62 thoughts on “Music 2019

  1. Weezer dropped an unannounced covers album today (surprise new albums are the new thing) and it’s rather wonderful. It is today’s leader for best album of 2019.

    Tracklist:
    Africa
    Everybody Wants to Rule the World
    Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
    Take on Me (YEEEESSSS)
    Happy Together
    Paranoid
    Mr. Blue Sky
    No Scrubs
    Billie Jean
    Stand by Me

    New albums tomorrow from Evergrey and Shovels and Rope, so it may be a short reign, but in the meantime:

    https://open.spotify.com/album/65sHj9PvsbyD0uugGHjueN

    1. I went into this expecting significant changes to the originals, and I think that’s a big reason I came away disappointed. Maybe if I knew the songs would be performed in a very similar fashion to the originals, I might have been able to enjoy this more.

      I will say that I came away with a greater appreciation for “No Scrubs,” and TLC in general.

    2. Yeah, you do like those significant changes. I like a band playing a cover in the way the band plays generally. These songs sound like Weezer and that’s a good sound!

      I agree about the TLC song.

      1. I like a band playing a cover in the way the band plays generally.

        This is a different issue, though, right? A band or musician can play a song–the way they normally play, i.e., in their style–and either play close to the original rendition or do something very different. EWF’s “Got to Get You Into My Life” would be an example of this.

        I’m not familiar with Weezer’s music, so maybe that’s factoring in, too, somehow.

        Now, I’m trying to think of covers that hew close to the original that I like. I think Kalapana’s “Real Thing” and Glenn Medeiros’s “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You” would be examples; and I might even like these versions better than the originals. I’m sure there are others, but those are two that come to mind first.

      2. Sure, that makes sense. And like you, I have favorite covers in both columns. I think especially if it’s a musician or band you like, you’ll enjoy a cover that’s not especially deviant because it’s the musician you like doing a song you like. Jimmy Buffett has covered a few Bruce Cockburn songs, and while they’re neither as good as the originals nor very deviant, I love hearing him perform them. Hey, that’s Jimmy Buffet! Singing a song by my favorite musician! 🙂

        I don’t expect you to listen to these, so ignore at will. But they’re a good band, and here are a couple of good songs you might like from them.

        But first, here is a song by Kay Starr called “Wheel of Fortune.”

        This song was Billboard’s number one song of 1952 — nine weeks at the top. When we were high-school seniors, this song was 25 years old.

        Here’s one of Weezer’s most popular songs, “Buddy Holly.”

        To high school seniors today, “Buddy Holly” is their “Wheel of Fortune,” except “Buddy Holly” wasn’t the number one song in 1994. 25 years old!

        This is probably their most recognizable song, “Hash Pipe.” Early in my teaching career I heard a lot of high school bands covering this song. Inappropriate for HBA, but I saved my bullets for when they played the Green Day masturbation song. Geez.

        When Weezer released its cover of Toto’s “Africa” last year, Toto returned the favor and covered “Hash Pipe.” I saw them play it in the encore in Lynn, Massachusetts!

        One more. This is my favorite song by them, “Beverly Hills.” It’s from 2005 so we were already geezers but they were still making music as good as when we were in our mid-20s.

        Just a smart, fun, punky band whose frontman is kind of a geek.

        1. I think especially if it’s a musician or band you like, you’ll enjoy a cover that’s not especially deviant because it’s the musician you like doing a song you like.

          Yeah, although I can’t think of many examples. I think most of the covers I like deviate from the original versions quite a bit.

          Based on those songs by Weezer, they sound like what I would call a pop-grunge band, or just rock n’ roll in the 1990s. I liked “Hash Pipe” the best. (Toto’s cover didn’t really grab me, for what it’s worth.)

          Oh, and why did you put the “Wheel of Fortune” song? Did some one cover it in the 80s?

        2. Do you consider Jimi’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” to be especially different?

          What about C&K’s “We’re All Alone?”

          You might have responded better to the Toto cover of “Hash Pipe” if you were already familiar with the song, you know? Again, a band you like playing a song you (in this case maybe sorta) like. I loved watching them play this live.

          I included the video of “Wheel of Fortune” for a bit of historical perspective. To us, “Wheel of Fortune” sounded ancient when we were seniors in high school. To high-schoolers today, “Hash Pipe” is just as ancient. Does it sound old to you? How interesting is it that a band is still making relevant music 25 years later? What does it say that on the morning of its surprise release, the album was discussed on NPR as well as Vulture, Vox, and NME? If this “Hash Pipe” had been on the radio only seven years earlier, how would we have responded to it? Why, for so many people our age, did good pop music seem to cease existing sometime in our 20s? I try to stay aware of what’s popular, but I find less to like each year, it seems. Am I finally getting as old as too many of our classmates? Also, is my insistence that there must be great music out there today by artists I haven’t heard of yet indicative of my thirst to keep finding new things to be turned on by, or am I trying to prove something to myself, that I’m not the old people who said “they don’t write ’em like that anymore” or “there’s nothing good on the radio anymore” when hearing my favorite songs when I was a teenager?

