Saturday, June 30, 2012

Todrick Hall's Flash Mob Performs Beyonce's 'End of Time'

Todrick Hall's Beauty and the Beat video is one of the big internet hits of this past week. Last summer he led a flash mob who performed a brilliantly elaborate choreographed routine to Beyonce's End of Time in a branch of Target. It's all rather fantastic.

The funniest Youtube comment that accompanied this video was:

'I walked out with a TV during this routine...thank you Beyonce flash dancers!!!'.

Love U More - Stedman

I still have most of my old vinyl singles. Looking through them the other day I noticed that five or six of them were by Five Star including All Fall Down which was one of their first singles and the song that first brought them to people's attention. How I loved Five Star back then. Pure classic pop songs. They were a family of popstars; three sisters and two brothers that really made their own mark on 80s pop music history.

Stedman Pearson releases his new single Love U More on July 8th. It's one of the most catchy songs of this summer and has a great baseline. It's a bit more dance than pop and in that way is both similar and different to Five Star's singles. 

Stedman has a really nice interview with Elle Flynn on her Phoenix FM radio show here. It's my favourite type of interview where the person asks good questions and allows the interviewee time and room to speak.

Stedman's Twitter page is @StedmanPearson

Here is Love U More which is released on July 8th on ITunes.

100 Cover Versions #51: Whitney Houston & Dionne Warwick cover 'You're a Friend of Mine' by Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne

In the 1980s Clarence Clemons was most famous for being the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street band. In 1985 he has a Billboard Hot 100 Hit with the song You're a Friend of Mine; his collaboration with Jackson Browne. The backing vocals were by Daryl Hannah who Jackson's girlfriend at the time when she was one of America's most well known movie stars.

In the 1970s and 1980s Dionne Warwick  appeared on various American music television shows as a host or guest performer. Here is one of the best duets from one of those TV shows. It's Dionne with her cousin Whitney Houston singing their version of You're a Friend of Mine.

Heart's a Mess - Gotye

One person whose recommendations that I always know will be good is Enda Guinan. When I first started blogging there weren't that many Irish people blogging about pop. There were several who wrote about indie or new Irish bands but not many who wrote about pop and dance music from other countries. It was Enda who first brought songs like With Every Heartbeat by Robyn featuring Kleerup and We Are The People by Empire of the Sun to my attention. Last year when the bookshop I worked in here in Dublin closed down Brian one of the guys that  I worked with used to play We Are The People while we all packed up the books in the last days of our jobs. I always think of that time and the great people i worked with when I hear that song now.

One of the most lovely songs that I remember Enda recommending long before anyone else did was Heart's a Mess by Gotye back in 2006. It was taken from his album Like Drawing Blood
Now in 2012 Gotye could retire on the strength of the worldwide sales of Somebody That I Used To Know but when I hear Heart's a Mess I know he should not be just a one hit wonder.

Here's Heart's a Mess and it has a great video too. No body paint or Kimbra!

100 Cover Versions #50: Erasure cover 'Solsbury Hill' by Peter Gabriel

Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel is 35 years old this year. It got to number 13 in 1977 in the UK singles chart. Ever since I was a child I've loved that song. In 2003 Erasure released their version of Solsbury Hill and it got to number 10 in the UK singles charts. It was taken from their album Other People's Songs which featured their cover versions of songs such as Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime by The Korgis, True Love Ways by Buddy Holly and Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile) by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. 

Erasure have covered several songs over the years and every cover is also their own wonderful sound. I think that sense of joy was part of made their number one Abba-Esque covers EP such a huge success in 1992. That sense of happiness that quality pop music conveys is there in their version of Solsbury Hill. I think I could listen to Andy Bell sing a version of any song.

Today is Pride day here in Dublin and on days like today I always think of  out and proud popstars such as Andy who have provided the soundtrack to all our own histories through pop music. One of the most happiest concerts I have ever been at in Dublin was seeing Erasure at the Olympia in June of 2011. I had waited a long time to see Andy and Vince in concert and it was a truly joyous gig. What was also lovely is that the Olympia was also the same venue that Vince had played with Alison Moyet when Yazoo played there on their reunion tour in 2008.

