Sunday, July 22, 2018
Song:I'll Be There For You
Though it wasn't their biggest chart hit, I'll Be There For You is the most memorable song by The Rembrandts because it was the theme for the hit sitcom Friends. The Rembrandts were successful before that. They were from Los Angeles. Danny Wilde was lead singer of The Quick who released an album on Mercury in 1976. Then he formed Great Buildings with Phil Solem and they released an album on Columbia in 1981. After they split up, Wilde recorded three solo albums for Geffen. Then Wilde and Solem formed The Rembrandts and signed with Atco. In the studio, it was just the two of them. They hired musicians for touring. Their 1990 debut album the Rembrandts spawned the single Just The Way It Is, Baby which reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. There were no hit singles from the 1992 album Untitled so it didn't do as well. The Rembrandts were moved to East West for the 1995 album L.P. While they were recording the album, they were contacted by Kevin Bright who was a big fan. Bright, David Crane and Marta Kauffman were developing the sitcom Friends and they needed an opening theme. The three had previously produced the HBO sitcom Dream On. The result was I'll Be There For You which was very Beatles influenced. The song was less than a minute long and it was not supposed to be released. But DJs looped the song and turned it into a full length song. The Rembrandts were forced to record a full length version. It was tacked on to L.P. and of course the Friends soundtrack was a big success. That is available on CD but so there is also a Rembrandts comp. Take your pick. I'll Be There For You was never released as a single so it didn't chart. It should have been a number one hit. The Rembrandts split up and Solem moved back to Minnesota. Wilde released a solo album in 1998. The Rembrandts reunited for a 2001 album and they have reunited occasionally since then. They announced on their website in 2016 that they are working on a new album. Here's the video for I'll Be There For You by the Rembrandts.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
Song:Live Your Life
Clifford "T.I." Harris Jr. probably had a longer run than most rappers despite spending significant time in jail. He scored two number one hits. The 2008 single Live Your Life was the bigger hit because Rihanna was on it. Harris is probably more active today as an actor. He was born Sept. 25, 1980 in Atlanta. He was raised by his grandparents. Harris began rapping at age eight. His childhood nickname was Tip and he became T.I. so he wouldn't get confused with Q-Tip. Harris sold mixtapes out of his car with rapper Sean "Big Kuntry King" Merrett and they were discovered by Kawan "KP" Prather and signed to Arista Records. Prather had worked with other Atlanta rappers. Harris released his debut CD I'm Serious in 2001. Arista dropped him when the album didn't sell. Harris started his own label Grand Hustle with Atlantic distribution. His subsequent albums did very well and Bring 'Em Out and What You Know were top ten hits. But the 2008 album Paper Trail was his most successful. Harris was a drug dealer as a teen. But then he was arrested in 2007 on a weapons charge. So he was under house arrest while recording Paper Trail. Whatever You Like was his first number one single. This was followed by Live Your Life. Harris wrote the song with Makeba Riddick and Dan Balan with Rihanna in mind. Fortunately, she agreed to do it and her participation was probably the main reason the song was a number one hit. Paper Trail was certified 2XPlatinum and it is Harris' most successful album to date. He hasn't been as successful since then. Two stretches in prison will do that. Harris still records. He has a new album The Dime Trap coming soon. And he has been acting since starring in the 2006 film ATL. He currently appears in the new film Ant-Man and the Wasp. I guess his best known production was the 2009 MTV reality show T.I.'s Road To Redemption. His most successful film to date was the 2010 film Takers. So like many rappers, films may be a bigger part of Harris' future than rap. Here's the video for Live Your Life by T.I. featuring Rihanna.
