WHERE THE GRAMMYS DON’T SHINE… The Grammy Awards are always a hit-and-miss ceremony, but every winner is a hit, commercially speaking. How, then, to even begin to discover the gems among the thousands missed by the Grammys every year? The Shortlist Prize for Music is a good place to start. In only its third year, the Shortlist has already established itself as an arbiter of the best of the rest in pop music (albums having sold over 500,000 copies are ineligible for nomination). The revolutionary Icelandic group Sigur Ros won the first prize, and last year’s was claimed by N.E.R.D., the rollicking funk-rock side project of leading hip-hop producers the Neptunes. For the 2003 prize, 86 albums have been nominated by a distinguished panel of twenty of pop music’s latest and greatest, including Chris Martin (Coldplay’s frontman), Erykah Badu, Chemical Brothers, Tori Amos and Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction). The panel will winnow the field to ten nominees early next month and then crown a winner in mid-October. Notable dance music artists nominated this year include New Yorkers Metro Area, the sometimes stunning, sometimes stunted Norwegians Roysksopp, and the Virginia-reared Ethiopian-American Kenna, auspiciously nominated by fellow Virginians the Neptunes. None of them may make it to round two, competing as they are against the likes of Beck, Blur, Common, Ms. Dynamite and especially Radiohead. But you can discover them and bestow your own aural award just the same. See www.shortlistofmusic.com for more informationÂ…
WASHINGTON WIZARDSÂ… First Kenna, then the Neptunes, and we’ve only just begun to cite native Washington-area dance-poppers making musical waves. See also JC Chasez, originally from Bowie, Md., but more famous as one-fifth of N’Sync. Hoping to follow in Justin Timberlake‘s wake, Chasez’s own debut solo album, Schizophrenic (BMG), will be released in October. It should be as dance-oriented as expected, with production from Rodney Jerkins (Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston) and dance artist and fellow Washington-native BT (N’Sync’s Pop). Chasez has also added his vocals to a track on Emotional Technology (Nettwerk), the latest album from Brian "BT" Transeau, whom we like to call a FODD, or high-school Friend of Deep Dish’s Ali Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi. A BT tour is in the works this fall. Meanwhile, Deep Dish’s very first release, 1995’s Penetrate Deeper, will be reissued Sept. 2 on the duo’s current Yoshitoshi label. A combination of remixes and productions from Deep Dish, BT and others, this album, thoroughly marinated in mid-’90s house sounds, offers proof that the duo was up to snuff years before the Grammys were hot on the trailÂ…
BASEMENT BANGINGÂ… Forward-thinking U.K. dance duo Basement Jaxx will release its third studio album Kish Kash (Astralwerks) in late October. And they’ve lined up an eclectic roster of guest stars, from the where-has-she-been-all-this-time Siouxsie Sioux (minus, alas, her ’80s "Peek-a-Boo" backup band The Banshees) to bisexual soul rocker Me’shell Ndegeocello to — yes, there he is again — JC Chasez. Kish Kash follows 2001’s Rooty, with the unforgettable tracks "Where’s Your Head At" and "Get Me Off," and 1999’s Remedy (all on Astralwerks), with "Rendez-vu" and the alarmingly great "Red Alert." Sioux adds her voice to the title track, which Rolling Stone reported is fast and dark. And BBC Radio 1 reported that UK dance/hip-hop artist Dizzee Rascal contributed "mad noises, screaming, shouting" to the first single, "Lucky Star." Let’s hope there’s Jaxx’s usual catchy melody holding it all togetherÂ…
CHER-ING THE LOVE, OVER AND OVERÂ… If you don’t share much love for Cher, the artist is doing all she can to make your world a rather loveless place. Her so-called Farewell Tour, launched last year, has yet to bid adieu in what must be its third life. It will continue to fare well at least through the end of this year, including an Oct. 10 stop at the MCI Center. While her last album of original material, Living Proof (Geffen/Warner Bros.), may have been a commercial disappointment, a greatest-hits package, The Very Best of Cher (Geffen/Warner Bros.), released in April, has more than made up for it, still holding its own in the Billboard Top 20. If you haven’t bought it yet, and take kindly to that notion, you might want to hold off till Tuesday, when a special edition is released in conjunction with a live-performance DVD. The Very Best of Cher: Special Edition (Geffen/Warner Bros.) will include a second disc of 18 live songs recorded at her Miami stop last November, which was televised for her recent NBC concert special. The same 18 tracks form the basis of the DVD, Cher Live: The Farewell Tour (Image Entertainment), so one or the other, but not both, will do most Cher fans just fineÂ…
Doug Rule can be reached at email@example.com.
