Music Monday – Volume Twenty-One

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1)      Beady Eye – The morning son

So dreamy and such a beautiful song. Liam Gallagher is awesome.

2)      The 1975 – Intro/Set3

Understated opening track to their ‘Sex’ EP. Smooth and jittery, building up to an awesome R&B track. Got a great groove and some sick beats.

3)      Take That – Today I’ve lost you

Somehow this beautiful and underrated track managed to escape my iTunes. After coming across it again on Spotify, I have fallen head over heels back in love with it again. It’s so soft, so stunning and Gary Barlow’s vocals are silky smooth. A perfect Barlow-ballad.

4)      Pharrell Williams – Fun, fun, fun

Pharrell is just a genius. After watching ‘Despicable Me’ I was reminded of what a truly great, uplifting song this is. The harmonies are amazing and I love the summery, happy feel of the song.

5)      S Club Juniors – Automatic High

Massive guilty pleasure – both the pop-group and the song! Reminds me of being very young. Irresistibly catchy.

6)      Prince – Better with time

Such a beautiful, romantic little song.

(Not available to share due to Prince being highly irritating and not allowing much of his music to be on YouTube)

7)      David Archuleta – Crush

Someone reminded me of this song again recently and how damn good it is! Reminds me of being fourteen and listening to it over and over again. Bit of cheesy pop at its best. Lyrics are easy to relate to. One of the best chorus’ in a pop song ever.

8)      Kelly Rowland – Daylight

Really underrated Kelly track. So damn catchy and uplifting.

9)      Stardust – Music sounds better with you

Bloody repetitive but SO damn good. Catchy as hell. One of the best dance tracks ever released.

10)   MN8 – Dreaming

One of the soppiest, cheesiest but most beautiful romantic songs by a boyband ever. Not many would be familiar with this song but it’s gorgeous.

Why “Rudebox” is a bloody awesome album

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When I am asked, from time to time, my favourite Robbie Williams album, I confidently reply ‘Rudebox’. The response is often one of confusion. “But that song is awful!” “But he didn’t work with Guy Chambers on it!” “But he *gasps* RAPS on it!”. Yeah I know. Somewhere after Rudebox, ‘Escapology’ and ‘I’ve been expecting you’ follow closely but Rudebox is my favourite and here’s why.

‘Rudebox’ was released in 2006, just a year after Williams’ previous release, the rather uninspiring ‘Intensive Care’ (the singles were phenomenal, the album itself just fell a bit flat). Released around the same time as the newly reformed Take That were releasing their first album of new material in over ten years, the incredible ‘Beautiful World’, there was a lot of pressure on ‘Rudebox’. From this fact alone, this album was always going to have a tough ride. The press wanted a battle – Williams vs Take That. There needn’t have been one as both albums are completely different, opposite, in fact. They are both my favourite albums by each artist. ‘Rudebox’ was a journey into new territory for Robbie, venturing into electronica, techno and a little hip hop. When Williams’ image hardly represented this image and brand, of course there was going to be a bit of an unsettled response. Robbie Williams doing techno?! Robbie Willams rapping?! It may sound bizarre but if you give it a chance and don’t take the album too seriously, it works.

The album was the subject of great controversy before and during its release. Ex Take That manager Nigel Martin Smith threatened legal action over ‘The 90’s, in which Robbie accused his ex-manager of pocketing profits: (“Either you’re a thief or you’re shit, which one will you admit to? Such an evil man, I used to fantasise about taking a Stanley knife and playing around with your eyes.”) Martin-Smith demanded the song be removed from the album although, thankfully, it remained on the album, slightly modified with an instrumental break replacing the offensive lyrics. Ashley Hamilton claimed he had co-written ‘She’s Madonna’ but had not received any writing credit. It is not known what came of this in the end.

A still from the music video for 'Rudebox'

A still from the music video for ‘Rudebox’

Unfortunately, most people judge the album by lead single ‘Rudebox’. ‘Rudebox’ is, safe to say, not Robbie’s best work. In fact, it’s pretty awful but it’s so awful, it’s good. With lyrics such as ‘TK Maxx costs less, Jackson looks a mess’ and ‘sing a song of semtex, pocket full of durex, body full of mandrex’, it’s a wonder it ever received airplay with its seemingly blatant product-endorsement. That said, it oozes charm in a way only Robbie can convey. It’s genius but hideous both at the same time.  The issue is, ‘Rudebox’ should not have been the lead single, the song to represent the album. It was received so poorly (yet still performed well on the UK singles chart) that many didn’t bother listening to or purchasing the album, expecting it to be in the same vein as its lead single. Whilst the majority of songs share the same electronic roots as ‘Rudebox’, there are many much more worthy songs and potential single choices on the album.

