Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #7: "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler

The #7 song of 1989 was written by Larry Henley and Jeff Sibar. Originally a country hit in 1983 with Gary Morris. Then Bette Midler did her version of it and the song appeared in the film "Beaches".

I have a very personal association with the song, so I sort of love it--I know it may be a cheesy song--but i can't help it.

My sister Jean and i --gosh, i'll have to corroborate with her on this--but i think we gave each other cards for some event (christmas? graduation?) and both of us basically said something to the effect of: "i know it's cheesy but you are the wind beneath my wings"....so whenever i hear of this song, i think of her.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #8: Girl You Know It's True" by Milli Vanilli

Milli Vanilli make a repeat appearance in the top 20 Billboard hits of 1989. Their 2nd single to crack the top 20 was "Girl You Know It's True" by Milli Vanilli. See my other comments on Milli Vanilli here, if you are interested.

Just watched the truly bizarre video for this song. One member of Milli Vanilli basically aggressively chases this woman around a city--through a car, into a telephone booth. At one point she pushes him into a table. Jeez! I would just like to say how BAD the choreography is....it's just awful. I think because it's so half-assed....There are full body shots of both Rob and Fab and they dance, like, every other measure. It's just such a strange choice--dance or not! I am just fascinated as to why the director of this video made this choice.

If you look at the credits for this song, the amount of people involved seems kind of mind-boggling and "it seems that the project had meddling input from virtually everyone except the duo themselves". The actual Man Behind The Curtain songwriters for "Girl, You Know It's True" were Bill Pettaway Jr., Sean Spencer, Kevin Lyles, Rodney Hollaman and Ky Adeyemo. I had no idea that "GYKIT" is a cover song by a rap band Numarx.

Some lyrics worth mentioning:
1. "you are the one i think about most every time".
"MOST??" i mean....if you are really trying to convince "it's true" then ditch the "most", please!

2. "you're pretty plain and simple"
ouch!! are you really trying to win her over? or give her a back-handed compliment? "eh, you're kind of ...homely and not too special....but girl, you know it's true"

3. "maybe your sweet sweet voice would ring in my ear/
then delay my system when you are near"
I'm so very very curious what "delay my system" when you are near. I can't help but think it might be some sort of euphemism for bowel movements.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #9: "Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley" by Will to Power

I would first like for you to take a look at the picture to your left. These people had the #9 song in the country in 1989. I'm sorry, but that would just not happen now. It just wouldn't! A motorcycle man and then a big haired vixen? As a duo?

But in 1989, they were the hottest thing around.

Will to Power had a brilliant idea....a cash cow, really: why not mesh two of the biggest hits of the 1970's into one medley?? And put it out now (now meaning: 1989)? So they mushed together "Baby, I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton and "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. BRILLIANT. If you don't see me for a little while, it is because I am doing a mash-up of "Hey Ya!" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)", two of the biggest hits of the 00's. Then I will be a millionaire, just like Will to Power.

ANYWAYS. I digress.

This video is kind of hilarious. If you have a moment, please go back and look at the original. The first shot is a close up of a book by Nietzsche conveniently titled "Will to Power". The female singer Suzi Carr is writhing around on a beach and a recording studio and Bob Rosenberg then rides in on a motorcycle, his mullet blowing in the wind, his handlebar moustache rustling in the breeze.
Watch the Video

Despite this, Will to Power have an interesting beginning. Rosenberg was a DJ in Miami. Suzi Carr was a singer-songwriter who helped pen some of Miami Sound Machine's hits. They hit it off and started making music together.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #10: "Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker

The number 10 song of 1989 was "Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker, R&B songstress extraordinaire. This song reminds me of dentist offices. I feel like whenever I am at the dentist, this song is playing. I suppose that is because it is smooth and calming. Or perhaps my dentist is trying to hypnotize me into with the sultry voice of Ms. Baker, I have no idea.

The cover of the album (above) to me is just soooo 1989. The hair, the lighting, her outfit, the setting. Everything. This is another song that falls under that "soft rock" category....not sure if that genre really exists anymore...it has melded into so many different subsets.

I didn't know this song very well--it's a bit of a challenge to learn. The melody sort of goes all over the place--lots of jumps. Which is all well and good when you are Anita Baker--not so much when you are Siobhan O'Malley! I knew the hook (where she sings the title), but I didn't remember the verses very well.

Anita Baker, Skip Scarborough and Randy Holland are "GYTBTIG"'s songwriters.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #11: "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx

I remember owning a single of the #11 song of 1989, which was "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx. It was a blue cassette tape. I remember listening to it and thinking, wow,what a nice man that Richard Marx must be!

