Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to anyone who ever reads these pages. I realised the other day I haven't blogged since October so tonight I felt like blogging something again. I am back at college doing my film and literature degree course at night, still working (thank God!) in the bookshop and also writing books and film pages in a new monthly magazine back in Kilkenny. I do read everyone's blogs still and loved especially Paul's X Factor weekend write ups. I went to see Will Young, Little Boots and Alison Moyet in concert recently and they were all fab. I also got to see Julian Clary do stand up comedy and that was great too. Thank you Orla for getting me a rather wonderful souvenir of that show. Next year I will see Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga in concert, my first time to see both in a full concert. I may do a random 30 songs I loved this year by the end of the month. When you work in a shopping centre that plays the same songs every hour for months on end you unfortunately get to hate even your most favourite songs. Poor Beyonce's Sweet Dreams became one insane in the brain song for me. Release Me by Agnes was the only song I could listen to over and over again. As we head into 2010, blogging has been the most stand out thing for me this decade and it is Enda's and Sinead's blogs that got me hooked in the first place. I still think blogging is an addiction but I sometimes would love a world that was mobile phone and internet free. The best day of this decade, popular culture wise, for me was seeing Madonna in concert in Slane in 2004. Seeing Cyndi Lauper in concert with my friend Rosie was the second best pop moment in the past few years. This decade I met some wonderful new friends especially Brian who has been there for me so many times since I met him. Everyone should have a Brian in their life. My nephews Ben and Jamie were both born this decade and their mother, my darling sister Emma reads all my blogs and I love her for that. My other darling sister Jane got engaged to a very lovely guy and she has never been happier. My brother Mike is well on his way to being a superstar artist and he still has his heart and sense of humour and a fab girlfriend called Anne who is the best support. This semester in school we did a short film with Mike as the subject and that was a really brilliant experience and honour. In 2009 I love pop as much as ever, Lady Gaga's Monster and Alexandra's Broken Heels are my fave pop songs this week. It took me to reach 40 years old and through blogging to find pop fans who like the music that I love and Paul, John and Yuri, yours are the best of my new finds over the past 12 months. David Daily Drama's is still the blog I connect with most and without a doubt meeting up with David in London this year and having our marathon pop chat was a great highlight for me. So Merry Christmas everyone! Here's a rather fantastic mix by the genius Robin Skouteris of her Ladyship's greatest songs and videos including many from this decade. This mix is for every pop reader of Strike Curious Poses, especially David.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All My Life

Cheryl Cole's Fight For This Love samples K Ci & Jojo's gorgeous ballad All My Life. It would be nice if their song was a download hit again on the strenght of the success of Cheryl's song. Maybe even Shayne Ward too! Here's K Ci & Jojo's All My Life which will be 12 years old this December. And Shayne's version from his debut album. Which isn't very old at all.

Champaign

In May 1981 this got to number 5 in the UK charts. Here's a real late night radio song, Champaign and How 'Bout Us.

Pebbles

Several times when I post an old song that I love I often wish that the people who read my blog now could have been able to listen to my radio show back in the mid 1980s here in Ireland. Many of the albums that I bought on CD over the years are ones I had on vinyl back in the 1980s. One album that I played many songs from on my show was Pebbles self titled album. It featured Girlfriend her most famous song which got to number 5 in the US and number 8 in the UK. I love that song but that isn't my favourite. The follow up single Mercedes Boy is. It got to number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1988 making it her biggest hit ever. I think it is a perfect R'n'B pop song. I thought Pebbles was so gorgeous. She had perfect attitude, no nonsense, sheer fabulous. The other songs that I liked on the album the most were Slip Away and Baby Love. Do Me Right and Take Your Time were also singles from her first album. Check them out if you can. Pebbles also had a great single in 1990 called Giving You The Benefit. Janet Jackson was the queen of that type of R'n'B pop back then but you can see a lot of an artist like Pebbles in other groups like Destiny's Child in the later 2 decades. Pebbles is now Perri Nixon. She went on to create TLC, marry and separate from the music producer L.A. Reid and become a Christian minister called Sister Perri. Lots more about her here. Mercedes Boy is now 21 years old. Like all my favourite songs I will never grow tired of hearing it. Here's the album version which is almost 5 minutes long. It includes the car starting up intro and a great male backing vocal later on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Last Dance

