Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Music Note" # 5: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame...Really?

As many music fans should know, the annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is coming up on April 4th. This year's inductees include Run-DMC, Metallica, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Wanda Jackson, Jeff Beck and Bobby Womack.

Still, there is one thing that I do not understand about the famous hall of fame -- its NAME! If one simply looks at the list of people who have been inducted over the years, one will see that it is not only the genre of Rock music that is in the hall of fame. Then, why is it called Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Starting from the first ceremony in 1986, here is a list of perofmers who are not Rock music artists:

James Brown

Ray Charles

Sam Cooke

Aretha Franklin

Clyde Mcphatter

Jackie Wilson

Marvin Gaye

Smokey Robinson

The Coasters

Louis Jordan

The Drifters

The Supremes

The Temptations

Stevie Wonder

The Four Tops

The Platters

The Impressions

Wilson Pickett

Sam and Dave

The Isley Brothers

Etta James

Ruth Brown

Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers

Sly and the Family Stone

Bob Marley

Al Green

Gladys Knight and the Pips

Little Willie John

The Shirelles


The Bee Gees

The Jackson Five

Lloyd Price

Curtis Mayfield

Billie Hiliday

Nat "King" Cole

Earth, Wind and Fire

Isaac Hayes

The Dells

Percy Sledge

The O'Jays

Miles Davis

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five


and this year...

Little Anthony and the Imperials


Bobby Womack

All of the artists mentioned above make up almost half the list! I can understand including Blues, Rockabilly and transitory (between rock and another genre) artists in the hall because they had a major influence in Rock music, but RnB, Doo-wop, Soul, Pop and Hip-hop artists do not exactly fit into that group. Although many of these genres and artists incorporate rock elements into their own and vice-versa, they are still not RocknRoll specifically. It would have been more appropriate to have called it, the Music Hall of Fame and have sub-categories for each genre under it or have separate halls of fame (which I know would be difficult since there are so many fusion styles). This will allow for a broader range and mix of music styles to be included.

Whose smart idea was it to call it the RocknRoll Hall of Fame if they knew the hall would induct other musical genres into it. I feel it some sort of dominant view that the music industry is trying to portray by using the term RocknRoll. Since RocknRoll is considered the most mainstream and commercial (the market is mostly white artists and white listeners), it is also considered the most influential. However, if it was not for other styles of music like the Blues, Jazz, Hillbilly (Country music) and Tin Pan Alley music, you would not have RocknRoll (which at least the hall recognizes as "early influences"). So, I, along with thousands of other people, are requesting a name change!

Monday, March 30, 2009

"It's a Woman's World"

This is Women's History Month, so I decided to create a Top 20 List of the best female artists of all time (not in any order)!

1) Aretha Franklin: The "Queen of Soul" has influenced every female singer that has come after her. Taking her background in Gospel, she helped to form the genre of Soul. She is unmatched as a vocalist and songwriter!

I Say a Little Prayer for You

Day Dreaming

A Rose is Still a Rose w/ Lauryn Hill

Chain of Fools

2) Chaka Khan: The "Rhythm and Funk Queen" herself! From Whitney Houston to Mary J. Blige, many have covered her songs and mentioned her as an influence. Khan has trained her voice so well that she can bend the notes in her vocals like a trumpeter can bend his notes. She is definitely one of my favorites!

Sweet Thang w/ Rufus

Through the Fire

Ain't Nobody

Will You Love Me

3) Mariah Carey: With an eight-octave voice (full range), there is hardly anything that Mariah Carey cannot sing. She can either go really low or sound like she is making bird calls. The beginning of her career was the best as she wrote songs that were beautiful and artistically done. Now, it seems as if she wants to be half-naked and sing pop fluff. Go back to your roots, Mariah, PLEASE!!!!


