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