This song has been covered many, many times. I am joining the ranks.

Richard Marx had this big hair and these big eyes. I think he was supposed to represent the sensitve, attainable guy. And the plan worked. He had some huge singles in the late 80's and early 90's.

I always enjoy the story of the professional back-up singer who goes on to put out a debut smash (see: Sheryl Crow, my idol). Marx sang back up for Whitney Houston, Madonna and Luther Vandross. Meanwhile, he was writing his own material and slipped Kenny Rogers a demo of his work. Rogers loved it and went on to record two of his songs, "Crazy" and "What About Me?"

Marx then started his own songwriting and performing career and "became the first solo artist to reach the Top 5 with his first seven singles". Wow!

I put my piano/keyboard on the harpsichord setting for this song. It kind of sounds ridiculous, but that is part of the fun.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #12: "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by Boy Meets Girl

The #12 hit of 1989 was "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by the duo Boy Meets Girl.

I wasn't even sure if I knew this song--I saw the title in print and it didn't ring any bells. But then I looked up the video on youtube and realized I totally knew this song...I somehow thought this song was from a much earlier year. Maybe 1985 or 1986.

Boy Meets Girl consisted of a real-life married couple, Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill. The late 80's/early 90's was the last hey-day for soft-rock. Before Alanis came in and threw everything out of whack!

The song was written for Whitney Houston but she didn't use it....Later the song was "offered to
Belinda Carlisle who recorded a demo of it for her Heaven on Earth album. The track remained unreleased, although the demo was later leaked. "

This song has a lot going on in terms of structure. A Verse A / Verse B part / pre-chorus / chorus/ outro....Definitely exciting for me to play a song that has a bit more going on...still no bridge though! (See every other song I have covered so far from 1989...not a bridge among them!).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #13: "Lost In Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson

The #13 Billboard hit of 1989 was "Lost in Your Eyes" by teen singer Debbie Gibson.

I just went back and watched this video and had a few thoughts:
1. I'm not sure who came on the national scene first--Kimmy Gibler (the character from the sitcom "Full House") or Debbie Gibson...They totally have the same style! That curly bouncy hair, scrunchie, drop waist velvet dresses. Maybe the same stylist worked on both "Full House" and Debbie Gibson's video.
2. There are some close-ups of Debbie that remind me of close-ups in Britney Spears' video of "Hit Me Baby One More Time". I think they remind me of each other because it this conscious choice (maybe by the record label or the director) to show the world "Here is this innocent teen idol. Here is her face. Don't you want to be her friend? Get used to this face because you will not be able to escape it for the next few years."
3. Debbie Gibson wears this hat in a few scenes in the video that made me laugh. It is entirely improbable that the hat could stay on someone's head without Krazy Glue or some very dedicated PA. It is near the back of her head, right near her nape.

Anyways...enough about the video!
This song was a sweet little power ballad. Some notes about the song:
1. This song modulates three times! Pretty extreme.
2. Again, bridge-less song. Where, oh where did bridges go in the late 80's?
3. Interesting factoid: " Gibson was the youngest artist ever to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 # 1 hit single (in the USA) with her song 'Foolish Beat' ." Not bad. I was pretty impressed that she was 16 and producing her own songs!
4. "Lost In Your Eyes" is from Gibson's second album, "Electric Youth". I remember LOVING "Electric Youth". My friend Jenny and I made up dances to it-- I remember thinking: "Maybe I too am an Electric Youth!!" Ha.
5. The music and lyrics are both written by Debbie Gibson...even when I'm not too excited about a song, I do get excited by pop artists that both write and perform their own work. It's not all that common. So, hat's off to you, Debbie!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #14: "Don't Wanna Lose You Now" by Gloria Estefan

It seems like in the late 80s/early 90s, there were a lot more songs in the charts that were definitely "soft rock". The #14 song falls under that category. Gloria Estefan's "Don't Wanna Lose You Now" is made of butter, cream, and silk ribbons.

Gloria Estefan wrote both the music and lyrics.

Gloria was part of Miami Sound Machine. "Cuts Both Ways" was the first album that is credited to both her and Miami Sound Machine; so many consider it her first solo album.

Not sure what is up with songs without bridges from this era of music ..but this is another example. Just two verses, two choruses, no bridge. I'm a sucker for a good bridge...alas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #15: "Heaven" by Warrant

Warrant. Wow. What was THAT??