Vision of Love

My All


4) Whitney Houston: Before she married Bobby Brown and slowly let him almost ruin her career, Whitney Houston was up there with the greats like Aretha. She still has the voice that everyone loves and I cannot wait until she comes back officially. Whitney: "I Will Always Love You!!!" (Ha, Ha, Ha)

I Have Nothing

Saving All My Love

I'm Your Baby Tonight

Exhale (Shoop Shoop)

5) Janis Joplin: Known as the "Queen of Blues-Rock," Janis Joplin was one of the first women to open the doors for women to "rock n roll." Instead of wearing dresses and trying to sing like a lady, Janis wore jeans and tie-die shirts and howled and wailed like the rest of the mail singers out there!

Mercedes Benz

Take Another Piece of My Heart

Cry Baby

Me and Bobby Mcgee

6) Tina Turner: Continuing the tradition of rocking females, Tina Turner (along with Ike, boo!) used her gritty and low voice, spastic and energetic dance moves and great legs to become an icon. She once again proved that a woman can wild out just like a man!

Simply the Best

Missing You

I Don't Want to Fight

Proud Mary w/ Ike (Boo, Ike!)

7) Celine Dion: Her powerful vocals can bring anyone to tears! Very few pop singers have been able to match up with Celine when it comes to her amazing virtuosic vocals and stands strong on her emotional and sentimental nature (despite what critics may say!)

Because You Loved Me

Power of Love

Coming Back to Me Now

Beauty and the Beast

8) Judy Garland: In the age of "Tin Pan Alley," Judy Garland was the "Queen of the Musicals." Starting with The Wizard of Oz, Garland filmed several musical films that have become legendary.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Get Happy

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

9) Janet Jackson: Next to Madonna, she is one of the most successful singer-dancers of all time. She may not have a great vocal range, but she is innovative in her songs, fashion style and choreography. For Chrissake, she is Michael Jackson's sister!


Son of a Gun w/ Missy Elliot

Got Till It's Gone

I Get So Lonely

10) Lauryn Hill: From the Fugees to a solo album, Lauryn Hill was destined for critical and commercial success. Lauryn opened the doors for a person to be a skillful rapper and a soulful singer! However, after her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, she just disappeared (I heard she went a little cookoo). I hope she gets her act together an comes back offically, too, because she was one of the best out there!

Doo Wop (That Thing)

Everything Is Everything

Lost Ones


11) Missy Elliot: Following Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot was innovative in the genres of Hip-hop and RnB. Working with Timbaland, she created a style of her own that was so creative and original that you could feel the brain oozing out of your ears (sorry to be disgusting, but it is true!)!

The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

Hot Boys w/ Lil' Mo, Nas, Eve, etc.

All In My Grill w/ Nicole Wray and Big Boi

Gossip Folks w/ Ludacris and Ms. Jade

12) Joni Mitchell: The Pop-folk singer is one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time. She has influenced so many styles from RnB (listen to Janet Jackson's "Got Till It's Gone) to Jazz to Alternative Rock (listen to Counting Crows "Yellow Taxi").

Big Yellow Taxi

Both Sides Now


A Case of You

13) Alanis Morissette: As part of the end of the grunge era, the Canadian singer's Pop-rock vocals and witty lyrics made her album, Jagged Little Pill, the best selling album by a female in the U.S. Although her success has dimmed over the years, she is the line of influential female rock singers.


You Oughtta Know

<a href="http://www.joost.com/0827wsx/t/Alanis-Morissette-You-Oughta-Know-Video">Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (Video)</a>

Hand in My Pocket

<a href="http://www.joost.com/0820237/t/Alanis-Morissette-Hand-In-My-Pocket-Video-Version">Alanis Morissette - Hand In My Pocket (Video Version)</a>

Head Over Heals

14) Carly Simon: Keeper of one of the biggest musical mysteries of all time, Carly Simon still will not say publicly who was "so vain, you probably think this song is about you" (I say it is either Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger or Jame Taylor). Like Joni Mitchell, she is known as one of the best singer-songwriters of all time (and married to James Taylor!).

You're So Vain

You Belong to Me

Coming Around Again

Haven't Got Time/ Anticipation/ That's The Way

15) Etta James: Ms. Blues herself has delved into several other musical styles, such as Soul, R&B, RocknRoll, Gospel, Pop and Jazz. Although she is best known for the song "At Last," her talent is better heard through a wide variety of songs she has recorded and her sassy personality.

