Archive for Tongue and Groove

The new Rocket 88?

I suspect this will cost many, many grand:

What’s actually going on here:

The Japanese company, which has been making musical instruments for 35 years, has collaborated with German piano maker C. Bechstein to develop the Celviano Grand Hybrid, a digital grand piano that takes up no more room than the average keyboard. The idea is to combine all the benefits of electric and acoustic pianos, while delivering the experience of playing a grand piano.

Replicating the sound of such an awesomely powerful instrument is no easy feat, but Casio has gone so far as to offer sound profiles of three different, but long-established instrument styles for pianists to choose between. The first of these sounds, the Berlin Grand, has been developed in conjunction with the piano makers C. Bechstein, who have been polishing keys and stretching strings for over 160 years. It is apparently “known for its elegant clear sound and a reverberation that gives each performance rich melodic colour”. The Vienna Grand style, on the other hand, “provides a calm and stately sound with rich bass and beautiful tones when the keys are played softly” and the Hamburg style “delivers gorgeous power and strength with plenty of string resonance”.

Why this might actually work:

Recreating the sound of a grand piano is just one element of replicating the experience of playing one, however; there is also the small matter of making the instrument feel like a grand. For that, Casio has incorporated C. Bechstein’s traditional wooden keys into the build of the grand hybrid, which make fingers less likely to slip or fatigue. It has also brought in a natural grand hammer action to enhance response and feedback, which should enhance the expressiveness of playing.

Still unexplained: why Casio, which makes this wondrous instrument, chose to show it off with a selection from the Random Trailer Music catalog.

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Some other country

I’ve had Taylor Swift’s 1989 on CD for a while now, but it occurred to me this weekend that I’d never bothered to paste it into iTunes. The mighty Apple machinery jumped into import mode, and it recognized the album, of course, but:

iTunes Import screen for 1989 by Taylor Swift

Or, alternatively, some other folk. Then again, what can you do? It’s a machine. Importers gonna import.

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Yet another brick falls

It was something like 28 years ago when I saw this in the store:

Debbie Gibson Out of the Blue cover art

Upside: Got that whole blonde-with-nice-legs thing going on. Downside: Why did she draw a face on her knee? Well, she was just seventeen — you know what I mean? — and girls not quite on the brink of adulthood do things like this. I bought the album, and played it through something like three times in a row: it was that good.

Still, I did not anticipate that I’d be paying attention to Debbie Gibson by the time she turned forty-five, which is, um, today. By the time her record sales started to droop in the States, the Japanese had embraced her:

She turned to Broadway, to television, to anywhere she could find an audience. And she always found one, even in places you’d never have expected her:

Debbie Gibson Playboy photo 2005

In 2013, she was stricken with Lyme disease; it looked for a while like she was wasting away.

Photo from Debbie Gibson's Instagram

Healthier now, she’s as busy as ever, and if she’s not topping the charts — here, anyway; her 2010 Ms. Vocalist album, released by Sony Japan, produced the #1 single “I Love You” — she’s all over the papers and the tube.

Debbie Gibson on the Meredith Vieira Show

And I couldn’t be happier for her.


Chart divergence

Roger’s Music Throwback Saturday this past week was devoted to the late Tyrone Davis, who got two big hits on the subject of Second Chances: “Can I Change My Mind” and “Turn Back the Hands of Time.” Davis died in 2005, and his obituary in the Guardian contained this line: “He commanded a large, loyal black following, but was denied a mass audience.”

Which, as Roger points out, is nothing new:

[T]his phenomenon is hardly specific to Davis. James Brown, e.g., had 17 soul #1s, and over 110 top 100 soul tunes. He had zero #1 pop tunes and about 95 top 100 pop hits.

And about twelve more that Bubbled Under. But still, it’s rather startling that The Hardest-Working Man In Show Business never had a #1 pop hit, or even a #2. The best he could manage was #3:

I mention purely for amusement value that in the poster for Ski Party, the film whence this clip cometh, Brown and his Famous Flames are billed above Lesley Gore, but below Robert Q. Lewis.

