 80’s pop band, they return with a blistering track that speaks of the future and what it holds for generations to come. Possibly one of the best “lyric” songs on my list AND it rocks!

37. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister – “Touch The Lightning” 
It just kinda lopes along like a tripping hippy, meandering along with a slow bass line and a tie-dye sort of feel. It takes me back to the Mamas & The Papas in a way and just sorta settles there. I DIG IT MAN!

36. Florence & The Machine – “Breath Of Life” (alternative)
With a thunderous intro, Florence Welsh’s vocals once again soar and this song, which was featured in the end credits of “Snow White & The Huntsman”, strikes a chord of something sinister and yet hopeful. A perfect blend for the movie and for my ears.

35. Cat Power – “Silent Machine” (alternative)
Her album “Sun” got rave reviews and her appearance on “Funny Or Die” was a highlight of this past year. This is one of several quality tracks on the album but I like the throbbing beat and her vocals. It catches my ear and that’s good enough!

34. Neon Trees – “Close To You” (alt-pop)
I’ve been hearing “Everybody Talks” pretty much since early summer but for me? I like this one. It’s dark and exotic, moody and hypnotic. Check it out.

33. Haley Reinhart feat B.o.B. – “Oh My!” (pop)
American Idol Reinhart steals a page out of the Adele pagebook and goes retro with this track. Her vocals soar, the sax gives it a sultry pulse and B.o.B. makes an appearance to make it even more tasty! Great track that shoulda got more airplay! Here’s a clip of her performing it live. Seriously…she can jam.

32. Sleigh Bells – “End Of The Line” (alternative)
This band is noise but IN that noise are some pretty amazing hooks. This song clings & clangs with heavy beats and the breathy singing of Alexis Krauss.

31. DIIV – “Follow” (alternative)
I wish I knew more about this band but the fact of the matter is…I don’t. What I DO know is I totally dig this song. Go check it out and look up the band while you’re at it. Let me know what you find out. Very 90’s sounding and atmospheric rhythms.

30. The Offspring – “I Wanna Secret Family (With You)” (rock)
This band has continually managed to find new life and this song off their latest album called “Days Go By” has a great 80’s hair band hook!

29. Chris Brown – “Stuck On Stupid” (R&B)
He’s released just about everything else off “Fortune” but for whatever reason, this awesome song hasn’t hit the airwaves. It’s one of the best pop songs of the year. I think it’s about time to give this guy some credit. He might be an a$$ but as far as I’m concerned he’s every bit as good as Usher.

28. Lupe Fiasco – “Around My Way” (rap)
Lupe does what Lupe does and this jazz infused jam is right up his alley. With a funky sax and a dope beat this song hops along as Fiasco tells it like it is.

carrie-underwood-denim-shorts-legs-0

27. Carrie Underwood – “Blown Away” (country)
I originally saw her perform this live on an awards show earlier this year and it “blew me away!” Love the chorus and Underwood hits some sweet notes on this one!

26. Bruno Mars – “When I Was Your Man” (R&B)
For all the pop that this guy puts out, it can’t take away from the fact that at his heart he is a true artist in the same vein as a Michael Jackson. In this one, he scales WAY back and goes simple and beautiful. Nothing but a piano and his vocals and it is excellent.

25. Luke Bryan – “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” (country)
This song of a relationship that has fallen apart but still having that wanting is a typical example of good country gone pop. While pop radio cranks out the EDM and rap, country music is still creating quality pop songs about love and love lost. Tis is a good’un.

24. Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds” (synthpop)
Synthesizers made a HUGE comeback this year and this track by George Lewis, Jr. is a prime example at how well it can be done again! Very upbeat and poppy, it reminds me of the best of Duran Duran!

23. The 1975 – “Sex” (alternative)
MORE synthesizers? HELL yeah!!! I love me some good sex…er…synthesizer and this song blows me away! Reminds me of college in a great way!

22. Eels – “New Alphabet” (alternative)
I’ve been listening to this band for an eternity so when this track arrived in mid December I decided to give em the benefit of the doubt and put them in my favorites of the year. It’s not a stretch for them but it’s everything you expect from a band that’s been around since the late 90’s!

