Soundwaves

Queer Eye's Jai sings, t.A.T.u.'s tired politics, Morrissey returns, Amnesty's Music for Human Rights


QUEER "CULTURE" GUY SINGS… We never knew Jai Rodriguez had it in him. Oh sure, he’s the Culture Guy, but yogurt has more active culture than he has screen time on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. So naturally he’s working to step around Fashion Guy/Mother-Hen Carson Kressley‘s overpowering shadow. He’s currently in the studio recording his debut album, with tracks ranging from dance to R&B to pop, Billboard reports. And yes, the magazine added, he can sing. Of course he can: he performed on and off Broadway in the musicals Rent and the short-lived Zanna, Don’t! before his Queer Eye days. Rodriguez told Billboard, "I want to be known as a performer, not solely as ‘the culture guy.’" He’s hoping to complete the album by June, though he hasn’t lined up an album deal yet. In the meantime, he was not selected to appear solo on Capitol Records’ Queer Eye soundtrack, due next monthÂ…


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Zanna Don’t

WHILE QUEER FASHION GUY SPINS… In the meantime, that savvy Carson casts an ever-larger shadow, continuing his walk far beyond fashion right into Rodriguez’s "culture" territory. Billboard reports Kressley’s set to DJ. And hey, if Paris Hilton can do it and get an American Dance Award nomination to boot, why the hell not? Actually, he’s just one of several taking to the decks at a New York benefit party next month, along with Beastie Boy Mike D, B-52 Fred Schneider and Tim Sweeney of hot dance/rock remix/production team DFA. Rodriguez, however, is not scheduled to spinÂ…


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Morrissey

MORRISSEY RETURNS… Rodriguez also told Billboard: "A few years ago, I never would have thought that a 24-year-old gay man could have a chance in the world of music. But the times have changed. Now, anything is possible." Said like a naïve 24-year-old. Why, when Rodriguez was just a toddler, a 24-year-old Morrissey had a chance in the world of music, both as lead singer of The Smiths and later as a solo artist. It’s been a long seven years since his last album, and longer still since his last hit, but he’ll try again in May, with the release of You Are the Quarry (Attack/Sanctuary). He’s expected to tour behind the album, which Billboard reports is being produced by Jerry Finn, who has worked with Green Day and Blink-182Â…

ALL THE THINGS SAID… Last year, The Smith’s 1985 single "How Soon Is Now?" was reborn by the too-chipper-by-half t.A.T.u. A year later, any appeal it had is gone; in fact, all of t.A.T.u.’s 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane (Interscope) has grown worse for wear, especially since the gimmick appears to have been nothing more than that, if British tabloids are to be believed. "We are very tired of each other and it’s not fun playing lesbians any more," the duo’s Lena Katina told The Sun earlier this month, which also reported she plans to leave the group for a solo career this spring. Is this just yet another gimmick to garner more publicity? I guess we’ve been had, if so. Why stop now? The British Hello! tabloid reported this month that the t.A.T.u. twosome have said they will jointly run against their country’s president, Vladimir Putin, when Russians vote this year. So are they tired of each other, or not? Aren’t you tired of them?Â…

AMNESTY’S WORTHWHILE MUSICAL PUZZLE… Who is Revboy? That’s the intriguing question provoked by Amnesty International‘s high-profile and high-caliber compilation Music for Human Rights (Asterisk Entertainment), on which an artist identified as Revboy appears alongside Coldplay, Radiohead, Aimee Mann, Beth Orton, and David Gray. It’s a decidedly alt-pop collection, crowned by Badly Drawn Boy‘s soaring, orchestral-pop treasure "Bedside Story." Revboy’s "Lean on Me" closes out the collection and provides the second most compelling reason to buy it (supporting Amnesty is the first, of course, which is the only way you can lay claim to a copy by visiting www.musicforhumanrights.com). According to a press release, Revboy is a collective of artists dedicated to free speech and artistic expression who "for politically sensitive reasons" have chosen to remain anonymous. That’s a curious explanation, but the lack of identity provides up to an hour of fun playing back the tune trying to guess who Revboy’s lead singer is. Could it be The Church’s Steve Kilbey? Oasis’s Liam Gallagher? Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett? Could it even be Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose, as one critic suggested? And can we get another clue? Eventually yes, since Revboy is said to be contributing additional tracks to additional benefit compilations just like this one. But we may never know the answerÂ…

