Thursday, 26 February 2015

10 Great 90's Songs By Female Artists

Went on a little 90's kick lately and realized there is a whole sub-genre of tunes from that era that gets painfully overlooked in modern rock radio and media. Remember when a woman could pick up a guitar and rock a room? Well i'm sure there are many that still can, but how many can you name currently making waves in the music world? They aren't front and center anymore unless they are dancing around and shaking what they got at the same time. Here's 10 great songs from a great decade by female artists!

1. "Do You Sleep?" - Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb holds the distinction of being the first American artist to have a song hit #1 without being signed to a recording label. "Stay" became a huge hit when her friend Ethan Hawke gave a copy of her demo to Ben Stiller who decided to use the song in his movie Reality Bites. Of course she would immediately land a recording contract with Geffen Records and released Tails in 1995. "Do You Sleep?" was Loeb's second big single and while "Stay" is a classic, "Do You Sleep?" showed off more of her already impressive song writing skills.

2. "Who Will Save Your Soul?" - Jewel

Jewel (real name) got her start in music singing in bars and taverns in a small town up in Alaska. She would learn to yodel and eventually take off across the country performing whichever gigs she could to gain exposure, it was during this trip that she famously lived in her car. Her first album Pieces Of You went 15 times platinum and featured 4 singles including "You Were Meant For Me", "Foolish Games" and "Who Will Save Your Soul?". Later on she would change her folky style and release a dance album in 2003.

3. "Sunny Came Home" - Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin hails from South Dakota and is most known for her best selling 1996 album A Few Small Repairs which featured the Grammy award winning song "Sunny Came Home". As she was about to accept the award Wu-Tang Clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard stormed the stage and protested his band's loss of Best Hip Hop Album earlier that night.

4.  "Birmingham" - Amanda Marshall

A Radio Broadcasting instructor of days gone by would be sorely upset with me somewhere if I didn't include Canada's Amanda Marshall.  After being discovered by Jeff Healy, Marshall set off on a solo career spanning 3 albums and multiple hit singles in her native Canada. Only this song "Birmingham" would hit in the US, perhaps because it's named after a city in one of their states, it reached #43 in 1996.

5. "I'm Hardly Ever Wrong" - The Would Be's

This one just squeeked in. The Would Be's were formed in 1989 in Ireland released one album in 1991 and then promptly broke up. The band was formed by two brothers, but it featured a 17 year old Irish lass Julie McDonnell on vocals. Great news everyone! It appears that The Would Be's reformed in 2012 and released a new album in 2013!!

6. "As I Lay Me Down" - Sophie B. Hawkins

Though this song is not as recognized as her earlier hit "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover", "As I Lay Me Down" saw Sophie B. Hawkins resting atop the Adult Contemporary charts for six weeks. After struggling with record label drama in the late 90's, Hawkins would form her own recording company and released albums throughout the 2000's on her own.

7. "Strong Enough" - Sheryl Crow

It's incredible to look at some of the artists on this list and see how many platinum albums they all have between them and then you realize most of those are from their debut albums. Tuesday Night Music Club was Sheryl Crow's official debut album, after her first attempt was rejected by her record label. The name of the album is a reference to the group of musicians who would meet with Sheryl on Tuesdays to work on the album.

8. "God Made Me" - Chantal Kreviazuk

From Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, Chantal Kreviazuk's debut album Under These Rocks & Stones was a critically acclaimed effort carried by the success of several singles like "Surrounded", "Believer" and "God Made Me". Later albums by Kreviazuk would feature songs co-written by her husand Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace and later still she would begin writing songs for other artists.
Avril Lavinge, Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera are a few of the acts she wrote for.

9. "Human Behaviour" - Bjork

One of my favourite videos from the 90's, Iceland's Bjork has always walked her own path and released the kind of music she wanted to.  This song is a holdover from her days in the band The Sugarcubes, she couldn't really fit the lyrics and odd harmonies in with a punk band. So when she released her solo debut...err...Debut it was obvious which track to get out as #1. With some Eastern inspired percussions "Human Behaviour" is one of her easiest songs to recognize.

10. "Super Nova" - Liz Phair

The queen of indie 90's grunge-rock, Liz Phair had quite the cult following without all the Platinum sales of other entries on this list. Other great Liz Phair songs are "Extraordinary", "Jealousy" and "Whip Smart". Recently Phair release an album Funstyle in 2010 and also reviews books.

Check back often!!


