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TIESTO GLOWS BESTÂ… Reasonable people can argue about whether DJ Tijs "Tiesto" Verwest or DJ Paul van Dyk is the best trance DJ in the world. But Tiesto has laid claim to nearly all the major DJ awards in the past year, and the honors generally transcend trance, anointing him the "Best International DJ" or "Best DJ in the World." Washingtonians get a rare chance to see what all the fuss is about when the fascinated-by-flying Dutch DJ comes to town this Saturday. His recently released two-disc compilation, Nyana (Nettwerk), paints an appealing snapshot of his capability. He distinguishes between "Outdoor" and "Indoor" dancing, with disc one focused on the music he plays at an outdoor festival and disc two focused on music for the nightclub. The nightclub, no surprise, is the better venue, with its sophisticated mix of trance — or fast-paced, keyboard-happy music — and progressive house, with its varied tempo of rock-oriented dancepop. Tiesto spent more time on "Indoor," he says, working to seamlessly blend the tracks, which are all driven by melody. Still, the best track, the title track, is lodged midway through disc one, just before Tiesto’s spellbinding, banghra remix of "Tears from the Moon" by Conjure One featuring Sinead O’Connor. And "Nyana" is a perfectly rendered interpretation of Tiesto’s encounter with a beautiful cheetah in South Africa, who runs away in fear to a rush of pulsating keyboards. Tiesto appears at Glow, www.clubglow.com, Saturday, November 1Â…
Harris and Cox are flying solo
THUNDERSTORM’S OVERÂ… Have you noticed the unusual absence on the dance scene of a formerly ubiquitous remixing/DJ duo? Your hunches have now been proven right — Thunderpuss is no longer. The gay one, Barry Harris, wanted out: "For me, Thunderpuss has simply run its course." His remixing partner Chris Cox was "shocked" by the news, according to Billboard, though there must have been signs. "I’m very proud of most [emphasis added] mixes we’ve done," Harris said in a post to the Thunderpuss website a month ago. "I’ve definitely sold my soul along the way," he added for even greater emphasis to Billboard. Harris will continue with his DJ and remix work as a solo artist, while Cox continues to produce for various dance artists, including Kristine W.‘s new album, as well as remix and DJ. One of Harris’ most recent solo remixes, that of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy "All Things" theme song, doesn’t portend well for the future. It’s nothing but predictable programmed cacophonyÂ…
QUEER EYE TAKEOVERÂ… Speaking of Queer Eye, Billboard reports that Capitol Records will soon release the theme song, written by the prospective Thunderpuss-replacing remixing/producing duo Widelife (Rachid Wehbi and Ian Nieman) and sung by former SNAP! singer Simone Denny. And in time for Christmas — Queer Eye for the Santa Guy? — Capitol plans to release a Queer Eye soundtrack, as well as a video for “All ThingsÂ…
STRAIGHT SOUL SHAKERÂ… Beyonce seemed a little uncomfortable when Queer Eye’s Fab Five bum-rushed her as they presented her an award at the MTV Video Awards several months ago. But she swears she wasn’t: "It really, really hurts me that people are saying that I said anything like that," Beyonce told the BBC. She wasn’t dancing around chatter about the Fab Five exactly, but to reports that she had invoked God in an interview as the reason she would never "kiss a woman" as Madonna and Britney did on the same MTV awards show. Beyonce proclaimed to the BBC that her kisses are just as juicy and non-judgmental with her gay fans as with everyone else.Â As a queer kisser, you wanna believe someone who tells Rolling Stone, as Beyonce did a few weeks ago, "When I shake my butt, I feel it in my soul." Don’t ya?Â…
DESPERATELY SEEKING MOREÂ… The dance community, where it all started, is one of the few contingents of Madonna‘s fan base that continues to buy her music. So why not milk us for more, when the other utters of the former cash cow have run dry? Indeed, Madonna will release just before Thanksgiving Remixed & Revisited (Maverick/Warner Bros.), a short album somewhat similar in spirit to her 1987 You Can Dance. The set will feature previously unreleased remixes of tracks from this year’s American Life, including Jason Nevins’ radio mix of "Nothing Fails," just released as the album’s third single. Remixed & Revisited will also include the previously unreleased song “Your Honesty," recorded ten years ago with other tracks ("Secret," "Take a Bow") from Bedtime Stories. Madonna will test danceheads’ devotion even more, by releasing at the same time a CD Maxi single featuring remixes of three American Life songs: “Love Profusion,” “Nobody Knows Me” and “Nothing Fails"Â…