For the past few months I've been posting a write up on the weekly Irish singles chart. I've always wondered if this was ok to do, copyright etc. Well, as it turns out it isn't. In order to do so a blogger needs permission and also pay an annual fee. That fee is several hundred euro a year. I am allowed to make a link to the IRMA chart which really isn't the same so I've decided that I'm not going to continue it. I always felt that I was in a way assisting the IRMA chart by highlighting the few Irish music acts in the singles chart. I firmly believe that without hit singles a singer or band will never go beyond the album artist only category. Hit singles make people go to gigs and concerts not just now but for the years to come. The Irish singles chart is actually full of pop music at the moment but it is nearly all American and UK music acts. Ireland is a very small country but in regards to pop music, what is in the chart doesn't reflect what the majority of people like, listen to and buy. If you would like to see what's selling in Ireland every week do google IRMA and charts. The site includes singles, albums and music DVD sales. The chart comes out on a Friday. Last week there was a technical difficulty so it came out on Monday and that's how Cheryl got to number 13 already. I've really enjoyed writing about the Irish chart but like the little ice man up above, nothing lasts forever.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Most Of These Songs Have Something In Common

Strange things are happening in the Irish charts. The IRMA chart is usually available on line on a Friday but was only there today, Monday. The new chart is dated October 15th but a song that was released (according to it's wikipedia page) on the 16th has charted already at number 13. That song is Cheryl Cole's new pop anthem Fight For This Love. But whatever the reason that happened all is good! There are a wonderful 11 new entries in the chart but they are not all brand new songs. That's still over one in every five songs and it all makes the chart a little bit more interesting. Without X Factor, shown here in Ireland on both UTV and TV3 the IRMA chart would truly be a whole lot less poppy. Alexandra and Flo Rida's Bad Boys is number one, and the other 3 brand new songs in the top ten; Robbie's Bodies at 3, Miley's Party In The USA at 5 and Michael Buble's Haven't Met You Yet have all been X Factor guest stars. And that's just the top ten. Here the IRMA chart for week dated October 15th. 1(-): Bad Boys - Alexandra Burke featuring Flo Rida 2(1): I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas 3(-): Bodies - Robbie Williams 4(2): She Wolf - Shakira 5(-): Party In The USA - Miley Cyrus 6(3): Sexy Bitch / Chick / Auld Wan- David Guetta featuring Akon 7(4): Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz 8(5): Empire State Of Mind - Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys 9(7): Oopsy Daisy - Chipmunk 10(-): Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble The other new entries include Irish band Identity Parade and Kicking Stones which is their second and biggest hit this year. Cheryl's Fight For This Love is at 13. Hmmm! Big Pink's Dominos, which I did a post on last week, is new at 25. Black Eyed Peas are brand new at 27 with Meet Me Halfway, perfectly timed as I Gotta Feeling finally falls to number 2. Danyl and his version of And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going To Leave The Gender Of This Song Title Untouched puts Jennifer Hudson's powerhouse version in the chart at 37, it's first time in the IRMA chart. Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons' charts at 49 and the 11th brand new entry, this time of an old song, is Leona's Footprints In The Sand. How high will Happy chart next month! Whitney's Million Dollar Bill is climbing again since Sunday night's X Factor but for now she's at number 40 in Ireland, a climb of 5. Beyonce's Brokenhearted Girl climbs to 33 from last week's 39 which isn't too bad for a very dull song.. Saturdays Forever Is Over drops to 15 already but that's mainly due to the 4 new entries in the top ten and the release of their album. Paulo Nutini, primarily an album artist in Ireland has the biggest drop as Last Request falls 20 places to 28. The songs I don't cover are mainly ones that have fallen down the chart and it shows the amount of songs doing so each week as they stay in the chart. JLS incidently are at number 39 with Beat Again which is now 14 weeks in the Irish Top 4o and Madonna's Celebration is at 23, it's 11th week in the chart. Both positions showing the respective artists popularity here in Ireland. Cheryl Cole's Fight For This Love is easily my most favourite song in the chart. Especially after the week it has been with the coverage of Stephen Gately death and funeral, I don't think there's a greater pop song title that gives the man himself and his husband Andrew tribute. For all the times that Stephen was in the IRMA chart as an artist over the years this week's very poppy chart is dedicated to him. The photo of Cheryl above was used on the cover of the Sunday Times magazine recently and here she is with the properly amazing Cahill Club Mix of Fight For This Love.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Whitney & Akon

Whitney Houston plays Dublin's O2 on April 17th 2010. I hope her X Factor appearance this coming weekend is amazing. I Look To You is an album full of good pop and r'n'b and her collaboration with Akon on Like I Never Left is one of my most played songs on the album. It is one of the most obvious choices as a future single.
Here it is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Then Sings....

