MADONNA’S NEW MARRIAGE… Maybe Madonna will finally come back to D.C. with her next tour, since George W. Bush will no longer be president — apparently the reason she hasn’t stopped here since 2001’s Drowned World Tour. Chances will be greater if Barack Obama wins, of course. But for now, the only way to see her eighth worldwide show, the Sticky and Sweet Tour, is to either travel or wait for it on DVD. No word on when that will happen, but since the tour doesn’t wrap until December in Brazil, it likely won’t be until early next year at the earliest.
When you do get a chance to see it, chances are you’ll fall for her mashed-up recreation of ”Like A Prayer” — and chances are you’ll soon be hearing it in clubland, too. ”It feels like; It feels like; It feels like home,” Dino Lenny sings, as Madonna replies, ”Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there.” Dino who? Actually, ”Feels Like Home” is a European dance hit from last year credited to Meck, the alias of DJ Craig Dimech, a behind-the-scenes player in British dance music. He worked with the Italian Lenny, who has a wonderfully haunting voice reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, to fashion what has become his first international hit, the raw basis of which comes from a 16-year-old house hit, Felix‘s ”Don’t You Want Me.”
So in marrying ”Feels Like Home” with ”Like A Prayer,” Madonna not only recreated for today’s dancefloor one of her best older songs. She also once again spotlighted a budding act worthy of more attention. Ready? Meck is. The follow-up single ”So Strong” is fantastic, and it serves as Dimech’s M.O. as well as a promise. ”And I feel so strong, if nothing goes wrong, I’ll pay back tomorrow,” Lenny seems to be singing, based on what I can make of the lyrics. ”Stay right back, ’cause it’s taking on the dance floor!” And it will. Dimech works those intense high-church, pipe-organ style synths that trance gave us (think Faithless‘ ”Insomnia”). Actually, Dimech samples heavily from this year’s club hit ”Hold That Sucker Down,” a serviceable number from David Vendetta/QT Quartet that you wanted to like more than you did. Meck’s ”So Strong” original hits with Nine Inch Nails-esque force, while the Inpetto‘s remix is a fascinating rework that’ll floor you….
GOOD CHARLOTTE’S GREATEST DANCING… Joel Madden may be known to tabloid readers as Mr. Nicole Richie, but with his identical twin brother Benji, he’s also a power-pop fixture, fronting the band Good Charlotte. This Waldorf, Md.-grown five-piece was named after a children’s book, and has been very much focused on creating ”anthems” in its seven years of operation. (”This is the anthem, throw all your hands up.”) Now, they think they can create club-burners that’ll make us shuffle our feet — and they’re doing it in lieu of actually issuing a greatest-hits set. Due just in time for Christmas and holiday shopping – Nov. 25 – The Greatest Remixes will feature remixes and reworks of hits including ”Little Things,” ”Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” ”I Just Wanna Live,” and, of course, ”The Anthem” and ”I Don’t Wanna Be in Love (Dance Floor Anthem).” Members of Fall Out Boy and Linkin Park’s Joseph Hahn are among those on tap to do the remixing deeds, as are club notables such as Junior Sanchez and Metro Station. Billboard reports that in conjunction with the set’s release the Madden brothers will DJ a series of parties. Of course they will….
HOT CHIP, NEW AND REMADE… Hot Chip will also next month release a collection of remixes of songs taken from its third album Made in the Dark. Cute as ever, the quirky synth-pop band known for clever lyrics and catchy music (”Over and Over,” ”Don’t Dance”) will brand this set Remade in the Dark. Billboard reported few other details about the set, except to note that it will be released in November and that it will feature brand-new mixes of tracks ”We’re Looking for a Lot of Love” and ”Whistle for Will.” Instead, Billboard provided a laundry list of work the prolific band’s got going on, including the fact that it plans to release a follow-up full-length album to Made in the Dark early next year — or just one year later. Apparently, they’re already recorded half of the set. ”Made in the Dark felt bold, but for me it was all over the place. This next one…won’t have an A-side and a B-side. It will be much more mid-paced, like a Fleetwood Mac album,” the magazine quoted the band’s Joe Goddard. Up until now, the goofy Brits just kept getting more energetic and more club-oriented with each album. Guess they’re looking for a mid-paced correction….
OBAMA POP… The pop stars are coming out loud, proud and in droves for Barack Obama. Of course, that’s not really news. It’d be news if anyone you knew and listened to created songs or planned concerts for John McCain. Instead, McCain’s camp has taken heat from Heart and Foo Fighters for using their songs at events. Jackson Browne even sued to force the McCain campaign to stop playing his song ”Running on Empty.”
No such bad news for Obama. Artists are lining up to compose and campaign for him. Even Boy George has surfaced in the cause. He may have been kept away from touring America this summer due to visa issues, but the Brit is still keen on our country — or at least Obama. The gay Culture Club singer has created his own tune honoring the candidate. ”Yes We Can” isn’t nearly as inspiring as the message. But electronic music magazine Big Shot reports Pete Heller and Tom ”Superchumbo” Stephan have both turned in remixes, so there’s still hope.
