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What is a Tyketto?

What’s a Tyketto? Well, it’s not an entree from Taco Bell. I would be surprised if anyone knew what Tyketto was if it came up in a conversation. Tyketto is a Rock band formed in the late eighties with their first album Don’t Come Easy being released in 1991. My first exposure to Tyketto was in 1991 at a concert in the Redwood Amphitheater inside the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, California. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I attended a number of concerts at Great America because with a season pass to the park, tickets to the concerts were super cheap, $10 to $12 if I remember correctly. The headliner for the show was Winger, yes Winger. Nelson was also on the bill and Tyketto was the opening act.

I’ve always been a fan of all different types of music but in 1991, when I was a senior in High School, a few of my favorite bands were Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and Anthrax. Admitting that I went to a concert that featured both Nelson and Winger was a bit embarrassing. I just told my friends that my girlfriend was the one that wanted to go and she drug me along.

Stewart Stevenson

The concert was, in a word, awesome! I’ve never really been a big fan of Nelson but they were actually quite tolerable. In the early 1990s Winger was a band for wussies, a stereotype that was often reinforced in MTV’s animated series Beavis & Butt-head. The band was looked at as more of a Pop band than a true Hard Rock band. I can tell you that my opinion of Winger changed after seeing them in concert. Winger rocked and they rocked hard. If you have any doubt that Winger is a true hard rock band check out their 1993 album Pull.

The biggest surprise at this concert however, was the opening act. When Tyketto, a band I’d never heard of, took the stage, I wasn’t expecting much. This amusement park amphitheater certainly wasn’t one of the biggest venues in the San Fransisco Bay Area. While it’s been too long for me to remember all the details, I know Tyketto played their hearts out. Danny Vaughn, Tyketto’s lead singer and frontman had a great stage presence and knew how to work the crowd. Tyketto played a number of tracks from their debut album, Don’t Come Easy.

Don't Come Easy

While I’ll admit that tracks like “Lay Your Body Down” and “Strip Me Down” are not the most intelligent tracks from a lyrical perspective, Tyketto’s debut album is still a great collection of hard rock music. Here’s the YouTube video for their first single, “Forever Young.” Unfortunately the video stutters throughout but the audio is fine and that’s what really matters.

 

 

For a hard rock band, releasing your debut album in 1991 couldn’t have been worse timing. Another notable album released in 1991, Nirvana’s – Nevermind was their first release on a mainstream label. Little did we know at the time that the first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would have such an impact and would usher in the era of Grunge.

Fast forward to toady… I haven’t really kept up with Tyketto over the years but tracks from Don’t Come Easy often find their way onto my iPhone. Perhaps it’s nostalgia that keeps me listing to what I guess would now be considered “Classic” Hard Rock and Hair Metal. Whatever it is, I still enjoy hearing those classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal guitar riffs and chord progressions.

About a week ago, I was watching the music video for “Forever Young” and I was thinking to myself I should write Eddie Trunk asking him to do a Whatever happened to… Tyketto on “That Metal Show.” I’ve thought about the band many times over the years and have googled them from time to time. After watching the video I decided to jump over to Google and see what I could find. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered that the original members of the band had reunited and recorded a new album, Dig in Deep back in April of this year (2012).

Dig in Deep

I found the first track “Faithless” posted on YouTube and gave it a listen. About 15 seconds into the 30 second intro and I was already sold. When Vaughn began singing, I realized how great he still sounds. 21 years after my first experience with the band and in some ways listing to that track made it feel like that concert at Great America was only yesterday. I fired up iTunes and previewed a few more tracks before purchasing the album.