Susan Boyle's debut album I Dreamed A Dream is released on November 23rd in the UK and the next day in the US. I assume it will be released on the 20th in Ireland as new albums come out here on a Friday. The track list for I Dreamed A Dream was released recently and the list below is taken from the Digital Spy website. The songs are:
  • Wild Horses
  • I Dreamed A Dream
  • Cry Me A River
  • How Great Thou Art
  • You'll See
  • Daydream Believer
  • Up To The Mountain
  • Amazing Grace
  • Who I Was Born To Be
  • Proud
  • The End of The World
  • Silent Night
I already love her version of Wild Horses. Cry Me A River is, I assume, that great song of long, long ago not Justin. You'll See is the Madonna song which could be very amazing indeed. You almost feel that Susan Boyle actually had some choice in the songs chosen as there are songs that you could imagine her loving and been singing for years. This album is really aimed at a certain but also very wide market. The one song that stood out for me on the track list was How Great Thou Art. It instantly made me think of being a very young child and associating it with one of my grandparents. I think that song will 'get' people the most, more so than Amazing Grace which has been on so many pop and r'n'b albums over the years. I was born Catholic, like most of Ireland. As I grew up I have had less respect for the catholic church but as I grew older I almost have more respect for people's spiritually. If someone believes in someone up there then as long as that person is not racist, sexist, homophobic or just mean then that is fine by me. I think that is the difference from a fundamentalist belief. My own parents don't go to church as much as they used to but when they do I respect that. I'm a bit of a candle lighter and always light as many candles as possible when I'm in a church , on purpose but with good intent. It's not catholic it's just me. I think spirituality is a very personal thing. It is like something gay (or straight) people never really address but for me living your life is what being spiritual means. Reading How Great Thou Art as a song included on an album that will be one of the biggest sellers in 2009 made me think about that tonight. Looking up who else sang the song I realised that it is the version by Elvis that many people will know the most. It reminds people of parents and grandparents. Looking further I found Carrie Underwood sing the song and her version is below. It does not matter if the song is religious or spiritual or whatever but the fact that the song is powerful in that it touches some emotion, some memory in us. It sort of comforts and makes you want to break down at the same time. Maybe it's just me, I had a bit of a cry listening to it this evening! I had a few really lovely comments from friends, old and new, on recent blog posts so I've decided that I'm going to mix up the posts here again and write more from the heart. I hope someone is minding Susan Boyle, that the next step in fame will be okay for her. I look forward to hearing her album and in the meantime here is my favourite American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood and her version of How Great Thou Art.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mini Viva: Showing Out

Mini Viva's I Left My Heart In Tokyo is very slowly climbing the Irish singles chart, they are currently at number 23 up from 31 last week. The song is pure pop bubble gum. I first heard it on the Chris Evans show many weeks ago on my friend Brian's car radio as we drove to Dublin from Belfast. It was an experience. Enduring the Chris Evans show that is. Pete Hammond has a very dancey retro mix of the song which basically mashes up Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend) by Mel & Kim, which was one of SAW's finest pop moments. Here's that mix.
And here's the wonderful Mel & Kim, two of pop's best stars ever. Mel was another popstar gone too soon.

When Kelly Wasn't Dancing

Kelly Osborne is currently starring in Dancing with The Stars in the US and is still there a few weeks in. Her daddy Ozzy was in Dublin last weekend and he had a crowd queuing down the street at Easons bookshop in the city centre. I never liked the Osbournes TV show and for the most part Sharon always annoyed me and over the years Kelly too. But she was really just a child when the show started and has truly grown up in a goldfish bowl. I hated her Papa Don't Preach cover but she had a great pop moment. It was in April 2005 when she released the single One Word. It was the remix by Chris Cox that I liked so much, playing it over and over on Last.FM when Last.FM was my OCD of the week. That remix made it to number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Airplay chart. The single also got to number 9 in the UK charts and number 19 in Ireland. It's mad to think the song is 4 and a half years old already! One Word works really well because it borrowed so much from the song Fade To Grey by Visage which is truly one of the best songs that made the 1980s what it was. Later the song writing credits on One Word acknowledged this fact. The video for the song was fab too with French New Wave director Jean Luc Goddard the main influence. Kelly dear! Come back to dance. Here's the video featuring the gorgeous remix by the clever Mr Chris Cox.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Whitney's been Freemasoned!

Whitney is on X Factor next Saturday and Million Dollar Bill is new in the UK singles chart at number 12 which makes me v happy. If you live in Ireland her interview with Oprah is on TV3 next week too, Wednesday at 9pm. Million Dollar Bill has been given the Freemason remix treatment and by the second listen I loved it. Here's the full 8 minutes and 10 seconds of it.