          You know. Stuff like that. 🙂

          1. Do you consider Jimi’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” to be especially different?

            After listening to both recently, I would say that Hendrix’s version is different enough. I might argue that riffs from guitar versus harmonica, alone, are enough.

            What about C&K’s “We’re All Alone?”

            Off the top of my head, I’d say no; and I like the original version (which I assume is by Boz Scaggs).

            But this brings up another issue. I think C&K have other covers, but those covers function as originals for me, because those are the only versions I’m familiar with. (This is similar to Kalapana’s version of “When the Morning Comes.”) What I would say about these songs is that I like them, and maybe enjoy them more than the original, but I would hesitate to choose this as one of the musician’s best song.

            Oh, I thought of some other covers in a similar vein:

            Naked Eyes’s cover of “There is Always Something There to Remind Me”
            Basia’s cover of “Until You Come Back to Me”

            You might have responded better to the Toto cover of “Hash Pipe” if you were already familiar with the song, you know?

            I tend to think this would decrease the chances.

            I included the video of “Wheel of Fortune” for a bit of historical perspective. To us, “Wheel of Fortune” sounded ancient when we were seniors in high school. To high-schoolers today, “Hash Pipe” is just as ancient. Does it sound old to you?

            No, but my sense is that the musical changes between from the 50s to the 80s were much greater than the changes between the 90s and now. The situation is similar to the changes between jazz from the 20s to the 50s, versus changes between jazz from the 90s to now.

            How interesting is it that a band is still making relevant music 25 years later? What does it say that on the morning of its surprise release, the album was discussed on NPR as well as Vulture, Vox, and NME?

            I think you know that some musicians just have staying power, but in this case, I suspect that there is a bit of nostalgia involved, a indication of Gen X bias. (This is assuming many of the critics writing about this are Gen Xers.)

            Also, is my insistence that there must be great music out there today by artists I haven’t heard of yet indicative of my thirst to keep finding new things to be turned on by, or am I trying to prove something to myself, that I’m not the old people who said “they don’t write ’em like that anymore” or “there’s nothing good on the radio anymore” when hearing my favorite songs when I was a teenager?

            I don’t know the answer to this, but for what it’s worth, I think there is great (pop/rock) music being made now. My guess is that when Gen Xers (or older people) claim that there isn’t great music being made anymore, they’re basically saying they’re not that interested in new music, I think .

            I also think the effects of time have a powerful impact on our perceptions of music being made now versus music being made in the past. (This applies to other art forms as well.) My sense is that the biggest difference is that the bad stuff from the past has been winnowed from our memories. That process hasn’t occurred for music in the present. I think this reinforces the impression that the current music scene isn’t as good as previous ones.

  2. This was released at the end of November but I didn’t hear it until a couple of weeks ago and I think it’s officially (for Grammy nominating purposes) a 2019 song. One of the pluses of hanging out in boba cafes is I’m being forced to hear all kinds of music I wouldn’t normally listen to.

    So this song by Mark Ronson (he’s the guy who did “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars) and Miley Cyrus, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart,” really moved me. I learned they performed it on SNL in December. Sharing the SNL version here because I just saw the first minute of the official video, and it’s alternately stupid and NSFW.

    I love this sound, minus the terrible disco beat underneath. It sounds like it could have come right off the Hell or High Water soundtrack. Or like something the Highwaymen might have written.

    It’s my best song of 2019 so far.

  3. Here’s another song I discovered in a boba cafe. Lyrically, it’s a bit on the young side, like a songwriter still finding her groove, but I dig the melody and the singer’s voice. Sasha Sloan, “Older.” This is an official lyric video, not a real video. She hasn’t made a video of this yet. From an EP she released last year. The rest of the EP is pretty good too, but this is definitely the highlight.

  4. Okay, one more. I heard this one right after “Older” in whatever playlist they were playing in the cafe. I like the poppy lightness over the sorta dark lyrics, and I really like the lyrics and melody in the chorus. This is from October 2018. Zara Larsson, “Ruin My Life.”

  5. My R&B kick has been continuing, if not getting stronger–specifically R&B from the 70s and early 80s. It’s kinda weird. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed this type of music as much as I have been ever in my life; I’m starting to enjoy it as much as I enjoy jazz.

    I think one of the main reasons for this is the bass playing. I’m tempted to say that the 70s to early 80s is the most interesting period for the bass. The bass seems to have a slightly more prominent role, and with techniques like slapping and plucking, the sound of the instrument changed in an interesting way (at least if you like those developments, and I definitely do!). My sense is that at some point in the late 60s and early 70s, maybe with the advent of funk, musicians created space and a specialized role was created for each instrument in the rhythm section. This is the kind of thing that happened in jazz at some point, and that always appealed to me.