WORLD’S BEST POPULARITY CONTESTÂ… Mumbler rapper 50 Cent has been crowned the "World’s Best Artist 2003." And, somehow, he’s also the "World’s Best R&B Artist." 50 Cent, R&B? That’s like saying t.A.T.u. is the "World’s Best Duo." Oh, wait, they are, according to the totally silly yet completely serious 15th Annual World Music Awards, announced last weekend in Monaco. (No, not Club Monaco, though surely that’s the World’s Best Music Store, based on the awards’ line of reasoning.) Like a modern-day Eve Harrington, 50 Cent bested his progenitor, Eminem, who this year had to content himself with being designated the "World’s Best Pop/Rock Artist." World’s Best Dance Artist, you ask? Justin Timberlake. And just who makes these decisions, you also ask? It’s all our fault, the music-buying public: the winners are selected purely based on worldwide record sales.
This World’s Best Music Awards Show, co-hosted by Rupert Everett, of all blokes, was yet another to be upstaged by same-sex kissing shenanigans. No, not Madonna again, and not even t.A.T.u. Singer Pink, winner of the Best American Pop/Rock Female Artist award, kissed actress Kristanna Loken, who played a killer robot in — ahem — Terminator 3, and the tabloids are capitalizing on the development. Forget about tomboy Pink for a second — what might this do for Loken and her inevitable, eventual run for governor of the World’s Best Music State?Â…
Smith of The Cure
HEAD OVER HEELSÂ… At a time when the music industry is under more pressure than ever to be innovative or else lose even more customers and more money, label after label has taken to releasing new music from old, long-lost acts. You can’t exactly say the industry isn’t taking risks here. Who really knows if there’s any profit to be made these days from Duran Duran? There doesn’t seem to be lingering interest in Sir Mix-A-Lot or The Bangles — have you heard any buzz about their recently released albums? To that pot, you can also add three other groups trying to go where they went so long ago — the top of the charts, in the ’80s. More than a decade after Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith went their separate ways and attempted solo careers, the Tears for Fears duo is back. Known for the hits "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," "Shout" and "Head Over Heels," Arista Records will release their first group album in fourteen years early next year. The rock group Europe will also return next year with a world tour and a new album. The long, stringy, blond-haired power-pop rockers told the BBC that the album will be full of the syrupy sweet melodies that "The Final Countdown" ’80s band was known for, like virtually every Swedish pop act before and since. But it’s the return of The Cure that holds the best hope for success. Not only did these moody ’80s poppers have the more cult-like fan base, evidence suggests it’s still firmly in tack. Modern "it" bands, from Interpol to Hot Hot Heat, have derived much of their musical sensibility from the Cure. Interpol’s bassist Carlos Dengler explained the lasting appeal to Rolling Stone: "The Cure are the Led Zeppelin of the fucked-up generation. They will never get old." The group’s new album is due next springÂ…
KING OF POP’S LAST CHANCE?Â… When a new album from an old artist is a sure shot to fail, a greatest-hits package is the only hope for profit. So we find Epic Records’ November 18 release of Michael Jackson‘s Number Ones CD/DVD set. In truth, the release is Epic’s way of fulfilling its contract and thus breaking free from Jackson, who publicly feuded with the label two years ago. The title is misleading, since several of the 18 tracks included never hit No. 1 on any Billboard chart ("Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal" foremost among these), and at least one No. 1 ("Say, Say, Say," his duet with Paul McCartney) has gone missing. The compilation also includes a new single, "One More Chance," a title that sums up Jackson’s position for years now. Well, that’s not exactly fair, since his last studio album (and maybe really his last, ever), 2001’s Invincible, sold more than 2 million copies. That’s a paltry sum by previous King of Pop standards but about twice as much as what Madonna has achieved with this year’s American Life, for exampleÂ…