A Moment

10 years ago I worked in a cinema here in Dublin. I still know people from that job such as Sinead, Orla and Tara. Even recently I have come back in contact with people that I worked with while there. It was a busy cinema so every day you would see hundreds of people. Regular cinema goers. Sometimes well known people would come in such as Noel and Liam Gallagher, Brendan Gleeson or The Edge. One pay I was standing collecting the tickets for the screens on one side of the foyer. A young man passed me with his head down and went back into a screen where a movie was playing. I glanced at him and I thought 'that's a nice looking gay man'. It wasn't that he was obviously gay (I hate that term), it's just that sometimes gay men just know other gay men. I didn't realise who it was until he had passed me by. That guy was Stephen Gately. Years later when he was on TV in a show or was doing well in London I would think of that single moment. I was never a fan of Boyzone but I loved Working My Way Back To You their debut song here in Ireland. I have always liked Stephen Gately as a gay man who is just himself. I always thought he has a great element of respect and dignity about him. I think Mark from Westlife has as well. Today I read of him being referred to as 'gentle'. Stephen Gately was not a stereotypical gay man and the media dosen't always know how to protray gay men who are actually the most typical of anyone we all know, our gay friends and family members. Yes, he was a performer on stage and some of Boyzone's dance routines are very naff but there were five of them up there on stage all doing the same thing. When they reformed I saw them at an Irish awards show with my friend Connell, they did a melody and they were simply great fun. On a day like today it doesn't matter if you liked Boyzone's music or not, the tragic thing is that a young man has died. It is now several years since Stephen came out as a gay man and since then we have come a long way here in Ireland in relation to how gay men and women live their lives and because of Irish gay people like campaigner Suzy Byrne, politican David Norris, Mark Feehily, superstar Panti, Stephen Gately and most of all ourselves we are now a proud nation. Last year I had extra respect for Stephen and Boyzone when the video for Better was released. In it all the band members have a respective partner and Stephen's partner was not female but is male. I watched it again tonight and felt very moved. Both Ronan's and Stephen's vocals really suited the song, a cover of the Tom Baxter original. The video is here. God bless, Stephen.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Love....

Looking up information on worldwide chart positions of songs that I love, it is always a buzz to see that some songs charted the highest in Ireland. In 1991 Martika's Love...Thy Will Be Done got to number 8 here. It was a number 10 hit in the US and number 9 in the UK. Ireland was the song's second highest chart position as it was also a number one in Australia which is v lovely. Love...Thy Will Be Done followed great Martika's singles like Toy Soldiers and I Feel The Earth Move. The album it came from was called Martika's Kitchen and it's title track was v poppy and crazy. It was written by Prince and also by Martika so I assume that is why it is still on Youtube. I have always liked her name. If I ever had children (not!) I would name them Martika and Solange Minogue. They would stand out in the telephone directory. Incidentally, Sandra Bernhard had a very funny Martika moment in her glorious Without You I'm Nothing performance movie. Does anyone remember it! Here's the video for Love...Thy Will Be Done.

In 1989 Duran Duran released this beautiful song

Duran Duran will always be one of my favourite pop groups. You all know I love their singles and also The Chauffeur very much. Here's a song that was on the Big Thing album in 1989. It got to number 30 in the UK. The video is hypnotic and beautiful and features just John, Nick and Simon as the other Taylors; Andy and Roger, were elsewhere in the world of pop at the time. I think Nick Rhodes looks amazing in it. This is Do You Believe In Shame.

Going Down The Irish Indie Pop Road Yet Again!

2009 continues to be a good year for Paulo Nutini here in Ireland, he is the highest new entry in the IRMA chart charting at number 10 with Last Request. One place ahead at 9 is Ian Carey Project's Get Shaky, which i still like a lot. The top six remains exactly the same as last week. 1(1): I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas 2(2): She Wolf - Shakira 3(3): Sexy Chick - David Guetta featuring Akon 4(4): Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz 5(5): Empire State Of Mind - Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys 6(6): Run This Town - Jay Z featuring Rihanna & Kanye West 7(8): Hotel Room Service - Pitbull 8(7): Boys & Girls - Pixie Lott 9(14): Get Shaky - Ian Carey Project 10(-): Last Request -Paulo Nutini Basshunter is the only song to climb more than one or two places as Every Morning moves up to 17 from 24 last week. There are 7 new entries on the rest of the top 50 which is pretty ok I think. At 13 is the second highest new entry, Lover by Heirs To Nothing. This is a song I liked a few moments into hearing it for the first time this evening. The band, pictured above, have a very handsome lead singer and they are from Offaly, here in Ireland. With so few Irish artists on the national chart it's v positive to see new music chart. As long as there are good solid songs like it in the Irish chart I will always highlight them here. Following Coronas Listen Dear, a new entry last week, that's two good irish indie pop songs charting at the moment. The other new entries on the IRMA chart this week include: Paloma Faith's New York charts at 19 which is at number 15 in the UK. Veronicas finally follow up their massive hit Untouched with 4ever charting at 20. The American hit Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship is new at 33. Naturi Naughton's Fame charts at 37 and it was also the number one movie in Ireland last week. Dance music always charts in Ireland so no surprises to see Tiesto & Sneaky Sound System at 42 with I Will Be There. Not so good for Jordin Sparks who charts very low at 47 with SOS (Let The Music Play). Here's Heirs To Nothing and Lover, brand new at 13.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sad Eyes

