Sunday, September 30, 2012

100 Cover Versions #96: Cyndi Lauper covers 'When You Were Mine' by Prince

When You Were Mine was written and first performed by Prince and featured on his 1980 album Dirty Mind. It was never released on single but was released on 12" and was also the b-side to his Controversy single in 1981.

Cyndi Lauper recorded her version of When You Were Mine for her 1983 album She's So Unusual. It was the seventh single released from that album but only charted in Canada. The track He's so Unusual was only 45 seconds long so there were really only nine tracks on that album so seven singles from one debut album shows the quality of pop music in the 1980's.

My favourite single from She's so Unusual is She Bop which she did a fantastic performance when she played in Dublin a few years ago. When You Were Mine is one that I like just as much and without doubt one of most favourite cover versions of all time. I love how the notes on the song's Wikipedia page highlight that the song's original lyrics remain unchanged and the song is being sung to a woman. When you consider that it is only recently that songs are sung as they were originally written and the gender subject remains unchanged on shows like X Factor that is what put Cyndi ahead of many of her fellow pop stars as an icon in 1983.

Like Madonna or Prince I couldn't imagine pop music without Cyndi. She has done so much for various good causes over her entire career and continues to so. She recently published her autobiography which I am looking forward to reading.

Here is Cyndi and When You Were Mine.

and here she is performing When You Were Mine at the American music awards in 1985.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pink Explosions and Glitter blood: Christina Aguilera debuts the music video for her new single 'Your Body'

Christina Aguilera's new single Your Body charted at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. The video has just been released and is directed by Melina Matsoukas who has previously  directed music videos for Kylie Minogue (Wow, In My Arms), Beyonce (Green Light, Diva), Lady Gaga (Just Dance) and Rihanna (We Found Love, S&M, You Da One). 

The video imagery in Your Body plays on various B-movies iconography as well as Christina's own various  trashy looks of the past. Every week of that period of her career she was criticised for that look which is now completely mainstream with Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Rihanna making a career from an image that Christina started years ago. The song is a definite pop hit and with Pink enjoying huge worldwide success with her single Blow Me (One Last Kiss) it's a general return to that genre of female vocalist hit singles that dominated the end of the 1990's and the following decade. In short Christina and Pink are reclaiming their own pop status.

The pink explosion in the Your Body video is a great visual image but if you replaced the glitter and the coloured paint in the rest of the video as she meets the other male characters with what is really is; blood - then how do we view it? The whole video has to be seen as completely tongue in cheek but what if the protagonist in the video was male meeting women he picked up. I think the idea of the video is to turn this type of imagery on it's head. We watch and accept male protagonist violence far beyond the cinema screen nowadays as TV shows and film trailers on TV have a higher level of violence. The current TV advertisement for the new Brad Pitt film Killing Me Softly being a case in point. It will be interesting to see if there is a reaction to the Your Body music video in the same way that implied violence by men in popular culture is now often largely ignored. 

100 Cover Versions #95: Jaime Nanci covers 'Love is a Battlefield' by Pat Benatar

Just a few more songs left on my 100 Cover Versions list. It has been great to do and the part I enjoyed the most is discovering new voices in music that a few months ago I haven't been aware of at all. One of those singers is Jaime Nanci. I have previously featured his covers of Babooshka and Am I Blue.

Here is one more song sung by Jaime. It is his version of Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar. I  have loved the original version since I first heard it first in the mid 1980s and still do today. Love is a Battlefield was released in 1983 in the U.S. and got to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 but wasn't a hit until 1985 in the UK.
There is many blues or soul versions of pop classics but no one I know reinterprets them or is as respectful to the original as Jaime.

Jaime's version of Love is a Battlefield was recorded in Ballinacurra house in Kinsale here in ireland. It was produced, mixed and mastered by Pawel Grudzien who also plays piano on the recording. Bass is by Dave Redmond and drums by Abel Benito. 

I look forward to featuring other songs by Jaime and his band from now on on this blog too.

100 Cover Versions #94: This Club covers 'My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It)' by En Vogue

In 1992 En Vogue released their album Funky Divas which featured the great hit singles Free Your Mind, Giving Him Something He Can Feel and My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It). That year those songs really represented the sound of MTV tooEarlier on this list of cover versions i featured En Vogue's cover version of Yesterday which was also taken from Funky Divas.

Here is a cover of My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) by the four piece irish pop band This Club. It's a really fun version and I know that Irish pop music needs more music artists like This Club.

Here also is their very poppy single  I Won't Worry.