Here is a live Top of the Pops performance of Solsbury Hill by Erasure.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Clouds - Newton Faulkner

Here's a song that I can see doing well here in Ireland and in other international charts. It's Clouds by Newton Faulkner. He has only had one UK singles top 40 chart hit when Dream Catch Me got to number 7 in 2007. His last single Write It On Your Skin got to number 54 in the UK charts earlier this year so it would be great to see Clouds being his second top 40 hit.

Here is the video for Clouds and it is the second single from his album Write In On Your Skin.

Curtain Call - Aiden Grimshaw

Aiden Grimshaw releases his second single Curtain Call on August 10th in Ireland and on the 12th in the UK. His previous single Is This Love was one of many recent quality high profile single releases which only spent one week at the lower part of the UK charts. It would be great to see Curtain Call chart better than Is This Love. The singles chart has always been at it's best when there is a wide mix of songs featured throughout the Top 40.
Curtain Call also features guest vocals by ShezAr who is the sister of singer Labrinth, according to the website


'Lights' by Ellie Goulding is finally a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart

This week Lights by Ellie Goulding climbed 6 places to number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It is now 27 weeks on the chart which is also one of the slowest climbs to the top 10 in American chart history. 
Lights has now sold 1.9 million downloads in the US alone making it one of the biggest hits ever by a British music artist that wasn't a big hit in the UK. It was first recorded in 2008 and it only got to number 49 on the UK charts when it was released in March 2011. It never featured on the original edition of her debut album but was one of two extra songs that were included on the re-release of Lights or Bright Lights as that re-release album was known as. The other song on Bright Lights was her cover version of Elton John's Your Song which was a huge Christmas hit in 2010 when it got to number 2 in the UK singles chart and number 5 here in Ireland. 

The video for Lights was directed by Sophie Muller whose first video was for Beethoven (I Love to listen To) by Eurythmics in 1987. She has directed dozens of videos for some of the world's most successful music artists since then including No Doubt, Sade and Beyonce.

With the top ten success of Lights in the US it would be interesting to see how well it would do in the UK and Irish charts if it was re-released with a proper marketing campaign.

White Light - George Michael

George Michael premi√®red his new single White Light today on radio in England. There has also been a lyric video released in advance of it's download release date which will be on August 12th. It will mark the 30 year anniversary of his career in the music industry which began with Andrew in Wham!.

All four of George's previous singles charted within the top 30 in the UK including his cover of New Order's True Faith which got to number 27 in 2011. Incidentally, the last time that George had a top ten hit in the UK was with Flawless (Go to the City) which got to number 8 in 2004. That song brilliantly sampled the dance track Flawless by The Ones.  As pop bloggers such as Nick Bassett on his website The Re-View pointed out White Light is a 'definite return to form' and is most similar to the dance tracks on George's  2004 album Patience. That album also included Amazing which was the album's biggest hit and got to number 4 in the UK charts. Shoot the Dog was one of my favourite singles from that album and it got to number 12, it so deserved to be a top ten hit.

Here is the lyric video to White Light.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beauty and the Beat

Todrick Hall is the person who created this wonderful version of the song Belle from Beauty and the Beast in downtown Los Angeles. I think Belle in da Hood would be a good name. It's clever and funny throughout. Katie Stevens is a fantastic Belle as she interacts with everyone in her neighbourhood. I wish Dublin 7 was like this every morning.  

Thanks to @LiamGeraghty for posting a link to this yesterday on Twitter. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paperboy - Rebekka Karijord

Here's a song that I liked within the first few seconds of hearing it. It's Paperboy by Rebekka Karijord. The video is a fan made one which was created by Amie Varney and Hannah Crofts. It's perfect for the song. Amie and Hannah say on their Youtube page that 'in keeping with the title we made it in the attic using just paper, tape and scissors'. 

