Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Rewind"- Sweet Lady by Tyrese

Note: I do not care what you say Vee (my cousin), Tyrese has a great voice. (LOL)

Anyways, here is some information about the song:

After Johnta Austin was dropped from RCA in 1995 (sadly, he hit puberty), he was replaced by a new young male singer, Tyrese. However, he kept writing songs and six months later submitted the lyrics for "Sweet Lady" for Tyrese's debut album. By the time Austin graduated high school in Atlanta, the song was a top 10 hit in 1998.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Covers, Samples, Reworks and Answer Songs"

Ever wonder what the original version of a song sounded like or who created it? In this new feature, I will give you songs that have led to hit cover songs, been used as samples in R&B and Hip-hop songs, and led to songs that answered them back. Here we go:

Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" was on his 1976 album, Songs in the Key of Life. The song was about how we as a society needed to change our social problems, and stop living in the past hoping that it could have been better, but to make a better future for our children. In 1995, Coolio sampled and rewrote some of the lyrics the song to create "Gangsta's Paradise," which was on the Dangerous Minds soundtrack and featured the R&B singer L.V. With this song, Coolio changed the lyrics to reflect the hard lives of inner-city black youths, which was very different from Wonder's more positive message.

Stevie Wonder - Pastime Paradise

Coolio feat. L.V. - Gangsta's Paradise

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Brand New Flava In Your Ear"

Some new music coming your way!

1) Green Day - Know Your Enemy: This song is so unbelievably catchy with simple but revolutionary lyrics. I can imagine a group of marginalized people blasting this song while storming a government institution. It fits my idea of a politically active song that makes you think and at the same time you can dance to it. Two thumbs up!

2) Ginuwine - Last Chance: Gin-U-Fine (Ha, Ha) is back! No matter what is going on in music, I can rely on singers like Ginuwine to bring that soulful nature and 90s R&B to the music. I love his voice and it is a great love song!

3) Johnta Austin - The One That Got Away: Another great R&B artist. He has written songs for such artists as Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, the late Aaliyah and Tyrese, and now finally he coming out with his own stuff. His motto is just to make good music and this song is showing it. I am glad he took the time to start his career because he is a great songwriter, producer and singer. It is sad though that this song is not played more in mainstream radion and Tv; they are just too busy giving us crap to play any of the good stuff. (Note: Mel B from the Spice Girls is in the video)

4) Morningwood - Best of Me: Unfortunately, this is the theme song for another dumb Vh1 reality show, Daisy in Love. But I would gladly watch the beginning of the show just to hear this song. Morning Wood is just plain awesome!

5) Anjulie - Boom: Ignoring the "Boom Shaka Laka" part of the chorus, this song is really good. With a dark, creepy, 60s Beatnick, jazzy sound, I easily forget how silly the lyrics are. It is a nice contrast of quirky, pop lyrics with creative music and a unique singer.

6) Deborah Bond - See You In My Dreams: Here is another reason why I love Neo-soul music. It is so much more original and natural than some of the commercial stuff out there. Calming and smooth, yet very soulful, "See You In My Dreams" is reminiscent of Sade and also 70s Soul.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Louis Jordan (July 8, 1908-February 4, 1975)

"The King of the Jukebox," "The Father of Rhythm and Blues," and "The Grandfather of Rock & Roll," Louis Jordan, with his band Tympany Five, create most of the building blocks for several popular music genres, including R&B, Soul, Rock & Roll and Hip-hop. His jump blues stylehas influenced many artists from James Brown to Little Richard to Chuck Berry to Ray Charles. The alto saxophonist and comical lyricist combined Jazz and Blues to create swinging shuffle rhythms.

Born in Brinkley, Arkansas, Jordan grew up in a musical family. His father was James Aaron Jordan, a local music teacher and bandleader for the Brinkley Brass Band and Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Jordan studied music with his father and learned the clarinet. He also learned the piano, but the alto saxophone became his main instrument. After attending Baptist College in which he majored in music, he went to Philadephia and then New York. Performing with swing bands, including drummer Chick Webb's band at the Savoy Ballroom, Jordan went solo in 1938 after gaining confidence that he could be a bandleader because of his lively showmanship.

Louis Jordan's first band, which was compromised from members of the Jesse Stone band, was originally made up of nine members but later reduced to a six member band. The original lineup was Jordan (alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, vocals), Courtney Williams (trumpet), Lem Johnson (tenor saxophone), Clarence Johnson (piano), Charlie Drayton (bass) and Walter Martin (drums). Since Martin used timpani drums often, the group was named the Tympany Five. Other performers who came into the lineup included Bill Jennings (guitar), Carl Hogan (guitar), Wild Bill Davis (piano), Bill Doggett (piano), Chris Columbus (drums), and Dallas Bartley (bass). They signed to Decca Records, which began a decade and half successful music career.