I'd Rather Go Blind

I Just Wanna Make Love to You

All I Could Do was Cry

Sugar on the Floor

16) Ella Fitzgerald: The "Queen of Scat," Ms. Ella was able to give a jazzy twist to any Pop standard. Not only that, she popularizes the form of scatting, basically making up gibberish off the top of her head and making it sound good!

Sentimental Mood

Blue Moon

One Note Samba

Cheek to Cheek w/ Louis Armstrong

17) Billie Holiday: She did not have a wide range in her vocals, but Billie Holiday was able to give an intimate and sentimental feeling to any of her songs. She proved that you did not need to have a great voice, but you still needed "soul."

The Very Thought of You

Easy Livin'

Pennies From Heaven

These Foolish Things

18) Madonna: Even though I cannot stand her, and I find her obnoxious and trying to get attention all the time, I have to give her respect as a great performer. As one of the highest-selling females of all time, there are songs, especially her earlier songs, that are both catchy and creatively done.



Papa Don't Preach

La Isla Bonita

19) Diana Ross: The "Pop Diva" went from the front of the Supremes to a solo career. Her voice may not be virtuosic, but she works with what she got!

Upside Down

Love Hangover

Missing You

Love Child

20) Mary J. Blige: Last but not least, the "Queen of Hip-hop Soul" was able to successful blend the vocal style of Soul music with Hip-hop beats. She has only been around for about 20 year, but she is a legend in her own right and influencing other singers like Keyshia Cole and Ciara.

One Love w/ U2

Just Fine

You Are My Everything

A Dream

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Brand New Flava In Your Ear"

Some new music coming at ya!

1) Musiq Soulchild- So Beautiful: The title describes the song perfectly; it is "So Beautiful!" His video is just as good! I wish a guy would romantically take pictures of me! Anyone? Anyways, this is another song to add to your list to slow dance to with your special one.

2) Lily Allen- The Fear: Yeah! Music that criticizes the whole celebrity and Hollywood system! The lyrics are done intelligently with a little humor in it. More artists should be like Lily and stand up and say how ridiculous it is and more of the public should realize how ridiculous it is. Two thumbs up for Lily!

3) Demi Lovato- Don't Forget: I know what your thinking-- another Disney star. But Demi is not your typical Disney star; she can really sing and is a very mature and deep songwriter (Just listen to "La La Land") On numerous occasions, she has even dissed Disney (She said in an interview that Disney "has no tears," as in it is Happy-land). I love the song and the video, especially because it is so emotional! By the end of the video, I wanted to cry along with Demi. Also proving that she is a really great actress!

4) Kid Cudi- Day and Night: The first time I heard this song, it had a faster beat and the video took place in a supermarket. Definitely wrong choices for this song. Fortunately, Cudi slowed down the beat and gave the video an urban cartoon vibe. Now, I love the laid-back, trip-hop style he has and I can see why Kanye signed him to his label!

5) P.O.S.- Optimist: I love the Alternative Hip-hop that is coming out. This song is like Stomp meets the Hood! Now there is some Hip-hop that actually says something, including positive lyrics, and Hip-hop that is innovative; I am loving it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Who's That..." Artists of the Day

Looking for some new artists...this is the place to be!

1) Bic Runga: One of the highest-selling New Zealand artists ever, it is strange why the Pop-folk singer is not huge in the United States and Britain. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand to a Chinese Malaysian mother and a Maori (native of New Zealand) father, Briolette Kah Bic Runga grew up around a musically-inclined family and at the age of four recorded songs with her sisters, Boh and Pearl. She learned to play drums at eleven and learned the guitar at fourteen, along with learning the keyboard. By her mid-teens, she was joining local Jazz groups and high school bands. In 1993, she entered the Smokefreerockquest with Kelly Horgen as the group "Love Soup," and won third place, leading to a contract with Pagan Records. Runga recorded the first single, "Drive," in Wellington, but she was not happy with the direction that her music was going, so she moved to Aukland in 1994 to spend a year writing and performing. One year later, she sent the demo to Sony Music, who signed her that year. The song entered the Top 10 in New Zealand and won her the Silver Scroll Songwriting Award in 1996. Bic released the album Drive, which included the hit singles, "Sway," "Good Morning Baby" (the two songs were in AMerican Pie and Cruel Intentions) and "Drive." Since then, she has released her top-charting albums in New Zealand, Beautiful Collision, Birds and Try to Remember Everything.



