iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2017-01-18 12:48 am
Entry tags:

a moment of melancholy

So I think it's perfectly obvious at this point that Twelfth Night didn't happen this year.

What I'll probably do -- hopefully before the month is completely over -- is maybe do a quick rundown of musical things I ran across last year.

This ... is not that.

This is purely something I ran across that I'd totally forgotten had ever existed. As I recall, it was done at a point in their careers where they were both struggling to become musically relevant again. It was recorded as a new single for her greatest hits double album in 2000. Sank like a stone here, and in most of the world. (Except, oddly, Poland.)

If you'd told me back in 2000, when this was recorded, that less than 20 years later, they'd both be dead ... I'm not sure how surprised I'd have been.

iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2016-07-18 01:08 pm
Entry tags:

the musical answers to the question....

..."So what DID you do during that long downtime between the end of RuPaul's Drag Race and the actual coronation of the winner, Bob The Drag Queen?"

(The last one in the sequence below is ... um ... it's ... well. Yes. Very. THAT. It may not be possible to humanly describe the sheer level of WTF? going on in that video. Apart from that, it's possible that particular song was actually recorded after the finale, given lyrics.)

I will just note that, if I do it again this/next year, the first one will probably figure, in a different form, in a Twelve Nights entry. It's also rather ... unexpectedly pointed. Also NSFW for lyric. Just the one. Repeated a lot.

iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2016-01-12 11:36 pm
Entry tags:

twelve nights leftoverture

Or, stuff that got strongly considered -- and which met the rules, such as they were -- but got replaced by other stuff for various reasons. Some will, I suspect, be mildly surprising.

Well, one can hope, anyway.

Ms. E. is very hit-or-miss with me, especially when only rapping. This was a solid hit. (Purely a side note: my very favorite Missy Elliott song. Partly because I'd never heard her mostly sing a song before, and didn't realize she could sing that well. Also, I love the attitude.)

Er ... you may need a lyrics video version. I know there were a couple places where I was rather startled to realize I was hearing almost the exact opposite of what was being sung.

It's just fun, you know? And how often do you hear an obvious quickstep these days?

Judging from what they say underneath the video, I think they thought Disney would force them to take it down, but it's still there.

And that's that!
iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2016-01-05 11:24 pm
Entry tags:

twelfth night

More after the song.

Honestly, if this doesn't get picked up as some sort of new civil rights anthem, someone isn't paying attention. Sadly, given the modern world, this is entirely likely.

It's also sadly true that a new civil rights anthem would be entirely appropriate. But that is outside the scope of this entry.

I picked this version over the one that's actually on her album (also strongly recommended) because the album one feels like it goes halfway to anthem state, and then it pulls back. The first half isn't much different from this version, but then the background singers come in. And ... well, that needs to be a gigantic gospel choir. The sort of thing that would properly be billed as "Andra Day (featuring the Somewhere Tabernacle Gospel Choir)". It needs to soar, and it doesn't, quite. To be fair, the song itself may simply just not be structured so that it will work that way, but it feels like it should. On the other hand, the acoustic version, I think, manages to be both somewhat intimate, and to soar at least a little.

She also has a bunch of covers from earlier in her career -- not on her album, but on her Youtube channel -- which are generally very good, and even when they aren't as good, are at least very interesting. There is one that isn't on her channel, probably for rights management issues more than anything else ... but it's also one of the more spectacular creative misfires I've ever heard.

I'm not going to link to her version of "Mississippi Goddam" from the Nina Simone tribute album, because ... it's kind of awful. And yet, I kind of get how you could wind up there. After all, what's the point of doing a cover of a signature Nina Simone song on a tribute album unless you're going to either do it her way -- and risk sounding like a pale imitation -- or do it some way that sounds very different? The problem is, I'm not sure that song works unless you do it Nina's way. More than anything, that song is furiously angry. And Andra's version sounds like ... like someone who had just smoked a really impressive amount of pot was watching the news, and hearing about the terrible events that inspired it, and wanted to be angry, but was just too damn mellowed out to get there.

* * * * *

And that's all twelve nights. It was an interesting thing to try. Not sure I'll do it again next year; we'll see. Hope you enjoyed some of the sounds along the way.
iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2016-01-04 09:16 pm
Entry tags:

eleventh night

So tonight's tunes are a sequence off a concept album -- or, more properly, the concept section of the album -- that should be listened to in order. So I'ma try to playlist this sucker.

Oddly enough, there are two entirely independent "official" Alice Francis channels. One from herself, one from her US distributor (Universal Music Group, the name of which seems to be getting frighteningly accurate), plus videos from her European label (she's German, I think). Thanks to this triplication of effort, the entire first part of her album -- the actual concept part -- is available. More discursion after the wipe ... er, playlist. (If you watch nothing else in this list, I highly recommend the animated "Shoot him down". If you want to skip items, you need to use the hamburger menu in the upper left corner of the video; for some reason, they've gotten rid of the actual list for embeds.)