RAW LIKE CHERRYÂ… Remember Neneh Cherry, the sassy girl with the sexy "Buffalo Stance" circa 1989? Where is she now? Well, she’s also featured on Amnesty’s Music for Human Rights, dueting with Arrested Development’s Speech, recording together as 1 Giant Leap. Last year, Cherry turned up singing on two infectious tracks of Groove Armada’s under-appreciated rock ‘n’ dance album, Lovebox (Jive). Now, she’s reported to be working on a fourth solo album. In the meantime, I dare you to pull out her old albums, if you’ve still got ‘em. Sure they’re riddled with dated sonics, but then as now, she’s got itÂ…


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Neneh Cherry

Badly Drawn Boy

B-52′s

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

Soundwaves

Tribal masters T-Pro and Angel C, Queer Eye soundtrack, Kylie Minogue, more



Tribal Pleasures

AY, GAY TRIBAL PAPISÂ… The publicist sent out what was in effect an all-points bulletin: "Both Angel C and T-Pro are gay and out — and were doing the tribal thing long before the straight boys like Victor Calderone dipped in." Calling all danceheads: have you seen Angel C and T-Pro? You probably haven’t heard of them either. And that is unfortunate, though not because of the hard-to-confirm hyperbolic claim that they are the original "NYC tribal masters," the "grandpapis" of the latest tribal house trendsetters, including gay faves Calderone, Murk, and to varying degrees Peter Rauhofer and Chris Cox. One listen to their jointly mixed compilation of dazzling polyrhythmic percussive assaults, Tribal Pleasures (Jellybean Recordings/Sony Discos), and you’ll be upset that the alarm wasn’t sounded earlier. In fact, the new CD’s only failing is the sirens that wail occasionally in the latter half of the hour-long disc. Generally the mark of an unimaginative DJ — or at best one who indulges his crowd’s demand for sensory enhancement — blaring sirens are merely annoying live. On record? They’re unforgivable.

But we’d forgive Angel C and T-Pro if the two would finally venture down for a live engagement in Washington, where they’d be sure to rouse the crowd with their Afro-Latin brand of house. After all, T-Pro is from D.C., where he spun in Tracks’ video room for a time. There’s really no excuse. If "Nuyorican" T-Pro and "Mexi-Rican" Angel C’s live set is as awe-inspiring as this CD, which sets the best-compilation-of-2004 bar incredibly high incredibly early, the two would be the talk of the town for monthsÂ…

THE DANCE AWARD GOES TO, PARIS HILTON?Â… We’re moving full-speed ahead — did someone say kicking and screaming? — right into awards season. For dance music, one of the two biggest awards pageants has just announced its exhaustive list of nominees. (The Winter Music Conference’s International Dance Music Awards should be announced shortly.) The general public can vote in DanceStar’s American Dance Music Awards, to be presented March 9 in Miami as part of dance music’s biggest week of the year. Moby will be honored with the Outstanding Contribution to American Dance Music. Paul Van Dyk and the Crystal Method racked up the most nominations with five each; BT scored four; and Peter Rauhofer, Murk, Benny Benassi and OutKast — yes, the hip-hop duo — all garnered three apiece. Basement Jaxx will face stiff competition from BT, the Crystal Method, OutKast and Van Dyk for Best Album, for Kish Kash (Astralwerks). Meanwhile, BT’s "Simply Being Love (Somnambulist)" goes up against, among others as Best Single: Kelis’ "Milkshake," OutKast’s "Hey Ya," and Dannii Minogue‘s "I Begin to Wonder," from her forgettable recent album Neon Nights (Ultra). Who will reign as Best DJ: Victor Calderone, Deep Dish, Murk’s Oscar G, Rauhofer? Someone else? And will Paris Hilton snag the Best Celebrity DJ category? Yes, there really is such an award, and yes, she really is nominated. Air your grievance at www.dancestar.comÂ…



