Monday, December 1, 2008

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

Sexy-spooky musical codas. "You're No Good," Linda Ronstadt's only No. 1 single, and Kate Bush's "The Dreaming," wouldn't be the same without them.... Reba McEntire letting go as "You Lie" fades out. Country music's grandest exit... Musical reinvention. Bee Gees: from from Beatles-esque folkies to Jive Talkin' disco gods. Dottie West: from country bumpkin to fortysomething urban cowgirl and sex symbol. Everything But The Girl: from designers of aural wallpaper to the king and queen of soulful trip hop...

Great songs with even better titles: "I'm Gonna Hire A Wino To Decorate Our Home," I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer," "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me," "I Sat Down By Picadilly Station And Wept"... Cyndi Lauper when she puts quirky to bed and gets dead serious: "True Colors," "I Drove All Night," "Lay Me Down"... Difficult, underperforming follow-ups that are better than their titanic predecessors: Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, Terence Trent D'Arby's Neither Fish Nor Flesh, Linda Perry's In Flight, Fiona Apple's When The Pawn..., Pink's Try This...

Duffy's morning-after blues in the "Stepping Stone" video, above (and Sophie Muller's typically understated direction in detailing the aftermath of a one-night stand). A future movie star is born.... Richard Ashcroft's face... PJ Harvey's strange bangs and crooked jaw in the "Broken Homes" video... Comeback kids and second acts that blow away part one. The rise and fall and rise of Tina Turner, Cher, Linda Perry and Mariah Carey. Who's Next? Michael Jackson? Stranger things have happened.... Sugababes, Girls Aloud and other British superstars who don't seem to care whether Americans ever get them. Robbie Williams, take note....

Madonna when she stops trying so hard (Confessions On A Dancefloor). Kylie when she tries harder (Body Language). Britney when she's not trying at all (Blackout)...Song titles that begin with "Like A..."... Taylor Swift's, um, swift ascent to the top of the country diva heap. (I still haven't heard any of her songs.) Carrie Underwood, meet your match.... Songs about self-gratification: Tweet's "Oops (Oh My)," Divinyls' "I Touch Myself," Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop," the Vapors' "Turning Japanese," Chuck Berry's "My Ding-A-Ling"...

The subtle crack in Amy Winehouse's voice when she sings "I cheated myself" for the final heartbreaking time in "You Know I'm No Good," her finest 4:17--so far... Exclamation points in song titles! That means you, Shania! Come back, girl!... Album cuts that blow away the hits: Keane's "On A Day Like Today" (Hopes And Fears), Coldplay's "Daylight" (A Rush Of Blood To The Head), Kylie's "Like A Drug" (X), U2's "Exit" (The Joshua Tree)... When extraordinary songs happen to mediocore albums: Annie Lennox's "Coloured Bedspread" (Songs Of Mass Destruction), Madonna's "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" (Hard Candy), Christina Aguilera's "Candyman" (Back To Basics)...

That the constantly self-redefining Leona Naess still gets to make albums despite selling so few of them... Robert Plant's underrated '80s solo output. "Big Log" never grows old. "In The Mood" is the jam. Ah, "Heaven Knows"! "Lighten up, baby, I'm in love with you!"... Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones," the best kiss-off ever... The '90s Lilith Generation--Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole, Fiona Apple, Joan Osborne--mostly gone from the charts but not forgotten. Where have all the cowgirls gone?... MIA's "Paper Planes" and Robyn Ft. Kleerup's "With Every Heartbeat," the pleasant surprise hits of the last two years...

Bjork's "All Is Full Of Love," the best video ever made. Roxette's "Spending My Time," Depeche Mode's "Barrel Of A Gun" and R.E.M.'s "Lotus." Every great song deserves an unforgettable clip... The Killers' Hot Fuss, Neil Diamond's 12 Songs, Nancy Sinatra's Nancy Sinatra and Steve Windwood's "Freedom Overspill": the soundtrack to my first trip to Buenos Aires in April of 2005... Kelly Rowland solo. Better than Beyonce. Seriously. They get her in the UK, where she's had five Top 5 singles and a No. 1 album. Wake up, America!...

