Category Archives: Artists

Guilty Pleasures – Culture Club

The Guilty Pleasure series continues. Although I do enjoy most of the artists that are going to appear in this series, there are some that I really can’t stand. Today’s band falls into the latter category. That would be Culture Club. I was even going to make a sacrifice for the blog, and actually download some of their hits. But, I could not bring myself to do it! When Boy George sang the words, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”, was I the only one who screamed an angry whole-hearted “YES!!” every single time?

When Culture Club burst onto the scene in 1982 with their debut album Kissing to Be Clever, many of us asked, “Is that lead singer a guy or a girl?” It looks a lot like a girl with that hairdo and those clothes. But, if it is a girl, she is kind of freaky looking. Oh, wait, the name is Boy George, so it must be a guy. right?
Yeah, yeah, confirmed. It’s a guy.

Well, as much as I was not a fan of the group, there is no denying Culture Club’s success of the early to mid 80s. Kissing to Be Cleversold over two million copies in the US, and another four million worldwide at the time of its release.

Culture Club definitely did not suffer a sophomore slump. In 1983, Colour by Numbers was released, and it sold four million copies in the US and another five million worldwide at its time of release. The second single, “Karma Chameleon” became the band’s biggest hit as it was #1 in the UK, #1 in the U.S. for 3 weeks, and was #1 in sixteen other countries, and became one of the top twenty best-selling singles of the 80s.

After the success of Colour by Numbers, Culture Club had a nose dive. I suppose that they literally had a nose dive as Boy George became addicted to cocaine, which then led to a heroine addiction. The band eventually broke up in 1986, and Boy George pursued a solo career.

The band reunited a couple of times since. They reunited in 1998, and appeared on VH1 Storytellers. They went on a small tour, then reunited again in 2002 for their 20th anniversary. They broke up again due Boy George’s successful DJ career.

I could not even come up with a top 5 list of Culture Club songs. Here is a list of my top 4 hits:

4. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

I really could not stand this song. But there’s no denying it’s success. It put Culture Club on the map. Ironically, it is the only Culture Club song I own right now. That is because it is on The Wedding Singer Soundtrack.

3. Church of the Poison Mind

This top 10 hit is a little more tolerable. It has a pretty cool Motown vibe. Could they be winning me over? I do love Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)“, which is very similar.

2. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

This song is alright. It has a pretty good reggae beat. It makes me want to go on a Caribbean Cruise.

1. Karma Chameleon

This was Culture Club’s most successful song. It’s kind of a fun song. Not fun enough for me to spend $1.29 on. When I was in Junior High school, I was some place where there was a raffle for all different items. You buy a bunch of tickets, and put them in the cans in front of the items. I threw a ticket in for the 45 records of “Karma Chameleon” and Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”. You can see where this is going can’t you? These 45’s were the first things I ever won in my life. Now I had something else to bring to the school dances (that I mentioned in the Air Supply article), and I didn’t need to bring AC/DC’s Back In Black anymore! And they actually played my records at the dance!

So did I offend any Culture Club fans out there? Or did they irritate you as much as they did me? I won’t stick my nose up at you if you’re a fan. They’re just not my cup of tea.

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Music Video of the Day – 12/29/10

Since the New Year starts this week, why shouldn’t the video be U2’s “New Year’s Day”:

“New Year’s Day” was the first single off of U2’s 1983 album War. Here are some facts about the song from Songfacts:

– The lyrics refer to the movement for solidarity lead by Lech Walesa in Poland. After this was recorded, Poland announced they would abolish martial law, coincidentally, on New Year’s Day, 1983.

– This was U2’s first UK Top 10 and their first single to chart in America.

– This almost didn’t make the album because Bono was having fits writing the lyrics.

– The Edge played piano on this as well as guitar.

– This was the first U2 video to get heavy airplay on MTV.

– The themes of understanding in a time of global unrest were a focal point for the album War, whose title was inspired by the various worldwide conflicts of 1982.

