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Jukebox: Melancholy mood

I talk a lot about music that makes you happy or cheers you up. But sometimes you don’t want that. Sometimes you feel down, and you just want to own that feeling for a while. This playlist is for those times.

“Everything’s Changing,” Keane.

“I’m trying to make a move just to stay in the game. I try to stay awake and remember my name. But everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.”

“Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” Annie Lennox

[How can Neil Young’s words coming from Annie Lenox’s mouth not move you?]

“Don’t let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning. Find someone who’s turning, and you will come around.”

“Help,” Tina Turner

[John Lennon’s words coming from Tina Turner’s mouth. Even more moving than Neil and Annie.]

“And now my life has changed in oh so many ways. My independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then, when I feel so insecure. I know I need you like I never did before.”

“Holding Back The Years,” Simply Red

“I’ve wasted all my tears; wasted all those years. Nothing had the chance to be good; nothing ever could.”

“You Could Make A Killing,” Aimee Mann

“I could follow you and search the rubble. Or stay right here and save myself some trouble. Or try to keep myself from seeing double.”

“Long Hard Road,” Sade

“And when in this life, in this life, when I can only turn my chin. I know it’s gonna be alright.”

“Dark Truths,” Joan Armatrading

“It’s so nice that someone thinks you’re special. Treat them right, that trust in you is precious. All the same, we make mistakes. I’ve used up a few lives, now I’m afraid of dying. Cuz one day I’ll find you’re not forgiving.”

“Till the Sun Turns Black,” Ray LaMontagne

“Can you see the corporate man – he’s winning on the telephone; his possessions are his throne – till the sun turns black/ Can you see him in his lounger watching TV in the dark, waiting for a spark, till the sun turns black?”

“Color,” Mary J. Blige

The lyrics to this track are actually very happy and uplifting – yet every time I hear it, I bawl. Maybe it’s just Mary’s voice. Maybe I’m just still waiting to get to that place.

“Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?),” Diana Ross

I know I’ve mentioned this song about a billion times on this blog. I hope I’m not entering into ad nauseam territory, because I really do love it that much. Seeing Diana Ross live (from the second row!) this past spring was a highlight of my life, and when she sang this track I pretended she was singing directly to me. I was moved to tears.

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It’s been a long, long time since I’ve given y’all a playlist, which is a shame. Those who know me know that this has been a CRAZY summer for me. It’s a summer I may not have sanely survived but for my loved ones and music. So let’s give a nod to the latter, and take a look at what’s been burning up my iPod during the dog days. This is a good one, so I recommend you throw these tracks on your player too – it’s way better than that ubiquitous Katy Perry crap:

Cee Lo, “F*¢k You”

Dear Grammys: Go ahead and give this man the prize for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Performance, Best Country Track – all of ‘em. Because this is the most brilliant joint that has come out in YEARS! Bravo! NSFW language, obviously.

Janet Jackson, “Nasty”

I absolutely love it when I hear a song from my childhood, and it acquires a whole new level of brilliance when you hear it as an adult. This song is a prime example. Go’on, Miss Jackson.

Kanye West, “Power”

Yep, I’m still blasting this. I’m not exactly Kanye’s biggest fan, but this is my favorite Hip Hop joint since Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” dropped. This song is directly responsible for my 10K training progress. Never run before? Put this track on repeat and see if you don’t put four miles behind you before you know it. Try it.

Mary J. Blige, “The One”

I didn’t like this song at all when it was first released. Not at ALL – mainly because the thought of a talent like the incomparable Miss Mary J. Blige using autotune offended me deeply. Then this summer happened. And suddenly – this became my theme song! It literally plays when I walk down the street. That’s right. Yeah, I’m that. Yeah, I’m that. Yeah, I’m her.

Destiny’s Child, “Soldier”

I posted this on my Facebook page after a couple of my friends, in completely unrelated conversations, told me they didn’t think I like a certain type of guy. Just FYI: I am the Rainbow Coalition of dating. Just sayin’.