Two Songs from Roísín O's new album 'The Secret Life of Blue'

One of the best new female singers that I heard over the past year or two is Roísín O. I have seen her play as support artist in both Vicar Street and the Olympia music venues here in Dublin and each time she was super. Her own songs are lovely as are her choice of covers. She has released her new album which is called The Secret Life Of Blue and it was great to see her album featured prominently in Tower Records yesterday. If you live in Ireland her album is also on sale in HMV, Golden Discs and Celtic Note as well as on download through ITunes.

She has played several solo gigs in the past in venues in Dublin and in October and into November she goes on tour throughout Ireland promoting her new album.

The tour dates are:
  • Friday October 19th - Cyprus Avenue, Cork.
  • Sunday October 21st Dolan's Limerick
  • Thursday October 25th John Daly's Mullingar
  • Saturday November 3rd Monroe's Galway
Her website is and her Twitter page is @RoisinOMusic

Here are two songs from The Secret Life Of Blue album.

Here is How Long.

and the second song is Here We Go.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Songs by Irish Music Artists: 'November November' - Auto Da Fe

Most of the songs that I feature on this blog are mainly American, British or international music artists. That fact got me thinking which songs by Irish music artists do I like the most. Back in the 1980s I was far more interested in Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson than U2 or The Pogues and I still am today. There are of course several songs by Irish music artists that I love and I want to feature some of them through my blog.

The first song is November November by Auto De Fe which was released in 1982. 30 years ago! I can still remember hearing it on the radio. The beautiful vocalist on the song was Gay Woods who is pictured on the single cover above. November November always reminded me of a song that Barbra Dickson or Maggie Reilly could also have sang but I loved knowing it had an Irish connection. The band were formed in Holland but have always had irish connections.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Never Tear Us Apart: Paloma Faith covers the great INXS song

Paloma Faith's single Picking Up The Pieces reached number 7 in the UK charts earlier this year.  It got to number 13 here in Ireland as well. Her follow up single 30 Minute Love Affair should also have been a top ten hit but to date has only reached number 50 in the UK singles charts. Her newest single is a cover of the great INXS song Never Tear Us Apart. It has charted in the top 20 in the UK's midweek chart and by the weekend's official chart update it should see the song reach the top ten. Paloma's version features in the new John Lewis television advertisement. This success is similar to Ellie Goulding's career boost when her version of Your Song was a Christmas hit in 2010 because of a John Lewis television advertisement.
It is interesting that it is a cover version used as part of a television advertisement that has put Paloma back in the singles charts. I would imagine that most people who liked 30 Minute Love Affair bought the album instead but I think that every music artist still has to have their own record of hit singles to stay successful long term. The UK and Irish singles charts  throughout 1980s and into the 1990s were full of cover versions. Never Tear Us Apart is old enough now for many younger music fans to be unfamiliar with it. If Paloma's cover makes people re-discover or discover INXS that is only a good thing.

Here is the new John Lewis 'Never Knowingly Undersold' television advertisement in which Paloma's version of Never Tear Us Apart features.

Here's the full audio version of her cover version.

and here is INXS and the great original version of Never Tear Us Apart from their 1987 album Kick. It got to number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts and got to number 24 in the UK so   Paloma's version will surpass that chart position. 

Bullying Bites - BelonG To's October Campaign to end homophobic bullying

Over the past ten years the LGBT youth group and organisation BelonG To has become well known here in  Dublin and around Ireland. Through high profile media campaigns highlighting issues that effect young people in Ireland they have also come to the attention of LGBT groups around the world. BelonG To really is one of the most important groups in this country because of the many people who have received help, support and made friends through it. 

They have campaigned about the issue of Homophobic bullying in schools and other places which many LGBT people know goes well past our school years.

BelonG To's newest campaign to combat homophobic bullying is called Bullying Bites. During the month of October participating restaurants throughout Ireland will be asking customers to donate €1 of their bill to help in the campaign to help to raise awareness and help stop homophobic bullying. 

To date the following restaurants have become involved:


Il Primo:

San Lorenzos:

If you are a restaurant owner or manager and would like to get involved contact Emily Scanlan at  Phone: 01-6706223 Mobile: 085=8898875.

If you would like to learn more about BelonG To and the work that they do or if you are an LGBT young person and would like to find out about their youth groups their website is and their Twitter page is @Belong_To

Here is a video that was made for BelonG To's on line media campaign which is called Stand Up! Don't Stand for Homophobic Bullying. It was first screened in April 2011 and has since then received over one million views on line. the video was written and directed by Anna Rodgers and Aoife Kelleher and was produced by Zlata Filipovic. The production company was Crossing the Line Films. 

Diamonds - Rihanna

Rihanna's new song Diamonds received it's first radio play today. The lyrics were written by Sia and you can really hear her influence in the song. It is the first single release from her as yet untitled seventh studio album and there will be a Diamonds world tour starting in 2013. Her North American tour begins in Buffalo on March 8th next year. More details here.