– The line “Under a blood red sky” was used as the title for a video and live album U2 released in 1983. The video was recorded at Red Rocks, Colorado, June 5, 1982. The album contains performances from that show as well as 2 others.

– Bono considers this a love song. While it is about war, it deals with “The struggle for love.”

– Bono wrote this shortly after he married his childhood sweetheart, Ali.

– The video shows the band riding horses in the snow. The Edge used a stunt-double because he was having trouble with his horse.

R.I.P. Teena Marie (March 5, 1956 – December 26, 2010)

According to CNN, R&B singer-songwriter Teena Marie apparently died in her sleep at her California home, and was discovered by her daughter on Sunday, December 26. According to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, an autopsy will be performed today. It was not immediately clear when the results would be available, but the coroner’s office said it hopes to have the autopsy completed on Tuesday.

Teena Marie was born Mary Christine Brockert, and grew up in Venice, California. She signed with Motown records in 1976 after she auditioned for the label honcho, Berry Gordy. She was spotted by Rick James and guitarist Paul C Saenz who became her mentors. She had some hits with Motown, such as “I’m Just a Sucker for Your Love” (a duet with Rick James), “Behind The Groove“, “I Need Your Lovin’“, “Fire and Desire” (another duet with James), “Square Biz“, “Portuguese Love“, and “It Must be Magic“.

In 1982, Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown records over her contract and disagreements about releasing her new material. After leaving Motown, she signed with Epic Records. She had several more hits, including her biggest selling album, 1984’s Starchild. The album contained the hit single “Lovergirl“, which peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March of 1985. She also recorded the song “14k“, which was featured in the Goonies movie. She also recorded another song for a soundtrack – “Lead Me On” from the movie Top Gun. In the fall of 1990, Marie released the album Ivory. Epic wasn’t happy with the album sales, so Marie and Epic agreed to go their separate ways. Teena Marie slowed down a little bit after that, and took time to raise her daughter Alia Rose. But she had a major comeback in 2004 with her album La Doña, and her follow-up Sapphire, in 2006. Marie was nominated for a Grammy Awards 2005 for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Still in Love“.

This past year Marie was a headliner in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Hilton and other venues.

“I am horrified by the sudden death of my darling Teena Marie,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement sent by his publicist. “She was my ‘baby,’ always true to herself, always true to her heart.”

Berry called her a “powerhouse performer, writer, producer and arranger.”

“When I first auditioned her she was so awesome she blew me away,” Gordy said. “She had so much soul — the only thing white about her was her skin.”

Here is Teena Marie’s hit “Lovergirl”:

Guilty Pleasures – Music Edition (Air Supply)

Aren’t headphones great? You can listen to whatever you want without bothering anybody else. That’s not the only reason they are great, is it? You can listen to whatever music you like, and nobody has to know what you are listening to. So, what would happen if you are listening to your iPod, and some nosy person came up to you and said “Hey, what are you listening to?”, and then they grab your headphones and put them on. Would you be embarrased by what you were listening to? But, you can’t help it! “Dancing Queen” makes you feel good and puts a smile on your face! [Personally, I can’t stand “Dancing Queen”. But, it is a classic guilty pleasure. I won’t judge though. I’m more of a “Take a Chance on Me” and “Mamma Mia” guy myself, as far as Abba goes.] Ah, the Guilty Pleasure. They are so wrong, but they feel so right!

And so begins the new Guilty Pleasure Series – the Music Edition. Let’s take a look at some Guilty Pleasure artists/songs of the ’80s. So, after the nosy jerk took your headphones, and you hurried up and skipped to the first Beatles song you could find (everybody likes the Beatles, right?), grab your headphones back, disinfect them (greasy eared bastard!), and put on a song you really feel like listening to. It could be a song from today’s Guilty Pleasure:

Air Supply

The Australian duo ruled the early ’80s soft rock world. If their songs weren’t about falling in love, they were about falling out of love. Love, Love, Love. That’s what they were all about. And boy, did we enjoy that big time or what?! Most of the songs were sappy, but they were the best romantic game in town.