    Also, in this time period, R&B, funk, and soul also utilized a horn section. All of this makes the music richer, more interesting, while also providing this in a context of grooving.

    Finally, in this time period, there seems to be a freer exchange with jazz and that’s probably what’s drawing me to the music. Al Jarreau is a good example.

    By the way, I’m getting the sense that after the early 80s, the bass got less interesting, and I want to say that the rhythm sections got less interesting over time. The rhythms became more about the beat, via drums. One way I noticed this is by listening to the Whispers over time. They’ve been around a long time, and they changed with the times.

    Here are some examples. The first two are from 1979 and 1981 and they have the qualities that I mentioned liking above:

    And here’s another from 1981:

    Compare that to their hit in 1987:

  6. They were going for radio-friendly and “Rock Steady” was certainly that. And I agree, that genre wasn’t nearly (nearly!) as good in the 80s as in the 70s. You know that’s not my style, but I love 70s soul. When I was young and stupid (in my late 20s and early 30s) I planned to learn as much about 70s soul as I could, as soon as I’d learned everything about rock. It didn’t occur to me then than I was never going to learn everything about rock. Kind of disappointing. So 70s soul has always just been a little side piece for me.


    There’s this progressive rock band I like called Presto Ballet. When they put out their first album Peace Among the Ruins in 2005, I was blown away by how it sounded like 70s prog played by 2000s musicians, if that makes sense. The band played older instruments and recorded only on analog equipment to get the 70s sound, too. Kinda neat.

    Anyway. I found out only this week that they released a new album in mid-December, The Days Between, and this has been on endless replay pretty much since Monday.

    A highlight.

    1. They were going for radio-friendly and “Rock Steady” was certainly that.

      I think they’ve always wanted to be radio-friendly–it seems clear that they’re trying to get hits. That’s generally a damning comment, but I don’t mean it that way, as I really enjoy their music. But they really do seem to be wanting to make a hit. I’ll give one example. Earlier, I mentioned their knack for infectious R&B. One aspect of this is a formula to repeat the catchy chorus, almost incessantly. Think of songs like “Louie, Louie” or “Sususido.” The Whispers use this playbook a lot, and it’s very effective. Now, I don’t think this would work without the catchy hooks, good grooves, and appealing vocals.

      For whatever reason, pop music seemed to allow or include more interesting musical elements. Maybe the music was still new enough that creative options hadn’t been explored. Compare that to the last twenty years. Are the musical innovations and developments as significant and dramatic, or are they more modest? I’m actually not sure about this.

      In any event, I think the 80s saw the use of more preprogrammed electronic instrumentation, and that probably moved the music away from the type of qualities I mentioned.

      (I’m listening to PrestoBallet now, and I’ll comment on that later.)

    2. I listened to the PrestoBallet clip. It definitely has qualities that I know you like. For example, there is a exact, very clean, almost mechanical rhythmic and sonic quality that I think you like. Generally, I don’t really care for that…I’m trying to think of examples of music with a similar quality that I do like….Actually, I think Frank Zappa’s music can have this quality. I also like some of the minimalist classical music, but there isn’t the heavy metal sound, so maybe you wouldn’t care for this.

      On another note, I was listening to something that made me think of prog rock last night. It’s an early album by David Sylvian. I kinda liked the first song:

      I’m not keen on the vocalists, but I like the rhythm section, and the lopsided rhythms. This actually reminds me of King Crimson. I wonder if you would like this. (It’s not very similar to PrestoBallet, and I’m not sure if you would agree that it’s prog rock, but I was curious to see what you think of it.)

  7. That does sound kind of proggy but it’s way too danceable. Reminds me a lot of Nick Lowe, actually, but less poppy. It’s also dangerously close to that 80s new wave you say you hate.

    Within Temptation released its new album Friday and it’s my new Best Album of 2019. It’s female-fronted symphonic metal (the band has a male vocalist but uses him more for color than lead voice, most of the time) of the sort I really dig. It’s slightly less heavy than the bands I like most, but its accessbility really works on this anthemic album. This video is a live performance of my favorite song on the album so far, “Supernova.”

    This is Within Temptation’s best album. Reminds me of a less edgy Lacuna Coil and a (much) edgier Evanescence.

    As of February 3, my best albums of 2019 list looks like this.

    1. Within Temptation — Resist
    2. Presto Ballet — The Days Between
    3. Evergrey — The Atlantic
    4. Weezer — The Teal Album
    5. Steve Hackett — At the Edge of Light

    It definitely has qualities that I know you like. For example, there is a exact, very clean, almost mechanical rhythmic and sonic quality that I think you like.