Suddenly Strange

Get Some Sleep

Something Good

2) Eclectic Collective (Now called the Bad Rabbits): The Boston-focused band is a mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rhythm and Blues and Rock with socially conscious lyrics. It felt like they were this decade's Fugees. Made up of nine members, the band gave other groups with fake musical sounds a run for their money. Sadly, their last show as a group under that name was in October of last year. Fortunately now members of the group have reorganized into the Bad Rabbits. Many fans are hoping they are as good as or even better than Eclectic Collective.

So Sad


Teenage Love w/ Slick Rick

The Fall Off

Stick Up Kids

3) Eve 6: The Southern Claifornia Rock band were made up of Max Collins (vocals, bass), Jon Siebels (guitar), and Tony Fagenson (drums). Forming in 1995 in La Crescenta, California, the group's first names were Yakoo and Eleventeen before they adopted the name Eve 6. Getting a record contract with RCA while still in high school and changed their name after Tony saw an X-files episode called "Eve" (they had a song on the show). The only hit singles the group had were "Inside Out" and the slow anthem "Here's to the Night." Poor sales of It's All In Your Head lead to Eve 6 being released from their RCA contract. After this, they announced their breakup on their last show in July 2004. Max and Tony have since reunited to form the band The Sugi Tap and then changed it back to Eve 6.

Inside Out

Here's to the Night

Tongue Tied

Open Road Song


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Gene Vincent (February 11, 1935 - October 12, 1971)

Known as one of the pioneers of Rock n Roll and in particular the style of Rockabilly, Vincent started had a huge impact on the rebellious nature of RocknRoll, especially with the style of leather jackets. Gene Vincent was born Vincent Eugene Craddock in Virginia. Since he was born in Virginia, Gene was surrounded by Country (His family owned a country store), Rhythm and Blues and Gospel music, which later helped him become influential in the Rockabilly style. He received his first guitar at the age of 12, which moved him more into RocknRoll instead of Country music. At first, Gene prepared to be a sailr and dropped out of school at seventeen to enlist in the Navy in 1952. while he was a good sailor (completed Korean War deployment), he was known as a troublemake on shore. In 1955, he used his Navy reenlistment bonus to buy a motorbike, but ended up invovled in a severe motorcycle accident in which he was hit by a car and damaged his leg. Vincent nearly lost his leg, but since he refused to have it amputated, the hospital saved it, leaving him with a limp and chronic pain for the rest of his life. Shortly after, he was medically discharged from the Navy.

Without his first choice in a career gone, Vincent turned to music. He changed his name and formed a Rockabilly band called the Bluecaps, including Willie Williams on rhythm guitar, Jack Neal on upright bass, Dickie Harrell on drums, Paul Peek singer and guitar and Cliff Gallup, who became an influential guitarist (watch out later for his "Underground Legends" feature). The group played in several country bands before entering a talent contest put together by local radio DJ "Sheriff Tex" Davis, who became their manager. In 1956, he wrote "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and signed a publishing contract with Bill Lowery of The Lowery Group of music publishers in Atlanta, Georgia. His recording of "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was sent to a Capitol Records A&R man and he signed a contract with the label. "Be-Bop-A-Lula," which was actually the B-side of another song "Woman Love," became a huge hit peaking at #7 and staying on the charts for 20 weeks. However, the group were unable to have any follow-up hits, still they had critical acclaim with songs like "Racing with the Devil" and "Bluejean Bop."