D.C.-native Rachel Panay has released an optimistic dance-shouter ”Change is Just Around the Corner.” Techno veterans Crystal Method have reworked its 18-year-old song ”Now is the Time,” which they say was inspired by civil rights speeches, this time including a sample of Obama saying as much. And then of course there’s the official compilation — does McCain have an official campaign compilation? If he does, it surely doesn’t feature Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, John Legend, Sheryl Crow and other pop A-listers, as Obama’s does. Available on the Obama website, Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement costs $24.99 as a digital download or $30 for a physical disc.
Meanwhile, the Beastie Boys have organized a Get Out and Vote mini-tour, stopping in Richmond on Oct. 28 with Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Santagold. Electro-rock oddbirds Devo will put on a rare show this Friday, Oct. 17, in its original hometown of Akron, Ohio to support the local Democratic party. Meanwhile, John Legend will perform at an Obama concert tonight, Thursday, Oct. 16, at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York alongside Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel – reportedly the first time those two have ever performed together….
THE WITCHES OF NEW YORK… The weekend before you vote, of course, is Halloween. There’s plenty of dress-up-and-dance options right here in D.C. — and this year the actual date is on a Friday, no less. But if you can find your way to New York, you’d be in for a real treat (and if you’re lucky, a trick too) that Saturday, Nov. 1, the Day of the Dead. The Springsteen and the Joel of gay clubland, you might say, are also performing together for the first time. Junior Vasquez and Peter Rauhofer will spin Saturday into Sunday at Roseland Ballroom, site of the notorious Black Party. The Saint-At-Large puts on that annual extravaganza, and they’re also producing this Day of the Dead party, just as the original Saint nightclub used to do in the ’80s. And just as with the Black Party, dressing-up is encouraged — dancing is required — at this party, dubbed Salem. It’ll be a gay witch-hunt for sure….
THIN WHITE KILLERS… After an audacious attempt to become the next Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with 2006’s epic arena rock album Sam’s Town, The Killers, with its new Day & Age, are reportedly headed in a more David Bowie direction. Let’s dance! Due next month, the new set finds the Utah foursome paired with one of electronic music’s best producers Stuart Price, responsible for Madonna‘s Confessions on a Dance Floor and for much of the dance-rock you’ve probably liked over the past few years – though you may know the Brit better by the silly faux-French pseudonym Jacques Lu Cont. Or by Thin White Duke, Bowie’s own nickname that Price has adopted for remixes in homage. Price also produced Seal‘s album System last year – probably Seal’s best yet, though it was his worst in terms of sales. So hopefully Day & Age will fare better.
The Killers’ first single ”Human” is as club-ready as you’d hope – it’s marked by a kind of nervous energy, as one nears a state of bliss – but the lyrics are as inscrutable as you expect from the Killers’ Brandon Flowers. ”Are we human or are we dancers?” Flowers sings. Even if he says ”denser,” as some in blogland have suggested, it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher. Billboard reports there’s more where those lyrics came from, while it also noted the Bowie, Duran Duran, even Queen – did someone say British? – influences on Day & Age, set for release Nov. 25….
MORE FAST FASHION… Though still in the early stages of production, Depeche Mode plans to release its 12th studio album next spring. The untitled set is to be produced by Ben Hiller, the same man responsible for 2005’s Playing the Angel, which was nowhere near the pleasure, little treasure of early Mode, but certainly its best in more than a decade. It was also the first to feature writing by lead singer Dave Gahan. He’ll repeat the feat here on at least two tracks, Gahan reported to Billboard. The band will support the set, due in April, on a ”Tour of the Universe,” hitting the U.S. next summer, dates to be determined….
TAKE ME OUT FOR MORE FRANZ… Franz Ferdinand was another band rocking for Obama at a ”Barack Rock” event in New York. Yes, the band is Scottish, but, as they say, we are the world. Last week, lucky fans at a ”secret” concert in Brooklyn got to hear several songs from the band’s next album and the first in nearly four years, now expected in January. Named for the Austro-Hungarian Archduke who helped provoke the first World War, the Scottish foursome helped provoke the dance-rock genre – think The Killers and especially Scissor Sisters – when it emerged on the scene in 2004, wining the U.K.’s prestigious Mercury Prize and giving us the songs ”Take Me Out” and the homoerotic ”Michael.” The next year FF released You Could Have It So Much Better and ”Do You Want To.” Now, the band has finally wrapped production on the follow-up, to be called Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Billboard reports the new set is funkier and more R&B-influenced than the past output. The band’s Alex Kapranos had said previously the aim was for a ”dirty pop” record, gritty and edgy but still primed for dancing, and he told the British Independent newspaper that Africa and African rhythms are clear influences. ”The last record was…like a teenager having sex. This one’s a bit more assured and a bit friendlier for the dance floor,” he said….