    Eh. It’s not exactness or cleanness most of the time. It’s that in many of the genres I like, there’s an empahsis on instrumental technical dexterity, and the almost-mechanical quality is one form the technical dexterity takes. You might disagree, but Pat Metheny demonstrates the same kind of technical cleanness, maybe one reason we both like him. I mean, that’s not the only quality that distinguishes Metheny, but it’s one that I’ve always admired.

    There are a few bands whose rhythms’ technical exactness DO really turn me on, though. Minus the Bear comes to mind, and Tool, and Metallica. Minus the Bear’s rhythmic noodling makes me feel physically and spiritually good. Man, I don’t know many bands that do that to me this way. In fact, I respond so well to Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia,” especially as played by Dweezil, partially because of Dweezil’s technical exactness.

    By the way, if I ever take electric guitar lessons and my instructor asks me who I want to play like, my first answer is going to be “messy as hell, like George Thorogood.”

    1. It’s also dangerously close to that 80s new wave you say you hate.

      Definitely, especially the vocals. I’m more tolerant of the vocals, but I’d say it’s my least favorite style, and a lot of times I just tolerate it. (By the way, I’d lump Adrian Belew’s vocals in a similar category; but, man, I really like his guitar playing. I also kinda like the lead singer for TV on the Radio, which is also in this vein. Then again, I’m rarely in the mood to listen to their music.)

      Eh. It’s not exactness or cleanness most of the time. It’s that in many of the genres I like, there’s an empahsis on instrumental technical dexterity, and the almost-mechanical quality is one form the technical dexterity takes.

      I guess I’m thinking relative to the music I like. Some of the music I like features technical dexterity as well, but I tend not to care for expressions that are really clean or mechanical, as in really on the beat. I like technical virtuosity, but I generally like the music to feel a little looser. When I comes to rock-based music, I also tend to like a sound that is grungier and raw. Also, I think a part of this involves the feeling in the playing. Some music can be technically great, but kinda cold. By the way, I can’t remember how you feel about John McLaughlin’s playing and the music of something like Mahavishnu Orchestra. When I first heard descriptions of this music, I thought I would love it. I did not.

      In fact, I respond so well to Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia,” especially as played by Dweezil, partially because of Dweezil’s technical exactness.

      For what it’s worth, a lot of his music has that quality.

      By the way, if I ever take electric guitar lessons and my instructor asks me who I want to play like, my first answer is going to be “messy as hell, like George Thorogood.”

      But it seems like the musicians you really like now don’t play like that, though.

  8. This was pretty cool.

    In my opinion, the best example of the way each instrument and voice plays a more rhythmic role is “I Got the Feelin'”

    Also, they mention call and response in Brown’s music, but I wonder if he was the first to do this. I know this was something that occurred in jazz, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t occur before Brown.

    1. https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/02/us/james-brown-death-questions

      Have you read the CNN investigative series on the death of James Brown? I can’t exactly recommend it because I’ve only read part 1 of three parts, but I’m definitely in on reading the rest of it. The journalist was interviewed on Dan Le Batard last week and man, you can tell he thinks there are legitimate questions to be answered, but because he’s a serious journalist he wouldn’t speculate on the air or offer an opinion of what he thinks happened. Which is what got me to hunt the story down.

      I didn’t even know CNN did investigative reporting.

      1. No, I didn’t. For some reason, I’m not super interested in this topic. If and when you finish the story, let me know if you think it’s worth checking out.

  9. My favorite song (as of today) on the new Evergrey album. “End of Silence.”

    I love how heavy is the backbone of this song, and how pretty the vocal melody and piano parts are on top of it. The instrumental break beginning at 2:45 isn’t especially creative but for some reason I really dig it. I like the way it layers.

  10. As I listen to more R&B/soul/funk from the 70s and 80s, I’ve developed a simple hypothesis–namely, 1979-1981 was the peak musical moment for these genres–particularly in terms of the bass and the use of horn section. Or maybe a better word than “peak” is the cutoff. That is, this was the last glory days of the bass and horns. Perhaps both aspects of the music also reached its highest expressions at this point–that is something I will explore later. (I’m a little skeptical about this period being the highest expression of using horns, as several groups used a horn section quite creatively in the early 70s.)

    One group I’ve turned my attention to is Cameo. As far as I know, I only knew “Candy” and “Word Up” from them. I didn’t realize that they had a horn section (or used a horn section), and that was a pleasant surprise.

    The first clip below made me think of another song. See if you can guess which one:

    The next clip is noteworthy to me because I’m not sure I’ve ever heard funk/R&B that was so in your face and hard. I like rock that is hard and in your face, too, but generally R&B/soul lacks that quality. This song isn’t as hard as really hard rock or metal, nor does it have the same degree of power, but it’s moving in that direction.

