The Supremes

 

Today I’m going to go way, way, WAY back into musics past.  While doing my post on Janet Jackson last week, I learned during my research that she sampled a lot of music from some of the old Motown groups.  One of the sampled groups was The Supremes.  I didn’t know this at the time any of the songs came out.  But lately I’ve been going back and really listening to some of the old school groups and now I know where a lot of the music Janet used came from.

The Supremes are awesome!  They were lucky enough to be around during a time when music was pure.  They had fantastic voices.  The songs were short, sweet and to the point.  Knowing what I know now about how Motown ran back in the day, I’m not surprised they were so successful.

I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of Diana Ross, but I can’t take away how incredibly gifted she was.  Still, in my opinion,  having the group officially named Diana Ross and The Supremes was bullshit.  Like ‘hi, I’m Diana and these are my backup singers’.  Really?  I’d be pissed personally, but what can you do.

That aside, I loved the lineup with Ms. Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard.  Watching some videos of their performances back in the day, I am totally in love with how classy they portrayed themselves.  The long long matching dresses, the perfect hair(for that time period).  They were so beautiful.  They were ladies.  I think it’s a style that should totally make a comeback.

I think the first song of them that I heard and always sort of new was ‘Baby Love’.  For the longest time those were the only words in the song I knew.  I sang them when it was time and I’d fumble through the rest.  But learning what they were saying made the song that much better.  Karaoke is finally fun now that I don’t have to read the words.

I’m not gonna post too many of their videos.  But if you get a chance check out their greatest hits album.  This stuff is back when a time when music that was not 100% great did not make it out of the recording studio.  When everyone put effort into their craft and worked tirelessly to put out a quality product.  There is not one of their songs that I don’t like.  It speaks volumes when I’d prefer to listen to them than anyone who is out right now.

Teena Marie

I was at work last night and once again they left the radio on an oldies station.  I love when they have the oldies on.  It makes my nights go by faster cause I can groove while I’m working.  And it might just be me, but the people appear to be more mellow when this type of music is on as opposed to the hip hop stations.

So last night I was just standing at my station, vacantly staring into space, when a Teena Marie song came on.  Good Lord I miss that woman.  She was a phenomenal talent.  I always marvel at the little ladies who have big voices.  I laugh when I hear how many people thought she was black back in the day.

So “Square Biz” is playing and I snap out of my vacant haze in preparation to rap along with her during the break down.  Her line about collard greens and hot water cornbread always, ALWAYS gave me the giggles cause I wonder what made her want to add that to the song.  What did it have to do with anything?  It just was silly, but the song is still great and I love it.

Imagine my joy when about 2 hours later I got hit with “Lover Girl”.  I wish I could sing just so I can hit the notes for when she tells us that ‘All I wanna do is, BE YOUR ONE AND ONLY LOVER’!  I don’t know how she did it, but this is my favorite part of the song.  Instead of singing with finesse like her, I just do it louder and it sounds awful.  How does she do it?  It’s…just not fair!

I was so sad when I heard that she died.  It’s like all the music from artist that I both loved and respected are just dying off.  It’s like my childhood is dying along with them.  Luckily I have her music on disc and on mp3.  So she will live on forever through the great music she left behind.  She will be missed.

For those who haven’t heard of her music I would pick up her greatest hits cd and listen to all her most popular songs.  They’re magical.  She was one of the greatest vocalists and musicians that ever lived.  I’d like to think of her in Heaven now singing duets with Rick James again.

Janet

Like a lot of people of my generation I grew up idolizing Janet Jackson.  To me she had everything.  Great song, killer dance moves and epic music videos.  There weren’t too many black female artists around back then, so right there she had that relatability factor.  And as a little girl she projected to me this…aura of uncontrollable awesomeness that I really I wanted to obtain, but knew I never would.  The woman’s got too many albums, so I’m just going to talk about the ones that impacted me as precocious kid to young adult.