 

 

If you’re familiar with the band, you’ll find Dig in Deep is not a sequel to Don’t Come Easy. Nonetheless, it’s a great new album for long-time Tyketto devotees and newcomers alike. The spirit of the 1990s Tyketto remains but the band has certainly matured over past two decades. This maturity is reflected in both the music and lyrics. For example take the chorus of the second track “Love to Love”

Do all you can for another
Reach out your hand for a brother
One love to love and no other
All in time
Fall in line
Leave it all behind

A bit of a departure from the chorus of the 1991 track “Strip Me Down”

Move a little to the left
Move a little to the right
And strip me down
Let your fingers do the walking
Strip me down, down, down, down, down

So if you’re old enough to fondly remember pre-Grunge Hard Rock, give Dig in Deep a listen. Tyketto is the band you never heard of but just might like.

RIP MCA

Bestie Boys - Licensed to Ill

Rest in peace, Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch. You were taken far too soon. For just about as long as I’ve been listening to music the Beastie Boys have been a part of my life. When Licensed to Ill was released in 1986 I was in the 8th grade. I remember discovering the Beastie Boys from someone at school. He was singing “Girls” in my English class and I had to ask him what he was singing. From there it was literally almost overnight that everyone in school was turned on to the Beastie Boys. I picked up the cassette tape and began listening to it immediately.

Portable Casette Recorder

In those days, I’ll I had to playback tapes was a portable cassette recorder like the one above. Later on, my parents upgraded me to something better but that was one of those all-in-one shelf systems with a tuner, cassette deck, turntable and two crappy little speakers. They bought it at KMart. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the Licensed to Ill had bass. I couldn’t believe my ears the first time I heard “The New Style” on a real system with real subwoofers. I was blown away by the awesome bass. Ever since then I have been skipping ahead to the 3:20 mark in that track when I want to test the bass response of any system. “EeeeDrop” {boom} “Coolin’ on the corner on a hot summers day. Just me and my posse and MCA…”

I played the Licensed to Ill cassette so many times that I wore it out and had to buy a new one. My friends and I learned every lyric on that album in probably less than a week. I would play that tape almost every day after school from start to finish and sometimes even more than once. Tracks from this album have been playing on the radio for decades. You can hear Beastie Boys tracks on Pop, Hip-Hop and Modern Rock stations.

The Beastie Boys played a part in defining the music of my generation. Did you know that Licensed to Ill was the first Rap Album to hit number one on the Billboard 200? Here’s a look back at the number one Rap albums by fuse. The B Boys have been making great music for 26 years. “Make Some Noise” off the 2011 album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is every bit as good as anything the Beastie Boys have released over the past 2 and 1/2 decades.

The 30 minute long video for “Make Some Noise” was directed by MCA and I would argue it’s one of his greatest accomplishments in entertainment. I rank the video right up there with some of the best music videos of all time. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video comes to mind when I think about the video for “Make Some Noise.” It’s that good. The video features an all star cast to boot, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Elijah Wood, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Ted Danson, Amy Poehler, Steve Buscemi, Maya Rudolph, Kirsten Dunst, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black just to name a few. If you haven’t yet seen the video, do yourself a favor and watch it on YouTube.

While I’ve embedded the video here, I encourage you to jump over to YouTube and watch in HD.

MCA - Adam Yauch - Nathan Wind - Cochese

Once again, rest in peace, MCA. You will be missed.

Guilty Pleasures – Firehouse

I’m willing to bet that many of you don’t even remember Firehouse. Those of you who do remember them probably remember their power rock ballads, “Love of a Lifetime” or “When I Look into Your Eyes.” However, my favorite Firehouse song is, “All She Wrote” and it’s the guilty pleasure I want to talk about today.

Firehouse - Firehouse

“All She Wrote” is found on Firehouse’s self-titled 1991 debut album. This album went Platinum and featured two Top 20 singles, “Don’t Treat Me Bad” and “Love of a Lifetime.” The album produced four singles in total with “Shake & Tumble” and “All She Wrote” as the final two. “All She Wrote” had limited commercial success reaching number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 25 on the Mainstream Rock charts.