Thirty years ago, this week, in October 1979 this song was number one on the Billboard charts in America. This is one of the best of the 1970's. Robert John and Sad Eyes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whole Wide World

Recorded in 1989 but a hit in 1990 in the Billboard charts, here's some pure bubblegum pop. This is A'me Lorain and Whole Wide World. Remember this one John and Yuri?

Five Star Dolly Ratings

Apart from the pop blogs we all read everyday and Popjustice I think the entertainment news website Digital Spy has it's heart firmly in pop promotion. This week on Digital Spy UK The Dolly Rockers review some of the week's new singles including Mika, Preston and Pixie Lott. They know and love their pop and it's all v Popworld meets Smash Hits! It's like they wandered into Paul's Fizzypop chart! They are v amusing, especially the last comment about peas. Watch their reviews here.
One of the songs reviewed in the clip above is Preston's Dressed To Kill, which I've loved since I heard it first on Paul's site weeks ago. Here he is, Preston Le Bon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Captain & Tennille & Dionne

In the 1970s the Captain & Tennille had their own TV show and it would have been a show that I would never have missed if I had been born an American child. There was lots of guest appearances on the show such as the clip below where Dionne Warwick and Toni Tennille sang He's Gone, their fantastic version of the Hall & Oates song She's Gone.

Dolly

Here's two cover versions by Dolly that I love. The first is Stairway To Heaven. The second is Where Have All The Flowers Gone.

One Minute!

Here's a TV advertisement for Celebration, the album.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Expialidocious

The track below is called Expialidocious and was created by Pogo, who comes from Australia. It's one of many Pogotracks which are on his Myspace page here. Thanks to my brother for posting it on his Facebook page.

The Jets

There are so many songs that almost were part of my favourite 40. Every now and again I'm going to post some of the songs that are also high on my list. The Jets are a great American pop group and had hits in America with songs like Crush On You, Curiosity, Cross My Broken heart and Make It Real.
Here's my favourite song by them and is one that I used to play on my radio show. This is Rocket 2 U.

In The Beginning We Were Nothing But Glad

In 1986 Nick Kamen had a number 5 UK hit with Each Time You Break My Heart. The song was written by Stephen Bray and Madonna. She also sang the backing vocals. Here's Nick Kamen and Each Time You Break My Heart..
And here is Madonna's version.

If You Liked It

One day, not so very long ago, Beyonce was walking down the street and she met a little boy who was crying his eyes out. 'What's up, chuck?' enquired Lady Knowles-Z. 'My balloon!' sobbed the child, 'My balloon flew away!!!!'. 'Well!' said Beyonce 'If you liked it then you should have put a string on it!' Oh, Oh, Oh! Here's a Beyonce-Freemasons moment.

Louder Than Sirens, Louder Than Bells

Drumming Song is the new single from Florence & The Machine. It's the 4th single from the Lungs album. They are a music act that I really want to see in concert. Dublin's Vicar Street please, Ms Florence. No out in an Irish field malarkey for me, thank you! The download EP is released on September 13th and it contains four versions of the song and also Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). Value! The CD single features Drumming Song, Falling and Dog Days Are Over.
Here's the colourful video.

Monday, August 31, 2009

She Came Along

Whenever I hear a new song I like I play it so many times that I either don't ever want to hear it again or will always like it. Today, I've been listening to a new Sharam song, She Came Along. I don't really know Kid Cudi and am not mad on his vocals on the song but I have the Patsy Cline sample in the chorus lodged in my head. Sharam is currently touring with his Wild West multimedia show which sounds very intriging. Here's She Came Along by Sharam featuring Kid Cudi, out this week in the UK. So much dance sounds the same it has to be commended for trying a different type of sample.

Just For A Little While

Sam Sparro was forever in the charts with Black and Gold in 2008. His follow up single 21st Century Life charted outside the top 40 in both the UK and Australia. Sam is too good to be sent to pop's dumper-bin already. Thankfully, the new Basement Jaxx song Feelings Gone features him on vocals. Basement Jaxx have collaborated with some great vocalists over the years and Sam is now added to that list. Feeling Gone sounds a bit Prince like in places. Which is never a bad thing.

