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THE HALL OF FAME DANCEÂ… The battle of disco divadom seems to be breaking out all over again. This time the question seems to be whether or not Donna Summer will beat Gloria Gaynor into the Dance Music Hall of Fame? Summer and Gaynor are just two of ten artist nominees in this new annual dance music honor. Only three artist nominees will be inducted into the inaugural class of 2004, and Summer and Gaynor both face serious competition from the Bee Gees, James Brown and KC & The Sunshine Band, to name three fellow disco-era legends. Disco predominates in all categories, because only those artists whose careers began at least 25 years ago are eligible for nomination. The seminal electronic act Kraftwerk is one rare non-disco nominee, but despite a lackluster album last year, they, probably more than any other 25-year-old or older act, fulfill the ceremony’s criteria of artists who "have had a significant role in the ongoing evolution of dance music." So odds are there’s only room for either Summer or Gaynor — not both — to get the nod. In our estimation Summer has the edge, as do her producers, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellote, for the one producer inductee slot (out of three nominees). And then there’s Summer’s "I Feel Love," which will surely be one of five songs inducted out of 15 nominees, considering that it’s still repeatedly sampled and tweaked by major DJs and remixers on CD compilations. Also nominated: "Never Can Say Goodbye" by Gaynor, Diana Ross‘ "Love Hangover," Cheryl Lynn‘s "Got to Be Real," Thelma Houston‘s "Don’t Leave Me This Way." The honor explicitly is not based solely on sales or popularity, so it’s anyone’s guess what the 1,000-member international voting committee will recognize. One remixer (out of three nominees) and three DJs (out of ten nominees) will also be inducted at the ceremony to be held in New York this spring. For more information, see www.dmhof.comÂ…
GIMME GIMME GIMME (AN A)Â… ABBA was not among the inaugural nominees for the Dance Music Hall of Fame, even though the 30th Anniversary of their breakthrough, with "Waterloo" at the Eurovision Song Contest, is this year. Surely that oversight will be corrected among the nominations next year. But why wait? New ABBA material will be available in just a couple months. Almost ABBA, that is: the group’s blond female singer Agnetha FÃ¤ltskog will release her first solo album in some 17 years. And almost new, in the sense that the album is made up of covers of previous non-ABBA hits. News of FÃ¤ltskog’s return to the studio late last year sparked an intense bidding war from several record labels, Billboard reports. Warner Music Scandinavia won the worldwide rights to release My Coloring Book, whose title track was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb (Chicago) and has been recorded by Barbra Streisand and Dusty Springfield, among others. The first single, "If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind," was originally recorded by Cilla BlackÂ…
THE YEAR’S DANCE AWARDSÂ… Kylie Minogue won her first Grammy this year, nabbing the Best Dance Recording for "Come Into My World." Minogue’s "Can’t Get You out of My Head" was mistakenly not nominated last year, when "Love at First Sight" lost out to Dirty Vegas‘ "Days Go By." Maurice Joshua scored his first Grammy this year as well, winning the best dance remixer award for Maurice’s Soul Mix of Beyonce‘s "Crazy in Love." Minogue bested Madonna ("Die Another Day") and Cher for her award, but she wasn’t so charmed at the 2004 Brit Awards, the British equivalent of the Grammys. Despite Minogue’s long-standing success in the U.K., Beyonce trounced her with the award for the year’s International Female Artist. Basement Jaxx trounced other worthy contenders Goldfrapp, Groove Armada, Kosheen and Lemon Jelly to justly win as British Dance Act. And Duran Duran was handed the 2004 Outstanding Contribution award by International Male Artist Justin Timberlake, whose breast-revealing reflex was apparently kept in checkÂ…
"REALITY" MUSICÂ… Music is but one venue for reality TV celebrities to try to stretch out their thirteen minutes of fame (fifteen, when you add in erectile dysfunction commercials). But do we really want to hear Paris Hilton sing? Only if she makes another "music" video with Rick Solomon, I say. Still, ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez is working on some tracks for a coming debut album from LA Sleep Inn, and he had these profound words to say to Rolling Stone: Hilton "knows she’s going to stand under a microscope and everybody’s going to scrutinize the hell out of her, and I’m proud of her for being brave enough to do it.” Ah yes, for her bravery she deserves a Purple Heart. Meanwhile, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey just might record a full album of duets if the MTV Newlyweds’ remake of Berlin‘s "Take My Breath Away" is a hit. But no one wants to see that. Nor do we want to see their wish, according to Billboard, to be the "Sonny and Cher of the 21st century" come true. Do we? Heaven help us. American Idol of course is one reality show where music takes center stage among its stars. But its stars don’t always manage to stay on center stage for long, as first-season runner-up Justin Guarini found out late last year, when RCA dropped him from his contract, on account of disastrous album sales. Apparently it’s easier to be an American Idol anti-star. Did you see the little guy butchering Ricky Martin‘s "She Bangs" last month in the early round of the third season? Billboard reports that this guy, William Hung, he of the flailing arms, lack of rhythm and engineer’s sensibility, has developed quite the fan base. He’s been sought out by talk shows and even courted by a record label and a music video production company. Fortunately, he turned the label down, though he could yet reappear again, as a contestant on an Idol "loser" special, called "Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented"Â…