  11. Living Colour is a group that I should like, but never really did (besides “Cult of Personality”). Every so often I go back and check them out to see if my response is different. In my most recent attempt, while my attitude hasn’t really changed, I found myself like Vernon Reid’s guitar playing a lot more. In previous conversations with Mitchell, I shared my attempt to find rock groups that had the same power and aggression as AC/DC or Van Halen. I think Reid’s guitar playing, in terms of in-your-face power, is in a similar ballpark as Eddie Van Halen. (I still prefer Van Halen, though.)

    I’m still not sure why their music doesn’t hit me. I think it may come down to the fact that I don’t really care for their songs.

    1. If you aren’t familiar with Doug Wimbish, Living Colour’s bass player, you should look him up. I would think you’d at least respond well to him.

      The songs thing is an issue; they don’t write the most memorable songs. But man, can they play their instruments. For me a good concert is about seeing musicians play, and Living Colour rips in concert. It’s a band of four really charismatic performers too, so even if I only knew one of their songs (not too far from the truth) I would have seen them play. And I’ll go again. I hope they come back!

      1. I’m not familiar with Wimbish, but based on what I’ve been hearing, the bass doesn’t really stand out to me. If you have any songs/performances you think I should check out, let me know.

        But man, can they play their instruments.

        I guess it’s not enough to really grab me?

          1. I found one on apple music, and I will check that out. But if you think of any other suggestions, let me know.

  12. As of March 4, these are my top 18 albums of 2019*.

    1. Dream Theater — Distance over Time
    2. Within Temptation — Resist
    3. Presto Ballet — The Days Between
    4. Avantasia — Moonglow
    5. Neal Morse Band — The Great Adventure
    6. Evergrey — The Atlantic
    7. Soen — Lotus
    8. Queensrÿche — The Verdict
    9. Weezer — The Teal Album
    10. Soilwork — Verkligheten
    11. Steve Hackett — At the Edge of Night
    12. Born of Osiris — The Simulation
    13. Delain — Hunter’s Moon (EP)
    14. Rhapsody of Fire — The Eighth Mountain
    15. Last in Line — II
    16. Metallica — Helping Hands … Live & Acoustic
    17. Overkill — The Wings of War
    18. In Flames — I, the Mask

    Albums I haven’t listend to yet but want to:

    Rock Goddess — This Time
    Tedeschi Trucks Band — Signs
    Della Mae — The Butcher Shoppe EP
    Weezer — Weezer (The Black Album)

    Albums I’m looking forward to in March:

    Children of Bodom — Hexed
    Týr — Hel
    Fallujah — Undying Light
    Devin Townsend — Empath
    Lee McKinney — Infinite Mind

    * I only really like 1 through 13, but I’m including everything I’ve listened (attentively) to as sort of a listening journal.

    1. Thanks Reid. I already passed the Rolling Stone article on this around on a couple of social media platforms. 🙂

  13. I’m listening to to Willie and the Wheel an album featuring Willie Nelson and the band, Asleep at the Wheel. I recently heard a Fresh Air interview, with Nelson singing some of his songs, accompanied with his acoustic guitar. I really liked it (including a version of “Crazy”). It was good enough to make me want to check out of his stuff, particularly albums with him just singing with an acoustic guitar.

    But I’m checking out the album above because I also enjoy western swing.

    1. I reviewed this album when it came out in 2009 and have been an Asleep at the Wheel admirer since. Willie’s stuff in the past 20 years has been tons better than his earlier stuff. There’s a world-weariness that looks good on him (musically), the way it seems also to look good on Bonnie Raitt, and the way it did on Johnny Cash.

      I wish I’d been a little more open-minded about country music when I was in high school. The outlaw personae that Nelson, Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson (the Highwaymen!) projected was totally my thing, the less rock-and-roll version of guys like Mellencamp, Springsteen, and (Neil) Young.

      1. The smoothness of his voice is exactly what I’m talking about. Less twangy and less nasaly. A lot more laid-back, too.

        If you prefer this to his older sound, I can’t dispute that, but I wouldn’t go so far as saying his current sound is “better.” I have mixed feelings about this, but some of the qualities of his younger voice and singing style that turned me off are probably qualities that make his sound unique. On some level, I really whatever gives one a distinctive sound.

        I had to look up Bob Dorough. Not familiar with him at all.

        I’m not sure if you this already, but he sang several of the Schoolhouse Rock songs. If you heard his voice, I’m pretty sure you’d recognize him.

        As for nicknames, “The Man in Black” is pretty cool. What about “Godfather of Soul?”

        I never knew Clapton’s nickname was “Slowhand.”

