GRAMMY’S ”LOVESTONED” DANCE MOVES… This year’s Grammy Awards may have been dominated by Amy Winehouse singing from rehab (no, no, no: just via satellite from London), as well as Kanye West, even Herbie Hancock. (What?!?) But Justin Timberlake took home the Grammy for Best Dance Recording for the second year in a row. ”LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” may not have gotten as much play as last year’s ”SexyBack,” but you heard it in clubland just the same. Maybe you even loved it a little more?
The Chemical Brothers lost out to Timberlake with nominated single ”Do It Again.” But the British duo did win Best Electronic/Dance Album for We Are The Night, just as they had two years prior with 2005′s Push the Button. For the nod, the duo once again defeated LCD Soundsystem (this year for the fantastic Sound of Silver), as well as the over-hyped Justice (Cross) and the better-known Tiesto (Elements of Life). Maximal-electro master Benny Benassi won the final dance-specific category, a remixer’s award. Italian Benassi, best known for the six-year-old track ”Satisfaction,” won for his remix of Public Enemy‘s rap classic ”Bring the Noise,” which is less noisy than stark. The Italian took the award from a pretty wide-open pool of nominees, though it’s a bit surprising Eric Prydz didn’t win for his mash-up track featuring Pink Floyd‘s ”Proper Education”….
S.O.S. PLEASE, SOMEONE’S MISSING… Based on the Grammy nods, dance in 2007 was dominated by Timberlake, the Chemical Brothers and Benny Benassi. Sound about right to you? Well, there is at least one person missing. Little miss sunshine, Rihanna, were you at? She’ll surely reign at the International Dance Music Awards next month in Miami, but Rihanna was shut out here. Her overplayed yet still charming song of the summer ”Umbrella” wasn’t nominated in either of the two dance singles categories. Out of a total of six nominations, Rihanna had to settle for only one statute, the song’s nod as best Rap/Sung Collaboration, shared with her producer Jay-Z. ”Don’t Stop the Music” lost out to Timberlake as Best Dance Recording. This time next year she could get a nod for her current club hit ”Breaking Dishes” or yet another track to come from the impressive and hit-laden Good Girl Gone Bad. Though by then, the prolific singer will be prepping to release yet another hit-laden album, her fourth in as many years. To think you’d never even heard of the just-turned 20-year-old only three years ago.
Other winners in non-dance categories with special resonance in clubland: Chaka Khan, whose histrionic vocal battle-off with Mary J. Blige ”Disrespectful” — remixes of which were naturally popular in clubs — won for R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals; and Madonna, whose The Confessions Tour was a better club experience than most circuit parties, won best Long Form Music Video in honor of the concert DVD.
Finally, also worth noting is Spring Awakening‘s win for best Musical Show Album, and a Dreamgirls win for best song from a motion picture, for ”Love You I Do,” written by Siedah Garrett and Henry Krieger. After its songs were shut out of last year’s Oscars even with three nominations, this Grammy win is at least some consolation….
BRASSY BASSEY IS BACK… Ladies and gentlemen, in the next few weeks you’ll be hearing more from the only singer to record more than one James Bond theme song. Shirley Bassey, in fact, is for many the singing voice of Bond (”Goldfinger,” ”Diamonds Are Forever,” ”Moonraker”). But she’s not currently set to sing more Bond — instead think Pink, as in the hip-hop-flavored pop star born Alecia Moore. Bassey, who recently turned 71, covers Pink’s ”Get the Party Started” on the title track to her first album in 10 years, due stateside next month. Bassey’s version of Pink’s biggest hit is melodramatic, as you might expect from one of pop music’s most bombastic belters. To hear Bassey sing, with only a hint of humor, ”I can go for miles, if you know what I mean,” is, well, nothing short of silly. Surprisingly, Bassey only laughs once, after she has to sing ”I’ll be burning rubber, you’ll be kissing my ass.” Some will appreciate this — not to mention the exaggerated video — as high camp. But it just doesn’t woo as much as it should for true devotion. Still, it’s no surprise the song is climbing the club chart: Carl Cox does better than anyone could expect at making a flashy remix that actually moves you. Despite your reservations, he gets the party started all right.
Of course there’s more brassy bombast — even more camp — where that came from. Get the Party Started features at least one other cover, this one an over-the-top take on Gloria Gaynor‘s over-the-top disco classic ”I Will Survive.” Hasn’t it been covered enough? The album, according to Billboard, will also feature two new songs, including the hyperbolic ”The Living Tree,” with ”Goldfinger”-esque dramatic orchestration to match Bassey’s shouted lyrics about leaving an oppressive lover. There are also new remixes of several Bassey classics, including ”Big Spender.” Hopefully it won’t be too much of a good thing — or just too much….
