April 29, 2008

Review: Madonna's Hard Candy



"They say that a good thing never lasts..."

With Hard Candy Madonna commits a sin: she repeats herself. She dresses it up in urban cougar subterfuge, but this reviewer is onto to her wanton ways. You see, The Lady Ritchie already did the iwannahavesomefun thing on Confessions, so Hard Candy is a rehash of that, shifting the dancehall from Brighton to, say... Atlanta.

The Lady Ritchie's success has never been just about dancing. If that were the case, she'd be J-Lo with better taste. Madonna is about melodic songs with IDEAS and EMOTION: dance songs that lift you higher than any others, romantic songs that sweep you down and up. Dramatically.

Count me as a fan of first single 4 Minutes, which I think is a perfect amalgamation of Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Miss Ciccone. While I could do without the obvious "Madonnuh!" chants, I love the "grab a boy, grab a girl" chorus. It's a vintage pop track, though the sleeker Junkie XL edit makes me wonder what it might have been in the hands of COAD producer Stuart Price.

C
urrent blog wisdom is that the Pharrell Williams tracks are Candy's best. Certainly Give It To Me will rank as a solid single (and probably a live blowout as well), but Williams' production often sound cheap, canned. He takes chances on Incredible and She's Not Me, both around six minutes long. The first time I heard the pulsing middle eight of Incredible ("hands up" at 2:53), I thought "Wow!" and then wished the whole song had been built on that urgency. To me, it sounds tinny and tacky. I cringe every time I hear Madonna talk-sing the grammatically painful lyric, "Just one of those things, when everything goes incredible."

Don't get me started on how Pharrell, not Timbaland (as expected), inserts his non-singer voice into most of his tracks. He even has Madonna belching "See my booty get down" on Heartbeat (at 2:20). She wouldn't have deigned to say those words at 23, so why it makes sense at 49 is beyond me?

All is not lost. Madonna adds several classics to her cannon. Miles Away is superb: a melancholy spin on the her usual relationship songs. It has the emotional elements of the best Madonna songs, with an earworm of a chorus: the repetition of the pretty "so far away, so far away." The final minute is the best moment on the album, when Madonna has metaphorically left the stage, but the dance goes on without her as the lights dim. Ahhhh.

Dance 2night, another collaboration with Justin, smartly mixes up eras in its arrangement, with some grimy funk, some Off The Wall disco and bubbling synths/strings on the gorge pre-chorus (eg: 1:01 - 1:38). The watery Devil Wouldn't Recognize You harkens back to great Madonna midtempos like 1994's Love Tried To Welcome Me. Unlikely as a single, this is the kind of album track that sticks with you for years because it's never overplayed.

The album also has some great "bits", like Pharrell's Prince-ian "Wendy!" to the Wendy Melvoin as she does that Kiss-like strum at 4:00 on She's Not Me, Justin's choral vocals breaking down Devil at 3:16, the track stuttering on Miles Away (at 3:15) or the big, multi-tracked "nows" and "hows" that seem to become more expansive throughout Give It To Me.

I don't fault Esther for trying something new - or even insane, like the truly embarrassing Candy Shop - but I do fault her for releasing a bland shit track like Spanish Lessons or allowing one-trick-pony Kanye West to use her album as a smug bully pulpit. I fault her for recording an album while writing and directing a film, "designing" clothes, producing a documentary, saving Malawians and raising three children, including a baby. All of this in one year. Her inability to sit still has diluted her work.

As a longtime Madonna fan, I would have preferred she steered a new course. Madonna's great flaw is that she's not a magician: you can often see the gears working. She is at her best when she cuts the shit and reveals pure vulnerability [refer to Secret or Frozen] or joy [refer to Ray Of Light or the Drowned World Tour version of La Isla Bonita] into her work.

At her worst, she tries too hard. In this case, she tried too hard by hiring the hitmakers of the day (which makes them instantly passe in Madonna's usual rulebook) and yet she didn't try hard enough, by seemingly abdicating her role as quality-focused producer. My suspicion is that she knows it will be harder to present dance-based songs like these on tour, where her millions will be made, at 55 than 50, so why not do it now?