    2. Willie’s stuff in the past 20 years has been tons better than his earlier stuff.

      I don’t think I agree with this, based on the little I’ve heard so far. By the way, what stood out for me in the Fresh Air performances was the smoothness of his voice, as if he ironed out the nasally quality of his voice. In a way, it may his voice sound more normal, if that makes sense.

      Some other things I noticed:

      Either he influenced Bob Dorough, or Dorough influenced him;
      Listening to him makes me think of Gabby Pahinui at times.

      The outlaw personae that Nelson, Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson (the Highwaymen!) projected was totally my thing, the less rock-and-roll version of guys like Mellencamp, Springsteen, and (Neil) Young.

      That seems like a good description of the Highwaymen.

    3. The smoothness of his voice is exactly what I’m talking about. Less twangy and less nasaly. A lot more laid-back, too.

      I had to look up Bob Dorough. Not familiar with him at all.

      I posted a list on social media last week of the five best rock and roll nicknames, and I almost changed the title of the list so I could include The Redheaded Stranger and The Man in Black. Almost. Decided to keep it to rock since I liked the list as it was.

      5. That Little Old Band from Texas — ZZ Top
      4. The Motor City Madman — Ted Nugent
      3. The Red Rocker — Sammy Hagar
      2. The Boss — Bruce Springsteen
      1. Slowhand — Eric Clapton

  14. Have any of you heard of the sub-genre, “yacht rock?” I was up late last night listening to music, and I came across an essential playlist of this on Apple music. Apple creates a variety of sub-genres, but most of them make sense or seem familiar. This one seemed really odd, and I was intrigued. The music was basically 70’s mellow pop, AM gold, a lot of it mostly with acoustic guitars. I guess I could see the connection with a lot of the songs; most of them does sort of evoke images of rich, young white people lounging on a yacht (both in the day and night).

    I was very familiar with all the songs. Here are a few that weren’t:

    Bertie Higgins–“Just Another Day in Paradise”
    Jay Ferguson–“Thunder Island”
    Jefferson Starship–“Runaway”
    Lobo–“Where Were You When I Was Falling in Love”
    Starbuck–“I Got to Know”

    One song on the is–“Sweetheart”–was a delight to hear. Any of you guys remember this song? The singer/group who sang it? (I probably wouldn’t know the song just by the title, and I definitely wouldn’t have known the group.)

  15. Franke and the Knockouts. I bought the single on iTunes several years ago.

    I heard a fun discussion of yacht rock on the Dan Le Batard show a couple of months ago. Basically soft rock, easy on the ears, more about melody than beat (according to the article on Wikipedia). Wikipedia refers also to AOR but AOR includes slightly harder stuff than I would put on a yacht rock playlist.

    I think Spotify is where I first heard the term, also from a playlist, a few years ago.

    1. Wait, the songs you list. These are a few that weren’t on the list but you’d put them on?

      I would add

      “The Search is Over” — Survivor
      “Africa” — Toto (I would put this on the Mt. Rushmore)
      “Rhiannon” — Fleetwood Mac
      “Crazy” — Gnarls Barkley
      “I Want to Break Free” — Queen

      1. No, these are songs that were very, very unfamiliar; in some cases, totally unfamiliar.

        There are some Toto songs on there. “Rhiannon” or something from Fleetwood Mac should be on there. All the songs were from the 70s, maybe a few from the early 80s.

    2. Franke and the Knockouts. I bought the single on iTunes several years ago.

      Huh. I’m assuming you knew the song when it first came out, yes?

      That song was one of those that slipped in the recesses of my mind–I hadn’t heard it for so long. It was cool to hear it again.

      1. David Pack, huh? I’ll have to look into that.

        Both of those songs, “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” are terrible, but I noted them because they were large hits for other people.

        I don’t think it languished for a long time before “Sweetheart” became a hit. I was just clarifying that i wasn’t one of the original appreciators; it may already have been on Solid Gold when I first heard it, which is what I thought you were asking.

        Psychedelic rock is still a thing, man. If you make a psychedelic rock playlist someday, put some Black Mountain on there — they just put out a new album this year and it’s great. 🙂

        Yacht rock is definitely not an era-specific playlist. I think it’s a lot more interesting if you’re hanging with the guys with a pinot gris in your hand on someone’s boat if the music spans decades. Put Taylor Swift’s “Red” on there, even, and chase it with “Cool Change” by LRB. 🙂

      2. Psychedelic rock is still a thing, man.

        Really? Does is it have the 70’s sound, or is it significantly different?

        Yacht rock is definitely not an era-specific playlist.

        All the songs on the apple essentials list are from mid-70s to the mid-80s.

    3. Not when it first came out, but when it was in the top 40. I used to listen to the American Top 40 pretty religiously for a few years, and that one always stuck with me. I’m sure I’ve forgotten much better songs, but I remembered that one.