Even though Firehouse released their debut album at a time when I was found myself with disposable income and spent a lot of that on CDs, I only added “All She Wrote” to my collection in 2009 after hearing the track on XMs Hair Nation. “All She Wrote” didn’t really break any new ground in the pop-metal category that was prevalent at the time. Firehouse could be compared to bands such at Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, or Winger. I think Firehouse would have been bigger had they come onto the scene even just a few years earlier. Remember Nirvana’s Nevermind was released in 1991, grunge was beginning to ramp up and big hair and makeup was dying out.

The video for this track was filmed at the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater at Dixie State College in Springdale, Utah.

Weird Songs of the 70s

Top 5

Every decade has it’s share of weird music. I’m not talking about novelty, parody or comedy songs like those from Weird Al Yankovic or something you might have heard on the Dr. Demento radio show. No, I’m just talking about music that’s odd, strange, off-beat, or peculiar. These are songs that feature unusual lyrics, funky sounds, or something really odd like a marimba solo for example. My last post featured music from the late 60s and early 70s so let’s continue with that theme and listen to some of the weird tracks from the 1970s.

The tracks that I’m including on my list all achieved at least some commercial success on the pop charts. I’m not going to include music nobody’s ever even heard before.

5. “Coconut” – Harry Nilsson – 1971iTunes
This song was featured on the 1971 album titled, Nilsson Schmilsson. Nilsson is the only singer on this track but he plays the role of three different individuals, the narrator, the sister, and the doctor. As best as I can tell the sister put lime juice in coconut milk and “drank em both up.” This gives her a stomach ache, so she calls her doctor, wakes him up, explains what shes done and asks if there is something she can take for relief. The doctor thinks she’s a bit crazy and needs to confirm she’s really drank this concoction. Once that’s cleared up, the doctor tells her the remedy is to put more lime juice in more coconut milk and call back in the morning. Humm, weird!

4. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” – Creedence Clearwater Revival – 1970iTunes
Here’s a song that sounds like it should really be about drugs. “There’s a giant doing cartwheels, a statue wearing high heels, look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.” What was John Fogerty smoking when he wrote these lyrics? Not to mention, “Won’t you take a ride on the flying spoon?” The wikipedia states that it’s really a song for Forgety’s son about a parade and that it was inspired by a Dr. Seuss book. I don’t know if I believe that.

3. “Midnight at the Oasis” – Maria Muldaur – 1974iTunes
Okay, this is “love” song with some suggestive lyrics about getting freaky but, weird none the less. With lyrics like, “Send your camel to bed” and “Cactus is our friend” you have to admit that this is an odd choice for a song about having sex. I realize the lyrics suggest some middle eastern desert love affair but I still find it strange. What about the lyric that says, “And you won’t need no camel, no, no.” What’s that supposed to mean?

2. “Spill the Wine” – Eric Burdon & War – 1970iTunes
Here’s a song about a dream so I guess that’s why the lyrics are about some odd stuff. The lyrics for most of this song are more like spoken word rather than singing. It’s not until at least half way into the song that we really hear Burdon begin to sing. I’m not going to get into the lyrics on this one, you just have to listen for yourself. You figure out why you should, “Spill the wine and take that pearl.”

1. “Moonlight Feels Right” – Starbuck – 1976iTunes
A marimba solo, seriously? What other pop songs can you think of that feature the marimba, much less a solo? Like the rest of the songs on this list, this song was actually successful. It made it to number 3 on the charts. Like I mentioned at the beginning, this track was not intended to be a novelty. It seems like a summertime love connection. The lyrics, “I finally made a tricky French connection. You winked and gave me your okay.” seem to indicate that the singer was trying to hookup with a girl and he finally got the timing right and his girl agreed to have sex with him. Everything about this song is just a little odd and that’s why I’ve selected it for my number one on this list.

What do you think? Do you have your own list of weird 70s songs, share it with us in the comments.