"I'm Gonna Leave You on the Outskirts of Town" was Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five's first major hit on #2 on Billboard's Harlem Hit Parade (precursor to R&B charts). It was an "answer record" to his earlier song "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town." "What's The Use of Gettin' Sober (When You're Gonna Get Drunk Again)" became Jordan's first #1 hit in 1942. However, "Five Guys Named Moe," which reached # # on race charts, standardized the fast tempo, swinging style and became his trademark music. In 1942, he moved to Los Angeles, where he began making "soundies" (precursor to music videos).

In the 1940s, Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five had several other hits, such as "Saturday Night Fish Fry," "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens," "Jack, You Dead," "Buzz Me," and "Choo Choo Ch'boogie" (a multi-million dollar seller). Two of his biggest hits was "Caldonia" with the famous shouting hook, "Caldonia, Caldonia, What makes your big head so hard," and "G.I. Jive"/"Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" (was in the Tom & Jerry cartoon, Solid Serenade) also helped him to crossover into mainstream market. In all, Louis Jordan had 18 number 1 hits and 54 top ten singles. "Saturday Night Fish Fry" is considered to be one of the first Rock & Roll songs because it uses the word "rocking" and has a focus on the distorted electric guitar.

By the 1950s, Jordan's popularity began to decline as other styles of music, like Rock & Roll, began to popularize an big bands were declining, too. He switched to Mercury Records and tried to make his sound full Rock & Roll with singles like "Let the Good Times Roll," which did not chart. His last hit was "Weak Minded Blues" in 1951. Still his popularity further diminished and he barely recorded after the early 1960s. Louis Jordan died in Los Angeles from complications from his heart attack in February 1975.


His song "Beans and Corn Bread" was used as the theme song for the TBS show Dinner and a Movie.

Many of his biggest hits were put in the name of his then wife Fleecie Moore as a means of avoiding an existing publishing contract. After their tulmutuous marriage (a domestic dispute resulted in her stabbing him from which he almost died) and divorce, she retained ownership of the songs.

He is the top black recording artist of all time.

Popularized the use of the electric guitar (used in Rock & Roll) and the electric piano and organ (used in R&B and Soul).

Louis Jordan is one of the several artists whose songs are hard to imitate that there has been no hit cover versions.

He popularized many slang words used in Rock& Roll and R&B, such as "chick."

Jordan made a controversial statement that Rock & Roll was R&B played by white musicians, which contradicted artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard who said they were Rock musicians.

In songs like "Beware," "Look Out Sister," and "You Gotta Have Beat," Jordan uses a rapid-fire, semi-spoken vocal style, which was influenced by his experience as a saxophone soloist. He minimizes the importance of the vocal melody for a highly syncopated phrasing that emphasizes alliteration and assonance. It is one of the earliest examples of vocal styling that eventually evolved into rap. (Check later for my Music Note on "The Origins of Rap.")

Recorded the song "Keep a Knocking" before Little Richard made it a hit.

He performed with a young Ella Fitzgerald while in Chick Webb's band.

Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

A Broadway musical named Five Guys Named Moe, based on his songs and persona, opened in 1992.


Choo Choo Ch'Boogie

Buzz Me Baby

Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (Loius Jordan and Tom & Jerry versions)

Beans and Cornbread

Jack, You Dead (Funny!)

Let the Good Times Roll

Saturday Night Fish Fry (one of the first Rock & Roll songs)\

Five Guys Named Moe


Look Out Sister

You Gotta Have Beat

How Long Must I Wait For You

There Aint Nobody Here But Us Chickens

Deacon Jones (Funny!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Earworm 5"

Louis Jordan - Caldonia

This guy was a major influence of many R&B and Soul artists. "Caldonia" is funny and catchy, and you can definitely hear the influence he had on artists like Little Richard.

Check out his "Underground Legends" feature tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Music of the World"

Today is Earth Day! So as a reminder to go and help the environment, here are some earth-related and earthy songs. Enjoy!

The Byrds - Turn, Turn, Turn

The Rascals- A Beautiful Morning (Ignore weird video)

Louis Armstrong- What a Wonderful World

Marvin Gaye - Mercy, Mercy Me

Michael Jackson - Heal the World

Michael Jackson - Earth Song

Elton John - Circle of Life

Bertolf Lentink - The Green Song

John Mayer - Waiting on the World to Change

Paul Kantner & Grace Slick - Earth Mother (Soon released after the first Earth Day)

and drum roll...