Friday, July 20, 2018
Song:The Boy Is Mine
Album:Never Say Never
The Boy Is Mine topped the charts in 1998. Brandy Norwood and Monica Brown were successful individually. But this duet was the bigger than any of either's solo singles. Brandy was also a successful actress especially on the sitcom Moesha. She was born Feb. 11, 1979 the daughter of gospel singer Willie Norwood. Her brother is singer/actor Ray J. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1983. Brandy signed with Atlantic Records at age 14. She also appeared in the ABC sitcom Thea. It only lasted one season. But it led to the UPN sitcom Moesha which ran from 1996-2001. So she's trying to balance that with recording her 1994 album Brandy. That album was produced by 21 year old Keith Crouch and the R&B group Somethin' For The People who were unknown at the time. Crouch is the nephew of legendary gospel artist Andrae Crouch. I Wanna Be Down and Baby were both top ten hits. The album was certified 4XPlatinum. The single Sittin' Up In My Room from the 1996 film Waiting To Exhale reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. And Brandy starred in the 1997 TV production of the musical Cinderella with her idol Whitney Houston. She was hot at the time. She needed to record new music but she had what she called "sophomore album jitters". She kept delaying going to the recording studio. And then she didn't like the songs that were given to her. Atlantic hired David Foster as a consultant and he hired Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. Jerkins had worked with Mary J. Blige among others. But he hadn't had a big hit yet as a producer. It was a big risk but Jerkins clicked with Brandy and the 1998 album Never Say Never was a huge success. Brandy came up with The Boy Is Mine while watching The Jerry Springer Show. They were inspired by The Girl Is Mine by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney to turn the song into a duet. Brandy didn't know Monica but Arista owner Clive Davis agreed to loan her out. Apparently the two didn't get along in the studio. So Jerkins brought in TLC producer Dallas Austin to referee. He got a full production credit so he was a big factor in the song's success. And The Boy Is Mine topped the charts. Never Say Never was certified 5XPlatinum. The Boy Is Mine appeared on Brandy's album Never Say Never and Monica's album The Boy Is Mine. It does not appear on Monica's comp CD and Atlantic's Brandy comp is too expensive. Never Say Never is available as a budget CD. Brandy's single Have You Ever also topped the charts. Her music hasn't been as successful since then. After two more albums, Brandy left Atlantic in 2004. She has recorded for Epic and RCA. She is still acting and Brandy will be a regular on the Fox show Star in the upcoming season. She has also done a lot of reality TV. I doubt she can revive her music career to where it was in 1998. Here's the video for The Boy Is Mine by Brandy featuring Monica.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Here's the match video of Kairi Sane vs Nikki Cross vs Candice LeRae from this week's episode of NXT. This was announced last week as a four way with Bianca Belair but she was on her honeymoon with her new husband Montez Ford of Street Profits. The winner of this match gets a shot at Shayna Baszler's NXT Women's Championship at NXT Takeover Brooklyn. Shayna is on commentary. I'm not a big fan of three way matches as they can lack flow and be very clunky. And we have three babyfaces in this match. But this match is well laid out and well executed. Candice isn't as good as Kairi or Nikki but all three have unique personalities and they give strong performances. One of the three wrestlers has to disappear near the start of the match so the other two can build some flow. So Nikki runs Kairi into the post and Nikki and Candice have their own match within a match. When Kairi returns, she blends into the match perfectly. Of course it goes to the floor. Nikki drops Candice on the ramp and Kairi delivers her flying forearm from the top rope. They also do a Tower Of Doom spot. Nikki's insanity leads to the end of the match. She delivers her spinning neckbreaker to Candice from the ring apron to the floor. Then she goes back in the ring and hits three belly to back suplexes on Kairi. She is about to finish Kairi with the spinning neckbreaker when she loses concentration and places Kairi on the top rope to deliver it there. Candice intervenes and after a couple of pin attempts, Kairi hits her Insane Elbow on both of them seemingly out of nowhere for the win. The camera work was perfect because it made us forget that Kairi was sitting on the top turnbuckle. So not only did the wrestlers execute well, so did the TV crew. So now Kairi gets a title shot. I expect her to win because Shayna and Nikki should be headed to the main roster soon. For one thing, there is new blood like Io Shirai and others coming in. They gotta make room for them. Anyway, this is a really good match. Check it out and enjoy it.