21. Frank Ocean – “Lost” (soul)
He’s a critics darling this year and his album Channel ORANGE will be getting all kinds of awards this year so…I woulda had a hard time leaving him off this list! This is my favorite track off the album and it’s very much everything that Ocean is about.

20. No Doubt – “Undercover” (pop)
How nice of them to come back and bring their synth-infused sound back to rejuvenate THIS decade! Let’s face it…NOBODY does this kind of music like Gwen and the boys and having them put out a new album (which is one of my favorites this year) was a pleasant surprised. Now…if I could just get them to go on tour…

19. Miguel – “The Thrill”
A lot of critics are lauding his album “Kaleidoscope Dream” as being the modern version of Prince. I dunno if I would go THAT far but it IS sexed up the way Prince used to be. I will say this though…the guy knows how to catch your ear and this song is smooth as silk.

18. The Constellations – “Hallelujah” (rock)
Hailing from Atlanta, this blues band hit me with one of the best albums of 2012 and this song was a highlight! This is NOT a remake of the Rufus Wainwright classic but still just as good!

17. Gary Clark, Jr. – “Things Are Changin'” (blues)
He’s bringing blues back in a big way and this track is infused with a kiss of blues, a little R&B and a lot of heat. Love it!

16. Rudimental – “Feel The Love” (electronic)
Seriously…if you’re gonna do EDM, go with something that varies it up a little bit. It’s repetitive sure, but the beat, the horns and the change of pace in the middle makes this the best of the bunch!

15. Electric Guest – “This Head I Hold” (R&B)
I told you about this band a LONG time ago and here is the song that caught my ear. It’s everything you want in a pop/soul song. It’s got that 60’s vibe and that makes it worth your time.

Jacob Martin

14. Jacob Martin – “I Don’t Wanna Be The Only One” (country rock)
Don’t go looking for this one on ITunes because it’s not there yet. I found this band playing in downtown Cincinnati at Toby Keith’s Bar and when they played this song, I was hooked! I chatted it up with the bassist and found out that this track will be released later in 2013. Well…go to their MySpace site and check it out. A LOT of potential here and I love this one!

13. Graffiti6 – “Never Look Back” (pop)
Released WAY back in January, this song grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. The entire album, called “Colours,” is a pleasant reminder of what GOOD pop music can be.

12. Muse – “Madness” (alternative)
Remember what I was saying about synthesizer making a comeback? Yeah…well…these guys started it back in 1994. Taking the reigns from where U2’s “Achtung Baby” left off, this song definitely reminds me of my favorite band and that’s probably why it’s been burning up my IPhone for the past month or so.

11. Metric – “Breathing Underwater” (alternative)
Having seen Emily Haines work her magic on a crowd in St. Louis, I can now say that her voice is not her only asset. She’s thoughtful and approachable and there’s something so freaking sexy about her that I am pretty sure I’d listen to her gargle. Needless to say, she ain’t gargling here and she soars with this song which has one of my favorite lines of the year…“They were right when they said we should never meet our heroes/When they bowed at their feet, in the end it wasn’t me.”

The-Killers-Battle-BornAlbum Cover Of The Year!

10. The Killers – “Runaways” (alt-rock)
I wouldn’t define this band as alternative or rock, but they definitely have a niche somewhere in the middle. With lyrics that rival Bruce Springsteen and a sound that is borderline U2, this song is up there with anything on “Born In The U.S.A.”

9. Mark Lanegan Band – “Riot In My House” (rock)
Remember the early 90’s when bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees were stealing airtime from Nirvana? Well…some voices never change and in the case of the Tree’s Mark Lanegan, he’s one of the most recognizable voices from that decade. He returned with his brand of rock with his album, “Blues Funeral,” and this song is the crown jewel of the bunch!

lana-complex-intv-lead

8. Lana Del Rey – “Radio” (alt-pop)
I’m not sure HOW you categorize Del Rey’s sound. It’s somewhere between 60’s pop or a David Lynch film soundtrack. Either way, she roared onto the scene with an appearance on SNL before her album was released (a first for ANY artist) and then was slammed by critics who didn’t understand her schtick. I get it…and I LOVE it! This song is my favorite off her album “Born To Die” but it is probably not the one most would have picked. Either way, it is what it is and THIS track is my pick for best on the disk.