In Junior High, I went to a private school. Our class dances were not in an auditorium with a DJ. They were held in a classroom. Before the dance, we had to move the desks to the sides of the room. And our “DJ” was the mother of a classmate. She brought in a stereo that played cassettes and albums. The day of the first dance, she came in and told us that we could bring in any tapes or records for the dance. She said that she just did not want us to bring in “asinine” music. I still remember that as clear as day, because that was the first time I ever heard that word (hehe. She said “ass”. hehe) Anyway, I brought in my AC/DC Back in Black tape.
That’s not asinine! “Let Me Put My Love Into You” is a slow song! I still have the tape with my name written in pencil on the inside sleeve.

Anyway, I don’t believe we heard any AC/DC that night. But, every single slow song for the dance was Air Supply. I can’t remember who the first girl I ever danced with was. But I can tell you that it was to an Air Supply song.

They may be a guilty pleasure, but I don’t mind announcing to the world that I love Air Supply!! Well, love may be too strong, but I do really like them a lot.

With that, here is a list of my top 5 Air Supply songs:

5. The One That You Love

This was always one of my favorites. They had another song called “Here I Am“, and I would get confused with “The One That You Love”. Then I would be let down when it never got to the hook where Russell Hitchcock would sing “Here I am, the one that you love”. Am I the only one that got the 2 songs confused. I prefer this one much more:

4. All Out of Love

Powerful song. Graham Russell does an incredible job singing in this one. And then Russell Hitchcock kicks it up a notch with the chorus.

3. I Can Wait Forever

This song came out in 1984, and was in the movie Ghostbusters, and was on the Ghostbusters soundtrack. I never heard the song until a few years later, but I loved it and couldn’t get enough of it when I did hear it. The song was written by David Foster who produced songs by Chicago, Whitney Houston, Bryan Adams, and Olivia Newton John. I still love this song today:

2. Just As I Am

This song and the next are basically 1 and 1A for me. I had a hard time deciding on this one. The music is powerful, and the vocals are soaring and powerful.

1. Making Love Out of Nothing At All

Yeah, this has to be #1. Yet another powerful song. It starts slow and builds up. This song was written by musical genius Jim Steinman, who basically wrote all of Meat Loaf’s hits. Meat Loaf was actually offered this song along with “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. He turned them both down because they were not able to reach an agreement over finances. So Air supply got this song, and Bonnie Tyler got “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Tyler actually recorded this on her 1996 album Free Spirit.

So what do you think? Should Air Supply be considered a “Guilty Pleasure”? Am I alone in liking them, or are there other fans out there? What are your favorite Air Supply songs? And do you have any guilty pleasures you would like to see featured?

Music Video of the Week – 12/22/10

With the arrival of Duran Duran’s new album, All You Need Is Now, this week’s video is their smash hit, “The Reflex”:

“The Reflex” came off of Duran Duran’s 3rd album, 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger, and became a number 1 hit. The video was shot during the Sing Blue Silver tour at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario on March 5, 1984. Here are a couple of song facts from songfacts.com:

– At first, this song seems to have a very deep concept, but really the band just recorded it over a couple of bottles of wine. Simon Le Bon himself said he has no clue what it means.

– Duran Duran’s 1983 album Seven And The Ragged Tiger had already spawned two hit singles. Nick Rhodes had been convinced that “The Reflex” was purely an album track, though other band members thought it had potential. It wasn’t until they invited Niles Rogers re-mix it, that they decided to release the transformed version as a single. It became their first American chart-topper, and their second in the UK (“Is There Something I Should Know?” had been #1 in Britain the previous year).