Come Home From The Road

Thank you to Paul for letting me know that the reason for the Luther Vandross song Dance With My Father being back in the charts was due to the fact it was sung by a hopeful contestant on X Factor. It shows you that X Factor is also a factor when it comes to download purchases from Irish fans of the show. Paul also mentioned that his personal favourite Luther song is The Power Of Love/Love Power which is a really great song. I have 3 songs by Luther that I adore. The first is when he was with the group Change and the song Searching. The second is his version of Superstar. The third is the song below. It is Stop To Love from Luther's 1986 album Give Me The Reason. The line Come home from the road is a reason alone to love it in my book.

Chillin

Earlier this year, Lady Gaga added her name to the many, many 'featuring' songs in the charts worldwide. Chillin is her collaboration with rapper Wale. Pronounced Wall Eh! It is released in the UK today but has been out as a download in the US since last April. It is one of those songs that you will either love or hate. It has a sample of the 1960's song Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye). That sample has also been used this year on Kristina Debarge's Goodbye and Jay Z's D.O.A. (Death Of Auto Tune). Here's Wale featuring Lady Gaga and Chillin.
In 1983 Bananarama released their now well known version of Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) which was a number 5 hit in the UK.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sing Holiday

The single greatest pop concert moment for me ever was Madonna singing Holiday at Slane on her Reinvention tour. I was there with a great bunch of people including Brian and Patrick. We were right up the front of the stage. There was 80,000 people behind us. The whole concert was of course amazing but Holiday! Oh, Holiday. How you have been a part of my life. From the very first time playing it from the original Madonna album. From it's various chart successes. All the places I lived in, all the clubs and bars I heard it in. How many times I played it on single, album or CD just to have a few minutes of chase-all-your-cares-away pop. Watching her Detroitness sing it on Live Aid. Meeting friends over the years who like Holiday as much as me and wishing and hoping for that someone who loves pop just as much as me. So that's the 40 songs that mean a lot to me or rather some of them! And just in time too as I am 40 today. It is a weird number to write. But it is all good! Here are 3 wonderful live performances of Holiday, my most favourite pop song of all time. First back to the beginning. This is from the Virgin tour.
The second is from the Girlie show tour. The third performance is from the Reinvention tour.

A Song For You

A Song for You was written by Leon Russell. It has been covered by so many music artists. This week a lot of people are writing about Whitney Houston's version of the song. It is one that she sang before at concerts but her version now is a dance version and it seems right that she is making her comeback with that song on her album. Thank you Paul for the great review you gave to the album. Donny Hathaway's version is still one of the greatest and many male singers have sang it like Donny or in tribute to him. Leon Russell's own version is very different to the one we most know. That version that most people know is by the Carpenters. Did you know it was never a single for them? I didn't until today. It is as good as their version of Superstar which is my joint favourite Carpenter song. Here are three versions of A Song For You. Song number 39 of my 40. The first is by the Carpenters.
The second is by Christina Aguilera with Herbie Hancock.
The third version is by Elliott Yamin. Of the more modern versions of the song it is his version that I find is the most emotional, in other words it makes me cry!

On The Radio

There are many artists that should be on my list of 40 songs like Whitney, Abba, Kylie, Celine. They all have amazing songs from their music careers but my list is really a snapshot of the music I like. So some are remixes or one hit wonders. However, these next three songs are really my top 3 songs of all time, well so far! For me, pop music began with my Dad. He is a great man, I have said that before here. My parents are my home in Kilkenny. My mother has been behind everything that my dad has done with her constant support and they have always supported me in whatever me or my brother or sisters have done. One of the greatest things that my father did was set up a radio station in Kilkenny, KCR. I have also I written about it on my site. I am so proud of him. My dad is 64 now and is still working away on new projects, he is always positive, never negative. I am also proud of myself for having my own show and that show created a lifelong love of the UK charts and later the American chart. I don't think my love of pop would be the same without the radio station in our back garden that my dad set up with 3 other people Liam Carroll, Mike Breen and Jerry Joyce. Today I think of those times and all the songs. The hundreds of songs, the thousands. Every genre of music but mostly pop and country and a million love songs. My darling sisters Jane and Emma and my brother Mike all like their own music and we are a little different in our music tastes though Emma likes pop a lot and I love her for that. Every time she goes to a concert with our friend Mary I am almost there with her. Emma texted me last year to tell me she and Mary had bumped into Mutya Sugababe in a London hotel foyer and I thought well that's a true sister of mine! . There are loads more songs that I will post on my site. Today I will post the last three of my All Time 40. The first song is from 1979 and is On The Radio by Donna Summer. It is for me a flawless pop song. Song number 38 of my 40. I remember looking at a Donna Summer album in Theresa's office in the radio station and that Casablanca label pictured above. This is On The Radio by Donna Summer. If my blog was my radio show this is for all my family, for my Uncle Christy and his record collection, for my aunt Theresa buying all those early singles, my readers and friends here, all kindred spirits and very much this is for my Dad and Mam, to say thank you for starting the music.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cambodia