Still, Davis seems to have been shafted in a particularly harsh manner: “Turning Point,” which hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, never even got within bubbling distance of the Hot 100, though I remember it reasonably well, which suggests it got airplay somewhere within hearing distance.

Then again, anomalies of this sort are practically de rigueur at Billboard, which once decided it didn’t need a black-music chart at all:

From November 30, 1963, to January 23, 1965, there were no Billboard R&B singles charts. The chart was discontinued in late 1963 when Billboard determined it unnecessary because that there was so much crossover of titles between the R&B and pop charts in light of the rise of Motown. The chart was reinstated with the issue dated January 30, 1965, as “Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles” when differences in musical tastes of the two audiences, caused in part by the British Invasion in 1964, were deemed sufficient to revive it.

For this and other reasons, I found it sort of risible that “Straight Outta Compton,” the title song from the justly famed N.W.A album, climbed all the way to #38 on the pop chart — this past week, a by-product of the release of the biopic of the same name. It had never been there before.

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One hell of a playlist

The Pitchfork staff has dared to come up with a list of the 200 Best Songs of the 1980s, and I was keen to look at it, since I didn’t really abandon radio and record stores until about 1988, when I had, um, other issues to deal with. (I didn’t make anything resembling a full return until a few years into the new century, so I am presumably lacking in 1990s stuff.) On the other hand, I hate seeing things I missed, especially if I’d intended to give them a listen and never got around to it.

Before starting, I projected that I would own 45 of these 200 tracks in some form or other. And while I had nothing from 191-200, I ended up with 59 of the songs named, including seven of the Top 10 and thirteen of the Top 20. Some of these were big, big hits, which tells me that while I may not have been entirely within the mainstream, I almost certainly intersected it at some yet-undetermined angle.

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Long-stemmed flower

In 2012, there was a brief tizzy when Angelina Jolie’s right leg, following some world-class exposure at the Academy Awards, got its own Twitter account. Familiar as I am with the concept of letting the legs do the talking, I of course followed, but the account was dropped shortly after the first of the year. Few knew that there was precedence for this even before Twitter: the right leg of Mexican singer/actress Lucero did a walk-on, so to speak, on a sketch-comedy series, probably XHDRbZ, and was duly interviewed by the host.

La pierna de Lucero

La pierna de Lucero

And I suppose that this was inevitable, since Lucero Hogaza León, born this date in 1969, was almost always known for these gams. (Well, maybe not; as a tween, she starred on a kids’ show called Chiquilladas, in one episode playing Olive Oyl.)

Lucero strikes a pose

Lucero has had long careers in music and in television, particularly in telenovelas. In 2010, she put out her 19th album, Indispensable, from which the lead single was “Dueña de tu amor” (“Owner of your heart”):

A Special Edition of Indispensable was released in the US, and you have to figure the label knew what it was doing:

Lucero Indispensable US cover art

It is incumbent upon some sectors of the press, of course, to find fault with people who look like this.

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Here to remind you

I have to admit, if this was extemporaneous, it’s pretty good:

“She defined the music of her decade. She inspired a generation of confessional female singer-songwriters who all of a sudden felt like you could actually say these raw feelings you had. You could sing about your real life, you could put detail to it, you could get really really mad if you wanted to. And I think it’s fair to say that so many of the female singer-songwriters of my generation, including myself, would not write the way we do without her and her music. And she has written some of the most brilliant music — in particular probably inarguably the greatest breakup song of all-time.”

Other than “probably inarguably,” an oxymoron on the level of “pretty ugly,” this was a swell onstage introduction by Taylor Swift of an unscheduled guest star: Alanis Morissette, singing a legitimately great breakup song, “You Oughta Know.”

Although I do smile a bit when I consider that when “You Oughta Know” came out, Taylor Swift was five and a half years old.


It’s only just begun

Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald first got my attention with the brilliant single “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over,” from her 2010 album A Curious Thing, which wasn’t released in the States, but that doesn’t matter anymore, does it?