Earth Wind and Fire (Hey, where's water?) - That's the Way of the World

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Brand New Flava In Your Ear"

I know it has been a while, but it is time again for some new music!

1) Friendly Fires - Skeleton Boy: This song is funky! I cannot stop dancing! Ed Macfarlane's voice fits perfectly with the beat. And the video is simple but memorable; black background and they turn into skeletons!

2) Keri Hilson w/ Kanye West and Ne-yo - Knocks U Down: Once again, Keri Hilson proves that she cannot make a hit record on her own. She was great on Timbaland's song "The Way I Are." I liked her song "Energy," but it was not a hit. Her other song "Turning Me On" turned me off. It is a good song. If Kanye West was not on it, it would have probably been better (he is distracting). But if you ignore Kanye, Keri and Ne-yo's parts are good.

Official Video:

3) Busta Rhymes w/ T-Pain- Hustler's Anthem: Busta is back to his old self! This is the extremely playful and colorful guy I missed. The song reminds me of his earlier hit "Woo Hah." As several times before, his video that makes me think I am on an acid trip (AWESOME!). Plus, T-pain's teeth look like he has not brushed them in ten years. All in all, this should definitely be another smash for Busta.

4) Silversun Pickups- Panic Switch: Ever since I saw the music video "Little Lover So Polite," which Joaquin Phoenix directed (Woohoo!), I fell in love with Silversun Pickups. Now, with another video on this list that makes me think I am on an acid trip, Brian Aubert's whispery and eerie voice goes well with the driving and hard-hitting music. Great song!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ongaku Ga Ski Desu!

April is Asian History Month! So, for my first April doing my blog, I will play some Japanese music! Tanoshi!

Ulfuls- Banzai

Shion Tsuji- Sky Chord

Utada Hikaru- First Love


Simple and Clean (English and Japanese versions)

Greeeen- High G.K. Low

Angela Aki- Tegami (the Letter)


Pushim- Hey Boy

The Race of Love

Strong Woman

Metis- 梅は咲いたか 桜はまだかいな180


Ayumi Hamasaki- Curtain Call

Orange Range - Viva Rock


Masaharu Fukuyama - Sakurazaka

Emi Hinouchi - Katamoi

Se7en - Atai

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Solomon Linda (1909-October 8, 1962)

Solomon Linda was a South African Zulu singer and musician, who is most remembered for his song "Mbube," which he and the Evening Birds recorded in 1939. Linda was born near Ladysmith in the impoverished village of Msinga area of Zululand. He attended the Gordon Memorial School in the South African village, where he heard the popular Black American vocalist Orpheus McAdoo performing with his group, The Virginia Jubilee Singers. The syncopated music that was spreading across South Africa had a major influence on Solomon and he incorporated it into his own songs that he sang at weddings and dinners with friends.

After moving to Johannesburg in the 30s to find work, Linda began singing during the weekend with an acappella group. In two years, they became a professional group called Solomon Linda and the Evenening Birds. In 1933, the group disbanded, but Linda created a new group and used the same name. Linda's distinct falsetto helped them to get discovered by a talent scout and producer, Griffith Motsieloa, in 1938 after they performed in several choir competitions. Since Linda worked for Eric Gallo Recording Company's Roodepoort plant as a record packer in 1939, the Evening Birds and Solomon recorded several songs in his studio. During the session, the song "Mbube" finished in four takes. "Mbube" became a word-of-mouth hit and sold 100,000 copies. Unfortunately, Linda only received 10 shillings (Less than US $2) for the rights to the song.

In 1948, the Evening Birds broke up and Linda went on to marry a woman named Regina and started a family. He still continued to perform and his song made him a star in South Africa. During the early fifties, Alan Lomax, a famous folk musicologist, found the recording made by the Evening Birds and introduced it to Pete Seeger of the Weavers. Seeger could not hear the words properly on the scratchy recording, so he mistook the word "uyimbube" ("You're a Lion") as "wimoweh." The Weavers recorded the song in 1952 and it quickly became a Top 20 hit in the US. At Carnegie Hall, the group recorded their famous and influential live version in 1957 and it became a folk music standard. The Token, a Pop group, were inspired by the live recording to craeate their 1961 hit, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Although the song gained huge popularity worldwide, Solomon Linda remained poor. The only compensation he received was a $1000 check from Pete Seeger (who publicly credits him for the song) for "Mbube." He collapsed on stage in 1959 and diagnosed with kidney disease. After two years in and out of the hospital, Linda died on October 8, 1962 from kidney failure. Regina, his wife, was too poor to buy a tombstone, so it took 18 years before one was erected for him.