The #15 Billboard hit of 1989 was "Heaven" by Warrant. If you'd like to get a sense of really how MUCH Warrant was, please look at the actual video to this song:

I mean, let's just talk about the excess! Pyrotechnics! Hair! German model! Spandex! It was a fascinating time....

I felt a little icky reading about Warrant because of this little factoid I read: "The song "Heaven" was not written by any of the members of Warrant and it is alleged that Jani Lane stole the song from another musician who had already been shopping the song to various labels. This mistake cost the band a fair amount of money when suit was brought against them." The fact that they are a band of 5 people and NONE of them took part in the songwriting credits?? And what's more, they sort of stole the song away from someone? Eek. Not good.

Despite that, huge power ballad. I can remember this song being played at school dances. SLOW SONGS. It was a song where you went to find the guy you REALLY LIKED.

My favorite line is comparing this lady's eyes to "blue suburban skies". The "suburban" part kind of cracks me up. Why's it gotta be suburban??

Monday, November 16, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #16: "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" by Milli Vanilli

Milli Vanilli, as we all know, are a sad tale. Caught red-handed...two good looking German guys hired to lip synch songs and then they become an international sensation, selling millions of albums and even winning a Grammy. (!). But they got busted for not writing or singing any of their songs. And as we all know from "Behind The Music", the pressure was so great for one member of Milli, that he commit suicide. Very sad.

But, whoever was singing those songs from their mega-smash albums....they definitely had an impact on pop music in 1989....Milli Vanilli were everywhere. Frank Farian had the idea for the group and assembled a bunch of singers but "he felt that those singers lacked a marketable image" and brought in Fab and Rob.

The #16 song of 1989 was "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You". The song is super simple in it's structure. It doesn't even have a bridge. There is a Kenny G-esque solo in the middle of the song, but otherwise it's pretty much verse-chorus, verse-chorus.

I do remember what a scandal it was when Milli Vanilli was "found out". Somehow, I feel like that type of thing would NOT be so surprising now-a-days. I don't think people would find it that shocking anymore.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #17: "The Look" by Roxette

I definitely have good memories of the #17 Billboard hit of 1989. Hunter and I were always singing the boy and girl parts to the whole "Look Sharp!" album. Screaming the songs at the top of our lungs! Hysterical.

Were it not for the song "The Look", Roxette might have not broken in the US market. This little blurb from Wikipedia caught my attention....
"Everything changed when the third single The Look was released in Sweden. It was while studying in Sweden, that an American exchange student from Minneapolis, Dean Cushman[1], heard "The Look", and brought a copy of Look Sharp! home for the 1988 holiday break.[2][3] He gave the album to a Minneapolis radio station[2][3], KDWB 101.3 FM.[4] The station started playing "The Look" and based on positive caller feedback, the song became very popular[3][4], and quickly spread to other radio stations.[3] The song became a radio hit before any Roxette product had been commercially released or promoted in the US market.[3] The story was covered by radio, newspapers and TV in the US and in Sweden, making for good press for many years, with Gessle telling this as the story which highlighted the beginning of their international success."

I love that! I wish some Italian exchange student would do that with my music! Spread the word around Europe or something!

These lyrics make absolutely no sense! "Walking like a man/ hitting like a hammer/ she's a juvenile scam/ never was a quitter/ tasty like a raindrop"....what?!! But maybe they were translating their lyrics from Swedish to English, who knows. The best part of the song, for me, by far, is the NA NA NA NA NA NANANA....and especially when everything cuts out of the song and there is this pregnant pause. The listener wonders--is the song over?? Has Roxette abandoned me?? But no--they come right back with more "nana".

The song was written by the male member of Roxette, Per Gessle. Even he, apparently, knew the lyrics were a little sub par: " 'Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer'.. the first two verses are guide lyrics, words just scribbled down to have something to sing. Couldn't come up with anything better, so we kept them. Everybody gets lucky sometimes..."

Thank you to my boyfriend Ben, who kindly learned this song (he had never heard it before)and even put on a headband and costume! I am a lucky girl!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #18: "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals

I finally figured out how to make my little videos in color. Wow, this is like the equivalent of when Dorothy comes out of her tornado-ed house into Munchkin Land in 1939. Big technological breakthrough!

So the #18 song of 1989 was "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals. I think this song sort of stands the test of time--I didn't realize the lyrics were so...kind of cookie-cutter....but whatever--the riff of this song on the guitar is so great. I feel like it still gets played a lot. And the chorus is such an explosion of melody--I love how it contrasts with the percussive nature of the verses.