She’s anything but a one-trick pony, it appears: the Daily Record out of Glasgow named her “Scottish Person of the Year” in 2008, and she was nominated twice for Scottish Fashion Icon, winning in 2014.

Amy Macdonald at the 2014 MTV European Music Awards

Amy Macdonald looking pensive

And this amuses me greatly:

In February 2013, she appeared in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment of BBC’s Top Gear, driving a Kia Cee’d to a time of 1:44.4, the fastest lap time recorded for a female star at that time.

Jeremy Clarkson had a habit of pronouncing the name of that car “Cee-apostrophe-dee.” It’s not sold in the States. (Imagine that.)

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You and I have memories

Finally, a proper use for all that video footage of you as a kid:

I hope they’ll get around to the “One After 909.”


Ain’t that a blitzkrieg

In 1988, when Dave Marsh decided to come up with a list of the 1001 greatest singles, he started, for whatever reason, with Marvin Gaye. Specifically, it was Gaye’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” a song recorded by many others, not one of whom ever came close to the majesty — and the sheer paranoia — of Marvin’s reading. (I’d put the Creedence Clearwater Revival version second if it weren’t eleven fricking minutes long.)

But from the vantage point of Much Later, it’s a little easier to see Marvin Gaye’s importance to the whole rock-and-soul universe: if he isn’t at the very center of it — think Entertainment Weekly’s “Bullseye” feature — he’s never, ever far away. Heck, he’s been verbed. So it doesn’t surprise me so much that the Ramones (yes!) fit into the same groove of that universe:

(Via Dangerous Minds.)

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Call her whenever

E-MO-TION by Carly Rae JepsenIt was absolutely inevitable that I’d buy this album: the very first single, the hyperenergetic “I Really Like You,” would have knocked my socks off, had I had socks on at the time, and the second, the evocative “Run Away With Me,” was enough to get me to pony up for the iTunes Store preorder. Besides, Carly has a certain, um, visual appeal. (Who gave her legs like that? Said she could keep them?) Even if E-MO-TION were more of the same writ five times over, I knew I had to have it, preferably in Apple’s proffered Deluxe Edition with three bonus tracks.

It’s not more of the same, except in the broadest of senses: the worldview here is consistently that of a young woman with stars in her eyes and hearts and flowers on her mind. (By no coincidence, this is very much my own mindset: my inner nine-year-old girl could easily grow up to be someone like this.) It doesn’t at all hurt that Jepsen sounds about ten years younger than the 29 she is. And while there are no fewer than twenty-two producers listed here, normally a sure ticket to Disasterville, somehow E-MO-TION sounds like it was recorded in a couple of marathon sessions over a weekend or two, instead of in dozens of places over a year and a half. As Taylor Swift did with 1989, Jepsen has adopted a 1980s pop sensibility for the duration; while Swift is the sharper lyricist, Jepsen crafts better melodies, perhaps more important to that Eighties vibe. And even the two songs into which Jepsen presumably had the least input — “Making the Most of the Night,” a collaboration with Sia, and “LA Hallucinations,” written with Jepsen’s Vancouver neighbor Zachary Gray of the Zolas, still sound like pure Carly Rae. (“Boy Problems” — and isn’t that the purest girl-group title you ever heard? — brings in both Sia and her producer Greg Kurstin, neither of whom overwhelm the proceedings.)

And I must give some space here to Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz, who notices a phenomenon in the musical press:

E-MO-TION, led by the singles “I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me,” is so good that many are already deeming it the Pop Album of the Year, and because none of its tracks have remotely taken off at Top 40 radio (which would lead one to believe that the album is not going to be a massive seller upon its release), those same people are anointing CRJ the Underrated Pop Artist of The Moment.

Top 40 radio, of course, lacks video. “Run Away With Me,” which did even not register on Billboard’s Hot 100, has over five million YouTube views. Remember what I said about visual appeal? And while I’m not in a position to judge whether Carly Rae Jepsen is indeed underrated, I’ll happily deem this the Pop Album of the Year, at least for the first two-thirds of the year.