CAREER SPEARS… Britney Spears and her publicity machine are in overdrive, working to keep her name in the headlines — from now until the end of her career. Of course, that may be only a matter of months, so last week’s prattle about a Spears-guided daytime TV talk show may have been hot air. If it proceeds the talk show wouldn’t begin until late next year. That’s around the same time as Mrs. Gigli (a.k.a. J. Lo) is reportedly considering starting one as well, if her career survives its recent deflated state. Anyway, much like many a boss, Spears would do a spot of work on her talk show, show her face occasionally (but only via videotape) — and take all the credit, likely with her name in the title. (That idea flopped, however, when she launched a New York eatery two years ago.) To make the show a reality, Spears will have to have a hit with her next album, due in the fall. An initial push for it will come right here in D.C., for free — at the annual concert to kick-off football season. Set for Thursday, Sept. 4, on the Mall for broadcast that evening on ABC, Spears will appear with other artists, including one she could certainly learn about career longevity — and talent — from: Mary J. Blige. Blige will be promoting her album, Love & Life (Geffen), produced with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, to be released a week earlier.
Also weighing down on whether Spears will banter on TV: the success of her second stab at movie stardom. Spears will play the daughter of a NASCAR racing driver in Trading Paint. BBC Radio 1 knows of no plans for Spears to sing or race in the film, and couldn’t say when it would be released, though surely sometime next year. In any case, here’s hoping Spears has learned from her fender-bender crash with her first film, Crossroads, or this could be a fatal pileupÂ…
SK8ER BOI, THE MOVIE… Perhaps what Spears needs to hit one more time is find someone to pen another movie, this one with a plot taken from her lyrics. Lyrics such as, "Get it get it, get it get it," and "Baby, don’t you wanna, dance up on me," both from "I’m A Slave 4 U." Before you suggest this is one hair-brained idea and that I’ve lost my marbles, think Avril Lavigne. Spears’ media-made nemesis, the snarly grrl, has licensed her "Sk8er Boi" song lyrics to serve as a plot for a movie. Billboard reports that an ER writer/producer will adapt Lavigne’s words into a feature film for MTV Films. "He was a boy, she was a girl/Can I make it anymore obvious?" Apparently she can. "He was a punk, she did ballet/What more can I say?" Lots, as it turns out. Who said poetry was dead?Â…
DIAL *69 TO DANCE… Peter Rauhofer is Star 69. The vast majority of releases on Rauhofer’s Star 69 Records label are Rauhofer’s own productions, whether under that name or a colorful pseudonym (Size Queen most recently). It’s been his DJ vanity project for four years and as with all vanity projects, a DJ-driven label is only good as its DJ. Rauhofer is a very, very good DJ (he’s currently the resident at the Saturday night gay party of New York’s Roxy nightclub) and is a Grammy-winning remixer, too, but even an award-winning artist benefits from an editor, and sometimes you wonder how much editing of Rauhofer there is at Star 69. He could have used more, a lot more, with hear, his debut chillout CD produced in conjunction with the ultrahip diner Cafeteria in New York and Miami. Maybe he’ll get better with chillout, or downtempo dance music, as time goes on, but hear left us cold.
The last time Rauhofer star-69’ed us on the up-tempo dance music hotline was with the first edition of the two-disc set Live@Roxy compilation this year, with Lve@Roxy2″>>Lve@Roxy2 compel repeated play — on your stereo, at the club, as cocktail chatter. You’ll frequently play back Amuka featuring Sheila Brody‘s "Appreciate Me," one of 2003’s best dance songs, which is just now starting its ascent in clubland. You’ve no doubt already heard Andrea Doria‘s "Bucci Bag," a song custom-made for drag queens — but it’s still fresh and ready-to-rock one month after release. You’ll chuckle every time you hear Kim Cooper rifle through her dictionary on "Unique," an early 1990s tune from Rauhofer, created under his Club 69 moniker. Even with several overplayed songs or uninspired anthems (Moby‘s "In This World," Friburn & Urik‘s "Elefants" dub) firstname.lastname@example.org.