I would qualify Fine Young Cannibals as a One Hit Wonder Band. But if anyone begs to differ, please let me know. The lead singer has this great falsetto and it's kind of what makes this song memorable and a hit. How many hit songs can you think of where a man is singing that high?? The video was also pretty cool--dancers in sort of clown-ish costumes jumping forward and back to that great guitar riff.

I was saddened to learn that Rush Limbaugh used this song as opening music to his show. What can you do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #19: "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown

The number 19 biggest hit in 1989 was "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown. Not to be confused with "On My Own" from "Les Miserables". Although, I would pay big money to see Bobby Brown do a cover of that song.

"On Our Own" was from the "Ghostbusters II" soundtrack. Bobby was definitely in his prime as a solo artist around this time. "Don't Be Cruel", his mega-hit album was chock-full of singles.

L.A. Reid ("L.A. said 'you'll be a pop star/ just change everything you are'--yes, i'm quoting Pink), Baby Face and Daryl Simmons penned the song. The song definitely has this quality that seems SO of that late 80s/early 90's era. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, production-wise, but I know it when I hear it.

My favorite part of the song is the "oh-wee-oh / ya ya ya know it". That is totally the hook of the song.

I have been sick so my voice is super hoarse. It is the flu version of the song! "On Our Own: The Flu Re-Mix 2.0". Yeah!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top Songs of 1989: #20: "Two Hearts" By Phil Collins

I am back! I needed some time to re-coop after doing 20 covers!

I decided to pick the top billboard hits of 1989. I wasn't quite sure where to go next. But for now, I'm sticking with 1989.

The #20 Billboard hit of 1989 was "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins. It co-incided with the release of his album, "But Seriously.... , but does not appear on that album. The song was written for movie "Buster". Phil Collins wrote the music, and Lamont Dozier wrote the lyrics. Just did some research on Mr Dozier and he really was at the forefront of the whole Motown sound. He wrote and produced many songs by the Four Tops and the Supremes. I guess you can hear his influence in this song--very groovy....

"Two Hearts" really is kind of a doo-op-y 50's style ditty. The video is kind of cheeky--Phil plays all the parts--janitor, sound guy, lead singer, keyboard, all of it. It takes place on a sound stage, as if they were filming the song for a Top of the Pops-type show.

I realized while re-watching the video how Outkast's "Hey Ya!" video is almost a carbon copy of "Two Hearts". The star in each video(Andre 3000 or Phil Collins) plays all of the parts--on one 50's/Ed Sullivan-esque sound stage. Phil should get some copyright royalties from Outkast! I'm just sayin'....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Top Songs of 1990....I finished!

So I finished covering all 20 of the top Billboard hits of 1990....They are:

1. Hold On, Wilson Phillips
2. It Must Have Been Love, Roxette
3. Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O'Connor
4. Poison, Bell Biv Devoe
5. Vogue, Madonna
6. Vision of Love, Mariah Carey
7. Another Day In Paradise, Phil Collins
8. Hold On, En Vogue
9. Cradle of Love, Billy Idol
10. Blaze of Glory, Jon Bon Jovi
11. Do Me!, Bell Biv Devoe
12. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, Michael Bolton
13. Pump Up the Jam, Technotronic
14. Opposites Attract, Paula Abdul
15. Escapade, Janet Jackson
16. All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You, Heart
17. Close to You, Maxi Priest
18. Black Velvet, Alannah Myles
19. Release Me, Wilson Phillips
20. Don't Know Much, Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #1: "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips

Two songs with the title "Hold On" in 1990's top 20 hits. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm just pointing it out.

Anyways, the number one single in 1990 was "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. They also had the number 19 hit (#19: "Release Me"). They were on a roll with their debut album. "Hold On" was written by Chynna Phillips, Glen Ballard and Carnie Wilson. Chynna always seemed like the lead singer--the camera always seemed to linger on her longer than the Wilson sisters. (Sidenote: just looking at current pictures of Chynna and she is still a foxy lady! Gorgeous).

I just had a conversation about this song with someone and it was hard to not laugh recording this...We were just laughing about the part where it's just the drum beat at the end...this "jam out", "break it down" part of the song. It's a little silly. I just remember that part of the video where they are purposefully walking down a California boardwalk, lip-synching as if their lives depended upon it.

My cousin Cecily and I also made up a choreographed routine to this as kids, so I think of that as well, when I hear this song. I remember there was some part where we had to run towards each other and it was supposed to be this big build up (maybe we even skipped?). So funny! We'd each choreograph a little section by ourselves, teach the other cousie and build the dance together. Good teamwork! Wilson Phillips would be proud.

