It's that wonderful time of year when we bust out the sweaters and jackets from the fall collection while the music industry tries to wow us with their big hitters. A classic diva trots up the charts while a young country pop tart switches genres and pisses off The Big Apple. And three big booty hoes fights to be the Queen of the Ass Generation! My prediction about The Return Of House Music comes true while another pop diva takes an unexpected turn.
It's November and I've got a lot to talk about in music. Unfortunately for me, back at the beginning of October I was in a bicycle accident where I fractured my cheekbone and jaw along with chipping my front right tooth. Fortunately, I did not break anything (just sprang my left wrist). I am doing much better now and finally am scheduled to get the much needed dental work to get my smile back.
So, the first release I wanna talk about is Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics. Over the past few years, The Queen of Soul has released a few albums without very much fanfare. It's tough to get into the charts these days when you don't really make music videos and you're not instagram ready for the cameras. Hell….even artists who are on social media, magazine covers and making provocative music videos are finding it hard to remain relevant. But Ms. Franklin's tribute (slash back-handed compliment) album has been her highest debut on the charts ever. My husband is one of the biggest Aretha Franklin fans in the world. He can tell you all her chart positions and B-sides from the beginning of her career. I on the other hand appreciate her music, but she's not my favorite. It occurred to me that on her biggest hits she sounds like Donald Duck screaming.
After watching a documentary on Muscle Shoals I finally understood how she made the transition from a Columbia recording artist with the lush orchestrated tracks to the soul diva she is today. When she mixed her church vocals with rhythm and blues in that studio, a true diva was born. No one had those chops or the talent to back it up. All of the blues and jazz singers before her primed what was to become a voice of a generation. For this woman has sung for the likes of Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The history of this woman's life should be applauded alone. Bill Maher put it best when he ranted that this generation dismisses our elders and we shouldn't. The wisdom and knowledge that they have would be so helpful to someone like a Justin Beiber or a Rihanna (not that either have the talent that this woman has in her left pinky, but just think what her guidance would do for their careers). Berry Gordy had it right with the old Motown. We need to groom our talents instead of just shoving 'em out there and watching them self destruct. Giving kids a lot of money and free time is not a good formula for a long lasting career.
This would be the reason that we watched Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland sing "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again" on Judy's television show on October 6th, 1963. The new artists learned from the masters. They didn't think they invented music. They were honored to even be in the presence of such greatness and this is how the torch was passed on. Kinda like when Beyonce paid tribute to Tina Turner at The Kennedy Center Honors Awards. And definitely why Lady GaGa has done a duets album with Tony Bennet. She needs to seal her place in history since her last album did not do as well as she had hoped. And not even the Giorgio Moroder or Parov Stelar remixes could salvage their duet "I Can't Give You Anything But Love". These mixes won't appease your Little Monsters.
But I digress…..The Great Diva Classics. I like this album. A covers album is a great way to ensure hits. Aretha's version of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" is actually doing quite well on my floor with help of the Wideboys and Morlando Remixes (didn't care too much for the Cutmore Remix). And as an album track her version of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" works nicely as well. I was not impressed with her version of "I'm Every Woman". I guess I love the Chaka and Whitney versions better. And the track that I did not like the most on her album was her treatment to the Prince penned classic "Nothing Compares 2 U". I know that Andre 3000 probably thought he was reinventing the wheel when he decided to jazz the song up, but it kills the original meaning of the lyrics. Throughout the album Aretha interjects other songs into her covers on the uptempo tracks. It works on some levels, but I guess when more remixes come out for the next single we'll see if this works in her favor.
Now let's do a 180 and talk about Miss Taylor Swift. From the first time I listened to remixes of "I Knew You Were Trouble" I knew that she was going to jump the fence and leave her Country roots behind. The Red album won the American Music Award for Best Country Album…….really? The main hit off of it was no Country song at all. But being a young girl into fashion and Hip Hop (like most girls her age) she couldn't stay country. And I have said it before and I'll say it again…..she owes her entire popularity to Kanye West. If he had not interrupted her acceptance speech at the MTV Awards in 2009, we would not be talking about her right now. She would have faded into wherever country artists go after they blow up (like Leann Rimes). So, she's about to turn 25 in December and she now lives in New York City. She's explaining the lingo of The Big Apple to millions of young girls who follow her on twitter and NYC couldn't hate her more! She is everything that a real New Yorker despises! New York City used to be full of great underground artists…..not anymore. New York City is the playground for all who have money. The poor and creative have been pushed out of Manhattan. Areas like The East Village and The Meat Packing District are chic places now. There's no CBGB's! There's no Mars or Boy Bar! They have been replaced by The Marquee and Cielo. Rudy Giuliani's Disney-fication of the Big Apple has been completed. So, this is why Taylor has been named NYC's Global Welcome Ambassador. She's perfect! So, sweet and clean cut…..everything that New York City stands for (smell the sarcasm?). Her song "Welcome To New York" sounds like some bad 80's album track.
