Sunday, April 30, 2017

What's so hot about the Hot 100? (chart week of May 6, 2017)

In 1987, I obsessively listened to the radio and probably could easily have identified about 80 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. But it's not 1987 anymore …

Here's the first of an occasional stroll through the nation's definitive music chart to see if there is any crossover with my current rolling chart and to see what snark might emerge:

#1 Humble. by Kendrick Lamar // Another chart-topper that I've never heard …

#2 Shape of You by Ed Sheeran // There's something about the combination of Ed Sheeran's voice and enunciation that grates. Plus, this seems almost intentionally derivative of Justin Bieber's much superior "Sorry."

#11 Body Like a Back Road by Sam Hunt // I haven't heard it and can only imagine how atrocious this song must be, but there's no denying the cleverness of the title.

#22 Sign of the Times by Harry Styles // An 18-point drop in week two? Ouch. It's a pretty good and mature effort that is poised to reach my chart, though. I just hope he knew there is already a classic "Sign of the Times."

#31 Love on the Brain by Rihanna // A close call, as this one sits just outside my own top 100. I gave it a few spins because it sounded interesting, but then it suddenly didn't seem as interesting, and I'd like people to quit using "bae." It's even more obnoxious than "shawty." Getting back to Rihanna, it's impressive that she can still get this many singles deep into an album campaign.

#39 The Cure by Lady Gaga // Crossover! This surprise single sits at #75 on my own chart, and I haven't yet decided if I really like it. What I do know with certainty is I didn't like the direction of Joanne, although I don't begrudge her the urge to do something different.

#69 Any Ol' Barstool by Jason Aldean // I once did a phone interview with this guy to promote a small-town concert in a time before he had such a long list of hits. I'm sure he doesn't remember it, and I barely do.

So, Gaga's new single is the only instance of crossover between my chart (which includes many non-current tunes) and the Hot 100. Currently #1 on my chart is "Move Your Body" by Sia, her sixth chart-topper if we include the David Guetta collaboration "Titanium." And I say we shall.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Albums resequenced: Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night

Since Fleetwood Mac's 1987 classic Tango in the Night finally got the "super deluxe" treatment, I've been having fun creating my own alternate version of the album, which is one of my favorite things to do with good music. I've always enjoyed good remixes and alternate versions, and I love to plug them into the album. 

Thanks to a generous amount of material, we are able to replace all but three Tango album tracks ("Caroline," "Welcome to the Room... Sara" and "When Will I See You Again") with either a demo, an alternate version or a dance remix, while also extending the track listing with B-sides and demos of songs that didn't get released. For those remaining three tracks, we at least have the new remasters, although I'll reserve judgment on the merits of those results. As for the remixes, the treatments of "Little Lies" and "Everywhere" are among the best of their type from the late '80s, with excellent embellishments — would have been nice to get remix/edits of those as we did for "Big Love." The b-sides and demos are, by and large, fun additions.

For my alternate version, I've excised my least favorite track from the album, "When I See You Again," and added the best of the extras. I've made the instrumental demo of "Mystified" the album opener. It's got a wonderfully creepy vibe; it sounds like it should play in a scene of a movie like The Wicker Man or The Stepford Wives.

Here's my track listing, with a total run time of 1 hour, 19 minutes:

Mystified (Instrumental Demo)
Down Endless Street (B-side of "Family Man")
Big Love (Remix/Edit)
Seven Wonders (Early Version)
Everywhere (12" Version)
Special Kind of Love (Demo)
Tango in the Night (Demo)
Mystified (Alternate Version)
Little Lies (Extended Version)
Ooh My Love (Demo)
Family Man (Extended Guitar Version)
Welcome to the Room... Sara
Isn't It Midnight (Alternate Mix)
You and I, Part II (Full Version)
Book of Miracles (Instrumental)
Where We Belong (Demo)
Ricky (B-side of "Little Lies")