So this marks the end of the Top 20 Billboard hits as covered by me! I am currently going through other years, to decide which top 20 I want to do next. '87 and '94 are both looking like possibilities.

This video comes in two parts--part one on top, part two below.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #2: "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette

Let me just say this song is a LOT harder to sing and play than I thought. First of all, the woman from Roxette (which she probably has to introduce herself as at cocktail parties), Marie Fredriksson really has this incredible range. One I do not share. I had to find a key that didn't make me look ridiculous. There is also this strange key change at the end of the song that kind of threw me for a loop. For this blog I try and learn the song in 15 minutes and then do a few "takes"....(I dont' really want it to take much more time than that) but this took me a good hour to learn. Thanks a lot Roxette. Kidding. I really thought learning this song would be a piece of cake. It was very far from a slice of cake.

This song was from the "Pretty Woman" soundtrack. I can kind of picture Julia Roberts in the limo, leaving the hotel, looking longingly back at what she was leaving. I'm not even sure if that is when the song was played in the movie, but I somehow picture that moment.

Roxette seemed to be trying to be a 90's version of the Eurythmics. Girl/Guy duo, girl doing most of the singing....Fredriksson's male counterpart was Per Gessle, who also was the songwriter to "It Must Have Been Love" and most of their other biggest hits.

Just was reading about Roxette on Wikipedia and they apparently have had this wildly successful career in Sweden that continues to this day.

I have special associations with Roxette b/c Hunter and I would drive around in his car and I would sing the girl parts and he would sing the boy parts. We would sometimes circle around the neighborhood, instead of turning off the car, so that we could sing a song in it's entirety.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #3: "Nothing Compares 2U" by Sinead O'Connor

A very beautiful song written by Prince, covered by Sinead O'Connor. "Nothing Compares 2U" is such a great song, that it sort of does the work for itself.

Originally performed by the Family, a one-album project of Prince's. The band performed one concert only. It was generally known that Prince wrote all the music, even though he divvied up writing credits amongst the Family. I just learned through Wikipedia (thank you Wikipedia) that "Nothing Compares 2U" was writted about Susannah Melvoin, a member of The Family. Juicy!

The video was very jarring--pretty much an extended close up on O'Connor's face. Very arresting. You couldn't look away.

I remember being excited that someone named Sinead O'Connor was in the national consciousness. When people stumbled over my name, I knew I could at least explain the first syllable. "The Si- makes a "shh" sound, like Sinead....Sinead O'Connor...."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #4: "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe

The second appearance of Bell Biv Devoe in the Top 20 Billboard hits of 1990. "Poison" was their first single.

This is such a fun song...the horn blasts are basically the recurring riff of the song. The horn blasts are super catch. bum-bum-ba-bump-bumpbabumpbabum-BLAM!

I felt pretty ridiculous doing this song. (Singing: "Never trust a big butt and a smile" and "the low pro hot should be cut like an afro"). So I tried to make it even more ridiculous by playing it on banjo. Embrace the goofiness!

I remember enjoying this whole cassette though, when this album (also titled "Poison") came out.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #5: "Vogue" by Madonna

A song by Madonna and Shep Pettibone. Pettibone was at the height of his fame and power at this point....often mixing songs for Madonna, Janet Jackson and George Michael. This was originally a B-side to the single "Keep It Together" (love that song) from Like a Prayer. "All parties involved decided that the song was too good to be wasted on a B-side and that it should be released as a single. Although the song itself had nothing to do with Madonna's then-upcoming movie Dick Tracy, it was included on the album I'm Breathless, which contained songs from and inspired by the film."

I just was re-watching the video on YouTube....some of the dancing segments look absolutely ridiculous now! But Madonna certainly tapped into this underground trend and brought it to the forefront, per usual. This video, along with "Cradle of Love" (earlier in this countdown), was directed by David Fincher (of "Seven", "Fight Club" fame). I miss videos from these days--they tended to be these all-out productions....They don't make 'em like they used to.

I enjoyed this Dick Tracy-era Madonna. Her 30's/Art Deco style in this video and the "Express Yourself" one as well looked so glamourous-- the masculine tailored suits that really brought out the feminity of her white-blonde hair and red lips.

This video is in two parts.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #6: "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey

I love this song. It is by both Miss Mariah herself and Ben Marguilies. I've always said Mariah was my guilty pleasure. But you know what? I don't even think she's in the guilty pleasure category now. There are lots of things that I appreciate/love about Mariah. Here are just some.