NASTY GIRL FUMBLEÂ… Oh, Janet. You despicable, deplorable, lowlife you, how you defamed our pop culture by almost but not really baring your nipple. On national TV. In front of millions. During the Super Bowl. On the geriatrics network. The White House responded to the shenanigans, stating, “It’s important for families to be able to expect a high standard when it comes to programming.” Yes, high standards are indeed expected from today’s network TV; well, just as high as lowbrow entertainment can get. So naturally all the conservative culture vultures attack Janet Jackson for showing a wee bit of skin. Yet they say nary a word about all the “classless, crass and deplorable” million-dollar ads for beer, erectile dysfunction, more beer, soft drinks, still more beer — or of Kid Rock’s tacky American-flag-defamed-as-T-shirt getup. The above quoted adjective-laden outrage, by the way, came from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell, who is investigating the Janet “Nasty Girl” fumble and may possibly fine CBS to the tune of millions of dollars. The Associated Press reported that fact in an article that spun the “Nasty Girl” incident as one that “set new standards for raunch in an entertainment industry that seems to be setting new highs — or lows — every day.” In fact, it’s the overheated, puritanical response that’s really deplorable. Why, her nipple wasn’t even exposed, and if you blinked you missed the whole thingÂ….
NO WAITING AWHILEÂ… Details about Janet’s upcoming album had just been announced in the week prior to her overexposure — and that stunt was as unplanned (right) as was the release from her label, Virgin Records, of the album’s first single the day after the Super Bowl. They want us to believe otherwise, of course. Billboard reported about a Janet “leak” — timely word choice there — on the Internet of “Just a Little While,” which prompted Virgin to deliver the single to radio on the double. The magazine reported that the mid-tempo song had not even been selected yet as the first single for release from the album, Damita Jo, due March 30. Yeah, sure. Now why would someone leak the song at the precise moment her name was on everyone’s lips? Who would do such a thing? Janet plans to tour this summer in support of the album. Bared breast or no, it should be the best spectacle of the yearÂ….
SEVEN DEADLY WORDSÂ… Janet isn’t the only pop star to run afoul of the high standards some naÃ¯ve souls expect from TV. More than a year after U2’s Bono said, “This is really, really fucking brilliant” on an NBC-televised event, Rolling Stone reports that a bill has been introduced in Congress to ban from all radio and network television the following words: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and asshole. They make even you feel dirty reading them, don’t they? But banned? “These seven words don’t have any possible use over the public airwaves that can be anything but profane,” said Representative Doug Ose (R-Calif.). Well, if they’re gonna do it, they ought to do it right and add two more words to the collection: Bill O’ReillyÂ…
AFTER AFTER-GLOWÂ… Sarah McLachlan will also tour this summer, in support of her best-selling Afterglow (Arista) album. She’ll stop at the MCI Center August 11. In a perfect world, she’d be touring in support of last month’s Remixed (Arista) collection. That’s not to say Afterglow doesn’t have its moments (“Fallen,” “Stupid”). But moments are all you get from the album, for which McLachlan seems to have written most songs in a yawning calm state just before going to bed and then performed them in a groggy haze just after waking. She slept on them, in other words. It’s not an entirely new development for Slow-Moving McLachlan, of course, but she does seem to be sleeping a lot more these days. Still, like a hot, morning shower, a skilled remixer can enliven what often turns out to be in her case a pop treasure. DJ Tiesto showed himself to be that with one of his first productions, of “Silence” by Delerium feat. McLachlan, and then again with his even more dramatic rendering of “Sweet Surrender,” from McLachlan’s previous studio album, 1997’s Surfacing (Arista). Unfortunately, even though Remixed came out two months after Afterglow, none of that albums tracks are featured.
So here’s a suggestion for the desperately needed Remixed 2: Have Tiesto handle every track. I mean no slight to William “Ray of Light” Orbit, who stuns with his fragile, haunted-by-Sinead O’Connor remix of “Black,” or to Rabbit In The Moon, who takes control of “Possession” and makes it actually rock. But this and many other remix albums suffer from a lack of common vision, with tracks that cut and bleed into each other, slapped together in haste by a label trying to recoup money from a faltering artist. (Deborah Cox, Madonna and above all Mariah Carey being three other recent examples.) Having one remixer recreate one artist’s work forces everyone involved to be more thoughtful about the project, and should result in an album that presents a singular ideology you admire even if you hate it, in its entirety. It’s a risk, definitely, for the artist, for the remixer — forcing him to be consistently creative — and for the label, since it doesn’t hedge bets. Plus, no one knows if there’s a real audience for a truly “remixed and revisited” album in this day of the dawning singleÂ….