 

“It has become something on which I’ve found myself. This is the right direction for me personally, this is what it is. I saw the whole Robbie thing coming to a close as it was, I couldn’t make another album like the ones I’d made, and this has just opened up a thousand other doors. What I am excited about now is making more music. I love all the stuff on the album, I love Rudebox, it’s a favourite song of mine. I don’t know what’s gonna happen now, I’m excited about getting it out there, but I’m more excited about making more.”

- Robbie Williams speaking of the album prior to its release

Robbie in drag for the 'She's Madonna' music video

Robbie in drag for the ‘She’s Madonna’ music video

The western-techno suffused ‘Viva life on Mars’ is catchy and far more credible than ‘Rudebox’. It’s a song that could have fit (slightly re-worked) comfortably, on another Williams album. ‘Lovelight’, a cover of a Lewis Taylor track glistens. Mark Ronson’s R&B infused production, Robbie’s fluttering falsetto and the limited instrumentation gel together beautifully to create a cover far superior the original and a fine R&B track. ‘She’s Madonna’ is a genius techno track co-written and produced by The Pet Shop Boys and is a tongue-in-cheek dig at Guy Ritchie (Ritchie reportedly uttered the words ‘but face it, she’s Madonna’ when informing his previous girlfriend he was leaving her for the famous megastar). It’s an amazingly underrated track and one of the highlights on ‘Rudebox’. The accompanying video of Williams in drag was just as amusing as the song’s conception and is something that only Williams would be able to pull off. ‘The Actor’ is apparently an expression of Robbie’s dissatisfaction with and annoyance of egotistical actors in America. Then there’s ‘Never touch that switch’, a funky-as-hell techno track that creates an aura of paranoia and forbidden activities. Squeaky synthesisers, a punchy bass line and a soft rap, it’s daring and it’s bloody cool.

The trendy and rather futuristic music video for 'Lovelight'

The trendy and rather futuristic music video for ‘Lovelight’

‘Keep on’ and ‘Good doctor’, two more electronic songs in which Robbie raps, similarly to ‘Rudebox’ are less credible but just as witty and catchy. ‘Keep On’ features Robbie crooning ‘hotel, motel, holiday inn’ and features backing vocals by Lily Allen. It’s actually one of my favourite tracks off ‘Rudebox’. ‘Good Doctor’ is a comical insight into Robbie’s prescription drug addiction at the time (he checked into rehab just months later). This track is perhaps where Robbie’s rapping works best. The lyrics are ingenious and the rhymes are wondrous.

 

Two of the highlights on ‘Rudebox’ are two songs called ‘The 80’s’, and ‘The 90’s’.  These tracks are two bookends documenting Robbie’s attitudes of being a teenager growing up in the 1980’s and his time in Take That during the 1990’s. Some of the lyrical content in ‘The 80’s is questionable and a little cringe-y (“Me so horny, me so young, and I still get my washing done. Auntie Jo died of cancer, God didn’t have an answer, rhythm was a dancer…”) but it still works well. ‘The 90’s’ is far superior, however. Another of my favourites from ‘Rudebox’, it’s catchy, frank, and witty in a way that makes Williams as loveable as he is. By the line ‘and the truth be told, I wasn’t fit enough to stay, so I put my head down and walked away’, you are left with much more sympathy than you could ever feel for Williams in any of his anti-Take That interviews. Whilst he may still be slightly pessimistic about his time in the boyband, there’s some acceptance of responsibility and we understand more how Robbie must have felt.

The covers work well too, ‘Louise’, a cover of a song by The Human League, is exceptionally faithful to the original with glossy, electronic production by William Orbit to bring it into the 21st century. ‘Kiss me’, a cover of Stephen Duffy’s 1980 track, also works well and lifts the album back up after the rather lacklustre ‘Burslem Normals’. ‘We’re the pet shop boys’, another cover isn’t as successful & ‘Bongo Bong and Je Ne T’aime Plus’ is a slightly weird affair. These three tracks are the only ones which could have been perhaps cut from the album.

The album comes to a close with a stunning version of a song called ‘Summertime’. The song had appeared a few years earlier during the credits of ‘Mike Bassett: England Manager’, but thanks to a make-over by William Orbit, the song is greatly improved and has a fantastic smooth, summery feel to it.

