Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jubilee Pop: 10 Songs Fit for a "Queen"

Has it been 10 years already?

It seems like only yesterday the world was celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's 50 years on the throne with the Golden Jubilee. But that was a decade ago, and this weekend brings the UK's official holiday commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee marking the 60th anniversary of Her Royal Majesty's reign, which was technically in February, and which the Sony Channel in Bangkok inexplicably has been plugging all week.

This time I'll celebrate the way I did last time, without fanfare. As a U.S. Virgin Islands-born American citizen, I'm not from a place that falls under her reign (although my Antigua-born mother is), so I'm interested purely from a historical and pop-cultural standpoint. But heritage aside, what a great excuse for a blog post celebrating queens -- songs for, about and by them.

T. Rex "Planet Queen" Today I was listening to this on my iPod for the third of five times at the gym when I got the idea for this post. T. Rex, featuring the incomparable Marc Bolan, a glam-rock queen if ever there was one, was made in England and huge there, too, but unlike the Queen with a capital Q, outside of hip people with excellent taste in early '70s rock & roll, the band is barely celebrated anywhere today.

Loverboy "Queen of the Broken Hearts" Why has the ongoing '80s revival more or less overlooked this great Canadian band, which was a lot better than you probably remember?

Pet Shop Boys "Dreaming of the Queen" I've always meant to ask one of my British friends if it's true that the most common dream among people from the UK is that they're having tea with the queen. Knowing my friends there, though, vodka would be more likely the beverage of choice on the menu.

Juice Newton "Queen of Hearts" Though I prefer my juice with Absolute, and my Juice with an absolute torch and twang -- as in "Angel of the Morning," "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)" and "Break It to Me Gently" -- there's no denying the country-pop hookery at play here. Not Juice's most winning hand, but commercially speaking, the closest she came to a royal flush (No. 2, pop, in 1981).

Lil' Kim "Queen Bitch" I miss the days when Kim Jones lived up to her self-billing.

Kylie Minogue "King Or Queen" How could I possibly choose?

ABBA "Dancing Queen" It's kind of a throwaway year in real life, but for a while there (circa 1975 to 1984), 17 was the hottest number in pop, the age of the protagonistas in Janis Ian's "At Seventeen," Stray Cats' "(She's) Sexy + 17," Rick James' "17," and ABBA's only No. 1 U.S. hit.

Tina Turner "I Might Have Been Queen" Sorry, Tommy fans, but this one's so much better than "Acid Queen."

Queen Latifah (featuring Levert and Troop) "For the Love of Money?" An Oscar-nominated Queen, though, unlike Cate Blanchett and Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, not for playing one.

 Queen "A Kind of Magic" Music's biggest, greatest Queen of all!

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