I had never heard of Rebekka before until yesterday. Her biography here on the Harmony Ridge Music page is really interesting.  She was born in Norway and also lives in Sweden and considers both places her home. She had lived in 17 different places by the time she was 18. I think the places that we live in really shapes our characters and experiences and when that is channelled into creating music and song-writing it becomes universal. I'm loving all the new music from around the world that I've been discovering recently.

Here is Paperboy by Rebekka Karijord and a video created by Hannah Crofts and Amie Varney.

100 Cover Versions #49: Us covers 'We Found Love' by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris

Pop duo Us are Carissa Rae and Michael Alvarado. They are singer-songwriters from California. Their cover of In the End by Linkin Park looks like it will chart in the UK singles chart this coming Sunday following the use of the song over a montage of images of England's exit from Euro 2012. What is almost nicer than their cover of In the End is their version of We Found Love by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris which they recorded in January of this year.  

Their website is called Have You Heard Of Us and features details about their own music. Their Twitter page is @UsTweeting

Here is their version of We Found Love.

Here also is their version of In The End.

Friday, June 22, 2012

100 Cover Versions #48: Jimmy Somerville covers 'Black Is the Colour (Of My True love's Hair)

Today is Jimmy Somerville's birthday. Since he first came to fame with Bronski Beat back in 1983 he has always been one of my most favourite pop stars and personal heroes. In the 1980s singers like Jimmy and Andy Bell from Erasure were out and proud for all of their fans who hadn't or couldn't reach that stage yet. I know pop music kept me sane when I was growing up but singers like Jimmy Somerville promised me that I wasn't the only one in the world. I used to not like Smalltown Town for years because it was too close to the bone. It would be the 1990s before I even met another gay guy but back in 1983 that song had such an effect on me. It made me think and question and wonder. I know other gay music fans; male, female and transgendered must have had their own relationship with that song when they first heard it too. It is just a great and powerful and beautiful song. It is our song that over time has become everyone's.

Jimmy has covered many songs both with Bronski Beat and The Communards and as a solo artist. In 2009 he recorded an album called Suddenly Last Summer which featured his versions of songs by other artists. It was first released only digitally and later a number of limited editions were released. I remember that fellow pop blogger David McDonagh loved that album on his blog David's Daily Dramas. That kindred spirit in Brighton always loves the best music. David's blog post on Jimmy and the Suddenly Last Summer album is here

Looking at the list of songs that Jimmy covered you can see that we as gay men are universally drawn to the same wonderful songs and singers. On that album Jimmy covered songs by Blondie, The Doors, Dusty and the song I'm featuring on this post which dates back to at least 1915. It is Jimmy's cover of Black is the Colour (Of My True Love's Hair). It has been recorded by many different artists over the past 100 years including Nina Simone. Luka Bloom does a lovely version of it too. I like that it is a song that no one really knows if it was first sung to a man or a woman and that is what makes every interpretation special. 

So on his birthday today here is Jimmy Somerville and a very beautiful cover of Black is the Colour (Of My True Love's Hair).

Vultures PI return with a new episode:The Lost Lunch of Niall Tennyson

Vultures PI is an on line comedy detective series that is based and filmed in my home county of Kilkenny here in Ireland. There has already been a full first series which featured seven episodes including a pilot. All of the episodes have been developed in Kilkenny and filmed on location throughout town. The second episode of the second series has just been released on line and it's entitled The Lost Lunch Of Niall Tennyson

The first series centred on the three main detective characters; Jim Vultour (John Morton) Dan McGrain (David Thompson) and Niall Tennyson (Sean Hackett). In each episode there is a specific storyline which can be watched as stand alone shows. Throughout the series secondary characters were introduced. Recently the trio were joined by Janine Drew (Suzanne O'Brien) who is like a foul mouthed Daphne from Scooby Doo. In the first episode of the new series Vultour, McGrain and Tennyson have become unemployed detectives and the episode concentrated on Janine's documentary on them. 