In 1957, the group managed to have another hit with "Lotta Lovin'," which peaked at #13 and was on the charts for 19 weeks. Altogether he sold over 3 million records of "Be-Bo-A-Lula" and "Lotta Lovin'." That year, he toured with Little Richard and Eddie Cochran (watch out later for his "Underground Legends" feature, too.) and also starred in the film "The Girl Can't Help It" with his tour mates. As an untypical Fifties rocker with an elaborate sound and messy look, Vincent was the image of rebellious youth. Gene Vincent and the Bluecap's last US single was "Dance to the Bop," peaking at #23 and staying 9 weeks on the charts. Capitol released six albums by Vincent and the Blue Caps between 1957 and 1960.

Gene visited Europe in 1959 and attracted new fans (as most singers who lose fame in US do). In 1960, Gene, songwriter Sharon Sheeley and her fiancee Eddie Cochran were in a serious car accident in which the taxi they were in blew a tire and swerved off the road slamming into a lamp-post. Vincent broke his ribs, collarbone, and further damaged his weak leg, Sheeley had a broken pelvis and Cochran later died from brain damage. After, Gene moved to England in 1963. During his British tours, he adopted the trademark leather outfit in RocknRoll and his stage shows later influenced many Rock stars today.

He tried to reestablish his career in the US in the Folk Rock and Country Rock genres, but could not regain the success he had in the fifties. Albums like, "Am I That Easy to Forget" and "I'm Back and I'm Proud" were critically acclaimed. Gene soon had a drinking problem as a result of his lack of success. A few weeks before he died, he recorded four tracks for Rockin' Ronny Weiser's Rolling Rock label in the US and five tracks in Britain in October (Later released as "The Final Sessions."). Gene Vincent died on October 12, 1971 from a ruptured stomach ulcer while visiting his father in California.

Vincent was the first inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1997 and the following year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


1) Gene Vincent was friends with Sam Cooke. He loved his music and recorded "Another Saturday Night" in 1964 and "Bring It On Home to Me" shortly before his own death in 1971.

2) Many artists have been inspired by Gene Vincent, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, The Beatles, the Stray Cats, The White Stripes and Bruce Springsteen.


Lotta Lovin'

Baby Blue

Rip It Up

Roll Over Beethoven (cover of Chuck Berry song; Gene reminds of Chuck in his style)

Dance to the Bop

BlueJean Bop

Race with the Devil

Say Mama

Pistol-Packing Mama (His only UK hit)

Over the Rainbow (Great cover!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Rewind"- You Don't Love Me (No, No, No) by Dawn Penn

Here is some classic Rocksteady music!

Recorded in 1967, this song was a remake of the 1961 classic Blues song "You Don't Love Me" by Willie Cobbs, which was also a remake of the 1955 Bo Diddley song, "She's Fine, She's Mine" aka "You Don't Love Me." The song has been covered by artists, like Eve and Rihanna, and sampled by others like MIMS, Ghostface Killah and Lily Allen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"The Golden Musicals"

Speaking of MGM musicals, this is one of my favorite -- Singing in the Rain!

Known as one of the greatest musicals in film history, the 1952 musical starred Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen and Donald O'Connor. It was making fun of the transition from silent film to talking pictures (Basically, if your voice sounded terrible, you were out of a job in Hollywood!). Gene Kelly was in charge of directing the choreography and dance numbers in the film, while Stanely Donan directed the rest of the film. Arthur Freed, who produced the film, also was the lyricists for the songs (Nacio Herb Brown wrote the music).


In the "Singing in the Rain" scene, Gene Kelly actually had a 103-degree fever and had to dance in a very warm jacket. Luckily, there was rain to help cool him off a bit, but he is a true professional to do one of the most famous musical scenes in history while sick!

Debbie Reynolds was not a trained dancer and Kelly actually insulted her about that. One day on the set, Reynolds met up with Fred Astaire and he actually help her with the choreography. This was unusual for Astaire because he often practiced his dances alone.

Gene Kelly was 39, while Debbie Reynolds, his love interest in the film, was only 18! Close to statutory rape status much!

Surprisingly, in a movie involving lip-synching, Reynolds voice was sometimes actually Jean Hagen's voice and her singing voice was dubbed over by Betty Noyes during the scenes when Reynold's character is dubbing for Jean hagen's character. Ironic, isn't it?