Saturday, 7 February 2015

10 Great Songs About The Fans

Really where would an artist or musician be without their fans? They'd be starving, struggling, still playing street corners and coffee shops. It's good to see when a musician appreciates their fans and some even go as far as to write a song or two about them. Here are 10 Great Songs About the Fans

1. "We Are 138" - Misfits

Ok i'm kind of cheating on the first one here. No one really knows what this song is about, except Glenn Danzig who doesn't say it's about anything beyond "violence". When the Misfits were first getting started they had a small gathering of fans whom they called Fiends. The Fiend Club was the name for it officially and the rumour was that around the time "We Are 138" was written there were 138 official members of the Fiend Club. True or not, who knows. I'm not going to say I know for sure, because I would hate for Danzig to come and pummel me.

2. "4 U" - Korn

From the 1999 album Issues. Korn has always had a strong connection with their fans, from naming songs after them specifically or just understanding the power that music can have to get young people through difficult parts of their lives. In much the same way, singer Johnathan Davis has said if it wasn't for the support of many of the band's fans he might not have made it through some tough times on his own. The song "4 U" is dedicated to all Korn fans.

3. "Down" - 311

Man I love 311, but how do you describe them? Hard hitting guitars infused with funk, reggae, hip-hop and punk elements. Every song is different from the last, which is likely why they never got much attention from mainstream media. They'd have no idea where to pigeon toe them into. 311 have always had a large loyal following despite little mainstream help, "Down" is the band thanking the true fans for always being there.

4. "Born For This" - Paramore

Another simple song dedicated to fans of the band who's support helped Paramore release a second album. This song also features a nod to a band that Paramore is a fan of. The lyrics "we want the airwaves back" is from a song by Swedish band Refused called "Liberation Frequency". Maybe Refused will write a song thanking Paramore.

5. "From Me To You" - The Beatles

At the time of it's release "From Me To You" was described by a British newspaper as a "sub-par" Beatles song. Upset by this label John Lennon realized that from then on out he needed to be mindful of the quality of the songs he records and never forgot that paper's comments. "From Me To You" was written as a message to their fans before the band became popular in America.

6. "Pulse Of The Maggots" - Slipknot

Some artists have cute and endearing nicknames for their fans, "Beliebers" comes to mind. "Dead Heads" is another. If you're a dedicated Slipknot fan the band affectionately refers to you as a maggot. This came from the viewpoint from the stage as the band is performing, the constant movement of the crowd looked like a "Pulse of Maggots".

7. "We Love You" - The Rolling Stones

When Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones had their homes raided by Sussex police in 1967 it began a new chapter of their life. One that would not only find the Rolling Stones charged with various drug offences, but also an eye-opening time where the wonder and love of living a free life would come to be questioned as reality by the band members themselves. It was a dark and trying time, but to thank the fans who stuck with them and several other groups who would show their support (namely The Beatles and The Who) The Rolling Stones wrote and recorded 'We Love You".

8. "Fans" - Kings Of Leon

Before the release of 2008's Only By The Night Kings Of Leon had found success with 3 previous albums and while those albums were released in their native US, the biggest support and fanbase they found was in the UK. Their early albums either hit #1 or broke the the top ten in the UK while barely making any waves in North America. The second single off of the 2007 album Because Of The Times is called "Fans" and it is a direct thank you message to the love and support of their followers in the United Kingdom.

9. "If U Think U Know Me" - Orianthi

More people might know who Orianthi is had Michael Jackson's This Is It had gone off as planned. She was personally selected by the King Of Pop to be the lead guitarist for his farewell concert series before his death put a halt on the whole operation. Hailing from Australia, she has several studio albums to her name. 2013's Heaven In This Hell has the song "If U Think U Know Me" which is about her fans and the rush she gets from seeing them at her shows singing the lyrics right back at her.

10. "Blitzkrieg Bop" - The Ramones

The Ramones are one of the most influential punk bands of all time. They earned a quick and gigantic following in the late 70's and 80's around their native New York City. They themselves loved the bugglegum pop sound of the time, namely "Saturday Night" by The Bay City Rollers and wanted a song that was a call to arms to their fans and had a chant that could be sung along to just like "Saturday Night". "Blitzkrieg Bop" was born as was the now legendary punk chorus "Hey Ho Let's Go"

Thanks to all my fans!!

I'm out!