Missy Elliot, “Work It”

Same point as above – in response to one friend, I quoted Missy Elliot: “Boys, boys, all type of boys. Black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese boys.” Oh yeah, and I like to pretend that I look like a Halle Berry poster as well.

Sugerland, “Stuck Like Glue”

Ok, just so y’all don’t think I’ve become too single-minded and jaded, I’ll throw this little sweet diddy in. Love this track. So fun and happy. It’s a love song! Imagine that!

Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Hit ‘Em Up Style”

And… we’re back to jaded. But really, this is the bomb. It kicks Blu Cantrell’s version in the teeth. Thanks, Emma, for turning me on to this band!

Much, much more good stuff after the jump, y’all! => (more…)

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I have, like many of you, been burning up Sade’s latest album, Soldier of Love. Her music is as ageless and eternally classic as she is. Really. It’s not quite fair that one person should be allowed to be so beautiful and talented. But it’s ok, because I love her.

After downloading her latest collection, I went and uploaded all my Sade CDs (yes, CDs – the last time I bought Sade music, there was no iTunes!) on the iPod so I could revel in her entire catalog. While I don’t think she’s ever released a bad track, there 10 songs – well, 11 really – that I think are truly her best. Indeed, they are among the best songs recorded by anyone, ever. So to change things up, I’m doing the Jukebox as a Top 10 list.

Sade’s Top 10 (well, 11) Tracks (according to me!):

10. Never As Good As The First Time

So cool, so funky, but still classically Sade. And aren’t the lyrics the truth?!

9. Smooth Operator

Remember the first time you heard this track? It was like nothing you’d ever heard of before, right? And then remember seeing the full-length, epic video for it on VH-1 (back when they showed such things) and thinking that this woman was possibly the coolest chic ever? Yeah, me too. Don’t let anyone tell you 80s music is all crap.

8. Kiss Of Life/By Your Side

Ok, this one’s a tie for all the same reasons. While Sade is at her best singing about longing, or pain, or hurt, or forlorn love, she can also do a simple beautiful happy love song very, very well. Both of these are examples, and I couldn’t possibly pick one over the other.

More smoothness after the jump =>

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What a week, huh? Good grief!! I won’t even get into it. I need a jukebox for the weekend, and a little old skool “Urban Contemporary” is hitting the spot!

Y’all know I love 80s pop, but I also adore the R&B tracks from this era. Here are some of my favorite artists. So squirt some spray on that asymmetrical bob, brush that high top fade and come with me!

Klymaxx. O. M. G. I LOVE Klymaxx. Seriously. Love them! They actually played their own instruments, which was kinda unheard of at the time. And Bernadette Cooper is a ‘Kick Ass Chick’ if ever there was one.

Essential tracks: Meeting in the Ladies Room, I Miss You, I’d Still Say Yes, The Men All Pause.

The Time. Oh, the TIME! Morris Day! Jerome Benton! Why didn’t they last forever?!? (Bernadette Cooper is totally the female version of Morris Day, no?) I personally am partial to the pre-Purple Rain stuff, but the later tracks are awesome too.

Essential tracks: Jungle Love, 777-9311, Girl, Gigolos Get Lonely Too.

Atlantic Starr: I would have loved to see this band live, if only for the experience of hearing every audience member sing this every word of this first track, because the whole world knows this song! “Here we are, the two of us to-gethaaaah. Takin’ this crazy chance to be all alooooooooone….”

Essential tracks: Secret Lovers, If Your Heart Isn’t In It, Always

Cameo: Cameo, in my opinion, is second only to George Clinton and the P-Funk family as the greatest funk artist ever. I am partial pre-Word Up! stuff, but it’s all great. Larry Blackmon is genius.

Essential tracks: Alligator Woman, Shake Your Pants, Candy, She’s Strange

The Gap Band: Another band whose brilliance is underrated. But those outfits!

Esential tracks: Burn Rubber On Me, Early In the Morning, You Dropped A Bomb On Me

Teena Marie: Oh, Miss Blue Eyed Soul herself. I remember getting into an argument with my sister when I was little. My sister said she was white. I just knew that was impossible.

