YOKO ONO’S PEACE DANCE… In a world coming increasingly unmoored, pleas for peace may seem naÃ¯ve, but they’re also very necessary. Just as she did five years ago in the earliest phase of the Iraq War, Yoko Ono recently released remixes of the anti-war anthem that her former husband John Lennon wrote and popularized, ”Give Peace A Chance.” This time, however, the occasion is to commemorate the song’s 39th anniversary — and apparently to put things in motion for a huge 40th celebration next year. A few weeks ago, Ono took the single all the way to the top of the dance chart, Madonna bumping Madonna from her perch. Ono has now had four dance chart-toppers in just the past five years, including the environmentally conscious ”Walking on Thin Ice” and the pro-gay marriage ”Everyman/Everywoman.” All new remixes of ”Give Peace A Chance” are available from music download sites. D.C.’s own Rich Morel produced a jaunty mix, and those from Dave Aude, Mike Cruz and Johnny Vicious are, hmmm, dancefloor detonators. But Double B produces the remix with the surest-fire ability to get you to dance and think, adding mournful instrumentation and wild, chugging rhythms in reaction to Ono’s call to action….
ANNIE LENNOX BACKS PEACE… In addition to her re-released single and other activities, Ono is promoting the nonprofit Peace Alliance on her Web site, ImaginePeace.com. The Alliance is collecting signatures for its ”I Stand for Peace” petition, which calls on Congress to create a Department of Peace. The petition will be presented to Congress on Sept. 11. Meanwhile, September 21 has been designated Peace Day, and again this year a Peace Day Concert will take place in London. A second concert was also scheduled in New York, but was cancelled after Annie Lennox had to back out as headline performer.
According to an Aug. 18 notice, Lennox is recuperating after having had spinal surgery to release an impinged nerve. She is expected to make a speedy recovery, and at the moment is still scheduled to appear at the London Peace Day Concert alongside Bryan Adams and John Legend. But the first-ever retrospective of the Eurythmics singer’s solo work, originally set for release Sept. 16, has now been postponed until next Spring. The Annie Lennox Collection includes all her hits from her four solo albums, from Diva to last year’s brilliant Songs of Mass Destruction, including the hits ”Why,” ”Walking on Broken Glass,” ”No More ‘I Love You’s”’ and ”A Thousand Beautiful Things.” It will also include two new songs, Lennox’s interpretations of songs originally performed by the bands Keane and Ash. She explained to Billboard that she’s so busy as an international AIDS activist these days she hasn’t had time to write her own new songs. And given that she no longer has a recording contract, it’s not clear when, or even if, she’ll write new songs again. ”There’s all kinds of possibilities ahead of me,” she told Billboard. ”I have a real interest in how to communicate with people via the Internet as a more broadly multi-dimensional artist and communicator”….
THE CANCER GIRLS… Last year, Annie Lennox corralled 23 female pop singers to record ”Sing,” the song she created to raise funds for AIDS in Africa. With that as a model, a group of 15 female pop stars have now recorded a new song to benefit cancer research. Fergie and Melissa Etheridge will do the same this time as they did for Lennox, this time singing for organizing producer Antonio ”L.A.” Reid, who teamed up with his longtime production partner Kenneth ”Babyface” Edmonds for the project. Beyonce, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis and Carrie Underwood are also on tap for ”Just Stand Up.” The single will be released Sept. 2, and then all 15 mega-stars will overfill the stage during the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Sept. 5 ”Stand Up to Cancer” television special set to air simultaneously on ABC, NBC and CBS. All sales of the star-studded single will benefit cancer research….
BRITNEY SAYS GIMME MORE… Britney Spears is not on tap for either the peace or the cancer causes, which isn’t a surprise, of course. But Spears is likely to make a surprise appearance at MTV’s VMA Awards Sunday, Sept. 7 — and that’s about as surprising as you can get. Last year’s MTV show was the scene of the crime, after all: It’s where Spears turned out her worst performance ever, a spectacle that helped fuel her overly publicized meltdown. Rumors are that she’s looking fit and fresh this time around, so lightning might not strike twice. Will she perform a teaser or even a song to come from her new album? Well, Billboard reports it won’t be ready until Spring at the earliest, so probably not. But Spears is hard at work on the set, which she’s said elsewhere is shaping up as ”my best work ever” and more urban than last year’s dance-oriented and underappreciated Blackout. But if you want more Spears, more Spears you can get: This Friday, Aug. 29, Town is hosting a video battle between Spears and her one-time fling, Justin Timberlake — and the audience votes on the winner. And then, two nights before the VMAs, Friday, Sept. 5, Apex will bring in local DJ Timothy Mykael, who is planning an ”OMG — It’s Britney Bitch! Party” that night. More, more, mo-mo-mo-more….