      That Bertie Higgins song was a super-minor hit. He tried to follow “Key Largo” with something called “Casablanca” (I think) but it never stuck, and I don’t think I ever heard it.

      I would put Ali Thompson’s “Take a Little Rhythm” on there for sure too.

      I think a good yacht rock playlist should try to find songs across several decades that fit the aesthetic; otherwise, if you’re hanging with your bros on a yacht and it’s mostly songs from the late 70s and early 80s, it’s just a playlist from a time period, not of a certain groove.

      1. Hey cool. I just looked up Franke and the Knockouts in Wikipedia, and

        • For a year or so, Tico Torres was the drummer in the Knockouts. He’s the only drummer Bon Jovi has ever had. This means that a member of Franke and the Knockouts is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s not Franke.
        • Franke and the Knockouts wrote and first recorded Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” and the Jennifer Warnes – Bill Medley duet “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

        Learn something new every day.

        1. This means that a member of Franke and the Knockouts is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s not Franke.

          Hahaha.

          Franke and the Knockouts wrote and first recorded Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” and the Jennifer Warnes – Bill Medley duet “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

          Those are pretty good songs…well, “Hungry Eyes” not so much.

          Speaking of learning things one didn’t know, are you familiar with David Pack, the lead singer of Ambrosia? (I think I talked about him here in the past.) Anyway, I’ve been listening and enjoying his solo stuff. I also checked out his wikipedia page. He’s produced a lot of albums for other artists. He’s also song on albums by Kerry Livgren and Mastodon. Those two details made me think of you.

    4. Not when it first came out, but when it was in the top 40.

      You mean it got on the top 40 long after it came out? When I say “came out” I don’t mean the first day or week, but whenever it first became known or popular.

      I’m sure I’ve forgotten much better songs, but I remembered that one.

      Yeah, it’s not a great song. What’s interesting is that I forgot about it, but as soon as I heard a song, I came back to me.

      That Bertie Higgins song was a super-minor hit. He tried to follow “Key Largo” with something called “Casablanca” (I think) but it never stuck, and I don’t think I ever heard it.

      The idea is too contrived. What about “African Queen” with some African sounding music? 🙂 Although if he did a serious one about “In Lonely Place,” I’d be intrigued.

      I would put Ali Thompson’s “Take a Little Rhythm” on there for sure too.

      Yeah, that’s a good one.

      I think a good yacht rock playlist should try to find songs across several decades that fit the aesthetic; otherwise, if you’re hanging with your bros on a yacht and it’s mostly songs from the late 70s and early 80s, it’s just a playlist from a time period, not of a certain groove.

      But some genres are stuck in a certain time period, no? Psychedelic rock? I don’t take the label as something really serious; it’s a bit gimmicky, something designed for playlists. And the label does seem locked in a time period, sort of like “AM Gold.”

  16. One of the songs on the yacht rock playlist was “Her Town, Too”–and, again, I was listening to this really late at night. It’s kind of the perfect time for that song, as it has a plaintive quality, reminding of the Brazilian/Portuguese word, saudade. I think a lot of this comes from the use of fender rhodes (or at least I think that’s what it is), plus Taylor’s voice.

    And the lyrics convey the same mood as well. I’m not a lyrics guy, but I looked these up, and I think they’re really good. Indeed, I liked them so much I started checking out JD Southers’s solo recordings, which I kinda liked as well (if I’m in the mood for the country/Eagles sound). The lyrics also seemed solid on the songs I heard as well.

    Anyway, I wanted to analyze the lyrics of “Her Town, Too,” but haven’t had the time. One interesting aspect of the song is the meaning of “her town” or even just “town.” I feel like there’s multiple meanings there, adding a very appealing poetic quality to the song.

    Here are the complete lyrics:

    She’s been afraid to go out
    She’s afraid of the knock on her door
    There’s always a shade of a doubt
    She can never be sure
    Who comes to call
    Maybe the friend of a friend of a friend
    Anyone at all
    Anything but nothing again

    It used to be her town
    It used to be her town, too
    It used to be her town
    It used to be her town, too

    Seems like even her old girlfriends
    Might be talking her down
    She’s got her name on the grapevine
    Running up and down
    The telephone line
    Talking ’bout
    Someone said, someone said
    Something ’bout, something else
    Someone might have said about her
    She always figured that they were her friends
    But maybe they can live without her

    It used to be her town
    It used to be her town, too
    It used to be her town
    It used to be her town, too

    Well, people got used to seeing them both together
    But now he’s gone and life goes on
    Nothing lasts forever, oh no

    She gets the house and the garden
    He gets the boys in the band
    Some of them his friends
    Some of them her friends
    Some of them understand
    Lord knows that this is just a small town city
    Yes, and everyone can see you fall
    It’s got nothing to do with pity
    I just wanted to give you a call

    It used to be your town
    It used to be my town, too
    You never know ’till it all falls down
    Somebody loves you
    Somebody loves you
    Darling, somebody still loves you
    I can still remember
    When it used to be her town, too
    It used to be your town
    It used to be my town, too

    1. It’s a good song. When you wrote “Taylor,” I didn’t know who you were referring to because I forgot it was a duet. I was just thinking J. D. Souther.