A girl who once had a dream

Yukiko Okada — call her “Yukko” — always wanted to sing. She’d appear at any audition for anything, hoping to get a break; at sixteen, she finally broke through on one of those TV talent shows and was signed to Japan’s Sun Music Productions.

It didn’t hurt that she had That Look:

Yukiko Okada stretches out

Yukiko Okada in a swimsuit

Her first single, “First Date,” came out early in 1984; her third, “Dreaming Girl,” was enough to win her Best New Artist in the annual Japan Record Awards. It’s — well, listen for yourself:

Why, yes, it is vaguely reminiscent of Tracey Ullman’s cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know.”

Sponsorship and television deals followed, and Yukko was on her way. But something, somewhere, went terribly wrong:

Okada was found with a slashed wrist in her gas-filled Tokyo apartment, crouching in a closet and crying.

And then two hours later:

[S]he committed suicide on April 8th by jumping off from the roof of the Sun Music building. She was only 18 at the time. Her suicide made headlines and sent shockwaves across Japan. To top it off, several fans of hers followed suite. It caused such a commotion that the term “Yukko Syndrome” came into being to connote follow-on [copycat] suicides. That year (1986), the suicide rate in Japan jumped to an all-time high.

In 2002, the song “Believe In You” was rescued from the vaults and given an orchestral overlay, becoming Yukko’s last single. If only she’d believed a little more in herself.

She would have been forty-eight today.

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Innocent guilty pleasures

The contradiction here derives from the very title of this Guardian piece: Readers recommend: songs so bad, they’re good — results. One of the songs singled out for kindly abuse is a favorite:

Moving on to lyrical flaws, we find the Floaters with the deeply idiotic “Float On.” Musically it is a perfectly serviceable soul tune, but the more you listen to the lyrics, the less sense they make.

Then again, a good slow jam doesn’t depend on words, and “Float On” is a good one:

Of course, if you listen to the entire twelve-minute LP track … but never mind. Don’t go there, unless you really want to.

Cheech and Chong, who never saw a “there” they wouldn’t go to, lampooned this unmercifully:

Disclosure: It was this or “Wishmaster” by Nightwish.

(Via Fark.)

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Good reasons to really like her

Carly Rae Jepsen’s album E-MO-TION drops this Friday, though it’s more of a seepage than an actual drop: I’d bought “All That” and “I Really Like You” as singles, and the iTunes Store, in acknowledgment of my pre-order, has delivered five other tracks to me. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-minus.

And speaking of EW, they sent someone to ply Jepsen with wine and ask her questions. I found these two amusing:

EW: Americans have some preconceived notions of Canadians. But what stereotypes do Canadians have about Americans?

CRJ: That’s a dangerous question. I don’t think you got me drunk enough for that one.

EW: Have you ever denied to someone that you’re Carly Rae Jepsen?

CRJ: I did it once at a Starbucks. The girl was checking me out too much, and I was in a mood. She said, “So, what’s your name?” I said, “Erica.” And she put Carly on the cup anyways.

I may have to hunt down her pre-“Call Me Maybe” folkie album, just because.


Just back from the Mediterranean

Historical note, per Wikipedia:

The island was attacked in 88 BC by the troops of Mithridates VI of Pontus, a staunch enemy of Rome, who killed some 20,000 of the resident Romans. Another devastating attack was by pirates in 69 BC. Before the end of the 1st century BC, trade routes had changed; Delos was replaced by Puteoli as the chief focus of Italian trade with the East, and as a cult-centre too it entered a sharp decline.

Due to the above history, Delos — unlike other Greek islands — did not have an indigenous, self-supporting community of its own. As a result, in later times it became uninhabited.

I can well imagine — though clearly not as well as pianist Emily Bear, who’s been there:

As of 2001, Delos had a population of 14. By coincidence, Emily will be 14 this month.