My first experience of Janet was thanks to one of my aunts when she played the “Control” album for me on her record player.  Yes!  Records!  Vinyl!!  In those days we listened to the whole body of work.  And what an awesome body of work it was.  I believe the song that was most popular with my aunt and therefore me was “What Have You Done For Me Lately”.  I think she was going through some things.  lol

Now while this album is fantastic in its entirety, the record that I remember loving on the strength of my own opinion was “Rhythm Nation 1814”.  I remember very vividly the videos for both “Rhythm Nation” and “Miss You Much”.  Those video were recorded and watched over and over and over.  I was compelled and determined to learn those dance moves.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a dancer, but with Janets videos, the thought of not being able to move like her was unacceptable to my 10 year old mind.  Unthinkable even!  I learned though.  I sure did.  I was so proud of myself.  But looking at these videos now, I’m questioning where the hell I got the energy for it.  Jeez!  I’m pretty sure now I’d break something.  I also question why the dancers were wearing gun holsters?  Hmm.

It would be a few years before Janet came back to knock my socks off yet again.  When I was 14(3rd year of my troubled period) she came out with “Janet.”  This album spoke to me just as “Rhythm Nation” had, but on an entirely different level.  The video “If” was an awakening for me.  While I was as intrigued as ever by her dancing skills and the choreography, I was more drawn this time to her look.  The beginning when she steps out and the red drapes are flying and she looked fantastic.  I was blown away!  You could tell point-blank that she was completely comfortable with who she was and what she was doing.  She was sexy.  She knew it and didn’t care who wasn’t ok with it.

As I said, this was during my troubled period.  I was an awkward, unsociable and at the time, I thought, a very ugly girl.  Watching her be comfortable in her own skin was something I wanted more than anything in the world.  Before I wanted to be just like her.  This time around I wanted to BE her.  But confidence like that would elude me for years to come.  This album has since been my favorite.  No I did not understand every song at the time. What does a 14 year old know about “Anytime Anyplace”?  It was still an inspiring and entertaining album.

In 1997 Janet came out with The Velvet Rope.  By the time this came out I was in my first semester of college.  I don’t know if it was because I was no longer an impressionable youth or I wasn’t paying as much attention to television, but this album while fantastic, didn’t impact me quite like the previous one.  My favorite track on the album is “Go Deep”, though it’s the ultimate party song and I didn’t party back then and definitely not now.  But the one that really struck a chord in me and made me realize I will always appreciate Janet and her music was “Got Til It’s Gone”.  Out of every song of hers, this one was perfection.  This song then and now soothes my soul for reasons I can’t explain.  I groove to it often.

Janet is still a staple in my music library.  She came out with four albums after “Velvet Rope”.  But as a busy adult I don’t do the video hound thing like I did as a kid.  Now days I just listen to the music and appreciate it for what it is.  She has come up with some great ones too.  I wonder how many more she’s got left in her.  If she pulls off a Tina Turner that will be pretty damn impressive.

Though I doubt she will.  She doesn’t have to.  In many eyes she’s already immortal.  Her music and her style has been duplicated to death, but no one is ever going to be able to touch what she’s done no matter what.  There are too many artist out there trying to be the ‘next’ Janet Jackson.  It makes me laugh.  Go ahead and take what you’ve learned from her and blaze your own trail.  Don’t try to copy perfection.  You’ll only look like a poser and set yourself up for failure.  That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

As for me, I may have to credit her along with my parents for raising me.  Her music was there for me to soothe my hurt.  It inspired me to try to be my best.  It made me think.  It entertained me.  And best of all it’s giving me some very fond memories that I’ll be able to look back on and smile about for the rest of my life.  Thanks Ms. Jackson.  That’s what you’ve done for me.  Lately and always.

Male Vocal Groups New Edition

So I’m sitting here thinking about what the heck I’m going to spew about this time when divine intervention was bestowed upon me.  A song from New Edition came on and I was filled with maniacal glee.  So let’s look into this devastatingly awesome male vocal group, shall we?

Remember the post I did on another Boston-based male vocal group.  If not, check it out.  You can’t speak on 80s boy groups without speaking of New Edition.  For me, these guys are the ultimate. The front-runners.  The model! Good God did I love them.  Correction I DO love them.

Sure they came into popularity when I was only 4 but that’s inconsequential.  I ran around belting out “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now” as only my little girl self knew how.  Did I care about the lyrics?  Did I even know what they meant?  Of course not.  All I know was that the singing was awesome, the music was awesome and I thought I could sing it, therefore the songs were awesome. And I was awesome!  Unfortunately looking back, once again the bad 80s fashion retrospect is unkind.