The acappella style (Isicathamiya) that was popularized by Ladysmith Black Mambazo was named "Mbube" after Linda's song. Linda is credited with the vocal innovation of using a number of bass singers instead of one singer for each part and a falsetto voice for the lead. It combined the call-and-repsonse form of African music with the choral sound. (Also, his group was known for wearing striped suits to show that they were urban sophisticates.)

There has been over 160 versions of the song "Mbube," including the versions of "Wimoweh," and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Many artists, such as the Kingston Trio, the Tuxedo Swingsters, Miriam Makeba, Jim Dorsey, Karl Denver, Robert John, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Brian Eno, R.E.M. and Nsync, have had hits from the three versions of the song.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has appeared in a few movies, Coming to America, Dogfight, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and most famously, The Lion King.

In 2006, Linda's daughters received royalties after suing Walt Disney Company for using the song in The Lion King (some justice has been served).

Mbube - Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds

Mbube - Miriam Makeba

Mbube - Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Wimoweh (suppose to be Mbube) - Pete Seeger and the Weavers

Wimoweh (suppose to be uyimbube) - Kingston Trio

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Nsync

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Brian Eno

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"The Golden Musicals"

My favorite Disney movie of all time-- The Lion King! It was the first movie I saw in theaters when I was four or five.

Here a little story about me and my Lion King videotape:

When I was in elementary school, I lent my Lion King video to a classmate because he wanted to see it. After a few days, I asked for my tape back and he said he was not done with it. Each day I would ask him if he brought it, but he would tell me either he was not finished with it or that he forgot. Eventually, I gave up and I never got my tape back. That is why till this day I do not like to lend anybody my stuff often because I do not trust that they will return it. So, wherever you are, and you know you are, I am letting you know that I still remember that.


The Lion King was released in 1994 and was the 32nd film from the Disney animated features canon. Heavily influenced by Hamlet and the stories of Joseph and Moses from the Bible, the anthropomorphic animated musical was the highest grossing animated film of all time before the release of Finding Nemo. Still, it is the highest grossing of all traditionally animated films and is part of the Disney Renaissance in which Disney animated films were great by itself (without the help of Pixar). Songs in the film were composed by Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice.


The Lion King bears a strong resemblance to the West African Epic of Sunidata, who was called the "Lion King."

The movie also bears a coincidental resemblance to a Japanese anime series, called Kimba the White Lion, from Simba's name (which means "lion" in Swahili) to other characters to specific scenes (for example, the famous one in which Mufasa was standing on pride rock).

Solomon Linda's (he will be on the next "Undergound Legends") family sued Disney for using the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," which was based on his 1939 song "Mbube," in a scene with Timon and Pumba.

Circle of Life

I Just Can't Wait to Be King

Hakuna Matata

Can You Feel the Love Tonight

Be Prepared

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

The Morning Report (It was not in the original theatrical release)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Uncovering the Truth": Country Music Is the True Soul Music?

While interviewing Darius Rucker, formerly of Hootie and the Blowfish, Oprah and him were discussing his song "It Won't Be Like This for Long." Darius wrote the song about his wife and kids. Oprah made a comment that right now Country music is the true soul music. She added that only country music allows you to write about what you feel and topics like your family. In agreement, Darius said that Country music was the only genre for the singer-songwriter.

I was angered by those statements. First, I know Country music is now top-selling when comes to album sales, and is more down to earth than most mainstream music today, but that does not mean there is no Soul music out there. One might have to seep through the trash of mainstream music to find it, but it is there. Just look at the Neo-soul or Alternative Hip-hop artists out there. All of these artists write about subjects that are personal to them. And when I think about most music is "soul" music because someone is writing about what he or she feels.

Moreover, why is the singer-songwriter type delegated to Country music. It is irritating when people put the ability to be a singer-songwriter in a specific genre of music. Every music style has its batch of singer-songwriters, from Alternative Rock/Pop (Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, The Killers, Kings of Leon, etc.) to Hip-hop (Novel, Spree Wilson, Mos Def, etc.).

So, I suggest that Oprah and Darius think before they say something that would insult the rest of the artists in the industry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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

I know it has been a while, but it is time again for some artists you may not have heard of!