Album:South Pacific: The New Broadway Cast Recording
Loretta Ables Sayre emerged from obscurity to get a Tony nomination for her performance as Bloody Mary in the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific. And as has been the fate of most actresses who have played Bloody Mary, she returned to obscurity afterwards. She was born Apr. 1, 1958 in Stockton, CA. After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother and her new husband to Hawaii. He was stationed there in the US Navy. Inspired by her mom's Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan recordings, Loretta decided to become a singer. After graduating high school, she started working the Honolulu hotel circuit and eventually became a regular singing pop and jazz standards in hotels in Honolulu and Wakiki. She did that for twenty years. When the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific was being cast, the producers couldn't seem to find a Bloody Mary in New York. They held auditions in Hawaii and Loretta was cast. Other stars included Paulo Szot, Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison. The show did very well and Loretta was nominated for a Tony. Since then Loretta returned to Hawaii and has appeared in TV shows that film there like Hawaii Five O. And of course she has returned to singing the hotel circuit. I don't think we'll see her on Broadway again. She obviously prefers living in Hawaii. Here's Loretta Ables Sayre performing Bali Ha'i on the 2008 Tony Awards Preview show.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Here's the match video of Maycee Barber vs Jamie Colleen from last night's Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS). The fighters on this show are not only fighting but competing with each other for UFC contracts. Normally quick finishes get the contracts. Maycee is 20 years old from Fort Collins, CO. She is 4-0 with three finishes. Jamie is 32 years old from Philadelphia. She has a 4-1 record. She won her fight on last year's DWTNCS but she didn't get the contract. She says she suffered a knee injury during that fight which is why she is getting a second chance. Like a lot of the fights on this year's DWTNCS, this seems to be a deliberate mismatch designed to showcase Maycee. And though she doesn't get that quick finish, Maycee is impressive considering Jamie didn't seem to want to fight her. Jamie tries for a keep away strategy that is supposed to frustrate Maycee. But Maycee shows a lot of poise and maturity for a kid. In round one, she scores a lot in the clinch. Between rounds, Jamie's corner tells her she needs to get a lot closer to get anywhere. But it's clear that Maycee is much quicker than Jamie. In round two, Maycee scores with a variety of kicks with a late takedown followed by some elbows. In round three, Maycee gets the takedown a lot sooner and the fight is stopped after an elbow breaks Jamie's nose. And Maycee got that UFC contract. she looked very good and we'll see how she looks down the road. Watch the fight and I think you will be impressed with Maycee Barber. Enjoy the video!
Album:Dance For Life
Taana Gardner scored a couple of dance hits from 1979-81. Heartbeat was a top ten R&B hit in 1981 and it's one of those songs that is frequently sampled by hip hop guys. It was released by the popular dance music label West End Records. Taana was born Sept. 3, 1960 in Newark, NJ. She was taught to sing by her opera singer grandmother. As a teen, she got into the New York theater scene. She wrote a couple of plays that were performed. She got involved with West End Records by accident. Producer Kenton Nix was recording Work That Body. But the singer who was supposed to record the vocal got sick. So he needed a singer. Nix's brother worked for Taana's father. He invited her to the studio. She was spotted by members of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. They were working on a side project Aural Exciters and they needed a singer. Taana was lead vocal on the 1979 Aural Exciters single Spooks In Space. It did well enough to get Taana a longer look at West End. She recorded a few more songs with Nix. Heartbeat was the biggest hit. It reached #10 on the R&B Singles chart. Heartbeat has been frequently sampled by hip hop guys, most notably on the 1995 #1 hit Here Comes The Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze. It has been sampled a lot. You can get Heartbeat on this various artists budget comp. Taana could have been a big star. But she didn't want that. She does make occasional guest vocal appearances. But mostly she raised her family and was happy to be a backup singer in the studio. Kenton Nix went on to produce Gwen MacRae's 80s Atlantic recordings. Heartbeat is sampled so much he makes a good living from royalty cheques. Here's a video for Heartbeat by Taana Gardner.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Song:(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)
Album:Solid Gold Hits
(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) was the only top ten pop hit for the Beastie Boys in 1987. They had a pretty good run as album artists. I guess the controversy at the time is they were white boys from the suburbs. The other thing is they started as a punk group and seemingly switched to rap for commercial reasons. In 1981 they were called The Young Aborigines. Michael "Mike D" Diamond was the lead singer. John Berry was the guitarist and he brought with him bassist Adam "MCA" Yauch. Kate Schellenbach was the drummer. The Young Aborigines released a couple of singles. Berry left and was replaced by Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. He is the son of playwright Israel Horovitz. That's when they switched to hip hop and changed their name to Beastie Boys. Schellenbach left and would go on to be drummer for Luscious Jackson. The group is getting a local rep in New York for performing and having the audience film the performances. They were still a punk band at this stage. But after Shellenbach left in 1984, they went completely hip hop complete with nicknames. They signed with fledgling label Def Jam owned by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. The Beastie Boys went on tour. A song was on the Krush Groove soundtrack. Licensed To Ill was released in 1986. Fight For Your Right reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first rap album to top the Billboard Hot 200 and it was the biggest selling rap album of the 80s. Beastie Boys left Def Jam for Capitol and started their own label Grand Royal. The album Paul's Boutique was released in 1989. Though it was considered to be a better album, it didn't do nearly as well as Licensed To Ill which turned out to be their most successful album. This budget comp is a good intro to their music. Beastie Boys continued to release albums until a 2000 tour was cancelled when Diamond was seriously injured in a bicycle accident. They returned in 2004 and continued until Yauch died of cancer on May 4, 2012 at age 47. Diamond and Horovitz said they would not record as Beastie Boys out of respect for Yauch. They still dabble in music but they aren't very active. They were certainly a big deal in 1986. Here's the video for (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) by Beastie Boys.
