Metro Weekly


Idol's William Hung, Dolce at Velvet, Armand Van Helden, Deborah Cox, more

HUNG OVERÂ… William Hung just might become the most remembered American Idol yet, despite his dismissal from the FOX show during the third season tryouts. Hung, known for his butchering of Ricky Martin‘s butcher-worthy "She Bangs," will bang bang your brain next week, when his debut album and his debut music video is released, and he’ll appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Right here, we really wish we could say gotcha, April Fool’s, and move on to more deserving subjects. But it’s no joke: This diminutive songwrecker who can’t sing and can’t dance really, truly will release his debut album — Inspiration  — thanks to the record label Koch Entertainment, where producing quality is obviously not job number one. The sure-to-be worst album of the year will include his sure-to-be "artistic recreations" of Martin’s "Shake Your Bon Bon," Elton John‘s "Rocket Man," Enrigue Iglesias‘ "Bailamos," among other tracks. But wait there’s more: the first batch of CDs will be packaged with a DVD of studio footage, "a day in the life" vignette and — get this — a Q&A with fans. What more could you ask for: A tranquilizer? A bullet to your brain?Â…

MIAMI MUSIC I: DOLCEÂ… Next Saturday, April 10, local DJ Yiannis will bring dance singer Dolce to town. Dolce will perform at Velvet Nation her latest song, "Feels Good," produced by the remixers Orange Factory, and of course her memorable 2002 dance hit "Fire," plus its 2003 follow-up, "Sorrow." Dolce, with the fire-y voice and presence, is now recording for Baltimore-based Act 2 Records, which is investing far more effort and money in promoting her than most independent labels do, Billboard says. Yiannis says she was one of the standout performers at last month’s weeklong dance music convivium in Miami…

MIAMI MUSIC II: ASTRIDÂ… Another Miami standout: Astrid Suryanto. The 22-year-old artist has been working closely with Victor Calderone in producing her debut album, due later this year. The first single from their collaboration, "Rainwater," is available now as a CD Maxi-Single from Strata Recordings, featuring six different mixes of the song plus the laid-back original. A little too laid-back, actually. Calderone’s first foray into producing music, "Rainwater" sneaks up on you but never sticks in your craw. It’s like whipped cream topping your Café Mocha — delightful but not the star attraction. That is, except when Calderone mixes it into his typical caffeinated beat-bed that he’s best known for. His Calderone Mix, created with That Kid Chris, embellishes the glimmering nature of Astrid’s wind-chiming original by adding invigorating, propulsive tribal-house twists. Astrid’s publicist, Leslie Hermelin, reports that Astrid, whose label is positioning her to be a first-name-only artist, gave the best performance she heard in Miami. Astrid’s live singing and guitar-playing, with accompaniment from a cellist, was so impressive that an MTV camera crew shifted its focus from a band performing nearby to film her. (No word on when or if the footage will air.) We don’t doubt it was a remarkable sight and sound, and we don’t mean to suggest Astrid doesn’t demonstrate tremendous potential. One listen to the CD Maxi-Single bonus track, "Hold On," proves, in fact, that she does. Its mesmerizing vocals adroitly match moody acoustic guitar strumming to create chilled-out bliss, a coffee house classicÂ…


Britney Spears: Toxic

George Michael: Patience

Deborah Cox: Remixed

MIAMI MUSIC III: ARMANDÂ… After years of absence, dance producer Armand Van Helden provided two of the most heard and talked about tracks during the Miami madness last month: his remix of Britney Spears‘ creepy-goodness track "Toxic," and even more his own "Hear My Name" featuring Spalding Rockwell. "Hear My Name" is infused with new-wave-ish electro funk and amounts to a dance version of giddy guitar rock. It’s irresistible ear candy, the first track of what promises to be a great forthcoming artist album from Van HeldenÂ…