Here are some of my favorite songs from the film:

1) Make 'Em Laugh (an exact copy of Cole Porter's "Be a Clown," which was performed by Gene Kelly and Judy Garland in 1948 in The Pirate. )(I heard it took Donald a few days to recover from the physical stunts he had to do!)

2) Moses Supposes (Hilarious!)

3) Good Morning

4) Singing in the Rain

5) Dream of You

6) Beautiful Girl (Love the song, not the fashions!)

7) You Were Meant for Me

8) Lucky Star

9) Would You

I love all the songs from this movie; that is why it is so great!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Music Note #4:" Is Disney the Baby of MGM?

If you are old enough, you should remember the Golden Age of the Musical Film from the 1930s to the 1960s in which MGM studios was the king. If not, you may recognize some of the most famous musicals in history:

An American in Paris (1951)

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Babes in Arms (1937)

The Band Wagon (1953)

The Broadway Melody (1929, 1935)

Easter Parade (1948)

For Me and My Gal (1942)

Funny Face (1957)

Gigi (1958)

Guys and Dolls (1955)

High Society (1956)

Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Kiss Me, Kate (1953)

Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

On the Town (1949)

Show Boat (1951)

Singing in the Rain (1952)

Viva Las Vegas (1964)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Ziegfield Follies (1946)

In those days, it was good to be a triple threat- a singer, an actor and a dancer; even if you could not sing or dance that well, you had to learn (Marlon Brando had to with Guys and Dolls). Some of MGM's most famous stars included, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse, Donald O' Connor, Ann Miller, Howard Keel, Leslie Caron and Kathryn Grayson. The studio even had MGM Records, which was created in 1946 to release soundtracks to their musicals. But they also signed artists who were not in the musical films, such as Lou Rawls, Sammy Davis Jr., The Righteous Brothers, and Roy Orbinson.

Other studios produced quite a number of musicals that were hits, too. Paramount pictures produced Bing Crosby and Bob Hope's Road films, while RKO produced musicals with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Twentieth-Century Fox produced Shirley Temple films, musicals with Betty Grable and later the great The Sound of Music.

However, as films in the 1960s and 1970s began to focus more on being realistic, the Golden Age of Musical Film grew dimmer. Audiences became more cynical and the musicals of the past seem just too artificial and after a while it felt like studios were making musicals with no real or original story to them. But that happened in 1933, when the studios overdid the musicals, too...

It is now the new millenium and what do we have to replace MGM...Disney! Once again, other studios have released live action musicals, such as Cry Baby (Universal/Imagine, 1990), Chicago (Mirimax, 2002), Moulin Rouge (20th Century Fox, 2001), Dreamgirls (Dreamworks/Paramount, 2006), Mamma Mia! (Universal, 2008) and Hairspray (New Line Cinema, 2007). But, as wonderful as they are, these musicals ran in the same direction as the view in the 60s and 70s, which is more gritty and realistic films or films that have to do with social problems or contemporary issues (like a single mother who does not know who the father of her child is in Mamma Mia!). That sense of innocence and just pure fun is somewhat lost in those films (even though I do love them, too.)

Only Disney has been able to keep that sense of innocence by broadening the audience of these musicals to younger audiences. The age group have not grown old enough yet to be cynical when it comes to musicals and just enjoy them for what they are: two-hours of escapism from the world. Disney has had a long history of musicals, but it was mostly animated musicals in the past:

Snow White (1937)

Pinocchio (1940)

Cinderella (1950)

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Aladdin (1992)

The Lion King (1994)

Pocahantas (1995)

The Huchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Mulan (1998)

Now, mostly through telelvision, Disney has continued with the MGM style of musicals. The three High School Musical movies (2006, 2007, 2008) , the three Cheetah Girls movies (2003, 2006, 2008) and the new Camp Rock movie (2008 and the upcoming sequel) have revitalized the musical film genre. Also, like MGM, Disney has its own record company, called Hollywood Record, which has signed artists like the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and Raven Symone. Although it has other non-Disney artists (Queen, Atreyu, Ballas Hough Band, Breaking Benjamin and Plain White T's), several of the artists on the label also appear is the Disney Channel shows and musical films. Most of the actors on the channel are also expected to sing and dance, even if they cannot do either well (they have to learn). De Ja Vu? In addition to that, others channels are trying to cash in, like Nickelodeon and their new musical, Spectacular. It even has certain stars from the channel, such as Miranda Cosgrove and Drake Bell, who are starting music careers.