Queer Eye Soundtrack

QUEER EYE, HOW BRITISHÂ… This may prove quite a remarkable year for the completely reunited Duran Duran, and their forthcoming studio album, their first in decades, may get a boost from those Queer Eye guys. The group’s brand-new "Sunrise" single will feature on the first Queer Eye for the Straight Guy soundtrack (Capitol), which was seemingly inspired by recent British pop charts in compiling its tracks, including Basement Jaxx, a recent British chart-topper from Elton John and another from British singer Jamelia. Also featured is a Chemical Brothers (see, British again) remix of "Slow" by Kylie Minogue (not British, but she has called London home for years).



Kylie Minogue

Minogue’s latest album, Body Language (Capitol) drops the same day stateside as the Queer Eye soundtrack, which also happens to be the same day we’ll see the return of Melissa Etheridge, with Lucky (Island), Norah Jones, with Feels Like Home (Blue Note), and Gloria Estefan, with the DVD Live & Unwrapped (Epic). The day in question? Feb. 10, also the birthday of a certain Metro Weekly writer. A good day, indeedÂ…

NFL’S POLITICAL FUMBLEÂ… The National Football League is stirring up politics, however unintentionally, in its plans for Super Bowl pre-game and halftime performances. While Janet Jackson will headline the halftime show and Beyonce will croon the national anthem, U2′s Bono will be sitting on the sidelines, where he was benched. Unconscionably, the NFL rejected a noble offer from Bono to perform a new song, "An American Prayer," with Jennifer Lopez, that focuses on the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The NFL justified its fumble with the statement that it wanted to keep the focus on entertainment, not politics. That claim is all-but betrayed by plans of the game’s organizers. "Welcome to Houston — the Spirit of Texas" is the chosen theme for Super Bowl XXXVIII, which will probably be the most watched show of this election year when the incumbent President is from Texas. Perhaps that can be excused by mere coincidence of geography, but there’s also this: the pre-game lineup includes the not-a-Texan Toby Keith, a celebrated fan of the incumbent President, but not his dueling pop-politico partners, the truly-Texan Dixie Chicks, who are decidedly not fans of the incumbent President. Regardless of the alleged non-political political motives though, wouldn’t you be more entertained by Bono and Lopez than by other scheduled performers Aerosmith or Josh Groban? Or P. Diddy? None of them are from Texas, by the wayÂ…

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

Soundwaves

Hippity-Hoppity, Missy Elliott, Angie Stone, Seal

BETWEEN HIP-HOP AND COLDPLAYÂ… Hip-hop has dominated the pop charts for years now, but until just recently it existed mostly in a vacuum, where only true aficionados listened on their own time away from the radio and where hip-hop artists drew inspiration only from their hip-hop peers and rivals, not pop or rock artists. Now, however, the most creative hip-hoppers have also become the most popular by drawing from early house sounds (Missy Elliott, the Neptunes), from up-tempo pop-rock (Outkast, the Neptunes again), even from no-fan-of-Eminem techno (all three previously mentioned). Coldplay is about the only artist in the main Grammy categories this year not creating hip-hop. But that was so 2003. This year, when the British pop-rock band releases its third album, hip-hop should factor in the mix. The group has recorded a track with acclaimed white British rapper The Streets and is in discussion to collaborate with Timbaland, the producer behind Elliott’s work. Apparently, it was at Timbaland’s suggestion. “Hip-hop is the same ol’, same ol’," he told BBC Radio. "I can do a beat and keep doing it, but it’s not the same. The only musician I’d like to do a song with is Coldplay." Rock, to say nothing of Coldplay, may never be the same again.