DEBORAH COX’S BROADWAY BEATSÂ… Disney Theatrical Productions has just released a dance remix of one tune from its hit Elton John and Tim Rice‘s musical Aida. Dance power-pop vocalist Deborah Cox made her Broadway debut as the musical’s title character in February, taking over from power-pop cohort Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child). And to celebrate, Disney hired producer-extraordinaire (and coming Cherry 9 DJ) Tony Moran to remix Aida’s "Easy as Life." The rising, emotion-laden track is available for a limited time as a free streaming-audio download at From there you can also enter to win a weekend getaway that the gay-marketing promotional material called "fit for a princess like Aida, or a queen just like yourself," roundtrip airfare to New York, a stay at the W Times Square, dinner at Blue Fin, and front-row seats to see Aida. Cox will continue in the role of Aida through June. Who’ll star next, Whitney Houston? That would give new, literal meaning to the Houston-Cox dueling duet of years past, "Same Script, Different Cast"Â…

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.


Dance Star winners, 50 Cent's dislikes for gay men, Janet Jackson on the boob tube

DANCE MUSIC’S MOST POPULAR…Washington’s own Deep Dish was voted most popular DJ last week at the biggest annual confab of danceheads this side of the Atlantic. The DJ/production duo of Ali Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi won twice at the Dance Star USA awards in Miami — as best DJ (besting, among others, Victor Calderone, Danny Tenaglia and the only woman nominated, Sandra Collins) and for best compilation, for the accomplished two-disc Toronto 025. Voting was open to anyone who had an interest and an Internet connection, which might explain why Paris Hilton won as best celebrity DJ — or rather, why there was such a category in the first place. Still, most nominees in every category deserved the recognition. And even better, nearly every win was respectable, from Paul Van Dyk as best international DJ to Murk as best producer to Sander Kleinenberg for his best remix of Justin Timberlake‘s "Rock Your Body." The Crystal Method swept up the most awards — three, for best album, best single and best act — at what the New York Times called a "surreal, gaudy" ceremony hosted by Carmen ElectraÂ…


FRISCO HOUSE IN D.C…. Deep Dish took its name, in part, from the deep house style of dance music it practices. Even within that sub-subdivision of dance music, there’s apparently a further distinction between West Coast and East. Deep house everywhere is stripped of most of the bombast and hard beats of regular house, America’s mainstream brand of dance music that originated in Chicago. But East Coast deep house is colder, more mechanical, less-vocal-dependent. The West Coast sound is warmer and more organic, or so it would seem based on the sounds of Jay-J, a leading deep house practitioner based in San Francisco. His recently released Loveslapped Volume 3 is a transcendental compilation, a complex but smooth cocktail: three parts disco, one part jazz, one-part funk, shaken and stirred with casual rhythms and driving bass and capped off by vocals soaked in R&B/soul. It carries you away to a warm-weather resort, be it on the Pacific or Atlantic, where you soak up sun and chlorinated water at a Sunday afternoon pool party at a trendy yet laidback hotel — called the Raleigh, likelier than not. Here’s to Jay-J bringing the same sensibility — and some of the best tracks, including the More Vox Mix of Kaskade‘s "It’s You, It’s Me" and his own "Give A Little" and "Summertime," both featuring Latrice Barnett — when he spins this Saturday, March 20, at Club Five at 1218 18th Street NWÂ…


Janet Jackson: Damita Jo

Deep Dish

Crystal Method

50 CENT KICKS IT TO GAYSÂ… Have you read your copy of Playboy‘s April issue yet? Since we assume you could think of a million better things to do, we’ll dish the dirt for you: 50 Cent is flinging dirt at us. "I don’t like gay people around me, because I’m not comfortable with what their thoughts are." He’s uncomfortable about our thoughts? That bullet in his head’s affected more than his slurred rapping. "I’m not prejudiced, I just don’t go with gay people and kick it. We don’t have that much in common." Yes dear, you’re stating the obvious. "I’d rather hang out with a straight dude." Okay, Fiddy, now you’re starting to protest too much. So we guess there’s no truth to the rumor that you shot a recent video at Twist, a gay bar in Miami? The sometimes laugh-out-loud funny but always gay-sensible British gossip Web site,, recently said as much, but we have been unable to substantiate the rumor — either through any other credible sources or from the club itself. "But women who like women, that’s cool. I could get into that." And he has, at least through the girl-on-girl porn he’s currently producing. Plus, he’s the product of a mother whom he told Playboy is bisexual.