1. The woman has staying power. Her first single was in 1990! It is now 2009. That is pretty unbelievable.
2. I had huge curly hair and was verrrry awkward when this song came out. And seeing someone on t.v. with kooky-doodly hair like mine was so re-assuring to me. I looked at the t.v. screen and thought, "someone with hair that is bananas like mine is famous!"
3. She is one of those artists that I don't even really like all of her music ("Rainbow" was pretty bad. Never allowed myself to see "Glitter"--I knew she was better than that!), but I appreciate what she does. She really had one career in the 90's where she was singing Whitney-esque power ballads. And then she turned herself into this R&B diva in the 00's.
4. I mean, the obvious is her voice which is just this gift. Say what you will, but I think it is a National Treasure. THERE I SAID IT. I love how it can get scratchy and kind of WILD when she belts. It's like this beast that she lets loose from a cage. People may disagree with me, but I think her voice alone, never mind the songs; has soul. I'd listen to her sing anything.
5. The woman is actually a songwriter. She is not some pop creation with a great voice. If you look at all of her albums--All of them!--she is writing or co-writing all of her songs.
6. She kind of has this throwback diva-ness to her. The word "diva" is thrown around a lot, but this woman can actually carry it off. I mean, she calls people "lamb" in interviews.
7. Hunter still makes fun of me because one time we were watching her sing on "Oprah" or maybe it was "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and i mumured how I loved her style. This was BEFORE she went a little "hoochie", but Hunter still does not let me forget this. But even when she wears little to no clothes, color me crazy, but I do think she has style!

And those are just some of the reasons I love Mariah.

And man--her range is OUT OF CONTROL. I had to put the capo on my guitar so I could sing several octaves lower than she does. Forget about it. I'm not going to even TRY and sing the notes she does.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #7: "Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins

This was Phil Collins last big hit....didn't really realize that until I did some hunting. I guess with all his work doing Disney movies and stuff, I thought that he had more success since 1990.

This was a very heavy-handed song, tackling the subject of homelessness.

I remember the video had just black and white images of homeless people, interspersed with large statistics ("5 Million Homeless Children by 1995" or some such fact), along with Collins, lipsynching in profile. Looking over the top 20 hits of 1990, I gotta say it's nice to cover a song that is not about dancing, or booties or love gone wrong. It is not easy to write a political song and a. make it a hit and b. make it pretty catchy. So even if the song is pretty blunt, Phil Collins did pull off something that is pretty hard to do.

"Succudio" it is not.

Grover makes a cameo in this.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #8: "Hold On" by En Vogue

I know you're not supposed to have favorites....but out of these 20 songs I am covering, I think this is my favorite. I still like En Vogue. I love their harmonies. Their voices are out of the park!

There wasn't really anybody else out there in 1990 who sounded like En Vogue.....they really brought back the Supremes-esque girl group....and led the way for groups later in the 90's, like TLC and Destiny's Child.

This song is just jam-packed with awesome samples and subtle tributes. The acapella intro is part of the song "Who's Lovin' You" by Smokey Robinson...and the horns are samples from "The Payback" by James Brown. The song is authored by Thomas Elroy, Denzil Foster and En Vogue.

I loved their co-ordinated outfits. I especially coveted the silver chain mini dresses they wore during the "My Lovin' (No You're Never Gonna Get It)" video...those were killer! I still want one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #9: "Cradle of Love" by Billy Idol

Today I am covering "Cradle of Love", the #9 song of 1990. It is by Billy Idol and David Werner.

I remember this video was on MTV ALLTHETIME. You could not escape it. I'm not even sure if I liked the song, but I feel like I was sort of forced to--in a sort of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" way. What really sticks in my mind is the video, not the song. (How Generation X is that? But it's true). The video was trying to get your attention, whether you wanted to give it or not. Just looked up some information--the video was directed by David Fincher--of "Seven", "Fight Club" and "Zodiac" fame. The lighting--extreme chiaroscuro--looks very much like his films.

I kind of like how Billy Idol kind of went all out with his image. He really just said I am going to act/look/dress/behave/sing like a "rock star". Even if it might have been a little in-authentic, you gotta admire that gumption.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #10: "Blaze of Glory" by Bon Jovi

Lest we forget, that the late 80s/early 90s was the denoument for Hair Metal, this song is a great reminder. "Blaze of Glory" was written by Jon Bon Jovi and performed by his band for the soundtrack of the forgettable movie, "Young Guns II". The movie starred some very hot young actors of that time: Christian Slater, Kiefer Sutherland, Emilio Estevez. I don't think I ever saw it.