 

Since Robbie’s triumphant return with the ‘Take The Crown’ and ‘Swings both ways’ album, he has been less than complimentary about his 2006 effort (although he did defend parts of it in a blog entry in 2013). It saddens me that Rob would dismiss his album in such a way when in all fairness, it’s a bloody good album and so much work must have gone into it. I understand it’s not a conventional Robbie album and perhaps at times it lacks credibility. But what it lacks in credibility it makes up for in charm, charisma, boldness and an enjoyable listening experience. Every artist needs to diversify in their career to remain relevant and to explore new territories to avoid losing their appeal. And that’s why I defend ‘Rudebox’ and that is why it remains my favourite Robbie Williams album.

 

 

 

“Rain” playlist

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Another edition of one of my playlists, after the storms and torrential rain most of us in the UK experienced last night, I thought I’d create a playlist of the best songs to listen to in the rain/storms. Some are obviously linked due to them including water-related words in the titles whilst others just sound ace during a storm!

1)      Eminem – Stan

2)      Madonna – Rain

3)      Take That – Back for good

4)      U2 – Electrical Storm

5)      Gene Kelly – Singing in the rain

A few versions of this are fantastic, obviously the original, Jamie Cullum’s interpretation is wonderful & the Mint Royale remix is ace.

6)      Cheryl Cole – Rain on me

7)      Duffy – Rain on your parade

A dramatic, powerful rain-themed song.

8)      John Mayer – Covered in rain

9)      Sting – After the rain has fallen

10)   Prince – Purple rain

11)   Phil Collins – I wish it would rain down

12)   Roxette – Waiting for the rain

13)   The Weather Girls.Geri Halliwell – It’s raining men

14)   Craig Armstrong – Weather storm

15)   Jessie J – Thunder

16)   Phil Collins – Thunder and lightning

17)   Will Young – Personal Thunder

18)   Travis – Why does it always rain on me

19)   Adele – Set fire to the rain

20)   Guns n Roses – November Rain

21)   Katy Perry – Double rainbow

22)   Eurythmics – Here comes the rain again

23)   Leo Sayer – Thunder in my heart

24)   James Morrison – Please don’t stop the rain

25)   Gary Barlow – Lie to me

26)   Seal – Just like before

27)   Roxette – Queen of rain

28)   Take That – Let it rain

29)   Barry Manilow – I made it through the rain

30)   Cheryl Cole – The flood

31)   Take That – The flood

32)   The Wanted – Lightning

33)   Robbie Williams – No Regrets

34)   Stevie Nicks – Outside the rain

35)   Lawson – Waterfall

36)   Rihanna – Umbrella

37)   The 1975 – Antichrist

38)   Andy Williams  – Raindrops keep falling on my head

39)   The Carpenters – Rainy day and Mondays

40)   SWV – Rain

Music Monday – Volume Twenty

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1)      5SOS – Don’t stop

I do think this band is very overrated. Having said that, this song is irresistibly catchy and I do enjoy hearing it on the radio very much.

2)      Usher – Good Kisser (Disclosure Remix)

Those that follow me on Twitter will know how much I love this song through my excessive tweeting about it. I’ve also already included this track in one of my previous editions of Music Monday but this is slightly different as it’s the Disclosure remix. I love the Disclosure boys – their debut album is amazing, their songs are fantastic and their remixes are awesome. Love this.

 

3)      Chris Braide – Last great hope for mankind

You may not have heard of him but Chris Braide is the writer of many well-known and much loved songs. He’s one of my favourite song-writers. Along with his writing, he has also released a handful of his own material on a collection of albums. I love this song and how happy it is.

(Unfortunately there are no videos on YouTube for this – Spotify or iTunes it if you can!)

4)      Lady Antebellum – Can’t take my eyes off you

I’ve always loved Lady Antebellum’s single releases but this week I decided to check out their albums. I fell in love with a lot of songs, the harmonies, chord structures and country-feel to each song but I especially loved this one.

5)      Jess Glynne – Birthday/I wanna be your lover (Live in the Radio 1 Live Lounge)

Jess Glynne is definitely an artist to watch. She was lead vocalist on Clean Bandit’s awesome song ‘Rather be’ and also on Route 94′s ‘My love’. This was a live version of Katy Perry’s amazing track, ‘Birthday’ which in itself was already great. But then she mixed it up with some of Prince’s ‘I wanna be your lover’ and made it even more crazy. Awesome.

6)      Nerina Pallot – Learning to breathe

This is a wonderful song. After re-discovering ‘Sophia’, I decided to check out the album the track was from. I loved all of the songs but I really fell in love with this song. Catchy and emotive chorus.

7)      Nerina Pallot – Sophia

This song gives me lots of fond memories. I loved it upon its release back in 2006 and I remember listening to it in the car on my way home from school during my first few weeks of secondary school. It’s an absolutely gorgeous song and I love it very much. Nerina Pallot is amazing.