Diamonds is a great big anthem of a pop song and one that I think is instantly likeable. I hate the single cover so instead there are lyrics above.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Everybody in the Nite - The Dead Heavys

I featured the song Everybody in the Nite by The Dead Heavys on this blog a few months ago but after listening to the song again this evening I wanted to post the song again. It really is one of the strongest new songs I've heard this year. It is like finding an old 70s rock song on vinyl that captures a couple of genres at the same time.

Hopefully they will play in Dublin sometime soon as I know they would be a great live band. They played a few gigs this summer in Ireland and they play The Forum in Waterford on Saturday November 17th. 

Their website is here and their twitter page is @TheDeadHeavys

Irish Short films: Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty

For the past few years I have been studying for a degree in film and drama at a college here in Dublin city. It is a part time evening course so the twelve weeks semesters have defined my autumn and spring seasons over the past few years. There was a great emphasis on Irish film in our many film modules and through the course I discovered several Irish films I wasn't familiar with or in the case of ones that I knew already I saw them in a different perspective or point of view. 

One aspect of Irish films that I love is the diverse range of short films that have been made in this country or partly funded projects from other countries that involve Irish film making personnel. 
I would like to highlight some of my own favourite Irish short films. The first film that I want to feature is one that I never tire of watching. It is Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty which was produced by Brown Bag Films and was directed by Nicky Phelan. It was written by Kathleen O'Rourke who originally created the character of Granny and I think what absolutely makes the film is that Kathleen also voices Granny in the short film. I know that the character of Granny instantly reminded many Irish viewers of a granny, aunt or neighbor from their own childhoods but the humour and structure of the short was also one that made an impression on audiences worldwide too. 

The film was a success at various film festivals and was also nominated for the Best Animated Short Film award at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010. 

Brown Bag Films have since the release of their Granny O'Grimm short film have become even more successful with their creation and production of The Octonauts TV series for CBeebies and The Happy Hugglemonsters and their most recent and acclaimed Doc McStuffins TV series for Disney Junior which is now in a second series.

Their website is here and their twitter page is @BrownBagFilms 

Here's Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty.

Anything Could Happen - Ellie Goulding

One of the contenders for my favourite song of the year is Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding. I love everything about the song and I think it works on every level. I also think the video is one of the most beautiful of the year. It is brave in a powerful way. Much is written today about pop stars creativity and originality and I think Ellie is definitely well ahead of some of her peers. The huge success of Lights on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart should also allow her the room and scope to work on even more exciting ideas and projects in the future. 

While Anything Could Happen has been released on radio for a long time now it is only been released on single next week in the UK. It will be interesting to see how well it charts especially against the release of music acts who receive much more airplay. 

Here's the video which was directed by Floria Sigismondi.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

100 Cover Versions #93: Dolly Parton sings 'In The Ghetto'

One of my earliest memories of music was hearing In The Ghetto by Elvis Presley in my grandmothers house back in the 1970s. It may have been on the radio but I know that my uncle was a big fan then so it might have been from an album. I have always loved story songs, ones that that have a narrative across their lyrics. It is a song that always made me sad. I think the story in it is so tragic because decades later we can still relate it to today's times. I think the line that always stood out for me was 'and his mama cries' which is repeated three songs in the song and most powerfully at the end. There are only twenty lines in the entire song and it shows the quality of song-writing both music and lyrics in the 1960s. It was written by Mac Davis and recorded by Elvis in 1969. It would become one of the most successful and famous songs of his career. Mac Davis also wrote A Little Less Conversation which was a hit years after Elvis's death when a remixed version was released.

I can't remember when I first heard Dolly Parton's version of In The Ghetto but it is a perfect song for her to cover.  She completely captures the mood of the song, you believe every word of the song.

100 Cover Versions: #92: Frank Sinatra sings 'I See Your Face Before Me'

The other day I watched an hour long television show that featured songs performed by Frank Sinatra over his career. They were from very early in his career up to the 1960s. Some seemed to be from films or recorded on film sound stages but most seemed to be from television shows. It was an amazing collection of performances that summed him his star quality, talent and his voice and proved to me that he really was one of the greatest stars of all time.

One song that I thought was especially gorgeous was his version of I See Your Face Before Me which he sang on Once In a Lifetime which was a Judy Garland television special that she did with Dean Martin and Frank as the special guests. It was recorded in February 1962 -- fifty years ago. I See Your Face Before Me was written by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz in and it originally featured in the 1937 Broadway musical Between the Devil.  It was first performed by Natalie Rives.

In the show there is a little bit of fictional banter about a woman that both Frank and Dean are interested in and Frank says that he will 'woo her with  a song' and that performance is featured below.