So. Following the concept as it's sequenced on the album itself: she meets someone in "St. James Ballroom", where she is the headline act. Against her better judgement, she lets herself be seduced into an affair -- all that still in the first actual song, mind.

He immediately starts cheating on her. She takes violent exception in "Don't Shoot me", which gets cut off a few seconds early in this version for some reason. (She shoots him.)

THEN she goes back to the ballroom (or possibly an offroad roadhouse, from the look of it) and sings, "Shoot him down", a cheerful ditty about all the ways she could cheerfully kill him for what he's done. Also cheerfully ignoring the fact that she's already killed him.

And then, of course, "The Funeral", followed by what I think is supposed to very very technically be a surprisingly peppy lament, "Gangsterlove". (Note: this contains a repeat of "The Funeral" which isn't on the album, but I wanted to make sure that the sequence was clear.) The "Gangsterlove" video also implies that she murdered him with kinky sex and cake -- sploshing, in the parlance, so I'm told. Though what you'd do with handcuffs and that headboard, I'm sure I don't know. In any event, we know that she shot him. 'Twas death by bullet, not death by frosting.

I think "Sista" is part of the concept section, although I'm not sure. If it is, it's her sister singing about her, worried because, at this point in the concept, she's rather going downhill. As one might after murdering someone, getting away with it because nobody thinks to suspect his longsuffering fiancee, and maybe feeling guilty about getting away with it.

"Kiss My Ass", as far as I can tell, sits outside the concept part of the album. At least, a cheerful ode to butt-kissing (meant QUITE literally, thank you very much!) would not seem to fit very well. But it seems a nicely perky note to end on for the night.
iainpj: (bald angel)
2016-01-03 10:13 pm
Entry tags:

tenth night: transports of delight

On this night, I break the rules completely.

I had not planned to include this. I didn't see it on original broadcast, and it's not as though it could comply with even one of the alleged rules for Twelve Nights. However, I'd heard so much about it -- primarily that it had made both Carole King, one of this year's honorees, and the president cry -- that I wondered. And then Youtube itself served the performance up to me in its "We don't understand what you want but here try THIS!" recommendations.

And, well ... put it this way. Carole King and the president did, indeed, cry. What hasn't been said is that Carole King is also in what could only be described as "transports of delight", archaic and strange as that expression may sound. And who wouldn't be, at hearing Aretha Franklin perform what could reasonably be called her signature song, and maybe Carole King's signature song as a writer? And, for all that she only did one song, Aretha pretty much tore the Ford Theater DOWN. People, she took off her fur coat, and she doesn't do that for everyone. She didn't even do that for the president at the "Live in the White House" event that was held in her honor. So, really, what else could I do?

Enjoy it fast; I'm sure CBS is hauling out cease-and-desist letters by the truckload for this one.

Items that are more rules compliant may return tomorrow night.
iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2016-01-02 11:43 pm
Entry tags:

ninth night

Getting in just under the wire, local-time. And, just for the hell of it, going back to The Rules, revision 1 version. (Bought this year, as many as I feel like.)

This, because I love Jill Scott, and she releases music far too seldom. And I never know when she's touring or coming to town until after she's been.

This, because somehow -- and I'm not sure how -- I'd never bought anything by Sister Rosetta Tharpe before this year. This, despite buying an album of music dedicated to her. Which is weird. Not what I'd planned to link, but between when I set this out and today, Sister Rosetta appears to have acquired an Officially Sanctioned By UMG Youtube Channel, which means that they're playing whack-a-mole with everything else now, and "Woman" seems to have disappeared. So enjoy the first one while you can; the second one should be around a bit longer, since it's on the aforementioned channel. I did think you ought to actually see her in performance, while you can.

If you want to know more about her: the full episode of American Masters - Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock and Roll is currently streaming online at PBS.
iainpj: (bald angel)
2016-01-01 10:11 pm
Entry tags:

eighth night

Eh. Felt like a change after all these years. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how thoroughly grandfathered my old layout was; all of the tools for editing the layout that I was used to having have now disappeared. Ah, well.

For tonight, three versions of the same song. From best to most unexpected.

This one, you should only listen to, because every part of it is a visual crime. Moreover, it makes no sense. Why would the Wicked Witch, of whatever direction, have a relentlessly pink sweatshop? (Literally.) Moreover, why would she dress as though she were unfortunately caught at the intersection of an explosion of a costume jewelry factory, a bubblegum factory, and a makeup factory? It's puzzling in a way, because Mabel King and Ted Ross (The Lion) were the only people brought over to the film from the original Broadway production, and that was not remotely what her Broadway costume and makeup were. (You can see them in this linked image; it's black and white, but the original costume was also black and white, so you're not losing a lot.)