*The first two bands are proof of how great Britain (ha ha) is when it comes to music!*

1) The Kooks: The English Indie band formed at Brighton Institute of Modern Music in 2004. Luke Pritchard, the lead singer, did a college project with bassist Max Rafferty, which started the basis of the band. When lead guitarist, Hugh Harris, and drummer, Paul Garred, joined, the group was officially named after the song "Kooks" by David Bowie (from 1971 album Hunky Dorie). Later, they were signed to Virgin Records after releasing an EP. Inside In/ Inside Out was their first album released on the label and their song "Naive" kept their album in the top 20 UK charts for over half of 2006. Eventually the album went triple platinum. After winning Best New Act at the Q awards and Best UK and Ireland Act at MTV's Europe Music Awards, the group put out a second album, Konk, in 2008. Bassist Max Rafferty was soon replaced by Dan Logan after several absences from him. Their second album went to number 1 in the UK and number 2 in Ireland. The album's first single was "Always Where I Need to Be." Currently, the group consists of Luke Pritchard, Hugh Harris, Paul Garred and Peter Denton, who replaced Dan Logan.

Always Where I Need to Be

Ooh La La


She Moves In Her Own Way


2) The Zutons: Coming from Liverpool, the "hard to categorize" Zutons formed in 2001, taking their name from The Magic Band guitarist Bill Harkleroad, whose nickname was Zoot Horn (or "Zuton") Rollo. Originally a four piece band with Dave McCabe (lead singer), Boyan Chowdhury (lead guitarist), Sean Payne (drummer) and Russell Pritchard (bassist), Sean's girlfriend Abi Harding, who plays saxophone, joined the group on stage a few times. The group and the audience liked her so much that she became a full-time member as a vocalist and saxophonist. Although the band put out two records, Devil's Deal and Creepin' and Crawlin', they officially released their debut record in 2004, called Who Killed...... The Zutons?. It reached at number 13 on the UK charts, but a year later, it paked at number 9. Later, the labum was re-issued with the single "Don't Ever Think (Too Much), which reached number 15 on the charts. Their songs "Confusion" and "Pressure Point" were put in both UK and US commercials.

In 2006, their second album, Tired of Hanging Around, was released and reached number 2 on the UK charts. Both singles "Why Won't You Give Me Your Love" and "Valerie" peaked at number 9 on the charts. Several artists have covered the song "Valerie," including Amy Winehouse (her cover reached number 2). On July 13, 2007, the group announced that Boyan Chowdhury left the Zutons for "musical differences." Paul Molly replaced him and The Zutons released their third album in 2008, called You Can Do Anything. "Always Right Behind You" was the first single on the album. Unfortunately, the group was dropped from Sony/BMG during Christmas season of 2008 because of low album sales.

You Will You Won't

Don't Ever Think Too Much



Official Video:

Why Won't You Give Me Your Love

3) Band of Horses: Previously known as the Horses, they formed in 2004 in Seattle by Ben Bridwell (guitar and vocals) and Matt Brooke (guitar) after their former band, Carissa's Weird, disbanded. In February 2006, Joe Arnone joined the group and the same year, they released their album, Everything All the Time. Later that year, Brooke left the band to start a new band, the Grand Archives. Since then, the band relocated to South Carolina and consist of members Ben Bridwell, Creighton Barrett, Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, Bill Reynolds and Blake Mills. Their second album, Cease to Begin, was released in 2007 and called one of the best albums of the year by Paste Magazine. One of their songs, "Funeral," has been used in several car commercials, trailers, video games and shows. The group has been known for their Southern Rock tendencies and glimmering reverb.

The Funeral

Is There a Ghost

The Great Salt Lake

The General Specific

No One's Gonna Love You

4) Spree Wilson: From Tennesse, he calls himself "the new generation's Beat writer, Jack Kerouac-influenced...Hippie peace fighter" and a self-proclaimed nerd. His life was changed when he heard De La Soul's album, 3 Feet High and Rising. Wilson's father was a doo-wop singer in Memphis and he grew up listening to the Blues and Jazz as well as Hip-hop. Also, Spree was influenced by Rock groups, like Nirvana, Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth. These different musical influences had helped Spree Wilson to develop his unique style. When he heard OutKast, Spree decided to become a rapper ans joined the group Knives Out in Atlanta. Spree's solo mixtape, Weird Science, was released in 2007. What makes him different that the typical mainstream rapper is his laidback, witty, and intellectual style of rapping, his guitar skills and his Mr. Rodgers sweater look with an old fedora.

