|FEBRUARY 2012||APRIL 2012|
Song of the Day: Tuxedo Junction features the lyrics of Buddy Feyne and the music of Bill Johnson, Julian Dash, and Erskine Hawkins, who first recorded this song with his orchestra [YouTube link]. But its most famous rendition was the smooth, slow, finger snappin' version of the Glenn Miller Orchestra [YouTube link]. Check out other versions as well: the Harry James Orchestra, The Manhattan Transfer (turning it into their own theme song), and Joe Jackson.
Song of the Day: Billionaire features the words and music of Ari Levine, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars and Travie Lazarus McCoy, who recorded the track for "Lazarus," his first studio album. With clever rapping by McCoy and the smooth vocals of Bruno Mars, I can't think of a more appropriate song to feature on a day when the country is crazy for the Mega Millions Lottery, with the largest jackpot in history now roaring past half-a-billion bucks. Hey, You Never Know! So while you're waiting for the winning numbers, check out the music video to this cool song, a Danyo Wallem remix (Explicit Content Warning!), and a "Glee" cast version as well.
Song of the Day: Make 'Em Laugh, music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed, is from the 1952 movie musical, "Singin' in the Rain," #1 on AFI's 100 Years of Musicals. The film opened 60 years ago this week at Radio City Music Hall. This song, closely based on Cole Porter's "Be a Clown," was performed with daring enthusiasm by Donald O'Connor in the film [YouTube link]. What a movie moment!
Song of the Day: Synchronicity II, words and music by Sting, is a companion piece to "Synchronicity I," from The Police album, "Synchronicity." The song includes everything from a Jungian motif to the Loch Ness Monster. Check out this driving rock gem on YouTube.
Song of the Day: Synchronicity I, words and music by Sting, is featured on the stupendous album "Synchronicity," recorded by The Police. Anyone who isn't bopping with this hard-driving track just doesn't have a pulse; check it out on YouTube.
Song of the Day: Love Has Come Around, words and music by William Duckett, peaked at #4 on the 1981 Billboard Dance Chart. It was recorded by Donald Byrd's 125th Street, NYC Band for the album "Love Byrd," produced by Isaac Hayes. Initially a bop horn player, Byrd was a pioneer fusion artist, who has blended elements of jazz, funk, and soul, of which this selection is a prime example. Check out this smooth track with its memorable hook on YouTube here and here. And check out a few latter day remixes: Pink City Remix and DJ Cris Funk.
Song of the Day: I Didn't Mean to Turn You On, words and music by Jimmy Jam (James Samuel Harris III) and Terry Lewis, was a 1984 Top Ten R&B hit by Cherrelle. The music video features an homage to the 1933 blockbuster, "King Kong" [YouTube link]. A year later, Robert Palmer recorded his own version (following a trajectory similar to "You Are in My System"). The track appears on his album, "Riptide," and in a video featuring The Girls, prominent in other Palmer solo hit videos. Check out the Palmer music video and the extended video, as well as a live "American Music Awards" performance [YouTube links]. Mariah Carey also did a version of the song for the film "Glitter" that was faithful to the original Cherrelle arrangement. The soundtrack was released on September 11, 2001 (not a good sign, apparently). Check out this "Glitter" film excerpt and the soundtrack version [YouTube links]. But I still love the original full-length version that appears on Cherrelle's self-titled album [YouTube link].
Song of the Day: You Are In My System features the words and music of David Frank and Mic Murphy, who founded the band, The System. This 1982 electro-funk track reached the Top Ten on both the R&B and Dance Club Play charts, and was remade into a Mainstream Rock hit by Robert Palmer a year later. Still, my favorite versions are the percolating original 7" (the video features Mic Murphy looking a little like MJ, if you ask me) and 12" extended mixes [YouTube links]. Check out Palmer's fun remake, extended version, and an Eric Kupper Def remix, and The System's Kerri Chandler House Mix and Atmospheric Spanish Vocal House Mix as well.
Song of the Day: This is My Night, words and music by David Frank and Mic Murphy, is a selection on the fifth solo album of the only Chaka Khan: "I Feel for You." Coming on the heels of the humongous title track hit from that album, this song went to #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play Billboard chart, 27 years ago this month. I loved remixing this track for the dance floor, and it remains one of my favorites from the enormous Chaka corpus. Listen to the original album version, the 12" remix. and the video version [YouTube links]. Back in 1953, on this date, Chaka Khan was born. So this is your night and your day, Chaka: Happy Birthday!