In the latest episode; The Lost Lunch of Niall Tennyson one of the original detectives Tennyson begins a detective course on a government sponsored FAS course. Two of the tutors are Vultour and McGrain and it puts the three characters more centre stage again. Janine does feature but I thought her character was funnier and works better in this episode. What I thought was very effective is that many of the recognisable secondary characters all feature as the main action of the episode is centred in a class room environment. The interactions between them all is great especially those scenes that feature the characters of Jack Street (Ross Costigan), Noah Hennessy (Gus McDonagh) and Tom Moriarty (Stephen Colfer). The episode was directed by Peter McGann and was written by John Morton. The premise of the storyline is exactly what it says in the title but I love what Morton's script and the various actors do with it all. 

I watched the new episode when it went on line yesterday and when I watched it again today I noticed brilliant little details such as the Dickin' around for Beginners written on the flipchart, the little stash of sweets and the candy cane on the desk in front of Jack Street, the fact his name sticker is upside down, the tub of Brylcreem in front of Moriarty and the fact that Janine's brother is named Ronnie. 

When I was growing up in Kilkenny light years ago in the 1970s and 1980s there was sport There was always arts in Kilkenny through the Kilkenny Arts Week in August every year but until recent years I don't think everyone in Kilkenny connected to it. What I love now is that I associate Kilkenny with all sorts of  creativity in relation to film, theatre and art and Vultures PI is completely part of that.

Here are both episodes of series two of Vultures PI.

The first is Janine Drew Presents Where Have All The Good Dicks Gone.

and the most recent episode The Lost Lunch of Niall Tennyson.

All of the first series of Vultures PI can be viewed here and their Twitter page is @VulturesPI

You can also view the episodes on their ITunes page for free here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wonderful - Angel

Of the new songs on release at the moment that I've been listening to recently Wonderful by the London based singer Angel is one that stands out. I like the mix of music styles that he uses in Wonderful a lot. He looks great too. 

His website is here and his Twitter page is @ThisIsAngel

100 Cover Versions #47: Pretenders cover 'I Go To Sleep' by The Kinks

On listening to the various cover versions on this list through Youtube I found the cover of I Go To Sleep by Sia. It has over the past few years become one of her signature songs but I had never heard it until yesterday. I always find the comment threads on a Youtube video interesting. Many younger music fans just think of I Go To Sleep as a song by her and that it is the only version. 
My own personal version is by Pretenders. When I was a teenager in the 1980s I never knew that  I Go To Sleep was originally recorded by The Kinks. For me the Pretenders version was the only version so I think that songs and versions of them become a generational thing. The more I listen to Sia's version the more I like it. While her 2011-2012 hits Titanium and Wild Ones are great pop songs that represent now I hope Sia's own voice and her own kind of music becomes in time what she is most well known for.

So here first is  Pretenders and I Go To Sleep which is not only one of most favourite cover versions but is also one of my all time favourite songs. It has a hypnotic quality, music that always makes me think of winter and Russia.

and here also is the original video for I Go To Sleep.

Here is Sia and her live in concert version.

and here is the very beautiful original version by The Kinks which was first recorded in 1965. Older than me!

100 Cover Versions #46: Tori Amos covers 'Angie' by The Rolling Stones

Tori Amos has covered so many songs throughout her wonderful music career over the past few decades. One of the delights of seeing her in concert is that she may sing a surprise cover or even a cover that she may only sing on one particular tour. 
Here is her cover version of Angie by The Rolling Stones which featured on the Crucify EP back in 1992. When I moved to Dublin she was one of the first music artists I saw in concert when she was promoting her Little Earthquakes album and played at the midnight at the Olympia show. 

My favourite Rolling Stones song is Gimme Shelter with Angie a very close second. It was an American Billboard Hot 100 number one hit in October 1973.

Here is Tori's quietly perfect version of Angie. I always loved as well that Tori is a singer who doesn't feel she needs to change the gender of the person in the song.