Novel ft. Talib Kweli and Spree Wilson

Where Do We Go From Here

Dreamworld w/ Novel

Welcome to Heartbreak Freestyle w/ Novel

On guitar

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Rewind"- Practice What You Preach by Barry White

Here is one of my favorite songs from Barry White!

This was the biggest hit off of his comeback album, The Icon Is Love (1994).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Music Note" #6: The Stigma of American Idol, Disney and Other Music Franchises

If you have been around for the past 10 years, you have definitely realized the popularity of such music franchises as American Idol, Disney's Hollywood Records and Making the Band.

Although I do enjoy watching these shows and listening to the music from time to time (just for specific singers I like), what I have realized is the negative impact these franchises have had on the individual artists who are labeled as "American Idols," "Disney stars," or "The Bands." The stigma they create severely limits the creativity and choices that an artist who are under their name have. The potential for these singers or groups is there but they are forced to fit into a cookie-cutter formula for the large corporations.
They are not seen as an individual but as a product of that machine. An artist is put into the box that is suppose to guarantee success not artistic freedom.

However, for some, instant celebrity is given to them, but not always instant success. They are big and then the fame fizzles out; their fifteen minutes are up. Some of the biggest examples come from American Idol, itself. It took Kelly Clarkson almost two years after she won American Idol to prove herself as a musician and took her seven years to distance herself from American Idol stamp. Other stars have not been so lucky. Justin Guarini, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Diana Degarmo, Bo Bice, Taylor Hicks, Katherine Mcphee, Blake Lewis still struggle to distance themselves from it. Only Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks and Kelly Clarkson have had consistent success, while the show continues to be hugely popular. Others in the Top 12, like Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson have had larger success. Only time will tell if David Cook and David Archuleta will have ongoing commercial success (I believe Cook will, maybe not Archuleta). That is why sometimes it is better not to win American Idol because that commercial image and sound of an "Idol" is automatically stuck to you (and you would have to sing those pop fluff songs after you win). Fans are willing to vote for them, but after the show has finished the season, they stop caring.

As American Idol is in its eighth season, it is becoming even more apparent that it all about the show, not the contestants. The three most famous people from the show are the judges: Simon, Paula and Randy. "Fights" between Paula and Simon and Randy's "Dawg" comments are as infamous as the terrible singers at the beginning. Shows are no longer live, though they claim to be, and it all appears to be scripted. Singers are kept on the show for not just talent, but also popularity (i.e., Sanjaya). More and more power is given to the judges, whose opinions are differ greatly from viewers. Even worse, the show has reproduced itself in countries all over the world, looking for more pop, assembly-line formed "Idols."

Disney's Hollywood Records is another culprit in marginalizing their artists. What Disney tends to do is over-promote and over-commercialize the same image and sound at the expense of their singers. In order to appeal towards the tween and teen market the label has used what I called the Disney Duplicate method in which each artist is manufactured like dolls. A few of the artists, such as the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato and even Mile Cyrus, have tried to have some agency within the Disney mold. The Jonas Brothers have performed with Stevie Wonder and performanced at the Ryman Auditorium, which included covers of "Free Fallin'" (Tom Petty), "Superstition" (Stevie Wonder), "No Air" (Jordin Sparks), "Waiting In Vain" (Bob Marley) and "American Pie" (Don Mclean). Demi Lovato has released songs like "La La Land" and "Don't Forget," and has trashed Disney on some occasions ("Disney has no tears"). Miley Cyrus released "Start All Over," "See You Again" and "G.N.O.," which have differed musically from her Hannah Montana sound. However, Disney has still tried to stifle these artists' artistic freedom. The label did not allow Demi to sing "I still eat at McDonald's" in her video for "La La Land" (instead she sang "I still eat at Ronald's) and told her that she needed a video that was not as depressing as the one she had for "Don't Forget." Also, Disney tends to promote the teen stars as perfect angels, not as young people who make mistakes. Controversy over private, but provocative, pictures of Miley and Vanessa Hudgens that surfaced on the internet, proved that they were human just like everyone else.

The third franchise, Making the Band, is the cursed one of all three. Starting with O-town and then taken over by P.Diddy to continue with Da Band, Danity Kane, Day 26 and Donnie Klang, the show has been popular due to the drama of the groups. O-town, Da band, and Danity Kane have disbanded, while, at this moment, Day 26 is on the verge of loosing a member or disbanding. All of the stars from Making the Band have had moderate success, but are more famous for the reality show and when the show ends, their fame fades. Moreover, with members coming from various backgrounds without a history together to form a music group that has chemistry will always be a problem. It is already hard to have a group with someone you known for years. What the show does also is increase the fame of P.Diddy and the drama of the groups is for his advantage on the show (to show his power as the CEO). Again, the shows are becoming more scripted for the benefits of the show, not for the artists' sake.