ANNIE’S PAVEMENT CRACKS… Once dubbed the ”Greatest White Soul Singer Alive” by VH1, Annie Lennox has now been dumped on like so many soul singers of yore, white or black. Either that, or the 53-year-old singer is stirring up drama to get much-needed attention like so many before her, soul or otherwise.
”They totally ignored me,” The Mirror quoted the former Eurythmics singer referring to her label, Sony BMG. The British tabloid reported that the label wouldn’t respond to her queries in the weeks leading up to the expiration date of her contract. ”It was bizarre, a kick in the teeth,” the Mirror further quoted Lennox, reporting she’d been dumped by Sony.
Apparently, Lennox’s travails are not quite as juicy as it sounds — or maybe the Lennox camp is backtracking after calling the label’s bluff. It’s true that after 25 years, she’s no longer on contract with Sony. And the fact that the label is obviously in no rush to change that state of affairs speaks volumes. Still, Billboard quoted Sony’s U.K. chairman calling the Mirror‘s report ”ludicrous,” gushing about their past and hopeful Lennox will want to work with the label in the future. ”She now has a choice as to whether she wants to continue to work with us in the future. We very much hope that she will.”
”I’m going to take my time over the coming months to figure out what to do with this freedom,” Lennox told the Mirror in its original article, which also reported she plans to sell off some of her possessions on eBay for charity. Lennox’s camp later suggested to Billboard her quotes to the Mirror ”had been taken out of context” — adding yet more mystery.
Whatever else happens, hopefully Lennox will manage to stir up more attention to last year’s Songs of Mass Destruction. Our vote as her most accomplished album yet, the set didn’t detonate with much force, either in her homeland or here — though selling a quarter-of-a-million copies isn’t exactly terrible in today’s down music market. Also, even with an all-star backing lineup and a phenomenal remix from Harry ”Choo-Choo” Romero, her anti-AIDS-benefiting single ”Sing” barely dented the Top 20 of Billboard‘s Club Play chart, much less any other charts. ”What won’t kill you will make you strong,” Lennox sings in the song. Here’s to something strong coming from this….
SHOW ME NEW LOVE… A decade ago there was a Swedish singer who registered as a cross of sorts between Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Remember Robyn? ”Show me love, show me life, baby show me what it’s all about,” she pleaded in her biggest hit, written by Britney’s Swedish hitmaker Max Martin. The song went all the way to the top of the pop charts. Robyn was only 17 at the time, but unlike Britney, she took a break from the spotlight and grew up. And look at that, here she is, as cute as ever, but definitely an adult.
”Give me something illicit — like that would get you in trouble or something,” Robyn asks her drum machine for a dirty snare beat as ”Konichiwa Bitches” opens. And she gets trouble in spades on this sassy but sweet track that finds her rapping about her prowess. Robyn’s already chalked up renewing interest in Europe, and her label is working hard to make it happen stateside, too. One listen to her just-released The Rakamonie EP and you’ll be ready to hear her self-titled full album, expected in the spring. The EP ends with ”Jack U Off,” Robyn’s cover of a Prince song that’s decidedly not teen pop, especially considering she doesn’t change the feminine pronouns….
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?… Dazzling Danish dance producer Trentemoller gave Robyn some recent dancefloor traction through his bombastic remix of ”Konichiwa Bitches,” which you can hear on his overlooked two-disc Trentemoller Chronicles, released last fall. His remix of Robyn is a standout track, but only one of many. Trentemoller is probably the best purveyor of minimal electro house, which is all-the-rage right now — unlike so many others he never loses sight of the need for melody or the central reason there’s dance music in the first place: to, um, dance. His two-year-old take on RÃ¶yksopp‘s ”What Else Is There?” remains one of the very best electro-tipped remixes around. It’s all just surprising how sharp but little known stateside the rest of the set’s 22 remixes and productions are. It hasn’t helped that Trentemoller has only done limited touring this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps that will change with the release in March of a new single, ”Miss You”….
DON’T GO, AGAIN… Vince Clarke, the lesser-known and straight half of Erasure, took a break from the band a couple years back to have a baby. Now, he’s taking another break for an even better reason: to re-team with Alison Moyet. More than 25 years after calling it quits as the duo Yaz (Yazoo in the U.K.), the duo is reuniting for a series of still-to-be-announced shows in the U.S. this summer, Billboard reports, in advance of the May release of a four-disc collection of remasters, remixes, B-sides and a DVD. Yaz hit big in the early ’80s with ”Don’t Go” and ”Only You”….