I don’t remember the first time I heard “Can You Stand The Rain”.  All I know that out of every song they’ve got out, this is my favorite.  It soothes me.  It actually helps me kick start my imagination/deep thought process.  I listen to it when I feel the need to write.  It’s weird.  But I’m weird, so yeah.

Not gonna go into group history or lineup changes or anything like that.  That’s why God invented wikipedia.  But like other successful entities, they weren’t without their undesirable quirks.  Like the fact that they’re dirty Celtics/Red Sox fans (Los Angeles fan here).  And yes,  I have fun beefin’ with a couple of them during basketball season.  But musically, in my opinion they can do no wrong.

Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny(I LOVE me some Johnny! Mmmmm!!)  just have the right mix of vocal talent, appeal, subject matter, and music that has kept them staples in my music playlist to today.  And they are still going strong.  Please, please, please keep making good music!  Anyone who for whatever reason has not heard any of their music, I urge you to check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.

Just for the record “Popcorn Love” was the divine intervention that kicked off my writing this.

Gaming top 10. 5-1

And here are again.  I’m going to continue with the list I started on the last post of my top 10 favorite game themes.  I’m sure by now with what I’ve posted so far you either think I’m pretty cool or pretty nuts.  Both are true so you’ll be right either way.

As I said last time, I am fully aware that what I have listed here would probably not register on anyone elses should they decided to do a list of their own.  So I can’t stress enough that this is MY top 10 faves and this is strictly my favorites.  And it’s my blog so I can have whatever the hell I want.  Anyway, lets get a move on shall we.

05.  Go Straight Streets of Rage is one of the greatest series of games, ever.  Period.  That is all.  Though there is much debate on which of the three games had the best music in it, I prefer SoR 2.  Mainly due to this theme.  It’s the first theme you hear at level one and it is INCREDIBLE!  It just gets you in the frame of mind for kicking some serious bad guy butt.  At least it does that for me.  Yuzo Koshiro earned his street cred with this soundtrack.  From what I heard after the release of this game, he was extended various personal invitations from clubs to come and DJ for them.  That’s hot!

04.  Corneria I love the original Star Fox.  The graphics looking back were atrocious and yet that didn’t matter.  The game was 1000% greatness.  This theme was something that I hadn’t heard in almost 10 years.  When Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out and they had this song in it, I was a kid all over again.  Listening to it gave me those nostalgic warm fuzzies.  For me the memory of me flying that plane like it was something I was born to do is a cherished one.

03.  Xavier / Ryu Yes! There are two here.  I couldn’t decide which I loved more.  The decision was too painful so they both get the three spot.  I talked about Eternal Champions a couple weeks ago.  One of the most interesting and entertaining fighting games I’ve ever played.  As I said, this game could have stood up next to Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter if it had been given the chance.  As a kid, this music and the level that goes with it kinda creeped me out.  The storyline for this particular character was profoundly disturbing, but yet he was my favorite.  And a huge part of that was the music.  I spent a lot of time playing on his level just to hear this.  Ryu from Street Fighter is just awesome and manly.  I don’t even need to talk about it, just listen to it.

02.  Super Metroid To this day I have not played a Metroid game.  Not due to lack of trying I can tell you that.  I discovered this music either last year or earlier this year when I was watching a youtube video and they had this song playing in the background and I had to find it and listen to it.  I can literally feel the epicness in this music.  This is the kind of music that great heros get to have.  How can you not be destined for greatness with theme music like this?

01.  Molgera  There will never be a gaming list made by me where Legend of Zelda will be absent.  Those who truly know me is fully aware that this is my favorite series.  And this music is my favorite from the series.  I love all the music, but this I can and have listened to on loop for hours on end and got goosebumps every single time.  To me, this is so lively and awesome and I do dance to it.  The flute is what gets me and that ‘chica chica chica chica’ that you can kinda here in the background.  I love this song so much you have no idea.

And there you have it.  My favorite bits of game music awesomeness.  How different is it from yours?  Tell me, I’d like to see it.  I’m sure it’s fascinating.

Gaming top 10. 10-6

 

Ok, so I was doing my normal Youtube cruise and decided to catch up on some ScrewAttack.com videos.  As usual I ran through their various top 10 lists.  Some I had already seen.  This one I hadn’t seen.  And it got me to thinking.  What’s MY top 10?