These music franchises may give quick fame and fortune, but it does not assure longetivity and orginality. When the fans become bored or when they and the artists grow up, it is up to the artists to break free and show their true ability or be lost in reruns forever.

Here's a treat: Jonas Brothers at Ryman Auditorium

Free Fallin'

w/ Jordin Sparks- Superstition and No Air

Miss American Pie

w/ Amy Grant- Baby Baby

Their amazing band w/ John Taylor and Ryan Liestman- Waiting in Vain

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Brand New Flava In Your Ear"

A jam-packed new music post today! Let's go!

1) Q-tip - ManWomenBoogie: Q's back with his third single! After "Getting Up" and "Move," I did not think he could release another great single, but he did. This is why he is on the top of my list as one of my favorite rappers of all time. The song has a great groove, catchy chorus and socially conscious lyrics; it is a perfect combination!

2) Chrisette Michelle- Epiphany: The "Lady Day" of our generation (besides Jill Scott, of course) is back and still sounding beautiful! I love her new hairdo in the video and the song is empowering and emotional without being over the top. I love it!

Actual video:

3) Ciara w/ Justin Timberlake- Love, Sex and Magic: This is the first of the next three songs that I am undecided about. The beat is hot, but I could care less about Ciara singing, except for the chorus part. Justin is alright, but he does not really enhance the song. I guess it is for the club, nothing special!

4) J' Davey- Slooow: The singer kind of scares me in the video. She seems creepy. Her voice is alright, but the song is like bubble-gum, poppish RnB. After a while, I am either tired of listening to it or do not know whether I like it or not. Again, not that special; only listen once in while.

5) Green Tea- Crazy Feeling: This song is the best out of the three that I am on the fence. It is definitely soulful and the chorus and the bridge are great, but the verses are irritating. She repeats the last word of every lyric and sound like she is rushing in the verses and I find it to be completely unneccessary. Listening to it makes me want to forward to the chorus each time! So, just listen to the chorus and bridge.

6) David Cook- Come Back to Me: When David Cooke release "Light On," I thought that it was the wrong song to be his first single. I couldn't stand the song! Now, he has released "Come Back to Me," which I thought should have been his first single. It sounds way better than the first crap he released.

(the video here is messed up, so watch on youtube)

7) Pink- Don't Leave Me: Pink is hilarious! Her video reminds me of the movie Misery with James Caan. I really do think Pink is nuts, but in a good way! As usual, her song and her voice are beautiful!

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Rewind"- Would I Lie to You by the Eurythmics

Ever since I heard the song "Sweet Dreams, " I have loved this duo!

Released in 1985 on their fifth album, Be Yourself Tonight, the song represent the change of the groups music from synthpop to rock and RnB. It was released as a hit single in the UK (peaked at # 17) and the US (peaked at # 5) and the video was in heavy rotation on MTV.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Eddie Cochran (October 3, 1938 – April 17, 1960)

Although he only lived to the age of twenty-one and released only one album, Eddie Cochran made plenty of music to make him a RocknRoll and Rockabilly legend. Cochran epitomized the fifties rebel rocker through his flashy clothes, his gritty voice, his high-energy, virtuosic guitar playing and last his teenage angst and desire in his lyrics.

Born Raymond Edward Cochran in Albert Lea, Minnesota, he began with music lessons at a young age and learned to play the drums, guitar and piano. He would play many of the country songs that he heard on the radio and his guitar playing improved after him and his family moved to Bell Garden, California in 1955. Eddie formed a band with two junior high school friends. However, his big break came when he met Hank Cochran (no relation), later a country music singer and songwriter, at the American Legion hall. They decided to form the duo, the Cochran Brothers. At the same time, Eddie worked as a sessions musician and began writing songs, creating his demo with Jerry Capehart, who would later be his manager.

In 1956, Boris Petroff asked Cochran to appear in The Girl Can't Help It in which he sang "Twenty Flight Rock" (written by Ned Fairchild). The following year, he starred in Untamed Youth and had hid first hit with "Sittin' in the Balcony" (written by John D. Loudermilk). After those songs, he released his most famous hit "Summertime Blues" (one of my favorites that was co-written with Jerry Capehart), which influenced music in the late 50s, both lyrically and musically. Cochran's other hits included "C'mon Everybody," "Something Else," "My Way," "Teenage Heaven," "Three Stars" (released posthumously), "Nervous Breakdown," and "Cut Across Shorty."