Vietnam War Era Music

Vietnam Era Music

I’m not a history buff nor do I know a lot about politics or the military. I remember from the time I was in Jr. High and High School having an interest in Vietnam and things surrounding the Vietnam war. I don’t see every war movie but I have watched a number of films about the Vietnam war. I don’t know what it is about that part of history that sparks interest for me. I think it might have to do with the fact that it was more current. I think, when I was in Jr. High studying Vietnam felt more relevant because it had only happened a couple decades earlier. I think another really important factor that sparked my interest was the music of the era.

I remember watching a documentary at school, I think in the 9th grade, called Letters Home from Vietnam. In the film, real letters written by American soldiers to their families during the Vietnam war are read by popular actors. DeNiro, Fox, Penn, Dafoe and many others narrate the letters featured in the film. What I remember most about the film was the music. The soundtrack for the film features a number of popular tunes from the era or about the Vietnam war. “Gimme Shelter” by the Stones, “Born in the USA” by Springsteen, and “Fortunate Son” by CCR are just a few of the tracks featured in the film. One song however, struck a cord with me and a number of my male friends and classmates. That song was “Walk Like a Man” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. I remember asking our teacher who sang that song and I remember walking the halls of my Jr. High school with a few of my friends singing, “OOoooooo WEeeee oooo oooo ooo ooo ooo”, “Walk like a man, talk like a man, walk like a man my son.” All of us trying to emulate Frankie Valli’s Falsetto voice. Thinking about it now it seems all too appropriate. We were young, puberty was setting in, and we were all boys looking to become men.

So I thought coming up with a Top 5 list of music about the Vietnam conflict would be easy. I’ve listened to plenty of music from that era and I know some good music about the war in Vietnam. Well, when I started digging in a bit to come up with my Top 5, I did some research on my track picks. It turns out most of the songs I thought were specifically about Vietnam are really about other things. So while a few of the tracks I picked are specifically about the war or are in protest of the war, others that sound like they should be were written about something else entirely. Interviews with the artists and bands revealed that they were just thinking about something personal going on in their lives and the masses mistook the lyrics to be about the war.

So this list is about Vietnam era music that sounds like it should be about the war but, may or may not actually be about that. Make sense? No… Okay, it’s a list of late 60’s and early 70’s music. 🙂

5. “Mother Freedom” – Bread – 1971 – iTunes
4. “Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones – 1969 – iTunes
3. “Get Together” – The Youngbloods – 1967 – iTunes
2. “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival – 1969 – iTunes
1. “For What It’s Worth” – Buffalo Springfield – 1967 – iTunes

As a bonus, here’s a a video of The Four Seasons performing “Walk Like a Man”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tWvYaiOmRs

As always, if you have a favorite track from this era, share it in the comments.

February Floor Fillers

Here we are, already 42 days into 2012. The new year is a time when people often reflect on the past year and when it comes to music, that often inspires the creation of Top 10, Top 50, or Top 100 lists. Radio stations, music retailers, record labels, DJs and anyone with an affinity for music tends to built their Top whatever lists this time of the year. I’m no stranger to list building, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that a good Top 5 list is a staple around here. I’ve looked around and I’ve seen a number of new lists of favorites and chart toppers from 2011. I thought about creating my own Top X list and sharing with it you but, I’m just not feeling all that nostalgic for 2011.

Right now, I’m more interested in newer tracks. So rather than providing a recap of what was, let’s look at what is… Here’s a look at some new tracks that I know will fill the dance floor right now.

The first track I want to talk about is “Levels” by Sweden’s DJ Avicii. This track was released back in October 2011 but just because it’s been out for a few months doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant today. If you think today’s current hits are only the latest releases, think again. Tons of tracks bomb at the time of their initial release only to be re-released by the record label at some point later. These re-releases often become hits. It’s all about timing. For example, I wrote about “International Love” by Pitbull on this blog back in June 2011 prior to the release of the album Planet Pit. I predicted it would be filling dance floors within a matter of weeks. I was wrong, at that time, it didn’t get any radio airplay and it didn’t become a hit like I thought it would. But now, 8 months later, we’re hearing “International Love” on the radio. In fact, “International Love” just peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 last week. I apologize for that digression, allow me to get back on topic.