Hard Candy is not a failure, but I'll be damned if I am going to end this review with another cliche about sugar.

Much of this review was formulated during emails with various bloggers. Thanks, Madge-obsessed freaks. See you at the show!

Watching the painting come to life



Last year I wrote a bit about A Fine Frenzy, a group that is primarily the beautiful Alison Sudol. She had three tunes on my big list of favorite songs: Rangers, Come On Come Out and the Keane-esque Lifesize. Sudol has been touring for the better part of a year, slowly building a fan base the old fashioned way. If you've been paying attention, there seems to be a new wave of female singer/songwriters who have no problem smiling and being... nice. It's novel isn't it?

Strangely, her label did not quite know how to market Sudol or her album, One Cell in the Sea. So confused were the tastemakers, they actually jettisoned the elegant album cover for a blandly commercial one. Regardless, the music has remained the same and that matters most. A sonic reference point might be 10,000 Maniac's melancholy (yet lush) album, Our Time In Eden. Check out Frenzy's new single, with a video due May 8:

A Fine Frenzy Come On Come Out Windows Media stream

It was actually the song Rangers that first captivated me - I am not sure how it didn't make my Essential Mix for 2007 because it has a monolithic singalong chorus: "The rangers stream out of their cabins / They are the hunters and we are the rabbits..."

A Fine Frenzy Rangers:



I urge to you to pay attention to A Fine Frenzy now if they eluded you last year.

Totally off topic: The real Heather Locklear



Really, I have not laughed so hard in months. Click to enlarge for the Full Horror! dlisted had this post on poor Heather, who claims to be 41, but I thought she was much older. Madonna should view this photo as a cautionary tale on cheek implants / Restalyne.

I think Heather looks kind of like a walrus, so it's fitting to find her in the sea...

April 28, 2008

Cover Story: Breast in show



Coldplay attempts to placate WalMart shoppers by splashing some spray paint across the neeples (as my friend Jim says) in this Delacroix painting, but youjustknow some idget is going to try to have this banned. Coldplay is taking their pretense to the next level. The artwork, the album title, the lead singer's tendency toward the fine art of the fingerwag. Music better make the people come together.



Stacked ScarJo wraps her luscious lips around the lyrics of Tom Waits. The cover is a bit obvious given the album title and I'm not so hot on the Courier font. Typewriters are so passe. I should also note that the setlist for this CD is a disappointment. It's heavily weighted toward the last 15 years of Waits output, which is a difficult set of songs.



Could this cheesy torso gimmick be any more 70's? It's so Penthouse Forum! Does Msr. Tellier have a hairy chest with a medallion? Nice horse pun, but the album, sadly, is overrated. Thanks for the mammaries though!

As consolation to these artists, none of these are as bad as the hideous Madonna album cover, which emphasizes another hotspot of the female anatomy.

April 26, 2008

La la la etc etc yadda yadda



Love Kylie has a new Greg Kurstin remix of Can't Get You Out Of My Head. As if we needed another one. BUT it's Greg Kurstin, so you might want it. The other blog to hit up for Kylie swag is Toons 'N Tunes.
New pic from Numero Magazine via Love Kylie.

April 24, 2008

Mixtape: I will have the things that I desire



I like that photo of Daniel Merriweather and Amy Winehouse above (it's old) because it reminds us that Amy is at heart a really talented artist. I bet most people don't know she does solo club shows solo with just her guitar and a mic. She has totally lost her way and I hope she can save herself. And get away from "My Blake Incarcerated."

Speaking of which, Sam Sparro is doing the Daniel Merriweather part on Mark Ronson's Stop Me at Coachella this year. The prestige. Sammy's next single, 21st Century Life, has a stellar [edit: my new word!] chorus. You can stream a sample in the post below this one. Hot Mess proves that he is the love child of Donna Summer and Prince.

I was walking home tonight and saw some houses that looked familiar - turns out they were the homes in the photo I posted on a recent mixtape (which I had found on the web). I love this neighborhood, though my life has become too much of a rollercoaster since moving. I yearn for, as Bitchin' Gwen once said, a simple kind of life.

