Annie Lennox: Little Bird
ANNIE LENNOX’S ‘MASS’ APPEAL… Annie Lennox will finally return this fall after a four-year absence. This time out, Lennox has teamed with producer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette‘s breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill), and Ballard says the album is ”very intense” and ”very personal to her.” It’s got a title to match. Songs of Mass Destruction is due Oct. 2, according to Billboard, and it will feature a song, ”Sing,” inspired by Lennox’s work with Nelson Mandela in the global AIDS fight. But besides the fact that it’s a new Lennox album — cause enough to celebrate, because you know it’ll be great — the most exciting aspect is the all-star roster of divas who have contributed to that song, including Sarah McLachlan, Gladys Knight, Melissa Etheridge, Fergie, Shakira and Celine Dion. Oh, and we almost forgot, Madonna. Sounds like the set will do some serious damage….
DESPERATELY SEEKING, BLONDIE?… Speaking of forgetting, the low-budget film that helped make Madonna a star is being recast as a musical. Desperately Seeking Susan will open on London’s West End in October and will feature songs from — no, not the now nearly half-centenarian, oddly enough. But Blondie. ”Heart of Glass,” ”Atomic,” ”One Way or Another,” ”Dreaming” and ”The Tide Is High” will feature into the show along with a new composition from Blondie’s main blondie, Debbie Harry. If it’s a hit, the show could transfer to Broadway….
DANCING SEAL… It seems many artists are returning this fall to dance — and it’s making us hopeful that dance music beyond hip-hop will gain some newfound attention after years of mostly mainstream neglect. There’s Madonna’s expected return, of course. And then there’s Britney’s, too. And J-Lo. Is your excitement waning? Well, perk up, ’cause there are more and better ones to come.
”Over the years I’ve somehow become more known for my ballads, which I also love doing, but dance music has always been close to my heart.” That’s Seal talking, the British singer known for overwrought and way-overplayed power ballads. But four years after his last full-length and two years after becoming Mr. Heidi Klum, Seal will in November release System, which was co-produced by Stuart Price, aka Grammy-winning dance remixer-extraordinnaire Jacques Lu Cont, Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor mastermind. How cool is that? Billboard reports Price has added his touch to a couple upbeat tracks on the album, due Nov. 20, which Seal went on to describe as ”turning out to be much of a dance record. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do seeing as most will say that dance is my background.” His singing career was launched 17 years ago with the track ”Killer,” a hit in nightclubs then and 15 years later, when special, slamming anniversary remixes were commissioned by the likes of D.C.’s own Morel, Peter Rauhofer and others. To paraphrase that seminal track, yes Seal, there is still a part of us that wants to live, give — and dance….
DEPECHE’S DAVE GAHAN DANCES… It’s not clear how much it will venture into dance territory, but at least Dave Gahan, lead singer of Depeche Mode, says his second solo set, due in October, is more electronic-sounding than his forgettable four-year-old debut Paper Monsters. Hourglass, Gahan has said, features songs with acoustic instrumentation manipulated by computer but not so much as to lose their rough, rock edges. That makes it sound very much like Paper Monsters, which suffered from too few songs with smooth, memorable melodies and too many that were bitter and slow-moving. The hourglass isn’t a very exciting or fast-moving motif, and some of the track titles aren’t too promising either (”Endless,” ”21 Days,” ”Love Will Leave”). Don’t be surprised if he lets us down again….
Underword: Two Months Off
UNDERWORLD RISES TO DANCE AGAIN… Nearly five years after Underworld brought light in to clubs with its fantastic sweet and storming ”Two Months Off,” the British duo will finally return to try again. First single ”Crocodile” isn’t as magical as that mind-blower, but it is pretty and propulsive, densely layered pop that makes you move and think warm thoughts. What more do you need? And it comes from an album with a promising title: Oblivion with Bells. The duo of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith sought out advice from famous friends who know something about pop music in narrowing down 200 possible tracks for the album to just 11 — friends like longtime super-producer Brian Eno and U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. A preview of the set, due in October, reveals it to be altogether more cohesive than 2002’s One Hundred Days Off. The new set features some particularly riveting pieces of smart dance-pop that rarely get too cerebral to become pretentious or even boring as did much of the recent digital-only releases from the duo, who also recently wrote arty film scores for Anthony Mingellas‘ Breaking and Entering and Danny Boyles‘ Sunshine. (The duo gained much attention a decade ago through Boyles’ Trainspotting, which prominently featured the duo’s trippy, trancey ”Born Slippy (Nuxx).”) On Oblivion with Bells, subtly shifting sonics go from sweet or somber pop and rock to banging but beautiful and lush house and techno. Often before you realize it, you’re on your feet….