100 Cover Versions #45: Etta James covers 'Purple Rain' by Prince & The Revolution

In 2006 Etta James released her album All The Way. It featured cover versions of songs made famous by other music artists. The songs she sang on that album included her versions of Imagine by John Lennon, I Believe I Can Fly by R Kelly, What's Going On by Marvin Gaye and Holding Back The Years by Simply Red. One song that I was intrigued to hear was her version of Purple Rain by Prince & The Revolution. It is a song that has been almost a standard on TV talent shows but is always something to hear it sung by the most famous singers in music. Her version is a real blues version. Etta James was 66 when she recorded her version of Purple Rain in 2005 and her last studio album was The Dreamer in November 2011.

The Tony Wonder Born & Bread in the USA Playset

For the past few months my brother Mike has been working on some of his most inventive and creative work for a series of exhibitions for Gallery 1988 Melrose in Los Angeles. In each of the exhibitions a group of artists and designers were given a specific theme relating to popular culture and the artworks are the results of their different creative ideas. 
The theme of the first exhibition earlier this year was on internet memes and for that show Mike made two pieces. One was a Nyan Cat spaceship which you can see and read about on his website here

Mike's second piece for the Internet Meme's show was on the Old Spice commercial which featured Isaiah Mustafa which you can read about here.

A tribute show to the comic, writer and acting legend that is Steve Martin was the next themed show and for that show Mike used the Planes, Trains and Automobiles film as his inspiration. It also paid tribute to the late John Candy which was one aspect that I also loved. All the details of that piece are here.

It is such a buzz for me to see what Mike does next. Ever since he was a child he has had a wonderful imagination. Mike draws on the past of his own memories of childhood, all of the movies and TV shows that he grew up with and also his own birthday toys and Christmas presents and he makes those images new. My only advice to him on anything he does is to put his heart into what he does and I always see it when the end result is made. A friend of mine recently said that Mike has found his niche recently and I think that's definitely true as he has recently been working more with wood in his work and he has his own recognisable sense of colour. But I know that the art that he will be working on even in a few weeks time will be different again and that's what always makes his work so great. These days we live in a world of the single image, the first impression and that's what my brother celebrates.

The theme of the latest group exhibition in Gallery 1988 Melrose is the TV show Arrested Development. I adored that show and what is fabulous about it is that because of the diverse characters and story lines there is an entire world of ideas that could be used in an art show like Gallery 1988. 
The other day Mike tweeted a picture of part of what he had created for his contribution to the new Gallery 1988 show. That photo is above and the piece is called The Tony Wonder Born & Bread in the USA Playset

I was going to post images of the rest of the piece but what works best is to click on this link and it will bring you onto's Mike's website where he writes about the inspiration for the piece and then shows the completed piece itself. What I love about when he posts is that you read his words first and then follow the sequence of images done along one by one and it all becomes part of how his imagination works. 

On the Old Spice Guy piece, the Steve Martin and the Arrested Development pieces Mike has also collaborated with his friend Paddy Dunne whose imagination is as brilliant as Mike's and they are a great team. Paddy helped design the boxes and packaging on all three of those pieces and for the newest piece has made and designed other key pieces of the work as well. Mike has often worked with other artists here in Dublin and beyond and continues to do so. 

The There's Always Money in the Banana Stand: A Tribute to Arrested Development exhibition opens on June 29th in Gallery 1988 Melrose, 7020 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and runs until July 21st. Their website is here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Thomas Donoghue Band

The Thomas Donoghue Band are a Kilkenny based group whose musical influences include James Vincent McMorrow, Newton Faulkner, the John Butler Trio and Lisa Hannigan. The five piece band are Thomas Donoghue, Dan Pearson, Vicky Day, Ken Farrell and Peter Flynn. 
Last Saturday they released their debut EP; In The Meantime with a launch party in Kilkenny. That EP features three songs Solace, In the Meantime and The Sea

A music video for Solace was directed by Ross Costigan and features below. The photos of Thomas and the band featured on this post are also by Ross. There has always been a vibrant music scene in Kilkenny. I grew up with Kerbdog and Engine Alley being successful both locally, nationally and beyond. Today what those bands started continues with an even greater mix of creative talents who work in art, film, theatre and music. The video below for Solace was also filmed by Ross Costiagan and Richie Cody and the production and online facilities are by Mycrofilms.