Shocking news: Imogen Heap is rumored to be dating Jeff Goldblum! WTF?! Will she be
naked on a beach soon? (NSFW!) Meanwhile Immi does her new vblog from inside her fireplace. One of her new songs is called Bad Body Double.

Blogger John Hughes (hiya Johnny!) has been on a roll on Popdose. He just did a piece on Malcolm McLaren's Deep In Vogue and last week it was Babs Streisand's Emotion. Both are epic in verrry different ways.

Robbie Williams has grown a grey-flecked beard and become obsessed with aliens. I am serious.

ElMarv has followed up my Donna Summer List with some comments about MacArthur Park. I just want him to know that I knew the "There will be another songs for me..." That section is where the title of this mixtape comes from. Sometimes I wish I had been like 20 in 1976. One of my very close friends is 52, so I'll just ask him about it.

KylieX2008 Tour Rehearsals: Clips 1 and 2 and 3

I will review Madonna soon, in some form, but I'll say that I probably prefer the Timbaland tracks to Pharrell's, which is against the grain I suppose. For me, this is not a stellar Madonna record, but it has a handful of strong tracks, my favorites being Miles Away, Give It To Me, Dance Tonight, Devil and the single.

My favorite pet on the net, Carrie Fisher, doggy of PopMuse starred on his blog this week. I fucking love her!

Caitlin Moran argues in The Times that Madonna had a larger impact on Western culture than The Beatles: "The Beatles, for instance, didn’t do it on their own. The Beatles didn’t do it in heels. The Beatles didn’t have to overcome 2,000 years of the patriarchy before they left the house every morning."

Some good blogs I recently discovered: Ear Candy Remix and Shock-a-lock-a boom

The recent issue of Instinct had three reviews from me: Marie Digby (hated it), Clinic (was dumbfounded and a bit bored by it) and Missy Higgins (some very solid stuff on that one). Forthcoming in the June issue are mini reviews of Martha Wainwright, Ladytron and Supergrass.

Widgetmania: Sparro and Fry

Sam Sparro Sam Sparro:




Verdict based on samples: Wipe the sweat from your brow, he is not a onehitwonder. Gloriousness includes Black And Gold, Pocket, 21st Century, Hot Mess (Donna Summer meets Prince), Waiting For Time and Too Many Questions (which reminds me of early Seal). Clingwrap sounds just like The Time. I bet Sam knows all those old Paisley Park albums.

ABC Traffic:



Early thoughts: Schizo. Some classic ABC tracks: The Very First Time, Caroline, Validation, Minus Love and some shocking crap, like the opening freakout Sixteen Seconds. Note that this record will be available in MP3 worldwide via 7 Digital.

Both albums are out April 28.

April 22, 2008

Ladies who like ladies like Róisín

First, bookmark The Hopeless Optimist's Róisín Murphy Blog.



I send this photo out to all my favorite chicks who like chicks! And hot trannies who like chicks. She is hot, isn't she? It's so effortless.

Meanwhile, you may alreayd know that Róisín sent a message to her fans regarding the chart failure of her latest single, You Know Me Better:


Look I’ve never been easy to categorise and category makes this industry go round. But I am seeping in bit by bit, I have some exciting things goin on in the background that I can’t share right now but believe me I aint out of the game yet. Keep up your support, as it means so much and try to be positive. I never had friends in high places, but I have you, and you have me. Until the end.
Could I gush a little more? Could I love her a little more? I say no and then she surprises me all over again. I am not the only one:

Different Is Dangerous has a Róisín and Moloko Megamix

Sleevage
recently dissected Róisín artwork


EQ talks to Róisín (if you can actually load the page)

Did you get any of Róisín's iTunes UK Live tracks? They are deluxe. Le Jukeblog de Benzen has Let Me Know


Great photo by Almaryse

Why am I standing on a cloud



Click on the photo for some classic Madonna remixes via Shock-a-lock-a boom! Note also that bloggers are posting a file purported to be 4 Minutes (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Remix) but I am not sure it's legit.

Also check out Madonna's new interview with New York Magazine and find out the 5 Worst Madonna Videos (one you can easily guess: True Blue). Adem did a Madonna mix that is pretty good, by the by.

Yazoo Reconnected!