Now watching this video, I totally do not disagree with about 60% of it.  They pretty much got the ultimate themes of video game history.  Some I never played and can make no judgement.  Some of what they got on there made me scratch my head tho.  But as Craig said, everyone’s list is going to be different.

Now I’ve done a post about some NES themes that are just epic and classic, but for this list I’m going to span all the game music that I know and list my personal favorites as of this moment in time.  In keeping with how they did their list, I’m sticking to one piece of music per franchise.  And also like them, this is damn hard to do.  Since I’m gonna talk about them I’m gonna split this into two post so it won’t be too long.  Ok, here we go.

10.  Bruno’s Theme While I’m not a Pokemon fan, I do LOVE playing Pokemon Puzzle League.  It’s Tetris with cuddly animal things.  You don’t get to hear this theme til almost the end of the line.  Depending on what mode you’re in he’s the last boss or second to last.  It gets me so pumped.  Though I hate it when it gets into panic mode and speeds up, then I start getting angry.  It’s not a pretty sight.

09.  Jungle Theme I know I’ve mentioned before that I love this theme.  So here it is again for those who didn’t know or forgot.  This is a nostalgic piece for me.  I remember the first time I played Contra.  Falling out of the sky and going freaking commando on the enemies as best as possible with that crappy bubble shooter the game starts you with.  Then you get hit with that magic S and awarded with that spreader gun and you know things are about to get real.  Good times!

08.  All Star Intro I love this music.  Listen to it and tell me you don’t feel instantly soothed and relaxed.  I need to find a way to make it loop for about five or so minutes and I’ll have the perfect meditation tune.  For the time being I have to loop it the old fashion way.

07.  Aquatic Ruin Zone Come on!  How could you NOT expect to see at least one Sonic the Hedgehog theme?  I love Sonic 2.   Sonic 1 was ok, but Sonic 2 was the deal for me.  This level and it’s music was a big part of that.  All the music on this game if fantastic.  But once I learned how to skip levels I always came here.  I just love this part.  I played it over and over just to hear the music.  Even now, I think I can play this level with my eyes shut.

06.  K.K. Cruisin  I don’t understand what this character is trying to say.  And quite frankly I don’t give a damn.  This is just too awesome.  If it’s that serious I’ll make up some lyrics if the gibberish bugs you that much.  I can play this on guitar.  Not fluently or well, but I can get the notes.  I have this on my ipod.  Damn straight I do and I groove to it frequently.

Freaked out yet?  Or maybe confuse?  Or even outraged?  Awesome!  The top five will really make you scratch your head.  Or headbutt something.  Let me know what you think.  What’s your top 10?  Think you can guess my top five?  We’ll see! That’s for Thursday.  See you then.

Just dance

What is it about certain songs that make you just want to jump up and dance like crazy?  Is it the music?  The bass?  The lyrics of the song?  What is it that hits that switch within us that tells us we gotta move and groove?  I know that I can’t dance, well not any more, but sometimes I can’t help myself and I’ll pretend until the song is over.

In my mind, I’m a dancing machine.  I can move and shake and drop it like it’s hot and all that.  In real life, not so much.  I did used to dance in high school, but that was choreographed.  I never could freestyle it.  Which made me the permanent wallflower whenever I went out.

But at home, while cleaning or just chilling in my room, I don’t have to be self conscience about it.  I can look as goofy and uncoordinated and not be ashamed of myself.

I mention this because I almost embarrassed myself at work.  I work front desk at a gym.  However I work the 3rd shift so there isn’t that much to do or many people to deal with.

We have a radio that the company provides all the facilities and sometimes we get blessed with a great music station.  Don’t know how it happens and I won’t question Gods blessings.  But on this particular night the song “Make It Rain” came on.  Everything and I mean everything about this song is stupid as hell.  It’s the kind of song that makes me lament where hip hop is going.  But that beat and that bass line spoke to me.  It literally spoke.  It called my name and asked me to dance.

And dance I did.  At the desk.  I must have been moving pretty good cause people where walking past yelling ‘go ‘head girl’.  I wasn’t really paying that much attention to the people who actually stopped and watched me.  I was in the moment and I was owning it.  It was awesome.

I felt dumb afterwards, but for that three and a half minutes I was the dancing queen dancing to the dumbest song with the greatest beat.