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Shipped plywood

We keep hearing that the music industry is in trouble, but it takes something like this to show you just how much:

The soundtrack for Disney Channel’s Descendants, directed by High School Musical mastermind Kenny Ortega, debuted in the Number One spot thanks to 42,000 total copies. If 42,000 units sounds like a small amount for a Number One album to sell, that’s because it is: Descendants, which only sold 30,000 copies in pure album sales — the additional 12,000 came from a la carte purchases and streams — became the lowest-selling Number One album in charts history, underselling Amos Lee’s LP Mission Bell, which sold 40,000 copies on its way to Number One in 2011.

“How about a song?” Okay:

I picked this one because it was written by the reliable Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, who also concocted the Wonders’ wondrous “That Thing You Do!”

Still, this probably hits the hardest:

Thirty-six years after Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door topped the Billboard 200, the band’s eighth studio album was back in the Top 10 this week as the LP’s new reissue reentered the charts at Number Nine. In Through the Out Door sold an additional 24,000 total units in its return to the Billboard 200, where it spent seven weeks at Number One in 1979, Billboard reports.

Not even Adam Schlesinger is gonna compete with Zeppelin, even second-rank Zeppelin like “Fool in the Rain.”

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Farewell, Cilla

Perhaps the very definition of ironic: the first I heard about the death of an iconic Liverpool star was from two girls trying to make it big in Liverpool fifty years later.

It was just last year that I got around to writing about Cilla Black (born Priscilla White in 1943), one of few entertainers anywhere who sustained a career for half a century without stirring up any tabloid stories. I admit that I was not overly fond of her first record, a Lennon-McCartney number called “Love of the Loved”, but her take on “Anyone Who Had a Heart” hit the top of the British charts:

She followed with a second Number One, “You’re My World,” which even won me over.

Cilla Black takes a seat

From her obituary in the Telegraph:

“I didn’t choose television. Television chose me,” she said. “I was a bit of fun and a bit of Scouse rough and everybody liked me, I was normal. I could have been the kid next door. And then I turned into the auntie next door. And now I’m the granny next door.”

Cilla Black tips her hat

This is about as far as she ever wanted to go:

“Seventy-five is a good age to go if things start to drop off,” she said. “I don’t want to linger. I don’t want to be a burden on anybody. I know 75 is only four years away, but I take each day as I find it.”

And if things dropped off just a little early, well, you know she smiled as she watched them go.

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Forever, Roxy

Singer/songwriter Roxy Darr, in what appears to be a blatant effort to broaden her fan base, recorded a version of the My Little Pony: Friendship in Magic theme for her YouTube channel, and there was of course no way I was going to miss that.

There is, of course, a lot more to her than that. This is her signature song, Forever:

She is also known as The Anthem Girl, having sung the National Anthem regularly at sporting events in southern California, and she has a fair number of screen credits to her name as well.

So yes, Roxy, you got my attention. Good show. (This is her Web site.)


Possibly in league with some humans

Sometimes the first line sums up the entire song. That’s certainly the case here:

I tossed this up on Facebook last night (thank you, Annemarie Dooling), and, well, this sums it up nicely:

Philip Oakey, the Svengali of the relationship described in the song, reportedly didn’t like it when it was recorded, and didn’t want to see it released as a single. Wonder what he’d think of this little tweak.

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All over you, yes

You know, just because you relocated from Austria to Liverpool to pursue your dreams of reviving the 1960s British Invasion, and even wangled a regular spot at the Cavern Club (!), it doesn’t mean you have to confine yourself to Merseybeat stuff, am I right?

The late Lee Hazlewood surely would have smiled.

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None of that microwave stuff

After hearing an actual popcorn machine, circa 1969, composer Gershon Kingsley put together a recording on Moog synthesizer, then titled “Pop Corn,” which became famous in electronic-music circles. In 1972, Kingsley associate Stan Free — they’d played together in the First Moog Quartet — cut an amped-up version that climbed to #9 in Billboard.

With all these electronics going on, the temptation to do “Popcorn” unplugged occurred to many; Herb Alpert’s version, which showed up on the 2005 Lost Treasures compilation, is a gem. But this sort-of-classical take by the composer himself is something else entirely:

This was recorded eight years ago, when Kingsley was a lad of 85. He’s still around today.