“Levels” may not be as important or as popular as some other tracks that are charting right now but, this track is relevant. More on that in a minute. Levels is a fairly short, fun, house-like track and while it only reached number 60 on the Hot 100, it reached number 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play list. Here’s the official video for this track on YouTube. It’s a pretty funny video too. Click though to YouTube so you can watch it in HD.

How about them rainbows?

Another track I would recommend is “Blackout” by Breathe Carolina. Here’s another Techno infused Pop/Rock track that’s simple yet entertaining. It’s doesn’t feature the most sophisticated lyrics and you might even call it cheesy or cliché but, it get’s the job done. Here’s the video but if your easily offended, I recommend you skip this one. Also, this video is not what I would call safe for work (NSFW).

Here’s something that came out in December 2010. This might sound dated but, the truth is not many of my clients have ever heard this mashup. The track is called “Barbaramyte”. It’s a remix created by DJs from Mars featuring “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and “Barbara Streisand” from Duck Sauce. Everyone is familiar with Taio Cruz and you’ve all heard “Dynamite” but “Barbara Streisand” isn’t a track that garnered much commercial success here in the United States. It did much better overseas, hitting number 3 on the charts in the UK. It’s a great versus mashup that really builds the energy on the dance floor. I’ve played this track a number of times and people are still enjoying it.

The next track that will get your body movin’ is “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida. If you haven’t heard this one, check out the video first.

Now, does this track remind you of anything? Does it sound familiar? Well, it should. Listen to the sampled lyrics, “Oh, sometimes I get a good feeling…” These lyrics are sampled from Etta James’ 1962 release “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”. They are sampled here in the Flo Rida track but they are also featured in “Levels” by Avicii which I mentioned above. More precisely, Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” is based on “Levels”. Like other Hip-Hop artists before him, Flo Rida has taken and electronic track and infused it with a Hip-Hop beat.

That’s a lot of good booty shaking music for your party but I still have to talk about David Guetta and his most recent album
Nothing But the Beat. Here’s a collection of music that’s generating a bunch of hits. I believe the first hit from this album was “Where Them Girls At” that features both Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj.

This track may be showing it’s age a bit now but I could still work it into a play list. The next release from this album was “Night of Your Life” which features Jennifer Hudson doing the vocals. I personally think this is a great track with a great beat for the dance floor. Sadly, this song only reached number 83 on the charts. Regardless of it’s commercial success, or lack thereof, I sill think this is a great dance track and it’s certainly something I would consider playing during one of my sets.

The next track from this album to climb the charts was “Without You” featuring Usher. This track peaked at number 4 on the charts and while it’s a decent track, it’s not what I would call a floor filler. Finally, the latest track from Nothing But the Beat is the most recent release, “Turn Me On” featuring Nicki Minaj. Here’s yet another great track proving that David Guetta has just the right formula to create hits. His mix of House sounds with R&B and Hip-Hop beats is a successful marriage that’s filling the floors. Here again is the link to the video. With it’s undressed Barbie and Ken like actors, the video isn’t something I would call safe for work.

So are you noticing a trend here with these new Pop releases? What are some of your current favorites? Let us know what you think by commenting below.

2011 Holiday Top 5 * 3

It’s that time of year and it’s time for my Holiday Top 5 but I thought five tracks just weren’t enough for this list so I’m delivering you a bonus. This Top 5 list is actually my top 15 (5 times 3) favorite holiday music tracks for 2011. When it comes to holiday music, I’m a fan of the classics but I’m betting you’ll find a few surprises in this list as well. I hope you enjoy the list and find something new to add to your collection of holiday music.

Holiday 2011 Top 5

Starting with number 15 and counting down, here’s the first set of five.