In the broad American audience, the MGM-styled musical films are a part of the innocent, nostalgic past. On the other hand, on children-centered networks, like Disney and Nickelodeon, its soul still lives on...

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Who's That..." Artists of the Day

Ready for some info on a few artists? Here we go:

1) Brand New Heavies: The kings of the Acid Jazz (or Groove Jazz) genre, which is a mix of Jazz, Hip-hop and Funk music. Brand New Heavies formed in London, England in 1985 as an instrumental group, called Brother International. After signing their first record contract, they came up with the name Brand New Heavies from a James Brown single that declared him "Minister of New Super Heavy Funk." Soon, the group gained a cult following in the London club scene. The band signed to a division of Chrysalis Records in the UK, and American distribution was picked up by the label Delicious Vinyl, and N'Dea Davenport (who had signed an artist development deal with Delicious Vinyl) replaced Jay Ella Ruth as the lead singer. They rerecorded their first album with Davenport and released singles "Dream Come True", "Never Stop" and "Stay This Way," which became hits in Europe and America. Appearing with MC Search and Q-tip at a NYC performance convinced them to incorporate more Hip-hop into their music. Their next album was the critically acclaimed Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1, which included collaborations with Guru of Gang Starr and The Pharcyde, among others, but lacked any female vocals. Brother Sister (1994) was the last album to feature Davenport for a while because she wanted to pursue a solo project, but it did generate more hit singles. Four singers, Siedah Garrett, Carleen Anderson, Sy Smith and Nicole Russo replaced N'Dea, but they were not as good as her. In April 2006, the Brand New Heavies reunited with N'Dea Davenport and former label Delicious Vinyl. A new album, Get Used to It, was released in June 2006 with the lead single "I Don't Know Why I Love You." Later in 2006, they released the song "Jump N Move," which was featured on the move Happy Feet. The band still tours today.

Brother Sister

I Don't Know Why I Love You (cover of Stevie Wonder song)

Dream Come True

Dream On Dreamer

Spend Some Time

Jump N Move

2) Simply Red: One of the few English Soul bands, Simply Red actually started as a punk band after lead singer, Mike Hucknall, attended a Sex Pistols show. The group was first called Frantic Elevators and stayed together for seven years until 1984 when they released their last single, "Holding Back the Years." By 1985, he had assembled a new band, signed to Elektra, and the group adopted the name Simply Red because of Hucknall's red hair and left-wing views. They released their album, Picture Book, and a hit single, "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)," a cover of a soul standard originally recorded by The Valentine Brothers. In 1986 the band re-recorded "Holding Back the Years" in an interesting soul ballad style, which was an even bigger hit. Their second album, 1987's Men and Women saw the band adopting bowler hats and colorful suits instead of their earlier ragamuffin look, and the deep lyrics and social commentary of their debut replaced by a blue-eyed soul/funk sound. A New Flame (1989), their third album, was a more mainstream commercial sound with a cover of Harold Melvin's pop classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now." The group continues with more albums, like Stars (1993, with the UK hit, "Fairground"), Home (2003), and Simplified (2005).

Holding Back the Years (One of my favorite songs; Angie Stone covered this song for the movie, Love and Basketball)

Sunrise (You may recognize it from some car commercial)