8)      Bipolar Sunshine – Deckchairs on the moon

I keep hearing this on the radio and I love it. I love the piano and how summery/space-y it feels. Very electronic and catchy. One of the best new tracks I’ve heard in a while.

9)      Lower than Atlantis – Here we go

This is quite a heavy track for me to like but I’m really loving this!

10)    Oasis – Guess God thinks I’m abel

I love the guitar and chord structure on this track. Awesome song

Music Monday – Volume Nineteen

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1)      The Jacksons – 2300 Jackson Street

A little-known single released by The Jacksons in 1989 when Michael had left the band. This album was pretty underrated in my opinion. It’s a shame it didn’t fare better in the charts. This is a gorgeous song that Michael contributed vocals to and it’s so soulful & smooth.

2)      Samantha Ronson – Built this way

Yes, I watched Mean Girls & this played pretty much all the way through so I kinda found myself liking it!

3)      Fat Larry’s Band – Zoom

So summery. Love this.

4)      Fleetwood Mac – Sara

God, I love Fleetwood Mac! Stevie Nicks’ voice is divine and this is an amazing song.

5)      Fleetwood Mac – Family Man

Catchy as hell, this is an awesome song.

6)      Robbie Williams – Monsoon

A shamefully honest song that could be written and performed by no-one else other than Mr Robbie Williams. Such a powerful, awesome song.

7)      Robbie Williams – Feel

Hauntingly beautiful – that piano introduction and the lyrics are just beautiful. “Come and hold my hand, I wanna contact the living” – what a line. One of the best lyrics ever written.

8)      The Vamps – Somebody to you

The more I hear by The Vamps, the more I love them. Love this song.

9)      Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

I watched the 1998 movie ‘Stepmom’ with Julia Roberts the other day and this song was played in the opening segment. One of my favourite Queen tracks, with that irresistible bass line (years before it was nicked by Vanilla Ice) and a fantastic duet between two amazing singers – Freddie Mercury & David Bowie.

10)   Thomas Newman – Any other name

‘American Beauty’ is one of my favourite films of all time and part of what makes it so appealing for me is Thomas Newman’s hauntingly beautiful score. ‘Any other name’ is a piece of music commonly played in media and it’s just stunning. One of my favourite pieces of music ever produced.

Music Monday – Volume Eighteen

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1)      Michael Jackson – Cry

One of Michael’s more understated and underrated tracks. Written by R.Kelly, this was the second and final single off what was to become MJ’s final studio album in his lifetime, 2001′s ‘Invincible’. It’s one of my favourite MJ songs and it’s such an uplifting beautiful track. In the same vein as ‘Man in the mirror’ and ‘Heal the world’, it’s an inspiring change-the-world song.

2)      Ed Sheeran – Afire love

This is so beautiful it’s unreal. Fell in love with this upon hearing it on the radio the other day. Ed is such an incredibly talented guy.

3)      Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream

‘X’ is an amazing album. I really love this track. It’s a little dark but it’s catchy. Interesting that Rudimental was involved in the creation of this track.

4)      Mark Morrison –Return of the Mack

An absolute classic. Heard it on the radio and was reminded what an awesome tune this is!

5)      Raleigh Ritchie – Stronger than ever

Love this. So powerful and emotive.

6)      Michael Jackson- Man in the mirror

Classic Michael Jackson song. I always loved it but the fact on the day of his death, this was being played everywhere, this song now has an even deeper meaning for me. Beautiful lyrics and a beautiful song.

7)      United we stand – What more can I give

Between 1999 and 2002, Michael Jackson organised an almost Part 2 of USA for Africa (who achieved major chart success in 1985 with ‘We are the world’.) Michael was inspired to write the song after meeting President Nelson Mandela in the last 90′s and was originally rumoured to perform it live at some of his concerts. The song was pushed aside, however, until the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks. Encouraged by a friend, Michael re-wrote the song and selected a team of A-list artists to contribute to the project. Artists such as Beyonce, Nsync, Celine Dion, Usher, Luther Vandross, Anastasia amongst others contributed vocals towards this incredibly beautiful song. They also performed it live at 2002′s ‘United We Stand’ charity performance. Ultimately, the song was never fully released as a singe. It’s a terrible shame when it’s such an incredible song.

8)      Blackstreet – Joy

An idea by Michael Jackson sparked this track off. Teddy Riley (producer of Michael’s Dangerous album) then took this idea and turned it into a full-blown song with his band Blackstreet. I love how smooth and soulful this is.

9)      Beady Eye – Kill for a dream

Beautiful little song. Love Beady Eye.