15. “Hannukkah Hey Ya!” – Smooth-E – YouTube
14. “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra – iTunes
13. “Run Rudolph Run” – Chuck Berry – iTunes
12. “Santa Stole My Lady” – Fitz & The Tantrums – iTunes
11. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Kelly Sweet – iTunes

Yes I know “Hannukkah Hey Ya!” is goofy but, I like it. I’m sorry I couldn’t find this track available for for download, though I’m willing to bet not many of you want to add it to your collection anyway. Just check out the YouTube video and if you enjoy that, check out Smooth-E, a.k.a. Eric Schwartz’s other videos and his website. “Oy is just Yo backwards.”

Though the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is featured in just about every over-the-top Christmas lights video these days and though by now it’s probably the bane of any neighbor who lives next to one of those Clark Griswold meets Las Vegas strip holiday home decorators, I still enjoy “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”.

At number 12, “Santa Stole My Lady” is a new track for 2011. It reminds me of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” Perhaps these artists are on to something, is Santa just a gigolo in disguise? I have seen plenty of young women sitting on his lap and smiling. Guys, don’t say you weren’t warned about the jolly old man in the plus red suit. Santa’s got game! If you enjoy this track from Fitz & The Tantrums, be sure to also listen to “MoneyGrabber”.

If you like Kelly Sweet’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” then you’ll want to look for her music on Amazon. Overall, Kelly Sweet doesn’t have a large collection of music but iTunes only offers a few of her tracks. You’ll find a better selection on Amazon.

10. “Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth” – Bing Crosby & David Bowie – iTunesYouTube
9. “Sleigh Ride” – Ella Fitzgerald – iTunes
8. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”- Brenda Lee – iTunes
7. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Bobby Helms – iTunes
6. “Little Saint Nick” – The Beach Boys – iTunes

There’s no real surprises here, my favorites from number 6 to 10 are all classic versions of holiday tunes that I’m sure you’ve all heard many times before. I’ve included links to iTunes for all of these tracks but for the Bing Crosby / David Bowie duet, you really have to watch the YouTube video so see the interactions between Bing and David. There’s a bit of awkwardness to the whole thing. My friend Tom does this really funny bit about what Bing really thinks of David. I can’t remember how it goes but it’s something along the lines of how Crosby has more integrity in his pinky finger than Bowie. “You kids get off my lawn!” 🙂

So that just leaves my Top 5. Here they are…

5. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Lee Ann Womack & Harry Connick Jr. – iTunes
4. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – David Archuleta & Charice Pempengco – iTunes
3. “Sleigh Ride” – Johnny Mathis – iTunes
2. “Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year” – Rosie Thomas – iTunes
1. “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole – iTunes

Holiday 2011 Album Covers

At number 5 it’s one of many renditions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. I enjoy a lot of vocal jazz tracks and this is one of them. I can’t say I listen to Lee Ann Womack much. Including this track, I only have three of her songs in my collection. I’m also not a fan of Harry Connick Jr. but I like the pairing of these two on this track.

Coming in at number 4 on my list this version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a great one. Here again are two artists that I can’t say I really know much about. David Archuleta has a pretty nice collection of Christmas music on his album Christmas from the Heart. Charice Pempengco is a young singer from the Philippines who I first discovered on the Ellen show back in 2007. If you haven’t see her perform “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” on Ellen, search for it on YouTube. It’s an incredible performance from a 15 year old girl.

My Dad was a big fan of Johnny Mathis and because of this I know the lyrics to more Johnny Mathis tunes than I care to admit. My Dad would always break out the Johnny Mathis Christmas albums at this time of the year. Johnny’s version of “Sleigh Ride” is my favorite. For all my childhood memories of Christmas and of my Dad this track has made it to number 3 on my list.

Number 2 on my list is a track that I found almost by accident. If I’m not mistaken, Amazon offered “Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year” in their 25 Days of Christmas collection of free downloads a few years ago. This song by Rosie Thomas is different, fresh, upbeat and just plain fun.