Great eponymous albums: Erasure's Erasure (the end of their American success), Aaliyah's Aaliyah (her swan song), The Smiths The Smiths (the arrival)... Not so great albums with fantastic titles: Pat Benatar's Wide Awake In Dreamland, Boy George's Tense Nervous Headache, Prince's Come... When a band's commercial peak also represents their best work (R.E.M.'s holy triumvirate: Out Of Time, Automatic For The People and Monster)... Stuart Price remixes: Madonna's "Hollywood," Depeche Mode's "A Pain That I'm Used To," The Killers "All These Things That I've Done," Coldplay's "Talk"...

Zero 7's "In The Waiting Line" at the end of the Sex And The City episode "The Domino Effect," in which Mr. Big has heart surgery. Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" at the end of another sixth season episode, the one with the gay prom. The Source Ft. Candi Staton's "You Got The Love" at the close of the series finale. Among TV soundtracks, only Grey's Anatomy's rivals SATC's.... Throw Down Your Arms: Sinead O'Connor does reggae... "Mountain Of Things": Tracy Chapman's bitter fruit... Union: Toni Child's song cycle on life, love and pain... Speaking of life, love and pain, David Gray's "Dead In The Water" and "December" from A New Day At Midnight...

Sarah Cracknell taking a shower in the video for Saint Etienne's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"... Underrated distaff British genius: Alison Moyet, Roisin Murphy, Shara Nelson and, of course, that Sarah Cracknell... Musical chemistry: Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach's Painted From Memory, Mary J. Blige and U2's "One," Patti LaBelle's Prince-produced-and-cowritten "I Hear Your Voice," Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's "Don't Give Up" and Pet Shop Boys featuring Dusty Springfield on "What Have I Don't To Deserve This?" Honorable mention: Pet Shop Boys producing Liza Minelli on Results...

Mainstream stars who never went all the way to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100: Bruce Springsteen, the Pointer Sisters, Credence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty and Electric Light Orchestra... U.S. one-hit wonders of the '00s: Tweet ("Oops [Oh My]"), Truth Hurts ("Addictive"), Amerie ("1 Thing"), Cassie ("Me & U"), Snow Patrol ("Chasing Cars")... The increasingly diminishing chart fortunes of the Simpson sisters, Jessica and Ashlee... Parentheses (in song titles)...

David Bowie complementing my "jumper"... Kylie Minogue praising my platinum blond 'do... Standing up Ringo Starr, singer of "Photograph," the best solo hit by a Beatle... Being fed grilled shrimp by Patti LaBelle... Trying not to stare at Mariah Carey's heaving bosom... Making Brandy's mother weep... Bringing Robin S to tears... Waving to Reba McEntire and Faith Hill in a crowded auditorium at the American Music Awards and having them enthusiastically return the gesture. Later on, being introduced by Marie Osmond to her dad and kids... Reminding Lee Ann Womack of the words to "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good" during an intimate performance at a pre-release dinner for her I Hope You Dance album. Predicting to her that the title cut would be massive, a signature smash in the making... Enya telling me about the transcendent power of music as expressed in her song "How Can I Keep From Singing?"... Sebastian Bach referring to his girlfriend as his "chick"... Tammy Wynette and Robert Palmer, now both dearly departed, leaving messages on my answering machine...

Meeting Bono in front of the elevator in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont in L.A., where he called "In A Little While" and "When I Look At The World" the "unsung heroes" on All That You Can't Leave Behind when I told him they were my favorites on that album... Heart--and memory--failing in the back of a limo with a Backstreet Boy. (Thanks, Absolute!)... Barry White saying that I have an "ear for music" when I expressed my great love of his 1987 pre-comeback hit "Sho You Right." Basia making a similar comment when I called "My Cruel Ways" my favorite song on The Sweetest Illusion...

Elton John's "Curtains," fit for a funeral. Hope they play it at mine.
Post a Comment