My own guess is that the production aspects were ... shall we say, tuned so that even though Mabel King could blow Miss Ross off the screen vocally without half trying, she couldn't do it visually, except in an unfortunately comical way.

Sadly, you can't purchase this as a single; it's album-only on all major sites.

The most recent version, from NBC's "The Wiz LIVE!" They corrected the costume issues (thank goodness). The one thing I could wish is that they'd been able to get a soundstage with the depth/scope of the one in the film, because without the room to get away from everything going on around her, Mary J. Blige's limitations as a dancer are painfully obvious. NBC is playing whack-a-mole with this one already -- they had it on their own channel for about a week, and now it's gone -- so heaven knows how long it will last. Should it depart soon (and it will), here's a sanctioned link to the audio. (The production is scheduled to transfer to Broadway soon -- this month, I think -- which may explain the particular Vevo channel.)

The most unexpected version: apparently when the movie was being made, Miss Ross decided to make her own version of the soundtrack, in which she recorded each and every song herself, no matter how wildly inappropriate. Oddly enough, it's a pretty good album; the parts that have the most difficulties are the ones where it's clear that the number is supposed to be a choral number, and it's just ... her. Any road, if all had gone as planned, it probably would have been a modest hit. However, all did not go as planned. The movie of The Wiz flopped hard. Per Wikipedia, on a production budget of $24 million, the film earned back only $13.6 million on initial release. (To date, according to boxofficemojo.com, it's still only earned $21.3 million, so it's still in the red.) I gather that the soundtrack flopped along with the film, and nobody wanted to release yet another thing associated with the film, only to have it crash and burn, so the album got buried for nearly 40 years. Then, when NBC decided to do "The Wiz LIVE!" it was brought out of mothballs, remastered and released.

In any event, the surprising thing is how much grit Miss Ross brings to this song. You forget that she can do a lot with her voice when she gets the chance.

Honestly, I picked this to start things off because I kind of want this to be the way the year goes. No bad news, for me or for anyone I know. That's not too much to ask, I hope.
iainpj: (bald angel)
2015-12-31 09:45 pm
Entry tags:

seventh night, or year's end

And, because it's the last night of the year, no rules apply. (Not that they were being well observed anyway.)

So, basically, this is just how I feel about the year overall, not anything about something specific.

First, we begin with what I would like to say to the year, if it were possible to say anything to a year. Only the first part really applies, but if I could convince the Old Year to personify itself and stand dumbfounded on a corner, I might see if I could do a bit of free lyric adaptation.)

Oddly enough, this is the only version of the song that's done with any pace; all of the Broadway versions are much slower -- maybe because they all had notably older leads. (Babs may have been too young by 40 years when she did this, but as has been noted elsewhere, seldom has the role been so well sung.) I wish the movie scene were online, but I suppose having an officially sanctioned Youtube recording will have to suffice.

And, sadly, the leitmotif remains as it has been for some time. I do wish I could go more than a couple years without this returning to its unfortunately hallowed position -- and have it not sign on for multi-year runs ... but then, there are worse things that one could say. As the person who does this particular version might well say, were she in a position to do so. (In other words, changing it up a tiny bit for this year. As are the lyrics; apparently this is one of the songs that Sondheim allows to be updated because it depends on the references being dated but not THAT dated. Either that, or he allowed them to be changed for this particular concert and this particular person, because it would be curmudgeonly to do otherwise, and she might well have done so anyway.)

There's a version with better audio on there, but you know ... fuck it. That curtain call was necessary.
iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2015-12-30 09:20 pm
Entry tags:

sixth night

A straight-up pop night, tonight.

First, something maybe the tiniest bit overblown. Not that I'm a big radio listener these days, but I suspect this one -- if they even tried -- had a horrible time finding traction. But, hey, I'm a sucker for herald trumpets.

And closing with something entirely unrelated, small and intimate.

iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2015-12-29 10:37 pm
Entry tags:

fifth night

So this year, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] columbina, I got seriously into the electroswing. There'll be a bit more later, but for now, try a couple groups I stumbled across.

First up, American swing/jazz by a German band. As one does. (I'm not entirely sure why this one falls into the "electro" side of things, but whatever.)

This one, I entirely get the whole "electro" part. Also, mostly, it's just fun! The video has been put together from, I think, one older Negro cinema film -- I wish I knew which one. (I thought about linking their "Bad Boy Good Man" video, which is also fun, and has been put together from different, somewhat more recognizable, films, and contains a few snippets of the Nicholas Brothers' spectacular dancing. However, this one also contains 100% less of Fred Astaire in blackface, and this is just as much fun, so. Another European band, as well; I think an American group would probably not have used the Astaire footage.)