Song of the Day: Love After War, words, music, and performance by Robin Thicke, is the title track to the artist's fifth studio album. Oozing with seductive soul, the track has a sound that reminds me vaguely of "Nite and Day" by Al B. Sure! The comparison is all the more freaky because another artist, Raheem DeVaughn, actually did a cover version of "Nite and Day" [YouTube link] on a 2009 mixtape prequel to his "Love & War MasterPeace" project. Hmmm, I'm Sure there is some kind of "love" and "war" conspiracy going on! Either way, I really love the Thicke song. Take a look at the very sexy official music video and a live "Jimmy Kimmel Live" performance.
Song of the Day: Nite and Day [not that one] features the words and music of Kyle West and Al B. Sure!, who sings this seductive #1 R&B hit on his 1988 album, "In Effect Mode." It has the kind of "sleaze beat" Quiet Storm sound appropriate for "grinding music" and its related activities. Check out the irresistibility of the original single [YouTube link]. With night and day of approximately equal length around this time of the vernal equinox, there's no better moment for a little lesson from the Old School of New Jack Swing.
Song of the Day: There'll Be Another Spring features the words and music of Hubie Wheeler and Peggy Lee, who sang this song famously with pianist George Shearing (see here too for another version) [YouTube links]. And check out jazz vocalist Diane Reeves [YouTube link], a version that appears on the soundtrack for the 2005 film, "Good Night, and Good Luck." A Happy Vernal Equinox to All; as of 1:14 a.m. EDT today, it's officially Spring for us Northern Hemisphere folks, though if you ask around New York City, most will tell you that we hardly had a winter.
Song of the Day: The Groove Line features the words and music of Rod Temperton, who would later compose such classic Michael Jackson hits as "Thriller." This song was one of the best dance tracks of 1978, recorded by the R&B-funk-disco band, Heatwave for their album, "Central Heating." Check out the single version and the extended 12" version, and "leave your worries behind . . ."
Song of the Day: Inner City Life features the words and music of electronic music master Goldie, Rob ("Timecode") Playford, and Diane Charlemagne, whose voice caresses this classic drum and bass track. It is taken from the title track of the album "Timeless," in which jungle, breakbeats, and atmospheric ambient sounds blend seamlessly with symphonic strings, jazzy inflections, and soulful vocals to produce a wondrous cross-fertilization. Listen to the full 21-minute piece from which this song emerged, and then check out these various mixes: Classic Drum & Bass, Roni Size and DJ Krust Remix, Baby Boy's Edit, Rabbit's Short Attention Span Mix, the Rabbit in the Moon Mix (courtesy of the great Paul Oakenfold), and a jazz-inspired remake featuring vocalist Jhelisa Anderson [all YouTube links].
Song of the Day: Let's Fall in Love, words and music by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, has been recorded by many performers, from Eddy Duchin to Diana Krall [YouTube links]. It has also been recorded by Irish American jazz musician Gerry Mulligan, perhaps the leading baritone saxophonist in all of jazz history. One of my favorite versions of this sweet selection from the Great American Songbook is from the album "Getz Meets Mulligan in Hi-Fi," a stupendous meeting of two legendary saxophonists, who switch it up on this delightful track: Getz plays the baritone, instead of his classic tenor and Mulligan plays the tenor [YouTube link]. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Song of the Day: The Typewriter, composed by Leroy Anderson, is one of those twentieth-century orchestral pieces that brings a smile to one's face. Today, it's posted in honor of the birthday of a comedic genius, Jerry Lewis, who was born on this date in 1926. If part of comedy is timing, then here is Exhibit A on the wonder of exquisite timing: Jerry Lewis performing this piece, from the 1963 film "Who's Minding the Store?" and also on the Colgate Comedy Hour. Happy Birthday to one of the greats!