The Times Online has a great piece on this summer's return of Yaz (or Yazoo). Amazingly, they allow the Times writer Pete Paphides to be in the room when they see each other for the first time in 18 years. Kind of amazing isn't it? England is a small island, after all, and yet their paths never crossed.

Yaz was actually a wee bit ahead of my time. I remember loving Don't Go, but it wasn't until Alison went solo with the perfect Alf in 1984 that I really perked up.

Yazoo Situation (Hercules And Love Affair Mix) Windows Media stream

Be sure to check out John's Alison post on PopDose. Below is a great new interview where they talk about starting out and their famous single Only You, which entered the charts at no. 198...

April 21, 2008

XOvision: Swedish chic

Lykke Li I'm Good I'm Gone



Though I felt no love for her album, Lykke Li's doing interesting stuff. This new video is pretty wicked. I particularly love the ending with the octogenarian beatdowns! Herky jerky indeed.
___________________________

On a personal note, I've been too busy for blogging lately, but I should be back up this week. I've not had much rest since I moved and that needs to change. Each week life has thrown some challenges at me. This week it was the death (or euthanasia) of my car and my downstairs neighbor throwing a frat-like party, which featured a guest vomiting / passing out on our patio. At 2:15am, I went medieval and shut 'em down! "I am way too old for that shit," as one says at my age, and this neighborhood will not tolerate it. Anyway, look for more posts this week, barring other Drama I Did Not Ask For.

April 18, 2008

Pull Hair? Pipettes fracas


Becki, Gwenno and Rosay

Pull Shapes, the 2006 single by The Pipettes, will go down as one of the finest songs of the '00's that doesn't sound anything like the '00's. The track was #2 on my top songs list and the album was also #2 after Pet Shop Boys. Simply put, they made me HAPPY. So I took a deep breath and a Xanax when I heard that two of the girls, RiotBecki and Rosay, have left. Gwenno has two new sixties-obsessed lasses to dance in sync with, but it won't be the same.

Let's look back and swoon at the gorgeousness that is Pull Shapes...




Look. We survived the departure of Mutya from Sugababes and warmed to her roughneck replacement Amelle, so we can get through this together! The group is recording their new CD this summer, so let's hope for a Fall '08 single.

Viva Pipettes!

I head about this via PopJustice Forums. Here is what they're saying...

10 pm: Sorry for all the typos in the earlier version of this post!

April 16, 2008

Innocence and arrogance entwined



Nobody saw Alex Turner coming. By all rights he should be nothing special, but he has, at 22, become one of pop music's best lyricists. His two albums with Arctic Monkeys, shittily recorded though they are, feature some of the wittiest lines shot out of British radio in years. Not one to rest on his laurels, Turner and his friend Miles Kane are releasing an album under the moniker The Last Shadow Puppets.

The CD and single have the same title, The Age Of The Understatement and the sound is very 60's Bond, though the duo cite Scott Walker as a major inspiration. Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy arranged the orchestrals, which were recorded by the London Metropolitan Orchestra. If you have not seen the very expensive looking first video, watch it now. I love the lyrics to this song, especially: "And she would throw her feather boa in the road/ If she thought that it would set the scene" or this bit on the chorus, "But before this attraction ferments / Kiss me properly and pull me apart." Pretty epic.

The Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of The Understatement studio acoustic
The Last Shadow Puppets My Mistakes Were Made For You studio acoustic

____________________________________________________

The Age Of The Understatement is out in the UK & Europe on April 21st and in North America on May 6th. Note that the single has a perfect version of David Bowie's old song In The Heat Of The Morning.

April 15, 2008

I feel it in my heartbeat



Stream 30 second samples
of Hard Candy NOW


Dance Tonight, Miles Away, Devil and Give It To Me sound decent, but I cannot say the samples give me much hope.

UPDATE: Courtesy of the Popjustice Forums, Madonna saves the world from Mariah Scarey...

April 14, 2008

All I see is you



All I See
continues to dominate in every form (bar the "Mims" version). The extended version is elegant, the acoustic version is a revelation and now the quickly done acoustic video is lovely. A surprising development for a song that by all accounts should have been terribly wrong.