7. Jack White – “Freedom At 21” (rock)
Here’s the thing about me…I keep an eye out for artists I like and I know when they release a new album. In the case of Jack White, I knew he had a new album coming out but I really didn’t listen to it until well after its release. Dunno why but Jack has become a lot of the same old sound for me. This song is reminiscent of the stuff he did with Meg in the mid-90’s with the White Stripes.

6. Animal Kingdom – “White Sparks” (alternative)
Another moody synth song from a critical fav. They appeared on my favorites list in 2009 with “Tin Man” and here they are making a return! This might have been the most romantic song on my list if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m a old smoothy who has a thing for romantic love songs which leads me to…

5. Robert Francis – “Perfectly Yours” (alt-pop)
Oh how I love the little love songs and Francis is so good at writing them. My sister turned me on to this artist and his “Strangers In The First Place” has been on repeat on my IPhone for a couple months. This song is silky smooth and perfect in every way and the lyrics are amazing…

4. Morning Parade – “Under The Stars” (alternative)
I’m sorry…but there are just times you connect with a song and there’s nothing to explain really. There’s something about this track that is like that for me. It reminds me of Fuel’s “Shimmer.” It has that slow build and then it kicks in and…pure, pop perfection with this really odd bridge in the middle which makes it even more unique.

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3. The Constellations – “Black Cat” (blues rock)
Not gonna lie…this is probably my most listened to song of the year. I love the bluesy feel of it and it has a laid back organ caressing the background that just kicks it for me. Love this one and I hope you do too!

2. Taylor Swift – “State Of Grace” (country pop)
What do you do when you consider yourself a “serious” music lover but find yourself listening to a song by an artist who is stereotyped for teenage girls. Well…that was my situation. But I gotta tell you, as far as I’m concerned, Swift has made a masterpiece with “State Of Grace.” Not only is it an uplifting song, it truly doesn’t sound like a country song to me. This could easily be played on ANY format. Well…except for maybe rock. But it could be classified as pop, country, alternative, easy listening, whatever. Either way, Swift soars on this one and I love the uplifting message. If Paul McCartney is correct and some people DO wanna fill the world with silly love songs, then this one is a great example of how it can be done.

1. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “Roulette” (pop rock)
This song is track 12 on the June release of “The Lion the Beast the Beat” and it is listed on ITunes as a (Bonus Track). What?!?! This song is AWESOME! I’ve worn it out and it STILL gets me every time. Let’s get this straight…I LIKE Ms. Potter and her band. I don’t LOVE them. But for whatever reason, this song has been stuck in my head ever since I heard it and I can’t deny…it is straight up a great pop song. With it’s blistering short guitar solo at the end and Potter’s soaring vocals, this track is right up my alley. Here you go…my favorite song of 2012…

My New Album…(kinda)

A couple days ago, a friend posted on Facebook a fun project and so I played along. You know how these things go…you follow the directions as such…

1. Go to Wikipedia and hit “Random Article.” The first article you get is the name of your band.

2. Go to “quotationspage.com” and hit “Random.” The last 5 or 6 words of the last quote on the page is the title of your album.

3. Go to Flickr and click on “Explore” then “Explore Last 7 Days.” The third picture on the page is the cover of your album.

4. Put it all together in Photoshop (or editing program of your choice) and share with all your friends!

So here is the up & coming hot new album by my new band, Sykehouse (which is a civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England. It has a population of a little over 400 as of 2001)!

20121005-225918.jpgWatch for it in an independent record store any day now!!! Well…maybe once I find a lead singer, bassist and a drummer…and learn how to play the guitar…or the triangle. Whatever…