– The band were asked in an interview with Q magazine (February 2008) whether they were sending themselves up when they recorded the Seven And The Ragged Tiger album, which was recorded at great expense over a period of several months in a French chateau and on the island of Montserrat. Bass player John Taylor replied: “I think so. I hated the procrastination of that album. It was approached like an old-school Dutch painting. Hours spent perfecting a cymbal sound. There was a lot of sitting around and I felt like a caged animal. I was drinking and looking for a way out really.” Singer Simon Le Bon added: “The title was supposed to be about us 7 (the 5 band members, plus their 2 managers) in this fairy tale, with the ragged tiger who was “fate” or “luck.” I don’t think anyone got it.”

Trivia Tuesday: 12/14/10

Question: In A Christmas Story, what did Ralphie want for Christmas? And what was the reason he was given (several times) that he should not get it?


Last Question: Who was the original lead singer for Journey?

Answer: Gregg Rolie

What a career Gregg Rolie has had. Before he formed Journey, he was in Santana, and was best known for being the lead vocalist on the hit “Black Magic Woman”. However, he had creative differences with Carlos Santana, so he left the band in 1971. In 1973, he joined former Santana guitarist Neal Schon in a band that would become Journey. Rolie was the lead singer and keyboard player. The band then took a different direction, and brought in Steve Perry as the lead singer, with Rolie singing backup. In 1980, after the Departure album, Rolie grew tired of the endless touring. So he left the band. Rolie recommended pianist Jonathan Cain of The Babys to replace him. And the rest is history.
Gregg released several solo albums. His self titled album in 1985 featured the song, “I Want to Go Back”, which would later become a hit for Eddie Money.
In 1991, Rolie formed a new group called The Storm which featured fellow former Journey members Steve Smith and Ross Valory. The band had a very similar sound to Journey, which was great. They had a top 10 hit with “I’ve Got A Lot To Learn About Love” from their first album, The Storm. They had a very good follow up album a few years later called The Eye of the Storm, which was also very good. Then Journey reformed with Steve Smith and Ross Valory, so that was the end of the Storm.
Gregg Rolie has his own band now called the Gregg Rolie Band.

December 8, 1980 – The Death of John Lennon

Monday, December 8, 1980, the legendary Beatle, John Lennon was murdered. The announcement came from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football (the New England Patriots vs. the Miami Dolphins):

John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman at Lennon’s home, The Dakota, in New York City. He had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where it was stated that nobody could have lived for more than a few minutes after sustaining such injuries. Shortly after local news stations reported Lennon’s death, crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of The Dakota. He was cremated on 10 December 1980, at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York; the ashes were given to Ono, who chose not to hold a funeral for him.

On the morning of December 8, photographer Annie Leibovitz went to Ono and Lennon’s apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone. She had promised Lennon a photo with Ono would make the cover. After the photo shoot, Lennon gave what would be his last interview to San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin for a music show on the RKO Radio Network. At 5:00 pm, Lennon and Ono left their apartment to mix the track “Walking on Thin Ice”, an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar, at Record Plant Studio.

As Lennon and Ono walked to their limousine, they were approached by several people seeking autographs, among them, Mark David Chapman. Chapman silently handed Lennon a copy of Double Fantasy, and Lennon autographed it.

John and Yoko then went back to the studio until 10:50 pm. Then John wanted to be home in time to say goodnight to five-year-old son Sean before he went to sleep. As he entered the Dakota, Chapman was waiting for him, and shot him in the back. Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Chapman pleaded guilty to Lennon’s murder in June 1981, against the advice of his lawyers, who wanted to file an insanity plea. He received a life sentence but under the terms of his guilty plea became eligible for parole in 2000, after serving 20 years. Chapman has been denied parole at hearings every two years since 2000 and remains in prison.