April 13, 2008

Donna Say: Make It Really Loud



Donna Summer's new single Stamp Your Feet is a phenomenal power-to-the-people anthem. Surely one the pop songs of the year. It was written by Greg "Wow" Kurstin, Donna and Danielle Brisboise, the former Gregg Alexander protege who grew up on American TV playing Archie Bunker's granddaughter.

Stamp apparently began its life as The Player's Anthem and you can imagine it being used for the Olympics or World Cup. There's an extended competition metaphor in the second verse. El MarvelOso asked the same question I have: Does the chorus really feature the line "Make a big-ass sound"? The middle eight (at 2:25) is a wee bit embarassing with Donna squealing "You got game!" but the song is so infectious it overrides that moment.

I have numerous Donna stories going back to like... 5th grade? I'll spare you them. For now. In the meantime, her first album in 17 years, Crayons, is out May 20 and you can get the teaser track, I'm A Fire, on iTunes US. The Solitaire Club Mix is recommended. Also, be sure to read John's PopDose piece on Bad Girls.

My Top Ten Plus One Donna Summer Songs Are...

On The Radio video
No More Tears (with Streisand)
I Love You listen
Heaven Knows performance
State Of Independence video
Could It Be Magic
Last Dance performance
I Feel Love
When Love Cries
Dim All The Lights performance
There Goes My Baby performance

Donna is on tour this summer. Too bad the HRC was not able to draft her for their True Colors Tour. She would have been the perfect closing act.

April 12, 2008

Mixtape vol. whatever



I missed Idol Gives Back but I have been watching it on youtube and above is a great piece with Annie Lennox in Africa. You'll cry if you watch it, though the actual news delivered to the children in the piece is good. I love that Annie allowed the camera to film her true reaction at the end. So when the kids of a certain pop forum bash her for being irrelevant and tedious, let's just nicely say they have no clue what they are talking about. The world needs more people doing this work. This year she sang - perfectly - a song I've always loved, Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross, and it's on iTunes US now.

And bravo to Annie for not fucking up her face with plastic surgery. Yes, that is a dig at you know who.

It killed me that Carrie Underwood did Praying For Time, part of which is about poor people, in a major evening gown. Right. She did a good job though - she never screws it up.

I was about to start musing bad thoughts about Courtney Love, but it looks like she is wrapping up her album with Celebrity Skin producer Michael Beinhorn.


Billboard has more on the new Coldplay CD, which has an absurdly pretentious title: Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. It does have a song with the pleasing title: Cemeteries of London.

Much like Hard FI, The Kooks have released a very meh album in which they just do more of the same, but not as good. No pushing the arrangements and the melodies don't come close to sublime hits like Naive or She Moves In Her Own Way. In this day and age, a band cannot afford a boring second album.

Shirley Manson is singing on Eric Avery's album. Who is he? Hear the song.

To answer some comments about Antigone, I asked about a free MP3 and Antigone said she's very much aware that web buzz in 2008 requires that. She's just not quite ready to do it. Stay tuned. I am sure several blogs will cover her and have a full song at some point.

Stevie Nicks is in the new Q Magazine (with Madonna). She says that she has been writing her new album "continually" for the last few years. When asked about a Fleetwood Mac re-group next year, she is quite blunt, saying that Lindsey Buckingham made her unhappy on the last tour. He is talented, but so often a total dick.

I don't get Leon Jean-Marie. Bed Of Nails (video) is utterly lifeless. Plonk plonk plonk Beatles piano does not a hit make. I was amused by his use of Paul's "oh my days!" before the chorus.

I thought Born Again 80's had died, but alas it is back with remixes by Haircut 100, Altered Images, Romeovoid, etc.

Speaking of which, ABC is about to release an album with zero promotion. 1983 promotion won't work, Martin. Smash Hits folded. Meanwhile the album cover is one of the worst in recent history. The MP3 of their new single The Very First Time is now at 7 Digital - anyone can buy it, regardless of country.

Adem was kissed by Roisin Murphy. If that is not a lifetime achievement, then what is?

Crowded House has already recorded a new CD. My upcoming concerts - my first in ages - include them, Sara Bareilles and, in July, George Michael.

I actually love a new Mariah Carey song, I'll Be Loving U Long Time. Paulie de Fizz posted a big bloggy thing about Ms. Scarey this week.