Monday, July 16, 2018
Here's the match video of Carmella vs Asuka from last night's WWE Extreme Rules. This has James Ellsworth suspended above the ring in a shark cage. This is more of an angle than a match with enough logic holes that a truck could drive through them. Logic hole number one is the cage is too low. Logic hole number two is obviously Ellsworth needed to be searched. Never let it be said that Vince McMahon has ever let logic get in the way of an angle to amuse himself. And he thinks Ellsworth is funny. No one else does but he makes the decision. So the match starts and Ellsworth hands Carmella a chain which she drops and the ref gets rid of it. Then he hands her the hair spray and Carmella can't do that properly. Now Asuka is beating Carmella up. She gets her in the Asuka Lock but Carmella gets to the ropes and slides outside the ring. While Asuka beats Carmella on the floor, Ellsworth picks the lock (!) and opens the door. Of course he's so inept that his foot gets caught in the cage. He's hanging upside down. Asuka sees this and comes back into the ring to pound on him. Corey Graves said he resembled a heavy bag. And he's about as useful. They lowered the cage so she could do this. While she's doing this, I'm yelling at her "Oh Asuka! Don't forget about Carmella." This is Vince McMahon making a babyface look stupid for his own amusement. Carmella sneaks up on Asuka and pushes her face first into the cage and keeps the title. Afterwards, Asuka destroys Ellsworth and based on the fan reaction, that's what they wanted to see. That got the biggest crowd reaction. Carmella winning just makes them shake their heads. She's held the title since April and fans are already tired of her. They aren't booing her. They are yelling "You can't wrestle." She knows that. Is that the reaction Vince wants? Is Carmella supposed to be the epitome of the Women's Revolution? The booking of both women's divisions has been so bad lately, it makes me think that it's time for HHH to intervene like he did for 205 Live. I don't know how this angle continues. It should have ended already. But remember Charlotte is returning for SummerSlam. Enjoy the video!
Song:Black Is The Night
Vadim Beare was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia but he grew up in England and now he is now known as DJ Vadim. He had success in the 90s and then disappeared and reemerged with the 2007 album The Soundcatcher and the popular single Black Is The Night. In the mid-90s Beare released music on his own label. Then he released a series of U.S.S.R. albums on Ninja Tune. He released five albums from 1998-2002. These albums were very popular on the British electronica scene. But I guess Beare's deal with Ninja Tune ran dry. And he produced a couple of CDs for the hip hop group One Self. Beare returned in 2007 with the album The Soundcatcher on the label BBE, which is owned by a couple of DJs. Beare is not a musician. The main musician on the Soundcatcher is veteran session keyboard player John Ellis. He has been around since the 80s working with Peter Gabriel among others. He has worked with Beare since 2002. Beare uses several guest vocalists on the album. The singer on Black Is The Night is Kathrin deBoer of the group Belleruche. Belleruche split up in 2013 and Kathrin has been singing with various DJs. Most of the songs on The Soundcatcher have a guest vocalist or rapper. The Songcatcher is probably Beare's most popular album to date. Like many DJs, Beare likes to experiment with different kinds of music. He seems to be into reggae beats right now like on his 2016 CD Dubcatcher 2. He produced an album for the singer on that album Katrina Blackstone. And he does occasional live shows. He is in Germany next week. Here's the video for Black Is The Night by DJ Vadim featuring Kathrin deBoer.