Her debut single "Shake It Off" from her new album 1989 came in like a lion! There's probably a remix for every taste there is. But the ones that stood out for me were Calvo's House Mix (because he took out her ridiculous attempt at rapping) and Ranny's Sunset Mix (because it has Gay Dance Floor written all over it). Oh…and if I had to play the track in a more urban setting I'd opt for the Mike D Remix. He gave it some bottom heavy production. But the next single….."Out Of The Woods" - I have no idea what to say about this song. I received a DJ Smooth Bootleg Mix and had not been this confused since the gum pop, Ms. Swift is going to walk away with the prize. She's just not my taste.
And speaking of walking away with the prize…….apparently Jennifer Lopez has been hanging out with the Ballroom Kids over at Vogue Knights on Mondays at my old residency, Escuelita (one of the last slivers of Underground left in NYC). Her latest single is called "Tens" featuring legendary commentator Jack Mizrahi. Love the concept, but Jennifer's delivery of the lingo sounds rehearsed and not authentic. It's great that she wants to be another artist that exploits and appropriates the Ballroom Culture like Madonna, RuPaul and Scissor Sisters. I can't wait for the video! I'm sure it's gonna be O-V-A-H! She'll be able to do what Madonna did back in 1990 with "Vogue". 'Cuz honestly….outside of her recent remix with Iggy Azalea of "Booty" I haven't really heard much about anything else of her latest album A.K.A. "I Luh Ya Papi" came and went with her performance on American Idol. Wonder if she will return to the show again this year?
And speaking of Iggy Azalea……why is everyone doing the Lady GaGa and Justin Timberlake thing of re-releasing their album with bonus tracks to squeeze more life out of them? Even Beyonce is about to drop another release of her surprise album from last December boasting duets with Rihanna and Justin Timberlake. Iggy has a new single that will come with the re-release of The New Classic called "Beg For It". I'm kinda living for the 86 Club Mix of "Black Widow" featuring Rita Ora. It's got a cute kick that you can dance to or even vogue. It works on a couple of levels for my floor.
But with the Battle of The Big Bottoms (an no I'm not talking about the last orgy on Grindr)…..Jenny from the block, Iggy from down under and the undisputed queen of fake butts, Nicki Minaj have really been trying to show off their assets. Remember 14 years ago when Miss Fernando was dogging J-Lo for wearing her skin tight dress to 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000 on his Underground Bitch Track, "Jenny Lopez" and how much of a scandal it was? Well, photos of Nicki's butt in shorts during a performance of "Anaconda" which got dropped from the airing of The Fashion Rocks broadcast really sorta set off a lot of talk about butt implants. I am waiting to see where she goes for her next video and single. Hasn't she set the ass bar kinda high?
Of course Nicki's verse on Jessie J's "Bang Bang" with Ariana Grande is pretty hot! And the Disco Suckz Remix is a masterpiece in my opinion. It keeps the feel of the original while hyping the track with a great driving baseline. Be on the lookout for Jessie's next single "Burning Up" with 2 Chainz. I'm not sure whoever Disco Suckz is or are have been doing some great remixes. Their treatment on Katy Perry's "This Is How We Do" is short but sweet. And the Disco Suckz Remix of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" gives me as a DJ a version that I can live with.
But the thing that I am really excited about is The Return Of House Music! Actually I should say The Return Of 90s House Music. Armand Van Helden's remix of Sam Smith's "I'm Not The Only One" and Billon Extended Mix of Kiesza's "Giant In My Heart" and the Juaz Remix of her "No Enemiesz" are ushering the sound that made me love being a DJ. And the new re-issued remixes of Classic House tracks like the Diephuis & Tommy Deep Remix of "Love Sensation" by Loleatta Holloway, the Safety First Remix of "Vogue" by Madonna, the John Jacobsen Remix of "Push The Feeling On" by Nightcrawlers and the Troy Dark Remix of "Star 69" by Fatboy Slim have been lighting up my sets when I spin. I don't know if it like this in the states, but I think that I have found a sound that I can make work as an alternative to some of the pop crap that is being shoved down today's audience's throats.
And my ultimate pick for a new House remix is the Sandy Rivera Club Remix and Terry Hunter Club Remix of Jennifer Hudson's "It's Your World" featuring R. Kelly. This track makes me very happy to be a DJ right now!