More information on The Thomas Donoghue Band can be found on their Facebook page here and on Twitter @Thomassm57

Myrcofilms website is here and Ross Costigan's website is RossCostiganPhotography.

Black Heart (The Remixes) - Stooshe

Earlier this year Stooshe got to number 5 in the UK singles chart with Love Me their collaboration with Travie McCoy. Their newest single Black Heart should do even better. The video is great in the great girl band pop tradition way.

There are two fab remixes of it that includes various Tweets by their fans in the videos.

Here's the Bimbo Jones remix.

and also the Wookie Twitter remix.

Paloma Faith sings 'Picking Up the Pieces' on The Graham Norton Show

One of the best concerts that I went to in Dublin over the past few years was Paloma Faith in the Iveagh Gardens here in the city centre. At the time she was touring with her album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? Each song was a little show in itself. She is a really great music artist to see in concert as it's all about the look and the drama of the songs and her banter was great too. At the time New York was her big song and now in 2012 her most recent single Picking Up The Pieces from her second studio album Fall To Grace is becoming just as well known.

Candi Staton sang before Paloma at that concert in the Iveagh Gardens and I always say that she co-headlined that concert because it was amazing to hear Candi sing all of her wonderful famous songs such as You Got The Love, Suspicious Minds and Young Hearts Run Free. 

I always think that when Emeli Sande sang Next To Me on The Graham Norton show that that was her big career changing moment. I love the way that Graham features one big song on his show just like Michael Parkinson used to do. Picking Up The Pieces climbed back up 5 places on the UK singles chart to number 14 on Sunday and I think it was partly to do with her performance on the show.

Here is her performance of Picking Up the Pieces on The Graham Norton Show.

Here also is Paloma singing New York on the Friday Night with Jonathan Ross show in 2009.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

100 Cover Versions #44: Leela James covers 'A Change is Gonna Come' by Sam Cooke

Leela James released her debut album A Change is Gonna Come in 2005. It had four singles which included her version of Don't Speak by No Doubt. My favourite song on that album was her cover version of A Change is Gonna Come. It was originally recorded by Sam Cooke in 1964. 

Here are two videos featuring her version of that song. The first is the studio version that was heard on her self titled album.

and the second is Leela singing at an outdoor concert in Los Angeles in 2011. Her intro to the song is particularly lovely and heartfelt. As ever thank you to the person who was there and uploaded this video on Youtube.


In my list of my favourite songs from the past decade Wonderful Life by Hurts is high in that list. I think it's just a little work of art. Here is another mix by Robin Skouteris which uses the original and M.A.D.mixes of Wonderful Life with the songs Rain by Brainbug and also violin by Heli Kivisto.

The Gang Bang Theory - Madonna Vs Nancy Sinatra

Robin Skouteris has teamed up with Pat Scott and their collaboration is The Gang Bang Theory which mixes Gang Bang by Madonna with Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Nancy Sinatra and also uses music clips from You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi and Bodies by Drowning Pool. The video for The Gang Bang Theory is by Panos T and it mixes scenes from Kill Bill with Madonna's video for What It Feels Like for a Girl

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love the work of Robin Skouteris but his work really is at it's best when he collaborates with Panos T. Both of their editing skills just gets better and better. I always feel like the music artists were in the studio together when I hear Robin's mixes and likewise with Panos T he is just a wizard at what he does. They never do what might be the obvious thing to do and that's what makes them brilliant.

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) is one of the all time best pop records. It's was orginally recorded by Cher in 1966 and Nancy covered it in the same year. It's just timeless, her version is beautiful in a wonderfully dark way. Robin has used Madonna's songs in several of his previous mixes but I think this is one of his most creative to date. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ho Hey- The Lumineers

Ho Hey is a very sweet song by The Lumineers. It charted this week at number 90 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The Lumineers are Wesley Schultz, Heremaiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek and they come from Denver, Colardo. Fellow music blogger John from Pop Music Notes is from that part of the world so I thought of him when I heard this song.