BURNING UP HER BIRTHDAY CAKE… How many times in one year can gay bars celebrate Madonna? In fairness, it’s not every year the Sticky and Sweet star releases a new album. And it’s not every year she turns 50. That’s right, you might not know it from her ”new new face,” the surgically enhanced visage dissected in last week’s New York magazine, but Madonna will be half-century old this Saturday. Where’s the party? To paraphrase old (that is, young) Madonna, Town, if you can dance, or JR.’s, for inspiration. Actually, if you ask nicely, you can probably get into the groove almost anywhere….
GIVE IT AND SHAKE IT… If you’re lucky, while you’re out celebrating you’ll hear Jody den Broeder‘s remix of Madonna’s 39th No. 1 dance hit, ”Give It 2 Me.” Tony Moran played it last Saturday at Town during his impressively banging debut at the club. Apparently her label’s promotion of the original song, fantastic on its own, is partly to blame for the fact that it’s gotten minimal radio play and only reached No. 57 on the pop chart. Warner Bros. inexplicably waited nearly two months to release the song after it actually reached its chart peak, a feat it achieved the very week it debuted on the chart. And the label hasn’t done much to promote it since its delayed release last month. Good thing she’s moving on from Warner Bros. Now, according to an unsubstantiated note on Wikipedia, the label is preparing to release the song ”Heartbeat” as the third single to come from Hard Candy.
Until that happens, though, savor den Broeder’s ”Give It 2 Me” remix, hard and pulsing like a heartbeat. It’s remarkably different from most of what we’ve heard previously from den Broeder, who got his start with Thunderpuss. (Remember when Chris Cox and Barry Harris turned clubland upside down with their bombastic remixes under that name?) Den Broeder has most recently collaborated on remixes and productions with Ralphi Rosario and Tony Moran, though he branched out as a solo star last year remixing Rihanna, from ”Umbrella” to ”Don’t Stop The Music” to her latest, ”Disturbia.” Like Moran, den Broeder’s sound seems to be getting progressively harder; he certainly pulled out all the stops for Madonna. To paraphrase her again, he gives you the bass line, and you’ll shake it….
DANCING FOR THE OLYMPICS… Sarah Brightman and Chinese pop star Liu Huan unveiled the official theme song of the Beijing Olympics during last Friday’s stunning Opening Ceremonies, singing from the top of a 16-ton globe. But you’ve probably already forgotten about the treacly ”You and Me,” or at least you want to. What else is there? Well, dance label Ultra Records has teamed up with Coca-Cola to release eight songs from artists on its roster, essentially running the dance-music gamut, from techno to trance to soul house to dance-pop. Graphic artists in China were also tapped to design eight Coke bottles for this We8 project, focused on eight core Olympic themes, including harmony, collaboration, perseverance and happiness. You can see the designs and download all eight tracks through www.ultrarecords.com/we8. Did we mention all eight are available for free?
Among those contributing to the project is the world’s most popular DJ, Tiesto, who actually spun during the Opening Ceremonies at the Athens Olympics in 2004. ”Global Harmony” is an instrumental trance track that’s typical Tiesto through and through. A singer often featured on Tiesto’s productions, Jes simply re-jiggered a song, ”You and Me Belong,” from last year’s debut solo album Disconnected. She rechristened the track ”Be It All” and altered lyrics to reflect Olympic-sized positivity.
Jamaican newcomer Cezar sings a cute Bob Sinclar-style, reggae-informed song, ”Keep On.” Meanwhile, three other vocalists in the project go completely unmentioned — an insidious dance music practice that shows no sign of ending. There’s ”Peace on Earth,” which is clearly not sung by the DJ/producer behind it, Serge Devant, since the singer is a soprano — and Devant, by all accounts, is a man. Maybe it’s trance singer Jan Johnston, who Devant has worked with in the past? Maybe, but we have not been able to verify that. Also unclear is whether Jay-J‘s soul-house ditty ”Happiness” — obviously sung by a woman, but credited solely to him — is sung by Latrice Barnett. It sounds like her and she is one of his most frequent vocalists. But you would think she, at least, would mention it on her Web site. She doesn’t.
Perhaps the best track comes from San Francisco’s Kaskade. But who sings ”Beautiful World?” Kaskade, the pseudonym of Ryan Raddon, is not a singer. After much digging — Why don’t singers raise more of a fuss with all of the lack of recognition? — we finally figured out at least this puzzle. It’s Marcus Bently, an indie pop singer from Utah who has a crisp, keen voice somewhat reminiscent of Coldplay‘s Chris Martin. Here’s hoping we hear more from him — and that we’ll know it when we do. Devant, Kaskade, Jay-J and all the rest: Enough already. Stop confusing us by slighting singers and taking all the credit….