Money's Too Tight to Mention


3) Missy Higgins: She is an award-winning Australian singer-songwriter who began her music career in 2001. After attracting the attention of manager John Watson, she released her first single with his record label Eleven in November 2003. Her second single, "Scar", was released in August 2004, debuting at #1 on the Australian charts. "The Special Two," her third single was a hit, debuting at #2. Another single, "Ten Day," peaked at #12 on the ARIA charts. Her first album, The Sound of White, was released in September 2004. In 2004, Higgins was nominated in four categories at the ARIA Awards, including "Best Female Artist," "Single of the Year" and "Best Pop Release" (she won this one). The next year, Higgins was nominated for a further seven ARIA Awards, winning "Album of the Year," "Best Female Artist," "Best Pop Release," "Breakthrough Artist - Album Release" and "Highest Selling Album." Before she lived temporarily in Los Angeles to record her second album, she toured the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa in 2006. Her second album, On a Clear Night, was released on April 28 2007. "Steer", the first single from the album, was released the same month. Again, in August 2007, she settled temporarily in L.A. to promote her record in the US market. On a Clear Night was released in the US on February 28, 2008 with a tour in March to coincide with the release in the U.S.


Where I Stood

The Special Two


Ten Days

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Alton Ellis (September 1, 1938 – October 10, 2008)

"The Father of Rocksteady" and "The Godfather of Reggae," as he was known, helped bridge the gap between Ska music and Reggae. Born in Kingston, Jamaica in the Trench Town district, he was the first singer to popularized the music genre.

Coming from a musical family, Alton learned piano at a young age and began his career, as a dancer at the age of sixteen on competing on Vere Johns' Opportunity Hour. After winning several competitions over a two year period, Alton switched to singing in 1959 as part of the duo Alton & Eddy (Eddy Perkins). Their first recording on the Coxsone label, 'Muriel', was a major RnB-styled hit in Jamaica. Other songs they recorded were "My Heaven". "Lullabye Angel", "I Know It All", "I'm Never Gonna Cry", and "Yours."

After Eddy left Jamaica to live in America, Alton formed a group named Alton and The Flames. They recorded a large number of hit songs on the Treasure Isle label, including 'Dance Crashers', Girl I've got a Date', 'Rock Steady' and 'Black Man's Pride'. By the mid 1960s, ska and its beat was slowing down to Rocksteady and becoming associated with the violent rude boy subculture in Jamaican dancehalls, although Alton was anti-rudie, unlike Bob Marley. His Mr. Soul of Jamaica album is regarded as one of the definitive Rocksteady albums. After three years with Alton and The Flames, Alton launched his career as a solo artist and joined the 'Studio One Label' in 1967.

The amount of hits that Alton created during this period made him even bigger than Bob Marley in Jamaica. Some of his hits included "I'm Still in Love", "Breaking Up," "Back to Africa," "Deliver Us," and "I'm Just a Guy." His first album 'Rock and Soul', released on the Studio One label was big, paving the way for the many other Rocksteady and Reggae artists. Alton left Jamaica in 1969 to spend two years in Toronto, Canada. In 1974, he made London, England a permanent home. Alton has received several awards for his achievements as an artist and his contribution to the Reggae Music Industry from the following: Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government, the International Reggae and World Music Hall of Fame, The Jamaican Cultural Development Commission, British Music Industry, Black Echoes, The Voice, Reggae Hall of Fame and KGFJ, a Los Angeles radio station.


1) The riddim from his song "Mad Mad" (1967) has been used in over a hundred other songs. From the song, many have sampled the recognizable three-note descending horn line, which was first reinterpreted by Henry "Junjo" Lawes and eventually became known as the "Diseases" reggae riddim. It is heard in Yellowman's hit song ""Zungguzungguguzungguzeng", which has in turn been sampled and reinterpreted by popular hip hop artists including KRS-One, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur and Blackstar, reinforcing the connectiong between Hip-hop and Reggae. This has made Ellis a major but little-known influence in the path of dancehall, reggae and hip hop.

2) Ellis has also had many children, over twenty, and two of them, Noel and Christopher are Reggae singers.

3) Sasha and Sean Paul did a cover of his song "I'm Still in Love With You" in 2004.

I'm Still In Live With You

I'll Never Fall In Love Again

I'm Just a Guy


Alton & Eddy

Ain't That Loving You (with the Flames)

Mad Mad

La La Means I Love You (cover of Delfonics' song)

Breaking Up (one of my favorites! One of the first songs I heard growing up.)

Girl, I've Got a Date (Another song I heard growing up.)

Dance Crashers