Fiddy goes on to tell Playboy, in a clear way of trying to deflect criticism: “It’s okay to write that I’m prejudiced. This is as honest as I could possibly be with you. When people become celebrities they change the way they speak. But my conversation with you is exactly the way I would have a conversation on the street. We refer to gay people as faggots, as homos. It could be disrespectful, but that’s the facts." Could be disrespectful, Fiddy? Do you really think we don’t know what’s said on the streets, Fiddy? Why don’t you try to change what’s said on the streets, Fiddy? Oh Fiddy, your role model Eminem has taught you too wellÂ…

DAMMIT JANET UPDATEÂ… You didn’t jreally think a week would go by without another incident did you? Last week ABC announced that a long-planned "Good Morning America" live concert with Janet Jackson would be tape-delayed five seconds — just in case. Before she sings almost live on the March 31 show, Jackson will sit for a non-delayed live interview with Charles Gibson, who better keep his hands to himself. It’ll be Janet’s first broadcast appearance since l’affair de boob. A little over a week later, Jackson will appear on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which will not be tape delayed. Let’s hope she takes advantage of that fact to parody herself and especially her critics. Here’s to at least one, umm, pointed counterattackÂ…

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.


Janet Jackson update, Missy Elliott's reality, Cesaria Evora and Daft Punk's remix

DAMMIT JANET: AN UPDATEÂ… How long can this go on? Not a week goes by without another attack against Janet Jackson in response to l’affair de boob. This week, it’s the Mouse who’s scurrying away. The Walt Disney Co. dumped a six-foot, 700-pound statue of Mickey Mouse dressed up in a replica of Jackson’s Rhythm Nation outfit, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Unveiled last fall at Walt Disney World to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Mouse, the bloused mouse was replaced by a spare statue designed by an in-house Disney artist. “Considering all the controversy it drew, we talked it over for a couple of days and decided it would be best to replace hers with a new one,” a Disney spokesperson said. Meanwhile, Mickey Mouse statues inspired by Andre Agassi, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ellen DeGeneres and 71 others remain untouched in the not-so-magic kingdomÂ…

REALITY BITES BACKÂ… In reality, l’affair de boob has done nothing to tame popstar — ahem — titillation. Missy Elliott, who took pains to coyly defend Janet last month, is now suggesting she just might outdo her, through her new “reality” series in development. On Wednesday, March 17, the city of Arlington, Va., will play host to auditions for the coming UPN series, which will revolve around singing/rapping/dancing recruits touring with Elliott as they hone their skills to become hip-hop stars. Elliott told reporters last month that the touring life often lends itself to intimate situations. “Once you spend a long time on the road, everyone starts looking good to each other,” Billboard quoted her as saying. Sounds naughty. Of course it won’t match what several of her male counterparts are selling. Snoop Dogg continues to pimp porn that he’s had great success with the past few years, so great that others, even 50 Cent, has begun his own porn series, as well. And no, they don’t actually “perform,” they merely act as masters of ceremony for the prototypical girl-on-girl debauchery. Oh, what a circusÂ…