10)   Beady Eye – Soon come tomorrow

A haunting, dreamy little song. Great song.

The forgotten Michael Jackson songs. A Celebration of life through unreleased and rare songs.

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Today marks the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was and remains one of my musical and artistic idols and I was gutted at his death. These days, my obsession levels with the king of pop have decreased a little but he remains one of my heroes and I am still a huge, die-hard fan.

I thought I would share a playlist as a celebration of Michael’s contribution to music and the entertainment industry. This playlist is a collection of unreleased or little known tracks that I believe are as good as Michael’s released works. The aim is for those who haven’t heard these before to fall in love with at least one of them!

18 Greatest MJ unreleased tracks

1)      For all time

An absolutely gorgeous track. This surfaced on the internet many years ago before a remastered version was stuck on the release of Thriller 25. I’m not keen on the remastered version, however. There’s very little different about it but there’s some extra instrumentation that just seems to remove some of the magic from the low quality version that still exists.  I’ve embedded my preferred version!

2)      Love never felt so good

Technically it’s now released but not in Michael’s lifetime. This is an Off The Wall-era track which is so catchy and fantastic. I’ve embedded Michael’s original demo. Do love the new versions though, including the one with Justin Timberlake!

3)      Carousel

An outtake from Thriller. I really love the melody to this. I think it’s right that it wasn’t included on the final version of Thriller as it wouldn’t have fit in with the rest of the tracks but it’s a lovely song all the same.

4)      The way you love me

Two versions of this exist. The first appeared on the definitive Michael Jackson box set – 2004′s Ultimate Collection as a demo (which sounded like a finished product). I always loved this. It then appeared on the controversial posthumous album ‘Michael’ back in 2010. I love both versions. Just such a happy, beautifully written song. I’ve embedded the original demo

5)      Best of joy

It’s sickly sweet and a little repetitive but this is a gorgeous song that was included on the first posthumous MJ album, ‘Michael’ in 2010.

6)      Beautiful Girl

A smooth, soulful track that appeared on The Ultimate Collection back in 2004.

7)      Scared of the moon

Another beautiful song that appeared on The Ultimate Collection. Many fans aren’t as keen on this but I think it’s truly beautiful. It’s apparently an outtake from Bad.

8)      Trouble

An outtake from Thriller, this was eventually recorded by Musical Youth. SO catchy. It wouldn’t have fit in on Thriller, however.

Michael’s version:

Musical Youth’s version:

9)      Elizabeth I love you

Michael wrote this song and performed it for his friend Elizabeth Taylor at her 65th Birthday Gala in 1997. This was the only time we heard the song as a studio version isn’t known to exist. Beautiful, cleverly written song.

10)   I am a loser

A demo of this appeared around a year after Michael’s death. You can tell it’s not finished as it has very little instrumentation. Beautiful song, however.

11)   Xscape (Original version)

This appeared on the internet back in 2002. The version that appears on the latest posthumous MJ album is far inferior and an awful interpretation. Check out the original version. It’s funky, catchy and an MJ classic.

12)   What more can I give

A planned charity single written by Michael Jackson before Sony refused to release and promote it. It therefore never fully saw light of day. Plenty of stars on this – Nsync, Beyonce, Usher, Celine Dion, Michael himself amongst others. A truly beautiful song that should have been released.

13)   Joy

Gorgeous song co-written by Michael with his Dangerous album producer Teddy Riley. Michael wrote the melody and backgrounds before deciding he wasn’t happy with it. He gave permission for Teddy Riley to finish the song lyrically and record it with his band BlackStreet for their debut album in 1994.

Here’s the eventual version by Blackstreet:

And a snippet of Michael’s original idea:

14)   To Satisfy You

Another fantastic song co-written by Michael with Bryan Loren. Again, Michael wasn’t happy with this so he gave it to his co-writer who released it as a solo effort. Love how soulful this is and the use of the strings. The version on the net is sung by Bryan Loren with Michael singing the chorus.

15)   Mind is the magic

Written by Michael and Dangerous era collaborator Bryan Loren. Catchy as hell. It was written in 1989 before being re-written for German illusionists Siegfried and Roy for one of their stage shows.

16)   Someone put your hand out

A smooth and beautiful song written by Michael with Dangerous producer Teddy Riley for the Dangerous album. Found its way around thorough its inclusion on rare MJ releases.

17)   On the line

Gorgeous ballad which should have been released. Recorded for a Spike Lee movie but wasn’t featured on the soundtrack album. Written by Babyface (Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Beyonce and many more).

18)   We’ve had enough

Powerful song which found it’s way onto 2004′s Ultimate Collection. Dramatic and an awesome song.