Song of the Day: Che La Luna Mezzo Mare is an Italian folksong composed, it is said, by Paolo Citorello, but infinite variations of the song have been heard throughout the years. Growing up in the Sciabarra household, we heard the bouncy Louis Prima-Keely Smith version [YouTube link], with its funny double entendres sung in both Italian and English. Other memorable versions have been performed by Rudy Vallee, Lou Monte and Dean Martin [YouTube links]. But the most memorable cinematic take is at the wedding of the daughter of Don Vito Corleone (played by Oscar-winner, Marlon Brando) in the original Mafia Family Values Movie: "The Godfather," the Oscar-winning Best Picture, my all-time favorite gangster film, an epic crime drama directed brilliantly by Francis Ford Coppola. At the wedding, Mama Corleone (played by Morgana King) is invited to the stage to begin the verses of the classic song; an old man, not unlike many I've seen at countless Italian weddings that I've attended since childhood, gets up, and completes the verses with the kind of hilariously perverse body language that the song inspires. How appropriate to note this song today, for 40 years ago, on this date, on the Ides of March in 1972, "The Godfather" had its U.S. debut. Yes, it has a haunting Nino Rota soundtrack. But it also has a "Che La Luna" wedding scene [YouTube link].
Song of the Day: I've Got the Music in Me features the words and music of Tobias "Bias" Boshell, who was the keyboardist for The Kiki Dee Band, which released this as the title song off its 1974 album. I loved the song when I first heard it; my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, used to give a rousing performance of it in the NYC cabaret circuit too. Check out these versions: the driving rock-oriented original Kiki Dee Band rendition [YouTube link]; the full-voiced R&B diva, Thelma Houston [YouTube link]; a jazzy Aretha Franklin, who sang it with superb jazz horn player Clark Terry on "Sweet Passion," her 1977 album. A snippet of it is heard over the closing credits of HBO's wonderful documentary, "The Music In Me" (check it out at 27:37). And finally, check out sexy Jennifer Lopez, who provides a beat-heavy version for her current Kohl's Department Store commercials [YouTube link].
Song of the Day: Stay with Me Tonight, words and music by recently deceased Brooklyn Technical High School graduate Raymond E. Jones, was a huge R&B hit for the talented musician Jeffrey Osborne, the title track of his terrific 1983 solo album. Check out this smooth and funky track on YouTube and the extended remix as well.
Song of the Day: International Love, words and music by Armando C. Perez ("Pitbull"), Carsten Shack ("Soulshock"), Peter Biker, Sean Hurley, and Claude Kelly, is a really catchy dance track from "Planet Pit," the sixth studio album from rapper Pitbull, and it features an infectious melody line delivered by Chris Brown. Check out the Official Video, as well as the Jump Smokers Remix and the Daniel Ngo Remix.
Song of the Day: Runaway Baby, words and music by Bruno Mars and Brody Brown, is featured on "Doo-Wops and Hooligans," the debut album of the talented Bruno Mars, who has dashes of Little Richard, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson in him. This song [YouTube link] harks back to old time rock 'n roll. His performance of the song on "The X Factor" [YouTube link] and on the 2012 Grammy Awards [YouTube link] show off his James Brown moves, his infectious energy, and his indisputable charm. At the Grammy's, he also gave a shout-out tribute to Whitney Houston. And he routinely tributes Michael Jackson, another pop legend gone too soon; check out YouTube links to his performances of "I Want You Back," "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "The Way You Make Me Feel," and "Dirty Diana."
Song of the Day: It's Not Right But It's Okay, words and music by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, Isaac Phillips, and Toni Estes, is featured on the 1998 Whitney Houston album, "My Love Is Your Love." My all-time favorite uptempo Whitney track remains "Love Will Save the Day," especially the original album version (check out, as well, the Disconet remix, which builds on the original). And my all-time favorite Whitney ballad is "Saving All My Love for You," with "I Have Nothing" a close second. But this one is my absolute all-time favorite dance remix of any Whitney Houston song. The original track [YouTube link] is transformed into a scalding #1 Billboard dance chart hit by Thunderpuss [YouTube link], a testament to the raw power of a well-done remix, the sheer talent of a remixer, and a stellar example of the reason for having a non-classical Grammy remix category. As we close out our Whitney Houston dance music tribute, check out these various greatest hits medleys, which include some very popular songs not highlighted here over the past 10 days: the 1988 Whitney Houston Disconet Medley, another 1980s medley, the 2008 lovetoinfinitymegamix, the 2009 Ulti Megamix, the x2party megamix, the 2011 D.G. Megamix Medley, and another Megamix, Part 1 and Part 2. Excuse me now, 'cuz "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." RIP, Whitney.