Esential tracks: Square Biz, Portuguese Love, Casanova Brown, Fire and Desire (Duet with Rick James)

Glaring omission. There is a glaring omission on this list. It’s a song I have been searching for in digital form for YEARS. But you cannot buy it – it’s not available as an MP3 or even on a CD that I can find. In fact, you can hardly find the song anywhere on the internet anymore – the artist who owns the rights (not the group who performs the song) is notorious for not allowing his music to appear on the internet at all. And it’s a shame too. Welcome to the digital age, Mr. Purple! Anyway, click here to see what the song is. I’m afraid to type the name here lest Mr. Purple’s web bots find it and ruin for the person who was able to actually post this video without getting slapped with a cease and desist order.

If anyone – ANYONE – has this track in digital form, would you please, please, PLEASE share with me?! Email me at lilmisselleen [at] gmail [dawt] com. I will love you forever.

Other key tracks on the playlist: In My House, Mary Jane Girls; Sweet November, The Deele; Let’s Wait Awhile, Janet Jackson; Never Knew Love Like This Before, Stephanie Mills; Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thang), Zapp; Don’t Disturb This Groove, The System;  Saturday Love, Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal

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It’s been a while, but I have to correct a glaring omission to the Elleen’s Essentials list:

I Just Wanna Stop, Gino Vannelli. I heard this song in a store today, and literally dropped my bag. I LOOOOOVE this track !!

I totally turned into an old lady, cursing the fact that there are no artists today like my Gino. I mean really. Gino, where have you gone?! The album Brother to Brother is right up there with Aja by Steely Dan and 1999 by Prince as the greatest albums I’d ever heard.

Thanks again to my mom, and also my sister, for making me at Gino fan and the age of, oh I don’t know – maybe 3? I totally was singing this song and Wheels of Life before I could read.

Oh, and although I normally do not go for tight pants, overly hairy chest, unbuttoned shirt and excessive sweatiness, somehow my Gino made it work. If I were an adult in the 70s I TOTALLY woulda been one of these chicks rushing the stage…

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I literally just finished watching Boomerang. It’s one of those films that I find on a random channel surf every few years, and end up watching until the end and laughing my ass off. It’s really hysterical! What every happened to Grace Jones? Strangé!!! I digress…

One of the best parts of the film is the soundtrack. Even though the movie is stowing its age a bit – the early 90’s outfits were cracking me up – it’s the music that sort of brings it all together and helps it withstand the passing years. Yes, it’s the comedy too, but also the music.

I started searching through my stack of CDs to find the soundtrack so I can upload it onto my iPod. I have a trip planned for this weekend and my iPod can use a change. And of course, at first I found every film soundtrack I own other than that one. But I did find it eventually. And the search got me to thinking about how films and music go together. Or, how sometimes even a bad film can be saved by a great soundtrack. So I pulled a bunch of movie music and made a Jukebox.

BoomerangI’m sure I have more soundtracks than this – and even more on tape, probably. This is not an exhaustive list, to be sure – I just grabbed a bunch on the fly. But they are a pretty mix. Grab a popcorn and enjoy.

Boomerang. This is a great soundtrack – you have upbeat tracks, nice ballads, a bunch of, um, well, booty-getting joints, and a song that goes right with one of the lines Halle Berry said to Eddie Murphy: “What do you know about love? I’m tired of men like you talking about love. Love shoulda brought your ass home last night!”

Essentials: Love Shoulda Brought You Home, Toni Braxton; Give U My Heart, Babyface feat. Tony Braxton; End of the Road, Boyz II Men; There U Go, Johnny Gill.

PFPulp Fiction. I don’t think I even need to explain. I mean, it all goes without saying, right?

Essentials: Let’s Stay Together, AL Green; You Never Can Tell, Chuck Berry; Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield; Jungle Boogie, Kool & The Gang; Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon, Urge Overkill (Not as good and Neil’s, but still good).

batmanBatman. Prince could have made a living just doing soundtracks. He doesn’t even need to be in the movie, although it helps. But it’s enough to see Jack Nicholson dancing as the Joker dancing to a Prince song. That is all!

