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DANCING WITH THE OLYMPICS… This weekend is Super Bowl Sunday, but with the Rolling Stones strutting around instead of Janet Jackson showing off, a dance-pop music fan would do better to hold out for later shows in February, including one the Wednesday after the Super Bowl. That’s when nearly every music star you can think of will either perform or pontificate (or both) as part of the 48th Annual Grammys, pop music’s biggest night of the year.
Two days later, on Feb. 10, things get even better. That’s when the XX Olympic Winter Games begin in Torino, Italy. Besides gymnastics, figure skating and the many other winter sports with great gay appeal, this year’s edition will feature evening performances at post-medal ceremonies from the likes of Whitney Houston (Will she actually show? And will Bobby try to weasel in on the action?), Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Duran Duran and Anastacia. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli has written the requisite overdone Winter Games anthem, ”Because We Believe,” and Richie Hawtin has composed music for the Opening Ceremonies.
Hawtin is an England-born, Canada-raised and Germany-residing electronica producer and DJ with growing adoration among hardcore techno heads but with very limited crossover appeal to the mainstream, or even dance-pop devotees. Also known as Plastikman, musically he’s on the opposite end of the electronica spectrum from the world’s most popular DJ, Tiesto, who composed opening-ceremony music for the Athens Olympics. So it’s factually accurate to say Hawtin is to winter as Tiesto was to summer. And that succinctly captures the sonic difference between the two: whereas Tiesto creates dramatic music built for speed and rising temperatures, Hawtin, at least judging from his inventive, technologically advanced recent album, DE9 Transitions, creates subtly shifting minimal music built for endurance and controlled climates. For the Olympics, Hawtin has created a composition titled ”9:20” to accompany choreography from a group of Italian dancers, performers and acrobats. Expect it to be abstract, avant-garde and possibly, if we’re lucky, entertaining….
MISSY ELLIOTT HITS THE GYM(NASTICS)… She’s not scheduled to perform at the Winter Olympics, but you’re likely to first notice Missy Elliott‘s latest video during the two-week run of the competition. The video to ”We Run This,” set to debut this month, features Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes in a cameo as Elliott’s gymnastics coach, according to Billboard. And it’s supposedly as wild and wacky as her wonderful Grammy-nominated video ”Lose Control,” featuring a balance beam in the sky and uneven bars in a basement laundry room, among other scenes. ”It’s crazy,” Elliott told Billboard. ”When it comes to uptempo records, I always get creative”….
SASHA & DIGWEED ON DVD… While Richie Hawtin is the international DJ of the moment, especially since it’s unusually quiet right now on the Tiesto front, it’s the continued relevance of Sasha & Digweed that’s the biggest news. The most popular DJ duo during last decade’s rave culture, the British Sasha & Digweed team may no longer in fact be a team, spinning together, but now you can almost pretend otherwise, with next Tuesday’s release of Sasha & John Digweed Present Delta Heavy. The concert DVD commemorates the duo’s Clear Channel-sponsored 2002 tour of 31 large nightclubs across America. It also includes many of the most popular tracks played during the tour, including original music from Sasha and from Digweed, recorded as Bedrock. Like most concert DVDs, it’s most appreciated by fans of the act and especially by those who caught the tour; most everyone else will find it a bit boring and indulgent. It’s only so exciting to sit as you watch shots of very excited concertgoers jumping up and down with the beat and stage-diving into the crowd. You kinda had to be there….
SASHA IN WASHINGTON… Now that he’s a solo DJ, Sasha, born Alexandar Coe, has made D.C. one of only four U.S. cities where he’ll appear for a bimonthly residency. His stop in D.C. as part of his national Fundacion tour last year was one of his favorites, he reports, so he’ll return to spin at Glow Nightclub this Saturday, Feb. 4 and then again April 1 and June 10. It’s not just a typical DJ night, and not just because Sasha’s brand of dance music is slower and more rock-influenced than most of his contemporaries. Sasha also spins using all-digital equipment — be gone, LPs and CDs — that he, being something of a tech geek, designed himself. It allows him to manipulate music on the fly and with great precision to an unprecedented degree, and you can get a taste of how different it sounds from other DJ nights by listening to last year’s mixed set Fundacion. He created this brooding set completely by using his Maven digital controller….
OAKENFOLD RETURNS TOO… Finally, another one of the world’s most popular DJs, the also British Paul Oakenfold, will release his next artist album A Lively Mind in April. Oakenfold has always been more committed to making uptempo pop, with hip-hop undertones, than actual dance music, and this set, four years after his commercially successful Bunkka, should be no different. He’s recruited singer/actress Brittany Murphy to add vocals to a track called ”Faster Kill Pussycat,” and the Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams and Grandmaster Flash to add raps on other tracks. And Oakenfold, Billboard reports, will also tour in support of the album….
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