Finally, at number 1 on my list is another classic. When I was growing up, Nat King Cole received just about as much “air play” as Johnny Mathis. Nat King Cole’s Christmas album would faithfully be loaded on the turntable every year with my Dad as the DJ. Aptly named, “The Christmas Song” is the epitome of Christmas music. This version of the track is actually the fourth time Nat King Cole recorded this track. This version was recorded in 1961 and is the version that I remember my Dad playing. This is the first version of the song that was recorded in stereo. The original recording dates back to 1946.

Before I close out this post, I wanted to take a moment to recognize my father and the influence he had on my life. Though my Dad hasn’t been with us to celebrate the holidays since 2005, he’s always with us in spirit. I’ll always remember my Dad when I hear Nat King Cole singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” or any time I hear Johnny Mathis. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you and here’s to the loved ones that you may be thinking about this holiday season.

Hottest New Dance Tracks – Winter 2011

Top 5

I think it’s time for another Top 5 list. Before we get into this one, I just wanted to point out that the Top 5 list is going to become a regular feature on my blog. Several years ago, I had the idea for a blog where everything was a Top 5 list. Inspiration for a blog based on Top 5 lists came from one of my favorite films, High Fidelity. In the film the main character Rob Gordon, played by John Cusack, laments a breakup with his girlfriend Laura. Rob is an audiophile, record store owner and a obsessed list maker. Throughout the film Rob takes the audience through several his own Top 5 lists, including his Top 5 most memorable breakups.

I’m not a compulsive list maker like Rob but I can relate to the character. If you’re into music there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth renting.

This time I’m taking a look at the hottest new dance tracks for Winter 2011. All of these tracks are recent releases that seem to be filling the dance floors. Though some of these tracks may have been released months ago, they are still the most recent releases that are popular with guests at my events.

5. “Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 – iTunes
4. “Where Dem Girls At (Ray Core Remix)” – David Guetta – iTunes
3. “Blackout” – Breathe Carolina – iTunes
2. “You Make Me Feel…” – Cobra Starship – iTunes
1. “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO – iTunes

What are your favorite new dance tracks?

Building A Setlist

If there’s one technique every DJ should know, it’s how to build a set list. The ability to put songs together in a way that will keep your guests entertained throughout the party is what sets good DJs apart from your 15-year-old nephew Logan. A great DJ has an intimate knowledge of his or her music collection, the current trends, and what tracks mix well together. He has the ability to “read the crowd” and knows exactly what to do with that feedback from your guests, making constant on-the-fly adjustments.

Over the many years I have been in this business, I have developed my own methods for building great play lists. While I won’t share all my secrets, I can tell you that I always build a unique play list for each of my clients and every event. I start with the feedback and requests I get from my clients at our planning meetings. If I know even a few of your favorite songs, I can put together a stream of music for an entire evening that put simply, flows.

Let’s examine a small part of my set list from a wedding reception I hosted last Saturday (10/1/2011) for a great couple, Victoria and Chris. The part of the play list I want to share with you is the crowning point about 3/4 of the way through open dancing. Here are the songs that made the evening unforgettable and packed the dance floor.

First, allow me to set the stage. I came into this part of the play list from a planned break or slow down. I had played the 12-inch extended version of “Brick House” by the Commodores, a track that last a full 6 minutes. It’s a great version of the song and people enjoy the track so much that I’ve played over 50 times, but I know people tend to get a bit tired by the end. Coming off this version of “Brick House” I had already programmed a slow song, “I Do (Cherish You)” by 98 Degrees, a great slow song for a wedding reception. I decided however to pull the track at the last minute and replace it with another slower song but one with a completely different mood than “I Do”. I instead played “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. This turned out to be the right choice. “Don’t Stop Believin'” brought people back to the dance floor that had sat out on “Brick House”. I was really enjoying myself watching the guests sing along, “A singer in a smokey room, A smell of wine and cheap perfume…” Everyone knows the lyrics to this classic.