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Stalk radio

Eventually you learn that there’s a reason you can’t find a woman like that:

So there I was, sitting on my fat patoot and not really working while I thought about how hard it is to write satire anymore, what with the times getting too weird for any one person to keep up with, when I heard Rick Springfield singing “Jessie’s Girl” on a kid’s radio or phone or whatever it is kids use to listen to music these days. The song first came out, if I remember this correctly, when Ronald Reagan was getting out of the hospital after the assassination attempt back in 1981 and I am pretty sure that I haven’t heard it since then. Listening to it now, however, gave me the same sense of profound creepiness that hearing it in 1981 did. It didn’t occur to me in 1981 that there was such a musical genre as stalker rock — I was much younger then, of course, and so I didn’t know any better — and in those halcyon days we all knew less about the strange drives that motivated Australian obsessives to lust for the girl friends of their best buddies, even with the best efforts of Phil Donahue to keep us all up to date with the latest fashions in neuroticism. But stalker rock it is, along with that song about Jenny and her phone number and an entry from the 1960’s, the Vogues’ “Turn around, look at me,” and it does make me wonder if any of these guys ever got over getting not dumped by their not girl friends.

Springfield, I think we may safely assume, didn’t:

It’s 6 o’clock in your little town, baby
As you get ready to go out for the night
Some pretty stranger’s gonna take you down,
But I can’t make that feel alright
I was in love with the ghost in you
You were my apparition
It doesn’t matter if it goes the way you want it to
Cause life’s a suicide mission

Of course, the apotheosis of stalkery is “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, which some people still think is a love song.


Recordings received

I’ve snagged these three albums from iTunes in the past couple of months, and it’s about time I told you about them.

The So Flows Sessions by Patrick O'HearnPatrick O’Hearn: The So Flows Sessions (2006)

In 2001, Patrick O’Hearn released an album called So Flows the Current. This was the first time O’Hearn had put out an album by himself, without a label backing him; it was quiet, meditative, and impeccably produced. At least seventeen tracks were recorded, nine of which made it to the album. Five years later, eight more tracks surfaced as The So Flows Sessions, and it deserves better, I think, than to be dismissed as just outtakes from its predecessor; it’s subtle without being boring, quiet without being mere background music. O’Hearn has been a fixture in so-called “new-age” radio ever since I discovered the existence of “new-age” radio, and it still amazes me that he got there by way of Frank Zappa and Missing Persons.


A Posteriori by EnigmaEnigma: A Posteriori (2006)

You remember Enigma. In 1990, Michael Cretu and a small band of collaborators released MCMXC a.D., which produced the mighty hit single “Sadeness (Part I),” a dance number overlaid with Gregorian chant destined for the middle of the Top Ten. A Posteriori — “After the fact” — is the sixth Enigma album; while echoes of the earlier work resound here and there, the tone is decidedly different: less thump, more techno, and references that suggest a galactic disaster in the making. Two singles were released: “Hello and Welcome,” which was remixed before the album appeared, and “Goodbye Milky Way,” which more or less gives away the game.


Dark Matter by SPC ECOSPC ECO: Dark Matter (2015)

SPC ECO — pronounced, I am told, “space echo” — really ought to be characterized as darkwave, this being their second album with “dark” in the title; but they’re a bit too downtempo, and there’s somehow enough murk in the mix to suggest both the flow of dreampop and the golden days of shoegaze. It helps that Dean Garcia plays every instrument in the book and a few only in the appendix, and Rose Berlin (Dean’s daughter) makes wonderfully ethereal vocal noises, though in the first couple of tracks she seems a bit overly processed. No singles have yet been released, though either “Playing Games” or “I Won’t Be Heard” would seem to have stand-alone potential. But to be honest, nothing here is quite so dreamy/sprightly as this track from their previous album.