On April 16, 1960 in the UK, Eddie Cochran, his fiancee Sharon Sheeley and fellow tourmate Gene Vincent were involved in a traffic accident in a taxi. The taxi crahsed into a lamp post on Rowden Hill after the taxi driver was speeding. Eddie was taken to St. Mary's Hospital, but died the next day from severe brain injuries. Even if he lived, he would have been a vegetable because of his brain damage. George Martin, the young taxi driver, was convicted of dangerous driving, fined 50 pounds, sent to prison for six months and prohibited from taxi driving for 15 years.

Since Cochran produced so many records, there have been numerous releases after his death. His album My Way was released along with two singles, "Three Stars" and "Three Steps to Heaven." He was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabily Hall of Fame.

Eddie Cochran has had a major influence on many Rock musicians and his songs have ben covered numrous times by a wide variety of artists. His innovative technique of aligning the bass and guitar to the same harmonic frequency, and songwriting and overdubbing skills have had the most impact. He has influenced the careers of Marc Bolan, Dave Dee of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Who and many others. Cliff Richard, The Who, The Beach Boys, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes, The Sex Pistols, Rush, Tiger Army, Paul McCartney, and Alan Jackson have covered his songs.


Cochran played an indirect role in the Beatles formation as a group: in June 1957, Paul McCartney taught John Lennon the chords to Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” at a church picnic where Lennon’s Quarrymen were playing.

Following his car crash, David Harman (Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich) was a police cadet at the station and later taught himself to play guitar on Cochran's impounded Gretsch.

Coincidentally, earlier in the Eddie's UK tour, the same guitar had been carried to the car for Cochran by a young fan called Mark Feld, who later became famous as Glam rock artist Marc Bolan.

Summertime Blues

Money Honey

C'mon Everybody

Something Else

Twenty Flight Rock

Teenage Heaven

Sittin' In the Balcony

Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie

Cut Across Shorty

Nervous Breakdown

Three Stars (about Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, who died in the 1959 plane crash)

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Brand New Flava In Your Ear"

Some new music coming your way!

1) Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Zero

Another groups I love! They remind me of the groups Blondie and the Pretenders. The song is fun to listen to and the video looks like it was fun to make!

2) Charlie Wilson- There Goes My Baby

This is why his album was number 1. Charlie Wilson is "Mr. Smooth!" When I hear this song it reminds me of the classic RnB slow songs from the 70s and 80s. Perfect for wedding receptions!

3) New Found Glory- Listened to My Friends

New Found Glory Rocks! This song is hilarious! His girlfriend beat him up and he ended up in the hospital. Ha Ha Ha (FYI, I am not condoning domestic abuse at all!).

4) Kanye West ft 88-keys- Stay Up (Viagra)

Last but sadly least, "Stay Up (Viagra)." Although the video and the lyrics are funny and clever, Kanye has lately been loosing that edge that I liked about him in his first album. Or maybe the music and his voice do not go together well in my ears. But at least it has some residue of the old Kanye in it!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Rewind"- Something to Talk About by Bonnie Rait

Now, time for some Bluesy Rock!

This is one of my favorite songs and I can imagine myself line-dancing to it.

Released in 1991, the song was written by Canadian-singer-songwriter Shirley Eikhard and put on Rait's album, Luck of the Draw. The bluesy feel to the song and the memorable guitar solo helped the song to become popular on several charts (peaked at # 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts). For the song, Rait won for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammys and it is also in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Music Pranks

Since today is April Fools, here is a list of seven music-related pranks for today:

1) Rick Rolled: Switch out 2% of the video clips your victim watches with the infamous Rick Astley video.

2) Switch the set station on your victim's radio to other stations that the person does not listen to.

3) At school, tell people that portable music players (MP3s, CD players, etc.) are banned completely

4) Turn the volume on someone's speakers really loud (either on an MP3 or radio) before they turn on the music.

5) "I Hear Music in this Office" Prank: Put a small radio in a ceiling panel close to the target’s desk. Just have it on loud enough so only they can hear it. When asked, Have you and your coworkers deny that they hear anything. If they mention that they really don’t like a certain radio personality or kind of music - that would be a good choice to turn the radio dial to.

6) Tell a fan of a famous artist that you heard on the news that the artist has died.

7)While the victim is sleeping, set the alarm to an FM station, preferably Hard Rock station, and turn the volume all the way up.

And for fun, a random song called April's Fool by Cotton Mather (cool song, but the only relation to the day is the title. Oh well, I still like it!)