DANCE ON THE RADIOÂ… "For dance music to flourish in America, acts need more radio play," according to one of dance music’s biggest movers, DJ Paul Oakenfold. "For the scene to develop" as it has around the world, Oakenfold continued in an interview with Billboard magazine, "it needs faces and characters and songs. That’s one reason why hip-hop is as popular as it is." Working to test Oakenfold’s hypothesis, radio stations devoted to dance music are slowly sprouting around the country, with enough of them sticking to it to convince Billboard that it should create a Dance Radio Air Monitor chart. An inaugural seven stations will report their most played tracks to the magazine when it soon debuts the chart. Washington, however, is still MIA on this frontÂ…
ROLL OVER BEETHOVENÂ… Surely none of these dance radio stations will play the latest from bond. And why should they? No one would want to hear it — neither queer eyes (or ears in this case) nor straight guys, no matter the record label’s TV advertising blitz aimed at us. Vivaldi set to a hyper club beat? The James Bond 007 movie theme souped up more than a Bond sports car? Uh-oh. The mere idea of remixing classical music as dance music is absurd. Other artists are intrigued by incorporating dance elements into jazz and do so with considerable success, both commercially and artistically. Newly released examples include Verve Remixed 2 (Verve) and Koop’s Waltz for Koop: Alternative Takes (Palm Pictures). But artists who toil to add dance elements to classical music rarely succeed. And bond’s Remixed (Decca) is a failure. It’s not fair to say that bond, a classically trained, model-posturing girl group from the UK, merely reworks classical music standards. bond (spelled with a lower-case b to avoid copyrights, which they avoid as a matter of course) creates its own music, plucking its own super-syrupy strings, merely sampling Vivaldi and co. from time to time. Which is one thing to commend the quartet, if you need to hear a kind word. But even if you somehow can conjure more than one kind word to say about bond, there’s no need to bother with Remixed — just stick to the group’s first two albums, which were just fine, as pop/classical crossover attempts go.
TOURIN’ DURANÂ… In conjunction with the November 4 release of its Greatest (Capitol) two-disc DVD anthology, Duran Duran will tour around the country on a 25th Anniversary Tour, stopping in D.C at the Warner Theatre on November 9. It’ll be the first performance with all five original members of the Britpop group in almost two decades. And it’ll happen all over again next year, when the group plans to tour amphitheaters for the release of its first studio album as a big happy family. If you can get yourself to Australia in December, though, you’d get an extra treat, since Duran Duran will open for Robbie Williams in Melbourne (December 10) and Sydney (December 13-14)Â…
TRICK OR TREATÂ… Cher‘s really, truly saying her last goodbye with her ’til-now-thought-to-be never-ending Living Proof Farewell Tour. Not that’s she leaving for good, what with her headed back to the studio next year to produce a new album. But her tour is shutting down after a year and a half and 200 shows, and in the same place it started: Toronto. And if that’s not spook-tacular enough for you, she’s making it a disco-themed event, with guest appearances from the Village People, Sister Sledge and — why, this woman has sure made the rounds this year — Thelma Houston. Those queens in Toronto are quite lucky, eh?Â…
GET INTO THE GROOVEÂ… Peter Rauhofer has just remixed Madonna twice — "Get Into the Hollywood Groove," the medley from her Gap ad with Missy Elliott, and "Me Against the Music," her new collaboration with Britney Spears. The video for that song premieres October 13 on MTV. If you happen to be in New York, you could hear both Rauhofer remixes at the Roxy this Saturday, October 11, where he’ll premiere them for his Madonnathon party. But hey, might VelvetNation snag a copy to play at its own Madonnarama party, also this Saturday?Â…
Doug Rule can be reached at email@example.com.
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