It's 6:40 am and I am going back to bed ...but really, time just stops until the new Donna Summer song hits.

April 10, 2008

Cover Story: Martha Wainwright



I love Martha and her album cover seemed familiar, so I dug around and realized it's an homage to André Kertész's photograph of a dancer on a couch. It's called Satiric Dancer and was taken in Paris in 1926, totally impromptu. As for Martha, her album has a great title, though the single, You Cheated Me, sounds more like an album track to me.

April 8, 2008

Dreaming in fuschia



I don't believe you understand
A woman can be more man than man

So singeth Antigone on her disco opus More Man Than Man. Produced by Shave (who worked with Darren Hayes on Delicate Thing), this is the first taste of Antigone's debut album, due in early summer. Back in December, I said this of More Man Than Man:


(This is ) one of the most epic pop/disco moments of the past few years. Your hair will fly back when you hear it. Your heels will become stilettos and YOU. WILL. PRANCE.
Strong words! Her press release compares Antigone's fierce persona on the song to that of Miss Grace Jones. It's fair: she is commanding both respect and pleasure. Below is a 90-second sample of the album version...

Antigone More Man Than Man sample

Check out The A-Z of Antigone for the Aussie diva's story. Disco friends prick up their ears: we need this kind of tune right now. It's balls-to-the-wall glamour.

April 7, 2008

I believe the friendship can survive

Mlle Murphy: Behind The Scenes At The Video Shoot




Be sure to check out this fantastic post from Wongie with some great videos and her new b-side Keep It Loose, which sounds like something Prince was doing around the era of Hot Thing (1987). I commented to Wongie that Roisin is a point where she can do no wrong. She is whipsmart and foxy. Behold her Imperial Phase!

Here also is a brilliant piece on the styling of the video. It covers the inspiration of Cindy Sherman and shows the clothing as it appeared on the runway. Thanks as always to The Hopeless Optimist for the good reportage!



photo by the amazing iamcassius

April 6, 2008

Elle Ciccone: US versus UK: US wins!




Ummm-hmmm, I am a one-stop Madonna Candy shop:

See Worrapalova for the UK version which is sort of boring. The US one is sort of - wot? - Mary Poppins/Eliza Doolittle? See Absolutement Madonna for a full set of photos and you can watch her shooting the cover here.

Meanwhile, the video for 4 Minutes is quite good even if it doesn't have enough dancing. I don't like the rotting bodies, but I do like her look and the sly nod to the Janet Superbowl controversy when Justin takes off her corset. And yes, she looks totally FIERCE.

The Junkie XL remix of 4 Minutes is fantastic and very Stuart Pricey. Digital Eargasm has that version and Le Jukeblog de Benzen has a shorter variation on it. If you feel it, it must be real.

Other freebies: Absolutement Madonna has an unreleased longer version of Music. Arjanwrites has one of the first reviews of Hard Candy that does not seem like a glowing press release. Sounds like it is a mix of good and bad.

On a final note, Stuart Price must be too busy to remix her new single because he is producing the new albums by Keane and The Killers!

April 4, 2008

What becomes a legend most?



I am not the first person to note that Donna Summer's new single, Stamp Your Feet, is phenomenal. It was produced by Greg Kurstin and it sounds like he wisely saved his best for the original disco superstar. Totally catchy and uplifting. Hear a sample below... this could be one of the songs of summer 2008.

April 3, 2008

Dragons: Tracing the lineage

Imagine a passionate bout of lovemaking between Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and the late Michael Hutchence (err, when he was alive). Years later, their son starts a band called Dragons and releases a single inspired by his 2 daddies...

Dragons Here Are The Roses:



Dragons is a thrilling (if sort of derivative) new Bristol band - they sound as much like Editors as they do The Mission. It's very industrial and goth, but still melodic. Here Are The Roses is a pretty compelling choice for a single. It's been awhile since I've heard a band pull off something so massive and confident. Brit bands have been stuck in a rut for awhile now and this is bolder than what we hear on the radio now. The problem for Dragons? The two singles sound virtually identical (listen to Lonely Tonight below).