The last of the romantics

Just when I was starting to think that Taylor Swift was turning (and turning me) cynical in her old age, here comes Carly Rae Jepsen to sweep me back to hearts and flowers:

Dropped this past Friday, “Run Away With Me” is the lead track from E-MO-TION, already out in Japan and due here next month. If it outsells “I Really Like You,” which peaked at #39 in Billboard, we’re looking at a gold, maybe platinum album. Peanuts compared to Taylor; but then, Taylor’s already mapped out her road for the next twenty-five years. Carly is still feeling the tug of “What now?” And damn if she doesn’t make me feel it too.


Greater Exposure

What was the last great girl-group song? For my $3.98, it was “Seasons Change” by Exposé, their fifth single and their only Billboard Number One. Inevitably, there was a video, which was murky then, and even more so in the unofficial YouTubed versions that survive. But the version I played to death, and still spin, was the Extended Remix on the 12-inch, which runs nearly eight minutes — the album track less than five, the radio edit just over four — and which, to these ears anyway, contains not so much as a second of padding.

What I said the last time I mentioned it, a couple of years ago:

This is cut from the same cloth as other Lewis Martineé freestyle tracks, but this 12-inch mix goes on well past the 4:53 album cut, and the singers drop out to make room for an uncredited guitarist who for two minutes makes some of the purest rock and roll noises you’ve ever heard, right on top of that same hypnotic rhythm bed.

And I bring it back here because I never get tired of it.

Nor will I ever, I suspect.

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Fark blurb of the week

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It’s all about so much more

This song was never supposed to have been on Meghan Trainor’s album Title:

In fact, it was never supposed to have been a ballad, let alone a duet; Trainor reportedly conceived it as a reggae tune, possibly usable as a demo. Old friend Chris Gelbuda persuaded her to blow the dust off of it, and the two of them, playing all the instruments, assembled it into a workable track.

John Legend is involved because he and Trainor share management and record companies — he’s on Columbia, she’s on Epic — and once he heard it, he wanted to be part of it. In the time-honored Modern Duet style, neither of them was in the studio at the same time. But they sang it together at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, and somehow it was right.


Oh, Denise, ooby-doo

Hmmm. Who’s this getting out of the Benz?

Denise Richards exits a Mercedes

Wait a moment…

Denise Richards exits a Mercedes

Why, it’s Denise Richards, from whom we haven’t heard a whole lot lately. She had a substantial role in Twisted, which ran for 19 episodes on ABC Family but was not renewed for 2014-15. Won’t keep her from her yoga class, though.

About thirty years ago, she was featured in a music video. The Swiss duo Double — which, incidentally, is pronounced “DOO-blay” — made this perfectly wonderful song in 1986 called “The Captain of Her Heart.” The video, which featured the two members plus the occasional glimpse of a sideman, was apparently deemed insufficiently interesting to American audiences, and so an Official US Version was shot:

Denise was fifteen at the time, if the math works out correctly, and why shouldn’t it?

(Title courtesy of Randy and the Rainbows.)

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Déjà entendu

What, another 13-year-old singer with an implausibly catchy tune? Absolutely:

Hala Al Turk lives in Bahrain. When she was nine she appeared on Arabs Got Talent, though she’d been singing in public for a couple of years already. Signed to Dubai’s Platinum Records, she’s recorded lots of stuff, though “Live in the Moment,” released earlier this year, has proven to be her biggest hit.

How did I find this? Watching Rebecca Black’s “Sing It,” I glided briefly down the comments — I know, I know, you never read the comments — and saw someone’s remark to the effect that Black, then fourteen, looked like the adult version of Hala Al Turk. Which, you know, she does, kinda sorta.

And to what does Hala aspire? According to Wikipedia, she wants to be a dentist.


J-pop plus neo-folk

I can’t think of any other equation that works out to this:

Lilywhoooooooooo (with ten O’s, it appears) is singer/guitarist Fumie Yagi, seen here, and keyboardist/drummer Hiroyasu Nakamuru, who appears on most of their other tracks. (The earlier, more upbeat “Sakotis” is also on YouTube; they have a full album on Bandcamp.) For some reason, I am fascinated by this just-beyond-minimalistic stuff.