I have always loved pop songs where the lyrics contained a story. How wonderful it always was to have a tale, sometimes tragic, with a beginning, a middle and an end all within 3 minutes on the radio. I know that is because when I was a child I grew up listening to country music and also groups like Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, and Abba who always seemed to have a story in their songs. So by the time I became totally obsessed with pop music from 1981 onwards I already had a song structure in my head that has remained with me ever since. Kim Wilde, for me, has to be one of pop's greatest stars. Her whole image (especially that black and white top), her gorgeous attitude and of course her hit singles. From the very early songs like Kids In America, Chequered Love, View from A Bridge, The Second Time and Child Come Away to the later hits like You Keep Me Hangin' On, You Came and If I Can't Have you. There was one song that is also in my top ten songs of all time. That song was her 4th single and is Cambodia. It was produced by her brother Ricky and written by Ricky and their father Marty. It is a great story song. It was a number 12 hit in the UK, 15 in Ireland and number one in France, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. Kim's Child Come Away, for me was a classic example of a song that's almost a bit scary. Godley & Creme's Under Your Thumb is another. Cambodia is also a song where 'something happened'. The video for Cambodia is here and the clip below is a better audio version and is also the reprise version of the song. From November 1981 this is song number 37 of my 40, Cambodia.

Dublin's Got Dance

Here in Ireland it usually takes us at least 47 years to catch up on popular culture trends. It was not long ago that a 'night out' resembled the picture above. In many places it still does. Maybe the flash mob in a southside shopping centre happens on a regular basis here in Dublin but I haven't seen it before on the auld internet. The video below, taken from Ms Panti's blog, brought a smile to my face today. It has some good dancers, some truly-awful-but-bless-them dancers, dancing Mammies and a 'that's the last time Dolores drags me to Harvey Nicks!' older man at the end. They could also release the music clip as a kind of Stars On 45 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Forbidden Colours

By the time David Sylvian had moved on from the group Japan and became a solo artist I hadn't really known Japan's songs. I first remember his solo song Red Guitar which I played a lot on my Now That's What I Call Music 3 album in 1984. It was years later that I started to like Japan's music. I Second That Emotion, Life In Tokyo, Quite Life and Ghosts are classic Japan songs. My favourite is Nightporter. With all the 80s music in the charts they surely are or should be one of today's greatest influences. For all the concerts I have seen in Dublin, David Sylvian in Vicar Street in 2007 was really the most disappointing. How I wished I would never write that line! It was really a concert for the most devoted fan as he played mostly songs from his more recent solo albums. I did the silly thing of looking at the check-list of the songs he would sing on the night in advance. Never do that again folks even if it's Madonna! The only song that myself and my friend Seamus knew was Ghosts and that was a very different version to the original. I wonder how many other people there on the night had gone along thinking that he might sing a few songs that made him a successful artist in the first place. I know artists should not have to constantly perform their older songs every time but I was very disappointed. The newer songs were all a bit bleak. I know he is an artist synonymous with a certain genre of music but at one stage my friend Seamus said (a bit Bridget Jones like too loud) 'sing a happy song!'. The song that I most wanted to hear him sing was Forbidden Colours, the song that Sylvian wrote the lyrics for with music by Riuichi Sakamoto. It was a vocal version of the theme to the 1983 film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. The film's plot included a story of forbidden love between two men and starred David Bowie, Tom Conti, Takeshi Kitano and Riuichi Oshima. Forbidden Colours got to number 16 in the UK charts in July 1983 and is in the top ten songs of all time for me. It is number 36 of my 40.