And, to close out, old-school swing indeed. Bet you didn't know this song was about 70 years old, did you? According to the note under the video: "Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra featuring Ella Johnson, 1946. Ella Johnson (1919-2004) was the first to record this future standard, composed in 1945 by her brother Buddy."

iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2015-12-28 11:45 pm
Entry tags:

fourth night

Mostly just because I like Estelle, I like Janelle Monae, and I love this song. (Technically, falls outside the limits -- although it had been out for quite some time before I heard it -- but still. Them's the breaks.) You can safely entirely ignore the video for this one.

Also, contrary to my original plan, it looks like most of the days will have two songs and not one. Don't ask me why.

This one -- which will probably be available only until Cartoon Network and Warner play whack-a-mole with it again -- I genuinely didn't know anything about until this year. I didn't realize that Estelle provides the speaking and singing voice for Garnet. And honestly -- explosions and starships crashing aside -- I really do love this song. And it completely qualifies, so bonus! (Someone has made an hour-long remix of this. I mean, I love the original without qualification, but good LORD! Even I have limits!)

iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2015-12-27 09:25 pm
Entry tags:

third night

I will admit to an unexpected fondness for Gin Wigmore. I suspect a chunk of the country got kind of jaded by her "Don't Stop" which got used for a Target commercial, and the part of the country that didn't get too much of that probably got quite enough of the "Man like that" Heineken/Skyfall commercial.

All that said, I still like her quite a lot.

There are two different videos of the same song linked below. In this case, the video actually matters. Note the phrasing: they are exactly the same recording, but not remotely the same video. For reasons which utterly escape me, they decided to tell a more or less continuous story with the same song but different videos. It works, kind of, but it is a bit confusing. Without the context of the first, the second reads even more strange than it is.

Written in the Water: Live However

Written in the Water: Die Regardless

And, just for the hell of it, something more fun:
iainpj: man with headphones (howie with headphones)
2015-12-26 08:18 pm
Entry tags:

second night

One of the things I picked up through the Alice in Nappyland weblog (along with the previously linked Yemi Alade and a type of soap that is in fact very good on the skin but which is a tad too perfumed for my tastes).

By the by, there's a link that pops up to a free download of Iyeoka's song in the video. Underground Sun is her label, so it's perfectly legal. Completely unavailable -- the link doesn't work -- but legal.

iainpj: (bald angel)
2015-12-25 06:21 pm
Entry tags:

first night

So, all the Kool Kidz were doing Musical Advent over on Twitter, and I decided to do something a bit different. (Not least because I Tweet not.) I decided to do something for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

For reasons that make logical sense, but have nothing to do with any liturgical calendar that I know of, most people seem to think that the Twelve Days of Christmas refers to the twelve days before Christmas.


It's the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany, January 6. Epiphany commemorates either the visit of the wise men to the Christ child some time after his birth, or the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river. (Depending on whether your flavor of Christianity is Western, or is Eastern Orthodox of some sort.) The night before Epiphany is Twelfth Night, when this experiment may conclude.

Hey, it may conclude earlier. I'm not best at daily posting these days.

The only rule, such as it is, is that the majority of items will come from albums purchased this year. Generally, only one song per night. There will be one or two exceptions, as will be noted. Also, just because I bought it this year doesn't mean it was released this year; some will be from last year or even well before that. (By the by, you have no idea how surprised I am that I actually have 12 albums purchased this year. It's mostly E-Music's fault, I think.)

Oh, and in general, it's the music that matters; you need only pay attention to the videos if you want. Exceptions will be noted, again.

So, let us begin on a comparatively cheery note. And, of course, with a small exception: two videos, and the videos herein are very loosely linked -- and the first may be a bit tricky if you don't watch, since there are some interpolations into the song.

The first was Yemi Alade's big pan-African hit ... and starts with a really odd variant on "Cheaters". As far as I can tell, nothing seems to have gone as big after. The album, "King of Queens" (which is, I'm pretty sure, is a reference to Hatshepsut and not to any US sitcoms or burroughs) is well worth the price overall. The second is, videographically speaking, technically a direct follow from the first, but that gets discarded in about five seconds.

And the nominal sequel, which brings to mind the question, "Didn't your mother tell you not to sing in traffic?" (You'll know what that means when you get there, if you watch.) I am ... mildly puzzled at how Selebobo acts during his chunk of the video. Prime creeper, although she just dismisses him as a nuisance, and that's the end of that.

An odd thing that I've heard in a few different Nigerian artists: almost every song stars with them singing/telling you who is singing the song you're hearing, all of the important people. Which happens here sometimes, to be sure ... but almost every song on her album does that. And most of those also call out the recording company, which NEVER happens here. (Though I think Prince, during his royal dingbattitude phase, and George Michael would have said some ... INteresting things about their record companies during certain times.)