DAFT PUNK, PUNK’DÂ… If you went against your better judgment and didn’t purchase Daft Punk‘s 2001 album Discovery (Virgin), do it now before picking up the new remix album Daft Club (Virgin). It’s actually debatable whether anyone needs to pick up Daft Club, even die-hard Daft Punk fans, since nearly every remix makes only minimal change to the original tracks. And it’s the rare remix here that offers minimal improvement. In fact, this compilation should be sought out less by Daft Punk fans than by fans of the best remixers here. That list doesn’t include Romanthony, whose atrocious, over-emoting ballad remix of “One More Time” is unfortunately the only version of the Punkster’s biggest hit. It also doesn’t include Demon, whose “Face to Face” remix sounds only half complete. “Face to Face” is just now ascending the Billboard Dance Chart, and it must be because of Cosmo Vitelli‘s warm, effervescent remix of it. (I’m guessing you missed Vitelli’s egregiously under-promoted album Clean last year. And you really mustn’t let that salutatory album of all-original songs go any longer. Vitelli, an obvious protégé of Daft Punk, just has to be an up-and-coming electro-pop purveyor.) The most notable remix on Daft Club comes courtesy of today’s leading pop producers, The Neptunes: It’s notable less because of the quality of the duo’s naturally minimalist tweaking of “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” but because it appears as yet another sign that hip-hop and dance-pop are bridging the genre gapÂ…

DANCING TO DESPAIRÂ… Club Sodade (Bluebird/BMG) is another remix album that should be sought out for the great remix work that anchors it. But this one also deserves the attention of even casual Cesaria Evora fans, and all would-be Evora fans. If you’re unfamiliar with Evora, it’s probably because she doesn’t sing in English — she sticks to Portuguese, the language of her native Cape Verde, and, at least once, Spanish. She also rarely moves beyond the slow-burn melancholy ballads that have little appeal on the dance floor, for the obvious reason: you can’t dance to them. A few years back the great James Bond singer, the jazzy, brassy Shirley Bassey received the remix treatment with The Remix Album: Diamonds Are Forever (Nettwerk), which continues to luster as one of the best remix compilations, ever. Despite its similar bevy of leading house music producers, Club Sodade is not quite at that level — mostly, the remixes here don’t stray beyond the chill-out category you’d expect of Evora. Few move into the never-before-imagined heights that so many of Bassey’s remixers reached amazingly well. But a couple do. Remixer Kerri Chandler does it twice on Club Sodade. Together DJ Rock and Demon Ritchie do too, turning out a full-flavor house brew of the title track. And then there’s Señor Coconut. Evora’s original version of the Mexican classic ballad “Besame Mucho” was a despairing ode that sounded as if she recorded it just after a bad breakup, in an empty, smoky bar. Coconut strips it down to just her resonating contralto vocals as he creates a frenzied remix that follows a Cuban cha-cha beat. Like this compilation itself, it makes you smile, it makes you chuckle, it makes you move. But it also makes you long for the sentimentality of Evora’s originalÂ…


Janet Jackson: Damita Jo

Daft Club

Club Sodade

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.


Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Pepper Mashay, and the Winter Music Conference

AFTERSHOCKS OF JANET’S JIGGLEÂ… Where’s Mary? As in Mary Cheney, the lesbian Second Daughter. That’s the question all good gay citizens should be asking, of course. But those of us also in the pop-music-junkie community can’t help but beckon for a different lady. Where’s Janet? Have you seen her? Too much of her, of course, and more than you ever wanted to. But that was a month ago. Thankfully, Janet Jackson‘s unplanned vacation should be over soon, as she reemerges to support her coming album, Damita Jo (Virgin), still scheduled for release March 30. Is her first single, the characteristically upbeat “Just A Little While,” stalled at No. 45 on the Billboard chart in reaction to her past overexposure, or to her current under-exposure? Well, exposing her right breast has had other repercussions. According to Billboard, Lena Horne objected to the Super Bowl Half-Time show-and-tell so strongly she effectively forced Jackson out of playing Horne in a long-planned ABC television biopic. Horne, 86, helped break Hollywood’s racial barriers in the 1940s and is best known for her hit “Stormy Weather.” She clouded the prospect for the film by refusing to cooperate as long as Jackson remained in the cast.