Sailing

I have been living in Dublin for almost 20 years now. For all that is awful about Dublin such as the lack of civic pride that some people have for their city there has also been the great things. That for me is all the friendships I have made over the years. In every job I have worked in I have made some friends along the way that has made the experience of working there a good one such as a bookshop job a few years ago where I met my friends Anna Lena and Susan and my cinema job days where I met Orla, Tara and Sinead. My current job is full of some brilliant people and they know who they are. A lot of my friendships are female relationships while, like most gay men, the majority of my male friends are gay. My friend Brian is someone whom I made other friends through because of him. I met him through a surprise party for one of my greatest darlings, Rosie, whose birthday is also this week. Through Brian I also met my wonderful friend Patrick who is from Boston and lives here with his partner Liang. Patrick adores music and especially the American music that I love. Over the years I have gone to many concerts and nearly all of them have been with a good friend. I don't like going to a concert by myself. One concert that I went to with Patrick was Christopher Cross in Vicar Street. For every concert I see there is one song that I most want to hear. So I have heard Cyndi sing She Bop, Yazoo sing Only You, Duran Duran sing The Chauffeur and so on. Christopher Cross sang Sailing perfectly. It was number one in the USA but it wasn't a hit in the UK, only getting to number 48. Could that be true? Here's song number 35 of my 40. From 1980 this is a more recent live performance of Sailing by Christopher Cross.

Forever Autumn

The image above is one that most frightened me as a child. Like most images in popular culture that stay with us it is the mix of wonder and fear that stay with us through life. I remember the music equally as much as the images of The War Of The Worlds and of course Richard Burton's masterful narration. The music alone was cosmic and huge. This was 1978 and it was the time of the beginning of my love of all things to do with science fiction. From Star Wars to Star Trek. Space 1999 and Buck Rogers to Blake's 7 and Doctor Who. The War Of The Worlds soundtrack contains two great songs, The Eve Of The War with it's lyrics; the chances of anything coming from Mars area million to one they say, but still...they come. The other song was Forever Autumn as sung by Justin Hayward. Written by Jeff Wayne, Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass the song, for me, is one of the truly great songs of the 1970's. The song's melody was first written in 1969 though it was 1978 when it was a hit single. in the UK charts. All of the song's lyrics are beautiful because of the arrangement and the way Justin Hayward sings but how can you get better than a line such as Like the sun through the trees you came to love me, like a leaf on the breeze you blew away. Forever Autumn was a number 5 hit in 1978. It got there on August 26th 1978, a day before I was 9 years old. The info on the song's chart progress is here on a great site called Chart Stats where you can track every song's UK chart history. Here's song number 34 of my 40. From 1978 this is Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward.

Hangin' On A String (Contemplating)

The next few songs on my list of 40 are truly my most listened to in my life songs. They are songs that I will never grow tired of. That has to be the magic of a song is it's amazing ability for no matter how many listens it is like hearing it for the first time. Song number 33 is Hangin' On A String (Contemplating) by Loose Ends from 1985. It was their fourth single by the original successful line up. They were Carl McIntosh, Steve Nichol and of course Jane Eugene. This is one of my favourite vocals on a pop song. The song was a number 13 hit in the UK and got to number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100. (Something I didn't know until today, thank you Wikipedia). It was also a number one hit on the Billboard R'n'B chart so maybe some of you American bloggers remember it? Loose Ends had a number 16 hit with Magic Touch also in 1985 which was also good but no Hangin' On A String (Contemplating). Both songs were from the album So Where Are You. The song also proudly brings out the music OCD in me as it reminds me of how much I like song titles that contain words in brackets. When I read a song title it has to be written as it originally was such as no g in the word hangin'. Loose Ends also had a hit with the anti-drugs song Don't Be A Fool in 1990 though by that time the band was then just Carl McIntosh with new vocalists. A remix of Hangin' On A String (Contemplating) got to number 25 in the UK in 1992 as well. From February 1985 this is Loose Ends and Hangin' On A String (Contemplating).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kiss Curl

It is funny how songs remind you of people. This week I have been listening to the Freemasons album Shakedown 2. There are loads of remix gems on that album and I will post a few of them over the next few days. One song that is extremely remixtastic is a mix of Ghosts & Stuff by Deadmau5 and People Hold On by Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield.
How I loved Lisa and all her songs especially All Around the World, Change, All Woman and This is the Right Time. I got to see her in concert here in Dublin a few years ago with my friend Orla.
People Hold On is a wonderful pop dance song. When I looked at the video again I remembered that Lisa had her kiss curl and it reminded me of the first guy I kissed. That was back in 1990. He had a devilish grin and a kiss curl. One day several years later I was listening to the radio in work and I heard that the same guy had gone to jail. But that's another story. Anyway! Here's Lisa.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just The Way

Just a few songs left on my 40 now. The majority as you may have seen are from the 1980s or before. There are a few from the 1990s but I don't think I've included any from the last decade. It's not that there haven't been great songs but I just think it takes a while for a song to become an all time classic. I had to pick at least one song from the past few years so here's one. The Way I Are by Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson. I think Timbaland is a genius, I loved everything he did with Aaliyah and Destiny's Child as well as all his more recent collaborations. This is song number 32 of my 40 and is the Andre LaRo remix of The Way I Are.