Lennon continues to be mourned throughout the world and has many memorials and tributes, such as New York City’s Strawberry Fields, a memorial garden area in Central Park across the street from the Dakota building. Ono later donated $1 million for its maintenance. It has become a gathering place for tributes on Lennon’s birthday and on the anniversary of his death, as well as at other times of mourning, such as after the September 11 attacks and following George Harrison’s death on November 29, 2001.

I remember listening to my parents’ Beatles albums non-stop for a while after John Lennon’s death. I could not get enough of the Help! album as well as Rubber Soul. I have been a Beatles fan ever since then. The Beatles have had a major influence on most artists, even through today. The Beatles were boy band predecessors for New Kids on the Block, all the way to the Jonas Brothers (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing). They had a major influence on Alternative/New Wave rock (especially with the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), and also had a major influence on Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (The White Album). And they were all great singer/songwriters.

Rolling Stone magazine is marking the anniversary of John’s death by releasing Lennon’s final interview. It was conducted just three days before his death.

During the interview, Lennon slammed critics saying they want “dead heroes” like James Dean and Sid Vicious. Lennon said he was not interested in being anyone’s “dead hero.”

Well John did have a sense of humor, so I wonder what he would think.
It is a shame that a peaceful man died in such a violent way. And it is also sad for all of us because he had so much more to contribute.
But the music he did write and perform will live forever.

In closing, here is an editorial piece by Yoko Ono that was published today in the New York Times:


John Lennon

I don’t remember how I heard that John Lennon had been shot. Thirty years ago, on a warm December night in Manhattan, it was suddenly in the air, on the street — with only a brief, grim gap between news of the shooting at the Dakota, on 72nd Street and news of his death at Roosevelt Hospital. I called my brother in California and then sat in the stairwell of a building at 27th and Third, numb and grieving, like everyone else.

It was a new kind of death — not a political assassination like the ones that claimed the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr.; not the self-immolation that took down Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison. Lennon survived the ’60s and ’70s, and by 1980 he was living in New York City as normally, as modestly, as he and his wife, Yoko Ono, could. Then a deranged young man, Mark David Chapman, found a secular scripture in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and shot Lennon in hopes of becoming Holden Caulfield.

Every day I’m at The Times, I pass a photo of the Beatles taken at a press conference during one of their early visits to New York. In the picture, Lennon’s hands are folded behind him, and he stands, with the other Beatles, in a corona from the press lights. Invariably, it reminds me of the famous portrait Annie Leibovitz shot the morning of the day Lennon was killed — the one where he is lying naked, fetal, clinging to Yoko Ono, the ridge of his back so terribly exposed.

We remember what we remember of Lennon, and of that night. When I was young, he was the only adult that mattered outside my family — the Beatle of Beatles. I loved his wit; his irony; his “Help!”; his urgent, reedy voice; his unceasing transformations. Like everyone else who loved him, I can’t help grieving, even now, for all the transformations we lost 30 years ago when John Lennon was only 40.

Captain EO

Well, I could not resist. While in Epcot this past Monday, I found time to go see Captain EO. I actually don’t regret seeing it. Of course, it was no Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Splash Mountain, or Tower of Terror, but it was kind of cute. Some parts were very cool, and some parts were really stupid.
For those of you who may not know, Captain EO is a 3D movie (although I think this is technically a 4D movie), starring Michael Jackson, that was released in the Disney parks in 1986, and ran through the mid-90s.
After Michael Jackson died, as with his music, interest in Captain EO was renewed. Disney reopened Captain EO in Disneyland on February 23, 2010, Disneyland Paris on June 12, 2010, Tokyo Disney on July 1, and in Epcot on on July 2. I’m not sure about the other parks, but the Epcot version replaced the 3D movie “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” (which had replaced Captain EO in the first place).
Captain EO was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and also starred Anjelica Huston, who played the Supreme Leader. Also, George Lucas was the executive producer. The pre-show was the same exact pre-show from 1986. It just basically showed scenes of a very young Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas working, preparing to film the movie. And it showed the secondary characters getting their makeup put on.