Essentials: Partyman, Prince; Scandalous, Prince; Batdance, Prince. Arms of Orion, Prince and Sheena Easton.

cherrymoonParade (Music from the Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon). OMG, I LOVE Under the Cherry Moon!! The adventures of Tricky and the Christopher Tracy? Kristin Scott Thomas? The Wrecka Stow? Brilliant. It really think I need to own this film. The soundtrack is just not enough. But even if there was no movie, this is one of the best albums that I own.

Essentials: Under the Cherry Moon, Girls & Boys, Mountains, Kiss, Anotherloverholenyohead, all by Prince & the Revolution.

princePRPurple Rain. Again, this needs no explanation. I know some kids will see this movie today and not understand it. But those of my generation see it as a work of brilliance. We’d gladly purify ourselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Essentials: ALL OF THEM! Namely, Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, The Beautiful Ones, Computer Blue, Darling Nikki, When Doves Cry, I Would Die For U, Baby I’m A Star, Purple Rain, all by Prince & The Revolution. Literally the whole album. No exceptions.

jazzsingerThe Jazz Singer. Neil Diamond. Sir Laurence Olivier. ‘Nuff said.

Essentials: Love on the Rocks, America, Hello Again, all by Neil Diamond.

SideBoys On The Side. The caliber of ladies they got for this soundtrack truly proves that men need not be the main course.

Essentials: You Got It, Bonnie Raitt; I Take You With Me, Melissa Etheridge; Somebody Stand By Me, Stevie Nicks; Dreams, Cranberries; Why, Annie Lenox; Ol’ 55, Sarah McLachlan; and one of the greatest songs to grace the planet: Willow, Joan Armatrading.

DRCDetroit Rock City. Honestly, I know I saw this film, but I don’t remember it. The soundtrack, though, is unforgettable. You gotta lose your mind in De-troit Rock City!

Essentials: Shout it Out Loud, Detroit Rock City, both by Kiss; Iron Man, Black Sabbath; Surrender, Cheap Trick; Rebel Rebel, David Bowie.

PWPretty Woman. I’ve developed a complete repulsion by anything related to Julia Roberts in the years since I first saw this film. But I still love the soundtrack.

Essentials: King of Wishful Thinking, Go West; Fallen; Lauren Wood; It Must Have Been Love, Roxette.

streetsoffireStreets of Fire. Again, no one who reads this blog needs an explanation.

Essentials: Nowhere Fast, Tonight Is What it Means To Be Young, both by Fire Inc.; I Can Dream About You, Dan Hartman; Never Be You, Maria McKee; Sorcerer, Marylyn Martin.

FDFlashdance. Because this is me we’re talking about here!
Essentials: ALL OF THEM. Ok, I’ll narrow it down. A little: Maniac, Michael Sembello; I’ll Be Here Where the Heart Is, Kim Carnes; Lady, Lady, Lady, Joe Esposito; Imagination, Laura Branigan; Flashdance …What A Feeling, Irene Cara.

OTHERS: Some other soundtracks with really amazing stuff: Cruel Intentions; Boyz N Da Hood; The Devil Wears Prada; Fame, Waiting to Exhale, Slumdog Millionaire; Saturday Night Fever.

That was fun, and I have a new playlist for my weekend trip to New York City. Have a safe holiday, y’all!

[Roll credits]

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Jukebox: Whitney!

NippyYesterday was Whitney Houston’s birthday. And she’s about to put out new music. This is a cause for celebration – and a Jukebox.

Million Dollar Bill, Whitney Houston. I’m so excited that Whitney is putting out a new album. Really. I have been rooting for this girl for so long, and to see her pull herself together and get back to the business of making music makes me so happy. I know some people don’t like this track. I do. Is she the same Whitney she was in 1985? No. Because that was 24 years ago! But she sounds good, she isn’t using autotune like other people (Mariah, you should be ashamed!) Welcome back, Whit! Yay!