Song of the Day: Million Dollar Bill, words and music by Alicia Keys, Kasseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean, and Norman Harris, is a song from Whitney Houston's seventh and final studio album, "I Look To You." A sample from "We're Getting Stronger" by Loleatta Holloway [YouTube link] is featured in the original mix; check out a really nice Freemasons Club Mix as well.
Song of the Day: Same Script, Different Cast, words and music by Stacey "Dove" Daniels, Shae Jones, Anthony "Shep" Crawford, and Montell Jordan, is a supreme Diva Duet from "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (2000), featuring Whitney Houston and Deborah Cox [nice link where Cox reminisces about Houston]. Sporting a Fur Elise sample is the original mix [YouTube link]; also check out the Jonathan Peters Vocal Club Mix, which helped to propel the track to #4 on the Billboard Dance Chart.
Song of the Day: If I Told You That, words and music by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, and Toni Estes, is a duet by Whitney Houston and George Michael. The original version of this song [YouTube link] appeared on "My Love is Your Love," as a solo Whitney track. But the duet featured on "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (2000) provided nice interplay between the two artists. This particular track never scored on the Billboard Dance Chart, but its "sleaze-beat" (a slower but still very danceable Beats-Per-Minute tempo) provides a lot of chill spaces for sexy moving. Check out the video, the smooth Johnny Douglas Mix, and Nic Mercy's Bavaro Beat Mix.
Song of the Day: Could I Have This Kiss Forever, words and music by Diane Warren, a duet by Whitney Houston and Enrique Iglesias, is a Latin-tinged dance track from "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (2000). The original track never hit the Billboard Dance Chart, but it provides the kind of chill rhythmic pulse best for sensual dancing. Check out the original video version, the Tin Tin Out Mix, and the housed-up HQ Video Club Mix.
Song of the Day: It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be, words and music by Diane Warren and Albert Hammond, is a fun 1989 duet featuring Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin, from the latter's album, "Through the Storm." For the next few days, we turn to a few of my favorite beat-friendly duets in the Whitney canon. Check out the New Jack Swing feel of the original and the remix, and the 1999 Nic Mercy house remix.
Song of the Day: I Learned from the Best, words and music by Diane Warren, appeared as a ballad [YouTube link] on the artist's fourth studio album, "My Love is Your Love." But slammin' remixes by Hex Hector [YouTube link] and Junior Vasquez [YouTube link to the Disco Club Mix] (for which Houston re-recorded her vocals) propelled the track to #1 on the Billboard dance chart.
Song of the Day: I'm Your Baby Tonight, words, music, and production by L. A. Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, is the finger poppin' title track to Whitney Houston's third album and the artist's 8th #1 pop hit. Now, while I'm often a lover of remixes, this track's dance remix [YouTube link] just does not compare to the original album mix [YouTube link], with its slick shuffle beat.
Song of the Day: So Emotional, words and music by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, was a #1 dance hit from Whitney Houston's second album. Check out the official music video, the original 12" extended remix, the David Morales Club Mix, the mammoth 11+ minute David Morales Emotional Club Mix (from "Whitney: The Unreleased Mixes") and a mash-up with "Black or White," by the late Michael Jackson. This was a memorable track that I mixed and remixed at weddings, engagement parties, bar mitzvahs and class reunions, when I was a mobile DJ, or, uh, "Dr. DJ," as they used to call me. "Ain't it shocking what love can do."
Song of the Day: Thinking About You, words and music by Kashif and La La, was a Top Ten R&B radio hit (not released to pop radio), and the first song by Whitney Houston to score on the Billboard dance chart, peaking at #24. It was featured on the artist's self-titled debut album. Houston passed away last month, and many have paid tribute to her in the weeks since. Today begins my own 10-day tribute. These are some of my Whitney favorites, with a twist. The artist was very well known for her power ballads. But we'll be "thinking about you," Whitney (and your cast of producers and remixers), and some of the great dance music moments you gave us. Having done a lot of DJ'ing back in the day, I spun Whitney's tracks on my turntables regularly, packing many a dance floor. This particular track can be heard in its wonderfully rhythmic original album version, a Bruce Forest extended dance mix, Ricky Be's Hard House and Trance remix, and the M-phasis RMX.