The folk country genre often has many songs that sound the same but I think this one is kinda special.  It's one I could definitely see doing well here in Ireland so I think it will be one to watch.  

100 Cover Versions #43: The Bird & The Bee cover 'Kiss On My List' by Hall & Oates

The Bird and The Bee are Inara George and Greg Kurstin. I think it was through Yuri writing about them on his music blog Olga Loves Yuri that I first heard about them when he loved their album Interpreting the Masters Vol 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates. That album was released in 2010 and it featured their versions of 8 songs made famous by Hall & Oates and also one of their own original songs. 

Hall & Oates were one of those pop acts that made me wish I was a teenager living and growing up in America in the 1980s. This week I started listening to The Bird and The Bee's Hall & Oates covers again including Private Eyes and One on One and Kiss On My List is the song that I seem to like the most at the moment. The wonderful line 'when they insist on knowing my bliss' has stood out in my mind since I first heard it over 30 years ago.

In 1981 Kiss On My List was Hall & Oates second Billboard Hot 100 number one hit, the first was Rich Girl in 1977. Hall & Oates had a further four number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart;   Private Eyes and I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) both in 1981, Maneater in 1982 and Out Of Touch in 1984. They had so many gorgeous pop songs.

The Bird and The Bee have also covered other pop songs so I may post another song one by them on this list.

For now here is their cover of Kiss On My List.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

100 Cover Versions #42: Will Young covers 'Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)' by Kate Bush

Here is the third cover version of a song by Kate Bush on my list following earlier posts of Cloudbusting by Gemma Hayes and Babooshka by Jaime Nanci & The Blue Boys. This one is Will Young's cover of Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God). Will continues to be one of my most listened to male vocalists. I've loved all of his last few singles from his Echoes album including his newest one I Just Want A Lover which is released on June 25th. 

Here is a beautifully structured version of Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) that he recorded for Dermot O'Leary's Radio 2 show in August of 2011. Will has sung it live at concerts too so hopefully I will see him sing it at a future concert in Dublin someday.

Harden my Heart - Quarterflash

In 1981 Quarterflash has a top 3 Billboard Hot 100 hit single with their song Harden My Heart. It was also a number one American mainstream rock hit. The lead singer and saxophonist in the band was Rindy Ross and her husband Marv was the band's guitarist. The other members of the band were guitarist Jack Charles, drummer Brian David Willis, Rich Gooch on bass and Rick DiGiallonardo on keyboards. Quarterflash came from Portland, Oregon and they had a further 6 singles chart in the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s including the top 20 hits Find Another Fool in 1982 and Take Me To Heart in 1983. 

When I went to see the Rock of Ages movie today one of the best parts of it was recognising the various songs a few notes in. The song that brought me right back to the radio days of the 1980s was hearing Harden My Heart again which is sung in the film by Julianne Hough and Mary J. Blige and it is a version with Shadows of the Night by Pat Benatar mixed in. I hadn't heard Harden My Heart in years and I think it's such a great gorgeous rock classic. Broken hearts never sounded as good as they did in 80s rock songs. 

Here are both versions of Harden My Heart

The first is the original video for Harden My Heart by Quarterflash

and here also is a 1982 Solid Gold TV show performance.

and from the Rock of Ages soundtrack Harden My Heart and Shadows of the Night sung by Julianne Hough and Mary J. Blige.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Keepers - Santigold

The Keepers will be the next single by Santigold. It is taken from her well acclaimed second studio album Master of My Make-Believe. Here is a BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance of The Keepers which was recorded in May of this year.

One Man Army - Kassidy

Some of the more interesting music videos tell a story in their short three or four minute narrative. I think part of the reason for the huge success of David Guetta's Titanium was that the video was a mini X-Men film/ X Files episode.  
One video that has a similar engaging narrative is One Man Army by Kassidy. When I watched the video below for the first time today I didn't know they were a band, instead I thought the protagonist in the video was Kassidy. The four members of the band do appear in the video but I love that the focus of the video is not centred on them. The four band members of Kassidy are Barrie James O'Neill, Hamish Fingland, Lewis Andrew and Chris Potter. 