Following “Don’t Stop Believin'” is where I started the build up to the height of the evening. I started the next set with “Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake. “Summer Love” is great mid-tempo track at about 96 beats-per-minute. The ladies love Justin Timberlake and I think “Summer Love” is a guilty pleasure for the guys. This is a great track for a wedding reception and I love to play through the little drop out at about 30 seconds from the end. The crowd looks at me when the song goes silent and then smiles when it starts up again.

Some people consider Justin Timberlake the New King of Pop, rest in peace M.J. If Justin is the new King then Lady Gaga would probably be considered the new Queen. I played, “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga after “Summer Love”. “Poker Face” was one of the bride’s requests and it built the tempo up a bit more to about 120 BPM.

After “Poker Face” I hit the crowd with the DJs from Mars mashup called “Barbaramyte”. This mashup pits Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” against Duck Sauce’s “Barbara Streisand” the result is an epic dance floor anthem that still catches many people a little off guard. “Dynamite” is a well known track that’s been around long enough now that people welcome the remixed variation found in this mashup. “Barbara Streisand” on the other hand hasn’t received a much airplay, at least not here in the United States. People loved the track and it was a great follow up to “Poker Face” pushing the tempo up to 128 BPM. More importantly, “Barbaramyte” was the perfect track to lead into the next track, the pinnacle of the evening, “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO.

“Barbaramyte” and “Party Rock Anthem” can blend well together as their tempos are similar but I chose to instead drop a sample during the fade out of “Barbaramyte” before dropping in “Party Rock Anthem”. The sample is the vocal only drop from “Party Rock Anthem” that says “Everyday I’m Shufflin'”. “Party Rock Anthem” was on of the groom’s requests and it was simply the perfect follow-up to “Barbaramyte”.

I hope this example provides you with a glimpse of how I go about building a play list. Each of my play lists are broken down into several set lists. The sequence for this set list started with “Summer Love” and ended with “Party Rock Anthem”. This wasn’t the end of the night, no we kept going but this was the highest crest of the evening. I followed “Party Rock Anthem” with seven more upbeat tracks and one final slow song as requested by my clients before finishing out the evening.

What do you think? Would this set list brought you out to the dance floor? Would it have kept you there wanting more? Let me know by posting a comment.

One-Hit Wonders

Top 5
My definition of a one hit wonder is this, “The one single or track from a band or artist that produces a solitary popular or ‘hit’ song in their career.” I realize there is always the possibility that a someone could produce another hit years after their first though that doesn’t often happen for these bands. Other individuals must have a different definitions of what qualifies as a one hit wonder because I often find myself scratching my head at some of the tracks popular mainstream media classify as one hit wonders. For example, I have often seen “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot classified as a one hit wonder. Sure this track is the most recognizable track from Sir Mix-A-Lot but he had plenty of other popular songs, “Posse On Broadway”, “Beepers”, “My Hooptie”, and “Testarossa” to name a few. Billboard has list of one hit wonders on their site that is defined as, “Artists who reached No. 1 in their first and only chart appearance.” As you can imagine that is a short list of tracks.

So here is my Top 5 One-Hit Wonders, following my own definition as best as possible.

5. “I Wish” – Skee-Lo – 1995 – YouTube
4. “I Got A Man” – Positive K – 1992 – YouTube
3. “Don’t Want To Fall In Love” – Jane Child – 1989 – YouTube
2. “In A Big Country” – Big Country – 1983 – Dailymotion
1. “You Get What You Give” – New Radical – 1998 – YouTube

It was tough to come up with this list. I had a hard time finding tracks in my collection that met my definition of a one hit wonder. Technically, I should probably remove Big Country for their popularity outside of the United States. I should probably also remove Jane Child since she did have another track from her self titled debut album that received some limited success but, I bet nobody remembers it anyway.

What are your top 5 one hit wonders?