I remember hearing a man sing this at karaoke in Hyannisport in Massachussetts and my sisters and I were wow-ed by him. I guess when I hear this song, I am reminded of how HIGH Jon Bon Jovi can belt. I mean--this is a reallly hard song for a male to sing. Crazy range. So, the song seems like kind of a throw-off for Bon Jovi, but he sure does showcase his voice in it.

Never really was particularly moved by this song, but I do like how it represents somehow the end of an era for Hair Metal. Soon Bon Jovi would be starring in indie flicks (and doing a pretty good job, actually) and then would come back to music, a little subdued (in terms of mousse).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #11: "Do Me!" by Bel Biv Devoe

Getting into funny territory here. The #11 song of 1990 was "Do Me!" by Bell Biv Devoe. The Song is by Bell Biv Devoe and mystery man Carl Bourelly. Why isn't Bell Biv Devoe Called Bel Biv BOUR Devoe then? That's what I"d like to know.

This was hysterical to figure out how to play. "Smack it up, flip it, rub it down!"

I always enjoyed Bel Biv Devoe's choreography. And I like how they were the type of artists that helped other artists once they made it. There would be no Boyz II Men or Another Bad Creation without Bell Biv Devoe. They helped fellow artists succeed.

Apparently, they have new singles out right now, so Bell Biv Devoe is still alive and kicking.

My favorite was "Biv" as a kid. He seemed to always have this humorous look in his eyes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #12: "How Am I Supposed To LIve Without You?" by Michael Bolton

I found some verrrry interesting information when I was looking for deets on this song. This song was originally performed and made famous by Laura Branigan in '83. Michael Bolton--then a no-named, frizzy-headed song-writer--co-wrote the song. He would later become famous in the late '80s and take the song for himself. This song has been covered mannnny times, so I am sure both Branigan and Bolton are making fortunes off the royalties of this ditty.

I was having a private bet with myself that this song was by Diane Warren. Kind of seems like one of her songs.

Anyways, very simple but effective structure to this song. The pre-chorus, I think, is the most powerful part of the song ("I don't know the price I'm gonna pay for dreaming/ Now that your dream has come true").

Initially, not looking forward to doing this song today. Thought it was a little "blah". But I was strangely sorta moved by it--it's a little cheesy, but it's actually pretty effective. It does what it's supposed to do.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #13: "Pump Up The Jam" by Technotronic

Just reading up this song. Apparently this was the first house-music to ever break the Billboard Top 100. Originally written as an instrumental track by Belgian artist Jo Bogaert and Ya Kid K (who was Congolese). I guess they wanted a face to sell the track: "An image for the act was later put together utilizing Congolese-born fashion model Felly Kilingi as its album/single cover art and supposed singer in the music video."

I definitely remember this song coming on at every. single. school. dance. There was one DJ, Ulysses, who had a smoke machine, and i feel like he would turn on the smoke machine during this song. We thought it was so cool.

"Pump Up The Jam" was the #13 song of 1990.

I tried my best to do an acoustic, slow, version of this song. Just trying to experiment with performing a song in the exact opposite way one "should".

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #14: "Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul

Continuing on with the top 20 Billboard hits of 1990....

God bless all the unknown songwriters in the worlds, who have ginormous hits, and yet no one knows their name. For instance--Oliver Lieber. Oliver who?? He wrote the lyrics and music to "Opposites Attract", which was made into a smash by Paula Abdul.

What stands out in my mind is the video for "Opposites Attract". MC Skat Kat, a cartoon, dances with a suit-clad Paula, dancing in cartoon urban environment. They show how "opposite" they are. I mean, she's a human and he is a cat! A cartoon cat at that! Now THAT is opposite!

This was the #14 song of 1990, according to the Billboard charts.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #15: "Escapade" by Janet Jackson

Today is the #15 song of 1990, "Escapade" by Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

I make no bones about it---I LOVE the album "Rhythm Nation". I'm sorry, but there are a lot of great songs on this album. "Love Will Never Do Without You","Black Cat", "Miss You Much", "Rhythm Nation", "Alright"--I mean, it is a LOT of singles! Just was looking online at what type of critical reviews it got and the result seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Four stars Rolling stone

I love Janet during this stage. She really seemed to be finding her own thang. I also love her whole look for the first singles that were released--she had like these kind of military jackets, and boots and I still think it looks pretty cool. And such great videos!