Dragons myspace
Dragons website
Dragons Lonely Tonight video
Dragons on iTunes US and UK

Thanks to Torr for the suggestion...

April 1, 2008

I do believe that we are practicing the same religion



Last week I promised to do my Top Ten Plus One (or Two!) Favorite George Michael Songs. Truly, my favorite is dippy: Last Christmas. But that's Wham and this list is solo material, no covers:

My favorite is, without a doubt...

Fastlove
Everything is perfect. The casual sex theme is refreshing really. I love the bit at 3:25 where the song breaks down and shifts into an amazing middle eight: "In the absence of security.." when you realize that the whole tramping around behavior is a reaction to the loss of his lover: "I miss my baby tonight" One of the best uses of a sample (Patrice Rushen) ever.

followed by, in no order:

Freedom '90
Perfect encapsulation of its era. He did a great version of this for MTV's Anniversary too. Anyone have that?
Something To Save
It's the songs that don't try too hard that are often the finest. This song stands up to the great pop artists of the 70's that George idolized: Elton and Stevie Wonder.
Jesus To A Child
This came out around the time of my first trip to England. A bold choice for a single: a pristine 7-minute ballad. The part at 5:17- "for every single memory has become a part of me" - always gets me. Heartbreaking.
Do You Really Want To Know
This was released at the heighth of AIDS paranoia and education. He could have done a great video for it.
Waiting For That Day
I love these guitar, piano, bass tracks. Very organic and lowkey.
Kissing A Fool
Jazzy, smooth George. If you are a pop fan, you have probably attempted to belt along with this song. And failed.
Precious Box
Just a few years old, this song returns to the elegant disco of his earlier records.
Too Funky
A strutting dance track. I have a memory of this song that I cannot share on this blog!
Round Here
There is often a lof of love in George's lyrics. This is a sweet memory of Wham/Andrew - a take on Elton's Captain Fantastic, autobiography as pop tune. "Let me show you where I lived... music felt like rain to the streets."
This Is Not Real Love
I think I am the only person who loves this song. Mutya is brilliant and GM was sharp as a tack to choose her.
Waiting (Reprise)
This is here for the final lines: "Here I ammmmm" - I'm pretty sure he opened the Cover to Cover Tour with this, but he sang it - ironically - from behind the curtain.

My favorite covers - he does a lot of them - are: If You Were My Woman, I Believe When I Fall In Love, I Can't Make You Love Me, Killer/Papa Was A Rollin' Stone, Edith And The Kingpin, As, and First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, These Were The Days Of Our Lives.

George Michael
Careless Whisper (Jerry Wexler Version) expired

The version above predates the one you know best. Here is what Wexler said about it:

George is a very highly evolved young man, very intelligent, well-read. When he left for England, I gave him for reading material a collection of short stories by V.S. Pritchett. Now, that's not everyday rock 'n' roll fare. So we did the record, and then we did the strings in Nashville -- real strings -- and I got a certain fee and a percentage. But then they went back to England and redid the record with synthesizers instead of real strings, and that's the record they put out. The version I did with the real strings I think came out in Japan and sold 11 copies (as a 12-inch single). A couple of people I know have it on an LP. So I was gloriously screwed, and all I can think of is, they wanted to avoid my royalty as a producer. I don't know why.

XOvision: Spring awakening

Captain: Keep An Open Mind:



The return of UK's Captain with the first single from their sophomore album. I flipped for their 2006 Trevor Horn-produced debut, This Is Hazelville, but I've been wary about the new "rockier" CD. This track retains their poppy sense of melody and smart arrangements, though the video redefines herky-jerky.

Adele: Cold Shoulder:



XL wisely releases the jaunty Mark Ronson-produced Cold Shoulder, but gives it a sort of static video. I think it would benefit from some action, rather than just quick edits. Adele's lipsyncing reminds me a bit of a drag queen though: she's tryin' too hard with those big painted lips!

The Teenagers Love No:




Over the top Little Darlings-esque teen slutfest. Check out the guy at :45 with the lollipop! Concept? French kids with oral fixations run amok in a roller rink? It's very Larry Clark/Terry Richardson (NSFW), if you get those references, but it was directed by a woman named Caroline London.