Sunday, 1 February 2015

10 Great Songs With Sports Themed Music Videos

Yes today is the Super Bowl!! One of the year's biggest events in American Television and sports fans in general. The Seatlle Seahawks (almost typed Super Sonics) look to defend their crown against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Even if you're not into the NFL or sports in general it's still a good day to hang with friends and be merry. While you're waiting for the big game to start i've compiled a list of songs of that have sports-themed music videos. Something to get the conversation on the right track before kick off!

1. Gob - "I Hear You Calling"

I understand the premise of this video, but the narrative needs a little work. Gob find themselves cutting across a soccer field in the middle of a full-mooned night. They see a damsel tied up for some reason and then a squad of zombie-soccer players challenge them to a match for the young lady's sweet virgin ass. Hey, they're not giving me much here, gotta make it interesting. Cue typical sophmoric-Gob hijinx and tomfoolery, a few "Thriller" references and badda-boom, badda-bing you got yourself a music video. This was done a few years before the whole "Zombie-Apocalypse" fad had erupted so you gotta give Gob at least that.

2. Hole - "Be A Man"

Track 2 on the one-syllabled band name, sports-themed music video mix tape is "Be A Man" by Hole. Recorded for the Any Given Sunday soundtrack, the video features Courtney Love in all her coked up, super-skank glory having accidentally stumbled on to a football mid-game. Of course her first reaction is not to get to a safe distance to avoid being trampled, no no. Her first instinct is to get naked and make out with as many players as she can. Flag on the play??

3. Dinosaur Jr. - "Feel The Pain"

In one of Spike Jonze's first forays into the music video world, Dinosaur Jr. have decided to turn New York City into their own personal golf course. You can see Spike in one of the cars watching the ball sail over his head.

4. Elvis Presley vs. JXL - "A Little Less Conversation"

The official video for this song features people dancing in various methods in a colourful, boxed in world. Sometime after the song's release Nike decided to create a marketing campaign which feature vingnettes of soccer players battling 3 on 3 in a cage set while this song played in the background. It was so successful that the vignettes were edited together to fit the full length of the song and released a "mini-movie". This is one of the coolest music videos ever and the one I remember most for this song.

5. Green Day - "Nice Guys Finish Last"

The kickoff track to Green Day's 1997 album Nimrod was not the first single released form the CD. Nor was it the second or third, nope "Nice Guys Finish Last" was the 4th (and last) single taken from the album. The video shows the band as a mock football team, though they are performing on a stage. They even have a halftime pep-talk from their "coach". The song was used in the football movie Varsity Blues, so i'm sure that influenced the video in some way.

6. Hootie & The Blowfish - "I Only Wanna Be With You"

Hootie and The Blowfish were huge sports fans. When they heard the studio's idea for the music video for "I Only Wanna Be With You" included the band riding around on camels and acting zany, they rejected it in favour of a sports themed video. Lead singer Darius Rucker was beside himself when he got to run a few running plays with his favourite NFL player Miami Dolphins quarter back Dan Marino.

7. Against Me! - "White People For Peace"

Man, the last three lists i've done have had an Against Me! track. They're fooking good okay? Deal with it. Though there isn't an exact sport on display here, there is maybe a commentary on wars being fought in the world that play out on tv screens like it is a sport. Or some sports nowadays being so physical and brutal that it's only a matter of time before we're cheering on people trying to kill each other.

8. Sugar Ray - "Mean Machine"

 Long before Mark McGrath was your analyst of what the stars are wearing on the red carpet for Extra! or before he was the host of Don't Forget The Lyrics, he was screaming blood as the lead singer of Funk Metal band Sugar Ray down in Newport Beach. Sure Sugar Ray changed their style to incorporate more hip-hop elements and began to lean towards pop sensibilities, but "Mean Machine" was all rage. While, again, the video doesn't show any actual hockey being played, they do perform on a hockey rink and McGrath is skating around and freaking out in hockey pants and skates.

9. Nelly & St. Lunatics - "Batter Up"

Alright, I know I said these were great songs and videos, and while I do enjoy some of Nelly's songs, this one is just one colossal joke. I hope anyway. But it does feature some baseball being played so here ya go.

10. Lit - "My Own Worst Enemy"

Is bowling considered a sport? Well, for the sake of this list, let's say it is! Killer track from Lit a band that made their name in the 90's and one that also came out of California. I love videos like these, it looks like they're having a good time without bullshit posturing and stroking their own ego. Gotta get me some of those bowling shoes too

Enjoy the game everyone!!

Seahawks or Patriots, who ya got?
Comment or tweet at me @jonnyzhivago