I tried to slow this song down a bit. Really explore the idea of wanting to get away ("let's get away") rather than the "es-ca-ca-ca-pade" part.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #16: "All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You" by Heart

My project continues on here...I am on song #16 of 1990. Counting down the top 20 songs from Billboard in the year 1990. #16 is "All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You". Now, every other day, I've done my own cover of the song. Today, I just performed to the song, via Grover's body.

For some reason, I just have a hard time taking this song seriously. I think that is why I just couldn't cover it myself. So I asked if Ben would be Grover's acting partner in the scene. He obliged (Thank you, Ben!).

I remember the painfully literal video. My parents got cable for the first time in 1990 and I remember being obsessed and fascinated with MTV. And this video was on all. the. time. A man was "standing by the road" with "no coat". And then we see them driving for a while, just like the lyrics state.

I didn't know that this song is written by influential producer "Mutt" Lange. I found this quote from Ann Wilson from Heart regarding the song: "Actually we had sworn off it because it kind of stood for everything we wanted to get away from. It was a song by "Mutt" Lange, who we liked, and it was originally written for Don Henley there was a lot of pressure on us to do the song at the time."

Despite all that, you can't deny the power of the Wilson sisters' voices. I mean, just soooo much power.
This video is in two parts....Part 1 is on your left and Part 2 is on your right (below).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #17: "Close To You" by Maxi Priest

Okay, the number 17 song of 1990, according to the Billboard charts, is "Close to You" by the artist Maxi Priest. The song is actually written by Max Elliot (is that Maxi Priest's real name?not sure), Winston Sela and Gary Benson. [ Okay, I just looked up Max Elliot and that indeed is Maxi Priest's real name.]

This is a three-chord song. There isn't bridge. I think maybe because of that, it sort of just goes on and on for me. Maybe that's the point.

Never knew the lyrics 'til I learned them today. The lady he is singing about sounds a little cuckoo! Get ahold of yourself, lady!

As is the case when I learn a new song, I do gain a new appreciation of it. I don't remember liking this song when it was out in 1990, but learning it today, I kind of got into the groove of it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #18: "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles

So, if you're just joining me.... I looked at the Billboard Top 20 hits of 1990 and now I'm attempting to do a covers of all of them. Today is #18, "Black Velvet", performed by Alannah Myles. Written by David Tyson and Christopher Ward. I just Wikipedia'd the song--didn't realize that it was a hit on the Country Charts as well (in a version sung by Robin Lee)--makes sense. This song has a total country feel to it. As I scanned down this top 20 list, "Black Velvet" kind of stands out to me--it really doesn't fit that early 90's style of music at all. It's kind of a basic-blues structure song, with a killer chorus, which makes it a bona fide hit. My sister Jean sang this at karaoke on a family vacation--I think that is still my favorite rendition of the song.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #19: "Release Me" by Wilson Phillips

So continuing on with covering the top 20 Billboard Hits of 1990.

#19 is Wilson Phillips, "Release Me." This pop song is actually written not by professional songwriters, but by Chynna Phillips, and Wendy and Carnie Wilson.

I didn't know that Wilson Phillips weren't really cool. I still really liked them. I liked the harmonies. I remember I had a huge poster of them on my wall and a friend came over and said "you like them?" And all of a sudden realized they were NOT cool! But I didn't care.

My cousin Cecily and I choreographed two dances to Wilson Phillips songs--I still think of us outside, working on our routine. Hilarious.

Note: this video cuts off at 3 minutes. Sorry about that.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top Songs of 1990: #20: "Don't Know Much (But I know I Love You)" by Linda Rondstadt and Aaron Neville

I did a Christmas song a day in Advent and really liked having to learn a piece of music on a daily basis. So I am now going to do covers of all 20 top songs in any given year. Starting with 1990. Because in 1990, I listened to the Top 40 every weekend, so I know all of these songs (or am at least familiary with them).

Lyrics by Cynthia Weil and Music by Tom Snow and Barry Mann

This song had some crazy suspended chords. Little tough to play!

I remember this song was morely on 93.3 which was the adult contemporary station. Every once in a while it made it's way onto 92 Pro FM and I remember being a little bored by it. At the time, I found it too adult for my tastes. I guess I have a new appreciation now that I am a. older b. learning how to play it. The bridge makes the song for me. I also now can relate to the lines, "Look at this life / Still don't know where I"m going". When I was a kid, I might not have related to that line!

More info, please see www.siobhanomalley.com