      Black Mountain (and other psychedelic bands I’ve heard in recent years) don’t sound much like 70s psychedelic rock at all, really. I mean you listen and you go, “Oh, psychedeic rock” so there must be an element that does sound the same, but it sounds like music being made today, not dated the way 70s psychedelia sounds.

      1. Whether psychedelic rock is a genre that isn’t bound by a certain time period, you’d agree some genres or sub-genres are bound, for the most part, right? I don’t think that’s a bad think, either.

  17. I’ve been enjoying some songs on David Pack’s 1985 album, Anywhere You Go, particularly “My Baby” and “I Just Can’t Let Go.” Pack is the lead singer of Ambrosia, which I just learned recently. Anyway, once I learned that, I looked to see if he had any solo albums, and I found this one.

    The one thing that appeals to me is how the songs have an 80’s sound, but they’re basically new songs for me (although I have vague feeling I heard “I Just Can’t Let Go” on the radio). I’ve been in the mood for music like that recently.

    Anyway, I’ve also been enjoying “My Baby” which has this sunshine-y 80’s sound, especially in the chorus. I never really got this initially because the chorus doesn’t play until after the second verse, and while browsing the songs, I stopped listening before I got to that part. Eventually I did, though, and I really liked the song.

    By the way, some other examples of this kind of 80’s sunshine-y quality are “1-2-3-4” (Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine), “Waiting for a Star to Fall” (Boy Meets Girl), or “Baby Baby” (Amy Grant)

    1. I picked up that Boy Meets Girl CD at a thrift shop a few years ago for $1. Haven’t listened to the rest of it, but the one song was worth the $1 for sure.

      I would add “Walking on Sunshine” (appropriately) by Katrina and the Waves to the 80s sunshiney sound playlist.

    2. “Walking on Sunshine” definitely has that happy, sunshine-y sound, but I don’t think it has an 80’s sound–unless it’s more like that 50’s retro sound that was also part of the 80s (e.g., Huey Lewis and the News).

      1. I have to disagree. The guitar chord progression after the “and don’t it feel good!” sounds like something from the Footloose soundtrack, which is super stuck in the 80s. I can’t think of a single thing from the 50s this song reminds me remotely of.

        1. The guitar chord progression after the “and don’t it feel good!” sounds like something from the Footloose soundtrack…

          That’s basically the same riff that is at the beginning of the song, right? To me, it’s a very rock n’ roll riff. I’m not sure if that progression was used in the 50s per se, but the riff plus the entire song has that 80s update of 50’s rock n’ roll. Kenny Loggins’s “Footloose” might be in that vein as well. Billy Joel had some, too–e.g., “Tell Her About It,” although that might be a more retro thing.

          These songs have a very different vibe from “My Baby” or “Waiting for a Star to Fall.”

  18. A few comments off the top of my head:

    1. “We Built This City” is a decent candidate for worst of all time. I liked this line:

    We Built This City’ is kind of a tragically awful song. Starship is already a copy of a copy of a once-great band … Jefferson Airplane to Jefferson Starship to Starship. For a lot of people it represents the final nail in the coffin of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

    2. On “We Are the World:”

    “It was billed as a song in which everybody involved has quote unquote ‘checked their egos at the door.’ And it is the most egotistical pant-load of self-importance.” —Stephen Thompson

    3. Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5” is an interesting song. Actually, I recall other interesting songs on that album.

    4. I’m not sure what they mean by the “grab bag” category, but disagree with the negative take on “Africa.”

    Hmm, what is the worst song of all time? I feel like there are a few that I could name, but I’ll have to think on it a little more.

    1. A friend sent me this link the day before yesterday at the office. Unaware of the angle the writer took, I suggested these titles before looking at the article (I bookmarked it for listening to the podcast later). None of them are mentioned, but I stand by this list, which I came up with off the top of my head but have been thinking about for decades.

      “Rock On” by David Essex
      “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet
      “I Dig Rock & Roll Music” by Peter, Paul and Mary
      “I Miss You” by Klymaxx
      “Secret Lovers” by Atlantic Starr
      “Careless Whisper” by Wham!
      “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan

      The two songs mentioned I totally disagree with are “Africa” and “Wild Wild West.”

    2. “Rock On” seems like a good one.

      I kinda like “Carless Whisper” but I totally get why it makes your list. I think I would choose “Always” over “Secret Lovers.” At the same time, I think there are a lot of songs that are similarly bad. I’m not sure those really stand head and shoulders above the others.

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