Elliott

Timbaland, incidentally, is working with other musicians in producing a remake of "We Are the World," this time to raise funds for worldwide HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs. Billboard reports that Missy Elliott and Justin Timberlake will co-author the new version, due this spring. Entitled "The World Is Ours," the track will, like the 1985 original co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, involve an all-star roster of more than 40 vocalists. Surely Jackson won’t be involved again. And will the elder Ritchie be replaced by his simpleton daughter Nicole? Oh god, let’s hope notÂ…

THE ‘NOW SCHOOL’ OF DANCEÂ… Dance music may be changing with help from hip-hop, as well. As chanteuse Angie "Wish I Didn’t Miss You" Stone told Billboard: “Hip-hop and dance must embrace each other. It is now school, not old school. It’s time to stop putting limits on ourselves as to what we can and can’t do.” Dance music and hip-hop ignited from the same post-disco R&B ash heap, but didn’t completely drift away from each other for a decade. Another decade later, here’s hoping the two are back to make sweet music together along the lines of last year’s Six Million Ways to Live from the British Dub Pistols, one of the best melds ever of hip-hop and dance styles. There are two promising developments already underway in 2004: the oft-cited godfather of hip-hop, Afrika Bambaataa (also a house and techno pioneer), will release a new album on Tommy Boy, the one record label that has always celebrated the intersection of hip-hop and dance. And Elliott’s latest track, "Pass That Dutch," has been puff-puff-passed to Dutchman The Scumfrog, who took an unusually light approach to remixing it, speeding up the mid-tempo chugging rhythm only a notch or two. Best yet, it’s available for free, legally, from www.thescumfrog.comÂ…

LIPS LIKE SPLENDAÂ… As much fun as the Black Eyed Peas can be, Spandau Ballet‘s hit "True" will probably never sound the same after the Peas’ rework it. You heard right. The Peas are just one in a lineup of contemporary pop artists taking on 1980s rock and pop classic tunes to pad the soundtrack to the latest Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore film comedy, 50 First Dates. Truth is, the Peas may not even create the worst cover. Wyclef Jean, with Eve, taking on the Outfields’ "Your Love.” Seal taking on Echo & the Bunnymen’s "Lips Like Sugar." Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath covering the Psychedelic Furs‘ "Ghost in You.” Any one or all of those could be worse, and then there’s UB40 remaking the Police‘s "Every Breath You Take" or 311 doing The Cure‘s "Love Song." The film and the soundtrack will be released next monthÂ…

BIGGEST BEATS IN 2003Â… Speaking of Seal, the artist was responsible for the second most-popular dance track at clubs across the land in 2003, according to Billboard. His "Get It Together," as remixed by Peter Rauhofer, Superchumbo and Bill Hamel, among others, fell behind only The Weekend Players "Into the Sun," on the year-end Club Play chart and came in just ahead of Murk vs. Kristine W.’s "Some Lovin" and "Dark Beat" from Oscar G. & Ralph Falcon (a.k.a. Murk, a.k.a. Funky Green Dogs). Sadly, Seal’s better tune "Waiting for You," as remixed most effectively by the Passengerz, didn’t chart. Madonna‘s "Die Another Day" claimed the top spot in dance CD maxi-single sales. Felix da Housecat‘s haunted-house spook-tacular remix was far and away the most imaginative on that disc (besting the tired Dirty Vegas, the blah Deepsky, the sayonara Thunderpuss). But even that wasn’t as much fun as da Housecat’s appropriately creepy tweaking of "American Life," found on the No. 8 best-selling CD singleÂ…


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Missy Elliott

The Neptunes

Timbaland and Magoo

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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