**Spoiler Alert – Don’t read the description if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled**

The movie tells the story of Captain EO (Michael Jackson) and the ragtag crew of his spaceship on a mission to deliver a gift to “The Supreme Leader”, of a world of rotting, twisted metal and steaming vents.
The movie starts with a space battle, which was the best part in my opinion. You can definitely tell that George Lucas had a major influence on this. And what made this even better was the 4-D experience that I mentioned earlier. As the ship is getting banged around, it feels like you are in the ship because the whole theater shakes and bangs around. It wasn’t like a motion ride, but it was just enough to make it really cool. During this space battle you meet all the characters of Captain EO’s crew. Again, you can tell that Lucas had a hand in this, because you feel like you’ve seen these characters in Star Wars’ Cantina. The crew consists of his small flying sidekick Fuzzball, the double-headed navigator and pilot Idey (Debbie Lee Carrington) and Ody (Cindy Sorenson), robotic security officer Major Domo (Gary Depew), a small robot Minor Domo (who fits like a module into Major Domo), and the Jar-Jar Binks of Captain EO, the clumsy elephant-like shipmate Hooter (Tony Cox).

Separated at Birth?


Hooter from Captain EO

Max Rebo from Star Wars

After Captain EO and the gang wins their battle, they crash land, they are captured and meet the Supreme Leader. This is where the movie kind of falls of the deep end. The Supreme Leader sentences the crew to be turned into trash cans (!), and Captain EO to 100 years of torture in her deepest, darkest dungeon. Before being sent away, Captain EO tells the Supreme Leader that he sees the beauty hidden within her, and that he brings her the key to unlock it: his song, “We Are Here To Change The World”. As he is singing the song, Captain EO is zapping the robot bad guys with beams from his arms and hands, and turns them into human dancers. Although the idea is pretty ridiculous, the effects are awesome – especially for the time that this was created – and the music is great. You actually feel like you’re transported back to the ’80s. There are warriors swing whips, and you can feel them go by you.
Of course, Captain EO transforms all the bad guys, and gets to the Supreme Leader. He zaps her, transforming her into a beautiful woman, her lair into a peaceful Greek temple and the planet into a beautiful place.

A celebration breaks out to “Another Part of Me”, as EO and his crew triumphantly exit and fly off into space.

This was a nice nostalgic trip back to the ’80s. I would recommend seeing this once. I don’t think I would go back over and over, if at all. But it is worth seeing once.

Trivia Tuesday: 11/30/10

Question: What was the name of the program that aired on the Disney Channel in the late 80s/early 90s that featured musical performances as an integral part of the plot and show. The show featured pre-Party of Five Scott Wolf and Jennifer Love Hewitt as well as Martika.


Last Question: Who was the lead singer of Genesis before Phil Collins stepped into the role?

Answer: Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel founded Genesis in 1967 along with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart. In 1970, Phil Collins answered a Melody Maker classified ad for “…a drummer sensitive to acoustic music, and acoustic twelve-string guitarist” Genesis placed the ad after having already lost three drummers over two albums.

While Gabriel was the lead singer, Genesis became a flamboyant progressive rock band. Gabriel’s stage persona, led to tensions within the band. The breaking point came with the difficult pregnancy of Gabriel’s wife, Jill, and the subsequent birth of their first child, Anna. When he opted to stay with his sick daughter and wife, rather than record and tour, the resentment from the rest of the band led Gabriel to conclude that he had to leave the group. “Solsbury Hill”, Gabriel’s début single as a solo artist, was written specifically about his departure from Genesis. The song also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, reaching the Top 70, though it was recorded in 1976, and appeared on the ‘Car’ album in 1977.

Gabriel went on to further solo success with his groundbreaking music video for “Sledgehammer”, as well as the song “Big Time”, and my favorite Peter Gabriel song – “In Your Eyes”, which was featured in the movie Say Anything…