Kassidy released their debut album Hope St in 2011 and One Man Army is the title track of their second album which was released in April of this year. They are currently on tour with concerts in Paris, Cologne and Berlin this week and they play at the Hebridean Celtic Festival on Thursday 12th July.

Their website is KassidyMusic.Com and their Twitter page is @KassidyUK.

Christina Aguilera sings the theme song for 'Casa de Mi Padre'

The new Will Ferrell movie Casa De Mi Padre was funnier than I expected it to be. When you accept the ridiculousness of it from early on I think you would enjoy it. If not you will probably hate it. It did also have a Molly Shannon cameo which is reason enough for me to see a film. 

I did like the songs that were sung in the film or featured on it's soundtrack. The theme song is sung by Christina Aguilera and that song; Casa De Mi Padre reminded me of the use of Spanish songs in Mexican, spaghetti westerns and Pedro Almodovar films all at the same time. It was also the first time that I thought that Christina really could sing a great Bond theme which may be part of the reason she agreed to sing in this movie.

The intro on the video clip that you can hear below is the start of the movie which then cuts to Christina singing the theme song.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vegas Girl - Conor Maynard

Conor Maynard releases his new single Vegas Girl on July 22nd. His debut single Can't Say No was one of the poppiest songs of 2012. It got to number 13 here in Ireland and to number 2 in the UK charts earlier this year. On the Sunday when Can't Say No was released there was a great push on Twitter to get the song up the charts which was a real sign of a new music artist cleverly using social media to its full commercial advantage.  
Vegas Girl is very catchy indeed and doesn't sound extremely different to Can't Say No which is exactly how second singles should sound if they want to chart well. The name checking of pop star names Keri, Rihanna and Alicia in Vegas Girl is a great hook too.  His debut album Contrast will be released on July 30th.

As is the law of video releases nowadays there has been a lyric video for Vegas Girl released and here it is.

100 Cover Versions #41: Jaime Nanci & the Blue Boys cover 'Babooshka' by Kate Bush

The first Kate Bush songs that I remember from my childhood were not Wuthering Heights and Wow but are Babooshka and Army Dreamers. I always remember that both of those songs almost frightened me a little bit, I always associate them with autumn or winter evenings; those Sundays when you had nothing to do with the radio playing in the background. I loved the whole world that Kate Bush created and still does with her songs. I remember Babooshka and Army Dreamers making me aware of how atmosphere and presence could be conveyed through music.  Each of  Kate Bush's singles are more than just songs; they are like favourite books that you keep and treasure. Both Babooshka and Army Dreamers featured on Kate's album Never for Ever which was released in 1980 and was the first album by a British female music artist to go to number one in the  UK album charts. 

Here is a cover of Babooshka that I have loved as soon as I heard it. It is by Jaime Nanci & The Blue Boys. They are a four piece Dublin based ensemble who comprise of Jaime on vocals, Pawel Grudzien on piano, Dave Redmond on bass and Abel Benito on drums and are sometimes accompanied by Judith Font on piano and Barry Donohue on bass. 

There are links to other songs such as Cry Me A River and Beautiful Feelin' on their website which can be found here

If you live in Dublin Jaime Nanci & the Blue Boys begin a Sunday residency between 5pm and 8pm in the Sin √© music venue on Ormond Quay from July 8th. More information on their facebook page here

Here is a live in concert performance of Babooshka by Jaime Nanci & The Blue Boys which was recorded in Whelans music venue also here in Dublin in April 2011.

100 Cover Versions #40: Rita Ora covers 'Hey Ya!' by Outkast

Hey Ya! by Outkast was recorded ten years ago in 2002 and it was released in 2003. It was the big hit from their double album Speakerboxx/The Love Below. It was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in America and also was went to the top of the singles charts in Canada, Australia, Norway and Sweden. It was a number 2 chart hit here in Ireland and it got to number 3 in the UK.

Here is a nice soulful cover of Hey Ya! by Rita Ora. It's just her and a guy with a guitar.