You Give Good Love, Whitney Houston. I sang this song at my very first talent show. I was in middle school, and I did pretty well. From that point on, the school’s principal called me Whitney. Which, I thought, was pretty cool.

Saving All My Love For You, Whitney Houston. Y’all know you wanna sing alone. “But no other maaaaaaaaaaan’s gonna doooooooooo. So I’m saaaaaavin’ all my loooove for yoooooooouuuu…”

How Will I Know, Whitney Houston. OMG, OMG, OMG this video made me fall in LOVE with this woman! I remember styling my hair exactly like this. Bow and all. And yes, it was that big. The bow and the hair.

Nobody Loves Me Like You Do, Whitney Houston and Jermaine Jackson. Ooooh, remember those pair of duets Whitney did with Jermaine?! There was If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful and this track. Oh, and she and Jermaine performed this track on As The World Turns before Whitney was famous. And some wonderful person put it on YouTube. Love the interwebs!

Hold Me, Whitney Houston and Teddy Pendergrass. Whoever had the idea to put these two voices together (I’m guessing it was Clive Davis) deserves an award!

I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Whitney Houston. Boy did the hair grow in height by this time! That’s ok. Nippy could pull it off.

So Emotional, Whitney Houston. Not one of my favorite tracks, but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.

For The Love Of You, Whitney Houston. This take on an Isley Brothers classic is one of my favorite Whitney tracks.

Didn’t We Almost Have It All, Whitney Houston. Oh, I idolized this woman when this song came out. Watching her sing this is like witnessing a great feat, like an ice skater pulling off a quadruple toe loop or a slugger hitting an in-the-park home run. Something rare and amazing.

I’m Your Baby Tonight, Whitney Houston. My FAVORITE Whitney song EVER! This track gives me vivid memories of driving down 13 Mile Road to and from high school in my big, gold Buick LeSabre singing this at the top of my lungs. “You gotta, you gotta way that you’re makin’ me feel I can, feel I can do a-ny-thing for you baby!” I’m bummed I can’t find an embeddable version of this video to post here, but you can click here to see it. Really. Do it.  She channels the Supremes and Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich. Love it!

All The Man That I Need, Whitney Houston. I thought this was the ultimate power ballad. Little did I know the next two songs would come a couple of years later.

I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston. Remember, she married Bobby Brown and was pregnant, and everyone was worried about her, and then she came out with this. And I thought – Whitney is just fine. Little did I know, but it was a nice feeling at the time.

I Have Nothing, Whitney Houston. This song made me feel like I did when Didn’t We Always Have It All came out. This vocal performance is astonishing. Really. No other word for it.

I’m Every Woman, Whitney Houston. You gotta be bad to pull off a Chaka cover. Of course, Nippy hit it out of the ballpark. And how cute is she?!? With her little bob and pregnant belly! Oh, there’s Lisa Lopes! Sads…

Exhale (Shoop, Shoop), Whitney Houston. Great track from a great movie.

Could I Have This Kiss Forever, Whitney Houston and Enrique Iglesias. I. Forgot. About. This. Song!!! I just found it doing my other Whitney searchs. I LOVE IT!  I’m downloading off iTunes as soon as I get home. OMG, it reminds me of living in New York when I was a grad student. Such a great time. Oh, poor Enrique. You didn’t have a chance on this track. Whitney’s gotta be Whitney!

Try It On My Own, Whitney Houston. Yes, I know I was probably the only person on the planet to plunk down my 99 cents for this track on iTunes. But I do really like it. Plus I want to support Nippy. Even if she wasn’t entirely together yet.

It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok, Whitney Houston. Oh, this is my song. Particularly the remix. When I need to drop five pounds in a hurry I go the treadmill once a week and put this song on the iPod. I feel like I can do anything. I can pay my own rent. Pay my light bill. Take care of my babies. Oh! Oh, Ohhhh-oh!

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