Also as a result of Jackson’s jiggle, MTV — one network implicated in l’affair de boob — pulled Britney Spears‘ “Toxic” video and six others from its extremely short primetime video lineup, according to Rolling Stone. The stated reason? Spears’ sheer bodysuit. The real reason? “It’s an election year, and no one wants to be made an example,” one industry insider told the magazine. Though Spears should be held up as election exhibit A. “Do you realize we landed on Mars that same day? Why isn’t the world talking about that?” Spears said in response to lingering questions about her 48-hour Vegas marriage. Oh Britney dear. At least you could have made a point in our favor instead of rubbing our “civil union” noses in your “marriage.” But that’s too far beyond your belly button to see, ain’t it?Â…

LOVE’S POLITICAL REVOLUTIONÂ… “Whether you are for or against gay marriage is not the issue, it’s just a right. It is my right to choose on whether I want to get married or not,” says singer Pepper MaShay, she of the over-the-top vocals on Barry Harris‘ “Dive in the Pool” hit of a few years ago. Last month MaShay’s publicist Jean McClain distributed an e-mail with the subject “Why Pepper MaShay wants Bush OUT!!!!” In the e-mail, issued before President Bush called for a Congressional amendment banning gay marriage, MaShay explains why she’s fighting for the Democrats to defeat President Bush: “There are people’s rights that are being trampled on. How dare a government look for ways to keep people out,” she says. MaShay’s “I Got My Pride” notwithstanding, the dance song of the moment just has to be “Love Revolution,” which still has dance-floor traction a year after its release, and rightly so. Similarly larger-than-life vocalist Pat Hodge sings on the soul-shaking track, remixed by the gay DJ team Rosabel, “I’m here today to declare a war against hate/I’m asking each and every one of you to come on board before it’s too late.” Request it of the DJ next time you’re outÂ…

BEACH BLANKET BEATSÂ… A week before the best beachy circuit party in gaydom (a.k.a. the Winter Party) hits the Art Deco island paradise, Miami’s South Beach will play host to the biggest gathering in dance music. It’s Winter Music time, when no less than three major dance events happen simultaneously. As it’s name would suggest, the Winter Music Conference is the original event. And its International Dance Music Awards remain the most revered, despite the increasing Hollywood-sized popularity of DanceStar’s American Dance Music Awards. The IDMA largely avoids DanceStar’s glamour and glitz to focus on the craft of creating quality dance music. We’re happiest to see nominations for: The Scumfrog (as Best Remixer and Best Producer); Tiesto (Best Global DJ and Best European DJ); Underworld (Best Dance Artist (Group)); Kristine W. (Best Dance Artist (Solo)); Celia Cruz‘s “Rie y Llora” (Best Latin Dance); Coldplay‘s “Clocks” (Best Alternative Rock Dance); and several nods to Outkast and Murk. But there’s stiff competition in almost all categories. See for yourself atÂ…

ME, MYSELF AND IÂ… Every week Apple’s iTunes Music Store features a “Celebrity Playlist,” where a selected pop music artist compiles a CD or two’s worth of songs that mean something to him. Last week, it was Beyonce‘s turn. Among her 14 tracks were classics from Aretha Franklin, Prince and Donny Hathaway, as well as Mary Mary‘s gospel-funked “Shackles (Praise You),” a popular club tune a couple years ago. John Mayer‘s “Your Body Is a Wonderland” was a bit of a surprise to find on her list, but the biggest surprise was her putting truth to the title of her latest single. “These are some of my favorite songs and they come from very diverse artists,” she writes. Yep, yep, here’s to diversity: Beyonce herself is associated with more than half the tracks assembled. One track comes from her sister Solange; three come from her partners in Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams; another two come from Destiny’s Child itself. And the kicker: she’s got two of her very own tracks listed her, among her favorites. “There are hundreds more songs that I love, but these favorites will stay with me always,” she says. There you have it, an independent woman dangerously in love with me, myself and IÂ…

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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